Monday, June 30, 2014

Using Xara Web Designer to create your art web site

I just finished uploading my redesigned art web site. I had used Microsoft Publisher since 2001 to create my web sites because I am not an html coder and wanted something that worked like a print page-layout program. I had used Publisher for print publications for years before that. Publisher fit the bill for website creation, too. But, with their 2010 release, Microsoft ended the website-creation feature. They touted Web Expressions as a substitute. It was designed for professional web developers, not for someone like me, so I continued to use my 2007 Publisher version, but knew that it was just a matter of time before its html technology became obsolete.
I have been researching website-creation software ever since 2010. None of them had the features Publisher had as far as what I deemed as important and what was as easy to use. I wanted software that resided on my computer, too, not a service that was web based. Those are always too slow and clunky, in my experience. I finally found what, for me, is the perfect program: Xara Web Designer 10. It has a lot of similarities to how Publisher worked, but it is technically up to date and has way more features. Because of my experience with Publisher, the learning curve for Xara Web Designer was less for me, though I still have a lot to learn about its myriad features. My newly redesigned art web site has functions I could only dream of creating with Publisher. I started out using one of the included free templates, and then customized it. Check out my website by clicking on the image below. One of the best features was one that all artists need: a good image display function. When you click on the thumbnails on each of my artwork-category pages, they enlarge automatically and display information about each work. 
I can now put Microsoft Publisher to bed for good. It was great at the time, but Xara has saved the day. Now on to redoing my handpainted jewelry web site and my portraits web site.
Home page for, designed using Xara Web Designer 10


Sunday, June 29, 2014

This artist knows how to make a dollar using a dollar!

There was a very interesting story this morning on the "CBS This Morning" show about artist Mark Wagner, who uses crisp, new dollar bills to create intricate collages. He cuts the dollars up into small pieces and makes fabulous, complex images from them. If there is a human figure in any collage, it always has the face of George Washington. If there are multiple figures, they all have George Washington's face. Really fascinating work. He is quite successful; his original works sell in the tens of thousands of dollars range. Check out his web site. I've linked to his flora and fauna page.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Words of wisdom from artist John P. Weiss

Be sure to read the article at the link at the end of my comment.
I have seen a lot of paintings by artists whose work screams "I took a Richard Schmid workshop." In my opinion, if a painting looks like a Schmid, then the artist has no voice of his or her own. You can learn a lot in workshops, but if you ...don't develop your own style, it's a real shame.

I may have told this story before, but years ago, I took watercolor classes with Katherine Chang Liu, who at that time was doing only watercolor. She now does abstract acrylics. She was a fabulous watercolor artist and an excellent instructor. Back then, one particular student of hers was very good technically. She literally copied Liu's style and subject matter and started putting it in shows and selling it. People who couldn't afford a Liu bought one of her works. It was quite apparent that she was merely a copycat, but she was proud that she had nearly duplicated Liu's style and subject matter. That prompted Liu to change her style and subject matter and move onward and upward. Out of curiosity I did a web search on both of these artists. I found plenty on Liu, but none on the other artist. Go figure.

Another story about copycatting. I was watching a show some years back where the singer Pink was being interviewed. There were teenage girls in the audience who were dressed in Pink's style and who were saying they wanted to do what she was doing and be successful like she was. Pink made a very impactful statement to them, which, from the reactions on their faces, hit home pretty hard. She said, if I had tried to copy any other artist, I wouldn't be where I am today. There can be only one Pink.