Saturday, April 30, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Other interests

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What else do you do besides your art?

Living in Madison, IN where the entire downtown (122 blocks!) is a National Historic Landmark District, inspired me to get involved in historic preservation projects. I also served on the city’s Historic District Board of Review.

Picture credit: "Two Angus Heifers", acrylic on burlap

Click here to learn more about this Angus cattle painting

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blunders men make when buying mother's day jewelry

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*By popular request, I am resharing this blog post, originally posted in May 2010.*

I know Mother's Day is a very popular time for men to be buying the mothers in their life a special piece of jewelry. These are a few of my observations about the biggest mistakes men make when buying jewelry for a gift.

1. Not knowing the details
. I have actually had men buy earrings for a gift and not know if the woman had pierced ears. Wow! Major gamble! Find out as much information about your lady as possible. A good start is to find out a ring size, bracelet size, preferred length of necklaces, color preferences, metal preferences and any allergies.

2. Getting her something she doesn't have. This is only a good thing if you have heard her say that she wants a ".....". For example, if she doesn't own any bracelets, there may be a good reason why. Maybe she has a job where it gets in the way or she would have to take it off frequently. Take a quick inventory of her jewelry and get an idea of what she prefers or take notes the next time you are window shopping together.

3. Not considering the "what ifs". Is your jewelry purchase sizable? Can you return or exchange it if she doesn't like it? What if she likes the pendant but wants a different chain? Understand the exchange and return policy on the jewelry BEFORE you purchase it.

4. Buying something that doesn't go with her body type. Believe it or not, how a piece of jewelry is shaped or formed impacts how it looks on a person. For example, round earrings do not look good on a woman with a round face. A small pendant on a short chain isn't particularly flattering to a curvaceous woman with a large bustline. When you're buying the piece, get the person helping you to give suggestions or even the model the jewelry if necessary to help with the decision making process.

5. Buying something that doesn't go with her style. Buy her something she will wear! If she doesn't go to a lot of fancy occasions, she may not get a lot of wear from a big, fancy cocktail ring. Inexpensive earrings may be a better fit for daily wear. If she does a lot of work with her hands, a ring may not hold up to her rough schedule, but a necklace might fit the bill.

I am always happy to help shoppers with their gift purchases! There is also a group of articles on the Cow Art and More art resources page that art collectors, enthusiasts and jewelry collectors may also find helpful.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Painting advice

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What advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Learn the basics first. Do a lot of drawing, drawing, and more drawing. I can’t emphasize that enough. To paint before knowing how to draw, is like attempting to run before knowing how to walk.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Booth lighting at the National Holstein Convention

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In selling art at the National Holstein Convention, the Cow Art and More booth will be inside a convention center complex. While of course the lights will be on, it won't be enough for visitors to get a really good, detail look at our art. Extra spotlights will help shoppers see better and give the art the "wow" factor it deserves.

I will be using two foot track lighting sections with adjustable gooseneck pendant lamps. Why go with these? First of all, I bought a total of 3 two foot track sections. These can easily pack in a suitcase and don't have to travel as one 6 foot long piece. The gooseneck lamps are nice in that they can be moved to focus light EXACTLY where it needs to go.

In case you're not electrically inclined (like myself), there are connectors (like the one shown here) and power sources that allow the whole thing to come together.

I will use zip ties to hang the finished light fixture to the top railing of the booth.

There will be a total of two of these at the show. I don't want customers to strain to see what they're looking at.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Future plans

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What would you like to do more of in the future?

I am pretty happy with the life I have right now. I think it would be great to do more traveling and painting plein air.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Krazy Coupon Lady

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Okay, so this technically isn't an agriculture website, except we all have to eat right? As the price of gas and grocery shopping continues to squeeze wallets, who hasn't thought about using coupons? There are tons of couponing sites out there, but the one I've been using most lately is for the Krazy Coupon Lady. Not only does the site list the sales and coupons for a variety of grocery stores, it also shares coupons for major department store chains. The site also gives other tips for saving money and points to other links that share coupons. For me, the most useful part has been the listings of the items on sale at my local grocery store, plus a link to an online coupon to make the item an even better deal. It also has a "10 day boot camp" article to make you a bona fide coupon shopping "krazy lady".

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Making mistakes

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Do you ever have goof ups or work you don’t like?

Sure I do. I learn from my mistakes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday's art article - Precious metal and jewelry prices

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If you're on the Cow Art and More mailing list, you may have received an email yesterday explaining that jewelry prices will be going up effective May 1. As I write this, the price of silver has gone up 50 percent since the beginning of the year. I have grappled with trying to keep jewelry prices at reasonable levels in this economy, but unfortunately, the amount of metal used in a piece of cow jewelry is the number one influencing factor in the final price of the jewelry charms, bracelets and necklaces. As the price of sterling silver goes up, I'm faced with the daunting task of managing shrinking margins with affordability to the customer. (I won't get into showing you a bunch of graphs and reports, but you can go to and research silver, gold and platinum prices for as many months or decades as you want to.) While absorbing minimal to moderate changes in the price has been tough, I simply cannot absorb that big a price change in the raw materials without it impacting the final retail price.

So you may be asking yourself, "Why is the price changing so much?"

Simply put, precious metals also serves as an investment vehicle. As the United States economy continues to be on shaky ground, precious metals continues to grow in popularity across many economies as a way to protect against a weakening U.S. dollar. Unfortunately for those of us who use the actual metal (versus investing in shares or futures of the product), we are faced with a smaller supply available for us to use in a finished piece of jewelry, flatware, sculpture, etc.

While there are the labor costs associated with producing an actual piece of cow jewelry, the amount of metal used in the charms, necklaces, pendants and bracelets is by far the largest influencing factor. All I can ask is for your understanding in this time of price increases and know that I will HAPPILY lower prices once the precious metal markets come back down.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Robert Saueressig - How long to get a painting?

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How long does it take you to get an average creation?

About a week, at 3 hours or more each day. I have done some in as little as a few hours, while others are getting “tweaked” for several months.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Preparing for the National Holstein convention

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A lot goes into making a 10 foot by 10 foot booth space into a temporary art gallery space. After spending some time in Google SketchUp, I have a booth design that I like and am moving forward with. Here's a preview of what the booth will look like:

The floor of the space will have a series of 2 foot by 2 foot foam tiles with a wood grain pattern. (Notice one of my peeps helping me put them together.) Not only will it give people a comfortable place to stand, but will give the space an upscale gallery feel (versus the basement of a convention center).

The design also includes having back drapes and table covers. Since this will be an indoor venue, the fabrics must be fireproofed. I decided that it was a better use of my time to talk to a company that specializes in made to order, fire retardant draperies and cloths instead of doing it myself. These are the fabric samples the company sent. I'm definitely going with the ivory at the far left for the drapes, but am still trying to decide on tablecloth colors. I thought I wanted brown, but the dark terra cotta is nice too.

The lights I've ordered just came in, so I will be putting those together. Pictures to come on those too.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Painting farm animals

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How did you get interested in creating art of farm animals?

For a farm kid that couldn’t wait to get off the farm, I am amazed at the number of requests I get for animal paintings. Many times I have heard comments such as “It shows that you know the kind of animals you paint”. My family raised Black Angus and wheat; we had milk cows and chickens. As a freshman in high school – through the FFA – I received 10 bred ewes to be paid for within 2 years. All through high school I sold wool and lambs. By the time I graduated I had 40 head of sheep, 3 purebred Holstein milk cows, and rented 60 acres of cropland with grain in the bin. I sold it all, and the proceeds paid for my first 2 years of art school.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Common Ground

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When it comes to getting information, what's better than going to the source? A group of farm women have come together and formed the group called Common Ground. The goal of the women is to start a conversation between the women who grow food, and the women who buy it. The website shares recipes and events where consumers can meet farm women. The site also lists food facts and their reference sources.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Robert Saueressig - How do you decide what to paint?

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How do you decide what to paint?

Like most artists, I paint what I know, or am familiar with, although I enjoy experimenting with subject matter and and techniques outside of my comfort zone.

Picture credit: "Black Angus Grazing", acrylic on burlap

Click here to learn more about this Angus painting

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday's art article - How are retail art prices determined?

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I often get asked just how a piece of art gets priced for the amount it does. Retail art pricing is much like any other industry or business; many factors go into the final retail price. Assuming you're not looking at a "world famous artist", a few of the influencing factors most art collectors will run into are:

1. Materials. The price of the materials can have little influence to lots of influence on a final price. For example, precious metal jewelry is heavily influenced by the price of the gold, silver, platinum, etc. used to make it while, the price of the oil paints a painter might use doesn't impact the final price as heavily.

2. Quantity. If there's only "one" of something, you can expect to pay more. Artists that sell prints of their work generally will have a lower price per single item versus a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Buyers can also expect to pay more for limited edition (number produced is specified) versus and open edition (no end) series.

3. Production methods. For example, artists that have their giclee prints professionally printed will charge more since it costs more to them to have the higher quality print (versus printing off a home printer system). The benefit to a collector is that these professionally printed prints will last a lifetime.

4. Demand. Yes, supply and demand applies here too. If an artist cannot keep up with the demand for their artwork, prices will go up.

5. Time involved. This is probably the hardest one for art buyers to consider when buying a piece of art. Sometimes artists will spend 10, 20 or 30 hours getting the perfect piece of art. Even at minimum wage, that makes a piece of art cost $50 to $150, before supplies are even included.

6. Business overhead. Just like any other business, artists and the art galleries that represent them also have fixed costs they must cover to keep a shop open and operating.

These are just a few of the starting points that influence art's retail price. If you want to learn more about art pricing, get to know your favorite artist or art gallery. They can be an invaluable resource to helping you with your art knowledge, including art pricing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Where did you learn your technique

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Where did you learn your technique?

I was taught all the basics at the College of Visual Arts. Since then I learned by doing. I also participated in many workshops by well-known, accomplished artists I admire. The technique I use now is an ever evolving process.

Picture credit: Robert Saueressig paints on location.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Polishing cow jewelry

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In getting ready for the Cow Art and More booth at the National Holstein Convention this June, I decided a jewelry inventory was in order.  In doing so, I had some dairy cow jewelry pieces that needed polishing.

Metal doesn't want to be shiny.  If silver had its choice, it will be a dull flat gray color.  We jewelry folks give that bright shine that is so appealing.  This is a group of cows that have been polished (foreground) and another group that need polishing (small pile to the upper left of the picture).  Before polishing, I coat all of the pieces with a black patina (stain).  This will buff off easily, except in the cracks and crevices.  This is actually what I want, since that dark patina will highlight some of the subtle details of the cow charm.

The cow to the far left has the black patina, but has not been polished.  The one on the right of the picture has been polished.

There's a couple different ways of doing this, but this time, I'm using a flex shaft tool with a buff and red rouge polishing compound.   While spinning the buff, I dip it into the red rouge (the mostly hard brick in the right part of the picture), then press the buff onto different areas of the cow charm.

In case you're thinking this looks like your dentist's office, you're pretty much right.  Just imagine the higienist polishing your teeth with that minty toothpaste, except I'm using polishing compound on metal.

It leaves a dark red residue on my hands and fingers, which mostly comes off with soap and water.  It does get into the cracks of your hands and fingernails though, so people will wonder if you have some strange incurable fungus or something similar.

When I'm done polishing, I use Dawn dish soap to get the greasy compound off.  I dry them thoroughly, then they're ready to go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Where do you get your inspiration?

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Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from life and nature around me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Grilled Cheese Academy

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Did you know that April is National Grilled Cheese month? What a great idea! (and sounds like a fun way to celebrate) In case you need recipes for inspiration, head on over to the Grilled Cheese Academy. The site is maintained by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing board and includes a variety of recipes within a variety of cheese types. The academy also encourages users to submit their recipes for inclusion on the site.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Painter Robert Saueressig - technique

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What is your technique?

Most of my work is done in acrylic paints, with a combination of brush work and palette knife, on board or canvas. My field sketches are done in oil pastels.

Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Hang Art

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Hanging and displaying art can be a daunting task. Need some help? This three minute video will give you ideas on how to give your art collection the attention it deserves.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Robert Saueressig - How did you get started?

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How did you get started?

Like many artists, I started with drawing cartoons as a kid. The little one-room school I attended out on the North Dakota prairie didn’t have art classes. Neither did the high school in town. My first formal art instruction was on the first day I arrived at the College of Visual Arts (CVA) in St. Paul, Minnesota., fresh out of high school.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Robert Saueressig - Why do you paint?

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Why do you paint?

It is what I love to do, and what I was trained to do.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Tractor House Used Tractors

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*A note for new readers to the Cow Art and More blog: every Monday, blog author Kathy Swift shares an agricultural website of interest.*

Today's agricultural website centers around helping readers find the perfect used tractor. Tractor House is an online classified ad site to hook up buyers and sellers of used farm equipment. In addition to tractors from different a variety of manufacturers, the site also lists tractor parts for sale and connects buyers with tractor dealers nationwide. The website is a complement to the print edition of the same information.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April's featured artist - painter Robert Saueressig

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April's featured artist is acrylic painter, Robert Saueressig. Robert's career as a graphic design artist eventually led him to painting, which he has been able to do full time since 2000. Robert's original only work can be found in collections across the United States and Europe. He will be answering a series of questions over the month here, on the Cow Art and More blog.

Purchase any of Robert's art this month and receive free shipping.

View all of Robert's paintings in the Cow Art and More specials section.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday's art article: Art Copyright laws

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I have received several questions from customers pertaining to what they can do with the images displayed on Cow Art and More. These situations are specifically governed by copyright laws. I will go through a few of the situations here and explain what customers can and cannot do.

The moment someone creates anything "artful", the only person legally allowed to makes copies of that artwork is the original creating artist. If the artist decides to make copies (e.g. prints, multiple sculptures, etc.), he or she can. If anyone else does, without written permission from the creating artist, this is a copyright infringement. The artist has the legal right to take the offending party to court and sue for damages. In fact, copyright laws are so strong that family or legal heirs will still own the copyright to the artist's artwork until 70 years after his or her death.

Artists that display their work online or allow their art to be published in books or magazines often put a copyright symbol (letter c encased in a circle) next to the image. Just because the symbol isn't there doesn't mean you can copy the work; copyright is automatically implied when the art is created. The symbol is there as a reminder.

Art collectors should be aware that even after buying an original work of art, the artist still holds the copyright. This is what allows the artist to sell prints of the work. The buyer cannot make prints or sell copies of the art unless the artist has given express permission in writing. If you as the collector want to buy a piece of art, without giving the artist the right to make reproductions, please make this clear up front. If this is an artist that makes prints of their work, it is likely the artist will want to do so for that original piece. If you as the buyer want to also own the copyright, I would also suggest getting this fact in writing since the laws are written in the artist's favor.

There are three areas where I see art collectors fall into problems when it comes to copyrights and art work.

  1. You cannot use an artist's image for anything without their explicit consent. This includes using an image of the artwork to represent your business or organization. This is still the case even if you have purchased a copy of the artwork.
  2. You cannot download a copy of the artwork to use as a screen saver, t-shirt logo, avatar on your Facebook page, or other assorted activities without written consent from the artist. Even though you are using it for your own behalf, with no plans to resell, it is still considered "stealing" unless the artist has consented.
  3. This next area is a bit more fuzzy, but you cannot post a copy of the artwork on your own website, blog, facebook page, etc. without consent of the artist. Generally, if the artwork is identified with the creating artist, copyright symbol, and even a title and date created, problems can be averted. But without that identification, problems usually arise. Many artists like to have the publicity, so an email is usually all it takes to avoid problems. Nowadays with social media sharing buttons, I would suggest using one of them to "share" the artwork with others.

In general, the few copyright problems we have had to deal with have not been malicious in any way. People were just unaware of the laws and were happy to comply with our request once we asked not to use it in the manner they were.

My advice: when in doubt, ask. If you've made a mistake, rectify it. If you're caught, be honest.
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