Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What we're working on now

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In addition to the day-to-day operations of Cow Art and More, I've always got a couple of "big" things I'm working on. Right now, there are two projects with top priority:

1. I'm in the process of adding two new artists and their art to Cow Art and More. I only interview artists twice yearly (January and July) and make decisions as to whether or not that artist and their art would be a good fit. Of the 8 artists I reviewed last month, I'm happy to say two look to be a good fit with both their art and their business style. I hope to have their art listed by the end of next week.

2. We have another live event coming up in less than a month at the Pennsylvania All American Dairy show! In some respects, this is a bit less stressful than the art booth we had at the National Holstein convention. Everything is built and I've made a few adjustments from our last event to help things run a bit smoother. (There are always a few hiccups along the way.) The biggest change is that I will be shipping the art up Harrisburg, Pennsylvania ahead of time in a shipping crate and will fly in for the show.

Once these two projects are out of the way, it's onto being ready for holiday shopping!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - My American Farm

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Today's agricultural website to share with blog readers is for the Kansas Farm Bureau "My American Farm" page. "My American Farm" is an interactive page, providing the opportunity for students to learn about agriculture and educators to get projects to share with their students. Established in 1919, the mission of the non-profit Kansas Farm Bureau is to support farm families and their endeavors within agriculture.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday's art article - Choosing an Engagement Ring

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This great little article came up in my google alerts the other day. Lots of times, these articles are just a big sales pitch, but this one has some very useful information. It's even helpful if your considering ANY jewelry purchase.


How to Choose the Perfect Engagement Ring

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Teaching others to agvocate

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No, the title is not misspelled. It's a combination of two words "agriculture and advocate". When I'm not mom, cattle veterinarian, jewelry artist, food enthusiast and rock music blasting girl, I'm active in helping teach others how to "agvocate" through social media as a part of the Agchat Foundation. I was in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this week, along with others involved in agriculture, to teach and learn how to more effectively use social media to connect farmers and consumers. A diverse group of farmers and agriculture business professionals were in attendance, which allowed for even more opportunities for networking and shared learning.

MANY thanks to The Tennessean for capturing a video of the event showing their readers that connecting with a farmer is only as far away as your twitter account. You're also invited to view pictures from two other agvocates in attendance: John Blue of Truffle Media (@trufflemedia) and Agwired's Chuck Zimmerman (@agwired). If you would like to learn more about why people would want to attend our annual conference, please read the blog post on the Agchat Foundation site by farmer Jan Hoadley (@slowmoneyfarm) who attended our first conference in 2010 and was invited to be a speaker this year.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cow Art and More Aug e-news

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Missed the August edition of the Cow Art and More e-news in your inbox? No worries, we've got a copy right here. Get caught up on our newest art, art care tips, and a do-it-yourself art project.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday's art article: Art Copyright laws

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*This is a repost of a blog entry from earlier this year.*

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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A few facts about the Cow Art and More artists

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I work with an amazing and diverse group of artists. Here's a few factoids that maybe you didn't know them:

  • We have two artists from outside the United States: watercolor artist Donna Greenstein (from Canada) and digital artist Michael Murray (from Glasgow, UK)
  • Pencil drawing artist Laurie Winkelman will be the judge of the junior Brown Swiss show at this year's Pennsylvania All American Dairy Show. Laurie is also a Ph.D. dairy cattle nutritionist.
  • Three of our artists also have their own graphic design firms: photographer Kent Weakley, painter Robert Saueressig and mixed media artist Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson
  • Airbrush painter Jerry Gadamus is considered to be one of the two foremost airbrush painters in the world.
  • When pencil drawing artist Amanda Raithel isn't working on her next piece of art, she is working cattle on an Angus ranch in Nebraska with her husband and daughter.
  • I am not the only veterinarian with art on Cow Art and More. Painters Jon Plishka and Lynn Bishop also have doctor of veterinary medicine degrees.
  • Pastel artist Carolyn Molder's recent work, 'Holstein and Fence', now hangs in the office of the Virginia State Veterinarian.
  • Oil painter Deborah Grayson Lincoln belongs to the 'daily painters' group, where each artist member commits to finishing one oil painting every day.
  • Mixed media artist Jon Ellis has had his art included on the covers of Time and National Geographic.
  • Pencil and pastel artist Gary Sauder grew up showing cattle and received numerous showmanship awards.
  • Stained glass artists Mike and Mary Ellen McIntyre had one of their stained glass pieces selected as the art for the official poster for the Gainesville Florida Downtown Festival and Art show for 2011. (picture at right)
  • Painters Wendy Marquis and Shannon Grissom each have a twin. Wendy has a twin brother and Shannon has a twin sister.
  • Painter Valerie D'Ortona is active on educating people on the importance of becoming organ donors.
  • Watercolor artist Jo Lynch is busy creating animals paintings for the new neonatal wing at Tampa (Florida) General Hospital.

Of course I work with several more artists, but this was all I could remember off the top of my head. Wow! Many thanks to all the artists who are part of the Cow Art and More gallery. If you want to learn more about the artists (or even see what they look like), check out the Cow Art and More artists page.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cow Art and More to attend the PA All-American Dairy Show next month

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Cow Art and More will attend the 48th annual All-American Dairy Show September 17-19th in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Last year’s All-American Dairy Show included over 2,400 animals with 925 exhibits from 26 states along with Canada.

Gallery owner, Kathy Swift, is excited to be invited to participate in this premier event in the dairy industry. She adds, “We’re excited to showcase our art for the first time in the northeast. We’ve been expanding our art offerings and look forward to having it on display.” This event gives her audience an opportunity to view her latest charm, a milk bottle that she debuted earlier in the summer at the Holstein Convention in Virginia.

Cow Art and More booth will display a demo art gallery that includes handpicked art selection from various artists including ceramics, paintings, photography, handbags, and novelties. Visit Cow Art and More as an exhibitor in the trade show area and experience where “art and agriculture meet.”

For information about All-American Dairy Show, visit http://www.allamerican.state.pa.us/

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Commonly asked questions at Cow Art and More

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I love getting questions about our art and how things work here. Our customers have inquisitive minds! I wanted to take a moment and answer the most commonly asked questions:

Some of the artwork has writing over the picture. What's up with that?

Since art is copyrighted by the creating artist, many artists will "watermark" their art with their name, business name, or logo to prevent people from using the art without purchase. This watermark is not on the art itself of any prints of the art.

Original, giclee, lithograph, art print, limited edition. Aargh! What's the difference between all of them?

An original, means just that. It's an original piece of art. The artist can choose whether or not to make prints from the original.

Giclee and lithograph mostly refer to the printing methods, which involve a specific way of using ink (giclees 'spray' color whereas lithographs use plates to place color). An art print generally just refers to the process of print making, although usually refers to print reproductions on paper. They also tend to be lower cost as compared to canvas prints.

Limited edition means only so many are created. The artist decides how many prints there are, but generally not more than 500 of any one design. Limited edition artworks may also be signed and numbered. This is in contrast to an open edition, where as many prints as desired are created. These art pieces are not signed by the artist.

(Want more information? Read the recent blog post on Common Art Terms Defined.)

I wish you had more art work of _____________ (insert your favorite breed of cattle here).

I absolutely agree with you. I wish we had multiple artists who created art of every cattle breed that has ever existed. A few reasons why we don't:

1. Art quality is first and foremost. Without a doubt, I have to be sure the art is high quality before I include it for sale on Cow Art and More. It has to be well made and be able to last for many years. This means the artist must use quality paints, papers, canvases, metals, glass, etc. I also need to know the artist constructed the art using good techniques. It doesn't matter how beautiful a piece of art is if it's going to degrade or fall apart in a matter of weeks to months to years.

2. Artists selling their art on Cow Art and More must also be very well business minded. In addition to selling quality art, customer service is key. Since much of our art ships directly from the creating artist, I need to know he/she will carefully package and ship the art in a timely fashion to a customer.

These two reasons alone narrow the field of potential artists. I would say Cow Art and More generally only accepts 1 in 8 to 10 artists where a discussion has started.

3. Certain breeds of cattle, (like Holsteins and Angus) are better recognized by the general public. Not only is there a larger market for their art, there are also more artists creating art of those breeds. Our customer base outside the agriculture community has a preference for these breeds as well. The lesser known cattle breeds (like Dexters and Guernseys) just don't get the credit they deserve. *frown*

However, all that being said, I am ALWAYS on the lookout for high quality art of all cattle breeds.

I live overseas. Why can't I place an order on your website?

The way the shopping cart on our website is designed, it's "all or none". For example, we can't specify that we only ship jewelry or art purchases less than $50 outside the U.S. Since there are issues with shipping large and/or valuable items overseas (duty taxes, insurance, and time to receive just to name a few), it's easier for all involved to take everything on a case by case basis as to avoid surprises and headaches down the road. If interested parties email us (info@cowartandmore.com), I can email you back shipping options and invoice you through Paypal for your payment.

What else would you like to know?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Farmer Bloggers

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Have you ever wondered what happens on the farm? Do you want to know how the milk gets from the cow to you? What does a rancher ride the prairie for? If you've ever wondered about this or other farm and food questions, head over to the Farmers Blog, a collection of farmer blogs in "one stop shop" setting.

The group of blogs consists of several farms and ranches from the California Valleys and Mountains to the Midwest plains and south to Florida! There are organic, conventional, large, small, grain, produce, livestock operations and more. Click here to see a complete list of the farmers and their backgrounds.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Common mistakes when buying jewelry for a gift

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Part of making jewelry and interacting with customers also means that I have learned the do's and don'ts of buying jewelry for a gift. These are the top 5 "blunders" I've seen people make when buying jewelry and my advice on how to prevent them.

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, August 11, 2011

What is a typical day like at Cow Art and More?

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The first thing, is that there is never anything typical about running an art gallery (or any other business for that matter). Certain days of the week have certain patterns, but I'm glad there is always a bit of flexibility in what I can do.

Regardless of the day of the week and whatever is scheduled, the first thing I focus on every morning is taking care of orders that need to be filled. If an order is being filled from Cow Art and More headquarters, I make every effort possible for it to ship the same day and mail those orders off early. I also check orders in the middle of the day, if I'm in the office, and try to fill them in time to catch a late pickup at the post office. (There is a drop station close to me that picks up mid-morning and late afternoon.) If a package doesn't ship the same day the order it is received, it will go out the next business day. (We ship 6 days a week.) If a customer has placed an order for art that ships directly from the artist, I make sure the artist has received the order and is set to ship.

Generally, I have at least one day a week that I call and office day. On this day, I usually write blog posts for the week, list new art, update the website, correspond with artists (current and potential), pay bills and take care of other tasks from the last few days that need addressing. I also do some planning for advertising, mailings (postal and electronic) and our printed catalog.

If it's a day that I have veterinary work scheduled, I get up an hour earlier to give me time to get through my emails. First priority goes to filling orders from overnight and second priority goes to taking care of urgent emails. Otherwise, other important emails might have to sit until I have another office day to go through them.

In case you're interested, these are a few of my favorite products I use here in the office that help me remain productive and provide excellent customer service:

  • Endicia internet postage. I can buy the postage online, weigh packages and envelopes in my office and print out the appropriate amount all from my own computer. All I have to do then is drop items in a postal box. (I also do something similar for my FedEx and UPS packages too.)
  • Grasshopper toll free phone number. It's an inexpensive way for me to have a toll free number for customers to call.
  • Paypal. Not only does Paypal handle all our online transactions processed through cowartandmore.com, but I can also invoice people directly for their purchases. (I have to do it this way for international purchases since the default for our shopping cart system does not allow purchases outside the United States.)
  • Having a really good assistant. Unfortunately, my assistant graduated college back in May, and I have yet to find a suitable replacement. I'm hopeful that when school starts again in a couple of weeks, I will find another good one.
  • Shelves and bins. Part of running the Cow Art and More office is storing the art we sell (including the jewelry). Being organized is absolutely essential. Trips to home improvement stores are on an as needed basis to get whatever I need to make this happen.
What else would you like to know? Was this what you were expecting?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Packaging cow jewelry orders - Cow Art and More

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So you're thinking about ordering some farm jewelry? Curious as to how it's packaged and gets to you? This two minute video shows you how cow jewelry is carefully handled and sent to recipients.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What happens when I place an order for cow art?

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Is this like a huge warehouse with conveyors and fork lifts, or is it in someone's basement with little minions running around?

Somewhere in between in probably how I would describe it.

When you place an order online, the shopping cart system generates a message that there is a order to fill, along with the details of the order (items ordered, contact information, shipping address). If you call to place an order or fax us an order, it gets entered into our computer system and the same message is generated. A copy of the order gets sent to the person or business filling the order. Why does this happen? Because Cow Art and More does not maintain an inventory of all the art we sell.

What? I'm calling to order an art print and you don't even have it there? What's up with that?

The number one reason we have a limited in-house inventory is to keep our costs lower. Maintaining an inventory of all the art we sell would mean having a larger office space and hiring a larger staff to maintain the inventory. Since we have a smaller amount of art to maintain at headquarters, Cow Art and More is able to sell art at a lower price than you would expect to find in a brick and mortar gallery. Approximately one-third of the art is maintained here, while the other two thirds is kept by the creating artists in their studio. (Since the art would have to be shipped out to Cow Art and More AND shipped out to a customer, why not only ship it once?)

The other useful feature of our system is that when an order is received, the shopping cart system automatically generates an email to the creating artist that an order needs to be filled, without headquarters needing to be involved. This allows the customer to get the fastest service possible. Customers can expect to have their orders shipped within two business days unless notified otherwise. (Some of our art gets created when ordered. It's another way for us to keep costs down and pass those savings along to customers.) If your order is coming directly from Cow Art and More's office in Florida, you will receive an email with the package tracking number when your order ships. (Orders ship via postal mail unless you're notified otherwise.)

If you ever have any concerns about how your order is handled, time frame to receive, packaging questions, (or anything else for that matter), drop an email to info@cowartandmore.com. What other shipping questions or concerns do you have?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Gourmet Sleuth

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Ever wanted to try your hand at cheese making? The website the Gourmet Sleuth has several cheesemaking recipes. In addition to recipes for hard cheeses, such as cheddar, and soft cheeses, such as blue, it also lists recipes for yogurt and sour cream.

The goal of the Gourmet Sleuth is to help inform and educate people interested in food, cooking and eating. The company's staff writes culinary articles on various foods and cooking topics and publishes recipes that take a "how to" approach.

The site also has a store of "novelty" and hard to find kitchen items and products in addition to maintaining a huge database of food and beverage related sites. The Gourmet Sleuth staff also provides research on food and cooking product related questions for readers.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friday's art article - Common art terms defined

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There's a lot of terminology within the art community. I've taken a few of the more common terms you will find on Cow Art and More and defined them here:

Acrylic paint: a fast-drying synthetic paint made from acrylic resin. Acrylic is a fast-drying water-based "plastic" paint valued for its versatility and clean up with soap and water.

Airbrush painting: A technique where an airbrush is used. An airbrush is a small, air-operated tool that sprays various media including ink and dye, but most often paint by a process of nebulization.

Alla prima: the method of oil painting in which the desired effects of the final painting are achieved in the first application of paint as opposed to the technique of covering the canvas in layers with the final painting being achieved at the end.

Art: the completed work of an artist which is the expression of creativity or imagination

Artist: a practitioner in the arts

Brush: a tool used to apply paints and inks to a surface, consisting of hairs, or bristles held in place by a ferrule attached to a handle. The quality of the hair determines the brush’s quality and cost. Each type of brush has a specific purpose, and different fibers are used for different mediums.

Brushstroke: The mark left by a loaded (filled) brush on a surface. Brushstrokes can be distinguished by their direction, thickness, texture, and quality. Some artists purposefully obscure individual brushstrokes to achieve a smooth surface. Other artists make their brushstrokes obvious to reveal the process of painting or to express movement or emotion.

Brushwork: the distinctive technique in which an artist uses to apply paint with a brush onto a medium, such as canvas.

Canvas: a heavy, closely woven fabric; an oil painting on canvas fabric; the support used for an acrylic or oil painting that is typically made of linen or cotton, stretched very tightly and tacked onto a wooden frame. Linen is considered far superior to the heavy cotton for a canvas.

Ceramics: the art of making objects of clay and firing them in a kiln. Wares of earthenware and porcelain, as well as sculpture are made by ceramists. Enamel is also a ceramic technique. Ceramic materials may be decorated with slip, engobe, or glaze, applied by a number of techniques.

Charcoal: Compressed burned wood used for drawing.

Collage: the technique of creating a work of art by adhering flat articles such as paper, fabrics, string or other materials to a flat surface such as a canvas whereby a three-dimensional result is achieved.

Color: a visual attribute of things that results from the light they emit or transmit or reflect; the visual response to the wavelengths of light, identified as red, blue, green, etc.; primary and secondary colors; warm, cool, and neutral colors, color value; hue; and intensity.

Composition: the arrangement of the design elements within the design area; the ordering of visual and emotional experience to give unity and consistency to a work of art and to allow the observer to comprehend its meaning.

Computer graphics: refers to visual images made with the assistance of computers. Computer graphics are often made with software called drawing, painting, illustrating and photographic programs or applications.

Decorative arts: collective term for such art forms as ceramics, enamels, furniture, glass, ivory, metalwork and textiles, especially when they take forms used as interior decoration.

Decoupage: the Victorian craft of cutting out motifs from paper gluing them to a surface and covering with as many layers of varnish as is required to give a completely smooth finish.

Design: the arrangement of the design elements to create a single effect. The organization or composition of a work; the skilled arrangement of its parts. An effective design is one in which the elements of art and principles of design have been combined to achieve an overall sense of unity.

Drawing: the act of representing an image on a surface by means of adding lines and shades, as with a pencil, crayon, pen, chalk, pastels, etc. Also refers to an illustration that has been drawn by hand.

Easel: an upright support (generally a tripod) used for displaying something. It is most often used to hold up an artist's canvas while the painter is working or to hold a completed painting for exhibition.

Egg tempera: A medium created by mixing pure, ground pigments with egg yolk. This was a very common medium before the invention of oil paints.

Elements of design: those qualities of a design that can be seen and worked with independently of its figurative content. They include line, form, value, texture, color, and shape.

En plein air: French for "in open air," used to describe paintings that have been executed outdoors, rather than in the studio.

Exhibition - A public showing of a piece or a collection of objects. Also called an exhibit.

Fine art: art created for purely aesthetic expression, communication, or contemplation.

Foam core: a strong, stiff, resilient, and lightweight board of polystyrene laminated with paper on both of its sides used as backing for art prints before framing. Also referred to as "foam board".

Frame: something made to enclose a picture or a mirror; enclose in a frame, as of a picture.

Fresco: The technique of blending wet plaster with water based paint. As the plaster dries it becomes a lasting surface base. The term applies to the technique as well as the painting itself.

Gallery: a room or series of rooms where works of art are exhibited.

Giclee: (pronounced "zee-clay") a printmaking process usually on an IRIS inkjet printer to make reproductions of a photograph of a painting; the printer can produce a very wide range of colors resulting in prints that are of very high quality.

Glaze: a thin layer of translucent acrylic or oil paint applied to all or part of a painting, to modify the tone or color underneath. Glazing is the process of using this technique.

Gold: A yellow precious metal, the chemical element of atomic number 79; comes as white or yellow. 24 karat gold is pure gold. 18 karat gold contains 18 parts gold and 6 parts other metal whereas 14 karat gold contains 14 parts gold and 10 parts other metals. White gold is created by alloying gold with another metal, usually nickel or palladium.

Gouache: a type of watercolor paint, made heavier and more opaque by the addition of a white pigment (chalk, Chinese white, etc.) in a gum arabic mixture. This results in a stronger color than ordinary watercolor.

Graphic art: two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, engraving, etching and illustration in their various forms.

Graphic design: the applied art of arranging image and text to communicate a message. It may be applied in any media, such as print, digital media, motion pictures, animation, product decoration, packaging, and signs.

Graphite: a soft, black, lustrous mineral made of carbon used in lead pencils, paints, crucibles, and as a lubricant.

Illustration board: heavy paper or card appropriate as a support for pencil, pen, watercolor, collage, etc.

Karat: system is used to reveal the amount of pure gold found in an item

Kiln: refers to an oven in which pottery or ceramic ware is fired.

Lacquer: a clear or colored finish material that dries to a hard, glossy finish. Usually applied with a sprayer, lacquer dries too quickly for smooth application with a brush, unless it is specially formulated.

Landscape: a painting, drawing or photograph which depicts outdoor scenery. They typically include trees, streams, buildings, crops, mountains, wildlife, rivers and forests.

Light table: refers to a table made especially for working with negatives, viewing transparencies and slides, and pasting up artwork, that has a translucent top with a light shining up through it.

Limited edition: a limit placed on the number of prints produced in a particular edition, in order to create a scarcity of the print. Limited editions are signed and numbered by the artist.

Linseed oil: the most popular drying oil used as paint medium. The medium hardens over several weeks as components of the oil polymerize to form an insoluble matrix. Driers can be added to accelerate this process.

Lithography: uses the principle that oil and water don't mix as the basis of the printing process; a method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose non image areas repel ink. Non image areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

Masterpiece: a work done with extraordinary skill, especially a work of art, craft or intellect that is an exceptionally great achievement.

Medium: material or technique an artist works in; also, the component of paint in which the pigment is dispersed.

Mineral spirits: an inexpensive paint thinner which cleans brushes, thins paint, cleans furniture, and removes wax often used as a substitute for turpentine.

Mixed media: the art technique where an artist employs different types of physical materials such as ink and pastel or painting and collage etc. and combines them in a single work.

Montage: an artwork comprising of seemingly unrelated shots or scenes which, when combined of various existing images such as from photographs or prints and arranged so that they join, overlap or blend to create a new image which achieve meaning (as in, shot A and shot B together give rise to an third idea, which is then supported by shot C, and so on) (see illustration) .

Mosaic: an art medium in which small pieces of colored glass, stone, or ceramic tile called tessera are embedded in a background material such as plaster or mortar. Also, works made using this technique.

Mural: a large wall painting, often executed in fresco

Oil paint: a type of paint made from color particles( pigment) and linseed oil. Oil paint dries slowly, can be used thick or thin, and with glazes. Because it dries slowly, oil paint is easier to blend from dark to light creating the illusion of three-dimensions. Used by most artists since the Renaissance.

Original: the term 'original' can imply exclusivity or the idea that the work is 'one of a kind' rather than a copy by any method including offset-lithography, digital printing or by forgery.

Overpainting: the final layer of paint that is applied over the under painting or under layer after it has dried. The idea behind layers of painting is that the under painting is used to define the basic shapes and design so that the overpainting can be used to fill in the details of the piece.

Palette: A thin piece of glass, wood or other material, or pad of paper, which is used to hold the paint to be used in painting; also, the range of colors used by a particular painter.

palette knifePalette knife: a tool originally used by artists for scraping up and mixing the paint from the palette, this implement has been adopted for the application of heavily impacted paint which is spread thickly like butter

Palladium: chemical element of atomic number 46, a rare silvery-white metal resembling platinum; does not tarnish at ordinary temperatures and is used (alloyed with gold) in jewelry

Paper mâché: a technique for creating forms by mixing wet paper pulp with glue or paste. The form hardens as it dries, and becomes suitable for painting. Although paper mâché is a French word which literally means "chewed paper", it was originated by the Chinese - the inventors of paper.

Pastel: a crayon made from pigment mixed with gum and water and pressed into a stick-shaped form; a work of art created from pastels; a pale color.

Photorealism: a style of painting in which an image is created in such exact detail that it looks like a photograph; uses everyday subject matter, and often is larger than life.

Pigment: any coloring agent, made from natural or synthetic substances, used in paints or drawing materials; the substance in paint or anything that absorbs light, producing (reflecting) the same color as the pigment.

Plein air: French for "open air", referring to landscapes painted out of doors with the intention of catching the impression of the open air.

Portrait: a painting, photograph, or other artistic representation of a person.

Principles of design: the basic aesthetic considerations that guide organization of a work of art. They include balance, movement, emphasis, contrast, proportion, space, and unity.

Printmaking: the process by which a work of art can be recreated in great quantity from a single image usually prepared from a plate.

Quill: a pen is made from a flight feather (preferably a primary) of a large bird, most often a goose. Quills were used as instruments for writing with ink before the metal dip pen, the fountain pen, and eventually the ball point pen came into use.

rabbet graphicRabbet: in art, the "L" cut all around the perimeter of the frame, against which glass, mat, or picture panels are installed (see illustration).

Reproduction: a copy of an original print or fine art piece. A reproduction could be in the form of a print, like an offset-lithographic print, or even reproduced in the same medium as the original, as in an oil painting.

Sculpture: any three-dimensional form created as an artistic expression. Sculpture is primarily concerned with space: occupying it, relating to it, and influencing the perception of it.

Sketch: a rough drawing used to capture the basic elements and structure of a situation often used as the basis for a more detailed work.

Stained glass: glass that has been colored or stained through different processes. This term is also used to refer to the art of cutting colored glass into different shapes and joining them together with lead strips to create a pictorial window design

Sterling silver: an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper.

Still life: a painting or other two-dimensional work of art representing inanimate objects such as bottles, fruit, and flowers. Also, the arrangement of these objects from which a drawing, painting, or other art work is made.

stretching canvasStretcher: a wooden frame over which the canvas of a painting is stretched.

Texture: the tactile surface characteristics of a work of art that are either felt or perceived visually.

Three-dimensional: occupying or giving the illusion of three dimensions (height, width, depth).

Thumbnail sketch: crude, small pencil drawings used to develop the initial concept for a design.

Trompe l'oeil: French for "fool the eye." A two-dimensional representation that is so naturalistic that it looks actual or real (three-dimensional.) This form of painting was first used by the Romans thousands of years ago in frescoes and murals.

Turpentine: a high quality oil paint thinner and solvent.

Two-dimensional: having two dimensions (height and width); referring to something that is flat.

Underdrawing: preliminary drawing that lies under the final painted or inked image.

Underpainting: the preliminary coats of paint in a painting that render the basic outline before the final paint layers are added to complete the work.

Vignette: an image or painting where the borders are undefined and seem to fade away gradually until it blends into the background.

Wash: used in watercolor painting, brush drawing, and occasionally in oil painting to describe a broad thin layer of diluted pigment or ink. Also refers to a drawing made in this technique.

Watercolor: a water-based paint that is a translucent wash of pigment; a painting produced with watercolors.

Watermark: a watermark is a design embossed into a piece of paper during its production and used for identification of the paper and paper maker. The watermark can be seen when the paper is held up to light.

Wet-on-wet: a painting technique that is well-known as being the primary method of painting used by Bob Ross. Since lighter colors will usually mix with darker colors if laid over top of them while wet, the technique relies on painting from light colors up. This gives the painting a soft look, and allows the colors to be blended to the painter's desire.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Balancing a small art gallery with big business feel

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When coming up with the business plan for Cow Art and More, I wanted to make sure customers had the amenities the larger "box stores" offered, but wanted to be equally as sure that people could feel like they were getting more than "big box store" service.

A few of the "big items" that I included:

  • A toll free phone number and toll free fax number. It shouldn't cost you to contact us. Both of our phone lines have toll free options (or you can call us on our direct number as well)
  • An organized way to ship orders to customers and have them know about it. I can print postage in our office and forward package tracking numbers directly to the purchaser.
  • A small commercial space to conduct a little business. Since I have three small children, I usually work from home, but have rented a small space that serves some basic business needs like shipping and receiving and whenever I need to meet with someone.
  • A website that could provide customers with the "online experience" they had grown accustomed too. This included not only the ability to purchase cow art, but a website (that at least on my end), made the experience of managing and buying art from an art gallery easy. To be honest, this has been one of the biggest challenges. (more to come on this in a future blog post)
  • After being online for about 6 months, we added a print catalog to our repertoire. You might be thinking, 'Why am I just now hearing about this?'. Mostly because if you have high speed internet access, you already have access to our most expansive, up-to-date catalog. The print catalog is only done twice year and is intended for our customers that don't have internet access or don't have high speed internet access (Gasp! -- I can't imagine doing this on a dial up connection). The print catalog only highlights our best sellers is almost always out of date by the time it goes out since Cow Art and More is adding new art all the time.
So what do I do to keep things "real"?

  • Sometimes I answer the phone. Yeah, me. The owner, big enchilada, artist herself. I must admit that love hearing some of the customer reactions when they find out they're talking to the person in charge.
  • I make it a point to follow up with everyone who makes a purchase personally. It's not done by some email bot or autoresponder. I send everyone an email asking about their purchase and not only how satisfied they are with their art, but the entire purchase experience.
  • I include a small note of thanks with each art shipment that we handle from the home office. I am truly grateful that you find our art worthy of including in your collection or beautiful enough for a gift.
  • I write blog posts like this. I think art can be intimidating for some people, especially if you're not schooled in it. You don't have to be an expert to know what you like or don't like.
  • I am happy to have conversations with people through social media outlets like this blog, Facebook and Twitter. I talk about more than art, but enjoy having thoughtful conversations, even when the opinions are different than mine.
  • Don't tell anyone this, but I check email and make and take phone calls after hours. I am trying to balance being and artist and art gallery owner with being a mom and veterinarian and don't mind working when necessary to get everything done. So if you call, and the phone message says we're closed and you choose to leave a message, I will probably answer the phone if I'm in the office.
What else do you see that you would like? What else have you noticed that is missing from this list?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How Cow Art and More artists are selected

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*Another version of this post appeared on this blog in October 2010.*

One of the questions I get asked by the art and agriculture communities is how artists and their work are selected for inclusion on Cow Art and More. I would say only one in eight artists, where contact has been initiated by myself or the artist, end up exhibiting their art with Cow Art and More.

Why is that the case?

First, while Cow Art and More is not a traditional "brick and mortar" gallery, we still hold ourselves to the same top standards. We not are not like an Ebay or Etsy site where anyone can list their art. If an artist's work meets an initial appeal, I make a point to interview the artist.

I like to get to know the artists because we like to include ones who have a genuine interest in agriculture. More than half of our artists live on a farm and/or own livestock themselves. It is that understanding, we feel translates into the beauty of creating the art of farms and farm animals.

Once the artist has passed an interview, the work is reviewed by committee for its uniqueness and appeal to our customer base. We feel very strongly that the art must "add something" to the agricultural art portfolio we offer. That same art must also offer good value; it needs to be something the new owner will cherish for years to come.

If the committee finds that the artist is a good fit, an official invitation is extended. While there are a few artists that find they're unable to make a commitment to us at this point, the ones that do understand our business and the efforts we make in providing high quality art and excellent customer care.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How does a cattle veterinarian become a jewelry artist?

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It is a rather interesting combination isn't it? I love every minute of being both; veterinary medicine allows me to serve the agriculture community and the jewelry and art nurtures my creative side. So just how did all this get started? I am reposting a blog entry from October 2010 with a few additions in red type.

*This is reposted from October 2010.*

It's hard to believe this collection of cow art has been online for two years now! (Actually, it's almost 3 years now. Our official first day of business was September 1, 2008.) I have loved every minute of making art and connecting with cow art lovers worldwide. One question I continue to get asked, just how did this get started?

I decided to become a veterinarian when I was 11 or 12. (I promise, I will get to the question at hand.) (I really don't remember what precipitated that decision, but I remember being a young girl and decided that was what I was going to do.) Once I made that decision, I knew I had to do everything possible to get into veterinary school. This meant taking lots of science based classes and other academic classes to get me into college. While I took art classes in high school here and there, they just didn't fit into the schedule to take as many as I would have liked.

I went on to college, still with a love of art, but still with a desire to go to veterinary school. Veterinary colleges spell out very clearly what it takes to apply. Unfortunately art classes aren't a prerequisite. While I took a few arts and humanities classes in college, I didn't get to fully investigate any potential art talents. In fact, I didn't do any art activities in college. Looking back, I wish I had done some of that.

The hard work and dedication paid off. I was accepted to veterinary school and headed off with zeal. This time, there was not even the option of taking art classes. (imagine that -- although I insisted on using colored pencils to draw what I was learning in histology class) I continued to explore art museums when I had the chance, but veterinary studies still took priority.

When I graduated veterinary school, I took my first job as a cattle veterinarian and moved to Florida. While I wasn't crazy about living in Florida, I did love that art and culture seem to be the "norm" here. In the spring and fall, there are regular art festivals and within the city of Gainesville, (where the University of Florida is and where I live now), visual and performing arts are just a way of life. Call it karma, call it destiny, call it fate or call it pure dumb luck, but I know if I hadn't moved to Florida, things wouldn't have turned out the way the have. (I can't remember why I took this cow's picture, but I suspect it was because she had quite the special head wrap from her favorite veterinarian. Thinking now it must have had something to do with a dehorn job if things were bleeding enough to warrant a head bandage. Anyway, it's an example of what I do as a cattle vet.)

It was in the summer of 2001 that, at a friend's barbecue (in fact, another large animal veterinarian), I met a well known local jewelry artist. She explained that she was teaching a beginner level metalsmithing class in a couple of weeks and suggested I take it. I did and I was instantly hooked. That was the beginning. Actually, too, that was the beginning of a great friendship as well. The jewelry artist, whose name is Susan, has been incredibly giving with her time and knowledge. I will forever be grateful for inspiring my artistic talents.

That year for Christmas, I made jewelry gifts for close family and friends. It was after a friend of my mom's saw the necklace she was wearing and asked if I could make her one too that I made my first sale. I continued to take a few classes from my original teacher. She was impressed with my skills and encouraged me to apply for art shows. I chose a small local show, applied, and was accepted. (I think my reaction was, "OMG, they accepted me??!!?? Now what do I do?") That was October 2002.

In the summer of 2003, I had the opportunity to study at the Penland School of Craft. Now you might think as someone who might be considered "intelligent" would have a huge advantage. Yeah...not so. I joked that I was the class moron. Everyone else in the class was in some stages of an art degree, not to mention the first person I met in the class that day had just finished a huge sculpture for the city of Rochester, New York. Somehow when the others asked if I had been published, I don't think they meant the articles I co-authored in the Society for Theriogenology journal.

Okay, maybe this isn't going to work, I thought. But once again, call it fate, karma, destiny or pure dumb luck, the teacher of the class (who was a replacement for the original teacher who had been in an accident), was a gifted jewelry artist who's father was what else? A veterinarian! The teacher and I hit if off in a big way, and I was pretty lucky to get the equivalent of a bachelor of fine arts degree crash course in two weeks. After that is when things really started clicking for me.

While I was making jewelry during this time, it was much more "artsy". My agriculture friends asked if I made cow jewelry. I simply looked at them like they had 3 eyes and replied, "No." As much as I love cows, I really didn't want to make jewelry of them. Veterinary medicine doesn't leave much room for creativity and I really wanted to do something different when I was in the studio. As I realize now, though, I just hadn't found the right idea yet. (The pendant at left is from 2004. It is a pin/pendant of chrysocolla, sterling silver and bronze.)

My farm friends continued to pester me about making a line of farm jewelry. It wasn't that it was a bad idea, I just wanted something extra special. I wanted something very unique and classy, but most of all realistic. While attending a local veterinary meeting in the fall of 2007, I saw someone selling charm jewelry pieces of cats and dogs. (It was more like, "What are all those people doing in that booth?" It was so crammed full of people that it took me a couple of minutes to get to the counter to see that it was cat and dog jewelry. Oh yeah -- major light bulb moment.) It was then that the idea of the cow jewelry came to me. After doing a little visual research on the internet, I realized I had some unique ideas to make realistic farm jewelry. I knew my experience within agriculture would allow me to make cow jewelry that not only I found to be realistic, but agriculture enthusiasts would too.

Along the way of my jewelry career, I also met other artists who had a fascination with cows and created art representing them. I thought it would be great to include them in my venture as well. The planning for Cow Art and More began in the spring of 2008. I began production of the charms and recruited other artists to become a part of my "family". I officially launched Cow Art and More on September 1, 2008, with a few charms and a handful of artists. I now represent over 25 cow art artists and have 7 charms, with 3 more to launch any day now. (Left is my rosette charm, shown in 18 K yellow gold).

I'm very enthusiastic about the future of Cow Art and More. I was excited to be asked to sell cow art at the 2011 National Holstein Convention and honored to have coordinated the unique stained glass trophies given last month at the All American Red and White Holstein show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It is quite satisfying knowing that the beauty of agricultural art can bring joy to people's daily lives.

Isn't it great how things work out? I never would have guessed in a million years this is where things would be.

What did I miss that you're still wanting to know more about?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday's agriculture website - Aquaculture

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Have you ever wondered what it takes to get started in fish farming? The Indiana Soybean Alliance has a website that shows exactly what it takes to get started in aquaculture. The site contains business resources that begin with planning and mapping out pre-production needs, all the way through to processing and marketing the finished product. The site even discusses the different species of fish used in aquaculture and some of the regulations involved.
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