Contrasting Black

If you talk to some painters, they will tell you that black is an unnatural color and it shouldn’t be used.  I’m not one of them, I use black even in paintings with color.  Personally, I think black is essential, and a dash of it will really help everything else be more visible.  Black is really great if you want some drama, as in the photo above that I took yesterday.

Here is another example.  Between the two drawings, I think it looks much better once the darks are truly darkened.  That will happen with steady, even pressure, and a pencil that’s on the soft side.

side by side dragon.png

You can also see this principle with pen and ink.  Drawings with fields of black just pop out a little better and draw the eye.  I was trying for this effect when I did this lioness.  I think you will see she stands out a lot better than her stretching sister.

sleeping-lioness-postpro-1000

lioness-1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black also looks better in drawings when you use smooth fields of it, and let it truly be dark.  Here, by the way, is an example of a painting where I used black in a color setting.  It’s a book cover that had some pretty specific requirements.

Experimental C corrected 800.png

 

 

\https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/black/

Pairing Poetry with Pictures

If you want to draw your readers to your poetry, add color.  Better yet, add a drawing or photograph.  It can be surprisingly easy to pair a poem with an appropriate photograph.  Here I’ll share some tips for doing just that!

First, start with your poem.  I’m using this one, recently written by poet Lenore Plassman.

August Afternoon

Birds down in the creek dive and chatter

the cells in my ears twitch in acknowledgement

tomatoes ripened to a mirror shine

my bones stretch to grasp flown over,

common doves arc my synapses alert,

sucking in moisture another Sunday,

another tromp humble pie and humble be

for now that’s what I get:

another moment piled into all that live

cell into cell, above, below.

 

It’s nice, and could use an interesting photo to draw her readers in.  So I noodle around on Pixabay (I’m a contributing member, but you don’t have to be) and select something that matches the mood and theme of the poem.  I look for something with an area on it that could be overlaid with text.  I come up with this image:

dove-1269441_640.jpg

That works okay.  Next, I think about my text.  I decide to go with a simple font in white to match the simple words of the piece.  I use GIMP, a free program, for all my editing needs.  I work in layers to make things easier.  You could do most of this in Paint if you wanted to.  I placed my text, picked a size that was readable, tweaked the position of various things, and cropped my image to make the poem the focal point.  I got this:

August Afternoon Poem 900.jpg

Simple, eyecatching, and great for Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.  You can even have the poem printed out at a drug store or online, and make little handout cards with them.  Happy creating!

 

 

 

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Sparking Your Creativity

When looking for ideas for drawing, painting, poetry or sculpture, it can be helpful to think outside the crate. Or think outside the corrugated cardboard container. Or the cube. Or the containment device. Or the little space bounded by roughly equal sides and describable by geometry.

It’s not too useful to just say “be creative,” without having some ways to encourage that in your head! Creativity is like a muscle. Once you get your mind warmed up, you will be more creative with your other projects, not just the little exercises listed here.

My mother, who is a writer as well, gave me a great idea so I’ll mention it here. She has been writing poetry and short works with five randomly selected words. That can be a great way to kickstart creativity! You can even close your eyes, open a dictionary, and point. Or find a random word generator and use that. The idea is to cause new, unexpected input to come into your mind and spark new ideas. Creativity often comes when you take two unrelated ideas and play around with how they could be connected. And it’s hard to get new ideas without new input.

Something I frequently like to do is take some object, natural or created, and examine it closely, perhaps even under a magnifying glass or microscope if you have one. Even a pinecone can be a fascinating thing to explore if you really get into examining all the shapes, shadows, ridges and texture of it. Maybe it could become part of a new creature, or an idea for a structural support on a building? This can work for artists, writers, sculptors, or anyone else who wants to rev up their creativity.

Macro photography on the internet can be a fascinating way to look at the world. So can Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” feature. Take a walk and examine something you’ve never looked at before. Read an article about a subject you known nothing about. Pick a word at random and look up websites about it. Read quotes from famous people you’ve never heard of. That can trigger new ideas too.

Creativity requires imagination. If you open your eyes, literally or figuratively, and get interested in the world, great ideas follow.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/create/

Artistic Tenacity

To be any kind of an artist, tenacity is a critical skill.  Whether you are writing, painting or dancing, you must continue to push your limits.  When others don’t believe in you, standing firm against the naysayers will allow you to keep creating.  When someone has hard advice, having tenacity will help you take it and improve.  Tenacity can mean being responsive to events, using a setback as an opportunity.  Tenacity makes success possible. Those who don’t have it rarely succeed!

There’s good news.  Even if you’re a person who gives up easily, tenacity can be built.  Though it can be a natural quality, it can also be a habit.  Just practice not giving up.  If you don’t succeed, just try again later.  As a skill, it can be learned.

Winston Churchill knew a lot about tenacity.  When he was young, he was thin and weak, but he made himself an athlete.  He was terrified of public speaking, but he forced himself to learn and became one of the best orators in history.  That spirit serves all artists and creative people well!

Churchill quotes about tenacity:

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference.”

“Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.”

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

“What is adequacy? Adequacy is no standard at all.”

“It is wonderful what great strides can be made when there is a resolute purpose behind them.”

“This is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

-Winston Churchill

 

via Daily Prompt: Tenacious

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Freelancer tip: Avoid clients who pay… later.

Payment can be a tough subject for many of us who are freelancers.  Yet, it’s important!  After all, why are we working?  Sure, we truly enjoy our craft, whether it be writing, visual art, graphic design, crafts, or whatever the case may be.  But we don’t do it purely for love.  We do it because we need something to pay the bills and put food on the table.

That’s why today’s post is dedicated to that most uplifting of prose, “pay to the order of.”  We’ll talk about pay, getting paid, and things to do to make sure you get paid!  If anyone has questions, feel free to ask and I’ll probably add it on as another question.

Tips for Freelancers:

Set clear expectations.

Have a place on your website that explains when you expect to be paid, how much, and when.  Then you will have a leg to stand on when someone starts to argue.  For an example, check out my commissions page:  http://rohvannynshaw.com/commissions/

Have a contract.

This helps both client and creator understand the terms of the deal, and protects both if something goes wrong.  When is pay expected?  When is the work supposed to be complete?  What is the scope of the work, and how many rounds of editing are allowed before the client needs to pay more?  This prevents clients from adding extra things or deciding to pay… later.  Keep all copies and send the contract in a PDF if you have to email it, that way nothing can be changed.

Price fairly.

This means not pricing too high, but it also means not pricing too low.  Do research in your field, and see what other people doing similar work get paid.  If you price too high, you may not get customers.  If you price too low, you devalue other people’s work and you also may drive customers off.  After all, no one likes to buy at a fire sale.

Keep all records.

I said it above, but it bears repeating.  Don’t just keep the contract.  Also keep all emails (preferably archived in PDF format) related to the project, all materials provided to you, and any other correspondence.  Keep it in a separate folder and if possible archive it on a thumb drive, just so you have it ready to hand in case you need it.  This way, if someone takes legal action against you, or you need to do the same, you’ll have everything and won’t have to go hunting around.

Don’t discount.

Family and friends are famous for asking for “buddy discounts.”  The trouble with this is, they often start offering that same discount to their own friends.  Pretty soon every available client seems to think they should get the family rate.  I didn’t think this would happened to me and it did – so it can happen to anyone.  It can happen to you.  So price fairly and then if they give you static, calmly explain that this is the going rate for professional work.

Don’t “do it for the clicks.”

Doing work for exposure only goes so far.  I write for free on this blog and I feature artists and authors for free.  However, I never do art, editing, or manuscripts for free.  You can’t eat clicks, you can’t pay bills with exposure.  Not only that, but every time someone does something for free it drives down the value of what other freelancers do!

Fire clients if you have to.

It can be scary to fire a client.  You may think “I’ll never find another,” or “how am I supposed to work if I fire my clients?”  So I’m not saying to fire every client, or to do it quickly and easily.  However, some people are just not worth your valuable time or stress level.  If you have a client who keeps trying to get you to lower your rates after you’ve agreed on a price, or if they treat you badly, or if they make it impossible to do a good job, fire them.  Do it simply, do it calmly, and you don’t have to explain why.

Set limits on how much you will do for a certain fee.

If you write, put a clause in your contract saying “includes three rounds of editing.”  You can do something similar for art.  If you build websites, find out up front  how many pages you’ll be designing.  Think similarly for any other project.  Otherwise, you may have a client who creates a seemingly endless project for one low starter fee.

Don’t undersell the competition by too great a margin.

If everyone is designing book covers for $200-$500, don’t say “hey, I’ll do just as good a job for ten bucks!”  You’ll see this all over DeviantArt.  People will do amazing work for five or ten dollars, or even for free.  Now, the artists are just thinking about having fun and not considering the effects of what they are doing.  However, you have a choice.  For every freelancer who offers services at rock bottom prices, other freelancers can’t put food on the table because people are using the ultra-cheap options offered by the irresponsible freelancers.  Sites like Fiverr.com, by offering extremely low prices, are ultimately harming the industry.  Don’t be part of that trend.  Remind your clients and potential clients that they get what they pay for, and can rely on  you to provide professional, responsible service at a fair price.

Be responsive to questions.

When someone asks a question about you or your business, be friendly, informative, and respond quickly.  This is especially true if they contact you via your contact link on your website.  One of the great things about hiring a freelancer is being able to communicate openly with them, so help people see that advantage by being there.

Be punctual and professional.

Similarly, if there is a time expectation set, meet or exceed that expectation.  Use good business style in all your communications.  Be unfailingly polite and cheerful.  Explain things clearly and answer all questions.  If there is a misunderstanding, be as clear as you can and try to help your client understand.  Sometimes misunderstandings can be as simple as a different use of language, and easily solved with a few questions.

Being a freelancer can be a lot of fun and a very rewarding career.  Following these tips will help it be even better!

via Daily Prompt: Later\

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Very thought provoking article

Before you start to worry that Bella has somehow gotten lost and found her way under my house, don’t worry. She’s fine, apart from some minor digestive complaints she’s had lately. The dog to which the title of this article refers is another one entirely, one I only discovered recently due to unusual circumstances and […]

via So There’s a Dog in My Floorboards — Mark All My Words