by Brian Kliewer on 4/28/2012 9:28:20 AM7 Comments
Or as Winnie the Pooh might say...Oh Bother!
Sorry to have just dropped out of site (pun intended) but....I have to keep telling myself... I love my computer! I love my computer! I love my computer!
Well, not so much these days. I've gotten A LOT of good use out of it! But it is getting old and acting very much like it has a virus, which I don't believe is the case...though I will continue to update and scan, scan, scan! (And Mac lovers, don't preach...if you've been keeping up with tech news, you KNOW you're not safe either. Does Flashback ring a bell?) No...not trying to scare you. I've just seen too many "smug" Mac users over the years...and, Smug + Mac = smack!
Anyway, the first inkling I got something was up is when my Task Manager started to look like this:
It's supposed to look like this:
I couldn't close it, let alone expand or minimize it.
I don't know how it happened but it apparently got "minimized" within itself instead of to the Taskbar....? The only way I could close it was by right clicking on the tray icon and checking "close." I thought I'd mention this because it apparently can happen with any Windows XP machine. The quick fix is to double click the gray box. Doing that will expand it to full size.
Whether this is a glitch or not (apparently not), I never knew about it before. I did know about clicking the blue bar across the top but never realized I could double click the gray box and adjust its properties that way, too.
OK, so here I am...again... but I don't know for how long. I did some tweaking to get my machine running again, and it has worked. This is why I don't believe it's virus related, plus the fact that my scans have all been clean. (It actually has been running the entire time...it's Windows that hasn't been loading properly.)
I'll be back in full swing as soon as I can be, either with an upgrade to this computer...or with an entirely new one.
Ciao! Or as Piglet might say.... "Oh, dear. Oh d-d-d-dear, dear!"
I've decided to create a new category for my blog. I'll post a Weekend Video every once in a while if I find something that's relevant to both Maine and my work. Beech Hill Preserve is because it's one of my earliest inspirations. Two of my first paintings shown publicly were inspired by Beech Hill.
When I first visited many years ago, it wasn't being cared for in any special way. The doors and windows on the stone hut at the top of the hill were covered with rusty sheets of metal and not much else was being done. In fact, there were "no trespassing" signs posted in several places. I discovered this after reaching the top and coming back down by a different path. I found the sign on the original path I had taken pulled up and thrown aside. Today as you can see, under the care of the trust, it's become quite the place for a hike. I haven't checked the hut out inside yet, but I intend to this year.
by Brian Kliewer on 4/20/2012 8:39:00 AM6 Comments
Comments have value!
I just wanted to take a moment to give an example of the power of blogging, and leaving comments on them.
The comment below was left on my blog three months ago. I've highlighted Dot's comment for a reason. The search below it took place in March...
(I saved Dot's comment as a jpeg. That's why you see my copyright notice on it. It just looks like text here on the page. Her original comment is still on my post, "Marketing Art On The Internet, Part 2")
As you can see, someone DID search on "pontatoc, ms," "belted galloway in pontatoc, ms" to be exact, and landed on Dot's comment! On my site, you'll see Belted Galloway paintings. But I've never seen a visitor come looking for "Pontotoc Mississippi" before.
Now by no means am I telling you to "tailor" your comments for search. That wouldn't work...and if I see it, I'm going to delete it as spam as would most other bloggers. But being natural does work...and you never know who is going to search for what. After all, there are millions upon millions of searches being conducted every day! One source states that the average number of searches in 2011 on Google alone was 4,717,000,000...per day.
The only problem with me using this example is that with "secure search" in Google, which more and more people are using, I can't show these kinds of results because they don't appear in my visitor logs. This one was a "non-secure" search. But that doesn't mean they aren't happening. Even with "secure searches," I can still see what pages site visitors land on. Not a lot of information, but still useful. If it had been a "secure search" in this case, I would probably have guessed that someone searched either on Dot Courson's name or Pontotoc, Mississippi.
To have this happen on a comment says something to me. If just a comment can bring in a visitor looking for a particular subject, what can an entire blog post itself written on that subject do? So is blogging a "crap shoot" or a waste of time? I think not.
This blog is, for me, about "community." That's what I want most out of it. So I've tried to think of ways that I can make it more of a "community." But the blog is still "new" in that until a few months ago, I hadn't really used it very much. So how do I plan to build this "community"?
Here's what I propose
Anyone who comments gets a link back to his/her site or blog because that's how the blog template works - if they add a site/blog url when they leave a comment, that is. (See my Comment Policy.) But I have something different in mind...
I plan to create a single post and call it "A Blogroll." It will become a permanent part of this blog. If you have a blog and leave a comment, I will check it out (just remember to link to it). If I like it well enough, you might get a special, "featured" link in one of my newsletters. How?
How it will work
At the end of each month, I'll take a look at the most commented on posts and visit the artists' blogs I see. I'll select up to 5 blogs I particularly like and give a link to each on that post. As space permits, I'll include a thumbnail of your work, to give my readers a little preview. (Unlike many "blogrolls" you often see, this really will be a list of blogs I actually DO follow.) How will this post (blogroll) stay "prominent" or "above the fold" on this blog? I'll "tag" it (as I've done with this one) which will leave it as a permanent link on the sidebar you see to the left. Since tagged posts appear alphabetically, you can see where "A Blogroll"places on it (this post will be replaced with the blogroll itself once I get it started in June). I'll also highlight this post in my newsletter. This will be my blogroll. So what's the big deal? Well, there is a difference...
How to get a "Featured Link"
If I like your blog and work well enough, it will get a review along with a link in my newsletter.
More about this post (blogroll) itself...
This will be a "standalone" post. No wading through a list of text only sidebar links.
I'll be categorizing artists by the work they do, landscape, figures, animals, medium, etc.
Regularly updated, well written blogs with nice photos will get special attention.
One selected artist per month whose work and blog I particularly like will get a writeup (review) which will be included in my newsletter.
The ratings aren't as big a deal as they might seem. Mainly I'm looking for quality. Technical writing ability isn't that important - though I'm not going to link to a blog full of typos - it can be casual, for instance. Friendliness is more important to me. Your writing just needs to be understandable and consistent. I don't want to send my visitors to sites that are going to waste their time or that present a slipshod attitude. And with that in mind, to get a featured link, your blog will have to load quickly. Is it optimized? Check out this Empty Easel article on optimizing your images.
But with High Speed connections, why does download speed matter?
This is why... "..... mobile customers often have bandwidth caps and throttling. So if your page takes longer to load because of its size, it can push them over the limit. This can make your site look bad. While the bandwidth caps and throttling are caused by the cell phone networks, most customers aren't going to associate the problems they have with a website with their cell phone network, they are going to blame the site they are on. It's not fair, but it's true."
And blogs can be notoriously slow! They can load so much information all at once, it's just inevitable that they do load slowly if they are not properly managed.Don't get mad at me. I'm really just doing YOU a favor in mentioning this.
Remember, quality is what I'm looking for. Design, readability, load speed and appropriateness as well as the artwork quality itself will all factor into it.
How does this benefit me?
Besides giving me a reciprocal link, this would give me more opportunities for blog content... a resource. If I see something on your blog I'd like to write further on, I could. I can't if I don't see it. With an interactive blogroll that I can check back on myself, it would give me a "well" to draw from. Don't worry, "copying" isn't what I'm talking about. I'm only interested in posting original content on my blog...but an article I might see that could be expanded upon could be useful. And I would always give a link back in any subsequent posts I might write. So you'd get another link in the process, in addition to your blogroll link. Sound good?
Your comments are welcome, but here's what I expect...
Comments are welcomed and encouraged on this blog, but there are some instances where comments will be edited or deleted as follows:
Comments deemed to be spam or questionable spam will be deleted. Including a link to relevant content is permitted, but comments should be relevant to the post topic.
Comments including profanity will be deleted.
Comments containing language or concepts that could be deemed offensive will be deleted.
Comments that attack a person individually will be deleted.
This blog is about community. Please respect others who comment.
I reserve the right to edit or delete any comments submitted to this blog without notice. This comment policy is subject to change at anytime.
So what can you expect from me?
I try to answer all comments as soon as possible. However, comment notices don't always come in. I check my most recent posts but if you leave a comment on an older post and don't hear back from me it's because I didn't get notice of it. I don't ignore people intentionally.
I appreciate your comments. A good comment deserves a link...
(Note: If I find your linking site or blog to be offensive or spammy I will delete your comment.)
by Brian Kliewer on 4/12/2012 9:30:53 AM4 Comments
Paintings and words by a true Maine-iac
I've come up with what I think is the perfect title for my blog.... "Diary of a Maine-iac Painter." I'm sure some think of me as a maniac anyway but the truth is, I am a Maine-iac...born and raised. So be it. It's done.
As I was pondering titles, Maine-iac Painter really struck a chord. So I did a Google search and found a pdf about Masrden Hartley. It was all about his decision to embrace his Maine heritage. The article is from the Colby Library Quarterly (Colby College, dated 1965) and entitled, "A MAINE-IAC IN SEARCH OF TRADITION" by Robert Merideth.
I've struggled with this, too, even though I've referred to myself online as a "Maine artist" for years. I have because I am; "branding" was never part of it. But I liked Hartley's words...
"He who finds will
to come home
will surely find old faith
made new again
and lavish welcome."
− Marsden Hartley, "Return of the Native" (1940)
This wasn't an easy decision to make. I've been thinking about it for quite a while and renaming a blog isn't easy. In my case it's not as difficult as it might be for some since the url and rss feed will remain the same. RSS subscribers should have no problems and my blog link is still http://kliewerstudio.com/blog.
Coming up with something that uniquely fits what I'm doing or want to do is/was difficult, however. But the more I kept seeing "I Wish to Speak to You," the staler it became. And the blog and my work in general have been going more in a "Maine" direction all the time...it's just been a natural progression. So this feels right to me.
A Maine-iac defined:
Maineiacs live in Maine and were born in Maine, preferably of Maineiac parents. There is an old saying, "If a cat had kittens in the oven, you wouldn't call them biscuits." Others are known as being from away, or worse, as summer complaints. These are NOT my words. People "from away" and "summer complaints" are more than welcome. :)
Google be damned, SEO has nothing to do with this change. I really don't care. It's about who I am and what I do...as it should be.
by Brian Kliewer on 4/10/2012 9:55:32 PM2 Comments
Watching the Windjammers Sail on Penobscot Bay
This interest started for me as a little boy. I remember seeing the ships many times from our kitchen window as they headed out of Rockland Harbor. It has continued on down through the years. As a teen, I watched the "Great Schooner Race" as the ships passed the breakwater. I remember when they started gathering every year, long before the city of Rockland took note. Eventually, there was a celebration called "Schooner Days" that was developed around it but it seemed to take quite a while before the city fathers caught on. Maybe I'm being a little "harsh" here, I don't know. We still have the North Atlantic Blues Festival in July, at least and the fleet graces us with its Windjammer Parade that same weekend.
This year's race itself will start in Rockland the week before (July 6) and end in Camden, but I miss the days when it finished here. It was always fun to watch the schooners heading in as fast as they could. I will try to see the parade, however. It's still a beautiful sight. It just doesn't seem the same without the 'racing to the finish' aspect of it.
It Started with a ship in a Bottle
When I was nine or ten, I built a ship in a bottle using one of the schooners as a model. Yes, it was a ship in a bottle. I carved the hull from a stick of wood, and added the masts, rigging, sails and all. I didn't build it "in" the bottle as I have seen some do. Nor did I cut the bottle in any way as I also have seen some do. I built it outside but hinged the masts and raised them by pulling on a string after sliding it inside. Worked fine. I saw a short film clip on a children's television program (The Captain Kangaroo Show?) of a man building one and decided I wanted to try it, too.
The method I used was very similar to the one used in this YouTube video...
I did everything "from scratch." Even the bottle used was a regular wine or vinegar bottle, not wide like the one you see in the video. This is where my interest in the schooner fleet started. But, really, it started earlier than that...
This is my grandfather. I never knew him; he died more than a decade before I was born. He was a sea captain...not of any schooners that I'm aware of but he did command his own ship. Here he's aboard ship, having a sandwich and a cup of coffee. I believe this was taken in the late 1930s or early 40s. This is, sadly, the only picture I have of him.
My mother used to tell me stories about his trips around the world. His own story itself is like a Rudyard Kipling tale. He ran away from home as a young boy, was stowaway on a ship and didn't return until he was of legal age. That's how he came to love the sea. Many who knew him thought him to be a college graduate, but he was in or had completed the third grade when he ran away and never had very much "formal" schooling after that. He was truly a "self-made man."
My interest in the sea has always been flavored with things I remember my mother telling me. But I never developed the kind of love for it my grandfather had. Not that I couldn't have... it just didn't develop in me. I was a "landlubber" and my landscape paintings and such have proven that over the years. But this is an area that I have always wanted to explore...
In my own way this series of paintings is meant as sort of a personal tribute to my grandfather. I've always wanted to do it but held off because I am not a "nautical" artist. In fact, I have no intention of becoming one. I have no intention of trying to be the next Christopher Blossom or Montague Dawson (both excellent in their own right). That's not the idea...
I'm a painter and this project is a learning experience. More than anything, I want to broaden my view. I mean it when I describe it as a learning experience and I fully expect to take some shots from "old salts" who might see something "wrong." I don't care...that won't stop me. I'll do my best and you can bet that means learning as much as I can in the process. That's what it's all about for me. But isn't that what it's supposed to be about for any artist?
I'm going to try to get a new windjammer painting posted here before the week is over. Thanks for following along.
I'm working on making this blog better. As you can see on the front (Main) page, I now have a "header" photo that, at least to me, better represents it.
I've had a few snafus. In trying to be "human," I've posted a few things that were meant to be funny but came off sounding more ill-tempered. I apologize for that. But I won't apologize for my opinions. I do have them and I don't want a "staid" blog that offers none. But I'll try not to over do it in that area...and you will see more humor. I intend to be ME here and no one else.
Optimizing for Speed
I'm also trying different things like optimizing it for speed. Have you ever been on a blog that was just endless? I have. I can't read them. It's just a waste of time. Even on a high speed connection...that doesn't matter if no consideration is given to the reader. Posts that go on forever do nothing for me (and, yes, I have written a few myself). With that in mind, this is also why I only allow 5 posts to load while all the others get archived as "Older Posts." I think 5 posts visible at once are enough...10 max. I've been on many blogs that seem to not limit posts in any way at all. Look at this blog now from the main page and you'll see 5 posts. Click on the "Older Posts" link at the bottom of the page and you will still see 5. Only if you click on a subject to the left will you see more, depending on how many posts have been tagged on that particular subject.
I'm also resizing my images for faster loading. This blog template will allow a maximum pixel height/width of 550. I was posting pictures 600 pixels wide. I can go larger if I want, but if I do, it will mess up the download speed. Since I've started resizing and compressing accordingly, I'm seeing better speed test results.
This image was originally over 2000 pixels wide and 1.5 megabytes in file size. Here it's 550 pixels wide and I've compressed the file size to about 25 kilobytes. How does it look to you? I can see some of the effect of compression but it's minor. It is a compromise, though. With my painting images, I want to be as close as possible but without the file size. I should be able to get what I want by resizing to a 550 pixel limit (longest length, height/width) and saving at 72 dpi. I haven't done this with the rest of my site yet. I'm focusing on the blog for now. I want it to be the fastest loading it can be, while maintaining good image quality.
Though I haven't done this much before, I'm going to try things like
using bullets when appropriate.
Numbers will also work.
Indenting might also show up and in case you haven't noticed, Headlines are beginning to appear. Yes, they're real "Headlines," not just bold text. I'm using the h3 header. This is because my template uses the h2 header for Post Titles (permalink URLs). This gets into SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
H1, H2, H3
My blog title is "I Wish To Speak To You." I might rename it for better SEO, haven't decided yet. Since I am a painter, something with that in the title might be better suited. Update: As you can see, it's now called "Diary of a Maine-iac Painter." This suits me much better because I am from Maine, born and raised. Regardless, the header (titles) are in H1 tags (Heading 1), my individual post titles (permalinks) are H2 tags (Heading 2), and the subtitles are H3 tags (Heading 3). See how it works? Update: These tags aren't really that important to me. H1 and H2 are built into the template anyway, so I want an h3 heading coming off my h2 permalink titles. It can help with SEO supposedly (with proper keyword placement, which I'm not going into here, etc.), but...regardless, I like the look of my subtitles better with actual h3 headline tags instead of just "bold" text as I use bold text to highhlight key points in my paragraphs.
Blogroll - Would You Like a Link?
Blogging isn't just about writing text. It's also about presenting your words and images in the best way possible. Yes, I want my images to look as good as possible. But I used to be so caught up in that, I paid no attention to my readers. Download speed meant nothing to me. Well, I have learned. But making a blog more useful to its readers also means giving them something in return for their time. Many of my readers are fellow artists. That being the case, I'm also working on a blogroll...
Would you like a link? Leave a comment and let me know. I'll be posting an in-depth article on this very soon.
I hope to go on one of these whale watching excursions before the summer is over. Maybe I'll get something for a painting. If I could get some good reference material for a nice painting of a breaching whale...now that would be cool! This is a great video! There used to be a boat out of Rockland that offered these tours, if I remember right. I'm not sure if there is now or not...thinking the closest might be Boothbay Harbor.
Of course this sort of activity isn't going to be seen often...this really is an exceptional video! These folks were definitely in the "right place at the right time," no pun intended. It's funny what people's' expectations with these sorts of things are, though. I was searching a couple of whale watching companies on the web, and saw some reviews. One person complained that it was all too packaged - an hour out and an hour back. He said he saw two whales in the 30-45 minutes actual viewing time and then in his comment asks, "Were they planted?"
That reminds me of the tourist who booked a stay at a coastal B&B and, when he arrived, complained about the water being too far from the beach... "It doesn't look like that in your brochure! I want a refund!" The following morning, when the tide was high, he apologized and no longer wanted his money back.
Well, that does it for this week's posts. I'm working on a 12 x 16" painting of one of the windjammers. If things go well, I'll get it posted next week. Have a great weekend!
Don't Forget "Old School" Options in your Online Marketing
This experience is rather unusual, I have to admit. But I thought it was worth writing about because it points to the fact that "email" marketing is still viable and should not be overlooked.
I often listen to several call in talk radio shows while painting and sometimes even send in my own opinion via email. I'm not the call in type myself. I could do that but that's just not my style. And, no...emailing radio talk shows is not part of my marketing strategy. Email is, however, and in every email I send, I include my signature block at the end as you see below (minus the copyright notice). I have it set to load automatically in every message; I don't even have to think about it.
My Email Signature Block
I have two, actually. The other one includes both my phone number and mailing address. This is the basic version ....
Well, I guess I happened to email the right person because he did check my site out and liked my work. Not only that, he bought one of my paintings. And I was quite surprised when I heard my name mentioned LIVE, over the air on national radio - not once - but on two separate occasions. This show isn't related to art in any way, but it is broadcast on over 250 radio stations nationwide. Both mentions included a description of my work and my website along with my name. How about that? But it goes further....
Interests Beyond Art
I have other interests besides painting. I'm also a sports fan and listen to sports talk radio shows sometimes while painting. I had two loves growing up...art and baseball. In fact, my coaches were telling me they thought I had a shot at making the major leagues someday, if I stayed with it. I was a pitcher, but I had to give it up due to health issues and that's when I went full force into painting. But my love of the game never ended and this is how my "radio broadcast" happened...
Advertising I never expected to receive...
I heard something said by the show's host that I had a differing opinion on, and sent in my email. I sent a copy to both hosts, but had no idea at the time that my Bcc (blind carbon copy) email was going to an art fan. This initial email began a series of discussions on art and sports. Not long after, I noticed this person had subscribed to my newsletter. He's been a loyal reader ever since and has followed my work for the last two or three years. Not only did he mention me live on the air, but he also tweeted a link to my site on his Twitter account. Tomm Looney of Fox Sports Radio (Twitter: @LooneyonFox) might not seem like the type who would enjoy and collect art, but he is. He even owns an original work by Ron Wood, of The Rolling Stones. He bought it in SOHO several yeags ago. Well now he owns one of mine, too, and that never would have happened without my email signature block.
This example shows why every artist on the web should be using an email signature, because you just never know. And if you don't have one, my advice would be to make one as soon as possible. But if you don't have one, you're not alone. I still get emails from artists that have no mention of their websites anywhere, and I have to say I just don't get it. Mine have the hyperlinks to my site, but I include the full url just in case the links get "killed" by the recipient's email program. That does happen sometimes. So I don't use links that say only, "My Website" for example. I want the full url to be seen, from the http on. That way, if a person is interested in checking it out, the text url can be copied and pasted into a web browser even if the hyperlink doesn't work.
If you think someone who is "into sports" like Tomm is wouldn't be much of an art fan, think again. Of course I am just a little prejudiced but I think he purchased one of my better studies...
To me, this example is proof that your online marketing can be successful in ways that you might not think of at all and that would be considered, "outside of the box." I never would have thought of getting promotion of any kind from "The JT the Brick Show" on Fox Sports Radio or selling anything to a sports talk radio host. But then I never would have guessed that former tennis star, John McEnroe, or the NBA's, Grant Hill, would be serious art collectors, or that NY Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, would enjoy Broadway musicals. I'm not saying sports is full of people who like art, but this shows you never know. And this is why I include my signature block in EVERY email I send!
A side note: If you have never heard "The JT the Brick Show," they do something special for musical artists called - Music Monday. Every Monday night they feature acts that might not get any national exposure otherwise. I've heard some great talent on it. My guess is, even though I'm a visual artist, Tomm was trying to extend some of that to me thanks to his love of art. Thank you, Tomm!
Have you had email marketing success using a signature block? I'd like to hear about it if so. Please leave a comment.
I had the "nopin" code snippet on my website for about a month. I decided I didn't want my images being "pinned" until I got a better handle on things. But since I now have copyright and website attributions embedded in them, I think I'll allow pinning again - at least for a trial period - and then we'll see where things go from there.
I still have issues with their Terms of Service. Frankly, I don't like them. But with the popularity of the site, blocking it could be like saying "Don't index my site" to Google. And I certainly want my site indexed by Google. Believe it or not, I don't have a problem with people sharing my images. The problem I have is with "P's" TOS. That's it.
Before adding the "nopin" code, I did join Pinterest for a short time. I would never "block" a site like this without at least trying it out first. I "pinned" one of my own images just to test it out and my site got a significant traffic boost the following day....but...
Good Website Traffic or Not?
This was the fly by kind that doesn't do me a lot of good. In fact, each "hit" was on that single page and I don't think anyone even stayed on that one page long enough to really "read" what the blog post was about. I got the same kind of traffic a few years ago after a user on StumbleUpon "stumbled" something on my site. There were over a thousand new visitors overnight. But no one stayed on for any length of time, and very few looked at other pages. But I suppose, if enough traffic were gained, some of those visitors (even if the number were very small) would be the type to stick around longer. They can't ALL be of the Evening Grosbeakfly in and fly out, variety...can they? (If you know anything about Evening Grosbeaks, then you know why I used them as a metaphor.)
My angst over Pinterest really stems from Tumblr. As I've mentioned before, I had an account there too. I watched how things were being shared. Unless the images had an attribution embedded in them, you never knew where they originated. Pinterest requires a link back to the originating site, at least. But those often get lost, or were getting lost, in the "re-pins." That's the same sort of thing I saw on Tumblr. If I do the work, I at least want credit for it. That's all I ask, and I don't think that's too much to be asking.
Well, we'll see how things go with "P" this time. I've seen some reports from bloggers stating that their traffic (comments and readership) has been hurt by it. Others are saying just the opposite. We'll see. But, no, I don't expect to join it again myself. I'll let others do the pinning, if they so choose...at least for now. I can always put the "nopin" code back if needed.