A Really BIG Year in Birding

There is a new record to beat in a USA-based birding big year!  One of the contenders for surpassing the previous ABA record of 749 bird species is written up in a recent article on a Cape Cod based NPR website. It’s an interesting summary of Christian Hagenlocher’s goals for his epic big year.  See his website for loads of information on why he undertook this project and what he hopes to accomplish. Congrats, man, and cheers to more awesome birding in 2017!

My Craft Show Debut!

Tomorrow I will be a vendor at the South County HS 2016 Craft Show in Lorton, VA.  I have everything all packed up and ready to go… See the below image for details and a coupon!  I will have a variety of paintings for sale, with a special discount for in-stock items, and will also be taking orders for personalized paintings.  Hope to see you there!

Technical & Creative Updates

I have been busy during the past couple weeks working on my digital presence. I have created an email mailing list signup form via MailChimp (which I first heard about in the Serial podcasts).  I plan to send the occasional email with coupons for my Etsy shop, and maybe I will develop a periodic newsletter to keep in touch with people who like my work.

I’ve also added a few new widgets to my blog’s sidebar. There you can find my mailing list signup page, plus links to my BlueJayBay Facebook page, Pinterest boards, Twitter feed, and Instagram feed (where you might find my pets as well as my artwork).  I am still quite a novice in the social marketing world, but my hope is that BlueJayBay will be easy to find on the interwebs. The more eyeballs that see your pages, the better your chances will be of having a memorable presence and getting some sales!

I have spent a bit of time reading through the Etsy seller forums to glean tips on search engine optimization, effective use of tags and descriptions in the listings you publish to your shop, and ways to market your products. It seems that the more items you have in your shop (as well as more recently posted items), the better your chances are of being found in Etsy search results. I have read that people seem to notice an uptick in shop activity and sales once you have amassed 100 listings.  I am at 36 items listed, so I’m 36% towards that goal.  (I love easy math!)

On the creative side of things, I have been playing around with masking fluid.  I paint this sticky white-out like substance onto my watercolor paper to reserve certain shapes or words as white.  Once it dries, I can paint over and around the masking fluid areas, such as in the “bonjour” painting above.  Once the paint dries, I remove the masking fluid to reveal mostly pristine white paper underneath.  I learned about this technique in one of my Art League watercolor classes and am having fun using it in different ways.  In the “bonjour” painting, I outlined the white lettering with a pink gel pen to see how that would look. I have seen a lot of listings on Etsy for prints people make with a white area cut out of an abstract watercolor painting. I believe that their process was to paint the abstract watercolor, digitize it, then use a Photoshop type program to cut out the desired shape… Then they can sell print after print, and it seems a profitable easy business.  I may explore that technique down the road, but for now I really enjoy painting each piece of artwork using the traditional method of creating words and shapes ON my paper rather than via digital tools that can act as a Tyrannosaurus rex shaped cookie-cutter.