Jan 21, 2010

Artwork up for sale through my website!

It's taken me a while to get the the site updated, but there are now two categories of my artwork with paintings for sale on my website! These two categories - landscapes and still-lifes have the most paintings in my current inventory, but I will be adding other work soon.

I will also be adding examples of portraits and pet portraits, which can be commissioned and painted from a photo. I have some photos of my dogs here at home that I've been itching to paint.

Please check out the new artwork! Everybody should have something beautiful in their life.





Jan 17, 2010

Tool for donating for emergency relief - Charity Navigator

After the terrible earthquake that rocked Haiti, my husband and I wanted to make a donation to help those in need. While I am not a superstar donor, I have tried over the last few years to give in some form several times a year. I've been donating blood for the last couple of years, and now that I can make my own work hours I have done three donations in a row as soon as I was eligible (just about every two months) through the American Red Cross. I try to go through my closet regularly and pare down usable items I no longer need to give to the Salvation Army. At my local Hannaford they make care packages of food at the holidays which I was able to purchase and donate with my regular groceries, and I am working with a family member in creating artwork for Olivia's Heart Fund.

These donations are local, and the charities and businesses that are involved make it easy to participate in a very direct way. But for the larger charities and relief aid for tragic events around the globe are a step removed, and the number of charities that are asking for donations are overwhelming. I am on the email list for Mercy Corps and The American Red Cross, but I want my money to make the highest possible impact since I can choose who I will participate with in helping the cause of Haiti and others. So I want to share another great resource, Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator is a website that analyzes the data for charities so that you can get a better idea of where that donation you make is actually going. Right on the home page is information about aid for Haiti, and a link to a page of charities participating in the relief effort.

I can easily choose a charity that I know will be legitimate, and get a synopsis of the type of aid they will be supplying. Because the financial data on these charities has already been evaluated, I can see a star rating (out of four stars) of their level of efficiency.

Now as much as I love both Mercy Corps and the Red Cross, I see that right now they each have a three-star rating, and there are quite a few other charities that are rated higher. I followed the links to a few, and chose Americares and Oxfam to add to my charities (have to log in to a free account for this feature).

On the "my charities" page, I can check off several charities and compare statistics. I love this feature - now I can see  in detail where they spend their donations.

If you want to make a donation to help those who have been devastated by the earthquake, or any other cause, I'd recommend that you check out the Charity Navigator website. It's good to know who is legit, and get a better picture of where your donation is going, so that it can have the greatest impact.

Jan 12, 2010

Some handy website resources

I have attended a couple of art group meetings recently where the use of website tracking utilities has come up in the conversation. For artists that have a blog or portfolio online, there are some free tools available to promote your work, and track the visitors to your websites. Here are a few of the tools that I have used and find helpful.

Google has added profiles to their generous list of online applications. You can create a web profile that you want the world to see. If you are a creative and someone Googles your name, there may be some listings that come up, but maybe not all of the work you really want to display. By creating a Google profile you can expand on those links with exactly the content you want people to see. You can list your work history, a bio, your location and websites, attach picasa or web photo albums and more. It's a great way to be found on the web. Here's an example with my Google profile

Statcounter is a free website that allows you to insert an html tag into your blog/website. You can create multiple projects (one for each website) and monitor who visits your site, the path that got them there, the visitor's location, how long they visited each page, keywords used to find your site and more. Now I know that a couple of people actually read my blog, and see that they mostly visit from facebook, etc. Very handy.

Google analytics is another free tool that has the same capabilities. I use that for my blog and it's got a lot of bells and whistles, but I find statcounter more intuitive for me. Statcounter will only show the 500 most recent records though, and I believe GA has no limits. Google's tool seems to be more about analyzing trends rather than drilling down to unique visitor information.

Google also has some webmaster tools that will crawl your website and report back how many pages on the web are linked to your site pages, and give you a site map indicating all your website pages and how they are linked. There are lots of help links to show you about search engine optimization, etc. if you want to really dig into that info.

Compete.com is a website that compares estimates of user data from the top 1,000,000 consumer websites. While many of the features of compete require a subscription, and are targeted at businesses, I found that the free comparisons of several websites to be of benefit to my fine art career. I was able to compare traffic between etsy.com and artfire.com to see which site had more traffic, and determine where I would like to sell my art online.  I could make similar comparisons of print-on-demand websites, etc. You can compare up to three websites at a time for different time periods.