Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bison Color Study and Thoughts About Blogging

I never met a color I didn't like.
                          ~ Dale Chihuly

Bridger Mountains as seen from Bozeman, MT at dusk

Oh dear, I have been neglecting my blog. Partly it is Life zooming along at breakneck speed, but also partly feeling less than inspired about what to post. Back in late April I attended a fantastic 4-day color workshop for oil painters in my beloved Montana, so you'd think that would give me some blog-worthy material to share with you, but the writer's block has remained stubbornly in place. We also moved across town to a new home, which has provided endless excuses for me to procrastinate.

My new studio space is clearly a work in progress.
Can you spot the cat sleeping peacefully amongst the chaos?

I've been feeling very restless artistically, and went through a couple of months of wondering what my artistic purpose/direction was. I don't know that I've really sorted that out yet, but at least I'm feeling more energized about art again. However, I'm still not clear on my focus for blogging. 

Back in 2006, I started a blog to be able to participate in Illustration Friday, and then in 2009 I used the blog to track the 100 Painting Challenge I undertook with support from Laure Ferlita over at Painted Thoughts. At that point the blog became the "Inner Artist", to reflect my journey in reclaiming my long-buried artistic soul. However, 6 years later and "Inner Artist" doesn't seem to fit me any more. I'm certainly not saying that I don't still struggle with self-confidence and fear, or that I've "made it" as an artist, but I think I've moved beyond the original intent of this blog. So now what?

Workshop color study with blue-violet and yellow-orange as my main colors. The middle column of color
is made up of the neutral shades that were mixed from those two complementary colors.

Blogging experts say that you should figure out your niche, what makes you unique amongst other bloggers and focus on that. I'm not sure exactly what my niche is, but one place to start is to consider what in this blog has been successful. What is it that people come to my blog for? Looking over my blog statistics, the most popular post of all time was about a weird rock formation I saw on the Oregon Coast. Had nothing to do with art.The other most popular posts were of some daily sketches early on and a few posts from the 100 Painting Challenge. Looking these over, I am not finding any clear cut niche that these posts reflect.

Okay, so maybe figuring out my niche is going to take some time. Perhaps I could think about this from another angle and consider why I blog. Certainly one of the reasons I blog and read other artists' blogs is to be inspired by and connect with other artists. Blogging is a wonderful way to participate in an artistic community for people like me who live far away from cultural centers and resources. I definitely want to continue to have an artistic community. However, with more and more demands on my artistic time, it is becoming very challenging to make a regular habit of commenting on other artists' blogs. This seems to be a common problem that a lot of artists are running into, so at least I don't feel like I'm the only one dropping the ball, but it is unfair and unrealistic to expect people to comment on my blog if I'm not commenting on theirs.

Workshop final project - Bison painting using new color knowledge

Ideally I also want to blog as a way to reach potential customers and direct them to my website or an internet shop where they can purchase my work. Again, living far away from cultural centers and resources means I have very limited options for trying to sell my work. The internet could be a lifeline for me, but again, what's my niche? What would make me stand out amongst the thousands and thousands of other artists out there? It gives me a headache to think about.

So if you are still with me on this long rambling post, thank you, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on all this. What brings you to my blog? What kinds of posts have been the most interesting or helpful here? If you are also a blogging artist, what have been your challenges with blogging? Did you figure out your niche and if yes, how? If you leave a comment to this post, I promise to be more conscientious and leave one on your blog, too.*

*Obviously obscene, mean, or spamming comments will be ignored.


john said...

I took the time to read this post and it was my pleasure to do it. It is interesting to learn about the things that are important to other artists. For example you learn about, and experiment with color theories while I remain ignorant of such things. I just follow my instincts.
What niche does my blog occupy? I never gave it a thought. To me the purpose of the blog is to leave a sort of life journal because I will never write anything else to document my life. It may not be very insightful but it is something.

Gabrielle said...

Hi John,

Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I really appreciate your thoughts! And while you may not think your purpose for blogging is very insightful, I think it is an excellent reason to blog and makes perfect sense to me.

As promised, I left a comment on your blog. I also enjoyed your previous post about your trip to Redoubt Bay. It may have been a short trip, but you got some fantastic photos of the bears. I'll look forward to seeing what paintings they inspire!

Elva Paulson said...

Hi Gabrielle ... this post gives me a lot of food for thought. I often wonder if I should consider blogging so I've thought about some of the things that are on your mind. My thoughts are going to be a little scattered.

First of all, I don't think we should feel we have to respond to other people's blogs .... I know there is a feeling of 'I'll comment on yours and you comment on mine," but that can become quite burdensome. I read blogs in spurts and I comment occasionally. I do try to let my favorite bloggers know I'm reading, but not each and every time. When I read blogs if is often a couple months after they were written. I often read several at a time. Some of my loyal readers have never left me a comment. They just let me know once in awhile.

As for "Inner Artist" .... I think that is a great name because it can mean different things as you evolve. Your blog comes from you ... and that it what a blog should do. Even if you no longer wrote about art, we still are all a work of art within.

As for your blog having a niche, I suppose that is important if you want to build your readership. If you are using your blog professionally, it become that much more important. Personally I don't worry about a niche. If I look at my stats, I'd always post about how to do art ... but I only do that occasionally.

I blog for myself as much as anyone. I feel I've learned a great deal about writing, and I have a better feeling for what people like about my art, and I know more about myself. I truly hope that people who read my blog end up appreciating our natural world a little more; that they'll take the time to really look, to love, and to protect.

My comments have been a much about me ... but maybe it helps you to know others are going through some of the same soul searching.

... and, have your tried posting to flickr with a link to your blog. I think it helps build readership.

I copied this from your blog ...... so true for me:

"When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world."
- Eileen Clegg

marianne said...

interesting. when I started blogging, I tried to post daily- just anything art related. it helped me focus and be conscious of making art- even if it was taking a photo from an unexpected angle or posting a doodle. then, life- much more travel with work, got in a gallery and had to make art for that- my blogging practice fell off- or started looking more like "here's what I've been doing".

I recently made the commitment to post weekly. it feels good to sit down on Sunday night and see what I've done during the week. it's nice to see progress, share what i'm working on and to reflect on the week.

at this point, I blog for myself as much as anything. if anyone wants to visit & see what I'm doing, that's great. And tho I do get a bit discouraged when there are no comments, I also appreciate the clarity that sitting down and putting together a post can bring.

It's different for everyone- thanks for giving me something to think about-

Gabrielle said...

I love that this post has become a discussion, and so happy that it is giving people things to think about! Thanks for all of your thoughts.

Elva, thank you for sharing your perspective on blogging. It really is helpful to hear. I definitely think about and learn about the natural world a little more when I read your blog. I love Oregon, and so your posts also give me places to check out the next time I'm there.

Marianne, I tried to go to your blog to leave a comment via the link in your Google name, but it said that your profile was not available. Anyway, good for you for setting your goal at posting once a week. That seems pretty sustainable, and it does seem like a nice time to reflect on what you've done during the week. Congratulations on getting into a gallery!

Anonymous said...

I happened upon your blog one day and come back because I share your interest in birds and art. And I like your art.

My blog is 'neglected' and I'm beginning to accept that. I've been thinking about evolving my blog a little lately - instead of 'just' an art journal, I'm going to start posting stuff about my bird watching too. Maybe then I'll 'talk' more... or maybe not :)

Gabrielle said...

Well, I'm glad you happened upon my blog, Janet, because that way I found out about yours and your beautiful watercolors. If you do decide to start posting stuff about your bird-watching, I'm sure I'll enjoy that too. Thanks for commenting!

Wendy Barrett said...

Hi Gabrielle,

I found your lovely blog via the comment you left on Belinda's blog. I have enjoyed reading your posts because you speak from the heart. I don't think it is essential to have a definite niche as long as the posts are interesting, inspiring or heartfelt - which yours are! My blog began with an acrylics painting theme but I found myself drawn to posting about everything that engages me and brings me joy, so I have run with that - although, I do try not to stray away from art entirely!

I had also been suffering from procrastination a few years ago and found the challenge format worked amazingly well for getting me going again. I even wrote a book about it! I'm thinking of revisiting the challenge format again soon as I haven't been painting so much lately.

I love how you are giving yourself permission to play with your creativity - such a joyful and healthy thing to do! I must do more of it!

Gabrielle said...

Hi Wendy, welcome and thanks for your comment. It is quite inspiring to know your efforts to overcome procrastination ended up leading to a book! What a good reminder that while we never know exactly what's around the next bend in the road, if we don't move forward we'll never find out.