I love filofaxFILOFAX organizers.  I love the colors and the beautiful craftsmanship and I love that they give me the feeling of being organized, whether I truly am or not.

Recently while going through an old one I discovered some log in and password information I had forgotten about, including THIS BLOG!  How could I have completely forgotten about a blog?  By ignoring it and creating new ones, I suppose.  Bad Jan!

If anyone out there is still checking this sad, neglected blog you can now find me here — http://www.jandiwork.blogspot.com — and here — http://jansmallpaints.com .

And here — right here! — again soon.

With a commitment to creating a more vibrant and interesting blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield.  My assignment for today is to describe the people — my Ideal Readers — that I want to visit and read and comment on my blog.

My hope is that by imagining and describing my Ideal Reader I will gain focus about what to write and post about.  But, I want to assure you —  friend, family member or fellow artist — who is reading this that YOU are my ideal reader, too…and I appreciate the fact that you are here.

The Blog Triage class assignment is this:

Describe that one person — your ideal reader — in as much detail as possible.  Use these questions to guide you:

  • Are they of a certain age or background?
  • Do they live in a particular region?
  • What are their interests – including, but not limited to art?
  • Are they comfortable with the blog format?
  • Are they likely to comment?

Hmmm.   Ideally — and that’s what we are shooting for here, ideal — my blog reader is a parent or grandparent who is interested in commissioning painted portrait(s) of her/his loved ones, especially children.  That is what I do — paint portraits — so that is who I’d like to attract.  This ideal reader can live anywhere in the country, but probably lives in the South because there is a longer and richer tradition here of having formal portraits made.  S/he will be well-educated and have an intellectual curiosity about the world in general and art in particular.  This ideal person loves her/his home and spends time, money and effort to make it beautiful and comfortable. S/he is technically savvy enough to understand how blogs work, knows that comments are the lifeblood of a blog (hint!hint!) and  knows how to post a comment.  S/he has enough discretionary income to be able to afford my (surprisingly affordable!) fees.  Most importantly, this ideal blog reader (and potential client) is someone I could become friends with, even if we never meet in person.

Whew!  OK.  First part of the homework assignment — DONE!

The next question asks what I want to get from blogging.

I would like blogging to help me grow my portrait painting business.  If my readers could use my blog posts to interest their friends and family in the work that I do, well, that’s the best advertising.  Additionally, my blog can serve as an online portfolio (in addition to my website) to showcase my latest finished work and what is currently on my easel.  If I knew how to do it I would also like to have an area of my blog that would allow clients to log on and see their portrait project in progress.  I’m guessing the technology for this sort of thing exists, right?  Connecting with other artists is something I know a good blog can do.  I recently made a new artist friend online, by reading and commenting on, her terrific blog.  (I’m talking about you, Dreama!)  And, finally, I want my blog to be a way for friends and family to keep up with what I am doing…I want the blog to answer the question, “What is Jan up to now?”

Thanks for reading…I think you are ideal ;)

Ah, Sedona!  What a beautiful place.  We spent last week there and had a magical time.

Whether you believe in the mystical, healing  powers vortexes (vortices?) or not, just being in a place with so much natural beauty is good for the soul and the body and the spirit.  Oh yeah, and the best pizza in the world is there, too.  “Picazzo’s, Where Pizza Is An Art” is in Sedona.  The first week we spent in Sedona a couple years ago we ate there six times!!!

Last May we invited our good friends, Ron and Adria, to stay with us in Sedona for a week.  The first evening the four of us hiked to what is the most famous — and most photographed — Sedona landmark: the view of Cathedral Rock from Oak Creek near Crescent Moon Ranch.  It was dusk and we were drinking champagne while sitting on the still-warm rocks…and I could clearly see Adria’s aura, standing out all around her like a fuzzy, hot pink boa!  I attribute this aura-sighting more to Adria’s strong spirit and the champagne than to any psychic or metaphysical powers I may possess.   Whatever caused the phenomenon, it was an amazing and exciting thing to witness.

That night, back in the condo, I had a dream in which Adria appeared under a huge full moon, wearing an aubergine silk jacket and holding a cactus.  She looked like the high priestess of the red rocks.   Her hair was moving and swirling, Medusa-style, and she was smiling like Mona Lisa.  When I awoke the dream stayed with me and I felt compelled to capture the image on canvas.

In took me nearly a year to translate my dream into a painting…and here is the result (full size is 24 x 18 and it looks MUCH better in person!), which I gave to Adria and Ron.

The toughest part to paint?  That crazy, glowing, hot pink aura!!!  I laid on the paint (Gamblin quinacridone magenta + Galkyd medium) then scrubbed it into the background with a stiff bristle brush.  Didn’t get it on the first try…had to repeat the process three times.  And, for some unfathomable reason, in the photo of the painting the aura looks like a neon tube.  In person, in the actual painting, it looks much softer and diffuse.

I changed the cactus plant I saw in my dream to a cactus flower, because the cactus looked just too phallic.

In the dream her hair was gently moving, curling and swirling…and I certainly could not capture that in oil paint, so I tried to suggest movement by painting lots of wisps and tendrils.

Here’s a super-close detail of her face in the painting.  So difficult to paint teeth!!!  Arrgggh! But diamonds are a snap to paint…just dab on the brightest, clearest white oil paint!

Her outfit — the aubergine silk jacket with silver swirl fasteners — is exactly the way it appeared in my dream.

In their beautiful home, Adria has displayed the painting on a black floor easel…and it looks great!  (Will post a photo of the painting on its easel when I get one.)

(Beautiful Sedona photos taken by my talented husband, Dan!)

Do you need a fun little field-trip that is also border-line spiritual?  Wander around a nursery on a nice day.  Even the garden department at Home Depot will give you so much beauty to gaze upon and so many fresh fragrances that you will feel like you have had a vacation.

I found these gorgeous lilies at Lowe’s (reminds me of the old song “…hi lilies, hi lilies, hi Lowe’s…” well, something like that, anyway.)  I also found the bright blue planter pot there in the garden department at Lowe’s.  I bought the lilies, I bought the blue pot, brought them home,  and put them together.  Spectacular color!

This painting is 12×12 inches, painted in oils on canvas-hardboard panel.  It is available for purchase in my Etsy Shop…click here to take a look.

If you click the link on the left (see it?  the blue one that says Join Newsletter?) I’ll send you my weekly email newsletter.

You can unsubscribe at any time, of course…and I will never, ever, ever share your email with anyone.  Promise!

Meanwhile, back at the farm…

This was Baby Chick Ann when she was just one week old.  She is an Ameraucana chicken, which means that someday, when she is about five months old, she will lay blue, green, pink or lavender eggs.

I took this photo in January, the day I brought her home from the feed store where I bought her, along with five other chicks.

She arrived at the feed store BY MAIL (!!!) from the hatchery in Tennessee.  Imagine that journey — crammed into a big box with 99 other chicks.  But, good news, chicks are amazingly resilient and can easily handle being bounced around in transit.  Just look at baby Chick Ann…she’s plucky!  (Oops, wrong adjective to apply to a chicken!)

And here she is now…Teenage Chick Ann.  She is eight weeks old and about half her eventual adult size.  She has beautiful golden plumage that has prompted some visitors to ask if she is part exotic pheasant.  In three months, when she starts laying eggs, we will call her Hen Ann.  We think she is outstanding in all ways, but if she were just an average laying chicken she would have about two years of high egg production and then it would decrease and eventually stop.  She is a beloved pet, so even when she stops “working” she will have a good home here at Hundred Oaks Farm.

I send out an email newsletter every week showing my latest painting and news from the farm.  If you’d like to receive it just click the link on the left side of this blog…see it there?  The blue button that says “Join Email List”?  You can unsubscribe easily anytime you wish and I will never, ever, ever, ever share your email with anyone.  Promise!

Well, if he lives in Finland that’s what he says.

In the US and the UK roosters crow like this “Cock-a-doodle-do!”, right?  Every little kid knows that.

French roosters wake up the farm folk this way: “Cocorico!”

In the Netherlands the rooster’s crow sounds like this — “Kukeleku!”

This rooster — this painting of a rooster —  speaks in another way —  LUSCIOUS LOUD  COLOR.

This is 6×6 inches and I painted it in oils, with both brushes and palette knives, on a gesso-primed hardboard.

I’ve been told by people who have seen both the painting  and the image on the internet that the real-life painting is far prettier.   And your monitor and browser may display colors slightly differently, of course.

This colorful little painting is available for purchase in my Etsy Store…click here to view it.

“I *heart* Holsteins”, oil on hardboard, 8×8 inches

I finished this painting recently and it is the first in my series of weekly paintings that I am featuring in my email newsletter.

Here’s a secret: I paint more than just one painting each week, but because I paint in oils they require lots of drying time…and building the newsletter takes time, too.

I’ve discovered that there are many, many artists who paint cows.  What is it about cows and calves and bulls that are so appealing to artists?  Well, maybe it is because they don’t move quickly, so, unlike cheetahs, for example, one can actually paint them from life.  They also are beautiful creatures with big expressive eyes.

What’s your favorite breed of cow?  I have two — Holsteins, like the one in this painting, and Jerseys, the gorgeous super-models of the cow world.  I’m currently working on a painting of a real Jersey beauty and I will post that here soon.

To buy this surprisingly affordable little piece of cow art,  click here.

Ta-da!  It is finished!  Take a look: http://JanSmallPaints.com

The very talented artist, website designer and builder, Jaime Beitler, created my new website from a bunch of bits and scribbles and splatters that I sent her.  She cobbled the whole mess together into pretty pages, added adorable birds and charming flooffy things and, most important of all, made it work well when the various yummy images are clicked on.

Additionally, Jaime was super-fun to work with: her sunny can-do personality came through in every single email and the process wasn’t just painless it was actually enjoyable and energizing.

She is accepting a few new website clients, so if you even think you want or need a website contact her lickity-split before she is discovered.

I forgot to mention that she is surprisingly affordable for the pixelly joy she brings.

Go on, spend a few minutes and view her portfolio…her website is eye- and brain-candy:

http://JaimeBeitler.com

Visit my websites:

http://www.JanSmallPaints.com

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