Don’t Look Down
Oil on Canvas
10″ x 10″
© 2015 Marilyn Fenn

I have now retired from the design business so that I may devote my time primarily to painting.  🙂  You can check out my art at http://marilynfenn.com/

You may view selections from my portfolio here.  Although I won’t be updating this site with new material any longer, over the years I have gathered a bit of info to aid in the design and creation of websites, which you can still read in these tips, links, and blog posts.  I make no promises, though, that the info at those links is still relevant!  Reader beware.

 

Jennifer Balkan website

Jennifer Balkan website

I have just completed a redesign of Austin painter Jennifer Balkan’s website into a WordPress website. We kept a lot of the basic style elements from her previous site, but added a very user-friendly filmstrip-type image gallery, so you can very easily view both the thumbnail and large images. You can click on each of the large images in the filmstrip gallery to open an even larger image. And Jennifer will be able to update and maintain her site without having to write her own html code (she had created and maintained her previous site herself in HTML).

 

Jennifer Balkan - Gallery Page

Jennifer Balkan – Gallery Page

Jennifer-Balkan - Large Image

Jennifer-Balkan – Large Image

Take a look at the site at http://jenniferbalkan.net/, and fall in love with Jennifer’s paintings the way I have.  They are terrific!17:36:3102/10/2015

WordPress Post Thumbnail

Post Thumbnails in the Blog List View

Post Thumbnails in the Blog List View

When WordPress came out with version 2.9 in the fall of 2010, one of the best things they added was the Post Thumbnail for featured images.

For art sites, this was something of a Godsend.  I had previously been using YAPB (Yet Another PhotoBlog) for inserting one image as the main image for each post.  This one image would then appear at different sizes in different types of views, such as a small thumbnail in the blog, archive and category list view, and a large image in the single post view.

But, my hosting service strongly encouraged me to stop using YAPB, as they said it was very resource-intensive and was one of several plugins for WordPress that were causing my sites to bog down.  So I spent weeks replacing the YAPB images on almost 6 years worth of posts on my art site (nearly 300 posts) with the new featured images post-thumbnails (whew!).  I also edited the code files to get the images to appear just as I wanted them at the time.

It was exhaustive but in the end a very good thing, because once again, all I had to do was insert one image in my post, and it showed up in many places, while apparently using less resources.

See examples of Post Thumbnails and Featured Images in use:

[nggallery id=1]

Issues with New Designs

One of the other great things about WordPress is that they are very innovative and are continually improving their features and code, streamlining some things and adding others.  The result is that what was once just a little blog engine has become the most popular and one of the most powerful and versatile CMSs (Content Management Systems) around.  Of course, the downside of that can be that your website themes and files can become quickly outdated, requiring more weeks of learning and re-coding to keep things up to date.

For that reason, I often use a website design tool called Artisteer to begin a new design for my websites.  Once you have settled on a design within the software, it spits out (almost) all the files and images one needs for various types of websites, including WordPress websites.  Every exported design needs a bit (or more) of design and code tweaking to get them to look and work just the way I want them to, but otherwise it’s a pretty good tool.

However, all this innovation has resulted in some significant changes in the code for WordPress, and thus the code that Artisteer generates in their latest version has also changed quite a bit in just a few months.  And unhappily, from my perspective, they broke the featured image function.

For whatever reason, the themes exported from Artisteer no longer support the large image part of the Post Thumbnail function.   Personally, I’ve got too much invested in this feature on far too many websites to abandon the use of it (especially as it would mean replacing all 300 images I’d already replaced yet again!  And then some!).

So I’ve searched the web, and asked questions on several forums to find answers about how to fix this, but only one person was willing or able to give me a hint.  (Hat tip to Amy on the Artisteer forums 🙂 ).

So, with Amy’s help, and a bit more research and a lot of trial and error, I have come up with the following code fixes.  These may not be the only or even best ways to do these things, but they work for me so far.  Should anyone know of a better way, I’m all ears!

Code Fixes for the Featured Image and Post Thumbnail Functions in Artisteer Themes

To enable Artisteer-generated files to once again implement the featured image function (files shown in bold italic; code show in bold):

  1. To show your featured image in your single posts and/or pages:

    in these files: content-single.php (for posts) and content-page.php (for pages), move or insert this code ‘thumbnail’ => theme_get_post_thumbnail(array(), between ‘before’ => theme_get_metadata_icons(‘edit’, ‘header’), and ‘content’ => theme_get_content(),

  2. If you want to size the featured images to be larger than the thumbnails, instead of  ‘thumbnail’ => theme_get_post_thumbnail(array(), use this code:

    ‘thumbnail’ => theme_get_post_thumbnail(array(“size” => array(600, 300))),

    changing the sizes to the sizes of your choice (here, 600 is the width in pixels, and 300 is the height)

  3. If you want to move the default location of the thumbnails in the blog list views from above/beside the post title and header metadata to below them:

    in this file: library/wrappers.php move echo $thumbnail; to between echo $before; and ?>

  4. If you want your featured images and post thumbnails to be aligned right instead of left:

    in “style.css” find: div.avatar{  position:relative;  margin: 0 5px;  border: 1px solid #aaa;  padding: 1px;  background: #fff;  float:left;} and change the float from left to right.  Warning: this may also change the float of your comment avatars; I can’t really say, so proceed with caution.

  5. Then, on your site, under Dashboard > Appearance > Theme Options, under Featured Image, set:

    Use featured image as thumbnail

    Yes

    Use auto thumbnails

    Generate post thumbnails automatically (use the first image from the post gallery)

Your code and style in these files may be slightly different than mine, so adjust accordingly.

 

Hope this works for you…and now I’ve got it all listed conveniently in one place until the code changes yet again…

Plus, for reference purposes, here are a couple of posts in the WordPress Codex explaining the use and purposes of the Post Thumbnail and Linking to Post or Larger Image.

Abstract Paintings by Austin Artist Marilyn Fenn, website design v4.5

Abstract Paintings by Austin Artist Marilyn Fenn, website design v4.5

I have been moving toward more subdued colors in website designs (especially for artists!), and I think even my colorful work might look better against a more neutral background than before.  Soooooooooooo, I redesigned my fine art site one more time.  Luckily, this redesign only took me a week, while the structural and visual redesign from last fall took about a month.

While subduing the color palette of my site, I also decided to greatly simplify the amount of distractions. I have removed many of the doodads from the sidebars, and even removed the sidebar from many of the site pages. In several cases, I combined several pages into one that’s still easy to navigate with the addition of post tabs, and I’ve streamlined the info in the footer widgets. In a continuing effort to offer as much as I can without download speeds being too terrible, I have also reduced the number of plugins I’m using (and I keep whittling at the speed issue).

I replaced the random image of my paintings on the front page with a slideshow. I’ve upsized my art images and thumbnails sizes for better viewing. Plus, I recently added an on-site shop where you can purchase my art. Overall I’m very happy with this cleaner design and my yummy new colors of butterscotch, eggnog and chocolate.

Anyway, I hope you like the new design.  Plus, look forward to more art coming from me soon!  Check out the changes at Marilyn Fenn Studio.

link to website for painter Cheryl McClure

Cheryl McClure website

I’ve just completed setting up a new website in WordPress for contemporary abstract painter Cheryl McClure.  I created the visual design and set up all the pages, menus, basic image galleries and albums, slideshow, widgets and plugins, but Cheryl added almost all of the content herself, including uploading and organizing all of her awesome artwork!

I’ve been a fan of Cheryl’s work for years.  In fact, she was one of the first three contemporary painters I blogged about on my art blog.  We later became better acquainted through the TexasWax encaustic group, and then connected on Facebook.  And we still haven’t met in person yet!

I love this design I created for Cheryl, from her suggestions and directions.  It is appropriately minimal for an artist’s site while still incorporating a touch of color that complements her work.

Take a look at the website, but check out her many, many gorgeous paintings at Cheryl McClure.com.

Blogs & Stuff webpage design, v2

Blogs & Stuff webpage design, v2

Several years ago, I gathered links to all my blogs and stuff on one page.  I recently decided it was time to redesign that little page design slightly.  I loved the look and the logo of the initial design, but the web page layout was created in tables, and the time to use tables for page layout has long since passed.  I even seriously considered (for about a minute) making it into another WordPress site, but soon realized that would be total overkill for something that’s actually not much of anything in the first place.

On the up side, except for the images, all the files for this web page add up to only 60kb.  On the down side, it was actually more work and more time consuming to add content to this one little page than it would have been had I done it in WordPress.  Luckily, the content for this page should not change much or very often.  (fingers crossed)

I am a member of the Finding Fine Art group* on Etsy (where I have a shop to sell my fine artwork), and I’ve started researching some Etsy apps and techniques for organizing Finding Fine Art member lists, Treasuries, and blog posts featuring Treasuries, which I thought I’d share with you all.  This post is primarily aimed at members of the Finding Fine Art group, but may be helpful for other Etsy shopkeepers and Etsy users as well.

*The “Finding Fine Art” team was created to provide a unique shopping experience for fine art collectors seeking original art on Etsy. Members of the team are visual artists with outstanding, gallery quality original artwork, a high level of professionalism and presentation, and a positive standing in the Etsy community. Buyers are encouraged to look through our member’s list to discover new artists or search the tag “findingfineart” on Etsy for a dazzling, virtual gallery experience.

FAVORITIZER:

The-Favoritizer-Checklet

The Favoritizer Checklet

 

This app allows you to organize your favorite shops and items into as many categories as you’d like. I think this is going to be very useful to help create treasuries with Finding Fine Art members’ work. I’ve created 3 categories each for shops and items:

  1. Finding Fine Art Members
  2. Non-Members
  3. Non-Fine Art Items (crafts and jewelry, etc.)

You can sign into it through your Etsy ID and create whatever categories work for you.

TREASURY WIDGET:

With this app, you can search for all the Etsy Treasuries you’ve created and all the ones you are in, and it will spit out a little code you can insert into a blog post that shows the whole treasury, with links (as shown above). You can choose from 4 sizes, including one small enough for sidebars. I found all of my treasuries yesterday and created pre-dated blog posts for each one on my little Blogger blog. If you’d like, you can see how that looks here: Etsy Treasuries on Small Wonders: Small Paintings at Small Prices by Marilyn Fenn.

Btw, the same site offers HEART-O-MATIC, various ways of viewing who hearts your shop and items:

 
Etsy-Item-Hearts-and-Views

Etsy Item Hearts and Views on CraftCult

Heart-Charts-for-Etsy-Shops

Heart Charts for Etsy Shops on CraftCult

 

and THE POCKET SHOP, a sidebar widget of your shop that you can insert into your blog:

Etsy Pocket Shop widget on CraftCult

Etsy Pocket Shop widget on CraftCult

 

ETSY CATALOG:

Etsy catalog - marilynfennpaintings

Etsy catalog – marilynfennpaintings

This site will allow you to create a lovely PDF catalog of some or all items in your shop, which you could then print out and take with you to any of your upcoming art shows. You can edit the info and re-arrange items, too.

For folks with Etsy Shops, all these, plus several other interesting looking Etsy Apps that I haven’t tried yet, can be found under Your Etsy…the very last link on the left (under Resources).

 

ACTION OUTLINER:

Action Outliner

Action Outliner

I am using a little paid program called Action Outliner to keep track of links, such as links to all these tools, my Etsy shop, my websites, the important Finding Fine Art links (and much more); to-do lists; etc. It’s also a great way to keep bits of text that get used over and over, so I can just copy and paste them as needed (say for shop items, and blog posts). It allows you to date things, too, plus properly formatted hyperlinks will link from within the program.

 

TIPS

I am adding every Finding Fine Art member to my circle and adding their shops to my favorites, so that I can try to make a weekly treasury that features Finding Fine Art members. Now that I have started to set that up, keeping up when new members join is (so far) not a huge investment of time. It’s also really fun to check the activity feed to see new work from other members as well as their new favorites.

 

IDEAS?

Has anyone else tried some of these, or found other tools and tips to help you use Etsy well?  Please let me know in the comments or in our Etsy group.

Marilyn Fenn Studio website redesign, version 4c

Marilyn Fenn Studio website redesign, version 4c

I have just finished yet another redesign of my art website! The new design is a slight refinement of the previous visual design (with which I’ve been pretty happy for awhile), but more importantly, it represents a major underlying structural change. I have upgraded my site structural and design files to WordPress 3.01 to take advantage of the new structure and features built into the latest version of WordPress. I’ve also used a number of excellent plugins to extend the functionality.

Continue reading

The USS Macaw website

The USS Macaw website

I’ve just created a very simple design for a WordPress website for a friend of mine.  He is a journalist who has spent some part of several years interviewing survivors from the USS Macaw, a ship that sank at sea during WWII on which his father was aboard (and luckily survived).

I created the design and set up a WordPress site that will handle “siders”* for my friend Tim.   He will be adding all the content himself.  I am training him long-distance by phone.

You can check out the story and photographs from the ship and its crew at Tim’s site, The USS Macaw.

*According to Tim, a “sider” in journalism is a box on the side of the main story that contains related data.  On Tim’s site, the siders are used, for instance, to show photos (when available) and details about each of the crew members.

Ave-Bonar-Photography-website

Today I am announcing the launch of a brand-new owner-empowered WordPress website for Austin photographer Ave Bonar.  I created the design to Ave’s specifications and employed the technology, and Ave added all her own content.  Both Ave and I are very happy with the final design for her new website.

Ave has worked as a photojournalist for such magazines as Texas MonthlyTexas ObserverAustin Sun, and Third Coast. She has photographed such political and musical luminaries as Ann Richards, Liz Carpenter, Jim Hightower, and Elvis Presley.  Her portraits in black-and-white or color are simply stunning.  Some of Ave’s other projects include delightful narrative documentary photographs, experiments in 3D photography (including quite a few of musicians playing in Austin clubs), and fabulous color photos of vegetables.

Ave has written perhaps the best About page I have ever read.  Read her history and view all her excellent work at http://avebonarphotography.com.

I'm Talking to Myself travel photos website

I’m Talking to Myself travel photos website

Sometimes I wish that personal computers, the Internet, and blogging had been around when I was younger. For those young enough to be growing up with all these things, every minute of your daily lives can be documented in the greatest detail—to be looked back on fondly (or in horror) as the years go by. For those of us who grew up before then, we have to rely on diaries, memories, and (hopefully) old film to document our youth (I didn’t have a camera until my late twenties, so I missed a lot of photo ops!). A lot of the record of our lives has been lost, which is both a shame—because we did grow up in such interesting times—and a blessing—because many of the embarrassing moments of our youthful indiscretions can’t come back to haunt us.  We had less exposure and more privacy then.

Be that as it may, years ago, I started a website to begin documenting one part of our personal lives: I wanted to organize and display photos from our various travel adventures.  It was one of those projects that was always bigger than the time I had to work on it—in other words, it was always “in progress.”  I can finally say with not a small amount of pride that for now, it is more or less a completed project…at least, until we take another trip and have more photos and stories to post.

This new site design was done in WordPress, and the visual design is my own, aided by the rapid prototyping tool, Artisteer.  For the two or three previous designs for the WordPress version of this site, I tried a couple themes from Elegant Themes. They were gorgeous themes, but I’m more comfortable editing my own code, plus as a website designer, well—you know, my sites probably should be designed by me:

 
I'm Talking to Myself, On the Go theme

I’m Talking to Myself, On the Go theme

I'm Talking to Myself, e-Business theme

I’m Talking to Myself, e-Business theme

 

Before that, I tried using a Blogger blog for the travel diary and a Coppermine photo database to organize all the photos:

 
Travel at In for a Penny, Coppermine database

Travel at In for a Penny, Coppermine database

 

The first version was designed in plain old HTML with photo galleries exported out of PhotoShop:

 
Travel at In for a Penny, version 1

Travel at In for a Penny, version 1

Travel at In for a Penny, version 1, interior page

Travel at In for a Penny, version 1, interior page

 

The site has evolved into something more than my original vision and intent; in addition to a travel diary with galleries of travel photos, I am adding some posts and photos from closer to home (you may notice, we don’t actually travel that much), a few posts on diversions, and some reminiscences from times gone by. I’ll probably begin adding more local stuff, such as gardening; I’ve already added some music and art.

One of the design elements that has remained consistent from the first design through the latest design is that the basic hue has been in the brown family; now it is a yummy combination of chocolate and cherry—or looked at another way—the ancient colors of Roman centurians’ uniforms.

The website is I’m Talking to Myself, I Can’t Believe I’m Talking to Myself: Travel Photos and Blog (and some local stuff, too).

Pixel Wranglers website, version 2

Pixel Wranglers website, version 2

This is the new version of the website for the website design and development business that my husband and I are partners in. I redesigned it as a WordPress website to bring it up to date and make it easier to update. I added and massaged a lot of the content. I did only a slight visual redesign, because I wanted to maintain the basic look from the previous version of the site. You can visit the new site at http://pixelwranglers.com/.

Pixel  Wranglers website, version 1

Pixel Wranglers website, version 1

This was the original site design from several years ago — a basic 6-page site done in HTML/CSS.  I always liked this design, but I prefer the ease of updating a WordPress site, and the added functionality provided by the judicious use of plug-ins.

At Pixel Wranglers, we frequently work together to build more extensive websites and business applications than I do on my own. My husband is a certified webmaster with a degree in Computer Science, and is experienced in database development, design and normalization. He can integrate database applications, such as specialized lookup facilities and site-wide dynamic-page environments. He can customize database back-end applications and perform implementations for Unix environments (PHP/SQL) or Windows (ASP/Access). He is also an extremely talented writer.

Please visit our new Pixel Wranglers website for more information, and contact us if we can help you with any website or database design and development projects.

William Wahlgren

William Wahlgren website, v4

This is the fourth version of a website for Austin painter and fellow SAIC alumnus William Wahlgren, the last three of which I have designed. This version is basically the same design as the last, only now designed to work in WordPress, so that Bill can update and maintain his site himself.

Bill paints large, gorgeous oil paintings using an Old Masters’ technique, though his works are often more abstract visions that consist primarily of sky and atmosphere.

View Bill’s latest gorgeous paintings at WilliamWahlgren.com.  They’re some of my favorite contemporary paintings.

Marilyn Rea Nasky's New WordPress website

Marilyn Rea Nasky website, v2

Today we are launching the redesign of local painter Marilyn Rea Nasky’s website.  Her new site is done in WordPress, thus allowing her to do some or all of her own updates.  Visit her new site at lightwithinstudios.com: Marilyn Rea Nasky, Light Within Studios.

Bear Flag Construction website

Bear Flag Construction website

I’ve just completed a new website in WordPress for local custom home building and remodeling company, Bear Flag Construction.   Tom Ide, the proprietor of Bear Flag Construction, handles everything from Construction Management, Restoration and New Construction to Additions, Remodeling, and Home Improvements. He has worked from the San Francisco Bay Area to Massachusetts and now works in the Austin area.

Tom wanted a site to showcase his local achievements, and he wanted a site that allows him to do his own editing and updating, so I built a site for him using WordPress, and have trained him to work on the site himself.

Visit Bear Flag Construction at http://bfccustomhomes.com/ to view some of the excellent work he has done and read the testimonials.  Give him a call if you need some construction work done.  I can attest that he does beautiful work at reasonable rates, and he’s quite a joy to work with.

3D Model of Comedy Central Logo

3D Model of Comedy Central Logo

Apparently, some people love to enhance their website with artwork and illustrations taken from other people without their knowledge or consent.

My work seems to be fairly popular among online thieves.  On the one hand, it’s kind of flattering; one the other hand, I just wish they would give me credit for my efforts or at least ask permission to use the image.  I guess the fault was mine for not adding a watermark to all my images.  I am doing that now, though.  What do you bet some of these images start to come down as I add my watermark?

(update 03-28-2011): I’ve decided to remove the links to the offending sites that have used my images (DOH!), but here is a list of some of my images appreciated by image thieves who failed to either request permission or give attribution:

  • Comedy Central logo I created in Lightwave 3D
  • Portfolio screen cap from an article on my site
  • Fireplace elevation, interior design illustration
  • Digital illustration of fish
  • WebSphere illustration from my IBM days
  • One of my tornado paintings

For the record, I don’t mind fair use of my images, and perhaps the fireplace illustration above could be considered fair use.  Here is more info on Fair Use of imagery:

Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as use for scholarship or review. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author’s work under a four-factor balancing test.

In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Read more about Fair Use at Wikipedia.

Marilyn Fenn Decor website, v2

Marilyn Fenn Decor website, v2

You may not know this about me, but besides being a website designer, graphic designer, illustrator and painter, I have also studied interior design.  It is one of my five favorite things to do, occupation-wise, though I am NOT officially an interior designer, I do not have a degree in interior designer, and I would not presume to do all that professional interior designers can do.  I do occasionally help folks decorate their homes, pick colors for their walls and buy great furniture.

You can see some of my little projects at a site I created for that purpose, Marilyn Fenn Decor.  I recently redesigned it into a WordPress site with a blog, which I am using to document some of the trials and tribulations and joys of undergoing a house remodeling project.  I do love my new design, which I tried to model after my previous design, while also updating the look and functions.  See the old design here:

Marilyn Fenn Decor website, v1

Marilyn Fenn Decor website, v1

Small Wonders Blogger blog

Small Wonders Blogger blog

I’ve just designed a new theme for a new Blogger blog I created for the purpose of selling my small art (no muss, no fuss — just small paintings at small prices, with easy Paypal “add to cart” buttons, called “Small Wonders.”).

Designing for Blogger is—well, definitely different than designing for WordPress or standard HTML/CSS websites.  Less complicated than WordPress, but less powerful, too.  I was able to add buttons, and with some coding hoop-jumping, add some pages, but I still haven’t found a way to create any kind of a gallery page (other than adding a Flickr slideshow).

Anyway, feel free to check out my site and my small paintings at Small Wonders.  Feel free to buy a painting, too!

My-Actions1As an artist, one of the most useful tools in my digital arsenal is the Actions Palette in PhotoShop.  An Action is a way to record a sequence of frequently used operations that you can save and play back on other images, or on an entire folder of images at once.

This one tool has saved me countless hours of time that I used to spend doing repetitive tasks to the digital images of my art — such as resizing them, making image adjustments, and creating thumbnails.

The following is a step by step example of recording an action on one typical image to resize it, add a watermark, and save it as both a PhotoShop file and for the web; then I’ll explain how, with a few clicks, you can use that action on entire folders of images.

Preparation

Make sure that you have prepared all your source images: that they have been neatly cropped, color-corrected and saved with meaningful filenames.  I find this whole process works best when I name my images by their title, and save them in folders named for the image size, type and purpose.

To be sure you do not write over your original high resolution images, before proceeding further, create destination folders for your various desired image sizes and types, such as “Website PSDs,” “Website JPGs,” and “Website Thumbs.”

Recording an Action

New-Action1

  1. Open one of your typical source images.
  2. On your Actions palette, click on the tiny down arrow and 3 horizontal lines at the upper right, then click on “New Action…”
  3. Give your action a meaningful name, then click “Start Recording.”  PhotoShop will now record the whole set of commands you perform on your image, until you tell it to stop.
  4. Click on “Image,” “Image Size” in the top main menu, make sure “Constrain Proportions” is checked, and type your desired width in the width box; then click “OK.”
  5. To add a watermark, select the Type tool, set your desired color, font, font style, size and alignment. Click on your image where you want the text, then type your watermark text.
  6. You may then want to style your line of text, perhaps changing the opacity and adding a light drop shadow.
  7. Next, click on “File,” Save as…” and save the file in your desired folder.  Do not change the filename, as that will cause problems for you when you run your actions on other images.
  8. Export using “Save for web.”   I generally find the “JPG High” preset options to be a good trade-off between size and quality for web images of artwork or photographs.
  9. You could continue to resize and crop your image to create thumbnails or you can stop your action at this point.  To stop it, click the square “Stop Recording” button on the bottom of the Actions palette.

You now have your first custom action.

Running an Action

Automate-BatchTo use the action, make sure the correct action is selected in the Actions palette, then click on “File,” “Automate,” “Batch…,”  choose your Source Folder, and click “OK.”

As long as you included your destination folder(s) for your new smaller files when you recorded your action, you can just let the action run until it has processed your whole folder of images.  And that’s it!

Going Forward

PhotoShop Actions are very powerful time-savers.  Play with them a bit to discover the best sequence of useful steps for your images.  It may not be long before you have created a whole library of your own actions.

There are also many preset actions that you may find very useful (or just fun to fool around with).  Should you run into any problems using Actions, you can find out more detailed information in the PhotoShop Help files.

If you haven’t been using Actions for preparing your digital image files, I think you will find them to be really quite invaluable.

Did you find this tip useful?

Texas Wax Website

Texas Wax Website

Artist and web guru extraordinaire Haley Nagy and I have just completed the design of a new website and blog for all members and fans of Texas Wax, a regional encaustic painting society dedicated to promoting the ancient art of painting with wax.

Haley and I have been members of Texas Wax since the Austin group began in the spring of 2008.  Texas Wax is composed of active encaustic organizations in four Texas cities: Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.  As the four groups have grown and evolved over the past year+, we realized the groups had a need for a central website and blog to showcase all of our work, and to communicate with each other and with our fans.

Haley and I created the site in WordPress from a visual design that I created.  The underlying theme is based on the same theme I used for my fine art website and blog (a theme I created from bits and pieces of many other themes): Marilyn Fenn Studio.

The website features the usual stuff, but we also wanted to give all the artist members of Texas Wax the option of creating and updating their own profiles and gallery pages.  We modified the author page template with the help of several plug-ins (and some blood, sweat, and tears from yours truly), creating an artist directory that pulls their profile information into the author template/artist biography page. There’s also a link to their own gallery page.

We’ve included an events manager that will allow the regional chapter leaders to add events for their regions, and that will automatically move events from “Upcoming” to “Today’s Events” to “Archived” pages as the dates pass.  Featured on the sidebar are a dynamic Upcoming Events list and a rotating gallery of member artwork.

Member artists can add their voices to the blog and talk amongst themselves on a private member discussion list.

Fans of Texas Wax art and artists can sign up to receive blog posts as they are posted, and can sign up for mailing lists for the individual regions or for all of the chapters statewide.  We’ve also provided various contact forms.

Take a look at the brand-spanking new Texas Wax website, while we continue getting our artist members online (which is somewhat harder than herding cats!).

I just completed building a complex site in WordPress in which I combined two Blogger blogs — each with several years worth of posts — with a website that contained two existing MySQL databases of painting images and art quotes.  It is now a 212-page art portfolio site and blog, with many images of paintings, many photos, some color exercises, and a lot of postings and notes.  So it was a lot of content to gather together, organize and combine into an attractive and easily navigable site.

I spent a lot of time trying out various options and a lot of different plugins. The ones listed below are the top 20 plugins that I found nearly indispensable for this particular site, which you can see in action here: Marilyn Fenn Studio.  As always, your mileage may vary.

  1. WP CSS Dropdown Menu
    A three-level drop-down menu plugin for WordPress.  It uses Stu Nicholl’s final drop-down code, which is CSS only.  You can modify the style to suit your theme, include a Home page button, and exclude pages from the drop-down menu.  I tried several other promising and not-so-promising options before finding this.  Eureka!
  2. Reveal IDs for WP Admin
    In order to exclude pages in the above plugin, you need to know their IDs.  This plugin reveals IDs of pages, posts, tags, and categories, all of which I found very useful in creating the above site.
  3. Flexi Pages Widget
    Allows you to choose which of your pages to display in the sidebar, whether to display sub-pages, and in what order to display the pages.
  4. Different Posts Per Page
    This plugin allows you to return different numbers of posts per page type.  For example, you can show five, ten or all your posts on your Archive, Category and Tag pages, but limit them to 1 or 3 or 5 on your home page.
  5. WP-PageNavi
    This gives you an attractive way to scroll through your post-pages, and really aids navigation, especially on a large site.  See the bottom of the home page on the afore-mentioned art site for an example.
  6. AZIndex
    This plugin will create a very flexible site index for you with the greatest of ease.  Very nice when organizing a large amount of content, and it auto-updates when new content is added.  This is such a well-written plugin, and has the best documentation of any plugin I have tried, which I really appreciate!
  7. NextGEN Gallery
    I’m sure this makes it to everyone’s list.  I did not use it on this, my design site, but found it great for my art site.  I used it to include a random gallery of paintings on my sidebar, to include thumbnails of related images in posts, and to create indices of paintings and photos.  I could have used it for my art galleries of thumbnails and large images, but did not in this case, as I have my own art image database which contains a bit more information than the NextGen plugin displays.  The developers continue to improve this plugin; they have recently added the ability to include titles.
  8. Yet Another PhotoBlog
    This is a very cool plugin that allows you to insert an image once, and it will create different sized thumbnails to be displayed on different types of pages; for example, you can display small thumbnails of an image in the archive pages, another size on the home page, and another size on the individual post pages, and you can specify left or right display in all cases.  It only allows for the insertion of one image per post, but you can use the standard WordPress image upload tool to add additional images.
  9. TS Custom Widgets
    This plugin allows you to include different sidebar widgets on different pages.  I found it very useful in many cases; for example, it gave me the ability to remove redundencies, such as an About Me box on the About page, or a random painting gallery on the painting gallery page, and to limit certain items to appropriate pages only, such as a blog roll only on the links page.
  10. Simple Tags
    This is a very flexible and powerful little plugin for managing your tags.  It allows you to mass edit your tags, show related posts, create content-sensitive tag cloud widgets, and more.
  11. Contact Form 7
    This is very nearly everything it needs to be.  This plugin allows you to create multiple instances of contact forms, using the standard form elements, and includes the ability to add a simple Captcha.  The documentation could use a little help; so you may need to read through some of the responses on the plugin homepage and do some trial and error to figure out just how it works, but once you get through that, it works like a charm.  You may also want the Really Simple CAPTCHA plugin from the same developer — it used to be included, but now it’s a separate element — or the more robust WP-reCAPTCHA that I’ve used on this site.
  12. Subscribe2
    A very simple plugin that allows your readers to easily subscribe to or unsubscribe from your blog.  It sends an email notification to the list of subscribers when new entries are posted.  You can also exclude notices from being sent on selected posts and pages.
  13. Sociable
    This is about the fourth social network plugin I have tried that automatically add links on your posts to your favorite social bookmarking sites.  It is very flexible and unobtrusive.  I did love the look of one called “Sexy Bookmarks,” but it caused my pages not to validate.  I am using AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget on this site, and it’s great, too.  But Sociable may offer the most flexibility in what bookmarking sites you can include, and I like the faded icons that come to life when moused over.
  14. Feed Reading Blogroll
    One of the things I loved on my Blogger blog was the Blog List that showed the latest updated blogs you are following, compete with newest post title and a thumbnail.  I loved seeing my artist blogger friends’ latest images displayed.  I searched and searched for something like that for WordPress, and this plugin is the closest thing I could find.  It works well, is pretty easy to set up, but lacks the thumbnail display.  Using Feed Reading Blogroll along with Interclue enabled on Firefox, I can still see the latest paintings from my artist blog list.
  15. Broken Link Checker
    This checks your posts for broken links and missing images and notifies you on the dashboard if any are found.  Very handy for keeping link-rot out of your blog.
  16. Maintenance Mode
    This plugin will add a splash page to your blog to lets visitors know your blog is down for maintenance.  Yet you can continue to work on and view your blog as a logged in administrator.
  17. DashBar
    This plugin adds a tiny logo in the upper corner, if you are logged in, with a two-level drop down menu bar that appears on mouseover.  It allows easy access to the dashboard or to add, edit or manage new posts/pages/links, and more.  I find it very, very handy, though the logout does not seem to work for me.
  18. Akismet
    For keeping out the spam in your comments.  It seems to work very well.
  19. StatPress Reloaded
    Excellent and very detailed stats displayed right in your WordPress dashboard.    You can export them out, too.
  20. Google Analyticator
    Easy to use plugin for adding your Google analytics code to your WordPress blog.  Works very well.

Marilyn Fenn StudioI am thrilled to announce the launch of my completely redesigned artist portfolio website, now including my two previous Art Blogs.  On this site, you will find:

Stuff about me:

Stuff not about me:

Head on over to Marilyn Fenn Studio and have a look around, and then I’d love to hear your reactions.  You can comment below or fill out this very brief survey.

Cross-posted at Marilyn Fenn Studio.

FlickrI recently reviewed five online artist portfolio sites where an artist can start to show their work.

As a bonus, I’m adding Flickr, which is not so much an online artists portfolio site as a quick and easy way to get started having your artwork online.

Pros:

  • easily upload photos of your artwork
  • easily organize your work into sets
  • easily edit title, tag and description information per photo or per batch of photos
  • rotate images online
  • view the artwork by browsing through sets, view as thumbnails or view in a slideshow
  • add your profile
  • add friends and contacts with whom to share artwork
  • join groups of other artists with whom you can share your work and discussions
  • comment on the work of others and add them to your favorites —  and receive the same from others
  • bookmark a page or a piece to your favorites, an RSS feed, myYahoo and Delicious, and send via email

Cons:

  • limited to only three sets of images (for free)
  • no option to add additional pages for such things as resume, bio and statement
  • your name is not part of the URL scheme
  • not a true portfolio site; does not appear to the viewer as a professional online artwork presence; hence not for the serious artist trying to make contact with shows or galleries

Conclusion:
A great place to share photos of your artwork with family, friends and colleagues; a great place to hook up with other artists and share work and discussions; a great resource to be used just to get started or as an addition to a more intentional portfolio site.

Marilyn Fenn at FineArtAmerica1Today I will be reviewing the 1st of the free online portfolio sites that I have to sign up for.  So follow me through the process.

As I look at the next site on my list, FineArtAmerica, I do feel a bit daunted.  This is one of those online sites where you can not only show your art, but also sell high-resolution prints of your work, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The first thing I noticed was a map of my state and “Your current location” with my city listed (how did they know?).  Further down the home page, there is an artist spotlight featuring the work of artists from my hometown.  Nice.

They seem to have a lot to offer besides the ability to show your work and sell prints of it.  They have good search tools for finding artwork and artists; a page of brick and mortar galleries located in my area, and more pages of galleries located successively further and further out.  The list doesn’t seem quite complete or accurate, though, so I assume it’s made by people who submit their own info (some important local galleries are missing from the list, and some things that are listed as galleries are mere one-person shops).  They also have a nice events calendar, so I can see that may be useful tool.

They have jobs listings, community links, news, and a tour of their site, which I highly recommend, as it more extensive and more interesting than what I can cover here.  My first impression is that even though the site looks packed with information, art and options, it’s well designed and well-thought out, so I’m intrigued.

They offer two levels of artist portfolios; a free one which does NOT include the print-on-demand feature; or for $30.00 a year, the level with print-on-demand, which actually looks like a great deal, if one is ready for that.  I’m going with the free one for now.

OK, so the Terms of  Use are acceptable; perhaps even better than average.  Adding my artist info was easy, except that I seemed to run out of room for my full bio, statement, and resume upon initial sign-up; though after I was given a password and logged back in, I was able to add the remainder of my info.

Uploading the first piece of art plus info was also easy, and each art piece has it’s own webpage (it’s own link), with places to: recommend, post a comment, add to favorites, submit to Stumble Upon, and share on Facebook. The viewer can also “Add This Artwork to Your Favorites Collection,” and “Add This Artist to Your Watch List.”

Besides including the usual (art, title, medium, dimensions, and price), you can add a description and tags.  Dominant colors and a URL link to the piece are auto-generated.  Very nice.  They also add little boxes onto your piece (on rollover) that the viewer can click to see a small portion of your painting at full-resolution (with a ghosted watermark).  This is a great feature that I will very much appreciate if and when I decide to offer prints for sale.  At present, the resolution  of my online images is too low to print from or to see any more detail.

Like most online portfolio sites, the first piece of artwork shown is the last piece added, but the cool thing is, you can change the position in which they are shown.  Oh, yah!  Plus, they allow you to show up to 100 pieces!  Pretty generous.

You can also add upcoming events to their calendar, view events by location, date, etc., view how many people have looked at your comments, and read comments they’ve left  for you.  While I was uploading my art, almost all of it got viewed by quite a few people , and I already received a nice comment.

Now this may be the coolest thing of all: you can set up your own mailing list right online through them, and mail HTML newsletters to everyone on your list; the newsletters will come through your email address, and you can see who opened them.  I think I will try it out.

FineArtAmerica was designed by artists for artists, and it shows.  They have quickly moved to the top of my list of free online portfolios.  I’m truly wowed!  I suggest you run, don’t walk, over to FineArtAmerica and set up your portfolio.

***It’s been several days since I signed up with FineArtAmerica.  I still love it.  On day2, I was a featured artist on the home page for the Austin area; a number of people have commented on my works there, and I have commented on a number of other artists’ works.  It’s a very friendly community.

My Profile Page

My Profile Page

I’m back, finally!

I signed up with MyArtSpace in 2006 or 2007.  It’s a lovely space, with a very professional look.  I’m probably more fond of MyArtSpace than I should be, because it’s really buggy.  I’m only today finding out just how buggy it is!  For instance, I can’t login to it through my usual browser (Firefox, probably because I have AdBlock and Flash Block turned on) — but whatever the reason is, the “submit” button is missing from the login section of the page on my browser in FF, and I can’t find an alternative location to login from, so I’m having to use an alternative browser.

Even worse than that, however, is that when I go to view my art in different browsers, it may or may not show up!  First I couldn’t view my own gallery if I was logged in using Opera 9, Google Chrome, and IE 7, but I can’t view my galleries in Safari for Windows whether I’m logged in or not.   That’s not good.

And let me just go ahead and get my final complaint out of the way: MyArtSpace allows artists to add music to their gallery pages.  In my humble opinion, this is a bad idea.  It has nothing to do with viewing art, and the last thing I want when I go to any webpage is for somebody’s else’s choice of music to start auto-playing over the music I’m already listening to, so I will click away faster than you can say “lickety-split.”  Your mileage may vary, but artists — beware; just because you can add something to your web page, doesn’t mean you should.  This is most true for sound and animation — unless you’re a musician or an animator, and even then, you probably want to allow viewers to turn it on; or at least turn it off, but by no means should you offer your viewers no choice — unless you want to lose potential viewers.

Enough with the complaints; let’s get to the heart of the matter — creating your own gallery.  As with most online portfolios, it’s a good idea to keep your resume, statement and bio in a plain text format, such as in Notepad, and then copy and paste from that into the appropriate little boxes provided for such information.  The little info boxes on MyArtSpace are quite small, so be sure to check that your information got inserted correctly — that your desired content is all there and that undesired line breaks didn’t get inserted.

Account page

Account page

Uploading your images to the galleries can be a little more complicated on MyArtSpace than on some other online portfolios; first you need to upload the images, then organize them into portfolios, and then from the portfolios, create your galleries.  Luckily they provide a good tutorial, helpful graphics and a wizard to make things even easier.  In fact, you probably want to use the wizard to upload your work the first time  — or anytime you plan to upload several pieces into a new gallery.

After they’ve been uploaded, your images will be contained in an image library, where you can go to add new work, and edit or make some detailed adjustments to existing work (such as adding a watermark and making the images printable, zoomable, downloadable, and emailable).   Just go to “Edit and Organize My Art.”

In either the wizard or the standard library view, there’s a nifty tag cloud for adding tags chosen from a list.  I used to be able to add my own tags (such as “encaustic,” which is not an option you can choose from), but now attempting to add my own tag just hangs up the browser.

The portfolios are for organizing bodies of work, and you can add a description for each portfolio, choose which piece represents which portfolio and add new pieces to each portfolio.

Finally, the gallery page is where your work gets publicly displayed.  They are displays of your artwork in a Flash-based page; one page per each gallery.  Any image that is not in a portfolio cannot be added to a gallery.  Each gallery contains thumbnails and a large image slideshow, with information for each image.  Here’s where the music would play, if you added it.  Here’s where I would click away from your work, if music plays.  Just sayin.’

One of My Gallery Pages

One of My Gallery Pages

I haven’t found a way to re-order the order in which your images are displayed, and it seems they are displayed with latest added shown first.  Just keep that in mind as you build your galleries.  Start with the one you want on the left first.

MyArtSpace also offers an online store, but it costs, with various options and price points.  I haven’t added it, as I have my own website.

As with most other online portfolio sites, the artwork on the front page is displayed by most recently added, which quickly falls off the front page.  I added a few things in the past hour or two, and they are now on pages 2 and 3, and I’m sure they will be buried deep by the time I publish this story.  (Amendment: the front page does not show the most recent work, but featured content; however, you can search for “Most Recent” artists, galleries or images.  Several hours after my initial post of this story, my images are on pages 9 & 10, and my latest Gallery addition is on page 4 of “Most Recent” under “Galleries”  For what it’s worth).

My two favorite things about MyArtSpace are the quality of articles about artists (as well as the quality of artists showing there), and the opportunities for community with other artists.  I have met quite a few artists online through MyArtSpace.  You can “friend” other artists, and send them emails when you add new work or have an opening.

They also offer what seem to be some high quality art contests with great opportunities to show your work.

Overall, I view MyArtSpace as an attractive (if flawed) space to show your work, but more importantly, it’s a great place to connect with other artists —  if you use it to it’s fullest potential — and a great place to see and read about some very cutting edge work.  Worth the effort, I think….

marilyn-fenn-saatchi-online2

saatchi onlineI signed up with Saatchi Online almost as soon as they started offering free online portfolios in 2006.  At the time, they offered “your own page which you can update as much as you wish. You can post up to eight images…and there is no fee, we have created this to assist artists in raising their profiles.”  OK!  Sounds good.  Where do I sign up?  (here: http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/yourgallery/register/)

The Saatchi Online site is a very nice looking site, though I find the little boxes of links surrounding both sides of the main content column a bit overwhelming as a navigation method, and the page can be ridiculously long (see my page at right >).  There are some main navigation links at the top of every page, though I am not sure if those links include everything you can find on their site.  Luckily, they’ve included a very extensive site map.

They have a lot to offer; besides information on the physical Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea, they offer online chat, forums, and critiques; calls to entry, grants and funding; information on art fairs; links to art schools, dealers, galleries, and museums; a daily online magazine, blogs, and news; sections for under 17 students; and — perhaps one of the more interesting perks they offer — a “showdown,” where you can submit your work to be voted on by viewers in competition with other artists.

Over time, they have made a number of improvements to the portfolio pages, including increasing the number of images you can add — it appears to be 25 at present.  They do limit the size of your images to 500 pixels wide and under 2mb, but I find that is generous enough (and larger than they allowed formerly).  They also added an online salesroom, where you can offer your work for sale.  They take no commission and charge no fees for this service; the sales agreement is between artist and buyer.

Creating or updating your own gallery information on the site is quite easy; again, just copy and paste your plain text resume, artists statement, bio, etc. into the appropriate boxes.  There’s also a place for your photo, your email address, a link to your own website, and future shows.  Uploading new images is also very easy, and some of the fields “remember” what you typed into those fields previously, making it even easier.

They do request that you post the sizes of your images in centimeters, which is easy enough using an online conversion calculator (for those of us not thoroughly versed in the metric system). You might want to include the size in feet and inches in the description section, though, for those who don’t visualize in centimeters.

I did have a few technical issues when uploading new work today, which hopefully, they will fix soon.

I also wish they would give the artist some way of setting the order that the pieces appear on your page, especially since each piece is shown rather large, and in vertical succession; it appears that the piece shown at the top of your page will be the first one you uploaded (so potentially your oldest piece) — which is exactly the opposite of how I would order them.  As it is, the only way to fix that is start over every time you refresh your portfolio there.

Now for a few words on the Salesroom — this is the area where you can sell your artwork online — it is a totally different page from your portfolio page.  Unless I’m missing something, there is no direct link from your online gallery to your salesroom (and vice-versa, unless you are logged out), so you have to click on a link in the top drop down navigation to go to the Salesroom, then look yourself up.

Once there, though, it very easy to add your pieces to your Salesroom: with one click, you can add one of your portfolio pieces to the Sales page, and with one more click add the price, and then repeat the process for all your pieces.   One curiosity I discovered is that I was able to upload more than 25 pieces to the Salesroom, though only 25 pieces will show up on your portfolio page.

How your work in the Salesroom is displayed to viewers is disappointing.  One image is served up at a time, and while the “next image” will be yours, it is served up randomly, which means anyone viewing your Salesroom may not see all your work — unless they are obsessively patient — and they may see the same piece over and over again, giving you no control over what they will see or in what order.

Saatchi Online may be another good place to get more eyes on your work, but they show all work randomly, and the only way I’ve been able to find my own work on there is through a direct link or doing a search on my name.  So I do have to wonder how many other eyes have actually landed on my art.  There is certainly a lot of interesting information available to artists on the Saatchi Online site, which probably makes it worth your while to check out — and I have had requests for information on at least one of my pieces through them; maybe I’ll get more now that I’ve refreshed my pages.

The bottom line, however — I would not choose this site as my one and only online portfolio site.  It may be a nice addition to your own personal website or another free online portfolio, and then again, it may not even be worth your time setting it up.  I kind of hate to say this, because there’s much to like about the site, but the limited ways that your work may be found seem to really limit the number of viewers who will get introduced to your work on their site.

Also known as WorldWideArts Resources, AbsoluteArts.com advertise that they are “the largest site for contemporary art, art news, art history, contemporary artist and gallery portfolios” with over 170,000 works of contemporary art.  I signed up with AbsoluteArts.com in 2003.  They send out a newsletter not quite once a month, reminding me occasionally that I have a portfolio there.  Over the years, I think I may have gotten a response or two to the few pieces of art I’ve had online there, though nothing has ever developed from that.

My Free Online Portfolio at AbsoluteArts.com

My Free Online Portfolio at AbsoluteArts.com

At any rate, they offer three levels of portfolios, the first of which is free and contains:

  • the artist’s information
  • maximum of 8 images (which in most views is spread across 2 pages)
  • spaces/pages for an artist’s biography, statement, exhibitions, gallery affiliations, reviews, collections, and commissions
  • a spam protected email form
  • a guestbook
  • your links
  • ability for someone to be added as a friend to the artist
  • dashboard to update your portfolio (um, I say this because they tout it as a perk, but isn’t this a given?)
  • support and questions with a human being
  • optional credit card processing for $35.00
  • optional direct URL to your AbsoluteArts portfolio for $20.00 (in this form: “www.absolutearts.com/yourlogin” — which I suppose is better than “http://www.absolutearts.com/portfolios/yourinitial/yourname/”)

Other options require an upgrade (add videos, blogs, events, slideshows, an email manager, and more), and the upgrades are not inexpensive ($44.00 – $100.00/yr).

The other sections on their site are:

  • search by keyword on a variety of particulars
  • search or browse for art/artists using a number of sorting parameters
  • news on current art trends
  • sections for reading about/researching artists/art history
  • artists blogs, an artists cafe, and a discussion forum
  • some calls for artists
  • some options for linking your existing website to theirs

In December, they updated their Portfolio Manager to make it easier to update your online portfolio.

But I have to express some frustration with updating one’s portfolio on AbsoluteArts.com.  I just updated mine, and it won’t let me rearrange my artwork in the order I want it (it’s a numerical ordering system, and some of the number options are missing from some of the pieces).

In the Bio section, it asks for answers to specific questions, not all of which I feel are pertinent to my art or for which I have a ready answer, so they show up as “Not Provided” on my Artist Bio page.  Finally, the following Q & A appear on my bio page, but there is no place where I can answer the question: “Why Did You Become An Artist? — “not provided.”  Now that’s a question I would be happy to answer (for the record – I was born believing I would be an artist — the rest is merely fulfilling my destiny).

Otherwise, the process of updating older pieces and uploading newer pieces was fairly simple and went smoothly.

Updating my bio, statement, resume, and links was quite easy as well.  (TIP: keep a plain text version of all your artist info in something like Notepad that you can copy and paste from, since many sites are fussy about preformatted text).

But what they do offer at AbsoluteArts.com is a lot of information about artists.  For the buyer, that’s great; for an artist, it may be merely a bonus — if you’re like me, most of the time, you’d rather be creating your art than reading about other people’s art.  But for those times when I poke my head up and want to look around and see what others are up to, this would be an interesting place to investigate.

However, as a FREE online artist portfolio site, the limitation of only having 8 pieces online at any one time is harsh!  With so many other free online artist portfolios offering so much more, you’ll have to decide whether having a free portfolio at AbsoluteArts.com is worth your time and attention.  A paid portfolio may be worth it — they claim to have much higher traffic than many other free online portfolio sites — but in my humble opinion, that’s a lot of moolah to dish out if some kind of desired results cannot be guaranteed.  I’d rather spend that kind of money on my own website with my own URL and complete control over the look and contents — or art supplies or food.  As always, your mileage may vary.

d-ART was an early entrant into the rash of sites offering free online artist portfolios.  I signed up early on — in January 2003.  I haven’t fully participated in all that they have to offer (forums and critiques, for example), but I find them to be a great online portfolio addition to my own artist portfolio website.  They’ve updated their look and options a time or two over the years, always improving an already very good online art database.  Here is what my portfolio there looks like now:

Features:

  • each artist gets their own set of pages that include:
    • your photo
    • a banner, which can be of your own design
    • a bio page
    • gallery “wings” of thumbnail pages with up to 50 images in (as far as I can tell) unlimited wings
    • large image pages with artwork information, price, dominant colors, and “private bids,” “add to favorites,” “contact seller,” and optional “buy now” buttons (see Paypal/Google below)
    • a browse/search box for your art gallery wings
    • a links section
    • your own signature or avatar
    • the ability to add Paypal or Google checkout to your listings
    • the ability to integrate e-Bay listings
    • the ability to sync your database enabled website with d-ART’s database
    • an artist’s forum for information that others submit about your art
    • community critiques by other artists
    • a contact form with spam protection
    • monthly stats of views and clicks
  • your work can be found on the d-ART site by:
    • a direct link
    • “browse artist alphabetically” on the front page of the d’Galleries
    • browse work by type, genre, subject and price
    • search the Marketplace by new listing, random, keyword, type of art, subject, media, price, size, and/or color
    • keyword search at the top of every page
    • browse the Critic’s Corner
    • directly from Google.com / Froogle.com (via their daily database feed)

Of course, as you might expect, those artists who pay to to be a featured artist or be hosted on their site get more goodies, but what they offer for free is quite good.

d-ART is an excellent site for the art buyer, and a very good one for the art seller.  In the past 12 months alone, I’ve had almost 390,000 thumbnail views of the 33 pieces of art I had on there last year, and almost 68,000 clicks to the individual pieces; I’ve had several inquiries about individual pieces, though I have as yet made no sales through d-ART.

However, as good as d-ART is, I would not use it instead of a website where the URL can be a name of my choosing.  Using it in addition to your own website, however, can only help get more eyes on your work.  On the other hand, when you have your artwork listed on several online sites, you need to be very careful to keep the information current and accurate on as many sites as you have a presence on.

To that end, one of the greatest things that d-ART offers is the ability to sync up your database enabled website with their database.  My next step with d-ART will be to attempt to do just that.  Once I have done that, I will post how easy or difficult I find that process to be.

One last noteworthy comment I want to make; d-ART does make it very easy to add new artwork and information about the artwork — if you are uploading a number of pieces, the best practice is to batch upload pieces that are similar — then after filling in the information on the first piece, be sure to click on the checkbox “this piece is similar to the last” and then all you have to edit are the titles and whatever else may be different about the remaining pieces.  On the other hand, editing bits of information about the artwork that is already in your d-ART Gallery must be done on a piece-by-piece basis, and is very tedious.  I speak from experience (having just spent way too many hours updating my portfolio there).

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