Category: Artists With A Day Job

10 Must Have Web Marketing Tools for Your Art Business


1. Website – Does not have to be expensive. Start with a free blog such as or and direct your own domain to your page.

2. Blog – Can again be a free service as mentioned above.  But if using a blog for your site, also have a separate page(s) from your ‘Site” specifically for your regular blogging.

3. Business Cards – Be sure to include all pertinent information (contact email/website/store front URL) and at least one image of your art.  I personally prefer to use but there are a number of other options including

4. Artist Statement – Write up a paragraph or two letting people know what you would tell them in person about your art, if you could stand next to them viewing an exhibit of your work. You will add this information to your website, brochures and anything else that is appropriate. More information here

5. Facebook Page – Social networking presence is important these days. Facebook is the best place to start in my opinion. More information here

6. Pinterest Page  – Can work along with your facebook page. Aimed specifically at visual sharing, so wonderful for artist! Alyson Stanfield information on Pinterest

7. Elevator Pitch – Write up a sentence or two that breaks down exactly what it is that you are creating to sell. Be able to clearly and concisely describe to someone in less than 60 seconds. More information here

8. Brochures – Not everyone is online. Brochures will show your work and explain a bit about you and the work in a concise manner. A must have for an exhibit. More information here

9. Your own domain – You can do a lot of things online to promote your work, but without your own domain you are missing out. Having one will make it much easier to find you and helps to build your branding. One only has to do a simple search to be buried in places to purchase a domain. I personally use

10. Quality Images of Your Art – Probably THE most important thing you can do is to have quality images of your work. Nothing says amateur like bad photos. You want to be seen in the best light possible, bad pun I know!  These will be used on your website, business cards, brochure and press releases. The ideal situation would be to have a professional take them for you. If a tight budget is of concern look to hiring a student, or bartering for what you need.


Postcards/Note Cards – Not necessarily a priority when just starting out, but I would shoot for them eventually. Are an easy way to get images of your new work out to be seen, as with images on your business cards. Collectors appreciate them when tucked in with a purchased item.

Mailing Labels – Also not a high priority at first but are nice to have and help to reinforce your branding.

Painting in Oils – Part Four – Facial Proportions

Facial proportions can vary according to ethnic background and gender. Traditionally men have more angular faces and more pronounced brow just above the eyebrow line. Examine the images shown to see how the eyes fall in the middle of the entire skull, between the tip of the head and chin. In-between the eyes is a space equal to the width of one of the eyes. Halfway between the eyes and the tip of the chin is the line where the mouth opening will fall. Although the model on the left is a young adult female, the proportions are the same as an adult. Her features are merely softer and less angular than seen in an older mature looking individual.

Remember these are merely guidelines and will need to be adjusted to fit the subject that you are depicting. Below is that of a middle-aged male’s profile. When you are drawing a subject keep in mind where your light source is coming from, the same rules apply to drawing a human being as to drawing anything else. The trick is to be objective and to draw what you see and not what you think you know. Look at the subject carefully and try to look at the person you are drawing more than the paper you are drawing on. Always work from life whenever possible, if you can not find a model or do not feel comfortable doing so as of yet, just use a mirror and do a self-portrait.


Part Three – Palettes

Part Two –  Mediums

Part One – Materials


Painting in Oil – Part Three – Palettes

We all know what the traditional artist palette looks like: Large kidney shape with a hole for your thumb. But as an oil painter, what are your other options?

Michiels Guillame

Michiels Guillame


Wooden – The most traditional.  Manufactured wooden palettes are sealed with varnish or lacquer, but I prefer to season them also.  If you make your own you will need to “season” it. To do so you rub linseed oil into the wood with a rag and allow it to dry.  I do this a few times before I use it and then at the end of my painting session 2-3 more times, minimum.

Seasoning Palette
Small palette made from one side of a wooden cigar box. The right hand side was seasoned with linseed oil.

Plastic – Durable and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually made of a white plastic that will not stain.

Inexpensive plastic palette

Disposable – Convenient for plein-air painting, and are easy to clean up, made from layers of a wax paper.   The top layer is pulled away and thrown out after use.

Disposable palette with used layer torn away.

Re-purpose fast food containers – With the one shown below I use the lid as the palette and the bottom to seal it. I then place it in the freezer to help the paint stay fresh.

McDonald’s salad container as a palette

Glass – Can be placed on a work surface and any color of paper can be placed beneath to aid in mixing colors correctly. The surface can be scraped clean at the end of the session. Edges of the glass can be heavily taped to prevent sharp edges or a glass cutter can grind them down smooth. A glass thicker than 1/4″ works best.

Reference photos can also be placed under the glass, so that you can mix paints on top and match realistic colors.

Other Variables:

Color & Tone – If you mix your paint on a dark brown, then go to place the same paint onto a white canvas it will not appear the same.  It helps to have a palette close to the color and tone of your working surface. Of course one option is to paint your canvas a closer value to the color of your palette. But this is not always an option.

Shape & Size – Rectangle or kidney shape are the most common.  A rectangle fits well in a paint box, while a kidney shape can fit more comfortable on the hand. Either way, in the end it is a personal preference.

Organizing Your Palette – How you place your paints on your palette is up to you. Some prefer light to dark, while others favor cool to warm.  Or even a random fashion, it is your call. It is only important that it makes sense to YOU.


  • Place your colors along the outer edge so you have an open area in the center for mixing.
  • Start with fewer colors and add as you go, particularly if you are a beginner, so as to not waste paint.
  • Consider placing the colors the same location each time to build a reliable routine.

Note:  There is a new vertical palette on the market that intrigues me.  I haven’t tried it yet, but would like to soon. It is a vertical glass surface placed next to the painting, side-by-side.

These are designed by artist David Kassan and I believe they are available only online. If anyone has tried this I would love to hear your thoughts!

Painting In Oil – Part Two – Mediums

10 Tax Deductions For Artists Working From Home

Ah, it is January 2013, time to start gathering all your tax information in preparation for filing. But, of course you were getting all this information together throughout the year so that you didn’t have to do it all at once, and to help ensure it is accurate! Cause artists are known for being super organized and harbor a deep love of doing all things paper-work related. (Cue sarcasm)

Below is a list of ten items that you should be aware of when going through those receipts in drawers and boxes you have stashed over the past year.

  1. Magazines – That’s right, any magazine that you purchase to read more about your chosen profession, or submit your art to is allowed.
  2. Entry Fees – Time to dig out the information you filed away back in March of 2012 to enter your work in that competition.
  3. Art Supplies – Must have to make art. Anything and everything required to make your chosen art is deductable.
  4. A portion of your rent/mortgage – You will find the necessary information on your Schedule C form, if you work out of your home and can take the Home Office Deduction.
  5. Internet – Percentage of cost you use for business. Related to the Home Office Deduction.
  6. Hardware – Computer Hardware that is. Did get a new Printer last year? A Camera?
  7. Maintenance – Upkeep of studio/office space, such as necessary floor covering, or wall paint.
  8. Office Supplies – Paper used in printer, ink, envelopes etc… that are a all part of business.
  9. Postage – Cost of postage for work sold, or for shipping to shows.
  10. Travel Cost – Did you need to make a run somewhere to participate in a business activity?

*Note- I am not a tax attorney, so be sure to contact a legal professional if necessary

Pricing Art Work

Pricing ones own art work has always been a challenge.  I have tried different methods over the years with varying degrees of success. Below are ten things to keep in mind when deciding on pricing.

  1. Your sales history is important.  Do you already have a strong following and sales record at a certain price point?
  2. The market you are selling your work. If you are selling exclusively in a small town in Kansas your prices may be dictated by the local economy. But, if you are selling online you will have a different demographic to consider.
  3. Awards and/or achievements can also effect the price, particularly the more prestigious.
  4. How much you are needing/wanting to make is also a factor to consider. Do you want to make $1000 a month selling one or two pieces? Or do you need to do a number of smaller pieces for the bottom line?
  5. How much time will you be devoting to working in the studio and on sales?
  6. Overhead is important. What does it cost you to create your work in supplies, travel etc…
  7. What is the competition for similar work?
  8. Is there a strong demand for your work? Maybe it is time for a price increase?
  9. How long does it take you to create your work? Take into consideration research and the business side of things as well as time in front of the easel.
  10. Your financial goals are important. Do you want to be making $10,00o in sales this year? $50,000 in five?

For me I have found it is a balancing act, and needs to be constantly tweaked and adjusted to meet my needs. But, don’t tweak and adjust it on too much of a whim. Your customers need to know what to expect.


Painting in Oil Series – Part One – Materials

Note: This is the first in a six-part series on my oil painting studio practices, that will be published every other Monday.

Materials for painting can be as flexible as the artist, or as ridged. Below is an example of how I handle the task:


Containers for holding mineral spirits.  I prefer to use recycled jars.  I keep several in the working area to reuse again and again.  For those that do not know, if you allow mineral spirits to sit overnight the oil paint will settle into the bottom of the jar. You can then poor off the clean liquid and use it again. Of course you can purchase a much more sophisticated system, but this works for me. Plus I get to feel like I am being a little green in the process.


The paint brushes I use are rounds or filberts. I have purchased them from a number of companies over the years, now I just go to Utrecht.

supplies5I have used a variety of palettes over the years, wooden, glass, plastic, all different shapes and sizes. I now prefer to use a discarded salad/pie container. I use the clear lid to place my paints.  I then use the bottom as a lid and slip it into the freezer when not in use. Cooler temps keep the paint fresh.

supplies3As you can see from the current assortment of paint tubes on my table, I am not a purist when it comes to brand. Right now I am wanting to use up what I have. Maybe in the future I will be more brand loyal?

supplies2I don’t use a medium very often, if I do it is straight Linseed Oil. But, depending upon the effect and drying time there are a number of options. FYI Poppy Oil will extend the drying time, allowing you more open wet-in-wet time.

studio1An easel is always handy.  Again it depends upon your needs, but I prefer a french-style easel. I can keep the legs up, as I have here, and use it on a table top, or use with legs extended. The built in drawer of course is handy for storing and carrying supplies.

Lighting is of the utmost importance. North light is traditionally considered the best. But with the amazing full spectrum lights now on the market it possible to work just about anywhere. If you are like me and live in a rural area with few options, the internet is a wonderful thing!

I use a number of re-purposed t-shirts for rags in my studio area. I cut them into pieces about 8″ square and keep them near my work area at all times.

If I am working from photographs they are taped to the easel for easy access. If painting from life, it is placed to the right, away from the easel.

Note: I also use a small hand head mirror to check for accuracy. The fresh perspective it gives is wonderful!

So there you have it! 🙂


New Year, New Challenges

I have waited for a while now to say these words, “I am now accepting commissions!” For more information go to information on lining up a painting commission.

So what other interesting things will this year bring?

  • For starters, I will present a series of posts on oil painting. The method that I use, and that I find now works for me. These will be posting those every other Monday, beginning on Jan 7th.
  • There will be a weekly post showing current projects and challenges faced in my studio. The first will be Jan 10th.
  • Ever other Sunday will be a sale or special of some sort associated with Artist-How-To/Barton Studio. Starting on Jan 13th.
  • Each month there will be an interview with an artist. This is tentatively scheduled to post Jan 20th. So if you know of someone YOU would like to see interviewed, let us know.
  • Giveaways and contests of course!
  • This blog and website are all new, and will continue to change and grow as we do. So be sure to look around and let us know what you think.
A corner work area.
A corner work area.
A side area with designated piles.
Painting spot ready to go!
You're probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!
You’re probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!


Tote bag perfection?

I have been searching for the perfect ‘work-bag’, for years. One that I can carry my netbook, notes and whatever bare necessities I need. I didn’t want to carry a briefcase – come on I wear jeans and t-shirts 99% of the time. I think I am too old for a back pack, at 49.

Well, I found it.

A moment of silence please….



For the record my oldest daughter thinks it is ugly. For me, it is perfect. Mama got bag baby!