Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wildlife Wonders


One of the things I find most enjoyable about snow is how it records it's visitors.  
I was out feeding the birds the other day and noticed deer tracks and raccoon tracks through the snow.  It was fun to follow their path to the water hole, along the fence and around the feeder.  

Sometimes I wonder where all the wildlife is, going for days without a sighting in the yard.  It's times like these I realize they are always here, not just because I saw them.

These little prints are from a visiting raccoon.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small Town Living



Like the song from Cheers, "...where everybody knows your name".  I live near possibly the smallest town I have ever seen, consisting of a motel, store, and gas station (combined!), and a post office.  There is also a lovely old building used for community events and meetings.  
There aren't any population signs so I can't tell you how many people live in this area, but there are a lot more than you would think based on the tiny town.
What I love about it though, is that you're on a first name basis with the shopkeepers.  The pace is a little slower here and no one really seems to be in a hurry.

Down the road about four miles is the next largest town where they have a bigger grocery store and gas station, real estate, gift shops, library and a few restaurants.  Here too, we are all on a first name basis.
No waiting (or paying) for parking, no long lines at the store and I don't think you need a reservation for a meal.

In the tourist season they flock here for recreation, but in the off season we get it all to ourselves.  Scenic mountain ranges, stunning sunrises and sunsets, and unfortunately, the occasional snow storm.

I believe it is the slower pace that offers us a better quality of life, and an opportunity for a more fulfilling life as well.  It's important to be able to hear yourself think, breath fresh air and take in a majestic view. 

While I sometimes miss being able to attend a play or concert, there are larger towns I can get to for these if I choose.  There are also community events one can attend.

It's amazing how relaxing it can be to just sit on the deck and listen to the birds without the droning sound of passing cars or people's voices.
Everyone should get to experience this at least once in a lifetime.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog Remodel

While the house projects are on hold I decided to carry on with yesterdays goals to keep the blog up and running.  Mission accomplished!  I have remodeled the blog layout for a fresher more professional look.  Doing away with fluff and stuff you'll never miss.

Pleasant photos from here at Retro Retreat are now in the left side bar for you to enjoy while perusing the posts.  I changed the color scheme to brighten things up. 

If you like it let me know, if it still could use some work, let me know.  I'm open.
Thanks for being here!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Redefining a New Pioneer

I've had a change of heart. 
I have decided to keep the New Pioneer blog up and running!
I think with a few tweaks of topics and a side step into lifestyle, I can keep things going here.
Not to mention all the support I have received from followers and friends, I love you all!!

While the remodeling and renovating have come to a slow crawl, there are still things that need to be done here, like replace the front steps and document the rare bird sightings.
But just as important as the daily tasks and projects, is the lifestyle of the New Pioneer.  Apart from the city, cell phone service, and commercial television.
While some people can't imagine life without these amenities, I find most folks actually admire it, respect it, even.
I think it does take a little more courage to stand out - or stand up - for ones beliefs and choices, especially when they vary from the crowd.  A willingness to detach from the masses and blaze a new trail.

So I think I'll stick around a while longer with this blog, rewrite my description page, or create a mission statement.

Stay tuned for more posts on the New Pioneer lifestyle!  If you like it here, I invite you to visit and follow my sisters blog at Absurd Outlook , where she enjoys a country lifestyle on a river.

Thank you for being here!  More coming soon.

Art Marketing for Beginners

(imported from my former photo blog)
There are a million websites and books out there on marketing art, so I am going to focus on only one avenue for beginners from my own experience.

Producing your art on greeting cards

This is where I made the biggest impact with my photography about twenty years ago.  Actually, I wasn't even going to do it because it seemed the market was already saturated with amazing art cards.  It was the supportive words of a dear friend who said each of us are unique in what we have to offer, "your work is unlike anyone else".  That was the confidence boost I needed.

Where to start

After many hours of research, books, interviews, trial and error, I decided to do it myself.  Armed with only a Windows 98 operating system and an Epson photo printer, I began printing out all of my best photographic images on quality Epson paper.
I decided on the Strathmore acid free photo-mount card stock, with matching envelope.
I added personalization by hand signing each image and adding a label on the back of the card with my contact information.
The final touch was a clear cellophane sleeve to place them in protecting the image.
The result was a 4x6 photo on a 5x7 card that could easily be framed!  Wa-la!  Affordable art.

Cost breakdown

My cost per card was around $1.50 including the use of ink.  These could retail from $3.95 up.  Cards now retail for $4.99 and up.
Pay close attention to your costs.  Include everything from the ink (if you are doing it yourself) to the shipping charge on your supplies you order.  Take your "total" cost and then break it down per card, this is your real cost. 

Your calling card

Reproducing your art on greeting cards is a terrific way to market your art.  It's affordable to produce, and it's a great way to get yourself out there.
Retail gift shops, book stores, and galleries will often purchase your cards wholesale or consign them for a commission.
To further market your art using these cards, you can give them as gifts, donate them to causes, or leave them as samples with prospective clients.

Press printed products

Also known as print on demand (POD).
Nowadays it has become much more affordable to order your cards from professional printing companies online.  They are competitive with their prices and paper options, so it's worth it to shop around.  You can do a Google search for professional printing, or professional photo printing services.  I've also included some links below.

Your professional image

Some of you may cringe at the idea of putting your fine art on a greeting card - as if it were demeaning your talent.  Don't go there, look at it as a way to share your art with an even larger audience.  There are art lovers out there who cannot afford original works of art who would treasure it on a greeting card.  Personally I collect art on cards because I know so many artists and couldn't possibly find enough room on my walls for it all!

Original Art

If you are a painter or sculptor you'll need to first photograph your art.  Again, there is a lot of helpful information on the internet that can assist you in doing it yourself.  Maybe you could trade work with a photographer friend.  I once traded my photographic services with an artist friend and obtained some fabulous art.

Recommendations

I use Bay Photo for most of my printing needs.  A friend of mine uses Moo  .
I love the card stock and printing quality at Fine Art America , which is also a terrific hosting site for artists.
I have also heard good things about Nations Photo Lab .
Try out a few and see how you like their quality and service.  Most of them will send you paper samples.

There are also sites like Zazzle . CafePress , and ImageKind that you can join and put your images on any number of products!

Be your own agent

Gathering the courage to take your greeting cards to that first gift shop may seem daunting.  You have to start somewhere, so if it seems too scary to start with a cold call, perhaps start with a shop where you know the owner, or use a friends referral.
I guarantee you that once you take those first few steps you will gain confidence in obtaining new accounts, as well as finding joy in the process and making new friends!

It's business

Selling your art can become a business.  From greeting cards you can expand in to prints and products.
So keep good records!  Document your purchases of supplies down to the pencil (expenses).  Document your sales (income), and your mileage to and from anywhere that has anything to do with your art.  Note the dates for these transactions, and list in detail what transpired (description).  Excel is a great program for this.
If you keep good records it will save you headaches down the road.

I welcome your comments or questions on this topic.  Let me know what companies you enjoy working with, or additional tips.
Good luck in your adventure!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Girl Conquers Kitchen!

I started this project two years ago!  One woman, few power tools, small budget and a lot of determination.


The finished result was a demolition of a detaching cabinet unit, into basic shelves.  This is the final result, with an additional shelf unit to the left on the narrow wall.


This is what I started with.  Making the best of a semi removed cabinet.
However the real work lay ahead as I needed to remove this whole unit as it was detaching from the ceiling - and I could just imagine one more earthquake loosening the remaining two ceiling screws!


First I detached the monster range hood cover.  Then, with my handy reciprocating saw  and cordless drill (I call it a screw gun), I was able to detach the remaining unit - albeit not in one piece however, so scraps were flying everywhere.


 Success!  How about that retro era wall paper?  Maybe another time.  This was behind the drywall.


My most affordable option was to texture and paint this.  All the while I am trying to decide if I will reattach the range hood, or get a vent-less one, or opt out all together.

Finding no solution for the monster exhaust pipe, I removed it (hole still in ceiling!), but I can easily address it with a patch of thin painted wood.
Here are the very simple shelves, hardware and boards are easily available at most hardware stores.  The white boards have a smooth washable surface, perfect for a kitchen.  With this kind of hardware I can easily add shelving later, or move them around when I get bored.
Note: the paint is really a lovely soft yellow, but terribly difficult to photograph.


Included here is the small narrow wall to the left.  I removed the large bulky shelf from here, and painted the wall.


Now for the fun part!  Placing items on the shelf.  All you large family folks take note I live alone and have limited dishes, so it's a bit minimalist.  I was delighted by the touch of color these few items added!
I decided to opt out of the range hood / exhaust fan all together as I'm not a fried food person anyway.  But the electrical access is still available for the next tenant.


This shelf unit for the narrow wall was a complete kit in a box, perfect for this spot of only 24 inch width.  I installed it high enough to be able to place things easily on the counter underneath, but low enough for me to reach the top shelf (I'm short).




Wooden cup holders are always useful in the kitchen.  One was already here, and the other I picked up at a thrift store, painted them the accent color.  Additionally I hung my digitally painted photograph titled "Girasole" on one wall, which really added color!


So there you have it!  A DIY functional kitchen make over for under $200 in a 1972 single wide mobile home, that one woman can do on her own.