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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sketch: Ballina

ink drawing of BallinaBack to Mayo then, and so soon after Westport.

I did a painting of Ballina last year, though I was never really happy with the right hand side, and will probably repaint it. You'll notice this ink sketch of Ballina is from the far side of the bridge.

In Ballina I watched The National That Never Was, and later went for a Chinese. Back then I was suspicious of how we would cater to our own conservative wet vegetable palate, while dining among gold dragons. The Irish solution to this Irish problem was to pour Bisto on every dish. Ahhh, that's Chinese.

A Flickr of Hope

Hey look! I've added an animated badge from Flickr, those nice photo people, off to the right competing with Scott Mack's eye-catching portrait. It's just a selection of ten paintings that you can see elsewhere on this site if you root around.

Now if you can't see it, or other things on the site are all askew, well chances are that you are on a Mac using Internet Explorer 5. You really shouldn't be. Even Microsoft have suggested you change to a rival rather than use their no-longer-supported product. Personally I use Opera, but you'll probably be very happy with Safari, or Firefox. Go on, download it. Trust me. Your husband doesn't even have to know.

Alternatively, if you can't see it, perhaps it just isn't there. Things change.

Panda Painting for sale

Until June 16, 2006
At $25

painting of a pandaPainting of a Panda in acrylics. Influenced by Celtic art of Illuminated Manuscripts. Comes mounted safely on archival matting board. Two and a half inches by three and a half, approx. ACEO size. Shipping and handling is $4 within US, and not too much more for shipping to elsewhere. Credit Cards (Visa and Mastercard) accepted. So is food. Really.

Under a Missouri Sky

Just before yesterday's surprising blue sky was covered by a purple cloud blanket speckled with pink, I got to see three contrails in the sky at the same time. Nothing unusual in that here in the middle of the country, but the three puffy electric yellow lines formed an equilateral triangle.

Now how on earth am I supposed to paint that? More to the point if I do, who's going to believe me? And if they do, will it change the fact that a sky painted with a big yellow triangle just looks silly? In fact I didn't tell you (because I knew you wouldn't believe me), but about a month ago on a short two-mile walk I saw something even sillier up there where clouds should be.

The perfect Missouri blue sky that afternoon, was imperfected only by contrails. Six of them. So what, you say, reminding me again that this is the middle of the continent. And you've got a point. Once upon a time, on a bicycle in rural Nebraska, I looked up and counted fifteen contrails simultaneously visible. But much like the roads in the middle of that state, the aeroplanes also only went due east or west. Six stripes in the sky, too perfect to paint.

However the six contrails visible on my walk last month did not form parallel lines. No, together they formed a perfect Star of David. See? I said you wouldn't believe me. It's kind of like an elaborate Etch-a-Sketch played by friends who fly jets. It would only take seven such pilots to co-ordinate almost meeting over Kansas City, and they could draw a house. I never did see the actual 'planes and we are fairly close here to Whiteman Air Force Base, home of the Stealth, but come on, blue sky, white Star of David - stealth?

Four and half years ago, on September 11th - yes that September 11th - the blue sky over the Missouri and Kansas line, had a huge perfect circle of an airliner, stopped in the sky, waiting to be told what to do next. It's that memory of the day I'll paint sometime, and not the huge queues for petrol on the streets below.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Zebra for Sale :: Edgeio

Until June 16, 2006
At $25

painting of zebraThis is a post to list a painting for sale on edgeio for the first time. The painting in question is a tiny one, just two and half inches by three and a half, and is also listed on Yessy Gallery for sale with a whole series of animal paintings.

This series of paintings came out of a love for Celtic illuminated manuscrips, and animals.

Sketch: Wexford

ink drawing of WexfordThe ink drawings tour of Irish towns on matting board moves east. We've just done Tralee, and before that Bantry and Westport. I was in Wexford most recently in August of last year. Prior to that I hadn't been since 1993 when I went on a steam train. That was a stupendous trip that took forever yet was over too quick.

There'll be a couple more of these sketches to share with you before I start painting them. Can you guess where the next one will be of? I'll give you a clue - it's a town beginning with 'B'.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Edgeio Launches

edgeio logo From midnight tonight the commercial potential of the internet reaches right out to its very edges. Keith Teare's and Michael Arrington's much anticipated Edgeio promises to change the way of the web, even if it fails. By empowering bloggers and harnessing big business Edgeio brings a technology that, if not turning web commerce upside down, completely decentralizes it.

For me for example, it means I can post here about a painting I've finished, tag the posting with 'listing', ping Edgeio's server, and my painting is included for sale on their lists where people might search or receive feeds from instead of going to other central locations. You as a reader of this blog will see the same nonsense from me, but my tag in the code, is a cry for commerce that can be heard all over the world - because it gets matched with people who are looking.

It might not put Craigslist or eBay out of business, but they'll have to incorporate the same ideas in their systems - and fast. Meanwhile Edgeio takes a shortcut to reputation by linking directly to eBay's reputation system. We'll have to wait and see how it copes with the spam onslaught though, and what the SEO crowd might do with it. I can hear the pings Fernando.

Whatever happens the system of using tags and feeds to buy and sell from your own site, is surely here to stay. Indeed it's so stunningly simple it's hard to understand how we haven't arrived here earlier. Simplicity means savings. And popularity. Or wealth, as it's called in business.

Will the kids of tomorrow grow up singing ginny joe ginny joe, bring me back an edgeio  ?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sketch: Tralee

ink drawing of Tralee The third of the ink sketches on matting board - after Westport and Bantry - is this one of Tralee in County Kerry.

I like the straight-on view of streetscapes, as you might tell from 7 buildings, 4 Stories, and the more recent Listowel paintings, and would like to do much more - but getting a narrow Irish street clear of pedestrians for you to sketch is tricky. I could always go at 6 in the morning and instead of people draw in the chip and kebab wrappings.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

The team I'm on won TriviaRiot last night, a pub quiz structured so geeks shouldn't dominate. Questions are directed at teams in a round-robin fashion, nicely shaking things up with luck. Also, as the quiz progresses the points go up (and the pints go down!). This has the effect of each round of questions rendering the previous round almost meaningless. And then there's a final big question where you get to gamble all your points earned up to that stage - which effectively renders the asking of all previous questions pointless. Whenever we're doing bad in round one or two, I remind our team of this. And then we get more drinks in.

It's kind of like how you played snooker when you were a kid. You played by all the rules, affording each ball the respect its colour warranted, as you built breaks or played safety. And then at the end of the frame whoever potted the black was declared the winner.

It's the same corrective principle applied when you played football on the road but managed to pick imbalanced teams, so with the score at an improbable 14-1, and Gerard being called in for his dinner, Next Goal The Winner!.   I often think Chelsea would be involved in better games of football if the rules allowed for someone's mother to shout from behind a goal Didier! Your Dinner's Ready! Next Goal The Winner! 

Last night's final question was about the phrase All Your Base Are Belong To Us  with its history outlined up until a new subdomain launched last year. The history of this sort of viral pop fluff is something Wikipedia is good at, so I'll link to their analyis of it here. The answer was Google Base, and probably timely since Google Base is likely to morph soon into something rather more commercial.

Amazon Wiki for LTAL

Not too long ago Amazon introduced tags, wikis, and authors' blogs. A few days ago, one Leonidas38 created a wiki for Living the Artist's Life  - Wet Canvas members will recognize Leonidas38 as the username of one Verne Gripes - the name behind the blog that is supposedly a tribute to LTAL - Wet Canvas Dreams

The wiki on Amazon is for customer-editable product information and not reviews - there are currently 27 reviews on Amazon - so if you have any such info to add, toddle on over and edit away (you'll have to scroll down to just after the reviews). I may launch a wiki myself yet for the whole Free Books For Bloggers project, because, well it might be fun. It might.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Sketch: Bantry

ink drawing of BantryAnother ink drawing on matting board like yesterday's Westport, though this time with the lines a bit looser, more sketchy.

Ultimately this should end up in the style of Killarney - which is still for sale incidentally ;) These matting boards are grey-blue, and textured, which is why they look kinda dirty. Bantry gets bigger when you click it, so it does.

Art Biz Blogs Books for Bloggers

The FREE Books for Bloggers giveaway continues apace. Art Biz Coach Alyson Stanfield, author of the very popular Art Biz Blog, and provider and organizer of the wonderful free resource that is the art marketing community called Art Biz Connection, has passed on the information about the "Living the Artist's Life" giveaway of 250 books just for being a blogger. And her readers have applied and are receiving copies - with no requirements to promote the book. Alyson provides a great service to artists, be they beginning, emerging or established - as we all have a need to promote and build our art. I've been reading her daily tips for some time in her blog, and recommend you subscribe to it.

Remember these are not free advance review copies, they are complimentary copies of an existing already successful book.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sketch: Westport

ink drawing of WestportStudying in what was then called NIHE, I had a lecturer in Public Administration who regularly railed against CIE. He didn't believe the train service from Dublin to Westport should exist:
-I mean has anybody here ever even been on the train to Westport?
From a class of 75, I alone raised a hand. Thus single-handedly I was responsible for saving public transport, and keeping the tourist industry of Mayo alive.

I have a lot of plans for this sketch of Westport. It's in ink on matting board, and I want to wade in with pastels. But I also want to paint it, in a blobby fashion like Kinsale II. And paint it different ways. Ooh I have another headache.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pushing the Envelope in 7 Steps

As an artist, watching your child spontaneously pick up a pen and create a great birthday card, is a fabulous thing to behold. As a parent, it's even better.

Quinn drew a great card last weekend - that I won't show you here because the birthday hasn't occurred yet - but I had nothing appropriately special in my supply of envelopes. So I made one for him. Follow along and you can make one too:

1. Place card (blue) on paper wide enough to cover it when folded over
2. Fold along the red lines
3. Cut out the grey-blocked areas
4. Fold along the grey lines
5. Cut out the purple areas
6. Fold large flap from bottom up and glue to folded-in side flaps
7. Fold small top flap over and tuck inside

envelopeAnd if you use really cool paper, it will look like this:

Tune in tomorrow for Lesson #83: How to Butter Toast in 5 Easy Steps

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Going Out The In-Door

Aldi In Door, Out DoorThe exit-door wouldn't open, and the enter-door wouldn't close. Several degrees below freezing, this meant it was cold inside Aldi this morning.

In winter in Kansas City, buildings and buses are heated so much I take off a lot of clothes when I enter. It means I'm the only one on the bus in a t-shirt, sitting among hatted, scarved, gloved people, padded up in coats that stay buttoned. My son laughs at me, but once outside it's my turn to laugh. So today for the first time I got to keep my coat on indoors. Of course I did take my hat off and undo the zips, as I gave the checkout lady 99 cents plus tax for the spuds.

Apologizing for the doors, she then escorted me so I wouldn't hurt myself walking through the same open doorway I'd entered by not but two minutes earlier. If this doesn't seem odd to you it's because you don't live here.

In the Midwest three minutes past seven is never 7 o'clock, it's 7:03; 25 feet away from 75th and Main is not 75th & Main; the weather is never warm or cold, it's 89 or 41 degrees; parties don't just start at stated times but they have end times;   and people just don't leave by the enter-door.

Today, going out the in-door was like I was a schoolboy standing on a desk for the first time, encouraged by Robin Williams to see the world from a different perspective. And like any good artist I was about to seize the day, until I remembered I'm from Dublin, where state-sponsored bodies were built upon the concept of going out the in-door.

Giving Away Books. Honestly.

The program for Hillstead Publishing of giving complimentary books to Bloggers, with no catches, is going well.

Michael Allen of the excellent literary blog, Grumpy Old Bookman, today wrote on the project, noting how unusual it is for an established book to be given freely in its physical form, and to bloggers also. In the comments, Lynne W Scanlon, of The Publishing Contrarian seemed to misunderstand, confusing this project with the common unsolicted mass giveaways of advance or preview copies to reviewers, a practice that ultimately floods the used-book and online markets with unwanted 'new' books.

Living the Artist's Life   was published in 2004 and is currently in its 2nd printing. It has been reviewed many times by publications all over the US, and by readers on Amazon. This Free Books for Bloggers project, is a promotion certainly, but with no requirement for reviews, links, or blogposts it is more of a promotion in conversation that has more in common with BookCrossing than what Lynne described in a Publishers Weekly column last year as flooding the market with ARCs (Advance Review Copies).

Rick Bruner of Business Blog Consulting gets it, being a fan of free stuff as PR, especially for bloggers, and "particularly when you’re transparent that there are no explict expectations". And he was happy that I credited/blamed Hugh MacLeod and his 'Marketing Disruption'

Monday, February 20, 2006

for Elaine

For Elaine, a Zebra

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cast Iron Art #2

This latest despatch from the land of sugar and salt has me preparing to make the rather wholesome lunch of banana pancake stacks. For this I needed the pan last seen in Cast Iron Art #1

Naturally I can't just squirt washing-up liquid onto a surface and wash it, and neither should you. In the latest example of continuous-line, or contour, drawing, I lived on the edge by using a quite fast-pouring bottle to produce this happy face. Click on it to see it better.

And now go wash the dishes - without a dishwasher. Get the kids to help you - You deserve it, and so do they.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Joy of Tedium

Sometimes there's a lot of similarity between these twin careers of art and the Internet. Three years or so ago I did the best interview for a job I've ever done, and in attempting to warn me about the job, my prospective employer stressed its lack of glamour. In reply, I stressed that he was talking to somebody who, for a hobby, literally watched paint dry.

This is just a snippet of an unfinished painting, equal to about one-twelfth. So I have eleven times as many little dots more to paint yet. It's been a long night of watching traffic patterns and responding to it - after yesterday evening's launch of the Great Blogging Book Giveaway. But when you like painting dots, watching web statistics is exciting.

I was offered that job of my dreams that time; it just turned out not to be a time for dreaming. Dots A Relief   is the title of the painting.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Free Book for Bloggers

Living The Artists Life cover
Hillstead Publishing has announced they are giving away, to those who blog, 250 FREE copies of Paul Dorrell's Living the Artist's Life   (of which I designed the website).

There are no strings: no sponsor requirements, no reviews necessary, no shipping even - you just need to be a blogger, any kind of blogger, and you are not required to blog about the book. You can read the announcement on Free Books for Bloggers on Paul's blog.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Dog With No Paws

Line Drawing of a PoodleI never really counted poodles as dogs. You may think it's because I was once outwitted by a Bichon Frise who repeatedly urinated on me whilst doing a handstand (well what do you call it when a dog stands on its front legs only? ) - but no, the Bichon who humiliated me in that dog-sitting episode was a real dog. And not a poodle.

Yesterday I saw a man with a large white poodle, only because it was a dog, well it wasn't really white. And because it was a poodle, well it didn't have any paws. So it just looked like a man wheeling a large cuddly toy that needed a wash.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day Tip Implemented

The 21-step Tip for St. Valentine's Day that I advocated is still up there at #2 on the Top 100 Most Mailed list on Squidoo. Meanwhile the brother went sneaking around England and implemented it there for Herself. Only he did it without cynicism. And just where is the good in that?

Monday, February 13, 2006

White Lines

White Line Contour Drawing of a FacePerhaps I'm behind the times, but developing an application on Ning I came across a Chinese site which is hypnotic if you happen to like drawing or writing without ever putting the pencil down. Some of the difficulty people have in reading my handwriting stems from dotting my i's without removing pen from paper. You might well point out that is an abuse of the word 'dotting'.

Etch-a-Sketch by mouse on a chalkboard really. It's called 11-Art. Go call your kids. Better still, close the door and have a go yourself for five minutes. Or if you prefer, try actual online Etch-a-Sketch

Talking Squares, the domain name, now points to, well, here - the home of this blog. However plans are afoot to turn that domain name into something related to the blog but not just the blog - if you follow. It will include feed digests, for example, but it's probably best if I stop talking now and just show you when it's ready.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Enough of this Irish Nostalgia

Ink Sketch of Stacie's CarEnough of this Irish Nostalgia for sand in your underwear; today I live in Missouri, and I paint and draw it. More specifically I live in Kansas City, where everyone has a car and only losers get the bus.

This is a drawing of a car here in KC that I did before I was a loser.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

New Squidoo Lens: Paul Dorrell's Book

I've just published a new Living The Artist's Life  Lens on Squidoo - it's the basics on Paul Dorrell's book, with feeds from a couple of blogs.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Painting-in-Progress: To The Beach

When we were young, going on your holidays meant going to the beach. When you woke up in a caravan, the first thing you did after a quick bowl of Puffa Puffa Rice  was go to the beach. Summer holidays and going to the beach were synonymous. It's what you did. It's what everybody did. And the continuing anticipation of going probably defined your entire summer.

The first time a friend told me that they went on holidays to somewhere inland,  to the strange place of grass and bog and trees and water bodies without salt, I was so confused I wanted to cry.
-You didn't, you didn't go to the beach?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Masterpiece and Mostaccioli

When the weather agrees, my 9-year-old son rides on the back of my elongated bicycle, and we get to talk to rabbits and geese as if they were part of the family. If we're lucky we see a raccoon scurry away. For Quinn to sit stationary out in the elements for our 6-mile trip home, last night was way too cold. But there's not much wrong with short sunset and moonlit walks either. At an Italian cafe, we ate under the Mona Lisa.

-Is that the real picture?
-It's a print, a picture of the real one.
-It's a picture of a picture?
-Yes. The real one is hanging in France, in Paris.
-I don't see what's so good about it. Everybody is always going on about it.
-I don't know why they do either, but the man who painted it was pretty famous and he only painted 81 or 83 pictures so...
-That's not many; you've painted more than that.
-I have, but he was busy doing other things, some very important. Do you remember that film we saw?
-He was a scientist.
-Yes he was.
-And you are busy doing other things too.
-Well I am quite busy, yes.
-I still don't see what's so special; you could paint a picture and just hang it in a gallery like that.
-I see they painted in black and white in those days too.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Squidoo, HubPages, and DeezleDoo

I won't do this too often because it even bores me, but my SEO page on Squidoo did make it into the Overall Top 100, peaking at #64 before falling out again today. It also peaked at #8 in the Top 100 Most Blogged. And I have risen to #9 in the Top 100 LensMasters.

Update: My Lens on a Happy St Valentine's Day as influenced by Hannibal Lecter   has reached #2 in the Top 100 Most eMailed list.

Squidoo itself is still very much in Beta and I wish they'd iron out so much of their problems ahead of constantly adding new functionality. Perhaps the arrival of will encourage them. And I hear something called DeezleDoo is in development.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Life of an Artist is not all Glamour

Advil, Paracetamol, Drambuie, Jameson, vodka, several litres of Diet Coke, and I finally opened a packet of something I bought in China eleven years ago - which tasted exactly like you'd expect something ten years past its Best Before date to taste.
-No Daddy! Don't drink it!
But worst of all was caving in on Sunday afternoon and buying Lipton's. Yes, such is the strength of a 250 gram a week habit, that 72 hours of hell were brought to you courtesy of running out of tea. A few hours ago an emergency shipment of 800 Loose Leaf grams arrived on a white horse, or maybe it was a white van, and eleven mugs later the Starlings and Juncos have finally stopped feeding on my brain.

Monday, February 06, 2006

SEO(p) Opera

John said, Greg said, Mike Said : An SEO fight

Muffin Mosaic

Cycling home from church in the cold yesterday, Quinn and I decided to bake, with the decision itself warming us.

With only a 6-muffin baking tin, we had to improvise for the rest of the Blueberry Muffin mixture. Improvisation we do a lot. For structural integrity we packed the paper cups into a cast-iron pan.

Quinn was happy with our results and promptly named our piece Muffin Mosaic.  Unlike the first time we made Blueberry Muffins several years ago, this time we didn't forget the blueberries.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Squidoo SEO Page Moves up Rankings

The half-hearted entry in the v7ndotcom elursrebmem  SEO contest, created primarily for observation and learning, has moved significantly up Squidoo's own rankings to just outside their Overall Top 100. Today it is ranked #115 out of over 13,000 pages (called Lenses).

As a creator of pages on Squidoo, I myself have made it to #10 in the Top 100 Lensmasters - 8 places behind marketing god, and creator of Squidoo, Seth Godin.

In more specific lists, the SEO Lens is ranked #14 in the Top 100 Most Blogged, and #20 in the Top 100 in Computers & Technology.

In the rankings that matter - Google - following a BackLink update to the index the page has slid down to #162 out of two and a half million - based on Google's Big Daddy DataCenter. Other Google DataCenters report a ranking in the top 100 out of an estimated three million competing pages.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Sneem II: Painting-in-Progress

One day in the summer of 1991 I got the train to Killarney and then I walked. For seven miles out on the Iveragh Peninsula past the Lakes for I saw no reason to stop. Hitched a lift then only to be scolded by the driver for walking so far.
-People won't stop for you here
-You did

The next lift hitched was with a van full of kids, vegetables and chickens, and it took me to the village of Sneem. With Tidy Town Winner written all over it, and the sunshine leaving me for rain, Sneem made an impression. Regretting not bringing a coat I started to walk again. Destined for the end of the peninsula, for this house, I got another lift after a few miles that took me to Caherdaniel giving me time to check out the Fort before dark.

In darkness and rain I walked the last four miles up the mountains into the clouds. Some people say I've been there ever since.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Painting-in-Progress: Blue Mountains Green Grass II

Blue Mountains Green Grass II in ProgressTalking of squares, it was the paintings of Gustav Klimt - his landscapes in particular, with their very high horizons (not the women or the kiss   or any of that nonsense) - that first converted me to the visual dynamics of a square canvas. We're talking realism here, as the square format for non-representational art was natural from the beginning e.g. De Stijl and Suprematism

The vision of the human eye, however, is closer to a rectangle - something befitting a wide screen plasma television - so a landscape on a square has an awkwardness of something missing, and a heightened focus.

Blue Mountains, Green Grass II   is, despite its name, not actually related to Blue Mountains, Green Grass I. Yes they are both Irish, and have similar subject matter, but in terms of how I'm painting this picture, and how I expect it to look upon completion, its sister painting is an American one called The Cabin.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Sketch: Those Trees Again

Clump of Trees SketchI used to take the shortcut across the 15 Acres  when walking from Ashtown Gate to Chapelizod Stile (Note to self: must finish picture by painting actual stile). This would take me through Oldtown Wood (not a whole lot more than a clump of trees), and invariably leave me facing an outstretched herd of 300 Fallow Deer.

You could walk on straight through them and they would move of course, but that seemed wrong so I would always backtrack and go around the long way, making the walk home last over two hours.

This sketch is not Oldtown Wood - it's those trees here in Missouri I told you about a couple of weeks ago - when I said I was going to paint them, and you didn't believe me. On this fifth day in a row of blue-sky blandness, you can picture the large sky above them as the blue it was, and I'll settle for pale grey. And everybody's happy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I Can See My House From Here

Being from the wing of the family obsessed with maps, I thought I'd check if Google had improved their detail so I could see if the mother is hanging anything out on the line. Looking at my former homeland of Dublin West, well, I'd forgotten everything isn't square. By contrast, this is a painting of the MidWest here - my current homeland - that I did based on flying over it.

Looks like good drying weather in Palmerstown but I don't see any washing. Car's in the drive; perhaps Mam & Dad have gone for a walk.

And Here's The Stuff I Wrote Earlier:

  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • March 2007
  • August 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • July 2009
  • September 2009
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • October 2010
  • December 2010
  • September 2012
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