Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Use RSS feed to be first and informed

Let's say you have a favorite artist (or ten) who's website or blog you like to visit. But who has time every day to jump to their artist's site to check if any new work has been posted. Well now RSS feeds can put you in control. Before I get to the why you should care, let's take a moment to talk about the what question first. What on earth is RSS? (Also known as Subscribe To: Posts (Atom) at the bottom of this page. It's the same thing to you and I.)

What are RSS feeds? Perhaps you've seen text or image buttons on various websites inviting you to "subscribe via RSS." Well, what does that mean exactly? What is RSS, what are RSS feeds, and how do you get them to work for you?

What is RSS? Short for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary, this handy service is revolutionizing the way we search for content. There's nothing complicated about RSS; just think of it as a way that websites come to you, the reader, with content, instead of you having to check up on them. Every time content is updated by your chosen website, a "feed" is activated, and then you can view these "feeds" (it's just a fancy way of saying content) in a feed reader. It's kind of like subscribing to a newspaper. Website feeds get delivered to you in your RSS reader, and you get to read them (We'll get to feed readers in just a minute!).

RSS feeds benefit artists like me too, since I can get my new work and new blogs to subscribers, like you, fast, by submitting feeds to various RSS directories (such as Google Reader).

What does this mean for you? Sure, that sounds interesting, but why is it for me?

Simply put, it means that you are in control and informed about any new artwork that's loaded. Also, if you RSS subscribe to my blog (musings) you will know as soon as I put up an new post of my ramblings. When I post it, you'll know it. Simple as that. OK, says you, I'm an artformation junkie and that sounds like it's for me. What do I do next? Luckily that's simple too. Step on is to Let's talk about RSS readers.

What Are RSS Readers? What are RSS readers and do I need one?

Basically, RSS readers are the programs used to view your RSS feed subscriptions. In other words, it's a way to clump all your RSS feeds from various websites, like all your favorite artists, into one handy dandy little interface. For example, the web browser I use is Firefox and when I subscribe to a RSS feed, it automatically shows up in my bookmark menu. Most people however, use another browser, so to make this really simple I'll use Google reader as an example, though there are many readers available. I like Google Reader, because there is nothing to download and best of all, it's FREE!

To use Google Reader, you'll need a Google account. Once you've signed in, you can access all the other nifty Google services such as Froogle, GMail. Here is a quick and easy link you can use to sign up at Google to begin using your Google Reader.
Google Account sign up.

Once you have your account, you can begin using your Reader to access all those websites that have feeds which sound interesting to you. By the way, RSS feeds are great for your favorite news sites. Now you can be the one to announce to the rest of the office that Paris was arrested again, or that there's a rumor that Britney was seen coming out of Chuck E Cheese in Boca Raton. Imagine the possiblilities! While you're at it, don't forget to add your favorite artist's sites.

So if you're interested, take a moment to subscribe to my feed by clicking the Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) link at the bottom of this page and you won't miss another post.

...what do you mean Britney's lawyers are on the phone? I didn't start that rumor.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bosque Conservatory 2007 Art Show

Hi Everyone,
In September the Bosque Conservatory in Clifton, Texas, held it's 22nd annual Art Classic Competition. Out of more than 1200 entries, 200 works of art were chosen to be included in this years show. The Juror of Awards for this show was nationally renowned artist George Hallmark.

Before I get too far into talking about the show, I should tell you a little about the art scene in Clifton, Texas and Bosque County. In the middle of a sparsely populated area of Texas at the north edge of the Hill Country is historic Clifton Texas. Considered one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America,” Clifton has attracted such renowned artists as the late James Boren, the late Melvin Warren, Bruce Greene, Martin Grelle, George Hallmark, Tony Eubanks and George Boutwell. Many of those artists have exhibited or taught at the Bosque Conservatory. In this unlikely hard workin' no nonsense town, is the crown jewel of the Arts that is the Bosque Conservatory.

I learned about the show from my good friend Scott Myers who himself was the purchase award winner in years past. He told about the high quality of the entries in the show. The great prize money that is awarded. But mostly he told me about the people who run the Conservatory and their dedication to promoting high quality representational art. He wasn't stretching the truth.


After I had entered seven pieces in the show and had gotten the phone call after the judging that I had won the Jones Purchase Award, one of the hardest things I had to do was to keep the good news to myself for the next two months until it was announced on opening night. Well, I kept it mostly to myself. Four entries are required to be eligible to win the John Steven Jones Purchase Award. This award is given to one piece of art in the show each year, along with a $5,000.00 check. In return, the painting is added to the Conservatory's permanent collection of paintings and sculpture. The award is in memory of Roland and Joyce Jones' son who died in a traffic accident. Their intent is to make the monetary award large enough that high quality artists are attracted to enter the show. And the reason that a minimum of 4 entries are required to be eligible, is to ensure that the painting entered wasn't a one time piece of luck. It ensures that the artist is competent in their chosen medium. You are only allowed to win this award once, and then you become ineligible to win again. Five of my entries were accepted into the show. The two that were rejected were the two that I thought had the best chance of getting in and maybe even winning the Jones Award. It just goes to show that you never can tell what the judge is looking for. Thank goodness for the requirement of the extra pieces. Here are the pieces that were accepted in the show along with the awards they were given.

Promise of Another Summer, John Steve Jones Purchase Award. 20X16, Oil on Linen.

Come Back to Bed, 2nd place, Oil painting. 8X10, oil on Gessoed Panel.

Mending, 1st Place, Pastel/Color Pencil. 16X12,Pastel on Archival Sanded Board.

Spring on Partridge Creek, 20X16, oil on linen

Autumn in Buffalo Valley, 12X16, Oil on Linen Panel.


Ann and I flew into DFW and drove down to Clifton, where we were invited to stay with Art Collectors and Patrons Joyce and Roland Jones, who's hospitality knew no limits. We accepted their invitation greatfully and boy were we glad we did. They opened their home to us as though we were long lost relatives. They fed and housed us. And they showed us their beautiful collection of original art, which would make any museum drool. I had a hard time going to bed, cause I just wanted to drink in all those wonderful paintings and sculptures. The mornings were wonderfully cool with mist hanging over the ranch. Here are the angus cattle slowly making their way across the mist shrouded distant fields.

Our days were filled with sightseeing and lots of picture taking for reference. Here are two of the paintings I did from our time at the ranch.

Bosque Canyon Vista, 11X14 oil on linen panel.

Hill Country Moonlight, 12X16 oil on linen

This show was every artist's dream come true. From the moment we arrived, everyone treated us so special. The show was spectacular, and I was proud just to be included with so many other wonderful artists. There was plenty of time to get aquainted with everyone and to make lots of new friends. Unfortunately, I was so intent on talking, I forgot to take many pictures of the show space and people mingling. Most of the photos I got that night, were given to me by friends. Here are some of the photos I have.

Joyce and Roland's grandkids and their significant others came down for the show.

...now where is that business card........

...oh, here it is!! Here I am networking and getting to know some of the guests.

Gregory Beck, Me and Jeff Gottfried. These guys both won awards in the Sculpture Category. Gregory took Second while Jeff got First Place and the Cap Award. Their work was so very different, but both are incredibly gifted. I hate saying gifted, cause it sounds like there is no work involved and it just comes naturally. Gifted artists tell me, there is very little good work that comes easily.

Here are some of the award winners:

Mike Evans, Watercolor First Place.

The very talented painter Mike Irvin, accepting the Peoples Choice Award.

Cindy Long accepting her award for her Drawing category First Place winner.
She is a magician with the pencil.

I can't remember the last time I smiled so much.

A nice surprise....

....I had no idea that I had received awards other than the purchase award. Everyone involved with the show decided to keep that to themselves. I didn't have a clue and almost passed out as I walked around. Joyce had a great time watching as I made the award discoveries.

The reason this whole dream night was possible for me are all standing next to me. Scott and Kathi Myers are on the far left. Scott is a great painter and a Jones winner himself. I would never ever have heard about this show, if it hadn't been for him. Thank you for being so open and supportive, not to mention taking the time to drive all the way down from Granbury to attend the show. And, next to me, the woman who means the world to me, my wife Ann.

Our friends, hosts, and very generous patrons, Roland and Joyce Jones.

Two of my very favorite things in the world, relaxing and talking art. The morning after a very hectic show opening.

Thanks for indulging me in this chance to relive a very important night in my life. My sincerest thanks go out to Joyce and Roland Jones, George Hallmark, the talented artists and patrons who showed up and were so supportive of the work. And of course, thanks to everyone who volunteers their time and opens their pocketbooks to make the Bosque Conservatory a reality. Because of your support of representational art, you help to make the world a better and more beautiful place to live in.

Happy Painting, Steve