It’s Here Again!

Yes, it is here again, tax time that is.  Here in the United States, most everyone is required by law to file a federal income tax return for the previous year with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which must be postmarked by midnight, April 15 every year.  You may also be responsible for State Income Tax as well, and this varies from state to state.  Yes, I said most, as there are some exemptions, and you can take a survey on the IRS website by clicking on the link here.

This always leads to long lines at the post offices as people have put off filing, and again, it needs to be postmarked by midnight, April 15.  However, this year the filing date has been extended to midnight April 18 so you have a couple of extra days!  Efile.com has a table of filing dates which you can view by clicking here.  For more in depth information on State Income Tax, you will need to visit the website of your state’s government offices or contact an Income Tax specialist in your area.  Art, taxes

Unsubscribe

unsubscribe

One of my New Years resolutions was to simplify more.  Simplify not only my life in general, but also my MAW (Martindale Artworks) business.  I have three email accounts, one for my website, one that I had from a previous version of the MAW website, and my personal account.  After the first of the year, I sat down and started cleaning up emails and the first two accounts went rather quickly.  However, the personal account has been overwhelmingly inundated in the past year with an unbelievable amount of junk.  The account is arranged with Primary, Social, and Promotional tabs, and I knew that I had been strictly dealing with the emails that seemed important, and letting the rest go.  “I will get to them later”, I kept telling myself.  Therefore, I had over 2100 emails in the one account!  Yikes!  So I set out to start hitting the delete button.

Well, not so fast.  I was curious to know where all this stuff was coming from.  The Primary tab was pretty much items that I had saved for information, or pertained to something that was in progress, so that tab was good.  Social had the least, and is basically blogs I follow, Facebook notifications, etc. and I whittled that one down pretty quickly.  Now for the Promotions tab.  They were literally from everywhere.  Places like Nashville Paw Magazine, Professional Artists’ Magazine, Hobby Lobby, etc, were fine.  The rest I wanted to know how I made their list.  Some were because I ha signed a petition, contacted a congressman, bought or inquired about something and one of their affiliates was sending me an offer.  Others were much more vague, loosely tied to some entity I was familiar with, while a few were just randomly sent to me.

This REALLY irritates me for a couple of reasons:  first, it loads up everyone’s email accounts with things we aren’t even interested in.  There were actually a couple of good blogs in the mix, but I unsubscribed for the simple fact that they never asked me to sign up.   Second, it makes legitimate businesses that send out legitimate newsletters look bad.  I send out a MAW newsletter once a month (on average) and I DO NOT give, sell, lease, rent or buy email addresses.  I just don’t play that game.  I want people to sign up because they like my work, I mean I truly have enough to do without all that. Furthermore, I have run into people at shows that are leery of signing up for an art newsletter, afraid that they will be bombarded with email.  I actually heard an art marketing coach tell her followers to send at least one lengthy email every other month, and 2-3 mini e-blasts per month.  Seriously???  Once a month is plenty, and maybe a quick one line reminder if there is something special going on.

Third, it is against the CAN-SPAM ACT (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003).  This is a Federal law that actually has procedures businesses must follow regarding building a mailing list and using email for marketing.  Just adding a person at random is not one of them.  Prospective recipients must opt in by signing up to receive email from a business, or tell them to be put on a list.  The entity may add them to a list as long as they send that individual a notice stating they have been added but are free to unsubscribe at any time.  You can read more about the CAN-SPAM ACT by clicking here.  There are also guidelines to follow if you feel you are being sent unsolicited email or have tried to unsubscribe and it didn’t appear to go through.

Understandably every business is trying to build their mailing lists.  But blatantly adding addresses is not the answer.  If you are tired of the junk, just hit ‘unsubscribe’.  I ended up unsubscribing and deleting an overwhelming amount of email, and it is a huge relief.  Now I can actually concentrate on and enjoy the stuff that is truly important to me such as newsletters from businesses and artists I am interested in.  Whats more, the more clicks and opens a newsletter receives the better.  Remember, you can visit my website to ‘opt in’ at any time!  God bless!

Thankful

autumn-time

Yes, I am rather late with this post, but Thanksgiving (even though it was last week) is a season, in my opinion, not just one day, that we should be thankful.  I have been busy with a few commissions for Christmas, and have been fighting what I thought was allergy/sinus issues for over a week.  However, on Thanksgiving night, a severe cold hit and needless to say my weekend has strictly been some much needed rest and hot tea with numerous herbal remedies.  Finally on the mend now, so I thought I might write a post on what I am grateful for.

I am always grateful for the love and support of my family and friends, who are my constant cheerleaders.  They really help out when I need it, doing everything from helping to set up at shows, assisting when I just need an extra hand, to critiquing my work.  I asked my brother one time what he thought of a sketch I had done for a watercolor painting of a cutting horse and cow.  I loved his honesty when he stated, “Why is that horse chasing a deer?”  Made me re-examine my sketch and yes, I erased the cow and started over.

I am also thankful for my clients, who not only help support my artistic habit, but also have become good friends, even if over long distances.  I guess I am thankful too for technology, as it has opened up a way to connect with clients farther away, even overseas.  It is an awesome experience.  My clients also push me in a sense that I learn something new in each piece of artwork I create, and to them I am grateful for the opportunity.

Not only am I thankful for the support my clients give, but also for the stories I am privileged to have them share with me.  One client had me do a portrait of her husband’s beloved mixed breed dog, a true Heinz 57 as we like to call them.  She related to me a story that happened shortly after they had gotten Flint, who used to make a warfle like noise.

flint-warfle-i
Flint Warfle I

They were at a dinner with their priest and other parishioners when someone asked one of the couples in attendance how the season had gone with their registered show dogs.  With great flair and exuberance, they elaborated the wonderful show season the dogs had that year, inserting their registered names at every chance.  The priest then asked my clients how it was going with their new dog.  He is a great dog, they replied, not really wanting to elaborate that he was a mixed breed.  Then the owners of the show dogs asked what breed he was, and what was his name?  My client’s husband who has a wonderful love for humor, stated that he was a one of a kind Czechoslovakian Sport Spaniel, (no, there is no such breed) and his name was Flint Warfle I.  The show dog owners were quite impressed, as was the priest.  For Christmas that year, the priest gave them a blank photo album.  On the cover he had inscribed, “The Complete History of The Czechoslovakian Sport Spaniel”.

I also loved the story this fall from a man who collects spoons.  I had my booth set up at the Art On The Fly Fest in Fly, Tennessee, and a gentleman and his wife came in to look around.  He noticed my painted spoons and asked if I had any that said ‘Oneida’ on them.  I knew I had at one time, but I wasn’t sure if they had sold or not.  He started to browse through them and immediately came upon three miniature spoons and said “Yes, these are Oneida”.

 

Upon looking at the backs, they were stamped ‘Oneida’ and he said he would take them.  He was happy that they said ‘Love, Joy, and Peace’ in a Christmas theme as they were going on his “Spoons” themed Christmas tree.  He said he had worked 34 years at the Oneida Silverware company in New York, and every chance he got he would purchase Oneida spoons that an artist had worked on.  He was so happy to get them, and I was honored to have them placed on his tree!

I am also thankful for the people who look at my art and are appreciative of it, even if they aren’t able to purchase anything.  My last show this fall a young woman and her friend entered my booth to browse.  She was really impressed with my work and we chatted about the wonderful weather we were having so late in October.  I mentioned I liked her shirt, and she replied that she had purchased it at a store on the base she was stationed at.  Wow, she really didn’t look much out of high school, I thought, but she had done a tour and was leaving out again the following week and wanted to go to college when she returned.  I am thankful for her service  even more than her appreciation of my art.  God bless Katelynn!

Finally, I am thankful to the almighty God Who gave me what talent I have, and am honored to do it for His glory.  Truly, I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.  I pray you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving season, and hope you have a blessed week ahead!

A Little Confusion…

credit cards, PayPal, Square
image copyright Martindale Artworks

I am sure by now if you are here in the United States you have probably heard about the new credit cards called chip cards that everyone was supposed to have by now.  And most folks that I have talked to don’t.  And, today was the deadline to have them.  And, many retailers are not even set up for them anyway, another deadline not met.  Sounds like a mess, especially if you are a small business trying to figure out how this might apply to you.  So, what’s a small business to do?  Neither deadline has been met, but don’t panic, it will work itself out.

I will try to give you some information to the best that I understand it.  First, today, October 1, 2015, was the deadline for all merchants, large and small, to have switched over whatever mechanism they use to accept credit cards to a new chip card reader (EMV or contactless are a few of the names), and, for the new chip cards to be in the hands of consumers.  The credit card companies are getting the cards out, which will help in credit card fraud.  Even if you have a non-chip card, you can still check out on one of the new devices, so don’t worry if you haven’t received your new card yet.

Second, the bigger issue comes down to the card readers.  Many large retailers are still working on getting retooled, so to speak, (this is not an inexpensive endeavor by any means, mind you) and you will be able to use your cards (both new and old) just like before.

The October 1 deadline meant that if you are a business (large or small) and kept the old card readers, if there was a problem (stolen card, etc.) with a purchase, the business would be held liable instead of the credit card company or consumer.  If you did purchase a new reader, then you wouldn’t see any change in your policy rules.  Many small businesses have not changed over yet either, but really need to look into doing so, which is where the following information may be of some help.

If you are a small business and you accept PayPal, Square, or any other payment methods, they are included in this transition as well.  I am concentrating on mainly mobile POS (point of sale) and both PayPal and Square offer new readers , called EMV and contactless, but they are more sophisticated than the old magnetic stripe swipe readers and are not free (at least up front anyway).  PayPal offers one for $149 with a $100 credit with $3000 worth of transactions in the first three months, so their reader is $49.  Square offers an EMV reader for $49 with a $49 reimbursement of processing fees within the first three months, making it free in the end. Even if you don’t rack up enough sales to total the reimbursement amount, just knowing you are not liable for purchases with stolen cards is worth quite a bit in and of itself.

Here are comparisons I found on PayPal’s website regarding magnetic stripe (Mobile Card Reader) vs. chip card readers:

Mobile Card Reader

  • Accept credit and debit mag stripe payments
  • For businesses with a known customer base or infrequent or low dollar transactions
  • No setup cost
  • Connects to your phone or tablet via auxiliary jack

Chip Card Reader
• Accepts payments with mag stripe, Chip Card, NFC, or Apple Pay
• Better protection against liability for fraudulent transactions
• For businesses with many one-time customers or a higher exposure to fraudulent             transactions
• Connects to your device’s Here app securely via Bluetooth

All of that being said, do not take my word for it, as it would definitely pay for you to do some homework and see what scenario will benefit you and your business the most.  I hope this has helped you in some way, and maybe has cleared the air a bit on this issue.  As always, I would appreciate any

thoughts, concerns or corrections you might have on this!  Hope you are successful with your business and have a blessed day and please share if you know anyone who might benefit from it.  Thanks!

The information presented in this article is not intended in any way to be legal and binding advice but is merely intended to present information as I see it and make the reader aware of issues at this time.

Studio Makeover! Let There Be Light!

The studio at our old house began in the sun-room, then flowed over into the garage, and finally into the big barn.  So when we purchased our new home a little over a year ago, one of our goals was to make the bonus room over the garage my art studio.

Studio, art, makeover
North end of studio after moving in.
studio, makeover, art
East end of studio

I finally got everything set up and organized, but after working for a few days I quickly realized the lighting was absolutely horrible.  Yes, the large window allowed for an abundance of north light, which is most desirable if you are in the northern hemisphere such as we are.  It was actually perfect light for working on my pastel pet portraits as the drafting table/easel was in the corner by the window.  However, if I was working on the benches, the window cast huge shadows on one side and the light from the ceiling fan was almost useless.  Small candelabra incandescent bulbs that did not have enough lumens for reading let alone doing artwork.

Working in the studio prior to new lighting.
Working in the studio prior to new lighting.

The photo above shows me working in my studio with the original lighting.  You can see how dark it is on the side opposite the window, and what light is there makes things more yellow, which can throw your colors off completely.  I have worked in improper light quite a bit, so I am used to adjusting for it.  I decided over the winter to research the issue.  I was fortunate to find a blog post by Will Kemp, a wonderful artist and instructor in the UK.  In his post about studio lighting, Will describes in detail the ins and outs of what kind of lighting you need, what to look for in the ratings and measurements found on the packages, etc.  I decided to see if I could find something that would work and came up with track lighting using spot light bases.  I also found the perfect daylight range in LED and CFL bulbs.

studio, art, makeover
Track with daylight range bulbs in place.
Studio with proper lighting.  Notice the cooler and brighter affect.
Studio with proper lighting. Notice the cooler and brighter affect.

I was completely amazed and elated at the transformation!  I can actually see what I am doing!  The room is so much more friendly to work in, and it should mean better production times too.  Although the bulbs are a bit pricey compared to incandescent, it was much less expensive than I thought it would be, and the bulbs use less energy and should last for a very long time.  Below is a photo of a project I worked on after installing the new lighting.

After installing the new lighting- notice how much brighter and clearer the colors are.
After installing the new lighting- notice how much brighter and clearer the colors are.

Hats off to you Mr. Kemp!  I am glad I stumbled across your article.  If you would like to read Will’s post about proper studio lighting,  you may do so by clicking here.  I wish you every success in finding just the right light for your work, and happy painting!

How to Add a © Copyright Notice to Your Images for Posting Online

Copyright SymbolYou’ve done the work, now you want to share your art with the world.  Whether you are posting your work on your website, blog, Facebook, Pinterest, etc., there are a couple of things you might want to do before you post.  Artwork such as paintings and photography can easily be stolen if you post a large file, and a copyright notice doesn’t hurt either.

First, you will need a photo editing software program such as Photoshop Elements ($) or GIMP (free).  There are others that are free downloads as well, but I have not researched them to tell you which ones.  I use Photoshop Elements, so I will explain what I do, but I understand they are similar.

Open the photo you wish to post in Editor, and be sure to crop the image to your liking.  Next, I like to add a copyright notice.  This should not take away from the image, but should be legible.  Add a text box and select an appropriate font and font size.  To add the © symbol, hold the ‘Alt’ key down and press the numbers ‘0169’ then release the alt key.  This should place it in your line of text, then you can add your name, or studio name.  Only add this symbol if the work  (i.e. photo, painting, etc.) is yours!  (Copyright is a big deal, and I will write about that at a later time). Some fonts do not have the symbol in their collection, so you might have to use a different font for that character.  Position your text where you feel it is noticeable but does not detract from the image.  It can be made more subtle by changing the font color to ‘blend’ slightly with the area of the photo you wish to place it.

The next issue is the image size.  In the top tool bar click on ‘Image’.  In the drop down menu click ‘Resize’ which will give another menu, where you should click on ‘Image size’.  This will open up a dialog box that shows the dimensions for pixels, inches, and image resolution.  A good rule of thumb is to make the image so it is no more than 600 pixels on the longest side, or 8-10″ on the longest side.  Once you have changed the measurements, you will also need to change the resolution.  72dpi is standard for posting on the web, as this allows for a good visual, but it should give a poor print out if someone were to try to copy it.  Click on ‘Ok’ to set the changes.

Finally, before you close the image out, make sure you do a ‘Save As’ so your newly transformed image is a copy and you retain the original with the original size intact.  I like to title mine like this:  ‘Horse painting, pastel-Denny Martindale, Martindale Artworks’.  This will aid in your photo being found if someone types in the title or your name.  Be sure to save it as a jpeg to minimize the kilobyte size as well.  You will also see a box appear titled Jpeg Options, and it is asking what quality you wish to save the image at.  I usually choose 7-10.   At this point, I like to close the image and check the final kb size.  For fast loading photos, try to keep them below 100-110 kb.  If it is still too large, you can go back and adjust the size and or the pixels.

Now you are ready to post your photo safely to the web.  Remember, if they really want to steal it, there are some that will attempt it anyway, but this will definitely slow them down and make it much more difficult to do.  I will try to share about adding metadata to your images, copyright, and more at a later time.

I hope this has helped you in your learning.  Feel free to leave a comment or question and I hope you have a blessed day!

Made to Create

As artists, musicians and other creatives, we often question ourselves and our abilities.  We listen to the voice of the one who is against us and after a while we begin to believe the lie:  “What difference does my art really make?”  I create it, then what?  Even if it sells, it doesn’t change anything.  That is where as creatives and believers we are wrong.  Dead wrong.

Last month along with 20 to 30 other artists, I attended the ‘Made To Create’ workshop given by Deborah Gall of Abide Studio Ministries and hosted by Grace Chapel in Franklin, TN.  It was a wonderful time of worship and learning, all while giving glory to God the Father.

Deborah is completely in touch with God and listening to and doing His word.  She is passionate about reinforcing to the creative person the fact that we as artists were made to create, its in our genes and we are to go about it with purpose, passion, and as artistic warriors.

Made to Create, Denny Martindale,
One of the exercises at the Made to Create workshop

Taking us through a series of exercises over the course of the day, Deborah revealed how the scriptures not only give affirmation to craftsmen, but also command us to use the artistic gifts the Creator has given us to further His kingdom.  She offered scriptures, book references, as well as break out sessions for artists to worship and create in whatever form they desired.  Many painted, some played instruments and/or sang, while still others wrote poetry or in their journals, while another even danced.

Made to Create, Denny Martindale
One of the breakout sessions of free artistic worship

By the end of the day, each of us was filled with the Holy Spirit and a renewed sense of purpose for our art and life itself,.  We were deemed ‘artistic warriors’, and charged with Deborah’s mantra, “If you want to change a culture, change it’s art”.  Sometimes just hearing truth to the fact we are on the right path helps us to take the first steps to making change happen.  Thank you Deborah!