Branchflower's Blog About Art and Websites

3 Fun Tips to Make Your Blog Better

Blogging is coming of age, and the internet is full of great resources that can help you develop a blog that people want to read.  This post will help you identify and save those resources so you can refer back to them.

Open a second “home page” beside this page so you can do a little internet sleuthing.

1.  If you don’t have a Bookmark folder for “Blogging Tips,” make one now.  Right now.  Into that folder put www.problogger.net/blog/  and  www.dailyblogtips.com  .   Both sites are written by professional bloggers, and feature articles that inform you about good blogging practices.  They are not about art:  They are only about blogging.  Read the articles that interest you, and take time to notice titles because titles capture or lose readers.  Google “blog writing tips” for more resources.  Great bloggers link to other great bloggers, so follow some of their links for sites to add to your new “Blogging Tips” folder.

2.  Set up another Bookmark folder.  Call this one “Favorite Art Blogs.”  Put into this folder art blogs that you find compelling.  You will probably save art blogs for different reasons:  Some are informative, others are inspiring or beautiful.  Some art blogs market the art while others don’t.  Collect about a dozen, (more, if you like) keep them weeded as you find better blogs, and ask yourself why you like each of them.

3.  Have a place for notes.  I keep a 6x9” spiral bound notebook by my computer for notes about my blog and my newsletter, The Palette Keeper.  Using little stick-on dividers, the blog section is divided like this:

  • Blog do’s—things I deem important to good blogging.
  • Blog don’ts—things that would probably lose readers.
  • Topics to write about—this is important!  If you don’t maintain a list of things to blog about, your brain will turn to mush just when you really need to remind the world you exist.
  • Notes—odds and ends about blogging that don’t fit elsewhere.

Check your stats a day or two after you post on your blog.  Did you get a bump?  If so, you have readers!  Over time, your stats will reveal which of your posts are most popular, and you can use that to develop a subject theme for your blog.

I did say “Fun tips” in the title of this article.  You should enjoy your blog, however much or little you write for it.  Likewise, enjoy learning how to make it better.  It helps if you like to write, but even if just thinking about writing makes your brain cramp you can still publish an interesting blog—just keep it short and to the point.  So, how is your blog doing?

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Alla Prima Workshop


Yvonne at Fire and Earth Studio, photo by Thomas Kitts

Let me start by saying there was no fluff in Thomas Jefferson Kitts workshop.  Painting alla prima, we completed five studies in three days.   Kitts challenged us to detect the subtleties of value, hue and chroma.  He introduced several of the students to “notan”, a concept of value-massing, and gave us a lesson on the Gamblin color system, a variation on Munsell's system.

We painted still lifes from sumptuous arrangements of fresh fruit and flowers.  The play of light and shadow through the arrangements gave us opportunities to apply what we learned about value-massing.  On the last day, Kitts did a demo painting, then we painted from a model, separating values and color temperature on pale skin.

Kitts, a Portland Oregon artist, ocassionally consults with Gamblin Artist's Oil Colors .  Each student got a goodie bag of Gambin products, including an informative DVD on color mixing theory.  Following the workshop, I spent a morning reading Gamblin's website--well worth the time.  After I photograph my workshop paintings, I'll give more detail about what we covered in class.

One tip:  I usually wear smooth-soled SAS shoes.  But by the end of the first day, my feet were tired and freezing (this is February in Portland on a concrete floor.)  For the rest of the workshop I wore wool sox and hiking shoes with heavy tread.  The big spaces in the tread seem to keep shoes from absorbing cold from the floor, while the wool sox provided cushion, warmth, and kept my feet drier.  Warm feet at winter workshops are happy feet.

If you are looking for a painting workshop in Portland, Oregon, I heartily recommend Kitts.  Plan on working hard, learning a lot, and taking breaks and lunch on the fly--and finishing invigorated. See his paintings and find his workshops at www.thomaskitts.com

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