Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pastel Artists on the Web

This blog will review the web presence of artists who use pastel as their main medium of expression. The artists will be probably professional artists - they will certainly be artists whose work has formed a strong impression on me, whether in subject, style or execution. None will be ho-hum or boring. As the blog progresses the list of links to pastel artists will expand and will I hope become a guide to the greatest artists working in pastel who make their work available to see and appreciate on the web.

The Pastel Journal, Issue no. 65, had a timely piece by Maggie Price on artists’ websites. I have been looking at websites devised by and for artists in pastel since they first began to emerge, and they have certainly increased in numbers and scope in recent years. A website’s main raison d’être is of course to showcase the artist’s work, and hopefully to lead to sales or commissions – either directly through the site, or via links to a gallery. (A recent trend by some European artists in particular is to post their images on Flickr, or YouTube, or to sell their paintings on eBay. Jean-Francois Le Saint is one such.

My particular interest as a practising pastellist is to learn from these websites – not just via tutorials or demonstrations, but also from the images themselves. Maggie Price rightly points out that small images should be linked to enlargements. This is where the difficulties begin. Some websites open the enlargement by navigating away from the artist’s gallery page. This is irritating, but one can get around it by right clicking to open link in new tab or page. What is even more irritating is the trend for artists to load an Adobe Flash video slideshow. Not everyone has the time to wait for this; and one has to navigate through it serially, something that often prevents re-finding a particular image with any ease. And of course one cannot right click and save the image.
Which leads to the biggest issue – why are some artists so afraid of letting an image be downloaded? I often want to study a painting off line, or view a body of an artist’s work. Those artists that disable the right click, usually with a copyright message, are kidding themselves. Anyone with some knowledge of HTML (more and more of us) can click on “view source” and find the appropriate tab to bring the image up on its own page. But even simpler than that is the use of the PrtSc button to save the screen into the Clipboard and Edit, Paste as new image into Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. And if all else fails, take a photograph of the screen!
Artists must realise that if their work is on line, it can be copied. So what! The definition is never good enough to print, and thereby cannot be used by someone else. There are artists now on line who are savvy enough both in painting and in technology to realise this. A watermark, if you must, in one corner should be all that’s required. Sandy Byers is a case in point. She retired from the software industry in 2002 to paint full time. Her website is exemplary, with a gallery, decent sized images, a blog, demos with a link to further demos on YouTube – and no block on downloads, just a discreet watermark on the image. To see what I mean, check out her website and her YouTube uploads. Daniel E. Greene doesn't block downloads. Nor does Margaret Glass. I rest my case.
I will refrain out of charity from naming the truly irritating sites. You know who you are!

This is the sort of layout I have in mind for each website. Each item can be expanded as required, and of course I reserve the right to comment at length if I wish. I understand that all images are copyright of the artist but as I am providing a commentary and link to the website I consider an image to a legitimate component of a site review.

Bless her little heart 14x11 inches Name: Sandy Byers AFC NPS PSWC
Bio:Sandy Byers was born in Monterey, California in 1956.
At thirteen, Byers' parents enrolled her in private oil painting lessons. Her style, from the first, was of a realistic nature and it is what she is still known for today. As a young adult, Byers pursued a career in the software industry and continued painting as time allowed.
Byers’ retirement from the software industry in 2002 enabled her to pursue a full-time art career. She now lives on picturesque Whidbey Island, in Washington State, with her husband and their two cats. Her children are married and live in nearby Oregon.
Publications (books written): None.
Media: Pastel.
Subjects: Animals, Cats, Figures, Land and Seas, Floral.
Style: Representational.
Navigation: Clear from main page.
Gallery: by subject; also current available work.
Image view: Small thumbnails; click to enlarge on new page – may also include image of detail; can download up to 724x817 471 KB; must navigate back to gallery or use browser back button.
Demos: Yes – videos on YouTube:
Blog: Yes.
Ebay: Yes, for charity.

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