Marco- an Orange, Yellow Tabby Cat at Clowder House, Watercolor on Yupo

This painting started out with about 3 different photographs of 3 different cats.  Marco is sort of yellow-orange tabby with blue eyes who lives at Clowder House in St. Louis waiting to be adopted by his forever family.

Here is his photo.

 And here is the painting with a detail image.

After it was all said and done, I'm not so sure that I captured his likeness very well.  Who I captured I am not sure.  Some other orange tabby cat.   Felix?  Max?  Guido?  Perhaps.

It's 5 x 7 inches, Varnished Watercolor on Yupo board.  

I find it much more difficult to paint eyes when they are only about a 1/4 inch wide and at this scale.  I wiped these out twice, and almost did a third time, but decided to wait till this morning to see what it looked like.   I liked them a little better, so I've left them.  

My favorite part of this painting?  I think it's the little splashes of color that define his mouth and chin area.


Latte- A Portrait of a Siamese, Calico Cat

Karen Weidert, an online artist friend of mine, volunteers at Clowder House Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri. It's a Cat House. Seriously.

It's where homeless cats can live while they search for their forever home.

Karen posted some photos on her Facebook page, and I was blown away by a photo of a little Siamese- Calico Mix (?) cat named Latte. And I just had to paint her. Here's a link to her Photo Album. Apparently Ms. Latte is quite the camera hog- if you notice, about half the photos are of her.

I painted Latte's portrait last evening. It's a small painting, 5 x 7 inches. Varnished Watercolor on Yupo.

Here's a detail view of her face.

As far as I know, Latte is still looking for her forever home if you happen to know anyone who in interested.


Toby and Daisy

Toby and Daisy, a long haired dachshund and a shih tzu were in for their puppy vaccinations yesterday.  Both are about 10-11 weeks old.  I was unable to get a still photo of Daisy- you'll have to see her in the video.

I only got 1 of Toby, out of several tries, haha. 


Better Product Photos Equals Better Online Sales

I decided to write this post after a few emails with a jewelry artist today, who just insisted that there is no way that she can photograph her jewelry. Sending items to a professional is fine. They know their stuff. They have really nice cameras. But sometimes you need a photo quickly for a new product design, a blog post, a banner, or your facebook page. And one needs to learn to shoot these themselves. Nothing is sadder than a sad looking page with no photos.

No one pops out of the womb taking great photos. There is a little trial and error involved. And it's taken me awhile to get better at it, as well.

First, a fancy camera is nice. But not necessary. I keep a little point and shoot digital camera around the office and that is what I use. I do have a 35 mm SLR camera, not digital, but I rarely drag it out.
Mine is a Vivitar. 8 mb. I think it cost somewhere between $100 and $200. The little videos that I post are usually shot with it as well.

What is necessary is reading the manual and learning some of the different functions. If I am shooting product photos, I usually set the camera on a tripod. Either a regular tripod or a little tabletop tripod. And I usually use the timer with the tripod, as I drink too much coffee to not be all shakey, haha.

Up until recently I shot everything on Automatic, Auto, or the A setting. That should be the perfect photo, right? WRONG! And let me show you why. This photo below was shot on the A setting. The flourescent light in the ceiling is on as well.

What's that? Not bad you say? Can you take a break and go outside for recess? Keep reading. . . .

This next photo was shot on the P setting. The Program Setting. This allows one to change the white balance to flourescent light. Which is what is overhead on both of these photos. Everything else was the same, the tripod, etc.

See the difference just by changing the white balance to flourescent lighting? There is also an outdoor setting, and a tungsten setting.

The next trick I learned almost by accident. I was not happy with my photos and was playing with the settings. And I noticed that the P setting took nice photos, when in a darkened room, with flouresent lighting coming from the room next door. Here's a photo looking into the darkened exam room with the flowers on the exam table.

And here is what that photo looks like- with the white balance set for flourescents and in the darkened room.

Getting better, huh? Can you see how much more dramatic this photo is than the first two above?
This was the photo before I edited it just a tad in photoshop. If you don't have photoshop, you can use photoshop elements, iphoto, picasa, gimp, or even picnik (flickr). I adjusted the levels a little, and upped the brightness and contrast just a touch. The final photo is below.

Want to see them side be side for comparison? See how just a little adjustment makes a better photo? It pops a little more. You can click on the images, any of them, and they should enlarge a bit.

So, that's my little photo lesson on some basic things to try with your camera. Now, apply it to your product photos. I think you'll be surprised.

Don't forget to try the macro setting if you are shooting up close, or small things, like jewelry. Also read about the aperature settings if you like those photos where part of an object is in focus and part is not. I'll show you some examples of that in an upcoming blog post soon.

So study that manual and try different settings, different lighting situations. Some people like taking photos outside, or with natural light coming through a window or doorway. As long as you get clear photos that best show your items, how you get there isn't so important. Good photos are critical to selling items online as your customers can't see items in person. Average or below average photos will get you below average sales.

Happy Photo Opportunities.


Bo- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Hello. Y'all remember Bo. He was in today for his last puppy vaccination so it might be awhile before we see him again.  He's up to about 9 lbs.   He's such a quiet dog.  He rarely barks according to his owner.

What's that saying, "All Good Children should be Seen, and not Heard." ?

Bo is a good child then.


Because he isn't jumping around, carrying on like Yuma and Echo (love those two),  he is just so toy-like.   His family doesn't have other dogs or cats, and he rarely spends time outside.   He's around humans all the time,  I wonder if that contributes to his quietness.    Ever had a dog that didn't act like a dog?

Either way, quiet or loud, he's too cute.


A little Pit Bull Nugget

Y'all remember Pac from last February. Short for TuPac.
You first saw him here in this post.

Well, Mr. Pac is now a Daddy. That's right.    Meet Pete Pac Jr. 

 6 weeks old. He came in yesterday, to get checked out. He's really anemic, probably worms from his mom. 7 litter mates have died and he's the only 1 remaining. (and before you say or think anything, Pac owner doesn't own the Mom- he rescued this little guy when the others started fading away, and has been bottle feeding him, thinking that might have been a contributing factor)

He should be okay if we can get rid of the worms and his blood levels rise back to normal. See how pale his gums are.

Isn't  he cute?  You just want to squeeze him.



Mabel- Absolutely No Idea. Heinz 57?

This is Mabel. We have no idea how old she is, as she was found wandering on a lonesome dirt road last night.

We also have no IDER about what breed or breeds she might be mixed from/with. Chihuahua? Her face looks a little like King Charles Spaniel. Her fur reminds me of a Corgi.

She weighs about 5 lbs. She probably is somewhere between 6-12 weeks old. Feet don't seem to be very large. She has sort of curly fur on her back as you can see from the photo.

She might be up for adoption. The couple that found her aren't sure if they are keeping here, assuming she got dumped. Or if they will try to find her a home, or put her up for adoption. Her bark is more chihuahua than beagle. She has a bit of a cherry eye on the left side. That is common in some breeds such as beagles. If the cherry eye doesn't correct itself, it's a simple fix with a laser by lasering off the excessive tissue.


Yuma and Echo- Pit Bull Puppies

This photo and video was them 3 weeks ago. You might have seen the video on Facebook as I don't see a blog post on the day they were here.

And here they are today.

Yuma and Echo returned today for their second puppy vaccinations. They were wormy 3 weeks ago- really, really wormy- so they are looking much better now.

Their Mom says they are about to wear her out, haha. She said that she has to turn out all the lights at night to stop the wrastlin' and get them to go to sleep.

They were both barking and carrying on before we did their vaccination in the waiting room. I tried to get them to do it again before they left, and on camera.

Too cute. And they still have puppy breath. Their Mom thinks it's a little weird, that I enamored with puppy breath. That isn't crazy is it? huh? Say it ain't so. Tell me it's normal in the comments section.


FaveCrafts Radio

If you are around in about an hour, I am on blog talk radio for about 10 minutes at 7 pm EST at FaveCrafts Radio. Did I mention it was LIVE? *breathe, breathe, breathe*

I am also doing a doing a coupon code on Artfire for 20% off for listeners. If you can't make it, not to worry, the show is taped, and the coupon code is good until next Saturday.

I am nervous. I need a cigarette.

and I don't even smoke.


Buddy- a German Shepherd Husky Mix

This is Buddy. He came in for his first puppy vaccinations today. He's 7 weeks old. It's going to be interesting to see what he looks like when he grows up. Now, you can see both sides of his family gene pool.

The photo is a tad blurry. You can blame Buddy for that. It's not my excessively caffeinated photo taking skillz.

Here a short video of him.


Champ- (cue the musical theme to Rocky here)

Here's Champ.

He's a 6-8 week old pit bull puppy in for his vaccinations today. The photos below are blurry, but notice the bowing of his front feet. Sometimes with puppies, you see one of the bones in their forearm grow a little faster than the other, they are two bones there remember. One sometimes will grow a little faster causing some bowing of their foot. Usually they grow out of it and it straightens up. Unless there is some type of injury to the growth plate.

Last time, a Poltergeist got in my post and emailed out like 5 versions of the post. Not sure why, but in case it had something to do with that video, I am embedding this one from youtube. Here's Champ having a little treat.


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