Monday, April 27, 2009

Bulldog Painting in Progress

This is my bulldog painting in progress. It completely illustrates how I felt last week. :) Tentatively titled "Exhausted". I'm beginning work on his nose and mouth area, which will be quite fun with that expression he has!

Introducing RealCatsWearPink.Com

So it's quite a bit different than my original paintings. But it's commercial. Easy. And appeals to the masses. I've been sitting on this line of work and putting it off for a long time. This is my new project, released now to specifically counteract a recent hairball or two that's been tossed my way. Here's a little blip from the website:

Sometimes life throws you a hairball or two. It's overwhelming, incomprehensible, maddening, and just plain frustrating. Grab a dose of the pink stuff - it's time to feel all better. Don't let your feelings stay stuffed in a closet anymore - release them and let the world know how you feel with boldness, passion, style and originality!

State your mind • Be real • Be pink.

Welcome to Real Cats Wear Pink, the online merchandise shop for RealCatsWearPink.Com, where our powerful pink cat with an attitude as big as her hair gets real with you, offering humor, wit, and sayin' it like it is philosophies on a wide variety of fun products, from t-shirts to sweats, cards, clocks, magnets, framed art, mousepads, coffee mugs, and so much more!

So when I'm not working on fine art ~~> you'll find me making designs for Real Cats Wear Pink. :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009 where does one go from here?

I just had a sale at Cafepress. One of my greeting cards sold. But not through my shop - the sale came from the marketplace. Today - that's not a big deal. Today I earned $2.00. A little over a month from now, however, on the sale of that same card with my art, I will have only earned 29 cents. And I have no control over that.

So where does one go from here? $2.00 would buy a loaf of bread or maybe a 1/2 gallon of milk for my children. It might even buy a small bag of cat food should it be on sale. And it could almost buy a gallon of gas. Yeah, that $2.00 could actually sustain my family or animals for a day or so. But 29 cents? Welcome to Walmart. I could stop in at the entrance and buy a gumball. Or are gumballs 50 cents now? Nah...better just skip the's bad for the teeth and after too many of them, I'd be in the dentist's office. I can see it now - "Can you fix my cavity for 29 cents?" as I dig in my pocket for a quarter and four pennies.

Obviously it's time to look for a new job. Or rather not a new "job", but new ways to market and sell my artwork in order that I can buy bread or milk instead of gumballs.

This is where the big D word comes in. No, not d-i-v-o-r-c-e. DIVERSIFY.

Diversify in placing my work in other locations, but also diversify in creating a line of artistic expression which I feel comfortable at licensing for 10%. Which means, this puts a dent in my original painting plans while I prepare more commercial work that is lower-end, to suit the lower-end price point Cafepress wants to pay. The commercial is's's funny...and it doesn't take near as much time as my original art --> it's the kind of work I'll be happy to license for only 10% due to the "less time" factor.

So that's what I'm off to do. I've got a lot of work to do now to make up this difference, as I'm going to have to create a ton of designs in this new line in order to earn anything near the pittance I was making before.

Today's goal: begin work on a bulldog painting. I already have it titled. Exhausted. Because that's what I am after this week. I'm sure many of my artist friends on Cafepress can relate.

Tomorrow's goal: work on a commercial (digital) art line of humorous, quirky, quickie 10% designs I've been putting off while I worked on more unique and detailed paintings.

Monday's goal: spend at least 5 hours in the morning on the new line of commercial art, and spend however many hours it takes after that to finish my bulldog painting.

P.S. Thanks to those of you who inquired about my health - I am getting better and better everyday! Still nothing done on the house, though some folks *finally* gave an estimate. I'm telling ya - there are jobs in roofing and repairs out there...if you'll just SHOW UP and DO WHAT YOU SAY. If I were 10 years younger, I'd be considering it as a job for myself right about now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cafepress and other things I'm sick about

I know I've posted this before...but can I possibly just "opt out" for the rest of 2009? Seriously. To be frank, this year has sucked. I'm ready for a change. Since being a part of 2009 obviously doesn't help, I think it would just be much easier to opt out, as they say in internet-land. Or on websites like Cafepress...

Cafepress has caused the latest fiasco in my life. A big announcement yesterday basically stated they are taking 55-70% of my income and claiming it for themselves. But wait - it's MY ART on that product that is totally white-faced before *I* put it on there, right? Cafepress is a "print on demand" firm, the last time I checked. I mean after all - that is what I pay them for each month to have a shop and put my art on these blank products.

Or is Cafepress now a major licensing operation? As in they decide what art of mine they like, they select it, they put it on products themselves, describe it, tag it, market it, and I get paid a small licensing fee as a result. Yet in that scenario - I don't have to do all the work - nor pay them. I can spend my days simply creating art.

But lo and behold, with these changes, I'm expected to do all that work, pay for the privelege of a shop each month, plus spend time marketing....and for a measley 10%? HUH? They simply cannot be serious.

Let's do the math here. Before, I wanted to make $10 on the sale of a product, so I did the art, did the product design work, paid to have a store to put that product IN, and I made $10 on the product. Easy-peasy. No problem. Nice to have that little $10 in income last month.

With their changes - I will now receive only $4.40. Yet I've done everything else the same - still prepared and provided art for that blank whatchamacallit, uploaded it, tagged it, described it, edited it right for the product, and paid for the ability to put it ON the product. So my income on that product has just dropped by $5.40. And since I'm not doing the pricing anymore (oh yeah, that's part of their new business model - they decide what the price for my work is), I can't raise the price to cover this deficit.

It's like having a job that pays $10 an hour and you've just been told your hourly rate is going down to $4.40 per hour. Now if that were the case, I'd be evaluating whether my time and expense of going to and doing this job would see me a "profit" at $4.40 per hour. Being that I've already figured any job that pays less than $10 per hour costs me too much to even go DO, I know the answer to this: doing the work, plus paying Cafepress for the privelege, is not worth the $4.40.

The only thing that MIGHT make it worth it is if they guarantee my sales would at least TRIPLE by their efforts. And they cannot guarantee that. In fact, after this move and the feelings of millions of shopkeepers, I doubt they'll have NEAR the sales they did up to this point. Shopkeepers are jumping ship and removing their art from the site - affiliates will stop sending people there as well, because many of the affiliate sites are built around a quality niche. When a bulk of the good art is gone - there will be nothing but blank white do-dads to sell. Shopkeepers who sell there also shop there...if they leave, they'll stop shopping there as well.

It's Ebay-meets-Cafepress. Perhaps they put Donahoe in charge at CP and we just don't know about it yet. My sales tanked on Ebay after so many of the seasoned sellers took their business away, and it was only a matter of months before I had to close down at ebay for financial reasons. It was like being in a sink hole that just kept going into the nothingness.

At this point, I'm glad to be away from Ebay....I already had zippo for sales there - being there (especially after all the changes) de-valued my artwork and my self-worth, and my stress level was through the roof. Now - Cafepress hasn't been THAT stressful for me, but it does involve quite a bit of work. I've had this shop for 7 years now and have a variety of my work created over that 7 years in the shop. There's no clear best-seller - I sell a little of everything. So it's not like I can take just a piece of my store and move it to another POD provider. And moving it all seems so overwhelming, I don't even want to consider the work involved.

But I know if I allow them to only pay me a fraction of what my work is worth - that's like me telling the universe, hey, my work is worth pennies on the dollar, but I'm just fine with that! Guess what I'll get in the future if I do that? --> more of the same.

If someone is going to license my work and only pay me 10% in fees, then I'll let some major licensing agency take over the works - and they can do the work I've been doing for 7 years. Sure, I'll be happy to accept only 10% if all I did was prepare the art and don't have to do the rest of the leg-work and product preparation. But I'm not going to do all that work for only 10%.

All that being said - I have no clue what I'm going to do with my art now. I do have my recent art available via RedBubble's POD program in my shop here. I may just stick with that.

My Hoppy Humor line of digital works, however, is solely designed for Cafepress products. I haven't added to the line in a while, so maybe I'll just retire it. I have a little over one month (until May 31) to make decisions about this.

In the meantime, my left ear is still plugged up, though my fever from this awful infection I've had is finally gone. I'm very weak and out of breath, but I'm going to TRY to attempt to work on a painting a little today. In fact, I've been thinking of taking a month long sabbatical from life and do NOTHING except art. That means NOTHING. I'm so irritated and disallusioned with so many things right now, it would probably be good for me - as well as for everyone around me - right now if I did that. My input doesn't seem to matter on anything it might be for the best.

Nothing has been done about our roof - I can't get an estimate though I've had 7 people now (or is it 8? I've lost count!) out here. Well I have to take that back - I do have one estimate. And the way it's looking, those guys might get the job. I'm not going to chase these guys around...if someone wants the job I'm offering, all they have to do is give me the estimate. But I'm not going to chase them for it. To be honest, at this point I'm ready to get Lowes to deliver the materials and fix it myself. I've never fixed a roof before, but there's a first time for everything. And hey, then I could pocket the insurance money for "labor" myself. Gee, I might have just found a new source of income...the day after Cafepress announced they were cutting mine. Hmmm....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Running Behind

I'm about ready to give up on 2009. I was all gung-ho at the first of the year that this was going to be a great year. So far, it's been exactly the opposite. It seems whenever I've tried to set a goal to do daily paintings, something gets in the way. This time around has been no exception. From being sick, to losing income while our living expenses double, to a tree falling on my house, to not being able to get a contractor to give me a darn ESTIMATE, to my car being damaged from it and insurance not covering it, to losing a pet unexpectly (my 6 year old cockatiel Sammi), this year has been nothing but roadblocks.

So here I am - running behind on paintings. Again. Why? Because I'm sick AGAIN. Sinus infection turned ear infection. Yeppers, this one needed a doctor visit. I've been on antibiotics for 3 days now, still have a fever, and feel like I've been run over by a truck. This is just as bad - if not worse - than the flu I had back in February that had me down for 3 weeks. You might as well take my ribs out and just cook 'em - cuz they hurt so bad from coughing that I don't want them anymore!

So...if you've been looking here for new paintings the past few days, this is why there are none. I simply cannot work creatively with a fever. Honestly, I don't know how I've sat up long enough to type this.

While I recover (and I hope at some point I *do*, because this is getting really, really old!), why don't you consider nominating your pet(s) for my upcoming book? Visit this page on my website for instructions. I'd love to have my email box filled up with sweet fur and feathered babies to paint when I get better!

To better health - better days ahead - to meeting and interacting with fabulous people and their pets, to trees staying where they're supposed to -- cheers! --Jai

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Legend is Gone - RIP Gregg Fulkerson

I heard some very sad news last night - singer/songwriter Gregg Fulkerson has passed away at age 44. I knew Gregg from my college days at Freed-Hardeman. His band, Blue Tears (shown below) was very popular with all of us from Henderson, TN. They filmed the video Rockin' With the Radio in Henderson, and hundreds of us came out to participate by driving our cars through town for the filming. Yes, somewhere, I'm in that video (shown below)...somewhere in that sea of cars, I sit.

Left to right:
Back row...Bryan Hall & Charlie Lauderdale
Front...Michael Spears & Gregg Fulkerson

When I heard Gregg passed away, the very first thought that came to me was Blue Tears and the video - maybe not famous for any of you reading this, but definitely a memorable moment in my mind. Henderson was not that exciting of a town back then. Friday nights were spent cruising Main Street, circling the Sonic Drive-In, and cruising back on Main again. We'd park our cars all through town, get out, sit on the hoods and the trunks and listen to music and talk and laugh. Those were the simpler days. My Blue Tears cd is a constant memory of that simpler time, when life was easy and fun.

The thing that saddens me most about Gregg's passing is that he was such an incredible artist. It makes me happy though, that he was still following his musical path, and that he died doing what he loved to do. It inspires me to keep on keepin' on, doing what I love to do with my art. This sad event is just another reminder that life can be snuffed out, just like that. And if that can happen so unexpectedly, I'm going to be spending my time doing what I love to do.

My prayers are with the Fulkerson family, Gregg's son, friends, fellow musicians and friends as they all gather to say goodbye to someone who graced this world with beautiful artistry through his music and songwriting.

Visit Gregg's MySpace page, and listen to his current music. Learn more about Blue Tears here. Below is the Blue Tears Video, Rockin' With the Radio.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cairn Terrier Painting Completed

And here it is, Dougal the Cairn Terrier's completed portrait! I can't wait for his owner to see the painting in person. What a sweet little was a true pleasure to paint him and he is just the perfect model!

To commission a portrait of your pet, please visit my commission page at GalleryJai.Com.

Cairn Terrier Painting in Progress #2

Still continuing on with Dougal's portrait. I have all of his base colors down, and now I'm working on shadows and refining major areas and fur separations. Then I'll do my "squinty-eye" test - where I stand back and look with squinted eyes, to see if my shadows and coloring is correct. When that's complete, then I'll do final detail work on the portrait. This next stage takes a good while, plus I've worked it so much right now I need to let the oil pastels cool down a bit, so I thought I'd go ahead and post this in progress.

Cairn Terrier Painting in Progress

Today I'm working on another dog painting. This is Dougal's portrait in progress. Dougal is an adorable 13 year old Cairn Terrier who lives in the UK. Though Dougal is getting older, he still manages to go along on a weekly 7 mile hike with his owner!

I'm really enjoying working on this little guy's painting. He's just so precious, and I hope I can do him justice through this work of art.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SUNDOWN: Original Dog Painting

Captured at sundown, a time of day that makes lovely Lady's eyes glow with the amber color of a slow-burning fire. We rescued Lady almost 8 years ago. She showed up at our house - fully trained. Once solid black, she's now getting older and her face gets whiter every year. Sort of like my hair. :)

Lady is the best dog I've ever had. She's sweet with us, great with the kids, and listens...well...most of the time. She has a bit of a stubborn streak. :) She's part chow chow and I think that's where the stubbornness comes from.

I just love her colors in the photo of her I took at sundown, and I knew it would make a very striking piece of art. So now Lady has her place in my 365 Pet Paintings series. Your pet could have his/her place as well - view this page for more details on how to nominate your pet for inclusion in this original art series.

#15 Sundown, oil pastel on board, size 8x10" $135

Click here for prints & greeting Cards featuring this artwork.

Cats and Kittens Video

My daughter Allyson made this cute video of our cats/kittens. Have fun watching this one!

If you like my daughter's video of our cats, please click below to leave it a "Paws Up!" :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dog painting in progress #2

I spent a little time this lovely Easter morning working on Lady's painting. I'm still working on blocking in the face, particularly around her eyes. So far, it's coming along nicely. I usually paint animals who are facing to my left - I find it more difficult when they are facing to my right. So I'm taking it a little more slowly than I normally would.

If you would like to nominate your pet to be included in my 365 Pet Paintings series for the book "Best Friends", please visit GalleryJai.Com for instructions.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dog painting in progress

After a t-totally rough week (you know the kind...the one you hope you never have to do over again), I have gotten back in the studio. This is the bare-bones-beginning of a painting of Lady, up close and personal. She has a very intense and studious look in her gaze, and I'm going to try to capture that in the painting as well. I usually don't put a background color in until after I've completed the dog, but I thought I'd try something a little different, as I wanted more softness to the background in this piece of art.

I figure it's about time Lady had a painting created...I've been so focused on the cats and neglecting my pups. After Lady, I'll do Max's painting, and then I have a commission work on the schedule.

This painting will be painting # 12 in my pet paintings series. If you would like to nominate your pet for inclusion, please visit GalleryJai.Com to see how.

Many of you have asked about the cats, specifically Mr. T and how he fared after the tree fell on our home this week. Nikko is doing quite well - she seems to be everywhere. I think that trunk hitting the ground must have really shook her energy level up! Here she is sniffing a dandelion:

And here's the elusive Mr. T...lounging on the very driveway that took the hit from the tree. He's laying under a row of pines here, and doesn't seem too worried. As you can tell, he's fine and quite healthy. :)

P.S Don't forget to nominate your pet!

365 Pet Paintings

I've changed the name of my series to 365 Pet Paintings in order to include other pets as well as cats. The 365 paintings will be featured in my upcoming book, Best Friends - 365 Pet Paintings.

And guess what? Your pet can be included! All you have to do is nominate your pet for inclusion at GalleryJai.Com! Dogs, cats, birds, horses, hamsters, mice, matter what species your best friend is, he/she has the opportunity to become the subject of a work of art and be included! Follow the instructions at GalleryJai.Com to nominate your pet. :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Backyard Friends

The last several days, I've spent quite a bit of time out in the yard thanks to our falling tree. I've captured some photos of our little backyard friends and thought I'd share them:

This is a baby King Snake. One of the cats had him cornered and my neighbor put him in the tree so I could get photos of him. He posed quite nicely in this one!

After watching Mr. King Snake disappear up into the branches of the pine tree, I looked around for more cool things to take photos of, and I stumbled on this little toad. He didn't especially want his photo made, but I talked him into it. :)

I spent some time stalking the birds. This required sitting in a chair, with the camera turned on, and sitting absolutely still for a very long time. Captured this little Cardinal. He actually posed on that branch for quite a while, but he kept turning around. I finally got a photo of his cute little face.

I had quite a time getting the Blue Jay's to pose. None of them wanted a photo made and they'd fly away so quickly. But one brave soul finally got on the ground right in front of me and did a few little dance moves.

And last but not least, we have Mr. Squirrel. (Or maybe it was a missus...I'm not sure.) He played hide-n-seek around the tree trunk with me for quite a while.

Now you can see why it's never boring at my house. Between the dogs, the cats, the birds, the squirrels, the reptiles, and occasionally a groundhog, there's plenty to entertain us. In fact, I'd rather sit outside and watch them play over watching TV any day! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Cats Response to the Fallen Tree

When the tree fell on our house Sunday night, all but one of the cats were on the carport. In fact, it was seeing their little heads pop up at the firecracker sounds of the tree initially coming down which let us know something big was happening. Bootsie had actually been spotted running from the direction of the falling tree up to the carport. (I TOLD HER to quit using that tree as a scratching post!)

So when the tree hit and shook our house to the core, all the cats disappeared over the wall. Rowdy was the first to come back and explore. In this first photo, he's shown checking out the hole where the tree uprooted from:

A few minutes later, he's shown climbing the part on our roof...going up to explore the roof:

The next morning, here's Oreo, sitting on the fallen tree in the midst of the foliage:

Bootsie checks out the tree...this smells funny!

Bootsie takes a walk on the tree:

Nikko returns...what in the world happened here?!

Rowdy...hmmm...wonder what's under here?

Nikko...this is unreal!

Nikko again...

Rowdy comes back to explore the uprooted portion again:

Bootsie...what am I gonna do with all this mess?

And last but not least, when we finally let Max out the back after cleanup, he runs over to check out this huge, empty spot.

It looks so weird now! Hard to believe the tree is not there anymore! My neighbors are probably even more shocked than they've lived here 30 years and were as much married to that tree as they are to each other!

Monday, April 6, 2009

The tree is gone

After a few hours of hard work, the tree that hammered our house last night is gone. These guys with Bryant Tree Company in Jackson, TN are true professionals. They worked hard, fast, and were kind and respectful and answered many questions. I highly recommend them after what I saw today!

After removing the tree, we discovered my car has a dent just above the license plate. Word has it homeowners insurance will not pay for that...but we'll see. They say car insurance has to pay for that, but the car was under the carport for protection. Not sure how that works, but with this entire deal, we'll see if Allstate lives up to their good name! The adjuster will be here Thursday and will be receiving a CD will all of the photos I've shared here, plus many more!

Notice the big hole in the driveway...there are *3* of those. I've got the contractor from across the street coming tomorrow to do an estimate for me on the house and driveway damage.

So this is what it looks like now. Quite a difference from last night and this morning!

I am exhausted. I hardly slept at all last night, and I had nightmares about this tree when I did. I'll probably end up crazier than I was before, after all this. :)

Cutting up the tree

They're here to cut up the tree! See my previous posts of the night photos and early morning photos of the damage. It's a big sucker!

Daylight photos of tree on our house

Here are the day time photos of the tree that fell on our house last night: