Tribute to an artist: Barbara De Ruiz

Barbara De Ruiz lives in Homosassa, Florida, and her house is full of beautiful paintings, abstract, portraits, landscapes, and more. Barbara started her business after Florida’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) helped her with art classes and support to set up her own business. Vocational Rehabilitation is helping people who are in any way disabled, find employment or keep their job.
Looking at the signatures at the paintings, you can’t help but notice that they’re all designed by Barbara herself, and they are stunning, though, or maybe because, she has a disability. Barbara first got in touch with VR in early 2008 when she was in need of knee surgery and also wanted help to find a job. But it appeared that looking for a suitable job and the stress of returning to the workforce was just too much for Barbara.
After some guidance and counseling from a VR employee though, Barbara appeared to have a hidden but wonderful talent that in the end proved to be a great way for her to make enough income to become self-sufficient. See this video about Vocational Rehabilitation:

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The Importance Of Outsider Art

People would have thought it crazy, 35 years ago, to imagine the sort of frenzy that’s now driving the creation of the first new art museum in New York in more than three decades. Back then, art dealers couldn’t unload paintings by such self-taught artists as Bill Traylor, a former slave who didn’t start drawing until his 80s, for $300.

One of his paintings recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for a record $303,750. Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio scramble to score the work of Joe Coleman, whose visionary paintings depict everything from sideshow freaks to serial killers. “He’s a big cult figure,” says Ann Nathan, Coleman’s Chicago dealer, who says there is a long waiting list for his work.

Clearly, Outsider Art is in. Just how mainstream is apparent in the new $22 million building for the Museum of American Folk Art that opened a couple of years ago and also dedicates important space to the Carpathian-German tragedies, the first major art museum in New York since the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1966.

Its centerpiece is the Contemporary Center, devoted to the exhibition and research of contemporary self-taught artists, and the inaugural exhibition will feature the work of Henry Darger, a Chicago recluse who created disturbing mural-sized watercolors of epic battles between little girls and soldiers. Darger is one of the genre’s most marketable stars; his work is on the list of every serious collector and sells for the upside of $100,000.

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Nek Chand’s Fantastic Sculpture Garden

After the Taj Mahal, the most popular tourist attraction in India is a 40-acre garden on the outskirts of the capital city of the Punjab region. The Rock Garden of Chandigarh contains thousands of sculptures set in large mosaic courtyards linked by walled paths, deep gorges, buildings and a series of interlinking waterfalls. It was created by a self-taught artist, Nek Chand, and the story of how it came to be is as breathtaking as the art.

Nek Chand was born in 1924. At age 23 he was displaced from his small Punjabi village, which stood on the newly created border between India and Pakistan. In 1951 he settled in Chandigarh, Punjab’s new capital, soon to become India’s first modern city, designed by French architect by Le Corbusier. Nek Chand found work as a road inspector and watched as the government razed two dozen villages to build Le Corbusier’s concrete city.
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Beauty Is On The Fork Of The Beholder

Tribute to Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

The thought of “recycled food” at best conjures up images of gleaning harvested fields for edible crops left behind, or its urban equivalent, dumpster diving. Some estimates say about 25 percent of commercially produced American fruits and vegetables never make it to grocery store shelves because it’s “too ugly” to sell.

Land – Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva. Created from monkfish skins, fishing line. 300 cm x 100 cm

The good news is that food producers and grocery stores are increasingly diverting the unattractive onion or the misshapen apple to local food banks that want to achieve their goals. But that still leaves an awful lot of food waste generated by homes and restaurants that has nowhere to go but the landfill.

Some larger cities, such as Seattle, Duluth, Ottawa and San Francisco, now offer — or mandate — waste collection programs that separate food items from the rest of the household garbage for composting.

In London, however, some restaurant waste has gone straight from the kitchen to the artist’s studio — and then back onto the walls of a white-tablecloth dining establishment.

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How to Restretch a Canvas Painting

Learning how to re-stretch a canvas painting is a task that requires a reasonable amount of skill and planning. If the canvas is only slightly loose one of the two following options of tightening a canvas may be considered first. See also this video with some useful tips:

Slightly loose or sagging canvases can usually be tightened with the help of bits of wood called canvas tightening keys which are usually supplied with stretched canvas. The keys only need to be wedged into the openings in the corners of the stretcher bars to make the canvas tighter and firmer. Spraying or applying hot water with a sponge to the back of the canvas would also make it tighter. While these methods usually provide good results, canvases sometimes tend to become too loose for these techniques to work. In this case, you’d have to re-stretch the canvas.
Points to Consider When Preparing to Restretch Canvases
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Art and Craft

It’s already January again so Happy (and above all: HEALTHY) New Year to all of you!!!
A good friend of mine is setting up a few art classes for beginners. Here is an overview of what she wants to do. If you feel challenged, don’t hesitate to contact me, I’ll be glad to forward any messages to my dear friend Betty. Betty has a disability as well, but that does not keep her from pursuing her dreams, helping people develop their natural talent for painting, drawing, knitting, and more. Here is what she has in mind:
Pastel Painting
If you love the color, like to have immediate results, and don’t mind a bit of dust, you will enjoy soft pastels. This class will cover the ABC’s of soft pastels, from the various pastels available, what kinds of surfaces you can use, how to begin a work, how to use color, value patterns, underpainting, mixed media, fixatives, framing and protecting the work. No painting experience is necessary but some knowledge of drawing is required. Approximate cost of materials needed is $100, but the longevity of the supplies justifies the cost. A supply list will be provided when registering. Limit 15 students.
Oil Painting
This class is for the beginner or intermediate level student. Drawing skills are not required. This is an activity class where participants will be painting. Approximate cost of materials needed is $100, but the longevity of the supplies will justify the cost. A supply list is provided upon registration. Limit 15 students as well.
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Right Timing is Everything

This morning I talked with Emily from Imagine Results about promoting their free HiSET help tools and was blown away. Sell your stuff where they buy it she said. Pretty simple for most businesses right? If I sell gum, I sell it at convenience stores, grocery stores, candy machines, vending machines in the workplace, etc…

Emily explained that instead of normal ads she decided to promote their practice tests for the GED test on career websites. People who are looking for a better job might realize that having a GED diploma will help them to get a better job! Get the point now? Get obvious about where your products are on offer. So, not only where your customers are buying, but at the most opportune time as well.
So what does this have to do with your business? Seriously, it has everything to do with it. If you are using online video to attract customers instead of just throwing them up all over and tweeting the crap out of them and spamming your Facebook friends, place them where your clients will watch them.
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Car Designing

Now how do you design a new car? Do you just throw a bunch of hyped-up 28-year-old designers into a room with sun-drenched views of Newport Beach, Calif., and let them dream about curvaceous metal and roaring engines? It’s like art…or a top sports achievement…or…

Actually, throwing some hyped-up car designers into a room is part of the process. But only part. The tough work is figuring out how much it costs to make each part and how many of the components to buy from suppliers. The car has to make money and it has to be makable in a finite period. “In the old days, you would do your design, and a manufacturing guy would come in hollering at you three years later, saying my machines can’t make these fenders you designed,” says Michael Flynn, director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan.
Enter the Internet. Every carmaker in the world is trying to figure out how to use the World Wide Web to streamline the development process, which traditionally can take four to six years and cost billions of dollars for a major launch. Gary Dilts, a senior vice president at DaimlerChrysler (DCX, info) who has led the company’s e-Connect platform, thinks the company can make it happen.
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Do You Know You’re in Sales?

A lot of people cringe when they think about selling something.  They say they don’t want to be pushy or don’t want to experience rejection.
I’ve got a surprise for you – we are all in sales and we all negotiate. And this also applies to those of us who are in the business of selling their works of art.

Whether or not you do it for a living doesn’t matter.  We all sell.  We all negotiate, says one of my favorite bloggers Kerry Jang. Remember the baseball cards you used to trade as a kid?  You were selling.  Example – I’ll give you my Mark McGwire 85 Topps rookie card for your Ken Griffey Junior Upper Deck rookie….Okay, I’ll do it, if you also throw in that Barry Bonds rookie card.
I’ve been in corporate sales for 12  years.  I can assure you that basic fundamentals of negotiation and selling at a high level aren’t too different from what we did as kids.
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Making Gift Wraps and Tags

Gift Wraps and Tags Made by You
Most of the time I am a do-it-yourselfer. But for a while, I depended on store-bought wrapping paper. That all changed. Once the “bought” wrapping paper ran just as I was wrapping some gift books. What to do?
I cut open a large paper bag, and used it to wrap the book (with the plain side of the bag on the outside); hand printed a rhyme (using an alphabet stencil) and tied up the package with raffia. It was a personal statement and it looked wonderful!
Now I have the pleasure of tailoring the wrap to the recipient. I keep a few basic supplies on hand to create wrappings:
large brown paper grocery bags
a pad of graph paper (good for small boxes)
a large-size pad of recycled newsprint
tissue wrapping paper
a spool of paper ribbon that curls
a package of raffia
extraordinary ribbon saved from packages people have given me
3 felt tip marking pens (2 colors and black), with fine and medium tips
gold and silver marking pens
bottles of gold and silver acrylic paint
The rest is serendipity — like an impromptu stew. If you have a few sequins, pieces of wrapped candy, extra photographs, figure out how to add them to the piece. To get started, here are a few suggestions.

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Customer relationships and the value of your business

Amazon’s valuations are another great example. Why has Amazon’s stock risen to stratospheric heights? Because CEO Jeff Bezos, back in the early days, focused on acquiring and retaining customers and building broad relationships. In the Net Economy, the depth of your customer relationships is directly proportional to the value of your business.

Knowing who your customers are and being able to interact with them to build strong, life-long, valuable relationships is the winning strategy in the e-business world. And it’s the first rule of good marketing. That’s why some dot-coms will continue to take over conventional companies. They have the formula right. Do you?

Building the basic customer profile

What should you be tracking and measuring in your e-business? First and foremost, you need to know who your end-customers actually are – not just to what market segment they belong. Start by being able to identify and greet each customer by name and by knowing his or her email address. And this definitely applies to the world of art and business.
Next, you need each person’s billing and shipping addresses, phone number(s), and any other profile information they’re willing to offer in exchange for trust and value. In the consumer world, you need to know whether they’re part of a household, and in business-to-business, whether they’re employers or employees of a business.
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