Monday, July 30, 2012

Generous Friends

I am blessed with several wonderful and generous women from the blogosphere. When I started blogging about two and a half years ago I did it to support my new Etsy Shop where I wanted to sell my paintings. I had just started painting after years and years of fearful procrastination. When I started, I had no idea I would meet such wonderful, friendly, generous and wholly interesting people. It has been such a blessing in my life.

Even more specifically has been a strange little coincidence the Universe seems to be playing with me. I'm collecting Australians. Yes, Aussies, those wonderfully friendly people with the cool accents? Ya, them. It seems I'm attracting friends from down under like a magnet! First there was Tracey Fletcher King, one of the most generous and funny people I've ever met. She's highly addicted to both tea and chocolate and she loves to do art and hilarious blog posts about both. 

Tracey sent me some beautiful bookmarks
and don't you just love this card? Her
painterly talents are awe inspiring.
Then I met Vonny Kaus a few months later, she joined up for one of my APR's and after perusing her blog I was struck with how realistic her work was. She loves to paint underwater scenes, with beautiful schools of fish and colorful coral. They are spectacular works of art. Von has added a bit of whimsy to her repertoire by drawing Egbert Bookman bookmarks, cards and notebooks. He's a curious little elf who loves to read. She's sent me a sweet collection of Egbert paraphernalia including a personalized Canadian Egbert!

Von made me Egberts, one dressed like a Mountie!!
I think that card in the back is so cute!
Last but certainly not least is Denise Allen. Neesie, as she likes to be called, is an expert zentangler and sketch artist. She takes pen & ink work to superlative heights. When I saw her work, a collection of zentangled flowers etc. I was truly blown away. Her work is the best I've ever seen, truly. Now she's taken on watercolor painting and with her talent she'll make beautiful art no matter what she tries. Neesie was so generous to send me one of her zentangle cards, I can't wait to frame it.

Neesie's pen & ink work shines and always
allows her subject to be the dominant
force. The pattern brings out the
beauty of the form.
Now, it's not like I don't have wonderful friends who live in the same hemisphere as I do. Ellen Jarvis, my sweet friend (currently laid up with foot pain, sending my love...) sent me THE most adorable chickens that I've ever seen! They make me smile like nothing else. The hilarity of the bird feet and the bulbus nature of the chicken form just makes me smile from ear to ear. What I really respond to though is the COLOR. I love how colorful these cluckers are!
I keep telling her she should do
notecards & prints of these
gorgeous chickens.
I love Ellen's chickens!
Isn't she talented??
I want to send out a heartfelt thank you to all my wonderfully generous friends who sent me such beautiful artwork. I'm truly blessed with friendship. I love you all.

I'll be back soon with new art for this week's APR. I hope all YOUR art is going well. Have you thought of which things you want to do "in Series"? I'll see you all here in a couple days!


If you're looking for the current Artist's Play Room just click here and you'll go to this week's art challenge.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Artist's Play Room # 20

 This last week I asked you all to make art in the theme of "ink, parchment & pens". I didn't care how those words inspired you I just wanted to see your cool art that sprung from this theme. I admit that if I didn't quash the urge to purchase I'd have huge bins of different kinds of paper, drawers of pretty pens and a rainbow of ink colors in all kinds of decorative bottles. By looking at your art I think I'm honoring my obsession with ink, pen & paper. Let me show you some of the beautiful art that was submitted.
My piece, "The Poet's Desk"
This is one of my favorite
pieces I've ever done. It took
a lot of effort but it paid off.
Alice has thought outside
of the box by figuring
ink & paper is the printed
part and she uses a digital
pen to add the quote!! :o)
Tracey has painted her
travel kit, with pens, paper
and ink pens. Wonderful
& bright, love it.
Gloria has used inkblots to make
a colorful abstract. It's bright
& bild,staring at it what do 
you see??
Twinkletoes has done a
scrapbook-like page of
colorful flowers and some
adorable ladybugs.
Elizabeth has done a
wonderful collage of
pens and word images.
Bonnie has done a sketch of some
beautiful pens and a great shaped
ink bottle. I'm totally envious
of her FAB pen collection!
Nordljus has done a
Pen & ink drawing of
pens & ink!! I love the
tongue in cheek humor.
OOh, I love this, Vonny
has done a black & white
piece of a hand drawing
the drawing in the drawing!!
Tracy has done a wonderful
ink wielding gourd
character, she's spectacular!
Arnoldo has done a
lovely and colorful quote
from the bible, adding some
beautiful celtic Knot flowers.
Rita has done a drawing of
her favorite Lamy pen
using ink on paper, lol.
She has an amazing collection
of all these things!
Neesie has used pen & ink on paper to zentangle Australia's famous
Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House. She is such an amazing artist.
If you haven't read the rules & guidelines, please go here. If you've landed here after this challenge has been completed but would like to participate in a current or future Artist's Play Room Challenge, just either click on the APR button in the sidebar or click here and you'll be taken to the latest APR Challenge!

Are you having trouble using the Mr. Linky to add your submissions to APR? Well here's some help! Just click on HELP and you'll be taken to my Linky Help Page. Cool, huh? I've got your back!

In APR this week I've picked "In Series" as our theme. Let me explain... there are many things that are grouped together or even called the same thing but they look very different. For instance, a cocktail can look so many ways depending on the glass, alcohol & additives that the bartender uses to make it. As another example, I'm thinking of doing teapots as my "in series" theme. You'd be amazed how many different teapots are out there! This theme may take a little bit of thought to come up with what you want to sketch, paint or create but I believe in you and I can't wait to see what you all come up with! Here's a selection of inspirational examples...
Series: DressesSeries: Nail PolishSeries: Mushrooms
Series: Perfume BottlesSeries: ShoesSeries: Animals


If you are so inclined, I'd sure appreciate you're joining up using my Linky Follower Tool in my sidebar. I do love new followers. If you'd like a follow back just say so in the comments and I'll be happy to do that, I always love discovering new friends & blogs!
Mister Linky's Magical Widgets -- Thumb-Linky widget will appear right here!
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For best results, use HTML mode to edit this section of the post.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Blogging 101 (Part Six)

We're at Part six of our series focusing on how to beautify your blog (and make it more functional at the same time). If you have been living under a rock for the last several months click here to read the first five parts of this series. They're pretty useful and informative, if I do say so myself. ;o)

This time I'm going to give a little talk about WORD VERIFICATION (the evil captcha) and I'll also walk you through how to use the Linky Follower Tool. Finally I'll show you how to use Mr. Linky, the meme tool that allows your readers to link up to your blog for challenges and such.

Ok, first my little spiel about word verification. I am a word verification free blog site. I don't want to inadvertently annoy any lovely commenters with superfluous anti-spam measures. Blogger does a wonderful job of filtering out offensive comments (I've heard, since I've never actually had the privilege of getting one) and someday if my blog has so many loyal followers that I collect some complainers then I'll add comment moderation. I'm betting that'll never be necessary, not that I won't grow to be über popular but that anyone would want to make a rude comment seems just silly, lol!

I know that it's possible that something heinous will get by both Blogger and me but I'd rather not annoy the (hopefully) thousands of people who are kind enough to comment for the possibility of one troubling commenter. I'm thinking that you, my reader, will thank the Gods for no strange, s t r e t c h e d  out, blurry words that look like a drunk person wrote them. When I'm on a blog, I hate having to guess at these words just to say something encouraging, something I don't HAVE to do. In fact, many times I'm very tempted to leave when I encounter the dreaded word verification. So, I am very happy to say I'm a WORD VERiFiCATiOFREE blog because I don't want to lose you.

Please, no offense to those who want to use verification on their blogs, go for it, it's your blog. You just won't have to do that here. You're welcome. ;o)

Ok, now, if you want to join the WORD VERiFiCATiOFRErevolution then here's what you do. Go to your Design page (back room) by clicking in the upper right hand corner on "design". It'll look like this, so you'll know you're in the right place...

I'm using a blog I've just started with a friend...
You're gonna want to go to the "Settings" tab at the bottom left of the above Design page. After you click "Settings" then click "Posts and Comments". Your page will then look like the following...

Ok, so now, if you look, you can change how your blog deals with comments. To change the word verification you want to click "show word verification?" and choose NO (as I have above). If you're still worried about spam or bad comments getting through you can put on "Comment Moderation", which means that you'll get an email for every comment and you'll have to tell blogger that it's ok to show it. I don't think it's necessary but if you want it the choose Always and it'll ask you to type in your email address that you want each comment to be sent so you can moderate them. Remember to click "SAVE SETTINGS" in the upper right hand corner of the page (not shown in picture above for space reasons). That's it, easy peasy!! Now your a word verification free blog too and we LOVE you for it!!

On to adding the Linky Follower Tool to your site! First, click on this link when your ready to do all the following steps. To the right is the page you'll see the linky page you'll land on first when you click the link above. Click the "Sign Up - It's Free" button at the bottom of the page. Funny enough, you'll land on a word verification page to prove you're human, fill in the word and click "Validate". You're now on a page where they want your particulars. Fill in your email address (later you'll be able to choose NOT to have that show), pick an email that will be valid and you can get access to. Fill in your name and a thumbnail message. I've thought of this a lot, your thumbnail message is the short message that appears when anyone mouses over or hovers over your little avatar picture that will be in any linky tool you sign up to. I put "Jenn @" because I want people to know it's me AND, more important, MY BLOG ADDRESS. So, if anyone mouses over my pic, wondering who I am it says I own the blog Just Add Water Silly! After you put your message, then pick a password you'll remember (minimum of four characters). Click continue.

Now you want to put your blog name and blog address. If I were signing up Just Add Water Silly I'd put:

If you actually don't have a blog but want to be able to sign up with other people's blogs as a follower then check the box at the bottom saying you don't have a blog. Now click continue.

Now you're on a page that says the following:

NOTE:When you click the button below:
  1. You will receive an email to confirm and activate your account (If you don't receive your confirmation email within a few minutes, go to the website and contact us -; and...
  2. And, you will be taken back to the blog you just "followed" or back to Linky Followers if you signed up from there.

Finally you can click "Sign me up, Scotty!", lol. You'll then have to go to your email and when it comes in, click the link to confirm that you're signing up for Linky Follower tools. Clicking that link will send you to the log in page where you put your email and password, then you'll go to the dashboard. You can change anything you want here and also get the code to place the Linky Follower Tool on your site. 

Here's how you add the Linky Follower Tool to your blog. In the center of your Linky dashboard is a little box that says "Quick Widget: Quickly get the code, display a widget on your blog". There is then a link to click to get the code.

It looks like what you see on the right. Click "Get Widget". This will take you to a pop up window where you will be asked to pick your blog then given two options for code. If you have a Blogger blog, choose the upper option, the simpler code. Copy the code and then go to your blog's Dashboard and click the "Layout" tab on the left hand side then add an HTML/Javascript gadget to your sidebar. Paste the code you've copied into that gadget and click "save". Now you can move that gadget down your sidebar to where you want it. I recommend as close to the top as possible so potential followers can find it OR just above your Google Friend Connect follower tool so people can choose between them. (Remember that GFC will be dropped by Google at the end of this year, that's why I recommend adding the Linky Follower Tool as a great substitute!) Below is what the code page looks like when you're on the linky site.

Onward and upward, people! Let's teach you how to add Mr. Linky to any blog post. Mr. Linky is a cool little tool that allows your readers to sign up for your challenges etc. by adding their link to a Mr. Linky tool. A Mr. Linky Platinum subscription can be purchased for $10/year and this allows you to use the most sophisticated and easy linkies that are offered. Silver and Gold subscriptions are also offered but I just love the copy/paste ease of the Platinum subscription! If you're doing sign up type things on your site this subscription is seriously worth it. I'll show you how to use your platinum subscription as that's what I have. I'd go through the sign up with you but I'd have to purchase again and I don't want to do that!!

Ok, once you have your subscription (you can still use Mr. Linkies for free, just not the totally easy copy/paste ones) then go to the widgets site, it's a green page with tabs at the top. Click the second on, "wizard". Now you're on the page with all the different kinds of linkies. It looks like this...

This is the "Wizard" page (above) and it allows you to choose from six different widgets and twelve different blogger platforms. I'm assuming you have a Blogger blog but if you use another platform you're going to want to choose that platform. So, first pick "Blogger" as your platform and click it's button. Then pick a meme (that's what they're called. If you look up the definition of meme its kind of confusing but basically the blogosphere has defined meme as a set of questions or a challenge where many come and sign up to participate. Think of it as a blog gatherer or a coffee klatch for bloggers, lol.) My Artist's Play Room Challenge every week is considered a meme, get it kind of?? As clear as mud, right, ya, for me too! Ok, onward... You've chosen "Blogger as your platform (where you blog), now pick a widget there are six to choose from:

  1. Button Linkies
  2. Original Auto Linkies
  3. Easy Linkies
  4. Pop-up Comments
  5. BlenzaPlus (for Wordpress Platforms)
  6. Thumb Linkies
I always choose #6, Thumb Linkies, it allows you to show a small thumbnail picture of your art (or blog badge) and it's SO easy to use. It is available to Platinum memberships, I don't know about the other memberships. Ok, so choose the thumb linky then scroll down and you'll see a few other choices...

Mr. Linky allows you to name your linky meme and when you do the name will show up as a choice every week from then on. In the drop down list for instance, there's "Artist's Play Room" and "Inspiration Ave. Weekly Challenge". Both my site and IA do weekly challenges so our meme name is in the list! At the very end of the meme list is "Create your own Meme!", if you want to do that then select that, here's what that page looks like...

Put an appropriate name for your meme (I used Artist's Play Room so that's taken, lol). Tell them what day of the week you usually hold your meme or choose "monthly" from the drop down menu. Put the URL of the page where you're gonna give "rules" for your meme. Now that you know they'll ask for that you can use the previous Blogging 101's to learn how to create a static page and to grab it's URL so you can put that into your "for more information" window. I skipped the Technorati tag, then if you want others to be able to use the code and put your meme on their site and show the same link up then check "allow other users to subscribe and use this meme". I don't check that box, my memes are mine, no need to share. That's it, click create and you now have your own meme title that will appear in the drop down menu every time you make a new meme.

Finally, go choose your new title from the drop down menu and click "Generate Code". You'll go to a code page and all you have to do is copy that code exactly the way it is, DON'T change it AT ALL. (Your code will look generally like the box above.) Now, take that copied code to your blog post. Click the HTML button on the top left of your open draft blog post. Put your meme at the BOTTOM, below ALL the other code. After you've pasted the code into the HTML section of the bottom of your blog then go back to the "compose" which allows you to see the pretty way your blog post will look. You'll see a grayed out Mr. Linky with a border around it, like this...

this is what the Mr. Linky looks like in a draft blog post. It will look normal when the blog post is live.
It is VERY important NOT to get anywhere close to that section because you don't want to change the code AT ALL. What I do is I usually put a line a couple spaces above this box so I don't go below that. Any change makes it not work.

In fact, I recommend adding your meme at the VERY END, after you're TOTALLY finished writing your blog post, then you can add your meme AFTER all the code, at the bottom and GUARANTEE that NOTHING gets inadvertently changed in the meme code. That would work best as I've seen many a meme get screwed up without the author knowing HOW it ended up broken.

 When your new meme post goes live and someone adds their thumbnail and link to your Mr. Linky, you can go and edit it or delete it or anything by going back to the blank green page (Mr. Linky main site) with the links at the top. Now choose "widgets" and you'll go to all your linky memes. You can now click on a meme and edit links etc. You'll see when you get there. We're done!! Now you know how to NOT use word verification, add the Linky Follower tool to your sidebar to collect new followers AND add and use a meme from the Mr. Linky site!! Cool, huh? Did you ever think you'd be this smart?? Now, go forth and feel superior to all your bloggy friends, or at least the ones who haven't found the Blogging 101 series, ;o)


Just in case you missed it, here are the last several posts, including APR for this week. Our challenge is "Ink, Pen & Parchment/Paper". To go to the post, just click on the icon!
Poet's Desktop StudyArtist's Play Room #19


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