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Scandi Style – Top 5 Items for Hygge Happiness

We’ve all heard of the Danish word Hygge, haven’t we? It’s a word that is heard to translate into English but generally it means happiness, contentment and a sense of being serene and comfortable. Feeling you are right where you should be. We could all do with a little of that Scandi Style right now, especially during a global pandemic.

Scandi ideas have made a huge impact on us in the last few years from architecture to fashion and back again. Characterised by a minimalist and functional approach with few frills and fussiness, these ideas really give you space for what matters – serenity and purposefulness, and bringing out the artist in you.

Here are few ideas that might just get you headed in the right direction towards that impressive Scandi Style.

1 The Little Book Of Hygge – The Essence of Scandi Style

Let’s get straight to it. This is a really fantastic little book about happiness. With 5270 reviews on Amazon and just under 5 star rating it’s difficult to argue with. It’s an international, New York Times and Sunday Bestseller, having sold well over a million copies. Written by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, it’s a small book with some profound insights. Properly digested it could bring much needed coziness to your soul in these uncertain times.

The Little Book of Hygge

You can buy it here:

https://amzn.to/3pw20Rf

2 An Icelandic Jumper – Scandi Style Clothing

Surely a hand knit Icelandic wool sweater with protective wool fibres is about as soul-hugging as clothing could be? They are traditionally knitted provided windproof warmth all year round. Icelandic jumpers are incredibly popular and suitable for indoor or outdoor comfort. A variety of designs are available and they come with or without zips. This beautiful Nordic design is a particular favourite for comfort and contentment anywhere.

Hygge, happiness and confidence to suit your way of living.

Make sure you take time to find your best fit and design – you’ll being wearing it for years to come!

Icewear Icelandic Jumper

You can purchase here:

https://amzn.to/3ja21Il

3 A Scandinavian Rug – Interior Design Done Scandi Style

A beautiful and minimalist rug can set off your whole home, bringing a real sense of Hygge to any room or studio. There is a long history of different styles of Scandinavian rugs, some influenced by Oriental and Turkish ideas. 

A big part of Hygge style is being free from clutter and the emphasis of simple, clean lines so you can see why excess carpeting is replaced by the use of beautifully designed rugs. These days the best styles seem to be minimalistic geometric black and white or neutral grey designs which fit any room, often making the perfect centrepiece to build your room or studio around.

Nordic Design Rug by Vivense

You can purchase some excellent examples here:

https://amzn.to/2YsdvNy

4 Scandi Lighting – The Ultimate in Scandi Style

If you lived in a country that had so little light for much of the year you would value lighting very highly indeed. You only need to look at the sheer variety of Scandinavian lights to verify this. Scandi decor is still a dominant style for many of us and your choice of lighting is a huge part of the mood, atmosphere and potential inspiration of any room. One single source of light can be a little conventional for many of us, and most interior designers recommend a variety of different light sources on a dimmer rather than one overarching one. An industrial, minimalistic Scandi style is still the go to, and we would particularly recommend the use of pipes, natural fibres like hemp ropes with your lamps and especially steampunk chandeliers for that heartwarming Hygge experience. 

You could start your research here and work from there:

Nordic Pendant Lamp

https://amzn.to/3coTqjA

5 Scandi Style Armchair

While Hygge is minimalistic in approach there is still room for a slightly pared back beauty. It wouldn’t be out of place for one expensive piece of furniture to take pride of place as the focal point of a room. Sometimes a whole months wages could be spent on an armchair, sideboard or a lovely writing desk. When the rest of the room is simplistically elegant it can make the statement piece really stand out.

Sloane and Sloane Armchair Amazon

This one is lovely in grey but available in various colours. It won’t cost a month’s wages either!

https://amzn.to/2YqeFcD

Best of luck finding your artistic, Hygge soul-warming Scandi style in 2021!

This article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no cost to you for our recommendations.

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5 Habits to Free Your Inner Artist

Releasing Your Inner Artist http://www.orlagilkesonart.com Recent Art Commission by Orla Gilkeson

For many of us creative pursuits are a luxury, something to be done on the weekend or at the end of the day when all the ‘important’ things are finished. Unfortunately that means we seldom get around to accessing our inner artist because we are too tired and burnt out by the time we get some headspace. 

The true beauty of it is that we can help ourselves by building habits into our day to coax the artist within to give us a fresh passion and perspective. Now that the pace of life has slowed for many of us because of the global pandemic, there has never been a better time to release your inner artist.

1 Be Intentionally Open to Your Inner Artist

Many of us have been hardwired to believe artistic pursuits do not pay your bills and are a symptom of having your ‘head in the clouds.’ We tell ourselves and others that to live in the ‘real world,’ we have to be practically minded and if we really must indulge such activities we should do it outside of a job we don’t really like. This means we need to be intentional about being creative, to give ourselves permission to let the artist within out for a little air. 

This is a really fun and liberating way of living. All the human made objects you see around you started as an idea or vision in someone’s mind – from architecture to sports cars someone had to live in the world of ideas, with their head in the clouds for a while at least. It’s part of the process. Give yourself permission to begin. Tell yourself the right kind of story. Be intentionally open to being creative. Start to really see things instead of just looking at them. Get a sense of what Frederick Franck meant when he wrote, “Merely looking at the world around us is immensely different from seeing it.”

You are effectively telling your brain that it needs to be more aware, to see a bigger picture. You are giving your brain permission to be creative, and unconsciously it will be processing ideas which later come out as ‘inspiration.’ 

2 Stop Working so Hard! Let Your Inner Artist Out for Air

For artists (aspiring or otherwise) creativity often knocks at the door when you aren’t trying. The American artist Barnett Newman complained that his wife didn’t understand that he was working while sitting in an armchair smoking and staring out of the window. Einstein apparently had his best ideas while shaving. Other people have their best ideas while driving or running a familiar route, or like Newman sitting in a favourite armchair. While you may not be trying to compute cosmic calculations you can definitely be open to solutions about your improving painting techniques, and rendering your subjects in novel ways. 

3 Create a Physical and Mental Workspace 

Find a physical space where you can paint. It doesn’t have to be a huge studio or even a whole room. Clear a corner somewhere you feel comfortable and set up an easel. If you love the outdoors and have the right weather go into nature or your back garden, even your shed. As long as it’s a place you’ll want to go back to time and again. Somewhere you associate with enjoyment and peace of mind. If necessary get some cheap plastic sheeting to keep the paint off walls and furniture to eliminate possible worry. 

Creating a pleasant physical place will help your mind associate making art with pleasure and keep you free from distractions. 

As the great Sufi poet Hafiz wrote, it will help you “Change rooms in your mind for a day.” Hopefully a lot longer.

Not only will you clear out a physical space you could find that you also experience something of what the highly successful businessman Dee Hock writes, “Clean out a corner of your mind and creativity will instantly fill it.”

4 Feed Your Inner Artist the Right Diet

While it’s important at times to stop trying to force creativity it’s also true that we need to intentionally feed our inner artist. Read books and poetry, watch films that give your brain material to work on. Draw your inner artist out by paying attention to artworks, and various art forms. Daytime TV is probably not going to help much here. Neither is Social Media overload so choose carefully what you feed your artist with.

One of the funny things about our minds is that when you stop focusing on something, for you it all but disappears. You really do get more of what you focus on. If you just focus on paying the bills you forget about finding creative ways to help you pay those very bills. If you shut down your inner artist and close your mind to creative possibilities, you get more and more shutdown of creative possibilities. If we focus on creativity we get more creativity.

5 Build Mindfulness into your Day

We all know that mindfulness is good for us, but spending long periods of time meditating isn’t for everyone. 

It is possible to build mindfulness into our daily routine in various ways however. Intentionally slow down. Think of how each morsel you eat tastes. Consider how the light behaves in your surroundings. Take a few moments to pick an inspirational quotation and really break it down, asking yourself how you might apply it to your life. Artists do these things naturally while creating, but try to practise these things when you aren’t making art too for maximum impact. Adopting an approach of reverence and gratitude for the world around us can only lead to greater creativity. As well as aiding your digestion. 

If you’d like to listen to some relaxing sounds for meditation, mindfulness or to use while painting this is a favourite Youtube channel of this blog:

Featured

Gifts For Young Artists – What to Buy Creative Kids for Christmas

Get Your Kids Painting Like Only Kids Can

“All children are born artists, the problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” Pablo Picasso

Got creative kids? More often than not that means having to be pretty creative yourself to choose the right gifts for young artists this Christmas. Fortunately help is on hand to get you moving in the right festive direction.

1 Gifts For Young ArtistsArts and Crafts Supplies Kits for Kids

You really can’t beat these for the hours and hours of fun that can be had from them. We’ve all had the bad experience of buying kids really expensive presents that they lose interest in within a few days, if not before. That’s not the case with these kits though – they have 1500+ pieces including; pipe cleaners, pom poms, googly eyes, feathers, and beads. There are so many creative possibilities here to keep kids from 4 right up to 12 amused that these kits border on free childcare. See for yourself here:

https://amzn.to/3lPMoVQ

2 Gifts For Young Artists – An Acrylic Paint Set

Why not get them started on the good stuff early? These quick-drying non-toxic paints are perfect for kids who love to paint or want to start painting. They aren’t too bad for adult beginners either. They are for using on canvas, cardboard, wood, paper to mention but a few. They are easy to mix and have a very wide spectrum of colours to keep the boredom of creative kids at bay. 

Have a look here:

https://amzn.to/3gfexVp

3 Gifts For Young ArtistsKids Draw’ Big Book of Everything Manga

Manga has never been so popular with kids, and this book is an all-in-one collection of how-to-draw manga lessons. Your kids can learn to draw manga heads, faces, eyes, and bodies. There are also detailed lessons teaching them how to draw manga fantasy characters and monsters. There are over 1000 illustrations in this book, providing plenty of inspiration. This will keep them amused and off their phones for hours and hours.

https://amzn.to/3mQhAWi

4 Gifts For Young ArtistsWacom Intuos S, Bluetooth Pen Tablet, Wireless Graphic Tablet for Painting, Sketching and Photo Retouching

For older kids who have proved themselves to be super interested in art, and likely to stay the course you could invest in a wireless Graphic Tablet. It’s perfect for home, school or on the go. This tablet is among the best in its class for digital drawing and the 4096 pressure level stylus included allows for impressive precision. The bluetooth connectivity really takes things to a new level. You really can achieve an authentic looking hand-painted effect, as well as enhance existing photographs with the creative software which comes with it. For kids or teens interested in comic book art you can download Clip Studio Paint Pro which has everything that a young comic book or manga artist could need at this stage.

Find out more here:

https://amzn.to/2JUUcso

5 Gifts For Young Artists3D Printing Pens for kids 6-12

We’ll leave you with a particularly creative and fascinating idea – the 3D Printing Pen. You’d be forgiven for not having heard of these but they really do create physical entities using plastic filament which is shaped by using the pen. Then you leave it to dry, and you have a 3D representation straight from your mind into reality. 

Have a look here to check out these brilliant gadgets:

https://amzn.to/36LxnQD

If you want to go the whole way and get an actual mini 3D Printer it could be really worth the effort:

https://amzn.to/3qxiB87

If you enjoyed this article and found it useful please comment and follow. If you really like it click here to share easily and quickly on Twitter: https://ctt.ac/f4BMc

SEO Tips for Artists 2021 – Part 2

SEO Tips for Artists 2021

Welcome to Part 2 of our SEO Tips for Artists. In Part 1 we looked at meta descriptions, keywords, and backlinks. In this article we are going to get into some more crucial aspects of SEO in order to help you increase your traffic, online presence, and ultimately get eyes on your artworks. Again, much of the information here is relevant to any business, but as this is an art-focused blog it has been written specifically for artists.

Let’s jump straight into our SEO suggestions. 

1 SEO Tips – Create a Blog For Your Art Website 

Audible groans and moans. I’m not a writer you say, I’m an artist. I paint and take photographs, I don’t use words I prefer images and symbols. While that’s understandable, it’s so important at the moment that you craft a story for your business and your artworks because that’s what buyers are often looking for.

Writing a blog for your website regularly gives people another way to find you, your art and buy into your story and business. It can work tremendously well for search results and SEO. You don’t even always have to do it yourself, you can outsource it at a small cost. If you really must you can use Fiverr.com or the likes to pay people quite cheaply to write a blogpost for you. However we would recommend writing about your art and artistic lifestyle yourself to keep things authentic.

Many platforms, such as Shopify, have a blog section built in to your store package. Etsy also realise how valuable a blog can be, although you have to pay a monthly subscription to link your blog to your Etsy shop. A blog allows you to post articles about new artworks, collaborations with other artists, gallery events, as well as your ideas and inspiration for your art. You can then place a link on your article taking your reader directly to individual artworks or your homepage. This can actually become a useful backlink for your art website if it is on a separate platform, and especially if your blog has a decent Domain and Page Authority. 

Medium is a brilliant blogging platform which performs very well in search results. You can even monetise your blog articles on there and get paid while promoting your own art!

2 SEO Tips – Use Instagram Consistently

Instagram is arguably the best Social Networking site for Artists because it centres around sharing images and videos. 

What a lot of people don’t realise however is that Instagram (and other Social Media) also indirectly help your website rank higher in the search engines. Shares in particular, but also likes and comments on your Instagram posts signal search engines to rank your website higher. Unfortunately Google does not count your Social Media links in the same way it would other authority sites, but more often than not the sites that rank highest are the ones with the most social shares.

Although you can’t share links to your art site on your posts, you can put one link in your Instagram Bio so people can click back to your art shop. 

Top Tips for Instagram – To discover the best hashtags for your art niche find the artists in your niche with the highest followers and engagement and check what hashtags they are using. 

Cycle your hashtags so you aren’t overusing the same ones over and over. The Instagram search will give you autosuggestions of what hashtags to use and how many posts are using them. Try to have a mix of small, medium and large hashtags for maximum impact. While it may be tempting to use a hashtag like #abstractartist it has 4 million posts, which makes it very hard to stand out. It’s worth adding but along with other hashtags which have less competition and more chance of being found.

Try to post something art-related 1-3 times a day and up to 5 reels (Instagram’s 30 second videos) a week for maximum engagement and growth. Take a mostly soft sell approach (remind people of your brand/art without pushing products right in their face) with a post here and there about a painting you specifically want to sell. You could do a reel of your painting process – perhaps a time lapse – or show a painting you have recently sold in its new home. Some posts could be about an inspirational art quote or trip you took which will lead to a painting.

3 SEO Tips – Use More Header Tags

A header tag is simply a title or a subheading. The title of your page is the most important in terms of telling people what your page is about, and the place to put your focus keyword. It is called the H1 tag, but you should use a number of smaller headings throughout your page, H2, H3, H4 and so on. Not only is it good practise as a content writer to organise your ideas into subtopics in this way, it is really helpful for SEO as well.

You could do this by having a table of contents (like you would find in a book) summarising each section of a blog article or the sections of your website pages. You can optimise these header tags using well chosen keywords which relate to your page content and will help you rank. These tags help both Google and your audience to follow what your content is about. 

According to research, sites with 12-13 header tags rank for more featured snippets. Featured snippets are little boxes which are designed to give a very clear, concise description of what the site is about. Think of them as the search engine equivalent of the trailer of a movie. They are very useful and can entice people to click on your website from a Google search. See the example below.

SEO Tips – An Example of a Featured Snippet Based on the Search ‘How to Start an Art Business’

Header tags make your content easier to read, provide you advantages in the search engines, help you get more clicks, and help you use your keywords more effectively to rank higher. Well worth the effort! 

We’ll be back soon with Part 3 of our SEO Tips for Artists 2021! 

If this article has been valuable to you please share it on your favourite Social Network so we can keep writing these free articles.

This article contains affiliate links and we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click them.

SEO Tips for Artists 2021 – Increasing Online Visibility Part 1

SEO Tips are as important for artists as any other business, yet many artists know very little about increasing their online presence and are not taking advantage of the free organic traffic that Google can provide. The global pandemic has forced even some of the biggest physical stores of the need to sell online. If they finally are realising the need for online sales, isn’t it time you started thinking about SEO and the visibility of your art online?

These valuable SEO tips obviously apply to any business that aims to increase visibility online, but as this is an art-focused blog it has been written specifically with visual artists and photographers in mind.

Assuming that you have a website with plenty of professional photos of your work, here are some valuable techniques and strategies to get your art in front of a wider online audience.

1 SEO Tips for Artists – Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

It’s so important that you include keywords that people who are actually searching for art like yours would use in a search. The best way to do this is to use a free Keyword planner where you can enter words associated with your style e.g. abstract art and find how many people are searching for this keyword a month (volume), whether there is a lot of competition for this keyword, and how difficult it will be to get high in the search results (SEO difficulty). A free tool to use for this is https://h-supertools.com/ or you could sign up for Google Ads and start a campaign. You don’t have to go through with the ad campaign and can just use the Keyword Planner to discover the best keywords you can possibly rank for. This information is really useful (and free) because it comes directly from Google itself.

SEO tips for Keywords h-supertools.com results for Abstract Art

TOP TIP – there are some websites you will never be able to outrank e.g. Etsy, Amazon, eBay etc so you need to check the top results in a keyword search to see who ranks in the first page of Google. If the websites on the first page are ‘weaker’ sites – in other words they are fairly average websites that anyone could produce, and they have a low Domain Authority and Page Authority (both are rated out of 100) you should be able to easily outrank your competition and get to the top. If the SEO difficulty is less than 70 (also rated out of 100) you have a decent chance. If you write a better article than the existing ones, especially if you write a longer one (around 2000 words) you will most likely rank higher. Google loves long content and will most likely rank you higher because you appear more impressive and knowledgeable.

Install the extension Keywords Everywhere from the Google Chrome Web Store and you will get extra information from your searches, such as related keywords and the Domain Authority and Page Authority of the websites in your searches. Again this is invaluable information. You can also use Ubersuggest to give you extra information for your searches. 

2 SEO Tips for Artists – Meta Descriptions

Meta Descriptions are a summary of what your page is about, and a key indication for search engines and their users to understand the content of your site actually is. You will have seen them many times in Google searches, and probably made a decision to click or not to click based on them. It’s really important that you optimise these descriptions with keywords that people who are searching for art like yours would put into Google. Use the keywords you want to rank for in the first part of your title, and use them 2-3 times in your meta description as well. Only the first part of your meta description will appear in Google so make sure your most important keywords appear near the beginning of your meta description.

3 SEO Tips for Artists – Backlinks

Backlinks remain one of the best ways to rank your website in search engines. In fact, they are unavoidably crucial for shooting your art website up to the top. You want to try and get high quality links back to your website on authoritative sites in your particular art niche. These could be art blogs with a high Domain Authority, galleries, art journalists, art collectors, local shops, hotels and restaurants where you could display your art. The higher the Domain Authority the better as this link authority will transfer directly to your website. If you think about things are similar in real life – the more people recommend you and the more qualified these people are, the better it is for you. The same is true of Google – the more websites that link back to and the higher their Page and Domain Authority the better your site looks to Google, and the higher your rankings will be.

It isn’t easy to get fantastic backlinks. You have to do a lot of outreach, contacting as many authoritative art sites as possible in polite emails trying to provide value to them. You could mention other artists, galleries, blogs on your art website (perhaps on your website blog), then email them telling that you have mentioned their art, gallery etc. You have provided them a link and perhaps you could begin a business relationship that might eventually lead to them linking back to you. 

You could also do a guest post on an art blog or a related subject and then leave a link back to your site. Simply Google guest blogs for artists and see where you might write a guest blog to link to your own website. You could also do a podcast about a favourite art topic, in the form of an interview with another artist or art-related podcaster, and link back to your website. 

There are some amazing SEO paid tools out there to help with backlinks, generating relevant suggestions for websites as well as templates for emails, and none better than SEMrush. Although SEMrush is pricey the features you get are undeniably, brilliantly comprehensive. You can also find out all the keywords your competitors rank for and use them for your own site. Fortunately you can get a free trial for 14days to see if it will work for you at this link:

Hungry For New Backlinks?

We will return soon for more SEO Tips for Artists in Part Two!

This article contains affiliate links and we may make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click them.

Photos Transferred to Canvas – How to Use this Process in Your Abstract Art

Photos Transferred to Canvas ‘The Magic and Realism of Trees,’ by Orla Gilkeson

One of the most interesting and creative forms of contemporary abstract art around at the moment is Photo Transfer Art. This short article considers how you might make use of photos transferred to canvas (or wood) with links to useful videos from two artists who make great use of Photo Transfer Art in their work.

If you want to learn how to transfer an image (either a photo you have taken or one you have found) there are two main ways to do it. You can add paint layers afterwards or mix in other images to create an original piece of mixed media artwork. Both of these processes involve using a laser print of your image because the ink from an inkjet printer dissolves in water but the ink from a laser printer is fixed.

In terms of extra materials beyond the obvious painting materials, you will need an acrylic gel medium or PVA glue, olive oil or baby oil, a small sponge, and some water. You will need to start the day before as you need to leave the image to dry overnight.

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How to Get Your Photos Transferred to Canvas Directly

1 Start by using Photoshop or an equivalent platform to reverse your image to a mirror image. If you have never done this before there are plenty of tutorials online. You may wish to use a photograph you have taken yourself for authenticity. 

2 Print your image using a laser printer NOT an inkjet one. You may need to find a local printer for this.

3 Position your image onto your canvas or wooden board face down. Apply a thick layer of acrylic gel medium or PVA glue to your photograph. Smooth over the back of it ensuring your photograph is firmly fixed to the surface and then leave it overnight to dry.

4 On the next day use the small sponge or a gentle scouring pad to soak the paper on the back of image with water. Gently rub the back of the image until you have rubbed away all the paper. When you have rubbed it all away the photo will remain and will have transferred onto your surface. Please note that once the image dries again it may appear cloudy and unclear as a small layer of paper will always remain. To solve this, rub oil (olive oil/baby oil) over the image to get rid of the cloudiness. Depending on the size of the image this could be your standalone finished artwork in itself. Most artists would want to develop the work further by adding painted layers and other mixed media.

How to make Transparent Gel Sheets for Collage in Mixed Media Artwork

1 Again you need a laser print of your image (this time it can be the right way round or reversed – it doesn’t really matter)

You could use a found image from a glossy magazine also. 

2 Again paint a fairly thick layer of acrylic gel medium (or PVA glue) over the image and allow it to dry overnight. 

3 As before, you are going to soak the image/paper in water and carefully remove the paper behind the image with a sponge or equivalent. If it is still cloudy rub in a small amount of oil. You now have a transparent gel sheet/layer which you can position on any painting or mixed media artwork with more gel medium/ PVA glue.

It is definitely worth using a good quality gel like Daler Rowney matt acrylic gel medium, to help you get your photos transferred to canvas.

This Daler Rowney Acrylic Special Effects Set is a really excellent all-round purchase at a good price on Amazon. Or you can also pick up acrylic gels individually.

https://amzn.to/3f2AQgS

Photos transferred to canvas, or other surfaces, can really make your abstract art stand out and look contemporary. There are two brilliant time lapse videos of the process on Orla Gilkeson’s Youtube channel to help you visualise the process. You can see these at the following two links:

Another artist who uses photos transferred to canvas in his artworks really well is Stefan Heyer. You can find his fascinating paintings here:

www.stefanheyer.com

You now know how to successfully get your photos transferred to canvas!

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What is Abstract Art?

What is Abstract Art? From the Irish Sea Glimpses Collection by Orla Gilkeson https://orlagilkesonart.com/collections/original-paintings/products/irish-sea-glimpses-12

Guest Post by abstract artist Orla Gilkeson

What is Abstract Art?

Many of us have asked this complicated question. Artists, curators, art collectors consider it regularly. It may be that it is a question we can only really answer for ourselves. What is Abstract Art to me? I wanted to explore this for myself and give you a sense of what I think Abstract Art is.

I believe Art in all its forms seeks to open up a dialogue. To engage, excite and provoke. Abstract Art is no different in this regard, although it may feel a little more difficult to engage with initially. As far as I am concerned great art leaves us with a sense of mystery and uncertainty. It allows us to question and creates a safe place to do that without sermonising and telling us what we should believe.

It reminds me of a poem by Denise Levertov called ‘The Secret,’ which describes how ‘Two girls discover/the secret of life/in a sudden line of poetry,’ and relate this to Levertov through a third party. Levertov herself admits to not knowing this secret but loves the fact that by the time she writes the poem the girls will have forgotten the secret and the line, as well as the poem itself. This means they can rediscover it over and over again throughout their lives in various places. What the poet loves most of all is that these two girls assume such a secret exists. In my opinion abstract art in particular creates tension, suspense and a sense of unease which leads us to question the nature of art and life ourselves. It shows us that reality isn’t fixed and solid but in a state of constant change, not to mention the fact that it is always being redefined in the evolving fluidity of human interpretation.

Most art historians and critics agree that abstract art really started with Wassily Kandinsky. I might argue that it began thousands of years before with the symbolic mark making of our ancestors on cave walls. However for our purposes Kandinsky is an excellent reference point. Kandinsky was one of the first painters to leave representational art behind and embrace the idea of painting from the ‘soul’ or the unconscious mind. He was influenced by the ideas of Theosophy, which was really based on the integration of Eastern philosophies into Western ideas. Kandinsky’s work has undeniably spiritual undertones and he sought to make sure his art was an expression of primal emotion, much like a musician or composer. He thought of painting abstract art as being free of the need to be representational, and set out to ‘paint music.’ This approach has had a profound impact on abstract painting ever since.

I paint my subjects with an understanding that being representational or strictly ‘realistic,’ is actually abstract whether you realise it or not. How do you set out to paint a tree which is part of a whole forest in a realistic way? How do you ‘realistically’ paint a seascape or a sky which is in a state of constant change? Our moods and interpretations change as do the subjects around us. I feel it is much more realistic to try and capture the ‘essence’ of something even though it might seem like a just a flavour of the passing moment. Nothing is permanent, nothing stays the same, just like the light that illuminates it. 

For me, this is abstract art and the truest way that I can paint the world around me. It is the only way I know to even begin to try to answer the question, ‘What is Abstract Art?’

Orla Gilkeson

https://www.orlagilkesonart.com/

Japandi Style Home Decor 2021 – Must Have Items

You may have heard of the recent trend of ‘Japandi Style,’ a combination of Scandinavian and Japanese design which has been sweeping the Internet for some time now. Both of these styles are minimalistic in approach honouring decluttered spaces, and simple clean lines so as aid a Zen-like existence where everything is balanced. Nothing is excessive or showy, catering to basic necessity, allowing the essential beauty of things to shine in their simplicity. Although it might seem that these styles don’t necessarily have a lot in common, they actually marry well together due to the fact that they are essentially based on a natural and minimalistic approach.

It all sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it? But how do you get started? Luckily, we’d like to share are some ideas to help you begin your journey towards Japandi style this year.

Japandi Style Natural Wood Furniture with Built in Storage

The Japandi style favours natural, organic materials to help people feel connected with nature and the world. Wicker and bamboo are great for this, and they really create a natural feel and a light and airy atmosphere in a room. One of the easiest ways to create that effect is by having a seat with built in storage, allowing you to easily organise any clutter, but still keep important items on hand. You can see a two seater wicker wooden storage bench here:

https://amzn.to/3tcQyfF

Wicker Storage Two Seater

It’s also worth having good a look at this rattan cane and paulownia wood cabinet storage sideboard, which really shows off the essence of the naturally minimalistic Japandi Style:

https://amzn.to/36rJstJ

Rattan Cane and Wood Cabinet

Japandi Style Lighting

Although Japandi is a minimalistic style having a number of lights rather than just one is important to create the right atmosphere and mood. Bamboo lamps are perfect for this, although it’s probably best not to have more than three or four to give that sense of an uncluttered space.

For inspiration have a look at this Japanese Style Bamboo Pendant Light here:

https://amzn.to/3cmILG0

Bamboo Pendant Wicker Light

Or this Japandi Style solid wood wall lamp could be a lovely addition to your home:

https://amzn.to/36odHSA

Minimalist Japanese Style Wall Lamp

For courtyards, patios and porches this Japandi Style Frosted Glass Lantern is a great look:

https://amzn.to/2Ml3Vd1

Japanese Frosted Glass Lantern

Statement Armchairs and Sofas

A minimalist approach can still allow for a handful of statement pieces as long as you think along the lines of pared back essential quiet beauty and elegance. Japanese people often sit or kneel on the floor which might take some getting used to, so it might be best to go with more of a Scandi style here. Something with a minimalistic mid-century feel would be perfect.

Have a look at these lovely two seaters in grey:

https://amzn.to/3tiMomz

Grey Fabric Two Seater Sofa

Or these 2 or 3 seater sofas here:

https://amzn.to/3alQMYW

Honeypot Aurora Sofa

Another option could be one or two of these appealing armchairs:

https://amzn.to/3tbqul6

Dark Grey Fabric Armchair with Footstool

Oriental Style Wall Art

A great way to liven up your walls is with black and white minimalistic wall art. Three or four black framed pictures would be perfect. Alternatively you could have some tasteful nature scenes for that Zen experience. 

Here is an idea for you:

https://amzn.to/3r3ysuy

Japanese Wall Art Sea Off Satta

Or try this one:

https://amzn.to/36qQUW8

Japanese Painting Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

If you want a really big piece of wall art try here:

https://amzn.to/3pzWDR5

Japanese Carp Panoramic Canvas Art Print

This article contains affiliate links and we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you from these recommendations.

Mindfulness For Artists – 5 Creative Exercises to Help Make You More Productive

Mindfulness For Artists – Be more Productive and Creative

Mindfulness for artists is so important because it is an antidote to busyness. Often what we do is less important than how we do it. We all need to take the time to be reflective and aware of our various activities everyday, and this applies to artists as much as any other vocation. Being creative and producing worthy artworks should come from a place of awareness, reflection and mindfulness.

1 Head out for a solitary walk – Mindfulness For Artists

There are so many voices screaming for attention in most of our lives. Sometimes we need to learn to tune them out if we are to be creative and productive. It might seem counterproductive to go out walking instead of working but nothing could be further from the truth. The German Philosopher J.G. Hamann wrote, ‘When I rest my feet, my mind also ceases to function.’ 

Where you go is less important than how you go about it. It makes sense that if you are planning on painting a landscape or seascape that you go to similar scenes in Nature, but in general it may not matter. It’s best to try and clear your mind of the usual clutter. Walking is like meditation and an opportunity to be mindful. If you need a place to start you could think about the things you are grateful for in your life. Something about our feet moving along the ground helps us to feel more grounded. It also helps artists and photographers build up a bank of images, as if our minds are unconsciously shooting video or taking photographs. We need to really ‘see’ the world around us. As Mary Oliver put it, ‘the world offers itself to your imagination… announcing over and over your place in the family of things.’

2 Write a Timeline of the Decade You are in Right Now – Mindfulness For Artists

Some people recommend writing a timeline of your whole life up to this point, around 5000-20,000 words. While this is far too long for most of us the general idea is brilliant for creativity and productivity. Including the decade you are in, or an outline of where you are right now is enough. It needn’t take too long to have the desired effect. For example you could start like this; ‘In my thirties I feel…’ ‘The most significant events in the last year have been…’ ‘What drives me most at this point in my life is..’ ‘My attitude to my art right now is…’

Some thoughtful reflection on our present needs, desires and wishes helps us recover our sense of self and can serve as inspiration for what we want to do with our art. The Sufi mystic Rumi put it perfectly in these beautiful lines, ‘You already have the precious mixture that will make you well. Use it.’ An artist could substitute ‘you well,’ with ‘your art.’

3 Practise the ‘Deathbed Meditation’ – Mindfulness For Artists

This isn’t as morbid as it sounds. It’s a way of discovering what you really want in your heart of hearts. 

Find somewhere comfortable and quiet to sit. Close your eyes and imagine yourself on your deathbed surrounded by your loved ones. As you reflect back on your life consider what your biggest regrets are. What do you wish you had spent more time doing? What do you wish you had spent less time doing? Think specifically about your art. What do you wish you had done with your artistic gift? What should you have painted more of? What mediums and techniques would you like to have more of? What subjects should you have studied more of? How would you like your art to be remembered? Now open your eyes and starting noting down your answers to these questions. You should have plenty of material!

4 Try on Colours that You Never Wear – Mindfulness For Artists

Most of us have an inbuilt preference for certain colours and this is reflected in our fashion and paint choices. We might think that red is too ‘tacky,’ or that orange is too ‘loud’ or ‘gaudy.’ Even artists fall into this trap which is palette-limiting to say the least. Why not trying wearing a colour you never wear? Try on a mauve shirt or a lavender dress. People might even tell you it’s ‘your colour.’ The effect of this can renew your perspective entirely. It can impact your mind and it might even have you rethinking your palette and mindset. 

5 List 5 Encouraging Friends Who Back Your Art-Dreams – Mindfulness For Artists

Every artist needs to have people who mirror back their positive self beliefs. It can be a lonely life at times in front of a blank canvas. Think of at least 5 people (or more if you are very lucky!) who are supportive and positive about your art, and make positive steps to communicating with them regularly and cultivating the relationship. Friends like these are hard to find and they act like energy conduits for positivity and productivity, especially when inspiration is drying up.

For mindful and creative abstract art visit http://www.orlagilkesonart.com.

For some fantastic ideas to make you a better artist we 100% recommend reading this book. It is full of inspiring quotations, perspectives and suggestions:

https://amzn.to/2QoP8jq

SEO Tips for Bloggers 2021

SEO TIPS FOR BLOGGERS 2020

With so much talk of what doesn’t work on Google anymore, how can we plan for SEO going forward in 2021? As bloggers, we need to know how to optimise our content to rank highly in Google as much as ever. Yet so many bloggers don’t pay attention to SEO often due to ignorance, fear or disinterest.

Let’s cut through the fluff, and the nostalgic hankering after the good old days when ‘it was so much easier to rank,’ and carve out a somewhat smoother path for the year ahead.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO for short) has become a different animal since the mobile revolution. Not too long ago bloggers could get away with a substandard mobile version of their site, or worse relying on a clunky slow Desktop version for their mobile readers. These days most people are browsing on their mobile so it’s top priority for you to make sure that your platform has a speedy and up to date mobile version, and that the AMP feature is turned on or if necessary an app or plugin is added to your blog. And yes, the speed with which your blog loads is a contributing rank factor in the search engines. Not to mention maintaining the attention of would-be readers. Studies show if your blog takes more than two seconds to load you’ve already lost your reader. 

Dwell Time or Bounce Rate

The amount of time people spend on your site is one of a handful of crucial ranking factors for your website. The All-Seeing eye of Google is looking at your ‘bounce rate,’ as in how quickly people come out of your blog and return to their search results. This is good news for us bloggers though because we thrive on appealing to people who actually want to read a long article. We should in theory have readers engaged for longer provided our content is good. More on this later. 

So if your blog looks like a wet newspaper a Jack Russell just played with, it’s time to rethink or you just won’t rank as high as you otherwise could.  

CTR (Click Through Rate)

Another important ranking factor that Google uses to place your blog is your CTR. This is obvious when you think about it because Google wants to provide the most relevant results to a search query, and sites that people aren’t clicking through are sites that don’t provide enough relevance for searchers. If your blog ranks No.10 on Page 1 but more people are clicking through your site than whoever is at No.1, sooner or later Google will move your blog higher. You can see how this works hand in hand with dwell time and overall providing a better user experience.

Backlinks

Backlinks are just as important as ever to help optimise your blog. Domains that refer back to you, especially if they have high Page and Domain Authority are like money in the bank. Again we bloggers need to think about the importance of this for us. We need to reach out to reputable sites (dodgy backlinks could get you into trouble with Google) and try to get them to link back to us. In some cases that could definitely be a blogger or influencer within your own niche who has a similar audience. Why not include them in your blog and then contact them to let them know about the mention? 

That way you will be giving them something before you begin a relationship. They will probably be flattered and then you might go about politely asking for a link or a mention on their site. Maybe you will get ignored but if you don’t ask you don’t get. All of us bloggers had to start somewhere and some of us don’t mind helping each other out. This is where guest posting comes in. This involves writing a guest post for a blogger in your niche or a similar one, and earning backlinks, authority and new traffic as a result. One easy way to get started is to use this simple formula as a search term in Google: “keyword + guest post by” or “keyword + guest blogger.” If you write in the marketing niche then your keyword could be marketing blogs, and at the time of writing if you use the above formula the first result in Google is “35 Digital Marketing Blogs that Accept Guest Posts.”

Another way to reach out is to find an actual journalist who wants to write an article about a topic that you happen to be an expert in. How cool would it be if they mentioned you and your blog in their article? This can really bring quality traffic to your site and boost your rankings. The best way to do this is to head over to HARO or Help A Reporter Out and become a source for articles that reporters want to write. If you are really fortunate you could end up being featured in ‘The New York Times’ or ‘Time,’ Magazine!

Semrush’s Backlinking Tools

Consider the Priority of Video

Have you noticed that when you search in Google video results come up first? That’s because video is considered by Google to be priority content. Would you rather watch a 5 minute video ‘how to’ where you can see it all in front of you or read 1000s of words which may or may not be relevant? 

Bloggers need to be aware of the value of videos despite how much we like our words. Remember, Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world. I know what you are going to say – you blog because you would rather write than take centre stage.

You don’t have to feature yourself in the video. Why not consider scrolling through a new article or part of your blog and playing music behind it? You can use the screen recording app on your phone or desktop and stop at key pictures or headings in your blog to show what it’s really about. If your blog is a lifestyle one grab your phone and take videos related to your niche, not necessarily involving you. You knows you might find yourself itching to feature on the screen.

You can also link back to your blog from Youtube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and so on, and so on. The list is long and goes on and on. And on.

Where to Share Your Blog to Increase Your SEO Reach

We have all experienced something a little like this. You pen the best article known to humankind. Your hands shake in anticipation but somehow you bravely hit the publish button poised for total takeover and conquest of cyberspace. You hear an angelic fanfare in your head as you sit back, fold your arms and wait for the views to surge like the tides. 

And nothing whatsoever happens. Not even a like from that nice fellow with an embarrassing ton of followers who always likes your post. 

You need to spend around 50% of your blog-time writing great blogs and 50% of your blog-time promoting them. 

Here are some of the best places we have found to promote a blog, it isn’t meant to be exhaustive – like many things in life you just need to sign up and find out for yourself. Obviously some of these are niche-dependent and you need to treat them on a best fit basis. 

1 Ello is a great place to share your content if you are blogging about the artistic community and related subjects. This is a site for artists and fans of art to share posts and the engagement is very high. Art, Photography, Design, Architecture, Fashion, Lifestyle and many other categories are represented so there is a fairly high range.

2 Twitter is uniquely set up to facilitate blogs as it allows for short precise posts about specific topics.

3 Instagram is more useful than you might think, especially if you create videos for your blog and focus on images. You can add your link to your blog in your bio.

4 Facebook is good because you can join various niche groups on almost any topic and share links to your blog from time to time. (don’t spam too much though!)

5 Reddit is known as the front page of the Internet and you can join specific subreddits on almost any topic. Depending on the rules of each subreddit you can share links to your blogposts but be warned there are some very rude/committed people on there who react badly if they perceive you as spamming them!

6 Mix is the new version of StumbleUpon and and well set up to share blogposts on.

7 Medium is a site that curates content from the Internet and another blog friendly zone to freely enter. You can share your posts and they do have a lot of traffic.

8 Digg is also a site that curates content from around the Net. It’s useful because you can share your articles directly with them, meaning that you have a chance of being featured if they consider it newsworthy enough.

9 Pinterest is an option you simply can’t ignore. It’s a visual search engine that you can use to pique your audience’s attention, say with a picture or video from from your blog and an intriguing title. Pins can include a direct link to your blog so all you have to do is make your pin interesting enough to click through. Make sure you create plenty of boards which are similar to your niche to increase your reach. Pinterest pins last longer than any other Social Media posts – far longer than Instagram or Facebook which can get lost in the feed because they can be re-pinned over and over. You can often see Pinterest boards ranking in Google searches for years bringing in a steady supply of traffic for that board.

The thing to emphasise here is that you need to follow others, like, comment, share, and read other blogs to grow your following. Some people like to choose just one or two to focus on to give themselves a chance, rather than trying to post sporadically all over the Social Media Show. If we had to narrow it down to two as a blog about Art our money is on Pinterest and Ello. 

The Last Word Is CONTENT

The huge thing to take away from this article is that the best SEO Tip we can give is to write great content. The very successful writer Neil Gaiman once gave a speech which was later turned in to a book, called “Make Great Art.” The gist of it is that no matter what happens you must make great art. If your dog dies, make great art. If your wife leaves you make great art. You get the picture. This applies as much to blogging as anything. No matter what, write great content. Don’t spam people and try to cut corners. Don’t try to overstuff keywords into things. Write great content. Create value. Don’t try to hoodwink people. Write great content. Don’t try to create dodgy backlinks. Don’t try to duplicate your content. Write great content.

In the end the Almighty Google will reward you with rankings.

One of the best and comprehensive SEO books is worth a look here:

https://amzn.to/3rZsw7h

Grow your online visibility google.com, pub-8977115929966363, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0

5 Art Prints to Improve your Home Decor

Looking for thoughtful, artful ways to improve your home decor? Here are 5 carefully chosen art prints to start you heading in the right direction.

Der Morgenthau Plan by Anselm Kiefer

1 ‘Der Morgenthau Plan’ by Anselm Kiefer

Kiefer needs no introduction as he is considered by many to be among the greatest living artists today. This powerfully beautiful painting was created in 2010 but based on US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau’s idea to make Germany return to a country of agriculture so that she would not rearm again after the Second World War. Kiefer renders the outworking of this plan as blooming colourful flowers and pastoral beauty in a style reminiscent of Van Gogh. The painting is optimistic, bright and full of eye-catching colours. Perfect for artistically minded homeowners.

2 ‘Composition VIII’ by Wassily Kandinski

Composition VIII by Wassily Kandinski

The expressive shapes and colours of Kandinski’s work make for a real statement piece in any room. His attempts to render music and sound in his paintings are arresting and dramatic, brightening up any wall. This particular painting was composed in 1923 and explores the correlation between sound and colour and how a musician composing a song is comparable to a painter producing an artwork, themes for which he is now famous. For Kandinsky both colour and music possess transcendent qualities and the painting certainly has something of the ethereal about it.

You can buy a canvas wall art print here:

https://amzn.to/3n0h6wm

3 ‘The Tree of Life’ by Gustav Klimt

The Tree of Life by Gustav Klimt

This famous painting is actually the only landscape that Klimt painted during his golden period – a time in his career when he used oil painting techniques and gold paint to produce luxurious artworks. “The Tree of Life,’ has a sense of mythology, mystery and the bold persistence of life. It symbolises growth and reaching up to the sky while being rooted to the earth. And the vibrant colours are still straight forward to match in with.

You can a wall art print here:

https://amzn.to/392HnFp

4 ‘Irises,’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Irises by Van Gogh

Van Gogh painted this wonderful vibrant painting as part of his recovery in a mental hospital from irises in the hospital garden. Unlike some of his later work there is no sense of loss or tragedy here – it is bright, bold and resounding with life. Each of the irises is painted uniquely and meticulously and he himself called this painting ‘a lightning conductor for my illness,’ believing that he could stay sane by painting. When the painting was sold in 1987 it set a record for being the most expensive painting ever sold.

You can buy a giclee canvas print here:

https://amzn.to/3n5aBrP

5 ‘Ski Jacket,’ Peter Doig

Ski Jacket by Peter Doig

The lovely colours of this painting can’t fail to inspire and lift your mood. Doig has painted a number of snowscapes inspired by the colours in snow scenes painted by Claude Monet at the end of his life. If you look close enough at the painting you can see how awkward the skiers are because they are all beginners sliding around and trying to stay on their feet. Doig has compared this to painting at first you gradually try to get more and more control. It’s how we all learn to do anything and this painting reminds us to persevere through uncertainty to be better skiers or artists, or people.

This article contains affiliate links. We may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Thank you for reading. Please share if you like!

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