Friday, February 27, 2015


Artwork by Tsuneo Sanda 
Do you remember where you were when that first Star Trek Episode ran on September 8, 1966?

Perhaps you're too young, but I do. I was in the Lanai of my family's house in Hawaii, and very excited.

My older brother and I had argued decidedly with our father for the right to watch this new show. Dad thought Science Fiction was pretty much a waste of time. Of course he had other things on his mind, him being an Army officer and it being the middle of the Vietnam war.

For the next 2 1/2 years my brother and I watched that show with rapt attention. Few shows "transported" me such as this one, and yes that's a pun. Books had done that, but this show, at this time, was painting a very big picture of life that I had never dreamed of before. And then there was that logical character Mr. Spock. I found him a refreshing and funny change from the high emotions of the decade at the time. I simply loved him.

I have long felt that artists are the dreamers that dream future realities that science runs hard to catch up with and produce. Star Trek gave us a picture of many things that have now come into being.  Instant wireless communication, computer tablets, computers in general, and a sense of space and bigness, and living in peace with many types of beings and species. It was a great picture of life and one that only got better with Star Trek the Next Generation. The medium was not paint, but it was a moving and mind stretching weekly panorama. The best of Science and Art for me. I shall miss Leonard and Mr. Spock, as apparently will millions of others.

Keep dreaming those dreams all you artists,  this mission too is ours:

 "...To explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no man has gone before."  

Note: Image artwork by Tsuneo Sanda

Friday, February 20, 2015


My Paintings on Merchandise
Well, I don't know. I suppose its because its a great way to get your art out there and known, as well as make some extra cash. We have great examples out there in other forms. Movie merchandise. Have you ever bought a Star Wars item? Performers and musicians merchandise, ever bought a T-shirt from your favorite band?

Okay, don't hate me yet, just read on.......

We image artists have been able to deliver quality printed artwork for many years now thanks to sites like Fine Art America Online and others, but why stop there?

These days its easier than ever for painters, photographers and other visual artists to create merchandise thanks to online services like Redbubble, Zazzle, Cafe Press, and many others. And don't think 3-D artists can't do it too. I know one potter who is selling beautiful note cards with images of her pottery pieces, and a sculptor can do the same. Why not? Its great paid for promotion for your work, and if someone can't afford the larger piece or they don't have room for it, they can at least acquire a small memento of it and help promote the work! I recently spoke to another painter who had a major merchandising activity on a few of these sites, and I was astounded at the profitable volume she's been doing.

Oh, I know many artists frown on this sort of thing, but I just think we have to do all we can to make our works known. Yes, I know images sometimes get stolen when you post them on line. It happens, that's just a fact of life these days. Don't let it stop you from getting your work out there, its not doing a lot for you sitting in your studio or image files is it?

Don't get mad yet, keep reading.........

A very wise successful painter once told me. When you're at a show, don't hand out business cards or brochures with your art printed on them. Make small pieces to sell like note cards, small prints, etc. and let them help fund your advertising. Make sure your website and contact information is on those pieces so they can find you again. I learned this lesson even more acutely when I helped a friend of mine make a bunch of small prints of her originals just before a show. She had only her original paintings in the show, and because of the show's location, I thought small prints would be good to have. Well, one customer who had little money bought several small prints. Several years later, that same customer, who now had much different financial circumstances, commissioned 8 large originals from my friend!  Wow! Never presume that someone might not remember you if you treat them well and give them something they can have and afford.

Personally I've saved up sometimes for years for an original piece. I might not tell anyone, but I keep that note card or small image in my files and circle that thing like a hawk to see if anyone else snatches it. If they do they do, but I've often surprised a fellow artist who didn't even know I was looking!

Another tip is to not presume what might be popular. One of my paintings that I wasn't overly happy with, I added to a line of merchandise. It turned out to be one of my best selling images! So unless you really personally hate it,  just don't assume anything. People often have surprising tastes, and our tastes aren't all the same.

Okay, this MAY not be for everyone, and of course what is most important is to keep producing art and increasing your skills, then produce more art, and get it out there to be seen. I just want you to think about it, and the importance of making your art known as broadly as possible.

The world needs more art, and artists need to thrive. The biggest brands don't use just one or two outlets. Coke doesn't sell its merchandise in a single store, and in my opinion neither should artists.

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Document everything digitally as soon as its done. Take quality scans and photographs, or have them done. Never sell the copyrights to an original unless that is purchased for additional money, but even at that I suggest you keep the copyrights to all your own work if at all possible. One caution though is not to argue with a collector about this. If they want the copyright, great, just make sure you've priced the work appropriately for that.

2) If you are worried about reproduction work competing with your unsold originals, then start making merchandise from images of sold works only.

3) Stay organized or get help doing so. Keep well cataloged files of your images, descriptions and testimonials etc. You will use these over and over.

4) Lastly, don't be afraid to promote other artists as well through affiliate links and social network sharing of things you like. I know this can push some people's buttons, but I sell more of my own work when I also promote other artists, and frankly, we need to promote art in general a lot more to keep public awareness and goodwill high.

5) Have fun! Oh, and please share this post for me.

©2015 Michele A Ross

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Throwback Thursday- MONTANA BLACKFOOT WARRIOR Drawing

Drawing of Blackfoot Warrior I did when I was 11
Well this one does go way, way,back.

I tried really hard to read the date on the bottom of the scan, but I just cannot make it out. I've lost track of the original drawing.

I believe I drew this when I was about 11 or 12 years old. The title on it says "Eagle Calf, Montana Blackfoot Indian"

I don't know where I got the reference for it, most likely a book, or novel I was reading at the time. I remember being very enthralled with making this drawing, as I was so interested in Native American culture. Perhaps because I lived so long away from the American Mainland.

Little did I know back then that I would later meet and have friends who are members of the Montana Blackfoot. That a mentor of mine would be someone who lived with them, and that I myself would marry a member of the Cherokee Nation.

Not bad for a little blue-eyed white girl born in Asia. - Michele

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



As of February 19th it will be the "Year of the Sheep" or the Ram, or the Goat depending on where you look it up.

When I was a girl in Hawaii, it was one of the most magical celebrations of the year! Dragon dances, red banners and ribbons everywhere, firecrackers, and food. Oh the Food!! It was always a good time.

I now live in the American Southwest, in Las Vegas, Nevada which is known to Hawaiian's as "The 9th Island". That's another story, but Las Vegas has the largest population of Hawaiians outside of Hawaii. It is also a popular destination for many of Chinese descent.  So, in honor of  my present location I've given you an image of a watercolor painting I did of Nevada's state animal, the Desert Bighorn Sheep.

Happy New Year my friends!! Xin Nian Kuai Le ! Gong Xi Fa Cai. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015


Me hanging with Abe in 2009 at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.

Monday Feb 16 is President's Day here in the USA.
Its an odd holiday isn't it?  We used to celebrate Washington and Lincoln's Birthday's separately, and now that's all rolled into one. And what happened to Jefferson? He was the author of the Constitution after all.

Each US president has taken the following Oath of office.:

 "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

That is their job and what they are sworn to do. This is important to me as an artist and a citizen, because that document was written to protect our right to pursue our own dreams and happiness. Art is a big part of my happiness, and it seems I'm not alone.

A watercolor painting by Ulysses S. Grant, 8th  US President
Oil painting by Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Did you know that there have been several presidents who painted? Ulysses S. Grant painted  watercolors. The esteemed Civil War Union general and 18th president seems to have had a head start in the art world relative to his fellow president-painters. In 1840, when he was as young as 18, Grant had already completed a watercolor landscape as a gift for Kate Lowe, his girlfriend at the time. Upon arriving at West Point Academy for cadet training, the future military hero more formally studied painting under Romantic artist Robert Walter Weir. As president, he took pride in his ability not only to command armies, but to create art as well.
Dwight Eisenhower also painted.  Eisenhower, already having served as a soldier and the president of Columbia University in his time before assuming the United States presidency, came to painting later in life than Grant. While observing Thomas E. Stephens painting a portrait of his wife, Mamie, he was struck with curiosity, but not necessarily any desire to emulate the artist’s work. When Stephens optimistically sent the Columbia University president a complete painting kit of his own, Eisenhower enjoyed the challenge of experimentation, but remained unconvinced that he had the innate skill necessary to make it as a painter. Not until Eisenhower was 58 years old, Chief of Staff of the Army, and influenced by his good friend and fellow politician Winston Churchill—an avid painter himself—did he take up the hobby seriously.

In addition to Grant and Eisenhower, both Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush have taken brush and paint artistically.  And of course it is relatively well known that our 3rd President, Thomas Jefferson was an architect as demonstrated by his primary residence, the beautiful Monticello .
Jefferson's Monticello in Virginia

Many men of power have had artistic careers or pastimes over the centuries. It is an activity that we all need and which balances and stimulates the intellect in my opinion.

For me, it is the "stuff of life"!

- Michele

Friday, February 13, 2015

VALENTINE'S DAY- The Bloody Truth

Well, not really.
I just want to wish everyone a very HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

However, if you want to read the bloody truth you can do so here .

Despite the bloody history, I think its wonderful that we've turned it in to a celebration of love. I'm fortunate to have my own long time Valentine who brings me anthurium flowers like the ones in my painting here. If you don't have your own Valentine this year, just go find someone to do something nice for. It can be anyone, a child, an elderly person, or just a lonely friend. Just do it,  it will brighten your day, and theirs and that is a big deal!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

HAWAIIAN TRUMPETS - Throwback Thursday

HAWAIIAN TRUMPETS- Watercolor (Sold)

This goes back to 2002, and my 2nd re-visit to the Big Island of Hawaii.

I love  Brugmansia, also known as Angel's Trumpets. They grow all over the islands and can get quite tall. As we were driving down to Kealakekua Bay one morning, we parked near a lava wall that had a big bunch of these growing beside it. I just had to paint them.

In my walks among the neighborhoods on the island, I've also seen these things grow as tall as large trees. They fascinate me. A poisonous yet beautiful plant with such elegant blooms.

As I recall, this little watercolor sold in just a few days after I listed it for sale, though prints can still be obtained. I think I'll have to paint some more sometime, they are so beautiful.


Sir Richard Branson and ART

Sir Richard Branson in person at a conference in Las Vegas
Why does an artist and art promoter attend a seminar that trains people how to accomplish Private Label Branding and sell things online?  Well, I think you can guess.

Its a branding and marketing thing.

As artists WE are each of us our own brand, and though there are many far more expert than me,  I have the determination to help myself and other artists be better promoters, marketers and sales people of our own work.

And so, I started building brands of physical products online to augment not only my income but to help me learn more about the online marketing of art. Then for the 3rd time in time in the last year I attended a conference that has one of the finest gatherings of expert teachers of online traffic marketing for shall we say, the less experienced and nerdy. I felt like Alice stepping through the looking glass, and discovering a whole new world out there.

There is hardly a more recognized personal brand than Branson and his Virgin empire. He is the face of his own empire and someone who backs it up with some of the most adventurous and outrageous public relations capers in history. He is a force and power all his own.

This last Saturday I got to sit in a room with 4,000 other marketing geeks and geek aspirants and listen to Sir Richard tell his unique and fascinating story. He was humble, gracious, and unassuming. One could not forget however, the fact that this very identifiable person commands a business, marketing and philanthropic empire of his own making. Branding and Public Relations has been his particular stock and trade, and of course, delivering  a better service and client/customer experience than most. I mean.. have you flown on Virgin?

There was certainly plenty of food for thought on how we artists can better market, promote and serve our own clientele and collectors. Yes, plenty of ideas there.

For a 8 minute clip of part of  Branson's click here :  Branson in Las Vegas Feb 7 2015