The Wandering Artist Blog

“Not all those who wander are lost…” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

me and wolf 2007

Preparing for a New Life

Apologies for the lateness of this blog post. I have been working on this post for 3 days now. Every time I get started, I have to go do something else. I’m sure you know the drill. Our lives are completely turned upside down right now, so until things get smoothed out and into a more regular “routine” (if there is such a thing when you are traveling full time), I won’t be blogging regularly either. I hope you’ll stick with me just a little bit longer because the real fun is not far off!

I’ve actually spent the last 2 days working on the RV, and now my muscles and back are not very happy. Lol! Downsizing from a 1000 square foot house to a 300 square foot RV ain’t easy, but we are slowly making it happen.

We brought Duncan and Zuzu with us yesterday. It was Duncan’s first visit to his new home on wheels. After checking every nook and cranny, I am happy to report that the RV is Duncan approved! We were all completely exhausted last night, and Duncan shared some extra snuggles last night. He’s a sweet boy. He knows when his Mom is not feeling well. 💙

Duncan 032416 1

Besides continuing to work through our storage unit, moving furniture, preparing for a garage sale, and getting ready to sell my car…I’ve also been working on getting my Gyotaku (fish rubbing) works photographed, catalogued, and I am building a Gyotaku website. I have all of my available works photographed, and the large pieces are posted on my Facebook art page. You can go here to see what I have catalogued so far:
Gyotaku Art Sale! The available pieces are being sold framed only because I do not want to store them and there is just too much work to bring with me in the RV. If you are interested in any of these pieces, please message me on Facebook, or send me an email at Please remember that shipping framed art can get expensive, especially the larger ones.

trigger tropical framed

The above painting is one of the Gyotaku I have for sale. Most of the pieces available are framed in these barnwood frames, but a few are in black frames. All of the Gyotaku are marked down between 25% to 50%! This is a once-in-a-lifetime sale. I don’t plan on changing my life so radically again any time soon. Haha!

The process of changing our life from “stix and bricks” to full time RV living has been utterly exhausting. It is a slow process, but we have made huge progress and we’re finally seeing some slivers of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Yay! Our truck now has a hitch installed to pull the 5th wheel camper, but we are shopping for the sleeper to add to it. These are a few photos I have been using for reference. They show the possibilities of a sleeper area pretty well.

Tugger sleeper photos

A sleeper is required for us, because Duncan and Zuzu need a place to ride. The truck is big, but the cab is not big enough for 2 carriers (even if they are collapsable) plus the two of them and their beds. As you can see in the photos, it also serves as a mini camper for day trips. This will be especially convenient for trips where the full rig will be too large. Once we have a sleeper, I’ll share photos of our own.

As we get closer to our launch date, I’ll be sharing more of what our finished rig looks like. We have the individual components, the fifth wheel camper, the truck, and my 1966 Vintage VW Bug. We just haven’t put them all together yet.

RV with car

New truck 010516 2

Bug Headlight

Today was the first time the truck was actually backed up to the RV. Hubby was trying out the new fifth wheel hitch for height and hooking up the lights. I would certainly rather us take our time and make sure everything is done correctly, than be out on the road and have a mishap because we rushed through it. While hubby was working on the truck, I was putting our things away and doing some nesting. As much as I love to nest, doing it in a small space has its challenges! Even though some of it is tedious work, it has been fun starting the nesting process! It makes it all seem real!

The Need To Breathe

I don’t know about you, but I find that there is nothing better to chase away stress than a walk in nature. Plus I always find lots of inspiration there. With the mountain of changes going on in our lives, we have felt the need for a walk in Mother Nature even more sharply than ever before. Today we decided to take a drive, and then a walk and it has definitely worked its magic! I feel like a weight has been lifted off of me. We still have a ton of things to do, but taking a little time to just breathe was nothing short of necessary. Here’s a few things we saw on our walk.

Ducks 1 030516

The Lesser Scaups and Redback ducks are still here. I have worked all winter long at getting closer shots of these guys. It is obvious that they are used to being hunted. They start swimming away from me before I can even get 50 feet from shore! Every photo I get of them is of their backside. Talk about frustrating! I can’t blame them, though. It is sheer preservation that is driving that behavior.

We are still seeing other winter birds, too. The Goldfinches, Ceedar Waxwings, and Robins are still here. When those birds disappear I know it is full on Springtime. I can’t imagine that Springtime is far away now. Our temps will be in the mid 70’s this week. Call me crazy, but I will be sad to see the cooler days go. The prospect of hot, humid Florida days is not appealing to me. Of course, this year we will be heading out on the road. If we don’t like the weather where we are, we’ll just pull up stakes and go somewhere cooler!

Damselfly 030516

Although I was hoping to find a few dragonflies, I didn’t find any yet. I only found this lone damselfly lady laying eggs at the water’s edge. It looks more like primordial ooze than a lake, though. Yuck! Must be just what the damselfly wanted, though. She was busying herself with her egg laying and completely ignored us.

Zuzu 2 030516

We weren’t the only ones who needed some fresh air. Zuzu enjoyed the walk, too.

sunset on tree 030516

To finish the day, we sat a watched the last rays of the sun paint the bark of the trees. Good evening, Mother Nature. Thank you for another beautiful day.

I’ll have another blog post up by tomorrow evening. That one will be about the process I used to make the women’s wear line way back in the early 90’s.

In the Beginning

As I have been sorting through boxes and boxes of personal things, I’ve found photos that I had forgotten I had. Several of the photos are of my very first hand-painted clothing line. I began my professional art career by airbrushing. Most of my artist friends at the time were airbrushing in beach shops on the strip, so I was able to visit and watch them. I was lucky to be able to see some of the most famous airbrush artists ever to hold an airbrush in action! They were bigger than life, and kind enough to share some tips.

 Once I got up enough nerve, and money, I bought my own airbrush and practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I practiced until my hands ached! This was about the time that fabric paints were getting popular, so I incorporated fabric paints in my designs. The result was a series of wildlife designs for women, and they proved popular!

The first commercial account I won was a women’s boutique in the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA. I was beyond excited! It was great experience and set my course for the next few years.

Hand painted shirts NO1992 1

Two of my women’s dress shirt designs on display in New Orleans, LA.

Hand painted shirts NO1992 2

The most popular design was the giraffe. I can’t tell you how many of those giraffes I painted, but in a few years I was totally burnt out. As the boutiques were selling the pant suits, they would place orders by the dozen. I had up to 6 boutiques placing orders at the time! It was an early lesson to be careful what you wish for. Like most things in fashion, eventually the pant suits’ popularity died off. My Mom still has a few shirts and tops I painted back then, and they have held up surprisingly well! Thanks Mom for reminding me of the early days. 😉

Giraffe pantsuit 022816

OKeeffe Skull pantsuit 022816

Parrot pantsuit 022816

After the women’s clothing era, I branched out into pet portraits and eventually airbrushed in several beach shops. I’ll be sharing that leg of my artistic journey soon.

Hello and Big Changes

Duncan 1

First, let me start by introducing myself. I’m a Florida native, but have lived in many other states. My little family consists or me, my husband, my cat Duncan, and Zuzu our Schnoodle. From time to time we foster furry babies who need us. I love art, photography, and traveling. And I have a serious crush on my cat. My hubby and I recently sold our beach cottage to travel the US in our 42 foot fifth wheel that garages my recently acquired, vintage 1966 VW Bug. We are in the process of getting our Terrastar truck fitted with the necessary traveling and towing gear, and getting Luci (my Bug) street ready and safe to drive. I am super excited about the next leg of our journey in life and I am hoping to get good enough at this blog to bring you along with me.

Me and Nugget

While this blog will have lots of art related topics, it will also be about our life on the road and the adventures we find there. Because when it comes down to it, everything in life affects my art. Artistically, I have returned to painting on canvas after over a year away from the easel while we finished renovating and selling our beach cottage. That was a very long year and it is such a relief to be painting again. Painting, or creating, is like air to an artist. Without it we will cease to live. We might be breathing, but we are not really living. I’ve had several pet portraits come my way lately, and I’ll be continuing that subject with a portrait of our old man kitty, Orion, who passed away in December. We miss him terribly, and I think that a portrait of him will help our grieving process. If you would like to see the progress of this portrait, and more of my art, you can follow me on my art page on Facebook: Odessa Kelley Fine Art

Zuzu 1

The last couple of years have been an emotional rollercoaster full of stress. And as I count the days until we hit the road, I feel that stress melting away. Its funny how following your heart affects your entire body. For the last 16 years I have been over-tired and over-worked, like most Americans. (I cannot speak to other parts of the world.) I am looking forward to a life of joy and freedom! And I’ll be bringing you with me.

LBB from ad

From Original Art to Prints for Visual Artists

I have recently had several artist friends ask me questions about the process of getting prints and note cards made from their original artwork. Since my “day job” background is in Graphic Design with heavy experience in printing, it makes sense that they would come to me for this information. This got me thinking that this would make a good blog topic. So this blog post is for my artist friends who need the basic information for preparing art and digital files for printing. This post will not be about the philosophy of offering prints versus original art only. That is a whole post on it’s own, and not a topic I will approach lightly.

The Print-making Process

The Print-making process breaks down into 3 basic steps:

  1. Creating a digital file from original art
  2. Digital file manipulation (Color correction, DPI and file formats)
  3. Choosing a printing method (print at home, print on demand or offset printing)

Creating a Digital File

To begin the process, you will need to have a high resolution, color correct digital file made from your original art. There are two basic ways to do this.

Scan: If you have a decent flatbed scanner at home and some basic knowledge of file manipulation and color correction, you can attempt this method yourself, assuming you work in graphite, acrylics or any other medium that can tolerate face down on  on the glass of a flatbed scanner. If you are not familiar with this process you can have a someone do it for you or hire someone like a print company. Just make sure that whoever you choose is experienced with handling fine art! I have heard horror stories! Request your files on disc be set to 300 DPI in a TIFF format. (More on this later)

Photography: Photography is the method you will want if you work in soft pastels, sculpture or any other medium not suited for flatbed scanning. This is also a trickier method to get right! For this reason, if you are not a professional photographer, I suggest you hire one. Once again, make sure the photographer you hire is experienced with photographing artwork! Just because your friend takes fantastic portraits does NOT mean they know how to shoot artwork properly. If you care to tackle this on your own, there are a gazillion websites with how-to steps on photographing your work. Go for it!

Regardless of the method you choose, remember this: The quality of the final print is directly related to the quality of the digital file! In other words, garbage in = garbage out. Do your homework and find out what your options are locally. Shipping art is expensive and you run the risk of damage or worse, never getting your originals back. (Yes. I have heard of that happening.) Local is always the best option. It gives you more control over the process and helps the local economy.

Digital File Manipulation

I mentioned before that you need a 300 DPI, TIFF file for printing purposes. This is the print industry standard. However, today’s technology (POD) has figured out ways to print from lower resolution files. My advice is to stick to industry standards. The only time a lesser file size is warranted is the file size limits placed on POD for file upload.

300 DPI (resolution) – This is the ideal size for printing, no matter what printing method you choose. If you decide to use POD for your prints, you will have more print size options than a lower resolution. If you go with the traditional offset press method, 300 DPI is required. And don’t even think that a higher resolution will mean better quality. It doesn’t. In fact, anything higher than 300 DPI is a complete waste since the printing process doesn’t recognize anything higher than 300. A higher resolution just makes your file larger and harder to work with.

*If you choose a POD website and there is a limit to file size for upload, you can contact them via email for information on how to send your digital files to them as is, or how to reduce the file size to work for their needs.

Digital File Format – Industry standard uses TIFF files for printing purposes because TIFF files retain more information than JPEG and TIFFs do not lose  information with repeated saves. In my experience, the standard file format for POD is JPEG. There are technical reasons for this, but lets just leave it at process requirements.

Color Correction – This is the area that requires experience and a really good computer and computer monitor because your main goal is to get the digital file as close to the original art as possible. Color correction basics can be done with any computer, but if you are a stickler for color matching you will need a calibrated monitor and a higher level of experience. Be sure to find a good graphics person with color experience to hire for this.

Choosing a Print Method

Printing at Home – To print at home you will need more than a basic understanding of the things we have already talked about plus a decent printer (not an all-in-one) that takes archival inks and papers. Many photographers I know do their own printing and some artists as well. I have done this in the past, but I prefer to spend more time creating art than creating prints, so I use the Print on Demand option.

Print on Demand (POD) – Print on Demand has become the most popular option for many artists, mainly because it is less expensive than traditional (offset) printing. All you need is your digital art file and a computer. Upload your images based on their file requirements and you can order as few as one print at a time. Many POD sites also have subscription options which include an artist website and other benefits. A few of them are Imagekind, Redbubble, DeviantArt and Fine Art America. Each site has a specialty and different technological requirements. Check out the sites and choose the one that best fits you and your artistic style.

I have used Imagekind for prints in the past, but now use Fine Art America. I do not have my website through them, I only order prints. For note cards I use a local print company and Vistaprint. Vistaprint’s prices on note cards have come down and are now more competitive, but their quality is not where I am comfortable. Fine Art America has good quality note cards, but are to expensive for my retail prices. You will need to do the research and choose the options that fit your budget and quality requirements.

Offset Printing – Offset Printing is the traditional method of creating prints. This requires a high run, or number of prints, to be made at one time. It is also limited to printing in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) which limits the color options. It is possible to add spot colors to the run, but this adds to the price as well. It has been my experience that my bright blues in my original dulled considerably and I have seen this with all of the very bright colors. Because of the considerable expense and limited color palette, offset printing has fallen out of favor. It is still a good option for some artists, especially those with a retail outlet that sells in volume.

This is a lot to take in and believe it or not, this is just an overview of what is involved on the technical side. I have spent the last 20+ years as a freelance artist and 14 of those years in Graphic Design. I have seen a lot of changes due to the progression of technology and I am sure there will be more changes in the future. One thing that has not changed, is that people who are not in the graphics field expect miracles from those of us who work in it. The standards set by the industry are set for a reason. That reason is the equipment that we work with. No matter how talented a designer may be, they are limited by the technology being worked with and the files provided. This is why the scan or the photograph or your art is so important! The basis for a good print depends on that very first step.

I hope this has helped you understand the basics of creating your prints. If you have links or information to add, by all means feel free to comment!

Until next time…happy creating!

But She Had Wings

Since I have recently quit my day job, one that sucked every bit of creative life out of me, I have been rediscovering the highs and lows of the life of a freelance artist. For the past month I have restructured my daily schedule, tightened my budget, formed my business and social marketing plans and reclaimed my painting space at home. While these things were important and necessary, they did not do for me what one hour at the easel has done for me today. Because today I remembered who I am. With each stroke of brush on canvas I remembered why I get up every day. I am sure this sounds dramatic and let me assure you. It is!

My transformation began this morning when I shared an inspirational quote by Dean Jackson that got me thinking about art, life and the human spirit. Yes. Big thoughts indeed! Here’s the quote.

“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she had always been. But she had wings.”
– Dean Jackson

This caught my attention at first because I raise butterflies, have a butterfly garden and they are often my artistic subjects. But I have thought about this quote all day along with a few posts by some of my artist friends online. I added this comment about this quote.

“Once transformed you can never go back, so spread your wings and fly. Leave those behind who want you to remain unchanged and cannot see the beauty you have become!”

Appropriate for my situation since I have spent three years being kept in a box that made everyone around me comfortable and made me miserable. By quitting my job I not only found my wings, but I found my freedom. Freedom to succeed or fail. (I choose to succeed.) Freedom to express myself. Freedom to lose myself during the act of creation. Freedom to be who I really am.

That is why I dramatically changed today. Today I pushed through the walls of my chrysalis and stretched my wings to fly. I flew out of my box, never to be the same again no matter what those around me want.

All images are copyright protected, and may not be reproduced, copied, edited, published, transmitted, or downloaded in any way without my written permission. All artwork in this gallery is the original artwork of Odessa Kelley. All Rights Reserved.