Monday, 27 April 2015

Big Skies Little Planet. A commission (or two)

Quirky doodle art+paint spatter+landscapes+Nicola McLean
'Big skies, Little Planet commissioned illustrations

Back in June 2013, I came up with some quirky little illustrations that I called Big Skies, Little Planet painted on watercolour postcard and inspired by the wonder of the massive skies all around us up here in the far north. The timing happened to coincide with that year’s Summer of Colour blog hop so I designed one each week using the colour combinations for that particular week (if you are an artist and haven't yet taken part in Colour of Summer it starts again on 1st June this year and it's my favourite art challenge) 

'Spring Greens'  - commission

I listed them in my Etsy shop and a few sold, here and there. One particular customer purchased a couple then came back a few weeks later and purchased another two. Then a couple of weeks ago she contacted me to ask if I had any in portrait format and with specific colour schemes. I didn’t, because all the ones I had painted previously had been done in landscape and I haven't done any more of that style of art for a while (unless you count last year's Christmas card designs) so I offered to create a couple of bespoke illustrations for her based on a loose idea of hills and sheep with a green theme and hills and a loch with a blue and red theme.

'Moonlit loch' - commission

In other news, this is a little mini landscape I painted a few weeks ago inspired by a gorgeous sunset S captured one evening in  Melvich, the next village along from ours. I posted it on my Facebook page a while ago but hadn't mentioned it on my blog. It's available to purchase on Artfinder.

Floating on the sunset+mini landscape+impressionism+Sottish Loch+Sunset+Nicola McLean
'Floating on the sunset' - mini landscape in impasto acrylic

Talking of online sales, last week I mentioned that I sold my art on as well.  Well, I don't any more! Every single time I uploaded a painting, without exception, I got an email from their 'Help' team telling me it had been rejected because the sizing was wrong, I hadn't included a photo of the edges, there was a bit of background showing on the main image which must only be the painting itself, and most recently because I had included my watermark and wasn't allowed to. Sheeesh.

sunset+colourful+vibrant+impasto+texture+Scottish+Loch+Melvich+Nicola McLean
'Floating on the sunset' 

After receiving an email with yet another rejection reason in it, I fired off a response saying that no artist wants to spend so much time editing and resizing photos when they'd rather be painting and that with other online galleries you could just upload the photos (with watermark) and hey presto the artwork was instantly available for sale. I mentioned that I wished I'd never paid for the gold membership because all the restrictions made me not want to bother trying to sell art via their website any more but that I suspected I wouldn't get a refund and would just have to suck it up.  

Much to my surprise, and all credit to their customer service, they replied advising that they had processed a refund and I would revert back to the free silver membership which they could also close if I decided I no longer wanted to use their website at all. I thanked them for the refund and closed the account as I know I wouldn't use it given how hard it seems to be to get the photos of the artwork right!

sunset+colourful+vibrant+impasto+texture+Scottish+Loch+Melvich+Nicola McLean
'Floating on the sunset'

Strangely just a couple of days later I received an email from Artfinder advising me to remove the watermark from my paintings as they had found it 'put buyers off'. Hmmm. Funny that. I'm not sure, if I was buying art online, that a watermark would stop me making the purchase and and call me suspicious but it's a little weird that they sent that just after I held them up in my email as an example of a website that didn't mind a watermark. Are they run by the same company or did Artgallery snitch to Artfinder about my wanton use of watermarks? I guess I'll never know, but I do know I spent the best part of a day going through every photo of every painting I've got on Artfinder and removing the watermark after all (when I should've been painting!)

Anyway, it's done now and they do a great job of getting your art out there online so I'm happy to keep using them. That's all my art and my moans for this blog. I don't normally blog twice on one week but I have a brand new timelapse video of a brand new subject matter that I'm very excited about so, if you're curious, do pop back later in the week if you'd like to see what it is. 


  1. that's weird about the watermark. i see it all the time. how else are you supposed to protect your work? glad you got a refund!!

  2. oh, this is so recognizable! I have the same thing with the site that I put my art on before I got my own Weebly website. When I returned from Australia I decided to put new work on my old website, and right away I received an email that the picture wasn't good enough (a small shadow on the side....). I understand that the pictures need to be good quality, but bitching about minimal details like that is just plain annoying. They should loosen up a bit. I love your cute new big skies cards!

  3. Ooh, I can not wait to see that Nic!! I haven't bothered with online sales places because it seems it's more hassle than it's worth. I just try to direct people to my Website. Honestly I have found Facebook to be the best place to get it out there. I gave up on Etsy too. Like you, there is only so much time I can spend on marketing, otherwise I'm at risk of having nothing to market at all! I always loved your 'Big Skies, Little Planet' series. And this are an adorable addition! :0)

  4. Hi Nic, 24 000 miles and six weeks later, I'm back!

    Blimey! you've been busy, Nic. I'll try to catch up with everyone soonest!!

  5. That does sound a bit strange, and what a shame they make such a fuss. I totally agree with you, a watermark shouldn't put buyers off, and I don't think it does, in most of cases. Especially one that is discreet and not blocking any of the details of the painting. It's the only way to protect your photos from being misused without any credits, as happens, unfortunately, far too often, even if it's out of ignorance. That together with the size and resolution. If they ask you not to put a watermark on, do they at least have some protection in place that prevents your photo from being downloadable or pinnable? In my experience, even photos uploaded on sites where you can choose the settings to prevent downloads, once they're pinned on Pinterest, they can be downloaded without problem.
    Apart from that, it's always interesting to read about the different selling sites you're using, as it's something I want to try out too in the future, near or far. So I'm always glad to hear about different options and experiences.
    Love your sunset! And those illustratons are so sweet.

  6. You wanton wayward watermark wielder! (Sorry,)

    That's all so strange. I wouldn't NOT expect a watermark. Artists want to prevent people from stealing their images, right?

    Great new commissioned "big skies little planet" paintings. And the mini sunset is gorgeous.


Your comments always colour me happy! Thank you for popping by.


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