Monday, August 27, 2012

Painful Birth of a New Website

I just launched a new completely rebuilt website.

For some time I’ve envisioned a site I could use to manage my entire art inventory.  It had been getting more and more complicated to track paintings out at galleries and shows.  It had been almost impossible for collectors to find paintings of the appropriate size on my website.  It had been impossible to post multiple images of paintings (with and without frames).  My site just wasn’t scaling.

I imagined an “amazon-like” website with clickable filters to find paintings by size, subject, media, cost and/or location.

If figured that I have lots of experience given my high-tech background, and that I l could leverage this brave new outsourced world to find someone to efficiently (and economically) build me a new site.  In high-tech I’ve developed huge projects using teams from different countries.  How hard could it be to build a new website?  Trick is – I don’t have the same kind of budget in my art business that I’ve had in the past with venture capital backed startups.

Knowing how important it is to carefully document what one wants to build if you’re working with people who are far away and for whom English is a second language, I carefully specified what I wanted.  Then I put the project out to bid on, an outsourcing website that lets employers find contractors from around the world.

I had bids come in from literally everywhere – India, China, Africa, Russia.  At least 20 people replied to my post within 24 hours.  Wow I thought.  This might really work.

I interviewed and picked someone from St. Petersburg to do the site.  He got the new site half way built, but when I paid him for 50% of the work he apparently decided to cut and run.  He left the site in an unusable state, and I had to throw out all that work and start over.

On my second try, I again put it out to bid and got someone from Romania to build the site.  He really did a great job, but when he was 80% done he too cut and run.  Said he had an emergency come up, and he stopped replying to emails.  At least he left me with some working code, and I was smarter this time and had insisted up front that I’d only pay once it was done.

For the third phase I decided to work on it myself.  This is a big complicated site with lots of backend code do this the advanced filtering that I wanted.  I have a software background (somewhat dated at this point), but I’m happy to say that I was able to get in there and fix the worst of the problems.  Good news is that I proved to myself that I could figure it out and support the site.  Bad news – it was going to talk way too much of my time to get it launched.

Forth phase – back out to bid.  This time I figured I had a very specific list tasks I needed done, and this might be better suited for an odesk contractor.  I found someone in India who seemed to have a strong background, but once he started I realized that much of what I was doing was out of his league.  He fixed a few things, but there was still more to do.

So this last weekend I just buckled down to see if I could get this done myself.  Two very long days later, and I have the site launched.

That was a painful birth four months in the making.  It was much harder than I had imagined when I started, but I’m really thankful that I’m there now.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up this week J

You can find the new site at:

Check it out, and drop me a note if you find any problems or if you have some feedback.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

American River Paintings

Here are some of my paintings from my quest to seek out whitewater.

I painted right in the river to try to stay cool in the crazy temperatures that hovered close to 100 degrees.

 River Study II, 9x12

River Study V, 9x12

Great trip - lots to paint around Coloma, CA.  I'll have to go back when I'm less likely to melt while I'm there :-)

Monday, August 6, 2012

OK – that was a bit crazy

OK – that was a bit crazy.

I’d been itching to go hunt out some whitewater to paint.  I’d planned a trip into the Sierra foothills to paint the American River.  I was packed to go, but a last minute weather check showed it was going to be almost 100 degrees all week.

I went anyway.

Goes to show just how addictive painting can be. 

Good news is that my plan worked.  I literally stayed wet all day every day.  I just painted standing in the river (being careful not to get washed away).  Once the river started rising so quickly I had to make a mad dash to get out of there and climb back up the cliff I had precariously scrambled down.  The water flow is controlled by a dam release upstream, and the water was rising as it does each day around 10am to accommodate whitewater rafters.

In the end - no heat exhaustion.  I painted dawn to dusk (just breaking for an air-conditioned lunch spot midday), got lost in the painting, and had a great time.

I'll post some paintings from the trip soon ...