Acrylic Portrait, Allen Art Studio, Art Journal, John F. Allen, Portrait in Progress

As  I sit in my writing office/art studio, I can feel the electric tingle of excitement from starting a portrait! It has been about two or three years since I took on a portrait project and I was a bit nervous about the prospect of tackling one after being so long in hiatus.  However, I’m extremely excited nonetheless.

I will be sharing my progress here and on facebook as I go along.

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Here is the reference photo. This is my son at seven months old.

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I pulled the photo up on my monitor and did a free hand line sketch of it on canvas board.

From this point I’ll continue chronicling my progress in another blog entry/post later this week. I will provide more pics of my progress from laying in layers of pigment and watching this portrait take shape.

Until then, remember TBIYTC!!!


Using Social Media to Promote Your Artwork

Allen Art Studio, Art Business Tips, Artist reflection, Artists & Social Media, Building your Art Brand, John F. Allen

In today’s society, social media is an integral part of ours lives, whether we’d like to admit it our not. While some may not use Facebook or twitter to socialize with friends and family, that doesn’t stop it from being a very powerful business/promotional tool.

Most creative people tend to shy away from the business aspects of their art to begin with, so it’s no wonder that the prospects for many of them to latch onto social media are not great. Just as it is recommended that artists have business cards, a letterhead and a website, it’s also a very good idea to have Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts as well.

The visibility factor alone should sufficiently mute any argument against it from even the most old school minded artists. But alas, there are some not quite ready to embrace this “Brave New World” called social media. This article will outline reasons that adopting social media to your promotional toolbox is of great benefit and how you can get started!

Five Reasons to Use Social Media to Promote Your Artwork:

  • Marketing – To inform your audience and potential buyers of your work(s) and market your artwork/services to a large number of potential clients/buyers.  Also, many potential clients/buyers feel more comfortable with artists they can interact with (see reason #5).
  • Branding – In order to give your potential clients/buyers a look at why they should buy your work and what sets you apart from other artists. Building your brand is essential to establishing recognition and loyalty to your audience.
  • Stay informed – It’s very important for artists to keep themselves informed on the latest trends and cutting edge art techniques.
  • Networking – To reach out to service providers for art materials/supplies and to connect with other artists and artist groups.
  • Interacting with your clients/buyers – Social media is a great way interact with your audience and give them a glimpse into what goes into creating your artwork and who you are as an individual.

How to get started using social media to promote your artwork

The first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is to consider what your artistic goals are.

Question #1: Are you a hobbyist, a professional or a professional hobbyist?
Question #2: Where do you see yourself and your artwork in a years time? How about 5 years?

It is very beneficial to establish your artistic goals early on. This gives you a focus, so that you can take the actions necessary to reach your goals. Think about all that you can do to bring you that much closer to your artistic goals.

The second thing you should do is create a website. An artists’ website is primarily focused on images of their artwork. It is important that those images represent the best of you artwork and unique style.

What Creating and Maintaining an Artist’s Website Does:

  • Builds a recognizable brand
  • Creates a focus for your marketing efforts in order to drive traffic to you
  • Helps you to stand out in the crowd by having an online gallery to showcase your work
  • Allows you to develop a mailing list of people interested in your work and ready to buy it
  • Provides a built in vehicle to sell your artwork COMMISSION FREE!

But, it’s also very important that the images you publish can be readily found on internet search engines. How easily your images are found and how they are ranked on the internet is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Great ways to optimize your images is by labeling them with good filenames and relevant text surrounding the image. When adding an image to your website, it’s important to remember to specify an ‘alt’ attribute in the HTML image tag. The alt attribute comes into play for anyone who for some reason can’t see your image. The alt text should describe the contents of your image. A good way to look at creating alt text is to write it as though it were a caption for the image.

For example, say your image is a photo of the Statue of Liberty, your alt text would most likely be “Photograph of the Statue of Liberty by (your name). It’s relevant to distinguish to the visitor whether the image is a photograph or a painting/drawing and including your name establishes who gets credit for the image.

When putting images on a website the image filename is sometimes neglected as a means of allowing search engines to better understand your images. The filenames assigned by a digital camera may look something like: IMG050469.jpg. This is not very descriptive of the image itself so, a better filename might be “statue-of-liberty.jpg. As a rule of thumb you should keep your filename as short as possible.

Start a blog

Writing a blog and linking it to your website or using a service like WordPress where you can combine the two is a great way to increase your exposure as an artist. Creating consistent post is essential to maximize the potential benefit of having an art blog. Some artists complain that they aren’t writers or that they don’t have anything to blog about. All I can say is that if you are consistently creating new artwork, experimenting with new techniques and/or showing your work at galleries or art shows, then you have a lot to write about. Not only do you want to pontificate about your own artwork and events, but you might consider featuring other artists in guest blog posts, featuring posts about exhibitions/shows or national/local events and informative or tutorials/how to articles on the craft of creating artwork.

You can also post about select pieces and the artistic process that went into creating it, what the piece means to you or the complete story behind it. I would even recommend blog posts that explore your personal art philosophy or your artistic influences. Just about anything that you feel your fans might find interesting to read about.

Create a Facebook fan page for your artwork

In today’s society, a lot of people spend a great deal of time on Facebook. As a first step in using social media to promote your artwork is to create a Facebook presence. This makes it easier for people to share and talk about your artwork. Whenever possible, it is a good idea to offer your Facebook audience a little extra incentive by posting ‘exclusive’ content, not found on your website or blog. Your Facebook page is an excellent place to display your sketches and works-in-progress (WIP’s), this gives your audience the chance to feel more involved in your artistic process.

Create a Twitter account for your artwork

Just like a Facebook page, having a Twitter account is also very important to your use of social media. Sending tweets about your latest WIP’s, your upcoming shows/events or links to other websites you find interesting will keep you on the minds of your followers and remind them of why they’re following you to begin with.

Create a DeviantArt Profile

Because DeviantArt is one of the biggest art communities there is (with over 19 million members) that reason alone should be enough to prompt you to create a profile. Also, DeviantArt is that it’s extremely social in that it allows your audience to comment on your artwork and interact with other community members. Engaging the art community by meeting other artists is a great way to gain exposure.

Of course there  are plenty other social media venues out there. Here is a list of others I recommend that you explore:

As you create your social media accounts and begin to add content, you will see your following start to grow. It won’t happen overnight, so be patient. I can assure you that it will be worth the effort and worth the wait!


Copyright © 2013 John F. Allen & Allen Art Studio, All rights reserved.


Allen Art Studio, Artist reflection, John F. Allen

Good afternoon! I want to welcome you to Allen Art Studio! My name is John F. Allen and I’m the artist behind this blog/website.

I encourage you to take a look at my work and contact me if you’d like. I’m currently accepting commissions for portraits and I have some caricature services  availabilities for events throughout the remainder of the year.

This weekend I took an assessment of which side of my brain was most dominant. The results yielded that my brain is equally yoked. What this means is that I’m basically just as analytical as I am creative. I suppose I’m always felt that to be accurate, at least to some degree. That simple quiz sparked something inside of me that has been mostly dormant for the past few years.

PencilsPastel sticksColored PencilsAcrylic Paint

I have rediscovered my passion to create artwork!


I haven’t been in a total creative void. Between my last painting and drawing, I’ve managed to write a novel, a dozen short stories nearly one hundred blog posts and a handful of poems. If I’m completely honest with myself, I can admit that there has always been a bit of a struggle between my left and right brain. It very similar to the struggle that I’ve had with my desire to write and my desire to draw/paint.

What I’ve failed to realize until recently, is that there is no law which says that I can’t do both.

The time that I spent away from the drawing board and easel, I knew something was missing. Despite the fulfillment I get from my writing, I couldn’t escape the allure of the pencil and paintbrush. During the time I spent writing and promoting my novel, I still found time to sneak in a few drawings of the very characters I was writing about. I even played a small role in the finished cover to the novel as well.

Art is who I am, every bit as much as writing. To show you how difficult it would be to abandon my passion for art, the main character in my novel is a former art thief with a degree in art history, who now recovers stolen artwork for collectors.  My dual nature of expression is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that I can express myself through both visual arts and the written word more easily than some others, which gives me a double barreled outlet for my muse(s).

The curse is that for so long, those very same dual natures played tug of war with my soul and tricked me into believing that I could live and be happy without the other. That was where the analytical portion of my brain came into play. I tried to rationalize which one I would choose to pursue, while practically abandoning the other.

And that was the BIG lie I told myself…one or the other!

Now that I realize just how much I need both my artwork and my writing in my life, I am using that rational side of my brain to develop a way for them both to co-exist and work together for the greater good…my sanity!

So, as I make this perilous journey into the abyss that is my sometimes conflicted, Uber creative mind, I can take comfort in the fact that the road ahead will most certainly be one filled with excitement, adventure and wonderment. I am an artist…I am a writer…and I AM PROUD OF IT!