So here we are, still in the middle of the Corona virus lockdown. People are getting antsy now, wanting to get out and restart their lives and businesses before they are swallowed up in time, ruined financially, and forgotten. Artists certainly are no different, and that’s what I wanted to address here.

Have you thought about how you are going to face this continued shutdown and survive it? I’ve been giving a great deal of mind space about that and thought I’d share what I’m doing. I hope it resonates with and helps some other artists (or non-artists) who read this.

If you’ve read my March and April blog posts, you’ll know that I’ve been putting lots of ideas into how to move forward instead of lamenting over lost opportunities. There are so many more and different opportunities now! I believe the economy will boom after this is over, maybe incrementally rather than in a huge opened flood gate, but a rebound nonetheless. I believe people can’t wait to get out and do things again – fun things like going to art shows and spending a little money on items other than toilet paper, masks, and hand sanitizers. They may be hesitant to spend a whole lot of money at first. They will be looking for something fun to buy, that’s easily affordable but not an extravagant, yet is of high quality and value for the money spent. A non-necessity that’s a necessity to the psyche. And that’s where branding come into play.

As an artist recently coming out of a decade of inactivity, I’ve found myself having to re-establish my art career. One of the things I’ve done is create a brand for myself. We attended a couple of website seminars and learned how important it is to have a tagline, what makes it memorable, how it contributes to your branding, and how important it is to update and redesign your site periodically to keep it fresh and new. I made a tagline: ART THAT TAKES YOU THERE. It is short, pithy, and says exactly what my site is about when people first land on my home page. It states the goal of my art, which is to transport the viewer into the scenes I’ve created. It received so many rave reviews from other artist friends and the web designers giving the seminars that I had it registered as my trademark with the U.S. patent and trademark office. If you want to avoid the awful legal costs, you can do it yourself (which we did) but it takes a long time to jump through the hoops and can be very frustrating. Worth it in the end, though.

The second thing involved framing my original work to museum conservation standards, using 99% UV protection glass with no-glare properties, and 100% acid free materials, including rag suede mats. Suede mats colors are so saturated with richness that they truly make the art inside them pop in a way no other matting can. Because of the consistency of my style, my pastel medium, the velvety suede mats, and the museum quality framing, viewers should recognize my work before they see the signature on it or know whose booth space they are in. This is branding – instant recognition. All of this brings more value to the buyer. Why? Because that person will never have to worry about fading, and that includes the mats. That buyer will never have to be concerned about glare from windows or UV lighting. The glass is crystal clear, like the glass on protected paintings in museums. Whoever purchases an original painting of mine will never worry that acid spots from none-buffered mats or from none-acid foam core on the backing will appear on the work. It costs more to do this, but the buyer will know he or she has purchased a valuable work that is worth the price paid. The point is to brand my work as a highly valued, desirable addition to a home or office that will last for generations.

All that being said, what about the people who want something valuable, but can’t afford a four figure original painting? There are always limited edition prints. I used to do off-set lithography prints because that was the only option available for art reproductions up until the 1990s. At that time color-fast giclee on-demand printing was introduced! The quality, color saturation, and printing on mat rag paper was perfect for my pastel medium. So, I switched. They are more expensive than lithos, but still far less than an original.  In my recent product bag, I’ve added giclee reproductions printed on canvas, then stretched on wood frames like an oil painting. Easier and less expensive for buyers to frame to their own liking. Also added during this time of quiet will be enhanced canvas prints, where I will be bringing out highlights by applying appropriate acrylic paint to the canvas – little touches of originality and added dimension. These additions add labor cost to the canvas giclee prints, but create a product that’s unique and of higher value. The trade-off is in the framing costs to the consumer, not a point to be forgotten.

Lastly, as my brain continues getting ready for the boom, I’m thinking of the bread-and-butter items every artist needs to make a show a real financial success even without selling an original painting. I used to make and sell note cards, which filled that bill admirably. Alas, thanks to the age of the internet, cell phones, video face-time chats, and so many other smart technological innovations which blossomed during my decade of inactivity, barely anyone writes notes anymore. Here are some things I have done, ideas I’m in the middle of, and others I plan to implement: 1) creating ceramic coaster tiles with images from my art. They are gorgeous, and I can sell them for about the same price as a package of note cards. I can take high quality jpg images of vignettes from some of my favorite paintings long since sold or new ones in my inventory, and turn them into coasters or wall tiles. They make great home accessories or gift items. I had some made and will take them to my first show in August. 2) I am working out an agreement with a metal laser engraver to do line drawings of my most popular animal and bird notecard subjects to put on metal insulated drink cups. They can be personalized with the recipient’s name. He has a lucrative business selling these personalized cups, and has approached me to do the drawings and receive a royalty for each cup with my design on it. He has even agreed to supply some for me to sell at my shows. The details aren’t finalized yet, but I love this idea! Hoping I will have some of these for my show in August also. 3) Limited edition hanging Christmas ornaments with my art showcased in miniature gold or silver plated frames. I’ve been in touch with a company that makes these exclusive ornaments, and they are exquisite! Not your ordinary tree ornaments, but things of beauty one will hate to put away after the holidays. There is a minimum order involved, so I will do only one design a year, and make them limited to that run so that when they are gone, they’re gone! This way, they will be sought-after objects of value and still wonderful, affordable gifts for buyers or others on their gift lists.

Maybe you’re wondering what these things have to do with branding. Everything! I’m looking ahead to create art objects that are of the highest quality possible for anything I offer, yet diverse enough to fill  important gaps in my art product line. And, since I’m using my own art imagery, it’s still Art That Takes You There. In this age of covid-19, we can’t afford to stew in our own juices, but instead be ready when the lockdowns are lifted, and get out there!—-Signing off as JEAN CARTER KIMBLE ART — Art That Takes You There.



Here we are in April of 2020 in the midst of a world-wide Coronavirus pandemic. It seems the world has gone crazy with fear, panic, and hoarding. Our country and our economy have come to a virtual standstill. Only those businesses and services deemed “essential” are allowed to remain operational. Some examples are food and pharmacy retailers, medical services, construction, transportation, suppliers and manufacturers of machines, parts and equipment for all of the above.  As a result of this, businesses are failing and employees are finding themselves jobless as the country grinds to a halt.

 The panic is so wide-spread that many people are hoarding things that are essential to most of us, such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, anti-bacterial surface wipes, and even food items like chicken and bread. It seems Chicken Little is trying to outrun the sky falling in. In our few trips out to the stores during March, we couldn’t find toilet paper. Good thing we had bought a bulk package of it just prior to this collapse of common sense! We finally found chicken after three separate days, three trips to Winchester, and all the stores in Front Royal. While out, we saw people everywhere wearing face masks (which are now unavailable as well). Those who weren’t wearing masks looked empty or frightened. It looked like they thought the apocalypse was going to happen at any moment. But at the end of the day, we must remember what happened to Chicken Little. She spent all her time spreading panic and fear while the other chickens gathered seeds and made bread. In the end, the sky didn’t fall; the other chickens had plenty to eat and she had none…

Hey, didn’t I just write a book about that a couple of years ago? It’s called THE RICH, THE POOR, AND THE NAKED – Finding Peace out of Turmoil from the Lives of Twelve Biblical Women. You know what? Plagues and pandemics aren’t new; famine isn’t new; evil, cruelty, starvation, and turmoil aren’t new. All these things have happened since the beginning of time. Most of the Biblical women I wrote about faced such circumstances and had to make life-and-death decisions and make them quickly. Where did they find their strength in the face of such long odds of surviving? By putting their faith in none other than the God in heaven who made them. Now would be an excellent time for us to look to their examples.

Most of my artist friends are doing just that, as I am: creating inventory, adding new things to our product lines, writing more, getting paperwork in proper order, and so much more. In my case, I’m also redefining my purpose for art, and writing a new book.  All of us can use this time to prepare for the boom coming after the bust, and it will. This doesn’t have to be a time of fear and panic. We can regard it as a respite from the “busy-ness” of life as we reconnect with God, with loved ones, friends and neighbors, and with our purposes and callings.

This can be a time to cherish as we reconnect with what really matters, of finding peace out of turmoil. We’ve certainly been given the time to give it some thought and put those thoughts to action.

Personally, I’m excited about what is to come. I believe it will be a new beginning, a fresh new start for many of us artists who are using our time wisely. I’m excited about the prospect of shows crowded with potential customers, of creating new works for them, of working on another book. I see a whole new world of opportunities after an extended time of serious trouble in the land. For those who look, even those who’ve been knocked down, the possibilities could be endless. I believe it will be a wonderful time in our country to be an artist!



            It’s March, 2020, and time for my favorite art show, the Rappahannock River Waterfowl Show in White Stone VA. I love it because it’s in my home county where I grew up. It supports the local fire department. I went to school with the local organizers. They’ve worked hard to produce a top-notch show worthy of any of the national juried wildlife art shows I’ve participated in. It attracts the best wildlife artists, and as such, has been named one of the top ten attractions in the Southeast. Consequently, it attracts serious art collectors throughout Virginia and beyond. The tiny town of White Stone explodes with thousands of visitors every third weekend in March. They come to connect with artists, purchase art, and eat local seafood in one of Virginia’s most rural and beautiful areas on the shores of the Rappahannock River as it pours into the Chesapeake Bay. It is a “buying” kind of show!

I was in this show for over two decades before moving to the mountains in 2007. For most of those twenty-three years I lived only four miles away. Even after I moved, I went for two more years, because I had good friends to see and to stay with. So, last fall I made the decision to go back this spring after an absence of 11 years. I sent in my booth space fee. Jim designed and ordered new, updated business cards for me and a six foot banner. I had beautiful ceramic tile coasters made up with my paintings heat infused into them as a new item. And, I had a whole new body of work better than ever! The closer it got to “show time,” the more excited I got. I looked forward to renewing old friendships, reconnecting with former customers, and making new ones. I would relish the fragrance of salt air, eat baked rock fish and soft crab sandwiches, and savor the exhilaration of being back in my old stomping grounds of the Northern Neck.

Enter the coronavirus. Originating in China, it wasn’t long before it was world-wide. Over here in the eastern US, we felt protected by distance when it first appeared on the west coast. As it jumped to New York and Florida, I still felt life would go on as usual. But that nasty little covid-19 virus halted life as we’d known it, and created a new “normal.” It leaped state by state, finally entering Virginia in the north, then Virginia Beach, then suddenly in Harrisonburg, 55 miles down I-81 from me. The governor closed all schools K-12. He sent out warnings, then banned all gatherings of more than 100 people. Businesses began closing. Panicked customers stripped essential items and food from store shelves in a day. The W.H.O. declared covid-19 a pandemic, which made the stock market drop like a stone. The President declared a National Emergency. Suddenly, everything was being cancelled. That included my favorite art show.

Hope died that Jim and I would not be touched by this demon virus. We had done a lot to prepare for my show. Was it all for naught? Would the big May art show in Roanoke I’d applied for be cancelled as well? What show wouldn’t be? What was I doing this for? I admit to feeling very confused for a couple of days. And then, there was the precipitous fall on Wall Street. Fear. That’s when the discretionary income that people use to buy non-necessities like art gets tucked under the mattress instead. Similar to Black Monday in 1987 and the housing bust in 2008, the art market now could be in the doldrums for years. It was easy to wonder why I’d been doing art in the first place, and easier to it give up. I questioned if I should just stop painting altogether. These were dismaying thoughts!

So, what to do now? Although I was very disappointed at the show cancellation, and dismayed at the thought of others I’d applied to being cancelled, after a few days I felt strangely at peace inside.

Knowing the fluidity of the situation, Jim and I prayed that God would provide answers. We made a conscious decision to be proactive instead of reactive about how we responded to the circumstances. Most of all, we knew we must not let this time be a time of fear, but of confidence. Confidence, you ask? What could we have confidence in when the world is falling apart? Well, we know this pandemic will end, and we should be ready when it does. We know, because of our age, we need to make common sense adjustments in our routines to protect our health. We have confidence that there are reasons for everything that God has allowed to happen even if He didn’t instigate what’s happening.  We may not know them, but we also know our God will protect His children who trust in Him. Best of all, He has given us the blessing of time in the middle of a crisis! We must be the best stewards we can be of this precious commodity. Time to fall back and regroup. To concentrate on the things that matter. To look to Him for wisdom and guidance instead of giving in to panic. Love is liberating, so, we must use our time wisely to love, support, and connect with our families, and our friends and neighbors as best we can.  Jim and I must be good stewards of this valuable time.

Jim and I must be good stewards of the abilities and finances God has blessed us with as we seek to use these gifts for His purposes. We’ll use this lull to increase our efficiency and inventory. I determined I would not give up painting. God gave me the gift and expects me to use it. However, instead of increasing my inventory of large paintings, which I love to do, I’d concentrate on smaller pieces which would be more affordable. I plan to set up a streamlined bookkeeping system that inventories everything in its place. This is the perfect time. I’m researching limited edition Christmas ornaments of some of my paintings. And, I need to write more. Jim will continue tweaking my website, which is an on-going process anyway. we’ll add time-lapse photography videos of my painting process and some short teaching videos on pastels. This should increase my visibility on the internet. There is no shortage of things we can do to achieve better success in the future if we apply our due diligence to research, resources, and feasibility. We’ve talked about these things before, but now is the time to act. When March 2021 rolls around, we should be ready for a wonderful year ahead.

Fear is paralyzing. Fear is not of the Lord, but by the one who seeks to stop us from the Lord’s work. We might not be able to attend conferences or shows, or other gatherings we’d scheduled for March, but we have volunteered our time, through our church and privately, to help others in need. Helping others helps us realize our own blessings when we see those who are in deeper need.

It’s unsettling watching a metamorphosis in our society caused by a virus. But I have confidence in this time of crisis that we’ll come through the other side of it shining like beacons of light on a hilltop, as long as we keep our eyes on the things we can do instead of the things we can’t do. In this manner, we can all get through the corona virus pandemic!

And the Good News is…We’re All Cartoons!

I haven’t blogged in a long time, and that’s one of my mistakes. There have been plenty of reasons why, but no excuses.  It’s a big mistake bloggers shouldn’t make. It has made me feel like a failure.  Have you ever been in that situation?  Where there are mistakes you’ve made in your personal or professional life that have colored your outlook on yourself?  You can’t undo them, so you think of yourself as a failure no matter what your successes have been?

            Bear with me a moment and go back to my blog of April, 2017, entitled “In the Beginning…Cartoons??”  In that blog, I put forth my technique for transferring a pattern for a future painting onto my art paper.  I explained how I created a pattern first, blew it up on a grid, and then transferred it to my final paper as mistake-free and permanently as I could.  This helps avoid many unforeseen slip-ups.  Back in the day, as in Renaissance days, the system of enlarging via a grid system was called “cartooning.”  It was practiced by many of the great artists of that day who were painting much larger-than-life works and didn’t have a handy-dandy desktop projector.  Well, I didn’t either, so I cartooned my patterns.  I still do.

            By the time I’m through with my patterns, they are a mess!  Crisscrossed with horizontal and vertical grid lines, all kinds of numbers from the grid, pencil smudges, roughed in, sloppy looking shading scribbles, notes I’ve made to watch out for this or that, erasure marks; they often look as confusing as some sort of visual riddle.  Anyone else looking at them would see a disaster.  Sometimes, even I have a hard time deciphering them.   But somewhere hiding in there are good patterns waiting to be transferred. 

Once a pattern is applied to the final art paper, it’s just stark, flat outlines resembling the pages of a new coloring book.  Boring.  But what happens next is ah-mazing!  Color!  Little by little as I apply the color, a painting comes to life.  I follow my lines for the composition and shading I had planned out on the pattern.  Through color and shading or highlighting, the 3-D effects of great distances or close-up details of various objects take shape.   Color sets the stage, creates a mood, and transforms a mess into a masterpiece.  It was all done by previous design.

I think we, as humans are the same way.  We’re just patterns, cartoons.  No, not funny stuff to poke fun at, but imperfect patterns from which God crafts His masterpieces.  He makes the patterns He’s had in mind for us all along.  We mess it up with mistakes, smudges, confusion, trying to erase what we can’t undo.  Eventually, throughout our lives, He transfers us to clean paper and applies the color that will glorify Him through us.  Oh yeah, we’ve failed in so many ways, but we are not failures when He is in control of the color.  We are masterpieces, and we must get out of that mindset of defining ourselves by our past failures, when in reality we are turning into beautiful finished products. 

I wish I could claim this thought as an original of mine, but I can’t.  My Man Jim was having breakfast with a new friend this morning.  He told me afterwards that his friend, Randy, had asked him about my art and how I did it.  Jim was showing him my website and explaining the age-old “cartooning” technique as part of my creating process when Randy, in a flash of inspiration, exclaimed that we’re all like cartoons, destined to be something beautiful, but seeing and believing our messy patterns of failures instead.   I say kudos and many heartfelt thanks to Randy for his insight, which provided the thought material for this blog, something I very much needed to be jumpstarted back into doing!