The Time for Art

The Time for Art…

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The Time for Art

I regularly write new articles for members of our four wonderful art groups on Facebook, The Artists Exchange, The Artist Hangout, The Artists Directory, and The Artists Lounge, and this week, I will be sharing some hints, tips, practical advice and apps that will hopefully, inspire you to carry on creating art through this difficult time.

A really long year...

Well, the past couple of weeks have certainly been a very long year for all of us. I probably don’t need to point out that the world even just a few weeks ago was a very different place than it is today and there is little doubt that we will see even more change in the weeks, months, and maybe even the next couple of years ahead. No one really knows right now but it feels so important to look towards the future in a positive light.

The art world is no stranger to difficult times, indeed, art history has taught us that artists have had to face many difficult times over many centuries. Things at the moment are very difficult for most, if not all working artists, the challenges we face today cannot be solved overnight, but if we look back at art history we will notice that normality eventually makes a return, it’s not always the normality we are used too, but any normality would be welcome right now.  

Right now we should lookout for, and embrace anchors of normality wherever we can and as artists, come together and lend support. That support doesn’t at all have to be monetary, a listening ear, some imparted knowledge and letting those who are alone know that we haven’t forgotten about them. That’s a mantra I have tried to convey on this site over the past five or six years of writing these articles, artists supporting artists and coming together is going to be even more vital over the coming weeks and months.

My mission, at least as often as I am able, will be to offer an anchor of normality by continuing to pass on many of the nuggets of learning I have picked up over the past thirty-something years of attempting to sell my own doodles. Some of that information might just help you to become a better and stronger artist at the end of this, some of those nuggets you might already have heard and indeed tried but throwing wisdom into a collective pot to support the independent creative sector has never felt so important.

So, over the coming weeks and months I will try my best to provide some kind of anchor of normality, just as I have been doing over these past years. I promise not to use the current crisis as a means to climb some search engine optimisation ladder, there are many out there already trying to do that right now. The purpose of this website today is no different from its purpose yesterday or the day it started, and the purpose is to support independent visual artists and creatives in any way I can.

As always, if there are any burning questions you want me to cover, reach out to me in the comments and let me know. I must confess though, I have been a little slow to respond to messages lately, I’m still recovering from the whole kidney stone debacle, allegedly I am due another round of surgery next week to remove the stent from the kidney, although my inner realist tells me that I and the stent might be pals for a while longer, the Doctor is convinced it is still going ahead. I must admit to being slightly nervous now we are officially in lockdown in the UK. If you have sent messages and I haven’t as yet replied, I will as soon as I can, I discovered that naps really are essential to the healing process, so bear with!

There is little doubt that the creative sector is finding life tough at the moment, and I know that for many artists they will be thinking about how they will manage to keep going through this, some might be thinking that now is the time to give up completely. It’s not. This isn’t the art world’s first rodeo with a crisis and what it needs is artists that will help to nurse the sector back to its normal self and provide the world with an escape. In histories darkest hours, there has always been art.

So this week, I am going to throw a few ideas forward so that you can begin to develop a strategy ahead of whatever the new normal will eventually look like.

adrift under a glowing sky art by Mark Taylor
Adrift Under A Glowing Sky by Mark Taylor - Available for home delivery now!


We are told repeatedly that a formal arts education is the best way to step on the ladder to the art world, and I can’t really disagree if that’s your thing, but it is not always necessary, the art world isn’t one market, it is made up of micro-markets and niches and not of all of them set the admission price of holding a formal art education.

Learning about those markets and where you and your work have a place is the smartest thing that any artist can do at any time, but what many forget is that markets can and do constantly change, as do tastes and trends, and ultimately as do the people who form those markets. There’s little doubt that the market will change right now and will continue to change when we finally come out the other side of this, so preparing yourself to identify those markets is more important right now than ever.

Even holding a formal arts education is only the foundation of a career as an artist. Constantly learning, refining and adapting is how artists develop both themselves and their art, this is how you obtain the most important thing as an artist, a mastery of your trade. Artists never stop learning, whether it is a new technique, a new medium, or from art history, learning is ultimately rewarded by a mastery of what you do.

Even today, we have access to tools and information that artists could once only dream of. The internet is filled with resources that will edge your art career and your sales forward, and right now might be the best time ever to take pause, give your business direction a reset, experiment with new styles and techniques and fulfil that promise you once made to yourself that one day you will get to grips with learning about and doing something new. Maybe during this time, you will reset your artistic style, learn who your people really are, or take your work to that all-important next level.

As an artist in the 21st Century, digital skills are increasingly vital. Technology and digital are finally having an awakening as the world adapts and embraces a sudden digital change. People who once shied away from using technology now have little choice. But not everyone has the broad range of skills that are so essential in running a business and while things are the way they are, perhaps now is the time to brush up or refresh some of those skills so that you can enter whatever the new world looks like having the skills you will need in the new normal and with a greater level of confidence.

This is where the internet plays a significant role and it will help you achieve a level of understanding that you have never before quite found the time to gain. There are a heap of resources that have been created by the biggest names in technology and the best bit, many of the best resources are completely free of charge. Right now there are many companies offering once paid-for training packages for free too.

For digital skills, there is Google Digital Garage which you can find right here.  Online courses, designed for you to grow your career or business. Select individual modules, or dive right in and take an entire course end-to-end.

You can pick up some of today’s most in-demand skills which are likely to be even more in demand when we finally get through this latest challenge. Data and Tech, Digital Marketing, Career Development and the courses are aimed at everyone from beginners to those who already have a strong understanding of digital skills.

Facebook BluePrint is another resource that covers everything from using Facebook to advise on connecting with customers which seems really important right now, and the site also allows you to build your marketing knowledge, boost your career, and add value to your business with free online training and certifications.

You can find Facebook Blueprint right here

LinkedIn is a great social network for business 2 business (B2B) although I find it much more difficult than the others as a social platform, one of the lesser-known services the social network offers is unlimited access to expert instructors on your schedule through LinkedIn Learning. Subjects include business software and tools, data science so you can finally crunch the numbers when figuring out who your market is, and there are many courses that focus on leadership and management. 

The downside is that there is a cost for LinkedIn Learning, although you can take advantage of the 30-day trial. You can find LinkedIn Learning right here. Over the coming weeks and days it might be worth keeping an eye open on LinkedIn as many knowledge-based services are temporarily removing fees.

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Evenings Low Tide by Mark Taylor, available online for home delivery!

Stay connected with your customers….

Staying in touch with your customers doesn’t always have to be about the sale. Even in times where the world isn’t facing a crisis, reaching out and touching base with potential buyers and existing collectors is something that should already be in your toolbox of normal. Right now, reaching out to customers is vital, especially if they’re self-isolating and not getting regular contact with the outside world.

Even sending a message, penning a letter, pinging an email, giving them a call, will serve as a reminder that you were there for them, something that they are more likely to remember when things finally get back to something like normal. It doesn’t have to be about the sale, this kind of communication really should be something that businesses always do, it should be about maintaining links and connections and reminding the client or collector that, this is the exact kind of service that has been non-existent from the huge multi-nationals for years. Independent artists are uniquely placed to be able to offer that little personal touch, so make a communications plan and remember, this doesn’t have to be about the immediate sale at all.

Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Messenger, all offer video functionality. Video conferencing has for a few years been the next best thing to face to face, it’s way more personal than a random email sent out in bulk, and buyers and collectors love it when they can get quality one on one time with their favourite artist.

I get that there can sometimes be a social awkwardness to reaching out personally for some people but there are ways to make starting a conversation a lot easier. While I have been hamstrung with those kidney stones I managed to have a couple of virtual coffees with friends. Instead of meeting up, we both just sat down for twenty-minutes, sipped a coffee and caught up on what we had been doing over a video chat. You could even do this at mealtimes to provide some sense that even if you find yourself quarantined, you can still have a meal together virtually, the only downside is that you both have to cook.

Facebook Live is also another way to reach out to multiple clients and fans at the same time, but what do you do? Everyone seems o be a YouTuber these days and most subjects are being covered in-depth with the relevant hashtags applied to suggest that it’s some ‘Covid Edition’. What you absolutely must do is something that sets you apart from the pack, look for something unique to deliver, hey, how about starting with something as unique as you, after all, you are the expert on that particular subject.

Back-stage tours of your studio, sharing tips and advice on a process, don’t even attempt to be everything to everyone but instead think about the advice you needed when you started out, and use those sessions to ask questions, it doesn’t have to be a you teach them video, other people like to be empowered to answer questions and lend their help too and as people like to answer questions, it becomes a process of building engagement.

I think my big worry is that the entire global population will turn to podcasting, and while that’s not a totally bad thing, podcasting needs to be done in the right way and just like blogging, it can be a really long haul. Again, niche subjects are going to do better than the more generalised stuff that everyone else seems to be doing so choose your subject carefully and one that you have plenty of experience in, and listen to the podcasts of others so that you know what you need to do to be one percent better than everybody else. There are so many opportunities for artists to get a little more creative in the way that they communicate right now, but you do have to find your own unique way to really stand out.

Remember when I wrote the article about starting an art blog? That’s another great way of communicating and especially when people might have a little more time on their hands. You can read the article right here

Adrift Under a Neon Sky by Mark Taylor - Order online for home delivery!

Remember those who are home alone…

There are many people finding out that life can be very lonely at times, as humans we have an inbuilt desire for companionship and interaction and maintaining not just our physical health but our mental health is so vital.

Many people will be living vicariously through others for a while, so if you are able to go out and take some exercise, (over here in the UK we are allowed out for exercise once a day as long as we do the social distance thing and only on your own or with another family member who lives with you) take a few photos of your local area, give people a little insight into parts of the world that they might not have ever seen before. I have wanted to organise a live ‘In this Moment’ interactive artwork for years, where potentially thousands of people all take a snapshot of daily life and places at the exact same time and I think now might be a great time to do that, I think it would certainly show people that we really are all together in this.

Use Social Media responsibly…

I intimated that there were a lot of people using the current situation as a way to get ranked on search engines to boost traffic, if what you have is relevant to the current situation then fine, so long as it is factual and any data and information can be fact-checked from a trusted source. The problem we have now in some places is that there is a lot of information getting passed out into the world and not all of it is useful or factual. There is a real risk of the readers and listeners becoming desensitised to the message. People are more likely to be searching for things that provide some escape from the challenges of daily life and I have a feeling that using niches is going to bear more fruit long-term and especially for those who create evergreen content.

I am always looking for humour in any situation but we do have to be sensitive at times like this, we absolutely have to respect that people will be seeking an escape from constantly scrolling through a crisis, and we need to make sure that whenever we do say anything about the current situation, we provide the right information and not dis-information. We cannot rely on social media to provide us with solid data that has always been fact-checked or is reliable, a lot of what gets published is opinion rather than fact and there will be bad players who will use the current situation to communicate an agenda. There is a place for factual citizen reporting but there is no place for trolls churning out disinformation to cash in on the latest SEO trend. If there is one thing that we must all do at the moment, it is to remember that;

The only thing we need to be spreading right now is hope and love.
As for social media, I do think that the social giants will be tested over the coming months. The algorithm will be being used more and more and quite rightly, to control the spread of disinformation and because social media staff will mainly be working away from their offices and won’t have access to the tools they need to manually check things, and due to data protection laws, probably won’t have access to all of the big data that they collect. 

Algorithms and automation will be being stepped up, as will the use of AI. There are so many things that we don’t know about the algorithm that it makes it so difficult to predict what is and what isn’t acceptable and we don’t exactly know how sensitive these things are to context. The last thing any of us want is to find that our accounts get closed down for absolutely no reason.

When we are posting anything we need to ensure that it is factual and that’s especially the case when it comes to managing business pages and as I have said before, repeating the same thing over and over just desensitises people to the message. There is a golden number of times that something needs to be seen to stick, after that, it becomes background noise. You can read more about this in an article I wrote last year, The Numbers Game of Selling Art which you can find right here

Having said that, I do think that social media needs to lend some support to the smaller business such as those operated by independent artists. Post reach has been declining for years meaning that the only almost-guaranteed way to generate a lot of interest in what you have for sale is to go down the pay to play route and boost posts. The issue for most working artists even when things are normal is that we all run on tight budgets, now we are in a position where for many, those budgets will be stretched to the absolute limits and in a lot of cases, beyond. Ad-revenue is down across the tech industry and social media will be looking to fill some of those gaps.

You will also need to be a little more cautious online over the next few months. Scammers are running rampant in the knowledge that technical support centres are running remotely and on skeleton staff, leaving the door slightly ajar for them to get enough of a foot through. My advice is to double-check everything and phone organisations back where possible and remember the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you need to take time away from social media, the algorithm doesn’t discriminate, it will still downrank your exposure. So one of the most important things that we should all be doing right now is to help each other to keep business pages alive, especially if we know that another artist is struggling to stay as hashtag relevant as we apparently need to be to placate the algorithm gods.

Leave positive reviews wherever you can on other artists pages and please do bear in mind that we really are all in this together. The positive love needs to be reciprocated and that’s something that doesn’t always happen even in the best of times.

If there is one thing we do need to learn as a human race, it is that very little other than health and each other matter. If you need to take time out, don’t sweat it. I have been doing that for weeks already because quite honestly, I became pretty ill with the kidney stones and my Crohn’s Disease, and yes, more so that I made out, but one thing I did learn was that my people are still there, they still remember and support me, and those are the people I would gladly walk through fire for. When this is over, and one day it will be, the world really does need to have a very grown-up conversation with itself and stop with the crazy personal agendas. No matter who we are, we will very quickly all need to learn that we are one.

We can all still come together, physical meetings don’t have to stop things happening, it’s just slightly harder right now because we’re so not used to doing things in any other way than the way we feel more comfortable with. There are a heap of ways to come together while we work it all out though.

All of our groups, The Artists Exchange, The Artists Directory, The Artists Lounge, and The Artist Hangout have mentoring available. A few members have already become mentors and there’s plenty of space for more. If that’s something you think you might be able to do, check to see if your favourite group has mentoring enabled. Having something to focus on other than what’s going on is important for our mental well-being too.

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Pool Party by Mark Taylor - Available to order online for home delivery!

Other things you can do to make an impact…

There are plenty of things that artists can do that will have a positive impact on people’s lives right now. Offering to help out a brand new to homeschooling parent by creating an online art class for those who can’t go into school or college is one way of gaining more exposure and being hashtag actually helpful. Who knows, you might even find a new side career from doing things like this in the future.

With galleries and museums shuttering their doors and temporarily closing down there are also opportunities to set up online exhibitions. I noticed a few galleries are already doing things like this, but most of what I have seen has been more about ensuring continued sales. That’s fine to a point but we do have to be mindful that so many people are going through tough financial times as well.

What might be nice is to focus less on the selling and provide a virtual exhibition that people can escape to without those financial pressures, making them optional but still available. Instead of the main focus being on a link to a call for action, photos of the work along with descriptions and information about the artist might work a little better, and even better if the photos of images can be taken in real locations or with mock-up locations to give the exhibition a more realistic gallery vibe. Links to sales need to be included, and I really do think that a well-curated online virtual exhibition can be a great way to reach out to new markets who might have never gotten to hear about you or your work in any other way.

Creative Tech Companies are Responding…

Just this week we have seen a few of the creative tech companies respond to the crisis by offering longer trial periods of their applications and in the case of Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and Affinity Publisher, reducing the cost of owning the applications by 50%. Regular readers will know just how much I love the Affinity applications, there are no ongoing subscription costs and the applications are kept up to date. Even better, Serif is offering to commission some work from independent creatives and have a budget to support this. Thank you Serif, you really are roles models for how others should be responding.
You can find out more about the Affinity range of applications right here.  


LumaFusion is my go-to app for editing video and has been since it was released. Over the time that the app has been available it has received update after update and on the iPad, has become as near to a high-end Adobe desktop experience as you can get for editing video. It is one of the single best applications for video editing that exists either on desktop or mobile and has a heap of features that make it a breeze to edit videos professionally. Many YouTubers, mobile journalists, filmmakers, and professional video producers rely on LumaFusion due to its pay-once approach to pricing where the cost of owning the application is much more cost-effective than subscribing to the equivalent from Adobe for a couple of months.

The recent update saw the addition of network drive compatibility, meaning that adding an external hard drive to your home network will allow you to bypass saving on the iPad completely. If you want to do this easily you can usually have an external USB drive to your home broadband router if it supports external drives and has a USB port on the router. There is plenty of support available on the LumaTouch website and right across YouTube with vibrant and dedicated support communities ready to lend a hand. You can find out more about LumaFusion right here

If you know of other creative technology companies doing their bit to keep the creative sector alive, let me know in the comments and I will try to formulate a list of those who are making things a lot easier for artists. 

The Best Apps to Use Right Now…

I will be writing a few articles in the coming months to showcase some of the best creative apps to use, but this week I will provide a quick heads up on the ones that you really should be taking a closer look at as many of the developers launch special offers or begin offering their apps for free.

With that said, there are many independent developers who create apps and who are finding times as tough as we are within the creative arts sector and it is important to support those independent developers too.

So, here are the apps that have been keeping me occupied over the past twelve-months and which remain in use today, and for an app to claim that accolade means that I have to be very impressed.

Water Minder…

Staying hydrated is important at the best of times and essential when you are spending days and weeks indoors creating art. I have been having to up my hydration considerably over the past few months with the kidney stone and the difficulty has been that I very often get wrapped up in a piece of work and totally forget to hydrate.

WaterMinder is available for iOS, Mac, and on Google Play and serves timely reminders and goals for you to hydrate. It also works really well with the Apple Watch and I have to say that it has made what is honestly a difficult job of taking on-board enough water, a heap easier. You can also access a two-week history graph which has been very useful on my visits to the doctor recently, and it works on the principle that it only takes 21-days to form a healthy habit. In terms of simplicity, it really doesn’t get any simpler than this.
You can find out more about WaterMinder right here

iOrnament Pro

I created this in around 20-minutes using iOrnament Pro on the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. Copyright Mark Taylor.

iOrnament and iOrnament Pro are probably the best ways to create any kind of symmetry or repeating patterns on the iPad. and I will be making some colouring pages available free of charge that I have created using this app so that if you do find yourself with some extra time to fill, you will be able to print them off at home. I am planning on making a couple of pieces of free artwork available to download too, just in case you do get really bored looking at the same four walls.

iOrnament Pro is a summit meeting of structure, beauty and creativity and a colourful and sparkling treat for digital creatives according to the App Store description and I have to say that it does exactly what it says on the tin!

iOrnament has been on the App Store for a while and the Pro-version goes above and beyond with complex tools that is as simple to use as sliding a finger or moving a stylus.

Main features:

While you draw on the iPad iOrnament Pro repeats your strokes according to rules of symmetry. Highly expressive pens, that allow for special effects like gold, silver or glitter allow you to create a rich variety of styles. Whether you go for highly artistic calligraphy, strict geometric constructions, or just casual doodling iOrnament offers a suitable toolset to create extraordinary designs.

For the Artist:

Full support of all possible symmetry patterns and highly expressive pens allow for the creation of stunning patterns. The possibility of image import brings real-world elements into the world of pattern creation. Realistic effect pens, precise brushes and the mathematically precise symmetries make it possible to create crisp geometric drawings and glamorous jewellery likewise.

If you need to create Platonic Solids, geometric variations of ornamental patterns, kinematic kaleidoscopes, spirals, circle limit pictures, and more, then you might want to also consider the accompanying app, iOrnament Crafter which is also available on the App Store.

iOrnament Pro goes beyond the toolset available in the original iOrnament that really digs into the mathematics of creating symmetry. There are a heap of options and explanations and this is another app that has a bustling support community in place on YouTube and across social media who are all ready and willing to provide support.

With the additional iOrnament Crafter app, you can really extend the usefulness of both applications and create some stunning 3D solids which you can even print out as patterns to create 3D models with cardboard or paper, allowing you to decorate your Christmas Tree with 3D objects, create animated greeting cards and give geometry workshops to your children. You can see one of my creations below.

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iOrnament Crafter - I will make some of these available for free via email for those who follow my business page on Facebook!

The best news is that you don’t have to know maths or the principles of geometry to get some professional quality output from the software, although what you might find is that you become so engrossed in the creation of symmetry and geometry that you will spend some time exploring the math behind the art through the provided help topics and videos.
While many other raster apps provide symmetry tools, none do so quite as well as this. Designs can be exported in a range of output files and the speed and ease of setting up your work board is something that others really struggle with.

You can find out more about iOrnament right here

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Another work created in iOrnament Pro - took around fifteen minutes!

Autodesk Sketchbook…

Autodesk Sketchbook is one of the single best free raster-based art applications on the market. I especially mention this one because there are a couple of features that make it essential for artists whether working in a digital medium or not. The app has functionality that allows you to scan your paper-based art using the camera on your device and creates line art with transparent backgrounds ready for inking and colouring.

Essentially, you can now take your traditional sketches on paper and turn them into digital creations which can be edited using more than 190-custom brush settings. You can find out more right here, and it is available on desktop and mobile.

MediBang Paint…

MediBang Paint is another free raster-based digital art package that was originally designed for creating anime and comics. However, there is an especially useful tool that allows you to extract only lines from your imported works and if you are using iOrnament, this feature alone makes MediBang worth a download.

Available on desktop, iPhone, iPad, and Android, the app is free of charge although there is a small in-app purchase to remove the ads which also gets you some additional functionality.

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MediBang Paint on iPad - also available on PC and Android. iPad Pro version is shown.

There is a range of pens and brushes included, some comic templates and comic panel creation tools, along with pre-made tones and backgrounds. Cloud connectivity allows you to start working on one device and complete the work on another and it also includes a vast array of free fonts to use in your projects.

You can find out more about MediBang Paint right here

Other Resources…

If you do find yourself stuck indoors over the coming weeks, take a look at some of my past articles that are filled with heaps of resources and many will be especially useful for those who are finding that homeschooling is really a lot more difficult than it looks. I have a feeling that when schools around the world reopen, parents will be demanding that teachers get a significant pay rise.

Here are a few of my not-so-recent articles that you might find particularly useful to revisit over the coming weeks.

An A to Z of finding art using a search engine which you can find right here. 

Art – How hard Can It Be? Can be found right here

Selling Art In a New Decade can be found right here

Picking Up Breadcrumbs, the artist up-sell can be found here

Exploring Alternative Art Mediums can be found right here.

Using Micro-Learning to Study and Teach Art can be found right here

That Pinterest Thing for Visual Artists can be found right here, and I mention this because people are finding the time lately to come up with some really interesting and crazy home-hacks and alternative uses for a Mason Jar! Pinterest is also where I get most of my online sales from! 

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No one is like you, that is your power!

Stay Safe and Well…

All that’s left for me to say this week is that I hope you all stay safe and well. If you do find yourself venturing outside, respect the bubble and stay socially distanced, and don’t be afraid to ask others to respect your bubble too.

I am still due to undergo a second round of surgery next week on my kidney, alas it seems that it has become essential rather than something that can be put off for a while, but hopefully once that is done with I will be back to my normal self, albeit confined within my four walls for a while.

I am planning on uploading some new artworks in the next couple of days, I am still struggling to find the energy I need to do that right now, but I am attempting to get back to some kind of normality a little more each day. I am also planning on making some colouring sheets available for people to freely download, with many of them having been produced using packages such as iOrnament Pro, and I will make these available through my Facebook Business Page which you can find right here

If you have any tips or advice to share with other artists, let me know and leave a comment below. I will be creating new posts containing lists of top tips over the coming months. Please note that I have been inundated with messages over the past few weeks and haven’t been able to respond to everyone just yet, thank you all for reaching out and I will get through that list in time and as naps allow!

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, keep creating and do not give up!

Big Love,

Mark x

About Mark…

I am an artist and blogger and live in Staffordshire, England. You can purchase my art through my Fine Art America store or my Pixels site here:   
 Any art sold through Fine Art America and Pixels contributes to the ongoing costs of running and developing this website and making sure that I can bring you independent writing every time and without any need to sign up to anything! You can also view my portfolio website at

 You can also follow me on Facebook at where you will also, find regular free reference photos of interesting subjects and places I visit. You can also follow me on Twitter @beechhouseart and on Pinterest at

If you would like to support the upkeep of this site or maybe just buy me a coffee, you can do so right here


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