Seeking a more personalized blog appearance

I am aware that I have not posted in these last twenty-one days or so and though like a number of new bloggers who make a good start only to fizzle out after a few weeks or months, I can assure that is not the case here. During my absence I have been busy visiting other blogs, studying their designs and layouts, occasionally commenting and exchanging correspondence, including posting a few days ago to The Artist Within Us, my other blog. On top of all this, there was a major distraction, as our daughter Ariana was now moving away from home to attend the University of Santa Cruz and though it is only 94.3 miles away, we are now experiencing the ‘empty nest syndrome’, even though our son Armont is still living at home, attending a college near by. Then last Tuesday we all celebrated his twenty-first birthday and all along it felt like we just brought him home from the hospital where he was born. In the meantime I have been reworking my two sites, developing a third, assisting my friend Ian and his blog Abstract Minimalism, which is about half way where we would like it to be. So you can see, there has been a lot of excitement around here and the dust that was stirred up, still has not settled.

You might have also notice the masthead has been changed from a water lily, to reflect the new season in which we find ourselves, with a photograph of a red Japanese maple growing in our front yard. Normally I like everything tack sharp and with no motion, but the breeze was blowing and my inner voice—to which I do not listen to enough—kept insisting I continue. Even the sidebar here and at my other blog has been revamped, not once but twice, with a few more adjustments due in the next couple of weeks, for a total of six redesigns since I started in April. This included just adding a number of photographs to break up the text flow. So where is all this going?

Apart from the author’s voice setting the tone of a blog, there is also the design of the site, which reflects a person’s personality. Take for example Lorraine Stobie, a mixed media collage artists, whose site Creative Daily was professionally designed by Trudi Sessons of Two Dresses Studio, who’s expertise in digital manipulation of multiple images and objects I have a great respect for. She not only took into account the visual aspects of a good blog design, like its flow, usage of colour and overall readability, but also Lorraine’s personality and the type of artwork she does.

This was achieved by including elements that are part of Lorraine’s life and were then arranged in a collage that enhanced the blogs visual appeal and placed off to the sides of the main page. However the full effect of the collages artwork only comes to shine when viewing Lorraine’s ‘biography’ page, which can be reach by a separate link that is located towards the top of the sidebar.

Even here the biography icon and other, like ‘Email Me’, ‘Inspiration’, ‘Archives’, and others, are all carefully designed with a repeating diamond pattern that is also used for Lorraine’s signature at the end of each post. In the end, the site sets itself apart from others, like a persons individual thumbprint, while retaining similarities to other crafting blogs.

In contrast to Lorraine’s bit of whimsy and special airiness is Layers, an artists whose work I greatly admire. Donna’s blog takes a different approach, by making use of the sidebar with photographs of her life, her surroundings and her interests, all of which is supported by her posts with images and the stories she tells. Her blog takes on a more Spartan approach, or if you will, a Wabi-Sabi sense of design, with a background colour that suggest one has entered into a blog with a Zen atmosphere; all of which reflects back to her style of artwork.

Though Donna’s artwork is comprised of richly layered metaphors, symbols, and a personal mythology, these appear at first glance in contrast to her Zen surroundings. This symbiosis of an oxymoron may have you scratching your head, but it is the very essence that comprises Donna’s spirit. Like most artists, she is a deeply complex individual with a ‘want and desire’ to absorb herself into her surroundings, emerging from it with new energies and ready to express her personal creative vision.

From these and other sites I have leaned a great deal and though I have thirty years experience as a graphic designer in collateral material and books, designing for the web or a blog is very different, even though there are a few similarities. So for now I continue making adjustments to my blogs, double-checking that both sidebars match in their placement of specific elements, while fine-tuning other aspects of the sites so that your visit will be a comfortable one.

Apart from having been preoccupied, I have managed to savor a few moments here and there, doing photography and exploring techniques I last used over thirty years ago, but now capturing images digitally with minimal application of software. My paintings on the other hand progress with their usual steady slowness, trying to overcome the fear of a wrong move and hoping for that touch of blindness in which inspiration takes over and the hand moves in charge of itself.

In the meantime I reflect upon a comment made to my previous posts at The Artist Within Us, about influences, an influence as far back as ones childhood and now having an effect upon the art one creates, Donna replied and in part said: “. . . the more personal your work becomes the more connection there is with others.

Postscript: Earlier in the day, under natural light, I had photographed a crane fly on a painters canvas drop cloth and by the evening decided to play around with it. After scanning envelops of letters from a previous relationship, some thirty years ago, I began extracting a number of these various elements and rearranging them on to the photograph of the crane fly.

Tipula abdominalis — Giant Crane Fly
Digital Multi-medium, October 9, 2009

Blogs mentioned in this post

Trudi Sessons — Two Dresses Studio
Lorraine Stobie — Creative Daily
Donna Watson — Layers
Ian Foster — Abstract Minimalism
My other blog — The Artist Within Us


La Dolce Vita said...

your giant crane fly is awesome...

Lorraine @ creativedaily said...

Thank you Egmont for your extremely kind comments about my blog. I must admit that I feel Trudi did an incredible design for me. We collaborated very well! I will be off to visit the other sites you mentioned. I believe I failed to comment previously what wonderful photography you do. The new header is lovely. Since starting my blog in May, I now need to learn more about photography - this is next!

layers said...

Egmont, first of all THANK YOU SO MUCH for including me, my work and my blog in your post. You have written some wonderful words about my work and I only hope I can live up to your beautiful interpretation. Second, I love your collage-- the image of the crane fly is so detailed and the way it is incorporated into the envelope-- wonderful. And the fact that you chose that envelope brings more personal connection to the piece. I also like your new banner as I have a lot of Japanese maples in my zen gardens and some of them are starting to turn color.

Leslie Avon Miller said...

I enjoy the individuality of blogs. I also enjoy changing mine - keeps it from feeling stale. Enjoy your process - that's what it is all about.

Trudi Sissons said...

Egmont! Thank you. Since working with Lorraine on her design, we have stayed in touch and have developed a special friendship. I admire her intelligence as well as her approach to her creative endeavors and her thorough knowledge of textile and surface design.

Synchronicity is alive and well in this milieu and your digital piece is one of my favorite subjects - mail art. Nick Bantock is my hero in this domain, and oddly enough - while attending one of his workshops, I photographed a similar winged bug (don't know if it was a crane or not). Thus my reference to synchronicity....or could it be another Griffin and Sabine Jungian coincidence? I'll dig up the photo and send it along. You can decide.
ps - word verification "gogited"

Four Seasons in a Life said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful comments.

Trudi, Nick Bantock is someone who's work I have followed, ever since Chronicle Books came out with his first volume in the Griffin and Sabine series.

There were a few other books, some of which I have and his latest was 'Urgent- 2nd class' (Chronicle Books 2004).

I think we owe much to his style including that of Martha Stewart, all the way from current art styles, web and blog designs, including a specific photographic style to how magazines layout and then some more.

Donna, as long as you continue creating your unique style of painting, I could never be disappointed, and Lorraine, just take one day at a time and everything will fall into place.

Trudi Sissons said...

Just saw this - I attended a 'book signing' when only the first of the trilogy was I'm guessing but I guess I met Nick that very first time approximately 20 years ago. I always remember the leather patches on the elbows of his tweed sports jacket. Time flies, but that memory sticks inside my brain like fly paper.

Edward said...

I share the same sentiments with Donna. Like what my friend said, who by the way is a professional web designer (Toronto-based), a blog's design doesn't have to be trendy or grandiose to be beautiful. The beauty lies in the meaning of each element and the personal reasons why the blog owner made it that way.

Like in your case, your blog looks simple, and in one glance it can be deemed bland. However, once your visitors get to know you as a person and as an artist, they will begin to see the depth in the design's simplicity. They will be able to connect more with your blog. For that, I admire your blog and the Toronto website designers who look at design beyond what the eyes can see. Nice read, Egmont.