Who and where are you?
Hi, I’m Maggie Stoller. I am a self-taught artist from a family of artists and musicians, and art has always been a part of my life. I have 3 brothers, and 2 sisters. I’m the fifth, with one younger brother. My early years were spent on a farm in Kansas, then we moved to Iowa where my parents still farm today. My father started teaching me to draw when I was around 4 years old. He was all about detail, and I learned a great deal from him growing up. I remember spending countless hours in my room sketching all kinds of animals on paper bags, typing paper, anything I could draw on, just trying to be as good as he was. Without his guidance in my early years, I would not be the artist I am today.
I was a graphic artist for a magazine for several years in Scottsdale, AZ. I have painted on a lot of canvas, and after 40 years of trial and error, painting in different mediums, I feel I have finally hit my stride in my art career. I paint animals on Arizona river rocks with great care, paying special attention to the eyes and fur. Animals have always been my favorite choice to paint, but I will be expanding my horizons to paint other things in the future. There is just something so relaxing about using nature-made river rocks as my canvas. All the different shapes and sizes are endless, and the coolness and how smooth they feel in your hand is calming. The only thing I won’t paint is people, but other than that I will try anything, and basically paint on anything that doesn’t move.
I am married and we have lived in sunny Arizona for over 10 years and now live on 2 acres in the beautiful desert with surrounding mountains, far west of Phoenix. I get to enjoy the natural wildlife outside my studio window every day. Yesterday, I saw a roadrunner run right past my window. We have prairie dogs scampering around, horny toad lizards that squirt blood out their eyes if they feel threatened (frightening! lol), scorpions, and hummingbirds visiting our feeders daily. I am so blessed to look out on this beautiful scenery every day.
How did you get started in blogging?
I got started blogging after I set up my website at weebly.com about 6 months ago. I had never had a website or blogged before and wasn’t sure if I could capture an audience with all of my daily babbling and posts, but saw quickly that people were interested. I figured if I was just myself…like talking to a bunch of good friends…invisible as they might be, that it would be a good approach to do my blog. Although, people don’t leave a lot of comments, I see that hundreds of people visit my site every week from my Google Analytics reports, plus I’m getting a lot of commissioned work.
Any tips for other EBSQ art bloggers?
My advice to other people regarding blogging…is to just be yourself. Post photos of your work in progress, how you are feeling about your project, your favorite quotes, give some tips, what your cat or dog did today, be silly and don’t take yourself so seriously, etc. People love to see the process of art from start to finish and they want to know you as a real person that they can relate to. Don’t be stuffy, be approachable. I’m not a writer, and I’m sure my grammar and punctuation is not always correct on my blog. That’s the least of my worries. lol
If you don’t have a website, get one. Weebly.com is free and easy to use with thousands of templates to get you going. Get Google Analytics to see who visits your site every day. It doesn’t show names, but does show what pages are being looked at the most, and what city, state or continent your visitors are coming from, and how many people come to your site each day. This information is very useful and can show you which pages you may want to tweak a bit so more people hit on those pages. It also shows which pages your visitors like the most, which is also a good thing. I have had visitors from all over the world, and only have 7 more states in the U.S. to get to visit. Valuable information to have for your site.
I also have a Facebook business page. I have gotten so much commissioned work from networking every week than I ever got by going to art shows in my entire career. I know as artists that the business side can be daunting and we don’t think we are good at it. We just want to be left alone to paint because that’s what we do best. But, if you don’t get yourself out there and pound the pavement on the internet, people just aren’t going to find you or stay interested if you don’t remind them now and then that “Hey! Remember me? I’m that girl that paints on rocks!”
Get on Etsy, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and any networking site you can find. There are tons of blog networks on Facebook. I set aside time every day to network so people always know what I’m working on and new items in my online gallery. Also have a business card made and lay them out everywhere while you are out and about. I’ve left them in restaurants, my bank, at my Dr.’s office, handed them out to perfect strangers, and always throw a few in each package I ship out. I am relentless, but it’s working.
Do you have any rituals associated with your creative time?
My daily ritual is getting up, having a couple cups of coffee, then getting into the studio. I don’t listen to music oddly enough while I’m painting in my studio. I always have the TV on. My favorite channels are Discovery, History, NatGeo, and anything to do with nature and wildlife. I think because I grew up in such a large family I need to hear talking in the background. lol
What can we expect next from you studio?
I’m always trying to come up with new ideas for the river rocks, so I’m always sketching things to try out. I have a 4-inch binder full of ideas and the possibilities are endless. Lately, I’ve had a lot of back-to-back commissions. The commission I finished last week was for a 9 pound dinosaur doorstop rock for a little boys room, which was a lot of fun to paint. I have 3 upcoming commissions. One is for a BMW cartoon race car rock, and the 2nd is for a hamster rock, and the 3rd is a portrait of a greyhound dog rock. I’m going to be pretty busy for awhile.
So to all of my EBSQ fellow artists…keep putting out your beautiful work. The world is a better place because of it, and thank you EBSQ for having such a wonderful site and art community for all of us to show our work!
Thank you Maggie for being an EBSQ Blogger of the Week!
If you are an EBSQ Artist and would like to be considered for Blogger of the Week just add us to your blogroll. I’m searching EBSQ profiles weekly for links to artist’s blogs. If you aren’t an EBSQ Artist, what are you waiting for?