An Honest Artist’s Honest Product Review

I ordered a product sample from my own store, and here is what I think…

Before relaunching my online store with Print On Demand (POD) products in lieu of original artworks, I ordered a sample item to test out the quality of the company I am trusting and the product itself. After much research, I chose to use Printful and Printify as my POD gurus. There are pros and cons to each company and I can talk about that later. For right now, though, I want to focus on the sample that arrived in the mail and my assessment of overall product quality in this honest review.

The first product sample that came in the mail was from Printful. I ordered a 10″ x 10″ framed poster print of one of my favorite paintings, Lonely Blue Tree. I paid attention to what I liked and didn’t like about the product and detailed them below for you.

Lonely Blue Tree close up of print
Original Artwork by Katherine Linton, Experimental Design LLC
Lonely Blue Tree print
Original Artwork by Katherine Linton, Experimental Design LLC

Shipping (Like!)

Shipping and processing was FAST! I ordered the poster on Feb 27 at 8:51am. Within an hour, the order was sent to Production. Fast forward and my poster arrived to my doorstep the afternoon of Mar 2. From start to finish, that was only four days and a few hours (factoring in Leap Day).

Opening up reproduction print of Lonely Blue Tree

See my unedited unveiling above. I was really impressed with the speed of this whole process, which was on par with Printful’s estimates. Still, it seemed like a quick turnaround considering Printful made this thing from pixels.

The packaging was also well-done. It was in a sturdy platter box, labeled Fragile and taped with appropriate bubble wrap AND foam protective wrapping. I couldn’t have done it better myself.

Lonely Blue Tree close up of print
Original Artwork by Katherine Linton, Experimental Design LLC

The Product

I had sold the original Lonely Blue Tree ages ago and I miss it dearly. For such a simple painting, it really is a favorite of mine. When I had the chance to order a reprint sample, I naturally went for this one. For the most part, I am pretty happy with how it turned out, especially for the price.

The Frame (Like!)

The frame is simple, but exactly what I would have chosen anyway. Of the two options, I chose the black Alder, semi-hardwood 0.75″ frame. The white looks nice, too, but I personally prefer the dark. The hanging hardware came included on the back of the frame so that I can attach it when I decide how and where I want to hang it.

The Print Quality (Super Like!)

This part impresses me most. The original painting is acrylic on canvas and shows brushstrokes and canvas texture. Even though the sample I ordered is a poster, the texture still printed. Even better, the colors are true to life!

Lonely Blue Tree close up of print
Original Artwork by Katherine Linton, Experimental Design LLC
Close up view of reproduction of Lonely Blue Tree to show print quality

The Only Downside… (Dislike…)

I wish it had a piece of glass instead of an Acrylite front protector. Maybe I just have old fashioned taste, but the lack of glass is a bit of a bummer. The whole product is lightweight, meaning lower shipping costs, more versatile options for wall placement, and less risk of breakage. You can’t tell by looking at it, but as soon as you pick it up, you notice that it doesn’t weigh as much as it should.

In Summary

I really enjoyed testing this out and pretending to be a prospective customer. I don’t think that anyone is as critical of a piece of artwork as the artist herself, which qualifies me as the most rigorous quality control expert out there. While pretending to be a prospective customer, I was impressed with how this process went and excited about the product itself. The overall product quality was great and I am very please with my choice in POD companies.


  • Fast production and shipping
  • Excellent packaging
  • Superb print quality
  • Great overall appearance


  • Acrylite cover in lieu of traditional glass

Let me know what you think! If you order from my shop, tell me about it. I’d love to get a product review from you and/or an email telling me what your thoughts are.

Pocket Doodler

I made a pocket doodler and it’s got to be one of my favorite things ever!

A “pocket doodler” is a little book for doodles that I can carry around with me. Let me tell you – it’s saved me from absolute boredom and the potential (who am I kidding? the ‘likelihood’) of falling asleep in public. I got the idea from one of my favorite artists, CreationsCeeCee. She posted this video that exemplified simple creativity.

It was a cool idea, seemed simple to execute and I wanted to do it. Here’s what I did…

I found this travel journal cover on clearance at Michaels. It’s just a cover to protect my pages, but it also ties and has pen pockets in it.

Step 1: Splash paint!

I cut some pages to fit the cover, keeping in mind that I would be folding the paper in half to put it in the book. I used whatever watercolors were left on my palette, not caring so much about colors, and I made a sheet with blobs of color. The messier, the better!

Step 2: Put it together!

After I let the pages dry, I bound them in the little book. For funsies, I added some graph paper to practice lettering and some blank paper in case I wanted to do more. You can stick the pages together any which way you want, though. I knew I wanted a cover to protect my doodles from the abyss of my purse.

Step 3: Doodle!

This is my favorite step because intuitive artwork is difficult for me sometimes. I get this idea in my head and feel that I need to replicate it exactly on the paper. Doodling and doing abstract art keeps me loose. And when I’m loose, the creativity in my artwork happens.

I made a Pocket Doodler and it’s my favorite thing ever!

I hope you give this a try. If you do, send me pics! Happy Doodling!

The Art of Procrastination

Getting Back in the Groove

I’m not going to lie – I have put my art business on the back burner for longer than I want to acknowledge. Sure, I could spout excuses; I have plenty of good ones. I even thought about picking up with my blog posts like nothing ever happened. Maybe no one would notice that I haven’t posted anything since March. When it comes down to it, though, I want to be authentic. It’s time to quit the art of procrastination.

I am a part-time small business owner with a full-time career, a family and (dare I say it?) adult responsibilities. I only ever really started this business to cover the cost of supplies. Painting is an expensive hobby! I told myself going in to this adventure that if I could at least break even at the end of the year, then I fulfilled my goals. Mission: Success.

Enter Fiscal Year Number Two…

I’m all pumped and pleased with whatever small victories I managed the year prior. Humbled and encouraged by the support I had received, I was ready and determined to do even better.

It was so easy to set higher expectations for myself and my business. I started out this year thinking I would blog at least twice a month, make YouTube videos and step up my social media game on Facebook and Instagram. I did okay for a couple of months until life got in the way. Sure, I managed to do a little bit of experimenting on the odd free day, but overall, I let my entrepreneurial habits slide.

For example, after setting up this new website, I completely underestimated both how long it would take to inventory all my sell-able artwork and how much I really didn’t want to do it. Maybe one of these days I’ll write about how I do the write-ups for each piece of art, but actually doing product descriptions, editing photos and pricing everything is not a business habit that I have cultivated an appreciation for yet.

New business cards!

In any case, I have come to the realization that I better get back in the groove if I want to maintain my reputation. I have a free week while my daughter is frolicking at day camp. So far this week, I have organized my studio, restocked supplies, ordered new business cards, made a pocket doodler (more on this in the next post!), finished a couple of old projects and completed a new one with a YouTube video to accompany it!

Granted, I still have to photograph art, get inventory online, sign up for a art fair or two and work out kinks in my website, but that might just be a job for tomorrow…

Finding Inspiration to Start

A Guide for Newbie Artists

As a self-taught artist, there are some online resources that are my go-to for inspiration, reference photos, and tutorials. I’d like to share them with you and I hope that you share some back. Anyone can create art, but not everyone knows where to start. The following steps will take you towards creating your own art.


“What inspires your art?” (I can’t even avoid an eye roll while typing it.) I mean, how do you answer that and sound legit and not snobby? Now, I’m not throwing shade at the artists that do happen to have a list of inspirations; they are obviously more organized than I. I try to keep lists or post-its of things that I think to paint for later. Then, I either lose the notes or get lost on a tangential path and never look back.

Find inspiration in everything, but more importantly – be brave!

Honestly, to find inspiration, I simply keep my eyes open and study what catches my eye. I find inspiration in the things that are aesthetically appealing to me, economical to try, and are relevant to me. I’ve been training myself to see what I look at. I pay attention to shapes, values, contrast, and movement and it truly helps when I want to recreate a mental image later.

Outside of my environment, my number one resource to find inspiration is Pinterest. It’s so easy to get lost in the wonders of Pinterest. That “More Like This” option is a time void – I swear, every time I look up from a Pinterest binge, I’ve lost hours.

I have a board called Artsy Fartsy where I put all the beautiful works of other artists or photographs to look through when I need a little extra spark to get my creative gears turning.

From new sights, online searches and life experiences, when I sit down to paint without an idea of what I’m doing, I have something to draw on (pun intended). Once I start, the rest follows. Even if it’s a mess, I’ve still learned something.

Reference Photos

One day, I wanted to try out some watercolors of animals. I had only done some landscapes and florals up to this point and was ready to try something new. I wanted to try doing a series of small watercolors featuring small mammals and birds and I had no idea how it would go. I’d managed to do birds well with alcohol inks, watercolors shouldn’t be too much of a leap. Let me just say, fur in watercolor is tough! My ermine was a disaster! Then I thought to try an otter. Otters have fur, but maybe I can do an underwater otter, which should translate to watercolors better.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I do not have the details of otter anatomy firmly lodged in my memory, ready to use at the whim of my art. I need reference photos to help me. A simple Google search won’t do because many of those pictures are copyrighted intellectual property. I went to There are tons of free-to-use pictures on there. I found this beauty:

Example of a free to use image from
Otter reference photo, courtesy of

And from that picture and others similar to it, I was able to paint this:

"Otterly Adorable"
Small watercolor painting of an otter playing underwater.
Otterly Adorable

Isn’t he adorable? It sure surprised me. I had the least amount of confidence starting this painting. I almost gave up twice, but ended up tweaking until I got him just right. Now, he’s one of my all-time favorite paintings. You can get a closer look at Otterly Adorable in my shop.

I would like to shout this loud for those that need to hear it. Using reference photos is not “cheating” on your art. You are just as much of an artist for using your resources than the one that doesn’t (I strongly suspect that most, if not all, artists use references to create. I’ve found that it strengthens my ability and gives me confidence in my practice. Most subjects are complicated and painting them so that there is movement, tension and interest in the subject, requires work.


When it comes to learning how to do something, if there doesn’t exist a relevant YouTube video, I’m convinced that it is humanly impossible. How did adults function before YouTube? Seriously, as I have entered the world of adulting, I have learned everything from home repair to filing income tax returns, to hair braiding, and to creating art from YouTube. YouTube is an incredible resource to have in your artistic arsenal. You can even check out my fledgling YouTube Channel!

Find me on YouTube!

So, not knowing how isn’t an excuse. Use the collective brain power of the internet to guide you towards creating art. Find inspiration in everything, and then figure out how to do what you want! Everything takes practice and everyone can create art. What have you got to lose?

Three Simple Steps to Start Creating Art

Especially if You Aren’t an Artist

So, it turns out that I am the most surprised person there is when it comes to making and selling art. I’m not trying to be modest here. I know I have and can make some good stuff that appeals to the masses. However, what I do manage is more-or-less accidental. I surprise myself, more often than not, with what happens in my little studio. Still, I have built my style on the basis of experimental design – sort of. As a trained scientist and teacher, it’s my comfort zone to question, gather evidence, research, reason, and repeat. As an untrained artist, I wing it and throw protocol out the window.

By forcing each side of my brain interact harmoniously, I’ve come to some conclusions about creating artwork and putting yourself out into the ether for anonymous critique by strangers. I’ve got three simple steps that will help you to create art for you, even if you don’t think you can.

Step One: Simple. Just freakin’ do it.

Ask yourself this one very important question. It’s the only question that matters. Do you want to create art? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then go do it. Seriously. It’s just that simple. It doesn’t necessarily take money or copious amounts of time, or even you inventing dark corners of your soul to add deep meaning to your art. Start small, find something that makes you feel good and get it done. So many people think that the question that matters is ‘are you already a professional artist that can make something out of anything using the vast instinctual knowledge that you were innately given in any artistic style and have people willingly shower you with dollars?‘ It’s exhausting just typing that…keep it simple, friends. Drop arbitrary expectations of grandeur and do the thing!

About a year ago, I got some art supplies as a gift. I set up a little space in our living room and I used what I had, with a Paint Nite painting hanging to bolster my courage. Nothing fancy at all: a tackle box of student grade acrylic paints, a wobbly, old easel gifted to me many moons ago, and a cheap, slightly broken and too short drafting table I found on Facebook Marketplace.

My First Art Studio, simple and clean.
My first art studio, simple and clean.

Step Two: Practice.

If sailors aren’t born knowing how to sail and gymnasts aren’t born knowing how to gym, and lawyers aren’t born knowing how to law, then what makes you think that artists are born knowing how to create art? Everyone starts somewhere, usually in the ‘this is garbage,’ ‘why does it look like a foot, when I wanted a flower?’ place. That’s okay. I won’t deny that there exist some gifts-of-nature people groomed to become master artists that emerge from the womb with a paintbrush and scary good instinct for proportional art. They are the unicorn. You are the real thing.

Here’s the secret: the value we place on our art is equal to the value we put on our own confidence and pride, not on our background knowledge. So, if you believe what you make is good, people will believe it’s good, too. At the very least, fake it til you make it.

Now, I know that sounds easier than it actually is. I practice. I practice a lot. In down times during class, I doodle, I practice calligraphy and I doodle some more. I have even started doing concept murals on the chalkboard to refine technique and build muscle memory. At home, whenever I can wrestle the remote from my daughter, I watch YouTube tutorials. As a result, I pick up little tidbits of information everywhere and store them away in my ‘Experiment With This’ list for future surprises.

An example of my classroom art as a concept mural
An example of my classroom art as a concept mural

Step Three: Share it.

I started by sharing my paintings with my sister-in-law and mother. Safe bets to start with, very low stakes for me. I mean, if your mother can’t say that your globs of paint are nice via a shoddy phone text message photo, then she should revisit her job description, right? And my sister-in-law is a lovely, kindhearted woman who is a dear friend and confidante. So again, safe bet that I would get some positive feedback about my globs.

Art support from my fan club
Art via text support from my fan club

Then, after testing safe waters, try to submerge yourself a bit more. There are some really great artist groups on social media that give you an anonymous platform for low stakes, quality feedback and constructive criticism (plus, many have links to super helpful YouTube tutorials – I’ll link my favorites below).

You are invited and encouraged to follow me here. My goal is to make art accessible for non-artists, by delivering inspiration, how-to’s and lessons learned. I also have a Pinterest, Facebook Page, Instagram and YouTube channel.

My booth at Williamsburg's 2nd Sundays Arts and Music Festival.
My booth at Williamsburg’s 2nd Sundays Arts and Music Festival.

Meanwhile, I have been gradually opening myself up to the world, primarily on social media platforms, but also in craft fairs and makers’ marts. Even a year later, I have yet to break free from a primarily ‘friends and family’ circle of customers, but it’ll happen. If not, at least I’m happy creating art my way, and for my own balance and education.

It’s not easy to do; I get it. Your art isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that can be scary. You may feel vulnerable or defensive. If that bothers you, go back to Step One. Trust that you can do something that makes you happy and forget the rest. So, whether it’s sandcastles, pottery, crochet, paintings, digital works or other, don’t be shy about creating art.

As promised, some of my favorite sources of information are: The Art Sherpa, Paint Pouring People, Robert Burridge, CreationsCeeCee, and Maria Raczynska.