Category Archives: Blogging

ARHtistic License: 2020 in Review

ARHtistic License: 2020 in Review

2020 has been the worst year of my life. Obviously, the Covid pandemic has ravaged the world, killing at least 1,780,000 people worldwide and destroying the world economy.

One of my sons contracted the disease. Thank God, he has recovered. It could have been worse; he also has diabetes, and whenever he gets sick, he is at risk for ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition. He also lost his job; the restaurant where he worked for 17 years closed and will not reopen. He has not yet found a new position. But we can help him in the meantime.

That has been the extent of the impact of the pandemic on us personally so far. But worse than that, my husband’s health took a nosedive. I’ve written about his issues in other posts, so I won’t bore you with repetition. Let’s just say complete recovery is not guaranteed.

As far as my blog is concerned, 2020 was a satisfactory year. I published 647 posts this year, my record, 1.77 posts a day. I don’t think I missed a single day. ARHtistic License had 27,700 views, also a record for my blog. My followers have grown from 807 at the end of 2019 to 1,085.

For the first time in ARHtistic License’s five-and-a-half year history, the top ten most visited posts in 2020 were all from prior years. I don’t know how to take that. I would like to believe I’ve grown in the quality of my writing, and that people are eagerly awaiting each new article that I post. But maybe these articles just have great Search Engine Optimization. Maybe you will like them, too:

  1. Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted by a Committee This 2016 article explores the painters’ workshops and apprentice programs of the Renaissance.
  2. How to Make a Meme on a Mac Step-by-step instructions, first published in 2017.
  3. 6 Creative Ways to Name Your Characters . . . by Andre Cruz This article is a repost from another website.
  4. Review of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words This book convinced me I could write poetry. I wrote the review in 2017.
  5. How to Practice Piano: Doh! Dohnányi The unplayable exercise book that is the bane of every pianist’s existence.
  6. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web I wrote this in 2018. Note to self: I need to write a sequel to this article, because I’ve discovered so many other good websites.
  7. Ballet Feet They’re not cute and dainty. Ballet dancers literally suffer for their art. This article was written in 2016.
  8. About ARHuelsenbeck This is my “about” page, written in May 2015.
  9. Video of the Week #113: Jack Storms I don’t know why, but this glass sculpture video from 2017 got 153 views in 2020.
  10. Beautiful Sentences My growing collection of little snippets that knock my socks off.

My most-read posts of 2020 include many interviews with creative people:

  1. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part I
  2. Interview with Photographer Cee Neuner
  3. Meet Artist Alice Hendon
  4. Z is for Zentangle Some pages from my Zentangle journal.
  5. I’d Rather Be Dancing African Folk Dances
  6. Meet Kathy Temean, Illustrator, Author, and Children’s Literature Advocate
  7. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part II
  8. Meet Kathy Reeves, Musician, Quilter, Blogger, and Stitcher of All Kinds
  9. OctPoWriMo Day 3 Every October, I participate in a challenge to write a poem a day.
  10. In the Meme Time: What to Do While Self-Quarantined My most-viewed meme of 2020.

Another way to look at a blog’s popularity is to see which posts garnered the most “likes.” To my great dismay, my Jan Eyck piece, which has been viewed 2,030 times since it appeared in October, 2016, has only 11 likes. I don’t know how to take that. Most bloggers get many more likes on their posts than I do. It’s common for Cee Neuner to get more than 100 likes on a post. I’m thrilled if I get 25.

My most liked posts of 2020:

  1. Interview with Photographer Cee Neuner
  2. An Interview with Judy Dykstra-Brown, Teacher, Artist, Poet, Part I
  3. Creative Juice #213
  4. OctPoWriMo Day 15
  5. Flower of the Day: Can You Find the Ladybug?
  6. Wordless Wednesday: Little Stone Cottage
  7. Wordless Wednesday: Sidewalk Mandala
  8. OctPoWriMo Day 7
  9. Wordless Wednesday: Mountain Stream
  10. Wordless Wednesday: Dragon Slayer

In the list above, the first two articles are interviews with popular bloggers. The third is a curated list of interesting creativity-related articles from all over the web. The rest are offerings for poetry and photography challenges. The blogging, poetry, and photography communities are all very supportive of each other. I guess if I’m after likes, I need to concentrate more on the blogging, poetry, and photography worlds, less on music, art, dance, books, and quilting. Darn. I love all forms of artistic expression.

As for my other creative pursuits, I did almost no piano, recorder, or guitar practice this year. My daughter gave me a ukulele, but I haven’t played it yet, because somewhere I have a wonderful ukulele book, but I can’t find it. Handbell choir, church choir, and Phoenix International Folk Dancers did not meet because of Covid. I’ve done some painting, drawing, and zentangle.

In my writing, I’ve set aside my unicorn book and my bible study, and concentrated on a middle grades novel and a short story retelling (that’s not so short right now, so it may become a novel or a novella). I’m entering a lot of poetry and chapbook contests, and one of my goals for 2021 is to systematically submit to literary journals. My other goals are the same as every year; you know, finish stuff I’ve started and get it all published.

Now it’s your turn:

  • How did you do with your creative endeavors last year? What are your creative goals for 2021? Share in the comments below. If you’ve posted about it on your blog, feel free to share the link.
  • Have you read all of my most popular posts this year? No? Make my day and choose, say, three of the ones listed above and let me know what you think.
  • If you read a post on any blog, not just mine, that you find well worth your while, please “like” it if you’re given the option. Or leave a brief comment. It gives us bloggers such a boost to get some positive feedback. Share good articles on all your social media. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your favorite bloggers quit and took up chess instead?

Creative Juice #213

Creative Juice #213

A dozen articles to inspire you this weekend.

Creative Juice #211

Creative Juice #211

Lots of interesting stuff, and a bit of beauty, too.



Today ARHtistic License passed a long-awaited milestone: 1,000 subscribers!

Thank you so much, all of you, for supporting me with your views, “likes,” and encouraging comments. You make my day.

Types of Blog Posts


Do you ever run out of ideas for your blog?

If you’re stuck, try writing a different kind of post. There are so many possibilities from which to choose.

How-To: Chances are you know how to do something that not everyone knows how to do. It might be related to your college major, your job, your hobby, or the theme of your blog. Break it down into steps, and phrase it as if you were teaching your best friend how to do it.

List: These are fun to read and fun to write: 3 Best Colors This Season. 10 Reasons to Invest Now. 25 Things I Now Know That I Wish I Knew When I Was 25. The possibilities are endless. The topic can be something that you have expert knowledge about, something you have strong opinions about, or something you’d like to research.

Interview: The advantage to interviewing someone for a blog post is that if your SEO is spot on, you’ll attract interested readers to your post for years (and maybe they’ll check out the rest of your blog, too). The hardest part is coming up with appropriate questions. Certainly, you’ll have questions that you’d like this person to answer, but will they be enough for an article? I usually conduct my interviews via email. After the subject has agreed to the interview, then I generate the questions. I try to come up with 15, and ask to person to answer any 10 or more. (If I’m stuck, I’ll google questions to ask authors or whatever category the person falls into.) I also ask for pictures of the interviewee and of his or her work.

Personal Experience: Tell a story about something that happened to you. The best personal experience pieces show how a person has overcome a hardship or found a solution to a problem. (The tone should be helpful or hopeful, but not preachy). Funny stories are also popular.

Review: You can review any kind of product or service, from books to makeup to restaurants to libraries. Try not to trash anybody. Although a harsh review may give you momentary satisfaction, soulless corporations have deep pockets and could drag you to court for slander; or you could cause a smaller business to experience a downturn, negatively impacting all the employees’ families. An honest rave review will put quality products on your reader’s radar. Temper less-enthusiastic reviews by balancing the unsatisfactory features with those that are more exemplary, such as: several typos and formatting issues detracted from the otherwise stellar storytelling.

Quotes:  Everyone loves a well-expressed thought. A single quote makes a quickie post. I post a quote every Monday. But you can also post a collection of quotes from one person, or quotes from many people about a certain topic. Just be sure to cite your sources.

Humor:  In my opinion, humor is the hardest kind of blog post to write. It’s also my most favorite to read. I’d love to add more humor to ARHtistic License, but I’m not that funny. If you are, add a link to one of your pieces in the comments below so we all can enjoy it.

Profile: A profile is a narrative about an interesting person’s life and/or work. It can be an interview, or it can be a researched biography. I like to write profiles of long-dead famous composers and artists, because it’s easy to find information about them, and most illustrations of them and their work are usually in the public domain. Of course, if you have friends who are artists, they may be happy to let you use photos of themselves and their work with proper credit.

Quiz: There are serious quizzes, and there are fun quizzes. Unless you are an expert on the topic of the quiz, go for a fun quiz, like this one to determine whether you are a cool senior citizen or not. Try not to make it too hard to get a good score.

Challenge: Issue a challenge for readers and/or other bloggers to do something—like come up with a joke a day for a month, or take a photo with a certain theme, or write a poem a day for a month. Then determine how participants will submit their responses, generally by posting on their blogs or social media, and leaving a pingback or a link in the comments section of your blog posts. Warning: It’s much easier to be a participant in a challenge than a coordinator. I once ran a challenge, and nobody came. I get it. I participate in a lot of challenges, but not nearly as many as I’d like to. So many challenges, so little time. But don’t forget—if you participate in challenges, they generate blog posts as well. If you’re looking for a challenge to enter, check out my friend Cee’s lists.

Now it’s your turn. In no way does this list exhaust all possible types of blog posts. Which kinds of posts are your favorites? Share in the comments below.

Monday Morning Wisdom #271

Monday Morning Wisdom #271

The purpose of a blog post is to entertain, inform, inspire or educate. ~Bryan Collins

5 Years of ARHtistic License

5 Years of ARHtistic License

I missed my own blog birthday! On June 3, ARHtistic License turned five years old.

My goal for ARHtistic License is that it would be a place where creative people would come together to celebrate the arts and discuss the creative process. A year ago, AL had 683 subscribers; today it has 941, an increase of almost 38%. I’m happy about that growth. I’m on track to hit 1000 subscribers before the end of 2020. Are you a subscriber yet?

Here are the ten most popular posts on ARHtistic License in the past year, based on the number of “likes” they earned:

  1. Hiking in the Arboretum
  2. Tuesday Photo Challenge: Tourism
  3. Creative Juice #188
  4. Creative Juice #156
  5. Creative Juice #159
  6. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Lavender Daisies
  7. Creative Juice #171
  8. Sunday Trees/ Flower of the Day: Palo Verde Blossom
  9. Flower of the Day: Palo Verde Blossoms
  10. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Flowering Cactus


Nine of these posts fall in one of two categories: photo challenges and curated articles (Creative Juice). The outlier, “Hiking in the Arboretum,” is a photography-heavy post, more of a photo essay. So, should I focus on photography and reading recommendations, since these are the kinds of things that my readers apparently like? It would certainly free up a lot of my time, since those kinds of posts can be generated fairly quickly.

In contrast, here are what I consider to be some of my very best posts this year, in no particular order, which received very few likes:

Are these articles dull? Should I avoid spending time on posts like these?

Please help me. What would you like to see more of on ARHtistic License? What would you like less of? If you read a blog post you like and there’s a “Like” button, do you click it? If not, why not? I’d love feedback on all the questions that appear in bold throughout this article. Please comment below.

ARHtistic License: 2019 in Review

ARHtistic License: 2019 in Review

Last year at this time, ARHtistic License had almost 600 subscribers. As of this writing, readership has grown to 807. (I was hoping for 1,000—serves me right to set a goal over which I have absolutely no control.) If you occasionally read ARHtistic License and like what you see, please sign up to subscribe in the sidebar on the right. You will get email notifications whenever a new post drops, or, if you are also a WordPress blogger, ARHtistic License will show up in your Reader feed.

My Top Ten Most-Read Posts of 2019:

  1. NaPoWriMo 2019 #13 I participated in National Poetry Writing Month in April. This poem, What If, was featured on the official website.
  2. Phoenix Folk Dance Festival Photographs and videos of the annual festival my folk dance group puts on. We get participants from all over the country (and even some from Canada).
  3. Interview with Author Paul Mosier Fabulous Young Adult author, whose fourth book, Summer and July, is coming out July 2020.
  4. #DC383: Ratoon Three posts in the top 10 are my responses to the Diva Challenge, a zentangle challenge that is on a long-term hiatus due to a hand injury to the Certified Zentangle Teacher who ran it.
  5. Ugly Fabric Quilt Challenge This post is an examination of a phenomena that occurs in quilting groups.
  6. #DC385: Valentangle Another Diva Challenge response.
  7. Hiking in South Mountain Park, Phoenix Full of photos taken on my first hike in this beautiful desert park.
  8. An Interview with Quilter Stephanie Finnell I’ve been following Stephanie’s blog for years, and I love her quilts.
  9. Interview with Author Kathie McMahon Kathie is a former teacher and musician who has written several children’s musicals. Her first children’s book recently came out.
  10. #DC386: Drawings and Dewd Another Diva Challenge response.

elements of fiction

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on

Interspersed among the top most-read posts of 2019 are earlier posts which still receive lots of visits. Here are The Top Ten Older Posts Most Read in 2019:

  1. Jan van Eyck’s Crucifixion and the Last Judgment: Painted By a Committee This 2016 article explores the painters’ workshops and apprentice programs of the Renaissance.
  2. How to Make a Meme on a Mac Step-by-step instructions, first published in 2017.
  3. Escaping the Khmer Rouge: Review of Beautiful Hero by Jennifer H. Lau This review was written in 2016. The book went on to win at least 5 big awards.
  4. How to Practice Piano: Doh! Dohnányi The unplayable exercise book that is the bane of every pianist’s existence.
  5. 10 Best Zentangle Sites on the Web I wrote this in 2018. I need to write a sequel to this article, because I’ve discovered so many other good websites.
  6. Ballet Feet They’re not cute and dainty. Ballet dancers literally suffer for their art. This article was written in 2016.
  7. Hawaiian Quilting with Pat Gorelangton If you don’t know about Hawaiian quilts, you need to read this article, posted last year.
  8. U is for Unicorn Quilt Patterns During last year’s A-to-Z blogging challenge, I combined two of my obsessions—quilts and unicorns—for the letter U.
  9. 20 Tools Every Writer Needs Last year I posted this list of writer’s essentials.
  10. Review of The Accidental Tourist, or Why I’d Rather Read the Book than See the Movie I wrote this in 2016.

Interestingly, all of the above posts had more views than my second most-viewed post of 2019. Does that mean I’m not as good a writer as I used to be, or did those posts just have better SEO (something I rarely consider)?


Another way to gauge a post’s popularity is the number of “likes” it garners. Here are My Top Ten Most Liked Posts of 2019:

  1. Hiking in the Arboretum Beautiful Boyce-Thompson Arboretum.
  2. Hiking in South Mountain Park, Phoenix Also made the most-read list.
  3. NaPoWriMo #13 Also made the most-read list.
  4. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Assorted Vincas Wordless Wednesday and Flower of the Day are two popular photography challenges. Sometimes I combine my offerings into one post.
  5. Creative Juice #159 Creative Juice is a weekly feature. Every Friday I post links to 12 artistic articles I find on the web. It has its own following.
  6. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Red Bird of Paradise
  7. OctPoWriMo Day 1 A poem during October Poetry Writing Month.
  8. Flower of the Day: African Daisies
  9. Creative Juice #156
  10. OctPoWriMo Day 17 (5-way tie with the following:)
  11. Wordless Wednesday: Desert Path
  12. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Bloomin’ Barrel Cactus
  13. Wordless Wednesday/ Flower of the Day: Lantana
  14. Creative Juice #123

The saddest thing about this list is that these posts only received 19-32 likes. NaPoWriMo #13 had 260 views, but only 24 likes. I did the math—it’s only 9.23%. What does that mean? Did 90.77% of my readers hate it? Should I just give up blogging? It would free up a lot of my time if I did . . . I know this is a serious character flaw on my part, but I am so jealous of bloggers who get 100 likes on every post.


I also contribute to A Writer’s Path. Here are My Guest Posts for 2019:

  1. How to Do an Author School Visit
  2. Recycling for Writers
  3. Why Do Authors Need a Newsletter?
  4. How to Choose a Writer’s Conference to Attend
  5. How to Attend a Writer’s Conference: Before, During, and After
  6. How to Keep On Blogging
  7. Thinking About Theme When Writing
  8. Elements of Fiction
  9. Where Do You Write?

My Other Writing:

  • I rewrote The God of Paradox and gave it to my pastor to read. She identified two aspects she thought needed further study, and I’m rewriting again, almost halfway through.
  • The Unicornologist is at a standstill. I don’t know how to fix the manuscript the way it is. I’ve decided I need to start from the beginning and write it all over again, since I know the story from beginning to end.
  • I’m still submitting my poetry chapbook to every contest. As soon as I lose one, I do some tweaking and enter another. I was going to stop entering contests, but then I read one of the winning chapbooks and realized mine is comparable in quality.
  • I’m writing poems and drawing zentangles. I also joined a photography group at my church so I can improve my picture-taking.
  • I started a short story that is a retelling of The Nutcracker, but I’m stuck. I know where I want to go, but not sure how to get there from where I am.

My Goals for 2020:

  • I’ve said it for years, but I want to finish The God of Paradox and The Unicornologist and submit them.
  • I also want to find a home for my poetry chapbook.
  • I want to finish my other projects, like my children’s poetry book and the Nutcracker
  • I’ve done very little practicing of piano, guitar, and recorder. Greg and I have had health issues, and we’re on the “medical merry-go-round” with constant doctor appointments, test, blood draws, surgeries, etc. I hope we’ll get off the carousel soon so we can pick up some of the activities that have fallen by the wayside.
  • I need to decide whether to continue blogging, cut down on it, or give it up entirely.

Now it’s your turn:

  • How have you done with your creative endeavors this year? What are your creative goals for 2020? Share in the comments below. If you’ve posted about it on your blog, feel free to share the link.
  • Have you read all of my most popular posts this year? No? Make my day and choose, say, three of the ones listed above and let me know what you think.
  • If you read a post on any blog, not just mine, that you find well worth your while, please “like” it if you’re given the option. Or leave a brief comment. It gives us bloggers such a lift. Feel free to click the “like” button below, and share the article on all your social media. Build some good blogging karma for yourself. Or if you don’t blog yourself, wouldn’t it be a shame if your favorite bloggers quit and took up skydiving instead?

Guest Post: 6 Cool Ways to Incorporate Your Favorite Quotes into your Author Website by Web Design Relief


Thank you to the folks at Web Design Relief for today’s tips on including quotes on your blog or author website.


Who are the Internet-savvy marketing experts who are often quoted as saying, “Posting a quote on your author website will make it more personal and unique”? Okay, it’s us—but it’s true: Sharing your favorite quotes on your author website will offer your visitors a window into your interests, beliefs, and aspirations. If you’re wondering where quotes will work best in your website design, we have some great suggestions! (And you can quote us on that!)

Where To Feature Quotes In Your Author Website Design

1. Homepage

Since your homepage is usually the first page a visitor will land on when checking out your website, it’s a great place to feature one of your favorite quotes—especially right at the top where it can’t be missed. For extra impact, consider using a program like Photoshop to create a graphic banner of your quote!

2. Sidebar

Your sidebar can feature more than just the navigation to your recent articles and social media links. A short quote can liven up an otherwise mundane sidebar and make your website more memorable.

3. About Me Page

Many writers like to include a short “About Me” page that features a formal bio that mentions published works along with details about hobbies, interests, or other personal info. If there is a quote that holds special meaning for you, share it on your “About Me” page—and maybe even explain why it is so significant to you. This is a great way to give your fans insight into your own personal story so that they feel a stronger connection with you and your writing.

To continue reading this article, click here.

N is for North Mountain Park

N is for North Mountain Park

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email:

Hi Andrea,
It’s me, Textile Ranger!  I am going to be in Phoenix the first part of next week, April 8 and 9, staying by North Mountain State Park.  I have stayed there before a few years ago, so you when you wrote about hiking at South Mountain, that registered with me.  It may be very far from your part of Phoenix to where I will be, but I just wanted to check with you about possibly meeting for lunch or an art museum visit or something on one of those days.  If you can’t make it, that is fine, but I didn’t want to come to Phoenix without mentioning it to you.
If you don’t know, Textile Ranger is the blogger behind Deep in the Heart of Textiles. I can’t remember how I stumbled across it, but I love it for the quilts Textile Ranger creates. She’s interested in (and writes about) everything textile, from fibers and dyes to antique clothing. She’s been weaving for decades. (She also has a nature blog, Little Wild Streak.) So, she’s something of a celebrity to me, and I jumped at the chance to meet her in person. And since I’ve been meaning to check out North Mountain Park, I suggested we hike there together before going out to lunch.
We met last Tuesday at the Visitor Center. She gifted me with a nifty water bottle holder that clips on nicely to the shoulder bag I usually carry when I’m hiking. Now I have a free hand!


Textile Ranger

And off we went. Ranger (she spent two summers as a park ranger at Big Bend) suggested a 2 1/2 mile trail that didn’t have any steep elevations. Perfect for walking and talking.
The huge park has breathtaking desert and mountain views. We had some good rains a few weeks ago, and we’ve been rewarded with lovely wildflowers.
Globemallow below:
I want to call these buttercups, but I’m not sure that’s what they are:
These flowers remind me of how little children draw flowers, just circles on a stem; I don’t know what they are–
But there was an area that was literally blanketed with them:
And the palo verde trees are just beginning to bloom:
Closeup of a pale verde blossom:
And the cholla cactus has these beautiful magenta blooms:
Back at the visitor’s center, there is a water fountain that dispenses chilled water. Heavenly! And there are beautiful plantings by the building. Don’t know what this bush is:
I think this is a pink globemallow:
Cool sculptures:
Which are the perfect backdrop for another picture of the Textile Ranger:
I am so thrilled that Textile Ranger is not just a virtual friend any more, but a real friend whom I know face to face. We have lots in common. She’s also a former elementary school teacher, and she loves to read. I’m so touched that she reached out to me. Be sure to check out her blogs, Deep in the Heart of  Textiles and Little Wild StreakShe’s going to post her take on North Mountain Park on Little Wild Streak today.
North Mountain Park is a place I will explore in more detail in the future.