Photo Contests Win you Likes

March 10th, 2011

By now everyone knows that Social Media is a great networking tool and it’s important for businesses to take advantage of it. I wonder how many small businesses are still confused over how to use social media as a marketing tool, especially after being told that social media is NOT for advertising, it’s for starting conversations and building relationships.

One way that you can gain a lot of new exposure through social media without directly promoting yourself, is to hold a contest. Everyone likes to win something so it’s natural for people to share your link with all their friends in hopes of upping their chance of winning. There are many other ways of using social media effectively, but today I’d like to share a personal experience with you…

Recently I entered another photo contest and WON this time! It was put on by April Martin Photography – Forever in a Moment.

Here is the photo I entered in the contest:
Photo Contest

We were SO excited to win! Not only that but we had SO much fun! April is a friendly and playful photographer. She really put us at ease and made us feel comfortable in front of the camera. We LOVE the photos she took of us and we will definitely be recommending her to our friends.

Here are the ways that hosting a photo contest has benefited April’s business:

  • more exposure
  • so far she has gone from 400 likes to >1600!*
  • we will definitely recommend her to all our friends
  • one of our friends already hired her for a photo session
  • it’s extremely likely we’ll hire her in the future
  • she was able to add to her portfolio

Here are a few of the photos she took of us:
April Martin PhotographyApril Martin PhotographyApril Martin Photography

Thank you April!

On a further note, not only did we win a black and white photo session from April, but I also won a $25 gift certificate from 99.9 Sun FM. Susan Knight was asking people to upload photos of themselves dancing at work and I submitted the following collage of photos that April took at my art studio!

Studio Session with Photographer April Martin

By submitting this photo I won the Subway gift card. It also exposed April’s business to over 3000 people, which is the number of fans who like Susan Knight’s facebook page.

Thank you April and Susan!

If you are going to run your own contest have fun but also make sure that if you are using a social media platform you are aware of their policies and restrictions. Also take the time to make your contest rules clear and test it out before you make it public. The less confusion there is then the better your success rate will be. Feel free to share your stories with me in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences!

*this increase was over the span of 2 months and 3 different contests

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Fun for the Whole Family

November 11th, 2010

Last weekend I was at the 2010 Grad and Wedding Expo at Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna, BC. There were hundreds of booths and a big fashion show, but the most memorable and fun part of the show were the interactive booths by Voth Photography and Okanagan Digital Media Productions. (Oh and I also loved the booth by Cupcasions where we got to try two kinds of cupcakes. Yum!)

Okanagan Digital Media Productions
and Okanagan Photo Booths are owned by videographer/editor/producer John Thiessen. To attract a crowd to his display, he brought a portable photo booth with him to the show. It worked! Moms, daughters, brides, grooms, best friends, all were lining up to take photos in his photo booth. I didn’t even realize how much fun it would be until I was given our photos. They are so cool. This was definitely a highlight of the show.

The brilliant part about his marketing plan is that every single person who visited his booth and got their pictures taken went home with photo-strips with his website and phone number on them! I’m sure I’m not the only one who looked up his website and posted my photo-strip on facebook.

I’m especially pleased to announce that an Okanagan Photo Booth is going to be at the public viewing of our Gingerbread House Building Competition at Parkinson Rec Centre in Kelowna, BC from 5-7pm on Sunday, November 21st! John is donating the booth and his time to our event. This will be so much fun for the whole family! Be sure to come on out to see the Gingerbread Houses and to get your pictures taken in the photo booth. For a small (optional) donation of your choice you can get your pictures taken and you get to take home the photo-strip! Partial proceeds will be donated to the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs.

The other booth at the trade show which ties for the most fun, in my opinion, was Voth Photography. Sean and Melissa are a husband and wife photography team based out of Penticton. They do professional photo shoots from the Okanagan Valley to Vancouver. In their booth they had a basket of props and a big art deco backdrop to take people’s pictures for a facebook contest. They also had black on white signs which you could hold up for effect which said things such as “Where’s the cake?”, “Wedding Crasher” or “Off the Market”.

The brilliant part about their marketing plan is that their facebook contest not only gains them lots of exposure from contestants sharing and tagging the photos, but it also generates likes on their facebook fan page from the contestants and their friends. Expanding your network is a key strategy in any marketing plan but especially important with social media.

Contestants are likely to promote this contest not only on facebook, but on their blogs too as I’m doing here…

The prize for the facebook contest is not one but TWO photo sessions. I would LOVE to win this. It would be so much fun! If you are on facebook and you would like to help me win all you have to do is go to the Voth Photography Facebook Fan Page, “like” their page and then tag yourself in our photo. Please let me know if you do these steps so that I can keep track of our ‘votes’. Thank you! :)

Click this picture to see my photo on the fan page:

Voth Photography

Have you ever had a booth at a trade show or art fair? What have you done to gain exposure at your booth?

If you’d like to read a story about what I did to draw attention to my booth at the Sun Peaks Arts and Culture Festival last winter, you might be interested in these blog posts:

“Attracting People with Watercolour Magic”
“Unveiling the Magic of Watercolour”

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Gingerbread Competition

November 10th, 2010

I love it when people prove to me that dreams can come true. My fiancé has been dreaming of a Gingerbread House Building Competition for the last 4 years and this year he is making it happen.

Our vision is for this  premier event to begin a Kelowna tradition and annual competition to support the Okanagan Boys and Girls Club and the local community. With the support from local chefs, we aim to display some of the amazing talent found in the Okanagan Valley.

Our event takes place on Sunday, November 21st at Parkinson Recreation Centre in Kelowna, BC. The packaged kit category commences at 10am and at the same time people can start dropping off their open category creations. The public viewing will take place from 5-8pm. See the full schedule…

If you’d like to participate in this event, please visit the Registration page of our site. Sponsorship and donation opportunities are also available. Partial proceeds from this event will be donated to the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and all of the non-perishable food donations we receive will go towards their Christmas hampers.

All of the information you need to become a sponsor, a participant or a spectator can be found on our website at:

Gingerbread House Building Competition

Let us know if you have any questions by emailing Clinton at chairman at gingerbreadcompetition dot ca.

We would be pleased to hear any feedback you have including where you first heard of this event. If you live in the Okanagan you may have heard ads on the radio from our media sponsors at SilkFM, SunFM and AM1150! Have you seen our website, our twitter page, posters, facebook page, flyers, or facebook event? Or is this the first place you are reading about it?

facebook eventAre you on Facebook? Visit our facebook page!

Hope to see you there!

Open Studio Show

November 8th, 2010

When I moved into my art studio in August 2007 it was like a dream come true, and about 10 years earlier than expected. It was one of those things where I couldn’t really afford it, but I couldn’t afford not to either. The amazing part was that I did not seek this studio out, the opportunity presented itself to me almost like a gift from the Universe.

When I first moved into my studio I sent out an email inviting people to a watercolour workshop.

Shots of the studio before I moved in and after I set it up for my workshop.

I received an email back from Carrie Harper, an artist who I had never met but who was on my mailing list from a mutual contact a few years back. Her email was short and sweet: “Any advice on Studio hunting in Kelowna… I have been looking for a while and finding spaces very expensive. Thanks.” I wrote back to her saying that I didn’t really know of any studios for rent.

Then only a couple of weeks later my studio partner told me that she was going to have to move out. I called Carrie up and asked her if she was still looking for a studio space. She came to see the studio and she couldn’t have been more excited or a more perfect partner for me. We get along so great, it’s like we are soul sisters.

Every November Carrie and I put together a Christmas Studio Show so that our friends and family can see what we have been creating throughout the year. It has been a joy to have our neighbour Nikki Balfour open her doors and join in on the events. We love the atmosphere of having both studios open where the guests can flow through from one room to the other.

We are thrilled to announce that our show has expanded. This year Nikki, Carrie and I have organized a studio show with SEVEN artists displaying and selling their work ranging from mixed media and photography to jewelry, ceramics and felted Christmas tree decorations! Carrie and I are currently sharing our studio space with another talented artist, Tina Schnellert, and it’s been so exciting seeing all of her new encaustics going up on the walls. You have got to come and see these pieces in person to appreciate their rich texture.

Open Studio Show November 26-27, 2010

We invite you to our 4th annual Christmas Art Show!
Studios 4 & 5, 375 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, BC
Friday, November 26th 5-9pm
Saturday, November 27th, from 11am to 4pm

(Sunday by appointment)

Get to know the 7 artists displaying and selling their work:

We would love for you to come by.

facebook eventAre you on Facebook? Visit our event page!

Celebration and Fundraiser for Arts Program

August 9th, 2010

Acrylic Black Eyed Susans painting by Kendra Smith

Someone will win this 8×8 acrylic painting of mine for only $50! I donated it to a fundraiser for the Whistler Arts Workshops on the Lake program. It’s an amazing program where the Whistler Arts Council offers art workshops in a beautiful cabin on Alta Lake in Whistler, BC. I was lucky enough to take a workshop there this July and the whole time I was in artist heaven!

Here is more information from the Whistler Arts Council:

Whistler Arts Council

The Whistler Arts Council (WAC) would like to invite you to a celebration and fundraiser in support of Whistler Art Workshops on the Lake program. The event will take place at the beautiful Nita Lake Lodge on Sunday, September 12, from 4pm to 7pm.

The event will focus on a raffle of original artwork created by emerging and professional artists including some of the Art Workshops instructors. Raffle tickets for the 8” x 8” pieces of artwork are $50 each. As people’s names are drawn, they choose a piece of artwork; it’s a matter of first come first serve. It is a fun way to purchase amazing and affordable original art! There will be a cash bar, complimentary appetizers and the opportunity to mingle with fellow artists and art lovers.

WAC also invites you to consider contributing to the event by painting a canvas (or two!) for the raffle. Canvases will be supplied by WAC.

The Whistler Art Workshops on the Lake program is entering its 5th season and offers two to four day workshops of introductory to advanced level instruction in visual art led by world-renowned professional artists from across Canada . The workshops are held in the serene and rustic Alta Lake Station House set on the shores of Alta Lake .

Demo by David McEown at Whistler on the Lake Art Workshop

David McEown demonstrates watercolour painting at the Alta Lake Cabin during a Whistler on the Lake workshop.

Unfortunately, this popular program is threatened after the recent budget cuts to the provincial BC Arts Council and Gaming Grants. These cuts have greatly impacted arts and culture organizations throughout the province that provide economic, social, and institutional value to our community.

Volunteers, in partnership with the Whistler Arts Council, have come together to create a fun fundraising event that will not only provide a source of much-needed funding, but also offer a forum to showcase local talent.

Please attend this celebration and – if you are an artist – consider contributing a work of art in support of this terrific program that has seen so many emerging artists grow into the creators of sought-after masterpieces.

Deadline for artwork submission is Friday, September 3rd.

Contact the Whistler Arts Council or the volunteers below to purchase your ticket to the celebration or to pick up your canvas for creation.

Thank you and we hope to see you on September 12th!

This excerpt was written by Jenn McElroy, the Event Coordinator at the Whistler Arts Council. For more information about the event you can contact Lisa Geddes or Bea Gonzalez:

Lisa Geddes – (604) 932 6054 or email: lisaandbill at gmail dot com

Bea Gonzalez – (604) 932-8390 or email: beagon at telus dot net

If you find yourself in Whistler, BC, you can visit the Whistler Arts Council at at Millennium Place, 4335 Blackcomb Way, across from the Brewhouse.

Keya White and I painting canvases for the Whistler Art Workshops on the Lake fundraiser

Kendra Smith and Keya White painting canvases for the fundraiser

Spiritual Alignment

July 26th, 2010

On July 13th I was signed up for a free call for my life coach Beth’s Inspired Speaker Series. Every month she interviews one of her mentors, colleagues, or friends and anyone can join in to get inspired. On July 13th I was especially interested in the call because the Inspired guest speaker was one of my own graphic design clients, Angel Therapist Deborah Wilson.

One of things that Deborah talked about is how each and every one of us has the ability to tune into our spiritual intuition. Have you thought about one of your friends out of the blue and then received an email from them an hour later? Or have you ever said you were going to do something and then, without even seeking it, receive exactly what you need to move forward?

Deborah calls these intuitive thoughts ‘spiritual downloads’ and she believes that you can learn how to tune into them and grow your spiritual awareness.

On the call I couldn’t think of a question to ask (at first) but I did speak up and say that I love the thought of the Universe starting to conspire in our favor when we put something out there. Deborah says that the Universe is always trying to conspire in our favor but that it’s up to us to allow it to do so. She says that when we ‘make a decision’ we are coming into alignment. When we get ‘really clear about something we want’ it almost seems like we instantaneously get what we asked for.

Part of me believes in the power of the Universe and part of me believes that it is about creating a state of awareness. If you have your head down and you are only thinking about the negative aspects of your life, then you might miss out on seeing opportunities as they arise. Whereas if you keep your head up and you are clear about what you do want to create a more positive life for yourself then you will naturally be more aware of these opportunities as they come your way.

It’s Deborah’s birthday tomorrow so I just want to take this opportunity to say “Happy Birthday Deborah!”

If you would like to comment on this or any of your own experiences, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Garden Angel by Kendra Smith

To find out more about Deborah Wilson you can visit her Angels and Prosperity Facebook Page or her Angels and Prosperity website. To sign up for the Inspired Speaker Series and gain free access to the recording of Deborah’s call on Spirtual Alignment (the one I am on) you can go to Beth’s Inspired Speaker Series webpage.

Painting in the Park

July 16th, 2010

When I lived in Fernie, BC, my friends and I used to have painting parties together. Basically that just meant that we would get together and paint for fun. Last Friday when I was in Whistler, my friend Keya was visiting me from Fernie and we kept up our tradition by having a little painting party in the park. Here we are painting canvases by Alta Lake in Whistler, BC:

Kendra Smith and Keya White Painting in the Park

It is so fun to paint with a friend. I love it.

Here are the little paintings we did:

8x8 Acrylic Paintings by Kendra Smith and Keya White

On September 10th these paintings will be raffled off at a fundraiser for the Whistler Arts Council in support of the Whistler on the Lake Art Workshops program. You can see more of Keya White’s paintings at

Sun Peaks Wine and Culture Festival 2010

July 15th, 2010

This weekend I am heading to Sun Peaks, BC where I will be paired with Bella restaurant. There are four other artists who will also be paired with resort restaurants on Saturday, July 17th as guests tour from location to location throughout the stunning alpine village. Visitors will learn about various art mediums while tasting some of the finest wines British Columbia has to offer and indulging in sumptuous tapas created by Sun Peaks Chefs.

Reservations are required, tickets are 49.00$ per person. For more information you can check out the Sun Peaks Resort website or contact Tourism Sun Peaks at .

On July 18th there is a second opportunity to meet the artists and view our work in the “Art Zone” outside Tree Line Studios in the heart of the village.

Sun Peaks Wine and Culture Festival Artwalk July 17th and 18th 2010

Participating artist include:
Kendra Smith (myself)
Ken Farrar
Vic Strikaitis
Joanne Hastie
Sol Metal Designs

New Blog!

July 13th, 2010

On May 1st Blogger took away support for self-hosted blogs and I didn’t care for their other options. I decided that a WordPress blog would suit me better but then I was so busy that I didn’t have time to port it over. I’m so happy to announce that I have finally moved my blog over to WordPress. Since I hadn’t been able to update my blog for the last few months I had TEN new blog entries waiting to be posted. I am so happy to be blogging again!

Let me know if you have any suggestions. Thanks!

Artist Heaven

July 12th, 2010

Last night at midnight I got home from a week of painting in Whistler, BC. I was buzzing the whole drive home. My 3 day workshop with David McEown was amazing. I LOVED it! The advanced workshop lived up to it’s name as we tackled a very complex studio piece of the Larch Trees and waterfalls near Lake O’Hara. It was great to learn how to approach the layers of the painting and keep the whites in the water.

On Friday my artist friend Keya White and I biked around Alta Lake and painted 8×8 canvases to donate to a fundraiser for the Whistler Arts Council. On September 10th they are going draw the raffle winners and someone will get to take home my painting and support the Whistler on the Lake Art Workshops at the same time.

On Saturday I took the gondola up to the top of Whistler Mountain. I spent the full day hiking and painting. The views were stunning. Here are the four en plein air paintings I did over the course of the day:

Whistler on the Lake

June 20th, 2010

I’m so excited! In two weeks I am going to Whistler to take a 3 day workshop by watercolour artist David McEown. He is an amazing watercolour artist. I love how he keeps so much light in his work. Every shape is delicately drawn and perfect, yet inside the shapes he lets the watercolour melt and do its thing. It is simply wonderful. You must see his work:

An interesting side note is that I actually found out about this workshop on Twitter! I just happened to catch a tweet from the Whistler Arts Council about their workshops at the cabin on the lake and when I saw this workshop with David McEown I knew it was the one for me. I called them right away to sign up.

I haven’t taken a workshop in quite a few years. I’ve wanted to take one but hadn’t found the right one until now. I can’t wait!

Find out more about the Whistler on the Lake arts program…

I paint on Thursdays

June 10th, 2010

I’m so busy these days with client meetings and creating websites that I haven’t had much time for anything else. In order to keep myself inspired and in the studio, I dedicated Thursdays to be my painting day. This is what I painted today:


June 1st, 2010

Today is the deadline for Lake Country ArtWalk and I was literally mailing off my application at the last minute. Why is it that I tend to procrastinate until the last minute of a deadline? I had a couple of months to prepare for this entry and I guess I thought I had lots of time… until time ran out that is. Thank goodness for deadlines or I wonder if I would ever get anything done!

To find out more about ArtWalk, visit their website at

Painting Angels

May 27th, 2010

My studio partner Carrie and I sometimes call each other our angels. We are so lucky we found each other. We connect at the heart and love just sharing our energy.

Both of us have been so busy lately that we haven’t been spending much time at the studio. Today Carrie invited me over to her house for some good old fashioned painting. It’s always fun to paint with someone else. Sometimes it’s more social then productive, but I love it. I call days like this ‘a painting party’.

Carrie with her angel paintings (You can see more of Carrie’s work at

The Pear Workshop

Studio Day

May 20th, 2010

Today I painted two more paintings for my series of children in the snow: “Enjoying the Sun” and “Taking a Little Break”

Art of the Cover

April 15th, 2010

The Evans Gallery co-hosted this event tonight in conjunction with the Wine Festival Society to display and offer for sale works they have collected over the years that have appeared on the cover of Wine Festival guides. Two of my pieces were included: one that appeared on the Spring Wine Festival Guide cover in 2006 and the other on the 2007 Sun Peaks IceWine Festival brochure. The art show goes until May 15th, 2010.

Kendra Smith with her paintings at Art of the Cover

Sopa Fine Arts U8 Opening

April 1st, 2010

Tonight was the grand opening for Sopa Fine Arts ‘U8’ event. ‘U8’ stands for Under 800 as in all of the original art in the show is priced under eight hundred dollars. On our way to the show our friends called us and they were in the line up which they said went down the street. I was hoping to get there in time to feel the energy of the line up but by the time we arrived everyone had spilled in the front door. It was still electric. The gallery was buzzing. Red dots were flying up on the wall.

I have one piece in this show, a 12×12 acrylic called Rose Hips.

Acrylic painting on canvas Rose Hips by Kendra Smith

Risk vs Reward

March 25th, 2010

Wow, it’s been a whole year since the last day of my teaching job. Last year in February I gave my notice at the Digital Art School where I worked part time, so that I could paint full time. With the Olympics a year away I didn’t want to be stuck marking projects, I wanted to be in my art studio painting Whistler mountain scenes!

Giving my notice at work was a financial risk for me and it paid off big time, but maybe not in the way you might expect. You see, after a whole year of painting full time with the end goal of the Olympics in mind, I ended up not selling one single painting during the Olympics. This was a huge disappointment to me of course, but when I look back at what I have gained over the last year, I have to say that it was definitely worth it.

Having the time to paint full time gave me the freedom to express myself creatively. My painting time was no longer limited to a few days every couple months. When I paint sporadically it is like starting from scratch each time; the first few paintings never quite turn out. However, when I have the chance to paint continuously for a longer block of time then I am really able to get on a roll. The paintings just start to flow.

It was such a great feeling to go to my studio every day. I feel like my paintings jumped up to a new level of colour and intensity. So even though my year didn’t quite turn out the way I envisioned, the creative rewards were definitely worth the risk.

Do you have any stories of a time when you took a risk and it paid off, financially or otherwise? Share your comments, I’d love to hear from you!

My Artist Statement

March 23rd, 2010

I have always had a bio and more recently a mission statement, but I have never written an artist statement. It is something that I have thought of doing for a while now and I finally got inspired to take the plunge and create an artist statement for myself. Please feel free to comment with feedback. Thanks!

I am a professional artist, designer and workshop instructor. I paint original acrylic and watercolour paintings ranging from the whimsical to the realistic. I have my father’s eternal optimism and it comes out in the light in my work. My watercolour paintings are filled with light and life and love.

My paintings are mostly of nature which touches people’s heart in a place that brings them back to their childhood. The promise of an escape into nostalgia makes us smile and fills us with hope.

I love watercolours because of their purity and luminosity. The transparent watercolours allow the light to reflect off the paper which can make a painting glow. My favourite scenes to paint are in the snow which is pure and elegant on its own. Snow is natural to paint in watercolour because it is mostly the white of the paper. I’ve found a lot of joy in finding all of the different nuances of colour that you can actually find in snow and then making them come to life by painting in the shadows.

My acrylic paintings have a different nature altogether. I use vivid colours and paint brightly coloured flowers and leaves as my main theme. I like to start with the colour of my subject as a ground on the canvas and then paint the background around it.

While my painting styles are different for the two mediums, all of my work is about discovery. I am exploring the nuances of nature and discovering new ways of seeing the world. I often paint in the quiet. As my right brain takes over, time can pass without me even realising; when I get into the zone and I’m laying down the perfect wash, it makes my heart sing.

If you are interested in writing your own artist statement, you can check out these awesome resources:
How to Write and Artist Statement ~ by Molly Gordon
How to Write a Wicked Artist Statement ~ by Miranda Aschenbrenner

The difference a paper can make

March 22nd, 2010

I was inspired by Dora Themelis to write this post. (You can find her on twitter at I commented on her post about painting with watercolours where she compares two wonderful portraits she has done. Thinking about the importance of the materials behind every artist prompted me to write more of my own experience in a blog post as well.

Watercolours aren’t easy at first and especially for complicated subjects. The more detail you are adding to a painting the higher the possibility of roughing up the paper surface causing streaks, lines and smudges to appear in your painting. This is very discouraging for the beginning artist and can deter some people from painting with watercolours. Watercolours are known for their pure luminous quality so it is extremely frustrating when all you end up with are dull overworked paintings.

It can take a lot of practice painting layered transparent washes but with the right paints and techniques it is possible to end up with a glowing rich painting. I also believe that the paper you are using can make a world of difference.

For example, a heavier paper would make the whole process so much easier. I use 300 pound cold press paper and it really helps. It’s hard to explain how much difference a paper can make but it can truly be a huge factor in the success of the painting. The cold press paper has a rough texture which gives the painting a “tooth” for the paint to grab onto which is great for dry-brushing texture such as ice, bark, pebbles, a roof, etc.

The weight of the paper makes it less susceptible to curling and puddling. It also makes the paper more forgiving which means you won’t be as likely to rub off the surface fibres of the paper as you apply multiple brushstrokes in one area.

It’s also important to note that the brand of paper you are using can also a big difference which in my opinion can be night and day. I love Arches paper. The colours seem to blend a lot smoother. It has just the right amount of sizing which is applied to these cotton papers so that they won’t absorb the water too quickly. I guess it kind of protects the paper from getting waterlogged in a way. I have used other papers which have been nearly impossible to paint a smooth clean wash on without getting streaks or run-backs, cauliflower like stains in the painting.

Here is an example of two washes I made using 140 pound paper of two different brands. I used the same technique in both examples.

As far as painting styles you will develop your own as your familiarity with the medium increases. Watercolour can be frustrating for sure, but I absolutely love the medium. When I lay down the perfect wash it makes my heart sing.