Monday, October 26, 2015

Muddy is 5

-By Arnie Fenner

Five years ago Dan dos Santos gathered a disparate group of artists, designers, educators, and art directors and launched this blog site. The purpose was simple: to share and talk about art and subjects that concern artists (artsy or otherwise).

The internet, of course, is overflowing with websites, chatrooms, blogs, podcasts, and social media platforms: some are valuable, many are bland, and there are plenty that show just how full of crap some people really are. Everybody has opinions and most everybody on the web likes to share theirs, whether sound or silly.

But it's one thing to have an opinion and quite another to be able to back it up.

I think that's the nicest aspect of Muddy Colors: whether anyone agrees with the writer or not, the posts are thought out and the opinions expressed carefully considered. The posters to MC can "back it up," either with due diligence research or, often, first-hand experiences.

Naturally there are no absolutes; certainly there's always room for disagreement or alternative views. But at the end of the day, what helps separate Muddy Colors from the pack is the respect the bloggers have for the audience—which is most often returned in kind. As a rule of thumb, Dan doesn't block naughty people and leaves outlandish comments on the threads (up to a point, I imagine), just so readers will be able to recognize an asshat when they see one.

Overall, though, Muddy Colors is a place for the sincere exchange of ideas and polite conversation, not for cage-match fisticuffs; even in the instances when opinions are strongly expressed (particularly in the comments thread), courtesy generally prevails. Not always, but usually.

That's a rare thing these days.

And when the Muddies disagree with each other (and we do) it never devolves into a public donnybrook: this isn't a place for the fan game of "let's you and him fight" for the amusement of all to be played out. This isn't Facebook. Muddy Colors makes it easy to observe a certain sense of decorum and everyone—we Muddies and you readers—benefits as a result.

Dan's idea was that a new post would appear every day, five days a week, by a rotating group of contributors. He's stuck to that schedule and, though a few Muddies are occasionally slow to get out of bed, has never missed a date; in fact he's expanded the schedule to posts six days and it's not unheard of for something to sneak in on a Sunday here and there.

MC has steadily grown since its inception, routinely attracting something in the area of 10,000 unique visitors a day—primarily from the U.S., though residents of Canada, Brazil, Australia, Europe, and Russia are all frequent browsers, too. Those sorts of figures would greatly excite paying advertisers, but Dan has elected to forego that model: it doesn't fit with his purpose for or vision of the blog.

For several years Muddy Colors sponsored a "Rising Stars" booth at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live. We ran out of time (and space) to do it properly this year, but there are plans to do it again in San Francisco. The Spectrum Rising Star Award that was created by Kristine and Colin Poole and presented at SFAL4 in May is an outgrowth of the MC recognition and Dan was one of the judges that determined the 2015 winner, Wylie Beckert.

So far the posts have generated 12,354,343 page views. And the most popular? "What Women Want…in Women Characters" by Lauren Panepinto with 152,542 looks and 256 comments. There were happy readers, there were unhappy readers, but either way the number of eyes looking at Lauren's post is pretty astonishing. Her post "Artist Selfies: Everybody's Doing It" wasn't the least bit controversial but was extremely popular as well with 52,147 page views. Several of Greg Manchess' "10 Things…" posts are appropriately in the top ten for visitors and there are many anxiously waiting for Greg's next installments. And for a reason I can't begin to fathom, my post about the various TV/film incarnations of Batman (because I couldn't think of anything to write about on my day) was the view-leader for many months with 69,343 hits until Lauren's women characters essay blew it out of the water. The scamp. The fairly recent additions of Greg Ruth, Howard Lyon, William O'Connor, Vanessa and Ron Lemen, and Dave Palumbo to the roster of regular posters increases MC's diversity and adds greatly to the conversation.

What will happen in the future?

More, I guess. More new contributors will continue to be added; regulars will stay or pop in or out and, a few, will go. Subject matter will continue to be eclectic, usually informative, sometimes eccentric, but definitely unique. There will be more advice, more tips, more suggestions, and most probably more posts that will get at least a few people's panties in a wad.

Today we are 5.

Join me in raising a glass to our founder Dan dos Santos (our fearless leader photographed above by Greg Preston), to the Muddy Crew, and to all of you readers for making this blog what it is. Salute!


  1. Fantastic job everyone at MC! I guess I've been a follower since nearly the beginning. The blog keeps getting better and better.

  2. I'd also like to mention that if you figure out a way to search past articles by certain authors, you'd probably have even more page views and I know I for one would be thankful. I know you can search names of authors in the search but unless I'm mistaken there is no way to click on a name and see all the articles that specific author has written in the past.
    Thanks again and keep up the good work.

    1. Unfortunately, that's one of several limitations to the blogger software. Dan knows much more about it than I do, but I think it would take a separate full-blown website with a built-in specific search function and that's not possible in this particular venue. Yet.

    2. Thanks for the reply Arnie. Yeah I figured it would be difficult. I think I'll just start pinning certain articles on pinterest or some other way of keeping track.

  3. happy birthday muddy colors! i consider myself a craftsperson (rather than an artist) but i really enjoy all your posts because they help me expand my understanding of the arts behind the crafts. i hope to see your blog for many years to come!

  4. Muddy Colors has helped me so much in terms of growing as an artist (and a person in general) and constantly broadening my horizons, I will always feel indebted to this awesome group of people who so gracefully devote their time and energy to us all.

    I will definitely crack open a good bottle of whisky tonight and make a toast to you Dan, and all of you Muddies.

    Thank you and long live Muddy Colors !

    Jon C Pool

  5. Personal Thank You for all the work done. Being regular visitor for last 2 years, I actually encountered site through Noah Bradley. Greetings from Ireland, Vaclav Novak

  6. DDS for president. Yay Muddy Colors!

  7. Congrats on the anniversary and thanks for providing such awesome content. My morning coffee wouldn't be the same without!

  8. Aw, thanks for the generous words, Arnie. It wouldn't be possible without you.

  9. Well said Arnie and here's to Dan, the founder of the feast!!

  10. Congratulations and a sincere thank you to each of the authors for everything you taught us.

    Concidentally, it's also my birthday today, so I will raise a glass to Muddycolors as well :)

  11. ooh, I share a birthday with muddy colors! Score!

  12. I'm not an artist but I am an art admirer. I viewed this page out of curiosity after finding a link through Dan dos Santos' page. (I was there also by curiosity after noting that the art work on two different book series I read looked very similar and then confirming both series were done by the same artist. I won't say I only read them because of the cover but they were eye catching enough to want to give them a try and make the reading even more enjoyable.)
    That said I now find myself checking this blog a couple of times a week and enjoying most of the posts even when the content talks about techniques which I know nothing about. I enjoy those that deal with how a piece came to be step by step the most. Truly stunning.
    So from all of us out there who wish we were artistically inclined I salute you Muddy Colors. Happy 5th and heres hoping for more!

  13. Thanks Dan for my favorite blog! Your dedication is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all the Muddy Crew for the daily inspiration and Congrats on 5 yrs!

  14. Thank you for keeping this blog going. I'm sure it is a lot of work, even with the work shared. I appreciate the technical aspects, the beauty, the variety of posts and artists. Thank you again, to all of you! I don't comment often, but I check you folks every day. My day job isn't art, I regret that I don't draw/paint/sculpt very often, but by ghod I am glad you are here!

  15. Happy birthday Muddy Colors gang! I'm so grateful for all the information and inspiration you share so generously!

  16. I agree with jeffkunze, I'd definitely use a feature which listed all posts by a certain author:

  17. I'll "third" the suggestion about the author post search. And, of course, many thanks to all the very talented and generous artists who make this one of the top art blogs on the internet (okay, not the result of a scientific poll, but how could it not be?).

  18. Thank you, Dan. And thank you, Muddy Colors bloggers, for enriching my life with inspiration and enjoyment every day.

  19. This is definitely my favourite blog on the internet. Thank you Dan for making this come true and thank you all contributors for all the time and effort you put into giving back to this great community!

  20. Congrats!
    And thank you for keeping it up!


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