Archive for March, 2008

Framing Your Artwork Part 1

A 5 Part Series in 21 Installments
Just kidding. (kinda) When I started working on this concept for a blog post it started as a two part series and just kept growing. So framing Your Artwork will be in 2 posts. And since oil pastels have relatively special needs when it comes to framing, and a few people have been wondering what to do. I will address How To Frame Oil Pastels in the near future.

Proper framing is an important part of selling your artwork. So here are some things to consider when choosing your framing.

Use the best quality framing materials you can afford. I want to start by saying I use only archival and acid free materials when framing my original artwork. You should consider doing this for 2 reasons.

1.Why should a buyer be willing to invest money in your art if you aren’t? I can’t tell you how many times I have seen artists with cheapo framing of garage sale quality, that have their work priced like they think it is something special. If someone is art savvy enough to be willing to shell out big money for your artwork, poor framing may turn them off to buying. Framing quality is a reflection of your professionalism.

In a similar vein, be aware of damaged frames. I do many art fairs every year and the packing and unpacking is really hard on the artwork. I put extra effort in protecting the artwork for traveling, by wrapping each painting in foam and slipping into it’s own box. But if a frame gets beat up, I replace it.

2.Protection of artwork. There are several types of matboard (and glass) out there with various conservation properties. (These will be discussed in depth in part 2.) The framing should provide adequate protection of artwork, not assist in its destruction.

Match your frame style to your artwork style. Choose framing that is stylistically similar to the artwork you are producing. I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

Avoid too much extravagance. Proper framing provides a field in which to view the artwork undistracted. If the framing is too fancy with loads of specialty cuts, patterned matboard or exotic or stylistically inappropriate framing, the viewer may look more at the framing than at the work. However, good framing when done properly, can elevate a mediocre piece of art.

I will occasionally dress up my prints with specialty cuts (fancy cut outs or v-grooves) but I almost never put them on original work. I do use specialty matboards (like suedes or silks) on originals quite often, but I avoid harsh patterns that might distract. A good rule of thumb, if you are spending your time admiring the clever frame job, then its too much.

Always frame to enhance the artwork. I think this is the main difference between how interior decorators choose framing and how artists choose framing. But since you have no idea where the painting is going, or how trends will change in the future. You should choose framing to complement the work, not the current color palette of home decor (unless you get lucky enough that current trends also complement the work.)

Be aware of current trends. Umm, I know this sounds like I have just contradicted myself, but bear with me. The point of this is not to copy what is out there. But being informed of what is popular can only assist you when framing your work for resale. The best way to stay on top of trends is by getting trade magazines like Decor, Art Business News, or Art World News (to name a few.) You can also visit interior design or furniture stores.

Reframe a painting that doesn’t sell. If you have a painting that just isn’t selling you should first evaluate if the artwork is connecting with people. Does the painting in general evoke a positive response from people? Do you have people on the fence about purchasing it, but they just don’t commit?

If not, (however painful this may be to hear) it may be your artwork just isn’t connecting with people. This could be for many reasons other than quality. Like your genre is wrong for your location (are you doing seascapes in South Dakota?) Or perhaps a particular trend has ended. For example I do quite a bit of exotic wildlife, like big cats and zebras and such. We just passed through a hot faze where everyone had a safari room. (See, I told you there was a reason to know what current trends are.) My African wildlife went like hot cakes. That decorating trend has ended. And while I still paint exotics (I painted them before the trend, and will continue to do so.) I can expect the interest in this work to wane, despite the fact that I do them as well or better than before.

But if the painting is getting good attention and still not selling, perhaps you should consider reframing it. (I can hear the frustrated groans already. What! I already spent $$$ framing it the first time and now you want me to do it again!)

Again, I will site myself as an example. As mentioned previously, I do around 15-18 art events each year. The biggest benefit of doing these other than the $$$, is the instant feedback. I can see what thousands of people think of my work (this is not for the faint of heart) in a single day. So if I have a painting that is priced in range with my other work and it appears people respond well to it, or I am selling loads of prints of it, and yet the painting remains unsold. I reframe it and most often raise the price. (Yes, you read that right.) Not only does raising the price recoup your framing cost, but I think much like poor framing can turn off buyers, so can a painting priced too low.

Whenever I have reframed a painting, (and I have done so at least 4 times in the past 3 years.) The painting usually sells within 6 months. Often the very next time I am out. Every painting that I have reframed has sold since doing so.

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Earth Movers - Percheron Team 4 Across - click for larger image
Earth Movers – Oil Pastel 12 x 22
Copyright by Mona Majorowicz

Letting My Inner Colorist Out To Play
So here is the completed painting of
The Earthmovers.

I think there may be a colorist deep inside me trying to get out. Many of my paintings start out with all sorts of color and then I start toning them down until I finish with something that looks quite realistic with just hints of brightness. Mike rolls his eyes every time, when I look at a near completed painting and declare, “It looks too purple.” Apparently there is something going on unconsciously and then I have to pull it back into reality.

I think a part of it may have to do with the fact that I make my living selling my artwork. And the artwork produced thus far leans to a more realistic coloration. Occasionally I go ahead and do something rather bright. I had a lovely black faced sheep which was done in purple. The surprise was that it was apparently talked about in the community and it actually brought in a few locals to see the “Purple Sheep.”

Anywho, this painting started out as being quite realistic in coloring and then I was getting bored. (Yawn) So I thought what the heck, I doubt I will be happy with it as is, lets bump up the color. And here is the result. The sad thing is you can’t actually see the color that I am talking about in this scan of it. But trust me, it is just crammed with purples, periwinkles and gingers. (I just love that color combination.)

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Odd Bits

I have been hiding out for a couple of days. I fell and may well have cracked a rib. (Apparently I don’t bounce as well as I used to.) So I am taking yet another personal day to recuperate just a bit. I am not really in much pain unless I laugh, breath too deeply or God forbid, sneeze. Sleeping is really the only thing that hurts. Well . . . not sleeping exactly. Its more the rolling over bit. I really am working on some actual posts that deal with either art, animals or living the creative life. (just not for today)

Since I am trying to rest up, I have spent the past 36 hours or so, horizontal on the couch. I watched a couple of intrigueing shows last night. The first was Dumped on BBC America. 10 people are dropped off in the middle of a landfill and will spend the next 3-4 weeks, living off the refuse of others. At the moment, they get their food and water supplied (I have a suspicion, that may come to an end at some point.) But everything else, including housing, bathroom facilities, pots & pans and household supplies are rummaged for. The goal, is that at the end of their time, they will have created a totally sustainable living on the landfill. The whole project is to raise awareness about what we toss away and our impact on the planet.

I must add, they have an artist in the group. And as an working artist, I am a little disconcerted by what their artist is up to. While others are rummaging to create better living conditions for the group, she is off making a sculpture, in the belief that her art will make a statement about what they are doing. Now, while I like her spiritual and artistic mentality, I find it annoying that she leaves most of the mundane tasks to the others, while she creates. Sort of that stereotypical artist living off the community (government). Expecting that creating art, is a fair exchange for shelter and living necessities. I am probably just transferring my own issues about artists who spend their time between creating art and writing grants to sustain them. So I better drop the subject.

The other show was I Can Make You Thin with Paul Mckenna on TLC. Apparently, he is some relatively famous British diet guru. His mantra, “eat all you want and what you want and still lose weight.” (yeah, I know. . . let the rolling of eyes commence.) It is a 5 week series. And I am curious enough, that I think I will follow along.

Week 1.
The 4 Golden Rules.
1. Eat when your hungry. The reason behind this is if you ignore hunger, your body thinks it is being starved. It slows your metabolism and then when you do eat. It stores as much as it can as fat for future starvation.

2. Eat what you want. He say anything goes. If you want to live on pizza and potato chips, have at it. Toss out any foods you eat because you think you should. Toss anything you don’t like. (I am a diabetic, so I can’t truely do this part.)

3. Eat consciously. Eat slowly, chewing 20 times per bite. Put down your utensils between bites. Do not watch tv or read. Be in the moment while eating. If you are distracted, you don’t notice the full signal, your body is sending.

4. When your full, stop eating.

Sounds easy enough. I think I can manage the eating slow bit. But we eat our dinner in front of the tv every night. Most often because we eat later at night and since we have a really busy lifestyle, it is kinda guilt free tv. (I’m big into multitasking.) It should be an interesting experiment. If you want more information visit, the TLC website.

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Upcoming Posts
I have spent much of today, elbow deep in art fair applications. Not a task I enjoy. I am waiting on the UPS man, to bring me a fresh batch of slides for the half dozen or so apps, (which are not yet taking digital submissions) that I need to get out in the next week. (Yes, I did put them off to the last minute again this year. But hey, I was painting!)

I have finished my portrait of Catch and will post a pic of it completed, after Carol has received her painting. Plans are already underway for the next horse painting. I will get some WIP’s up just as soon as I begin.

Also, I have plans on discussing a couple of ways to frame oil pastel paintings, (since it has some special requirements) sometime in the next 10 days.

Warmer Weather
I just returned from a lovely walk. At 5pm it was still 45 degrees. Ah! This kind of weather fills a girls head with visions of Spring. The snow is melting and the birdies are singing. Chicory is dozing in the sun and the barn kitties are frolicking. (Umm. . .well, not quite frolicking exactly. More like, establishing a dominance hierarchy for the upcoming breeding season. But that just doesn’t have an idyllic ring to it.)

Anywho, totally gorgeous outside and the forecast is for warmer weather still. Wahoo!

Reality TV
Now I am not talking about those shows where they put a dozen hormonally pumped, morally challenged young people in a house, and wait to see what mayhem ensues. (If I was into that sorta thing, I would just watch the barn cats frolick.)

What I am talking about is, creative challenge type shows like Bravo’s Project Runway. (Love this show, every single season of it.) Unfortunately this season came to an end last week. The good news . . . Bravo is replacing it with Top Chef. (again, Love it!) Considering I am not much into cooking, I do seem to like the cooking shows. Top Chef, The Last Restaurant Standing, Iron Chef and as already discussed, anything with Gordon Ramsey. (particularly Kitchen Nightmares and The F Word)

Luxury and Features
Our new line of Budda Approved office furniture
I finally got myself a new drafting chair. Isn’t it lovely. (insert angelic chorus here) The one I had, was one that came with my drafting table. And being as aged as it was, it had seen better days. It was covered in miscellaneous stains and oil pastel smears. As well as the seat and backrest where snagged and chewed on, by not one but two teething kittens. Also, the occasional bolt kinda stuck through the wafer thin padding, and poked me bum. (I’ve been watching a little too much Brit TV of late.) But the clincher was when a wheel popped off. (Yeah, that pretty much makes it junk.)

So we went shopping for a new chair. Now while this isn’t say . . the Cadillac of drafting chairs (I passed on the leather). It is still a fine example of comfort and luxury. And in keeping with the car metaphor, my last chair was more like an 80’s pinto. Tough, small, occasionally difficult, and not pretty to look at. It did the job, but it didn’t make you want to pet it when you walked by.

The highly coveted Budda Approved sealBut my new chair, makes me sigh with blissful contentment. I mean really, just look at the fully adjustable thick padded seat and huge supportive backrest. Admire, its opulent size and sturdy construction. Caress, the lovely scotch-guarded fabric with that new chair smell. Oh, and did I mention it comes with features (Oh. . . features) and a 3 year warranty. Not some cheapo warranty either. Complete coverage, short of me hitching up Chicory and using it for buggy rides.

Now if it just had a cup holder, heated shiatsu massage and a motor, I would never leave it.

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Apples 'n Oats Magazine

Apples N Oats magazine spring 2008 cover And speaking of magazines . . .

Notice anything familiar about the latest issue of Apples ‘n Oats spring 2008 issue?

Here’s a tiny hint . . . the horse painting

Yup! you guessed it. Carol Eilers the editor/publisher, has once again generously put one of my paintings on the cover of A&O. Thank you Carol. It looks great. I am especially lovin’ the red.

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Artful Blogging

The Definition of Irony
So I went and got the mail, as I do every day. And to my surprise, (and delight) a hefty envelope had been sent to me by an artist friend. Inside was a large magazine called Artful Blogging, Visually inspiring online journals by Somerset Studio. I had been talking with my art group about blogging, as it is still a relatively new experience for me, and one of them had sent it to me. (I got the best friends, especially since the cover price was $14.95.)

It doesn’t really strike me as a how-to kinda mag (though it does have a couple articles in the back about blogging etiquette and how to get started.) It is more like a glimpse into hundreds of creative blogs, that I might never had discovered on my own. It is a quarterly mag that is chocked full of gorgeous imagery (Ooh. . .eye candy) that is accompanied by nice little tid-bits of writing. Rather inspiring to see so much creativity out there.

Kinda strange though. I mean really, how weird is it to have a magazine about blogs? But then, I guess I am blogging about a magazine, so the circle of life is complete.

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Horse Portrait WIP

Current state of work in progress Portrait of a horse named Catch.So here’s the latest on my work in progress (WIP) on Catch’s portrait. I am totally loving working with watercolor pencils again. But it is really kinda of hard on my hands. The callus that was on my index finger from years of being a pencil artist, has all but disappeared in the past two years of working in oil pastel. Maybe it’s because I am getting older and my joints can’t take the stress like before. Or maybe it is just because I am going at it full tilt, and working 4-7 hours at a whack every day, (having too way much fun to stop.) But my hands are all achy and crampy. Sigh.

Anyway, here’s the worst bit. So I go and stand by my husband who is working on the computer, and say something similar to the above paragraph, but with a whining intonation. He briefly glances at me. I hold up my hand in a claw-like gesture like I’m some B-movie villian, to impress upon him the severity of my condition. Mike, never one to pander to my whining, rolls his eyes, looks back to the computer and says “Well babe, there’s a reason you switched to oil pastels.” Humph! Maybe I’ll go talk to the cat.

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