Archive for August, 2009

Bear Painting From Start To Finish

Here’s the start to finish on Griz. (Photo left is cropped detail)

I really enjoyed stepping out of traditional coloring on both this and the Red Buffalo painting. I am pretty sure more of these wackado wild critters are yet to come.

As it is Sunday I am looking for a muse to start something new. We’ll see what comes.

Original Painting Size (not including the deckles) 10 1/2 x 13
oil pastel on handmade paper.
Overall Framed Size (including frame) is 15 1/2 x 17 and is mounted on Ultrviolet Blue linen. (The linen is actually the same color as the bears nose but just photographs really dark.)

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A Fowl Look White Rooster
10 1/2 x 13
Oil Pastel on Handmade Paper

Just a little more tweaking.

So here he is, finally. This is not at all what I envisioned when I started but all in all I like him.

I may still tweak the background a bit. Lighten it just a titch at the top. I have been vacillating between dark and light (you know, putting it in and then taking it back out.) at the top ever since I put in the background. Still . . . I think just a hint lighter.

He has a seriously fierce look to him here but then he did in real life too.

I’ll be posting the start to finish with this painting in the very near future.

Inspirational words for when you want to trash the painting your working on.
(of which this rooster has been twice)

“Never give up, never surrender.” Tim Allen – Galaxy Quest

Never, ever, ever give up.” Charles Schultz

“Make it work people.” Tim Gunn

I looovee Tim Gunn. I could just squeeze him til he giggled. Oh yeah, Project Runway is back for a new season. But it’s moved from Bravo to Lifetime. Which is probably for the best. Other than Top Chef, Bravo’s programming has really been going downhill. (Okay way off topic here.)

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Seriously, Is This A Real Problem?

Apparently so, but everyone needs a venue . . . don’t they?
So I was going through this mornings email and came across a prospectus for an international horse art competition created by Art Horse Magazine. Because I am a curious sort, I clicked through to scan over the rules for entry. And as I am scrolling through the pages I read this and come to an abrupt halt.

Works produced by non-human artists are not eligible for this competition.”

Um . . . Whaaaaa? Has this been an actual issue in the past?

Sorry Flicka, your existential impressionistic oil on summer grasses is not allowed. Nor is Prince’s mixed media version of “Hoof Prints In The Sand.”

At any rate for anyone (anyone human that is) possibly interested check out the Art Horse Magazine website for rules of entry. Also you can view past winners which is always helpful to see what sort of art the judge’s lean toward. They have some seriously beautiful, high quality horse art folks.

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Here’s the follow-up to the first post of 20 things I’ve learned. The first 10 dealt with people and selling. This 10 deal with traveling and tents.

11. If the event allows prior day set-up, do it.
I usually don’t hang any work though. Not so much for fear of theft. More so weather and vagrants.

12. Be ready early.
If the event begins at 10 am be done setting up by 9am. Most events have loads of early buyers trying to beat the heat and the crowds.

Driving and maneuvering a large van is easier than using a trailer.
No matter how big the van or how small the trailer.

14. Outdoor events are more profitable than indoor events.
This is illogical, but despite the fact that indoor events are climate controlled, usually superior artwork jurying and on the whole a more classy look, they never pull in the huge crowds. My best indoor event nets me about the same as a mediocre outdoor event.

15. Never use a cash box
. Always carry your money on your person. (I generally use the totally unfashionable fanny pack.) Cash boxes are easy to snatch when your back is turned.

16. Dog Stakes (corkscrew style) are the best way to secure your tent on grass. Straight stakes and weights will do in a pinch. But they aren’t nearly as secure

17. Rain is not the enemy (wind is.) Getting rained on is not as bad as you might think. Be prepared because it will happen.

18. DO NOT remain in your tent during a thunderstorm
. It is a 10 x 10 lightening rod. Also if the storm is major enough abandon the tent instead of trying to hold it down. Remember Omaha 08, a woman tried to hold down her tent during that storm. She broke her arm and still lost her tent.

19. When someone offers you some free thing, always say “yes.” and more importantly “Thank you.”
This is usually water or donuts. You may not want it now but later you may not be able to pop away for something. Following this train of thought be sure to bring snacks (nothing too messy,) water (or diet Coke. I like to keep myself on a Caffeine drip the entire event) and lots and lots of ice.

20. And last and most importantly in regards to keeping me from being crabby the entire event . . . Always request the top floor of the hotel you are staying in. At the end of the day climbing all those stairs is a pain. But not as big a pain as having people stomping around overhead all night long. In a like manner, avoid hotels with wedding parties.

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Red Buffalo Painting From Start To Finish

So I haven’t done one of these in awhile (the start to finish thing) and I thought I would. I most likely will also do one for the Bear painting as well.

Next post will be the follow-up to the 20 Things I Learned From 20 Years Of Doing Art Fairs.

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Bear Painting Completed

10 1/2 x 13
Oil Pastel on Handmade Paper

Wild Things vs. Primarily Wild
I’ve been needing to title my brightly colored critter series because at some point it will have a page on the website with prints for sale. So after much thought. (well . . .some thought, much like painting I tend to just wait for the universe to inspire) I finally decided to call this series Wild Things. (of which this Bear is #10) Okay, so it doesn’t have the fun child-like nature of Crayola Critters (nor the alliteration) but it also doesn’t come with a trademark infringement lawsuit.

I asked Mike what he thought and he was all “Nyeh.” Which is his way of saying it’s nothing impressive but I really don’t care enough to discuss it further.

But I’m sticking with it. (I think) A few short days ago I was pretty convinced that it would be called Primarily Wild. I liked that title because it is sorta descriptive (meaning most of the animals in the series are actually wild.) As well as a play on words with primary colors. Which of course no-one would get because it leans so heavy on the esoteric. But I would be okay with it being my own private little amusement.

But for now I’m back to Wild Things. Well . . . unless the universe offers me up something better I mean I just make up these rules in my head sometimes. Or until it gets printed on the bottom of one of the prints. When that happens I pretty much gotta stick with it.

Anyone got any opinions?

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Just so you know, today was supposed to be a no post day for me. I was supposed to be tripping through pony muffins at this very moment. But alas it was not to be.

You see Carol Herden, my very talented sculptor friend had invited me to go along to the Iowa State Fair to deliver the awards she had created for the Percheron competition and then we would just play. I imagine we’d look at horses exhibits, look at art exhibits, eat fair food, ride fair rides, loose our lunches from too much tilt-a-whirl. You know. . . the usual. Plus we haven’t seen each other since our trip to the Kentucky Horse Park last year. And now she’s moving to MN so I’ll see her even less. Well maybe not less, but not any more either. So I was really amped for a day of frivolous play with a friend I rarely see. And yes, this is where the Fates stepped in.

She had called a week or two back and had told me all about an artistic catastrophe she was going through with a big order for a big client. Well this catastrophe landed physically back in her lap this very morning. And so she, being the conscientious artist she is, wanted to get right on resolving the problem.

Okay so your thinking well that’s an interesting coincidence but you can’t really blame the Fates can you? Well get this . . . her neighbors just happened to be going to the fair today and just happened to stop in and tell her. And upon hearing her story, they offered to deliver the awards for her. (sigh)

She apologized profusely and hoped that I understood. Which of course I said that I did (and I do) even though at that moment what I was really thinking was “Oh crap on a cracker!

At any rate I am here at the gallery, so I thought I should make a post since I’m on some sort of freaky post-a-thon with like 10 days in a row or something. Which for me, is like some kind of Christmas miracle . . . or at the very least a record.

So ahem . . . here’s actually something to do with art

I got a new color shaper last time I was at Wet Paint in St. Paul, MN. (the all time best art supply store that I’ve ever been in. That may be more about my living in the boonies than anything. But I think on the whole it is an awesome art supply store, regardless.)

The photo above left shows my new shaper compared to one of my old ones with a penny thrown in for scale. I bought my old shaper set through Cheap Joe’s (my all time favorite on-line art supply store) but since I couldn’t see them I had no idea how big they were. I love my new one, as in I haven’t touched the old shapers since I got it.

I have no idea what these things are actually made for. (If anyone knows, please fill me in.) A watercolorist friend of mine says she uses them for scraping away still wet paint before it soaks in the paper. At any rate, I use them to blend out the edges that I don’t want my oil pastels to blend out. (okay, that’s not so very clear)

So for instance the area between my bear and the background. I don’t want to muddy my yellows and I want crisp marks into the background. So I smooth with this thingy. The chisel tip is 1/4 wide and very firm.

Note: My Bear painting is done and will post completed image soon. Also I’m making progress on my rooster. At least I’m getting some art done even though I’d rather be eating corn dogs right now.

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In case your doing the math, I have only been doing artfairs as a major part of my income for the past 10 years or so. But before that I usually did 1 or 2 a year for you know . . . like . . . fun. Actually I grew up doing a similar type event with my mother so it’s probably closer to 30 years of doing them. But let’s not quibble over reality, shall we.

As is my want I am breaking this up into two parts. The first is about people and selling. The following post will deal with travel and tents.

People and Selling

  • 1. People Lie. Well maybe not “lie” exactly, but don’t get your hopes up when someone says “I’ll be back.” Unlike Arnie, once someone utters those three little words there is a 99.9725% chance they won’t. That’s not to say they don’t mean well. I’ve come to the conclusion it is a combination of guilt (over not buying) and wanting to show they really do like what you do without giving you money.

    Similarly, Beware of too much praise. The more gushing praise a person gives you is in direct relation to the likelihood of them not buying something.

  • 2. People are generally honest. (Okay, I just couldn’t help myself there.) What I mean is most people aren’t looking to steal from you (some jewelers may disagree with me on this one.) In all the thousands of checks I’ve taken in the past decade or so, I’ve only had one bad one.
  • 3. Be nice to your neighbors A weekend is a long time to be pissed at someone you can’t walk away from for the next couple of days. Similarly be courteous during load-in and load-out. That’s the real measure of how nice a person you are.
  • 4. Be gracious and grateful to everyone. Treat your $20 sales like you would your $200 or $2000 sales. Often times it’s the multitude of small sales that will get you to your goal. Also relationships with patrons are sometimes built from smaller sales first.
  • 5. The S Rule Shiny (urm . . .)”Stuff” Sells. When doing an indoor event use lots of lighting. Pay the electrical fee and bring lots and lots of lights. It makes a huge difference. Trust me on this.
  • 6. Be Attentive. If your sitting in a low chair and someone asks you a question, stand up. (A tall directors chair is helpful also) look them in the eye and smile.
  • 7. Be Agreeable. Being affirmative is a sales technique that at first I had to think about but now is just part of how I relate with people naturally. This means that when talking with people I often nod my head in subtle agreement. This builds repore.

    Also, if the time comes when someone says some thing you painted (or whatever) is wrong. Arguing with them is a losing proposition. If your wrong (and they know it or they think that they know it) trying to convince them otherwise, will only make them think less of you. And if your right, you will make them look bad (or feel stupid) and they’ll still not like you. Listen to them, say nothing, and smile.

  • 8. Don’t Hover. Customers are wiley prey and they don’t like to feel trapped into talking with you or worse yet, buying something. If possible don’t stand in or at the front of your booth. Just outside near the opening is good. At the events we do often we sit outside at the back. They can find me easily and yet I’m not in their personal space.
  • 9. The key to Selling is to ask questions about you patron and then listen. You might be surprised how few people want to know about your work and your process despite them having asked you something about it.
  • 10.The key to Sales is variety. Variety of images and price points
  • .

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    We Turned 19 Today

    Well we didn’t turn 19. The marriage did. Wow how time flies.

    So we are working today, as the photos indicate since they were taken at the gallery. The plan was to go out for dinner and a movie tonight. But we couldn’t wait (we’re worse than children before Christmas) and went out last night instead. Mike calls it Anniversary Observed.

    The problem with running around shopping, going to movies and eating out is it gets addictive. It took all my self control today to stay at work and not run off. Had we not closed Saturday and played hookie, I might have done just that.

    I’m the hard ass when it comes to work ethic. Mike’s a push over. All I need to do is say “let’s go.” And there’s this whoosh of air and next thing he’s in the van, grinning.

    Seriously, it’s really nice to have him always say “You should get it’ every time I indicate I want something. (Ummm . . .You should have expected me to go on about how great a guy my husband is on our anniversary, yes?)

    So in honor of all the wedded bliss (well mostly wedded bliss, there were a few times it was . . . not so much) no real blog post for today.

    But I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 1 of the 20 Things I’ve Learned From 20 Years of Doing Art Fairs. Now had I been a more clever blogger I would have made 20 posts instead of two. But who really wants that much information on the subject anyway.

    PS We tried to include Budda in some photos but he kept having those weird glowy evil cat eyes.

    PPS Anniversary juju is the best. I spilled Diet Coke all over the computer keyboard at home this morning and he just smiled at me. Ain’t love grand.

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    Bear Painting in Oil Pastel (still a WIP)

    10 1/2 x 13
    Oil Pastel on Handmade Paper (work in progress)

    I think she’s more yellow than I want so will be adding more reds to her today.

    She is actually an Alaskan Brown Bear, but if I remember correctly from my Bear Country days the only difference between the Grizzly and the Alaskan Brown Bear is location. They are genetically the same species. Grizzlies are coastal (and tend to get bigger because of the fish diet) and Browns are inland bears.

    Spray Me! Spray Meeeeee!
    You may remember that at one time I worked in a small wildlife park/zoo. (That was back in the day that I actually used my degree in regards to earning my living.) While there I had the daily experience of being hands-on with all sorts of North America’s finest predatory animals. Bears, Wolves, Mt. lions and Badgers.

    But do you know the critter than struck the most fear in my heart? Racoons (um hum . . . thaaaat’s right) followed closely by Pronghorn antelope.

    Walking into a pack of hungry wolves holds no comparison to entering a mob of coons that have zero fear of me. They climbed me like a tree, pulled my hair out, scratched me, squabbled amongst themselves while dangling from my clothes and put their tiny little hands into places they shouldn’t.

    As for the pronghorns, they also had no fear of people. And if the male caught sight of you, he came at you full tilt. In case you aren’t familiar they are one of the worlds fastest land animals, (second only to the cheetah.) And there’s nothing I’d want less than being speared in the butt (they’re kinda compact creatures so that’s where they’d hit you) at 40 mph. More than once I just closed the gate as he bounced off the chain link fence behind me.

    My secret weapon against the raging, scary, vicious, out for blood antelope? The common garden hose. That little length of green plastic kept me from dangling by my keister off that nasty little critters horns more than once. (Also worked really well with the mountain lions.)

    Unfortunately the racoons thought it was great fun. They were all like “Hey over here, Spray me! Spray meeeeee!” Though I would think “truly” wild racoons might fear it.

    It seems most wild critters hate to be sprayed with a hose as much as domestic dogs, cats, horses and . . . well . . . husbands. Who knew?

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