Archive for September, 2009

The sales
The Octagon Art Festival is put on by the Octagon Arts Center in Ames, Iowa. It’s held outdoors on their rather scenic and historic main street. For the low-down on the perks and problems of this event, check out last years post on the Octagon Art Fair.

Firstly, the sales (for me) were really good. But several of my painter friends were not as happy. Ames is kinda made for me (though I have had an occasional bad show there) with the USDA Veterinary Labs located there as well as a Equine Veterinary College (Ummmm hummmm) Sales-wise it was a good way to end the outdoor season.

And then there was the weather
Since this event is so late in the year the weather is almost always questionable. Aaaannnddd despite their being 0% chance for rain and temps in the low 80’s (sounds a little like paradise doesn’t it) we once again wound up feeling grateful that this was our last outdoor event of the season.

Actually the day started off lovely. Calm, warm and sunny. But about 2pm that began to change. (cue ominous music- theme from jaws should work.)

Also a big thanks to everybody who stopped by and said “hi” and helped me with my Weirding-Out-Because-Someone-Who-Reads-My-Blog-Is-Standing-In-Front-Of-Me recovery. (or did I decide it was therapy?)

Holy Crap-oly!
The winds whipped up to 35 mph and by dusk were blowing harder still.

Remember when I said rain was not the enemy . . . wind is.
It really is. All my grumbling about packing up wet and carting out product in a downpour is nothing compared to the anxiety I feel watching my tent sway in gale force winds. I imagine Omaha has not helped me with this phobia, But still, when you hear crashing noises (followed by a group gasp) coming from down the street you begin to feel a little nervous. All the artists get anxious and frankly then the crowds get anxious. Then they stop buying and pretty much leave.

Several tents did come down in ruins. Mostly EZ-Up styles I think. I do plan on doing a post on tents sometime here because honestly EZ-Up types work fine except in the hands of novices, who of course are usually the ones using them.

We did manage to make it until close (5pm) and get packed up with no damage which required some skill on our part and a lot luck. One of my friends was not so lucky. His neighbor untied the weights from his (the neighbor’s) tent and apparently wasn’t holding on to it (idiot) because it flipped up and onto Carroll’s tent, causing it to topple.

My neighbor had his family come to help him with tear down. He had one person clinging to each leg of the tent as he was running among them bringing the tent to the ground. As he was doing this he said “And kids, this is why you need to stay in school and study hard. So you don’t ever have to do this for a living.”

Art fairs are a huge amount of fun and profit can be made but they are also risky. My best suggestion is to have insurance. Not that having it will alleviate any tension you feel during bad weather situations, but at least your covered if the worst happens.

Note: Holy Crap-oly is my new favorite “public friendly” curse word. I used it many (many) times on Sunday. I try very hard not to swear in public, (not even the public friendly kind) but in times of duress I fall back to my roots. And since I was raised by parents who swore like drunken pirates, Holy Crap-oly is downright wholesome.

Updated: Hey Olga, I wanted to get down to you. How did it go? Did you manage to get out okay? Feel free to email if you don’t want to go public.

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That’s a big whoohoo!
Well I made it through a month of back to back events coupled with a full gallery load. Just one more to go and it is a one day event. So far the weather is supposed to be sunny and mid 70’s (perfect) I have done this event in a winter coat and wrapped in a blanket in years past.

Stop by and say hi, as I am almost over being weired-out about meeting the people who actually read my blog. So by stopping in, you can aid me with my recovery.

Once again I am leaving a little early so I can visit the local Zoo. This time I am going to the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. The Niabi Zoo last weekend turned out to be excellent (will post pics later.) I think from my Niabi visit, I have garnered at least a couple of painting potentials. So with any luck, Blank Park too, will be worth the time.

Anyone in the Ames and Des Moines region should come to the Octagon Art Festival. It is located downtown Ames, Iowa and is a good sized show (around 130 artists) with lots of great art.

Is it therapy or recovery? Either way . . .
My booth number is 92 and is located pretty much dead center. Stop by and say hi, as I am almost over being weirded-out about meeting the people who actually read my blog. So by stopping in, you can aid me with my recovery.

I’ll be back on Tuesday with the low down.

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Homage to O'Keeffe

Red Poppy
Oil Pastel on Museum Board
The above photo is a little dark since I shot it through the glass. Also pardon the glare.

Since I showed an older painting of mine that had some similarities to Bev Doolittle’s work last week, though was not influenced by her in any way. (And yes a comparison was once again made between my work and Bev’s last weekend. Sigh) I thought I’d show a piece of mine from a few years back, I think PB (Pre-blog) that has a little O’Keeffian inspiration behind it. While working on it I was totally focused on color and mark making and wasn’t thinking of O’Keeffe. Still the influence is obvious.

For my reference I used a photograph of a flower from my own garden. I adore poppies and keep a large garden of them. Too bad they are so fragile and once bloom only last a few days.

O’Keeffe Movie
Despite being on the road doing the Riverssance event, I did get to watch the Georgia O’Keeffe special. I found it enjoyable to watch though perhaps not totally accurate. It seems odd to me when they already have a good story, the writers then choose to alter the facts for some storyline they think is better than reality. If you are making a movie about someone stick to the facts. I also would have liked to see more about the creation and motivation of the artwork. Non-the-less I enjoyed watching it.

I see Angela Finney has also posted on the movie and has included a few interesting links. So if anyone has anything they want to share or to open a discussion about it, (either here or on Angela’s blog) please do.

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So we are back from Davenport Iowa. Riverssance Art Festival is located along the gorgeous Mississippi River. (you can see just a little in the photo) Anyone wanting to see the Perks and Problems with this event should read last years post on Riverrssance.

It has taken me a little longer than usual to get back to the blog. After an event I usually have a slew of emails that need addressing. The gallery also is still receiving far more visitors (both planned and unplanned) than I’m used too. Plus, as we are into our 4th week of non-stop events, I think I’m slowing down some.

. . . and nothing is more kick-in-the-butt-fun than carting out 1500 pounds of product . . . about a half block . . . on sodden grass . . . in a downpour.

The sales were quite good on Saturday. Almost like the old days, when people were excited about buying and often had to stand in line to do so. While no one stood in line last weekend the sales were steady. After a great Saturday I had high hopes for Sunday, as it wasn’t supposed to rain until late night.

Yeah, you guessed it. It was cold and rained off and on all day until around 3 when it rained in earnest. Just the threat of rain kept most folks away because this event has a gate fee so no one really wanted to spend the money in case all those ominous clouds opened up. So when it did really rain, we all ran for our vehicles and packed up early. This event won’t allow cars into the park if the rain is too heavy and nothing is more kick-in-the-butt-fun than carting out 1500 pounds of product . . . about a half block . . . on sodden grass . . . in a downpour.

Oh, the sense of humor part. Well quite literally when everyone was almost done. . . the clouds parted and the sun came out (insert angelic chorus here) and everything was all warm and glowy. (sigh.)

Artists are a superstitious bunch.
Weather is always a topic of interest at art fairs. There is nothing that gets a group of artists more panicky than to tell them bad weather is about to happen. It’s no fun packing up wet.

That’s right Bob, I blame you for the downpour due to your hubris at going canopy-less this weekend!

Even within my closest neighbors, there was much talk about bad weather juju because of something they did or did not do. My neighbor behind said when she took down her tent sides (you know because it was guaranteed not to rain that day) that if it did rain it was because she was tempting the fates but removing her side tarps.

My neighbor to my right said he brought his umbrella so now “it definitely wasn’t going to rain.”

And my neighbor to my left . . . well he was a potter who cared so little about the weather, he didn’t even have a canopy. Plus he swore the radar showed nothing. That’s right Bob, I blame you for the downpour due to your hubris at going canopy-less this weekend! So my other neighbors can rest easy because I am pretty sure it was all Bobs fault!

You know now that I think about it, there was some talk (up the row) of doing a rain dance. C’mon people! A rain dance is for making it rain! What were you thinking!

So . . . um . . . sorry Bob. But the good news is your totally off the hook for it. So . . . Um . . . your welcome.

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I have people waiting on paintings of giraffes and rhinos and thus they were the target of my afternoon outing to Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo last Friday. Unfortunately they (the rhinos and giraffes) weren’t feeling all that cooperative but I’ll tell you who was . . So okay, you probably guessed by the title. And if not that, perhaps the photos were a clue.

Now I have been trying to get some decent cheetah photos for ever. But every time I’ve been to the zoo they’ve all been snoozing in the background. Tiny little heads peering above the grass in the distance.

This time, after some patience the napping cat got up and started jogging about (for like 30 minutes) as it was almost feeding time. (lucky me) It’s easy to envision a great cheetah painting by swapping out the lush orchard grass for say some gold and mauve dry grasses. (Yummy)

The cheetah didn’t really care that I was there.
However the leopard . . . well he did.

This is an Amur (Persian) Leopard and he loved me. I don’t know if I reminded him of someone or if he was wondering if my doughy center was made of nougat. (Oh wait, that would be me, he was probably dreaming about my doughy center being made of exactly what it is.)

At any rate he followed me about while constantly watching me and rubbing himself hard against the fencing. It took all my self control (I mean that literally) not to reach out and scratch him. I could have, the small railing and hedge would still allow for that, if I stretched a little.

I seriously pondered it. I mean when would I ever get to lay hands upon an Amur Leopard again. There are like 40 left in the wild. The only reason I did not was because I would have had a heart attack had I seen someone do that to one of the big cats at the zoo I worked at. (Our enclosures wouldn’t have allowed for that though. Electric fences. On the cat side. Not the people side.)

I would go away and he would push his face into a crevice and watch me go. Then later I’d come by and he’d be lounging up high on the rocks and timber ignoring the folks standing in front. He’d see me and jump down and run up to the fence *chuffing.

Again hard to say why he liked me so much. That happens to me quite often with critters (both zoological and domestic) and occasionally with creepy men.

So today I plan to go to the Niabi Zoo just outside the quadcities area in Coalville, IL. We are doing Riverrssance this weekend in Davenport, IA. Niabi is a very small zoo. But they have some stunning Asian Elephants and who knows what I might find.

See you all next week.

*Chuff: is to exhale loudly in a rush of air. In terms of big cats it’s what they do in greeting or to calm one another. A mother tiger will chuff to her cubs to soothe them.

P.S. I felt the need to clarify this as the urban dictionary has chuffing listed from everything like feeling proud of oneself to rape.

P.P.S. I took well over a dozen rolls of film. Unfortunately the developers machine gave out after doing only 3. So what I chose for the blog are hopefully no where near the best shots.

P.P.S.S. I see while visiting Louise’s blog that tomorrow the 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day. I’ll have to remember to throw in a Yarrrgh or Matey with every sale. 🙂

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Oops! You’d think if I were writing a post about her (and linking it) I’d spell O’keeffe correctly, wouldn’t you?

Artistic Life Lesson Learned The Hard Way
I (or more accurately my style of work in watercolor pencil ) often (as in several times a year) gets compared to Bev Doolittle. And to be honest, it does bear some resemblances. Most people think the resemblance has to do with my emulating her work because I like her. I think Bev is a great artist who created a genre’ that made her a millionaire and a household name for anyone in the print business. (definitely something to aspire to) But no, she is not one of my hero’s. Not even a little.

No Hidden Images – 21 x 23
Water Color Pencil on 140# Arches Hot Press

I have never been flattered by this comparison, though it is so clearly meant to be a compliment because of an experience early in my art career.

Long before I knew much of anything about the contemporary artists of the time. (You know back when I was all about animal health for a living and lived in a bubble.) (A much smaller bubble than I do now) I did a rearing paint horse based on a high school classmates horse in watercolor pencil. (that’s how long, long ago it was) Even at that time we did an art fair every once in awhile. And people would come running over excitedly in droves, because they thought the painting was a Bev Doolittle. Upon realization that is wasn’t, they promptly left the booth (without looking about further) hugely disappointed.

Alternate title that I rejected because it was . . . too silly, slanderous . . . basically untrue.

How Famous “Hidden Images” Artist Bev Doolittle Slapped The Innocence Right Out Of Me.

Now imagine that is you, and that happens over and over again. Trust me it’s an ego crusher. Nothing could have drilled into me more, the importance of finding my own voice. (Sad thing is, that was/is my voice.)

The painting had a title (which I no longer remember) that I later changed to “No Hidden Images” as a tongue in cheek poke to Doolittle. Fortunately the painting sold quickly. But as a result I didn’t do another paint horse for years. And I still haven’t done one in the lovely chestnut and white combination.

What’s surprising to me that people still occasionally see a resemblance in my work.

Which kinda brings me to the point of this post.
One a rare occasion (about once every year) someone says they see a little Georgia O’keefe in my work. Now for me, that’s a compliment. I love O’keefe, both her work and her personal life. So imagine my excitement when I learned there is going to be a movie about the life of Georgia O’keefe on the Lifetime channel, Sept. 19th.

We of course are going to be gone but hopefully I’ll remember to crank up the VCR to record it. (Yeah, I know. I am still living in the stone age. TiVo is completely beyond my grasp.)

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Hot Shops Art Center Art Challenge

While in Omaha last weekend an artist friend (Randi Hunter) from the Hot Shops Art Center of Omaha stopped for a visit and reminded me of an art competition they have going. Randi created this very cool painting and anyone wishing to participate should interpret this scene in your style and media.

The deadline is right around the corner so if you’re interested you better get after it. For more information or to download a prospectus you can visit www.HotShopsArtCenter.com

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