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Posts Tagged ‘art group’

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Flying Without A Net

Recently when discussing all things art with a group of fellow artists there was a moment when I was talking about my fears regarding sales for next year. I have sold more original works than I produced for the past several years. This has left my inventory quite depleted. Yes this is a good problem to have … it is none-the-less a “real” problem. Having my own gallery is awesome. It’s also stressful and exhausting. The only way my tiny gallery, in my tiny town keeps my lights on and my belly full is by juggling half a dozen different art related income streams. I gotta keep all the balls in the air to make it work. Drop one … say like loss of original artwork sales for a year … and it could potentially be financially serious. I’m single so it’s all on me to keep the cash flow … well … flowing.

So when trying to broach the subject with my art group I was met with jeers about “Oh poor you, selling too much art.” And I know it was in good fun. These are in fact a group of artists that I have known and consider some of my best friends for 10-15 years. They have been there and supported me during many of life’s trials. So to be clear I was not hurt by it, but it did in fact shame me just a little bit and thus put me on a bit on an introspective path.

I mean did it sound like I was bragging? Did I not include enough hand wringing to be clear it was in fact “not” about that. Or was I just over sharing?

Even now I feel compelled to place a disclaimer “Well, I am not a prolific artist so my outselling what I produce isn’t as impressive as it sounds.” 

When did it become shameful to talk about money?

Money Talk

After spending a summer talking openly about sales with fellow art fair artists I forget sometimes that not everyone is comfortable with this kind of conversation. Many of my art fair artist friends discuss money and sales openly because the exchange of this type of information is invaluable. Speaking vaguely serves no one. My idea of what makes a successful event, and your idea and the guy down the street, will be all very different.

When talking with my art fair friends talking real monetary numbers and whether an event was successful isn’t usually seen as bragging. Merely a sharing of information. therefor shaming at least in my circles, doesn’t occur. But when talking with other artist friends, celebrating one’s success “too much” can be seen as an abundance of ego.

All this got me to thinking and curious what you guys think. As professional artists … do you talk openly about your successes or sales (successful or otherwise) with other artists?

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Connie Herring’s Art Exhibit “Story Tellers”
So I took off early from the gallery to go to my dear friend Connie Herring’s (you may remember Connie from my paper making trips) gallery reception for her show called “Story Tellers.” They are a celebration of the feminine and the divine. She transformed wooden ironing boards into feminine spirits all with their own story. It’s a truly wonderful show and I encourage anyone who’s in the Spencer area to visit Arts on Grand to view it. The photos here do not do it justice.

Once upon a time I belonged to an art group. The group itself was together for something like 20 years but I was a part of it for perhaps the last 10 or so. As time went on, everyone got too busy, some got sick and some passed away. Also the group’s members lived in a radius of a couple hundred miles so it was really was like planning a strategic ninja commando operation to get us all together. Long story short we haven’t managed to make it happen in years.

SO imagine my surprise when nearly all of us met to see Connie’s show. (big hint as to how much we all adore Connie that we’d travel great distances to attend)



From Left To RIght
Barb McGee, Joleen Dentlinger, Anita Coon, Connie Herring, Me and Katie Plucker (who’s real name is Anita.)

Now I’m rather under dressed and had had my hair in a pony tail which I pulled out for the photo. In retrospect maybe I should have left it up as my hair looks rather shaggy and unkempt. Ah well. It just wouldn’t be right if I looked normal in any photo I have taken.

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Of Colton and Confidence
I have been writing a lot about confidence lately. So I thought I would share how recently my own confidence was shaken up a bit, in regards to my Colton painting. And it came from a completely unexpected source, an artist friend from my art group.

This is not a story about how horrible she was, for indeed I could have misread the whole situation. What this is a story about, is my emotional state and how I felt about the whole thing. So please no flaming of the artist mentioned here. Though I do believe she was excessively harsh, she is also a good person and the reasons she reacted the way she did, are known only to her. At this point I have let go of any negative feelings about it.

It all began with . . .
I hosted our art group many days back. We had just gotten together and hadn’t really begun talking art yet. When she said “Mona I’m sorry . . . but I think you just ruined your Colton painting!

Mind you I didn’t ask for her opinion and the artwork wasn’t even out. She had read the blog and just felt the need to share. And share she did. For the next 15 minutes or so I listened to all the ways I screwed it up and how I don’t know what I’m doing.

“Keep in mind an artists critique may have no bearing on how well an image will sell. Buyers have a different set of criteria, just ask Terry Redlin or Thomas Kinkade.”

I think the giving and receiving of an honest critique is invaluable. It helps you to look at the work from a different perspective. (Keep in mind an artists critique may have no bearing on how well an image may sell. Buyers have a different set of criteria. Just ask Terry Redlin or Thomas Kinkade.)

Now I had also discussed the painting with another artist friend (who no longer participates in our art group.) She also happens to specialize in equines, and made some good and valid points on things that would have improved the painting. (AND she did it without bashing me about.)

Hey, I think I’ve just been mugged.
So back at art group, I intently listened to see if I could understand what she felt so strongly about. But after 10 minutes or so, I kinda shut down to whatever point she was trying to make. And after 15 minutes, all I wanted, was for it to be over.

As she was talking, I just kept wondering what I had done to piss her off enough, that she felt she needed to take me down a peg or two. The voracity and tenacity with which she spoke left me completely gobsmacked. This did not resemble a creative critique. This felt much more like a mugging

Her comments took me so by surprise I was unsure how I felt about it for days. This is unlike me. Working the art festivals I’ve gotten used to the occasional person saying something “less than flattering,” I barely notice. Generally, there are hundreds of others telling me how brilliant I am, (which oddly enough, also begins to be meaningless after awhile.)

“This did not resemble a creative critique. This felt much more like a mugging.”

To be clear, I am okay with her not liking my painting. She is certainly entitled to her opinion. In the end, I think what bothered me the most was that this (donating a painting) was a good thing that I did. I mean it’s not like I just gave them any old horse painting laying around, I went there, photographed the horses and created a painting specifically for them for a fund raiser and gave it to them. All during an extremely difficult time in my life. (though I have not talked of it on the blog, she is well aware of how things are.)

So instead of being able to talk about the experience of creating the work and donating it, I was stuck listening to a diatribe about how I ruined the painting, and how it would have been better if I had stopped working on it, pretty much shortly after I started it.

And the last kick in the butt was, because everyone got to hear how messed up it was, by the time I actually pulled a picture of the painting out, the only other comment I got was “oh, (with a hint of surprise) thats not so bad.”

Tomorrows post
will finish up my story and talk about moving on through adversity. Also, I am still working on the giclee posts (at the moment it is in 3 parts, but may yet get larger.) Plus I am trying to finish up my Apple ‘n Oats article which has a Sunday deadline.

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Fall Is Here (with a vengeance)

I haven’t posted in a few days, mostly because nothing too interesting has gone on. I’ve made “a little” progress on my giraffe, but my usual influx of customers and allotment of gallery jobs is keeping me busy. Since today is Sunday I was hoping to finish the painting today.

On the other hand, I had my art group over yesterday and so I am a day behind on framing and getting my orders out. I think I may just work this afternoon like any other day, (except with fewer hours and a whole lot more PS2 playing.)

It was great getting together with my art group again. We are all women with rather complicated lives, so this was only our second meeting this year. I brought my camera to take a photo and forgot to actually take the picture. (Picture me whacking head on wall. Heavy sigh) Perhaps next time.

Of course I did remember to photograph the horses in fog this morning. (typical mona behavior) Top photo is Chicory and the one below is my neighbors. Now isn’t this a photo just begging to be painted or what? You know, I think I just might.

The seasons, they are a changin’
This is my favorite time of year. I like bundling up in warm clothes and walking in the crisp air, enjoying the changing colors. I particularly love the wonderful aroma of burning leaves, (though not so much the raking of them.)

The past few mornings have been very foggy. I’ve had to scrape off a thick layer of frost (if I didn’t know better, I would have said it was ice) from my windshield. I’m pretty sure this is nature’s not so subtle hint, that winter is just around the corner.

So to celebrate the glory that is Fall, we are cooking our first turkey of the year. To be accompanied by homegrown potatos, corn, beans and tomato cucumber salad. I know the turkey is just about done when all the barn cats are sitting outside on the window sills of the house, looking in.

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The Importance of Support

Full figured gal that I am, support is always a priority. However, that is not the support of which I speak.

Last Saturday I spent the day with my artist group. My group consists of between 6 and 12 women. I don’t think it was ever planned to be all women, that is just how it evolved. It started many years before I joined. (I have been going for nearly 10 years) We are officially called 20/21 (something to do with working in both the 20th and 21st century.) But most times we just refer to it as “group,” as in therapy. And that is just what it is, art therapy.

We generally sit around, drinking our beverage of choice and discussing art and whatever else is going on in our lives. (Loads of cat stories, and No it isn’t only me.) Some sketch, but mostly it is just talking. We all live quite a distance apart, so we only see each other during our meetings. We bring our most recent work and critique it, if asked to do so. We occasionally exhibit as a group but mostly, it is what it is. A group of women artists who have become friends, while sharing their passion for art.

The artists in my group are of a variety of talents. We are all so very different. We work differently. We use different media and inspirations. I am the only self taught artist, and the only one who sells what I do to make my living. Most are art teachers. Others, like the previously mentioned Connie Herring, are primarily installation artists. For her it is about creating a powerful message through her work. Saleability does not enter into her process, (a weird concept for me.)

The differences can sometimes cause friction between members and this has led some, to drop off for awhile. But, in the end most come back. I believe our differences can also make us stronger. It is because of my association with some of these women, that I felt confident enough to go ahead and work on a selection of paintings destined to become an exhibition. Though I have had solo showings at galleries, without group, I doubt I would have considered creating a themed exhibition.

As artists we tend to work in isolation. (I actually prefer it. Give me a critter or two and some diet coke and I am set for the afternoon.) But we all need support, and other artists are really the only ones who can fully comprehend what it is we are going through. Joining an art group, whether it be local or online can offer so much help and support. I think one of the best things an artist can do to further their education in all things art, is to join a group. Truth is, I have no extra time these days. And it gets harder and harder to attend these meetings. But most days I come away feeling it was sooo worth the effort.

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So … umm… it is Sunday. And today, no matter what, My 2007 Christmas card design will be called complete. At least as far as using it for a card. I settled the red thing by adding purple and removing both the pink and the orange. I fell back to using my old mantra which is, when in doubt…add purple. And it worked. Well it worked sufficiently. I will post a picture as soon as I scan it for the cards.

I am sitting here, occasionally blowing on my fingers. I just came into the gallery and the place is still quite chilly. I’ve got Oliver the gallery cat draped over my left shoulder for moral support and proof reading. My warm and purring fur muff.

Speaking of frostbite in the gallery. Yesterday I had my art group over for our get together. I had the heat cranked way up and yet everyone had their hands clasped tightly in their armpits as they hunched over in the fetal position, swearing repeatedly that the room temperature was just fine. (Sigh) The problem with a big brick building plopped on a large cement slab in the middle of winter, is that it just doesn’t warm up. I can have the thermostat at 80 and the room temp in the front room will be 65. Now, I have been in this building for almost 8 years, so I just take it in stride. Sorry girls. I should have provided thermal undies or something.

Anywho, back to group. It is officially called 20/21 which has to do with women artists creating in both the 20 and 21st century. We are around 10 artists (some come and go) of all very diverse backgrounds and artistic styles. I am the only self taught amongst them. This can occasionally become uncomfortable for me. But that is only because of my issues, not anything anyone else does. We try to get together every month but lately it is closer to every 2-3 months. Most of the time it is a real joy. We bounce ideas off each other, show our latest work and talk art in general. It not only gets me in the mood to create, but to create better art.

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