Posts Tagged ‘tigers’

Don't Mess With Mamma

Tiger – Oil Pastel on handmade paper
10 1/2 x 13
Copyright by Mona Majorowicz

Don’t Mess With Mamma is the tentative title for this painting. All of my handmade paper pieces before had been descriptively titled like Blue Rhino, White Wolf and Purple Buffalo. However I think in this instance a real title is in order.

I love this tiger and I’ve painted her several times, just reincarnating her into different species (or is it sub-species?) of tiger. She has a great intensity about her that I find appealing. She is an Indo Chinese tiger that I photographed at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha a few years back.

At the time she had two cubs that pestered her mercilessly. Whenever she would try to nap, her playful cubs would take advantage of her being unawares and would fly at her full tilt, practicing the fine art of attacking prey. So this very aggressive attitude is really just mom trying to get her kids to behave.

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More on Mailing Lists

Here’s my tiger so far. (10 1/2” x 13” on handmade paper) As usual she is looking a little harsh and the colors are off, but it will give you an idea. At this point I nearly have her done (will finish her today) so will post the completed painting tomorrow.

Organizing your list.
This post will deal with the actual list itself. The information you should collect and how to organize it for easy reference. Since you need to tailor your mailing list to fit your needs, it is impossible for me to know what those needs are. So the best way I can think of explaining it all, is to describe how I use mine.

Currently my mailing list is in a program that my husband wrote. It is very utilitarian, but I can search and cross reference to my hearts content. For me the key to using my mailing list effectively is to be able to search for the right folks to contact.

I have organized my mailing list searches in the following ways:

  • By area This is mostly for artshows. If I am returning to Omaha I can search for all my Omaha address’s (and surrounding communities) and then mail them out a postcard as to when I’ll be there and what booth they can find me at.
  • By interest Like horses, exotics, birds (sub-categories might include things like breed (friesians) or type (draft horses) I use these when I finish a painting and then send out a mailing to offer first chance to buy or promote a new print release.
  • Lastly by Name I rarely search by name, but occasionally do when I know of someone who has a specific interest (like for my Rhino.)

So lets take my Rhino for example. I could go to my mailing list and search for rhino. If that only pulls up one name or two. I might extend my search to include exotics (one of my key search terms.) All those people with an interest in my exotics would be pulled up and shown. I could then go ahead an email a jpeg or send them a note by mail.

There are all sorts of software packages you can buy (and possibly a few shareware versions.) If investing in software isn’t a need or in the budget just yet, you can always do it the old fashioned way, by using a tablet or some index cards. No need for anything fancy, just something that gets the job done. I started off with a tablet for my mailing list. Eventually it got to be too cumbersome, but it served me well for many years.

Information to collect.
In Omaha this past weekend I gathered only two names to add to my mailing list. One was a woman who had both my flamingo images in print and really wants another. And the other was a woman who purchased 6 of my horse prints.

So the information I wrote down (at the event so I didn’t have to remember later) was:

  • Where we met. At the event (or online, etc.) and the date
  • The area of interest (flamingos, horses)
  • Name and address (of course,) email (if I had it.)
  • The amount of purchase and what they bought.
  • Make note of any personal information (like they are a dressage judge or have been to Africa.)

Updating the list
I try to go through my mailing list once a year. At this point this is a huge undertaking so it doesn’t always happen that frequently. Because I spend so much time on the computer, (and don’t want to spend even more regularly working on my mailing list) I also print out a hardcopy for me to make notes on.

Ways that I update my list:

  • Change of address or name
  • Whenever someone adds new art of mine to their collection
  • When I send out notes (like Christmas cards, Thank You’s, invitations.) and what, if any response I receive back.
  • When someone hasn’t responded in years (they get removed)

Upcoming posts
I will post my completed tiger painting along with her story and later will finish out my mailing list posts by wrapping up with a brief discussion on communicating and engaging patrons via the list.

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The Eternal Optimist

I think artists on the whole are an optimistic breed. I mean it is the belief than we can do something greater than all that has come before, that keeps us creating. Something better, more complex, more visually inspiring, more creatively challenging, and on the whole, more brilliant than ever before. Oddly enough, the time I find it most difficult to create, is not after a failure. But after I do a really nice piece. Something that when I look at it, I think “Damn, that really is pretty good. How am I gonna top that?” What’s the answer? Optimism. Of course I will do something better next time. (if not then, perhaps the time after that.)

Making Waves - Swimming Tiger - click for larger image
Making Waves – Oil Pastel 18 x 29
Copyright by Mona Majorowicz

Occasionally, it is all about the timing
Making Waves is a painting that was a long time coming. From start to completion, 1 1/2 years elapsed. This was the first painting that I ever went back to finish, after I gave up on it. Generally, I either complete the painting when I start it, or I toss it. I don’t usually hold onto failed paintings. Personally, I think it is hard to move forward, when you are surrounded by unfinished or failed works. I didn’t consider this tiger painting a failure as such. I just couldn’t quite make it work.

I started it as a smaller piece, and even as I worked it, I knew it was too small to get the effect I wanted. So I redrew it larger and began again. That in itself is a rarity. Even after the new beginning, I struggled with it. I was still early in practice with the oil pastels and I think it was too ambitious a painting, for where I was technically at the time. After much effort, I gave up.

My painting time is limited. So I don’t spend loads of time trying to resurrect a failing piece. I need to move on and keep creating. So I put the tiger aside. (Actually, I put it in the back room, on it’s side, in the dark . . . to be exact.) I couldn’t quite bring myself to toss it. I liked my concept. I liked my composition. I liked that it was something besides a horse, (which it seems I paint more and more of these days.) But I lacked the confidence and skill to bring it to my vision. To get it out of my head and onto the board, the way it should be.

Jump a year and some odd months in the future
I had just finished working on a small detailed piece and I desperately wanted to work on something larger, with expansive strokes. So I pulled out my tiger. I thought “It doesn’t matter if I ruin him, he is pretty much garbage anyway.” I reworked him completely. I still struggled with the water. Primarily because my zoo reference photos didn’t provide an accurate representation of water movement. I played with water motion in the bath tub for several nights, and eventually completed the painting to my satisfaction.

    Note: To my satisfaction, means he is good enough to keep, frame and sell. It doesn’t mean that I think that he’s perfect. In fact, whenever I look at any completed painting, for a long time afterward, I see things that I “should” have done. Darken here, brighten there. But learning when to let go, is a complex enough subject, that it deserves its own post.

Moral of the story.
Sometimes it is best to toss out a painting that you are agonizing over. But on rare occasion, you might be able to “save” it. In my case I had to wait until my skill level matched my vision. The trick is learning when to do one or the other. And remember a failed painting does not equate with failing as an artist. I learn far more from my mistakes and challenges, than I do from easy success.

Prints are available of Making Waves. Just click on the image or the title below the image to get more information.

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A Passion For Periwinkle

Making Waves - Tiger in water - click to see larger imageI was recently reading one of my favorite blogs. Maggie Stiefvater has both wonderful artwork, as well as a great writing style. One of her recent posts was about complementary colors. This got me to thinking of what complementary colors I use in my work.

Periwinkle is my all time favorite color for painting. (It doesn’t really appear anywhere else in my life.) Nearly every painting I do has periwinkle in it. I almost always couple it with ginger. The two complementary colors just pop when placed together. I actually purchase more periwinkle and ginger pastels, than I do blacks or whites.

The three paintings I have shown here are all recent examples of paintings where I utilize these complements in greater and lesser degrees. On the oil pastel tiger painting called Making Waves, the gingers are obvious, but the periwinkle is subtle. The black stripes are mostly a deep purple with periwinkle hightlights.

Days End - Belgian Draft Horses - click to see larger image On this oil pastel painting of the Belgian draft horse team called Days End, much of the shadow area is done in a wine color mixed with purple. Nearly all the highlights on the flynet and tack are periwinkle.

Devotion - Mare and Foal - click to see larger image And with the mare and foal oil pastel painting called Devotion, yet again periwinkle colors are used instead of all grays for the nose and eye areas. The lavendar color adds a softness which lessens the harshness of the grays.

I am not sure how I got to the point of loving this color combination. It just sort of happened. My techniques develop almost organically, without a lot of directed thought. I think that is why I am a self-taught artist. It is all about the exploration and discovery.

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