Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fund Raisers That Do It Right by Lori Woodward

This post was an important one for me so I thought I would repost it here for others to see!

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.

The towns of Peterborough and Jaffrey in New Hampshire do their annual town fundraisers right. They understand that in order to get the best artists to participate that they partner with the artists to raise funds, not take advantage of them.

Undervaluing The Worth of Art, Hurts the Community

Many artists struggle to make a profit each year, and although it might sound noble to give art away, sometimes it does the community of artists more harm than good. Fund raisers who ask numerous artists for outright donations devalue the worth of the art in that community. When there is no minimum (reserve) price set for a work, it often sells for less than the cost for materials. Even worse, the buyers return each year to pick up unbelievable bargains, and they rarely contact the artist to pay full retail price on additional paintings. This is the kind of "exposure" that actually hurts business for artists.

Educate The Organizations You Support

The folks that put on these fundraisers are not malicious people. They just don't understand how selling donated art at low prices hurts the art community. Often, when I've explained why it isn't a good idea, the people in charge decide to go with a reserve price and percentage to the artist. It might mean that fewer paintings will be sold (at least in the first year), but I've seen that organizations that do it right often reap much higher rewards over the years because the best artists in the community begin to participate, and the scene becomes a place to buy great work for a tad less than they would pay otherwise. Everybody wins! The artists get their due, the organizations get 40% of each sale, and the collectors get great art.

Interestingly, the local towns in New Hampshire that do auctions the right way, make far more than those who accept artists full donations and sell the art for any price. That's because once the auction becomes known as the place to get great artwork, it brings out serious collectors. Usually, there is a gala dinner involved, where the tickets are pricey. I've seen expensive works (say in the $10K range) sell at these classy auctions. The best and most expensive art goes quickly. My guess is that the collectors there enjoy the competition.

Several years ago, I attended a huge show in Denver, Salon D'arts. While there, I ate breakfast with a number of artists who participated, and Scott Burdick listed his favorite fundraisers - most were invitational museum shows where the artist reaped a 75% of the selling price. Even so, the museums made a great deal of money.

The thing that I especially enjoy about participating in fundraisers that return me 60% of the selling price is that I usually pick up a new collector when my painting sells. Unlike most galleries, auctions give the artists the names and addresses of the buyers. When someone buys my work at, or near my regular retail price, they're usually pretty serious collectors.

Artists Can Only Deduct The Cost of Materials

When I've participated in auctions where I've given a full donation, the work sells for under $100, and nobody wins because the artwork was devalued, the organization only got $100, and I am in the hole for all my supplies. By the way, we artists can only deduct the amount of the supplies we used on our incomes taxes - not the value of the artwork. Alternately, if I simply give the organization a check from my business account, I can deduct the full amount of that check. They make just as much money or even more that way, and I am not out a painting that I could sell otherwise.

What if the Work Doesn't Sell?

If my painting doesn't sell, then I get the painting back and I'm out nothing. Sure the organization doesn't get anything from me, but it probably made more in the long run because it got a greater amount from the other artists whose works did sell. Nobody loses, and the integrity of the art community is not eroded.


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I hope you have enjoyed this article. Let me know your thoughts or even what has happened to you! Marsha

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Demonstration in Blue Ridge

This is just a quick note to tell everyone I will be at High Country Art & Antique Gallery in Blue Ridge, GA on Saturday, May 1 from 11:00 AM to about 4:30 PM (maybe 5:00) to demonstrate my painting techniques.

High Country Art & Antique Gallery is located at 715 East Main Street in downtown Blue Ridge, GA. It is very easy to find. The gallery is directly across from the train station and has a large green awning over the windows and door . . . about 4 or 5 businesses up from the traffic light on Main Street. The gallery is very eclectic and carries a wide variety of styles and mediums in art. Paintings of local scenes, abstract flowers, metal work, pottery, wonderful artistic jewelry, etc. can be found here. There is something for everyone.

On Saturday, I don't know yet if I will do a pastel or an oil -- haven't quite made up my mind yet. I love them both and have been alternating between both of these mediums the last year. I am more known for my pastel work, but I originally started out in oil painting. I love getting back into my oils in a big way. Lately, I have been creating oil paintings that are 4' x 3' on birch panels. But, this is too large for me to demo at the gallery. I might decide to do at least a relatively larger piece than is usually done for a demonstration -- maybe something like 18" x 24" or a similar size.

If I do plan a pastel painting, I will also do a larger one. Many times I will take several smaller pieces in and try to do 2 or 3 paintings during the course of the day. This time I am thinking larger might be a good demo change for me and the gallery visitors.

So . . . come by and see me and the wonderful High Country Art Gallery in Blue Ridge on Saturday, May 1. Be sure to let me know you saw this on my blog or on Facebook!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More From Buford Plein Air Festival

Here are the other paintings and scenes from the Buford Plein Air Festival this past weekend. The second painting on Friday was the scene across from where I painted the first one -- only a simple composition of dogwood trees. I was so depressed from painting the first one and having the view obliterated for so long, I decided to stay where I was rather than move.

I think trees with the flowers on them are beautiful, but oh so difficult to paint without all the little "dabs" of paint to be the flowers. There may be issues with all the paintings I did, but remember . . . I only think of my plein air work as studies . . . and should they be frameable, just icing on the cake!

Here are the dogwood trees I painted second. The painting is a 12x9 on a gessoboard, which is a slick surface. Look at the difference in colors I saw in real life and what the camera could see and translate into a "print". Quite a difference.

Third painting of the day on Friday was of azaleas across the street from where I was for the first two paintings -- but a little toward town. This time I did move my easel down the street on the sidewalk right in front of the home with the azaleas and scraggly dogwood tree. I simplified the background in this one because I did not want the home to take interest away from the flowers.

I love the difference in the two colors of the azaleas. One is quite warm and the other, though still in the same color family, is quite a bit cooler. I did not paint in the small amount of dogwood blossoms because they were small and few and far between. I felt they would be a distraction. Artistic license is wonderful because we get to set the stage the way we want the audience to look. What do you think? Did it work?

Next are my paintings on Saturday . . . first was setting up right along the main street in downtown and doing a painting of the buildings, cars, street, and light poles! What fun and what difficulty for me . . . remember I am a "tree" painter!

Here is the scene first:

Now here is the painting:

So, painting in downtown was quite an experience . . . cars always moving by, changing where they were parked, etc. Look how dark the camera saw the shadowed side of the buildings. In real life, they were no where near that dark!

This was quite a challenge for me. I tried to simplify many of the shapes and just create color notes for the cars and any little bits of the building fronts under the canopy of the small trees. So . . . I did get to put some trees in the painting! The painting might have some small issues, of course, but overall, I thought it was good enough to be one of the two paintings I entered into the show and competition. I wanted to be sure to enter paintings that were authentically "Buford" and not just flowers or trees that could have been painted anywhere!

The last painting before framing and entering was at the Stonehedge Bed & Breakfast property. I have a photo of the painting on the easel and the scene I painted. Then you will see the painting. I sold the painting to the owners of the B&B at the reception that evening. What good luck I had a this Plein Air Festival!

You can again see the difference in what the photograph sees and why my eyes did see. Remember also this affects my taking photos of the paintings themselves. I have to try to "tweak" the photo of the painting to look more like my painting. Not too much is really done though.

Now, I did paint something at the "Quick Draw" and the photo I took of it is terrible. I was taking the photo inside the Tannery and the glare of the lights totally obliterated some of the colors. The painting was quite wet and looks it. So, at this time I don't have a photo that will translate here very well. But, I did sell the painting to a father and daughter that watched me paint it! Another stroke of good luck at this Festival.

I had loads of fun, and spent two days outdoors painting and learning . . . won two awards and sold three pieces . . . what more could you ask for?

Historic Buford GA Plein Air Festival

Last weekend was the Historic Buford Plein Air Festival and was an event sponsored by the Tannery Row Artist Colony. The painting days were Friday and Saturday. We signed in at 9:00 a.m. on Friday and had whatever substrate stamped we wished to use for both days of painting. Many of us had multiples of canvas, boards and paper stamped so when we arrived at our painting places of choice, we would have several sizes to choose from. We did not paint on all of them!

I decided to paint in oil for this festival -- with the hope of learning better paint application to the board. I used Ampersand Gessoboards which have a slightly slick surface. Only one of my paintings was done on a board with canvas adhered to it. I have begun to enjoy the slick surface and moving the paint around on it instead of the canvas soaking up the paint. (I do want to order some finer linen covered panels and give that a try also.)

I painted three paintings on Friday and two paintings on Saturday and had to choose only two of them to enter into the show and competition. We also had a "Quick Draw" from 4:30 - 5:30 after entering our competition / show work. We signed up to compete in this and met at the Town Square to paint. They rang a bell to start and rang it again to "put your brushes down!" Then we (the artists) voted for our favorite painting and that person won $25 for that. What fun and what pressure!

So . . . here is the first painting I did on Friday and one that I entered into the show and competition. It is and 11 x 14 inch oil painting on the gessoboard. And there is a story to go with it!

Here is the photograph of the scene and then my painting of the scene. Look at the difference in the colors the camera picks up and what my eyes saw! Quite a difference, really. Of course I do push them some, but only a very small amount. And, the camera actually pushes them the other way -- more toward neutral and cannot pick up the many nuances of colors our eyes can see.
The story: I set up to paint about 10:00 a.m. after checking into the festival and getting my surfaces stamped. I drove around first to decide where and what I wanted to paint. I had only barely blocked in the major elements, spending a bit of time getting the points of reference for the building and the railroad in the right places . . . when a large white city maintenance truck with a huge bucket lift on it pulled up beside me and backed into the spot right between me and my scene. The completely obliterated my view!

I asked the passenger when he stepped out, "How long are you guys going to be here?" He looked at me as if I was crazy and said, "We thought you were painting the mansion across the street." I said, "No, I was painting the view I could not longer see toward town!" So, they told me it would only take them about 15 to 20 minutes to put banners up across the road on two poles right there.

So . . . I continued to work on the far right edge where the tree is because I could step back a couple of steps and see it when I looked around the front of the truck. Also he asked me several questions while his partner went up in the bucket and started putting the banners up. He asked and I told him about the plein air painting process and that the artist really only has about 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours at most to capture the scene before the light and shadows completely changed. Also, they took longer because another truck stopped in the street and handed them another banner with some conversation about it! Oh well, what was I to do?

Well, 35 to 45 minutes later I took the painting down because I could not finish it . . . and they were still there, but just finishing up. When they started to leave I was asked why and I told them I had wasted the morning and could not finish it because the light was different. They left and I sat down on the grass and pondered my problems. I wanted to cry! After about 5 minutes I decided to put the painting back up on the easel and see if I could just adjust the foreground a little and hit some highlights and not compromise the integrity of the scene as I had seen it earlier. Talk about forced "stop before you do too much" thinking. I was fairly happy with the result -- and it was a very simple composition and painting. Not too overdone which is usually my method.

Guess what? I framed it on Friday night, and was taking it out of my SUV when I dropped it and chipped the black frame. A company that was helping sponsor the festival was "JFM Frames" and they were there with a few frames to help us out. I bought a nicer soft gold frame and put it on the painting -- which one of my friends said was so much better. My black one happened to be the only 11 x 14 frame I had and I thought it being black was pretty safe. Oh, it looked so much better in the gold!

I won an Honorable Mention Award for this painting . . . and then the best was last . . . I also won the Purchase Award by the Buford History Museum . . . a check for $500 and the painting will reside in the Museum! What a night! And after the horror of having my painting time interrupted. You just never know. Here is the painting hanging on the wall at the show with the two ribbons!

I'll do a second post with the other paintings and the views. Hope you enjoyed the story. From near dispair on Friday morning to euforia on Saturday night! It really was a great experience.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Wonderful Drawing Lesson

I am always looking at other artist's work and reading their blogs. Sometimes I come across exceptional subject matter and like to share it with my friends.

Here is an excerpt from an article I have been reading this morning about drawing. The web site is The Beginning Artist and is by Gary Gumble. I found him on a newsletter I read twice weekly -- Robert Genn. Gary has a wonderful way of teaching to help artists be able to learn without always being with their teacher. This is something I am trying to do with my Saturday only Mentoring Mini-Workshops once monthly in Woodstock.

Only after getting my big shapes correct do I work my way through the rest of the drawing.
If there is any question in my mind about whether I am getting the position of something or its proportions correct, I use my pencil to measure, measure, measure.
"What’s with all this measuring stuff? Why can’t I just eyeball it?"
You can just eyeball it. It is only if you want things positioned and sized to match your subject that I recommend measuring this way.
Over time it teaches you to see proportions more accurately and it is a quick way to avoid mistakes in seeing.
This is not a method just for beginners. Experienced artists use this as well.
End of Excerpt:

And here is a link to one of the pages I was reading -- where the excerpt above is located: The Shapes of Things Drawing Art Lessons 1

I hope you enjoy looking his site over. There are many more pages than just the one I am directing you to. Have a look around his site. Let me know what you think also.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Well, I'm Still Here!

I have had a very busy schedule from the last post . . . and I am so sorry I sporadically post to this blog. I promise to be better. I have made it a priority to do so. Will you stay with me? I hope so.

I have been to Florida to teach workshops and then to Pennsylvania to attend a reception where I was one of three judges. I was asked to also place a piece in this show -- all three judges were asked to have one for the show. Here is the painting I shipped up to New Hope, PA at the Bucks County Fine Art Gallery.

The photo is a little more colorful than the real painting, but not much. I have a difficult time with tweaking the photos of my paintings -- especially on the lap top which tends to make my photo of the painting darker and more intense. If I take the same tweaked image down to my desk computer, it looks totally different. So, what is an artist to do? Do any of you have suggestions about which way to go? I know more and more computers will be having the flat screens and less of the CRT screens will be in service. So, I should be working toward making them look correct on the LCD flat screens. So, I just answered my own question, right?

This painting is 20" x 16" and done in pastels and was done for a study for a larger oil I did on a birch cradled panel -- which is a 4' x 3' panel. I will post that one another day. I love pushing the colors in this one even though it might look a little garish! The real thing is just slightly less so.

So, until I can get back, I hope you enjoy this one from the Blue Ridge, GA area. Later!