Friday, December 30, 2011

Artists Helping Artists

I have been talking about a meeting of artists for the purpose of discussing only the business side of our careers for quite a long while. Well.... I finally planned it, invited artists, and held the meeting!
White Pine Light
Pastel 12" x 9"

I had been calling it a round table discussion, but joked that I really did not have a "round" table. It didn't matter, we all sat around the room in various chairs and sofas and they introduced themselves, told their medium and what they wanted or needed to know, or what was the issue they seemed to need the most information about. Of course, since I put it together, I knew all the artists except one that came with a friend. We had 13 artists at this first meeting, and we plan to meet quarterly at a different artist's home ... that way a person that has to drive a distance each time will be different hopefully.

Grey scale of the painting
I put together some questions and e-mailed a Word document to all those on my e-mail list that might atttend the meeting. I created several blank lines after each numbered question so they could make notes. I am going to post those questions here for all to see (without the lines) .... it might make you think about things to help you. These were compiled from years of reading various blogs, articles, and talking to other artists.

Potential Invitees: Do you know another artist that would be interested in this group?

Topics of conversation: sales, newsletters, blogs, web sites, prints, studies, workshops, classes, galleries, organization (inventory, computer programs, photos). Do you have others?

Some questions – Add other questions you would like to see discussed:

1.         How many of you do active marketing of your work? What is your favorite method?
2.         What online venue are you showing your work on? How many different venues?
3.         Do you have a brochure, and business cards? Are they professionally done, or do-it-yourself?
4.         Do you have an artist statement, bio updated, etc.?
5.         Do you have a newsletter? How many times, or at what intervals, do you send out your newsletter? How do you accumulate addresses (e-mail or physical)? Are these addresses by an “opt-in” method on the computer?
6.         Do you sell at an online venue? What is your rate of sales?
7.         Do you have a set of questions you ask potential customers?
8.         Do you send thank you notes/cards after a sale? Or, do you have some other follow up procedures?
9.         Have you ever been involved in a studio tour?
10.       What is the most innovative way you ever sold a painting?
11.       How much has your sales dropped with this economy?
12.       What are you doing to find new clients / customers?
13.       Do you track the sales: who is the client, what income level, how did they find you, did they sign up for newsletters or notices?
14.       Do you target a certain audience? If so, how did you come up with this audience?  Who would buy your art .... most likely?
15.       Are you creating a body of work while sales are slow?
16.       Do you have a sales tax ID number? Or a business license? Or what is your reason not to have one?
17.       Do you make goals for yourself each year? If so, what do you think is the most important?
18.       Are you entering shows and competitions?
19.       Are you targeting any galleries for yourself? Or, do you think you would rather be your own advocate somehow?
20.       Do you belong to art organizations? Which ones, if you do? Do you get involved? Do you receive benefits (what?) from them?
21.       Are you willing to share your information on sales techniques? Do you offer a payment plan? Do you offer any discounts? If so, why and when?
22.       How do you support other artists? Do you think this helps you in your own journey?

Feel free to use these for yourself, or your group. If you get a group together for the same reasons we did, let us know how your meeting went. Ours was successful in getting artists to know they were not alone in the issues we have. Several plan to write down goals, or write down accomplishments .... or just start thinking of a better way to be organized.... and many other thoughts pertaining to some of these questions. Our next meeting we plan to zero in on just one or two topics to discuss in depth.

If you have ideas, let me know ... I would love to hear them and pass them along! Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paintings of Waves

I have started a new series of paintings: waves! I so enjoyed standing in the ocean and just watching the waves come and go. I took many photos over several days of doing this -- in the ocean and from the shore. We were in New Smyrna Beach last summer and these paintings are from those photos. I did create a couple of sketches while sitting on the beach, but those are always just for me. The sketches on location also help me with the memories I have when looking at my photos. I can mentally transport myself back into that ocean and feel the water, the sun and breeze, and still smell the ocean! It helps with the painting!

Here is the first one in the series.

"Joyful Exuberance"
Pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
8" x 10"
This painting was so much fun to do. I started with a watercolor underpainting which helped me decide just where certain elements would be and also the colors that showed through the final pastel application. That dark wave coming in from behind is much of the watercolor showing.

The second painting is a little larger, but still a pastel painting. I even did a little more to it yesterday even though it had been thought to be finished a couple of weeks ago. I had it sitting in the studio because I just knew there was something I wanted different, but just not sure how I wanted it to finish up.

The watercolor underpainting

 Here is the second wave piece in the watercolor stage.....

"Wave Action"
- thought to be finished -

and then the "first finished stage" ....

and then here is "Wave Action" as of yesterday.

"Wave Action"
-- still have to put some droplets in! --

In this version of the wave, I knew I needed to place that light portion of the wave as it nears the top even though it is under the curling part of the wave. Though I liked the contrast in what I thought was the finish, it was just too dark and not the way a wave really looks. So .... change it, I did!

So .... here is number three in the series .... even larger, but still a pastel:

Pastel on Ampersand Pastelbord
18" x 24"

I have enjoyed painting most of these with no sky in them -- just the ocean stretching all the way back and to the top of the piece.

Now, I have planned to paint a large oil painting of a wave on a wood cradled panel that is 3' x 4' .... but first I thought it would be a good idea to do an oil on a smaller canvas. I need to see what difference working with the brush and oil would be to my work of the pastel strokes. Here is an oil that still has some work to do in the curl. The painting is on a gallery wrap 8" x 24" ... so a long piece!

Oil - 8" x 24"

You can see the little bit of orange on the backing board where I have taped this canvas. I toned the canvas with an orange and yellow before starting the painting. I enjoy having a warm underpainting to work on ... no matter whether I am using pastel or oil. That's just me!

And here is a side shot of the gallery wrap.

I'll work on the second painting (pastel) to put in a few droplets that were removed when I changed the water under the curl. Then, I'll put the oil painting back up and correct and finish the area under the curl here. And, there will be a small amount of work around the sides, top and bottom. I did work on those as I painted, but the finishing touches need to be assessed after I finish the front.

I hope you enjoy seeing these different subject matter for me ... not trees! Try something different for yourself!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Thoughts on The Business Side of Art

This will be a rather long post on my blog, but I hope you will read the full post....
I have been thinking of have a meeting at my studio of various artists to discuss the business side of art ... marketing ... inventory... organization ... goals, etc. This thought has been going through my head for at least a year if not longer. I had mentioned it to a few artists to gauge their interest in participating in what I began to call "a round table discussion." I finally scheduled a meeting and sent out an e-mail to about 20 artists and we had 12 or 13 attend the first meeting on Thursday, Dec. 15.
Cypress Dance
Pastel 24x20
I happened to read a post on LinkedIn the next morning talking about the business side and marketing. I went to Gary Boyler's (the author) blog to read the full article. I posted a comment and just about an hour or so later I received an e-mail from Gary. Here is what I posted as a comment on his blog, and here is the link to the original article.
"Gary, I came to your blog through LinkedIn …. because what you said hit a nerve with me. I just had a meeting at my home with twelve “like-minded” artists to discuss our experiences, what we are trying new, how we can stay true to our art, and a general discussion about the best way to market. Each artist brought their own unique experiences to the table. Also, I love the comment above about it being about conversations and relationships. I said this many times, it is not always about “me”, but what is it about the client or customer? We need to listen more than we need to talk! We need to be proactive. And that is what this group will be doing."
I think you should read this if you are interested in marketing in these trying times. Gary Boyler: Why Some Artists Will Almost Certainly Thrive And Prosper In The New Economy His article has some very good information in it and might start you thinking!
Here is what Gary Bolyer said to me in an e-mail:
Hi Marsha, I just received your comment on my art blog today (Gary Bolyer Fine Art). I took a look at your paintings and wow, I was completely blown away. They are breathtakingly beautiful.
I would like to feature you on my blog tomorrow. I would like to talk about how you had an artist group meeting and how that inspired you and motivated you. If you could write me a couple of paragraphs of how you got the idea, how you put it together, and if you plan on doing this again, that would be great.
I will be putting links to your website and talk about your work. I would also like your permission to put some of your beautiful images in the article.
Let me know what you think, Gary Bolyer
Gary Bolyer Fine Art
So, I responded to his e-mail with a "thank you" for his kind words, etc. and formulated several paragraphs to give him an idea of what I did and what the meeting was about. Here is my answer to him....

"we will be meeting quarterly and each time at a different artist's studio or home. That way the moderator for the meeting will be different each time. I find that I tend to talk a lot and "impose" my thoughts .... maybe. It is nice to have a different viewpoint even to the moderation of a meeting.

 I have been discussing the possibility of a "round table" meeting about the business aspects of our art careers for quite some time. Those artists that seemed most interested were the ones I invited ... which was about 20 - 25. Several already had things that prevented them from coming, but noted they wished to be kept on the list so they could participate in the future. We shall see if they meant it. We had 12 or 13 at this first meeting. Mostly painters (of many different mediums), and two were potters -- one of which is relatively new. We want to be sure to have some ideas from different media, not only painters .... if they suffer from the same marketing issues .... and I think it is universal, no matter the medium of art. We had one that uses Etsy quite successfully, one that does quite a few outdoor festivals (the better ones), and several that go the gallery route. Quite an interesting combination, but what I wanted to have. Each would bring their own expertise to the group, but also gain from another's experiences with a venue that is different. It was suggested that the next meeting we should pick one topic or two and focus solely on that for the evening (or sometimes a Saturday).
 One attendee took wonderful notes which she scanned in and e-mailed to me. I have not had a chance to read them yet. Since I was the "moderator or facilitator" of this meeting, I found it hard to keep notes myself (though I am a good note taker). I really tried to keep people on topic. My first talk to them was to have them give us name, medium, and a couple of sentences about what they needed most, or what seemed to be the biggest problem for them. I started, and said I needed to be better organized .... and they all died laughing! They consider me organized. But my thing is to be better at picking the best for me and planning and not missing any deadlines. Also, to keep better address list of potential clients.
 About being inspired and motivated.... it does not take much to inspire or motivate me. My brain never seems to quit!"
Musical Waters
Pastel 24 x 20
You can read what he took from my answers to his questions at: Blueprint for Building a Community of Artists: An Inspiring Message of Hope from Marsha Savage. And the two paintings I am showing here are what he picked to post along with his feature on the blog.
I really appreciate Gary and many more wonderful artists that take the time to appreciate another artist and their work, and their efforts at making the business of art work in these trying times. Please go to the blog and either "like" it or "share" if possible. This is one way to spread the word about artists helping artists. Very important, don't you think?
I would love to hear your thoughts, so please do comment. I would appreciate it ... and I think Gary would enjoy hearing what others think, too.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

International Plein Air Painters

I belong to an organization called IPAP which stands for International Plein Air Painters. International Plein Air Painters is a blanket organization created for the sole purpose of advancing the execution and enjoyment of Plein Air Painting without the restrictions and limitations of borders or regions.

Membership is restricted to Plein Air Painters, those serious to learn about Plein Air Painting and those who wish to be benefactors advancing the Plein Air movement. International Plein Air Painters Members reside in Brazil, Canada, Curacao, Ethiopia, France, Iran, Ireland, IsraeI, Italy, Russia , Spain, St. Lucia, Sweden, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, United States (in 41 of the 50 States).

This is a fantastic group of artists that paint in the "open air" which is what "plein aire" means. This the 10 year Anniversary of the group ... and the Executive Director, J.R. Baldini, thought it would be good to feature the artists in an on-line exhibit.

International Plein Air Painters
is holding their first online Exhibit and sale
in their 10 year history as an organization.

Take advantage of this opportunity to get acquainted
with our talented artist members and purchase some Original Art for a Gift for yourself or someone on your gift giving list this season.

You are contacting the artist directly through this exhibit page
and all works are for sale directly through PayPal

Click  to go to the exhibit page

We submitted two paintings... one for the exhibit, and one for a back up. Here is the painting I submitted for the on-line exhibit:

Lost Mountain Nursery
Pastel - 11" x 14"
So, be sure to visit the "Exhibit" page ... and it would be wonderful if you would "share" it on Facebook and / or with your mailing list.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Southeastern Pastel Demo And Talk

It has been a little while since I posted here. Many things have been happening. Two shows, a studio tour, a plein air event, open studio at my place with a new blog for that, planning workshops for next year ... and a demonstration at the Southeastern Pastel Society.

Beginning the discussion about the trip!
The Southeastern Pastel Society wanted me to talk about the trip I made to Ireland this July/August and how I won part of the trip, participated in Art In The Open in Wexford, Ireland ... and marketed this work to my patrons. Well ... I told them many times it is rather boring to listen to someone talk about their trip. So, I asked if they minded if I demonstrated a pastel painting from one of my Ireland photographs while talking about all the other! Yes, was the answer, and so here goes a little of what I did that evening. I'll weave into the discussion part, photos taken while I demonstrated!
The 15" Digital Photo Screen --
I paint from this!

First I had everything set up so I could start the painting very quickly. I brought with me the "heavy" French easel, my 15" digital photo screen, books with photos from the trip, photos along with the paintings I created, and a book with all the information from start to finish about the trip. These books were passed around while I talked and demonstrated.
Showing how I do a thumbnail
and a Notan before I start the painting.

I discussed first how I had won the trip -- or part of the trip, anyway. I belong to a web site called "" which Don Maier started several years ago. Many wonderful artists belong to this site, from beginners to professional. Don and a member of the Irish Plein Aire site decided to hold a competition to give one US artist the entry fee into the competition (Art In The Open) and a 7-night stay at a 4-star hotel with bed/breakfast package. All the winner had to do was get there ... so that meant air fare, and whatever else the costs would be ... like eating, and getting from Dublin to Wexford. Wexford is about a two-hour bus drive below Dublin on the Southeastern Coast of Ireland.

Beginning a light
pencil sketch.
So, I submitted three plein air paintings to the competition .... oh yeah ... these were to be somehow "Irish" in nature, or green! That was fun ... green is no stranger to me! The group at the meeting got a kick out of that one! Anyway, I won the entry and hotel, and started looking for airfare, getting reservations for the bus ride, etc.

Here I am starting with a
watercolor underpainting on an
Ampersand Pastelbord.
To fund this part of the trip, I decided to offer a deal to my patrons and family.  This was a very special offer and only to those that have been long time supporters of my paintings, classes and workshops. I sent these people a newsletter via e-mail, and then I also sent a beautiful letter by Postal Service. The patrons were allowed to choose a size and pay in advance at a discounted rate. This allowed me to travel to Ireland and participate in the "Art In The Open" Plein Aire Festival.

Watercolor complete, and holding
the photo reference! Don't you love
the faces a camera person catches?
After returning from Ireland, I painted 35 paintings to supplement the plein air pieces. I uploaded images of all the paintings to a Picasa Web Album and sent a newsletter to all the participants to have a look and start choosing their favorites. A date was set and the party was held for the showing the Ireland series! After a little time of partying and conversation, it was time. The first person to "opt in" for the pre-sale chose their painting. The second person was not here, but they had already seen the images online at the web album and had given me their choice with a couple of alternates in case their first choice was already gone. They did get their first choice! Third person, fourth person and so on down the list until all had chosen their painting!
Beginning the pastel
application - standing to the
side so viewers can see.

Though they paid for a certain size, they were not limited to that size. If they wanted a larger one, then they paid the difference. If they wanted a smaller one, they could receive the difference in a refund or apply it to another painting. The first person did "up-size"! The third person did "down-size" and choose another painting (not an Ireland one) and just paid the small difference in what it cost and their credit from the Ireland painting. I believe everyone had a very good time, and left happy!

Taking a look before

I rarely ever discount my artwork unless they are buying multiples! This is only the second time I have offered this kind of opportunity. It does not come around very often ... and my patrons and clients know that. So, not a bad deal on both our parts ... I get to go on a trip, I get to sell some paintings, and my biggest supporters get a "Thank You" deal and one of the first paintings from a new series!

Brushing out the foreground
because it did not help the painting.
The remainder of the photos will finish the progression of the demonstration and the process I use to work on a painting. The photos show the thumbnail and Notan, the digital photo screen, a photo that I manipulated in Photoshop Elements, and the initial sketching and watercolor underpainting on the white Ampersand Pastelbord.

Reapplying shadows at a darker
value to help the composition.

After the underpainting in watercolor, I start by applying the pastel in a broad manner, working from dark to light most of the time. On this particular one, when I started applying some of the darks in the trees, and the colors in the sky ... I decided I loved the looseness of the strokes and the values, and so told them I did not think the trees needed any green! And, I even showed how when something did not meet my expectations, I brush off the lower third and reapply pastel in a different value to help the composition come together.

Here I am taking a final look
before stopping for the night.

I added a few diagonal strokes of light to create a little pathway from the foreground to the middle and some strokes of yellow and mauve / purple to indicate there might be wildflowers in the area. At this point, I step back and decide the painting needs to sit for awhile at home and then I will have another look to decide if it really is what I want. My demonstrations tend to look a little looser than my studio pieces ... almost in the same vein as when I go plein air! I think I like it! 

Here is the painting as it was when I stopped that night. I have done nothing more to it. It is still sitting where I can see it when I walk through the room.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Marc Hanson Workshop

I promised I would show the work I did in the Marc Hanson workshop in August. This workshop was in conjunction with the Southeastern Pastel Society Members' Show. Here is a photo showing the workshop setting -- crowded!
The easel on the left is mine with a watercolor underpainting of my second painting. Marc asked us to bring rather large paper or panels. This was taken on the second day of the workshop. I'll show the painting later.

Marc started out with a power point presentation of some of his work and discussed various elements of composing paintings. He works most times from a field study to compose his studio work. He discussed creating a value study, telling us "the color no longer gets in the way" of the concept, which is most important.

Here are some of his jewels and qutoes:
"weight the composition towards a dominant value ... work to a specific point of view."
"work in themes. Set an assignment, exploring a subject. Create interest for the viewer."
"Orchestrate, move and rearrange things if needed."
"If you don't have to put everything in, then don't! Keep the major shapes, indicate a few shapes somewhere, and this will inform the viewer."
"Only say enough! Say so much with so little!"
"Create from your experiences -- people sense your excitement without even knowing why."

Before the "Fix"
Here is the first painting -- on an 18"x24" Ampersand Pastelbord. Two views, one before I fixed some things, and then after changing some small things.

I changed the two little blue bushes so they were not so much alike. I took the larger darker bush and made it smaller by just brushing out the lower portion of it. There was a rather strong diagonal coming toward the bottom of the large bush, and by taking that bottom out, I made the diagonal stop. I also softened some of the marks at the top of the painting which makes it recede.

After the "Fix"
There might be a few other small corrections, but at this point, I have not done anything more to the painting. There are a few things I am thinking of doing near the bottom, but they won't be anything major.

I started the second painting around the middle of our second day in class -- which is what you see in the photo at the top of the page with just the watercolor underpainting. Here is a closer look at that underpainting.
This painting was done from a plein air pastel I did in the "Art In The Open" Festival in Wexford, Ireland just a couple of weeks before the workshop. My plein air piece is an 11x14 and this larger version is 18x24.

Here is the painting as it looks now -- and I might do a little more to the left side where it comes down the wall -- which is just a little too straight for me!

I did two more paintings -- started one on Sunday morning, and then had about an hour left during the afternoon, so I did a smaller one from the first one and a photo taken from the same location. I really think all these paintings are relatively successful.

One more quote: "Edges - are the most sensitive, and gives it the most emotion. Soft focus creates motion and helps the eye move in and over the edges. It doesn't just stop there. It allows the eye to move back in space. Take a color and just break that edge. Here is where you get to be artistic. Sensitivity! Personality, a little more of your own voice."

It was a wonderful workshop ... and I am sure I learned much from his presentation, his demo and the many times he came around the room and made just one or two comments each time. Marc also discussed with me what it is I need to be doing in my art at this point in my career. We shall see if I can do what is needed! The words were very thought provoking. He said to figure out and paint the one thing that I am most inspired by ... guess what ... could that be trees? Figure out what it is that could make mine  .... mine! Be known for that. Yep, that's what I need to do. Make them mine!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Two Ireland Paintings and Changes

Yesterday I started two paintings from my photos from Ireland. Today I have been working on them to make them better. It involved quite significant changes -- such as brushing off some of the pastel so I could place a completely different value and composition in the place of what I had done yesterday. These are both 9x12 paintings on Ampersand Pastelbord ... and take a load of abuse!

Here is one before the change, and then after the change. Below that are greyscales of each of them.
Notice the rocks in the foreground and the little flowers. This is how I left it yesterday afternoon when I closed up the studio. I thought is was coming along nicely though I worried about the rock wall creating a barrier to a person moving into the painting. And, it looks nothing like the photo I was using. I'll post that also.

Here is the photo:

Now here is the second painting, showing you first the way I left it yesterday afternoon, and then what I did with it today. Below those are two photos that I combined to create the scene and the greyscale of each day's work.

I thought there needed to be a harmonizing color and value along the bottom of the painting. I usually put cool temperature colors at the bottom to help a person "jump" over those cool colors and enter the painting.

Tomorrow, I will come down again -- or when I come to the studio again -- I will take another look and see if I still like the changes I made. I will ask myself this question, "Is there any change I would do that would make these paintings significantly better?" If the answer is no, then this is how they will stay. And, I will move on to the next Ireland paintings. Sometimes, you need to just go on to the next painting to implement what you learned on the most recent work!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Southeastern Pastel Society Reception

Last week was a very busy week in my art world! On Thursday, we went to Gainesville, GA to the Quinlan Visual Arts Center for the Southeastern Pastel Society Members' Juried Exhibition. Out of 257 paintings submitted by 97 artists, Marc Hanson chose 100 paintings. I am not sure how many artists were represented. Marc is a fantastic and nationally known artist and has been featured in many art magazines.

I was fortunate to have two paintings chosen for this exhibition: "Rocky Ravine" and "Cypress Dance." My painting Rocky Ravine was also chosen for a "Merit Award!" Happy day and also an honor ... as there were many beautiful paintings in this show. Our member show rivals our international shows ... they are alternating ... one year we have a "members' show" and the next year we have an "international show."

Here is my winning painting:

Rocky Ravine
Pastel - 24" x 18"
Merit Award Winner
The painting was done from a photograph taken near Monteagle, TN at a wonderful park ... Fiery Gizzard! What a name, right? I did take liberties with the photo, as the scene was quite dark with trees hanging over the distant part of the creek. I decided I wanted some sky and light coming more vividly through. I opened it up and created the light on those distant trees.

Cypress Dance
Pastel - 24"x20"

Here is the other painting accepted into the show ...
I added fine pumice gel to a gatorboard surface, which made the brush strokes show and created quite a rough surface for adding the pastel. I think it adds to the painting when you are up close and looking at the strokes!

Here is a shot of me with Marc Hanson and my painting! And, below are several other shots at the reception.
Ronnie Offen and her
prize winning painting!

Sylvia and Randy Eidson
His painting to his left

And more of the crowd!
In the center of the photo
My Mom (Betty Hamby) and
Haywood (my husband)

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I attended a workshop given by our judge, Marc Hanson. I have known him online for about 10 years or more. What a treat to get to meet him in real life. The workshop was great fun, but really hard work. I will do another blog post about the workshop ... loads to show you!