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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Flowers with Fruit

12x16 inches
acrylic on panel

Painter's Tip:

Preparing For a Show Opening

An artist asked me for advice on preparing for an opening. It would take a long time to cover that topic thouroughly, but here are a few important tasks.

Send a good press release about four weeks before the event and then again about ten days before the event. These should go to every style magazine, local weekly paper, radio station, and daily newspaper, along with any TV stations in your area.

You will need to attach a picture of one of your paintings, and another image of you working in your studio or on location. You should add info about where the show is, gallery, art center or museum, along with their PR info and a link to their web site. Include anything pertaining to the theme, along with anything related to worthy causes if they are related in any way. You should have a brief one paragraph bio about your work process. If it is a show about plein air painting, send a brief invitation to the press persons to come out and join you in the great outdoors.
If you have a web site be sure to put the show information on your home page, with an address for the place you are showing. is a great way to invite your mailing list of personal and business associates and clients. They should be invited about two weeks before the event.

When your show opens, You should have plenty of business cards and promotional materials to give out. You should also carry a small notebook and pen in hand, to write down information about people you talk with. Often they will give you contact information in person more willingly than signing a guest book. Be sure there is a guest book which is in a prominent location. It should have instructions for including email addresses and zip codes.

Be sure to wear business casual and look as well groomed as possible. Remember that you are dealing with a lot of business people who have purchasing income. They will not be impressed by sloppy, unkempt artsy styles. Do not drink much alcohol. You want to be very alert and personable to possible patrons. Circulate constantly and do not get cornered by friends. I rarely invite personal friends or family to openings for that reason. I am interested in clients and this is about the business of art. Unless they are there to introduce new business contacts, leave them at home.

Don’t forget other markets for the exhibit. If the show is about gardens, send invitations to nurseries. It it is about marshes and wetlands, send invitations to trail,or river enthusiasts. Try to reach a broad range of potential clients who might have interests in your work, not just fine art collectors.

The most important thing to do is smile, be open and friendly and listen more than you talk.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


8x10 inches
acrylic on panel

Painter's Tip

Organizing Your Life and Your Studio

I don’t know about you but I live in a sea of paperwork. Not only for my art business but for my personal life as well.

I decided to get organized and do something about it.

I use a three hole binder system for all of my paperwork. For each studio project I have a separate binder. For example, I have binders for all of my PR paperwork including press clippings, magazine write ups, post cards and catalogues from exhibitions. Anything to do with that sort of exhibit history gets punched and put in a large binder, one for each year or multiple years, depending on how much you get.

I have another binder for all paint out materials, one for museum and art center exhibitions, one for each of the art groups I belong to, one for painting tutorials, one for student information, commissions, reference photos, and so forth. You will have different ones for your needs. You will also need to have different thicknesses of binders, depending on how much info you will use for each one. Some will be very thin others huge or multiple part I and Part II binders.

I do the same for my personal life, bank statements, physician and dental, my kids info, etc.

Next to my computer in the studio, I keep a master list binder. It has all current paperwork that I will need to have. I paste a current month calendar page to the top cover of the binder. That way I don’t have to open it to see the current month. Following months are kept inside the binder, with appropriate paperwork for each month. As the top cover month ends, the paperwork for that month is sorted, and removed from the master list binder and filed in what ever binder it needs to go to or in the trash. The next month’s calendar page is taped to the top and the process starts over again for a new month. As paperwork comes in the mail or over the computer, it is punched and added to either the master list or to one of the other binders.

The other thing I do to stay organized is a to do list made each week on Sunday night. It stays on the first page of my binder all week and as things are check off, I have a huge sense of satisfaction. On Sunday night that list goes in the trash and another is started for the coming week.

My last bit of advice on the management of your life is :

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Louis' II

Louis' Lunch
10x10 inches
acrylic on gallery wrap canvas

Painter's Tip

Painting in the studio from life

Don't position the objects you want in a still life in a straight row unless it is part of a specific theme, such as a panoramic format. They will look like soldiers on parade. Rather, stagger them at variable positions Or if you really want them in a straight row, overlap them or paint them from an usual angle, such as straight on or from above.

Establish the large shapes and masses first, and their position on the canvas. Save detail for last.

You can work tentatively, slowly, at first, and gradually arrive at the shape and placement of your composition, if that makes you feel more comfortable.

When painting objects, try to discern their underlying geometric shape - an apple is a sphere, a bottle is a cylinder, a bowl is a half-sphere. Usually, objects are seen from slightly above, turning a circular plate into an ellipse. Try tolook at objects as shapes, masses, angles rather than as the objects they are. Work on the whole composition, rather than lingering in particular areas. In order to help integrate the objects and the space around them, try using a simple colored or
patterned fabric, placemat, etc. under them.

Before starting to paint, spend time studying your subject.

Notice that objects and surfaces are not all one color. There are shadows and highlights on them which cause variations of their local color.

Don't try to capture too much detail early in the painting.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Louis' Lunch

Louis' Lunch
A Gainesville Florida Landmark
10x10 inches
acrylic on Gallery Wrap canvas

Painter's Tip

How to Stretch Artists' Canvas

After determining the required canvas size, for example, 30" x 40", select the corresponding sizes of stretcher strips and make up a frame by fitting together the mitered ends.

Check the squareness of the frame by measuring across the diagonal corners so that both measurements are equal. If bracing is desired for a larger size, attach snugly with provision for later expansion.

Spread the canvas on a clean flat surface, primed side down. Position the frame for best material yield, allowing from 1 1/2" to 2" excess for gripping and stretching, depending on the type of stretcher frame. Cut out canvas segment.

Fold one side of the canvas over a short end of the frame, and tack at the center of the strip, allowing for 1 1/2" - 2" excess.

Reverse to the opposite side, using canvas pliers to grip the canvas in the left hand (for a right-handed person) with the frame resting in an upright position, primed surface facing you.

With a tight grip on the pliers, pull firmly until a straight crease is formed running from the pliers to the tacked end. With your right thumb, insert the tack while maintaining plier tension at the top of the crease, and tap in. A magnetic-head tack hammer will allow you to pick up the tack with one hand and insert it faster, using the other side of the hammer to tap in. When using a staple gun instead of tacks-and-hammer, the left hand pliers function is unchanged, and the stapling method replaces tacking.

Move to an adjacent side and follow the same procedure, pulling firmly and tacking canvas to the frame at the center, creating first a triangle crease and then a diamond crease in the canvas with the fourth tack, at the opposite long side. Then temporarily tack canvas at each corner on short side only. Work out from center of long side.

Move the pliers about 2 inches to one side, pull tightly, and tack to the frame. Repeat for several more inches in both directions from the center, then reverse to the opposite side and continue the process. Pull out tacks from the corners of short side and tack or staple from the center to the edges. Repeat the same procedure on one adjacent side and then its opposite. Depending upon the size of the canvas, and entire side can be tacked at one time, or for larger sizes, the canvas should be rotated several times before it is completely stretched. A linen primed canvs, particularly an oil-primed linen, will normally require more closely spaced tacks as there is limited stretch to the fabric.

Leaving about 2 inches untacked at both ends of the inner sides, tuck in the corners and tack through the folded canvas into the frame with exerting finger tension.

Fold the excess canvas to the back of the frame and tape or tack, to allow for removal and remounting in the future. If the canvas is trimmed flush with the back of the frame it will be difficult to remount properly without reducing the size of the frame. It's always better to ahve some extra canvas tacked to the back if you must remove from the stretchers.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Kanapaha Gardens Pond

Kanapaha Gardens Pond

12x16 inches

acrylic over casein


Painter's Tip

Work Revisited

Sometimes your older paintings can be revitalized. I had this painting sitting in my studio for about two years. I had done it in casein. It just looked flat and dull with no vitality. I had forgotten about it. Perhaps it was waiting for my skills to grow enough to save it.

Look around your studio and go through your older work. Many times you will see ways to improve it with fresh ideas and more skill than you may have had at the time you did the painting.

I don't know about you, but my skills have improved over the years.

Often times there is nothing wrong with the painting's composition. It just needs better execution.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Salt Springs

6x8 inches
acrylic on panel

Painter's Tip

Strength In Numbers

I am very excited to be a partner in a collaborative effort with two other artists called Visions.

We are planning a series of exhibitions with a variety of themes over the next few years. We will have no parameters for the works except for the theme title. We can do studio or plein air work, abstract to photo realist styles, putting our own stamp on the theme. We will meet twice a month to have dinner together and to paint in one of our studios together. We will share marketing ideas and expenses for the various exhibits.

My advice for collaborative efforts:

Choose artists who live in the same area so that meetings are easy.

Choose like minded artists who have similar visions for their future career goals.

Choose artists who are innovative and willing to try new ways to market and to paint.

Choose artists who are at about your level of technical ability and who are at your career stage as well.

Choose artists who’s styles are unique to them and not too similar to yours,though they should show well together.

Choose artists you know well and who you will be able to work with in any given situation. Are they dependable ? Will they accept tasks and perform them in a timely manner? Are they generous and willing to share their gifts with others? Do you have a mix of big picture and detail oriented members?

If everyone in the mix is detail oriented you will have trouble getting anything accomplished on a larger scale. You will need an idea person too.

Three to five artists is a good number.

Collaborating with others can enhance all of your careers.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cone Flowers

Cone Flowers
6x8 inches
acrylic on panel

Painter's Tip

Let’s Talk About Risks

I take a lot of risks in my work. I am willing to try things I know nothing about. I like to study a subject that I don’t like for about a year. The reason I don’t like it is because I can’t really paint it very well. I have avoided it because I feel inadequate to “pull it off successfully”. Forcing myself to paint it badly for awhile gives me the time I need to study and learn.

Why must we be afraid to paint badly? I do hundreds of paintings each year, some of them are very good but many are mediocre or just plain bad!! I have learned something from those bad paintings so I haven’t really lost anything by doing them.

I believe we all go through plateaus and growth in our work. If you are painting well all of the time and turning out good work every time, perhaps it is time to stretch yourself a bit. Move out of your favorite medium or subject matter for a bit of study. You will be surprised to find that your old comfort work will improve too.

It is too easy to be comfortable. We worry far too much about other artists who may be more successful or talented than we are. We are afraid to look bad in front of them. We will be far more satisfied if we concentrate on learning and growing, rather than worrying about what others are doing.

Have confidence in your own ability and paint at your best skill level each time. I try not to worry about whether someone else is better than me because I know there are better painters. That won’t stop me from improving every year and working all the harder.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wood Farm Evinston Florida

18x24 inches
oil on canvas

Painter's Tip

Advice for Outdoor Festival Artists

I started fresh out of art school as a festival artist and did them for 20 years before moving into galleries and museum shows. Now I judge several Florida festivals and art center shows each year.

Here are a few tips that might help you if you are starting the same way.

Be sure to frame up a nice little brief statement about your work and information for purchasing the paintings. If you have a studio space where folks can come to see you and your work, be sure to post that information and studio hours in the framed bio. You want to make it as easy and comfortable as possible for people to find you.

Your business cards should be professionally made and of good quality. Remember that your business card may be the only impression you get to make on a potential patron. Handing out a wimpy home computer card does not instill confidence in a patron that you are in business for the long term.

If you do not have a credit card set up, open a paypal account as a merchant so that you can accept CC online. That's what I did. You can have people who need to use plastic go to their computers and pay instantly with pay pal. Offer to hold the painting overnight for them and then offer to deliver locally if they can't come back.

Have some nice post cards or brochures in the booth to hand out only to people who actually engage you in conversation. Give business cards to everyone else. Make sure the post card has a % off coupon on it, so they will look you up later and use it. If you have a mailing list card with postcard stamps on them you can hand those out to anyone who really seems interested but hasn't the time to sign your mailing list book in the booth. They can just drop it in the mail for you.

Your mailing list is the most important selling tool you have. Get as many emails as possible. Set up your mailing list form with name/address/email so they will know to give it to you. Don't ask for phone numbers. That puts people off.

Send a hand written thank you card to everyone who buys a painting. I have done that for years and years and people love it.

Put your most important painting in the back of the booth front and center, so it is the first thing people see. It should be well framed and important!!
Don't crowd too many things into the booth. Better to have some extras to show people if they show real interest. Your booth should look simple and uncluttered, like gallery walls. Use consistent framing, avoiding a mishmash of styles and colors or mats. Show a thematic body of work. Try to avoid multiple genre's.

Make sure you put a % off coupon with all paintings you sell. It will give them incentive to become collectors. Most of my patrons own several paintings.

There are several publications and magazines which focus on art festivals, including equipment and marketing techniques. Do some reasearch by attending a few festivals, checking out booths and talk with artists. Most of them will be kind and helpful, but don't approach them when they are with customers, and don't monopolize their time.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Snell Isle Bridge

Snell Isle Bridge
6x8 inches
oil on linen

Painter's Tip

Managing Your palette

Keeping your palette clean and manageable during a painting session is very important if you want clean crisp work. I hate a messy palette. Often, if I see a painter struggling with muddy work it is because their palette habits are poor.

I start with my paints lined up in hue groups at the top of my palette in a row. For beginners I always recommend that you lay them out in the same order each time you paint. I always use long ribbons of paint, staying away from blobs. Ribbons allow you to pull paint off the end of the ribbon without contaminating the rest of the color.

I begin by pulling off paints from the ribbon to mix further down on the palette. As I process through the painting I am mixing various spots of color low down on the palette. Leaving the original ribbons of paint clean and undisturbed. As I begin to make the lower palette messy, I will stop and wipe the bottom half clean, so that I have a new and fresh mixing space on the palette.

My other good habit is placing the strokes of paint where I want them on the canvas and then wiping my brush thoroughly with a paper towel before dipping into the solvent. My solvent lasts much longer, staying fresh.

I do my mixing on the palette rather than the canvas, so my color stays clean and crisp. Making good muds is great. Making muds because you don’t have control of your palette is not so great.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Palm Arboretum

Palm Arboretum St Petersburg Florida
8x10 inches
oil on panel

Painter's Tip

Art organizations

It's easy to get involved in lots of art organizations. Before you know it, you are spending more time clubbing than painting. I resign from organizations that don't live up to my expectations after a year or two and I am more judicious now about joining them in the first place. Considering the dues that we must pay to become members, it is wise to be sure you are getting real value.

It is important that you think about what you will be getting out of a club or art organization. How much time must you commit to committees, meetings? Can you be a member without attending meetings? I often belong to groups as a show of support without attending because I want to support local groups.

I stay away from most of the national art organizations because I feel they have little to offer me other than the bragging factor. I suspect that many of them offer memberships in order to support the few superstars and big named painters they have on their roster. Most of the members get no recognition or opportunities because the jurying process is all but impossible to overcome for the emerging painter. For national art clubs I join only by invitation.

Instead, I like regional and local art clubs because they offer exhibition opportunities, workshops, and information that are easy for me to get to and use. I have more in common with regional artists than someone who may be 2,000 miles away in a different culture altogether.

I also stick with groups who have commonalities with my genre of painting. The networking can be useful between landscape, portrait, and other sub groups whereever they may live.

I use a criteria list before selecting groups. Your criteria may be very different from mine. Think about what you have to offer the group in time or expertise and what exactly you need from the group you are considering. Ask questions of members and attend a couple of meetings before you make the committment of your valuable time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Family Portrait

12x16 inches
acrylic on canvas

Painter's Tip

Working on Commissions

Patience is the key word in working with commission clients. They have a vision and it can sometimes be unrealistic. If you paint commissions you must be willing to make revisions and to communicate effectively.

Be sure that you give them realistic time lines and that you are staying within those time lines as you progress through the painting. You must give them upfront information on length of time, how many revisions are allowed relative to cost, and when to expect delivery. You should discuss with them possible sizes, supports, medium and the advantages and characteristics of each support and medium, framing choices and those costs. They should be advised on whether you have a waiting list and when you will start the project.

They should receive a certificate with archival information, such as the type and manufacturer for paint, canvas, stretchers, varnish or other materials used. I include an image of the painting on this page. I also include an envoice for the painting, a business card, a brochure and a bio/statement/resume for their files. I also use a stick on label with contact information on the back of the painting support.

Commissions can be fun and exciting. They are challenging and can take you outside of your box.