Saturday, September 30, 2006

Gordon Leverton - fine art and industrial landscapes

'Passage 1'
16" x 11" Coloured pencil on sanded pastel paper
$450

Canadian artist Gordon Leverton, a fellow member of Fine Line Artists, is having a rather busy time this weekend.

We've known for some time that his pencil drawing, “Passage 1” has been accepted into the Society of Canadian Artists’ 39th Open Juried Exhibition at the Papermill Gallery, Todmorden Mills Museum, 67 Pottery Road, Toronto - which opened today. Given the focus of Gordon's artwork - the industrial cityscapes of Hamilton Ontario - it's very apposite that this gallery should form part of an industrial heritage site.

However there was always the question of who was going to accompany him to the opening reception today......or even whether he was going to get to it at all. All's well that ends well. Wife Nancy shoed him out the door this afternoon and insisted he attended the reception - after she gave birth in the wee small hours of Friday morning to the couple's second child Gemma. Gord will also be bringing home his wife Nancy and new daughter Gemma from hospital this weekend so Gemma can get better acquainted with her big brother Nolan.

Gord will have even more to celebrate in two weeks time, when his first solo exhibition opens at the Mixed Media Gallery. This will also feature in the monthly James North Art Crawl during the month of October 2006. The opening reception for Gord's first solo exhibition is Friday, Oct. 13, 2006 from 7-10pm at 174 James St. N, Hamilton. Free admission.

Other examples of his recent artwork are show below. Gordon uses dry mediums such as coloured pencil, pastels, charcoal and conte. He achieves his results through a variety of styles, including cross hatching, blending and layering colour. Liquid solvents play a big part in his work, enabling him to build several layers of colour, which he then "mixes" to form a solid, unique shade. This, combined with a loose and sketchy approach, allow a serendipitous final outcome, much like a watercolourist leaves some chance to the interaction between water and pape.

In relation to his focus on local industrial scenes, as Gord says
"Most people yearn to escape the city; I find comfort there. The neatly arranged blocks of houses, the social interaction with persons of all classes and backgrounds, not to forget the clusters of artisans and creative people - how can an artist not find inspiration in such a place?"
You can see more of his warehouses, storefronts and streetscapes on his website www.gordonleveton.com. In my opinion, Gordon Leverton is mining a rich seam within his industrial landscape niche and is producing a lot of high quality work . He has a unique eye for his subject of choice and has developed a way of working which well suits the way he wants to portray his subject matter.



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Friday, September 29, 2006

Bert Dodson and "Keys to Drawing with Imagination"


10 days ago in Vermont I had the very great pleasure of meeting with Bert Dodson - author of one of North Light Book's best selling books "Keys to Drawing", which I reviewed in May this year. I now know from the feedback I've received on this blog and elsewhere that this book is very highly rated by a number of artists interested in drawing and/or expanding their drawing skills.

Bert was a late addition to my visit schedule. Our purpose in meeting being that he was interested in my drawing and blogging experiences and I was even more interested in the new book he has got coming out in November! I'm pleased to say that my photos came out OK hence a sneak preview above of Bert in his truly wonderful studio, full of images he's drawn and painted over the years and with views over the valley of the Connecticut River.

Bert is pictured above at one end of his studio surrounded by about half of the five screens on which he had pinned all the page proofs for his new book "Keys to Drawing with Imagination" due to be published by North Light Books in November 2006. Bert's arranging for me to receive a pre-publication copy to review so more about the new book in this blog after I've read it from cover to cover - hopefully next month. After scanning the page proofs - reading small sections and reviewing the huge quantity of images used, I have to say I'm very much looking forward to having rather more time to read this at my leisure.

I'll be writing more about my visit with Bert in my "Travels with my Sketchbook" blog. Posts on that blog about my recent trip to New England (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine) will start next week.

Links: Book review: "Keys to Drawing" by Bert Dodson

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

A portfolio life

Last week I had a really great time doing a five-day workshop with Sally Strand organised by the Pastel Painters Society of Cape Cod (of which more later) in Chatham on Cape Cod.

Most of my fellow workshop participants were women and most of us are enjoying a more mature perspective on life! As with many such workshops, learning extended beyond the tutor and the studio and involved interesting exchanges over lunchtime sandwiches and the dinner table in the evening. Listening to how people had arrived at their art and this particular workshop prompted me to write what follows.

But first a quick bit of context. About 20 years ago, while doing my MBA, I was fortunate to be taught by Professor Charles Handy who has been very influential in relation to organisational theory and management thinking. His own career path was very interesting and I remember one of the assignments he set for my class involved defining a future career path for ourselves. He was at the time developing and writing about the idea of the portfolio worker - somebody who works independently and derives their income from a number of sources - and the portfolio career for people who may not do the same type of job all their life. At the time I was more inclined to relate the notion of a portfolio career to my experience of doing an advanced degree part-time over three years (with enough class contact hours to entitle me to a national union of students card!) at the same time as holding down a senior management job. Later, the notion of changing direction and looking to develop income streams from different types of work began to hold much more attraction. Always I hoped to get back to my art in some way or other. I wasn't alone.

While listening, in Cape Cod, to people's stories of what part art had played in their lives I was struck by how many people had lived a 'portfolio' life. For many of them, art had been an undercurrent within their portfolio of responsibilities, activities and interests for many years. A number had fine arts degrees or had previously studied art but had taken long breaks from their art to attend to other matters - whether that was making their way in the world or helping others to do likewise. Most people had held positions of considerable and time-consuming responsibility in corporations, professional offices, voluntary organisations and/or the family home.

Later in life, art began to emerge. There was more time and space for art as a major component within their life portfolio. The scope and opportunity for art to become a potential income stream instead of just an undercurrent began to emerge. A number were now pursuing their art on a serious basis, had their own studios, exhibited their work in group and individual shows and were notching up sales. As one grandmother put it to me, she has recently been classed as 'an emerging artist'. Another quipped that she had been described as a "new face' on the art scene at the age of 61!

Art is very often regarded as a 'hobby' or a pastime for retirement and I don't doubt the value art can play in a recreational sense. However it's also very stimulating to see how, as time passes and people shed the more time-consuming aspects of some previous responsibilities, they can also open doors to a 'new' career as an artist. One more for the portfolio!

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Pastel Society of America - 34th Annual Exhibition

[Greetings from Massachusetts! OK - so maybe I'll manage an odd post!]

I'm taking a workshop with Sally Strand next week in Cape Cod and have just received my regular newsletter from her - and discovered the following!
After the workshop at Cape Cod, I will be traveling to New York City to attend the Pastel Society of America 34th Annual Exhibition www.pastelsocietyofamerica.org at the National Arts Club.

My painting, Citrus, Fallen Leaves and Kumquats won the Jack Richeson Award at the PSA exhibition! I look forward to being there to receive the award in person and catching up with many of you from around the country that I haven’t seen in some time.
I've included links below to both the Pastel Society of America's exhibition webpage and that of the National Arts Club below and I'm now off to study Amtrak timetables and fares to see if I can fit this in as well!

The 34th Annual Open Exhibition is being held at the Nationa; Arts Club from 8th September until 1st October. It showcases approximately 200 pastel paintings that have been selected from over 1300 entries which come from all over the world. It attracts the best of artists and shows the many styles possible with the use of pastels.

The National Arts Club is located at 15 Gramercy Park South (20th Street) between Park and Irving Place, on the southwest corner of Gramercy Park. The club recommends that those coming by Subway should take the 6 train to 23rd Street and walk south on Park Ave. Make a left on 20th Street, and walk half a block. You will find us across from Gramercy Park. Other answers to frequently asked questions about the NAC can be found here - note the dress code!

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

An update and some downtime (please return at the end of the month)

First thank you to all those people who subscribed to this blog yesterday - always nice to see the number of readers rising.

However, I need to ask you to accept my apologies because as indicated earlier this week I'm about to visit New England and probably won't be posting again until the end of the month.

Weight restrictions and a full set of pastels means that I won't be able to take a laptop and hence probably won't be able to access a computer to post until I get back.

Please come back at the end of the month when 'normal service will be resumed' and I shall be able to tell you all about the pastel workshop with Sally Strand on Cape Cod!

Also a quick update on the situation with the proper domain name for Fine Line Artists ie www.finelineartists.com. We're all rather puzzled having never had a problem before with domain name propogation - but I think we might be about to give Go Daddy a new name - "Slow Daddy" - as 4 days later the domain name has still not propogated. It's unclear what the problem is exactly and where it lies but hopefully it will be resolved very soon. In the meantime, as previouslyindicated, you can access our new project via http://www.sitekreator.com/finelineartists/index.html - a bit of a mouthful but it works!

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Introducing 'Fine Line Artists'

I'm very pleased to be able to introduce you to a new and (I think) possibly a unique group of people called 'Fine Line Artists'.

'Fine Line Artists' is a group of eight artists which I helped to create a year ago. Since then, we've been working and collaborating together to develop our art and art careers/business and this week we are launching a new website to promote members of the group to the wider art world.

This extract from the introduction to the group on the website describes some of the reasons we might be unique - we're certainly different!
Fine Line Artists are a group of eight artists who live on three different continents, in four different countries, and in five different parts of North America. Their ages cross four decades and they have very different backgrounds. Nevertheless, they share common goals.

The group formed primarily to provide support for the development of their art and, for some, the business of being an artist. Their aims have been to achieve artistic growth through honest dialogue and to provide each other with advice and support at all times - in dealing with the challenges presented by their artwork, the art business and life generally.

The artists originally met one another while participating in an internet art forum and subsequently developed close friendships through e-mail correspondence and the formation of their own private internet forum in September 2005. Since then, they have met many personal challenges, supported much development and celebrated very many achievements.

They are all unequivocal that they have achieved much more by being a member of this group than they might have done pursuing their art as an individual.
Besides myself, the members of Fine Line Artists are:
  • Nicole Caulfield - New Hampshire, USA
  • Katherine Ellis - Maine, USA
  • Louise Sackett - California, USA
  • Maggie Stiefvater - Virginia, USA
  • Gayle Mason - Yorkshire, UK
  • Gordon Leverton - Ontario, Canada, and finally
  • Wendy Prior - South Island New Zealand
I'm a little less pleased to be able to introduce you to the Fine Line Artists new website address www.finelineartists.com which for some reason is taking an age to get propogated despite being activated at the weekend!

In the meantime if you try this one http://sitekreator.com/finelineartists/index.html you'll be able to see the site and:
  • introductions to all the members of Fine Line Artists
  • all our news about our activities and achievements in the last six months
  • current and future exhibitions - including a Group Exhibition in New Hampshire later this year
  • prints and fine art cards offered by members of the group
  • information about the scope of commission work accepted by members of the group
Conducting virtually all our dialogue via the internet makes life interesting in terms of group dynamics. We only started to speak with one another on the phone earlier this year and, in the last few months , we've actually started to meet up as we share our activities together!

The photo below is of Gayle and me outside the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery after the Private View of the SOFA exhibition which we both have work in. (Quick aside: I discovered that one of my works has made it into the window again and 'Yin and Yang' are now both staring at the Old Vic Theatre across the road! Gayle's work is also in an excellent position inside the gallery and the Director was very complimentary about her work.)

And this is the first ever meeting of four of us at the same time in Albuquerque last month. From left to right: Louise Sackett, Nicole Caulfield, me and Katherine Ellis.


If you'd like any further information about the group please contact us.

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Travels with a sketchbook in....... New England

I'm returning to the USA on Friday for another trip - this time to New England.

It started off a while back when I realised that Sally Strand was doing a pastel workshop in New England (organised by the Cape Cod Pastel Society) at a time I could do. I think I paused for a millisecond before signing up! From this you will appreciate that I'm really looking forward to the workshop with Sally. I've wanted to do see how she does her pastels and mixed media for years and years! Ever since I first saw them in Judy Martin's book "Pastels Masterclass". And following my exchange of e-mails with her, I'm really looking forward to meeting her too.

Sally Strand is a designated a Master Pastellist with the Pastel Society of America. Check out her work in pastels and mixed media on her website - her treatment of light is exquisite. Also take a look at the sizes of some her work! If you'd like to find out about future workshiops, you can subscribe (on her website) to a newsletter which provides details.

Anyway - in broad terms this is where I'm going:
  • 10th - 15th September - Chatham, Cape Cod - pastel workshop with Sally Strand
  • 16-17th - Massachusetts
  • 18-20th - New Hampshire
  • 21 - 24th Maine
and then back to Massachusetts, Boston Logan and home.

The Moleskine sketchbook will be going too...... ;) I'm trying to make sure I've posted all my sketchbook from the last trip to my other blog ("Travels with a Sketchbook in......." ) before I leave. As of last night my trip in the last week in California down the Pacific Coast Highway had got as far as the palm trees in Ventura and I think I've just got breakfast in Malibu and the summary post to do to finish.

Then I can start with this new trip! I'm hoping for the colour in the trees turning while I'm there - and to see a few art museums. If you have any recommendations for places to visit / see could you include them in the comments below please. Thanks........

Packing is proving to be "interesting" given the new constraints on luggage since the terrorist scare - but hopefully they will have sorted out how to make things run smoothly at check-in by now.

What this all means is that this blog will be taking another break - with maybe the odd post between now and the end of September. But after that I'll be around for a long while.

But do read the next post - as it's rather a significant one for me.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Society of Graphic Fine Art - 85th Annual Open 12th-23rd September

Causse Country
Pastel 19.5" x 25"

In April this year I was elected an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art (SGFA) by the SGFA Council. The pastel painting shown above will be exhibited (and is for sale) at the 85th Annual Open Exhibition of the Society of Graphic Fine Art - at the Menier Gallery at 51 Southwark Street in central London.

The SGFA promotes fine drawing skills whether with brush, pen, charcoal, conté or any other forms of original printmaking. About 200 drawings and prints will be exhibited. I will also have three drawings in the folio stand at the Exhibition.

The original plein air sketch for Causse Country was done while I sat at the very edge of this pool in south west France. It was a blisteringly hot day and the pool was cool and tranquil. The colours and dappled shadows were simply stunning and begged to be drawn. It was one of those occasions when you know you want to create something straight away but you need to walk away from it first. Plus I had to wait until the sun moved and I had enough shadow to sit in and draw given the heat! So - with all this in mind - I walked away and worked on a different view during the morning. I then came back to this one in the afternoon with my eye adjusted to the place, the colours and the values. Plus I'd worked out by then pretty much what was happening with the shadows and waited until I got what I wanted. I vividly remember going paddling in that water at the front of the sketch while taking a break from sketching!

I have racked my brains ever since to remember the name of this particular place as I have two more pieces from that day's trip. I know I was staying in a little village called Opoul Perillos - just north of Perpignan - in the Pyrenees Orientales area of the Languedoc-Roussillon region - and that's about it............

I tried something different with this pastel work. I'm very fond of it and had it hanging in one of my main rooms for some time - but without glass. During that time the pastel has 'cured'. The high quality of the pigments used in my Unison Pastels has also been clearly demonstrated as it hung in a position with very good indirect light (ie no direct sunlight) - and the pigment in my Unison Pastels has lost none of its colour strength and saturation. I'm very pleased with its new frame in American Walnut. I've not used it before but it is simply gorgeous - a very soft dark wood which fits absolutely beautifully with the darker colours.

The exhibition opens next Tuesday 12th September at the Menier Gallery in Southwark and runs until Saturday 23rd September. Opening hours are 10.00 - 6.00 but it will close at 2pm on the last day.

Jacqueline Rizvi RBA RWS NEAC will formally open the exhibition and present the awards and prizes at the Private View at 6.oo - 8.00 pm next Tuesday (12th September). Unfortunately this clashes with a prior commitment for me and I'll have to miss this as I'll be in Cape Cod!

I've included the reverse of the Private View card which shows the gallery's location - inbetween Tate Modern and Southwark Cathedral/London Bridge and one street back from the Thames walk and Borough Market area where I was drawing during the International Sketchcrawl on July 1st. Click on the card to see a bigger image.

You can see more work by SGFA members in the Graphic Art Gallery section of the SGFA's brand new website. As a Drawing Society the gallery demonstrates, as I'm sure the exhibition will do also, the great breadth and range of work which can be accomplished while drawing. Do take a look and/or visit the Exhibition if you're planning to be in London.

Details of:
  • how to join the Society are also available on the website.
  • how to submit to next year's exhibition will also be available in due course. Submission is not limited to members and a note about the type of work accepted for exhibition is below.
Enquiries about how to buy a drawing from the Exhibition or commission a work by an SGFA member painting should be addressed to the Honorary Secretary by e-mailing enquiries@sgfa.org.uk

Note: The Society of Graphic Fine Art exists with the purpose of promoting drawing skills by means of exhibitions for both Members and non – Members work. Suitable artwork for inclusion in this exhibition will be drawings in any medium [ pencil, pen and ink, pastel, scraperboard, charcoal etc ], any original form of printmaking, watercolours and acrylics with evidence of additional drawing [ but NOT pure watercolour, unglazed acrylics or oil paintings].

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Monday, September 04, 2006

The Society of Feline Artists - Annual Exhibition 4th - 23rd September


"Sitting Pretty" by Gayle Mason
coloured pencil on drafting film

I've been a bit busy recently with getting ready for exhibitions which include my work - here's the first. The Annual Exhibition of the Society of Feline Artists (S.O.F.A) at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery starts tomorrow and continues until 23rd September. It's always a super exhibition with a huge range in terms of cat breeds and styles and anybody who likes cats and cat art who can get to it should go - you won't be disappointed!

I've exhibited with SOFA before and even managed to get in the window of the gallery last time! I've posted the pieces I'm exhibiting this year at the end of this post.

This year my good friend Gayle Mason is also exhibiting - but this is her first time with SOFA. I've included one of the two pieces she's showing at the top of this post. Gayle focuses entirely on producing animal art. She's a very popular feline artist but didn't always draw cats. Here's what she has to say about her art and how it's developed over time.
I never consciously thought about being an artist. I was always a scientist throughout school and University although I do remember there being a lot of animals walking and running in the margins of my lecture notes.

My art started from my love of animals. I breed and show pedigree rough collies. One day I decided to have a go at drawing one of them and I've not looked back since - for the past five years I’ve never really stopped drawing and painting. My own collies still find their way onto much of my artwork by fair means or foul and I tell their stories on my blog
'Fur in the Paint'. Now I don’t think I will ever put the pencil or the dog brush down as I'm completely hooked on art - the fur in the paint is here to stay.

I’m completely self taught but have received endless amounts of help and encouragement from cyber friends on various art forums. I am certainly not a purist in any particular medium; I like to mix them to get the effect I want. However all my art has one thing in common, it is based around animals and falls into two distinct strands. I started with the ‘up close and personal’ headshots of cats and dogs. I now also do larger works featuring animals within a background context, showing a moment in their life or some aspect of their relationship with each other. I'm currently working a lot more on wild animals and have just exhibited in the 8th annual exhibition of the largest wildlife art society in Europe - MIWAS.

I get a great deal of pleasure seeing an animal come to life under my pencil or brush. I always start with the eyes as I truly believe them to be the window to the soul, and if they do not sparkle with life I do not carry on with the picture. I must be doing something right because my prints have proved to be popular.

I usually use coloured pencil with touches of acrylic, pastel or graphite. The graphite is more for my own pleasure as colour proves to be more popular with my clients. I have recently discovered the pleasure of working with coloured pencil on drafting film; it is perfect for my way of working. I like to indicate every detail and this is possible with the ultra smooth surface.

In terms of selling, i
nitially I produced 'collie' art. This proved immensely popular and I now have collectors who wait for each new collie print. Each year, I donate a collie print to the charity Collie Rescue for raffle at Crufts and this raises large sums of money. I have also done commissions in the past but now tend to limit these. Latterly I've also been doing fewer dogs and more cats and wild animals.

My main focus recently has been on selling limited edition giclee prints through my print publisher and on e-bay. Many of these feature cats and the cat prints do extremely well. In fact, they're currently being used by the K2 gallery as publicity for their stand at this year's Autumn Fair at the NEC in Birmingham. At last year's Autumn Fair, one of my cat prints was their best selling print
- so I have my fingers crossed for this year.

I'm really pleased to have my work accepted into the SOFA exhibition, I feel this is a great honour.
Gayle's art work can be seen:

"Just a Little Bit Higher" and "Yin and Yang" by Katherine Tyrrell
coloured pencil drawings on drafting vellum

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

From ACEOs to powerseller

At the end of June I wrote about my friend Maggie in "Maggie Stiefvater - two of everything".

Following on from my posts over the weekend, I'm going to make a quick reference to one of Maggie's posts on her own blog yesterday "More power to you" in which she announces she's just become formally designated a powerseller on e-bay.

Just a quick recap for anybody who didn't read about Maggie in June. She started about a year ago selling ACEOs. Those are those tiny little cards which people like to collect. She has an amazing talent for these. It's not just the level of detail she manages to achieve but she also has an uncanny eye for quirky compositions which work terrifically well at this size (2.5" x 3.5" - think baseball/football cards).........and in no time at all she had collectors.

In March this year she gave up her part-time job and went full time as an artist. I should mention that at this stage she also had two children under the age of two to look after as a 'full-time' mum. Well she still has the children - it's just there a bit older! Will had his first birthday in June and now wants to help Mum type on the computer.

Soon after, she started selling larger sizes on e-bay and at horse shows and art fairs - focusing mainly on her equestrian art...........and generated yet more collectors. Then started producing bright acrylic paintings of streetscenes as well.............and acquired yet another set of collectors.

She's now sold over 100 pieces of art, is generating a very respectable income and enjoys the total respect and support of her No 1 fan - her husband Ed. She's completely businesslike, has got absolute belief in her ability to succeed, the drive and determination which only certain 24 year olds can have (beats where I was at at 24!) and unstoppable "stickability". As she said in the comment on my previous post - she kissed all those frogs!

Oh - and she forgot to mention that having generated all those sales she has now become a gallery represented artist - with a very respectable gallery in Virginia.

Not bad for a year. It shows it is possible to succeed and generate respectable income as an artists - if you are prepared to work hard at it. If you want to know what I mean by 'work hard' go read her post - it's very illuminating!

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The "stickability' factor

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!"
a very old adage - for a good reason

Yesterday, in my post "Will you be a success if you blog your paintings daily?" I suggested a number of factors which I think help artists to sell their work on-line - independently of 0n-line galleries or auction type websites.

Today, I want to emphasise one more factor - the "stickability" factor.

The reason for emphasising it is I think maybe too little attention has been paid to the fact that a lot of the people who are now enjoying success with sales associated with their daily painting blogs - or other art projects - didn't necessarily achieve success straight away. As is common in a number of walks of life, people's stories about how they achieved success tend to focus on what they did or what tools they used to become successful but skip the 'grind' that very often accompanies the use of those tools and which also preceded success. That 'grind' for artists is about hard work, practice and refinement. It's about 'doing' again and again and again until you get it right. Which means getting it wrong quite a lot of the time too.

So how do you get to cope with the 'grind' - I think it's about 'stickability'. What is 'stickability'? It's still slang (I think) but the various ways in which it is defined include
  • a positive mental attitude
  • staying power
  • perseverance
  • commitment
  • to stick with something until you perfect it
People who have 'stickability' are able to:
  • finish things they start
  • turn up every day
  • stick with a task in order to achieve success
  • suffer lots of failures before they achieve success
  • resist being discouraged when they don't get instant results
  • continue with the task despite failures / the lack of positive results
  • follow through and complete a task - even if it takes a long time
  • do what it takes to get to where they want to be
  • etc, etc
It's the reverse of "quitter's disease" - people who expect to get what they want right away and give up if they don't get it or it's hard to achieve quickly. Like giving up painting watercolours or oils because it's difficult and they can't paint like a master at the end of a two week painting holiday or draw perfectly after one class or workshop.

Personally, when I need to prod my own personal 'stickability' ingredient into action, I always try and remember an amusing metaphor I once read. A girl believed that she had to kiss 100 frogs before she would meet her prince. Her attitude was that every frog kissed was an achievement as it was one step nearer her quest. I find it makes it a lot easier to stick with a task if I remember that a failure is always just one more step on the path to learning how to be successful at what I'm trying to do.

You might not be a quitter - but do you have 'stickability'?

And can you be a successful artist without 'stickability'?

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[Tags and Link updated 27 October]

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Will you be a success if you blog your paintings daily?

Yet more coverage yesterday for blogs which feature "a painting a day". This is the link to the New York Times article "Everyday scenes painted every day" in the New York Times on 31st August.

This time the reporter from the New York Times is asking
Will the painting-a-day frenzy last? Or is it merely the fleeting symptom of a new Internet trend?
I think it's possibly more likely that this reporter needed to find a new 'line' given the amount of exposure 'painting a day' blogs and associated marketing has been getting recently in various media. For what it's worth, here's my take on it.

Although it's entirely possible that the 'daily painting' thing is the latest e-bay type fad which has transferred off e-bay into the hands of individual artists, we should perhaps look at the bigger picture.

More and more artists are finding a way to market their work independently of organised institutions (eg traditional gallery; on-line art gallery). Some artists seem to be doing very well while others languish. However, the good news is that there's no need to go down the 'daily painting' route to do this.

Here are some of the things that I know or notice about people who seem to do well:
  • they produce good quality and original work
  • they have a business-like approach to their art business
  • they present their artwork well - using good quality images and good design
  • they have a consistent style - making their work very collectable
  • they use an appropriate medium and channel to allow people to buy at least some of their work at reasonable prices (some sell small works; some sell prints etc)
  • they post their work on a regular basis - on a blog/website/e-bay site
  • they communicate well - they explain what they're doing / say something about their work / say something about their life and how it relates to their art
  • they build up a personal relationship with their customers - many of whom go on to become repeat buyers
  • they make paying for a piece of art really easy
  • work is well-packaged and arrives promptly due to the use of a reliable service - and generates few, if any, complaints about this aspect of business
  • all complaints are attended to promptly and positively
  • selling direct means they (rather than a gallery) get the names and addresses of buyers which can potentially enable the marketing of other artwork through the development of a customer database.
It's good to see:
  • artists getting business-like and getting their art out there
  • artists being rewarded for their hard work at marketing their art as well as all the effort that goes into producing it.
It's less good to hear about (and the grapevine works very fast):
  • sloppy and/or poor quality paintings being marketed
  • artists who are unbusinesslike and/or provide poor service to their customers
Bottom-line generating good sales both now and in the future means producing good quality work on a consistent basis, having good quality relationships with buyers and demonstrable and consistent performance on deliveries. Good art without being businesslike does not work. Being businesslike and producing sloppy or second rate art on an ad hoc basis does not work in the long run. In other words, competent artists who get serious about their marketing can start earning serious income from their art irrespective of coverage by the New York Times or sales from 'bricks and mortar' galleries.

We should respect people who generate art business and sales largely from their own efforts. The easier it is for people to buy good quality art, the more this will trickle through to the art economy as a whole. Those who have dipped their toes into the £100 painting art market will find it easier to move on to higher priced paintings. I hear many artists complaining that sales through galleries have been slow this year. Maybe the 'painting a day' people and other successful on-line artists will eventually help 'bricks and mortar' galleries get back on their feet?

Whatever the future holds for the "a painting a day" blogs, congratulations to all those who were featured by in the New York Times article:
  • Nick Janischigg - http://www.nickjainschigg.org (I loved the animation and sounds before I even got to Nick's paintings - and it was really nice to see a bit more text alonsgide the paintings)
  • Randal Plowman - http://acollageaday.blogspot.com (very refreshing to see a new slant on the artwork a day - this time using collage)
  • Jan Blencowe - http://paintingadayproject.blogspot.com (Jan has a number of other blogs and her work can also be seen regularly in the Artwork from Life and Plein Air Forums of www.wetcanvas.com)
  • Elin Pendleton - http://www.dailypaintings.com (Elin's images are not showing up at present - maybe a case of bandwidth being exceeded by interest in her site! You can also see her work at website - seee below for link)
It's interesting to note that these are all artists who do a lot more than just 'a painting a day' type of blog - all have serious websites too (see links at the bottom of this page).

And if you'd like to see some more of these type of blogs, I note Jeff Hayes has been thinking hard about marketing and has come up with a neat marketing twist. His Squidoo lens "A Painting a Day" lists a number of different artists who are producing daily paintings - as well as featuring his own daily effort!

Links:
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Friday, September 01, 2006

My Squidoo lens made the top 100!

This post is my blogging equivalent of getting out a small horn and giving it a small toot - as I'm celebrating one of my Squidoo lens making the top 100 lens on Squidoo.

Coloured Pencils - Resources for Artists is now no. 79 in the top 100 of all Squidoo lens as of today and has had a steadily climbing number of visitors for a little while now.

If you're contemplating making a Squidoo lens (and they're great for keeping all your bookmarks well organised - particularly those which will also be of interest to others) don't even think about starting until you've downloaded the Squidoo widget from Mozilla Firefox. Adding a bookmark becomes so easy when you've got that - so long as you're logged into Squidoo.

My suite of lens which are resources for artists with similar interests to me are growing all the time as I add new links. My other Squidoo lens are:
You can also check out the top 100 squidoo lens tagged 'arts' which now contains all of my published lens. They haven't yet got a Sqidoo category for "Art and Design" or "Art and Illustration" so that you might want to skip a few of these! ;)

Having just had a big 7-10 days of framing stuff to deal with (of which more anon) I think my next one might just be about framing!

Links:
Squidoo was introduced by Seth Godin who's a well known 'man about blogging' and internet communication. You can read about the progress of squidoo on the Squidblog.

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