Category: Business of Art

Week In The Studio 01/17/2013

So, what has happened in the last week?  A small local exhibit of paintings began with a reception on the 12th. It will run until mid Feb. See pics/post of reception here.

Current piece (commission) on the easel – Underpainting 9X12″

I have also managed to do some boring but necessary office work: New letterhead and decided upon a new basic bookkeeping system. Other than that the focus has been to adjust to a work schedule that allows me to get things accomplished, but also have my lazy time 🙂

10 Tax Deductions For Artists Working From Home

Ah, it is January 2013, time to start gathering all your tax information in preparation for filing. But, of course you were getting all this information together throughout the year so that you didn’t have to do it all at once, and to help ensure it is accurate! Cause artists are known for being super organized and harbor a deep love of doing all things paper-work related. (Cue sarcasm)

Below is a list of ten items that you should be aware of when going through those receipts in drawers and boxes you have stashed over the past year.

  1. Magazines – That’s right, any magazine that you purchase to read more about your chosen profession, or submit your art to is allowed.
  2. Entry Fees – Time to dig out the information you filed away back in March of 2012 to enter your work in that competition.
  3. Art Supplies – Must have to make art. Anything and everything required to make your chosen art is deductable.
  4. A portion of your rent/mortgage – You will find the necessary information on your Schedule C form, if you work out of your home and can take the Home Office Deduction.
  5. Internet – Percentage of cost you use for business. Related to the Home Office Deduction.
  6. Hardware – Computer Hardware that is. Did get a new Printer last year? A Camera?
  7. Maintenance – Upkeep of studio/office space, such as necessary floor covering, or wall paint.
  8. Office Supplies – Paper used in printer, ink, envelopes etc… that are a all part of business.
  9. Postage – Cost of postage for work sold, or for shipping to shows.
  10. Travel Cost – Did you need to make a run somewhere to participate in a business activity?

*Note- I am not a tax attorney, so be sure to contact a legal professional if necessary

Week In The Studio 1/10/2013

Getting the new year rolling along. Made new brochures, ordered more art supplies, touched up work for, and hung a small exhibit.


After touching up the edges of the oil pieces, they were left for a few days to dry before hanging. I had them all over my work area.


……more paintings with wet edges.


Hung a small show, in local gallery.

I sent a “heads up” email to everyone that mentioned on facebook they were interested in setting up commissions this year. If you are interested and we didn’t get an email sent to you, drop us a line!

Next week = Images of new paintings. 🙂

Pricing Art Work

Pricing ones own art work has always been a challenge.  I have tried different methods over the years with varying degrees of success. Below are ten things to keep in mind when deciding on pricing.

  1. Your sales history is important.  Do you already have a strong following and sales record at a certain price point?
  2. The market you are selling your work. If you are selling exclusively in a small town in Kansas your prices may be dictated by the local economy. But, if you are selling online you will have a different demographic to consider.
  3. Awards and/or achievements can also effect the price, particularly the more prestigious.
  4. How much you are needing/wanting to make is also a factor to consider. Do you want to make $1000 a month selling one or two pieces? Or do you need to do a number of smaller pieces for the bottom line?
  5. How much time will you be devoting to working in the studio and on sales?
  6. Overhead is important. What does it cost you to create your work in supplies, travel etc…
  7. What is the competition for similar work?
  8. Is there a strong demand for your work? Maybe it is time for a price increase?
  9. How long does it take you to create your work? Take into consideration research and the business side of things as well as time in front of the easel.
  10. Your financial goals are important. Do you want to be making $10,00o in sales this year? $50,000 in five?

For me I have found it is a balancing act, and needs to be constantly tweaked and adjusted to meet my needs. But, don’t tweak and adjust it on too much of a whim. Your customers need to know what to expect.


Painting in Oil Series – Part One – Materials

Note: This is the first in a six-part series on my oil painting studio practices, that will be published every other Monday.

Materials for painting can be as flexible as the artist, or as ridged. Below is an example of how I handle the task:


Containers for holding mineral spirits.  I prefer to use recycled jars.  I keep several in the working area to reuse again and again.  For those that do not know, if you allow mineral spirits to sit overnight the oil paint will settle into the bottom of the jar. You can then poor off the clean liquid and use it again. Of course you can purchase a much more sophisticated system, but this works for me. Plus I get to feel like I am being a little green in the process.


The paint brushes I use are rounds or filberts. I have purchased them from a number of companies over the years, now I just go to Utrecht.

supplies5I have used a variety of palettes over the years, wooden, glass, plastic, all different shapes and sizes. I now prefer to use a discarded salad/pie container. I use the clear lid to place my paints.  I then use the bottom as a lid and slip it into the freezer when not in use. Cooler temps keep the paint fresh.

supplies3As you can see from the current assortment of paint tubes on my table, I am not a purist when it comes to brand. Right now I am wanting to use up what I have. Maybe in the future I will be more brand loyal?

supplies2I don’t use a medium very often, if I do it is straight Linseed Oil. But, depending upon the effect and drying time there are a number of options. FYI Poppy Oil will extend the drying time, allowing you more open wet-in-wet time.

studio1An easel is always handy.  Again it depends upon your needs, but I prefer a french-style easel. I can keep the legs up, as I have here, and use it on a table top, or use with legs extended. The built in drawer of course is handy for storing and carrying supplies.

Lighting is of the utmost importance. North light is traditionally considered the best. But with the amazing full spectrum lights now on the market it possible to work just about anywhere. If you are like me and live in a rural area with few options, the internet is a wonderful thing!

I use a number of re-purposed t-shirts for rags in my studio area. I cut them into pieces about 8″ square and keep them near my work area at all times.

If I am working from photographs they are taped to the easel for easy access. If painting from life, it is placed to the right, away from the easel.

Note: I also use a small hand head mirror to check for accuracy. The fresh perspective it gives is wonderful!

So there you have it! 🙂


New Year, New Challenges

I have waited for a while now to say these words, “I am now accepting commissions!” For more information go to information on lining up a painting commission.

So what other interesting things will this year bring?

  • For starters, I will present a series of posts on oil painting. The method that I use, and that I find now works for me. These will be posting those every other Monday, beginning on Jan 7th.
  • There will be a weekly post showing current projects and challenges faced in my studio. The first will be Jan 10th.
  • Ever other Sunday will be a sale or special of some sort associated with Artist-How-To/Barton Studio. Starting on Jan 13th.
  • Each month there will be an interview with an artist. This is tentatively scheduled to post Jan 20th. So if you know of someone YOU would like to see interviewed, let us know.
  • Giveaways and contests of course!
  • This blog and website are all new, and will continue to change and grow as we do. So be sure to look around and let us know what you think.
A corner work area.
A corner work area.
A side area with designated piles.
Painting spot ready to go!
You're probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!
You’re probably wondering why I chose to include this shot? I am considering doing some quick still life studies and my silver items were in dire need of cleaning. What can I say? I love shiny things!


Tote bag perfection?

I have been searching for the perfect ‘work-bag’, for years. One that I can carry my netbook, notes and whatever bare necessities I need. I didn’t want to carry a briefcase – come on I wear jeans and t-shirts 99% of the time. I think I am too old for a back pack, at 49.

Well, I found it.

A moment of silence please….



For the record my oldest daughter thinks it is ugly. For me, it is perfect. Mama got bag baby!

About Me

I stopped painting for a number of years.  While I was taking a hiatus from painting I was working in polymer clay, mixed media and creating eBooks.

I have a Master’s Degree in Art, I chose to not teach. Instead I chose to have a part-time day job in an area Public Library. When I started there I said I would do it for one year… that was going on ten years ago.

For a few years now an area gallery has been talking of me having an exhibit. It finally dawned on me that I could paint portraits of my four grandchildren, have the show, and still have the paintings for posterity.

This eventually became me rebooting my painting career. To use the term “career” sounds a bit pretentious – but there ya have it. For the last seven months I have been painting again.  It seems natural to me to choose to focus on portraits and the human figure.

I have a small exhibit in January 2013 at “Works of Art Gallery” here in Humboldt, that I am preparing. They only need about six pieces which is not a problem. Another exhibit is lined up for September of 2013 at the Bowlus in Iola, KS.  At this point it gives me nine months. Would equating it to giving birth be too obvious?

Also as part of my re-boot I have completely overhauled the studio website along with our company site Artist-How-To where we offer various artists eBooks for sale. So please be sure to look around and feel free to leave comments and suggestions.