Just a quick recap of the past week:

This past Saturday was the opening of my show at The Bowlus Fine Arts Center. A collection of oil painted portraits on stretched canvas.

Exhibit At The Bowlus Fine Arts Center

Panoramic View – Exhibit At The Bowlus Fine Arts Center

I can not say enough good about the staff at The Bowlus! The day we were to hang the show my back was out, and I was walking like a bent-over-little-old lady. It reminded me of a “Evolution of Man” chart.  The more vertical throughout the day, the straighter and more upright I became. But the employees were all extremely helpful, positive and dependable.

Oil Painting Portrait Exhibit

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We had a decent turnout and other than my social awkwardness things went smooth.  Note: I am much more comfortable in front of an easel than I am in front of a crowd.

Tip: I forgot to designate someone to take photos that evening. I wish I had! Hubby and I were so caught up in everything we both overlooked it. So if you can find a trusted friend to take some candid shots during a reception it is a good idea.

For a long while now I have thought, “If I can just get this show together it will be smooth sailing for a bit”. HA! Was that ever a chance for God to laugh at my plans.

The very next morning (Sunday) my Dad was admitted to the hospital, in ICU sixty miles away. By the time I got there, an hour later, he was sitting in bed joking around with nurses. By Tuesday he was released and going for his daily walk at the local Wal-Mart. (SMH) Thankful, but NEVER boring around here for long!

What is next? I want to finish up a couple of pieces that I wish I had had completed for the show. Try to take things up a notch as far as size and skill.  The immediate time pressure is off on these two so it will be interesting to see if they come out as I envision.

Still obsessed with knitting, and now that it is getting cooler it is calling me louder. I am sure lace will not add much warmth in a Kansas Winter, but that is what I am hooked on of late. It helps me clear my head. This is particularly true of knitting shawls. They are large enough to hold my interest between painting, but small enough to carry with me.

Also, if there are any writer’s reading this I am sure you are aware that as of today it is National Novel Writing Month! If you are not familiar with NANOWRIMO, it is a non-profit program that encourages people to write fifty-thousand words during the month of November. I have participated in the past, and want to this year. But my want, and hours available are not cooperating. I have not openly committed to participating yet this year.  Then again, November isn’t over yet either.

Last but not least, in a little over a week I have vacation time from my day-job in a public library. Nine days in a semi-open time frame to paint, knit and write! Aside from a day trip to Wichita and perhaps KC, I plan on being in full hermit mode the entire time. Ahhhh bliss!

Today was spent boxing up all the work that is ready for a show that will be hung Monday. I also updated inventory lists and made sure marketing materials are up to date.  There are still three paintings I could not pack up as they are still drying in some fashion. But they will be ready to go and walk out the door by Monday.

Below are two items that will be included.

16X20" Oil on canvas

16X20″ Oil on canvas

9X12" oil on canvas

9X12″ oil on canvas

So the big question now, what is next?

  • Well hopefully I will have some sales (or LOTS!) at the exhibit, perhaps line up some more commission pieces?
  • Then to line up more exhibits over the next year. There are some small galleries in the area I have not shone in for years so perhaps at least one will be on the agenda.
  • I now have ties in Wichita so I need to look that direction for possible opportunities. I keep thinking KC also, but Wichita is calling me.
  • I also need to have reproductions made: Something else I have not looked into for years.
  • Finish writing that book, the one that I now have a multitude of notes on from research!

But for now, I need to get this studio back into shape. Every surface in here is covered with books, photos, notes and painting supplies. Then I want to just sit down and knit for a few days, without interruption. To clear my head and further challenge the analytical part of my brain…..while eating chocolate. Who knows maybe I will design a thing or two while I am at it. :0)

In a little over two weeks I need to hang a show.  So this means right now I am busy putting eye screws and wire on canvases for hanging, considering doing a few last minute pieces and wishing I had more time.

Stack of oil paintings on canvas

Stack of oil paintings on canvas

I have known I was doing the show for over a year now.  But as is often the case I think of things to do at the last minute!

How to stay motivated in the art studio

Recently I have noticed trouble maintaining my motivation to paint. I work a day job at a small rural community Public Library, where being motivated is rarely if ever an issue. I just do what I need to do and go home.  But at home in the studio it is more of a challenge.  it can be tough to stick to a working schedule when the reward is may not come for months, or even years.

For me I see myself as a marathon runner. At first it seems easy. as long as you put one foot in front of the other I will eventually arrive at my destination. but as you near the finish line the motion can be as if you are slogging through molasses.

I posted this quandary on my personal Facebook page. Here are some of the suggestions given to “…pulling yourself out of a funk and staying motivated”:

  1. Exercise
  2. Listen to Music
  3. Aromatherapy
  4. Use Incense
  5. Step away and try another art form
  6. Organize your studio
  7. Spend time with small children to gain perspective
  8. Give into the need for a break and relax
  9. Use Qigong
  10. Think positive thoughts
  11. Get out of the studio and get a change of scenery
  12. Meditate
  13. Wine or other alcoholic beverage
  14. Do research instead
  15. Stop trying to swim upstream, grab your camera and look for inspirational photos

Another activity that has been consuming my time of late, is knitting. Yea I know, what does knitting have to do with painting and fine art? Well I could elaborate on the fine art aspects of the craft but I will leave that for a future post.

If you are not familiar with the Knitting Guild Master Knitter program, you should go to The Knitting Guild Association website and read up. In a nutshell it is a three-level correspondence course that goes through the technical aspects of craft of knitting. Once you pay for the course you are required to do a slew of swatches and research to master the craft.

Misc. Knit Lace Swatches with Errors

Misc. Knit Lace Swatches with Errors

I myself am NOT signed up for the Master Knitter program. But when I first learned about it, I was able to poke around and find out the gist of what each level required. Since then, much of that information is not available online, so my lips are sealed! With a great deal of research and digging I came up with my own self-study program based on their guidelines.

So far I have completed a Level-One notebook and am in the middle of Level Two. I stopped working on it a year and a half ago, but I did dig out my notes and information the other day. I have also started a lace scarf I had planned on using as a gift. (Rethinking the gift idea after experiencing the learning curve of picking it back up)

TKGA Notebooks and Notes

Program Notebooks and Notes

So what is the reason for posting on this blog about knitting? I am questioning my past external and now internalized need to only focus on one or two areas of creativity. In fact we have a “Knitting Socks for the Absolute Beginner” ebook here at Artist-How-To Publications it is  also available at Amazon.com.

In the back of my mind I am considering rewriting or perhaps creating an entirely new publication involving knitting. Sometimes temporarily shifting to another activity helps to feed my creativity.

Over the past few weeks I have been re-releasing tutorials from the old site. A few of them include:

I also have been painting, and adding new work to the collection for an upcoming exhibit at the Bowlus Fine Art Center! The show is due to go up October 20th, giving me just over five more weeks. This is very doable! Wish me luck <3

Portrait OIl on Canvas

9X12″ NFS

Portrait OIl on Canvas

9X12″ NFS

Surface Preparation of Canvas

Canvas is available in two forms, gessoed or pre-sized and ungessoed. Pre-sized, usually with gesso (acrylic medium combined with white pigment – very opaque, flexible and non-yellowing) and coated with a layer of white acrylic paint. The second is unsized, or ungessoed, canvas ready for surface preparation. Either you choose is available in many widths and textures. Many artists buy the sized and coated canvas (pre-stretched or by the roll), but then put on additional layers to further seal the fabric weave. Unsized canvas should be primed in all painting applications except acrylic staining, in which the canvas is purposefully left open and absorbent.

There are several techniques for surface preparation when dealing with canvas. If the canvas is already pre-primed with gesso and/or acrylic pigment, additional layers of gesso might be added to create a smoother and more even base upon which to paint. If you prefer an extra smooth finish, apply gesso over the pre-stretched canvas surface, making strokes in one direction. Allow it to dry thoroughly, and then apply a second coat in the opposing direction. If you use a soft brush, smoothing out obvious brush strokes as you apply the gesso, your finished product will be fairly smooth. But, if extra smoothness is desired, sand the surface lightly with light-grit sandpaper to remove any irregularities in the surface; then clean away dust with a soft cloth. If further smoothing is necessary, sand with sandpaper that is even finer.

Extra smooth finishes can be obtained by repeating the steps above. After the third or forth coat, begin to use finer and finer sandpaper, along with water, to polish the surface to a near glass-like finish. It can take up to eight coatings and sandings to achieve the extra-smooth finish loved by many fine detail artists who consider the effort well worth their time.

Raw canvas intended for use with oils should be sized with at least four coats of gesso. For use with acrylics in all techniques but staining, sizing (gesso, etc.) is also necessary. Application of the first layer could be done with a wide putty knife. The blade will smooth the gesso over the surface and work it into the weave of the fabric. Attempt to apply the gesso smoothly with the blade, avoiding ridges and oozes. After this coat dries, sand it lightly with medium sandpaper and clean with a cloth to remove the dust. Repeat the application/sanding process for two additional layers. Clean any dust from the surface and it is ready.
Although there is added effort involved in the preparation of unsized canvas, it is available in weights heavier than pre-stretched/sized canvas. This is especially helpful when the works are large. Thicker canvas stretches tighter for a smoother, more professional presentation and will not relax over time.

A further advantage to sizing your own raw canvas or resurfacing a pre-sized canvas is that you can augment the texture on the surface. If you want to create an impasto look, you can apply gesso thickly and build a surface. With thick, visible texture, less paint yields a richly applied painterly surface. You can also press textures into a thick, wet layer of gesso for unique textures. Some tools that are used for this method of surface preparation include crushed kraft paper to yield a broken, uneven, crackle-type surface; knife blades to create ridges and lines; and sponges to create a uniform but not smooth surface. Adding material such as sand, small stones or gravel, grasses, small twigs and the like to a layer of gesso can create some wildly textured surfaces that are unique.

Consider how fortunate we are to be able to pop into any art supply center and purchase acrylic gesso. The old masters were forced to create their own canvas preparation material. The ordeal began by melting animal hide glue (an organic product that turns rancid easily) and then combining it with powdered white pigment. This concoction was cooked in a double boiler until melted and well blended and then applied to the surface while still hot. It could only be used on wood or other rigid backings, as any flexible surface like canvas would allow the brittle surface to crack or break and fall away.

Hide glue surfaces cannot endure any blows or hard treatment and must be handled carefully. Despite all of these challenges, modern painters have begun a renaissance of this surface treatment method. Technique purists and oil painters that are trying to reproduce the look of old works are especially fond of the surface–purists because it hearkens back to the period of the masters and historical painters because of the “easy to age” surface. Today, paintings can be created that have the look of centuries-old pieces.

So if you paint on canvas (or canvas boards or Masonite), there is a surfacing method that could add new dimension to your work. Perhaps you are ready to add thick textures in the surface preparation. Perhaps you want to paint on an extra smooth, slick surface where every brush mark can be blended to perfection. Or maybe you want to begin to work on a new grand scale and want to know how to surface your own canvas. With today’s materials, there is a preparation method exactly suited to your needs that makes it easier and faster than ever.

Have you considered writing up an official business plan for your art biz? Below is an outline of a basic business plan to get you started.

  1. Cover sheet – Tell the reader the name of business and what is the plan for?
  2. Statement of purpose / Executive Summary – You will write this last as it says what all the reader is looking at in a brief summary
  3. Table of contents

                I. The Business

A. Description of business – Tell reader about your art and the history of your business

B. Marketing – Who will be purchasing your items & how will you let others now of your work? Will you do t-shirts? Have a webpage? Brochures etc… Target customer demographic information

 C. Competition –  Who are they and what do they offer that you can/can not do better then they are currently offering?

D. Operating procedures – How will the work be done? Will you be a sole proprietor? Or other?

E. Personnel – Who will do the work? Job Descriptions

F. Business insurance –  How will all business expenses be covered in an emergency that would be covered by insurance?

II. Financial Data

A. Loan applications – Any that you have applied for, or wish to apply for

                      B. Capital equipment and supply list – Inventory of all materials

C. Balance sheet – How much money do you have available? How much money do you owe? Regularly pay out?

D. Breakeven analysis – How much do you need to sell, what you need to pay out in order to break even?

        E. Income projections (profit & loss statements)

Three-year summary
Financial Goals for 3 years from now
Detail by month, first year
Financial Goal for each month for the next year from now
Detail by quarters, second and third years
Financial goals for each quarter
Assumptions upon which projections were based
Back up your goals and expectations with facts

F. Cash flow – How will you be sure that there will be enough money to cover all expenses? Will you keep your day job?

           III. Supporting Documents

A. Tax returns for last three years – If you are a sole proprietor have your last three years taxes on file. If not a SP, then taxes of all principal personnel responsible for the financial aspects of the business.

B. Copy of proposed lease or purchase agreement for building space – If you have a separate space to create, other then in home, copy of the lease or mortgage for space. If is in the home, copies of rent, mortgage receipts

C. Copy of utility bills

D. Copy of licenses and other legal documents

E. State Business License

F. Property tax information

G. Copy of resumes of all principal parties. If sole proprietors have your own resume on file

H. Copies of letters of intent from suppliers, etc

I. Who will send you supplies?

Art Business ChecklistBusiness Plan Checklist

  • Write up a mission statement so you know where you want to go. it does not have to be formal, be creative!
  • Describe as much as you can about what you will be providing your customers.
  • Keep good records of all aspects of your business.
  • Review the plan regularly and make necessary changes.
  • A three ring binder works well to keep all your papers in one spot, or one for each area of your business.
  • Keep extra copies of important pertinent information in a safe place, like a security box or in a location separate from business in case of fire etc… (business licenses, tax returns and other necessary papers).
  • Keep important days of when payments or projects are due listed on a business calendar to keep you on track.
  • To-Do lists that are prioritized are a good thing to make every day to help keep you on task.
  • Keep an ongoing list of specific information you need to look at closer.
  • Go back through previous notes and schedules from time to time to see if there was anything you could have done differently or negative things you could prevent from happening again.
  • Put everything you can into writing in order to keep you focused and clear minded. Take the necessary steps to make things happen.
  • Evaluate your day to day activities and to-do lists so you are always working toward your goal.
  • Remain positive about what you want to achieve

Business Communications Checklist

  • A separate phone line is nice but it may not be necessary for your particular business
  • Find the best phone plan you can, compare and shop around
  • Leave a professional out-going voice mail message on your phone.
  • A cordless phone/cell can be an asset when working at home, enabling you to not be confined to one area when on the phone.
  • Consider purchasing a fax machine for your business, especially if you find yourself using one outside of the home on a regular basis.
  • Purchase surge protectors for all of your electronic equipment.
  • If you are not already, get online as soon as possible! Consider it a priority. Email alone will make it worth it, not taking into consideration all the other aspects that the internet holds.

Profit Checklist

  • Realize that the only thing you can count on with the art business is that you never know what will happen next.
  • Educate yourself about all areas concerning your business
  • Use new technology for the good of your business
  • Bring in new products on a regular basis
  • Look at how you price items and make necessary adjustments
  • Always be on the lookout for new markets for the products and services of your business
  • Be aware of time management, make necessary adjustments
  • Set up a work schedule for yourself that YOU are comfortable with.
  • Take regular breaks
  • Work smarter, not necessarily harder
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