My new schedule at Michaels was a good success. I am so happy I decided to make this new schedule. It is so much more efficient. Yes, it is tiring to do two days of back to back classes, but my students seem to like it and it is very efficient. Michaels has a beautiful classroom and i is very comfortable with great lighting and nice tables. I can seat up to 21 people in the Michaels classroom but it is ideal for 12.
Classes and Workshops
I used to have huge numbers, the first year I was there, but I have learned that familiarity breeds indifference. I don’t teach the way other store teachers do. My students have to work hard, and I challenge them with serious painting study. Most hobbyists want to just make something that looks like a finished painting with big flat shapes that anyone can do. Many come in for a class and then not return to me because they have to struggle with the techniques and paintings we do. They are never easy, certainly not for me either. Many have drifted out to the paint and sip parties where they can drink wine and gossip together while doing minimal quality paintings. They are there for social gathering, not real painting instruction.
I don’t really mind losing them. I am there to teach serious painting technique. I am truly concerned about my students and want them to grow. My core students have been with me for a long time and I have seen them become fine painters in their own right. It is thrilling for me. They all suffer the same frustrations that I do as a painter. Why am I not a perfect master of painting? I think most honest painters feel that frustration.
I have fewer Michaels students now but we all enjoy our time together and this new schedule allows those from out of town to come and do all of the classes in two days or two classes in the same day. A big advantage.
Now it’s time to get back in my own studio. More to come…..
New Arrangement Notes
I got my new arrangement done for my oil painting station in the main room. I relocated Bubba, my canary, to the supply room. He has his own table for his cage and seems to like it fine. I am pleased with the new arrangement. I have a good view of my still life set up with the light box and my students still have their space, so now I can do both acrylics and oils in the main room. The light is also better in that room, a big improvement.
I got three paintings back today that had hung in an office for some years. I was surprised and pleased to see them looking good and undamaged. They will go back to galleries to sell after my Chili studio party in February. Occasionally I lend paintings to politicians to hang during their term. It is a great way to get publicity for my work in Tallahassee and sometimes the politicians end up purchasing the paintings at the end of their term. I am a very prolific painter and so I always have extra paintings that I don’t necessarily have on the market to sell. The key to marketing well is to pull paintings off the market for periods of time and then reintroduce them a few years later. Loaning them in government offices saves me the trouble of storing them for the term of 4 to 8 years. After a couple of years in galleries, I pull them out to store and rotate back in at some point.
My 2017 teaching schedule starts tomorrow at Michaels with the new Friday and Saturday schedule. This is going to be so much better for me. I’ll be out of that neighborhood by 3:30 PM. The traffic out there has become so bad that by the time I arrived, I was in a rage and had to calm down before my students arrived. Now it will be smooth and easy. Depending on what happens this year, I may take 2018 off from teaching. I’m not sure yet. I seem to be constantly out of time.
Glazing with Oils Notes
I used to experiment a lot in glazing with oils a few years ago, and got out of the habit for some reason. I’m happy that my new oils study group will be learning about glazing for our beginning study. It gives me a reason to go back to it and have some more fun. I have assigned everyone to complete an underpainting in advance so it will be dry enough to glaze over. Some years ago I bought a set of transparent oils and I need to dig through the mountains of paint in my supply room and get them together tomorrow. I haven’t gotten to the paint yet to reorganize, but that task will be tomorrow, with a day in my country studio. I am constantly torn between wanting more country studio time, but knowing that I must spend a couple of days at my retail studio to sell paintings. It is the old dilemma that all painters face. Work or sell? We must do both to survive. In fact it is about a 50-50% time investment for me.
I have to relocate my oil painting station to the main room of my studio. I have been painting in the supply room, but now I will need to paint with my students. I’ve not quite figured out the logistics yet. Tomorrow I must move some things around and see how it works in the main studio. I think I will need to get my frame closet organized after the paints. It is time to have another frame sale for sure. First I’ve got to figure out what I have and what needs to go. Then I’ll get them all stacked up and do a sale. I sell them for 5 and 10 dollars so that they will go fast. I have the bad habit of opening the closet door and piling them in, helter-skelter. After a few months they are hopelessly scattered and I can’t even get into the closet.
After a long career, I have discovered that there are not enough hours in the day to keep up with my life. It’s time to let go of some things. It is time to think carefully about what marketing actually works and what is wasted, valuable time. This is not a quick plan, it should be considered carefully. I like to make a list of what I am doing and consider the pros and cons. There is a fair amount of giveaway involved in some marketing ideas, but I still consider them to be a success for the interest they generate. I have discovered that success can’t be dependent on direct sales. There are other intangible benefits. For example, my post card mail outs and studio parties might only result in a 5 % tangible benefit in numbers of attendees and sales, but the fact is that the 3 hundred post cards I mailed out results in 300 images of my work in front of people who will see my name again. Marketing is good when it gives people a reminder that you are still in the business of making art.
More to come…
Lists Work Notes
I got back to my every Sunday to do list this week. I used to do it diligently and fell out of the habit a couple of years ago. I always put 10 items on my weekly lists, figuring that is about as realistic about progress as I will accomplish. I have completed 7 out of the 10 tasks and it is only Tuesday, so I really recommend this strategy. Lists work! I believe my to do list holds me accountable for accomplishing much needed activities for my career as a painter. If I need to do family or non art obligations, I use a separate list for those. Whatever I don’t finish by Sunday, I put at the top of next week’s list. I’m so glad to get back into this excellent habit.
I’m working on a second deer painting and just have some touch up and a few tweaks after it dries for a day or two to finish it. I will do a few 8×10 inch studies too to round out my learning process. I have enjoyed the two paintings. I discovered something that I was unaware of until these two paintings. I have trouble doing the best landscape work when I focus on animal objects for the subject. I ha trouble with the trees and woods with both of the paintings. I’m not sure why but it is probably because I feel less sure about a subject I don’t know well. I felt myself constantly trying to fit the scene around the deer, especially in this latest one. I always feel a need to integrate all of the parts of a painting and I struggled to make the deer the subject but to fit them in naturally as they should be. These paintings were hard but important to struggle with. I’ve painted cattle for years without that problem, so I can only assume that the newness of my subject created the difficulty.
Cleaning and Sorting Notes
I’ve been on a cleaning and sorting quest for some weeks now in my Country Studio. I have to keep my town studio straightened up all the time, but my Country Studio is frequently a wreck. I am forever running out of space, since i teach three classes there a month. I have to keep the studio clean three days a month.
I’m making progress in my supply room. I’m about half way through in there. In another month, I should be through with that room. I try to spend about an hour at a time cleaning and sorting. The rest of the time I am painting or teaching. It would help if I cleaned up more than every five years. 🙁 I am such a procrastinator. I found a lot of things I can be using, 2 packs of brand new colored pencils, about a million clear sleeves that I put cards and miniatures in, shampoo? and other useful objects. I also threw away a plentiful amount of useless junk. One hour at a time to clean and get my studio ready for my next Chili Party in February.
I started my next Deer painting today, 12×16 in oils. I am having fun learning about painting the deer that roam on Deer Woods Trail. I will do two or three paintings and wait to see if there is any interest in that subject. I find them wonderful subjects. They are tall and graceful. I hope the paintings are sellers as I would like to continue studying them for awhile. I’ve always enjoyed painting cattle and dogs. Now I can add deer to my list of fun animals.
I am gong to build a still life box this afternoon. My oil painting group students will be practicing on still life subjects for awhile. I like to use a two sided box with a clamp on lamp for still life paintings. I take a box and cut off two sides, leaving two sides that are adjacent to each other. I will add a taller piece of cardboard to the two remaining sides to raise the sides.
I use brown craft paper to line the box and use a clamp light on one edge. It works great for still life and for tall objects too. You can add a drape if you wish.
2016 was so out of control that I want a more peaceful organized year this time. I am gradually getting control of my messy studio. Now I must get back to my good old habit of making a to do list each Sunday for the following week. That went out the window in 2016 I’m ashamed to say. I think the crazy politics affected my focus last year, so I am determined to be better organized this year. I lost my assistant last year and I think that led to part of my chaotic year. I took on several exhibits around Florida and had to deliver and pick up myself as well as running two studios and teaching. I pick up the last of the exhibits on Tuesday and I am not going to add that into my schedule for 2017. They are rarely useful except for publicity. I have a retail studio where people can visit, 3 or 4 galleries, and my country studio, so it is a bit silly for me to haul my work around to exhibits.
I am beginning to sort through the mountain of tax receipts and little pieces of paper thrown in a box all year, and would love to finish my taxes in January. I like to get that off my back during a slow month. My other project is to rearrange my office space. I have so much going on, so many projects on my desks that I really need to expand. I want a table for my art pins and miniatures, one for shipping, one for computer and printer, and one for supplies. How can one old lady artist have so much going on? Many of my artists friends have basically retired, but I never will. What would I do with myself? I think working all the time keeps me well. My mind is busy and my body is busy too. That can’t be a bad thing.
I think I will also spend more time listening to gallery dealers, getting feedback for collectors and others on what they actually love about art. I try to anticipate the market to come and to pay attention to what is on people’s minds. Are they downsizing? upsizing? What is my major age group of collectors? What is the price point that will sell? All of that is vitally important to my success. Ignore collectors at your own peril. Many artists don’t understand that collectors can start very small. My 10.00 miniature paintings often lead up to the next price point. Beginning collectors feel secure in purchasing low end work and then as we get to be friends, higher price points happen. The important thing is to be sincerely grateful to everyone who supports you, whether at 10.00 or 6,000.00. They all count.
More to come.
Deer Fun Notes
I’m having some deer fun both on Deer Woods Trail and in my studio. One of my gallery dealers requested some paintings of orange groves and deer, so I’m learning how to paint the deer that I see almost every day on the trail. I have started with a 12×16 inch oil painting. I got the block in stage done before I got too busy again to continue.
Yesterday I got out to the new Sweetwater nature preserve that drains and filters water from Paynes Prairie. I don’t know much about the science behind it, but I sure do love the park. It is owned by the county and they did a swell job on it. It is quite large with multiple boardwalks and trails around the outer rim. I love the winter color, and there were many wild birds settled in for winter. I saw ducks, ibis, coots, herons and a large alligator, sunning himself on a bank. My daughter took some nice photos for me, so I will get some paintings done of the park.
My teaching gigs start up again next month, so I’ll be busy with two days at Michaels, 2 days with study group and one day a month with my new oil painting group. Basically I teach 5 days a month and one day a week online. That doesn’t sound like much, but the research and preparation takes up a fair amount of time. I take the responsibility seriously. I’ll have been teaching for 3 years again in August, so it may be time in January 2018 to take a year off again. I like to take time off for a year or two between teaching, to focus on my own study and development. My friend Ron bugs me about teaching again and I finally give in and come back to it for a time. The break restores me and gives me time to miss teaching and my students.
I’m continuing my Paul Kalb paintings, one or two a week. I have ordered frames and will hang them as a separate roup at my Paddiwhack studio in January. To me, abstract landscape painting is like doing a block in. It is the same construction as my normal painting routine, but I simply stop before any real detail is done. There is great value in this process, forcing me to focus on the basic construction of the landscape rather than falling in love with the look of a finished painting. The bones, skeletal image must work as it is without the skin on top. As I tell my students, every stage of a painting must look like a painting, not just the pretty end.
More fun to come.
Coming Up Notes
Coming up is a busy year ahead. I am looking forward to a year without election chaos. I refuse to be depressed about our fate. We have survived many bad political times, and will again.
I’m looking forward to a new Blondheim Oil Study Group. I had a couple of requests for an oils only group, and a request for some marketing techniques, so I will combine both in this new group. I have a roster of four and can accommodate up to 12, so this will be fun. This group will be one day a month, usually the Friday after my Michaels classes, so the second Friday each month.
Yesterday my study group practiced progressive, timed paintings, one of my favorite lessons. Out first painting was for 15 minutes, the second for 30 minutes, the last painting on canvas was one hour. It was great. I didn’t finish my last painting in an hour, so I went back later to finish it, taking a total of 1.5 hours.
The hardest thing to understand for beginning Painters is that small studies and exercises are vitally important to build skills. Many Painters think that doing a painting from start to finish will teach them what they must know to paint well. I believe that specific studies and exercises will build skills faster. I practice what I preach. Everything I ask them to do, I have done myself countless times.
I’ve been making art pins and miniatures to fill the bins at my Paddiwhack Studio. Now I’ve got to get back to some serious painting. I want to do a couple of orange grove paintings and a couple of paintings of the deer on Deer Woods Trail. One of my galleries likes to see that subject.
More coming up!
Neutrals and Color Notes
Neutrals are on my mind for 2017. I have been getting more interested in a more neutral palette for some time. Greens are a particular area of interest for this goal. I love color too, but looking at older paintings I’ve done, I realize that there is more saturation in them than I am comfortable with now. Over the last three or four years, I’ve begun to experiment with more grays and neutrals, combined with saturation. I always pick a theme of study for myself each year and this seems like a good year coming up, for some different palettes based on the combination of neutrals and saturation as an accent, not a prominent feature. These year long studies of painting aspects are so valuable for me. Some last longer and some are finished after a few months. Some are repeated after a few years to refresh the skills I learn. I’ve done this for about 20 years. They really improve my skills.
Now that Christmas is over, I’m working on my art pins, miniatures, and will start a new oil painting, 16×20 and a Paul Kalb abstract in acrylics today. I also continue with the studio clean up. I ordered new supplies over the week before Christmas, so they are all coming in now. I have boxes to empty, and students coming tomorrow for the study group.
I wonder why people think that artists have all the time in the world to just sit around and paint. What a laugh. Professional artists work all the time. We have to know marketing, business, studio management, nurturing to our collectors and be excellent painters to survive in the art world.
I’ve set some plans in motion for small, low end paintings for marketing in 2017, at least until I suss out the economy under a different administration and congress. It looks to me that folks are going to be cautious about spending their disposable income. I am going to be painting more miniatures, making some art pins and puzzles, and framing up the Paul Kalb Abstract paintings and hanging them on their own wall at my retail studio. They will be at a lower price point than the Blondheim paintings. That’s not to say that my paintings aren’t going to sell. I Sold pretty well in December, but I like to cover all my options in advance.
I get back to my regular studio hours right after Christmas Day and I have missed it greatly. I’m going to consider taking January 2018 off from teaching and traveling. It’s too late for 2017 but I will do that in 2018. I am tired from all of the December effort and wish I had been smart enough to do that this time.
I’ll be back out on Deer Woods Trail with Henry and with my paint box in January. I have missed it for the last several weeks. I am a person of routine and that is my happy place. Monday I’ll get back to my cleaning out the studio project and start a new oil painting. I can’t wait and my canary Bubba has missed my company as well as Murphy the gold fish. Henry has been pouting for about two weeks too.
As I sigh with relief tonight after the gallery closes, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I am so grateful to all those who make my career possible. Thank you so much!