Lots to do

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Lots to do Notes

I have lots to do this time of year. I’ve been working at my Paddiwhack studio four days a week instead of two, which will continue through Christmas Eve.  It has been ok this year, not fabulous, but I have been selling in the 10.00-600.00 range.

 

In my spare time (ha ha) I have been working on my Paul Kalb abstract paintings. Using a pen name for those has really freed me up to do a separate body of work. I have done four abstract landscape and I am getting the hang of doing these now.  Painting abstract landscapes is like doing block ins in a way. Leaving out details and seeing basic shapes in landscape is fun. I am using limited palettes, and using the series as a way to study design. I don’t think I could ever be a true abstract painter, as I like to have something that the painting represents, and I love the landscape so much that I could never abandon it. This body of work is a bridge between the worlds of abstract and representation. if they begin to sell, I will do some larger pieces too and then begin to market to interior designers and contemporary galleries. That is a big IF! You never know. At this stage, they are all 8×10 inches on archival canvas panel.  It may take some time to sell them, but I’m ok with that. After the holidays I will be starting some of my Blondheim paintings again, with more time in the studio.

More musing about 2017:

I need to turn my attention to sales for 2017. Now that the election year is over it’s time to focus again. Marketing and selling are two different things. many artists don’t understand that being a great marketer doesn’t always translate to sales.  I have neglected my postal marketing in 2016. I need to be better about sending out painting post cards to collectors. yes, old fashioned but it is still the best bang for buck I believe. Everyone enjoys a pretty post card, and it reminds collectors that I am still here.

Facebook boosting is beginning to pay off with my Make an Offer Friday campaign each week. I also do longer term boosts periodically for my layaway and collectors club programs. I started a referral team and that has at least given me some referrals on FB.

I need to come up with some more ideas for the new year and implement the ones I’ve started repeatedly.

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Holiday Madness

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Holiday Notes

I’ve never been much of a holiday person. Holidays aren’t great for single people. They are made for families and couples. They are about love. I love my sisters, niece and nephews, my daughters and my grandson, but I don’t need a holiday for that. Holidays are about rushing around, no time for serious work in the studio, working long hours and then sighing with relief when it is all over. I wonder if others feel this way? Holidays make me realize that I am a true introvert, though my job as a painter requires me to be very sociable. I don’t like parties at all and cringe at every invitation. I am one of those who likes the edge of a social event. I hang around in a corner or just outside, to hear the fun but disengaged. My Dr feels that I am not social enough. Basically, I am happy in the woods or in my studio painting. It’s not that I don’t love people, I do! I just don’t need to interact very much. This time of year forces me to do that and it is uncomfortable. It will soon be over and life will resume its normal pace again. I’m very much looking forward to a new and exciting 2017.

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I’m still analyzing and working on my 2017 plan.
Supplies are on my mind:
I buy too many frames. I really love frames. Some years I behave pretty well. This year I did not! I have lots of frames I can reuse. I need to put a halt to buying so many frames. In fact, it is probably time to have a used frame sale for my students, to get rid of some I don’t like. I did a pretty good job on purchasing canvases this year. i bought almost all at sale prices and using my teaching discount, so I have no guilt there. I always have too much paint and too many brushes, but that is just the thing that seems to ebb and flow at will. I am obsessed about having good brushes. When they begin to wear, I put them in jars and buy new ones. My palettes change three or four times a year so I have a lot of paint. I like to experiment with palettes so I might use one for awhile and then not. Sometimes I come back to palettes and dig color out of one of the boxes of paint. I use paper palettes now, because I am lazy and hate cleaning palettes. They are not that expensive, so I don’t feel guilty about them. If I can control my frame buying. I’ll be ok next year.

Book Madness?

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Book Notes

I’ve got a lot of friends who want me to write a book, filled with stories about my career, my memes,musings about a long career, and of course, my paintings. Lord knows I could write a million books about my career if I had any talent for that, but I am ADD and I have trouble focusing on more than short writing projects. Blogging is ideal for me.

I have a collector who is willing to invest in the production of a book, but I simply don’t have the editing skill or attention span to put it together. So many painters have how to books out in the market that I don’t think a student book is what I have in mind. I think an artists realistic advice and stories about an art career is more in line with what I could accomplish.

There doesn’t seem to be very much money involved in being a small time writer these days. What with self publishing being the normal way to do books, I don’t see how I could make enough to pay back the investor and make money for myself. I would need a savvy editor to assemble the hundreds of blog posts, filed musings, newsletter stories and so forth, a monumental job.

I also wonder if there is a true desire for such a book? Are there really enough people out there who would want to own such a book? Is it the height of ego to assume that people would spend their hard earned money on such trivia?

It s a fun idea. I have done two or three small books over the years, the most popular being my tiny portfolio books that feature twenty paintings in a credit card sized book. It is something to think about.

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2017 Thinking

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2017 Notes

It’s time for me to think about 2017 and changes I might want to make. I sincerely hope the economy for artists takes an uptake after a dreadful election year.

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Marketing:

Facebook worked well for me this year and so I will continue to boost my Make an Offer Friday painting. The offers have been mixed, but it is really the PR for my business page that I am interested in.

My Collectors Club has grown very gradually and I hope it will continue to grow until it flourishes. I have about 10 members now, having started with just two for some months, so I feel it is a good tool.

My Referral Team is brand new, but I am getting responses, hoping it will pay off at some point with actual sales.

I have rejoined Daily Paintworks, just to add another place for people to find me. Sales there are occasional, but it is only 156.00 a year, and they have a large following. it allows me to have a nice gallery page and links to my web site.

Studio parties- I continue to have three studio parties an year, which are modestly successful. Again, the advanced PR is more valuable than the actual parties and the mail out is large.

I have been pinning my DPW paintings onto Pinterest. It is a nice visual platform but I’ve never had sales directly or indirectly related. I invest little time there. I have learned to choose one social network for most of my investment and that has paid off this year.

I still believe that direct mail is the best bang for buck. People still enjoy getting a pretty image in the mail. I continue to row my mailing list. I used to ask all people to sign up, but in the last three years, I have been careful to sign up people who actually purchase art, which has worked much better, and targeted my marketing very efficiently.

More 2017 notes to come.

 

Abstract Mood

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Abstract Notes

I’ve been in a kind of abstract skyscape mood this week. I’ve never cared much for true abstract work, non representational painting. I have to have something to recognize, even in a minimal way.  I’ve not had a lot of luck with abstract work sales either. I do like to make small abstract landscapes though. I think the small abstracts put me directly in to the design of painting, whether they sell or not. Sometimes we really need to paint for ourselves, regardless of sales.  I got two done this week and next week after teaching, I’ll have some time to play with them. I am thinking of using a pen name for them to separate them from my well known ,traditional work. Sort of a chance to be two different painters. I like the arcane nature of that plan. Old dogs can learn new tricks indeed.

 

I started pitching and sorting my studio at last. It will be a long slow process. I teach there twice a month, so I have to be able to clean it up for two days a month for my students. I started in my supply room today. I figure in about two months, I’ll have it done and will have more room and organization, just before the Chili Party. I have put this off long enough.

Rearranged

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Rearranged Notes

I got a nice surprise yesterday at my Paddiwhack studio. There was a large desk forced on me that finally got rearranged out of my area. My landlord is a person with no concept of boundaries. Love him to pieces, but it is a constant struggle between us. Anyhoo, moving the desk out gave me a couple of extra feet in my space and allowed me to rearrange my “visit Linda” chairs into the space where the desk was. Now I have a cleaner space, focused entirely on art. My friend Cathy, our store designer and I had put a tall rack in the little room of my studio some time ago, but it seemed to stop people from going into the room, so I removed it as well, yesterday. It is still far from an ideal retail space, but much improved. I am relieved. I’ll be extending my studio hours there for two weeks from the 12th-24th of December. it is starting to get a bit busier now and I need to sell any art that I can.

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I teach this week at Michaels. This is my last month with my current schedule. Next year will free up two days a month. I have rearranged my schedule for 2017, teaching two back to back classes on the first Friday and the first Saturday, so I will be still teaching four classes but in two days. This is going to improve my schedule a great deal and get me out of the horrible 5 PM traffic in that part of Gainesville. I will be out of the store by 3:30 PM, a vast improvement. Friday and Saturday seem to be good class days anyway. I have learned the hard way that trying to set classes for the convenience of students is a no win scenario. I added a class for two students who begged me to, and who promised to bring me many students that day. Within a month, they were no longer coming and never added students, so I was stuck with a class with one person coming. This has happened more than once, so now I schedule classes when I wish to teach. Students are notoriously unreliable. I could never depend of teaching for a living. I don’t know how full time teaching artists make a living. Your income is dependent on the whim of students who don’t have to come unless they wish to.

I’m working on a small commission of a bird this week. I’ve never painted birds much, so it is fun to step out of my comfort zone. I’m also working on a 20×24 painting of the prairie. I hope I can make it work. I don’t like it much in the early stage.

Spinning My Wheels

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Spinning Notes

I seem to be spinning my wheels, working harder and getting less done this year.  This has been a weird year to say the least. Lots of artists are feeling angst. Sales are down all over for artists and some have just stopped working. That will not happen to me. I paint,paint,paint, no matter what the world throws at me. As long as I can get out of the bed, I’ll be working. Unlike most artists I know, there is no back up system for me. I am the only bread winner in my world. If I don’t work, I don’t eat. Since I am pretty tubby, I’m working every day.

Painting is my full time job. I think many artists fail to realize that painting is a real job. If they aren’t in the mood, they don’t paint. If sales are down, they don’t paint. If they have busy family duties, they don’t paint. Many artists like the idea of being a painter, but they don’t want the reality of a full time job. They like to be called an artist, but don’t want to have to actually do the grinding business duties, or stand for hours in front of the easel. They don’t have to. They have an inheritance, a Dr, Lawyer, business, spouse who will pay the bills.

I think most artists have no idea what they are up against when they begin to have the dream of an art career. It can be brutally hard to make a living as a painter. One has to understand marketing, business, computer skills, social network skills, framing and materials ordering skills and be highly organized. Just like any other self employed business person, they must be incredibly disciplined, friendly to strangers, accommodating to high maintenance collectors, and able to travel in high priced society without looking like a fool, while at the same time living in a broken down trailer like I do. Many of them would be happier as a hobbyist painter, truth to tell. Professional artists have to compete with these painters who undercut pricing, because they don’t have to make money. It is just fun to be a painter.

It’s a hard life, but I love every minute of it!

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Racing along

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Racing Along Notes

I’m racing along through Fall. Floridians live with an endlessly long May-September, and then race through the cool beautiful months. I had a wonderful week in SA beach, and now Turkey Day is tomorrow. Next week I’ll get ready to teach again on December 7-10.

I got out to paint in the yard a couple of days ago. I got a satisfactory painting and I felt more at home painting from my box. I think going out to paint in SAB helped me to be comfortable again on location. I’d like to get out at least one day a week to paint around the yard and perhaps go around the neighborhood a bit. One step at a time. I doubt that I will ever be a serious plein air painter again, because I have grown too fond of studio work, but it is good to stay in the game a little bit.

I am still working back and forth all the time between acrylics and oils. I’m pleased with that routine and I strongly recommend that painters use more than one medium. Acrylics and oils teach me about the other medium as strange as that sounds.

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I’ve got a batch of new reference photos to use for studio paintings. Fresh locations give me a boost and take me outside of my comfort zone. That is the most important reason for the residencies I travel to. It’s not that the paintings are anything special, but the scenery, discovery and reference photos are invaluable. I am still hoping to find a sponsor in the Amelia Island area of NE Florida. I love Big, Little Talbot and Ft George Islands, adjacent to Amelia. I had a 3 year residency on Big Talbot Island, sponsored by North Florida Land Trust. It ended when they changed their focus and ended the residency. I’m always looking for a good residency location in Florida. I’ll be heading down to Vero Beach in 2017. I love to paint there and I really like th town. pelican Island is just a hop and skip from Vero. it is a lovely small preserve with lots of beautiful tall grasses and palms.

I am loving this Fall color. This year is really good and colorful. It sure makes me miss beautiful Fair Oaks, the loveliest place in the world. I had 8 joyful years there as resident artist and that was the best residency ever!

Wrap up SA

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Wrap Up Notes

I’m home from St Augustine with a wrap up of my adventure. I made a couple of new friends on Thursday while painting with the Anastasia Plein Air Painters. It has been some tme since I painted with a group of painters. They were friendly and welcoming so I had a truly good time. Four of us met for lunch afterward, and we spent some time musing about the craft of painting, always a good thing.

I got five 8×10 paintings done, during my residency, four acrylic and one oil. A variety of places made it fun.  One from the back patio of the dunes, one of River to Sea Park, one of the palms and dunes in front of the condo boardwalk and two at Shore Drive, a new and wonderful discovery, thanks to the Anastasia folks.

It is my habit at residencies to spend the morning out for breakfast first, then out exploring and taking reference photos, home for lunch and then an afternoon of painting on the porch or patio. Occasionally I get to paint with groups at locations in the area. This has been a great system for me from the beginning of my residency project. It allows me to cover a great deal of the area, exploring all morning, rather than settling in to one spot. My residencies are usually 5 to 7 days, in places rich with nature parks and the wild areas I love to paint. They are often in coastal areas or farms, away from civilization, but a quick and easy drive to the nearest store.

Restaurant Reviews

I ate at three this time, 2 for breakfast and one for lunch.

Sunset Grill- This is an old favorite of mine on the west side of A1A across from a large hotel. No scenic view, and no atmosphere but reliably good seafood. I had the shrimp platter with fries and green beans. The beans were fresh and sautéed just to done, delicious. The fries were excellent, hot and crisp as well as the shrimp, jumbo and plentiful. They were served with both cocktail and tarter sauce. The only thing missing was hush puppies. Being from the South, I always expect to have good hush puppies or cheese grits with seafood. A great lunch with excellent service.

Sea Oats Café- This has become one of my favorite dives for breakfast. The music is great, Bob Dylan, Blues, etc. The door opens with a guitar chord sound. The décor is corny beach, etc. They have the best cheese grits I’ve had in some time. They are creamy with a pile of sharp cheddar shreds over it, so you stir the cheese into the grits. Pieces remain throughout to add to the flavor. Delicious. They specialize in odd and exotic pancakes and have dozens of flavors. I am an old school bacon and egg girl and that is good too.

The Oasis- This is a classic beach restaurant between SA and Crescent Beach. it has been there a long time. I read a few months ago that the owner had died. I was hoping it was still open and it is. The décor is hideous. The building outside is hideous, but there is something about it that appeals to me. The breakfast is very good. I ahd corned beef hash, home fries and eggs, all cooked perfectly. The wait staff is really nice and friendly. A good place with lots of history and character.

My Abode

Chad and Sarah’s Condo is a splendid beach home. I’ve been fortunate to have this residency at their lovely condo at least three times and hope to continue. They are dear friends. Sarah is the PR person at the University of Florida Vet School but more importantly, a published poet. Chad is a retired genius. He knows everything!

The condo is rented out between their visits. it is super clean, everything is state of the art and it is beautifully decorated with beautiful furnishings and original art. It faces the dunes and is a few steps away from the beach. The complex is pristine and well cared for with all the amenities you could ask for. I always look forward to this residency. They are kind, thoughtful and generous friends.

I had a fabulous time as always.

 

Adventure

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Adventure Notes

I’m off to St Augustine Beach later today for a five day painting residency adventure. My friends at Chad and Sarah’s Condo have given me their lovely condo for this residency. It is right on the beach. I set up my paint box and paint every afternoon on their patio, sipping my rum drink and listening to Billie Holiday an Louie Armstrong. I have the same schedule for all of my residencies. I go out for breakfast each morning, then explore the area until about 1 PM, then head back to my abode for lunch and then an afternoon of painting. It is a great schedule, and safe for an old gal alone. I’ll be checking in with the St Augustine plein air painters for lunch on Wednesday, not to paint, just to visit.

The condo is beautiful, professionally decorated and has original art throughout.
Chad and Sarah’s Condo. It gets my highest recommendation for a beach stay.

Meanwhile, business has picked up a bit at the town studio since the election. I hope for a good shopping season after a lack luster year. I brought in some new paintings, which I constantly rotate, and one of the new ones sold last week. I emphasize to any artist in a retail studio or gallery that rotation is key to sales. I never leave paintings up for more than a few months, unless they are the giants 40×60 for example. Those take from 2-4 years to sell for me, due to size and price point. it takes the buyer who has disposable income and large walls for those paintings, which means a long time in most cases. For anything 20×24 or smaller, I rotate frequently. Since I show in a few galleries and have two studios, it is fairly easy to have enough space for a large body of work. If you don’t have a large body of work, get in the habit of moving the paintings around the space frequently. A painting looks new in a new space.

I am continuing my habit of painting in both acrylics and oils and I feel that has improved my work in both mediums, as each one teaches me technique I can use in the other. The acrylics are more precise and the oils richer and more textural, but most people can’t tell the difference in my work between mediums. My trip will give me more material to study and it is about time for my next period of wave studies anyway. I do about a dozen wave studies every six months, just for the fun of it. Ocean subjects don’t really sell much in north central FLorida.

I’ll be checking in with adventure news on the blog when possible.

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