I’m thinking about career ups and downs today. I’ve had a good couple of years teaching, but now I am starting to lose some students. I don’t really know why. I do the best I can to give 100% to my students, but they seem to be gradually drifting away. That is one reason I’ve never wanted to be a full time teacher. I’d much rather be a painter who teaches now and then. I am careful to keep my irons in several fires, so that I don’t depend on teaching to make a living. I know I am changing my Michaels schedule in January, to suit my own times and that will help me.
I feel like I need to come up with something new to help my sales for next year, new ideas, new space, less teaching, who knows? Is it just angst about the elections, the negativity?
It has been a poor Fall for sales. I blame that on an election year. I will be so glad when it is over. Hope springs eternal for a better year for art in 2017. I’m surviving but not thriving this year. I like the subjects I paint and others seem to so that means I must look for a new market to expand to. This is my thinking time every year, when I try to figure out the best way to sell what no one has to buy.
I have been enjoying painting this Fall and doing good studio work. I’ve been using some of the exercises that I give to my students for my own paintings for the past few weeks, and getting fun, good results.
I’m off to St. Augustine Beach in about 10 days for a much needed residency, thanks to Chad and Sara’s Condo. I will paint, meet up one day with some other painters for a session and try to rest for a time.
I’ve been painting outside for about two weeks now. I do say I enjoyed it, but I can’t say that any of it is especially worthy. About half of the paintings are acceptable, compared to most of my studio work being pretty good. That has been typical for me throughout my career. My studio work has always been much better. Truth to tell, I enjoy being a studio painter the most. I guess I still want to paint outside in the winter, just to enjoy the fine weather and good light. not because it works very well for painting.
Today I had my Blondheim Study Group for the morning. I love those sessions. We are experimenting, learning technique and stepping outside of our comfort zone. This painting today is the result of my effort in the group. I have lost one or two painters in the group, so I am on the hunt for a new painter to join.
As always, I am looking for a new town studio space. I don’t know that I’ll ever find the right one but it is fun to look. The problem is always enough funding. Commercial buildings are very expensive in my town. I’m going with a friend on Saturday to look at a space. She might be interested in sharing a space, so we are on the hunt. I need a space large enough to teach in as well as functioning as a retail gallery space for sales. I need a place like the studio I had in the loft. I like the space next door to my current location but they want a 3 year lease and the fee is a bit high for the space. I would take it with a shorter lease.
Fall is flying by so fast. It’s nearly November. I can barely keep up.
Paint Box Notes
I’m officially back out with my paint box on the trail and in my yard to paint. Truth to tell, I had to force myself to paint on location again. I lost a residency 1 and 1/2 years ago and I never have been able to get interested in going out again. It was my favorite place in the world and hard to leave. My students want to go out to paint in 2017, so I must be prepared to teach plein air work again. The first day Thursday was quite difficult. I no longer have a golf cart to load up and take me wherever I want to paint. I had to carry all of my gear down the trail. I did get an ok painting, but it all seemed so awkward, and it wore me out.
Today was a bit easier for me on the set up. I didn’t go as far from the studio this time. It was lovely out. I started at 4 PM, much better than the 11 AM painting I started on Thursday. I was calmer and more relaxed today. I’ve always liked painting in the afternoon, so 4 PM is a good time. It gives me enough time to do a small painting, and that is all I really need to do on location. I see no need in dragging out big canvases. Much better for studio work. I will continue with my studio work in the morning and do the small plein air paintings at 4 PM for awhile. My days of caring about being a known plein air painter, paint outs or group painting are over. I only really enjoy my time on location for myself. My collectors don’t much care about plein air, truth to tell. I’ve always been a better studio painter. The things I learn from plein air work are about the natural world, plants, birds, animals, light and atmosphere. Anytime I can spend out in the woods and fields is good.
Happy Ending Notes
I’m happy to be back home after a stressful week preparing for Hurricane Matthew. I spent the day with my sister and Henry at my Gainesville Studio, waiting out the worst of the storm. I’m grateful not to live on the coast when these things come along.
I missed two of my four Michaels classes this week, due to the storm, but I will have my beginning class tomorrow morning. Who knows if my students will come with all the storm troubles we have had? I taught Open Studio on Wednesday but only one student came. I work very hard to satisfy my students and I send them reminders all the time but it is always a crap shoot to see whether they will come to classes. Happily, my study group that meets at my own studio is very consistent about coming to class. I’ve had no problems with that group.
I have a half finished oil on the easel, waiting for me to get back to a normal schedule. I am also practicing on some cattle paintings. I have put that practice into my rotation as it has been a while since I did cattle work. I have to start over and relearn how to paint them. I rarely do the portrait style cow paintings that I see everywhere. I prefer to paint them as part of the landscape, as that is so dominant in this part of Florida. There are gorgeous cattle ranches in central Florida. Since I am a landscape painting, I want the cattle to be part of the landscape without being the star. I have done a few commissioned portraits of cows now and then, but I prefer to put them into a land painting.
My online students are doing great and I have my study group on Tuesday. I am hoping to mow the lawn one last time for the season after the rain clears.
Big Live Oak Notes
I’m working on a painting of a big live oak this week. It is 20×24 inches, oil on canvas. It is one of those swell farm trees that leans over dramatically. There are a couple of cattle in the scene but the tree is the star. I never tire of painting trees and am really fond of pines and live oak trees. I’m using a limited palette with this one, which I like. UB, yellow ochre, cad lemon yellow, red iron oxide, Paynes gray and titanium white. I find that UB and yellow ochre with a bit of white for lighter areas, makes a wonderful canopy color for oak trees. As I continue to paint, I find the balance between color and neutrals to be more important. I have left the world of intense color for others. I also find that I am more interested in value and contrast rather than color.
Sales are improving again so that helps me to catch up again. Having more business in the studio allows me to spend more time with collectors and get to know them better, always a joy for me.
I’ll be heading over to Micanopy tomorrow to hang paintings at the Blue Highway. It is a great restaurant and my work will get a lot of views by locals and tourists as well. It is located on a major highway between Gainesville and Ocala. I don’t do restaurant shows much anymore but this one is so well known and popular, it is worth a shot. My work will hang October – December, the best shopping months of the year.
I’m busy this week teaching at Michaels for four days and working with one of my online students. Now the pace of life is speeding up a bit.
Three Color Palette Notes
My friend and fellow painter, Thelma challenged me to choose a three color palette + white to do some painting. I of course, accepted the challenge joyfully. I love painting with limited palettes. My favorite limited palette is:
Cad Red Light
Cad Yellow Lemon
I have used that palette for many years with good success. It gives me many variations within its limits.
I used the above palette without the Paynes gray for the two challenge paintings. She only gave me four colors. I had a really good time and stretched my color mixing skills. Good times!
I’ve sold a couple of nice paintings this week and after a slow summer, that is a good thing. Hopefully the sales will continue moving toward the holiday season. I’m trying to save up for a new I-Pad pro and to have my studio painted. it desperately needs to be pressure washed and painted. Every time I think it is a good time to invest, something else breaks. Life as a painter! It’s always up and down but mostly fun 90% of the time.
I’m finally back out on Deer Woods Trail. I’ve been cutting the tiny trees crowding in on the edge of the trail so the mower can move down the trail easily. There are plenty of limbs down under trees. I’ll begin to gather them a few at a time later in the fall for firewood. I always have a nice burn day at the burn pile each winter. I go through my paintings once a year and burn those that I don’t feel are saleable. I will often keep these less than successful paintings for a year or two to study them and try to figure what I should have done and didn’t. When I’m through with my observations, they go to the burn pile.
The Michaels Open House was better than I expected. I have several new students. As any painter who teaches knows, students come and go. People move away and others get busy with new interests. I believe that people have such poor attention spans that it gets harder and harder to keep students in the long term. I only teach 6 days a month, but teaching is really important to me. I take it very seriously and it is a big responsibility to my students to make sure they are getting a quality painting experience.
It is always a see saw for me. Do I want to continue to teach or spend more time in the studio. I go back and forth. This is a good balance, teaching only a few days a month. I think I can change my schedule for 2017 and teach two classes for two days at Michaels which will free up two more days. My online students are the best of both worlds. I love that format.
Today I need to organize the studio for my study group tomorrow morning. We are going to study water this time. I’ve been doing some research and practice on edgework, anticipating the first lesson in October, requested by a student. That is why I love teaching. They request help and I research and practice to give it to them. That pulls my own work up a notch. Old dogs need to continue to learn new tricks.
I’ve finished a couple of paintings this week. I’m working with acrylics on some small wood panels, sizing them with clear glazing medium instead of acrylic. I like it. I did this painting that way. I finished a tree painting, a scene with a farm fence running through the pasture, in oils. I am enjoying the set up of the studio now, so I don’t have to move furniture around.
I’ve been busy this week, updating my web site, preparing for the open house at Michaels, and hanging the show for my students at my town studio. I live in a whirlwind of activities most of the time. My lazy summer has passed, though it is still terrifically hot here in north Florida. I can see the changes in the flora around the neighborhood. The Goldenrod is blooming, a sure sign of Fall.
I finished this painting today, and a couple of study commissions, finished today, so I am caught up in the studio for once. I’ll be starting some new paintings on Sunday. I’m going through the lovely images on my I-pad and painting them lately. I save them for a long time before painting them. I like to look at them over and over again before I decide which way I want to paint them. I think sometimes I am just not ready for an image, knowing that eventually it will be the right time to paint it.
When I was a less experienced painter, I gave little thought to sizing up images. I just blindly went at painting without a clue. There is something to be said for waiting and musing about images for a bit of time. I will often paint a subject many times before I get to the real depth of a scene. I learned that during my 8 year residency at Fair Oaks. I painted some scenes there dozens of times and never tired of it. The thing is that you have many choices in each painting, many forks in the road, each one will produce a different mood or emphasis. Each version is unique and wondrous, though painting skills may be lacking.
I’m beginning to think about some changes in 2017. I am getting too busy again. I love teaching but it is taking up time. I may take a year off from Michaels in 2017. I have plenty of students who enjoy coming out to my country studio and I have a few online private students. I’ll be teaching a plein air monthly class in 2017 and my study group wants to continue on Tuesday mornings. I love my Michaels family, but it is quite a distance for me to drive in heavy traffic. Managing two studios and teaching is a lot. I will have been there for 18 months in December. I’m not much of a corporate person, truth to tell.
I’ve got about 10 nice days around the studios to catch up with painting, card drawing and lesson planning. It is nice to have a little break between gallery shows and teaching.
I’ve been doing some 8×10 acrylic land and waterscapes this week, and have an 18×24 oil on my other easel. I decided to set up my oils in the storeroom. There is plenty of room and I don’t have to move the easel into the storeroom every time I have my study group every two weeks. I now have a great set up for them, and two stations for me that don’t have to be moved. The best of both worlds. The only time I’ll have to change anything now is for my twice a year studio parties in February and May.
I’m going to teach a monthly plein air class in 2017 . One will take the place of one of our two Tuesday classes and the other on the first Sunday each month. I need to have a push to get me back out on my trail to paint and I am hoping this will force me to paint on location again. When I lost my residency at Fair oaks, I couldn’t bring myself to go out anymore to paint. it was my favorite place in the world and still is. It has been about 15 months now, so I must get back out to paint again, now in my own neighborhood.
I did some more furniture moving at my country studio to give my students a bit more space in the hall to come in and out with their supplies. I still really need to get some time to clean out cabinets, shelves in the hall and drawers full of old things. I just never have the free time anymore. It seems that I am busier now than I was as a much younger painter. None of that is really important in the larger picture. I’m still thinking about the fact that my assistant left 6 weeks ago and I’ve not found a new one yet.
Keeping Up Notes
Keeping up with all of the activities in my world gets harder now that Fall is approaching. I’ve added a gallery to my list, Firehouse Gallery in Newberry ,FL and a couple of around Florida art exhibits I need to pack up and ready for October and November. I need to find an assistant and no one has come to mind yet. I want to be careful and find the right person. I don’t need any headaches and after having Carolyn work for me for five years, it is hard to find someone who will replace her effectively. I have been avoiding it, truth to tell, but I must find someone. I can either be my own assistant and get less painting done, or find someone to do the running around for me and get my studio time to myself.
My study group has worked out very well for me, meeting at my studio twice a month. it does take a fair amount of time preparing for their lessons. In January, I will change to a plein air class once a month. I need a reason to get out painting on site again. When I lost my residency at Fair Oaks, I lost my desire to paint on location anymore. I took a year off, but I must force myself back out to do field work. Teaching this class will bring me back out into the fields again.
I did some sky painting last week with my Michaels students and will do so again tomorrow with my study group. I never get tired of the sky work. It is always hard and I never get it right, hence the huge challenge for me. I got a request from my students to study palms next month at Michaels, and I realized that I don’t do much palm work anymore. I prefer the big trees and tall pines. Every FL painter does palms. I have strayed away from them in the last few years. This will be good practice for me to work on them for a bit.