Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Leaving Another Gallery

Rooftop, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10

Now that I have gotten my work back, I can talk a bit about another gallery that I also just left. That makes three this last year.

This was a good example of a gallery that I probably should have left some time ago, based on sales, but didn't because they were so great to work with in every other way. I was invited to participate in several themed shows which were a welcome challenge, they paid on time, and they were extremely supportive of their artists. They sold a few pieces of mine here and there, but really never more than that. They had a good reputation however, so I felt that having them on my resume outweighed any sales issues. When a new contract came last spring, I signed it, deciding it was worthwhile to stay on with them at least for another year.

Then a few weeks ago I received a letter from the owner. The retail gallery space would be closing and the owner was planning to work as an art consultant, placing art in public spaces, offices, cafes, etc. I felt pretty sure that my sales would not improve in those venues and the logistics of dealing with delivery and pick up would be very difficult for me to handle (they are located nearly a day's drive away and they don't ship work back). I reluctantly told the owner that I had decided not continue on with her and she was absolutely lovely about it (probably relieved-another non selling artist leaves!) and went out of her way to get my work back to me on a very inconvenient day.

I feel good about all of this and even kind of relieved that it's turned out this way. I am extremely relieved I was able to get my work back without incident, as I sure have heard some horror stories about that! But I am disappointed that my work didn't go over very well in their community even though I don't really take that personally. Sometimes my work really clicks somewhere and sometimes it just doesn't.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More Sales

On the Way to Provincetown, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

Thanks everyone, for all of the lovely words of encouragement regarding my recent cluster of sales in NYC. At an art fair no less! I am still a bit loopy about it all. Of course I am aware of the recent trend in art fairs but none of the galleries I have shown with until now, participate in them, so this seems like a good step up for me. And after thinking about it a bit, I am glad I didn't know ahead of time that my work would be there. I would have gotten all stressed about it. Also I would have secretly hoped for much success there which surely would have jinxed it. This way I didn't have a chance to mess it up. Of course the director did say she would include me next year, so I do have a full year now to work myself into a frenzy. Heh.

Anyway, when it rains it pours. I picked up my work from the show at Enderlin Gallery yesterday and also received a check for three of the five pieces that sold. And today's mail bought me a check from the Harrison Gallery for three more sold pieces. I must add here that there should be a place in heaven for gallery directors who pay their artists within days of the sale, as nearly all of mine regularly do.

So this has been a very good month income wise, but believe you me, I have learned from experience to hang on to whatever I can, as next month could just as easily bring me exactly zero dollars.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Very Cool News

Purple Edge, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x24

I got a call today from the owner of my NYC Gallery and she had some very exciting news for me. I had sent two 36x48 paintings down to her via Doug last week to add to the several pieces that they already have of mine. He said the large ones looked great in the gallery space and so I confess to fantasizing a bit about how cool it would be if one or the other sold right away. Little did I know!

At the last minute, the gallery decided to include my work in their booth at the Affordable Art Fair. My paintings were given a prominent spot I guess, and received some good attention. Hearing that feedback would have made my day, but it gets better. The gallery sold every single one of my paintings! Holy cow!

I was incredibly full of myself for about an hour, until I realized that I had to clean the really icky kid's bathroom and prepare for my daughter's sleep over, which is still in full swing (they are semi quiet, watching a movie). So daily life saved everyone around me from my attitude. Heh.

I still have a little buzz though.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gagging on Birthday Cake

Dynamic Duo, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

Posting may be a bit sporadic for the next week or so. Things are incredibly hectic here as it is the last few days of school, sports and other activities are winding down. Plus I am still working on things for the show in July and tomorrow is the beginning of our family's birthday season. Due to poor planning by Doug and I (actually, it was no planning at all, heh), we have three birthdays, one per week, for the next three weeks. Hard to believe that I could get sick of birthday cake, but by July 5 it does happen. We used to alternate years for birthday parties, so they wouldn't all fall in the same birthday season, but we got off track last year and now we have two parties coming up, one involving ten tweens for a sleepover and the other is a torturous three hour party at a very loud and flashy roller rink for a dozen almost third graders (comes to a grand total of five birthday cakes). Although I don't drink alcohol, these are the occasions that make me wish for a few stiff drinks, not to mention a long vacation alone in Bermuda.

I will continue discussing gallery issues with the next post. Unless I am laying on a beach somewhere. Heh, as if.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

How Long Do You Stay?

Backyards, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16
I thought I'd write a few posts this week concerning gallery relationships. Generally I don't discuss the specifics of this topic publicly, but there have been a few developments on this matter for me recently and since most artists will deal with these things at one time or another, I thought I'd finally go through some of it. Without naming names of course. Heh.

If one were to look at the list of galleries that represent my work on my sidebar or on my website, it might look as if I am very successful based on having seven (it was nine at one point) galleries showing my work. While I am doing pretty good all things considered, the list IS a bit misleading. One gallery is only open during the summer. And several galleries actually sell very little of my work, for various reasons, that I don't really think are related to me.

However, I have left two galleries in the last year. One was a co-op gallery in a very small town, requiring a small fee to be paid each month. This was one of the first galleries that asked me to join them and they actually sold a number of my pieces at first. After awhile though, sales dropped off and after looking at my records, I found that I was only making a very small profit there. I might have stuck with it except for the other work that they showed declined in quality which was frustrating as I wanted to be included in a better group of artists, not worse. And the real clincher was a very poorly organized group show that I found myself embarrassed to be included in.

The other gallery was in a large city and I really wanted to stay with them. The director had come across my work on the internet and contacted me. How great is that? They sold a few things, then it just dropped off. We tried different things, imagery, colors, scale, but my work just never really took off there and I don't know if it was the gallery or the city. I stayed for a long time (two years) because I liked the director and they were so good to work with. They paid in a timely manner and very carefully packed paintings that were shipped back to me. But finally after a year without one single sale or being included in any events in the gallery (such as group shows), I finally decided I should leave. It was all amicable; after all, what gallery wants a non selling artist around anyway?

To be honest, I still have a few galleries that represent me, who don't really sell too much of my work on a regular basis. But a sale here and a sale there and things add up to a half decent income. And so far, each of them offers me a good reason to stay, whether it's an opportunity to participate in a group or solo show, or to be included in a particularly challenging event such as a themed show. I also feel some loyalty to them because they all gave me a shot when I was trying to get started. And the local, seasonal gallery really doesn't sell much at all, but I like to support them by participating. Plus they have given me a listing in the annual Art in America gallery guide for two years now. Heck, I'd probably sleep with someone for that!

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing some of your experiences regarding how long and why an artist should stay with a gallery if sales are lackluster.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Having a studio that is open to the rest of the house has a few risks, especially if one is a pet owner.

This morning I went to get to work (at 9am, thank you very much!) and I found that one of our four cats left a memento on the chair at my easel. Clearly, the offender didn't have enough time to get to their usual spot for barfing up hairballs, which is usually on the hand made persian rug in our office or right outside our bedroom door, where Doug invariably steps on it first thing in the morning.

So a little scrubbing had to be done, a towel located to sit upon, and then to work.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

New Mexico

So my trip to Silver City, New Mexico, went pretty smoothly. My mom and her husband moved there about four years ago and while she has visited us here in NY, this is the first time I have had the chance to go and visit her. After flying for about 6 hours (and I don't mind saying here that I was moderately terrified on the airplanes, especially during the very bumpy landings, as it has been awhile since I have flown anywhere and I am rusty concerning faith in the whole concept of flying thing) I then rented a car and drove from Tucson to Silver City. On the way, I stopped at a rest stop that was surrounded by the biggest boulders I have ever seen (above) and had a few warnings that were interesting.

I arrived in Silver City, checked into my hotel and went off to find my mom's house, which is a bit outside of town. This is the view from their driveway:

Their dog, Molly, who is quite a character:

And a surprisingly gaudy flowering bush near the house:
Unfortunately, my mom was not feeling well while I was there (on the day I left they went to the ER and found out she had pneumonia), so mostly we sat at the kitchen table and chatted. I did spend a few afternoons wandering around the historic downtown and visited the local shops and art galleries. Here is a view of one of the streets where many of the galleries are located.

Most of the art was western and southwestern art, which while nice, doesn't really appeal to me very much. I did come across the Blue Dome Gallery and was able to see a few of Ed's paintings in person and they were really wonderful. Like most paintings, they have much more depth and color than they appear to on the computer screen so it was a real treat to see them in real life. On my way out a small oil pastel painting by Colorado artist Marty Mitchell caught my eye and since I like to buy a piece of art whenever I travel, I decided to get it.

The other memorable thing about the downtown was the Peace Meal Cooperative Vegetarian Deli. Birkenstocks, cooks with their dreads up under knit caps, Bob Marley on the radio and wickedly good organic food. I had a Pesto Pizza, which was pesto, tomatoes, green onions, kalamata olives and feta on a flaxseed tortilla style crust and I nearly wept while I was eating it. I went back the next day and had mock tuna salad on greens with flaxseed chips and that was excellent too. I wish we had a place like that in our little town, or anywhere nearby for that matter.

The landscape there, of course, is beautiful, all rugged, dry and intense. I also don't think I have ever seen quite so many mobile homes in one place, and this comes from a girl who used to live in the largest mobile home park in Rochester MN. Heh. I took a lot of pictures though and while I won't be painting the desert anytime soon, some of the imagery will surely find its way into my work.

With the exception of the fact that my mother was sick, it was a nice trip and I must admit that it was really nice to be unencumbered by children, chores and work for five whole days.

But getting home was even better. To see everyone's face light up when I came in the door, to see the clean house (courtesy of the kids), the flowers blooming in the garden and even to scoop out the cat litter and put in a load of laundry. And it was the best feeling ever to hear from a friend that when she ran into Doug while I was gone, he looked really haggard. Poor guy.....
This place really appealed to the old barfly in me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back in Black (love that song)

Byzantine Blue Road, 2007, Oil on Panel, 36x48

Just wanted to say a quick hello. I returned home late last night and have a ton of stuff to do today. Doug did an excellent job of handling things while I was gone (it was a very busy weekend and the poor guy spent all day Saturday dropping off and delivering children-welcome to my world!), but he did miss a few things. Like laundry. Of course it's not hard to get behind on that around here as missing a day or two can really cause a backlog what with six people and all.

Anyway, I plan to make good on my new daily schedule (um, even though I have already kind of messed it up by sitting here this morning, reading through some blogs and putting up this post) so I need to work in my studio today and then have much to do get things back to normal around here. Heh.

I will post on Wednesday about my trip.

PS. The image above is of a painting that I really struggled with. The underpainting was really nice, but from then on I was afraid of it, mostly because of the size of the panel. I am still having a hard time with the larger sized panels. And the fear showed in the piece. At one point, neither Doug nor I thought it would be salvageable, however I kept plugging away at it and managed to wrestle it into submission. The gallery director accepted it and it is on its way to Multiple Impressions in NYC (Doug is driving into the city today and will deliver it for me).

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

All About Energy

Early Summer Edges, 2007, Oil on Panel, 12x16

Well, tomorrow I am off for a few days to visit my mother.

I'll be back on Tuesday, but holy cow, things are gonna have to change! My daily schedule has slid into terrible disrepair over the last few months, ok, maybe closer to a year. I have gotten into the habit of sitting at the computer for a good part of the morning each day, taking care of blog related things (and we all know how much time that can take up!) and dealing with business and personal correspondence. This would be fine except it does tend to suck up most of my energy and by the time I get to work in my studio around noon, I am not always feeling it. I have managed to get by without it really affecting my work but I miss being really excited about painting. I am letting my energy drain away each day before I even get a chance to use it.

So I have to reorganize my days. I am going to get to work right away each morning and then do the office and blog stuff int the afternoons. Hopefully that will do the trick and get me motivated again. I am saying this all, out loud and in public because then I will actually do it right? Right. Heh.

I also really need to carve out a few hours a week to just play around with something besides oil painting and glazes. I should get myself over to the figure drawing classes on Monday nights as well. Doing other kinds of art is so important and I can't believe I have just let that go lately either. Time and space have been an issue there, but really, it's all about energy.

And I want mine back.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Photos, Gardening and Art, Oh My!

Front and Center, 2007, Oil on Panel, 18x18

Well, thanks to Bart, I managed to actually get the fab photo of myself up on my profile. He sent me a few links to it and one of them worked. The problem is that I have been looking at the dang picture so much now that I don't think I like it anymore. But I am stuck with it for now because there is just not enough time in the world for me to figure out all of this computer crap.

I finished clearing out the hillside garden over the weekend, which is a load off my mind. It was hot, sticky and very buggy. I have 67 bug bites and I am totally not kidding, I counted them. Most of them are clustered around the best spots ever for itchy bug bites, elbows, knees and ankles and I admit to going a bit batty the last few days with all of that. But the good news is that I wore shorts outside and in public and 1. The world didn't stop spinning - no one laughed and pointed at me and 2. I got some color and so now my legs don't actually glow in the dark anymore. And the best news is that for at least a week or so, my garden will look like this.

Ignore the weeds in front. Clearly we need to mow and weed wack.

I got all of the weeds out (Doug helped a bit on the far end where the weeds were actually trying to pull me into the earth),
put in some new plants and then mulched. It will fill in a bit and will change quite a bit over the next few years but for now I am just happy to have momentarily conquered the burdock and dandelions.

The vegetable garden is almost completely planted and this year we decided to add strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. The strawberries should produce all summer and so I have added a trip to the garden to my morning chores in order to collect the ripe ones each day. And I must say here that our strawberries taste incredible, especially compared to store bought. It's amazing how you get used to the flavorless ones from the store after awhile. The blueberries are already ripening as well and I am really looking forward to those. I make a mean blueberry cobbler.

Oh yeah, art. Check out Susan's mention and a few pictures of my work over at Digging Pitt's blog. It's Three Rivers Arts Festival time in Pittsburgh and if you are nearby go check it out. I have a number of pieces on display in Boxheart's booth at the festival as well as in their gallery (see sidebar).

Monday, June 4, 2007

My Cover Shot

I am amazingly nonphotogenic, but this photo of me is marginally ok. On Friday I was fooling around with the photo booth feature on my computer and while most of the shots were bad (I am just old enough to be thinking about staying away from natural light, especially around a camera) there were a few that I would consider actually showing in public. If I can ever figure out how to add a photo to my blogger profile, I will use this one.

Doug thinks it looks like an album cover shot, which is comical because in addition to not being photogenic, I am also not musically talented whatsoever. However, I do confess to the occasional daydream about really being able to belt out a Janis Joplin tune on stage and now I have an image to put on the CD. Heh.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Projects All Around Me

Yellow Hillside, 2007, Oil on Panel, 24x24

Just a quick hello today. I have been inundated with kid-related activities (the last few weeks of school are like no other-packed full of field trips, parties, picnics and half days, which I suspect are specifically designed to torture the parents) and painting for an upcoming show in Cape Cod, in addition to supplying a few other galleries with new work. Not to mention trying to get a few hours working in the garden each day.

So my computer time has been limited, posting as well as reading and commenting on others have been extremely curtailed. However, Kesha left a comment here a few weeks back and when I checked out her blog I was intrigued to hear that she had just returned from a one month residency at the Vermont Studio Center.

I have put the option of doing residencies out of my head even though I would love to do one and it is an area of my resume that is definitely lacking. It has always seemed impossible for me to leave my life and family for any length of time. But when I read Kesha's posts about her residency and after looking at the VSC website it occurred to me that there are a few times of the year where I could actually go away for a month. January and February usually have nothing going on. And my husband, the saint, is supportive of this possibility even though it will be a ton of extra work for him and will curtail his ability to work at his showroom each week, during that month.

So I am going to apply. There just so happens to be a deadline coming up on June 15 and I am working on the application. I have always had the feeling about these kinds of residencies that my work is not conceptual enough, or is too representational or frankly, just not good at all. But Kesha assured me that there was a really wide variety of artists accepted so maybe I have a shot.

In the meantime though, I am off to get a few plants into the ground. Then back into the studio for the afternoon.