Sunday, September 28, 2008

Getting Noticed, Getting Rejected

Dancing Green Man
acrylic on paper
8" x 7"

Last week, I received an e-mail from an art instructor wanting to use some of my gelatin prints in his alternative printmaking workshops around the country. Dean Ebben had found my blog and liked the experiments done on different surfaces.

So, I’m preparing an artist biography as well as some .jpgs of my prints. I am really floored that my work will be seen along his and other big names in the printmaking field.

Earlier in the month, an online map company--Schmap--approached me through my Flickr site, short-listing a photo I’d taken in Killarney. Although I wasn’t able to reply in time, I was flattered and flabbergasted how opportunities appear when people locate you online.

In both instances, neither offer had any monetary offerings but would give me full credit and allow my work to be seen by a larger audience. That made me feel that perhaps the Universe was telling me I’m on the correct path and to keep creating. It’s pretty amazing since I’ve only put my art online since May.

Joseph Campbell said “…follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” When I first highlighted that sentiment in The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers (p. 120), it applied to my writing. Now, it applies to my visual art.

As a sensitive, shy person I have very mixed feelings about showing and possibly selling my works. There’s one side that dearly wants to be accepted and acknowledged while the other side wishes to remain withdrawn and retiring.

While all this attention was happening, I entered three acrylic paintings in the local watercolor juried exhibit. Only one didn’t make the cut but it's my favorite and, what I think, my best work to date. Rationally, I know it’s a matter of taste from the juror, one person’s opinion, but that hurt!

So, is the Universe giving me a mixed message? Or will this rejection be the stimuli to enter other contests or even prepare works for selling at Etsy?

How do you deal with attention, selling, or getting rejected?

As the week closed, and I received an insightful critique (thanks, Steve!) on why the painting might have been rejected, I feel less bruised now and more philosophic. I realize I’ve come a long way. Having more courage with my art than my writing, I have progressed beyond shyness to show, exhibit, and blog. By risking rejection, I have won by just submitting. Having two out of three paintings in the last two annual juried exhibits is something to be proud of.

So, it’s time to find a different venue for my painting and time to think of the future.

Autumn Leaf

acrylic on paper

9" x 12"


I’ve continued playing in paint with various strings, ribbons, and pieces of jute.

As an experiment, I’ve made ghost prints in my journal. Taking the remaining acrylic paint from my brayer, I roll the excess onto a hardbound sketchbook of 70 lb. smooth paper. The prints have turned out very well but I was afraid the acrylic paint would stick together, especially on a two-page spread. I’m so pleased it hasn’t. In addition, the pages haven’t wrinkled either, in sharp contrast to using water soluble crayons or pencils with water.

Roll, brayer, roll!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Framing a Lesson

I spent most the afternoon cutting a mat and backing board, mounting and framing an acrylic painting on a full sheet of watercolor paper (22” x 30”). When I heard tales about how much fellow artists were paying for framing their works, I thought I could learn to do it. A few months ago I bought an excellent book (“Basic Picture Framing”) and taught myself to cut mats and frame works on watercolor paper. But, boy, is it hard work! I don’t have a fancy system, just a handheld mat cutter, large self-healing cutting board, rulers, a pencil, and a good utility knife.

Then, when I was about to hang and appraise my work, the metal frame fell apart. Metal springs and corner holders went flying and the air turned blue with my curses! Luckily, there was a clear styrene sheet--not glass--in the frame or I would have had a big mess. I had noticed the mat and backing board overlapped the plexiglass and thought my small overage pushed the frame apart. So I dissembled everything, cut down the edges, sandwiched everything back into the metal sectional frames, double checked the corner screws, and was finally in business.

Is there a lesson? I think I won’t do another work on a full sheet of watercolor paper! It’s physically tough to cut and frame a painting that size—will stick to a stretched canvas instead. Cutting mats has to be my least favorite thing associated with painting. How do picture framers do it all day? My hands really hurt after just one cutting session.

Getting some framing supplies yesterday, I talked to a local framer who recommended I spend the least amount of money to frame. He didn’t recommend the 100% cotton rag mat nor the acid free backing boards, just plain acid free mats and regular foam board. Neither did he encourage buying fancy frames for works on canvas, as the customer could change the color to match their d├ęcor. That gave me a whole different perspective. I have been buying all the acid-free and high quality boards all along.

What do you do? Do you do the least in preservation? Since I am just beginning to exhibit, haven’t sold anything yet, and do my own framing, I bought the good stuff. But if it’s true that a buyer can and will swap out my mats for their own taste, why am I spending extra dollars for materials that might later be discarded so it will match their sofa?

Acrylics on paper is so difficult to ready for presentation, but it is such fun and fast to work with. This week, I grabbed a tangled bit of string to play with and had good results in smaller works.

From my sketchbook:

Two Panels

7 3/4" x 7"

Landscape of String

7 3/4" x 7"

From a watercolor block:

Purple String
9" x 12"

Orange String
9" x 12"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Evening Summation

More Not More
By Bruce Cockburn

I don't mean to cling to you my friends
It's just I hate the day to have to end
Never enough time to spend
I haven't done enough for this to be the end

As the sun sinks behind Madame Oak, another Sunday evening approaches with Monday’s workweek around the corner. I often think of this song quoted above and wish I worked for two days and had five days to play!

Today, I did something I had been afraid to do—put a finishing varnish on a canvas. It was a test for the one I want to exhibit. There’s a juried exhibit in two weeks with my local watercolor group and I’m feeling a little panic. Today I discovered some framing items I’ve ordered will now be delayed. I’ve also made a last-minute decision to include a work that will need matting and framing (which I’ve taught myself). So, I’ve scurried around the house seeing what I have on hand and making a list for the only art supply store that carries quality supplies. Since I like planning ahead, I feel like I was floundering this afternoon.

Speaking of long range plans, I’ve been pondering future painting efforts and wondering:
  • What substrate do I want to work on that is easy to finish, frame, hang, sell, and ship—canvas? paper?, board?
  • What sizes should I get to buy in bulk?
  • How will those decisions affect the way I work?

If I can build up a supply of good work that is easy to prepare, I will offer my works on Etsy. At this point, I’m thinking smaller works will be easier to ship. And perhaps create larger works for local exhibits. For you more experienced and full-time artists, how did you decide such things?

On a different and happy note, I had a wonderful visit Saturday from fellow artist Mary, who now lives in the Land of Enchantment. My forever friend first introduced me to art many years ago and encourages me to this day. Presently, her camera is her creative canvas of expression; she takes wonderful vistas of mesas and mountains, fauna and flora.

So now I realize it was a fulfilling weekend, after all.

Some experiments last week with light modeling paste:

8" x 7"

9" x 12"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day

Showing absolutely no restraint whatsoever, I purchased several new tops yesterday. It was great fun meeting a fellow artist at a large Goodwill and I was thrilled to see blouses lined up and separated by color—felt like selecting tubes of paint! The colors were so luscious that I found myself drawn to those I use in my palette. Now having a grasp of color theory, I put those skills to good use!

And, having to make room for them gave me an excuse to weed out my closet, find slacks and jeans I’d forgotten, and create a huge bag for donation. The cycle continues.

Here are some brayer paintings from last week:

Light Within
7 1/2” x 7”

Passage Way
7 1/2” x 7”

Red Leaf
8” x 7”

Happy Labor Day to all those who toil!