Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting Ready For A Show

Greetings everyone,

Over the next several weeks I hope to share my experiences getting ready for a local art exhibit where I hope to display at least 16 original works. In today's post I'll bring things up to speed.

Being Prepared:

Like many of my artist friends I was not prepared for a cold call from a gallery asking me if I wanted to have an exhibit in a few months. For one, it was short notification (many galleries give 6 months to a year as notice). I have read many posts from other artists who say have a good inventory of work so you can fill a show at a moments notice. Well, I wish I was more prepared! Even though my inventory is good, I want more impact, and I don't have as many "ready to hang" as I would like to have. Which means I have to spend more money on frames, matboard, etc. than I really wanted.

First Steps:

I told the representative of the gallery I would do the show and I was looking forward to the experience. We exchanged information and had a few things to take care of right away.
  1. Gain a clear understanding of the gallery consignment/commission terms.
  2. Determine the required number of pieces.
  3. When was the exhibit? When is the opening reception?
  4. Clear up additional questions/concerns and start planning.
On a side note - I can't stress the communication skills enough here. Do a lot of follow up, keep the gallery/rep up to speed on your progress, and answer ALL questions so there are no surprises.

Within a day the gallery rep sent me an email (we are using email as our "best method" of communication) requesting a piece for advertising purposes. He asked if I could email a picture of one of my paintings. I sent a print ready (300 ppi, JPG) file to him with additional questions and comments.

Keeping Organized:

I like to keep files organized on my MacBook Pro to help me with events like this one. I created a folder (Named: November Gallery at Ninety-Seven Exhibit) to keep everything for this show in my "2009 Exhibit Schedule" folder. I put a digital press kit together, filed email correspondence, and created a planner for the show. I have also added dates and deadlines to my Google Calendar (I recommend Google Calendar because you can access your appointments from any computer and you can even sync information with your MAC).

I did a preliminary inventory of work for the show and I do have plenty of work but some of it needs framed, and a few even need documented for my own record keeping.

Next Steps:

This coming week I hope to visit the gallery and talk to the rep face to face about hanging the show and what we are planning for advertising and the press (I have already been to several gallery events there - I would not recommend doing a show at a gallery you have never visited). Essentially, I hope to finalize the expectations portion of the exhibit so I can focus on framing, documenting, and being prepared to deliver the work to the gallery.

- Michael

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mixing Colors - Learn by Practice

My studio palette - showing some color mixing practice

Practice makes perfect right? So why do many of us choose not to practice mixing colors? Is it because paint is expensive? Maybe we think there is no need to practice. I for one, look at the overall expense associated with the oil paints I use and shutter at the thought of putting out colors to "practice" mixing. But why? I'll tell you why, because I think every time I put paint out on the palette, I have to make a painting! And I am here to tell you, that is rubbish! Why learn how to mix when you are making a painting? I decided it was better to practice and "see what happens" on the palette, and dispose of the colors than to be frustrated because I can't figure it out when I am working on a painting.

And that my friends is why all this became a post today. I have been playing around with a small plein air painting setup and I am used to a big palette. Therefore, the small palette created several challenges. I went out to paint, and I got frustrated and trashed the painting. I threw it away! I learned nothing. I had wasted so much time, I neglected to take notes, and I really had no idea why I had so much trouble. I decided it was time to practice! I mixed the basics (blue and yellow to make green, red and yellow to make orange, etc.). I determined a lot of things; here are a few important points I learned in regards to my colors, and the plein air setup I plan to use regularly...

  • I like using French Ultramarine rather than Prussian Blue to mix with Cadmium Yellow Pale to make my "landscape greens" color. (I lighten the mix with yellow, but may add white on occasion).
  • I like to keep the colors to a minimum on the small palette (7 colors versus my standard 13)
  • For landscape painting en plein air, I must rely on my ability to mix sky color, and landscape green colors to make the paintings a good representation of what I see.

So there you have it...I plan to practice more often. I also hope to become a better artist by painting en plein air. The small paintings may help my control, and detail; I hope working small keeps me interested in creating paintings en plein air. If anything, I must get faster, the sun has a schedule that refuses to wait for me to get it right!

I hope this post sparks some ideas for you, get out and paint, but don't forget to learn the colors you use.

Happy painting,