Category Archives: Exhibits, Shows, & Competions

I Broke My Own Rule and Got an Expensive Education

In my first year of art as a business, 2019, I decided to make myself a rule that I would only apply to be a vendor at an art fair or other art event if I had been there at least once just to observe… and sample the fair food. I broke that rule. I mostly regretted it.

That’s a picture of the disaster that is my studio one week after participating in Art Beat in downtown South Bend, Indiana. The rest of my house doesn’t look so good either. I’ve had a week to rest up after all that work, now it’s time to put my house and my life back to normal.

I had never been to Art Beat before this year. I meant to go last year, but — like most in-person art events last summer, it was canceled. It seemed like a big deal to so many other local artists. There was a lot of buzz about it on social media. It seemed like it would fit my schedule since it was local. It was a one-day event on a Saturday, so it didn’t conflict with my day job or my volunteer responsibilities at church. Since other artists seemed so anxious to be accepted, I assumed they had experienced a good volume of sales there. There weren’t a lot of other options available to me.

I applied. I was accepted, and then I was accepted again to the “fine art scene” where I supposed my work would be a good fit. I was hopeful of making a significant profit for all the work and expense I put into it. I was so wrong.

Now, I want to say emphatically that Art Beat is a great event! It was well organized. It was well attended. The music was good. The food was really good! The parks department and all of the volunteers did a fantastic job. If I had been there just as a visitor to have a good time, it would have been a lot of fun. I might have even done a little shopping. But it was the wrong event for my art, and I would have known that if I had been to Art Beat in the past.

In the three weeks before Art Beat, I started a new job that wasn’t going well and required a lot of overtime that I hadn’t anticipated when I signed up. So it wasn’t until two nights before that I was filling the required sand bags to weigh down my canopy. That was a minor disaster, starting with the discovery that the bags I had ordered were the wrong type and didn’t hold enough sand. I had to improvise with less than attractive gallon water jugs. The night before, I was up past midnight packing the car and printing signs and price labels. And then correcting them and printing again. Luckily I did get some sound sleep once I hit the pillow.

The day of the event was SO HOT. SO, SO MISERABLY HOT. I drank so much water — a few ounces short of a gallon, and still I didn’t need to use the port-a-potty until 6:30 in the evening. When the wind picked up and we couldn’t leave the back of the tent open to let some air in, the tent got unbearably hot so that we had to stand outside the tent to greet people. I thought my husband might pass out, so I sent him to the bar across the street to sit in the air conditioning and drink ginger ale for an hour.

What did I get for all that work? Well, I sold three of my smaller paintings. I thought that might mean I would at least turn a profit. But no. After subtracting what I had spent on the event, I calculated a loss of about $100. If I were to subtract the damage to merchandise and equipment that got knocked over by the wind (or by me) then the losses are about double.

I gained other things. I got many kind compliments. (Enough to give me swelled head.) I met some very nice people, including the artists in other booths nearby, and I met the publisher of an online magazine that features local artists, poets, and writers. He invited me to submit my work. He kindly posted on Facebook about my work at Art Beat too. I got to spend the day with my husband, which we hadn’t been able to do for a while. We didn’t even get into a fight setting up the tent like we did when camping.

The most important thing I gained for my business was a little “education.” I learned that my rule about only applying to events with which I am familiar was a wise rule that I should never break again without very good reason. I learned that outdoor events are a LOT of work. I learned that I really need a good van if I’m going to do more of them. And I learned that I’m going to need to search for events that are better suited to selling my art, or explore some possibilities for selling online instead. I gained experience.

I need to paint more. A lot more, because selling art isn’t the fulfilling part of art business, making art is the part that feeds my soul. I am toying with the idea of having a sort of clearance sale to move out the art I’ve already made and make room for new and even better creations. If you’re interested in a bargain, stay tuned!

I’m also contemplating starting a YouTube channel, though I haven’t settled on what type of content that would be if I do. I know that people who buy art, often do because they feel a connection to the artist. I know that the artists whose work I want to own myself are artists I’ve become acquainted with through their YouTube videos. I’m not so comfortable with the idea of putting myself out there like that, but neither were they.

Art Beat 2021 is only a week away!!!

So, I’m sitting in our spare room this evening trying to do preparation for Art Beat and my friend Myra insists on “helping.” I think I might finish faster without her help. ONE WEEK TO GO! (keep scrolling)

Next Saturday, August 21, 2021, I will be participating in Art Beat in downtown South Bend, IN from 11am to 7pm . Come see me — and my art! I will be in the “Fine Art Scene” booth F135, which you will find at the north edge of Howard Park on the south side of E. Jefferson Blvd. just east of the bridge and S. Niles Ave. Here’s a link to a map, but that map is only half of the event. Besides art, there will be food, music, and dance performances.

Below are some of my newest works that I just framed for displaying at Art Beat. Of course you know that the photos never do a painting justice, so come see them in person. Hey, don’t forget to stop by the ATM on the way there! Or bring your plastic because I also accept credit cards, as do most of the artists you will find there. Help keep an artists from starving!

Art Beat 2021

If you follow me on social media, you already know that I’ve been accepted to participate in Art Beat on August 21st in South Bend, Indiana. I am very excited! And I’m very busy getting prepared. I’ve bought frames that need to be attached to canvases. I’m making a list of everything I’ll need to bring along — must not forget a chair to sit on! And most importantly, I’ve painted some fresh work to display. Here’s a snapshot of four oil paintings and one acrylic (the floral) that I finished this month:

And here’s an ink and watercolor piece that turned out well:

There was a sixth — another watercolor, but it was a disappointing mess. They can’t all be winners. Reference photo credits go to Pixabay.com contributors Free-Photos for the frog and klimkin for the chickens. My model for the cat portrait was Lucy. She gets paid in cat treats. The model for the apples was a couple actual apples. I should probably get around to eating those soon, before they go bad.

For my next painting, I think I want to go BIG. I asked my Facebook friends if they’d like to be volunteer models… so far no takers. I might have to bribe someone, or actually pay them.

Anyway… come see me at Art Beat if you’re in the vicinity on August 21st from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. There will be food, music, and dancing besides the art. Some of my artist friends are also belly dancers and they will be in one of the groups performing. All sorts of fun in Downtown South Bend.

Not Quite An Announcement

So far, I’ve only submitted an application to participate in an art show/fair twice. The first one was last summer and it got COVID-canceled before I even found out if I was in or not. Sadness. At least I got I refund.

A few weeks ago, I submitted that second application, and it was for the Village Art Fair in Winona Lake on June 5th and 6th. It looks likely that it will actually go ahead as planned. I knew getting in wasn’t a sure thing, so I was prepared either way — get busy and get ready if I’m accepted, or get on with business and apply to the next one if I got rejected. I forgot there was a third possibility, and I wasn’t prepared for that one — I got wait-listed.

That’s pretty cool, because it’s affirmation that I’m good enough for these events, but it leaves my plans in limbo. Oh well, after the craziness of the past twelve months, I’m rather used to plans that are entirely tentative. You too? They are supposed to let me know by the 8th of April. I’ll let you all know. Maybe you can come see me there!

Big Ideas – Small Art

Feb-Mar2019_SMALL

I haven’t posted in a while, but I promise I haven’t been a slacker.  I couldn’t post what I was working on until recently because it was not publishable work.  There are lots of reasons a work of art may not be publishable… one was a commission for a birthday surprise and I can’t spoil the surprise, one was an 80% plagiarized watercolor I did for fun as a silly Valentine’s day gift for my husband, and another was a sketch of a young acquaintance that I can’t share because he’s a minor and I don’t know his parents to ask for permission. (He thought it was pretty cool though.)

Then I went to an art event at my friend Jake’s studio, and met A. R. Drew.  She describes herself on her web site as “a contemporary badass warrior artist.”  I bought one of her pieces – something I rarely do because I already have an excess of art at my house (occupational hazard).  It was a fascinating small figural sketch done in gold paint marker.  I also watched her sketching one with that marker and I realized that was the answer to my problem of always taking a couple weeks or more to finish anything.  With a big, bold marker, I can’t fuss over detail, and I can’t erase, so I’m forced to work confidently and “sketchily.”  Thanks for the inspiration, A.R — Crown On!

You see that onion picture above?  That one’s a photo, not a painting.  I took that photo while the sun pouring in the west window was perfect, intending to use it as a reference photo for a small oil painting, and I have actually started on it – the picture is sketched in pencil on a canvas – but then I stalled on that project because in order to paint with oils or acrylics, I have to have a significant block of time.  If I’ve only got half an hour, that’s just enough time to get paint on the brushes and then clean up.

When a local crafts store announced a moving sale, I bought a set of oil-based paint markers and I’ve been going nuts with them in a watercolor paper journal.  First I found some public domain photos and drew the lamb, the duckling, and the wolf in just marker, and then the parakeet in paint marker with a watercolor background.  Then I thought I should try something other than an animal, and I did a distant cousin, Elsie Grace, from an old photo circa 1905.  I’ve always liked that photo, and what I like most about the sketch is that it actually looks like Elsie, even though I only spent about five minutes on the face.  Drawing a person is easy – achieving a good likeness is hard.

If you live in the Elkhart, Indiana area, come get a closer look at these smaller works and my larger paintings too during Art Walk – April 10, 2019 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Businesses up and down Main Street’s “Arts & Entertainment District” will be hosting the event.  April’s event will also feature a lot of talented young artists.  More details on that and my exact location for the event will be in my next post.  Thanks for reading!

Time to Put My Work “Out There.”

FramngTools

More art tools … or, more precisely, framer’s tools.  But most artists get good at framing too, because doing it yourself saves a bundle.  Also, a lot of us wouldn’t let a professional framer touch our work, because our work is like our babies or a piece of our own souls.  (Or we’re just control freaks.)

I just used these to frame “Bridesmaid in Pink,” (see my Gallery page) which I am about to enter in the 40th Annual Elkhart Juried Art Show at the Midwest Museum of American Art.  If I get it finished soon, and if I can find a frame within my (currently very tight) budget, then I will also enter the still life painting that I’m working on.

One of my favorite Youtube art teachers, Stefan Baumann, says artists need to put their work out there for the world to see, even if they’re not trying to sell it, because it keeps them motivated.  It also gives you the opportunity to see your work on a gallery wall next to other artists, which let’s you see how far you’ve come as an artist… or how far you need to go to achieve the level of art you are going for.

A fascinating portraitist whose blog I just discovered, Gwenn Seemel, provided the encouragement (in a video she shared) to get me over the dread of having to talk to people at an art event, should my work be accepted for the show… or even win something.  It’s not that I don’t like people, I’m just one of those awkward introverts who has a knack for saying the wrong thing.  That’s why I like blogging; I can edit the awkward out before I click “Publish” and put my words go “out there.”

They begin accepting submissions for the exhibit this week.  Wish me luck!