The T-Bird Car Club from Oct. Show

“Studio Door”

About 8 years ago I joined a group of Artists getting ready to start a tour of their studios.  It turned out to be an incredible experience.   Prior to that, I was doing Festivals and Art shows to get my work out to the general public.  Some shows were great and others drew people interested in having a free festival experience complete with music.  In other words–“Looky Loos”.   

Whether a show is labeled Art or Craft, the quality can vary wildly.  If a show is juried it still may simply be about collecting fees rather than meeting a certain standard. Fairs are often interested in filling the space rather than quality.  Be aware that on some shows you could end up having your Fine Art booth next to imports from China.

I also learned that it is a lot of work to haul around all the “stuff” you need to set up a booth, not to mention the Art to put into it.  You can learn a lot about what people like about your work by being involved in an outdoor Art show, so I would encourage everyone to try it.   It would be wise to preview the show for participation the next year to see how it looks and feels. Now I am very careful about the shows I do, choosing to do only one or two shows a year outside my studio.

We open our studios in the area of Beavercreek, Oregon twice a year, in June and October.  We have so much fun doing it and people really enjoy seeing the studios where the artists do their work, that I have continued to do that as one of my recurring shows each year. I guess it goes without saying that  people who are driving to a group of Studios to see Art are more committed than people who attend an “Art Fair”.

So, if you are in the area June 15-17, 2012 go to Open Studios of Beavercreek and download a map to attend.
See you there and Keep Making Art.


“Table Vase”   Acrylic on Canvas

For years, I was the one in control, I could adjust the Horizontal and stop the Vertical from rolling.  When I first approached a Gallery, it felt like I had entered the Twilight Zone naked when everyone else had clothes. The Gallery owner has all the power, especially when you are just starting out.  You have no history with showing your work; no reputation to fall back on.   I had no control over the situation or the outcome… or so I thought.

Lucky for me, I had two things going for me.  First I was fearless and simply did not know any better, and second I had a body of work to show.  I approached a Gallery that I had admired and visited often.  This was a Gallery that carried pieces of work that I liked and seemed like a good fit for my Art.

I was so new to this process that I packed my pieces into the car, drove to the Gallery, and asked the owner if he wanted to look at my work.  I guess I figured I could live with the rejection if he said no on the spot, but did not want to go through the telephone calls.

He looked at my work, gave me some advise on matting the pieces that I have never forgotten and took some of my work into the gallery immediately.

I surely did everything wrong and it worked out anyway!  I would not recommend anything I did as a template. Learning by stumbling around is not only inefficient, it can make you look unprofessional.  I had no business cards; no artist statement.  Later I learned to have a representation of my work.  Initially it was slides as expected by Galleries and now digital images.  I also carry a small photo album (most art supply houses carry them as a “professional archival presentation book”) with images of my work so I can show to a Gallery on the spot, if the opportunity arises.  It would also be optimal to make an appointment, but if you are there and engage the owner in a conversation….

  • Rule #1   It is not productive to approach a Gallery that you have not done your homework on.  A Gallery of Western Art will not be interested in your Abstract.
  • Rule #2   Take your time to get all your ducks in a row.  That includes cards, an artist statement (no matter how brief) images of your work to show and e-mail for juries, and all of your pieces ready to go into a Gallery or Show.  By that I mean an inventory list of your work and a label on the piece with the same information.

All of these things take time, but it is worth the effort.  And if at first you don’t succeed,  Keep Making Art!



“Birdsong”  Acrylic on Board

So, you want to take your art to a gallery.

I originally was going to talk about my gallery experiences in this post, but then realized that it would be important to first talk about what you, as an artist, need to do to get ready.

Although I was not very prepared when I first went into a gallery, I did have one thing going for me. I had a “body of work”.
In law enforcement a “body of evidence” is a group of things related to a crime that lead to or point to a certain suspect or theory of how the crime was committed. In Art a “body of work” should point back to the Artist. In other words, when people look at your work they should see something that makes it recognizable as coming from you. The most important link between pieces is your style. Style is different than subject matter. Some artists like to paint western scenes or fantasy, but how you render those subjects is your “style”. This is also sometimes called a signature.

So how do you develop a style that is unique to you and brings all your pieces together? When I decided to try painting, I got some cheap canvases and started trying to paint a painting. I had taken painting classes in College, but the wisdom of the time was to just paint with no instruction and you would find your way. Sure, there were exercises and mixing color, models and still life to paint. There were drawing classes and critiques, but no real instruction on how the ‘old masters’ actually created their work.
So, I figured I would just dive in and see what happened. I painted this and that, anything I could think of. I would try to copy paintings I liked, paint a still life that I set up in the studio, and draw things from nature. Some of the first canvases became so thick with paint, from painting on them over and over, that the paint started to peel off. So my recommendation is to copy from anyone, do it over and over, keep trying new things, until you find a way of creating that is unique to you.

Eventually I started finding my way to a style of painting that was all my own. Even when I copied other painters, the paintings came out with my style embedded into the piece. Once I had my style,(which by the way will continue to evolve as I grow and develop my painting skills) I could start to build a body of work.

Next, I promise to address galleries.

Keep Making Art!