Friday, February 29, 2008

Welcome to the Re-Launch Party ?

I have been staying up until the wee hours and then again mostly waking up in the wee hours, nervously unable to sleep, in my attempt to bring you all something new and exciting. At least I think it is exciting. Here we are at my self- imposed deadline and I don't have it yet. If patience is a virtue, then I don't seem to have it. I have been working, planning, editing, and dreaming (yes, this project has been haunting my dreams) but in the end, none of that matters. I can't give you all what I wanted to and I feel it in my aching heart, my sweaty palms, and my sleep deprived, addled brain...Wow! This is not what you tune-in here for is it?

SURPRISE! ( to you and me both, I wrote that passage early this morning, when things weren't looking too good, and then seconds after I wrote that, my NEW WEBSITE came online!)

You didn't know you were coming to a party today, did you? Well, you are my guests of honor! I am so excited to share the completely new, redesigned, and updated with my lovely blog readers first!

I hope you will enjoy visiting this comprehensive site of all my currently available work. It is simple, easy to use and navigate. My favorite feature is the slide show in the Work section. Enjoy viewing my work on a black background and watch each galleries collection go by. I personally think my colors really pop against the black background. This site enables you to know exactly where each of my paintings are currently, and at which galleries they can been viewed in.The galleries contact information and websites are readily displayed and easy to access as well. The Bio/Statement section contains exactly that, along with the galleries contact information again, and links to this blog, and my MySpace page. This was really important to me, as I wanted a "one stop" shop so to speak, linking all of my web presences together in one central location. Next, is the Resume page, and there you will find my current resume, listing select exhibitions and accomplishments spanning the last thirteen years of my art career. Following that page is Interview, where you can read the thoughtful interview I was given by California artist Tim Lane who created and writes the artist interviewing artist blog on MySpace. The next feature I am excited about is Podcast, just click on go to podcast archive, and you can hear the podcasts I recorded in conjunction with my exhibit, "According to the Vapors" at Gallery Fraga in Bainbridge Island, Washington. I will be adding more current podcasts as time allows. I love talking about my work and the concepts around it; and this is a great format for me to reach folks that I may never meet personally. My website concludes with my Contact page, enabling viewers to contact me directly for comments or questions about my work.

So, that is it. Welcome to the new and improved!

Please go and enjoy it, and let me know what you think! I am very proud of my new site, especially because I designed it all by myself, with the help of iweb on my new Mac- (and yes, the site looks a little better on a Mac, so if you have access to one, check it out there too, the slide show really comes alive!)

Oh yes, and after you enjoy it, please feel free to share it, post it on your blog, send the link to a friend, stumble it, anything you can think of that might be helpful in promoting my new site... thank you dear readers and thanks again for coming to my party, so glad we all could make it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

And the winner is....Me?

Wow- offer some free art and you all come out of the woodwork! Thank you for the tremendous response. I will now be making this a routine, so mark your calendars! Leave a comment (all the time) but make sure to do so, on the 3rd Friday of every month, as I will announce a winner of a small painting on paper the 4th Friday. I really wish I could give everyone who wrote in a painting! This month's recipient of the small painting pictured in this post is Suzannah! Congratulations! Please email me (you can find my email in my profile section of this blog) or myspace message me so I can get your postal information.

I want to especially thank my core group of readers that have been with me for quite a while, when no one was reading this blog. I thank you all for your positive encouragement and support; you don't know what your feedback does for my soul.

Now, with that said I also want my readers to understand that I don't just come up with all of this information on my own, I have done quite a bit of reading on the subject of marketing art and I am under the counsel of many wonderful gallery owners who have offered me their great advice. Here are just some of the books that I own on the subject, many of these can be found at your library or at your favorite retailer.

  1. Art Marketing 101- A handbook for the fine artist by Constance Smith
  2. Art Office- 80+ Business forms, charts, sample letters, legal documents and business plans for the fine artist by Constance Smith and Sue Viders
  3. How to survive and prosper as an artist- Selling yourself without selling your soul by Carol Michels
  4. The Artist's Way- Julia Cameron
  5. How to become a famous artist and still paint pictures- by W. Joe Innis
  6. Art & Fear-Observations on the Perils (and rewards) of art making by David Bayles and Ted Orland
  7. The War of Art-Break through the blocks and win your creative battles by Steven Pressfield.

Also I do frequent Alyson B. Stanfield's Art Biz blog as well. She offers a lot of helpful information, and I recommend it.

In my blog I try to synthesize all of these resources along with my own personal and practical experiences and then break it down into manageable chunks for you. I want to make sure you know that I am no art biz wizard- just someone like you who read and skimmed a few books and then decided to go for it to the best of my ability, just like you can. I do wish you luck on this journey.

On a different note, last night I went to sleep listening to music (the play list on my MySpace page no less). I love to fall asleep with music as it helps me linger into nostalgia and then guides me into dreams. I was thinking about the concept of acceptance and community and how crucial they are for our well being; acceptance of our true nature, of where we are in our lives, and in our art. A community of our peers is also incredibly important, I think especially for artists of all mediums; a place to express ourselves and receive acknowledgment.

Due to all the support and encouragement I receive from my readers, friends, and patrons; I am now enjoying feeling a part of a community and the acceptance that comes with it. It seems once you find this you are one step closer to freedom. When I feel free, I walk around with a smile on my face. Thank you for being a part of that smile. I have an old "post it" on my studio wall, it reads, "When I paint I feel powerful, clear, and challenged- this is the key." Perhaps, I need to write a new one that says, "When I blog, I feel connected, loved, and with purpose- and it feels great."

Until next week friends- make it creative...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Nuts and Bolts: How to get your work in a gallery.

This week I want to offer my advice on how to get your work into an art gallery. In previous posts I mentioned several ways I had done this but I now realize that it was a bit vague, and I wanted to be more specific this time around. As you know by now, it is unlikely anyone is going to discover you and your art miraculously or offer to be your patron and brag about your work to all they know. There are so many artists out there, and so many galleries and all of this can seem overwhelming. Step by step, you can increase your odds of getting your work on the walls of a gallery for all to see and enjoy.

First, this requires you to have been painting a consistent and documented body of work.If you are looking for a gallery, you should be at the stage where you have been painting regularly, and have some type of vision and voice for your work.You may have shown in several group shows, juried exhibits, art centers, collectives, and coffee shops. You know a good deal about why you work, and what your work is about.You may have sold work to friends, family, and an occasional client through the places you have shown or through your studio. Your work is fairly consistent in the quality of materials you use. You have titles for your work, and you can talk about your paintings. This is more than a hobby, you are a serious artist.

Alright once that is all taken care of, as I mentioned above you will need to have this work documented. It would be good if you had 10-20 images of your work photographed to the best of your abilities (there are some good online resources to help you with this, or you can always ask another artist how they take their photos.) Taking good quality photos of your work is a long and tedious process at first, but it is well worth it in the end. Your photographs can make the difference of you getting into a gallery or an exhibit and it is time and energy well spent. These images will be cropped, in focus, color corrected if needed, without hot spots, and at a high resolution. All of your images will have titles. (I know some of you may go for the untitled thing, and I once had a whole show of untitled work when I first started out, but I really wouldn't recommend it.) You will burn these images onto a CD. Along with your CD will be a image list, that will include the name of each painting, the size, medium, year, and price.

Next, you will have a well formatted resume. You will list all your art related accomplishments (edited within reason) to promote your most recent or important exhibits. When you are just starting out put as much as you can on that resume. You want to show that you are serious, and that you have been at this a while. Things to include: solo and group shows, art fairs, juried exhibits, any awards or scholarships, any teaching you may have done, education, publications, and any collections you may already be in. You want this to be an easy to scan one or two pages when you are trying to get into a gallery initially. Remember, gallery owners are busy, so make it neat, easy to read and understand.Your name and all your contact information will be on all pages of your resume.

Next, you want to include a bio/statement. A biography can be a simple short paragraph, stating where you were born, where you have recently shown your work, any art education you may have, influences or any important artist you may have studied with. Your artist statement is crucial as it also shows that you have given this whole artist thing some serious thought, and that you can talk about your work. This is not a whim for you. There are also many online tutorials and books at your library about crafting a good artist statement. Keep it short, make it easy to understand, not too artsy in lingo. Also, you can always take a hint from another artist's statement that you like. Don't rip them off just use their bio and statement as a guide. My bio/statement fits on one page, broken down into two separate paragraphs.

Okay, so you have 10-20 images on a CD, an image list, a resume, a bio, and a statement. Also if you have any postcards of your work from recent shows, include them. Even if you made them yourself. It shows that you are serious about promotion, or that others were serious about promoting your piece to draw attention to whatever show you were a part of. If your work was written about in the paper include those press blurbs. Just keep it neat and clean. Galleries want a clear idea about you and your work, not an envelope stuffed with press clippings. You can organize all of this in a small 8x10 portfolio or just a simple folder for your paper items and then your clearly labeled CD. Again, make sure everything is clearly labeled, you have to imagine your items might get separated, you have to make this as easy as you can for whomever comes into contact with your packet.

Now, it is time for research. If you are an abstract painter, I hope you have been visiting your local and regional galleries that carry abstract work(and likewise for all other styles of art). Go and visit these places often. Say hello or make eye contact, go to openings and events, get on the mailing list. Show your interest and support of their gallery. Feel them out, how do they treat non buyers, students, everyday folks that walk into their gallery. Do you like the way the gallery feels and is set up? Can you see your work fitting in the gallery, would it make sense there? Would your work offer something they don't have yet, but that would click well with what they do? When you are doing this research you are not talking about your work or trying to get seen, you are just quietly observing. If they ask if you are an artist say yes, and that you love their gallery (if you do) but don't launch into your spiel at that time. So, go to many galleries and do this same process and then check the websites for the ones you do like and see about their submission procedures or call and ask if they are accepting submissions. If they do not have an online submissions procedure, always call the gallery first and ask! Never show up with your paintings under your arms, never come in and tell them your life story about how you paint etc... Remember this is a business. You are basically looking at them as an employer of sorts, and first impressions do count.

Also, once you do know their submission procedure follow it to the letter. A gallery's submission process can be used as a screen of sorts to filter out the flakes. They are trying to figure out if they want to work with you. If they want 5 images, that is what you give them. If they want them emailed, that is what you do. etc. If they want you to include a stamped self addressed return envelope, then make sure it has proper postage and do it. Make sure the images are sized appropriately, labeled etc. You will want to have an idea of the prices you want to sell your work for as well, this also shows that you are serious and mean business. Your prices will be noted on your image list. Do some research, look at the prices currently in the galleries you are interested in, see if you can spot trends, look for work of the same size and style and note the price, if you are just starting out expect your prices to be lower than an established gallery artist. Also remember that most galleries take a 50 percent commission on the sale of your work. If the gallery is interested in you, they may help you make better choices regarding your prices if they are too high or too low in the beginning, but don't expect this.

Also, another tip. If you know an artist that is represented by a gallery that you like or are considering, don't hesitate to ask them for a little help to get your foot in the door. They may or may not help you in the end; that is up to them, but it never hurts to ask. I had help in this way in the past, and I gladly give it today.

So, there is a lot of work involved in getting into a gallery, and once you get in it doesn't stop. There are contracts to understand and sign, business meetings to have, new work to take in and trade out, and openings to attend. You are also keeping in contact with your gallery via email or newsletter to let them know what is going on with your work or any new accomplishments. This will excite them and keep you in the front of their minds and give them talking points when they try to sell your work. Don't forget to keep painting! Remember this is just one way to make a go of it in the art business.

You don't have to go this route, you can sell from websites, Etsy, coffee houses, art centers, special events and studio sales if you want to. You need to decide what your vision is for your art career and stay true to that vision. Art galleries can expand your market capabilities, they can help you with the business aspects of larger commissions and breaking into corporate collections. They can help promote your work in publications. They have connections, clients, and trusted relationships because they are a reputable business that you as a lone artist may never create on your own.

Also remember that all galleries are not created equal, so be sure you feel confident in your research. Talk to other artists that are represented by the gallery you are considering before you get involved. You need to feel you have a trusted partner in your gallery, not another headache.

Wow- I hope you are still with me, and excited about the idea of getting your fabulous art into a gallery or two or more...You can do this, little by little. Good Luck!

Now, for an exciting announcement: I have decided that I will be giving away a small original painting on paper to one lucky reader that leaves me a comment on today's blog. I will mail to anywhere in the world. To enter, please leave a comment in this blog entry. I will randomly draw a number to correspond with the comments in the order they are received. The giveaway runs from today through Tuesday of next week, so get your comment in between now and Tuesday. I'll post the winners name in my blog next Friday, along with an image of the piece they will receive so please be sure to check back, so that I can then contact you to get your postal information. If the response for this is good, I will start doing this once every month!

I must give credit for this give away idea to fellow blogger and jewelry designer Julie Joliat, so check out her blog too.

A Veiled Understanding
10x10" mixed media on canvas by Megan Chapman
Coming soon to a gallery near you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Inspiration Grab Bag.

Today is simple. I want to share a few of my favorite things. These things move me, inspire me, light a fire under me, and maybe some of them are just cool. Enjoy!

The Call Up by The Clash. This is a perfect song.This always gets me fired up.

Hal Hartley makes films that make me want to dance. They are nostalgic and theatrical.

Interpol- always inspires and sounds better and better...

Andy Warhol was never at the top of my list, but he is a fascinating character. I just recently watched PBS American Master's:Andy Warhol documentary, and it contains amazing footage. I feel like I finally understand him and find him even more intriguing and important.

I like this old grainy footage, I like to see artists, such as Pollock and others in the act of creation.

Alright, that is it. I told you today would be simple, and I hope you enjoyed the show...

One last thing, if you are local to Northwest Arkansas, please go check out the CRAFTING CONTENT exhibit.This is a juried show of contemporary clay artists from all over the country. According to a statement in the brochure by Jeannie Hulen, the mission of the Crafting Content:Ceramic Symposium is to "embrace the full potential of the ceramics medium and its pedagogy. The material is multifaceted; and the artists involved in shaping the future of ceramics, are crafting content with visual and conceptual eloquence." So, basically if you are a fan of conceptual art you will like this show, as the artists selected to participate are breaking the stereotypes normally associated with the ceramic and clay arts.The main galleries for the event are at the University of Arkansas Anne Kittrell Gallery and the U.A Fine Arts gallery, as well as the DDP gallery downtown. Benjamin Schulman, assistant professor of Art and Art History, from Drury University in Springfield Missouri curated the exhibit. I enjoyed the show, and highly recommend it. My personal favorite was the work of David East. Don't let this show pass you by.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Riding on the Currents - New Work 2008

In recent posts I mentioned that I had returned to the studio and had been working on the beginnings of a new body of work. Well, the time has come to share my ten latest creations with you.

In these ten works, I used a slightly brighter palette, and as a result these works have a lighter quality than some of my paintings. I am experimenting with many of the same design elements(the oval, the curved diamond or lotus leaf) yet I wanted to connect the shapes or position them in a different way than usual. The curved diamonds are touching and sometimes overlapping at the sides but are now moving across the painting in a diagonal. The smaller ovals have now multiplied as they overlap and become frenetic layers. Graphite pencil also plays an important role in these works. These paintings reflect my ever increasing love of design yet still connect to my love of color, texture, and mystery.

The design elements/motifs/organic shapes seem to have a reoccurring floating motion to them. Sometimes they are blowing in the wind, like in the painting, "riding on the currents" where the elements tumble about, shifting through the warm colored space that surrounds them. In"bending back," the elements are now gently tethered and are perhaps taking on a stiff wind as they are caught bending but not breaking and then floating amongst themselves.

In the painting "a veiled understanding" the elements are being pulled up as if in a vacuum. I sense the space around these objects, the band of streaky blue may have caught one or two of the shapes momentarily as they float upwards. The colors in this piece are cool, and layers of under-paintings can be seen slightly beneath the surface.

In the piece, "surrender into this ocean," the curved diamonds hover in the diagonal formation over the atmospheric blue, and slightly breaking into or free of the red on the left of the painting.The earthy emerald green streaks within the shapes are jagged, and almost look as if they are receiving transmissions or static as they float up and away.

In the painting, "unspoken truths," secrets are bubbling up deep from within the earth and then being released once they hit the surface. The ovals fill the top band of the painting, feverishly overlapping; they can't get out fast enough.

The seven square paintings are all 10x10" mixed media on canvas, two paintings are 20x16" with the one horizontal 16x20" piece. You can read the titles of the pieces by simply placing your mouse over the image. I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek of my latest works. These paintings will soon be released into the world, and coming to a gallery near you.