Thursday, April 29, 2010

The "Oh Shit" Moment...

Recently I was priviledged enough to get representation by two galleries, one in San Francisco (Artzone 461 Gallery) and one in Kansas City (Blue Gallery). This, in it self, is pretty awesome and I am very excited to be showing my work at these fine establishments. Artzone 461 currently has 12 of my paintings and I just shipped 11 more to Blue Gallery today and yesterday (additionally, I have work in several other galleries/ with consultants, but these two places have the bulk of it). I was so excited that Kelly Kuhn, from Blue Gallery, wanted my work that I immediately said yes and packed them up to be shipped. Yesterday as I was pulling work off my walls I had an "oh shit" moment. I have only 6 paintings left at my studio and I have a solo show at Ampersand Gallery in Portland, OR in mid June and they need at least 20 paintings. CRAP! I don't have enough work anymore!!!

Now, I realize that I did this to myself and, truthfully, it's not such a horrible problem to have. Three galleries want to show my work, poor me, right? But it's the end of April and I am realizing that I have a little over a month to get about 14 paintings done. If this was summer and my teaching job was over, this would be no problem. I am a pretty fast painter and can get a painting done in two days if I was in the studio at least 5 hours a day. But since I am still working fulltime and I also tutor two kids in advanced math after work (finals are coming up soon so I know I will be putting in some extra hours there), getting into the studio for at least 5 hours a day will be hard unless I work into the night. Forget about seeing my fiance or friends in the next 6 weeks. I am in painting mode, full force.

So can I do it? Can I paint at least 14 paintings (probably more since the work that I have left in my studio don't follow the "summer" theme of the show) in a little over 40 days? I don't know if it's possible but I am going to try my hardest to get it done! (Kids, don't try this at home.)

Stay tuned for updates on what is sure to be a crazy month and a half for me!

Images: A work in progress that I was leisurely working on until yesterday. It's too large for me to ship (40" x 30") and the gallery wants small pieces, so this painting will have to be put on hold while I complete all of the smaller pieces (12" x 12" and 16" x 16") for the June show.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Gallery Representation at Blue Gallery, Kansas City, MO

I am extremely excited and proud to announce that Blue Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri will now be showing my work and representing me! Eleven of my paintings will be packed up and shipped there and ready for viewing by May 7th. If you are in the area, stop by and see my work in person!

Blue Gallery
118 Southwest Blvd.
Kansas City, MO

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two New Paintings

I recently finished two new paintings. One is my self portrait which is for the self portrait show, June 12th - 30th, at the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City Utah. Some of you may recognize the image from the encaustic painting I did in the Jeff Schaller workshop a few years back. I liked the image so much that I wanted to paint it in the current style I was working in. I am pretty happy with it and think that it's a successful painting.  It is 24" x 12" and was done in oil and encaustic wax.

The second painting I finished is titled "Lounging at the Beach". I love the way her skin turned out and how you can see her tan lines, making this a bit more sexy. The position of the woman on the panel is nice too, making this piece stand out from the rest. I'd have to say that this is my favorite so far from my bathers/ swimmers series. This painting is 12" x 12" and also done in oil and encaustic wax.

Another Open Studios Come and Gone

Spring is here and another Open Studios has come and gone. Some of us had a pretty successful event with a good amount of sales, while others (myself included) not so much. As artists, we are supposed to find intrinisic value for what we do. Creating a painting that we are both proud of and excited about should be a reward in itself. So why does it feel so bad that I didn't make a significant sale all weekend?

I realize that as an artist I shouldn't equate my own validation with sales, after all Van Gogh didn't make a single sale while he was alive and no one would say now that he was not a great artist, but it's really hard to keep up moral when what I made over the weekend couldn't buy dinner for four in a third world country.(Okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't good either.) So what does one do after a weekend like this? I could sit and mope about it and make myself feel worse (which I did think about doing), or I can find the positive and focus on that. I have chosen the latter and this is what I found:

1. People had a lot of great things to say about my work. Most people were amazed that I hand painted each image and had done so so well.

2. People are starting to recognize my work and my name. A lot of people commented that they had seen my work at Artzone 461 Gallery (which currently has 12 of my paintings being shown there) and had come specifically to see more of my paintings. There were other comments about how people had seen my work online or elsewhere and were happy to finally meet me.

3. I got some commissions out of this. It's a huge compliment when people trust you with their family photos and want you to paint them as a gift for someone they love.

4. People were walking around other studios with my postcards and telling their friends how much they love my work (as overheard by Ben many times).

5. The more times I participate in an Open Studios, the more recognizable my work will be and the likelihood that someone will buy my paintings in the future increases. This is called "paying my dues". Just as in music where a beginning band has to play the midweek show to only three of their closests friends, it takes time to build a fan base and gain enough experience to start playing at the big venues with the bigger audiences. People are starting to take notice, as well as galleries. Sales will eventually follow the compliments and I will be making a good living as an artist. The key is to not get discouraged and to keep on trucking. If I continue to make quality art, people will start to realize the value of it and start buying it. In the meantime, I will try and not get discouraged or take it personally. Thank you to those people who stopped by and had some great comments about my work!
Image of me in my studio by Rosemarie Hughes-Croucher. Allother images were taken by me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The GOOD Gallery

I have had a few galleries reperesent me in my art career and until recently, the experience was not good. When I first started painting and showing my work 12 years ago, I was picked up by a pretty large gallery in San Diego. I was extremely excited, and naive. I didn't know about contracts or how to deal with gallery directors. I was just so excited to be having solo shows once a year at gallery. I mean, that's what I thought it was about...having a gallery show your work and represent you, right?

Well for the first two years, it was nice. My painting were selling and I was in numerous group and solo shows. But then the gallery owner/director stopped taking my calls and returning my emails. I was supposed to receive about 8 of my paintings back for open studios and never received them. Months later when I finally got a hold of the woman, she said she sent my paintings months ago and didn't I receive them? Well since she never called to tell me she had shipped them (months after I actually requested them, by the way), I didn't know to expect them. The delivery was sent to the wrong address and someone else signed for them. My paintings were lost forever. The gallery owner basically told me I was on my own and good luck in filing a claim against FedEx cause she was not responsible. After this, she was even worse about answering calls or emails. I finally got frustrated and drove to San Diego when she wasn't there and loaded as many of my painting that I could find into my Honda Civic and cut ties. There were still at least two large paintings that she sold that I never got paid for and a few smaller paintings that I couldn't find in my painting heist. I was not the only person she had done this to and the gallery finally went out of business.

The second time I had a gallery approach me (after a 6 year break from painting), I thought I would be wiser about it. I researched the gallery and talked to another artist who was going to be represented by them also. They seemed like a good fit and it was nice to say that I was an international artist since the gallery was in Banff, Alberta Canada. But once again the communication was lacking. After two years of not feeling like I was getting what I needed from this gallery, and not selling work there, I decided to pull my work and sent a nice email explaining the situation. Big surprise, it was ignored. Actually the next ten emails and requests were ignored. After many months and many emails, I did get one unfriendly email back that said I would get my painting by the end of is now mid April and I still have not received my paintings. I am now having to file a lawsuit in order to get my paintings back and am not looking forward to the hassle.

You would think after these two experieneces I would be a little gun shy about having Artzone 461 Gallery represent me, but after years of visiting the gallery in person, I got a really good feeling from them. They are always great about communicating with me, but the ultimate proof in how great this gallery is, was this past Saturday at my first opening reception there.

Artzone 461 was packed with art admirerers. People were enjoying the art, drinking wine, talking to artists, and generally having a great time, myself included. And then I hear a crash right behind me. The nightmare of all gallery opening nightmares had just happened. Someone knocked over one of my paintings and damaged it. I was heart broken and on the verge of tears (and the woman who did it didn't even apologize and walked away). Antonio, from Artzone 461, was immediately there besides me assessing the damage. When he saw how upset I was, he hugged me and told me it was going to be okay. Actually he had to hug me a few times because I was that upset. He told me to not to worry, the gallery would take care of this and to not let it ruin my opening. He helped me find the chunk of wax that was chipped off and put the painting away for safe keeping. Throughout the night, both Erik and Steve hugged me and told me how sorry they were that it had happened and that the gallery would take care of the situation, don't worry. They were very comforting and made me feel better about the situation.

When I first started talking to Steve Lopez about showing my work there he said that the artist comes first and after this experience, I really do believe him. I had never felt like I came first with  the two other galleries in the past, but Artzone 461 Gallery really makes me feel like I am a priority there. When I came in the next morning to see the damage of my painting, Steve and I discussed what my options were. Not once did I feel like I was going to have to deal with this problem alone or that it was my problem alone. They took responsibilty and took action. I knew that my work and I were being taken care of. THIS is how a gallery should treat an artist. Other galleries could learn a lesson from these guys.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Favorite Artist of the Month: David Imlay

Everyone has had a crush before. You meet or see someone who makes you feel excited or good inside just thinking about them and it's a great feeling. Crushes are good. Crushes make you feel alive. Artists have crushes much like everyone else, but instead of the person making you feel good, it's their art. David Imlay is my art crush.

I first saw David's artwork in 2008 at the Reaves Gallery, where both of us were showing our work at the time. He had these amazing photo-realistic oil paintings of San Francisco neighborhoods that took my breath away. They were beautiful with their rich colors and stunning accuracy. At that time, I hadn't started my "Forgotten Memories" series using old photographs as my inspiration but always had a fondness for nostalgia and anything vintage. David's paintings are powered by nostalgia. In his artist statement he states that "he hopes to connect the viewer with the plurality of fleeting nostalgia and hope." I think that is why I am so drawn to them. They remind me of my days growing up in Southern California and my early years here in San Francisco.

If you haven't experienced David Imlay's artwork in person, you need to do so and do it soon. I'm sure you will find yourself a new art crush, like I did.
"143 San Clemente" 30" x 40"

"Dad", 16" x 20"

"Eat Diner", 30" x 40"

"Evening Lights 1", 24" x 24"
(This is one of my favorites!)

"No Parking", 20" x 20"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interesting Observations...

This Friday and Saturday I spent my days at the NASA Ames Research Center for Yuri's Night, a two day science, art, and music event that looks like what I would imagine Burning Man would be like if it was held at a high security, federal facility. It was an interesting weekend to say the least. Friday was easy enough since it was mostly school groups and kids with their parents. I was in my booth alone and had some interesting conversations with parents, teachers, and scientists regarding my artwork. Saturday was a different story altogether.

Since it was the weekend, Ben, being the devoted husband-to-be that he is, decided to help me out and keep me company during the 12 hour event. He sat next to me reading while I said hello to people as they stopped by my booth. Occassionally he would look up and say hi also but had very little interaction with people. So here's the interesting observation of the day: Even with my greeting people and interacting with them, and having my name posted really large at the front of the booth, 9 times out of 10, they assumed that Ben was the artist! He was constantly asked if the artwork was his, or asked how did he create each piece, or just complemented on HIS beautiful work. Now I didn't get too upset by this but it did get me thinking about people's assumption about art and who creates it.

Having taken a few workshops and attended the encaustic conference twice, I've noticed that the majority of the artist that attend these are women. Based on this observation, one can assume there are a lot of women artist out there, yet when you look in galleries and museums, the majority of the artists whose work is shown is male. Why is that? And does this make the average person assume that only men are capable of making good art? I don't really know the answer to this but I did find it interesting, especially since people assumed that Ben was the artist and not me. Does my work seem more male than female? I know that there is some work that I can look at and pretty reasonably guess the artists' gender but I didn't think that my work looked particularily male. I have been told that my drawings look more male than female, mostly because I draw using a heavy dark line which is supposedly a male trait, but I don't think that bleeds into my painting, or does it? Like I said, I don't know the answers to any of these questions but it was an interesting observation this weekend and it sure did make me think.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

So Busy, So Very Busy

I haven't been able to blog much lately with my soon-to-be mother-in-law in town visiting for 5 days (she left Thursday after a fun visit), plus trying to get enough paintings done for my Artzone 461 show and open studios, and then throw in a 2 day event at the Ames Research Center (NASA) where I have a booth and am displaying my work. Needless to say, I have been one very busy person with little time to blog or respond to emails.

The NASA event, "Yuri's Night", was from 9am to 3pm yesterday and consisted of thousands of children and their parent's or teachers, in an air hanger going to science and art booths doing various activities. They made LED lights, slime, and rockets ships among other things. Some of the kids were confused once they got to my booth and asked what they were supposed to do in there. I had to tell them " It's art. You just look at it and appreciate it." Some were able to appreciate the art, others just walked away. A lot of kids and parents were very interested in watching me draw and were amazed at my skills. I got some good comments from parents but overall, I'm not sure how productive it was for me and my hands hurt from drawing all day.

Today's event is from noon until midnight... translation? It's going to be a LONG day and night. At least this day has musical performers and is more geared towards adults. Ben is also going to be there to keep me company and help out. I'm sure the place will be packed!

So you may be asking why I am doing this event. Well I decided that it would be a good way to get my name out there and advertise my upcoming shows. I don't expect many sales, if any, from this event but if I get a few fans from this, I will be happy. If I get a few people to take my postcards and look me up online, I'm happy. If a few people then decide to show up to the gallery opening next week or my open studios, I'm happy. Being an artist isn't only about painting and selling artwork. I understand that you need to market yourself and advertise in order to be successful. I figured this event was a good way to network and advertise in an unfamiliar setting for me. Plus, I am in a giant hanger at a NASA research center! How cool is that? I know by the end of this that a few more people will know my name and are a bit more familiar with my work. I'm building a name for myself and sometimes that means two days of handing out postcards and answering questions at a festival.