Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ride Home

A Painting - "The Ride Home" - weeks (and also years) in the making...

After years of moving about, never staying in one home more than a few years, I am thrilled to call Corvallis home. Getting here, however, was a curious personal and professional journey.

My mother actually introduced me to the world of arts & craft fairs, doing a couple local shows during those pre-holiday winter months and sharing her creativity with the community. When I was older and just starting out with a family myself, I would often help her out (she gets lines of people at her booth) and peruse the artists at show while I was there, thinking of my college days and my training as a painter. It was at one of these shows I noticed an artist, Brett Varney, who back then, was from the Bellingham, Washington area. I loved his unique method of using oil pastels with black paper as his base and translating nature and landscapes into fluidly whimsical designs. I had been out of art school for several years, and was working in the unrelated field of information systems, assuming that my art would be waiting for me in those retirement years, many years down the road. I was also living in Bellingham at the time, and as my interest in art was rekindled, began to follow this artist who also led me to another Bellingham artist, Ben Mann (with whom I had my first large gallery show). My interactions with these two vibrant and talented artists inspired me, and eventually led me down this wonderful path of being a full time artist, along with a very supportive husband.

Over time, and after a few successful shows, I finally decided to launch my new art career full time. My husband and I had already downsized our lives (and house), moving to Sedro-Woolley from Bellingham so that we could afford a single income lifestyle with my husband home raising the kids and pursuing his interest in writing. Needless to say, it was quite a leap of faith. But in this freelance lifestyle, we also knew we had found our opportunity to move one more time, choosing a more permanent place to live and raise our kids.

As I started working the show circuit, I once again looked to Brett for advice on shows to try. He quickly steered me to a lovely festival in a peaceful college town in Oregon. This festival, of course, was called the Corvallis Fall Festival. He also told me how a very nice director, Cynthia Spencer, helped him in his quest to move to Canada by providing confirmation of his art profession, and how he had been a poster artist for the festival too. I was intrigued. At the same time, my husband and I already had narrowed our search for a new home to Oregon. Growing up in the Puget Sound region of Washington I spent nearly every summer of my childhood camping on the Oregon Coast and loving every minute of it. And even though my sun loving husband from Eastern Washington preferred to go further South, we agreed that we didn't want to move too far from family and Grandparents. So, we spent the next two summers traveling through Oregon and looking for a good fit. I also signed up for my first Corvallis Fall Festival in 2007, hoping to get better acquainted with this community.

The Fall Festival weekend started well with good weather and a beautiful set-up in such a lovely park (nothing better than grass between the toes during an outdoor show). I was so pleased with all the talent represented at the show. I looked forward to a weekend of showing my art and getting to know the people. At the time, my daughter was still a year away from starting school, and my son was in 3rd grade. I quizzed people in my booth on the local schools, dance programs, library, swimming programs, arts support, and repeatedly asked their opinion of their community. What I got back was a resounding - we LOVE Corvallis. Even people who had moved away loved telling about the community and why they came back for Fall Festival.

Needless to say, the following year my family moved to Corvallis and we couldn't be happier with our choice. What I thought was only a distant dream has now become a reality - living where we want to live, and pursuing art as my career. I feel as if my life has come full circle, bringing me back to all the things I love and giving me the opportunity to share that love with my family, my community, and in my art.

Corvallis is now our home, where you will often find me around town walking our white Shepherd, volunteering at Adams Elementary, painting "en plein air" on one of the many trails, looking for a good book at the library, having coffee with a friend, watching my daughter's swim team practice at Osborne Aquatic Center and cheering my son and husband as they run in one of the many local races. My painting, "The Ride Home" is my celebration of this experience, and my offer of thanks to a community that has so enriched my life and that of my family.

I am thrilled and honored that my painting will be used as the Corvallis Fall Festival poster art for 2011. Since Brett first shared his Fall Festival stories with me, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to join him in the ranks of such talented Fall Festival artists. My most sincere thanks go out to the festival committee and to those kind artists who helped me find my way!

"The Ride Home"
Acrylic on Canvas
20 x 30 x 1.5 inches

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Painting Styles - One, Two, Three or More?

I am often told how my paintings are so "me", portraying a single painterly style. I am also often told my paintings reflect many styles. So which is it? Well, most likely both.

My college training pushed me to explore paint and techniques without being confined by more traditional methods. I think of it as letting the paint do the talking. As I create I build upon the previous layers, letting each brushstroke define the next. I feel a push-pull with the canvas as I work one area and then another, always remembering to reflect on the whole and let the building relationships of color, line, and shape, dictate the next stroke of paint. In this way, I feel my paintings are very cohesive.

However, I do approach my subject matter in very different ways giving me 2 distinctive qualities - what I refer to as impressionistic vs. the abstracted. I also will use different tools such as india ink pens and image transfers (applying acrylic gel to drawings) to alternately define my subject matter for a 3rd distinctive quality to my work. For example...

When I paint en plein air (outdoors), I am as much moved by the scene as the paint and incorporate more of the details presented to me in the painting. These paintings have a more impressionistic feel to them as I still incorporate my painterly approach.

My studio paintings, on the other hand, aren't confined by my surroundings and can take simpler, more abstracted forms as I rely on memories or impressions of the natural world. I find if I use photos for reference, my paintings become more forced and less spontaneous and therefore I avoid using them.

I enjoy both these methods for establishing my subject matter, and then enjoy pushing my painting styles a bit further by employing additional techniques...

drawing into my painting with India Ink pens and...

collaging image transfers into my design.

Each painting I create is a new experience. I work to keep each one fresh and unique - hopefully giving it the whimsical quality that keeps my paintings...well... "me".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

By the Numbers - Income Charts

I am often asked how I make my living as an artist (by customers as well as other artists). I understand. We all tend to imagine Van Gogh on the streets of France, penniless and unappreciated. Thankfully, today allows self representing artists such as myself more opportunities for showing and selling our art. To that end, for those of you graphically inclined, I thought you might enjoy a peek at my income by venue and product (in percentages, of course :-) These numbers take you up thru Sunday, April 17. Though Art Shows/Festivals are only bringing in about 35% of my income this time of year (after 3 shows thus far), by the Fall this number will increase significantly as I start traveling to more shows this summer. Of course none of these % would be possible without my hugely supportive customers! A BIG THANK YOU to everyone who has collected my art and supported me throughout the years!

Note: IK = Imagekind, FAA = Fine Art America, Misc includes direct sales from my studio as well as sales thru other galleries/shops.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Giclee Canvas Prints - a Comparison

One of the latest trends in Giclee printing is the Stretched Canvas Reproduction. These prints allow buyers to enjoy the look of original art at a more affordable print price. I have been offering this option thru a couple third party printers for the last few years, but with it's recent increase in popularity, I decided to provide my followers with a little more information (and real life pictures) to help in your purchasing decision.

(image left, provided by Imagekind - image right, provided by FineArtAmerica)


I originally hooked up with this printer (in 2008) for several reasons: They were local (Seattle based), had an excellent print quality, great customer service, easy shopping online tools, and easy seller image upload and reporting tools. Also, I met one of their very nice workers at a Seattle art show, giving them a personal appeal. Basically, they were ahead of the curve for online art retailers. Though they have since been bought by Cafe Press, they still maintain a Seattle (and Portland) printshop, and still offer the same great products and service as before. They have also been able to increase their online functionality, maintaining their position (in my opinion) as one of the easiest, well designed shopping and selling sites for art reproductions. They also recently added a higher profile to their stretched canvas line of reproductions, including a new 1.5 inch canvas depth (my favorite). When I placed my latest order, however, it was shipped from NC and therefore took longer than I expected. It was a great reproduction, however, and I can only guess that this new line of prints isn't yet available at all their print shops.

My lastest Imagekind purchase
"Whispered Secrets"
(Sold at my McMinnville show last month)

Printer: FineArtAmerica

I found this online reseller a little later, but have come to love them as they have quickly been filling a niche for art buyers and sellers alike. While Imagekind leads the 2D art reproduction market, including images from the past (masters, and the like) and present, FineArtAmerica (based on the East Coast) appeals to the buyer and seller in today's art market. They offer a means to sell many different forms of original art (e.g. sculpture) along with reproductions. They also provide a vibrant and active community with information on art shows, contests, and a source for art dealers and designers (recently teaming up with Disney studios). I find them to be a little less trendy and more about encouraging Fine Art. I also find them to offer the same high quality reproductions, and a leader in the canvas Giclee reproduction genre. I also found their customer service to be very responsive, as I had received the wrong type of print on my first order, but, after an error getting it corrected, they sent me the second print via overnight express at no charge. Therefore, I ended up with 2 prints for the price of one. Since I'm reselling them, it worked out fine.

My lastest FineArtAmerica purchase
"A Short Pause"
(also available in my ETSY shop)

I did like the gloss finish on the FineArtAmerica canvas a tiny better, and the wood stretcher seemed a bit heavier than the Imagekind canvas. Pricing being about the same, I would most likely lean to having my canvas reproductions for resale made by FineArtAmerica unless Imagekind was having one of their many sales (which they often do). Basically, it's a toss up!

So... why not give them a try? And here's a $10.00 off coupon for my FineArtAmerica shop to get you started! (Coupon code: UBULPJ)

Or... set up your own shop! They both have very affordable options for reselling your images online. Happy selling (and buying)!

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