Friday, March 30, 2012

Pay to Play

I received an email recently from publishers of AKC Family Dog (according to them, "the most widely distributed canine magazine in the world!"). In the email, they tell me that my work has been recommended by the editors to be included in the July/August issue.....

Trout Dreaming

8x10 inches, watercolor

But of course, this isn't free. $395 to "offset production costs". Hmmmmmm. So basically they've chose me to pay for space to advertise. Then not moments later, the CAG crew emails came in. Apparently the majority got the same email which made me think that I wasn't very special anymore and this was a blanket email. I'm not going to do it, mind you. It's just too expensive... but they way they worded it, it did make me feel kinda special.

Then there are the vanity galleries. Vanity galleries (not to be confused with co-ops which are another thing) will approach an artist like myself with the space and location that all artists dream of. They want to take your work and hang it for a couple of months, like an exhibition, but you have to pay a fee up front to be there. No guarantee that your work will sell, hell, they don't have gallery people there to help you. YOU do all the marketing, selling, working.... wait, isn't this what galleries are supposed to do for me? Why should I pay someone to hang my work in there space? Sure they may claim that they have tremendous foot traffic... but how do I know that? Or they have testimonials from other artists that this was a great experience and "I learned a lot." I don't need to pay to learn a lot anymore. I finished paying student loans years ago and have no intention of doing it again (anytime soon anyway).

Bands have this to; it's called Pay to Play. There are organizations out there who will get a couple of bands together... and give each player x amount of tickets. Then the band players have to go out and sell all their tickets to their shows. Wouldn't be so bad if the bands didn't have to charge their friends $10 for a ticket. But because there are venues that will have bands play, maybe give them discounted beer if not a free one, and the profits made at the door is split by the band. It's never a lot of money, but I think it's better than putting your friends in a awkward position by having to buy a ticket for 10 bucks ahead of time.

I've only heard bad things about vanity galleries and pay to plays. Maybe you have a good experience you like to share with me? I would love to hear about it.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trying new things

Someone told me once, to keep everything fresh in your art, you MUST try new things. Whether it be a different medium, or even subject matter, it will help you grow as an artist.

When T gave me that box of water based oils last Christmas, she also gave me the tiniest canvas that was 2x2 inches. It even has special cute little staples in the back to hold the canvas in place. I recently painted some flowers on it. I brought it to my office job to remind me that I am an artist first.


oil on canvas

2x2 inches

Another thing I've been doing is experimenting with different backgrounds on the pet portraits. Salt is a great thing to play with in watercolor. Science will tell you that salt absorbs up water if place on it (that's why they spray salt on the roads when it snows.... to prevent freezing and ice). So if you sprinkle some salt on wet paint and leave it there for a couple of minutes, you'll get this really cool texture that almost looks like rock or something. I did it on the background of this collie.

Playing with Salt

Tri Color Collie

5x7 inches

I've also been ditching the pencil overlay on the watercolor pencils. I think I was using them more as a crutch (as in: oh, I'll just fix that highlight later with pencil). I finished up that ream of reams of Cotman paper where I would ALWAYS use the pencil and I think that had a lot to do with it as well.

Salty detail

Pretty cool effect, huh? Looks like the paper has a texture almost....

What are you going to do to break out of the box?

Friday, March 9, 2012


There is a growing fear out there. It's been there a while but with the newest addition on the social media stage, Pinterest, it has been raising it's ugly head again:


Babyface Caterpillar

2006 watercolor and colored pencil

5x7 inches

Oh wouldn't it be grand if we could all feel secure about sharing our photos and artwork with out having to worry that someone would actually "steal" our work, claiming it to be there own and using it for God only knows what. Back when I was in art school (early 90s) I remember that they briefly touched on copyrights. My professors said, as long as you make that "C" with the circle around it, date it and sign it... it's yours. And that may still be true, but it doesn't stop the thieves and I'm not sure how well it would hold up in court.

Some people have spoken about putting "watermarks" on their images (you know, the white overlay that says 'Joe Blows Photography Copyright 2012'). Others try not to do that saying that it takes away from the image. Which I believe is kind of true. What is also kind of true is that if someone wants to use your photo/art... they will find a way. Watermark or no.

Now with Pinterest and the ability to "pin" images to other pages (that somehow ties into Facebook), there are artists starting to freak about not knowing who is looking at your work, who's pinning your work. I don't know a whole lot about Pinterest, I've only recently been on the website, but from what I understand, you pin something and if someone else would click it, it would take you to the original website where it came from... well, not really. In fact, I was just on there.... it will list the website where the "pin" was created under the image on your "pin board". You can click it to navigate over to that website.

So why all the commotion? If you're a creative person, don't you want people to see your stuff? As long as it has my name on it (AND ALL MY PAINTINGS WILL HAVE MY NAME ON IT - FRONT AND BACK) I figure I'm doing what I wanted to do all along... have people look at my work.

I do want to note that I am taking a moment to collect all the images of my work and send them off to the government to have it "officially copyrighted" and protected from all the haters out there. Go here and see how easy it is: .

J's sister is a copyright attorney in Chicago (another warning to all you haters out there.) I asked her briefly once about copying images. She made an interesting point. If an artist makes a painting of a still life, let's say of a skull, apples and a porcelain bowl... sets it up in an interesting way.... and then someone copies it identical to the first artist, that's copyright infringement. However, if the second artist would use a skull, apples and a porcelain bowl, sets it up the same way but paints from that particular still life -THIS IS PERFECTLY LEGAL.

"Good artists copy. Great artists steal" - Pablo Picasso

Friday, March 2, 2012

If you've been following my posts, you'll remember my recent discovery of waterbased oils... LOVE THEM. I received a starter set from my friend T for Christmas last year. I went online and did a little reading about waterbased oils and got some mixed reviews. One was often repeated that they just "weren't the real thing." Well, that maybe true, but considering that I haven't painted with oils in about 20 years, it's like I don't know if I'm missing anything.

If you've purchased paints before in a starter set, you know that you usually have the basic colors; red, blue & yellow. You'll get white, maybe black. And if it's a lil more extended, a green or another shade of yellow or blue or red. If you've ever taken any sort of color theory class, you know that all colors are created using your primaries of red, yellow and blue. Here's the thing, you can spend hours and tons of paint trying to mix that perfect brown. And that's what I was doing with the starter set. Here I am mixing and mixing and I'd get it and then to create more quantity (because I had a big space to fill) add more and boom! that perfect brown is gone. Again. Well, I wasn't ready to buy more paint, Lord knows I have enough art supplies to sink a boat, so I started working on Luna's portrait with the starter set.

Luna's Portrait in Oil

first layer

16x20 inch

So I think I got as far as I could before I realized, "God, I'm using up all my blue!" and thought that I really can't get the blacks I wanted but these primaries alone. I believe I could, but again, would take forever and a day and use up most of my paint. Not to mention, I forget sometimes how slowly oil dries. I've been working with watercolor for so long. So I would start painting and try to fill in a truly darker space only to have it mash with the paint that was already on the canvas (the left side of Luna's face in the first layer was a real sticking point to me). I had to get the Burnt Umber and Sienna that I use all the time in my watercolors. I trotted off down to my local art supply store and sadly I find out that they're not selling Windsor Newton brand, but another called Echo (?) ... hmmmmm. The guy at the counter was kind enough to give me a sample of the Echo colors and placed a special order for me for the WN brand.

I went home and tried this Echo brand... eh. They're certainly not as "thick" as the WN so it was more of a wash than more saturated color. Which to me is more of a pain in the butt. Because again, these paints take a very long time to dry, so if I wanted to make my paint more saturated on the canvas, it just ended up swirling around and not sticking. I decided to wait for the WN before I continued on the Luna portrait again.

And waited and waited... ugh! I called on the following Friday to see if they were in and they weren't. Then I got a call on Monday that the orders came in but "we don't know why but yours wasn't in there." UGH! By this time I'm chomping on the bit to get crackin at the painting ESPECIALLY since it hangs out in my kitchen so I'm looking at it every day! So they were kind enough to give me 20% off for the mix up and the paints should be in this Monday... we shall see. In the mean time, I went to another art store and picked up the WN sienna & umber. I would've liked to stick with my small art supplier, but if you're not carrying the things I need what choice do I have?

Luna's Portrait in Oil

So with umber and sienna and some new smaller canvases I'm ready to take on more paintings with waterbased oil paints. Now, the real question is: who will buy them? Because I can't keep doing this and stacking up canvases in my already too small condo.

Luna Loves You!