Thursday, November 29, 2007

Low-Cal, Lite, and Gallery-Free

This is Autumn Blossom I. It is one of my larger pieces at 30 x 47". Do you think this is taking up space on a gallery wall? No. It is at home. On my wall. This is one of the lucky ones that sees the light of day. I have a large dresser in my studio where the vast majority of my work resides.

I have been wanting to have my work in a gallery. I have had my work in a gallery. Two in fact. But not at the same time. Local galleries. My work has never been displayed far from home. I have tried. Early this year I sent out three portfolios. Through the internet I researched hundreds of galleries to find appropriate places for my work. None of them too upscale, none of them little country shops. I made a list, checked it twice. Then sent out three portfolios. Nice ones. Several pages of color photos. Price list. What I thought was a good cover letter. Quite professional looking. Postage paid return envelopes!!!!!!! Was there a response? Not one! Did they return the portfolios in their postage paid return envelopes????? Not one!! What does that have to say about me? What does that have to say about the galleries I chose?

Why would a gallery give no response? Too busy? Isn't this their line of work, though? Would I want to deal with these galleries in the future? Would I feel comfortable buying anything from these galleries? Certainly not. And I do buy from galleries. Not often, but it happens. These galleries I I will never visit. Are these three galleries representative of all galleries? Could be!

Should I try another round of galleries? Do hours and hours of research? Have color prints made of 15-20 pieces? Put them in a nice folder? Pay to send them out? Pay to have them sent back (ha)? Ooooh, I can't wait. I actually enjoy sticking things under my fingernails and banging my head on brick walls.

If there is a burner way in the back, that is where the gallery idea is simmering for now.

I am going to treat my website as a gallery. I will market it. Give out cards, brochures, postcards. Perhaps I will research online galleries. Has anyone out there had any luck with this? I have seen my Ebay sales drop off, and my Etsy sales are none, but the website sales have improved (significantly). As the old saying goes, "If it aint broke, don't fix it." That shall be my motto for the upcoming year.

I will make what I want, sell it (maybe, eventually), keep 100% of the selling price, thrive and grow rich and strong. I will have all my work around me and won't have to worry about its safety in a gallery. I will overlook the fact that I will have to deal with selling myself, packing and shipping (and associated supply purchasing), overstuffed drawers, and that pesky feeling of gallery rejection. I will continue to visit and purchase at galleries that don't tick me off, although their numbers are getting fewer.

Anybody out there have any positives on not having gallery representation?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Here to Stay (?) is a New Bird

Here is my newest piece "Fly South", 15 x 10". I'm still in my Autumn mode although we are gray and brown now here in Central Pennsylvania. I am pretty much always into Autumn mode. I love the colors and am not too interested in following color trends. I do like other colors and have made many pieces involving pinks, purples and greens, yet I ALWAYS go back to fall colors.

Not only is the Christmas season upon us, it also seems to be art donation season. I have had two requests to donate pieces for good causes recently, so I guess I need to dig up a couple of pieces and write inspirational words to accompany them. It is always hard to just give up one of my pieces. I feel as if I am insulting it. I have always given human qualities to inanimate objects. I still have stuffed animals from childhood -- I would feel like a murderer just throwing them in the trash. Perhaps I should come up with the "available for donation series". I need some ideas for artwork that will appeal to all (is there such a thing).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank You

OK, so another picture that won't load. I wanted to show the background of my commission. I'm really enjoying working on this piece so far. I can't figure out why I have computer issues when I am in a hurry.

I figure it is time for me to be thankful.

Here's my top 7.

1. Husband, best friend, web manager.
2. Spontaneous creative department (5-year-old daughter).
3. Supportive parents and in-laws (fortunate to still have all of them)
4. Four great nieces.
5. Paying customers.
6. Sister and brother-in-law who bring the family together at Thanksgiving (and many other times) and NOT requiring me to cook anything.
7. People out there who spend their time and money attempting to convince our government to do what is right for the people of our country and the rest of the world.

I would make a top ten list, but it is time to get going. Will return soon with photos and hopefully, more to say about what I am thankful for.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

If You're Square and You Know it, Raise Your Hand

In Junior High School, I made a D in geometry. I did not go further in the world of math than that (it was much easier to get into college in the old days). So, at times, I am surprised I am able to quilt. Pioneer women who never learned to read had a far better grasp on geometry than I will ever have. Most of those women quilted. Using triangles and other shapes that I do not know the names of. They made eight-pointed stars out of cloth!

I like squares and rectangles. They generally like me. We get along. I like the challenge of limiting myself to these shapes. It makes me grow as a person. I like to rationalize.

Years ago, I went to a seminar called "the business of art". The speaker asked us to raise our hand when our favorite shape was called. First was "triangle". 40% of the audience raised their hands. The second was "circle", 59.5% raised their hands (there were approximately 200 people in attendance). The third was "square". I raised my hand. I was alone. Then the speaker told us what our favorite shapes had to do with our personalities. The "triangles" were go-getters. Nothing could stand in the way of these brilliant, creative people. The "circles" were also quite creative, but in a more contemplative way. They were relaxed, popular people and easy to be around (no pun intended). The "squares" (me and me alone), were not creative and were unable to think outside of the box. We should be accountants. The room was filled with laughter. I felt shamed. At the time. I feel shamed no more.

I love the square. I am a square. They did not give the option of choosing "rectangle" at the seminar. I probably would have chosen that over the square. Just marginally. The rectangle is more versatile. It fits almost everywhere. But, I am a square. I accept that.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Why Panic?

Those Christmas trees (fake, of course) popping up in stores everywhere should have been a warning. So should the holiday tunes playing in the department stores (2 weeks ago, when I was shopping for sweaters, for me). I paid no attention. I had undergarments to buy. I had food to buy. I had face cream and children’s jammies to buy. Then I had a look at my daughter’s school menu and wondered why they were only serving food two days next week. There were days with blanks. Empty squares. Why? Does the school endorse (enforce) fasting. No. Next week is Thanksgiving. The big kickoff.

Why should I panic? Plenty of time for Christmas shopping. Actually, that was being factored into my upcoming trip to New York City. Time off for Thanksgiving. Time off for vacation. Some more time off for Holiday decorating, party planning, gift buying, gift wrapping, baking, relaxing with friends and family. Why panic? Oh, yeah. The commission. Gotta squeeze that in.

Why do I get worked up about this stuff?
I go to bed at 11:30 on New Year’s Eve. I get a name list at my daughter's school to scribble 20 kids’ names on store-bought Valentine’s cards on February 13th. I avoid GREEN beer. I detest (am frightened of) 4th of July fireworks, I can sew but DO NOT sew Halloween costumes (although I love Halloween), I detest turkey AND cranberry sauce. But the thought of not doing just one of my traditional Christmas activities thoroughly depresses me. WHY CAN’T I RELAX, do little, and absolutely enjoy Christmas? MUST HAVE COMPLETION. Or close to it.

I must have this commission (shown badly photographed above) well underway in order to enjoy the holidays. I just started cutting fabric for it two days ago, and if I do say so myself, it seems to be moving right along. I mustn’t think about how far there is to go. Must finish cutting and designing (yes, I do not design much ahead of time, I prefer to design on the fly). Then sew pieces together. Then attach middle and back layers. Then sew layers together. Then quilt. Then determine applique shapes. Attach them. Add beading. Why do I make these lists? Why can’t I just enjoy the process?

Breathe, sew, bake, breath, sew, shop, breathe, sew, wrap, breathe, sew, party, breathe, sew, enjoy family, breathe, sew, wait! . . . I forgot about sleep!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

So Bloggin' Happy

I'm so thrilled that people are stopping in on my blog and posting comments. Hiding in one's attic (studio), hoarding fabrics and beads, hunching over a sewing maching and surfing the internet can be a lonely experience. It's great to know there are others out there who appreciate what I do or what I write, or maybe both.
Right now, I feel kind of like a little space shuttle with lots of little things that need to be fixed before take-off. So many bitty challenges that must be met before I make it all the way to my attic studio. Lots of tweaking, venting, repairs before I lift off (begin the commission). I haven't liked the drawings I have done for this commission (six so far), so I have to go back to the drawing board today. The client is looking for bright bright bright. I like bright bright bright, I just don't seem to do bright bright bright things (see example above, left).
This piece is King Snake. It is a rather plain piece in that it has little stitching and no beading. It is from a series of four. I ran out of steam on this series and actually felt like stuffing them in a drawer unfinished. The problem was, the drawer was already stuffed. I finished them and happily moved on to another series (Planting Seeds). I like the graphicness of the King Snake and Queen Bee pieces, but . . .
Not a lot to say today. A lot to do. I must vacuum all the bits up that my dog has tracked into the house the last couple rainy days. It's the fault of that darn refinished floor. It is (was) so perfect, I feel I must baby it and remove anything that might scratch it (the dog???). Maintenance sucks. The floor has won the maintenance contest with my hair.
Off to work (on maintenance things).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Buy This, It's for Sale, Here's the Price

Ooooh, those dirty words. I can't belive I said it's for sale. Did anyone overhear? I would be so embarrased. NOT!

This piece is entitled Planting Seeds V. It costs $110.00 + shipping. I also have loads of smaller pieces perfect for Holiday gift giving. Please see my website.

Is there really anything wrong with a bit of marketing? Is there anything wrong with having a simple and functional website? Is it downright dirty, cheap and nasty to have the prices listed on the website? And is it a sin to provide an internet shopping cart to make it easy for purchasers? I don't think so, but it seems that many artists do.

Often, I really am interested in an artwork. Of course, I do look around just to compare my prices to other's. Yet, I actually do buy from the internet & believe it or not, I might just buy something from an artist from their website. There are many factors that contribute to my choice to purchase: is the photo clear? do I have a place to hang or place it? and that pesky question - can I afford it? I really do appreciate knowing immediately if I can afford a piece. I do believe in that old saying "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." So I get a bit annoyed at having to contact an artist to get a price on a piece.

Recently, I feel in love with a piece during a spell of artist website and blog surfing. Hmmmm, good picture, love the content, can I afford it. I emailed the artist, explaining I needed the price, letting them know I loved their work and informing them of the reason I chose this particular piece -- giving them an idea of what a potential buyer is thinking and how they related to the artwork. The next day, the artist returned my email saying she was off to a show and did not have time to locate the artwork and give me a price. Several days later, I received another reply with the price, an explanation of what the piece was made of . . . and that's it. OK, so I got my info. But that's it. I don't know why my love of the piece diminished. Was it waiting for the price, not getting a cheery reply letting me know why they created this piece and saying thanks that I was interested in their work. Anyway, I did not buy the piece. Would I have felt the same had the price been listed? It was affordable enough. Would I have gone ahead and bought it without emailing the artist?

Some artists want to be contacted. For some, this is the reason they do not post their prices and want to be contacted for them. (If this is the reason, be happy that a potential customer has contacted you and let them know that.) Is this the only reason to not post prices? Are there other reasons? Would an artist get more sales if prices were posted next to the piece and the customer given an immediate way to purchase the piece? I think so. Is it a nasty thing for an artist to actually want to make a sale?

I am an artist. Please contact me if you like. Buy something. Buy nothing and just let me know you like my work. Don't contact me if you hate it. Contact me and let me know about your granny's quilts. Tell me about the weather where you live. Just don't look down on me, reject me, think I'm cheap just because I tell you how much something costs.

Can you imagine if the grocery store did not post their prices? I don't think I'd put something in my shopping cart if I didn't know the price.

Prices as low as $30.00. I do commissions. Please see my website. Have a look at my stores on Ebay and Etsy. Did I mention CafePress? Note the prices.

Monday, November 5, 2007

At a Stopping Point?

OK. This is an old one. This one is entitled "Janis" after Janis Joplin. For a week, I listened to the same CD of her greatest hits over and over. I was quite inspired.

Recently, I have been a bit uninspired. I have made little, and I have posted little. The commission is slow to start. I sent several samples to the client and she separated the samples into groups of yes, and not so yes. She also sent a couple of new colors to work in -- a light greenish brown and a deeper bluish purple. A bit of a challenge. We have also not decided on any applique shapes yet. I have no idea yet what this piece will look like. Not an inkling, other than it will have some squares in it. I'm a bit anxious as this is proceeding a bit differently than other commissions. Yet no two comissions have been the least bit alike yet. Being nervous is good, huh???

I know I have slacked off in my posting. I read other blogs and they are just going to town, offering advice, stories, insights into their lives. And there's me. "Here's an old photo". Or maybe no photo at all. I must have the creative flu.

The good news is -- my kitchen floor is done. I can use my sink. My husband can cook again. Yeah! He made a big joyous cooking mess last night & I've spent some time this morning cleaning it up. Now I have to move the rest of the dishes in, hang up artwork & other little but time-consuming chores. I'm making a list of errands to run and things I "must" buy. Good grief. I should just work already. Tomorrow I volunteer at the polls from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm. No creating will get done tomorrow.

Sorry for whine whine whining. The next post will be beautifully uplifting, chock full of information and will probably send a message to the world for peace.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Up and Running (OK up and pacing)

Well, I was going to say I was up and running. I was going to post a photo of a newish piece here. I cannot add the photo. I am not actually up and running. Hmmmmm, this isn't boding well for the day.

The floors in my house are finished!!! The office was not done after all, so the computer was dismantled for nothing. It will be a few days before we can move furniture back into the kitchen and family room, but at least I can tiptoe in there and get things out of the kitchen that I had forgotten. My poor, tired husband wanted a beer last night. He asked where the bottle opener was. I told him that he was out of luck.

I was able to let the cat roam free this morning, so now the studio is mine again. I tried to share it with the cat, but everytime I would expose a piece of my worktable to play with fabric, he would come over and sit on my experiment. The rest of the table was covered with padding and a fleece throw for him (and to protect the artwork underneath in case of hairballs or other bad cat actions), but apparently, that was not what he wanted. I was a bit worried he would relieve himself on my table. There is a litter box in the studio but he REFUSES to use it. So I had to let him out a couple times each day to go to the one in the basement. He also refuses to drink water when it is next to his food bowl, but will drink from a bowl elsewhere. His favorite watering hole is an overflow bucket next to the hot water heater. I don't get it. The dog was confined to the living room so he would not irritate the floor guy. He got bored and barked all day, every day.

So, I have spent several days pacing and not working. I cannot work when my studio is tidied up. I've looked at all of my art and quilting books. I'm still waiting on feedback for the commission, so that is not underway yet. I feel like a car stuck in the snow. One experiement I might carry a bit further. I received several bags of vintage lucite beads from ebay. Kind of chunky and primitive looking. I may force myself to use them and just getting going on something, anything. The more I work, the more ideas I get. I just have not been working -- therefore no ideas.

Maybe I'll run some errands. Blog all day. Eat Halloween candy (wait, can't -- my daughter has been through her bag, and her photographic memory has logged every Snickers and Smarties). No. Must GET UP AND GO. GET UP AND GO. GET UP AN