Still Arting


Sunflower Bouquet, acrylic, 16″ x 12″

This past week I participated in the Art is Ageless show at the Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence.  This art show is an annual event and anyone who is a senior citizen can enter, not just residents of the Manor.  There are a number of categories including needlework, such as quilts or embroidery.  The categories for paintings are either amateur or professional.  But all professional means is that you occasionally sell your work.  This year I won a second place ribbon for the above painting.  The person writing their newsletter interviewed me before this show because I had won a best of show ribbon last year.

As a senior citizen this was a good show for me to enter because it was near where I lived and only required me to deliver two paintings.  Best of all, although I could have entered by computer, I didn’t have to.  I could just hand in a form filled out by hand when I delivered my paintings.  They didn’t even charge an entry fee.  Of course there was no prize money either, which may be whey there are not very many entries, although I’m sure Lawrence must have many senior artists.

Often artists keep making art long after the age of 65.  In fact some take it up in retirement.  The Artist magazine also recognizes this with an annual contest for senior artists.  A problem for senior artists is not so much the making of art but showing it.  The time when I could lug many paintings to an outdoor show that might last a couple days, find help to put up a tent, and sit out there in all kinds of weather is past.  I now only do one outdoor show, Art in the Park in Lawrence, which does not involve long travel and only last a half a day.  Also, this show still allows people to enter by submitting photographs.

A major difficulty for senior citizen artists is entering art shows.  They almost all require computers not only for the form and to pay the fee but also to submit images of one’s art work.  Some seniors don’t even have computers.  Others, like me, have them but only use them for a few simple things.  I haven’t found the help categories on my computer very helpful.  Sometimes my husband can figure it out.  My son who knows the most about computers lives too far away.

If you are planning an art show in your community, also make it friendly to older artists.   Let people enter either by computer or by snail mail with photographs and a check.  If the show, either indoors or out, is the kind where each individual brings a number of paintings, maybe have a few younger people available to help those who are less able.  As we share what we are creating we may also encourage others to keep on keeping on.


Ready, Set, Go

Tis the season when multiple art shows will be popping up all over the place.  As you look at the work of the artists, you may picture a painter at an easel, brush or palette knife in hand, and think, “Oh that looks like such fun.  I wish I could do that.”  I’ve heard similar comments.  What they don’t realize is that there is a lot more involved in being part of an art show than painting a group of canvases.  They have to be framed, of course, and a record of them kept that shows when they were painted and where they have been exhibited, so as not to keep showing the same paintings in the same annual shows.

My painting are in five shows this month.  Two shows are in Lawrence.  Delivering two paintings to the Phoenix Underground, the lower floor of the Phoenix Gallery downtown, was no problem.  The next local show will be Lawrence Art Walk, Saturday Oct. 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday Oct. 23 from noon to 6 p.m.  There will be a map showing where the various participants are located.  (Check for details online.)  My paintings are already hung on the walls of my basement family room but I will still have to make sure each painting has a card listing its title, media, and price, which means printing cards for the newer paintings and placing cards with each painting.

I made a special trip to Topeka to turn in three paintings to Warehouse 414.  That business is having a show honoring the Topeka Art Guild, of which I am a member, on their 100th anniversary.  Two of my paintings will be in the Kansas Artists show at the Topeka Art Guild Gallery  and two or three from the last show there will go on to the nearby Eagle Car Wash.

After preparing for all those shows I wasn’t sure I wanted to enter another.  But an email message said more artists were needed for the Lawrence Art Guild Holiday Art Fair at Lawrence Art Center November 19 and that that day was the last day for entries.  Oh well, why not?  I printed a copy of the online entry form and could see that this was going to be more work than I expected.  Not only were three photos of my work required but also a photo of my proposed exhibit.  That meant getting my screens out of the garage, setting them up, going to the basement and bringing up enough small paintings to fill them, finding the hooks and hanging them on the screens so I could photograph them and then putting everything away.

Next I had to transfer the photo of my exhibit to my computer and print it on my color printer, plus finding photos of three of the paintings on the computer and printing them.  Then I discovered that I didn’t have a padded envelope to put all this in for mailing so I had to go out and buy one.  Next I addressed  the envelope and added the photos, entry form and a check.  Artists not only have to pay to enter shows.  If they sell anything, they have to pay a percentage of that as well, which is why art sold at shows and galleries my seem high priced.  So finally, I have entered and am glad for this season at least, to have places where others can see what I’ve been doing.









An Artist’s Life

Tranquility, acrylic, 15" x 10"

Tranquility, acrylic, 15″ x 10″

Unlike some other professions, many people don’t really have much idea about what being an artist is like. First, there is a lot going on that makes the actual creating of art possible.  Let’s start with subject matter.  For an artist whose paintings attempt to look like what inspired them, that means learning to see among the innumerable images with which we are surrounded that one central image that could make a painting.  That could mean being outdoors and looking thoughtfully around.  Indoors it might mean gathering a few everyday objects and placing them so that they make an interesting still life.  But in this age of digital photography and computers it can also mean taking a lot of photos and storing them on a computer.  Then, depending on one’s level of computer skills, there are things the artist can do to photographs to give even more possible ideas of subject matter.  I took the photo on which the above painting is based several years ago.  Since I recently discovered posterizing, I tried that with this photo until I liked the results and then painted from that.  Computers make possible things I would never have expected.  Not long ago I received an email from a relative I had not seen or heard from in many years.  He had seen and liked my art that he saw on his computer.

Then one must put together the materials and try to acquire them as inexpensively as possible.  I cut out Hobby Lobby coupons that appear weekly for 40 percent off one regularly priced item and also look at the sales.  Frames are a big expense.  I look for sales of oddly sized frames at places that do framing.  I used to be able to occasionally find very inexpensive frames in good condition at Good Will or Salvation Army stores but that is getting harder.  I recently saw two old frames at a Salvation Army store that I wanted to buy but didn’t because in my opinion the asking price was more than what they probably sold for new.  Someone also told me that some of these stores are selling their more desirable items on E Bay.

But after a painting is completed and I like it and think it is pretty good, what do I do with it?  It seems to be getting harder to find places to show them.  Some of the places here in town where I used to show art are no longer available.  I applied to several art shows since the first of the year and recently received two rejections.  Our church is having a rummage sale so I have given them two older paintings I no longer show.  I was a bit surprised to hear good comments about one of them.  Maybe it will find a home.  Then there is a recent painting of mine that I really like but won’t keep because it seems to belong to someone else.

A good thing about being an artist is that there is no retirement date.  Artists of any age can and do continue to learn by taking classes, studying art in books and art magazines, museums and even using the computer.  Recently on my email I was offered, without having to pay, a series of lectures by various artists.  I think it was one each day for 21 days.  I’m a little behind on watching them but I intend to listen to them all.  As long as we can physically continue to create art we are free to do so.  It is a frustrating and joyful experience we are unwilling to give up.