Keep Your Eyes Open

Souvenirs, Acrylic, 11″ x 14″p of artists

I’m part of a small group of artists who meet weekly when enough of us are available.  This encourages us to come up with some sort of project to work on when we get together.  In good weather I like to paint outdoor, although that can be a challenge when I am at the same place I have been many times before.  Sometimes in bad weather I paint from photos I have taken.  But on this particular Wednesday morning about a month ago I didn’t even have a photo in mind and had no partially completed canvasses to work on.  But I packed up my paints and went anyway, hoping I would see something inspiring.

We met at a home where I had not been before.  The weather was not good so we were inside.  Fortunately, there was a lot to see.  This woman loved to travel and she did not come home empty handed.  She invited me to wander around and look at her treasures.  I was first attracted to the pot because of its subtle colors, which she told me was very old and came from Guatemala.  I have seen examples of the black pottery from a New Mexico pueblo before but I liked this one with its different shape.  The plate I chose she said came from Finland.  The tomato from her kitchen counter added a bit of brighter color.

I made good progress on the painting shown above that morning, took some photos and finished it at home.  The owner of these souvenirs bought the painting because, she said, “Each piece has a story.”

I seem to be getting luckier artistically.  I recently had paintings accepted into three different art shows that I tried to get in last year and didn’t.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Ready for Art Walk

Kentucky Street, Acrylic, 14" x 20"

Kentucky Street, Acrylic, 14″ x 20″

Now that fall has arrived with cooler days that encourage folks to be out and about, it’s time to get ready for Lawrence Art Walk, which is scheduled for October 24th and 25th, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.  This is the 20th year that Lawrence artists have opened their studios to the public and I have participated many of those years.  It’s a great way for artists to introduce their friends and neighbors to what they create without having to pack up paintings, screens, tent etc. and haul them to another location.  But it does take a certain amount of preparation.

I want to make sure some of my most recent paintings are framed and ready to hang, although since I have quite a lot of wall space in my exhibit area, there will also be paintings from past years.  Most will have a Midwestern theme but there will also be paintings based on my yearly trips to Colorado and also from places farther away.  With each of those paintings I will include a card listing the title, media, and price.  I still have quite a few of those to print.  The last few years I have also been making cards with photos of various paintings and those will be for sale too.  I need to make some more since I have been using up the cards for birthdays of my large extended family.  I’m also going to have a stack of unframed paintings from past years for sale at garage sale prices.  But those still have to be chosen and removed from storage.

Maps will be available at each artist’s location and there are 21 of us this year.  We are painters, photographers, and those who work with ceramics or glass.  Since I have to be here with my work, I can’t see what those other artists have on display in their studios.  But if you and I want to see some examples of the creations of the Art Walk artists, the Phoenix Underground Gallery in downtown Lawrence has an exhibit of paintings by those artists that will continue during October.

I’ve had some good news recently.  My painting, “Kansas Hay Bales,” which I entered in the Topeka Art Guild’s current Kansans Paint Kansas juried show, won an honorable mention.  That show will continue until the end of November.

Sketching Again

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June 21, 2015

Husband and I recently returned from a trip to New Zealand of a little more than three weeks.  It was an amazing experience.  New Zealand is a beautiful country but I wish we could have gone in what is summer for them.  Because we were there in parts of May and June it was winter.  The reason for the timing of our trip was because husband, who is a university professor, was the director of a two week study abroad experience for four chemical engineering students.  So we left on our trip as soon as the academic year ended.

For my birthday in April a grandson had given me a child’s set of art supplies.  I had not done much sketching since I took a required photography course as a journalism student many years ago.  But I remembered a long trip to Europe when I was 25.  We were traveling light with backpacks and I had taken sketchbooks and pencils and decided to try to do a sketch every day.  I had really enjoyed doing that and still have those sketchbooks.  Why not do something like that again, I thought?  I would buy a sketchbook (pages 5″ x 7″) and use the crayons, magic markers, colored pencils and watercolors grandson had given me and try to average a sketch a day.

This proved to be quite a challenge for several reasons.  Much of the time I was in a group with a specific agenda so there was no time to stop and sketch.  Second, it was winter and I hate cold weather.  Third, I was using materials I was not used to using.  But somehow I did it.  I came up with the same number of sketches as days we were gone. One thing this project taught me was to be observant.  When we moved to a different hotel, motel or youth hostel (they are not just for youth any more) I was always eager to look at the view out the window, which is where I did quite a few of my sketches.  I also sketched from the window of a visitors’ center while waiting for the weather to change.  Of course this kind of sketching is essentially plein air art so things can change quickly.  I was looking down from a hotel window at two men playing tennis on a rooftop court.  I went to gather my art supplies and when I came back they were gone.  I was sketching a young man slouched in an airport chair asleep.  Before I could finish, he woke up and walked away.

The two examples above are from my sketch book.  One is of three New Zealand fruits, quince (the yellow one), fuejau (the green ones) and a mandarin orange, which I sketched in our motel room.  The other is a view from the window of the Youth Hostel in Wellington.  If sketching interests you and you live in the Lawrence area, be sure to see the current exhibit at the Lawrence Public Library.  The sketches on exhibit are those done by a University of Kansas college student during a study abroad semester in Europe.  They inspire me to buy another sketchbook and keep trying.

Come to an Art Party

Summer's End  Acrylic  20" x 16"

Summer’s End Acrylic 20″ x 16″

Lawrence, Kansas, has a great art scene and it is especially visible on the last Friday of every month, which is called Final Friday.  Numerous art galleries, and places where art is on display open in the evening from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.  and welcome the public not only with art exhibits.  Some Final Friday locations offer drinks and or snacks and occasionally music.  Plus, these events are well attended.  You are bound to meet someone you know and will also have a chance to talk to the artists about their work.

The Lawrence Art Party is one of these art destinations.  It has moved its location since the last time I participated in it.  It is now located at 512 East 9th (9th and New Jersey) in the new Warehouse Arts District.  There are a number of advantages to artists participating in the Art Party.  If you want your art to be seen, this is the place to be.  Crowds of people turn out on final Friday.  I participate in a cooperative gallery elsewhere and when I work there maybe only half a dozen people come in all day.  Also unlike many art shows, Art Party provides a place to hang your art inside.  You don’t have to have your own screens.  The space allotted to each artist is not large.  I’m bringing eight paintings, which would make it a good venue for budding artists who don’t yet have a large body of work.  And you only have to sit with your work for four hours, unlike some shows which can last for a whole weekend.  So I’m bringing some paintings, including the one above, up from the basement in the hopes that folks will enjoy looking at them, even if they are a bit old fashioned.  And if someone decided to buy one, that would make my evening.

A Successful Art Walk

From the Barn Door, 12" x 9"  acrylic

From the Barn Door, 12″ x 9″ acrylic

October 29, 2013

 

Art Walk turned out very well for me this year.  More people than usual came to view the paintings that cover the walls of my basement multipurpose room.  And people seemed to like them, even some that were not favorites of mine.  At the last minute I decided to also set out some cards that each contained a photo of one of my paintings.  I didn’t have very many on hand but when people started buying them, I began making more in between visitors.  Fortunately, I have a good color printer and they are easy to make.

Better yet, I sold three paintings, including the one pictured above.  Before Art Walk begins, those who are participating may pick up postcards  advertising Art Walk to send to those who have purchased a painting in the past or to anyone else who might be interested.  I don’t usually get much result from sending the post cards but this year a couple who had purchased one of my paintings a year or two ago did come and they bought three more.  So this year was one of the few years I earned more at Art Walk than the high fee charged to be in it.

I have paintings depicting a wide variety of locations and it is interesting which paintings people are drawn to.  To my surprise Kansas rural nostalgia seems to be popular.  I paint a lot of rural Kansas scenes, since I paint with two artists who live in the country.  Sometimes it is hard to think of something new to paint when I have been at those locations so many times.  But I gues it will be worth while to take another look.

 

Art Walk is Coming

Oct. 24, 2013

One again it is time for the annual Art Walk in Lawrence, Kansas.  Artists open their studios, many in their own homes, to the public from 10 am to 6pm on Saturday October 26 and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday October 27.  Twenty-seven locations are listed on this year’s Art Walk map. Mine is number 5.  There will be a sign in the yard of each participant so you can’t miss us.  Mediums include ceramics, drawing, glass, jewelry, metalworks, mixed media, acrylic painting, oil painting, photography and Sculpture.  The Lawrence Art Center at 940 New Hampshire, as well as the individual artists involved, should have maps listing each location.  You can see samples of the artists’ work, bios and contact information at http://www.lawrenceartwalk.org.

If you live in the area, do stop by and see what I’ve been busy arranging this week in my basement art gallery.   You’ll see scenes I have painted on site in this area and other done from photos from my travels.  I really love autumn and have a number of paintings done in that season.   I have 73 framed paintings on the walls quite reasonably priced.  I also have 14 unreasonably low-priced unframed paintings you will want to take a look at.  Don’t stay away just because you think you won’t buy anything.  It’s okay to just come and look.  Art is a form of communication and I’d like to have some people who enjoy art to communicate with.

 

 

Recorders of History

Boulder Creek II, Acrylic, 24" x 36"

Boulder Creek II, Acrylic, 24″ x 36″   

September 23, 2013

Some years ago I walked beside that creek in Boulder, Colorado, on a warm autumn day with husband, daughter and her family.  I painted the above scene from a photo I took that day.  After hearing the recent reports of flood damage in Boulder, I wonder what that scene looks like now.  It may never look quite like that again.

Last week I was painting on a Kansas farm and began a painting of a red barn.  I’ve painted a number of barns before.   Later I often learn they no longer exist.  Many farmers don’t use barns any more and so they fall into disrepair and are destroyed by wind and weather.  I’ve also occasionally painted silos, but they too are now becoming a thing of the past.

We who paint realistically may not realize it, but we are recording history.  If some of our paintings survive they will show what life was like in our little corner of the world in our time when the future may look very different.  Artists have been doing this for some time.  When we look at paintings from the past in museums or in our art books we can see how people dressed, what their homes and other buildings looked liked as well as the surrounding landscape of those bygone ages.

Impressionist paintings are favorites of mine and they show an interesting historical record.  While painters of the past had painted the nobility (they knew where the money was), in the late 1800s there was a rising middle class with the time and funds to go out and enjoy themselves and the painters of the time recorded that.  They painted people having lunch on a pleasure boat, men, women and children enjoying an afternoon in the park, couples dancing.  Something else that was new in the time of the Impressionists was the railroad.  Several years ago the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, MO, did an exhibit of impressionist paintings having something to do with the railroads.  I was surprised at how many paintings there were.

Next time you go out to paint think about the transitory nature of the things you see.  Your record of that building or scene may last longer than it will.

Water, Water Everywhere

Irish Countryside, Acrylic, 18" x 24"

Irish Countryside, Acrylic, 18″ x 24″

When I’m doing a one-person show I like to have a theme and I’ve been painting long enough that I can usually come up with quite a few paintings that have something in common.  Some of the themes I’ve used are paintings with flowers, Midwestern country, autumn, spring, and Lawrence scenes.  Once I even did an exhibit of nothing but barn and shed paintings.

During July and August I have an exhibit of 25 paintings at the Classic Bean in downtown Topeka.  The theme I’m using here is one I’ve never done before and that is water.  I noticed that two of my recent paintings were of ocean scenes and I have also done many paintings featuring lakes, ponds or streams.  The exhibit also has three paintings of winter scenes with frozen water.  In fact, as I looked through my stash of paintings I was surprised at how many had water in them.  The photo above is one of them.  Stop by and have a look if you’re in Topeka.  The food is good here too.

I recently returned from being out of town and was pleased to find that my painting “Reverie” that I did at the Overland Park Arboretum had sold.  I remember when I was at the Rice Gallery to pick up my paintings not chosen for the show.  I asked when my painting that had been chosen  should be picked up after the show.  The man in charge said, “The paintings are all going to sell.”  Of course both he and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  But at least mine did sell.  I won’t get much for it as it was a small painting and the artist only gets 60 percent of the price.  But at least I won’t have to make the trip into the Kansas City area to pick it up.

A Meaningful Experience

April on Schwarz Road, Acrylic, 20" x 16"

April on Schwarz Road, Acrylic, 20″ x 16″

The Lawrence Art Guild’s annual Art in the Park took place the first Sunday in May, a cold and dreary day that saw artists wrapped in blankets  orcoats while they sat with their exhibits.  In spite of the weather  there was a fairly good sized crowd, many walking dogs of every description, others pushing strollers containing warmly dressed toddlers.  I sat shivering in my chair at the entry to my tent as people complimented my display of paintings and then purchased either a $2.50 card or nothing at all.

When I returned from a short break, a fellow artist told me someone had photographed one of my paintings.  Soon husband called saying he had given my number to a former neighbor who would call me.  She was interested in the painting pictured above.

I had painted that scene two years ago at a time when my painting group was meeting only sporadically and I was eager to be outdoors painting, since I think Lawrence is at its most beautiful in April.  I decided to do what Monet did as a senior citizen, paint on his own property.  So I sat in my front yard and painted.  To me it was a so so painting, but to the young woman who called me it had a much deeper meaning.

The brown house behind the hedges was where she had grown up, being raised by her grandparents who were now deceased.  She told me her husband had taken their daughters to Art in the Park.  When he saw my painting, he recognized the house and photographed it.  “I cried when I saw it”, she said.  “I have to have that painting.  Please save it for me”  She came by that evening to buy it.  I had not seen much of her in recent years, but I remembered the little girl who lived next door.  I am glad that she has a painting that means so much to her.