Monthly Archives: November 2012

How to set up a still life

Final set up. Cup with silver spoon. Fixed silver foliage later.

It’s not always easy to set up a still life for painting.  It’s much more than just throwing a random collection of stuff on a table.  Check out my page for How to set up a still life for a photo story of one of my recent works.  I’ll post the painting later.

Hunting season

Deer hunting season started here yesterday.  This is with guns.  Bow season is a lot longer.  Lots of booms in the woods.  I stay close to the house, in the studio.  No biking for me for a few weeks.

When I lived in the city, I always felt sorry for poor Bambi being shot by the big mean hunters.  Since I’ve lived here in the country for over 25 years, I’ve had a total reversal of attitude.  The white tail deer was totally wiped out in this state and only reintroduced in the 1940s.  Without predators, the population has exploded.  No matter what your thoughts about hunting, something has to be done.  (NO, I do NOT want wolves to be reintroduced!)

Deer ravish the understory forest growth, decimating native plant populations.  They can jump any fence and are a huge concern for farmers’ crops.  Overpopulation make them susceptible to many diseases, some harmful to humans.  But worst of all are the significant road hazards they cause.  Rarely does our daily paper not report at least one deer vs auto accident.  Usually this time of year it’s two or three.  Between my husband and two sons, they have hit a total of six deer, once two at a one time.  Of course, that car was totaled but fortunately no one was hurt.

Venison is also a very lean meat.  All of the local hunters I know actually eat what they kill, or even take the meat to the local food bank.  I don’t know anyone around here who is a trophy hunter although there is plenty bragging when a big buck is bagged.

Our ninety acres is mostly a big park, not much of  a farm other than the garden and some fields we rent out.  However, we don’t like trespassers and only allowed limited hunting on the property.  Most city folks have no idea whose property they are on or whether or not there is a house behind that copse of trees.  We’d rather not take chances with armed (and often drunk) idiots.

Anyway, life in the country is not always bucolic or quiet.  It’s more often man against nature…and nature is winning.

Open Studio Sale

You may have wondered where the heck I’ve been the past few weeks.  The truth is that I was preparing to have an open studio sale.  This is where you invite your friends, former patrons, even the public in general to come to your studio to buy some really great artwork at some really great prices.  In other words, to relieve you of the crap you’re stumbling over all the time. 

It dawned on me this summer that I can’t keep creating paintings without moving some of them out the door.  I used to do several art fairs a year and was pretty prolific at making work for sale.  Since I’ve had a full-time job for the past several years, I don’t have the opportunity to get out in the public to promote and sell my work.  Yes, I still do exhibits once in a while, but it’s difficult to sell the work and hold the job.  So…..

After being totally fed up with tripping over boxes of paintings, I decided that it was time to have an open studio sale.  I haven’t had one in several years so it took some planning and organization.

Generally I like to have the sale in the fall, well before the holiday season.  If you wait too late, then everyone is busy.  Autumn is pretty in my part of the world and everyone is still relaxed enough to enjoy a ride to see the trees.

I had my sale on October 20th but began promoting it at least six weeks earlier and planned for it even earlier.  I designed postcards, mailed them out to about everyone I could think of locally or within an hour’s drive.  This included co-workers, relatives, friends, patrons…just about anyone I could think who might be interested.  I mailed out about 160 postcards and gave away many more.  I promoted it heavily on my Facebook page, too.  The general rule of thumb is that 40% of the people you invite will come and about 20% will buy.  I’ve found that about 25% of the people I invite will attend but 95% will buy.  Nearly everyone bought multiple paintings, too.  It was a very good day.

I’ll add my back time list here soon, but generally, you need to plan back from the time of your event.  (This is what I do for my full-time job so it’s pretty natural to me.)  I began telling everyone the date as soon as I set it, even though I didn’t formally send out my postcards until about six weeks early.  Clean your studio.  Make your inventory.  And price your work as if you really want it to MOVE.  I put fire-sale prices on my work.  Yes, this was way cheaper than I would normally sell the paintings, but I asked myself, how much longer do I want to keep moving these around?  Also, there is the matter of stored paintings not being in the best conditions.  Do you want to let them sit there and mildew or do you want someone to actually put it on their walls and enjoy them?  I chose the latter.  Some people got some really great deals.  But I got a lot of cash and lots more space.  😉  Works for everyone.

I will note one thing is that I didn’t put everything I have created for sale.  I kept back my best or newest work.  Most of the work I sold were older pieces or what I call my practice pieces.  These included many of my plein air pieces, too.  So now I can buy more art supplies to create more paintings!  Yeah!  I also recommend actually removing your best pieces from your studio as I had people digging through my storage of things I didn’t even have out for sale.

In general, this is what I do for an Open Studio Sale.

  • Plan ahead, set your date at least three months out.
  • Create, order and mail your announcements.
  • Clean and organize your studio; decide exactly what you want to sell.
  • Create your inventory list, be realistic about rock bottom. prices….really, how much longer do you wish to look at this work?
  • Plan for some food.  I do homemade minnestrone soup, bread, cookies, and lots of wine.
  • Get some help the day of the event.  Enlist a friend, spouse, or child to help greet guests, wrap paintings, write up sales or restock supplies.
  • At the end of the day, have a glass of wine (or two), sit back and enjoy the warm glow of all the people who love your work enough to buy it.
  • Update your inventory list.  Mail thank you notes.  Get ready for more fun.

I’ll come back soon to put up my actual check-off list. 

Good food and beverage is always an enticement. The wine and coffee were outside.

Display in the front studio.

Display in the back studio. Notice the extra light. That really seemed to help.