Tag Archives: kit miracle

Dealing with Rejection

Italian Eating Italian – Intimate Spaces, Breaking Bread Series. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. Kit Miracle

Having your art rejected from a show or exhibition can often be baffling, and sometimes a bit painful.  Even for someone like me who has been entering shows for nearly forty years, there is still a little twinge when I receive that rejection letter.  More often I am just puzzled.

For instance, the painting above, Italian Eating Italian which is from my Intimate Space Series: Breaking Bread, and which was exhibited for a two month show.  It received a lot of attention and was a favorite among many.  It exudes a bonhomie and welcoming attitude.  I would watch visitors gravitate towards the painting from across the gallery.  Something about the hint of a smile, the subject matter, the lighting.  It was a very popular painting.

I have since entered the painting in a couple of exhibits.  One in which I felt sure it would be accepted…was instead rejected.  Whaaaaaa????  I’ve been in that show in previous years but not this year.  That pinched a little.  Also, since I have attended the show in previous years, I was aware of the quality of portraits in the show.  Not too impressed.  Oh, well.

The same painting was later entered into another show.   It won BEST OF SHOW.  That is always a pleasant surprise.  But I try not to get too full of myself, either. 

The whole point is that on any given day, the selection could have gone either way.  Best to keep that in mind.

I have been the judge for a number of shows over the years.  It is not easy and sometimes the organizations have special conditions to be met:  X number of landscapes, portraits, abstracts, etc.  Sometimes the shows are open to members only.  On any given day, the selections could go one way or another.

Many times over the years, I’ve sat with judges as they reviewed and selected the entrants for exhibits.  Some judges are cursory and flippant about the matter, speeding through so they can get to their free lunch.  Others review and review and review, taking enormous amounts of time to make their selections.  And there have been a few who only seemed to focus on artists who paint in their own style or medium.  That irritates me quite a bit.

Over the years my work has been accepted into shows which I now realize I probably wasn’t skilled or talented enough to actually merit being in.  And other shows where my work and experience exceeded the expectations, it was rejected.

It’s a puzzle.  

My suggestion is….no matter what your artistic talent or medium….to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back into the fray.  Maybe a review of the exhibit will help you to get a better grasp of what was considered acceptable and desirable.  Maybe you don’t (yet) have the skills or professionalism to have your work hung in the exhibit.  Maybe it just wasn’t your year.  Many times you can enter the exact same piece the following year with a different judge and it will be accepted.

If this is what you really want, don’t give up.  Be objective about your work and keep trying.  It will happen eventually. 

Italian Eating Italian, close up of head. Notice the slight Mona Lisa smile.

Four categories of painting subjects

Central Park, acrylic on canvas board, 8 x 10. This was created from a sketch that I did while on a business trip to New York.

Do you ever feel like making some art but you just don’t know what to paint or draw?  For some people, this is a common frustration.  You have some free time and then what?

In my case, I keep a list.  I’m very fond of lists.  I often have many lists, here, there, everywhere.  I have a couple of lists in my studio, but I also keep an idea notebook. This is actually to just capture an idea which might flit through my mind…and then flit out.  These days I’m working on a lot of seasonal paintings for the upcoming holidays so I just brainstorm and write things down.  I also use this technique when I’m thinking about another series of paintings.

Most of my ideas fall into three or four broad categories:  still life, landscape, figurative and non-objective.

Nine Apples, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12. A variety of views of two apples. This could be a still life or an abstract painting. Not all paintings fit neatly into one category.

Still life.  This can include any single or group of objects.  Fruit, flowers, vases, skulls, musical instruments.  The list is practically infinite.  Some artists select a group of objects and then keep rearranging them and paint them for their entire lives (Morandi).  Others choose themes – types of objects like all glass vases, or natural objects, or sports equipment.  The really nice thing about still lifes is that the objects stay put (usually) and you can come back to work on your painting another day if you run out of time.  This is a really good way to develop eye-hand coordination, composition, and learning to tell a story if that is what you choose to do.  Instructors start beginning art students off with still lifes to help build these skills.

Schnellville Rd, September. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. I used to drive this road on my way home from work. I loved the hills and small farms along the way. Sure beats fighting a few million people to work every day.

Landscape.  Just about anywhere in the world can be a subject of a landscape painting.  Painting outdoors (en plein air) is both challenging and fun.  Cityscapes, your house, your dog’s house, beautiful scenery, or even things that aren’t so beautiful.  Landscape painting can be a bit more challenging as the time of day and the seasons often dictate how long or when you can paint.  Many artists make quick sketches and bring them back to use as subjects for larger or more detailed paintings.  If you are painting out doors, then you have about two or three hours before the light and shadows change.  You can always return another day to finish your work, or start another painting while you’re outside.

I loved this small marble bust of a boy with a wreath in his hair. Sketched at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. You have to get used to people leaning over your shoulder when sketching in a crowd, but really, most people are very polite and may not even notice you at all.

Figurative.  This entails studying a figure, body, part, or group.  It can even encompass pets and animals.  For many people, this is one of the most difficult categories to approach.  Why?  Because your subjects move!  Stand still, dang it!  Again, the more you do, the better you become.  Building that eye – hand coordination.  A trip to a museum helps if they will allow you to sketch their sculptures.  Those usually stay still.  Or sit at your favorite eatery, a park, library, or any public space.  Plenty of subjects there.  The trick is to be stealthy but really, not everyone minds someone sketching them. And don’t try to make a finished piece if you only have a few minutes to just jot some sketches. 

Abstract or non-objective.  This is the anything goes category.  Do you want to make circles or squiggles?  Fine.  How about several canvasses of lines or shapes?  Add some sand or affix some found objects.  Maybe your favorite music will inspire you.  Ask any four year old and they’ll teach you how.

So next time you’re searching for something to paint, pull out your notebook or 3 x 5 card and check it for ideas.  Just keep it nearby, maybe by your reading or TV chair, to jot down ideas as they come to you.  You’ll always be ready for those times when you have a few hours to get creative.  Good luck!

What to do with a bad painting

Let’s face it, if you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you will inevitably create some bad paintings. Crap is the professional term.  (Just kidding.)  Not everything that comes off your easel, your brush, from your pencil is wonderful.  Actually, few pieces of art fit that description.

I remember when I was first getting back to my art roots after several years’ hiatus that I sat at the kitchen table one night and created a cute little flower painting. It was pink, I think.  I was so proud of that piece.  When I showed it to my husband, he said, “Oh, that’s nice, honey.”  Such a sweet supportive liar but I certainly needed the boost to my ego. 

I kept that painting for years, long after I realized what a wreck it was.  I would drag it out when teaching a class and point to it and say, “See, this is where I came from.  You can learn to paint, too.”  I have searched the studio for the piece as I would definitely show it but can’t locate it.  I’m sure that I never threw it away.

The point is, that we do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. When you know better, you do better.  I have painted plenty of really BAD paintings.  And still do, although not quite so many. 

So what do you do with a piece of art that just didn’t turn out the way that you wanted?  Here are several options.

  1. Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with.  The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.? 
  2. Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake?  Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
  3. Ask a friend for input.  Sometimes we know something is off but just can’t see the mistake although it may be glaring to some new eyes.
  4. Scrape off the paint or paint over the mistake.  You may even need to paint over the entire canvas.  I have done this many times and just started over. Or even explore a new idea rather the one you were pursuing.
  5. Trash it.  Burn it, destroy it.  Some people recommend that you keep your bad work to inspire you but I think it will only haunt you.  Use it as a learning experience and move on.  It can be very cathartic to throw your canvases into the burn barrel.  I’ve had very few regrets over many years.

One thing that I don’t recommend is to donate the bad artwork.  It may come back to haunt you as when someone picks it up a resale shop or flea market.  And don’t pawn it off on your friends and relatives.  They’ll be too polite to tell you and will resent moving it around from place to place over the years.

Finally, don’t stress about a bad painting.  It happens.  That’s OK.  We learn from our mistakes and just promise yourself that you’ll do better next time.  It’s only a painting, after all. 

Bread and Miriam

Bread and Miriam. My friend is delighted to display her new painting. We had such a fun morning visiting, talking about books and life.

I had the great pleasure of hand delivering my painting Bread to my friend Miriam.  She was so delighted to be able to buy this.  “Making this bread was the best experience of my time during the COVID pandemic.”  Miriam used my bread recipe for no-touch sourdough bread.  I heard back from so many friends and blog followers that they loved this recipe. 

Still need some bread?  Check out this post from last year. https://my90acres.com/2018/03/28/crusty-artisan-bread/ https://my90acres.com/2020/08/02/bread-a-new-painting/

Summer Super Sale still going on.  40 to 70% off.  Adding more every day.  Check here to see what is currently on sale.  Or contact me personally if you’re nearby and I’ll deliver. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name&section_id=1

Super Summer Sale continues!

Farmers’ Market, Saturday Morning. Original painting, acrylic on canvas board, 16 x 20. Kit Miracle (Frame not included.) On sale now!

My super summer sale continues. Adding new paintings every day. Extreme discounts of 40 to 70% off. Maybe your favorite painting is on sale now. Check back often. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name&section_id=22114364

Wyoming Landscape, 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas. Kit Miracle, on sale now!

Independence Day

Flag Day, Milltown, Indiana Kit Miracle

July Fourth has always had a special meaning for me.  Far beyond the picnics and bands, the fireworks and family gatherings.  There is just something about the holiday here in the United States which makes me proud and excites my sensibilities.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a marching band in person or even a fireworks display, although I love both of those things.  The big booms reverberate in my chest all the way to my toes. 

And I love the family gatherings.  In our case, not quite reunions but a group of friends and relatives who show up to spend a pleasant day in the country.  This year is especially poignant since we haven’t seen many of these folks for over a year.

The kids will run around, sneak blackberries from the bushes, and whine about when they’re going to eat.  The adults will swap tales and events.  And the young men will regale everyone with some awesome fireworks.  (Fortunately, we’re not in the super dry western states where fireworks are banned these days.)

But I often reflect on the meaning of the day.  Independence Day.  The declaration of our split from our English heritage and ruler, King George.  What a chance our founding fathers took!  What moxy!  What great beginnings, too.  I wonder what they’d think of the form of government they started nearly two and a half centuries ago.  Would they be proud? Astonished?  Perplexed? Maybe all three.

I hope that you have a great day, an enjoyable day, and perhaps can reflect on the meaning of this special day here in the United States.  Be kind. Be safe.

One more week!

Beach Girl, preliminary color sketch for Wings and Jump. 16 x 12, acrylic, Kit Miracle

One more week to view my solo exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. I must say, the number of visitors has been terrific and the comments in the guest book are so touching. Thanks so much for coming out.

Wings, Intimate Spaces, Beach Series. Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24. This little girl is fascinated with the seagulls. Thus, the double meaning of the title. I wish I had done this painting on a larger scale.

If you would like to have a personal tour, just contact me and I’ll meet you there if I’m available. Otherwise, admission and parking is free. And the exhibits are open seven days a week. M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon – 3.

Jump, Intimate Spaces, Beach Series. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24. Kit Miracle Notice how the little boy’s feet are just lifting off the sand, thus the title.

Two more weeks!

Gallery view 1. Visitors are invited to examine the paintings up close or from afar. Photography IS permitted in this exhibit.

Only two more weeks to see my exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper, Indiana. It has been such an awesome and inspiring experience to show my contemporary impressionist paintings in this brand new facility.

Gallery view 2. Kit Miracle exhibit. You can see the other two galleries across the hall.

The number of visitors and the flattering comments made in the guest books are humbling. As my son told me, Mom, although these paintings are large, this gallery makes them look small. That is just how beautiful and large the gallery spaces are.

Gallery view 3. Kit Miracle, contemporary impressionism.

The show closes on Friday, June 25th. If you haven’t had a chance to drop by, please plan to do it soon. I’ve met many friends and guests at the gallery for a private tour, not only of my show, but the entire facility. Just let me know if you’re going to be in town and I’ll be happy to meet you there.

Jasper Community Arts / Thyen-Clark Cultural Center

100 Third Avenue

Jasper IN

Hours: M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon – 3. Free admission and plenty of free parking in the rear of the building.

Gallery view 4. More paintings in the exhibit.

Anticipation

Anticipation. Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread Series, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24, Kit Miracle

This is the last painting in my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series.  I began planning this series in December 2019.  I thought I had enough material.  The theme was to observe people eating, either together or alone.  Some were family members, others were people in the public – restaurants, picnics, etc.

I had a lot of ideas but unfortunately with the onset of the pandemic, my ability to observe was limited.  I scoured through hundreds (thousands) of photos taken over about two decades.  I laid out about a dozen paintings but towards the end I was running out of subject matter.

This painting is from a photo that I’d saved from several years ago.  It was taken by a friend of mine at a special dinner, Thanksgiving I think.  I’ve always loved this image but could never figure out quite how to capture the scene.  So with his permission, I decided to add it to my series.

It made me think of several paintings of the impressionists who portrayed pets in their work.  Even the formal setting seems reminiscent of that era.  I thought, well, pets are often our dinner companions so it fits with the theme of the series.

The painting was so much fun to do that it almost painted itself.  Some pieces are like that.  I don’t usually paint animals but even the fur of the doggie was fun to paint.  If you can zoom in on it, you will see that it contains many colors and perfectly captures this little girl.

So, it is with a big sigh that I’ve finished this series last month.  Now just to do some framing and I’m all ready to go for my big show next month at the new Jasper Cultural Center.  If you’re in the neighborhood, come check it out.  More details to follow. 

Anticipation, detail 1 Our little friend R. A well-loved, well-behaved companion. Loved painting her fur/hair.
Anticipation, detail 2. A table setting for celebration.

Six ideas for pricing your artwork

What should you charge for your artwork, your hours, days, weeks and more of effort and agony?  This is a question that every artist considers, at least at some time during their career.  This is, of course, assuming that you are willing to part with one of your creations, your children.

The first painting that I ever sold was when I was in high school.  My art teacher was preparing our pieces for an upcoming state show for students.  The actual painting was an illustration of The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver. One of her friends had seen it at her home where she was matting the works.  On the recommendation of my art teacher, I was offered $50 for it which was a whole lot of babysitting money back then.

Needless to say, this set me on the path to thinking that I could actually make some money from something that I had created.  But it was a decade before I actually began to pursue my art in such light and sold it.

Pricing your artwork is a tricky proposition and one that attracts many opinions and much advice.  After thirty-five years in the business, these are some of the considerations that I use to price my paintings.

1  Materials and costs

Obviously any business person can tell you that you need to cover your costs.  This includes overhead, such as, rent, utilities, computer services and websites. Include your equipment to make your work – easels, kilns, brushes, even your vehicle if you need to transport it.  Materials like clay, canvases, paints, drawing materials count, too.

You need to eat and keep a roof over your head and pay the kids’ orthodontist’s bills so you must pay yourself a salary.  Hopefully, you can eventually do this solely with your art but you may need to take a part-time job here and there.  The whole point is that the more time you can spend creating, the more money you can make.

If you are not tracking your costs you need to start doing this right now.  You are in business so get a sales tax license and be professional.  After a year or two, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you need to bring in to cover your expenses.  Everything above that is profit.

2  Size matters

Frankly, I think the bigger the painting, the more you should charge for it.  You may have more work in a smaller painting, but the show pieces are generally the largest.  Customers expect to pay more for size. Plus, you have more materials in them.

I created a chart which quickly gives me the ballpark figure for the size of painting that I have to what I should charge for it.  I may not always stick with this, but it gives me a starting place. Price calculator

3  Talent and skill

Be realistic.  Your mother may have told you how wonderful you are and what a great artist you are.  But, take a look around.  How does your work compare to others, especially in your area and medium.  I have seen so many artists who just come on the scene and start attaching really high prices to their work, only to be disappointed when nothing sells.

Maybe you are one of the gifted people who will command high prices right from the beginning, but most artists do not.  It’s always easier to raise your prices than to fumble around and lower them.

4  Location

Where you live and where you sell your work can have a significant impact on the fees you can charge for your work.  In big cities, especially the coasts, the audience is expecting to pay more.  Galleries and museums have their own overhead to cover and, of course, higher rents in metropolitian areas.

In most rural areas, it’s difficult to command the same price structure.  Cost of living and wages are lower, thus people expect to pay less.  For the most part, not always.

Art fairs are mostly entertainment but few visitors are going to shell out thousands for a painting at most art fairs.  This also includes street artists so set your prices accordingly.

There are some caveats with this theory.  With the internet, artists can live in low rent areas but sell across the country, indeed the world.  But again, most people are not going to spend big money on something they haven’t seen in person.

5  Awards and shows

If you are an award-winning artist and have lots of credentials as well as significant shows and exhibitions, you can command higher fees.  You have proven your worth and the customer can feel comfortable that they are buying something from someone with good credentials.  Do you belong to any special art societies?  List them on your resume or website.

I was fortunate that my work was exhibited in some really good shows when I was still pretty early in my career.  I didn’t even know how good they were then but am pretty proud to list them on my website now.

6  Age

No, not your age.  The age of the pieces you still have hanging around your studio.  If it’s something fresh, maybe a new style or direction, stick with your best prices.  However, if you’ve got that box of photographs that you took twenty years ago gathering dust under your bed, do yourself a favor and price them to sell.  Yes, they really may be worth what you originally priced them at, but if you sell them, then you will at least recover some of your expenses and can use the money for more materials to create new work.

I will sometimes host a studio sale where I’ll invite local and regional friends out for a weekend.  I’ll clear my studio of most furniture, set up all the paintings that I want to move, and put some really attractive prices on them.  I usually do this in the fall before holiday shopping takes off.  And I always have some music, food and beverages for an added attraction.  I picked up this idea from a potter friend of mine who would unload his summer inventory every autumn.

I have another friend who actually rented the high school auditorium and set up thousands of paintings to move.  He made $50K that weekend!  I don’t make nearly that much but it’s good to make some extra dough around the holidays and clear some room for new work.

Occasionally I will have an online sale but I don’t want to do that too often.  My patrons should realize that I charge a reasonable price and shouldn’t wait around for the sales.

7  Bonus point.   Be fair

Make sure the prices you list on your website are the same you’re charging in a gallery or somewhere else.  The quickest way to lose a gallery is to undercut their prices.  I give my galleries some leeway to negotiate prices or to bundle sales.  Everyone comes out happy.

These are some of my suggestions for setting prices for your artwork.  You’ll probably find some helpful or maybe you’ll create your own set of rules.  Whatever you do, remember to keep creating and have fun!