Monday, April 26, 2010

Just Do It!

 "No Whining!" poster from my classroom

 Last week, while I was on Spring Break, I spent at least two entire mornings working on art exhibition submissions.  I really didn't want to, but I figured it had to be done, and since I was off, I couldn't think of any good excuses not to.  For additional motivation, I gave myself a little pep talk.  "JUST DO IT!" I yelled at myself.  "SUCK IT UP!" (Yep, that's my pep talk- told you it was little.)  I was more than a bit frustrated, because usually I procrastinate and procrastinate, until I've managed to miss the deadline.  Then, I curse, but I still do the same thing the next time.  Sheesh!  In the past year or more, in fact, I had missed nearly all of them.  Of course, I want to be in the shows, I just don't want to do the actual entering.  I hate the entire process; to me, it's like torture.

It's not the rejections that bother me; I got over that a long time ago.  I wish I had kept all the rejection letters I've received over the years, because I'm pretty sure I'd have enough by now to wallpaper my studio.  What better reminder of the power of persistence than that?  Or, I could use them to make the world's biggest collage!  Sure, years ago, when I started doing this, I'd get all depressed when I got a rejection.  I haven't really come all that far in the self-confidence department; I've just done this long enough that it doesn't faze me any more.  (Sticks and stones... )

Art Exhibition Applications

What does bother me is that it's just a boring, time-consuming pain in the butt.  Here's what I mean.  First, you have to figure out which shows to enter.  I should clarify here.  Finding them isn't hard; it's deciding which ones are worthwhile that can be tricky. There are so many factors to consider.  For example, is your art a good match for the theme, or for the venue?  What does "Healing Art" really mean?  What type of work do they usually show?  You have to do some research, so you're not just wasting your time and money.  And speaking of money, some are pretty expensive to enter; if the fee is over 30 dollars or so, I usually mark it off the list.  Shipping is quite expensive, so is it best to limit your entries to shows within driving distance?

Then there's the submission process itself.  Emailing images is easiest, but most want them on CD, which you have to put in the proper padded envelope with the proper paperwork, take to the post office and weigh, etc.  What's worse is that each show has stipulations for how the images should be sized and labeled, and it's different for every single show!  For example, one wants them at 300 dpi, with the shortest side at least 1200 pixels.  The next one will be 72 dpi with no side longer than 450 pixels.  I've never been able to re-use a CD, ever.  The labeling instructions are also incredibly specific.  First name.last name_first 2 words of title. jpg.  Or, first initial last name_entry number_title.  Or anything else you can think of, as long as it's not like the labeling for any other show.  I've even seen one that stipulated that you must use "inches" when giving the size, not " or in.  Are you starting to get the picture?

A mess of CD's and crap.

If you're applying for a solo show, they're going to want various other documents as well, such as your statement, bio, resume, exhibition proposal, and possibly even invitations from past shows.

Seriously?  Could some of this stuff not be standardized somehow?  Maybe it's just me, but this makes my head spin around until I want to spit pea soup.  Did I mention that I hate this?

But, the good part is that every once in a while you get something like this:

And then your piece goes on a little journey- if you get it framed and sent out on time.

World Dharma Mandala by Sharmon Davidson

What I wouldn't give for a full time secretary!  Any takers?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flaming Red

Hi, all!  Just a quick little Spring waker-upper for your eyeballs, courtesy of my amaryllis...

And a big thanks to everyone who answered my plea for help on my last post- great suggestions!  Now, back the drawing board...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Something New

For a while now, I have felt that I've been floundering around, feeling that I wanted to venture out in a new direction with my work, but not quite sure what it would be. This past week has been my long-awaited Spring break, and I thought it could be a good opportunity to conduct some very unscientific experiments.  I've had some new ideas attempting to form in my little brain for some time, and have been trying to figure out where they might take me.  This piece is one of my experiments. I suppose you could call it a more collage-y collage, as was my first step in this direction, Butterfly Buddha Child.

 Ingredients: Rives BFK paper, map fragments, acrylic ink, eyelets, metallic paint pen, book pages, Koh-i-nor pens, acrylic gel medium, photo image, stitching, PVA glue.

I'm not at all sure if I like it, or what could be changed to make it a more successful piece.  I think maybe there's too much in it; it doesn't seem cohesive enough to me. What do you think?  This is a learning experience for me, so I'd appreciate some real "critiquing" here, people- don't be so nice! Thanks!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Currently on Display...

 ... in my gardens. It's that time again.  Time to plant the hopeful seeds, to lay them down in a bed of soft, warm soil, to nurture them and wait for nature's blessings.  To begin again, again.

It occurs to me that part of the magic of Spring is that we're given the gift of another chance.  In an existence where there are few "do-overs", we can start over once again.  Reminds me of a Chicago song, "Listen, children, all is not lost, all is not lost..."  It's all about hope.

The onion sets are in, and the strawberries.

 But my flower beds are looking pretty bad.  Yikes-  they could use some work!  I hope I'll get them cleaned out today!

In the meantime, here are some of the flowers currently on display...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Convergence + Totally Tweaked

Transformation 42 - Ingredients: monotype scraps (oil-based litho inks on Rives BFK), Caran D'Ache crayons, watercolor pencils, acrylic inks, acrylic gel medium, PVA glue.  7" x 7"

Here is the finished version of Transformation 42.  As you can see, the only big change I made was to darken the lighter blue area around the seed.  I felt it was too light before, creating an unintentional focus on that area, and too much contrast to the rest of the piece in general.

I've been working on another piece over the last week or so, and I think it's finally complete.  This one is made from some of the recycled pieces that I washed off a couple of weeks ago.  I've been thinking about simplifying my work a bit, and I believe this is a tiny step in that direction.  Okay, you can stop laughing now; for me, this is simpler, you have to admit.  It is, really.

Convergence - Ingredients:  Recycled monotype scraps, Caran D'Ache crayons, watercolor pencils, acrylic gel medium, PVA glue.  11.5" x 7"

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Friday I 'played hooky' from work (actually, I took a personal day) and drove to Berea, Kentucky for a workshop on Booth Design.  The workshop was free to members of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get some useful information.  I've been considering, with some trepidation, trying my hand at a craft fair or two.

It was a gorgeous Spring day, so we decided to take a walk across the campus of Berea College.  Even though I'd been to Berea many times to take work to the the Promenade Gallery, I had never taken the time to explore the campus.

Berea College is quite unique.  Founded in 1855, it was the first interracial and coeducational college in the south, admitting blacks before slavery was abolished.  Pretty radical for the time, right?  The building in the photos above and below was one of the first, and still has that old, wavy glass they made back then.  I think you may be able to see that in the pictures.

All students attend the college tuition-free, and must work at least 10 hours per week in one of their many enterprises, including the famous Boone Tavern and Berea College Crafts.  Berea College has the largest endowment in the nation, and admits only students who are economically disadvantaged, most coming from Appalachia.

The trees were in bloom and the charming old campus was beautiful.

Berea is known as the Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky.    The photo above shows College Square, where there are many galleries and folk art shops in the lovely old buildings.  There are also lots of art shops and studios in the Old Town Artisan Village section of Berea.

Historic Boone Tavern and Hotel is also on College Square.   Most of the workers here are college students.

The Promenade Gallery, where my work is for sale, is located adjacent to the College Square at 204 Center Street.  Kathy West, the owner, is a really great person who does a lot to promote the arts and artists of Kentucky.   Please stop in if you're ever in Berea.  I hope you've enjoyed the tour!

 Okay, now back to that craft fair thing.  I'd so appreciate any help, advice, information, or insights about doing craft fairs that you'd be willing to share.  I have not decided whether or not I want to do this, and the benefit of your experiences would really be helpful.  Thanks!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Transformation 42, coming along

This is what I have so far for the next piece in the transformation series.  It still needs some tweaks here and there, but I think this is close to its final form.  I'm hoping to do one more before sending the photos off to the client who requested them.  (More about my commission conundrum here, if you're not familiar.)

Let me know if you any advice about the tweaking, please, if you don't mind.  In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend and holiday!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Still a Freak

A friend of mine recently referred to me as a "tree freak."  It was not an insult, he was just alluding to the fact that we both love these beautiful, huge, sacred beings.  It would be hard to think of a higher compliment.  Allow me to introduce you to some of my newest friends.

Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.  ~John Muir

Trees outstrip most people in the extent and depth of their work for the public good.  ~Sara Ebenreck, American Forests
I willingly confess to so great a partiality for trees as tempts me to respect a man in exact proportion to his respect for them.  ~James Russell Lowell

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
~Kahlil Gibran

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.  ~John Muir

The trees are whispering to me, reminding me of my roots, and my reach... shhhhhh... can you hear them?  Selflessly sharing their subtle song.  ~Jeb Dickerson,

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.  ~Cree Indian Proverb

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
~Joyce Kilmer, "Trees," 1914