Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pulling Everything Together

A vignette from yesterday...

If you follow this blog you know I have been working on a project, visiting a local bird sanctuary and taking photographs, then using the photographs to inspire watercolor and encaustic paintings. When I started visiting the sanctuary last summer I was not thinking about a show or even a series of artworks, I was just painting my interpretations of this special spot. But this body of work took on a life of it's own...

Yesterday morning - woke up and made the dreaded phone call to the gallery where I submitted my show proposal a few weeks ago; I followed the specific requirements and postal mailed my CD, my show theme idea, and realized the theme had changed slightly since then. I want to include my photographs that inspired me and lead to the paintings. I wanted to check in with the gallery. Of course you never can get through to humans so I left a voice message just to inquire as to when they will be reviewing my proposal (the website says reviews are only 4 times a year). Think I will hear back from the gallery? I have also submitted a proposal to a second gallery with the hopes that maybe I will be accepted to one of them but I will have to make sure I don't commit to 2 places at the same time (that should only be my problem!) If neither gallery accepts my proposal, I can always fall back on the local exhibition opportunities that exist in my community but I am working on "moving up a notch". The gallery that shows my work in Boston has been interested in seeing my original encaustic work but connecting with the gallery owner is almost impossible. I doubt she would give me a solo show featuring all 3 mediums (photographs, watercolor, and encaustic), she would possibly take a handful of the encaustics so I have not even pursued meeting with her. Maybe I am being stupid?

Time to print the photographs - later in the morning I go visit my friend, a local giclee printer, who is printing the 16 x 20 photos for this series of work; 2 photos for each season of visits, each of these photos was used for my watercolor and encaustic interpretations. Initially I printed 8 x 10's and was disappointed that they did not create the feeling of wanting to take a walk into the bird sanctuary and I realized they were too small. I am a painter, never printed photos before... which paper do I use? smooth or bumpy? bright white or warm white? how much border do I want around the image? do I sign the bottom of the photo or leave it blank? so many new things for me to think about, but the one constant is that I know I want this to be a show about Transitions - new art mediums, the seasons, and my life. I now have a theme for my show. :)

Next stop - my favorite framer, and I need to price out and choose the correct framing for these large color photographs that will be part of my show. I know I want the frames to be the same for all the photos, simple black wood with a warm white matt (and a different frame to be the same for each of my watercolor paintings. I already have the same type of floater frames for each of my encaustic paintings). It all adds up; size, gallery space requirements to hang these works, and the cost involved in coordinating everything. It feels so bold and "gutsy" to spend the time and money on framing large photographs for a show that still has no place to hang! I also have 1 more season left to visit at the bird sanctuary (spring time) and remind myself in April I will take my final group of photographs and can then paint my final group of watercolor and encaustics. I wont even think about the frames for the watercolors until the series has been completed but that will be easy for me. The cost of planning for a gallery show is easier to manage when it's spread out over time. I predict this series of work will be completed and ready to show by summertime at the earliest.

Time to reflect - am I nuts? do I really think my photographs (and encaustics) are good enough for a gallery show? at least I know with watercolor, I am experienced in how to put a show together, I have been doing it for many years, but new mediums and combining them all into 1 show brings me a whole new insecurity with my art.

Phone call - my accountant has questions, business expenses, business deductions, she calls me in between my trips back to the giclee printer then back to the framer, and I am reminded about the financial realities of pulling a show together. The one thing I can't do is think about sales and profit. I am driven to pull this body of work together as professionally as I can and my passion and commitment to my art has taken over; my business sense of how this show is going to make (or loose) me "X" amount of dollars can not be a factor.

Yesterday afternoon - I am a step closer to completing the show necessities. All I have left to do is paint the spring season, and then find a venue (which is out of my hands for now). Designing a show postcard and announcement is easy once the specifics are worked out and I am not looking to exhibit this work until end of this year or early next year. Now I can focus on the watercolor classes that I start teaching on Thursday nights at Montserrat College of Art, starting tonight. Then I can finish reading the book assignments for the class I am going to be attending all weekend for my master's program (as student).

Last night - reassured myself that framing the photographs had to be done, that they will look great, and that they are better protected under glass. The show is coming together, and one way or another I will find a venue. I also know I may want to include several of these photographs in my graduation art show this May and now they will be framed and ready to hang. Shifting gears to teaching class... I want to use the autumn pathway photograph for my class demo.

I have a plan, I am organized. I can't complete this series of work until April when I visit the bird sanctuary. All I can do now is wait to hear from the galleries, and continue framing works so they will be ready to hang. I can comfortably switch gears; my job right now is to be teacher and student.


  1. Wow! Your post brings back memories of all the work that goes into being a professional artist. I remember how people used to comment how great it must be to to make a living JUST painting. They have no idea the work this goes into it it and how much time is devoted to the business end of it!Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Robin, you're doing the right things. Keep your chin up and your nose to the grindstone and good things will come your way. Meanwhile, continue to create what feeds your soul and your psyche.

    I really think you're onto something with your encaustics. I encourage you to keep pushing the envelop with them.

    Have fun in school... learn things...


  3. Thanks for supporting my mental health, Don and Eva. Maybe you have to experience the behind the scenes stuff in order to relate to all the work involved just to present art to the world.

    Don, I am planning on attending an encaustic conference in June, I have never had any official training or guidance and it will help me to continue to push the envelope.