Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Timing is Everything

We get used to the Nor'easters that come along with living on the New England coast, but the timing of this newest storm... April Fools Day!

I am suppose to be on a flight heading to Rome (then the Tuscany region of Italy) this Friday, flight take-off time happens to be at the peak of the storm being forecasted here in Boston. I took a photograph when I was walking my dog this afternoon, signs of spring? What a tease! We could get up to 6 inches of snow (hopefully not on the coast) and definitely none of this snow will last long because it is springtime, right? I do remember the April fools day storm of 1997 when we took a family trip for the "weekend", a visit to NYC that became the 5 day visit, kind of like the Gilligan's Island theme song...

Spring Crocuses, 3/30/11

Monday, March 28, 2011


This morning I mailed off my digital submissions to the North East Prize Show at the Cambridge Art Association. I decided to submit both a watercolor and encaustic painting, 2 entries allowed. The entries must be received by April 15 and I will be on vacation beginning April 1 so I wanted to do this before I got lost in vacation mode. I won't hear until the end of April if I was accepted.

"Storm Wave", 16 x 20 encaustic painting

"Howling at the Moon", 30 x 22 watercolor painting

I am excited to share that I will be going to Italy at the end of the week... with my primary focus being on the food, the wine, the people, and of course the landscapes. I have packed both watercolor and soft pastels and am not sure if I will spend time creating when I am there but I would feel terrible if I was inspired and without supplies. The past few months have been incredibly busy for me and this vacation has been the light at the end of the work tunnel.

Fino a quando ci incontreremo di nuovo, ciao!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Post show recap, Paradise City Spring Show

The first day of the show was on a Friday and definitely not as crowded as past shows. I am confident the current events have made people cautious about spending money on "luxury" items. It seemed to me that a day visiting and just meeting artists felt like a welcome distraction (at the right price). Fortunately I had a customer who had an immediate connection to one of my medium-sized encaustic paintings and that was the highlight of the day. Over the weekend I was frequently explaining the encaustic process and my sales were mostly smaller items (enough to make it a worth while show). Lots and lots of people looking, many of my fellow exhibitors missed covering their show expenses, and once again I felt fortunate.

It's been an exhausting six days, and I am just now starting to catch up on life outside the art world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Show Time

Watercolor and Encaustic Paintings
Paradise City Fine Arts and Craft Show
Spring 2011

My paintings are selected, framed, priced, and will be loaded up tomorrow. My display panels, lighting, hanging system, and sales supplies are about to be loaded today. And I ask myself, what have I forgotten! The location of the March Paradise City show is a commutable distance from my home which means each night I will be back here and if I forgot to bring something I will have the luxury of retrieving it over night. Part of my preparation requires organizing in my mind what I will want to fit and hang in my booth space but it always takes me hours to find the proper spacing for each artwork once my panels are up. If I am lucky, by day 2 of the show that "feng shui" will be found.

I always print out thumbnails of my work (images above) before the show, but until I am actually setting up I can't be sure of anything. Size does NOT translate, although each time I do a show I refine my process. This time I have created pre-printed price tags with medium and title information for each painting, something I have hand written in the past, sometimes using business cards (too distracting from the actual art) or on plain rectangular stickers (I decided this was too sloppy looking). In the end, none of it really matters to the patron that falls in love with the art. I guess I do all of this obsessing for me. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Honorable Mention

What an unexpected surprise... I found out when I arrived at the "Capturing Time" show reception that I was an award winner (there was a Best in Show award, and 2 Honorable Mentions). I almost didn't go to the opening because I have been consumed with the news out of Japan not to mention what's going on in Libya. With the world in such chaos, I am hoping art can continue to help all of us find a more peaceful way to exist.

Friday, March 11, 2011


As many of you know, I have been focused on painting with beeswax using image transfers in many of my new works. In order to maintain 100% copyright, I have been taking photographs on a regular basis. I decided to print and frame one of my favorite photos and was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was accepted to the "Capturing Time" show at Lynn Arts, Inc.

"Winter Wonderland", 23" x 27" framed photograph 

A short vignette in the life of a substitute teacher....

Front cover of my recently purchased book

I was asked to come in as the music teacher at the local elementary school yesterday. Because the music room is also the art room, I knew I would be allowed to incorporate art in my lesson plan if nothing specific was left for me to do so I brought in my ipod and speakers along with one of my new Matisse art books. I used music to help inspire the students with their color choices, also using templates I cut of dancing figures. We used crayons to create brightly colored drawings, very similar to the lesson from middle school used last week (simplified and age appropriate).

The book cover was not displayed for students to see; I used several pages in the book with examples of the cut-outs Matisse created later in his life.

My figure templates

As I was sharing facts about Matisse's life, I was holding the book and some of the boys started laughing... I asked why.... they said it was because of the book.... I then looked at the back side of the book and see a graphic black and white photograph of Matisse sitting in his studio drawing a nude model. I didn't even realize the photograph was there because I was only focused on the art! I continued with the lesson and everyone had fun drawing. Soon into the next class, the 4th grade teachers came to see the book and the photo, followed by the school principal. The principal said she had to send home a letter explaining to the parents that "inadvertently" the students were exposed to an "inappropriate photograph". I felt horrible that my passion and love for Matisse turned into a "damage control" letter.

Back cover

(*footnote: I did not display the back of the book at any time, but was simply holding it as I was talking about the artist)

Live and Learn.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Publicity made easy

Next week I will be one of 175 artists to exhibit in the Paradise City spring show. The show directors always send a "fill in the blank" PR format that can be used to help promote the show in local papers for those artists interested in extra publicity. The artist gets promoted, the show gets promoted, and I think it's a "win-win" situation for all involved. I decided to share with you this form with my specific information filled in the blanks:

Local Artist Selected to Exhibit in the Award-Winning Paradise City Arts Festival, March 18-20 in Marlborough, Massachusetts 

Robin Samiljan of Swampscott, MA was selected from among nearly 1000 applicants to participate in the Paradise City Arts Festival, March 18, 19 & 20, at the Royal Plaza Trade Center in Marlborough, MA. 
Thousands of images were reviewed last April, with just 175 artists selected for this prestigious show.  The applicants’ work was judged on the basis of imagination, technical excellence, design and originality. Robin Samiljan is in very good company, since many of the works by the exhibiting artists are featured in major collections, museums, and publications around the world. 
Named among America’s Top Ten Art Fairs since 2004, Paradise City Arts Festival is Metro Boston’s most acclaimed show and sale of fine craft, paintings and sculpture.  Paradise City offers innovative shows with a diverse selection of the newest work at the cutting edge of design, from the studios of both emerging and established artists. More than one-fifth of the participating artists will exhibit their work for the first time at Paradise City Marlborough.

Special Exhibit: The Nature of Beauty

"Blushing Lotus", my watercolor submission 

"Hidden Sunset", my encaustic submission

Paradise City continues its acclaimed series of themed special exhibitions with this spring’s “The Nature of Beauty” in the Sculpture Café.  Paradise City’s artists share their own perceptions of beauty in glass, wearable art, jewelry, clay, photography, painting and sculpture. The works in this “show-within-a-show” may encompass irony, subtlety, sentimentality or elegance. While beauty may indeed be in the eye of the beholder, in its essence, beauty brings harmony to our lives.
The Sculpture Café features a different band each day playing classic jazz, jazz vocals and swing, lending a lively ambiance to the festivities.  The 14th annual coat check station benefits the Marlborough Public Schools Music Association, which supports music programs in the public schools.
Fast Facts
175 juried artists from 30 states, exhibiting original works in art glass, ceramics, painting, decorative fiber, fine furniture, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, photography, large-scale sculpture, wearable art and wood.

The Royal Plaza Trade Center, 181 Boston Post Road West (Route 20W), Marlborough, MA 01752
Just 5 minutes north of the intersection of Mass Pike (I-90) and I-495, Marlborough is only 35 minutes from downtown Boston, and an easy drive from NH, RI, CT, ME and points west.
From all points, take 495 to exit 24B (Route 20 West).  The Royal Plaza Trade Center is one mile on the right.

When: March 18, 19 & 20, 2011
Friday, March 18: 10am-5pm
Saturday, March 19: 10am-6pm
Sunday, March 20: 11am-5pm

Admission: $12 adults; $10 seniors; $8 students; $15 weekend pass; children 12 and under admitted free; handicapped accessible; free color program with admission; acres of free parking!

Complete show and travel information and discount admission coupons: online at or call 800.511.9725
About Paradise City
Paradise City, founded in 1995, is an arts promotion and service organization, producing award-winning shows of fine and functional art in a range of national markets.  Its shows provide artists with a sophisticated marketplace for cutting-edge work, and are an important resource for serious collectors, homeowners, galleries and decorators.  Among the art media included are works in furniture, art glass, large-scale sculpture, ceramics, jewelry and painting. serves as an extensive visual preview and fact-finder for all Paradise City shows.  In addition, editors can register and download additional materials and high-resolution images from the online pressroom. To gain access to all of Paradise City’s press materials and images, please register online or call Linda Post at 800-511-9725.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Henri Matisse Inspiration

Today was another substitute art teacher day for me, this time I was back in the middle school, grades 5 through 8. Often substitute teachers are left with minimal lesson plan direction and I always try to have additional ideas to keep students interested. I noticed a Matisse figure drawing on the wall in the back of the art room and decided it would be interesting to encourage students to use simple lines to create figures. I also suggested they choose colors that reflected the mood they wanted to convey, something Matisse also did in his works. I talked about the artist briefly but I felt it was important the students understood the motivation behind the artist's work.

"Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), considered to be the 20th century’s most important French painter, communicated joy with expressive colors, striking ornamentation and bold patterns. Matisse, whose mother gave him his first art supplies while he was recovering from an illness, described his discovery of art as “a kind of paradise.” He was originally viewed as a Fauvist, and his early works were exceptionally mature. Influenced by Impressionism and Japanese art, Matisse made color a crucial element of his work, and also experimented with expressive abstraction. When he was nearly 80, Matisse volunteered to decorate the Dominican nuns' chapel at Vence, France. Suffering from anxiety, Matisse found serenity in painting". (from Matisse art link)

My Matisse inspired 18" x 12" pastel drawings:

Student pastel drawings:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Follow-up on Watercolor Workshop

Last week was a vacation week for the schools here and I was out of town in between teaching the two Saturday watercolor workshops at Montserrat College. It was the first time my class was offered on Saturdays and it was by far more productive and successful teaching with a longer block of time (in the past my classes were offered once a week in the evenings for two hours). I hope to continue with the Saturday schedule in the fall as continuing ed classes are not offered late spring and summer time.

We focused on landscape painting during this second class and my initial watercolor wash simply establishes a composition; it will be fun building up layers of paint as I work on adding depth and details.

I asked my students if I could share their work on my blog, they were all so successful! The workshop consisted of beginners to experienced painters. I am so proud of what everyone accomplished:

Pat Flaherty

Barbara Gherzi

Judith Eskin

Norm Bosse

Barbara Defranza

Mary Lynn Burke

Betty Dumas