Solution to the Studio Space Struggle

Those of us with home studios know how hard it is to create a functional space within the confines of home – especially when you live in a coastal flood plain where basements and garage space aren’t available as storage alternatives.

Warning: If you want to get to the good bits and avoid reading my convoluted post, skip to the last few paragraphs and photo of my homemade canvas drying and print storage rack. For the easily entertained, read on…

My 12 x 12 studio has also been serving as a writing and quilting space. That means I can only use the room for one pursuit at a time. So I paint for a solid week, with the rest of the room wrapped in its shroud of cheap dollar store shower curtains to prevent errant paint dabs on fabric, writing files, etc.  Since I work on several canvases at a time, I am forever tiptoeing around (and often knocking over) wet paintings propped up around the room. The mess is virtually everywhere with 8 to 10 wet canvases forming an obstacle course in an already cluttered workspace.

Then, when I need to change focus, I shift the shower curtains to the painting supplies and easel-painted side against the art stuff, and sew madly to catch up on my quilt projects, or haul the easel and side table out of the way to set up the writing desk by the window to work on my book.

The problem with this system is that I have to work against my muses. Sometimes I don’t feel like painting during my painting week. Maybe my writing muse decides to abandon me on my designated writing week. The work required to move, cover, and rearrange everything usually meansI turned around and walked out of the studio, not having accomplished anything.

The addition of paper prints means that I have now added to the storage dilemma since these things need to be stored flat. So I have embarked on a mission to streamline and organize.

The mess created by painting requires the greatest amount of clean up time so it makes sense to dedicate the room to painting only.

Fortunately, my son moved out (only kidding, Paul, I DO miss you but I love your room, too) so his former bedroom now sports a writing desk and bookshelf of research and reference materials. Easy fix. As long as the desk remains clean, the room is shipshape for guests.

The quilting takes up a lot of space – sewing machine, cutting table, ironing space, fabric.  So, I am opting to quilt only in the same months one should eat oysters. If you are now confused, there is an old wives’ tale you should only eat oysters in months with an “R” in them, so May through August are out. This corresponds perfectly with the months in which we receive a lot of beach guests, so my sewing machine and Ikea sawhorses and cutting/ironing boards will be moved into a corner of the studio in summer (I never have time to quilt in the summer anyway) and back into the spare room for the other three seasons, leaving my art studio to be, well, a studio. The fabric drawers tuck nicely into a closet and still leave room for guests to hang things during visits, plus it is all out of sight most of the time. This has the added bonus of not reminding my dear husband just how much fabric has been purchased.

FOR THOSE WHO JUST WANTED THE GOOD BITS, HERE THEY ARE…

My wet canvas/ print storage issues were solved with a little Yankee ingenuity, and this is really the point of this post. I saw a number of homemade racks from wood, but they seemed bulky and heavy. Plus, they required the use of power tools and, frankly, that was too much work for me. So I perused Pinterest and Amazon and an alternative solution formed in my brain. I picked up a 48″ wide, 72″ tall, 18″ deep, metal rack at the local big box home store. It basically snaps together. They have cheaper, lighter plastic versions of this too, and they would work just as well since the canvases are light, but I figured this rack may eventually be used elsewhere and the metal was sturdier. Then I bought a light gauge roll of wire, easily twisted and cut. Only tools needed were a pair of wire cutters and a rubber mallet. The rest was easy.

I now have a canvas drying rack with print storage on two shelves. If I need a large drying space for a big painting I can still employ the trusty shower curtains on top of the prints and packaging materials and lay an oversized canvas on top. No more tripping on wet work, no more obstacle course. I also grabbed an old kitchen rack for drying dishes or storing pot lids for small works of 12″ or less.

Cost: < $100 (plastic would be even cheaper, < $50) Not tripping over wet paintings and having room to breathe in the studio, Priceless.

 

 

PRINTS ARE HERE!

I have prints available of MANY of my paintings including the Buddhas and Door paintings. I have also just given the final OK on the proofs for the signed, limited edition prints of the following paintings. Feel free to contact me for pricing.

Batsto Barn, Autumn

Batsto 300 dpi
Batsto Barn, Autumn

The Glider

img_2413
The Glider, 20 x 24, Oil

Are You Ready for your Close-Up?

img_2408

Are You Ready for your Close Up? 20 x 20 Oil

Selling at Art Fairs and Festivals

Well, this weekend I take the plunge to sell my art locally at the High Fliers Art Market on LBI.  I shut my eyes, held my nose, and decided not to stick my toe in the waters. Instead, I am jumping in with both feet.

I was expecting that this venture would have some start-up costs, and I was prepared for most of them. But the closer the day gets, the more things I realize I need to do this successfully, and a lot of the costs will not likely be recouped for awhile, but that’s what happens when you become serious about this as a business.

For anyone thinking about doing this, I have a quick to do/to get list for you and it is by no means complete…

First, have an online presence with your brand–and make your name as an artist part of that brand.  That means twitter, facebook, and an online website or blog to showcase your art. And do keep it current!

Second, you need inventory. I had lots of paintings, but most were of subjects relating to my time in Asia. Around here, country scenes and seaside subjects would sell far better.. I am not the quickest oil painter in the world, so I refrained from starting down this road until I had enough originals to show well in a sales booth. Make sure you remember to wire them all before the week of the show.

Original oils cost money, so to make my booth more appealing, I also had some nice inexpensive prints made up and a couple of really nice fine arts prints made of the paintings I thought would sell best. These options allow for several different price points.

Now, this is as far as I had originally gone when I decided to make the move to sell. I quickly realized there were MANY more things needed to do this and look like I knew what I was doing. Here is a short list. If you are just starting out, borrow the things you can until you see how this is going to work for you. Another alternative is to ask fellow artists in your local guild or art association. Often, there are members who no longer want to do these shows but may be willing to art with some or all of their display equipment.

The take list:

tent, with sides (especially at the windy shore areas), stakes and sandbags

a banner with your brand and preferable some of your art showcased on it

racks for your art (by the way, at a recent festival I saw someone zip tie low-cost wire fencing to the legs of their tent and it worked great. I wish I had thought of that before buying racks), and single drapery hooks to hang the art

receipt book (I use an order book so I can get buyers’ addresses for my records + a “PAID” stamp

a means to take credit card sales on your phone -this is imperative if you are selling originals or any art over $100 — squared up can get you started for free in this but there are many companies

cash box stocked with change (by the way, be smart and price your art to end in 5s and 0s -much easier for making change)

a couple of camp chairs because 8 hours in a tent standing up is NOT comfortable

price tags, markers, red dots (to mark sold pieces)

small folding table (I got 24 x 48 because my banner is 4 ft wide and I can affix it right to the front of the table

I got clip on cup holders for the table so my coffee wouldn’t spill when the table inevitably gets bumped and end up all over my receipts

table easels, boxes, etc to place art at different heights

table cloth, covers for boxes and stands

business cards, promo information, flyers with your business info on it

plastic sleeves, backing, mats, –whatever you need to package your work for customers and make it waterproof

safe storage for transporting your art — the wise ladies in my art association snap up old blankets and comforters at garage sales and sew them up into art bags with handles to cushion large pieces. You can also make flat padded rectangles for placing between works in the same bag

coffee thermos or cold drinks and toilet paper (never fails to be prepared)

price guidelines for your work (in case there are any questions on site)

umbrella, sweatshirt, snacks, sunscreen, bug repellent, sunglasses – whatever you need for your environment

if you can, take some art to work on while there–folks love to see you at work

A fishbowl or big clear cookie jar with a sign to drop in your email/name/address or business cards for a drawing for a free print (i.e. new client list)

pad and pen, just in case

for us over 50s -don’t forget your reading glasses

Finally, take your sense of humor and a big dose of patience–things go wrong so be ready to be flexible.

I AM STILL GREEN AT THIS – IF ANY OF MY ARTIST FRIENDS HAVE SOME ADVICE ON THINGS I AM MISSING, OR HAVE OTHER SUGGESTIONS, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, PLEASE.

 

 

 

NEW! Works in Progress

I promised I would give a preview of the new stuff I am working on for the High Fliers Art Market on October 8th in Brant Beach. Here are some of the new oils in progress. I am putting more than one in on the progress where I have them to show. (Sometimes I forget to take photos of my WIPs.)

I love doing these sea creatures. Got a favorite? Let me know.

img_2410img_2413img_2415img_2408img_2409img_2419

 

Studio Yu

zhou-zhuang-300-dpi

My friend, Jenny Yu is an artist, art lover, and entrepreneur. Her cooperative art site is a wonderful and novel way of connecting with artists and purchasing art in an entirely new way. I was fortunate enough to be chosen for Studio Yu and the image you see here is the painting chosen to represent me on their website.

This painting depicts a wonderful canal town in Southeastern China called Zhouzhuang.

Please check out Studio Yu, and “stay tuned for updates”.  🙂

I’m working…

The trouble with many passions is that you only have 24 hours in a day. I have not been in the studio for a week or so. My writing muse has been feeling ignored, and I have been trying to placate her.

I did spend the entire day in the art studio today and promise there will be a number of new additions posted very soon.

I will also have some photos from the Zentinels hanging in Lacey and the Little Egg Harbor library reception which is tomorrow evening at 7 PM.

If you are in the area, please stop in. There are some wonderful paintings in this group show!