Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm wild for White

Carolina Blue  20X28, oil on linen

Though I am a native born Floridian, North Carolina near Chapel Hill is a major part of my life and family history.  So painting with themes related to my NC roots is major for me.  "Carolina Blue", the fourth painting in my new series of paintings featuring my favorite NC pots and old white fabric family heirlooms is my latest testimony to my heritage. But, something is happening here that I didn't expect when I began.  The nuances of color and temperature changes with white fabric have made me understand grays in a way I have never thought possible.  Now, when I lay out my palette at the beginning of each day, I can mix puddles of white with ease and understanding of what I am seeing.  The "air" of the background colors becomes part of the shadows of the whites of the fabric.  Now when someone asks me what colors you mix to make white, my answer is . . . "depends on what you are seeing."  The teaching advise of  "... if the light shapes are cool, then the shadow colors will be warm and visa-versa"  isn't necessarily so.  Judging value gradations is the other skill that painting white fabric promotes.   The folds, turns, hills, and valleys are much like painting a landscape.   Learning to "see" takes time and painting white can really move that process along--just a suggestion.  I love painting white to the point that I think I am addicted.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Business Planning for Artists - Part 2

Business Planning for Artists – Part 2
In my previous Blog Post on the subject of business planning we reviewed some basic per-planning elements that should be answered by all of us. These elements included your Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and answering the ultimate question of what business you are in. I suggest that you revisit the basic elements reviewed before moving on. That said, here is a basic outline for a general business plan beginning with the Executive Statement (which, by the way, should be written last as it summarizes the whole of you business plan).
  1. Executive Summery
    What business am I in?
    My Vision
    My Mission
    Keys to my success
  2. Business Summary
    My Strengths and Weaknesses
    My Experience
    My Education
    My Business History --- an on-going business or start-up
    My Location and Facilities
  3. Products and Services (or both)
    What do I create (e.g. Custom Fine Art)
    What services to I provide (e.g. Commissioned Work)
    Competitive Comparison
    Source Materials Used
    Technologies Used
    Promotional Materials/Literature
    Future Products possible
  4. Market Analysis Summary
    My Market Segment
    Target Market Strategy
    Market Needs
    Market Trends
    Market Growth
    External Opportunities and Threats
    Market Participants
    Distribution Patterns
    Competitive Factors
    Main Competitors
  5. Strategy and Implementation summary
    Value Position
    Competitive Edge
    Marketing Strategy
    Pricing Strategy
    Promotional Strategy
    Marketing Programs
  6. Financial Plan (there is a whole list of items that can go here, but I need to start making this post a little shorter!)
  7. Personal Plan
Okay, this looks pretty daunting and is why most artists do little if any real business planning. I should also say that this outline is not chiseled in stone, so it is a starting point/suggestion not an absolute! The purpose of a business plan is to focus your attention to the grunt work of business. So if you were to work through even half of the elements of a general business plan outline, you would be in a better position business wise than the average artist. In addition, there are many business planning programs available for both the Mac and PC that will walk you through the planning process. None are all that easy to use in my opinion, but are still worth the effort to learn to use or master. I personally use Business Plan Pro and QuickBooks Pro to help me to better understand my art business and where I stand financially. I will have more to say about art business planning as others ask questions. Until then, please feel free to make comments, or ask your art related question using the comments area. I welcome and appreciate questions and input.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Business Planning for Artists - Part 1

As artists we do not normally think of ourselves as business people. However, if we plan to make a living as artists we are indeed also business people. Recently, through direct E-mail and Twitter, I have been asked about business planning for artists. Business planning in general is a topic that could fill a completely independent blog or website. Here, I will attempt to be brief but still provide some basic information and direction so that you can begin to think about writing your own artist’s business plan.  Sorry, no pictures on this one.

For starters, there are a few fundamental elements that you must think about in order to begin to develop your written business plan for your art businesses. Carefully consider the following points; in a brief paragraph or two you should be able to describe for yourself and have a good basic feel for each of these basic elements:
  • What business are you in? Describe in seven words or less
  • Your Basic Values & Beliefs --- who are you really
  • Vision --- where do you see yourself in two, five or more years
  • Mission --- why do you paint (sculpt or draw) in the first place
  • Internal Strengths and Weaknesses --- what makes you different; make you less competitive
  • External Opportunities and Threats --- gallery or museum invitations; the economy
  • Competition (like it or not we all have competitors!) --- who are you compared to
  • Your Products and Services, Customers, and Markets --- quality matters; who are your clients/collectors; what markets do you play in---sidewalk art shows, galleries
Let me say this right from the get-go: I know as artists that it is difficult to think of our works of art as products, but to the art show art buyer or the gallery owner/dealer that is what our art represents. If you or the gallery can’t sell your work, you are out of business plain and simple! Take a good look at your work or have an unbiased person take a hard look for you. Is the quality of your work equal to or better than others already in the market place you want to play in? Are your artistic skills and standards as high as or higher than those you compete against? Your work represents and speaks for you and you are judged as an artist accordingly. So what does your work say about you?

I will have more to say about art business planning in Business Planning for Artists - Part 2, or as others ask questions. Until then, please feel free to make comments, or ask your art related question using the comments area. I welcome and appreciate questions and input.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Painting White-cont.

It's been weeks since I began "French Lace."  The challenge was painting the white cloth with a focus on value, edges and temperature.  The only way to paint the antique tablecloth was to squint and squint often.  The first go round of squinting was to determine the light shapes and dark shapes.  Light shapes were in the value range from 1 to 4 (some value charts have 10 as white but not mine).  Darks were 5 to 9.  I forced myself to ignore any of the details.  Once the form of the cloth was established and the clay pot blocked in, then and only then, did I focus on the small areas with an eye to color/temperature.  Details were still ignored.

When working this large-36X48 inches, I had to add clove oil to keep the paint wet for a long period of time.  Because the tablecloth was bought in Paris around 1912, the white had a yellowish warm cast.  The only cool blue white was in the area where the light burned out the color and details.

If you have any specific questions about any part of this process, please contact me or ask in the comment section.

Monday, September 5, 2011

M Gallery-Charleston SC


I am so pleased to know that the M Gallery in Charleston did not experience bad weather from hurricane Irene last week.  In fact, they had a well attended opening for Michelle Dunaway with over 200 attending.  There was a lot of interest in the OPA Petite Salon and now you can view it on Facebook.  Check out these images of the Salon
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