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A few things I learned at my art show

10 A few things I learned at my art show

Well I had another show at the Santa Fe Artists Market this past Saturday.  The previous week was rough and it was time to redeem myself.  What made it rough you may ask?  Well, it was windy, and people don’t like wind.  The more wind=less people, therefore less potential customers.  Wind is my new enemy.  Love Mother Nature, hate the wind.  Wind can also potentially destroy tents, blow artwork off the tables, and just plain create havoc everywhere.

So this week, I wanted to do better, mentally prepare myself, bring some great artwork, adjust my attitude and being more positive.  And pray there is little wind.

So here are a few things I learned at my art show this time.

  • Make sure you have your good tableclothes at the show.  It’s the one thing I did forget and I couldn’t go back to retrieve them, the show was starting.  Check the night before and make a list of everything you’re going to bring, put it out by your bed so you won’t forget to bring it the next day.  Fortunately, I did have some blankets in my car that I used instead.  You can see for yourself in the above photo.
  • Get some good night sleep.  I went to bed a little late, maybe 12:30am.  I wanted to relax the night before and just bought the original Karate Kid movie and watched it.  Had several burgers and chocolate wine too.  It’s ok to relax and let loose, but try to go to bed early if you have to get up at 5:30am.  I wasn’t too tired, but I could’ve had more sleep.
  • Love your neighbor. All of the vendor’s tents were very close, every inch counts, so get along with your neighbors and don’t have tent wars.  It will create bad vibes that could haunt you during the day.  I was in a good mood and had patience.  It’s pressure enough selling your art, but don’t fight with other vendors if you can help it.
  • Experiment with your booth. I just started to push the tables to the front of the booth so everything will be forward without much guesswork where  things are.  I even took 2 grids, took bungee cords with large clips and attached to my tables, to create a wall for my larger work to hang.  Nothing wrong with experimenting, I’m just trying to find the right setup that works well.  I felt good about this set-up this week.
  • Speaking of Bungee cords, grab a few.  They are valuable for connecting your weights to the tent so your tent won’t go airborne.  They have become like gold to create my walls with my grids.
  • Bring guestbook to collect new fans.  I didn’t have my business cards with me, but I did ask some people who appeared to be true fans that they can sign my guestbook and I’ll shoot them a link to my website.  Plus, they can also receive my free monthly newsletter.  I like this approach, because building trust is essential in maintaining long relationships, and it get the people involved.  It also helps to assure them that you don’t believe in spam.  And I hate getting spam too.
  • Start a conversation or at least smile.  Who wants to stop at a booth with the artist looking so grumpy?  I know I wouldn’t.  I sometimes struggle because some days I’m in a bad mood and it’s hard to wear a fake smile on my face.  I try to greet many people as possible to my booth, start asking them, “Where are you from?”, “What kind of art do you collect?” and so on.  I just want to get to know them better and see if I can help them.  Last thing I want to do is come across like a salesman.  I hate salesmen as much as wind.  I’m down to earth and want to express my true self.  Good presentation keeps you on your toes and makes you look good.   You want to sell art, but just be a bit subtle about it and don’t act like a shark.
  • If the wind does suck, make the best of it.  It was worst this week than last.  Vendor’s merchandise was being thrown around by the wind, some vendor lost 20 clocks.   The market decided to close early as a result.  Vendors even helped each other close down and fold the large tents.  I had a good day in spite of this.  Sold 1 painting and some notecards.  Sometimes you can’t win against nature, but you want to live to show your art another day too.

I hope these steps are helpful to anyone showing work outdoors at an art fair.  I’ll continue sharing my info with all of you interested.  I will put up some new art very soon as well.

Perfection is an illusion after all

I recently completed this little portrait for my girlfriend’s 14-year old niece, Noel.  I wanted to give her a special birthday present, and I always think the best present to give someone is what you make from your heart and soul.  I truly believe that.  Plus, Noel actually wanted a portrait of herself painted.  So in a short afternoon, I painted this oil painting from a photo from a cellphone camera.  Mind you, it wasn’t easy, so I had to plan a few things ahead of time.  Kind of like making a gameplan before a big football game, I had to get my x’s and o’s together.

First, I wanted an “old masters” feel to it.  I liked the idea of a dark background with the figure popping out.  Second I wanted perfection.  Yes, I admit I always do before starting a painting.  For me, it raises the bar, keeps me painting very high standards.  But deep down, I realize that not every painting will turn out a masterpiece as I want it to be. I notice if I try to work to hard, the piece becomes overworked and muddy, therefore no perfection acquired.  Sorry, come back again soon!

It’s only after I finished painting, I realize that I did my best at that possible moment, and I can’t have it back.  So I have to accept it for what it was.  Second, I can always point out good and not so good things happening in my work.  It’s true that you’re your own best and worst critic.  I can be pretty hard on myself too.  It’s probably the hardest thing to accept that this painting came out as good as it will get.  Unless I do another one and who knows how it will turn out.  Maybe that’s why artists over  history painted subjects many times over, to perfect that subject.  Monet painted many haystacks, Van Gogh painted many starry nights.

So I have come to a conclusion.  Perfection is an illusion after all. Maybe our human desires crave perfection in everything we do and want in life.  But in the end, it’s all an illusion (not a grand illusion like Styx, but close).  Humans aren’t perfect, and neither is our thoughts, words, art, culture, government.  Nothing.  Art isn’t perfect, but sometimes can come pretty close.  And yet we strive for perfection in something all the time.  Maybe it’s time to be content with our imperfection, don’t you think?

By the way, Noel liked her portrait.

noel hr e1271992951293 Perfection is an illusion after all

oil on plywood

New commission portrait…on a card

Just finished this portrait commission.  I learned about this opportunity from my old college roomate, saying his friend needed a little drawing in a greeting card and referred me to one of his friends.  I accepted the challenge and drew this from a photo.  I had to keep my pencils very sharp for detail work.  I had to be careful and sensitive about lines.  After all, my job is to make a portrait look good, not old.  This drawing was approved and I’m about to mail it tomorrow.  It was a fun project.  Big or small, it’s good to keep an artist working!

‘Truong & Marilyn’
3.5″x3.5″  graphic on paper/card

card portrait 2 New commission portrait...on a card

Why I started doing art demos

Blue Green 300x225 Why I started doing art demosFor those who read my last post, thank you for taking your valuable time to absorb this artist’s words and art.

Now for the good stuff.  Here’s my latest painting that I completed on Saturday at the Santa Fe Artists’ Market.  I stated that during my art show that I’m a part of, I decided to bring my french easel and start painting during the course of the 4 hour show.  I don’t see too many artists doing this and I wonder why. Why don’t artists do painting demos during their art shows? I like to look at this perspective from two sides, because I think it’s good to challenge your left and right brained ideas.

First the left brain.  It wants to make sales, talk to people about life as an artist, ask questions like, “What kind of art do you collect?” or “Let me know if you have any questions”.  Nothing heavy here, but since many artists are mostly living in a right brain world, talking about your art or anything can be a mighty challenging task.  But artists must focus on sales, not making artwork and potentially missing a sale if self-absorbed in their art.  There’s a lot of pressure, and it’s up to the left brain to take charge and be a convincing salesman.   Nothing wrong with that, but does it sound like the right brain has any say in decision-making?    That means no demos, too right brained.  Darn, less fun, now let’s see the right brain perspective.

Now the right brain.  There’s a lot of creativity in setting up a show.  How should an art booth look attractive, go with a white or red tablecloth?  How should I place the artwork, make a good first impression?  And my new favorite, to bring or not to bring the french easel to do a crowd-pleasing demo.  Well, I just tried that option.  Now I have to admit, I did get caught up in the painting process, maybe I did miss an opportunity to talk with a few people.  I tried my best to look at the corner of my eye, seeing if anyone was looking at my art.  I can tell by now if people are interested, especially if they go through my basket of art and look at the pieces.  But I feel there are more pros than cons in doing some art at an art fair.  First, I want people to see that I’m a working artist and that creating art is not some magical spell only created behind closed doors.  I’m trying to “demystify” the process by doing my art in public.  Plus, it keeps it real for me, as I’m still being myself creating art, and I’m being productive, which makes me happy and content with myself.  And I feel it adds value to your art and profession when you demo in public.  You’re also educating the public, another plus to your credentials.

I’m sure there’s more brain droppings and discoveries to behold, which is why I’ll continue painting at art fairs.  Your art fair booth is like your business/studio away from home, and I feel that I’m welcoming people to my studio, and this is what I do.  And I’m darn proud of it, welcome to my life!

Keep on painting, amigos!