Friday, November 13, 2009

Art & coffee go together like...

Thanks to my friend Gweneth for alerting me to this one. Shows that coffee really is necessary for the making of art!
Artist assistants stand next to 3,604 cups of coffee which have been made into a giant Mona Lisa in Sydney , Australia. The 3,604 cups of coffee were each filled with different amounts of milk to create the different shades!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why we should bother with art

Been a bit slow here today, again (Thursday) but just found this fabulous list as to why we do art. Visual Art Teachers and parents, note!

Gallery Sitting -Tues, Wednesday and Thursday Week 2

Ok - So I have been slack in not keeping up these posts. I'd like to say it's because the sales have been coming thick and fast, but that's not it -though I have been busy. Most of my art buddies and sundry other friends have made the time to come catch up with me and my work these last few days, so I have been having a rather full, chatty and social time. I thank them all for their support of, and appreciation of my work - I feel loved and valued.
There has been "hold" dots coming and going all over the place - usually for the same pieces. And these are pieces I don't consider my best works, even if my partner does, the moral in that story is I will take his advice when hanging a show for sale, but use my own instincts (almost universally agreed to by my artist friends) when entering competitions or deciding what work to pursue.
One other thing has helped as well. I had been down about the lack of sales, and how to fit the work back in my studio, the costs how to make an income (you know the drill) and I am sure I was not very nice to live with.
Then I realised that I have made this decision to practice art seriously with both my eyes open. I'm old enough not to be naive and have worked in other industries successfully. Why be an artist? Initially, it was because I love it, unreservedly. Now, I can't NOT do it. So...if I'm going to do it anyway, then I may as well enjoy it, and stop making it a rod for my own back, and that of those closest to me. When I decided I wasn't going to bitch about it anymore, to accept the inevitable ups and downs and that I was where I wanted to be, I felt an immediate sense of relief and change of mood. I recommend it to you!
By the way, afterwards, I got a call from someone who I subsequently showed some studio works to, who looks like they might buy a few pieces. And last night, a group from the Art Gallery of NSW came in to the complex...and they stayed mostly in my Gallery. I awoke to an email from one of that group inquiring about some works, wanting to reserve a piece today. Yet to convert, but I can sell one at a time -baby steps (as a good friend of mine says).
Stay tuned.
Image: Gabrielle Jones, Tree Line Triptych 2009 Oil on Canvas 90 x 60cm each

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lay Day at the Gallery - Sculpture by the Sea

Had a lovely day off today - great weather, beautiful setting (Bondi to Tamarama Walk), wonderful sculpture and my ipod playing classical, world, and iconic favourite music. What more could you want?
So here's the slide show of some of the sculptures (aplologies to those not included - technical difficulties).
Images Top Guiliana De Fleice "Signs of 2009"; Middle:Belinda Villani "Tribute to a Workhorse";
Bottom: Tim Burns "Why Cars Road Kill Retablo".

Day 6 Gallery-Sunday

Well I’ll admit it. I am disappointed and very over this gallery sitting thing.

It’s Sunday, and people wander in like it’s a mall, have a five minute look, point a painting out to their friends (if I'm lucky) and wander out again –almost quicker than I can notice, get up and hand them some information. It’s FREE Sunday entertainment, I think. (I know, I’m supposed to remain positive and think about all those people suddenly becoming aware of my work and remembering my name for the next time they, or their friends, are after something to put on their walls. But then I remember that they can hardly remember their work colleague’s names or people they have been introduced to five minutes earlier – and then I get depressed).

Where are all those people on opening night who promised to return on Sunday to decide which painting they wanted?

And where are the galleries I invited to view the work? Let alone the gallery I have just begun exhibiting with – aren’t they supposed to be interested enough in my work for shows in the future?

I’m confused (not an uncommon state, of late).

So I think I should leave it at that and spend some time thinking nice thoughts and getting my mojo back – and wasting some more time until it’s time to knock off.

Image: Gabrielle Jones, Night Shadows 09 Oil on Canvas 100x100cm (Something suitably dark for my mood!)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Day 5 Gallery-Saturday

(Note: I am publishing two day s together - the internet cable began smoking so I have been without communications!)

The opening night went really well, despite it being a Friday night – too well, and I am paying for it today (It’s only because I didn’t eat enough and my head was spinning all night, re-living the conversations, so I didn’t sleep well enough, really it was!) There were about 50 people here and half of those retired to the café with me afterwards, and I had a ball!

A number of guests have promised to return this weekend and make a decision – should I have somehow given them a sense of urgency to buy now? I learnt a little from musing about this so was ready for the next person who was undecided. One of the people I had identified as a buyer during the week, returned with her husband and chose three possible paintings for her newly renovated house. I asked her whether she wanted to put them on hold, and she did – so I put those paintings (which had been displayed in the storage area) into the main gallery with half stickers on them as soon as I possibly could! If others see this, will they, too, part with their money?

Another man (also identified as more serious during the week) returned to buy a small painting that had been popular with the “undecided” lot at the gallery opening. He told me he wanted to start the “avalanche of red dots” and thought I deserved to sell out. Very sweet and much appreciated!

In general, the feedback has been very complimentary. One lady even told me I’d be famous one day! (I ‘d like to be able to afford to live until then, but the comment was gracefully accepted even so). I try to ask any people who stay long enough with the work which of them is their favourite. Almost every item in the gallery has been nominated by someone, which attests to the quality control I tried to maintain when painting the pictures and editing for the hang…so that part seems to have worked.

Again, a little light questioning of those coming into the gallery reveals that most are artists. Also had another artist come to the gallery because of the ad in Art Almanac – does this publication only appeal to artists? Both buyers have come into the complex because they know it is here and there is likely to be something they like amongst the nine galleries who are here – so the strategy of being amongst galleries in a self hire space is accurate.

I was considering closing early today, as I have a wedding to attend, but there is a last minute rush closer to 5pm so I am staying open. I need a coffee to stay awake!

Day 4 Gallery

It’s been a bit busier today (how could it not?) but most visitors have been artists. One older lady was quite knowledgable in aboriginal art, having begun collecting twenty years ago. She likened my work to that of Kudditji, Emily Kingwarrye’s brother (and even corrected my pronounciation – the “d’s” are pronounced like “b’s”). It’s not the first time, and I take it as a compliment.

Another man has a number of Belinda Fox’s works on paper and he likened my drawing to one of hers. He prefers the totems and loves the abstract paintings, and had decided to come into the gallery because he’d had an awful day and needed to fill his brain with something beautiful or interesting. I loved that! He thanked me for making his day – how nice is that? Maybe that’s why we paint.

Two artists were having their “art day” – had been to see the Sculpture by the Sea, the Dobell Drawing prize, and made a special trip to see my work. They commented that they looked through the Art Almanac, and said my work was the only thing that interested them. Again, glad the advertising worked.

At least most of the people who looked today spent time really interacting with the work, which has buoyed my confidence up. (It’s a day-to-day thing, and probably one of the hardest tasks sitting here all the time, sometimes watching our work be disregarded before even really looked at. An artist friend, who visited today, remarked that you really needed to spend time with the work. I consider art is present when time with the work means it continues to engage, rather than become wallpaper, so I am happy with that comment, too.
I am now preparing, mentally and physically, for the opening night – I hope it goes well. A few red dots would be helpful, leading into the weekend. Fingers Crossed!

Image: Tree Line VII installed next to Tree Still LIfe -with breathing space and a red dot!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Day 2 & 3 in the Gallery

Well , it was cooler in the gallery today (day 2) and there were a few more people who visited. Now I know I really would rather be painting!
Anyway, I changed the hang of the work with the help of two visiting artist friends. The first didn't like my "Totems" or sculpture, but loved the paintings and felt they needed to have more primacy. He particularly liked a few pieces and recommended they be alone on the wall. (It's expensive space, and my hanger felt we needed to put as many middle sized paintings on the wall as possible, because they were more likely to sell, while maintaining a circumspect few feet of space between them).
In the end, I have the same number of paintings on the wall, but the main piece is sitting on a wall with only a small, complimentary piece next to it, rather like an installation. I separated my totems and moved them through the gallery space - they now are better seen individualy, and link the elements of the exhibition better. The sculptures "talk" to the paintings. This was achieved with the help of the other artist friend.
I also changed another piece and hung it with an original choice, and these two now compliment each other.
Which all goes to show that:
1. Each space requires specific attention regarding the hang of the work. What you think goes together in the studio, may not go together in the gallery.
2. You can "Get by with a little help from your friends" (and not without at least one honest, visually aware, independent reviewer!)
3. An exhibition needs to be hung on one day, and reviewed on the next. (I got to the point where I couldn't see the paintings - I was just too tired).
4. Disparate elements in an exhibition (and, in my opinion, you need them to give a spark to the work - otherwise, same old, same old and why buy one when there are so many pieces the same?) must be placed throughout the gallery to provide some continuity and to cement the "flow of the show".
5. White walls sell paintings (yet to be confirmed!)
What do you think of the new hang?
BTW I am persisting with the price list at the rear of the gallery - interaction with people, even if they are "tyre kickers" is definitely preferable to dying of boredom. This might change for opening night!

Day 3 - There were about 5 people who came into the gallery complex today. I went to by coffee to find that the cafe was full, as was the one across the road, and there were people milling around the street, looking at the homewares shops. So I guess they don't like art? It just goes to show that art and painting is important to those of us who are involved in the industry, but not to the general public. Perhaps we should show in a cafe?
Anyway, the highlight was engaging with an artist from France who spent time in Tahiti (where I had a residency) and it was nice to reminisce. (Most visitors to the gallery, by the way, have been artists).I was invited to opening drinks of the other depot gallery, which is being hired by a very reputable gallery from Hobart, so it was interesting to talk to the Director about the state of the art as he sees it and to see avery good show by his exhibiting artits, Anika Kapoor.
I then had to hot foot it over to my studios, where there was an open day for the public - met more people - again, mostly artists- but had good feedback on my work. Absolutely exhausted, and need to back up to the Gallery today, bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for my own opening tonight. Why do we do this again??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Professional Art Practice put to the test

Since showing your work at a self-funded gallery may be the ultimate test of professional practice, I will be bringing you daily posts of what it’s like sitting in the Gallery every day with my paintings on display; the people I’ve met, or anything else that occurs to me as useful for us all to know. Perhaps we artists don’t realise what the galleries do for us?

Diary-Day 1 Solo Show (at Danks St) IS Melbourne Cup day …and (obviously) early in the week, so that explains the fact that I have had only three people walk into the gallery since opening at 11am (sharp!) this morning. It’s now 2:15pm and I am terribly bored.

The first told me she liked my work and then continued to tell me why she couldn’t paint, (she didn’t have time, she was always running around at her husband’s request; that no-one supported her, no subject matter gave her a burning desire to paint etc etc – the usual); the second visitor came for about one minute- long enough for me to give him a bio/statement/price list until his wife came in and dragged him away; and the other was the director of the Gallery across the way returning a key I had leant him. About three other groups of people have looked in and kept walking – were they on their way to an appointment with another gallery? Did my stuff just not grab them?

And because I have time, I got to thinking-

What’s the best way to Set up and Man a gallery, to get sales? So I thought I’d moot this for a discussion topic.

I have decided to place the info sheets regarding my work on the table I am sitting at, in the back of the gallery space, rather than leave it by the door. That way I need to get up and approach the visitor with the price list, have a chance to greet the visitor and introduce myself, offer to answer any questions they may have…and usually, begin to blabber a bit much.

What is the best way to interact with people in the gallery situation?

Perhaps we should have a bit of a conversation about this – your comments will help me, now, and others in the future regarding this vexed thing on selling our artwork direct. What do you think about not placing the price list at the door like everyone else? What is a good opening line to someone that has walked in the door, after you hand them a list? Am I creating confusion by not doing the expected (placing the list by the door), and if so, how else do I engage people who walk in to the gallery, so they spend some time looking at the work, without feeling pressured?

What has worked for you?

On the other important matter, the photos here show how I have set up the gallery. Do you think I have hung it well? Should I have more or less work?

Your comments will help us all when we need to sell our work direct.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trees for my Father -Gulp!

By the time you receive this, all the painting, framing (fingers crossed!), signing and naming, cataloguing, pricing, writing of press releases (some will be published, surely!), uploading onto social or otherwise media, bank relationship building, schmoozing with potential clients, galleries and beautiful-people-who-make-an-event-exciting, will have been done and my solo show, Trees for my Father, will have been opened, looking fabulous and I will be quietly reading a book on funds management in preparation for the spending spree I will undertake with all the money I earn from this fabulously successful show.
Or, not.
You, on the other hand, could be more interested in betting on a horse in The Melbourne Cup.
Either way, you are invited to the opening on Friday 6th, or, if you can't make it, any time 11-6 Tuesday-Sat or 10:30-3:30pm Sun Depot II gallery, 2 Danks St Waterloo NSW.
Come see what all the fuss is about, and whether or not I am entitled to even write about professional studies! See you there!
Image: Tree Lines, 2009; Pigment Ink, Charcoal, Acrylic, Watercolour, Pastel on Canson paper 74 x 164cm framed.


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