Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The fatal flaw in my liberation attempt...

You might remember a couple of months ago I signed up to take part in Kat Sloma’s Liberate your Art project where each participant sent off 5 postcards to Kat and once she had received them all she then sent out 5 at random to each participant along with one of her own so that in total we would each receive 6 postcards from anywhere and everywhere.

Well, I was super pleased that I had printed my postcards off (albeit slightly upside down depending on which way you turned the card over to see the writing on the other side!) and got them posted off to Kat in America before the deadline of 15 July 2011. I had decided to write an art quote on each of the cards and was equally pleased I’d done that without any spelling mistakes!

The one thing I overlooked and which only became apparent on receipt of the first postcard in the swap was that I had completely forgotten to include any details of who I am or where my blog can be found!! D’oh – as far as sending my art out into the world goes in a bid to reach new as yet unknown fellow bloggers and artists, it was, as my stepson would say, an epic fail! Not much point in trying to promote my artwork around the world if I don’t bother to mention who I actually am!

So, once all the cards had been posted by Kat and received by the participants, Kat invited us all to blog link to her website Kat Eye View so that we could each learn more about who we sent art to and who we in turn received art from. This was to be done over the weekend of 26-28 August – another failure on my part as I am only getting round to doing it now.

I have a good excuse in that I was bopping away to Bjorn Again – an amazing Abba Tribute band in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace in England where we were over visiting my sister for the weekend.  Look - photographic evidence!

My sister and me enjoying a nice pear cider!

Abba Tribute band, Bjorn Again

Bjorn Again - they were fab!

Also to date I have received 4 cards and the 1 that Kat herself sent so I was sort of waiting until I received all 6 before blogging about the project. I'm guessing that the last 1 got lost in the post however and so, with many huge apologies, I am adding this very late post to the blog link (if it isn't too late!).

Just to recap - and for anyone who might read this who received one of my cards so that you know who sent it after all - these are the cards I sent out into the world via Kat:-

I also went through all the blogs who’ve linked up about the project so far but only came across 2 who’ve received my postcards – I wanted to leave a comment to let them know I'm the absentminded artist who sent the anonymous postcards! Maybe the others haven’t gotten round to blogging yet either which may mean I’m not the last to the party after all!

Anyway, huge thanks to Kat who undertook a big old job as there were:-

1020 pieces of art in total

By 170 participants

From 37 US states

And 13 countries

That’s a lot of sorting out and all while she was packing up to move from Italy back to Oregon!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Paint Party Friday...Fair's fair...

So, the Style Fair.  Well, it was interesting and it was a definite learning experience.  What it wasn't, unfortunately, was a roaring success as far as sales go. I did make back the cost of taking a stall plus a bit besides, so I wasn't out of pocket and now anything I didn't sell (which was most of it!) has gone on sale in my Etsy shop so it wasn't a waste of time. 

The things I learnt:

  1. Style Fair's mainly attract folk who want to buy clothes. Therefore, next time I will take a stall at a fair specifically for arts & crafts.
  2. Lots of folk will compliment your work, pick it up and ooh and aah over it, then just walk off without buying anything.
  3. People don't necessarily want to 'engage' with the stall holder - many folk just like to be left alone to browse (I am one of those people - nothing puts me off more than a pushy sales pitch).
  4. It is very difficult not to engage with folk whilst simultaneously being engaging. You don't want to sit reading or talking to S in case it appears rude to folk who may want to engage but equally you don't want to sit staring at them willing them to look at you. Very off-putting, I imagine.
  5. Subsequently it is very difficult to adopt a smiley, happy expression so you don't look like a grump at the same time as not making eye contact.  The result is sort of staring into the middle distance with an inane grin.
  6. It is best to have a float of loose coins to bring with you as folk never seem to have the right change.
  7. It is best not to browse round the other stalls whilst leaving S in charge as it is likely all the money you do make will be spent on lovely things you just have to have before someone else snaps them up.
  8. See No. 7 above - I bought a lovely scarf (which is for a present so doesn't count!) and resisted buying a lovely sweater, a lovely necklace and some lovely cushion covers!
  9. It is necessary to have or very quickly develop a thick skin - folk seem oblivious to the fact that you are standing right there when they are making derogatory comments about the stuff on your stall!!
  10. The items you think will be popular may in fact be the things that don't sell, whilst the things you brought just to bulk up your stock may actually sell out - different strokes for different folks.

Funny story to illustrate point 9 above - I only sold one Twisty Town (ironically the first one I did so I could maybe not have bothered with the other 14!) The lady who bought it came to my stall and stood for ages deliberating about which one - she was lovely and said she thought they were great and would definitely be back to get one.  Her mum stood beside her with her face screwed up and said 'You aren't seriously going to get one of those are you?' I'm standing there with that inane grin on my chops thinking, 'I'm standing RIGHT HERE! I can HEAR YOU!'.  

Off they went, but sure enough the lady came back later and eventually selected the one she wanted.  Her mum was looking at me with an incredulous expression on her face while her daughter tried to decide.  She then kept looking at her daughter, back to me then back to the Twisty Towns as if she just couldn't believe she was going to part with her cash until eventually her daughter said, 'Mum, that's the artist you're doing that to, don't be so rude!' I just keep on smiling inanely. Still, at least I sold one!

I genuinely thought that the note cards with the Walkies and Purrfect Nostalgia series on would be more popular.  However, it turned out to be a card that I almost brought as an afterthought that sold the most that day. I put out 5 of each design and all 5 of this one sold (I even had a couple of spares which sold too). It just shows that different things appeal to different people. It was this one:

On the upside, I did meet a lovely lady who is a stylist and has a style studio.  She is a huge dog lover and said that she would be interested in stocking my greeting cards in her studio.  She took my business card so fingers crossed something might come from that.   

I also met a woman who was interested in commissioning me to do a Twisty Town on a much larger canvas.  She said it would go perfectly in her newly decorated living room but she would have to run it by her husband first.  Hopefully, he'll agree and I'll hear back from her.

Anyway, I know this isn't strictly me bringing a work in progress to Paint Party Friday but I thought you might like some feedback from the fair and also I decided to have a week off from art after working so hard getting all the Twisty Towns finished.  So, this week we have mostly been painting our bedroom and our living room. Not art but it has inspired me to work on some new things to hang on the walls. I've started something for our bedroom which, if it works, could look really nice.  It's something I've never tried before so equally it could go horribly wrong! Stay tuned for the results!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Paint Party Friday...ménage à trois...

So,  the Twisty Town journey is almost complete. I say almost because Saturday will be the true test,  as it's then that they will take up (temporary) residence on a table in a hall in Newtownabbey (a town I've never visited before!) before hopefully going on to live full and happy lives on the walls of discerning art lovers the length and bredth of the province (or maybe that's only in my dreams!). I am hugely excited and very nervous.

I've spent this week printing off greetings cards, handstamping the boarders of each card, packing them up in their little cello bags and then designing and printing off signs for my stall as well as little pricing postcards. I've also printed off copies of some of my pointy portraits to display just in case I could drum up some future commissions that way.

I've deliberated over how much I should charge for each of the Twisty Towns.  S thought I was charging too little and should increase it a bit, based on the fact that once I take into account the canvas, the paints, the crackle glaze and the time it took me to do them I'd probably make about 5p profit! So, just in case, I've printed off a few different pricing postcards and if they don't sell for the higher price I can reduce it as the day goes on . Mind you, any that don't sell will be going into my Etsy and Folksy shops so it's not like I'll be giving them away at rock bottom prices at the fair!

Anyway, these were the last three canvasses and I was feeling a little out of ideas when S suggested that I do a triptych - he didn't use that word but I vaguely remembered reading it somewhere once and googled it to see if it was an actual thing - and it is - so I decided to use it so it sounds like I know what I'm talking about!

So, I came up with this scenario loosely based on the new Peace Bridge recently opened across the River Foyle in my hometown of Derry, or Londonderry if you prefer (you can see why we might need a 'peace' bridge!).

I don't actually like the design of the real bridge very much - the big spikey things don't appeal to me and I kind of object to them spending £14 million to build it. I mean seriously, we've already got two perfectly good road bridges going over the river so I'm not altogether sure why we needed to build a foot bridge that will only make it easier for the little yobs from either side of the city to terrorise anyone trying to walk across it.  In fact the link I attached here depressingly details how vandals attacked the bridge only two weeks after it was opened. Is it any wonder I feel the need to create quirky, pretty, little imaginary towns when the real life ones we live in are so full of doom and gloom?

Anyway, on a lighter note, that's all 15 canvasses finished, about 100 cards printed and I'm pretty much all set for my first experience in trying to sell my art in a real live venue (and am also looking forward very much to having a nosy round all the other vintage, retro clothing stalls and hand made jewellery).  I will of course take my camera with me to record the day and will no doubt bore you all with the minutae of the event in due course!

Oh and the title of these paintings isn't really ménage à trois, it's 'Bridging the Gap' but I figured the title might intrigue folk to pop over here (even though they'll obviously be very disappointed when they get here!!)

Happy Paint Party Friday - apologies in advance if I don't get a chance to visit many folk this weekend but I'll get there next week!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Green, green grass of home....

Of course, that's a song about Wales and I've never been there (apart from a work training course in Cardiff back in 1993 which was anything but green, if I remember correctly) but I couldn't think of another title, sorry!

This is Twisty Town number 12 of 15. Phew, we're nearly there. Now, I've just got to try and sell the wee blighters on Saturday!

This is similar in style to the original twisty town that I did in the Sketchbook Project 2011 but this time I decided to do it in green.  I planned on sticking to the one colour palette for all of the canvasses but then once I did a couple of the multi-coloured ones it seemed that folk preferred them so it will be interesting (and nerve-wracking) to see which, if any, are the first to sell at the fair.  I suppose I was thinking that if people have a specific colour scheme in their home they might like a painting in that colour but, equally, I guess folk might like the multi-coloured one just to brighten up a neutral room.  I can but hope!

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Peachy Keen, Jellybean...

The title of today's post just happens to be my favourite line from Grease (one of my favourite movies) and Rizzo, who said it, was my favourite character.  It just seemed appropriate for this particular Twisty Town.  

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Paint Party Friday...Rainy reflections...

Rainy Reflections
So, back to the Twisty Towns.  I've still got another 6 to blog about and this is one of them!  I think this is my favourite so far just because I love lights reflected in rain. I adore photographs where car headlights are reflected on a rainy street and blur almost into globes of colour.

Anyway, I thought I would try my hand at a bit of reflection on a grey rain soaked street - this was also based on the colourful villages in Kerry but with the more typical Irish weather included! I know it seems that I've been banging on about the weather a lot recently - sorry - I really do have other things to think about most of the time. But I find that, as my English literature teacher used to say about Wuthering Heights, the weather really does make for a sympathetic background to the plot. And so it is for my art inspiration at the moment!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and you can get it started with a wee party hosted, as always, by Kirstin and Eve over on Paint Party Friday.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Time for a new season...

Winter Blues

I don't know about anyone else but I am officially over summer, or what passes for summer around these parts.  I long to live somewhere with distinct seasons - where come June I can put my boots and sweaters away until at least the end of September.  

We can't plan for any outdoors activity here with any real hope that the weather will play ball. Just the other day I phoned S from the train station in Belfast to see if he wanted to meet me at the park with the dogs because the sun was out and the sky was blue only to arrive in Bangor 30 minutes later to be greeted with grey skies and rain!! The unpredictable appearance of the sun here necessitates me bringing both umbrella and sunglasses everywhere I go - just in case.  I could leave my coat at home some days only for the heavens to open 20 minutes later.  Aggh.  Of course, the other side of the whinging coin is that while we Irish complain non-stop about our rubbish weather at least we don't need to worry about our homes being hit by tornadoes, hurricanes or earthquakes. Yes, we're pretty safe from weather extremes, I suppose.

Anyway, I've noticed a definite shortening to the days already and I can't help but look forward to winter when at least I can leave my sunglasses at home and replace them with gloves instead.  With that in mind, this Twisty Town seemed appropriate - I did this a while ago just after Rosy Reflections which was all about summer heat and this made me nostalgic for the cold, frosty winter breaks S and I have take for the last few years.  Roll on winter, I say, you know where you are with an Irish winter and I for one am looking forward to complaining about the snow instead!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Paint Party's like free money...

Close up of the eye

Brodie - work in progress - pen and ink stippled.
Brodie posing!

So, first things first - This is my contribution to Paint Party Friday this week - You might remember how I did the pointy portrait of our boy dog, Reuben, a while back? Well, I couldn't not also do one of our girl dog, Brodie, and after umpteen attempts to get just the right photograph to work from, I started it this week (a half hour here and there during my lunchbreak at work).  It's a work in progress obviously, but although I've finished a few more Twisty Towns, this seemed appropriate for what I really wanted to talk about this week which is this...

Money for nothing (sort of!)

As anyone who is a regular visitor to my blog will no doubt know, animals are the thing I get most fired up about - more specifically the never ending catalogue of horrific things that humans (with the alleged superior intelligence) inflict upon the creatures that we share this planet with. Anyway, it's for that reason that if I ever sign a petition or donate to charity  then more often than not, it will be in support of one of the planet's creatures or another.  For me it's animals, for you it might be children, the elderly or a cancer charity - we all have something that affects us personally or just means a lot to us for one reason or another.

Recently, I discovered Easyfundraising - a website set up specifically to help those of us who regularly shop online (and let's face it, credit crunch or not, who doesn't shop online these days?).  It couldn't be easier - you register your email address and choose the charity you'd like to donate to then each time you plan on treating yourself to something online, instead of going directly to the retailer's website you simply go via Easyfundraising's website and the retailer will automatically donate a percentage of what you spend.

It doesn't actually cost you a penny but you are helping the charity of your choice everytime you indulge in a spot of online retail therapy -what's not to love!

Easyfundraising email you to confirm that a donation has been made and then every couple of months they let you know how much has been raised for your chosen charity.  I have two using two different email addresses - Dog's Trust which is a well known UK charity and Assisi Animal Sanctuary which is a small animal refuge in my home town.  I got an email about both of these letting me know how much was being sent to them this month.  Unfortunately, even though Assisi has a lot of local support, only 3 people are registered with Easyfundraising and so we didn't raise enough to warrant sending a cheque this time around (It has to be over £15).  This is why I felt compelled to write this post - it seems crazy to me that more people wouldn't register - it's the easiest possible way to raise money for the charity of your choice! 

Although Easyfundraising is for UK charities, I'm sure if any folk reading this from anywhere else in the world wanted to help raise funds for a charity that means something to them, they could still register and shop (E.g Amazon, Ebay) via Easyfundraising anyway. It is, after all, the charitable thing to do :0)

Happy Paint Party Friday!


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