Home Is Where The Art Is

If you are an artist, a lover of art then I hope that I can inspire you to do what you love.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

PAW Draw.....ing To An End.

If you weren't aware then you need to know that it is Carnival Week in Swanage. This means normally sane people who go out at the weekends are going out every night. I have been doing just that. I am usually safely on holiday during the Carnival but this year it's going to be a week later. There are some really good events to get involved with. Enough of that, you can check it out for yourself.

We are now entering the final two days of the PAW Draw. It has been really well attended but sales have been a bit thin on the ground. I have to say I am surprised at this as the work is all so reasonable.
I thought people would not be able to resist a bargain. Apparently I was wrong.

If modern, contemporary abstract art is your bag then you are in for a treat. The new exhibition that starts on Saturday is Jan Dagley. I have been working with her to guide her through some of the nuances of printmaking so I am intrigued to see her outcomes. I have heard all about them but I am yet to see them.
If you are around on Saturday night then pop in and take a look.

Friday, 26 July 2013

iPad Drawings Of Dancers

Another busy week at the gallery with plenty of visitors and a few sales. I have included some of my drawings in this blog. The middle image I have sold a couple of times. It is getting excellent feedback from a really wide audience. I knew it would go down a storm as it such an eclectic mix of styles and subject matter. Really should come along and see it if you can. 
It is also carnival week so there are plenty of free activities for families to get involved with. If the weather behaves itself then it should be a good weekend.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I Am Hoping The Gallery Gets Measles!

Why am I hoping that? If it gets filled with red spots I will be very happy. This show allows you to buy brand new art for under £75. There are some really great drawings in this exhibition. It starts tonight at 6.00. Feel free to pop in and drink some wine and look at some original works of art.

I have been working my socks off as the turn around time between exhibitions is only one day. That is a lot of work for one person to do. Some how I seem to be managing it. I think the imminent holiday may be helping me to face the work mountain with a smile on my face.

It has been a billtastic month. I hate it when that happens. An absolutely huge pile of bills land on my doorstep. I wade through them and head straight for denial. I am just joking, I need to space things out more evenly.

I am going to tell you about the Summer of Art that we are having at the gallery over the coming months. I have got some cracking shows lined up. So straight on the heels of the PAW Draw I have Jan Dagley the sublime abstract artist who captures landscapes in her own unique way. Then I have Kim De Beer who captures dreamscapes in an ethereal and haunting style. Both definitely worth a look and maybe a purchase.

I have to let you know about Jan Dagleys 'Wall of Fame'. This will be an entire wall dedicated to purchases under £100. This is an ideal opportunity to grab yourself and original piece of art at a great price. This is to help fund all of her new projects, which I am assured there are many.

Well, I am only just ahead of schedule so I can't spend much longer writing my blog. I have things to do and lunch to eat etc.

Do come and see me at the gallery if you are over this way.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Last of The Milk Sniffers and Window Smudgers.

2nd Draft still needs work but nearly there.

I am sorry for my absence but in my defence I have been very busy. You can see the fruits of my labour, I have some serious tweaks to do as I do not have the layout quite right. But it gives you an idea of what it could look like.

It is that time of year where I become suspicious of milk and I am plagued by suntan lotion hands and faces on my windows. Why do I become suspicious of milk? It goes of quicker in the summer and I am guilty of being a fridge swigger. Admittedly there is only me drinking the milk at the gallery. A mouthful of sour milk is vile.

Jim Hunter's exhibition is drawing to an end and it has been a fantastic show. Plenty of visitors have come from far and wide to see it. Plenty of comments in the book about what a great show it is lets hope that we end it with a few more sales.

My advice is if you are planning to come to Swanage at the weekend get up nice and early otherwise you could queue for the ferry for ages. 

I am going to end with a few words of advice. We have now entered an extremely advanced technical age that has allowed us all to become proficient AMATEUR photographers. Liking taking pictures does not make you a photographer, it makes you someone who likes taking pictures. There is a difference. Pushing images through Photoshop filters to make them appear creative only works if the image is strong in the first place. Like any other profession, in order to call yourself it you must hone your skills. This does not happen over night, it takes commitment and dedication. Expect to take thousands of photographs to get a handful that are truly inspirational.
I do not know a great deal about photography but I do know that there's a lot more to than meets the eye. This is largely to my good friend  and in house photographer Tom Wishart telling me at every available opportunity. Check out his website  http://www.onethousandwords.co.uk/

Have a lovely weekend, stay safe.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

14 Galleries In Swanage! Fact Not Fiction!

My Rough Draft

Well the artist statement blog was popular. I hope that it has paved the way for some great statement writing.
I have been having a really long think about what I can share with you next but I think I may have covered the majority of themes already.
So today I am going to tell you that there are 14 Galleries in Swanage. Yes, you read that right 14. That means we virtually have 3 galleries for every one that is Bournemouth. I am talking solely about the town centre. I know that the satellite towns have a few each.

I am in the process of designing a map that can be used to navigate your way to every venue. My aim is to get thousands printed and get them sent to Tourist Information Centres and also the local hotels and B&Bs.

I hope that it will work in the same way that the map in the PAw and DAW brochures works. I also hope that it will provide a free activity for people to do should the sun not be out. (not a problem at the moment).

I have mentioned the 14 galleries but what I have not mentioned is the that there are at least 5 more venues that show the work of local artists. That really isn't bad going for little old Swanage.

I am starting to put together a package for schools to get them creating great art at a low cost. I have to expand to create some more opportunities for myself. The gallery is ticking over but I could do with some teaching to keep my hand in.

As I said before, if you can think of something that you would like to help you out with then all you have to do is ask. I like to write blogs that help artists out.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

An Idiots Guide To Writing An Artist Statement.

In order to give the subject of artists statement justice I took it upon myself to research it. There is some good advice out there and as you can imagine there is some that I lost the will to live a 3rd of  the way through reading. I think that says a lot about how much I am prepared to read. I should add here that I like reading. I read a 'How To' and she used a cooking analogy throughout the whole thing. 'Add a pinch of this' and 'a dash of that'. I understand what she was aiming for but I was totally bemused by the end I had an 'Artist Stew'.
Here endeth the first lesson in artist statement writing. Keep it brief and to the point. I will list these as bullet points to make it less lengthy to read.

I have tried to fit it all into 10 points, I am not saying it is the definitive guide but it will definitely help you on your way.

  1. At all costs avoid the obvious openers 'My work...' 'My art...' 'In my work...' You are creative, think outside the box. Grab someones attention. Think of an adjective that best describes your work and open with that instead.
  2. Keep it short, six to eight sentences is plenty, there is no need for an essay.
  3. Avoid explaining your work, you should make your audience aware of your motivations, inspirations and your aesthetic objectives. Your work however, should stand on it's own two feet. your statement should merely give your audience a few guiding facts to help them better understand you and your work.
  4. Avoid 'artspeak' it will alienate people and just make you come off sounding pretentious. That isn't to say that you shouldn't talk intellectually about your work. Just remember that you're trying to be a help not a hindrance.
  5. It is good to explain why you use the materials that you do. It is often so integral to the work.
  6. Try and ensure that what you write has a flow. The best way to do this is to read it out aloud to yourself. You will naturally punctuate and hopefully expose horribly 'clunky' sentences. (I do this when I write my blog)
  7. Consider using a quote from an artist, author, philosopher as an opener. I am often inspired by words, or a paragraph from a book. It could help to contextualise your work.
  8. It is a good thing to keep it current, and forward thinking. If your work is questioning anything make sure that you communicate that.
  9. Make sure what you write is a true reflection of the qualities of the work. There is no point overselling the work in your artist statement because it will usually be read whilst looking at the work. Humility is the right note to strike not the big 'I am'.
  10. Do not reinvent the wheel. It is obvious as time progresses your work will follow suit. That does not mean starting from scratch. You will have the bones of a good artists statement that will just need fleshing out with maybe new motivations, different adjectives, new materials. The key thing to remember is to write for the right audiences. 

Good luck, I am available to any artists that might want a 1-2-1 to help them with their statements. At a cost of course. This was a freebie.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Show Me A Sign...Signature

Note to self, if you want to know how short clippers cut without the guard on then probably best not start at the front of your head. Oops! I am closely shorn. It is nice and cool though.

I don't know how I am going to gauge the success of my sign in terms of footfall. All I know, is that there have been more people through the door. This could be because of the prolonged good weather. There is only so much time that you can spend lying in the sun. I am quietly optimistic that the sign will result in more visitors.

Today I want to talk about signing your work. To sign or not to sign that is the question. It is an age old tradition that artists sign their work. I think that it is an obvious necessity to authenticate the work. So why the deliberation?

I had someone bring me some oil painted landscapes and they had signed their name in its entirety in black Sharpie along with the date. If you think I am lying, I can assure that I am not. To say that I was horrified would be understatement. I asked why they had done this, they said that they wanted it to stand out. More than the picture, apparently.

As I am predominantly a printmaker I do sign and edition my prints. There are however, exceptions to the rule. I produce a fair amount of embossed images. I think that a conspicuous title and signature would detract from the subtlety of the work. I then sign the frame on the back.

I also sometimes print right up to the edge of the paper, I would generally then sign the mount. I think the key to signing your work is making sure that it is suitably inconspicuous. It's about the art not the signature. If you think that your signature is going to draw the eye then sign the back. That is perfectly acceptable.
The thing that I have talked about before is dating your work. I think it is important to know when you produced what. This can be done on the front or back.
I think that is up to the individual really, I keep notes about that kind of thing. The reason for that being, say I saw an Open Exhibition that had a theme that I had produced work on. Sometimes there are guidelines that state the work must have been produced in the last 12 months. If my work was 18 months old and had a big fat date on. You can see what I am saying. I am not saying raid the attic, or under the bed for historical work but a date can stick out like a sore thumb.

Josh Hollingshead who I have shown a couple times at the gallery, quite often incorporates his signature into the painting in some clever way. So that it doesn't look out of place and if you look hard enough you will find it.

Finally, I want to quickly talk about edges of paintings on canvas. There are 2 schools of thought maybe even 3. Messy edges can be the first thing that you can see when a painting is flat against the wall. Some buyers find it off putting. Edges painted with another colour, I'm not sure about this either. I think I prefer edges that have been kept as clean as possible. Masking tape does a great job and any slight marks are totally acceptable. Just thought that I would mention it as it is quite a 'divide the audience subject'.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

How Can I Help You To Succeed?

Yes, I spent the day enjoying the sun yesterday. Yes, I burnt my face. Yes, I wish I could be outside today.
But there's no point brooding about what I am missing. Let's talk about all the positives.

My sign is up on the ferry what do you think? Don't why it's a bit blurry in the pic.

 I'm really happy with it. I think it stands out nicely against the other signs. Let's hope it has the desired effect and brings visitors to my door in hordes. They in turn will tell people and then the word will spread. Then rich people will realise that Swanage has more art galleries than Bournemouth and there are some hidden gems of local talent. Then our fortunes will be made.

It has been said that I'm dreamer, but I like to think I'm optimistic. I'll keep you updated with the how much my sign is seen.

It has been a busy weekend and today is looking pretty good as well. Lots of people loving Jim's work, all I have to do is persuade them that they love it enough to buy it and take it home with them.
I think that is an absolute piece of cake. I'll keep you updated about how that works out for me too.

I will get back to some practical blogs this week, I am open to suggestions. Apparently helping other people to succeed is the first step to your own success. I am aiming to be successful, so how can I help you?
Remember I've got 15 years of teaching under my belt.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Jim Hunter A Great Exhibition!

I am thinking of livening up my day by running a sweepstake on what is the quickest time for a visit  to the gallery. They vary anywhere from 50 seconds to 10 minutes. That's an awfully big difference. One has to wonder what you actually see in 50 seconds. The truth is probably just enough to realise that it is not for you. How can you tell with such a cursory glance? Super quick art appreciation.

I want to tell you how great this exhibition is because it is great. It might actually be my favourite this year bar my own of course but that kind of goes without saying. I think it makes such a difference when an artist fully embraces the idea of their exhibition and carefully considers the way they want it to look. The crisp white frames beautifully encapsulate the  loose watercolour and collage. It's a uniformity of approach which made this exhibition such a joy to hang. I have said it before and I will say it again. The way you present your work really does make all the difference, see for yourself.

It continues to be busy, which is great. Good feedback about the work. It definitely helps that the weather forecast predicts a good consistent run of good weather. People are far more likely to visit galleries and not just the beach.

I have spent the last two hours tearing and folding pages for a a new handmade sketchbook which I will get bound in the next couple of weeks.
I really like using my own sketchbooks, the one I made today has all different kinds of paper in it.

I hope that you have got plenty of outdoor activities planned for this weekend. I intend to spend the day at the beach tomorrow. Not sure about getting in the see though.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Is The Recession Squeezing The Life Out Of Art And Artists?

I arrived at work yesterday to find an envelope packed with 'Thank You' postcards from St Georges School, Langton. I taught there a couple of months ago and the work that they produced won them a Silver Medal in the PAW Awards. It was a lovely way to start the day, far better than the usual bills.

I am continuing the debate about pricing work as it continues to be at the forefront of my mind. I know I explained how I price my work. I won't be repeating that, but feel free to look at the blog post that was about that specifically.

Is it true that something is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it? I am starting to wonder whether there should be a reserve price that must be met then people can pay whatever they value the work as on top. A gallery run by the same principle as Ebay. I think it could work, I have to say that I would not like to be the one who had to organise it.

Why raise this point? I obviously am privy to conversations people have about the work in the gallery between themselves. I hear them say 'I would be willing to pay £350 but £500 is a bit too much'. Yes, in theory I could meet them in the middle to a certain extent. But they also have come to some kind of conclusion about their perceived value of the work. I don't know whether or not we should be listening to this?

If I didn't have to make a living from it I would be tempted to put on a 'priceless' mixed exhibition. Make the buying public think about the value of the work that they can see. No sensible offer refused.

I have spoken to 'famous' artists who are telling me that they are struggling to sell their work. Should art become more affordable in a recession? To encourage sales? Should gallery owners acknowledge this and publicise the fact that there are bargains to be had. Cheaper prices and less commission?
I am being deliberately contentious, but if no one is making money artists and gallery owners alike what can be done about it?

Is it more important to get the work sold? Rather than ending up with the work that lives under the bed scenario and galleries closing down.

You could argue that it would be better to have many more smaller value sales than none at all? Alternatively, offer terms, but this does add another level of admin, I have no desire to become a debt collector.

What would make you change your mind and buy a piece of art that you loved but couldn't really afford? A discount? An assurance that it would be an investment? Meeting the artist and creating a relationship with them about the art?

Answers on the back of a postcard. You may need a second mortgage to pay for the stamp.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Publicity...Get It Anywhere You Can!

I lied, here it is again.

If you want people to know about you that is of course. I have tell you that you cannot under estimate the power of publicity. I went for a blood test this morning and the nurse asked what I did, and before I could answer she said 'I know what you do, you own a gallery, I saw you in the paper'.

I have just had to remind artists that in order to get people to their exhibitions that they need to get out there and spread the word.

What's that you say? Isn't it obvious that they should self promote? You would have thought so but not everybody does. You need to spread the word via every possible means. Put it on your website, your Facebook page ask your friends to 'share' it., Tweet it, blog about it. Get an ad in your local paper or contact them on the off chance that they could help to publicise your exhibition. Try contacting Art publications, some can put you in their listings for free. Contact people who have bought your work in the past. See if art shops will put a poster up, or display your postcards.

There are many ways to make sure people now about your exhibition but it takes time. It will pay off in the long run. The more people who see your work the wider the word will spread.

In attempt to get his fantastic new show noticed I will now tell you that Jim Hunters new exhibition is up and running. It is fantastically strong. You should definitely get along to see it.

Jim Hunter