Thursday, February 23, 2017

Workshops #3- consider putting one on.

Back to workshops-  in your neck of the woods.  If you do not have anything going on in your area think about starting something.

It takes at least one committed person but is more manageable with two.  I have been involved for at least 5 years with a very informal local art guild.  We are fortunate to have access to a community center that is not expensive to rent.  We put on 2 a year and I team up with another member to run them.  Gradually we have cultivated a group of local enthusiastic painters who want to take workshops.  This is just a small subset of our guild but the number has grown.  Here is a "how to" list of the process.

1.  Consider artists whose workshops you have taken, who have been recommended by others or whom you follow on social media.

2.  Plan it a year in advance.  The best artists schedule way ahead because they are in demand.

3.  Reach out to the instructors you would like to have and invite them.  Ask them about their fees and how they handle expenses.  This is highly variable in my experience and depends on travel distance, their baseline fees (usually priced per participant per day with a minimum number) and whether or not they will already be in your area.  We put the artists up in our homes and make sure that their transportation needs are met.  We cover their lunch expenses and have one or two group dinners (pot luck type) during the workshop.  Most of our workshops are 3 days, occasionally 4.  We limit the number of participants to 12.

4. Reserve the space.  If you have a space of your own that is great, but if not see what is available near you and what it will cost.  Think about community centers, neighborhood club houses,  meeting halls, friends with large studios or local studios willing to rent space for events.  Keep size and lighting in mind.

5.  Once you have the instructor and space reserved, inform your local artists.  If you do not think you can fill the workshop with locals ask the instructor to post it on his/her website and Facebook.

6.  Pricing depends on your overhead and what the instructor charges.  Require a deposit to reserve a spot. We ask for $100,  refundable until a month before the workshop when the balance is due.  After that nothing is refundable unless the vacancy can be filled.  Be sure that you explain your cancelation policy up front.  Keep a cancellation list and work it if needed.

7.  Make a mailing group of those who have signed up.  And- very important- create a file of all emails sent and received that relate to the workshop.  This will save so much time when participants say they can't find an email or never received one.  😩

8.  Get the supply list from the instructor and forward it to the group at least 6 weeks in advance.  Ask the instructor if the supply list is up to date.  (Participants get frustrated when they buy paint colors and other supplies that are no longer used by the instructor.) Let the participants know if they need to bring their own reference photos.  The week before remind them of the hours, place to meet, lunch plans and evening plans if any.  If you have participants coming from other areas send them lodging information or arrange for them to stay with local artists.

9.  Build it and they will come!  Save an email list of those who have participated in the past and stay in touch with them.  Having workshops in your area is fun and rewarding.

Feel free to post questions!

Here we are in our workshop this month with Chris Groves-

Friday, February 3, 2017

Paint it small, paint it big!

Before painting on a large canvas try a small version first.  It's always good to start with sketches but there are benefits from planning with paint.  You might create a small painting that is frame worthy.  You will have worked out the composition, values and colors before you ever start the big project.  Painting a large painting from a small one requires the addition of more information and it is easier to do that if you have already worked out the rest.

Recently I have been pushing myself to paint larger for the experience.  I have been reluctant because I am not represented by a gallery.  Selling large paintings online is more difficult than selling small ones and I don't want to end up with a storage unit full of paintings.  That is the practical side but there is another reason. Whenever I see a small and large version of the same scene, I almost always prefer the small one no matter how well the large one is executed. Smaller paintings are more simplified because they have to be (unless you are painting with mouse hairs).  With a small canvas it is easier to get a favorable brush to canvas ratio- the bigger the brush the better but you can only go so big with a huge canvas.  Oversized brushes and large palette knives are available but are cumbersome and I find enormous brush strokes distracting.  In theory small paintings can be painted more quickly and thus tend to have a spontaneous feel.  Plein air paintings have to be spontaneous because of time limitations.

So how small and how big?  This is entirely personal.   Start with a small size that is comfortable.   Paint as large as you want to paint or is practical for you.  Consider your studio space, storage space and your easel.  I once painted on a canvas larger than the easel I had at the time could support, so I had to lean it against the wall and sit on the floor to paint.  I do not recommend this.  As I said above, I have been pushing myself to paint larger in spite of my preference for smaller paintings.  The more I do it the better I will become.  I am trying not to worry about storage (up to a point) as long as I am growing as a painter.

Here is a recent project.  My comfort zone is 8" x 10" to 16" x 20".  The small painting is 6" x 8" and the large one is 24" x 36". Note that the proportions are different so I had to add more of the original photo to fill the width of the canvas.  It would have been easier to keep the proportions the same.  This was a big jump.  Some artists paint an intermediate size before going really big.  Also keep in mind that the more you paint a subject the better you will know it, even if you paint it the same size every time.

I encourage you (and myself) to get out of your size "comfort zone" while keeping the practical aspects in mind.

Thanks for reading!