Sunday, April 30, 2017

An Unforgettable Day

Yesterday was the end of two very busy weeks.
 It ended with Unforgettable Art - An Affair to Benefit the Alzheimer's Association. My neighbor at the event, fellow artist, Beth Wemmer stated that she was looking forward to my blog this morning. Okay, I have to admit it, I was surprised. You read my blog Beth? I felt honored and also a bit of pressure. Better blog today. So this is for everyone who actually reads my blog.... with a warm heart felt thank you. And I say that just because blogging is a strange world.  You write your thoughts and unless you get a comment or two it kinda feels like writing in a diary, like I did as a kid. " He looked over at my side of the room during social studies. I think he likes me. I hope he likes me. Oh gosh, why did I wear that sweater today? It's so old."

So, I think it's only fitting to start this post with Beth. 
This was her first year at Unforgettable and she flew through it like a pro.These are her birds done with oil pastels. It's important for the survival of the event to have newcomers. The new blood pumps in a lot of energy into the rooms. Beth was calm throughout the event and finished with time to spare.Very unlike how I approach the event. I get there as early as possible, work to the last minute and don't allow myself breaks for fear that I'll run out of time. In fact, I went to lunch too late and there wasn't anything left. Beth was the one who brought me some pizza in the late afternoon after I felt I couldn't afford the time to leave my table. Thanks Beth.

There are several artist who have been with Unforgettable since their beginning, 14 years ago. One such person is the Rockford Art Guild's own Treasurer, Chuck Gregory. They are the rock stars of the night and keep us all going.

When I taught a workshop in Addison earlier this year I was privileged to meet Tania Blanco, an incredible abstract artist. I wasn't aware that that so many artists come from far way and pay for hotel rooms and meals etc. just to be a part of this day. It's thrilling to meet these new artists and watch their pieces progress as the day becomes night.

Everyone wants to do their part in the fight against Alzheimer's but there's something very special about Unforgettable Art. I think there's one main factor that draws us all to it, the feeling of camaraderie. We're all in this together, trying to create something in 8 hours which will be good enough that others are willing to dig deep in their pockets and pay for. It doesn't always work out the way you may want it to but you know people are there who have your back - or your pizza.

   I haven't said a thing about the volunteers. Honestly, I know very little about what they have to go through to put on such an affair. I assume they're already planning for next year. They're like the older siblings in a large family - working endlessly and allowing the artists to take the spotlight, never requiring much attention themselves. Thank you to them all.

And let's not forget those people with the pockets. Let's not forget those who drive a long way, pay $60 all for a beer and a chance to say hello. The night would be nothing with out them. There are people who I only get to see at this event that I look forward to seeing each year.

My biggest supporters.

(Lauri, we're wearing the same necklace.Yours is a lot shinier than mine.)

This was one of my favorite students from RAS.

I didn't say much about my piece of the night. That's because I guess I'm so over it. I completed it - it sold for a decent amount and I'm already planning for next year. I feel so inspired by everyone else's work from the night that my head is whirling with ideas. What, I'm doing it again? Next year, I want something completely different. Someone remind me, I said no flowers in 2018! I've got a whole year to figure it out. Better get nervous now.... well maybe not.

So Beth. I hope this is what you hoping for. I just want you to know that you're obligated to comment now - just saying.

But sincerely, thanks to everyone who reads my blog. You make my day. I may not see comments but I see the numbers. I just don't know who you are always, but thanks just the same. Feel free to comment anytime - or not.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Day in Sinsinawa

Just a quick update on the Sinsinawa Opening...

Both Jean and I had a wonderful time at the Sinsinawa Mound Center opening reception yesterday.  We said a few words about our works and the paths we've taken. This was in the chapel, where the nuns do their daily devotions. It's a very warm, comfortable and simply elegant room.

I loved the Baptismal Fountain which was created from the limestone found on the site. In some areas the water continually pours down the sides and in others it slowly drips. Such a stunning piece.

I enjoyed having the chance to speak to many of the nuns. Their keen intellect and charming personalities are an inspiration to all of us. Jean and I even sold a few things which is always a welcomed perk.

The show is open through June 4th if you are in the Galena area. It's a worth while stop.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Watercolor, Ink & Inspiration, Sinsinawa Mound Center, April 5 -June 4

What do you get when you put two artists
 in a car and drive them out to Gelena, Illinois?

"Look at those cows by the pond!" "Look how the light hits that barn!"  "What great clouds! See how the sun is peaking through them?"

Jean Apgar and I had a wonderful trip yesterday out to Sinsinawa Mound Center to hang our show,  
Watercolor, Ink and Inspiration. Sinsinawa is about 10 miles north of Gelena. The drive was wonderful as the sun struggled to peak through the clouds heavy with rain. We were trying to hold a conversation as we continually broke into bursts of excitement over the view of the rolling hills.

Jean, having hung well over 100 shows, told me that hanging the 41 pieces would be easy and wouldn't require more than 2 hours. She was right.

I was thrilled to watch her process for hanging. It was quite simple really. First we laid out all the pieces and put away all the packing material. Then we started looking for the relationships between the paintings. Jean continually spoke about making sure we keep the viewer eyes moving through the collection. When we got an order we thought was pleasing Jean started measuring the area and spacing the paintings out. The actual hanging of the works was pretty fast. We started in the middle of the wall and worked our way out. It looks pretty good.

There was a lot of people who walked by and commented on our works. The Center is committed to study, education, spirituality, and the arts. They offer programs and retreats. On the grounds is a retirement residence for Dominican nuns. So there is a lot of activity around the center, especially with Easter around the corner.

Jean and I feel so honored to hang our paintings in such a beautiful surrounding.

Our opening reception is this Sunday from 1 to 3pm. 
Jean and I will speak for a few minutes about our work.

  Michelle gave some samples from the bakery... yum! The cinnamon bread is incredible and I would recommend it to anyone.

Hope to see you there!

For more information about Sinsinawa Mound Center click  here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Four Year Artiversary - All on April Fool's Day

I've been doing art in some form for most of my life, but over four years ago I made the decision to leave my job of..... how many years did I work there? 16? (It seems like a lifetime ago.)

There's a lot of misconceptions that I started out with. One is that if I had a web page the people who wanted my work would FIND ME and orders would begin to pour in. Another is that I would be alone in my studio day after day painting away. (My husband was worried that I'd be lonely - being a social person by nature.) Talent will get you wherever you want to go.... another misconception. Never underestimate the power of good marketing.

The truth was that I had entered a life filled with friends, challenges, learning opportunities and days much fuller than I ever dreamed of. All of a sudden I was learning computer programing, bookkeeping, marketing, to name a few of the challenges I would face.

I started out in my studio listening to pod casts of Artist Helping Artist with Leslie Saeta. Turns out, it was an excellent place to start. I knew nothing of marketing, social marketing or very much concerning the business end of art at all. I learned a lot in those 300 podcasts including how to run a biz page on Facebook, Instagram, u tube, Pinterest, pricing, commissions, art shows to name a few.

One of Leslie's suggestions was to join the local art group. I joined the Rockford Art Guild in February of 2014. They were preparing for Spring Art Scene - a city wide art party held two times a year. Getting involved in that show helped me get to know some of the members a bit better. I was hooked. I started going to the monthly board meetings. This gave me a closer look and better opportunities to learn more about the business. Most of all, it provided me with an incredible base of artist friends. Some of whom would become my mentors, advise me in marketing, teach me new techniques, ask me to show with them, paint with me, and on occasion, drink with me.

You can't embark on something like this without a lot of help from those close by. My husband, Mark was incredibly supportive through this whole process - as always. He encouraged to follow my dream, built my first booth for shows and went to every show hauling and setting up all my equipment.

Probably the most significant thing he would repeatedly say to me was,  
"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon." It's a great thing to remember whenever I feel things are not moving fast enough. Things take time. Don't give up.

When my daughter Samantha, a graphic artist, joined my team I began to have a more polished look.She helped me move from my old web page, that I loved but couldn't program to one that was intuitive. She became one of my roadies, along with my son, helping set up each show and staying for the duration, crocheting behind the scenes waiting in case I needed anything. My family and friends have purchased a lot of my work and scheduled private painting parties. They continue to do so and I'm grateful to them.

One of my favorite things about this profession is the roller coaster of good and bad days. One day you're incredibly talented, the next you're some schmuck artist wannabe. The highs boost your confidence and the lows push your creativity and motivate you to work harder. Both are necessary for success.


Four years later, I'm
 still chugging along. 
 Things have changed. I know there is nothing else I want to do other than my art business. I never feel as if I have enough time to paint - I'm working on it. I have a new booth. Classes and workshops as well as public speaking have been added to my venue. I'm taking classes at RVC to sharpen my business skills.  There's some great shows coming up. I'm looking forward to moving into the front half of my studio/gallery soon. (Thanks to Mark again, for building it for me.) I even may have some
exciting "news" in the very near future.

Best of all I know what I want to do today - paint. 
And it all started on an April Fool's Day. 
Turns out, it wasn't foolish at all.