Friday, May 22, 2015

Painting at Kuerner Farm

I have wonderful news! I just found out I've been invited back as a jury-exempt artist in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley this year! This prestigeous painting competition will be held in October, with the artwork exhibited at Winterthur Estate and Gardens in Wilmington, Delaware. This is my fourth year in this event, and because I am consistantly one of the top selling artists, it's my second year as an invited artist. The painting locations include the famous gardens and sites near my studio, as well as several private estates and gardens belonging to Du Pont family members. Even better, some of my old plein air painting buddies from New Orleans -- Carol Hallock and Mary Monk -- are coming up to paint with me, and will be staying at my house during the event. The event is currently accepting  artist applications fro jurying, if you're interested in applying you can click on the link for more information. 
In the meantime, I'm getting ready for my next plein air event of the summer -- the Philadelphia Watercolor Society Plein Air at Kuerner Farm in Chadds Ford next Wednesday. This is a small one-day event, and it's non-competitive -- painting just for fun! I won't be giving any formal lessons during this event, but you're welcome to come and watch and me paint! 

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Chester County Studio Tour is this Weekend!

I almost forgot to tell you -- this weekend is the annual Chester County Studio Tour! My studio is one of the 47 studios on the tour, with over 100 artists participating. I'll be open 10-6 pm on Saturday and Sunday, and  the studio is stocked with tons of food and drinks for the weekend. There's lot's of art, painting demonstrations, door prizes, and more! Be sure to come on out and visit me at Annie Strack Art Studio, 105 Kabob Lane, Kennett Square. 
My studio is number 43 on the map pictured below. It is right off of Creek Road (SR 82), between Hillendale and McFarlan Roads. See ya there!

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Painting en plein air at the John James Audubon house was so much fun last week, I decided to get out my watercolor pans and paint some more. This little gem is Haskill's barn, off of Creek road in Chadds Ford. A lovely place to paint!
Haskill's Barn, 5x8 watercolor, $79.

Also, I married my darling Park Ranger 30 years ago, today! Back then, we were living at Big Cypress National Preserve. He worked for the Park, and I was a Game Warden for the state. It's been a wonderful life, traveling to and living in National Parks around the globe. Someday, when we get old and tired, we might settle down somewhere.
Brian & Annie, 1985

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New Plein Air Paintings!

I had a blast, painting in the plein air competition at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove this past weekend! About 50 artists participated in the three day event, and the paintings will be displayed this Friday in the Audubon barn. It was my first plein air event of the year, and I'm not quite up to full speed yet, so I only painted one painting each day.
Perkiomen River, 8x10 oil, $195.
I painted this view of the Perkiomen River from the back porch of the Audubon Museum. The trees were just starting to bloom that day - they were still bare in the morning, and by the afternoon a green halo had appeared around all the trees.

Bat House, 8x10 oil (SOLD).
 This large bat habitat stands behind the Audubon barn, and from a distance looks like a tree house. It  housed hundreds of bats, but unfortunately it's now empty due to the White Nose Syndrome epidemic.
Audubon Pines, 8x10 oil, $195.
On the second day of the plein air, the hardwoods were still bare. I found a willing subject in this pair of pine trees, across from the front door of the Audubon Museum. Bird feeders and houses were hanging everywhere on this property, and the trees were full of wildlife. It is a wonderful place to go and paint! This site is the former home of John James Audubon, and is next to Valley Forge Nat'l Park.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Write Your Artist Statement


I've had a lot of requests lately from artists asking for help with writing their artist statements, so I'm reposting this article on the subject that I wrote several years ago for Art Calendar magazine. I hope it helps make the writing process easier for some of my followers!

Writing Your Artist Statement
By Annie Strack (c) 2007

Sooner or later every artist is asked to provide an artist statement. If you sell your work through galleries, you’ll find that most of them will ask you to provide a statement that they can refer to when talking about you and your work to a client. Art festivals sometimes require artists to display their statement in the booth. If you find yourself being interviewed by the media, the information in your statement helps to provide them with your background information and serves as a written resource for them to garner direct quotes. More importantly, buyers like to read them. As an artist, people are interested in you and what you do, and genuinely want to know.

There used to be a time when artists would fold their arms across their chest and haughtily say “my work speaks for it’s self.” In today’s world, that attitude and response finds little acceptance. An artist who is prepared and willing to talk about themselves and their art has a distinct advantage when it comes to promoting their art. The artist statement conveys that you are professional and serious about your career, passionate about your work, and dedicated to your creative mission.

The Artist Statement is one of the three basic building blocks of your marketing plan, the others being your resume and your biography. Your Statement is an essential component of your overall plan, explaining who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why you do it. It clarifies and explains your artistic mission, philosophy, and ideas to the reader, and also sometimes to you.

You can start the process of developing your Artist Statement by answering four basic questions:

  •  Who you are
  •  What you do
  •  How you do it
  •  Why you do it.

Write your answers in first person, using descriptive adjectives but leaving out any technical jargon that the reader may not understand.

Who are you?
Think about what has influenced you and your work. Have you lived in interesting places? Have family, friends, mentors, or schools influenced you? Have you had a life altering experience? Write a few sentences about how these, and other things, shaped who you are or guided your work. For example: “In the course of building my own boat and sailing it around the world, I spent several of the most inspiring years of my life on the islands of the Caribbean. The people I met and the places I visited influenced me tremendously, and stimulated my desire to record my travels in the form of art.” Or maybe: “As a child living in the remote mountains of Montana, I grew up surrounded by the unspoiled vistas of the wilderness. At an early age I acquired a passion for the environment, and often hiked the verdant trails sketching and painting the beauty of nature.”

What do you do?
Now write a few sentences about what you do; the style, genre, and subject matter of your art. For instance, “I paint tropical landscapes in an impressionist style, hoping to convey the beauty and lushness of the hot steamy jungles and sun drenched beaches.” Or, “I paint wildlife in its natural setting, to share with others the majesty of these creatures and the splendor of their environment.”

How do you do it?
Write a few sentences about your artistic process, from start to finish. Do you work in the studio, or on location? What media do you use, and how do you use it? Why do you prefer this media, subject, and style? For example: “I paint in the studio using reference photos gathered from my travels through the Caribbean. I choose to paint in oils because the richness and thickness of the paint allows me to build up the texture of the painting and express the vibrant deep colors of my subjects. I prefer to paint in the impressionist style, using broad loose brushstrokes to convey the sultry hot breezes of the tropics, and the dancing light and shadows of the tropical sun.” Or, “I travel the world on photographic safaris with my camera, to seek out my subjects in their natural habitat. I prefer to work primarily with colored pencils because it affords me the control to accurately capture details and to effectively portray the individual character and personality of each animal.”

Why do you do it?
Write a few sentences about your life as it relates to your art, and what message you are trying to convey to the viewer. Explain what you find to be rewarding or meaningful about your work. Think about your own emotional connection to your art, and what you want viewers to think or feel when looking at your art. Maybe you have a personal philosophy about life or art that you can share in your statement. Here are a few examples: “Each painting portrays my own private sanctuary, and I hope to share with others the peace and serenity I feel when I paint. I want the viewer to be able to take a vacation in my paintings, to escape to my tranquil beaches and stand with me under my swaying palms and tropical skies.” Or, “Each of these wildlife paintings is a way for me to share my passion for nature and the environment with others. I strive to raise the viewer’s awareness of our environment, and share with them the fragile and fleeting splendor of our natural resources.”

I’ve given you a few examples, now it’s your turn. Think about these four basic questions and jot down your own answers. Once you have all of your ideas written down, it’s time to string them together and arrange them into meaningful sentences and paragraphs that will fit onto one page as your finished Artist Statement. Compose it as if you were writing poetry, using descriptive words that paint an image in the readers mind of who you are, what you do, how you do it, and why.

Don’t forget, your artist statement, resume, and bio are useful tools that you can use and refer to when creating other promotional materials. Once you have these materials prepared, you can excerpt information from these documents for your future press releases, brochures, flyers, interviews, etc., making each of these processes simpler to accomplish.

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This article was first published in Art Calendar magazine in 2007 and reprinted in the book (The Artists Guide To) Art Business and Marketing in 2008. Annie Strack is an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard and has earned Signature Membership in eight artist societies. Her artwork has received hundreds of awards and hangs in more than 1,000 public and private collections worldwide. In addition to being a highly acclaimed juror for art shows and popular workshop instructor, she is the producer and host of Painting Seascapes in Watercolor, which is broadcast on television stations worldwide and also available on DVD. Annie draws experience from her former career in corporate management to build a successful art career, and she shares her knowledge of business and marketing in her articles for Art Calendar, Professional Artist, and The Crafts Report magazines. 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 7:24 PM   1 Comments

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Little Problem with the Pumps

I just realized I hadn't posted for over a month. Things have been a little hectic -- I haven't been feeling well, which made it hard to keep up with classes and exhibits. I thought maybe I had a mild case of pneumonia, or maybe a touch of the flu, and I figured it would run it's course and I'd be back to my old self in a few more weeks.

Then when the snow melted, the sump pumps in my studio failed and I had a huge mess (but no damage!) to clean up. My darling hubby fixed all the pump stuff and it's all working just fine now, but my studio is still all tore apart from the mopping up and it will be a week or two before I can put it all back together and resume classes again.
(my hero, fixing the sump pumps in my studio)

The clean up was a little too strenuous for me, and what started out as shortness of breath had progressed to  feeling like suffocation. I went to the doctor  the next day, and it turned out to be Pericardial Effusion. So, I had a little bit of heart surgery on Friday and spent the weekend in the hospital getting that pump fixed. All is now well, and I'm back at home and almost at 100% again.

I can't thank you all enough, for all the messages, emails, and comments on social media, wishing me well.
In the movie "Peter Pan," there's a scene where Tinkerbell is fading away. Peter Pan looks into our eyes, and he tells us that we can save Tink -- we just have to believe and clap our hands loudly.

I feel just like Tinkerbell. Every comment you wrote, every message, every email, and all the phone calls -- every word made me stronger. Everyone reaching out to me and clapping louding has healed me faster and better than anything they did in ICU. I can't thank you all enough! <3>

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:15 PM   0 Comments

Monday, February 2, 2015

Art Tip: How to paint a Sunset

One of my most popular 1-day workshop subjects is "How to Paint Skies." I teach my students how to paint a variety of different atmospheric conditions in skies, such as different types of clouds, sunny weather, rainy skies, stormy skies, fog, etc. My students always enjoy painting sunsets, which are the most difficult because of the multiple colors introduced to the wash.

The most common mistake that watercolor painters make, is layering colors or letting the wrong colors mix on the paper, resulting in the odd colors. For instance, both yellow and blue can be found in the sky during a sunset, but if the yellow and blue are layered or mixed on the paper they will result in green -- a color that is not found in the sky.


(Sunset, 9x12 WC, $85)
The second biggest mistake artists make when painting sunsets, is not painting the colors in the order of the color spectrum. The colors in a sunset (or sunrise) follow the same spectrum order as the colors in a rainbow. The color closest to the Sun is yellow, the next color is orange, then red, with violet being the color that appears furthest from the light source. The sky might be dark blue or light blue depending on the position of the Sun. Values will also deepen as they get further from the light source, with the lightest value being the light source, itself.

The third mistake artists make, is not realizing that sunset colors only appear on clouds. The sky doesn't reflect the colors -- the colors are reflected on the clouds.

In this demonstration painting, I started by painting a wet-on-wet blue wash for the sky, and blotted out the edges of the clouds. Then, starting with the Sun's position in the center of the horizon, I used yellow ochre and worked my way outward using cadmium orange, permanent red, and dioxide violet. Some of the colors overlapped each other, which is fine because the overlapping colors are analogous so the order of the color spectrum is still maintained. A few more cloud layers were blotted out while the colors were still wet. To create the reflection in the water, I did the same thing but without the blotting, and I kept the water movement horizontal in appearance.

I teach this in workshops pretty often, so keep an eye out for a workshop near you!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 2:52 PM   2 Comments

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Classes, Demos, and Workshops!

The new year is really starting off with a bang and I've barely had time to keep up with everything I've got scheduled! I have new classes starting monthly at Artists Network University, but the classes fill up very quickly so don't wait to sign up or you will miss the one you want. I currently have a few openings in my weekly classes in my Kennett Square studio on Wednesdays. Email me if you want to come! This Friday is my monthly Open Studio, and which is a wonderful opportunity for you to come watch me paint in a relaxed atmosphere in my studio. I have small one-day workshops scheduled in my studio throughout the year, focusing on painting, drawing, business, and other topics.

I also travel a lot to teach workshops, jury shows, and conduct demonstrations. My schedule is filling up fast, but I still have a few openings and I'd love to come to your community. Be sure to tell your local art center or artists organization to contact me for information about hosting an Annie Strack Workshop. My workshops are very affordable and always sell out to capacity, making them extremely profitable money-making events for the art centers and organizations that put them on!

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:34 AM   0 Comments

Friday, January 2, 2015

Free Painting Demonstration at Jerry's!

Come watch me paint at Jerry's Artarama of Wilmington on Elvis' Birthday!  
January 8th from 1-3pm, watch me paint a watercolor seascape from start to finish! I explain my processes in great detail during my painting demonstrations, just like in my classes in workshops! Learn how I mix colors, plan a compostition, use values, manipulate the properties of pigments, use different types of brushes for effects, and more! Jerry's Artarama, 704 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801




posted by Annie Strack @ 3:06 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Develop your Personal Plan for Success!


Develop Your Personal Plan for Success

By Annie Strack 2006 © (First published: Art Calendar magazine, October 2006)


In business, success is seldom an accident.  It is something that must be carefully planned with defined goals, and a strategy mapped out to achieve those goals.  

Ask five different artists what the definition of success is, and you’ll get five different answers.  We all have different ideas as to what constitutes artistic success.  Some artists believe it is when sales reach a certain level.  Some believe it is the quantity or prestige of awards, while others may measure success by attaining educational degrees or teaching positions.  The common definition of success is, quite simply “achieving a goal.”  But before you can attain success, you must first define what success means to you.  In other words, you need to define what your ultimate goals are. 

Once you have determined what your ultimate goals are, you can then identify the steps needed to attain those goals.  You can then break these steps down into smaller goals, and develop a time frame for achieving each of them.  As you determine what your goals and steps are, assign them to spaces on a timetable.  Start this by creating a table of columns, and in the last column list your ultimate goals.  Once you’ve created that list, think about the things you need to do before you can achieve those goals, and list those items in the preceding column.  Now think about the things you need to accomplish before you can reach those goals, and list them in the next preceding column.  In other words, work backwards from your pinnacle goals.  Keep going in this manner, filling in the columns from right to left, until you reach the point where the things you need to do are things that you’ve already done.  

Now that you’ve filled in your table with your goals and the steps needed to achieve them, you need to assign a time frame to each of the columns.  You can assign any time increments that you want.  You can use biannually, yearly, skip some of the years, whatever.  You can also move goals into different columns if you think that those goals will take more or less time to achieve.  When you are finished, your plan will resemble a chart with all of the steps you need to achieve your goals clearly spelled out in chronological order.
  
Let’s say that your ultimate goal is to be a rich and famous artist.  Your business plan chart might look like this:



Year one goals
Year two goals
Year three goals
Year five goals
Year ten goals
Local solo show
 solo show in important gallery
solo shows in other states
Museum show
Major museum show
Set standard prices
Increase prices 20%
Increase prices 30%
Double prices
Triple prices
Produce posters for local sales
Produce S/N L/E prints
sell prints in multiple markets
License images for other products
Licensed images in national markets
Develop workshop teaching plan
Teach local workshops
Teach regional workshops
Teach national workshops
Teach workshops in Tahiti and Paris
Write bio, resume, statement
Design a brochure
Create a catalog of work
Featured in magazine articles
Publish art book
Sell at local festivals
Sell at juried festivals
Sell at regional festivals
sell at national festivals
Sell at national art expo
Enter local juried shows for awards
Enter regional juried shows
Enter national juried shows
Begin judging art shows
Judge national art shows


This is just a brief sample to give you an idea of how to create your own plan to achieve your goals.  Your business plan will contain different goals and steps from this one, depending entirely on what your specific ultimate goal is. For instance if your goal is to teach art at the university level, you would have to add a series of steps that included teaching experience and advanced degrees, but you may want to leave out steps that include items like art festivals which could take you off course.  However if your goal is to open your own gallery, you may find that teaching experience or advanced art degrees may not be among the necessary steps to achieving your goal.  As you develop your own business plan, you may need to add more spaces and years to your chart, and define and break down the steps even further.  For instance, if an opportunity pops up for to do something that sounds like a good idea, you can look at your business plan chart and see whether or not it fits in to your goals.  If it does, fine, you can add it in.  If it doesn’t, it could end up being a distraction that is not necessary to help you achieve your goals. 

 Remember, this is your business, your goals.  You need to set it up in a way that you can manage it.  If you need to make changes along the way, do it.  You want to write a plan that motivates and inspires you, but you also want to keep it realistic with goals that you can achieve in the time frame that you’ve allotted for yourself.

For example, my art business plan is written on a large dry erase board that hangs in my studio.  Next to it is another board that has “to do” lists on it.  The “to do” board reminds me to focus on things related to the plan that I need to work on now, either this week or this month.  Hanging on the walls of my studio, they serve as a daily reminder of what I’m working towards, and help to keep me focused and on track.  The dry erase board works best because as the business grows, the goals tend to evolve.  New ideas can be added, other ideas can be erased.  Goals and steps can be moved to different columns, and additional time can be worked in as needed.   
  
All too often, we artists find ourselves jumping around from idea to idea, getting distracted by other artists and trying to measure our own successes against the successes of other artists.  In doing so, we often end up spending enormous amounts of time and energy while accomplishing very little.  There is no generic business plan for you to follow; you have to develop your own.  Goals and steps that result in success for other artists may not necessarily work for you.  Those other artists probably have different ideas of what constitutes success, so trying to do everything that everyone else is doing may not help you to achieve your goals.  

One of the advantages of having this kind of business plan is that it will keep you on track for achieving your goals, and help to keep you from getting distracted by other things.  It will also help to remind you to work on your goals in a chronological order.  You can’t just wake up tomorrow morning and say to yourself, “Gee, I think I wanna be a rich and famous artist today.  I’ll start by having a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”  It just doesn’t work that way.  Major museums only want artists that possess proven track records of showing at plenty of galleries and other museums.  By the same token, you don’t want to start your art career by publishing an expensive coffee table book of your art.  If you haven’t acquired a list of galleries that are selling your art to eager clients, then you probably won’t have anyone eager to buy your book, either.  There are actions that you must take before you can achieve those goals, and by following a course of action that will take you through your steps in an orderly fashion, you will have a better chance of achieving those goals, whatever they may be.  

When finished, your plan will be a customized roadmap showing you all the steps that you need to follow in order to achieve your success, starting from where you are now.  It will serve as a guide to allow you to monitor your progress, and help you to identify any areas of your business that need additional planning.  Your plan is your guideline for the future of your business.  Once you create it, all you have to do is follow it to success. 

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Annie Strack earned Signature Membership from 8 artist societies and she’s an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard. Her art has received hundreds of awards and hangs in collections worldwide. She’s a popular juror for art competitions, and is a much sought after lecturer and workshop instructor. Annie draws experience from her former career in corporate management to build a successful art career, and she shares her knowledge of business and marketing in her articles for Professional Artist magazine. Visit her at http://AnnieStrackArt.com

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:46 AM   3 Comments

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