Friday, April 15, 2016

plein air painting at Audubon tomorrow!

I'll be demonstrating painting en plein air at Mill Grove, the home of John James Audubon at Valley Forge tomorrow. I'll be painting with both watercolors and oils from 11am to 3pm, and I hope you will come out to watch! This event is free and open to public. 
Annie Strack painting in the Cedarburg PleinAir

In other news, I'm thrilled to show off these fantastic brush sets from Dynasty Brush! These aren't mine -- these wonderful sets are going to be awarded as Merit Awards in the 2016 Plein Air Brandywine Valley! Each of these 4 awards contains over $200 worth of awesome artist brushes in a canvas roll.
Dynasty Brush 

As many of my closest friends know, I serve on the Board of Directors of numerous artist organizations and I volunteer countless hours in the arts communities. I love that my decades of experience organizing juried shows, plein air events, workshops, and my years of teaching, writing, marketing, sales, and my business skills and computor skills, and so on, can go to good use by helping artists to succeed. I'm thrilled to join the committee of Plein Air Brandywine Valley this year, and one of the things that I am coordinating is donations of top quality artist supplies and equipment for Merit Awards in this year's competition. The incredibly generous gift from Dynasty Brush is the first of several to arrive. 

In addition to getting great merchandise for awards, I'm also helping to organize a Quick Draw and a Nocturne event to be added to the line up for the first time this year, and we've already secured a top judge for the event, Steve Doherty. It's going to be our best year, ever, and we're just getting started!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:20 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, March 27, 2016

latest paintings from my classes and workshops

I had a fantastic group of students in my workshop for the Delaware Valley Art League last week! I led them through three paintings in one day, and they learned to paint various types of seascapes and landscapes. We cover a lot of lessons in my workshop, including properties and uses of supplies and materials, drawing, perspective, composition, color theory, temperatures, values, color mixing, brushwork, and more. We finished up with a floral painting to show how these lessons apply to different subjects. 

Fontainebleau Pier, 12x16 watercolor, $125.

Sunflower demo for DVAL, 12x9 watercolor, $95.
 I'm thrilled to be teaching a workshop at Cheap Joe's facility in Boone, North Carolina in 2018! Joe sent me some samples to play with in advance of my workshop, and I'm loving the colors! I added the colors to my palette at my workshop for the Delaware Valley Art League, and I'll very happy with the quality and depth of the pigments. I've used the wonderful Kilimanjaro paper before, and had actually just recently run out of it -- so this gift was quite timely! Many years ago I got a set of the American Journey Quinacridone watercolors for a workshop review, and I still use them as my "go to" set of Quinacridone colors. These new additions that Joe sent to me will round out my palette quite nicely! I used them in the painting of the sunflower, and you can see how bright and saturated they are -- excellent quality paints!
Sparkling white Kilimanjaro paper and a triad of American Journey watercolors from my new bff Joe Miller of Cheap Joe's Art Supplies. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:08 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Alternative Class available!

Much to my dismay, the Community Arts Center has canceled my Spring semester watercolor painting class. They are asking students who have already registered for my class to take a different class, instead. Don't despair! You can sign up for my classes in my art studio in Kennett Square!  4-week long classes start on the first Tuesday of the month, 1:15pm to 4pm. $137. Email or message me to register! 
Rusty Love, 14x20 watercolor $295

Annie Strack Art Studio, Kennett Square, PA

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:41 PM   0 Comments

Monday, March 14, 2016

classes, demos, and workshops!

I've got a couple of weeks free between teaching courses at the Community Arts Center, and I'm using that time to do some demos and workshops. My next class starts March 28 and runs for six weeks. There's only a couple of spaces left, so if you want in, you need to register right now. My classes and workshops always sell out early, so if you wait until the last minute you will never get in.

Here's a few of my recent demo paintings. Some of these are from my recent classes at the Community Arts Center, and some are from my demo last week for the Delaware Valley Art League. I'll be back at the DVAL this week to teach a workshop, so maybe I'll see you there!
Trunk Beach, 14x20 watercolor $125. 

Foggy Beach, 12x16 watercolor $125.

Sunset, 12x16 watercolor $115.

Sunset Beach, 12x16 watercolor $125.

Aluminum Skiffs, 14x20 watercolor $195.

posted by Annie Strack @ 11:44 AM   0 Comments

Friday, February 12, 2016

Recent demo paintings from my classes and workshops!

I've been so busy since my return from teaching a workshop in New Orleans, that I never got around to posting my demo paintings! I painted eight paintings during my 3-day workshop for the West Bank Art Guild, but I only have four paintings to show you because the other four paintings all sold during the workshop to some of my lovely students. The West Bank Art Guild purchased my primary painting from my workshop, and they will raffle it off to their members. The primary painting contained boats, water, trees, and buildings, so we worked on it a little each day of the workshop. We also did a couple or more "studies" each day, to practice the techniques for painting skies, water, reflections, values, mixing colors, using masking fluid, drawing perspective, creating textures, and tons of other great secrets and tips.
Awesome Artists hard at work in my workshop for the West Bank Art Guild!
Beach, 18x24 watercolor $195.

Beach, 18x24 watercolor $195.

Lake Road, 18x24 watercolor $195.

Marsh Sunset, 18x24 watercolor $195.
In my weekly class at the Community Arts Center, we worked on identifying cool and warm colors and optimum placement of them in compositions. We then painted a simple sunflower painting using a split primary palette system, learning how to mix all the necessary secondary and tertiary colors using a warm and a cool triad of primary colors. 
Split primary color wheels.

Sunflower, 16x12 watercolor, $95. 

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posted by Annie Strack @ 7:01 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Paint with me in Spain!

I've just been booked (yesterday!) to teach a watercolor workshop in Costa Brava, Spain -- and it's already selling out fast! There are only 8 spaces left! This plein air watercolor painting workshop is May 1 - 8, 2017. The itinerary includes museums, medieval villages, botanical gardens, castles, fishing villages, and the beautiful coastal seashore of the Costa Brava in northern Spain.

Sign up NOW to reserve your space, before it's all sold out! Contact Jackie at French Escapade tours for more information or to sign up!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 2:04 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Painting en Plein Air at Fontainebleu Park!

I just got back from a trip to New Orleans where I taught a watercolor painting workshop for the West Bank Art Guild. I had a fabulous trip, although I had to dig out from Winter Storm Jonah before I left home. I had a great group of artists in my workshop, and I'll post some photos of that next week! After the workshop, I spent some time visiting with old friends and getting in a little painting en plein air.
(Carol Hallock painting the beach  with oils at Fontainebleu.)
 I stayed at my dear friend Carol Hallock's home on Bayou Lacombe while I was down there. I used to live in Lacombe years ago, and Carol and I are old painting buddies. We both pursue the same subjects in our paintings, although she prefers to paint with oils while I usually reach for watercolors.

(Mary Monk using soft pastels to paint Fontainebleu beach.)
 It was nice to catch up with Mary Monk while I was in town! Mary is an old friend, and stayed at my house while she was painting in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley competition last year. She's always a lot of fun to hang out with!

(Carol Hallock, Mary Monk, and Annie Strack painting en plein air at Fontainebleu State Park.)
 I painted two small watercolors en plein air while we were at Fontainebleu State Park, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It was foggy when we got there, and the fog lifted and the light changed dramatically. We stayed out painting until sunset, and I shot some fantastic photos of the changing light to use for studio paintings later!
Fontainebleu Beach, 6x12 watercolor $79.

Fontainebleu Park, 6x12 watercolor $79.
It was a busy couple of weeks and I'm still not caught up with my studio paintings, new painting courses, and other work. I've also been inundated with requests for workshop proposals -- I'm getting those out as fast as I can, and so if you've just sent me a request you can expect to hear back within 2 days. I'm adding new workshops to the Calender Page of this website all the time, so be sure to check back often to see the latest listings. Workshops sell out quickly, so if you see one you like, you need to jump on it and register before it's sold out!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 12:14 PM   0 Comments

Friday, January 15, 2016

Do you know how to identify a good art instructor?

My new watercolor class started yesterday at a local arts center. I started my course with the basic lessons about art materials -- I explained the different types, grades, uses, properties, and care of the various materials we use in class -- paper, paints, brushes, and more. How the materials are made, what the ingredients mean and why they are added, explanation of art and painting terms, and on and on and then moving on to drawing and design before getting into painting techniques.

(Annie Strack filming for television)

Most of my students have been taking watercolor painting classes from other art teachers at that center for years, and after the class they confided in me that everything I taught was new to them! Their previous teacher/teachers just SHOWED how she painted, but never EXPLAINED her processes -- like what makes a good composition, or why she choose certain colors, or the importance of values, or how color temperatures work, etc., -- nothing. The other teachers had never explained the differences between artist grade and student grade materials. Or the difference between washes and glazes. Or how to mix colors, or clean their brushes properly, or the difference between opaque and transparent colors, or, well, anything.

(Annie Strack's students at Nunez College)

Sadly, I've seen this all too often. A person can be a great artist, and at the same time, have little or no knowledge about art. There's nothing wrong with that. But being able to paint beautifully does not mean that they automatically possess the ability to teach art. I’ve watched lots of talented self-taught artists paint, and many of them have no idea how they create – they “just do it.” Some of these artist can enjoy great success, and their paintings are featured in magazines and even win top awards in major juried exhibits. These are the idiot savants of the art world. People who were never taught how to mix colors or hold a brush, and yet they can produce a beautiful work of art through instinct -- without understanding how they did it. It’s like the people who can play an instrument “by ear,” but can’t read a note of music. Their music can sound perfect, but if they don’t know what key they used, or can’t name the chords, or know the difference between flat and sharp, then they really can’t teach you how to play the instrument.

(Annie Strack's workshop students in Mississippi)

Anyone can call themselves an artist, and any artist can call themselves an art teacher. This is why it’s so important for students to make sure that their teachers are good teachers, as well as good artists.

(Annie Strack's students at the Bayou Lacombe Art Center)

Before you sign up for an art class, make sure the instructor has demonstrated knowledge of whatever it is that she is teaching. Besides experience teaching in legitimate and prestigious venues such as schools, art centers, arts supplies stores, and artist organizations, look for teachers who have glowing references and recommendations. Most art instructors publish tutorials and lessons, and you can usually find samples online and in print. Look at their online videos and check out their DVDs. Read their tutorials that they wrote for art magazines, for art supply companies, and online blogs. You need to see evidence like these examples that prove the artist's teaching abilities. If you can't find any evidence, then it probably doesn't exist -- and that is a red warning flag! 

(Annie Strack demonstrating artist materials at Plaza Art Store)

The funny thing is, the bad classes are often the same price as the good classes. Would you rather spend your time and money in a class where you won’t learn anything, or would you rather spend that same time and money taking a class from a professional artist who has the knowledge, experience, references, qualifications, and credentials that prove her worth as an extraordinary teacher?

(Annie Strack teaching at the Louisiana Watercolor Society)

Don’t sign up for a class just because the artist is a remarkable painter, make sure the artist is a remarkable teacher, too! Same goes for those of you who book the workshop artists and hire the art instructors – the good teachers don’t cost you any more than the bad ones, so do your homework and get the good ones!

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posted by Annie Strack @ 9:26 PM   2 Comments

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

West Bank Art Guild Workshop

This post is for the artists registered in my watercolor workshop hosted by the West Bank Art Guild, January 29-31.  Students may use the comment section at the bottom of this post to ask questions, or they may email me directly. All future correspondence regarding this workshop will take place here, so please bookmark this page. 

Materials List for Watercolor Painting Workshop

Participants in this workshop will learn the techniques to paint realistic water, skies, landscapes, and more. They will learn how to create convincing reflections and shadows in water, and how to paint various types of waves and water movement. Participants will learn multiple watercolor techniques including glazing, washes, dry brush, masking, lifting, etc., also composition design, values, color mixing, and use of color temperatures. Students will complete one "primary" painting during the workshop, the complexity of which is determined by the length of the workshop. Participants will receive reference photos prior to the workshop and are responsible for drawing the subject onto their own watercolor paper before the workshop begins. In addition, students will also complete at least one "study" painting during each day of the workshop. The studies are used to practice the many techniques that we cover during the lessons.

Materials list:

  • Watercolor paper (4 or more), CP, at least 140# or heavier. Approximately half-sheet size. Blocks can be used.
  • Several smaller scraps or a small pad of watercolor paper, for practicing brush strokes
  • Removable masking fluid
  • HB pencil
  • White plastic/vinyl eraser
  • water containers
  • Paper towels
  • 1" flat watercolor brush
  • Assorted large round brushes, no smaller than #8 (at least one should be at least a #16 or larger)
  • Paints: Indigo, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue (green shade/hue), Manganese blue (you can substitute similar mid-value warm blue if you don’t have this color), Payne's Grey, Sepia, Olive Green, Green Gold, Violet, Yellow Ochre, a warm and a cool red, and any other colors you like to use. Click here to see the colors I use most often! We all don’t need to use the exact same brands and colors of paint. I hate it when students go out and spend a lot of money on colors that they might never use again. Artists can paint quite successfully in my workshops and classes using only a split primary palette of colors, or any standard set of watercolor paints. However, I do prefer that students invest in quality artist grade materials, as student grade materials do not perform as well and therefor are more difficult to use.
  • I suggest that students bring whatever watercolor paints and brushes that they already have. There are tons of colors that I like to use, but I don’t want people to go out and buy new colors that they don’t really need. Same thing with brushes – I like to use an assortment of Kolinsky sables, squirrels, and synthetics. Natural hair brushes are very expensive so I don’t require them in my classes, but there are advantages to using them for some techniques so if you have them – bring them!

This is the photo we will paint in the workshop. It is also attached to this email, so you can email it to participants. NOTE! There is a wreck of a sunken boat near the shoreline in the background of the photo -- we will NOT include that in our painting. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 10:31 AM   0 Comments

Friday, January 1, 2016

Tips For Professional Artists - 10 Easy Tasks to Grow your Art Business

Ten Easy Tasks to Grow your Art Business in the New Year

By Annie Strack ©
(Originally published in Art Calendar Magazine, December 2007)

There are some standard business chores that must be done after the end of the year, like calculating a profit and loss statement and filing those pesky tax returns.  In addition, I like to add a few other simpler tasks to my end of the year chore list.  These simple tasks provide useful planning for the year, and help to maintain focus on career growth.    
Annie Strack painting in the Cedarburg Plein Air competition. 

  1. Look at your list of career goals, and check off the ones that you met for the year.  Did you accomplish all of your annual goals for the year?  If not, look at the goals you didn’t meet, and think about the various reasons why they weren’t accomplished.  Where these goals too lofty for this point in your career, or did you not give yourself enough time to accomplish tasks, or did you schedule too many goals at once?  Adjust your goals for the next year, setting goals that you can attain, and add new goals if needed.  Fine tune and tweak your career plan so that your goals are arranged in schedule that you are confident you can attain.   

  1.  Count the number of artworks you created during the last year.  If you find that you did not finish as many as you wanted, think back to events and try to determine why.  Was it a lack of time?  Could it have been outside distractions, or perhaps lack of studio space?  Determine what changes you need to make to your environment or routine in order to increase your productivity.    

  1. Count the actual number of artworks you sold in the year, not just the total dollar amount.  Is this number consistent with previous years?  How does it compare to the number of works you created during the year?  If sales dramatically increased or decreased, examine the possible reasons why, and determine what changes need to be made to maintain or improve sales.  If your sales ratio was too low, think of ways to improve it for next year.  If your sales ratio was extremely high and you sold most or all of what you created, explore new possibilities for increasing profitability or expanding production.    

  1. Plan the direction you want your art to take this year.  Perhaps plan a new series, or think about ways to improve your current line.  Whether you’ve been thinking about narrowing your focus to concentrate on niche markets, or expanding your line to reach broader audiences, the start of a new year is a good time plan a course of action and implement those changes you’ve been putting off. 

  1. Examine your prices.  When was the last time you raised your prices?  The beginning of the year is the best time to evaluate whether your pricing schedule is working or not.  Now is the time to look over last year’s income and expenses, and determine if your prices are within a range that will enable you to show a profit.  Also, make sure you can adhere to your pricing schedule in a consistent manner, and that any price deviations are adequately justified.   

  1. Buy a new appointment calendar, and pencil in all the shows, festivals, workshops, meetings, and other significant dates for the year.  Mark all those entry deadlines down in your calendar now, so that you won’t forget about any important events or miss valuable opportunities later.     

  1. Update your resume’.  When was the last time you did this?  For most working artists, the resume needs to updated at least once a year, adding shows, exhibits, awards, publications, and other honors that were achieved during the year. 

  1. Update your mailing list.  This is a good time to go through all your old invoices, receipt books, and piles of business cards from the previous year, and add the names and information to your mailing list and data base.  At the same time, go through your list and purge out any outdated or old information.  Don’t forget to go through your email address book and tidy that up, as well. 

  1. Update your promo materials.  Now that you’ve polished up your resume, revised your mailing list, and planned your calendar for the year, you have no excuses left to keep you from redesigning your old promo materials.  Create some new business cards and color brochures, print revised price lists, and maybe even order color postcards with your upcoming exhibit schedule. 

  1. Outline your marketing plan for the year.  Now that you’ve finished updating and organizing your information, you can pull all of these materials together to create a more efficient strategy for marketing your business.  

Individually, these simple tasks don’t take too much time to do and you can easily complete one or more a day.  You’ll not only feel more energized by your accomplishments, you’ll also give yourself a jump start to a more successful year. 


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.

posted by Annie Strack @ 10:43 AM   1 Comments

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