Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Art Show Etiquette: Professional Behavior Will Garner More Respect than Hissy Fits.

One of the Watercolor Societies of which I am a Board Member has published their list of artists who have been juried into their annual exhibit, and once again, it has become apparent that some artists need a reminder about professional artist etiquette. Most importantly, artists need to remember that the person they send a "poison pen letter" to today, might remember that letter the next time their artwork comes before them for a review.


Art Show Etiquette
By Annie Strack ©2008


The spring season is upon us once again, and for artists it’s often our busiest time of the year.  The season brings us pleasant weather, and with it comes the stacks of entry forms for art shows, festivals, and other events.     

Over the years, I have chaired or served on the committees of dozens of art shows.  Every time, I hear complaints from artists, and I hear longwinded explanations about why the show’s rules shouldn’t specifically apply to them.  You’d be amazed by the complaints I’ve listened to from some of the artists. 

At a regional juried show I recently chaired, I received up to a dozen phone calls a day from artists complaining because they didn’t hear about the show sooner.  It wasn’t enough that the call to artists was published in several newspapers and dozens of artists newsletters months before the deadline, or that thousands of entry forms were prominently available at all the local art supply stores and galleries, or that the prospectuses were handed out at every art show, art festival, and art club meeting within the region for the last two months.  These artists were complaining that they weren’t personally notified and asked to enter the show.


(Annie Strack receiving a special plaque commemorating her decade of service as Show Chairman and other Offices in the St Bernard Art Guild)
 
Other artists called to complain that they didn’t like the juror’s credentials.  One of them told me that she believed that all art shows, in general, always choose the wrong jurors.  She qualified this by saying that she knows her art is good, because all of her friends tell her so, and yet she never wins any awards at any art competitions.  She didn’t think it was fair that well-known top artists were consistently winning awards at various shows, and that art shows should try to find jurors who had taste more akin to hers and her friends.  She went on to tell me that she felt she should have been the juror because she knows what good art is. 

Other artists complained about the scheduling of events.  Some were too busy to deliver their entries on the allocated days; others complained they would be too busy to pick up their work at the end of the show.  My advice is simple; if the schedule of events is too much of an inconvenience, then don’t enter the show.  Every artist needs to make their own arrangements for the delivery of their artwork on time, and exhibit calendars cannot be changed to accommodate the personal schedule of every artist who wants to enter. 

Then there’s the artist who asked me about the framing requirements for the show, and wanted to know if he could bring his artwork in unframed because he had a lot of other things to do and he didn’t have time to go out and buy a frame.  At least he called and asked, and he did end up bringing his paintings properly framed.  Another artist wanted to enter an extra painting by claiming that the two of his entries were actually one diptych, despite that the two paintings were obviously separate and were even priced separately.   Other artists, who couldn’t be bothered with rules, were sent away from the show for bringing unframed paintings.  

At one recent show an artist entered a three dimensional artwork but demanded that it should be included in the two dimensional artwork category.  Naturally, the exhibit committee ignored her demands and the artwork was placed in the 3-D category for judging (which by the way, had far fewer entries and therefore gave her better odds of acceptance and winning, anyway).  When the artist found out at the reception that she didn’t win any awards, she thought that it was because her piece was judged within the larger competition of the larger 2-D category.  So then she changed her mind, and complained that her artwork should have been judged against the smaller 3-D category.  

But the best one is the story of the gallery owner, who wanted to enter paintings from her store’s inventory.  Not only were the artworks not her own original creation and created prior to the date allowed for recent works, they were also created by an artist who was deceased.  Sounds surprising, doesn’t it?  And yet, this is not the first time this situation has come up.  A few years ago I was on the committee of a juried exhibit that was only open to artists who lived within a local zip code.  One woman came in and wanted to enter the artwork of her friend, who had passed away years ago.  When the rule was pointed out to her that only local residents could enter, she replied that her late friend is a local resident, she resides in the cemetery down the street! 

Now that you have a better understanding of what the exhibit committee has to deal with, I’d like to offer a few tips about artist etiquette.  First off, I can’t stress enough the importance of reading the show’s rules before you enter.  If you don’t understand the rules, either call or email the organization for clarification. 

Please don’t complain because you didn’t hear about the show earlier.  Most show committees send out press releases and put a call to artists in various art newsletters, magazines, websites, and emails.  They really do try to get as many entries as possible, and it’s not the fault of the show committee or chairman if some artists choose to live under a rock and not read these announcements. 

Don’t complain or whine if your art is not accepted because you didn’t follow the rules!  No saw tooth hangers means no saw tooth hangers.  It is not the responsibility of the art show committee or chairman to frame your work or make adjustments to your framing so that it can be accepted.  You must make sure that your art is within the guidelines of the rules before you enter it.

Rules that state that the entries must have adequate picture wire and screw eyes for hanging mean just that, and if you send an artwork with two thumbtacks attached to the frame and a shoestring stretched between them, you can expect it be rejected.  Same goes for bits of yarn attached with tape or paperclips, fishing line, staples, string, and other odd bits and pieces that are not screw eyes and picture wire. 

Shows that have weight or size restrictions have them for a reason.  The facility might not accommodate artworks over a certain size, or the hanging system may not hold items over a certain weight.  This restriction isn’t in the rules just to annoy some artists, it’s there because there are genuine physical limitations to what some shows can accommodate. 

(Philadelphia Watercolor Society  Show Co-Chairmen Annie Strack and Wendy McClatchy)
The rules often require that artwork must be dry.  This means that paintings with wet paint may not be entered.  Please, don’t even try to sneak them in.  In the last three shows I hung, wet oil paintings with gallery wrapped painted edges were entered, despite the printed rule in the prospectus which clearly stated wet paintings were prohibited.  Wet paint tends to get everywhere, including the floor, walls, and on people.  I don’t like to get oil paint all over my hands and clothing when I install an exhibit, and neither does anyone else.    

Rules and restrictions regarding the age of the artwork are common.  Art competitions are generally meant to showcase current or recent works, and works that are old and have already been in several shows over the course of many years are rightly discouraged.  Those paintings that were done in art class fifteen years ago need to be retired!  Also, the rule stating that all work must be original means that an artist can’t copy someone else’s painting or photo out of a book, magazine, or anywhere else, and rules that state that the work must have been created without supervision means that you can’t enter something you made in a workshop or class. 

You may think that you or your artwork should be granted an exception to the rules because of your special circumstances, or that the rules don’t specifically apply to you for some reason.  Think again!  You are not entitled to special treatment, and arguing with the show committee or chair is not going to get you anywhere. 

If your art is rejected by the juror or doesn’t win an award, please don’t whine to the show committee or chairman.  They did not make that decision, the juror did.  Nor will they override the juror’s decision, no matter how loudly you complain or how many of your friends agree with you.  Not everyone will get accepted to every show, or win an award.  The juror merely liked other things better than yours, this time.  Rejection eventually happens to all of us; accept it graciously, and move on.

I know many of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, thinking that surely these scenarios must be few and far between.  You’re probably thinking we are all professional artists, and we all know these things already.  If that were the case, then everyone would be following the rules and graciously accepting the occasional rejection.  Unfortunately, these shocking scenarios are more common than you think.  In my experience, I’ve found that at least twenty percent of the artists entering a show try to get around the rules.  That may not sound like a lot, but in a show with 200 entries, that’s 40 artists.  That’s way more than any show should have to deal with. 

One thing I’ve noticed from chairing all these shows, is that the more experienced and professional artists are the best at following the rules, and they are the least likely to demand special treatment or complain when they don’t win an award.  One amateur artist recently stomped towards me at a reception with her nose in the air and barked at me in a huff, “How could my piece have been rejected!?  It’s been well received elsewhere!” 
(Louisiana Watercolor Society Show Chairman Annie Strack handling out awards)

In a juried show, the entry fee is for the opportunity to have your work considered for inclusion by the juror.  It does not guarantee acceptance into the show, and it is not refunded if the entry is rejected.  There are plenty of small local shows around the country that are not juried; these shows are less prestigious than juried shows, but they are the right choice for artists who may be offended by rejection.  Remember, our behavior affects how others perceive us.  If an artist wants to be perceived as experienced and professional, then they must behave in this manner.  Plus, one will gain more respect in the art world by being polite and gracious, than by being a sore loser. 

###

Copyright 2008 © Annie Strack. The edited version of this article was first published in Art Calendar magazine in 2008, and the original version was published 2008 in the book (The Artists Guide To) Art Business and Marketing by Annie Strack. Visit the author at www.AnnieStrackArt.com.  
A modern master of maritime art, Annie Strack is an Official Authorized Artist for the U.S. Coast Guard and has earned Signature Membership in 8 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 which are in many publications, including Art Calendar, Professional Artist, and The Crafts Report magazines. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 4:30 PM   3 Comments

Thursday, July 17, 2014

new paintings and classes!

This has been a busy Summer, with classes and workshops every week and painting en plein air every chance I get. Check out my Calendar Page for a complete schedule of upcoming events, and email me if you want to join a class or event. When there is space available, students can reserve a seat in my classes with as little as one day's notice -- but don't wait too long -- most of my classes fill up pretty fast!
These are some of my painting demonstrations from my classes last week. Subjects included snow scenes, beach scenes, painting reflections in water, drawing and painting a variety of trees, and a whole lot more. 
 
"Beach Study" 12x16 watercolor, $145.

"Madisonville Lighthouse" 8x10 watercolor, $95.

"Snow Study" 8x10 watercolor, $95.

Sketchbook demonstration of maple trees, using wet into wet watercolor and water blooms.

More sketchbook demonstrations of hardwood trees using different mixtures of colors, salt, water blooms, and splatter techniques. 

Sketchbook demo of Arborvitae and Willow trees. I'm loving my Stillman  & Birn sketchbook, it great for using in the studio and en plein air when I demonstrate studies like these for my students! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:29 PM   0 Comments

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fireworks, Flags, Wine, and Paintings!

Last weekend I painted en plein air at Wilson Vineyard in Nottingham, Pennsylvania. I highly recommend painting en plein air at vineyards -- they serve wine!
(Wilson Vineyard Trees, 8x10 oil, $195.)
The tasting room at Wilson Vineyard is open to the public every weekend, and they have art openings in their gallery on Friday evenings. I have a few paintings in their gallery -- be sure to stop in and tell them I sent you!
(Painting in progress. )
Today is Independence Day, and it reminded me of the summer when my favorite Park Ranger was sent to Mount Rushmore to help with the 50th anniversary and dedication of the monument, on July 4, 1991
(Photo copyright 1991 Bill Groethe)
 An enormous flag was hoisted over the mountain with balloons as President George H. Bush dedicated the Monument.
(Brian guiding the huge flag as balloons begin to lift it over the top of the mountain)
 My Park Ranger was on top of the mountain behind the heads, helping to launch the flag. I love holidays, and this one stands out as one of my all time favorites! This year I'll be enjoying the holiday with friends and family at my home in Pennsylvania, and watching the Longwood Gardens fireworks display from my patio. I getting the grill fired up - stop in if you're in the neighborhood!

Happy Independence Day!


posted by Annie Strack @ 6:53 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Paintings with Grumbacher Oils!



Did you know that the name "Pre-tested Professional Oil Colors" refers to the fact that each paint is tested by qualified professional artists, before it is offered for sale? I'm thrilled and honored to be added to the elite ranks of the world's top renowned artists chosen by Grumbacher to test and review new colors. 

I love these fabulous new oil colors from Grumbacher! This is a great collection of colors for my plein air paintings, as I can mix up a vast variety of greens to depict any landscape I see. The selection of colors in this set contains wonderful darks and lights, warms and cools, and both transparent and opaque pigments. In addition to SuperbA Titanium White, the set includes three incredibly unique colors for each of the three primaries. The range of secondary and tertiary colors that can be mixed from these 10 tubes of paint is practically endless, and they allow me to create exceptionally deep values as well as brilliant lights with ease.  Even a wide variety of browns, greys, and blacks, are easily mixed from these colors.
(Kirkwood Plein Air I, 8x10 painted with Grumbacher Pre-tested Professional Oils)

The blues are my particular favorites. The Artic Blue is a wonderful pale neutral grey, and it’s the exact match for the color of the shadows on the underside of clouds on a sunny day. I love it for lightening up the values of my cool colors on my palette and also for depicting an atmospheric distance in my paintings. The Manganese Blue Hue has long been one of my favorite colors in my watercolor paints, and I’m thrilled to see it produced by Grumbacher as an oil paint. It’s my “go to” color that I use to infuse the feeling of warm tropical light in my seascape paintings of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. The Cobalt Blue Deep is cool, dark, and vibrant, and it rounds out the selection of blues in this set so well that I need no other blues to paint my seascapes.
(Kirkwood Plein Air II, 8x10 painted with Grumbacher Pre-tested Professional Oils)

The yellows in this set include everything I need, with the warm earthy color Terra, cool Bismuth, and bright Hansa. Used at full strength or mixed with the other colors, these yellows provide me with the wide range I need for my plein air paintings, so I don’t have to pack and carry a bunch of other colors with me. Mixed with the blues in this set, the range of greens that can created is endless. There’s not enough room on my palette to even try all the possible combinations!

(St Croix Beach, 8x10 painted with Grumbacher Pre-tested Professional Oils)
The reds are perfectly represented in this set with Perylene Red, Pyrole Red, and Transparent Orange. These reds provide so much variety that I’m able to mix up an amazing array of colors to round out my palette. These paints are heavily pigmented, so I don’t have to use very much at all to mix up the deep violets for my shadows or the dark greys and browns in my landscapes. The Transparent Orange is one of my favorite colors, and I try to find a place to include it in many of my seascapes to make the blues in my paintings “pop.”

I found that this set of 10 oil colors is all I need to carry with me when I go out to paint en plein air. It contains my favorite primaries, and I can easily mix them to create all the other colors I could ever need, and then some! The extra bonus is that it’s from Grumbacher – the brand that has consistently provided artists with quality art materials for over a century. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:04 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Interview on Jackson's Art Supply Blog!


I'm thrilled to be interviewed by Jackson's Art Supply for their blog! This particular feature is all about my painting en plein air, and describes my painting process pretty throroughly! Be sure to check it out!
(Pensacola Beach, 12x16 watercolor by Annie Strack)

Lisa: What common problems can one face in painting out of doors and how do you avoid these?
Annie: Wind is my worst enemy. On breezy days, I can lean on my easel and push the legs down into the ground. I bought some little stakes for the legs, and I’ve tried weighing it down with rocks, but I’ve found the best way to paint successfully on windy days is to stay in the studio. And I’m not fond of rain, either. That will quickly drive me indoors. Or cold temperatures – I don’t like painting when my fingers are numb and my teeth are chattering. I’ve learned to avoid plein air competitions in the wintertime, unless there are palm trees at the location (Read more...) 
(Claire's Garden, 12x9 Watercolor and Ink by Annie Strack)

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:58 PM   1 Comments

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Recent Plein Air

I finished up three paintings using the new oil paints from Grumbacher last week during two great plein air painting trips!
Chatting with fellow plein air painter Radhika Srinivas at the Kirkwood Preserve.

On Wednesday I went to the Allentown Rose Garden to paint en plein air with fellow artist Nancy Reidell.

Artists have to make their own shade on sunny days!

The 1st of my 3 oil painting during the Philadelphia Watercolor Society plein air event.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:55 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tips for Packing Plein Air Painting Gear!

 One of my friends commented that she would like to see more of my plein air painting set-up, so I shot these photos to show how I organize and pack my gear for a day of painting outdoors. I usually use a plain Jullian style easel, which affords me plenty of room to stow everything I need. When I'm painting in the studio, I open and use this easel on my work table. So it's always full of my supplies, and ready to just snap shut to take it out for a day outside.

In the bottom drawer, I have my oil paints and a ruler (I often use a ruler to draw straight lines, and also use it for sight perspective) on one side, and the other side contains my brushes, spatulas (for mixing paint, painting, and wiping out), pliers (in an eyeglass case to keep it from banging around), and some wadded up bags for garbage.  The piece of foam is used as a divider, to hold the brushes in place so they don't get all mangled up when I travel. I don't carry a lot of oil colors with me, as I prefer to use a split primary system and mix colors as needed. Here I have three reds, three yellows, and three blues, and an extra large tube of white. These are the Pre-tested Professional Oils from Grumbacher - an excellent quality paint which I'm currently testing and reviewing. 

The top drawer contains a travel palette of half-pan watercolors in a protective drawstring bag so the case doesn't get all banged up. Next to that is a bungee cord for holding paper towels, and a collapsible cup for water. I have a jar of Liquin and a piece of shelf liner to help me get the lid off. That's all I use to mix my oils, and I don't carry any turps, either. The film can is in case I need an empty container for something. There's a small spray bottle of water to moisten my watercolors, a bit of sea sponge to create textures, a piece of Magic Eraser for lifting watercolor, and a pack of moist towelettes  that will remove oil paint off of hands and other surfaces. The next section is 1" and 2" wide brushes. Normally, brushes that are that wide have really long handles, which take up a lot of space. I like short handles for plein air because they free up space for me to pack other gear. This line of brushes from Dynasty Brush is called "Palmer" because they fit in the palm of your hand. I  also have some pencils, marking pens, and a value finder (red for landscapes and seascapes). In the plastic zippered pouch I keep a pencil sharpener, some sandpaper, salt (for texture in watercolors), a paint scraper to clean my oil palette, eraser, some binder clips, leg spikes, and some rubber bands. The old slide mounts are great little view finders, and I always keep a spare pair of  eyeglasses in the case.

Here's the drawer with my freshly scraped palette in place. It's just a piece of glass that I cut to fit, and I taped a piece of neutral grey matboard to the back of it. The matboard helps me to see true color when I'm mixing my paint, and it provides a layer of protection between the glass and the stuff in the drawer.


This is a wheeled bag/cart/chair! As you can see, my plein air easel fits in it perfectly. On the seat are some canvas panels, watercolors pads, and a sketchbook which all fit in the front pocket, leaving room for my water bottles, paper towels, and umbrella to still fit in with my easel.

This is the whole kit and caboodle, all packed and folded up, ready to wheel away. After I photographed this, I tucked my camera into it too, and stapped my tripod to the top with a bungee.
So, that's my set-up and gear for plein air. Everything I need to paint both watercolors and oils!

After I originally posted this, I became flooded with inquiries from artists who want to get one of these folding carts for their own. Click here to shop for this cart at QVC. Seeing how a standard size Jullian style easel fits perfectly in the bag, this really should be an item for artist supply retailers to add to their catalogs! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 7:04 PM   2 Comments

Monday, May 26, 2014

Join me for painting en plein air!

I hope you can join me painting en plein air this week! On wednesday, I'll be painting with Nancy Riedell and the Bethleham Palette Club at the Allentown Rose Garden in the morning.
On Saturday, I'll be pianting with the Philadelphia Watercolor Society at the Kirkwood Preserve in Willistown Township. I'll be using both watercolors and oils at these events, and also demonstrating some new products. Keep checking this blog and my Calendar Page to see where I'll be painting next -- I'm adding new events constantly.
Or just keep an eye out and maybe you'll see me painting out somewhere, on the spur of the moment -- if you see a silver Mercedes with an easel nearby, it'll probably be me! I hope to see you out there this season! 

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:48 PM   0 Comments

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cleaning up my studio and getting the paints out!

I've been so busy, I haven't had time to post anything here! The annual Chester County Studio Tour was a huge success, and my studio was packed with patrons and artists all weekend. It was exhausting, and I'm just now getting rested up enough to get back to painting.
 Grumbacher recently sent me these luscious new oil colors to test and review. I was too busy preparing for the studio tour last week so I haven't had time to paint with them, yet. Today I've got to catch up on critiquing the homework of my art students, but then I'll be playing with these new paints for the rest of the week! I'll let you know how it turns out!

Just in time to play with my new oil paints, Dynasty Brush sent me all these great brushes, too! I'm pretty sure I'm going to LOVE those 2" flat handled brushes for watercolors. Those will be absolutely perfect for my larger paintings and triptychs. The Palmer line of brushes have a short, broad handle, which I love for painting en plein air. I think I might be the only artist who prefers short handled brushes! I love them because they take up less room in my pochade, so they are easier to pack and carry around. These are 1" and 2", which would normally take up quite a bit of valuable space if they had the traditional long handles.
With all these new art supplies, you can expect some new paintings posted here real soon!
toodles for now...

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:38 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Annual Chester County Studio Tour

Be sure to come out and see me this weekend at the Annual Chester County Studio Tour! My studio at 105 Kabob Lane in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania will be open Saturday and Sunday, 9am - 6pm. There will be painting demonstrations, door prizes, and lots of gorgeous art, so be sure to come out early! Check out the full list of artists and the tour map online before you get started, or pick up a catalog for the event at my studio. I'm looking forward to seeing you!

posted by Annie Strack @ 11:13 AM   0 Comments

Fine Art Tips
Excellence in
Art & Social Media
All images and content copyright Annie Strack 2008 Although I occasionally receive compensation for some posts, I always give my honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely my own.