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. 

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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.

posted by Annie Strack @ 10:43 AM   1 Comments

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Art Workshops and Classes Starting in January!

It's been a busy holiday season but I managed to squeeze in some studio time for a few new paintings. I'm looking forward to going down to New Orleans to teach a watercolor painting workshop next month, and spending some time at the beach while I'm down there. I'm getting a lot of emails and messages from disappointed artists who wanted to take my New Orleans workshop but couldn't because it sold out so fast. I'm sorry there isn't room for everybody! We could have easily filled several more workshops if the host had been willing. I'd love to come down there and teach another one real soon, so tell your local art centers and artist organizations to contact me for information about hosting a workshop!
Cleat, 18x24 watercolor

I Miss the Beach, 18x24 watercolor $195

Sunfish, 9x12 watercolor $125 

If you're in the Southeast Pennsylvania area, you don't have to wait to take my workshops -- you can sign up for my watercolor classes at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford! I've signed up to teach the next two semesters (winter and spring), so now's your chance to study with a foremost Master Artist!

posted by Annie Strack @ 11:56 AM   0 Comments

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

How to Write Your Artist Resume'

Lately I've been getting a lot of questions from artists asking for help writing their artist resume'.
Here's a reprint of a helpful article that I wrote for Art Calendar (aka Professional Artist) magazine, that never goes out of style!

Writing your Artist Resume
By Annie Strack (originally published 2008)

Of the three most important documents in an artists marketing arsenal, the resume can be the easiest to write.  It is a handy reference when writing your artist biography, creating brochures, or writing press releases.  It is essential when applying for jobs, grants, and handy to include in press packets.  Occasionally an artist organization will ask for it if they are considering you to be a juror or instructor. 

The traditional resume is, however, limited in use, as most organizations and clients may prefer to see your biography or artist statement instead.  If used in promotional materials like your press packet, brochure, portfolio, or website, the word “resume” should be avoided.  After all, you don’t want the reader to think that you are job hunting!  You want to give the impression that you are a confident, self employed artist.  You want the reader to see the document as a summery of your professional experiences and successes, a list of your achievements, a compilation of your credentials.  For most of your marketing and promotional purposes you should use other labels for your resume, like “Experience,” “Credentials,” “Achievements,” “Honors,” etc.  Only use the word “Resume” when applying for a job or when required during an application process.

The format for writing a resume is simple; create headers, followed by lists.  Start with a simple outline format, and make a list of headers that are appropriate to you and your experience.  Then under each header, list the relevant experiences.  The items listed under each header need to include the year of the event or activity, and in some cases the month or a full date.  The city and state also needs to be included in each listing, and include the country if the event was outside of the US.  The order you list your headers is up to you.  You can list them in order of importance, most recent, or you can start with your largest category.  List the items below each header in chronological order, starting with the most recent.  Each item listed can either start or end with the date, but keep the format consistent through out the entire document.

Examples of common headers are:

Education:
List the art schools you’ve attended, and the degrees attained and the years attended.  If you’ve taken workshops or private lessons you can list those as well, and include the instructor’s names and the courses or subjects studied. 

Awards:
List the award, the name of the organization and the type of show (regional, national, juried, membership, etc.), the city and state, and the month and year,

Publications:
List the name and the type of the publication (book, magazine, catalog, newspaper), the title of the article or story, the city and state, and the date.

Solo Shows:
List the title of the show, the name of the venue, the city and state, and the month and year.

Juried or Group Exhibits:
List the type of show, the name of the venue or organization, the city and state, and the month and year.

Memberships:
List your memberships and affiliations in order of importance.  Include the name of organization, type of membership (juried, signature,) committees you served on and positions held (chairman, director, volunteer, etc.), and the years of membership.

Gallery Affiliations:
List the name of gallery, the city and state, and the years affiliated.

Teaching Experience:
List the school, organization, or venue.  Include the courses taught, the city and state, and the month and year.

Juror Experience:
List the type of competition (regional show, student show, juried show, poster contest, etc.), the name of the organization, the city and state, and the month and year.

Collections:
If you want, you can break this down into sub headers; Museums, Public Collections, Corporate Collections, Celebrity Collections, etc.  List the names of the agency, business, or organization, and the city and state.

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships:
List the type of award, the name of the awarding agency and their location, and the year of the award. 

Creating your artist’s resume can be a daunting task if you’ve been keeping track of your achievements and writing them down regularly.  To get started, you can refer to your past appointment calendars to help you remember previous events and dates.  Your old files filled with diplomas and certificates will also help you to remember events and activities, as will your boxes of ribbons and awards, newspaper clippings, and scrapbooks.  When you are starting to compile your resume, list everything.  You can always edit it later.  After you have it all written down, you can rearrange the order of your headers so that your strongest areas or most important headers are listed first.  If any of the lists under a header become too long because your experience spans many years or decades, you can modify the header of that list with an appropriate adjective, such as “Select”, “Major”, “Important”, or “Recent”, as in “Select Publications”, or “Important Collections”, “Major Awards”, or “Recent Group Exhibits”. 

The headers I’ve provided are just examples, and you don’t have to have something to list under every one.  For example, if you have lots of shows and awards under your belt but you’re a completely self taught artist, you can just skip the education header completely.  Or you can combine some of the similar headers together as one subject.  For instance you may find that your experiences as an artist in residence fits better under “Teaching Experience” or “Education.”  If you have only a few grants to list you include them under “Awards” rather than have a separate heading with only a few listed.  If you don’t have a lot of exhibit experience, you can group all your shows under one heading and call that header “Exhibit History”.  Or if there is a subject header that is relevant to your art career but is not listed here, you can add it if needed. 

Remember that this is your resume as a professional artist, so there is no need to include extraneous information.  Your age, date of birth, marital status, and children’s names are irrelevant to this document and should not included.  Also, because an artist resume is not the same as an employment resume, there is no need to include any job experiences that are not related to your art career.  If your non-art careers or jobs have influenced your creativity and you feel it’s important to mention how they’ve impacted your art, those experiences can be included in your artist’s biography.

As with all of your promotional materials, you will want to print your resume on your business letterhead.  Your letterhead should look professional, and have your name, the name of your business, your address, and all other current contact information for your business.

Once you have all of your information written down in a standard resume format, you’ll find it is easy to keep it up-dated.  As a complete listing of all your achievements and credentials, you can easily reference the document when creating or revising any of your other marketing and promotional materials. 


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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. 

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:56 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, December 5, 2015

My recent painting demo for the Delaware Watercolor Society!

I just realized I forgot to show you what I painted during my watercolor demonstration for the Delaware Watercolor Society last month! The event was jam packed with artists who traveled from several states to watch and learn from me. An extra benefit for the DWS was gaining lots of new members -- numerous people who came to see my demo also joined the society while they were there. It's a good thing I brought extra hand-outs, as I attracted more than double the number of people that usually attend the DWS demos! 

Red Dinghy, 14x20 watercolor by Annie Strack
 I had time to do two paintings during my demo for the DWS, and did this simple boat portrait in addition to the beach scene. Demos up here in the north run twice as long as southern demos, and this one was scheduled for two and a half hours. I also had a third painting ready to start, just in case I finished too early and needed to fill more time!
Rainy Day Beach, 18x24 watercolor by Annie Strack
 My reference photo for this painting was a tropical beach on a sunny day, but I painted it as a cold and wet day to match the weather that I saw outside through the windows on that day. I'm asked to demonstrate painting at so many arts supplies stores, watercolor societies, art centers, and other artist organizations that my inventory of paintings from these events is getting a bit overwhelming! As a result, I'm offering special prices on my demonstration paintings. These paintings are available for $195 each. Email me to purchase!
Annie Strack, demonstrating painting for the Delaware Watercolor Society
I don't have any photos of my paintings in progress as I was too busy teaching my demos, but I did get this photo from the Delaware Watercolor Society newsletter. Not a great photo, but it's the only one I have. 
Everyone who attended my demo at the Delaware Watercolor Society received free samples of the new Moulin du Roy watercolor paper from Canson. My favorite feature of this paper is it's bright white color -- much whiter than most of the other papers available. It's also sized with starch instead of the more traditional gelatin, making it 100% vegan as well as being archival (100% cotton, too!). It's a good thing my generous sponsors at Canson sent me an extra large shipment of these hand-outs  for me to give away -- I attracted a record-breaking number of attendees and I had just enough to samples to go around! I also gave away over a dozen free door prizes of DVDs, paints, papers, brushes, and other art supplies, making the event even more fun for everyone!

Numerous members have asked for me to come back to teach a full workshop for the Delaware Watercolor Society, and hopefully we'll have those dates finalized soon!

posted by Annie Strack @ 1:27 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Open Studio this Friday!

Y'all are invited to my art studio this Friday! Open Studio 10-5pm. Treat yourself to an "art spa day" and bring your supplies and paint along with me, or just have a cup of coffee and hang out! Check out my special sale prices on paintings for Christmas! Totally free event, and everyone is invited! Open 1st Friday, come and go anytime during the day, no reservations required. 105 Kabob Lane, Kennett Square (It's where all the cool artists are). 

posted by Annie Strack @ 1:28 PM   0 Comments

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Unionville Art Gala this weekend!

I'm thrilled to be participating in the Unionville Art Gala this weekend! This annual art show is a major fundraiser for the Unionville High School PTO. I hope you can come see me there -- I'll have lots of paintings and some special sale prices for holiday shoppers! The event is at the Unionville High School, 6pm to 9pm Friday evening, and Saturday from 11am to 4pm. Here's a small sampling of some of my many paintings available at the sale!


 Sunday I went to the Salmagundi Club for the reception of the American Artist Professional League. I've been a member of the AAPL for decades, and joined the Board of Directors earlier this year. It's nice that this organization now uses Skype during our Board meetings, so members no longer have to commute to downtown NYC to join the Board. A few years ago, I had to resign as President of the Louisiana Watercolor Society shortly after I was elected, because I moved to Philadelphia. I wish all societies and organizations allowed the option for Board Members to stay active by using Skype for their meetings!

posted by Annie Strack @ 9:29 AM   1 Comments

Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Watercolor Workshop in New Orleans!

I've just scheduled a new watercolor painting workshop in New Orleans! This is going to sell out really fast, so you better sign up NOW!  January 29, 30, & 31 at the West Bank Art Guild. Contact Carol Patai to register!  



posted by Annie Strack @ 4:59 PM   0 Comments

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