Posts tagged ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’

“Three French Hens”

Hard to believe it’s that time again.   Thanksgiving will be here in less than a week and then it’ll be Christmas.

I just completed “Three French Hens,” my seventh illustration for the Twelve Days of Christmas series.  My medium was watercolor pencil, and a Faber Castel fine line pen to outline all of the images.

Three French Hens

In keeping with the overall whimsical theme, I depicted three rather disturbed French hens around a dinner table at a nice restaurant. The waiter lifts the lid of the main dish only to be stunned by the sight of a roasted chicken on a platter. His reaction is mild compared to that of the three hens. The one sitting closest to him faints backwards after the reveal, while the other hen on the opposing side clucks at the waiter in outrage. The third one seated in the middle is so overcome with emotion that she leaps up in the air to physically pass her “compliments” to the chef.

The biggest struggle? Working with a lot of color. I forgot what a pain it was. It took me longer to determine the actual colors to use then it did to apply them to the work.

All in all, the struggle was well worth it and I am proud to have another completed work for my series.  Only five more days to go!

2012 Year In Review

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Well once again another year has come and gone and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it as I moved from one art adventure to another.  I am growing more and making more connections.   Here are some things that happened to me over the past year.

1)     Sold not one original, but TWO!

This was definitely an exciting thing to happen in any artist’s career.  As far as I was concerned, selling two originals was brisk business!  The first piece I sold was “Nine Ladies Dancing” which was in March. The buyer was a church member who saw the piece at a church event the year prior.

My second piece was “Mercy,” a pen and watercolor pencil drawing.  This sale was unexpected considering that I typically fare better at selling prints at this particular venue.  Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised!

It’s funny, you never what’s going to sell.  It clearly is a timing thing where you have the right buyer at the right place.

By the way, to help me get through my post sale separation anxiety,  I made sure that both of my originals were photographed for reproduction before putting them up for sale.  I can always make more!

2)      First time showing my work for an extended length of time.

In January I was invited to show some work with another group of artists at this small performing arts center outside of Durham for the month of February.   It was the first time that I had displayed work for an extended period of time, not to mention the center was about three hours away from home.  Again, I had to deal with separation anxiety as I left my pieces behind for a whole month.

I had never hung multiple works of art on a wall for show before.  While there are some similarities to hanging work at your house, it’s still not the same.  I did some research on hanging art because I didn’t want to jack up the wall with a bunch of nail holes making it look as if there were woodpeckers having a party.  It turned out pretty well in the end even though it took me forever.   Later I was able to apply my new skills at my sister’s solo exhibit.

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3)     Helping with a Solo Exhibit.

This was a learning experience even though most of it was second-hand. My sister did a solo photography exhibit in Brooklyn called “Visions of New York.”   First off, just from the outside looking in, it’s a lot of work.  After she identified her location, which was the Brooklyn Art Space,  she marketed the heck out of her event through the use of social media and also did some fundraising using the online tool called Indiegogo (you may also be familiar with a similar program called Kickstarter).    She also printed and mailed free postcards of her work to contributors who sent in monetary donations.

A couple of days before the event, I flew into New York  to provide whatever support that was needed.  On the day of the event, with the help of her friends, we were sweating it out getting everything ready up until the final minute.  The turnout was great.  She sold quite a few items including one of her large framed prints.  At the end of the night the lady who worked on staff said that it was one of the most well hung shows that she had seen.

So I’m saying all this to point out  that I learned a lot about putting on a solo exhibit just through reading my sister’s social media posts , listening to her on the phone as she talked about her process, and just physically being there to assist.   One thing’s for sure, when I get to the point to where I do one of my own, I really won’t have much time for anything else!

4)     Twelve Days of Christmas  Series

Looking at the posts from the past year or two, it seemed like this was all I ever wrote about.   I added a sixth piece to the collection this year – “ Partridge In A Pear Tree.”  I created an earlier version a few years ago but decided to create a new one because it fit better with the rest of the collection.  I also packaged the cards for sale, even though it was just six of the twelve days.  I am happy with how they turned out although I just wish that I had more time to market them. That’s always the challenge with getting any new work out there in the market.

   Partidge cards

5)     Increasing my number of followers on social media

So I don’t exactly have this huge army of followers but I am happy to have followers and that the numbers have increased steadily from last year.  The hardest part of course is keeping up with this blog.  I do want to announce that this is my 51st blog post!  Many thanks to those of you who have visited my blog and followed me!  It really means a lot.

I’ve learned to manage my Facebook page a little better.   I just have to be mindful of the best times to post so that I can increase my reach.  The same also goes for my blog.  As for Twitter, man, who knows?   I still am trying to figure out how to say something profound in 140 characters or less!

Let’s hope that 2013 brings even more art adventures!  I’ll need the blog fodder. 🙂

Art Adventures: Holiday Arts Market in South End

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Funny how God has a way of working out things out.  It was my plan to take part in NoDa’s two-day Arts Market in early December.   Since this is during the time of the holiday season, it was a big deal and I didn’t want to miss out.  I had planned to sell my “Twelve Days of Christmas” cards and was pretty excited thinking that I was better prepared this year.

Unfortunately I blew it and was late for the registration; and by late,  I mean I went online about fifteen minutes AFTER registration opened up.  There was not a booth to be had.    It’s  not all that unusual for the booths in  NoDa’s Arts Market  to sell out in less than a day, but this was the biggest holiday season of the year.

So I was disappointed,  however, not too long afterwards I received an email from artist Trish Veverka who is involved in the coordination efforts of the Atherton Market in South End.  She “Liked” my Facebook fan page a few weeks ago.   In her email she told me that Atherton Mill would hold their first Holiday Arts Market.  It so happened to be that same Friday as the market in NoDa.  I was warned that potentially there might not be as much foot traffic compared to NoDa however  I knew about South End’s  growing arts community so I figured there was nothing to lose.

After a couple of email exchanges, I met Trish a few days prior to the event to look at the booth space.  The booth is well, an actual stationery BOOTH, not just some random table or open space.  They were all over the place and looked very similar to what one would see at a produce market.   In fact the Atherton Market was open on Saturdays for this very thing, to sell produce and other good eats. The front of the booth had a lot of room for me to spread out my art and Christmas cards.  The building itself is very open with high ceilings and plenty of lighting.

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On Friday afternoon I arrive an hour before the event.  Loading and unloading was probably the easiest of all of the fairs and markets that I’ve been to.  Parking was plentiful and FREE!  I could carry my stuff right inside without any problems. No steps either.  YES!

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There was a mixture of arts and crafts and food vendors.  For me personally, I’ve always been a bit tentative about being in the same general vicinity as food vendors since I kind of feel that they compete with potential sales.  Much to my surprise  it actually was okay.  My neighbor was the “Pickle Man.”  He sold pickles, lots of them and they were delish!  I funneled down a couple of samples.  He was quite the  charismatic salesman.  He is also a musician, and he even played his trumpet, sang a little bit, and told his customers to “Have a sour day” (because of the pickles in case you were wondering).

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We also had some entertainment that included about three or four young violinists and cellists who played some Christmas tunes;  and a Charlotte favorite, the House of Prayer band.

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There was a balloon artist on hand as well and she provided plenty of entertainment for the kids by making santa and reindeer hats, poinsettas, you name it.  She gifted me with a candy cane balloon bracelet shortly after she set up her station.   Cute, huh?

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So yes, a totally different vibe than NoDa but I liked it.  The only things that I wished for were a larger turnout (although forgivable since this is the  first “arts” market) and that it ran later than 8:00 even though that was the “soft” end time.

I  wish the Atherton Market the best on this endeavor.  There is great potential here for visual artists and I look forward to participating again!

And a Partridge in a Pear Treeeeeee!!!

So my latest addition to the “Twelve Days of Christmas” series is “Partridge in a Pear Tree.”   Here was the preliminary sketch from a previous blog-post.  I didn’t get around to drawing the final work  until a few weeks ago.

Patridge Sketch

Here is where I fleshed out the original in pencil. I used Bristol paper, my paper of choice, as it can handle just about any media including wet media.

Patridge sketch

A lot of my watercolor work tends to be softer and I wanted to make this piece more vibrant.  I used a set of watercolor pencils called Inktense by Derwent and watercolor crayon that has that same level of  brightness.   Then I outlined the images using my Faber-Castell brush and fine line pens and voila!

The color green is still pretty prominent in my work, even with the bright yellow pears and colorful partridge.  I can’t help myself.  I also like the backwards lean of the satisfied partridge.   I think this is another whimsical piece that fits in beautifully with the overall theme of  my “Twelve Days” series.

Partidge

I wrapped this thing up at after 1:00 AM on a Thursday night/ Friday morning and then ran down to Kinko’s to scan the image.  Thank God they’re open 24 hours!

When I got home I started printing the image on cards immediately so that I could add them to my assorted six-pack. Here they are packaged in clear plastic boxes.   I love the professional look !

Partidge cards

As I started to print  more partridges to package them individually my printer crapped out on me.  When you see a message on the printer’s display screen that says, “Error” and then it tells you to unplug your printer and call the service center, that is NOT a good sign.  I probably won’t be able to get my printer to the print doctor until Monday and I hope this is something that a) can be fixed like yesterday, and b) doesn’t cost me a fortune.

Oh well, an artist’s life is never boring.

New Sketch: Patridge In A Pear Tree

Okay so it’s already May!  Time is flying! My birthday is  just around the corner, and it occurred to me that it won’t be long before the arrival of Christmas.  Yeesh!  I shudder at the thought.

This prompted me to start generating some ideas for my on-going “Twelve Days of Christmas” project.   I started working on my sketch a couple of days ago for “Partridge In A Pear Tree.”   Back in 2010, I created an earlier version in watercolor pencil and used it for Christmas cards to send to friends and family.  The final product turned out fairly well, however months later after completing some of the other pieces in the “Twelve Days” collection, this partridge now seems so serious by comparison.

This time, I want to make the new one brighter and a little more animated so here is the latest sketch below.  I love him!  He has just finished eating a pear that was hovering above him and is leaning back, full belly and all, feeling extremely satisfied.  When I create the final, the leaves will be even larger and overlapping, thus eliminating any white space.  I am considering the use of oil pastels to make the colors pop.  No surprise, I will probably struggle with the decision of what colors to use for the partridge.  There’s a good chance that I won’t stick to the same palette in the sketch or even the original partridge drawing for that matter.

Art Adventures: November All Arts Market

So this was my second time that I participated in the All Arts Market.  Since I knew what to expect this time,  I wasn’t nearly as flustered as I was in my earlier post.   If there was any tension at all that day, it came from my nine-to- five job where things were pretty hectic.

I rolled into the Neighborhood Theatre a little later than I had hoped but the setup didn’t take too long.  I picked a different booth which happened to be across from the one that I had at the previous showing.  It was still a pretty good spot because of the ample lighting.

Overall, the turnout was great.  It was nice to see people coming out and supporting the arts community in spite of the cold snap in the weather that evening.  I saw some familiar faces from the market and even some I recognized from the Ahlara Arts Fair in October.  My “neighbors” who sat at a booth next to me at the market were the same ones who sat across from my sister and I at the fair.   I didn’t recognize the photographer at first, but once I saw her pieces I remembered who she was.  She later said the same thing to me.  I guess that proves that art really can be an extension of yourself.

From a sales standpoint, I didn’t do too badly.  While I was disappointed that I didn’t have time to create cards for my Twelve Days of Christmas series, I did make prints which worked pretty well.  They were pretty well-received and “Six Geese A-Laying” was the star of the show.

Also, I learned some little lessons along the way.

1) Never underestimate the importance of choosing the correct color matting  for  your art.

I like colored mats a lot because they tend to they draw attention to certain colors that are already in your work.  I find that I cannot resist buying them.  People however, seem to gravitate towards neutral or white mats, and as much as I love color, I discovered that neutral mats  sell better.  They tend to be cleaner and allow your art to do the talking.  Buyers are concerned about what looks good in their home and they may be overwhelmed by a brightly colored mat framing an already brightly colored work.

Sometimes though you have to just go with your gut when it comes to colors.  I used a loud,  royal blue mat for  two “Six Geese A-Laying” prints and sold them both.

2) Making the best use of your booth space

This is something I need to  improve on.  I had a lot of prints but would have liked to have had more of my originals. Unfortunately they take up way too much table space.  That’s where one of those wall display screens would have been very handy.  I did see some artists using display screens behind their tables to hang their art.  My problem ultimately would have been trying to fit those display screens into my car!

Some booths practically looked like living rooms with warm lighting and nice shelving.  Next time I will lay out my table a day or two PRIOR to the next event so I know exactly what to do when I arrive.

3) Be prepared to talk about your art.

It can actually mean the difference between making a sale or not.  The potential buyer needs to identify with the art  in order to make the purchase.  Don’t make up a bunch of flowery BS  just to make the sale.  If you don’t have a specific story to tell or a message behind you art, then talk about your technique or the  medium that you’re using.

There were quite a few people that asked about the story behind my art and at first I felt a little weird talking about it.  As an introvert, it’s a whole different ball game when you are talking to someone about it  face-to-face versus writing about it.   Overall what I found was that the more I talked the easier it became, and soon enough I was enjoying it.

If you think that your nerves will get the best of you, it may not be a bad idea to write down some bullet points about your work and memorize them until you get the hang of speaking about your work.

4) Manning Your Booth:  Sitting Your Happy Behind Down vs. Standing Up

At the beginning I was standing a lot, mostly because like most Americans, I have a full-time job where I sit on my butt all day.   I continued to do so in such manner with this almost wooden, pageantry smile on my face looking around greeting everyone that passed by.   Then I got tired and sat down.  That was when people started buying.  Maybe by sitting down it made them more comfortable and they could enjoy their time looking at the work without someone standing or hovering over them.  Whenever they had questions, they would ask me.  If they had something to say about my work, they would tell me.   Whether I was standing or sitting,  I did make a point to speak to people even if offering nothing more than a simple, “Hello.”

Now there were other artists who were standing and interacting with people but that seemed to work if the artists  were selling three dimensional pieces with a functional component.  For instance, the gentleman behind me was selling these beautiful birdhouses so he was constantly on his feet talking about his technique and materials.  I also think it depends on your personality as well.

5)  Have Fun!

And I did, to the extent that next month I am going to do it again on December 8 and 9!  I’m sure there will be more lessons to learn!

Fiiiive Gooolden Riiiiiiiiiiings!!

Here is the finished product!  As I had mentioned in my earlier post, I felt led to do the background in purple.  The hardest part was trying to figure out the color of the angels’ bodies.  My initial intent was to leave them in white but the piece looked unfinished.  I did the detailing on the white wings in a medium gray watercolor pencil which gives the piece a lot of texture.

These colors were no accident. I believe God gave these to me and they make perfect sense considering the two upcoming seasons – Christmas and Advent.

Purple/Advent:  One of purple’s symbolic meanings is royalty and is often used for the season of Advent.  Advent meaning “coming” or “arrival”,  not only celebrates the anticipation of Christ’s First Coming, but also the anticipation  of Christ’s Second Coming as King.  This year Advent begins in late November (27) and ends the day before Christmas.

White and Gold/ Christmas:  White and gold is associated with the season of Christmas.  Gold represents God’s glory and divine nature and white is the color of purity and righteousness.

By the way, the commercial/retail industry would have you believe that the start of the Christmas Season is the day after Thanksgiving.  Christmas Day, however, is considered to be the start of the Christmas season lasting twelve days until January 5,  hence “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

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