Could This be my Favorite Painting?

You like what you like. There is no scientific formula that tells us why a person is drawn to a piece of art. But when I finished painting this cyclamen while a snowstorm raged outside the studio, I liked it so much that it became my favorite — almost replacing the previous two favorites. ūüôā

Cyclamen
Acrylic Painting ©Flora Doehler, 2014
10″ x 10″
sold

I like the contrast, the composition, the texture and the colours.

But more importantly, the real fun is in making the painting because there is a mystery in the process.  I make the decisions about colour and method and technique, but as soon as I pick up the brush, the painting takes on a life of its own and evolves and shows me where to go next. Every painting is like solving a puzzle and it is embarking on an adventure.

It helped this week that snow swirled out the studio window while crows dug into the compost for any scraps they could find , (including eggshells). It made the studio time even sweeter with soothing music and coffee and a crackling wood stove.

crows in the snow

How I approached this painting

I started by flooding the canvas with gel medium. It’s like spreading a clear custard. While the medium is still wet, I brushed in the shapes of the cyclamen flowers with white acrylic paint.

Then I got out my Liquitex inks that are intensely pigmented and transparent. I squirted the ink into strategic areas of the wet canvas and gently brushed it into the gel.

Next, I drew the flowers and various other marks and lines on the canvas with my rubber tipped colour-shaper.

You can see that the gel is still wet which is a great advantage to me because it will display the brush strokes and textures.

I added some texture by ‘lifting’ some of the ink with bubble wrap and a scraper.

I continued adding detail. I let the painting dry.

P1390381

The following day I added some gentle blue tones to the flowers to give them more dimension.

Cyclamen Acrylic Painting ©Flora Doehler, 2014 10" x 10" $250
Cyclamen
Acrylic Painting ©Flora Doehler, 2014
10″ x 10″
sold

An Artist’s Toolbox Must Include Self-Promotion

What I love about January is that it always brings the promise of a fresh start.

It’s a chance to look back and to look ahead and to take stock of life. ¬†And this is true for artists too.

Last year's wishes and dreams are carried away by the wind.
Last year’s wishes and dreams are carried away by the wind.

I spent 6 years on two continents at art schools in the 1970’s. I practiced weaving, printmaking, painting, life-drawing, sculpture, and pottery; ¬†but there was one subject that NEVER came up. That subject was Art Promotion which could include grant writing, approaching galleries, planning a show, finding venues for art and craft, pricing the work and more. It was all a big mystery and I now believe that many graduates abandoned hope and went into other fields. I hope art students today graduate with tools for promoting their work.

Playing with watercolour on a slippery yupo surface.
Playing with watercolour on a slippery yupo surface.

Fortunately we have the internet where there are many resources on the web to help artists learn marketing and promotional skills and today I want to tell you about 3 of my favorites.

The studio is a marvellous place to be.
The studio is a marvellous place to be.

THE marketing and organizing guru for artists is Alyson Stanfield. I used her ideas to good success from her book I’d rather be in the Studio when I organized my own pop-up art show a year ago. ¬†Alyson is very practical in her advice. She recommends a purposeful tracking of the previous year’s art income.

I did this recently and broke it down into income streams – galleries, online, markets, holiday shows, teaching. The results truly astonished me. I discovered that the galleries are doing the hard work of selling my paintings because even with their 35% – 40% commission, over 60% of my art income is from galleries. But also surprising is that 40% is self generated through sales at the studio, a self organized art show and to a very small degree, sales through markets and craft shows. I’ll use the data to strategize for this year.

Enamel pendants I made. I love the colours and textures.
Enamel pendants I made. I love the colours and textures.

My other planning method comes from British writer and artist Susannah Conway who¬†shares a workbook to help artists plan their art direction in the coming year. The focus isn’t about income, it’s about what feeds the soul, the mind and the spirit so it’s a nice complement to Alyson’s suggestions. I wrote in my workbook yesterday and by the end of the afternoon, I had a clearer sense of ¬†my art path this year. There is a very cool exercise where you imagine the advice your future self will give your present self.

One of my art goals this year is meditation that is focused around imagery.
One of my art goals this year is meditation that is focused around imagery.

Another supporter of artists is painter Keesha Bruce who divides her time between Paris and New York. Her tweets are full of links with great articles about support for artists.

All three women also teach classes and seminars off and online. Their newletters are free and each of their websites have signup forms.

In progress.
Acrylic painting in progress.

I think that anyone who is self-employed or is self-directed could benefit from these exercises. Are there January rituals that help you plan your new year? Please share.

Two paintings in the studio.
Two paintings in the studio. “Good Vibrations” and “The Green Table” ¬© Flora Doehler, 2014

PS: A shout out to artist and beekeeper¬†Shirley Langpohl who let me know that my youtube video on monoprinting was mentioned in last October’s Cloth Paper Scissors magazine. What a lovely surprise that was! Sometimes promotion comes from unexpected places.

wc monoprinting