My Paintings at the Flight of Fancy

painting©Flora Doehler, 2015

For the past 9 seasons, my paintings have had a home at the Flight of Fancy in Bear River. Rob Buckland, the owner and curator of this gem of a shop, has promoted my work since we arrived in Bear River in 2007. Over 200 fine artists and fine craftspeople have paintings, jewelry, pottery, sculpture, and glass in his two-storey gallery. It is a destination for art lovers and the collection is an inspiration to all. Continue reading

Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide

Sometimes luck and opportunity come knocking together.Painting in Acrylics 3

Over a year ago I was invited to participate in a new comprehensive book–Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide. The publisher emailed to ask if they could feature a couple of images of paintings from my website to illustrate the chapter on sgraffito painting.

The artist-author Lorena Kloosterboer lived in Belgium and the editor in England. The book would be published in the UK and the US.

In return for my images I would be given credit in the book, my website would be mentioned and I would receive a copy of the finished book.

Lilies Acrylic painting ©Flora Doehler, 2013 12? x 12? $260


I have to admit that my 1st reaction was skepticism. Like many visual artists I’ve been invited to publish my work in the past–but at a cost of hundreds of dollars in ‘books’ that would only be distributed to the participating artists.

But this offer was and is bona fide. The publisher is Quarto in the UK and Firefly Books in the US.

Painting in Acrylics 6

So how did this opportunity come about? The author found my website in an internet search. I had tagged some of the paintings as sgraffito . She was looking for samples of that style.

So if you are an artist, let this blog post be a reminder to you to include detailed descriptions of your artwork and your methods on your website so that search engines–and publishers–can find you.

Painting in Acrylics 8
Even the studio was shown, along with a shot of my set up at Paint-the-town.

It has taken years for this book to go from concept to publication. 12 months ago I submitted many images of my paintings, my studio, and my painting setup to Quarto. I sent high resolution jpegs to the publisher through the free version of Dropbox. It is a server ‘in the cloud’. I uploaded the large images required for printing, shared the password, and Quarto downloaded them. I didn’t have to make a DVD or snail mail anything.

Just before Christmas I received my very own copy of Painting in Acrylics – the Indispensable Guide.
I am so thrilled that my paintings are part of this international book. There are many painters included whose work I admire.

Painting in Acrylics 7

This is the most comprehensive acrylic guide I have ever seen with extensive information about acrylic painting–styles, materials, color theory and so much more.

There are paintings from over 90 artists all over the world.

Artist – author Lorena Kloosterboer writes clearly and is generous with her step-by-step descriptions of her own high realism painting process.

Painting in Acrylics 9

I love experimenting with art materials and this book will show me new ways of working with this versatile medium. I highly recommend this book for artists at all levels. I know that for me, getting my hands on it is a great way to start 2015!

If you want to take a closer look at the book, click on this link to view it and my current favorite art-related books.

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

The Ripple Effect of Showing Your Art

You know how it is. Sometimes you plan one thing and it leads to another which leads to still another.

Just for you.  painting by Flora Doehler
Just for you.
16″ x 16″
acrylic on canvas
painting by Flora Doehler (sold)

The action of putting together a show of my paintings earlier this year in the dead of February and the doing led to:

  • finishing quite a few in-progress paintings and wiring up all completed paintings
  • inventorying /digitizing/ naming and pricing of all the large paintings I have for sale which will make it so much easier to shop my work around to other venues
  • creating a digital Art Newsletter for people who have purchased my work, who might like to view my work and for local media and galleries who I would like to approach for future represention. This led to the development of a comprehensive email list
  • giving a series of watercolor classes at our studio which led to the development of a new curriculum for experimental watermedia and a wait list for more classes as well as some income
  • giving an artist talk /slideshow /presentation of my work to a group of live people which led to my unearthing and digitizing important art works from my early years which led to some  self-reflection on my developement as an artist
  • Finally, even though people have seen my work at various venues including in our studio, it didn’t prepare them for seeing a collection of 30 paintings in one place. That was a real eye-opener for me about the importance of viewers being able to see a lot of your work at one time to get a true sense of the type of painting you do.
painting by Flora Doehler
The New Arrivals
18″ x 24″
mixed media on canvas
painting by Flora Doehler

For these reasons alone, the art show would have been a great success for me. But that’s not all. I had the chance to talk to people about what I do and why I do it. Most artists work in solitude and in spite of posting images via the internet, there is nothing like seeing the work live and having a real conversation with viewers and collectors for an exchange of ideas and reaction to take place. I also sold paintings which was a wonderful affirmation and motivation to continue.

If you are sitting on a collection of your work, whatever it may be, I suggest you take the step of arranging your own pop-up show because it will lead to new opportunities for your growth as a person and as an artist.

work table




My Pop-up Art Show

February was a month of amazing opportunities and discoveries — especially with regard to my art career. I had a solo art show in Bear River.  The collection of recent works looked strong and I heard some moving, positive feedback about it from visitors.   I’m a shy person when it comes to talking about my artwork so it was great practice to talk to people about it and to hear their thoughts. In some cases the paintings evoked strong, emotional stories for individual viewers. I felt so honoured to hear their personal memories and it reaffirmed in me the universality of all of our human experiences. We are all connected.

The Happy Flowers by Flora Doehler. (sold)
The Happy Flowers by Flora Doehler. (sold)

Pop-Up Painting Show – DIY

My show was a “pop-up art show”. That’s when the artist rents a venue such as an empty storefront, and organizes the entire show herself. This includes creating labels for the paintings, writing and printing publicity materials, handling the invitations, marketing, hanging the work, planning an opening event, handling sales, delivering paintings, and staffing the show.

It sounds like a lot and it is. In lots of ways creating the work is easier– at least it feels more natural to me. What really helped me to pull this off was:

  • allowing a good chunk of time to get everything done
  • online research about tips for self-hosting a show
  • writing up a list of tasks and organizing it
  • working through a methodical to-do list
  • having the support and help of a few good people
  • making the final decisions myself

My main support, as always, was Larry. He wired up all my canvasses, delivered the work to the gallery, and served people during the opening. He put the show up, took it down, and offered lots of moral support and positive feedback. He did way more than his share of the domestic chores so that I could stay focused on my tasks.

Fortune shone down on me when Rob Buckland-Nicks, owner of the Flight of Fancy Gallery and store in Bear River offered to hang the show with Larry. Because of this the display was professional. The owners of the gallery space at the Rebekah Hall, Jonathan Welch and Erin Schopfer, were very accommodating––In fact their repeated urgings that I hold a show were the push I needed.

My other “invisible” helper was someone whose blog I have read for a number of years. Alyson Stanfield is a guru in the world of art marketing and her book “I’d Rather be in the Studio” is a practical guide that shows ways to use social media for self-promotion.  Alyson is big on using the power of an e-newsletter to build excitement and momentum about an upcoming event. Using Mailchimp (free), I sent out several newsletters leading up to the show containing new paintings, instructional videos or other visuals about what people might see if they came. These newsletters served as value-added reminders. I highly recommend subscribing to her blog.

Waving Nicotiana by Flora Doehler. (sold)
Waving Nicotiana by Flora Doehler. (sold)

Measuring Success

When you come right down to it, the show forced me to get my act together. I finished paintings. I looked at my work with a critical eye. The show gave me goals and motivation. All of the many steps I had to take to get there reminded me that I haven’t lost my ability to organize even though I’ve been out of a formal workplace for over 5 years. I discovered how much I enjoyed having a solo show because it was relatively stress-free. I could make all the final decisions each step of the way and not have to negotiate or compromise. And the viewers weren’t the only ones who had never seen all my art presented together. I had never pulled those 30 canvases out and hung them neatly on the wall lined up with each other either. So the show gave me a good sense of where I have been going these past 5 years and how my work has developed. It was a gift to myself and to my creativity.

And just between you and me, I’m thinking about another pop-up art show–on my birthday.  I’m thinking of small pieces–mostly watercolors and mono prints. If you would like to hear more about it, please subscribe to my newsletter. The form is at the bottom of this website.

January Garden by Flora Doehler. (sold)
January Garden by Flora Doehler. (sold)

There have been spin offs too from having this show and I’ll get into that in the next post.