Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Horse with No Name...more with the limited palette

A Horse with No Name
original oil, 6 x 8 inch, unframed, make an offer
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This is another small study using the limited palette. This seems to be working for me...not many choices so that I must focus on what is necessary. I did this study fairly quick and I was going to leave it and do some more work on it tomorrow. However, I am putting it aside as it is. There is a quality about it that I like and I don't want to lose it so....just leave it for now.

Basically, I am really enjoying this palette. For the most part it is a red-green palette and I am sure this could be done with other complimentary colors. However, for me I just like what is happening with the palette. Depending on the subject, it might be necessary to change it a little, but for now I am just having fun with it.

There are three work horses that live along the road to my house. They are beautiful animals. I have never seen them actually do any work....unlike the workhorses that I saw while living in Colorado. They actually were used to bring hay out to cattle in the fields during the winter using a sled. Since this is mostly farm country, there aren't many cattle here. I do enjoy checking the three of them out though each time I drive into town.

The Mystery Man with Hat and Sunglasses

Mystery Man with Hat and Sunglasses
original oil, 14 x 11, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This morning I did some more work on the portrait and I feel that it is finished. There are things that I would like to try, but I feel that it is best to do it on the next one. This was a fun one to do and things just seemed to fit together when I was doing it. I like keeping a very simple palette and then adding a few colors later on. It seems to help with my problem of always overworking things.

So for this painting I actually began with pthalo turquoise (I thought it was blue, but it wasn't), indian red and with those two colors I actually did the initial drawing or painting layout. After that I used a little indian red mixed with rembrandt red and then another mixture of indian red and alizarin crimson. I needed a bit of yellow tone so I actually mixed cad yellow light with some indian red and of course, I used white to make different values of each of those colors. I am going to try this again just to see where it takes me.

Rembrandt's palette of six colors

Here is the section from the book, History of Color in Painting by Faber Birren (copyright is 1965). This is a wonderful book that I found a few years back in a used book store. The price was right and it is full of great info on color used by great artists.

As I read through this book I will share other bits of info that I am finding. What a great resource it is!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Painting a Portrait

Hat and Sunglasses - WIP (work in progress)
original oil painting, 14 x 11 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

The last couple of days, I have been reading up on the color palettes of the some of the Masters, especially Rembrandt. Rembrandt actually used a very limited palette. From what I can tell, it looks to be around six different colors with most of them being golden or warm tones - more on what I found in a later post. I will try to photograph the colors in the old book that I found a few years back.

With this portrait, I started off using two different colors - indian red and pthalo blue. Both are pretty intense just by themselves. Today I decided to add a few by mixing a little rembrandt red with the indian red and then a little alizarin crimson with indian red. I also added a yellow....cad yellow light and mixed this with a little indian red. From there I also mixed white with these to finish up the portrait. For now, I am letting the painting sit for a few days before doing anything else to it. There are a few things that I may change, but for now it is best just to put it aside.

I also will be starting another portrait for a project with Different Strokes for Different Folks. This painting project will entail using a photo of someone else in the group and doing an interpretation of that photo into a portrait. I thought that it would be best to practice a couple first before jumping in like I usually do. I do enjoy doing portraits and I forgot how much fun they are. I knew that this is the direction that I should be going after starting the latest portrait and then dreaming about the best way to finish it. That is a sure sign that I am enjoying what I am doing versus wondering what I should paint next. I also believe limiting my palette helped me immensely.

For now, I need to sleep on this one again and look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow. I will probably do more with the background....but first set it aside.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Little Surprise from My Daughter

Precious Moments
original charcoal on Rives paper, 16 x 16 inch
copyright MaryAnn Cleary 2008

This morning as I was going through email, I do my usual checking on the latest post at Making a Mark. Earlier this month, I had mentioned to my daughter, Julie, of The Peaceful Peacock that Katherine Tyrrell, the owner of Making a Mark, would be setting up a contest of sorts for portraits. This morning I was completely surprised to see a portrait that I had done of her and Nico, my grandson, while they were visiting last summer. Wow!

If you are so inclined, please check out all of the fantastic portrait artists at Making a Mark and vote for your favorite!

Thank you, Julie, for thinking of me!!

Happy Holidays everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trying a New Painting Method

The Mischievious One
original oil, 8 x 8 inch, unframed, $45
copyright MaryAnn Cleary 2008

Goodness the weather is cold here! I am wondering if it is going to stay like this the entire winter. If it does, I may just need to hole-up in my little log house with the wood stove blazing away.

While I was enjoying the warm weather of Cabo San Lucas, I did do some reading about different artists. In one article that I read, an artist had done a painting that was done using burnt sienna and maybe something to darken it. This got me thinking about using two of my favorite colors, an Indian red and a pthalo blue. They are complimentary to one another and fun to use for painting. For this painting, initially I put a wash of the blue on the canvas and then began drawing using both the blue and Indian red. When I wanted to darken an area, using both of the paints mixed together did the job nicely. Then when I wanted to add highlights, I either pulled the paint off of the canvas or added white to the blue or red. It really added a nice touch.

In the future, I plan on doing more with this technique. It is nice to limit the palette and see how far one can take the painting. I enjoy using the paint transparently and seeing the canvas.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reality Shock.....

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Area near my Home in Minnesota

The past two weeks were spent in Mexico at Cabo San Lucas. This was my very first visit there and I feel so fortunate to have been asked by a friend who has a place there. What a fabulous treat!!! I have been snorkeling, watching whales, sail boating on an America Cup sailboat, swimming, walking along the beach, watching fabulous sunsets, and taking a sunset boat ride along the famous arch of Cabo.

Reality set in though with the all day trip home...going from weather in the 60s and 70s to -9 below. What a shocker!! The good thing is that my car started with the first try when I got home. The bad thing is that the idiots on Continental would not transfer our luggage after going through customs and immigration in Houston. Continental and Northwest are supposed to have an agreement, but even after showing the person on the luggage dropoff the tag for the luggage check. He STILL refused to take it. If anyone has been to Houston, one knows that the international flights typically are land in terminal E and Northwest flights leave on terminal A. We had a Continental/Northwest flight from Mexico to Houston. After that we were supposed to fly a Northwest flight to Minneapolis. Having little time between flights and also having to drag almost 100 pounds plus of luggage from one end of the airport to the other due to some personnel at Continental left us feeling extremely frustrated.

Once finally arriving to the other side of the airport - with our luggage - the attendant said that Continental definitely screwed up and that this was not the first time. They should have and were supposed to check our luggage right outside of the customs office. Unfortunately, because of the extra time needed to drag luggage from one terminal to the other via elevators that stopped at every darn level before reaching the one needed, and then going on the slowest shuttle ever...even stopping at a stop that was totally out-of-service and then saying that the place was out of service, we missed our flight. Both of us had also been upgraded to first class on the flight we missed. Of course, we missed that option, too. I guess the good thing is that we were able to get a Continental flight to Minneapolis, but of course, it was at the other end of the terminal with no upgrade to first class. Also, we did not receive any sort of compensation coupon for the terrible inconvenience due to Continental's refusal to take ticketed and checked luggage!!

What fun! Upon arriving home, the temps were minus below. The good thing is that the shuttle driver from the airport to the place where I had my car parked was "Minnesota Nice". He offered to help me jumper my car if it would not start and then he scraped off the six-ten inches of ice stuck on my hood and windshield. Next the drive home was slow....lots of black ice and very slick and slippery roads. Finally, I came home to a very cool house at 1 am, started a nice warm fire in my wood stove and poured myself a glass of wine. Home at last.

My mind has been filled with ideas for painting and drawing and I can hardly wait to get started. I also am doing the next challenge at Different Strokes for Different Folks this month as well as complete the last one with old shoes. I also have some wonderful reference photos that I took while staying in Mexico and Cabo. Lots of things to paint from as well as some quick sketches. Look for more to come and some different and interesting ideas that I plan on trying out.

Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Sun and Fun

Whale Tail
a quick sketch done in color pencil of yesterday´s experience
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

The sun has been great and it has given me an opportunity to think about where I would like to go with my artwork. When I get back home, I plan on trying a couple of new ideas to see how they work. I love doing portraits and I am thinking of maintaining a prime focus on that segment of my work along with trying out a new technique that I want to attempt. It should be interesting and fun.

Today....a massage.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Where or Where Is This Sunny Place?

That past few days I have been lounging around a place a little South of my home. I thought that I might post a photo so that everyone might guess at where this place is. There is ocean, sunny skies, sailing, fishing, snorkeling, and of course, I am trying to get a little sketching in while here. Yesterday I even saw a whale spray and then flip its tail as it went back into the where am I??

Tomorrow I can give another hint......

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Virtual Painting Interpretation....Week 12-13

Buddha and Hydrangeas ~ Week 12-13
oil on canvas board, 10 x 8 inch

This is an interpretation that I did from "Different Strokes for Different Folks" a blog sponsored by Karin Jurick where a different photo is posted each week and everyone does their interpretation by painting it. This was my first try - I did a quick one this afternoon. Fun! I hope to try this one again!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Baby Sleeping

Baby Sleeping
original oil painting on canvas board, 6 x 8 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a little study that I decided to try. I may work on it a little more, but for now I need to sleep on it. Here is where I am with it so far.

If anyone is interested in this painting or a commission done from a photograph, please feel free to contact me. Prices start at $100 and up.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November VSD (Virtual Sketch Date)

Final Version
The November VSD, original oil painting, 10 x 8 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

Stages of the painting process.....
This is my month's virtual sketch date interpretation. I decided to do it in oil and I just started and finished it this evening. As I look at it I do see some issues, but I will "sleep on it" before fiddling with it. The colors in my monitor are fairly close, but I still have problems trying to match everything exactly (depending on your monitor of course). It definitely looks better in real life. Lately I seem to be having issues with my painting as I develop my style. I feel like I am like a little bird gathering bits and pieces to build my nest....except sometimes things tend to just not fit. Parts of the painting just seem to click and then some parts just seem to be a bit dysfunctional or at odds with one another. The branch that is going up behind the main large trunk seems to be a bit confused. I will work on it tomorrow and I am thinking to just make the thing disappear with more focus on the main trunk and adding leaves and sky.......the colors, by the way, do look much better in life.

Note: I did work on the painting this morning and I do like the subtle changes that I made. I left the original version so that others could see my "dysfunction". I did place more emphasis on the main trunk and let the other one fade. I also added more color (a dark orange) to play off of the values and to try and tie the painting together.

This photo was a challenge. I love the high contrast, but the light seemed to be shining directly from above and this did make it a challenge with defining form and shape of the trunk. A good challenge.

Thanks to the folks who put this together!! Check out the site for all the other postings and interpretations.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The View from my Studio

A View from my Studio
original oil painting on linen on board, 8 x 10 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This painting is a view from my studio window. It is one of those paintings that did not just seem to fall into place, but one that was a complete struggle. I actually wiped portions of it out a few times and now I finally will just let it go and leave it alone. It is what it is.

Has anyone else experienced something similar when painting and how do you handle it? I would love to here your comments.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Back Yard

My Back Yard with the Sun Setting
original oil on canvas on board, 6 x 8 inch, unframed
$50 plus $7 shipping USD (international please email me for shipping)
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This little study is of the sun setting so that the trees are backlit in my back yard. The leaves have fallen and are catching different colors on the ground.

This one definitely looks much better in real life....tomorrow I may try photographing it outside with natural light.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dragon Chinese Tea Cup

Chinese Dragon Tea Cup
original oil on linen on board, 6 x 8 inch, unframed
$75 plus $7 shipping USD (international shipping please email me)
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This painting was done from life. This is a tea cup that I brought back from China with me. I really like making in tea in it as you can put the loose tea into the insert, let it steep with the lid on, and then pull out the insert and the tea is ready with no tea leaves. Tea is one thing that I do miss from China. The tea that one buys here definitely is not what a person finds there. The quality is just NOT the least the places that I have seen. There are also many varieties that each has a specific flavor.

I enjoyed doing this little tea cup and utilizing the color techniques that I am learning. Next time I hope to take photos of the painting process.

Click to bid on ebay (starting bid at $49)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Turning Color

Turning Color
original oil painting on canvas board, 8 x 10 inch, unframed
$100 plus $7 USD shipping (domestic-email for international)
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Here is another color study. What I am finding when painting is that many times "less is more". I am really trying to control where I put the paint. This painting was done from a photograph from one of my hikes this fall.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More Rocks from Grand Marais

Lichen Rocks
original oil painting on canvas on board, 11 x 14 inch, unframed
$200 plus $12 shipping USD (email for international shipping)
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This weekend a new DVD showed up in the mailbox. After checking out the possibility of renting art DVDs, I decided to actually purchase this one. It is a 2-set DVD by Albert Handell. He is an expert at pastels and oils and I am really glad that I purchased this one instead of renting it and then purchasing it. I could have rented it, but it actually had a long waiting list so I had no idea when the set would show up. Being the impatient person that I am, I decided to just buy it as the DVD had rave reviews with no negative ones. I am so glad that I did. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to take a workshop from this painter. I highly recommend the DVD.

The above painting is a result of viewing the least I tried to implement some of the techniques that I learned as well as the things from the color book. So far, I am pleased with what I have learned and the direction that I am going. I can hardly wait to try doing another painting using some of Handell's recommendations.

Now I have more things to add to my painting checklist .....look for it in the next few days. In the meantime, I plan on doing a few more paintings to gain some confidence as well as fine tune my own style.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Study of Rocks

Rocks Along the Shore at Grand Marais
original oil painting on canvas on boards, 6 x 8 inch, unframed, $50 plus $7 domestic shipping USD
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This is a study of a group of rocks that I photographed along the shoreline of Lake Superior a couple of months ago. I have a small monitor that I connect to my computer to put the photo on so that I can paint from it. The monitor sits along side my easel. This is the first time trying this is ok. My preference would be to paint from life or plein aire, but when time and weather are not exactly optimum, this is an option. The monitor is a flat screen one and is fifteen inches. I am concerned with how the colors look. In the future, I may look into what it will take to calibrate it...that is another story.

This study is a bit abstract and I did use a palette knife. The color technique that I am using after reading the book on "Capturing Radiant Light and Color" by Susan Sarback is really helping with me find my style and develop it! There still is a ways to go, but with practice it should come naturally. I am very amazed at what I see for colors now, and I do find using a monitor a bit limiting as our eyes are so much more sensitive to color than technical tools.

My recommendation would be to do studies or take notes of the subject if a person plans to work from photos. That way, your memory will help with getting the mood and feeling just right. I am also thinking of putting together a checklist to reference when doing a painting. That way, it should help with staying focused and on track. There are so many things that influence a good work and making sure that they are all there is difficult - at least with me - my mind tends to wonder. So how does one stay focused and not de-rail themselves? How does one stay in the "zone"?

How do you prepare for a painting? Please feel free to leave your comments.

Note: I am also going to start offering my paintings for sale on this blog site through Paypal. I am trying to design a Paypal buttong that is not so ......distracting. For now though, I will put the Paypal link at the bottom of each post for that day's painting. Remember one does not need to be Paypal member to use a credit card through them.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Light the Way

"Light the Way"
original oil on canvas on board, 5 x 7 inch, unframed
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

$30 plus $7 shipping USD
This afternoon as I hung another lamp over my workspace, I thought that I had better get back to doing my daily oil paintings. My studio is semi-organized and ready for me.

This past month the project that I completed for the has taken considerable energy and time, but it is nearly finished!! Yahoo!! There are still seven small watercolors waiting for their owner to claim them. (You might want to check the Oct.31 posting to see if you name is listed.) If I don't hear from those winners by Friday, a new set of names will be drawn to take their place. Printed note cards are available on Etsy and I am also trying to set up something on my website so that folks can get a cards there as well. The project has been very fulfilling. I did not realize that others lives would be so touched....but to many it has been a bright spot and in turn I have received a gift because of that.

Occasionally, I will still post my paintings on ebay for bidding, but I am going to start to offer them for sale on my a great price and easily purchased through paypal. So here is the first one. The price is listed beneath and if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Drum Roll.....And the WINNERS are.....

The Paintings Packaged in Envelopes Getting Ready to be Sent to the New Owners

The names in a large bowl ready for the winner's names to be drawn!

If you are listed below, please send me your mailing address. I will also verify you by contacting the link on your comment. Thank you everyone for entering!! This was a fun project!!

Day 1 – Andrian Walker (comment Oct21)
Day 2 – Kim K (comment Oct21)
Day 3 – Kathleen (email)
Day 4 – Linda S. (email)
Day 5 – Lisa (comment today)
Day 6 – De Nelson (painting blog comment & fellow Minnesotan)
Day 7 – sweetmango (painting blog comment)
Day 8 – Coni (comment Oct.22)
Day 9 – Ann Hite (comment Oct29+)
Day 10 – pat (painting blog comment)
Day 11 – Charna Cassell (already have address)
Day 12 – ami (painting blog comment)
Day 13 – Holly Whiteside (email and have address)
Day 14 – Flassie’s Fil’a (painting blog comment and she is from Sweden)
Day 15 – Susan Hilton (comment 29gifts)
Day 16 - Missmilicent (I have your email..)
Day 17 – Lyn DiSanti (comment Oct 18)
Day 18 – Evelyn D
Day 19 – Teresa St Clarie (email)
Day 20 – Cami's Mom
Day 21 – Pat J.
Day 22 – Cindy (comment Aug 6)
Day 23 – the peacock lady
Day 24 – Meg Desai (comment Oct 21)
Day 25 – Dana Judice (email)
Day 26 – Jenn (email)
Day 27 – Allison Mercer (painting blog comment)
Day 28 – Jan from WA (a comment just an hour prior to the drawing!)
Day 29 – Erin (comment on Oct 16)

Note: These are the final names. I had to replace seven of the initial names because I did not receive a response for a mailing address after waiting for one week.

Thank you all for entering and congratulations to the winners.

Please get me your mailing info!!! If mailing info is not received within one week, a replacement name will be drawn and you will forfeit your winning painting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Friday is the Big Day for the Drawing!!!

The 29-Day Painting Project
29 paintings matted and awaiting their new owners
The drawing will take place October 31, 2008 at noon Pacific time

There still is time to be eligible for a free painting. All one needs to do is send me an email with your name and mailing info or leave a comment on the blog in regards to wanting to enter.

This entire project was just a thought a few months ago. There were many false starts, but finally I had had enough of my procrastination and just "did" it. The entire series is a flower or something that is related to botanical....leaf, berries.

This Friday I plan on announcing the winners of these small paintings and once I have the mailing info, they will be sent off to their new owners. I also scanned the images of the paintings and made small note cards of each one of the paintings and these are available on my Etsy shop with 20% of the proceeds going to help support the 29 Gifts Organization. Since the time that I first joined the group several months ago, their numbers continue to grow on a daily basis and it is turning into quite a fantastic movement. The last that I heard the giving members had reached over 2700 people. I feel so fortunate and proud to be a part of it.

Something magical happens when a person gives with no expectations in return. There are really no words to explain the feeling or what actually happens in a person's life as well. It just seems to return back to the person giving more than ten-fold. Those no expectations seem to turn into truly magically moments!

Well, the paintings are ready to go and the colors do look much better in real life!! Check back Friday for a list of winners!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trying Out the New Color Technique

Maple Leaf
original oil on canvas board
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

Wow! I just tried using the techniques from the book that I am reading on color, "Capturing Radiant Light & Color in Oils and Pastels" by Susan Sarback. I did the eye exercises and actually made sure that I was a bit relaxed (a glass of wine definitely did the job).

Being a bit of a "know-it-all", I thought for sure that I would not get much out of this exercise. WOW! I did. I am seeing color more now than I ever did before....they are there....pinks, blues, reds, oranges, yellows....all intermixed and wonderful. Needless to say, I think everyone should at least try this method. I blinked, scanned, blinked, relaxed, scanned and....saw...saw wonderful new colors. It just seemed too easy. I plan on trying this again on more complex setups, but the leaf was simple and wonderful. What a wonderful exercise in seeing!!! I think that I had one of those "revelational" moments ;-).

Below I am putting the photo of the leaf (I painted from life, but I thought that I would share what it looked like) as well as the progression of the final painting. I meant to take more pics, but my mind seemed to get a bit involved in the entire process. I definitely will do more of this!

Stage one: mask in the major masses; stage two: begin modeling the major shapes in the masses (scanning the entire subject for color...comparing color); stage three: refine the masses and finally the last attention to edges!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

29 Paintings to be Given Away for the 29-Day Giving Challenge

29 Paintings
all are watercolor (28), except orchid (1 oil)
watercolors are approx. 4 x 6 inch for image, arches paper
oil is 8 x 10 inch, gallery wrapped canvas
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

Here are all of the paintings that I will be giving away for the 29-Day Giving Challenge and my painting project that I committed to do for the challenge.

If anyone would like a painting or knows of a special person who would enjoy an original painting (these are not prints), please just leave a comment. I will need your address later.

I will promote this the next couple of weeks until I get sufficient names and then I will hold a drawing for each painting with those who responded. If you do not want to leave a comment, please feel free to email me at spiritrivermary(at) ~ please place a "@" sign where the (at) is located. I am trying to prevent spam.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Painting Project for the 29-Day Giving Challenge is Complete!!!

A Sample of Four Paintings for the 29 Painting Project
watercolor, size approx. 4 x 6 inch
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

For those of you who are unaware, a couple of months back I committed to doing a group of 29 small, flower paintings (a couple are of leaves or fruit) to give away for the 29-Day Giving Challenge. Since I am trying to get my hand back into my true passion, my art, I thought that this would not only be an excellent way of getting my name known, but also a way of sharing my artwork with others with no strings attached.....a little paintng give away. Who does not like to get something for free, especially in this economy or also I guess could call it "marketing on a shoe-string".

This little painting project definitely took more time than I anticipated, mostly due to my procrastination. Now that it is over and I look at the small group of 29 watercolor flower paintings, the small paintings look impressive when all put together. Also, watercolor is typically not my media, but they are easy to scan and mail.

Tonight I am scanning the paintings into my computer and I will post images of the group as soon as I get them all merged together. Most of the paintings are from flowers from my garden or the nearby countryside near my home.

The next step is to get them all matted and ready to mail out and the names drawn. There is still plenty of time to get your name in if you have not done so.

If you know of someone who would like a small piece of original artwork or if you yourself would like on
e, please leave a comment and I will add you to the list (I will need you mailing address later). THIS is FREE! Just put your name in the drawing for a painting by leaving a comment.

I know that I promised to write about trying a new painting technique. I have not forgotten. More will be coming on painting radiant color....I just had to get this project completed first!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Light and Color in Painting

Upper Falls at Grand Portage, MN
original oil on artboard canvas, 10 x 8 inch, $150 plus shipping (framed w/ simple oak frame)
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

After learning about a technique for painting light and color this past week, I am very excited to try it out. The author, Susan Sarback, actually has a system that she uses. In her book, "Capturing Radiant Light & Color in Oils and Soft Pastels", she applies four different stages during the painting process that shows one how to find the subtleties that are found in nature or the subject being painted.

The stages are to: 1) put in all the large major color masses, 2) refine the major masses, 3) develop the three-dimensional quality using color variations and 4) complete the color variations and develop the edges. She uses bright colors for the initial major color masses and then further develops them into warm/cool variations. The entire process is fascinating.

In the next couple of days, I hope to actually apply what I am reading in the book to a real painting experience. During the process, I will attempt to try Susan's school of thought on color and light. I promise to take photos of this attempt and post them so that others can see my attempt at trying to do this.

My plan is to set up a still life - a simple one to start with - just to get the basics down. This should be fun and a great learning experience. I hope to have this done by Monday or Tuesday. See you then with an update. Light and color full speed ahead.

If others have a favorite color method, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Self-Marketing as an Artist

Waiting for a Crew
original oil on canvas board, 10 x 8 inch, framed
Price: $150 plus shipping
copyright 2008 MaryAnn Cleary

This week as I read an article about self-marketing from a corporate perspective, I realized that these marketing strategies could easily apply to the self-marketing of an artist. In the article, "The Art of Self-Marketing", the author, Kerris Harris, evaluated several strategies that could easily apply to the self-marketing artist: branding, SWOT analysis, an Elevator speech, and coaching. Each of these marketing ploys is easily applied to the marketing strategy for the artist.
  • Branding or Self-Image
During these economic times, it is important to set yourself apart from the competition. What makes you better than another artist? Why should a customer want to do business with you? How is this accomplished?

Recently, I purchased some oil canvas from Signature Canvas. They were recommended to me by someone at a recent workshop that I took. I placed an order online for a roll of primed cotton canvas. It arrived safely. About a week after my shipment arrived, I received a thank you card in the mail personally handwritten thanking me for my order. A couple days later, I also received a phone call from Signature Canvas, thanking me again for my order and asking if there were any issues with the order and did it arrive safely. Finally, about a week ago, I received another courtesy call asking me how I liked the canvas and if everything was ok with it. Signature wanted to verify that I had no issues with the quality of their product. I have never received such service or follow-up from any other art supplier that I have ordered from in the past. Will I order from them again. Yes. They have distinguished themselves from the other suppliers that I have dealt with.

When someone purchases a painting from me, I always include a thank you note along with one of my business cards. To distinguish myself further, I might also add a coupon for a discount on the next purchase or a "freebie" such as one of my small prints or note cards.

Be original. Distinguish yourself. The marketing world calls this "branding". Have a product that a customer will think of you first to fulfill their needs. When someone brings up art in a conversation, you want to be the person that comes to their mind automatically. Brand yourself.

  • Analysis of Strengths and Weaknesses (SWOT)
What does SWOT stand for? S for strengths, W for weakenesses, O for opportunities, and T for threats. Read the comments below and then make your own list for your self-improvement as well as a plan to accomplish it. Revisit the list after every few weeks to see what has been accomplished. Revise and revisit it again for future improvement.

Strengths - what area as an artist do your skills shine? What sets you apart from others? What do others have to say? Look to those who will give you honest feedback.

An area that is one of my strengths are my charcoal drawings. When I am in the process of creating one, I typically ask my wonderful daughter for feedback. I can trust her intuition and judgement to hit on the troublesome areas every time. If something is good, she says so. If an area needs improvement, she says so. I can trust her judgment.

Find someone who you can trust for feedback Listen to it. Be open.

Weaknesses - what area do you as an artist need to improve? Identify the shortcomings and find a way to improve. If more training is needed there are a variety of ways to seek improvement. This could be made by taking a workshop, reading books on the subject or watching the many DVDs available for art techniques. Look for ways to improve. What will make you a better artist? How can you become better at your profession?

For me, I chose to enter this field full time during the start of a recession. What a crazy time to do this!! My plan included supplementing my income for the next couple of years, but how do I get to where I want to be. Since I am not recognized nationally, I plan on entering local competitions to gain local recognition as well as entering national/international competitions. This will assist with giving my name credibility with my customers who will be investing in my paintings.

Some of my better works are my charcoal drawings, but my love is oil. There are times that I really could use some help with better light and color techniques in my paintings. This summer I attended a plein air workshop, and I continue to read and explore new techniques. All of this helps to strengthen my weak areas.

Opportunities - know your market. Be on the lookout for those areas where your art will be a good fit. Since I live in a small town, I am looking for a place where I can gain exposure for myself as an artist and show my paintings. My art needs to be able to connect with them on an emotional level. I plan on painting a small series of local landmarks of the surrounding area. Something that people can easily identify with and a subject that I, too, will enjoy. If I can find an emotional connection, I know that my audience will too.

Possible areas to have a showing of my work are the local banks (the one where I bank has no artwork hanging), the local used bookstore and coffee shop, and the local frame shop. My town is small with only a few thousand people and no art gallery nearby.

Threats - what roadblocks are in my way as an artist. What can be done about it?

This summer I identified a couple of outdoor shows to exhibit my art. To tell you the truth, I did terribly at both. However, I had to look at them as a market strategy. I did make many contacts. Those who did well with just "artwork" at these shows offered more kitschy type articles for sale or who had a strong following. Fine art did not sell well for those who were not established. Establishing yourself as an artist takes time. This is my biggest threat...being a non-established artist.

What can be done about this threat? Have a professional website, have a working blog, join forums and contribute, focus your energy on the things that will benefit you as an artist the most. Stay focused with your time and energy. Try not to get side-tracked with things that will contribute little to becoming an established artist.
  • 30 Second "Infomercial" or the "Elevator Speech"
After attending a job placement agency, I received training in how to "market" myself. Every time a person meets someone new, they usually have a few seconds to sell themselves and make an impression. What you think of someone that you had just met and they said, "I am an artist" after being asked what they did. They said it with little enthusiasm or passion.

Learn to sell yourself as an artist. Prepare a 30-second commercial on you and your art. Say it with passion. Practice it. Tell people what you are working on and why you are interested in it. What the emotional connection is. When giving your infomercial, have a business card ready to hand out. Make an impression so that people will remember you. (When giving out business cards, make sure they are not those cards printed out with perforated edges that you printed out on your computer. If you want to portray a professional image, have professional business cards printed by a professional! Nice colors and a good, quality card stock.)
  • Mentoring or Coaching - share what you know with others.
A good or successful leader in the professional world is always teaching others what they know.

Sharing or mentoring could be accomplished by giving classes or volunteering at the local grade school or high school. Giving classes through the local continuing education group is another way. They are always looking for folks to teach locally. Usually they are held at a local college or high school and no accreditation is required. This is an excellent way of sharing your knowledge with others as well as developing your market for your art. Typically, students will be your greatest fans.

In summary, your self-marketing strategy should include: branding your image, doing a SWOT analysis so that one knows their strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats, preparing an infomercial, and finally, consider teaching and mentoring others. All of this will take time, but in the end when someone mentions your name, that person will have an artistic image of you in their mind.

In the future, I hope to write more of my struggles of being an artist and the self-marketing road.

What have you as an artist found successful or unsuccessful? Please feel free to comment.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Three Completed Paintings for the 29-day Giving Challenge

Thistles (watercolor)
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Yellow Flowers
watercolor with pen & ink
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

watercolor with pen & ink
copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Here are three completed small paintings to add to the 29-Day Giving Challenge. I am almost to the half-way mark with creating these small, little morsels. The sizes are approximately 4 x 6 inches or slightly larger. All will be matted to an 8x10 size.

Remember to leave a comment if you would like to be a part of the give away. I plan on putting all the names in a hat and drawing a name for each painting. I will then ship it off to you.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Works in Progress for the 29day Giving Challenge

Works in Progress for the 29-Day Giving Challenge
copyright MaryAnn Cleary 2008

Here are two more small watercolors with pen & ink that I am currently working on for the 29-Day Giving Challenge. These will be number 9 and 10. I hope to get at least half of the 29 small paintings completed by the end of the week now that my visitors have left and returned home to Montana.

Once I have completed all the little paintings, I will be giving them away to those who have left a comment on my blog stating that they would like to have one. This is part of my personal challenge in regard to Cami Walker's effort of the 29-Day Giving Challenge.

I hope you enjoy them and I will keep you posted with the finished paintings as well as progress on new ones. These little paintings will be approx. 4x6 inch in size and I plan on matting them to a finished size of 8x10 inch so that they will easily pop into a standard sized frame.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Virtual Sketch Date

Flower in a Vase

original oil painting, 10 x 10 inch, copyright MaryAnn Cleary

Here is my interpretation of the latest photo for the virtual sketching date. Sorry for the late posting of this one, but my grandson and his parents are visiting so I was a little side-tracked. However, I did manage to squeeze in some painting time this evening. I thought about doing this in charcoal or watercolor, but I opted to do oil in a more loose technique using a palette knife as well as a brush. Enjoy!

Thanks to those who helped put this together! What fun!