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.