I do try to keep some measure of practicality to my painting career. I spend a fair amount of time on marketing, designing and printing brochures and mailings. I try to keep my web site up to date and I participate in as many local art events as I can. Sometimes though, even when you know you need to be attending to the business end of things you just need to paint.
The month of August is my busiest time. Last weekend I was in Mystic, Connecticut for their art festival, a two day show. This weekend I will be in Greeley Park, Nashua, N.H. Next Saturday, it will be Portland Maine and the following weekend, Keene, N.H. There will be a couple of weeks off before I head down to New Hope, PA. After that, the Open Studio Tour, Columbus Day weekend.
The summer started out with a show Memorial Day weekend at the Montauk, Long Island show in New York. Before leaving I took some pictures. In wandering around in search of possible subjects for future paintings I came across a garden/florist shop called Strawberry Fields. It was beautifully laid out. I took a whole bunch of pictures and I’ve been wanting to work on a painting ever since.
Today I painted, it felt great to finally get to this picture. There are some other things I didn’t get to that maybe I should have – but today I painted. Tomorrow, I’ll have to get ready for this weekend’s show in Nashua. Once again I’ll pack up my truck, in the evening I will head over to set up my tent. But today I painted.
It reminds me of the first day of school. I just know I’m going to do better than last year. I’ll try really hard and I promise I won’t talk too much in class. You just have to dive in there and go for it – no fear. That’s what I’d always said to myself anyhow. But here I am about to start my 6th year of doing the circuit of summer art shows and I still feel like I’m going off to Kindergarten – well, maybe not kindergarten. Tomorrow, Rick and I will head to the Montauk Fine Art Show, Montauk, Long Island, N.Y. It’s a juried show with artists from all around the country. I feel fortunate to be one of the artists chosen to participate, and also like that little girl on the first day of school, only it’s good to talk to your customers, so I should do just fine.
I’m not sure though, that I can really count the first year as being part of a circuit of shows, since I only did one – Keene, N.H., Art in the Park. It was both exciting, terrifying and humorous in looking back. I didn’t have any display panels, so Rick built me some. We had gone to a few shows to “scope things out” and see how it’s done. I was checking out prices and Rick was taking notes on displays. “I’ve got a few ideas” he said, about how he could make me a setup. It so happened that it was the same year we were turning the barn into my studio. I guess that’s how he came up with the idea. For a grill to hang my paintings on, Rick used the old fencing we still had from my pygmy goats and I draped sheer curtains over them to dress them up, and to hide the goat fur I couldn’t get off. Much to my delight and surprise I sold several paintings. Watching people smile as they looked at my work was an amazing feeling.
The next year I did a couple more shows, and the year after that a few more. I won awards at the Beacon Hill Art Walk one year and at the Manchester Art in the Park another year. One year I looked for every show I could find within driving distance. That was good experience but more shows didn’t necessarily mean more sales. There are shows where people come to look, ones where people come to buy, and ones that are not very well attended. Once I learned that lesson I started to look more carefully at which shows I wanted to participate in.
Each year I’ve tried to improve not only my painting but my setup. It’s taken a while but now I’m very happy with my display – the goat hair is long gone but you’ve got to start somewhere. I want it to be attractive and welcoming. The finishing touch is always the table in front because on it is a table cloth my mother embroidered for me many years ago.
This will be my first year at the Montauk show. Being juried into a show in the New York area is like the first show, both exciting and terrifying. But firsts are suppose to be that way and so I’m anxiously looking forward to it – maybe someone could just give me another little push….
The rest of my schedule for the season can be found on my web site.