If I Sell out at this show, I won't have enough art for the next one... by M Theresa Brown

I chatted with a potter recently about entering an upcoming show that I thought would be good for her.  She surprised me when she laughingly confessed that the previous year she had skipped that opportunity because she was afraid that she would have no time to re-stock her pottery when she sold out at the show held two weeks earlier.

In my  twenty one years of selling my art for a living, I have stumbled near or into many pitfalls known to beginning businesses......and I have a seasoned amount of "Things Not To Do" stories. It doesn't stop at one thing of course. Rather it's more like a Folder on my computer with numerous categories  inside.

One of these Folders in my brain refers to the artist beginning to participate in art shows. I won't go into the little mistakes that I initially made with seemingly small things that became huge as the event wore on such as forgetting the sunscreen, weights for the tents, business cards or bottled water.  Those fall under the heading of "That won't happen again."
But I will focus on that Folder that I discovered every artist has when contemplating a series of shows regardless of what he creates. And that is the concern of "If I enter this show and sell out, I won't have enough for the show in 3 weeks" syndrome.

Looking back it's actually funny only in the context of how much angst and brain power it caused in looking at all the possibilities such an event would cause. But when an artist first comes across the need to make a plan of the upcoming show season, it wreaks havoc with one's logistical skills. And, as it always turns out, unnecessarily.  It is a rare artist or craftsman who is left with nothing to sell at the next show after hitting a bonanza at the current one. The typical range of emotions runs the whole gamut during the course of the show from mentally calculating the bank deposit  to the stark realization (or conclusion) that you may not make expenses. And somewhere in the back of this artist's mind are the words from a seasoned show artist to "Not worry about selling everything in your booth." Ouch.

 My potter friend was rueful about her beginning  naivety and now enters the shows that she can accommodate based strictly on business factors.  She learned that the old adage "Never count your chickens before they hatch" has nothing to do with lack of optimism, it has everything to do with  reality and missed opportunities while waiting for just one batch to hatch. The beginning artist often quits after just one or two shows because the expectations fell  short of the reality.  But there is NO golden rule for success at every art show or festival you enter. There are definite rules that will enhance your chances of success, but every show is a learning experience. And each time you participate and file away the experience, and learn positively from it, you enhance the chance that you might, indeed, sell all your art in your booth and not have enough for the next show!

To learn more about selling your art, visit us at . Next marketing class June 18 at Jerry's in Raleigh!
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PSoA Conference 2011

When I was in school, I got in ruts just like anyone else.  Sometimes you are just frustrated or uninspired.  But one of the great things about school is that you have teachers and classmates to inspire you.  I have written before about how different it is to paint after college.  You do

 not have deadlines to meet unless they are your own and you do not have teachers to impress or class critiques.  It is easy to become stagnant.  And that is where I was in my art.

After a few years of painting my "Creeper" series, I moved onto a series inspired by Bettie Page.  After a couple of paintings, I just was not into it and it was evident in my work.  I felt like my technique was slipping and I was no longer challenging myself in either execution or concept.

About two weeks ago I got to go to the Portrait Society of America's annual Art of the Portrait Conference in Atlanta.  One of the best ways to learn is by watching; and there was plenty of talent to watch and learn from throughout the weekend.  The face-off competition on the first night had 15 of the top portrait artists painting from live models for only 2 hours.  There were fantastic demos from artists such as Rose Frantzen and Jeremy Lipking.

One of the best experiences I had was at a place called Fat Matt's Rib Shack.  We went there for drinks the first night and a blues singer named Eddie

was performing and he was amazing.  He is 82 and has been performing since he was 14.  Alexey Steele asked if he would be willing to meet him there in the morning and model.  He agreed.  We saw him the next day when Jeremy and Alexey painted this genuinely sweet and talented man.  It is great to watch Alexey paint because he is equally concerned with catching the likeness of the person as well as their essence.  After meeting Eddie, I can say that he definitely achieved both.

So after three intense days of demos and fun, what did I bring back to the studio?

Well, for about five days…nothing.  I was on a high about what a great time I had, really disappointed about not still being there, and getting back in the groove of work.  But then I was ready.  The motivation and inspiration that I had been longing for was back.  Every night when I get off work I have been in my studio for 4-5 hours working on my newest painting, a 6'x6' oil on canvas.

Even though I have continued to paint the figure since school, I found myself attacking this painting in a completely different way.  I am by no means painting the same as the artists I watched, but I see differently.  My process has changed.  I have kept some of my own methods and I have added new ones.  There's more than one way to skin a cat and there's more than one way to paint a figure.  Changing the formula keeps it interesting and puts you in the mindset of innovation which is where failure and huge successes occur.  And that is definitely the place that I want to be.



Newest Piece in Progress... 72" x 72"





The Total Art Experience by M Theresa Brown

The dew on the grass was wet, the morning almost chilly, but Saturday, May 7 was our scheduled "Paint in the Garden" START ( class and we had a dozen people coming in at 10:00 am to learn or re-experience painting "Plein air" or from life outside at our studio.
Right on cue, the sun peeped over the trees and scattered light across the garden flowers and roses.  Students ranging from 12 to 72  gathered in the studio and we started a day that for most, was a first! They were all painting scenes, not from photographs, but from the actual subjects themselves!

My artist husband, Stephen Filarsky,( specializes in this form of painting. He has quite a following among his collectors as he is an avid "plein air" painter and thinks nothing of stopping, flipping out his Julien easel and whisking off an oil  painting or two on our travels.  So we were sharing our tips and techniques on that beautiful day to encourage the participants to discover the joy of the art zone. That place where you are lost for a short while in creating art. Your art. And perhaps in doing so, changing your life forever.

It takes a little organization to pull off oil palettes, brushes, solvent, chairs, tables, easels and individual locations for a dozen people. Our thanks to  START director, Christina Harles for participating and loaning some much needed easels for the outdoor class!

So what happened at this painting party and why were they there?  Several of the participants were there because they were painting an oil painting for their mothers for Mothers Day! Another brought her mother after purchasing a gift certificate. The two youngest were there with participating parents who were encouraging their offspring to enjoy art.  Several were experienced artists who needed the discipline of a workshop to "make" them get out and paint!

Steve first demonstrated a quick method for getting the basic shapes and colors and after watching a few minutes, the particpants returned to their selected areas and started. That was the hardest part for most. Starting! Our 10:00-noon class ended with a lunch break and a sharing of Steve's favorite painting beverage for loosening up adult painters-Mimosas.  Those staying for the second half of the day brought their lunches. All were relaxed, enjoying the day, the moment, the scenery and the experience! Our 1:00-3:00  class began when everyone moved to new locations and started again. We shared not just the scenery but the dogs, the goats,  the ponies and the old cat!

Painting outside while looking at a subject is a unique way for all artists to re-examine just what a rose or a trellis or the colors in their selected vignettes REALLY look like! None who do this will ever see their subjects again in the same light. For a few, their paintings at this class were their very first paintings and a whole new world has been opened to them! 
Some are coming back the next Saturday to do it all over again in watercolor.
All  experienced that Total Art Experience. That relaxed, peaceful feeling that only comes from the complete immersion, for whatever length of time, in the enjoyable process of creating of art!

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