This week's blog post is written by fiber artist Sherry Bingaman of Nueva Vida.
I have been selling my artwork since I was nine years old when I began hawking my handmade cross stitched aprons door to door to my neighbors. Selling my art was a thrill then, and it is still a thrill now.
I started doing art fairs around 1975 when I lived in my home town of Kenosha, Wisconsin. I began with small local shows and expanded to fairs in Chicago and Milwaukee—Kenosha was smack dab between these two large cities. In 1980, my husband, Jim, and I moved to rural Missouri with our daughter, Kate, where we made our living doing art fairs all over the country for the next 15 years, and it was a fun and crazy time. Another daughter, Kory, was born in 1984, and after ten more years of full-time art fair life, I went into teaching art and gifted, while Jim pursued his passion for computer technology. I still did summer art fairs because I just had to!
Today my passion is selling my fiber art at the Portland Saturday Market and at Artistic Portland. I love meeting the people who buy my work and talking to people who love and appreciate fine art and craft. It has never been a chore to me but rather tons of fun….most of the time. I will say that while the vast majority of comments from the public are wonderful to hear, there are always those few comments that make you cringe—“I am going to ask my aunt to make something like this for me” or “Why does this cost so much? I could make that for a lot less.” You have to have a sense of humor when you hear comments like these because smiling and saying nothing is better for you in the long run than giving in to the temptation to punch their faces.
Over the years, I have learned some tips to consider when selling your art to the public:
Keep a smile on your face: People want to buy something that makes them happier than they are now. They don’t just want your art, they want your happiness. Spread that sunshine!
Don’t think it because they can hear it: They can hear your thoughts, because you are sending out your vibes even when you don’t realize it. Any negative thought you have about yourself or your customer gets communicated to them without saying a word. Give them your peace and make customers feel happy and comfortable around you.
Be prepared with healthy food and snacks: Steady energy and stamina are important to staying positive. It’s hard to be present and positive when you are tired or have low blood sugar. Bring high protein snacks (hard boiled eggs, cheese, nuts) and fruit for some sweets. Don’t forget water! I also must have a small amount of chocolate to keep my mental health at peak performance!
Why YES you love what you make, and “No, it’s not on sale:" You have a passion for your work and no one else is quite like you. Your skills are valuable. Your art is special. This all should not come cheap. If you don’t value your work, how can you expect others to? It is not uncommon for someone to ask for a discount, but you can politely decline with a smile. Don’t get angry or insulted, and let the customer save face. Many artists play the discount game, so you can’t blame them for asking. You don’t have to play this game unless you want to. Just be polite about it.
I have always felt lucky to have a passion for making things. It is my reason for getting up in the morning. Selling my work is a bonus and allows me to make more stuff, so I work at being successful at it. It’s my circle of life!
This week's blog post was written by mosaic artist Colleen Patricia Willams.
This weeks’ post is about not just art, but the creative process and what aids that process. Modern American society is a busy place; work, family and other social commitments tend to take up our time, leaving us little time for leisure activities. This busyness cuts into our sleep, our meals and deprives us of a lot of necessary relaxation.
Neuroscience suggests that this trend has not been a good thing for Americans; it comes at the expense of creative enterprises, which tend to raise our life satisfaction as well as help us to live longer. Those moments when one becomes unaware of the passage of time, when the brain focuses on the project at hand, those moments are called “flow” and those moments are very good for us, not just as artists, but in other areas.
Flow is when we are relaxed, when time slips away, much like when one is driving, deep in thought; we find ourselves surprised when we pull into the driveway, listening to the music, it seemed like the drive took no time at all. This phenomenon generalizes out to the rest of our lives; at work, and especially at play, flow allows us to become one with the project, the concepts, that we are trying to express. It’s a good thing to take the time to experience flow; coloring can do this, which is what is behind the rise of the adult coloring book.
Another crucial area that needs to be considered is the role of sleep in the creative process; sleep not only cleans detritus out of our brains, but sleep allows new information learned during the waking period, to become better embedded in the brain. Sleep aids in healing and growth; growth of neuronal connections is vital to the creative process as is the pruning of unneeded neuronal connections. Sleep allows the brain to reorganize all of the input that has come into the brain during the waking period; this sleep period also allows weaker subsystems in the brain that are overwhelmed during the day, to emerge as the stronger systems are on hold. This is the origin of the A HA! moment. There are many documented instances of the answer to a critical question to a problem that come in dreams, like the invention of the sewing machine.
The inventor of the sewing machine was having a difficult time getting the thread to work; one night, during a dream, he saw the answer in the spear points that he dreamed of that night. They had holes in the tips, which when he applied this to the needles, it allowed the thread to properly loop, solving the problem he was having with his invention, that has changed the world.
The point that I hope to make for all people, artists and those who are not artists, is that we can all be creative, we can all do things to enhance our creativity, with sleep being the number one thing that we can all do, for free.
Stop by Artistic Portland to see and purchase Colleen's illuminated mosaics and hand-drawn coloring books!
This week's blog post was written by Ben Gilbert of Crayons and Cardboard.
The latest direction my art is going is capturing the image of an image. I paint flawed photographs trying to capture the blur. The static snow, the electromagnetic lines in photos taken in a second by phone. Easy to do when one does not have to worry about wasting film... Sometimes I use the Photoshop app to alter the images in interesting ways.
"Windows 10 Distortion Wave Field Test 1 " this was made from a Windows 10 screen saver.
I continue the Portland in the rain studies with "Mild Front" with a delineation of wet and dry bricks...
I have tried to begin a strain of subtle horror with the "That House" piece and in the future "Crystal Geyser Stack."
"Predator Becomes Prey" and "Temple of Meat" are pop culture primary color works...
As is "Daedon of Nylar" where one of the lovecraftian icons meets a prehistoric pig...
Snake Berm... An abstract involving sprinklers a snake and oceanic contour lines...
Besides the continuing use of photos I have been continuing down the path of using mostly primary colors in abstracts.
One cannot use a light touch with crayon and cardboard... The surface does not easily accept the wax... One must plow one’s way across the harsh field to soften up the area... While being careful not to cake the wax on too much lest it start to flake...
On the Nature of Crayons...
Taste... They may be waxy but they are not full of the body defiling bitterness that one finds in most of the paints...
Touch... They are smooth and cool... Like sturdy solid stalks of cress or carrots... Nothing to complain about there...
Smell... Pleasant yet with enough crayons enough to overwhelm the accumulated body odor of a sweltering Portland summer...
Sound... No scraping... I suppose if you use the wax to remove hair they could collect the screams of agony involved in such a venture...
Sight... The best part... Over a hundred vibrant colors in the wheel package...
I'll probably do an octopus next.. More cats more dogs... Maybe giant space hamsters... Fantasy creatures... Creatures small and creatures of the deep... Stay tuned…
In the near future my work will be at Dark Star Tattoo, another Pancakes and Booze on Hawthorne and Refuge PDX for the June Fourth Friday. Send responses to these blog posts to Vdrak80@gmail.com.
This week's blog post is written by local painter and Co-op member John Stephenson.
I have always been intrigued by the infinite combinations of colors possible in my paintings. The mystery of how color changes with the slightest adding of one color to another and to what degree to do this is exciting and often frustrating. These minute changes will ultimately determine how a painting, a piece of jewelry, a fiber artwork, or just about any type of craft will look in the finished product. This includes working with glass, pottery, wood and metals. I have no formula for how to solve the chanciness of color except to apply my past experiences and experiment with the new. It is a challenging and creative process for me.
Fortunately there are some guidelines that help when you experiment with the colors. We have learned in our early childhood art classes that mixing the primary colors blue, red and yellow plus using black or white will make or tint new secondary colors. Many artists and some scientists have studied color and tried to devise laws that govern the effects of mixing and placement of these colors. The untrained human eye cannot easily discriminate differences enough to name and describe a large range of colors. For example, although there is a large range of mixes between red and white, we usually come up with the name “pink”. But when fine gradations are placed next to each other, depending of the shape and size of the patch, we can discern which patch is more pleasing to the eye. It is also true that the eye mixes colors when the patch is small and placed close together. The impressionist used this phenomenon to create paintings closer to our experience of light on surfaces of buildings, trees and people. They mainly used pure paint right out of the tube. Our imagination takes over to create colors that aren’t placed there. For me this means we can let go of the compulsion to try and mix every local color we see and instead let our imagination take over. I think this enhances the enjoyment of the paintings and other art objects.
Another consideration in painting is that using pure colors of a rich blue, for example, grabs our attention in contrast to more tinted or shaded colors. Thus space or distance can be created by placement of these brighter colors with muted ones. In landscapes this produces the illusion of background and foreground
Our emotional state or makeup is important as well. We react to colors differently depending on our personal and cultural history. Some colors evoke a more upbeat response associated with bright sunny days. Other colors evoke sadness, excitement or anger. This applies to many artists who have strong associations with certain colors that for them produce excitement or feelings of purity or grief. I think of expressionist painters of the past such as Wassily Kandinsky, Edvard Munch or Emil Nolde who made emotional response to color a major focus of their creative process, not only for themselves, but for the viewers of their art as well.
Knowing these factors doesn’t give a blueprint for using color but helps in considering how we react to colors and how our viewers may react. I’m sure that every artist in our Co-op is well aware of the influence of color and uses it as an essential ingredient in the art he/she creates.