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CHOOSING A GALLERY

Published December 25, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Choosing a gallery is NOT a matter of taking the first offer you get from a gallery, or taking a recommendation from your Uncle’s cousin. It is also not about showing trust in humanity. Choosing a Gallery to represent art can be one of the most important decisions an artist can make. This decision will affect who sees the art, and consequently who buys it. An artist is an equal partner with the Gallery: The artist supplies the product sold and the Gallery in turn supplies the selling venue. Neither party can exist without the other. If an artist chooses poorly, it reflects on both the artist and on the art. Art is a business as well as a creative endeavor.  If an artist is pursuing art as a career and not as a hobby artists need to be aware of legal issues that can affect them. Most artists benefit from showing their art at Commercial Galleries (nuts and bolts). Unfortunately, not all commercial galleries are created equal. Some are aboveboard and have excellent reputations and ethics. Others do not. Commercial art galleries derive their profit from sales of artwork, and thus take great care to select art and artists that they believe will sell and enhance their gallery’s reputation. They spend time and money cultivating collectors. If the artwork sells, the gallery makes a profit and the artist is then paid. It is not unusual for a commercial art gallery to charge a 50% commission on sales. Before entering into partnership with a new gallery, the artist should do what any responsible person would do before entering into a contract: check it out with the local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce. Ask to speak to other artists who are under contract. Do they make sales? Does the gallery pay on time when a sale is made? Does the gallery make sales of an artist’s work and not tell artists about it? What about advertising and publicity, how much does the gallery does and who pays for it? Artists should also attend a few of their receptions or events and see who is attending. If it is mostly other artists under contract, very few sales will be made. A successful commercial gallery will be in a location where there is a high volume of foot traffic and visited by a lot of art fans is ideal. A location such as this may be pricey, but if an audience is already there and primed to visit the gallery with the intent to buy, less can be spent on advertising to drive buyers to see the work.

NUTS & BOLTS VS. ON-LINE GALLEIRES

Surprisingly there are a number of on-line and nuts and bolts alternatives for choosing where you will show your art. The words “on-line art gallery” can mean different things, however; an online art gallery most likely will be a website to display and sell art. For example: 1) An on-line art gallery can be displaying art work from their current, future, or past exhibitions, and be set up to promote the exhibition rather than to sell the work via the website.  2)  An artist presenting his/her own gallery, either on his own website and 3) Multi-Artist Sites or shared websites (ArtId, Fine Art America, Etsy, etc.), representing many artists working in different medias and genres. On a multi-artist site the artist either pays a monthly fee or agrees to a commission paid when the work is sold. These are usually non-exclusive and are a risk free opportunity for the artist to sell art worldwide. Search for them using “original art” or “online art gallery”. The advantage of Online Galleries is that while the art buying public is growing, many people are still intimidated by walk-in commercial Art Galleries. If a potential buyer has access to a wide range of art viewed in the comfort and safety of their own home, they may relax and make a purchase. A lot of artists now have an online Gallery as well as a walk-in commercial Gallery, which means that an artist can present a lot more art to a lot more people.

Beginning artists can be confused by Vanity Galleries because Vanity Galleries are not the only type of gallery that charges a fee to the artist; a vanity gallery charges artists fees to exhibit their work and makes most of its money from the artists rather than from sales to the public. Some vanity galleries charge a lump sum to arrange an exhibition, while others ask artists to pay regular membership fees and then promise to organize an exhibition with a certain period. Occasionally a vanity gallery will appear to have a selection process because the number of artists on the membership roster cannot exceed the available time slots for shows. Vanity galleries have no incentive to sell art, as they have already been paid by the artist. They are not selective because they don’t have to be. Most Professional critics and reviewers tend to avoid them.

Cooperative galleries (sometimes called artist-run initiatives), are galleries operated by groups of artists who pool their resources to staff the gallery, pay for gallery space, exhibits and publicity. Most cooperative galleries carefully jury their members. Also, most, galleries of this type do require membership fees. Sometimes members must share the overhead cost of operating the gallery.

Before joining a gallery or on-line site, it is a good idea to check out their sales record. Talk or e-mail artists using the site and ask their opinion of the Gallery.

 

CHOOSING A SOFTWARE PROGRAM

Published December 18, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Art is a business, and like any business, it is necessary to keep track of expenses as well as income. While you can do this by hand, nothing beats a computer program to track stuff!  I have been searching for a comprehensive program for my art business for years. While there are some all-inclusive programs beginning to be developed, I have usually found some flaw in the program; either they were hard to use, or had an incompatible photo program for thumbnails of my art, etc. There are a couple of new companies with programs designed for artists out on the internet (see links below).  DISCLAIMER: Please keep in mind that I have no practical experience with any of these programs except Working Artist. It is up to you to check them out and decide if you want to use them. Here are some links to potential art software sites along with what information I have on them:

http://www.artlooksoftware.com/Downloads/Introduction.pdf  (Free evaluation copy available) Current pricing is £150.00 (I assume this is British pounds or some type of Euro symbol).

http://www.gyst-ink.com/  Retails for either $59.00 or $129.00 depending on whether you want just the basic system or their Pro program.

http://www.artsystems.com/products/system.htm  this system says it will link to QuickBooks, web manager and has a system for I-Pad. It is also VERY expensive; licensing for this puppy runs anywhere from $5,000 down to $795.00.

http://workingartist.com/   Retails out for between $139 — $154 with upgrades for $59. This one comes in 4 separate editions 1) a studio edition designed for agents representing several artists, 2) The artist edition, designed the single artist to manager their business. The site also claims to have an edition for Art Fairs and for Galleries, but I wasn’t able to access them by clicking on them. This is the only one of these software programs I have any actual working knowledge of, and it was about 10 years ago that I tried to use a free trial download. At that time, I experienced considerable difficulty in uploading photos of my work into the program, as it would not accept jpeg versions for some reason. I assume they would have corrected this issue in the intervening time.

http://www.masterpiecemanager.com/artistfnb.html  this one says it will manage inventory, contact, point of sale, has art web site templates, e-mail marketing and is available for MAC & PC. This is not that unusual as ALL of the software programs say they have both MAC & PC versions. Pricing for individual artists is $29/month, which works out to about $348 a year. Like Working Artist, this set up also has different programs for Galleries, stores consignment stores, museums, etc.

If you don’t want to purchase an expensive program, you can simply use an excel spreadsheet to track income and expenses but it is very time consuming. For expense tracking, I would recommend QuickBooks to track your expenses and income. QuickBooks, while a little on the expensive side is pretty user friendly and easily transitions into tax software programs such as Turbo Tax when it comes time to file your income tax. Unfortunately, I have heard rumors that it doesn’t mesh as well with Apple products as it does PCs. If you simply want to go the excel program route and manually track stuff, you can access copies of my system at http://www.thepracticalartist.com.

Yes, Virginia, I am actually using three programs to track my art and my expenses. QuickBooks for income and expenses, two spreadsheets that tell me where my art is at any given time; (Current Location Report and Painting Information Sheets) to track awards, income from each painting or prints made from it. I also use a photo file  with different sized images of my art for various uses (webpage, large-sized prints, and specific sizes for on-line show entries).

For Photo Editing I use Photoshop Elements because it is less pricey than the full Adobe editing program and as a painter, I really don’t need the maximum amount of bells and whistles you get with the full Adobe Suite.

I can’t say this often enough; back up your data!

You should keep at least two types of photo records:

A photo log with both high- and low- resolution photos of your work, kept separately from your desktop computer. A working copy can be kept on the desktop, but be sure and back up your files each month onto a separate disc or jump drive.

To keep track of your business and be able to recover your files in a disaster, you will need:

A program or system to track income and expenses;

A record that includes an image of each piece of art created and its disposition or current location.

Keep back-up copies of these items in a separate place, And up-date your back-ups monthly. Once your records are lost due to computer crashes, natural disaster or any other reason they are gone. For this, you can purchase separate auxiliary drives that have as much memory as a desktop, or you can back your stuff up into a version of the cloud. There are a LOT of cloud backup systems out there now. Automatic systems such as I-Cloud, and manual systems like Dropbox. None of these are free and if you can’t keep up the payments, I don’t know how recoverable your records might be. Check them out.

DOES ACRYLIC PAINT REALLY DRY TOO FAST?

Published December 11, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Acrylic is a very forgiving medium. By this, I mean that if you goof up you can just paint over it and start again! Can’t do that with watercolor; at least not unless you are very, very skilled with it. I do love the way a talented watercolorist can bring a painting to life with watercolor, but sadly, I find it much harder to work with than acrylics. I am a kind of “create as I go painter”, and with watercolor it seems necessary to minutely plan each step. I am the type of artist who starts with just a general sketch and then details with paint as I go. While I like the way oils look (my mother worked in them) I can’t use them because of the chemicals and the smell. Oils also dry too slowly for a painter like me. I end up with mud every time because I am too impatient to wait days until my canvas is workable again! Pastels and charcoal make fantastic mediums when done by an artist skilled in their use, and they don’t stink but I am such a messy painter that I inevitably end up with as much on me as I do on the canvas or paper!

Acrylics are wonderful for impatient painters like me. Since each layer will dry and be workable in about a half hour, in four or five hours I can add at least four layers of paint without creating mud which every artist dreads. (You know when you’ve accidentally mixed your colors on top of each other and ended up with a dark mess instead of the beautiful color you were aiming for?)  I confess that it puzzles me to hear of other artists complaining that acrylics dry too fast to work with since I often have to stop and walk away for that half hour in order to let my painting become dry enough to add another layer of paint.

Acrylics paint is such a chameleon that if I want parts of my work to look like a watercolor, I just thin my acrylic paint to make it more transparent. There are many additions that can be used to alter the properties of Acrylics, but I just use water to thin my paint. If I want an area I am working on to stay wet a little longer, instead of adding a slow-dry medium, I spray the canvas with water or wet it with a brush. I don’t use any of the available mediums that are supposed to slow down the speed in which acrylics dry. I have tried them but I didn’t like working with them.

Acrylics typically dry darker and less shinny than they look when wet. There are mediums you can mix with your paints to give acrylics that shinny appearance typical of an oil painting, but this medium does slightly alter the way in which acrylic paint acts when painting with it. The same effect can be achieved if you simply apply a coat of varnish to the painting when it is done.

The amount of paint an artist applies to the painting also has an effect on how fast an acrylic application will dry. I have noticed that many artists who received their first artistic training in transparent watercolor seem to put a lot less paint on a canvas each time than I do, which might account for their acrylics drying faster than they expect. I find that acrylic loves to be applied nice and thick. The thicker the paint (the more you start out with on the brush each time) the easier it is to push it around on the canvas and the longer it will take to dry.

If you are having trouble with acrylic painting techniques, don’t give up. If you can’t find a class in acrylics by a local expert, there are many wonderful instruction videos and books available. You can also take advantage of your local art groups demonstrations at their general meetings. The two experts in Acrylic painting that I have learned the most from are Jerome Grimmer, an artist who lives in my area part time and gives workshops when he is in Fresno, and Jerry Yarnell, who lives in Oklahoma and publishes instructional videos that can be found on public television stations or bought from the internet.

PERFORMANCE AND PROPERTIES OF ACRYLIC PAINTS IN FINE ART

Published December 4, 2017 by Gail Daley Writer & Artist

Acrylic paintings now make up a significant part of the permanent collections of museums and art galleries.  Artists’ acrylic paint was introduced in the 1950s and since then has dominated the arts and crafts market.   In addition, it has been accepted by artists as a viable alternative to oil paint.  Unlike oil paints, which have existed for centuries, Acrylic paints are a relatively new medium. Once dry, acrylic paint is not water-soluble and will usually be dry within 30 minutes of application, whereas oils do not become dry to the touch for 48 hours. Most acrylic paint used by artists is water-based. There is a form of acrylic paint that is solvent based, but it is not in general use by artists. A variety of additives can be added to the acrylic paint to make them easier to work with or to give the texture wanted by the artist.   Examples of these are thickeners, stabilizers, preservatives, and merging solvents.

Because it is a 20th century product, artists don’t have centuries of experience to tell what effect aging may have on an acrylic painting. Acrylic colors retain their original brilliance as long, or longer, than traditional oil paints, and they are much less delicate and prone to damage by UV radiation than watercolors and other water-based paints. The surface of a finished acrylic painting does not seem to become brittle or yellow with age, but remains flexible, insoluble and stable.

The behavior of acrylics as a painting medium and their physical and chemical properties are different from oil paint and merit different strategies in caring for acrylic paintings.  Some traditional conservation methods can in fact cause damage to the acrylic paintings.  The aging characteristics of acrylic paintings are just beginning to be understood.  It is known that aging may cause some acrylic paintings to form a grey veil on their surface or develop yellow discoloration. The soft film formed by acrylic paint will easily abrade or dent with just fingernail pressure.  This type of damage can ruin the appearance of paintings that should display a perfect surface. Because Acrylic paint stretches when exposed to heat and cold, Acrylic paintings are expected to develop fewer cracks than oil paintings when they age. Acrylic paintings can withstand much greater forces without breaking.   Cracks can form in acrylic paintings however. When exposed to sub-zero temperatures, acrylics become increasingly brittle and crack so don’t store your acrylic paintings in a freezer!

Acrylic paintings have unique qualities that need diligent preventive care to avoid long-term damage.  Acrylic paint attracts and holds dirt and is difficult to clean. Varnishing to protect the paint is not a perfect solution either.  It is imperative to store acrylic paintings in a dust free, smoke free location to reduce the amount of dirt accumulated.  It is also important to keep the display or storage temperature below standard room temperatures to reduce further softening of the paint film.  One might have to accept that acrylic paintings will experience some visual change due to dirt as time goes on. Avoid handling the painting’s surface directly. Erosion from scuffing or touching the paint surface can damage or alter the appearance of the work significantly. This is because skin oils are acidic and can damage the artwork over time. Dust and dirt are a particular hazard. Acrylics can also pick up mold residue if they are stored in a warm climate like a bathroom or locker room, or even a kitchen.

At present, there is no completely satisfactory solution to the problem of cleaning acrylic paintings. Removal of the top most dirt layer is perceived to be easier on a varnished painting. Varnishes provide surface protection from abrasion, dust and dirt. Varnishing acrylic paintings has problems attached to it. Natural varnishes, such as dammar, will yellow in time and the solvent used in their removal will dissolve or soften the acrylic paint layer, thus damaging your painting. A water-soluble varnish may be an answer; however, this is still being researched by manufacturers to see what long-term effects may take place. Instead, it is important to store acrylic paintings in a dust free environment to reduce the amount of dirt deposited while keeping the display or keep the temperature below standard room temperatures to reduce further softening of the paint film.

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