Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gallery Visit

Yesterday evening, we stopped by the gallery Santa Barbara Art Studios. This is a very small, relatively new gallery in Santa Barbara's south eastern funk zone, surrounded by an automobile repair facility, tiny homes, and big industrial buildings and work yards. This was my first visit to the gallery.

They had a great exhibit of paintings by a local artist Benjamin Brode. He paints colorful landscapes in a nice impressionistic style. We had a chance to meet with the artist.
Well worth the visit.

If this is the caliber of their showings, I will definitely be back.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance

As many local residents and knowledgeable visitors have found, Santa Barbara County, California, is an art lover’s paradise. It is thriving with painters, sculptors, printmakers, and assemblage artists – some world-renowned and others are just emerging. In addition, many galleries, studios, museums, and art events feature the work of both past and present local artists.

I am a co-founder and Steering Committee Member of a local non-profit organization known as Santa Barbara Visual Arts Alliance (SBVAA). It has been around since 2001, and has a mission to promote, locally, nationally, and internationally, the rich local visual arts resources.

Funded in part by Membership fees, it is supported also by a small grant from the Santa Barbara Community Events & Festivals Program, from funds provided by the City of Santa Barbara in partnership with the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission.

Today, its principle contribution is a website with a database recording much of the visual arts activities in the County of Santa Barbara.
There are recorded most local visual arts related events, galleries, museums, art venues of all kinds, organization, and many individual artists, many with their own studios. Thousands of visitors to the area, as well locals, use the listings to plan their explorations of the local art scene.

The organization has until now been run by volunteers. For a long time I have acted as manager and moderator for the website, supported by outside contractors who do the actual online posting of the hundreds of emailed art stories that arrive each month.

For the last few days I have been taken away from my painting to write a grant solicitation to obtain funds to bring on board our very first employee, an Executive Director.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today I Updated My Website

Today I updated my website by adding five small paintings I have recently completed. I also changed the the name of "Interesting People" section of my Portraits Galleries to "Family and Friends." This new name more correctly describes these galleries.

It takes a surprising amount of time to do these updates, even when cloning one web page from another.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

ImageKind Print Gallery

I have just updated my ImageKind Gallery. ImageKind is a place where you may order framed and unframed prints of my recent art.

Todays update was to include a new Gallery of paintings of "Friends and Family." Also, I added the little "Sofia" painting to the "Interesting Strangers" Gallery.

Since they need very large files of each painting, it takes a while to upload the image files. The update process is slow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finished A Painting

After lunch today I delivered my new little 8 x 10 inch painting "Sofia" to The Art Fund for their upcoming "Wish You Were Here" fund raiser. It was still a little sticky and soft, but they understand and will protect it for a few days.

I am donating it. I look upon such donations as good PR. I was able to scan it so have good documentation for my files and for my website.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Making Progress

Yesterday afternoon I searched the internet for ideas on Blog Promotion. One lead took me to Feedburner. This useful site was full of ideas and I spent my usual blogging time adding their suggestions to this blogging site.

You will note that you may now more easily subscribe to this blog. When subscribed you maybe automatically notified of new additions and updates.

This morning I finished up "The Story Teller" painting. I decided it did not need another coat of medium. I stapeled my printed card (a business card sized label with basic personal contact data) on the bottom stretcher, and added my painting serial number.

A long time ago ( at least several years) when I was planning an open studio, I decided that I needed to number my paintings to set up some sort of records control. That day I just went around all the paintings in my storage area and hanging on my walls, and wrote a consecutive number on each. The numbers were just as they came starting from one.

Consequently all my early paintings bear numbers that are somewhat random and have no bearing to when they were painted. Any painting sold or given away earlier than that day was not numbered. Also, I missed all my shrink wrapped watercolors in various bins, plus a few other framed paintings.

Many of these paintings were added later and now appear on the list totally out of order. This not how I would do it again or recommend to others, but that is the way it is.

Most of my more recent paintings are in sequence of their creation. Though I still have several boxes in storage of sketches and charcoal renderings that are many years old and unnumbered.

Getting back to this morning's work, I signed and coated with medium the little 10 x 8 inch painting that I am planning to donate to the Art Fund next Monday. I will scan it before I take it in, so that I have a record image.

I decided to call the painting "Sophie." In searching for a name (for usually I do not know the person's name) I came across a useful website with Spanish girls and boys names. I wanted a "soft" feeling name to go with the wistful look of the girl in the painting.

Also, I began the wedding picture of "Marty and Diane." As I mentioned in Thursday's blog, I have selected the primary image, prepared the usual B&W high contrast image, and projected it onto a 16 x 20 inch canvas Thursday evening.

This morning I enhanced the graphite sketched image with dilute paint (a mix of burnt sienna, ultramarine, medium, and turps). Added a little tone to show the lighting on the faces. and roughed in an abstract background (pale blue and a more muddy color for the sky and distant ground level). I used medium in the mix so hopfully it will be dry enough by tomorrow to allow work into the faces.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Time For Another New Painting

My two paintings in progress are almost finished. "The Story Teller" was signed this morning, and given an all over coat of medium. It looks as though it will need another coat Sunday.

My as yet un-named small Art Fund donation painting is still very sticky and will need some minor
touch up before signing off and coating with medium. Just heard this morning it has to go to the gallery Monday. It will be tight, but doable.

So it is time to select the next work.

We went to a wedding in San Diego about a month ago. A long time friend and a widower, married a lovely lady. I took a lot (over a hundred) of photographs at the wedding and am planning to develop a painting of them both. I liked the way the "Muni" two person painting came out and am thinking of another two person head and sholders painting.

So this afternoon I went through all the images and chose several that look good as raw material. There is one pose that looks particularly great, though the man's eyes are shut. So I searched out several other of his face images and will fill in the eyes as appropriate.

I put the basic pose image through Photoshop Elements, and cropped the image to approximately the painting format. And then I made a high contrast, sharpened, black & white image, and reduced it to approximately two inches tall. This I printed out on paper and will use tonight to project an outline onto a 16 x 20 inch blank canvas using my opaque projector.

Hopefully the canvas will be ready to begin painting tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Online Galleries

Having a gallery on my own website is one thing, but there are alternatives such as having my paintings on any of the many online galleries.

A long time ago (2000) I sold several paintings through an early online gallery Rising Artists. They no longer exist, though there is a unrelated website with that name. Soon after these successful sales they went through a low time, and I never heard any more from them.

Also, I have tried as a Preferred (which means paid money) member without any success.

Several bloggers, particularly Empty Easel, have reviewed many online galleries and have published evaluations of what they believe are the leading online galleries of the moment. Of these I have put my paintings up in Imagekind and RedBubble. These both offer digital art prints and cost nothing for me to post my paintings. Though I paid to upgrade my listing with
Imagekind. If they sell a print I get a percentage of the sale price plus part of their framing profit. I have had lots of traffic, but so far no sales.

Empty Easel also provides good reviews of several online galleries that will offer my paintings for sale. One "Boundless Gallery" looks atractive and I have spent part of today uploading several paintings images. It is quite slow due to the size of the images. I will have to see how it goes. They have several levels of listing from free upwards. At this time I have gone for the free listing. I will review in a while when I examin the activity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Website Mysteries

Coming from a technical background and having a lot of inherited stubbornness, a long time ago I decided to build my own website. The current website is the second or even the third generation. That path is a whole story in itself.

I read a lot about good website design, mostly on-line. Hopefully it looks good to you and is easy to navigate.

For some time I have used Adobe GoLive application (
I am now on version 9) to construct and modify the actual website. I not much of a html/source code person, though sometimes I have to delve into the inner workings.

Most days I spend just a little time to adjust some small part of the website in the hope of making it easier to use, to to add a feature, more information, or to add a new painting. This afternoon went by trying to chase down a non-functioning link. Not a very productive effort. Lets hope tomorrow goes better.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Painting

The new painting mentioned in yesterday's posting was dry enough today for me to mount into my scanner. It is of a long time friend Muni and his wife Ronnie. And was derived from some photographs I took at a recent party.

I moved their images closer together to make a stronger composition and slightly changed their clothing. I felt the dark background and rear lighting increased the dramatic effect and showed off their hair and characteristic profiles.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Special Painting Project

I have just coated a finished painting with medium. For me this is almost the last step when completing a painting. When the coating is dry, I will scan it (it a small 10 x 8 inch painting - otherwise I would schedule it for photographing), and staple a printed label with my contact data to the stretcher bars. It is already stamped with my copyright statement, titled, and wired for hanging.

When it is scanned I will show and talk about it on this blog page.

Including this painting (a tiny portrait of a good friend looking at his wife) I have three paintings in progress. This is about typical. The others are a large 40 x 24 inch three-quarter length portrait of a man and another small portrait of a young woman.

The young woman is a bit of a rush job. A few days ago I realized that a painting was due to be submitted towards the end of next week.

For some three years I have promised to donate a painting to an annual October silent auction to help fund a worthy local non-profit, The Art Fund of
Santa Barbara. They ask for a small 10 x 8 inch painting on almost any subject.

Two years ago I did a gouache on paper postcard of a young lady in a swim suit lying on the sand (that year there was a postcard theme - "Wish You Were Here.") Nobody bid on the painting, and I never did find out to where it disappeared.

Last year I submitted a rear view full length portrait of a very young boy standing at the edge of the ocean titled "Thomas." Several people bid and the painting sold for $250.

For this year I wanted the subject to be a young female child or young woman. Plus it had to have some special appeal to draw the bidding. As usual I started to scan my reference images and finally selected on a teenage young woman with a waif like expression. I had captured her during my trip to
Patzcuaro, Mexico early last year.

Hopefully I can continue to bring out this lost sole feeling that I see in the original image. I have been working on it for a couple of days. You will be the judge when I have finished the painting and show it here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

California Art Club

The Summer 2007 issue of the California Art Club Newsletter was delivered by mail today. The newsletter has unusual and interesting articles and I enjoy reading each issue.

It comes to me because I am a Painting/Sculpting Patron Member. This is a category containing most artists members, since the real artist membership is limited to an exclusive 300. Only a handful of new full members are accepted each year to replace those who have fallen by the wayside for some reason.

Each year I have an invitation to submit artwork
(together with a substantial check) to be juried in to full membership. Last year I filled out the form and applied. Later I received a letter saying only three new members were accepted - as might be expected, all were winners of their annual competition shows. This year I let the opportunity go past.

Patron Membership is $65/year, and once again I paid my fee for this year.

Another problem is that nearly all of their events are in the Pasadena (California) area. Pasadena is several miles to the Northeast of Los Angeles and some 125 miles from Santa Barbara.

We have a local branch here in Santa Barbara, but it is limited to periodic paintouts. Why do I remain a member - well the newsletter is a plus. But sometimes I wonder!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Documenting New Paintings

Today I completed the final step in finish up a series of paintings of three of my Grandsons. I am fortunate to have eight grandchildren and hope to complete paintings of all of them over the next few months.

These today are small oil paintings on 10 x 8 inch canvases and were completed last month. But after completion of all my paintings, the next step is to document them by photographing each.

Usually I have them professional photographed. For years I had my paintings recorded as 35 mm color slides. Also, in addition, the very best work I had shot on to 4 x 5 inch color film.

Recently I have them photographed digitally with a 10 mega pixel camera. I use a professional photographer, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot light the canvas as evenly and as well as my professional friend.

Smaller work I scan on my recent acquisition, a professional flat bed scanner. The bed will take a up to 8-1/2 x 14 inch material, both reflective and transparent. With a resolution up to 6,400 dpi, even slides may be scanned in to digital files. The scanner has elaborate calibration procedures allowing both reflective and transparent material to be accurately scanned.

Even with the calibration, I find it necessary to tweak the file for the on screen image to match the original art. Of course also I have to calibrate the screen. To ensure that the color display of the image is correct, I use a Panatone Huey light compensation tool.

The Huey sensor sits beside the computer display and measures the room light falling on the screen. It automatically adjusts the displayed image to compensate for the changing light level in my studio.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Painting Today!

Most days of the week, my routine is to paint in the morning, take a nap after lunch, and then work through the afternoon on promotion, this blog, and my website.

Today was different because
this morning I had to have my pacemaker changed. The battery was becoming exhausted. These are some of the things that come with aging. I am not grumbling. Only a few years ago I might not have made it to be this old.

This afternoon I am going to add some illustrations to my On Painting Portraits article. I am always thinking of a better way of getting over my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jurying Art

As I said a few days ago, yesterday I was scheduled to help jury the artwork submitted by artist applicants who want to join the Santa Barbara Art Association.

Each applicant has to submit five ready-to-hang artworks (there are different requirements for sculptors and jewelry makers - though none applied yesterday). The artwork is stacked one in front of another for each artist, in rows against the wall of a large room. Each artist is identified by only a number.

There are three judges - two from outside of the association, and a Past President (this time me). One judge was the owner of a local gallery. The other an art instructor at a local University campus. All are unknown to the applicants.
I have helped with these affairs many times over the years. But this was the first time that I had been a judge.

Each judge was given a clipboard with horizontal columns identified with the numbers corresponding to the stacks of artwork around the room. Also, we were each assigned three assistants. Two hold up the artwork, and the other makes notes of the reasons that the judge may reject the art.

This step is new, and seems to me to be a good idea. Only a small number of artists are successful, and these notes are helpful in councelling the rejected candidates as to how they might improve their chances if they try again. (It took me five times to get accepted, many years ago.)

The judges operate seperatly. We start at different points around the room. My assistants held up the paintings of each applicant so that I may view them all at the same time. For each candidate, I have to decide yes or no for acceptance. Later the results are tabulated for all three judges. Two or more yeses and the candidate is in. Two or more noes and they are rejected.

The applicants have been able to read guidelines that are available online at the Association's website and as a printed leaflet for pick up at the Association's nearby Gallery 113. The guidelines emphasize the need for consistency in the submitted paintings.

The judges want to see repeatability, not how diversified the applicant's skills maybe. I always tell candidates that their work should like a set - similar framing, matting, and style.

A lack of consistency was the biggest problem. One or two paintings may be similar, and then the rest would be wayout - different framing, different styles, and so on. Other common problems were lack of drawing skills, sloppy framing, lack of hanging means, sometimes the work was not even mounted.

When the judge's decisions were compared it was surprising how much we agreed. Three noes or three yeses were common. Thirty-five applied and eleven were accepted. This is a low number of applicants. There were eighty-five submissions one time when I was President. The one third accepted is about usual, or even high.

An interesting afternoon. The rejected candiadates may try again in six months. The next time will be in March 2008.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paintings As Gifts And Donations

We went to a Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary Party yesterday evening. As we and our friends get older, such affairs are becoming more frequent.

We gave the happy couple one of my older framed watercolors. They had admired it when seeing it hanging in our house (my private gallery).

It is a small plein air painting of a local urban scene - shoppers walking along a sidewalk mall passed a vendor's kiosk and some Mediterranean style buildings (this is pretty common view in the Santa Barbara area). I painted it as a demonstration at an outdoor exhibit over five years ago.

The painting has been shown at many local exhibits and has hung in my gallery for several years. I have been very happy with that scene. One of my better urban scenes of that period. But no one had fallen in love with it enough to buy it.

Over the years I have had mixed feelings about giving away my paintings. As they have accumulated and storage has grown to be a serious problem, I have given away or donated more and more paintings. My feelings today are that it is better that someone else may enjoy a painting than it should sit in my storage rack where nobody sees it!

And who knows, someone may see it and ask about me enough to look me up on my website or at a future show. They might even buy something for themselves!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

New Website Article - On Pricing Art

I have just posted a new article to my website. It is about how I price my paintings.

The pricing of a painting is an emotional step for both the artist and the prospective collector (buyer). By declaring my approach, I hope to make my buyers more comfortable.

This only one of several articles to be found on my website:

On Buying Art

On Decorating With Art

On Collecting Art

On Commissioning A Portrait

On Painting Portraits

On Painting Crowd Scenes

My Color Palette

On Painting With Gouache

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Thursdays In Santa Barbara.

Yesterday was the first Thursday in September.

In downtown Santa Barbara each first Thursday evening of the month is a celebration of art and culture. That evening, participating galleries stay open from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. offering the public free access to art in a fun social environment. In addition, the main drag, State Street, comes alive with performances and interactive exhibits.

My wife and I, when ever possible. tour the area on this special Thursday by joining the crowds along State Street. Yesterday we parked behind the Art Museum and visited some six galleries, as well as several street events. There were about 30 events available to explore. But our hunger for dinner caused to limit our time.

Much of the fun is visiting with friends and acquaintances who are also out joining in the fun. After the recent hot weather, the evening was cool and brought out the sweaters and scarves for the women.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Santa Barbara's Gallery 113

Yesterday I spent most of the day sitting at our local collaborative gallery - Gallery 113. If you have a piece of art on show, you are supposed to sit for the equivalent of one day (11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

The Gallery is affiliated with the Santa Barbara Art Association, a 55 year old, 600 member organization where new members are juried twice a year. (Next week , as a Past President, I am assisting with the jurying of the latest batch of new member applicants. It is quite hard to become a member - I tried 5 times before I made it!)

If you are a member you are allowed to submit pieces once a month.
The monthly gallery ingathering is unjuried. Essentially you are renting a piece of wall (for $12/month for each piece of artwork for the group part of the show).

There is a group show area, and seven various sized featured artist areas. The featured artist areas are offered on a sign up basis and cost more. But you have the freedom to arrange your solo show in your area pretty much as you wish.

The Gallery has been active for some 35+ years and is situated in a high tourist traffic area, right in the center of downtown Santa Barbara.

As a retired huckster, I enjoy sitting there and talking with the visitors. At this time of year there are a lot of tourists, and plenty of traffic.

I take along my computer and between the visitors, update my website and read a collection of downloaded articles that I accumulate on on a flash memory stick that I plug into the computer. Unfortunately there are no open WiFi connections. so I cannot browse the Internet.

Yesterday was pretty busy, but I managed to do quite a few thing. After I uploaded this morning, this blog is now linked from my website.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Open Studio Tour

Have just finished a three day Open Studio over the Labor Day Weekend. It was part of the Santa Barbara Studio Artists 6th Annual Open Studio Tour. Some 44 artists participated. The publicity was just great.

Unfortunately the weekend was the warmest of any time this year in Santa Barbara, with temperatures even close to the beach, near to 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday. Monday it was in the high eighty's.

For me the turnout was disappointing. I think the heat had a lot to do with it.

Each of the first two days we had about about ten visitors. Though Monday was much better with about 30 visitors.

Did not sell anything, but there were several interested people.

On other earliar tours, I have had the same sales experience, but following with people coming back and resulting in sales over the next week or so.

Most visitors on the tour days are in a hurry as they want to get around as many studios as possible on each day.