Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Still alive

In some twist of fate, the weekend for the fine arts festival broke all heat records for this area. A week before, we'd been turning on the heat to take the chill off the house in the morning and we're back to doing that again. But two days before the festival, the winds switched from the prevailing westerly direction to the east, bringing all the heat of central California to our normally temperate area. We set up the booth in near 100 degree heat; the next two days were slightly cooler, but still hot. I had the good luck to get assigned to a partly shady spot at the edge of a cluster of booths and we were able to bring some market umbrellas to add extra shade. There was a steady breeze most of the time, making it seem more like a vacation than work. The show organizers did a fabulous job. Everything ran smoothly, lunch was provided both days, and there were booth sitters to give the artists a break if they wanted one.

I snapped this photo just before opening time the first day. The crowds were lighter than usual this year and people were clearly mindful of the state of the economy, but I had sales nevertheless and a lot of interest in seeing more of my work. Both the show and my gallery are in the same town, so many of the visitors had already seen my gallery show. It was a nice chance to meet some of my patrons.

Meanwhile, the gallery show is in its last week. One of the joys of being in a cooperative gallery
is the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of staging a show, including designing a window display. It's a chance to be playful, and especially for this show of vintage toys and silly saltshakers. I scanned the vintage tablecloth from my main show piece of saltshakers – "Heirlooms" – and scattered a couple of dozen rubber duckies on the windowsill, surrounding some of my small paintings. It's been a total kid magnet if the small handprints and noseprints at the bottom of the window are any proof.

The small paintings are from the "Cute as a Bug" series. My plan is to begin posting these paintings for auction in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Swan song??

Ta-da!! So here's my big surprise, finished just in the nick of time. I put in my first all-nighter since college to get this little fellow done for my show and I'm here to report that I recovered a lot more quickly at 20 than I do now!! This is a snapshot taken under less than perfect lighting conditions, but it came out pretty close to the real thing.

Fe Fi Faux Fowl
30" x 30"
acrylic on canvas
The idea for this painting grew out of the show of small works that we hung last fall. I was one of the people who pushed for that show, so when I chose "Out of the Ordinary" as the theme for my feature show, the logical creative step was to "supersize" the little toys I'd painted in the fall.

I love the concept of taking a very small toy and blowing it up to such a large size, but the technical challenges of painting this in acrylic made for many frustrating moments and a lot of very long painting days. I know that working in oils would have made this a much simpler task, but I have a long history of chemical sensitivity that has made me wary of oil paints. As it turns out, I may have to back away from acrylics too. By the time I finished this piece, I was feeling weird and woozly at the end of every day. At first I thought it was just because of the long hours in the studio, but a few days after I finished it, I opened the sealed palette-keepers that I stored my paints in and the odor of the acrylic just about knocked me over. So, in addition to loving watercolor as a medium, it may truly be the only one I can tolerate. But I'm hoping that if I back off acrylics for a while and only work on small pieces when I start using it again, it may be OK. Acrylic has so many unique properties that I really want to be able to play with it some more. I feel like I've barely begun to discover what it can do.

Now I have to get ready for next weekend's outdoor show. There's a whole bunch of framing to do, prints to make and mat, and assorted other tasks. I've recently redesigned my publicity materials and have to update my booth signage to match. It should be a busy week.