Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wyoming Two Track

16x20 oil on canvas
It's been awhile. You may have wondered where I've been or what I've been up to. It's a bit of a long story, but I'll keep it short.

I've been working on another endeavor. It began in August. Have you ever wondered what on earth you were going to make for supper? That question hung over my head for years! I would work at home all day only to step into the kitchen about 4:30 and remember we had to eat and it was my job to figure it all out. Everyone I know faces this. So I decided to do something about it.

I launched a meal planning service called one-1-five. Let me explain. One-1-five stands for one short list, one quick trip, five stress free dinners. In a nutshell it's a service you subscribe to by visiting the website and signing up. Or you can download a one week sample for free.

The idea is to be able to make stress free dinners because it's all planned out for you. A subscriber gets a weekly email newsletter containing descriptions and photos of the meals and a link to a downloadable set of recipes and the short shopping list (24 items) to make them. No hard to find ingredients (I shop at Walmart), no fake food in a box (it's fresh), no stressing about what to have for dinner anymore. I call it "The answer to 'What's for dinner?'.

And the reason Wyoming Two Track is the first thing I've painted since August? I've spent that time developing enough recipes and menus that a subscriber won't be repeating a meal for 3 months, unless they like some of them so much they have to make them again. And then I'm always adding new recipes as I find them.

So, now when I do paint - like last week when I painted the above commission - and I walk into the kitchen and remember my husband will be home soon and supper needs to get started . . . I just get out my one-1-five recipes! In 30 minutes supper is on the table. Stress free. And yummy!

The mission? To restore joy to the dinner table one stress free meal at a time.

How bout you? Do you struggle with this very practical aspect of life as an artist or otherwise?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Sunny Autumn, 9x12, oil

I'll be teaching a workshop tomorrow - and just in time it sounds like. Looking at the weather forecast, it appears we could be getting some snow this week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Unique Opportunity - The Paisley Porch Gallery

Are you, or have you ever been, involved in a co-op gallery? I've heard good and not so good stories about co-ops. I've been involved in two. One is defunct and the other, The Paisley Porch Gallery, is in it's 7th year.

 The Paisley Porch Gallery is decidedly different in many ways, but reapeatbale, if you can find the right combination of people and place.

The Paisley Porch Gallery is tucked away in the historic Hotel Higgins, also home of the Paisley Shawl Restaurant
Housed in the historic Hotel Higgins (circa 1900's), home of the Paisley Shawl Restaurant (a 4 star eatery) and the Highlander Pub, in the small town of Glenrock, Wyoming, you'll find The Paisley Porch Gallery. There's centuries old charm everywhere and the establishment is run by a community minded couple who embraced the idea of an art gallery. We, the artists, converted a small glassed in porch at the front of the hotel into our gallery.

It's small, but cozy.

You can see a bit of the porch window on the left.
There are 5-7 artists showing work in the gallery and restaurant. We rarely have meetings, being somewhat independent. A mutual respect for each other and a spirit of small town co-operation prevails. The patrons are a mix of local folks and tourists, and sometimes workers who stay for a few months at a time, working on nearby wind farms or the power plant.

The owners, Mike and Judy Colling, handle all the sales for us and don't take a commission, by their own insistence. We're certainly willing to pay, they just aren't willing to take. (We try to find other ways to show our appreciation). Annual Christmas shows and sales have taken place most of the years since the gallery's inception, with a percentage being donated to a local charity.

Artwork hangs in the foyer.

More artwork hanging in the dining room.
The Paisley Porch Gallery has been a great venue for all concerned, adding interest and local culture to the town and hotel. During the seven years of the gallery's existence the amount of sales for the artists has always surprised me. Who would have thought a little co-op gallery tucked away in a tiny town would do so well?  Perhaps you're living in a small town where you could house a similar local co-op gallery.

By the way, the hotel is for sale. If you've ever dreamed of running such an establishment in a quiet little town, you might check it out.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autumn Road, 9x12, oil on canvas

Autumn Road
I just got back from a trip to NH to visit my brothers. It was a great trip. The leaves were just barely beginning to turn there, which reminded me of our leaves that mostly turn yellow. But what a wonderful yellow - or gold, I guess. It won't be long now till we're seeing this color everywhere. I can hardly wait!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Color Charts - Really?

Study of Greens
 I can't wait to do some color charts with this new palette. I've painted a few paintings with it now but I haven't sat down and explored the possibilities. I want to see what kind of blues - particularly toward cerulean and what kind of purples - toward periwinkle (is that a technical artist term?)

The very idea of color charts used to elicit immediate yawns and mind wanderings from me. But I've discovered that color charts are a good means of exploring combinations of paint I don't naturally tend to. So far I've found that grey and lemon make a wonderful green, and grey and red make some sort of purpley red. But there are oh so many more possibilities!

I used to disdain color charts. I thought they were a flat waste of time, until an instructor "made" me do them, barring me from my go-to mixes for green and purple. That would be Ultramarine Blue with Cad Yellow Pale and then Ultramarine Blue with Alizarin Crimson. Much to my surprise, and delight, many richer colors were discovered by avoiding these 2 mixes.

Purples and greys made with my old palette - and no mix of Ultramarine Blue and Alizarin Crimson
Greens - about 144 - without using the mix of Ultramarine Blue and Cad Yellow Pale!

As you can see from the photos of my old color charts, I'm not real fussy and I found a lot of colors I wouldn't have otherwise. I have pulled these out a time or two to find a different mix to add some variety to a painting. I'll post pics of the new color charts when I get them done. It will be interesting to compare them. 

How about you? Have you done some color charts?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Old Sheds

Old Sheds
There's nothing like some old buildings to get my attention. Why is it that old things are so much more interesting in this way than brand new ones?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Cool Water, 6x8, oil

It's been such a long, hot, dry summer around here, that the Game and Fish department has asked ranchers to continue filling their stock tanks and other waterholes for the wildlife. This little bit of cool water is a welcome sight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Bad Painting Habits

Do you have bad painting habits? I have many, but I'm beginning to delete them one at a time. I thought I'd just sit down and make a list of them because there's something about fessing up and seeing things in black and white that makes them more tangible. I'm hoping it will help me get rid of them. So, here they are.

  • not cleaning my brush often enough as I work - almost overcome
  • taking paint from the middle of the pile instead of at the end - getting better
  • not putting out enough paint - getting better
  • not replacing a pile that's used up - being LAZY remember that sluggard post? - still bad
  • haphazard arrangement of paint on my palette - OVERCOMER!
  • not wearing gloves
  • wanting to change a finished painting, from the season it was painted in, because we are in a new season - hard to resist
  • overworking a painting - don't we all?
  • mindless painting - almost overcome
  • not taking time to do notans - still disciplining myself to do this

This is my current list. As you can see, I'm at different places with different bad habits. The good news is, I have developed some good ones along the way. As the list shows, I've learned to organize my palette the same way every time. I don't have to hunt for a color and I have plenty of mixing space.

I've also learned to have my equipment ready the night before if I'm going out to paint in the morning. I don't know how many times I've arrived to begin setting up only to find I've forgotten something. Most often it's trash bags, paper towels or new solvent. Replenishing supplies at least the night before is a good idea. It would be even better to replenish them right after I get home.

I think my very worst habit is not taking the 10 seconds to replenish a depleted pile of tube paint. Ugh! I am getting better at this one, but sometimes my laziness is ridiculous. It leads to so much trouble in the painting. I end up trying to get by with what I have on my palette and it begins to look dirty on the painting and on and on. Sometimes I've ended up ruining a perfectly good painting by this bad habit.

Early on in my painting, I thought it was crazy to think of cleaning my brush so often - like wiping it after each stroke. How could a person manage that? But, I've found that it's become an unconscious habit. I wasn't even aware I was doing it until another artist watching me commented on it. I was secretly happy to know I was being so careful.

Evening Pines
 I guess my hardest-to-overcome bad habit is the overworking of a painting. How many of us struggle with this one? I think - maybe - the one-stroke-one-color, take-a-look-from-a-few-feet-away to plan your next stroke - might be my only salvation from this fate. Theoretically if I learn to practice that method, I at least won't mindlessly continue on past the point of peak impact.

Speaking of mindlessly going on, mindless painting is one of the things I've almost overcome. It's that thing I do when I'm carried away by something else besides the original intent for the painting. It happens a lot if I'm within earshot of other artists who are painting and talking or just talking. I've learned its best to paint quietly or alone. Maybe that's why my color theory teacher wouldn't allow talking or any music with lyrics to be played in class.

Putting a painting out of sight for awhile is a good way for me to resist changing the season. My worst is wanting to make a spring painting into a summer painting. Doesn't work.

And wearing gloves is an issue of a different kind, but important to me.  I've discovered it's important to take whatever measures I need to in order to make it easier to keep painting.

What bad habits do you share with me? What are your unique bad habits you're overcoming?


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three 5x7 Cute Cows, oil on canvas

Three more commissions finished. (Sorry for the bad photos).  These three paintings were done for my neighbors up the road. It was a lot of fun since I love to paint cows! Now all they have to do is decide where to hang them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

What I learned on Ebay

I sold more than 200 paintings on eBay over the course of 18 months. It was thrilling. It was agonizing. It was exhilarating and it was exhausting.

 I followed to a tee all the advice I read in an article by Jack White (Making It on eBay) in the December 2009 issue of Professional Artist Magazine. It was good advice in every way.

I took a break from eBay last June (2011) and haven't returned, although that isn't an impossibility. I learned a few things about eBay and about myself as a person and an artist. I thought I'd share some of those things with you. The negatives first.

  1. I'm not as thick skinned as I'd like to be
  2. I don't like to, or want to, paint every day
  3. I need to set boundaries for social media just like I do for face to face relationships 
  4. I tend to let tasks become taskmasters
The Positives
My drawing board where I put paintings to dry
  1. Don't take myself too seriously
  2. I can paint a lot
  3. There are tons of people buying art
  4. I love my galleries!
  5. I still like to at least feel like a free spirit when it comes to painting
  6. How to organize my record keeping in a simple way
  7. How to establish a good work flow
  8. How to make and keep a schedule
  9. How to organize my studio
  10. How to stop buying art supplies I don't need
  11. Gained confidence in my ability to tackle new things
My desk at it's organized best
My framing/shipping center
 As you can see, a lot of what I learned from my experience on eBay wasn't in Jack White's article, but grew out of necessity and the overall experience of producing and selling so much work. Pushing myself yielded rewards far beyond the actual sales made.

I may go back to eBay sometime in the future. It has it's allure. If I do, I'll be even better prepared by my own experience, as well as Jack White's valuable information.

How about you? Have you considered eBay? Or other online selling venues? What have you learned about yourself through tackling new ventures?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Commissions Welcomed!

Evening Watch 8x12 oil on canvas

The Homestead  10x20, oil on canvas

Morning Welcome 10x12, oil on canvas
These are three commissioned paintings I recently finished for some friends I met years ago at the Douglas Invitational Art Show in Douglas, Wyoming. Every year they would mention having me do a painting of their house on the river. They had designed and built the house themselves and when they contacted me early in the summer I was excited to do the painting. As the commission evolved it turned into 3 smaller paintings instead of one large. Before I had them finished it was learned this family would be moving to a new town, so it was even more sentimental than it would have been otherwise.

I delivered the finished and framed paintings to them a couple of weeks ago and was blessed to see their response. I hope the paintings are helping them make the transition to their new home a bit easier.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Going Grey, Looking Great

I have a book titled Going Gray, Looking Great by Diana Lewis Jewell. It's been very helpful for leaving the world of colored hair behind. And though that may seem unrelated to painting, it's not. I've also "gone grey" with some of my equipment and I like it! (I like my hair too).

The instruction for this is from one of my Virtual Art Academy lessons on plein air equipment.

I tossed my old white glass palette in favor of a grey one, added a grey color isolator to my equipment, and attached a value scale to the glass and the panel holder of my box. I'll show you how I did it.

For the Value Scale:
I used a Glidden grey paint chip from Hardware Hank and cut it in half lengthwise so I had two narrow strips of value scale. I used clear shipping tape to attach each half to their respective places. I was careful to make sure the one on the glass was in the same position -light to dark - as the one on the box.

My value scale from a paint chip and my new grey glass palette

For the Palette:
I got a piece of single strength glass cut to fit my box. I used a medium grey spray paint to coat the glass, after I had taped the value scale to it. When the glass was dry I dropped it into my box and it was ready to go.

For the Color Isolator:
I used the same spray paint to coat both sides of an old credit card. (A friend suggested coating the card with gesso first to really cover the numbers. I didn't do this, but you might want to try it. I'm not sure if the gesso would stick). I used a paper punch, which took some time, to put three holes in the card, evenly spaced. This is for isolating color and judging value when out in the field. It is my favorite new tool!

I've found this going grey to be one of the most helpful and simple changes I've made to my painting routine. It's been much easier to judge the values and colors as I'm working. I haven't spent much time actually consciously comparing things, but because my panels are coated a medium value (from the leftover paint scrapings) and my palette is the same value as the color isolator I don't have to mentally try to make adjustments for the different values, as I did in the past. And when I do want to make a conscious comparison I whip out my color isolator and line up my holes to see the actual local color and the color I have in my painting.

A comparison made easy. I usually don't hold the isolator right on the painting, but this worked for a photo.
Let me know if you decide to try this and how it works for you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Something to Cool a Hot Summer

Muddy Creek                    Ginny Butcher
This painting is already sold, but I thought it would be nice to look at when the temps are 90's+.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Leftovers Again? What to do with Palette Scrapings

When it comes to food, I love leftovers. It's probably because I'm the cook around here. But when it comes to paint leftovers, it used to bother me terribly to throw all that good muddy paint away. Eventually, when it was too sticky to do anything with, I'd end up throwing it away anyway. How many times have you scraped your palette of mixed paint and thrown it away? Or left it in a great pile and wished you could put it to good use? Well, now you can.

Two mud mixtures from palette scrapings

Some people put it in tubes. You can buy the tubes through art supply catalogs. But it always looks like a lot of work to me - and would I actually use those tubes of mud? My solution to the leftovers is to use it to coat or tone panels or stretched canvas.

Usually I use it on gessoed panels because I really don't like the extreme absorbency of the gesso. It just sucks the paint off my brush faster than I can reload. But if I coat them with these leftover mud colors it leaves a nice oil skin to work on. It gives me a choice of interesting ground colors which I can choose according to my mood or setting. Whether I'm outdoors or in the studio, the paint goes on smoothly and the color does interesting things for the painting.

Some panels with different mud mixes on them

To coat my surfaces, I simply thin the mud with a bit of gamsol and spread it on evenly or haphazardly using my largest brush which happens to be a #10 bristle. If I'm coating a larger canvas or panel - 16x20 and up - I use a house painting brush. I let them dry for a week or two before using them. I keep them in stacks according to size and just grab one or more when I'm gathering my equipment for outdoor painting.

A few more - varying sizes and colors

Now you know what I do with my leftovers. What ideas or practices do you have for your leftover paint?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blaze of Glory, 6x12, oil on canvas

Blaze of Glory                    Ginny Butcher
This is a painting I did last fall. I'm hankering after cooler temperatures and this was a nice reminder. The painting was originally larger; closer to 9x12. I decided to crop it. The result is a more intimate view. This is headed to Deselms Fine Art Gallery in Cheyenne this week.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What's it Like to be a Gallery Owner?

Harvey Deselms is the owner of Deslems Fine Art Gallery in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I've been represented by Harvey for a number of years and decided to interview him about being a gallery owner. He was kind enough to indulge me as we chatted over burgers in the gallery kitchen. I hope you learn as much as I did as you read the interview.

Harvey, how long have you owned the gallery?

I just celebrated my 20th anniversary this year.

Congratulations! How did you decide to open a gallery?

I had a degree in archeology and anthropology and was working at the Old West Museum in Cheyenne. I found I was more interested in fund raising events and the art at the museum than the curator was. As I dabbled in some art classes at the community college, I found there were a lot of people with more talent than I. With that knowledge and some business classes it seemed a natural drift into the gallery business. It was a good way to be involved in art and help those with the talent.

Harvey, you do a lot of promotion of the artwork, artists and the gallery. Can you tell us what sort of things you do?

Sure. I keep an online presence through facebook pages and posts, and a website with the artwork, which is going to be updated soon. I do a lot of print advertising and post cards as well as TV a couple times a year. We have A.D.D. here in Cheyenne which stands for Art, Design and Dine, every second Thursday of the month. That always features an artist or designer from the area and involves various restaurants. In the past we've hosted BYOB, bring your own brush, on Thursdays, during which time artists demoed their work. The gallery does a lot of community sponsorship of non art related events also.

Some of the work at Deselms Fine Art Gallery

Can you tell us why artists should seek gallery representation?

So they can have more time to create! If they have to do all the promoting also, their big creative ideas get eaten up with that process of promoting.

Most artists I know aren't comfortable selling their own work.

Yes, sometimes it does take some finesse.

As a gallery owner, what qualities do you look for in an artist?

Reliability - I like to see that an artist is able to furnish the gallery with enough pieces to replace them as they sell. I like to see their work is well done, as well as priced in an affordable range for the market here. I have limited wall space and the work must be priced high enough to meet the artists' needs, but low enough to sell here.    

What advice do you have for artists who are looking for gallery representation?

Check out the gallery first to see if your work will be a good fit, both style wise and price wise. Then make an appointment to show the gallery your work. My pet peeve is when an artist shows up with an armload of paintings and wants me to devote my undivided attention to them and its the first time they've stepped foot in the gallery.

That seems fair. We all have schedules to keep. 

You do a lot of work for us. What can we, as artists, do to help you sell our work?

Be organized! Any organization, such as consignment sheets like you have is a huge help. And if possible, participate in any art events the gallery sponsors. Also, links on your website, facebook page, and things like that are all helpful, as well as word of mouth.

You also do custom framing here. In view of that, is there any thing you like to see as far as framing goes from your artists?

Consistency is nice, but different artists have different ways. Presentable and consistent is good.

One last question. Have you ever had an artist ask you to price their work?

Yes, and I steer clear of that. If I make it too low and it sells too quickly the artist thinks it should have been higher. If I price it too high and it doesn't sell in a timely manner then the artist isn't happy with that. I let artists price their own work. Occasionally I'll give advice to someone who asks and is just starting out - like a high school student.

So there you have it. Interviewing Harvey was a very enjoyable, as well as educational time. We became better friends and I was most surprised by the answer to the question about how I could help him sell my work. Who knew being organized would help my gallery so much?

Harvey and Dot
Thank you, Harvey, for your time and a glimpse into your life as a gallery owner. I'm more determined than ever to do all I can to help my galleries be successful. How about you?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lazy Days of Summer, 11x14, oil on linen

Lazy Days of Summer              Ginny Butcher
Being serenaded by chirping crickets, and trickling water are some of the reasons I love plein air painting. And who can resist cool mountain air stirred with warm sunshine? Intoxicating in every way!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kathleen Dunphy's palette

Every time I paint outside I feel a little panic. Not because of bugs or wind or even snakes. It's the changing light and color that always get to me.

I recently read a couple of blog posts by Kathleen Dunphy about her color palette. I decided to give it a try and I've used it 3 times now with great satisfaction! I thought maybe it was beginner's luck, so I used it again on a commission I was working on in the studio also. Great again. And yesterday I used it at the lake, painting red rocks which I love, but always have found to be a frustration. My previous post about painting at Alcova is about the process.

Color has definitely been my area of struggle since taking up oils. When I worked in pastel I had a limited palette because I had a limited number of pastels I was willing to haul around. They're heavy! Since moving to oils, I've had more trouble because I have so many choices of colors I can mix. People who see my work may not thinks so, but I know so. That's why I'm thrilled with this palette.

So, what is this palette? It's a limited palette, using only 6 tubes of paint. The brands are important so if you decide to try this, make sure you get the right brands. They are Rembrandt Cold Grey, Rembrandt Naples Yellow Deep, Rembrandt Permanent Red, Utrecht Cadmium Yellow Lemon and any brand of Ultramarine Blue and a White. 

If you're wondering about the piles of color on the right, those are leftovers from the last time I painted, all mixed together to make some nice greys.

I followed Kathleen's order of premixing my colors at the location before beginning to paint. 

I found the process of getting the color and value I wanted much easier than any other palette I've used in the past. I also found I got a wonderful variety of greens much closer to our muted landscape colors here in the west. For instance mixing some cold grey with lemon yellow makes a great green. Then you can warm it up with a little red or cool it off with a bit of ultramarine. Pretty simple. Red is warm, blue is cool. I like that.
Middle mixture is Cold Grey and Utrecht Lemon Yellow, cooled with Ultramarine Blue on the left, warmed with Permanent Red on the right.
Middle mixture is Cold Grey and Permanent Red, cooled with white and more grey on left and cooled with Ultramarine Blue on the right, warmed with a touch of Utrecht Lemon Yellow below.

You can see how easy it is to get some variety and harmony.
Grant's Sheds 9x12, oil              Ginny Butcher

Because of the limited palette I couldn't get myself into trouble with too many choices. I found it easy to get a strong sense of place through good color.
This is the Cold Grey mixed with the Naples Yellow Deep in the middle, a bit more yellow above and a bit of Permanent Red below.
And some purer color mixtures, Naples Yellow Deep with Ultramarine Blue and the same yellow with the Permanent Red.

I hope you'll try this palette yourself if color has been an issue for you as it has for me. And let me know how it's worked for you. I'd love to know.

Happy painting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Whites, 9x12, oil

Summer Whites, 9x12, oil                            Ginny Butcher
This one is finally finished. It's been hanging around the studio for awhile, being scrutinized every now and then, when my attention lights on it. I noticed a couple of things and changed them. One was the sky. It was a big blue mass. A nice blue, but kind of boring. The clouds seem to fit right in and gave me the idea for the name. I'm satisfied that I got the feel of a hot, sunny, summer day with this one. As you know, I love old buildings, especially white ones. It was really a lot of fun getting this right.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is There a Lion in Your Street?

Two Buds, 8x10, oil                 Ginny Butcher

While the two calves above don't look very threatening, there has been a predator lurking around the edges of my life . . .

And it's a lion! "A lion!" ,you say. Well not exactly, but . . .

Reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible I came across this scripture the other day. "The sluggard says, 'There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!'" (Proverbs 22:13)

As I pondered this (because it seemed so absurd to me at first) I began to realize the sluggard has an excuse, no matter how outlandish, for not doing what he or she ought to be doing, which is something productive.

Now, I don't like to think of myself as a sluggard. After all, I do quite a bit of work, but I had to stop and think about this. Especially because I've also been reading Alyson Stanfield's book,  I'd Rather Be In The Studio, after it was recommended by Keith Bond, as deserving to be read and heeded. Between the two (Proverbs and Alyson's book) I'm getting the message loud and clear - no excuses! no whining!

I had to admit that I've used every excuse Alyson titles her chapters with, for not doing more self-promotion. Ouch! As Nike's over used motto goes, just do it.

Just get ready. Just paint. Just make a contact list. Just write a blog post. Just write an artist's statement. Just update my website. Just call that person. Just show up! Get that lion out of your way! Put yourself in the right place with the right attitude and do the work. One task at a time.

Before you know it, you won't be saying "there's a lion in the street!", you'll be encouraging others to chase away their own lions and get on with whatever they're making excuses for not doing. So . . . get out there and chase your own lions away.
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