Sunday, November 29, 2009

Studio Tour is underway!

I hope those of you in the Ottawa area will be able to get out today to visit the homes on the Red Trillium Studio Tour. The quality of the work is truly outstanding.

We would love to welcome you here at studio stop number five - not only will you be able to see my work and my studio but you will also get to view the work of my two fabulous guest artists!

Here are some pictures of my studio as it looks as a gallery...

Here is the work of Kathryn Looby, a talented copper artist. Kathryn's work has a Celtic flavour, created by hand, in the traditional technique of repousse.

Displaying her work along side Kathryn in my living room is the passionate work of Cristina Del Sol. Cristina is an experimental visual artist creating mainly abstract and non-objective work.

Do check out Kathryn and Cristina's websites and for further tour information, please visit the tour website. Yesterday we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day and lots of visitors and I am sure today will be more of the same.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Saturday and I look forward to meeting those of you who can make it out today!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

garden therapy

Ever have a time when your mind seems to be completely preoccupied with ideas for new projects? This past week has been like that for me. I started off last Monday suddenly passionate about creating a Christmas card illustration. I proceeded to turn my studio upside down as I hunted up all sorts of Christmasy stuff that I keep for such times of inspiration. By the afternoon I had some draft sketches but no more enthusiasm. Humph...

The next day, I was off to the races chasing after the art card idea. As you already know, I then spent time on-line and in my vehicle checking out printing companies both near and far. I had to be out of town on Wednesday (selling my Dad's old car) and Thursday found me again at a printing company. As I was already downtown, I decided to revisit the National Gallery. (If you missed my last trip there with all of my touristy photos, click here.) After staring at some fabulous art for a couple of hours, my mind was now racing with new ideas for possible subjects, colour combinations, etc.

Suddenly it was Friday and it seemed like I hadn't had a productive week. I settled myself at the drafting table and worked on the peas. And oops if I didn't forget all about teaching the next day! I found myself losing track of time, dashing out of the studio at 5:00, hoping to get in a walk with the dog before pitch dark, with thoughts of what to cook for supper drifting through and then it hit me...I had to teach in the morning...I looked back at the mess my studio was in - Christmas stuff and art card stuff all over the place - I had material to print off - uh oh...

Monday and a fresh new week arrived and with it some fabulous, ridiculously warm weather. I decided it was time for garden therapy.

Time also to root out the invasive mallow is a blossom that managed to survive the snow storm. Looks innocent enough.

One of my flower garden beds has become overrun by this aggressive self seeder. Other flowers have been shoved aside and my colour palette has been reduced to a sea of pink cotton candy. I had thought this digging out job would have to wait until spring but this mild weather and my busy brain became the perfect combination for the job.

I ended up spending hours digging, talking nasty to the plant and chortling with glee as I yanked out the long roots. Very therapeutic!

Here was one of my challenges - twisting myself into a pretzel so that I could dig out some plants under a lilac bush.

Ah, the fruits of my labour.

There were also moments of art inspiration (I find inspiration everywhere which doesn't help with the overactive mind situation). I hope you can see the beautiful plum colour gradations in this decaying rhubarb leaf.

Several hours of good honest physical labour, digging in the aromatic earth and reveling in the peace and quiet of the great outdoors was just the interruption my busy mind needed. Tuesday morning found me calmly sitting down with my business journal to rationally plan the months ahead. Whew...then it was back to the drafting table...thank goodness for garden therapy!

Oh and for those of you with left over pumpkins and a yard where deer might visit, try putting your pumpkins out for them to munch on. They seem to really enjoy eating them and they will even dig out frozen pumpkin from the snow.

Friday, November 6, 2009

please be part of my focus group...

Note cards by artist Suzette MacSkimming

Earlier this week, in preparation for my upcoming studio tour, I decided to explore the notion of getting note cards printed. It has been a while since I have offered note cards for sale but I remember well the angst of printing them myself. I recall spending oodles of cash on printer ink, then there was lots of time spent sourcing great paper stock at great prices (or not so great prices), spending forever on the computer to get things formatted properly (so the images wouldn't print crookedly and then they did anyway), sitting by the printer doing production control...well, on and on the trauma this time I started looking at outsourcing the job!

So far it would seem that the companies are coming in quite close in terms of cost. There are some major differences though. One well known on-line printing company (Vista Print) can only give me a 4" x 5.5" size (I want larger). The crop is goofy - for example borders may occur on top and bottom - it depends on your painting format. There is no option for text to appear such as my name, name of the work pictured and my website address. Yet they do offer full colour printing which gives my images the best chance of being identical to the original.

A printing firm locally is a bit more expensive but I would get a larger card, 5" x 7", which is what I want. The cards would be professionally set up so there would be proper borders. They also allow text and as I can pick them up, I save shipping fees. Ah, but the printing might not be as close to the original as I would like.

So now for the focus group bit...what would you pay for a quality art card?
Please keep in mind that the aim here is not to offer reproductions that would be matted and framed. For this I would be offering a much larger size and a totally professional printing job - from the scans to archival inks. These are simply note cards - a colour image on good paper stock, folded, blank inside, with a bit of text with my name etc. on the back.

The picture at the top of this post shows note cards that I purchased from artist Suzette MacSkimming last year. They are 5" x 7" and the printed image is approximately 4" x 5". There is identifying text on the back and envelopes were included. I paid $2.00 each. (I tried using the company she used but they no longer print note cards. Bummer.)

Given the quotes I have received so far, if I did a large print run of 500 cards (10 different images with 50 cards each), the cost comes out to about $1.25 to $1.30 per card. So if I charge $2.00, I will be able to recoup my costs. Obviously this isn't a money making project, note cards never are. I would be simply doing this in order to offer a larger product line and to allow people who might not be able to purchase an original to take home a favourite image. In some cases the originals are not for sale anyway.

My wonderful readers/focus group, do you think $2.00 is the right price?
Someone commented to me this week that people will pay $4.00 or $5.00 for a Hall Mark type card and they thought $2.00 was too low. Humm... I look forward to your response! Oh and thanks in advance. I appreciate the input. :-)

Woo-hoo, it snowed yesterday!!!! Yup, I love the white stuff - skiing, snowshoeing, beautiful vistas, no mosquitoes, no poison ivy, no yard work, the ability to follow wildlife tracks...I could go on and on but instead here are some pictures I took this morning.

Time to put this birdbath away and to get out the heated one...

Deer visited my flower garden this morning (the picture shows their tracks).

I no sooner filled the feeders and the birds were swarming around me...

Zooming in on a chickadee...what a cutie.

It is to really warm up this weekend so my winter wonderland will melt. Ah, but this brief treat will do me until the real winter hits some weeks from now. I am off to walk the pooch before supper. More time in the snowy woods...yum...