Monthly Archives: November 2011

Working Artist Studios – we need more of these in America

My studio and Gallery, ArtLofts, just got a great write up by Mark Shaffer of the Low Country Weekly: ArtLofts – Through the Purple Door


Please take a few minutes to read it.  It will give you a good insight into who we are and what I’m doing there.

Perhaps you’ll look around for such a space in your town.  If it’s there, please support the artists and the concept.  If it’s not, then how about getting a working artist studio going in a decent retail area, where you can walk around safely and happily – Like we do in Beaufort SC.

I am hopeful that more towns and cities will incorporate the working artist studio and gallery concept into their long-term plans.  We are in such need of personal and artistic rejuvenation in our country.

Thanksgiving is a perfect time for me to say how grateful I am for this opportunity.  I promise to make good use of it!



What’s the Real Cost of Belonging?

$735 a year
24 workdays spent sitting in 3 galleries.

Here’s the breakdown on my costs to belong to 3 non-profit city art association galleries:

▪    $385 for three memberships and display fees
▪    24 workdays – the combination of 12 full days at one gallery, plus 6 at each of the others – it’s the workdays and finding a better way that I talk about in this blog.
▪   Receive 60% to 65% on sales
▪    $350 for gasoline for 7 tanks of gas for 64 round-trips to galleries to sit or pick-up and deliver art

I’ve been assessing art league memberships and their value to me. It’s time to renew.  Three towns around me have active art leagues. Some months they sell a good amount of art.  Most months they don’t.  They are staffed by volunteers who don’t know how to sell or even know how to talk about your art. One association does provide sales training, and it’s good.  But you can’t train someone in a couple of hours how to intuitively know which visitors are customers and which aren’t.

Here’s how it works:  For a half-day or one full day of sitting in the gallery, plus payment of dues and a display fee, an artist can hang their piece or pieces once per month or per show. To take advantage of the area’s art association gallery walls, an artist should belong to all three organizations.  This adds up to a hefty amount of money and time as stated above. Oh, and if you sell anything, the gallery takes 30 to 40% of the sale.

So, why am I writing about this?

First, because I’m grateful that there are outlets like this for us to display and occasionally sell our art. (Yes, my art sells). And second, because I think artists are being taken advantage of by being asked to sit in addition to paying dues, hanging fees and commissions, plus delivering their art in a 2-hour window of time once each month, and picking up during same.

Some artists actually like sitting because it’s the only time they are forced to meet with the public.  This is an opportunity to talk up your art.  But, the problem with that is not everyone cares about your art.  They might like someone else’s art.  So, it’s a crap shoot that you’ll actually meet anyone who likes, let alone wants to buy, your specific painting, sculpture or print.

So, what wonderful things could happen if the organizations actually hired an experienced gallery salesperson to work even a few hours a day, subbing for those volunteers?  Uh, more sales, for one.  More time given back to artists to create more and better work, reduced expenses and on and on.  Although it is claimed that the association’s budget won’t allow it, funds would be found if someone put a priority on it.  One of our leagues actually has a professional manager who could be out amongst the visitors talking about the art.  She knows more about it than anyone else. But she stays cloistered in her office while the volunteers struggle to make eye contact, or over-talk everything.  Another organization hired a fund-raiser Executive Director.  Would all those funds be needed if someone was selling more of the gallery’s art each day?  Maybe, maybe not.

An advantage of membership is that if you don’t want restrictive contracts, non-profit art associations give artists (and their work) opportunities to be seen. Most professionally-owned galleries force you into contracts with a million geographic prohibitions in them, which in our area is a bit silly.  Each of our towns is SO different and attracts their own demographic.

I’m back to the big question:  What is the real cost of belonging?  24 workdays, $735 and receipt of 60% of the sale (assuming there is one).

And the second big question:  Is it worth it?

It’s worth it if:
1.  You want people to see your art but are not invested in whether they buy it or not.  If you belong for long enough, you will eventually sell something.  It’s in the numbers.
2.  You want to win competitions to bulk up your resume.
3.  You want to spend 6 to 12 days a year in each gallery appreciating mostly fine art and sharing your love of it with others.
4.  You like to socialize and enjoy events with other artists.
5.  You want to be in juried shows – again, to validated your artistic goodness
6.  You like to volunteer – a LOT!

Getting that gorgeousness or that contemporary statement or those great designs into homes, offices and public buildings should be our real goal.  This benefits both artists and society.

Can’t we find a better way for artists to SELL their art? I’m just sayin’…..

Happy Thanksgiving!

See my work at ArtLofts in Beaufort where I paint, play, enjoy my loft-mates, sing, dance, teach and sell my work.





Make a Statement with Collage

"Stupid Self-Destruction" - 10" x 8" - Collage on Paper

This collage started out as a statement about Non-Dairy Creamer. You know the powdered stuff loaded with unpronounceable ingredients plus a bunch of artificial flavors? Well, except for MILK!

Yup, right there on the back is that glaring statement that your “non-dairy” creamer contains milk. Not sure how the “truth in advertising labeling” exempts the dairy business, but there you have it. This bothered me enough to want to paint about it. As if in putting it on paper, I would be revealing some great secret, or perhaps save a life. Dramatic, I know.

I’ve often stayed in hotels where this non-dairy-contains-milk creamer was offered. But when I recently tried to locate these packets in restaurants and hotels I found they’ve been replaced by a liquid version in an even less biodegradable cup. Finally I found some photos posted on the internet by outraged consumers. But to find an original, which I thought was important, I had to rely on an artist friend. Thank you, Pam!

You can see what happened once I started layering on the different Non-Dairy Creamer package labels, along with some pink papers to insinuate artificial sweetener (couldn’t help myself, sorry). Pretty quickly it became a huge dump heap of things we don’t need: trash, in other words. If you squint or stand back from it, you’ll see the faint possibility of a nuclear mushroom cloud.  Hence the title “Stupid Self-Destruction”!

I just love it when a piece works on so many levels.

Anything niggling at you?

Come to my class at ArtLofts on December 6th and 7th, and make your own statements using easy and interesting collage techniques.

Click here to register:  – I will call or email you with details and payment arrangements.