Saturday, July 25, 2009

Artist Turned Carpenter

Well, that's probably a stretch. But for the first time in my career, I built a crate for shipping a painting. In fact, I built two crates. These two crates will be used to ship my painting and drawing to the NMWA in Jackson, WY for the Western Visions Show & Sale.

Typically, I use Strongbox Art Shippers to send my paintings, but this year the museum was very adamant that participating artists ship their work in crates. I'm not one to argue, so what the museum wants, the museum gets.

Since this was my first time building art crates, I did a wee bit of research and made sure to enlist my dad for not only his extensive reservoir of tools, but also his help in constructing the crates.

Note to self: Make sure to build crates before the middle of summer. It was 114° F the day we built the crates in my dad's garage — with no air conditioning.

Although building the crates certainly took some time (about two hours), it cost less than purchasing the two Strongboxes I would have needed; about $20 less. Here's a list of the supplies I picked up at my local Home Depot and Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts:

2 8ft lengths of 1x4" pine boards
1 4x8' sheet of 1/8" luan mahogany (door skin)
1 box of 1 1/4" gold screws
2 cabinet handles
2 24x60x1" foam sheets (these I purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics)

The finished art crates measure 23x20x3 1/2" interior dimensions. This allowed for about 2" of foam all the way around the framed painting and drawing.

After cutting all of the boards and luan panels to the sizes I needed, it was just a simple matter of assembling them. We (my dad and I) started by joining two 1x4" boards (a 24 1/2" length and a 20" length) by putting two screws in the corner joint. We repeated this until the entire frame was assembled. We then cut triangles out of the scrap laun panel to place in each corner of the crate for added durability and strength and then screwed all of the triangles and a 24 1/2 x 21 1/2" luan panel to one side of the wood frame. Finally, we added a cabinet handle to the top of each crate.

I then cut 6 pieces of 23x20x1" foam sheets — 3 for each crate. I laid a single foam sheet into each crate then cut a hole in the two middle sheets to match the exact exterior dimensions of the frame for both the painting and the drawing. I then laid these pieces of foam into each crate and placed the painting and drawing into their respective crates directly into the hole cut in the center of the foam. The final sheets of foam went on top and then I placed the final laun panels and corner triangles on the crates and screwed them down.

Once I'd completely assembled the crates with the painting and drawing inside, I stenciled my last name and the words "fragile" and "up" with an arrow to the crates. I placed Duct Tape over the corner pieces on each crate to help keep them from catching on things during shipping.

Here's a photo of one of the final crates.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Drawing For Western Visions

For this year's Western Visions Show & Sale at the National Museum of Wildlife Art—in addition to the painting I'm sending—I am also submitting a drawing. The museum has added a 'Sketches' component to the show and has invited all of the participating artists to submit a drawing or sketch if they wish. So, here's mine.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Art of Commissions

I have very strict rules when doing a commission — which is why I accept so few of them. An innocent commission can easily deteriorate into the artist being used as a tool for the buyer to create the painting they want. That isn't fine art, at least not in the business sense. That's illustration — being paid to create art that illustrates a buyer's concept. I don't do that and it's important to me that any potential buyer understand my perspective before they engage in commissioning a painting from me.

My rules are simple, the buyer has a say in subject matter and size. That's all. I determine everything else. I'm sometimes flexible on time frames (when a painting might be completed) but for the most part, I work on a particular painting when I have a strong concept for one, and that may take time.

This brings me to a situation regarding a painting I recently completed. It illustrates the best in artist/patron relationships...

A collector of mine contacted me and inquired about whether I had any pieces she might be interested in as she was looking to add a painting to her collection. She did have a set of parameters for the painting that, unfortunately, none of my available work met.

I mentioned to her that I did have an idea for a painting I thought she might be interested in (based on our conversation) and said I could start it immediately if she wished. As a collector, and a well-seasoned art lover, she understood that if the buyer is allowed to dictate too much to the artist as to what they want, often the painting produced suffers from it. She felt, as I do, that the best work is produced when the artist can do as he or she sees fit. With her feelings on the matter communicated, she encouraged me to start the piece right away.

She bought the painting. In fact, she purchased it after seeing it only partially complete.

Technically, I suppose this isn't actually a commission. But, the process with this particular collector was just how I like my commissioned work to go; with no particular expectations from either the buyer or myself other than to produce the best work I can.

Here’s the painting titled, "High and Mighty".

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Did A Little Drawing

I decided to take a break from painting and just "veg-out" on a small drawing. Shifting gears and working on a drawing is one way I like to relax and break from painting.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Rejection: Update

Coincidentally, I just today received another rejection letter from a show I applied for. See, happens all the time.


An artist friend of mine was recently rejected from a show he'd participated in for the last couple of years. I think he was actually a bit down about it (as any of us would be) and felt as though his not being invited back was somewhat of a setback in his career. I don't feel that way — at least, most of the time I've been rejected.

I can't tell you how many times I've been rejected from participating in art shows, art competitions, etc. The list is long and painful. In fact, the show of which my friend was just "uninvited" from is a show I have been rejected by 3 times. I still have yet to be invited (though that hasn't stopped me from trying, again, and again, and again, and you see a pattern here?)

Rejection is an often difficult, horse-sized pill to swallow, especially when it comes to us by way of our creative endeavors — something many of us are emotionally invested in. But in the scope of one's career, as an artist, rejection can be made a positive. It can often refocus our efforts and allow us to step back from our work and view it from a more objective point-of-view. If you can accept rejection as a motivator to improve your work and not as a step back in your career, you’ll likely get where it is you want to be faster and with fewer bumps. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Keep painting. Be persistent. And try to not let rejection dampen your enjoyment of what it is you do.