In two days I will likely attend my last art festival for the season, unless my wait listed status for the 4th Street Art Fair in Bloomington Indiana changes, which I doubt, as it’s the 4th year in a row I’ve been wait listed.
Actually Lincoln may be my last festival in the Midwest. This festival has been good to me over the three years I have attended. I’ve enjoyed decent sales, a great booth location and most surprising two wonderful awards I was given by the jury. The first; a Best of Show, and the second a First Place in Fine Art. Last but not least was Marty Ahrends who organized the show the first two years I attended and was a wonderful host.
Looking back at my July blog post, I was in much the same place as I am now, a few days out from the next art festival hoping for good weather and crowds. Sugar Creek ended up being great. The crowds were wonderful as was the weather. Topping it off was a First Place Award in Fine Art.
2013 Sugar Creek Award Winners
So after five years of banging away at watercolor paintings I think I’ve established myself locally with a solid body of work, a handful of notable awards and some great opportunities to teach others my craft. Now there is a strong possibility I will be packing my bags and moving to Oregon. Getting roots down somewhere else won’t be as difficult, but I will be leaving behind some friends and a community of artist and patrons whom I’ve enjoyed working with and painting for.
Tonight the tent gets packed and we drive to Lincoln to setup. The weather forecast looks good, my booth spot is the same as last years and I’ve knocked my prices down a bit on my originals. I have not moved one in a long time so we will see if I’ve adjusted correctly. If you’re reading this, it may be your last chance to walk away with an original
I don’t often take the time I should to just do nothing. Life these days always seems busy and I feel that I lose touch with the things that I enjoy a lot. Obviously painting is one, but I often find myself longing for the outdoors and nature. Right now I’m sitting out back on my patio… it’s dark out, and there’s a refreshing cool wind blowing from the north. Considering it is still 83F out at 10:00 PM, the breeze is nice. There is a choir of crickets and every other nocturnal bug singing in unison as if under the sway of some conductors baton. Stars twinkle overhead between passing clouds and the world around me prepares for sleep. Some soft music is playing while my faithful companion, Sam lounges just out of arms reach watching over me and the yard while I tend to this blog. Topping this off is a fresh glass of red merlot. One could argue it doesn’t get much better than that, and frankly I can’t see much in the way of disagreeing. I can only ask myself, why aren’t you out here more than once or twice a month? The answer is time.
Just as much as I would like to sit out after a long day and soak up the evening I don’t. Our family is very busy. Our house in a total disarray due to some remodeling, and Jenny and I are blessed with three active kids. It seems like the choir list and running never stops. Perhaps I will miss these days, when the nest is empty and I have only time on my hands. I miss my art too, much akin to the feeling of being constantly late for something. I’ve not been in my studio doing any new watercolor painting for almost two months.
The last piece I completed: “Made in China” a 22″ x 32″ watercolor, was the last and largest of a triptych of still life paintings which have done rather well for me. The first painting: “Firestorm” won the Juror’s choice award at the McLean County Art Center’s first watercolor exhibition back in July. This painting, along with the sister piece; “Facet“, sold rather quickly. The last of the trio will go to the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival tomorrow.
Made in China
Art festivals four weekends in a row don’t give you much time for anything, especially with a full time day job. My short festival circuit has felt like a crap shoot. So far only one show has been profitable and worth the time, expense and effort of setting up and operating in the summer heat for two days. The rest have been break even endeavors, plagued by bad weather, poor attendance and little to no sales. It really digs at an artists’ self esteem and makes one feel like they are just walking in circles.
Walking in Circles
For me there has been no way to predict sales, set any type of goals or have any expectations. Doing so only results in disappointment. Working at McDonald’s has more stability than trying to sell art in this economy, and even at minimum wage, is more profitable. This begs the question whether festivals are even worth the time and effort. What is the alternative? Galleries? Ebay? Book Covers? If you have any ideas do tell. I’ve often thought about doing book covers, but how do you get a foot in that door? I’ve always thought about showing in galleries, and have had some recent offers. One comes from a downtown San Francisco establishment called the The Galiara and the other; The Pod, The latter is just down the street from my art studio. And on that note I’ll see you all on the next post, where I will be discussing my short experiences with The Pod and my hopes for a presence at the Galiara on the west coast.
Just a little note here, I don’t have time to elaborate like I would prefer, but rest assured I am still here and kicking. I’ve been meaning to write… really I have. There has been a lot of good things happening for me but I have been awfully busy.
I will be showing every weekend this month (August) at three fine art festivals around central Illinois. Tomorrow I’ll be at the Washington Fine Art Festival: http://www.washingtonfinearts.org/ The weekend after on the 20th I will be showing at the Champaign Downtown Festival of the Arts: http://www.champaignparkdistrict.com/events/dtfoa/index.html The weekend after I’ll be returning to Lincoln Illinois for the Fine Art and Balloon Festival on the 27th and 28th: http://www.lincolnillinois.com/ABF.aspx
Company is always welcome, so if you’re itching to see some good art I encourage you to make a day trip to one of these shows.
Filed under Uncategorized
I must say I’ve been as neglectful of my blog as those few people who have stopped in to read it. My dashboard is showing 1-2 visits and I know who one of them is, she is my faithful regular, checking in to see how things are.
I ended my first art festival season run on a great note. I only participated in four festivals this year and each one got better. I sold two originals in two shows, and to my surprise I took home a Best of Show award from the Lincoln Art & Balloon Festival two weekends ago. It was such a humbling experience to receive such an award. I was sitting next to my daughter at the ‘artist reception’ dinner listening to the directors hand out awards for best new artist, third, second and first place. I figured if I had any shot it was the Best New Artist award, but when that announcement came and went, I was really only thinking about getting home from a long day. The Best of Show artist was announced last and when I heard my name, I felt stunned for a moment, then an overwhelming sense of gratitude filled me from head to toe as I stood up to accept something I thought I would never see in 100 shows. It means a lot to me knowing that I was recognized, not by my family or friends, but by fellow artists and strangers who saw something in my work that was worthy. Surely this must be a sign of good things to come.
I’ll never forget that moment, I’m sure such things are few and far between even for the best of the best.
Since the Lincoln show I’ve not felt a pressing need to do much of anything but relax and just do ‘nothing’. I need to clean the studio up some, and get my paperwork, receipts and notes organized and filed away. I still have not touched the book painting I was so eager to finish a month ago. I expect to get back into the grove soon. Right now, I have a cold gin and tonic to sip on and some other art related tasks to knock out before I go to bed, so I’m heading out for the night. More in a day or so.