The Party’s Over (for this year, at least)

What a great two days I’ve had here at the OPA event. Everyone made this first-timer feel very welcome. I met so many artists who not only do great work, but are terrific people too.

One of the nicest things about the morning demos, besides seeing “how it’s done” was that we, the artists, mostly had the whole gallery to ourselves. It was so packed last night that it was hard to really appreciate a lot of the work. This morning we could all wander around to our heart’s content inspecting paintings, talking shop and watching the other artists work.

This afternoon I attended` back-to-back sessions presented by Alyson Stanfield who runs She’s written a book called “I’d Rather Be In the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion”. The morning session was “Getting Comfortable Promoting Your Art” and the afternoon was “How to Use Email, Websites and Blogs to Amplify Your Online Presence.” I’ll review the book after I read it (it only seems fair), but I can safely say that her presentations were packed with useful information.

For any other artists reading this blog who want to make a living making art, let’s face it, we’ve got to deal with the marketing part. Alyson takes the intimidation factor out of it and makes a very convincing case that not only should we being doing proper self-promotion, but that we absolutely can do it effectively and still get in our easel time.

Tomorrow I’ll get to spend time with the Mongolian scientist I met on the Earthwatch project I did there. We have kept in touch, but haven’t seen each other since then. I’m hoping to learn more about conservation work in Mongolia and how my art can support that, along with just getting to learn more about a country that I’ve come to like very much.

Great time in Missoula

Getting here got interesting, but the event has been terrific. Got caught on the ground in Denver yesterday when a May Day “blizzard” went right over the airport. Everything was closed down for about an hour and then I got to take pictures out the window of the plane being de-iced.

The OPA event is headquartered at the Holiday Inn Parkside. Great place! Big comfortable room, pleasant efficient staff. There was a small barking, whining dog in the room next door this morning and within a half hour of it starting, they had staff going around the restaurant trying to find the owners.

Yesterday’s activities included a talk by Peter Trippi on one of my all-time favorite artists, John William Waterhouse. I first saw his “Lady of Shalott” at the Tate Gallery in 1987. Then I got a personal critique of my work from William Schneider, OPAM, which was very positive. I’ll be taking a shot at getting into the national show next year. Finally, there was an information-packed presentation on ways that painters can use Photoshop. I’ll be blogging about that as I try what I learned for myself.

Then it was time to walk over to the Dana Gallery for the big opening of the Oil Painters of
America’s national show. Two hundred of the best contemporary paintings that I have ever seen in one place. Very inspiring and a little daunting. The weather was warm and beautiful and the gallery was packed. About a dozen red dots too. Very encouraging since the economy has essentially ground to a halt.

Time to go back to the Dana Gallery for morning demos, then marketing info this afternoon.