I’m interrupting my series on the 2015 WildArt Mongolia Expedition to share some special news!
First up, my painting “Morning Drink” of a takhi/Przewalski’s horse mare that I saw at Hustai National Park in Mongolia has been accepted for the Salmagundi Art Club’s Fall Auction! This will be the first appearance of my Mongolia paintings in The Big Apple and I, of course, hope it won’t be the last. You don’t have to be at the auction to bid. More information here.
Next, an excellent writer, Bob Bahr, has posted two articles about me and my travels to Mongolia from phone interviews we did a couple of weeks ago. One, which emphasizes the land, is now on the Outdoor Painters blog. It’s called “Further Afield: Painting Mongolia”. The second is about the wildlife, particularly argali sheep, and is on the News page of the Susan K. Blackman Foundation website. “SKB” as it is affectionately called, holds a terrific art workshop/conference every year in Dubois, Wyoming. I went in the early years, but hadn’t been able to attend again until last year. The warm welcome I got and the support and interest during the years in between have been very gratifying and greatly appreciated. The SKC article is called “Susan Fox and the “Last Great Undiscovered Art Destination”, which is what I told Bob I believe Mongolia to be.
Lastly, there’s still time to register and attend Plein Air at the Lost Coast from September 30 to October 4 in Shelter Cove, California. I’m one of the Featured Artists this year! I’ll be giving a presentation about working on location in Mongolia, with some stories about my adventures over the last ten years in the Land of Blue Skies, and doing a demo.
The main reason for my road trip to Wyoming at the beginning of last month was to attend the Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop for the first time in too many years. My travels to Mongolia have often gone into September and the workshop is always the second week so that it will be right after the Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival. But this year I was home by the end of July.
In every good way, nothing had really changed and the welcome I got was touchingly warm. What sets this workshop apart is that there are always a number of instructors and one can bounce around between them as one wishes. You can learn from painters in oil, acrylic and watercolor. Plus, this year, sculptors. Even better, anyone who has been an instructor is permanently invited to come back every year and many do, so it’s equal parts workshop, a reunion of artist friends and colleagues and a gathering of the animal art and landscape clans. All in an informal environment with great food and terrific scenery at the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center in Dubois, Wyoming, which is about 90 minutes from Jackson.
There’s always a Special Guest Instructor and this year it was none other than James Gurney of Dinotopia fame. He also presides over one of the most popular art blogs in the internet, Gurney Journey, and has written what has become a standard book on the subject “Color and Light”. His endlessly inventive ways to work on location have been a real inspiration for me personally. So I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to watch him in action.
There were plenty of opportunities to work on location, including a couple of local ranches.
One of the best parts of the workshop is the good times with artist friends and colleagues, often in the evening at the local saloon, the Rustic Pine Tavern.
Besides working out on location, attendees could also do studio painting.
One of the highlights of the week is the “Quick Draw”, which is actually a “Pretty Quick Paint”. It’s a great chance to watch a lot of very accomplished artists in action at once, creating auction and raffle-worthy work in front of a large crowd, including fellow artists.
The final evening was an entertainment-packed extravaganza, starting with two suspiciously familiar faces who introduced themselves as Sir Charles Willoughby, who somehow had to keep order (good luck with that), and Chip Chippington (all the sleazy game show hosts you’ve ever seen rolled into one hilarious package).
The fun started with a quiz to identify which instructor various species of dinosaurs were named after…
And I’m sorry to say that by this time I was laughing too much to get any pics of the rest of the show.
The night was capped by open mic performances, including one by the awesome kitchen staff.
There was a point during the early part of the evening when a slide show was shown of various attendees and instructors sporting a really impressive variety of hats. Getting into the spirit after the lights came up, James Gurney popped one of his Dept. of Art traffic cones (used to create space around where he is working on location in urban areas) on his head…
I’m back home now from my two week trip to Wyoming, where I spent three great days in Yellowstone National Park, a day and a half in Jackson Hole and five days at the Susan K. Black Foundation Workshop (SKB).
I painted and sketched along the way and at the workshop, trying out a variety of combinations of paper and water media. Here’s an album of some of my pieces, all done on location:
Since I don’t really paint North American wildlife anymore, I found it liberating to not worry about getting “the shot”, although I ended up with lots of great photos, but instead to focus on sketching the live bison.
The third day I was in Yellowstone it snowed in the morning. I drove out to the Lamar Valley and set up my watercolors on the passenger seat of our VW Eurovan camper, then just looked out the windows to do these three studies.
There’s a huge mountainous cliff on the east side of the park that is known as a place to spot mountain goats. And, sure enough, I spotted this nanny and kid with my binoculars. I got out my spotting scope (a Leica Televid) and managed these two quick pen sketches before she and the youngster got up and moved off out of sight. Then it was back to bison.
One of the locations at the SKB workshop was a ranch that has been in the same family for over 100 years. Hope to be able to go there again next year.
Next week I’ll share photos and stories from the workshop.
1. Ya gotta have a plan. A marketing plan. The process of creating one will tell you who your potential buyers are and how to reach them. It will also help you sort through all the options, opportunities and possibilities to figure out what makes the most sense for what you do and where you live.
ACTION: Check out Art Biz Coach. Buy the book, take one of the classes, subscribe to her mailings. She knows what she’s talking about.
2. Time to stop whining about how you don’t want to spend time at the computer. Unless you have a Marketing Manager, it’s a hat you have to wear. And the ring you must toss it into is the internet. The good news is that doing so is, in fact, more a matter of time than money.
These days, at the very least, you must have (and use and update as needed):
– A website because you can’t be a professional artist without one and it makes your work globally available 24/7/365
– A Facebook “fan” page because there are over 800 million members who are potential fans
– A LinkedIn account because professional connections count. A lot.
– A newsletter using a service like Constant Contact, which will also be a place to maintain your mailing list. You don’t have a mailing list? See Action item no. !.
Also to put into the mix: a blog (I use WordPress. Lots of artists also use Blogger), Twitter, Google+
ACTION: Come join fellow artist, Becky Joy, and I over at our new Facebook Page “Artist Marketing Tips That Really Work!”. We both use social media for our main marketing activities and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or find someone who can.
3. Believe in yourself. It’s a privilege to be an artist. It’s an amazing feeling of validation when someone buys your work. But you have to keep going- improving and learning no matter what. You need to be able to continue to grow as an artist and nurture your talent. And YOU CAN DO IT!
ACTION: Take a workshop or a class, try a new media, work on something you’ve been stuck on (I’m going to be working on painting water). I’ve been to the Susan K. Black Foundation annual workshop a number of times and can’t recommend it too highly.
Finally, a lot of people think that artists are magical creatures, kind of like unicorns, and what we do is the result of a gift we’re born with. There’s some truth in that, but working artists know that being the best artist you can be is WORK. The best work in the world.