I love using spackling to add texture to some of my paintings but, since I tend to work on stretched canvas, using it by itself would mean it could crumble off the flexible substrate. In order to combat that problem, I like to mix it with heavy gel media. Gel media by itself tends to leave very soft ridges so the spackling ensures that I get sharper ridges. I like the pink spackling as it turns white once it's dry. It's fun to use an inexpensive house painting brush to get neat texture, or a spatula or palette knife. I also like to carve into it while it's still wet...it's great to write into as well. A third option which I absolutely love is to use a palette knife to spreada thin layer through a stencil. Once dry, I do give it a bit of a sanding with an inexpensive sanding block, give it a good wipe then paint it with a layer of gesso just to make sure it's ready to go once I'm ready to paint.
The struggle is real...
I've (finally!) completed three portraits in the 'Extraordinary Women' series and am struggling with whether or not to add writing (quotes from these women) or not. Initially I used a fine point paint pen on the portrait of Measha Brueggergosman, then a medium for Alice Munro and nothing for Catherine O'Hara. I've painted over the the writing on the center portrait using a transparent colour so the words are still slightly visible...for now. That may change again if I decide to block off all the writing. I'm really struggling as I keep thinking about the 'Nasty Women' series and 'The Grandmothers' where I didn't add any writing at all, but then, with the 'Heroes' series which was also on this shape of canvas (14x7 inches) I initially began without the quotes, but then added them as the series grew, which I ended up loving. Maybe I haven't found the right writing tool yet. Or maybe this series will include a quote in the title. I'm not sure yet. I guess we'll see where this pondering leads.
Extraordinary Women::Catherine O'Hara
Insecurity is such a waste of time.
"Much had changed in the comedy business in the 30 years since she began her career at SCTV , when she and Andrea Martin, another cast member, took part in the writing process. "A guy at the Toronto paper had written an article about why women weren't funny," O'Hara recalled in an interview with the New York Post in 2006. "Some of the guys in the cast pinned it up on the wall. Then every time Andrea Martin or I would give an idea, they'd point to the article and be like, 'Um, excuse me.' So it makes me very happy to hear that a younger generation is interested in funny women. And I won't take advantage of them.""
~ Encyclopedia of World Biography
I've always felt strongly about being a little gentler on the environment so I have leaned towards using as much recycled material as possible when I ship artwork. I re-use plastic, bubble wrap and boxes as much as I can. Earlier in my career I was told that it was important to package professionally, but I felt too bad to use all new materials, especially since I had access to recyclable items. My pieces are still well packed, just maybe not as pretty as some and, so far (after 20+ years) I haven't had any issues. I just make sure edges and corners are well covered and that the cardboard is well marked 'FRAGILE' so that heavy objects are not placed on top of them. It's worked so far, and I definitely feel better about my choices. Plus, this way I don't have to increase shipping costs to cover those unnecessary expenses. It's a win-win for everyone.
While I'm painting my mind is usually whirring with previous conversations. Last week I was part of a panel with LevellingUp and we discussed the challenges of pricing artwork, especially when starting out. I've been doing this for over 20 years and I still question the pricing. Fortunately I've been given a lot of assistance by galleries, though they have often pushed the fees a little higher than I feel comfortable with as my goal has always been to make sure that original art is accessible, plus I'm quite prolific in my work so I love to see it move into new homes. Pricing is difficult because there are so many things to take into consideration such as technical skills, difficulty & time required to create a piece, tools & materials used, local market, demand and more.
The biggest thing I've learned about everything in the art world is that everything requires a lot of research. When I began, there was no real internet or personal computers so research meant visiting galleries and community art sales. The things I learned that were important were to look at the materials other artists were using and, since I'm an acrylic artist, at the time acrylic paintings were placed in a lower market than oils though that is changing. I paint on stretched canvas with a bit of a preference for gallery depth (1.5 to 2 inches) and paint around the edges so the work doesn't need the work framed, though some patrons of my work do have them framed after purchase. When viewing other artists' work, I had to keep in mind they're training and experience while trying to find something similar to mine. Many of my previous galleries only took 30-40% commission though now galleries take up to 60% so those costs along with my time and material costs have always had to be taken into consideration. My husband is an accountant so he helped me to create a spreadsheet where I could change numbers to check on the final income, just to make sure the final price made some kind of sense.
One of the other things we discussed last week were commissioned paintings...many people charge more for them and ask for a 50% deposit though I don't as I tend to lean towards commissions where I'm given more leeway to create what I'm compelled to create plus I want everyone who owns a piece of my work to have it because they absolutely love it. If things don't work out (which is rare), I often list any with a gallery or use it as a donation.
A third topic that came up was pricing the same type of work in different environments (ie. selling through a different gallery, through an art show or from your studio). The three of us agreed that the prices should be the same everywhere for the galleries and for the collectors sakes.
Finally, sales were also discussed. I don't hold them often, but on occasion I do offer pieces that are part of a new body of work for me at a lower price until I have increased my skill set. I also occasionally offer sales on older works in order to support a good cause, such as our local Food Bank as I think it is extremely important to give back as an artist.
In the past year I have had to let go of working large due to issues with adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) that has plagued me for several years. This may mean that the prices of my small to midsize paintings may need to be reconsidered as that is where my focus will now lie. My work is priced per square inch and I do try to keep smalls (ie. 4x4 or 6x6 inches) at a lower price point as I had received wonderful advice years ago that many collectors will purchase something small at an accessible price and then, over time, may purchase larger works as their budgets increase. I have definitely found that to be true as many of the people who have purchased my work through the years have collected a number of pieces. I feel very privileged and grateful for that.
How to Price Artwork
All artists are welcome to join us as we discuss how to price artwork. I remember how challenging this aspect was as an Emerging Artist and wished I had access to this kind of information at the time. There will be three Levelling Up Masters available to answer questions on March 18 at 5pm PST/6pm MST. To register please contact www.levellingup.ca.
I'm thrilled to have another painting as part of a group exhibit through Vancouver's Federation Gallery. Painters are partnering with the Vancouver Branch of the Sogetsu School of Japanese flower arranging. Artists from both disciplines celebrate the rejuvenating power of springtime, as we express gratitude and manifest optimism for the future. Ikebana began when Buddhist monks made flower offerings to their temples. Today, visitors can reflect on the ancient history of zen flower arranging while contemplating the arrival of better days. “Spring is starting to grace us with her presence," explains Gallery Coordinator Helen Duckworth. "Bloom will leave visitors feeling restored and rejuvenated.”This one is a 6x8 inch framed piece titled 'Lilium'. The exhibition is titled BLOOM and can be viewed online here.
I'm so happy to share that my painted hearts are now available at Homegrown House + Pantry Inc in Airdrie (also available online). It is a wonderful shop that features gorgeous & delicious artisan made items. Homegrown was born out of a love for local food and a desire to make it easily accessible in Airdrie. From there, they found a collection of trailblazers – Albertan’s who were willing to take a risk in a product they believed in. They’ve found all the essential items for pantry, bathroom, and closet – all made in Alberta. You’ll also find handmade décor that will make your home one of a kind. They also have the best cards (my blank cards featuring the 'Simple Pleasures' interior paintings are also available).
Extraordinary Women::Alice Munro
That's something that I think is growing on me as I get older:
When Sheila Munro was growing up, she and her younger sister Jenny would sit on the living-room floor and watch television while their mother, Canadian author Alice Munro, sat in a chair behind them reading a book. She was with them, but she wasn't with them. It was a feeling the girls would have throughout their childhood. While their father was detached in his own way, he did embrace his role in the family. He expressed great pride and interest in things like choosing and decorating the house they lived in and playing with his children when he got home from work. Their mother never seemed to care about such things. Sure, she did the laundry, waited on her kids when they were sick, and cooked dinner just like other moms did. But it was always clear that what she really wanted to be doing was writing at the little desk in the corner of her bedroom.
"She was like the young mother in [the well-known Alice Munro story] Miles City Montana, who sees herself as a detached observer," Sheila Munro writes, before quoting the passage in that story where she thinks her mother could just as well have been describing herself.
"In my house, I seemed to be often looking for a place to hide…so that I could get busy at my real work, which was a sort of wooing of distant parts of myself. I lived in a state of siege, always losing just what I wanted to hold on to. But on trips there was no difficulty. I could be talking to Andrew, talking to the children and looking at whatever they wanted me to look at…and all the time these bits and pieces would be flying together inside me. The essential composition would be achieved. This made me hopeful and lighthearted. It was being a watcher that did it. A watcher, not a keeper."
~ Meleah Maynard, 'Lives of Mothers and Daughters'
Amazing Airdrie Women Awards
On this International Women's Day, I am honoured & thrilled to be a nominee for the Airdrie Amazing Women Awards. One of the kindest women I know nominated me for the Vitreous Amazing Cultural Ambassador Award which is hosted annually by AirdrieLife magazine and I got to see two other wonderful women for the photo shoot, the photographer Kristy Reimer of Reimer Photography and editor/publisher of the magazine, Sherry Shaw-Froggatt. I've been so disconnected from the people I like and admire (haven't we all?) that it was a special treat. If you would like to support me in this endeavour, please vote online here. There were some lovely things they shared about me which I want to remember:
Veronica Funk takes her art seriously. In fact, she believes that the arts saved her. With a family history of clinical depression, addictions and suicide, she has found solace in the act of creativity.
An artist since she was a child, Funk went on to study Arts and Design at Red Deer College.
“I really don’t remember a time that I haven’t been drawn to the arts,” she says.
She adds that a community without art is deprived of life and vibrancy.
“Throughout the many years I have lived in Airdrie, my focus as an artist has always been to collaborate. Whether it has been to share my skills and experience in the schools or assisting in the arts in the broader community,” she says.
Michelle Wagner nominated Funk for the Amazing Cultural Ambassador Award, saying the artist has been a key contributor in developing Airdrie’s culture landscape.
“Her dedication and passion for bringing arts and culture to our community is easily demonstrated through her workshops, public art, publications as well her volunteer and paid work with organizations such as Creative Airdrie, ARTember, the Airdrie Public Library and Bert Church Theatre,” Wagner adds.