Color is a huge driver for my work - I find it hard to motivate if I am not feeling inspired by the color palette, which happens sometimes with client work and is a total drag. I wanted to give you guys a little insight into how I build a color palette for different paintings and illustrations.
I generally approach a work with a base color and contrast color in mind. A lot of my color choices are inspired by textures or patterns, and how I can get these to contrast with my main color selection. I don’t normally work with set color palettes, but I do try to reference the Split Complementary and Triadic Color points, then keep whatever additional colors I choose within the value range of the complement colors. I use the Pantone and Coolors Apps to reference and get inspiration when I need it.
Below I have included a couple color combos and mood boards I am really feeling for this spring. The winter felt as though it would never, ever, end. This has left me craving sunshine and has definitely pulled me towards bright pops of colors, and warm neutrals - I also can't seem to get enough of French Blue right now.
I am loving the contrast between the soft, dirty pale pinks, the sky blues, and the pops of fresh green just scream spring to me right now.
Although mustard is typically associated with Fall color palettes, I love the graphic effect it has in contrast with great lines, and softer more pastel neutrals.
This palette borders on the edge of summer - but the touches of the pastel citrus help keep it feeling like fresh spring to me.
Pattern and the newness of spring inspired this collection of bright colors that scream new beginnings.
March is nearly gone, and we're drowning here in New England under all the precipitation. I won't complain too much, as we have been in a drought for over a year, so we'll take it, but I could certainly do without all the mud as my dogs love to frolicking in anything messy.
I am working on including some more time-lapse videos for you guys- I get a lot of questions about my painting process, and videos are the best way to represent my painting pace and style. I am feeling a little tapped out on the bugs, so I have been updating the Little Fishes collection on the website, and adding some watercolor studies for you guys.
Below is a start to finish capture of a watercolor Koi wreath. I am using sizes 12 & 4 Synthetic Sable Brushes, Canson Watercolor XL paper, and Winsor & Newton Professional Grade Watercolors in Payne's Grey, Cadmium Red, AZO Yellow Medium, Cadmium Orange.
A common question I get from you concerns a topic that I also struggle with regularly - loosening up. I have a tendency to get very tight, especially when I am drawing. I believe this echoes back to my first love, technical drawing. First and foremost I wanted to pursue medical illustration, until I fell in love with paint. I taught myself to draw tight, technical, and methodically - working over everything until it was perfectly representational.
Flash forward, and a bulk of my time in the studio is spent editing myself, walking away, and forcing myself to have restraint. Over the years I have discovered a few exercises and practices that have helped me loosen up, and I wanted to share a few with you here today.
A tried and true method of retraining your body and your eye is using your non-dominant hand to translate some objects around you. These can be quick sketches, focusing on drawing exactly what you are seeing and pulling those shapes down onto the paper; focus on the relationship of negative space to object form. When you are finished warming up, take a moment to look at how even with rougher lines, you are still able to translate the objects into discernable forms on the paper. Remember this while you are working - trust the viewer to use the visual clues you provide.
Another great warm up is to focus only on the space surrounding your object, and exploring how you can represent an object without drawing it. Notice how to the objects around your subject intersect and build a space for the given object to exist. This exercise also helps you build more engaging compositions, and helps retrain your eye to focus on the object in the world, and translating that object, rather than drawing the idea of the the object you construct in your head.
Attack a painting using two brushes and a limited palette. I challenge you to use only a large wash brush and a medium round brush, and a palette that consists of no more than 4 colors. This will help train you to focus on form and value to communicate volume, rather than line. I keep any brushes smaller than a 6 in my desk drawer, and I am now allowed to use them until final touches, to add a bit a line quality or patterning, and only after I am finished with form.
I encourage you to give each of these exercises a try, and share your results with me on Instagram using the hashtag #AKDUNI, a new project coming to you guys, full of Drawing and Painting advice and free classes. Sign up for our newsletter to be the first to hear when classes will launch!
It’s that time of the year again! The calls for artists and vendors are out, and if you’re anything like me, you’re scrambling to get your applications together, because the deadlines snuck up on you again. I have been doing shows for years now, and I am always bombarded with questions about the process from first timers. I LOVE helping you guys out, and I encourage you to keep messaging me - however, sometimes messages are lost in the fray between all the different social media platforms, and I feel like a total jerk. Enter this post, a hopefully comprehensive list of advice and answers to your FAQ’s regarding the process for Craft and Fine Art Shows.
Research, RESEARCH and RESEARCH. I can not stress enough how important it is to do as much information gathering about a given show BEFORE you even start to application process. Many shows have an application fee, and these start to add up - why waste money applying to a “Craftsman” show if your product fits better in a vintage market style bazaar.
Do the work to look critically at your product offering and figure out your median price point. Jot down some details about your average customer (not your IDEAL customer); write down facts about the people who have acutally spent money on your products - don’t get me started on all the ‘ideal customer’ crap out there, IMHO you want to focus on people who give you real life money for your real life products. Ask yourself questions that will help you prepare- what is your overhead budget to cover the cost of travel, booth materials, packaging etc.
Is the show in a high school gym? These usually have good foot traffic, but low price points abound - they are great starter shows to dip your toes in without a huge investment.
Will you be in a shopping plaza or outside? If outside is there shade? Are there restaurants and other shops near by? These things will help with foot traffic, and more people = more potential customers
Is this an annual show? Generally annual shows have a loyal customer base who come back year after year with the intention of spending money, which is ideal for you!
How is the organizer planning to advertise? A lot of show operators do a great job of marketing their events, however there are some shady characters out there who basically take the vendor money and run. It is your job to make sure you are in contact with the organizer and/or their staff and you understand the marketing strategy. Whatever you do, if the show organizer tries to tell you that it’s on the vendors to do the advertising for the show, walk away. A show that places the advertising and promotion back on the vendors will bust 9/10 times - the money you’re paying for the application and booth fee is supposed to cover the cost of marketing. The organizer has a responsibility to make sure the show is a success for the space and the vendors - don’t let anyone try and convince you otherwise!
This will vary show to show, depending on the requirements - however you should be sure you have the following squared away to use across all your applications:
Be sure to include the best photos of your individual items, as well as how you plan to display these things. If this is your first time vending, set up your display in a well lit area, and take styled photos of how you plan to show your work. The show organizers are focusing on two main things- first, that your display is professional and second that it is sturdy. Many organizers are required to have liability coverage for the show, this is in addition to your own personal insurance coverage and covers in the event some sort of disaster happens. Obviously organizers want to avoid needing to use this insurance, so they keep their eye's out for dangerous looking setups. The sturdiness of your display is especially relevant for outside shows, where wind and be an unpredictable and disastrous foe. Second, make sure your display is attractive and polished. You do not have to spend a lot of money to put together a nice booth, focus on keeping things organized and simple for the customer - this will translate into your photos for the application.
You don’t need to pen your entire life story here, you want a quick elevator pitch that gives the reviewer an idea of who you are, what your business does, and how your products will make their customers lives a little bit better. Don’t be afraid to add your personality in here, a rote statement about your unique brand is a bit counterintuitive so be sure to inject some of your personal flare into your statement.
YES! Seriously, yes.
Shows are a triple threat - you make money, you network with fellow makers, and you increase your marketing reach.
This is coming from a major super introvert, and even though some days it kills me to motivate to get out there, smiling and chatting all day - the ROI in second to none in my small business experience. Not only do you get incredible reach to new customers for your small business, these events also function as great networking opportunities. I have met and collaborated with so many fellow vendors that I never would have crossed paths with if not for the market scene. Additionally, I have met other show organizers, which helped me find more venues to show my work.
First things first - don’t be a jerk by packing up early and storming out. This happens WAY more frequently than you would think, and it can really wreck the show for the shoppers and other vendors. Something to consider is that just because you’re not seeing the sales you would like, someone else might be having an OK day, so huffing and puffing and slamming your things then taking off can signal to shoppers that the show is closing down and they will leave.
As I stated before, think of shows as a three pronged adventure, just because one of the prongs isn’t working, doesn't mean the other two are a bust! If you’re not selling, make a point to speak with customers - ask them what brought them out to the market, how they heard about the show, ask them anything - this can give you insight into why they aren’t buying. A lot of times you might worry about “bothering people” and thus scaring them away, but if people already aren't spending money, what do you have to lose? Second, talk to the other vendors, ask them how their day is going, if they are experiencing the same lull or disappointment, brainstorm with them about what isn't working, or ask them about other shows they have found to be better. This is a prime opportunity to pick someone else’s brain about the market community - you’ve already schlepped yourself and all your products out, make it worth your time!
Lastly, give the organizer feedback! They can’t improve the show for the vendors, AKA you and your friends, if no one is telling them what is going on in the seller world. If you don't feel comfortable doing this in person, send them a note after the show, but be sure to take some notes while you’re there in the middle of it. What do you think could have helped?
There is a lot of discourse out there on how discounting your work constantly impacts a customer's view on the products. You can hit up Pinterest and find 100 competing opinions and approaches - below is just what I have found works for me. In general, offering an in-person discount, and rounding can boost sales, but in the end, don’t stress about what other people are doing, focus on what makes sense for your business and sanity.
$10, $15, $20, etc. - make your pricing simple to streamline the shopping experience for your customer.
People love a deal, especially when they are framed in the - “Get a Gift for a Friend and a Bonus Gift for You” - if you sell prints or other small items that you have a decent inventory on hand, this is a great deal to run.
As cliché as it sounds, the most important thing to remember is to have fun! If you're stressed out, your customers are going to pick up on that - try to enjoy getting out in the world and sharing your work. The world of art markets and finding success is 100% trial and error, and everyone is still trying to figuring it out. It can feel like an intimidating undertaking, but if the world's biggest introvert (me) can handle it, you can too! Did I miss a question you would like to have answered? Shoot me an email, or DM over on Instagram - I will compile your questions and do a follow up post in a few weeks.
Another week gone, holy heck! I am seriously looking forward to the time change this Sunday. I know a lot of you are dreading the sleep mix-up, but I would much rather have an hour less of sleep if it means more daylight hours in my life. This is my favorite point in the year, when you really feel the turn to end winter and kick off Spring, and flowers and as I said before, sunlight. The endless winter is the hardest part about living in New England, but it is still my favorite place in the world.
This week I am featuring textile artists that are killing it and pushing traditional embroidery to the next level. I have always had a softspot for textile arts, I learned to crochet and sew before I had any formal training in Fine Arts, and they are still my go to mediums when I need to regroup and zen out.
The concept and execution behind her Sleep Series 2014 is simply stunning, I love the juxtaposition between line and texture, hard and soft, and how they hint towards ideas of memory and impact.
I couldn't find a name for this artist, so please let me know if you stumble across one so I can credit appropriatly. However, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to feature such unique embroidery work. I am especially drawn to the three dimensionality of the threadwork, and the incorporation of non-traditional materials in the compositions.
The scale of Svetlana's work is what draws me to her creations, I love the level of detail she is able to include in such tiny works. The fish are especially intricate and stunning.
As you all know, I have a soft spot of bugs, and Adam speaks straight to my bug loving heart with his miniscule and delicate works. All of his work is just totally stunning, but his unique spider compositions are truly unique and beautiful.
Lauren's work combining the gritty testure of wool with the strong linework of embroidery is second to none. I love her take on creatures and their environments on her circle canvases.
Cathy's botanical work is perfect, I am always amazed at how well she captures the organic flow of foliage, and her command of color.
One downside of being a solopreneaur is the reality that there is never enough time, never ever. I get a lot of questions over on Instagram about how I handle my time and manage my schedule between client projects, collaborations, product launches - and the answer is I rely pretty heavily on technology to help me through.
Find my Favs by clicking the link below...
This morning I woke up confused about where my husband disappeared to, he never gets up before me on Saturdays..... OH wait, it is FRIDAY. This week has been madness and my schedule is all out of sorts! I have had a bunch of client work I am closing out, and I spent some time updating the bugs over in the shop. As always, below you will find another round up of my favorite Instagram finds, these people are making me feel inspired and excited about time in my studio.
If you have time, show these creatives some love, please do. Also, don't forget to check the playlist at the end of the post - it is full of my favorite jams from this week.
I am actually sad it took me so long to run across Becca's feed - I love her use of color and pattern, there is a huge surge of abstract artists cropping up all over Instagram lately and a lot of them feel very similar, however Becca's work is a refreshing change!
Courtneys linework and minimalist aesthetic in sharing her botanical illustrations speaks right to my heart and all the things I love about sketchbooks.
The abstract texture and mixed media feel to her application is amazing. Sophie's work is just so visually engaging, it's collage meets painterly texture meets embroidery and I am loving it.
The movement and use of color in her abstracted floral works is just so dreamy.