Friday, September 30, 2011

Workshop Final

Workshop, was it worth it?

Now a week after the last day of my workshop, I think about the experience. Was it worth it?

Dollar wise, probably not. I doubt very much that I will sell that much more artwork to make up for the cost. Not just of the workshop, but of travel expenses, lodging, meal, etc.

But was it worth it?

I gained a lot of knowledge I would not have gotten any other way. Yes, I could have simply read Jane Jones's book. But would I have gotten it? I don't think so. While Jane does write a good book, and I did eventually buy it, (loads of technical info there) I don't think if I had simply gotten the book and tried it on my own I would have gotten the essence of Jane's methods.

See Jane's Book Here

You get something special communicating face to face that you don't get by reading in isolation. It is the give and take of vocal communication that stimulates learning. And there is the ability to ask questions that you have at a workshop along with demonstrations that go beyond pictures in a book. You also get to know them. You cannot over emphasis the importance of getting to know another artist.

One of the really great learning tools you get at a workshop is other people. They might ask the questions you have, but they ask in another way. Of course, they do think of things you haven’t. This give and take between human beings is what makes workshops so rewarding. You find you are not the only one interested in something, or who have made that mistake! You can learn the error of logic. While something might seem like a good idea, it just doesn’t work. These stories are often funny, but oh they do tell it like it is!

There is comradely at workshops. Making friends of fellow artists who either share you views or give you another way of looking at something.


A good instructor is vital to the success of a good workshop. If you are going to learn something, make progress and accomplish anything at a workshop you need an instructor who has something to say, and knows how to say it. You need an instructor who knows how to set realistic goals for the allotted time frame. Someone who is interesting in more than selling their book and or supplies. But of equal importance are other participants. 

 By iron, iron itself is sharpened. So one man sharpens the face of another”.~ Proverbs 27:17

Don’t worry, I am not going to get preachy, but it is true. We sharpen one another when we work together, show each other how we get along and try each other’s techniques. Even if we don’t adopt them, we sharpen our own skill and more importantly, sharpen our minds. Artists need one another. We need this exchange of encouragement. Yes we get accolades from non-artist, but it does not mean the same as when we get praise or even criticism from other artists. Just by being there and being an active participant, we each enriched the experience for all who came.

So, was it worth it?

Was the workshop that I traveled to so far for, spent so much time and money at worth it? To me,


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day Five: Last day of the Workshop


And more rain. My paintings, of course, are still wet. Turned the lamps on as soon as I got in, but I don’t know if will get anything done.

This is the last day of the workshop. We will review what we have learned, show each other our paintings, and wind things up. My first painting is still to wet to work on, but I can bring my other two up a stage.

Today we are learning how to put those final touches that raise the level of a painting from good to great. Today we learn to blush.

Just a little something about my fellow workshop attendees. We came from all across the country, Florida to California, a mixed bag of ladies. Young, old and in between. We had one thing in common, a love of art and the desire to do it better. Now we have another bond, this wonderful workshop that pushed all of us, made us grow (a painful process) but also taughts us we can do it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fourth Day of Cheap Joe's Glazing Workshop

I am learning so much stuff my head might explode.

Again the day is overcast, and rain is in the forecast, but just about all of us came in as early as we could. Today is the first day any of us feel that we are not just following directions, but getting it.

I look at my 3 paintings and see many, many problems. But more importantly, I can see where I went wrong. Not just that they are wrong, but where they went wrong.

I am still not giving the underpainting enough emphasis. I have always done basic underpainting. At least to tone the canvas, and frequently block in the major features of a painting, but for glazing to really work, the underpainting is very important.

Tomorrow is the last day, and itis only half a day, so we all knew that we needed to get as much out of today as we could. When I left today, I had 3 wet paintings, and only one lamp to leave them under!

It should be ok. The glazing layers are drying faster than the underpaintings did. I got several layers of glazing on today. I have to work on the backgrounds of two of them, but that I can do at home. It is the glazing process that is important that I learn.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Workshop Day Three

Today dawned bright and early. Well, it dawned, but not bright. I woke up to rain, lots and lots of rain! Good thing I had brought an umbrella, unfortunately, I left it in the car. Oh well, I won’t melt.

It has been one of those weeks, though. Sunday we all had trouble getting her with the dense fog, Monday was damp and overcast. Tuesday so far was the best day. At least there were occasionally patches of sunshine; small, put patches.

Today we watched paint dry. Only artists would do that! We are running into a problem with getting the paint to dry. Even with the lamps and using a drying agent, paintings are slow to dry. It is the humidity.

But we did get to at least start glazing, which is amazing! I have now realized that the key to this is using very small amounts of paint. At least 1/2 what you think you will need, but often much less. You need to almost drybrush the underpainting. And each glaze layer is equally light.

Workshops at Cheap Joe's

While we used white liberally in the underpaint, once you start glazing it is verboten!

This is what gives such Luminosity to the works of the great northern masters.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is how nice it is to take a workshop at Cheap Joes’s. They have a purpose built room. If anyone has ever taken a workshop in a non-art room, you can appreciate how nice it is to be in a real studio. Each person has a table with easel. There is good lighting, sinks, and an area for demonstrations.

The staff here also treats you nicely. Monday morning staff as on hand to welcome each person to the workshop, and HELP you carry your stuff in. boy, is that nice. Since it is a purpose built area, used only for workshops, you can leave your stuff overnight in the room. It is locked up at night and in the morning you can simply go to your table and start working. Also there is coffee.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day Two of my Workshop at Cheap Joe’s

Well today did not go too badly. Although we had put our work under lamps to speed drying, with all the humidity, many were still tacking, including mine. I think I used a bit too much paint for the underpainting. The underpainting should be a thin layer. We used a drying agent, Japan drier simply because it is a workshop, and we need to speed things up. It is not necessary to do this ordinarily.

But we did make progress with a second painting, doing the underpainting. Hopefully, tomorrow we can start the actually glazing.

Boone Inn, Boone, NC

I have learned a lot about transparent paint today. My head is whirling with all the stuff Mrs. Jones is trying to stuff into it. It is a tight fit, however and I don’t know how much will actually stick.

Today Cheap Joe’s arranged a group dinner at a local restaurant, The Boone Inn, I went and had a great time getting to know some of the staff of Cheap Joe’s and fellow artists. We are an interesting bunch of people!

But I really have to rest up for tomorrow. This workshop stuff is a lot of work!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Workshop Day One

Monday Morning.

This morning the fog was gone, mostly, so bright and early I traveled down to Cheap Joe’s for the first day of my workshop. It was interesting to see who all came. There are 12 people in the workshop, all women! There was one man signed up, but never showed. Outnumbered?

Jane Jones is the woman who is leading it. She is a floral artist who specializes in realism and glazing techniques. I for one felt uncertain about this workshop. Even though this is something I have always wanted to learn more about, I am totally inexperienced with this, and unsure of myself.  Jane's Website

Jane runs a tight ship. She knows what she wants to teach, and have enough experience to know what to focus on and what shortcuts she needs to take to get things done in the short time we have.

The major problem we need to overcome is the slow drying time of oils. To deal with this we used a drying agent, and lamps to speed curing of the paint.

We did start by toning the work surface. Basically we took the white off (something I am used to) with a thin coating of burnt sienna on two small supports and payne’s gray. Then while those were drying up, we traced the basic layouts for 3 works.

One interesting thing, during the opening orientation, we had to read a copyright statement and sign an agreement not to use the images given out in this workshop to make money, or use the work for shows. It was simple, straightforward and she was right. Also, no photos, so no photos of the workshop itself.

There could be no misunderstanding; she explained it simply and completely.

There was minor confusion about the lamps we were to bring. They are to help cure the paintings, to speed things up, but most new lamps do not take the needed 100 watt bulbs. I ended up buying a trouble lamp at the hardware store. A few people have older lamps or did find some on the internet. So between us and the staff of Cheap Joe’s we came up with enough lamps to speed the setting up of all supports.

We actually started the underpainting of one of the works in the afternoon. We painted until 5:30. when we left, I think we all were tired!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fogged In- Workshop 2011

Painting Workshop +1 Day

I am taking a workshop in Oil Painting at Cheap Joe's in Boone, NC. This is an anniversary present from my hubby. We had a rough year this year, and he thought I deserved it as well as needed it. I have been working hard and feel simply wore to the bone artistically. So I did not argue with him! Now Boone is a really pretty place. It is high in the mountain of western North Carolina. I have been here before and am looking forward to the workshop tomorrow. I was also looking forward to the drive through the mountains.

Sunday dawned bright and clear? Well, Sunday dawned, sort of. There was a definite ting of pink in the early sky, which should have warned me. I got up real early, intending to take my time heading south and enjoy the scenery. Stopped to top up the tank and get a coffee and hit the highway.

First 2 hours were mostly pleasant and mostly clear. Although the sky was overcast it was clear driving.

By the time I stopped for breakfast, it was getting misty. I planned to take the Blue Ridge Parkway instead of the express highway, but started to wonder if that it was going to be clear enough. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs north and south along the top ridge of the Allegany Mountains. It is one of the most unique National Parks, being a highway with some of the best views in the eastern US.

When I got to the turnoff for it, it seemed to brighten so I entered. Then I hit the fog. It seemed each time I came out of the woods and came up to a scenic overlook I drove into increasingly dense fog.  So much for beautiful views and great photography! There were times I drove well below the speed limit for the Parkway, which is 45 mph. I had my lights on and flashers going. Coming up upon bikers was actually a little scary. Fortunately most of the bikers had lights and flashers on their bikes. I really did miss the spectacular views to be seen there. Hopefully, by Friday the sky will have cleared and I can take advantage of the views on the way home.

I stopped at the country store, got some hot coffee, (it had also gotten very cold) and drove straight but slowly to the turn off for Boone and the hotel.

Well, I checked in early. The people at the Best Western, Blue Ridge were very welcoming. I have a lovely room. As the afternoon progress, the weather got worse. Made me glad I had gotten in early. By 3:00 we were completely fogged in. the grocery tore  across the street has a great deli, and I got a salad for dinner. I think I will go and use the pool and get an early night.

I will be keeping in touch. the hotel has a great work space and good internet connections, so I will be able to log on after each day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Packing Art

Packing Paintings

Whether for a show or to private person, from time to time we need to entrust our artwork to others. It is even worse when we need to ship it. For most of us, it is scary and confusing.

So how do we do it?

Well that depends on what it is. How you prepare a painted canvas might not be the same for a photograph. Also, it matters why you are shipping the piece.

Works on Paper

For works on paper, drawings and such, you might consider shipping it unmounted and unframed.  If it is a non-ridged paper, it could ship quite well in a mailing tube. These are actually for mailing drawings. Most are large enough to allow you to soft-roll the pages up, and insert into the tube without damaging the artwork. This would work for many mediums as long as the paper was flexible enough. For the really heavy weight papers, however, rolling is not an option.

In that case, your best bet is to dry-mount and ship in a protective envelope. This would be placed in a rigid packing envelope. These are available from shipping companies and art supply houses. Many office supply stores will also have them. Most are for shipping large photographs. These envelopes will be clearly marked, “Do not bend”. I would make sure any company I was shipping with would clearly honor this. Make sure the mat is acid free, and expect the recipient to use this mat in the final mounting and framing.

For a large piece even on paper, I prefer a shallow box to the shipping envelopes, but this is a matter for each person to decide.

If this is a gift, most major art supply chains will allow you go include a gift certificate for framing at the destination. This is much easier and cheaper than having it framed and then shipping it.

For Shows

When you are shipping to a show, you will be expected to ship work fully mounted and ready to hang, and this would include glazing if needed. Please avoid shipping even framed work under glass. Glass is fragile and can break, even if the package is not dropped. severe temperature swings can cause cracking. So there is always a danger when shipping work under glass of it breaking. Not only is it dangerous to the person unpacking the artwork, it can also damage the artwork itself. Nothing would be more disheartening than to have your artwork unavailable for the show because a piece of glass punctured it. Instead, when mounting work that needs to be protected by glazing opt for acrylic glazing. It is not only safer; it weights less and so will save you money in the shipping. Most of the good professional framers offer an affordable range of acrylic glazing for this. Many prospectuses now specify acrylic glazing for all submitted artwork instead of glass.

Of course, acrylic glazing is more prone to glare when photographed, but that is the show’s problem, not yours. In any case, you have already photographed it prior to mounting and framing, haven't you? and previously submitted a slide or digital file for juroring, which would cover any problem.

For open entry shows, such as our Miniature Exhibition, we do ask for the artwork to be shipped instead of files, but again, photographing the work is our problem not yours, but if you wanted to send a digital file along, well I would not object!

Back to Packing

Paintings that do not require glazing, such as acrylic and oil paintings can also be safely shipped. I always use protective cardboard corners for this, similar to those you see on ready-made frames. These are simple to make, using one of these corners for a template. They can be made from any cardboard, even cereal boxes, although I prefer a thicker cardboard than tag board. I like to make mine from the flaps of boxes. While they are bendable enough, they offer real protection to the corners of canvases and frames. You just have to remember to make them wide enough for the canvas and frame, if any.

Shipping framed work is a little simpler than shipping unmounted canvas panels. The frame itself offers some protection. The corners should be protected with cardboard corners. These can be recycled from frame purchases, or home made. But sturdy cardboard corners are a must. They also provide a platform from which to protect the rest of the artwork. You can tape pieces of cardboard to cover both the front and the back to these corners, not touching the actual artwork, creating an air pocket around it. Then en envelope of bubble wrap will protect the artwork when it is slipped into the shipping crate. Use several layers of bubble wrap instead of packing peanuts when shipping to a show. Most shows have outlawed packing peanuts anyway, as they create a mess, are actually hard to keep track of, and make return shipping difficult. So no packing peanuts to exhibitions.

If you are shipping to family, friends or clients, that is a different matter. But still, don’t let the peanuts touch the art! They will tend to stick to oil paintings that have not fully cured, and anything younger than 2 years is not fully cured!

When shipping more than one painting/artwork, you will want to put them all in the same box. Try getting panels of protective foam board for this. How thick will depend on the size of the artwork, but for most pieces, between 1 and 2 inches will be enough. Check with your shipper for this.

We see a lot of boxes at The Renaissance Art Gallery. The best one was last year. This box had a lot of thought put into it and was very well designed. It offered great protection for the artwork, was easy to use and made the return shipping easy. The box was lined with foam sheeting. This foam comes in sheets, and the kind used was similar to the oasis used in floral arrangements. It is easy to cut to size and shape. A piece was cut to the size of the bottom. Then sides were cut, with notches to hold dividing panels for each piece of art. These panels slide securely into the sides. Then the artwork was tucked into bubble wrap envelops, and slipped into slots. Paperwork also fit into a lot, then a top piece slipped securely on top. Box could be closed and everything was secure.

Before you seal that box, make sure all the needed paper work is there. Entry fees, entry registration, return label, etc. Also include a packing list, listing what art is in the box, etc. Yes your artwork is labeled, but a second list helps. Also, double check, no triple check the shipping address. Do not assume it is the same as the organization sponsoring the show, it often is not.  All shows go to great lengths to make sure the shipping location is a secure location and that someone will be available to receive it. So read the prospectus and make sure you have the right address.

Mark your Calendar

Ship early enough to make sure the work will arrive is there is some delay. Nothing is more disheartening than to receive work the day after judging, and this has happened. Allow a reasonable amount of time for any unsold work to be returned after the show ends before calling to check up on it. Keep a duplicate of any paperwork and the packing list just in case and include the show dates so you will know when to expect it.


Insurance is typically the reasonability of the artist both coming and going. This should be included in the shipping costs, and noted on the return label. And do insure you artwork. It is worth it.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


 Its that time of year again. Time for the new calendar for the new year.  This always coincides with the new school year, which I am sure in not a coincidence. So most of us will be in the market for calendars. Yes, a lot of us now keep thing on our I-pads and smart phones, but not everyone and we still like to have wall calendars or calendars on our desktops.

So why so many calendars? It seems that every store will have them. Not just the stationary and office supply stores, but grocery stores, craft stores, discount and hardware stores. Racks and racks of calendars, and many businesses still send out promotional calendars, it’s a great good-will building gift, a free calendar. But really, why so many? Do they have different date? No, all of them will have the same 12 months, in the same order and with the same spelling. So why so many?


Yes the artwork. People will choose which ones have for them the most pleasing pictures. Whether they are kitties or lions, waves crashing into shores or birds flying in serene skies, it is the artwork that makes them different. And this is how we chose them, by the artwork.

We are all art lovers. Yes, each and every one of us. And we all like to collect art. Most people don’t collect original art because they don’t know they are art lovers and art collectors.

Yes, it is true! Most people are unknowing art collectors.

Everyone is influenced by art by what they see as art. We select things to buy not only by our needs but also by how it looks, its aesthetics. When we shop for toasters, yes we want something to brown bread, but often the final selection is not on quality of the toast but by how it looks, which toaster will look better sitting on our counter.  At that point, we are buying a piece of sculpture as much as a toaster. All things being equal, we will buy the “pretty” one. Of course, our definition of pretty will vary. Some like the nice shining sleek model. Some will choose another simply because it is red. But we will make our final decision on looks, not performance.


Things are designed. Yes, everything; and a lot of thought and effort go into these designs. Packaging is a multi-million dollar business and hundreds of designers spend their lives designing packages and packaging. Strength and durability will be married with desirability. They will be designed to make you want to take them off the shelf.

Everything is designed to make it better than it has to be. To make it more pleasing to the eye, or touch or smell. To enhance our lives.  We as humans have a need for this. Simply providing bleak shelter is not enough, that shelter must be attractive to us as well. We have entire industries devoted to making our homes better, more appealing.

And while we all know that while looks do not necessarily make something perform better, it makes no difference. We still make selection based on how things look. Stainless steel appliances cost more than plan white, but they sure look cool!