It’s late, it’s almost over, but here’s my bit, now that the kids are in bed and the washing up is done. This may be upsetting to some people. Read the rest of this entry »
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Have very clear price tags. And somewhere to record sales.
Have business cards instead of having to write my URL on bits of paper.
Have a sign with my name and URL on it laminated.
Share a stall with a friend if possible, because public liability insurance is expensive and convenience breaks are convenient.
I must publicise myself ahead of time in future – not 48 hours ahead, but weeks or months. Almost no-one I spoke to knew it was happening unless they knew an artist personally, so artists’ word of mouth is clearly very important.
I think I’d do well to bring kit so that I could paint while I watched my stall. Several people did work on things while watching their stalls and at least that’s a good use of the time while not selling much. I have travel kit so I could use it.
Using the space:
Bring lots of small, cheap paintings and the means to display them prominently. I had A but not B. I might need to rig up some sort of drawing board to hang lots of 5″ canvases on, mounted on an easel.
Bring some big eyecatching ones too, not least because the bright colours cheer me up!
Come up with something convincing to say when people ask what my technique is, or where I get my inspiration, because “The colour! The colour does the thing! I love it!” doesn’t sound very good. Also, come up with a better response to “I could never do this,” than “Oh but you could! Try it! Use a big brush!”
Don’t be afraid to rearrange the space. I left the solid objects as they were when I arrived, and I could have created something much more inviting and less prone to fill with cigarette butts (seriously; we were near a bin and a bench, it was very smoky) if I’d just moved the table 90 degrees.
I hope I remember some of this for next time.
Today I had last-minute confirmation of insurance and did mad frantic packing and got to Artists’ Place (near the post office and NatWest and Nino’s and Eclectic Games) just in time to set up some sort of stall. It wasn’t as professionally decked out as many of the others, but for a first effort I could have done worse, I feel.
The setup for artists was great; the Reading Arts Week people provided tables and gazebos (which were needed — it rained!) and even chairs to sit on, and the gazebos were set up when we got there and had sandbags to hold them in place. There was a gazebo for musicians too, with Music Related Kit; it seemed to work well, without microphone hissing or sudden loss of sound or any stereo weirdness. I was delighted that there were slots for musicians who were quite obviously starting out, as well as some fairly established and professional ones, and the gender balance was good, too. I didn’t count but about half the singers were female and any backing musicians were male for women or female for men, as far as I remember.
There was a lovely atmosphere; as the day wore on, people’s children showed up in school uniforms, and sat on the ground; some of them danced a bit at the sidelines, some of them danced a lot in the middle. Adults restricted themselves to toe-tapping and the occasional sway.
The visual arts represented were pretty varied – I saw original paintings, prints, ink work, screen printing I think, jewellery, papercrafts — I didn’t see any sculpture but I also wasn’t really well enough to walk around much so I might have missed things.
I’ll make another post about what I learned from it all later, but for now here are the relevant photos. I didn’t take many and I only had a phone camera, but this is what I have:
These are the paintings I had which were smallish and ready to hang:
This was my stall after initial setup:
This was the view opposite my stall:
I was closest to the speakers, so much of the music was a bit too loud for me, but I really enjoyed this duo, Gloria Garcia and her guitarist (warning, link autoplays music, but I like it)
This evening I unexpectedly had the opportunity to go to the opening night / launch event / artists’ preview of the exhibition at the Penta Hotel.
I was blown away. I felt slightly embarrassed to have put MY art in there with all the other REAL art, PROPER art by REAL artists, but actually I think it’s fine, my art is legitimate even when I have massive imposter syndrome.
There was a very impressive globe sculpture by Jane Beckett, which I liked even before I knew who’d done it. I loved “Autumn” by Jane Stewart — it’s exactly the kind of thing which appeals to me; it would be interesting but not distressing to have in my home. Two textured paintings including gravel and things by Rachel Capel-Plytas made me grin madly, and “Push” by Tori Treasure made me think, before I saw the name, of holding someone’s hand while in labour, pushing against them and holding on to them at the same time with the intensity of it. A self-portrait called “Mine,” by Charlie Chrobnik, was brilliant — it’s larger than I had realised from seeing photos of it and it had enormous impact, though I couldn’t have it in my house; it’s too vulnerable and intense for that. I’m a bit weird about what I can live with; ideally I’d have a gallery next door to keep all the amazing things I can’t share space with. Ivan Cheary’s “Self Portrait in Bathroom Mirror” delighted me; did he blu-tak the light cord up out of the way? Louise Mead‘s trees were lovely, cheerful and pleasant and bright. I have an ambition to paint a dandelion clock as well as Zovgiya Sagiyeva did.
There were lots of others. There was a composite “After Hockney” sort of thing which was brilliant, very cleverly conceived and executed. An eye depicted entirely using 11,000 nails – yes, nails – and a fashion show – a corset show really. An evolution of typography work which was fascinating but I can’t remember who did it.
Outside the main exhibition rooms there are a few easels with works on them – one is by an acquaintance from the Community Garden which has to be viewed with a magnifying glass (supplied) because it’s brainmeltingly detailed and complex.
GO GO GO.
It was great.
In spite of my Swirly Tree being too big to fit in the car my friends brought to transport me and the paintings, we managed to deliver four paintings to the Penta Hotel today for this weekend’s exhibition. Becky walked the length of the Oxford Road carrying all 5′ x 4′ of it and did not take off like a kite. I brought fixings for the box canvases and was glad of it — we needed them. I left the extras behind for anyone else who was also confused by the very ambiguous instructions in the application form.
Nothing to do now but go and see them — I can’t decide whether to try to find someone to come with me to the Friday evening launch thing, or go on Saturday with my family. Or both, I suppose.
I’m going to book a stall at Artists Place, which will be at Market Place, Reading, on Wednesday 27 June 2012, 1pm-6pm — near Eclectic Games. I have to figure out childcare but I’m sure something will work out. I really want to do this.
And, naturally, I’m terrified of it! But almost all the best things in my life have been heartstoppingly frightening to begin with. I have two kinds of fear, at least, and this is the good kind.
I’ll be putting two works – not on the blog yet! – in for the main exhibition, too.
This evening I found myself doing some unexpected acrylic painting, after I’d put the watercolours away. There was some of yesterday’s paint out, and a brush I hadn’t cleaned, and I swiped one with the other and made a line, and it reminded me of a head, so… I took photos as I did something I can’t remember ever doing before, though I attempted something similar in more conventional colours when I was about seven. Eight photos in all, though I also looked at the camera’s viewfinder to get a more detached view of what I was doing as I worked; I could have taken far more photos but managed to stop myself.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a real artist, that I haven’t studied art and that I only started painting with any kind of seriousness or drive in January 2011. But what I didn’t realise is that I haven’t even seen much art, in the flesh, especially not famous, “important” art.
So earlier this long Easter weekend, a friend on Twitter said to me that I should go to see the Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy; “You should a) go and see the Hockney exhibition and/or b) read the accompanying book “A Bigger Picture”. Trees; ever-bigger images.”
And I talked it over with Rob and went today.
It turns out, right, that I have a strong emotional response to art.
Surrounded by people who clearly already knew who Hockney was (some English bloke, was about all I knew, with a thing about acrylics, maybe? colour? something like that) and who were able to make sensible-sounding remarks on shade, series, development of themes, etc, I staggered -
Actually, no, wait. First I figured out where the exhibition was and then almost had a panic attack because I felt like a fraud going to a real exhibition by a real artist, and had to phone home to be calmed down. I walked around the block and went in and started queuing.
Then, less than an hour later, I bought my ticket – still feeling pretty fraudulent – and went in.
The people. There were about six billion of them, almost all standing in front of me. But I wiggled through and got away from the first room, and then I could see paintings.
And I staggered around grinning, moving far too quickly from one work to the next, trying to eat it all up as fast as I could like a chocolate Easter egg before breakfast, and quickly reached a stage of sensory overload so strong that I stood in a roped-off doorway and took slow breaths and wiped my ridiculously weeping eyes, and then I went back and stood in a room where the pictures weren’t quite so brainmeltingly absolutely my sort of thing and came down from my high, and then I went back to the beginning again and walked through, again far faster than I think one is supposed to, and I reached the end, which was brilliant but much much calmer, and then I went back and started again, and eventually, though in real life less than two hours after I went in, I left the exhibition and bought the book and some postcards, and then I left the building and realised I couldn’t possibly meet the people I had arranged to call in on (luckily not at a specific time), and made an emergency phonecall to get some small-child time, and after tea and toddler-play, I felt human enough to come home, and it was great.
Paintings and small children. That’s me, apparently.
(My only regret is that my own children won’t see the exhibition. But they can’t have everything, and I’m glad I saw it alone.)
Ask me something. Ask me to paint something for you – preferably something REALLY BIG so I have an excise to get more REALLY BIG canvas – or ask me something else. Go on.