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Is It Worth Entering Shows?

16 May

Entering your artwork in shows — local, regional, or national — is not an inexpensive proposition. There are entry fees, which can range from $5 to $50 per piece — as well as costs to box, ship, send, insure, and return your work should it be accepted. Oh, and those entry fees? They apply whether your work is accepted or not, and depending upon the size of the show, “or not,” may be a very real option.

Homeland 1 by Steve Henderson. Original sold; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

Homeland 1 by Steve Henderson. Original sold; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

“But think of the exposure if I get in,” you tell yourself. Well, there is, that, but the exposure may not be as grand as you think. Some shows attract the same crowd, year after year; others, which promise exposure through national magazines, take out an ad, one in which your painting does not appear. The top tier shows, the ones that really do draw in crowds, are not particularly friendly to newbies.

So is it even worth it, doing shows? The Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson, has entered and continues to enter shows, but we have found that far more sales occur in other venues — through the website, through contact with individual clients, through Facebook, even — than they do through shows. And doing the math at the end of the year — calculating entry fees, shipping, and shipping back — we find that there are more efficient ways to turn a profit.

Being Abnormal, an article by Carolyn Henderson in Fine Art Views (and yes, that’s me, the same person writing this article), talks about doing things differently, including entering, or not entering shows. After you read this article, make sure to check out the comments from the various artist readers; frequently, in any online article, the most interesting information comes from the comments, and most especially from the people who comment through the Fine Art Views site.

So what about you? Have you entered shows? Has it been a profitable experience? Or do you find that you’ve picked up more in experience than you have in monetary compensation?

Evening Waltz, original oil painting, 30 x 36, by Steve Henderson

Evening Waltz, original oil painting, 30 x 36, by Steve Henderson

There are a lot of people out there these days trying to make money off of artists, and one of these ways is through assessing entry fees on shows. I’ve always found that it’s worth being wary of the continuous e-mails in your inbox announcing, “We’ve extended the entry date for this show! You have another two weeks to enter!” Two weeks later, the deadline is extended by another week.

Also not a good sign is a show that is exclusively online. While there are verifiable and legitimate online shows, online events are increasing, and it is becoming easier and easier to put them on. Make sure that, when you send your money and enter your artwork, that there is the potential for something good to happen — actual exposure, to people who are genuinely looking to by art, comes to mind.

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What Fried Dandelions Have to Do with Improving Your Art

10 May

From the Start Your Week with Steve Newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art:

Steve Says:

“Today my 18-year-old son wanted to make fried dandelions for lunch, a suggestion that initially didn’t meet with much excitement.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

Dandelions are either weeds or flowers, depending upon your perspective. Original available at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print available at Great Big Canvas.

 

“But he’s a determined sort, and like the Little Red Hen he picked the flowers, dipped them in egg and breading, and fried them in butter. Oddly, they weren’t bad, although the egg, breading, and butter definitely helped.

“And, he told us, now that he’s done it, he has no desire to repeat the experiment, but he’s glad that he went through with it. ‘I would always have wondered,’ he commented.

“Good point.

“How many times do we want to try something but don’t, because it sounds odd — like fried dandelions — or our announcement is met with a total lack of enthusiasm and support?

“So we don’t. But we always wonder what it would have been like if we had.

“Why not stop wondering and just do it? At worst, we’ll have inedible flowers, but the compost pile won’t mind.

“At best, we’ll have a unique dish to share at the next family celebration.

“And in between, we’ve got a good story to share.

“The more we do, the more we try, the more we experiment, the more we dream — the more interesting we, and the lives we live, are.” 

What is it about trying new things that is so difficult for us?

Standing behind the easel, paintbrush in hand, who but we will know that we chose a different color for that brushstroke, or a different brush, or a different way of wielding it?

Go on -- jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection -- original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Go on — jump in. Shoes, and feet, eventually dry. Reflection — original oil painting and signed limited edition prints at Steve Henderson Fine Art; open edition print at Great Big Canvas.

Too often we look at each potential painting as so precious that we don’t want to “ruin” it by doing something different or new, but the risk of this is smaller than the reality of falling into a rut.

Sometimes, we can jolt ourselves out of this rut by saying to ourselves, “Just for the next 15 minutes, I’m going to think about this differently, and I’m going to try something that I’m not sure will work or not.”

And, of course, the more regularly and often that we paint, the easier it is to experiment, because we tell ourselves, “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll toss it to the side and start over. Or I’ll keep slathering paint and see what happens.”

Ultimately, what this costs you is some time, a canvas, and some paint — a small price to pay for the potential to make mighty steps forward.

Color Coordinating Artwork with Interior Decor

9 Apr

From the Start Your Week with Steve Newsletter:

Steve Says:

“It’s always good when the person you live with thinks similarly to — or at least not radically different from — the way you do.

Available as an original and print at Steve Henderson Fine Art -- Beachside Diversions

Available as an original and print at Steve Henderson Fine Art — Beachside Diversions

“In our house, we decorate eclectically — espresso brown leather sofa; rust fabric glider chair; oak cabinets; sage green walls; knitted shawls and lace by Carolyn; a revolving array of paintings by me.

“In the process of doing so, we have discovered just how flexible color coordination can be — red, rust, lavender, blue, green, gold, orange — all hues wander in and out of our living room, and regardless of which paintings are on the walls, they all fit.

“When you purchase fine art, buy what you like, and don’t worry about how it will look with the sofa — if your home is filled with the furniture and accessories that you love, then it’s highly likely that the newest painting will fit right in.

“It’s your home, reflecting your life, your lifestyle, your family, your being. Surround yourself with beautiful things that you love, and make yourself at home in your home.”

Read more, and consider subscribing to, Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Grammar Despair by Carolyn Henderson

How Do You Buy a Painting Online Direct from the Artist?

26 Mar

Buying art directly from the artist isn’t such an unusual thing. In these days of galleries and exhibitions and professional art organizations and non-profit art cooperatives, we’ve been trained into thinking that we can’t deal with, talk to, or see the artist directly, but really, this is one of the best ways to purchase art.

An original painting is an investment of time and love.

An original painting is an investment of time and love.

Why? First and foremost, when an artist doesn’t need to compensate for a gallery commission, he doesn’t need to raise his prices to adjust for it. That’s definitely a winning factor for the purchaser.

Just as importantly, the purchaser learns more about the painting and the painter, adding even more interest to the artwork.

Now when you live in the same town, or near to, the artist in question, you can frequently call to make a studio visit, and thereby view the artwork in person. When you live across the country, or even on another continent, this is more difficult, but as we purchase more and more items over the Internet, buying art online opens up wider vistas of possibilities for our walls.

At Steve Henderson Fine Art, we encourage people to look through the website and enjoy the images of Steve’s various works. On each page, an artwork will be identified by its medium (oil, watercolor), size of the painting itself — unframed — in inches, whether or not it is framed, price, and availability. When a client finds a piece in which he or she is interested, we encourage them to read about Our Prices, which gives an overview of why Steve’s works are priced the way they are.

Anyone who has looked for original fine art quickly learns that artwork has no hard or fast rule for how it is priced, and some really dreadful work out there is priced very, very high. Our Prices seeks to demystify some of this process, and further you along in your art purchasing education. Fine art, skillfully executed, is the result of an artist’s passion and expertise, and producing a beautiful painting takes time and ability.

Signed, limited edition prints are an affordable artwork option

Signed, limited edition prints are an affordable artwork option

Once a potential client finds an artwork in which he or she is interested, the next step is to contact the artist. We have a Contact form on our site — it’s easy to fill out, and if a form isn’t your thing, we provide a direct e-mail to Carolyn, the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. We also chat with clients over the phone or via Skype, and this communication process is designed to answer clients’ questions and provide more information about the artwork and how it will fit into the space that the client has designed for it.

Do not be shy about this communication process — purchasing art is, indeed, a process, and an artist’s happiest clients are those who have had all their questions answered and feel confident about the artwork they are purchasing — they know its colors and subject matter, and how those elements will fit into the environment they have set up for it; they measure out its size on the wall to get an idea of how it will hang there; they are conversant with the artist and know more about the painting they are looking at; they are comfortable with the final price and have worked out with the artist a means of paying for it (we frequently set up no-interest payment plans).

We even offer posters of Steve's work -- very affordable fine art gifts for yourself and others.

We even offer posters of Steve’s work — very affordable fine art gifts for yourself and others.

Of course, hitting the PayPal Buy Now button is always an option, and many people who purchase signed, limited edition prints and posters do so with the same confidence that they download an e-book, but always, the option to contact the artist and get those questions answered is a valid one.

Don’t be shy.

Affording Private Art Lessons

22 Feb

When Steve, the Norwegian Artist, was a young boy, his parents sought out a local artist in his town and arranged lessons — people do this all the time with the piano, and yet when it comes to art, it seems so . . . impossible. But it’s not. It all starts with finding an artist whose work you admire and asking the person for lessons — which you, definitely, plan to pay for.

Rise up out of the sea as a new creature with your art by getting past the issues that you've been struggling with. Customized, online art lessons can help you do this. Aphrodite by Steve Henderson

Rise up out of the sea as a new creature with your art by getting past the issues that you’ve been struggling with. Customized, online art lessons can help you do this. Aphrodite by Steve Henderson

“I’ll never be able to afford this,” you moan.

Well, maybe, if the artist you’re looking at is on the A-List of artists whose names are instantly recognized, and they’re famous and all that.

But there are plenty of truly excellent artists whose names aren’t in the magazines, and the way you find these people is by wandering through your local galleries, or strolling around on the Internet, until you find someone whose art you like.

If the person is local, you can call or e-mail them and ask if they offer lessons. If they’re across the country, don’t despair, because it is possible to give and take lessons over the Internet — we ourselves offer this option, receiving images of your work via e-mail, and then communicating back with you via e-mail, phone, or — our favorite — Skype.

And it’s not like you’re a kid again, signed up for years of endless piano lessons — you may need one half-hour lesson to get you going, or you may want to set something up once a month for a year — be up front with your artist of choice and see what the two of you can work out.

Either way, sometimes a little push is all you need, and a session, or two or three or four, with an artist who is producing work that you keep coming back to look at can make a tremendous difference in what you do the next time you stand at the back of your easel.

You never know until you ask. If you’re interested in lessons or a consultation, contact the artist — if that’s Steve you can reach us at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com — and just start asking questions!

Buying Fine Art Directly from the Artist

21 Feb

I don’t know about you, but ten years ago I had difficulty buying anything but a book online over the Internet. I mean, what if I bought socks and they didn’t fit? (This problem was solved when I started knitting my own socks.) Or shoes?

And then I started buying things. I started with tea — I found a reputable tea dealer (Upton Tea, for those of you who are interested), and was ecstatic to find that their product — in addition to being something I couldn’t find locally — was superb, and their customer service was unparalleled.

Buying direct from the artist -- at least this artist -- saves you money. AND you can communicate with the artist personally.

Buying direct from the artist — at least this artist — saves you money. AND you can communicate with the artist personally.

From tea we went to all sorts of products, and now, a significant amount of our monthly purchases are made online through the Internet.

So what about fine art? Can you successfully purchase it over the Internet?

Given that we sell Steve’s paintings online, I would say, “Yes, definitely, depending from whom you are purchasing.” In the same way that I was ecstatic over my tea purveyor’s selection, quality, and customer service, we at Steve Henderson Fine Art take seriously these same elements:

1) We have a wide selection of artwork, in various prices, from which to choose. From originals to limited edition prints to posters, we span the price range and meet any budget.

2) The quality of Steve’s work — both of the actual artwork and the materials upon which it rests — is superb.

3) We stand behind everything we sell, from a PDF Article Booklet to an original painting.

4) We work as closely with our clients as they wish — each and every purchase made through the Buy Now Button is inidividually acknowledged, and clients are given detailed information as to when and how their product will be shipped. Many of our clients who purchase originals or limited edition prints communicate with us back and forth via e-mail or phone (and we now have the option to Skype), and we ensure that their questions are answered to their satisfaction — before, during, and after the sale.

5) For those people who wonder, “Who are you, anyway? How do I know it’s safe to buy through the individual artist as opposed to a ‘real’ gallery?” we willingly provide business and character references. You will not offend us by asking.

As you will see by reading Our Prices, one of the best things about buying directly from the artist — at least this artist — is that you do not pay the extra price to cover the gallery’s commission, which is frequently 50 percent of the painting’s sale price. Buying direct, in this case, really does save money.

Please feel free to contact us anytime at Carolyn@SteveHendersonFineArt.com.

Compensating

20 Feb

Last week we talked about parallel parking a car — or in my case, not parallel parking the thing — and how, if we don’t know a specific skill, we can frequently compensate by doing things another way.

Are you afraid of hands, feet, or faces? You don't have to be. Grace by Steve Henderson

Are you afraid of hands, feet, or faces? You don’t have to be. Grace by Steve Henderson

But sometimes, compensating doesn’t work, and if you, in your artwork, have reached the point of frustration that you just can’t draw a human figure to look like something other than a space alien, of if your still-life flowers look dead, or whatever it is that is driving you to distraction, then it’s time to admit that you don’t know how to do this, what you’ve been doing up to this point isn’t working, and it’s time to move forward in the matter.

So, where do you move?

The initial solution is to take a class, but there are lots of other options. My favorite, hands down, is finding an artist whose work you like and asking him or her if they will 1) teach you or 2) review your work and give some suggestions, this latter being called a consultation.

Before we move on, let me talk about that word “giving” back there, as in “giving some suggestions.”

By all means, plan to pay this artist for his or her time; many artists offer classes or portfolio reviews, and the best way to find out if the artist you’re interested in does this kind of thing is to ask.

Can you afford this? Yeah, probably. We’ll talk about this next week.

We do consultations and online lessons at Steve Henderson Fine Art, and as with everything we do, we customize, communicate, and keep flexible.