Tag Archives: art

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.

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

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!

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.

What Parallel Parking Has to Do with Your Art

16 Feb

Okay, I’m going to share with you my dirty little secret:

I can’t parallel park a car.

Lots and lots of space -- that's what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Lots and lots of space — that’s what I need when I parallel park a car. Diaphanous by Steve Henderson

Well, I can parallel park a car as long as I’ve got three blank spaces, in a pinch two, and it helps that I drive a Honda Fit. But for the most part I’m willing to drive blocks out of the way and walk, or slip into a diagonal space, or let the Norwegian Artist drive when we’re in the city and masterfully fit that hunk of metal (the car, not the Norwegian) into the allotted space.

In other words, I compensate for my lack of ability.

Ideally, I would learn how to parallel park, which is what our two youngest teenagers are doing with the Norwegian Artist this year before they take their licensing test, but that would mean hours of practicing with the Norwegian, and I’d really just rather spend the time knitting socks.

Because, compensating works.

It doesn’t always, you know — if my problem involved driving skills, say, like the inability to make a right turn without banging into the curb, then I’d need to work on things, but if I can get by — as I have for 35 years — without parallel parking and I’m not hurting anybody and nobody’s yelling at me — then I do, and focus my energy on difficult things that I need to learn and I can’t compensate for.

So it is with painting — some techniques you may never get — something to do with color or brushwork or the ability to draw hands so that they don’t look like elephant feet — and you compensate, by never showing hands, for instance.

As long as this works, it works, and you develop your style by compensating around what you cannot do. The key is determining just how important the technique you can’t do is, and making a decision about it.

More on this next week . . .

I know you’re probably an artist, but, interestingly, artists are some of our best clients. If you like Steve’s work, we’ve set up a number of affordable ways to make it yours — our originals are reasonably priced, our signed limited edition prints are archival quality, and our inspirational posters are uber, uber affordable. This is our philosophy on how we price our paintings. Write us — we answer every e-mail — carolyn@stevehendersonfineart.com.

Do It Your Way

1 Feb

It’s good to learn from others — we all do. Whether we’re reading books, taking classes, or talking one on one with another, we increase our knowledge base when we ask questions and, most importantly, listen to the answers.

And then, the crucial thing is to take what we learn each day and apply it to our unique and specific situation. Too many artists — and writers, and people in general — hang on to every word of the chosen “expert” in their field, slavishly copying what the master does or believes in the effort to reproduce the look of the person they admire.

I Do It My Way poster by Steve Henderson

I Do It My Way poster available at Steve Henderson Fine Art

It’s more important that we hone our skills and abilities — and along with that our confidence — so that we can take what we learn to create the best that we, individually, are capable of producing. And if we’re doing it right, our artwork won’t look like anybody else’s — it will look like ours, because we see through our eyes, make decisions based upon our experience, and create in accordance with our passion.

We do it our way, individually, and the more confident we are in our skills and ability, the more sure our steps as we walk our path.

If you’re missing the basics and that’s always made you feel bad, then act — figure out a way to learn those basics and get them behind you already. If you’re beyond the basics but admire someone else’s work immensely, then study that work and see why it impacts you so much. Think, analyze, question, experiment, move.

Great artists get that way because they’re learning, and painting, all the time.

Automobiles and Fine Art Paintings — What Do They Have in Common?

11 Oct

I love my Honda Fit. And while that may seem to have nothing to do with art, actually, it does.

Color, light, energy, joy — paintings provide those — and who of us can’t use more color, light, energy and joy in our lives? Promenade by Steve Henderson

You see, I drive my Honda Fit, everywhere, and in the process of its being used, it gets dusty, the tires see some wear, the interior windows next to where the Toddler sits get coated with whatever sticky stuff she’s got on her hands and smears onto the glass. (I know. I don’t want to know much more than that, either.)

Honestly, if I kept my Honda Fit inside the garage and never drove it for, say, 10 years, it would look exactly the way it did the day I bought it, and I could resell it — maybe at a profit — because it would be such a great investment!

But you know, people don’t buy cars to keep as investments. They buy them to drive in them, and when it’s the right car, like my cute, sassy, blazing barbecue orange Honda Fit, they enjoy the process.

If more people thought about art this way, more people would own, and enjoy paintings. But all of a sudden, when people look at a painting, they go into this “I Must Make a Profit on This Investment Mode” — even if what they’re looking at is a limited edition print for $80. Somehow, they tell themselves, if they purchase this, they need to be able to resell it, ten years down the road, for $200, because that’s what you do with art — you buy it as an investment.

Art adds that extra special joy to our lives. Seaside Story by Steve Henderson.

What a sad, limited world view, one that keeps people from renovating their aesthetic lives and their home’s walls. The best reason to buy art is because you like it, because when you see the painting or the print it makes you happy, because you want it, because — like my Honda Fit — it’s smart, sassy, sophisticated, and fun — in short, that painting is You.

Enjoy driving your car — it’s a marvel of technology. Drink the wine that you like — red, white, blush — because only you have your unique palate. And buy art because you like it. Any other reason is less than the best.

Being Human, and All That

17 Sep

“You know, it’s not a sin to make mistakes, fail to succeed on the first (or 45th) try, or generally show that we’re imperfect. The unspoken strictures that some businesses/churches/schools/establishments place upon their members/employees make following the 10 Commandments look pretty darn easy.”

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art

Materials aren’t free and time is precious — that being said, if more artists would worry less about creating the perfect painting and more about experimenting and getting better at what they do, then they would sooner reach a consistency of quality and create paintings with which they are delighted, time after time.

But if you skip that stage — that practicing and trying and saying, “Oh, what the heck; if I don’t like it, I’m out a little paint, the canvas, some time — but I’ve gained in experience and wisdom” — then you’ll find that you’re so worried about perfection, that you never achieve it.

Each painting is a new opportunity to walk along your path of growth as an artist. Promenade by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art

There are enough people in our lives expecting unrealistic things of us, that we don’t have to be one of them. Falling down isn’t failure. Trying and not getting it quite right isn’t tragedy. Doing something completely different, just because, isn’t a waste of time.

Go for it. Grab a different brush. Use a color you usually avoid. Shake around your subject matter. Play with your paint and see where it takes you on the next step of your journey.

Frustration

2 Aug

“Frustration isn’t always such a bad thing. It’s a sign that you’re trying something new, different, or outside your level of familiarity, and in working your way through it (and you will) you conquer this challenge and move on to the next one.”

— From Start Your Week with Steve free weekly e-mail newsletter

Conquering frustration is a liberating feeling. Ocean Breeze — available as a signed, limited edition print, framed and unframed. Our goal is to get art into real people’s homes.

One of the most satisfying things I do is teaching another person how to knit. And every time I do so, I conclude the lesson with this encouragement:

“You’ve just learned. While knitting is fairly simple, consisting of basically two stitches — a knit stitch and a purl stitch — until you practice, and do it over and over and over, you will not get good.

“And in the process of practicing, and learning how to be good, you will find that you forget some things, or that your knitting looks uneven, or that you drop stitches and you don’t know how to get back. And you will get frustrated.

“Not only is this normal, but this is good, and if you’re not getting frustrated, then you’re probably not pushing yourself beyond your existing skill.

“You are not stupid. You are not unusual. You are not weird. You are normal.

“You are above normal when you accept the challenge, fight it, and win.

“Now — go and knit.”

This same advice applies in anything you do, including and especially including artwork such as painting or sculpture. You won’t get better if you don’t do it a lot; and if you do it a lot, you can expect to get frustrated.

So, go get frustrated.

What’s It Like Living with an Artist?

6 Jul

Launching the Ordinary Life Is Beautiful Series, Life Is a Gift features 30 short, upbeat essays by Carolyn Henderson, manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. Steve’s paintings illustrate each story. Carolyn talks about her Norwegian Artist, their Progeny, and the rotating assortment of animals on their studio farm. For $2.99, it makes great summer reading by the pool, as long as you don’t drop the e-reader into the water.

The link on the image will take you to Amazon Books, where you  may read the first few chapters of the book for free. Compatible on Kindle, IPad, and IPod. If you do not have any of these devices, you may download an app through Amazon to view the book on your computer.