...from those who have been there...

Helpful Hint by Brenda Stevens, watercolorist
If you strive for cleaner colors and less mud, restrict your palette. Mix your own colors and rely less on the
manufacturer's mix. Infinite hues can be achieved with carefully chosen primaries. Choose cool primaries
(example: alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow pale) to make a cool color, and warm primaries
(example: scarlet lake, Prussian blue, new gamboge) to make a warm color. Experiment. Keep a color journal.
Study the chart provided by the manufacturer to learn which colors are transparent or opaque, staining or easy to
lift. Make a color wheel; it is one of the simplest and most effective exercises you can use to learn basic color

We all need every bit and snippet of other's experiences with the arts..... even then we may not have the "right"
advice for another creative spirit who most certainly must learn to walk in his very own shoes. During my early
years "following the sun", I took my children with me to help when I did portrait sketches. Since each sketch might
take ten to twenty minutes, and mothers with small children would grow impatient standing in line .. my three
helped in the following way:

The youngest drew, cut up, and posted, the "take a number" system... and would round up the next in line if they'd
wandered off to browse. My middle child would gather all the little ones to play games and keep them entertained,
or take them to the rest room or fetch them water ... so by the time I got them, they were ready to sit still! My eldest
would handle the money, roll up the finished sketch, and attach my card. We remember these times very
positively, and I know I couldn't have done but one-third the business without them!

Oh yes -- and keep your day job!

I wish I had known that other artists were kind and generous people. I would look at Allison Christie, Wyndall
Taylor, Tony Mani, Nell Johnson, Nell Spettel, Mollie Mealing and other art legends of our community in complete

I never ventured to ask them anything about art because I felt they were icons in the art world and would never be
approachable. Now I know different. These artists shared ideas, feelings and their knowledge of art with me. I
learned that no matter how much of a beginner you are or how renown you are, there is a kindred spirit among
artists, so don't be afraid to ask questions of the "Masters".

I think the things I want to know most about art is (1) comparative framing, reproducing and art supplies -- finding
out who has the best prices and services, and (2) Who, what, when and where are local or not so local artists
teaching classes or providing instruction on their particular medium(s).

If your brushes are out of shape, clean them with a good brush cleaner and hot water. While the brushes are still
damp, rub them over the glue section of an envelope, leaving the glue on the brushes to help reshape them.
Before painting, rinse the brushes to remove the water-soluble glue.

I cover my acrylic paintings with clear plastic coating upon completion of the work. It protects from splatters of just
about anything. Those large, heavy carrying envelopes are convenient for transporting paintings, and easier than
wrapping each one in bubble-wrap. They aren't cheap, but are very durable.

Secrets for Successful Sales:

Decide that you want to do a show and do it. It does take a certain amount of courage to show your work the first
time. We all had our first show, and you will find that fellow artists are more than willing to help.
You really don't need a large inventory or expensive set up with which to start. A couple of nice pictures on an
easel will be just fine.
No matter what -- rain, wind, cold, hot, no sales, no ribbons -- something good comes from every show you do.... a
future sale..... a friendship..... an idea ... don't give up.
On the average, artists do not become famous overnight. People do not know your art work. Keep doing shows
and get to know the business. Be patient .. it takes a long time to establish a good reputation.
Always be dependable, consistent, and never stop studying, learning and trying a new idea.
Don't try to copy what your neighbor sells. We all have our own niche. Paint from your heart, paint what you know
and love. That love will be reflected in your painting and someone else will love it too.
Respect your fellow artists. Don't be afraid to recommend someone else to do a job. Don't try to capture the
world....... if someone wants you to paint a monkey, say, "I'm sorry, I don't paint monkeys, but Alice is great with
animals". You will be establishing a reliable reputation for yourself!
Take pride in your work, whether it is 3 pieces or 300. Always have proper frames or mats or whatever. It doesn't
have to be overly expensive to be neat and properly presented.
when someone purchases your artwork they are buying a part of your spirit. Hopefully, it will be a part of their life
for years to come and they will always think of you when they see it.
Make good memories!

Weigh down or tie down your racks and easels, even if you're under the cover of a tent!

Keep Everything Simple!

When doing your first show, choose a single medium or related subjects exhibit. Even though you may be well
versed in many mediums, subjects or styles -- it will come across looking chaotic to viewers.

Simple matting or framing presents a uniform, professional look. Unadorned frames with a single color mat look
very professional, and is also often less expensive. Most art buyers will put their own frame on the pieces anyway.
There is no way to guess what type of frame everyone will like. This is a great way to save you some time and
money! Buy wholesale if you can.

Wrap your framed artwork in old pillowcases or sheets cut and sewn to fit your work. Make slipcovers from sheets
that are on clearance at retail stores. Whether you are traveling downtown or across the country, this will help
prevent them from getting damaged or scratching other pieces with edges or wires. This is also great for storing
them too! Make labels of what is inside the covers with a marker on tape, or mailing labels. Include the size on the
cover too for future reference. You could also use then as bags, when someone purchases the piece to help
insure its safe trip home.

Pricing is hard for all of us. Go to similar shows or galleries that have work comparable to yours and set your
prices accordingly. Don't price yourself too high. Pricing too low is not a way to guarantee sales either; people
want value and to know that they have made a good investment in your work.

Keep records of your work, what size, medium, and who purchases it with their address. This will help you come up
with a mailing list for future shows. Send out cards to let people know where you'll be showing and invite them to
come see your new work.

Limit your palette and know your values. Many times we get involved with our paintings and too many colors can
create a chaotic look. Feeling frustrated, we may add an area of red, when it really needed was more emphasis
with a darker value of the color you were already using. Once you know values (steps of grays from dark to light)
and are comfortable with those, choosing the right colors comes next. If your values are right on, the painting is
more cohesive.

Study, Study, Study!! Keep pushing yourself to grow as an artist, and never be satisfied with mediocrity. Know that
it's not always easy, and at times frustrating. Just when you think a piece or an idea isn't coming together,
suddenly it does. Take Classes, Workshops, join art groups and organizations. Not only will you learn from the
instructors, but others in the classes as well. It is a great motivational boost -- an opportunity to exchange ideas,
problems or successes! Don't be intimidated -- everyone else is there to learn too, and are probably just as
nervous as you are! Remember that everyone had to begin somewhere. Keep in mind that some have been doing
their work for many years. Find someone that you admire, past or present, and study his or her work. Look at their
earlier work if possible. Most importantly, don't compare your work to others, but with your own. See how you've
grown -- look at older work of your and compare it with pieces you've done recently. Keep a notebook of your
work, record the size and medium of each piece, and include a small snapshot to jog your memory. Include notes
about your ideas; what new technique or color you tried, what you liked about it, what you would do differently the
next time.

Listen to your emotions, feelings and thoughts about your subject. Try to capture the experience in your painting,
not just copying each detail exactly. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in your piece before your
begin. If it isn't clear in your head, it will come out that way on the paper or canvas! At the same time be aware of
things that change from your original idea and go with them! Splatters, drips, smears and sunbursts can be a
great surprise and also ad energy to your work. Relax and let the process happen. Love what you do, it will show
more than anything else!

Be a shopper as well as an exhibitor. Look at the other art as though you were in a boutique. If you find something
you really like, buy it if you can. Small pieces from bins can turn out very nice when framed. Sometimes artists will
trade with you -- one of theirs for one of yours. You have now begun your collection of "local" art, and a special
memory to go with each piece you acquire. You can't get the memories or meet the artist at the local discount
store. If you can't buy a piece, observe the marketing techniques; take note of what you like or don't like and why.
Use this information in your next show.



What does that mean? If you're looking for instant recognition, you could develop a "shtick" like the guy who paints
nothing but cartoon dogs with big round eyes. Cute and funny, but it must get awfully boring. You all know who I
mean, but can you remember the guy's name? Another approach is to specialize, i.e., paint in only one genre--
portraits, still lifes, landscapes, non-objective, etc. To some, that's too limiting or confining, while to others it
provides focus and simplifies life. It boils down to what your motivation is for being in art, and if you don't have a
ready answer to that question, it's probably time for some soul searching. One touchstone is that as you learn,
grow, and develop your creative powers, there should be a discernible unique quality that identifies your work,
even when you experiment with varied genres or media. You don't need a gimmick for this to happen. The main
ingredients are dedication and honesty. I can truly say that there are several local artists whose work that I can
spot that proverbial mile away, regardless of the genre, medium, color scheme or compositional mode they
choose. And I mean that statement as a supreme compliment! I just hope that whatever you are doing, it gives you
enjoyment and fulfillment. That is the bottom line in art.

Helpful Hints

Copyright © 2017 by Lois Tryon - All Rights Reserved