Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art Contests - a rant of sorts

Uptown Glassworks
12 x 18 soft pastels on Kitty Wallis white
by Miki Willa
Plein Air Painting

" Create an art piece between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on August 22, 2009 in the Art Walk vicinity."
How would you interpret that? These were the instructions for a "Quick draw" contest held in conjunction with an art show this past weekend. While my husband, our son and his wife set up and manned our area, I set up my easel to do a painting of a local landmark "in the Art Walk vicinity." I had a great time painting this wonderful old building, working on perspective, and trying to make it look the way I wanted it to look. After a few hours, I felt it was done and got it ready to enter into the auction and contest. We framed it in the prepared frame we brought for just this painting. I took it down to the entry table to turn it in. I should have suspected something was amiss when the people manning the table had no idea what they were to do with the painting.
It turns out I really misinterpreted the rules for the contest. "In the Art Walk vicinity" meant only that you had to paint whatever you painted in the area that day, but it really didn't matter what you painted. It didn't have to have any relationship to the area whatsoever. I don't mind not winning art contests as long as I feel that the same criteria have been applied to every entry. Perhaps I should have verified exactly what they meant. Now, I can see just how vague the statement is. I also didn't realize that friendship counted. Being new in the area, I haven't established friendships in the local arts groups. Oh well, live and learn.
We will be moving on from the venues in this area. There is a good market there for our son's glass art, but none for our pastel art. It will take time to learn about the local market. In Hawai'i, people bought art with different things in mind than people in the PNW, it seems. It also doesn't help that the economy is affecting art purchases. I have observed that art that serves a second purpose is more marketable right now.
In the meantime, I will add the painting of Uptown Glassworks to my glass making series. I have a nice collection of Hugh's glass, and Tom hung some of the paintings above the mantle where a few pieces are displayed. I like the way it looks as it is all tied together. While I had a difficult time with the contest, I had a wonderful day painting and adding to this series.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Patterns in Wood, Art Shows

Door in the Wall
14 x 20 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
by Miki Willa
There is an old lumber complex on Lake Washington near the southeast end of the lake. For years there were log booms in the lake where the mill got its raw materials. Later, it was occupied by a wood product manufacturer. Now, it is abandoned. On a recent artist field trip, Tom and I found ourselves wandering these premises to gather reference photos. As we were walking back to the car, I caught sight of this door in the middle of a wall created with concrete and varying wood panels. The window panes in the door reflected the bright sun that was out that day. I fell in love with the colors, shapes and patterns on this wall. I loved the patterns in the wood and the concrete and how they worked against each other. I really liked the brilliance of the reflection in the windows. I relished the challenge of capturing all of this in pastel.
I started this painting by blocking out the shapes. Then I added the darks in the woods so the grain would work. I added lighter values as I came to the surface of the wood in places where the lighter grain showed. I added the door and the light fixture to the left of the door last. I pushed some of the colors to capture the emotions I had when I first saw this wall, especially in the windows. I am happy with this work.
We have done three art shows this spring and summer and have been very disappointed at the outcome. It is hard not to think negative thoughts about my art at this point. I know the economy is not in the right place for people to be buying art that does not serve another function, like serving bowls or quilts. That doesn't help at the moment. Another problem has been the venue in two of them and the timing in one. That, also, does not help. We have two more shows coming up. I am working on being optimistic about both of them. One of them is part of a show billed as an art show. The second one is in an area where I know quite a few people. There is a lesson to be learned in all of this, or probably many lessons. One of them has to be about marketing. Hopefully, I will figure it all out soon and the next shows will be better.
The next show is in downtown Renton, The Arts and Antique Walk. It is next Saturday, August 22. We are on Third Ave. in front of A-1 Locks, across the street from the Western Store.
On September 12 and 13, we will be in Lake Boren Park at Return to Newcastle Days. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.