Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flipping For Flagler Art Fest - PART 2

We spend two hours wandering the cold, cement floors of Home Depot for so long our brains hurt, our legs are limping and our wallets are twitching. We look at "chicken wire" fencing, wood slats, wall boards, particle board, even doors and shelving. I then went down the paint aisle and found cheap canvas drop cloths and thought I might be able to cobble something together and decided it would be best if I first went back to the studio and drew up a visual to our "plan c" - creating display walls for inside the tent to properly and professionally hang my paintings.

It also helped to do this after I saw the tent in person and talked it over with the tent owners and they thought the idea seemed feasible. With a new lack of confidence I return to Home Depot. I first head to the wood section and decide to use the wood I typically buy to use as cradles for the wood panels I occasionally paint on. The rationale here is I can re-use them so whatever they cost could be absorbed under normal business supplies.

I then have them all cut in half to 48" long, thinking two per 10' wall, and so they will fit into my car. I'm not aware at the time but this turns out to be a mistake.

Next, I head for the hardware aisles and find these large, rubber coated "bike hooks" that seem perfect so they won't harm the tent I'm borrowing and seem strong enough to hold the weight. I decide to ask "one of the guys" what they think about using them with the wood I've just had cut. He advises that they are too wide for the wood and says when I screw them into the wood it will split the wood. Almost guaranteed. But I could give it a try if I drill a starter hold first. Sigh. I decide to risk it.

I also wandered around, list in hand, and picked up a new staple gun, a canister of plastic cable ties (always great to have on hand vs bungee cords) and a case of water (hey, it was really cheap). In total, I spend $150 on supplies!?! Remember, this is the same number we would pay to rent really nice, sturdy panels and included in the price was delivery, set up and break down. Geesh! What am I doing?!?

The fun really gets started when I get back to the studio:

#1) I cut the 4' wide x 15' canvas cloths to create three 4 x 5' panels and discover they aren't really 48" wide as they won't completely cover the wood. So I adjust and rationalize that it won't look that bad, the wood is at least white to match the tent and decide I can deal with it.

#2) I then begin to screw in the large bike hooks and gee, after the first two they seem to work just fine! Then with the third one....yes, the wood starts to split. I adjust by turning the boards and screwing them into the "wider" side. It works but still shows signs of splitting. I have no idea if it will hold the weight, if the boards will break after I hang them but I decide to press on. Stubborn, but determined.

#3) For stability and to have something to hang my paintings on I attach the wood slats to the back of the canvas every 20" using the staple gun. I have no idea if I am placing the wood in the proper locations as I have not planned out where I want to hang each painting and I really have no idea if the canvas will hold but when I'm done with the first of six panels I plan to build but I'm exhausted and thinking it doesn't look all that bad...and sit down. Big mistake. I went home.

The next day I built one more (and realize I am short three large hooks) and started in on the framing using a hand saw and a plastic miter. I framed three pieces and then ran out of brads, so I sat down. Then I went home.

It's now Thursday. I have three days to build five more of these panels, six more paintings to frame  and make at least one more trip to Home Depot. Not to mention all the packing and lugging and unpacking. But hey, I'm still in the game and will keep giving it my all.

Please, if you're in the area this Sunday, do come to the Flagler Fine Arts Festival in Flagler Beach, FL (it's at the park at the intersection of A1A and Rt 100 in the center of town) between 10AM and 4PM to see how this all plays out.  I will be the one sleeping standing up against her tent trying to ensure it doesn't fly away.


UPDATE: I was not able to attend the first Flagler Art Festival due to a family emergency but will be there on Sunday, March 17 (St Patrick's Day!) from 10 - 4pm. Stop by! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Flipping For Flagler Fine Arts Fest - PART 1

Never afraid of a challenge I decided to participate in this Sunday's Flagler Fine Arts Festival. Mainly because I love Flagler Beach, am fond of and trust the festival director and, knowing my mother used to do this almost every weekend during her Cape Cod summers, I wanted to give it a try. I mean, how awesome to hold an art event directly across from the ocean, on a Sunday, in the heart of one of the best small towns in America, FLAGLER BEACH!?! Yessir, I thought, I'm in! Oh wait, it's outside?! Will I need a tent? Doh!

And so I begin to open the door to my studio just a bit and share some of the funny and just plain stupid things I am doing to prepare. Let's start with the easy stuff - just two, very simple things....

#1 - Getting A Tent 
No, it's not mandatory but gee you do want to look like a professional, right? I first went to The Flagler Fine Arts Festival website and found a vast amount of helpful information and options. Then I went on Craigslist and looked for used tents and was immediately met with a) sticker shock and b) shock at how quickly they sell. Three tents I bookmarked were gone the very next day. But because of the price and the fact that I have no idea if this is something I want to do beyond this event, I decided not to buy one anyway.

The good news is a very close friend said she spoke to a mutual friend who has a Trim Line tent (see photo) and was willing to let me borrow it for the day. Yeah! So I replied to the Festival director that I would commit. I mean, hey, I have a tent! No worries!

#2 - Displaying My Paintings
The tent is absolutely gorgeous and looks even better than the one in the photo as it has stabilizer bars (we learn why) and "windows" front and back (again, we learn why in a bit). There is just one small problem: she used the tent to sell her handmade jewelry and thus does not have any of the professional "walls" that you buy to put inside these tents to professionally display your paintings. So, back to Craigslist I went only to find the "mesh" walls and other alternatives I had bookmarked a few days ago only to discover that these, too were also all...sold! So on to plan B = renting panels.

Another artist friend said she was looking at panels to rent the next day and offered that I go with her and maybe we could share the expected cost of $150.  We met at the woman's very organized garage  filled with boxes, tools and supplies used during her twenty years of being on the art show circuit. We are thirsty for information and pepper her with questions and feel like complete dorks at our lack of knowledge. As she talks though we immediately pick up that she loved the vagabond life and learn that she made a great living at it (she's a photographer). And our ears perk up when she talks about a few disasters when "other people" didn't know they needed stabilizer bars, heavy weights and room for the wind to flow the walls and one time a few tents were picked up by the wind and flew like tents through a crowded show injuring others and destroying artwork and then she stops abruptly and asks, where's your festival again? Is it windy there?  Gulp. It's right next to the ocean!?  The silence swung between us like sheets on a clothesline.

We leave this wonderful woman's home feeling more overwhelmed yet after looking at the pro panels we are filled with confidence that we can build something on our own and for a lot less. So we head directly to plan C...Home Depot. Stay tuned! Part two to follow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's Old is New Again

"Five" 48 x 48" Oil on Canvas, 2010 (c) christine sullivan

Not only is it already FEBRUARY but this Saturday, February 9th, marks the 4th year of Hollingsworth Gallery's SECCA Member's Exhibition (Southeast Coalition of Contemporary Artists). I remember all to well Hollingsworth's 1st members show as it was also my very first show. I had been working on the above painting in my very public, shared open studio space in what is now Hollingsworth's "teaching studio." People were frequently coming and going so of course I received, solicited and not, lots of input as to what it had and what it lacked. I laugh now and wonder if each of the brush strokes making up the abstract cloud  represent the comments I was getting...or possibly how it left me feeling. I was terrified at the time to have it in the show while also feeling good that it was accepted.

And it makes me laugh thinking, "who dives into oil and abstract painting for the first time with a few 48 x 48" canvases??!!" It was all I wanted to do. Many of my paintings from "back then"were painting mainly with my hands and often included a broad or narrow strip of solid color on the bottom, top or side. I was also glazing (the orange) a lot and adding sand paint or raw pigment to the under painting as I just loved experimenting with techniques and textures. Still do. 

Rogue, 12 x 9" Oil on Canvas. 2010. Private Collection.
Here is the other painting that I had in the show.  I remember well the Sunday I painted it.  I was in the studio alone and struggling. I kept painting the cloud and wiping it off, painting and wiping it off and while I was wiping the paint off (I was using my hands and a small rag) I discovered that I was able to work on the shape of the clouds so much easier with my hands and a rag than with the brush...and this small act was a huge learning moment. Between the mixing, the wiping and the thinning of the pigment I had found an application process I really liked. I kept going and finished the bottom part of the painting... also with my hands. Even that small wipe of red was marked with red paint on the tip of my finger. I think it was also one of the first times I realized that two hours in the studio alone on a Sunday was equivalent to about 8 hours of work during the regular busy studio hours and shortly afterwards I moved into my own, private studio. 

Funny, I recently started painting with my hands again, and I love it. Now I remember why. Sometimes you just need to look back to keep moving forward. 

--------------------------  EVENT SCHEDULE / UPCOMING SHOWS ---------------------

SATURDAY, FEB 9th, 6 - 9 PM
Reception kicks off at 6pm with wine, 
light eats and a relaxing balcony to enjoy 
the sunset with your friends. 
As always it's free and open to the public.
Hope to see you there!

SUNDAY, FEB 17th, 10 AM - 4 PM
Veteran's Park, Flagler Beach, FL

Please come out to the beach, Flagler Beach that is, for the inaugural outdoor fine arts festival where I and many other fine artists will be showing and selling our works. This ocean front park is in the heart of the best little small town in the nation, conveniently located at the corner of Rt 100 and A1A. Plenty of FREE parking and free admission as well. Hope to see you there! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

When You're In The Off Season

"Off Season" 24 x 30" Oil on Canvas, (c) Christine Sullivan 2013
When I enter my studio these days I still enter with excitement over the fact that a) I have a studio and b) I love to paint. It is that simple. Even on those days when the painting isn't going well and I leave feeling battered and bruised I still return with that same joy, filled with anticipation of what could happen today. Now. With this canvas. Or that one. 

Yes, it has only been three years. And yes I still have much to learn. And yes, yes, yes I have been struggling and juggling these past few months. But really, when it comes down to it, I think how great it is that art is in my life. And that I have many art friends. And that all I need to do is jump into a museum or stop into an artist's studio on you tube to visually see what others are doing and find a small nugget that leads me on another path or gives me a new entry point to where I want to be going. Which is simply to "get better." 

And I realize, too, that one of the best parts of being on this creative journey is in the not-knowing. Someone once said to me, "Christine, how boring would it be if you knew what it was going to look like before you began?!?" There is truth in those words. But when you're out on the tight-rope you do hope that there is a "there" there. And so you just keep painting. At least that's where I'm at now. I am aware I am leaving some old habits behind, replacing them with better or more updated practices. And I am aware that I am in search mode for where this is all leading. But at the same time, or at least for the "now," I am okay with being lost in the forest and enjoying the smell of the pines and the faint sounds of a nearby stream. Because I am in it and trust that I will find "my way." 

If any of this makes sense to you I'll be amazed but I just wanted to write it down. Share it with you. And hope that you, too, understand and trust yourself to just keep going, keep moving forward and know that the joy is in the journey moreso then the end result. As long as you trust that it is there, within you, and that you continue to...Brush On!