Sunday, July 13, 2008

What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

"Rainy Day Aspens"
Oil on Panel

I know I say this a lot, but things have been crazy busy lately. When things are busy, it's always a good thing from a business standpoint, so I can't complain, but it's leaving me with very little free time!

It's tourist season in the Colorado Rockies, which is prime selling time for the galleries in mountain resort towns, meaning that I feel the need to keep them all stocked as well as I can for the next couple of months. That means no finished paintings sitting in the studio gathering dust. It also means I'm framing and sending things out the door a few days after I finish them. Which means a bit of added stress and a lot of me running around acting frazzled all the time... Making a living as an artist can be hard work!

In addition, I'm doing a mentorship program with painter Jay Moore for the next six months, which means I'm driving down to Denver every other Monday, and doing lots of homework in the two week periods in between. There are seven other artists in the program, and I can already tell it's going to be a HUGE learning opportunity for me, so I'm totally excited. I'm also a tad bit overwhelmed trying to figure out how the heck I'm going to find time to do everything.

I usually have two full days to paint while Aspen is in daycare, plus another half or full day that she spends playing with Grandma. I do a lot of my business stuff/framing/painting prep during her naptimes on other days and after she goes to bed every night so that I can spend her awake hours with her. Now I'm going to be using a lot of that time doing work for the mentorship. I think I'm going to be cutting out all of my wasted TV/reading/relaxing time for the next few months...

I'm also trying to figure out some new framing options. I usually use ready-made frames, but I'm getting to a point where they're a bit cheap for my price level, and other artists at my level are using custom frames. It's presentation issue, and I love the quality of a good custom frame, but I'm a procrastinator at heart, and tend to order frames at the last minute, making ordering custom difficult since the wait is often close to four weeks. I'm starting to realize that I need to bite the bullet and start to build a bit of an inventory of standard size custom frames, so that I have them when I need them. I'm crazy cheap, so shelling out the bucks for a bunch of frames is a stretch for me, but I've got to do it at this point.

So, I'm a little bit overwhelmed right now, but also excited because I feel like the next few months will be a good push to take my work to a new level. It'll be a lot of work, but it'll be worth it in the end, and luckily I happen to love my job so it should be fun along the way.

In other news, Aspen has learned the word "paint" and likes to come out to my studio and paint on my paintings (of course, I only let her do this in the beginning stages). Every time she walks by the door, she says, "Mommy paint!" - cute, no?


  1. ooh, i really like this one! call me next time you're in town!

  2. Wow, time juggling is a hard act.

    I know artists who hire part-time assistants, at a reasonably low wage, to help with the framing, packaging and shipping. When you figure in the cost of your lost productive time doing these tasks yourself, it might be worth a try. College students are always looking for part-time jobs.

    About framing. I visited the OPA national show in Montana last month. I would guess that half or more of the works were in good quality ready-made frames. Many looked like frames from The price points for all the paintings were is a very nice range, and the presentation was very pleasing. I sure would have been proud to have my work in that good company. Maybe next year :).

    I find that the quality of some ready-mades are better and more suitable for the art than custom frames. Also, to go to a framer, select the right frames stock, negotiate the price (buying on hand stock at a lower price or ordering stock) and pick up the finished frames is way too frustrating and time consuming for me. I know I cannot handle adding more tasks into my schedule. Plus, bottom line, in this business, time IS money.

    As always, I look forward to hearing what you do. You seem to always make the right choice.

  3. Michael - I agree, what I frame my paintings in currently is what 75% of artists in the OPA show use for frames as well. It's more of a gallery presentation issue. I'm in a few galleries that have very high end artists who frame extremely well, and the ready-made frames just don't look as "expensive" next to theirs! When I say "custom" frames I don't mean going down to the frame shop and picking out moulding. I use a couple of custom framers who cut and finish frames exactly to my specs with hand-applied metal/gold leaf and hand-rubbed finishes. They really do look nice - just a bit more pricey! I'll do another post on framing once I get some custom frames in that I can show for comparison...

  4. I'm no artist, but Josh use to make his own frames pretty easily....