One Dozen Butterflies!

I need your help! The call for art for the next Trillium Gallery show is coming up soon. We are hoping that this show gets good traffic. It will hang during The Nature Foundations annual Wildflower Symposium. It will also be up during the Wintergreen Music Festival in July. I wanted to include something nature oriented, so I decided on butterflies.

I have this frame that it long and thin that I bought because I always need long thin frames for landscapes. This particular frame came with a mat cut for three 5×7 photos. I thought what I could do was put three small butterfly paintings in the frame together. Here is a photo of the frame.

With that thought in mind I started painting butterflies, and I painted a dozen of them. I played with different techniques. Most are watercolor and ink. Some fill the page and others do not. Some have spatter, a technique common in watercolor, but I’m just starting to experiment with it. I want to include the three best, and then I will turn the rest into cards and will try to sell them.

Here’s where my readers come in. Please vote for your three favorite butterflies from the 12 I have posted below (they are numbered). I’m very curious to hear your likes and dislikes for my learning process. You can vote and provide feedback in the blog comments if that works for you. I will also post on Facebook and Instagram, so you can vote in the comments there. And you can also send me an email if you’d like. I will share the results if I get enough feedback. I think this will be fun! Thanks!

1. Monarch
2. Monarch
3. Monarch
4. Black Swallowtail
5. Yellow Swallowtail
6. Monarch
7. Monarch
8. Yellow Swallowtail
9. Monarch
10. Monarch
11. Monarch
12. Viceroy

Update: And the winners are 2, 6 and 8. Thanks to everyone who voted!

Online Art Sales

At shows, I sometimes have people ask me if they can buy my work online at a later time. I’ve also had distant friends ask if they can buy my art online. For a while I had a link to an Etsy store, but keeping it up to date was a chore. I’ve decided I need to have an online retail store, so I’ve built one. In some ways this terrifies me, because it feels like I’m opening a big can of worms.

When I started doing shows I signed up for a Square account so I could take credit cards. It has many other handy features like calculating and tracking sales tax, which is required at most shows. It’s worked very well for me.

My site is built using WordPress, and there is a plugin suite called WooCommerce that links your Square account with WordPress to allow online sales. I think I’ve got that set up. So, as of today, we are open for business. I have only put a subset of my available paintings in the shop. I will try to keep adding them to keep it fresh. I’ve also indicated that people should ask about availability if there is something that they like that’s not in the shop.

Right now I’ve limited my sales to the US. I may add Canada if it goes well. We shall see!

Mountain & Vine Artisan Show

I mentioned in my last post that I would be doing a show at Mountain & Vine, a local winery, on Saturday February 3rd from noon to 5. That’s tomorrow! In addition to the pieces I’ve shown in the past I will be showing some new paintings that I also shared in that last post, including this one.

I am also trying something new. I have a lot of nice artwork that I’ve never framed. Much of that is because I don’t have frames to fit. I have observed in past shows that people sometimes like to buy unframed art because it’s a little cheaper and they can use a frame they already have, or chose one to their liking. I also painted a few new pieces for this show that I chose not to frame. These will all be on display in a bin on my table in my booth. I am curious to see how people react to that. Here are a few photos. These were harder to photograph because they are in plastic and there is a glare if I light them directly.

These first two are things that I painted for this show and matted but did not frame.

These two were in a sketchbook but I like them. They are very tiny, but I removed them from their sketchbook and matted them and I think they are cute and would go well in a small space.

Finally, the opening of the second show in The Trillium Gallery went great! We got some fabulous artwork from our local art community. We had a wonderful turnout and sold four paintings! There is still a lot of good work up so hopefully sales will continue. This show will be up until late April or early May.

Gallery, Show, and Christmas Cards

Sorry it’s been a while, but I have been busy! Happy New Year to all.

First, the Trillium Gallery has been doing well. It’s had good traffic and we sold four paintings, which I think is not bad for a first show. We plan to rotate the work on display quarterly and that time is nearly upon us. We have grown our mailing list considerably by including a signup sheet in the gallery. We are taking submissions till tomorrow, and we already have 44 artworks to select from. We have refined our selection process and I’m really looking forward to presenting another strong body of work. The new show will open on January 27th. We have also worked on our branding and I created a logo, which is not my forte, but it came out okay.

I am doing a show the first week in February at the Mountain & Vine winery. This show is only open to Nelson County artists. I don’t know if I will sell anything but I’m proud to support the winery and other local artists. I’m doing something new for this one. I’m going to try including a bin of unframed original works that will be less expensive than my framed pieces. We will see how that goes. I have painted a few new pieces for this show, and for the next gallery show. Here are a few that I’ve recently completed.

Finally, every few years I get ambitious and decide I’m going to hand paint Christmas cards. Usually somewhere in the process I kick myself, but in the end, I look at it as a labor of love. I did 21 in total this year and it was really good for me to focus on painting that much. I got to experiment a bit with some new techniques. And the recipients were all very appreciative. Several have told me they plan to frame them. They are all included in the gallery below, which I learned does not appear in the email version. Hopefully people will click through.

Fall Foliage Art Show October 14th and 15th

I hope for those who are in Central Virginia that you can stop by the Fall Foliage Art Show presented by the Shenandoah Valley Art Center. This is an excellent juried art show and sale that fills the downtown streets of Waynesboro Virginia. The show runs from 10am to 5pm on Saturday October 14th and then from noon to 5pm on Sunday October 15th.

I am very pleased to have been accepted as one of the Emerge participants for emerging and local art. This part of the show will be inside the new main SVAC gallery at 416 W. Main street. I will be showing some of the things that I showed in the Woodstock show, but will also include some of other pieces that have not been shown before. Here are a few.

I actually painted this painting some time ago from a photo that an online friend of mine took in Finland. Painting all of those tree details was very relaxing.

This is a scene I’ve painted a few times before. One of those was the first to sell at the Woodstock show, so I decided I needed to replace it for this show.

This is a tiny painting I did this past winter of the Raven’s Roost overlook. It’s kind of light and airy but I like the feel of it and thought it might appeal to others.

I painted this from a reference photo taken at a nearby vineyard. It was taken in the spring but with autumn in the air I decided to make it a wine harvest picture instead.

I’m hoping to do one or two more this week. I have one nearly finished and have a scene in mind for another.

I hope to see some familiar faces at the show!

Completed Commission and other News

It’s been a while since my last post. I have been busy with art and other life activities. I will try to catch up a bit.

First, I completed my commission of Brian’s view in Afton. This one was quite different because the medium was fluid acrylic. I ended up doing a composite from many reference photos. As with all of my commissions I worked with Brian, doing several prototypes, to understand what resonated with him. Then I went to work on the final painting. It is 22×18 and is on hot press watercolor paper. This is smoother than cold press, which is what I use for my watercolors. We experimented with many seasons before we settled on summer. Brian really liked the flowering trees in the spring scenes, so I made them crape myrtles to keep true with the season. I worked hard to make sure Humpback Rocks was clear, because that was important to Brian. Here is the final result. Brian was happy. I’m waiting for him to share a photo of the painting framed and hung in his house.

I have been accepted into the Waynesboro Fall Foliage show that will be held to be held October 14th and 15th. I will be in the emerging artist section which will be inside the gallery on Main Street. I will post more about this when it gets closer. It would be great to see some friends there.

Finally, I just returned from a wonderful cruise traveling from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. It was wonderful to walk in the footsteps of some of the great impressionists. While in Amsterdam we visited the Van Gogh gallery which was excellent. I highly recommend it if you are ever there. Here are a few photos I took of some of his magnificent works.

This one of a church is quite famous.

I really loved this landscape of thunderclouds over fields.

I found it quite moving and emotional to be in the presence of the palette he left behind when he died.

I always plan to paint when traveling and I take supplies and a sketchbook with me. I find that I have limited time, but I did manage to do a few sketches.

I have a few more exciting things that I’m working on to share and I will be doing that in subsequent posts soon.

Shenandoah Valley Artfest 2023 – Preparations

Tomorrow is the big day! I will be participating in the Shenandoah Valley Artfest 2023 in Woodstock Virginia! The weather this week has been terrible, and for a while it looked like the festival would be a wash out. Things are looking a little better, so fingers crossed.

I assembled all of my racks, which was a bear, and staged my setup in my garage. I think this will look fine.

I will be showing about 20 pieces. There are a few that I don’t have good photos of, but here is a gallery of most of what I will be showing.

I hope to see some familiar faces. This is my first show, but hopefully it will encourage me to do more!

Completed Natural Bridge Commission

Since I shared my small studies I have been working on my Natural Bridge commission. Today I took it to the client to discuss any final changes and they only had one small thing they wanted me to change. They were very happy with the result and had many nice things to say.

Commissions are difficult and stressful. When you paint for yourself, no one has to like it but you. If you’re lucky enough to have someone else who likes it enough to buy it, that’s great. With a commission, someone agrees to pay you money for something before it’s created, and they have some expectations for what they want. As an artist, you need to figure out how to meet those expectations.

Fortunately, applying my design thinking background seems to help. Using DT methods with the studies I did allowed me to better understand their expectations. One of the things they said when the saw the almost finished painting today was that I had incorporated all of the things that they liked. Needless to say I’m pleased.

This is the fully complete painting. It is 18×24, the largest watercolor I’ve ever done. Painting that large was quite different but I made it work. I will deliver it soon and hopefully they will allow me to come over and photograph it once it is framed and hanging in the place they have chosen for it.

Natural Bridge Studies

I mentioned in my last post that I am doing a commission for my friend Jo Ann, who lives here in the neighborhood. She wants 24×18 watercolor of Natural Bridge, Virginia in the springtime. I went and took pictures a few weeks back. Jo Ann and her husband Morgan chose this picture as the reference photo for their painting.

As promised, I have done three small studies in the same aspect ratio as their painting. I do this to get client feedback. I took them and showed them to Jo Ann and Morgan today, and the good news is that they liked them all. They gave me some ideas of what they liked and didn’t like. While there is no way I can get exactly the same result this still gives me good guidance as I proceed with their real painting.

Here are the three studies (click on image to see larger version):

Study 1
Study 2
Study 3

While the clients’ opinion is the most important, I like feedback from multiple perspectives. Please share what you like and don’t like about each painting.

I’m getting ready to start on the final painting. This will be the largest watercolor I’ve ever done, so that’s making me a little nervous. I will share the result, hopefully in a few weeks.