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Monday, July 22, 2013

Painted Feathers - price increase, but not just yet!

Every visual artist faces this inevitable situation - with the cost of framing supplies and art supplies continually going up, as well as a substantial increase in requests for commissioned work,  so too must the price of those finished works follow suit.

I've held off on this decision as long as I possibly could.  I'm only making a modest raise this year, to help compensate for the higher quality frames purchased from Lucas Art Gallery, a quality investment whose difference in cost I have simply absorbed over the past couple of years.

The value of the work has gone up as well, I do think.  For the past couple of years I've put a lot of focus into improving what I do, seeing the light and portraying the details to the best of my ability.  Each painting teaches me things that I apply to the next, and with each painting I try to push the quality a little past that point of the preceding painting.  The result is growth.  The result also is much more time spent on each piece.  That means fewer paintings overall but it also means a higher standard of quality.

The price of each custom framed single-feather painting, whether it is a completed work from studio inventory or is a privately commissioned specific piece, will go from $275 to $295, effective November 1st 2013.  If you have already requested work from me, don't worry your price will not go up.  Likewise, if you send me a request for a commissioned piece before the November 1st deadline, your price will hold at $275.  Setting this date as such, I think, will allow sufficient time to discuss, design, complete and ship requested paintings intended for Christmas gifts.

In the meantime, I continue working through this queue of commissions that shall remain firm at $275.  I love the variety of subjects and ideas that have found their way to my work table, and with so many purposes too! Most have been requested as gifts - Scouting, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and those that are most delightful, 'just because'!  I thank you for these opportunities, it is such a treat to work with each commissioner individually and through telephone or email conversation come up with the most appropriate image for each recipient.

Asil Arabian horse, details of the painting completed and ready for framing. Privately commissioned

Asil Arabian horse, now fully matted and framed at 8" x 18", ready for shipment to a private collector in Birmingham England.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Creative Outlets

If you're a creative sort who is always thinking about making stuff, any stuff, chances are you'll find a way or simply fall into an opportunity no matter what it is you're involved with.

I've been involved with the Clan MacLeod Society since the year before my solo trip to Scotland in 2009.  Each year I get a bit more busy and active, attending all the Highland Games in this part of the state (and we are blessed with several events here) and becoming increasingly involved in volunteering.  

I don't like to simply show up, it's much better and more meaningful to find a way to be useful, and find some way to benefit a group or organization along the way. It's a nice feeling, and an addictive one at that, to do something and know you've added some small bit of value somehow.

Our clan booth has seen a little transformation over the past couple of years, as I have been adding to it.  My art show grid panels have been utilized in providing us much more display space by making use of vertical space.  We hang Penny's collection of tea towels - with wooden clothespins at first, but that seemed rather boring so I painted 24 clothespins with the Lewis and Harris tartans of MacLeod.  That was a small thing but their color sure added to the Fun factor.  I have paintings inspired from 2009's Scotland backpacking adventure,and since they are locations that are either in or near MacLeod territory they too hang in the tent.   

At one point 2 years ago, Penny handed me two cotton tartans from which to make banners. She'd had them for a while but never found enough time to do something with them.  Now, how on earth do I make a banner?? Ooh, creative challenge!  That right there was enough to inspire many hours of Googling various clan banners, taking photos of other clan banners at events, and trying to decide just how to go about it.  I had no experience in making such a thing but I had hand-sewn a fair amount of  PNW Native regalia because of involvement with Order of the Arrow (Boy Scouts) and out of pure interest (another case of 'oh this is cool! I wanna learn!). One art form feeds another, so equipped with a simple needle and thread I took what I learned in making regalia and applied it to clan banners.  Funny thing - there is a parallel between the two.  Button blankets display the wearer's family crest, and a banner does exactly the same thing!  No buttons on those banners though, but I did applique a whole lot of seed beads into their designs to add sparkle and pizzazz.  

My husband got involved too, with his woodworking interest, and created some very nice upright poles for carrying these banners. He woodburned crisscrossing ribbons into the wood, and then carefully painted in 2 shades of wood stain to make them really stand out.  Neither one of us is done with them yet.  We just keep adding to them. Matt is going to tool leather to cover the PVC joints on the poles, and I am going to add a crossbar to each for added stability in wind.  Lewis is not yet done, but Harris has been marched in all the clan parades last year and this year.

This last weekend Clan MacLeod was honored and privileged to be chosen as the host clan at the Skagit Valley Highland Games.   What an overwhelming treat it was for us to lead the clan parade right behind Northwest Junior Pipe Band onto the field!  Penny opened the Games both days from the stage - what an honor!  I worked until 2 in the morning the day we departed for the event, hand-sewing a heavy backing to the MacLeod Harris banner, which made a big difference in its presentation and behavior on the field.  Now - if I can get Lewis to the same state of completion for next year's events, all will be golden.  It's good to have a variety of creative outlets that are ongoing. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Just Start

Start. It's difficult to push yourself into beginning a task, particularly one that is in addition to those many that you already do. It's easier to convince yourself that you should be putting your time elsewhere, or to ease your conscience by telling yourself "I'll begin that next week, when I don't have quite so much on."

The painful fact is you will always have plenty going on. You're not going to find a week where you have nothing to do.  Blogging. Website updates. You know they are important for your creative business but telling yourself you'll get on that next week is a guarantee that these important bits won't get done.

Begin.  Allot yourself ten to fifteen minutes today to work on what you know you must. Procrastination is not an option.  It doesn't have to be perfect, heck it doesn't have to be huge.  Close the door, close your email, put on some nice music if that helps you get into the flow (it does for me) and simply begin.  Chances are you will lose track of time and work a bit longer than those ten or fifteen minutes. Perhaps you'll accomplish more than you thought you would - like finishing a blog post - for a blog that has been neglected for many months.  You'll find it's not as daunting as you feared.

So let's start.

Old Man of the Woods - fully framed and available at Artisans of the World, St. Michaels, Maryland.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Seeing the Light

How long will it take to produce this current painting from start to finish?  The answer to that keeps changing.   I put a lot more time into these than I used to.  As nature teaches me more in how to see, I try more and more to take those lessons and apply them with paint. The more I see, the more detail I want to portray.  I want to learn to paint faster, but for now I am content with learning to interpret the light I see

More time with a point-and-click camera in the Pacific Northwest's majestic wilderness.  Wake up in the middle of the night, hurry, must be at Reflection Lake before dawn. That hour before dawn in the summer comes very early indeed.  Being there before dawn means we are treated with the first rays of sunlight brushing the face of Mount Rainier.  An entire day wandering this vast national park yields so many lessons, so many opportunities to see natural light illuminating nature's beauty. The best times, of course, are when those rays of light are at a low angle... early morning and late in the evening.

I am not a photographer by any stretch, I am just a painter armed with a point-and-click determined to capture what I see, to preserve it, to help me remember the colors, the light, the details.

The following images are collected from a couple of trips up Rainier, my favorite mountain. A 3rd-degree ankle sprain had kept me away from the mountain for far too long, but I was fortunate in capturing many photos (despite the sprain!).  This year I will get back up there. Roll on Spring, I'm ready for another mountain trek.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Old Year Out, New Year In, and a Blog Resurrection

How embarrassing!  This blog has been completely neglected for more than a year!  Well this simply won't do, it's time to take it back out into the sunlight, shake the dust off, and put some new life into it!

Annas Hummingbirds with
Butterfly Bush. Commissioned
for Christmas.
2012 was an odd year, as election years usually are. In my neck of the woods, success at art shows and festivals during an election year can be sketchy at best.  I backed out of shows almost completely last year and instead devoted my energy to improving my technique and doing commissioned work.

Largely because of hobby photography during my hikes and whatnot last year and the year prior, I found myself almost subconsciously drawn to light - unusual light, dramatic light, back-light, the way that light streams through broken clouds and plays on a mountainside, the dazzling sparkle of early morning sunlight when it strikes only a few surfaces in a place still mostly steeped in night-shadow.  This has led to study and practice and attempts to portray such light in feather paintings, and in comparing the newer paintings to paintings of years past, I can see a gradual improvement in technique and quality. The attempts are not always successful of course, but it is a continual learning process.  That's what we all shoot for, isn't it? To try to make our work a little bit better than it was the year before?

With this incoming New Year, there will be ample opportunity for much more practice in this and several other areas I think are lacking.  And speaking of getting better,  I've set some pretty ambitious goals for myself for 2013. I will post about such goals later, but for now let me say that marketing is one of the things to be worked on. This blog falls under that.  Blog posts are going to be on Thursdays and on Mondays.  If I fall short, please - give me a nudge, hold me to it!  Habits need hard work in the beginning in order for them to take.  Writing needs to become a regular habit and the blog must have consistent updates if it's to be of any use.

Wishing you all the best in 2013!  Bliadhna mhath ur!! (Scottish Gaelic for Happy New Year, something else I've been learning lately)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Website renovation

The work has begun! And it's terribly overdue.  My website is receiving a much-needed overhaul, as its appearance has been sitting in the 90's and it needs an updated look.  You're going to see some new pages when it's all done, and new media as well - canvas, fabric art, and prints offered too.

You'll find the new format already on the index page as well as the calendar page.  I'll be working through the rest of it bit by bit and getting the newest paintings on the site.

"Crossing Guards" (c) Julie Thompson 2011, sold.

Speaking of paintings, I've much to get done on that front.  There are currently ZERO completed paintings in-studio. Fusions Gallery just sold the last one they had in stock. Lucas Art currently has five -- er, scratch that they sold the Loons on Tuesday -- they have four paintings.  Now I do have a few started in-studio, just receiving final details and framing.  The goal of having the galleries fully stocked and also having 30 paintings in-studio feels a bit out of reach right now!  That's okay, I've got the winter to rebuild... and also rebuild that website!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Love Teaching!

Over the last several years as I demonstrate the process of feather-painting from my booth at shows, I have encountered more and more folks who express an active interest in wanting to learn and try this unique art for themselves.  While I had taught kids through the Scouting program, I admittedly felt a little nervous about teaching adults.  Anything unfamiliar makes us a little nervous.

Last Summer I taught feather-painting to a great group of kids at the Fred Oldfield Western Heritage Center. During this instruction, several of the adult teachers and volunteers also jumped in to learn the art. We all had great fun! I'm oh so looking forward to teaching this again at this year's American Indian Day Camp at the Center.

This Spring I decided to teach workshops in feather-painting at Lucas Art Gallery in Graham.  Still a little uncomfortable about it, but determined to do it as so many have been wanting to learn.  The experience was fantastic! The class was completely full. We painted wolves in a night scene with birch trees and snow, and everyone left happily carrying their completed feathers. 

Our next workshop went just as well - we worked on Goldfinches and Thistles.  This coming Saturday's workshop will be eagles. We still have a few openings, if you'd like to come join the fun!  Call Karen Lucas at Lucas Art Gallery in Graham WA at 253-847-0858

Soon, I hope to be taking these workshops on the road. I've begun making queries down in Centralia Washington, as there are quite a few down there who would like to learn.  Where next? Time will tell... but I'm looking forward to the trip!