Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What I've Been Up To...

This semester I've been volunteering in a color theory class as a teaching assistant for Mick Sheldon at American River College. Painted a lot of charts in the very cool workbook Mick created for the class.  That's because he want me to do the class work as well as help out.  Mostly I try to pay attention to what he's doing when he demo's technique so I can observe good color theory teaching techniques.  Now I'm working on the last class project where we create 10 paintings of objects using the color theory learned in class to solve specific problems.   The first thing I did was to do 7 sketched underpaintings.  I used Conte and charcoal then used a brush and water to blend it.  I only did 7 sketches because we're allowed to do 3 of the illustration in the computer so I took some photos to play with Warholizing...  Below are the 7 sketches. Later I'll post the Warholized photos.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

CALL TO ARTISTS: Altares del Mundo 2013

Call to Artists Altares 2013


October 12 - November 2, 2013

The Brickhouse Gallery
2837 36th Street, Sacramento, CA

The 20th Annual Altares del Mundo Art Exhibit opens on October 12th 2013 during the Second Saturday Art Walk at the Brickhouse Gallery in Sacramento from 6:00 - 9:00 pm.

The exhibition is free and will run from October 12 through November 2nd with docent staffing each Saturday and Sunday, 12:00-4:00 pm. 

The Altares del Mundo Art Exhibit is a Sacramento tradition organized by a grassroots community of artists. The exhibition presents modern interpretations of remembrance loosely-based on the “Day of the Dead.” Altars express artistic and personal views on subjects as varied as family members, friends, pets, celebrities, social trends, environmental issues, political statements, tragedy, misfortune & war.

Altares del Mundo offers free teacher resources which can be downloaded from the Altares web site and free docent-lead tours for school groups. Tours are by appointment only and can be scheduled Wednesday through Friday.

For more information email: 

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

How Charity Auctions Can Do More Harm Than Good For An Artist’s Career

How Charity Auctions Can Do More Harm Than Good For An Artist’s Career

A while ago I wrote the following in an attempt to purge feeling slighted by yet another charity art auction.  I waited a while to give myself time to get over it and then reread to determine if I would publish it.  I’m going to go ahead and publish it as I’m sure there are many other artists who've had similar experiences.  Hopefully it will open dialogue between artists and charity coordinators who seek contributions of artworks from their creators…

I’m feeling overwhelmed lately by a mixed bag of emotions; depression being the most paralyzing in the mix.  I recently donated an original triptych for a charity auction.  It’s a good cause, I know and admire the coordinator and it was potential for my work to be exposed to a new crowd.

Belief in a cause and the potential for new exposure; the only sensible reasons an artist donates artwork for charity auction.  Sorry auction coordinators, but “free event admission” for the artist is not a favor to the artist:

1)      it’s not a party for us as we’re working to promote,
2)      you can’t get as much buck for the art if the artists aren't there working the crowd,
3)      the artworks auctioned for charity almost always sell for significantly less than their fair market value (this can devalue artists’ work and create disgruntled collectors) and
4)      Most importantly artists may legally deduct only the cost of the materials used to make the artwork NOT fair market value or even the winning bid amount.
a)      Oh but if a collector purchases a work of art then donates it to the same auction that collector gets to deduct the amount of the sale (or the original purchase price if the work sells for less).
i)        There’s not an inequity here is there (snark).
5)      Let me clarify number 4 above!
i)        The artist may only deduct the actual amount of the cost of materials (meaning we have to figure out how much every dab of paint cost us)
ii)      If any one tells you otherwise they are either woefully ignorant or purposely misleading (I am so grateful for my well informed tax accountant.)

OK so why am I now sitting here foolishly feeling sorry for myself and debating…should I bitch and whine or take the high road and suffer my silly emotions in silence or should I vent my frustration and publicly expose this socially accepted practice in the name of charity as the exploitation of artists it really is?  My self pity is a culmination of several small disregards for my efforts, any one of which like water on a duck’s back I would have barely noticed.  Unfortunately an accumulation has coalesced into an uncomfortable lump in my craw…

The day of the auction, I was Facebook messaged asking if I submitted my art and paperwork.  I wrap all artworks that I submit to a gallery.  You don’t want it to get scratched or dinged before it’s even hung on the wall.  So I replied describing the protective packaging and they found the work.  But that should have been my first clue … no actually my first clue should have been the email from the auction coordinator the day before asking if I’d turned my work in yet; I’d turned it in on the due date several days before and replied as much.  Anyway when I got to the event I looked for my work. And found it, nicely on the first wall as you walk in…unfortunately it was behind the band’s speaker… They were nicely hung together; too bad they had the wrong artist’s name on the bid sheet.  Too bad they had no title listed.  Too bad they had the media and substrate wrong.  Too bad there was no pen nearby for interested collectors to write a bid on the bid sheet.  Too bad… and this was the hardest slap to the face of all… too bad they put a fair market value of $250 on it…

That’s a total of $250 for 3 original paintings; a triptych is 3 paintings that hang together as one artwork.  Twenty years ago a Christy's buyer valued one of my single color woodcut prints at $175, yesterday a local gallery employee put a fair market value of $250 total for three original paintings.  Under valuing, one example of how charity auctions devalue an artist’s work.  Also the final bids on most artworks in charity auctions is usually significantly below fair market value; another way the artist’s work is devalued by charity auctions.  Do you understand why many artist’s feel misused by charity auctions?

Last night I smiled, shook people’s hands and was honestly pleased to make potential new friends and hug dear old friends; but inside I was hurt and could barely restrain from removing the work from the wall and taking it home.  OK so now I've done my whining and you know it’s been said that a person should not bitch unless they can come up with a solution (that’s kind of defeatist isn't it – if you’re not allowed to complain about a wrong without proposing a solution doesn't that just perpetuate the wrong [may be someone else has better vision than I and my complaint triggers their creative problem solving skills]).  Any way I have a few ideas. 

Keep in mind for it to work artists will have to stop donating their work unless charities and auction coordinators agree to start respecting our efforts.  This means we will have to ask for one or more of the following and if denied then we have decline.  If they get turned down often enough charities will eventually realize they’re cutting off their own feed.  If we turn a charity down because of past abuse we need to tell them why.  And most importantly we HAVE to educate our budding artists and convince them that it’s in the best interest of their careers that they insist on full and proper respect from auction coordinators.  If we don’t warn and educate them we leave them vulnerable and WE perpetuate the abuse.

Some Ideas for Fair Art Donation Practices

1)      Charities and auction coordinators have to start respecting the artist’s efforts
a)      Donating artists aren't getting in free; they've already donated a work of art that will bring in money (probably more than the price of admission) and they’ll be working the event to get the highest bids for the charity. Give your artist a comp ticket to the event so they can give it to a favored patron or companion who can cover while the artist takes a break or works the room to compliment her and talk up her colleagues work to admiring collectors. In the past my artist friends and I did much toward increasing the bids for each others work by bragging on each other; something the artist cannot do if she has to stand by her work all night to answer bidder questions.
b)      Ask the artist for a minimum bid amount and market value of their work; do not change these numbers on the bid sheets without the artist’s permission.  If the two of you don’t agree then leave the artist with the option to remove the work.
c)      Do offer a fair percentage of the sale to the artists.  Most will offer to donate the full amount.  Some, especially the younger less established artists, will appreciate the return of their material costs; mediums, substrates, framing, hardware, transportation and other costs.

2)      The artist says, “I’m sorry I cannot donate my artwork but I’ll be happy to write a check”
a)      The charity gets a donation from the artist albeit probably not as much as an artwork would sell for.
b)      The artist gets a monetary tax deduction
c)      The artist informs the charity and auction coordinators why they can’t get artists to donate artwork for their event.  It’s hard to have a charity art auction if you don’t have any artwork to auction; on the other hand we artists have a responsibility to make charities aware that they are abusing us.

3)      Artists who are asked to donate for an event exchange artworks with each other
a)      The artists exchange receipts marked paid in full with the payment amount being what the trading artist would have asked for it in a studio sale.
b)      The recipient artist donates the trader’s artwork to the charity
c)      Recipient artists get to deduct the auction sale price.

4)      Give the artist a reasonable tax deduction.
a)      A charity gets payment for a work of art.
b)      The Charity pays the artist the amount of the sale minus an operating percentage (20-30% is fair and covers their operating costs if any artist reneges on c below)
c)      The artist then writes a check to the charity for the amount the charity paid to them, making the donation a monetary contribution that is fully tax deductible.

I once asked for number four to be done and was told by the charity that it would be a bookkeeping nightmare… at the time I accepted this, I was much younger and a whole lot more naive then.  Today I realize that this is pure laziness on the part of the charity and/or auction coordinators who don’t want to do a little extra paperwork.  Today I have but one thing to say to this;  Excuse me but I just put 30 hours or more of my time into making this work of art, plus the time and money in steps toward getting it professionally ready to exhibit (Bases, packaging or framing and hardware) then add in time and gas/shipping to deliver the artwork.  And you want to tell me it’s too much trouble for you to assure I get a fair tax deduction for the full value of my donation!  Hello is this not an exploitative disregard for my loss of livelihood?

Now I knew of the disadvantages of the usual practices of such events when I committed to my contribution.  I was well aware of and accepted that there would be a low starting bid; that’s the best way to get that first bidder.  I knew that the winning bid would probably be well below what I could sell the work for; but probably be higher than I could afford to give out of pocket to a cause I valued.  In the past my artistic efforts were always appreciated and I've donated to many charity events I care about.  But this time I was near hidden in a corner, unrecognized, significantly undervalued and hurt, its not just my ego that was bruised but a setback in my reputation and career that I also have to overcome.  And most importantly it’s made me most reluctant to ever contribute my artwork to these events.  It just became cheaper and less painful to by a ticket, eat drink and schmooze…which is something few artists do because most of us hate these events; preferring to hang out with colleagues making art than selling it.  I guess another solution is to do what many other artists do…continue to contribute but only give away old unsold works that are taking up precious space in my studio storage…huhmmm there are some very ancient early works under the bed collecting dust…

Friday, April 19, 2013

Nibblefest Teasers...

I've listed a few digital reproductions today as teasers for the beginning of tomorrow's "NibbleFest Art Contest."  The auction for the teasers start now...

Red Dress
can be bid on at:
This is a digital reproduction of a small watercolor I did for Nibblefest Art Contest.  “Red Dress” was inspired by a photograph taken by a friend who gave me permission to reproduce it as an artwork.

Sierra Nevada Fall 2011
can be bid on at:
This is a digital reproduction of a small watercolor I did for Nibblefest Art Contest.  “Sierra Nevada Fall 2011" is inspired by a photograph I took while on a roadtrip with Hubby to see beautiful fall colors in the mountains.

Little Tree Stands Against Forces
Can be bid on at:
This is a digital reproduction of a small drawing I did from memory upon returning from an Easter dinner visit with in-laws.  It was a stormy day of driving in the mountains to reach our destination.  During our trip I spied a tiny tree holding its own against a sudden rush of water in a storm drain.  Though it was but a quick glance I was inspired by that little tree's forbearance and was compelled to draw what I could remember.

The watermark "Phare-Camp Fine Art" doesn't actually appear in any of the artworks.  These digital printouts are ACEO sized, about ACEOs Wikipedia says:

“Artist trading cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as modern trading cards baseball cards, or 2-1⁄2 by 3-1⁄2 inches (64 mm × 89 mm), small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets. The ATC movement developed out of the mail art movement and has its origins in Switzerland. Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or cloth. The cards are usually traded or exchanged. When sold, they are usually referred to as art card editions and originals (ACEOs)."

This week, beginning Saturday April 20th, you can see more tree inspired works of art created by me and by other great artists as entries in the Nibblefest Art Contest, a themed art contest beginning on the 20th of each month.  Please be sure to search for NFAC to see many great entries in ebay; each available for auction purchase starting at just $0.99!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Nibblefest Art Theme for March "Nursery Rhymes"

"Little Miss Muffet" ACEO printout of a digital collage preliminary sketch used to map out an ACEO paper collage of the same title.  Available at ebay until 3/27/13.

 I like to participate in art challenges.  Themed challenges keep my art mind stimulated by challenging it to conceptualize.  
"Little Miss Muffet" an original ACEO mixed media collage created for the monthly Nibblefest challenge.
Available at ebay until 3/27/13:

One of the themed challenges I regularly participate in is the monthly Nibblefest challenge; a collection of artists who put the themed artworks created for the challenge on ebay for auction with a starting bid of just 99 cents.  This month's theme is Nursery Rhymes.

 Front cover of "Mother Goose" a tiny 32 page book of illustrated nursery rhymes made from one sheet of 8.5x11" jet printed bond paper.  Available on ebay until 3/27/13

For this month's challenge I did a digital collage then created a mixed media paper collage based on the digital composition.  Both the digital and paper collages are posted in ebay for the Nibblefest challenge.  But I also have the digital files of a little "one page wonder" book I created of nursery rhymes.  Which of course fits right in with the challenge.

 Inside "Mother Goose before its been folded cut and assembled into an itty bitty 1.5" x 2.25" book of nursery rhymes.

Available at ebay until 3/28/13.

I also included a few more works of art for auction with opening bid of 99 cents on ebay only during the Nibblefest  challenge.

Inside "Fun With Color" a digitally illustrated Book of color theory optical illusions inkjet printed onto onesheet of 8.5 x 11" paperbefore it was folded cut and assembled into a tiny 2.75 x 2.75" book.

available at ebay until 3/29/13

This is an original digital collage I developed as a preliminary sketch for an original woodcut print. The 2.5" x 3.5"size format is that of ACEO, or Artist Cards Editions and Originals. 

ACEOs are miniature works of art.  Wikipedia describes them as:

"An offshoot of artist trading cards are Art Cards, Editions and Originals (ACEOs), whichoriginated when some artists began to create cards to sell, in addition totrading among themselves. Many ACEOs are sold on internet auction sites, suchas eBay. As the term suggests, ACEOs may be small original works of art, oreditions of small prints."

Available at ebay until 3/28/13.
2.5 x 3.5 inch ACEO collage made using decorative and handmade papers. It was inspired by an IllustrationFriday.com challenge of "Sail." Signed and dated on the back. Sent inside an archival clear acetate art sleeve.

To see lots more artwork by lots more artists with opening bids of just 99 cents you can go to ebay and do a search of "NFAC" or you can just click the link below...

NibbleFest Art Contest:  http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=NFAC&_armrs=1&_from=R9&_ipg=&_dct=1&_rdc=1&_trksid=m194&ssPageName=STRK:MEFSRCHX:SRCH

Thursday, February 21, 2013

More Hearts for the Arts

I've been working on some encaustic pieces for the above event and I've finished them.  I also pasted felt to the backs, signed the backs and added hangers.  Oh and I named them, Wings 1-3.

For more information on the Hearts for the Arts fundraising event please go to the following website:

The event is also listed in Facebook where you can see images of other works by other contributing artists:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Heart for the Arts

I'm currently working on a mixed media encaustic triptych for a local charity auction... See the Wiki on Encaustic for more information on the medium.

First I adhered white mulberry paper to three wooden hearts then coated the surface with clear encaustic medium.

Spent a few days playing with paper and sketching ideas.  What you see here is only a fraction of what I have in mind. The beauty of this medium is the ability to float stuff in between layers.

Now that I have an idea of where I will start I've painted in the firs layer of color.

You can see the muffin tin of paints melting on one griddle and on the other griddle I have tins of medium and metallic mixes melting.  I make my own encaustic paints.  I use 1 part damar resin to 8 parts natural beeswax.  The damar raises the melting point of the wax and helps it to buff up to a sheen.  For color I use some powder pigments but they are expensive and I've found that crushed soft pastels (professional artist's chalks for drawing) work just as well, are less expensive, they take up less room and I can use them for more than one technique.   Plus I get a greater variety of rich jewel like colors to work with for less money.  It takes very little pastel powder mixed into the melted medium to get vivid colors.  I like my paints to be translucent since I layer inclusions into the works.