Does anyone else get these emails from Kennedy Publishing?

Dear Julie Chapman,
As you may know from our previous emails we visited your website and are extremely impressed with your body of work. Our new Best Of Books have been a wonderful success featuring some of the most oustanding artists from around the world.

Our Best of Worldwide Genre art book competitions are coming up. Figurative / Portrait, Landscape, Still Life, Animal and Abstract. We would be honored to include you in one of them.

If you decide to enter you are guaranteed a Two Page Full Color Layout of your artwork (a total of 2-4 images) along with your contact information and/or gallery Representation, plus more.

The book does require an entry form and the $55 entry fee, which allows you to submit up to 10 images. You will receive two preview proofs of your pages, a jpg followed by a full color paper proof.

…etc.

I think I once did a little poking around on the web to see if these folks were legit, and it didn’t seem like their books were carried in any ‘real’ bookstore (brick’n'mortar, Amazon, anyplace I’d like to buy a book), nor is it clear how many galleries and museums get these. They mention “470 collectors” on their mailing list, which didn’t overwhelm me (based on the number I have on my own mailing list), nor can I recall having seen this book advertised anywhere. Has anyone else seen the books?

I’d also like a little more clarity on what they mean by “our books…have been a wonderful success…”. Call my cynical, but I’ve worked as an engineer and in marketing long enough to question this sort of thing.

Or am I missing out on a cool opportunity by not sending the Kennedy folks $55 and some images? One question I had was whether there were further fees if my images were accepted to whatever book – unclear.

Whatchall think?

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I wouldna thunk it, but I’m in the pet portrait biz. I mean, OK, I’ve done commissioned portraits (mostly horse, some dog, even a couple cats) over the years, in oil or pastel…but here I’ve jumped in with both feet to something new. Even set up a new website.

Why? because it’s so damn much FUN. The scratchboard work has drama and mystery in it that doesn’t come with any other medium. I’m personally fascinated by watching an image emerge from the black surface. Once I get rolling, it can be hard to stop! but of course there’s no going back on a scratchboard, so I hafta be crazy careful about each mark I make since it can’t really be undone.

The other reason is that it’s gratifying beyond description to hear the client reaction. People love the results!! The jolt of happy stuff that comes with your client raving about your work just can’t be beat – and it’s one thing the artist often doesn’t get from gallery sales, since we’re a level removed from talking to the client when the sale actually happens (unless it’s from a museum show or opening we’re attending).

Anyway – new website at www.artfulk9.com. Another new scratchboard below.

scanned-ceilidh2.jpg

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(Thank you to Marti for the kind comment about “missing me” :-) . I’ve been trying to juggle the full-time job thing along with my art, and the latter is definitely suffering; I’m falling behind on commitments and exhibition deadlines. Really sucks. It doesn’t help that we’re in the fast’n'furious part of agility season right now, which will soon subside.

News since I last posted eons ago: I am the current State of Montana Treasured Artist, which is a damn nice honor. Funny thing – I think getting juried/invited into big national shows like OPA, Western Visions, and so on are a much bigger deal, but so far for folks around here the Treasured Artist thing is more special. Go figure.

I also gave a lecture on my work the other night (“From the Field to the Gallery: the Journey of a Wildlife Painting”) to a local wildlife group, which was well received and thoroughly fun, and had about 5 times more attendance than their lectures usually get. Those of you who have been to my workshops would have recognized the 5 minutes I devoted to getting everyone educated on the foundation elements to a piece of art, and the subsequent critique practices we did. These lectures are only supposed to last an hour, and we finally had to kick everyone out after two hours of slides, questions, and demos. I highly recommend doing this kind of thing to get your name and work out there….plus, for most people, art is this Mysterious Thing that special talented people due in some secret location, probably involving incantations and byzantine rites.

Lastly, I’ve started playing around with scratchboard – something I haven’t used in a bazillion years – and WOW the boards available nowadays are nice!! I’ve started selling dog portrait commissions in scratchboard. The moody, dramatic nature of the medium is unlike any other. This is an 8″x8″ of my black sable GSD, Suka.

suka-scratchboard.jpg

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…de feet (or in this case, de legs).

A sequence:

step-2.jpg

 Wow, this looks amazingly awkward with just part of the background painted in, and probably no one can tell what animal this is going to be.

step-3.jpg

At least the setting is looking good, even if my unpainted unknown artiodactyl ain’t…

step-5.jpg

Ah! something recognizable. Now, this is obviously the way I drew the outlines on the canvas, but I am so not happy with this. Notice how our big boy is subtly ‘leaning’ on his right side? he’s supposed to be pausing in midstride up the slope, but it just ain’t working.

royal-morning.jpg

I am much happier with the placement of de feet / legs. This image is entirely out of my imagination, but based on various reference photos I took in different locations in the Rocky Mountains.

I was after something of the snottily regal nature bull elk have when they know they’re on top of their game antler-wise (and they do know – read Valerius Geist or other researchers on the subject), along with the gorgeousness of setting in which elk are often found.

In any case, the lesson here is…well, geez, sometimes you gotta wrestle with an image and listen to your own twinges of discomfort to keep hammering away at something (even if it means scraping out and reworking, and there’s plenty of that here. Heck, I’m in good company – Carl Rungius did it too).

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Just finished – my first elk piece in quite a while. A 12×12 done alla prima (“from the first”), no undercoat:

step2.jpg

step3.jpg

 Aside from nearly complete paint coverage – can anyone spot some of the differences between #1 and #2 above?

 

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The finished piece, “Bugle Boy”, 12×12 … after letting the piece dry a couple days so I could put down all those subtle antler modulations without dragging up a lot of green background paint (ugh!).

bugle-boy-detail.jpg

…and a detail shot to see some of the paint texture and activity (palette knife alert! loads of fun!)

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Just a quickie post. Out of the blue, I received an email from Lovetts Gallery in Tulsa, OK to be part of their 2010 “Masters of Influence” Invitational. The concept is that they (Lovetts) choose a Master (in 2010, it’s Frank Lloyd Wright) and the artists who are invited to the show create a piece that somehow incorporates that artist’s homage to the Master chosen, whether directly or indirectly.

The concept is wonderfully intriguing, and I wasted no time accepting, especially since I love FLW’s architecture, stained-glass windows, etc. Of course, now I’m hit with the stunning reality that I have to create something worthy of the invitation and FLW’s influence – not an entirely comfortable situation.

The 2009 MoI can be seen here.

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After the encouraging response – from both artists and collectors – to recent Artzines featuring some WiP (Work in Progress) photos, I’ve been documenting more of my painting process. I had time off between Christmas and New Year’s, so I painted like a fiend (god it was great!). Herewith, one of the pieces I painted then, in progression:

step-1.jpg
Step 1: just the textured panel, with a wash on it

step-2.jpg
Step 2: about 20% of the painting laid in – some background, and the pickup rider mostly done

step-3.jpg
Step 3: about 60% of the piece done – pickup rider and his flashy palomino

rough-work.jpg
The final piece: “Rough Work”, 24 x 18

Learnings:

  • boy do I love red (duh), though it’s challenging as hell to paint something that evokes really BRIGHT red at the correct relative value scale to the rest of the piece
  •  I’m having so much fun with texturing my panels beforehand it’s almost illegal
  • taking these WiP photos is actually helping me do a better job with the final paintings – it forces me to take a step back, and seeing a little digital version on the back of my camera makes the flaws or compositional needs of the piece just JUMP out at me.
  • The compositions I enjoy most are totally “in your face”
  • I really do enjoy lots of entendres in my titles (there are a few in this one – interpretations invited :-)

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Some of you may have noticed that there’s been some wind whistling through the empty spaces here, that my posts to this blog have become rather more spaced out than they used to be – but you have all been kind enough not to point it out. What gives?

I’m no longer a full-time artist. This feels like a confession of failure, somehow.

The economic downturn has been hard on both my art business and the business my husband is in, so a few months ago I found high-tech employment. Yes, right here in Missoula, Montana! (although it is a California-based employer). High-tech jobs here are scarcer than white bison, so I’m grateful; the work I’m doing suits my strengths and experience, and I’m good at it, but it’s not the same as being home in my studio with my crazy agility shepherds, the smell of oil paint, and colors and brushes and equipment waiting for me.

Well, maybe my current experience in the dual-career arena can be useful to others. So let’s keep up the conversation, and hope that the economy begins to turn around for those of us in the discretionary-purchase business. In the meantime, I am back to working the 70-80 hour weeks (between my job and art) that I thought I’d left behind in California.

P.S. the benefits with my new employer are superb, something we haven’t experienced in YEARS. Let’s all hope that whatever health-care reform results from the mishmash now in front of Congress benefits the self-employed more than the pathetically nonexistent ‘health care’ I had before, and paid through the nose for the privilege of having, I might add.

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Lately I’ve been receiving a direct email from Southwest Art about once a week, and it seems to be aimed mostly at artists (so somehow their profiling is working). Is anyone else getting these? some sound intriguing, like the “artist network online seminars” that are being presented.

The next one coming up (Tues 12/15) is titled “Art Critique 3: Improve your Work Through Expert Advice (Learning the Language of Art)” - and you can submit your work prior to the event for critique. One hour, $69.

I’d love to hear from anyone who attends any of these and would be happy to post your comments/experiences here.

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…with demand for your work?

If so, this email I recently received might be just the thing:

Dear Sir and madam
Allow me to introduce ourselves: We are the Oil Painting Studio.
We would like to offer our painting and giclee prints services to you.
In our studio we have 30 highly skilled professional artists with over 12 years of
experience creating paintings for our international clientele. We have worked
creatively worldwide with a large number of commercial enterprises, professional artists and galleries in Europe
and America. They all praise our professional high quality of production and artistic
workmanship. Many of our clients use our works for their business and art displays…
We safely and professionally pack and ship your paintings through FedEx or
DHL. Please send us an email today describing what is your desired topic to be painted, and some indication of
the approximate size. In return we will send you a pricelist. The Shipping cost is
based on your location and the size and dimensions of the painting or paintings required.
I hope that we will have a chance to cooperation and be good friends!
We are Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards
The Oil Painting Studio

Aside from the entertaining English (I didn’t know you could have “me” as the antecedent to “ourselves”), I’ve been laboring under the quaint notion that original art should come from the artist’s inspiration and passion for the material – not subject to mail-order mass-merchandising assembly-line production. Or is that just so…last century?

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