Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Ship Artwork

Prairie Whispers - on the Road

Last fall I confirmed an art show for May / June 2015 in Weyburn Saskatchewan. Now that I live in BC, the challenge was how to get the paintings to the gallery?

When I agreed to the contract with the Signal Hill Gallery, it was stated that they would pay for shipping one way, plus pay me an honorarium. I stated that I would be sending between 15 - 17 paintings, the size would not exceed 14 x 18". I wanted to keep the sizes medium for two reasons: first - they would be easier to ship, and second - it keeps the selling prices in the mid-range.

Once the contract was signed, all I had to do was create a body of work. The show is called "Prairie Whispers...depicting the quiet beauty of the prairies." 

After researching shipping prices and insurance, I decided on Canada Post. They not only had the best rates, but there was no limit to the amount of insurance you could add. If you are a business and have a Venture One card then you get a discount. I found that sending individual paintings with Canada Post had always worked in the past. The trick I believe is to purchase additonal insurance, that way you have a tracking number and you can follow the path of your shipment.

I scouted out blue boxes that would fit my sizes, leaving a little room around all sides. Each painting has a piece of Reynolds parchment paper against the painted side so it won't stick (yes it has to be Reynolds as it is the only one with silicone). There is a piece of foam core (cut to size) between each painting. Then I took 3 paintings and wrapped them with bubble wrap. This 68 litre box contains 9 - 14 x 18 inch paintings.

More bubble wrap on the sides and top, makes it a nice snug box.

My smaller pieces, 12 x 16 inches, went into a smaller blue box. I didn't want to force them in, so the last two 12 x 14 inch paintings were wrapped in a cardboard box.

We put gorilla tape around the lids of the blue boxes. We also invested in a strapping kit ($55) from Staples. The boxes are marked with fragile stickers on several sides, plus each box has two shipping labels. The cardboard package is reinforced with copious amounts of clear packing tape. Can you guess that I use to work in a mail room?

Safe and secure the three boxes went out with Canada Post for $166 (below my budget of $200).

Note from gallery: Shipment arrived. All is fine. Will hang show next week.
I'd like to also add that is only took 4 days.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Voices in my Head

When I paint, I am constantly hearing voices in my head. I have taken many workshops over the past several years and I recall tips that I have learned.

Before starting a piece, I hear Brian Buckrell saying "Pick a battle that you can win." Hmm, can I do this painting justice? I often joke that 'I survived Brian's bootcamp', but in all seriousness this was the most comprehensive class I have ever attended. I think about foreground, mid-ground, background all the time, even when I'm NOT painting. Thanks for the good start Brian.

I can hear Donna Baspaly saying "Paint painterly and loose those edges." Yes Donna.

At the same time Mike Svob is reminding me to 'Look at the big picture and keep it simple."

Next comes the glazing technique that David Langevin embedded into my consciousness. Should I use a glaze to bring everything together or to push something back? "Learn to handle your tools", David says.

It's a wonder I can get any work done with all these voices in my head. One at time please.

Suzanne Northcott reminds me that I have something to say, that is why I paint. Hmmm...that's deep. There should be a dance moving between background and foreground, thick and thin.

Inevitably half way through the painting my own voice pipes up and says, "What were you thinking?"

But by the end of the painting, I have put my own twists on the painting and it is my signature at the bottom of the canvas. It is my voice that says "Good job. What should we paint next?"

Whose voices do you hear while you are painting?

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Friday, April 3, 2015

Finding Inspiration in my Gardens

As far back as I remember, I have absolutely LOVED gardening. My house has always been full of plants, starting seeds early in the spring.

I thank my mother for my passion for gardening. Growing up on the farm, my mom always encouraged me to have a little flower bed of my own. There I could plant anything that I wanted. My usual choice were marigolds, possibly because they bloomed for a long time, but also because I have always been attracted to warmer colours. (as you might know if you follow my artwork)

Several years ago I made the move to Canada's West Coast. A good part of the reason to move from Sask. was in search of better weather. In terms of growing zones I was leaving a 2 and heading for a 7 zone. Now I can putter around the yard for 10 months of the year. Spring comes early on the west coast.

I often check my yard a couple times a day, just to see what I can see. It's also a good break from a day of computer work. I get up, stretch, walk outside and breath. Often a quick walk in the yard ends up being an hour or more. A little weeding, some transplanting, plans for future beds ....

If I have a difficult decision or puzzle that I can't quite figure out ... I go outside, start working in the yard, and like magic the solution pops into my head.

Gardening provides endless inspiration for my artwork.

Not to mention that I absolutely love it when my dinner plans includes something fresh from the garden. Plant something today.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Another Great Art Workshop

This past weekend, Island Arts Magazine had the pleasure of hosting Nicholas Pearce's "Limited Palette" acrylic painting workshop. With an almost full class of 11 students, our weekend began.

First thing Saturday morning, Nicholas told us that we were going to listen to music, sing and dance while we paint. The idea is that if you are singing, then your brain does not get hung up on every little detail of your painting. The music was cranked up loud as we began gridding our black canvas.

Gridding wasn't new to me, but I just hadn't done it since art school. It was one of those simple techniques that I had forgotten about. I quite enjoyed the process while singing to the tunes.

After lunch, with our 1.5" brush in hand and using our limited palette of 4 colours plus white, we started blocking in colours. Let me tell you, that brought about a lot of moaning and frustration, from myself and the other students. Threats of smuggling in smaller brushes on Sunday ran rampant. At one point Nicholas left the class room to take a call. I said, "Ha, the teacher's gone." Without missing a beat, most of the class replied "Get out the small brushes."

For myself, painting this way was a test in trying to remember how to mix a particular colour, mixing on the canvas and trying to get your darn brush to work properly. I suggested to Nicholas that perhaps my brush was faulty ... and NOT operator error?!

Sunday morning, we came into class with fresh eyes and thought "Wow" these really aren't too bad. Perhaps Nicholas had stayed all night and worked on our pieces? How nice!

We all worked really hard cleaning up our paintings, while getting into our musical groove. Nicholas walked about giving us encouraging direction. By the end of the weekend, we had a group showing of really spectacular work. BRAVO everyone.

I love organizing and participating in workshops. There are always tricks and tips that come about, from the instructor and also from the participants. In this particular class, I was re-united with the process of gridding; a wonderful tool for working big. I was frustrated with a limited palette and realized that I need to work on my colour mixing skills. I love the idea of down-sizing my palette to only a few colours.

Thanks to Nicholas Pearce for providing us with an energetic, thought prevoking and FUN weekend. Special thanks to all the artists who took on the task of working big with a "Limited Palette".

Check our website often for upcoming workshops.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Designing a Business Card

The start of the new year is a good time to design a new business card. I always have cards handy; in my purse, in my jacket pockets and in the glove box of the car. It is an inexpensive and very effective marketing devise and you never know when you will have the opportunity to hand out your card. I have been known to hand them to someone sitting next to me on a plane. Over the years I have had many different business cards. They have always been very colourful, printed on both sides and on a nice thick card stock.

The first group are some cards from my Toronto graphic design days. I liked having my photo on the card, which I felt gave it a personal touch. In those days I went to many 'business after hours' events for networking. There were usually door-prizes and 8 times out of 10 times, my card would be pulled out of the fish bowl. The luck of the draw, possibly, but more then likely because my card was made of a heavier card stock.

Once I moved to Saskatchewan I started putting my own artwork on my business cards, as you can see by this next bunch. I liked to take advantage of using colour.

This is my latest card. As I am wearing two different hats, the front of the card represents Island Arts Magazine and the back of the card represents Young at Art and my artwork. I like this format very much. For my new card I think I will design something very similar, just using new images.

My advise when designing your business card is:
  • Keep the design clean.
  • Don't put too much text on the card.
  • Don't use too many different font types. Even though a script font may look lovely, it's often hard to read.
  • When using text on a dark background, the text should be bold, otherwise the background ink will bleed into the text, making it hard to read.
  • Keep it simple.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Helpful Framing Tip

After a Suzanne Northcott workshop in November called 'Working BIG', I finished this painting. It is called "Alpine Tapestry", acrylic 36 x 36".

I signed and photographed it. The next thing was to wire the back. That's when I asked my husband Jeff for help.

Having spent a couple of days apprenticing and framing with Don Cameron of the Englishman River Gallery, Jeff knew exactly what to do.

As Jeff explains, on a large piece like this it is best to put three hooks in the back forming a triangle. The hook and wire at the bottom is important as it takes the weight off the bottom stretcher, evenly distributing the weight and prevents the bottom stretcher from sagging.

Hmmm. ... good to know.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Visual Arts Voice

I was honoured to have MY story published in the Visual Arts Voice, Fall 2014 - a CARFAC BC publication. Enjoy the read.

Susan Schaefer – From the the West Coast...and Beyond!

As my 55th birthday draws near (yikes), I look at my life as an artist.

I sit here from the living room of my Qualicum Bay home / studio typing on my lap-top. My husband Jeff or L & L (lover and lugger - as he likes to be called) is typing on his iPad. We have a beautiful garden which we both enjoy and a spectacular ocean view. The summer breeze is gently blowing and I feel truly blessed to be here, on Vancouver Island at this time in my life.
As far back as I can remember I was drawing, colouring and playing with colour. Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, the only thing we had to colour with were pencil crayons and wax crayons. I was a nerdy kid, who absolutely loved to get geography homework. Sounds weird right? That meant that I could colour in the maps, shading the edges of the ocean from light to dark as it went further from the shoreline. With wax crayon I could take a pencil sharpener, shave off the wax and use mom's iron to melt it down into some cool and interesting shapes. Not so good for the iron I was told. Sorry mom.

It was in the year 2000 when my art career went from being a hobby to a profession lifestyle. I was living in Saskatchewan in a lovely “little house on the prairies”. I joined the local artists guild and organized art workshops. I started working in watercolours, but as my confidence grew I branched out into acrylics and oils.

One day a girlfriend said “you should have an art show right here in your house.” That was a scary thought. I gave in and invited 5 ladies over for a glass of wine and some nibblies. That evening I sold 3 paintings. Wow – that was great. From then on I had a yearly art show in November (as that is my birthday month), at my home studio. I invited more and more patrons each year and made sales, but more importantly, many friendships were formed.

In 2007, I moved to Qualicum Bay on Vancouver Island. For the first few months I explored the island, painted and joined a few art groups. That winter a friend of mine invited me to go to Mexico with her. I love going south, as it gives me a fresh outlook on things. While there, I decided to 'go for it' and create an ARTS Magazine to showcase west coast artists. With a graphic-design background and very proficient on a Mac computer, in March of 2008, the Island Arts Magazine was launched. Another scary endeavour, but I thought “If not now, when?” We have just published our 27th issue and the magazine is going strong with subscriptions across Canada and into the USA. And it is still FUN to create.
Through the Island Arts Magazine, I was able to meet many wonderful artists up and down the island. We also get invited to and sponsor amazing events. For the past 5 years we hosted the Island Arts Expo, a weekend of workshops, artists talks and exhibition of artwork. After 5 years, we decided to move onto other endeavours. In the last few years I have been organizing workshops in Qualicum Bay, bringing in artists from across Canada from whom I wish to learn.

I keep further involved in the 'goings on' by volunteering at local galleries. I spend a lot of time marketing my work, which pays off as I have collectors across Canada. Recently I received a commission from a patron in Mexico which we will be delivering in December. What a burden!

I feel very fortunate that I can do what I love, and have so much fun doing it. It is a great feeling when you have created something from your heart and then someone loves it enough to include it in their life. I am truly grateful and I am excited to see what I can accomplish in the next 55 years.

Till Next Time ...
From the Prairies, to the West Coast and Beyond...