Moving on, or moving back

“Under a milky sky (Hare Bay, Newfoundland),” Carol L. Douglas

I’m happy to announce that as of today, Watch Me Paintreturns to Blogspot. I’d like to thank the Bangor Daily News for the past 17 months of hosting. It’s been a great learning experience, and there are many fine blogs on that platform that I read every day.
Astute readers may have noticed that Watch Me Paint has appeared on several platforms for the past five months. This was market research. The modern internet gives us analytic tools simple enough even for an artist to use. I know who visits my website and where they come from. That information supports what the experts say: when all else is equal, host your own blog. It gives you total control of your brand.
My students have heard me speak of group norming in terms of painting. This is when artists who work closely together influence each other’s style. This is the process by which a painting group becomes a ‘school’. It can be a powerful tool for creating new art movements, or it can be repressive.
For painters, it’s important to find working partners interested in the same questions as you are. That doesn’t mean your work will always look the same. For example, even though he was a founding member of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris ended up being an abstract painter.
Here in Maine, we haven’t been doing much outdoor group painting recently. Meanwhile, my old friends in Rochester have been out every week. They’re having a rare, snowless winter. So I jumped when Bobbi Heath and Joëlle Feldman invited me to join them to paint in the Bahamas next month. Both of them are interested in the same fundamental questions I am: drawing, color relationships and the simplification of landscape. I expect that tropical climate has far different light than I’m used to, and am going to bring a few pigments that I don’t usually use.
I’m committed to finishing my backlog of Canada paintings before we head out. I’m making slow progress, but I’m starting with the least-finished pieces first.
“Grain Elevators, Saskatchewan,” Carol L. Douglas
Yesterday I worked on a painting started in the tiny village of Hare Bay on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Hurricane Matthew was moving in. There was a milky sky in the deep gloom of fading light. The lighting seemed to fit the mood of this small, poor, isolated town tucked in under an enormous rocky ledge. It wasn’t until I picked it up again in my studio that I felt the oppressive emptiness of the harbor.
The other painting is of a grain elevator in Neelby, Saskatchewan. This was started in a ghost town now owned by rancher Gordon Kish. Again, the light was fading. There is something immensely silent in that hour before twilight, when the shadows are long and every detail is picked out by the searchlight sun. And yet my painting is hardly still. Who knows why?
This morning it’s 12° F in Neelby and 15° F in Hare Bay. While I love field painting more than anything, there’s a time for central heating, too. 

Welcome to the neighborhood

One of my favorite subjects for blogging has been the food we’ve eaten in our workshops. Here, doughnuts from the Willow Bake Shoppe, now just down the road from me.
While I was in mid-Hudson, I got a note from a student suggesting I send my blog link to the Bangor Daily News. I’d been a full-time resident of Maine for exactly five days, three of them spent back in New York painting at Olana and the Catskills. I was more than mildly surprised at their interest. If all goes well, tomorrow my blog will appear on their portal rather than on Blogger, where it’s been since 2007.
Then there are my favorite places. Here, Camden Harbor.
One of my painting students is branding guru Brad VanAuken. He once told me I should blog regularly, or forget about blogging at all. On his advice I started posting every weekday. That’s improved my readership, but it’s also helped me develop an economical writing style, one that doesn’t take over my entire day.
It would be fun to kick off this new blog with something exciting like a painting festival. But the flip side is that I have time this week to work on the transfer. I still have a lot of work to do before I hit the road, exciting stuff like going to the dump for the first time, figuring out my mailbox question, and registering my car.
I love writing about the technique of painting. This was a how-to for making canvases.
What will I write about on this new platform? The same stuff I already do, I imagine: plein air painting, art history, an occasional digression into social commentary. I hope you come along for the ride, dear friends.
As always, painting with friends is the most important thing.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Selling: The Venues (Part 2 of 3)

While I don’t generally sell on-line, sometimes someone sees a painting and wants it. This was painted in Castine in 2014 and bought by a collector in New York City.

Yesterday I wrote about N., who is a retiree now painting full time. She wants to sell paintings but doesn’t want to be a full-time businessperson. “Would a blog and Pinterest be a way?” she asked. “I have enough work that I could probably post one painting a day.”

Marilyn Fairman, Brad Marshall and me painting on the shore of Long Island Sound at Rye’s Painters on Location in 2013.
Although I get hundreds of repins from Pinterest I have never sold anything there. I don’t attempt to sell via my blog, but Jamie Williams Grossman can and does with her Hudson Valley Painter. It’s a model of neat, efficient marketing.
Showing work in person raises the ante, because there are high costs to framing and mounting a show. Still, I prefer physical selling to internet marketing.
The auction at Rye’s Painters on Location, 2013.
While art festivals can net good sales, I avoid them as a solo businesswoman; it’s a lot of work to schlep, mount and tear down a show of framed paintings.
Instead, N. might consider entering some plein air events near her home. Restrain your work to common board sizes, and you have a great opportunity to sell without a high entry cost. If the work doesn’t sell you can reuse the frame. The real fun is in hanging out with like-minded painters for a day or two.
Plein air events are an opportunity to hang out with pals as well as sell art. From left, Mira Fink, Crista Pisano, me, Marlene Wiedenbaum, Laura Bianco, Kari Ganoung Ruiz, Tarryl Gabel at Adirondack Plein Air, 2014.
Many buyers want a sense that the work they’re buying has been judged in the marketplace and found worthy. There is no short-cut to this point, but entering juried shows and being shown in galleries are the two time-honored ways of building a resume.
Sometimes people complain that galleries take “too much” for commissions, but that is money well spent. Even if they only sell a few pieces of your work a year, their bricks-and-mortar stores assure buyers of your professionalism, and the sales process is painless.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.