Visiting Philadelphia as a Professional Artist

Soon I will be visiting Philadelphia for the first time in a couple of decades. Few people know that I grew up west of Philadelphia along the Main Line. I spent my “Wheaties” years there. In other words, ages 8-18. Then I headed back to the mid-west, where I was born, to attend Bradley University in Peoria, IL, and subsequently graduated from Indiana University with bachelor and master degrees. After Indiana, I struck out on my own for Minnesota and lived there for 26 years. Currently I reside along the Front Range of Colorado loving the weather and vistas as well as easy access to our remote mountain cabin.

Fro1954m a 7 year old’s perspective, the contrast from Iowa to Pennsylvania was a jolt. I remember my older siblings and I comparing various differences we experienced as we adjusted to our new surroundings. First, there was the funny Eastern accent. We could never quite stop laughing over the pronunciation of ‘water,’ which sounded like ‘wooddar’ to us. Then there was new vernacular to adjust to, such as: sneakers (tennis shoes), dungarees (jeans), teeter-totter (see-saw), etc., which made us scratch our heads. Of course, our new friends wanted to know about cowboys and Indians, and questioned whether we had in-door plumbing. And they could never remember we were from Iowa and not Ohio.

What the east offered that I could not have had if we had stayed in small-town Iowa, was diversity, history and cultural opportunities. For this I am forever grateful.

A train runs for over 30 miles straight west of Philadelphia to Paoli, out through the areas where we lived. (My father took this train into work every day.) Periodically, my mother would take us into the big city on this train. I loved taking the train because I could view parts of the world I could not see from a highway or a car. I also adored the rhythm of the train and the people watching.

One of my favorite places to visit in Philadelphia was the Philadelphia Art Museum. It sits majestically up on a hill towering over the Schuylkill River (Schuylkill is a great spelling-bee word). It always reminds me of a Greek-like Pantheon. visiting philadelphia as an artist We visited all of the historical sites, such as Betsy Ross’s home, Liberty Bell, and Constitution Hall. Musical events took us to see the Philadelphia Orchestra (I saw the world renowned Leonard Bernstein conduct) were also included. On one New Year’s Day we even went to the Mummers Parade. How many of you know what that is? :)

I cherish those cultural excursions and know that I have benefited from the mixture of a mid-west and eastern upbringing. This week I will be returning to Philadelphia from my 45th high school re-union. Do I dare admit to that? LOL! Fortunately, I will be staying with a high school friend who lives in downtown Philly and will not be out in the corn fields where my high school is. I am sure the corn fields are now full of homes and commercial properties.

This will be my first time visiting Philadelphia as a professional artist. There are so many places I want to explore, and we must not forget all of the flavorful ethnic eateries to inhale.

The Rodin Museum is just down the street from the Philadelphia Art Museum, and The Barnes Foundation has a new downtown location. carol mcintyre The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Chaim Soutine , as well as American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast, Old Master paintings, important examples of African sculpture and Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles. Unfortunately, women artists are not well represented at the Barnes.

There are also exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, which was the first art school that allowed women to attend life drawing classes in the 1800′s. While in high school, I took the train downtown for a summer sculpture class at the Moore College of Art & Design and will make a point to see the contemporary art exhibit that is currently on display.

With only three days to peruse the city, it will be a challenge to pick the candy I will want to taste. There are many more enriching sites beyond what I have mentioned. I hope to also visit some contemporary art galleries. It is always interesting to see how the art can vary from one region of the country to the other.

As I wander down memory lane and re-connect with old high school mates, I will be reflecting upon how these visits to Philadelphia as a youngster, impacted my journey as an artist.

if you are an artist, where would you visit in Philadelphia? How do you approach cultural areas you will soon visit? How do you decide which ones to experience?

Sew Your Own Painting Carrier & Make Life Easier!

We artists fully understand the word “schlepping” as we carry our paintings from one venue to another. Most painting carriers are too stiff or just don’t work for us for a number of different reasons.

Carrying your paintings is often a challenge because it is not easy to transport our treasures and to do so carefully. Our paintings are fragile and easily damaged.

painting carrier

When I carry my paintings in for a delivery at a show or a gallery, artists often ask me about my painting carrier – “Where did you get this?” “Can I take a photo?” “I want to make one.”

Curiosity it one of my top values. Throughout my life I have always scanned my world. Often I come upon images, objects, vistas, books, articles, etc., that catch my eye and I integrate them into my life or I share them with others. In this case, my beloved, late mother-in-law found something for me. She showed me a painting carrier that a small country library – Rolling Prairie Libraries – in central Illinois used. Back in the 1980′s this library loaned out framed prints to their patrons. She wondered if I would like to have some of their painting carriers as they were no longer offering this service. I grabbed them happily.

carrying your paintingsThey are made out of a light canvas and were getting dirty the more I used them. I also wanted different sizes. Below you can see several in my storage bin. These are of various lengths and depths though this is not obvious in the photo.

Never deterred and having sewed since I was 5 years old, I developed a pattern to sew several for schlepping my paintings. I chose different sizes that met my needs. painting carrierpainting carrier

My favorite and most frequently used carrying case is 28″deep x 36″ wide. I use a sturdy rain repellent fabric. Black and blue nylon fabric are my most commonly used fabrics.

painting carrier

Directions for Sewing Your Painting Carrier:

1. Cut out a piece of medium weight sturdy fabric approximately 56″ long by 36″.

2. With a contrasting marker, indicate the center of the fabric on the shorter ends.

[Read more...]

Seven-Step Progression of Painting Hands

Painting hands has historically been a challenge for most artists. I happened upon painting hands in the 1990′s when I created a large body of work entitled “No Time for Idle Hands,” commemorating the women of the 1800′s. The hand was used to visually tell their stories.

Currently I have embarked in a news series “Your Inner Core,” where the hand(s) has re-appeared.

1. Before I begin painting, I have taken a number of different photographs of the visual concept I want to convey. I then sketch my idea and often on tracing paper. You will notice grid lines that I have drawn. These are on the back side of the tracing paper. The dimensions correspond with the 16×20 panel I will be using.

drawing painting hands

2. For the next step, I decide upon the color palette. Often my hand paintings are created using a triad color palette of: green, orange and purple. The paint is applied quickly and with a large brush. You can see that the directions of the brush strokes relate to the sketch above.

After this layer dries, I then lightly draw in the grid lines using a watercolor crayon. From there I can follow my preliminary drawing to draw in my hands.

paint hands

3.  I own the skeleton of the hand/arm. Here you can see that I have positioned it according to my concept. A sketch of the bones is drawn directly onto the panel. My apologies for not having a photograph of this stage.

drawing painting hands [Read more...]

Art is a Speculative Business | Are We Gold Diggers?

Because we artists operate a speculative business, I thought I would ask, “Are we gold diggers?” digging

During the past few years, I have been struggling with the correct words to describe to non-artists how our business of making art is different from the model of most small businesses. Most people do not understand that our ‘product’ is one-of-kind, sometimes successful, a process, it changes/evolves constantly and that it is a deeply emotional and intellectual expression and interpretation of a concept. It also takes years to learn the technical skills to offer these expressions and interpretations – our products – to the world.

Finally, the word speculation surfaced and I realized that we operate speculative businesses. I wondered, “How could I learn from this insight?” I started to do some research.

What does speculation mean in the the business world. Here are a few definitions:

  1. Investment decisions based on the hope and expectation there will be a profit, but no firm evidence that this will be the case. As a general rule, the more speculative the venture, the greater the reward should be, commensurate with the risk taken.
  2. A company with a large number of assets tied up in projects with uncertain returns.
  3. The taking of above-average risks to achieve above-average returns, generally during a relatively short period of time. Speculation involves buying something on the basis of its potential selling price rather than on the basis of its actual value.  ©Wallstreet
  4. The term speculation implies that a business or investment risk can be analyzed and measured, and its distinction from the term investment is one of degree of risk. It differs from gambling, which is based on random outcomes.

As you can read in these definitions, there isn’t complete agreement in the definition of speculation. While I was researching the concept, I noticed that sometimes speculators are considered gamblers whereas some believe a speculative business can be analyzed and measured.

Let’s look at the first definition of speculation as it relates to an art business.

We artists invest our time, energy and money “based on the hope and expectation there will be profit, but no firm evidence that this will be the case.” (I know that not all artists have this aspiration. In this post I am referring to those of us that do.) Essentially, we expend our blood sweat and tears in the hope that others will want to purchase our ‘products.’

We offer the world the opportunity to view the world from different perspectives. Often we bring humor, beauty, color, distaste and intellectual challenges for viewers to consider and experience. Personally, I strive to create visual experiences that can impact how people see themselves and the world. carol mcintyre speculative business

My main question is writing about speculation and how it relates to fine art businesses, is: Could we not benefit from the business knowledge of other speculative businesses in being more effective in operating our businesses? Are there MBA’s out there who could share their expertise?

Examples of Speculative Businesses:

  • Oil companies are an example of a speculative company, since they are continuously committing a large number of assets to exploration projects. These companies often experience many failures before a project succeeds. However, should they find oil, potential returns are huge.
  • Building contractors who build spec homes. The home is built as an investment with the intention of being purchased upon its completion.

In definition #4 above, a speculative business can be analyzed and measured. I would like to learn how that could be done for my art business.

Let’s extend an invitation to owners of speculative businesses to offer their valuable experiences to artists. How could we artists connect with these people?

Are we gold diggers? Perhaps at some level we are. I believe that our work is worth the risk and brings great value to the world.speculative business

Do you not think these business experts could be of assistance? I would love to hear your thoughts and input.

Please share and comment. Thank you!

The Challenges of Painting Bones | The Pelvis

Have you ever tried painting bones? It may have been something you did in art school or in studying the human form. Bones are not a typical subject because of they can carry emotional content, which can be different for everyone.

Painting bones the pelvisHaving created a large body of work entitled, “No Time for Idle Hands,” that featured the hand as the subject to communicate my visual message, I drew and studied the hand/arm bones many times. This was necessary for me to learn how to ultimately paint the hand correctly and with feeling. I created this series of paintings from 1994-2000.

Recently, I have decided to return to the subject of bones but with a twist. This series is entitled “Your Inner Core.” My focus for this body of work is on the important role our skeletal system plays in our lives, despite our tendency to forget them because they are difficult to see and feel. We often do not give them the attention we should until something breaks or we are in pain.

Where and how did I begin to learn about painting bones that I had not drawn, painted or studied previously?

First, I did some preliminary research on the internet, which is full of images of bones. Photos of bones taken be other people does not tell the story. I needed the real thing – a life-sized human skeleton. Hence, I began calling the offices of my doctors, asked anyone I knew and even posted a request on Facebook. Through a circuitous route I was able to have access to a skeleton that was in a local biology classroom. After several hours of sketching and many photographs, I had my first group of resources. I was jazzed!

Next I had to tackle the artistic problems and my goals in painting bones. They are listed below. [Read more...]

5 Mistakes Artists Make Painting & Drawing Hands

Historically, many artists have had difficulty painting and drawing hands. Edgar Degas often obscured the hands of his ballerinas or painted them incorrectly, whereas Mary Cassatt knew the hand well and never shied away from them.

Why are hands a challenge to paint and draw? In this post, I will outline the top 5 common mistakes artists make. These mistakes will point out the difficulties in drawing hands while explaining how they can be drawn correctly. Hands are known as the most difficult subject to draw. Interestingly, even non-artists know this.

drawing handsSeveral years ago I painted a large body of work (26 pieces) where I featured the hand as the subject to tell my visual story. Through the power of hands, I commemorated the women of the 1800′s, conveying the important contributions they made to the United States. The series is entitled, “No Time for Idle Hands.” My book describing my process and experiences is titled, “An Artist’s Journey with the Women of the West.”  The watercolor painting above is “Always on the Move.”

The common 5 mistakes artists make painting and drawing hands:

1. Artists tend to rely on their visual dictionary when painting and drawing hands. It is important to let-go of this visual history and really LOOK at the hand you want to draw. Because we see our hands all day long, we have a tendency to make assumptions when drawing hands.

2. It is important to notice the negative spaces between our fingers. It is easy to get caught up in drawing the fingers and palm/back of the hand, meanwhile you loose the essence of what you want the hand is to be doing when the negative spaces are not accurately seen. For example, in “Prized Possession,” (below) you can see the various negative spaces I had to draw to convey that this woman was playing a pump organ keyboard.

drawing hands on key board [Read more...]