Open Studios

I promised I’d begin my “new” blog by telling you about the event I participated in this November. (photos at the end)

About 2 months before, an art community that I subscribe to suddenly decided we should all do this together, set the date for mid-November, wham. Er, um, whut? I’m not ready for that. I don’t have the space to do that. I live out in the middle of nowhere and it will be dark and cold. I don’t have enough paintings to show. They’re not good enough. I don’t want strangers in my house! I also don’t want nosy neighbours from the next village in my house. There’s not enough time! I had other plans, I just want to finish my paint project.

But in the end I enlisted anyway. Just to see what would happen, to my stress levels, my self confidence, my work speed, my sense of privacy. What happens if you don’t wait until you’re perfect and ready? If chances arrive and you don’t take them, will they come back?

There was a forum for brain-storming, video tutorials (such an amazing job to get those done for us so fast), a joint website with a map showing every (150!) participant, while I was making pamphlets and other advertising gizmos, tiny doodads made meant for “souvenir sales”, the stable was finally cleared and cleaned.

Initially I had decided to just declutter the living room and host the open house there, because my studio is up a very steep “ladder” and the inner courtyard is rather muddy this time of year, a bit risky and something I didn’t want to be responsible for. The idea was, if somebody really wanted to see my workplace full of wips, that was an optional extra.

But I wound up hauling out a lot more stuff to show than I thought, and since our living room doesn’t have a lot of wall space I set up in the stable too. So visitors would enter the house where I could keep track of them and stay warm, proceed via indoors to the stable and with arrows pointing to upstairs, little notes and whatnot to tell them what they were looking at. I had a lot of fun thinking up those, as well as being my own gallery curator for the day. I set up materials show-and-tell etc. with a table full of rocks, sticks and shredded paper, another about screenprinting for instance.

First I spent some weeks getting the print and web stuff ready because I thought I’d have plenty of time to finish some new paintings, but in the end I never managed my goal although I worked from 5 am to bedtime every day. Just two more weeks would have done it! Although I don’t think I could have carried on like that forever, I was pretty exhausted in the end. While I was at it I had no trouble at all, but I think I prefer a more steady, continual pace, I’ve slowed down completely at the moment, so I’ll probably be down to my usual average if you start counting. It was interesting to try it on though, it means I actually can get a lot done if the motivation is right. Or whatever that was.

Did the result correspond to the effort? Not really. I live way out in the middle of nowhere, so I couldn’t even put a sign by the roadside to lure people in. My pamphlets were sitting in the local library with no response whatsoever, which I’d anticipated, not a lot of cultural interest in this area. No other participants were close by (as well as some big gallery openings same weekend in nearby towns, as I later found out).

I had 8 visitors on the first day, 5 the next, and half of them were friends and family. I sold one painting, a couple of vessels and gift tags, so that was cool the number of attendees considered, but since I was all jazzed up to socialize (it takes a bit) it could have been put to better use and practice if more had shown up. What I was most interested in was feedback of course and to test my artist talking skills, so just sitting half the day waiting was a bit tedious and anticlimactic. I have to say though, all visitors were AMAZING, happy, enganged, supportive.

I learned a lot, so it wasn’t entirely useless. There was a great atmosphere in the group, helping each other out with Likes etc. I have a list of do’s and don’ts if this should ever be repeated; now that I know that it CAN happen, I should prepare year round in little increments rather than such a last minute flurry. What I did and intend to keep doing is work under the assumption it’s going to be a huge succes, while knowing and accepting it might not be. But at least I’ll have done my part to the best of my ability.

I forgot to shoot a lot of the photos and videos that I meant to, before and during, I guess my brain was beginning to melt at that point. Guess I could use an assistant at a time like that!

Some things I made:

Slideshow for tv running in a loop, since we were in the living room anyway
Handpainted baubles & gift tags, because of the season, cheap art souvenir
Pamphlets/posters for advertising
Free bookmarks, art on one side, “business card” on the back
Paper mache bowls
Paper flowers for paper mache vases
“Some” new paintings

Where I fell short of my plan:

Postcards and small paintings on paper
Finish portrait collection
Encaustic work for show and tell

I also had a basket of handspun yarn out, but since so few people came, it wasn’t really seen. In general the idea of having something small to sell for those who don’t want to commit to a painting is a good one, but I won’t try to produce anything specifically if there’s a similar event in the future. I’ll just focus on becoming more productive and create the things I want to during the year, and that’s what will be on display.

Anyway, open the first image and arrow your way through my first selfhosted art show ↓

5 thoughts on “Open Studios

    1. Tak for “besøget”. Jeg snød lidt og fjernede en et par hverdagsting fra stuen, og bøger har jeg i køkkenkontoret 😉 Men stalden, som er dobbelt sÃ¥ stor som huset er virkelig genial, ogsÃ¥ nu hvor jeg ikke mere har heste.

  1. That’s amazing, Pia, I’m so impressed, that must have been so much work!

    Thanks for this post, I loved reading it and particularly enjoyed seeing all the photos from your house and the studio. I like the way you managed to display so much of your art in your living room, it really looks great! I think it was also a good decision to let people see the studio space too, regardless of the ladders etc, because there’s always something special about being able to see the actual space where the art work is being created.

    I’m also really impressed by the portrait paintings, they really look wonderful. I seem to remember that many years ago you mentioned once that you didn’t like drawing from observation and you were struggling to figure out what to paint. And now you are painting such wonderful paintings, you really have come a long way in recent years!

    1. Thank you! It was A.LOT of work and I was probably running on fumes at the end, because December has been reeeeaalllyyy slugghish. But it was good to experience that I could in fact for a short while get a lot done, wake up at 5 rearing to go and NOT feel any anxiety over the process at all. Major win.

      It’s true that I’ve always said I didn’t want to do figurative work, and I do like freestyling the best, but mostly I said it because I was convinced I’d suck at it, so I couldn’t even be bothered to practice. I still have an odd resistance to it in fact. I’d like (some of) my paintings to have more of a story and not just be random pretty colours or something resembling a landscape. I’m not aiming for photorealism either, so I hope to eventually land in the place that I see inside my head… So the struggle is still there, but at least I’m a couple of steps further.

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