Saturday, January 30, 2010


In a recent New York Time magazine article, a publicist noted that one of her clients, a writer, had taken an active part in his publicity. The writer's attitude was that they were in business together. He wanted to succeed, as did she, and they had to work together. Many artists, myself among them, are simply grateful to be published.

But that is not enough.

As an artist or other type of creative person, creating is only half the battle. The other is getting your art seen (or heard if you're a musician) and there is nobody better than you to toot your own horn. Of course having a professional by your side, acting as guide and advisor, is extremely helpful. But handing over your art to an agent and then dusting off your hands on a job well done is turning your back on opportunity. Thinking that hanging your art in a gallery or show is all that's required of you and you can go home and begin the next painting - and expect the gallery staff to sell for you - well, that's not going to get you very far.

You have to be proactive.
Proactive –adjective
Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, esp. a negative or difficult one; anticipatory.

An artist emailed me the other day and complained that the opening for a group show she had taken part in was poorly attended. The gallery, which is also a school of higher learning, doesn't have the show listed on the home page of their web site. However after clicking through two pages I did find the show listed on an inside page.

I'm an active artist in the same community, but I did not receive a notice prior to the show inviting me to participate. Nor did I read about the show in the paper (I may have missed it) and I certainly did not get an email inviting me to view that show. That gallery knows I work for a newspaper, albeit seasonally, so why not take advantage of my connections and let me know about it?

But here's the thing - Every artist needs to send out emails to friends and connections to let them know about your show. You need to act on your own behalf.

Don't just sit there and assume that the gallery-show-agent is going to act on your behalf. You're your best advocate - send out a short, informative email blast! Ask people to send it on. Write a short article and submit it to various newspapers (along with a picture large enough for newsprint!) about yourself and your participation in the show. Nobody else is going to do it for you.

Geraldine Aikman

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who needs HDR photography? Just be creative.

Renaissance Pears

This photograph is made up of several layers of the same image, with each layer a different density, exposure, or hue. After each pear was adjusted to be darker, brighter, or more saturated with color, I flattened the picture and saved it. I didn't start out with the intention of making a layered image. I was trying to take a photo using the HDR process.

High dynamic range (HDR) images enable photographers to record a greater range of tonal detail than a given camera could capture in a single photo. Photoshop has a "merge to HDR" feature that allows you to combine a series of bracketed exposures into a single image.

Of course I was easily sidetracked and ended up doing my own thing instead of following instructions. I guess the lesson learned is that even if you don't follow instructions, and if you head off in a completely different direction, it's the process (it was fun!), and the result (I love the way it came out!), it's a good thing.

Visit my website and my Flickr site to see more of my photography.

~ Geraldine

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Although many artists begin their painting process with the paper and paint, and when the art is completed, seek out a great frame, I suggest they start with the frame - then create the art to fit the opening. Why? It's far easier to begin with an existing frame, or work with a standard frame size rather than the other way around.

Frames in standard sizes are available at art stores, and frame shops that do custom framing often have ready-made or pre-made frames for sale. Ask your local frame shop if they have ready-made frames on hand. Some shops make up odd-size frames, as well as standard-size frames, out of extra molding but don't put them out front. They sometimes have assembled wood frames that were mistakes, or extras from a custom job. These are often called 'empty frames' because they come without glass or backing, which will cost you extra.

What is a standard size for a frame? 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24, 20x24, 24x30, and 24x36 to name a few. You can buy paper and canvas in these sizes, and your art will pop right in many frames. Canvas requires a deeper frame, of course.

But if you start with a 22x30 Arches watercolor paper, and want to mat the art, you'll run into problems. If your painting extends right to the edge of the paper, you still need at least 1/4 inch coverage from your mat. That makes your inside dimension 21 1/2 x 29 1/2, for example. If you add a 2 inch mat all around, your outside dimension is then 25 1/2 x 33 1/2. Even if you cut your mat 2 1/4" AA (all around / on every side) you end up with an outside dimension of 26x34. Hmm, that isn't standard, is it? You won't find a ready-made frame that size.

So begin with a 24x30 frame. Let's try a 2" mat AA. The inside dimension is then 20x26. Take your 22x30 Arches watercolor paper, mark out an area a bit larger that 20x26, say 20 1/2x26 1/2. This is to ensure that your painting area is larger than the mat opening.

Why does this have to be so difficult? You have to remember that standard frame sizes are based on printable paper sizes, and many posters and photographs come in standard frame sizes, and vice versa, on the assumption they will be put in a frame with no matting.

So you'll save money if you choose a ready-made frame. Cut your own mat or have it professionally cut, or perhaps buy a pre-cut mat (rarely archival quality). Purchase glass and backing (no cardboard!) of matboard or fomecore. You need tools to put it together and a little skill, but you're sure to save money.