Saturday, April 30, 2011

The painting

Artists Union Exhibition Center
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Some stories are so unusual, they scream to be told.

One of my galleries has not updated their website in a number of years. They'd lost their graphics guy and one thing let to another, with the owner uninterested in the internet, well... it never got done. The website stayed frozen in time. Frozen since 2007.

I'm not judging here. My own website has been frozen in time as well and I can update it myself. No need for a graphics guy. I'm just giving you this information because it's important to the story.

Nothing on the site revealed that it hadn't been updated and recently a client contacted the gallery inquiring about a particular painting. The gallery owner couldn't give him an answer. He must have been embarrassed because the site has since been updated. Yeah! I received an email from the gallery asking if the painting was still available.

At first I didn't even know which painting it was. You understand how that is, right? I recognized the title, but I painted it in 2006. I've done a few paintings since then. Embracing the Sea. What painting was that? Then an image came to mind. Yes, I knew for certain that painting had never sold and was still available. I immediately went looking for it in the haphazard stash of canvases that continue to grow in a corner of my cellar.

It wasn't there.

Think, think. Where can it be? My mind quickly traveled to other various venues where art is hanging. No. Not at any of those places.

Then it hit me. Please continue to read on. My continuity switches here, but it's all for the story...

In 2008, I exhibited 22 paintings in Saint Petersburg, Russia. That in itself is a long story, but not the one I'm telling you today. I was invited there by the Russian artist, Stas Borodin. He was having an enormous exhibition of 200 paintings and asked that I share this experience by exhibiting in the next room. Suffice to say it was very exciting and an experience I will never forget.

It was the first time I flew across the Atlantic. I had been writing to Martine-Alison in France for several years and the thought of being so close and not swinging by to say hi seemed sinful. After all, all the flights to Russia seemed to stop in Paris. How could I touch down there and not leave the airport? Impossible.

So on our way home from Russia, I went to meet her for the first time. It was really cool to have just exhibited, because not only did we get to see each other, we also got to see each other's art in person. I can still see us on the floor looking at all of it. I decided to leave four behind as she promised to exhibit them along side her own.

I can tell you're connecting the story now...

Yes, Embracing the Sea was in France. No wonder I couldn't find it in my cellar.

We needed it shipped. If you're following Martine-Alison's blog, you already know she was away for several weeks. The painting sat. The potential buyer had a deadline. A big celebration was to take place and he wanted the art for the occasion. Anxiety set in. The gallery owner called. Where is the painting? The client will be here tomorrow!

The painting is sitting in customs.

I suggested he tell the client why the painting was in France. I guess this story of the traveling painting intrigued him, because without ever actually seeing it, he bought it! Yeah again! Most likely he won't have it in time for his special event, but he does have an interesting story to tell his guests. I'm currently preparing a package including these photos to send to him.

Now aren't you glad you read the whole story?

Note: Embracing the Sea is the blue and white painting behind the ponytail in the bottom photo. Did you notice Golden Marsh, from my last post, also went to Russia?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Alternative Venues

Golden Marsh
Original oil painting 24x36"
by Susan Roux

Yesterday I got to play decorator!

A magnificent old house with tons of rooms was recently turned into A Center for Healing Arts Therapy. A dear friend gave them my name and voila it came to be that I received the fun job of hanging art throughout the space.

I brought 23 paintings (mostly large, some really large) and 7 photographs which I hand-picked from my husband, Michael McAllister's collection. I expected to have strict rules and guidelines presented to me, even a scrutinizing of what I intended to hang. But no. Complete carte blanche. How wonderful is that?

After unloading all 30 pieces, I had the two available therapists come give me an idea of their preferences. I wanted to hang images in their areas they'd really like. Aside from that, three floors of lovely colored walls waited patiently for my selection. Up stairs. Down Stairs. In the stairwell. Hallways. Waiting rooms. Rooms and rooms and rooms... So many rooms and doors, that at times I was getting lost.

During the process, another lady arrived and asked if I was the new acupuncturist. Oh no, I assured her. I was the artists here to hang art. Her face lit up and she immediately asked if I would hang some in her room. She unlocked a door to reveal a beautifully decorated space with one large empty wall. She was the message therapist and just entering her room made one begin to relax... I had the perfect piece for her. The 24x36" Golden Marsh posted above complimented her empty wall as though the room had been decorated with the anticipation of its arrival. It took her breath away... (It's actually softer than this older image portrays. You know how it is with photos.)

I won't tell you I wasn't stiff when I returned home. This was far from the normal workout I get standing behind my easel all day long! Seriously. Three floors, thirty pieces of art, but it was a good tired. Whenever the therapists' had breaks between clients, they were seen exploring the house examining what I had hung and how it transformed their space. The smiles couldn't be wiped of their faces. Wouldn't it be great to be able to market that? The look original art puts on people's faces. It's priceless, yet many people have never experienced it.

The center is having an opening soon and I'll use the opportunity to advertise it as an art opening as well. Will art sell there? I don't know. But I'm holding steadfast to the concept of being open to alternative places of exposure. Catching the Rain, as Eric Rhoads put it. After all, what are we suppose to do with accumulating inventory???

Rick was asking me if there exists an art orphanage to send them all to. I know I'm not alone in this respect.

What alternative venues have you found? Are they working? Sales generated? Please share your findings.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Simplifying fundamentals

Jennifer's Road (sold)
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux

As you probably know, I teach a beginners oil painting class. It's always a challenge to take someone who hasn't painted, often doesn't even draw, and in eight 2-hour sessions get them to paint something they are amazed they produced. Many students are so elated they continue to take classes beyond the initial 8 weeks.

How do I get them to do this?

I begin with a series of exercises. It gives them time to get used to the tools of the trade, mix color, blend color and it also gives us an introduction to the words of our craft. A new language emerges and with it a new way of looking at things. By week two they come to class hyped up and energized telling me of all the colors they noticed in the world that they never saw before. It's almost hard to keep them down in their seats to continue with the day's task. It's like giving sight to someone for the first time. They are overwhelmed at all they've been missing over the years.

Rather than just tell you how amazing my students are, I decided to show you. The above painting is my demo. During five of the eight sessions we work on one painting. I go through step by step along with them, explaining the why behind what we are doing. That way a student learns how to paint rather than just copy what I'm showing them. I love to let students explore on their own, emphasizing that impulse shouldn't be ignored. If you feel like dipping your brush in red, then by all means do it!

Art is a journey in creativity. We all know that. But without knowledge of fundamentals, it can be a frustrating journey. I work very hard with my students to explain in simple terms the necessary elements that will help them achieve what they seek. In landscapes there exists distance. Not only on the land but also in the sky. Turning that 2-demential canvas into a seemingly 3-demential space is a powerful tool.

This is the achievement of a beginner student. Look at the depth, the sun and shadow play and the textures she achieved! A beginner during ten hours of class time. Isn't that incredible?

I've often been asked why I give such a complicated scene to a beginner. Just getting the perspective on this curved road can be a full session to someone who can't draw. I'm not sure why I pick complicated scenes. Maybe I like the challenge. Maybe I know I can pull them through it. Oh, how I love to amaze them by exposing their ability! Simplify, simplify, simplify. The simpler I can explain something, the easier it is for them to achieve it.

When I first hand my students the image we'll be painting, I can see the look on their faces thinking there's no way I can paint this! But by final class, all of the students rejoice at the sight of their work. (To be fair, her photo is quite inferior and the richness in color isn't apparent.) Not only are they able to paint the scene from the lesson, they often surprise me with works they attempt on their own.

Kasey sent me this image. She started it part way through her 8 sessions and completed it afterwards. She spoke of it, but never brought it into class. Just look at the distance she created in her river scene! And to think she's just beginning to paint...

I'm very proud of you Kasey.

I don't have photos from the other students in the class, but if I did their work would amaze you too. Teaching the fundamentals in simplified form has yielded phenomenal results, even in pure beginners.

How are your fundamentals? Are you in need of understanding them in simple form?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Susan Roux Workshop

Oil Painting Workshop

Offered by Susan Roux

Date: August 12-13-14, 2011

Location: Poland, ME

Cost: $200.

Paint the landscape indoors.

We will not work in plein air, in order to slow the pace down allowing time to focus on certain elements that will enhance your landscapes. Capturing distance, atmospheric perspective, neutralizing colors, sun/shadow play and patterns, three-dimensional form and focusing on good design. What is good design? How do we implement it into our work? These are some of the points we'll be addressing during the 3-day session.

Working from photographs has it's challenges. Many of us like the comforts of painting in the studio and understanding how to deal with the information on a photograph is important. We will address this with regards to color enhancement and adding emotion into your work. If you understand where a photo is deficient, it becomes easier to compensate on your canvas to capture a more realistic look.

I have been teaching for nearly a decade. All levels of experience are invited. Come laugh and join in the fun as I work with you to help you improve your landscapes.

To sign up, please contact me

I look forward to meeting you and working together.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Catching the rain

Hello Little bird
Original oil painting 20x16"
by Susan Roux

Did you receive an email from Eric Rhoads about catching the rain? He's the publisher of Fine Art Connoisseur and a few other artists publications. In it he talks about having alternative strategies in our difficult economy. Thinking outside the box, even looking outside the box, when seeking ways to market our art. We are all creative. I know a lot of you are marketing yourselves effectively over the internet. It does offer a wide range of avenues. I personally don't take advantage of them. I could learn a lot from many of you in this realm.


I have been represented by galleries for the past decade. I sometimes have trouble with other marketing venues due to the prices my art requires, to stay abreast with my galleries. As you may already know, undercutting your gallery price is detrimental to your gallery relationship, your representation. I've struggled with this. It seems to limit my possibilities because I no longer have the freedom to fluctuate my prices to accommodate varying venues.

Hat Dance

But I have to agree with Eric. As you may know, I hung my art at Nosh, a restaurant, for the month of March. I received less than a 24 hour notice before the show had to be hung. It would have been very easy to decline. But something made me hustle and get a nice selection of art on their walls. My prices remain high and sales were far from my hopes. At best I'd wished for a local gallery to stop in for lunch, see my latest girls and want to represent me.

Quite the contrary happened.

In one month's time, I sold seven paintings! I can't believe it. At a restaurant! I'm sharing this information with you so you won't close the door on opportunities you might think are pointless. We are all at different stages in our art journeys and what works for one person may not be the answer for the next. But keep your eyes and options open. Like Eric points out in his article, you need to reach out in different areas to find customers. Just imagine if I hadn't rushed to put an exhibit together in record time? I'd have missed all these sales...

Thank you my new collectors. You made my month!