Art Fair Wrap-Up 2017

Hey there everyone.  Apologies for being incommunicado for a month or so, but we were busy getting things set up for our back-to-back art fairs this month.  These were two new festivals for us, in new cities, so there was a lot of planning to be done.

We had decided not to do the fairs we’d done in the past, for a few reasons:

  1.  We wanted to test out new areas, to see if there was more interest in our stuff
  2.  We wanted to spread knowledge of our art to other areas . . . gain new followers
  3.  Test out new art fair promoters

And the results were great!

We did, in fact, receive a lot of new interest in our artwork.  And that interest even resulted in quite a few sales!  The promoters were really nice, and there was a lot more traffic than at our previous art fairs.  We even had a couple previous purchasers show up in our booth and sing our praises to their friend(s) who’d tagged along.  So, all in all, they were great experiences on their own.

The only trouble came with the fact that they were so close together, and–since we both still have day-jobs–we didn’t have any down time between art fairs.  We’re still deciding whether or not we’ll do both of them again next year, but we’ll definitely do at least one of them, so good was the response.

And, an even better part was that we got lots of new people signed up for our newsletter!

As you may remember, we’ve held contests at our last few art fairs, for people who sign up for our newsletter at the fair to get a chance to win one of our prints.  Many people did at both locations, and we have our winners:

From the Mountain View Art and Wine Festival, the winner is Terry F!

From the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival, the winner is Gary C!

Congratulations to both our winners!  And thanks to everyone else who signed up.  We’ve got lots of new stuff coming to the site soon.  And we think a revamp of the site is in the works as well.  So stay tuned . . .

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Something New

In the process of building a name for myself as a photographer, I’ve tried a few different things: art exhibits at local galleries; offering a piece for silent auctions; art fairs; contests and more.  Chances are I should be doing these things more frequently than I currently am, but I’m just trying each one out to see what the response might be first.

This year, the new thing I’ve tried is entering my art in county fair exhibits.

I haven’t had much opportunity to spend a lot of time on my photography lately, because other things have been getting in the way.  So, I thought that I could keep my toes in the water, as it were, by entering art exhibits in local fairs.  The entry fee is much cheaper than art fairs, and I don’t need to do anything besides drop off and pick up my art (that doesn’t sell).  I get good exposure, the possibility that someone will buy my work, and a chance to win awards and/or prize money from the exhibit judges.

I entered art in four county fairs this first year, mostly because I’d missed the deadline for applying to other ones.  Some of the county fairs allowed me to enter as many pieces as I wanted, and all of them required that the pieces be no more than three years old (some even had a one year cut off).  Craig suggested that I enter the same pieces to each fair, but I wanted to mix them up a bit, so I could offer more variety out there, and so that I might be able to use the same ones at another fair next year.  So I just entered two pieces to each of the four fairs.

It was probably a good thing that I was only able to apply to four of them, because the dropping off and picking up of art is a LOT of work when you have to drive 2 hours each way, each time.  BUT, the driving around has paid off a little bit.  I still have art in one county fair (picking it up at the beginning of August), but of the other three fairs I submitted my stuff to, I’ve won three awards!  WooHoo!!!

The first award was an “Honorable Mention” from the San Mateo County Fair for my piece titled, “Flower with Dew – BW.”  This is one of my favorite pieces, so I was thrilled that it won something.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next art fair I entered was the Sonoma-Marin fair.  And here, BOTH of my entries won awards!

The first one was for a new piece, titled “Praying Angel” that I’d taken at a local cemetery for a photography class I took last year.  That one won Third Place!  Here I am holding the picture and award.

 

 

 

 

 

And here I am holding the other piece, titled “Boston Cemetery – Flag,” which won Second Place!!!  I was SO thrilled that both won something, but even more thrilled that one of them was almost good enough for 1st place!

 

 

 

 

 

It’ll be interesting and exciting to see if I’ve won anything from the last county fair, but it doesn’t really matter.  The fact that I’ve already won three awards out of six photos is awesome to me.  It’s another one of those moments that lets me know I actually am a talented photographer, and that others realize it.

So, while I might not do the same county fairs next year, I definitely will enter some again.  I just need to make sure I’ve got enough recent photos to meet their requirements.

Onward and Upward

You’ve probably been wondering where we’ve been and what’s going on with us for this year, regarding art fairs and festivals.  Well, wonder no more . . . we’ve got news to share!

We wanted our first forays into the art fair world to be close to home.  For one, we would be able to sleep in our own bed and be close enough so that we could run back home for something we may have forgotten (which we did a few times).  So, while Alameda was a great place for us to learn the ropes, now that we’ve got a little experience under our belts, we decided it was time to move onward and upward . . . to see what other art fairs might be out there and where else we might peddle our wares.

We spent much time looking at art fairs and trying to figure out which ones would work best for us.  We still wanted them to be close enough to home that we’re not more than a couple hours’ drive away, but we also wanted them to be in communities where art was highly regarded and sought after.  Plus, we looked into the size of the crowds each art fair brought in.  After all, the more people who attend, the more people can buy our art.

The dates are back to back, which might or might not be an issue (we’ll find out soon enough), but we’re traveling so much this summer that we didn’t have the time to spread them out further.  Plus, we’ll get a taste of what it’s like to do this full-time.

So, without further ado, here are the two art festivals we’re going to be at this year:

Mountain View Art & Wine Festival – September 9 & 10, 2017

This will be our first time with this event promoter, but the location and size of the crowd promise to be very good.  It’s the 47th year of the festival, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.

Lafayette Art, Wine & Music Festival – September 16 & 17, 2017

We’ve worked with the promoter of this festival before, so we’ll have that familiarity to help with the change.  Lafayette is a lovely town, and close enough to our home that we can still sleep in our own bed at night.  We walked this art fair last year and it was just bustling with people and lovely things to see and eat, and we’re thrilled to be part of a great event.

So there you go!  We hope you’ll come on by to see our booths and our wares.  We’ll have some new stuff this year, and it’s even Craig’s birthday during the festival in Lafayette!  So come on down and wish him a happy birthday!

See you there . . .

Alameda On Camera 2017

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, I know.  Life has become VERY busy for me lately . . . so busy in fact that I wasn’t able to attend the Alameda on Camera exhibit at the Frank Bette Center for the Arts this year.  This is the first year since 2011 that I missed participating in it, and I really felt the loss in my soul.

However, I was able to help volunteer at the opening night gala for the exhibit and got to see all the lovely pieces that this year’s artists produced.  There were some old favorites (like a quilt by Susan Lea Hackett), and some new blood (this is the second year in a row that FBCA has included a “Youth” category of photos), and it was great to see people’s interpretations of whatever section of Alameda they had chosen.

For instance, Patti Cary created this very interesting sculpture, titled “Return.”  I’m not sure what section of the map she drew, so I don’t know if the leaves on the branches are the photos she took, or if the other items on the branches are things she found on the streets or sidewalks of wherever she was.  Regardless, it’s a fascinating piece.

Because the 48 sections of the map of Alameda don’t change, there are a few sections where people seem to produce the exact same image every year, no matter who the photographer is.

For example, one section includes an abandon warehouse that used to house a Del Monte factory.  This building is so long that it takes up two blocks, and its own section on the map.  It can be very hard to make a photo of such a long building look interesting and different from every other photo (as you can see in the photo to the right), but one artist, Alisha Laborico, was able to capture what was (in my opinion) the BEST aspect of this building I’ve ever seen before.  (I’ll have to update this post later when I can take a picture of her image to share with you.)

 

UPDATE – Alisha was gracious enough to share her image with me, so here it is.

As anyone who’s seen my work for long enough will tell, it’s no wonder I loved her image.  The repeating patterns, the unusual angle, & the curving movement are all tricks I use in my own photography.  So, when I saw Alisha’s picture of the Del Monte building, I knew I had to write about it this year.  If you compare the image above of the building to the one to the left here, they almost don’t look like the same building.  And this old factory will be renovated next year, so it won’t look the same ever again.  But I’m thrilled that Alisha found a way to make this building look more interesting (to me at least).

 

 

Anyway, even though I wasn’t able to spend a weekend in February walking around this lovely island, capturing unique photos in my section, I was glad that I was able to see the work produced this year.  And you can believe that I will do whatever I can to ensure I’m able to attend this event next year.  After all, I’ve only taken pictures in 5 sections of Alameda . . . there’s SO much more of this lovely island to explore.  :o)

Merchandising

Craig & I know that we have some fans out there who enjoy our art, but might not want to hang it on their wall.  So we’ve decided to branch out a little bit & see what kind of response we’ll get by offering our art on various pieces of merchandise.

We’re just in the beginning phases of this, & as such, we’ve got limited quantities of each piece.  This is really more of a test to see if it might garner any interest, so we’d love to get your feedback.  As a reward for your comments, one lucky winner will receive one of these gifts for free!

The first item we thought would be of interest to our customers is a mouse pad.  We realize that many people are using their phones to surf the net nowadays, but I personally know lots of people who still use a desktop computer at home.  So we came up with a few options:

mouse-pads

The next thought was coffee mugs.  Craig’s stipple of Marilyn Monroe looks great on these, and my Psychedelic Flower Wheel does, too . . .

mugs

We also thought coasters might be a fun idea.  Here are a couple of the ones we chose to start with:

coasters

And then–because we both love to play card games ourselves–we thought playing cards would be a great idea too.  We’ve definitely bought novelty playing cards from some of our trips, & are guessing others might as well:

playing-cards

And finally, my whole family enjoys doing puzzles; the more challenging, the better.  And many of my photos would make lovely puzzles (as well as a couple of Craig’s stipples).  We’ve gotten just a couple options to test the waters, & these are small count pieces (about 250 pieces each), but they would still likely take the owner quite a while to put them together.

puzzles

Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing to win an item of his/her choice.  And for those of you who don’t win, if you’d still like to purchase one of the gifts, drop us an email at info@masartwork.com.  We’ll happily sell you what we currently have in stock, & that will also let us know which ones would be great sellers.  The prices will likely change once we start ordering them in bulk, but for now, the pieces cost:

Mugs – $25
Mouse Pads – $15
Puzzles – $15
Coasters – $10
Playing Cards – $5

These are just a few ideas of where we might go with our merchandise, so please feel free to let us know if there are other products you’d like to see offered with our images on them.

A Clear Picture

Being a photographer who loves taking pictures of architecture, one thing that bugs me a lot is when things obstruct the view of whatever building I’m shooting.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a tree, street sign or a person.

I’ll use all sorts of tricks to make sure I capture just the building, and not the unwanted obstructions.  If people are in the shot, I’ll wait until they clear out (sometimes, waiting up to an hour for tourists to move out of the way).  If it’s street signs, I’ll find a different angle where you see just the building.  In fact, I took a photo of Windsor Castle one time where you only saw the top half of the structure, because of all the street signs AND tourists in the way.

But sometimes I can’t “cheat” my way to a clear picture, and so I try to take one with as few distractions as I can, and then edit them out in post-production.

 

portland-maine-021This photo, of State Street Church in Portland, Maine, is a lovely mixture of multi-colored bricks, with some very cool towers and other elements.  And thankfully, the telephone or cable wires are only in the sky, so I could easily use Photoshop to get rid of them one way or another.  I wouldn’t consider the trees an obstruction in this case because–with the fall colors–it just adds to the charm of the church.

 

 

 

 

These next two images would take quite a lot of manipulation in Photoshop.  I might be willing to mess with the church on the left, but probably not the house on the right, no matter how lovely all that ivy looks growing on the side.

portland-maine-010portland-maine-042

 

 

 

 

 

But even though I might or might not be willing to edit them in Photoshop, I still like taking the picture, if for no other reason than to remember some lovely element of the image (more on that in another blog).

portland-maine-107Now, this last picture is a Photoshop editing nightmare, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t undertake it.  The Victoria Mansion (also in Portland, Maine) is a lovely structure, with lots of cool columns and whatnot, but I wasn’t able to capture the entire building without being across the street (with the lenses I had with me).  Unfortunately, being across the street meant that EVERY electrical wire got in the shot.  Even just editing out the wires in the sky would take a good couple of hours . . . forget about where they cross the building.

 

But, I liked Portland, and definitely plan on going back some day.  So I’ll be sure to bring some other lenses with me, and maybe I’ll be able to capture these buildings without any obstructions in them next time.

 

Experimentation

I’ve done enough research to know that I have no idea what my “signature style” is yet.  And apparently giving the answer of “A lot of different stuff” when asked what I specialize in isn’t looked upon too favorably.  So I’m clearly still in the “discovery” phase of my journey.  Thankfully, that means I get to play . . . a lot.

I’ve been taking a photography class at a local college just to see what’s out there, & we’re getting ready to turn in our portfolio, so I thought I’d share them with you.  I don’t know whether or not any of these images will make it to the website, but you might be seeing the stirrings of some future shots.

pool-dividers-from-090316

This image is kind of similar to stuff I currently have up in the “Miscellaneous” gallery.  It’s very indicative of some of my favorite things; repeating patterns, & cool lighting contrasts.  The image was neat enough in color, but I think the black & white helps to set it off even more.

 

 

 

glass-swirl-3

We spent one class day shooting various pieces of glass.  MAN did I love that!  I’ve always loved glass objects (I could sit & watch the glass blowers at amusement parks for hours), & this object especially caught my eye.  I have a couple other angles of this piece, but I really liked the light reflections in this shot.  I could probably write the entire blog about this day’s images, but there are other photos to see.

 

 

 

 

car-show-vent-wheel

We also spent a day at another nearby college for their annual car show.  The cars were more modern than I normally like to see at a car show, but this gave me the opportunity to do what I do best . . . focus on the details.  I got to see the newest trends in wheels & hub caps, & MAN is there some cool stuff out there nowadays!

 

 

 

 

inverted-railing-from-090816

These next two images are where I got to play the most & find a possible new style.  I was just playing around in Photoshop while editing, & hit the “Invert” option.  BAM!  This lovely image came out.  I originally took the photo because of the lovely curving line of the handrail, but the color version had too many similar brown tones.  But when I inverted it, all these cool blues & purples came out.  I tried playing with it some more to bring the dark blue/black “mountain” in the middle of the photo up to the top as well, but it never quite came out right.

 

 

 

glass-swirl-inversion

I tried this inversion technique on the glass object above as well.  The shot is from one of those other angles I mentioned earlier, & while I like the non-inverted image, I also like the simplicity of this one.  You can see the light reflection REALLY well, & all the nooks & crannies of the swirls look really cool in the darker tone.

 

 

 

So there you have it . . . some new images & possibly new directions for me to venture into.  It’s definitely fun learning & trying out new tricks . . . even if it doesn’t help me hone in on my signature style.