I have participated in many art shows and have prepared numerous canvases to be gallery ready. Though nothing prepared me for all that needed to be done for my own solo show.
The processed started in November 2021. I had a meeting with Jacquie Hollis Martinez, the owner of Assemblage Contemporary Craftsman Gallery, to schedule the show. I left that meeting both excited and also troubled over having to come up with a theme. The work I've done over the last two years was varied with no congruent theme. After wracking my brain, I found the thread, and presented the idea of Reemergence to Jacquie - it was a go!
Now began the task of preparing the art going into the show. The first thing I needed to do was to finish paintings. I had three oil paintings that were in various stages of complete. To add even more pressure to myself, I started a new painting, the signature piece of the show, in mid-February, a little over a month and a half before the opening. What was I thinking?
Oil paintings need a lot of drying time. Technically, a year until they are fully cured. After they dry, they should be varnished (more dry time), and then framed. I had called the framer earlier in the year and she told me she would need four week for the framing. Working backwards from the date I had to deliver artworks to the gallery, I had about 10 weeks of working time. Every free moment I had, I was in the studio painting. I'm so grateful to Ron and my kids for being supportive and picking up the slack in all things house-keeping. (love you guys!)
I finished the last painting two weeks before needing to get everything to the framer. Not the weeks of dry time I was hoping for but nothing I could do there but hope that the weather didn't turn humid - and say a daily prayer over each canvas - "please dry".
Next step was to sort through a box of watercolor paintings and decide which lucky ones were going into the show. Once selected, the watercolors needed to be sprayed with acrylic sealant to protect them. That one simple job took an entire afternoon because it was also the windiest day we've had in weeks. Trying to aerosol spray paper, in the wind, is not the easiest task in the world!
Now at the six-week mark, logistical things started needing attention. The invitation design needed to be proofed and sent to the printer. Business cards needed to be designed and sent to the printer. I needed to prepare an itemized list, including pricing, of all of the art going into the show. I had to update my website, clean up my mailing list, write these blog posts, and craft a press release. All adding up to a staggering amount of time on the computer!
At the four week mark it was time to photograph all of the artwork and take them the framer. With the easel and the camera equipment set up, and all of the artworks lined up, I figured I could complete the job in a few hours. I was using my old Nikon camera, a trusty companion for many years. Though after taking a few photographs I notice that the images were really dark and looked dirty. Thinking the camera just needed a good cleaning, I called the camera shop but the guy told me not to bother - the camera was too old and outdated. Now without a camera, I called around to find a photographer to take photos for me. Unfortunately, I had neither the time or the money that they were asking for. I needed to do it myself.
After consulting some photographer friends, the consensus was to take the photographs with my phone. Oh, but not the phone I had, no, the new iPhone. So, off to the phone store we went to upgrade my phone so I could have the latest and greatest camera that would solve my photography issues. After hours of sitting around at the phone store, I was finally back home taking picture. This time, the photographs had tons of glare no matter where I took the pictures. Oil paintings are so hard to photograph because they are shiny and catch a lot of glare. To combat my glare issue, I ordered a filter for the phone and waited two days for it to arrive. Unfortunately, the filter was not the answer. At this point I just wanted to cry! I spent a week messing with the photography. I had no more time, the paintings needed to get to the framer.
Desperate, I texted my friend, Leslie Kell (a brilliant photographer and digital artist), late one night borderline hysterical. Many, many thanks to Leslie for talking me down from that ledge! Her advice was to just go get a simple point and shoot camera. So, that's what I did. The sweet guy at Precision Camera listened to my entire sob story and found me an excellent used camera that fit my needs. Though it had to be shipped to my store from another store - I had to wait another day. At this point I was relieved to be getting a good camera and also a walking nerve ending waiting for it to arrive. The clock was ticking!
Finally, camera in hand, everything set up, photographing resumed. Wouldn't this be an excellent point in the story to tell you everything turned out perfectly? Sorry, no can do because it did not. I just couldn't get rid of the glare. At this point I wasn't almost crying - I was crying. The kids and Ron waited for me to explode as I paced around trying to figure out what to do next.
Wiping tears away, I knew I needed a screen. A screen would soften the light and hopefully cut out the glare but it was equipment I didn't have. I rallied the troops and improvised. I had the kids holding up towels, covering the windows with sheets, standing here and there to block the light. No matter what we did, we couldn't get rid of all the glare. Almost defeated but too stubborn to quit, I literally built a sheet fort in the middle of the living room and then crawled in with the paintings and the camera. Finally! yes my friends, finally! My fort produced good photographs!
The whole photography ordeal took a week. At the three week mark, I was a week late getting everything to the framer. To add to the stress, the oil paintings were still spongy. Any accidental rubbing, bumping, scratching, or touching, would damage them. There just wasn't any more time. They had to go.
So, early Saturday morning the family helped me load up my van with artwork. The first stop was Cardinal Frame and Art in San Marcos - 16 miles south from my house. There, I dropped off five paintings and six watercolors that all needed custom frames. Jennifer Rosa, the proprietress of Cardinal Frame, was a dream to work with. She knew her stuff and was very mindful, and knowledgable, about spongy canvases. I left there, a little nervous leaving my paintings behind, and headed to Jerry's Artarama, 35 miles in the opposite direction, to pick up mats and frames for the pieces I was going to prepare myself. After six hours of driving around, I got home and collapsed.
The next morning, after a long sleep, I gave my studio a thorough cleaning so I could prepare the watercolors. It took me a day to mat them, an evening to get them into frames, and two more days to install the hardware. All the pieces I had to prepare are now hang ready, in boxes, and waiting to be delivered to the gallery. The paintings at Cardinal Frame will be ready to be picked up in ten days. Leaving me one day to deliver all the work to the gallery at the scheduled time. The last four months have been quite the ride!!
Nothing to do now but wait.
This is the fourth post of a six part series sharing the body of of work I have created over the last two years and my journey leading up to my solo show:
April 8 - 30, 2022
Opening reception April 8, 5-8 pm
Assemblage Contemporary Craftsman Gallery
306 S. Main Street, Suite 106