Total Art Soul - for artists

" I am only a child playing on the beach, while vast oceans of truth lie undiscovered before me "
Isaac Newton


Open Air-Gallery represents two artists:  my husband and me.  With my new career as a full time artist, I decided to go ahead and form our virtual gallery this past fall.  The virtual gallery is of course our website but it sometimes appears in 3D and when it does, we're in the open air.


Our shared painting studio resides in our "cottage"( code word for a small house).  We moved our bed out of our master bedroom and moved in easels, tables, etc.  several years ago.  It's certainly not a master bedroom any longer.  It's an organized mess and the splotches of paint  on the carpet are not a pretty sight but I have realized it's a sign of productivity,  which is a good thing for an artist.  As you can expect, our studio is not a huge space, but we make it work, sometimes bumping into each other as we work.


One morning this past spring, I looked out onto our wooded yard and pondered how I could get our work seen without renting viewing space,  asking to hang our work on the walls of a restaurant, coffee house, etc.  or having to be invited by a gallery.  I remembered an artist acquaintance who had a studio show in his downtown loft and I've read of other artists having studio shows and doing very well.  There is also an artist in my town that holds two shows a year in her home and advertises it in the newspaper.  And so  I considered that since our home has our studio it might be conceivable to have a "home/studio" art event.  As I continued looking out the window I thought, "It's too bad that our house is not as big as our yard" and then it hit me:  have the show outside and let the trees hold our art.  The event would of course need a name and that is where Open Air Gallery came to mind.


I thought the name was clever and creative until I Googled "open air gallery" and found out my concept was not original but hey, it's still very cool and so I stayed with the idea.  We haven't had our first "yard show" yet but I've paved the way by doing some other things.


I decided to first take our show on the road which meant outside under a tent at a local art fair.  I sent in the jury fee and photos of our work and Open Air Gallery was accepted to participate.  We purchased the white tent and bought pegboard to display our work.  Pegboard, isn't the best backdrop in which to display art but it's the cheapest.  We cut three 8 ft. x 4 ft. board in half and used large "S" hooks to hang them to the frame of the tent which worked out well because the heavy pegboard also weights the tent down.  Smaller "s" hooks were used to hang the work.  I painted a sign and threw a cloth over a card table and the end result was folksy and quaint.


The day of the art festival was sunny and scorching hot, 104 degrees.  It was like a sauna which ninety nine percent of the town folks did not want to be in and therefore chose to remain at home in air conditioning.   The oppressive heat resulted in low attendance.  We sold 5 paintings though, which paid for our jury fee and tent set up and we packed up at the end of the day feeling OK with our new venture.


After this festival, I set up the website.  I researched art website domains, chose one, and in a couple of weeks had it up and running all by myself  ( and without paying out very much cash.  Since the website represents two artists, my husband and me,  I decided to use Open Air Gallery for the website rather than using our own names.  If you don't have a website, please consider getting one.  Trust me, if I can set one up, ANYONE can.  The art site I chose made the process easy, accessible, and reasonably priced.  Since setting up, I have found marketing myself and Bob so much easier.  When I apply for a juried festival or show I only need to refer them to the website.


I did just that last September when I sent in an application for a Fall Festival that we were accepted to and participated in two weeks ago.  I plan on writing about that one experience next and already have the title: "The Fall Festival that Fell Flat."  Bye for now.



I read today that texting and instant messaging are superior to emailing because the first two are "in your face" connections.  Makes sense to me:   I write a text message,  press send, and the intended's phone either vibrates or makes a noise indicating that somebody has something to say.  I write an email however, and the message may sit in the "inbox" for hours, days, weeks, or maybe never if it gets lost in cyberspace.  I suppose it could be said that emails are the "wallflowers" of the tech world.  

I can relate to being like an email, since I was a wallflower at every dance I attended as a teenager.   I entered the dance, stood next to my girlfriends, and waited for someone to approach to ask me to dance.  No one ever did.  If I could go back in time, I would definitely be more like a text message: here I am, let's dance!

Being in the art world is much like being at a highschool dance.  There are a lot of us in attendance:  some get to dance and others "hold up" the wall.  What is so very frustrating for the wallflowers is that most are fabulous dancers but like e mail,  have to wait to be noticed.  

A while back I read somewhere that the difference between the successful artist and the starving artist is marketing.  Twenty years ago, an artist's means of getting noticed required the leg work of the artist,  or for the fortunate artist, an agent or gallery doing the promoting.  The famous pop artist Wayne Theibaud (he painted all-American foods in thick luscious oil paints) did his own leg work.  With paintings in tow,  he walked all over New York City, entering gallery after gallery hearing rejection after rejection.  The last gallery on his list however, liked his work and today you can "google" famous artist painting cakes and his name pops up on the search engine page.  If your one of the lucky ones, like an artist acquaintance of mine who paints beautiful landscapes, you have that agent or in her case, mother-in-law, who like the text message, got her daughter- in- law gallery representation by making someone stop and  take notice.  

I've seen hundreds of works on the internet that are just as beautiful as my friend's paintings, created by artists who don't have mother -in -laws,  agents , or galleries representing them.   Like me, these artists have technology to help them get noticed.  I'm amazed at the artist portals, like , available at no cost.  There are portals that provide websites for artists and I even found a couple of free offers for those who don't mind having advertisements scrolling along side the artwork.  

I've been retired from my "day job" for  a year, spending a good portion of each day in my studio painting and finally several weeks ago, I  built a website.  In my research,  I discovered that my website is much like an email:  it serves no purpose if it can't be found or doesn't get opened.   Everyday since uploading my website, I have NOT been in my studio painting but rather on my computer.  For my website to get noticed, it needs to be "searchable", which means getting on the first page of the search engine when someone "googles" oil paintings on canvas, for example.  I've got to "vibrate" the search engines by Twittering, Facebooking, and blogging.  Thank goodness for on-line newsletters like which has provided me with "the much needed" tech information necessary to get my work out into cyberspace, on computer screens, and perhaps finally on a few walls.  

If you would like to know exactly what I've been doing to promote my website, leave me a comment.

Art in the Studio: If I wanted to write, I'd be a writer, part 3

Posted by: openairgallery

Tagged in: Untagged 


I had a comment on my blog site today asking me if I was going to post the artist statement that I've been talking about in my first two posts.  I hadn't planned on it because I didn't want to presume that a reader would really be interested since he or she wasn't seeking it out for himself (herself).  After some thought, I have decided to post it to illustrate the revision of the first two paragraph statement to the statement printed below, written years later.  Underlined phrases and sentences were found in the first statement.  I also just realized as I reread, that I deleted the first paragraph of the original statement when I revised.    

If you want to view a few of my paintings after you read my artist statement, you can find them here in my gallery.  If you prefer to see
many of my paintings, you can visit my website which is named at the top of the artist statement below my name. (My husband's work is also on the website.)  I hope reading what I wrote will be helpful to all of you who have not yet written an artist statement.

Artist Statement

Melody Croft

Painting has been my part-time passion for the last 18 years but, as of August 2009, is now my fulltime occupation.  I am an emerging artist who captures people, places and things with oil paints onto canvas.   Unlike the lens of a camera that objectively documents a moment in time and space, my lens or “my reality” subjectively celebrates and commemorates a subject.



I attribute my works subject matter and style to the hundreds of young children I have been associated with for the last 30 years in my former profession as a teacher.  The daily interactions with the children and most importantly, the moment-by- moment immersion into their concrete thinking “reality lenses” rest on my canvases.  Although my work is not childish, I find that it is child-like in its essence.  My canvases embrace everyday people and objects and celebrate them via simplistic lines, shapes, values, and textures in bright colors.  My brush work reminds me of children’s crayon marks pressed forcefully on the white surface of art paper and my finished paintings take me back to the multitude of finished coloring pages that my school children loved to do and would hold up proudly for me to see.

Painting reality in this somewhat impressionistic style breaks down life’s many complexities and forces me to live in the moment.  Time does not exist as I reach inside myself and connect with the subject before me. The elements of the subject (color, shape, line, value, texture) and the feelings or thoughts that the subject may evoke in me envelope me like the threads of a cocoon.  And as the cocoon provides the caterpillar a safe place to transform, the painting process allows me time to evolve emotionally and intellectually.  Painting centers me just as breathing centers a Zen Buddhist.

I aspire for each of my paintings to be a portal to momentary rest and renewal for those who choose to stop and look.  May my work move viewers toward a more childlike appreciation of our complex world.


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