Let the Open Studio Tour commence! Just like last year, I’m an artist on the Whidbey Island Open Studio Tour – a Tour where art enthusiasts can visit artists in their studios and ask more questions about how and why their art is made. (I wrote about it earlier. I Am Number 1) For the artists it is a way to deal directly with patrons and compatriots and sell without another fee except for the application. I use the Tour as a way to show all of my art, its progression, and how it all interrelates – and to tell my work. I am a nature photographer. My tools are my camera, my laptop, and a ski pole I use as a mono-pod. My studio is the world. Being on the Tour means turning my living room into a gallery / demo space so a hundred or so people can walk through. Being on the Tour also means a change in my regular Saturday blogging. Welcome to two days in the life of an artist, because I’ll blog about it tomorrow too.
Blogging chronicle style
Start with breakfast and Car Talk because I don’t want to be thinking solely of the Tour today, and as I woke it was trying to be that way. I woke at 7:00am without an alarm. Before I sat up, my mind was already running through the details of the day. I’ve done this before. Make sure there is nibble food for me because lunch may not happen. Say oops because I didn’t buy nibble food for the visitors. I was in the grocery and couldn’t decide what to get that wouldn’t smudge, require plates or cups, or wouldn’t kick off allergies. I’m glad I put the signs up last night. There are a few more things but get up and get breakfast and listen to something completely different.
While making breakfast and a thermos of tea, make sure to take some Oriental meds that bolster the immune system. Make sure to have sanitizer out for folks that want it. There’s a nasty flu going around and I don’t want it and don’t want to encourage it either.
Check email. Yay! I already had a sale – well, at the gallery last night. Cool. Thanks Raven Rocks.
Go out, grab the newspaper, and talk to an early morning walker who asked about the Tour. Doh! I forgot to tell her that it’s free.
Wonder if I’ll have to give any house tours. The house is for sale too. (Home For Sale Alas) Buy the art. Buy the house. Buy it all. One stop shopping.
Crunch some lavender to make the place smell a little bit less like a bachelor’s place.
Slow car drove by. The Tour doesn’t start until 10am, but I’d let them in. They are inspiration to go to the bathroom now.
Collect wrapping materials.
Cue the music, and turn the tv into a slideshow instead of a dead black box. Glad Roku streams my online slideshows.
What else do I have to do that I can’t or won’t do during open hours? Oh yeah, breath and stretching exercises.
Decide to simmer some herbs from the garden for aroma and for an eventual soup.
It’s 10:01 and no one’s dropped by yet. Oh woe. Patience. Chill out watching some YouTube. Thank you Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen.
One last look around – and ah ha! I found a better way to display the prices.
Being on the tour is part of that artist’s exercise in humility where we put ourselves out there with no assurance that anyone will show up. It is always good to have something constructive to do in the meantime. As a writer I’ve been on book signings when no one dropped by and I spent my time helping customers navigate the store. So today I am going to settle into some photo work. I don’t enhance my nature photos because I prefer nature be seen naturally, but I’ve decided to create what I call facebook posters. (Check my earlier post “Trends In Images” for the why of it.) I’m incorporating my photos with my words to create downloads, posters, coffee mugs, t-shirts, whatever people want because they want art in their world, but sometimes they want it somewhere besides the living room wall.
Prepare for every eventuality, including the null set.
Take a good idea from someone else on the Tour. He took a picture of the studio and posted it on facebook as an invitation. I shall do the same. Thanks Denis.
Moments later a car actually pulls up. Glad to see it work that well.
Traffic begins. I like the woman from the north end who came to the south end to prove it could be done.
1 from Coupeville She’s a compatriot who wanted to compare notes. She particularly liked the translucent satins that work as window hangings.
A friend called to check in. That’s appreciated.
My first visitor had to shift some of the photos to see them. I think I’ll temporarily cull the inventory.
2 friends dropped by. They help organize the Mr. South Whidbey, and think I should be on it. I’m honored. Maybe next year, if I’m living on South Whidbey. But the house is for sale, I don’t know if or where or when I’ll get a job, and there are Too Many Ifs.
1 neighbor friend even brings food, and agrees that I should run for Mr. South Whidbey. Okay, that takes some explaining. Mr. South Whidbey is a fundraising event for Friends of Friends, a medical support fund. The man who wins Mr. South Whidbey is the man who raises the most money for the charity. Maybe I’ll dance for my donations. Stay tuned. The cause is definitely worthwhile, and appropriate for a place with a mix of the wealthy and the necessarily struggling. Have you heard the term, “Starving Artist”?
Sale! One matted and sleeved print. He can mail me the money later. Thanks, John.
A Double Bluff print sold. It reminded him of everyday beauty.
Quick, a bathroom break.
Glad I ate a bit of chicken earlier. Those almonds were appreciated too.
2 nice women dropped by and chatted for over thirty minutes. They loved the satins. One is probably going to take my class in Modern Self-Publishing too. (I’ve got my books out and the subject came up.) The other one may start following my blog as I write about small houses. She’s a fan and an advocate and developing a neighborhood based on the idea.
1 supportive neighbor came in as he always does.
1 friend, Joe Menth, who prints my prints subsequently stayed for an hour answering questions for the next guests.
2 folks that own a hand-built country estate filled with the best of everything they need to have fun; including excellent camera equipment. They had lots of interesting questions. He’s led an Interesting Life, but the book is not for sale even though he finished it last year.
I was so busy that there’s wasn’t a 1pm report.
Eat bits of chicken and slices of cheese.
Meditate during a gap. Relax my facial muscles and my jaw.
This is the first year I’ve been the only person in the neighborhood on the show. The next nearest stop on the Tour is miles away. This is a lot less traffic than previous years. Maybe that’s why.
Besides the artist lesson in humility, being on the Tour is also a business decision. Are the benefits greater than the cost? As in most businesses, the costs may be obvious and upfront. The benefits come later. I paid to be on the Tour, devoted a lot of time and energy to it. Now I wait to see if I’ve done enough. Will people drive this far? The total numbers may not be as important because while I may get fewer visitors, the ones that are coming this far have demonstrated some level of commitment. A greater percentage of them may be willing to buy. In previous years, the majority of the sales came from very few individuals. There’s no way to except to try. Ah, but “No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back So, I guess the brand name response is: “Just Do It” – Nike, Inc.
Time for a cookie (homemade, gluten-free, oatmeal coconut) as someone comes up.
2 women, one from the opposite peninsula, one from Federal Way each buy a book. (Twelve Months at Double Bluff and Twelve Months at Cultus Bay) They were color-coordinated and didn’t know it, but they’ve known each other since grade school. They were determined. They couldn’t find a brochure so they printed out all of the thumbnails, and accidentally left them at home.
3 more from Seattle. They’ve been here since 10am and I was their last stop. Thanks for stopping.
1 client dropped by. She wanted to see the art, but her main purpose was to drop off a copy of her first book that I helped her publish. Sweet. Sorry folks, it is for private distribution only, but I got a copy.
The sun is finally reaching past the eaves to make the satins look there best. Now’s the time for visitors to become buyers.
In the meantime I’ve been working on the poster. I uploaded but there’s a glitch that I can’t correct. Hmm. There’s also a regatta passing by with spinnakers flying. Maybe I’ll concentrate on them instead.
The sound of gravel crunching and a car door closing, footsteps.
2 people, one agent and her client were looking at houses and saw the signs. Sure, look at art. Look at the house. Buy either or both. I think they decided on neither, but they were very polite about it.
The poster worked! It only looks like the glitch is real. Life isn’t WYSISWG.
A neighbor called to hear how things were going. She’d seem some traffic but hadn’t kept track. Well, it might be a bit odd if she did.
4:58pm Two more minutes and I suspect a neighbor is about to come in. I’ll stay open.
4:59pm But I might start mixing a drink soon.
5pm The whistle has blown so I’m going to wet or whet my whistle.
But first I shall summarize and conclude.
In attaching the tags for this post I realized that I’ve covered almost all of my usual tags because of the various conversations I’d just had. It is a diverse day. Every topic came up, including frugality and stock investing because they wanted to know why the house is for sale. This isn’t boring. My life is public. I think I’m going to go sit quietly for a while. But there’s a bathroom break that needs to be taken. Doing this alone has its issues.
Total for the day: 17 people, 3 sales that almost covered the registration fee.
Hopes for tomorrow: I always hope for tomorrow.