Why I Like to Paint Small

Painting Small – Great Marketing Material

Recently I finished a 16 inch by 20 inch fall painting that just didn’t come together the way I had hoped. I’m still in the fiddling stage with this one.

Fall at Tiffany Falls

Autumn at Tiffany Falls

It is disappointing to spend a whole week or more carefully crafting a large painting only to discover that it missed the mark. Frustrating actually. However, that is a fact of life and as long as there are lessons to be learned then it wasn’t a total waste. In this case, possible a smaller version to test out the idea first would have been good?

And that’s why I like to paint small. These lovely little paintings can be put into matting, placed in plastic and sold inexpensively. Each of these only took an afternoon or so to paint, not that I was in a hurry, but let’s face it how long can it take to cover 5 x 7 inches of mixed media paper?

old barn

Old Barn



fall hills

Fall Hills 5 x 7





Recapping the advantages of small paintings:

  • Less time to seeing results
  • Smaller investment of time and materials if dissatisfied
  • Make lovely inexpensive painting to sell if satisfied
  • Test out ideas and techniques

    sailing Hamilton Bay

    Sailing the Bay

  • Handy example to follow should you decide to paint larger
  • Creates great marketing material to use as giveaways or other promotional opportunities
  • Feeling very productive!
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Where Are Your Business Cards Ending Up?

The Problem With Business Cards

On a trip to Las Vegas, I saw people on the sidewalk handing out business cards to tourists

trail bridge acrylic painting

post card – acrylic – 5×7 inches to use as a handout.

for upcoming shows and (other things).  A block away all these cards were carelessly discarded by the hundreds.  So, is it sensible to hand out business cards randomly to anyone who is polite enough to accept them but who will likely ditch them as soon as they are out of sight?  Seems like a big waste of money to me.

Why not wait until someone asks for a  business card?  Chances are then that they may keep it.  Only once in 3 years has anyone called me using my business card and that was a card taken from a stack of cards that I left with a painting at an exhibition.   Again, if people want the cards let them ask or offer them for people to take.

Having said that, maybe there are other ways to give out our contact information.  Instead of the business card you could hand out greeting cards, post cards, mini calendars or bookmarks.  These handouts would naturally feature your art.  People are more likely to keep a “little gift”.

I don’t know about you but I have a drawer full of hand painted calendars, you know the ones you get when you give money to certain charities.  These are beautiful so I keep them for when I want to frame one someday or whatever.  But business cards collect in drawers or purses only to be trashed after a time.  Often I don’t even remember who gave them to me but calendars and greeting cards stay around forever — just in case.

I’m sure business cards are important in some cases but I wonder if it is profitable to hand them out indiscriminately.  What do you think?

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Appreciation as a Marketing Strategy


I’m a bit of an introvert so when someone tells me they find it hard to talk to strangers I can relate. That said, if you want to sell art you really are the best person to promote your

postcard collage of my art

postcard of my art – Sample post card

own work, are you not?

Several of my pieces have sold in auctions in my absence but an artist statement accompanied each work. Therefore, whether in person or not, the buyer has some information about the artist and/or the artwork.

The preferred way to get to know your customers is face to face where a prospective buyer can ask you questions that you might not think to cover in an artist statement.

collage of new art

Collage of art – Sample post card

When you open yourself up to chatting with people it becomes easier to ask them for their

contact info so you can keep in touch. Creating a profile of people interested in your art is a

great way to get the demographics you need for future marketing strategy.

This is where appreciation comes into play:

  • Get into the habit of saying hello, get the person’s name and then use it.
  • Ask the person how they are and pay attention to the meaning behind the answer. (Some people are shy or skittish about getting into a sales pitch so be authentic).
  • Find out as much as you can about them drawing the person out so that they are doing the most talking and you the most listening.
  • When there is interest in your work make the sale easy by telling them what you will do when and how.
  • Always thank them for their interest.
  • When you get a contact make sure you send a thank you note soon afterwards.
  • When you make a sale make absolutely sure you follow-up with a thank you and offer further help.
  • It might be a great idea to offer freebies such as post cards or some other small item like a bookmark, a free greeting card all with your art featured.

People don’t always remember what you tell them but they do remember how you made

them feel. Make your prospective buyers

feel like royalty and they are sure to remember you and more likely to tell others. Appreciation can go a long way!

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12 Simple Tips to Promote Your Art

The best way I know of promoting your art is to make use of every social media and every avenue available to let people know who you are and what you do.  It does take patience and time; however, if you have something of value you will get noticed.

A few weeks ago I put 3 – 8×8 inch paintings in the Festival of Friends celebration at the Ancaster fair grounds.  This seemed like an unlikely place to sell art but I figured that there would be exposure to a new audience and I was rewarded with the sale of one painting.


  • Add an image of your art to every post to keep the focus on your art and not the web page design. The page design should promote your art above anything else.

    Yellow cabs

    Yellow Cabs

  • Meet more people because the more you know the more people there are to buy your art.
  • Remember people’s names and use them.  Build email lists and keep in contact.
  • Focus on building trust and relationship instead of just selling.
  • Get your own name and signature down and use them consistently.
  • That goes for your business cards and website as well. Consistently use the same fonts and general appearance on everything.
  • Define your target market as narrowly as possible to focus on your best prospect.
  • Publish your blog consistently. A neglected blog looks bad.
  • Place your name prominently at the top of each page.
  • Use as many social media platforms as you can being consistent in posting to each of them.
  • Enter as many exhibitions as possible.  Donate art where appropriate.  In short get your art in front of people wherever and whenever possible.
  • Give people something useful so they will want to return.
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12 Ways to be More Efficient in the Studio

We all have days that seem to go off the rails and stay there all day.  Sometimes the silliest things create extra work that further derails your day.  Here are  12 ways I use to stay efficient.

12 Ways To Organize and be more Efficient

  1. Try to set your work area up in the same way each time so that everything has a place. If you don’t have the room to leave your art supplies out then try to put them away in the same place each time.  I keep painting knives in a cardboard shoe box; short paintbrushes in one glass and long-handled ones in another.  Pencils are in a shoebox while erasers and sponges (for painting) are in a plastic tub.  All of these are on a shelf by my work area.
  2. Keep a list of supplies you are running low on or items you want to add and keep this list handy so you don’t forget to take it when you go for supplies. Although I have not done this yet, sometimes it can be convenient to order supplies online and have them delivered.
  3. Let the answering machine take those phone calls when work is going well for you. You can always get caught up on a break.
  4. I used to paint in a loft over the staircase. One time I knocked a glass of water over spilling water through the railing to the steps as well as the floor below.  Even though it was only water, the carpeted steps were soaked as was the hardwood floor. Now I place water in a place where I may have to reach for it but it is safe from being knocked over.  Could be a disaster if it hits the laptop or even the canvas.
  5. I try to make use of my easel so that both my hands are free. For small work I have been known to have the canvas on the table surface holding it with one hand while painting with the other. This is not such a good practice because sometimes I accidentally dip the canvas in wet paint. Eating and painting are seldom a good combination. Chocolate and coffee are hard to get off white canvas. Take a break.
  6. If I am using a reference photo then I save a copy in a folder called temp. This is where I keep the images that I plan to use for a painting so it saves time trying to find it in among hundreds of images in my photo albums.
  7. Have everything you need to complete your artwork at hand like chalk, pastel or pencils and an eraser for drawing your composition on the canvas.
  8. Keep a wet cloth or paper towel handy for wiping paint off your fingers or even wiping paint off the canvas if you get some where it wasn’t intended.
  9. Plan your day around painting to allow for appointments, meal preparation, walks and so on. Track your time like any employee and don’t forget to take a break to stretch or stand back to check your progress.
  10. If possible mix enough paint to get the job done. This will not only save time but avoids the frustration of not being able to mix exactly same color twice.
  11. Sometimes it helps to have more than one project on the go so that if you hit a road block you can switch jobs and keep working.
  12. Set a time to paint where and when you will be most productive and don’t  let anything else interfere with this time.

Showing up is half the battle to being productive; efficiency is mostly common sense and organization.  How do you stay organized?

*********************** When Things Go Well ************************

The Old Barn was a painting I did in one afternoon where I started out using painting knives but finished off with brushes.  Although not a masterpiece, when the time is used efficiently productivity is the result.

old barn

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What Sells a Painting?

at the docks

At The Docks

The painting “At the Docks” sold at Festival of Friends at the Ancaster Fairgrounds this past weekend.  The man who bought the painting said that he just loved it.  It was one of three 8×8 painting that I did on the Maritime.  There were many comments on the Fishing Village and the Lighthouse but not that many on this one.  Why?

The painting idea came from similar buildings at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  What I loved about it was the bright red color of all the buildings on the docks in this picturesque little town.

The town of Lunenburg was first known as Mirligueche, an Acadian/Mi’kmaq village in the 1600s.  Edward Cornwallis ordered the village of wooden houses destroyed after recurring hostilities between the French and English.  The harbour is an ideal place for the British fortress  that was later built to guard the harbour.

Because of its natural beauty the town has become a haven for artists.  While my husband and I visited, we toured many artists set up in old houses as their studios.  These houses had walls filled with gorgeous artwork much of it depicting local scenery.  Did you know that the harbour is also home to the famous Bluenose II?

So what sells a painting?  I believe that there must be an emotional connection to the art.

I’ve imagined some of the reasons this man loved this painting:

  • The man may have liked boating or fishing or colorful buildings.
  • He may have grown up in a fishing village or be from the Maritime.
  • He may have fond memories of a visit to a similar place.
  • There might have been a favorite book from his childhood with colorful buildings.
  • It might have reminded him of a good movie.
  • Perhaps he is just a dreamer. There is something about living on a large body of water  - imagining foreign places, being close to a route to another place.
  • He likes the color red.

Of course some people are very practical in their art choice and it may be nothing more than the art will look good in a particular spot or is the right size to fill an empty space – it will fit the decor.  So what does sell a painting?  I suspect the answer to that is as varied as personal taste.  What do you think?


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Festival of Friends Art Gallery

Ancaster Fair Grounds Art on Display

Women’s Art Association of Hamilton (WAAH) members will have paintings on display and for sale at this year’s Festival of Friends held at the Ancaster Fair Grounds August 8 to 10, 2014 at the following address:

Marritt Hall Ancaster Fairgrounds
630 Trinity Road South
Jerseyville, Ontario, L0R 1R0

The gallery will be open 2 – 8 on Friday and 12 – 8 on Saturday and Sunday.

I will have my three Maritime paintings for sale $75 each.


by the sea


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Art in the Workplace 15th Exhibition

McMaster Innovation Park

MIP-15th Exhibition

These are my two entries into the Art in the Workplace 15th exhibition.

A bluejay sitting on a tree stump

10 x 8 Acrylic $75.00


Joey – 8 x 10 Acrylic Not for Sale


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History Buff Alert – Have You Been Here?



Martintown Grist Mill

Martintown Grist Mill

My husband, Lorne, and I are off to his home town of Martintown, Ontario, population: 531, for a family type reunion. This gave me the idea of sharing this interesting little town with you.

The newly renovated Martintown Grist Mill now includes tours of the inside, artifacts, as well as art and t-shirts for sale. In recent years the Strawberry Festival that takes place June 21 on the lawn of the mill has become a huge success. The mill is open to the public every Sunday from June 21 to September 21.

The Martintown Mill’s official website can be found at martintownmill.org and the Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/MartintownMill.  Here you can read about and see pictures of the market mill, the grist mill history and much more.

Be sure to check out the Martintown Trading Post at https://www.facebook.com/martintowntradingpost1803. Once a grocery/hardware/general store the Trading Post now has wonderful art and antique treasures, a restaurant, a bakery and much more.

It is truly amazing to see how a passionate group of people can together turn their little corner of the world into a treasure that is sure to enrich the lives of all who are fortunate enough to find this wonderful small town and its remarkable people.

Steeped in history, the area is at times more Scottish that Scotland. The Maxville Highland games set to start the August 1st weekend is a world renown celebration that draws some 90 plus bagpipe bands, Scottish dancers and athletes.   Just a few miles east of Martintown is the St. Raphael’s ruins that in 1999 was declared a National Historic site. After a major fire burned one of the earliest Roman Catholic churches in English-speaking Canada only the outer walls remain. More information can be found at http://www.saintraphaelsruins.com. These are only a few of the historical sites in the area. It is a must see for history buffs.

My interest in the area remains largely family and friends; however, since taking up acrylic painting, I have not failed to notice all the wonderful opportunities for some open-air paintings.


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How to Paint Great Still Life

In a word – symbolism

According to an article that I read,  artists today just seem to place items in their paintings that seem randomly chosen. OK, so this is a problem – why? If the items look good together what’s the harm?  I guess the real question is – what’s the point?  I must admit that I have often wondered why someone would paint a beautiful bouquet and then place a skull beside it but each to their own. It would seem that there is a point to this and here’s what I learned by investigating how to paint great still life.

These are some of the common symbols that you probably all know:

  • Roses are typically a sign for love but a faded rose love lost or fading beauty.
  • Butterflies in flight reminds us of resurrection.
  • An hourglass is time slipping by.
  • A skull – death.
  • Bunches of grapes – symbolizes the Holy Communion.
  • Cup and bread represent the blood of Christ and His body.
  • Apple – original sin.
  • Whole lemons suggest fidelity. Half-peeled lemons warn that life isn’t always sweet but sour as well.
  • Oysters and shells are usually associated with sensual desire although scallop shells or clams symbolize the Virgin Mary.
  • A knife signifies that life is fragile.
  • Lobsters suggest abundance. Other types of fish could represent the bounty of the sea.
  • Gilt and silver dishes, brass serving stands show wealth and ostentation.
  • Mice symbolize decay.
  • Clocks and watches remind us that life is short.
  • Grapes can symbolize fertility and salvation but also remind us of the dangers of debauchery.
  • Whole peaches – truth; split peaches – human excess and frailty.
  • Plums symbolize loyalty in Christianity but could also suggest a costly pleasure.
  • Cherries could suggest sweetness of good works as well as fleeting sensual pleasure.
  • A gourd means the pursuit of luxury.
  • Rotten fruit is a symbol of aging.
  • Foods in general like fruit, vegetables and meat when depicted as fresh symbolizes abundance; where, decaying food reminds of immortality or coming change.
  • Money, purses, jewelry and boxes, mirrors and glass balls all suggest vanity and narcissism.
  • Feathers stand for hope, faith and charity but can also represent freedom.

This is not an exhaustive list but symbolizes how important it is to research your subject beforehand. Whereas it is nice to paint a lovely still life composed of objects that are esthetically pleasing, to get the full effect of a work of art it should emotionally impact the viewer.

Following is a video of a commissioned work.  What was the person who commissioned the work hoping to convey to his restaurant clients with this painting?

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