Author Archive | Laureen

How to Find Gallery Representation

Reach out. Keep faith…

???????????????????????????????A day’s work

The world outside my studio is sparkling with diamonds. The snow on the ground looks like someone sprayed it with glitter. In southwest Saskatchewan where I live near Grasslands National Park, last night’s low temperature reached -35C/-31F. Today, ice crystals float glimmering in the air. Indoors where it’s warm, I’m chasing a leaf. A painted leaf. I’ve been chasing it for two days. I reach out a brush stroke, push the paint away, lift, swirl, swipe. Yesterday I swiped at that leaf for two hours and this morning I wiped the paint off and began again. Six square inches of colour. How can this be so hard?

It is. It isn’t. Despite swiping and wiping and no idea what I’m doing, I also know that in the end, if I have faith and keep on, there will be something there. Something that looks inevitable and right, as though it happened when the paint fell by itself off my brush.

And this is how to find gallery representation. Reach out, push away, wipe off, keep on. Have faith.

To find gallery representation you need information. Does the gallery you’re thinking about exhibit artwork like yours? Does the gallery exhibit artwork by artists at your stage of development? Is the gallery accepting submissions? Do you like this gallery and its staff? Are you showing them the right work? How many pieces? How long will it take to get a response? Should you follow up? When should you persist? When should you quit?

You also need support.

At the end of 2012, the dealer I had been with for 15 years retired. With a big solo public gallery exhibition to get ready for, I wasn’t ready to begin the search for new representation until mid-summer 2014. Now, six months later, my work is represented by the Assiniboia Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, a gallery that was established in 1977 and had its best year ever in 2014. I’m very happy with the results of my search. My plan is to produce enough work for this dealer and then to begin a new search for a second one. I expect that again this time it will take at least as long and require as much reaching out and wiping off and having faith as chasing a leaf does. I’ve been in this art business for a long time. I know the practical, the hard and the right.

In a few weeks I’m going to re-open and launch my private artist mentoring program. If you’d like to get advance notice so you can decide if my brand of long-time experience and keeping faith is the kind of support you need in your artist’s life, just put your email in the box on the right to receive blog posts. You’ll be the first to hear.

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Precarious Balance

And the whistling wind…

Blog-new-painting-3aBeginning again

There are days when the paint flows off your brush like water down a string. And days when it feels like you’re poking clay with a stick. When you feel like Sisyphus in a song by the late great Jesse Winchester that I used to listen to back when the world was young. “So I play the fool, but I can’t sit still. Let me get this rock to the top of this hill.

The first book I ever read about the real life of an artist was Daybook by Anne Truitt. Originally published in 1984 , long before it was easy to record your smallest thoughts and put them out for the world to read in blogs or self-published e-books, Daybook was Truitt’s journal, created over a period of seven years as she determined to come to terms with the forces that shaped her art and life.

I come back to that book often. Here is one paragraph, written on July 6, 1974.

“Balancing intuition against sensory information, and sensitivity to one’s self against pragmatic knowledge of the world, is not a stance unique to artists. The specialness of artists is the degree to which these precarious balances are crucial backups for their real endeavor. Their essential effort is to catapult themselves wholly, without holding back one bit, into a course of action without any idea where they will end up. They are like riders who gallop into the night, eagerly leaning on their horse’s neck, peering into a blinding rain. And they have to do it over and over again. When they find that they have ridden and ridden – maybe for years, full tilt – in what for them is a mistaken direction, they must unearth within themselves some readiness to turn and to gallop off again. They may spend a little time scraping off the mud, resting the horse, having a hot bath, laughing and sitting in candlelight with friends. But in the back of their minds they never forget that the dark, driving run is theirs to make again. They need their balances in order to support their risks. The more they develop an understanding of all their experience – the more it is at their command – the more they carry with them into the whistling wind.”

Tonight I am balanced in the affection of good friends, in a glass of wine, in music. Tomorrow will bring either flowing water or the weight of stones.

What do you carry with you?

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The Promise of Better

And a failure to comply…

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Dining table before compliance

On a January afternoon like this one you hesitate to go outdoors, even though the sun is shining and the temperature is well above freezing. There’s a north-northwest wind gusting to 70 km/45 mi per hour. You could blow right over, into one of the large and ice-bottomed puddles that spread on my village’s roads during a melt. Instead, it’s a good day for admitting that there’s no such thing as being a full time, all the time, no-excuses artist. Not unless you count being bookkeeper, studio assistant, preparator, curator, publicist, researcher and webmaster as part of that.

Of course, you have to. Like many artists, I’d rather spend all my time at the easel, struggling with whatever painting is currently giving me grief, but like most artists, I know that if I don’t do these other things, no one will.

And there are long stretches sometimes when no one does. Especially no one does the bookkeeping. Numbers and I have an uneasy relationship. Sorting receipts and entering dollar amounts is one of the least fun things I can think of.

But the bookkeeping has gotten out of hand. I’m almost nine months in arrears in my Canadian Goods and Services Tax filing. Revenue Canada Agency is sending me letters in brown envelopes. I’m called “non-compliant” and my tax refunds will be withheld. Vaguely, worse threats hover.

So today, in the wind, I will comply. Sort receipts into three-month quarters, then into categories within the quarters. Enter numbers into Excel spreadsheets. I give thanks for Excel. Add up kilometers travelled for business and expenses for business use of home. Figure out the car’s percentage of business use and the studio’s percentage of costs to run my house. Use bank deposit book to enter income by source. How much GST did I pay? That’s input costs. How much did I charge? That’s GST collected or collectible. Subtract one from the other. Hold my breath.

Let my breath go. GST is collectible from only Canadian sources. In 2014 much of my income was American. In all quarters, I collected less GST than what I paid. Revenue Canada owes me, not the other way around. I press the File button on the GST web page. Now there are no more brown envelopes to worry about. No more vague threats.

You’d think I’d learn. Not let things get like this. I always promise to do better next time. But my easel is still more fun than the file folders. My lack of love for numbers is a failing, I know. We all have a few.

What are you promising to do better?

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How To Start a Painting

Beginning…

???????????????????????????????Photo and drawing

For me starting a painting isn’t an action, it’s a series of steps. Choose an object. Arrange the object somewhere, including lights that cast shadows. Take photographs. Download the photos and begin the long process of fiddling with them on my computer. (“Fiddling with them” is my technical term.) Choose an image. Enhance colours, shadows, light. Crop. Print a sample. Redo. Do again. Sometimes find out that none of the images have meaning. Start again. Choose one print of those that make the first cut and begin to crop in earnest. Cropping means using strips of paper that I move around physically on the photo as I look for the subject at the heart of this object. When there is nothing left after cropping except that which can’t be taken away without losing meaning, fix the crop so it is in the proportion of the board I want to paint on. Occasionally find out that the board I wanted to paint on is nowhere near the right size for the intuitive heart of this image. In which case, begin again with this image or choose another image and begin again there. Draw the entire image on the board, using contour lines in terra cotta pencil.

Mix colours and paint.

When does the object become a subject? When does the subject have meaning?

When I begin to truly see it. Not just see what’s there, but see how its nature and substance reach out into the world and then draw the real world back inside the imagined one.

Sometimes I barely dare. Sometimes I rush forward, barely able to wait for whatever comes next.

Just start.

Where do you begin?

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Studio Listening: Thriving Artist Summit

What I’m listening to…

TAS-Banner-2014The Thriving Artist Summit

I like listening to art podcasts in the studio. Artist interviews, artist business, studio tips, creativity – the conversation helps keep my brain from intervening between my eyes and hand and saying I’m doing this wrong. Not that I’m dissing my brain! It’s a pretty good one and I’m fond of it. But in the art production game, less thinking/more doing seems to work better.

This week I’m listening to Bonnie Glendinning’s Thriving Artist Summit. It’s a collection of 25 hour-long interviews for artists, designers and makers on topics related to the business practice of being an artist. The interviews are available free of charge for 72 hours after they’re released, for four more days until January 18. Then you can still get them, but by purchase only. (And no, I don’t get a commission if you purchase. I’m mostly into the free content, myself.)

Bonnie Glendinning produced the summit for the first time last year and I really liked it. Plus I found a whole new bunch of possibilities for listening from the people she interviewed, some of whom have their own podcasts.

Listening keeps me showing up in the studio!

What are you listening to as you show up in the studio this week?

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Is This the Answer?

Just showing up?

???????????????????????????????A kitchen photo studio

Maybe the answer is not trying to be profound. Maybe the answer is just showing up.

What was the question? Oh yes. How to be an artist.

Yesterday I showed up in the kitchen. With my second easel, rescued from its languishing and dusty state in the back porch, where it landed when I shut down my Grasslands Gallery studio corner. With a few stems of flowers and my camera. With the idea of finding out what the light through that window might offer.

Beautiful sun. Though my house, where my studio is located, is bright, it doesn’t get a lot of direct sunlight. In the blazing days of summer I’m grateful for this. In the deep of January I could stand a little more.

Yesterday the kitchen was bright. Warm rays lit everything. I set up some simple still lifes with the easel as support and took their pictures.

Today I’m going to choose one image and start one painting. Profound isn’t required. Showing up is.

What are you showing up for?

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Wishing

The best of the season to you…

Blog-Christmas-b-2014Tree, 2014

May your days be merry and bright.

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What Will You Celebrate?

Everything is possible…

Blog-Swift-Current-Art-Gallery-HarwoodExhibition reception, Legacy, AGSR, with four paintings by Laureen Marchand on the right (photo: Robert W Harwood)

For two days the sky has been white. We’re in permanent twilight. The trees are thick with hoar frost, so full there is little distinction between branch and air. Heavy fog reduces visibility to almost nothing. Yesterday power was out in large areas of southern Saskatchewan, because the beautiful frost causes power lines to oscillate so forcefully that poles and cross-arms break. In rural areas, no power means no heat, no running water, no Internet. The temperature is -6 C/21 F and the humidity sits at 97%.

This time of year in Saskatchewan we run on weather. The days are drawn in and dark is lengthy, and whatever the conditions are, they always makes drama.

Last weekend I had planned to celebrate. The Art Gallery of Swift Current, in my nearest centre, is hosting a final art exhibition of the city’s centennial year and the gallery’s 40th. It’s called Legacy: A Swift Current History of Visual Art. The exhibition surveys the artists who have shown in Swift Current over the past 40 years and allows the community to reflect on the artists’ legacy and inspiration. I’m delighted to have four pieces in the show and the gallery was hosting a festive reception.

And artists need to enjoy these occasions. We have so much solitary time, so much wrestling with angels, often so little feedback, that we need to commemorate all the outside affirmation we get. So graphic designer and photographer Pamela Woodland, writer and photographer Robert W Harwood, and painter Catherine Macaulay, who also has work in the show, and I had planned to make the 125 km/75 mi journey to attend a party.

Not this time. December weather is itself. Freezing rain, fog, bad highways. It wasn’t my preferred kind of travel day.

Pam and Bob were feeling braver.  With some last errands to do before escaping Saskatchewan winter for a two-month house sitting tour in the kinder regions of British Columbia, they went anyway, finishing their afternoon at the gallery.

As Bob said about their driving experience, “It wasn’t a great ride, with ice forming on the road as we approached the town, and areas of pretty intense fog both there and back – visibility of maybe forty feet in places. I kept a wary eye out for deer…that drive [home] took about two hours.”

Two hours to make a trip that normally takes an hour and a quarter. I was very glad Pam and Bob had been there in my stead and equally glad I hadn’t tried.

But still, I feel like celebrating. My artwork is in the world, there are good people who see it, and amazingly, I have the opportunity to make more.

What will you celebrate?

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The blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

How Do You Get From the Past to Now?

And needing help getting here…

014-Marchand-Immaculate“Immaculate” by Laureen Marchand (24″ x 30″, oil/board, $2240 – from the exhibition Beholder)

I’m deep into the studio. So deep that sometimes I need reminding to come up for air. It’s good. Not that everything I do here is good, or even what I wanted it to be. But that the studio is the heart of my life these days.

Then I look back, only two months ago, and wonder: Is this the same person who experienced terror at the very idea of beginning a painting? Apparently it is. So what made the difference? Painting itself did. I followed the colour and the brush strokes, and the start of a new idea. Then I went back and did it again. And eventually, I came here.

I still haven’t fully worked out that idea. I don’t know how or where these works are going to sell. I never feel like I know what I’m doing. But mostly, being here is happy.

There are days, of course, when I need help. I’m tired, or my concentration fails. I distrust what I know. Then I turn to what others know. One of the places I turn to is a podcast called Savvy Painter. An artist named Antrese Wood interviews other artists about their practices and lives. The podcast is less than a year old and it grows richer all the time. Antrese is an excellent interviewer, attentive and attuned, and she gets fine things out of her guests. One of my favourite interviews so far is with Marc Trujillo. Generosity is the spirit of the hour.

I chose the image for this post because a good friend told me it was the one she liked best from my exhibition Beholder. She said it reminded her of the journey I had made to get from the past to now. Now is pretty good. And if you need some help getting from the past to now, try Antrese’s podcast. Then go back to your studio. Everything is waiting for you there.

And let me know how it works out!

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The blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.

Do You Know Where You’re Going?

You will when you get there…

???????????????????????????????“Elegant Languish”, a new painting by Laureen Marchand (oil/board, 8″ x 8″, $435 unframed)

It’s supposed to be cautionary: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Set a direction. Make plans. Mark milestones. Always know where you are. Otherwise, you won’t get anyplace at all.

But is it even true? Is this one of those sayings we think has meaning because it exists? Or is lost the only way we get found?

This fall I had an idea about the relationships between colours and the meaning of brushstrokes. And another about being an artist full time. One long series of artworks ended for me in the spring and another hasn’t quite presented itself yet. Because of a little pension income luck, I have some time to go exploring. There isn’t exactly a clear map. But I have no doubt that when I find what I’m looking for, I’ll know.

What makes me so sure? Because it’s this much fun.

 It isn’t that I’m playing with materials, or messing with paints. I’m at work. Concentration is required, and suspension of disbelief. I’m paying hard attention. If I finish a painting, or don’t, no one else cares. And though I stand at my easel for hours and my legs hurt, I’m smiling.

This process, this faith, it’s a road in itself. And the road will create its own destination. As will the road after that. I can see them rolling out in front of me, one half hour at a time. To follow the road I’m making as I go – that’s discovery. And it’s joy.

Artists explore. Like all explorers, we don’t know for sure where we’re headed. We might discover India, as we expected, or discover an entirely new continent, which we didn’t expect at all. The joy is in the exploring.

 Go and get lost. You’ll know.

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The painting above, part of the road I’m on, is for sale, taxes and shipping extra as applicable. If you’d like more information, drop me a line using the contact tab in the navigation bar. I’ll get right back to you.

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Know someone who’d like to see this? Please feel free to pass it on!

The blog is a series of posts from one artist’s life. To receive updates, just put your email in the box on the right. Your email address will never be shared.