"The difference between the artist and the non-artist is that the artist never stops playing."
Alex Mozart

Miscellaneous Art Questions

Q. What should I do when friends or family expect me to give my paintings to them?
A. I'm sure there are many different ways to handle these situations, but the main thing to keep in mind is that many of us are in the "art business" and need the money from sales to keep our businesses going. Many artists don't think about the overhead unless they are declaring their studios on their taxes. My general policy has been to give relatives the first one free, then after that, they pay the full price less a 10-20 per cent "family discount." On occasion I have given paintings to friends out of gratitude for their friendship or for something they have done for me. I quote the retail price to casual friends and let them know this is a business deal to me. After all, you have to buy materials to keep painting, not just to pay for what is in that particular piece. It's important for us as artists to respect ourselves and our work and to expect the same from others, including friends and relatives.

Q. My paper portfolio sometimes collapses and creases my artwork. How can I prevent this?
A.Cut 1/2" PVC pipe to the length of your portfolio and put it in the bottom. Thanks to Thatcher Goetz for this tip. You could also use a wooden dowel or other lightweight rod to keep the portfolio from collapsing.

Q. I've heard that some people associate colors with music and words. Is this a real phenomenon?
A. Yes, this is real. It's called "synesthesia" and it is a neurological condition. Some associate colors with notes or cords, others with letters, words or numbers. The sense of taste or smell may also be involved. People who experience this condition may be unaware that their perception is different.

Q. What is "fair use" in art books?
A. Authors must always get permission before using images, but when citing text it is sometimes possible to use short quotations without permission, as long as they are attributed to the author. There are certain things that must be considered, such as length of quotation, purpose of the publication in which it will be used, effect on saleability of the original copyrighted work. However, when in doubt, always get permission in writing.

Q. What do I need to know to enter art fairs?
A. Visit some art fairs to see what equipment you need to display your work, whether paintings or 3/D. Artists are very inventive and many have nice displays without a great outlay of money. You need lots of paintings to attract visitors to your booth. If the show is juried by slides, make sure your slides are professional. Expect to work hard and spend lots of time on your fairs. Distribute business cards and flyers to get your name known. It may take a couple of years of steady showing to attract an audience--customers like to know an artist is a steady producer. Screen the shows before you enter--PTA art fairs and spaghetti suppers are not good venues for art!!!! For more information read my article on art fairs.

Q. What papers are good for printing color brochures and cards?
A. There are so many choices it's really confusing. Here are the results of some color tests I did before printing my new brochure on my HP 722 ink jet printer. Surprisingly, the best result wasn't the most expensive paper. The lighter weight papers didn't work well when printed on both sides.

  • Great White Imaging & Photo Paper (matte, 37#, 92 bright, acid-free): sharpest images and best colors. (10 cents each)
  • HP Professional Brochure & Flyer Paper (gloss, 110# text, 96 bright): slightly over-saturated image but looked very good. (25 cents each)
  • Champion Ink Jet Presentation Paper (matte, #38, 98 bright, acid-free): excellent image, slightly over-saturated (7 cents each)
  • HP Bright White Ink Jet Paper (matte, 24#, 106 bright, acid-free): good image, slightly over-saturated, paper is too bright with bluish cast that slightly grays the color. (2 cents each)
  • HP Premium Ink Jet Paper (matte, 26#, 96 bright, acid-free): good image, slightly over-saturated (9 cents each)

Q. What is a 4x5 transparency?
A. A 4x5 transparency is a film positive just like a 35mm slide, only larger. It is made using a larger 4"x5" format camera. Transparencies make better reproductions than photos printed from negatives, and larger reproductions require larger transparencies. If a 35mm slide is enlarged too much, the image is degraded. For magazine or book illustration, 4x5 is adequate, but for art print reproduction, 8x10 is preferable for larger-size prints. Making a 4x5 enlargement of a 35mm slide is not acceptable for reproduction.

Q. What is "north light"?
A. In the northern hemisphere, north light comes in from windows and skylights that face north and do not receive sunlight directly throughout the day. It is believed by many to be the most consistent light with the least color bias, making it ideal for artists. See Light On The Subject for other lighting options.

Q. How can I find out about workshops--places, dates, instructors, etc?
A. The Artist's Magazine publishes a workshop directory in March, June, September and December and American Artist annually in March and Cheap Joe's and Daniel Smith's mail order catalogs list workshops, as well. See also Shaw Guides online or search "Watercolor Workshop" or other related workshop topics on Internet search engines. Other workshop links are here.

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