Tuesday, January 26, 2021

when things go wrong

Preparations have been underway for my upcoming Trailings exhibit. I have been well prepared for months, but no matter how well prepared you are, things happen. Instead of going into panic mode, I decided to write it out. Perhaps venting will calm my nerves...lol.

First, my test prints of the exhibit guide I created arrived in the mail last week. I had ordered 3 copies in hopes that I would be able to send some out for advance publicity. The magazines are unusable. They were printed with incorrect margins and with "slip sheets" (some kind of printer test sheets) inserted throughout the books. I have used this on demand printing company for over 10 years and have never had a problem. The packing slip said my books were 8x10 books, not 8.5x11 magazines...I think maybe that's why all the margins were incorrect, with the print running off the pages.

Of course, I sent a help desk inquiry (you can't phone the company) but have only received a message saying they are dealing with high volumes and to expect a delayed reply. What to do? I ordered another test print...I want to make sure it is printed correctly before I order 50 copies. I am not sure that there is time to wait for the test print, order 50 copies and receive them before the exhibit opens. So....maybe no exhibit guide.

This is only a big deal to me...no one else will care...but I did invest an enormous amount of time into preparing the guide. I am trying to look at it as experience gained, not opportunity lost.

Next issue....I print and frame my own work. I ordered my frames in December, thinking I had left myself lots of time. My frame order arrived last week...on the same day as the magazines...

I have ordered from this supplier many, many times over the past four years. Always the same kind of frames. Never had a problem. I unpacked the boxes the day they arrived and everything looked good. No broken glass, everything packaged very well and undamaged.

I decided to start printing and framing yesterday. The first frame I unwrapped was not put together correctly, so there was a gap in two of the corners. The second frame was the same. Then the third. There are only 2 usable frames in the order of 20.

I have photographed examples and sent off an email to the frame company. They are on the west coast, a five hour time difference, so I am waiting patiently for a response. Trying not to panic. 

And I'm trying to brain storm. Realistically, even if the frames get replaced I'm not sure they will arrive in time. They usually take two weeks to process an order and shipping takes two weeks at best. Set up date for the exhibit is February 24th. Today is January 26th. 


- figure out an alternative mounting system instead of traditional frames. 

- see if a local frame maker can make 20 frames without glass (this is a custom size frame)

- cancel the show at the Museum and just exhibit at the Library (scheduled for April 1st)

- use frames from our own walls (9 of various sizes - I need 20) and hang quilts on wall at exhibit instead of from the ceiling (less content at exhibit)

 Did I mention? Our wireless service is not working properly, so live tv and recorded tv is unwatchable and internet service is extremely slow. Bell is here as I type this trying to repair the problem.

When it rains, it pours.

Good news...one of my pieces at the Flight of Fancy exhibit in Dartmouth has sold.

Savour by Sara Harley

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Gallery Talk - Flight of Fancy

Artist Talk - Dart Gallery, Dartmouth NS

I was asked to give a "facebook live" talk at the Dart Gallery to promote my solo exhibit Flight of Fancy. I have never done one before and was a little nervous about it, but I thought it would be easier than talking to a room full of people so I agreed to do it. 

I didn't even lose sleep about it! (which is amazing) However, my own work is an easy subject for me to talk about. 

Here is the link if you'd like to watch the 20 minute video: https://www.facebook.com/thedartgallery/videos/1098059147283866

My friend Sybil (crittersnus.blogspot.com) dropped by after the filming was over. She shared this photo with me:

I had my eyes closed when the photo was taken so I didn't even see who else dropped by!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Flight of Fancy Exhibit

Flight of Fancy Exhibit - Dart Gallery - Dartmouth NS
Flight of Fancy Exhibit - Dart Gallery - Dartmouth NS
There is a theory that floats around that the more you think about something, the more likely it is to happen. I have been working on my upcoming solo exhibit Trailings, set to open on February 25th. While I have been pulling everything together for the exhibit, I have also attempted to write some brief "how to" blog posts about how to put an exhibit together. Needless to say, exhibits have been on my mind.

My blog series has been briefly interrupted because a couple more exhibit opportunities have some up. Maybe it's the law of attraction, but I've never before had three exhibits happening at the same time.

I dropped off four framed pieces at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal on Saturday. They will be part of a group exhibit called Palate, which opens in February. More on that (maybe) to come.

And....a solo exhibit called Flight of Fancy is now at The Dart Gallery in Dartmouth. That came about because I participated in a group exhibit there in December and the gallery owner talked to me about having a solo exhibit of my work....which we pulled together just last week. It's not up on their website yet, but should be there soon. 

And...I'll be at the gallery on Thursday (January 21st, 12pm AST) hosting my first facebook live event. Yikes! I've never done anything like this before and am a tad nervous. It is a great opportunity...I just hope I can pull it off...lol. 

If you'd like to watch the facebook live event, here is the link: https://fb.me/e/jbKgJtw0z

Please keep your fingers crossed for me :)

Friday, January 15, 2021

Blueberry Love

Blueberry Love

I've talked now and then about generating ideas and how I get inspired. In January 2020, together with artist Helen Eaton, I created a group called Inspiration Collaboration. In a nutshell, we provide inspiration images at the first of every month and anyone interested creates any form of art using those images as their inspiration. 

This month, Helen's image was a blueberry muffin. I was stumped for a while. I mean... as a photographer... where do I go with this idea? 

I thought about going abstract...with something blue dotted around the image. I have glass blobs that I used when I created stained glass window art. Maybe I could set them up somehow and photograph them?

I thought about baking some muffins and photographing them, but that seemed a little too pedestrian and not "inspired". 

I thought about finding another subject that was dotted with blue.

I thought about blueberries and our mutual love for them.

Then I thought about these:

About ten years ago, when I was creating window art, I had an idea to make a "kitchen window" using stained glass mixed with common kitchen items. I contacted an artist on etsy who worked with old flatware (I am embarrassed to say I have forgotten her name!) and asked her if I could order "flattened" forks. She sent me two forks and didn't charge me!  I contacted her a couple of times and wanted to pay her, but she refused. I never did create my kitchen window, but I use the flattened forks as wall art in my kitchen (and I try not to feel guilty that they are unpaid for!)

So...I have a fork with a heart and I have frozen blueberries. The light in the house was good (the sun was finally shining after one week of grey skies) and it was a good day for an indoor photo shoot.

When creating a still life, typically I have a general idea when I start and then I change things as I go. Pressing the camera shutter is part of my process. For some reason, I can't "see" the image without pressing my finger down...lol....I can't just look at it "live" and decide...I need to look through the frame of the camera. 

I started with having the fork and a blueberry on a cutting board (the wood tones of the board a nod to the colour of Helen's muffin) but quickly decided that it was too busy for me. I put them on a white piece of paper...then I added a second blueberry. (aside note - most people would probably photograph a plate or bowl full of blueberries but I wanted a minimalist look!) I added a third blueberry. Then I moved a blueberry to the centre of the heart on the fork. Yay! That was the look I wanted. Then it was just a question of whether to photograph the whole fork, or just part of it.

Another view of the final result:

Blueberry Love

I switched to a portrait orientation...I like how the middle blueberry looks like it's rolling down the wall.

Although this is a photograph (not manipulated other than colour saturation and sharpening, it feels like "art" to me. And that's as good as it gets for my personal satisfaction! 

Updated March 2021 to add: This piece was sold in an exhibit called Palate at Round Hill Studio in Annapolis Royal.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Exhibits - Applications

Preparing for an exhibit by Sara Harley

How to prepare for an exhibit - Part 2: Applications & Writing Statement

If you are answering an open call for exhibit, the application process is straight forward but not necessarily easy. It's straight forward in that all you need to do is follow the instructions laid out by the gallery who has sent out the call. Usually the gallery will want an application/submission form filled out, a list of works and prices, samples of work, and a CV or biography.

My advice in this case is....make sure you follow their instructions concisely and don't overlook anything they have asked for. They may specify the document formats (pdf, jpg, etc)....make sure you submit your information in the formats they have requested. And...don't send them anything more than they have asked for either. You'll be competing with other artists and an easy way to get your application put to the side is by not following instructions.

If you would like to exhibit your work at a gallery on your own, there are a few things you should pull together:

Artist Statement with head shot - In your artist statement you should include: what type of artist you are, what type of medium you work with, how you do what you do (noting any uncommon or important aspects of your creative process...things that might set you apart), and why you are compelled to create (what excites you about your work?). This should be concise and interesting....this is YOU in a nutshell! It should be about one paragraph, and shouldn't be longer than one page in length. Shorter is better...100 to 300 words was suggested by someone when I was researching this for my own purposes.

Series Statement/Exhibit Statement - 1 paragraph to 1 page in length, your exhibit statement should contain similar information as your artist's statement, but pertain specifically to your proposed exhibit. Who would be interested in seeing your exhibit? Similar to an artist statement, this should sound like you. I have read exhibit statements that totally baffle me! Maybe that's what galleries are looking for, but I propose that your exhibit statement should be in your own words...not bafflegab...and should entice people to want to see your show.  

Samples of your work with price list

Social Media Contacts - include a list of your social media accounts                 

Your contact information - this may be obvious, but should be mentioned :)

CV/BIO - mention your successes...newspaper or magazine articles, quotes from happy customers, etc

Even if you aren't planning to approach a gallery, it would be a great idea to pull this information together. You'll be ready at a moment's notice to respond to a call for a group exhibit. And....if nothing else, writing an artist statement makes you really think about YOU and what excites YOU. It will help get you focused on making the art that makes you the happiest.

Previous Articles:

1. Selecting a theme - more difficult than it seems!

2. Applying for exhibit space - writing an exhibit statement

Upcoming Articles:

3. Exhibit check list - things to remember

4. Selecting images for the exhibit - narrowing your focus

5. Creating an exhibit catalogue

6. Publicity

7. Artist Talk - yay or nay?

8. Asking for feedback/Public involvement

I'll try to get this rolling in the next few days....stay tuned!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Where do ideas come from?

Destination Unknown 2021 by Sara Harley
Destination Unknown 2021

It always interests me to hear about how something was created. What was the catalyst? What was the artist thinking? Knowing some additional details makes me appreciate the art just a little more. 

I made this image yesterday, but it was created from photographs I took in 2012 (hummingbird) and 2019 (teacup on book). I have been creating "photographic art" with birds for a couple of years but have almost always used crows. There are a lot of crows in our neighbourhood, and I find them fascinating, so I have many photos I can use when I want to create a new scene using my photo library and my imagination.

"Bird with Teacup" has been in my imagination for a loooooong time, but it's just one of those things that I've never got around to doing. For the past few days, I've been working on a presentation for my photo club about post processing...which led to me reviewing some of my creations from the past few years...which got me thinking about things I want to create.

And....also yesterday...I read a "call for submissions" for a gallery looking for "comfort food" art. I decided to submit a couple of images for this group exhibit and Destination Unknown was one of them: 

Destination Unknown by Sara Harley
Destination Unknown, 2019
This image has already achieved some success, as it was published by PhotoEd Magazine on the contents page of their Summer 2020 issue Photography + Healing

PhotoEd Magazine - Summer 2020 issue

But the story goes back a little further...

I had originally made a series of teacup photos after I received a prompt from a book cover company asking for...you guessed it...images of teacups. This one, as well as several others, was accepted by the company. Maybe someday you'll see it on a book cover! (note that there is lots of negative space, an important aspect for book covers that require space for text) 

Destination Unknown book cover by Sara Harley
book cover - 2019

So....those two events lead me down the path of looking at all my teacup photos from 2019....needing a break from creating a slide show presentation....deciding to do something creative...et voila, Destination Unknown 2021 was born. I do need to pick a better title. (if you haven't noticed, Destination Unknown is the name of the book that the teacup is sitting on...it was removed for the book cover image, but is included in the framed photo piece).

Some titles I'm considering: Tea with a Friend, Tea Time, Time for Tea....  Nothing seems just right yet. Titles are important to me. Any suggestions?

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Exhibits - Selecting a Theme

Part 1 - Selecting a Theme

Although I have posted a couple of time about my exhibit preparations, I thought I would take a step back and start at the beginning with a small "how to" series about planning for a solo exhibit.

I applied for my first solo exhibit several years ago. The location was the public library for our town, and at the time there was a board that was reviewing applications. I picked my favourite images....a selection that I was proud of....and submitted them with my application.

My application was accepted (I will write more about applications in the next blog post) and, although I had written an exhibit statement, it was kindly suggested to me that I work on developing a theme. I asked for advice and was told someone would get back to me, but that never happened. So...what to do? I tried to figure it out for myself.

Exhibit Statement (condensed, 2017): Every Story Needs a Picture is a collection of approximately 15 framed photographs, together with inspirational verse and prose created by me to help deal with life's challenges and focus on life's joys.

We all have our own stories, and it's important for us to share them and document life. Whether we are celebrating our joys, or facing our challenges, or anything in between, our stories link us all together and pictures help tell those stories.

In Every Story Needs a Picture, inspiring photographic images are paired with verse and story cards. I see inspiration in every day things that others may not notice - a seaweed alphabet created by Mother Nature, a touching family story made with gourds, a series of images about change inspired by feathers. I hope to help others contemplate their own stories and feel inspired by my images and words of rejuvenation and hope. Viewing my photographic art might just prompt you to create your own stories with pictures.

Although I had a written theme, there was quite a variety in the sample images I sent. I thought that was a good thing, but the selection committee found it a weakness. Here are the sample images I included with my application:

Sample images included with application - 2017

At that time, I had been working on another series that was very personal to me. I called it "Stroke of Emotions" and it was a series of composited self portraits dealing with the emotional fall out of my husband's stroke. I wasn't ready to share that with the world, but I thought I might be able to work with the theme in a different way to develop a more cohesive exhibit and I started looking at my library of images.

After reviewing my images, I realized that birds and trees were very significant to me so I decided to work with that theme. In a burst of creativity, I created a series of images called "Roots+Wings", along with written verse for each image, in a period of 2 months.

I'm not advising anyone to do that! However, I am recommending that you select a theme for your exhibit. Pick a topic that means something to you personally and develop your theme around that. Most galleries expect a theme for their exhibits, not a random selection of "best of".

Here are some of the images from my first solo exhibit:

Although the exhibit was still about emotional healing, it was a more cohesive set of images than the one I had included with my original application.

If you are interested in seeing all the images with their corresponding verse in a larger format, you can view a book online at Blurb Books by clicking here.  Then click on the right or left pages to page through the booklet.

Although I think there was improvement from my original submission to my final exhibit, I have learned more since then.

When you are selecting your images, here are some things to think about:

- you should have a unique concept, and your idea should have depth. Be original!

- images should be attention grabbing

- images should be cohesive, with a polished technique

- images should be non-repetitive

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll be happy to give my thoughts.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Inspiration Collaboration 2020

In January 2020, I started an art inspiration project with Helen Eaton, an oil painter from Arkansas, USA. Here's a summary of our project, and a link to a magazine where you can view all the art created.

12 months
15 participants
48 inspiration images
134 works of art created

Our magazine is complete!
Here’s the link that will take you to it. Just click on the cover and then click on the right or left pages to page through the magazine.
You can view it and/or order it online. This was not a money-making venture.  There is a 0% mark-up on the cost of the magazine.
This project has been a pleasure of 2020. Now… it’s 2021! And we're ready for a new year of creating.
Most parts of Inspiration Collaboration will stay exactly the same. There are two (instead of four) monthly inspiration images.  We everyone will come up with some wonderful submissions in response to them. 
Here are some various media links to our project…
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/inspirationcollaboration/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wordweaverart/inspiration-collaboration/
Blog: https://inspirationcollaboration.blogspot.com/
Helen & Sara

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Here's to a New Year!

I usually finish off a year by reviewing things and I had planned to share my second annual "Point of View" magazine. Unfortunately, I had a huge brain fart on New Year's Eve and deleted the file from the on demand printing company and now it's not available to share. Sigh.

Oh well, it must be a sign that it's time to move on and start thinking about 2021! 

We started off the year with one of our favourite things....a walk on the beach. Our son, DIL, and granddaughter came for New Year's Eve (they are our bubble people during these COVID times) and stayed over to share our New Year's Day walk on Crescent Beach. I can't even begin to tell you how special that was. We haven't been able to get to the beach much over the past couple of years, so it was fantastic to start the year off in such a special way.

Here's to a year full of wonderful experiences!