Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Sense of it All: Organizing Records of Artwork

It doesn't seem like it should be all that difficult to keep track of a bunch of paintings and prints. Just another of those tasks artists need to attend to, and that the general public never gives a thought to.

Art work happens, and then it takes on a life of its own. It needs to get photographed so that there is a record of it. It gets entered into shows, sometimes rejected, sometimes accepted. It gets shown here and there. It may get a prize or two. Eventually it gets sold or stored somewhere.

Easy enough. But over a professional lifetime, what seems like data that won't be forgotten, does. I have done fairly well at keeping track. Below you see binders labeled by the year. Inside each are slide sheets with a separate sheet for each painting. There is also a record page for each painting, with the title, size, medium, and other pertinent information.

Some paintings have quite a history of shows and prizes. Others, not so much. Sales are recorded, too.

Along about four years ago, I pretty much gave up on having slides taken of my work and switched to digital images. I still have a professional lab take the photos of the work. It's expensive, but worth it in the long run. This was true of slides, too. Most places accept CD's of artwork now, but occasionally I run into a show entry that still requires slides.

I decided recently that I ought to convert my slide records into digital files. It was getting very confusing to have many years of work in slides and then 4 years in digital form.

It was something of a domino effect. I discovered that I had scanned some older work and digitized it at some point. I discovered a several paintings that had never ever been documented at all. They were lurking about on my painting rack.

I went through all of the slides, and all of the records, and finally figured out what slides needed to be scanned, and made a list of paintings that had never been documented at all. I took the slides to Tucson to Photographic Works for scanning.

The next step was to add the scans to my computer and to update my records into Bento. Bento is a great program for keeping track of art work. It's easy to use (and believe me, it needs to be for me to be able to cope), and has lots of good features built into it.

There is a table that lists all the work in whatever order you choose. It's nice, because you can see at a glance the date, title, size, medium and price of all of the work. Above, you can see how a detail page in the Bento program looks. It has spaces for basic information, and then an area for a description of the work and an area for "notes", which is where I keep track of the records of the painting. In addition, I have added a feature where I can keep track of various online galleries in which I have listed the particular painting.

Was this a lot of work? Well, yes. I'm guessing it took at least a couple of full days to do. Was it worth it? Well, I sure hope so. I guess that depends on how long before some new technology comes along to displace both slides and digital images. Meanwhile, it feels great to have (almost) everything in one place, available a the touch of a finger.

Now I just need to get the work out into the world!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Domino Effect or How to Effectively Procrastinate

For the Docents is one of my completed paintings from my "Nooks & Crannies" series. I am currently at work on several new paintings for the series. Well, I should be, anyway. And I am making some progress.

However, the state of my studio seems to be echoing the state of the inside of my brain–scrambled.

Besides painting, I should be grading. See above. I have a pile of stuff from my Basic Design class at Tohono O'ohdam Community College to grade. I love teaching. I do not one little bit like grading. Consequently, I'll find just about any excuse to put it off. Tomorrow is class. So I need to get with the program and deal with it.

However, somehow there doesn't seem to be a single surface in my studio that isn't piled up with stuff. And I need a surface to spread out the student work in order to do the grading. This table isn't so bad, but it's part of my painting set up, and I hate to mess with it, because then I have an excuse not to jump into painting.

Ouch. This one I wouldn't consider touching. I'm sorting family photos (many boxes of photographs in a big jumble). The idea was to put them into some sort of order. Also, I plan on using some of the images for various projects I have in mind. However, now the mess is much worse than the original jumble. And it's been like this for months. No grading is happening here.

Here is my fun clay stuff. I'm making lots of little gargoyle guys. Not sure why. But you can see that this table would be way daunting to clear off. No grading is going to happen here, either.

Then there are the boxes. I was doing this box thing a couple years ago. I got a wild hair and started making a new series of boxes. Road signs, the yellow and black boxes on the right. These are for the online store for my husband Jim and my project on US Route 89 . Clearly cleaning up this space is too much to tackle right now.

It seems I have the domino effect going on here. I'm not willing to just shove stuff aside. In order to clear up the studio and create a surface upon which to grade my community college students' work, I want to finish what I started. But each table is piled with stuff that represents many of hours of work before it can be cleaned off. That's the domino effect. Nothing gets done because there are so many things that need to get done before the real thing that needs to get done can get done.

And thus, you get a glimpse of the inside of my brain right now. Maybe it's just too scrambled to do justice to grading all of this work right now anyway.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Jumble of Projects: Gargoyle, boxes and painting

This is one of the first "Nooks & Crannies" series of paintings that doesn't take place in the Phoenix Art Museum. I guess you could call it "Nooks & Crannies II". It's a scene from outside the Tucson Airport. I posted it (last week, I think), shortly after I started it. A number of hours of work later, here it is again. Now that I look, it doesn't appear all that different. Clearly, I have many hours to go. A good example of how long it takes to create a painting.

I like to play around with other materials once in a while. If you were to look way back in the archives of my blog, you'd see a number of boxes. I guess you could say that I went through a box phase.

I'm making a few boxes to sell on Jim's and my US Route 89 project website. Above is one that was a gift for a friend. I'm going to make a few more in this style. It's fun, because I do some drawings and copy them onto Lasertran paper. The printed paper is soaked in water, and the image slides off, like a decal. I adhere it to the gessoed box using Golden matte medium, and then paint a design around it.

Of course, nothing is simple. After the boxes are done, they need to be photographed and then go through some mysterious computer process to get them into the shop on the website. Being challenged with all things computer, I pass this part on to Jim.

Here's a gargoyle guy. Front and side views. I like making these little guys. This one is maybe 3 inches tall. Not sure what I'm going to do with them, but they're fun to make. So I'll make a series of them and then figure out what to do with them. I'm lucky to have a friend who has a Wednesday clay group. She's oh, so generous with her time and supplies. Since I'm new to the community, it's especially nice to be able to spend time with some new friends. Thanks, Carol!