How I Do Art Gallery Openings

I am about to have my fourth art opening in one year. The anticipation up to an opening for an exhibition is always very exciting. It usually takes between 4-12 months in planning and preparation.

In past openings, I have had the opportunity to meet collectors. It is so exciting to hear how they view the work as they live with it. I have heard remarks like your painting brings life to the room, your paintings seem to dance and it is so uplifting and inspiring to see the work on the wall each day. Once a collector told me that my work gave them an activity to do when they had guests over or even with their immediate family. They would sit in the room for long periods of time and stare at the work, (it was in a room with no TV to distract anyone) and talk about what they saw or felt from the work.

This was such an incredible thing to hear from them.

For most openings, whether they are out of town or not, I usually spend a portion of the day at the gallery observing the installation of the work. It is so much fun to enter a gallery after the work is hung to see how the curator decided to install it. Often, I see things in the work I may not have seen before. I become aware of relationships that I had not seen previously. Paintings talking to one another if you will. Space has a huge impact on any painting so just seeing my work in the gallery with so much space around it is a treat. Work sometimes looks different under gallery lighting. I paint my work in natural light so that it looks good in most collectors’ homes but gallery lights do make the work sparkle.

Whenever I have an opening, prospective collectors often ask similar questions. I believe an important part of my being present for the opening is to make a connection with a current or prospective collector and tell them my story. I take this part of my job as an artist very seriously. I set aside time to review what questions are most often asked. I think over time my answers shift just as my work shifts, I try to review the shifts in my head the entire day before the opening.

My upcoming show is at Fresh Paint Art Gallery in Culver City, Calif., opening Sept. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will run through Oct. 17. Visit www.freshpaintart.com for more information.

Below are a few of the frequently asked questions along with my response.

1.What was your inspiration for this painting or what were you thinking about when you painted this painting?

Collectors sometimes try to find a way to interpret my abstract work through my thoughts and feelings at the time I was painting. I generally try not to think analytically while I work. My work is intuitive.

My environment tends to have an affect on my work, examples of those factors are listed below.

• the location I am in at the time (I sometimes paint in other locations than my studio in Fla.)

• the natural light in the room

• the palette of the nature outside the window

• what I see on my way to the studio

• what I may have looked at food wise for breakfast

• feelings I have at the moment that may have evolved from a conversation I had with my family that morning

As an abstract expressionist I do not have a specific reference to look at while working. My previous work is my reference for the future work. Whenever I have a moment where I may be unsure where to go or even if a painting is finished, I look at the work I did before for an answer.

2. How long did it take you to paint this painting?

I have been painting more than 20 years and it has taken me that long to find my artist voice and signature style, which includes mark making, composition and the way I mix my paints on the panel. I always work on more than one painting at a time. This helps me to not become overly attached and protective of any one painting and stifle the spontaneity and freshness that I strive for in my work. It is impossible to come up with an exact amount of time per painting. I do love it though when a potential collector asks me this question because it gives me an opportunity to start a dialogue about my process and put them at ease to ask more questions.

I go through a three-step process with each painting. The initial phase is brushstrokes done quickly using my whole body in the mark making. It takes a lot of physical and emotional energy.

The intermediate phase, which can last quite a bit longer, is when I let the painting guide me. The piece may go through what I call a teenage phase — I am unclear at moments where the painting is going and have some feelings of dislike for what is going on visually. I try not to wrestle with the inner critic too long during this period and allow the painting to be as it is, which gives space for new impulses and inclinations.

In the last phase, I edit and refine the work. I make sure the work is compositionally sound. This can also last from one to three days, which may or may not be consecutive. The painting at some point during this phase will be hung on the wall. Final decisions are made from this vantage point.

3. How do you decide which colors to use on your palette?

Sometimes the palette is started from what is visible from the previous painting. I do tend to use the same variety of paint colors, all from Golden paints. All of the colors in my work are mixed. This is a very intuitive process. My paint is mixed on the palette but it is also mixed on the panels while I am working on the piece. So, my colors are not planned, I feel color. Even when I do a commission piece, other shades of colors appear in the work.

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