Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chinese New Year -Year of the Rabbit 2011

I wonder what all the hype about this year's Chinese New Year is all about and why this year seems to be soo different and 'mediarised'???

Well it doesn't matter so much what all the fuss is about as I have celebrated it in my own way anyway. Late last year I was asked by a fellow artist to participate in an exhibition to celebrate the Chinese New Year sponsored by the Cairns and District Chinese Association (CADCAI) and shown in the Cairns Regional Gallery. See snippit of exhibition here in this UTube clip UTube: Birds of a Feather Exhibition

The theme of the exhibition was to be inspired by the Hong Kong Bird and Flower markets. My research through google images very much inspired me and as a result would consider travelling to China in the future. So I guess you can conclude that this celebration is about cultural awareness and tourism and an in direct way.

My artwork I produced for this exhibition is a painting, acrylic on canvas, 40x90cm. I choose to paint, and is the title of the artwork "Oriental Lanterns" as these objects are iconic of Asian Celebration, and and keeping with the theme of the exhibition, typically have patterns or flower designs. I did not want to do every lantern in the common red colour (though is symbolic of this culture) because I wanted to differentiate between the lanterns with slightly changing the colour and bouncing and reflecting colour and light. What is different about this painting is I started with a black gessoed canvas. It was liberating and ususual to do this. I used a palette knife to create the textures of the flowers on the lanterns as I wanted to create a 3D look.

 This image remains copyright of (c.) Chrissy Dwyer 2011.
Brief History on the Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year -Spring Festival or Lunar New Year are other known names- is one of the most important holidays for the Chinese culture. It is a festival which runs for 15days (ends with the 'Lantern Festival' -how appropriate for my painting).The symbolic colour of red is represents fire and is belived to drive away bad luck.

In a very simplified interpretation: The celebration is thought to originate around 2000BC with the legend of the Nien (meaning Year) was a beast who ate the villagers on the New Year's Eve, so to keep the Nien away, fire, decorations and loud noises resulted in the celebration.

Related Art:
Origami -The art of papar folding resulting in folded shapes
Kirigami -The art of paper cutting resulting in shapes cut out

Links on Chinese New Year
Brisbane Valley Chinese New Year Festival

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to package a painting for delivery

See link on how to package paintings for delivery

Use your own disgression on your own artwork, this approach is just my way, and depending on what medium, canvas/support, size etc you use it may vary, use this approach as a guide and adapt to suit you. I hope this helps you. Please leave a comment if it has or the way you package your artwork to send for delivery.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How much TIME does an exhibition take?

Just as you may wonder about how much does an exhibition cost so too may you wonder how much time you need to allocate to producing your exhibition, from brainstorming and researching to the launch night. 

From my experience with my first solo exhibition, I tried to keep tabs on the time I spent on different tasks to get an idea. (Also I was curious to see how long it really took me to do a painting).

Here is a table of tasks and timeframes in an Exhibition Time Sheet Example

Calculations are based over a 12month exhibition development period; estimating 40weeks could be used for development. Allow for interruptions such as school holidays if you have kids or are expecting visitors, busy periods such as Christmas and Easter and general sick or other leave.

Add extra time to your estimate, about 10-20hrs more or less depending on the size of your exhibition, your working process and other tasks to organise for your show.

I believe I have grossly underestimated by another 10-20hrs as there is so much time I didn’t consider for example, I included driving time to collate resources but not the time spent in the art shop, for instance I could spend 0.5-1hr at the art shop each time. I am not sure on the research time as I do spent a lot of time on the internet research reference images. Try to minimise your computer time as it is never ending and does take so much of your time. Set yourself a limit, and if you haven’t found what you are looking for, seek alternative such as research the library.

How much time do you allocate to work on your exhibition?
My initial allocation was to be minimum 6hrs per week or 1day per week for the 40weeks. From calculating research, painting and administration time which could be spread over 40weeks, it works out to be approximately 4hrs plus a week. Though there were weeks I spent as little as an hour or no time and on the other scale some weeks had 5-6hrs plus.
Consider your life; work, family and leisure time. I worked part time, had a newborn baby and still had to make time for family and going out. So in the scheme of things you may think ‘oh I could spend more time then X amount a week working on my exhibition’ but in reality time just gets taken up with things. I was lucky and as my baby got bigger, and slept less therefore less painting time, I was able to put her in daycare 1-2days a week for a few hours which allow me to find my allocation time. Also working an hour or 2 at night sometimes.

Start taking notice of how much time you spent researching reference material, sketching ideas, making tonal drawings and/or colour scheme examples. Average it out. Some ideas are straight from the head and you know exactly what you want to do, others don’t come so easily and you need to work them out. For me I can spend anywhere from 1-3hrs researching reference images alone. I can take 0.5-1hr on a pencil greyscale tonal sketch and a quick chalk pastel colour scheme.

Start ‘logging’ your time spent on how long it takes from start to completing a painting. If you are not confident yet, don’t worry yourself about your time, don’t feel pressured, it is just good to be aware if you are spending too much time fixating on detail when you could have stopped hours ago. For me a small painting can be 1-3hrs, medium painting about 6hrs and a large painting 10hrs plus. This does not include research time or varnishing, just painting time.

As listed in the exhibition time sheet example, there are many facets to the ‘administrational tasks’ required to work on during the creation process to just prior to the exhibition date. These will vary task-wise and time-wise depending on what you want to include or exclude and how long it takes you to complete. I believe I have grossly underestimated the approximate times as I was not recording every instance I engaged in working on a task, sometimes it could be 5mins here, 30mins there or a good block of time in between other things. What did take up A LOT of time was the computer and graphics work. Working on documents such as the Artist Statement, Exhibition Statements, Mail out contacts list, Guest Book Sheet and Price List, and taking photographs of the paintings then editing them in a Photo manipulation program, then uploading images to my website and so on.

Other tasks & Activities
Other tasks and activities such as attending a workshop or art class may or may not be directly linked to your exhibition but also may benefit the execution of a painting. Working on business cards or even updating your online social networking sites etc, keeping your profile up leading up to your exhibition all helps getting you noticed so people attend. 

This information is available in the Exhibition Time Sheet Example Document

How much does it cost to have an exhibition?

When you have never had an exhibition before, it is hard to know what costs your need to consider and how much. Most artists will have the same basic needs, but it is the details that will differ and make your exhibition more or less expensive. Things to consider when working out a budget include;
  • the size of the exhibition 
    • how many pieces?
    • what type of medium
  • Consider the cost of materials
  • venue cost. Are you hiring an artist run space, a commerical gallery or a public gallery, is it a cafe/resturant show etc? All these different types extremely differ in hire fees from low cost and affordable to rediculas. 
  • How long will the exhibition go for. A typical time frame could be 4wks. Any shorter and it makes for alot of time and money to be spent on such a short timeframe, any longer and you pay alot more.
  •  Are you having a luanch? Is so what kind of catering are you having? Or many people do you expect? Find out how much the cafe/resturant/gallery cater per head. Are you paying for alcohol or providing a complimentary drink on arrival. Is there a service fee involved at thye catering venue?
  • Consider the cost for a graphic designer if necessary to produce the invitation, cost of printing and the cost for postage
  • Are you going to get professional photos done?
  • Are you getting any other materials printed such as a catalgue or price list? 
  • Don't forget to consider your time -the Artist's labour, and any other people providing services and need to be paid. Consider applying for a grant or getting sponser or donations. 
Download the above summary in a table with example costs in the Exhibitions Costs Example Document.  

Note: This information was based on a small exhibition, 12 paintings, held at an artist run space, with a luanch.

Now that you have a general idea on what your costs are to hold an exhibition, see here how to work it out in an Exhibition Budget example

* The green highlighted area is what is to be funded.

Table Notes:

Artist fees: worked on approximately 6hrs per week x 40 weeks x $20/hr = $4800

Art Space Volunteer Fees: Estimate approximately 23hrs spent per exhibition period @ $20/hr = $460 round to $500

Materials: I estimate $1000 as I went online and added stock to an art materials shopping cart including paints, brushes and canvases. The figure neared $1000.

Invitations: I estimate approximately $350 from obtaining online quotes

Hire Fee: This is a standard flat rate, each art space will differ, this price is VERY cheap. Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs) tend to be low cost. Galleries can charge up to a few thousand. Research your options.

Exhibition Launch Catering: Again, this figure will differ on number of heads being catered, the type of food, if alcohol is provided (in this example it is not), if there is a function room fee etc. In this case, a local cafĂ© restaurant opened afterhours to cater for the launch.