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Out On A Limb

Last week I went out on a limb. I spontaneously decided to hold an "Open Studio" sale of some of my smaller art at my home.

The idea of a sale came together from several aspects.

First, I have a couple of boxes of wrapped up art pieces – unsold pieces from various gallery and other shows. When a particular show ended I picked up any unsold art and brought it home. Several boxes have been sitting in a corner ever since.

MartArt Gallery view (before)

Go back a bit .....

When I sat with our tax accountant this year, as she gave me that pitying look because my “art business” has red ink dripping all over it, she asked me if I had any “inventory” to write off against said red ink. Hmmmm….. why, yes I do! You know, I never thought in terms of having inventory before. I’m so slow sometimes. My accountant would probably vouch for that.

So with all that inventory neatly packed away in boxes, I got to thinking that I needed to get it all out and visible so I could see what is actually there.


Go back again .....

After two years of living back at home, #1 son moved out to his own place earlier this year. The bedroom he was living in had previously been his brother’s. So now I have random belongings left over from both boys. Stuff they opted not to take with them and, frankly, if I don’t deal with it no one will. Not to mention the dust ..... lots of dust.

So, I want to get all the packed-up art out and visible to see what I have. I want to hang it all up on a wall.
But, I need to clear out and clean up the spare bedroom to make room to hang it and see it.
Then, I’m thinking “Why not have a sale of all this artwork?” I need to sell off my inventory to make way for new artwork.

Alyson Stanfield ran a post last week about fighting complacency in art making and art marketing. It made me think “how can I push myself?” The timing of her post and my clean-up and organizing coincided in a way that I thought “I can make this whole exercise into an art sale.” Why not?

Go back even further .....

I’ve been thinking for at least a year that I want to add an “Artwork For Sale” page to my website. So in addition to blasting my “art sale” out on Facebook, I went ahead and created a sale page on my website. It took me most of a day, but really was not very hard to do. The next step is to hook up my Paypal account to it and add the “Buy Here” buttons, but I’ve taken the first big step.

I ended up doing a lot of things that pushed me past complacency.

Here is an “after” picture of my “Open Studio” sale.

MartArt Gallery view (after)

Yeah… no one came. Like I said, it was a spontaneous decision, not a lot of advance notice or publicity. I could be upset and chagrined and consider it a total failure, but I’m not upset and I consider it a success.

I prefer to see the upside, which is .....

  • I have a clear picture of my recent inventory
  • I clarified my pricing
  • I got the spare bedroom cleaned and organized. I now have even more space for artmaking and for maintaining a gallery wall.

Most importantly….

  • I went out on a limb and suffered no serious damage. As a matter of fact, going out on a limb felt productive and pretty darn good!

Until next time -


Nadine 6-19-12

Tuesday Figure Drawing

"Nadine"  June 19, 2012   Martha C. Hall

4B Pencil on Bristol board

40 minute pose

If I do say so, I'm getting pretty good at drawing the studio chair. Note to self: next week's long pose should be something other than seated in the chair.

"Nadine", detail   June 19, 2012                       Martha C. Hall


Until next time -


Athina 6-12-12

Tuesday Figure Drawing

"Athina"  June 12, 2012            Martha C. Hall

4B Pencil on Bristol board

45 Minute Pose

Draw What You See

“Paint what you see, not what you know.”  Charles W. Hawthorne (1872 – 1930)

This is paraphrased, but it is how I remember the quote. The basic idea of learning to see is present throughout Hawthorne’s teachings.

Charles Hawthorne, an American painter and founder of the Cape Cod School of Art, was talking about painting in his lessons, and the relationship of a spot of color next to another spot of color. He pretty much declines to talk about drawing as he is very interested in color and paint.

Hawthorne on Painting

“Hawthorne on Painting” is a wonderful handbook that I referenced and highlighted when I was learning to paint. And it’s still a good book to refer to every now and then.

The idea of “drawing what I see” is the lesson I’m currently applying while drawing the figure. There is no color involved, but lots of lights and shadows. And perspective and relationships.

Nadine_seatedForget what you know about an arm, for instance, and draw what you see – a shape or a line, the relationship of the arm to the shoulder or the hip.

I find when I’m drawing the figure, I start looking at it strictly as visual and spacial relationships, almost forgetting the person that is there.

Later, when one looks at the whole drawing, you can say that “Yes, that is a good likeness of a human figure.”

This week at the Figure Drawing Studio we decided to do a drawing concentrating on the hands. A lot of my figures seem to be missing fully formed hands and feet! Some of that is due to time constraints, but also – hands and feet can be hard to draw!




What I “know” about a hand and drawing a hand are quite different. The number of joints and the spaces between fingers can be quite confusing. I actually do some counting to make sure I have it right.

I’m drawing the thumb as I “see” it, although that crazy angle and jutting knuckle of her left hand might not be what I “know” about a thumb.

I’ve corrected the middle finger on her right hand because when I look for the relationship of the length of her fingers I can see that I didn’t get it quite right.

When I stand back to view the whole I can see that it is a fairly realistic image of hands. More practice needed, to be sure! But the idea is in learning to see.

Until next time -

Decisions and Solutions

..... and all the in between.

I’m sure I’m not the first artist who has ever wished that a vision in their head could manifest itself fully formed.

If only all my work looked as good as I picture it. But, no, we have that inconvenient step of execution.

I like what I do or I wouldn’t do it, but the idea of constantly joyful artmaking is a myth. I think maybe if you are not questioning and struggling a bit with your art, then you’re not working hard enough.

For me the joy comes with the idea, that fully formed image in my head. Then, if I’m able to bring it to a successful completion, there is joy in that.

In between is the hard part, interspersed with joy at the bits that come together successfully as I go.

Sketchbook_BR_GR_color_180webFrom the idea/picture in my head I do a rough sketch so I have a visual reminder of what I’m going for. I can’t go from head to fabric without the sketch – I need the picture as a jumping off point.

I think through color and other decisions at this stage too. Resolving some of the basic design elements at the outset leaves my mind free to answer other issues as the work progresses.

I start cutting fabric, lots of pieces and strips to work with, and lay out a basic framework on the design wall. Then I start stitching.








I’m not unhappy with this piece, which is not to say that I’ve figured out how the hell I’m going to construct it.

It’s a regular puzzle with lots of partial seams and randomness and muddlement and eyestrain to go with it.


Sketchbook_update_BR_GR_180webLast night I went back to the sketchbook to try to think through a construction system. Piecing fabric presents its own challenges that are not a concern with other art media. I am a person who sews, therefore my solutions go to sewing. And if I can pull it off I prefer the way it looks. I’m sure there are easier ways, but why go the easy route when I can suffer through this.

I feel confident I can make this work, a stitch and a piece at a time. Perseverance........


This is meant to be a diptych, so yeah, I have to make another one. I haven’t cut any pieces for the second one yet – I wanted to work out some of the solutions with the first one so I don't waste fabric on the next one.

I’m thinking that by the time I figure out the solutions on #1 that #2 might come together a whole lot better, and then I’ll want to remake #1. I really hope not.



Until next time -


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