I WILL BE OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY FOR ART TRAILS THIS YEAR

My studio at 33Arts, with a sampling of my new little shrines.

 

You KNOW how much I love having visitors to my studio! It’s the single more powerful way for people to connect with my artwork, my creative space, my stories, and me.

So it is with heavy heart that I announce I will NOT be open for the annual Art Trails Sonoma County open studio tour this year.

I am always open by appointment, of course, and will be for the tour.

But due to health concerns, and the size of my indoor space, I can’t be open to the general public those two weekends.

I fell in my studio two weeks before I had knee replacement surgery at the end of June. I was already scheduled for physical therapy for my knee, but had to wait almost two months to be scheduled for the fall. (I sort of displaced my sacroiliac joint, and suffererd constant, dull, never-ending pain for months. NOT FUN.)

Thank heavens for physical therapy. I’m healing, and feeling better.

But I still can’t even be in my studio for more than 3-4 hours at a time, I can’t stand for long periods of time, and frankly, I’m freaked out at the Delta variant with Covid-19. (I’m vaccinated, but it’s still scary.)

Keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll all find our way through this repeat of 2020 (DANG!!!) And when we do, I will host my open-to-everyone studio events again.

On the other hand, I’ve been asked to participate in a two-artist show at Corrick’s on Fourth Street in Santa Rosa, for the month of Octoboer, with local artist Teri Sloat. And now I’ll have time to create some new work for it! I was on a roll making mini-shrines for the past 18 months, hit a wall, and I’m now on a roll again. (Yay!)

Thank you for your patience and understanding. If you DO commit to an appointment, you can visit my listing on StudioDoorz and request an in-person visit.  Or find my contact info at the Art Trails website. (I’m studio #64.)  Or if you already have my contact info, email or text me for same. (Don’t call! I am swamped with robo-calls!)

A big shout-out to Sebastopol Center for the Arts marketing director Ronnie Sharpe for creating this sign for me! THANK YOU RONNIE, you rock!!!!

 

OPEN STUDIO on Saturday August 3 (First Saturday!)

I will be open from noon to 4 this Saturday, August 3.

I think there will be other artists in my building at 33Arts at 3840 Finley AVE (aka “The Barracks”, a former naval air base recently transformed into artist studios.) “First Saturday” is a monthly event, started with Studio Santa Rosa, the art studios in the building across the parking lot from us.

So you get two buildings full of art for the price of one! Er….the event is free, of course.

I have new work in jewelry, but I’m preparing to restock five galleries in New Hampshire (part of the League of NH Craftsmen’s network).

Come tell me if I’ve managed to provide a cohesive body of work for each one! Oh, and one pair of earrings is for my sister back in Michigan, so you can’t have those. (But I can always make you a similar pair.)

New handprint earrings! Yes, those are my handprints! No, I dont have tiny hands.
Earrings for my sis! (But I made more…)

SONOMA COUNTY ART TRAILS!

This county-wide art event is just around the corner! Two weekends in October: Saturday and Sunday, October 13-14, and October 20-21.

Opening reception at Corrick’s in downtown Santa Rosa this Friday, October 5, 4-6pm, and YES, I will be there!

Of note: I’m #1! Yep, this year, I am the first artist in the catalog!

This means nothing, actually. It’s a good strategy to mix up the tour’s layout every year.

Still….I’m owning it!

And I promise you this: My studio will be messy, but INTERESTING.

Hope to see you there!

Sonoma County Art Trails runs for two weekends, Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21, 2018.

166 artists, featuring paintings, sculpture, fiber work (clothing, collage, etc.), jewelry, ceramics, glass, wood, photography, and more!

Your chance to visit sacred creative spaces, where we make our beautiful work.

You can browse the Collector’s Guide  here . 

OR you can pick one up at my studio. I have tons!

And I’m #1 on the tour! (Did I say that already??)

FULTON CROSSING OPEN STUDIO this Friday, 2/17 from 5-8pm

A LITTLE BIT OF MAGIC

(Originally published on the SOFA Santa Rosa website)

Today I only had a little time to spend at my studio in the SOFA Santa Rosa Arts District. (I’m at 300 S. A Street, #3, just down Atlas Coffee Alley.) This, after an entire morning of last-minute tasks, re-do’s, oh-I-forgot-I-have-to’s….  Every time I thought I was ready to leave, I’d remember one more thing….  Argh!!

When I finally got there, I unlocked my door and entered.

Then I realized I didn’t have what I needed to work on my next project. Drat.

Here’s where the magic happens:

A woman appeared. “I’m admiring your window!” she said. “Are dogs allowed?”

What dog?? Oh. There, hidden by the bottom half of my Dutch door, was a sweet, very friendly dog.

20150731_162516
I love my Dutch door! Especially when the jasmine is blooming across the walk. Do you Californians know how amazing that is???

I let them in.

“We’re visiting that photography show  at Christie Marks’ gallery,” she explained. “I have the dog while my husband takes a look. Then he’ll take the dog so I can see it!”

We talked a little about the show (which is AMAZING!) Then I left her alone to browse my studio. (I got to pet the pup.)

She saw my new Sonoma County Art Trails postcard. Coincidentally (or is it??), Christie is also on the card, along with Cat Kaufman and Mary Linnea Vaughn.)  “Oh! May I take one of your cards? We’ll come back for your open studio!”

Sweet!

Here’s where the magic gets even bigger:

She asked me if I’d consider submitting a piece for the upcoming “Landscape” show at Sebastopol Center for the Arts. (Oct. 21 – Nov. 27, 2016)

“I would,” I said, “But I don’t do landscapes.”

“I think that looks like a landscape!” she said, pointing to a small wall hanging behind my desk. “And you’d probably be the only artist in your medium!”

Sure enough, it could ‘read’ as a landscape.

I said I would certainly do that. She gave me all kinds of information–filling out an online entry form, the hours for delivering work, etc.

“Are you an artist yourself?” I asked her. “Do you volunteer at SCA?”

“Not really an artist, but I wish I were,” she said. “I just love supporting the arts, and SCA is a great organization.”

I thanked her from the bottom of my heart. Artists thrive when they are supported by their community. People who give their time to do that are golden.

We talked more. I promised to bring in my newly-recognized landscape. She joined my mailing list. Then she and pupster left to join her husband.

What are the chances she would show up at exactly the moment I unlocked my door?

I could have missed her by five minutes. By ten minutes Or I might have left before she even got there?

What are the chances she was not only familiar with Art Trails, and SCA, but also a dedicated volunteer, familiar with their shows?

What are the chances she spotted the one piece that could conceivably qualify as a landscape?

Yep. This happens all the time here in the Arts District.

Because when you are making the work of your heart, wonderful things cross your path every single day…if you look for them.

I don't know how she even spotted it in all the...er....visual excess. But she did.
I don’t even know how she spotted it in all the…er…visual clutter. But she did! (It’s the brassy-gold horizontal one at the top.)
Our Art Trails postcard!
Our Art Trails postcard! Come see us!

BUGGING YOU GENTLY

Reminding you that this weekend is still Art Trails, and my studio is open!

My brand new studio door!
My brand new studio door!

I have been reminded by various people/organizers/mentors that I need to remind you again about this weekend’s open studio. Sonoma County Art Trails 2015 runs two weekends, and this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 17 & 18, 10-5) is the last.

I’m bad at arm-twisting, except for bugging my husband. So I don’t WANT to bug you. But I know I really should.

So if you came my studio last weekend, THANK YOU!!!!! (If you bought something, you are my new best friend.)

If, while you were here, you thought to yourself, “You know, so-and-so would LOVE this”, well, now’s you’re chance to bring them by. (If you hated it, please keep that to yourself. I’m easily hurt.)

If you wished you could visit again, by all means, come on by!

If you forgot, or didn’t have time, this is your last chance for awhile. So git on down here!

Studio #30. In the SOFA Arts District in Santa Rosa, California. In the buildings just south of Julliard Park, on South A Street.

I’m down what is affectionately but unofficially known as “Atlas Coffee Alley.” Because it’s an alley, which leads to Atlas Coffee Company. And there’s a sandwich sign at the head of the alley noting same.

I’ve rearranged a few things, and I may have a new piece or two already. But I did not dust or sweep. (Artistic license.)

And I’d love to see you here. I mean, there. At my studio.

You can find a map of all participants here.

Til then,

Luann

LUANN’S CABINET(S) OF WONDER

You asked for a virtual open studio tour–YOU GOT IT!

Every year, I send out invitations to my open studo.

Every year, I get a slew of emails from folks faraway, wishing they could come.

This year is different. This year, I made a video!
Yes! From the comfort (and safety) of your home, you, too, can visit Luann’s cabinet of wonders..

See! The Jar of Many Big Scissors!
See! The Bunster-Chewed Leopard Sofa!
See! The Blue Bead Drawer!
See! My new Antique Box Series!
and much, much more.

Enjoy!

I WONDER WHAT LUANN’S UP TO?

Oh, yeah! She has that Open Studio thing next weekend!

Yes! Yes, I do. And you’re invited!

I’m on the Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour (aka “FFAST”). Next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, October 12 and 13, from 10-5, here at 271 Roxbury ST in Keene NH. (1/2 mile east of downtown Keene, long tall white house with pillars, studio is in the big red barn at the end of the driveway.)

Me and my studio, we clean up good!
Me and my studio, we clean up good!

Come see new work: Refurbished antique box displays with art jewelry and sculpture. You can wear it, and you can display it, it looks GREAT either way.

The art-in-a-box presentation has been getting rave reviews!
The art-in-a-box presentation has been getting rave reviews!

Every time I set them up, it changes. Fun!
Every time I set them up, it changes. Fun!

In addition to the my usual work, I will have work for sale I don’t have at the League of NH Craftsmen’s Fair (aka “Sunapee Fair”)–monoprints, gemstone jewelry, vintage button jewelry.

I will demonstrate simple jewelry-making techniques. In fact, if you have a favorite piece of jewelry that’s broken or you’ve lost a favorite earring, bring in the survivor. Maybe I can turn it into a pendant or a bracelet for you.

I always have interesting snacks (rarely healthy, but I may have some carrots & stuff for you more disciplined folks.) And I always have coffee, hot cider, tea and W*I*N*E.

We are moving to California, hopefully before next winter. I can’t possibly move my entire studio. So there will also be some sale items, giveaways, odds and ends for sale. If we drink enough wine, who knows what I’ll be selling?? :^)

Come browse, hang out, chat while I work, eat, drink, the merry-making thing. Bring your friends! Bring your co-workers! Bring your family! Bring your dogs! (Wait. Don’t bring dogs.)

See…All my scissors in one place!

These aren't actually ALL my scissors. Just the big ones. Yes, I have more.
These aren’t actually ALL my scissors. Just the big ones. Yes, I have more.

See….More beads and buttons that you’ve ever seen! See…A clean studio! (No fair peeking behind stuff or underneath stuff.)

Buttons?  Yeah, I got buttons.
Buttons? Yeah, I got buttons.

Yes, Bunster is still with us. She’s not loose in the studio too more–she kept running into things. But you can still visit her in her big comfy cage and feed her Cheerios.

I'm so blessed to still have Bunster! She still loves her Cheerios.
I’m so blessed to still have Bunster! She still loves her Cheerios.

Hope you can come!

BE AN ART HERO. JOIN AN OPEN STUDIO TOUR.

Rarely this clean, but always interesting--my studio.
Rarely this clean, but always interesting–my studio.

Last year, a fellow artist and I put on Keene’s very first open studio tour, the Keene Art Tour.

Few things in life are harder than getting a couple dozen artists together (figuratively), collecting checks (Paypal button next year!), gathering images and artist statements for the brochure (“Just take it from my website!”) and everything else entailed in creating a city-wide event. Fortunately, it was hugely successful, for visitors and artists alike.

The only thing harder?

Doing it again.

Artists forget how good the crowds were, how much they sold and how much fun they had. That’s normal. Artists, being human beings, are sort of hard-wired to only remember the hard work, the studio cleaning, and how much we hassled them for said images, statements and money.

I’m learning that as a show organizer, “getting an early start” this year really means, “Let’s spend longer trying to get the same components together as last year.” That’s a good lesson to learn.

Some of the cold feet-itis is understandable, too. The last few years have been hard for creative folks. Some have hunkered down, some have moved on, some have diversified, and others are in that awful stage known as “transition”–moving on from what we’ve done while not quite knowing what’s next. Change is hard, and rarely fun.

“I don’t have anything to sell!” says one artist. Another says, “The kind of work I do, I don’t have ‘things’ to sell. So why would I want to have an open studio??” “I don’t have any new work!” says another. “I might be busy that weekend. When do I have to let you know?” (The answer to this question, by the way, is “Two months ago.”)

So here’s my response to all these questions:

An Open Studio isn’t just about selling your work. It’s about telling your story.

It’s the strongest way to form a powerful connection not only with new customers, but also with current customers, your community, and with future artists. And it’s a way to revitalize your own connection with your art.

There’s one artist who does murals for public places. No ‘things’ to sell in their studio, so they don’t want to participate.

What a lost opportunity! Now, I have no desire to buy a mural. But I’ve always wondered what’s entailed. How did they get started doing this? How do they find out about proposals for public art, especially internationally? What is the design process like? Do they hire other people to help? How long does it take to paint a mural? What kind of paint do they use? How long does a mural last? Where is their work displayed? Do you get to travel a lot? What are the fun parts? What are the downsides? What the heck does their life LOOK like???

There’s a couple who are working on a graphic novel. No ‘art’ to show in their studio. People would be bored.

Really? I can think of a few dozen young artists who would give anything to know that that process looks like. How do you get started? Are you self-published or are you working with a publisher? What does that look like? Do you do the writing and the drawing, or do you collaborate? Is it possible to make a living doing this? Do you teach classes?

There’s an artist in transition who needs to sell their old work before they can can make new work. And they’re not very far along in the new work.

Artists go through transitions? Just like other people?? Is it hard? What made you stop making your old work? What would you like to do next? What do you think will stay the same, and what will change? What inspires you and sustains you through this difficult time?

There’s someone who has new galleries, and may not have any work available for sale.

Actually, this is one of the best problems to have. Do you have earlier work that you’ve kept? Do you have works in progress? And the finished pieces you’re ready to ship–can we just LOOK at them? If I want one, can I commission you to make one? There’s a waiting list?? Oh my gosh, I better get my order in NOW!

Meanwhile, in your horde of visitors (and everyone had hordes of visitors), there are people who wish they could do what you do. They want to meet the people who ran away to join the circus. You are actually in your studio, making incredible stuff every day–how fabulous! Be their art hero.

There are people in transition who need to know there’s a ‘there’ after ‘here right now.’ That perseverance and vision and hard work will get us through. Be their art hero.

There are people who hope someday to be in your shoes. There are artists-in-waiting who need to know that it’s possible to have that life, to make their own work, to carve out a place in the world for themselves. You are living proof that it can happen. Be their life hero.

There are all kinds of creative folks in a community, artists of all sorts who make this town a better, richer, more beautiful place to live. We do more than just fill art galleries or people’s homes with our work. We teach, inspire, enrich, model our values to our community. Be that community hero.

Open your work space, that incredible place where the magic happens, where your vision for your art becomes a reality. Let people see what your life looks like, for two precious days in November. Be that art hero.

Give yourself the gift of seeing yourself through other people’s eyes–the people who see you as creative, gifted, exciting, interesting, fortunate, blessed. Because we are. It’s easy to forget that in the slog of making our way in the world. Let our community help you remember.

Be your own hero.

THE ARTIST IS IN….

And boy, is her studio clean!

Well, not clean, but neat. Yes, I’m finally ready for my Open Studio today (because I just looked at the clock and it’s after midnight!) Saturday and Sunday, October 6 & 7 from 10-5.

If you haven’t been to my open studios in the past, I hope you’ll stop by. It’s pretty informal here. I sit around making stuff for people, or showing them how to make something, while other people poke around in all my drawers, admire all the bones, shells, stones, antlers, dolls, fabric and sticks.

If you’ve been here before, you know the drill. Wander, peek, open drawers, touch, talk, eat, drink, be merry, talk, laugh, talk some more.

I have work for sale, of course, but it’s okay to just hang out and have a nice time. Have some cider, or coffee or tea, and munchies. Ask for the secret chocolate drawer! (Carrying on a proud tradition–KRISTEN!!) Oh, and the wine comes out when it’s 5:00 somewhere in the world! :^D

My artist friend Nicole is in her camper, parked on my lawn, with her work on display, too. And she's making cookies!!!

I have plenty of brochures if you're doing the entire Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour, so come grab your copy and git goin’!

Hugs,
Luann

P.S. THANK YOU for the people who pointed out my revisions added up to a lot of stuff being repeated. This is why we should not do brainy stuff at 3 a.m. !!!


Luann Udell
“Ancient stories retold in modern artifacts:
Jewelry, sculpture, fiber works inspired by ancient and tribal art.”
271 Roxbury ST
Keene NH 03431

FALL FOLIAGE ART STUDIO TOUR! (And why you should visit an artist studio…)

Just a quick announcement about the next opportunity for you to see my work…..

I’m part of the Fall Foliage Open Studio Tour (affectionately known as the FFAST tour), aptly named because it takes place during some of the most beautiful days here in New England. On Saturday and Sunday, October 6 & 7, I will open my studio to the public–YOU, dear reader.

There are two preview shows for this tour. One just finished up at the Jaffrey Civic Center in Jaffrey NH.

My big big framed piece on display, with two horse sculptures.

The other will run through the month of October at The Works Bakery on Main Street in Keene, NH.

You can see peeks of my studio here. And see more details about the FFAST tour here.

And now I have to find my vacuum cleaner and dust cloths. And find a place to stash my 250 old wood boxes for my new series I’m working on. And make it look like I actually did use the dust cloths in here…!!!

So….Why should you visit an artist’s open studio?

Well….Years ago, it was how I found out I was an actual artist.

I stuck my head inside the door to ask a new housemate something. To my amazement, he had the same vast collection of beach pebbles, small animal bones, acorns, interesting sticks, sea shells, sea glass, bird’s nests, squashed rusty metal objects and other little doodads as I did.

He was a “real artist”–enrolled in art school, making cool stuff, etc. It slowly dawned on me…. maybe I wasn’t “crazy acorn-hoarding squirrel person”. Maybe….I was an artist, too! An artist-in-waiting, perhaps. An artist who hadn’t actually honored and made room for her creative spirit–yet. But an artist all the same.

It was the beginning of an incredible journey. And I’ve never forgotten that first moment, that shock of recognition, that foreshadowing of what I was supposed to do in this world.

Other reasons to visit an artist’s studio:

A chance to talk with someone who makes stuff.
A chance to snoop through drawers and bins and shelves. (You cannot believe all the drawers, bins and shelves I have in here, and what they hold.)
The opportunity to see work I can’t display or sell at the League of NH Craftsmen shops and Fair. (Hint: It involves PEARLS and semi-precious stones!)
The opportunity to watch me make stuff.
The chance to buy really cool stuff. Like jewelry, and wall art, and sculptures, maybe even a handmade print or two.
Wine.
Wine and crackers and cheese. And maybe chocolate. Oh, and more wine. Cold cider. Or hot cider, depends on the day’s weather. Did I mention the wine?

And who knows? Maybe, as you exclaim (with astonishment, or dismay) at my immense collection of pebbles, sea glass, driftwood, elk antlers, moose antlers and deer antlers, buttons, bird’s nests and such, you, too, will have that same flash of insight….

Maybe I can be an artist, too!

Vintage buttons plus antique glass trade beads equals very cool jewelry!
Antique mother-of-pearl earrings.
These symmetrical antique keys remind me of ancient ankhs and other mysterious metal artifacts.

NH OPEN DOORS AND LUANN’S OPEN STUDIO

This weekend is my last official Open Studio (unless people twist my arm about having one closer to Christmas.)

I’m part of the NH OPEN DOORS, a trail of sights, sites, bites and sound across New Hampshire.

I’ll be here Saturday and Sunder, November 5 & 6, from 10 to 5ish. If the lights are on in my studio, so am I.

If you haven’t seen them yet, I’ve posted new pics of my studio on Facebook, I’ve made an announcement on my website under ‘Events’ and I’ll be sending an email blast tonight or tomorrow.

And guess what I’m doing tonight?

Yep, you guessed it….

Cleaning the effin’ studio!!!

Sorry for the strong language, folks, but my gosh, how did it get so messy in here so quickly again?? Gremlins? Dust bunnies? No kids at home anymore, so I can’t blame them….

I know! I’ll blame the latest foster potcake puppy, Inca! He looks like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, but you can just see how mischievous he looks. And best of all, he can’t type to refute me if I pass the blame onto him.

Potcake puppy Inca and yes, those ears are HUGE!!

The birds are back in my studio for the winter, so in addition to Bunster, a cat or two, and maybe the puppy and/or Tuck, you can listen to little birds screaming like tiny 2-year-old chimpanzees. Unless you feed them a cookie or two.

As always, light refreshments and beverages, good company, lots of interesting stuff to look at and pretty things to purchase. Start a wish list for Christmas, or treat yourself to your own present. Come by and hang out and tell me how you’re doing.

And if you see some dust or some beads on the floor, please just don’t say anything, okay?

OPEN STUDIO

People have been asking for pictures of my last Open Studio, so I published an album today. You can see it here

The next sunny day we have in Keene, NH, I’ll take more pics and add another album.

My next Open Studio is Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6 & 7, 2011, as part of the statewide NH Open Doors event. Hope you can come, and til then….

Enjoy!

Little clown bank.
Dolls

Vintage button jewelry.

IF IT’S COLUMBUS DAY, IT MUST BE…..

Hey, it’s that time of year again!
Yes!! Time for me to clean my studio, because…..

October 8 & 9, Saturday and Sunday, is the
4th Annual
Fall Foliage Artist Studio Tour! (Affectionately known as FFAST)
10a.m. to 5p.m. daily

271 Roxbury ST in Keene NH
1/2 mile east from the downtown Central Square in Keene.
(It’s West ST to the west, Roxbury ST to the east)
Big tall skinny long white house with a great big red barn in back. Come on down to the barn, that’s where we’ll be.

I’ll be here with my good friend and talented colored pencil artist Nicole Caulfield. Below, you can see one of the drawings she was working on at last year’s event. Did I say she was talented? She is talented! She’ll be back with more of her beautiful work.

Yep, Nicole bakes cookies and draws and I…..I clean the studio. In fact, I may still be cleaning when you get here. (But don’t worry, I won’t ask you to help.)

We’ll have light refreshments (see cookies above). You can hang out, peek in drawers, watch Nicole work, watch me make earrings, eat, drink, and oh yes, buy stuff!

See Nicole’s wonderful art! See my award-winning mixed media necklace! See pearl jewelry, button jewelry, horse and bear and bird and otter and dog jewelry! See artistic mess! (It’s sooooo much more interesting than boring old house mess.)

We hope you can join us, but if not, would you please pass this on to a friend you think might enjoy this? After all–Autumn in New England, nice people, great art, wonderful jewelry, cookies and a bunny–what more could you ask for?!

Call, email or Facebook me with questions.

Open Studio
Nicole's work
The Studio
Oh, the fabric!

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR OPEN STUDIO

Making the Most of Your Open Studio
by Luann Udell on 10/14/2010 10:08:54 AM

With permission from Fine Art Views, the art blog I write for, I’m reprinting today’s blog post here on MY blog! :^)

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Luann also writes a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did.” You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

I just finished a two-day open studio event, as part of a group that began a few years ago here in New Hampshire. I’ve done other open studios, on my own and as part of larger groups. This particular one is a good one to consider for what works and what doesn’t; we’re a small group (25 artists) and we’ve built it from scratch. It was our third tour and we finally started to see the results of all our hard work.

In the past two years, I felt fortunate if I made enough sales to meet expenses. I had to find other ways to value the experience beyond sales.

Of course, there’s the reward of having a clean studio. In the two weeks I deep-cleaned my space, I finally found all my scissors. And discovered I have not one, not two, but FOUR paper cutters. (Yes, I gave one away.)

I’ve come to appreciate the emotional rewards of hosting such an event. It can be a great way to thank current customers—they love an invitation to see you in your little world!

I discovered the joy of sharing my space with a compatible artist and friend. We tag-teamed the set-up, food and demonstrations. The good energy we created was palpable.

I found new collectors, and met more people who support what I’m doing. I reconnected with long-lost friends and made new ones. A small get-together is planned for like-minded stamp carvers. A defunct artist support group now plans to get back together.

There’s no single right way to have an open studio, of course, and some people prefer not to do them at all. Sometimes our galleries encourage these events, knowing that creating that relationship between artist and collector will benefit all concerned. And sometimes our galleries don’t like it at all.

Here are some thoughts on what worked for us and how to keep everybody happy. It’s not comprehensive, but it may give you insights on aspects of planning that are often overlooked.

Feel free to add your thoughts and share your experiences, too!

It takes time.

You might get lucky and have a stellar event your first time out. I did in years when money was flowing more freely. Nowadays, it can take time. Sometimes you just have to keep doing an event until it gains momentum. That seemed to be the case with our tour.

Piggy-back on another tour/event/holiday.

There’s another more established art tour in our area that runs on the same weekend. Some of their members were miffed we did ours the same time. Others were thrilled. They knew that more options generates more opportunities. Yes, some of their “frequent fliers” tried our tour this year—some of these visitors said they simply wanted to try something new. Next year, our “regulars” will surely try theirs. It’s win/win for everyone.

We also picked a popular regional holiday weekend (Columbus Day) which is perfect for enjoying the fall foliage in New England. People are out and about and looking for things to do. “What a beautiful vista…. Hey! There’s a sign for an art studio tour. Let’s go see some artists!”

Which brings us to…

Marketing is important.

Our signs brought a lot of people in. We had great advertising, too, and snagged some good publicity (free!) in the form of newspaper articles, too. But signs hammer the point home. My husband drove around the area that weekend for a rock climbing venture. He commented that he saw our signs everywhere!

We tried to save money by making our own signs. They are eclectic and fun. But they’re not holding up well and a good wind knocks them off their pinnings. We may end up having signs made commercially—more money, but also more durable. If local politicians running for office can have decent signs, we can, too!

Create a great brochure and an excellent map.

We’re lucky–one of our members had these skills. He designed a lovely brochure using the theme and the rich colors of autumn to tie us all together. It’s bold, bright and professional-looking. He found an extremely affordable online printer and we placed them in key locations all over the area. I heard many compliments about our brochure. It just made us look like we really knew what we were doing! (I’ve included images of it. Forgive my lack of photography skills with glossy paper…) (I forgot to show the map. Trust me, it’s there!)

Tip: Targeting your audience gives you the most bang for your buck. I do a big retail show a month before the tour. I gave every customer a brochure with their purchase and offered them to anyone who expressed a wish to see my studio. Each and every one was delighted with this “personal invitation”. And a lot of them came, too. (I was touched by the collectors who couldn’t come and called to let me know—just as if they’d been invited to a party!)

Work with your galleries.

Some artists have a local gallery that represents them. One particular gallery is not happy when artists sell directly to customers. They believe all sales should go through them. If this happens, try to work out a compromise that keeps everyone happy. One artist only shows and sells work for the open studio that is not in the gallery. This can be work from a different series that’s not compatible with the gallery’s client base, or smaller, lower-priced work (the gallery doesn’t carry her miniatures, for example) or even unframed pieces. They are also more willing to let her sell for very short term events, like our local Art Walk.

You’ll also be wise to never undersell your gallery. That’s almost guaranteed to lose you your place with them. Instead, try the different series/smaller pieces/work-they-don’t-want-to-carry approach.

If your protesting gallery is a major account for you, you might even consider offering them a commission on the work you sell during this event.

Create groups within each location.

Your current customers may feel fine coming to your studio already. New visitors will feel much more comfortable if you have more than one artists in your location. It’s just human nature—multiple options make people feel they’re sure to find something/someone they like! Artists who double up (or even three or four) in a studio consistently report more visitors and more sales than lone artists.

I shared my studio with my friend and fellow artist, Nicole Caulfield. Her work is excellent and appealing, and her personality is, too. We love each other’s work and that showed in the energy level here all weekend. People commented on how wonderful it felt in our space, over and over.

Grouping artists together also allows you to grow your artist list without expanding your tour. We wanted people to visit “all 25 artists” on our tour and created a contest to encourage that. In reality, it would be impossible for someone to do that in two days.

Some folks in our group are talking about limiting the number of artists for that reason. But you want new faces on the tour because…..

Offer variety.

….People love the new. They want to see new artists, new work, new studios. I’m going to suggest to our group that we allow new artists to join a current participating artist in their studio for a year or two. That will allow us to grow our artist list slowly, without adding more stops for a few years. (We’ll be able to reuse our “studio number” signs for a couple years, too!)

Jury your artists (or at least know the quality of their work) for a consistent tour. But don’t worry about having only “proven sellers” on your tour. We have both big names and emerging artists on our tour. People love to see artists at all stages of their careers.

Create variety in your stable of artists, too. Some people get picky about what is “art” and what’s not. By adding a few woodworkers, a potter and a jewelry artist to the tour, we created more buzz for the tour and offered something for everyone. (Why do you think fine art museums have gift shops?)

Let your friends and current customers know. And use social media, too.

I used to do a full postcard mailing for these events. Last year, I finally created an email group for my customers, supporters and friends. A few weeks before the event, I did an email blast and a couple Facebook announcements. I added photos of my studio and images of new work.

I was astonished how well that worked! The times they are a-changin’…..

Be family-friendly.

Me and my buddy Nicole (Nicole's the petite one on the left!)
A display of my artifacts
Nicole worked on a drawing.

I’m always astonished at the folks who can barely tolerate children in their booths or studio. It’s true, usually people with kids are too busy with the kids to actively shop. But it allows people to come who otherwise would have to hire a sitter. We found little things for kids to do and enjoy. Not only were parents and grandparents grateful, I think my friend lined up a few portrait commissions. (She captures children beautifully in her work.)

And tell yourself you are laying the groundwork for a future generation’s appreciation of art and craft.

Remember to have fun.

In our culture, where money is often the measure of our success, it’s good to remember that an open studio doesn’t have to be just about the sales. Yes, I want my work to sell. But I also value the relationships I have with my collectors. At my open studio, they are my guests. Treat your open studio as a way to thank your loyal supporters, consider sales the gravy, and you will never be disappointed.

Yep, that's my work on the cover!

We Interrupt Our Program….OPEN STUDIO!!

Yes, you’re invited, and you, and you, and you!

Just in case you’re my mom (which you aren’t, because my parents have never been online. NEVER.) DO NOT call me and ask me if I’m lying dead in a ditch somewhere. A call which always came at 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings when I was in college, following a period where I had been incommunicado too long, and which always baffled me, because this was way, way before cell phones and so if I actually ANSWERED the phone, how could I be dead in a ditch somewhere??

I digress…. Because I HAVE been incommunicado. I have a good reason:

I’m getting ready for another open studio this weekend. And you’re invited!

In some ways, I’m on top of this one. The studio didn’t get too, too messy since my last one, there was a lot of publicity because it’s part of the NH Open Doors Tour, and I’m not driving myself crazy about preparations. For example, I’m not going to vacuum again unless the dog barfs. (Keeping my fingers crossed here….)

But in other ways, I’m behind–as always. I didn’t do any personal promotion–no postcards mailed out to my customers. (I’m kicking myself here.) I decided to redo all my signage. Even though there’s not a year’s mess in here, there’s still a mess.

And I’m adding my usual personal anxiety to the mix. I once had a party where only one person showed up. It was traumatic. She was a very nice person, and we did do damage to a bottle of tequila (which promptly did damage to me, which is why I never drink tequila anymore, but that’s a story for another day.) But I still enter each entertainment venture with a sinking feeling that says, “And what if nobody comes this time, either??”

So help me not support my therapist single-handedly. Come to my Open Studio this Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7 & 8, from 10-5, or pass the word on to someone you think would enjoy it. Tell them what you want for Christmas (if I happen to make something you’d want for Christmas) and tell them it’s only available here. This weekend.

And we will be BFF. Especially if you are the only person who comes.

P.S. Full disclosure: To be fair, at the time of that party, I was living in a 10’x10′ room in a rooming house. I think everyone was afraid we were going to stay there.

P.P.S. And I kinda forgot to tell everybody til the last minute. Which is why I probably deserve to have slow open studios, since history is repeating itself here…..