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"Giving everyone their fifteen bytes of fame".
July 2002
Page 5
Painting Under a Tuscan Sun
SLC artist Randall Lake in the villa studio preparing his paints for a day in the field in Tuscany, Italy.

When painting in the field, or en plein air, many artists choose to travel and work with a fellow artist, both to help share expenses as well as for the camraderie that comes with working together.  In Utah, there are even some larger organized groups for plein air painting, such as the Pleinair Group in Utah County.  During May and June of this year, one group of Utah artists went a little farther than normal for their group plein-air experience.  The Magpie Gallery's Paint Under a Tuscan Sun trip took a number of Utah artists to the fields of Tuscany to work together, eat together and laugh together.

From mid-May to mid-June, artists joined the Magpie's group in a villa in the hills of central Italy.  The group stayed in Villa Longi, the former summer home of Italian artist Carlantonio Longi, located in the hilltown of Sinalunga, in the beautiful Val di Chiana. 
Sinalunga is located halfway between Rome and Florence, at the edge of the hills extending from Siena.  While it is a short drive to many tourist locations such as Siena, Cortona, Assissi and Montepulciano, the town itself is relatively untouched by tourism and allowed the group to experience Italian culture unfettered by high-priced shops and trinket sellers. 

Whether enjoying an evening in Piazza Garibaldi while eating a gelato, a Saturday afternoon watching a World Cup game in the local bar, a day spent at one of the local towns' medieval festivals, or an evening watching the local youth perform in the town's beautiful opera house, the group was treated to a wonderfully intimate cultural experience. 

And some painting did get done. 

The immediate grounds of the villa, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves with views of rolling hills and a nearby convent, provided ample material for painting.  The hospitality of the Orlandini family, whose estate overlooks the entire Val di Chiana, allowed the painters access to the rest of their property. Some of the artists went further afield for inspiration, travelling to Florence, Siena, Assissi and other locations. 

Only a few of the artists on the trip were familiar with each other prior to coming to Italy, so while the day was spent working, the nights were spent around the dinner table, enjoying wonderful meals and getting to know each other.  While most of the artists were from Utah, a few did come from outside the state, including two photo- graphers from Nevada and a ceramic artist from California.
Photographer Dick Moore considers a shot of the hilltown of Montalcino.

Mary Pierson and Annette Dunford of the Magpie Gallery were very pleased with the success of the trip and plans for next year's excursion are already being made. 

From August 16th until September 20th works from the trip from artists such as David Estes, Randall Lake, Shawn Rossiter, Larry Rigby, Jennifer Worsley, Mary Pierson, Annette Dunford, and Julie and Dick Moore will be on display at the Magpie Gallery.  A reception, complete with reminscences and Italian food will be held Friday August 16th from 6 to 9 pm at The Magpie's Nest, I Street and First Avenue in SLC.  

Utah Arts Council
Four Things All Artists Should Know 
By Laura Durham, Asst. Visual Arts Coordinator

There are lots of educated, talented artists out there who are producing solid art, but who are failing. Failing to get into juried shows. Failing to obtain grants. Failing to get into galleries. Failing to sell their artwork.

Now, I'm not an artist, but I am an arts administrator. You'd be surprised how much information you gather and subconsciously soak-up while working with artists, fellow arts administrators,gallery directors and art collectors. I've followed jurors around as they dismiss work they don't like and comment on work they do like. The following is advice not only from me, but advice I've gathered from all those mentioned above.

1. Submitting Slides
It happens every year. I've seen it in applications for the Statewide Annual Exhibition and in the Fellowship Competition. I've overheard and sometimes have been told by jurors about how the slides they're looking at aren't good. Everyone knows that professional slides (or professional-looking slides) are key to impressing the jurors (apart from the obvious quality of your artwork of course). But that's not what we're talking about here. 

We're talking about which slides you select to submit. Townsend Wolfe, juror for the UAC 2002 Fellowship, commented how most of the slide sets he viewed "lacked a consistency in the quality of a body of work." It's worth the effort to submit ten high-quality slides of high-quality work. Don't throw in a few duds because you're short a couple slides, hoping that the juror will overlook them.

The most important part of his statement was "body of work." Submit slides that share a theme or are representational of the same style. It's like answering an essay question in school: you make up your mind on an answer you believe in and then thoroughly cover the topic at hand. You don't bring in a bunch of outside ideas hoping that the right answer is in there somewhere. Many artists are multi-talented in different styles and mediums. Although that does show your versatility and broad range of talent the juror doesn't necessarily care. The juror wants to be consumed and convinced by one idea or theme that you've explored. That is what makes an impression.

2. Follow instructions:
A. If the application asks for slides, send slides. Don't send photographs placed in a nice book. Don't send prints or Xerox copies. At the Arts Council we?ve received all of these. Slides are placed in carousels and mailed to the juror. Although you may have great photographs or prints of your winning artwork, the juror prefers slides.
B. Pay close attention to instructions about how the slides are supposed to be labeled. Then follow those instructions.
C. Fill out the address and information sheet completely. If your address and phone number weren't needed, there wouldn't be a little asterisk by it with a footnote saying, "required." Also, if you're going to fill out the application by hand (which is perfectly fine), write legibly. If your '5' looks like an 'S' or if your '4' looks like a '9', those administering the grant or competition might have a difficult time time figuring out what your address or phone number really is.

3. Join Artist Co-ops: Organize with other artists in any capacity you can. Do group-shows. Solo shows are great, but when you're still establishing your reputation, it's possible that a wider audience will see your art when it's associated with other artists because other artists have friends and acquaintances that you don't know. 

Join Artists of Utah, a growing network of artists is becoming aware of this great resource and directory. Join the Utah Watercolor Society, Clay Arts Utah, the Salt Lake Photo Print Society, the Utah Designer Craftsmen Association, etc. Be social. Talk to other artists and see what's working for them, and support each other. Being artists in the same area isn?t necessarily a cutthroat competition.

4. Pricing your Artwork:
You have to gain somewhat of a reputation before you can allow your prices to get big. Many artists - very talented artists, start out with great artwork. If you want to sell it, you have to have a track record of selling before you hike up your prices. Start the prices out as being modest. 

After a couple shows producing substantial sales, and after being approached by collectors and other galleries, then your pieces are worthy of a price promotion and people will confidently invest in you. Remember, it's a lot easier and looks a lot better to raise your prices once you start selling rather than lowering your prices because nothing is selling.

Remember, there is more to being a successful artist than producing great art. Follow the suggestions above and soon you'll be on the way to success.


Sam Critchfield

Jason Metcalf

Jeffrey Hein