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June 2007

May 2007

Press Release from Margret E Short

For the past several months I have been following along with Margret E Short's progress through her blog, Lessons from the Low Country.  She has been an inspiration to me, with her willingness to take risks, be proactive, and to create this beautiful body of work.  Here is a copy of her press release:


Portland, Oregon, May 20, 2007-For the last year, Portland artist Margret E. Short has been eating with, laboring side-by-side, and dreaming about Rembrandt and other Dutch masters. In particular, she has been studying the historic pigments they used and introducing them into her work. If she were any closer to her inspirations, people would start whispering. However, that probably would not deflect her mission.

Short's splendid series of still-life paintings, "Margret E. Short: Lessons from the Low Countries," opens at Portland's Lawrence Gallery on June 1 and runs through June 30. Each work is inspired by the color palette of a select painting in the exhibit "Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art," which opens one day later at the Portland Art Museum. Reproductions of the Dutch inspiration paintings will be exhibited alongside Short's finished works, which are finished with detailed of Dutch period reproduction frames. Viewers will enjoy participating in the artist's visual amusements. Not only are the colors reproduced, Short has also quoted, quite accurately, sections of each original work in each homage. It's a game of seek-and-find.

Not content with contemporary colors, Short replicated the 17th-century pigments of the inspiration paintings for this collection by hand-grinding each mineral. Her blog,, has documented the meticulous study of the ancient hues. Luscious colors with magical names like lapis lazuli, cinnabar, and azurite are the focus of each bountiful still life. Delighted with her discoveries, Short says, "There is no comparison to the handling qualities of the modern pigments. Everything about the handmade historic pigments is different from the modern: particle size, thickness, consistency, color, saturation, and on and on."

Throughout the creation of the paintings, Short's exhaustive research led to unexpected findings. Among her favorites is the word "pronk," which she associates with today's "bling." While it isn't often featured in contemporary painting, bling was abundant in The Netherlands of the 17th Century. It was a prosperous society and the center of world trade. Diamond cutting, book publishing, textile manufacturing, shipbuilding, fishing, and banking were among a growing number of trades that flourished. The Dutch merchants bartered their goods for imported spices, paper, silk, wine, olive oil and countless other items that enriched their burgeoning economy. There was plenty of bling to go around!

With expanded patronage, art flourished in this environment. Artists flaunted their abilities to capture reflective precious metals, sparkling jewels, and luscious flora. Short, who is well known for her attention to delicate lace, has done the same thing in the 21st Century. Each canvas is saturated with enough bling to make Short a legitimate heir to a longstanding tradition. 

Margret Short has exhibited her work throughout the United States and beyond, including the C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana; the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the  Weatherburn Gallery in Naples, Florida. She is the recipient of two coveted Salmagundi Club Awards, the Grumbacher Gold Medallion, and many other national honors. She is also a Signature member of the Oil Painters of America, American Women Artists, and the Copley Society.

An opening reception for "Margret E. Short: Lessons from the Low Countries" will be held during First Thursday Gallery Walk night on Thursday, June 7 from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Lawrence Gallery is located at 903 W. Davis Street in Portland, Oregon. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. More information is available at or by calling 503-228-1776.

For more information, please contact Margret E. Short at 503-652-2749 or

The Tears of Fernad

Understanding your Market

   I have often described the direction of my art as bi-polar: I have two distinct painting styles, I love doing them both, and I could no more think of throwing one out in favor of the other than I could throw away one of my favorite paint brushes.  This does present twice the work, though, when developing a marketing plan. 

  For example, my wonderful gallery owner and mentoring friend, Shelley, of Shelly Hall Fine Art, will only look at the abstracts.  Yes, she knows I do landscapes: she has visited my studio on numerous occasions and has noticed them hanging on the walls... but she won't look at them.  Why?  Not because they are horrible ( I hope), but because the focus of her gallery and art consulting business is contemporary work.  That's the market she has cultivated and she offers the type of product her clients expect to find when they wander through her door.  And even though my landscapes could be described as "contemporary" they aren't contemporary enough to fit.

  On the other hand, the people who visit my studio on the Third Friday Art Walk are landscape people all the way.  They feel comfortable looking at landscape: they recognize what they are looking at, and it's the sort of art they want in their homes. 

  Shelley's gallery is one town away, more upscale, some areas very urban as people move in from the larger cities, looking for trendy lofts.

  My studio is in a more traditional town where the clients are willing to buy original art, but not take art risks. 

  Knowing the various markets, and figuring out how they fit what I like to do, works even though it's contrary to the idea of developing one style or identity and sticking with it.  But, in a way that's exactly what I do, as my abstracts stick to one distinct style, as do my landscapes, and I am beginning to develop two separate marketing approaches. I have two different brochures, two distinct galleries in my on-line web page, and I know I must approach galleries with the appropriate body of work.  Twice the labor, and twice the risk of rejection.  But twice the excitement when something sells, because I know that the various pieces of art are finally finding a home.  And I can even throw in a figure painting once in a while and not feel guilty. 

   Please share your marketing ideas and tips, ideas on how you might have combined two painting styles, or let me know if this information is helpful to you.  I look forward to getting your feedback.


How to Start a Marketing Plan

  I am posting this more for myself than anything.  I can succumb to fear and insecurity with the best of them, even though I have over 30 years of successful small business experience.  You would think that such an extensive business background would give me a unique advantage.  I have created successful business plans and implemented them for the business we operated up until two years ago.  We closed our doors unwillingly, a marginalized victim of changing technology that made the services we provided as obsolete as a typewriter ribbon in the computer age.  Enough said.  You would think that I should be able to take what I learned and apply it to the development of my new, mid-life career change into an artist.  Wouldn't you?

  I am finding out that fear can be one of the greatest instigators of Resistence.  I have been reading three books: Fear & Art by David Bayles & Ted Orland, How to Survive & Prosper as an Artist by Caroll Michels, and The Millionaire Course by Marc Allen.  Over the next few months I am determined to really start putting into practice some of what I am learning, some of what I already know but am afraid to do, and take some risks.  Really big risks. to start a marketing plan?  Besides "just do it!"

Studio3d  What exactly is my business identity?
           Over the next few days I will answer this question as specifically as I can.

  Who are my potential clients?

That's a start.  Now I've got to go back into the studio and continue working.               

What is a Third Friday Art Walk, you ask?

I can tell that it's Third Friday because....

I know I'm supposed to have my studio cleaned up before company comes, but after the class I held last night I'm not even sure where my easel is....

There USED to be paint in this tube...

Is that used paper towel stuck to my shoe?

The newspaper reporter is here again asking for a new photo opp, when the last one she took made me look like an embarrassed easter egg...

Someone is standing outside my studio exclaiming in a loud voice "She's kidding, right?"  I don't think she's talking about the quality of the wine...

The band set up in the room next to mine is playing so loud my paintings are vibrating to the beat...

I've run out of business cards and I forgot to bring the sales invoices, so I'm using purple legal pad paper and a purple ink pen...

But it really is fun!  Third Friday is developing into a downtown event where not just the art galleries host the public, ( which is a good thing, since there are only two ), but restaurants, coffee shops, retailers are all getting into the act, staying open until nine pm, hosting musicians, drama groups, artists, students, the works.  It's a huge social event where people stop and talk on the streets, wander in groups, buy stuff, eat, drink, have a good time.  It's great visibility for artists.  Being able to show your work on a regular basis gives the artist credibility and boosts sales.  While I do show in another gallery ( more on that in a later post) what I show and sell in my studio is completely different.  I love the public access and feedback.  I get insight into what works and what doesn't, things I often think of as detrimental are actually positives ( like my use of color) , and when I make small sales it feels good, like I'm a REAL ARTIST!

If you don't have an event like Third Friday ( or First Friday, or Second Tuesday, whatever) I would strongly urge you to join with fellow artists and start one.  It's one way to Fast Track your art career by building your reputation with a strong group of local collectors.

Third Friday Art Walk

     We held our third Third Friday Art Walk this past week.  If you've never had a chance to participate in an event such as this, I urge you to start one in your home town.  The energy, excitement, and positive reactions that the artists receive are just what we need after working in isolation wondering if what we do really matters.  I can tell you that it does.  Two children, a brother and sister, probably age 10 and 12, came into my studio and were the best kind of "client" an artist could ask for.  They truly enjoyed all of the art, were open and honest in their comments.  When it was time to leave, they both paid me the highest compliment, more than money, more than a huge sale...they each asked for a postcard image of their favorite paintings and carefully wrote the titles on the back. As they left, the little girl held up her postcard and told me "I have a covered board in my room with ribbons on it...I'm going to put this right in the middle so I can always see it." 

    Who could ask for anything more?   

    Well, money, yes...which I did receive, enough to pay the rent and buy some more paint...but I'm sure glad those two kids came into my studio.  They made my night!

TheriverknowsThe River Knows
24 x 36, oil on linen

Artist Collective

      A few months ago I was offered an opportunity to rent studio space in the historic, three story Landaker Building in the downtown area of our small town.  I joined with three other artists, and we have formed a loose artist collective.  At first I wasn't sure I would like having to leave my house and go someplace specific to paint; I am a "night" painter, often staying up until the wee hours of the morning.  But this has proved to be a beneficial enterprise.  Our artist collective  became the driving force behind initiating  a Third Friday Art Walk, and the romance of working artist studios on a third floor "walk-up" (the elevator works, but it's good exercise) generated a lot of local press.  The name recognition alone was worth it.

    Our artist collective is called The Loft, and my friend,  Tina Harris  along with her husband Brad Hills, have been  wonderful assets.  Brad is the creative force behind C.O.L.T (Central Oregon Literary Theater) and his group performs dramatic readings during the Art Walk.  The last performance was based on the short story "Yellow Cake" by Portland author Josh Beddingfield, and each of The Loft artists created a work of art that connected to the narrative. ( Tina's photograph was titled "Mom Had a Soft
Spot For Peaches" and the image is available on her blog. )

Here is a detail from my painting, titled "That Valley."101_0405_copy   This was a wonderful collaborative experience where both the visual  and literary artists could create a new experience for the audience.  The paintings were displayed at the venue where the performances were held, and I hope we will do it again.   

Who am I?

I noticed the other day that when I do self portraits, I always look younger than I actually am...I don't know why I do this, as I like who I am at this moment.  It wasn't always this way.  When I was young, I was too insecure to even think about being an artist.  The opportunity would present itself, but I was always too busy, or too something...I had great excuses.   But one day I discovered that each time the opportunity to become an artist presented itself, I had developed more courage, newer skills, until one day I actually took the plunge.  I went back to school and received my art degree... I began painting professionally in 2001.  This blog is a record of my progress as I develop an art career as an "Ancient Artist" ~ someone starting out past the age of 50, without time on her side but with the advantage of reckless abandon.  After all, who's going to tell me to "oh, grow up!"

Self Portrait, oil on canvas   2002100_0068_r1