Monday, March 30, 2015

Promote Your Art With Bookmarks!

It's probably not much of a stretch to assume art lovers also tend to be readers. At least this has been my experience. I would venture to say the majority of people I know who are avid art collectors are also avid consumers of the printed word. Visit their homes and you'll likely see books and magazines everywhere you look.

This bookmark's tassel features semi-precious beads©2015 Lynn Edwards

Open one of those books and you'll probably come across a bookmark. (Or a scrap of paper serving as a bookmark.) So, why not consider using bookmarks to promote your art? An eye catching bookmark with your name and contact information on the back isn't likely to be discarded. In fact, if the design is appealing enough, it could remain in someone's possession for years! Every time it's used, it will remind them of you and your work. This low tech form of advertising is both accessible and affordable, making it ideal for artists, photographers and other creatives.

There are so many different ways to create artwork for bookmarks I couldn't possibly list them all. Instead, I'll show you one of the methods I use:

An allover pattern works well as the basis for several bookmarks.   ©2015 Lynn Edwards

1. To make original art bookmarks like the one above, start with a sheet of 140# hot pressed watercolor paper. My paper was 6x8" but you can use any size as long as it's substantial enough to hold up to use.

2. Fill the paper with your design, making sure to take it right out to the edge. Here I've used Sharpies in an assortment of bright colors, but you could use water based paints, collage, ink...whatever works for you. (Note: I would not recommend using oils or oil pastels.)

3. Scan the finished art. Then leverage it! Photocopy your original design onto plain white card stock to make inexpensive copies. These can be made up in large quantities. (Original versions can be handed out more judiciously.)

4. Cut the papers into bookmark sized pieces. The 6x8" paper I used yielded four 1 1/2 wide x 6" bookmarks and two 1 x 6" bookmarks. An 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet can yield ten 1 1/2 x 6" bookmarks.

5. To add a ribbon tassel, punch a hole at one end of the bookmark using a standard paper punch. Position the hole about 1/4" from the edge. Make sure it's centered.

6. Cut two or three equal lengths of thin ribbon in a complimentary color. Holding them together, fold them over your finger at their halfway point, forming a loop.

7. Holding the loop firmly, push it through the hole in the bookmark. Then insert the ends through the loop and pull gently to form a lark's head knot. This secures the ribbon to the bookmark.

8. Apply a custom stamp or label with your contact info to the back. Or write it in permanent ink if you have legible handwriting.

Your bookmarks are now ready to serve as your ambassadors.

Black marker on white card stock. ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Where and when to hand them out

When you make a sale. You'll need to determine for yourself when a sale warrants it, of course. And whether you'll gift the buyer with an original or a print. I like to include one or two original bookmarks whenever I sell an original piece of my art.
When a supplier provides extraordinary customer service. Like the lady at the frame shop who expedited your job to help you meet a submission deadline.
When someone has done you a favor: the sales associate who helps you find just the right gift for your Mom, or the kennel owner who continues to care for your dog when you're stranded in Philly due to bad weather.
When a friend or associate deserves an accolade, include a bookmark in your congratulatory note.
Tuck them into library books to be discovered by library patrons. Leave some in the dressing room of an upscale boutique. Or on the table holding the blank deposit slips at the bank. Warning: coming up with places to leave bookmarks to be discovered makes this form of guerrilla art addictive!
Hand out a bookmark when you meet someone whom you want to remember you -- such as a gallery director, curator or other person you hope to cultivate a business relationship with.
Distribute them in your booth at festivals and art fairs.
Give them to the professionals you patronize: your banker, lawyer, dentist, veterinarian, doctor, accountant, etc.
Include them in outgoing correspondence when you pay bills or communicate by snail mail.

These are just a few of the many ways you can can put this simple advertising tool to good use. Making bookmarks is easy, and the cost is negligible. If the very thought of "selling" makes you squirm, this promotional tool will soon become a favorite. It's actually FUN! After all, everyone enjoys getting a gift!

 Text and images ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 29, 2015

"Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts; the sight of the deep-blue sky, and the clustering stars above, seem to impart a quiet to the mind." -- Jonathan Edwards

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Collaging Vintage Book Pages

 Very old book pages have always intrigued me. Something about their tea-colored appearance and quaint typography just draws me in. Sometimes margin notes written in a precise hand, or even a long-dead flower found pressed between the pages, offer tantalizing hints about the book's history.

Recently, I decided to use a page from a book published in the early 1800s as a support for a small collage. Don't worry, I did not destroy a precious relic : the sad old volume I used was already totally derelict when I acquired it. Its front cover was missing and its pages had long since separated from the spine. It was literally rescued from a conveyor belt that, in a few more seconds, would have dumped it into a commercial shredder. But tattered as it is, the old book still presents creative opportunities if not literary ones.

Just inside the missing cover is a page bearing the inscription "David Dunlop. 1856." Who was David Dunlop? How did he come to own this book? What was his interest in A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen? We'll never know the answers, but it's fun to look at his small yet elegant signature and speculate.

I wonder what he'd think about a page from his book becoming the basis for a modern piece of art:

"Holyrood" is a mixed media collage created on a page from 150 year old book. ©2015 Lynn Edwards

As you can see from the first photo the 1800s typography was teensy tiny. (How the heck did they ever manage to read it??) I wanted some of it to show through the artwork, so in places I used Gelli printed semi-transparent deli paper. It allows the type to peek through here and there, which gives the piece a sense of depth and mystery.

©2015 Lynn Edwards

The large typography you see in the piece came from books not quite as old as David Dunop's. I like to use typography in my art whenever possible; I think it makes the piece more interesting and gives viewers reasons to look more closely.

Although many old books have pages that are too frail to use as substrates, this page was surprisingly sturdy for its age. It bore up well under multiple layers of paper, paint, ink and adhesive when it was mounted on 140# watercolor paper. The only problem I encountered was a slight tendency toward wrinkling. To counteract it I made sure to let each layer dry completely before applying another layer.

When the collage was done, I sandwiched it between two pieces of freezer paper (waxy sides facing the art), piled a huge stack of heavy books on top, and let it sit for 24 hours. When I removed the books the collage remained perfectly flat. I then float mounted it onto a piece of foam board. After sealing Holyrood in a clear bag, it's now offered for sale through my Etsy shop, PlayingWithColors.

Had the page been more fragile, I could have gently brushed on a layer of clear matte acrylic medium or gel to reinforce it before collaging over it. If you're working with a book, try this on a page you don't intend to use.This lets you determine how it will behave and whether it will work for your project.

What was the oldest book you've ever used for making art? What has been your most exciting vintage book find to date? Answer one of these questions in the Comments section and you'll be entered in a drawing for a FREE art book from my personal collection. I'll announce the winner here on the blog next Friday, April 3. Good luck!

Text and images ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 22, 2015

"Wit is a treacherous dart. It is perhaps the only weapon with which it is possible to stab oneself in one's own back." -- Geoffrey Bocca

Monday, March 16, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

OMG, it's St. Patrick's Day! I've been so busy the past couple of weeks I wasn't paying much attention to the calendar. So it has caught me totally by surprise -- a shameful admission from someone whose ancestors came from Counties Clare and Tipperary. They're probably rolling over in their graves right now.

In my family, growing up, we always had Irish soda bread on St. Patrick's Day. And it was always delicious. Unfortunately I've never mastered the family recipe. Whenever I've tried making it (and I have tried many times) the result has always been a brick-like lump that even the dog refused to eat.

So now that I've owned up to being a lousy Irish breadmaker, my only other option is to wear something green today to show affection for my ancestral homeland. And I have just the ticket: a bright emerald green t-shirt with "Ireland" and "1924 Lansdowne Road Dublin Football Championship" on the front. It's unmistakably Irish. It's a bit large on me, but who cares? I am Irish, and I've got to celebrate St. Pat's somehow. So I'll "wear the green" today with pride. If I want some edible Irish soda bread, I'll stop by a bakery.

©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Conversation: Something that starts the moment you put your foot through the television set." -- Author unknown

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 8, 2015

"When Nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to Extend Regular Acrylics' Working Time

Golden's Open Acrylic Medium

Those of you who read my blog regularly know I'm always looking for ways to get maximum use from my art supplies. And you also know how much I love acrylic paints.

Both "regular" and fluid acrylics dry fast, sometimes too fast, particularly in arid climates with low humidity. (Just try using them for plein air work and you'll see what I mean.)

A few years ago, Golden Paints introduced a great new product line: Golden Open Acrylics. These acrylics handle just like regular acrylics but they stay wet much, much longer. Days longer, in many cases.

If I had a fairy godmother, I'd ask her to transform all my "regular" acrylics into Open Acrylics. But I don't have a fairy godmother. And if you're familiar with Golden's paints, you know they don't come cheap. But there IS a way to enjoy a longer working time without ditching your regular acrylics: just buy a bottle of Open Medium. Add a few drops of it to "regular" acrylics and -- glitter dust, please!!! -- you've got acrylic paints that stay workable significantly longer!

I haven't conducted scientific tests to determine exactly how much longer, but I can say using Open Medium has resulted in an extended working time I didn't have before. My palette is a piece of heavy 4 mil plastic so my paints are probably drying on it faster than they would on my Sta-Wet palette, but they're still considerably wetter an hour or two later than paints not amended with the medium. If I used the Sta-Wet, I bet they'd be viable forever. (I'm exaggerating, of course. But I suspect a month or two would not be unreasonable to expect.)

Open Medium has come in really handy for monoprinting with my Gelli Plate. It allows time to develop surface designs, making printing sessions more leisurely. It also makes blending colors a piece of cake, along with any number of other uses. For students just learning to paint with acrylics, it reduces the frustration many feel when their paints dry faster than they can be manipulated.

Open Medium is now an indispensable tool in my studio. If I were painting plein air I would not leave home without it.

By the way, I am in no way compensated by Golden nor do I have any business relationship with that company. I just happen to like their products!

Text and image ©2015 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Thought for Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever." -- Isak Dinesen