Saturday, July 25, 2015


Vashti, Queen of Persia, wife of the mighty Xerxes. Some believed that she was the most beautiful woman in the world. King Xerxes certainly did. Once, during a great feast, he ordered his queen to reveal her beauty to all the men in attendance. This did not mean just unveiling her face, but unveiling everything. He wanted her to dance before them, so they could receive pleasure at her sight.

It was unheard of for anyone to say no to a king's order and live. Perhaps Vashti hated being treated like a piece of meat. Perhaps, being the queen and mother of Xerxes' heir, she felt that she should receive more honor and respect. For whatever reason, she stood up to her husband, the king, and said NO.

Vashti, charcoal, 2014, SOLD

Xerxes consulted with the wise men on what to do with her. He must have loved her somewhat, because she would not be put to death for this crime. But he had to do something. If he just let it pass, then the other women of the kingdom might rise up against men instead of being obedient in everything. Vashti's action could have started a women's liberation movement! Xerxes decided to banish her from the kingdom, and take her title as queen, and give it to another.

We don't know for sure what happened to Vashti after her banishment. Was she discreetly executed? Did she live out the rest of her life in comfort, with family, or in shame? I like to think that perhaps she found happiness somewhere, where she could be valued as a human being, instead of as a plaything. I believe this would be a fitting reward for her refusal to compromise her dignity.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

In the Spotlight: Sherri Kay Linnemeyer

I first met Sherri in the weeks before opening my gallery. Opening my own gallery was a big, scary, yet thrilling step for me, and I didn't even know if any artists would support my endeavor, but Sherri was one of the first artists to bring her work, at the encouragement of artist Becky Litke. Throughout the next two years, Sherri and her beautiful watercolors and etchings helped make The Dancing Elephant Gallery successful. I have come to know and appreciate Sherri and her beautiful artwork, and now you can get a little glimpse into her life and art, too.

AV: Please tell us a little about yourself, and what kind of art you create.
SL: My name is Sherri Kay Linnemeyer, I am 55 years old, and live in Baker City, Oregon. I have fallen in love with watercolors and can see myself continuing to grow and learn with this media. I am inspired by wild flowers, animals, birds and other wildlife. I have experimented with acrylics, print making with etchings, lithographs, silk screening, colored pencils, photo collages, paper mache, and wood carving.

AV: What is your favorite piece of work that you have created? 
SL:“A Mother’s Love,” a watercolor of a buffalo calf and cow in front of Bear Butte. It is based on experiences I have had in the Black Hills of South Dakota where I was born.
A Mother's Love

AV: What are you working on at the moment?
SL: Several commissions of owls and another of a white buffalo. I am also going to paint 2 more chickens or roosters to finish a 8 image collection for multi-packs of greeting cards. Also a series of wildflowers from hikes in Hells Canyon.

AV: What are your goals for the future, both artistically, and with life in general?
SL: There are many new surfaces that are being developed for watercolors. I plan to experiment with a watercolor canvas which would eliminate framing. I plan to start having shows in galleries outside of Baker City. I have a joint show with Becky Litke at Crossroads Art Center September 2016. I plan to climb Eagle Cap mountain this summer.

AV: What do you do when you are not creating?
SL: I am a dental hygienist. It is a career that I really enjoy. When I am not working, I love hiking, photography, gardening, alpine and cross country skiing, reading, and listening to audio books.
Sing Your Heart Out

AV: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
SL: That I was a performing belly dancer for 11 years.

AV:  Do you have any favorite blogs, facebook pages, etc?
SL: I like that I am Facebook friends with many local artists and get inspired by the creations they share. Judy Knox (Facebook) is a wonderful photographer who lets me use her photos for inspiration.

AV: Name three pieces of art, not your own, which speak to you, and why:
Vincent van Gogh’s: “Irises” I like the colors and textures.
Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” Beautiful and lonely at the same time.
Georgia O’Keeffe”s “Rust Red Hills” The soft lines and the rich colors.
Summer's Pair

AV: Where do you sell your work?
SL: Cabin Cowboy Design, Crossroads, Short Term Gallery, on the walls of my operatory at Mountain Valley Dental and off my Facebook page.

AV: Where else can we find you? (blog, social media, website, etc)
SL: I post my artwork on the Public setting on my Facebook page under “Sherri Kay Linnemeyer”. I was going to maintain a separate website, but Facebook is keeping me busy enough.
King of All He Surveys

AV: What should we know about you and your work?
SL: I need to keep my life in balance, so that my artwork does not become a source of stress to avoid getting burnt out. I am willing to do commissions, but will turn down the request or refer them to another artist if I think I would not be happy making the piece.

AV: Do you have any tips or advice for other artists?
SL: If you want other people to see your art, you have to get over being shy and start entering contests, selling at art shows, and trying to get into galleries. You can learn a lot on your own through experimentation, watching You Tube videos, and from art books. But taking classes and getting critiqued on a regular basis will help you grow even faster. Other people may love a piece even if you hate it (just don’t let them know it.) Also, keep your temper and your promises.
Bath Time

AV:Who are your favorite artists?
SL: Claude Monet, Winslow Hormer, Georgia O’Keeffe, George Keister, Vincent Van Gogh, Nancy Coffelt, Ruth Foudray, Becky Litke, and Amy VanGaasbeck. This list is not complete.

AV: What are some of your non-art favorite things?
SL: The turquoise blue of glacier ice. Mountain goats. The changes of all 4 seasons. High quality dark chocolate. The movie “The Jerk” with Steve Martin. Books by Robin Hobb and other fantasy writers, and music by Loreena McKennitt..

AV: Do you have any formal education, college, classes from an artist, or are you self taught?
SL: Two years at a South Dakota State University, classes at Crossroads with Becky Litke, and talking with other artists.

AV: Do you have any obstacles you have overcome in your journey?
SL: I was a self-employed artist from 1984 to 1995. I got very burnt out and went back to school for a different career. I didn’t make art until I moved to Baker City in 2003. This community has been so supportive, it doesn’t feel like work.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Approaching the Space Time Vortex

This is my second space painting, "Approaching the Space Time Vortex". I am a sci-fi fan, and what came to me as I painted this spiral galaxy, was that maybe it needed The Doctor's TARDIS somewhere in the picture. I didn't add it in, but it did inspire me to try something Doctor Who inspired. I painted a line of pendants with a TARDIS in them. Here are some examples, all of which are sold out. I will be making more soon, if you are interested, but they do seem to sell quickly. Please contact me if interested.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Art Business: Starting Out

 Do you have a passion for creating art, and you want to make a career out of it, but don't know where to start? It can be scary starting down a career path without knowing what to do. I am on that path myself. Although at this point I am no multi-million dollar success story, perhaps you can learn from my experience. If you think you can learn from me, please read on.

The first thing you should do is really take a long, hard look at your art. Are you at a professional level in your skills yet? Be honest with yourself. When I first determined I was going to become a professional artist, I knew I had talent, but my skills needed some polish. I chose to enroll in art school, The Academy of Art University (their online program); but if that seems too big of a step, find an artist who gives classes or private tutoring. Be teachable. Ask high quality artists to honestly critique your work and show you areas that need improvement, and then make those changes. To become a great artist, you have to be able to take criticism. Criticism here is not mean, hurtful digs, but honest evaluation of your work. It's more valuable than compliments. If your skills are there, then wonderful! Keep improving your skills, keep pushing yourself. It will show in your work.

Make sure your art is high quality. Use quality materials, and make sure your framing is high quality and complements your piece. You can have a beautiful piece of art in an cheap or low quality frame, and it will be passed by unnoticed. Poor framing lowers the value of your art.  Put it in the right frame, and it could mean a sale. Avoid the use of sawtooth hangers on the back. Galleries often have guidelines to follow and will not accept certain things like sawtooth hangers. Use eye screws and hanging wire on the back, and wrap the ends of the wire with masking tape for safety. You can find tutorials for this online if you are unsure of what to do.

Price your work reasonably. If you are just starting out, your work won't likely command high prices. Start low (but not cheap!) and raise the price as you gain popularity and sales. Determine your worth. There are a few ways to do this. Compare your art to something similar in the region where it will be on display, and price it similarly. Having it priced much higher or lower than a similar artist's work will make people wonder what is wrong with it, why it is so low, or why the other piece is so low. This will allow the viewer to focus on the art, rather than be distracted by the extreme pricing. Or you can keep track of your hours and cost of supplies. Double the cost of supplies, then add an hourly wage to it, for your price. A third idea is to charge by the square inch. Start out with a small number, and as you grow, you can raise that number. This keeps consistency among similar size pieces. There is no universal formula that all artists use, you have to decide what works best for you. I use a combination of these ideas, depending on the piece, the detail, and the time spent on them.

DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB! There are a lot of high quality artists out there who struggle to make a living with art. If you expect a gallery to give you a steady paycheck, think again! You may go months, maybe years, before a gallery sells a piece of your work. Keep your job, and don't put all your eggs in one basket. There are other artsy jobs out there that you can supplement with, too. Face painting or drawing caricatures, graphic design, art lessons for kids, selling your art and prints online, setting up booths at art festivals, advertising commissions. You have to be creative. The income doesn't just happen, unfortunately.

Develop an artist's statement, resume, and biography. Keep your statement to one or two paragraphs at the most. Describe why you create, what your goals are as an artist, and what inspires you. For your resume, keep it professional and to the point, like you would any other resume. Keep it to one page, and make sure you include what media you use, what art education and experience you have, any awards, and shows. We will revisit this again in another post, in more detail. Also make sure you have nice business cards. You can go onto a site like Zazzle and create your own design. Try to come up with something clean and attractive but not distracting. You are an artist, so don't be boring! Be creative! Use an image of your own art so people can see right away what you do.

It's a good idea to have a portfolio handy. Take high quality images of your art to a copy shop or a printer, and have color copies made. Put them in plastic sleeves and place in a binder. Go for 10-12 of your best images. You can also put them on CD. Both a hard copy and a CD are good to have handy. Now you can approach galleries with your art.

Submit your work to a local gallery. This has to be the scariest step of all, to submit to a gallery for the first time. It's like sacrificing your baby on an altar, or standing naked in front of a crowd---at least it feels that way. I remember the first gallery I submitted my art to. I did it right before starting art college. I had never shown my work in a gallery before. I had a few awards from competitions, but this was different. I put it out there, and I was rejected. But you know what? The rejection wasn't as scary as the fear of rejection. I asked for tips on what I could do to improve, and then tried another gallery. The second gallery accepted my work, and it was in that gallery that I began to grow and improve my skills. A year later, I resubmitted to the first gallery, and they accepted me and my art. The worst they can do is tell you no, and honestly, you can let it be a stumbling block, or you can let it be your starting point. I made it my starting point. 5 years later, that gallery called me and asked me to be a featured artist. Looking at my art then and now, I can see the progress I have made.

When looking for a gallery, go look at what they have. Will your art fit there? If you paint traditional landscapes and it's a modern art gallery, most likely they won't accept your work. Find one that fits your style. Also consider a co-op. You pay a monthly fee, and may have to volunteer at the gallery each month, but the experience is worth it. We will get into types of galleries in a later post.

When a gallery accepts your work, be courteous, and follow their guidelines. Pay attention to deadlines and find out how long your pieces will be displayed before you need to replace them. When I had a gallery, it was amazing how many artists just used my space as storage, never rotating art or picking up their work unless I tried contacting them multiple times. Galleries need to remain fresh, and have new things to see all the time. Keeping the same art up for months and months will keep viewers from coming in. It becomes stagnant and boring, because they have seen it all before. Being courteous will grow the relationship between you and the gallery director, and you definitely want to have good rapport with them. You want to be the one they refer buyers and other galleries to, instead of remembering you as unprofessional in your dealings. Get a monthly planner, and write down which months you need to rotate art at which galleries, and keep that schedule.

If you have your art in more than one gallery in the same city, although it isn't required, it's a good idea to have something special for each gallery. Don't pick up your art from one gallery and the same month, take it to the next. People will become bored---it's like watching a rerun. Show a piece, remove it from the gallery, then put it away a couple of months before showing it in another gallery. Or show horses exclusively at the Cowboy Gallery, still lifes at the Fruit Gallery, nudes at the Women's Gallery. That will increase your value as an artist, and your exclusivity. People will know that if they want a specific piece of yours, they have to go to a particular gallery to find it. It's a win-win for you and the gallery.

Support your galleries! Promote them. People won't know where your work is if you don't show them where to look! Start a Facebook page for your fine art. Show your art, and link to the galleries and their art walks and events. And don't forget to ATTEND the events! So many artists don't go, even if they live in town. If you can make it, go, and visit with the people who are viewing your work. People love to meet the artists, and you can often hear feedback from the viewers. You are more likely to sell a piece if the buyer develops a connection with you, the artist.

So one last thing: now you are an established artist represented in a gallery, you have to discipline yourself to produce art on a regular basis. You don't just create when inspiration strikes. That could mean producing one painting a year. Plan it out, and schedule a regular time to draw, paint, sculpt. Think of painting as a job. You have to do it every week, if not daily. You have deadlines now, and you need to keep in the public's eye in order to build your reputation. Trust me, it can be done, and you can do it. A professional artist differs from the hobbyist in many ways, and one of those ways is self discipline. Treat it like a job, and eventually, it will pay off.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

First Annual Christmas in July Sale

As I am constantly creating more art, I am running out of room to put everything! I am letting these pieces go at clearance prices. Do your Christmas shopping early and get some awesome art at great prices! My loss is your gain! Shipping is based on package weight, free delivery or pickup in Baker City, Oregon. Please click here if you are interested in purchasing.
Historic home 1  pen and ink, $30 unframed

Geisha, oil, 12x16", $75 unframed
Starlight House, pen and ink, $30 unframed

South African Man, pen and ink, $20 framed

Rainforest, oil, 12x16", $75 unframed

The Brothel, pen and ink, $30 unframed

Baker Towers Flowers, oil, $75 unframed

African Child charcoal, $75 framed

The Guardian, charcoal, $75 framed