Journey of Discovery

By Liz Smith

Until you experience it, it’s hard to describe Portland Open Studios in a way that does it justice. For my first time attending PDXOS, I was simply looking forward to meeting some artists and looking at some art –  I had no idea it would be so personal, and that’s largely due to the openness that each artist takes in letting the public into their home studios.

Wayfinding using both the app and the paper map worked very well for me. I would just pick a studio as a starting point and let it flow from there. Sometimes I would meet other visitors and ask them where they had been or where they were going next. Sometimes I’d be driving through a neighborhood and a yellow sign would catch my eye and I’d take a diversion from my plan and just see where I ended up. You really can’t go wrong, however you decide to navigate and which studio you select.

I never realized before how much I enjoy learning about process. Many artists have time-lapse videos playing so that you can get a quick view, and some also did live demos, which were great. At the end of each day, my brain was full from learning and from getting that deeper understanding about what each artist puts into their work. Seeing their tools, easels, wood cutters, paints; feeling a floor so layered with wax that you could literally scrape shavings from it; watching kids gathered around a potter’s wheel saying “I want to do that one day!” – these memories are deeply imbedded in me now, as well as a renewed sense of how important art is in our city, our country, our world. It’s like seeing dreams made tactile, and those dreams tap into our own emotions and inspiration.

Considering that a lot of artists I know are shy people, I was truly grateful to

Sarah Waldron sharing her process

be allowed to come into their private space. Each person that I met was so welcoming! It almost felt like you’d made a new friend each time. There is a sense of community within the

Visitor trying out fabric art at Karen Sunday Spencer’s studio

“communities”, and it was neat to see the connection and support among the artists.

When people say “that is SO Portland” I would apply this to Portland Open Studios with gusto – we are literally surrounded by artists in all quadrants of our city and outlying communities, and this is what makes the culture of this city so special and unique. The house down the street from you
with the interesting shed out back may house a talent that you know nothing about – PDXOS gives you the

Sarah Waldron bead

opportunity to lift the curtain and see the creativity first hand. For both locals and out of town visitors, we are so lucky to have this curated treasure trove of makers among us and available to us! I am adding this to my yearly traditions and can’t wait to share it with others, to return to see some of the artists I met this year and to discover new ones.

Portland Open Studios: What Art has to give to You

On Tuesday morning, at 5:30 am, I watched as KOIN 6 news correspondent Kohr Harlan’s face lit up – literally and figuratively!

He was holding a welding tool, which was spitting out hot metal, flame and sparks, attempting to seal a piece of metal onto a wreath shape of metal pieces. Beside him was Travis Pond, one of our participating artists, walking him through the process. Harlan’s face mask was awash in blue and yellow light.

“Yup,” said Harlan, as he lifted his mask and grinned widely. “It doesn’t get better than this. I got to WELD something.”

Which reminds me why it is we do what we do at Portland Open Studios. We are not your typical art experience. Where else can a visitor immerse themselves in up to 99 different ways that artists make art, in their studios, with their tools, with work in all its various states around them? It is exhilarating. All of our artists will be demonstrating their process. Many will have something for you to try out, too.

I know people who like to romanticize the job of an artist. Let me tell you, if you are making art for a living, there are definite ups and downs, just like any other job. But the biggest up is the thrill of making something with your hands and using your right – or visual side – of the brain. Those of us who participate in Portland Open Studios know that this meditative, out-of-time feeling is what gets us through even the most difficult of days.

We also know that this feeling is not unique or special to us – anyone can get it by learning to hand-make something. Whether it’s fine art, working on a car engine, knitting, cake decorating or carpentry, taking things apart and putting them back together again is an experience that builds your brain and your soul. The artists who participate in open studios aren’t just hawking their wares. We want you to share that experience, that feeling, with you. Our connection to art is very human and very universal.

This year, Portland Open Studios celebrates 20 years, and our hope, our dream, is that you walk into open studios with curiosity, and walk out having your mind blown – that process was so cool, that painting so beautiful, that studio so amazing. We want you to walk away feeling like you must have more art in your life, and that art has something to give YOU, personally.

We want you to walk away feeling like it doesn’t get any better than this.

Much love,

Leah and the Portland Open Studios Board (Maude, Shelly, Jolinda, David, Pat, Janie, Sam, Kit and Duck)

Channel 6 Kohr Harlan visits PDXOS artist Travis Pond

It may have been 5 am in Travis Pond’s backyard sculpture studio on Tuesday, but the place was already humming with people and activity. Travis is Artist #3 in Community 1.

Kohr Harlan, a correspondent for the KOIN TV (Channel 6) early morning news program, was wearing protective goggles and wielding a fire and hot metal spitting spout. He was welding, live on TV, with Travis!

“Yup,” said Harlan, pulling up his mask with a grin. “This is the best it gets. The story just writes itself. Man, that was fun!”

This is the second year running that Harlan has covered Portland Open Studios for Channel 6 news – always, by doing art with the artist live on TV. Last year, he visited Maude May, our board vice president, to learn about encaustic techniques. And while he walked in curious but a little skeptical – “I’m more of a sports guy” he proclaimed – he walked out hooked.

We aren’t surprised here at Portland Open Studios – we know this is why our event is so important. It gets participants up close and personal with the artmaking process, not just the art. And we know that learning to make something can change your life. Remember that this weekend, as you visit artist studios!

A word from the president

This October, Portland Open Studio’s 20th year offers both something old and something new.

Unchanged is the event itself, in which 99 artists will open their studios to the public on the second and third weekends of October (Oct. 13-14 and Oct. 20-21). Visitors can expect artist demos, the chance to try out some artistic processes, and the chance to get to know artists and procure some amazing local art.

How you’ll find the artists this year – our tour guide – has gotten a serious makeover. We noticed fewer people were seeking out our printed guide, which was distributed by our amazing partners New Seasons grocery, and appeared in many forms over the years, from a calendar to an 80-page bound book. The tour guide typically cost between $10 and $15 to purchase.

Meanwhile, the phone app version of our tour guide, first developed about five years ago by artist and former board member Shu Ju Wang, was becoming increasingly popular. Last year, nearly 1,500 people downloaded the app, while only about 300 bought the paper tour guide.

This year we have three ways to find our artists:

  1. The Printed Guide, an 8-page insert listing all artists, with addresses and contact information, organized by neighborhood, will be in the center of the October issue of Portland Monthly Magazine (price: $6). That issue, the Weekend Getaways issue, is out on the newsstands now (as of 9/10/18)
  2. The Phone App Guide will be available in both the apple store and google play stores on Sept. 20 (Price: $4.99). You’ll be able to review three photos of art from each studio, get driving directions between studios, and new this year, a calendar that will tell you what your favorite Portland Open Studio artists are doing ALL YEAR LONG. (How’s that for added value?)
  3. Artists and their addresses are listed on our website (free), at www.portlandopenstudios.com

Want to catch all these artists in one place? We’ll launch our 20th year with a group show of most participating artists and party at the Oregon Society of Artists, on Friday, Sept. 28, from 6-9 p.m. And save the date for our big birthday gala bash, the Art Ball, on Nov. 8 at the Hilton downtown (Come dressed as your favorite artists, art time period, or painting).

Hope to see you at the studios this year!

Warmly,
Leah

Pricing Your Artwork with Confidence (in a nutshell)

Once upon a time, in 1998, I had two small paintings in an exhibition. I was asked to price the pieces low, so that they would sell, and sell they did. But when I received my percentage, it seemed as though I didn’t earn anything at all from this double sale. And so, after 17 years of being an exhibiting artist, I finally did some math to find out what it really cost me to produce any one painting. The unhappy ending? Not only did I not make any profit, but it cost me $500 out of pocket to sell those two paintings.

We have been told to count the hours spent creating the artwork, and to add up the cost of our materials, at most. This issue has flummoxed artists, coast to coast, for as long as I can remember. It should be taught in art school, among other business things.

Math is your friend and knowledge is power.

Start with four basic pieces of information:

  1. Material Costs: Add up all the materials that go into your artwork. Average them out over the year, per piece of artwork created that same year.
  2. Overhead Costs: Other expenses that go into being a working artist such as studio rent, workshops, photography, etc.
  3. Creative Labor: Time spent actually creating your artwork in the studio. Keep a log.
  4. Miscellaneous Labor: Time you spend doing support work such as attending meetings, gallery visits, shopping for supplies. Keep a log. Average it out over the year, per piece of artwork created that year.

One more thing to calculate:

Figure out your minimum hourly living wage, based on your real life expenses, so that you can live to continue to create work. That is only reasonable. Neither luxurious, nor impoverished, but reasonable.

As an example:

It takes you 15 hours to paint “Goldfish Dreams”,  plus 20 hours average support time per painting. This equals 35 hours of your time to create this painting.

If your minimum hourly living wage is $25 per hour, then that is $875 for labor costs alone. If your material and overhead expenses average $200 per painting, then “Goldfish Dreams” cost you $1075. to create. You also need to consider any exhibition commissions, plus taxes on your labor and any profits.

Knowing what it really costs to create your work can be distressing at first, however, knowledge is power.

Everything above can be calculated mathematically.  Then there are the more intangible items to consider:

  • Price ranges in the art market
  • The economy in general
  • Your cumulative experience as an artist
  • Your career level
  • And other things…

Remember to value your skill, vision, and years of experience… And then balance that with the reality of the marketplace. Have work available at different price points, from quick sketches and experimental pieces to your highest-quality exhibiting work. Balance what is important to you personally, and to your longer-term career.

To purchase   Pricing Your Artwork with Confidence

paintedjay.com (print and ebook with link to Amazon page)

alexandrialevin.com

alexalev.com

 

Ice Crystal Painting

PDXOS artist Ruth Armitage is sharing one of her many ideas for creating her wonderful paintings.  Ice Crystal Painting  This is one of the many things that excite me about attending Portland Open Studios and getting to know the artists we meet there on an individual basis.  What a great idea!!

More news

The Portland Open Studios Board spent so much time last weekend discussing where we’ve been and where we want to go in the Portland art scene, and made so many decisions, that it might take us a little time to convey it all to you. What follows are some of the changes we made, but it’s certainly not all. The chart shows the basic fees charged artists from 2010 to the present. As you can see, we haven’t kept up with rising prices at all, but we still want to make the tour affordable to as many artists as possible.

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010
Participation 250 150 150 150 150 150 150 140
Jury/ Application Starting Fee 30 25 25 25 25 25 25 25
Jury/ Application Final Week Fee 40 35 35 35 35 35 35 35
Opt Out 0 175 175 175 175 175 175 155

We are raising the entry fee and eliminating the opt out fee.  We are also eliminating the required volunteer hours (while still offering it as an option to people who want it).  We did this because we unanimously agreed that most of our artists would volunteer whether or not they were required to do so. 

Just as important, we are offering so much more in benefits this year.  The meetings will be shorter and much more helpful.  For instance, we are bring in an expert on social media and how you can make it work for you.  We are eliminating the need for the artists to sell ads, which we know was a hardship on many.  We are planning much more in artist-involved shows to promote our artists.

 The gallery scene and art world in Portland is changing.  In order to stay relevant we need more funds and a more active community.  When we are stronger as a group we will have a larger impact on what changes occur, such as studio space, group shows, etc.  We need our artists to attend the meetings so they can be better informed, active, and part of the decision making process.

We welcome your comments. 

Exciting changes to Portland Open Studios

Hey artists! Your Portland Open Studio Board has been hard at work this weekend in Manzanita while all of you brave the snow in Portland to bring you a new and improved tour for Open Studios 2017. Here are some of the highlights:
• The Call to Artists opens on January 15, and closes early on March 3 (to give us all more time to plan for the event). The application fee this year is $30 before February 26 and $40 after that date. We’re asking that everyone submit four photos this year, with one photo being an ‘at work’ photo.
• We have eliminated the volunteer hours requirement. Instead, the entry fee will be raised to $250. Each artist will have the opportunity to volunteer 4 hours for a refund of $50. You will notice that this is not as much as you would have paid last year if you opted out of volunteering. Just because we’ve eliminated this requirement, please don’t think that we won’t welcome your offer to volunteer. As most of you know, it’s a lot of fun, and giving of yourself makes you feel much more a part of the PDXOS family.
• The Tour Guide will be produced much earlier, by mid-June, and artists will not be required to sell advertising (though you are welcome to buy an ad, or send a prospective advertiser our way).
• We’re going to raise the number of artist meetings: three general artist meetings and a Community Leader meeting (formerly CAG). General artist meetings are mandatory for us to consider you a Participating Artist. Feedback from the survey also said we need to meet sooner so the first artist meeting will happen right after the artists are announced in April. The second meeting will be in mid-June to deliver the tour guides and provide an educational component for your benefit. The third meeting is in September to have a party to kick off the event and distribute the signs. After a very positive experience last year, our Community Leaders will continue to have their own meeting prior to the first General Artist meeting in April.
We are working hard to incorporate your feedback and strengthen our timeline to support your efforts. Thank you so much for your interest in this premier art event!

Thank You!

tour-guide-cover pdxos-ad

 

 

fb-cover banner-with-3The Board would like to thank our artists for submitting “At Work” images with their applications this year. We found some great submissions and used them in our advertising, the Tour Guide cover and new banners for our festival shows. Artists whose images were selected include Annamieka Davidson, Bill Park, John Shlichta, Therese Murdza, Alison O’Donoghue, Beth Yazhari, and Craig Allen Lawver.

MAP Changes and closures

#28 Joanne Radmilovich Kollman
Joanne is no longer at the Troy Laundry building. Please visit her at her new studio at
Oregon Society of Artists
2185 S.W. Park Place
Portland, Oregon 97205

#82 Kitty Wallis – MOBILE APP displays wrong address. Correct address: 12450 SW Knoll Drive, Tigard.

#101 PM Shore
PM Shore has moved since the Tour Guide was printed. Her new address in the Everett Station Lofts is Everett Station Lofts, 625 NW Everett, Unit 106

#40 Thérèse Murdza
Thérèse’s studio

Directions in the printed Tour Guide are sometimes limited or confusing. The best way to navigate is to use any of our mobile apps including the FREE navigation version

Tour Dates: October 8, 9 & 15, 16.