Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I've been trying to work, but the girls in my paintings are not being very cooperative. They are actually obstinate. I threw my coffee in the face of this one to show her who is in charge!

I mean - they should show me some respect. I am the ARTIST.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

that special light

at this time of the year we start getting that special light - the sun makes it's round closer to the horizon. It creates the longest shadows and gets into your eyes. I have to get some white blinds for my studio windows to be able to work there!

letter playground created by Nate Williams - found through Sandra Dieckmann

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Art as Business: Time Management

It helps a lot if you are good at time management when self-employed (as an artist - or anything else!). I’m constantly working on improving when it comes to this subject. I am no expert, but I will share what has helped me so far. (I'm actually originally messy - and also a mother - and without these efforts I would be lost in chaos)

-We all know how it is when you feel that it’s all messy: papers, appointments, remembering dates etc, right?

- But why is it like this?

  • Vague goals and priorities
  • No overall plans or concrete steps/deadlines
  • Not any systems to keep order
  • Not saying NO
  • Not taking a break to (re)think or recover

- So how can you solve these problems?

  1. What are my goals?
  2. How should I get there and where do I start?
  3. What do I do with my time?
- So far I’ve been writing a lot about 1 and 2 in this Sunday series. But it is actually no 3 that will lead me towards my goals – or not … (next week I will report on my progress so far).

I’ve constructed this list where I’ve been tracking what I’ve been doing for several weeks (since August 11). This has been a way for me to discover time drains – or actually verify what I’ve been suspecting.

My two main Problems are:
  • I do too much voluntary work – especially considering I’ve actually said NO to doing it after many years of being on boards etc.
  • I do too many different things in a day (we shouldn’t even mention in a week!) or have too many parallel projects going on. I’m not able to be really efficient because there is a certain starting-up time for every different task.
Put time limits on my voluntary work (1 hour /week in average should be enough), say no and explain that I have certain deadlines to meet. Honor my own time. I’ve already done my part (7 years) and someone else could take over now.

Decide what activity I can do without, what could be done in less time - and what activity I can do later.
  • Do I have any absolute deadlines?
  • Will this activity lead anywhere when taking my main goals in considerations (will Manga-workshops for kids give anything more than some money now? Would the time be better invested in something else?)
  • Cluster errands and foresee needs (when buying new watercolour papers buying more stamps …ok, still some left – but I’ll need more soon).
  • Decide how much time some activities are allowed to take - and not always aim for perfection (writing this very post has a certain time limit!)
  • Use calendar and address book better (I already started to improve on this one in spring)
  • Have a look at the coming months and plan concentrated periods of work if possible (October = Public Commissions, November = own art) – and rewards (dinner out, a day off)

So far these posts about Art as Business have just been words and words: about what I want to achieve and how to do it. But will I really achieve anything? Next Sunday it's time for my first Progress Report - find out if I'm a phony or for real!

[this is part 8 in my Sundays series about Art as Business. Here you can read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6 - and part 7]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

fell from heaven

I smiled today when I found this crumbled paper on my bike outside a school. Jimmi must have thrown it out the window.

screenprinting workshop

Would you like to take my screenprinting workshop at KKV Göteborg the 16-18 of October?

To be able to take it you have to be a professional artist, designer or artisan (eligible as member at KKV). Here you can read more about the workshop (in Swedish only).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


These are the screenprints I made on my two days printing. I also worked on another one which will get a painted addition - and made an experimental print together with Camilla. (We will hopefully both continue on the latter separately and see where it leads - just playing around ... nothing commercial!)

Elisabeth has started a series of interviews - fine little interview

detail from a print Camilla and I played around with together

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

long day

I had a long day:
07:00 waking up
08:30 out running
10:00 KKV screenprinting with Camilla
17:00 taking photos of my prints, enamels and glass - and a collegue's art work
18:00 glass meeting and demonstration of drills and other equipement
20.30 late dinner at KKV discussing how to improve the glass workshops
21.30 Home and turning on the computer ... and here I am!

... tomorrow I'll show you what I screenprinted!

Monday, September 21, 2009

KKV with Camilla

Today I enjoyed screenprinting at KKV with Camilla. We'll continue tomorrow.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Art as Business: Galleries III

The literature for Today's class: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
The novel is about Siddhartha’s spiritual journey toward enlightenment. It is a short novel and very easy to read (do not get intimidated by Hesse being a Nobel Prize winner!) I read this novel for the first time more than 20 years ago and I keep returning to it. Read it!

The lesson to learn from Siddhartha: Every one has their own path to follow - and what might seem like a detour can be a necessary excursion to gain insight - an insight needed to be able to continue towards enlightenment.

The focus for today's lesson: Siddhartha knows only to do three things - how to think, how to wait and how to fast.

I actually know how to think (analyse and draw conclusions) - BUT for a long time I thought that the art world was about higher values - and hence I didn't use my capacity to think when it came to my career as an artist.

The art world is a world of hypocrisy because most artists and galleries deny that this world works like the rest of the world. No - it is about higher values. About Art with a capital A. I too believed this. Why did I need to go to that special school? Wouldn't that just shape me like the others? Couldn’t I find my own way? Wasn’t it about how good the art was – not about the person and his/her background and contacts?

Let's ask questions to find answers
There are GALLERIES and there are galleries. And there is ART and there is art. I get to exhibit in galleries without having to work very hard for it. But I want to exhibit in GALLERIES. How do people get there then?
  1. The right schools
  2. The right friends and contacts (see above)
  3. Being “discovered”
  4. X (the unknown must exist: when there is a will there is a way)

I’m going for answer 4. – X - the unknown way. X means I have to do some serious thinking and RESEARCH. To be able to attain something you have to know what you are striving for - that is to be concrete. I will therefore
  1. pinpoint at which GALLERIES I want to exhibit (at this point I can already mention that I strive only for the very best. )
  2. analyse them and the artists exhibiting there
  3. use the analyses to figure out strategies to get to exhibit there myself

To me this means being tactic, patient and persistent. I am not trying to become a prima ballerina and time is on my side. As reaching my goals is important to me I should not rush into things - especially without thinking first. To wait is to be prepared to start where I am. To wait is also to prepare - and to know when you have prepared enough.

  • Meanwhile I think (above) I will prepare for the GALLERIES: better artist statement, better portfolio and updated website, contacts lists, network etc.
To me to fast is to not to abandon my path because I need comfort. I have for example to remember to keep the work with public commissions at the right level: to make ends meet, but not much more. I should always remember that I do not really make money on my exhibitions - and ONLY exhibit my very best art ... and not include something because I (or the gallerist) think it will sell. NO COMPROMISES!
Also: to have the time to work on my own art is essential - I need to keep improving.
  1. continue to keep a tight budget
  2. reserve days for my own creative work in my studio and at KKV (aim: 40%)
  3. Not compromise with my "real art"
To make sure things will happen I have to give myself some deadlines. Right now I am actually trying to concentrate on the "public commission part" of my business. I am already doing so many different things that I sometimes have a hard time concentrating on anything ... so I've told myself I should - if possible - divide my time into concentrated periods. October will still be "public commission period" but I can start up some things for my "gallery period" at nights.
  • order new portfolio by October 6
  • 2 hours every Thursday night should be reserved for "thinking about GALLERIES"
  • Progress Report on my thoughts and Gallery approaches on my blog 1st of November
  • try to spend 40% of my time on creative work in studio/KKV

... so many different things to do, remember and administrate - How Do I manage? Is there a secret? Yes, of Course! The secret could be yours for only $9:90 - send me an e-mail (let the subject be time management) to get further instructions.

Or you could - FOR FREE - Join me next Sunday for Art as Business: Time management!

[this is part 7 in my Sundays series about Art as Business. Here you can read part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 - and part 6]

Thursday, September 17, 2009

the postman delivered more than bills

Today I got a letter from Kansas filled with colourful explosion and energy: Aimee had send my a lot of doodle gifts!!! thank you thank you thank you! I have known Aimee through her blog for some time now ... and I just have to meet her in person some day. In November last year I got a gift that cheered me up from Marie-Louise - and I got to meet her in spring. So let's continue this pattern - Aimee spring 2010?

Don't miss to follow how Cecilia starts her business as illustrator/pattern designer. I know I will follow every step!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A as in Apple

A is for beginning
Apple is for knowledge

Today I started to teach my watercolur classes for amateurs again. I painted this apple to show them how to make something with few brushstrokes and keep the shape simple. It's always good to be reminded of the basic - it is the foundation and the starting point...

Adams Saks also paints in watercolour

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

wanna go out and play

I've just spend 5 days on cultural bureaucracy - applying for funding for two artist organizations and trying to balance a budget. We've had sunny crisp September days and I've been sitting in front of the computer with the blinders down. I'm just dying to go out and play - or just bike to the studio - but I have to clean up the paper mess on my table and get everything in the right files on the computer first.

They say patience is a virtue...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Art as Business: Galleries II

I have been just outside galleries, well prepared and just there to make contact ... and I have turned on the doorstep.

There was a dragon inside.
I felt threatened to my life.
Today suddenly didn't feel like a good day.

I do not like the "contacting galleries"-part. I fear the “contacting galleries”-part. Why do I fear it? It is not like the galleries are dragons right?

"Dragons are legendary creatures, typically with serpentine or otherwise reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of worldwide cultures." (

Yes. They are - to me they are dragons!
I do not like to be humiliated, I do not like impolite rejection, I do not like the fact that I’m not even given a chance to even show my work, I do not like the hypocrisy.

But is it really a threat? Should I instead sit in my studio and hope for someone to come and rescue - I mean discover - me?

"Do one thing every day that scares you" Eleanor Roosevelt.

WE all have fears. Rational and irrational. In this context I see myself as a dragon killer - there are some things I fear and I should face them. Maybe I will not overcome my fears - but I should at least not be their prisoner.

My sword and my shield has been preparations (or should have been) - and setting a meeting. I ALWAYS chicken out if I decide to just drop by a gallery and see if it could be a good day for establishing contact. Let's face it - I am a coward. But I am a coward who will at least show up if I have an appointment. Besides - most of the time (hmmm?) someone who has agreed to see you will have given you an appointment when it's a good time for them ... and they have chosen to see you. Right?

So what I have done is to make a phone call (after days of just staring at the phone) and say that I'm an artist and that I would like to exhibit in their gallery (doing my best to sound confident) and that I'll be in Stockholm/Copenhagen/Malmö/wherever for some specific days - could we arrange a meeting? (note: I've never really done this in my own city)

Responses have been from worse to best:
  • hahaha. I do not know who you are (little girl) and what art you make - but I can tell you directly that no way you can make it into my gallery or any good gallery in Malmö. Not a chance! (man in his fifties)
  • did you study at XX or XX? No? Not interested. (many galleries!)
  • we do not work like that (instead: recommendations/want to "discover" artists by themselves)
  • I have hundreds of artists contacting me every week ...
  • We are working with too many artists as it is (I convinced one of these to meet me anyway by joking and insisting. I got a separate exhibit the very next autumn)
  • send me a link to your website and we'll see.
  • Yes, you are welcome - I always want to see new art.

It is good that I will get up after getting hit. Ok - I might have gotten exhibits in galleries by first giving a phone call and then meeting in person ... but I have had more unpleasant experiences as well.
  • I have come to appointments to just discover that the gallery owner is not there - even though we had decided to meet. (several times)
  • I have come to a gallery to discover that it was WAY out of my league (didn't do enough research...) The guy felt very sorry for me and tried to give me some addresses to galleries where it could be better to start out.
  • I have come to galleries to discover that I didn't think it was good enough (didn't do enough research...)
  • I got really good contact with one of the owners at a gallery (this was in Copenhagen) - and she wanted to give me a separate exhibition the very next year. She said she rarely felt this sure intermediately. But we just needed to confirm with her ex-husband who she ran the gallery with. He showed up very drunk, patronising me and telling me in detail why my paintings weren't good enough. He could be kind and let me hang a small print in a dark corner at their Christmas group exhibition. (He thought I was 20 years old - not 33. Not good excuse, though). Need I say I didn't want to exhibit there? Later I found out he was a painter himself ... and in my eyes not even mediocre.

Nowaday you could say I'm an experienced Dragon fighter. (But I haven't faced the big dragons yet.) I say no to exhibit in some galleries where I've exhibited before because I want something better. And I can give some advice:

  1. Research the gallery: who are exhibiting there? What are their background? Do your art fit in there (pointless to contact a photo gallery if you just make sculptures). Do you think the art is good?
  2. preferably have a good website with recent material or good digital photos to send in e-mail (3 photos is my lucky number) if that's what they want to see.
  3. Call first. Sound confident - say you will be around for another reason.
  4. Come with good photos/portfolio, CV.(will also make you feel better). Remember that they might want to keep the material so prepare several sets if you plan to visit many galleries.
  5. Listen. Ask questions about the gallery, the present exhibition etc. But do not suck up.
  6. Do not take it personally. There must be another reason for their bad behaviour (they probably envy your talent and good looks! Or suffer from haemorrhoids or a bad childhood.)
But so far I haven't really tried to get to the very best galleries (except for once, by mistake). I do not say that what I have done so far has been wrong. No. It has been part of my journey. I needed to make mistakes, to improve in my art, to get the time to know myself better and to learn to take drawbacks. I have now come to a point where I feel confident with my art - and I have decided that "I didn't really try" should NOT be my excuse looking back at my life.

Some people might think about me now: Does she really think she is that good?

My answer is: There are so many others who try to convince you that you are not good enough. If I don't believe in myself - what is the point?

The walk of a thousand miles starts beneath your feet. How I plan to start that walk towards the very best GALLERIES I'll share with you next Sunday...

read next post >>

Friday, September 11, 2009

testing ideas

which way to go?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This is the pink painting that got pale in comparison to the runner beans the other day. I call it Hollywood - approx size is 60 x 90 cm. But I'm not sure that it is ready yet...

On Saturday opens an exhibition at Konstlitografiska Museet in Tidaholm with fine art prints of some of the members at Grafik i Väst. I'm participating with my Superhero screenprints.

I almost forgot: Grafik i Väst has nowadays also a blog (in Swedish only).

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

2 x Mickey

I'm sketching on ideas for a screenprinting session in two weeks. My 4 year old son liked the top one so much that he wanted to buy it. He went directly to his piggy bank (he was actually saving for a water gun .. but said he would rather buy my drawing) and got me a handful of coins. Which one do you prefer?

Amy Casey makes paintings.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

pink beans

I thought I had painted a very pinkish background on one of my paintings - until I saw these beans. First I tried to post a photo of the painting here as well ... but it got so pale in comparison that I'll leave it for another day. The painting was no competition for the beans!

Monday, September 07, 2009

happy Monday!

Marie-Louise and Fideli opened their joint exhibition at Galleri Sjöhästen last Saturday.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Art as Business: Galleries I

This has been the hardest post for me to write in my series Art as Business.
galleries - where to start?

Should it be about galleries in relation to making a living as an artist?
Should it be about hypocrisy and the real rules of the game?
Should it be about the difference between galleries and GALLERIES?
Should it be about how hard it is to establish contact with galleries?

I’ve written four totally different texts about galleries … and none has felt like the right one to start with. Then I raised my gaze. “Start where you are” it says on the window glass above my computer screen. And that’s what I will do – I will start with myself.

Very important background knowledge: There are two, no maybe you would say three, Art Schools in Sweden that really count when it comes to GALLERIES. I have not studied at any of these Art Schools.

So I didn’t get that ticket, the VIP-card that opens doors. I have instead tried to go for the middle galleries – the best way to start I thought: working your way up. I then realized that those who exhibit at these galleries never seem to move up a league. Or that the ones in the top league never seem to have played in the lower leagues. Why? The reason could be that the latter will not put that part of the history in their CV – or it could be that it is very very rare to move up a notch. I’ll be back to this interesting subject – but for now I will stick to my own story … so far.

my exhibition in Kungsbacka last year was thanks to an invitation

I’ve had 9 separate exhibitions in galleries without really having continuously followed any strategies or set any goals but “preferably two separate exhibitions a year”. In art school no one ever talked about how to make a living as an artist or how to get exhibitions. So surprisingly I’m not the only one who has had to learn by doing. People ask me often how I do to get exhibitions in galleries – and very often the ones asking are artists themselves. Its’ like they want to know how others do it – could there be a better way?

My ways have been:
  1. Through art school – after graduating (1 separate exhibition)
  2. Artist colleague’s invitation (1 separate exhibition)
  3. I joined 2 artists’ organizations with galleries and applied in written form to exhibit. A good way to get your first exhibitions. (2 separate exhibitions)
  4. I made sure to have a good website and to be present on internet through the artists’ organizations (2 galleries found me this way – one separate and one group exhibition)
  5. Invited to exhibit thanks to networking by volunteering in artists organizations (1 separate exhibition + 1 up-coming separate exhibition)
  6. Written applications to galleries run by an organization/board (1 exhibition up-coming)
  7. Personal meeting – that is: presenting myself at galleries (3 separate exhibitions and one group exhibition in a good gallery)

The two last ways are the ones you would like to know more about, right?

Let’s start with the written application – the less scary one. So far I've only gotten one exhibition this way - but I've also gotten "positive" rejections. That is personal (handwritten) replies explaining why I didn't fit into their program this year - and that they would encourage me to apply again. The written application I haven’t done enough considering I don’t find it that hard. I’ve actually just started doing it properly. The key words here are research and preparation.

  • What you need to do is to find out about art galleries run by municipals/cultural institutions or by some kind of organizations. This means they will have meetings going through applications and that they do not want any personal contact (thank God!). A good way to find these are to look at other artists CV:s and google the galleries. (It’s not always obvious through the names of the galleries.) Or you could in Swedish google “konsthall”.
  • Then you have to check what artists they are exhibiting (do I want to exhibit in this context? Is it in my league – or am I trying to exhibit next to Damien Hirst?) – and very often contact them to obtain details about deadlines etc. They will most of the time not put that information on their websites. And very often you will only find out that it is possible to apply for exhibitions if you ask directly. (some of them are by invitation only)
  • They want a well-written artist statement, an exhibition idea, good reviews from earlier exhibitions, a (long) CV and visual physical materials (not just referring to a website). The visual materials could be big paper photos – but I’ve recently learned that a printed portfolio normally does the trick better. (I’ve asked). You have to IMPRESS. And good packing helps.
my portfolio

But these galleries get hundreds and hundreds of applications so you have to apply to many - and that you are being rejected could be just because you didn’t fit into the theme of the year – or that they had had too many other minimalistic mime artists exhibiting the last years…

What about the other kind of galleries, the more commercial ones? Ah – the DRAGONS!

Join me next Sunday to find out about galleries, my fears and how I am learning to Face my Dragons! (It will be an adventure - exciting and ... a bit scary)

Friday, September 04, 2009

have a nice weekend!

Last weekend we went to the forest and picked mushrooms. It was like therapy ... I thought of nothing but mushrooms for 3 hours. Sometimes we all need an escape.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Disney Time

In the middle of June I gave myself the task to paint 10 new paintings until the 1st of September. But I must admit I didn't make it. I've got 3 finished paintings and 4 half-finished. My paintings need time - though I try to make them look effortless.

Anyway - this is Disney Time! Watercolour and acrylics on paper. Size 89 x 112 cm (approx 35 x 43 inches).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

first brush strokes

Today was the first time painting in my new studio. To not feel inhibited I chose to continue on a painting that's not really working. That way anything would be an improvement.

Maurizio Pellegrin through dear ada