What stories define you as an artist, and how could they inspire you to move forward?
“Satumaa” is a Finnish word that’s something like “fairytale land.” This painting is only 15 x 15 cm!
I call these miniature pieces attic paintings. Here’s the story behind them.
When I was a child, I dreamed about running a shop. My main interest there was in product development. I wanted to design things and offer an attractive selection. We lived in a wooden house with a big attic, and I established my shop there. It was called “Päivin puikko” – Päivi’s Needle and had a modest selection of hand-crocheted things.
I remember the joyful sound of footsteps on the staircase when my two sisters came to visit. They were a lot older than me and had coins with them too. When they admired the little handmade items on the table, the feeling of acceptance ran through me. One sister grabbed a long chain and asked how much it was. “Twenty pennies,” I said. “But this is so long,” said the sister, ” you worked hard for it, I give you fifty.” Sold!
Stories That Define Us
The stories where we experience big feelings define us. I realized that when I tried to figure out how much I have to raise the prices of my paintings. It was necessary as I have grown as an artist, and the general prices have come up too. But a little child in me said: “Don’t!”
“Why,” I asked.
“Because your paintings are already too expensive for my shop in the attic,” she whispered.
And yes, I couldn’t imagine selling my big paintings in that little corner. Yet, I wanted to have something for her too.
“Here’s what we do,” I said to the child. “I will raise the prices, but I will paint some small studies for you, only 150 EUR each.”
And that’s how these miniature paintings were born.
I call these attic paintings. The size is only 15 x 15 cm, and they are born from left-over paints. They are the same high-quality oil paints that I use for bigger pieces, but I often have leftovers on the palette after a painting session.
I am now much more comfortable with the higher prices when I have something for the attic – and for gift shops too!
The English word for “Valkovuokko” is “wood anemone.”
“Mansikkapaikka” is “a strawberry place” in English. I was thinking about wild strawberries here.
I like to paint sceneries that are overly romantic and full of fantasy.
Satumaa was inspired by an older painting called “Luvattu maa – Promised Land.”
Promised Land was so much fun to paint that I wanted to repeat the idea of using a limited selection of shapes and expressing plants traveling toward the light.
Attic Paintings – Expansion of Style and Love for Plants
I placed “Mercury Temperatures” with the attic paintings to see how the small ones go with the bigger ones.
My love for plants and yearning for nostalgia and fantasy are well presented in both, I think!
My husband and I are enthusiastic about plants, especially decorative ones. Our home is like a flower shop now when I have got some bouquets for my birthday and when orchids are blooming.
When I think about the shop in the attic, I wonder how I could not see its influence earlier. The stories that define us can prevent us from growing. But the stories can also be the key to solutions that enable growth and change.
Black Friday course sales event organized by me on this website!
For me, this is a lot! Fortunately, I have had time to prepare. For example, I got the deadline for the suggestions for the curated group show on Sept 1st. I was then able to apply and have new work specifically painted for the gallery.
Of these four, I am most anxious about the 2-day Christmas sales event even if it’s the smallest one! I have a sales table there, and I haven’t been preparing one for ages. I enjoy selling face-to-face, so it’s also something that I look forward to. It’s also great to see all kinds of sales items on one table and make a nice selection.
Selecting Sales Items – Delivering the Experience of an Original
Even the smallest sales table is a chance to strengthen your artistic voice and communicate your art brand. Most customers may buy postcards and other affordable items only, but still – we want to give them the whole experience. People have come back to me saying: “I remember you. I bought one card from you a couple of years ago, and I look at it every day.” I like to think that with the card, they also buy a piece of the world I am presenting to them. That’s why I always try to include original art as well.
Here’s one of the small paintings that I just finished. It’s called Samettikukan sointi – The Sound of the Marigold.
The Sound of the Marigold is a sister to a piece that I showed you earlier called Ruusun henki – The Spirit of the Rose. But when I placed the paintings side by side, I wanted to make adjustments to the rose painting so that its’ color scheme is less similar. So here’s the new version of The Spirit of the Rose:
Here are the two versions together so that you can compare the changes.
I am going to have small stands for them so that they will stand out from the rest of the selection.
There are also a couple more small oil paintings. They are still in progress, but I hope to finish them soon so that they have time to dry.
I have noticed that people who don’t regularly go to art events forget the difference between a photo and an actual painting. – like it would be the same browsing the feed or picking a postcard as watching an original.
On my sales table, prints will dominate in quantity. And because most of them are pictures of oil paintings, I also want to deliver the experience of an original oil painting. With the four small ones, I can hopefully present one medium-sized original, maybe Forest of Wishes.
What A Part of Your Audience Expects to See
In my experience, some people are interested in a specific art technique. Previously, when I had the sales table at a similar event, there were some who wanted to talk about watercolor painting and were disappointed that I only had one example or so. These are people who are art hobbyists themselves and who are potential customers for my classes.
I used to paint a lot in watercolor, but lately, not so much because they don’t sell as well as oil paintings and have a low price point. Because I need to make a living and because I enjoy creating big paintings, I have focused on oils. But this time, I thought I would take a bunch of watercolor paintings with me and set the price lower than expected. If I still actively sold watercolor paintings, I wouldn’t do that, but now I see the chance to reach this part of the audience and show my watercolor work.
Because most elements of my style were developed in watercolor first, these pieces fit well with cards that have oil paintings.
These cards came out gorgeous! They have a satin finish and are bigger and thicker than standard postcards. I ordered them as well as the cards from Moo.com (affiliate link, but I would recommend them without one too!)
What to Leave Out
Many times, I have put everything I have on the sales table, and that’s never been a good thing. You might have potential best sellers, but bringing items that don’t make sense to them will ruin the sales. For example, I brought fabrics with my designs and some craft items to an event focused on fine art. And vice versa, I took some original art to a craft show. Yes, you might get some sales from the odd items, but confuse most of the audience.
Price can be a reason to exclude some too. For example, if the organizer takes a percentage of the sales or if the price of the sales table is high, selling the most affordable items doesn’t necessarily make sense. And vice versa: when people come for good finds on their way to the shopping center, selling the biggest and most expensive pieces can be hard.
This painting – Tiger’s Eye – has been waiting to get to a curated exhibition that interests art collectors. Now I am happy to pack it and two other paintings for a big gallery show.
My oil paintings always get a varnish and a hanging wire so that they are ready for hanging on the wall.
In my experience, original art that is ready to hang is more tempting to buy than pieces that require, for example, framing. However, if the price point is very low, it doesn’t always make sense to frame the pieces. Whatever the case, it’s always good to present a unified collection and leave out some that are too different in size, style, or frame than others.
When selecting work for the small postcards, I left out many paintings I like and value. For example, many of my big paintings are not so great for postcards. Their details get lost in the tiny size, and their subject is more suitable for decorating interiors than sending wishes.
And then some paintings are quicker but more suitable; for example, Kukkiva maa – Flowering Earth that I painted in acrylics for the class Floral Freedom.
I think it’s perfect for a postcard – full of colors and flowers!
How You Will Be Remembered
Many times when I have been preparing for the events, my behavior has been on my mind: Am I able to show my enthusiasm? How could I not only make sales but be remembered afterward too?
But the best answer here is quite technical. You should have something to give that has your contact information on it. And all your products should have your name and website – or at least an email – on them. I use the same tactics, the same generosity that is, that I have used with selling online courses. I give something for free and invite people to see if I am suitable for them. On the sales events, I have small cards that have different pictures – details of my art – and I invite people to pick one that they like.
This begins a conversation about their likings about them, and when they have the mini card, I can serve them better and be remembered too.
The postcards also have contact information printed on the back.
There’s also another artwork as a frame.
I think about these features as generosity as well. I have taken the time to design the back to make the cards even more valuable.
Sales Events Are the Opportunity to Test
Even if it’s good to have a unified style and selection, the sales event is also an opportunity to test new ideas and approaches. I like to do tests that are not big new things but hidden in the small stuff. This time, I made a postcard of my colored pencil work to see how many people can recognize the medium and how many are interested in this style of drawing.
This postcard is composed digitally of many colored pencil pieces.
As you know, I am not just an oil painter, but also love colored pencils. It would be fun to talk about them too.
This leads us to my course sales event on Black Friday weekend. All classes will be on sale and registration for the new class Doll World will open. Doll World will begin at the beginning of January.
During the years, I have learned that if I love the class, there’s a possibility that you will love it too. The same goes for all art really. We have to pamper it and give attention to its needs. And when the course or the painting asks: “Will there be anyone for me?” we must say: “Yes, my dear – kyllä kultaseni – sometimes it will just take a little bit of time.” We both feel vulnerable about this.
P.S. The engineer in me says that this is not a comprehensive article about setting a sales table. But I intend to share some pics when I set the actual table on December 3-4 at Galleria K, Vantaa, Finland. So stay tuned for Black Friday sales and future blog posts!
This week I have a consolation post for any artist!
We start from a movie and then let thoughts fly from top to bottom and come back up.
The Movie – The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Just a couple of days ago, I watched an inspiring movie called The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. It’s a story about the illustrator Louis Wain (1860-1939) who got famous for his cat drawings. Louis Wain’s life was full of misery, he was poor, responsible for five unmarried sisters, lost her wife to breast cancer soon after the marriage, made bad business decisions, and suffered grief and mental illness.
And yet, Louis’s cat drawings were fun illustrations full of liveliness and details.
The Two Undertones of Any Day
The movie felt strangely therapeutic. Maybe partly because it expressed so well what I had been thinking lately: how life has both melancholic and uplifting undertones and how important it is to recognize and make room for both of them.
For Louis, life had two separate sides – the harsh reality and the wonderous world of imagination. I think that many of us can relate to that even if in our lives, the melancholic and uplifting undertones would spread more evenly. If I think about my artist life, there have been so many rejections that where I am now is a small miracle. And if I think about the future, more small miracles are needed to move forward.
In the end, you only need to have one person who believes in you as an artist. Many times you can be that person for yourself. Like Louis, the world of imagination has the power to keep the uplifting undertone going.
But for me, there have been times when a small miracle has been needed – that someone else brings me up. When Louis found supporters in the movie, I thought of mine. They are a part of my electrical life story. Who could be yours?
It wasn’t easy to contact any of them – ask, apply, and reach out just after losing the belief and energy, but doing that has pushed me forward. Sometimes they have been friends, but many times strangers who have given me a chance to connect with their audience. In the art world, and especially in the fine art world, people are hesitant to accept outsiders. But once you get one door open, some others will open up too. The number of your supporters will grow step by step.
Opening Up for Small Miracles
In the beginning, art was something I did in secret. If I didn’t believe in my art, I simply stopped creating for a while. But the more I created, the more I wanted to find connections with other people. First with others who create, and then more publicly. After going public, stopping is much harder because you start to see wider: There must be someone who says yes.
I see that the melancholic and uplifting undertones are wrapped around each other like two plies in a yarn. By expressing both of them, not only a person but also her art becomes stronger – more touching and captivating. It’s then easier to make small miracles happen – have positive electricity as Louis Wain would put it.
What do you think? Have you seen the movie?
P.S. If you want to turn back the clock and learn from 6-years-younger Paivi, here’s your chance! Planet Color, is retiring on Sept 30, at midnight PDT.
If you are a beginner in painting and want to use acrylic paints more, for example, in your art journals, check this class! Planet Color is now more than 50% OFF before it goes away! >> Buy here!
This week, I present the main artwork for my solo show in June and talk about the pressure of painting the best work.
This oil painting, “Juhlat Neptunuksessa – Jubilee in Neptune,” is a part of my series Linnunrata – Milky Way, where I explore planets and outer space. (See previous work: Pluto here, the Earth here, Venus here, and the Sun here!)
Painting the Best Work – Feeling the Pressure!
I have had terrible pressure to create my best work for the show. Especially the two big pieces on the back wall needed to reach the next level, not that I was able to define what that would be. So I couldn’t pre-process and plan the paintings in my mind. I had to trust the brush and the intuition and start painting.
This size (about 35,5 x 55 inches) was also new for me, so I felt like being in a new territory. But several smaller paintings of the same series had already been made, so it was a continuum too.
I felt like the painting gently carried me over a mystery of life and took me through the gates that I would not have dared alone. I don’t usually talk about the painting process in this mysterious way, but this time, it all felt pretty magical.
One part of me, the inner engineer, was wiping the sweat from the outside pressure, and the other part of me, the inner artist, couldn’t care less. She was only serving the needs of the painting.
I am very happy about the brush strokes – many of them have been created fast, but they still look pretty flawless.
Creating a Panoramic View
I wanted the two big paintings to be individual in identity but still share some parts when placed side by side. This way, the overall view of the gallery’s back wall could be panoramic.
To achieve this, I needed to finish the pieces so that they were placed side by side.
Whales in a Small Bond
My studio is a small room attached to our home, and the two whales were much too big.
But I managed anyway. In art, I don’t want to live a life where everything needs to be perfect before I can do something. I want to accomplish paintings like this right now and can’t wait for a better situation. And I love our home and working from home, so I just have to make things work. Fortunately, we have quite a lot of wall space in the other parts of the house so that the paintings can dry elsewhere.
Main Promotion Piece for the Show
The new painting is airy, but there are a lot of details too. I am very fond of this piece and feel relieved.