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What I learned from doing Open Studios

There was so much to learn from doing open studios. 

I participated in two this year, the Portland Open Studios, which is a juried event, and the Washington County Open Studios .

They both had fees to participate and these are the catalogs.

The PDXOS had two meetings in May and August, and the WCOS had one. This was a chance to meet with other artists, pass out the street signs (used to tell people where we were),

familiarize us with their program and talk to us about marketing.

Along with over a hundred other artists, I had my home studio open the 2nd and 3rd weekends in October.

To begin with, I used Evernote to list off the things I needed: set-up in the basement, what I ordered (envelopes, post cards, calendars, etc.), points from other artists, etc..

There were many mentions from the organizers and fellow artists on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and I ordered post cards to tell about the studio tour.

The main reason for the studios visits is to educate the visitors on what goes on in the artists studio, so I took them on a tour of mine, starting with my still life cupboard and still life set-up.

Since I had to learn with my other hand since my stroke, I showed them how I start my studio time with quick drawings of lines, circles, anything around my studio, and life drawing from YouTube. (Really, I should have been doing this all along…it is important for me to draw!)

Then I would show them my painting process….the picture of the black and white value, setting up the halfway points, value, color, etc.. Because I have a hard time talking (because of my stroke), I typed out signs of each display I wanted to mention and put it beneath my work. Although the visitors thought it was for them, it really was for me. 🙂 I would get stuck trying to say a certain sentence and then I would glance at the typed words and be okay!  (Does this make sense????)

Finally, I would show them on my computer the image I was painting and how I like to paint upside down.

In my very limited experience, most people don’t ask questions or they don’t know what to ask. Hopefully, I gave them enough of my process and that will lead to questions.

Although the main reason for the open studios was to teach my process,  I decided to have something that everyone could afford to buy, so I had note cards and calendars. 

The calendars were fun because because I decided to do flowers, which led to a post on Facebook. I asked people for their flower suggestions and I got several submissions and then I could follow up with what I was doing.

A proud moment: the 4’x 8′ peg board we got at the 

hardware store to hang the calendar paintings fit PERFECTLY along our wall!

It was tiring, but I loved it. I met a lot of new people, had friends 

come over, and I got many new commission 

requests and class sign ups.

(About 40% were friends and 60% were new people.)

Here is an excellent checklist on open studios from Harriete Estel Berman who goes into much more detail than I. if you are interested.

Listening to while I paint:


Assassination Vacation, by Sarah Vowell, narrated by Sarah Vowell

Podcasts:  American’s Test Kitchen, hosted by Christopher Kimball Online Marketing Made Easy, hosted by Amy Porterfield

Beyond the To-Do List, hosted by Erik Fisher

Artists Helping Artists, hosted by Leslie Saeta

Social Media Examiner, hosted by Michael Stelzner “Wait, Wait…. Don’t Tell Me!”, hosted by Peter Sagal Splendid Table, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Truth For Life, hosted by Alistair Begg

Music: My iPod What I am reading: The Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert Really helpful:

I am continually checking a dictionary, thesaurus, spell check, but one thing that has been particularly helpful is the grammar check. Please excuse any errors that I make and tell me! 🙂


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