The sandbox is for random thoughts about art, marketing, communications and design...
by Linda Shepard
Artists’ pastels are similar to colored chalk because they are a dry medium, but that’s where the similarities end. Pastels are pure pigment sticks (the same pigments used in oil and acrylic paints) with a small amount of gum binder. Colored chalk is a limestone substance impregnated with dyes. Pastel artwork doesn’t rely on liquid binders that can sometimes cause other media to age/discolor, so it retains its brilliance over time.
Pastel paintings will smear when touched, so it’s important to carefully handle an unframed original as little as possible. Try to hold it by the edges. And getting the surface wet will destroy it, so be careful with it until it’s framed. No amount of fixative will make your artwork safe to touch. Fixatives are often used by pastel artists to roughen-up thick layers of color in order to be able to keep adding more color. Few artists use a final fixative as it can darken the colors and introduce weird spray/splatter patterns in the artwork.
Pastels need to be framed under glass (or glazing as framers call it). You can lay the glass directly on top of the painting, or you can use 1/16” plastic spacers. These spacers are adhesive-backed and are applied to the inside perimeter of the glass. They can be trimmed with ordinary kitchen scissors and sit directly on top of the artwork. They are hidden beneath the inner lip of the frame. Using a matte is another option if you don’t want the glass to touch the surface of the pastel.
Don’t skimp on the glass! When framing, sometimes the glazing (glass) will be one of the biggest expenses, but it’s well worth it to choose the best. Beware of ordering less-expensive non-glare (frosted) finishes that can dull and blur your artwork. Museum-quality “Tru Vue Optium” plexiglass is top of the line. It has been treated to eliminate static electricity and it’s hard to tell it’s even in the frame. Static in regular plexiglass will displace pigment particles and cling to the inner surface making your artwork look dusty.
You may be able to save money by ordering your frames online from sites like webpictureframes.com. This site offers packages of everything you need and it is very straightfoward to DIY once you receive the shipment.
by Linda Shepard
I'm an art collector. And I prefer to purchase unframed original pastel paintings. Here's why:
I am a pastel artist and need to figure out an affordable way to present and protect my work. I've picked up some tips from other artists along the way. The artwork I frame in the video below is 16x12". The supplies I used can be purchased online for a total of $54.70, not including shipping.
Glazing is simply the glass/acrylic plexiglass inside the frame. There are many different options to choose from in both glass and acrylic. Glass is much cheaper and heavier than acrylic. And like acrylic it comes in plain old clear, non-glare, UV protected, anti-reflective, and virtually-invisible museum options. Glass could be a smart option if the artwork isn't going to be shipped and weight is not an issue. It's less prone to scratching and static than acrylic, but it can shatter. Due to its fragile nature, many online sellers will only ship acrylic.
It's rough travelling the country in a brown cardboard box. Protecting artwork from the hazards inherent to the shipping process is an artform within itself. Purchasing specialty packaging designed for artwork can be nearly as expensive as the artwork itself.
Anyway, here's the top secret method for making inexpensive "floats" that actually work and cost no more than the shipping cartons you put your paintings in.
Because the cradle fits exactly to the edges of your box, there is absolutely no room for movement within. Your paintings are riding on air and as you can see, when you remove them from the box, they still have that protective surrounding edge that prevents frame corner damage.
You can put 3-4 paintings (or more) in a single box, depending upon the height of the box. Lots of bubble wrap top and bottom makes it just about bullet proof.
Special thanks to Steve Hill for providing the information for this article. Visit his website here.
by Linda Shepard
FedEx, UPS, Amazon, and the US Postal service work for fee—not free. According to statista.com, Amazon paid $37.9 billion in shipping expenses in 2019, a $10 billion increase from the previous year. These costs include sorting, transportation, and outbound delivery, including third-party carriers.
Business Insider estimates that the $119 cost of an annual Amazon Prime membership is actually worth around $785. So how is it possible to be profitable and offer free shipping? When Googling "free shipping effect on sales," you'll come upon countless articles and research leading to the conclusion that free shipping leads to increased sales. In addition, many online shoppers have come to expect free shipping.
"Free shipping" could lead to hidden charges that may or may not work to an individual consumer's advantage. When launching ownsomeart.com, we were advised to increase the price of artwork to cover the worst-case-scenario shipping expense. This could totally work! Customers would be happy by not dealing with those extra charges during checkout; and Artists could stay in business by preventing shipping expenses from draining their income. And here's the big BUT... shipping artwork is not like shipping other stuff.
Artwork is rarely something that will fit in an average, everyday, run-of-the-mill shipping box. Often times it's oversized or awkward with a lot of surface area compared to its weight. Shipping artwork is often charged by dimensional, or DIM weight. DIM weight is the amount of physical space the package occupies in relation to its actual weight. To arrive at a DIM weight for one of the 24" square paintings on this site, calculate the cubic inches of it's 30x6x30"= 5,400". Then divide by the carrier's rate divisor, 166 (UPS) to arrive at a DIM weight of 32.5 pounds, What that means is that the package is priced as if it weighs 32.5 pounds instead of its actual weight of 10 pounds. Different carriers may also charge an additional flat "oversize" charge when the dimensions exceed certain limits.
Our website is integrated with the United States Post office and UPS to calculate the actual cost of getting artwork from our home base in central Ohio to wherever our customer calls home. This allows us to skip the "inflate the purchase price by a hypothetical shipping expense" step. Customers are smart enough to know shipping isn't ever really free.
Let's face it, plein air painting is a pain in the butt. You have to schlep your materials on foot for what can be long stretches of uneven terrain. There may not be a bathroom. You can get rained on or sunburned. Wind can topple your easel and break your pastels. Curious bystanders may disturb you... So why do it? I've often wondered this myself and I think I'm beginning to understand. I just don't feel the same way about a scene when looking at it in a photo as I did when I was there. Painting in plein air helps capture the feeling of being there. The human eye can see much more detail than can be captured in a typical photo, especially in low light and shadow areas. Plein air also requires you to work quickly, which I find helps me be more spontaneous and expressive in my work. When you're out in the field, you can use a viewfinder to quickly find your composition and expedite your sketch process. Dakota pastels sells a nice one. Always take photos to help remind you of the scene if you want to keep working on it in the studio. Video can be helpful to see the movement pattern of water.
I'm a self-taught pastel artist. What I mean by that is that we didn't use pastels in college. I started using them with techniques I picked up in books, magazines and YouTube. That said, it was a real treat to get to work alongside Steve Hill, a master pastellist in northern Washington State. Here's clip from Day three of the workshop:
Mount Baker: the completed demo painting.
Here's a little practice painting I did a couple of weeks after the workshop.
Below are my take-aways from the workshop experience:
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