Preparing for an Open Art Studio!

Flyer for Needham Open Studios.
My artwork was chosen for the advertising!

It is always a lot more preparation than I expect! Showing my watercolors to their best takes time, so I try not to leave everything to the last minute!
Here’s my bullet list:

  • Order new business cards if outdated (mine were) from, delivery in less than 7 days!
  • Update Artist’s Statement, or write one if you dont have one!
  • Update Bio and make copies for putting on the back of the artwork for sale. I include contact information and website.
  • if  your “Open Studios” have a website, send all photos and bio etc. in a timely manner.
  • Order acetate crystal clear bags for matted artwork from The unframed items are easy to store/transport and browse if protected.
  • Finish framing artwork and buy the cardboard corners to protect from scratches in storage or transportation.
  • Inventory all artwork for display and make sure everything has a price tag! Try to start this as early as possible!
  • Create a yard sign advertising the event 3-4 weeks ahead of time. Hand out brochures and flyers about the event.
  • Purchase fold-able tables for display and ease of transport.
  • Be sure you have enough display bins, racks, easels, business card holders and clean table cloths. If you have the room, set up a dummy table to plan your sales lay-out.
  • Design your own or purchase a hanging system for your booth/sales area. Hooks and fishing line work in a pinch, not a problem if indoors, but outside this maybe be too unstable in the wind. Keep it simple and lightweight! If you can, borrow a display system to see if you like the whole Open Studio scene before investing first!
  • Create little signs for beside your artwork showing medium, size and price.
  • Plan for a small area where you can demo what you do best! Obviously, all equipment needed for demo or a step-by-step example of how you do what you do! “Open studio” usually means the visitors want to know about the artist, they are not just buying from a store!
  • Small change/cash, calculator for sales tax, sales receipt book, cash box or cash belt with pouch. I find the pouch the easiest-as the cash box can “go walkies” if you get distracted. Push-pins, tape, hooks, price stickers, scissors, pens/pencils, wrapping material, gift bags and your name button!
  • Offer a door-prize, drawing or other small incentive, so email addresses can be collected!
  • If you offer classes, have a sign-up sheet ready to jot down their contact information.
  • Enlist a friend to help with set-up and take-down,  sales help for bathroom breaks and bringing you food/drink as needed!

How I created “Fragment of a Dream” Watercolor painting.

“Fragment of a Dream” by Sally Meding

My process is a layered approach based on the elements and principles of design.

I am driven by color and knew ahead of time that I wanted a focal area of hot bright color surrounded by neutralized cool color. (Complementary colors, reds and oranges against greyed blues, blue-greens and blue-violets)
  • I choose my value scheme.
  • Draw in the structure with pencil, (vertical strata with a low horizon) to which I overlay a smaller curvilinear “cloud-shaped” abstract layer.
  • Lay in juicy cooler colors (wet-in-wet) in patches avoiding the focal area and added salt, spatter and cling-film for texture. This is the spontaneous layer and I let the paint do its thing! I let it dry overnight.
  • Finally, I paint each shape with a graded wash while playing the “game of contrasts” (A phase coined by Jane E. Jones). That is light shape is placed next to a darker shape, or a brighter color against a duller or warm color against a cooler one while simultaneously thinking about my underlying structures.
  • I often emphasize certain areas with lift-outs, in this case, I wanted it to feel more dreamy so very small squares (mimicking stars) were lifted in the periphery that mirrored those in the focal area. (They are hard to see in this image).

I won 3rd place! Prudential Juried Spring Show, Needham, MA

Sun Goddess by Sally Meding Watercolor 30×22″

3rd Prize,  Juror, Roger Hankins wrote some very nice comments about my watercolor:

Wonderful watercolor painting, a very playful and buoyant image. The blending of realism and more geometric pattern and abstraction was nicely subtle but still quite apparent. The “designs” seemed to be almost reflections on one hand and on the other, a part of the plant, which made for a lot of pleasure to look at. The combination of dry brush and wet-on-wet pigment had a light touch which rarely became cloudy or murky, a skillful thing to pull off. I also like the boldness of the scale of the watercolor painting, having it that large really allowed the artist to show off their skill at handling the media. Well done!”

The exhibition is through April 30th,
prudential Advantage Real Estate, 1089 Great Plain Av,
Needham, MA

Watercolor study: Comparing Several Similar Hues

Color glazing grid with lift out ability (oak leaf)

Exploring new watercolors (from Daniel Smith Primatek line) for my palette that lift off the paper easily.
Especially…I wanted to compare Primatek Rhodonite (Daniel Smith) with permanent rose (Daniel Smith) and Primatek Diopside (Daniel Smith) with Thalo Green and Ultramarine turquoise (DS)

Order of colors in grid
1. Lemon Yellow (Holbein)
2. New Gamboge (WinsorNewton)
3. Winsor Orange
4.  Perinione Orange (MaimeriBlu)
5. Pyrrol Orange (Daniel Smith)
6. Rhodonite (Daniel Smith)
7. Perm Rose (Daniel Smith)
8. Ultramarine Turquoise (Daniel Smith
9. Thalo Green (Da Vinci)
10.Winsor Blue

Method: each of the colors studied were glazed one column at a time, first vertically then repeated horizontally. The squares with the oak leaf represent 2 glazes of the same color and the oak leaf is a lift out with pure water and a soft toothbrush scrubbed for 7 secs and blotted with paper towel.

What I learned from this study
(DS)=Daniel Smith

1.  Rhodonite (DS) is cooler (leaning to the blue) than Permanent Rose, but still fairly similar in hue. I wouldn’t have both on my palette.
2.  Rhodonite (DS) lifts more easily, leaving a whiter paper (Oak leaf) when scrubbed a toothbrush and water and is clearly much less staining than permanent rose. Perfect for me!
3.  Although Rhodonite (DS) is a mineral pigment ground from rocks, its concentration in the binder was good and laid down nicely. It did appear to granulate just a little on my Jack Richardson cold press paper)
4. Diopside watercolor is much more yellow than I had hoped. It is not a substitute for Thalo green (or even Thalo green -yellow shadeYS). However, it did lift better than the thalo green.
5. I think diopside would be perfect for exploring beautiful glowing rich greens…..subject of another study! It may have a place on my palette yet!
5.  I had already been substituting Ultramarine turquoise (DS) for thalo green and quite like this because the color is not so intense/concentrated. Staining thalo green can dominate a mix very quickly! Ultramarine Turquoise contains less thalo green and a little thalo blue and is wonderful for mixing rich deep darks and luminous greys.