How NOT to do a demo!

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

My first demo @ the Sunland Art Gallery, August 2016

I have to say first off that doing the demo was a wonderful learning  experience.I’m glad I did it and I will certainly do more of them! However, I set myself up to not have the best experience, so here are four points I’ve learned not to do, especially when starting out.  Remember, this was my first demo.

  1. Don’t expect it will go perfectly or even turn out well because you’ve done the image before.
    Of course this is a death knell for any painting whether in a demo or not. If I think/hope ahead of time that  it’ll turn out great, or even good, well….you can guess what happens!
  2. Don’t watch a painting video beforehand and decide on a whim to try a technique on this image you haven’t used in previous attempts.
    Yes, you would think this would be a “nobrainer”.  Yes, on a whim I tried wet in wet fur before the eyes were dry. On a quite vertical slant.   ‘Nuff said on that.
  3. Don’t work on something that inherently needs to turn out a certain way (like a portrait).  Instead play with something like wet in wet landscape or image that you can play and explore as you go.
  4. Don’t use a set up you aren’t as familiar with.
    Case in point:  I normally paint on a counter high bureau with a 1″ thick piece of wood on top to make it wider but it doesn’t have depth.  It’s flat and I sometimes prop up my board on something, but the angle varies.  Because the gallery isn’t huge, I wanted to keep compact and I thought I’d use my plein air easel (which even though I went out weekly with before it got beastly hot, I’m still not thoroughly used to or pleased with).  Well, again, seems like a no brainer to not deviate from the familiar!

    rcdemo2_SAG

    Demo 2 after adjusting for height and angle.


    My main complaint on the easel is that the palette in front keeps me at a distance from the paper and so I tend to have it be at an almost vertical angle to compensate  If I lay it down flatter,  then I need to lower the tripod which of course I did in the middle of the demo with help from several artists.  again, not optimal for paint drying/running/ etc. while the leg heeight was being adjusted.   Do you get the picture? LOL

 

So I do have five things TO recommend:

  1. Start out small, as I did, with people gradually coming by, or not.  During my demo we had about 13 people drop by and stay for various times. Don’t start out with a demo for 30 artists with a screen projecting your every move. I eventually do want to feel comfortable doing that but I’m glad it wasn’t my first experience.
  2. Bring along several prepared sheets to keep you from overworking a piece without letting it dry appropriately.  In this way you can work on another version or a different piece entirely.  OR bring a hairdryer, if you’re used to using that…see #4 above.  I rarely use a hairdryer.
  3. Don’t feel you have to rush.  I felt I had to jump right in and balance the questions I got while painting.  That is something you have to handle, for sure, but I could have taken my time.
  4. Find someone you can relate to.  I enjoyed meeting and talking to everyone, but the best time I had was explaining my steps and why to a  10 yr old boy who liked to paint.
  5. Find something fun in what you’re doing.  Even though the pink of Charley’s tongue ran all over his muzzle in demo 1 below, I had a thrill of excitement when the blues and the oranges mingled so beautifully above the right eye.

So here were the demos as I left the gallery.

On both the white sparkle in the eyes was masked out so that the white paper would show when the masking rubber fluid was removed.  Not sure if I will work on these more, there are some good points in each, but time will tell.   It’s sad to see the tongue bleed on the left, but a lot could be fixable.  After several days I find them more acceptable.  which do you like better?

So thanks for reading through my extra long post.  I hope my tips will help you in your first demo!

Oh yes, and if you’d like to see the beautiful award winners from the My Masterpiece show, go to the Sunland Art Gallery FB page.

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17 thoughts on “How NOT to do a demo!

  1. Rachel, you are very brave to do a public demo in the first place. Then to write about the problems and pitfalls was extra courageous! At least you have a sense of humor about it all and know that it will go better the next time, with these lessons you’ve learned. Kudos to you.
    BJM

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    • Barbara, thanks SO much for writing…I know you’re quite busy now. I felt it was a teachable moment to share some tips. It will make me think twice before asking a question of a teacher during their demo at workshops! You’ll have to hold me to that!

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  2. Well done! You’re very brave – I don’t even like my other half being in the same room if I’m painting 🙂 I’ve been to a few demos now of people whose work I drool over and actually when mistakes happen or it doesn’t turn out perfect it’s good because I can see that they struggle with the same issues as me and it’s not that everything they touch automatically is brilliant. They just only show the best pictures in their books! It’s also good to see how people incorporate or fix things when it starts to awry.

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    • Thank you Nicola! I feel the same way about watching demos and seeing how the artists fix it. I think I’ve gotten used to people being around somewhat from doing plein air work. In particular one time lots of people were walking on the path where I was painting and it was neat to see their reactions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your first demo! What a challenge, and you mastered it! Thanks for the tips, I think they are good not for only demo-making. And, last but not least: I like the right one, the looser one better. Only because I like that loose watercolour style. But actually they´re both adorable!

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  4. Pingback: Second try — way better! | Rachel Murphree Watercolors

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