This week I had the opportunity for some mentorship from Andrew Sookrah, an amazing artist in Toronto and an accomplished fine art teacher as well. I think I learned more from him in 45 minutes then I’ve learned anywhere in a long time. We also found a lot of connections and seem to be walking the same artistic path – albeit, he’s way ahead of me!
If you’re an artist reading this, keep reading and I’ll share some of Andrew’s tips. For everyone else (and artists, too!): I’d love to hear your feedback on my revamped website. Were you expecting something that isn’t there? Was the layout generally what you want to see in a professional website? This is all new territory for me, so I greatly appreciate any input and constructive feedback!
Andrew’s Input for Websites
Andrew’s goal was to help to move my art website to a more professional level. He had a few thoughts that I hope you can use, too:
- Decide what you’re best at as a whole, and only show that on your professional site. Move the rest over to blogs, social media, etc. For me, that led into a conversation about how I enjoy painting still life (to learn), portraits (because I love painting people!), plein air landscapes (for the fun and quick challenge), and studio landscapes – for the finish and internalizing what I learned from plein air. Eventually we settled on the plein airs and studio landscapes as showing a volume of work and a cohesive collection.
- Pay attention to your photographs. I thought I was good at this, but I’ll share some embarrassing no-nos that were actually up on my website below. Andrew was kind about it, but bottom line: you can’t have a professional image and be sloppy in photography.
- Have a really compelling bio. When I described my art history in my own words, and spoke about my passion for painting and what drives me, he said, “Use that!”. I was tempted to come up with deep psychology and some sort of Freudian analysis of my artistic purpose – ha ha. Don’t go there.
Andrew’s Approved Photography Method: Put your work on an easel outside on a bright overcast day. Take a photograph with a very good camera. Then use Photoshop to crop it (remove all mats/frames), and a filter to bring the colour back up. The light almost always washes it out a bit. Or get a professional photographer to do this and pay an arm and a leg. 🙂
Christy’s Addition to the Above: I use a free Mac app called Fotor for all my cropping/colour adjusting. It’s simple and intuitive.
Embarrassing Photography No-Nos
- The mat on the waterfall obviously has to be removed, and the painting re-photographed. I must have popped this up as a place-holder and forgotten I’d done that! No place-holders again.
- The light is catching the brushstrokes above Monet’s head. Photograph on an overcast day to eliminate this. My apologies to John Singer Sargent. 🙂
- Same with the pond: the upper left corner is reflecting light and washing out the painting.
I’ve always fought against the idea of an artist having a “cohesive body of work” (my students have heard me rant about this!), but I’m starting to get it. In a future post I’ll dig into why that’s helpful for viewers and potential collectors. Stay tuned!
And huge thanks to Andrew for sharing his wealth of knowledge. Do take a moment to check out his website, especially his landscapes from his recent travels. I’m in awe.
PS – The Featured Image is “Tucked In“, which I completed on Sunday afternoon after a fun morning painting outside with artists in Elora, Ontario. Fall is around the corner and plein air workshops are set up. Shoot me an email if you want to come out and celebrate nature in paint!