Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Small Business Saturday 11/30

With only a few days until Thanksgiving, we are surrounded by advertisements for Black Friday and holiday shopping. Many of you will be rushing out to take advantage of the annual sales at big retailers. Today, we would like to remind you to save some of your shopping for Small Business Saturday as well. This is a great movement that not only recognizes the unique value of local businesses and artisans but also benefits the community.

Small business owners wear many hats. They are the decision-maker, the chief financial officer, the customer service representative, the human resources coordinator, the courier, the janitor and everything in between. They work with other local businesses and government officials to make sure they are able to grow and to continue offering quality goods. They take pride in the products and services they offer, and they give back to the community. For example, this year Grapes and Gallery has participated in fundraisers for the Lexington Medical Center, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild, as well as several other local church fundraising initiatives.

Small Business Saturday, however, is not only about recognizing the hard work and unique contribution of local companies. These companies have a significant impact on the economy and the environment. A recent article I read by Michael Salguero, CEO and Co-founder of CustomMade.com, detailed the impact of buying local. The image he used to tell his story was so amazing that you should see it yourself (on the right). To summarize, though, compared to big chain stores, small businesses contribute more to the local economy and the environmental impact is much less. 

What does all of this mean? The cost of shopping at a small business can be much less than shopping at a national retailer, especially when you consider the local financial impact and the difference in waste and pollution generated. Support your neighborhood businesses and make a difference in your community.

This year Grapes and Gallery will be participating in Small Business Saturday. We will be open from 9AM to 3PM Saturday 11/30. Everyone is welcome to stop by and shop for the artist in his/her life. We have customizable Christmas stockings, paint, brushes, canvas, and easels in addition to Grapes and Gallery gift certificates, painting packages and shirts. The basement will also be open, and every painting on the wall will be available for purchase. If you feel like painting while you are here, there will also be $20 DYOT (Do Your Own Thing) from 9AM to 1PM as well.

Stop by and join us Saturday to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Paint your day!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Paint YOUR Day!

This week we participated in the 30th anniversary for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM). This organization uses art therapy as one of the methods to help survivors of violence and abuse with the healing process. Many of the guests at the event contributed to a collaborative painting meant to highlight STSM’s use of art therapy. At the end of the evening, there was a completed painting to commemorate the anniversary.

Even though art therapy is a formal mental health profession, I realized that many of the guests that come to Grapes and Gallery comment on the “healing” that they experience during a painting session. For some, painting offers a release from a stressful day. For others, it allows an expression of creativity or feeling that is otherwise not available. More generally, painting provides at least two hours in the day where everyday problems take a backseat.

As the holidays approach, we tend to reflect on what we are thankful for and strive to find peace with who we are as individuals.This can be hard when we are constantly trying to improve. Maybe you’re trying to lose 10 pounds or want to get in better shape. Maybe you have an illness that is weighing on you. Maybe you are scared that someone important to you will not approve of what you are doing. Sometimes our self-doubt, stress, and fear of what others might think gets the best of us and prevents us from celebrating small steps in the right direction, taking pride in ourselves and holding our heads up high with a smile.

Some people come into the Gallery and immediately say that they cannot paint a stick figure. As they get into the session, they doubt every brush stroke and worry what everyone is going to think of the finished painting. They love everyone else’s painting and comment on how dissatisfied they are with their own. When in reality, their paintings might be the best in the room. As people comment on how great the paintings are, the skeptics start to take pride in their creation.

Your ability to paint does not say anything about you as a person. It does not define you, much like your physical appearance or problems do not define you. Just like life, when you step away from a painting and come back to it the next day, you can appreciate the experience and acknowledge that your creation is just as good as anyone else’s. You can celebrate the small successes and be proud of yourself.

When you decide to paint next, don’t focus on what is wrong or what others might think or even of how you might fall short of your own expectations. Have fun with the experience. Enjoy the break from your phone, work, and all of the outside irritants. Celebrate your creation.

This is why we say, “Paint YOUR day!”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Acrylic Paint

Are you inspired? Ready to become the next Picasso? Now that you have the art fever, it’s time to get started. What do you need? At a bare minimum you need canvas, brushes and paint.

If you have ever been to an art supply store, you know that selecting paint can be a challenge. There are 40,000 different types of paint. Well, I am not quite sure how many there are, but the selection is overwhelming. There are tiny tubes of paint that cost a fortune and gallon-sized bottles that have descriptions that leave you wondering whether they are paint at all. Don’t despair. There’s no need to spend a fortune or worry.  

There are three basic categories of paint - acrylic, oil and watercolor. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages; however, acrylic paint is perhaps the most versatile. If you have painted at Grapes and Gallery before, you are already accustomed to using acrylic paint. That is all we use.

Acrylic paint, a synthetic medium, was developed in the 1940s. This fast-drying paint offers many benefits compared to both oils and watercolors for the recreational painter. Additionally, painters are able to achieve the same effects when painting with acrylics as they can when using either watercolors or oils. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the points of differentiation.

#1. Versatility. By starting with acrylic paint, you can produce pieces that are similar to both watercolor and oil paintings. Acrylic paint can be watered down (or applied with a wet brush) to create pieces that exhibit the almost translucent colors of a famous John Singer Sargent watercolor painting.

Alternatively, acrylic paint can be applied in thick coats (with a palette knife for example) to produce impasto pieces that are as good as any van Gogh.

If you don’t recall from our palette knife post, impasto is a technique where paint is applied in a thick coat, producing a textured surface where the brush or palette knife strokes are still visible.

#2. Control. If you are a control-freak, acrylic paints are for you! Acrylic allows you to determine the destiny of your painting. There is nothing that cannot be easily undone or modified. With watercolors, on the other hand, you surrender control to the water. Care must be taken not to dilute the watercolors too much. If you want control, choose acrylic. After all who wants their palm tree to turn into a weeping willow because of runny paint?!

#3. Odor. Oil paints have a strong odor. I don’t know about you, but a noxious smell in the house would put a damper on an afternoon of painting. Acrylic paint has almost no smell.

#4. Dry time. Whoever first used the expression, “it’s like watching paint dry,” was probably looking at an oil painting. Oil paint dries very slowly. If you are used to painting your background, letting the paint dry, and then painting your primary image, oils might prove to be a challenge. In fact, a thick coat of oil paint could take weeks to dry! Acrylic paint dries in a matter of minutes. I like to be able to finish a painting and hang it on my wall immediately.

#5. Color mixing. Acrylic paints are extremely versatile in terms of your ability to mix them. Sometimes you need to mix several colors to produce the exact shade of green as your grandmother’s vase. With acrylics you can either blend paint on the canvas or on your palette. Watercolors, on the other hand, are best blended on the canvas. Eek...back to my control-freak impulses. I want to know the color is perfect before I put it on the canvas.

Hopefully, the great debate between acrylic, oil and watercolors has been resolved for you. Now, what type of acrylic paint do you buy? How much of it do you need? Yikes. Those questions might be the subject of another post. In the meantime, if you need some guidance, you can always ask us.

So the next question on your mind might be, where do you get your art supplies without spending a fortune? You’re in luck! You can now turn to Grapes and Gallery for all of your canvas, brush and paint needs. Contact us for more information.

Paint your day!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wine & Art: A Natural Pairing

At Grapes and Gallery, there is an intersection between wine (Grapes) and art (Gallery). Some people might think that coming to the Gallery is primarily about painting. Others might focus on the wine component of the experience. In reality, this combination is more than a fancy tactic to encourage our guests to relax enough to paint a masterpiece.

Wine and art are natural complements. For starters, people of all experience levels can enjoy both wine and art. Think about how you evaluate the quality of a bottle of wine. Now, think about how you determine if art is good or not. The processes are very similar. Advanced connoisseurs of wine and art will take very different perspectives in evaluating a bottle of wine or a painting than those that are relatively inexperienced.

For example, a sommelier (pronounced som-mel-yeah), trained wine professional, might analyze the quality of a particular wine based on the region, the type of grape, the aroma, the bouquet, the acidity, the body, the taste, etc. Let’s face it, that’s too much for most of us who like to sit down with a good bottle of wine and relax. So how does a novice decide what’s good? Well, for starters, you rely on what you like. If it tastes good, it is good!

As you begin to understand more about wine, your world will be transformed. You will find yourself smelling wines in addition to tasting them, noticing the differences in acidity and body, and refining your idea of what constitutes good wine. Do you have to be a wine snob or receive special training? No. In fact, you can discover wine like a child discovers the world. Try new wines. Step outside of your comfort zone. Read about various wine regions and the characteristics of wine. Pick up Richard Bett’s scratch and sniff book - “The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That.” Have fun!

Evaluating art is very similar. An art critic might focus on the brush strokes of a painting, size of the piece, elements of the composition, color scheme, texture of the surface, context of the objects portrayed, implied meaning, etc. to determine what constitutes good art. However, all of us, even without any exposure to principles of art, know what we like and make judgments based on our preferences.

As you are exposed to more artwork and begin to create your own pieces, your preferences may change. You may appreciate certain techniques more than others, begin to notice subtle differences in paintings, and start to interpret meaning from pieces where you might have only seen something to hang on your wall before. In order to discover art, follow the same advice as with wine. Look at different pieces. Try new paintings of your own. Step outside of your comfort zone. Read about artwork. Have fun. Explore your inner artist!

Now that you know a little bit about why wine and art appreciation might be viewed as very similar interests, let’s address the association most people have between the two. Almost every night at the Gallery someone makes a comment about how having a glass of wine reduces her anxiety related to painting for the first time or how a glass of wine helps her paint. As it turns out, there is actually scientific evidence that supports the claim that wine helps our guests produce masterpieces. Research out of the Psychology department at the University of Chicago at Illinois indicates that alcohol reduces a person’s working memory, aiding the creative process. What does this mean? A glass of wine can help take you out of your normal mental processes and constraints and allow you to express your creativity more fully.

Nowhere can you see this intersection between wine and art play out quite like you can at the Gallery.  Does this mean we prefer you to drink alcohol when you come to our painting sessions? Absolutely not. Do we want you to release the worries of your everyday world and explore your inner artist without worry of criticism? That’s EXACTLY the point.

Paint your day!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Magic Hour - Silhouette Paintings

It was one of those Carolina days when the “magic hour” was absolutely amazing. Magic hour? Yes, magic hour. The time of the day when the sun kisses the horizon. Oranges overtake the powder blue horizon. Clouds take on purple and red hues. Color paints the sky like no other time of day. Trees become silhouettes as the sun sneaks behind their cover.

Dave Robbins, artist at Grapes and Gallery, first introduced us to the name of this magical time of day. In fact, the magic hour inspires many of his paintings, which feature tree silhouettes.

If you are used to painting objects as they appear in full light, challenge yourself to paint a silhouette piece. Emphasis shifts from painting a detailed object to determining a perspective that best captures your tale, developing a background that conveys meaning, and forming an object that tells a story through its shape alone.

Think about Dave’s paintings. Even though the trees are black in color, you have a sense of the environment. Each painting tells a complete story. The perspective of the observer is central in each piece. In some cases, you are placed on the midst of a group of trees. In others, you are clearly standing at a distance from the trees. 

Once you have decided on a perspective, focus shifts to building the background. The backgrounds in Dave’s paintings place the observer in a specific setting. The shading of the sky and clouds, for example, can indicate either a pleasant day or a brewing storm.

Finally, the object itself, even though devoid of color, conveys meaning. In some of Dave’s paintings, the trees are bending as if under pressure from a gale force wind. In others, they stand still as if a complete calm has taken over.

You may be saying, “I don’t want to paint a tree.” That’s ok! A silhouette is by definition “the dark shape and outline of someone or something visible against a lighter background.” Any object can be a silhouette. The Grapes and Gallery logo, for example, contains the silhouette of an artist painting inside the wine bottle. Surprise, if you haven’t noticed it before now!

You might also be thinking, “I don’t want to paint my [insert name of your object] black.” That’s ok, too! Maybe you are feeling a bit more abstract and you may choose to make your silhouette neon green or hot pink. The idea is that the [insert name of your object] is a solid color, and only the general shape, not the detail, is shown.

Tonight at the gallery, we had a group that painted the "Palmetto Sunset." Each of the paintings brought to life a small piece of the magic hour that colored our sky tonight. 

Challenge yourself. Make your next painting a silhouette. Your entire perspective will change.

We hope you will look at the magic hour in a completely different way now. Embrace the colors. Notice the details. Experience the calm inspiration that this time of day offers.

Explore your inner artist. Paint your day!