Social Media: Blogging: Get Writing

Now that you have ideas and topics for blog posts it’s time to get started with the actual writing.  Where do you begin?

I like – make that love – to start with various stages of a technique that’s called Free Writing.  In fact, I’d say that I start most of my writing projects – even my blog posts – this way.  If you’ve read The Artists Way by Julia Cameron you’ll be somewhat familiar with this.  She refers to it as “The Morning Pages” – every morning you sit down and write three pages about whatever is on your mind.  Bare your soul and make room for creativity.  Free Writing is somewhat like that but a bit different.  It’s more creative and the outcome is often the beginning of something you will use.

Free Writing, by definition, is really quite simple, as you will see. It can be an amazing basis for inner discovery.  You can find new ideas for your art and yourself.  It can be a great place to gather your thoughts, or (as in the case of the “Morning Pages”) it can simply be a place to unload.  Free Writing is also known as Stream Of Consciousness writing. Here’s how to get started.

1. Get your favorite writing implement(s).  You can even use a crayon if you think it will open your creativity. I type rather fast so I like to use the computer.  Sometimes I start to get inspired in a cafe or on public transportation so I carry my iPhone and something to write on just in case.  You can use a sketch pad, an iPad, paper, whatever you like.  Just make sure it’s fun and comfortable.

2. Get into your most comfortable spot.  An armchair in your living room or den. I know some writers who can’t write at home so they go to cafes and coffee bars.  Some writers create a special place in their homes for writing – even if it’s just a desk in a quiet spot overlooking a beautiful landscape.  It can be a place dedicated to writing in your studio.  It has to be a place that you look forward to going to because you’ll want to do this again and again.

3. Set a time limit – 10, 20 or 30 minutes.

4. Start Writing.

There are two rules to follow. Don’t worry they’re not hard and fast.

• You are only allowed to pick up your writing implement to make space between words.  If you feel stuck say it.  “I don’t know what to write about? What should I write? I’m stuck.” Just keep going and I promise something will come out of it.

• Do not worry about grammar, punctuation or editing.  Don’t let that impulse to self censor get in the way.  Editing will come later.

• No one else has to ever look at it.

You don’t have to have a topic in mind to start writing but in the case of blogging you may want to.  For example: Pull out a painting or drawing and write about it for that set amount of time.  Whatever comes into your mind about it is okay.  Even if you don’t like it – maybe this will help you figure out why.  You’ll be amazed at what comes out.

After you finish and take a bit of a break, read it to yourself (preferably out loud).  This can be empowering because you will see that you can write and write well and that’s the key to great blog content and great blog content is the key to getting followers.

Writing for Artists: Writing Prompts

I recently came up with these for an exhibition and thought they might be useful to you. The artists were asked to write about their pieces. Several of them asked for help so I wrote this. You will invariably be asked to write again and again about your inspiration for a specific piece, an artist statement, a statement for a particular exhibition, etc. Use these prompts to inspire you….

All of them are free writing. (You can read more about free writing in a previous post). Get your favorite writing materials. Sit down in a quiet place or take yourself out for a Chai at Starbucks….:-)

1. Place the artwork in front of you. Set a time limit of 10 minutes and write, only picking up the pen to separate words. Don’t hesitate to gather your thoughts or get grammar or punctuation right. Write whatever comes into your mind. It’s okay if you stray into different topics. When you realize it bring yourself back to your work.

2. Place the artwork in front of you. Make a list of words that come to mind about the work and the creation of it. Read them out loud and look them up in the dictionary and then pick one, based on the definition in the dictionary write – no holds barred and no stopping – about that word and how it relates to your art.

Don’t edit it right away. Put it away for a day or so and then come back to it. Pick the words, sentences, paragraphs that speak the most profoundly to the piece and put them together. Almost like a word collage. Then through editing merge them – make it smooth. If you still need help, contact The Artists Objective. We have editing services and can sit down with you and get you writing in no time. It’s fun, it’s creative and it will help you become successful!

Writing for Artists: The Resumé: Formatting

“I hope it is a benchmark for what the artist’s experience in the field of art might be. I don’t think it should matter to a gallery if the artist is self taught or has a Master in Art, but the length of time, making and creating should speak volumes. Art seems to be the field where length and breadth of experience is a very important aspect.” Cathy Hegman

Your Resume is the most important marker of your experience that you may have. Getting the grammar absolutely perfect is a mark of your professionalism. This post will show you how to outline your resume. What goes in what order. I will create a list and after each item there will be an explanation with tips.

You will start with your name, address, phone, email, website, blog and other web presences. This is a good time to create a letterhead for yourself. A logo representing your art and a format for every bit of correspondence you send out. There are even ways to add it to an email. If you aren’t ready to do that then I recommend at least putting a piece of your work that represents the majority of what you do. People will remember you first and foremost by your work. You want to get that image in front of them as much as possible.

The items of your achievement come next…

Representation
This means any galleries that represent you or that you have consigned with. You just need to put the name of the gallery, city and state. If it’s outside the United States then put city and country.
i.e.
Laurel Gallery, Baltimore, MD
Shanghai Gallery, Shanghai, China

Museum Exhibitions
Any museum where you’ve had a solo or been part of a group exhibition. You’ll need the name of the exhibition (if any), the name of the museum, the city and the state, or city and country.
i.e.
An Artist in Soho, New Museum, New York, NY.
American Artist in Asia, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China.

(Tip: The name of the exhibition should be in either italics or quotation marks. Italics are preferred because it looks more sophisticated).

Solo Exhibitions
Any gallery where you’ve been the sole exhibitor. You can also add a category if you’ve been part of a two or three person exhibition. Any exhibition with more than 3 artists is considered a group exhibition.
For all gallery exhibitions this is how you will list them:
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.

This should also be listed under the year. Like this:
2009
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.
Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.
Name of Exhibition, Name of Gallery, City, State or City, Country.

Group Exhibitions
This is any exhibition that you’ve been a part of that includes more than one artist.
I’ve seen artists include the name of the juror because they think it’s prestigious. Leave it out. It’s not necessary and in most cases nobody will care.

Art Fairs
If you’ve been a part of an art fair such as the Affordable Art Fair.
i.e. Affordable Art Fair, New York, NY, March 2014.

Awards and Honors
If you’ve won a prestigious award or honor for your work. List it like this:
• Name of Award, Name of Exhibition (If any), Name of Organization that gave it to you, City and State, Date.

Grants
If a foundation or grant making organization has given you funding for your art, list it here. It’s important because if someone is willing to give you money to make your art, then how can you be refused by anyone else…? Right? This is your place to let them know about it.

List it like this:
• Name of Grant, Name of Grant Making Organization, City and State where grant making organization is listed, Date.

Fellowship
Any time that you’ve been given services or goods for a specific purpose. For example Women’s Studio Workshop gives a limited amount of subsidies to use their space for a Residency or if you’ve been given money or services that allow you to study or create your work.

List it like this: Name of Fellowship, Name of Fellowship Organization (i.e. Vermont Studio Center), City, State, Date.

Residencies
Whether you’re paying for them or not they are usually juried so it is prestigious. For example:

• Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, March-October, 2013
• Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, September-December 2013.

Publicity
This includes any part of the media that has included you or your work. Even newer media such as online media. (Tip: Create a Link on Your Website to the Article and Ask the Creator of the Blog or News Media to Link Back to your Website. This is known as Cross Linking and will boost the search engine traffic to your website). You can make separate sub-categories here as well. Such as: Print Media, Television and Radio, Online Media. Always list it like this:

Name of the Article by the author, Name of Publication, Vol. [Volume] No.[Number], Month, Day, City, State [City, Country], Page the Article Appeared on.

i.e.
New York Artists Shows in Shanghai by Chin Me How, Shanghai Times, Vol. 3 No. 4, Beijing, China, April 29, 2014, Page 32.

Education
This is where you’ve studied and with whom. If it’s your college degree, list it as follows:
• Bachelors of Fine Art, Long Island University, Southampton Campus, Southampton, NY 2002.

If you’ve studied with an artist or teacher of note you can list it like this
•Pablo Picasso, Art Student’s League, New York, NY, 2014.

Memberships
These are organizations that you have current memberships with. Such as Allied Artists of America, National Sculpture Society, etc. Here’s how you’d list them:
• National Sculpture Society, New York, N.Y.
• National Association of Women Artists, New York, N.Y.
• American Association of Watercolorists, Philadelphia, N.Y.

Commissions
These are private or public commissions (or public art) – where you’ve been paid to create a work of art for a specific location or reason. You’d list it like this:
• Skecher’s USA Inc., Orlando, F.L.

Public Collections
A place where your work is in the permanent collection of an institution or business. You’d list it like this
• Citigroup USA, Long Island City, N.Y.

Private Collections
The private individuals who have purchased your art and still hold your work in their possession. They haven’t resold it or given it away. You’d list it like this… (Notice the alphabetical order by last name):
• Leonard Baskin, New York, N.Y.
• Miriam Schwartz, New York, N.Y.
• Joan Zimmet, New York, N.Y.

Some artists are shy about listing name of the of their private collectors and this is a huge mistake. Remember that by purchasing your art they gave you the right to do that. It’s also extremely important to list individual buyers if you ever want to be represented or consigned by a gallery. They will not only want to see your art but that you have a following or a record of purchases. It gives you more credibility and that’s important.

If this is overwhelming for you, one of the services The Artists Objective offers is resume editing. Please contact us at: info@theartistobjective.com even if you just have a question. I’m here to help.

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Writing for Artists: Getting it Write

This post will lean more towards your resume – which I will begin to discuss in the next post – discussing punctuation that is essential in formatting and consistency. A must when listing your successes and achievements the right way. These forms of punctuation, of course, refer to narrative text as well (artist statement, bio, etc).
The Apostrophe: This can be confusing but I hope that this clarifies things for you.
An apostrophe is used for….
1. To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add an apostrophe and an “s.” Picasso’s painting, O’Keeffe’s Black Iris, Giacometti’s sculpture
2. To form the possessive case of a plural noun ending in s, add only the apostrophe
i.e i.e. Diane Arbus’ photograph, Thomas Eakins’ Biglin Brothers Racing, Edgar Degas’ Ballerina, Eva Gonzales’ Portait of a Girl Holding a Sparrow
Note The few plural nouns that do not end in s, form the possessive by adding the apostrophe and a s just as singular nouns do. i.e. women’s studio, children’s art
3. Personal pronouns in the posessive case (his, hers, its, ours yours, theirs, whose) do not require an apostrophe.
Incorrect: I thought the paint brush was her’s.
Correct: I thought the paint brush was hers.
Incorrect: You have seen the museum at it’s best.
Correct: You have seen the museum at its best.
Incorrect: Do you know who’s sculpture this is?
Correct: Do you know whose sculpture this is?
4. When two or more persons posssess something indvidually, each of their names is possessive in form. i.e. Picasso’s and O’Keeffe’s paintings
5. The words minute, hour, day, week, month, year etc., when used as possessive adjectives, require an apostrophe. Words also indicating an amount in dollars or cents (when used as possessive adjectives) also require an apostrophe.
Singular: a minute’s work / Plural: five minutes’ work
Singular: a day’s work / Plural: three days’ work
Singular: one cent’s worth / Plural: five cents’ worth
6. To show where letters have been omitted, or when you are bringing two words together such as: don’t (do not), won’t (will not), it’s (it is).
7. To form the plural of letters, numbers and signs and of words referred to as words.
i.e. Mississippi is spelled with four s’s, four i’s, and two p’s.
Instead of a three and an 8, she wrote two 3’s.
How many +’s in that piece of writing?
Count the number of and’s in that paragraph.
The Hyphen: Please note that there is a difference between a hyphen and a dash. The dash will be explained below. A hyphen is….
1. Used to divide a word at the end of a line. Make sure that you use the hyphen after a syllable – such as (contest>con-test). This especially helps you break up a “widow.” Writing in some ways is visual as well. A widow is dangling single words or three or four words that stand out at the end of a paragraph.
2. Used with compound numbers. Such as: twentyone to ninetynine.
3. Used with prefixes such as ex-, self-, all- with the suffix -elect, and with all prefixes before a proper noun. exdirector of the museum, selfimposed, allstar, Senatorelect, etc.
4. Add to a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies (see the last post about adjectives and modifiers). Examples: A secondstory studio, doortodoor selling.
5. Used to prevent confusion or awkwardness. re-collect (prevents confusion with the word recollect). reform (prevents confusion with the word reform)
The Dash is….
1. Used to indicate an arupt break in thought . i.e. He might and according to plans, should have painted the corner of that canvas again.
2. To mean namely, in other words, that is, etc. before an explanation.
the teacher had it in his power to prevent the disruption he could have asked everyone to sit down.
In this case, the dash means “that is”.
Parentheses: Used to enclose incidental explanatory matter which is added to a sentence but is not considered of major importance. For example:
Retired City Councilman Peter Vallone, Sr. (Astoria, New York) is a member of the arts and the city committee.
The exhibitions included several artists (see the catalog) who’s work is considered Post-war Modern.
Tip: Very often commas, dashes and parentheses are interchangable. It depends on how much you want to offset the meaning of what you are saying. Commas and dashes are used more frequently than parentheses.
She said, by the way, that she really liked the art.
She said by the way that she really liked the art.
She said (by the way) that she really liked the art.
Brackets: In ordinary writing you probably won’t use this but I wanted to add it just so that you are absolutely sure when to use them and when not. They cannot be substituted for parenteses. Brackets are used to enclose explanations within parentheses or in quoted material when the explanation is not part of the quote.
i.e. Picasso accepted the award by saying “I am honored by it [the award] and am aware of the prestige, value and responsibility associated with it.
Quotation Marks vs. Italics and Underlining: basically these are all interchangeable when you are using a title of an article, publication or book. Most common is to use quotation marks but I think it looks much more sophisticated and clearer to read if you use italics.
i.e.
Dale Chihuly: A Celebration by Rock Hushka.
“Dale Chihuly: A Celebration” by Rock Huschka
Dale Chihuly: a Celebration by Rock Huschka
You decide.
Use quotation marks to offset something that someone says in a narrative form.
Picasso said “The matter of my exhibition at the Salon is completely up to Gertrude Stein.”
Use quotation marks to offset slang:
She said the artist was “looney.”
or
She said the artist was so talented that he was “over the top.”
You can also use quotation marks to bring importance to something.
i.e Her work is “amazing.”
That formally ends the section of this post on grammar. I hope that you don’t think that it’s boring. It should help you become a better writer.
The bottom like is “Yes you can write!” You can speak right? It’s just a matter of knowing how to format it when you’re writing so that it comes across properly and as an added benefit you will become even more articulate about you work.

Writing for Artists: Creating Space

Did you know that your readers need to take a breath? To stop here and there just to absorb what you’re saying. When you read your work out loud you’ll notice the need to breathe. How much of a stop do you want to give them? Punctuation can help. It can also make your thoughts and ideas really clear and effective.
What follows are definitions of the different types of punctuation, along with ideas and examples of how to use each one. Again, just as the tiniest dot of red can change an entire painting, good punctuation can change the meaning of a whole piece of writing – and that’s exciting.

Let’s talk about “End Marks.” This includes the period, the question mark, the exclamation point and abbreviations.

Period: The most important use of a period is to end a sentence. It is also used in the abbreviations such as Mr., Ms., Dr. etc, and  F.B.I., I.R.S., N.Y., and U.S.A.  Periods (dots) are also used on the internet and should only be used as a separation of an extension (smith.jpg, smith.pdf, http://www.artist.com)

Interestingly enough, previously end punctuation marks separated sentences with two spaces, now the accepted convention is to use one space only.

Exclamation Point: These should be used at the end of an emphatic declaration. It can also be used as an interjection or a command. i.e. What a beautiful sculpture! The show amazed me! That’s an unbelievable color! Be aware that exclamation points tend to be overused, especially on the internet. I find myself doing it a lot especially on Social Networking but I think about it before I hit the return/enter button. When it’s over used it can dilute the effectiveness of it. I try to think about it before and after I put it in.

Question Mark: This seems obvious but… A direct question is followed by a question mark. Generally it is used by itself, without other marks but an exception would be “She said what!?” There are times when  a question mark should be used and questions where it should not:

• Direct Questions – a question that you are asking another person when you are speaking to them or when one person in a narrative is asking another person a question. i.e. “Do you know what happens when you mix red with green?”

• Indirect Questions – usually when one person is talking about something that happened. You should not use a question mark in that situation. i.e. “She asked what would happen if she mixed red with green.”

Other punctuation marks are used in the middle of sentences, to break up a thought or concept, or to extend the space between words. I think of an end mark as a dead stop/breath break. A semicolon is a large stop/breath. A comma is a slight stop/breath.

Comma: The formal uses of a comma are:

• To separate elements in a series. i.e. paint, brushes, pastels, pencils, charcoal

• To connect two independent clauses. i.e. The painting was beautiful, but the lighting in the gallery didn’t suffice.

• To set off introductory elements in a sentence. i.e. Despite the lighting in the gallery, the painting was exquisite and the smallest lines were quite evident.

• Parenthetical elements – depending on how strong you want to offset the comment. i.e. The artist was in the studio, creating a painting, when the curator walked in.

• Colon: use this to mean “what follows” in situations as this:

• Before a list of items, especially after expressions like as follows and the following. i.e. The Julian Easel held just about everything: brushes, all of my paints, linseed oil and there was even a place for my canvas.

• Before a long formal statement or quotation. i.e. The Museum Director made a formal speech: The works of art that you will see here represent the period of Post-war Modern Art.

• In certain conventional situations such as:
• The time. i.e. 4:30 P.M.

• Semicolon: The is an under utilized form of punctuation and is something I’ve come to love recently. Using it also makes your writing more professional and intelligent. A semicolon can also break up a run on sentence. There are different situations to use it in:

• To join independent clauses that are not joined by and, but, or, nor, for or yet. i.e. Over 100 artists showed up for the demonstration; it lasted from 5 to 8pm and there was a reception afterwords.

• Between to independent clauses joined by such words as for example, for instance, that is, besides, accordingly, moreover, nevertheless, furthermore, otherwise, therefore, however, consequently, instead, hence. i.e. Artists always seem to just make the deadline for an exhibition; for instance, we always get at least 50 submissions on the last day.

• To separate clauses that include a comma. I find myself using this one often. i.e. The exhibition included Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; Edvard Monk’s The Scream; Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris; Joan Miro’s Moonbird among many other ground breaking pieces.

Tip: sometimes you can look at a run-on sentence and see where it can break up clearly. Decide how much of a break you want to give your reader and place the appropriate punctuation. As I keep saying, good writing is essential to your success.  So please keep following these posts.  It can make all the difference.

*The definitions of punctuation here are adapted from the following sources

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, An Encyclopedia Britannica Company, 2005.

Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition: Complete Course, Heritage Edition by John E. Warriner and Francis Griffith, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977.

•Wikipedia.org

• http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/marks/marks.htm

The Artist Statement: The Power of Words

Artists are so visual that they often overlook the power of words. Believe me when I tell you that words – the way they are written and/or said – ARE important. You CAN harness that power and use it to express yourself in a unique and effective way. To connect, create a bridge between you and your viewer. A bridge that might just turn a viewer into a buyer and a buyer into a collector.

If you are doubting what I’m saying about the power of words then think of this. Remember the saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me.” It’s definitely not true. In fact, words can do lasting damage. This sounds negative but have you ever wished that someone had used one word in place of another because it would have alleviated the pain they caused or it wouldn’t have been painful in the first place. Words can go straight to your heart. They can change a meaning of everything you just said. They can change the tone of a whole book – and require the author to go back and revise the entire book. Similar to a painting. One dot of red may change the whole thing and require you to go back and rework the entire piece.

As you can see I love words. Editing has become like a creative crossword puzzle to me. Here is an exercise that incorporates using the power of words….

After you have a solid piece of writing, it answers all of the questions that a viewer may ask and you think you are satisfied then go into a room and read it out loud. Does it flow off your tongue? Does it feel good to say? Are there any words or punctuation that you stumble over? A sentence that doesn’t flow properly or convey exactly, exactly what you mean. One word can interrupt the flow of an entire sentence, an entire piece of writing.

Two of the most powerful tools I have found are the Dictionary and Thesaurus. Look up just one word and read the entire definition and suggestions of other words to use. You’ll be amazed and find things you never thought of before. Here is an example:

Inspiration: in(t)-spe-‘ra’-shan, – (,)spi-/in (14 century) 1.a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate with sacred revelation. b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions c: the act of influencing or suggesting opinions 2: the act of drawing in: specific The Drawing of air into the lungs. 3a: the quality or state of being inspired. b: something that was inspired. 4. an inspiring agent of influence.

This can also be a marvelous tool if you feel stuck. Here is another exercise:
Write a list of words that describe your art and look them up in the dictionary or thesaurus one by one. It opens the doors to your mind and your heart and suddenly the words will just flow. Start to free write about what each word means to you if you’re still stuck after that.

Another exercise is to have someone else read it out loud to you, after you’re completely finished with it. As they read it you will see if they understand the meaning of what you have written. You can also see if they stumble over words or sentences. Listen carefully. Having more than one person read it is also good because it will let you see who your artist statement resonates with.

Remember that an artist statement is never really finished. Your process and technique will change. You really should review it every three to six months and see if it needs tweaking. If you have followed the steps in the previous posts and in this post congratulations! You have completed your artist statement. Getting over the hurdle of writing your first artist statement can be the hardest thing but once it’s complete you know you will have something you can really use. It will be easier to change and keep up with. You will be able to talk and write about your work with confidence. You will be able to write grants, fellowships, residencies, press releases, exhibition proposals and so much more. Galleries like artists who can write and who can talk. This is the second major step to your success.