Thursday, June 14, 2018

Gathering Resources for My Botanical Paintings

With the launch of, I thought I would share with you how I go about collecting resources for painting flowers. Mostly, I walk my dog. Just as my landscapes are about a place in Northern Minnesota that I love, and my still lifes are about the food I eat (or don't eat), my botanical paintings are about where I live. I walk my dog twice a day every day of the year. here she is sitting patiently waiting to cross a street. She's a good dog.

Over the years I have planted many different flowers in my yard and have made paintings of them, but I also peruse my neighborhood and study flowers. There are gardens I watch and make sure to pass by almost every day. There are others that I watch on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In this manner I come across some amazing flowers of which I take numerous pictures.

Now, I wish I could peruse all of my neighbor's gardens, but many of them I don't know, so I have a rule to make sure I do not bother them. In order to take a picture or check out a flower in a yard on my dog walk, I have to always leave one foot on the sidewalk. It is a fun challenge at times, but really, people love to plant flowers and there is a great variety along the sidewalk.

I also live near Como Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota. There are several gardens and flowering trees in and around the park, as well as an entire conservatory of plants. I used to work at the conservatory and once had the person in charge of the conservatory's orchid collection take drawing lessons form me. So, if I don't have an orchid I want in my studio or house, I go to the conservatory and work from their collection.

When I do take pictures, I often am getting down in there to get details. Sometimes this means shooting through a chain-link fence or being at ground level, like in this photo. One time I was extremely interested in getting the underside of some flower leaves, so I laid down in a garden bed on an alley, to get the perfect shot. The owner came out of his garage to find me laying amongst his flowers. He didn't say anything - just looked at me. I introduced myself and that I am an artist that makes paintings of flowers and that his garden was particularly beautiful. He signaled me to follow him. I followed. He led me around his garage and through his backyard. We entered into his next door neighbor's back yard that didn't have a stitch of grass - nothing but flowers. He said "Go ahead and take pictures. I'll let Francis know its okay if she wonders what's going on." He stood guard for the next half-hour while I took pictures of all kinds of flowers. From that summer forward, when I would walk my dog I would see him outside at his patio table and he would invite me over, pet my dog and give me a beer while we talked about life. When the beer was done, Delilah and I would finish our walk. As I have said before - art is not my life, but a vehicle for it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

And the Winner Is...

The winner of the recent art give-away is Lori Heeter. Every couple of months, I have a give-away of a small art piece to those who sign up for my newsletter or respond on my Facebook post.  Congratulations Lori! Next give-away will be just before the upcoming online auction. Stay tuned here or on my Facebook Pages:
Mark Granlund Studio
Flower Art Gallery

Monday, June 4, 2018

New Website: Flower Art Gallery

Over the years I have equally enjoyed making oil paintings of landscapes and still-lifes and watercolors of floral subjects. Looking at the images in this newsletter, you can see that I paint in different styles for the different media. Not only our my styles of painting different, the works are different in intent. The oil paintings, to me, our objects not images. They are each a unique vessel that receives my energy and perception and are then deepened through your experience of them. The botanical watercolors have always been paintings that have been associated, for me, with teaching people how to paint and art prints that are created for the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. They are a more community and genre driven art than my oil paintings. So, for me, in many ways, they are serious paintings that are more flexible in terms of being open for a variety of formats. To this end, I have created a separate website for my botanical paintings that will provide an opportunity to buy prints and select products with the images on them.

Currently, fine art prints, greeting cards, mugs and buttons are available. Oh, those buttons - I have been doing those for years and now you can buy them straight from my website. If interested in a print, you can see a preview of the print on a wall of a color of your choosing. The print, framed or matted, will appear in proportion to its surrounding furniture, etc. It is really handy in helping determine if the work will look good in a room like yours. 
In the coming months, I will be adding flower paintings and new products. I'm very excited about this development and feel it can be a consistent way for people to engage with my botanical work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Current Exhibit and Upcoming Onlie Auction

I currently have a few of my Sinkside Compost Series paintings in Animal, Mineral,Vegetable on exhibit at Wargo Nature Center in Lino Lakes, Minnesota. The show also includes Kat Corrigan and Bronwyn White. The show is in the display cases in the middle of the center and will be up until September 2018.

Later this summer will be an online auction with artist Gregory Graham. It will be a whirly-twirly event with all pieces painted with gouache on paper and they will be in 5" x 7" frames and ready for hanging. The auction will take place during the Minnesota State Fair, thus the Spaghetti Eddie's painting that I created for this event. I haven't painted people since The Book of Bartholomew project. It has been fun to tackle people again - that just sounds wrong. You get what I mean. Anyway, it will be a lot of fun. More info to come.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Winter Morning - Oil Paint on Canvas

Winter Morning
Oil paint and charcoal on canvas
60" x 36"

My landscapes are moving to a looser style with a greater variety of paint applications. The canvas in part of this painting is simply primed canvas with charcoal. Other areas are very thin drip washes, while yet other areas are thick strokes of paint. It is a very vibrant and active painting to look at. The image comes from Rainy Lake in Northern Minnesota. In the summer, I often stay in a cabin wherein the bed has a north facing window next to it. The sun comes up right in a spot where it angles in the window and shines right on the pillow. I can't tell you how many times I have woken up between 4 - 5am with that sunrise hitting me right in the eye. Often I will get up and take a photo and then go back to sleep. This painting is a winter version of this sunrise with active horizontal wintery clouds and the sunlight reflecting off the snow covered lake.

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Winner Is...

If you follow my Facebook Page, you know that every few months I have an Art Give-Away. The latest give away, of an oil painting of a daylily, was won by Lori Heeter.  Thanks to all who shared the post (and my art) - it reached 1,800 people. The next give-away will be in July.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Making versus Marketing

There have always been more artists than galleries and avenues for exhibiting art. But the internet is now changing this. Artists can find and foster an audience that galleries never even knew existed.

In light of this new freedom of outreach, there are many businesses marketing to artists to help them market and sell their work online. I have been using one such business, Art Storefronts, and I am enjoying many of the features and benefits of such a program. I see some of my other artist friends using other programs, but they all focus on building your audience and marketing to that audience. The platform I joined has a lot of marketing and social-media advice that is good and I have been following through on some of these suggestions while testing the water on others.

I find this type of work to be a curse, anathema, an abomination. Alright, the fact that I like writing this newsletter and having y’all read it tells you that I don’t think marketing is a complete abomination. But it is not natural to me nor convenient. These platforms suggest that an artist’s time should be divided between art making (80%) and marketing (20%). For the course of 2018, until I took the last two weeks off of social-media and updating my website, I have been consistently promoting my work and doing many of the things I “should” be doing.  But I needed a break.

Artists like to make things. I think that is pretty obvious. In general, artists prefer that the objects they make are out front in the public eye and their personal life stays behind the scenes. It is hard for artists to remember that they are not marketing themselves. They want to stay in the background while marketing seems about placing yourself out there in the rough currents of society. Yet, my work has a commentary aspect to it. It talks about who we are as a society and I would love to have people respond to it, value it and take it home. That is part of the thinking behind the work. Unfortunately, to engage an audience I can’t sit in the shadows and throw out wry observations.

So, I am getting back on that horse and will continue with the marketing, and even ramping it up some, over the course of the year. But I don’t want to have my marketing activities diminish my studio experience. My work doesn’t fit neatly in the online scene of art marketing. I don’t make images. Much of the art online is just an image to be placed on a piece of paper, a piece of canvas, a coffee cup, a keychain. It is not art meant to be its own object and have its own presence in someone’s life. Often the final product someone receives from an online artist’s website was not made by an artist’s hand but by a printer. I’m only willing to go down that path so far. So, I struggle with the contemporary art marketing world that I have to live in.  It is at odds with the ultimate purpose and value of my work which is forging a worldview into an object - developing a language of material that expresses thought.