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Goodbye, old friend. I’m moving from the Barracks.

It’s Art Trails time around Sonoma County, and plenty of artists, including Caerus artists,  are laying it all on the line. It’s a brave thing to do.  You open your studio doors, your soul, and your wine bottles to the public, with no guarantees of financial or other success.  It’s far more work than the public ever sees, it brings you face to face with some very odd characters in your intimate space, and it’s the quickest crash course to increased professionalism that I know.

 I’m not opening my studio this year.  In fact, I’m moving Saltworkstudio from the Barracks to SOFA (South of A Street) Arts District. This brings up my own version of studio blues, and a complete spectrum of many-hued emotions. However, here I offer you my hard-won set of tips for avoiding excess stress around open studios.  They are all based on one idea– visualize the end first, and work from there.  These have saved my open studio mental state more than once.

What do you really need to have an open studio?  Throw out perfectionism.  You need paintings on the walls and a price list.  The dust bunnies or perfect party food can stand aside for a moment.

  1. Do not paint (or create) up to the last minute. This is a way of using the artificial adrenalin of a deadline to force yourself to work.  It will burn you out and produce a lingering aftertaste of drama and trauma. You don’t need the pain and you don’t need more paintings.  You already have enough paintings/sculptures/prints/drawings. Stop creating two weeks or more before your open studio date.  Mark it on your calendar and make it a real committment.
  2. Do the physical before the mental.  If you find yourself pulled in many pieces by details, do physical work, like cleaning, hanging, and framing,  before agonizing about the publicity you didn’t do or would like to do, or the great idea you had for a new improved painting label, or the need to suddenly completely upgrade your blog/website/tweets/Facebook.   You will have your own versions of these lists.  Choose the physical.  The energy expenditure will, paradoxically, make you calmer and clearer.
  3. Hang first! Hang first! Hang first! Hang and arrange your walls before cleaning or working on food.  This is part of the philosophy of going to the end first.  You won’t believe how much more peaceful you will feel once your stock is up and arranged.  It will give you a real charge of positive energy and provide a restful place for your eyes, even if the rest of the task seems overwhelming. Hang as far in advance as possible. Fool around with pesky details later.  As long as a visitor can walk in, you’re set.  Take a deep breath.  Relax and enjoy your own beautiful work for a moment.

Please let me know if any of these tips are of use to you.  Do you have any open studio hints or cautions to share with us?  Where are you right now in your open studio preparations?

Suzanne Edminster

Call to Caerus Artists in Art Trails Lauri Luck and Karina Nishi Marcus are both in Art Trails.  Who else is in Art Trails this year?  Please comment below and then send us one image attached to an email with one short paragraph about your current Art Trails focus to caerusartresidency@gmail.com.  On Thursday October 11 we’ll do a Caerus Artists in Art Trails post and feature your work.  Yep, free publicity!

Come join our Caerus Fall Sketch Picnic on Saturday October 27, 12-4 PM!  We are hoping to have a luxurious Impressionist-style lazy day of lounging, sketches, and potluck food and drink on Spring Lake in Santa Rosa. If it rains, we’ll meet in Karina’s studio in Santa Rosa.  Updates to come in October! Please post questions here in the comments section of the blog.

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