Monthly Archives: October 2014


I send art out to a few sci-fi/fantasy conventions. Nothing original, just prints because they're lighter and smaller than original art. Lighter and smaller = less shipping cost. Prints also seem to have a more appealing price point than originals.

picture of prints, paperwork, and shipping supplies for convention preparation.

Most convention art shows I send art to have a display area and a print shop. The Display area is usually for originals or limited edition prints. Here the art needs to be framed or matted and bagged (make it look presentable and professional). The print shop can be open edition prints and they can be unmatted but usually need to be bagged, labeled with piece name and price. They also require paperwork: an artist information sheet; a display control sheet (list of pieces and prices); a print shop control sheet; and completed bid tags for each piece in the display area.

Here are a few things I've learned.

Lists are excellent. Since the required elements and process for sending art to each show are very similar, I created a generic checklist. I print one for each convention and mark tasks off as I go. The list become my second brain. All the organizing happens from that list so I don't forget anything.

Tape. Most of the shows want the bid tags attached to the art. From working the Art Show at CONvergence I've learned that the blue painters tape is excellent for this. It's sticky enough for the bid tag to stay put but is easily removed later.

Postage. Using to purchase postage is cheaper than postage purchased at a post office. I go by weight and dimensions of the box, or type of USPS box for shipping. I use an electronic kitchen scale, which we already had, to weigh the packed box. The shipping is generally much less than one of those flat rate boxes.

Boxes. USPS has FREE shipping materials (boxes and envelopes). You can order them from

Piles. Piles and Post-it Notes are also help. Mind you, they are organized piles. One for display art and one for print shop art.

File folders. Each convention is assigned a labeled folder. The checklist and all the paperwork goes in there. It stays with me so I can refer back to the previous year or check the return shipment against my copy of the art list.

Packing. I learned to cushion the ends and short sides with bubble wrap or bunched up clean plastic bags. As added protection I put a sheet of foam core or cardboard on either large side, basically creating a sandwich with the art in between.

Tracking art. To track what went where or what sold (hopefully), I print a copy of the control sheets for my records. Ideally I also mark what number of the print run for a piece I sent out. This way if it sells I can mark the piece as sold in my limited edition print list. I'll also know whether or not to send the same piece the following year.

Waiting. Just let it go. When the box leaves my hands, that's it. I take it off my mental list of things to do and don't worry about it.

Unpacking. Ideally I do this within a few days of receiving the box. I check their list of pieces against the copy of what I sent. Usually everything adds up. Once or twice there have been discrepancies but the art show organizer for those instances resolved the issue.

Evaluation. Something sold? Great! Nothing sold but all the art came back in one piece? Great! Getting the art out in front of eyeballs is my goal. Getting me AND the art out together would be ideal but that's not always possible. I might reevaluate this at the end of the year. Maybe next year I'll focus my energies on shows I can do in person. We'll see.

USPS FREE shipping supplies

ClearBags, as the name implies, has clear bags. They also sell standard size cut mats, backing boards, boxes, etc. Currently I cut my own mats because I want specific colors but I've stocked up on bags from them.

Convention Wiki is a decent starting place if you need a list of shows. You'll need to look each one up because some of them are defunct.

Happy (early) Halloween! The People's Gallery is having their 2nd Annual Halloween Show: Shadowed Visions. Two of my paintings will be on display and for sale in the exhibit.

Shadowed Visions Art Exhibit: October 13 - November 14

The People's Gallery Shadowed Visions Exhibit


The Halloween Reception will be Saturday, Oct 25 from 6:30 – 10:00 pm.  Come in costume if the Halloween spirit moves you (optional).

For viewing hours each week, directions, and more visit You can also find them on Facebook here:

The Art

My paintings that will be on display are Alchemist's Workbench and Fairy Nest. I wasn't going for a horror vibe when I painted these, more of a mysterious quality. Depending on the context, they can be quite unsettling to some. I think they fit the theme of "Shadowed Visions" quite well.

mysterious oil painting of a deer skull, crow quill pen, parchment, a frog in a jar and mysterious bottles by christine mitzuk
Alchemist's Workbench, oil on canvas.
oil painting of a mysterious nest with a collection of hanging objects by christine mitzuk
Fairy Nest









Perhaps I'll see you there. Now what shall I wear?

color mixing board and tools with raw umber
My Raw Umber color mixing board in progress. I'll be making a board for each color of the Paxton Palette.
The idea is have a dominant color for each board. When mixing, the goal is to change the main color just enough so you can tell what color was mixed with it, but not so much that you can't tell what the dominant color is anymore.
The glove is Nitrile not Latex. Nitrile is supposed to be better rated for dealing with solvents. I use odorless mineral spirits to clean up my palette and tools.

Based off Richard Schmid's boards as he describes them in his book "Alla Prima Everything I Know About Painting", I'm creating color boards using the Paxton Palette. (We use the Paxton Palette at The Atelier).

  • Ivory Black
  • Raw Umber
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Indian Red
  • Light Red
  • Cadmium Red Light (this is a replacement for Vermillion)
  • Cremnitz White or Flake White which both contain lead (I'm using Winsor & Newton Flake White Hue - a combination of Zinc and Titanium)
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Naples Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Viridian Green
  • Ultramarine Blue (I'm using French Ultramarine Blue)

The board itself is a store bought canvas board covered with a coat of matte medium (ideally to prevent sinking in and dulling of the color and value when the paint finally dries). I've had color theory classes. I've mixed paint. Just not it this methodical way. What I've learned so far:

  • Raw Umber is an underrated color. It makes such beautiful low chroma colors.
  • I've been limiting myself in my color mixing and usage. This was completely unintentional. I think the limitations developed though getting comfortable with certain mixes and my own aesthetic. This color mixing is shaking that up.
  • Each color has a tipping point. It's that point where I finally have added enough white to see a difference. Or that point where I've added enough of one color to alter another.
  • The more I do, the faster I get. I'm hoping this is because I'm seeing values better.
  • The mixing exercises can be time consuming but very much worth the effort.

pencil sketch on vellum by christine mitzuk
Larger sketch. Pencil on vellum.

Sea Daydream: Process Part 3

Last week I shared the evolution of the sketch for this piece in Process Part 2. Or start from the beginning and check out Process Part 1. This week we're moving on to the paint phase.

sea daydream watercolor value studies by christine mitzuk
Sea Daydream Value Studies.

I usually do some value studies for anything I make. This time I scanned the drawing and printed it 4-up on 8.5"x11" paper. Watercolors were my first love and I like their immediacy and ease of use so I decided to use them for the studies.

I also printed a copy of the 4-up sketch for some color studies. Following that whole infatuation with the media thing, I used watercolor for these too.




sea daydream watercolor color studies on paper by christine mitzuk
Watercolor color studies on letter size inkjet paper.

I was having fun. I fell in love with the luminosity of the studies. The transparency of watercolor give a great luminosity to the studies. Unfortunately, it made translating the color values from watercolor to the more opaque oil paint tricky.

Next time I'm going to try gouache value and color studies. I'll have my immediacy, and easy clean up that I like with watercolor (gouache being water soluble) and it'll be opaque. I'm hoping I'll have a closer representation of the final painting direction so will have an easier time translating it to oil paint. I'll also use a more permanent substrate than printer paper. That way if I have an awesome study, it'll be a mini painting for sale.

sea daydream early oil painting stage by christine mitzuk
An early stage in the oil painting. Here the sky and waves are light in value and the sand dollar is bleached.

The initial idea was to have the sky and hair meld, leaving the sky a lighter value. This wasn't working. The sky was too distracting. My trusty critique people agreed.

I needed to find a solution but was afraid to mess up the painting. Experimenting digitally was an option. I tried a little of that but was running into some odd roadblocks. Using paint was easier at that point.

sea daydream painting experiments and adjustments on acetate
Painting experiments on acetate. A chance to try it before I commit to changes.

Then I remembered something I learned in school: acetate. I taped a sheet of acetate over the painting and painted on that. What a great feeling to skate the paint around! And for some reason it was easier to think through the paint. I liked what came of my experimenting and moved forward with the darker sky and sea. (Note: I think the "acetate" is from Dura-lar. I believe it's .003". It might be the acetate alternative.)



oil painting of a woman holding a sand dollar and staring dreamily into the distance, perhaps she's a mermaid, by christine mitzuk
A personal piece, Sea Daydream.

I showed it to another artist buddy and he suggested that the sand dollar was difficult to see. It was the same color as her skin. My attempt at a sun bleached sand dollar wasn't reading well visually. So I went back to my reference of sand dollars and discovered that the live ones have lovely colors. Okay. Purple it is. Then I had to find other places to use the purple.

And magically it was done.

Okay not really. There was a lot of painting and refining shapes, values and edges in there too.

It took longer than I initially wanted but I'm glad I spent the time it took. It was incredibly valuable to work through the painting, all the composition issues, and I discovered some things I can apply to the next project.

If you're wondering, the painting is for sale. I also have limited edition prints available (printed on letter sized premium Epson paper). They aren't up in my shop yet so if you're interested, drop me a line.