Art Lessons

Art-ing is a hard business, and decisions about how and where to show and sell your creative work can be daunting. Should I do shows? If so, which? What about selling in galleries? Different factors but same question.  Online venues? Again …  you get the idea.

Even after you’ve done the research and made choices, you have to keep working to make the best of where you’ve landed – market yourself AND the shows, galleries and stores your work is in.

Sadly, sometimes despite your diligence and efforts, things fall apart. I just learned that my beloved greeting card sales rep is leaving rep-ping for greener pastures. And then another blow; the local gallery where I show my artwork and hold workshops has replaced the paintings in its windows with really big “For Sale” signs.

Village Shops and Galleries

Ouch! But I don’t think the lesson is that I should not have agreed to have Tam rep my cards or to show at the Village Shops and Galleries. I got many wonderful benefits from both, and even looking back I would have made the same decisions.

Greeting cards

But there are lessons in failures. First, don’t rely on one source of income from your art. If you only do shows, what happens if you break your leg, your car conks out, or you don’t get juried into the biggest show on your list? Or say you’re selling only online through one website and they shut down, or change their rules or procedures in a way that cuts your sales in half (hello Etsy).

Zazzle zebra sneakers

Zazzle stopped making sneakers and cancelled all of the sneaker designs artists had uploaded

What to do? Diversify! Look into the many different ways artists sell their work, ranging from in-person to on-line, in stores and galleries, to licensing or having sales reps, and more.

Second, be careful not to invest too much money or time in an uncertain venture. I could have rented space in the Gallery rather than accept a split from my sales, but without a proven track record of customers, sales and good staff support it just didn’t make sense. And I was careful not to pre-order too many greeting cards from the printer, so I’m not left with a mountain of unsold cards.

Finally, go in with your eyes open. Do the research, ask for references, talk to others  familiar with the situation you’re thinking about. Spend time at the shows you’re thinking of entering, or at the gallery you’ve got your eye on. Are people buying art? Are the fees or costs in line with similar venues?After that, weigh the risks and benefits and either back away or jump in and go for it.

Have you had an art situation explode on you? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

Shop local! Holiday gifts at Village Shops

Searching for that perfect gift for the special people on your list? You can’t beat handmade arts and crafts by local artists to show how much you care. Village Shops and Galleries, 10330 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, between Eureka and Stockton streets, is full of wonderful original treasures with something for everyone (and yourself)!

Mark Canepa's artwork

We’re open Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from now through Sunday December 15th, we’re hosting a Holiday Boutique with wonderful artwork and crafts by local photographer and mixed media artist Heidi Rand, of Garden Delights Arts & Crafts. Heidi has a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts, at all different prices, including jewelry, wearable art, purses, scarves, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, and more!

Garden Delights Arts

Also – wooden bowls, boxes and pens by David Earls:

Dave Earls' bowls

Mixed media and textile crafts and jewelry by Grace Taormina:

Grace Taormina

Handcrafted soap and beeswax candles by George McRae of Bubble Queen Soaps & Scents:

Bubble Queen soaps

The walls are bursting with color, from resident artist Mark Canepa’s metal artwork and paintings to hand-pulled linocut and woodblock prints by Rich Fowler, vivid mixed-media paintings and jewelry by Rachel Taormina, paintings by Robert Amrhein, and much more!

Rich Fowler's prints

There’s plenty of free street parking in front, and we’re a short walk from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station. Come by to chat and see the wonderful art, we hope to see you soon!

Holiday Gift Sale and Art Show

2013 Art Show and Gift Sale

Hard to believe it’s holiday season again, but December is fast approaching. I love this time of year because I get to show my friends and collectors what I’ve been working on for the past 12 months.

My 2013 Holiday Art Show and Sale will be held at the Village Shops and Galleries,10330 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito, between Eureka and Stockton Streets, on Saturday to Sunday December 7 and 8, and Wednesday through Sunday Dec. 11 to 15. We’ll be open each day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Evolon cuff bracelet

I’m so proud to show off my new photos and mixed-media artwork and crafts, and excited to introduce a line of upcycled creations, where I bring fresh life to paper and fabric destined for landfill. Come check out the bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders I make from discarded home decor fabric books; and the envelopes and other paper crafts I make from outdated calendars and unusable books.

Upcycled handmade envelope

I hope you’ll be able to stop by to enjoy some snacks, catch up and chat. As always, I have a wide range of handmade and original-designed gifts (for yourself and for friends and family – including pets), at all different prices: including jewelry, wearable art, purses, scarves, cards and prints, boxes, home decor, books, soap, beeswax candles, and more!

Honey and beeswax candle

The Gallery is wheelchair accessible, and there’s plenty of on-street free parking. It’s about a half mile from the El Cerrito Plaza BART station.

Hen clock

If you can’t make the show or want to see my artwork online, click these links:


Artfire Gallery

My blog

Zazzle shop


If you have any questions, or would like me to mail you a postcard to remind you about the show, email me at or leave a comment after this post.

New Art Classes at The Village Shops and Galleries

May through July Workshops & Classes

Spring and summer – a great time for creativity, learning and inspiration. We’ve gathered a fantastic lineup of expert instructors for a wide variety of classes held at The Village Shops and Galleries’ new classroom. We’re at 10330 San Pablo Ave, El Cerrito (between Eureka and Stockton, free on-street parking).

Pre-registration is required for all classes. Contact the instructor to pre-register. Class sizes are limited. A class may be cancelled if the minimum amount of students is not met. Visit The Village Shops and Galleries’ website for complete class descriptions, instructor biographies, and policies.  Click here to see all upcoming events, including classes.


Beginning sewers welcome! Fun, fast introduction to the mechanics of using a regular sewing machine. Please bring your own machine with owner’s manual and accessories. If you don’t have a machine, the instructor can bring one. Sat 5/18 from noon to 4:00 pm.  Fee: $50. Email:


Don’t throw your plastic bags into landfill! Learn how to transform grocery plastic bags into a reusable strong tote bag. Learn to cut the bags, connect them to one another, and use basic crochet stitches to create tote bags & small change purses. Sun 5/19 or Thurs 5/23 or Thurs 6/6 or Sun 6/9:  from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Fee: $50.  Call Karen at (510) 525-8614


Learn four different techniques for writing the classic italic script. Series of 4 classes, take any or all.  (1) Right-handed: use right -hand stroke sequence: Sat 5/25 from noon to 2 pm; (2) Sideway method: write with a more natural flow by turning the page to 90 degrees, allows for beautiful flourishes: Weds 6/5 from 4:00 to 6 pm; (3) The typical “hook”, using left-hand stroke sequence, with letters written from left to right & backwards: Weds 6/19 from 4:00 to 6 pm; (4) The upside-down technique: requires letters to be formed upside-down, allowing the creation of graceful flourishes: Sat 6/22 from noon to 2:00 pm.   Fee: $20 or $90 for all four. Email:

Doug Jones Left handed Calligraphy

Doug Jones Left handed Calligraphy


Learn to transform your photographs into works of art with different software programs , techniques, and methods. Enhance your original photos to achieve unique and artistic effects. Sun 5/26 from noon to 3:30 pm.  Fee: $50 Email:

Blending modes

Blending modes

THE ART OF THE CLOTH DOLL with Deborah Tanaka

Learn to cut, sew and assemble selected doll bodies and embellish them with flair creating a one-of-a-kind 3-dimensional soft figure for exhibit or play. Using fabrics, trim, buttons, flowers, thread, wool and felt, you will express yourself through the 3-D soft figure. Students 12 years and older.  Sun 6/2 or 6/16 or 6/23 or 6/30: from 11:30 am to 5:30 pm.Fee: $60 + $25 materials fee. $25 due upon registration; registration required 2 weeks in advance of workshop Email:

Deb Tanaka doll workshop

Deb Tanaka doll workshop


Series of four classes. Yuvak will show you how to paint watercolor with the combination of free flowing transparent and more controlled opaque watercolor methods. Beyond teaching the techniques, he will inspire you to learn more and excel. Students 13 years or older. Fri 6/7 & 6/14 & 6/21 & 62/8: from noon to 4 pm. Fee: $140 for four classes.  Email:

Yuvak Tuladhar Two Girls

Yuvak Tuladhar Two Girls


Learn to make personalized jewelry with your own images, designs, or artwork. We will explore techniques to create unique earrings, necklaces, bracelets and pins from paper, fabric, and lutradur that you print on your inkjet printer. Sat 6/8 from noon to 3:30 pm.  Fee: $40 plus materials. Email:

Fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric cuff bracelet

PAINTING WITH KIDS with Grace Taormina

Paint a flower or butterfly on a 12″x12″ canvas using acrylic paints. Lean how to use different types of paint brushes and try a variety of paint techniques. Bring an apron or old t-shirt to protect your clothing. All materials provided. Ages 7 to 17. Wed 6/12 or Thurs 6/13 from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Fee: $35.  Email:


Create beautifully detailed pendants using art stamps and polymer clay. We will experiment with a variety of materials such as mica powders and paints to enhance the detailing of your pendants. Use these pendants to make jewelry or to enhance other mixed media projects. All materials provided. Wed 6/12 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Fee: $50. Email:

ALTERED ART BOOKS with Grace Taormina

Alter an old board book with an array of mixed media techniques to create a one of a kind art book. Learn how to age, crackle, colorize, texturize, stamp and stencil papers. All materials provided. Thurs 6/13 from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Fee: $40.  Email:


Learn to sell your artwork and designs on Ipod cases, jewelry, skateboards, home decor, postage stamps, and hundreds of other products! In this hands-on workshop, Heidi will guide you through the steps to open your own store on Zazzle, upload a set of your images, and create at least five different products. Expert tips to design your products, write descriptions, maximize your profits, and use free social media tools to market your store. Sat 6/29 from noon to 3:00 pm. Fee: $45. Email:

Zazzle, honeybee design necktie

Zazzle, honeybee design necktie


Learn to create unique art with this exciting new product that combines the best qualities of fabric and paper. Lutradur looks, feels and folds like translucent paper and doesn’t tear or fray. It’s the perfect medium for a wide variety of mixed media art, crafting, and sewing. Sun 7/7 from noon to 3:00 pm.  Fee: $40 plus materials.  Email:

Interested in teaching? We’re always adding new instructors, just email me at


Grand Opening Village Shops and Galleries!

Start with a dream, add inspiration and a lot of luck, stir in hard work and sweat: lifting, carrying, arranging and rearranging, then combine with laughter and friends coming through big-time … and what do you get? We’ve got a brand new Village Shops and Galleries to show off at our grand opening, Saturday March 16th, from noon to 8 p.m. Please join us for wine and refreshments, music, great art, and lots more!

Village Shops and Galleries

Mixing the best of old and new, we’ve got vintage collectibles and antique furniture alongside brand new unique handmade art by amazingly talented (mostly local) artists and crafters. And we’re so excited to introduce our new gift shop featuring work crafted by independent artisans, including fine silver jewelry by designer Lis Mahnken of ME Designs

ME Designs fine silver jewelry

artful clothing and accessories by Michele Battise; wooden bowls, boxes and pens by David Earls;

David Earls' wooden bowls and pens

David Earls’ wooden bowls and pens

exquisitely designed and stitched quilts by Carolyn Earls;

Carolyn Earls' quilts; Heidi Rand's tote bags

mixed media and textile crafts and jewelry by Grace Taormina and Rachel Taormina; handcrafted soap by sassafras and Bubble Queen Soaps & Scents;

Bubble Queen soaps

and my own photo arts and craftsWe’re also proud to be the only place you can get the full line of collage artist Tamara Holland’s wonderful new line of inspirational greeting cards – and believe me, you will want one of each!

Tamara Holland's cards

Tamara Holland’s cards

The walls are bursting with color, from resident artist Mark Canepa’s metal artwork and paintings to hand-pulled linocut and woodblock prints by Rich Fowler, vivid mixed-media paintings by Rachel Taormina, large-format photographs by John Hanses, and much more!

Rich Fowler's prints

Rich Fowler’s prints

Looking for a classy, convenient meeting space for a private or public event? Searching for studio space? We have many options for rental -by the hour, day or longer. And it’s a dream come true for my co-manager Grace and myself to offer a wide variety of art workshops and classes in our brand new classroom, fully stocked with art supplies and equipment. We’re offering high-quality art and craft instruction at affordable prices in a range of subjects, for adults and children, and for all different skill levels.


The Village Shops is at 10330 San Pablo Avenue, El Cerrito, between Eureka and Stockton streets. There’s plenty of free parking. Starting March 16th, we’ll be open Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Are you an artist or crafter interested in learning about opportunities to show and sell your work, or to teach? If so, come on by to meet us and fill out an application.  Questions? Call (510) 525-5661 or email me at  

George’s Red-Hot Sinn-amon Soap

Yesterday was our sneak peek Open House at the gallery I’m involved with, The Village Shops and Galleries in El Cerrito. It was a wonderful day – but more about that in another blog post, because I have to tell you about the grand entrance George made midway through the day. If you know George at all, you know he has a wide range of interests and skills.

George and his friendFor the past several years, George has been making the most delicious chocolate truffles for me for Valentine’s Day.

George with trufflesSo you won’t be surprised to hear that when George strolled into the gallery holding this platter….

George with his Sin'amon red hots soap… I thought they were dark chocolate hearts. Indeed, all of George’s wonderful soaps look good enough to eat. But wow, these gleaming dark mahogany hearts … everyone there was ready to bite in!

George's Sin'amon Red-Hot heart soap

Even after he said they were soap some of us still wanted to take a nibble, they looked so scrumptious! And indeed, they are — delicious and luxurious on your body (and of course on a loved one’s body!) in the shower or a very sexy bath. He used the spiciest, best quality Watkins cinnamon for a deep, complex scent. Cinnamon soothes the skin and intoxicates the senses — what better combination for George’s very sexy soap?

George's soaps

Sneak Peek Open House!

If you made it to the ArtFirst! Holiday Show and Sale, you know what a wonderful space we were lucky to be able to hold it in. We rented space for the pop-up show from Mark Canepa, resident artist and owner of The Village Shops and Galleries10330 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. 

Mark Canepa's artwork

The show went so well that Mark and my fellow ArtFirst!er Grace Taormina and I decided to take The Village Shops to the next level. We’re busy plotting, planning and painting walls, and we’re very proud to announce that our Grand Opening will be on March 16th.

Grace Taormina

Mixed Media artwork by Grace Taormina

You won’t have to wait that long to see what we’re up to, because we’re holding a sneak peek Open House on Saturday February 9th from noon to 6:00 p.m., and you’re all invited! Come by for a preview of what we’re working on: new art, a new gift shop with a wide range of art and crafts, collectibles, and much more!

We’re also excited for you to check out our brand new classroom, where experienced teachers will offer a wide variety of workshops and classes for children and adults of all skill levels and interests. We’ll take you on a tour of the event and studio spaces that will be available for individuals or groups to rent.

Valentine by Heidi Rand

In honor of Valentine’s Day we’ll also have some great surprise activities, including a “make and take” where you can make a free valentine for your sweetie.

And if you’re an artist or crafter interested in learning about opportunities to show and sell your work, or to teach, come on by to meet us and fill out an application.

Questions? Call (510) 525-5661 or email me at