Artist Blog by Sheep Incognito Artist Conni Togel

Category Archives: Traveling Flock of Maaahem

Sheep In Mount Dora, FL – and What’s Wrong With The Art Market Lately?

A Trip to Florida in February, and Why Some Places Won’t, and Another Place Will Have Sheep This Year

After a short hiatus from the center of Florida last Winter, the Sheep Incognito are heading back to the always fabulous Mount Dora Fine Arts Festival on the first weekend in February!

This will be the kick-off of a year of “sheepishness” near and far – we’ve already booked shows from North Carolina to Colorado, from Florida to New York, and many places in between.

For this year, some of our favorite shows will have a different artist in our spot – some shows like mixing things up every year, so Mount Dora will have us in Booth A-029 this time.

For a few other big shows this year, scheduling conflicts due to some family events that fall on those exact weekends will have me being home with family instead. Not a bad thing at all. It will give all of you a chance to support some of the other fantastic artists there this year – keep art alive, by purchasing directly from the artist!
With the influx of “junk art” – the big, cheap, canvas prints with gel-medium as texture, that you can buy for little money at home furnishing stores, craft stores, and discount clothing stores – many artists have noticed a downturn in sales and interest from the people attending even the juried fine art shows.

Galleries have closed. Art programs in schools have been slashed. More and more of the cheap import art is cropping up everywhere. Shows are being added at a dizzying pace. Existing shows are adding more and more booths (some even adding on booths for “commercial” wares – gutter guards, windows, mass-produced wares, etc.) that increase their income, but also water down the sales for the artists at the same time. Booth fees have gone up, hotels are more expensive, etc…
Very concerning trends, and not easy to cope with as a full-time professional artist.

Nonetheless, I will continue to paint – because, it’s my game, not theirs. And, I love what I do – whether I am traveling or not.

So, to make things a bit easier, I’ve also begun adding painting lessons in my studio – great fun to do, relaxing, no mass-produced wares to compete with, and, best of all, new friends to make.

Come join me there sometime! Or, check my schedule every now and then to see where I will be – if we are close to where you are, we can meet in that area somewhere to do some “paint flinging” together. If you like painting outdoors, we can do something out in the Rocky Mountain National Park this June – we’ll be there, and it would be awesome to paint some beautiful landscapes there together!

Either way – keep checking the schedule – though we might not be at some of the big juried shows this year, we’ve added a few fun Celtic/Irish/Highlands Festivals this year, and as always, our big Sheep & Wool Festivals are always a blast as well!

As always, I LOVE hearing your comments and ideas for new Sheep Incognito paintings – leave a comment, share this post, and thanks for being part of the Sheep Incognito Flockies in the meadow of life!

Also, if you are in connections with a decent children’s book publisher by chance, I would love to have some feedback for the two books I’ve written and am illustrating as well. They do involve sheep in some capacity, but do appeal to the general market more than the sheep arena.

Here is my newest painting:
“The Great Flock Defender” click this link to order prints of it!

The Great Flock Defender Sheep Incognito Art

The Great Flock Defender Sheep Incognito Art

 

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NEW! Fellowsheep Of The Ring Mugs!

 The Wanderers Of Maaahem On A Cute Coffee/Tea Mug of “Fellowsheep Of The Ring”

Just added the “Fellowsheep of the Ring” mugs to my website today – many of “ewe” have been asking about these, so here ya go!

These mugs are a great way to get your smile on with your first #cupofjoe in the morning.
They also make fantastic gifts for the nerdy one in your life, or for your own Lord Of the Rings collection – just a little sheepishness for your life!

https://charisma-art.com/nurse-curse-mug

 

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Dare to be Different Today!

Today is the day to change the world!

Sitting on the Metro in D.C. yesterday, I noticed that nobody on the train made eye-contact with anybody else. Nobody paid attention to the others. Nobody struck up a conversation. Nobody smiled.

And yet, there we were, only inches from each other, in a drab, cold, dirty environment – sharing the same breathing space, passing through each other’s lives for those few moments shared in time.

Of course, the argument could be made, that people are obnoxious, rude, cold, unfriendly, etc.
To me though, it seems that people are afraid – afraid of each other, afraid to smile, afraid to connect, afraid to step out of the comfort zone, afraid that maybe the other person might not smile back, might scowl at being engaged in a conversation, or and interaction of any kind.

Each in their own world. Each world lived in that same cold, dirty, bouncy tube running through tunnels of concrete.

A very sad, and very lonely world.

The whole ride, I was imagining the interior of the train transformed by happy colors – a beautiful sky painted on the ceiling. The handrails decorated with polka-dots and happy colors. The carpets replaced by something resembling a field of flowers. Happy music playing. The gaudy neon lights replaced with warm daylight bulbs. The cars clean, and fresh smelling. And the people, happy to ride home to their loved ones, carrying on conversations about their days at the jobs they love, or with people they enjoy being around.
Smiling at each other. Caring about the one girl that sits there all alone with a sad look on her face. Caring about the two girls from “The Hood”, whose parents obviously don’t care to know where they are or what they are doing. Caring about the young yuppie professional, with the new wedding band on his finger, and his new laptop case on his shoulder, with a nervous look on his face.

We have become so accustomed to being afraid of each other, that we have forgotten very much how much alike we are with all our fears, our concerns, and our lives in general.

It’s time to make a difference – act different – Dare to be Different!

Smile at someone.
Talk with someone.
Care about someone.

The world is never changed for the better when we don’t make the effort to make it better, each individual in their own living space.

So – put on your superhero cape, don the mask, and go fly!
You might be the only person that has smiled at that other person for the past few weeks. You might be surprised at what this does for them – and you!

Dare To Be Different Sheep Art Print
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What We Do When We Aren’t Doing Things

Inspiration for the day

What We Do When We Aren’t Doing Things

As an artist, downtime rarely happens at all – whether we are driving on days between shows, or printing between shows at home, or getting set up for the next show, we hardly ever just sit and contemplate what we might want to be doing with our time.
So what DO we do when we aren’t working?
Working.
But, because work is fun, it has become not only work, but a hobby, a life-style, and the things we love to do most. We usually will walk along the beach looking for findings for jewelry creations. Or look around the desert for some cool rocks to wire-wrap or include in a new mixed-media piece of art. Or we will be looking at other artists’ websites to see how other artists create. Or, we are watching inspiring movies that usually spark new ideas.

It has become a lifestyle to see the little unseen things in the world. A little girl pitching a fit outside our booth becomes a little grumpy flowerfairy from the woodlands. The sunset becomes the color palette for a new landscape painting. The store we are visiting to purchase a clothing item becomes the inspiration for a new texture we want to add to some paintings…so while yes, we will occasionally sit on our behinds, we draw inspiration from everything life surrounds us with.
Happy things that make us smile. Stupid people that make us cringe. Stories that make us laugh. Clothing that transforms the wearing one. All are now part of what makes our downtime into worktime – we never clock out.
Which is why we love being artists.

Inspiration for the day

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Alpharetta Arts Streetfest 2015 – with Sheep!

SHEEP INCOGNITO IN ALPHARETTA, GA FOR ARTS STREETFEST 2015

 

We just got a note that we have been accepted into the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest for 2015 – so come visit one of Atlanta area’s sweet gems of a town, and get your smile on with the Sheep Incognito flock!

Mark the dates:

April 18 and 19, 2015, on South Main, Alpharetta, GA

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SHEETS MATTER.

Every now and then, life has a way of reminding you that little things do, in fact matter.

Things your mom would tell you to “Never Mind” or “Get Over it”. Things like the salt in the shaker going solid so nothing comes out.
The bread you had in the oven for dinner being slightly burnt, because you took the time to watch a quick youtube funny with your teenager.
Or, best example: hotel sheets that don’t fit the bed.

To an outsider mundane, irrelevant occurrences.

The sheet thing – it’s a thing.
When you are forced to join the “carnies” of the art world – the art show road warriors – you get a whole different perspective of what the real “art world” is like for thousands of american artists.

Did you know, that quite a few of these people come to the art festivals from hundreds of miles away?
Did you know that they often have to set up their tents and displays either late at night or before dawn the day of the festival?
Did you know that many of them sleep in their van or even their little cars to save on hotel costs?
Did you know most of them eat snacks all day, because they can’t leave their booth to go get food – or, if they do, the food choices might be limited to fair food like funnelcakes or chicken on a stick. For every day of the festival. At $7-$15 a meal.
Did you know that most of those sleeping in their vehicles don’t get to shower after a long day of set up, show times in the sun, talking with people all day, and the going to sleep in their overheated cars?
Did you know that booth spaces at art shows cost between $100 and $1200 to rent at the art festivals?
Did you know that often the only bathrooms available to artists are the portapotties at the festival? Did you know that often there isn’t even water to wash hands afterwards?
Did you know that artist often get robbed, at shows, with security present?
My car was broken into twice in four days, with important paperwork two gps systems stolen from it a few years ago. Another time, a lady tried walking off with the money from four shows in my computer bag – she opened the car door and tried walking away with it, while I was loading the trunk.
This, at a show in one of America’s wealthiest towns.

It explains why so many of us artists have vans or rv’s or even tents to sleep in while we are on the road. And canisters of water and hand sanitizer.

This past weekend I joined the ranks of the “nomadic tent dwelling artist” species – the rv was being difficult again, so I opted to avoid paying $129 per night at the only hotel in walking distance of the show, and bring a small tent along instead.
Camping on the grounds was $40 for the weekend.

Only, I grabbed the wrong one from home – it was the smallest we had, but it also turned out to be the one with the shattered tent poles, and apparently also the one tent some cat or tge other had decided to use for a marking spot.
This I found out after a long drive here, a long setup of booth, and a scuttle to fix the broken tent poles with a branch and some duct tape.

Did you know that duct tape fixes a multitude of things, but it does not remove the smell of cat pee? I learned a lot this weekend.

At night, i also learned that I am highly allergic to something in the grass or the tent I was sleeping in – breathing problems at night in a field in a tent that smells like a litterbox after a long day don’t make the art world look more attractive.

So – three nights of that situation got me through the art festival (which, it turned out was more of a craft festival instead). After the show ended, i decided to splurge on a hotel room – a clean soft bed, with a clean shower, and free breakfast within walking distance sounded great.

The price, I was told: $166 for the night, but, special discounted rate is $99.
Usually, my max for hotels is $89 per night – higher than that, and the car becomes a viable option for sleeping in.
But – with no other hotels to choose from and the lobby looked clean and comfy, I got a room.
Everything looked tidy – towels and bathroom clean.

The shower felt great.

But the sheets!
Not the crisp, white, tightly tucked sheets of a $99/night hotel, but the $35/per night “you will get mugged, raped and hacked into pieces if you sleep in this motel” kind of sheets. The pillows: flattened pieces of old quilt batting or possibly up-cycled chair cushions from a hundred year old church pew (it was hard to tell – almost got a concussion when flopping onto the pillow).
The blankets: half unraveled,musty smelling objects (not unrelated to the smell in my tent, with the additional “flavor” of old nicotine).

The sheets!
Not tucked in sheets. Not cotton sheets.Not fitted sheets. But a flimsy, somewhat polyester type flat sheet that attempted to cover the mattress and the protruding very worn yellow foam mattress pad.
No matter how careful you lay down on that kind of thing, you will find yourself engulfed in a twist of sheets, blankets, unsavory bedspreads, and nicotine smell.
Which will
Keep you awake all night, regardless of your level of exhaustion.

It is most certainly not the ingredient for resting up after fighting the war for survival for three days…

$99 for a night like that – Did you know that a halfway decent sheet set with a fitted sheet can be purchased for around $40?

So…

– if you are in the hotel business: the sheets matter. A lot. Get good ones, or charge only what your bedding is worth.

– if you are an art festival goer: your purchase of someone’s artwork matters. A Lot. It might just pay for a fitted sheet, or just a flushing toilet for the artist for a night. But it matters.

– if you are a show promoter or organizer: charging the artist $40 extra for a booth fee or electrical service, without providing humane sanitary conditions for the artists to work in, matters.

– if you are a city hosting an art fair and you decide to charge $100 parking fees from the artists that are already paying hundreds just to be there – please give the hotels a tax break so they can put that money towards good sheets on their beds.

Because: sheets matter.

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MDSW 2014 – Are We There Yet?

Maaahem hits the Sheep Incognito Flock again – OyVey.

Why is it, that despite our best efforts, the Sheep Incognito flock seems to have a knack for making sure life stays exciting around here?

This time, we actually got everything loaded into the trailer on time — we just had the rv repaired, and managed to have it two days ahead of time, rather than last minute — the weather was just right for working outside to load — we had everything ready to go — and, we even managed to pull out of the driveway on time. We made it through Atlanta rush-hour without too much trouble, and got quite a ways up the road.

Until there was a pop, and a loud roaring from the engine – which sounded very much like the exhaust leak we had just gotten repaired.

We pulled into a truck stop, and discovered that in fact the repaired part had completely disconnected from the engine – something about an EGR line…so we spent the remainder of the evening looking for someone to come fix this for us. Friday night. Everybody is closed. And we are supposed to be in Franklin, Tennessee about two hours away about an hour ago. Not good.

After finally giving up on getting things done for the night, we discovered the wheel on the Trailer had miraculously decided NOT to fall off while we were driving – definitely a silver lining to the situation, as we apparently are not good learners, and did not grease the bearings on time to prevent the damage.

So we missed our show in Franklin – that is a financial problem, along with a status problem for next year’s show. No-shows are not looked kindly upon, not matter what the circumstances are, I believe.

So we’ve been sitting here at the truck stop since Friday evening – we cannot stomach any more food at Denny’s. And we are still waiting for parts to get the car fixed – downside of older car: no parts available.

We are supposed to be in Maryland for the MD Sheep & Woool Festival on Friday. All fingers crossed for that.

In the meantime, we have sat under a huge oak tree playing cards, watching the birds, meeting other rv’ers, eating apple crumble with coffee, and watching Netflix – such a hard life.
So today we work a bit – get things ready for Maryland, and wait to see if the guy that is supposedly picking up the part at 2:30 this afternoon actually shows up to get us rolling again.

The Sheep Incognito flock of paintings in the trailer are just patiently waiting to meet new friends – we will be doing our best to get there one way or another – we might need to wind up renting a van or somesuch…

Off to have breakfast – dry cereal, no Denny’s.

 

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Another Trip to Columbia, SC Next Week – Spring Craftsmen’s Classic

Springtime Madness is about to start!

Next weekend we will be hitting the road again for a series of Spring shows – we are more than ready for some warmer temperatures, not having to scrape the windows on the car in the morning, and getting to have a cup of coffee outside in the sunshine.

Which makes it quite a nice thing, that the Spring Craftsmen’s Classic in Columbia is right around the corner. It is always one of our nicer shows to participate in – much like a good family reunion, complete with lots of laughs, a tad of drama, and our favorite stalkers, all in one venue: the SC Fairgrounds.

There will be a huge range of handmade, original, creative artwork and crafts there – some good ole favorites, and some new, cutting edge things.

I will be unleashing some new Sheep Incognito paintings and prints there as well – gotta enlarge the flock, because much like a real flock of sheep, they just keep multiplying.

New kids (or lambs) on the block:

Into The Hills – a rather large landscape in oils, complete with my famous poppies and blue trees.

Into The Hills - Oils on Canvas

Into The Hills – Oils on Canvas

 

Pompous Ass

Pompous Ass - acrylics on canvas

Pompous Ass – acrylics on canvas

 

There might be a few others hanging out for the first time as well – ya just never know, with sheep.

Of course, while we are in Columbia, we will also be checking out the local eateries – our favorite part of any of our tours. From what I remember, there is an incredible sandwich shop with lines out the door in town – and, a brewery that has quite a large range of craft beers to try.

Hotels in town? the Marriott downtown seemed to be a pretty nice place to stay – the price was better than some of the other midrange hotels, they were quite good about customer service (computers down? Free dinner, free drinks while they work on the problem). One downside: the noise level on Saturday night out on the street was a bit distracting after a long day at the show – but then again: maybe we should have joined the party instead.

So if you need something to inspire you next weekend, come visit us at the Sheep Incognito booth at the Craftsmen’s Classics in Columbia, SC – we’d love to introduce you to some new sheepish smiles! (And if we are really lucky, our favorite stalker will be there with his camera again – maybe we can all photobomb together :o)) )

 

 

 

 

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The Big Ann Arbor Art Fair

We finally made it into the famed Ann Arbor Art Fair – we’ve heard soooo many good things about it, we simply had to give it a try.

It is one of the top three art fairs in the nation, certainly ome of the biggest with over 1200 artists exhibiting their work.

Today is the first day – it is Wednesday – it is Very warm today. But apparently that is not a deterrent for the visitors, they are still meandering, even though it’s in the mid nineties.

Us? We are camped in front of the fan, which seems to only make hot air. Someone turn off the heater!

If you are looking for us in Ann Arbor- look on Liberty Street, in front of Jack’s, between 4th $ 5th Streets, Booth 274.

Back to the fan – it’S what is helping us survive

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When Sheep Leave the Fold

One of the more difficult things about being an artist selling your own work, is the letting go process when a painting sells.

Not only have you put your inner mind and thinking into a visual statement for everybody to see, but you also are srending that statement out into the world on its own, without hope of getting to revise it or even explain it.

Of course, this makes artist very vulnerable – but it also is the one thing that makes art so intriguing, and it is what lets art critics earn a living: they get to come up with what they think the artist was intending to say out loud in his/her artwork.
Which of course is, in very many cases, very largely guesswork and a big dose of speculation combined with imagination.

Unless the artist has put his intentions and the mind behind the work into words somewhere, all one can go by is the visual statements the artist has made.

This is why I find “the serious art worrld” so entertaining in many cases: who is to say, what was going through Piccasso’s mind when he decided to draw people out of proportion with really screwed up facial elements?
Who says Pollock wasn’t just flinging paint at a canvas, just because it was a fun thing to do on a Thursday night?

Hopefully someday there will be some art critics standing beside my “Haulin’ Ass” painting, trying to interpret it in some way other than it was intended – that is a tour in the museum I really would love to be on…

It will be the perfect opportunity to play BS Bingo – mark off the words as the art critics and tour guides mention them; feel free to laugh loudly, as none of these were part of the statement I was making with “Haulin’ Ass”:

“Social Influence”
“Metaphor”
“Subversive Political Commentary”
“Artist’s Intentions”
“Deeper Meaning”
“Metaphysical Impact”
Etc….

Add more art world bs words liberally, and see how many you can find in the review and critics’s speaches…

Don’t forget to yell BINGO! at the end….

Too bad I won’t be around for that…the main reason dead artists are more famous than live artists, is that they shut up about what is being said about their work….

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