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9 Things I Learned from My First Art Sale Open House

rynski magic garden

Selling art online is dandy, but it doesn’t give folks a hands-on feel for your work. Getting your art into local ships is OK, but retailers tend to take a hefty chunk of your profits. Sitting in your living room and hoping people will magically order things through osmosis doesn’t work (I tried). This leaves one more option: holding your very own art sale open house.

Since my backyard doubles as my studio, triples as my serene oasis, and is already packed with examples of my art, I agreed to give it a whirl when a pal suggested it. And I’m glad I did, as the Rynski Magic Garden Open House was officially a success (wheee!).

I’m extending a massive thank you to all who came by – and a handful of tips for anyone who may want to give an art sale open house a go in your own home or yard.

Take Photos of the Event

While I took several shots of my backyard setup before the event, the camera was promptly forgotten once the open house was in full swing. Oops. Photos of the event serve several purposes. They give you:

  • A way to publicly say “thanks!” to those who attended, by posting their pix online
  • Plenty of people to tag on Facebook
  • A reminder of how you arranged things in case you want to do it again
  • Automatic blog content following the event
  • Fond memories you can pass down to your grandchildren (or grand-dogs, as the case may be)

My apologies I am unable to tag any of the fabulous attendees on FB. And I forgot to get a pic of the food table or my shirts hanging in a tree.

Scan for Dog Poop – Twice

While you can skip this step if you don’t have dogs and the event is not being held in your backyard, you still want to make sure things are spic and span. Hose down your patio furniture. Spruce up any artwork that looks like it’s been hit by a Mack truck.

And for goodness sake, make sure anything you’re selling is free of dust, dirt, detritus and other debris. No one is going to want to buy something that looks like it’s been stored in the corner of the basement since 1982.

voodoo dolls
lucky voodoo dolls

Ask Someone to Help You

Sharon gets a huge thanks here, as it’s essential to have someone on hand who can help man the event. Not only did she bring a bastion of delicious snacks, but she moved them into the house when an equal bastion of flies discovered them. She likewise helped showcase my work, answer questions, provide suggestions and otherwise was a joy to have on hand.

In addition to about 62 rounds of verbal thank yous, I’m also giving her a “No Soliciting” sign as tangible appreciation for her assistance.

Choose Snacks that Make a Good Stir-Fry

Speaking of snacks, we had waaaaay too many of them. Take note of when you’re holding your open house. Ours was 1 to 3 p.m., or right after lunchtime. Guess people weren’t all that hungry. Or maybe they just saw the bastion of flies moving in (kidding). In any event, the leftover shrimp and veggie platters made a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry.

Oh yeah, I also ended up with a full pot of coffee no one touched. It may have helped if I would have remembered to actually offer it to the guests. Make that a scrumptious shrimp and veggie stir-fry with a big caffeine buzz.

rynski business cards
business card magnets

Don’t Forget the Coffee, or The Other Extras

In addition to forgetting about the coffee and as-it-happened photos, I also have a slew of business card magnets I meant to hand out with every purchase. Here comes another oops. Thankfully, some folks did notice them and I was able to hand out a few. Like the shrimp and veggies, they certainly won’t go to waste. But it’s still a good idea to make a checklist of things you don’t want to forget as the event is going on.

Be Prepared to Sell the Shirt off Your Back

Literally. Sharon and I both wore Rynski shirts, along with a sign that said: “Want the shirt off my back? Order one today!” While the open house was mainly geared toward taking orders for art I would then create, I was also OK selling a shirt and art right off the trees.

Sure, there was one item made out of junk drawer debris I wasn’t ready to part with, but I was delighted one of the coolest gals I know wanted to provide several other items with a new home on the spot.

rynski art
stocking stuffer alley

Get a PayPal Card Swiper

Officially known as PayPal Here, the setup involves downloading the PayPal Here app, ordering a card swiper from PayPal, and then being able to take credit or debit cards for payments. This is an absolute must in a society where many of us carry very little cash.

And I would have purchased at least four knit scarves and hats at the Nordic Fair instead of the single head warmer if the Nordic Fair lady would have had one.

Have a Catalog of Your Work On Hand

Having photos of your work that’s for sale online, custom orders you sold, and other goodies that may not be on hand is a huge help for giving your attendees a better feel for all you can do. Taking the time to sift through your photo files and print one up will definitely be worth your while.

art open house tucson
yard sign display

Follow Up Promptly

Post-event follow-up needs to be done pronto. Heck, I’m writing this blog the evening after the open house – even before I unwind with the final season of “Sons of Anarchy.”

I’m also about to pick the winner of the Rynski Magic Garden Open House raffle and then pen a “Thank you” email to all who entered and attended. You want to keep the momentum going, connect while the event is fresh in people’s minds, and make sure they know how much they’re appreciated.

Don’t worry. The excitement of a successful open house will help you achieve all of the above soon after the event. Well, that, and the full pot of coffee you forgot to serve to your guests.

Thanks again to all who came by. You absolutely rock!

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Art for Healing Grief (Just Not on a Workday)

sawyer chasing demons velvet grief painting

One of my bright ideas turned into one of the dumbest things I ever tried to do. The bright idea was to start my next art therapy project one morning before work. The topic was “spirit,” which I thought was innocuous enough, no?

Since Mom is cleaning out her basement and had sent me a box of greeting cards she’s saved since I was born, I thought the cards would make a fantastic collage to show the “spirit” of love, the “spirit” of family and friends, and the “spirit” of the many dearly departed whose signatures punctuated the well wishes.

Twenty minutes into the project, I was a weeping mess.

It only got worse from there.

Dang Sneaky Grief

Let’s just say the topic of “spirit” quickly turned into a study in grief. I was grieving my grandparents, great-grandparents, and people I didn’t even remember who signed some of the cards because I was sure they must be dead by now. I was grieving my dad. The departed family cat. The lost innocence of every baby that eventually grows up and becomes yet another cynical adult.

That project is currently on hold, as I still had a lineup of work assignments to complete for the week. But I did learn a valuable lesson: art is great for healing grief – just not on a workday.

Thinking back, every grief-related art project had been painful while it was in the works. Several that immediately come to mind include:

  • A velvet painting of dog Sawyer chasing demons, created a year after he died
  • A velvet painting of dog Dini as an angel bumblebee, created several months after she died
  • A happy heaven spider created from my dad’s hip and knee replacement parts, created several months after he died
  • An ugly green and black painting thing with the word “grief” created while Sawyer was dying

Aside from the painting that actually reads “grief,” the other projects weren’t created with the intention of healing grief. It just kind of worked out that way.

They were immensely painful as they were being created. But once I allowed the pain to fully and wholly flood the entire essence of my being as I was actively creating, it somehow lessened.

Art has a groovy way of providing relief from depression, anxiety, fears, anger – and yes, even grief. Even when I’m creating memorial art for others, I can somehow feel the load of woes lightening.

But Doesn’t It Hurt to Look at the Grief Art?

Once the flood of grief has saturated your soul and the tide eventually subsides, you can even bear to look at the art you’ve created during that dark moment. Heck, you can even come to enjoy it.

  • Sawyer chasing demons is now the central piece in the living room, complete with its own personal light, making me happy that Sawyer found something to do in heaven
  • Dini on velvet buzzes happily beneath Sawyer, as she always was the second fiddle
  • Dad’s happy heavenly spider sits pertly near my nightstand, reminding me Dad’s spirit is with me from the moment I wake up to the moment I head to bed
  • The ugly green and black grief painting thing? That’s in the garage somewhere. I think. It was painful to look at. Not because it brought back the memories of grieving, but just because it’s so dang ugly.

I’m sure my finished “spirit” collage will likewise find its place when complete. Its next installment will just have to wait for a day where I don’t have six assignments lined up to compete with my wailing and tears.

dog dini on velvet memorial pet painting
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Art Therapy Project: COMMUNITY = Lionfish

Here comes another art therapy project, which always produces some insightful stuff.

  • Topic: Community
  • Result: Lionfish made of metal, glue, hardened clay blob, screw eyes and paint

Artist comments:

I thought I was being really clever here, creating a fish where each spike/fin thing represented a different community to which I belong. We got the artist community, writer community, Reiki community, girlfriend community, sister community, daughter community, dog lover community and so on.

When I was done, however, I realized my creation for the topic of community was a poisonous fish that pretty much kills anything that comes near it. Hahahahhaah.

Told you this was insightful stuff.

Too bad I’ll be missing the group session on this topic as I’ll be out of town. What a doozy that one would be!


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