Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Show Review: Spring Showcase of Arts & Crafts

My first formal show of the year was NSSEO foundation's Annual Spring Showcase of Arts and Crafts in Palatine, IL. The show is being put on by a non-profit aiding developmentally challenged kids and I was glad to be at the show starting this year's line up in March. 

Spring Showcase of Arts & Crafts, Booth #73
The show is in its 45th year and it seems to be losing its audience. It was very slow for both the days, in the afternoons especially. My booth was located on the stage in the gym and the four steps up to the stage was a big barrier. Most people did not want to climb up and hence all the stuff I had on the table, print bins and note card rack was mostly ignored. The advantage was that the paintings were visible from all over the room. I did manage to see a few trivets, a set of coasters and some cards. Definitely made up the booth fee over two days and may be recovered my cost of supplies. But there was no profit in the end. I was not ready with price tags to put by the paintings and hardly anyone even asked for the prices. There was one lady who loved my Chicago skyline painting and that was about it. The best part was one of my previous collectors stopped by with a friend and as always, its lovely to see my collectors and hearing how much they enjoy having one of my paintings at their home!

I am thankful to the organizers for trying to make the best of this event. There was a separate parking for the artists and shuttle buses to transport us. Free coffee was available throughout the day for artists and kids was bringing around food for sale. The organizers did listen to our concerns and are not going to put any one up on the stage next year. I know a few jewelers did pretty good in the show and some other crafters, but the photographer next to me did not and another painter also did not (though I have no clue on what is good - for them). It's questionable if I will come back next year!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Painting on a Whim

I painted this Mandala last Thursday night as I was waiting for one of my other paintings to dry. I got a little restless just waiting and pulled out this canvas that was already prepped with the brown earthy background. This is one of my favorite color combinations to paint - brown, gold, white, silver & turquoise. Sometimes creativity flows - fast :)

Earth Mandala, 2014. 12" x 12", 
Textured henna style acrylics mandala painting on canvas with mirror. 
© Bala Thiagarajan, 2014.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Earrings for Sale

I just posted this album with about 30+ earrings I made yesterday. These are made for consignment at a local salon, but wanted to give my friends and fans the first go at them. They are $12 + shipping (will be sold for $16.50 at the salon). Send me a message if any of these interest you!

The pictures were taken late night with my iphone and hence the poor quality. The earrings are  mad with high quality beads, crystals & spacers with hypoallergenic materials. They are actually pretty bright & gorgeous in person :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Feeling Accomplished

Golden Tree, 2014 was the 200th painting I have sent to a new home (including everything sold / donated / gifted) since February, 2012. The painting sold at the Holiday Sampler Fair in Elk Grove Village on Sunday. A big thank you to all my friends and fans for being a part of this incredible journey! 

Golden Tree, 2014. 12" x 16", Henna style textured acrylics abstract painting on canvas. 
(c) Bala Thiagarajan, 2014. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Latest Painting: Goldfinch

The Goldfinch painting I have been working on this week is all finished and is available for purchase.

Waiting, 2014. 11" x 14", Textured henna style acrylic animal painting on canvas. 
© Bala Thiagarajan, 2014

This is a painting I have re-worked from an earlier version I did when I first started playing with acrylics about 4 years back. I have always felt that the initial one lacked the sparkle, though I liked the composition and the background color. 

The first step in the re-work was to outline the new finch, showing its back with more colors. Then I worked on the branches, adding textured lines in burnt sienna and metallic copper. The buds were updated with a shade of fuchsia & deep rose, and with bright green. I added a lot of molding paste to the finch outline to build up the texture. I want to work more on this line and create more depth in later works. 

Next came the colors and the textures. I left part of the original finch in the painting and thought it would be nice to show the two males as competing (establishing territories) - I am a bio geek, what can I say! But the hubby insisted he needs to go & a couple of friends on facebook suggested the same. So away he flew, leaving the entire tree to the new comer :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

2015 Calendars

2015 Art by Bala calendars are almost here and will be shipped starting Nov 4! It is Animal Paintings themed, with high resolution images of 14 of my henna style textured animal paintings. Printed on high quality premium glossy card stock paper and measures 8.5" x 11". There is also room to write on the dates. Only $15 + $3 shipping within US. Get yours today!

You can now purchase them directly from my website!
Click the link here:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Week in Review

Like all artists, I go through the frustration of people around me assuming that I have a lot of "free time" in my hands since I "work" from home. Mostly I have gotten around to ignoring comments like "you are painting as a hobby" or "its not like you have a job", sometimes I put my foot down and say, well it might be easier if I have a job, but instead I run a business! This week in review - actually just the last 3 days and this morning, is to give an idea on what it takes to be a professional artist these days.

Monday was cleaning day in the studio: I moved all the stuff around that needed to, filled up the trash can, cleared all the tables so I can start my coasters project next week, organized all the paints, cleaned brushes & palettes. When S got back from work, he helped with vacuuming the place & re-do the carpets and floor coverings. 

I had to finish a large 36"x48" commissioned painting & ship it this week - I was waiting to hear from the client for the go ahead to put the sealant coating and when it came through, here are some of the finishing steps:
Drying on the Easel
  • On Monday, I removed all the sketch lines that were still visible
  • On Tuesday morning I did a second coat of black gesso on the sides and did one coat of sealant
  • On Wednesday morning I did a second coat of sealant, & signed on the back
  • Tonight I have to buy hangers with double screws for it and attach them
  • Tomorrow I have to cling wrap it and take it to UPS for more packing & shipping.
  • I also spent time FB messaging with the client

I have also re-started and finished this painting of a name on a cabinet door for a little one, a much delayed present, and need to have it ready by Monday. As of now, it is waiting for a second coat of sealant and needs to be wired on the back.
I had another friend bring by this Krishna statue for a little fixing that took a good chunk of an hour on Tuesday. This is one of those instances when a good 2 days worth of work for which I get paid, could restore this beautiful piece. But this is the best I could afford to do during a crazy week. (I have a policy of not doing unpaid professional work, but sometimes find myself making concessions for friends).
  • Time spent on phone calls and chatting with the friend during drop-off

Here is another commissioned painting that is in progress that I have hardly managed to make much progress on in the last couple of weeks. I did put two base coats of gold color on the birds this week. It has been staring at me from the table evoking a little guilt every now and then! At least I am not on a deadline to get it done in the next week or so.

I was hoping to get this dragonfly painting completed for my last outdoor show of the season this weekend, but that's not going to happen! Oh, dragonfly has to wait a couple more weeks for some flowers & leaves to appear.
  • Time spent messaging with a potentially interested client regarding this painting

And on Tuesday I painted these two wooden planks with black gesso (as I was working on the large piece) and yesterday they got these color coats. Now they are also staring at me from the table, waiting to be painted with geckos.

In addition to all these - I applied for two holiday shows (filled out applications, wrote checks, mailed them, worked on editing and sending pictures for jury by email), followed up on another application from 2 weeks back, posted a few pictures on FB, updated my website with the Sugar Skull painting finished last week (, planned for a holiday open house at my house -- for this I researched printing door hangers and distributing in the neighborhood / using the USPS small business promotion options to send out postcards -- all till S came home and vetoed the idea of the open house! Not to mention the 200 notecards I ordered this week during a sale at the printers, updated my inventory of notecards & prints, updated my newsletter mailing list and work on a template &  a plan to send one out next week (you can sign up here:

I am not complaining, but trying to explain that in addition to the time I actually spend holding a brush or playing with paint in the studio, there is a ton of other responsibilities that goes with being a professional artist. Unless I invest time in marketing, I cannot put my art in front of people who appreciate them or can afford to buy them. Then there is the element of networking - though I am not doing much of it offline, there is still time spent online to connect with people. There is always social media that takes a good amount of time for promoting the works. I also have to spend time researching what I am going to work on next - ideally creating sketches for the flowers on the dragonfly painting, and ideas for the geckos. 

Hopefully I have now managed to convince you a little bit to not ask me about my "free time" or "hobby" :) 

Off I go to prepare lunch!