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December 07 2013
Five years ago I, along with about 6 or 7 other artists, responded to a call in the local paper for people interested in forming a studio tour group. Over the years our group slowly grew to the current 14 artists, and we learned much along the way about timing, formatting, marketing, organizing and managing this undertaking. Although artists have come and gone, we've been lucky to have a core group of dedicated members that have taken on the responsibilities to keep things going.

The main event for the Nanoose Bay Studio Tour group is our three-day tour on Thanksgiving weekend in October, and this year I stepped back from active involvement with the management and organization of the event and determined simply to enjoy it as an artist welcoming visitors to my studio.

While I don't generally produce paintings specifically for the tour, it is obviously important to have a good sampling of original paintings on display. Selling an expensive original piece is rare during a studio tour. Usually buyers need more time to consider a major purchase, so the main purpose, it seems to me, is to introduce the type of work an artist does, and provide an opportunity for people to meet the artists and see where and how the work is done. Smaller (i.e. less expensive) items such as prints and cards will sell, so the weeks before the tour are spent making prints, mounting and packaging them. I spend a few evenings in front of the television cutting, pasting, and hand printing text to my cards. It may be necessary to have framing installed on some paintings once I've decided which ones will be displayed, and a week before the tour I hang everything up on the walls of my studio, framed prints on one wall, originals on another, cards in the rotating rack, and matted prints in the display stand. I remove furniture that is not needed as sometimes there can be up to a dozen visitors jammed into that small space at the same time. I make sure I've got coins for change in my cash box and my credit card receipt forms in a convenient place. Any cobwebs in the washroom corners are swept away, and I confirm there is a supply of toilet paper on the roll.

My studio is the upper floor of a 2-storey boat house down beside the beach, about 50 or 60 feet below the level of the house, accessed by a zigzagging stairway comprised of 75 steps, so not everyone that comes to visit actually tackles those stairs. Bad knees, hips, and hearts discourage the attempt by many seniors, but nothing I can do about that. The people that do make the trek rave about the setting and the view, and I suspect some of the visitors come to see the view as much as to see any art.

This year we were blessed with beautiful weather for the tour. I put my "OPEN" sign out, complete with three helium-filled balloons, on the shoulder of the road and go down at 10 am to open up. I put two CD's in the stereo playing contemporary classical music by Marjan Mosetich, and look out the window at a sea lion splashing about with a large fish he has caught as he thrashes it from side to side to break it into smaller pieces. Gulls screech and scramble to grab loose morsels. An eagle soars overhead to the other side of the bay. Then I hear voices. I step into the doorway and look up to see the heads of two people above the salal bushes covering the slope coming down the stairs. This tour has started.
Posted by Peter Kiidumae at 08:14 1 Comments