Monthly Archives: November 2013

Coupling, 9th Juried Exhibition

Coupling, Ninth Annual Juried Exhibition, Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks

Coupling, Ninth Annual Juried Exhibition, Off the Wall Gallery at Dirty Franks, 13th and Pine Streets, Philadelphia. November 24th through December 27th, 2013. Artist reception and awards December 5, 2013, 7:00 – 10:00pm.

at Dirty Frank’s
NE Corner, 13th & Pine
Philadelphia, PA  19107
(215) 732-5010 (bar)
(484) 357-6440 (cell)
Philly’s pioneering alternative art space, since 1978.

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Social Media Salon

The Plastic Club, an artist’s club, studio and gallery, in Center City Philadelphia holds regular art salons to discuss art, critique each others work and learn new techniques. DoN was invited to give a presentation about Social Media and how artists can start using various on-line platforms to promote their art. We began the two hour discussion with the basics of social interactions:

Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch is a short, succinct description of you and your business. For example: “My name is DoN Brewer, I write an art blog called DoNArTNeWs about the Philadelphia art scene with photographs and art reviews, artist interviews and how-to reports. DoNArTNeWs is based on multiple on-line platforms and has reached over 750 thousand unique visitors this year.”

How would you describe your art and successes if you had someone’s undivided attention for one minute? By preparing your pitch in advance and practicing in the mirror or with friends you can be ready when the opportunity to introduce yourself arises. Put a smile on your face, make eye contact, shake hands and make a pitch that is fact filled and to the point.

Business Cards

I always carry business cards in my wallet, pocket or camera bag and give them away freely. Cards are inexpensive and a great way to make a lasting impression – but make sure it’s a good one. Overly colorful, shiny or too small fonts can get your card lost in the shuffle. Try to limit your palette to three colors, include important contact information and resist the urge to make both sides of the card glossy. Shiny cards are pretty but they are difficult to write on if the person your presenting the card to wants to jot down notes. An interesting logo, large fonts, nice card stock and simple colors makes a strong impression. I use for my cards, they offer low prices and guarantee satisfaction. Their ad is in the DoNArTNeWs sidebar.

I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion

This how-to book by author Alyson Stanfield will teach you how to promote your art in the marketplace. DoNArTNeWs followed the tips in this easy to read, fact filled book and the step-by-step advice really works! Starting first as a newsletter and now as a multi-platform blog (an on-line magazine), DoNArTNeWs has reached millions of art enthusiasts since 2008. I’d Rather be in the Studio can help you develop a marketing strategy, create a database of clients, build confidence and promote a positive image.

Another book that I found very inspiring is Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way Starter Kit. My biggest take-away from this popular book is making an ‘art date’ with myself. An art date means going out to visit other artists, art galleries and museums on a regular basis – even if I have to go alone. Visiting art galleries doesn’t have to be a team sport; if you can’t find friends to go with you, go by yourself and don’t stand yourself up. Committing to keeping a date with yourself is not just an exercise in seeing new art, it promotes self-reliance and confidence.

Website Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine‘s “natural” or un-paid (“organic“) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. (Wikipedia) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital to having your artist website appear at the top of search engine websites such as Google. If you don’t understand HTML, then find someone who does and make sure that the important ‘meta-tags’ are complete and accurate. Having your name is important in the title but what you do is more so. Are you an abstract expressionist? Do you paint portraits? Is watercolor landscapes your specialty? This information should be included in the ‘Title Tag’ with the first nine words of the title being the most important terms relating to your business. The title information appears in the bar at the top of your web browser window; if your website says “Home’ or “Index’ and does not show your name and business description then you will never show up in a web search.

Other important meta-tags are ‘Name’, ‘Copyright’, ‘Description’ and ‘Key Words’. By filling in the blanks with the terms most important to your business your website will appear high in search engines. Make sure everything is spelled correctly and avoid small words like ‘is’, ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘it’…use only important search terms. The grammar doesn’t have to make sense in the title as long as it includes the words that people may use to search for someone like you.


A blog is a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis. OK, let’s be frank. Blogging is easy but it takes time to learn. DoNArTNeWs is based on a WordPress platform which offers many benefits. You are looking at a website with the domain name of hosted by with a blog called DoNArTNeWs based on a template called Twenty-Twelve. There are zillions of templates to choose from, I like Twenty-Twelve because I can customize the header with my own logo image. Free blogs are available directly through WordPress but then their name will be part of you blog URL. You can also pay WordPress for a domain name.

The most important thing is creating good content. I attend art events and take photographs, interview artists or gallery owners on my smart phone and then try to write the post in a timely manner. Since I know Photoshop, I resize the photo to fit the width of the column and change it to a .gif which reduces the size of the image allowing it to load faster. Images can also be adjusted in WordPress, there are tutorials on-line and support forums. Images are uploaded to a ‘Media File’ and have titles, alt tags and descriptions that should be completed as fully as possible – always mention your own name in the description since it is relevant to search engines.

I use the recorded interview either as a way to compose my own review of the art or to share the conversation by transcribing into text. Important terms are highlighted with a link – the link button looks like a little chain on the toolbar at the top of the page you compose the blog post on. Links should usually direct to a new window so visitors don’t click off of your page.

The blog post is linked to categories relevant to the content such as art, painting, prints, etc and important keywords are noted as tags. I link to as many categories as possible, link the post to other posts I’ve written and copy-and-paste links each time the information is repeated.

Tumblr is a free and easy way to start a blog and reach a wide audience. The simplified dashboard and variety of templates let’s you be as creative as you want or just keep it simple. You can upload your own images, link from your website or share images from other blogs. Content can be text with links as well. Tumblr is very popular with artists and is a good way to share your ideas and see what other artists are creating

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook fan page is a public profile on Facebook for use by businesses, celebrities, etc. that allows your customers to follow you, and interact with you. A Facebook fan page is a way to advertise your art to people who are interested in what you’re about. Fan pages are easy to set up in a category relevant to what you do. The tag line is a great place to use your elevator pitch terms, a good header image and profile picture offers a quick insight into your business. When I write a blog post I click the title of the blog, copy the url and paste it into a status, write a short description and add hash tags (#tags). The link will bring up an image from the blog or you can upload a different image. Hash tags are links to topics. For example when I write a post I will add #art #Philadelphia #photography #artist etc. Also adding a link to your status by using the ‘@’ followed by your page name sets an additional link back to your page and highlights it on your fan’s newsfeed.

Build an audience by inviting your friends to ‘like’ the page, add links back to your Facebook page and Twitter handle. Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters. Registered users can read and post tweets but unregistered users can only read them. Users access Twitter through the website interface, SMS, or mobile device app. (Wikipedia) Twitter is a great way to reach a large targeted audience. You can communicate directly with people using short messages or link back to your blog and Facebook posts.

A good way to organize and automate your social media is through Hootsuite which enables a ‘tweet’ to automatically be sent when you post a status on your Facebook fan page. Following others on Facebook and Twitter, liking, sharing and adding comments will help build your audience. Hootsuite is a social media management system for brand management created by Ryan Holmes in 2008. The system’s user interface takes the form of a dashboard, and supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress…and more.


Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. Instagram is a smart phone camera app that can be set up to post to your Facebook fan page, send a Tweet and post to your Tumblr blog automatically. More than just a picture, it’s a way to share links and hash tags instantly.


PayPal is a global e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. PayPal offers merchant services such as ‘buy buttons’ that can easily be embedded in your blog by copying and pasting the code into your post.

This is actually the bottom line of this tutorial. By using your website, a blog, Facebook and Twitter, Tumblr and Instgram you can let your fans know when you’re having an event, what’s new, what’s for sale and how to buy your art.

People ask me how much time I put into writing and posting? I do some or all of the above almost everyday. By sharing stories and pictures, linking to important information, leading fans to my sites with tweets and Facebook status updates I am able to maximize traffic to my website and blogs.

There are many other ways to promote your art on-line such as ebay, Etsy, redbubble, Saatchi Online and many, many more. It only takes time and research to learn how to use these tools to promote and sell your art.

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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Dora Ficher

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

 “Every painting starts with a grid. The vertical and horizontal lines calm my active brain and provide a structure on which to work.

I often paint within the cells of the grid before tying everything together. Because I use encaustic, I work slowly and deliberately. Building up sticky, fragrant layers of wax forces me to be present. This meditative process is as important as the end result.

Autobiographical stories on paper are encased inside the waxy pigment. The layers of narrative and paint parallel the layers of energy from daily life. Abstract shapes, patterns, and vivid color recall cherished memories of my native Argentina.” – Dora Ficher artist statement

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Bluestone Fine Art Gallery is located at 142 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19106 on Gallery Row with a lovely storefront and a gallery for group shows on the lower level. The current show in the main gallery is a one-person show of encaustics by artist Dora Ficher.

Encaustics is an ancient form of painting dating back from around 100 – 300 AD using bees wax and pigment to create layers of color that literally endures for centuries. Encaustic art has seen a resurgence in popularity since the 1990s with people using electric irons, hotplates and heated stylus on different surfaces including card, paper and even pottery. The iron makes producing a variety of artistic patterns easier. The medium is not limited to just simple designs; it can be used to create complex paintings, just as in other media such as oil and acrylic. – Wikipedia

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Dora Ficher and DoN chatted about her art during November’s First Friday art crawl in Old City. I asked her about using encaustics and where she works? I wondered if it was dangerous.

“It depends if you use if safely. I have my whole studio set up with a window fan and I have ventilation. You have to be safe with it. I use bees wax and pigment, I warm them up and I even use a torch to fuse it. My studio is at 915 Spring Garden Street.”

I know that place! There are so many great artists there, it must be inspiring?

“Oh, yeah!. We had a bunch of the artists come by today, they’re very supportive.”

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

I asked Dora Ficher to explain her inspiration for the colorful artworks.

“My inspiration is mostly from growing up in Argentina. The colors, the people there. of Buenos Aires, are so inspiring. I love color, I get inspired by color, by houses, by doors…and when I travel I love looking at what goes on behind those doors. Some of my paintings have doors and there are things collaged into the background.”

Dora’s father was a musician and if you look closely you can see bits of his music scores embedded in the layers of wax. The poetry of the line, color and context is very invigorating and is a bold blast of brightness to lighten our shortened wintery days.

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

I told Dora that a bunch of Philadelphians, including Charles Cushing, are visiting Buenos Aires ostensibly to paint but were mostly partying every night at the Tango Malongas.

“Of course! When you’re there you don’t have dinner until 11:00 at night and go dancing at midnight, if you go at nine or ten o’clock there’s no one. It is a wonderful place. It’s a lot of fun and the city is very colorful. And I think that’s where I get all my color. I tried to do things that were a little lighter but I always go back and use the same colors.”

Dora Ficher, EncausticsDora Ficher, Encaustics, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery

Dora Ficher showed me her iPhone case with one of her designs on it, bright and colorful like her paintings.

“I have a company that licenses my work now, Dianoche Designs, and they are licensing my images and making them into pillows and other products. It’s fun! I do all the encaustics in my studio, at home I do a lot of watercolor and pen and ink. They’re small and that’s what they’re using, mostly. I can go more into detail with that.”

How did you meet Pam Regan of Bluestone Fine Art Gallery?

“I met Pam through Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion. She’s unbelievable, I just got back from Colorado for a conference with her. I taught for about thirty years, I taught art in an elementary school and about four or five years ago I decided to leave teaching and I started doing this full time.And I didn’t know where to start. I found the book, I went to a lot of her live workshops and on-line classes and I met Pam when Alyson came here to Philadelphia. She was here exactly two years ago. She’s unbelievable!”

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Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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Edward Woltemate, Jr.

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr.Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”
Philip K. Dick 

Edward Woltemate, Jr. creates art that takes you to another world.  His brilliant art has bright colors and out-of-this-world design.  Despite being born a deaf mute, his art captures you in his fantasies and takes you on an adventure into the unknown. Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, he enjoyed spending summers at his grandparents’ home at the Jersey shore, along with his two sisters (one is also a deaf mute) and his brother.

Eddie has a keen sense of humor which has carried him through the darker places in his life and can be seen in the serendipity of his art. Eddie went to two primary schools, American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, and The Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia. He has had a lifelong interest in the extraterrestrial and his characters and spacescapes are detailed as never before imagined.

Eddie has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking photographs and blending his inspiration and vision into his art. Although he works on his drawings every day, he finds time for three grandchildren and hobbies such as photography and gardening.  He loves to shop and go to museums and is always thinking about what his next drawing will be.” – Ed Woltemate, Jr. website

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Moonspidergee, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $500.00  Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr. is a very organized man with a logical mind. Most of his work is accompanied by a kind of ‘legend’ on the back that describes the climate, topography, atmosphere and many other intricate details and characters of his imaginary worlds.

Ed Woltemate, Jr. has traveled extensively with his wife, Elaine, taking many photographs and blending his observation and impressions into his art. Although he draws every day, he also finds time for his three grandchildren and enjoys several hobbies including gardening, shopping, museum touring and photography.” –Ed Woltemate, Jr. artist statement at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Marrs, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $800.00, Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

Ed Woltemate, Jr. creates worlds of wonder using simple materials like pencils and paper that transport the viewer to distant planets inhabited by intelligent beings who have advanced societies. The artist peoples these worlds with beings who are creative, beautiful and friendly and on the back of the finished work he provides a ‘legend’ that describes in great detail where the planet is conjunction to where we are on Earth. He even names each planet and their inhabitants. With the recent cosmological news that there are more than eight billion ‘Goldy Locks’ planets in the Milky Way alone, Woltemate won’t be running out of planets to describe any time soon.

Ed and I have been in several art shows together including Art Ability at Bryn Mawr Rehab, the Philadelphia Foundation and the Delaware Art Museum, I’ve been a long time fan. Science Fiction and alternate realities are an element of my own art with my ‘light being’ photography series but Ed is able to visualize the other-wordly without having to say a word. Whereas I have to explain to people what my art is about.

Each of his drawings is like watching a great Sci-Fi movie that allows the viewer to suspend belief and experience life on another planet for a while. It’s been said that art viewers spend about five seconds looking at art in a museum. But Ed Woltemate, Jr. art requires the viewer to take an astral trip of light years where a second expands into centuries, centuries into eons and eons into a kind of after-life and when you get back all your friends might be gone. Quantum physics works like that and he taps into that energetic time/space continuum vibe like Steven Hawking.

Ed Woltemate, Jr., Coalition IngenuEd Woltemate, Jr., Cogacy, mixed media and colored pencil on paper, $400.00, Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

I had the opportunity to interview his lovely wife, manager and translator, Elaine Woltemate, at the opening of Autodidactic Ingenism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens:

How long have you been working with Coalition Ingenu?

“Gee whiz, we’ve been with Coalition Ingenu for about two and a half years. I have been more or less managing Ed’s art for a while and Robert Bullock has been a great help. But I’ve taken different routes also with Ed’s art and I plan to continue to do that. We’re trying to get into different places than we’ve been before, we’ve been successful in the last couple of years with Bryn Mawr Rehab Art Ability, Moss Rehab, the disabled artists venues. Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Art Ability has three of his pieces this year, the opening is November 2nd. Then on November 9th we’re at Main Line Art Center, we sold a nice piece there about two or three months ago.”

Amie Potsic is a friend of mine.

“She’s very young to have the position she holds, don’t you think? Everybody looked young there! Through a friend of ours we were introduced to an organization called Build a Bridge, it’s a volunteer organization that gets funds for the homeless and different people throughout the city that need assistance, Build a Bridge is having a gala and we offered to donate a piece of art.

My friend told me a little about what was going on, I thought Eddie’s art would fit in with that. They said that if he could create a drawing that depicts ‘Hopeful City‘ they would like to use that. So he made a beautiful drawing, something totally different than what he’s used to of Rittenhouse Square. It’s going to be auctioned off at Build a Bridge, it’s purely because we have been so fortunate in the last few years that it was time to give back, So Edward is going to be involved in that and we’re excited about it!

It doesn’t mean any money for us but I think it will be great exposure and it’s something different for him. As I said, we have been very fortunate, maybe not dollar-wise but just in the people we’ve met, you know? And the venues that we’ve been in, we’ve been very fortunate lately, so, like I said, it’s time to give back.”

But how can people buy your work besides this show?

“We have a website We’re on facebook but I’m not very technical. Robert sees me as a good manager of Eddie’s art, I’m going to have to get more technologically savvy. I’m soliciting my son already, he’s at University of Pennsylvania and teaches computer science. So I’m giving him lunch and getting lessons.

Do you sell prints?

“No, we don’t. And do you know why? I really feel like we’ve come to a point where we have to do something different, not just sell the originals all the time, maybe that’s another step we should take because originals only last for so long (in stock).

How would you describe Ed’s work?

“Unique is kind of an over-used phrase but his art doesn’t fit any category. It doesn’t fit outsider, it doesn’t fit visionary – it’s kind of his own vision of different planets, different galaxies. It’s very different than any other art out there. Maybe that’s why we have sold to gallery owners and collectors that have more of an appreciation than the general public. As far as describing his work – it’s in his own category. It’s Edward Woltemate, jr.” – Elaine Woltemate

Read more about Autodidactic Ingenuism, the Coalition Ingenu Collective of Self-Taught Artists at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens on DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog

Written and photographed by DoN Brewer except where noted.

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