It is my deep, dark pleasure to announce the annual Online Hallowe'en Artists' Studio Tour! This is my "treat" to you all, a special way to celebrate my favorite season, share some exceptional art by artists I personally admire and raise money for animal charities. With this blog, I hope to keep you up-to-date with proceedings and progress as we approach the yearly "launch" on October 1st!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Playing our part

To my spooktacular tour artists,

This posting is a little long but please read through to the end.

I received an e-copy of the Artist Doll & Teddy Bear Club Newsletter produced by Terry and Susan Quinlan and it inspired this letter to you all, my fellow artists. Regardless of how you may feel about the Quinlans (and they have certainly not endeared themselves to everyone), two points in their August 2012 issue are worth bringing to your attention concerning the state of art as a business (no matter what your art) and the place of artists in securing their own success. (For those not familiar, the Quinlans created the “Susan Quinlan Doll & Teddy Bear Museum and Library” in California, are huge collectors and currently run an annual convention.)

Firstly, we have to find new markets for our work. The attendees to the Teddy shows, or the dolls shows or the art shows already know we exist and understand what they are coming to see. We have to go out and find new audience members and show them how awesome we are and what incredible things we create. Artists need to get active and get noticed, by getting into newspapers and non-art magazines, taking part in non-traditional venues and informing potential new fans. Our Hallowe’en tour, I’m happy to say, does this very well: with 22 000 receiving Bat Conservation International’s e-newsletter (according to BATS magazine, Spring 2012 issue) and 26 000 Facebook “fans” of Bat World (according to the President Amanda Lollar) we are reaching out to a huge group of people that (except for potentially a small set) never knew we were out there.

Secondly, we need to work as a team, “working as a single profession toward a common goal”. Working as isolated individuals is not the best way to function but as a group we’re boundless! Consider again our tour: alone, I can’t reach too many people, I can only advertise so far, but if each artist pitches in we, as a group, reach a HUGH number, everyone of us sharing our pool of contacts and our community networks for the benefit of the entire group. Times are tight, money is tight, so consequently there is no room for “free-loaders” any longer. I believe the Quinlans were sadly dead-on with their statement that “We have too many “takers” in the artist doll and Teddy Bear world”, too many who expect others to do the work for them, hurting their own profession. In my own experience co-organizing a local craft fair, I was startled by fellow artists who were downright resentful and angry when asked to help participate in the promotion of the event, as if it were beneath them. “How dare you ask?” was their reply, direct or indirect, and one even said it was enough that he create his art and show up at our event, as if he was doing the event a favor. Again, I return to our Hallowe’en tour: with participation in the tour set at $28 which goes directly to the bat conservation groups, there is NO money for advertising, it is ALL word of mouth and signing up means you agree to help spread the word. This can be done in many ways, both virtual and physical, by using your online options like your websites, Facebook pages, twitter accounts, blogs, etc…, by getting the tour included in show listings, and by hanging posters, distributing bookmarks or pamphlets (all available here: at shows, leaving bookmarks at your doctors’ offices, your public libraries, etc… I hope some of you seize this opportunity to write to your local papers, etc… to say “Hey, do you know about bats and the trouble they’re in? I’m taking part in this great show to help raise awareness.” (If you want additional bat information for your article, just ask!) What a boon to you, our tour and the artist community!

So, there you are. Do you have an opinion? How do you plan to be an active participant? What do you think the role of the artist should be in today’s climate? Please feel free to express yourself and share with the group. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

We're out there

Well, we're back from our week-long stay near the Pinery Provincial Park!  There's nothing like their dog beach!  (I'll put some pictures up here.)  But, as regards our tour, I was able to put out some advertising.  There's a restaurant/gas station on Hwy 21 that now has our bookmarks and, most importantly, the Lambton Heritage Museum, right across from the Pinery, has our pamphlets, along with the Elora Hallowe'en Scare Fair postcards and April Norton's Oct. 14 Doll & Teddy Bear Show in London. 

At the campground where we rented our cabin, they had a Hallowe'en weekend which sadly was rather half-hearted... but I thought what a great opportunity to advertise!  So the morning everyone was to decorate (only 4 campers did) I hung out our bookmarks and pamphlets and Elora's Scare Fair postcards in the trees surrounding our cabin.  (String?  Mom cut apart a firewood sack and we used the orange fibers!)  When we came back from the beach, they were all gone!!!  The managers felt it was "too distracting"... okay, then all decorations would be distracting, now, wouldn't they?  Anyway, they said we could hang 2 or 3 but no more.  I hope bats poop on these rather hypocritical individuals.
  Anyway, on 3 nights we enjoyed bat-gazing while they swooped and dove to catch their dinners.  They are just so neat to watch!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

International Bat Night August 25-26, 2012

Obviously, this is true of everyone taking part in our tour (or at least everyone really likes bats) so let's get out on August 25th and celebrate International Bat Night!

Yes, it it the Year of the Bat (as declared by the United Nations)!  It's so important to inform everyone how important bats are to the planet's health... and so to our health.  Just think of all the insects that are NOT getting eaten because so many North American bats have died due to White Nose Syndrome.  More bugs means more pesticides, more poisons in our food, water and air... 
So celebrate our bats!  And share your love for these incredible creatures!  How about posting here how many bats you see on Bat Night? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We're a Culture Days event!!

We're part of Culture Days!!!  For those who don't know, it's a Canada-wide event that celebrates every aspect of our culture!  Including Hallowe'en art and our tour!  Click here for our listing; yes, it needs an edit but Eileen from Perth Arts Connect is on top of things (thank you, Eileen) and I'm so happy for us! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One lost life...

Last Tuesday, on our morning walk, Willow and I came across a dead bat.  S/he was still relatively fresh but very dead, and the ants were busy already.  Still, it was a rare opportunity to see one of these stunning creatures so up close.  And it was a somewhat strange meeting as we normally walk on the other side of the street, on the sidewalk. 
The white arrow points to where the little one was lying.  My guess is that it's a Little Brown Bat.

I phoned the Canadian Center for Wildlife (1-866-673-4781) to ask if they wanted him/her.  The very nice fellow at the Centre said the bat probably died from trauma and that they don't normally collect specimens found along roadsides.  Still, he took my information and said that they keep such reports on file so that if more dead bats are reported they have a history and can investigate if something appears to be wrong.  I could, he said, either bag him and put him in the trash or leave him for the scavengers.  I figured at least someone should benefit so left him there.
Poor little guy... hope it was at least quick.  There seemed to be quite a bit of damage on the underside...