Last year, I created a painting for the Tactile Art Show for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind here in St Augustine.  Sponsored by The St Augustine Art Association, the participants create works of art that can be touched by the students.  It is a great privilege to be accepted into the show.  They also ask that you create a story to go with your art which is then printed in braille and posted beside each piece.

     My entry was a 24 x 24 painting that I turned up into a diamond shape.  On it I painted a "Carnivale"dancer with her headdress of feathers (real and painted) jewels on her top, real eyelashes on her closed eyes and a great big smile.  I had her arms outstretched to the tips of the canvas in such a way that allowed me to screw on actual mannikin hands to the edge of each side as though her hands were coming out of the canvas. Next, I put on white satin gloves with sequins & feathers on her wrists.  When I finished she looked very real as though she was breaking free of the canvas.  Hence her name..."BREAKING FREE"

     Her story was that she was a dancer with a seemingly glamorous life, but as she danced, she closed her eyes and longed to break free to pursue a quiet life devoting herself to her love of creating art.

     She didn't win a prize, but what is interesting is that I started taking her along to the art fairs where she garnered a lot of attention. She was hung on an easel at the corner of my tent, and children would come up and shake her hand and want their picture taken with her.  Then adults started in as well.  Next thing I knew, people were stopping by every few minutes to take a picture with her!

     So, when I went to THE BEACHES ART FEST, she had to go along.  This time, however, I put a note by her that said  'YES! Shake my hand and take a picture!"  I could hear people laughing every few minutes and yes, they took pictures.  But finally, late Sunday afternoon, a man and his wife stopped by, took her picture, and asked me about her story.  When I told them about her and why she was created, they were touched and had to take her home.  I was glad they loved her too, but rather sad to see her leave.  We had become friends and partners, so to speak.  To my surprise, that evening, I received a very nice "thank you" note from the couple telling me how nice she looked in the office. That made me feel much better about letting her go!

     The moral of this story is that the couple liked her a lot.  But what "sold" them was her back story and the fact that she was a "one-of-a-kind" painting,  and would remain so.  She certainly was unique, and a real conversation starter.  I only wish I still had her "braille" story that was posted with her so I could have given it to them as well.

     So, keep this experience in mind as you create your art and be sure to share the back story with clients.  That story can make the sale!   Below is our picture as I say goodbye to my dancer!   And, if you'd please remember this is the end of a long hot weekend and I've definitely melted, I'd thank you kindly!  Enjoy!  (you can see my sign to shake her hand above her with the strip of blue tape)

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