The Bakke Gallery

Artistic Endeavors by Washington State artist Karen Bakke


I painted my first gallery piece, "Skagit Spawn", for an event which had individual works from over 90 artists - sculptors, painters, etc. I was happy that it was to support the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group, which helps to get our waterways cleaned up for our wild salmon to thrive. I learned about it through a couple of artist friends that encouraged me to paint something for the event - a lot easier than trying to gather several paintings to hang at a typical gallery showing! The gallery owner was more than gracious, having not seen any of my work, simply asking, "are you an artist?", and allowed me in. The artist reception was packed. I meandered my way through the throngs of people. Being so new in the "art business", I didn't know anyone but the friends I invited and one of the musicians that came to perform. Ha! Most of the others seemed to know each other, as if in a "click". I was OK with that, schmoozing comes hard for me. I tried to spy occasionally on who might be looking at my painting, and strained to see their reaction, unsuccessfully. I was beckoned over to it a couple of times by people who were interested and wanted to meet the artist. I was so excited, I blurted out immediately that this was my very first gallery showing... and later wondered if my inexperience had caused them to shy away. I had nibbles, but no bites that night, no little red sticker on the little description card next to my painting. That's okay, I told myself. Can't expect too much right out of the gate.

Days earlier, when I had gone down to present my painting (the oil still wet on the canvas!), other artists were coming and going with their art, as well. I stared diligently at their art and what everyone was asking, for I had no idea what to price mine. I also asked each person I came in contact with there to see what they thought. I wanted to start low, as a first-timer, but price well enough that it didn't look cheap. I learned an artist can never price on how much time they take, because we would never sell anything! Some use a calculator guide, "so much per inch". I read online once that if you think you will get a pit in your stomach, its too low, if you feel guilty, its too high, and if you feel good about the sale, it was just right... I'll call it the Goldilocks method..! Mostly, I looked around the room and tried to price it according to others that were similar to mine, lower than what a couple artists suggested, but higher than what I would have taken had I had nothing to go on. Life in the art lane.

When I got those nibbles, I questioned my price, searched high and low for the proprietor to see if I should be negotiating? Unfortunately, (or fortunately?) it was just too crowded. I fretted as I watched one of the couples that showed interest leave, then thought, that's fine if it was meant to be,.. you know those things you say in your head to feel better about a situation. I'm learning this is one of the hardest things an artist goes through, pricing their work.

After the reception I was so focused on meeting with my plein air groups that I have joined recently, working on an 18x46' backdrop for the local ballet, and home life, I spent little time thinking about the salmon. A couple of mornings ago, I told my sig. other, "well, its going to be time to go pick up my painting soon". His reply was that it can go to his work and hang there, where they now sell fishing supplies. No worries. Sounded fine to me. Later that day, he handed me an envelope from the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group. It started out in the first paragraph thanking me for participating, and again what the group does, yada, yada. Yes, I love what they do. I was expecting "thank you for your submission..." and instead in the very next line, I was floored to read instead, "We are please to inform you..." IT SOLD!! "...check enclosed"... I shook the envelope upside down, and down flew a check onto the table. I'd swear it was glowing.

The gallery owner later communicated to me that it sold to a doctor and his wife, an interior designer, and my work "enters a fairly amazing collection"... WOWEEE!! Is that icing on the icing on the cake, or what? Yes, I said icing twice! Holy moly, I am honored and humbled, giddy, and ready to take on the world!