Friday 28 Feb, 2014

Will paint for travel: A fundraising story part 1

There are a variety of ways to raise money for your student tour – from putting together a “school night” where local businesses donate a portion of their sales, to requesting donations through your personal traveler Giving Page.

But what about selling paintings? Connecticut art teacher and Group Leader, Patrick S., tells us more about how his students are selling their paintings to fundraise for their student tour to the Grand Canyon.

Why paintings?

Patrick came up with the idea while teaching a painting class last summer.  After seeing how much the students sharpened their skills throughout the course, he knew that this could be a great way to help them improve their painting technique while also raising money to go on tour. On top of that, this method allowed all interested students the opportunity to travel.

How it works

Student painting by Samantha F.

Student painting by Samantha F.

The majority of their paintings focus on local buildings as the subject.  Patrick’s students focus on the more popular, well-known houses in their town.  From there, they work on creating prototypes of the different buildings.  When a potential buyer comes to them for a painting, they first choose which building they want as their subject.  Once they choose the subject, the students really get to show off their skills using a mix of imagination and real-world perspective to create a final piece that their buyers love.

Custom paintings

Although students are painting well-known buildings around town, that doesn’t mean the final piece will be an exact replica.  Students work with their buyer to completely customize the painting to whatever scene they would like to see.

Want your building set in a nice fall setting?  They can do that! How about altering it to see how it would’ve looked in the early 1900s?  No problem! Once they master the structural details of the building to be recreated, the rest comes with imagination and their incredible attention to detail through research of the desired scene.

One of Patrick’s students recreated a home to look like it was in the 1940s.  She aged it a bit so it looked like it would in that time and even added a 1940s car out front.

Another student recreated a house from the civil war period.  The painting has people out front dressed in attire from that time.  This really allows them to flex their creative muscle while providing their customers with a custom and unique painting to take home.

Getting the word out

Patrick has a three step approach for promoting their custom paintings:

Student Linnea R.'s recreation of the veterinarian hospital in Middletown circa 1940

Student Linnea R.’s recreation of the veterinarian hospital in Middletown circa 1940

1) Start with word-of-mouth

Patrick says that promoting by word-of-mouth is the best way to get started.

Because each painting takes a significant amount of time (anywhere from one to three weeks), you don’t want to over-promote with advertising and get into a situation where the demand is higher than what you can provide.  Promoting using word-of-mouth helps you keep control of the initial demand you create.

2) Advertise within the school community

By advertising within the school community, Patrick has found that staff have been very receptive to the students’ fundraising efforts.  Advertising also helps to spread the word by getting more people from the academic community involved.

3) Showcase work on the school website

By using part of the school website as a form of a gallery, people can see the quality of work the students are producing and help continue to spread the word about their fundraiser.

Outside of raising money for their student trip, creating these custom paintings is giving students a head start on developing their real-world skills.  Stay tuned for our next post where Patrick tells us more about the things his students are learning from fundraising.