Photo by Sally England

Ojai Studio Artist Marie McKenzie is one of 43 artists whose studio will be open Oct. 8 to 10.

Photo by Sally England

Ojai Studio Artist Marie McKenzie is one of 43 artists whose studio will be open Oct. 8 to 10.
The first thing to know about the Ojai Studio Artist (OSA) tour on Oct. 8 to 10: wear comfy shoes.
The OSA studio artist tour is a three-day, self-guided art extravaganza for collectors and appreciators and the simply curious. There’s just so much to see — the tour features a head-spinning variety of paintings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, glass, fiber arts, jewelry, apparel, printmaking and collage in more than 70 studios all over the valley, from secluded canyons near Lake Casitas to backyard wonderlands right in town.
So obviously, good footwear is a must. So is a little homework, a good itinerary and an open mind — insiders are happy to share tips and tricks for getting the most out of the event:
1. Make a list. Resist the temptation to leave it to the last minute and then just follow the orange road signs wherever they lead. You might get lucky, but more likely you’ll go home exhausted and miss out on that single artwork that will change your life forever (it can happen!). Do a little homework. Start at the Ojai Valley Museum (130 W. Ojai Ave.), which is currently showing work by all this year’s participating artists. Jot down names of artists you like. When you get home, check the OSA website, register for the tour (it’s free!) and add to your list.
“Come up with a plan for who you want to see,” advised OSA member Pamela Grau. “If you’re interested in plein air painting or jewelry or ceramics, figure out who’s making that work and where they are. If you only have a day or two, make it count.”
2. Plan a route. Once you’ve registered, you’ll get instructions on where to pick up a guide book with studio details and a full map. Locate all the studios on your list and check the book–some studios are only open one or two days. You might also break your list into two or three geographic areas then plot your route for each day.
3. Take your time. Don’t rush. Accept that you won’t be able to see everything. “Pace yourself,” said Grau. “People tend to run around and wear themselves out. You need the bandwidth to enjoy and appreciate what you’re seeing.”
4. Talk to the artists. Art-making can be a lonely business, so the artists you meet will be super excited to meet you. Feel free to ask about process and materials and inspirations. If you like something but aren’t ready to make a purchase, take pictures and talk to the artist. Remember though: artists aren’t sales clerks and studios aren’t retail stores. “Keep it short,” said landscape artist Emily Thomas — you don’t want to hog an artist’s attention when their studio is packed full of people.
5. Ask around for deals, specials and must-sees. Talk to people along the way about where they’ve been. Several studios offer heavy discounts; others sell out early. One artist has been known to draw visitors’ portraits. And many work out of studios in spectacular homes and properties. Collect intel as you go.
6. Make arrangements for visitors now. Hotel rooms for the OSA tour weekend are often sold out entirely. In a pinch, check in Oak View or with the Ventura Visitor Center for vacancies.
The Ojai Studio Artists Studio Tour: Oct. 8 to 10. Free. Registration is free at www.ojaistudioartists.org.
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