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Monthly Archives: July 2012

My Commitment to Canvas…A Work in Progress

I am excited!  Today I have a plan…a real plan to take my career in a new direction. My husband has been after me for years to paint my art on canvas besides painting on walls and furniture.  Instead I turned a deaf ear to him .  Recently a gentleman saw a photograph of a canvas I had done while teaching class.  He asked me what gallery could he go to to buy it. Then this weekend we visited an art gallery and as I viewed the many works displayed there I knew that my work has a voice and  should be in a gallery, too.  I simply need to have a collection.  So I’ve thought about it for a few days and started a couple of canvases.  They are sketched and prepped with washes and ready for my brush this afternoon.  First, however I have to finish my design job on an entertainment center for a client. The murals, custom furniture and home decorating jobs are our bread and butter which I cannot neglect.  But today, right here and now, I am making this canvas collection commitment and will blog on it as it progresses.  Can you hear my husband cheering? I will keep you posted!

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Formal Art Training or Natural Talent

Someone recently asked me if it is necessary to have formal art training or do some people just have natural talent.  Speaking for myself, this artist is living proof that a formal degree is not a necessity.  However, having this natural talent means that I am in a constant and continuing education from which I never intend to graduate.  I read a lot on the subjects of art and business and am always studying my subject matter through books, photographs and in person.  You will also find me most days elbow deep in paint and paint mediums expanding my knowledge through work, play and experimentation.

I feel very fortunate to be actually making a living doing what I love to do.  Most of my art is commissioned works which means I paint on demand.  This type of work is continuously changing and challenges me with each new project.  The special client requests take me out of my comfort zone with style, subject matter and unique surfaces.  This keeps my work fresh and makes me fearless.  I am a people pleaser and my husband and I together are troubleshooters; therefore we make art and home decor happen for the client, whatever their request.  The projects always turn out to be better than all of us imagined and there is tremendous satisfaction in that.

As for my natural talent, I think my strongest talent is seeing the details.  I can actually visualize the layers of colors in my subject matter and instinctively know which to lay down first.  I pay attention to the highlights and shadows that form the shapes of the subjects. I especially love the tiny details of animal hairs and whiskers.  It’s what makes them who they are.

Another aspect of being able to “see” is that I can look at a blank wall or a naked piece of furniture and see the life it is supposed to have.  It’s as though there is a story waiting to be told and I am the conduit through which it is told.

Not long before my dad passed away he apologized for not sending me to art school for formal training.  I told my dad certainly not to feel bad.  He and Mom gave me a great and beautiful life and I have truly had an education of a lifetime with my traveling through this life.  I have no regrets.  I love my life and truly feel that the life I have led has made me the artist God meant for me to be.

Spread the Sunshine

It’s a lazy Sunday morning and I’ve been fiddling around for the biggest part of it.  Yesterday I received a new book in the mail, “I’d rather be in the studio”  by Alyson Stanfield.  This morning I began reading it and the first thing mentioned was to get a notebook to start your journal. I went to the file cabinet, opened the door and old Christmas cards, thank you cards, birthday and just because cards fell out of the file cabinet and all over the floor.  This led to a cleaning job I wasn’t counting on.  I sorted and threw away  papers and trash that should never have been in there in the first place then neatly filed and stacked the “keepers” back into the cabinet.  In the meantime as I was going through the cards on the floor, I found a pile of thank you notes from students, clients and friends.  Several people wrote how my artwork in their homes had made the quality of their life so much better. Others wrote how my work had given them such joy.  I sometimes forget how others feel about my work and what it means to them when I am dealing with the daily grind.  Anyway, one of the projects in this new book is to write an artist’s statement…what I and my work is all about.  I would emoticon an ugly face here to show you what I thought when I read that one, but going through these cards on the floor helped me figure out why I feel so compelled to do my art and the way in which I do it.  Putting aside the money equation, “Why do I do this?”  The big answer for me is I love to create beautiful things that make people feel their lives are better because of it.  I am not here to make a political or social statement like many others, which is their path in this life.  My artistic path is to leave behind beauty, grace and/or something to smile about. The world is already filled with ugliness and tragedy.  I want my work to give some relief from that.  The drawings I made as a child always had a smiling sun up in the corner shining down on whomever or whatever was below. Little did I know that little sun would come to represent my life.

When Life Gives You Limes…Make a Margarita!

It’s summertime in Florida…hot days and stormy afternoons.  Traffic is tolerable and we can get into our favorite restaurants with no waiting!   Thanks to our “Snowbirds” (our winter residents from October through April) I paint on demand for clients up and down the Gulf Coast of Florida from Tampa to Marco Island.  Up until this year we really didn’t have a summer lull in business…we were the lucky ones.  This year we’ve had two to three weeks with no phones ringing, which was a little scary.  But instead of getting too excited over it (after all, it is an election year) I’ve decided to put the found time to good use.  I’ve started this blog, updated my website and Facebook, cleaned up 99 percent of my little odd painting jobs and am getting my head into the game to create some new art and hopefully expand myself.  I am seeking out inspiration through other people’s blogs and websites and would like to experiment with mediums I haven’t dabbled with for a while.  I’m also seriously looking at the financial side of our business.  I have been attending a lot of online

seminars with Score and have been reading business art coaches blogs and newsletters.  Bob and I been “making a living” with what we do but there’s definitely room for improvement. When you really love what you do you give it your all and you don’t really care what you make because you love it so much.  But the elephant in the room is, if you ever want to make a great living at it, you have to do the math.   Figure out your costs and keep track of your time..boring, I know, but you have to do it. I am finally learning my worth and the value my work actually has.  Now I just have to put this knowledge into practice.

I also have painted furniture sitting around my dining room walls and library and living room crying to be sold which I will soon be putting them on my website for sale.  I’ve tried consignment shops and furniture stores but when it comes to collecting the money they owed me it was always an uphill battle.  What got me was they approached me and I placed my works in good faith. Nevertheless, it really takes the joy out of the creating when you have to fight for your money.  On my checklist of things to remember when things sound too good to be true…do my homework.  Really check into the business that is interested in you and your work.  Talk to people who know them or have done business with them.  You are most likely doing them a favor rather than the other way around.  Several people over the past couple of years  have recommended the Etsy website.  I’ve been reading the posts about the different subjects with Etsy and it sounds like it is good for some and not so good for others.  I would most likely have to ship the furniture and that can be a headache.  I may end up having to do an arts and crafts show to move this stuff… but right now, I think I’ll have that Margarita!