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Archive for October, 2008

Happy Halloween !!!

Everyone here at Wild Faces Gallery (and Mojo the cat) are wishing you a fun filled Halloween.

Mojo requests tuna treats . . . or chicken, yeah . . . chicken. Oh, or maybe eggs. Yummy!

Treats only please, no tricks. Unless you want a black cat to cross your path at least a dozen times.

Trick or bicuits?

Here at WFG, not only do we get the usual kind of trick or treaters. We also get the four-legged variety. We are a pet friendly place. (That excludes Budda. He thinks all other critters are evil and must be destroyed. Well . . . maybe not “destroyed.” Maybe just glared at while every hair on his body is on end, and occasionally making threatening facial gestures at them.)

This is Lizzie, who came to the gallery to show off her new witch costume. How cute is she!

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Criticism and Confidence: Part 2

To blog or not to blog
As talked about in Part 1, my artistic confidence had been shaken by an artist friend’s harsh critique. I pondered whether or not to blog about it since I have no desire to hurt her feelings. (I mean there’s nothing like a public forum discussion to make someone uncomfortable.) But in the end, I did decided to go ahead, because every artist at one time or another has had (or will have) a similar experience. As with all things it is nice to know that we are not alone in whatever we may be feeling.

I had mentioned to her that day, that I would probably blog about it, (though she may have thought I was joking.) Blogging has proved to be a bit cathartic at times. But I’ve held off for nearly two weeks for several reasons.

  • It took me several days to process and think about what went on. In the moment, I wasn’t feeling hurt. I was stunned and just kept thinking “huh?” and as I said yesterday, I wondered if I had offended her in some way. Later I did feel hurt and was grateful that I wasn’t still working on the painting (because that surely would have ruined the experience for me.) And I was relieved that I had already shipped it off. At this point I am back to feeling neutral about the experience. I am not angry or hurt, but I’ll probably be more emotionally guarded around her (at least for awhile.)
  • “What is important, is the “moving on”and not getting bogged down by someone else’s drama.”

  • I do value the friendship. For instance, she has been completely supportive of the life altering process I’ve been going through this summer. Also, she was the first artist I met when I moved to Iowa. Her helpful nature at the time, was a template for my own, when I started to mentor a few budding artists in the area.
  • I was not sure how I would look on the blog. You know, will I come off whiney or insecure after all my talk about confidence. But then I thought I promised to be honest when I started this thing. I don’t pretend to be anyone, but who I am. And since this happened to me, and it was troubling for a time. I thought I would share that even though I’ve been around the “art” block more than once, sometimes things can still throw me.
  • Why
    I’ve had several people comment both on blog and off why it happened and if perhaps she is jealous. I would have to say I doubt it. She is an outstanding artist and is well known in our area. Her work is exceptional.

    I had spent some time trying to figure out the reasons behind it all. Though I haven’t made any firm conclusions, here are some possibilities.

  • She thinks that I am arrogant and needed to be brought back to reality.
  • She was feeling emotional about something else, and her passion carried over into this.
  • She thinks my work is getting too commercial and the work was not artsy enough.
  • She thinks our friendship is strong enough to stand up to all that “honesty.”
  • Or perhaps, I completely misread the situation.

    What’s it all mean anyway?
    So, what does a harsh critique, whether by judge, fellow artist or complete stranger, really mean anyway? Does someone’s negative opinion mean the work is bad? Not salable? Does it mean that they think you are a bad artist?

    Frankly someone’s negative comment is nothing more than their opinion. And luckily everyone gets to own their own opinion. I’ve done shows where I didn’t win and should have. And shows where I’ve won and shouldn’t have. Hopefully a critique (however harsh) will if nothing else get you to look at the work a little more closely. Maybe they are right, or maybe they aren’t. Perhaps just re-evaluating the work is worth the insult?

    Resolution
    This experience did briefly taint my feelings, whenever I looked at the Colton image. However, feeling uncertain about who I am as an artist is not place I spend a lot of time. I tend to think of myself as artistically confident and tenacious.

    So what does a tenacious, confident artist do to restore harmony to her soul?

  • I go to the fund raiser and mingle a little. I meet the IERAL board members, who offer compliments and thanks. I think to myself, “yes, I did do a good thing here.
  • I take photos and prepare some PR. I plan to do some news releases for the local newspapers, art rags and horse art mags.
  • I plan a new painting. Letting it all go and enjoying the creative experience completely.
  • Success breeds confidence. I’ve had enough success’s to not be bothered by this for long. Her reasons for behaving the way she did, or even if she was aware of how harsh she was being, is irrelevant in regards to this post.

    What is important is the “moving on” and not getting bogged down by someone else’s drama. Whenever someone tells me “You can’t do that, or your not good enough.” I just think “You, just watch me!”

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    Of Colton and Confidence
    I have been writing a lot about confidence lately. So I thought I would share how recently my own confidence was shaken up a bit, in regards to my Colton painting. And it came from a completely unexpected source, an artist friend from my art group.

    This is not a story about how horrible she was, for indeed I could have misread the whole situation. What this is a story about, is my emotional state and how I felt about the whole thing. So please no flaming of the artist mentioned here. Though I do believe she was excessively harsh, she is also a good person and the reasons she reacted the way she did, are known only to her. At this point I have let go of any negative feelings about it.

    It all began with . . .
    I hosted our art group many days back. We had just gotten together and hadn’t really begun talking art yet. When she said “Mona I’m sorry . . . but I think you just ruined your Colton painting!

    Mind you I didn’t ask for her opinion and the artwork wasn’t even out. She had read the blog and just felt the need to share. And share she did. For the next 15 minutes or so I listened to all the ways I screwed it up and how I don’t know what I’m doing.

    “Keep in mind an artists critique may have no bearing on how well an image will sell. Buyers have a different set of criteria, just ask Terry Redlin or Thomas Kinkade.”

    I think the giving and receiving of an honest critique is invaluable. It helps you to look at the work from a different perspective. (Keep in mind an artists critique may have no bearing on how well an image may sell. Buyers have a different set of criteria. Just ask Terry Redlin or Thomas Kinkade.)

    Now I had also discussed the painting with another artist friend (who no longer participates in our art group.) She also happens to specialize in equines, and made some good and valid points on things that would have improved the painting. (AND she did it without bashing me about.)

    Hey, I think I’ve just been mugged.
    So back at art group, I intently listened to see if I could understand what she felt so strongly about. But after 10 minutes or so, I kinda shut down to whatever point she was trying to make. And after 15 minutes, all I wanted, was for it to be over.

    As she was talking, I just kept wondering what I had done to piss her off enough, that she felt she needed to take me down a peg or two. The voracity and tenacity with which she spoke left me completely gobsmacked. This did not resemble a creative critique. This felt much more like a mugging

    Her comments took me so by surprise I was unsure how I felt about it for days. This is unlike me. Working the art festivals I’ve gotten used to the occasional person saying something “less than flattering,” I barely notice. Generally, there are hundreds of others telling me how brilliant I am, (which oddly enough, also begins to be meaningless after awhile.)

    “This did not resemble a creative critique. This felt much more like a mugging.”

    To be clear, I am okay with her not liking my painting. She is certainly entitled to her opinion. In the end, I think what bothered me the most was that this (donating a painting) was a good thing that I did. I mean it’s not like I just gave them any old horse painting laying around, I went there, photographed the horses and created a painting specifically for them for a fund raiser and gave it to them. All during an extremely difficult time in my life. (though I have not talked of it on the blog, she is well aware of how things are.)

    So instead of being able to talk about the experience of creating the work and donating it, I was stuck listening to a diatribe about how I ruined the painting, and how it would have been better if I had stopped working on it, pretty much shortly after I started it.

    And the last kick in the butt was, because everyone got to hear how messed up it was, by the time I actually pulled a picture of the painting out, the only other comment I got was “oh, (with a hint of surprise) thats not so bad.”

    Tomorrows post
    will finish up my story and talk about moving on through adversity. Also, I am still working on the giclee posts (at the moment it is in 3 parts, but may yet get larger.) Plus I am trying to finish up my Apple ‘n Oats article which has a Sunday deadline.

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    The IERAL Fund Raiser

    After some hesitation (and some convincing by my hubby) I decided to attend the IERAL (Iowa Equine Rescue & Awareness League) fund raiser. My trepidation stems from my naturally anti-social personality. Plus, I had no idea what to expect. I’m not the hob-nobbing type. But no cause for concern, it was very rustic and very much my kind of crowd. I mean it was held in a barn!

    They had live music in the loft (or perhaps it was a mow?) with wine and cider tasting, gourmet carmel/chocolate apples and miscellaneous noshes.

    Outside, you could meet some of the horses available for adoption. They also had a fire going to complete the whole experience. All in all an enjoyable weekend.

    This is me (of course) with Karla Siebert (on the right.) Karla is president of IERAL. She also runs a frame shop (among many, many other things) and she is the one who framed the original painting of Colton. The mat looks kinda dark here, but it is a lovely blue-green color, which looks great with the painting.

    I didn’t stay all the way until the end, so I’ve no idea what became of the original painting. We had made some smaller prints of it and they seemed to be selling pretty well. The event had a pretty good crowd, so hopefully it was a success.

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    Just a quick note tonight, as it is getting late and I spent waaaay too much time working on an upcoming post.

    My dear hubby has been working his fingers to the bone, rebuilding my website, Wild Faces Gallery. It has a few visual changes. But frankly, most of the changes are in the hidden works of code. Basically, it should be easier to search and update.

    Anyway, I had to give props to Mike, (guru of all thing technical in my life.) Thank you babe, it looks great.

    Also I’ll be gone tomorrow. I’m heading south for the IERAL fundraiser. See you Sunday.

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    Originals Only Art Fairs (a rant)

    So I was talking on the phone the other day with a new artist friend, Olga Krasovska, whom I met at the Owatonna Art Festival. Olga is a painter originally from Russia, who has been in the US for about 4 years now. (I think I got that right, as I said we are newly acquainted. Olga, if you’re out there, feel free to correct me on anything.) Her paintings are beautiful and if only she had a website, (it’s on her to do list) I would point you to her.

    Anywho, she and I were exchanging information about art fairs. She’s looking to do more in Iowa and I’m looking to do more in Minnesota (her home state.) So the line of questioning was about what events we thought were good and that possibly the other should try. Since we’re both painters thats about as close to a guesstimate of how you’ll do at an unknown event, as you can get.

    “. . .explain to me why photographers get to sell multiples of their images, when no (other 2-D artist) can?”

    Then came several art events where my answer was all the same.

    Olga: Have you done Madison Wisconsin?
    Me: Nope, I hear it’s an excellent show but it’s originals only and so I have never even applied.

    Olga: Have you done College Hill, in Cedar Falls, Iowa?
    Me: Nope, I hear it’s an excellent show but it’s originals only and so I have never even applied.

    Olga: Have you done . . . Okay, you get the point.

    Originals Only Art Fairs . . . Answer Me This
    Both she and I have quality giclee prints of our work. And for both of us that often makes up the bulk of our sales. We are at a point and quality level where our originals command a higher price.

    “. . .how can I compete with jewelers, potters and photographers . . . who have $20-$50 items . . . while my originals have a much higher sticker price?”

    I mean sure, I have a handful of small originals that sell for $200-$300 but most of my work has a far higher sticker price. How can I compete against potters, jewelers and photographers when I am only allowed to sell originals. I mean those guys can have $20-$50 items, which make up a huge part of their over all sales.

    Here I sit, with my thousand dollar paintings next to them, praying for at least one sale to make my expenses. But hoping for two, so I actually show a profit.

    I know many art fairs claim “originals only” as some sort of quality control thing. What that leaves you for 2-D artists is corporate art (which I am not) or artists whose price range is low enough that perhaps it calls into question their skill level, (and that seems to me to contradict the whole quality intention,) or photographers.

    Also, explain to me why photographers get to sell multiples of their images, when no one else can? Seriously, do they think all of them are in the dark room. Of course most photographers have gone digital now. But then my question is, why are giclee photos prints allowed when giclee art prints not?

    “. . .why are giclee photo prints allowed when giclee art prints not?”

    Facing Extinction
    I know quite a few art fairs that are struggling to get enough 2-D artists, because 2-D artists are struggling to make it. People have only so much wall space, but there is always room for another pot or necklace. If you take away our ability to make sufficient sales by marketing reproductions, then we may not be able to compete. And there’s getting to be fewer of us all the time.

    In my In This Economy post, I mentioned two artists who quit their long time art gig for “real” jobs, guess what type of artist they were? Yup, painters both.

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    When Good Dogs Go Bad

    So after all my talk about going in and working versus painting the other day, in the end I stayed home. Good for you! You’re thinking. Well . . .

    The ginormous fuzzy offenders
    So I am finishing up some chores around the house, still in my lounge wear and slippers. And I trip and fall. It was a stupid reason to fall (as if ever there is a good one.) I was blissfully bustling about the house and I trip over my ginormous slippers. (shown here playing PS2 Jak X Combat Racer)

    These were a gift from my husband last year for Christmas, as my previous bunny slippers had worn completely out. (They looked like they had mange.) Now they were not your usual bunny slippers, oh no. These were like full size, whole-bodied, stuffed bunnies. Adorable when they were new. Kinda skanky towards the end.

    So, to my husband’s way of thinking, a new pair of completely non-age appropriate slippers will aid me in letting go of my rabid rabbits. And they did. Unfortunately, these dog slippers are twice the size of the bunny twins. You know . . . like clown feet. Clown feet with large flappy ears that you step on with the other foot and . . . well, you get the idea.

    “What I do have is a bruised knee and a bruised ego. I mean seriously I have a small rug burn on my face.”

    So anyway I land on my knee, then wrist and finally the part of me that stopped my downward spiral, my face. Uh huh . . . thaaaats right.

    As I lay on the floor, seeing stars and wondering if I knocked any teeth out (no, thank God) I begin testing my body to see if anything is broken, because I don’t bounce nearly as well as I used to. (Again no. Huge sigh of relief.)

    What I do have is a bruised knee and a bruised ego. I mean seriously I have a small rug burn on my face. My front teeth are a little sore yet, and I probably had a very slight concussion as I was light headed, with a ringing in my ears and a killer headache. Today I feel much better and as I was going to the dr. for my yearly bloodwork anyway, I mentioned it. All is fine. Rest and don’t do any activities which will slosh my brain around for a few days. Sheesh!

    So now when people look at my face, (though the burn mark is very small, I just know they are looking at it) I feel that I have to explain that I fell. And because I am just that sort of gal, I tell the truth as to why. I really do feel foolish. I mean why couldn’t it have been something sexy like skydiving or skiing in Aspen. Heck even being thrown from my horse would make me feel less stupid. Alas, such is the way of things.

    So have my dogs been sent off to be euthanized? Not yet. I’m thinking perhaps an ear cropping might be in order. Though additional measures may have to be taken.

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