Archive for April, 2009

Well . . . almost.
She’s Alive! Bwah-ha-ha! (should be read with a Frankensteinian energy. i.e. head thrown back, arms spread wide with claw-like fingers reaching toward the sky.)

It is Friday and I am still at home resting. But I went in to the gallery yesterday for about 4 hours. I opted to take yet another day off since Mike is still available to work it. Tomorrow he leaves for the weekend, which means I need to step up and work a full day. I think I’ll be ready. I am still a little light headed, but I should at least be able to manage the day without coughing up a lung. (big improvement)

And what about the art?
Needless to say I have done nothing art-wise. (I mean, pretty much my focus has been inhale . . . exhale . . . inhale . . . you get the idea.)

However my friend (and fellow art fair artist) Olga Krasovska has. (Notice we also share the impossible to pronounce last name thing.) She has finally got her website up and running (and a lovely site it is.) Olga paints on cotton fabric using a personalised technique mixing watercolor, ink and gouache. The painting to the left is one of my very favorites. So take a few minutes and check out Olga’s new website. I bet she’d also love to hear your thoughts.

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Hebee Jebee's

Well . . . My trip was almost enjoyable. Or at least, it would have been had I not gotten sick.

When I left I was feeling a little under the weather with a sore throat and a little tired. Couple that with talking with my friend on the drive until the wee hours and the cold front with rain, I wound up feeling pretty terrible by Saturday.

Poor Barb kept giving me the eye saying things like “I can’t afford to get sick.” I swear she wanted to decorate herself in garlic and make a crucifix with her fingers every time I coughed. (I’ve yet to be brave enough to call her to see if she came down with it.)

As I was driving, I got us home safely, but pretty much just crashed on the couch and haven’t left it for around 48 hours. Well . . . other than for the obvious.

I am hopeful that tomorrow I will be well enough to get back to work because I too cannot afford to get sick. The problem is this thing keeps morphing. It’s gone from a sore throat to something more akin to a sinus infection. (heavy sigh) Ah well. hope springs eternal.

Hmmmmm. . . . maybe I should call Barb. Urm . . . maybe I should email Barb? I forgot to mention I’ve lost my voice as well.

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Road Trip!

I’ve been working on a couple of informative posts as well as my article for Apples N’ Oats which is due in a few days, so I’ve been MIA from the blog. And now . . . I’m leaving for a couple of days for a framers trade show with a friend. We are headed for Minneapolis. We’re taking my big blue van so we can come back with all sorts of goodies.

We might also hit the Minnesota Horse Expo as it is running this weekend. Also a possibility for fun is Wet Paint, my all time favorite art supply store. Kinda depends how much energy we have and what we feel like at the moment. So see you all in a few. 🙂

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I got an email the other night saying that my dear friend Connie Herring (yes, the same Connie Herring of my paper making fun) was honored with the 11th Annual Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Visual Arts: at the Washington Pavilion of the Arts and Science in Sioux Falls, SD last Friday.

Now for those of you unfamiliar, Sioux Falls is not some tiny town the likes of which I live in. It is the second largest city in the state of South Dakota. Seriously big time award here.

I am so proud of her. Lord knows she deserves it. Still . . . not everyone who deserves something, gets it. I am truly honored to be able to say I know her and can call her my friend.

Kudos to you Connie!

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Budda's Portrait

I was looking on Melanie’s blog the other day and she mentioned a couple of pet portrait friends had come over for a visit. So I followed their links back and was once again impressed with the skill they possess at capturing not only the likeness but also the personality of their subjects. All that talent got me inspired to try to do Budda.

He is such a mischievous little bugger that I thought perhaps him napping might be a nice change of pace. You know . . . something I could reflect on art wise. So when he has done something really naughty, I can look at it and sigh wistfully.

The opportunity to take a couple of candid snaps presented itself much sooner than expected. He was passed out on the rug in a spot of sunshine after a full afternoon of pushing my buttons by climbing on top every surface in the gallery, where he is not allowed.

Okay here’s the odd bit. He meows to get my attention when he’s being bad. Oh yes, he knows he’s not supposed to be on my framing table (nothing more annoying than having to open up a frame because Budda left a calling card hair inside). But if my attention is otherwise occupied he wants to make sure I know he is being bad. I mean really what fun is being bad if no one “knows” your being bad.

So he meows plaintively, like he is hurt or lost. I come in slightly worried only to see him him lazing on some surface. I swear he mentally says “Tah Dah!” I growl a “Get down!” I am relieved he is okay and annoyed he has once again tricked me into rewarding his bad behavior by doing exactly what he wanted, And then he flees the room quite proud of himself. Only to meow 15 minutes later from another counter in another room. (I am seriously thinking of getting him a pet dog to keep him entertained.) Perhaps he is bored, but Mike and I give that cat so much attention and affection and . . . Oops got a little lost from my topic there.

So I see him napping and I grab the camera and gently ease myself down onto the rug with him. Yeah okay, so I should have guessed that as soon as he had my undivided attention he’d quit napping.

He promptly gets up and comes over for a cuddle. It’s hard to remember that I am annoyed with him when he is all warm and purring against my cheek. Little plushkin knows just how to play me.

Nothing here is portrait worthy. I’ll try again as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

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Still a WIP
Nope I’m not done yet but getting closer. Which is good because I’m getting a little tired of working on it. I’ve got to figure out where I want my grassy shadows and make them stand out a little more. Also I have a line in the grass that needs to be worked with. Other than that it is pretty much finished.

The grass has been mind numbingly slow, which reminds me why I developed my style so long ago. I got bored doing the background part so I kept cropping and cropping. When I do a painting like this, I say “Oh yeah, that’s right. I hate doing backgrounds with no contrasting elements” You’d think I would remember that.

Too real, too common
I sent a jpeg to my equine artist friend Barb McGee. She said she loved it, and it was the best that I’ve done (her work leans heavily toward realism) and then added her suggestions for improvement.

I emailed back, thanked her for her suggestions, told her I agreed with much of it. But then said that this isn’t my best work, nor is it my most realistic (though it’s in the running.) I hope it sells well and I am overall pretty pleased with it so far.

But this piece’s major flaw is, it is too common an image and too realistic. By too realistic I mean for judges. I won’t ever use this piece for competition or jury selection for any artfair I do. Not because I think it is weak or less a piece of “Art” than say Cowgirl. But because most judges will think that it is. Right or wrong that is how it works in my little section of the map. (This was the subject on which I have so many cranky stories that I mentioned in yesterdays post. Oh yes, I could tell you stories.)

I may strive for realism on one piece and then embrace color and impressionism on the next because I like challenging myself. I try to see how far I can push my personal boundaries with color usage and then again with hyper realism. I use images like Cowgirl for judging and images like my colt for making money. Cowgirl will sell but chances are not as well as the colt. (I am speaking about volume numbers of print sales. Both originals should sell easily. In fact already had someone want to buy Cowgirl out of the gallery but I’m holding on to her for a little while.)

A story I will tell
So much of the animosity from the income study comments came from the differences between art elitists who would like to sell their work, but struggle because it doesn’t connect with the majority of the public. And the sellers of traditional work (like myself) who receive derision from those who can’t. (Why is that anyway? Elephant dung on canvas is avant garde while a floral is fodder for the unenlightened. Oops there I go.)

In the end, I think it often depends on which side of the fence you’re sitting on. Here’s my favorite example.

We have a college in the area that offers art instruction. A long time, much loved and much respected teacher of this college recently retired from teaching. (He has taught many of the artists in the area) And so now has time to work on selling his art. (which is quite good) He does art fairs and a few gallery shows. At a reception for a gallery show he said . . . (again paraphrasing here) “I know I always told you that your art should not be a reflection of what the public thinks it wants. (long pause) I was wrong.” He didn’t explain it much other than now that he is trying to sell it, he understands.

You might even say, he is now “enlightened.”

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The Thing About Artists Is . . .

First of all I wanted to thank all of you who commented (both on and off blog) on the Artist Income Study post. It is always interesting to me about what artists have to say about money. So thank you!

Secondly, I decided to break this follow up into two posts because as usual it just keeps expanding even though when I started out it felt like there wasn’t that much I needed to say. Apparently there is.

Artist Income
I was working on the follow up post to the Artist Income Study of earlier this month. (which was spawned from reading a Robert Genn newsletter about artists tending to fall into poverty income brackets and that those with artistic degrees tend to earn less than those without,) when I ran into a little trouble. My opinions and stories started to lean a little onto the cranky side. This is not the tone I wanted to set, so I quit working on it and decided to read the latest comments to the initial newsletter instead.

“However, by creating art that connects with people I get to have a small but positive impact on their lives through my art. Not a bad gig when I really think about.”

I was a little surprised at how angry so many of the people got. (apparently I’m not the only one with issues) I believe one commenter said something like “you would have thought Robert Genn had stood up and told them all their work sucked.” (completely paraphrasing there.)

This is a very sensitive issue for most artists. It not only hits close to something they love to do, but also to a core belief in how they perceive what they do affects the world.

Personally I’ve experienced bias for my work which I took personally for a day or two and then let it go. Mostly I try to learn from it so I can better succeed at my desired goals. Which are: sell enough artwork to keep my bills paid. In doing so I can improve my artistic skill plus get the satisfaction of doing something which is personally rewarding. I have no illusions of grandeur. (none) I don’t want to be famous, (I really do hate the spotlight) nor do I believe that my work will immortalise me. However, by creating art that connects with people I get to have a small but positive impact on their lives through my art. Not a bad gig when I really think about.

For those who seek something greater . . . good on you and go for it.

In regards to money
I have never really thought of making money at art as hard. Well . . . not harder than making money doing anything else. Perhaps it is because I do so many artfairs that every year I am surrounded by artists successfully selling their goods. Many do these events for fun or hobby. But many others earn enough to live on and some to live on it very well. (Second homes, put their kids through college. That sort of thing.) Mind you it would be exponentially harder, if the art I was trying to sell was of an elitist nature. At least at art fair venues.

There are also plenty of artists making a good living selling through galleries or doing commission work. I think it is just the fact that anyone with a pencil in hand can claim to be an artist. I read a few years back that more people claimed themselves as artists on their taxes than lawyers, doctors and teachers combined. This is surely going to bring down the economic average as many of them are hobbyists.

Two Kinds of Artists
I think when broken down to it’s most simple form, there are two kinds of artists. Those who create work to sell and therefor must take into consideration what the public wants. And those who, for whatever reason can create art that needs not give an economic return.

For me the fact that what I do has public appeal in no way makes what I do less. My art is still an emotional and spiritual undertaking. Perhaps I am just fortunate that what I love to create has an audience. If the only thing the public wanted was say . . . abstract art, I would be screwed. There is nothing wrong with abstract art, it is just not me. I couldn’t create it or sell it and feel rewarded in any way. So by doing what I do, I am not pandering, I am simply connecting with the critter people of the world who want critter images on their walls.

Perhaps if everyone did want abstract art, I too would be wailing at the unenlightened public. Um . . . perhaps not.

Next Post

I will continue this discussion in Part 2. As well as show my latest colt wip as it actually relates to what we’re talking about here. (Anybody getting sick of looking at this little horse yet?)

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