The Stretch

aquafirWell, I talked about feeling like I was in a rut the last time.  I decided I needed input.  I have been painting for about 10 years and have not taken any classes since the very beginning and those were in watercolor..  Someone sent me a link to a class being offered by a local Artist.  The style he worked in was abstract and although I have done several and have loved the form,  I always felt less than  confident about my abilities.  I had gotten several DVD’s of Artists and watched other artists online create abstracts, but it never translated into going to the studio and creating something.   So, throwing all caution to the winds, I signed up for all three days of the class.

By the end of the class, I was not sure WHAT I had learned except that it seemed to give me permission to play.  That, apparently, was what was needed.  I have been having fun exploring this new area. There is something totally different about being in a class environment with other Artists (even though that is very scary) than watching a DVD or a video.  I was expecting nothing of substance to come from the class and in fact I came away with a painting that is now framed and on the wall.

And in the week that followed, I went to the studio and created a large canvas (larger that any I did in the class) which I am very pleased with.  That is represented here.  It is good to keep making art.


That One Great Idea

P1020426_2457I recently got to see Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” in person.  In the same room were several more paintings with the same idea, but different people that he had painted as “group vanity paintings”.   You can see a small portion of one of the paintings here.

I had been thinking about how I was painting the same “things” over and over.  Different animals, but in a similar fashion.  I had been worried that I was in a rut.  It is the age old question of whether you paint things that sell or you follow your interests.

Perhaps I was looking at the problem all wrong.  Rembrandt certainly kept painting these paintings because he was making a living doing so.  But, each painting is different and had different colors and different lighting.  So, I guess that finding something that people like to see and buy makes it easy to stay in that area.  I realized that I had not yet scratched the surface of all the ideas that I had in that area.  I might paint several dogs and cats and even a horse or two.   But at the same time, they do not have to be the same.  You can play with the style and composition, the color and light, and find a way to keep making art.

Leave Me Alone! I just want to paint.

veenker.connie.feelingsheepYes, the phone and the family are an interruption, but the rest of the world just won’t leave me alone.  I know I should be doing all that promotion stuff, but I just want to sit in the studio and paint.  Not worry about making a new business card, figuring out an e-mail marketing strategy, or my plan of attack for the coming year.

But, those are important too.  So how to make everything fit!  Sometimes it feels like I am juggling 4 plates in the air and have just been handed a 5th!

I thought I was doing really well, even ahead of the game.  I had been painting and creating other stuff and had even gotten the label making for our Open Studios Tour in June done (over 700 labels) in March .  How’s that for on the ball?  But, then a show came to my attention and the deadline loomed.  I decided that I HAD to have new pieces to enter, so guess what, there I was at the last minute sweating over creating something for the show.  And then, of course, the entry process was less than user friendly.

I am sure I am not the only Artist who feels they spend more time on the business than on the Art.  It can be really frustrating because, of course, the Art is the really fun stuff.  But I have to remember that I get a lot more fun in this job than most others.  When I was an Officer on the street, there were times when it was really fun.  You know, driving fast, foot chases, confessions.  But the other 80-90% of the time could be rather dull.  So, I guess, overall, I will keep this job and put up with the interruptions, because they are part of what makes it work.

Just so I find time to Keep Making Art!

Sometimes you lose

dog_portraitJust a quick note about the loss of our best friend.  After having just moved into this house, our wonderful friend and companion of 12 years was taken from us the day before Thanksgiving.  I had not been able to write about this til now because it feels like it was not yet time.  The back story is this:  when I was a Detective, I had a particularly awful child abuse case.  The mother of the victim did all the right things, which meant moving from their home to an apartment and therefore having to give up their 9 month old puppy (a purebred yellow Labrador Retriever).  I had previously met the dog and when she mentioned she had nowhere else for him to go, I offered to take him.  We had no dogs, so it was a bit of a learning curve; all the way around.  He soon became the center of our Universe.  From puppy to playful grown dog, he was a joy to have around.  I started a portrait of him, without knowing what lay ahead.  That portrait did not get finished until about a week ago because it just sat in my studio and I could not work on it.  But here it is… I do not feel that it is  finished (and perhaps it never will be) because my memory is stronger than my ability to paint it.

Happy Trails Baby Boy

Location, Location, Location

got sheep (640x632)So, they say in real estate that location is everything. But I never thought that was important in Art. Turns out that after I moved from a very remote location to a more central location, my open studio experience changed dramatically.

I had always had a steady number of people come to my twice yearly open studio sale, but when we moved into a more central location, my numbers doubled and so did my sales. It was quite a surprise, I guess I had figured that most of the people in the area had seen my work, but that was clearly not the case. Most of the sales I made at the new location were from people who had never been to my studio before.

This experience just reminds me of how important it is to use the same criteria in picking your outside shows venues and the galleries you choose to show in. A nice gallery that gets no walk-ins because it is located in an awkward place is not doing you any good. Likewise a show that has not done its job of advertising and promoting might also be a waste of your time. All of these outside things eat up your art making time. The prep work for a show or gallery, the transport and time spent at the booth or a reception are not reimbursed if you don’t sell any art, so pick wisely so you can Keep Making Art.

The Big Easy

New Studio Door

“New Studio Door”

OK, moving is never easy.  And downsizing your life is always hard.  Not just the personal stuff, but how about all those art supplies.  I recently moved from a 400 square foot studio with all kinds of storage to a 150 square foot extra bedroom with a tiny walk in closet.  At least I have a separate entrance, but am a little tight on storage for all the art supplies.  So, I started going through stuff with the intent to get rid of things I might never use.  Problem is, I might use it all.  Get rid of the oil pastels, I said.  But then the inner artist said that perhaps you might use them for a project.  I have never tried encaustic yet, so maybe that chunk of wax? Oh no, I’m for sure going to try that!  How about all that drawing paper.  Even if I keep using it, it might outlast me.  Yeah but it is all kinds of DIFFERENT paper, so I must keep it.  Do I hear the word “hoarder” rattling around in my brain?  Where do you draw the line?

It ended up that I did get rid of some things, before and after the move.  I also got a more organized way of storing all the stuff, so that I can use my space properly.  And the move seemed to throw everything into a tizzy, so I ended up not painting for quite a few months.  But just when I thought all was lost, even though the studio was still a ruin, I actually sat down and painted.  I think the knowledge that in a month people would be coming here for an open studio set the engine in high gear.  Forget about where the pots and pans go…… Keep Making Art.

Falling Off the Cliff

"Karma""Good Karma"No, not the fiscal cliff, the artistic cliff. Have you ever been asked to create something you have no history with? Did it make you have flop sweat or feel slightly sick?  You are not alone.

Recently I was asked to paint a portrait of a dog. Having never painted or drawn a dog, I was nervous.

I wasn’t sure I could do it or if they would like it.  But, I chose to step outside my comfort zone and am glad I did.

For many people a dog is a member of the family.  Trying to capture the personality that they know and love can be tricky, especially if you have never met the dog.  I worked from pictures and made it clear to the client that there was no obligation to like the painting.  I felt that gave us each an option to walk away if things did not work out.

The first painting was well received and someone else saw it and asked me to do their dog (the one pictured here). That became a surprise Christmas present and the person receiving it was delighted.

I captured the heart shape spot on the nose and it was (unbeknownst to me) a special feature on their dog.
I now have two more paintings I am going to do.

Stretching your abilities is very scary and thrilling at the same time.  I guess the lesson here is that you should never be afraid to try something new. And in trying it, you may find there is an area of Art that you enjoy doing.

Keep making Art.