Thursday, June 26, 2008

I live in south central Nebraska. It's a beautiful place. We count more cornstalks per square mile than people so there's lots of landscape from which to draw inspiration. We don't have, however, alot of folks to share artful conversation with. I'm not talking about the snooty, nose-up-the-air kind of conversation. The kind where we kick Thomas Kincaid under the bus and speak in hushed tones about the latest paint-thrower or wordsmith. I'm talking about the kinds of conversations creative people have when they want to wonder out loud about something to someone who will not stare back at them until drool creeps out from the corners of their mouths.

I have two dear friends who are working at creative endeavors. Friend A is an aspiring artist of the paint variety. Friend B is an artist of the pen and ink kind. Very different genres, but many of the same topics to discuss.

The issue that comes up the most in our conversations is whether we actually work. As in, "You don't work, so you can write/paint all day long. Must be nice."

It's often frustrating for us to have nothing to show for our labors at the end of the day. No pile of bricks moved from one place to another, no stack of papers in our out box. I'm not saying that we didn't accomplish alot, but it's often times in our heads, or doodled on a napkin or written in the margins of a book that's being read. Those kinds of things are hard to measure in this culture of "I got this much, how much you got?"

To Friend A and Friend B, thanks for listening. I hope you felt listended to, and honored for your hard work. Thanks for sharing your struggle with me. I know I'm not alone in my creative endeavors, and neither are you.

Do you work?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cottonwood Art Festival

Am I just the luckiest person? What a great weekend.

Friday started out with a trip to Hastings Nebraska, home of the Cottonwood Art Festival at Brickyard park. This beautiful park was filled with artisans of all kinds, potters, crafters, sculptors, painters, and the Spoon Man, Mr. Wilmot.

Angela of Graham Gallery played host to her stable of artists by erecting a tent/gallery, a virtual home away from home for those of us who hang our work there. The evening weather was perfect and the crowds were, well, crowded. Hanging out with me under the big-top were Jane Marie and Liz Halsted, fabric artists extraordinaire; Max Miller, photographer; Nicole Gustaffsson, wunderkind; Sally Buss, master sculptress; Marcy Maley, oil stick artist; photographer Jorn Olsen and master of many media, Jeremy Daniels.

Saturday we had a wonderful Father's Day family day. Our boys are men now, and hanging out with them is a special treat. Funny, smart and engaging, we wonder who they take after.

Sunday we were back at the festival, greeting folks and hanging out with other artists. I'm so pleased to have met William and Janey, who took home a lovely little oil painting . I know after having a conversation with them that it's in good hands.

Yes, I'd say I'm a lucky girl.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sold on Giving!

Handsome Husband and I spent a lovely evening with some truly terrific people this weekend. The Masonic Home in Plattsmouth, Nebraska hosted a Garden Party as a means of raising funds to renovate a wing of this beautiful retirement home.
The campus of this establishment is gorgeous, manicured and spotless in the kind of way that means it always looks that good.
We were treated to a fabulous dinner, the likes of which I doubt I'll ever taste again. Gorgeously presented, I'd have taken a photo of it, but it took both hands to handle my overflowing plate.
They even arranged for a plane to fly overhead with a banner reading: "Thanks Masonic Home Donors". How cool is that?! A silent auction gave folks the opportunity to offer financial support on a smaller scale, and a live auction was held for those folks who spend willingly and openly. And generously. Auctioneer Randy Fleming of Great Plains Realty-Auction kept the bidding spirited. I was honored to have been asked to donate a painting for the auction and I'm tickled to tell you that Reg Kuhn, Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge of Nebraska, won the bid for "Dismal River", a lovely little pastel painting if I do say so myself! (Check it out on my web site under the pastel gallery).
It was a great time spent with dedicated people who choose to serve others in honorable ways.
Despite what you see on tv, or read in the paper, this world is full of truly good people doing truly good things. I'm thrilled to be a part of such an event.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Art of Giving

I had the priviledge this past weekend to hang out with some very cool people. Dustin Van Wechel was in Hastings Nebraska at Graham Gallery to share his oil painting expertise. Angela, owner of the gallery, puts on a great workshop. It's more like a play date with friends than anything else.
(Here Dustin is helping Jean with her still life.)

The class culminated in a plein aire event at Praire Loft, an environmental educational conference center located west of Hastings. Paintings created during the day were auctioned off to raise funds for refurbishing Prairie Loft buildings.

Most workshop instructors offer their demo pieces for sale. I've known a few who get downright mercenary about it. Dustin wraps up his workshops by drawing names out of a hat. Those whose names are drawn are the proud owners of his demo paintings. Is that cool? And I'm tickled to tell you that I'm now the proud owner of a real live Dustin Van Wechel 8 x 10 oil painting. Hot Diggity!

Now that I think of it, the entire weekend was about giving. Artists gathered to share with each other in a lovely open supportive atmosphere. Paintings were offered for auction without any expectation of compensation. It was wonderful.

I've given 3 paintings to worthy causes this year. Didn't make a dime. Can't even use it as a tax write off. But y'know what? It feels good. It's an easy way to help build bigger things than me. Dustin gives his demo paintings. Angela gives support and friendship to her artists. What do you give?