Friday, May 30, 2008

Show and Tell

I'm a bit late in getting these up. Nebraska has been hit with tremendous storms the past few days, and I've kept my computer unplugged for safety. A few days ago our block was hit by lightning and most of the tv's in the neighborhood are on the disabled list. The house closest to the strike features a charred living room and blown out windows. Today the sun is shining and the sky is a lovely clear shade of blue. For now.

These images are from my recent Bassett workshop. These folks worked hard, and it shows. I'd love to take the credit and tell you I'm a fantastic teacher, but the credit goes to these artists who were focused and committed. My hat goes off to you!

The first and second pieces belong to Ki (that's K-eye with an "i").
She really stretched herself and tried some dramatic and exciting combinations. One of the hardest parts of being in a workshop is experimenting without the expectation of finishing a piece. It's scary to work in front of other people. You want to be know as a "good" artist, and trying out new techniques under the watchful eye of other artist's is hard on the ego. Ki put all that aside and created some truly beautiful work.

Pat is an avid fisherman, and when she pulled out a large photo of a pike in the shallows, I had my reservations. Pat is a potter by trade, and had never worked in pastels.
She jumped in (pardon that pun) and worked fearlessly on this piece. It is vibrant and exciting.

It's awesome teaching others. I learn each time from my students, probably more than they learn from me.

Look for more student work as the weather clears.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Greetings one and all! Just got back from a terrific workshop in Bassett Nebraska.
Near the northern border of our state, it's a plein aire painter's paradise. Too many people think that artists are few and far between here in the heartland. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most communities in Nebraska have Arts Councils, and Bassett, population under 800 souls, is no exception.

This crew worked hard for two days learning about pastels. What a great group of artists! They watched attentively as I demonstrated working with the medium, and were gracious as I learned right along with them.

Many thanks to the Sandpainter's Art Club for inviting me, to the Bassett Arts Council for footing the bill, and to Celeste and Pat for putting me up in their lovely cabin.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pledge to Fledge

This morning I enjoyed several cups of coffee on my patio early in the morning. It's just gorgeous out.
Those of you who live in the midwest will understand this. We've had a particularly long, tedious winter. The morning is crisp, with hints of warmth in the sun as it peaks over the trees to the east. The leaves on the cottonwood across the alley just barely vibrate as they pick up the heat of the sun and begin to do that little dance they do. The sky is intense blue, fresh and clean. No wind. For Nebraskan's, that's a big deal. In fact, for the past four days or so we've had little wind. I feel a bit like I've been transported to another planet, or at least another state. Nebraska always has wind. But not now. It's peaceful, in an astoundingly quiet kind of way.
But this is not the best part. The best part is the birds. They are declaring themselves, each and every one of them. Cardinals, robins, wrens, sparrows, warblers and orioles all out spreading the word. It's spring, and their babies are leaving the nest.
I've watched several fledglings flop across the yard, too large for their own good, flying messily about until they get the jist of it and really take off. How do they do it? Not fly, but get the courage to go?
Birds have it over us humans. They just do it. No pep talks, no classes, no internet chat groups led by courage gurus. They just go. Just because. Are they scared? Most likely. Being scared is a good thing. It keeps you aware. Those little creatures simply do what they're destined to do. Some make it, others don't, but it's not from lack of trying.
I pledge to be more like a fledgling bird this spring. I'm going to move into the days ahead with a "just go for it" attitude. I may flop around doing it, but by golly, I might just learn to fly.
For a lovely inspiring video of wrens leaving their nest, visit Christine Kane's always terrific blog. Watching those tiny birds take off is better than all the self-help books on the shelf.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bon Voyage

In a conversation recently with a group of artists who were part of Alyson Stanfield's Artist Breakthrough Program, one of the members said something that wraps up my last two blog rants in a lovely way. Many thanks to Lyn Bishop for sharing her gentle and positive attitude.

Lyn prepares her beautiful artwork in a heartfelt manner for a bon voyage to it's new owner. She affirms the creative spirit of her efforts, and honors each piece with a hopeful blessing. Rather than cutting ties to her work because the process of discovery is over and the price tag is hung, she literally wishes her pieces the very best and encourages them to find new homes. I imagine it's the same way mothers send their children off into the world. Grow them up, give them everything you've got to give them, and then gently give your children to their futures.

For an artist the creative process is paramount. In order to continue that process, commerce is necessary. Let's do it in a manner that honors every step of the way.

So, to the Art Collector in a previous post who will likely squeeze my painting between her magazine rack and end table, behind the lamp and wing chair, it's a beautiful place for that painting. Thank you for your purchase. Whenever you grab a magazine, you'll see that lovely painting and think good thoughts.

That's all anyone can ask.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Flip Side

Thanks for the comments on the last post. Interesting perspectives all.

Here's the flip side of that coin:

How would Mr. or Mrs. John Q. Collector feel if they knew we artist's didn't always agonize over each and every brushstroke? Don't we artists make a big deal about our souls and our creative spirits and who ever else lives inside our studios with us? We moan about the lack of appreciation of our skills, the lack of understanding of our gentle spirits. We wax poetic about inspiration and artistic muses.

But admit it. Every now and then we get lucky. Every now and then while we're making a grocery list in the back of our minds and deciding on new wallpaper for the bathroom, a painting magically appears on the easel. It may not be cutting edge, but it's pretty good looking. Sign it and go start dinner.

In my last post I was in high dudgeon over a collector not respecting the art of collecting. Stockpiling was more like it I grumbled. But am I being respectful of the public when I sign and frame - and ask big money for - a painting that took less time to paint than the amount of time it took to wash out my brushes?

The blush is off the rose. Making a living as an artist involves a reality check. To be sure, being an artist is about the coolest thing on the planet. We get to dream and wonder and walk around with paint in our hair. But we also have to pay our bills, just like every other small business owner.

Painting or drawing or sculpting belongs within the realm of creativity. Selling belongs in the realm of commerce. There's no room for sissies in either place.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Collection Agency

I was visiting recently with an art collector. Those words should probably be entered Art Collector, since she made it quite clear to me and anyone else within earshot that she owned enough art to fill every room in her house. Plus the garage, and I am not kidding. She was preparing to anoint me the next artist in her "collection". So why am I not thrilled?

Years ago she explained to me that she had so much artwork some of it ended up in her garage. She was wealthy beyond reason, and decided to become an art collector. Guess that beat collecting salt and pepper shakers. To help her regain her home she hired a "stager", a person who sort of re-decorates your house with stuff you already own. Along with rearranging some furniture, Stager Person pulled a ton of artwork off the walls and stored it away. The house is magazine ready, but stacks of collected art lay under beds, in the laundry room and yes, out in the garage. What got left matched the furniture.

So here's how she announces her intention: " I'm going to buy a small piece, it'll be easier to find a place to squeeze it in". Squeeze it in? Where is she going to put it? Behind the cereal boxes and left of the condiments in the kitchen cupboard? Between the fridge and the wall? Or out in the shed just behind the weed whacker? I mean, I'm honored that she wants the painting, and the money will be nice. But what of her feelings toward the painting. Does she love it as much as I do or is she a serial collector who has no feelings for what she collects, and just wants more. Maybe for her, buying art beats collecting china dolls with big creepy eyes.

I don't want to let her have this painting. She doesn't really love it, she just wants it because she can. The dilemna is: am I painting to sell, or painting to show? Do I give every potential buyer a personality test so that I know they're worthy of owning a painting of mine? How does any artist know how their artwork will be treated once it leaves their possession?

Should it matter?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Starting Fresh

Greetings One and All-
I'm starting fresh, a clean slate and all that. After many fits and starts, we'll give it another go.

If you haven't already, stop by my web site at PScarboroughArts for a quick peak into my world.

Sign the guest book or leave a comment, some footprint to let me know I'm being watched.