Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ninety-Eight and Counting

Before I forget (again), you're invited to my solo exhibition titled "One Square Mile" at The Burkholder Project in Lincoln, Ne. It's a collection of paintings based on a single square mile north of my town. I'm pretty pleased with the work, and I think you will be as well. Come hang out with me Friday, March 5th from 7-9 pm for the opening reception.

@ 2010 P Scarborough, Sunflowers, 12x12 oil

Also, before I forget (again), I wanted to brag a bit. I received Best of Show at the annual Wings Over the Platte Exhibition at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Ne. Based on the "competition", it's a pretty big deal to get noticed. I am pleased and honored.

@2010 P Scarborough Platte River Spring 11 x 14 Pastel

I just realized that I've made nearly 100 posts. O n e H u n d r e d.
W o w.
Gosh, don't you think I should do something really cool to mark this occasion?
In two weeks, I will post my 100th missive. To tempt you to attend the party, I'm gonna give away treats.
If you, Dear Reader, post a comment, any comment, I'll put your name into my special hat. On the evening of my 100th post, I'll draw a name from said special hat. The owner of said name shall become the new owner of a painting by ... drum roll please ... Patricia Scarborough herself!!
It'll be an oil. Probably 5x7, or 8x10-ish. Probably pretty wonderful, no doubt.
So, I'll see you Friday night? And I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blue Heifers and Other Serious Business

It's not uncommon for us artists to take ourselves verrrrry seriously. After all, we deal in truth, angst, the Golden Mean (have you ever tried figuring that one out?) and other undecipherable stuff. We uncover truth. We wear black.

So it was with absolute delight that I accepted a commission from a dear patron to paint a cow. A big one. Make it blue. A 4-H heifer for you purists. With flowers around its neck, please.

'Clover' 2010 copyright Patricia Scarborough, 36x48" oil

Alyson Stanfield wrote a recent post on her ArtBizBlog about working hard, and having fun. She compares carving out a reputation as an artist to Shaun White, Olympic gold medal winner in the snowboarding competition.
Anyone who has tried to walk across a frozen parking lot in the winter can attest to the difficulties of making it across a slippery surface. Snowboarders purposely fling themselves across super-slick courses while standing on a super-slick board, doing loopty-flops and whirly-thingys and then landing upright to sail gracefully across the finish line. It's serious business, with lots of endorsement money and reputations on the line. They train hard to perfect their style and build stamina for competition.

And these folks have fun.

Artists and snowboarders have alot in common. Sometimes they dress funny. Sometimes so do we. They work really really hard to improve their skills. So do we. A few of them make good careers out of their chosen field of expertise, and a few of us do too.

Do we have as much fun, though? Some of the art blogs I read are so full of self-importance and seriousness I can hardly stand to read them. Too many artists take themselves so SO seriously, as if to smile about their work would be to pull the rug out from under their hard-earned earnestness. Too many conversations with artists are, well, painful. Anguish, frustration, lots of delving and working hard and being misunderstood.

I'm with Alyson and Shaun. You betcha work hard. You betcha make a ton of money. And for heavens sake, stop taking yourselves so seriously! Laugh a little. Paint something that makes you smile. Squeeze out too much pink, and use it all up. Spend as much time recording the goofy side of being human as you do recording the hard parts of life on this planet.

Day 93 Tagged, 2009 copyright Patricia Scarborough, 5x7" oil

Take time now and then to paint a cow. They're terrific, really. Better yet, make it blue. Just for fun. Make yourself, and us, smile.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

When the Art Can't Speak for Itself

@ 2010 Cottonwood Study, 8x10 oil Private Collection

In my last post I listed a few of the things a solo-preneur must handle. Creator, bookkeeper and marketer come to mind. I'm adding videographer to the list.

My pal, Canadian artist Mavis Penney, and I were discussing the many aspects of what it means to be an artist. Among them is the dreaded M word. At least in my world it's dreaded.

Marketing brings to mind balding used car salesmen in polyester pants and plaid shirts screaming deals from the boob tube. I imagine a late-night infomercial, touting the virtues of a little plastic thingy I can't live without, which will cost less if I buy them by the gross. Then there's shipping and handling...

Mavis reminded me that authentic, honest marketing, the kind coach Molly Gordon supports, is really no different than having a conversation. No shouting. No pointing. No free shipping if you order now.

I don't have a storefront, or even a late-night infomercial at my disposal. I do have a video camera. And a blank wall. A tripod for the camera. A website. I even wrote a script so that I wouldn't have to pause and stammer while trying to remember that terrific ... whatever it was I was going to say.

Thirty or so takes into the project my voice is shot and so is my camera battery. I'm beginning to think that maybe this wasn't such a good idea. I feel like a complete idiot chatting away to myself in front of this unblinking eye. I feel even worse watching myself.

So this week I'll practice some more, refine my presentation and post it on my website. I'll share a conversation with my viewers about my One Square Mile project, how I start, what I've learned from limiting myself to a single tract of land. It'll be available to my newsletter readers only. Kind of a special gift to them. If you're interested, sign up here.

I'll squeeze it in between painting sessions, because after all, I am a painter.

When all is said and done, it's the artwork that speaks the loudest. That and a plaid shirt.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Coffee Talk

@ 2010 Square 12 Corn Rows 12x12 pastel

After holing up in my toasty warm studio for what seems like months, I ventured out this weekend to hang with my fellow artists.

Claiming a table at the Blue Moon Coffee Shop in Hastings, it was a great afternoon spent laughing with and supporting fellow travelers on the artistic path. To bring focus to the conversation, we call ourselves the MidNebraska Arts Alliance, a group of professionally minded painters, photographers and sculptors devoted to growing as artists and business people.

Being a studio artist of any variety is lonely business. Most of us serve as creator, business manager, marketing agent and laundry queen (or king). What ever it is that we create is done solo, with all decisions being ours. When it works, it's a heady experience. When it doesn't, or when we're not certain which direction to take, it's like being in a small rowboat on a big sea. With a hole in our paddle. And a breeze coming up. A shark fin on the horizon. get the idea.

Having a small cadre of folks who speak the same language and have the same worries, successes, predicaments or desires is important for for us soloists. Handsome Husband is my biggest supporter, hands down. And when I start speaking of a new creative vision, or analyzing shadows or textures his sweet blue eyes glaze over slowly.

When I meet with my MNAA peeps however, it's instant understanding. We all share the same desire to grow. We've cultivated not only friendship, but a desire to see our fellow artists succeed.

Make no mistake, we're not a bunch of whiney po'baby back-patters. No complaining allowed at these summits. Our recent focus was a discussion of the concepts marketing guru Seth Godin shares in his 2003 book Purple Cow. Whatever our conversational topic we all have the same reference point - artist/solopreneur - and we distill information through the filter of our artistic goals, leaving room for shared wisdom. What works for me won't work for metal sculptor Sally Jurgensmier, and it might not click with painter Nicole Gustafsson, Deb Swisegood or Marcy Maley, but I'll have their support, their interest and their concern.

They're a group worth coming out into the cold for.

And if you need another good reason to bundle up and head out, H A Waring Johnson, local photographer and friend, is exhibiting her images at Noyes Gallery in Lincoln, Ne. It's worth the trip to see what she sees.

What gets you out of the studio?