Sunday, April 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary Again

Greetings Dear Reader –

In a desperate attempt to find a nugget of inspiration for this post I spent some time scrolling back into my own archives.  Post after post, year after year until the list ran out. The date was May 6th, 2008.


Four years?? Four years ago next week!! How did that happen? 

One post at a time my dear. One post at a time.

More importantly, why?

February, 2007. I had stepped away from an 8-to-5 job that I often enjoyed, but also left me frustrated and empty.  You may know that feeling, that gnawing, low hum in the back of your heart.  It couldn't be ignored any longer. With Handsome Husband’s complete support I created a small studio space in our home and whispered, “I’m ready.  I want – I need – to give this painting thing a shot. ”

I had no reason for blogging other than the fact that Alyson Stanfield, art business consultant, suggested that it was an important component of an artist’s public presence (pg. 104 of her excellent book “I’d Rather Be InThe Studio”). Since I actually paid her for that advice (one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, by the way) it occurred to me to actually follow it, so I set up my password, my template and my color scheme and started thumping away at the keyboard.  I started it because she said so.

But what has kept me coming back week after week for all these years?

Simply put:  you, Dear Reader; Handsome Husband; and me.

Many of you have shared my exploits since the beginning. You know how I operate, what gets me going and keeps me at my easel day after day. You’ve allowed me to pull back the gauzy veil that hides the inner workings of the artist’s sanctum sanctorum and laughed (or rolled your eyes) with me. Sorry if I popped your illusion of the artist’s groovy life. (Who knew that an artist painting a charming landscape in a field nearby may have just crawled out of a hole they stepped into that swallowed them to their elbows?   Did Monet ever do that?) 

A few of you have been kind enough to comment, and let me know that somehow we found common ground; maybe not in exactly the same way, but in spirit or in ideal, or maybe in the way I turned a phrase.  Thank you for that.

Handsome Husband has kept track of me as well. His patience and support means the world to me.  I often write for him as a way of sharing what has gone on in my heart and mind while wrestling with the profound as well as inane elements of this business.

And I keep at this weekly blog for me. Like learning states and capitols in 3rd grade, quite simply this is good for me.  Working alone deep in the right side of my brain it becomes entirely too easy to let logic, linear thought and formal sentence structure slide deeper into one more pile of Stuff I Used to Know. 

It’s been a journey of discovery and you’ve been kind enough to come along for the ride.

How to celebrate this momentous occasion?  Prizes!  Gifts for all!  Well, maybe not all. How about just  one of you.  But who? (To whom? Another addition to Stuff I Used to Know.)

Leave a comment before 4 pm on Sunday, May 6th.    I’ll put your name into Handsome Husband’s Magic Hat.  With his help – as usual – a name will be drawn, and a winner declared.  To that dear commenter (is that a real word? Another thing I for the pile…), I will give this painting:

©2012 Patricia Scarborough  Flowering Crab 6 x 8 Oil on Panelli Telati canvas covered board
No strings attached.  Give, like a sweet present. Just because.
HH and I were enjoying our usual walk by the Fillmore County Fairgrounds. Several years ago a grove of flowering fruit trees was planted to help tame that corner of town. When the late afternoon sun recently swept across this little orchard…gorgeousness.  It’s a distinct possibility that this painting will be the first of a series of paintings of this lovely grove of trees. 
I have learned abundance in the last four years.  I would love to share that abundance with you.

Help me celebrate my blogging achievement. You don’t have to say anything grand, a sweet ‘hey’ will do. 

Thank you for coming along all these years. Let’s celebrate, shall we?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Aha's and Free Gimme's

I’ve just wrapped up my last spring workshop commitment, this one in Grand Island, Nebraska, home of the Grand Island Sketch Club, Stuhr Museum and Prairie Winds Art Center.

Thanks to the Grand Island Hy-Vee store for allowing us the use of their Community Room.

This group consisted of experienced painters who have  won their share of accolades. Their names are already written in the histories of art collections and awards near and far.

The challenge for me was this; how do you teach a group of artists who have probably forgotten more about painting than I’ve yet learned?

The solution was to share what I know about what I do, and get out of the way. Watch from the back of the room and learn from them. Offer a fresh eye now and then; a “what if…” and then zip my lip.

Ethel and Edith prove we're never - ever - too experienced to try something new.

Creativity of any kind is a solitary business. Guidance and experience from others can be absorbed on a certain level, but I strongly believe it is in the quiet hours alone that those ideas coalesce and take form, where the aha’s take up residence in fertile soil and begin to grow.  How, or even whether, those moments take shape and grow into something useful is up to each artist.

An 'aha!' taking shape

For many who want to pursue a creative life, there is often a jarring moment when the delight of creativity bumps up against the reality of the hard and focused effort it takes to do it more than once.  Dorothy and her friends found that out when Toto pulled back a curtain to reveal a solitary man working like mad to create the illusion of something else, some otherworldly thing.  Her first reaction was disappointment and loss; if the vision of the wizard weren’t real, than what chance did she have to get what she wanted?  The surprise was that she had the tools, but it was up to her to do the work. 
Getting together with other artists – especially women artists – is a wonderful way to network with those who share the same interests and frustrations; to deal with not only our creative challenges and solutions but to share the quandaries of our personal lives as well. When that’s all said and done, we still go back to our kitchen tables or spare bedrooms and do the work we set out to do – alone.
This week, that’s where I’m headed. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to spend extended hours at my own work and I’m anxious to see where it’ll take me. 

One definite goal is to make plans to celebrate the 4th year anniversary of sharing my thoughts and ideas via this blog.
Four years?! What to do…what to do?
Why, I think another Free Gimme is in order!
You can enter my 4th Anniversary Free Gimme by commenting on any post in my blog library during the next 2 weeks.  You don’t have to say anything particularly brilliant, a sweet hellow is plenty. Your name will go into Handsome Husband’s Magic Hat, from which a name will be drawn out sometime in the early evening of Sunday, May 6th.   (For the slightly paranoid among you, there is no ulterior motive. I’m just tickled that you’re out there reading.)
We'll draw out a name. To that person will go a lovely 6 x 8 oil painting. How's that for a way to celebrate?
Until then - go create something! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Teaching the Teacher

I had the great honor of teaching a pastel workshop to a group of artists and art teachers this past weekend in Columbus, Nebraska, in the beautiful Central Community College Fine Arts building.


This class was much too short. Not that we didn’t get a ton accomplished, but we – or at least I – had so much fun. I love working with artists who are willing to accept ideas or concepts with which they are not familiar.  Believe me, I know it’s uncomfortable to step away from what has been successful and makes you look good to try new techniques or theories, especially in a situation where your efforts can be scrutinized by others.  The courage and openness with which these folks took on new ideas and approaches was gratifying and exciting.  I can’t believe I get paid to have so much fun.

Sharing your accumulated knowledge in any setting is a huge challenge, and one I heartily encourage everyone to try, at least once.  It’s one thing to think you know your stuff and to use it yourself in the comfort of your workspace away from distractions and differing opinions.  Alone in your studio you can trip and stumble and start again without witnesses. With eager students taking notes on your every word and waiting for you to give them the keys to the secret of successful landscape painting it’s a whole ‘nuther thing. Humbling indeed.

Trying to organize everything you’ve ever learned in your brain, form it into complete sentences using words that may or may not convey exactly what you want, get it to dribble out your mouth in the right order, bounce off someone else’s experience and  settle comfortably onto the space between you, your student and their easel is an immense challenge and responsibility.  Then to squeeze it into useful units of time over a too-short couple of days…

What you know, and think you know; learned and think you learned; read somewhere but can’t quite remember where is all put to the test.
You’ve also got lunchtime, snack time, bathroom breaks and bouts of giggling and silliness to squeeze in there as well.  For those of us who work alone, those can be the most important times.

The big challenge, from my experience, is for students – and teachers - to get comfortable failing in front of their peers. We all want to impress our friends, even in a class. No one wants to look like a klutz. However, classes should be where klutziness is encouraged, and even honored.  If you keep doing what you’re good at, what’s the point?  (I have bombed rather spectacularly in front of a class demonstrating a technique. I save my tortured ego by believing that it gives those watching some relief to know that even those of us "in the know" have their moments. )

(Voted coolest painting apron. I gotta get me one a those.)

Huge thanks to the gang in Columbus for your kindness and grace and for making my weekend so great. 

Take a class. Better yet, teach someone. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Light Goes Out

You’ve heard the news by now; renowned and reviled Painter of Light (trademark) Thomas Kinkade has died.

Hundreds of articles are being written about him even as I write mine, and thousands of online readers are posting comments either adoring or scathing and snarky. As a member of the art community, and a blogger as well, I get to add my 2 cents and small beam of light to the conversation. (And for using the word ‘light’ in connection with his name, I will probably get sued and owe money to his estate.)

 It seems folks either love him or hate his work. I was never a fan. My friend has a small collection. His images make her feel good.  They don’t trip my trigger.  So what’s the big deal?

I suppose we want our artists to fit our pre-conceived mold; artist as thoughtful, slightly daft, non-business oriented, emotional,  shy, as set-apart from the 9 to 5 world as the moon is from the sun.

It appears that Kinkade was none of those things.  He was a calculating business man and a marketing whiz.  He provided the masses with charming cottages and flower-lined paths despite the best efforts of the current art movement to shock and bewilder with preserved sharks and giant ballooncreatures.

He was the art world’s version of Wal-Mart.

Don’t we all love to bash Wal-Mart? They’re everywhere; inexpensive, low brow, white-bread.  It is said they don’t pay their employees what they deserve.  They buy goods from companies outside our borders. Their growth has stifled small business owners and wiped out individual shops across the country.

And yet…

When you need a gallon of paint, a pair of white socks, a box of cereal and a tire iron, it’s just so much easier to sneak into Wal-Mart and grab it all in one fell swoop.  We can hate ourselves for it tomorrow.

Wal-mart fills a void that Harrod’s doesn’t  – or won't. (Can you imagine Wal-Mart having a visitor's guide?) Kinkade filled the void left by Damien Hirst and others of his ilk. Kinkade understood that and played the game like a master. 

At a certain level, it’s all business. Sorry to burst that bubble.

Flick the lights once or twice.  Shoppers, the store will be closing in 10 minutes.

Condolences to the Kinkade family.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

Join the Club

I promised you photos of yesterday's closing reception, and you shall have them.  Handsome Husband and I are pooped and exhilarated, and deeply grateful for all the support we received from family, friends and the staff at Stuhr Museum.
Oh, and we made the 10/11 News channel twice; here, and here.

Lots of good friends braved gorgeous temps outside to spend the afternoon with us...

... to catch up on friendships ...

... and renew acquaintances ...

... and to enjoy being seranaded by local talent Helen Johnson.

Oh yes, and to spend time appreciating not only my Land Marks exhibit, but the Wings Over the Platte exhibit as well.

©Patricia Scarborough  Birch Moon  10 x 8 oil on panel   Recently added to a Private Collection

Nearly a third of the paintings from the Land Marks exhibit ended up in the collections of discriminating patrons. Pleased beyond belief barely scratches the surface of describing the feeling.

I have always painted for myself, which is a risk. I have no idea if my work is acceptable to the market or prevailing decorating schemes or next year's colors. When someone adds my work to their collection it is profoundly satisfying because it is based on something deeper than a passing fad.

It's like getting the secret password to an awesome private club, complete with a covert handshake and sly wink. Pretty exclusive. Very special.

If you'd like to join the club, it's not too late.  Membership is limited, but we can make an exception for you. See Land Marks here for a short time only.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Final Notice

Handsome Husband and I are off to Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Ne., to attend the closing reception for my featured exhibit,  "Land Marks", and the juried show, "Wings Over the Platte".

I'll have photos of the event, although it'll be waaaay better if you come see it for yourself.  Come say farewell to the last of the sandhill cranes and see the museum and art exhibits for free today from 2 to 4 pm.

Stop by tomorrow for photos of the afternoon. We'll get back on track next week.

Until then-