Thursday, October 30, 2008

Here is why I feel no threat opening up and sharing all that I can with other aspiring artists... this career is tough! We need all the encouragement we can get. This profession has a way of weeding out those who are anything less than determined to stick it out through the valleys. In no way am I trying to complain or be ungrateful for what I have. However, I understand that there are those of you who want to be artists yourselves and that from the outside looking in it could appear as if "things just happen for some artists, while others "just don't seem to make it". While there are many factors that add to the reality of that, my message to you is this: Pursuing a career as an artist is tough, perhaps one of the toughest things you will ever do. For one because you will have to believe in yourself long before anyone else will. I remember reading The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and her talking about first calling yourself an artist and then becoming one. Something which I began doing many years ago. Like anyone else I felt like I should "earn" the title by proving my worth by selling paintings, or illustrating a children's book but I decided to take the leap of faith and claim my place as an "Artist". The only reason I am producing the work that I am today is because I didn't give up years ago when I wasn't putting out anywhere near the quality of work that I am now able to create. I am older, a little wiser, and have painted for thousands of hours since then... but my soul, my desire to create things of beauty remains the same. Don't give up! Sometimes I can't believe that I didn't, and sometimes I still want to... but you need to know that yes, the journey really is this hard, worth it, but hard!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One of my closest friends had to put her dog to sleep on Friday. His name was Emmet and he was a Golden Retriever, he was one of those dogs that felt like a human. This friend lives right down the street from me and my girls and I were all close to Emmet. The other day we went to say goodbye and when I bent down to give him a kiss there was a puddle of tears by him from our mailman who had just said goodbye and cried too. My girls and I cried all the way up our street from her house to ours. This dog really was such an angel and really sort of had a social life all of his own independant of his family. I have known him since I moved in my house six years ago... funny how you always just think everyone you love will always be there. We take so much for granted. I forget how precious life is. I feel like my life is moving so fast like I am so busy cleaning and working and just doing every crazy thing I feel like I have to do in order to keep from sinking in my own life. Really, life is all about love... and how little attention we give it sometimes. I am grateful for the time I had with Emmet. I hate letting go but can't help but be grateful for this sweet dog's life and the reminder of how precious life truly is.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Speaking of art friends... two weeks ago I had a chance to attend the party for the opening of
The Bridge Academy of Art. My friends and four of the best artists I know Jeff Hein, Justin Taylor, Sean Diediker and Ben Mcpherson started an art school. I have had the chance to attend a few things at the school and have been very impressed with what these guys are creating. One of the oppurtunities I found extremely educational and inspiring was when they had Joseph Manqueros come and speak. Joseph is the owner of Wendt Gallery which represents Jeff Hein. I couldn't help but just love Joseph, he is one of the most positive people I have ever heard speak. For those of you who are familiar with Wendt will see why it came as no surprise to me after meeting Joseph and his wife Serina that they are so successful and literally represents some of the best artists in the country. One of the most important points Joseph made while speaking was in reference to credibility. Training is important. Whether that is through an art school, a University, or studying under another artist. My point is this is exactly the kind of experience The Bridge is bringing its students. I wish I would have had something like this 10 years ago. For those of you serious about becoming a working artist and who are looking for some training...check out The Bridge (their link is under my friends list).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last Friday I had the opportunity to attend a show for Glen Edwards, who was my Illustration professor at Utah State years ago. It was so strange to stand in the gallery with him as well as some of his colleagues and other past students. Many who I have been familiar with for years. I remember being a freshman at Utah State and feeling pretty much invisible to Glen. At the time I remember wanting his attention and approval so bad. I couldn't help but feel like I was experiencing some sort of time travel, being in his and these other artists presence over 14 years later. There is really no way to describe what that experience was like for me. The biggest change for me was that I felt confident.
I have been thinking a lot about confidence lately, what creates it, and why I have it now as an artist and why at one point I didn't. I realized that for me it has a lot to do with experience. I know what it is like to be with other artists who are speaking about things I feel clueless about and I know what it is like to be a full part of an identical conversation. Here is one piece of advice for other artists who feel like they are on the outside wanting to be in. Get to know other artists, especially the ones you admire and who's work inspires you. Do research on them, find out when they are having shows and attend them. I have met many of my artists friends this way and there is something I have learned from each of them. Anyone has less confidence in any situation they are unfamiliar with. I contribute a great deal of my recent success to these friendships. I feel like I found my peer group. They have shared with me things that it would have taken me years of experience to learn on my own. Also I have made many connections that vary from things like who they use for framing to what their experience has been with a specific gallery.
The above images are detail shots from the 5x6 ft painting I am working on. There are three figures in this painting and it has been an interesting challenge for me to make them all work together... which I am still figuring out. I have been eating, sleeping, and breathing this painting.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I will often get asked if I paint even when I don't feel like it. The answer is YES. I have been painting so much lately and I am feeling a little burnt out, but do any of us really have the luxury of working when we "feel like it". Right now I am painting so much that I can't seem to come up with the next color for the life of me. Persistence is perhaps one of the very most valuable qualities any artist can have. Speaking of... I found these paintings in my storeroom while I was looking for something else. These are over 13 years old. I thought it was interesting to see how much I loved pattern back then. These are both watercolor which is all I painted back then. I am extremely tired and really need to sleep, so don't hold the writing in this entry against me. Was just excited to share these watercolors with you, they are both still lifes I set up.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I updated my website and created a new gallery of my "available" paintings. I had a few I was hanging onto for my January show but due to a current shortage of available work have sent them to Bonner David Gallery. This is the finished version of "Puddin Face" which is one of the three new paintings now available at Bonner David. It has been a crazy busy weekend and I can hardly wait to paint tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I just made it through two days of the flu with my girls, my house is a disaster! I just ate cookies and am feeling chubby..... BUT I have just started what could be my best painting yet! I love, love, love this new painting! I already want to keep it, which is always a good sign. This is only a portion of it, the canvas is 5x6 ft. There is something about painting on this scale that seems to bring great things out of me. On the left is my daughter Eve holding a construction paper bee. This is the kind of thing that I LOVE, this kind of creation that only young kids are still free enough to create. On Eve's shirt I reproduced some of her writing from an assignment she brought home from 1st grade. She is listing the benefits of plants... love her sounded out writing.
I have also started to draw on the clothing some of the architectural reference I took photos of during my recent visit to Seattle. I love this stage of the painting, sketched and a little bit painted... sometimes I just want to stop right here. There is something so beautiful about the creation process itself.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This image doesn't even begin to do this painting justice. I love her eyes and skin tones. Since I am painting for an upcoming show at Bonner David Gallery in January I am only going to post portions of my paintings, so that the whole image will still be a surprise.
I was thinking tonight about what a gift creativity is and how it affects all of us. I was thinking about how much I love new music, about how cool the new iphones are, about how much fun I had the other night creating a new recipe. I love the adventure that life itself cannot help but bring. I love that I never know what I am going to paint next and that it is exciting to watch my paintings evolve as I do. No matter who you are or what you do creation is a part of every life.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I find it extremely ironic that in the painting that I was working on last night I wrote the word breathe because of the meaning of the painting, but that was exactly what I was having a hard time doing. Right now I use odorless turpentine which I dip my brush in often to keep a point and thin my paint. I think because I started out as a watercolor artist turpentine sort of replaced water in my painting process. Last year when I was painting for my show I got sick from the constant exposure to everything in my studio. I have since aquired an air purifier (especially for oil painters) and try to keep my windows open while I am painting. I know that many artists will get sick from the petroleum distillates contained in many of the mediums oil painters use. Does anyone have a suggestion of what else I can use without having to change my process?
I will never forget when I was fourteen and visited my grandmother in a nursing home. She, along with the other residents were sitting in chairs lined up in front of a large window... that was all they did just sit and watch the world go on around them. I remember thinking at the time that it was like she was a goldfish in a bowl. It made such an impression on me. In my paintings each time you see a goldfish it represents life, and mortality. This woman is in motion which is new for me, and fun to play with. If you ever wonder if my paintings are full of symbolism the answer is yes. Sometimes I am happy to share and other times I feel like I have been caught when someone figures something out. The other day Jenn from Coda called and asked about some writing in a particular painting that she and a client had been studying. I wished I had been more subtle with what I wrote in that painting. Oops!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let's talk...

I have been thinking for a while now about how I want to use my blog to communicate with you. More than ever I am being approached by other artists who want to know how I got where I am. I know what it is like to be on the outside, wanting so badly to be an "artist"... feeling like you have to arrive at some sort of destination in order to earn the right to call yourself one. I know what it feels like to be one of a hundred artists that has approached a gallery on any given day. I have experienced periods of time where I've had no social life, when I had to lose sleep in order to paint for a deadline. I know what it is like to go months without a paycheck and the feelings of panic as I try to figure out how I am going to fit into "Corporate America".
I want to share some of the things that I have learned and am learning on my own path as a working artist. I want to open up a window into my world.. I have said before that being an artist isn't just what I do but who I am. Painting is the easy part of my life, for me it is often the time I am "off work" that is the challenge for me being a mother, dealing with real life. Everything I do, feel, see, and experience is through the filter of an artist. Sometimes I hate being a sensitive person and feeling things to the depths that I do, but I am learning to accept that this is a critical part of who I am, understanding that without it I wouldn't be creating the art that people are connecting to. I love to hear your comments and encourage those of you with questions to ask them.

I have been wanting to try painting from life... to see what happens. So today my friend Janelle came over and modeled for me. The bottom image of the woman in front of the blue buildings is also Janelle which I painted almost two years ago. During the time Janelle sat for me today I spent so much of my time erasing! It was insane as I tried to take some features while making the others the way I wanted. I have gone to drawing sessions with my artist friends who happen to be amazing portrait artists and they make fun of me... how I move the eyes apart and add length to the neck, etc. Honestly, being someone who has already been down the road of trying to paint a realistic representation I have found that it is not the thing that makes me tick as an artist. It was both frustrating but very exciting to paint from life. I think Janelle is beautiful and learned a lot as I observed the colors in her skin, eyes, nose, and lips! Janelle, thanks for sharing some of your time with me!