Thursday, May 28, 2009

Working Hard or Hardly Working?

"Last Light, Monarch Lake"
Oil on Panel

My fortune at the Chinese restaurant last night said, "Chance favors those in motion." I read it to my husband and we both laughed - after all, I've spent the last few months trying to move as little as possible!

Isn't this common sense, though? I think of it as "making luck" - making the effort required to position ourselves where we can take advantage of new opportunities. I'm painfully aware that when I'm not working, I'm not in a position to go anywhere with my art but down. The more effort I put into making and selling my paintings, the more likely I am to get results. Being an artist is not an easy job - it requires commitment and elbow grease.

Alyson Stanfield touched on this in her Deep Thought Thursday blog last week, asking her readers how many hours per week an artist should devote to his or her career, referencing Michael Shane Neal's suggestion of 12-18 hour days.

I usually love reading the responses to Alyson's Thursday questions, and this one was no different - the answer was obviously that there is no answer and that it depends on the artist. I think most agreed, however, that the more time you can put in given your circumstances, the better. But there was one post that implied that anyone who thinks of their art making in terms of time is not an artist, and it got my blood boiling a bit. I might have even fired off a hasty response without taking the time to cool down - hehe...

Suffice it to say, I totally disagree. First of all, it's downright insulting to say someone else is not an "artist" simply because of their working habits. We could argue all day about what is "art" and what is not, but I daresay it has very little to do with whether the artist works 9-5 or in the dead of the night. Second of all, I think this type of attitude can be very dangerous to those who wish to start a career in the arts. There's a misconception that being an artist is fun and relaxing, and the minute things get tough a lot of young artists run for another career.

I know a lot of artists in real life, and they all have different work habits. Some are very regimented and schedule every hour of every day to optimize their art making time. Some are more laid back and work different hours every day, depending on what else is going on. But regardless of style, every artist I know who actually makes a living from their art (meaning does art full time and makes enough money to support themself and often their family) works damn hard. A lot of these guys paint more than 40 hours a week, and then spend 20 hours more working on business and networking. They take their art careers as seriously as anyone else who runs a small business, and it shows.

I have yet to meet an artist who got worse by putting in more hours. Have you?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Progress

I'm 17 weeks pregnant tomorrow, and I'm torn between thinking this morning (all day) sickness is going to go away any day now, and being resigned to the fact that it might stick around for 23 more weeks.

I'm terrified that the latter is the case, to be completely honest. I have a new gallery to supply with paintings and a show to prepare for in August, and while I have a head start on both, I'm still panicked about how I'm going to get things done. I'm at a place where I'm determined to squeeze in easel time where I can, even if it means only painting for an hour or two at a time.

So, anyhow, I felt like crud today but managed to get a couple of hours of painting in, and got the rest of this 16x20" painting blocked in. I'm not expecting a masterpiece here - just trying to get back in the groove with a paintbrush!

It needs some work, especially in the foreground trees and bushes, but it's a covered panel and that's great compared to the nothing that I've been doing! Sorry for the glare - I was having fits trying to get a decent photo of this one since it's still wet. Once I finish it and get a better photo, I'll re-post it.

So, baby steps - I'm hoping 2 hours can turn into 4 hours next time and a full day eventually. I don't feel like myself when I'm not painting, and that's motivation enough to get to work.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Progress, Finally

It's been an unproductive two months, to say the least. I've had all day "morning" sickness since the start of March, and it's put a big kink in my painting schedule. Standing at the easel just isn't all that fun when you're dry-heaving, you know?

To be completely honest, it's been a bit of struggle for me to accomplish next to nothing day after day - I've spent more than a few days feeling sorry for myself, which I know is totally useless. I've had a couple of good days over the past week, so I'm really hoping that means I'll start feeling better soon. In the meantime I'm just going to force myself to do as much as I can.

So, I painted today for the first time in weeks. I only lasted three hours at the easel before I had to take a rest, but I got about halfway into a 16x20" painting, and I felt like myself for the first time in ages. It was just so nice to finally PAINT!!

To prove to y'all that I finally did something, here's my in-progress picture (color is way off - sorry). It's got a long way to go because I'm a bit rusty, but I don't care because it was just so nice to finally work on something new.

On a totally unrelated note, I found a bottle of liquin in my studio that I hadn't touched in a couple of months, and was kind of appalled at how nasty it was. I took a picture just to show you all why I try not to use this stuff much in my paintings. See that cloudy yellow congealed nastiness inside? How would that look if it were mixed in with light paint in a painting? Ick. (p.s. Not trying to knock anyone who uses liquin normally - I'm just always surprised at the things this stuff does in the bottle!).

Anyhow, that's all I've got for now. If all goes well, I'll post some more pictures of this painting as I work on it next week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


"Summer Grove"
Oil on Panel

I've painted a lot of aspen trees this year. It started out as a challenge - I struggled with them, and since they're everywhere in Colorado I figured I should work on it. And they're fun to paint - every grove is different. Also, the galleries love aspen paintings, because tourists buy them, and I can't complain when they're paying my bills during a rough patch in the economy. But this is the point where I get a little bit wary of being pegged as a painter of very specific subject matter.

Do I want all of my galleries to be begging for aspen paintings for the rest of my life? Probably not. I like painting them, but like everything else, only when I feel like it!

The best artists out there sell regardless of what they paint. It doesn't matter if Richard Schmid paints a figure or a landscape - he executes all of his paintings so well that his collectors see value. And since he's painted a variety of subject matter throughout his career, his audience doesn't expect to see only one thing.

I paint purely landscapes, so my subject matter is already a bit limited, but I like painting different scenes, seasons, and moods. I used to paint a lot of big vista mountain paintings, but since I've moved to the mountains, I find myself painting the more intimate scenes - the corners of the landscape that you see when you spend more time in a place. I think that expanding my comfort zone has improved my painting.

It keeps me on my toes to paint different things, so there's a fine line to walk between keeping the galleries happy and painting what will help me grow as an artist. I think this is something a lot of artists face when they sell through galleries, and sometimes the best thing is to find a gallery that is run by owners who truly appreciate good art (vs. "sellable" art). I tend to have the attitude that if I improve enough that anything I paint is a knockout regardless of subject matter, it won't matter what I paint so much as how it's painted. To get to that point, I have my work cut out for me - I won't be getting bored any time soon.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Another Poll

Hey all - my husband is working with a designer on a new logo for his homebuilding company, and wants some opinions on his current options. I know this has nothing to do with art, but I know you all have good taste, so would you mind taking a look and voting on which one you prefer? Pretty please???

FYI, he builds modular homes in the mountains of Colorado. The logo goes on his marketing materials, advertising, and website, and also on his truck and equipment etc. One of these is his existing logo, and one is the proposed new one (I won't say which is which), and he's not sure he wants to make the change to the new one. If you have any opinions on what could be changed to make either one of them look better, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Sorry these are cropped so tight - use your imagination =)

Here's Logo #1:

Here's Logo #2:

Thanks a bunch. I promise I'll post something about art this week - I have a new painting to show!