Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Does Creating Make Me Feel....

New question of the day for Art on The Lane Artists:  How Does Creating Make Me Feel....

Well, it seems to be something I cannot do without, so creating makes me feel complete.

When I paint, I have a tendency to zone out everything around me, letting hours go by before I take a break. That's how painting is. One idea builds on another, and before you know it, you don't want to put your brush down, and your life can fall apart around you.

That's where balance comes in. I have to tell myself to stop after a certain amount of time; usually this stopping point is comparable to going anaerobic during a workout, which is when you've exhausted your ability to produce positive results.

No matter where I am in the painting, it is better to stop what I'm doing to take a break.  Coming back later with a fresh body and mind is much more productive than forcing a finished project before its time.

I have three new small oil paintings in the gallery this month. Cake without the calories! 

Please enjoy,
Linda McSweeney

When my work is going well, I hardly feel that I am feeling at all.  Instead, I am swept up in a process that has only a little to do with me.  What I supply is whatever skill I can with brushes or paint—but under the direction of the authority of the painting itself and how it must manifest.   One stroke seems to inform me of what to do next.  If the impressions stop coming, I know I need to stop.  The parts of the canvas where I try to “make it up” or supply an answer myself are not beautiful and look as if they do not belong.  Back to feeling---almost nothing feels better than this!   
Lee Audia

I love being an artist.  It allows me to feel more deeply and be aware of the world around me.  I have a deep appreciation for my surroundings and notice everything like the shape and colors of clouds, the setting sun casting a warm glow of light, the 12 noon sun making the ocean a translucent blue so alive inviting one to swim, the appreciation of a weathered face full of character and story.  We all have different things that inspire us.  Some artists paint their pain, political subjects, pretty landscapes etc.  I am moved to paint beautiful landscapes and symbolic images, things that connect, ground, inspire, or make me happy.  I am always looking to stay positive.  The creating process for me whether it be writing, growing a business, expanding my website, creating YouTube videos, or painting puts me in the zone especially when it is going well!  However, painting is the most Zen out of all my creative pursuits!  To create gives me a satisfied and productive feeling.  Any one can make the choice to be creative and fulfilled.  I encourage you to find what your creative outlet is.  There are many choices and if you are not yet skilled you can be as long as you set side a time to learn and just "Do It!"

Kathy McCartney

In photography, it really depends on the outcome. If it is a successful shoot it feels very good, especially when your clients say you nailed it! Having patience and knowing what you want the final outcome to look like are keys for a successful shoot.

The attached shot was done on the second day of a hike in the Grand Canyon. Having the luxury to preview the shot the day before, it really helped the successful outcome of this image. Understanding the direction of the light and the correct time of day gives you enormous confidence.
R$ch McVey

Saturday, March 31, 2012

What are the personal disciplines an artist must possess to succeed in this business.

Here are the answers:

My answer maybe a little different from most of the artists on the Lane.  As my discipline is on the initial shoot. I have to pick the right time of day, the moment and the attitude that I am looking for. After the shoot things can get more creative. In the new digital world I can do so many more things than in the past to improve the shot and or repair the shoot.

I think being a successful photographer depends on what you consider successful. Making money is great but the real satisfaction of photography is looking at what I shoot  and say it's "perfect." 

Rich McVey

"Silver Andalusian" 16x20 oil on canvas of a white 
Andalusian horse.  The white coats of these horses
are really beautiful.  They have an iridescent, almost 
metallic cast. This painting will be available for sale
 in the gallery,beautifully framed.
To succeed in the art business or even to participate in sales, is always difficult. I find that to keep the interest of customers and patrons, you must first of all pique their interest with choices.  People like choices.  They like to have a variety of art to choose from ... subject, color compositions, and sizes, as well as price range.  In art, the market range is enormous so your offerings should include original works,  prints, sculptures, and your own designs on merchandise, as well.  And don't give up.  You never know when you will find a way to a breakthrough.  Sometimes epiphany is the driving force behind art...whether it is inspiration during the creation of a painting, or thinking up a new way to sell it.
Linda McSweeney

In answer to your question I think an artist, who works alone with no supervision but his own, must
be able to self-motivate and self-regulate. He (or she) must set aside the hours necessary to complete enough work to present to the market in order to make a living or certain failure will result.
In addition to a disciplined work ethic the artist must also allow enough time to do marketing and research on subject matter.  Good personal planning and self-discipline are essential to success.

Charles White

Certainly, anyone working for themselves must have discipline to succeed. For artists, drawn to art by intrinsic motives, it is essential, not only to persevere as a painter, but to discipline themselves to do what is necessary to market and sell their work. 

Since I would rather paint than deal with the latter, I had to establish a plan with objectives as a road map for discipline.

For example, the more paintings an artist can have on display in galleries, shows, and other venues at one time, the greater potential for sales.  To achieve some balance between the need to paint, market my work, and keep up with the business end of art, required some personal discipline on my part. In my case it meant establishing a planning calendar to ensure that none of these three essentials is loss in the shuffle, specially time to paint, and find gratification as an artist.

What are the personal disciplines an artist must possess to succeed in this business?  A realization I have had is about finishing:  Just because the painting is signed it doesn’t mean that the artistic process is complete.  The artist  must now be disciplined enough to help create a “soft landing,” a home, a place in the world for the painting.  A painting must come into its own use, just like a ceramic vase does after it is removed from the kiln and glazed.  The lure of sales may seem to be the sole motivation for placing work in a gallery or buying a booth at an art fair or displaying it on a website, but underlying this also is the need—the pull--of the work itself to be seen.

                                                                      Lee Audia

"Success is how well I enjoy the minutes" said producer Norman Lear.
While I think that this is a great attitude to live by, given a choice, I would just shut myself in and paint, paint, paint. That would make me a happy painter but not a successful business person. Reality dictates that both painting and having a business plan are necessary for success.
In an attempt to achieve this goal, I display my work as much as possible in art fairs, galleries, restaurants. I send in applications to art contest. You never know when a judge might take a fancy to ones work. Finally, I always have business cards and brochures with me to give out if the opportunity arises.
And of course, I paint, paint, paint because that also is necessary to continue to improve the quality of my work.

Joanne Robinson

To succeed in the art world focus and discipline are very important.  It can be difficult when you have other responsibilities. It is always a juggling act.  For myself I find it helpful to be as organized as possible and learn to say no to outside distractions.  To be successful one needs to develop good business skills, find ways to connect with likeminded individuals, and make the sale to their audience.  This is no time to be shy about yourself or your work.  You must be brave and market yourself.  It might feel uncomfortable at first, but you will need to get used to the idea and spend time in this area.  It is also important to network and knock on doors.  With the advent of the Internet we artist can now reach beyond our local borders the world is our oyster.  The artist needs to create a buzz.  The more you are yourself the better.   We each have a unique personality and life story.  Share it and be authentic.  People like to feel they are connecting with the artist and their work.  It adds value.

Kathy McCartney

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The following question was asked by a fellow artist to the group of us at Art on The Lane: "Given all the time and energy you put into your art including the criticism and disappointments, is it worth it?"

 Here are the answers:

Given all the time and energy I’ve put into my art, it has been completely worth it to me.   My jewelry making started as a hobby.  I made too much to wear so that's when I decided to start selling.  Only recently have I started to show my work at craft fairs and the response has been overwhelming.  I needed to know the reaction that people would have to my work and putting myself out there was the only way to find out.  It also gives me good feedback on what people are looking for and what they want to pay.  I am so happy with my craft; it gives me great pleasure every day!

Fran Hosmer

Click to enlarge image
One of the positive effects of the digital revolution in Photography is allowing the photographer to do what was done in the lab. Once you have dropped off the negative at the lab, the end product is left to the lab technician. And lot of the time, the end result is not what you wanted. As you learn the Photoshop program, it allows you to be in complete control of the final product. Besides fixing red-eye and cropping, you can add several effects that can improve the photograph. See the attached photographs.

The only real downside to digital photography is the file size. You need to know how large you want the end enlargement before you shoot. Trying to enlarge a small file size image does impact the quality of the photograph. And shooting the maximum file size every time eats up your digital storage.

So, have a good idea of what you want the end result to be before you shoot.

Rich Mcvey

click to enlarge
I would say that art is a very worthwhile passion...worth all the time spent, setbacks, and criticism.  One cannot very easily deny their passion no matter what it might be. Criticism and disappointments come with the territory, but they can't keep you down if you believe in what you're doing. Without setbacks your art cannot grow. Making art means digging deep and not giving up. It means many hours spent agonizing over a painting in the studio, hating it one minute, loving it the next. All worth it when you achieve that certain effect or solve a color/ composition problem that is so personally gratifying that you don't care what others say.
These are the moments that artists give so much to attain. Sometimes it takes a lifetime of work and sacrifice to have just a sprinkling of these precious experiences. I believe it may be the same in any profession where there is a passion for skill and mastery.

Linda McSweeney

In answer to your question that would be an unqualified YES! What criticisms and disappointments?  I only hear favorable reviews (most people keep the negative comments to themselves) and I am delighted every time I have a sale. It motivates me to keep on creating--even though I don't need any more motivation--the process is its own reward.
                 Charles White

“Fetish Robe”
acrylic on canvas, 48X24
Right now there are three paintings leaning against the wall in the living room, one is finished, two still need work. They would be hung if the walls were not literally “dripping” with paintings already.  There is a large one that needs tweaking in the studio, where the cats are asleep in the sun. Paint tubes, brushes, paper, canvas, scissors, brayers, reference books, easels and frames are randomly arranged around the cats, where only I can find them!  My partner’s photos line the walls of our entryway.  My brother-in –law has just emailed photos of his new studio in Paris and the name (unintelligible) of the gallery where he will be showing.  Notes from Art on the Lane are in the Inbox and on my calendar…. 

TMI?  Probably, but what I am saying is that art and I are really not separate.  It is a part of my day; sometimes a lot of work, sometimes a high when it is going well; sometimes the grit to go back into the studio and try again if it is not going well.  Compliments are nice; criticism can be helpful.  But neither one would ever, ever keep me from my work.  

Lee Audia

Mendocino Red Rose, in Oil
Of course criticism is never easy because I pour my heart into each piece. But I think without it we don't grow as an artist. Compliments are great but the other side of the coin is necessary so that one doesn't become complacent.

I think in any artistic endeavor there will be disappointments. The key is to work through them to achieve our goals.
Joanne Robinson

Celestial Expression
I feel all the time and energy put into my creative life is energy well spent.  Maybe it didn’t always feel that way in the beginning when I was struggling to learn and be accepted as a professional, but once I got over some personal hurdles and challenges of growth, I can honestly say today it is WORTH IT!  This career is not for everyone.  You need to develop a tough skin to survive criticism and know and live the meaning of “perseverance.”  In the end compliments always outweigh the criticism.  Creating art can be a joy and other times a struggle, I’ve learned it is simply part of the creative process an interesting adventure always.  The more you pursue this creative outlet the more you are drawn in.  It is a satisfying addiction and a healthy one.   As an art teacher I see the struggles in my students to grasp technique and when I see them finally get it and produce beautiful art, the happiness in their faces is invaluable.  Art inspires and enriches so many people’s lives.  .

Kathy McCartney

Yes... Although making art can be incredibly frustrating, it can also be amazingly rewarding.  It is like playing golf, that one perfect stroke keeps you coming back.  It is worth all the time and effort when you are able to capture your vision and share it others.
Barbara Davies

Paul Gauguin anwers the question in his Tahitian journal "Noa Noa"
He came to me of his own accord, and I feel sure here that in his coming to me there was no element of self-interest.  He is one of my neighbors, a very simple and handsome young fellow.  My colored pictures and carvings in wood aroused his curiosity; my replies to his questions have instructed him.  Not a day passes that he does not come to watch me paint or carve…One day I put my tools in his hands and a piece of wood, I wanted him to try to carve.  Nonplussed, he looked at me at first in silence, and then returned the wood and tools to me, not saying with entire simplicity and sincerity that I was not like the others, that I could do things which other men were incapable of doing, and that I was useful to others.  I indeed believe Totefa is the first human being in the world who used such words toward me.  It was the language of a savage or of a child, for one must be either one of these-muse one not?-to imagine that an artist might be a useful human being.” 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Art on The Lane question of the day! What inspired you to become a professional artist? When did you know and what moment did you decide to take the plunge.

Here are the stories from my artist and colleagues in their own words:

Barbara Davies
My earliest memories are of sketching the historical homes and barns in my neighborhood in Massachusetts (a designated national historic landmark).  I sold my first oil painting for $10 to an elderly gentleman who lived across the street in a farmhouse built in the 1600s.  Next, I painted the Parker Tavern (circa 1640) and the Colonial Inn (meeting place for officers before the Revolutionary War).  I was hooked, on painting, and on the homes, cafes and courtyards of Europe and America that have silently witnessed to the passing of history.

I was influenced by the Dutch Master like Van der Mer, and by contemporary Realist artists Richard Estes, Butinsky and Thomas Prazinski. 

Barbara Davies

Fran Hosmer
I have been drawing, sewing, and creating things since I was a child. I knew I wanted to be a designer when I was in High School. I just didn't know what kind of designer I wanted to be until I took a beading class in Chico, and then I was hooked! There are so many different styles and techniques to the art of jewelry making; it's a never ending creative fun process.

Fran Hosmer

Rich McVey
My photography career started in 1972 when I bought a used 33 mm Canon FP camera from my roommate. Then I took a couple of classes at college on how film works and basic development, exposure print. Like many photographers new to the trade, I assisted in wedding photography and photographed many retirement parties and business meetings. After I retired from a major utility in 1996, I devoted all my energy in the photography field.

When the digital revolution turned the photography business upside down, I had to jump in. I am on my forth digital camera and I am impressed on how much they have involved plus the increases size of the files.

I am still looking for my niche and love all aspects of photography. I don't do a lot of landscapes as that takes patients and I am not an Ansel Adams. I enjoy the more everyday shots that have a good feeling or a little quirky.

Rich McVey

By special request, I did this oil painting 
of Zenyatta, a famous racehorse.  
She is a thoroughbred mare, very 
big, powerful, and fast... unbeaten on the
track.  She liked to start at the back of the
field and move up steadily, out-running 
all others with a stunning reserve of 
energy and power.

Possibly the best mare on the racetrack, 
until her recent retirement...

Zenyatta has a huge following. She is a very 
special horse with a personality to match. 
The prints of this painting are offered for 
sale in the gallery.
Linda McSweeney
My name is Linda McSweeney and I have been painting since I was old enough to remember.  What inspires me to paint is light. I am fascinated by the play of light on objects of any kind, and always strive to capture it with color. I have taken art classes all my life, but most of what I've learned came from the practical experience of painting every day for years.  My main medium is oil on canvas, but I also paint with acrylics and water color, and enjoy pencil and charcoal drawing as well.
As far as art is concerned, I've been a professional mural artist, furniture refinisher, sign painter, color consultant, custom portrait artist, and graphic artist.

Other skills which I don't use now, but I feel have contributed to my artistic endeavors include being a certified Dental Laboratory Technician, and having had a limited career as an opera singer that I gave up some years ago. My last role was Madame Butterfly with North Bay Opera in 1998.

 If I had to pick one favorite subject to paint, it would be horses. I grew up with them, and have a deep love and respect for them. Of course all animals are wonderful to me, so I paint a variety of them.
I also enjoy painting nature in all its forms, and figurative art as well.

In the works, are abstract paintings based on nature, and some delightful food art.

"The Path Worth Taking"
paintings and story
by Charles White 
Charles White
Ever since I can remember, I have loved to draw and paint the things that I see around me.  When I was six years old, my family moved from the large city of Toronto, Ontario to a tiny town of Pine Falls, Manitoba in Canada.  My mother feared that we had been banished to the frozen wilderness.  But my sister and I looked on it as an exciting adventure into the great outdoors.  We were closer to nature and I became inspired to draw all the birds and other animals that I saw on our Saturday “nature walks” in the forests close to town.  Since mom was a nurse, somehow our house became the local bird hospital as the neighborhood kids brought us injured birds and mom would nurse them back to health.  My job was to keep them supplied with plenty of worms from our garden.  In this environment, I soon developed a love for nature and birds in particular.  I even created a 28 page bird book with my own commentary and illustrations that I was sure would be published one day, making me famous.  On my 12th birthday my grandmother who was an amateur artist herself, gave me my first oil painting kit.  She also gave me the admonition to go outside and paint what I saw. My first paintings were a little rough.  While I continued to draw with pencil and pen, I began to develop a love for oil painting as well.  By age 14 I sold my first painting to my favorite aunt, Emily, for the princely sum of $15.  I was on my way!  Although I continued to paint and had produced some 20 canvases and sold 6 by the time I was 17.  I soon became seduced by good old “rock and roll” music.  I got together with a few high school buddies and in our sophomore year.  We formed a band and dubbed ourselves “The Fireflies.”  This became a new passion and focus while art took a back seat. 

College was now looming on the horizon and it was time to get serious.  My father encouraged me to be practical and pursue a career in anything other than music or art.  I was accepted at Brigham Young University and settled on Communications with minors in Business, Psychology and Art.  There were no plans for a career in art.  I simply viewed it as an enjoyable avocation. And that is the way it stayed for the next 20 years while I pursued my degree and eventual career in sales.

Although I enjoyed my sales job, as the years went by, I felt the increasing pull of the paintbrush.  By mid-life, I had no clue if my work was saleable or how to go about finding out.  On one of my business trips to Carmel, I took along a couple of paintings and a brief biography and “hit the street.”  After a couple of polite rejections, I walked into New Masters Gallery and talked with the gallery director who said he would give my work a try for a 3 month period.  Needless to say I was thrilled and can still remember the feeling of elation as I drove home.  I was starting once again down the path I had abandoned as a teenager.

At age 43 I began to investigate my new career choice and how I could make it work.  I discovered the outdoor art shows while on a drive through Golden Gate Park.  I was told to bring my work and be “juried in” to join the San Francisco Society of Fine Art group, which hosted shows every weekend.  Slowly paintings began to sell as I figured out what the tourists and locals wanted in subject, size and price.  I was delighted to have the extra income, but it was far from enough to live on.  However, the dream was slowly becoming a reality and I was having fun doing what I loved.  Every year for the next 5 years the art sales doubled and by the end of the 6th year, it was more than I made from my sales job.  I realized then that I could indeed make it on my own as a full-time artist.  It has indeed been a “path worth taking.”  To make a living at what you love to do is truly one of the great blessings in life.

Don Eagling
Bear Creek Alpine Meadows
11x14 Acrylic.
Price $700 Framed.
When I was a child during the depression, I loved to sketch sport figures, and animals in action. It was an obsession. I told my dad that I wanted to be an artist. He suggested that I had better take drafting if I wanted to make a living. After 5 years in the service during World War 2 and the Korean Conflict, and 2 GI bills later, I enjoyed a long career as an engineer, too busy to paint. Retirement allowed me to finally pursue my life long ambition to paint the wonderful land and seascapes of the American West. It took me a few years to feel that I was really a professional artist, but now I am one. I know it, because I've now sold over 500 paintings.

I find great satisfaction when I can translate nature's scenes into paintings that capture and relate my feelings to viewers who share my inspiration for the western land and seascape.
Don Eagling

"Prophetess"  30 X 40
Acrylic pour on canvas

Lee Audia

 Did inspiration finally free the artist in me? Possibly. Or perhaps desperation! Although I couldn’t articulate it then, I had come to a point where I needed a new way to express. When my painting teacher appeared, almost magically, I told her No! In no uncertain terms--no to the classes, no to the paint, pallet, brushes. The rest is history. I’ve painted almost every day since then.

Having spent early childhood in Taos, New Mexico, I believe my color preferences were preselected. They lay dormant and unsuspected, like a chick in an egg, until the painting phase of my life began over forty years later. Once I saw the color burst out, I was hooked. Even more, I saw the wish I had had earlier for a new way to express, had come true.

Abstract painting, for me, is about giving up fear and trusting the process, wanting the process and finding every way as a painter to support the process. The late Robert Wood said, “Each painting should be a surprise journey with an unexpected ending.” Yes.

Mendicino Rose
Joanne Robinson
I realized that I wanted to be an artist with the first painting workshop that I attended many years ago. The moment I held the brush, picked up paint and applied it to the canvas, I was smitten. That night I could hardly sleep because I was so excited to get up the following morning and return to the workshop.

Years later, I took oil painting classes from Barbara Davies and when an opportunity came up where I was able to join her in her gallery, I jumped at it. She and I have been business partners ever since. She has been and continues to be, a wonderful mentor.
Joanne Robinson

Hawaiian Puppy Love 16"x20"
Kathy McCartney
My love affair with Hawaii began at the tender age of 3 this is when I first opened my eyes to the world around me on the island of Oahu where me and my family were lucky enough to live.  I fell deeply in love with nature, so much so, that my mother and I would battle Monday through Friday to get me back in the house and ready for school in time to catch the bus.  I spent hours in the back yard and would sometimes sneak off to roam the neighborhood by myself.  I remember one day making it to a place where I could see the ocean.  More than once a concerned neighbor would tell me to go home.  I can honestly say today that I still have an obsession with the Hawaiian Islands and this is reflected in my art.

The first famous artist I learned about was when I was 5. My dad and I watched a TV program about Vincent van Gogh. I remembered at the end of the program how they said his art was worth millions. I thought that was a happy ending. I said to my father I want to be a famous and rich artist like Vincent van Gogh. My father reminded his little girl with stars in her eyes that his paintings were not worth anything until after his death. I sat there silent for a minute and thought what a bummer. I don't want that kind of ending. I declared to my father then and there that I will be different, successful while alive! So in the back of my mind I held on to this positive notion that it could be different for an artist and a happy ending.

I continued to draw during my early years and won two art contests. My first win was at the public library’s annual art contest. I was in the 3rd grade and painted the characters from the Best Nest. I got my picture in the local newspaper and a 3rd place ribbon. My next victory was in the 6th grade.  We were approaching 1976, our country's 200th birthday. My elementary school had a Bi-Centennial art contest judged by a local women's group. I think the judges favored more my subject matter. I drew my first female hero, Betsy Ross, sewing the American flag. The grand prize was a $25 check. I was very proud and this fueled my ambition.

Over the years, "real life" took over…work, marriage, divorce, single motherhood, bills and responsibilities. But that urge to create never subsided. I held on to my childhood dream. At times, it seemed far out of reach and impossible from where I stood. However, I held on to this vision to pursue a creative career. I have always loved nature and never thought that I would be spending most of my adult life indoors in a cubicle. And yet this is where I found myself. I did not want to live a mediocre life or with regrets. So I found ways to educate myself at home and after work by taking oil painting classes with a great teacher Tom Anderson. He helped propel my growth. I never missed a class. I found painting therapeutic and a great way to escape the mundane and workaholic life. It was empowering, satisfying and made me feel unique and special.

I really felt I was on my way when in 2007 I sold my first painting to a woman in Brighton England via the Internet. My first sale to someone that was not a friend or relative!

I had some savings and when the Internet bubble burst, so went my steady job. This was a blessing in disguise. I decided in year 2008 that I would take a big chance and heed the calling of my dreams with full focus. I ignored the nay Sayers. I persevered through the challenges of starting a business and overcoming obstacles. And today, I can honestly say that I am glad I did not give up. I created something out of nothing.  Two of the best jobs perfect for me.  Creative and free.  I now divide my time between painting, selling my art work and teaching art to children and adults. I also have another business that allows me to work from home, my Hawaii vacation rental business. Both are growing as am I. The hardest thing in the beginning of this endeavor was to give up a steady paycheck and earn less income, but I see it as a temporary adjustment. I took a leap of faith and my vision and dreams are still in its infancy. This journey is not for the faint of heart…I am working on my first book with additional personal stories.  Please contact me for more information.  

Mark Twain expresses it best for us artists - “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”