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.”