Celebrate Spring! Gallery Novus will be open to the public for the first time this Friday & Saturday, (April 14th & 15th) from 2PM – 7PM. Please pop in and say hello if you are on Amelia Island this weekend. We are featuring new works by Gina Cochran & Casey Matthews ….. 813 South 8th Street, Amelia Island, Florida ….. firstname.lastname@example.org.
This has been a labor of love, but my new gallery has become a reality. I can nit-pick over many unfinished details and never get there or I can just go for it and open up. (the city finally came and approved me). So I realize it is Easter Weekend and nobody will be in town, but I will be working, painting, and changing lightbulbs anyway – why not stay open a little later? We are located at 813 South 8th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL; and normally open by appointment, and during the Second Saturday. 904.606.4388.
It is named for the first baby born in the States – “Nathan” weighed 7lbs, 11oz. and was born in Flushing Hospital – Queens, NY.
Casey Matthews “Queens Baby” (60×36)
I know everyone was ready to move past 2016, and welcome a new year. The election was tough; it really brought out the worst in everyone. The world is a sad place and it is disheartening to live in a world that is so black and white; so polarizing. In times like this, it is better for me to retreat inward and take care of things closer to my heart: My home, my family, my relationships, my art career – rather than obsess over things that I don’t understand on a global or emotional level.
Oddly enough, personal-wise, I had a great year. It was my most successful year as a professional artist. I worked my ass off, and felt like I have learned a lot about myself as an artist and business person. I’m always present and thankful; I try to keep an open mind about learning new things, and allowing new experiences into my life.
– I also celebrated 10 years with my man last year. We have been spending a lot of time nesting. We are remodeling our kitchen, and spending money and time on our home; redecorating a little.
– I am moving my studio this month. It is a very scary, and a large financial move for me – but there is nothing like the threat of poverty to light the fire under my ass and make things work! I embrace the challenge and hard work ahead of me.
– With a heavy heart, I mentally let go of a huge toxic relationship in my life this past year. It is still very sad and hard to explain, without seeming so cold and unforgiving – but I’m at peace with my decision. I feel like my life is going really well right now, and I don’t want anyone making me feel bad about myself. Some people just cannot be happy, and can’t help to bring others down; they are incapable of love, and find comfort in their angry, miserable existence. You just can’t force relationships on people, and it is OK to say good-bye.
I ran across this timely poem this week and wanted to share:
So – I was in the June 2016 Coastal Living! I knew it was coming, because I had to sign a release, but I was sailing in the BVI in May when my phone started blowing up: Friends family, and clients all over the USA who had subscriptions, recognized me instantly in the tiny photo.
Earlier this year, I attended an artist residency for a week at the beginning of February. I almost don’t want to share the info with you, because I want to be able to attend again next year and apparently it was super hard to be accepted. But I will just have to roll the dice and leave it up to the universe – perhaps other artists need more help than I do? Anyway, the retreat was a Master Series Residency with Steve Aimone, located at the beautiful Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, which is known for hosting some of the most prominent artist-in-residence programs in the country. I don’t know Steve on a personal level, but as a teacher, he is such a gentle soul, incredibly intelligent/knowledgable about art, and knows how to ask you the right questions in order to get you thinking about your own work, and encourage the creative juices to flow. He specifically knows how to relate to and communicate with women on a level that most men do not. I would not describe myself as overly sensitive and/or easily offended – however most artist can be, and this nurturing environment and approach was recognized, and appreciated. This was my first “continuing education” workshop of sorts since leaving college – and thanks to Steve the transition was an easy and humbling experience.
I was so excited to be there that I’m pretty sure I did not even sleep 30 minutes the first night (and I looked like death the rest of the week because of it). I also experienced a brief wave of sadness (the weird kind of sadness, because you realize you are so thankful and happy) – as it occurred to me that I was so starved for creative companionship, advice, and connection. I feel so creatively isolated on this small island – and it was so incredibly refreshing to be around these like-minded individuals (only abstract artists) who were so serious about becoming better artists and honing their craft. Everyone was excited to learn new things about technique, problem solving, new materials, and about themselves through their art.
There were all levels of artists represented at the residency, and it was cool to be able to openly observe everyone while they worked, how they set up their work space, incorporate such different/creative materials, resolved problems, and learn how everyone approaches their personal creative process. Artists are such diverse creatures, and it was invigorating to listen and engage in ideas while learning and evolving myself. Most artists, like myself, (or at least the artist I admire) are more PROCESS oriented: Connected and immersed in the process making of the work as a “system” that is open-ended, curious, problem-solving, exploratory, innovative, individual, invested, and connected – as opposed to (final) PRODUCT oriented. Most artists at the retreat seemed to carefully plan or premeditate their intent with the work, or series, while I tend to approach things more intuitively and see where things take me. This sounds odd (because most people wish they could approach art making like I do) – but I wanted to try and get away from that unplanned “intuitive” behavior that I have always relied on, in order to place limitations on myself, and attempt to create work with more of an objective, underlying grid, and goal. Or at least balance the intuition and intention. It was a challenge to constantly re-shift my focus on creating a successful push/pull, instead of the loose, organic circular moment I tend to gravitate toward. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone – which is what keeps things interesting for me. (I don’t know if any of this makes sense.) I swear I learned more about myself and creating art than I did in my 7-8 years of college. In fact I’m not sure what I learned in college (if anything.)
It was such a luxury to be able to paint 12-14 hours a day, have all my meals taken care of, and not worry about the distractions of daily life. The overall result were these very ‘quiet’ paintings. Even more muted, with texture, and editing than I normally do/use – and I love how peaceful they seem. Several of these took me awhile to resolve while considering all of the layers and shapes that were floating and sliding around, all the negative space makes me feel mysterious and sterile, yet complete (if that makes any sense.) They are not too crazy “out there” – or at first glance even appear all that different from my current work, however, the underlying structure, rules, and intention I was striving for have already become a catalyst for my new work in progress (photos come).
Anyway, I’m anxious to see how all this hard work pays off in the studio in the next few months/year. I am my own worst critic. I came home feeling invigorated, yet like all my old art was absolute crap, that I never knew thing about art, and wanted to paint over all the work in my studio. I am especially anxious to tackle all the unfinished “stinkers” that I have lurking around the studio – haunting me. I am trying to not view them as unfinished failures, but as challenges. I need to edit more, and continue to work through the layers instead of losing all hope when something is not instantly coming together. I also need to abandon the notion that work is ever really finished – but just cast off during important moments.
“To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul!” -Picasso
I am spoiled in the fact that things/creativity normally come fairly easily to me. But I also know that I get bored with things that I feel like I have really conquered/accomplished – and that is when a shift in the work usually occurs for me. It is my (new) intention to incorporate more areas of discomfort or discord – to engage the viewer more – both in a good and bad way. Even if something irritates you that is better than being glossed over as a “purdy picture that matches the sofa.” I don’t really want to create such safe, pretty, obviously feminine art – but work that has more dimension and soul. We will see if I can do these things.
Now that I have been back tackling the “ghosts” of unfinished work, I do miss the connection with other artists, but this “alone time” has forced me to explore this new phase of growth in my process on my own terms. I have been spring cleaning in a sense, and already revisiting old work. Here are a few “problem children” that had been sitting around the studio and I have taken the time to (mostly) resolve after coming home. Either I am just tired of working on them, or they have become some of my favorites – none the less, they have been released from the nest:
I have learned a tremendous amount about life this past year. Some in business, some in personal. (You will be given the opportunity to view some lovely new work while to are reading my
preach long drawn out revelations)
I’m not normally a competitive person, however these past few years have been so good to me – I am in a competition with myself to push ahead even further this year. Artists don’t really talk about money much – so I have no idea where I fall among my peers, but my main goal is to keep creating (what I consider) good quality work that I am proud of – and still hope I still get paid. I realize I’m not cutting edge, or solving the world problems. Art is considered a luxury item, and most of my work is considered more “decorative” which some frown upon – but I don’t care. I’m having a blast, and I’m thankful for every second of it. I love it when people tell me my work makes them happy, brightens a space, or they frequently discover new things in my work…
Shedding negativity is so amaze-balls! Last year I ended a few professional relationships with people who are toxic, stagnant, negative, and holding me back. I don’t like it when people repeatedly waste my time, are late, or no-shows, avoid me, repeatedly don’t return email or phone calls. I don’t like it when people are unprofessional, constantly ask for discounts, are dishonest about prices, sales, where my art is (or isn’t,) and/or where my money is. I was starting to feel like a gangsta in a shakedown. Why can’t people just be mature, honest individuals? It is sooo much easier to be a person of integrity – you don’t have to keep up with as much stuff (lies). So – after I ended said “toxic” relationships with energy vampires – a HUGE weight was lifted off me and I felt this awe-inspiring surge enter my creative being. (Perhaps I was channeling my dead Mother?) So when I do find people to work with that are highly respectful, thankful, and professional; who are willing to invest time and money in me, and believe in me – I cherish those relationships. Unfortunately the learning lesson can be long and painful dirt road before you find the gold.
I had someone give me some valuable clarity: That all of your galleries will want you to be successful and succeed. The more accomplishments, and exposure you gain, adds to your overall popularity and credibility – and everyone wins across the board. If you have a gallery that is very competitive, trash talkin, greedy, pushy, passive aggressive, and/or territorial – those are red flags and you should consider other places/people/organizations that with nurture your career and stick with you for the long haul.
I have had several people/artists reach out to me asking advice about galleries, and business advice. For some reason I must give off this vibe that I’ve got it all under control, have a factory going in my studio, and know everything about the art business – but I’m not sure where that comes from. Most of the time I feel that I’m just winging it. My strength is that I not afraid to do anything, ask any questions, ask about opportunities, and jump in and get my hands dirty. I don’t wait around for things to happen to me – I try to make them happen; yet I still try to remain humble and accommodating. It’s a weird combination. I realize that things will not be handed to me without patience and hard work – success has to be earned, and relationships are cultivated. You can be the best artist out there, but if nobody knows who you are – it does not really count.
I have learned the importance of having artist friends – and the need to ask questions. Ask questions about potential galleries, art contacts, experiences, supplies, workshops, retreats, grants, etc. Don’t just assume the grass it always greener in the gallery over the fence. Don’t assume things about galleries (or artists) because so and so artist that you respect shows there. Don’t assume that an artist will not share information with you (maybe they will, maybe they won’t.) Ask questions! I have found most artists are very open and generous with their information, as long as you are thankful and respectful of their time.
Thanks to social media, I am able to observe and interact with many creative people who I would not normally meet. I live in such a small town with very few professional artists to bounce ideas off of; so it is nice to learn how other people work, how they live their lives creatively, and with such intent. I have been trying come out of my crusty, barbwire shell and be a little more friendly and less shy about my life. But social media also angers me a tad because I see so many artists that can’t seem to find their own style and that they tend to copy what they deem is successful – or rather – become “heavily influenced by others.” I have not really noticed others copying me per se – but I may be too self-absorbed to see this or even care. Copy cats are sad and annoying, and the galleries that represent them are even more disappointing.
I have learned to remain fluid. Over the course of the past year I have been looking for a new studio space. I have been where I am for over 12 years and have outgrown the space; I really need something larger. I have learned not to get too attached to any one place or idea. Am I going to buy the house behind me for studio space, a condo across the street, a different condo across the street, a warehouse, rent a new space, rent a storage space and secretly work there at night, become an investor in a new warehouse/artist collective, build a studio, build a new house with a large studio, etc? Seriously, the direction changes weekly as I am dealing with flaky sellers, indecisive people or shady parties. My point is – I’m just going to put it out in the universe and see what happens, and not become too inflexible. Sure, the thought of cleaning and moving out of my studio that I have had for over a decade seems daunting. Moving and confronting my
crap belongings is my least favorite activity in the universe…. I just need to remain fluid and open to new ideas. I’m sure I’m going to piss off some people here but – but one of my biggest pet peeves when people (artists) declare things. Such as, “I am no longer taking commissions – indefinitely“, “I am permanently dropping out of the gallery circuit in order to self-represent myself”, “I am no longer using traditional art supplies, and am strictly going digital from now on”, “I am exclusively represented by such and such gallery,” “I have found my niche, and I am going to exclusively paint dogs/pets.” I’m not exaggerating – I literally see/read or hear such statements all the time from people. Why? Why I ask? Why must people get so excited about their trivial change to declare such things, and with such definite adjectives ? Why can’t they just privately go about their business, and when they eventually change their mind later (and they always do) they won’t look like such an idiot douche bag? Social media has given us such a narcissistic platform that people think others actually give a rats-poo about their every waking moment (maybe people do care, who knows? I don’t – I’m too busy) Am I personally so afraid of commitment, that I hate such permanent statements? Maybe I am constantly playing the devils advocate to believe in anything with such conviction? I’m just trying to be a realist. I’m not that old – but I have been in the art business long enough to know that there are certain ebbs and flows with politics and/or the economy that directly affect art sales, the housing market, and businesses/galleries going under. I think artists need to float along and constantly search for new opportunities and collaborations when other doors close. If we declare such permanent statements (only to retract later) and/or be come so comfortable in the status quo , it seems closed-minded to new opportunities that may present themselves down the road. Just my two cents – take it for what it is worth.
“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” – Bruce Barton
So, on a lighter note – I’m off to an artist retreat for a week. I’m sofa king excited! Aside from one small (two-hour) printmaking class – I have not really taken any “continuing education” classes outside of college. This will be the first time that I will be working around other like-minded individuals for an extended period of time. I hope to create some juicy new work, and meet some cool people! I feel like I’m going to camp – I’ve been preparing/packing for weeks!