Category Archives: Inspiration

Master Series Residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts

ACA

The outside wall of my workspace for the week at ACA  (Casey Matthews)

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.

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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).

Lindys Wall

Casey Matthews   – Finished, framed and hung on a brick wall (four – 40×30’s).

 

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Casey Matthews “Caledonia” (72×48)

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:

 

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Casey Matthews   “Valor of Pallor”    (30×40)

 

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Casey Matthews “Third Eye” (30×30)

 

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Casey Matthews “Proximity to the Ocean” (40×30)

 

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Just let go…

What I'm working on today. (30×30)

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I have had a fabulous painting week. It has been great to get back in the studio with clear mind/vision after a long vacation.  I’m such a lucky person, and every day I am so thankful that I am to be able to do what I do, feel good about the work I produce, and also get paid to do it.

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Casey Matthews – Four-24x24x3  – Mixed media painting (coffee, acrylic, gouache, polymers, charcoal)

I just got back from a hiking the Inca Trail in Peru.  While I was away, I was not planning on answering email however, as soon as I got on the plane (I had wifi) I started getting a bunch of art related email – up until I got home three weeks later: I secured deposits for three commissions, got inquiries for five more potential gigs, developed a business relationship with a new gallery, and was in contact with three consulting firms regarding large hotel projects.  Who knew there would be so many art emergencies last month?  It has been so amazing how many good things, situations, relationships, opportunities, people have come into my life this year.  Thanks everyone!

Machu Picchu #machupicchu #perupath #incatrail

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I had so much work to do, I had to hit the ground running as soon as I got off the plane…. Then, I had a previous deadline that was cancelled on me this week  – it was one of those things that was SUCH a relief, and a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders (mentally.) Also, a catalyst that will get the ball rolling toward ridding myself of several toxic situations/relationships that I seemed to have found myself in. Something I have been mentally struggling with for a few years, but has really come to a head these past few months. A situation that has really been holding me back… and this week I am at peace with my decision to let it go.  IT FEELS AMAZING.  I hate to admit that I am (at times) afraid of change. However I know that it is crucial to success and growth. And I have really been paying close attention to my mission and path this year. Funny how when you write down your goals and visualize them – they seem to all seems to fall into place. I’m moving forward and cutting loose of those things that are holding me back, and taking advantage of me.

And this release is sooo mentally healthy. There is no sense in having any negative energy and anger linger and cloud my creative process or  future business decisions. I try really had to be a professional person and think more like a man, rather than a sensitive female artist  (sorry ladies, but we/you tend to get your panties in a wad over trivial shit;) Not take things so personally or get hung up on insecurities. There is so much rejection and criticism in art – you just can’t get hung up on every little detail – use it and move forward. The fact of the matter is that sometimes people just need to part ways in order to grow. It is nothing personal.

I’m one of those people who has great luck when “one door closes, another door opens….”

I have had such an eventful year – past year. This time last year I was really struggling with Tennis Elbow – and that slowed down my creative output tremendously, which was pretty painful and depressing that I was so helpless. My Mother was also diagnosed (and then passed away) with lung cancer that had spread to her liver, bones, and brain – all in the course of 3-4 months. That was pretty intense. I also got a new puppy last year – and good God – that was extremely stressful as well!

So this week, I was able to let go, and clear my mind, just have so much fun experimenting, and paint for myself – and I’m ready for great things to happen.

In progress

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What I'm working on today. (30×30)

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I have been fairly prolific this week.

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Spring is here

So I have been back in the studio – sort of.  I have really been working at home (mostly outside) – just a few hours a day for the past two weeks.  I’m slowly getting back my creativity.

Here are two paintings I picked up from the photographer today:

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Casey Matthews “The 11th Hour” (30×40)

Casey Matthews "Raconteur" (30x40)

Casey Matthews “Raconteur” (30×40)

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Paintings on Paper

I have been working on some gouache, watercolor pencil, and charcoal paintings on paper. Kind of a new medium for me (and not without a learning curve,) but fairly easy and uncomplicated to work with considering my temporary environment; I’m currently watching my Mother die in San Antonio, Texas. I’m using my intuition, experimenting, and embracing the unpredictability of the paint. The process is indicative of the environment.

Here are some of my favorites so far:

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France (part one)

So I have not really been posting lately or even interested in posting anything.  Too busy just living life I guess.  Writing about it seems so trivial.  However I just got back from France and did without TV, and only had limited internet.  I read a bunch, and fell in love with books again.  A luxury in my busy schedule.  So I vowed to live life with less technology once I go back in an attempt to lead a more rich life. Take time for more meditation, contemplation and reflection.

So here I am.  I will attempt to give a better critique of France of the next week  (which was amazing in so many aspects).

Getting ready to travel:
I had so much work to do before leaving that I sort of left out a bunch of research – like what art I wanted to actually see in Paris, what the Lourve actually houses, learning a lick of French, etc……  I had a few paining commissions to wrap up and either deliver or get in the mail.  I had to ship a bunch of art to an Atlanta gallery/art rep.  I had to write three sorority recs, rehang my studio, clean my house and get ready for the house sitter, plan out my dog’s meals for the time she was at the kennel, I needed to make sure all my work shifts were taken care of at the studio/gallery and jewelry store, and plan a trip to San Antonio for a family thing.  I guess a normal person does not wait until the last minute, but I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day.  I was taking some art supplies and paint in hopes of doing some plein air painting, and that in an exact science in itself. And part of those did not arrive in time.

So with the lack of technology and distractions that normally desensitize, while in Provence, I was allowed to breathe, and exist in the moment.  Here are some things I learned or thought about:
– People view the world completely differentially.  People process reality differently:  Two people can actually see, hear, and experience the same exact thing(s) and realize it completely differently. So when you hear “There are two sides to every story” – you better believe it.  The baggage we carry lends itself to perception.  Some people trust too much, and take life at face value, while others think there is conspiracy and motive behind most things.  Some people trust what they are told and are able sit back and wait for their turn in life.  Other people would rather hover over the possibility, and force or rush the opportunity. Your reality is not always the same as everyone elses.
– Art is so objective.  And that is why I love it so much.  What people deem beautiful is not universal.  Some people don’t trust themselves, and like everything that everyone else does.  Others always find beauty in the underdog, Some people may think something smells nice that I find absolutely revolting.  The same goes for music, and tastes.  Some people are just ignorant.  Others are flat out narrow-minded.  Some people go through life accepting no responsibility or accountability – some prefer to play the role of the victim.  Others don’t like negative attention,  shun pity, hide from the truth, some live with a facade, and live in shame; they live with lies.
– Some people like/create drama and see that as a form of attention, or energy to thrive on.  Others prefer to actually gain attention from real accomplishments.
– Some people are so focused on the end product that they forget that the experience that leads them there is just as important:  Take time to smell the roses. Your personality, attitude (or lack of one), passion, love, and enthusiasm transpires in your art and how you live your life. You have to experience things before you successfully create.
– Some people are quick to criticize or critique things they know nothing about – I’m sure I have probably been guilty of this in the past as well.  And while I know their comments are based on ignorance, they can still sting.  Which I guess is why to this day I still don’t really care to show people my work unless it is mostly finished.
– I like challenge, experimentation, and discovery when I am make my (abstract) art. I don’t impose too many restrictions on myself – and if I do, I don’t seem to notice anymore – it might be second nature.  The ability to be loose and intuitive is what grounds me.  I savor the process.  In fact, what I have been doing the past few years I find more rewarding and challenging than anything I have ever done.  It is my therapy.  The preparation that goes on before I start a painting can take so long: Gathering collage materials, making my diluted solvent images, making copies, ripping them up, planning the compositions, layers and layers of  paint, paper, and medium – but the execution looks effortless.
I learned that a realistic painter seeks these same sort of challenges, but in different ways:  They may limit their palette and force themselves to only mix old school. They have to have the right light, or light bulbs.  The preparation of plein air painting is so meticulous, and set up needs to be an exact science, otherwise you waste valuable painting time.  Painting plein air encourages a realistic painter to paint fast, loose, and in the moment – to basically use the opposite side of their brain. It was interesting for me to see that a realistic painter seeks to embrace challenges and enjoy the process as well. And what seems daunting to some, others actually embrace.

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So then I went to Paris – by myself.  I was a little scared and excited at the same time. But I will write more about that later.

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I feel very peaceful and ready to enter my fourth decade of life.  I have a few changes to make, but I am comfortable with who I am, and know what I want from life.   Here is a detail of a soothing painting I have been working on:

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Affirmations

I am currently trying to make a list of affirmations.  I will then translate into some lovely cards to look at and celebrate on a daily basis, and I can remain positive and motivated.  Despite the fact that the past 6 months have been such an energy vampire (buying/selling/renovating a house) I have had such an awesome year.  In the middle of a recession I have still managed to still sell a good bit of art – not as much as I would like – but I am still able to reap the fruits of my labor.  Of course I need to work harder.  And now that I have finally moved and am (almost) settled in my new home, I am listing my affirmations (not aspirations) for all to see – so that I can remain (somewhat) accountable. (And yes, I realize some are not as succinct as they could be,  there are probably too many, and may sound redundant, but they are MINE.)      SCROLL DOWN

"In A Class All By Yourself" 36x36

– I am confident and only attract the people (and circumstances) that are positive, supportive, and ensure my success as an artist.

– My home and studio are serene, inviting, sanctuaries.  They are clean, organized, clutter-free, and contain things I only use and love.

– I care about my mental health and body.  I meditate, routinely exercise, as well as live healthfully, and habitually.

– Every day includes a new adventure. I embrace change and know it is essential to success.

– My income is constantly increasing and I am able to fulfill my needs of living.

– I deserve recognition and respect as an artist that is associated with hard work and professionalism.

– I travel to wonderful places which nurture my mind, body, art and soul.

– I spend money wisely.

– I create and live the life of my dreams in both my personal & professional life.

– Routine painting is vital to my life. I deserve quality creative time with focus and immersion.

– I am a powerful, gifted, hardworking, prolific painter.  I create soulful, one-of-a- kind work that I am proud of.

– I have become the artist I always dreamed I would be.

– I believe in my work and can promote myself confidently and sincerely.

– I connect with others in a way that is mutually enriching, inspirational, and engaging.  I am an interesting person of worth.

– I have earned the life of my dreams.

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More Design Inspiration (Can you tell I am moving/redecorating?)

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