Tag Archives: Fernandina Beach
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:
One of the interesting things about having a public art studio is that I get to meet all sorts of people I would not normally interact with. By nature, I am a bit shy with people I don’t know, so this can be a difficult platform. The past 13 years of maintaining an open studio has helped me come out of my shell as I search for words to articulate my process, and create a balanced studio practice. I often surprise myself and learn new things about myself as I describe the work to others. Many years ago an elderly gentleman came into my studio and looked around at my work, completely flabbergasted – at both my prices and my style of work. (which is fine – you don’t have to like all art) He asked what else I did – meaning: “You could not possibly make a living creating this crap – what other kind of job do you have?” But I ignored his implication, and laughed. I superficially replied “…I make lots of messes, walk my dogs, and like to drive really fast.” On the other end of the spectrum, I also meet people that completely freak out, gush over my work, and the fact that they actually get to meet me. Those people are the best!
I had someone come in my studio the other day and looked around – although a bit out of obligation (she was already up there looking in the other art studios) She was older retiree and a novice painter herself. She prefers to paint lovely pastoral scenes in France, and local marsh scenes plein-air. She looked curiously at a particular painting, then asked what my inspiration was. I rattled off my stock answer… “I am very process driven, and I rely on mood, color, energy…” I find this intuitive process more rewarding, challenging, and full of endless possibilities – rather than trying to recreate a particular subject matter on my terms… I continued, “My work is non-objective and the titles are drawn from a running diary of words or phrases that I have written down over the years while reading or listening to an audio book, movie, music, current events/news, etc. The painting is meaningless nonsense and it is paired with a title of equivalent absurdity.” She then started rattling off more questions in an attempt to “understand” (for lack of a better word) “Well, no – what artists are you inspired by?” I thought about it for a minute, then reverted back to my 20 year-old college self – stating “I guess I always admired the Abstract Expressionists – they left the most imprint on me – because they were so energetic, intuitive, and process oriented – like Willem DeKooning, Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell and Philip Guston (early work). And while we are at it – I love Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn, and Lee Krasner…The color of Henri Matisse, and humor of Norman Rockwell (I use to stare at his work for hours as a kid). And as far as contemporary artists go – I just drool over anything Cecily Brown does, She is a real painters painter. She is about my age, lives in NYC, and cranks out multiple paintings at once in her huge Union Square studio. As far as I’m concerned – she a complete rock-star making it in the art world.”
“But your work does not look like any of those artists – I just don’t get it…”
I was a bit taken back by that comment. My 40 year-old self does not aspire to paint like other people. I realize I did not really invent what I do, and I don’t think I’m extremely special – but when I’m in the studio, it is just me and the surface. I’m drawn to the ambiguity of abstraction, and outright contradiction. I just try to create honest work that I am proud of, and keeps me out of trouble. I am constantly learning and experimenting. (Sometimes I am thankful that I live in my little creative vacuum and not surrounded by to many artists – so that their work does not creep into my subconscious.) While it is nice to sell my work and is my ultimate objective – going to work is something I do out of an innate desire to stay grounded to the universe, and maintain mental balance. I don’t really look to other artists (past or current) for my inspiration like I did when I was a young impressionable college student trying to find my style. I mean, thanks to social media – we have enough copy-cat artists to contend with. But they don’t fool anyone. They just make me feel sad for them as they can’t seem to find their own voice.
I realize “everything has been done” but does that mean we should give up on ourselves and continue to copy or draw inspiration from the past (or present for that matter?) Or is this person just an idiot? I’m hoping it is the latter. I’m a jaded bitter bitch about some most things – but I want to think there is still hope for the art world.
Here are a few of my favorites:
I recently donated THIS original painting to The Douglas Anderson Theater Department Boosters. Douglas Anderson is an artsy magnet school (like FAME!) in Jacksonville, Florida. The arts in schools enrich all human endeavors by bridging differences among people and teaching creative and critical thinking skills. Apparently, these days, PE and band are considered electives in most public schools. (No wonder the drop-out rate is so high!) So if you like this painting and/or want to support art in schools (like I do!) this painting can be yours for only $1! This painting is being raffled off instead put in their silent auction in an attempt to get more attention (and raise more money) outside of North East Florida. You can buy a raffle ticket HERE, you can buy as many or a few as you like, and if you are not local it will be shipped to you free of charge – so go for it!
I have had the best year of my career, and it has been amazing to be able to give back to a few worthwhile causes that are important to me. Each year, I am inundated with requests to donate work for all sorts of causes/organizations, and unfortunately this year I have had to tell more people “no” than ever. A few years ago, I decided that I really needed to have a clear mission/objective when donating artwork, and if the organization did not fall in a certain category – it was an easy “no” (which is easier said than done.) I have been put in an awkward situation (more than once) and could not articulate reasons why I did not think it was a good idea for to give a piece of work (not that I even need any) and I ended up fumbling my words and sounding like a complete ass-hole. I now only donate to causes that are close to my heart, and/or are local – and I also put a monetary cap on the donations. Once that is met, I’m done. When I do donate something it is usually a new-ish painting that is representative of my current style. I normally donate work that is a decent size: 24×24 – 36×36, which is essentially $1000-$2000+ in value. Why do I do that? I don’t know – I guess because my reputation is important to me (even if I do complain) – but if I give you some tiny painting then you won’t really make any money for your organization – and if I give you some older work, the painting might not sell, that would be fairly humiliating (no good deed goes unpunished.) If I care enough to donate something I go all out. More often than not, the people who are exposed to my work at these auctions – it is the only time they will ever see my work. Part of me wants to leave a good impression, while the other part of me realizes that it should not matter – because even if they proclaim to LOVE me/my work, they never seem to visit my studio, even for the casual monthly Art Walks. Art auctions have bidders that are preconditioned to pay less than the fair market value – and that does not do me any favors (or the galleries that represent me;) selling my work for much less than retail cheapens my business, and devalues my product. Some people claim that “your donation, will be good exposure,” and “so many high-end collectors will be there” or “its a great form of advertising,” as it is displayed at their event; an event that you do not even get invited to. Some people can even be so pushy or insulting when you say no – and those are the douche bags that ruin it for everyone.
So the purpose of this little vent is to help educate a little, so you know the philosophy behind donating artwork. I have found that most artists are fairly generous, especially if you woo them throughout the year and let them how appreciative you are. Most artists love to have their ego stroked, and will respond to praise, year-long support, and thanks. Remember, they are basically getting nothing from this – so try to sweeten the pot a little. If you ever want to request a donation from an artist, here are some suggestions to manipulate the situation to your benefit:
- Write your local State Representative and request a change in the current tax laws regarding donated artwork. Contrary to what most organizations believe, artists are not entitled to deduct a fair market value of the artwork they create and in turn donate. Most people who solicit art donations are unaware of this. Ask your friends, family members, and other people on the donation committee to do the same. People have been trying to get these laws changed for years. It is in your best interest to get them amended, so you will get more donations.
- Take the artist to lunch or coffee before you pick up the artwork. Artists like free stuff/food. Pretend you are taking them on a date and you want to have sex later. Except the “sex” is a $2000 painting.
- Take the time to explain your organization and cause. Believe it or not, some private schools constantly ask for donations, but never really even state what the auction proceeds are specifically used for. I mean, you are privately funded, can’t you just raise tuition to cover your needs? Be specific.
- After your event, please provide the artist with an official thank you letter recognizing the art donation, the current market value, as well as the name of the purchaser, and final offering. Believe it or not, this is rarely given to the artist – if at all. Artists like to know who their patrons are, so they can add them to their mailing list.
- Visit the artist in the studio or at an art opening at least once during the year to show support. You will not be forced to buy anything – I promise. You can even help promote the artists events on social media throughout the year. If you are nice and supportive to the artist, they will be nice to you in the long run.
- Offer a free ticket(s) to your event, and be consistent about it. Don’t offer tickets to your fancy gala a few years, then quit. You will quit getting art.
- Offer to split the proceeds with the artist. Or let the artist set the minimum bid and whatever the final offering is above that, you can keep.
- Publicly recognize the artist as a benefactor or patron throughout the year.
- Advertise or publicize the donated artwork on your website or social media prior to the auction, in order to garner support and attention.
- Consider asking for a donation in the spring or summer, even if your benefit is in the fall or winter. Don’t ask too close to tax time, but don’t ask too late in the year when everyone else does.
- Don’t ask every year. Artists can’t possibly donate to all the people/organizations that ask every year, and it is painful to have to say no all the time. Space out your requests.
I had a photo shoot in my studio recently and HERE is the final product – an article for First Coast Magazine. It is about shopping for art – from the perspective of the artist, designer, and gallerist. I have been fortunate that Stellers Gallery has placed a lot of my work, especially LARGE work this year, And Julie Schulte, of Schulte Designs, is a local designer that has placed a lot of my work in her homes/projects over the years as well. Basically I rock!