Sunday, June 25, 2017

What is it like to be an Artist?

Maybe Being Able to Paint a Meaningful Painting!



"Not Enough Green!" Pastel 16"x12"
The post title, "What is it like to be an Artist?" could have so many different answers. To me it is the joy I feel when I can produce something that is worthy of a frame, and truly means something to me and maybe to someone else. It means there is joy in the viewing of the painting by others! The painting I am showing at the top is one of those.

A Little History


I started painting ... or I should say, learning to paint ... 45 years ago with oil paint. My Mother brought me her tubes of oil paint from when she painted, and that was when I was a baby. I had just given birth to my daughter several months before and was staying home to raise her. Mom thought I needed something to do! Was she kidding? I had a newborn and had loads of stuff to do!

Well, anyway, that is the start of me trying to paint. And, I had a best friend that was painting and taking lessons, so she encouraged me to do the same. I did find a lady that gave lessons at her home about twice a month on a Tuesday (I think) evening. I probably took about 6 months worth. She had us painting from her own paintings. But, she did allow me after the first one to paint from a photograph I had found in an inspirational publication. I still have that first and second painting, and I am rather proud of what I was able to do!

Along the way my Mom brought me a set of pastels ... Rembrandt .... that she found at a yard sale. Wow, all those colors, and so quick to use. Again, I was off on another adventure. I think that event came about 2 or 3 years after she brought me her oil paint tubes. I also took only two workshops and no other lessons for about 25 of those first years. Both of those were 5-day plein air workshops, one in oil paint, and one in acrylic.

Fast Forward Many Years!


I painted my little heart out and learned loads of stuff from doing so, and from voracious reading of art books, magazines and studying other artists. I made loads of mistakes along the way, but those taught me what not to do. And, it gave me permission to keep trying different techniques, different mediums, and I made lots of artist friends that helped me along the way.

I started framing some work, showing in a couple of local small gallery/frame shops, and started selling about 10 years into my journey. Ah! Reminds me of my favorite saying... "It's the journey, not the destination!" But, I digress. I decided to join the Atlanta Art Center, took on a few volunteer jobs and kept learning. Nineteen years ago, I took my next workshop from a legend in the Atlanta area, Elsie Dresch. This was a pastel workshop, and I took everything she said to heart, and my work seemed to just take off. Elsie, my first mentor, is the one of the reasons I really fell in love with pastels.

But, you know how opportunity comes knocking loudly sometimes? Around that time I started teaching workshops and lessons. I was being asked to teach some of my friends, so I thought it would be a good thing to do. And it kept me learning so I could keep ahead of my students, right? I participated on a website called "WetCanvas" and meet many wonderful giving artists there! One of those made the most important impact on me, my art and my career!

Now We Get to the Answer for the Above Painting!


The person in this painting is truly like no other artist I have met. The plot thickens ... he was on that website, and I had participated for awhile in conversations on the forums about pastels, painting and teaching. He got in touch with me and said something to the effect of, "I know you are teaching classes and workshops, so would you like some samples of my pastels?" Well... that wonderful man was the master colorologist, Terry Ludwig! My answer? Of course, it was a resounding yes. I had heard of his pastels.

Not long after, not to bore you with all the history of it, he came to visit me in the Atlanta area to teach a portrait workshop at the Atlanta Artist Center. Since he was staying with me, we went out to paint plein air, and it being an August morning, it was humid.... and very green! I came around the barn and took this photo, as he was painting. It was a wonderful memory and  I have wanted to paint it for years. I had it taped to one of my cabinets for that eventuality. I did so just a few months ago finally. I framed it and carried it with me to the IAPS (International Association of Pastel Societies) Convention in Albuquerque NM this month (June, 2017). The Terry Ludwig "candy store" booth had it hanging behind the workers that helped attendees pick pastels to purchase and take home with them.

I  painted this memory for Terry and his wife, Marie... and it is now hanging in their living room as a gift from me. We create joy when we paint, and some of the best memories when painting, learning, teaching, visiting galleries and museums, attending events, and best of all ... making artist friends! All these things are joyful if you let them be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Doldrums? Need to Change?

"Healing Waters" Pastel 14" x 11"

Here are a few items you might want to try!


I was reading a blog post by John Weiss that are along the lines I am discussing here about making a change. He gave a list like I have below, but I made my own list with the help of his. And, in the article, he also said, "The question is, must art become commercially successful and widely recognized to be powerful? To fulfill the artist's creative vision? To elicit joy in others? .... Doing the work is enough." I did leave out some of what he said before that last sentence because what I read spoke to me just the way I have presented it here to you.

Make sure to listen to your heart! Change should only be about a passion or an intriguing idea that just won't go away. This might be a great clue as to a direction worth exploring.

So.... what should you do?


1. Identify why you feel you are stymied or need something new, or you are stuck in the doldrums.

2. Visualize what could be .... what intrigues you.

3. Write down your thoughts, or what you would like to change. Do some research into the things you are thinking need work.

4. Make a list of steps that might help you accomplish the change you wish to make. Have a plan of study, or practice... which helps you figure out where to go.

5. Create some reminders of what you want to accomplish .... your goal. Stick them up where you will see them every day. Practice with purpose these things that are change or different from your normal way.

6. And maybe you need to change your routine so it will be easier to not fall back on your old methods. Move your supplies, have a different order, change the supplies, put on different music.... anything that will signify something new is about to happen!

Remember ... you might encounter these types of feelings, or the need to change something, many different times during your lifetime or career. This is normal and a realization that it is time for growth or learning something new! You can't grow if you keep doing the same thing all the time.

Farm On a Hill (working title) Pastel 11"x14"
 I have a quote taped up right beside my easel which says, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything creative!" I think about it more now that I see this quote beside me. It helps!

The two paintings in this blog are part of my change from the past three or four years of trying to "simplify" which really led me down a road that was not working for me. So, part of my change was going back to who I really am, and what I love to paint ... use what I have learned in those years to make my work better!

So ..... sometimes change might be revisiting who you really are, using things you have learned, and understanding what "success" means to you.