Saturday, December 30, 2006

Farewell to life as a gallery owner

Today was the final day for me as a gallery owner of Cool Mountain Art! I barely made it into the gallery, because I think I am just done with it. I am done sitting in there, feeling like I am a zoo animal, stuck in a cage for people to gawk at and poke fun of. Fortunately, I did make it in, since many good things happened in the gallery today. I can't write about it yet, because none of the things that happened have solidified, but the day held a lot of promise, and it was a magical, wonderful feeling. I needed the hope, since I was a little teary-eyed this morning before going in, about the whole closing thing. I think with big changes like this, there is always a mixture of excitement and sadness.

I was going to post a photo of the gallery, in the final days, however, I forgot to bring the camera home with the digital images on it, so maybe I can add the photo tomorrow. Instead, I am going to post a photo of a pastel painting I did in Hawaii, called "The Woodland Fairy." She is not the fairy you might have imagined a woodland fairy to be. As you can see, this is a Fairy you shouldn't mess with. I like that about her.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Post holiday post

Christmas is over now. THAT went fast! sheesh. It was a Merry Christmas here, despite the fact that my husband wasn't here. He is in Hong Kong, and he starts his new job with Cathay Pacific Airways tomorrow. (Hong Kong is one day - 14 hours ahead, so I am not entirely sure if it would be considered today or tomorrow, but whatever!) At least there is Skype, so we talked last night for about half an hour.

Yesterday morning, My dad and I took the dog for a walk, as always, along the river. It was cold, and when it is below 10 degrees, the river steams. It is quite something, and I have written about it before. So yesterday, I took some pictures and I am sharing one with you. I am no photographer, but at least you can get an idea! This is the Arkansas River on a cold winter morning.

I am trying to decide whether or not to go into the gallery today. I only have 5 days left in there, so I think it would be good. I won't sell art if I don't go in. I would like to sell two more big paintings before Saturday. Just so that I have two less paintings to pack and move. I am not looking forward to the packing, but I think it will go quickly, since I am getting good at it by now.

I have been struggling to finish a large oil painting, and since I have had people in and out of the gallery, I have it hidden behind my easel. I can't paint when I am constantly interrupted, and I am NOT a performance artist. I don't really want people to see it, or to ask me questions about what I am going to do to it to finish it. It is amazing, but there have been at least 3 people who have seen it, partially hidden back there, who have asked about it. !!! It isn't finished yet! I even had one man tell me to email him if I finished it before Christmas. Does he think I am painting in the middle of the night after working in the gallery all day? I also wonder if he thinks that since a lot of my other paintings have been discounted that he is going to get a brand new painting for 30% off??? I wrote down his email address, but I did think, deep down, that it was unlikely that I would be getting a sale on an unfinished painting.

Now all of you sales people out there are saying to yourselves "well, she isn't much of a sales person, if she has that kind of attitude!" You are right! When it comes to my paintings I am really not much of a sales person - I am an artist. For one thing, I am not about to sell a painting that isn't even finished yet. I don't care how much I need the money! I wouldn't be able to live with myself. The art has to come first, and my commitment to the quality of my own art is paramount. So you must understand that my talent is painting, not selling. Selling is something I have learned from necessity, and I know I have a long way to go before I am really a good salesperson. That's okay with me, as long as the art improves.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thank you to collectors and art appreciators

It is almost my bedtime, so this will be a short post. I don't know if it's the short days, but December is flying by. I will only be a gallery owner for another week and two days. Wow. Three years of owning a gallery, almost completely over with!!! It has been a success, but I am looking forward to having more time to focus on my art, and promoting my art. It should be good. Of course there are things I will miss. I will miss those moments when someone comes in for the first time and falls in love with my art. There is nothing as rewarding as connecting with a person who loves my paintings, and acts as though they have been missing out because they only just NOW have discovered them. It's so cool.

I guess it's a little difficult to explain how it feels to have someone respond so favorably to my art. I don't know why, but it usually surprises me a little bit. Not because it doesn't happen much. It actually happens quite a lot. You would think I would get used to it, or not be surprised. Yet there is a certain amount of self doubt that is always present for me about my art. I mean, if I thought I had already painted my masterpiece, I would quit doing art right now! The main thing that drives me on is the knowledge that I am capable of more. So I look at my work with a certain amount of dissatisfaction. That is not to say that I don't like my own work. No, in fact, I really love my art. I just know that it has not reached its apex quite yet. Even still, admirers of my work are so important. Essential, really. Sometimes, my flagging spirits can be lifted up tremendously by my fans. And of course if it weren't for people buying my work, I would NOT be able to continue to create. It costs money to keep making art. New paints, brushes, paper, canvas, and other art supplies are amazingly expensive. So I thank all those who have invested in my work, and in so doing, have invested in the future of my art. I would not continue to improve without you!! Mahalo.

The monotype I have posted today is one of the most recent ones. These look so much better in person. This one is especially wonderful from a distance. The colors are so vibrant, and the two circles in the center almost pop out like lights in a dark doorway. It is a fairly small monotype, about 5 x 7". I have titled it "lights in the doorway". Enjoy.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

White Christmas?

We woke up this morning to almost a foot of snow, and it snowed most of the day. It is amazingly beautiful. I am not a big fan of the cold, but if it snows, then I will forgive it for being cold. Snow is awesome. Pono the dog loves it. He loves to lay down in it, roll onto his back, four paws kicking straight up in the air, and then he will turn his head so that he can scoop up the snow and eat it, without getting up. Fun!!!

I haven't done much art in the past couple of days. I did rework some of the monotypes with pastel on Sunday, but that's about it. Too busy getting ready for Christmas. Wrapping presents, mailing out cards, etc. It is such a busy time of year. The monotypes are still selling, and I am thrilled about that. So not only do I have fun creating the monotypes, but I am selling them, too! Heavenly.

I was going to be in the gallery today, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My husband, Matthias is leaving for 6 months of training in Hong Kong on Thursday, and I have been following him around the house like a puppy. I don't really think there would have been much in the way of business with snow like this. Maybe I was wrong about that, but with less than two weeks left of the gallery, I definitely have that short - timers syndrome going on. It's just too hard to really care that much about a business that will cease to exist when the year ends.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

More on the figure

Today is Wednesday, the day the figure drawing group meets. I need to go, since my drawing is a little rusty. If I don't draw often, my skills are definitely not as sharp. I think I did mention this in my last post. It's NOT like riding a bike!! Maybe the reason fewer artists persue figure drawing now is because you must practice relentlessly. All of the great masters of art from history were masters of the figure in a way that would humble most artists of today. They could draw the human body as beautifully from memory as they could from life. That is a goal of mine.

In some ways, it does seem rather pointless to persist with figure drawing as a modern artist. Most buyers of art do not buy figurative art, unless it is highly stylized. I have never been much of a fan of stylized figurative art. Maybe because honesty is so important to me when it comes to the human figure. I am not interested, nor am I particularly impressed by the common practice of this kind of figurative art. I know you have seen it. If the figure is rendered with the least amount of realism, the body is a "perfect" nude, what common culture dictates for us as beauty. The face of the figure is hidden, or partially obscured by hair or a hat, or even a carefully placed shadow. The breasts are perky and round, the stomach flat, the arms and legs carefully muscled, but not to the point of weight lifter standards. I think it is repulsive. Have these artists even LOOKED at a real human body recently? Or should I say have they looked at a body that was over 20 years old??!!! I can see "perfect" airbrushed versions of the human form in magazines any day I want. In art, I prefer to see the REAL. The slightly rounded belly, the slightly or very drooping breasts, the not so muscular arms and legs. I want to see who this person IS. Do they look right at me? Do they look off to the side, as if they have something to hide? I suppose this is the reason I am so obsessed with drawing from life, with the person right there in front of me. If you faithfully draw what you see, rather than what you KNOW, discoveries are made. Things that do go beyond an idealized, stylized version of the world.

Many people may not realize this, but the main difference between Van Gogh and Gauguin is that Van Gogh believed it was better, more honest, to work directly from life. In contrast, Gauguin believed in working from the imagination. It was one of the things they argued about, causing the rift between them. I have to say, one of the reasons I am such an admirer of Van Gogh is that I agree with him. I think it is more honest to work from life.

Yes, I realize I am an abstract artist. I suppose that is why when I DO paint or draw something recognizable, I work from the source. If I am not working from something directly in front of me, it is the reason why I no longer want it to refer to something recognizable. If I want reference to the visable world in my abstract work, it is only symbolically, as metaphor. So there is a split in my work. The figure seems to command my most honest attention, whereas the abstract work remains my poetry: Symbolism and metaphor, where interpretation is essential.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Drawing and Painting the human figure

It has been a busy week. Tomorrow night will be the last opening I have in my gallery, Cool Mountain Art. So I have been busy with preparations, and getting some new art framed and matted to sell. I always love a good opening. I guess I do like throwing a party! However, I won't miss the work that goes into each and every opening. There are so many details. I am thankful that I have had this experience of running my own gallery and owning my own business.

I did get a chance to draw this week. I met with the drawing group here in town, and I did a drawing of my friend, Carla Sonheim. It wasn't a drawing I am particularly happy with, or I would post it here. The good part is that I have been drawing long enough to know that there are days when drawing goes well, there are days when drawing is like a gift from heaven, and then there are those days when you can't remember if you have ever had a pencil in your hand!!! The more frustrating days you have, the more good and great days you have coming. So that is my consolation. I won't take so much time in between drawing next time, that is for sure.

I do love to draw the human figure. People are so fascinating, with their infinite variety. The challenge of capturing the uniqueness of each person is rewarding. It is also gratifying to know that all the persistance is worth it, and does pay off with better and more successes. I know there are artists out there who have such an ease with drawing. They make it look effortless. I don't think it is that way for me. I have worked hard at drawing, and as I said, I still have my bad days, even after 15 years! Yet, I really do have the passion for drawing and painting the human figure. I suppose it is because I have a great passion for human beings!! I love the silent communion that occurs between model and artist. It is without words. It is beyond words.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

a cold morning walk

It was 0 degrees F this morning when I took the dog Pono for his walk. The Arkansas River was so beautiful. There was steam rising from the surface of the water, and all the trees were coated with white frost. I looked downriver, into the sun, and the mist from the water glowed. It was amazing.

On the walk, I ran into another dog owner who I see from time to time. Her name is Laura, and her black lab is named Virgil. She was telling me about an alzheimer's patient who she met through hospice. This woman was elderly, and Laura visited her at her home. She said when she first met this woman, she just thought of her as an old Salida housewife. Something amazing happened during the last visit Laura had with her. The woman was barely lucid when Laura got there. Laura managed to turn the television down, and began looking around the room. She noticed a large number of paintings on the wall. She got up to look more closely at the paintings, and the woman tried to get up, as if she had something important to say to Laura. Laura helped her up, and the woman headed into her bedroom. She was gone a long time, and Laura wondered if she was getting into some kind of trouble. So finally, Laura headed toward the bedroom, to see what the old woman was doing. Apparently, she had a book in her hands, and when she saw Laura, she pushed the book toward her, and indicated it was for her to look at. As Laura leafed through the book, she realized she was looking at an artists' portfolio, and the artist was none other than the woman standing in front of her. This elderly woman, who Laura first thought was a Salida housewife was actually once an accomplished artist. The memory of her art, and the sight of her old paintings caused the woman to begin forming sentences. She was able to communicate to Laura how she accomplished things with her painting, and used analogies that Laura, who is a writer, was amazed by. After a fairly lucid conversation with Laura about art, she looked my friend in the eye and said, "Painting knitted me. It is so sad now, because I cannot do it anymore." Laura asked her why not, and the woman just shook her head. Perhaps, in time, Laura can encourage this woman to go back to her brushes, and find once again the joy she experienced with her painting.

The thing that I find so intriguing about this story is that when Laura first got to the house, this woman was unable to even form a complete sentence. Yet, after the encounter with her old portfolio, it was as though something brought her "back", and she was able to communicate with my friend. I see this as an example of the power of art. I have heard other stories, regarding art, and its ability to connect people and to heal. These are the stories I like to remind myself of, when I begin to wonder why I spend so much time in the studio, brush in hand.