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June 2007

On Writing "The Introduction Letter"

I have committed to taking a giant step in my career adventure by signing up for an on-line class offered by Alyson B. Stanfield, called Promote Your Art With Confidence.    I can wholeheartedly recommend it to any artist looking for that extra push they need to get out there.  Alyson's many years of experience and gentle, insightful manner are treasures to be shared with others. 

She has pushed me into thinking critically about things like artist statements and introduction letters.  One resource that she recommended is ArtSpeak: A Guide to Contemporary Ideas, Movements, and Buzzwords.  This book is extremely useful and helped me define where my abstract work fits in with art trends and art history. 

Here is some of the text I am considering using for my letter of introduction:

I paint with a direct approach, manipulating the materials in a sensual exploration of form upon a flat surface. My process relies partly on chance and the interaction of specific materials. The surface quality varies from smooth, with a shiny, modernist appearance, to a bas-relief effect further enhanced by the depth of the panels. I have often described the finished pieces as sculpture for the walls.

 

I have recently expanded into adapting this process to paper. I work flat, pouring the pigment onto the substrate and manipulating it. The mediums I use create transparent layers, providing an illusion of depth that seems to envelop the viewer in an environment of color and movement. My color choices are inspired by both nature and conceptual ideas.

So, what does anyone think?  Please leave a comment...it's such a thrill to open my email and see that I am connecting with you.


Just when I thought I was out of the Trees

Okay  ~  so my lovely little statement is poetic, it reads nicely...but it dawns on me...it doesn't say a word about the art. It doesn't describe what I do, it doesn't distinguish the work from that of other artists, it doesn't give the reader any reason to want to know more...So how can it be an artist statement?   

I'm going to have to think about this for a while...


Finding Confidence in the Midst of Despair

We had our Third Friday Art Walk and it couldn't have come at a better time for me.  I was trapped in the PMPP Syndrome ( Poor Me Pity Party ~ coined by my career coach, Alyson B. Stanfield) and I needed a Swift Kick back into reality. (Actually, Alyson  calls it the PMWP - Poor Me Whining Phenomenon...I could blame my memory lapse on breathing too many solvents in the studio, but it's more like LMS - Lazy Memory Syndrome.  My apologies to A...she was a good sport about it!)

But, on with the story... First, I was taking to heart some advice Alyson gave and instead of standing shyly in the middle of the room answering the easy questions,  I began to  really talk to people about my art.  I put aside my self-consciousness, recognizing it as the excuse I had been using to remain in my comfort zone.  And other than the drunk who almost put his foot through my newest -- and best so far -- painting  -- it worked!

All kidding aside, for me, and I suspect for others, too, I easily slip into automatic behaviors that keep me in my comfort zone, where I can't do what I need to be doing  to sell my work.  Triggers that send me running back into self-consciousness ( dictionary definition: excessively aware of being observed by others) fall into several categories, but the BIG one is spending too much time attending my own pity party, or associating with other artists who are celebrating in the same manner.  And that's the thing ~ fear loves to feed off of fear, and while we might come together seeking reassurance, what we end up doing is just magnifying the insecurities.  Often, the demoralization is so subtle that I don't even notice it  at first, and only later become aware of a feeling of sadness or loneliness...

What I discovered at this past Friday Art Walk is that people are genuinely positive about art and artists in general, and more than I ever imagined were willing to honestly tell me what impressed them about the paintings they were looking at. 

I learned that I was truly living the creative life.

I was creating work that other people regarded as "art."

I was connecting to people on an existential level as they felt an emotional response to a motif.

The work would continue to sell and that the first  few times weren't a "fluke"

If I were still attending my PMPP, (and no doubt I shall slip up and return there on and off in the future) I would probably have interpreted the above positives as negatives, glass half full sort of thing. 

As the evening slowly wound down, I began straightening up and came across a flier I had created several months ago and had "sort -of" forgotten about.  On the front cover I had written:

    "All I really know are my own experiences, what I see and perceive, beauty that presents itself to me in a flash, and then is gone.  But when I read a poem, or see a painting, or hear a melody filled with recognition of the familiar, I am knocked breathless with the awareness that I am not alone in my experience.
    This is why I paint."

I think I will replace my old, tired "academic" artist statement with this one.  What do you think?

River_walk_1  "River Walk"   30 x 40  oil on canvas
This image is too small to see that there is a railing along the path that runs through the middle ground, just above the large gray rocks.  (Click on it and a large view shows everything. )  We are blessed to have a truly magnificent river canyon within 20 minutes of my home, and this location is one of my favorite landscape spots.  This is the painting that the drunk was trying to put his foot through...the perils of placing large paintings on easels low to the floor, and then offering too much free wine in the open gallery area.   


When it starts to fall apart

Yes...sad news...two of the artists in our small collective have decided to pull out.  I'm not sure why, I know they have their reasons.  I guess it points out one of the challenges in sustaining an art presence in your community, the idea that there is strength in numbers, but also dependency, in that everyone is affected  when someone pulls out.  Maybe a situation didn't develop as expected, maybe the financial issues were at fault, maybe the space just didn't fit what the artist was trying to accomplish...but now I find myself looking at a half-empty loft and the prospect of seeing what I've been trying to accomplish take a giant step backward.  I wish my fellow artists well.  I have had a gratitude jar in my studio where I continuously put "thank you for the time I have in this place" notes, and that is how I am looking at the situation now.  I appreciate the exposure and experiences and sales that I had at The Loft.  I will continue on, probably not at The Loft unless our landlord can quickly fill the empty studios...not very likely...I should simply view this as a signal from the Universe that it's time for me to move on.  Adieu.