The end is near! Someone recently asked me the other day to choose one word to describe the year twenty-twenty. A lot of words come to mind that are not usually repeatable in certain company. I thought for a few seconds about a sarcastic reply and then I went a little deeper. The word that popped in my mind was shifted. Like a shift in the paradigm of “normal”.
This year, in my opinion, caused many of our standards to be revealed and questioned. The mechanics of our culture and society were exposed as if our car broke down and we lifted the hood for the first time in a long time. We were forced to examine a number things that were neglected or simply taken for granted. It was as if, by looking into the engine, we got to see all the components that come together to make the whole thing work.
What Happens if it Breaks?
I imagine a thing breaking down. Some people are upset that the thing broke down. What will they do now? Others are happy that it broke down. The thing made too much noise, or it smelled of fumes anyway, so good riddance. Either way, there is a shift in the paradigm.
Summer is now one for the books. The snap of fall weather always gets me going. I love the crisp air mixed with warm sun. Somehow, the fall season gets us to shift gears from the light days of summer and into cozier clothes and heavier foods. Favorite smells and spices fill the air around town and in our kitchens. The idea of warmth comes around as the we all start to settle in for a season of gratitude and reflection.
These days during the pandemic, our holiday time is going to be a little different. Maybe that’s okay. Holidays are often hectic. This year, perhaps it needn’t be so. As I continue to be vigilant for my own health and for the sake of others, I have limited my physical interaction with others. Instead, I have an opportunity to think about how my holiday time may be personally meaningful.
Have you noticed, some comedy sketches will rest on an adage that “the more things change the more things stay the same”? This can be either comforting or agitating. For certain, what is a constant normal is change.
There is a classic sketch on the show Saturday Night Live. John Belushi played a character who basically said one thing, “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger, Pepsi, Pepsi”. The character had a burger shop, all they did there was flip burgers and serve Pepsi. Like clockwork, day in and day out, it was a life of burgers and Pepsi.
All day customers comes in to order a burger and a “Coke”.
The character says, “No Coke. Pepsi.”
With that, I should announce some changes being made to my website. This year of 2020 pushed many artists to examine how their art is delivered to an audience. The venues are different than before the pandemic occurred. Particularly the arts have had to adjust. Musicians, actors, dancers, painters and more have not been able to have live concerts, plays, recitals or exhibitions. Making art means having a conversation. Artists tend to want to share, our audience is important. I like going further to make art accessible by building relationships through interaction, education and affordability.
I am re-organizing my site to be more conducive to the online experience for visitors and collectors. It will be taking on more of the form of an online art service and gallery. The visitor will be able to enjoy work online and should have an easier and enjoyable way of communicating, commenting, and inquiring about the paintings.
The site now has segment categories. Read on to learn more.
The gallery shop is where many of my paintings are included as the design on a product. Much in the way a gallery store functions at a real museum or gallery, unique items are for sale as gifts for you and your friends. Great for holiday gift giving or anytime. Pillows, pouches or coffee cups, these items are delivered by a print on demand service such as Pixels or Fine Art America.
Fine Art Prints
I am pleased to announce that high quality Giclee’ prints are finally available! Framed or unframed, this is a true giclee’. These are not from a print on demand service. Selected paintings are professionally photographed, color corrected, test printed and approved before I sign them. The pigment inks and quality papers are archival. Collector quality giclee’s are individually made by a Canson certified print lab in Los Angeles.
The original paintings are available for online viewing. As of October 2020, there are still some changes to be made in this area of the website. However, an experiential feature added are private viewing rooms. Buying original artwork is an investment for your home. It often becomes an heirloom to your family. Thoughtfulness often joins with time when considering a purchase. By inquiring about the original artworks, you may be given personal attention in your own online viewing area where the details about the work, special requirements, purchase, framing, and delivery options are discussed.
The Objective of Change
The main objective for these changes is to move my studio towards being an arts service for patrons and collectors of fine art and away from being a simple portfolio site.
Why? Because, I enjoy creating community and relationships around art and helping people learn more about it. With these new changes, I hope to invite and create more satisfying engagement with my work and website. Some of these changes have already occurred and others are developing now, like online art shows and forums for example. Visit and come back as often as you like. I am happy to help with any of your questions about my work or how to buy an artwork or print.
I would like to say thank you. As the pandemic began, I was uncertain whether or not I could continue as I have. Remarkably, this year my audience has grown, engagement is up and interest in prints and paintings have been impressive considering the circumstances. As our year winds up, going now into the holiday season, may we continue find ways of sharing and connecting, being a little more “artful” to ourselves and one another.
Have you ever had to make a speech? What about an interview? You know you have one shot to make an impression. You want to be prepared and confident. A lot may be expected of you. What do you do when you ain’t got nothing?
I think of the old silent movies. A scene shows a merchant demanding payment from the scamp drifter. The drifter pulls his empty pant pockets inside out and shrugs. The merchant protests, arms waving and fingers pointing. Then, “ah-HAH!” an idea comes to the drifter. Some sort of solution is manifested and somehow all is well again.
Sometimes the harvest from the field of ideas is abundant. Other times, it is like the empty pockets of the drifter. The moral of our drifter’s story is often about faith and perseverance. The drifter’s attitude is one that offers the sunny side of the street, and that you may be down but you’re never out. Something will turn up so long as you hold out for it.
That is fine but being at a loss for what to say or do is a feeling of predicament. How does one generate ideas when nothing seems to come? The ticking clock only seems to make things worse. The longer the wait for an idea the less likely it seems anything will spark.
We are told that to succeed in anything, one must focus on that one thing and do that one thing well. Fine, but what if the one thing you focus on requires many things to be done well, to succeed? How do we manage our success while being a half committed artist?
Who among us has not had an observation about films, music, art and uttered, “They sure don’t make ‘em the way they used to!”
That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed? We may come to a point where we finally say to ourselves that the time for complete commitment has come. Our sideline creativity has come to a crossroad and it is time to commit or quit.
A typically unavoidable fact is that there are many talented people who need some regular supporting income that allows them to do their creative work. So much can be said about this truth.
The aspiring artist may have arrived where their work has evolved as far as it can go but must “set it aside” for other income sources to be fulfilled. If the aspiring artist is split between dedicating themselves wholly towards too many requirements, the notion often evolves towards cutting a few of those away to clear the path to succeed at the desired goal of being a self-supporting artist. The thought might be that one must focus and do the one thing well. That is when the artist positions themselves on the precipice of life’s proverbial cliff to “make the leap” and do the thing they were truly meant to do!
Sell the House?
Hopefully, the prospect that your significant other or your family will either cheer you on, or disown you, has already been considered before making your announcement. Much is made of chucking the old job, selling the house, and setting up shop in the country somewhere to finally write that novel, write the opus, create the body of work. That is a healthy fantasy, but it is assumed that the artist does only one thing. That is, nothing to do but paint pictures or write pages, or play music. Not frivolously, mind you, but dedicated! How untrue and unprofessional this fantasy is.
Personally, I have not yet taken the running leap off the proverbial cliff. Although I feel like I might be hanging on that always present branch that juts out from the cliffs face. There I probably am, dangling before I loose myself and let the wings take flight. Here, suspended between full commitment and drawing back from the edge of the cliff, I find that focusing on the one thing in order to succeed at being a full professional in my field requires many, many things unrelated to the popular idea of what being an artist means. Today’s artist must be able to do more than just the one thing well.
Business Owner – Entrepreneur
Many of us have set ourselves up as a small business to help us manage our necessary purchases, rentals, expenses, and income as our work develops beyond the “at home” stage. Managing the business, no matter how modest, still needs to be done. That includes the accounting! Accounting seems most opposite of being creative. At least it better be!
“Being in sales” sounds more like something heard at a regional manager’s convention than at an art studio! However, good salespeople are often able to understand the needs of the customer or client and pinpoint how to satisfy that need. Not all salespeople are the “used car lot” types. The good ones are also caring about their clients and know that a good sale means a good relationship.
Oh no! Marketing is supposed to be the antithesis of art. Well, but it is creative. Thankfully, the type of “good” marketing I find myself doing is simply insuring I have enough exposure for people to know I exist and to maintain a relationship with an audience or client base. However, that also means becoming versed in the language of marketing and social media.
Social Media, Webmaster and Content Manager
It is a constant upkeep of creating and managing content for an audience. I would like my content to be enjoyable, inspiring, and engaging. If an artist is hiring someone to handle their online presence, then great! However, most of us do it ourselves. If that is your case, then you know you are always having to manage and improve your content and platforms.
Do not forget: Being an artist !
This is truly a calling. If your artistic dedication is to either paint or play golf, then you are safe from this discussion. Making art for the pure joy of it is highly encouraged! However, if making art because life is difficult if you do not, then you may already know that your thoughts are continuously at the passionate service of your ideas and observations.
Perhaps it is a rite of passage and maybe we are tested by fire before the reward is received. If we find that we have gone from the weekend artist towards the full-time (or mostly full-time) artist, we must find out whether we are willing to dedicate ourselves happily, to the many tasks required to maintain an arts practice. Shedding all the burdensome occupations to pursue one’s craft is to only find yourself engaged in all the various other things necessary to allow for that to happen.
The artist may find themselves working even harder in every other kind of way outside of creating their art. However, if the artist can wake up each day and be glad to keep going, even through challenges and doubt, to maintain perseverance while managing their schedules, tasks and creative output, as well as a side job, then may that artist reach their intended definition of success. It is possible the art public will be better for it as well. Perhaps then, the arts could delight us to the highest while appealing and drawing out the best in us.
Once, I was out painting and someone came up and admired what I was doing. Then they said to me, “Man, I wish I could be an artist and just paint pictures all day”.
I made a quiet grin and wondered to myself what that would be like!
When I was young and it was time to shop for school supplies, I could not wait to get my box of crayons!
My first set was small and simple, just enough to be useful and fun. Later, the expanded sets were available. As I got older, it seemed more appropriate that I could handle the big boy box of a previously un-imaginable number of crayons. It was the exciting sixty-four set with a built-in sharpener in the box! I would arrive at school with my impressive mega-box of crayons and plant it proudly on top of my desk.
When it became time to use them, I would explore the arsenal of choices and linger over my decision of which one to use. There were my old friends. Red, blue, yellow, green, brown, black, even white! My new friends in the sixty-four cray-o-la mega-set were very exotic, like Periwinkle. What’s a Periwinkle?
Who has not rocked out to the rock n’ roll anthem, “Back in Black” by the group AC/DC? Perhaps you were in your car while stuck in traffic and you turned it up while it was on the radio. You may have been in your studio, playing air guitar in front of blank canvas.
If you were painting outdoors it is not likely that the song was running through your head. However, it would be very possible that black was certainly not on your palette!
Black is often considered to be a forbidden color for outdoor painting. Technically, black is not even considered a color! Since black is the absence of color, it is defined as neutral.
Without getting too technical, black is either the absence of color or the accumulation of all colors at once. That is a discussion that will be saved for later regarding additive and subtractive color mixing. For now, let us get back to the use (or non-use) of black as a pigment for painting.
If the question is ‘Can Art Create Community’ then the answer should be obvious. Art is intimately married to an innate human need to communicate. It can express and provoke thought. It gives us an ability to record events and tell stories. We can understand ourselves or even ponder the sacred. How has this been true and how has it changed?
As the pandemic continues, many of us find ourselves mapping out and navigating ourselves into a new way forward. We hear from medical and mental professionals about the mix of emotions and their effects this historic disruption has had on what we all knew as our stable way of doing things. Here are some resources to be artfully engaged during Covid-19. This is just a list of some available resources found and compiled here. Decide for yourself if they would helpful for you.
The good news is that we can certainly all understand how we all could possibly feel, which may be a little topsy-turvy. Still, one thing I have noticed are a couple things. One is our resiliency overall. We tend to go through several processes individually yet in the end we create slogans like “rise up” or “stand strong”. See links below for museums that have opened up online resources to view their collections.
I like to believe that means we all truly support each other and want the best for each other and ourselves in the pursuit of personal and societal happiness. I hope you are being well and know that we are all finding our way out of uncertainty by creating new things and inventing new ideas about work and life. The National Endowment for the Arts, (NEA) has an extensive list that might be useful for artists.
Another aspect is our tendency to open-up and share. Here are a few art related ways I found recently to stay in touch and stay involved.
During this time of isolation and being told to stay at home is seemingly an artist’s dream. Finally, I thought, a window of opportunity to keep creative without burdensome interruptions! Yet, my easel sits in our living room and I have yet to paint a thing!
Here at home, we are adjusting for new regimens. Each of us are having fun figuring out how to make two work lives happen at one kitchen table! We bumped into each other at first, but after a while, we adapted our routines.
We have eased ourselves with cooking and playing music. We reached way back and found those old cookbooks we rarely use and started on some adventures in the kitchen. I have picked up a guitar I haven’t played in a while and got re-acquainted with that old friend.
Quarantine Family Toolkit by Kristin Ramsey, ATR-BC, LPC, which offers suggestions and resources on how to talk with children about COVID-19, a sample daily schedule for working/learning at home, online apps, podcasts and other resources for daily activities, mindfulness activities and short guided muscle relaxation script, as well as many art activities instructions and examples.
Art Therapy Resource
The American Art Therapy Association is a great resource that may be useful. They have extensive materials, articles and suggestions regarding art and Covid-19.
American Art Therapy Association Resources for the Public
These are excerpts found on the American Art Therapy Association’s arttherapy.org website Covid-19 resources page.
Crisis Text Line if you need help, please text SHARE to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor
The Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to be connected to free and confidential support and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.
Resources for addressing COVID-19 — The National Council for Behavioral Health offers resources to help manage coronavirus-related anxiety and to communicate with your kids about this crisis among other topics. Behavioral health care workers will also find resources including telehealth best-practices and implications for certain vulnerable client groups.
#Coronart is a Facebook group for people to share personal renditions of the coronavirus. “Paint it, draw it, build it, carve it, knit it, grow it, sing it, play it. Anything you can imagine it. Let’s make this thing ours and share our vision!”
Keeping Art and Hope Alive
Maintain that spark of hope and inspiration now and always. The creative self tends to manifest joy, humor and levity. Creativity is beneficial and a little soul searching can often illuminate a better or brighter way forward.