Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Online Support

The internet has changed the way we live and process events, it has changed the way we are educated and are able to develop personal relationships. From online support groups dealing with terrible tragedy... to art education, to personal shopping ... the world is at our fingertips.

Last week I joined another Facebook group geared specifically toward critiques. Usually I just read selective topics and take it all in, rarely posting. As many of you know, my struggle with abstract vs. representational art continues and I decided to post about my personal struggles in the critique group.

 Here is the condensed version of my post:
"Truth be told, I seem unable to create art without connecting landscape into everything I do. I started a series of abstract paintings this summer, but keep falling back into the small representational works.
So I struggle, do I push toward abstract, do I do both? or am I better off sticking to the small, salable, easy to relate to representational works? Is encaustic art suppose to be abstract? All feedback welcome."

I received such wonderful responses but the three that stuck out most in my mind were from three artists I have actually met.

Rodney Thompson -
"'So I struggle, do I push toward abstract, do I do both? or am I better off sticking to the small, salable, easy to relate to representational works'...which one thrills you, delights you, intrigues you, makes you most happy to see your finished work
Rodney's art blows me away, his connection with spirituality and earth is like no one else.

Laura Moriarty -
"It sounds to me like you are rushing the process of finding an authentic voice in order to put your work in the marketplace. Ultimately the direction of your work must be determined by you, not others. I think it's best to be clear about what you are doing before you start marketing it. For now, it may be best for you to sell the work you understand, while you continue to develop the complexity. Slow down, and let the new body of work build. Take your audience along for the ride in a way that helps them understand the twists and turns in the road. You do that really well with your blog, btw. But don't sell work until you have a chance to get really comfortable with it.

Laura's art takes encaustic into a deeper, more physical view of geographic wonder.

Hylla Evans -
"Robin, you do know some of us. Don't let lack of confidence into your studio. Paint, paint, paint. Save the second guessing for later editing what you want to show. Chill and paint.
 Landscape seems always to be referenced when an abstract is grounded in horizontal lines. That isn't a bad thing. You can sell them both. Don't think about finding an audience while you're painting. Save those decisions for afterward.
Hylla taught a color mixing workshop that I attended several years ago as well as a talk about artistic copyright. Her encaustic paints are rich and lush and remind me most of the Holbein paints I use in watercolor.

There were many more responses, but what a wonderful place for professional (and personal) support.
Next month I look forward to following my heart and seeing where the paints take me.

I continue to sell small representational works. I add my signature using a custom made chop, a translation of my name in Chinese. After several years of trying to always stamp work in just the right spot I decided to order a new chop using a circular design. 4 different characters that translate my name both phonetically and literally make up the chop. I used the same company that I discovered online when ordering the first chop, and once again I embraced the ease and accessibility of online resources.

As easy as using the internet is, nothing replaces human touch and the need for a hug.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Lupines at Sunset

"Lupines at Sunset", triptych

I had a project take on a life of its own this week. What started as a simple request for two small paintings that paired together ended with a week of painting new work and a framed triptych. I had the frame in my possession before I even started this project and it just made sense that three of the new works hang together even though they were painted separately. The truth is, in the back of my mind I had been thinking these would make a much stronger impression if they were shown together. The idea of painting small works grouped together in a single frame could be something I pursue further, it's got me excited. I had done it once before after my visit to Cape Cod this summer -

My only concern was that the ready made shadowbox frame did not show off the small works enough, even though I floated each painting with 2 layers of foam core. I did not want the frame to distract from the dimensionality of the work. Creating textures and etching into the wax, for me, is the most exciting element in these encaustic paintings.

Below are two other lupine paintings from this week, framed separately... although these would also work well together in a single diptych frame. Finding ready made diptych and triptych frames will be more challenging than painting the actual work.

Looks like I will be ending the year with new ideas for new projects, that's never a bad thing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Commissions and Creativity

Last night I received an email from an art patron who had seen my work in a holiday small works show. He asked me if I had another lupine painting that would be a similar match with one of my pieces in the show, he was thinking of purchasing a pair as a holiday gift. My December plan had been to take a short break from painting new work but his email request had me back in the zone and I spent the day painting.

"Lupine Sunset"


Both of these paintings are new versions of similarly painted small works, each is 2.5 x 3.5, and will be floated on 6 x 6 watercolor paper with foam core, then signed with my chop stamp signature and placed in a 10 x 10 black frame. I decided that even if this patron is not interested in these new works they are still very salable ($105 framed). This leads me into my next thought...

Making salable art vs. making art that pushes personal boundaries.

Over the summer when I attended an encaustic workshop taught by Laura Moriarty, I focused on pushing myself into learning more abstract encaustic techniques. I discussed with the other artists in the workshop how I had always been able to sell the safer, more traditional landscape paintings but that my heart wanted to explore outside of my comfort zone. At that time, I made a conscious decision to continue to create these small landscapes because of their salability but that I would also pursue a more abstract art form (Outback Series) using newly learned encaustic techniques.

I am just now starting to show the abstracts I created since July, the jury is still out on the success and acceptance of these new works. I may add some smaller abstract pieces to my Etsy shop, soon.

What do you think, is it better to make more salable main stream art? or is pushing boundaries, exploring new art forms, (and possibly failing), a more professional direction? I ask myself this question all the time and still don't have the answer.