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.


  1. Very interesting post, Robin, it has answered many of my questions as well.. the direction and path becomes more and more clear if we learn to let go of the expectation I think.. btw lovely stamp you got!

  2. Well, Robin...I'm glad you can connect with those who have good advice and words of comfort. It always works well for me.

  3. padmaja, you are a wonderful example of someone finding direction and a path then reflecting it in art and I appreciate your perspective. What a wonderful teacher you are.

    Sherry the support is great but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad and in this case I was lucky there was only constructive criticism.

  4. First, you get points for coming up with a round chop. I was working on Christmas cards today and always try to square the stamp with the envelope--now I think the Post Office should offer round stamps.

    Your questions are great. I pretty much accept that I'll die without answers--maybe questioning keeps us moving. (And I'll always look for something recognizable in abstracts--can't help it--probably spent too much time looking for objects in Highlights, the kid's magazine.)

    I know nothing about groups on Facebook, but sounds like you found a winner.

  5. I also think movement and progress in art development is key to success, Hallie. The abstracts I have been working on definitely have recognizable elements, maybe I am not really painting abstracts. Facebook works for me if I take it with a grain of salt but every now and then I really embrace the ease in which I can learn from others.

  6. I love this post Robin! The feedback you received is so well thought out and constructed and sounds like exactly what you needed to hear. Thank you for the links to these artists- I'll check them out.

    Asking for feedback online is a 'grain of salt' proposition, such as you've alluded to, and I've had some very mixed experiences myself.

  7. Oh- and I love both of your signature chops! What a great idea!!!

  8. Pam, I feel fortunate that the art groups I have found on Facebook are filled with knowledgeable people that are actually willing to help one another, and then I always feel compelled to share the positive feedback on Facebook here in my blog. I can't wait to start using the new chop, as soon as I am back making new art next week. There is a softer feel to the round shape.