The Struggle

Most artists struggle. Either they can’t seem to get down their vision of what they want or they don’t know what they want, (they’ll know it, if they see it). I think this struggle is part of the process. Its too bad because of this constant push/ pull it sometimes seems not to be worth the effort. Its why some people give up doing their art. Also, I see people giving up their art because they don’t have enough buyers. Buyers equate “good artist”. No buyers (not counting family and friends) means not a good artist. This definitely is not the case.

We live in an age when people will buy a Persian rug for their dining area, cover their sofa in silks, and import tiles from Italy to decorate their home tastefully and expensively, yet these same people will have pictures of art rather original art on every wall in their house. They will pay more for a custom frame and mat then for an original piece of art. Go into any model home these days, same thing, prints everywhere. (Please, I have nothing against prints.. so don’t write me justifying your print purchases) Most from 18th and 19th century artists. I guess they feel pretty good or safe rather, that this art cannot be denied as good art. It has stood the test of time. The truth is… I think people don’t trust their own judgement when it comes to choosing art. They need someone to tell them what is good art. All they have to do is trust their inner voice that says “I love this” but they don’t trust that little voice so they listen to experts…But who? do you trust Gallery owners? Especially when they are getting 50% of the profits? Do you trust your own decorator who is going to choose a piece of art because it matches a sofa? You have to admit, even I may not pay some of the high prices for some art, especially when it appears to have been painted with a stick or a rag. People don’t like to be taken advantage of and they don’t like to admit they don’t “know” art. The other problem is a simple one, people don’t appreciate original art in the US as much as in many other cultures around the globe. Now as in the past, Art was OK as long as it was something to do as a hobby but not as a career. It isn’t real work. We have a very strong work ethic in this county and some parents often put creativity in the back seat while encouraging productive hard work, left brain thinking.

So, if we don’t buy original art and we encourage our kids to do anything but become artists, and we don’t support the arts in schools what we are we saying?

Its no wonder today’s artists may feel as though it isn’t worth the effort, that the struggle to produce good art is just that, a struggle. As an artist I’ll remind you, of a few important things.

1. Its takes a very long time to become proficient at something as complex as art.
In fact, if it were easy, would you still even want to do it?

2. Don’t take the advice from lay people. They won’t help you, even if they have good intentions.

3. Be a lifelong student, don’t plan to figure it all out right now. It really is about the journey not the destination. Its a journey for one, just you.

4. Do whatever you enjoy doing, even if no one buys it. Hey, its cheaper than therapy.

Studio Tour

4-by-6-online.jpg Here I am sitting for a minute before I start the painting…..probably wondering what will I paint next. Often, I plan, plan plan, but once I start, I usually forget the plan and just let the painting decide what it wants to be.

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 Here are some small pieces of paper waiting for me to just get a few minutes to start a painting.    I think I was gessoing these .. I usually do the priming in an assembly line  because it can get messy. 

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I don’t like to store all of my seldom used items in my painting area preferring to keep it tidy. Especially since My painting area is small.
Behind all these completed paintings are several things, a big box of mat board, slides, a light box and related equipment ( some things I can’t seem to throw out even though I haven’t used them in years) and framing supplies. Also framed bios which are ready to be hung with my photo for outdoor festivals or street shows.

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I have a small TV in my work area that I can watch. Often I will watch DVDs or videos of other artist’s painting or giving instruction. Its a good way to learn and its very easy to trade DVDs or videos with other artists so you can always have something new to see and possibly learn a new trick of the trade.

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This is a walk in closet that I keep most of my frames and also larger framed paintings.   Many of these paintings are stored here after being in a show or in a gallery.   As you can see…  I also store my Bike here to keep it dry and clean.

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Here is a sneak peek at many of my small paintings just waiting for someone like you to buy.  They are stored flat and by size. I have four big drawers full of Daily painting.

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This is my little area that I use to pretty much do everything from painting to shipping.  The green cabinet straight ahead is of course my flat files with all of my stored paper which I buy in bulk, all of my customer information and my daily paintings, also many larger works and drawings.  I got this flat file at a newspaper that I used to work for because as most of you know newspapers now use computers. Of course I’m old enough to remember when back in the day they did something called “cut and paste ” these files were used to store all of their materials for this job.  These flat files became obsolete and if your lucky, you’ll get one for next to nothing from your local paper. These large files are sold for $500.00 in most artist’s catalogs.   On top of the flat files is my mat cutter ( I highly recommend the Logan 650) but from this distance you can’t see it very well… also along the sides of the flat file are stored all types of supports and foam core.  My router is on top of the flat file and my computer is across the room on a small table I use to package the paintings and get them ready to ship out.

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This  large cabinet is full of art books, sketch books,  video tapes  and DVDs of art instruction and art history books.  I really love these books and go thru them on a regular basis.  

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This is a photo of my daily painting table with my dog SAM lying underneath.  I have three large dogs and there is always one under the table as I’m painting.  
If you go to watch my video on Utube this part of the video is bascically black because it’s evening and a black dog in the dark is a dumb thing to video unless of course he opens his eyes.

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This is a table I use for pressing the daily paintings. I also do most of my own framing and matting for the watercolor paintings.  I will usually send out larger works for shows but most smaller paintings I’m comfortable with matting and framing myself if I have time. The square item at the-top right is what I use to flatten out the small paintings. I place the painting right side down in between paper towels inside the little press. Then I use books or heavy objects to keep it weighed down till it drys.. the final result is a perfectly flat painting, ready to mat. All you need are two boards connected with a hinge. This was my brother’s idea, I used to just put a lot of books on top of the paintings which were placed inside of paper towels.chubbs.jpg

My cat is my best critic… she watches  and comments..  Everyone’s got an opinion!

I had a plan to up load a video with music or some fancy editing but as luck would have it no time… so if you would like to see my work space you can go to YOU TUBE and I uploaded a soundless video of my painting space you can look for it by going to youtube.com and putting in “Shantiartist” and my studio tour should come up. I was really under the gun today so I didn’t have time to really put much together. I hope you have enjoyed this slice of my life and a view of my work area. 

 HERE IS MY PAINTING FOR TODAY….  DID YOU THINK I WOULD FORGET?
<a koi piggyback 2

what is art?

I laughed out loud when I watched this… Thanks to David Darrow for pointing out this utube video. They have them on other topics too. I’ll never be able to sit with artists and discuss art again without thinking about the dog and his prints.

Vote for me….

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI have submitted one of my paintings of Koi to the Saachi Gallery showdown. If you would like to see my work and vote for me, I would really love it! http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/showdown/index.php?showpic=24648

Baby Raccoon cries out for help

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This is how he looked when I found him, he can barely walk more like crawl but he’s a survivor, he must of crawled a ways cause we couln’t find a nest nearby or hear any of the other babies. I’m shooting this photo straight down from my height which is 5’2″ and he is very small just a ball of fluff.

I cropped the pohto a bit so you could see him better. I think he is actually falling over at the moment I snapped this photo, he was pretty weak.

Good Luck Baby Raccoon

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Here is a picture of a baby raccoon we found this week. I have raised a raccoon before and I knew that this one was in a bit of trouble, its mom must have been killed because she would not have left him to fend for himself. It appeared that he was on his own for a few days. He was badly dehydrated and already covered in ticks. I figured he was about four weeks old. I gave him some kitten’s replacement milk cleaned him up and took him in to a raccoon rehabilitation expert. She will feed him with a bottle till he’s old enough to eat dog food, then she’ll take him and all the others that she has within the same age group and train them to live in the wild. At about 16 weeks they will be ready to go on their own, she has 900 acres, where she sets them free. The last time I raised a racoon it was so much work, I knew I couldn’t do it at this time. I was pretty exhusted at the end of the time and the raccoon expert took over at about 12 weeks.
Since this little guy was having some problems I knew she would have to give it some shots. I hope he makes it! I’ve painted many paintings of raccons which I find interesting animals. They have very stiff fur unlike a cats or a dog. Also they all look different. When you see all of the babies together you realize they are not all the same. Some have brown fur some have more of a sable color and some like this one are almost gray. They all have the bandit face but some have a very pointed nose and others have a rounded nose.