Wednesday, January 27, 2021

When Your Day Goes Boom

 My sweet studio mascot, Maple.

I recently joined The Artist Initiative, a group of artists who are working together to improve their businesses and reach individual professional goals. We did many virtual workshops together in mid-January to plan out the months ahead and to take charge of our schedules for 2021. When you're self-employed, there's a beautiful freedom to each day. But it can come with the pitfalls of procrastination and poor time management if one is not careful. 

With the pandemic still a major damper on my plans for outdoor art shows, I found the planning sessions to be really valuable. While I've generally managed to accomplish what I need to do for the past 15+ years of being in business for myself, there's always room for improvement and greater focus on my career goals. 

Yet even the best laid plans for a schedule can go "kablooey," such as today when our elderly dog slipped and fell down the small trio of steps that we have from our bed (yes, our 70lb dog sleeps with us). When she couldn't bear weight on her front leg where she has dysplasia, we immediately took her to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital and then anxiously awaited the results of her exam and X-rays.

Luckily, she did not fracture the area where she has dysplasia and she is back home with us as I write this in the mid-afternoon. But my husband and I are now both pretty emotionally exhausted, especially since we're still haunted by the loss of our other dog almost exactly one year ago. I love my studio mascot and I'm happy to have her back home and on the mend. I'll get back on the beam tomorrow with my meticulously planned schedule, but for today I'm just breathing a big sigh of relief.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Back to Black (and white)

The Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia
as viewed from a spectacular urban rooftop garden


I'm listening to AC / DC’s hit "Back in Black" as I write this because it's the perfect theme song for what I’m working on right now. During these winter months when I'm not exhibiting at outdoor art shows (and especially during a time of pandemic), I use this quieter time to work on custom painting commissions for clients.


Among a few projects that I have in process right now is a custom cityscape painting that will feature the Center City skyline of downtown Philadelphia. There are many factors to consider in a subject so complex, everything from light and atmosphere to the details of the architecture. To keep an idea like this from becoming overwhelming, I go back to basics and go "back to black." Gosh, it's almost a perfect title to pair with AC / DC, right? 


An alternative perspective of the subject  
What I mean by this is that I strip down the idea to graphite renderings in my sketchbook to work out the composition and approach. This is just a first building block. In the coming weeks, I’ll do a couple of small scale color studies for my client to review. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and these first practice runs at an idea allow me to communicate what I’m thinking to my client and also help him offer his thoughts and ideas during the process. 


There’s nothing wrong with going "back to black" to create a full-color painting!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Real Artists Ship


Plein air painting in progress

My plein air field easel with a Pennsylvania landscape in progress

"Real artists ship."

This quote, attributed to the founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs, is one of my guiding principles in my art studio practice. Real artists don't tinker, they deliver. Real artists don't nibble around the edges, they get things done.

This new year of 2021 has me reflecting a lot on what values and goals I want to emphasize in my art. In normal, non-pandemic times, I embraced this mantra of "shipping" while juggling the demands of outdoor art shows, commissions, and regional exhibition opportunities. Whether it was dealing with long distance travel, inclement weather, or unpredictable socioeconomic events (I distinctly recall doing an art show in New York State right after the venerable Lehman Brothers brokerage house shuttered), this principle of "just get it done" has guided me through a lot of static during my artistic career. 

During the peak demands of my summer and fall art show seasons, a beautiful, sunny day was not an occasion to knock back and relax. No, it was an opportunity to go to a nearby park and do some plein air landscape painting. And although I sometimes wanted nothing more than to launch an uncooperative cityscape painting out of my studio window in a fit of pique, I persevered until the late hours and then got back up again at 3am the next morning to finish it to my satisfaction so that it could be dry and ready to display for my next art show that month. 

"Real artists ship."

But as we enter 2021, I'm waiting on the sidelines for a vaccine before I believe I can safely travel to my favorite outdoor art shows. For a variety of reasons, it may be a while before I can receive this masterpiece of modern science.

So, my plan to start 2021 and for the foreseeable future will be to continue to share my new paintings with you online through virtual events and private Zoom showings. I'm also going to temporarily set aside this mantra of "shipping" and take a deep dive into some bigger paintings. While the hamster wheel of my usual schedule is still, I now have the time to explore some ideas that I've had sitting around for years because I was so busy "shipping." This downtime can be a blessing, and I'll do my best to share some different ideas with you in 2021.

I look forward to the opportunity to share these larger scale paintings with you. In the meantime, I wish all of you good health, safety, and happiness in this New Year.