Just for the Satisfaction

October 15th, 2016

Have you ever donated your time or work? You probably have, and if so, you will understand why I sometimes do, too.

On October 21, the Tampa Museum of Art will be hosting their 5th annual Five-by-Five Art Exhibition, presented by the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.  It will be open only from 8-11PM.  All artwork (limited to 5”x5”) is donated and exhibited anonymously, to be sold for $25 each.  And yes, the show will include two of my floral paintings—one in watercolor, one in oil, though I am not allowed to reveal which ones.  (Sorry to disappoint you:  “Angel’s Trumpet,” below, is not one of those included, though it is indicative of my style.)

Angel's Trumpet (#130405w), 3"x5" watercolor

Angel’s Trumpet (#130405w), 3″x5″ watercolor

A roster of participating artists and a preview of works available for sale during the event will be posted on FivebyFiveTampaBay.com before the event. The evening will also include live performances in a variety of disciplines.

Why might an artist choose to donate paintings anonymously that she could sell under her own signature to increase her name recognition?

For any of several reasons.

One is the satisfaction of sharing her work with buyers who appreciate it for what it is rather than buying on the basis of her name.  (Artists’ names will be revealed only after the artwork is purchased.)

Another is the satisfaction of supporting others’ artistic endeavors through sales—in this case, the Arts Council of Hillsborough County (Florida), to help underwrite workshops and grants.  $10 admission fees will also help support the Tampa Museum of Art.

I have frequently benefited from the generosity of others; I like being able to take the opportunity to give back.  If you’re in the Tampa area on Friday, October 21, I hope you’ll stop by the Tampa Museum of Art to peruse the variety of works available.

For the Love of Art

October 1st, 2016

In the past several weeks I’ve been exploring the question of “success.”  What do I really want?  What is my ultimate purpose?  I’ve repeatedly been advised to discover my own definition of success rather than accepting the assumption that it’s the same as other artists’.  I was surprised, as I dug deeper, to realize that my definition of success includes a sense of joy and satisfaction that has little to do with sales or financial gain.

Certainly sales and income are both inducements to continue and a means to support my pursuit of painting.  But I find greater joy and satisfaction in teaching, mentoring, and sharing my love of art and understanding of artistic principles with others who want to learn.

I enjoy teaching others painting skills and artistic appreciation.  Totally aside from my own drive to continually improve, the act of teaching motivates me to continue striving to hone my skills and to achieve greater understanding of artistic principles.

This blog and my monthly newsletter also provide outreach arms to those of you with whom I may have no other personal contact.  They also remind me to work regularly enough to identify and develop topics of potential interest to my readers.  (Though if any of you would like to suggest a topic, I’m open to that, as well.)

Teaching in-person classes helps me to establish clear goals not only for student learning but also for my own studies, since it requires that I stay well ahead of most of my students and at the very least remain on a conversant par with the most advanced of them.  By providing deadlines of scheduled class meeting times during “high season” in our largely seasonal community, teaching also ensures that I work consistently without slacking off, even when I may be tempted to postpone studio work to socialize in other ways.  Despite spending so much time in my studio, by teaching I also have the opportunity to get to know artistically inclined neighbors, both old and new, with whom I might not otherwise have crossed paths.

So, to me, success means finding joy and satisfaction in teaching, mentoring, and encouraging other artists while continuing to improve my own skills.  Pricing of both my classes and my artwork is more to establish a sense of value and respect for myself and my art than to earn an income.

Do you find this surprising?  Fair or not, the value of both art and services are usually perceived by the general public on a financial basis.  Students who do not need to pay for classes tend to attend class irregularly, granting higher priority to other interests and momentary whims, whereas those who have paid for classes are more inclined to attend regularly, apply themselves more assiduously, and express greater respect and attention to the instructor and the course content.

Similarly, artwork that is given or sold at unrealistically low prices garners less respect or appreciation than work that has been priced to reflect the artist’s skill level in comparison to that of other artists of similar experience or achievement.  So sales both help to cover incurred expenses and provide positive assurance to others of the intrinsic value of my artwork, while helping to establish my credentials for potential students.

Of course I like to be paid for my work.  Who wouldn’t welcome this kind of positive feedback and encouragement?  Sales that support my work are lovely, but they are only a secondary goal.  My sense of real success is much more closely related to my pleasure in helping others find satisfaction in their own art, as I have found satisfaction in mine.

Inventory Issues

September 15th, 2016

Last month I needed to replace my computer.  You know what that involves:  not only relearning the upgraded operating system and all its “wonderful” new whistles and bells and figuring out how to find and reconfigure everything to suit my taste, but either moving or replacing all those important programs (oh excuse me; they’re called “apps” now!) that we rely on so much for all our everyday tasks.  Oh yes, and migrating all our indispensable files to the new machine.  If we’re lucky it takes only a few days out of our lives to make the transition.  If things don’t go so smoothly, … well, we won’t go there.

One of the important programs I needed to migrate over was my art inventory.  No, I don’t keep it on a spreadsheet, though I’m beginning to see the advantage of using one.  Instead, I’m using an old program called Art Tracker, for which I never had adequate documentation and for which support is no longer available.  It’s okay for basic inventory, and over the past six years I’ve learned to use it sufficiently if not entirely efficiently.

The immediate problem the transition raised was that the art images are not embedded but are linked to their location elsewhere on the computer.  And when the pathways to those locations change, the links get broken.  Needless to say, changing computers changed the pathways.  So I’ve had to relink images for my entire art inventory (many, many years’ worth), one by one.  Despite having my images well organized, reestablishing the linkage has taken hours to complete.

I’m now convinced that I need to upgrade my inventory software before changing computers again.  But what can I upgrade it to?

I’m not comfortable with working in a spreadsheet format, and am not sure how to develop one specifically for my art inventory needs, but I may eventually resort to that as an alternative.  Of the dedicated inventory programs I researched, none seems to offer the features I want for what I’m willing to pay.  (Sure, freeware would be nice, but I can’t realistically expect that.)  There are some cloud and on-line possibilities, but I’d prefer to have the program directly on my computer so I can access it and make quick changes or additions without having to depend on Internet access.  And it needs to be geared specifically for an artist’s inventory to include images and applicable information in an easy-to-use-and-search format.

If you know of such a program, please let me know!  Also, please indicate whether you have actually used it, and what you consider its pros and cons.  I would appreciate any suggestions.

Why do I paint?

September 1st, 2016

The subject of this blog is the simple and basic question, “Why do I paint at all?”

From an academic standpoint, sometimes the reason I paint is as simple as satisfying my own drive to address a challenging subject in a way that will effectively express my feelings about it.   Other times, I may repeat a subject to explore it from different perspectives, in different seasons or lighting conditions, or in different mediums.  I may work alongside other artists, either in person or online, to compare our approaches to the same general subject matter.  Sometimes it’s to play and experiment with new materials, a different technique, or to push myself to the next level.  And sometimes it’s to create an illustration for the purpose of teaching others.

In Class - quick sketch (#160103-w)

In Class – quick sketch (#160103-w)

After all, why do we undertake the study of any special interest?  Primarily because it does interest us and fulfills our desire to continue learning, testing and improving our understanding and skills, whether it’s painting, music, mathematics, or a sport.  Because simply doing it brings us satisfaction even as we strive for an ever-elusive “next level” of competence.

So why do I paint?  Because I want to!  It’s fun.  It gives me pleasure and satisfaction.  And it makes me observe my environment more closely than I ever did before.

Subject Selection

August 15th, 2016

The question for today’s blog poses an even more challenging exploration than the question of medium, discussed in my previous entry.

Why do I select the subject matter I do?   And how does that relate to who I am?  The truth is that I am drawn to such a wide variety of subject matter that it’s difficult to find the commonalities that will help me answer that question.

My personality is such that I like people to get to the point.  So I try to get to the point, myself.  And it holds true for painting, too, which is probably why my work tends to retain a certain degree of realism, concentrating on the focal area and merely suggesting, to varying degrees, the supporting information.  Fun and innovation are fine, but I try to be as considerate of my viewers as I want others to be of me, incorporating fun that my viewers can relate to and enjoy along with me.

What interests me in a subject?  I’m drawn to subjects that allude to universality more than specifics and that trigger the viewer’s imagination.  I like to use landscapes that, though usually of real places from my own life experience, may suggest similar locales from the viewer’s personal or vicarious experiences—allowing an armchair traveler, for instance, to liken it to something he or she has read about, even if not having experienced something similar in person.

Winter Point (#160711-o)

Winter Point (#160711-o)

I like to depict a sense of timelessness or indications of passing time more than modernity.  Graceful, organic lines appeal to me more than architectural angularity.

When considering light, I look for translucence, side-lit and back-lit subjects, or a glow of color that enlivens an otherwise unexceptional subject.   And I like the “language” and added dimensionality of reflections.

Gulf Beach (#150206-w)

Gulf Beach (#150206-w)

When my subjects are people or animals, I look for the gesture—a sense of action or dynamic tension that suggests the figure’s unique identity, what the subject is doing, or something about the subject’s character or personality.  In faces, I look for something interesting or characteristic in proportions, features, or expression that will help to define the subject for the viewer—more than the eye alone might normally notice.

Bailey (#081201-w)

Bailey (#081201-w)

To me, these things are beautiful and worth drawing attention to, and I want to express their value for my viewers’ consideration and appreciation.