He's Going to be an Artist Since he got Laid Off by Valerie (Valry) Drake


A while back I was in Jerry's just looking to see if there was anything new that I couldn't live without and there was this guy looking at acrylic mediums and he looked kind of lost. So I sort of made friendly sounds and we started talking. Later I found out that he had been agonizing over his purchases for a couple of hours and the staff was sort of losing patience with him, which I understood after about a half hour of conversation.

He started by asking how to get rid of the bumps on the canvas. Bumps? Yeah, bumps, the roughness of the fabric weave. So I explained to him that we called that "tooth" and that you sort of didn't always want to “get rid” of it but that you could use a gel medium or any other textural medium. I also told him that he could consider a different support instead of canvas.

Then he asked about varnish so I told him about that.

Meanwhile, throughout all this, he was alluding to this fantastic painting he was going to paint and how he had this really great idea but he wasn't going to tell me his idea. I guess from the way he acted that he was afraid I would steal his idea and sell the painting for some outrageous fortune. I don't need his idea. I have more ideas than I have time to paint. Besides, one thing I've learned in all these years is that most ideas come to more than one person and even then different people have different ways of executing the idea. He ended up telling me his idea and I was not overwhelmed. Anyway, on with the story.

Then he asked about brushes and while we were talking about brushes he started acting nervous about how much money he was spending and asked what was the least he could buy and do his painting. About now I was beginning to be a little less patient but I'm still game so I told him that all he really needed was paint and a surface to paint on, he could apply paint with his fingers or a rag or a stick or almost anything and the surface could be an old cereal carton or a piece of old barn wood or a broken shovel or a million other surfaces – just clean it and prep it with Gesso and apply paint.

Finally we got to the part of the conversation that this blog entry is really about - the man confided to me that he had never painted before (I had kind of guessed this) but that he had been laid off and had this idea for a painting and had decided to do the painting and sell it and that way he might not even have to look for a new job. I did manage to keep a straight face. I did manage to keep my mouth from dropping open. However, this is also about the time I said a very polite and pleasant "good luck" and walked away.

So what's the point of this story? Well, if you read my previous blog you know that I strongly believe in respecting anyone who refers to themselves as an artist. Sometimes I have to work hard in order to do that but I try. But there is much to be said for "paying your dues." You know, the shows on TV make it look so easy: you just buy a canvas and copy the style of some major artist and, poof! you have a masterpiece. Yeah. Right. And how many times does someone look at the price of a painting and then acts like we are engaged in highway robbery? So the point of this story is that those of us who have invested years into learning how to produce art are entitled to receive value for that investment. I wish we also received the respect of society at large but I'm not sure that's the way the world turns right now. Anyway, enough of the soapbox for now. I'll keep painting and I hope you do also.

Single Mom Artists - The Power of Self Made Money by M Theresa Brown

Single mothers are everywhere. They are from every race, every religion and every nationality. They are so common that no one gives them a second thought. Single moms come from every financial strata. But their challenges are the same and their desire to nurture and protect their children are the same. The discrimination they face is the same.

Single mom artists face another series of challenges. The main challenge is how they can use their artistic skills to bring home additional money. What can you create to stretch that ridiculous child support check? How can you pay for luxuries when you can barely afford the necessities? How do you break out of this rut?

You do it with Self made money. When you, as an artist, decide to take control of your life, you are taking the first step in getting control of your finances. Self made money is power. It is the power to help yourself, your children and to make the right choices. It is the power to gain control over your situation and in doing so, provide a role model for your children. 

Self made money is also a key to avoiding bad relationships. It gives you, a single mom, the power to walk away or not get involved in the first place. Creating and marketing a tangible art product easily occupies late nights, early mornings and weekends and focuses your attention on what matters. And what matters is a good life for you and your children. Children adapt and adjust to new life situations far better than their adult counterparts. Single mom artists who enlist and encourage the help of their children in creating their art products form a bond that encourages the nurturing and healing process. It becomes a unified goal with benefits for everyone. Your children will welcome the chance to be a part of that goal and you are teaching them incredibly valuable life skills along the way.

As an artistic mom, you have a huge advantage over artists who hesitate in selling their art product. A single mother always needs money and any possible hesitation in creating or selling your art vanishes in your desire to improve the lives of you and your children. Gone is any hesitancy of wondering if you can do it, or what constitutes art or if you are talented enough. You don't care what other artists may think! If you can pick up a paintbrush or pull out a sewing machine, you can create to sell. And you can move smoothly into your new role because protecting and helping your children is a powerful motivator.

It's a fact, that need creates motivation and with motivation comes opportunities. The single mom artist has everything that many other artists do not have. You have the motivation, the need, the perseverance and the necessary dedication in abundance. You don't have the luxury of deciding that the effort of creating and marketing your art is not worth it. Giving up is not a choice when there are children involved. You are familiar with deadlines and juggling a number of hats. You can find an hour or two in each day to pursue your art or craft product and the marketing of it because finding and making time is your specialty. You can do this whether you hold down one job or two. Whether you have one child or five. Whether you get child support or no. You do not have the luxury of a convenient excuse for giving up.

Self made money with your art/craft product is power for the single mom artist. And when you have created and experienced that power, you will have the tools to climb out of the rut. And in doing so, the whole world for you and your children will change for the better.


What's YOUR Style? by Wilson Bickford

As an art instructor, I often hear the lament of students stating that, "I don't have a style," or "My work doesn't look like ME."
Though we've all heard it before, the old saying, Don't worry about finding your style, your style will find YOU, is very true.
In the beginning, most aspiring painters learn by copying. Let's face it,....... there's not one of us who can plead innocence on this. And that's okay.

We learn by doing and by seeing what other artists do to create their unique effects. I truly think this is the best approach when starting out.
However, you will eventually come to a place where you're ready to "solo" and you try those first few paintings all on your own from an idea that YOU conceived. Yes, this can certainly be frustrating, but how you work your way through those paintings is the basis of your "style." The decisions that you make are what make that painting your OWN and what puts your personal stamp on it. As you progress, you will rely on certain techniques and approaches which are comfortable for you and give you the desired result. Then, guess what? You will have a style; one to call your own.
That's not to say that you can't dabble in a few different variations of styles and genres. With enough experience, you will be able to work looser or tighter, depending on your desired result and your mood.
While I'm more of a "realist" than anything, there are times when I feel I want to loosen up a bit and be more impressionistic. That's when I put my brushes aside and get out my painting knives.
As an example, I have included two of my paintings to stress my point.
The Calla Lilies were obviously rendered with brushes in a more traditional manner, utilizing glazing, scumbling, etc. A rather slick interpretation.

The barn on the other hand was created solely with a couple of painting knives. Pretty much the total opposite of the spectrum from the flowers, isn't it?
To most viewers, I'm sure they would assume that it was two paintings by two different artists. Nope, just one guy with a couple of opposing approaches.
In the end, the question is,................ do we really need a specific style?
I don't think so. In fact, I think it's a bad idea to get pigeon-holed into being anything predictable.
Yes, there are those who will disagree and say that your buying customers want to purchase the work that you're "known for."
The bottom line is that you should paint for yourself first. Just don't be afraid to mix things up once in a while.
Do it with conviction, do it with enthusiasm and do it with style!!
Once your style (or styles) has found you, your audience will follow.

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