Humble Beginnings by WIlson Bickford


Whenever someone finds out that you're an "artist," the first assumption is that you were "born with talent" and "came by it naturally." (and a hundred other comments which allude to the same idea). When it came to painting, I can assure you that I had no "gift" bestowed upon me.

Shown here is my first "serious" attempt at Oils more than 20 years ago.
At the time, I didn't think it was too bad, but I knew I had a very, very long way to go.

Art is a cumulative process. You'll learn the desired skills through study and practice. The more you invest, the greater the return (and the quicker that return will be).

At the time that I painted this, I had NO IDEA that one day, I would be a full-time artist, teacher and author of an instructional book. Painting literally led me down another road to a new career. I started out painting for my own enjoyment, not in search of a new "job."

I was told by friends and relatives to "keep your first painting so you can look back on it and see your progress." Boy, were they right! I am so glad that I've hung on to this all these years. Very often, I take this painting to my classes to encourage my students. We all have a good chuckle over it, but it definitely eases the anxiety in the room when they realize that they are no farther off the mark than I was, initially.

I've found that art boils down to these 4 essentials:
1. INSPIRATION - obtaining the desire to create
2. PERSPIRATION - putting in the hard work and study
3. DEDICATION - sticking with the “perspiration part” and not giving up
4. SATISFACTION - being confident in your abilities and level of work

From your initial attempt, you can only grow and improve. Don't be afraid to take that first step!

Preparing for Surtex - Website by Valerie (Valry) Drake


In my efforts to obtain an agent or a licensing contract, it is essential to have a web site and portfolio that correctly demonstrates my work. Since my day job is in the computer industry, I am fairly good with computer things. And since I am totally OC I tend to always want to do things MY way. Add to this the fact that I am not a high budget operation. Consequently, when I decided to have a website I did not even consider hiring a professional web design firm.

Just in case you are not familiar with having a web page, here are the pieces of the puzzle:

1. You need a domain name. This is the thing people type in to get to your page. Most people purchase their domain name from

2. You need a web hosting provider - this is someone who provides a server where your internet pages live. I have a wonderful provider based in Nashville, run by a real human being (also one of my facebook friends) John Covington. I pay a little more than some places but there are definite benefits.

3. You need a web site - the pages that people look at. They are created, just like any other computer document, one at a time in software designed for creating web pages. Actually, some word processing programs allow you to save as a web page. I use Adobe Dreamweaver CS3®. You can hire someone to create your web site. This is expensive and can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars and you also have to pay whenever you make changes to your web site. You can purchase a "template" and just fill in the blanks and many people are very satisfied with the results doing it this way. If you, like me, are OC, low budget and like doing things YOUR OWN WAY, just bite the bullet and buy the software. WARNING: This is the hardest software I have ever learned how to run, right up there even with CAD software.

Since I had an existing website, you might think I could just refer agents and manufacturers to it. Wrong! My web site has all sorts of stuff that is not at all relevant to the art I want to license. So I am also in the process of creating a licensing website: if you want to see it. Right now it is not complete. Just one more thing I am working on in my spare time.

Collecting Art by Deb Bartos

n addition to creating art, I have slowly and affordably collected art from other artists over the past 20 years. It has been a wonderful thing to do and every piece tells a story. I've collected work that is practical. These items include a hand-blown vase to hold my flowers, a welded sculpture to hold my keys, soap dishes to hold my soap, stained glass nightlights, jewelry and scarves, clothing to wear, you get the idea. It sneaks in everywhere. William Morris said "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." When I have been able to combine the two, it's even better.

I also have collected paintings, which seems redundant, as I am a painter, and have my own work stacked up all over my house as well as taking up most of my wall space. This has been the hardest to justify, however, the most enjoyable. I have collected 2-dimensional work from my travels as souvenirs and from other painters whose work I have known and admired. I enjoy my collector's wall every day. I remember the qualities I loved about the work when I bought it and years later, still do.

It is well said that beauty is consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. Beautiful art touches our souls. A quote from an art collector I recently read an article on is "the art on our walls is a mirror of our lives." This is true, in every private and corporate collection I have ever seen. If you purchase original art you love, it speaks about your taste as well as the artist. It affirms their talent and vision and allows them to continue painting. This is a wonderful thing to do. It allows art to continue and affirms that art matters. Thank you to my collectors. I appreciate you each and every one.

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