Tag Archives: Oil on canvas

Know your audience…Charlie Brown v. Martha Stewart

I was asked to help with the holiday tradition of “getting the Tree” by two very dear friends of mine.  Both reside in restored Connecticut properties.  One is a good ol’ barn and the other is a circa 1700 cider mill.

Walking through the threshold of the cocoon-like barn, Scotty beams you to a Scotty-Star Trekdeep-forest campsite in Montana.  It’s mood changing.  Complete decompression.   The first step in forces your diaphragm to expand and contract and your shoulders drop. You don’t want to leave.  You almost can’t.

The Mill seduces you.  As you descend down the tree-lined driveway, your searching eyes find evidence of a nestled rooftop within a chiseled stone wall.  A moat of playful plant life greets you with a wave of country garden scents of lavender and roses.  America’s board room, the kitchen, where Second base in viewlaughter sometimes meets tears is already at second base.  Soft lighting mysteriously glows to balance the cool marble tops with the wide-planked floors.  You’re naturally drawn around third to enter the living area by a small opening pulling you in to meet low hanging, dark hand-planed beams lit by a soft green hue projected from an arena of windows.

Now, both love gardening and cooking, are green-minded organic and chat up an auctioneer paced wild prattle. Demographically, pigeonholed…..but…..

“Barn” Tree
Barn Tree
Hunting ground: Large brush pile.
Species: Needleless, gnarly, bleached 8’ aged cedar.
Lighting: Trunk wrapped multi-color with neon white shell.
Décor: None.
Location: Outside-fire pit.

“Mill” Tree
Mill Tree
Hunting ground: “Destination” tree farm.
Species: White Pine-postcard.
Lighting: Soft white.
Décor: Popcorn/cranberry string, local hand-crafted ornaments.
Location: Inside, left field.

Every time I ask these same three questions (below­-to more than 50 artists), I’m reminded of one of my personal, constitutional doctrines of life…know your audience.   And as seemingly predictable the answer to the question of “your first art piece sale” would be, there is a continued diversity of answers ranging from “I practically had a f#c&ing  heart attack” to “I never thought about my first sale”.

A marketing strategist might feel comfortable putting an “artist” in a box…a tight niche.    But we’re all as unique as our thumbprint.

Paul ShampineCheck out these thumbprints….
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

Renee Prisble, Chicago, IL
Renee Prisble

When did you first discover your creative talents? My creative talents were never discovered, they’ve been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories from before I began “real” school was an art class dilemma. I’d made a pinch pot at workshop at our local art center and I was given the opportunity to fire it if I wanted. I remember clutching the four quarters my mom gave me to pay for this extra step as I listened to the instructor explain to me the possible risks of the object exploding in the kiln. The funny thing about this story is that I don’t remember what I decided.  I was fortunate that my mom was also an artist and she very much spoiled me with extra courses and all the supplies I could ever desire.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  Selling work hasn’t been a big part of my practice since much of my work has been installation based. I once sold a piece of jewelry I designed, cast, formed and fabricated for $300. I immediately regretted it. But for the most part I enjoy selling work now because I like that it has a life of its own and that someone likes it enough to exchange money for it. I make so much work now, that the sentimentality of that first sale doesn’t occur anymore.

Who are your favorite artists?  My favorite artists are Janine Antoine, Doris Salcedo, Anthony Gormley, Ernst Haeckel, Lucy Lewis, to name a few from the top of my head.

Artist: Renee Prisble
Title: Thunder Cell Pods
Medium: Bronze
Dimensions: 6” Diameter
Website: http://reneeprisble.com

Blanche Serban, Storrs, CT
Blanche Serban
When did you first discover your creative talents? Being creative is part of being human. We are all creative, at any age. We are creative in what we make with our hands and with our minds. But we are also creative in the way we look at the world, in the way we perceive and assemble and “bend” in our mind the reality around us. We are creative in the way we relate and communicate with one another. Artists are people who value creativity to a high degree. As my daughter keenly noticed: “We always improvise.”  It is a great joy to try new things, to invent new things for oneself, to push this unbelievable body that can think, feel, sense, imagine to get a new experience of this reality. I guess I never discovered my creative talents – they have always been with me, just as they are with all people. I take great pleasure in making art, I can spend all my hours working, and it feels like a party.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  I have never thought about my first sale. Let me see. My father was my first client. It was a Sunday afternoon, in Bucharest, Romania. I was about 10-years old and very opinionated. I was drawing as I often did, and my father stopped to watch me. He said that I should draw something more classical, like the subject of an oil hanging on the wall across from me. I challenged him. “Do you think that painting is so good?”. It showed a blue lake where a woman was washing linens. In the background was a village spread under fall trees. “Can you do it?” he asked me. So, I drew the image in pencil. My father was very pleased, and he bought it from me for the equivalent of $100. I remember seeing the money in a drawer of my table for a long time. Then I sold drawings and paintings to friends of my friends while I was in school. Each painting that I sell acts like a marketing agent, because so many contacts of the new owner see the work. And the more people see the work, the better. The more paintings I sell, the more I paint, and this works great for me. Of course, I do have some paintings that I will not sell, like the cityscape that I painted after my first child was born. I was very busy with the baby and very tired, and I worked at this canvas every day for three months to complete it. I remember how much I enjoyed painting it, even though some days I had only a couple of minutes free to paint.

Who are your favorite artists?  I love Vermeer‘s paintings.  They are like polished gems, perfect worlds. If you look at them this way, you might notice that some do not match – and it is hard not to wonder if there are still some fake Vermeer’s hanging in museums… I love Rembrandt’s portraits, he is a magician. Look closely and the brushwork is simple, ascetic, spontaneous. Step back and it comes alive. I love Matisse for his color and craft. I enjoy Gerhard Richter‘s technique and breath, and Wolf Kahn‘s colors. I enjoy children’s art … I obsess with Marc Mellits‘ music, and contemporary Japanese pottery…There is no way to make a good list of favorite artists… There are many artists whom I admire, and they are unknowingly my teachers.

Artist: Blanche Serban
Title: Place de la Marie, Aix-en-Provence
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 30x24x1.5 inches
Website: http://www.serban-art.com

Jan Geoghegan, Tolland, CT
Jan Geoghegan
When did you first discover your creative talents?  “Artistic talent” is hard to define so I can’t know if I have it any more or less than anyone else does.  I do know that whether I have “it” or not,  I have a persistent need to create.  When people remark that I am talented, they usually mean it as a sincere compliment.. but it  could also be a polite way to avoid saying anything negative about my artwork. It’s not something I dwell on.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.  When I began painting in my 30’s, I sold most of what I produced and felt a personal need to break even with the cost of art supplies and framing.  I painted in oils and watercolor; house portraits, landscapes and local scenes. When I began experimenting, my work changed and appealed less to the general public as it garnered recognition via juried shows and gallery representation. My work restoring oil paintings helped to balance the books.  I  recall showing one of my newer paintings to my father.  He commented gently,”You used to paint so well, dear.”  So although I have always been encouraged and appreciative of sales, it’s especiallgratifying when I sell my recent work.

Who are your favorite artists?  Paul Klee is among the artists who hold my interest as well as Mark Rothko, Joseph Cornell and Mary Cassatt.  But closer to home, I am influenced by my artistic peers who, for the most part are, like me,”little fishes in a big pond.”  I look to the artwork of contemporary encaustic artists, not for imagery, but in order to become more familiar with the endless ways in which the medium can be used. My studio is a place for discovery…challenging, frustrating and exhilarating!

Artist: Jan Geoghegan
Title: Studio Time Line
Medium: Encaustic Mixed Media
Dimensions: 7 x 27 inches
Website: http://jangeoghegan.com

Passionately curious…

Passion.  Do we all have passion? Where does it come from? How does it reveal itself? Is it genetic or acquired through our environment? If we all followed our “passion” where would the world be?  Would we have global warming?

I did my first triathlon a week ago.  I had 60 days to prepare.  I’ve put together a sculpture exhibit in 60 days.  I can do this. I taught myself to weld.  I can relearn to swim….in the ocean…for ½ mile.  Got it.  Biking?  Well, I had a motorcycle with 1000cc’s.  0-60 in less than 3 seconds.  15 miles? No problem. But to be safe, I’ll train on a cement-truck-like mountain bike and get in shape fast and hard.  Run?  I run.  Everybody runs.  “Hey, I have to run to the store.”  “We’re running out of toilet paper!”  I run my mouth off about the State of Connecticut wasting tax dollars and increasing their carbon footprint by mowing native plant life along the sides and medians of the highway so, and I quote from the Governor’s Office, “it looks prettier.”  Keep the highway earth-wrecking crew, but layoff school teachers? Not to mention the carbon dioxide pulsing parking lot it creates…I should run for Governor.

Anyway….Day 30 marked the day I urinated on my training partners arm stung by a jelly fish the size of an exoplanet.   I’ve swallowed enough saltwater that I’m now the new Morton Salt Girl (Boy)  and my chainsaw consumed three blades clearing my favorite biking trail from Irene’s tantrum.   Running? No, not for office.  Too many skeletons.  But I am still talking about the State of CT and I shaved 4:30 off my three mile run.

Day 60. Beyond my tears of stomach acid, I felt something special that Saturday morning @ 6AM.  I saw it in hundreds of dancing eyes.  I felt numb with strength.  Superhuman.  Via satellite, there was a foggy glow above Madison, CT that clear, sunny morning.  A colony of XTERRA seals gathered at the threshold of the rookery.

“Boy, those buoys are far out” I said to #923.  “Yeah, they’re cool” he replied.   “No, I mean they are way out in the ocean!”  #871 smiled and nodded.  I survived my Magoo-like swim which probably moved the decimal point on my distance from .50 to 5.0 (I later learned I set the record for the longest half mile swim).   I couldn’t leave my faithful cement-truck mountain bike at home.  We broke many a trail and had a special bond.  So Quikrete and I battled together with Gatorade taped to her belly, fueled by cheers of “where’s the mountain” “go mountain boy! Go!”  “Catskills on your left.” With mouth closed,Paul Shampine I ran the last stage with hydraulic vice grips on my calves which then moved to my shins.   Then it happened.  I can still see the smile in her eyes.  As I was finishing my last mile, she was starting her first…really struggling…  We both looked up from the ground, eyes met.  Passion.  I’ve had less intimate moments with lovers.

Here are three artathletes…with passion.  Have a look through their eyes.
Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

CJ Nye, NYC, NY
sculpture, artist, art, sculptor 

When did you first discover your creative talents?

I’ve been at an easel, literally, since I was in diapers. I first started using oils in school when I was eleven years old. The teacher told us to make a landscape, and I blissed out making a small, extraterrestrial, organic abstract. I was chastised. I defended my piece. I had found my medium.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

I sold my first piece, reluctantly, in 2000, in order to finance another. Jack Whitten asked me to be in “Plural Dimensions,” a group show in the SVA Gallery, Soho. I went down to look at the space – 16′ ceilings! I had a chance to realize a piece I had been dreaming about, barely; the show would be in two weeks, and I was broke. A friend of mine had been after me for a little piece for years; made c. 1989-93 (high school, I worked in oils at home), it was about 3 x 1′, with little patches of rust-pocked metal on board, painted in blue, green, and black acrylic with black and metallic marker to give the effect of a rainforest. I sold it to him for a few hundred dollars and the promise of a bartered haircut that I never got. The cash went to making Banner Triptych. Banner Triptych measures 13.5 x 14 x 10.5′ – a triangular installation with an acrylic exterior (of necessity, as it was I had a hair-dryer on it up to the last minute) of deep blue with silvery mountain outlines, that could be walked into for a panoramic abstract scape of cascades and mountains in blue, green, cream, purple, and orange on a radiant yellow ground. A friend who was in the show with me told me that one evening when I was not there, he saw someone stop in their tracks across the street, and walk into the gallery because of that piece. I guess you could say it was a good trade.

Who are your favorite artists? 

I could sooner tell you my favorite color. I will say that one of my earliest memories was seeing a Morris Louis at the National Gallery in D.C.; my child-mind reeled, “How did he make those drips go diagonally?”

Artist: CJ Nye
Title: Power, Force, and Circumstance.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Each canvas is 8” x 8” x 1.5”
Date: 2011
Website: http://cjnye.com

Barbara Traub, San Francisco, CA
Barbara Traub-Passion Fashion

When did you first discover your creative talents?

When as a kid I learned to play Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’ on the
piano or perhaps my senior year on the campus of Johns Hopkins when I
tried some LSD and watched the trees dance and sway.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

In 1999 my photography was featured in an exhibition at the
International Fotofestival of Knokke-Heist in Belgium. I had about
100 prints in the show and was wined and dined in a room at the
Casino where Magritte had painted the mural Le Domaine Enchanté.
Though none of my work was for sale there, I did receive an
honorarium and donated a print to their collection.

Who are your favorite artists? 

It’s kind of like being at the mouth of a river what with many
streams and tributaries flowing into it from a whole lot of
directions — film, painting, literature, music, media, culture,
nature, etc. Some photographers who have inspired my work, in
addition to the ones mentioned on my Wikipedia page are Ralph Gibson,
Ruth Bernhard, Bill Brandt, Helen Levitt, and William Eggleston.

Artist: Barbara Traub
Title: Passion Fashion
Medium: Lightjet Digital C-print, 11×17 inches
Website: http://www.home.earthlink.net/~traubleaux/

Andrea de Ranieri, Cascine di Buti, Italy

When did you first discover your creative talents?

I do not know if I have the creative talent inside me, it’s up to others to say it. I made what goes through my head and I haven’t enough time to realize what I have in mind.  It’s only been a year and a half I made sculptures,  before I enjoyed  painting here and there.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

The first sculpture was created by accident.  I was making a lamp and came up with something different out of the ordinary woodworking. From there I realized I could do other sculptures.  This “sculpture” was then sold and this has meant a lot to me because I also had confirmation of what would become my passion.

Who are your favorite artists? 

Pablo Picasso above all others, in particular the sculpture The Goat.

Artist: Andrea de Ranieri
Title: Dott.ssa.Manta
Medium: Wood, resin, iron, 15x150x85 cm
Website: http://www.andreaderanieri.com


An Interview with an Artist, part 8

Partially  inspired by this blog and the direction it has taken, I’ve decided to team up with a great friend, art lover and PR Guru, Kaitlyn Siner to create a consortium of experienced art professionals and local business leaders to support “emerging” visual artists, collectively  forming The Arts PR Group.The Arts PR Group

We define emerging artists as “any individual, regardless of age or occupation who is fully committed to their craft.  Emerging may apply to artists in the early, mid, and late stages of their career, with some evidence of professional achievement.”

We are energized and inspired daily as we organize this privately funded (no federal or state assistance) nonprofit start-up to include a permanent flagship gallery site in Boston, a formal mentorship program (Shadow Program) with grant and fellowship opportunities among many new and unique initiatives for this important and critical collective of artists.

Kaitlyn and I have the passion, drive and the entrepreneurial prowess to commence our vision,but we need to continue to adopt and consult with key industry leaders to refine our objectives as we charge our mission forward. Your thoughts and ideas are welcomed.

Celebrating all visual artists, the interviews continue…

Best, Paul
Paul Shampine

Mara Safransky- You Don't Know What You Don't Know or Why You Know What You Know

When did you first discover your creative talents?

From a very early age I was encouraged to draw and paint. My parents placed a lot of importance on the creative process and always emphasized me finding a means through which to express myself. I was home-schooled with my sisters and our days were structured around reading, dancing, music, and art. Explaining it now, it sounds so bohemian and renegade, and I guess in a lot of ways it was. Still, I feel very lucky looking back, because no matter how much I yearned to have a “normal” life like other children, I discovered my love of art because of the environment I was raised in. To this day, drawing and painting give me a purpose and an outlet. Most days in my studio, I feel like my real work as an artist is getting back to that time in my childhood when my approach to my work was totally unselfconscious and as much about the process of creating as it is about the finished piece.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

My first piece was sold in 2000 through a small start-up gallery in Los Angeles. I was part of a group show and the buyer was visiting from Germany. Because the gallery owner made the sale, I never had contact with the collector. The sale made me feel grownup and legitimate as an artist because it meant someone bought my piece, not because they liked me, not because they knew me, but because the work spoke to them. Ironically, the experience ended up being memorable in more ways than one. Soon after the sale, the gallery went belly-up and I was never paid for the piece. It was a good lesson in the fact that art is a business, so having good contracts and being careful who you work with matters.

Who are your favorite artists?

While it may not be especially vogue to say, I derive the bulk of my inspiration from the painting that was happening in this country in the 1950’s and 60’s. So, to name a few of my heroes: Helen Frakenthaler, Hans Hoffman, Lee Krasner, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, and Jackson Pollock.

Artist: Mara Safransky
Title: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know or Why You Know What You Know
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, 48×36 inches
Website: http: http://www.marasafransky.com

Batya-We Virtually Held Up the Sky, Made the Wind Move

When did you first discover your creative talents?

It was a natural thing to express through the arts ever since I can remember and it included stories, art and music. I used to draw on anything I could get my hands on, small drawings in hidden spots at home, chalk on the sidewalks, illustrate my desk in school and on the blackboard before the teacher came in.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

The first piece I sold was a drawing of a very long necked woman. I was a junior art counselor in a summer camp and on visiting day this couple saw it and asked me if they can have it. I said ok and they gave me a tip, but I was shocked at the amount.

Who are your favorite artists?

Too many to name all, these come to mind first: CaravaggioGoyaMagritte,VermeerIngresEdward Hopper,Caspar David FriedrichHenry Darger,Michal HeimanPeter DoigJeff Koons and Damien Hirst.Artist: Batya F. Kuncman
Title: We Virtually Held Up the Sky, Made the Wind Move
Medium: Oil on canvas 20×24 inches
Website: http://www.batya.ws

Vesna Jovanovic-TimekeeperWhen did you first discover your creative talents?

I guess I should first address the idea of talent, and how I perceive it. The concept of “talent” has always been a problematic one for me with regard to art.  In fact, I recently listened to a fantastic podcast episode that addresses this idea from various angles (it was a past episode of WNUR’s Radiolab). I think that some artists may be more or less talented in their craft (by that I mean how accurately they can execute something that they might envision or pursue), but that doesn’t say anything about their art, only their craft. On the other hand, I think that humans, by nature, all feel the need to create art. In other words, I don’t think that the word talent applies to art so much as to craft, or skill. Art is something that we all informally engage in: from how we move to how we interact with one another, cook our food, wear our clothes, etc. Art is something that we all experience and share with others all the time, and to judge it or evaluate it seems inappropriate to me. I never sought to evaluate my abilities before embarking on a specific project, but I do make a point of always working on and improving my crafting skills. I’ve just always been curious about the world around me; I’ve always felt the need to explore and create, regardless of my level of talent.

I wanted to be an artist when I grew up, and recently I found out that my elementary school classmates to this day remember me as “the artist in class”. Early on I discovered that this is what I needed to do. I don’t think that any artist is fully satisfied with the outcome though. It can always be better, different, more “true”… This is in part what drives us. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for all artists. But this is what I feel.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.

A big problem for artists is that our work is publicly perceived in a way that I believe is quite skewed. The general public seems to perceive artists as people who create products, instead of seeing visual art as part of the humanities and culture (neither a commodity nor a product, but an intellectual, or perhaps even more so experiential, pursuit).I do happen to sell my work – as many artists do in combination with several other sources of income, such as grants, teaching, residencies, etc. – but I think of being a visual artist as being a philosopher or a composer, not a manufacturer with products to sell.

An artist’s job is to create art and show it, not to sell it  – just as a composer’s job isn’t to sell compositions, and a philosopher’s job is not necessarily to write or sell books. These are sometimes unfortunate necessities that can only get in the way of the actual job, which is to create something and expose others to it.  To further elaborate on my point, some visual artists make work that simply cannot be sold (site-specific installations, time-based sculpture, sound video and performances with mixed media, new media, etc.) They rely on other sources of funding.  I just happen to sell my work because I can (and because I need to make room for more!) but I don’t see it as anything that should be memorable nor in any way admirable, or something to be proud of or even happy about; it is neither central nor necessary to being a successful artist.

I noticed that this general misconception about sales (especially in a capitalist society) causes many artists to quit because they feel as though it’s necessary to sell art in order to have some sort of validation, not realizing that this is not the case (especially in countries where artists are deemed important enough to be funded with regular paychecks from the government).

Having said all this… I cannot remember when I sold my first piece. It may have been a series of photographs that I sold back in my undergraduate years… Or there may have been a ceramic piece that I sold before that.

Who are your favorite artists?

I always enjoy viewing art without judging – just experiencing what others have to share and how they perceive the world, whether or not I agree with it. But there is some artwork that I feel an unusual kinship to.  Here’s a short list of artists whose work I really responded to, in no particular order: Lee Bontecou, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Marc Leuthold, Robert Turner (ceramist), Max Ernst, Caspar David Friedrich, Diane Arbus, ancient Egyptian reliefs and drawings, Lascaux cave paintings, Jean Tinguely, H.R. Giger, Gordon Matta-Clark, Katsushika Hokusai, Karl Blossfeldt, William Kentridge.

Artist: Vesna Jovanovic
Title: Timekeeper
Medium: Medical Scans, Watercolor, Ink, and Graphite, 84×34 inches

Website: http://www.vesnaonline.com

Caillebotte v. Renoir – Super Impressionist Sunday, Interview with an Artist, part 7

The Milwaukee Art Museum (Packers) and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Steelers) go head-to-head or frame-to-frame this Super Bowl Sunday as they wager (temporary loan) one of their prize impressionist possessions – Milwaulkee’s Caillebotte, Boating on the Yerres v. Carnegie’s Renoir, Bathers with Crab.
Milwaukee Art MuseumThe new tradition, started by last year’s Indianapolis “Colts” Museum of Art and the NewCarnegie Museum of Art Orleans “Saints” Museum of Art, finished with E. John Bullard leaving with  Joseph Turner’s “The Fifth Plague of Egypt” under his arm.  The win marked 37 years for Bullard, Museum Director of NOMA, as he retired that year to be succeeded by first round draft pick, Susan Taylor from Princeton University (no relation to NFL Hall of famer Lawrence Taylor).
Where’s my money? Renoir, who definitely has a better ground game, comes from a working class family (Steeler Country) and started his trade in a porcelain factory before going to art school. Ultimately becoming friends, Caillebotte hails from upper-class Parisian and is a bit more flashy and a Realist.  How will all this translate in Texas? Someone is definitely getting wet and I believe the term is “ender.”  The interviews continue….
Meg Dwyer, Chicago, IL
Meg Dwyer - PeppersWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I have been creating for as long as I can remember.  Not unlike many little girls, my first love as a child was horses; I was fascinated with their beauty and, beginning around the age of four, spent hours upon hours attempting to capture their form and movement on paper in pencil, paint and marker.  This was how I first discovered that I loved to draw, and I haven’t ever stopped.  From that early age, art became a very important part of my identity – it was both a means to connect with other people as well as to set myself apart.  It became the means by which I communicate what I find beautiful and significant.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. What stands out to me even more than the sale is the very moment I was first asked, “How much?”  The question came at a show which was one of my first opportunities to display my work publicly, and I hadn’t yet even considered selling.  I enjoy watching and listening to other people as they view my work, and I was contentedly focused on doing so when the “How much?” question snapped me to a shocked (and flattered) attention.  I knew that my art held a great deal of meaning for me personally, but I was unprepared for the idea that it might be meaningful enough to someone else that they would want to keep it in their space.  This concept added a new layer of purpose and wonder to creating art.  That moment will stay with me forever.
Who are your favorite artists? I am fascinated by Chuck Close, Paul Gauguin, Rene Magritte, Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, and Peter Blume.
Artist: Meg Dwyer
Title: Peppers
Medium: Oil on gessoed panel, 18×24 inches
Website: http://www.megdwyer.com/

Shelley Laffal, Silver Spring, MD
Shelley Laffal - goin bananas
When did you first discover your creative talents? My “ah ha !!” Art moment came to me in Kindergarden. The assignment was to color in the line a picture of the Thanksgiving turkey.  We were given crayons and paper and as I started to to color the turkey I found myself blending layers upon layered of browns, oranges ,yellows, reds and blacks, I got so focused on the coloring that long after all the other students had finished I was still furiously coloring away, layer upon layer. Until the teacher informed me the class was over.  I realized that I had this need to make the turkey as real as it would taste.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The first painting I sold was a mural , for restaurant. The owner had me commission several murals for his chain of restaurants.
Who are your favorite artists? The artists that have most moved and influenced my work: Frida Kahlo, Paula Rego, Botero, Alice Neel.
Artist: Shelley Laffal
Title: Goin bananas
Medium: Oil on canvas, 56×45 inches
Website:http://www.shelleylaffal.com
Hesther van Doornum, Vlijmen, The Netherlands
Hesther van Doornum - OverseeWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I discovered my creative talents at primary school. I discovered – actually my drawing teacher did – that I could draw anything I saw. She stimulated and motivated me in a great way.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The first piece of work I sold was at college, to a teacher. That is when I noticed people were happy to pay for my paintings. This gave me confidence and made it easier for me to approach galleries after graduating. The first few years after graduation I had difficulties parting from my paintings. It was not until I started to make more paintings (my own stock was growing) that I could ‘leave’ (sell) them.
Who are your favorite artists? I enjoy the work of many painters and sculptors. I love to look at their work to find there unique fingerprint. To discover how the works are made, their struggles and their own uniquelyfound solutions. I think the paintings of Francis Bacon are very interesting because of their compositions. He kept experimenting until he found the right proportion between shapes, colors and depth. Also the voids are just as important as de forms and figures themselves. I also find the drawings of Camille Claudel very touching.
Artist: Hesther van Doornum
Title: Oversee
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, 100×120 cm
Website: http://www.hesthervandoornum.nl

Kesha Bruce, US and France
Kesha Bruce-THAT THEY MIGHT BE LOVELYWhen did you first discover your creative talents? Well to be honest I was a late bloomer.  I didn’t really get serious about art until I was a teenager. I was never particularly interested in drawing or painting, but I took a jewelry-making class and fell in love with the physicality of it. I think some of that translates into the way I paint.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. When I was first starting out my art career I sold a few small paintings here and there to friends and family of course.  But I made my first big sale when I was in grad school at Hunter College in New York City.  During an open studio a guy kinda wandered in, looked at a piece and within a few minutes asked me for a price.  I quoted his a price based off what I needed to pay my rent that month.  He didn’t blink an eye.  He bought the piece and then took me out to lunch at a fantastically chic restaurant to celebrate.  To say the least, I was thrilled.
Who are your favorite artists? I’m not much for hero worship.  Most of the artists that inspire me are contemporary artists that I have met and admire. Artists I’m watching right now: Stacia YeapanisJane ZweibelCharlie Grosso
Artist: Kesha Bruce
Title: THAT THEY MIGHT BE LOVELY
Medium: Archival Pigment Print, 20×27 inches
Website: http://www.keshabruce.com Blog: http://www.keshabrucestudio.com

Creative Crisis – Interview with an Artist, part 6

After reading the most recent post, Kathryn Arnold, blog interviewee forwarded a Newsweek article regarding a significant decline in creativity scoring in the American youth, “Creative Crisis.”  While citing TV, video games and school curriculum as “culprits” for the new disturbing downward trend, my daughter of twelve years  Samantha, brings Inventive Creativityanother possibilityto light.  I’m calling it the MacGyver Factor.  She feels that as we evolve with technology, we’re not forced to use our creativity for problem solving etc.  So, we’re not exercising the right side of our brain as much as we have in the past. We’re our own enemy.  Our creative forefathers have made us right-brain lazy. That said, Isabella, daughter of ten moves in the Skype view and says she’s done with her art class as of Friday for the rest of the year due to a recent curriculum change. Now, creativity runs through these girls veins, including their sister Alexandra (nine) like vermouth in the Kennedy’s.  I’m not worried.  Life’s the classroom.
So, what do you do? Like anything else that’s important to you, you take ownership and manage the process. When you go to the beach, you help build mutant sand creatures.  You play visual games to spot what land features you see in the lakes mirror-like reflection.  And you give an eight year old a camera.  The interviews continue…

Danielle Ezzo, Brooklyn, NY

Patterns in Healing Study1-Danielle EzzoWhen did you first discover your creative talents? Both of my parents were artistic, so from a very young age I was painting, drawing, and taking pictures. I thought I wanted to be a painter as I got a little older, but didn’t know how that could translate into a career. Funny that I was thinking of the ‘practical’ side so young. Because of this, my grade school focuses were more on the sciences, and it wasn’t until applying for college that I decided I was going to go back into art. I guess it’s hard to pin point an exact moment because it was always there to some varying degree.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. Oddly enough, I sold my first piece of artwork when I was a freshman in high school. Our project was surrealist based although I don’t remember the precise assignment. Essentially, I painted a fish bowl in the shape of a cat with detailed aquatic life inside painted with acrylics. It was suggested by my teacher that I submit the work into a community gallery show that was to be exhibited at the town’s local library. After the show came down, another teacher from my school contact me about purchasing the piece. It was definitely very flattering for a fourteen year old!

Who are your favorite artists? Some of my favorites artists are: Sandy Skoglund, Egon Schiele, Rudolph Koppitz, Rene Magritte, Francisco de Goya, and so many others.

Artist: Danielle Ezzo
Title: Patterns in Healing, Study 1
Medium: Cyanotype with gouache and ink, 9×12 inches
Website: http://danielleezzo.com/ Blog: http://dezzoster.tumblr.com/

Greg Orfanos, Bristol, CT

Said the Cicada - Greg OrfanosWhen did you first discover your creative talents? My first recollection of having discovered any creative ability was at age 3. I was sitting on the paisley patterned mustard colored carpet in my decked out 70’s style living room doodling away on a green piece of construction paper. All of a sudden, I noticed that my drawing appeared to look like an exact rendering of the human figure. I quickly got up to show my mother and ran to her incredibly fast as I thought the drawing were going to disappear from the page.  I burst through the bath room door and held up my masterpiece. My mother, while sitting on the toilet, graciously said “Excellent, now please leave and close the door.” My first critique.  Although blunt in its delivery, I modestly accepted. I became a child obsessed. Drawing feverishly, I created these fantastic figures as if magic were pouring from my hands. Over the course of a few days I had an epiphany. If shapes were put together in any sort of way and even manipulated that I could not only draw figures but all kinds of things. My refrigerator started to look like a giant pinata. Covered in multicolored construction paper that was adorned with the most wonderful images the human eye has ever beheld. “Is that a sun over a mountain” my dad would ask. “No, it’s you” I said.  ” I like the train with the bubbles in it” my sister would say. “No, those are the gerbils in the habitrail” I would reply. This went on for some time. Needless to say my ego became bruised and the fridge went back to its original avocado green.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold.   As far as selling my work, I don’t enjoy it as much as one might think. I sell out of necessity. There is one particular sale however, that is very memorable. I received a lengthly email from a gentleman describing how much one of my paintings had captivated him. He saw so much of his own life in the subject matter. Memories of missed opportunities that all of a sudden, he felt, had become with in reach to him again. He went on to say that this painting inspired him so much so, that he was going to further his education and pursue his dream. After reading this I was dumbfounded. I wanted to give it to him for nothing but he insisted on paying for it. Never in my life has my art work ever got a response more true and heartfelt as his letter. That in of itself is pretty damn cool. 

Who are your favorite artists? There are a lot of artists that inspire me. Not just the visual ones but literary, musicians and film makers as well. So, to name a few and not in any particular oder: Grosz, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Ensor, Saint Saens, Winsor McCay, Roald Dahl, Bud Powell, Burl Ives, Link Wray, Les Paul & Mary Ford, Lisbeth Zwerger, Arnold Lobel, Brian O’Nolan, Thomas Hart Benton, Henry James, Sparkle Horse, Daniel Johnston, David Lynch, Eric Dolphy, Earl Bostic, Harrison Cady, Edward Gorey, Kenneth Grahame, Ezra Jack Keats, Judi Muscara-Orfanos, Hiedi Dentremont, David Ferreira, Deborah G. Rogers, Jennifer Richter, Kathleen Lolley, Heather Adels, Jill Herick Lee, Dave Brubeck, Wes Anderson, Richard Kelley, Spike Jonze, Richard Flynn and the list goes on.

Artist: Greg Orfanos
Title: Said The Cicada
Medium: Mixed, 36×24 inches
Website: http://www.gregorfanos.com

Amy Guidry, Lafayette, LA
The Wild West-Amy Guidry
When did you first discover your creative talents? Apparently my talents were not discovered until my kindergarten teacher called my mother to let her know I could draw really well.  My mother thought I drew like any other child.  I was the oldest of two, so there was no one else to compare my work to.  As far as I was concerned, I just knew that drawing and painting were fun.  I mass-produced artwork to the point that my mother had to throw out a lot of it.  I plowed through entire packages of- what we called back then- “typing paper.”  I was always hoping to get my hands on more advanced (i.e. messy and destructive) art supplies.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. This is actually a tough question.  I sold some work when I was a kid, so I don’t think I completely understood what that meant.  It wasn’t as significant to me as it is now.  So I will have to say that one of my most memorable sales was one of my larger works and it was actually purchased sight-unseen.  The collector saw it on my website and emailed me about the piece.  I was not expecting it to sell that easily, but he said he wanted it and so I had it shipped immediately.
Who are your favorite artists? I love an eclectic mix of artists- I just appreciate good art in general, no matter the style.  That said, if I had to name some favorites I would have to say James Ensor, Hieronymus Bosch, Salvador Dali, Wangechi Mutu, Odd Nerdrum, and Kiki Smith.  I’m trying to keep the list small…  I admire a lot of artists, but I guess at the top of my list, those would include the ones whose work is surreal in some manner.
Artist: Amy Guidry
Title: The Wild West
Medium: Acrylic on canvas, 24×30 inches
Website: http://amyguidry.com/

An art attack? Interview with an Artist, cont….

As the interviews continue,  here are some notables from last year:

  • “What I love the most is when someone finds something I didn’t see in my work.  Then I know I’ve done my job.” ~  Peggy Guichu, Phoenix, AZ
  • “I remember sitting at the easel, smelling the paint, and feeling the way it felt on the brush, under my fingers. It was instantaneous – that knowledge that I had found my calling” ~ Jana Ireijo, Solvang, CA
  • “ I was discussing my major options with my father & he said, “Why don’t you major in art?…You have always been creative.” I decided to give it a try. I changed my major to Fine Art & never looked back.”~ Anna Marie Francesco, Upland, CA
  • “My art doesn’t speak to the intellect but to the soul and to the feelings.” ~ Diana Chelaru, Torino, Italy
  • “Daily life is very interesting and fun if we just take the time to look.” ~ Laura Barbosa, New Jersey
  • “…she was reviewing my work on the walls in my studio… after about 20 minutes of looking in silence she turned to me and said “I’m going to buy this one “Weed” and take it with me today. Bring those three (pointing to others on the wall) to the gallery next week and I’ll put you into the next group show”. I practically had a fucking heart attach” ~ Mark Van Wagner, Kauai, HI
  • “…then I realized… I was the only student who had given her breasts (denoted by one W-shaped line). I felt it was completely unfair since I was just being accurate, and tried not to cry – until I got home.” ~ Kara Joslyn, Oakland, CA

Thank you all for taking the time and for opening your inner worlds, making this a one-of-a-kind artist blog.

Thank you. ~Paul Shampine

More to come…

Don’t talk to strangers! – Interview with an Artist, part 3

“Don’t talk to strangers!”  In American culture, that’s what you typically heard from your parents.  So, when can you start talking to strangers?  Some, well, all of my best friends were strangers and I recently met some really nice
Friendship

strangers that are showcasing some of my sculpture.  Ilsa Svendsen and Joseph Keller own and operate Garden of Ideas, one of New England’s finest nature destinations offering “beyond organic” produce, free range eggs and intimate woodland nature trails where your are guided by unique plant life and equally unique sculpture.

I share the grounds with some creative strangers including Sculptor Stephen Cote and Blacksmith Steven Bronstein. It’s a very special place to visit and to purchase locally grown organic produce from some great strangers: http://www.gardenofideas.com
For those of you that talk to strangers, here are a few great artists to get to know.
Carla Fache, Miami, Fl

Carla FacheWhen did you first discover your creative talents? I think that this is something you are always discovering and is endless. In my case, my first memories of recognizing I could do “magic” with common things, was when I was 5 years old and I discovered that I could use the flower’s petals as color painting and I started painting with them. That’s when the magic started…

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The name of the painting was “blue sky” and a collector, in my first exhibition, purchased it. The next day, the same collector, came and bought me another painting, the biggest painting I had at that time. That was another of the signs that confirmed me that I was on the right track.

Who are your favorite artists? Salvador Dali,Mark Rothko,Frida Kahlo, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline,Roberto Matta,Gerard Richter, Joan MiróSéraphine.

Artist: Carla Fache
Title: De amor y de sombras
Medium: Mixed media on wood, 50×50 inches
Website: http://www.carlafache.com/

Amanda Sage, Vienna, Austria

When did you first discover your creative talents? I was always into making things, but it wasn’t till i was 14 and didn’t have any money for xmas presents, so i painted on t-shirts for my family, which was the first time i really played with paint. I had always been into drawing, colored pencils, charcoal, etc… it was so much fun and a friend offered to buy one from me for a present for their father, this let off a light bulb in my head and from then on out I’ve made a living primarily from painting.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. My first real exhibition was at the Gallery at the Ernst Fuchs Museum in Vienna, Austria in 2001. It was a real success because I painted some life size nudes of his daughter and daughter in law who then organized the show, a few hundred people came to the opening. I sold a good amount of work and was told that i had to put a price on everything, but could keep my favorite piece, because selling as much as i could would help support me in producing more. I am so happy i did not sell that ‘one’ piece and is still the only piece that i have never put a price tag on. For some reason that story came up to that question.

Who are your favorite artists? Mati Klarwein, Dorothea Tanning, Banksy, Pietro Annigoni, Werner Tubke, Ernst Fuchs, Salvador Dali, Alex Grey, Rene Margritte, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Neo Rauch, A Andrew Gonzalez, Mars-1

Artist: Amanda Sage
Title: Sharing Rays
Medium: Acrylic, egg tempera, oil on canvas, 30×40 inches
Website: http://www.amandasage.com

Mark Van Wagner, Kauai, HI

When did you first discover your creative talents? At a very early age…. As soon as the tempera paints were introduced to me in kindergarten I was off and running. Back in New York my mother had some artist friends who entered me into my first group show at the age of five and remember going to the opening.  So, since I can remember, I’ve always loved doing artwork and thankfully my family has always been relatively supportive of it.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. It was going to be my first real pitch to get my artwork into an established and well-respected art gallery in Chicago. I had finally been able to schedule a studio visit with the owner, Nancy Lurie. I had been dreaming of getting into to her gallery for years and was really nervous of the visit. So there she was reviewing my work on the walls in my studio… after about 20 minutes of looking in silence she turned to me and said “I’m going to buy this one “Weed” and take it with me today. Bring those three (pointing to others on the wall) to the gallery next week and I’ll put you into the next group show”. I practically had a fucking heart attach….

Who are your favorite artists? Cézanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Monet, Klee, Miro, Duchamp, Gorky, Cornell, Rothko, DoveRauschenberg, Johns, Richter, A Tapies Artschwager, Penone, Westerman, Golub, A.Neel, N.Jenny, P.Halley, Tuttle, E.Hopper, Turrell, Twombly, Kiefer, Pollock, T.Friedman and so many more….

Artist: Mark Van Wagner
Title: Drawing From Nowhere #21
Medium: Acrylic and sand on board, 24 x 32 inches
Website: http://markvanwagner.com

Eric Kaepplinger, Chicago, IL

When did you first discover your creative talents? I was probably 6 years old and I watched my dad draw a birthday card for my mom using only the crayons and colored pencils that my younger brothers and I had on hand. It was a forest scene with deer and squirrels, and I was blown away. I guess that’s when I discovered that there was such a thing as creative talent and that was way more important, I think, than discovering my own talent.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. In 3rd grade my friend Robby and I started a little art business, specifically selling caricature drawings of made up people for 15 or 25 cents a piece. I don’t remember exactly what the drawing was but I do recall having to replicate it several times for other customers in class. I think in total we made $3 which was pretty cool, and we bought some baseball cards with our loot.

Who are your favorite artists? Martin Ramirez, Adolf Wolfli, Henry Darger, Joseph Yoakum, Kurt Seligmann, John Himmelfarb, Frederic Remington, Max ErnstOlafur Eliasson.

Artist: Eric Kaepplinger
Title: My Chorizo Dreams
Medium: Digital collage of colored pencil and ink drawings mounted on a Masonite box frame. 30×40 inches
Website: http://erickaepplinger.blogspot.com/


Kristen van Diggelen, San Francisco, CA

When did you first discover your creative talents? I have been aware of my creative talents for as long as I can remember, which means a toddler drawing with and eating the heads off my markers.

For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. I don’t really have a selling experience or a sold artwork that stands out amidst the group, however, each time I am utterly honored to sell a piece. It is also very cathartic, allowing me more space and funds to make new work.

Who are your favorite artists? David Friedrich, Sargent, Tiepolo, Julie Heffernan, Bernini, Turner, Vuillard

Artist: Kristen van Diggelen
Title: The Way of Negation (Battlescape #2)
Medium: Oil on canvas, 87×72 inches
Website: http://www.kristenvandiggelen.com