Last weekend was one of the busiest weekends of my life. It started off with my artist reception at Lille Aeske in Boulder Creek for my month long exhibition “The Beasts of Boulder Creek.” Then the following Saturday and Sunday were day long Open Studio events as part of the Santa Cruz Arts Council Open Studios. So for 4 hours on Friday night and then 7 on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday I was in full public mode. It was overall a good experience. I find that I’m getting better at communicating about my work and explaining myself. It used to be very hard and awkward talking to strangers but I find that I now have the confidence and charisma to talk almost anyone. I made a decent amount of sales and had some offers for future shows. So overall a positive (if tiring) experience.
However I did have one little conversation that gave me pause. A stranger asked if I was successful artist and I had to think about what that means to me. What does it mean to be a successful artist these days? Is it having a million followers on instagram (I don’t), Is it making loads of money by art sales (I don’t) Is it creating? (yes!) Is making enough to pay for all your supplies? (yes!) There are so many ways to measure success. I have friends that do indeed make loads of money selling their work. I know others that have tons of followers on social media, enough to be sponsored by brands. That is not me and if compare my success to theirs it’s down heartening. However I am moving right along and I do have what I would call success. I am very excited and absorbed with my subject matter and I can’t imagined getting tired of it for a very long time, perhaps for ever. I can officially say that I’m breaking even when it comes to expenses, that includes materials, studio fees and promotional costs. There was a very long time when the creation of the work cost more than what I earned from it. So the fact that it is paying for itself is awesome. Then there is the very important fact that it brings me joy. I am mindful and content when I am drawing and painting. So yes I guess I am a HUGELY successful artist.
Here are a few photo’s from the two events the last weekend.
A few photos of “The Beasts of Boulder Creek”.
Beasts of Boulder Creek: Artist Reception 10/6
Artwork display for Santa Cruz Open Studio’s
One of the displays of my work up at Traders of the Lost Arts.
Last night was the artist reception of my linocut show at the Traders of the Lost Arts in Boulder Creek, CA. It was a hot night, a record breaking hot night in fact but quite a few people made it out to watch me print and enjoy the art. A good time was had by all and we didn’t let the sweat dripping down our backs bother us. Here’s a few shots of the show and me demonstrating the process of printing linocuts.
Here I am in action.
The big reveal!
Here’s some photos of the work, If you are going to be in Boulder Creek anytime soon the show will be up for the month of July. If not I have some of the prints up for sale at my Etsy shop: Wild Spirit Kings.
The month of May has been extremely busy so far. I am actually participating in two shows this month. The first being a solo show at the gallery west of the Mckinely Arts and Culture Center. This show went up on April 27th and will be on display through June 16th. The center is an historical building that was constructed in 1909 and was originally a school. It’s got a lot of personality and is right across from the Truckee River.
Here’s some highlights from the hanging and then the Artist Reception that took place on May 4th.
And then the second show is an online show at the Fusion Gallery. Their May 2017 show is titled “Animal Kingdom” and I was fortunate to get the following two pieces of my works in the show. Even more exciting is the news that my piece “Urocyon cinereoargenteus” received an honorable mentioned in the Traditional Artwork category.
Urocyon cinereoargenteus 2016
Tyto alba 2016
Sylvilagus audubonii 2017
I finally “finished” this painting about a month ago and by finished I mean I had to let it go. This painting was started in June of 2016 and I just couldn’t get it right. I spent 10 months on the darn thing and it went through so many stages but I never ended up completely satisfied. Meanwhile during the months I spend working on this painting I started (and finished!) five other paintings, three drawings and two linocuts. That’s sorta ridiculous. I usually would have abandoned something going so bad fairly early into it, but I just couldn’t give up on it. And though I’m still not completely happy about the results, I’m glad I didn’t toss it to the side and end up painting over it.
I did learn something extremely important, I need to spend time on the planning and sketching stages of the piece and not blow it off. The five other paintings that I completed while this was on the easel, were all well thought out. I did many sketches and worked on the composition on paper before taking it to the panel. For this one I did one sketch, was kinda happy with how it looked, and then jumped right into the painting. I was too excited to paint and did not work out all the kinks on paper first.
So no more! What’s a few hours working on getting the sketch composition just right compared to months painting and then repainting and then repainting some more?
Here’s a few photos of the process this thing went though.
Now it’s time to let it go and start sketching.
So I have a little show coming up in July at a local little gallery called “Traders of the Lost Arts”. They specialize in prints and I’ve agreed to do a Linocut series whose subject matter is all insects.
It’s been a few years since I’ve done Linocuts so there was a bit a learning curve to deal with but I think I’ve gotten the hang of things now. I did managed to cut myself quite a few times on the first piece. Here’s a few photos of the process.
This is the first one I worked on, more of a practice than a finished piece. I carved away to much of the detail on the Cicada’s back and then once it’s gone there’s no turning back. But it was a good lesson to learn. I did like how the wings turned out.
This dragonfly is the second one I worked on and I liked it better. I’m still getting used to the lack of detail. I’m used to working with tiny little lines and shapes and you can’t do that with Linocuts. That’s actually one of the big reasons I like them, I love how chunky the line work is . However to get the effect of insect wings, or tiny scales, etc, I have to work a bit differently than I’m used to.
This Goliath beetle is the current one I’m working on and I think I’ve found the secret to it all. I fill in the sketch with a thick sharpie before I start to carve. The thick sharpie is the same width as the finest line work achievable from carving so I can see what level of detail I can get. I can really get a sense of how it will turn out as a print before making the commitment to carve into the block.
It’s pretty sweet and I’m enjoying myself. My plan is to do ten pieces of varying sizes, some as big as 9 x 12 and some as small as 3 by 4. They will all be printed in black and white.
I’ve recently donated a piece to the Santa Cruz Arts Council Hearts for the Arts program.
All of the proceeds from the silent auction go to the Arts Council’s arts education programs, SPECTRA and Mariposa’s Art.
The artist reception was last Sunday and I was quite impressed with all of the pieces that were there. There were a total of 86 pieces on display, hopefully we can make a good size chunk of cash for the Santa Cruz county public school children who want to experience the joys of art creation.
Here’s a few shots from the event. The silent auction will continue until Feb 13th. If you are in the Santa Cruz area I would encourage you to stop by the Artisan Gallery on Pacific Ave and make a bid or two.
“Tito alba” The last painting of 2016
So 2017 has started and it is going to be BUSY! I have been diligent at promoting myself and I guess it has worked because I have 4 solo shows during the year ahead. I am excited about it all but getting a wee bit nervous that I won’t be able to pull it off. 2017 has had a rough start to it and not all that much painting has been done so far. We had some rough weather and no power for almost a week! I did what sketching I could by window and flashlight but it turns out that a nice strong light source is essential to painting. However the power is up and running and I’ve started to get busy. The first show of the year is nice and mellow, a exhibition at our local library for the month of February. I’m going to do all my bird paintings at this exhibition. All the paintings for this show have already been completed already.
The next show is a little bit of a bigger deal. It’s at the Mckinley Art Center in Reno and I have gallery west all to myself. This show will be up for 6 weeks starting in May. I am mostly done with the work for this show but I would like to have at least 4 more pieces than I currently have ready to go. 2 out of the 4 are almost done, the 3rd has just been started and the 4th piece is only in my mind so far. Since this is a painting show I have to finished the pieces at least a month ahead of time so that they can dry, be varnished and also photographed. So we are talking the end of March deadline here.
The third show will be at a local art print gallery and will be featuring the black and white insect pieces. We are going to take my drawings and make polymer plates out of them so that we can do print runs out of them. I’ve never done this before so I’m very excited. I also think it will be a nice break to do a bunch of drawings after the months of painting I will have just completed. This show will be in July. So I’ll have April and May to do the drawings and possible early June to get all the drawings done. This is a tight amount of time for how much work I would like to show but it’s so much faster to do pen and ink rather than oil paints. So I think I will be okay.
Then the final show is another painting show (maybe with a few drawings thrown in). This show is a another local gallery and will feature animals, birds and insects that are local to the San Lorenzo Valley. Basically the beasts that I see in my back yard. This show is in October so I have some time to think about it. I know that I for sure want to do a banana slug piece just because. I also got to see a bobcat a few weeks ago while I was hiking and I think that would be freaking amazing subject matter. It was smaller than I expect but extremely beautiful.
As I’m writing this I’m starting to stress out about how much work I have ahead of me! I think I can do it all but there won’t be much time for experimentation. I’ve learned in the past year that I can be somewhat lazy in the planning of a piece. I don’t work out all the potential problems in the sketching phase and then have to do it while the piece in progress. This adds a ton of extra time and sometimes a piece just ends up failing. So I’m going to be diligent about the planning and sketching stage and hopefully each piece will flow.