Finally, Someone Who Understands! Thank you Misha

Mikhail-BaryshnikovNo longer will I feel guilty when I don’t want to talk with someone while I’m creating art in a community artists’ studio.

No longer will I feel ashamed that I don’t know Suzy Q, Barbi X., or John Z. when asked, “Why don’t you know them, they go there all the time?”

No longer will I apologize for getting snippy to my family when they interrupt me while I’m trying to choose which monoprint to submit to an exhibit, while reviewing art prints at our kitchen table.

Now I can proudly proclaim, “Don’t you know art is a very slow and fragile process? Dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov told me so!”

While exercising this morning I heard on NPR about Baryshnikov’s Art Center in NYC, marking its 10th anniversary. Hearing Baryshnikov simply state the obvious changed my day, my week, and my world. He says that art is a fragile process and artists need privacy and space to create. I know that! Thinking back to when I had a separate studio space I remember those as the glory artist days. But I wanted more in life and co-created a multi-faceted, multi-use home and life. Yes, I adore our teenage son, but can’t a girl dream about “space, and light, and privacy?” That is just what Baryshnikov created for artists in New York City, an environment in which artists of all kinds can go and create to their heart’s content. Well done Misha!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Even if your kitchen table is filled with college tour brochures, applications, and forms, keep your vision of space, light, and privacy on the horizon.

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Best Five Things to do When Submitting to International Juried Art Exhibitions

"It's Not My Fault" by © Adair W. Heitmann

“It’s Not My Fault” by © Adair W. Heitmann

Last summer I submitted an original fine art monoprint to an international exhibition. The experience has kept me on a creative high for months, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ll share them with you here.

1. Become a member of an arts organization larger than your geographical area.
For example, I’m a member of The Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT. It’s the only cultural and educational center dedicated to the art of original printmaking from New York City to Boston. Because of its outreach CCP invited members to submit to an international print exhibition.

2. Have a variety of new work available at all times.
Exhibitions want recently completed artworks. Keep different sizes plus framed and unframed works on hand. You never know what the prospectus will require or how little time you may have before the deadline.

3. Stand out from the crowd with your submission.
Choose a piece that’s a little quirky or unusual. Take a chance with an international show. I did just that when I submitted my clay monoprint to the Pendle Print Fest in Lancashire, England. It was juried in the states then sent over. I felt like it had to pass muster twice since it was supported by the Arts Council England.

4. Don’t sweat over your selection — trust your instincts.
Frankly, I was nervous sending my work oversees. What of it got lost? Damaged? Once I let go of those fears I chose a piece I liked, one that fit the exhibition’s theme and prospectus. I remembered that if it sells I live without it anyway, I was happy with my decision.

5.  Stay connected to the exhibition using social media.
“Like” the gallery on Facebook, follow it on Twitter. Write engaging comments in the comment section, re-tweet their tweets. I did that with the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery. It was fun to communicate online and I broadened my own professional relationships. Feeling a kinship to an exhibition across the pond made me a card-carrying member of a world-wide arts community.

For my global Creativity and Wellness blog followers, the exhibition from the U.S. will be at the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery from September 6 – 28, 2014. Please go see it and let me know. Take a selfie if you wish and send it to me!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Create local, submit global, and expand your horizons, go from micro to macro.

Making Art Fun: Step 8 – Allow for Happy Accidents

0709_serendipity_Jacqueline_TribouHere’s my next post on how to make art fun. Today I’ll talk about trusting serendipity. As you know from my last posts, I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspiring printmaking workshop. Due to my busy schedule at work, it was weeks before I had the chance to unpack my sturdy, large, nicked, and scarred black-leather portfolio.

Strewn across my oak kitchen table were newsprint pages I used during the workshop to blot up pigment residue. They were not the actual prints themselves, but they were too interesting to throw out at the workshop. As I unpacked them I saw how fragile the pigments were; there was no way to save them. Quickly pulling my cell phone out of my back pocket, I snapped photographs of them, thinking I might use the photographs in an art show.

In the video of life, fast forward to me submitting to the art show, pause on me realizing that one of the images I knew I shot, was missing. I fumed for a few minutes. The concept for the artwork had been brewing in my mind. Then I allowed the fortunate mistake of the missing photo to adjust the image in my mind. Instead of two different images, I modified the design to more of a yin/yang type.

Problem solved, artist happy, artwork ready to submit.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Save time, energy, and your artistic sanity by inventing in the moment. Trust those happy accidents.

Making Art Fun: Step 2 – Use What You Have on Hand

Door_4_a_TeePee_copyright_Adair_Wilson_HeitmannIf you stay in the art business long enough you start to see patterns. I’ve been an exhibiting professional artist for decades and I enjoy tracking the methods of my artistic madness. In my last blog about making art fun I wrote about keeping it simple. Today I’ll share Step 2: Use What You Have on Hand.

Several years ago I was asked by the gallery owner of Bell Gallery, one of my, then, premier exhibition spaces, to create a work of art for herself and her boyfriend. They made a tipi to travel with and camp in during the summer. They planned to stitch the gallery artists’ paintings to their nomadic abode. Having very little time to focus on the task I used what was on hand. In my studio I found what I considered to be a scrap, a test cloth of photo-sensitized fabric. I quickly glued and sewed it onto a square of un-primed canvas, and drew directional lines to blend the borders. I then stamped fun symbols and wrote a short spontaneous sentiment with rubber letter stamps encircling the central image. Voilà! A work of art that was not premeditated, not drafted out, not sweated over. A work of art that seized what was on hand and let that momentum build the creative expression.

Darryl Norem, the gallery owner and Guenther Riess loved the painting. They were so happy with it that it never made it onto the tipi. They rigged it on two standing poles that flanked the door opening to their temporary home every time they put it up. Their actions surprised me at the time, because I thought I just threw the mixed-media artwork together. I was honored that they put my art in a place of recognition, yet I couldn’t see the value of it as much as they did. Looking back on the piece years later I now see the spunk and liveliness of the canvas. I appreciate what they saw then, a work of art with creativity, heart and soul. Something that delights and intrigues the viewer. This was a lesson for me. What I thought was just a quick creation was actually something of far greater worth than I realized.

Fast forward to 2012 and 2013, when I had fun with art and participated in the world tour of artists’ sketchbooks called The Sketchbook Project. In both years I followed Step #2, had a ball and completed the projects on deadline. The pattern is that when pressed for time, what I create right out of the gate by using what’s at hand, without my ego getting in the way, makes the best art.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Cage your inner critic and use something on hand to ignite your creative spark.

Making Art Fun: Step 1 – Keep it Simple

interlocking_pencilsRecently, I wrote about completing my Sketchbook Project 2013. In that How to Make Art Fun blog I promised to elaborate on my list throughout the year.

Here’s Step 1: Keep it simple.

An example of this happened just the other day, as I prepared to submit my artwork to a juried exhibition. The show’s theme was “From Inside Out.” The gallery wanted work that explored the artist’s experiences, either personal, artistic or global with circumstances requiring changes from inside out. Because I followed Step 1, I didn’t create a new piece. I quickly went into my mental Pendaflex folder of past artwork. I remembered a collage, with French postage stamps of a seated nude woman hiding her head behind her arms. My own watercolors and the words, “Friends Lost” completed the artwork. It fit the theme of the show.

Last weekend, I ventured into my musty basement to find that framed piece, but on the way I immediately discovered a totally different image. The other mixed media collage was from the same time period, but was titled, “Good*Bye.” It was a photo-sensitized fabric collage of a picture of one of my old boyfriends sitting on a beach. Along with simple watercolor symbols, I had Presstyped the words “good*bye” beneath his photo. I had forgotten all about the collage! I loved it! In the composition, he was really small on the left side of the fabric, on a large field of tiny arrows pointing off the picture. It was like I was symbolically moving him out of the picture. As my relationship with the above mentioned boyfriend unraveled, I did some soul-searching. I realized I was the one who needed to say goodbye first.

Part of the magic of making art fun is all about understanding the subtleties of time. If we are present, with no anticipation of what is to come, we open ourselves to the mysteries of something better than we imagined.

Creativity and wellness message for today: The beauty of keeping it simple is that you don’t get lost in the details. You stay in the wonder of the creative moment.

Art Show Gifts

Recently I entered two paintings in a local art show. Mind you, I hadn’t submitted work to an exhibit in two years. Life just got in the way. Concentrating on choosing the right framed watercolors from my studio (a clean corner of the basement), I felt my excitement mounting at the thought of showing my work again. I used to eat, sleep, and breathe art before I got a real life. Yet, every time I step back in the stream of art my pulse quickens. I’m in my element again.

The art opening was glorious, and I was thrilled when one of my watercolors sold. Validation! Joy! Connection! All those feelings mixed together into a cocktail of delight. I was still on a creative high, when one month after the show ended a second watercolor sold. Sometimes it’s the smallest thing that turns into the greatest gift. The first gift of connection between artist and collector was wonderful then to have a second one follow was the tastiest icing on the cake.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Accept the gifts of recognition in honor of your creative expression, let them fill your heart.