I became interested in abstraction by the openness of it all.
I saw endless possibilities.
~ Stanley Whitney
Last week a friend of mine suggested I write about my art journey and what led me to paint in the style that I do today, which is called Abstract Expressionism. I like to say I paint ideas about things, not just things.
Here goes! I'll keep it short and sweet because I know you have a to-do list calling your name.
My love for creating came at an early age. I would steal away for hours to draw, color, and create. It was satisfying beyond anything else. Even eating Cheetos.
All through school art classes were my forte. I made a college boyfriend jealous by getting a better grade than him - I was taking his required illustration class as an elective. It was SUPER fun and easy. He was annoyed with me so I dumped him (there were other reasons too).
I entered into the working world as a graphic designer, and I soon realized I wouldn't survive the cubicle. But I did my job (okay, many jobs) until my new husband got through graduate school and made enough money so we could have basic shelter.
Then I began to pursue my art business full time. I started out painting pet portraits in watercolor for money. Mary Engelbreit Magazine published a couple paintings of mine. For two years I had work from that one small thing. Free advertising is great.
I sold my work pretty well here in the Midwest with my animal paintings and landscapes and then I had to raise my prices. And people stopped buying. And I realized these weren't my peeps anymore. You can only do so many tent shows and make enough money for the drive home. You basically pay for a tent fee and the wine - because people love to drink free wine and look at art. I mean, who doesn't? But then you're left with a bunch of empty wine bottles to recycle. Sure, there are artists who make a great living working the tent show circuit. I admire them. I sold my tent.
Then I got into my first gallery -- oh, wait, it was a co-op. That means all the artists are 'owners' and so your job is to go to long meetings. Aside from that it was cool and I met some great people. I made enough money to pay my monthly ownership fee. I quit the co-op when I was tired of meetings.
Some more years passed of taking numerous art workshops and marketing courses, thrown in the mix of keeping a life together. Then I gave up on painting and tried again and gave up...ad nauseam. My art friends told me about a fabulous artist and teacher whose classes I must take. So I decided to not give up quite yet and signed up for one of David Slonim's workshops. It's a two hour drive for me, but so worth it, because over the course of those next few months, art became my favorite thing again.
I wanted to learn how to paint from my soul... to paint from within, with that certain freedom that comes with hard earned knowledge. Much like driving a car, you learn the rules of the road and then you are free to go pretty much anywhere. But without those rules, you can't drive. You could, but you'd likely end up in a wreck. Similarly, painting with freedom doesn't mean that you can just throw anything on the canvas and call it art. I'm talking about the kind of art that you produce consistently over the course of a life-long career. The kind of art that is worthy for people to want to live with in their homes (and who will spend a good chunk of money on).
The 'rules of the road,' taught to me by David, are simple, yet so complicated it took me a couple of years before it all started to make sense. They are: The Elements and Principles of Design. The elements (our tools) are point, line, space, shape, value, color, and texture. The Principles (how we arrange the tools) are balance, order, rhythm, and unity. Learning this was invaluable to painting the way I do today...with freedom. That freedom was hard earned, and it never gets any easier to produce a good painting. Other artists will agree with me, but I wouldn't want any other job (well, maybe except being an astronaut).
So, that is my art story: I was born with a desire to create and make things with my hands. Now I am doing just that. I am happy you stuck around to read this and I'll continue to talk about art and art-related things in future blog posts.
Check out my Instagram page to see weekly updates of paintings in progress.