Behind every good artist is a man with a camera...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge my husband Justin for being such a great support to me as an artist. He is always there with the camera ready to document it all. BIG kisses and hugs!!

Saatchi Online? Oh, why not...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Last Thursday morning I sipped my coffee and flipped through the 2007 Coeur d'Alene Art Auction catalog. My father-in-law is a collector of Western, Wildlife, and Sporting art and often deals with this particular auction, which is held annually in Reno. Although I have never really been interested in this genre (artists who specialize in cowboy, Indian, pioneer, cattle and horse subjects), it's an unbelievably profitable market. As I listened to my father-in-law talk about living artists such as Robert Abbett, whose work sells for $30,000. to $40,000. and Roy Anderson, whose paintings fetch $40,000. to $50,000....and others who sell for much more; I could literally feel myself being sucked into a spiral of negative thoughts..."you are a are a child playing a game among are lucky if you get a show at the local arts council...your annual sells are only $ call yourself a professional artist?"
Then, like an angel, my mother-in-law pops in from the kitchen with a newspaper clipping from the Wall Street Journal. A Work in Progress: Buying Art on the Web -- Saatchi Online Offers a View of Nascent Internet Market; Seeing 500 Artists in a Night.
Having lived in England, I am familiar with the well-known art collector and the influence he has in the art world. As I read the article, a load lifted from my shoulders; I was no longer a nobody among masters, I was a nobody among many other nobodies just like me, trying like heck to make it as an artist. The following is an excerpt from the article:
"In August, the staff asked a randomly selected 1,000 artists on the site how much art they sell on the site per week; the 41% who responded said their combined sales amounted to $30,000 a week. Last month, his staff [Saatchi] posed the same question to a different group of 2,000 artists on the site; about a quarter replied, and their combined weekly sales topped $88,280.
...Regine Freise, a set and stage designer from Berlin, says her realistic portraits had been turned down by at least 40 Berlin galleries before she posted a few on Saatchi's site in May. Within 24 hours, she had sold one, "Teabreak," for around $1,300. She has since sold two other paintings to a Swiss collector, bringing her art sales on the site so far this year to about $5,600, up from "none" the year before. "I'm just amazed," she says.
Nicole Asendorf, a recent art-school graduate from Cottekill, N.Y., posted her work on Saatchi's site over a year ago. In March, she found her first taker:, another online art-selling site, which has since signed her to a contract to use their site to sell her abstract paintings for anywhere from $20 to $1,200 apiece. (Ugallery gets an undisclosed cut of her proceeds.) Total sales so far: just over $1,200 for 54 paintings, she says, adding, "I just want my stuff to sell."

It wasn't so much the hope of actually selling my work through Saatchi that made me smile, it was the feeling of comradery among emerging artists. Needless to say, I have hitched my wagon to the Saatchi website: Saatchi Gallery Online. What do I have to lose?

Emerging from the Shadow

While visiting my in-laws this Thanksgiving, we made our usual day trip to Savannah, Georgia for a little sight seeing. First stop after the trolley ride tour was the Jepson Center for the Arts. My photographer husband and the rest of the gang were keen to see the Ansel Adams exhibition, while I was more excited about the abstract expressionist exhibit: East End Artists, Past and Present.

This show focused on modern and contemporary artists who have worked on the East End of Long Island. Often referred to as “The Hamptons,” the East End is a unique region that has long attracted talented artists drawn by the natural beauty of the place and its convenient proximity to New York City. Of particular interest were two pieces by Jackson Pollock and one by Lee Krasner, two artists who pioneered Abstract Expressionism. Of all the paintings in the show, these three pieces looked the most alike. To be honest, I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference if the tags were switched. It was obvious that these two creative, kindred spirits were influential in each others work.

In 1945, the two married and Krasner struggled with the public's reception to her identity as both a woman and the wife of Pollock. In dealing with audiences, Krasner often signed her works with the genderless initials "L.K." instead of her more recognizable full name. I have often considered myself lucky to be married to someone who's creative but in a different way than I am. Like I said, my Justin is a photographer and I'm a painter and mixed media artist. While Krasner was certainly able to make a name for herself in the art world, I'm sure there were times she felt lost in Pollock's shadow. But, as Krasner once put it flatly, "I painted before Pollock, during Pollock and after Pollock."

Tastes like...Family

Sunday, November 25, 2007

As much as I love being with the "fam", after four days with the in-laws I have to admit - I'm thankful to be home.

I'll have some mash potatoes, some corn, a wing, and...2 tickets to Rome

Thursday, November 22, 2007

At this time last year I was in Italy visiting my friend Katrina Nichols. She was stationed at the Army base in Vicenza as a broadcast journalist with AFN. We started our day at the chow hall for a Thanksgiving feast like I'd never seen before, complete with an ice sculpture and a live turkey.

By the end of the day we were walking the streets of Rome, taking in sights like the Colosseum and the Trevi Fountain. As an artist and life long student of art history, I was most thankful that day for an opportunity to lay eyes on two truly amazing masterpieces by Caravaggio at the Cerasi Chapel of the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. These were The Conversion on the Way to Damascus, painted in 1601, and The Crucifixion of St. Peter (1600).

The Conversion
depicts the moment recounted in Chapter 9 of Acts when Saul, soon to be the apostle Paul, fell on the road to Damascus. He heard the Lord say "I am Jesus, whom you persecute, arise and go into the city."

For the Birds, Fine Art Takes a Back Seat to Sign Painting

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

by Bette R. Than-you,

With December's studio rent due and a shortage of art sales, North Carolina artist Leslie Pearson resorts to sign painting for a little extra cash.

"I'm a little shell shocked," admitted Pearson, who usually boasts sales of $100,000.00 or more annually. "I expected my solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to do a little better than it did; most of my shows in New York sell out during the opening reception."

While Pearson has been incorporating bird imagery in many of her recent paintings and mixed media works, these signs might just put her over the edge. She's painting four, 7ft Big Birds for some new daycare centers opening up in the Fayetteville, NC area.

"When I got the call about doing the signs I had to laugh," said Pearson. "I mean, the thought of painting so many life size Big Birds is pretty funny. I thought it was a prank call at first; believe me, I nearly peed my pants. But when the daycare administrator told me about all those little kids who kept getting lost on their way to the Rumpus Room, I knew I had to do something to help."

In the dog-eat-dog, competitive art world, it's rare to find such a high profile artist who will do this kind of "good will" work. In this case, Pearson is no different; like I said, she was short a couple hundred bucks for her studio rent.

If you or anyone else you know would like to have some signs painted, Pearson can be contacted at..., oh, excuse me, Pearson has asked that she never be contacted about painting any more signs.

Editors note: The Onion will not be held responsible for any medical expenses associated with readers who ask Pearson if she can tell them how to get to Sesame Street.

As Borat might say, "Thisa snow isa NOT white!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When I first moved into my house and set up the studio, my husband encouraged me to go BIG since I finally had the space to do so. We had just returned from visiting his parents in the Northwoods and I was inspired by the vast snow covered landscape filled with birch trees. I decided to do an 6 x 8 ft. painting of this.

At the time, I was using a "mix" of 1 part damar varnish, 1 part turpentine, and 2 parts linseed oil. Mediums are used to dilute color, increase gloss and transparency, reduce drying time, and avoid over-thinning. You can buy ready-mixed mediums or use your own mix. Preference varies greatly from artist to artist. Linseed oil has been used in oil painting for over 500 years; I knew that it could cause "some" naturally occurring yellowing of lighter colors but still, I never doubted it (mostly because in all my years of painting, I have never painted anything with a lot of stark white areas).

So in 2005, I finished the painting...the whites were white; the painting was big. It hung for a year at the Manna Church office building, but when I brought it home I didn't have the space to hang it. I had to take it off the stretchers, roll it up, and put it in storage to make room for new work in the studio.

Eventually I decided to rethink my "mix" because I found the turpentine to be a little overwhelming in my studio. I switched to low odor mineral spirits for awhile but realized that "sinking" started to occur in a few paintings (parts drying faster than others causing both dull and glossy areas). I had to counteract this with Retouch Varnish but soon discovered that this took FOREVER to dry! In my research, I read more about how linseed oil can cause whites to yellow over time, especially when stored in the dark. I changed my "mix" to 1 part damar varnish and 1 part stand oil, which takes longer to dry but is non-yellowing.

It's been nearly two years since I changed my "mix", and so far I feel comfortable with it. Now I'm getting ready for a solo exhibition of landscapes in January and the huge snowscape is going in it. Yesterday I dug it out of storage and was shocked at how much the painting had yellowed. You can't really tell by the photos but it's too yellow for my likes. At least I have plenty of time to repaint all of the white areas (this time using straight Titanium White from the tube. This is a permanent soft-bodied, opaque, non-yellowing white--and I'll leave out the linseed oil).

What's that smell?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sometimes you just have to take a day and clean your studio.

Casting Out My Net...always fishing for the next big opportunity

Saturday, November 17, 2007

As a professional artist, I spend nearly half of my time doing what I'll call "marketing". This includes writing my artist statements, updating my bio and resume to include new exhibitions my work has been in, organizing digital images and labeling slides, putting together press packets with newspaper and magazine reviews of my work, and most importantly researching new exhibition opportunities. I am constantly filtering through various calls for art and visiting gallery or museum websites to see if my work would be applicable at the particular venue. Once I find something of interest the next step is to organize my materials according to the galleries specs (some want only slides, some only CDs, some have specific portfolio review dates and some welcome cold calls, some want to see a dozen images, some only two or three, etc.) they all want something different and this can be very time consuming. I'm not even going to touch on the process involved in applying for a grant; then we're talking about getting letters of recommendation, writing proposals and filling out lengthy applications. Then there's updating my website, posting a daily blog (gotta give something to the fans and groupies), and acquiring new "friends" on myspace and facebook (basically just trying to get my name out there and make some connections). it's back to the studio to produce new work.
The whole marketing ordeal can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many galleries and exhibitions that might or might not be interested in my work. For me, there's also shipping issues (I have to ask myself if it would be worth the cost of shipping to be accepted in a group of solo exhibition). It can be like chasing the wind, and can be particularly discouraging to have put in a lot of work reaching out to a gallery only to be rejected in the end. Unfortunately this is the way to get your work out of the studio and onto the gallery walls. This is the way to get people to notice and buy your work; so on goes the cycle.
I was thinking about it all this morning during my daily Bible reading. In the book of John, chapter 21 Jesus' disciples had been out fishing all night but caught nothing. They saw Jesus on shore (this was the third time He revealed himself to the disciples after His crucifixion).
Verse 6: "And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some [fish]." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.

My prayer is that I will be able to discern among the many exhibitions and galleries out there and be savvy enough to select only the ones worth investing my time in. I want to make the best choices and the best use of my time and energy.
Essentially, I want to cast out my net on the right side and with God's guidance, I will pull in a multitude of opportunity.

Rickshaws For India

Friday, November 16, 2007

After reading City of Joy by Dominique Lapierre, who narrates and interviews the lives and struggles of several people existing in the slums of Calcutta, my husband and I wanted to do something to make a difference. But what? After a bit of research we discovered Rickshaws For India, a program sponsored by PeopleAid. PeopleAid assists with wells, health care, immunizations, schooling, housing, clothing, and other self-sufficiency programs including providing Rickshaws to needy families. In India, Rickshaws are a major mode of taxi transportation for people taking short journeys. Owning a Rickshaw enables a poor Indian family to have a debt free, good income producing small business that permanently supports them. This seems like such a sad existence, especially from the perspective of an American. Despite their hard work, India's existing Rickshaw drivers cannot break free from the cycle of poverty which they are trapped in.
We decided to sponsor two families in need of their own Rickshaws. We were allowed to have the Rickshaws personalized so we chose to add "A Moveable Feast" because it is a way for them to provide food for their families...and my website is (it's like an international advertisement on wheels...just kidding).
The family above, in the first photo, is Suribabu and Laxmi Gudiwada from Bad Kotha Road. The second family is Ramu and Yellayyamma Dammu from Adiuiuaram.

Acme Art Studios, my home away from home

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This weekend my husband and I went to Wilmington, NC to do a little work on the studio I've been renting. All signs have been pointing toward Wilmington as the perfect spot for us to move to when Justin is out of the Army and I have finished out the school year at Fayetteville Christian. When I saw the space three months ago it just felt right so I decided to snap it up before someone else started renting it. As you can see from the pictures, the studio is huge (12 foot ceilings too). My studio is an off building that is sandwiched between three metalsmiths; the other 13 or so artists are working in the main building. Personally, I'll take the privacy over distracting conversation any day. This weekend we built some heavy duty shelving units and soon we'll put in the utility sink and dark room for doing screenprinting in. We were lucky enough to find a load of discarded 2x4's and a few pieces of plywood. I should be going back and forth from time to time, and will be a permanent fixture there by May 2008. There's even a new pub just outside the studio called the Goat and Compass, reminds me of my days in England.

Transformers, More than Meets the Eye...Transforming Lives Through the Power of Art

Friday, November 9, 2007

This year at Fayetteville Christian School I was given an opportunity to offer an art class to 8th graders and highschool students. It didn't take me long to realize that this is the age range I most enjoy working with. They are past most of the giddiness and silliness that cause discipline problems, yet they still get excited about "playing" with paint and clay. They are self-motivated, respectful, cognitively mature enough to understand instructions and complex they're just neat people.

In doing research for my dissertation, Teenagers Engaged in the Arts, Dynamic Programs for Dynamic People, a comparative study of four contemporary arts centers, I discovered that in order to engage teenagers in the arts, traditional ideas about "high art" and "low art" need to be reconsidered. In today's world, the media is a huge influence in youth culture and it's key to be aware of the issues that are relevant to them now. Teenagers face real issues like gang violence, sexual abuse, pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse. The arts are a constructive way for teens to be a part of the solution instead of becoming another statistic. One of the case studies I did was with SAY Si, San Antonio Youth YES! in San Antonio, Texas. The artworks created by the SAY Si students confront many controversial subjects such as political, environmental, racial, ethnical and social issues. They organized a series of site specific installations called "Propaganda: The Politics of Art/The Art of Politics, which dealt with issues of gun control, violence, spousal abuse, discrimination, censorship and information manipulation.

Giving teenagers a voice and equipping them with tools and skills such as decision-making (especially in situations where there are no standard answers), conflict and anger management, communications, and leadership will assist with a healthy passage into adulthood.

The photos are of me with a student I give private lessons to in my studio. Last year he got his first taste of screenprinting in my art class at FCS and has been eager to do it again ever since. When I asked him what he wanted to print, without hesitation he said the Transformers symbol. Art became real to him because he was able to make it relevant. We had a great time in the studio that day.

Wondering and Wandering

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Everyday when I wake up I sit in the quite of the morning sipping coffee and thinking. This is the time of day when I get my best ideas for new work and I wear my hand out writing in my journal. I always experience several types of emotions:
1. A sense of excitement and thankfulness about what the day holds for me.
2. A feeling of dread at anything else that keeps me from immediately going into the studio and acting on new ideas for work. This could be anything from going to the gym, teaching school, taking a shower or cleaning my house (I have to remind myself that I am the wife of an awesome and very supportive husband and he deserves a clean house and a hot meal on the table), or doctor's appointments.
3. A feeling of hope for my future.
4. A feeling of inadequacy -- like no matter how much time I spend in the studio, there will never be enough time in my life to complete the paintings floating around in my heart and head.

Sometimes all I ever want is to isolate myself and work. On my days off I treat my time like a little kid protecting his most beloved toy. On the other hand, I am nothing without relationships. I am always striving to find a good balance to my life. Luckily my husband helps me in this way; I usually leave it to him to organize our social life. He poses a plan for a movie or dinner out with friends, I whine about wanting to finish something I'm working on, he coaxes me out of my shell and I'm always thankful for the break in the end. I also selfishly enjoy casually talking about my work with other people, especially if they are of the kindred creative spirit.

I often wonder what would happen if I were ever given the opportunity to drop out of society for a brief time to create work. Perhaps it's time to explore the idea of an artist residency. I found a great one in India: Global Arts Village. Complete with quite days spent working independently surrounded by beautiful scenery and rich in culture. Did I mention that Indian food is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread...or should I say sliced Naan?

Get Me honest approach

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I often struggle with the thought that my boundless ambition to be a successful artist is nothing more than vanity and self-centered (non-eternal) thinking. I spend a lot of time thinking about my work, producing work, daydreaming about what the future holds for my career, and praying for God to open doors, bless me, give me divine favor and financial prosperity. Is this wrong? Where's the balance?

John 17:1 (Jesus Prays for Himself)...
"Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,..."

Now, I am in no way likening myself to Christ or comparing my prayers for success as an artist to His prayers on the night of His impending death on the cross; but never-the-less, is it wrong for me to ask my Heavenly Father the same question?
"Glorify Your daughter in this life on earth, with these giftings You have given me, so that I also may glorify You."

I always know that every opportunity I'm given and every victory I have is because of God's hand on my life––in this way my successes are a reflection of His glory. I guess my prayer is that my hopes, dreams, desires and plans are in alignment with God's will for my life.
"My times are in Your hands..." (Psalm 31:15 NIV).

I wonder how many other artists struggle with a bit of guilt over how much of themselves goes into their art. Passion is such a strong and consuming thing.

Going Global...?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

This week I went to an ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) convention in Greensboro, NC. Among the many interesting seminars I chose to go to was one called Make the World Your Classroom. The seminar was geared toward recruiting teachers to teach internationally through organizations like Grace International School and Network of International Christian Schools. These schools basically serve the educational needs of missionary's kids and in some cases, international students. It made me remember my first short term mission trip to a remote area of Mexico in 1994. I went with a group of people from a church in Poplar Bluff, MO. I was only 17 and this was my first real adventure. Needless to say: CULTURE SHOCK!!

As you can see from the photo, I am less than thrilled with the thought of using an outhouse (note the yellow nose clip). In the last 15 years since that trip I have traveled quite a bit and have encountered worse "facilities".

Setting in that seminar I was totally excited at the thought of going on another global adventure. In college I often toyed with the idea of joining the peace corps. I have a deep desire to do something meaningful with my life. My true calling is to be an artist and I go after that pursuit with arms wide open. I do find meaning for my life in this way but I also want to do some kind of service work. Being in the Army didn't satisfy that need. Maybe teaching art to kids overseas for a year or so will.