Family groups have a great time at Ree's painting pARTies. I don't offer liquor at my pARTies because I want families to be able to come and bring their "responsible" children. Hey! Creating art is buzz enough. Right?
There is only one direction for art to go and that is “out and about.” In other words, the sheer act of creating means something new has been sent forth into the world. It is a “given” which sometime, somewhere, will be “taken.” I think I love to paint and draw because once the mark is made on canvas or paper, it exists as something new and unique, to be shared as part of myself with others.
A few weeks ago after his superb presentation to the Intermountain Society of Artists, I approached the great portrait and figurative painter Bryce Billings, asking him if Ree Art Studio could sponsor a workshop for him. To my delight, he agreed enthusiastically. And so, in the past few weeks as we have prepared for the workshop, I have come to know and appreciate even more the human behind the artist. I have come to realize that perhaps the greatest benefit of having an art business is meeting the great people involved in great art which is the great gift of my life. Truly, I could say this about so many of my dearest art friends and colleagues who have so enriched my life over the past decades. To find out more about Bryce's workshop, click on the link on my website menu or click here.
This quote was sewn into the inside of the parkas worn by the 2002 Salt Lake Paralympics volunteers:
“The important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part. Just as in life, the aim is not to conquer but to struggle well.”
--Pierre De Coubertin, 1937. (Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin was a French educator and historian, and founder of the International Olympic Committee. He is considered the father of the modern Olympic Games).
Even though the sentiment is obviously directed to the hard work, dedication and dreams of the Olympic athletes, it certainly applies to every walk of life. Even to that of artists.
“The art market is bad. Competition is enormous. Art isn’t valued. The market is flooded by assembly line art from China. Artists have to spend too much time with Social Media.” All of these statements may be true, but each only represents an obstacle over which an artist must struggle. What is the goal anyway? To sell or to create? That is the fundamental question.
When I was a child, my favorite paintings and drawings were done at Halloween. I loved, especially, doing Halloween night scenes with haunted houses, picket fences, black cats, jack-o-lanterns and, of course, witches flying across the moon. Guess what? As a professional artist and art instructor at Ree Art Studio Halloween motifs are still some of my favorite work. There is just something inherently “moody” about Halloween subjects. Best of all, I can just let go and have fun as an artist and I can encourage my students to be inventive as well. Be a kid. Be crazy. Create something spooky and ghoulish. Hey! We should be doing that anyway as artists.
All artists know that when you stand back from your work, anywhere from 8 to 20 feet, you see it in a new perspective. I’m working on a large oil right now at Ree Art Studio. It is a city scene with a lot of detail and numerous changes in perspective. I often stand back to see how it looks. Standing back shows me the flaws in my seeing when I’m too close to the canvas. The other day I realized I was painting a part of a building that was literally in the wrong place! I think this is analogous to our everyday lives. Sometimes we have to “step back” to get perspective, especially when we are in an emotional situation. I remember my mother-in-law, who raised 8 children, saying she had to take a walk once in a while just to “get her head on straight.” Wise woman. And, wise artist who routinely takes a step back to get a clear vision of her painting.
This morning I watched the carpet layer from Giant Carpet One work on our stairs. He slammed his knees, one leg and then the other, over and over against the knee kicker to make sure the carpet was tightly stretched. My whole body was aching just watching him work. I could feel the reverberations from head to toe. But Carlos was singing. When I asked him about his work, this is what he said. “I love it. I love doing this. Seeing the finished job makes me proud.” All right then. The message to me is clear. When work is creative and well done, it is something of which to be proud.
Life has its ebbs and flows. I know it’s true, but the periods of “ebb” are, shall we say, not so much fun. Read book after book, take the seminars, listen to the tapes. Be positive. Be grateful. Attract beauty and good into your life. I believe it all. Still, the “ebbs” come and sometimes, it’s hard to reach the “flow.” The truth is, nothing lasts forever. Not the good. Not the bad. The key is to just hang in there and wait for the magic ebb and flow of life to manifest itself. In my experience? Now that is kind of fun.
Someone is looking at my paintings (or anything else I have created) and they say, “That is very artificial!” My first reaction? Ruffled feathers and defensive posturing because in today's modern parlance, “artificial” is often thought of as “fake,” “contrived,” “insincere,” etc. But, hold on. Time to think again. “Artificial” is a very old English term for “made by human skill.” That’s what I hope people think when they see my work. Skill applied by a very human, feeling, person.
I was visiting my mother who will be 98 this September. On her wall is this pastel pencil portrait of my father, Ernest Alfred Klossner, done by an unknown artist in 1942 while Daddy was in the Army during WWII. He has been gone from our lives now for 20 years, yet daily this piece of art reminds my mother of her young, handsome husband serving in a long war. The time away from him now is also long, but at least she has this portrait. She knows that some artist sat near her Ernie, closely examined his face, profile and features, and very intimately captured him on a piece of paper. This portrait is more real to her than any photograph could be. People ask me why I draw people all of the time? On the bus? In church? In the chiropractor’s office? In restaurants? Because by drawing them, I come to really see them. When I see people, really see them, I feel I know them all that much better. Who knows. One of my drawings may someday be an important reminder to someone of a long ago love.