Hello Friends, After posting the blog post, Administrative Aspects of Being an Artist: Writing a Newsletter, I realized that I had posted the images of my newsletter as a slide show. I realized that it would be nearly impossible to read the newsletter in this format, so I am re-posting the newsletter as a jpeg so you can read the newsletter if you wish. My apologies.
Hello Friends, I apologize for my lack of blog posts lately. This past year I had several art shows such as the Frederick Coffee Company in Frederick, MD, as well as my Studio Sale at my home. These events were great opportunities to share my art with others and connect with faces both new and well known. However, I really got behind on some of the administrative aspects of my art business such as cataloging, adding new items to my commerce shops, and keeping up with my profit and loss sheet. I also created lots of new portraits in my 100 Faces in 100 days challenge which took up a lot of time. This past month, I also had some new tasks to take on while my mom has been recovering from shoulder replacement surgery.
So now I am trying to catch up on these neglected tasks. as a result, my posts might be less frequent and you may see some blog posts from my archives. I hope to be more caught up in these administrative tasks by next January so I can post more often. Today I am featuring a blog post which showcases my latest email newsletter for Art of Schmidt. This issue has a short segment about my latest painting series, Voices,
and Visions, in which I illustrate poetry, quotes and song lyrics in mixed media and acrylic. Thank you for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to my email newsletter for Art of Schmidt, just send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voices and Visions: A Narrative Series
Today I am challenging myself to finish writing my artist statement for my poetry illustration series, Voices, and Visions. After months of on and off work on this series, I am committing to working on the series at least 1x a week. Some of the activities that I engage in to get the ball rolling with this series are: to write critiques about work in progress, post paintings and sketches to Instagram on a weekly basis create tonal studies, and to create photo collages in Photoshop for subjects that require complicated themes.
This body of work, Voices, and Visions, is really stretching me, and it is unlike any other series I have worked on in the past. There have been several instances of artist’s block and resistance in general to finish the work. What is holding me back? Are life circumstances to blame for my lack of follow through with this series? Or are family crises taking up the bulk of my time and energy? Do I fear to make a mistake so much that it paralyzes me from picking up the pencil or brush? Or have I spent too much time watching British TV mystery series, such as Vera Stanhope or Inspector Morse? I’m not really sure; maybe all of these things have played a part in my inertia.
Writer’s Block: Getting started with an Artist Statement
In addition to avoiding completing this series, I have also avoided working on my artist statement for this series, which has not been helpful either. Unfortunately, I have not been reading or editing the artist statement which inspired me to create this series as I do the work. However, I realize that if I want to have a cohesive body of work with a strong message, I need to be sure that the work in progress is tracking with my original artist’s statement. Regrettably, I have made this mistake before, and as you might imagine the results of that experiment were not good. A few years back, well, more than a few, I applied for graduate school at a number of colleges for a master’s degree in art. Needless to say, I didn’t get any acceptance letters, and the artwork I created did not reflect the artist statement I had started writing because I did not adjust the statement to reflect the artwork as I was painting or vice versa. So with that in mind, I am trying to learn from past mistakes and catch this lack of synchronicity between my artist’s statement and the work in progress. I hope that writing about how to write an artist’s statement will get me out of this rut.
Why Should You Write an Artist’s Statement?
According to the Agora Gallery article, “How to Write an Artist Statement: Tips from the Art Experts”, an artist’s statement plays a crucial role in communicating your intentions about your artwork to others (“How to Write an Artist Statement: Tips from the Art Experts”, Agora Gallery, http://www.agoragallery.com, pg. 2) Sounds good right? But what if you don’t like to write? The author, and art business coach, Alyson Stanfield makes a good point in illustrating why an artist may not want to write an artist statement when she wrote: “My artwork speaks for itself.” (Alyson Stanfield, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, pg. 51.) But can it really? Can other people follow your art-making processes and really understand what you intend if you don’t give them a map to follow? To illustrate, imagine that you sent out a resume and cover letter that are very general for a specific job posting, rather than tailoring your skills to that job description.
Are you likely to get the job, or even an interview? I think the answer is, probably not, because an employer needs to see why they should consider you as a candidate specifically. In a similar manner, I think that writing an artist’s statement can also help an artist to stand out from the multiple numbers of artist entries and websites, and make their work more personal and meaningful to viewers. Most important, writing an artist statement can make a connection between you and your audience, when you are not there in person to speak for yourself. (Agora Gallery, pg. 2) But as an artist, I do empathize with those who don’t like to write and would rather express themselves visually. Despite years of writing research papers as a college student, I still don’t like to write. Hopefully, the highlights I am sharing from this article will help you to overcome any excuses or fears about writing an artist’s statement, so that people will stand up and take notice of your art. This is particularly important if you want to make the transition from being a hobby artist to a professional artist who exhibits art in galleries or other public spaces.
Who is Your Audience?
In addition, an artist statement is necessary for consideration in art competitions, art galleries, museums, etc. (Ibid, pg. 2). Occasionally, an artist’s statement may be displayed as an accompaniment to their artwork at a gallery show, art fair or on an artist’s website. (Ibid, pg. 2). One important thing to remember is to consider who your audience is as you write your artist statement. (Ibid, pg. 2) Some of the people you are communicating with could be “gallery visitors, students, or potential buyers”. (Ibid, pg. 2). To write an effective statement, an artist needs to use terms and words that are understandable to a range of people, from those who have an art background to others who may have little to no knowledge about art. (Ibid, pg.2)
How Would You Describe Your Art?
Another thing that you should include in your artist statement is an explanation of how you make your art. (Ibid, pg.2) For example, include information such as your favorite colors to paint with or your medium of choice, such as photography, sculpture, watercolor, etc. (Ibid, pg.2) What style of art do you practice? (Ibid, pg.2) Is your art abstract or realistic, or somewhere in between? (Ibid, pg.2) For instance, do you like to include texture in your brushwork by loading your brush with thick paint, or do you like to hide your brushwork and build up tone with thin glazes of paint? (Ibid, pg.2)
What Do You Paint, Draw, Sculpt or Photograph?
What imagery do you use to make your art? (Ibid, pg.3)Explain the content which you use in your artwork. (Ibid, pg.3) Does it relate to your process, or to the medium that you use to make art? (Ibid, pg.3) Do you use specific themes to illustrate a story, feeling, or memory, such as figures, landscapes, or symbols? (Ibid, pg.3) What influences inspire your art? (Ibid, pg.3) Is it political issues, memories of your childhood or your local surroundings, or formal elements of art, such as line, shape, color, value, etc?
Why Do You Make Art?
Finally, you want to include a section in your artist statement which gives an explanation of why you make artwork. (Ibid, pg.3) Tell viewers what drives or motivates you to create. (Alyson Stanfield, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, 2008, pg, 44) Be specific, don’t just say, because I have to do it. (ibid) Certain examples might include, I make art to process difficult childhood experiences, or I create artwork to bring attention to political issues I am passionate about. This article is just a brief overview to get you started with an artist statement and is by no means comprehensive. However, if you would like a more detailed resource to walk you through writing an artist’s statement, I recommend that you visit the link for the article: How to Write an Artist Statement: Tips from the Art Experts: https://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2016/07/23/how-to-write-artist-statement/. Another excellent resource I would recommend that you read to help you write an artist statement is Alyson Standfield’s book, I’d Rather be in the Studio, which is available on amazon.com or as a pdf download from her website: https://artbizcoach.com/. Chapter 4 describes a system about how to write an artist statement, with some helpful prompts to get you thinking about why you make art.
This week I have really been struggling to come up with a new topic for this blog. At first, I thought I might write about time management strategies and how I have been implementing my Ideal Week schedule template I mentioned last week. However, the trouble with that topic is that I still haven’t taken the time to write it out, but I did download a copy of the Ideal Week schedule template pdf from Michael Hyatt’s website, and so it did get me started thinking about what I have been spending my time doing other than painting, and the reasons why I have been putting it off… Then I thought I might write about the top ten contemporary living artists in an article by Artsy.net, but as I read about what these artists represented in their work, it didn’t seem to fit the type of painting I do, so I decided not to do that.
After some reflection, I am realizing that one of the reasons I have been putting off painting has been that I have not had any inspiration about what to paint, despite the vague idea that I might start up my poetry series again. But somehow I haven’t been making much progress there. Instead, I’ve been working on other things for my art business that needed to get done, and which I have been procrastinating on, due to a large number of art shows. One of these tasks was to get up to date with my profit and loss sheet. Yesterday, I researched different blog topics that I thought might get me motivated to paint again, and I read my blog topics list. Amongst the topics I have listed, was one that stood out for me. That topic was to write about artists that you admire and why you like that particular artist. Immediately the name Richard Diebenkorn came to mind.
Perhaps I thought of him because it reminded me of a conversation I had with an old friend about artists, and she mentioned that her stepmother had introduced her to the art of Richard Diebenkorn. On the other hand, maybe I was reminded of a documentary about Richard Diebenkorn I had watched on YouTube several months ago which featured a presentation by his daughter in which she described his works and shared some interesting facts about his life, such as how his home in California influenced his art. Or perhaps I thought of Diebenkorn’s work because it reminds me of the kind of subject matter I used to draw and paint when I was an art student at McDaniel College, which was figures in interior spaces, with an emphasis on color. For whatever the reason, he came to my mind and so I started researching facts about his life and trying to learn all I could about his artwork.
From the article, Diebenkorn’s First Steps, on artsy.net, I learned that he was introduced to art at an early age by his father, Richard Diebenkorn, Sr. who entertained him “with pieces of cardboard placed between the folds of crisply pressed shirts from the dry cleaner.” (“ Diebenkorn’s First Steps”). As a young child, Diebenkorn drew trains and locomotives on the “smooth, white surface of the paper.” (Ibid). And, he continued to pursue art for many years after that, despite a lack of support from his father, who wanted him to pursue a more practical career path in law or medicine, during his time as a student at Stanford University, where he attended undergraduate classes in 1940. (“Richard Diebenkorn: Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works”). Instead, he decided to study art and art history, and he successfully combined influences from many art styles such as Abstract Expressionism, Color Field Painting and “belle peinture” or the beautiful painting.” (Ibid).
He was able to seamlessly shift from abstraction to figuration in his long career as an artist, painting figures in interior spaces, and abstracted landscapes and cityscapes of his home in California. (Ibid) But whatever the subject, he continued to incorporate bright color and shape, which gives his paintings an unmistakable brand as a Diebenkorn, not to be confused with any other artist. According to Amy Crawford, Diebenkorn was highly influenced by the artwork of Henri Matisse, another fine colorist. (The Lasting Influence Matisse Had on Richard Diebenkorn’s Artwork, Amy Crawford, March 2017, Smithsonian Magazine, www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/lasting-influence-matisse-richard-diebenkorn-artwork. In addition to reading up on Richard Diebenkorn and his art, I gave myself the assignment to copy two of his paintings which describe his various subject matter of figures in interior spaces and abstracted landscapes. I had a lot of fun with drawing the shapes and mixing the colors. The two paintings I copied this week are Woman on a Porch, Richard Diebenkorn, 1958, oil on canvas and Cityscape 1, (Landscape No. 1), 1963, Richard Diebenkorn, oil on canvas. The one difference in approach to my paintings and Diebenkorn’s are that my version was painted in acrylic paintings rather than oils. I also include some of my original self-portraits in oils, because I think they show the connection in subject matter and color between my works and Diebenkorn’s paintings, although my approach is more restrained and traditional with subtle gradations of tone and color. Copying these paintings by Diebenkorn showed me just how much I enjoy painting the figure and using bold color. Since completing the 100 Faces in 100 Days drawing Challenge on Instagram, I have really missed working in color. Thanks for stopping by!