Kokopelli Conga

Kokopelli Conga
"A work of art that did not begin in emotion is not art." --Paul Cezanne

May 10, 2019

Have you ever met a Troll?

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Have you ever encountered a Troll?

When we post artwork online, sometimes we get hurtful or controversial comments intended to start an argumentative dialogue. These people are "Trolls." Sometimes we even meet Trolls face-to-face!

This happened to me when I posted a copy of my painting "Kokopelli Conga" on Google+.  



"Kokopelli Conga" | Watercolor | Jennifer Love





















I very quickly received a comment from a Google+ user (not someone in my circles) saying that he didn't think he would consider my painting to be "Art" but maybe "art" and asking what did I think? Basically, he was telling me I'm not really an artist and my painting is not worthy to be called Art.

Ouch.


Well, after my initial reaction of hurt feelings from criticism without any constructive advice or suggestions, I realized what this user was about and what he was trying to do. My first "troll." First, I decided not to bother responding at all. Second, I blocked this user from my profile.  

Even though our initial reaction might be to respond with angry or defensive words when an online troll attacks, if we take a minute to think things over, we realize that this is exactly what they are looking for. These people are looking to create contention in our lives, to make us question our art, question our abilities, and hurt our feelings. 


Nobody has the right to tell you that the work you produce is not "Art." If you spend your valuable time creating it, you use the best quality materials you have available, and you do the best quality work you can do, then what you have created is Art.  And...by the way, that very same painting ("Kokopelli Conga") was later juried into a competitive exhibition by a national and international-award-winning watercolor artist.



Additionally, many people have opinions on what constitutes Decorative Art vs. Fine Art, and many believe that people creating art to make a living and for sale to homeowners aren't really creating "Fine Art" - that Fine Art is only found in museum collections.


"Quickly" | watercolor | Jennifer Love








Gallery owner Jason Horesj recently wrote a great blog post about this very topic on Red Dot Blog.


His post is very insightful, but I especially appreciate the definitions he includes about Fine Art vs Decorative Art - pulled directly from the dictionary.

    Decorative Art

noun
1. art that is meant to be useful as well as beautiful, as ceramics, furniture, jewelry, and textiles.

2. Usually, decorative arts. any of the arts, as ceramics or jewelry making, whose works are created to be useful.

3. works of decorative art collectively.

Fine Art

noun
1. a visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic purposes and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness, specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.

No matter what your skill level, the art you are creating is Fine Art. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Go forward...be brave...keep creating...and ignore the Trolls of the world!

As always, thank you for stopping by my blog!

May 3, 2019

Recreating the "Magic"

"Inspiration is for amateurs!"  Have you heard or seen this quote? I have many times, and I believe it as well - in a sense. If we are to be professional artists, that means we show up to work as any other professional would. Some days you have a successful and productive day, others...not so much. But, you plug away at it no matter what if you want to create that paycheck!




But, setting that attitude aside for a moment...sometimes artists are also inspired! When we are, we have to act on our inspiration, immediately if possible. And, a lot of times, that inspiration results in something magical. A painting that you truly love, where all the techniques and color harmony and everything just came together. Sometimes it is just a happy accident, when you are experimenting with new ideas and techniques.

The question is...once you've created the magic...can you recreate it? What if you did that magical painting on inferior quality materials because you were just experimenting. Or, what if it was larger or smaller than you really wanted. What if you decide you want to do an entire series of the same design. Are you able to recreate the magic? 

I pondered on this question for a while (a couple of years, in fact) because I wasn't sure I'd be able recreate the magic discovered in a painting I really loved.

In recent years, as my work evolved into creating woven paintings, I find I have to use tracing paper to copy my design and then transfer it to another sheet of watercolor paper so that I can create two of the "same" painting in order to weave them together. Suddenly, I find that my fear of not being able to recreate the "magic" of a sketch has drastically decreased, as I am not expecting myself to freehand draw that exact same composition over and over. I can work off the original design that I drew the first time. And, while each subsequent painting is never exactly the same, I have found that the more I work with mingling my colors, and as I continue to learn how my paint and paper behave at different moisture levels and drying techniques, my fear of recreating the "magic" of color and texture decreases even more. The result? I am loving each new painting I create.

Loving your work is a good thing! Love the process, and love the outcome (even if it ends up being a painting you wouldn't send to a gallery for sale)! If you are always creating with love, your paintings will be infused with that energy. Every time, you will be creating magic!

Inspiration is certainly helpful for us when we are excited to try a new subject matter, design, or technique. So, in that way, inspiration is not for amateurs. But, don't let inspiration dictate your work pace or create fear in the process. Don't fear that you can't recreate the magic of a painting you loved because you don't feel that same flash of inspiration that you felt the first time. Show up every day, or every week, or every month (whatever your schedule is), and just create. Then, repeat, repeat, repeat. After a while, you will find that you are, in fact, recreating the magic every time!


Mountain Fall | watercolor | ©Jennifer Love












A Patchwork Fall | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love












Fallen 1 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 2 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 3 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 4 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love










Fallen 5 | Watercolor | ©Jennifer Love











How are you inspired? How do you keep yourself coming back to the studio even when you aren't feeling inspired? How do you "recreate the magic?" I would love to hear your thoughts. 

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

April 26, 2019

Perseverance

Do you know how to ride a bike? Did you ever have to pick yourself up, dust off your bruised and bloodied knees and try again? I still have gravel in my knees from many a crash in my youth. But, it is also a badge of honor! Proof that the effort I made to learn and improve paid off! And, now that I have the skill, I will never forget, no matter how long it’s been since I got on a bike.

Learning to ride a bike is a good metaphor for our art pursuits. Being an artist requires tenacity. It requires dusting ourselves off and trying again. It sometimes even requires my blood, sweat, and tears (literally)! But, over the years, I have learned not to take rejection too personally (although it still stings), and I have persevered - and this is something all artists must do! 

In 2003, when I joined the Utah Watercolor Society (UWS), I was anxious to “get going” with my art. I had no idea how competitive the art world was! I made slides of all my best pieces of artwork. I set up a studio corner in the dining room of my new house. I entered all the shows UWS offered (as well as several others across the country). I applied to all the art festivals I could find. I sent out envelope after envelope of slides full of my work. And, in return, I received envelope after envelope of rejection letters. For years!  

It took me four years to be accepted into my first UWS exhibition. YEARS! A significant amount of time passed after that before I got accepted to my second UWS exhibition. Eventually, sporadically, I would get accepted to an exhibition here and there, both UWS and others. I made it my goal to work for UWS Signature Membership. It took me fourteen years to achieve it!


Self doubt, self criticism, and worry are common for us as artists. Continued rejection letters can either spur an artist on to continue to improve and continue to try or…to give up. Some artists are so afraid of rejection that they are afraid to try! Our egos are fragile.



Whenever the doubt starts to creep in, I would encourage you to think of Stephen King. (What?!) Yes, Stephen King! One of the most successful and prolific writers of our time. And yet…Stephen King started collecting rejection letters at an early age. He put them on a nail on the wall. By the time he was 14 years old, he had accumulated so many rejection letters, he had to replace the nail with a spike. Right before he published his first book, Carrie, he had decided to quit. His wife fished the manuscript out of the trash and encouraged him to keep trying. What if he had given up…right before the novel that turned the tides in his career? What if he hadn’t continued to write, to learn, to improve his skills…spurred on by each rejection letter? Whenever the doubts come, I remember Stephen King, and I persevere.
















Sure, it still stings when a painting I love is declined for an exhibition. But, only for a minute. Then I bandage my bruised ego, I go back to my studio, and I keep trying. Like riding a bike, my balance gets better every time, my skill improves with practice, and I can go faster and farther the more I practice!

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. :) 


April 19, 2019

Want to know how to properly hang artwork in your home?

Xanadu Gallery has published a great guide to hanging artwork in your home or office!

How to Hang a Painting | A Free Guide From Xanadu Gallery



"Fallen 4" | watercolor | ©Jennifer Love

Click here to read the Red Dot blog post.

Click here to download the PDF.











Guide to hanging artwork information published here by permission.

April 12, 2019

Right Brain? Left Brain? ... Let's Rid Ourselves of the Labels and the Preconceived Notions!

Background image source: Death to Stock Photos








Are you a Right Brain or a Left Brain...a "numbers person" or a "creative sort"?

Why should we have to choose? Why do we need to define ourselves as an "analytical thinker" or a "creative thinker"? Why can't a person be both? Has anyone heard of Leonardo DaVinci - one of the most important historical figures to contribute to both science and to art? Anyone remember a theoretical physicist named Albert Einstein - who also happened to be a violinist and a pianist?


Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners















Image sources: Public domain.
Copyright belongs to photographers/designers/image owners












I happen to work in a very analytical profession. Mot of my days are spent analyzing data and trying to interpret that data into useful reports to help inform the business decisions of our organization. I am good at what I do and have improved my analytical skills as my career has progressed. But, it is my ability to look at data creatively that has helped the most in my analytical job. Not just pulling the numbers, but also interpreting what they mean and how that information might help in facing challenges or continuing success.

In fact, a "numbers person" would not be the first thing that comes to mind were I to describe myself to others. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am an artist. I like to have fun, I like to organize, and I like to make things. I am also a researcher. Analyzing data is something I do, not who I am. Pigeonholing me into the "left brain" or "numbers person" box is inaccurate. Outside the media business world, I am a painter and the owner of my own home-based art business. I am the President of a watercolor society with 300+ members. I am a marketer, promoter, event planner, social coordinator, referee, and household Co-CEO. Just as in my profession, these activities all employ both creative and analytical thinking.

The general instinct to classify people as left-brain or right-brain thinkers, either logical and analytical or artistic and emotion-driven is frustrating. People are all of these things to some degree. Some may lean one way more than another, but our brains are complex. Some people lean equally to analytics and emotion. All the parts work together to create the whole person. 


Image source: Death to Stock Photos
I once had an art teacher in high school with whom I was discussing a grade. He had allowed me to do some extra credit work to bring my grade up for an assignment I had missed, but then neglected to give me the credit for the extra work. I happened to be an A grade student. When I went to discuss my grade with him, he asked to see my report card. Then he said to me "Oh...you're one of those." Now, I don't remember a lot about high school, but I do remember this comment and his implications that went with it. If I was "one of those" then I couldn't be a true artist. It was the first time it had been brought to my attention that somehow society believes I must be ruled by creative-thinking or logical-thinking, but I couldn't be equally influenced by both. 

We need to rid ourselves of the notion that we must be one or the other. The world is full of DaVincis and Einsteins who show us that people can be analytical and creative. In fact, I believe that using both logic and creativity at all times and in all our pursuits heightens our success in both types of endeavors.

An article in ScienceDaily talks about STEM studies and the relation of creative thinking to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 


"Creative thinking and problem solving are essential in the practice of math and science," he said. "Incorporating art into math and science will not only help students become more creative and better problem solvers, it will help them understand math and science better."

Here is another article from Harvard Medical School proposing that people being either "right-brained" or "left-brained" may be a myth. Linking certain traits to one side of the brain or other might be inaccurate as people use both sides of their brains. 


"...the evidence discounting the left/right brain concept is accumulating. According to a 2013 study from the University of Utah, brain scans demonstrate that activity is similar on both sides of the brain regardless of one's personality."

And, now that I've presented you with the analytical research, here is some "emotional" evidence. Along with using analytics in my life, I also create and engage my artistic and emotional brain functions. These are photos of some of my paintings on display at a local art fundraiser and also of my hallway linen/supply closet that I organized using the logical, yet emotional, #konmari method. Let me propose this: creative thinking is an absolutely necessary component in closet organization!

















So, the next time you look at someone who is good at math and analytics and think that this must be their passion and/or it's the only way their brain works... Or, the next time you see a paint-splattered, hair-frazzled artist in colorful, mismatched socks and think that they must be unable to keep track of their business operations and household checking...think again.

Think about yourself. Do you want to be defined by only one thing that you happen to be good at? I would guess not. We are all guilty of assuming we know about a person when we only know them in one aspect of their life. Maybe that is human nature. Or maybe it originates from this societal tendency to categorize the Right Brains from the Left Braing, and to somehow make a person feel they must be one or the other. It's time to change that!

Let's rid ourselves of the Left Brain/Right Brain labels and preconceived notions! The world needs creative thinkers and analysts - and there is also room for those who can do both!


As always, thanks for stopping by my blog.

Note: Opinions expressed are my own. 

Image sources: Death to Stock Photos or public domain. Copyright belongs to image owners/photographers/designers

February 6, 2019

Time Flies...

I know it's cliche, but it's so true. Time just gets away from you! My kids are growing right before my eyes...time marches on! Some goals are accomplished, and some are left unfinished - to accomplish another day!

I am still in the middle of my #KonMari tidy event. Even though I haven't followed her direction to do it "all at once"...I also don't feel that I quit in the middle. I just had to take a hiatus. Two years of commitment to the Utah Watercolor Society, first as the Vice President, and then the President. My "free time" was non-existent. Now, I am Past President and Communications/Webmaster. But, the demand on my time is significantly less.

Last fall, I remodeled my master bedroom, including new paint, pulling up carpet, screwing down squeaky floor boards, and laying carpet tiles. (and yes...I did all the labor). We have an older home, rambler style, built in 1967. It needs a lot of fixing up, and we are slowly trying to work our way through that process as time and funds permit.

My goal is to finish my tidy event and be done with all my KonMari sort/tidy/discard by the end of this March. And...in that process, we will be separating our two boys from sharing a bedroom into each having their own bedroom. That process also means I will need to move my art studio...AGAIN.  This time, I'll be moving to a basement room. But, this room will not double as Office and Art Studio, it will be only Art Studio. So, my hope, is that it will actually be more functional for me when we are done. My work table won't be encroached on by filing and random things to be "dealt with" and my space will be dedicated to art. :)

Life is never dull!

Here are pics of my new, lovely, master bedroom. (Yes...that is my own butterfly painting on the chocolate brown wall. And, we have hung more art and photos on the bare walls that are in the pic below.) I love this room. It is a peaceful, calm, space. This is what I want to achieve for my entire house. Once I finish my KonMari tidy, I will be able to redo all the rooms until they are all places of peace. :)


























Also, I was fortunate to be accepted to the UWS Fall 2018 exhibition. Here is a pic of the painting that was accepted ("Fallen 3"). :)

























Bear with me! I'll try to be better at posting new content to the blog...and maybe some more pics of my tidying event! ;)  Happy New year!