Archive for March, 2008

The Pressure of Commissions, The Pleasure of Recognition

March 24, 2008

Ahhh, the pressure of a commission painting!

Will they like it? Will I like doing it? Will I regret the minute I said ” OK, I’ll do it? ” Maybe all of these things are present when the process starts. One way to minimize surprises is to have a preemptive understanding that you do not wish to reproduce, as if by photography, every eyelash, mole or freckle. That this is an artists’ perception of the ” capture ” of some essence that will at least make the painting recognizable as a portrait.

I was graced with a free rein of interpretation when a very close friend commissioned me to do a painting of herself and her first child- a 6 month old daughter , as a surprise for her husband for Christmas.

picasso.jpgWe both agreed ahead of time that whatever style suited me would be fine with her. I think she knew I wouldn’t translate my vision into something reminiscent of Picasso’s Les Demoisselles d’Avignon.

camimelcropblog.jpgThere were no live sittings- I live here on an island in the Caribbean, and she on another- in Manhattan. She emailed me lots of photos, and I studied the one I thought best summed up her love for this little girl.

camiliamelissablog.jpgWe were both very happy with the results.

The hardest thing for her to do was to keep it hidden for a month before surprising her husband. The hardest thing for me to do was to get over the doubts I’d had about keeping it soft, real, and not obsessing over exact likeness. We both managed to succeed, I think.

I bet Paya the elephant didn’t obsess for one minute as she picked up HER brush. I may have to travel to Chaing Mai and study with her!

A long overdue mention here- I had never thought of setting up a blog, I just enjoyed reading everyone elses’. Had it not been for my friend Mary Schwalm, a most talented photographer who visited here in the fall, I never would have set this thing up. It’s Mary’s wonderful photo of St Croix on the heading of my banner. After morning coffee one day she pronounced: you are going to have a blog! And I’m going to set it up for you! Who could deny such a luxurious offer? So now I recognize, officially, the great lens and funny caption maker, Mary.

She shoots for Associated Press and her own pleasures which include animals, sports, and the oddball. She’s on my blogroll under Is Today A Zoo Day
See some of her wonderful work below:



The Business of Show and Sell

March 10, 2008

artwallblog.jpgThis past Friday night was my second art show of the very limited season we have here on St. Croix. Unlike stateside locales, we have a minor window of opportunity to show our work to an appreciative audience here on this island- our season is essentially over in a few weeks. In addition to the truncated season, we have lost valuable galleries due to the same myriad explanations that plague the overall economic climate everywhere in the states.

But, wait- don’t bemoan or pity the poor artist! We’re creative! If you provide people with an interesting evening out, in a beautiful setting and do the appropriate outreach in forms of advertising, you can get around those details. This show was made into a very elegant, exhibition that brought in what looked like a few hundred people and within the first half hour, 4 of the 7 paintings I had on display, were sold!

Thanks to the very enterprising efforts of Kathy Bennett, the owner and creative engine behind Undercover Books and Gifts, here on St. Croix, she transformed an underutilized atrium, normally used as a breezeway, into a stunning, gallery like space, sent out hundreds of invitations, radio blitzes, and posters, and made this a first rate show.

martinifoodblog.jpgI mention this as a sharing of ideas to other artists out there who have found disappointments in galleries closing after bodies of work were produced, leaving the artist with the equivalent of a punch in the gut. My friend and oh so wise and talented artist, Sue Smith of Ancient Artist fame, has experienced this more than once. If she has, so have others. Just as artists are looking for venues, art patrons are looking for places to view. Let’s inspire our creative brains to find alternate options other than the standard gallery and/or the web. No web page ever did justice to Gauguin’s colors- there’s nothing like seeing works in person.

Read some of the many other suggestions on Creating Artists Space to learn what alternate paths are available. Just as you can’t stop learning new computer programs and re-programming another phone, sitting back and thinking the same old way will get you exactly that.

As happy as I was to have sold what I did, I hate to see them go.

salsablog.jpgPosting here for the first time is the finished painting that I had put here a few months ago in sketch form called ” Salsa “. This was the image used in all the promotional material for the show and as is often the case, the one that gets sold immediately. No exception here. It was a thrilling night for me. Now I have several uninterrupted months to create a new series for next season and be mopey that my living room walls are bare except for some lonely, unoccupied hooks waiting to serve their purpose.