Monday, September 30, 2013

ArtPrize Experience

Demonstrating my technique for onlookers on opening weekend
photo courtesy of Kim Santini

A great big THANK YOU to everyone who helped support my trip to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, MI to view the installation of my piece Awakening Ophelia, Nishikigoi Dream at the Amway Grand Hotel. Also I wanted to thank the Amway Grand for agreeing to take me on along with 22 other stellar artists who were also hosted by this fantastic venue.

I funded my trip via print sales of each and every individual 12x12 section of this 3x5 foot piece. I am forever grateful to all of you who purchased sections to help me afford to travel.

Taking over Kim's kitchen the evening before my demo
photo courtesy of Kim Santini

I arrived in Grand Rapids on opening weekend, Saturday the 21st of September. The entire downtown was bustling with foot traffic, people walking from venue to venue to observe and vote for their favorite piece. Thanks to great advice from my friend and fellow artist Katie, I set up a demo piece the night before. Boy was I lucky to be hosted by the infamous Kimberly Kelly Santini who had me all hooked up with a 16x16 cradled panel, an acrylic paint palette, an easel, and reference photos of Queen Anne's Lace. Now that's a good friend!

my view from my demo piece, people kept pouring in all day long

I worked in front of my piece for HOURS and the onlookers never stopped. Amway Grand and the entire town of Grand Rapids was transformed by ArtPrize and the energy was incredible.

Thank goodness for Katie Dambro and her daughter Lauren who hung my art, setup my DVD, put fans in the room the day of my demo (boy was it hot) and helped me sell my work when I started to get more into the painting than the talking... I couldn't have done it without my girls!

Silkwaves in the Grand by Al & Laurie Roberts

On Sunday I took the time to walk around and view art at the B.O.B and the DeVos Center, as well as across the river. WOW was I impressed at the scope and creativity of this event. So many amazing projects. I'm so glad that I had an opportunity to view and to vote for some fellow amazing artists. 

On Monday I returned home to Sunny Florida, so inspired. What an amazing opportunity I had not only to be a part of ArtPrize (for the second year in a row) but to view what other artists had accomplished for this event as well. My favorite piece had to be Michigan Forest: The Future of Genetic Manipulation on an Eco System. Rob Vander Zee had me up close and personal, viewing his fantastic painting from inches away. Such depth and color, in such an image of fantasy and imagination. It drew me in. 

completed in the studio; Queen Anne's Lace @St.Hilaire Nelson

You may purchase a print of this 16x16 ArtPrize demo piece for a limited time. It's a giclée on extra deep gallery wrapped canvas, wired and ready to hang. 

and for being a part of
My Art Journey

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Never Stop Learning – Part Two

Sitting in a tiny desk, showing slides of my art, talking about my job

Spreading the Word

I started out this week presenting to 400 Elders at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Tuesday, and ended it by presenting to 60 fourth graders at Stadium Drive Elementary School for the Arts in Lake Orion, MI on Thursday.

Quite a contrast.

Michigan Again

I was visiting Michigan for a second time this year (previously I was there to teach a workshop with the Traverse City Art Center over the summer) to view my ArtPrize entry installed at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI. You can follow ArtPrize on Facebook, it's a short lived (now through October 6) HUGE public art contest that spreads out 3-square miles of downtown.

The kids worked on a collage of the school logo, inspired by a Matisse paper cut

Keeping in contact with Ms. Novak from Stadium School since last year about presenting to her kids, we decided to pair my visit up with my ArtPrize trip. Stadium is a school of choice, a place where parents can choose to send their children because they value the focus it offers on the arts. Many of the children in this school have parents who are artists and are used to being exposed to art, music, dance and theatre. These kids were ready to soak up everything I had to teach them.

What fun we had tearing and gluing papers. The kids told me they loved my hair, they wanted my autograph, and that it was the best day ever! Much like the Elders, only much less contained in their enthusiasm. Gotta love kids for their passion and excitement. "WOW is that a peacock on your shoulder?"

I left the school feeling loved. I was given a green ballpoint pen, a yellow hand-made rubber bracelet, a drawing inspired by my DVD, and lots of hugs. There really is no better feeling for me than the idea of inspiring children in art. These kids were already totally inspired by Ms. Novak and their amazing school, but I hoped that I might just inspire at least one child to pursue an art education and career someday. I told the kids about my high school art teacher who was my inspiration to pursue art as my major in college.

words to describe my visit - click to enlarge

Today I asked the kids to give me one word from your visit, it could be an action, a feeling, material... Anything. Here is what they did (above). This sent from Ms. Novak today.

Taking the Show on the Road

Demonstrating my technique in front of my ArtPrize installation

I decided to explain the technique behind my work for viewers this opening weekend of ArtPrize by demonstrating. I took the collage show on the road to Grand Rapids for the day on Saturday. Thanks to my friend and fellow artist Kimberly Kelly Santini, I had an underpainting, an easel, a side table, water, and snacks to keep me sustained as I worked away and answered questions from hundreds of visitors.

I explained to the viewers how I painted the papers, blended the edges with overlapping colors, and created the whole 3x5-foot image out of tiny bits of torn papers. Folks were really engaged in my description of the process and had to get up close to realize that it was a collage and not a painting.

I reminded them, like I tell my workshop students, I NEVER paint on top! What you see is purely collage, every challenge is solved with paper and I never, never cheat!

Visitors to the Paul Collins room at the Amway Grand Hotel ArtPrize Venue received a collage lesson that day, whether they wanted one or not!

Pay it Forward

I appreciate every opportunity I have to be a mentor and a teacher in art. If you are ever interested in taking a workshop from me, my classes are listed on the right hand side of this blog. You can also visit my Facebook page to follow the progress of many of my collages from sketch to completion.

thank you for
being a part
of my
Art Journey,


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Never Stop Learning

The audience of 400 people for my presentation on September 17

I was asked to speak about collage as my medium and my artistic voice, in addition to how I have become successful with my art through marketing, to a group of 400 at the University of Central Florida yesterday morning. 

UCF is the second largest university in the country, with 65,000 students. The Learning Institute for Elders at UCF (L.I.F.E.) provides educational programs for group study on topics selected by and for the membership. They are a nonprofit organization and a community education program for people of retirement age in the Central FL area who thirst for continued learning. 

A man that I worked with at my first advertising agency job over 18 years ago is on the L.I.F.E. board of directors, and invited me to present to the group. Norman and I have stayed in touch over the years after reuniting at an Orlando Museum of Art function. Norman attended my 2010 solo exhibition opening at the Maitland Art Center and has been following my work ever since. He gave me a wonderful introduction on the podium yesterday morning and his wife Aymar, who is from Brazil, kissed me on both cheeks and hugged me vigorously, right in the middle of the Student Union. She is much much shorter than me, even without my funky heels, so I had to bend at the knees to receive her love. It's nice to feel loved, isn't it? 

I love that one of the rather bold statements on the L.I.F.E. website is "Bring an inquiring and open mind!" and they do. When I arrived I had several people come up to me and tell me how much they liked my hair. I was well received by this group despite my crazy hair, my nose ring and my clashing clothing patterns. They were interested in what I had to say, they laughed at my jokes, and they applauded me at the end. I was inundated with questions and compliments on my work.

The Student Union at UCF where my talk took place

Thanks to teaching workshops, I wasn't a bit nervous speaking to such a large group. To me, it was no different than speaking to 15 students. When folks came up to me afterward and told me that I had a knack for giving a presentation, I told them that my Dad was an independent insurance broker all my life and he taught me how to talk to people. He taught me how to strike up a conversation with a stranger, simply by saying hello and starting out with a smile. I learned from my father that most people are approachable and interesting and that there are many opportunities in a day to engage with someone  new, if you open your heart and your mind. When I present to a group, large or small, I try to remember that it's a room full of individuals.

my Dad on his fishing boat, one of his favorite things to do with us as kids besides talk to strangers

Thank you Dad for helping me find the confidence in myself to say "yes" to that very first art workshop coordinator who asked me to teach, and for saying "yes" to this opportunity at UCF. I never presented my art to such a large group as I did yesterday, but it's true, if you have an inquiring and open mind, you never stop learning.

thank you 
for being part of my
Art Journey,

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Healthy in Houston

Yours Truly critiquing intermediate student work today

This weekend in Houston I had the pleasure of teaching a 2-day workshop and a 1-day intermediate intensive class. Lisa Morales, a super talented face painter, brought me back to Houston to teach again again this year. Since this is a repeat visit for me, Lisa was already familiar with my workout regime and my desire to eat healthy. 

I wanted to take an opportunity to really thank Lisa for all the Google searching she did for "Healthy Eating in Houston" to find restaurants that might interest me. We even went to places she had never been! AND to thank her for picking a hotel for me to stay at that had an above average fitness center which I took full advantage of. 

Ruggles Green offers organic and local food. Two students, mom Tara and daughter Keli stood in for Lisa and accompanied me to dinner after class on Saturday night. Ruggles food was so fresh! I had veggie tacos with black beans, fresh avocado, piled high with corn and carrots and cilantro. The chicken noodle soup featured gluten free quinoa noodles. Houston has a LOT of vegetarian and gluten free options for folks on a restrictive diet.

Empire Cafe's atmosphere was fun 

Lisa and I enjoyed the company of another local working artist Joan, who told me all about her year teaching art in Russia the night we had dinner at the Empire Cafe. This place had a wonderful atmosphere and I had salmon with brown rice risotto that was to die for. 

Missy and Lisa took me to Khyber for Indian food on my first night in town. Missy and I went here last year and the food was so good, with such nice atmosphere, that I asked them to bring me back. Khyber is Indian Pakistani food, the staff is super friendly and they know Missy personally. You can't beat that!

This morning for family style Sunday brunch Lisa found Radical Eats, this place was radical. First off, they were growing their own herbs and veggies in wooden planters out front. They asked us if we were vegan, vegetarian or "flexitarian" they cater to all three, as well as gluten free. I can't even begin to tell you about all the food we had, it just kept coming. I will say that the tamales with vegan chili were amazing, as were the gluten free chocolate pancakes and the sprouted salad and kimchi pancake. Such a combination of flavors, like nothing I have ever had. The wait staff was creative and friendly and the atmosphere was funky. I'd recommend this place any time just because it was so different.

Lisa and Me                                          Missy and Me

Last but not least, Missy, Lisa and I convened for one more meal together this evening at Baba Yega. (where I had vegan meatloaf that was to die for) When we pulled into the parking lot I turned to Lisa and said, "What a neat place, how do you find all these wonderful restaurants?" Her answer? "Healthy in Houston Elizabeth!"

Abby and Holly in serious concentration mode
Yours Truly demonstrating the splatter technique with her yellow shoes tucked safely under the table. 

We had a great class this weekend with many new faces and several return students from last year for the intermediate class today. How NICE it was to spend time with folks I have not seen since last year in Texas! Thank you all for coming out to tear and glue with me!

Thank you Lisa (and Texas) for your hospitality and for looking out for me, for driving me all over (and around, and around) Houston, for making Starbucks drive through part of our morning routine, and for being so all-around thoughtful. 

thank you for being 
a part of my 
Art Journey, 

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Importance of Having a Current Head Shot

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2013

This holiday weekend I put my husband to work taking new photos of me for self promotion, so much for his Labor Day! I have been asked to give a workshop with Art is You in Petaluma, CA next summer and they requested a current head shot in addition to my artist statement and bio last week. Let me preface all of these lovely Douglas Nelson Photography photos by telling you that I really do NOT like having my photo taken. It takes me a good 25 photos to loosen up and not look like I am in pain. Just sayin'. Thank goodness for digital photography.

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2009

The photo above was the first time we shot me in front of my art, a peacock on an easel in our living room. I put the hat on because I was having a bad hair day, and it turned out to be a very good look. My husband had a small window of time he could work on the photo and I took advantage of it, bad hair or not. I even forgot to put earrings in I was moving so fast!

I have taken my head shot in a number of different settings over the years but my favorite remains to be either outside with blurred greenery behind me or in front of my own artwork with blurred color fields behind me. The colors from my work really help to make for a beautiful back drop as well as say something about the vibrancy of my work. My husband has a lens with an extremely wide aperture that offers a very shallow depth of field, this is what blurs the background. The art is just back there for color, I don't want it to be in focus and competing with me and my sometimes painful expression! ouch 

Always Be Prepared - Like Any Good Girl Scout

In the last six months I've had to submit my headshot for an art exhibit I'm judging at the Art Gallery of Viera as well as for the Seminole County Employees Art Contest which I judged last month. I was very glad to be able to hit reply and attach my head shot within the same day of the request. People love dealing with someone who can get back to them with the materials they request in a timely manner. I would not have been able to be the featured columnist for the ARTzine if I did not have a head shot on hand the day the director contacted me. Be a good Girl Scout, be prepared at all times.

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2012
Original image and post processed image by Douglas Nelson

My column on mixed media, along with my headshot. Submitted within a week of being requested. You snooze you loose, I was prepared with my head shot on my computer. 

Last year when the Sedona Art Center was putting together their course catalogue, they asked me to write a sidebar column and submit a head shot. They had to have the files within the week to meet their publishing deadline. Lucky for me I had my photo on hand and ready to email to them, the writing was the easy part. If you were not married to a photographer who loves your cooking and appreciates you on oh so many levels..., you would be looking at a turnaround time of a week on your digital photo after the shots are taken and then up to another week for any post production effects that the photographer might use to enhance the image you chose. And who knows how long it might take for you to get on their schedule in the first place. You can see why this would not have worked when the director of the art center said to me "Can I have this from you by Friday?"

Is That Really You?

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2007
In this shot I look a lot younger (only slightly in pain) I could keep using it, but it would be kind of a cheat, don't you think?

I always have a current head shot on my computer in a high- and low-rez version for submission at a moment's notice. This is a good idea, and you should be proactive with your head shot rather than reactive, which means rushing to figure out how to have a head shot taken when you are asked to submit. Current to me means within the last six months. We have all been to art exhibits and seen artists bios on the wall and said "Wow, that photo looks at least ten years old!" I mean let's face it, you and I both looked a lot younger ten years ago, but that's no reason to hold on to that head shot and to keep using it.  This shot above was on marketing materials for the now defunct Katherine Butler Gallery in Sarasota, FL circa 2007.

Out With The Old, In With The New

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2013
This head shot was current up until a couple of months ago.

Why did I have to shoot this weekend rather than take my own advice? I changed my hair, drastically. As you can see from the above photo, I cut my hair off and went blonde. I could not really send this photo to the folks at Petaluma, so it was time to update my head shot, even though it has been less that six months.

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2013
Even this image is now outdated as I went even shorter with my hair, but I think I could still squeak by with it in a pinch. 

The above studio of me working is a nice one for editorial purposes. It shows my medium, and my studio space, it's colorful and fun and can be used for a variety of purposes. Again though, if your look has changed, your studio shot needs to change to, you have to be current at all times. 

Customized Images Beyond Your Head

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2012
Shot for Lake Mary Life magazine, showing what I do by surrounding me with my collage paper

Last summer I received a call from Lake Mary Life magazine and they editor said, "We'd love to do an article on you this month, do you have photos of yourself we can use for the layout?" This is more than a head shot, this is images that show what I do and can tell a story. Often times people ask for images of me working in my studio. If you can swing it, images of you working in your studio are great to have on hand as well. You might be able to get a photographer to come to you and shoot your head shot and studio shot in one day. 

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2013
This image was shot in the studio on a white back drop and effects were applied in Photoshop by Douglas Nelson specifically for a magazine article 

This June I traveled to Western Upstate NY to teach a class and compete in a triathlon, the local paper wrote an article about me and asked me to submit a photo they could use. I was going to send a head shot but my husband really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to present them with a true true editorial photo. The Chronical Express ran the photo with their article and it really was great! Once you establish a relationship with a photographer, you should bounce ideas off them for future photos that might tell your story or explain what you do more than just a head shot.

Putting your Best Foot Forward

You'll notice that all of these images are three-quarter view, shot from the same side. I never take a photo head on, I always insist on using my good side. If you know there is an angle that is most flattering for you, don't be afraid to tell the photographer you are working with. Nobody knows you better than you, so speak up and ask the photographer to try getting on a ladder and shooting from above or shooting you from your good side, we all have our own quirks. When you are paying for the photo session and the images you want to be sure you come out with something you are happy and confident to submit to those requests for publishing.

©Douglas Nelson Photography 2013

The Price of Being Fashionable

When you think about cutting all your hair off you have to remember that you're going to need another new photo, this gets expensive. I liken it to getting a new prescription in your glasses an then having to change lenses in all the six pairs you bought just so you could be über fashionable. It gets expensive, über expensive... so make the most of your photo session and your photographer.

Typically head shots are vertical in nature, make sure to ask your photographer to shoot some horizontal images of you for your Facebook masthead. Social media is of the utmost importance to artists and anyone trying to market their product. You can use your head shot for Facebook, Google, Blogger, Twitter, etc. Don't forget to keep them current too, once you receive your new image, be sure to go in and update your online photo presence. The above photo was part of my head shot photo session and is now my current Facebook masthead image.

Thank You, Thank You!

Many thanks to Douglas Nelson Photography for his patience and ability to take photos of me at my beck and call. He's a saint to put up with my good side and edit out 400 photos with ouch! painful expressions. If you're looking for a good headshot, look him up in the Orlando, FL area. 

thank you for being a part of my 
Art Journey,