10 Mistakes I Made as an Artist, Pt 2

10 Mistakes I Made as as Artist, Part 2

Thank you for being so patient, I know you’ve all been on pins and needles waiting for Part 2 of my list list of artist mistakes. Please be sure to read Part 1 of this post, which includes a brief introduction so you know what this list is all about. This list could go on and on, so I may be making it a routine end of year post.

In my first post, I invite you all to feel free to add to the list of mistakes by including your own in the comments, but for some reason the comments section is missing from that post! I made sure the comments box was checked on this post, so again, please feel free to add to the discussion. And remember, one of the main reasons we are here on earth is to make mistakes, learn from them and move forward to share our knowledge with others. Take it from me, a serial mistake maker, sometimes we will make the same mistakes again and again. Even so, we do eventually learn from them.

  1. Not painting enough/not having enough work. When I retired from adjunct teaching last year, I thought my time in the studio would be limitless and although I still never seem to have enough, it has improved tremendously. Getting into the studio first and then getting in there enough is the most common problem that many workshop participants share with me and even though my situation has now improved, I know this frustrating experience very well. When I first started to consider myself an artist, I thought I was very disciplined, but I really wasn’t. Like most of us, I had always balanced my art career with other part or full time jobs. Unfortunately, my studio time took a back seat to jobs and other life responsibilities. My lack of studio discipline became glaringly apparent during my first semester in grad school when I almost failed out due to lack of work for my review (eesh). Even though, I learned the hard way how to make time for the studio then, my studio discipline began to deteriorate when I graduated and started teaching. I loved teaching but I had so much to learn about doing it that I threw everything I had into preparing for my classes. I had been spending all of my studio time making samples for teaching that I had made very little to no work of my own. It was after my second year of teaching that my department head told me I needed to start exhibiting or lose my job. It was then that I really set my focus on my studio work. It wasn’t that everything else took a back seat, but the studio took precedent. I began saying NO to many social activities, I let the house get messy and later, hired someone to help me clean, let the laundry go a little longer, let the phone ring, etc. It has been an ongoing project to balance my studio work with all the other ‘stuff’, but I have figured out how to make it work. I first set myself a strict schedule and actually wrote it out, signed it and posted it. It really helps to write it out and sign it like a real contract. Next, I started my ‘studio log’; a journal where I jot down the date, in/out time and what I accomplished in the studio. I rarely look at this log, but just like the schedule, it helps to write it out on paper. I also had to sacrifice a lot in terms of friends, etc. but what is a little sacrifice when you’re doing the work you were meant to do? It’s not really a sacrifice at all and the people who care about you will totally understand. The ones who don’t..well, who needs them around anyway? There are millions of books and articles about creating boundaries and saying no, but a really fun, easy read specifically for creatives is Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod. A great article called Creative People Say No by Kevin Ashton has been passed around extensively. Last, a super fun blog post by Austin Kleon, the author of Steal Like an Artist, shares humorous ‘NO’ letters by famous creatives. Feel free to share your favorite books and articles on this this subject in the comments section.
  2. Not saying no to poor opportunities. This is sort of a continuation to the last list item, but slightly different. When I graduated from grad school I made a pact with myself that I would say yes to every opportunity that came my way. For emerging artists, I still believe that every opportunity no matter how ‘small’ it seems, may lead to something bigger and it almost always does. You never know who is going to see your show, your talk, your article, etc., and how that could lead to more amazing things. Try to think of an opportunity as a tree with extensions of roots, branches, leaves, flowers, seeds and fruit and you can’t lose. However, as I cross the threshold from emerging to mid-career, I have found that there is a dark side to saying yes to every opportunity and I have learned to weigh my opportunities and appropriately say no to those I feel may not bear fruit. I feel terribly guilty saying no, it brings about fears that once I close one door another will never open again, but that has yet to happen. For me, weighing opportunities always starts with my time and how much of it will be invested vs. my payment in terms of benefits. As I write that last sentence, I’m think it may appear selfish, but I’m older than I was, time is of the essence and it must be very considered in terms of business. Of course, one never knows how an opportunity will reap benefits-again, some of those ‘small’ opportunities do tend to pay back. For this reason, each opportunity is very carefully weighed, researched and deliberated over many days, sometimes weeks. I say no very rarely, but I’m proud to say that I have successfully mastered this simple word on a few occasions.
  3. Selling my work too low too long. Before Internet commerce really took hold, most artists and galleries only had web sites featuring their portfolios and it was rare to see pricing with those portfolios. This made it difficult to compare my prices with a wide range of art and artists and I also didn’t have the benefit of so many helpful blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. Instead, I relied on the advice of other artists, looking at pricing at galleries, art centers, shows, etc, but this was very limiting and a lot of my initial pricing was guess work. There is so much to consider when pricing and I’m not going to discuss formulas or even numbers because they vary so much from artist to artist. What I will say is that my pricing was so low when I started selling with a young gallery that on more than one occasion, my commission on the sale of multiple paintings averaged less than pricing on a print. My heart sank each time I received my check and did the math. By the time I started to make a name for myself and get into better galleries, 2008 reared it’s ugly head and I couldn’t raise my prices then, right? So they stayed pretty much the same for about 8 or 9 years and probably would still be the same if it wasn’t for a wonderful gallerist who kindly, but firmly told me my prices were way too low. This is why it’s so important to always pay attention to your pricing. Make your pricing a significant part of your annual business duties and create a schedule to review them and regularly raise them a certain percentage each time. If you’re looking for pricing advice, there is a ton of it out there, just google it. But make sure you’re reading from a reputable source…I like RedDot Blog for good artist advice, Alyson Stanfield’s Blog is excellent for many art related business topics and if you’re signed up as an artist on Saatchi, their newsletter has helpful selling advice.
  4. Not reading enough. As an artist juggling teaching, studio work and the business of making art, how does one have time to read? Like anything, we have to make time for it. I was such an avid reader when I was young. I constantly had a book in hand and never had to be prompted to settle down to read like other kids at school. In middle school, we had times during the day when the principal would announce over the loud speaker that it was time to drop everything going on in class and read for 30 minutes (I loved when this happened in gym class). So maybe I was a bit of a nerd, but I did love to read and still do. However, as I got older, went to college, started working many jobs-sometimes three at a time, reading became a thing I only did on vacation and eventually only sporadically or not at all. I would still visit libraries, sit on the floor and look at art books for hours, but sitting and reading a book cover to cover was a thing of the past. In my mid-thirties, I got accepted to grad school and had to read as part of my research and the world of reading opened for me once again. I discovered in school that reading is an integral part of my work as an artist, so I made it a habit to carve out a bit of studio time each day to do it. I have a stack of books and periodicals set aside, I set my timer for 30 minutes and settle in to my comfy chair to read. As my students will attest, I believe setting the timer is essential as it creates a beginning and an end, a window of time. For that 30 minutes you don’t have to worry or think about anything else but the task at hand. I know that 30 minutes of reading is nothing to most people, but you would be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a week if you do just a little bit a day. When I think about all the lost time I spent not reading, it only makes me more determined to read everything on my extensive Amazon wishlist. The more I read, the more informed, grounded and expanded my ideas become and the more interesting my work is to make as well as view.
  5. Not becoming a member of the art museum. My humble city of Philadelphia is a great city and we have many awesome museums, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art as one of the best. I have visited the PMA frequently since I was an 18 year old undergrad and have watched the museum grow from really good to truly great. Sometimes I just feel myself drawn to it’s quiet echo, its musty smell and the lovely gardens and river surroundings. Most of all, I’m drawn to the old collections of art and craft. I rarely visit the contemporary sections of the PMA simply because I don’t find much of it inspiring. I want to see color relationships, brush stroke, composition, etc. I want to learn from the Old Masters as they learned. I have many favorite sections and always choose just one to focus my attention per visit. I always bring a sketchbook, but I rarely sketch, most of the time I just sit on a bench for hours trying to absorb it all through my skin. It’s my refuge and a place I can go to consistently be inspired in a vast, quiet space. I sporadically had student memberships as an undergrad, in my late 20’s attending a Continuing Education Computer Course at Moore and again in my 30’s as a grad. It was only after grad school that I realized I couldn’t be without this membership and have consistently been a member since. Being a member not only allows me to visit as much as I want for free, but it also gives me the opportunity to attend lectures, tours, workshops and other events for free or at a discount. It’s like having my own giant house of art and inspiration! My membership also financially benefits the museum and therefore benefits me, so its a win/win. Truly, no artist should be without a museum membership-multiple museums if you can afford it. If you don’t have a local art museum, become a member of the one you frequent most and you’ll soon find yourself visiting and learning more than ever.

Coming up in 2018 is a big change for Art Bite Blog…because this blog has gained so much in popularity this year, I have decided to post twice a month next year. I realize this is nothing compared to what hard core bloggers do, but I truly love sharing and want to share more with you, however, I do need time to paint ; ) Next year, you can look forward to more art tips, demos, curated posts, inspiration and encouragement. To start the year off, January’s posts include my New Year’s Art Resolutions and a story I have only shared in bits and pieces about a few sad years I when I just couldn’t paint and how I got my groove back. I look forward to sharing my story with you.

Wishing you all the very best of this Holiday Season. Thank you so much for reading and supporting this blog, see you soon in 2018!

Inspired by…Lovely Lines

From May to August, I taught eight different workshops in eight different states, from big cites to remote locations where I barely got a cell signal. My favorite thing to do at the end of each teaching day is to treat myself to a walk around the town where I’m teaching and I almost always find something to inspire me. I take pictures of anything that attracts me during these walks and then organize them into folders, which I look at later for inspiration. Always attracted to line in everything I see, I put together this small, but strong, collection from my walks.

MAKERSPACE @ AAC

Abington Art Center (my very local art center) just created a new space within the art center that will be primarily devoted to fiber and fiber related happenings! Here is a little blurb from their web site…

By blurring the boundaries of analog and digital, art and science, traditional and experimental, new ideas have room to grow and develop. Inside our Makerspace, you’ll find 3D printers, laser cutters and computers side-by-side with sewing machines, hot glue guns and saws. Come find your inspiration and bring your ideas to life!

My sewn collages and encaustic paintings are now hanging in the space and as part of the opening, I will be giving a talk on Saturday, April 9, 10am-12pm about my work in fiber. Coffee and other refreshments will be served, so come out and see this exciting new addition to the textile world!

Workshop Highlight: Surface Design & Layers OR Texture & Layers

 

 

Student work from Tyler School of Art, where I teach classes similar in content to this workshop.

Focused workshops allow intensive time for critique, learning, applying and expanding on your current work to not only learn valuable techniques, but to grow exponentially as an artist.

This workshop focuses on the creation of expressive personal surfaces and complex, multi-layered pieces utilizing and in combination with encaustic painting techniques. With an emphasis on mixed media, methods and materials covered in this workshop include the use of organic and geometric form, realistic and abstract imagery, patterned collage, stencils, candy molds, drawing with horse hair, pyrography (creating marks with heated metal and wood burning tools) as well as creating expressive personally designed fabrics and papers utilizing indigo, rust printing, and bleach discharge.

The application of thin layers of encaustic for collage, covering a panel with fabric as well as the conceptual use of layers, pattern and repetition will also be discussed. This workshop is taught from an alternative, experimental approach with daily demos, critiques and discussions of ideas and progress.

See more work from some of my other mixed media encaustic workshops with similar content to Encaustic Surface Design and Layers and Encaustic Texture & Layers here and here. Visit this post for texture and layers inspiration eye candy.

Urban Transformations: An Exploration of Materials & Place

glessnerhirst

Every building, every storefront, seemed to open onto a different world, compressing all the variety of human life into a jumble of possibilities made all the richer by the conjunctions.
–Rebecca Solnit

Who: Jeff Hirst & Lorraine Glessner

jeffreyhirst.com
Jeffrey Hirst, who has both a BFA and MFA in printmaking, has been exhibiting his work since 1987 and has shown extensively across the United States and Europe. Hirst’s work has been shown at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, the McKinney Contemporary in Dallas, Butters Gallery in Portland, Oregon and Arte Internazionale in Matera, Italy. Hirst has taught workshops since 2005 and teaches at venues across the U.S. In 2016, he will teach at Truro Center for the Arts in MA, Collowhee Mountain Arts in NC, Ah Haa School of Arts in CO, R & F Handmade Paints in NY, and Grand Marais Art Colony in MN and also teaches printmaking and encaustic workshops at his Chicago studio. Hirst is the owner of Hirst Printmaking, a printshop and teaching facility where research and exploration in experimental print ideas meld encaustic, printmaking and sculpture. Hirst Printmaking hosts visiting artists who come to Chicago and teach workshops that specialize in painting, printmaking and sculpture.

lorraineglessner.net
Lorraine Glessner’s love of surface, pattern, markmaking, image and landscape has led her to combine disparate materials and processes such as silk, wood, branding, rust, paper and more in her work. Lorraine is an Assistant Professor at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a workshop instructor and an award-winning artist. She holds an MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, a BS from Philadelphia University, and an AAS in Computer Graphics from Moore College of Art & Design. She has a diverse art background with skills that include painting, sculpture, graphic design, interior design, textile design, photography, digital imaging and much more. Among her most recent professional achievements is a Second Place award in Sculpture from Art of the State at the State Museum in Harrisburg, PA, a recently completed artist residency at Jentel Foundation and an acquisition by Kelsey-Seybold Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Lorraine’s work has been exhibited locally and nationally in galleries, craft centers, schools, libraries, universities, and more. Like her work, Lorraine brings to her teaching a strong interdisciplinary approach, mixed with a balance of concept, process, history, experimentation, problem solving and discovery.

What:
Urban Transformations: An Exploration of Materials & Place
Limited to 10 participants! Sign up now!
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
$600 + $65 materials fee

Contact: Jeff Hirst, jeff@jeffreyhirst.com

Rebecca Solnit writes, ‘Cities have always offered anonymity, variety and conjunction, qualities best basked in by walking… A city always contains more than inhabitant can know, and a great city always makes the unknown and the possible spurs to the imagination.’ This workshop begins with a walking tour of Chicago’s Bridgeport section and the area around the Bridgeport Art Center, in which participants will mine the streets through listening, mapping, touching and collecting raw and image based materials from which to work. Working with fabric, wood and paper, participants will experiment with innovative materials, drawing and marks to depict the spirit and essence of the urban environment while also developing a personal artistic voice. Layers of screen printing under and on top of encaustic, rust/copper printing, branding and considerations of the use of the grid as a conceptual as well as compositional tool will also be discussed. Optional individual critiques with both instructors will be offered to all participants.

**Please note that participants should be prepared to spend time outside as well as in the studio. In the event that participants are unable to participate in the workshop walks, participants are welcome to opt out and alternative outdoor creative exercises will be provided.

Where: Jeff Hirst’s amazing new studio in Chicago…Jeff Hirst’s new studio is in the Bridgeport Art Center in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago. The new studio is 1300 sqft and includes a non-toxic printmaking studio specializing in screen printing, intaglio, and experimental printmaking and encaustic work. The Bridgeport Art Center has many artists working within the building and other locations in the neighborhood include the Zhou B Art Center just down the street. The Bridgeport Art Center is a 500,000 sqft building that was a former sewing machine factory and sits on the banks of the Chicago river. The Bridgeport Art Center hosts many events and recently hosted President Obama’s 50th birthday party.

When: September 30-October 2, 2016, 10am-4pm each day

Materials Included: the following is a list of materials provided for the student

  • All encaustic paints, extra medium, tools and equipment
  • Extra encaustic brushes
  • Graphite paper & other misc. drawing media
  • drawing papers
  • Salt
  • Extra rusty objects for printing
  • Brushes for water media
  • Rubber bands/string for shibori
  • Rags/paper towels
  • palettes,
  • branding tools
  • sewing maching/sewing thread
  • solvy
  • Silkscreen frames and mesh
  • All screenprinting equipment
  • Gesso
  • R & F Pigment Sticks
  • Screenprinting inks
  • Encaustic Gesso
  • Unbraced Baltic birch ¼” 8” x 8” panels
  • There will be 10 Iwantani torch heads available in the studio with butane canisters available for purchase for those who are traveling.

What to bring: the following is a list of materials for the student to bring to the workshop

  • Sketchbook/notebook, pencil or pen for note taking
  • Smock (optional)
  • Closed toe shoes for safety in the studio
  • Comfortable walking shoes and light jacket for outdoors
  • Lunch and beverage each day
  • 4-6 wooden painting panels (your preference of 8×8 or 10×10, but no larger or smaller, please) Experimentation is great! You must bring the wooden painting panels, but other suggested substrates are: stiff card, paper, masonite, board, plexiglass, etc. (nothing coated in acrylic or acrylic gesso!!) wooden panels will also be available for sale in the studio during the workshop.
  • 2-4 actual or images of your work
  • 5-10 natural hair brushes in various sizes for encaustic painting (1 brush will be designated your medium brush, so it must be free of color if you are bringing used brushes)
  • a variety of basic encaustic colors will be provided, however, if you prefer certain colors, please bring them. (containers provided)
  • a variety of pigment sticks will be provided, however, if you prefer certain colors, please bring them.
  • sketchbook or drawing paper (again, think experimentation! Bring a variety of papers if possible)
  • drawing media of your choice (pencil, pastel, conte charcoal, oil pastel, Crayon, graphite, felt pen, etc.)
  • any tool or material for any technique that you normally employ while working with encaustic
  • textured objects and/or sharp ended tool for pressing into/incising/writing/drawing into wax.
  • 1 lb encaustic medium (containers provided)
  • package of razor blades (holder optional)
  • decorative stencils, mesh, doilies, etc-anything flat with open areas that can be used as a stencil.
  • rusty metal objects or objects that will rust
  • ½-1 yard, even-weave, white or light colored natural fabric for rust/compost printing and painting. RTD or PFD fabrics are preferred and are available from com. Alternatives are old sheets and/or tshirts that have been frequently washed.
  • Portable sewing machine (optional) (a sewing machine will be available for class use, however, if you can bring one, this would be very helpful) (if you do bring a machine, please bring either black or white sewing thread.)
  • Digital Camera or smart phone or point and shoot camera or DSLR
  • Participants are asked to send 1 jpeg prior to class and once registered, will receive an email about this.

Payment Payment of 50% of the workshop fee + materials ($332.50) is due at the time of registration with the remaining 50% ($332.50) due on the first day of the workshop. Please contact Jeff for payment details.

Cancellation In the event that you need to cancel your workshop, please notify Jeff at least 30 days prior to the start of the workshop and your deposit will be refunded. No refunds will be available for cancellations occurring less than 30 days from the start of the workshop.

Accommodations Hotel recommendations coming soon!

Food There will be no food or beverages served during the workshop, you must bring lunch, snacks and beverages each day. Restaurant recommendations coming soon!

Fabric Pattern & Image 1 Course Final Projects

Alternative Materials Course Final Projects