Building Momentum.

I had the honor (I mean, I paid her, but it was still AN HONOR) of having a private mentorship session with one of my favorite painters, Abbey Ryan. As I continue to explore the direction I am going as an artist and a designer, talking with Abbey was revealing. It is so incredibly helpful to have someone study you and your art and give their objective feedback. I don't know Abbey personally, therefore her opinion is taken without the suspicion she might be feeding my ego, or feeling bored of me, or have any personal stake in the conversation at all, really. I have been craving this. Someone's undivided attention without feeling selfish about taking their time.

The session itself was great. I am left with a lot to process about how I move forward. We talked about the things I requested that we discuss: the process and building a sustainable practice, and my artwork itself. Abbey had a lot of great insight in both areas. If you read a lot about how to cultivate your creativity--which I do--some of the tips can get redundant, but I really felt like I was getting new information from Abbey. I think this is because she understood me and what could work for ME, and because she is a professional painter, and so the advice was speaking directly at who I want to be (or am?). Before our Skype session, I was asked to fill out a very detailed self-assessment, and it was clear that she had spent a lot of time reading and understanding what I had written. She had pointed out things that I was unaware of, such as the language I was using when referring to my art (an "indulgence") and how that may not be the best way to build a sustainable practice. I also have a hard time getting myself into the studio (you know, the one that is 10 feet from my house) because I want to make sure that my WORK work, my REAL work, my DESIGN work, gets done. She suggested I think of the two as equals, but maybe my design work is the first of equals. This was a new way of thinking about it that had not occurred to me before.

We also talked about my work itself, and this was also highly valuable to me. Maybe it is my industrial design education, maybe it is my hardened exterior shell from 10 years of corporate work, I don't know, but luckily I am able to hear a critique about the technical aspects of my work without getting butt-hurt. I'm talking about color palette choices, brushwork, all that good stuff. It is so hard to be outside of a classroom and get that sort of personal feedback, and from someone whose technical capability is undeniable. Please tell me what I am doing wrong, and I will fix it. It didn't seem like much, but I have a lot to chew on. Simple changes can make a big impact on your work, so it will take some time for me to move through the suggestions that she made to see a difference and home in on what works best for me. 

After the session, Abbey sent me a packet of notes from our discussion as well as SO many more notes on moving forward. I feel like I have a painting technique book written solely for ME. I have a lot to process. I am so grateful our paths crossed and that I was able to work with her. 



I've been wanting to get back into oil painting. I used to really love it. I was a student of "plein air painting," or "open-air painting," which is basically when one paints on location, outside. I took a few workshops with a plein air painter a million years ago and really enjoyed it. We would go to Amish farms, beautiful private gardens, and other typical Wisconsin-y places and paint what was around us. We'd start early in the morning, lugging our crap around until we found the perfect view and paint through the day, warming in the sun. It was so lovely.

Another reason I enjoyed plein air painting is because it employs a technique called "alla prima," which means "wet-on-wet," which means I don't have to wait DAYS for the paint to dry in order to build up the layers. You just PAINT that shit. It involves strategies different from other types of oil painting, and I like the instant gratification of having a piece completed in one day.

So anyway. It's been so long. I picked up a book by Richard Schmid called Alla Prima II, which is a fantastic guide to painting and the dude is a total sass-a-frass and I love it. In one chapter, he talks about the importance of making these painting charts, and though it might seem elementary, I effin' did it. It took me forever, but I had to. You just have to do stuff like this sometimes, you guys. ("Beginner's mind" and all that.) It helped get me back into the routine and process.

There are. Twelve. Of these. 

Now that these are FINALLY! complete, I have moved onto other things, which maybe I will write about another time when I feel like it.

Molly Crabapple's Rules for Creative Success.

If you haven't seen it, this article by Molly Crabapple about creative success is worth a read. She makes a lot of good points about not accepting anything less than what you are worth. I have done this to myself at times, offering "friend discounts" and lowering my rates. I realize now that this not only hurts myself, but the creative industry at large. Companies will almost always choose the lowest rate, so if you are not offering a comparable and fair rate for your work, you hurt everybody. The reason some companies don't value design is because there are people offering it at a rate that does not demand the respect deserved for the amount of work put in. So, you know....respect yo bad self. This is your job.

A New Home.

This is my new blog, guys.

Generally, I hope to show you what I'm working on, and what inspires me. I love, love, love to peek in on the creative processes of my favorite designers, so I want to share that part of me with you. I will also throw in a few posts about what is going on in my life with me and my family. Check back soon for more updates to the blog, my website, and all that good stuff.