1. Most artists have a favorite medium, what is yours? If you work in multiple media, which one is the most enjoyable for you?
If I am painting I prefer oils first then acrylics second best. Drawing and illustrating I love using colored pencils ( I only will use Prisma color) . Recently however I’ve discovered a love for watercolor pencils. They have become invaluable to me when I am out in what I call my “world studio” to draw people and places in my sketch journal. I have found I can make some nice finished work with them. Traditional watercolor not in pencil form, however, I am pretty lame with.
When I don’t have time, supplies or inclination I love playing around in my various digital art programs.
Mixed media has become more important to me; either in ATC form or larger canvas art. My favorite thing is to use flat back “bling” that are typically used in scrap booking and Mardi Gras beads. Anything that will give extra dimension to color and shape in the paintings I use. Whatever I have handy actually. Glitter, wire, dryer lint, paper products, baked polymer clay, beads, etc.
The little whimsical sculptures I do are always polymer clay and painted with acrylic.
2. Do you have any secret shortcuts? I mean, do you use odd tools, techniques, or anything else that isn’t strictly status-quo for your medium? How did you figure out that it worked?
One of the oldest and most favourite odd short cuts/techniques I use is to blend my colored pencils. Grumbacher’s Fixative is sprayed on something small and absorbent but sturdy ( such as small bit of tightly rolled cotton cloth )to rub over the pencil. It makes effects one sees in paint. How I found it worked was by being excessive with it when spraying over colored pencil drawing back when I was a teen. It pooled of course and made the color bleed.
3. You’ve sold work before? What was the first thing someone bought from you, that you made? How did it feel to sell that piece? Are there pieces you keep hidden away, or keep for yourself, and why?
Yes I’ve sold my work. I believe my first official art sale was when I was either sixteen or seventeen. It was our local hair stylist in the small swamp town I lived in. She wanted a portrait of her daughter for a memorial library in town at the private school. Her daughter passed away from drowning at an early age; about three or four. The woman has only this one faded photo of her from the sixties. Nothing else. I painted it in oil. The drawing was painstakingly slow because I was nervous and wanted to honor this child as best I could. I breathed life into her. The first thing my client did was clap a hand over her mouth and left the room crying. It had touched her so much. Later she confessed to me she had almost forgotten what the daughter really looked like. That was truly inspiring and emotionally touching to me. I will never forget that reaction and experience.
As to what art I have hidden or keep to myself? I have a few drawings, mixed media pieces and such that I use for imagery work. To help manifest the reality that these images portray. With some exception no one sees them. They live in my studio on a small alter I have or travel with me in a special sketchbook so I can look at them all of the time.
I used to have some paintings that depicted very dark and troubled times for me. I couldn’t part with them but also I couldn’t stand to look at them. I have since then destroyed those.
4. Working with people is sometimes the hardest part of art. How do you deal with (commission requests/demanding tattoo clients/bad art ideas/people asking if you have a real job)?
I was always shy and awkward working with clients or potential clients most of my professional life until recently truly. The past 5 or so years my confidence and self assurance is steady enough where I can sell myself much better.
I love getting commissions really. In fact I want more than I get. I love it now more than I used to because I have finally allowed myself the luxury of only doing the style of art I like and genres/themes I prefer. My background professionally was in advertising and doing more mundane portrait work. Where it may had paid my bills and let me be known a bit…it was never satisfying. I would rather wait for the client who likes what -I- do and ask for preexisting art or commission something that fits my style.
As afore mentioned, the advertising/commercial art field is fraught with bad art ideas, doing things you have no passion for or just plain don’t like. I used to think doing “crap” was part of the job of doing commissioned work. I don’t anymore. If they don’t want my style and ask for something completely out of my range, then I refuse politely . I ALWAYS tell anyone even thinking of getting something from me to look through my published art. If they are offended by what I do or just don’t “get it” then they aren’t going to be my client. Pure and simple.
The whole “what is your real job” question has thankfully been non existent now because of where I live. People in New Orleans see art as a legitimate job too and never say such things. In the past of course, I used to just smile and say such things like” I am a professional artist. This IS what I do for a living.” The answer of saying I worked on street corners didn’t always go down so well…or worse, they believed me.
5. What jobs did you have before you started arting? You don’t have to list them all- but were any particularly awful, or interesting? Did those jobs influence the way you approach your art now?
I’ve always been an artist as far as profession truly. I considered other vocations the part time work to supplement my art habit. I’ve done everything from work in a mortuary to working with horses in a stable for carriage tours. The funeral home work was even artistic. I helped do the make up for the deceased. I can only think of three truly mundane jobs that had nothing to do with being creative. The stable work; working in a small café doing everything from register work, waiting, some baking and clean up; surveying shoppers in a mall.
These jobs truly helped me learn how to handle people. Talk to strangers and be able to sell things. I have always not liked “selling” things. It made me feel like I was bugging people.
6. How long have you been working in (the favorite medium you named)? Do you think there are any new ideas in that field that are worth pursuing? for example, 3d printing for sculpture/assemblage, rotary machines for tattooing, digital work for painting, etc
I started oil painting at age fourteen when my Mom bought me this cheap little set of paints and brushes. I was horrid at it at first. I didn’t even know how to use them. It was this glompy mess done too quickly and I wasted a lot of paint. ( I wasn’t aware of what the linseed oil was for). Colored pencils is something I’ve used since I was a little kid, around eight or so. Those hold a warm place in my heart. It was because my first set was from my Grandfather who was an exceptional but uncelebrated folk artist from Ohio.
I am a lot more open to new techniques with classic tools then I used to be.
7. How do you feel about using projectors, tracing, and photographs as reference for your work? Do you use these? Do you think it’s cheating if you use your own sketches or photographs to start out with? And, what do you think of camera obscuras, camera lucidas, and other optical aids like grids, for perspective and proportion?
First off save for outright stealing someone’s artwork and calling it your own, this idea that any tool
you use to make the end results to be as you wish it is “cheating” is just stupid. The classic masters used models, tracings, even other people to do most of the work for them. The ends justifies the means in art. There is no such thing as right or wrong. I truly detest that high and mighty idea.
Yes, I drawn from life, photographs, used tracing paper, traced on the computer, reworked my own photos and art work on the computer. It is what your vision is , is what makes it artistic integrity wise. I can draw “from scratch” and out of my head as well. I do whatever works and what I have the time for.
How our talent manifests isn’t what makes someone an artist. Whether you can paint like Da Vinci or Pollock, take photos like Ansel Adams or illustrate like Peter Grundy
Isn’t the point. What makes one an artist is how they see the world around them and interpret it.
The tools to help photos come out as your mind’s eye sees it as well isn’t cheating or taking short cuts in my book either. Be it raw as is works or manipulated. It all matters.
8. Have you taken any formal art classes? Have you had a mentor help you? Do you have “spirit artists” to guide you? (artists, living or dead, who you do not personally know, but to whom you look for inspiration or answers)
I don’t have one degree in art. I took many classes off and on through out my youth. Everything from the art instruction schools correspondent courses as a teen, high school art class then on to various college courses in an actual school or on line at home. I don’t have an alphabet behind my name. I used to care about having a BFA or some such like that, thinking it would make me noticed and taken seriously by gallery owners and jurors in shows. In the end, I don’t care anymore about such. I am thankful for all the lessons I had. I learned much between formal schooling and figuring it out on my own. I grew as an artist in my teens by watching Bob Ross, copying other artists as well.
I had one “official” mentor in Charleston SC when I was trying to leap from commercial art into fine art. What he taught me was invaluable and not about art. His art lessons just comprised of telling me to “draw everything”. He’d look over my things every week and critique, help out rough spots. All of that was great though what he truly taught me was how to be a whole person. We talked more about religion, philosophy and health then art some times.
I have tons of “spirit artists”. How can one not? I spent most of my time watching movies about artists to learn what NOT to do when it came to their lives and careers. I got inspired by their passion and talent…and took the warnings of their self destructive behavior.
I may want to be as noted and celebrated as Van Gogh, Khalo , Pollock and Basquiat but I don’t want to end up as they did. My spirit mentors are more a cautionary tale.
9. Do you make prints or reproduce your work? Do you like galleries? Do you hang your art in bars or coffee shops? How do you feel about public exposure to your work? Does it make you nervous to be in a spotlight, or do you enjoy it?
I make some prints. Not nearly enough. Oddly enough that is the one thing that makes me the most nervous. I take part in many print on demand sites but honestly I am rather disenchanted with those. They may make it easier for me for overhead costs and it is convenient but it seems to me very few collectors like that and I get pretty much next to nothing for them. To this day I don’t even think anyone has bought one from them. I do think having prints is valuable but I become anxious about where to get them and quite frankly costs.
Am I cheap? I like to think frugal. I still have anxiety and hang ups about my money and my art career. I like galleries.
However my like of galleries stems from teen fantasies of what it is like to be a “real artist”. I used to think if I didn’t show in one I was a no one. Not worth someone’s time. I grew to be a bit of an elitist snob about it. I became the very thing I loathed when I ran across those Bourgeois Gallery owners and administrators that made my skin crawl. Pretension is passé’. I am pretty much done with trying to be that and catering to people like that.
However, that doesn’t mean I dislike galleries. Just finding the right one is essential. There are enough cutting edge places that care about the art and not giving a damn about an established “name” alone.
When I show outside of the internet I show wherever I am able to at that time. I have a collection of figurines that sell in one French Quarter shop. I’ve shown in coffee houses, restaurants, government buildings , open air markets, festivals, etc.
I had gotten over being shy or feeling like I am not good enough to show publicly. Occassionally I get nervous or anxious/depressed I won’t sell or even be liked. That may never go away. Honestly I am a lot less confident at times then I appear to be. I market my things ALL of the time. I network, shmooze, talk talk talk..blah blah to everyone I meet but it is a cover for me. Very few believe it but I am an introvert and can be very shy and self conscious. Frankly if I could have my fantasy come to life about just producing the art and let some smooth talking, sharp dressed PR ,Agent like person sell ME…then I’d be just fine with that.
Adulation and being recognized used to make me a nervous wreck. One exhibition that I had more than one piece in this small gallery in Indiana I hid. I didn’t let people know I was the artist until I was called out and made to talk to them!
I keep telling myself now, be the rock star! Enjoy it. Fame is something I want but not because it will make me feel I am better than I really am. I just want the comfort of an established career to pay my bills and actually enjoy life instead of it being a hand to mouth stressful ball of tediousness.
10. If you earn your living with art, how many hours a week do you work? Counting research, sketching, cleaning up, framing, promotion, etc. Do you think you get paid a decent wage for this? Do you think it matters, as long as you’re enjoying the work?
Wow. Just thinking about all I actually do when it comes to my “work” when asked this made me feel like I am underpaid! Roughly estimated I spend approximately eight to twelve ( twenty-four if insomnia hits) doing my “business”. I often feel bad for not being in the production phase of making the actual art as much as I’d like. Promotion and presentation of me as a brand takes a lot of my time.
Would I like more? Hell yes. I need it. I’ve been trying to give myself a raise for years now. Also, wouldn’t it be lovely to hire an assistant to do the more mundane tasks. Like looking for the perfect price to ship paintings and such.
Be that as it may and as frustrating as it is and feeling at times I am not acknowledged for all the work it takes to do what I do, I’d not ever trade this in for anything else. I’d do it for free..hell…a lot times I am. I must love this then.
11. When you began with (favorite medium), what was the hardest thing to learn?
Patience. Oil paint takes a patient hand. It is very tedious medium at times. It takes time to allow layers to dry to a point you can add more or do detail work…
Also it taught me to be more assertive and choosy with what I paint.
12. When you began making art, what was the hardest thing to do? What mistakes did you make? Do you have pictures of any of those mistakes you can share? How did you solve that problem?
For me the hardest thing was being patient. I was over eager to see the finished process or at least what my mind’s eye saw. It wasn’t always the outcome I wanted out of working too quickly with the medium I wanted. Later on as I was first trying digital art I made plenty by taking short cuts. Anatomy had always been my Achilles heel and still is at times. However I think that it is more the fear I can’t do realism is more the problems then actually not getting it right. Those short cuts and I am sure pure laziness made some awful looking things. I can share some yeah, why not humiliate myself !
Most of my mistakes as I said came from impatience and not knowing the medium. Time , practice, patience and enjoying the process is what helped .
“Embarrassing crap “
13. Do you have a site where you sell your work? which site, and how do you like it?
I have a few. Used to have a lot, trying pretty much everything I came across through art magazines and on line. Fortunately I got pickier and more selective. Helps to know how to promote better as well. I sell mostly on Etsy, my own website and through face book. I have a Blomming site but it seems to be pretty stagnant. I recently put a profile on See.Me for promotional help. I have an ArtWanted portfolio and always keep it to store work on line. Etsy and Facebook have been my best sellers.
14. Anyone you want to give a shout-out to? One or two names only…
John Carrol Doyle,( http://www.johncdoyle.com/) my mentor from the eighties. His lessons have never been forgotten.
15. When you aren’t working, what are you doing with your time? Do you have any hobbies that are totally apart from your creative work, or does your art tend to creep in to your recreation time?
The ONLY things I do that don’t include my art are gardening and movie watching. I am a huge movie buff and it is my downtime. Gardening is something that helps my brain unwind and gets me the kind of food I want. It is rare though not to be thinking about art in some fashion. Be it on the stressful side of business or the purely creative side of..” Oh…I wonder how that tree would look painted” there is always something. Especially when I have my “days out”, which normally means I am at the bookstore café reading through art mags and drawing people.
Email contact: TheBlackTulipStudio@hotmail.com
Blomming : http://www.blomming.com/mm/TheBlackTulipFineArtStudio/items
The Black Tulip Studio