As I'm doing my usual Friday morning catch-up, it occurs to me that you might be interested in knowing a few things about me. You see me posting my art work fairly regularly on Facebook and my Pepper Portraits blog, but did you know that besides being a completely committed artist, I hold two part time jobs? Winning a few awards and getting published, does not guarantee a regular pay check. Nope, I go months sometimes without a sale. I'm married to a wonderful guy who pays most of the bills, but by no means makes enough money for me to do art 24-7. I have to at least cover groceries and vet bills, which with 2 older dogs and three cats, adds up, believe you me! So I continue to work as a vet assistant in a small animal veterinary practice. I've been working with vets since 2011- started in my 40's and still doing doggy yoga as I near 60. I feel like a thirty year old with no time to get old! My other job is a gallery portrait artist- picture framer -Girl Friday for a lovely little gallery, in a haunted brick building, in the small river town of Milford Ohio. There I teach portrait classes, frame picture, assist hanging shows and whatever else they might need of me.
Looking through reference material, I came across a series of photos taken in Cape May New Jersey and immediately thought "scale of justice." The scale is associated with Anubis. The idea of a guardian protector of the dead, who by weighing the heart, determined a soul worthy of Heaven or Hell, originated with the Egyptians and was later adopted by the Greeks, who named the God Anubis. In this image, two helmet-shaped, Horseshoe Crabs, deemed to be living fossils and estimated to be 450 million years old are held at arm's length by the beautiful yet indifferent young woman, who hides her slight amusement behind dark glasses. The white dress reminds us that our fate is yet to be determined.
Anubis is painted /drawn with Prismacolor pencil French Grays 10%-90%, black Verithin and some solvents. It measures roughly 39.5x 36". The photograph shows up blue at the bottom. This is some kind of reflection that I haven't figured out how to omit. Stay tuned.....
Something I'm working on... Anubis. So far 32"x24" on Crescent Rag mat board with Prismacolor french grays. My ref photos taken in Cape May NJ. I have always been fascinated by Horse Shoe Crabs. They used to litter East Coast beaches, where I spent many happy summers as a kid. Creepy and a little like Darth Vader's helmet, they are ancient. We are a mere aggravation on their long, long, time line. The idea of this figure as Anubis, (you might want to look this up- the god Anubis, often depicted as the scale of justice, decides who gets into heaven or hell,) has been percolating in my head for three years. A disadvantage of a back-burner, (forgive the cooking metaphors- I didn't eat breakfast,) a slow cooked idea, can go many different directions. It can be simple and to the point like a good crusty bread, multilayered like marinara, or tricky like pie crust. Then I get it started on a new piece of board and see possibilities start poking holes and burning the edges of my plans.
Please allow me to toot my horn! "Departing" is accepted into the Manifest Gallery DRAWN exhibit. 36 pieces form 27 artists chosen out of 1188 entries by 394 artists. Opening reception April 17th. This is a big deal for me. Manifest Gallery is an amazing non profit organization that shows and promotes very current work through its publications as well as exhibitions. Acceptance into DRAWN makes me feel relevant. And believe me when I tell you, it has been a long windy road to arrive at this point!!
This is an ancient apple tree that arches over a path to the sea. A much appreciated comment, by an amazing cp artist, Julie Podstolski, described the scene as Narnia. That's all she said, "Narnia." Somehow she got my intent. It is said that there is a strong spirit residing in this gnarly sentry. A study for a larger piece I plan for the future, it comes from one of many reference shots taken this summer, on the Maine property of dear friends. It is painted with Prismacolor and Luminance pencils on linen mat board.
The hardest thing about being a professional artist is sales. If it isn't a custom order, what sells? Does every successful artist consider this when deciding on a subject to paint? After spending the first few years establishing my reputation, should I stick to what works? Should I, in essence, brand myself ? The collector needs to be comforted by a certain predictability, right? He/she needs to "know" me a little before forking over $1000.00. But as an artist how do I continue to be stimulated? I can't do the same thing over and over without becoming stale. How do I explore and challenge myself if I don't step off the path? I guess it has more to do with business plan and intent. Am I an artist who equates success with income or peer accolades or self fulfillment? The answer is a little of all three. Of course I would love to get paid for doing something well. Who wouldn't? But, that is not my first goal. Right now, I wish to create meaningful, well executed images that resonate with one or two (OK, let's be honest here, many) viewers. My style is emerging on its own and continues to evolve. Who knows what it will look like in 10 years. I don't feel I have time to fool around with what sells at this point in my life. There's too much to learn. I hope that along the way, someone likes my art enough to buy it. So much for a business plan. I really don't have one. I just do the art, show it and enter as many competitions as I can afford. When I actually sell something it's fantastic! Go ahead, say what's on your mind."Don't quit your day job," right?
This is a very early work in progress (WIP) of yet another cat. Using Thomas again. This should be fun. My favorite time of year is Halloween. Can you see the broom beginning to emerge? Let's see if I can pull it off. I'm working on 4-ply rag mat- less forgiving than my most recent cats, which were painted on linen mat. I have to be very careful to leave untouched surface for the brightest white. Keeping those areas pristine is difficult when creating large areas of dark. I use the scoring method, which also has draw backs (oo a pun, Get it?). I tried using a liquid mask once, but it was a total bust. Enjoy and be sure to check in from time to time.
Just goes to show ya, art is subjective. When you enter a juried show, it is near impossible to guess which piece might take a ribbon. This little CP painting, a study of my walking park, was entered as an after thought. My other three were passed by, but this took third place! Surprised but still delighted!