Monday, June 30, 2014

New Work and Inspiration!

A couple weeks ago, I taught a class of fourth graders at a local elementary school where one of my best friends teaches.  While I don't typically teach classes, I had a really good time flexing those muscles and ended up being inspired by these kids!  Being that it was the end of the year, I tried to keep it light on the lecturing so we could get to the actual painting.  I taught about three kinds of painting: Abstract, impressionism, and realism, and then the kids got a chance to practice one of those for themselves.
Last night, my friend Natrisha came over with a bunch of thank you cards from the kids, and one of them even gave me their piece that they created, which had me totally floored on the day I taught.  You can see it in the picture above, it's an abstract sunrise.  How cool is that?!  I love the geometric shapes and his use of color...this kind of brilliance belongs in a gallery!  Aren't kids so creative?!  Nothing else hampering their creative spirit, no fear, nothing holding them back!!!

Cottage on the East End, oil on linen, 12"x36"

As for me, this is my latest piece, a fun Cayman cottage that I did using both brush strokes and palette knife.  Palette knife is a lot of fun, as they are basically just dull knives in different shapes and are designed to pick up a lot of paint.  It forces you to paint more quickly and less meticulously than with a brush, so the appearance is more about the color impact and less about detail, although do not be fooled, you can get plenty of gorgeous detail.  My inspiration to begin painting, Howard Behrens, was a palette knife artist.

Lastly, in my spare time this past week, I started a project as a gift for my mom.  While I can't divulge what it is quite yet, it involves sewing and cutting fabric.  I'm no seamstress, so while this is already considered a challenge, it's even more so when your dog decides to lay on the fabric.  Look how unfazed she remains as I attempt to make cuts.  The end result?  A dog shaped pattern as I finally just had to cut around her.  I'd move her, but she's just so cute!!!!

Hope you all have a GREAT fourth of July week and enjoy some awesome fireworks!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Art Scam

About once per year, I get an email regarding a classic art scam.   The other day, I was thinking about how it's been about a year since one of these emails has come across my inbox, and wouldn't you know, the next morning, I wake up to one waiting for me.

While many of you coming across this are not artists, I think it's important to make mention of this in my weekly blog in case anyone is googling an email address and is curious about whether or not someone is legitimately interested in their work or if it truly is just a scam.

They often go by different names, but in this case, his name was Barry Dominican (Ha!  What a name.  Hi, I'm Bob American.  What, my name doesn't sound real?!) and his email is from a legit gmail address, mrbdominican1@gmail.com.  The email goes as follows:

Hi,My name is Barry Dominican.  
I lived and worked in Hawaii for 21years.I'm in the process of moving to Germany 
to expand my business field.  
I just bought a house there and I'm interested in collecting some artworks for some spaces within my house to make it unique and beautiful.  
Can I have a few images of your recent works?  
I won't mind having your website so as to explore more into your works.I look forward to hearing back from you soonest.

Notice the good, but not great English and how generic his email is?  Also, note that he's moving...another classic red flag.  Of course, just to weed him out, I oblige him, and give him info about the pieces he is interested in (usually whatever couple of titles he chooses to grab off of your website, attempting to seem even more legit).  And then, it comes out:

Glad to hear back from you and thanks for the details.  

The price is okay by me and I'm interested in the immediate purhcase.
Could you send me your full name as you want it written on a check and
your mailing information so that I can have my company cut out a check to you.
You don't have to worry about shipment, my Mover will handle it.
I hope this goes well with you.
Till I hear again from you.

Two big red flags.  Number one, he wants to send a check.  Classic, classic red flag! They often will overpay, and ask for a refund for the overpayment.  Meanwhile, you're transferring money to their untraceable account and the check he sends you bounces.   Number two, they have a mover pick up your stuff.  Obviously, they don't want you to have any info on them besides an untraceable email account, routing number, and fake name.  The movers never come, and you are scammed out of your money.

If you are reading this, do not give out your contact info!

So what do you do if you get an email like this?  You can always just delete it, but if you aren't sure, first, explain that you only accept PayPal or some other method of secure payment.  Second, explain that you do your own shipping and that you need his physical address.  Whether you choose to explain that it's because you smell a rat is your choice!  Either way, I haven't heard back from the usually quick responding Barry in over 24 hours.  I'm shocked!  Kiddddiiiiing.

Anyway, again, I realize that this isn't necessarily relevant to everyone reading, but thought it was really important to put this guy's contact info out into the world so other artists do not get duped and end up losing out on their hard earned money.  Not to mention how incredibly disappointing it is to think that someone wants your work and then actually doesn't.  Talk about getting upset and temporarily raising the blood pressure!  I know I need to stop and pray for these guys, although my human instincts sometimes take over, wanting to find them and wring their necks instead.  Serenity now!  Ha!

Hope your weekend went swimmingly (I say that as a pun as I got to go to the pool TWICE this weekend!), and that your Monday is filled with ethical, kind, and well-meaning people (aka, no art scammers!).

Until next week!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Inspirational Blog!

Where I dream to be some days!

In life as well as in business, there are good days and bad days and days in between.  Since painting is my full time job, I relish any business wisdom I can get, especially when it comes from those who have made their way through the art world.  Maria Brophy manages her husband's art career in which he paints surf boards.  His work is really fun and they have utilized a lot of different tactics to get his work out there.  

I really enjoy reading Maria's blog, and so I've reprinted an especially inspirational one about how to avoid tolerating the negatives in our lives that can weigh us down.  This is great for artists and non-artists alike, which is why I've chosen to share it here!  Hope you enjoy!

Reprinted from Maria Brophy.com, a blog that helps creative entrepreneurs design the career and lifestyle of their dreams.  Visit at http://www.MariaBrophy.com - See more at: http://mariabrophy.com/stuff#sthash.dE8Mlnzy.dpuf

Tolerations weigh us down; they keep us stuck and prevent us from getting on with our life and moving forward.” Peggy Porter

I stumbled upon a great article by Peggy Porter about how tolerating big and little things in our lives can drain us of our good energy and keep us from moving forward.

It reminded me of a decision I made a few years ago not to tell nay-sayers my big dreams

I grew tired of people telling me that I “can’t” do something.  The final straw was when a close friend, a chronic naysayer of anything good, attempted to crush a dream of mine.
I had enthusiastically told her about my wild idea to create a television show based on the happenings in the surf art studio of my husband, Drew.
You’ll never get a show going about Drew.”  The naysayer said, cooly.
But other people do it, even a skateboarder who’s still in high school.  Why not us?”  I said, defending my idea.
Because you don’t know anything about tv.  You don’t even know anybody in Hollywood.”  The naysayer rested her case.
She almost had me.  There was a split second where I agreed with her – what the hell did I know about producing a television show?  Who in the world did I think I was?
But then I came to my senses, and I made two decisions:
1.)     To stop spending time with naysayers; and
2.)     To only share my big ideas with people who think big
Being the stubborn Slovakian that I am, I refused let her get me down.  I began a three and a half year quest to get my show on the air.  Now, The Paint Shop is enjoyed by 3.5 million households, and that number grows every day.
There are roadblocks and attitudes that we should never tolerate, if we are to be happy, thrive and do what we were meant to do in life.
It’s easy for people to get under our skin, put us down, and convince us that we aren’t good enough to carry out our dreams.  After all, we have our own doubts, anyway.  It’s hard enough convincing ourselves.
Below is my list of the top offending tolerations and roadblocks to happiness and success.
NEGATIVE PEOPLE:  It’s very important to clear out the negative people from your life.  Their feelings and thoughts are contagious. Your life is too precious to pollute it that way.
If you have family members that you love that are negative, than limit your time with them.  You can still care about them and check in with them every now and again, but keep it to a minimum.  That way you can’t be affected by their darkness.
MISERY:  Unless you are a certified Psychiatrist, you can’t help people if they aren’t willing to help themselves.  You know that friend of yours that always has things going wrong?  Deep down inside she enjoys the drama.  Don’t get sucked into it.
DREAM CRUSHERS: These are the people who stomp your new ideas!   They may be well meaning, but they don’t know what they are talking about.
Be polite, but replace your time with them and spend it instead with like-minded folks who will uplift you and your ideas and who want to see you grow.
COMPLICATED LIVING:  Don’t tolerate being shackled to big bills for materials things that don’t matter.  Over-extending yourself keeps you from getting the real gold.
There are big things you want to do with your life!  Write that book, produce that video, take a year to explore Italy.
If you have a large mortgage or car payment, and you over-spend, you are not in a position to take risks where it really matters; investing in doing what you love.
It’s easier to take risks when you have less to lose. Keeping your expenses and your obligations to a minimum allows you to be open to doing that which is important to you.
My big project this year is our television show.  It is actually costing us money to get this on the air.  Production costs are very expensive, and until we get picked up by a major network, we are footing the bill (with some help from sponsors).
If we had a large mortgage, a swanky art studio space and big expenses, we wouldn’t be in a financial position to take a risk with this project.
By keeping our expenses low and not spending like crazy, we are able to take the risk to invest in our future without starving.
JUDGEMENT:  Don’t tolerate being judged by others.  You are perfect just the way you are, skinny legs and all.  There are 6 billion people on this planet, and we all have a different point of view.
At the same time, allow others to have their own opinion and accept it, even if you don’t understand it.  You will form tighter relationships with family, customers and neighbors taking this approach.
ROADBLOCKS:  Tolerating roadblocks can really slow us down – some are big, some are small.  Examples of roadblocks are:
  • Using outdated equipment that causes inefficiency;
  • A broken lightbulb, making it hard to see in your workspace;
  • Lacking technical knowledge on how to get something done but putting off learning it;
  • Keeping a bad employee, accountant or attorney that you can’t get the nerve to “fire”;
  • An old website which looks like it was designed when Pat Benetar was popular!
Make a list of all of the roadblocks that are keeping you from getting things done, from being efficient or doing the best you can in your life, and then one-by-one, eradicate them!  You will be energized and free for more growth.
So I have to ask you, what have you decided to stop tolerating in your life? Please, share in the comments!
Maria xxoo
- See more at: http://mariabrophy.com/philosophy/stop-tolerating-what-holds-you-back.html#sthash.saP3ihXC.dpuf

Monday, June 9, 2014

Animal Planet

In the art world, some weeks are crazy with events, meetings, etc., and other weeks are for keeping your nose down in your canvas, or the less savory administrative work.  This week was a mix of keeping the business up to date as well as actual painting.  I am finishing up a couple of embellished giclees, another "Capitol Glow," and one of the cherry blossoms that I did about a year or so ago.  It was funny to compare my last original of the Capitol that I completed against the Capitol Glow giclee, the original is a 24"x36", which is a pretty decent sized painting, but it looks so small in comparison to the giclee, which is a 32"x48".  Either way, I love painting big pieces, whether it's the original or an embellishment!  

In other news, I've come to find that my boxer has learned new ways of getting my attention.  In the past, she's basically just howled at me like a wookiee from Star Wars.  Once she realized that I found it more amusing than attention grabbing (usually I respond to the noise with, "She said what to you?  Stop.  I can't believe it!"), she has decided to get in between me and whatever I'm doing, especially if I'm having an administrative day.  It's almost like she senses how I'd rather be at the canvas (or playing with her). 

I attempted to sit on the floor to keep her company.  It's like she instantly knew I was on gchat instead of staying on task, which meant I must have time for a walk!

Sitting on the couch instead of on the floor, followed by 11 year old dog jumping on the couch, hovering over the computer on my lap.

 In my household, we have a rule that we don't really seek out getting animals, but we won't turn away one that ends up on our doorstep.  That's how I got a cat when I was a child, that's how we adopted our neighbors dog in high school, and how we ended up with Wrigley.  So come to my surprise when I'm eating lunch with my husband, that we see a bright green bird on our deck.  This was no ordinary native bird.  This was a pet parakeet.  Given that a pet parakeet in the Mid-Atlantic has the survival skills of a pomeranian in the wild, we spent several hours capturing it, and taking it to various shelters until someone would take it.  For the first time, we didn't take in the animal on our doorstep, but does a bird really count?!  He was so cute, but it was obvious our pup was getting jealous of the attention we were bestowing upon it, and it was obviously someones pet!  Thanks to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter for having a cage on hand and taking him in.  We named him Tom Haverbird, after Tom Haverford, our favorite character on the hit NBC show Parks and Recreation.

Makeshift bird cage = Amazon box with holes poked through.  See Tom trying to break out above.

Okay so that's about it for this odd week of animals and embellished giclees.  Hope you are having a great Monday and enjoying the gorgeous weather!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Framing Fun

So the fun for this week is less about painting and more about framing!  Since I think that a frame is to art what jewelry is to an evening gown, I needed a little assistance in being able to pick out the right frame for a painting, for both myself and for customers.  Cue this frame kit, which includes a ton of samples of various widths and colors.  Gone are the days of holding up my paintings to a computer screen or dragging wet paintings off to a frame shop.  Woo hoo!  I've used it already and  it's been absolutely wonderful!

It comes with a travel bag, so if you ever need any assistance in picking out a frame, let me know!!!

Hope you are having a happy Monday and that you enjoy the heat this week.  I love hot weather so I will be certainly enjoying this!