As many of you are already aware, I have been working on my third book this year. This time, instead of working alone, I have been working collaboratively with others. Working in this way brings me so much pleasure. Plus the bonus of constant email and follow-up with a diverse and interesting array of women!
I never feel alone! Ever.
Collaborative work is extremely different from the work I do to make my paintings come alive—where I spend hours alone with brush, color, and wood surface listening to countless books on tape, Podcasts, talking on the phone, or streaming music via Spotify. Working collaboratively has also forced me to be very much more aware of how I organize my time and information—two things all small business owners must attend to.
Somehow the balance of the two different kinds of work—collaborative vs. solo—are just the perfect fit for me!
I got to this place of joy in my work by constantly working, trying new things, asking friends and fellow artists, and then even hiring help. A few years ago I went through some art business coaching, and my wise coach said to me:
I kinda think your happiness is—not making your fine art in the studio alone. I get the sense you need to work more collaboratively on everything. — Alyson B Stanfield
It’s great when someone can reflect back at you what you might already know about yourself, but are not quite paying attention to!
The Shhh Book mock-up. The book will be in publication sometime later this year.
I hear you Alyson! This year, even with the horrid pandemic in the background, I have been 100% in the zone, on top of my game, and thoroughly enjoying my work. When I look back at the most exciting times in my life, they have often been when I work in collaboration with others. I have loved every construction project I have worked on because there is a team of people to collaborate with. I love co-teaching and cooperative school projects. I love creative projects where everyone’s input makes for a better process, even if the end results are somewhat wonky.
While we continue to endure the pandemic and the resulting stay-at-home and soon to be go out, but slow and with different rules orders, I urge you to look at how you can work collaboratively even while social and physical distancing. Interaction with others makes for healthier living—even if we need to use Zoom.
Stay well friends. I can’t wait to bring you more news of The Shhh Book. I am so close, and yet as we know birthing a project is a ton of hard work right at the end!
If you’d like to receive more frequent updates from me, and insiders Studio Visits, please consider joining me on Patreon. Patreon works sort of like a subscription to a favorite magazine, with perks.
I use a Mead Recycled paper notebook that I buy in bulk from Amazon for my daily morning writing. Heaven forbid I run out, or the product gets discontinued, I’d be devastated! In 2019 I filled 11 notebooks—almost one per month.
While doing daily writing I also emptied 3 BIC pens! You cannot imagine the thrill I get when I run out of ink! I love BIC because I can see the inside tube of ink. 😉
In fact I have published 2 IGTV films of the momentous occasion of ink running out!!! LOL Links below.
I also ran out of ink this morning recording the vivid dreams I had during the night. I was so busy writing that I was unable to capture the ink running out!
Writing helps me to develop my ideas so they and I feel more grounded, I literally develop roots, and sprout—nothing helps me to feel more me than my morning writing and daily painting. Join me on Patreon to learn more about the work I make and share.
Hello. I really hope that you are healthy and coping with our new global reality. Times are _________________ (I graciously allow you to fill in the blank with your own word or expletive!). Ok, now that you have gotten this off your chest, let me ask you, what does it mean to you to simplify ones life? Is simplifying to find calmness even possible under our current circumstances? Maybe. Let’s explore.
In its most basic form to simplify means to make things easier. Certainly to live easier is a worthwhile practice and for piece-of-mind these days. But how do we arrive at a simplification of daily life? Especially when everything about life is not the same as it was a few weeks ago.
As a creative, and someone that has spent hours upon hours alone making work, I have a few ideas about simplification and remaining calm. Because, you see, to get to the core of my voice creatively I need to clear away extraneous noise and ideas. My work needs to be simply my own in order to be most truthful and honest. I am compelled to attempt to share with you the importance of moving our mindset to simple moments as well as living with more simplicity to invite a calmer mind.
I will start with the idea of a single weed. One weed. What does it take to remove one weed from the ground? Let’s get down and dirty. Following is a basic narrative of how to pull a single weed in the yard and how we can seek simplicity in a single weed. Let’s begin. I go outside and walk into the yard. I see the weed. The one among many that must be pulled, right now. I bend down, I grab the sucker as close to the dirt as possible, allowing the dirt to gather in my fingernails as needed. I’ll squeeze on that special spot on the plant between the weed that is showing above ground and the roots of the weed that hold it in place underground. Once my fingers find that sweet spot and I am sure I have a firm grip, I pull. As the weed begins to release from the soil, I may reposition my fingers a little lower on the root to get more traction. Then I pull with a bit more force while also making sure to wiggle my arm just so… so that the whole root pulls loose from the dirt, thereby not leaving room for the darn ting to regrow in the same spot from a small root part that remains under the soil. For the duration of time it takes to perfectly pull one weed my mind is fully occupied on the task at hand. There is no room for noise, because if I do then a few things may happen. I find myself holding leaves and not the whole weed, or there are prickers in my skin from the plant that are now hurting the tips of my fingers, or I hear the pop of the root breaking underground and now I know that this root will soon grow back stronger. One moment. All we need to do these days is live in one moment at a time pulling our own internal and external weeds. We can only do our best. If the last moment was not our best, we have the next moment to try again. When we live totally and completely in the moment life is at its simplest.
I have 2 things to share to allow you to expand upon this idea of simplifying.
First, an article that I found at least 2 years ago (and forgot to share with you, but I am now) that seems even more pertinent today, centered around the idea of simplifying one’s life. A link to the article is here.
Secondly, I am sharing a coloring book page. My thought is this, I have art from a few years ago that I can share, and I am happy to give you a gift for allowing me to be in your email box every month.
If you would like to get a coloring book page more often then please join me on Patreon. Every Sunday I will share a new coloring book page—fun for adults and appropriate for kids. Coloring is a proven way to relax ones mind and find a calmer existence. We all need calm right now. Coloring is simple, just you the paper and crayons, marker, or colored pencils.
I wish for the world to be a kinder and gentler place. I wish for all people to be treated equally, or at the very least valued in equal measure.
My wish is to connect with women who want to change the status quo.
I wish for women to bear witness to each others stories so that healing and change can begin.
My obstacle is my introverted nature.
I’d really rather be alone painting, writing, and generally enjoying solitude. However, I realize that connection and change can only happen when people connect with one another. That’s what lead me to watch the following TEDx talk. If Isolation is a dream killer, then what is the solution?
For me, connection happens through research and painting and writing—all jumbled in my own private universe. Imagining utopia of my own creation. Maybe you see this in the work I create? Maybe you think I ought to get out more and interact with the world?
I am strangely grateful for this time with the COVID-19 self isolation recommendations. At the same time, I honestly hope this does not last a long time and I hope that the spread of the disease becomes less and less furious.
Ok, either way—staying in or going out. I know that connection outside of my internal world—will move me closer to my dreams and wishes—eventually! What is your wish and what is the obstacle? Can I help? If not me, then who?
These are such great questions! Let’s reach out and continue to help one another from the phone, internet, and text messaging. Sending my prayers and love into the world.
What are the steps to painting? Draw. A lot. Draw for months and months in my sketchbook. That is always where the work begins—in a sketch (or a collage). Then, there is so much more that goes into a single painting.
Plan. Plan. Plan.
Colors—and the reasons for the colors I choose.
Support surface (paper or cradled wood panel, I rarely use stretched canvas)
Mix paint colors, plan with a color chart (but not always).
Prepare the surface, I tape all the edges and back to keep the panel clean and free of stray paint. Ultimately this is better for the walls of my collectors!
Take the sketches to larger scale. There are several different ways that I do this using technology + low tech methods and/or my drawing skills.
Decide on what patterns to use and why (always the why, nothing is arbitrary).
Practice patterns on a separate sheet of paper in the appropriate colors until I know it will work.
Begin the base layer of paint, make changes to colors if something does not work according to plan.
Work on one color at a time. This is due to the type of paint I use and the properties of the paint.
Photograph frequently and check values using iPhone mono/black and white mode. Adjust colors as needed.
I sometimes wonder if I ought to be testing colors in Photoshop or illustrator first, but so far I use my years of color knowledge, but mostly my gut to make the choices.
The patterns come last, working on one shape and color at a time. Mindful to leave areas with no patterns.
Photograph frequently to check of the effect I am looking for is working. In the days before digital photography we used to squint to check work, use a mirror, view the work upside-down and other hilarious methods—to blur the edges and take the work in through a different visual lens. I still do much of this “testing.” Digital photography is a game changer adding yet another way to test what I am sharing visually.
I leave areas of flat paint, these are important to the message and the viewer eye fatigue. Flat areas also help compositionally.
Occasionally use Posca markers for very fine details in the patterned areas.
Photograph and look to see if any areas need additional pattern detail. Fix as needed.
Photograph again and check for completeness or worse, the over-worked art! Fix.
Complete the work only after a minimum of a 2 day “rest” — I literally turn the art around in my studio and start a new painting.
Finish the back—name, year, title, materials used, size, and any other details.
Finish the edges—typically a wood varnish to protect the wood from drying out or changing color.
Document the work in Artwork Archive and on my backup hard drive and website.
Write a blog about the work.
Add the work to select projects that are in the works.
This feels oh, so wonderful! Ten people believe in my work enough to pay me just a little (or a lot) every month to help me to keep creating and sharing my content.
Ten is a big number, 20 is my goal for 2020!
As an MFA trained artist and author I make work expressing ideas from deeply private personal inquiry. The series is Shhh, Say Nothing: An honest look at silenced voices is my newest work.
In this work, my fluid process of making, writing, vandalizing, creating, cutting, and repeated mark-making invites inquiry through whimsy and exacting detail. A tool kit of paint, drawing and writing implements, scissors or X-acto knives, adhesive, paper and other surfaces allows me to express the underappreciated and unnoticed labor of so many, especially women. Even more to the point, the systematic silencing of these voices.
As a Patreon artist I hope to broaden the conversation I have initiated with my newest body of work. I wish to travel and show the work as well as gather stories from other women and create a book of essays alongside my art. The book is already in process! Do you have a story to share?
And, I am sharing art, because well…. you know! You gotta see the work I do!
Hello! If you have reached this page, I welcome you with open arms and a heart full of love!
Art collectors and creative souls help the world to be a better place.
I kept a blog for 10 years from 2009-2019. All the writing can be found here along with links to older blogs I wrote and edited. Some of the older posts are missing images. Some (or many) posts have misspellings and older ideas. Everything is my work. My ideas. My thoughts. Whatever I felt I needed to share—I did. It’s all here, unedited.
To find old posts please use the search tool (up and to the left if you are on a laptop)—try any words or numbers you like! For example: interview, encaustic, painting, philosophy, sketchbook, 2015, museum, MFA, exhibit, and others… you never know what might pop up! 🙂 Sort of like a random search in a used book store, but this is all one author!
I have moved on. I am waiting for you…
To follow my artists journey and current studio updates, please join me on Patreon. Thank you for your patronage.
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside an artists studio or better yet, have you wondered where artists get their thoughts and ideas, how the research is conducted, and what decisions are made for the subsequent output?
I have decided to share as much of what I do and how I do it as possible. In fact, I have already been sharing my story on this blog for years. I have been giving away my time, ideas, and research energy in blog posts for 10 years now!
Ten years is a long time and a lot of blog posts (and videos). Over 550 posts on this website.
I am forever grateful to all of my devoted readers. Some of you are so devoted, that I could hug you! Do you feel my love? 😉
The time for change has come! I have found a platform online that allows me to cater to my audience (you) and also supports the work I do to make sharing my journey possible.
Maybe you are one of those people who gets really inspired creatively when you hear about the art I am making, sharing, selling, and exhibiting—and how I go about doing this. I am so glad!
Maybe I have taught you a thing or two. Cool! 😉
Maybe I have made you smile or think about something that without me dropping into your in-box, you would not have veered down that thought path…yippee!
I am sure you can tell (especially those of you who read every post) that I love to share what’s going on in my life and creative journey.
The thing is… blogging these days is not like years past. Having a steady and consistent presence on the internet is not free (it never was, but it has gotten more expensive). I am ready to go out on a limb. I need your help. I am searching for a two-way street. One where you get the information you have come to enjoy and trust, and one where I get paid to do the work I love. Are you with me?
There is a way for me to share blog posts, images, stories, video, have chat rooms, and more…
Patreon is a site where art lovers like you can support the work of creators you admire and artists who make work that matters—to you.
Let’s stop for a little video break! Just because! 🙂
OK, back to regular programming and the Ever Wonder… theme of today’s post. For many years now, especially when sales were slow or non-existent, I self-financed my art career (many artists do this). Did you ever wonder how I did and do the work I do? Of course, I am prepared to keep financing my own work if I have to, however the power of patrons, supporters, and fans—whatever you’d like to call YOU—would make a tremendous difference in what I could create and share.
Being a financial fan goes way beyond a dollar amount… way way beyond. You see, a single dollar or five thousand dollars a month tells me:
Suzanne, your work matters to me, you’ve touched my life, I have loved watching your career, I am excited for you, I want to be a part of your success, watching you has been an inspiration to me, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!
I am an artist. I share my vision of the world and what the world could be like with the ideas we imagine and discuss, together. Patreon can help us.
Two things happened that led me to the path of choosing to ask for patronage via Patreon.
Thing One—In 2011, my father asked me a question about my blogging. At the time I was writing 2 or more articles per week; including artist interviews with photographed, curated studio visits and researched essays. He asked me: “How do you get paid for all the work and hours you put into these articles? It is clear to me that you are not rushing through the writing, the research, and your ideas. What is your plan for income.” I could chalk this up to a “Dad comment,” but he had and has a good point. How DO creatives get paid?
Allow me to continue.
Thing Two—In 2016, a friend and collector told me that it was hard to follow and understand my work on social media and my blog because she wasn’t sure what I was focusing on (we met in 2012). She felt like even though she loved my work and cared about my success, she wondered why my projects were all over the place. Ouch! She, like my father, had really good insight for me!
When my Dad and a collector friend send me clear love and support, I listen.
It was really hard to hear this feedback and harder yet to change. You’ll notice the 8 and 3 year gaps until today in 2019! I’ll be honest, when I dug deep (the problem was hidden) I realized that I was scrambling to find and make that “thing” that would sell. I thought that shear hard work and constant blog and social media posting would be enough to get “found” and my work would fly out of my studio and off my gallery walls. I had some growing up to do.
I had to face facts. I was chasing the elusive carrot and the brass ring on the merry-go-round. Hoping for easy sales and growth of my fan base.
The chase is over… because I expect more integrity from myself and the work I make.
If I were to continue on the path I had created, not only would my work never improve, neither would my income or my reach. My passion for making visual statements through painting insisted that I find an alternative.
Ever Wonder… how I came to the conclusion that my integrity as an artist matters? I started with the idea of doing less. I had only one goal for 2019. Make better art.
If you have followed me this year, you have watched me make better art. I wish you could see the work in person, because I have made really solid work. Visually exciting from far away and even more interesting from up close! Plus a whole lot of research and craft going into the work.
Also, I still write blog articles and make video of my work. This can be shared via Patreon just as easily as it has been here on my website and in your email box.
Now back to Thing One and Thing Two.
Thing One, My Dad still reads my blog, and comments, and reminds me (along with my Mom) that I have been making and sharing the artists path since I was 6 years old. When he thinks I have forgotten my way he’ll say: “remember when…” and he’ll share yet another story of a time when I led our immediate and extended family through art projects that were my own, and I included them in the process. Wow, we sure have had fun throughout the years! And about my friend, Thing Two, hopefully the next time I see her, she will have a different nugget of savvy business feedback for me. And she will not be telling me that, “you are all over the place.”
So, dear reader, this blog post has been long and heartfelt. I have written to say:
Wonder no more, I am an artist, and I wish to share this journey with you.
This is my last blog post from my website (unless things change, as we all know they always do). To follow my journey, and to get inspired on yours—join me on Patreon.
Look for this button (it will be smaller). Click it to support this artist. Thanks!
PS. There will continue to be a tiny bit of free content on Patreon, to get your free content follow the link to Patreon and use the follow button instead of the green become a Patron button.
PSS. Did this post make you interested in my past forays of blogging? See how far I have come: Blogger 1, Blogger 2, Blogger 3. No comments! Haha, practice makes perfect!