Sunday, April 21, 2013
...and he has taken the dragon with him! My latest commission was a real challenge for me because it involved imagination, but also some knowledge of the story of Michael the archangel and the 7-headed dragon. The client didn't want me to follow the story exactly, which made it a little easier. But it has been a long time since I created a dragon, and I was a little rusty. I did a lot of research, both on dragons, and archangels, and my client did as well. I borrowed some of the background for the dragon from Raphael's version.
Michael was a little easier for me as he was more in keeping with my specialty, portraits. My client didn't want the typical image of Michael that you see in Raphael's depiction or that of many other artists. She had very specific ideas, the main one being she wanted him in Medieval-style armor, descending from Heaven rather than fighting the dragon on the ground, as I had him doing in my original sketch. I borrowed Michael's pose from a version by Esther Sanz. So above, right, is the final image.
This was one of the most intense commissions I've ever had. At times I felt completely out of my realm and overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. I believe there was some divine intervention, however, when my darling studio cat, Gracie, decided to leap onto my palette, which skidded out from under her, knocked over the water bucket, sending the bucket, brushes and water crashing to the floor. Although none of the dirty water landed on the painting, it did splash everywhere else, including all the drawers of my caddy, so not only did I have to stop to mop the floor, I also had to remove everything from the drawers and dry them. I know God was watching over either me, the cat or both!
And now I move on...here's what's currently on the easel: This is Tara, a beautiful yellow lab. It feels good to get back to painting pets!
Friday, March 1, 2013
I found an early self-portrait (above left), which not only made me laugh, but also reminded me of those early painting days. Back then, I didn't think as much about what I was doing. I just jumped right down the rabbit hole and did it! And I think jumping in without a lot of thought isn't necessarily a bad thing. For me, anyway, because I have a tendency to over-think things and then I get so wrapped up in the thinking that I lose interest in the painting. I'm not saying there's no value in art education, workshops, etc. I've benefited from all that. But I think you can spend way too much time analyzing, planning and critiquing, and before you know it you've lost all the emotion and freshness, as well as maybe some of the joy of painting.
|Where Shall I Go|
by Stephanie Allison
Now I may have arrived late at this revelation, but I suspect I'm not the only one. Lesson learned: stepping through the looking glass into the past can re-ignite a lost or buried creative spark. It has for me!
Sunday, February 24, 2013
by Stephanie Allison
18 x 24 Oil
CHANGE IS GOODSome of the changes I'm making are out of necessity (my recent retirement) and some are because I started thinking about the fact that I've been painting for years, selling more often than I realized, and, most importantly, I love it! So why not focus on doing something I love and maybe actually make money at it? Like so many other artists, I thought art was something to do in my spare time; the real money came from having a real job. And maybe I can do this now because I am an empty nester (although my dogs and cats and husband might have a different opinion on that)--but one thing I'm learning is that you really can make a living from your art if you know how to do it--and you don't have to be famous! The key is finding out what you love to do, do it, and, most importantly, share it with others!
STEPPING OUT INTO THE SOCIAL WORLDThe Internet has made it so easy to connect with people and get your art out there. It seemed scary, at first, and overwhelming. But I found a wonderful site, The Abundant Artist, that has been instrumental in helping me become more business savvy in terms of my art. What did I learn? It's not that difficult! Social media seems to be the key: a website, a blog, and as many other social spots you can find: Facebook, Etsy, Pinterest. So I've been ramping up my presence on those sites, and surprise! it's working. No sales yet that I can link directly to my new efforts, but something even better: I'm finding so many other artists out there who share my interests and some whose work is completely different, but fascinating to look at! And by connecting with them, my own work is being seen more and I'm making like-minded friends. That alone is worth the effort!
I'm still wading through a ton of information on art marketing, and I'll be glad to share in future posts. Meanwhile, I'd love to know what the rest of you are doing to promote your art and whether or not it's working. Feel free to comment below!
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2 x 3 in. watercolor
So that got me wondering what my definition of success as an artist really is. Do I want to be famous? Have my art hanging in high end museums, like MOMA and the Smithsonian? Or will I be content to get a commission here and there and sell a few paintings now and then? Well...I've been giving it a LOT of thought, and, for me, success is creating beautiful portraits that make people happy. And sometimes their happiness means I make them cry.
I learned that over the holidays. I had several portrait commissions--some portraying people, most depicting beloved pets. And although the money was nice, what really mattered to me was capturing not just a likeness on the canvas, but getting the spirit and personality right, too. So when I handed those commissions over to the clients, I gauged my success by their reaction. A big smile, a hug--and frequently tears. Not that I wanted them to cry--but the fact that my work evoked such emotion validated what I'd hoped to accomplish. Translation: success.
Having said all that, don't get me wrong: I like making money too. Which is why I've spent the last several days, make that weeks, scouring the Internet, checking out other artists' websites, Facebook pages, and blogs to see what they're doing to promote themselves. And it's a LOT of work. So many tiny details to think of: linking to your other pages, linking to other artists' pages, getting your blogs and sites noticed by all the big search engines. My eyes blur and my head aches. But I'm slogging through it. So over the next couple of weeks, if anyone is actually reading this and visiting my Facebook page, you might see some changes. And I'll probably screw things up too, since I'm not the most tech savvy person when it comes to all this. But it's worth a shot, and if it helps me get more clients, that's great, because it means I'll also get to know you and your loved ones--two and four-legged, and that's what really matters.
Meanwhile, if you're interested in learning more about promoting yourself as an artist, or want to learn more about the various things you can do with Facebook, here are a couple of links I found helpful:
ArtBizCoach: Lots of helpful information on running a successful art business from Alyson B.Stanfield. I visit this site quite often.
Pagemodo. This site will help you create a new cover photo for your Facebook fan page. It has a "free" option, which was sufficient for me, but if you want to go crazy, you can sign up for a paid account. You can also create new tabs, but I had trouble with that--I may have to go back and take another look at that option.
So here's to success--however you define it!
Saturday, February 2, 2013
|"Bad Hair Day"|
8 x 10 Oil on canvas
I have to wonder just how successful all this internet/social networking stuff is in terms of promoting art. I'm sure there are plenty of artists out there who don't even have a website, and manage just fine. The weird thing is, despite the fact that it takes me forever to manage my website, blog, and Facebook page, I still enjoy it. Just the little successes are satisfying: like creating the banner you see at the top of this page. Might seem pretty simple to some of you, but for the barely computer literate like me, it was a major feat. Almost as satisfying as finishing a painting!
Here's a link to one site that offers some good advice on art marketing: Fine Art Tips with Lori McNee.
And speaking of marketing, there's a great animal support group called Labrador Life Line, and they are holding an online auction to raise funds. There are a lot of wonderful items available, not just for dogs, but humans as well--including a gift certificate for a pet portrait from yours truly. You can see the auction here: Labrador Life Line's Annual Heart Dog Auction.
So.... I don't have any new paintings to post--but let's consider the revamped blog and my new banner as the project-of-the-day. And the painting above, titled "Bad Hair Day" pretty much sums it up, only right now, my hair is in even worse shape!
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Now back to St. Michael: below is the study I did--it's pretty rough. I did quite a bit of research but most of the paintings depicting St. Michael made him look very feminine and unrealistic in the sense that he looked more like he was posing rather than about to unload on a 7-headed beast. So I ended up using a baseball stance combined with sort of a samurai warrior pose to get what I've depicted here. I've still got a lot of fine-tuning to do, and I've asked the client to determine hair color. I may end up changing the outfit too--depends on what the client wants.
So now it's back to the 30/30 challenge until I get the go ahead from my client. I'm now 12 paintings behind. Oh well....I'm still having fun.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
The painting on the left is from a photograph I took back in 1991. We'd just moved to Kentucky and were lucky to attend the riverboat race--one of many pre-Derby events. This is the "River Queen" and we were on the Belle of Louisville. I don't think the "River Queen" was in the race--but she looked pretty! This painting is #11 in the 30/30 challenge, 5 x 7 acrylics on clayboard. I've fallen behind on the challenge, but still chugging away!
I'll still be working on the daily challenge, but now I have to devote my time to a large commission: St. Michael the archangel fighting the 7-headed dragon. I posted a study of the dragon a few days ago. I'm working up a study of Michael next, and if the client approves it, I'll be focusing on those two pieces over the next couple of weeks. They're large canvases, giving me a little break from the small artworks. Time to loosen up and paint LARGE!