Tag: artist’s life

paintings of women

Magical realism in portraiture: my painting process

Hello friends,

I love painting portraits!  Although I see human anatomy as the most challenging to master, I’m strongly pulled by this subject to depict the beautiful complexity of a human spirit. I paint from real people who hurt, suffer, love, betray, care and ultimately encourage me to become a better person. I’m drawn to faces with enigmatic eyes: I believe in capturing the soul’s essence through my art. I paint in magic realism style that’s sometimes called pop-surrealism. It’s a departure from the surrealism style since I don’t paint dreams, rather I paint the reality with a surreal touch.

With every new artwork I’m presented with a new challenge and a discovery. Although I often work from my photographs, drawing from life is paramount to understanding the human form and the anatomy. That acquired knowledge could be applied to drawing from pictures, not the other way around. I put the information in that is taken out by the photography.

I love color, and I feel I’m finally getting closer to understanding how color mixing works in oil painting. I have more control over my process and I’m able to create color harmonies that resonate within me and help me describe a special atmosphere in my art.

This short video gives an overview of my painting process: how I create an image, work with the model and paint in layers.
The second part of the video shows a quick glazing technique you can start using today, if you paint. 🙂

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

Check out my art and tutorials at my website www.VeronicasArt.com and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE there!

http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP
http://eepurl.com/b-vEXP

 

how to draw a portrait in colored pencil

How to draw a person in colored pencil step by step

Here you’ll find the information how to draw a person in colored pencil step by step. Over the years I’ve drawn various subjects, but drawing people is becoming my passion. I love to draw stories and emotions though the human form. Before we start, please consider the following drawing tips that will help you find, or set up the subject for your project.

Before you start drawing

  • Pick the person to draw that will keep you interested and motivated to take your artwork to the finish line.
  • Always consider and study the lighting on your model. Most colored pencil artists work from pictures. Learn to take good pictures as your reference material. To begin you may look at portrait photography online to understand how the light changes the form.
  • Keep track of some professional artists working in the field, and study their artwork for composition, design, and the use of a color.
  • If you just start out pick the image with a face looking straight at you. Eliminate the head’s rotation for now that complicates things.

Step by step demonstration

I had a photo shoot with my model, positioning her under a single light to give me definite shadows.

In this demonstration I use a very light grey, smooth, printmaking paper, the surface of which is similar to Stonehenge paper pad. I also draw with the Prismacolor Premier colored pencils and Luminance. I use Gamsol solvent with a synthetic brush and Caran d’Ache full blender for blending.

how to draw a person step by step

 

  1. I work on the outline of my drawing on a sketch paper, and then transfer it to my high-quality drawing paper. It’s crucial to get the anatomy right at this step. Therefore I take my time and check for mistakes by looking at my drawing in the mirror. I keep fixing the outlines until the portrait looks good to me. Next I create the underpainting by working from dark to light in one dominant color that I see in my photo. Here I use dark brown to complete the initial shading. I focus on shadows only to block them in with the consistency needed to develop a sense of light and shade.
  2. In the second step I carefully introduce the second color and slightly overlap it over the first one to create softer transition into the light.
  3. In the third step I focus on the face and add warmer colors (yellows and pinks) in the middle tones.
  4. In this step I throw the same colors I’ve used in the face into her neck, arms and even hair. This is important to do for color unity, so that everything ties together visually. This is the main reason why I work from general to specific, and don’t draw one area from start to finish, ignoring the rest of the picture.
  5. I introduce the blues and lilacs into her shirt that creates a play between the warm skin tones and cool hues of the clothing. As usual I work from dark to light, so I shade the darkest folds first, then add the middle tones and finish up with the lights. Please see below how I approach drawing highlights on colored paper.
  6. In my last step I work on the background that compliments my subject. Here I’ve experimented quite a bit. I added silver acrylic paint to paint the seahorses, so they change their color slightly, depending on the viewer’s position to the drawing. I din’t use any Gamsol on the face because it would make the darks appear too harsh. I fixed the drawing with a final fixative for dry media, spraying it twice outside.

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf

 

Blending & background:

Blending

There are two basic colored pencil blending techniques. One requires blending with a solvent and another with a colorless blender that looks like a pencil. Sometimes one technique is better than the other. While the solvent dissolves the pigment and moves it around fast, making the color look darker and blended, some colors may look too harsh after the application. The pencil full blender ( I recommend the one by Caran d’Ache) blends all the colors equally, but the process is very time-consuming especially if you work large, and requires a very heavy pencil application to achieve even blending.

Background

Background is important. Never draw your subject without considering the color and value of the background behind it as the background determines contrast and edges. You must have enough color on the page to do the blending with Gamsol. Otherwise, there is not enough pigment to dissolve the colors. Be conservative in your application, and never allow your solvent to run like water. Use a small brush to have a controlled application. Let the first layer dry completely.

In my drawing I painted the seahorses with the acrylic paint after the blending. You need to have a good brush for this that keeps a fine point. I didn’t use any water to spread the paint around, but used it for cleaning up the brush periodically, because the acrylic paints dry super fast.

In my second layer I shaded with the same colors with a much heavier pencil pressure.

In my third layer I added light grays and blues to make softer transitions and to achieve a different effect of “soft fuzziness”. I also shaded with grays to neutralize the brightness of the colors so that the background doesn’t “compete” with the figure.

Drawing of white fabric and highlights:

I use pure white colored pencil only over some previously applied color underneath it, reason being white by itself is a cool, dull color that needs a punch. I shade with white with the heaviest pencil pressure over the previously applied light color. I consider the color temperature of the highlight (warm or cool) as well.

What tutorial would you like to see on my website? Post your comments below. 🙂

Listening to the voice within, 15×20 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper

“Finding the voice within” is the artwork about understanding and trusting yourself to navigate in this world. It’s inspired by the healing energy and colors of the ocean that’s symbolized in the female form.

 

These are some of the tutorials available for download. They teach the basics of color theory, layering and blending in colored pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

how to draw a portrait in colored pencil

Portrait drawing in colored pencil: as love grows within

 

 

In this post I show my basic process of drawing a portrait. While I prefer painting from life, a lot of times it’s not possible. So, I take pictures of a model and then draw from my monitor or a picture. I often add additional elements to my drawing that are not photographed. Here you see me place orchids to the right. Usually, I create drawings as my studies. Some of them become paintings in the future.

Colored Pencil Drawing step-by-step:

Colored Pencil Drawing step-by-step
Step 1

how to draw a portrait

In the beginning I focus on blocking in the shadows, using dark brown and sienna brown.

 

Join the art student club to receive a free demonstration! Click here: http://eepurl.com/bIJlGf
how to draw a portrait
Step 2

Here I add color for the middle tones.

how to draw a portrait
detail

Tip: In my experience, drawing larger is actually faster than drawing small. Since colored pencil is a very slow medium, we tend to draw small. But I figured that I spent more time shading the 9×12″ pieces, had less detail and experienced more problems working small. So I increased the size of this drawing to 15″ x 22″ and it made a big difference to me. I didn’t have to force and cramp every detail in there, yet it looks complete.

 As love grows within, 15x22" lightfast prismacolors and luminance on printmaking paper
As love grows within, 14×20 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper

About this artwork

Love is  a complex feeling that begins with self-love and self-care. Love moves and helps us grow. Sometimes it’s hard to find love:  it can be as elusive and fragile as these beautiful orchids, but thus we are blessed to see the beautiful things in daring places where others may see nothing at all.

Share my post on your favorite social media platform today!

Tutorials:

On my website you can find several step-by-step colored pencil demonstrations and art books available in a digital and print format. 

 

eyes-to-see

The miracle of traveling to Nicaragua: how it changed my perception

In June 2012, our group leaders Jeff and Stelli Munnis organised a mission trip to fly to Nicaragua. Through the Seeds of Learning, a non-profit organization supporting the education projects in Latin America,  we worked on the school building project in a small town of San Ramon, situated in the beautiful mountainous area, not far from Matagalpa. Chamba and Mina were the local leaders, responsible for the project’ completion and our well-being. 🙂

Our group arrived to the country to complete the interior and exterior wall painting, the construction of a separate kitchen (Nicaraguan mothers volunteer to cook lunches for their kids daily), and the building of some pathways with benches around the school. I must say that our expectation how the school is supposed to look like has nothing to do with the ones build in Nicaragua. Those are small, simple buildings with few rooms and fenced windows.

Since I came back from Nicaragua, I’ve been asked a number of questions that I’d like to answer here in my blog post.

One of school building projects in Nicaragua organized by the Seeds of Learning.org

What did I bring from my trip?

I bought a few handmade pieces from the local artisans that included a couple of handbags and some jewelry made of real, colorful seeds. But what I really brought from my trip were the intangible things. Mainly, a change in my attitude about life. It was an intense period in my life when I had to look inward to understand myself and my needs, to clarify my goals and purpose, and to just appreciate life a whole lot more than I used to.

One of Nicaraguan girls in school

How much was it?

In short, $2100 including the ticket … Some questioned my decision to spend my money on this kind of a trip that didn’t include the luxurious accommodations and a beach resort, rather made me look at the incredible level of poverty, made me sleep in a hot and humid room with a bunch of strangers (our group members were the strangers to me at first). I also took cold showers (there was no hot water in the houses), drove over the pitiful roads, had stomach pain, sweated for hours under the blinding sun, inhaled the paint fumes with the dusty, polluted air, missed out on my daily intake of the NPR news, as well as running, baking, drawing, painting, and not drinking the hot Earl Grey tea. I can go on and on.

A beautiful kid Jose

What did I gain?

A lifetime of raw experiences and a change in perception… I saw the pure joy and happiness derived from simple pleasures – the interactions with friends, family and strangers that reminded me of my native country. The Nicaraguans had no access to infinite shopping, the Internet, gaming, or workaholic lifestyle. I didn’t encounter the unspoken, spiritual emptiness often observed in the West. As many choose to live the American dream owning a house, two cars and a dream vacation each year both good and bad comes with it. Owning a house often defines our identity. We work for it. When the house is lost due to fire or other accident, it feels like everything is gone.We feel as a failure. It happens as we often focus on getting the nice things, become the slaves to our endless need to work to support our lifestyle. This is the exact opposite of the Nicaraguan culture. Their focus is family, the cultivation of relationships and friendship.I was never interested in possessions or the accumulation of stuff, coming from the former USSR where everything was rationed, and in this country I found a similar to my culture focus on friendships.

Of course, Nicaraguans also have problems. Poverty is one of them. Yet, diving into a different culture was like breaking out from a shell that guarded my settled world. It was refreshing to look at the sincere enjoyment people had in their daily interactions with each other. It became the time to acknowledge their struggles that often involved hard, manual labor, and to appreciate my lucky existence living in the U.S. It was about seeing the humanity in simple things and actions, finding value in life, and accepting myself and therefore others.

In Nicaragua we all had some rough times that reinforced our gratitude for having the very basic things back home, like warm running water, electricity, air-conditioning, and the rudimentary appliances that cut on our time doing the housework.

But most importantly, I woke up from my sleep, redefined my beliefs and habits, stopped being so self-destructing that settled me on a path to my emotional freedom and peace. If you follow my art @  www.Veronicasart.com , you will see some of the artwork that features the Nicaraguan children.

+ Originally published in the summer of 2012.

Nicaraguan landscape

To learn more:

  • Stelli Munnis http://www.stellimunnis.com/about/ and Veronica Winters talk about their art installation Eyes to See, filmed by WTAJ TV, State College, PA on Nov.2, 2012  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNBNSozqy4Q
eyes-to-see
Eyes to see: U.S. Valanteers in Nicaragua

Eyes to See: U.S. Volunteers in Nicaragua, photo book, 160 pages

In this beautifully illustrated book, Stelli Munnis http://www.stellimunnis.com/about/ and Veronica Winters share what it’s like for Americans volunteers to travel to Nicaragua with the nonprofit organization, Seeds of Learning. Although volunteers travel to Nicaragua to build or renovate a school building, the real work happens when things are torn down. As the barriers between people are removed, and the walls individuals erect inside themselves are torn down, they become authentic and caring with one another. Volunteers return to the U.S. feeling different about themselves, others, and the world. They can’t help but feel deeply moved and touched by the hearts and spirits of the Nicaraguan children and people. The book contains over 100 full-color photographs that capture the spirit of what it’s like from the perspectives of volunteers, the children and people of Nicaragua.

My pictures represent a journey to a country with little means yet abundant friendliness. It is a place filled with strong women, free-spirited children, and laid-back men. The Nicaraguan way of life is slow-paced, hard labored, and dedicated to familial relations and friendships. It’s also a place where coffee growers, farming communities, and local co-ops harvest the land and live simply.

Images of children take a special part in this book. They had a natural, unspoiled ability to pose for my Nikon without any preconditions or special arrangements that others typically require when being photographed. They were neither rude nor aggressive; rather, they were kind, well behaved, and loving. I was drawn to their natural beauty and eagerness to communicate with our group of strangers and foreigners. This experience was deeply touching and filled my heart with love and gratitude.

The lush tropical landscape, verdant mountains, and blue skies with billowy clouds provide the backdrop to many of my photographs. It was my intent to capture the spirit of the Nicaraguan people and their rustic lifestyle, while also showing the architecture, housing, and utilitarian objects used in everyday life.

My sole purpose for creating this book is to let curious hearts see and understand the country. It’s a powerful and transforming experience to travel to the second poorest country in the western hemisphere and witness how people there live. It my sincere desire that my photographs will inspire many Americans to travel to Nicaragua with Seeds of Learning or donate to their organization. They are committed to providing children and communities with a tangible opportunity to improve their lives by having greater access to education.

Thank you for your interest in our work and for supporting this project!

-Veronica

how to draw a portrait

The importance of daily practice that develops your drawing skills: drawing tips

Drawing daily is essential to advancing artist’s skills. I used to struggle with the depiction of human form, drawing stick figures. Studying in state schools I struggled to receive the classical art education that’s available today in a number of atelier schools popping up throughout the country, which didn’t exist back in 2001. It took me many years to “learn” how to draw, studying here and there without the backbone of a complete system that is now offered by the Grand Central Academy of Art in New York. Over the years I learned several things that I’d like to share with you here.

Kat with a shell, detail, graphite on paper

What works:

  1. Drawing daily from life, even if it’s a small sketch that looks insignificant.
  2. Studying the great works of art. Yes, studying, not looking at. How does the artist solve a problem of the movement, composition, contrast, and color?
  3. Positive attitude and the acceptance of failure as part of the learning curve.
  4. Mentor’s help. (It’s worth your buck to pay a well-known, practicing artist to learn the tricks of the trade. Don’t expect those artists to guide you for free. There is a reason why they’re successful and their time and knowledge is valuable).
  5. Passion and the work ethic that drives you to work consistently.
  6. Having fun with the subject.
  7. Choosing the right place or school for you to study, if you wish to make a giant leap forward and become a professional. Follow your favorite artists and figure out where they studied or study with them. Some great art schools that give classical education are GCA, Studio Incamminati, Ani Art Academy, the Ryder Studio and many more!
  8. Drawing from plaster casts or classical sculptures at the museums. This is one of the cheapest and best ways to study the human anatomy before actually committing to drawing from a real person.
  9. Study the complex subjects separately. Draw one object at a time before combining them together.
  10. Sign up for free business newsletters /webinars written by practicing artists and crafters that will guide you how to set up and handle the art sales. Here are a couple of examples https://eshopmarketers.com and http://www.brilliantbusinessmoms.com/instagram-marketing-for-your-small-business
  11. Some good art books to have in your library: Anthony Ryder, “The artist’s complete guide to figure drawing,” J.D.Hillberry “Drawing realistic textures in pencil,” Jane Jones “Classic still life painting,” and you can also check out my art books that vary in subject and medium: http://veronicasart.com/art-instruction-books/
  12. Some good business books that are worth your time are by Jack White who is an amazing marketer and a practicing artist: http://www.jackwhiteartist.com/pages/books.htm. I also recommend “Making it in the art world” by Brainard Carey. He lists some unconventional strategies he employed to in his art career.
  13. Join groups on Facebook to keep yourself motivated and to receive quality feedback. (The Atelier Movement is one of the groups for oil painters, Colored pencil artist league is one of many colored pencil groups).

What doesn’t work:

  1. A fixed mindset where you believe that you can become great in a couple of lessons. There is no point in starting out on this venture, if you don’t have realistic expectations. It takes at least a year of consistent work to see permanent results.
  2. Inconsistency or a lack of work ethic.
  3. Trying to learn the material from someone whose artwork doesn’t represent your ideal image or a technique.
  4. The absence of motivation. No one will make you successful, unless you work on it!
how to draw a portrait
A study of Kat with a shell, 9×12″ graphite on paper

About this artwork

My art revolves around the beauty of the female form and the ocean. A combination of these subjects provides me with infinite inspiration. Although the idea for the image often comes to me during the photo shoot or long before, I largely rely on my final result – the photographs that captivate me with a sensual line, emotion, light and contrast. Therefore, the “right” model is essential to my artistic success. Usually good models are aware of themselves and know how they look from different angles. They also understand what facial expressions work, or what I want them to express.

The lighting on a model is also essential to my imagery. While the model creates the appearance, I create the atmosphere with the right lighting and the props. The Rembrandt lighting (high contrast, sharp edges) or the north light (low contrast, soft focus) by the window are the two great types of lighting that deliver consistent results.

I make studies before I proceed to painting. Whenever I skip this step, I fail. I end up working on a painting for a really long time with a mixed result. So this graphite drawing is my study for a future oil painting.

Hope this helps on your creative path.

Until then,

Veronica

colored pencil drawings

The power of story-telling in colored pencil art

What is art for you? What pulls you in to look at paintings? Is it the beauty that we see? The color? or an idea? A memory or emotion? It’s all of the above for me.

How I create a story:

  • Step 1

Stories come to me as an emotional response to my surroundings and people I encounter. Creating a painting is falling in love with the idea, a visual element, and even the light shaping the form. I see a lot of beauty in people’s faces even when they may appear ordinary to the outside world. Every person has that special, beautiful side to him or her that I so like to capture!

I usually draw or paint from my pictures, but sometimes I brake the rules and follow my aesthetic and perception, working from my  photographs. When I shoot portraits, I aim to tap into a special place, to open the character of a person, to see a novel side of him or her.

I create stories around the models, and not the other way around. Therefore, it’s vital for me to get the “right expression” or the “right pose” before I could proceed with the design of my artwork. It’s shooting blind at times with plenty of trial and error experiences. After the general edit of my pictures, I pick one or two images to work from.

when-she-sails-11x14-colored-pencil-sm-veronica-winters-colored-pencil
When she sails, 15×20 inches, lightfast colored pencils on paper, private collection

In this drawing the model is an avid lover of boats and travel. I created a nautical background here to highlight the man’s romance with the  sea.

  • Step 2

Next I focus on the overall theme and color of a piece. Blues and greens tend to be calm and soothing, while the reds and yellows give an upbeat vibe. Every color carries its own significance to me and affects the perception of my subject. Thus I almost never leave the background to color last. And even if I do, I know what’s supposed to be there. The idea is set in the beginning and I often draw the background simultaneously with my subject. It’s much easier to maintain the color unity and the overall  movement in the piece this way.

nicaraguan-boy-sm-veronica-winters-colored-pencil
Nicaraguan boy, 9×12 inches, lightfast colored pencils on uart paper

This is a very special drawing for me. I took a picture of the boy in Nicaragua. He wore shabby clothes and I didn’t speak English. Yet, he was eager to pose for me as soon as he saw my Nikon aiming at him. The expression in his eyes is infinite.

  • Step 3

I find the artwork with the narrative to be the most fulfilling to me. It lets me create a world  that may exist although it doesn’t. The power of storytelling is more evident in my oil paintings where I let the figures keep their secrets and give the visual enjoyment to people looking at my work.

Some technical tips drawing in colored pencil:

  • It’s vital to draw on smooth paper. I burned out drawing on textured paper every time i tried it. While Bristol smooth paper might be too smooth for you, I find the Stonehenge papers to be exceptional in terms of layering, smoothness, and color choices.
  • Don’t economize on professional colored pencils. If you still draw with crayola, don’t expect the results you see in other students’ work.  🙂 Some professional brands include: the Prismacolor premier, Pablo, and the top of the line is Luminance.
  • If you are the very beginner in drawing, I strongly suggest to draw objects from life using graphite pencils. Draw one object from different points of view and under various lighting conditions. Adding color is like stepping up a notch or two. So if you are not that good drawing shapes correctly, the colored pencils is not going to fix it for you. A few of my art instruction books have demos done in graphite and then progress to colored pencil drawing. You can check them out here: http://www.veronicasart.com/Books.shtml , or find the book descriptions right here in my blog, by doing a title search.
  • Join a few Facebook groups to inspire and be inspired! Sharing helps to get good feedback, if you ask for it.
  • Have fun with it!!!!!!

How I draw in colored pencil step-by-step:

This demonstration gives you an idea how I draw in colored pencil.

  • Step 1-3

I work out the outlines on a sketch paper and then transfer the lines using the transfer paper. If it’s a portrait, I always begin drawing the eyes first. Nothing works, if the eyes don’t.

  • Step 4

I mass out the hair with the darkest color I see in the model. I don’t look at individual strands, rather focus on major shapes and masses.

  • Step 5

I draw the shadows in the face.

  • Step 6

I work on subtle shifts in color and value in the face. This is not easy to achieve, believe it or not. The trick is to overlap colors, instead of layering colors next to each other.

  • Step 7

I add color to the hair and strengthen the highlights.

  • Step 8

I add flowers as my background using the same color scheme I have in the model. For outlines of the flowers I use gold metallic pencil. I didn’t draw the flowers first because I knew I’d smudge these light colors while drawing the hair.

I always spray my drawings with a final fixative to protect them from the UV rays and moisture.

how to draw

My drawing methods shown on YouTube:

Shading: one mistake every beginner makes https://youtu.be/GaDyhypmWwY

The colored pencil demo of drawing a cherry: https://youtu.be/onvAG_TpV8o

Still life drawing:  https://youtu.be/rP3pUQszhKU

 

 

What it takes to be an artist

There is no cute formula for success in painting. It’s hard work every day. It’s also keeping a role model in front of me when it gets especially tough. Other artists’ achievements inspire me to move forward, those artists become my guiding stars. That’s why I have no jealousy towards my peers, because I can see what’s possible in due time and practice. We fulfill our dreams with our own work, not the work of others.
Who are my models? Female artists like Tanya Gant, Anne-Marie Kornachuk and Beth Sistrunk to mention a few are tenacious and talented women who push and pull against all odds going upward.
I believe we succeed eventually, because we refuse to quit. Although it often feels like a dead end where there is nothing to go by, when words like ‘nice work’ or ‘good stuff’ can get you only that far. But a strong will, belief in myself, and the internal love for my craft keeps me grounded. And I enjoy the everyday of painting.

 

On a bad day 🙁

Powered by the ruthless force of frustration, I run with a steep incline, at the speed number that meets my level of emotional pain. The soles of my worn, running shoes fly over the rotating black belt; they build endurance, the survival tactic. And I run as my legs ache and they beg to slow down, but I refuse, I flush out my hurt with tears. My heart’s stomps blow my ears, and I override it with trance beat. My face deep red, I run. I track the whooping breath in my lungs. My insides burn like fire, and I run. My skin prickles, and legs are about to cramp. I’m acid perspiration. Unstoppable I become, feel the rise of resistance to my failures, to painful words and encounters, to the insensitive world that drowns, but teaches, teaches me to survive. And that’s how it feels on a bad day. Drenched in sweat, I run on a treadmill of artist’s life.

On a good day 🙂

The joy of painting runs inside me like the cobalt blue river. The snowflakes dance above its glossy surface and trickle down in my limbs. I feel the rise of God-sent energy and melt into another place, the forth dimension. It’s there, there I create. Through the looking glass I fall, where I hear no judgement and see no stop signs. The round clock on my wall quits ticking. Like a sweet fragrance of blooming roses, my joy flourishes and invigorates me. And that’s how it feels on a good day.

Fixing my car: a story before Christmas

A few days ago I hung out at a local auto parts center. My car needed some repair done, and in the end I got stuck at the service center for half a day. I became a witness to some strangers talk. Those were random people from different walks of life, whom I knew I wouldn’t see again.

I attempted to work on my laptop, while most customers entertained themselves by looking at a display of cars and trucks hidden behind a thick window. A few technicians serviced those vehicles separated by glass. The automobiles looked like the quarantined patients that needed some medical isolation fast. My decade old C 230 was lost somewhere in there too, left for a check-up by me.

An elderly man stared at his shiny, white Cadillac and a woman involuntarily copied his actions standing next to him.

“I really enjoy staying with my grand kids now,” he said, “I often ask myself where I was when my kids were little. I have so much fun with my grandchildren now that I’d never had with my own kids.”

A woman looked at him and asked, “Worked?”

“Yes, I worked two jobs, getting up early in the morning and coming home late. I worked, worked, and worked. My whole life passed me by so quickly…”

He shook his silver head with a slight, self-inflicted bitterness. Then he came to the front desk and received a prescription for his Cadillac, like his car was that lonely person who needed antidepressants at the doctor’s office.

A young, pretty woman came by the repair center, asking for an oil change. Her colorful bracelets dangled on her skinny wrists every time she moved her arms up or down, pulling her stuff in and out of her leather purse. She passed her keys to the manager and joined a small group of onlookers. Thin ankles, beaded flip-flops… Positioning herself further away from the rest, she waited for her powder blue Bug to come back nice and healthy.

“I’m having a hard time keeping it afloat,” she whispered into her cell, “I screw it up every time.” She paused for a second, her dark eyes watched someone else’s feet walk by. “I want to be with a guy who likes me for who I am. My thoughts distract me from my work. I often think that I have neither boyfriend nor kids.”

I saw her skinny fingers shake, holding her black phone almost too tight to her lips.

“I’m a slave to my own emotions and thoughts, I suppose. I run in circles thinking that my new relationship will tank before it even gets a chance to develop,” she said, looked at me nervously and turned away…

A tall, handsome man opened the front door. Warm, humid air blew into my face. Confident, he jolted his keys to the manager. Stationed behind the same window, black BMW got raised up to the ceiling in a few minutes. The manager walked by my table, stopped for a second and looked straight at me, gave out a promise to fix my car very soon…

Now the forty-something guy stared at his BMW. He seemed tense. I wondered what bothered him so much, if it were his car or his job, or maybe something else he didn’t want others to know about. I focused my attention on the monitor once again, and zoned out the rest.

“We live to have children at some point. I’m forty four already,” he said to the manager.

“Where was I?” I thought. “Should I work or listen?”

“I must try…but I have no time to call her,” the man said.

I lifted my eyes off of my laptop to see if he was joking or not. His anxious voice distracted me from writing. The skinny woman with dangling bracelets swapped by my nose. This time she had an intention to smoke outside but stalled by the door. Her fingers with a bright pink nail polish searched for a cigarette inside her purse.

“Merry Christmas!” the manager said loud and gave the man his credit card back.

” Thanks…I don’t like this time of the year…There are many expectations,” he replied and put his card back into the wallet’s open mouth.

“Hey, Veronica, can we chat now?” my iPhone buzzed.

“Sure,” I replied and lost track of my work completely.

I saw my car got finally lifted too.

“I need your advice,” the Iphone said.

“Not sure I’m qualified to advice people,” I thought.

The skinny girl came back from her break, dragging a strong cigarette smoke behind her like a long chiffon skirt. She bumped into an oddly placed stack of tires. A clumsy sign “buy four tires, get one free” lost its balance.

“I keep asking my husband to work less, to be with us more often but he just works and works…I said that I’m fine with less money in exchange for more time spent with us, but he thinks I’m too controlling…” My phone said.

I wanted to reply, but instead I watched the same handsome man catch the flying sign. The girl with the bracelets grinned back at him.

“I want to love him and I ask for it but he just eats and goes to bed to sleep…to sleep only, ya know.” Her messaging through me off for good.

The manager called out my name. My car was ready. I thought of my own relationship. I looked at my cell again, another friend calling.

“Would you like to meet for lunch tomorrow?” a familiar voice said into my ear.

I’m glad she is doing well in her sixteen-year marriage, I thought and drove off the parking lot.

  • Originally published in December 2013.
art of donation

The art of donation: is it worth it?

 

Over the years I’ve donated close to two dozen pieces, including my donations to CSN (the Community School of Naples), State College high, the Seeds of Learning, the humane society of Naples and many others. They were nice works, the artwork that had the potential to sell, yet I chose to let them go. In this post I’d like to share both sides of the coin for other artists to consider before donating your art.

In my opinion, it all boils down to your motivation, standing behind the very act of donation. Many artists feel sour and often become negative talking about the donations they made in the past. Why?

  • Artists feel used. First, all fundraisers ask artists to donate their art for free. There is absolutely no profit going to the artist, only the promise of “getting your name out there,” or getting “exposure.” In my experience, name recognition or a promise of exposure is not worth it. I had zero contacts coming in from my donations.
  • Second, although it’s said that your donations are tax-deductible, they are, but not for the artist. Say you bought a piece for $100. If you donate it to a charity, you can write $100 off as your tax deduction. If the artist donates his artwork, he or she can deduct only the cost of art supplies used to manufacture the piece. The deduction sum doesn’t include the artist’s labor, level of expertise, tuition loans, years spent learning, etc. Therefore, when the artist donates, he or she gives it away for real, which looks unfair to the artist at times, because the institution seems to “make money” using the artist. Moreover, in my experience only half of organizations that sold my art for their purposes sent a “thank you” note to me. And none of them shared the information on price it went for or the client’s name without me asking about it.
  • Third, many think that your art donation devalues your art because it can sell for any price and you have no control over its pricing. It’s also a sign that you are a “weak” artist since you donate art instead of selling it. Therefore, if you aim to make money via donations, don’t do it not to get disappointed with meager results.

 

Now I’m going back to my original idea: your inner motivation  is the whole point of donation. I donate because I feel good helping others. It sounds cheesy, but I feel fortunate I live in a place where I can create, and I’m able to share my gift with purpose at heart. I feel that my art can change the world for the better, even if it looks like a drop in the ocean today. Like most artists, I’m proud of the fact that I’m not motivated by greed or a lucrative business to paint. Most artists paint no matter what, walking against the grit of problems, and the financial pursuit via donations is not the right path to take. Let’s become financially successful in other ways, guys! 🙂

The infamous fate of some famous artists

card players by Cezanne

All artists strive for acceptance and appreciation. However, the meaning of appreciation may be unique to each artist. Most of us want our artwork to win in shows or receive recognition via sales as a fair validation of our talent and hard work. I don’t think anyone wishes to perish in obscurity without the proper acknowledgment of his or her gift.

It’s interesting to learn that numerous artists famous today often struggled riveted by poverty and seclusion back then. Studied in art history classes, admired in art museums, and owned by few wealthy collectors today, many were virtually unknown during their lifetime, and only after their death they found proper recognition.

A. Gros, Napoleon in the Pesthouse at Jaffa, 1804

Before the 19-th century, some male artists and virtually two or three female painters got immortalized on the pages of art history books. Those artists worked on public works, commissioned by either the Church, the State, or the wealthy.

In the 19-th century Paris, the Salon was the most prestigious official outlet to exhibit contemporary art. Sponsored by the French authorities, the Salon became the annual event since 1737. It was the only important exhibition held in the country. Receiving acceptance into its annual show was crucial to the artist’s success and career. The Salon’s jury process was controlled by the Academicians and thus resisted innovation. The Impressionists broke from that tradition and became the first modern movement to organize their own, separate shows in Paris.

As the importance of getting commissions from the Church and the State vanned around that time, it catapulted the artistic creativity and freedom of expression. That’s the reason why during this time the art world exploded with so many different styles and movements. The traditional, academic style of painting was suddenly losing its ground to the impressionism, post-impressionism, neoclassicism, romanticism, social realism, American realism, the pre-Raphaelites, pointillism, symbolism, art nouveau, and even photography. The freedom of artistic expression flourished in the 20-th century with fauvism, cubism, expressionism, European avant-garde, surrealism, futurism, dada, collage, fantasy, abstract expressionism, and so on.

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Women

Although artists became independent from the State and the Church, which dramatically changed the subject matter and the painting style, many lived in extreme poverty. The amateur painter, Vincent Van Gogh struggled both financially and emotionally throughout his life and only his brother Theo recognized his talent. Classically trained Antoine-Jean Gros started out brilliantly with his painting Napoleon in the Pesthouse at Jaffa, 1804, but drowned himself in a river after 30 years of haunting criticism and artistic failure. An engraver, painter, and poet, William Blake was discovered only a century later after his death. Honore Daumier painted most of his life, but received recognition as a painter during his first solo show at the age of 70.

Driven by the need to paint, Paul Gauguin abandoned his family, left France, and spent his last years in Tahiti. A cocktail of poverty, alcoholism, and syphilis brought him death at the age of 55. His fusion of symbolic imagery with the post-impressionist style became influential only after his death, discovered and promoted by the influential art critic in Paris.

William Blake, Urizen, the Ancient of Days

One of the most influential painters of modernity, Cézanne (1839-1906) had submitted his artwork to the Salon in Paris for 20 consecutive years. His paintings were not accepted into a single show even once. Self-taught, the post-impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne enjoyed the process of painting in isolation. Out of frustration, with introspection, and in search of perfection, Cezanne had a habit of throwing away his artworks, painting out in the country. Like a number of artists, Cezanne had a very difficult relationship with his father who wanted the artist to become a lawyer. In his thirties, he settled in with a young woman whom he never married. Although they had a child together Cezanne was afraid to lose his father’s financial support by marrying her. Like so many others, Cézanne got famous after his death.

Today his artwork sells for millions of dollars per painting. The Gulf nation of Qatar purchased Paul Cézanne’s painting The Card Players (the 5th version) for a record-breaking $250 million. (By the way, there are more Cezannes in Philadelphia than in France, because of private collectors’ acquisitions). One day the painter got ill, after being out in a thunderstorm. Cezanne spent his last few days of life painting, achieving what he always wanted to do – to paint until the end…

A landscape by Cezanne

You may ask what’s the point of this post? We all are aware of the “talented but poor artist” stigma. My point is that even if you’re talented and have something to offer to this world, the artist’s success is often not accidental. It’s not only hard work, but also the ability to connect with many people and being able to promote yourself tirelessly.

  • Still to come “Most successful artists of all times”
  • Originally published in 2012

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