Wednesday, August 31, 2016

THE TRUTH IS...

If you hear a workshop instructor say,
"Oh it's okay if my class doesn't make, I'll come teach anyway"
or
"I don't care if it's one person, we will have the class!"
or
"It's okay if you don't have airfare in your budget, I'll just fly out there at my own expense...no big deal"
or any thing like that.....
they have:

A: a husband with a very good job 
or a pension from some big company

B: a sugar daddy

C: Had a very good job themselves with a great retirement program

D: An anonymous donor who is paying all their bills

E: They won the Lotto

F: Born with a silver spoon....

or other similar situations.
In other words, they are able - God bless 'em - to teach for fun.
BELIEVE me, I wish I could do that...

HOWEVER, My husband and I live off of his police pension and my social security....and...
my art.
Without that last one, we would be selling our home.
I'm serious.
I'm not saying all this to gain sympathy or sales or anything like that...I'm saying it because I think the public needs to be educated on artists who make a living or depend heavily on their art to pay the bills vs. those who do not.
Believe me, there is a huge difference.
One is looked on as "oh aren't they generous" and the other looked on as "Greedy"!!
*
I guess I got to thinking about all this as I prepared my studio today for students coming in tomorrow.
This studio didn't get paid for by money I "happened" to have.
It came about from a loan.
And I didn't build it to teach in...I was doing about 13-14 art fairs a year at that time. I was using it go create art to sell to pay my bills.
*
As I have blogged before, It all changed in 2009 when I went back to work as a nurse and I only sold in galleries or online until 2012 when I retired.
Guess what.... the studio payment was still there and all the other bills and I needed to make money.
Thus, the beginning of my teaching venture.

If you have been keeping up with my blogs, you know that all that is changing once again, but what doesn't change are those bills.
*
Over the years I have come up with all kinds of things to sell besides my original art:

*FABRIC

*PRINTS

*COLORING BOOK

*STENCILS

*JOURNALS
*CALENDARS

*CARDS

*DOLLS

*JEWELRY

*SCARVES

*BOOKMARKERS

*BLOCK ART


*PACKS OF PAINTED PAPERS

*SMALL ART


*HANDMADE PAPER BOWLS & PLATTERS

oh this list is endless!!
Some things are successful, some not so much....
Some just plain died from lack of interest!

But I keep trying.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is ... be patient with those of us who struggle with this need to make a living through our art.
ESPECIALLY, those who are setting up their tents all over the country. THOSE are the ones who are serious. Many instructors are just "playing" but art fair artists are not.
We are very very serious!

Creating art is something that is inside of us and has to get out, but we need to survive also.
I wish I could just paint..paint what I want...and give it away just for the joy of creating.
I wish I could just pack up and go teach without concern of paying for the trip....
I wish....but as a dear person in my life used to tell me
"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"

Yeh....the truth is.....
I have to make a living
and so do a lot of other artists.

And I for one DO appreciate all of you who get this...
This is more for those who don't..

Thanks for listening
Suzi

interesting tidbit about Suzi:
I haven't always just done nursing and art.
My original career was as a draftsman back when draftsMAN was the correct label and women just didn't do this. In my drafting career I was an architectural draftsman, a steel detailer and a pipeline detailer.
I have been a bookkeeper. My Parents owned their own welding business and Mom was the bookkeeper. My children's Dad was a welder and I learned the bookkeeping and we took over the business when my folks retired. 6 years into it my husband was killed in a truck wreck and we had to sell it all.
At one time I was a jewelry engraver at a local jewelry store.
I was a police dispatcher for University City in St. Louis.
That was a very interesting job and I loved it.
I also found my husband John there :)
Oh, and I did some legal secretarial work for awhile.
I also worked for several years as an activity therapist 
in a mental health center.
Nursing wise I was a Labor and delivery nurse, Office Manager for a Pediatric Clinic, taught Lamaze childbirth, Surgical scrub nurse, worked on the Urology floor at Jewish hospital in St. Louis (Now Barnes - Jewish) and my last nursing job was as medical office supervisor in an Drug and Alcohol center as a detox nurse.
Just thought you might enjoy that list of things I have made a living doing in my life.
colorful..huh?


Saturday, August 27, 2016

COPYRIGHT AND ALL THAT STUFF

In light of my recent "ethics" events, I've been thinking about artists copyrights. I've talked about what is ethical but what about what is legal. Here are some facts and an example of how so many just don't get it.

This situation (part I and part II) is not the only time it has caused me pain and cost me a friendship, but first let me say this...

The artists signature on the art copyrights it.
I only have one painting out there that I know of that I forgot to sign and I know where it is and it is safe :)
*
The watermarks that you see on images (which are very annoying) hopefully help prevent people from copying and reproducing the piece. Some people put them all over the piece but I haven't been able to bring myself to do that....yet....

These two steps do not stop people who don't care....and with all the photoshop type programs out there...they can unfortunately be eliminated.
So far....I have not caught anyone doing this to my art although I am sure it happens...and yes, yes, I know "copying my work is the highest form of flattery"......whatever.....
I don't find it flattering and neither does any other artist I know!
I have a dear friend who is an AWESOME illustrator. It is what he has done for a living all his life as far as I know...he deals with it all the time but then he also has an agent that takes care of all of that for him. Still doesn't make him feel any better. 
We have had long conversations on the subject....

But then there is something like this situation.....

Earlier this year, I put out a coloring book
Inside the front page is this:
A little hard to read but the gist of it is...this work is created and copyrighted by me and no part may be reproduced, etc. without my permission.

Now I "had" a friend who bought the book, took one of the images, reproduced it and used it to make a needlework piece out of for her granddaughter I think.
She proudly sent it to me and it was really cute and I honestly didn't mind her doing it for her granddaughter...but then
she proceeded to tell me how she was going to send the pattern to another friend and if any of my students or anyone wants the pattern I can give it to them.

really.

The conversation went downhill after that when I made an attempt to educate her about copyright and permission, etc.
She honestly had no idea she actually needed my permission to take my work, reproduce it, make a pattern and give it to others and it offended her.

After several heated emails from her, and me trying to educate her....we parted company....end of story....end of friendship.

I try to think what would I have done if the roles had been reversed.
I'd really like to think I would have said "Oh I am so sorry, thanks for the info and thanks for allowing me to do this and I won't do it again without asking"
I really think that is what I would have done....

Hmmmm...would I do it again? Yes. I didn't do anything wrong. I was educating a friend. If she had not been a friend, it would have been an entirely different story.

I say all this to educate you all.
I know her intentions were good....I know most of you have nothing but good intentions,
but stop and think before you take another artists work and make it your own.

"Here endeth the lesson" - Sean Connery, "The Untouchables"

Thanks for listening!
Suzi

Thursday, August 25, 2016

LITTLE STUDIO

This is my studio. It opens up from my bedroom.
Several of you have played in the paint with me here or toured it through videos.

And this is my "little studio"

but let me give you a little history...
*
The home we live in was my parents home. My Mom went to Heaven in 1987 and my Dad lived here until his passing in 1994.
I'm an only child, therefore, it is now my house and everything in it!! My parents were depression era people who lost 2 homes in the great depression so NOTHING was ever thrown away!

My Mom was a wonderful seamstress and loved to sew. The "little studio" was her sewing area. It's a closet in the main living area of our house and was built just as a sewing area, nothing else.
When my Dad developed cancer in 1994, John and I were living in St. Louis and I came to Hot Springs to take care of my Dad. 
I was strictly a watercolorist then and didn't need a lot of area to work so John converted this little closet for me to work in while talking care of Daddy which was only 2 months. It served me well for about a year until we could move here permanently then I converted a small bedroom into a studio.

In 1998 we opened a frame shop downtown and I had my studio there for about 6 years but when it came time to close that and move home, I needed MUCH more space so we added on the room that is my studio today. That was about 2003.

Working in mixed media collage and teaching and making journals and doing all the "stuff" I do, it has served me well and will continue to....but sometimes I find myself sitting with my husband in the evening watching T.V. but thinking about whatever art is laying on my table in my studio.
Today it occurred to me that I could reclaim that "little closet studio" and now that I am working more in water media, I can do work in there and be in the main room with my husband and watch T.V. - the old "two birds with one stone" trick :)

Tonight I initiated it and it felt wonderful!!

I'm beginning to think I am turning back time....
first I get an urge to do my old medium, watercolor,
then I decide to do a few art fairs after 7 years,
and now I have reinstated the "Little Studio"

Next thing you know I'll be wanting to play jump rope!!!

Suzi




Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ETHICS: PART TWO

Well....I started something!
I have had so many comments, emails, posts, etc. on my 
ethics blog that I feel I should clarify somethings.

What happened is that I got word that a student who came to my studio and learned from me, then went back to her town and taught it all to her local art group. The result is that no one in her town signed up to take a workshop I was offering. No one. Nada. None.
I guess the premise was "why take it when I already know it...for free". Hey...I get it, but shame on her.

This situation does not mean I'm going to take my toys and go home and never teach again

What it means is that there will be some changes and these are some things that MAY happen:

* no students in my studio unless I know them well. ie: close friends and previous students I have a good history with.

*no traveling to teach. It is a lot of work to prepare for a workshop and especially to travel with it. Especially with the method I teach in collage. To prepare so hard and have no one sign up is disheartening to say the least. Sometimes the class doesn't "make" (I need to make a certain amount to pay my expenses plus make some money .... I wish I could do this for fun, but I make my living off of my art.)
There are a lot of artists out there who have a husband with a good job, or they have good other income and they don't have to worry about it and they have the "Oh it doesn't matter! I'll teach whoever shows up" attitude. Good for them! Believe me I WISH I could be that way, but it's just not my situation.

*My online "Inside Suzi's Studio" which is a monthly membership, is now closed to any new members. Only the people already there can stay. In other words, it has become exclusive.
This I have already done. I hate this! It is not what I wanted but this woman was in this group.

* Online workshops: I have 4 online workshops now and they will remain. Whether I do anymore....well....I don't know at this point.

I have to be honest...what this woman did hit me hard. 
She was a person who pretended to be a friend...not just a student. 
She not only came to my studio, she took a lot of my online classes. Little did I know what she was doing....

When someone betrays your trust it stings and you 
hopefully learn from it. 
Yes, I realize MOST of you are trustworthy and wouldn't do this, but this HAS made me realize that there are probably others doing it already. I no way know all the people who take from me.
It's a risk I took....I'm the only one that can change it.

SO...don't panic...I'm still around...Just making changes.

Art Fairs are safe :)
I need to feel "safe"

Hope this helps....boy! I'm on a blog roll lately! 

Thanks for stopping by,
Suzi








Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

After my latest dilemma with workshops I got to thinking...
Should I go back to doing art fairs?
WOW!! 
A lot of "ifs" "ands" and "maybes" there!
I would actually LOVE to!! We loved doing art fairs.
But before I go on let me give you a little history about my "art fair" career.
It all began in 1993 in St. Louis, Mo. at the Greater St.Louis Art Association Spring Art Fair at Queeny Park. 
Now let me say upfront....we had NEVER done an art show in our lives! NEVER.
This art fair is a very long time semi-upscale art fair that you have to jury into and I had applied but had no clue on how to go about it and, of course, got rejected. No problem...we didn't have a display anyway.

Well....2 days before this show, the President of the Association called and said "We've had a cancellation...would you like to take the spot"? WHAT?!! Of course!!
Wait.....what did I just say....we have no display!! And when I say no display I mean all I had was a pile of watercolor paintings...unframed/unmatted. That's it. No frames, no mats, no screens, no bins, no lights, no nothing!! And 2 days to get ready!!
I must be nuts.....but what an opportunity.
John and I (along with working regular jobs) spent 2 days making frames on a little hand miter saw he had, cutting mats with a hand cutter and straight edge...building screens out of 2x4"s and chicken wire and building bins for the unframed work.
The evening of the set up we walked into that building with our "display" and felt like the Beverly Hillbillies!!
Here were all these nice professional booths and we didn't even have lights!! "Run to the Home Depo John and get clip on lights and extension cords and I'll start setting up", I said, with fear in my voice.
Can you say
"GREEN" 
It's was written all over us...but hey!! We were there!!

The funniest story about all this is that we didn't have shrink wrap for the unframed pieces to display in the bin so we went to Sam's and got a huge roll of Saran Wrap and wrapped them all up to protect....only problem was...they stuck together...so....
wait for it......John's job all weekend was to sprinkle baby powder between them to keep them from sticking!!!

You're laughing aren't you.....
I knew you were :)

Yep...it was pretty funny!! We laughed too and still laugh at it.
I sold one $15 painting but what we learned from the other artists in that 3 days was priceless.

That was the beginning of 15 years of traveling all over the country doing art fairs. We had about 120 under our belt when we stopped in 2009. We met so many wonderful people and eventually bought a travel trailer and had the opportunity of traveling all over the U.S. Before it was all over we had done fairs in Arkansas, Tenn., Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Alabama, Illinois and Michigan to name a few.




2 earlier shows above: Ann Arbor, Mich. 1994
Riverfest in Little Rock, Ar. 1995
******

And this was our last show in 2009 at Panoply (our very favorite that we did for 11 years) in Huntsville, Al.

*****
So in 2009 I went back to nursing full time and we figured we were getting too old for all this set up and tear down (which can be gruesome).
I retired in 2012 and started doing workshops online and then traveling and taking students in my studio.
.....but it's just not the same.
We both missed doing art fairs.
***
After losing my daughter in 2013, we decided life is too short for not doing what you love to do so we went back to doing The Arkansas Craft Guild show in Little Rock at Christmas Time. We figured we could handle that....it's indoors, not hard to set up or tear down, it's close to home....sure....why not.
So we did it in 2014 and we did it again in 2015 and will be there again this year.....
Booth sure looks a lot different than those early days..huh?

and we've done okay. It's hasn't killed us, although I'll admit it's a little harder at our ages (me 70 soon and John 71 already), but we've done it.

So here we are, looking at how workshops are just not always reliable, among other things, and thinking..."Hey, we could do a couple of more art fairs a year! One in the spring, fall and December.
We don't have the R.V. but that's okay, although we did love that, and yes we are older and can't do the pace we used to...
but.......hmmmmmm
so like I said
"Should I stay or should I go?"


Did I mention we DO love it ? :)

I'll let you know, (but we have already written for a couple of applications for 2017)

We've come a long way.

Thanks for stopping by,
Suzi

Saturday, August 20, 2016

ETHICS



*******************
I should have known it was coming.

I began my journey of sharing my art on social media in about June of 2012 after I retired from nursing and was able to go back to doing my art full time.

I LOVED the idea of being able to share with you what I was in my studio learning and experimenting and I have made so many wonderful friends on this journey......


I never dreamed that people actually watch another artists hard work on You Tube, and take their workshops they have prepared long and hard to put together and teach it as their own.
until now...
I'm not stupid....I'm not naive....but I was a little too trusting.

and there were red flags....a gut feeling.... and then it happened.
I can't prove it, but all the signs point to it and a little birdie whispered in my ear.
A student who came into my studio, took my online classes and pretended to be my friend has now gone out and taught what she learned from me as her own ideas.

Lesson learned.
and there probably are more than her.....
She was just pretty obvious.

It makes me want to stop.
It makes me want to withdraw all of my online workshops 
(and I have withdrawn one as a result of this)
It makes me want to stop blogging,
It makes me want to stop You tube videos,
It makes me want to stop sharing on facebook....
It makes me want to stop....
but I can't....it is who I am.
BUT, I will be more cautious....
there probably will be things I will stop and think about before I put it out there for all the world to see.

Am I saying "don't share anything you learn from me" ?
Absolutely not....but remember the ethics of sharing....
Give credit to the person you learned it from.
And don't go out and teach it as your own.

So, aside from the "sting"...this made me think about my beginnings in social media, so I have linked below 
a bunch of my "firsts"
They are kinda fun to look at.
Enjoy and be nice to the people who work hard to instruct you.
Don't be stabbing them in the back.


(I have 103 to date!)

(I tweeted a lot at first then nothing for a long time and more now)

And have no idea the firsts on these social medias but here are links if you would like to check them out.




Thanks for the time,
Suzi




Sunday, August 14, 2016

A TRUE ARTIST?

So, twice last week I had someone say "You are a true artist" and then a student/friend and I had a conversation about what makes 
"a true artist".
She was talking about my story and my art and this is basically what I wrote to her:

"I think story is the key element in art. It gives the artist the passion and sensitivity needed to produce meaningful art.
There is a LOT of "art" out there and good "art" but it has no story. It's just nice to look at and that is fine for some people but not for me. When I look at other peoples art, it needs to tell me a story of the person who created it."

Several years ago I wrote short stories about my art and put them with the art. The stories were actually part of the art. I made little pockets on the front of the piece, in the area where the signature goes, and put a little piece of paper inside with "the story" of the piece. This piece below is a piece I happen to have because it belonged to my daughter Shari, who is a huge part of my story, and due to her leaving this earth, I now have it back.
In 1999 we went to Maui together and had a wonderful time. 
This was a memory of that trip I made for her.

 



*
Sometimes the story can't be put into words, it just has to be "said" in the art itself. 

For a long time I put the title of the piece somewhere in the art itself. This is just one example of many along with the "Parrot in my Parlor" piece.


But as time goes on and my art changes, I have felt the need to let the piece, and the title weave the story together without words.
Titles alone sometimes tell the story. I'm not one of these artists that can do "untitled". I just have too many stories in me...And, I love to tell them. That is what I miss about art fairs....that direct contact with people and getting to tell them the story.



*
If you are selling your art, you are considered a professional artist and that is fine and good, but does that make you a "true artist"?
Most people feel an artist has to be weird, act weird, dress weird and be liberal in all their thinking. Well...that may work for some but it is not me. Some may think I dress weird in that my clothes always have paint on them, and yes, I "see" things a little different than most...but my hair is naturally grey, not purple and my clothes (other than the paint) are normal and I am pretty conservative in my way of looking at life. I am first and foremost a Christian...a believer in the Son of God, Jesus Christ and unfortunately yes, that makes me look weird to most art communities.
I KNOW where my art comes from.
My signature reflects it.
The symbol behind my name is the Chi Rho, 
the first two letters for Christ in Greek. 

*
I have a passion in my heart and it comes out in what I paint. I also encourage my students not to imitate what I do, to find their own path. that is why I give them the tools to work with and don't do the "everyone paints the same thing" gig, and I'm not saying that is wrong....I'm saying "is that a true artist"?

You be the judge....I'm not saying who is a true artist and who isn't...that is not my place. I'm just sharing my story....and I'm stickin" to it!!

Thanks for stopping by,
Suzi


Thursday, August 11, 2016

WATERCOLOR???

TO DO WATERCOLOR OR NOT TO DO WATERCOLOR
THAT IS THE QUESTION.....


When I returned to painting in 1987, after many years lay off due to having to "make a living" and raise children, I went back to painting.
When I started painting at around age 10, it was oils. That was the 50's and about the only choice out there. I worked in oils until my 20's when I had to move on with life.

When I returned to my art in '87, a friend of mine talked me into doing watercolors. Oh my, what a challenge that was and I almost gave up a few times, but there were things about the medium I liked so I stayed with it.
These are 3 of my early watercolors



In 1993 I was able to get into my first Art Fair and that started a 15 year period of traveling and selling my art. We loved that time!

I did watercolor for 8 years, but here is the thing:
I was a watercolor PUREST!!.
NOTHING else touched my paper. No pens, no acrylic, no nothing but watercolor! White had to be the white of the paper.
Here is some of my best watercolor work:







This piece is "And on the 7th day" and is very large. 
It hangs in the First Christian Church here in Hot Springs in memory of my parents who were my biggest supporters along with my daughter Shari.
I have prints of this piece.
I look at it and wonder how in the world I did it.

BUT,

I began to get in a rut.

In 1995 we moved from St. Louis to Hot Springs, Ar. and I enrolled in my first college art classes ever at the community college. Except for local classes when I was very young (the oil days), I was completely self-taught, but, like I said, in a rut.

In this class my instructor "gave me permission" to use other media WITH my watercolor!!

WHAT!!!!!

What a concept!! But it was all I needed and the rest is history.
Since that time I have gradually worked my way out of watercolor and into mixed media collage. Mostly Acrylics.

A few years ago, late 1990's, I was heavy into making and teaching handmade paper and so I did a series of watercolors on gessoed handmade paper:




That was kinda fun and different, but not the same....

So, you ask, why is she doing a watercolor now??
Very good question.

I really have no idea why I decide to do this right now, but I did and I kinda enjoyed it....
So all that being said, here is what I have "gleamed" from doing this watercolor:

What did I love about the medium that I had forgotten:

* I love the paint flow

* I can do most of an entire piece with one good #9 round brush

* Nice translucent colors that cover an area fully

* Don't need the entire room to work! (I was reminded that one of the things I loved about doing watercolor is how soothing it is.)

* Easyyyyy clean up

* Paint goes a very long way

What did I miss:

* Opaques. I love opaques

*Spontaneity of the way I work in collage. Lots of nice surprises.

*Easy to change and go in a different direction with a whole different color.

These are just a few.

SO, where am I with this?
Well, IF I do go back to doing some watercolor, I'm not going to limit myself. In this piece I did here, I used some Pitt Pens which is India Ink and some white acrylic dots in the middle of the flower, but I stayed pretty true to watercolor.
I will "give myself permission" to use other media, especially acrylic and inks, where needed. 
And yes....collage papers.
I will not frame behind glass. They will be sealed like I do my pieces now, with acrylic sealer. I have learned how to do that with water soluble paints.

Hmmmm.....it should be interesting to see what happens.

For now I want to do a series of small w/c pieces like this one just to get the "feel" of it again.

Yeah...it was pretty fun :)

stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.
Suzi