Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE! reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

Pie in the Sky

The other day, I was hunting for a file deep in the recesses of my Dropbox folders when I found a document from over twenty years ago. It was a self-assessment essay, written for my senior portfolio as an undergraduate.
At some point, I must have transferred it from a floppy disk, and I hadn’t read it since I wrote it. I winced before clicking “open,” wondering what young Anna had “assessed.” I started to scan the double-spaced, Times New Roman font. Two paragraphs in, and it wasn’t as terrible as I’d thought. I read on. In one section, I detailed the then-highlights of my writing education. One was a seventh-grade project on The Odyssey. Calypso’s fire of the future inspired me, and I wrote an essay musing on my grown-up life.  
I was simultaneously back in my college basement apartment writing that memory and back in the grade-school classroom writing the original. Meta-historical-memory, maybe.
Toward the end of my nine-page self-assessment came this paragraph about my post-graduation dreams: “Once I have the diploma in my hands, I could find myself teaching, working on the staff of a literary magazine, publishing, curating…or even traveling as a freelance artist and poet. I cannot predict what will burn in Calypso’s fire this time, and I do not want to. Through serendipity and grace, the right things come. I am willing to wait.”
I blinked. I hadn’t realized my twenty-year-old self had known all the things she wanted to do. And then I realized I had done them all—including the “or even” of being a traveling freelance artist and poet—the least likely element on the list at the time, especially since I had no role model for that in pre-social-media 1997. It was my pie-in-the-sky dream.
Young me just reminded middle-aged me of serendipity and grace: Thank you, Anna.
Let’s remind ourselves of our dreams, live them, and keep hatching new ones. Apparently, it’s time I hatch some new dreams….

And apparently, there’s pie in the sky after all!

Serenity and Joy at Butler

Palm Pattern #125, Edith Bergstrom, at Butler Institute of American Art

The Butler Institute of American Art, the nation’s first museum devoted exclusively to American art, is a jewel tucked way in an old, slimmed-down Rust Belt town, which was booming when America’s industrial age was in full swing. Youngstown is probably one of the communities hardest hit by the migration of heavy industry out of the U.S. and has had to rebuild since huge job losses in the 1970s. Once a city of 170,000 people, it shrank to around a third of that in the 70s and 80s. As with most cities once nourished by the Erie Canal (like the one in which I live), it has had to find ways to diversify its economy and attract and grow innovative new technology firms despite the Great Lakes climate. In the past decade, Youngstown began to stir with new economic life and because of its history as an industrial powerhouse, back when it attracted immigrant workers from around the world, it remains one of the most racially and culturally diverse cities in the nation. Flint and Detroit may get all the publicity, but Youngstown has to have been buffeted and betrayed by the global economy about as severely as any town in the world—and yet it has found a path forward to a new sort of identity and pride in itself. The Butler seems to assert a kind of unassailable character, an affirmation that a few quiet human virtues—gratitude, appreciation, taste—won’t just survive but can prevail in our current feverish media culture. It feels a little miraculous to walk into this little oasis of beauty and wisdom hidden in “flyover country,” among the ghosts of steel mills almost exactly halfway between New York City and Chicago, in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

I delivered a painting to the Butler this past week for the Midyear exhibition by driving west through Buffalo and Erie. I was startled, when I turned onto Wick Avenue, where the museum is situated on the Youngstown State University campus. It’s a beautiful structure, a little grander in person than in its photographs, with a columned façade that looks as if it were modeled after one of Piero’s early Renaissance piazzas. After I dropped off my still life in its wooden crate, I decided to linger for a look at my destination. It was such a pleasure, I ended up staying far longer than I’d intended. It was like being introduced to someone with whom you feel a deep affinity—both the permanent collection and the current temporary exhibits were evidence of a guiding, deeply affectionate intelligence about great art. That sense of welcoming affinity is how I feel every time I visit the Phillips Collection, and to a slightly lesser degree, smaller museums like the Morgan and the Frick—as if I’m perfectly at home in the space and with the work itself. Many of the museums in cities that once thrived because of the Erie Canal offer art museums whose character is akin to the Butler’s—The Albright-Knox, the Memorial Art Gallery, The Everson and Munson-Williams Proctor. The emphasis on American Art at Butler makes it somehow feel the most companionable of them all. By contrast, this hospitable sense of belonging is what I don’t feel when I tour many galleries and some museums. The Tate Modern in London, for example, had an atmosphere of severity, an almost impersonal sense that the art on display was meant to be a rude awakening, which is fine. That’s certainly a recurrent quality in modernist and post-modern work, and there’s nothing wrong with the occasional swift kick to the head, but here, everything I saw seemed to be imbued with a sense that art can celebrate life as a welcome gift. It was moving to feel this kind of serenity in a community that has endured enormous tribulations as America’s economy reconfigures itself.

It was a pleasure that a few of the paintings I was seeing for the first time had been familiar to me from reproductions for decades–while others were unfamiliar works by some of my favorite artists. It was a delight to finally see, in person, Edward Hopper’s Pennsylvania Coal Town, James Valerio’s Ruth and Cecil Him, and Music by John Koch along the mezzanine in the museum’s central gallery.  Each is an example of the painter’s mastery at its peak. They were on display along with equally powerful work by Janet Fish, Neil Welliver, Alfred Leslie, Will Barnett, Jules Olitski, Paul Jenkins, Motherwell, Avery, Gorky, Ivan Albright and Pollock. Much of the work is exceptionally good, sometimes in ways that aren’t entirely characteristic of the painter’s best-known style. Alfred Leslie isn’t represented with one of his figures lit from below, but with a large grisaille watercolor landscape, a twilight view of a road in Massachusetts. A large abstract by Jenkins, Phenomena Panning Gold, isn’t anything like the intensely colorful swirls of paint most familiar to his admirers, but an almost monotone study of molten lobes that look like a fossil record of an orchid blossom. The work by Chuck Close was a complete surprise, maybe one of the most charming images he’s ever done, a mid-sized portrait of his daughter, Georgia. It’s another grisaille image, hung on the wall opposite the Leslie watercolor, constructed as a mosaic of thick paper pulp chips squeezed through a metal mesh. As always with his more recent work, it’s a marvel how Close creates an impressionistically accurate and convincing glimpse of the human face—this time cheerful and smiling—through such rough deconstructions of its photographic source. His usual grids are here replaced by chunks of pulp organically arranged, like an assembly of thumbprints. Even seeing Arsen Roje’s work for the first time was eye-opening. In reproductions, his depictions of scenes from classic movies look a little too ironic, sharing the slightly jaundiced irony that seems to be essential to Pop Art, yet the dramatic scene from To Have and Have Not is technically masterful. It goes to interesting places with oil paint that seem unique to Roje. It made me grin to see the perfect likeness of Sheldon Leonard—the bartender from It’s a Wonderful Life, and an actor who went on to produce of the Dick Van Dyke show —finding his nook here in an art museum.

And that was just the central gallery. Other smaller gallery spaces at the museum were devoted to different themes and mediums: print-making, pastels, art about sports, art about the American west. Each one was just as interesting, surprising and beautifully curated. Wolf Kahn’s small drawings of old barns looked exactly right in proximity to Mary Sipp-Green’s twilight scenes as well as an Olitski impressionistic drawing of a dusk landscape. In the print room, a lithograph by Bellows, a quick sketch of one of his daughters, showed amazing draftsmanship, as quick and confident as a Rembrandt or a Matisse line drawing, the shine of her hair effortlessly rendered with a few quick strokes of crayon on stone. And the solo show, Edith Bergstrom: Exotic Palms, was equally impressive. Her work uses the distinctive patterns of palms, their fronds, the thorny armor they leave behind as they wither and fall off the trunk, the spikes, all aspects of a palm’s anatomy are sources for her to use in creating images that straddle representation and abstraction, some palms looming up like titans, others just a web of syncopated light and dark blades and stripes. Most exceptional were Bergstrom’s watercolors that simplify a dense thatch of leaves into backlit plumage, plants that look like winged raptors swooping in for the kill, or angels hovering directly in your path, just off the ground. The confidence, precision and simplicity of these paintings, as well as their sense of color, is breathtaking.

Growing Roses

I did not inherit my Grandmother’s green thumb. Alas, the extent of my gardening skills is buying basil plants from Trader Joe’s in the spring, plunking them into clay pots filled with soil, and watering them. Somewhat to my surprise, they are bright and abundant and flavorful—often well into October.

My basil’s success (or the fact that it doesn’t shrivel and die) is largely due to good soil from the Grange. The rich, composty stuff that kind of smells when you upend it from its unwieldy bag.  It’s all in the soil. I take zero credit for my basil.
You might be wondering why I called this post “Growing Roses” if I can barely keep a store-bought basil start alive. Well, I grow supernatural roses, if you will. And from seed, no less.
In short—as in short enough to fit on the back of a seed packet: Life is full of shit. You can either sit in and complain about the smell, or you can choose to grow roses in it.
Me? After trying both options through many seasons, I far prefer growing roses. And though I recommend this choice highly, I would add to this “seed packet’s” suggestions for care, along with the proper watering, pruning, et cetera: once you’ve made this choice—once you set your attitude out in full sunshine, don’t be surprised if you encounter people who want to stand over your new start, casting over it the shadow of their own unhappiness.
Years ago, I stood in a kitchen, cooking with a friend and her sister. I shared a story of a lesson I’d learned from a bad circumstance and how it had turned into something beautiful. My friends sister turned to me and said, “Well, don’t you just shit and it comes out roses.”
Nope. But I have learned to grow ‘em. And my secret isn’t Miracle-Gro or Garden Organics. It’s choice.
That moment in my friend’s kitchen, I saw how many connections are established in commiseration. Group lament, even when staked with humorous sarcasm, is stenchy decay at best.
But spend enough time with others who are growing roses, and before you know it, you’ve got a riotous swath of them, and the air begins to fill with their sweet fragrance.
Just as I can learn to keep plants healthy and happy in my garden if I really want to, I can learn to keep my attitude healthy and happy if I really want to. Even when things are shitty—or especially when they are.
May we all choose to cultivate green thumbs in the spirit.
Happy gardening,

One Way To Simplify: Using Silhouette Shape Studies.

Simplify: To clarify; to make easier to understand.

Just Thinking!

Greetings!  I have been thinking about how to “simplify” lately and how the term applies to creating paintings.  You see, I have a mini workshop coming up with the Watercolor Society of Oregon (WSO) this fall.

Simplify: Three Minute Egg V12 Concept Drawing

Why Simplify?

But, what do we mean by simplification as it applies to painting?  And, why would you (the artist “you”) want to simplify?

Simplify: Three Minute Egg No12 First State

And How?

These are the types of questions I’m wrestling with plus the BIG ONE:  how does one simplify?

In the meantime, I’m working on some research by doing article searches and brain storming.

Create A Silhouette!

However what I’d like to share with you is one of my favorite ways to simplify.  What I’m talking about is creating a silhouette shape study of my designs.  This is a type of value (light and dark) study.  You may also have heard of the Japanese term notan, which also refers to lights and darks.  I’m adding a list of terms to show you how the meanings of these terms overlap.

Simplify: Terms

Silhouette, Value Study, Notan! (Oh My!)

In other words, a silhouette can be a value study which can be notan as well.  Its all about the underlying light and dark pattern of my painting!


So.  It is my intention is to show you a silhouette study I did plus some of the “work-in-progress” (WIP) states of my latest painting.

Simplify: Silhouette Shape Study

Link Dark Shapes.

Back to silhouette studies, how does this result in a simplified painting?  I’m massing my shapes; that is linking all the shapes of one value which, in this case, is black or white.  The linking of shapes creates a black silhouette against a white ground.  Then, I can see the “big picture” – a shape and value pattern, without the distracting details.

Truth Time.

Oops; ahem, the truth will out.  In case you were wondering, I do not make a silhouette shape study for every design I use for paintings.  Oh?  Yes, that is even though doing so is a great practice and pays dividends.  I am thinking I might need to make a new habit of doing silhouette shape and value studies all the time!

Simplify: Three Minute Egg State 2

Get It Down On Paper.

You see, my current practice is usually just to think the design through in my head.  The downside of “just thinking” is that you don’t see it clearly.  Plus, you need to trust yourself to remember your intentions over time.  Hmmm….could be a problem for someone who takes a while to complete a painting!

So, not surprisingly, I’m finding in the articles I read that it pays to really do the extra work when you’re developing a concept for the painting.  That is, do the preparatory drawings, silhouettes shape and value sketches.  Get the ideas down on paper.

Its my experience that doing the studies helps me see the strengths and problems of a composition.

Silhouette Study: “Three Minute Egg No.12”.

Therefore, better late than never, I worked up a silhouette shape study for a design I’m working on (please see above).

Now, I can see the concept as a series of inter-connecting bold shapes.  I’m not distracted by the details.  Instead, I have a map of my lights and darks to use as I develop my watercolor.

Plus, I had fun creating the silhouette.

Paper & Scissors Are Good.

You can do this with construction paper and scissors, just like you might have done when you were a child.  Its an enjoyable exercise, but a LOT harder than I recall from childhood!   Why?  Because you have to think ahead and make it all one shape!

Simplify: State 3, Three Minute Egg No 12

Digital Works Too.

Since I didn’t have any construction paper around the house, I used the digital art program “Painter®” by Corel™.  To explain, I scan in an outline of my drawing.  Then, I use the program to draw and fill shapes.  There is a fair amount of adjusting because, as I’ve mentioned before, you see problem areas.

Link Dark-to-dark and Light-to-light.

In this particular design, I am concerned that my dark shapes touch or neighbor another dark shape.  Put another way, an isolated dark shape, surrounded completely by white, creates a hole.   You, as the observer, might get stuck in a dark hole as there is no path out into the light.  So, if you want to, look for black holes. Do you see any?

Back to the idea of simplification, do you see how the silhouette shape study helps you see a simplified composition?  That is, some of the details are gone and you just look at the structure.

Key Points.

To summarize, there are two key points to consider:

  1.  Silhouette shape and value studies are one way to simplify a design or composition.
  2. Doing studies ahead of time, that is before you start the painting helps.  You have a better chance of seeing the strengths and problems of composition before you get to far into painting.

PHEW!  Speaking of simplify, this was not a simple blog post!  Isn’t that funny?  Writing an article on simplifying design certainly seems complicated!

Thanks!  I welcome your comments, suggests and discussion.

Simplify: Three Minute Egg No 12 State 4

PS.  I’m still working on this painting!







The post One Way To Simplify: Using Silhouette Shape Studies. appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Floral food

David Gracie, “Cupcake” Oil on Maple Plywood, 21” x 26,” 2017

I love a cupcake as an intellectually weightless subject. Make of it what you will, the less I mess with it the better off I am, both the cupcake itself and its representation. Its pleats and creases and folds crumple and smear on the trip home if you hit a couple potholes. It pretends to be the perfect little stupa of pastries, but touch it the wrong way and you start to ruin it. Like paint itself sometimes. David Gracie’s inverted cupcake seems fraught and decadent. It could be growing from a seed or spore. It appears to be floating in a dank sylvan setting, like a skunk cabbage or an inside-out toadstool, wearing its gills as a cap, but with only the smallest of stems, holding it up or maybe down. Is it levitating? The surreal aura of the scene would seem to allow it. I doubt that it would prove fruitful to spoil the mystery by asking why. It is on view at Exeter Gallery in Baltimore, which opened its doors last fall and has begun showing the work of artists as different as Gideon Bok and Erin Raedeke. I wish I’d made the trip to see the show of Paul Manlove’s paintings. (Guys, build a website. If there is one, Google is not aware.)

In a time when art galleries seemed besieged by an economy that favors the very rich, and the very famous, who all seem to prefer to show, buy and sell at art fairs–rather than the humble and traditional gallery space–you have to admire anyone intrepid enough to open a new one for business. With all the shops that keep closing their doors, others continue to pop up. Like our already bruised cupcake rising backward toward the blue sky whose cool light it reflects toward the viewer. Matt Klos, a fellow exhibitor at Oxford Gallery here in Rochester, appears to be curating shows at Exeter, owned by Noe & Amanda Detore. He’s the right guy for the job. It’s sure to be another outlet for the “perceptual painters” and maybe others (too early to tell) who deserve more recognition. The work they’ve shown so far has been fascinating and a little strange, and this new show seems to fit right in.
Here is the emailed invitation to the opening on May 12, 6-9 p.m. from Matt:

David Gracie is a painter of slow meditative works. As mechanical as his process of painting may be it is tempered by his empathy, humor, and curiosity in looking. This exhibition of Gracie’s work from over the past fifteen years marks a homecoming for the artist who was born and raised in Baltimore.

David Gracie was born in Baltimore, MD in 1978. He received his MFA from Northwestern University in 2004 and his BFA from the Hartford Art School in 2000. He has been included in exhibitions at The Museum of Nebraska Art, NE (’17), Hartford Art School, CT (‘17 and ‘09), The Suburban, WI (‘16 and ‘15), Mt Airy Contemporary, PA (‘15), The University Club, IL (‘13), The University of Missouri, MO (‘12), The Hyde Park Art Center, IL (‘11), Colorado State, Pueblo, CO (‘10), The National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution, DC (‘10), Bowery Gallery, NY (‘08), Mary and Leigh Block Museum, IL (‘06), and Fort Wayne Museum, IN (‘06). David was awarded a Nebraska Arts Council Merit Award and the Lincoln Mayor’s Kimmel Foundation Award in 2016. David is currently an Associate Professor of Art, Elder Gallery Director and Chair of the Art Department at Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Exeter Gallery is committed to the notion that a gallery is a meeting place for ideas and discourse. Please join us at the opening reception or email [email protected] to make an appointment to view this exhibition. Gallery open by appointment only.

Les Paul endures

Good bad news: Gibson is filing for bankruptcy, but apparently Les Paul will survive. 

Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell’s Wood, Wind, No Tuba. 2 panels 9’2 1/4″ x 13 1 1/8″. At MOMA.

Why Every Artist Should be a Great Storyteller


Why Every Artist Should be a Great Storyteller

Expertly telling your story is the best kind of organic marketing you can do to promote your art because people care almost as deeply about how you create, as they do about the end product.

So you’re a visual artist and you rely on the visual element of your work to sell it and captivate viewers in a single glance. But while art does indeed speak for itself, it only tells part of your story. The other, often-overlooked part is “Who is the person behind the signature scribbled on this amazing piece?”

While it’s impossible to pinpoint a tangible career-elevating payoff to telling your story, there are clear benefits. In today’s competitive marketplace a good story can say things about your character that your art can’t, which can help give you an edge over similar artists being considered for a project. It also allows you to make connections with new audiences who might not understand art the way critics do, but who appreciate your work based on how you make it.

Storytelling might seem like an additional “to-do” that you don’t have time or resources for, however, it simply requires using your words and talking about yourself (and likely something you love). As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” And it should provide some kind of return on your time investment, as the best kind of storytelling serves as marketing that doesn’t feel like traditional marketing at all.

When you communicate your inspiration and efforts behind your pieces, you allow viewers to see your art through your eyes. This gives the viewer something tangible to share with others in conversation – something that a two-dimensional piece rarely can do on its own terms. Like any craft, there is a certain rhythm and structure that leads to a successful story. Follow these four guidelines to artfully tell your narrative and ultimately expand your audience reach.

  1. Learn the Storytelling Basics

You likely have an “About” profile on your website, but if it’s missing an arc it’s time to inject it with some life. Stories have a three-part structure with a beginning, middle, and end. The first part opens with an intriguing introduction, the middle develops that detail into the crux of the piece (the main driver of the narrative) and the end leads to how the main character accomplished their objective. Along the way, elements of surprise and eclectic characters keep things interesting. Think about your artistic journey and how you can divide it into three parts.

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”

Start by catching the reader’s attention with a strong hook – a few lines that focus on what is the most unique thing about you and your artistic evolution. Maybe as a child your grandmother took you to her painting class and that time fostered a love of painting? Maybe there is a moment when someone challenged your dream to become a sculptor and you used that as fuel for your career? Or maybe you have lived all over the world and the different cultures have greatly impacted your design style? The introductory anecdote should be compelling and full of details, so you can build the rest of your story around it by answering how that moment led you to what you create today. Finish the bio by highlighting your biggest career accomplishments. Need an example to get you started? Here is one from French-American artist Gwenn Seemel that we like as a muse.

  1. Invite People into Your Process

Now that you’ve firmed up your bio – which you can use anywhere from your website to your pitch deck to your gallery exhibitions – consider other ways to share your story, like through your creative process.

Artists have a rep for being territorial about people entering their sacred studios. When their supporters only see the final masterpieces, though, they can’t fathom the marathon hours, painstaking process, and level of detail that goes into the artwork. So pull back the curtain and invite the public in by using video clips, photo, and text together. It’s easier than it sounds – there is probably already a photographer or videographer in your tribe, so commission them to capture various shots of your studio and key stages of creation.

The best kind of storytelling serves as marketing that doesn’t feel like traditional marketing at all.

To do this, write out an “objective sheet” detailing the overarching story you want to tell, and the shots that will bring this to life. This could include a shot of your workspace, any production machinery or workspace décor, or action shots, which capture you at the beginning, middle, and end of your process. If you’re more comfortable on camera, you could produce a video short.

Just look at what street artist Don Rimx has done with his process shots. He regularly invites the public into his process and recently his video “Friction” caught the attention of corporate audiences who now commission his work. In the time-lapse video, Rimx shows all of the movements it takes him to paint a mural, as well as incorporates outside voices who comment on the work-in-progress.  Rimx’s act of artistic vulnerability widens the reach of those who can experience his work, and it’s paying off.

  1. Share Your Creative Routine  

Do you always find that people are asking you if you have any creative rituals? As mundane as this question might seem to you, an entire book has been written about the daily rituals of artists, and translated into multiple languages! Rituals are fascinating because they’re not limited to specific fields or artistic disciplines, so people are inspired to apply what works for artists to their own work. And, frankly, people love hearing the war stories about people making something – that makes you real and relatable and it’s human nature to respect someone who works hard.

For this, examine how you create. What do you do that’s different? Maybe you balance your artistic side with a full-time career elsewhere, so you can only work late at night? Or maybe you go off into the desert to create in a space that is completely free of distraction? Like your bio, be specific on the details. Your objective here is to give your fans something to grasp onto. People likely can’t get behind someone who says “I only paint when I feel inspired.” But they can applaud someone who says they go into the studio every morning at 7 a.m. and often has to work for several hours before they find the groove of a project.

People can’t get behind someone who says “I only paint when I feel inspired.”

UK-based multi-media artist Kirsty Elson crafts miniature homes, boats, and lighthouses out of driftwood, and draws inspiration from her seaside surroundings. When she collects driftwood at the beach, she either knows immediately what she’ll create or the wood sits in her shed for years until she does. ­­ In this video, Elson discusses the full cycle of creating her art including how she gets it in the hands of customers around the world.

  1. Tell your story in different ways on multiple mediums

 The idea of a “story” has been with us since the beginning of time, but today what that looks like can range from the traditional body of text to a one-sentence Instagram post. That gives you many channels to explore. If you have a weekly newsletter or blog, those are natural places to begin sharing your processes and routines. If you’re still building out your reader list, you can test out the various social media channels to see what drums up interest and feels most natural. You might find that it’s easier to share your process shots on a medium like Instagram due to its visual nature, while you can better articulate the finer points of your creative routine through blogging.

If writing is not your forte or you’re pressed for time, another way to tell your story is to include brief captions below artwork on your website describing the inspiration/idea behind each piece. A few years ago, my firm was charged with publicizing Strong Families “Mama’s Day Our Way” campaign—a national initiative led by Forward Together where more than 20 artists were commissioned to create e-cards for mothers who are often overlooked in the mainstream celebration of Mother’s Day. Strong Families wanted to reach both sites that focus on parenting and LGBTQ issues and the mainstream press. To make the campaign about more than the image on the cards, we asked the artists to share why they wanted to be involved in the campaign and what was their inspiration behind their card image.

To tell the story behind her Strong Families image, Chucha Marquez shared the following anecdote: "Chosen family has been a crucial aspect of my existence and survival as a queer person of color in this world. My chosen family has been there for me during times in which I couldn't go to my birth mother or 'biological' family. I also wanted to celebrate Sylvia Rivera's role as a mother to many struggling queers and trans* folks back when she was alive. Her work is still very relevant today and the legacy she left behind remains alive through the lives she has touched. I really wanted to celebrate this in my card."

To tell the story behind his Strong Families image, Chucha Marquez shared the following anecdote: “Chosen family has been a crucial aspect of my existence and survival as a queer person of color in this world. My chosen family has been there for me during times in which I couldn’t go to my birth mother or ‘biological’ family. I also wanted to celebrate Sylvia Rivera’s role as a mother to many struggling queers and trans folks back when she was alive. Her work is still very relevant today and the legacy she left behind remains alive through the lives she has touched. I really wanted to celebrate this in my card.”

By having our artists discuss their works from different perspectives, we were able to capture the attention of a range of publications, including, the New York Daily News, Buzzfeed Advocate.comJezebel, and PolicyMic, who ran pieces on the campaign and included the artists’ quotes in them. During the pitch process, the approach to capture the artists’ voices and stories allowed my small, scrappy firm to edge out larger agencies to lead this campaign and resulted in us getting work on future national campaigns.


At its core, storytelling is about making an authentic, human connection. When people feel like they’re part of your artistic process, and you’re willing to share a glimpse into your journey, they’ll root for you and support your work. Seemel said it best, “Trying to be an artist helps you to appreciate the tenacity it takes to market yourself successfully as an artist. This might lead you to support the efforts of artists in your life by promoting their art or buying it.”

Storytelling, when done right, will increase your influence and have existing and new audiences talking about your work in a digestible fashion that feels natural, and produce a ripple effect of supporters who want to invest in your art – and you.

Jacqueline Lara
(Visit the original post to see the founder of SOAR’s own story—and the author’s replies— in the comments!)

Jacqueline Lara is president of Mpact PR, LLC. She specializes in helping entrepreneurs and artists share their stories and art with the media and new audiences. She is also creative architect of The ArtFullness Project, which explores the intersection of art and business through creative projects and visual content. Connect with her @MpactJacq.

Royal Pears: New Collector; Plus A Bit of Imagination, Freedom & Embracing Process

Sometimes its just about freedom and exploration; that is, taking a moment to release your inner adventurous spirit.

Freedom: Royal Pear Lavender Moon


Greetings!  I would like to share with you the story about my two Royal Pear watercolor paintings.  The smaller is the first version and a new friend and collector purchased it this week.

The Story.

One day I wondered what kind of wild, crazy pear I could draw.  What if the pear were sitting on a table at night, under a pale lavender moon?  Can you imagine?  And, what if it were a festive pear?  Come to think of it, what if it were a pear like one you’ve not seen before?

Be The Pear.

What does it mean to be the pear?  OK, just a bit of silliness but, what can I say about a pear that might be little bit different?

Still Life With Pear.

You see, pears are a favorite fruit that one sees in still life paintings.  They are beautiful and have a nice organic shape.  Come to think of it, they are not all that easy to paint.  You see, yes, I have drawn and painted pears in a more realistic manner and, in spite of their simple shape, it was challenging!

Freedom.  Imagination.

So, out came paper, pencil and imagination.  I just embraced the idea of festive but regal pears.  I freed myself to think “what if”…the light was from a lavender moon.  Then, there is the wonder of nature in general.  But, this is a painting from imagination and I can have fun.  Liberate yourself from the tyranny of the subject!

(OOPS, over-doing it again).

Embrace the Process.

In other words, I mean to allow myself to be free and enjoy the process.   Sometimes, an idea takes hold and it just must be done!  And so it was: a jeweled, festive, purple royal pear.

Freedom: Royal Pear

Thank You Art2Business.

Thank you to Wanda Pepin of Art2Business for helping my new collector contact me.  And, for the shows that help my work reach a larger audience!

Layaway Is An Option.

Speaking of the sale, I would like to share with you that this is the first time we are trying out the layaway option.  This is a service available to collectors.

Royal Pears.

Thank you!  I hope you enjoy the freedom of expression, that is to say the joy and exuberance of my two royal pears.




The post Royal Pears: New Collector; Plus A Bit of Imagination, Freedom & Embracing Process appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

These Beautiful Blues

From a visit to Yves Saint Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle a couple of trips back
In March, Deep Travel Workshops enjoyed Larry Habegger as our instructor in Morocco. For one of his sessions, Larry asked us to write about our intention as writers—what did we hope to convey to others?
I hadn’t exactly articulated that before, and this is what came out:
“As a child, I wondered if we all saw the same colors. Is my green your blue? Is your red my yellow? With my writing, I think I want to figure out what I see, taste, feel…and to share it. To hear back what you see, taste, feel. To compare notes and knowing. To shimmy about in a synesthesia of experience—borrowing and lending. Giving and taking. Eventually, I imagine that what I write could be a color of my own mixing—a new pigment that someone else can use like I learned to use the colors of others. Maybe I hope to concoct a Majorelle blue like that of Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech. A blue I fell so deeply in love with, I took its powdered pigment home, not knowing that by merely unscrewing the lid, the particles of color would rise up and land everywhere, turning everything I touched the color of distant seas and skies. I want to make and share an indelible reminder of unexpected beauty.”

Thanks for that prompt, Larry! (And I’m still trying to figure out what to do with that pigment….)