Meeting Notes, July 31, 2014

At today's meeting Loretta, James, Bill, Khanh, Jeanne, Renita, Joanne K, Erin, Diane H, Stephanie, Jeannie, Kathy, Diane M, Joanne M, Kristina, Nancy (New), Thomas, Brenda, Mark and Za.

Today's suggested table topic: What, in your opinion, does an artist need to do to succeed in today’s competitive art scene?

Celeste: It depends, of course, on how you define success.
The question seems to relate to commercial success. Some artists seem to enjoy being flaky. I think adopting a flaky persona is a mistake.  Most of the (commercially) successful artists I can point to produce great paintings and are focused, detailed and business-like.

Lisa: I have always been a student and so success to me is whether or not I am satisfied with what I've done. Recently I went to the Erik Sandgren painting event on the coast. I did this small painting. I had a wonderful time.

Diane: When I first started painting got involved in a co-op gallery and though I learned a lot from the experience, I learned that it wasn't my goal to be in a gallery. I am a professional, even though I am always learning and always a student. “You don't know what you don't know”. (We have to learn what we need/want to learn before we can go about learning it)! I brought paintings from the Sandgren coastal paint out.

Stephanie: I have a former teacher that I just looked up recently.  I found that he is 90 years old he has spent his entire life in art, having shows and teaching people, devoting himself completely to art. That seems like a successful artist to me. I brought two paintings from the Sandgren Coastal paint out. In particular I remembered what Aimee Erickson said in her workshop “ask yourself...what is the story that you want the painting to tell”?

Jeannie: I am a studio painter. I plan on going out to paint outdoors in the future. In my former career I was successful (flying all over the world) but it got to be not-so-much-fun. It’s important to feel happy about your efforts. I work hard at fine art and often get into juried shows...I consider that a measurement of sorts of success.

Kathy: I work toward juried shows; I do believe that it is important to participate. I don’t get in them all...but it is important. I brought in a pastel painting I did from a photo.

Erin: I think it is important to stay outside of your comfort zone. When I am plein air painting I am very uncomfortable! (laughter) Above all, I think it is important to keep the love and passion alive. I know that is important to value expression where ever you are skill-wise. I brought in my second plein air painting and two Kevin Macpherson books.

Nancy (New): I found out about this group from Erin. I am new to oil painting. I just started. To me it is a success to just start! I brought in two paintings. One is of my son.

Joanne K: I have experienced all the ups and downs associated with a 30 yr long career in art. (I was a designer and illustrator). Like many others, when the illustration market dried up I turned to painting. In 2013 I was awarded an artistic focus grant. That pushed me out of my studio. Recently I painted on Kat Sowa’s farm. I had company but I was also by myself. Who was it in this group that said they painted something by using the leftover paint on their palette? (It was Khanh). Well, I wanted to thank you, because that inspired me...I painted my son by using up the end of my palette. My other paintings are from Kat’s farm.

Za: I just want to make the best paintings I can while I'm still on this earth. That is the definition of success for me is to do my best! The reality is that I could have lived in another country and had a very harsh life, but instead I live here in the US and I get to play! It is just such a joy. After the Easton Plein Air event  I went to Massachusetts with some painting friends.  I sat in a courtyard and painted this painting of a statue that Rodin did of his mistress. 

Diane: A man came up to me... he had purchased one my early paintings years ago. He told me that my painting was in his bedroom and it is something that he looked at every single day. When he told me that a feeling came over me where I understood that that's the thing. That's true success.  I am now back from Alaska. I haven't painted but I will.

Joanne M: Our originality is really the most key thing. It's true that everything is a rehash, but it is simply even more of a rehash if you are emulating someone else. Try to stay true to yourself and don’t be a flake. Recently I tasked myself with going to hipbone studio. The practice absolutely made a difference. It is important to paint and draw from life. I wanted to draw more because I was going to do a live demonstration. I painted Quin Sweetman.

Kristina: I am very excited to hear what everyone else has had to say. It seems to me that success has a lot to do with being stubborn about being yourself. Today I will be painting in front of dress shop (Mila’s) in Lake Oswego. I brought in a painting from that same dress shop.

Brenda: I painted this painting in the lavender fields but I added my daughter in my studio. The painting just seemed to call out for something besides lavender. I also will be painting at the same dress shop that Christina is painting at over the next two days. I had a wonderful time at the Door County, Wisconsin event...It was successful! I just try to give everything my top effort.

Thomas: I believe that success is the desire to keep going even when you don't want to. Success is going back to stand at the easel every day. Success is remembering what you want. The truth is you never do arrive. I painted last week with Paul Zeger in Umpqua. He was a wonderful host and chose all the locations... all I had to do was show up and paint. It was fantastic. Here is my favorite painting from the week.

Mark:  Well I imagine success might have to do with being on time. I am sorry I am late! On the subject of success my goal is to not be what others want or expect me to be. I have been an artist for decades and for most of it I had to do jobs that I didn't really want to do. I am grateful and I learned a lot during those years but now I am committed to exploration.

Renita: Many years ago my husband and I both painted from an exercise in a book. It was a step-by-step exercise to paint an onion. At the end of it he threw his onion painting away and I framed mine and gave it to my mother! The thing is, my husband considered the onion a failure and I considered it a success. It's all in how you look at things. Success is a state of mind.

Jeanne: I have been at the Erik Sandgren coastal paint out for two weeks. It was wonderful because all you had to do was show up. The locations were determined for us. We Oregonians are so lucky to have such fantastic state parks. It is fun to paint with different people, dedicated painters and to paint six days in a row. It is exhausting but exhilarating.  As to the question, the way the question is worded makes it makes me think the question is about economic success. I know that to have excellent skills and to be a good practitioner is not necessarily an entry ticket for commercial success. There are many other factors that will make someone successful. For myself, I am not as interested in commercial success as I am in just gaining knowledge and feeling satisfied with the results.

Khanh: I started painting 4 years ago. Although I have a demanding job (as a physician) I am committed to painting. I treat it like a job.  I am expanding my social network. I do think that it is important to have your portfolio on an iPad or an iPhone in case someone asks to see your work will have it right there. I don't really care about being juried into things, but I know that it is an important step to show your work. To that end I will have a one-man show at the Pearl frame shop next month. I brought in paintings of my children.

Bill: I read that Wayne Thiebaud never referred to himself as an artist. Instead, he called himself a painter. I identify with that. My daughter will be visiting from Germany tomorrow. I needed to do a portrait of Johann so that she would know that I painted all my grandchildren (I’ve painted paintings of all the others).

James: To me, is it is a miracle that we can use our hands to translate what we see. I don't ever want to take it for granted. Painting is my sanctuary. It is my way of being me. However, it is a roller coaster! Not everything we do is good. Things come in waves and in highs and lows. I am just glad that I can paint and I will not quit. I brought in 4 plein air paintings. 

Loretta: Success to me is always actually painting a painting!


Today is Diane Marks Bestor's birthday, Happy Birthday, Diane!

Jim King is out of commission, because he broke his foot! We hope he will get better soon!

Congratulations to Za re: Easton Plein Air event this year we are so proud of you!

Congratulations to Brenda Boylan re: Door County Wisconsin event we are so proud of you!

Stephanie's has a solo show at the Bread and Ink beginning next week. Get in touch with her and make arrangements to meet her there for a coffee and to see it (for fun)! Congratulations, Stephanie.

The Portland Art Museum Plein Air event is next week: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (August 8,9 &10)
(the museum is free on Sunday)

Brenda and Kristina are painting at Mila(?) dress shop in Lake Oswego today and tomorrow.
(sorry, could not find link)

Thomas Kitts five-day plein air workshop registration will close soon. Don’t miss out!

Thomas will be giving a plein air workshop in Mexico in February. This is very exciting. He is going to be teaching with Frank Gardner and Anne Blair-Brown. For further information go here. (Click the American flag on the website for English)

Plein Air Magazine is doing a story on Za Vue! Word is that it will be out in a month or two. Congratulations, Za!

Za will be teaching another portrait class at Sequoia Gallery. The limit will be 10 people. Her workshops always fill up very fast. So if you have an interest in Za’s portrait workshop make sure that you contact her via her website (email). Don't just tell her in person you are interested..Send an email. This will be later this year.

Khanh N. Huynh, MD will have a solo show at Pearl Framing with a reception on Sept 4:  (Congratulations, Khanh)!

Za was accepted into the AIS show and is going to go to the reception in Colorado... if you are also going please contact her and maybe you can go together.

Registration is open for Hillsboro plein air link here:

Thanks to all for coming today and sharing your ideas and paintings. Next meeting, Thursday, August 7, suggested topic: things you paint with ease...and things you find challenging! 
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  1. Hi, I enjoyed reading the comments from everyone. This was a topic was of interest to me but I was obviously not able to attend the meeting. I had a weird experience today that made me think. I was talking to a potential buyer and the more we talked the more I realized it wasn’t the painting he was interested in but my standing in the art world, i.e. shows, website, etc. . . as though the painting was a commodity that depended more on my reputation than the inherent aesthetic beauty of the painting. It was weird and humiliating because I don’t care about any of that stuff. This was a kind of wake up call for me and made me more resolved to follow my own path . . . not focused or worried about shows and websites and marketing and sales, just trying to learn and learn more and make better paintings. That is success in my book.

  2. Great comment, Bill. Too bad the person didn't just go with their instincts to buy your painting! Thanks for staying up with the blog...hope to see you at a meeting or out in the field.