I've been toying with the idea of writing book for awhile (because apparently I don't have enough to do!) but have never had an idea that was good enough for me to follow through with. I didn't want to write an instructional book, there seemed to be plenty of those. I didn't just want to have an art book with images of my paintings since I wanted a broader audience, although I liked the idea of my artwork being a key component of the book. I've contemplated writing and illustrating a children's book for awhile, and may still do that at a later date, but this is not the time. So I started thinking in the realm of a coffee table book but I wanted something with a bit more substance. I think I finally came up with something that I could really be passionate enough about to actually get this project done.
Many of my recent paintings are based on found or purchased old photographs, memories from other people's past. It has always saddened me to think that someone's past and memories could be thrown away or sold, and then ultimately forgotten since there was no one around to share these stories with anyone. These "forgotten memories" are what I want to focus a book around. I like the idea of memories because everyone has them, and everyone has a unique one based on their experiences and who they are. There are many ways of portraying these memories, such as through photography or art, as I do with my paintings. I want to bring in the written word and tie this into my artwork to create a book based on people's memories.
I would like to invite writers and poets to submit their memories or stories around memories that can then be "matched up" with my artwork and be published as a book. I will probably self-publish through blurb.com and I don't imagine there being any profit from this, but I think the book could be a worthwhile effort and product. Here are some ideas of what kind of writing I am looking for:
1. Poems/ short stories recounting a memory
2. Interviews with older people that can then be translated into a first person narrative
3. Memories (real or made up) written in letter format. I have many images of sailors or soldiers with their girlfriends so I am thinking along the lines of what they would have written each other during war. Or perhaps a letter from a family member to a parent.
4. Essays of the importance of memories.
Anything creative that would make for a good read that could be then tied to an image would be good. You can visit my website, http://www.jhinaalvarado.com/, and see some of my paintings and what kind of images I am talking about. I would like to have this edited and printed by the end of September so that this can be available at Open Studios in October. Sound interesting? Want to contribute or know someone who would be perfect for this? If so, please email and give me an idea of what you'd like to do. I look forward to hearing from people and can't wait to get this project started!
Monday, May 24, 2010
After attending the art fair, I was super inspired and motivated to paint and further my art career (after I took a nap that is...it was a long exhausting day of looking at art!), as is usually the case after I have been around what I find to be inspiring artwork. It also got me thinking about my goals and I figured now was a good time to check in with myself to see how I was doing and where I needed some work. It's always good to have periodic check-ins with oneself and see how things are progressing. So here is a summary of my goals for the year and a commentary of how I've been doing:
1. Support myself financially through the sales of my paintings. While I am by no means supporting myself in the lifstyle that I have grown accustomed to, I have been in the black all year. I have not spent more money on art supplies and art related materials than I have made through selling my art. Hopefully this will continue and I won't have to dip too much into my savings account once my teaching paychecks stop coming in.
2. Make a name for myself and my art. I think I am well on my way with this one. People are starting to notice my art and are starting to recognize my style. It was nice to have people at open studios tell me that they saw my artwork at a gallery or online and wanted to see more. I also had people email me and tell me that they saw my work at the art fair. I think this blog is also helping with that.
3. Have at least 5 galleries represent me by the end of the year. I have two pretty big ones so far and two art reps/ consultants so it's looking pretty good. I still need to continue to submit, submit, submit though. I try and research and submit to at least 5 galleries a month and need to continue with that practice.
4. Write a blog post every two weeks and mail out an e-newsletter every month. I have since revised the blog goal to writing at least twice a week. I never thought I would have anything to say when I started this blog, but so far, I've been able to keep up with this goal. As for the newsletter, it goes out almost every month. Sometimes they are filled with a lot of news, and other times I am just letting people know about what new work I have completed.
5. Paint a minimum of 15 hours a week. Uh, yeah, definitely surpassed this goal, especially lately with the show that I have been preparing for. Once I am no longer teaching, I should also have no problems with this. I plan to be painting at least 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
6. Network with other artists and visit galleries and museums more often. I have been trying to do this, but I have to admit, I'm not very good at networking. I need to be better about this. I tend to get shy around people I don't know, and especially around people I admire. It's time to get over that. I have made a few really good friends with some artists and they have been very supportive when I've needed that extra boost and have had a wealth of information on topics I had questions about. This is great, but I need to continue making connections. I have a mini goal of handing out 5 business cards/ postcards to people I meet and adding at least 5 new names to my email list per month. It really should be per week but baby steps...
I think overall I am doing okay with my goals. I still have a long way to goal but periodic check-ins will help me keep on track.
Images: "First Pitch", 12" x 12", oil and encaustic wax on panel
"Nap Interrupted", 12" x 12", oil and encaustic wax on panel
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
So what do you do when you're in major pain but have a huge deadline looming? I took a day off and then got right back on the saddle again the next day, even though I was still in pain, even though people kept telling me to rest. Like I said, I'm stubborn.
Now that I have been painting for a few days while in pain, I am starting to wonder: Is it worth it? Is completing my deadline worth wrecking my body? I think the answer is pretty obvious but I'm sure that I am not the first artist who has put her health on the line just to complete a painting. So why do we do it? Why do artists continually put their health on the line by doing such things as not having adequate ventillation? Or not wearing gloves? Or working to the point that our body starts to fall apart? Is it sheer stubborness or blind devotion to our art? I'm sure it's a little of both, at least it is for me.
I have slowly coming to the realization that if I don't take care of my physical (and mental) health, then I'm not going to be around long and I won't be creating anything if I am dead or handicapped. You would think that this would be an obvious thing to realize, but when I'm working on something that I feel so passionately about and want to get finished, it's hard to remember that. My health just isn't a priority, like it should be and that is ridiculous. Nothing is more important than my health. NOTHING. So what am I going to do now? I'm going to take it easy and rest my wrist and hand. I'm going to wear my brace religiously even though I hate doin it. I am going to do what I need to in order to take better care of my body. In short, I'm going to take care of ME.
Images: "Beach Chair", 16" x 16", oil and encaustic wax on panel
"Reading" 12" x 12", oil and encaustic wax on panel.
"On Leave", 12" x 12", oil and encaustic wax on panel.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
I just finished two more paintings in my quest to complete and ship 20 paintings by June 11th. One of them has already sold, so in actuality, I only have one more painting to add to the Portland show. The first one is titled "Rooftop Bather" and the second one is "Bathing Beauties 2". Both are 16" x 16" and are done in oil and encaustic wax.
"Rooftop Bather" SOLD
"Bathing Beauties 2"
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Here are some gallery shots (courtesy of Kelly Kuhn) from my featured artist show at Blue Gallery in Kansas City, MO. I really wish I could have been there to see it in person since it looks like a nice gallery. The show runs until May 31st so if you are in the area, stop by to see it in person.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Here are the first seven paintings for my show at Ampersand Vintage Gallery in June. I am ahead of schedule but still need at least nine more paintings in order to have a full show. I think it's going well so far though. Please feel free to let me know what you think of these new paintings.
"Upward Stare", 12" x 12" oil and encaustic on birch panel
"Downward Stare", 12" x 12" oil and encaustic on birch panel
"Sitting Pretty", 12" x 12" oil and encaustic on birch panel
"Surfer Girl", 12" x 12" oil and encaustic on birch panel
"Two Men", 12" x 12" oil and encaustic on birch panel
"Fire Island", 24" x 24", oil and encaustic on birch panel
Monday, May 10, 2010
Images: Three more paintings waiting to be waxed and have wiring put on them in order to be completed. The first one is 24" x 24" and the last two are 12" x 12".
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Raymond Difley, a fellow San Francisco artist, is the art teacher there and had asked if I would like to come and speak to his students about what I did, as an artist, give a demo, and then lead an art lesson for the older students. I was used to teaching older kids since I teach middle school math but I wasn't sure how my artwork or demos would go over with elementary students and whether I would be able to relate to such young children.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Amber George (who has always given me great advice) which was to figure out how many paintings I needed and divide it by the number of days I had until I shipped and that would tell me what my weekly/daily schedule would look like. I had to leave a few extra days for packing up the pieces and some "just in case something goes wrong" days in there. I figured I could get away with doing 16 paintings (i have a few pieces left that would work for the show) and that I had about 4 weeks to get them done. From this I had to paint 4 pieces a week and that gave me 2 weeks to pack and ship the work and redo any pieces I didn't like. Okay, this seemed doable. I could breathe again.
Thanks to everyone who wrote encouraging words on FB! I appreciate having a cheering section!
Images: These are the three pieces that I worked on over the weekend. Throw some wax on the front and some wiring on the back and these babies are done!