Friday, November 26, 2010

Giving the Gift of Art

Let's face it - buying art as a gift isn't for everyone. Some people don't care much for art, or they have very specific tastes, or you just don't know them well them enough to make such a personal selection. There are some occasions and relationships however, where it is perfectly appropriate and ends up being a powerful statement with a lasting impression.

In my life, I've given my paintings as wedding gifts to friends that I know like my work, and I painted something specific with them in mind. (In fact, I've got one to paint for my friend in Florida that just got married.) My family has received my art as gifts through the years. I know who likes landscapes, who likes my abstracts and who likes my crafts more, and I always choose wisely.

Not all of my friends are huge art enthusiasts, and some are, but have very minimally decorated homes. I wouldn't give my work to anyone as a gift if I knew it would make them uncomfortable or feel like they have to hang it if they don't care for it. And for some of my friends that DO love my work, I know I've overloaded them so much through the years, I've got to give them a break! But on those special times where the occasion and the person aligns, art has been and will be a cherished gift to give and receive.

Last year my best friend and I got to see each other on New Year's Eve after being apart for a while as she lives in San Diego and I'm all the way over on the east coast. We had our gifts to exchange and wouldn't you know it, we both bought each other art on Etsy. :)

To Emily from Jessica - Birds by Wallcandy

To Jessica from Emily - Eloise and Ramona play telephone by flapperdoodle

I got Emily the bird painting on a little wood block because she had just moved into a new studio apartment by the beach and I knew space would be an issue. She loved it because she could place it on her window ledge in the kitchen, a reminder of the swirling sea gulls of beautiful San Diego. She got me the adorable print set that I have in MY kitchen and I love it because every day I see it I am reminded of my besty living across the country, but always a phone call or an email (or text, or facebook, or...) away!

So it is true - art is personal. But some relationships are personal enough to know what someone likes or would like. And if you don't know what they like, start paying attention to what they notice online or in a gallery or shop. If you're a fan or know a fan of my work, stay tuned as my next post will be gift ideas from my various collections and product lines.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Flying to Florida with Patti Smith

Last Thursday I flew to Florida for a dear friend's wedding. I'm always so busy in my regular life that I often don't find time to read. Travel affords me the time to crank through one or several books and I cherish that aspect of traveling and vacations. On this trip, I read Patti Smith's Just Kids. It was the perfect book for me to read at the perfect time.

I didn't go into reading this as a huge Patti Smith or Robert Mapplethorpe fan. In fact, I didn't know much about either of them except for the basics. But diving into their world - their youth, young love, passion, sexual exploration, friendship, devotion, SEEKING, fearlessness, vulnerablity - all of it provided a deep insight into a fascinating life told from such an honest and self aware place. I almost finished the book by the time I landed and had a lot of personal reactions to what I read that I shelved for party-wedding-time.

Now that I'm home, I'm inspired to aspire to be as devoted to being an artist as they were. They were making art and living in apartments with junkies across the hall and no food but they were always committed to art. As vital to them as their blood. It's time for me to take money officially out of the picture when I'm making art. Take it entirely out of my mind and thought process. I've allowed it to permeate into my relationship with art and it's only served to limit me. Remembering what it means to be an artist, the responsibility I have to the gift of art, the responsibility I have to myself to not stop at small dreams.

I think I need to read nothing but artist biographies for a while. Soak in the reality that there is no "right way" to be an artist. Everyone has their own story, their own journey. The questions of "how do I relate, how do I agree, disagree, desire, reject their various choices, their process, their lives?" will help me figure out where I stand in it all. Where I want to go.

When I was in Florida I saw so many galleries and great contemporary art, I had this dream of opening a gallery down there and getting a condo so I could come and go and co-manage the gallery. I got so into this fantasy it was all I could think about when I was walking on the beach by myself. Returning home, I kept dreaming other dreams - a gallery/house on the Cape or Maine. A house on a lake here in Connecticut or in the woods in the Berkshires. For fun, I look up real estate in different states and vacation rentals in other countries. It's like a fun hobby for me but meanwhile, I don't really know what I REALLY want in the future. Am I supposed to know?

Blending all of this together, I think the focus is pretty simple. Just be an artist and let life take you where you're meant to go.