I recently asked a friends nine year-old daughter (Lily) how lacrosse was going. ”It’s a lot of fun, but I’m having a hard time catching the ball.” Instantly the self appointed expert gene flared and I caught myself lecturing on the importance of “practice.” Practice or punishment in a K-6 thesaurus play book. Continuing, I stuttered with inspiration that I read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours to become an “expert” (Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell). Her eyes widened and her voice calmly whispered “cool.” Confused, I thought…did she think I said dollars…not hours…like if you practice, I’ll give you $10,000? Lily ran off and grabbed her lacrosse stick and darted outside. I just gave her a 10,000 hour license to have fun. Need one?
Check out these license holders that are great with their stick…
When did you first discover your creative talents? I think it was in the 3rd grade. Another student and I would perform these one on one drawing contests and the other students would be the judges (I’m not sure where the teacher was while this was going on). I was told early on that I had some talent, but it took me a very long time to really believe it; as I got older I realized I had to create in some way in order to stay sane. At times I would make paintings or drawings that I’d feel very good about, but it would often be followed by intense doubt and insecurity. It wasn’t until my early thirties, when a professor who I really respected told me I was talented did I actually begin to believe that I might have something worth pursuing. From then on I felt more of a commitment to my work and things really started to grow from that point.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. The first work I ever sold was a group of eight small 8×10″ paintings of coffee cups with a narrative theme. It happened during an open studio weekend in Red Hook where I used to live and work. A couple came in and purchased the entire series altogether for $400 for the eight paintings. I hadn’t expected anyone would really buy a painting from me, and so it came as a total surprise. Fearful they’d change their mind I threw out the first price that came to me. I miss those paintings…
Artist: Jennifer Weiss
Title: Dog Run
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
When did you first discover your creative talents? When I was 3 or 4 years old I made a birthday card for my grandmother using paint and collage, complete with a Hallmark® crown on the back (in goldenrod Crayola®, of course). Since then I’ve been drawing, painting, or making something. I believe it’s who I am part of my genetic code so to say.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. Honestly, I don’t remember my first sale! What I do remember is the last day of an art show about 7 years ago when a lady approached me asking about my “Outside of the Box” series. She really liked the work and said she had a wall that she measured and thought that she needed 50 paintings from this series for the spot she had in mind. I replied by saying you mean 15, right? No, she said. Fifty. Five-oh.” I thought she was pulling my leg. She asked me to come to her home after the show to see the space and bring whatever I had left.
My husband was with me and we were on the fence whether to go. She was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. It was very hot. We told her we’d call when we were all packed up. Once we got everything packed up, we figured “why not? Off we went. It was beautiful. It was big. It was unbelievable! The wall space was perfect for 50 “Outside of the Box” paintings. She purchased the 15 I had and commissioned me for the other 35.
Life is full of challenges, surprises, and joy. I’ll never forget this experience and how it taught me to be open and to believe that anything is possible. You just never know how God will bless you. I’m grateful for every day as an artist. For me, painting is the most life-affirming thing to do.
Artist: Cat Tesla
Title: Endless, 48″x48″, acrylic on canvas – Outside of the Box, 10″x10″/ea, mixed media on birch
When did you first discover your creative talents? I grew up in a very creative home…so if I wasn’t putting on a show, making clothing for my troll collection or hosting dance contests between my sister and I (I always judged and won them too…which she never questioned), I was watching my mom paint…I began attending university art classes with her when I was seven, sitting next to her easel. When she worked on her art homework, I got to participate on a parallel project for me, and she taught me about what she was learning. I don’t remember ever not making things.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. I was probably five years old painting on rocks from the driveway with my best friend Ashley and trying to sell them for 5 cents each. It was a solid business plan, except we set our table of merchandise at the top of her winding driveway in the woods, private property with no food traffic or passing cars…and then we waited. Where were all the people? Didn’t they see our sign at the bottom of the driveway, “Rocks for Sale” with an arrow? Eventually we moved the rocks to the bottom of the hill, but were still shocked that nobody stopped to buy rocks that were hand painted for only 5 cents! I’m telling this story…because it is possible that a rock sold before we gave up and started making hors d’oeuvres of graham cracker, frosting and marshmallows and delivering them door to door to our neighbors.
The first offer to buy one of my paintings came when I was 10. My elementary school had an art show in the evening, I wasn’t there but my teacher, Mrs. Smart, let me know that a man who collected children’s art wanted to buy my painting. I don’t remember now if I sold him the painting or held onto it…but I didn’t see it in the years that followed… I mainly remember the turmoil of deciding whether to sell it or not…The offer was for $50. I was shocked. The painting itself was from a class study of Matisse. We took turns posing for the class and painting Matisse inspired backgrounds. I was the only student to paint the boy modeling purple. I gave no explanations at the time. Perhaps the idea seemed original or abstract, but in truth I didn’t want to be racist. I had learned on Martin Luther King Jr Day not to pay attention to a persons skin color, and now I was about to paint Eric, the only African American boy in my class…If I chose brown paint…it would have meant I saw his skin color and I surely didn’t want to be racist…so I made him purple…but I still felt odd about the choice. Again another possible first sale…I for sure remember selling a painting of elephants when I was in high school to my elementary school guidance counselor.
Who are your favorite artists? Rachael McCampbell, Chris Zambon, Roderick Smith, Chuck Guppert, Paul Garvey, Michael Flohr, Ashley Hagan, Gregg Chadwick,Wendy Morris, Mike Brouse, Carolyn Cole, Daphne Stammer, Gabrielle Pool, Rimi Yang, James Verbicky, Claudia Concha Perea, Bobby Logic, Charles Crossley, Hilary Taub, Molly Courcelle, Michael Situ, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Picasso, Renoir.
Artist: Brooke Harker
Title: Taxi 213
Medium: Japanese ink, oil and acrylic on canvas
Dimensions: 36″ x 48″
When did you first discover your creative talents? I was brought up with a love for art originating from my artist mother. I dabbled here and there between creative writing, poetry, never centering on a creative outlet. Then, after many obstacles and many heartbreaks I started to take up sketching. My threshold to cross which brought me into my world of colors, lines, and beauty was the progression of becoming a mother to my four daughters. One day my mother set me in front of a canvas, with unlimited paint, brushes-and let me go. That day I found myself, and the world around me has forever changed.
For an artist, selling their first piece of work is a memorable moment. Tell us about your first piece or a special piece that was sold. My most treasured piece I sold was a commission piece to our dear friends. They gave me a color pallet to run off of, and gave me complete free artistic reign. Three panels, reaching close to 10 ft across came to known as “New Jerusalem”. I poured my soul into that piece. It was where I started prayer to God in my work. A constant connection to Him.
Who are your favorite artists? Without a doubt my all time favorite is my mother, Diane Heesen. She is such an amazing woman, and diverse in her artistic nature. My other favorites are Osnat Tzadoc, and Salvador Dali. Dali is a definite influence in my charcoal/pen drawings.
Artist: Kellie Thomas-Walker
Title: The Invited
Medium: Acrylic on canvas.