Friday, November 1, 2013

Uniting the World Through Art

Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux

It's a very exciting time as my business partner Paul and I prepare to open a Fine Art Gallery in Portland, Maine. This past Monday we signed our lease for a nearly 3000 sq. ft. space at 48 Free Street, located in the Art's District. It's been a long road acquiring this space. Suffice it to say, many long hours have poured into our grand project!

Roux & Cyr International Fine Art Gallery 

will have their grand opening on Memorial Day Weekend 2014. 

Everyone is invited to come join us for this momentous occasion. The gallery will be Uniting the World Through Art. We are representing 25 artists from five different countries and hope to grow those numbers within our first year. We are showing mid-range to high-end representational paintings in both traditional and impressionistic styles. The collective we have gathered together should be a stunning exhibition. I can't wait to see all our great artists' work together in one place. Our place!

It's been a busy stretch with some tasks being fun while others, daunting. Some of the fun things have been purchasing antiques, hand crocheted doilies and fine china cups and saucers. I've been busy working on wood finishes and reupholstering chairs in coordinating fabrics. Our color scheme is burgundy and gold. As each piece comes to completion, the look emerging is rich and classy. 

One of my favorite aspects of the gallery is a large teaching room in the rear. It allows me to continue to teach my weekly classes. I hope to reach out to more people, going from my rural location to the center of the city. The gallery will also offer amazing workshops from our represented artists. So prepare yourselves for announcements here with regards to that. Where else can you get international workshops without leaving the country? Our high-end artists are eager to come share their talents and secrets with you.

I know I've been very absent from this blog, but I hope to be posting on a more regular basis. I'll have lots of information to share with you as well as introduce you to our roster of high achieving artists.

Thank you for stopping by and please take a moment to say hi and let me know you were here. Have a great creative day!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Color Workshop

Burning Through the Fog
Original oil painting  24x36"
by Susan Roux

This is for all of you spontaneous artists out there.

I was approached by an out-of-state artist who requested I teach a workshop at the end of this month. I've decided to honor her request. Most slots filled quickly by my current students, but there remains a few slots open. It will be an intimate/friendly workshop, held in Poland, Maine. Bring your oil paints and your sense of humor!

The focus is on color. Understanding color and using it creatively to aid in capturing your emotional response to your subject. I won't try to change your painting style, just arm you with new color-usage tools. Capture form while using color creatively. We will work with a series of exercises, a painting demo and time for artists to practice what they've learned while I assist everyone with helpful instructions. My students who took this workshop last year improved in leaps and bounds. It was so visible to all those students who hadn't participated that those who had were approaching painting with a new found fearlessness to color that translated into beautiful work. I'm positive I can help you move forward in your own artistic journey. What do you have to loose?

Dates: August 26, 27, 28. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

Time: 9-4

Location: Poland, Maine

Bargain price: $100. for 3 days

Contact me if you're spontaneous and interested.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Harmony with light

Sand Beach
Original oil painting  18x24"
by Susan Roux


The same light drapes itself on an entire scene. It was the lesson I taught my class through this painting. Light comes from one source, the sun and whatever time of day or weather condition you're trying to capture that single source illuminates it all. We all know golden hour, when for a brief time our surroundings become transformed and everything looks gilded. Golden light is draped everywhere.

The same is true for every type of light, every weather condition. It's just not as dramatic and probably harder to see.

Let's put this in terms for the artist. How do we apply this fact to our work?

Whatever color you choose to paint the light in one spot must be used to paint the light throughout. So if you decided to use a mixture of cadmium yellow, white and a dab of yellow ocher to highlight your brightest spots, then a bit of that same mixture should be added to all sunlit colors. Don't get this confused with your values (how light or dark an area is). I'm not saying you need to bring your colors to this same intensity, just add some of this same light to everything in sunlight. Here's one way to approach it. You may want to mix a little pile of cadmium yellow with your dab of yellow ocher without the white. That way you can easily add it to your other mixtures and then add as much lightener as you please to achieve the value you want.

It's the color of light you create that must drape itself on everything.

Your light could be a number of combinations. On a sunny day, it's usually the yellow combination you add to your white. Whatever you choose, be it lemon yellow, naples yellow, indian yellow, cad, ocher etc. Often this light you create might also include a bit of pink if you desire to warm it.  Be creative with your light! Don't paint every painting with the same combination. Weather conditions create different shades of light all the time. So if you're trying to capture what's actually around you, you'll need to adjust the combination of pigments in your highlights.

Just remember to add those same colors everywhere in your painting!

It's as easy as that to capture harmony with light.

So if you've shied away from experimenting with colors of light because you lose harmony, there's no need to fear it anymore. Have fun with the light. Play with the light. Just remember to make the same light kiss everything sunlit in your painting!

Thank you everyone for your comments. You make my day! Please leave me a quick hi to let me know you stopped by. It's fast, you won't have to prove you're not a robot here.

All paintings are for sale. Simply contact me if you're interested...

Have a great day my friends and thank you so much for stopping by!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sowing seeds

Coastal Light
Original oil painting  24x18"
by Susan Roux

I know of a small fishing village that's been in existence since the 1700's. It's been fished ever since and there's still fish and shellfish to catch today. How is that possible?

I found out their little secret. For instance in harvesting clams, the fisherman agree on reaping only from certain areas a year. While this harvest goes on, part of their duty is to "replant" or seed clams in a different area. These new clams that are relocated will be allowed to grow and multiply for several years before being harvested. There are a lot of small islands in this village, which means lots of shoreline creating the perfect stage for making this possible.

Ingenious! Renewing their food supply insures a continued harvest, year after year. Talk about looking ahead and planning for the future...

Those same lessons can apply to artists as well. Of course I don't mean take some of your small paintings out of the studio and go plant them outdoors so they can grow and multiply, but I do mean sowing seeds. Sowing seeds today can lead to an unexpected harvest in your future.

These seeds can be anything from simple acts of kindness to conscious steps in marketing to help propel you in the future. Simple acts of kindness are selfless things we do for others. The benefits can be far reaching for both parties involved, the receiver as well as the giver.

Do something nice for somebody without expecting anything in return and you will be rewarded down the road. Some call it karma and the TV series My Name is Earl explained that very well.

We're creative and we possess lots of gifts because of it. We have a lot to offer and we can come up with very interesting ways to share our gifts. Helping someone, giving them a hand. It all counts. The real trick is not to expect anything in return. It's not I'll do this for you today, but then you must do this for me tomorrow. Selfless and without expectations.

It will leave you happy and uplifted. The feeling is so great that it tends to multiply. It can grow in you like an addiction. Reach out to people. Send them a smile. Share something with them. It can take minutes or even seconds, but it all matters.

I have lived my life doing acts of kindness for people. Now in this new phase as I work towards opening an art gallery, I'm amazed at how many of these seeds have grown to harvest. It's overwhelming actually. Things I never thought amounted to much, things that took so little of my time, have grown into compassion and trust. I find myself surrounded by a sea of grateful people all willing to help. My heart smiles as I bask in the warmth of the love.

The other type of seed you can sow for your future are seeds of marketing. It's ok if you don't have a whole plan figured out in your mind. Most of us don't. But everything adds up. If you're here, most likely you're already networking. Socializing with like minded people, sharing ideas and offering words of encouragement. (We're back to those acts of kindness again... See how easy it is?)

Have you met Debbie? I recently stumbled upon her. She offers many helpful ideas on marketing your art. Are you showing your work on Facebook? How about Pinterest? Sign up with her and she will include you in her weekly tips. Here she posts an article from Christine Corretti who explains how to make the most of your Pinterest account.

The marketing thing can be a real pain, since all we want to be doing is pain-ting instead!!! So all the help we can get, especially to simplify things is welcomed.

Do yourself a favor and sow some marketing seeds for your future. In the meantime, work hard, smile at people and the benefits will come to harvest in due time...

Happy planting everyone!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Color vs Value

Ahoy Maties
Original oil painting  24x18"
by Susan Roux

Color and Value. They're quite different.

Color, we all know. It's how we've been taught to refer to the pigment of everything we see. It's green, it's blue, it's yellow, it's red... Of course as artists we know there is a lot more to color than just identifying it's pigment. We train our eyes to see beyond mere childlike identifications. Is the color neutralized? Is it saturated? Has it been lightened or perhaps darkened? Is the color in sunlight or in shadow? This is where it can get tricky.

As soon as we start thinking in terms of how light or dark the color is, we switch to talking about it's value as opposed to it's pigment. Here lies a very confusing fine line for a lot of people. My students stumble on it a lot. Value becomes confused with color.

It's pretty easy to do since we are always using color to paint our paintings. Whether we're depicting value or color, it's with mixtures of color that we work with. Even trying to write it feels like a tongue twister.

The most important thing to capture in representational painting is the correct value. How light or dark a passage is. It's what identifies form. Three values, a light, a dark and a mid-tone placed between the two will create the illusion of 3-D form. As for color, the skies the limit!

Unlike needing the correct value, color can be as expressive as the artist chooses. So long as the value is right in a passage, any pigment can be used. The decision is up to the artist. Some will opt for a close representation of what they see while others will play with the emotional factor color possesses.

I experimented once and painted an entire painting with very wrong colors, but kept the values correct. It was pretty bizarre to look at, yet when you looked at it through a red-sheet value finder, it appeared to be totally correct. A friend said it would make a great exhibition. Paint all these crazy paintings and have value finder glasses for viewers to use. I could actually picture it in large cities, but never followed up with the idea from my rural area.

Do you have a red value finder? I like to pass some around during my first class with beginner students. It blocks out color and helps you focus on the actual values. As I try to have them look at things in terms of value, it's a great tool. Squinting does a similar thing and I'm sure a lot of you are accustomed to doing so as you paint.

 Are you getting your values right? An easy way to check is to turn your image to black and white. Eliminate the color and what remains are the values. Does your work hold up to this test? If not, try focusing on it and you'll find your work will improve. Your images will become stronger. Getting the values right is primo in representational painting.


Ha ha. I have to laugh at myself. It's wasn't until I was sitting here looking at my image in black and white that I noticed the reflection doesn't line up with her right leg. I moved her leg to the left near the end as an adjustment, but never moved the reflection! I guess she needs to come sit on my easel a bit longer...

See. There's proof that turning your painting to black and white can help you improve your work!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"the thing"

Original oil painting  14x18"
by Susan Roux

What are you striving to capture in your paintings?

Place a bunch of artists in front of the same scene or set-up and everyone has a different interpretation. Are we not seeing the same colors? Are we not seeing the same light?

There is much more to painting than meets the eye...

Emotion. Our own unique response to whatever subject we choose to paint. Even the same artist on a different day will interpret the same subject differently. Who we are. What we are. Everything we've been through physically and emotionally effects how we place paint to canvas. I've been reminded of this recently.

I've noticed over the years when my actual life feels out of my control, my art tightens. It's as though I'm looking to have control over something when everything else feels chaotic. I have a student who reacts completely in the opposite way. She unleashes wildly and boldly in an emotional abstract outpour that has the illusion of somebody screaming!

What happens to your art when life feels out of your control?

Even when life is going along normally, we focus on capturing different things. Is it a feeling you're trying to capture? Perhaps creating an ambiance? It is technical fundamentals? Is it certain colors you wish to play with?

When we decide on a subject to paint, there is something about that subject that spoke to us to make us choose it over all other subjects at that moment. What is that something? What was it about your subject that spoke to you? Whatever it was: the shadow play, the colors, the movement, the serenity, the lines, the structure... This should be your top priority. This should be "the thing" you're trying to capture. It is where your passion lies.

No one will feel about "the thing" exactly like you do. What captures you about the subject is what you should be striving to capture in your painting.

Ignore all those voices in your head that are telling you so and so said I should do it like this or so and so would do it this way. When you're trying too hard to focus on someone else's method, you're not following your own unique voice. Yes there are those times of learning/studying which require thought about the teacher's words. But any other time, the only thing you should be following is your own gut feeling. Let that brush go on auto pilot. Focus on "the thing" that inspired you to paint your subject. Exaggerate it even, so your viewers won't miss it. Everything else will fall into place.

When it comes to art the thing is, expressing "the thing" is what it's always been all about.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Teaching Component

Original oil painting  14x11"
by Susan Roux

As the last of our snow melted this week, I found myself painting reminders of my garden from last summer. This lovely poppy was a new addition and I'm wondering if it survived the winter. I was so attracted to the delicateness of it's petals. They're thin and floppy much like fine transparent rice paper. It was fun trying to capture that quality with paint. I wonder if the name papaver has to do with paper? It seemed the appropriate title for this showy, dainty blossom.

As you well know, I'm in the process of opening an international fine art gallery. It's been consuming most of my time and the prime reason why my posts here are so far apart. Don't worry though, I'm still painting.

I'm so happy to announce that the gallery will have a teaching room. My classes will move from my home studio to Portland. I'm really excited about that component. Not only will it give me the opportunity to continue inspiring lots of people to paint, it offers a space to conduct workshops. My plan is to have some of my represented artists travel here to Maine and teach directly in the gallery. How fun and a wonderful opportunity for you!

Until everything is set in stone I don't want to formally announce our intended workshops just yet, but keep your calendars open for late summer, early fall. If you're curious to know right away who's tentatively coming and when, you can contact me personally. As soon as everything is definite, I'll let you know.

One of the great things about teaching at the gallery is all the wonderful art that will serve as examples of the concepts being taught. Often at home, I pull out my own work to help explain things. Now there will be a whole range of works from many different amazing artists to refer to. I think it will elevate the teaching component and offer such inspiring stimulation for all the students. It will do everyone good to be experiencing diverse works of quality art, including myself. When the bar is set high, people tend to strive for higher achievements. It will be an honor to teach in such surroundings.

Please stay tuned for future announcements of upcoming workshops. There'll be lots of exciting news in the near future!

Keep painting everyone. It's wonderful for the soul...

Monday, April 1, 2013

International Fine Art Gallery

Uniting the world through art

How do you like our sign design so far? Our round logo will fit nicely in the empty space beneath the word Gallery. It's all coming together. Just as the sign design develops, so does the entire vision. It's so fascinating to watch the individual parts begin to fall into place. It's very similar to how a painting comes together. Having a general idea and building upon it by responding to everything else you've already done, while keeping the final goal in mind.

I'm a colorist. I teach and promote the use of creative color. Color can be a crazy thing. Each has its own mood and by combining them differently, the artist can infuse different emotions into their work. 

We are also affected by the colors around us. 

I laugh sometimes as my students create paintings that would fit wonderfully in my home. Every color around them, though they don't even realize it, affects the color choices they make. Even those colors way off in their peripheral vision. 

I like to use this concept as an advantage. In the initial block in, I encourage wild freedom of color. Grab whatever color you feel like dipping your brush into. It's just the underpainting and most of it will be covered again anyway. Nothing too scary about that.

Some students are more daring than others. I really discourage beginning with local color (the color we perceive things to be. The leaves are green, the sky is blue...). Those students that begin with the funnest colors create the most energetic and emotionally filled paintings. As the students take breaks and view each others work, the more conservative ones ooh and aah over the wild colored ones. Why? Because the creative use of color infuses emotion.

Those initial colors keep affecting the color choices we make. Just as color around us affects our painting, so do the colors staring bluntly at us from our canvas. This is an important point that I cannot accentuate enough. An emotion you set early on in the process will strive to carry through until the end. As I tell my students, if you begin to paint something with local color, you have no place to go with it. Adding green to something that is already green is not exciting. Adding green to something that is purple, magenta, blue or red creates energy and excitement. That energy translates back to you as the artist. The funner your painting is, the more you wish to continue painting. Like a good book you can't put down.

How many times have you lost steam while working on a painting? Perhaps you had imagined it more exciting than what was reflecting back at you. Grab some color! Have some fun! You'll like it better in no time.

I'm following this concept as I put together ideas for the gallery. Every time I begin to get too bogged down with the more serious business side of things, I throw in something creative. By keeping it colorful and exciting it reflects back a wonderful energy that makes the continued journey forward easier and fun.

Art has it's difficult side too. Focusing to improve can hurt your head. If you can remember to keep it interesting and fun, the journey and the outcome will always be more exciting.

Thank you for stopping by and leaving your wonderful comments. You really make my day!

Note: Roux & Cyr  (pronounced Roo & Sear)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Artistic voice

Water Yoga
Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

When art wants to pour out of you, let it.

Sometimes what feels the most natural in painting gets pushed aside by the artist and thought of as being "nothing" because of the ease with which it was created.

Please don't do this to yourself. I know too many artists that have turned away from their most exciting works because they feel it isn't worthy. How many times have I heard, "Oh that. It's nothing. I came to my studio the other night and just scribbled that out." They're almost embarrassed you saw it. They feel it doesn't compare with their other studio work and frankly at this beginning stage, maybe it doesn't. But with a little time spent developing that different look, it could be your winning ticket.

What pours out of you naturally is YOUR ARTISTIC VOICE.

Make no mistake about that.

The artist's journey can be very confusing and difficult. We spend time looking at art we admire and there's a certain trigger that drives us to try and emulate those aspects we're drawn to. It can be a very good learning tool, but when it really comes down to it, that voice inside is the one we need to listen to. There are two parts to developing as an artist. The learning part and the creative part.

These two parts are very different and shouldn't be confused, though many times they're intertwined and weave in and out of each other. We often become lost in our own webs. After all doesn't it make sense to try to paint what we love? Well, not exactly...

Your voice, like your brushstroke should be as unique to you as your signature. Nothing more exciting and invigorating will pour out of you than your own voice. It might look a bit rough at first, so don't waste time trying to paint like so and so, because what you really need to do is start working on painting like you! Do I really need to point out how many artists are trying to paint like certain leaders of our day? It takes very little time searching the internet to find dozens of painters painting in a very similar style.

You want your art to stand out. People should be able to look at your work and know instantly it's yours.

As many of you know, I'm in the process of opening an International Fine Art Gallery in Portland, Maine. I've been busy scouring the internet for artists to represent. Those artists that are painting what pours out of them without any concern to whether they have an outlet for it or not, stand out above all the rest. I know I have a good eye, but seriously, it isn't hard to spot a true artistic voice when it's floating in a sea of similarity.

So if you're caught in a flood of artists and want to be noticed, remember to shout loudly!   (in your own voice...)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

the Swan

Plumed Elegance
Original oil painting  24x36"
by Susan Roux

It was by accident that I stumbled upon the amazing swan photos I took several years back, when Martine-Alison visited for a month. The day was beautifully warm and sunny and we wondered into the lovely Boston Public Garden. Somehow in the hustle of that busy summer, I'd forgotten that I'd taken them. It was a nice find in my photo library.

The swans were building their nest.

I was mesmerized watching them and I remember staying for a long time at the edge of the roped off privacy railing that had been erected to protect them. As one bird gathered long sticks and twigs that had fallen from nearby trees, the other sat in the nest weaving with it's beak. Some of the sticks were way too large and heavy. They needed to be broken. We would have easily snapped them with our hands, but the swans are only equipped with beautiful feathers on their wings. They had to rely on the power in their strong necks to twist and snap the branches. They worked so hard, pushing limbs against the ground. How I wished I could have gone pass the barrier and snap those large branches for them.

After awhile, they swapped places. It was moving to see how well they worked together in preparation for the little one's to come.

Eventually one left the nesting area for a nice relaxing swim on the pond. I can only assume it was the male, as his display of plumage was quite spectacular. He eventually drifted to a cove where the long reflections of the distant trees darkened the water. It was as though my heart stopped. Such a spectacular scene.

The swan lit up with amazing beauty. I took several photos of him glowing before he drifted back into bright water. I remember that encounter like it was yesterday, yet somehow I forgot about those wonderful photos I'd always intended to paint. Perhaps the time wasn't right.

This is a large canvas, 24x36". It used to be a common size for me, but I have to admit, it's been years since I've painted on this format. My admiration for these swans was still quite powerful and to this moment I remain in awe of what I experienced that day. I needed to paint it large. It just seemed to be the right choice for such an elegant waterbird.

I suspect I'll be painting more of these... It was just too fun.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Say WHAT..?

Grandma's Tea Set
Original oil painting  20x16"
by Susan Roux

Life takes us on some pretty interesting journeys sometimes. Not just art journeys, but all sorts of different types.

I am diving head first into a new project that is about as shocking to me as it will be to you. I always think decisions like this are well thought out and the germination process is at least a year, usually longer, but not in my case. I used to tell people if they looked up stressed in the dictionary, they'd find my picture. Now the word I'm sitting next to would be spontaneity.

What is my project? I'm in the beginning stages of opening an art gallery. Not a typical art gallery, mind you. Oh no, if you know anything about me by now, you already know I don't follow the pack. My gallery will focus on international art. It would have been too easy to contact all you talented, trusted artist friends and fill my space with wonderful art. Why is it, I wonder, that I always push towards the most challenging avenue I can find? Don't wait for an answer here. I don't know why myself...

It seems to be that the nightmare of learning about importing, which by the way also includes exporting (the country the art is leaving) will be at the crux of my journey. By this time next year I might be very educated on the subject and a whiz at filling out the paperwork. (One can only hope...) My nights have become nearly sleepless as I continually ask myself if I've gone completely nuts!

They do say that about artists, you know.

Much like most of you, I've often wondered why artists got the reputation of being loony? I've felt level headed journeying through life and I'm an artist. The common phrase didn't seem to apply at all. But as I look at how I'm completely driven on my rash decision, I understand how the average business person could never move forward on such a venture by simply following their heart. I suppose this is where we are viewed as crazy. Creative people are the ones who carve their way with their hearts.

Now isn't that appropriate for the month of February?

Grandma's Tea Set is not a new painting here on my blog. I've reposted it because I'll be exhibiting it in the Art of Heart exhibition at House Arts Gallery in Gray, Maine. It will hang for a month in a special impromptu exhibition that resembles the type of spontaneity that pushes me forward. Gotta love that!

The opening is Friday, Feb 15, a post-Valentine wine and cheese event. It's 5-9. Please stop in and say hi. Mary Colangelo, the bubbly owner, will be happy to make your acquaintance and I'll be happy to spend some time with you...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Original oil painting  16x20"
by Susan Roux

I've been absent from my blog for so long, it almost feels foreign to me now. I'll have to try to reacquaint myself. For those of you who are loyal followers, I do apologize for not stopping by to say hi once in a while.

I may not have been blogging, but don't worry, I have been busy painting. Painting and experimenting. My subjects have been all over the place. Unlike working in a series, I'm bouncing from on thing to another without any apparent relationship to the previous. I can't explain why. Perhaps I'm searching for something internally and I don't even know what it is! Boy that has a whole level of whacky written all over it.


It's been me. My thoughts, my art, my journey. It's as though the new year held so many possibilities with an enormous amount of time to achieve it that I've become giddy with freedom and lost in terms of a specific goal. I try to put the logic of it all aside, get the analytical me to stop analyzing everything and just go paint. But honestly I can't seem to stop the analyzing part. Must we always know the "why"? Shouldn't it be possible to just "do"? Good luck trying to tell my brain that.

I was looking at some wonderful old art on the internet that just captured my heart. It was so beautiful in light and use of color. You could dream away in it. It just took my breath away...

Of course the analyzing me couldn't just enjoy that experience. It began to analyze why it was so breathtaking. Color associations came into view. There was simplicity in it. It seemed easily understood. I asked myself why I wasn't painting like that? I have the knowledge to understand everything that makes these works so amazing. Why aren't I just implementing all this into my own work? This is when I became scattered.

Perhaps it's much like a block. The awareness of a concept, without complete clarity on how to execute it. The odd thing is, I don't feel blocked at all. I feel something is awakening in me. I don't even know what it is to put it into words. But certainly something is gnawing at me from inside. As I write about my journey, trying to explain it to you, it seems clear that my answer lies in going back to view old beautiful art. What made it so powerful yet dreamy all at the same time? It's how I'd like my art to be. Grab you and put you into a dream.

Wow, I've never been so resolute with a definition of what I'm working towards. Is this what artist's statements are made of?

Here are some of my scattered paintings:

Orange on White
Original oil painting  20x16"

Orange on White, detail

Victorian Porch
Original oil painting  18x24"

Oceanside Rose Cottage
Original oil painting  18x24"

Sun Dappled Garden
Original oil painting  20x16"

Just as the sun is firing up, percolating, getting ready to explode out in my top painting, Awakening, I feel something is bubbling inside me just waiting to burst out. I can't wait to see what it will be...

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Dreams and goals

Up On Lighthouse Hill
Original oil painting  22x28"
by Susan Roux

I love this time of year.

In Maine the weather's raw, the snow is bright and glorious and my focus is to jump head first into (no not Sebago Lake with the other Polar Bears...) my art! There's something cozy about winter after the holidays. The house is warm with the smell of wood wafting each time the stoves are loaded. You could cozy up by the fire with your favorite drink or... spend relentless hours in front of your easel.

I usually choose the latter.

It's also a time to look at life and your current direction to see if you're staying on track. Goals have been made over time and if you're like the pack, the end of a year has us thinking about them more than usual. With it also comes the feeling of time. A whole new year ahead of us, much like a blank canvas, to be filled with something new. Endless possibilities. What will you fill your new calendar with?

Are you looking for gallery representation? Perhaps you'll peruse new opportunities for artist? A competition? Will you be taking a workshop or two? Maybe your contemplating teaching, sharing your skills? Will your focus be on marketing yourself? There's a certain excitement in knowing you have a choice to plan and choose whichever direction you want. Sure it will take a lot of motivation and hard work, but you have a whole year ahead of you! Piece of cake.

As for myself, yes I have approached a few new galleries for further representation. To be honest, it's still scary. The first time you put yourself out there to be judged can be terrifying but for those of us who've been out there awhile, it still holds a level of anxiety.

The anxiety goes both ways. You feel like you're holding your breath waiting for their response. You're trying to brace yourself for the rejection. Are you standing firmly enough or will it knock you right over? Those nagging questions circle in your head. I like to think I'm sturdy enough to have it bounce right off of me. Shake it off like it wasn't a big deal. But we all know that those rejections can be crippling.

Then there's the other side of the pending anxiety. What if they do accept me??? It will be very affirming and a wonderful boost. Complete joy! You can just imagine your creative energy escalating. Escalating until you get to that point when you doubt yourself and wonder if you can continue to create a level of quality that satisfies your new gallery? Ouch. The things we do to ourselves.

Art has to be one of the most difficult ventures. I know we can't help ourselves and the desire to create can consume us. But the reality of it is we are drawing from within. Exposing ourselves in our most naked form and the fear of being judged and then rejected is terrifying. I don't care how long you've been doing it. It's as terrifying each and every time. The better you get, the higher the bar you're reaching for. Will you grab and slip and come crashing to the floor? Or will you reach to a comforting hand that pulls you upward towards your dreams?

I've been looking at your blogs and I love your goals. It's so inspiring to read. My favorite is those of you professing to paint 30 painting in 30 days. It's a huge commitment. I think of it differently than the daily painters. I imagine normal size canvases with full fledge paintings. I don't think I could keep up that momentum. I'm pretty prolific but that would do me in. I applaud you for your gumption and drive.

Whatever your goals are, I wish you the tenacity to push on no matter how terrifying it might be and be successful in achieving them.

What are you dreaming for this year? What bar are you reaching for?