Asheville artist

"Why Should I Purchase Artwork?"

artwork painting art gallery.jpg

As an artist with an open studio, there are lots of questions I get asked from people who are visiting Asheville’s River Arts District. Sometime, I should make a list of the funniest (i.e. strangest!) questions I get asked but that’s for another blog post. :)

There is one question out there that is very rarely asked but is actually a valid question: Why should I purchase artwork? I almost think that if you’re asking that question, you probably shouldn’t be buying artwork. You should just go home to your concrete cube, turn on your single light bulb in the middle of the cube, sit down on your mat and stare at the wall and drink your protein smoothie. What? You have a nice house on a hillside with a nice view? You have a wide screen TV? You have granite countertops in your kitchen? Why? Is that necessary? As far as basic human needs go, we just need shelter (a roof and preferably some walls). Is the rest necessary? As far as basic human needs go, we just need food. Are herbs and spices necessary? Is awesome flavor “necessary”?

Is artwork a good investment? Yes. Absolutely every time.

Why have a nice house? Why have a nice car? Why have anything other than what is absolutely necessary? Simply because those extra things give us joy. Why sprinkle herbs de Provence on your chicken? Those herbs don’t add any nutritional value, so they’re unnecessary, correct? Technically, yes. But we add them because it just really makes the chicken taste awesome, right? Herbs de Provence gives us joy. The nice extras on top of the absolute rock-bottom necessities are added to life because they give us joy.

So, is artwork a good investment? Yes. Absolutely every time. Joy is beyond value. Can’t afford a $100,000 painting by some famous artist? Neither can I. (That’s why I paint my own paintings!) What I’m talking about is not necessarily a huge financial investment in art (unless you have deep pockets and that artwork you would like to purchase gives you joy. If that’s you, please email me at stclaireart@gmail.com or visit my studio at 344 Depot Street, Asheville NC. For the rest of us, what I’m talking about is even small, wise investments into a local artist because he or she is creating things that add joy to this world. When you purchase a painting or glass vase or a ceramic pitcher or piece of hand crafted furniture, you not only invest into something that adds joy to your own life, but you’re investing in another human being, enabling them to continue to create, which gives them joy. Joy goes all around!

So now and then, reach for that nice bottle of wine, sprinkle those herbs on your meat (or veggies) turn on some beautiful music, watch a sunset and sing. Why? Because it’s a necessity? Well actually, yes I think it is.

What Was Art School Like?

Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

The other day, a family of five came into my art studio in Asheville. They’d been browsing in and out of the different art studios in the River Arts District and had a lot to say about the artwork they’d seen and artists they’d met. Super nice people. This couple’s son said he was interested in pursuing art as a career and Jim (the dad) asked me if I’d been to art school for training and if so, what was it really like? Was it worth it? Oooooo. Good blog post idea!

So, I’ll try to condense what was a half hour conversation into a short blog.

I really think that if it’s the “right” art school, it can be really valuable to an artist. “Self-taught” is fine, don’t get me wrong. No one taught me the technique I’m known for in my artwork. I made it up. But…I made it up using the tools I got from my education. I went to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. It was extraordinarily challenging but was definitely an amazing experience. I absolutely loved college. One of the things I learned there was to be organized with my time (a valuable tool I’ve used ever since). The work load was so intense and the pressure on the students was incredible. The years I attended, Art Center was ranked #2 (right behind Harvard School of Law) in terms of stress level on the students.

“Crit time” reduced us college students to tears…”

This was also the place I learned to take artistic criticism. I had to either learn to take critique or emotionally crumble! See, upon completion of our assignment, we would post our work on the walls around the classroom. Then we’d each present our assignment, and each of the other students would take turns expressing what was right and what was wrong with what we’d done. There was none of this “now remember, with art, there are NO MISTAKES”. Don’t believe it. “Crit time” reduced us college students to tears. It was brutal and really, really helpful (if you opened up to listening).

The other really helpful thing we learned was about the correct way to compose a piece of art. Did you know there are good and bad color combinations and good and bad compositions for a painting? Oh yes. We learned color theory and we learned about the laws (google "the Golden Section” sometime) that govern makes a pleasing composition of a piece of art. When I got to this point, Jim (the dad in my now captive audience) asked “What about abstract art? Would those rules apply to types of art other than landscapes or still life?” Oh my gosh, YES. Color and good composition are all you have with an abstract painting. Knowing the rules is even MORE important in an abstract.

My time at art college was amazing. I so appreciate the instructors, the brutal critique (though I didn’t enjoy that at the time) and the awesome life-long friends I made there. Because of all that, I’m able to now paint full-time and live in an awesome place like Asheville (and talk to nice families coming into my art studio asking me about my experience at art school. :)

"The Four Seasons on the French Broad River"

“The Four Seasons”

“The Four Seasons”

Growing up in Southern California, I never really experienced “seasons” per se. There was “foggy season” (May-June), “Fire Season” (September-October) and the rest was just hot. Living now in Asheville, North Carolina, I’m so loving the rhythm actual seasons bring to the year. Winter doesn’t last ALL that long, and it usually brings with it a few beautiful snow days. Spring is amazing. Absolutely awesome. Dogwoods are blooming and daffodils and tulips are going crazy. Summer is hot yes, but perfect for tubing down the French Broad River, hiking and camping up in the higher elevations. And then there is autumn. Oh my gosh. Autumn was always just a “theoretical” season growing up. Autumn in the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina is amazing. Autumn brings more visitors to my art studio in Asheville’s River Arts District than any other season of the year.

“…the power of beauty inspires the power of healing…”

The beauty of seasonal change is a big part of what I love about living in Asheville and working in my art studio. So I was really excited to have been asked by Mission Hospital to create a “Four Seasons” series for their Asheville campus. Each panel is 42” x 16” and each are covered with multiple layers of solar-resistant resin (so the surface is glassy-smooth).

This series was inspired by the many floats down the French Broad River that Joy and I make every summer, and it was great fun depicting each season, trying to think of the particulars about each one (blooming dogwoods in the spring panel and pink rhododendrons in the summer panel). My hope is that this series gives the doctors, nurses and patients at Mission the opportunity to “get lost” in each scene, and that the power of beauty inspires the power of healing. I think that’s possible!