abstract photograph of pens

Afraid To Write About Your Art? Use These Easy Tips.

abstract photograph of pens

Marisa D. Aceves. Penscape 1. Digital Photography. 2016.

To view more of my work, please visit acevesart.com.

Article by Marisa D. Aceves

Every artist knows.
Creativity equals happiness.
When you get a new idea, you race to your studio with sparkling eyes and child-like enthusiasm.
Then, you read dozens of art marketing articles telling you to write an artist statement for your website.
People, galleries, and your art-loving aunt need to know why you do what you do.
There’s only one problem.
You’re not sure how to write about your art.
You start to begin, but the inevitable happens.
The joy fades.
Irritation begins.
Your story seems far away.
Why is writing about what you love to do so intimidating?
If the thought of captivating your future collectors makes you succumb to writers’ block and toss your laptop out the window in disgust, you’re not alone.
Let me share with you a simple truth that many artists and creative business owners fail to realize:
You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to write about your art.
Learning to craft a compelling story isn’t child’s play.
It takes practice, dedication, and a healthy dose of humility.
You could spend hours learning the long way.
Many people do.
You’re not many people.
That’s why you’re here.
Follow these simple tips, and you’re on your way to success.

Give A Little History

Photo by Jason Wong on Unsplash

Galleries, collectors, and the general public are anxious to know how, when, and why you became an artist.

Some artists take the traditional college/art school route, while others discover their love of art after many years of success in another occupation.
Include this information in the course of writing about your work. If you’re an artist who has a background in other fields of expertise, and you apply this experience to your art, explain how this adds to your unique approach and perspective.

 Write About Your Work Often

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Practice removes your fear of writing.

While this advice seems scary at first, if you’re still learning, you’re always new at something. Set aside time in the day or week to write down your thoughts and feelings about your work. Create a schedule that you know is easy to keep.

Write-In Small Increments

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Short writing bursts keep you on track.

Sitting yourself down to write for an hour or two can lead to procrastination as you wait there, tapping a pencil to paper, hoping the words will flow. If you know that you freeze when forced with a long, drawn-out job, you may want to spread it out and do other things in between writing. Taking frequent breaks or time alone to reflect eases your anxiety and helps you to collect your thoughts.

Learn From The Writing Of Others

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

Research strong artist statements, essays, and grants that have intrigued galleries and collectors in the past.

The best way to learn how to write about your art is to familiarize yourself with the way fellow professional artists write about their work.

When you’re studying articles artists write about other artists, consider these questions:

a) Do they include background information about the artist before describing what they do?

b) Are they providing information about the artists’ level of education, awards, and experience?

c) Is there an attempt to describe what is unique about the artists’ work?

Once you understand how to extract small pieces of information from art articles, you’ll approach yours with less intimidation.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you examine other professionals’ artist statements:

a) What are the main themes or subjects of their work?

b) What is their particular medium?
(ex. Are they a painter, sculptor, photographer, …?)

c) Why do they create their work?

d) Who is their audience?
(ex. Is it for a rural community, animal lovers,…?)

As you read their statements, make sure to answer the questions mentioned above. When you finish, you’ll have a rough map of the information that you’ll need to include in your statement.

 

Edit Your Work

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Before you publish or submit your writing sample, make sure you correct errors in spelling, punctuation, and delivery. This is especially important when applying for grants and scholarships. You may not get a second chance. Have a writing editor proofread your work for any inconsistencies in style and delivery. Make sure to get additional advice from mentors and other professionals in the industry, so you know what they’re looking for.

 

You can learn to write about your art, or pass on the responsibility to others who may or may not truly understand your vision. Sure, it’s kind of scary at first, but as you face your fears around the art of communication, your steady progress will open up opportunities you could never have imagined.

Be pro-active.
Your art deserves it.

 

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Ordinary Objects That Look Like Modern Architecture and Flowers

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Marisa D. Aceves. Metallic Star Flower. Digital Photography. 2017.

To view more of my work please visit acevesart.com .

We’re on the third weekend of our Christmas Countdown! This object was originally meant to be a part of our Christmas festivities. When we saw the object at the super store last year, we knew it would make the perfect addition to our holiday decor. Unfortunately, as beautiful as it was, it failed to solve our decorating dilemma. It’s now stored away in our garage somewhere, waiting patiently for a new home or a future appearance.

Can you guess what this object is?

What does it remind you of?

How To Determine Which Color Filter Is Best For Your Photographic Subject

Bubble Landscape (Red)
Bubble Landscape (Red). digital photography. acevesart.com

If you have never experimented with the color filters on your camera or photo editor, now is the time to try this useful exercise.

You have already chosen a specific photographic subject, but you have to determine what your are trying to say with that subject.

Whether it’s line, shape, or color that you are trying to emphasize, one has to maintain dominance.

In this demonstration, we will be covering color filters and how they affect the look and feel of the photograph.

Example #1: Bubble Landscape (Red)

Here is a an example of a photo which I have previously featured on this blog:

Bubble Landscape (Red)
Bubble Landscape (Red)

Bubble Landscape (Red). originally featured a bright swatch of red that led the eye into the picture, but the color was a little dull. After adding a small concentration of additional red using the color saturation filter, the subject of the photo comes to life as the plastic bubble texture appears to be floating over a brilliant red plane. The unusual texture coupled with the intense hue  create a decidedly modern statement.  As you can see, color is the dominant factor in this photograph, but let us examine how the look and feel of this same picture can change when we remove the red color that originally drew us in.

Bubble Landscape (RED) B&W version
Bubble Landscape (RED) B&W version

In this next example of the same picture, all of the color has been removed from the picture to create a high contrast, black and white monochrome version. When the color disappears, our focus is centered on the lines, forms and values present. Now the photo has an interesting, conceptual, almost industrial feel. Form is dominant, line follows. Notice how the repetitive forms of the bubbles create rhythm.

Bubble Landscape (RED) Sepia

In the third example we will move on to the sepia filter to see how it effects the picture. The sepia filter gives the photograph an antique feel that seems in conflict with the modern lines and forms. Instead of looking like a piece of metal or glass, the sepia lends itself to a more scientific interpretation. The photographic slide feels more like a cropped petri dish or a sample of the eggs or scales of a 19th century specimen. Again, form is dominant.

Bubble Landscape (RED) Blue TInt

For this last sample I used a concentrated cyan blue. Form is still strong, but once again, color becomes the main focus of the photograph.  The cool, cyan blue reminds us of the ocean.  The small plastic bubbles suddenly  have a new meaning as they gradually begin to take on the appearance of a school of jellyfish swimming in unison.

Example #2: Ornamental Op Landscape (Rose) 

If you have been following this blog, you will immediately recognize this picture:

Orna-mental Op Landscape- Rose

Line, Shape and Form work together, but color steals the show. The metallic green half sphere in the middle of the design seems to bust forth as brilliant oranges, greens and  magentas radiate from it’s center. It’s the color that draws you into the picture. The photograph has a floral theme even though the subject of the photo is not a flower. Color saturation was used to slightly intensify the color.

Orna-mental Op Landscape- Rose B&W

When we strip the photograph of it’s color, we begin to notice the difference that it makes on the way the same subject is interpreted. Now, the object looks like a large metallic eye, staring intensely at the viewer. While it still has somewhat of a floral look and feel, an uneasy surrealist/sci-fi effect is immediately attached to the object. High-contrast monochrome (black and white) has been used for decades, but your subject will help you to determine whether you feel that monochrome is appropriate for your photography theme.

Orna-mental Op Landscape- Rose Sepia

A sepia filter is then added to the monochrome and the photograph looks as though it were taken in the later part of the 19th century. The unusual subject looks like the eye of an unknown cryptid (unclassified creature), perhaps a once thought extinct species of fish. As we have discussed before in the previous example above, sepia added to a photograph immediately appears to give it an antique feel that sends us mentally and visually back to the era of the birth of photography.

Orna-mental Op Landscape-Blue

Finally, we end with a cyanotype blue filter which makes us think of the regular, geometric shapes  of water crystals or snow flakes. The icy, rich cyan blue also mimics the effect of looking into a  well. The repetitive lines, and shapes pull us into its’ unknown depths.

In conclusion….

I chose the vivid color version of both of these photos, because I wanted to draw the viewer in with color first as many people have an immediate, emotional attachment and reaction to certain colors. Most people are not as attached or attracted to common everyday objects as they are to people, pets and favorite locations. The challenge of every abstract (non-representational) artist, particularly photographers,  is to develop people’s interest in things that they would ordinarily dismiss.  So drawing people in with dramatic color helps to create interest were there is none.

The other choices that we have covered are certainly viable options for both abstract and representational photographic subjects. It all depends on what you are trying to convey to the viewer. Is there an underlying theme to your work? This information is important to consider as you compose and edit each picture as well as entire essays.

The Applause Factor: Why Do We Need People’s Seal Of Approval To Create Great Art?

Picture of a Perfume Bottle

Bottle Landscape: Composition 1. digital photography. For more examples of my photography please visit http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Perhaps it is deeply ingrained in us to want and seek approval from our peers.

As tiny children many of us learned that our artistic talents would inevitably serve as a vehicle to generate the response from others that we felt, at least at some point, we badly needed, but do we still require public adulation in order to create meaningful art in a landscape of mass produced, simulated authenticity?

While constructive criticism is meant to be productive, often leading us to question the how, why and where we create art, do we always have to remain in comfortable agreement with the dictates of our present generation of thinkers?

Indeed, great art has been created during the most turbulent times.

The willing participants of a variety of art movements throughout the decades have often encountered intense opposition to their candid interpretation of the historical era in which they lived.

We all know that a great deal of growth involves risk.

The courage to take that risk in an often hostile, cutthroat environment leads many aspiring artists to despair as they try to predict what popular art critics will esteem.

Some artists value sustained attention on their artwork to such a degree, that they unapologetically hand over all control of their creative output to what they perceive is the reigning art intelligentsia.

While these artists may initially experience the attention that they desire (their Warholian fifteen minutes), eventually, they regret trading their unique artistic vision for the limited creative expression that they are allowed to have in order to maintain representation.

The galleries will sell what the market will bear; when that market does not currently include the work that certain artists produce, these particular artists find themselves confused, overwhelmed and unable to financially back the work that they are passionate about producing.

Not all art stories end the same way though, some artists are able to address their niche audience successfully while earning a decent living.

However, no matter how much artists wish to take mass consumer culture out of the mix, we are still forced to deal with the bottom line.

When we are young, naive, and fresh out of art school, we dream that we can “have it all”, without compromise, but the real world shows us that art is as much a business as real estate.

If this fact leaves you disenchanted with the idea of sharing your art with a public that may or may not always be ready to receive it, you’re in good company.

If artist’s wish to survive professionally, they will often find themselves compromising at some level in order to adapt to the current art market.

When considering these factors, artists feel like applause equals sales which results in a thriving business, yet this is not always the case.

Some works are critically acclaimed, but they do not sell well in the marketplace because they are unable to generate the kind of mass appeal that results in a sustainable income.

However, these works are considered great because they immediately address issues that are relevant socially, politically and historically.

On the other hand, some artists produce decorative art that the general population can easily appreciate; therefore, people are more likely to purchase work that reminds them of things that hold a special place of importance in their lives.

Work that reminds people of family, friends, beloved pets or special travel locations that they wish to visit or have visited in the past receive a different kind of applause which does in fact result in sales.

The natural birth and death of art trends will facilitate the opening and closing of small galleries hoping to ride the temporary wave of “latest discoveries”.

Should you create art exclusively for fabulous yet fickle collectors who are often highly influenced by well-established art world agents and gallery owners?

Will you join the ranks of decorative artists who produce design oriented works with the sole purpose of beautifying homes and offices?

Could you produce thought-provoking works that challenge the prevailing opinions, lifestyles, and attitudes of the current culture in which we live?

If your expression is not authentic, is the brief period of admiration you experience really worth it?

Whatever artist that you decide to become, (whether you make the majority of your money from art production or you choose to rely on another profession for additional income), you will never feel completely satisfied with your artwork or your role as an artist until you have enough guts to pursue the type of art that you have always wanted to create.

In time, you will find your audience, it may not always be big, but it will be a genuine.

Happy New Year: What Can We Expect in 2015 ?

Orna-mental Op Landscape- Rose

Marisa D. Aceves. Orna-mental Op Landscape: Rose. digital photography. http://acevesart.com/

As this year comes to a close, we may choose to take this time to reflect on what we would’ve, could’ve, and should’ve done.

Then we could. . . .

I don’t know. . . kick ourselves in the butt for only accomplishing some of our goals.

However, this would just be yet another pointless exercise because all the things we did or didn’t do this year have past.

Now we look forward to 2015 with all the excitement, victories, opportunities and downers it will bring!

Until then. . . .

I am wishing you all a wonderful, productive, and artful new year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why Thinking in Absolutes is The Grinch That Could Steal Your Creative Christmas

Orna-Mental Landscape 1

 Ornamental Op Landscape 1. digital photography. http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Artists are peculiar creatures.

When you’re an artist, you use your active imagination to create works of beauty, works that the speak the truth, and works that question the nature of reality.

You can also use that same imagination to torture yourself by adopting a fatalistic attitude toward your life, artwork and relationships.

When things are going well you are able to reach your goals easily, colleagues, friends and strangers compliment you on your work and your confidence soars.

You tell yourself that you can go anywhere and do anything you please.

Life is beautiful because you’re the art star you always wanted to be.

This sudden surge of self-esteem leads you to take on an enormous and costly project that might be a little beyond your present abilities.

A series of things go wrong.

You try to shake it off, but you feel the irritation growing.

You’re over budget and your clients are breathing down your neck.

Nothing seems to satisfy them.

The project fails.

You kick yourself.

A barrage of negative thoughts run through your head as you try to recover what little self-confidence you have left.

Did you make a horrible mistake?

Have you chosen the wrong career?

Will you ever experience the high of success again?

In order to try to curb this relentless cycle of mental flip-flopping, you must learn to address the individual issues in your life and art business that cause you to view things from an “all or nothing” perspective.

While “thinking in absolutes” can’t easily be dismissed, you may take important steps to minimize the effect it has on you and your art business.

Here are some tips that you might find useful in combating this extreme form of thinking:

1) Stop Taking Yourself and Your Business Too Seriously- While it is important to be a responsible business owner, you can’t get so wrapped up in art production, awards and figures that you forget to focus on meaningful, positive relationships.  When artists fail to learn the art of communication, they don’t know how to deal with project failures or how to smooth things over with unsatisfied clients.  A great sense of humor goes a long way. If you can laugh at yourself and your past mistakes, you can gain the confidence to seek help when you need it without giving in to time sucking negativity.

2) Failures Are Not the End, They Are the Beginning of The Learning Process- When I am tempted to beat myself up over a failure, I try to recall the man that created the Dyson vacuum cleaner.  He went through several unsatisfactory models before he arrived upon the design that would eventually make Dyson a household name.  If you view your failures as just steps to finding out what will work for you and your art business, you will begin to see them as opportunities for growth. There is risk, as they say, in everything.

3) Don’t Underexaggerate or Overexaggerate Your Abilities- When it comes to your art business, know your strengths and weaknesses.  The success of a current project may make you feel like you can attempt anything, but you need to be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do at this stage in your career.  If you are entertaining taking on a more complicated project, I urge you to do your research to find out if you have the skills and budget you will need to finish the project successfully.

4) Rethink your Business Strategy- When you are experiencing difficulty with certain aspects of your business, isolate those areas that are causing you the most problems and take steps to improve these areas.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help with organisation, business relationships, and artist technical problems etc. When you are aware that you are trying to solve a problem that has been bothering you for a long time, the anxiety associated with that problem may lessen.

5) Be Humble yet Hungry- Constantly bragging about your successes or thinking that some success makes you a master in your medium or genre sets you up for extreme disappointment once reality sets in and you begin to find out that you know a lot less then you thought you did.  Instead, let success motivate you to improve your skills while understanding that you don’t know everything there is to know about art.

6) Don’t Be Pessimistic, Be Positively Realistic- I know there are probably many dreamers out there that would like to personally shoot me for making this statement. However, I believe that there is truth in such a suggestion. There is nothing wrong with a positive attitude or dreaming about what you’d like to achieve in the future, but reality teaches you that things happen in steps, not all at once. When you ignore this fact and something goes wrong (eventually it will), then everything appears to fall apart and you find yourself descending into negative thought patterns again. This only makes the situation worse. It is easy to fall into extreme optimism and propose pie-in-the-sky solutions, but when those fail, your optimism goes with them and you are ready once again to visit melancholy land. Be aware of all the obstacles that you will encounter as you learn the skills you will need to reach the goals that you dream about. Approach these in a healthy, but realistic manner, knowing that somewhere along the way, things are going to get tough.  However, you can seek the help, do the research, put in the hard work and practice it takes to overcome them. Unrealistic thinking and approaches to your art business set you back instead of helping you move forward.

7) Learn to Love Problem Solving – When problems arise, try not to give in to frustration.  It’s natural to want things to run smoothly.  When they don’t, it is easy to blame yourself or others around you.  However, every job has its difficulties.  Choose to start seeing obstacles as welcome challenges.  Each challenge offers you the opportunity to learn a better way to approach the situation you encounter.  The second time you experience a familiar situation/problem, you will know what to do about it.

The majority of extreme thinking results from an unrealistic perception of ourselves, our abilities and the world around us.

Once we understand how to properly view our current situation, we can come up with more effective ways of dealing with the problem of “thinking in absolutes”.

7 Ways To Stop Living In The Past Before It Kills Your Future Art Career

Pigment Landscape 3-Wave Copy 2

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Landscape 3: Wave

For more digital photography and painting check out my site at acevesart.com

You know that feeling when you desperately want to move forward with your art career, but you just can’t seem to push those nagging insecurities, irrational fears and unsavory past events out of your mind.

“It’s ridiculous,” you tell yourself.

There is no apparent reason why the past should get in the way of the present, but inevitably it does.

Cleverly covering up your pessimistic view of the world, your art and the people in your life, you naively push your discomfort and general dissatisfaction down so that no one sees that you are effected by a crippling career killing enigma that few people understand, yet many experience, getting stuck in the past.

The daily pattern generally begins with comparing your present earnings with those of other artists working in the same medium.

You then bemoan the fact that they have probably finished their series before you have; yours is taking so much time to complete that you are not really sure exactly when it’s going to get done.

 Breathing heavily as you sigh with the passing of each ego deflating thought, you finally begin to give your precious studio time to mentally reliving all the career mistakes you have made and all the negative interactions  you’ve had with past clients, professors, friends family and acquaintances.

Does your future have to look like your past?

Can you ever gain the respect and recognition you want so badly.

Will you ever move beyond the vicious cycle of negativity that keeps you trapped in a way back machine with no exit door in sight?

There is a door that leads to the present, if you choose to dwell here, but you have to make an honest effort to leave past land behind.

Stepping into the present after you have mentally lived in the past is never easy, but by strategically addressing those areas that steal your peace, sleep and overall confidence, you can learn to stay focused on the things that you need to do to make your career happen.

1) Don’t Marinate In The Past, Plan For The Present So You Can Have a Future – There are few things that can make you more anxious then not knowing which activities you need to finish first.  Lack of structure can cause you to feel confused and hurried. As a result, you can’t enjoy the art you love to do or gain the exposure that you desire because you have never made a decision to write down the goals that you wish to reach in each area of your art business. There are some areas you will need to address immediately before you decide to tackle larger more complicated projects. An added bonus to making a list of all of the goals that you will need to meet to give your art business a better chance at success, is that after you reach a goal, you can check it off your list. This will give you a feeling of satisfaction as you can see in real time that you actually are moving forward.

2) Stop Hiding And Go Seek – While you might prefer to spend all of your time creating art, you need to reach out to your local arts community as well as looking for appropriate venues to showcase your art.  It is easy to worry about not having the skills to take the opportunities that you see around you.  Don’t aim for the opportunities for which you are not yet qualified, but do seek out those opportunities that are within or appropriate to you specific level of ability and experience. Remind yourself this will change as you grow in skills and experience.

3) Move It Or Lose The Day To Negativity – An overabundance of negativity can eventually lead to procrastination and inactivity.  Instead of beating up on yourself every time you feel that you are not moving fast enough or planning is taking too long, consider the things that you can get done at the moment.  For instance, if one of your paintings is taking a long time to dry because of stormy weather, you could tweak your artist statement, research current art world trends, or prepare packages to ship to galleries. What you are working on at the moment may not be what you want to be doing, but at least you are taking care of other important areas of your art business.

4) Study Don’t Worry – Spending hours worrying about whether or not you are good enough to have your own art business wastes time. All the worry in the world won’t improve your skills only diligent study and preparation. There is no easy way to do this, but you can encourage yourself by realizing that over time you will improve your style and technique.

5) Meditate On Criticism That Is Constructive Not Destructive – None of us like to be criticized, but when it gets downright nasty, the sting is often hard to forget. While you may not like people telling you how and in what way you need to improve, it’s necessary for growth.  Focus on positive constructive criticism, the kind where the people that are giving the critique have you best interest at heart not the destructive type in which people tear you apart and berate your artwork  just to make themselves feel better. Clearly, in these particular cases it is the art bullies own insecurities that result in vicious behavior.

6) Eat Your Humble Pie, But Don’t Undervalue Your Abilities- One of the quickest ways to become resentful is to undervalue you abilities and your artwork.  When you make a practice of constantly giving away or undercharging for you work, people will get the impression that you don’t place much value on what you do. Unscrupulous people will gleefully take advantage, while nicer folks will scratch their heads in disbelief and then either forget about what you do or question your credibility.

7) Take A Realistic Not Surrealistic Perspective On The Things That Are Holding You Back- If you are prone to negativity, you probably catch yourself blowing everyday frustrations our of proportion. Throughout the course of your career, you will always find some things that you will need to work on. Make an honest effort to view these daily frustrations and occasional setbacks as they really are not as you feel they are. When you learn to separate your feelings from the actual events that are taking place, you can then come up with a plan to work on and eventually overcome these areas of difficulty.

 The past is called the past because it happened before this moment; it is not happening in this moment unless you decide you want to live there. While the past, although sometimes miserable, is familiar, the present offers new chances to establish better more productive practices that can change the way you function and view your role as an artist.