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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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.

What Is Your Artistic Legacy?

Grandmother's House 1st Bedroom

 

Marisa D. Aceves. Grandmother’s House: 1st Bedroom. digital photography

Years from now…legacy

article by Marisa D. Aceves

For the last three months our minds, hearts, and lives have been tied up in preparing Eloisa’s house for sale.

Although things have slowed down considerably, I have still managed to find solace in faithfully recording some small treasures and a few rooms that remind me of my grandmother’s love.

We will make the long trip to her house again this coming week, but the journey will be a bittersweet one.

Potential buyers will traipse through the long corridor with its’ gold linoleum floors, gradually making their way through the living room, bedroom, kitchen and bath.

Eloisa was not her house; it was only a place she occupied for a certain period of time.

She has been gone for fourteen years, yet our memories of her remain.

It is not as though she sat up one day and announced that she was going to have a wonderful life and endear herself to many of the people that she came into contact with, but that is exactly what she did and all within the small, intimate confines of a typical Texas neighborhood.

The world may find the existence of an ordinary housewife boring even inconsequential.

“There’s not much of a story to tell”, they’d say under their breath preferring to read and write about flamboyant, drunken playwrights or headstrong, oversexed politicians.

There is a story to tell.

While the majority of the world may lack the imagination to see the overlooked beauty and profoundness of everyday occurrences, my grandmother knew that it is a series of small moments that make up our lives not just a couple of huge, game changing events.

If we can maintain a constant attitude of gratefulness for each and every second we are blessed to experience, we will never lose the child-like sense of wonder that leads to happiness.

She grew up sheltered from the persistent pessimism of her day.

Simple swatches of left-over wrapping paper were saved fastidiously, but not out of fear that she would not have enough of the everyday necessities we often take for granted.

“Someone else will need them!,” she would say as she carefully cut the small pieces of tape that sealed her latest birthday present, gently folding the paper into a neat rectangle for a neighbors future use.

Whenever someone was hungry, she always had beans, buttery tortillas and pinched star cookies ready to take home.

My grandmother lived her life for others; the majority of the things she did or said revolved around what was best for them.

She never judged you because you had problems; she would always pray for you and give you a big hug when you were ready to leave.

Eloisa’s legacy was a life of unconditional love and acceptance; it was a life steeped in spiritual simplicity.

Our legacy might be a different one than my grandmother’s, but all of us have an intense longing to be loved and remembered.

We want to know that somehow in this crazy, unpredictable world we made a difference.

What is your artistic legacy?

Is your work a way of life?

Does it illustrate your dreams, fears, and hopes?

What does it reveal about the way you view yourself and others?

Will you make a name for yourself and die lonely, or will you end this life with gratitude surrounded by friends and family?

Can you really have it all or do you believe you must sacrifice everything for your art?

These are questions only you can answer?

Perhaps your legacy will be based on a mantra you invent when you’re sixteen years old or maybe like Eloisa you will simply live an artful life that speaks for itself.

It’s All YOUR Fault!!!: 20 Smart Ways to Stop The Self-Blame Game Before It Ruins Your Health and Your Creative Business

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It’s 3 O’ clock in the morning.  Why aren’t you sleeping?

 

Your mind is racing. Thought after negative thought enters your head like bullets riddling the side of a car during a shootout.

 

That last client thought you were an idiot; if you had just finished that second degree, you’d have made the sale.

 

You’re too slow when it comes to finishing your work; if you could only whip out ten great projects a day, then you’d be productive.

 

You’re so shy you’d rather read a book then start a conversation; if you just had more confidence and could make friends easily, then everyone you did business with would like you.

 

The emotional blows and the mental needling go on like this for hours and hours, destroying your self-esteem and making you feel like the biggest loser on the planet.

 

All you want to do is stay alive,…at least long enough to finish you latest creative project, but every emotion in you wants to tell you it’s not going to make a difference.

 

You’ll still be that failure that get zero results, a miserable self-blamer who get blamed for everything.

 

Tossing and turning you try desperately to stop thinking about all of your perceived failures but. . . . .

 

after all of this, you still can’t escape the inescapable conclusion . . . .

 

It’s all YOUR fault!!!

 

So when you wake up from yet another unproductive night of restlessness and insomnia you begin to wonder . . .

 

Will I ever succeed?

 

By now you desperately want an escape from the constant feelings of isolation and despair, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. . .

 

Feelings lie.

 

That’s right, feelings lie and so do many of the flawed thoughts that cause them.

 

While it’s difficult to get away from the negative thought patterns that keep you in a perpetual state of “self-blame”, dealing with them is absolutely vital for your physical and psychological health as well as the health of your business.

 

What if somehow, you could actually get a good night’s sleep!

 

Seem impossible?

 

Trust me, it’s not.

 

What if their was a way to stop the negative thought patterns that cause you to participate in your own “self-blame game”?

 

Well, there’s actually more than one way to stop the vicious “self-blame game” in it’s tracks before you start to believe your own negative hype!

 

Here are 20 suggestions for defeating the “self-blame” beast before it get’s the best of you.

 

1) Admit that you have a problem – When you admit that you have a problem with self-blame you bring the problem to the surface. It is no longer hidden. Now you can figure out how to deal with the areas that trigger your depression.

 

2) Identify the problem areas that cause you to self-blame – Make a list of all of the areas that cause you stress.

 

3) Create a “plan of action” –  After you have created a list of the things that are bothering you, do some research. Create small goals/steps  for dealing with each problem.

 

4) Adjust your dietA diet full of preservatives and artificial flavors can sometimes have an affect on a person’s moods and overall well-being.

 

5) Remind yourself of all of the areas in which you excelMake a list of all the areas in which you do succeed.  Maybe you’re good at sports.  Maybe you’re funny. When you check the list of the skills that you do possess, this will help you counteract the negative feelings that you get when you sense that you lack an important skill.

 

6) Learn a new skill or do an activity that involves problem solving –  Activities that involve problem solving actually engage left-brain activity.  Engaging left-brain activity helps to quiet the emotional right-brain response to everyday disappointments.

 

7) Ask a trusted friend or family member for additional support – A trusted friend or family member can help give you a different perspective as to the true extent of you problems.  Sometime’s we tend to over exaggerate or blow things out of proportion.

 

8) Read trade magazines and journals – Trade magazines and journals are a great way to check out insider advice on how to solve common business problems that the majority of people face at some point in their careers.  It always helps to know that others have gone before and faced the same or similar obstacles.

 

9) Seek help from a counselor or business consultantCounselors can help you get to the root of why you self-blame. Business consultants can help you to approach those areas of your business that are lacking or are weak.  These are the areas that probably trigger self-blame the most since many people’s feelings of failure are often tied into performance and competence.

 

10) Talk to other business owners and clients – Like trade journals, other business owners in a particular creative niche can provide much needed advice on how to solve the business problems that keep you up at night. Clients can tell you what is both positive and negative about your business practices so that you can begin to make improvements.

 

11) Find support groups – It is important to know that you are not alone.  After all there are others out there that suffer from the same insecurities that you do.  Knowing that you have a group of people that can support you that you in turn can support  helps to improve you outlook on life and can help to alleviate situational depression.

 

12) Change your outlookTry to focus on the “blessings” or positive aspects of your life.  What are you grateful for?

 

13) Do small tasks or choresTending to  small tasks or chores that you can finish easily gives you a sense of accomplishment.  It gives you the sense that you are moving forward.

 

14) Learn from other peopleObserve, learn and emulate people who are good in the areas in which you are having difficulty.  You may not come out an expert, but you will eventually learn something valuable that you can apply to your business practice.

 

15) Volunteer to work with a charitySelf-Blame at it’s core is in fact a self-centered activity. Volunteering to help others takes you away from yourself and your problems.

 

16) Attend a creative business workshopWorkshops are great for helping entrepreneurs think outside the box.  Maybe if you approached your problems from a different angle, you could begin to see the possibilities instead of focusing on the obstacles.

 

17) Listen and participate in a webinar or tele-summit  – Webinars and tele-summits can offer helpful advice on common business problems. The Q&A part of webinars and summits also allow you to contact the professional directly even if you don’t live in the same state.

18) Join local business groupsLocal business groups are a great way to access help, advice and support within your community.  They are also useful for making contacts and networking. The more people you know, the easier it is to help your business grow.

 

19) Participate in an online forumOnline forums are yet another type of community setting in which forum members can ask appropriate questions of other members that are more experienced in certain areas of business.  You may find that you can help to answer other members questions as well. Knowing that you can help someone else with their problems helps you to feel more confident and increases your self-esteem.

 

20) Spend time with friends and family – Finally, don’t forget to spend quality time with family and friends. No, we are not perfect, but it’s nice to know that despite our many faults, there are people that both love and care for us.

Here are some additional resources for overcoming self-blame:) 

1) Steps to Stop Blaming Yourself – http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/15455/1/Steps-to-Stop-Blaming-Yourself.html

2) Avoid All Forms of Self-Rejection: Stop Blaming Yourself – Beyond Blue – http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/beyondblue/2010/05/avoid-all-forms-of-self-reject.html