Tag Archives: art in the recession

A Personality of its Own

“My studio has a personality of its own. It can be a monstrous clutter from one end to the other or, at times, the very model of simplicity.”
– Harley Brown

"Leaving the City" 48" x 40" work on canvas

"Leaving the City" 48" x 40" work on canvas

I have been thinking of doing it for a long time now and I have finally decided this is it, I am going to have an Open Studio! YIKES! Ok, it is not really that big of a deal – or is it? I am very protective of my studio space, I think most creative people are. It is really a sacred area that has a personality of its own. However, there is nothing glamorous about where I work. I would like to tell you that I have a wonderful open space with white walls and such, endless work space and light – not so. I work in a space that was once an enclosed sleeping porch of a guest-house. It is often a “monstrous clutter from one end to the other”. It is tight, it is cramped, it is filled with everything I am sure I need to hold onto for the rest of my life! The house is on my parents property. It has worked out just fine for a number of years. I make full use of the space. I create, ship, store and manage all that I need to from this sacred little space. Leonardo da Vinci said, “An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.” Well, then, I guess I am in the right place! I count myself as being very fortunate to have the space I have to work.

After the end of the summer and the fall show season, I often think about having an open studio kind of event.  Thinking about it is as far as it has ever gone – too much work, not enough space, why bother, you know all the excuses. Well, now I am actually going to do it. Yes I am. My space seems a bit tight these days and I have a lot of wonderful pieces that I would love to have find homes. There are new works as well as many hidden treasures. Works on paper, and works on canvas. I even have some posters and note cards that I did a few years back. The planning is underway and I’ve got work ahead of me – I am making my opportunity happen! I look forward to welcoming visitors! Really I do!

Colter Open Studio
New Works & Hidden Treasures
Friday, November 27, 2009  11am – 4pm
Saturday, November 28, 2009 11am – 4pm

Please come for a visit if you are on Martha’s Vineyard for the Thanksgiving Holiday!

“Look for and make your opportunities happen; they are not going to come rushing up to your doorstep. But sometimes they’ll be looking you right in the face.”
-Harley Brown

Painting is available.

Remain True

“The highest duty of the writer, the composer, the artist is to remain true to himself and let the chips fall where they may.”
-John F. Kennedy

It has been a busy few weeks! I am excited to have recently signed with Lagerquist Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia. Established in 1970, Lagerquist Gallery is Atlanta’s oldest gallery dealing in original fine art. The gallery’s contemporary collection of work includes a variety of styles and techniques from abstract to representational as well as transitional paintings and dimensional work.

"Vanished Concentration" 60" x 48" work on canvas

"Vanished Concentration" 60" x 48" work on canvas

I am thrilled to have recently placed two large scale original paintings and a series of four works on paper with Himmel Hospitality Group, the developer of Post 390, an upscale comfort food restaurant that has opened near the corner of Stuart Street and Clarendon Street in the Back Bay area of Boston. Post 390 is the exciting new project of the owners of “Harvest” in Cambridge and Boston’s “Grill 23” and opened its doors early October.

Not long ago, I was told by a client interested in one of my new paintings that he would only pay 50% of the retail value. “I know artists and galleries are struggling, so this is what I am going to pay for this piece” the client told the shocked gallery owner, who did not even want to present the offer to me. The client insisted and his offer be presented to me. Okay, I know times are tough, but this “offer” if you can call it that, came from a well off professional man whom I doubt would ever discount his own services. I do have to wonder why my education, professionalism, talent, services, or paintings are considered less valuable by this client, than the services of any other professional? I refused his offer,  no thank you, I choose “to remain true to myself and let the chips fall where they may…”

“A main part of the struggle of art has been to make an art that is direct, simple, humane, unconnected with powers that be in their essence… ”
-Robert Motherwell

“To create one’s own world, in any of the arts, takes courage.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

Painting is now in the Post 390 Restaurant in Boston, MA.

If you don’t love something…

“I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off.
If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. 
If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.”
– Ray Bradbury 

Inspired Radiance 30" x 30" work on canvas

"Inspired Radiance" 30" x 30" work on canvas

I love what I do. I paint on a regular basis. I practice, practice, practice and some days it really does pay off. I continually challenge my own sensibilities with new colors, patterns, lines, etc. I paint not because I want to be good – it is more that I  want to be capable. Capable of creating work that is exciting, refreshing and interesting to an enthusiastic audience of at least one ( …or one at a time). Okay, maybe that is the definition of good, but capable sits better with me. 

I received a commission for a large piece that is going to go into a new restaurant opening in the fall. The client really liked one of my paintings but it was not big enough for their space – could I make it bigger? Now, I know that many of you might be offended by this request, but I actually love this kind of thing. It is a challenge to “recreate” on a different scale, different composition, a piece that is equally as exciting as the original the client has fallen in love with. Of course, an original painting is always unique in it’s own right – it has to be. I have to make the work feel the same and yet uniquely stand on it’s own. The same but different. There is something about painting a piece again that takes the work to another level for me. I can hear somewhere in the recesses of my mind the words “now you have painted it well, so paint it again.” I wish I could share with you where those words are coming from but it is lost to me.  Perhaps all that practice, practice, practice really does pay off. Yes, I have heard it a thousand times before, and when a project like this presents itself and I am capable of rising to the challenge, I am grateful for all that perseverance and practice.

“For any artist to persevere, they must have an enthusiastic audience of at least one.”
-Stuart Davis

Work is available.


There is no short-cut

“There is no short-cut to art, one has to work hard, be open and flexible in your mind, keep the child alive inside you, and through a whole lifetime be ready to learn new things and – of course – be mentally prepared for a hard punch on your nose – especially when you think you are doing well.”
Bente Borsum 

"Small Work Series #1205"  12" x 12" work on panel

"Small Work Series #1205" 12" x 12" work on panel

Things are settling down a bit. The flow of external stuff seems to have lightened up for the moment. My college boys are both working hard at their respective summer jobs and the household routines have re-established themselves.  

This week I really enjoyed reading Diane McGregors post addressing “Creative Space”. She brings up a great point about our internal space when she said; “This is where we make our art, in our minds and in our hearts, this sacred space that can give us all we need to create if we just keep it nurtured and free.” Thank you Diane for continuing the conversation! Internal or external, making the time and space to work is important – nurturing our creativity is essential.

I am back in the studio and starting new paintings. I have set a few goals for myself and I have been enjoying the results. Baby steps right now and that is ok. Working on being flexible, keeping the child alive, and being open to the results. Pushing, painting, trying new things; it is all part of my job to discover new work and then give my heart to it. I am recovering from that punch in the nose Bente Borsum speaks of in her quote above. I was not prepared and I admit it hit harder than I thought. I have been repeating this line from Danielle Shelley’s award winning essay  We do Art to be Human ; Art is a perpetually self-renewing source of energy” Agreed! The power of the creative process is self-renewing, perhaps this punch in the nose was exactly what I needed! I need to continue to work hard, no matter what punches are thrown my way.

“Your work is to discover your work – and then with all your heart
to give yourself to it.”

Out of the work comes the work.” 
-John Cage

Painting is available.

Nurturing and Preservation

“Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. 
Lose it and you may be losing a great deal.”
– Robert Genn

"Ambitions Interface" 40" x 40" work on canvas

"Ambition's Interface" 40" x 40" work on canvas

I have been finding it very difficult to get into the studio these days. I have been inundated with all the stuff coming in. My two college students arriving home [with all of their various paraphernalia], the fresh outdoor air, and the recent dissapointing show trips, are my excuses. Stuff. Procrastination has a firm grip on my art world. Stuff. Inspiration and motivation seem to have taken a walk together and  I am left staring blankly into space. Stuff keeps coming in. Perhaps this is not such a bad thing. I enjoyed reading Tight Times Loosen Creativity  at nytimes.com. I am encouraged to read, Many artists …testifying that the recession had strengthened their commitment to their work or allowed them to concentrate on their art — since the time spent on side jobs had diminished — or had even been a source of creative inspiration.” Ok, I admit, I have not felt this sort of creative inspiration in my world [as of yet…]. I make a living through the sales and placement of my work – it is my only job. Stuff. It is what I do. More stuff. I took a deep breath when I read this piece and thought, hmm, perhaps I am not looking at the recession in the best available light. I have been studio bound for many months of the winter, I have been traveling to shows and marketing, blogging, twittering, and more stuff. I need to remember “…that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one.”   Perhaps I need a break. Perhaps I need to make a little space for myself where I can think, nurture my muse, and not get inundated with other stuff coming in. 

“The hardest thing is to make this little space for yourself where you can think and not get inundated with other stuff coming in.”
-Catherine Yass

Painting is available from:
The Blue Heron Gallery
Wellfleet, MA

Is Art a Fringe Benefit?

“Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage – these are the makers of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they have lived. Without them, laboring humanity would perish.” – James Allen

"Smoldering Desire"  24" x 24"  work on canvas

"Smoldering Desire" 24" x 24" work on canvas


I just read an interesting blog post titled “Remaining An Artist”  on a blog titled An Artist In Brooklyn. I would like to identify the artist who wrote it but I am having trouble figuring that out…sorry!  In this post the writer/artist talks about seeing friends who are artists put aside their art, walk away not  to return, the reasons, the sadness, and the encouragement from the writer to, “think of it [art] as a matter of life or death for a unique and precious part of your being…”  Art is a unique and precious part of my being – I choose to make it a unique and precious part of my world. While reading this post that is aimed at encouraging artists not to walk away, I can not help thinking about the way we view the arts in this country. The arts are the first thing to be cut from school budgets, they are considered a luxury to most, something we can do without. Can we? Should we?  Are the arts important? I think the real sadness is the way we value the arts as a luxury and not as a unique and precious part of our lives. When more people begin to believe in the value and benefits that living with art provides – the joy, the emotion, the comfort and inspiration that add to our lives – perhaps then,  more artists will be able to stop walking away from their art. As a society we need to understand and support the artists “who make life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or probably, in the best sense, more wonderful”. We need to stop believing that art is a fringe benefit. Each of us has responsibilities to face, bills to pay and choices to make – choose to live with art, support the artists you know and admire, make all of the arts a unique and precious part of your life. Then perhaps, fewer artists will stop walking away and “Find that courage. And hold on to it. As if it were a matter of life and death.”

Art is important! 

New work on Canvas. Work is available.

“The artist is the person who makes life more interesting or beautiful, more understandable or mysterious, or probably, in the best sense, more wonderful.”
-George Bellows 

A Part of the Journey…

“Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement: for transfiguration, not for the sake of play. It is the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make.”
Max Beckmann 

I really hesitated to write about my not so great experience at a recent festival in Chattanooga. I did not want to bring attention to my disappointing experience – however, I am glad I did. It has been very uplifting to read all the suggestions and comments posted and to share that experience – to share that step of my journey as L. Duane Jackson reminded me when he said,“Chattanooga is part of the journey. Your star is ascending so be patient and continue on the path”. To remember that “for every piece of art, there is a collector out there. Getting them together is the trick.”  Thank you BJ Wright  for reminding me of that! I agree, my pieces often do eventually find their way to the right homes – patience is a virtue – I was taught that over and over again.  My friend Ginny Herzog  who told me, “we need to look at the bigger picture at a particular show…patience pays off”. [there is that word patience again…hmmm] Yes, thank you Ginny, you are right, it is all part of the bigger picture, the journey if you will. Fellow artist Kathy Casey who commented, “Hopefully, the MEDIA will give us a break and quit telling everyone not to buy lattes, eat out or buy non essential things (like ART).” How sad that we are so completely ruled by the fear that the media instills -perpetuates. I know the pain is  real, I know the pain is VERY REAL, but it seems to me we are only prolonging any hope of recovery by living in fear. I am tired of living in fear!  Mary Buek wrote, “I think it’s fear. . . the fear of spending any money at all… It’s tough to justify buying art when you’re eating ramen noodles for supper every night….”  Ok, I understand that, but I refuse to live in fear, I choose to focus on “the quest of our self that drives us along the eternal and never-ending journey we must all make.”  There are many other thougthful and supportive comments and I appreciate them all. Time to move on… time to take another step in the journey…

"Vital Serenity" 40" x 40" work on canvas

"Vital Serenity" 40" x 40" work on canvas 2007

I am pleased to announce that the above work is featured on page 24 of the just released 2009 Studio Visit book [they call it a magazine] published by Open Studios Press, Boston, MA. Artists for this publication were chosen in a national competition juried by Michael Klein, Independent Curator. Studio Visit  volume 5, is part of a new series of books offering artists an effective venue through which to introduce their work to a serious national audience of art professionals. Each volume features approximately 150 artists, who have been selected by professional curators. Studio Visit will be received by over two thousand curators and galleries throughout the country as well as private art collectors and art enthusiasts. 

Painting is in a private collection. 

Making Optimism a Way of Life

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
Lucille Ball 

"Rising Optimism" 24" x 24" Work on Canvas

"Rising Optimism" 24" x 24" Work on Canvas

Keeping busy. Yes! Making optimism a way of life. Trying! Really trying!! It has been a long road, the news each day seems more and more grim. Discouraging. I am making preparations for a trip to Chattanooga to exhibit at  an outdoor art festival [ 4 Bridges Art Festival] next week. I am reminding myself on a daily basis that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged! The sun is still shining, there are people who believe in the value of original artwork.

Havi Brooks wrote a wonderful post, [It’s not the economy.] Havi tells the story of a neighborhood store going out of business because of the current state of the economy. She says, Continue reading

Painting is Hard Work


 “One of the many blessings of being an artist is that you don’t have to wait for someone to hire you before you can work. That’s wealth beyond measure.”
-Eleanor Blair  

"Deliberate Trust" 40" x 48" work on canvas

"Deliberate Trust" 40" x 48" work on canvas

Painting is hard work, not a relaxing hobby was the headline in a short letter by Michael Smith (Dersingham, Norfolk)I found online this week published in the UK Telegraph. Mr Smith states; “Anyone who finds painting relaxing will never make a successful artist.” Relaxing, no I can not say that I have ever found painting to be Continue reading

Breathing Room

“What art offers is space – a certain breathing room for the spirit.”
-John Updike

The simple luxury of time – breathing room – time to experiment with some new pieces. I read somewhere that a recession should be thought of as a recess.** I like that idea, timeout for the soul to play and regroup. The gloom and doom in the news everyday is difficult to bear at times. I am working hard on focusing, creating new pieces and watching as things slowly begin to change in the world. I have added a few new areas to my website. An online sale area for studio sales and a new gallery to showcase some of my smaller works. Art is important.


**I found where I read this great thought!!  It was posted on the NAIA forum for artists by Patricia Hecker. Here are her wonderful thoughts: “There are days I feel very depressed about the climate of selling my work. There are other days where I see this as a time of growth and opportunity. If we think of the word recession and think of it more as ‘recess’……it can become for us the ‘break’ from routine it was when we were in grade school. We probably all loved recess in school. We now have a ‘new’ version of the same. Maybe not as fun, but the time to do things differently. An intermission to re-group.”

Thank you Patricia!

These are 6″x 6″ square on panels.

"Small Work #61"

"Small Work #61"

"Small Work #59"

"Small Work #59"