Artist Ann Rea
Touring Mondavi's To Kalon Vineyard
[caption id="attachment_1338" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Ann Rea, Cheryl Copham, and Dave Copham"]Ann Rea, Cheryl Copham and Dave Copham[/caption] This Friday afternoon I stood with the winners of the my Experience of Art & Wine from the Naples Winter Wine Festival. Tom and Cheryl Copham and I smiled for the camera as we enjoyed our first toast in Robert Mondavi’s famed To Kalon Vineyard in Oakville, CA. The Cophams  won auction lot #14 that included my Experience of Art & Wine, and other amazing donations from my patrons Sandi & Tom Moran, Meadowood Napa Valley, The French Laundryand Michael Chiarello, to name a few. It was a perfect afternoon.  The light was as clear and crisp as the first sip of wine that we enjoyed that afternoon. I liked the Cophams when I “met” them on the phone.  And I liked them even better in person.  I’m always inspired by the stories of successful entrepreneurs like Dave. And I was heartened to find Tom and Cheryl to be warm and down to earth, like many of my fellow Midwesterner friends. Jani DiCarlo of Robert Mondavi ToKalon Circle guided us through To Kalon Vineyard revealing the different facets of the terroir.  The afternoon light slowly saturated the tops of the vines as we discovered the golden California poppies, the big old oak tree hugging the stream, and the crazy looking cork tree, the rose bushes ending the rows, and finally the garden where Robert Mondavi himself used to love to entertain. I know that the Cophams must be curious about what and where I will be painting the series of To Kalon Vineyard but the truth is I just don’t know.  When I return to To Kalon Vineyard I’ll respond to and then study in oil paint what calls me.  And what that will be could be one thing one day and another the next day.  It’s very personal. It’s simply an inexplicable creative response that only thrives when I release control by thinking too much about it. When I honor my creative impulses my paintings tend to call to viewers.  They have a sense of what I felt blended with what they feel. Art is so very personal for the artist and for the viewer. In the words of Tim Mondavi, "That’s how the best art, and the best wine, are created – from the heart."
An Artist or an Illustrator
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] People will often assume that the patrons who commission me to create a custom oil painting tell me what to paint.  They may decide what vineyard, landscape, or garden they would like as my subject, but ultimately I must decide what inspires me. Just like a chef you really want them to choose their recipes. Here’s an analogy: if you went to fine restaurant, where you admire the cuisine, you would make selections from the menu that the chef has carefully prepared.  You would not go back to the kitchen and offer the chef some recipes.  Even if they are great recipes they are not what the chef is inspired or prepared to cook.  And it probably would be a bit awkward if you started directing.  You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen. Now if you have some specific recipes, and you would like the benefit of the chef’s experience, then that would be like hiring an illustrator.  An illustrator is an artist who you hire to execute your vision.  An artist is someone you commission because you are inspired by his or her vision. I respect the fact that my patrons are making a significant investment when they commission a large-scale canvas.  So I like to give them some input and a sense of what to expect without compromising the creative process. So I’ll create a series of field studies and then upload them to for my patrons to preview.  Then I’ll suggest which few will work best to interpret on a larger scale.  This way my patrons have a reasonable expectation about what they are going to receive and they get to have some choice. I’ve found that this approach helps my collectors feel much more at ease about the commission process.
Just Make Art
newboxofpastels My new box of vivid color arrived today.  I couldn’t wait to open the two-tiered shiny wooden box of pastels from England. This grade of pastels is for grownups, professional artists.  I love them! I can’t wait to smear the pigment with my fingers and to shape forms of light and color of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m reminded of the big box of Crayola crayons that I longed for as a youngster but that I never got.  I’ve got them now and this is so much better! Art has always been my friend.  When circumstances or people were difficult I could always turn to creating something.  Art served as a positive channel of my energy and attention and a way to shut out chaos or concern. And art can transform negative circumstances into something positive.  At least during the time I’m creating I can leave everything else behind. When I was first entertaining the idea of becoming a full time artist I conducted informational interviews with successful full time artists.  One piece of advice that I received was from a well-known ceramist, Donna Billick. Donna gave me sage advice about building my own enterprise versus relying on art galleries.  And then she said, “And when you are not sure what to do next, just make art.” I usually know what to do next but sometimes I’m just not ready, or I need a break, so the best thing to do is what Donna said, “just make art.”
Waiting for the Muse
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] Collectors will ask me if I have to wait for the muse to show up before I begin a painting.  The answer is no. Why?  Two reasons.  Number one, too often it would be a very long wait.  And number two, the landlord will not wait for their check. The fact is that it’s during the act of creating that I receive inspiration. And the more I paint, the more chances I have to be inspired. Now if I’m working on a painting and I really feel like it’s working against me, it’s just plain ugly.  Then the best strategy is to walk away. I’ll let it sit and when I return I can see it with much more clarity.  This perspective helps me understand what's working and what's not. It’s kind of like life and relationships.  I get along with most of my paintings but every now and then I come across a real pill. And that’s okay because these pills give me feedback and I learn the most from them.  After I’ve critiqued the failures I destroy them so that I may release them. So no, there’s no waiting for the muse if you want to earn your living as a painter.  When I show up, creativity and inspiration show up.
When was the last time you painted?
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] It’s not just us artists who are able to access creativity.  Anyone who desires to express him or herself can find their medium of expression. Many people say to me that they envy my creative talent and that they wish they too were creative.  I appreciate their comments but I wish that they knew that they too could access creativity. It’s my experience that we are often placed in one of two buckets.  The right brain, creatives, and left-brain, linear or logical thinkers. In reality, very few of us can be stuffed neatly into either bucket.  I consider myself a very right brain left brain kind of gal. I think our educational system issues these labels based on what we study.  The label is arbitrary yet it sticks and it forms our adult identity. Many have just lost or abandoned their creative interests.  And I think that’s why my collaborative painting events are so popular. Collaborative paintings are hosted at exclusive luxury venues with people who, for the most part, meet all the conventional definitions of success.  When I ask, “When was the last time you painted?” I often hear “kindergarten.”  Sad really.  Because they've waited so long to express themselves. These are confident folks are often initially rather intimidated and they remark, “I don’t want to ruin the painting.” As they trust themselves they transform and say “this is so much fun.” Anyone can access his or her creativity, it’s just a matter of doing it. Just try to flip your creative switch.  It could be writing, cooking, sewing, building a tree house, or decorating. The reason that writers, painters, and actors pursue their craft, against many odds, is because there is such satisfaction in creating.  What will you create?
Do what you love
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] "Do what you love and you'll never have to work another day in your life." I’m not sure who to credit this line to but I do know it to be true.  I know because I’ve worked for a very long time doing what I did not love but what I endured. I started working semi-officially at the age of twelve.  Dipping Dillie Bars into chocolate at a Dairy Queen.  Child labor?  Yes indeed. Before the age of twelve I was babysitting for three neighbor children for over eight hours Monday through Friday for a Summer.  One was only a year younger than me and one was still in diapers.  Mature for my age? Yes. I know how to work.  I fit the first generation American mold.  And so I did  for years, enduring one meaningless job after the other. Everything is relative and often based on our aspirations.  I considered myself during these years fortunate to have a job. Then I realized that I loved to paint and that there were people who would pay for what I was creating.  I did the math.  It was simply a matter of finding enough of them and painting enough paintings. The traditional approach to selling art wasn’t going to work so I had to create another approach. That is what fueled my interest in marketing.  And that why I love marketing and find that it too is a form of creative expression and ultimately financial freedom.
Holding a Wish
photo-128 I was clearing out my studio this morning when I came across some white Japanese bowls that I had I fashioned years ago with a friend who is a ceramicist.  But that I never got around to glazing them as I had planned. Lying on top of a bowl were several fortune cookie messages that I had saved. “Your life will be happy and peaceful.” “You will be unusually successful in business.” “It is better to get something done late than never.” “Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.” “The star or riches is shining upon you.” Now as I read each message I pause and reflect upon my yearning to be a thriving full time artist. I’m reminded of the visit I took in my early twenties to a well-respected psychic In Ohio who actually helps homicide detectives resolve unsolved murders. When I first sat across from her all she knew of me was my name and my birth information. She began my reading with, “There are red sparks flying off of your finger tips.  You must be an artist.” She went on.  "You’ll be moving to California in the Fall. And you hold your wish.” The last statement may seem vague. But it was a very real and accurate statement about my inner world. I do hold my wish and I've held it for many years, twenty in fact. The fortune cookie messages I found today were a poignant reminder of my wish that has come true and that is still unfolding in this moment. May you “hold your wish” and may it unfold for you in this happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.
With Sincere Gratitude
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="352" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption]
The end of this month marks my fifth-year anniversary in business and I'm looking forward to the New Year. Despite the current economy the number of my collectors continues to grow and my sales are still rising.
I'm so very grateful for this extraordinarily fulfilling success.
But no one succeeds alone. I sincerely and deeply appreciate the patronage, support, interest, and referrals I receive from people like you. You have given me an opportunity to express and refine my creativity.
Your support offers me a precious and rare gift to finally live my life’s purpose, something that  I could only dream of before.
I can’t say it enough.  Thank you.
I wish you and yours the very best in this coming New Year. Happy Holidays! With sincere gratitude, Ann
This Canvas or That Canvas
compare2 The great thing about being a painter in this century is that I get to use technology to assist my creativity and range of expression; technology to communicate to you right now, to reach collectors through, and even to show my patrons different canvas size options on their walls.  This relatively accurate digital representation above is something that we could only imagine before. After putting up their Christmas decorations at their beach home in Bodega Bay, my patrons snapped a quick photo of the wall where they will hang the canvas they commissioned of their favorite vineyards.  They emailed it to me over the weekend.  Then I overlaid their favorite of the eighteen field studies I painted in and of Benovia’s vineyards, called “Swept Vines”. The large-scale finished canvas size that they selected originally, first example, was not the same ratio as the field study “Swept Vines”, so the image had to be cropped horizontally.  Sometimes cropping an image works, sometimes not.  In the second example I’m able to maintain the same ratio as “Swept Vines” and you can see that the second canvas size offers more visual impact on this particular wall. When I was in art school I drew 3-point perspective interior renderings for architects to help pay my tuition so I’m not only thinking about the paintings I create but also how the paintings will function within my collector’s environments. I also want my patrons to have as much information and confidence about their selections as possible. Because when they’re happy, I’m happy.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now. – Goethe
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="330" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] I kept this quote pinned to my sad-ass padded cubicle wall for years because I knew that it was true and it helped me get through each day.  Each day that I toiled working for a “Team Leader” that I did not respect and who I was smarter than.  What a test! This discipline of faith still serves me today.  I have big dreams and ambitious goals.  I want to die a life well lived.  I no longer want a commonly defined, traditional,  "good" life. I want to pursue my potential, my particular inclinations, my dreams.  However common or uncommon they are. I had a kernel of faith and it gave me power and magic. This faith inspired action and I began to pursue the bold notion of living a good and prosperous life as a painter.  I knew that there had to be a way. There couldn’t just be one permission-based scarcity model that is the traditional art market.  And I did have talent. My work had received critical approval.  There had to be a way. Art is a business.  That itself is a creation.  I decided to create what worked for me and what added value to my collectors.  With a consideration to my collectors I knew would have a competitive edge and a more rewarding and satisfying exchange with them. So I began, years ago now.  I sold my work in cafes, sponsored events, through referrals, at art receptions that I hosted, and from my wall when I was selling my condo.  It’s the beginning that is bold, brave.  And that is the power, that is magic.
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