Artist Ann Rea
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.
Let the Editing Begin!
photo-127 I’ve finally completed 20 oil studies for a private large scale commissioned painting of Benovia Winery's vineyards in Healdsburg, CA.  This commissioned painting is a very personal and everlasting Christmas present to a special husband from his loving wife. Today is a day of editing.  Part of my process of creation is in fact, destruction. Editing involves deciding which oil studies will stay and which will go. In this process I also realize what still holds my attention, curiosity, and creative energy.  This is key.  Because I need to have this creative energy to successfully reinterpret an oil study on a larger scale.  So I’ll give my lovely patrons some choices, but I’ll also provide my experienced recommendations and insight. It’s like a mini beauty contest for each oil study.  I literally line them up in order of my best to, not my best.  This requires serious critical confrontation but it’s also a release.  I get to ditch what’s not working, I realize what is, and I gain obvious and subtle insights into my work. One consistent aspect of my work is that those subjects that intrigue me most, but that I’m not so attached to, always come out best.  It’s a delicate balance of opposites, of remaining engaged yet detached, like destruction and creation. Many collectors will ask, “What do you do with these rejects?  May I see them?  Buy them?”  It would be like showing the reader my first draft of this post.  The answer, “Of course not!” The rejects are destroyed and this act of destruction is energizing and provides fuel for more creating.
At Last, I’m Back at my Easel!
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] At last, I’m back at my easel re-examining studies of Benovia’s vineyards.  I feel like I’m recovering from creative withdrawal.  A certain anxiety is melting away. My head has been focused on business proposals and meetings with potential strategic partners.  Some wonderful candidates but  a few remind me of my days within the padded corporate cubicle. The distance from my intimate creative process is absolutely necessary.  And running my business certainly provides this. My creative process is like writing a draft, and rewriting it again and again.  I can get too close to it.  But when I walk away for a while I return with fresh eyes and energy. When I return to the easel I’ll look at a canvas and think.  “Why did I paint that?  It’s horrible.” Or. “That one is not so bad.” My dirty secret is that there are paintings that I almost ditched but instead they actually sold to very satisfied collectors.  Of course, those paintings number very few. I’m excited to return to this collection inspired by Benovia's vineyards and to discover new facets of each painting, like a play of color, composition, or shift in the feeling of the work. In a way, it's like the paintings are me, staring back at myself. It’s an honor and a privilege to think that one day they’ll be staring back at my collectors.  And knowing this drives me to keep working.
I Believe in You
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] When I was starting out painting for a living I needed to hear, “I believe in you”  from the people who were important to me.  I borrowed their faith.  And as I achieved success I was able to believe in myself even more.  I needed to hear “I believe in you” to counteract the intermittent doubtful commentary coming from between my own two ears and from others who essentially said that I was nuts to quit my job, with health insurance, and move to San Francisco to paint for a living.  “You do have savings?”  “Well, you can always go back to project management consulting?”  I'd think, “I'd rather swallow a chair.  I’ll tend bar or start my own house cleaning business if I have to.” I still need to know from certain people that they believe in me.  Who doesn’t benefit from knowing that others believe in them? But of course it’s true that one’s belief, one’s confidence, is ultimately what shapes their daily reality.  So I’m conscious of my inner dialogue and there are days that I must stand guard at the gates of my mind by redirecting my thoughts. The very best way to redirect my thoughts is to be present.  And painting is the most effective antidote to my drifting or chaotic thoughts.  Why?  Because the paint doesn’t lie.  It offers instant feedback on my level of relaxed focus. As I develop my current series of Benovia’s vineyards I’m also mindful that my painting will have an effect on the energy of the room that my collector’s place it in.  And I want that energy that my collectors feel, even unconsciously, to be positive and inspired.