Artist Ann Rea
I Have Everything I Want
[caption id="attachment_1143" align="alignnone" width="500" caption=""Swept Vines Revisited" Ann Rea ©, oil on canvas, 30"x40" "]SweptVines[/caption] Many of my patrons like to celebrate their “Experience of Art” with an unveiling party.  This is where they host their guests in a venue where I display all of the painting studies and resulting large-scale custom painting. The painting sits on my easel cloaked under black velvet until the reveal. My patrons eagerly anticipate their first viewing while I’m hoping that they’ll love it. Last night in the cellar room at The Villagio Resort and Spa was a wonderful celebration of Mark’s 50th birthday.  His lovely wife Nancy commissioned the painting to mark the celebration and to enliven their Bodega Bay beach home.  And what I did not know was that the painting was also commissioned in part to commemorate the memory of Mark’s mother. It’s an honor to be a part of these precious memories and gifts. Conscious of this special gift, I thought of Mark.  And I felt that this painting needed to be bold, and confident like him. Last night Mark’s friends and family gathered, openly and sincerely expressing their love and appreciation for him.  His reply at the end of the evening was, “I have everything I want.”  How many can stay that with sincerity?  It was heart warming and real. I said to Mark, "It's so wonderful to hear you say “I have everything I want.” Mark asked me, " Do you have everything you want?"  As an artist, last night, I certainly did.  Because when Nancy introduced me she said that I had helped her and Mark "Enjoy a deeper appreciation for life through art."  Ultimately that's what I want to accomplish through my art,  to help people have a deeper appreciation for life, to savor the colors of the moment.
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.
Hopeful Expression
BenoviaStudies The oil studies of Benovia’s vineyards are finally complete.  I’ve touched up some of them.  And with great satisfaction, I’ve tossed some.  Each painting study starts out as a hopeful expression but later it must undergo a critical examination. I’ve explored different compositions, slightly different color palettes, and brushwork in this series.  These differences may not be immediately apparent to the viewer but they’re there. And these differences, these subtle challenges, are what drive my creative curiosity. The oil studies sit upright drying on their racks, like business files waiting to be worked.  Although I’m anxious to get them to my fine art photographer he will scold me if I bring him any more wet paintings.  So I must wait, patiently. But I can’t wait to see this series of oil studies photographed.  Somehow when I see them photographed I see them differently.  A simpler more distilled view.  I suppose it’s the same when you see a photograph of a person versus seeing them in person.  You’re left with a very different impression. When I see the photographs of a series of oil studies they are reduced, simplified. I know immediately which one will work best as an interpretation on a larger scale.  And I'll have an urge to investigate a certain study further.  I have a sense now, which one, maybe two, will work best but I can’t wait to see what the photography confirms.  And then to get them up on for my patrons to preview.
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.
Music Inspires Painting
studies As I work over painting studies of Benovia’s vineyards in my beach studio, I’m noticing the feeling of the music playing blend right into my paint strokes. The music is literally changing the curve of my brush strokes and the speed at which I lay down the paint. I’ve created a soulful vocal selection on a custom Pandora radio station.  This clear sound is beautifully floating upstairs from my Bose speaker system docked to my iPhone.  Gotta love technology.  And the man who got it for my birthday this month. The music somehow creates less distraction in my head and gets me into a creative groove.  You know.  When you’re really feeling the music and you relax.  It’s during that relaxed state of being when I always do my best work. Most of the musicians are singing about love and relationships.  And unbeknownst to them they’re helping me sing about color and form. The music is helping me take what on the surface is an image of a vineyard to something infused with feeling.  Human feeling.  That’s what connects us.  That’s what gives the paint a life of its own.  The pure energy of feeling. Picasso Picasso once said, "I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them." I would say, “I paint objects as I feel them, not as I see them.”
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.
Eight oil Studies Complete - Just a Dozen More to Go!
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] Does that sound like an artist’s creative process?  Well, it’s part of mine.  Like so many things in life, painting is a numbers game.  And the more studies I paint, the better my odds of creating one that I love and one that my collectors will love.   I'm working towards a painting that will hold my interest and attention so that I’ll want to explore it further and reinterpret it on a larger scale. My experience has taught me that the less attached I am to a painting, the freer I can be, and the better the outcome. That tension, or lack of tension, all shows up in my paint.  My art reflects my state of being.  As an artist, my work forces me to face a deep inner awareness that can be a joy or a complete frustration.  The only remedy is to keep working through it and sometimes walk away for a while so that I can return with some perspective and insight. The other reason I take this “give me twenty” approach is because it’s my strategy to avoid perfectionism.  This is a malady that absolutely kills creativity and one that can only/just make me miserable.  Nothing is perfect.  Nothing I’ve ever painted anyway. People always want to know, “What do you with the paintings that don’t make it?”  I edit them, I destroy them.  Just like you crumble up the piece of paper that you jotted down your first bad draft.  Doesn’t it feel good?  Destruction is part of creation.   I wish I had a shredder I could put some of these paintings through.  Maybe one of those tree shredders?
A State of Flow
[caption id="attachment_1007" align="alignnone" width="520" caption=""untitled" Ann Rea, charcoal on canvas "]"untitled" Ann Rea, charcoal on canvas [/caption] It’s well past midnight, and I’m sketching charcoal on canvas boards from several photos that I’ve taken in Benovia’s vineyards.  With each series I challenge myself with a new focus.  There is not necessarily a discernable change to my collectors' eyes but I have chosen specific challenge or focus.  This comes from an everlasting desire to improve my work, to sharpen my focus, to explore a creative curiosity, and to give my best to collectors who invest in my work. I’m composing the framework of these oil studies with experienced marks of charcoal.  I’m also looking at the emphasis on contrast.  I’ll first identify the darkest dark within the painting and the lightest light.  This helps me gauge the rest of the colored values so that they fall somewhere in between. I’m not thinking so much as I am feeling.  I’m making intuitive decisions.  How do I know what color to choose?   I just know. I feel it.  Hopefully I’ll keep sensing throughout the painting.  If I’m interrupted by someone, or by my own thoughts, the whole thing can be a complete waste. I’m always longing to experience a state of flow.  When I’m in the zone time passes undetected.  I experience a sense of focused relaxation.  Decisions are easy, intuitive.  My vision is sharper, I’m somehow more sensitive. It’s this state of flow that keep us painters addicted to our endeavor.  As a matter of fact the researcher, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and author of the book “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience", fist studied painters.   Why?  He wanted to know what kept artists in pursuit of such a problematic career. Before I plunged into painting full time, I wrote a business plan and marketing plan so that I could spend less time concerned about income and as much time as possible in the state of flow: composing, sketching, shaping paint, and breathing fresh air.
Commissioned Based Fine Art Business
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] My art patrons, who commissioned the Benovia vineyard painting series, recently asked me how I go about doing business as a fine artist.  I’m often asked this, so I decided to share my answer. I have built my business as commissioned-based since I decided to commit to painting full time. People often confuse the word commission with consignment.  Consignment describes the arrangement that most art galleries require of artists. The title to the art is held by the artist while the art gallery acts as the agent for the sale of the art.  The artists gets paid if and when their art sells.  This requires the artist to work on speculation and to accept a 50% to 60% payment from the gallery. Although it’s illegal for art galleries to demand exclusivity, they require that the artists work with no other art galleries in the large geographic market they define.  That means that art galleries will typically require that the artist not sell anything on their own website. Commissioned art is paid for in advance by enthusiastic collectors.  Not all artists accept commissions and even if they do, some do this with a certain reluctance.  Generally artists are reluctant to accept commissions because they have not managed their collector’s expectations very well and they don't have a clear agreement. I have, and I always will, embrace private commissions.  Not only does it make more business sense, it allows my collectors and I to get to know one another. I enjoy our interaction and getting to know each patron. I find energy and inspiration in creating a series or a canvas for someone.  And I think it makes me more mindful of the gift of art.  It’s a personal interaction.  This is also why I don’t accept all commission requests.
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