Artist Ann Rea
Dreamy Aspens unveiled to Press at Montage Beverly Hills
From left to right, notable Interior Designer Philip Gorrivan, Ann Rea, Susan Feldman Co-Founder of One Kings Lane, and Alan Fuerstman CEO and Founder of Montage, posing for the press last month where “Dreamy Aspens” was unveiled at the Montage Beverly Hills.
When Philip Gorrivan introduced me he noted that “Dreamy Aspens” has been making the rounds from the mountains to coast to coast. “Dreamy Aspens” was painted at my Pacific Beach studio in San Francisco, then it was photographed, framed and crated and shipped to its new home at the Montage Deer Valley, then in October it was shipped to Manhattan where I unveiled it to the East Coast press, then unveiled to the West Coast press in Beverly Hills last month. Phillip quipped, "Next is going to my place in New York City." I was so relieved that Phillip loved it.  Because “Dreamy Aspens” is the focal point of the beautiful model Montage Deer Valley residence that he designed. It was the Montage that chose the study used as the basis for "Dreamy Aspens".  Phillip had no input or preview of what it would look like. Thankfully it all worked out and his design and color palette work hand in hand. This project itself has been dreamy.  It’s a convergence of the best of design, architecture, luxury real estate development, and marketing. Susan Feldmen co-founded One King’s Lane with Alison Pincus. One King’s Lane will be featuring a “Get the Look Sale” in January where you can get the furniture and accessories that are part of Phillip Gorravin’s design. And you can collect the reproductions of three pieces from my Deer Valley series: "Aspens Parting" "Descending Snow" and of course "Dreamy Aspens" The entire series is featured in my book, An Artist's Diary of Deer Valley, Utah.
Creative Uncertainty and Rituals
smoke I just returned from traveling for a press event at Scarpetta’s in New York City to promote the new Montage Deer Valley Residences. Before this event met up with my friend Jonathan Fields for lunch at Soho House, a hip kind of country club for creatives. Jonathan has just authored his second insightful book “Uncertainty, Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance.” If you are involved in any type of entrepreneurial endeavor or if you are a creative who makes their living by way of your creative output. Get the book! Jonathan has outlined clear and useful insights that should be part of every MFA and MBA program. I met Jonathan a few years back when he was writing “Career Renegade, How to Make a Great Living Doing What you Love.” I’ll admit it.  I am biased because my company was profiled in Career Renegade, but I can tell you that each story was inspiring, as was my discussion with Jonathan last week. As we talked about our creative process as it relates to our uncertainties and fears we also explored the antidote, which seems to be both acceptance and ritual. My ritual takes this form.
  • Before I start a painting I put my studio in order. It has to be clean and free of distractions.
  • Then I will light one stick of sandalwood incense.
  • I’ll meditate in silence for about 15 minutes.
  • I pause in gratitude for the privilege and opportunity to make my living painting.
  • Then I set my intention to do my best work that will inspire and move others.
  • Before I pick up the paintbrush I’ll put on some soulful music that might include Amy Winehouse.
This creative ritual drops me down into a familiar mode.  I know, and I accept, that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I remain loosely attached to the outcome. I do know that each time I preform this ritual and I get into a familiar headspace, I’m increasing my chances of creative satisfaction.
Montage Deer Valley Residences "Dreamy Aspens"
[caption id="attachment_1430" align="alignnone" width="400" caption=""Dreamy Aspens, Ann Rea ©, oil on canvas, Deer Valley"]"Dreamy Aspens, Ann Rea (c), oil on canvas, Deer Valley[/caption] I’m working on the final large-scale painting to be featured in the Montage Deer Valley Residences model home to be designed by New York City designer Philip Gorrivan.  This is the underpainting of a large scale canvas for the Deer Valley Montage Residences. I’m drawn to colors shaped by light.  But color and light can only be revealed by shadows. I’ve completed two studies “Early Evening Snowed” and “Snowed Dusk” that are informing and inspiring the final custom large-scale oil painting.  These oil studies provide me with an outline, a starting point, so that the big blank white canvas can’t stare me down and mess with my sensitive head. The studies put me in charge with a plan.  And then somewhere along the way the plan dissolves and I begin to explore new facets of the painting that I hadn’t planned.  Although there is freedom within boundaries, at some point I have to let them blur to allow creative discovery to unfold.  It’s kind of like life. This image is composed of late afternoon shadows formed by the backlit aspens, shadows that are bleeding down the snowy Deer Valley Mountain. Aspens in snow are familiar images that have inspired many painters over the years.  When I was researching this series I looked at how other painters have approached this subject.  The truth is that artists borrow inspiration from one another all of the time.  My mentor, Wayne Thiebaud, half jokingly remarked that he “steals ideas from students all the time.” What I found were many beautiful images describing aspens and they were lit from the front. This is so the artist could describe the aspen's eyes, those distinct dark notches formed by the branches. I just want to imply this detail. What is more important for me express is the overall mood of the image, the emotional versus the literal content. My intention is that late afternoon light spilling long shadows down and across the landscape will create a more sensual, languid, and dreamy quality that invites and stirs the viewer’s imagination.
What going through the Artist’s Mind?
[caption id="attachment_1423" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Ann Rea"]post[/caption] Collectors often want to know; but are sometimes afraid to ask, what is going on in my mind when I’m painting.  The truth is that less is more.  The busier my mind is the more distracted and less focused I am on creating. Think about this.  If you listen to the lyrics of most songs what is the musician talking about?  It’s usually love, relationships.  So what is stirring most in my mind, I confess, as of late, it’s mostly that. Love, relationships. Where do I feel the most depth of emotion?  Love, of course. After having ended a four and a half year relationship I’m processing my regrets, lessons, growth, and all of my feelings surrounding my former engagement. Thankfully, I am at peace and happy to be starting a new chapter in my life and excited as I watch new opportunities present themselves. So what gets expressed, what moves the charcoal line, the under painting, each stroke? It’s the color of my emotions. Even though my work is considered “representational” it’s not literal, it is emotive.  It’s not about a vineyard or a snowy mountaintop.  It’s about how I’m feeling in that moment. What’s intriguing is that although the viewer will never read my thoughts, my work can trigger their emotions.  That is powerful.  It’s this reaction from the viewer that I am most hoping for. While I’m engaged in the act of creating it is the depth of my feeling that motivates my expression.  My patron of the Deer Valley series benefited from my therapeutic expressions as I produced the most studies ever, thirty, for their single commissioned canvas. I might as well channel my energy in a positive and constructive direction so that I can transform it.  Painting helps push thoughts through my mind, moving, reshaping, and evolving them.  Just like a painting.
Montage Deer Valley Painting Series Preview
[caption id="attachment_1378" align="alignnone" width="300" caption=""Aspens Parting" Ann Rea ©, oil on canvas, Deer Valley Montage"]"Aspens Parting" Ann Rea, oil on canvas, Deer Valley Montage[/caption] The Montage Deer Valley painting series of studies in oils are now available at My first series of snowy landscapes presented an interesting challenge as I searched for expressions of color under the predominant subtlety of white snow. As I snowshoed my way up and down the high elevation of  Deer Valley I searched for different facets of this stunning landscape.  As I reflect upon my trek I’m reminded to pay close attention to my quiet creative voice. Because when I do I recognize certain moments that will later will inspire good paintings. Its time now for the next phase of my creative process. Philip Gorrivan, an extraordinarily talented interior designer based in New York City, will be creating a Montage Deer Valley Residence model home where my large-scale oil painting will be featured. I’ll choose two or three of the best of the Montage Deer Valley series of oil studies and let him, and the Montage Residences executives, choose one study to serve as the basis for my large scale interpretation in oils. Is this the way most artists do it?  Not really.  But I like to offer my patrons and my creative collaborators a choice and provide them with a reasonable expectation of the painting that they’ll be receiving. Although patrons commission me to express my creative vision, I do like to provide a way for my patrons to express their preferences that will not interfere with the creative process. What will happen to the other Montage Deer Valley series of studies?  These will be available to collectors on and they may serve as the basis for other custom large-scale interpretations.  And most of my patrons like to commission a large-scale custom canvas and acquire the original study that inspired it. I’m really looking forward to diving into the big canvas next.  It’s an excuse to buy a new brush or two and few new tubes of color.
Montage Deer Valley Oil Paintings-Creation to Destruction
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] The Montage Deer Valley Residences oil painting studies are finally complete! I have labored lovingly for weeks. After these oil paintings are dry they will be carefully delivered to my trusty fine art photographer. He’ll perform a high-resolution scan of each oil painting. Then the series will be registered with the Library of Congress to claim my copyright. Now I’m shifting from a long period of creation to destruction.  Destruction? Yes. Destruction is an integral part of the creative process. Although I created thirty field studies, I’ll edit this number down to a dozen or so before they are photographed. The painting studies that resonate with me, that I’m still creatively curious enough to reinterpret on a larger scale, will be signed and logged into inventory. The rest? They’ll be destroyed. Everyone wants to know what happens to these oil paintings that don’t make the mark. I can hear it now, “Why?! Can I have them?” Of course the answer is, “Nooo.” It would be like publishing the sentences that a writer edited out of their story.  This is quality control.  And it helps us me focus the series. With my guidance, the Montage Deer Valley Residences executives and their interior designer will choose one oil painting study that I will reinterpret on a larger custom sized canvas. This final large-scale painting will be featured in one of the Montage Deer Valley Residences.  And the other studies will be available on Patrons can also commission a large scale custom sized interpretation of a field study. This afternoon I'll be meeting with the Vice President of Sales of Montage Deer Valley Residences and the editor in chief of a glossy luxury lifestyle feature magazine, whose name will be disclosed. Stay tuned.
Ann Rea's Work and Pleasure
[caption id="attachment_751" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="San Francisco based Artist & CEO"]San Francisco based Artist & CEO[/caption] I work really hard.  I’ve taken on a very challenging business.  Art doesn’t sell itself. At times the pressures of being a solopreneur can weigh heavily.  It’s all on me. I am the factory, sales and marketing, head of finance, and the maintenance department, etc of Ann Rea, Inc. You get the picture. Fortunately the work itself provides a stress relief valve. It is sort of a common perception that artists struggle with their creative selves.  I don’t. There’s no suffering or angst in what I do. I’m basically getting paid very well to color.  This is freeing, relaxing, and when I’m doing it right, it’s actually pretty darn easy. This is a far cry from buckling myself into my Honda and sitting in San Francisco Bay Area traffic for hours only to arrive at an office I couldn’t wait to leave.  I remember getting so anxious and then depressed each Sunday night just dreading the start of the workweek yet again. Today I look forward to work each day and I’m reminded of this quote. "Success is waking up in the morning and bounding out of bed because there's something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you're good at - something that's bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again." -- Whit Hobbs When I travel for business I’m off to Napa Valley or to places like the Montage Resort in Deer Valley to commune with nature and relax.  It’s a great gig. My job is actually to relax and paint, to savor the colors of the moment.  Yes.  That’s my tag line. So when I feel the pressures of business bearing down on me I remind myself that I'm learning and that this part is getting easier. And I have created an extraordinary privilege. I don’t have to completely divide my time between work and pleasure.  My work is my pleasure.  And I have the privilege of creating pleasure for others.  For this I am very grateful.
Montage Deer Valley Painting Studies are Stacking Up
studies The Montage Deer Valley series of painting studies are stacking up in my Pacific Beach studio.  Frankly, it’s kind of a mess in here and I have a studio visit scheduled today.  But I don’t have time to tidy up so they'll just have to see the studio in all of its disheveled glory. The mess, the bad studies, the abandoned canvases, its all part of the creative process.  This is the part the patron doesn’t see.  It’s like a messy kitchen. Although I have to say, I was amazed by Thomas Keller’s kitchens at The French Laundry and Bouchan in Beverly Hills. At the end of the night, you could lick the floor and none of the chefs had a single spot on their white smocks. I actually looked for spots. Not me.  I’m smeared with paint. That’s why I wear a full-length disposable paint suit and vinyl gloves from Home Depot.  But paint will often appear on my face or land on a spot behind my ear. The point of creating these studies, twenty to thirty, is to arrive at just a few images that I’m compelled to explore further.  Studies that I’m excited to reinterpret on a larger scale custom canvas for one of the Montage Deer Valley Residences models. Many of my Deer Valley painting studies will be scrapped, like a reporter’s rough drafts.  The remaining gems will be offered to art collectors in the originals section of This time of creative chaos is a time when I’m feeling unsure.  What will this final large-scale painting look like?  I have no idea.  There is no straight path to follow. I just have to be open to this mystery and trust that I will arrive at the answer. The creative solution comes from following a path of intuition, feeling, and relaxed confidence.  If I tense up, the painting tenses up.  If I glide through and just let the mistakes stack up, the answer emerges.
We Know Art when we Feel It
photo-193 From my sunny San Francisco Pacific beach studio I’m revisiting the snowy mountains surrounding Montage Deer Valley. I’m excited about a new painting technique that I’m experimenting with where I first establish the values before I develop the color. Representational paintings are illusions of reality.   Illusions that are created by employing  a number of different basic elements. These visual elements are considered in about this order:
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Scale
  • Value
  • Direction
  • Color
So in this study above, if I’m in the groove, I’m not thinking “trees” or “distant mountains”,  I’m thinking shape and value. I’m defining this image by studying its most basic elements.  What is the darkest dark?  What is the lightest light? If I pay attention to this intuitive recipe, and I feel it, rather than think it, and the painting works.  If I get distracted, it's over. Feeling it is key.  Why?  Feeling, not thinking, is what the artist, and therefore  the viewer, responds to. Even if we can’t put to our feelings into words, it’s feeling that makes us become enthralled with a painting, playing a song, or turning the pages of the novel. Of course we all feel and respond differently. So art is in the eye of the beholder and the subject of tremendous debate.  If you feel it, do you need another’s opinion to tell you so? Art’s purpose is not simply to represent images, stories, or ideas.  Art is meant to make us feel, which of course can lead to thinking. However subtle or indescribable the feeling may be, we all know art when we feel it.
Snow Angels
SnowAngels Rich, an award winning documentary film maker for National Geographic, completed some final silent footage while I painted a stand of aspens against a clear blue sky. As he captured the shots he needed I explained that pink was one of the colors under the blue sky.  It’s not just blue, that would be flat.  And the sky is not flat. The sky was a big part of my focus while I was in Deer Valley. At over 8000 feet altitude the sky takes up a considerable proportion of the landscape.  I found myself glancing upward constantly, hoping that the sky would remain clear.  I was wishing for sun to shape color and cast long defining shadows.  When my wish wasn’t granted a welcoming staff provided me with my own private studio inside an unfinished residence. I’m so excited to get back to my Pacific Beach San Francisco studio to further develop my studies of and around Montage Deer Valley.  The snow, clouds, color palette, and perspective all grant me an exciting creative challenge. A perfect way to part ways was a final snow shoeing trek above Montage with my guide Shannon.  I soaked in as much of the visual field as I could, taking one last gulp of the majestic Deer Valley landscape. As we were snow shoeing it occurred to me again that I hadn't been in the snow for many years.  This was such a treat.  I remembered as a kid celebrating the first clean white snows with snow angels.  I was determined that I could not leave Deer Valley without making a snow angel. Thankfully Shannon agreed to join me.
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