Artist Ann Rea
Parting with a Painting
Niel Parting with a painting can be bitter sweet. But if I became too attached to my work it would be a torture. So what I am attached to is my creative process, my artistic evolution.  One painting informs the next. I am actually anxious to place this painting in my patron’s hands.  Mr. Neil has been patiently awaiting the final painting that I created from the series of their stunning Marin landscape overlooking the San Francisco Bay and the distant city. The next step in the Neil's Experience of Art will be to have their painting photographed and then to have a custom frame made that will suit the Neil’s décor. I always offer to help with the framing because I have reliable resources and I know what frame will work best. Generally I recommend very simple gallery frames so that the viewer is not focused on the frame but they are focused on the painting. I’ve seen too many frames distract rather than compliment the art they hold. After all of the investment of time and money, this decision should not be left to chance. And who is in a better decision to make the call about the presentation of the painting than the artist who created the painting? Once the piece is framed it will be unveiled.  Mr. and Mrs. Neil will see the final piece for the first time and we can toast to their new acquisition and to their patronage. Last, but not least, the Neil's will receive a signed coffee table book with their Experience of Art that chronicles the entire creative process of painting their Marin landscape. And this will close the chapter on this series.
Do Over -The Oil Painting Must be Destroyed
fire The contemporary landscape oil painting of Marin, California, that I have spent hours creating must be destroyed.   Sometimes I have to just let go. Yes.  Even after I have labored over a large expensive canvas, used up valuable oil paint, and I've lived with the painting for a while, so that I can gain editorial distance, I just have to surrender it to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. Why?  Because it’s not good enough! People think I’m nuts. They ask me to give them my unsigned throwaways but that’s like asking me to print my bad rough drafts.  It is just not going to happen. How could I do this?  Because it is never lost on me that my patrons of an Experience of Art have made a significant investment, they have an emotional attachment to the oil painting, and they will probably live with it for the rest of their lives. So I need to bring it. I am honor bound to do my best.  It’s better to wait, invest more energy and time, and get it right. The good news is that the bad paintings are a path to the good paintings. Mr. Neil is giving an Experience of Art as a gift to his lovely wife. So I have purchased a brand new 36" x 48" canvas, and more oil paint and supplies.  I finished the charcoal sketch late last night and today I will complete the under painting where I establish the values, light and dark of the composition. What I present to him will be the best I can do and I can never allow it to be too precious. Since I want them to feel it, I have to feel it.  And if I don’t, it just has to go.
Connecting to Creative Mojo
spell Creative collaborations are so very powerful.  They are adding to the Experience of Art that I'm currently creating for Mr. and Mrs. Neil of their contemporary Marin landscape painting. Thankfully I realize that I have some amazing and diverse creative talent in my circle. Todd Hedgpeth, a graphic designer, Leslie Harrington, an art director and book designer, and Dalan McNabola, a filmmaker. Being the ever industrious artist that I am, I decided to put them all to work in various creative collaborations. I first met my graphic designer Todd Hedgpeth at a business networking breakfast. Not only is Todd the principal of his own San Francisco based graphic design firm, TAWD Design, he is an instructor at the San Francisco Art Academy. Todd is as passionate and as particular about design as I am about painting.  I also majored in design so I'm a tough customer but I knew that he was the man for the job of creating my graphic identity. Leslie Harrington is an art director at a publishing house in London.  She is a dear friend and she is a sensitive and insightful book designer. Leslie's years of experience now benefit my patrons of an Experience of Art who get to hold a beautiful hard bound Creative Diary in their hands. And now guests of my Art & Wine Pairings also receive a beautifully appointed wine tasting journal as a lovely lasting memento. Filmmaker Dalan McNabola has edited three films featured at the Sundance Film Festival. Dalan directed, filmed, and edited the short film on an Experience of Art and now we are collaborating on an interactive film on Art & Wine Pairings, so stay tuned. These creative collaborations are so inspiring. I just love connecting with other talents and gaining their viewpoints, experience, and energy.  It makes for some serious creative mojo.
This Artist's Purpose
moon The other night I stood gazing at the full moon over the San Francisco Bay, on top of the Marin, California hills, with Mr. and Mrs. Neil with a beautiful glass of California red in our hands. We toasted to their new art collection. Mr. Neil booked an Experience of Art of their homestead perched on top of the Marin, California hills to as a gift to Mrs. Neil to celebrate their wedding anniversary. What a treat to be part of this kind of celebration.  They are a great couple. Mr. and Mrs. Neil had just acquired four oil painting studies and chosen the one that would serve as the basis for their large-scale custom piece. As we gazed at the moon, I suggested that they could look at the moon in such a way so that they would never look at it the same way.  I could change their view, shift their perception. “Do you see the bunny rabbit on the moon? I said. “It’s sitting in profile, ears at the top, and the paws to the left.” “Yes, I see it!” they delightfully replied. A permanent shift in perspective, a new way of seeing, this is what I ultimately hope to create as an artist. Each oil painting study offers the Neils a new way of experiencing a landscape that they are intimately familiar with. That's the power of art.  Our purpose as artists is the to shift the perception, the feelings, of the viewer, of the listener, the reader. That I can forever, or at least for a moment, shift the perception of the viewer, this is my rewarding purpose as an artist.
The Most Rewarding Part of being an Artist
[caption id="attachment_1610" align="alignnone" width="450" caption=""Home" Ann Rea ©, 16" x 20", oil on canvas, private collection of Kelly and Shirly Neil"]16" x 20", oil on canvas, private collection of Kelly and Shirly Neil[/caption] Today I’m off to present the Neil Homestead collection to Mr. and Mrs. Neil, an Experience of Art to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They live just over the Golden Gate Bridge in the rolling hills of Marin, California, a few miles away from The Presidio. I’m bringing them 15 oil painting studies.  Each painting is precious inventory and it first must be photographed, uploaded to, labeled, registered with the Library of Congress, and carefully packed for the trek over the Golden Gate Bridge. Typically my patrons live in distant cities so they preview the collections of oil painting studies on But the Neils are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. I wanted them to see the works in the context of where they may be living, on the walls of the beautiful custom home that Mr. Neil designed. I know it will also help the Neils decide which oil painting study will best serve as the basis for the large custom interpretation that will be sized to fit perfectly over their stone mantel place. So much of my time is spent alone in my studio so I look forward to the times when I finally get to share my efforts with my patrons and witness their responses.  It’s the best. Unlike a working relationship with an art gallery or representative, I actually get to know my collectors. Making these connections, having personal relationships with my collectors, this is the most rewarding part of being an artist.
Rolling Hills of Marin California
[caption id="attachment_1605" align="alignnone" width="430" caption=""Lush Path" Ann Rea, 16" x 20", oil on canvas"]"Lush Path" Ann Rea, 16" x 20", oil on canvas[/caption] When I create an Experience of Art for patrons at one point in the process they get to preview several oil painting studies that I created in oil, in and of the landscape of their choosing. In this case, it is my patron’s homestead located in the rolling hills of Marin, California. There are several very different beautiful vistas, including many of San Francisco in the distance and the mountains to the West.  There is so much inspiration to choose from. Yesterday I spoke to my patron Kelly who commissioned this an Experience of Art for his lovely wife Shirley to celebrate their seventh year wedding anniversary. I uploaded the studies to for them to preview.  “What do you think?” I always hold my breath a bit waiting for the answer.  Kelly’s reply. “The paintings are awesome!”  I just love it when they love it. Now the next step is for Kelly and Shirley to choose one study to serve as the basis for a large-scale custom sized painting that will hang over their fireplace mantel. With twelve studies to choose from this can be a bit overwhelming, even with my guidance and recommendations. Kelly asked if I could somehow take one element from one painting study, the distant San Francisco skyline, and integrate it into another painting that has a view eclipsing the San Francisco skyline. While I’d love to say yes, the composition of the painting would just not work because the study itself serves as the foundational framework for a larger interpretation. It’s the blueprint. It’s a bit like being at a great new restaurant and you are eager to try everything but you must choose one meal.  Two meals will not mix well on one plate.  So most often patrons will also acquire several of the studies as appetizers. I can appreciate, and I think it's great, that my patron is excited to have several of the elements of his homestead represented but this would be an abstraction and I am actually a representational painter.  That means that I represent reality, not necessarily in a literal or exacting way but in its real vistas in nature inspire my canvases. So it will be very interesting to see which study the Neil’s decide upon and they’ll have first dibs on all of the appetizers.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t
book When I was in art school I felt like a less than capable writer.  I determined that I needed to gain more mastery over my writing skills and I enrolled in a creative writing class for extra credit. But I struggled. Most of that struggle was rooted by my British mother's constant insistence that Americans cannot speak or write correctly. She overlooked that she was actually speaking to an American. My state of mind was further hampered when I confessed my struggle to my writing professor.  Her stinging response, “Ann, you are so smart.  I just don’t understand why you can’t write.”  I thought. “What? Why do you think I'm enrolled in your damn class? Help me woman.  Maybe you can’t teach!”  But I respectfully took the blow and said nothing. Two months ago I sat with a fellow passenger on the plane returning from a press event for the new Montage Residences in Manhattan.  We passed the time by making small talk and thumbing through my first bound edition of an Artist's Diary of Deer Valley, Utah. Later a woman from across the aisle asked if she could see my book.  Of course I offered it to her and she returned it about an hour later with her business card.  She was the Chair of the American Literature department at Claremont Graduate University. She asked if she could interview me for a journal that she has been editing for the past 20 years that profiles individuals' creative processes.  Her response, “I have never met a visual artist so capable of articulating their creative process. And your work is stunning.” Suddenly my injured confidence was fully healed. I had not realized that this inner struggle had not yet completely been resolved. How many years had I let other's remarks choke my confidence? I'll let people tell me I can but I'll never let them tell me I can't.
  • I can continue to grow my artistic enterprise and meet my goals.
  • I can balance my solitary enterprise of painting with social and emotional connection to others.
  • I can create an Experience of Art for my patrons in Marin, CA will be better than the last one.
I can and I will.
My Muse Gets Pushed and Pulled Around
Neil The common romantic perception of my life as an artist is that I must spend about:
  • 80% of my time painting leisurely in a lovely landscape, breathing in the fresh air, sunning myself with a glass of wine in one hand and paint brush in the other hand
  • Then I spend 15% of my time going to parties and receptions where my work is applauded and admired and sold, every time
  • and then I spend the remaining 5% of my time involved in naughty exploits that us artists are oh so famous for
Well... maybe I shouldn’t kill the myth.  It’s so sexy and intriguing. The fact is that I too often experience the push and pull of my creative muse, an internal battle with my own motivation and inspiration. It’s not uncommon for artists to struggle with their own desire to create.  There are so many distractions and higher concerns that tug at one’s attention.  Bills must be paid, leads followed up on for future business, previous projects completed.  Painting can get pushed aside.  Yet it’s at the core of everything I'm about. The buzz killing reality is that I spend about 10% maybe 12% of my time actually painting. The rest of my time and energy is devoted to running a challenging business and devising ways to grow this unusual enterprise. Even though I haven’t performed the bean counting exercise of logging my actual creative time, my sense is that creative time is increasing. That’s the good news; my muse will continue to have more physical and psychic space to do her thing and to complete the series that I’m creating just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin.
Oil Painting Landscape series of Marin, California
Marin2 The number of varying and inspiring landscapes in Northern California was one of the big draws that brought me here over two decades ago from Ohio. This Marin, California landscape series of oil paintings is the beginning of an Experience of Art that Kelly Neil commissioned for his wife Shirlee as her seventh year anniversary gift. Kelly and Shirlee live in a beautiful home that Kelly built atop the rolling hills of Marin with stunning distant views of San Francisco bay. Kelly is an engineer by training and a successful investor. Like me, he’s a transplant, as he grew up in the Midwest. Kelly married in his late forties.  He said that when he met Shirlee he just knew that “it was right.”  His story gives me hope and it makes me mindful of the celebratory meaning behind this gift. Right now I’m sketching a number of different perspectives that surround the Neil’s home. Kelly was anxious to give me information and maps that define his property.  Although I do appreciate his desire to help, art is not born of the facts. I have to feel into each series of paintings.  Just like the words of a song might refer to some of the facts involved in a relationship, that’s not where the music comes from.  The music is born of the musician’s heart felt perspective. This Experience of Art will also be born of my heart-felt perspective, my creative exploration.  I never know what the final large-scale painting will look like. It is this artistic journey that is part of the joy and the inevitable frustration of the creative process. At this point I'm photographing and sketching to start to get a sense of how this place, and how the Neil’s story, make me feel, this feeling will influence the series.  I've just completed the eleventh sketch for the oil painting studies.