Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The artist’s life

Guess what? Today we have a real-life, honest-to-goodness, paint-and-brushes artist as a guest!

A while back, a gorgeous painting of red shoes by Cheri Wollenberg was featured on the blog (read the post here). Now let’s hear what has to say about art, inspiration and the ever-present money matters...

Cheri, you've been a painter for 25 years. I'm sure everyone asks you this, but how did you get to where you are now? Where did you study and how have you kept your art going?

I was a young mother when I became interested in painting. I soon found out that mothering was a full-time job. I also found out that just as oil and water do not mix, children and painting equipment, art supplies and the painting process don’t either!  When my children were old enough to go to school I took some painting classes. The teacher soon became my mentor and she suggested that I go back to college and work on an art degree. I finished my BA and MA in Art Education. During this journey I painted a lot, but now I am finally at a place in my life that I can devote many hours to something I am passionate about.  I paint almost every day.

Do you believe professional artists can still make a living? How do you do it?

I do think that artists can! An artist has to have up-to-date marketing skills, a willingness to sacrifice many things including personal relationships, and work, work, work! In most cases, artists have to work another job to support the love of their craft. They must sacrifice personal and family time to produce. My profession does not make a living for me, but I enjoy the process so much that “I would probably go without shoes so that I can paint shoes” (laugh!).

What does your average day look like?

My day always begins with a cup of coffee, sending my sweet husband off to his day, and then I begin. I always check my Etsy shop before I start my work. Two days a week I teach painting classes in the morning until noon and I teach one night class. As soon as my students leave class I go straight to my studio and begin to paint. On two days of the week (sometimes three), I paint full-time. I look forward to those days without interruption because that is usually when I am most productive; however, I enjoy my students and I love seeing them accomplish their painting goals.

What inspires you?
As a person I am inspired spiritually by God. I am in awe of His love for mankind. As an artist I am inspired by everything He has provided on this earth. I love color, value, line, contrast, movement… all the elements and principles of design charge me with a desire to paint different subject matter. My problem is time – I cannot catch up. Always in art schools students are asked what they want to do in their art. Many will want to make statements about life, many will want to do art for art’s sake, but I believe many like myself want to create because of the challenge of recreating something that has already been created. Beauty, whether it is perceived as divine, human, natural or physical, or something ugly … still turns us all on!

On Etsy, you sell original oil paintings as well as Giclée reproductions of them. What is the difference? And where does archival paper come in?

Giclée is a French term that means “to spray” or “to squirt”. Many assume that because common inkjet printers in our home work this way that they produce “art” Giclées. This is incorrect. Art Giclées are produced and printed on very large printing machines and usually by a professional. My Giclée prints are done by a professional printer and the ink itself is archival. The papers he uses are archival and of the highest quality for prints. The Giclées that I offer in my Etsy store are printed on cotton canvas, stretched around stretcher bars (like my original oil paintings), and coated with a special UV-protective coating that seals the canvas and helps protect it from scratches. It also does not have to be matted or placed behind glass.

What advice would you give to first-time art buyers?

People buying art for the first time should always try to be educated about the materials and media used in their proposed purchase. Is it durable, does it need matting in addition to framing, is it the right size? What is the purpose of it? If they want fine art they must look deeper than what goes with their décor, or what is trendy at the moment. Who is the artist? What kind of record (feedback) does the artist have? What does it say to them? Is this work mass-produced or is it original? Is it affordable?

How can we contact you or buy your work?

I have an Etsy shop and a blog, or you can e-mail me. 

I have to tell you guys, I LOVE that rabbit. I have a thing for rabbits – they’re just so unbelievably adorable, and their fur is so soft, and they don’t make a noise! (No offense, parakeet lovers.) Hats off to Cheri for depicting that fluffiness so beautifully. I can’t paint to save my life, so all the more reason for me to admire professional artists. Don’t you agree?

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