Savvy Painter is a weekly podcast for artists who mean business.
Antrese Wood talks to experts in the field about the business of art and how it gets created. Want to know how leaders in the fine art world of plein-air and landscape painting got their start? What habits do top artists have in common? Every week, we talk about representational painting, abstract art, alla prima painting, art competitions, art materials, watercolor, oil painting, how to get into an art gallery, how to succeed with your art business and so much more!
From Sketching Handbags to Creating Reclaimed Earth Colors and More: An Interview with Artist, John Sabraw
Have you ever felt like you just don’t “fit in” at non-artist gatherings? What do you do with that feeling? Do you shrink back and retreat to the safety of your peers and insulate? Or do you press into the discomfort and forge your path? Everyone’s story is going to be different and that’s the beauty of our corner of society, we embrace the mosaic of diversity - but what would it look like if we were to integrate our creative outlook with other areas?
That’s where my guest and talented artist, John Sabraw comes in! Hailing from Lakenheath, England, John is an activist and environmentalist - his paintings, drawings, and collaborative installations are produced in an eco-conscious manner, and he continually works toward a fully sustainable practice. In our conversation, John opens up about his time working with Kerry James Marshall and how he got involved with Gamblin and producing their reclaimed earth colors. Trust me, you’ll find John’s perspective refreshing and engaging - I know I did!
Throwing it all away You know those days where you feel like tossing everything in your studio in the garbage? Imagine doing that and then getting an invitation to Washington DC to meet members of Congress because your art was selected as the winner of a competition. Sounds crazy, right? It actually happened to John Sabraw!
As he struggled in high school and tried to decipher the way he wanted his life to go, John reached a breaking point where he just had to walk away. He took all his artwork that he had completed in his high school art class and tossed it in the dumpster and then took off for a week. When he returned, what he saw changed the course of his career - his teacher had entered him into a contest and he had won! John’s journey wasn’t all smooth sailing from there - he faced setbacks and challenges but this initial success helped see the talent he had honed.
Speaking your truth How does your truth, your authenticity show up in your artwork? Do you try to embrace it or do you try to go in a different direction? As the United States was gearing up for the Iraq war in 2003, John felt like he needed to speak out and share his conviction that war was not the answer with his art. The result was a fierce backlash that made John rethink his approach and if he wanted to make a stand that would continue to incur this type of reaction from people. John didn’t back down, he just decided to change his approach - this launched him on the path to his work with sustainability and activism.
Exploring sustainability Imagine visiting a community ravished by the scourge of industrial waste and environmental destruction and finding in that mess and contamination a way to create sustainable paint colors. No, this isn’t a pipe dream, this actually happed with John’s efforts to collaborate with scientists on many projects. One of his current collaborations involves creating paint and paintings from iron oxide extracted in the process of remediating polluted streams. I hope you are as inspired by John’s story as I have been - make sure to check out images of John’s artwork located at the end of this post!
Outline of This Episode [2:50] I introduce my guest, John Sabraw. [4:00] How did John get started as an artist? [18:30] John describes his artwork. [25:00] Speaking authentically and truthfully. [27:30] Exploring sustainability. [33:00] How artists can help with creative problem-solving. [45:00] Why we need more artists who speak up and break out of their silos. [52:00] You don’t have to be an expert to contribute to the conversation. [55:00] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode Savvy Painter Anti-Racist Episode Jacob Lawrence Kerry James Marshall Resources Mentioned on this episode www.johnsabraw.com TED talk: www.ted.com/talks/john_sabraw_how_i_make_p
Thinking Big: From Idea to Action
How do you feel about the big idea you’ve been keeping on the back burner? Does the thought of executing your big idea fill you with excitement, dread, or somewhere in-between? Those big creative ideas that bubble up deserve their time to shine - so what are you waiting for?
Let’s face it, most of us shy away from pulling the trigger on a big idea because we are scared or overwhelmed. What if there was a way to sidestep the obstacles that block you from executing your big idea? You’ve come to the right place! I took the opportunity to get feedback from amazing artists like you who are doing their best to forge ahead with their big ideas. I know that you’ll find helpful insights that will encourage you on your creative journey - don’t miss it!
Don’t let your doubts win There comes a time when everyone will have to come face to face with their internal doubts. Some people face this challenge early on in their creative journey and some face small doubts that creep in and disrupt in a more subtle way. If you really want to succeed and take on the big ambitious ideas that have been waiting to break out - you’ve got to learn how to deal with your doubts. Your doubts may never completely go away, and that’s ok - but they don’t have to control your life!
Turning obstacles into a to-do list In much the same way that you can’t let your doubts control your life, you also can’t let obstacles become an excuse. Too often I’ve seen talented artists get stuck in the quicksand of chores, shortcomings, distractions, and more. You don’t have to surrender to the obstacles that block your path to executing your big idea. What if you listed out the obstacles that stand in your way and turn that list into a do-to list that will empower you on your journey? What do you have to lose? Give the to-list method a shot!
Give yourself permission to change and adapt along the way One of the obvious ways to fuel the fire of creativity and take on big ideas is to give yourself permission to do the risky thing and even succeed. If you’ve been part of the Savvy Painter community for very long, you know that I am passionate about helping artists like you adopt a healthy and growth-focused mindset. Year after year, artists with a ton of potential find themselves throwing in the towel because they can’t bring themselves to adapt and change along the way. As crucial as it is to give yourself permission to succeed, you’ve also got to give yourself room to go in a new direction.
Outline of This Episode [0:50] My introduction to this episode. [4:00] How listening to your doubts can throw a wrench in your plans. [7:00] Thinking of obstacles as a to-do list. [14:30] Are you ok with getting uncomfortable? [17:30] So what if you don’t knock it out of the park? [21:00] Have a plan but be ready to change along the way. [24:30] Why constraints can be helpful. [29:30] Are you really committed to your big idea? Give yourself permission to go for it! Resources Mentioned on this episode Ryan Holliday John Seed Bo Bartlett Seth Godin Connect With Antrese On Facebook On Pinterest On Instagram On Twitter
Cityscapes and Shifting Perspectives: An Interview with Artist, Mike East
When it comes to your time at the canvas, do you paint from observation or with reference photos and other tools? Have you had the opportunity to experiment with the size and scale of your paintings? I know that artists like you will be thrilled to hear from the brilliant and talented artist, Mike East.
Mike is a representational painter who lives in Flordia with his wife and two children. Over the course of our conversation, Mike and I discussed how the choice of canvas size can impact your painting, how Mike’s thought process shifts when he changes his subject matter, and so much more. I know that artists like you will learn a lot from Mike’s seasoned perspective - make sure to check out the images of Mike’s artwork located at the end of this post!
Cityscapes and finding the right perspective Think of your favorite work of art that you’ve produced in the last year- what is it that stands out in your mind? Do you love how the colors turned out? Are you over the moon about the lighting and textures you were able to convey? Mike East spent over ten years working almost exclusively on cityscapes as he plodded and navigated his early career. Through all the challenges over the years, Mike points out that getting the right perspective with his cityscape projects really helped him grow as an artist. In fact, stepping out of that area of success and comfort proved to be challenging and rewarding in the next phase he now finds himself in.
Making a mindset shift Let’s face it, most people abhor change - they construct their whole lives around avoiding discomfort and change - many artists aren’t any different. If you have any intention of growing as an artist, you need to make your peace with “Change.” Don’t look at change as the enemy, look at it as an opportunity to explore and expand your skillset. After years of working on cityscapes, Mike East was ready for a change and that journey began with preparing his mindset for a significant shift.
The challenge and freedom of “Going big” I love talking to my fellow artists when it comes to the subject of scale - from huge murals to small paintings - it’s a joy to see artists light up over the parameters they’ve set for themselves. When it comes to the parameters of your canvas, do you find it liberating or constricting? Does going small or going large fill you with a sense of freedom or dread? Imagine what it would look like to push past those feelings to explore new possibilities. When I talked to Mike East about the scale and scope of his paintings - I really got the sense that Mike relishes the freedom that large-scale paintings give him. What can you learn from Mike’s story? Make sure to check out the link to mike’s website and his Instagram account located in the resources section.
Outline of This Episode [2:30] I introduce my guest, Mike East. [6:00] Mike talks about how he got started as an artist. [7:30] What really lights Mike up. [11:00] Why Mike loves working on a large scale. [17:30] Investigating complexity. [24:00] Mike talks about his time in college. [36:00] Giving yourself permission to work outside of the box. [42:30] Mike opens up about his time visiting Europe. [45:30] How COVID has impacted Mike’s work life. [50:30] The challenge of working from life when it comes to cityscapes. [54:00] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode Lennart Anderson Eve Mansdorf Lucian Freud Resources Mentioned on this episode Website: www.mikeast.com Instagram: www.instagram.com/mikeeast1 Connect With Antrese On Facebook On Pinterest On Instagram On Twitter
Empowering Young Artists: An Interview with Artist, Jerarde Gutierrez
Who was it that inspired and empowered you as you began your journey as an artist? Did you have a family member who nurtured and encouraged your creative aspirations? Maybe it was a peer or a mentor from afar - almost everyone has that special person or group of people who spurred them on as an artist.
While our world continues to grow more interconnected with the help of the internet, it’s important to remember the critical role of in-person and local art communities and expressions. My guest is someone who benefited from and gives back to local youth initiatives to empower young people on their creative journeys.
Jerarde Gutierrez is an artist and Arts Program Coordinator as well as a Co-Program Manager of the ACOE IL Dept. Management of program centers around coordination of Integrated Arts Learning spaces at the REACH Ashland Youth Center, a project of Alameda County. Jerarde describes his work as “Rooted in representational painting.” Lately, he has been gravitating towards painting En Plein Air as it allows for fluid brushstrokes, contrasting textures, and interplay of representational and abstraction to capture the essence of a place.
An early push in the creative direction Looking back on his start as an artist, Jerarde is quick to point out how much of an impact his mother had on his development. As a crafty and creative person herself, Jerarde’s mother filled him with the confidence and boldness he would need as he entered the art world. After his mother laid a solid foundation, Jerarde was able to work closely with the renowned West Coast muralist, John Wehrle. While Jerarde felt like an annoying mosquito buzzing around and annoying people with his questions, the truth is - their kindness and embrace helped Jerarde grow as an artist by leaps and bounds.
Giving back After receiving so much generosity in his early years from his mother, John Wehrle, and many others - Jerarde jumped at the chance to give back and help others on their journey. These days, Jerarde spends a portion of his time as an Arts Program Coordinator. What Jerarde loves about his work with young people is seeing their potential and then watching that spark fan into a flame of passion and dedication. Can you relate to Jerarde’s story? What do you do to honor those who came before you and paved the way - I want to hear from you!
Taking the job seriously Let’s face it, mastering a technique, or getting a process just right is stressful! Too often, many artists let the overwhelm, self-doubt, fear, and so many other obstacles get in the way of their creative process in the studio. Don’t let these limiting factors rob you of the joy you deserve creating the art you love! Jerarde encourages his students and peers to look at their work as an artist like they would a typical job - put in the time and effort even when you don’t feel like it! You really get the sense that Jerearde practices what he preaches - his artwork is focused and inspiring. Make sure to check out images of Jerarde’s artwork located at the end of this post!
Outline of This Episode [4:00] I introduce my guest, Jerarde Gutierrez. [6:00] How Jerade’s mom and his comic artwork got him into the Richmond Art Center. [12:00] Jerarde talks about mentorship fatigue. [14:00] The impact that Jerade’s mother has had on him. [20:00] Taking the job seriously. [22:15] Giving back and helping others. [24:14] Why it’s crucial to learn about the arts. [33:00] Jerarde talks about how he engages with his students. [38:00] What does “Deliberate practice” mean? [43:00] Jerarde opens up about his current obsession. [50:00] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode John O. Wehrle Jasper Johns Resources Mentioned on this episode www.artofjerardefgutierrez.com Instagram 1: @Jerarde (personal artwork and murals) Instagram
Office Hours with Antrese: Understanding our Fear of Failure
What comes to mind when you think of the word, failure? Do you start internalizing the word? Do you hear that inner voice roaring the negative talk that sends you spinning? Or have you found a way forward to understand and overcome the fear of failure that plagues so many artists?
By no means will I say that I’ve discovered all the answers or everything you need to know when it comes to recognizing your fear of failure and moving past it. I have learned from first-hand experience what works and what doesn’t and I’ve heard from my peers like you! This episode is another offering of my Office Hours sessions that give you a peek into the helpful community I’ve built with the Savvy Painter. Make sure to chime in - I can’t wait to hear how this one lands with you!
Set yourself up for success Time and time again, the two common issues I hear about from my Growth Studio participants is the challenge to get started and the challenge to finish a work of art. Do you ever struggle with these challenges? What about failing to eliminate distractions? There are so many factors both big and small that can impact your focus and productivity in the studio. If you struggle with these challenges and distractions, you aren’t alone! I encourage you to connect with peers either digitally or in-person (where possible with COVID) there are so many ways we can help each other.
Don’t make it personal! Look, I get it - beating up on yourself can become so commonplace that you get lulled into thinking it’s normal - it doesn’t have to be! Sure, self-critique can be helpful and you do want to nurture that aspect of your growth but not negative talk. How do you spot the difference between being critical and talking negatively about yourself? Write it out! If you find yourself in a particularly critical mode, write out the critiques in your head on paper - then you can see in black and white if they are negative and personal attacks or fair critiques.
The key to becoming a confident painter The key to success and confidence as an artist is to avoid failure at all costs! NO - that’s not true at all. If you were to look at the way our society shapes us - you’ll see that it does train us to avoid discomfort and pain. If you can re-train yourself to think of failure not as an ultimate letdown but as a stepping stone to success, you’ll see your confidence skyrocket. Expect failure, anticipate it, and let it be part of your story - let failure fuel your growth - you are worth the extra effort!
Outline of This Episode [2:30] How many artists experience failure. [5:30] Common negative thoughts we often have. [10:15] Distancing failure from your self-worth. [16:00] A visualization exercise you can try. [18:00] The key to becoming a confident painter. [21:00] Why it’s OK to make mistakes. [25:00] Closing thoughts. Resources Mentioned on this episode https://drphm.co/savvy Connect With Antrese On Facebook On Pinterest On Instagram On Twitter
Solving Puzzles, Slowing Down, and Listening to Your Instincts: An Interview with Artist Sarah Intemann
How did you get to where you are right now in your career? Can you remember and identify clear moments that brought you to where you are today? How have you evolved over the years? It’s funny how often we become unaware of the passage of time - you think you’ll be stuck in a phase FOREVER and blink - 10 years go by just like that!
I’m learning to slow down and really appreciate the time I’m in, yes even with COVID and I hope that my conversation with Sarah Intemann encourages you to do the same.
Sarah is an abstract artist who lives in New York City. Graduating college with a Fine Art degree, she moved to NYC and has been exhibiting and painting ever since. It is on the New York subways that she constantly sketched and developed a line-focused abstract language that she uses today in her work.
I can’t wait for you to hear Sarah’s fascinating perspective and yes, her total nerdiness when it comes to her medium. Make sure to catch images of Sarah’s artwork located at the end of this post!
Slowing down When you are young, the last thing you want to do is to slow down. Kids love to run around the yard, speed down steep hills on bikes, and a ton of other crazy imaginations that give their parents a heart attack. While there are plenty of people who have grey in their hair that still enjoy life on the edge, most learn to enjoy the quiet and slower pace of life.
In NYC of all places, you can imagine that the idea of “Slowing down” isn’t a popular one - something is happening all the time, the city never sleeps. Somehow, in the middle of that busy and bustling city, Sarah learned to do the impossible, slow down. When you learn to slow down, you start to notice things you’ve never noticed before - you discover little details that can become whole worlds unto themselves. I loved hearing how Sarah took the time to get into the practice of slowing down intentionally and how much it helped her professionally.
Once Sarah was able to slow down, she started to really listen to what she wanted to do. Have you ever found it difficult to find your voice or to tune out all the noise in your life? According to Sarah, slowing down gave her the capacity to listen to her internal creative voice.
What will you take away from Sarah’s powerful example of creativity, patience, and hard work? It was great to get to include one of my favorite questions in my conversation with Sarah, I asked her what she would do if she had all the resources at her disposal for any project. Never the one to play it safe, Sarah swang for the fences - she said that she’d like to go BIG and use a whole room to create a project! Don’t you find yourself rooting for her? I know that I do!
Outline of This Episode [3:20] I welcome my guest, Sarah Intemann. [7:40] Sarah talks about her creative process. [18:20] What keeps Sarah coming back to abstract artwork? [22:40] How Sarah names her paintings. [27:30] What aspect of painting has been the most challenging for Sarah? [34:00] Artists that have inspired Sarah over the years. [41:00] With unlimited resources, what project would Sarah work on? [43:00] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode Jackson Pollock Lucian Freud Mitchell Johnson Cy Twombly Giorgio Morandi Anselm Kiefer Resources Mentioned on this episode www.sarahintemann.com www.instagram.com/sarah_intemann_art/ www.facebook.com/intemannstudios