Savvy Painter is a bi-weekly podcast for artists who mean business.
Antrese Wood talks to expert painters 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?
Savvy Painter digs deep into the struggles and successes of contemporary painters. Artists spend enormous amounts of time alone in their studios. It's easy for them to believe their challenges are unique when in fact they are not. Fortunately, others have been there before, and by sharing our stories with other artists we all win.
The collective intelligence of the artist community is infinitely greater than the individual. Here's how you can tap into it.
The Ebb and Flow of Creativity: An Interview with Artist Gabe Brown
Where are you on your creative journey? Do you have the right pieces in place yet or are you still trying to figure things out? If you feel like this last year or so has taken you through the wringer, you are not alone! Many of us are just now starting to get our bearings back after a year of isolation and adjustment. Here to help us navigate through the ebb and flow of creativity and the wild journey we find ourselves on is my guest and the talented artist, Gabe Brown.
Gabe was raised in New York City. She received her BFA degree from The Cooper Union and was awarded a Full Fellowship to attend the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She went on to receive her MFA in Painting from the University of California, Davis. Her work is included in both public and private collections. She is an Adjunct Professor in Painting and Drawing at Fordham University and SUNY New Paltz where she has received three Merit Awards for Professional Achievement. Gabe lives and works in the Hudson Valley.
I can’t wait for you to get to know Gabe’s fascinating perspective - also make sure to check out images of Gabe’s artwork located at the end of this post.
Perseverance through uncertainty Let’s face it, the last year with COVID has been challenging to say the least. While some of us have been able to leverage this time as an opportunity to try something new, there are those who have been stuck either creatively, emotionally, or otherwise. Part of understanding and adapting to your own unique ebb and flow of creativity is giving yourself space and understanding.
If you had a friend who was having a hard time with the isolation and abrupt change that COVID has wrought, how would you treat them? Most people would be kind and empathetic - why wouldn’t you give yourself that same treatment? I found Gabe’s experience of persevering through the uncertainty of COVID inspiring but I found her compassion for those who are struggling - even more so. Remember, we are all in this together - I’ve got your back and I’m trusting that you’ve got mine!
Absorbing and applying Everyone's a little different and we need to find our own method and pattern for our creativity. Gabe was kind enough to open up about her own season of absorbing and applying. For Gabe, absorbing is a time of observation - reading, taking walks, going to museums or galleries, Googling different artists. Then comes the moment of application - some way those observations start to make their way through to the surface of the creative process. Her end goal is to take all the information that she just absorbed and then somehow apply it to her studio practice to help perfect her craft.
What are you waiting for? Seriously? I know that the fear of failure can be intense - trust me, I’ve been there. But honestly, what do you have to lose? Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from exploring the possibilities that are right in front of you. I know that the journey is not an easy one, Gabe knows that too but what we want you to know is that it is worth it. I hope you found Gabe’s story an inspiring and encouraging one. If you want even more community and encouragement, I’d love for you to go deeper with the Savvy Painter community. Check out all the great ways to jump in - you won’t regret it!
Outline of This Episode [1:15] How Gabe got started as an artist. [6:30] The ebb and flow of creativity. [9:30] Gabe talks about her work and what she has been up to over the last year. [16:00] Are you afraid of success? [19:45] Absorbing and applying. [28:00] Intimate compression. [36:40] How do you know when it is finished? [47:00] Artists that Gabe would love to own art from. [51:15] Why Gabe likes to work on the floor. [54:00] Tips for new artists. [57:30] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode Darren Waterston
Lessons from Listening: An Interview with Artist Julia Cameron
When was the last time you really stopped and paid attention to your surroundings? As an artist, I have spent years training my eyes to pay attention to shapes, colors, and so many other aspects of the visual arts that listening to my surroundings was never a top priority. What can we learn from our surroundings when we deliberately slow down and begin to really pay attention?
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with hundreds of artists from all walks of life. It has been a huge honor to explore their stories, hear their unique perspectives, and bring them to my fellow artists like you! While I think I played it cool in this interview, I have to admit that was totally starstruck when I got to speak with none other than Julia Cameron.
Hailed by the New York Times as "The Queen of Change," Julia is credited with starting a movement in 1992 that has brought creativity into the mainstream conversation— in the arts, in business, and in everyday life. She is the best-selling author of more than forty books, fiction, and nonfiction; a poet, songwriter, filmmaker, and playwright. Commonly referred to as "The Godmother" or "High Priestess" of creativity, her tools are based in practice, not theory, and she considers herself "the floor sample of her own toolkit."
I hope you get as much joy, inspiration, and encouragement from Julia’s profound insights and wisdom as much as I did!
Learning to listen Are you ready to listen? Really listen to the world around you? You might be thinking that there is not much around you that is worth listening to - but you’ll never really know until you take the plunge! Julia Cameron is such a huge advocate for quieting the inner voice and tuning into the world all around that she wrote a book about it!
In her book, “The Listening Path,” Julia takes readers on a transformational journey to deeper, more profound listening and creativity. In Julia’s experience, as we learn to listen, our attention is heightened and we gain healing, insight, and clarity. At the heart of the practice, Julia says that listening creates connections and ignites a creativity that will resonate through every aspect of our lives.
If you are ready to find a deeper connection to the world around you and unlock the creativity within you, then try spending some time with the practices and rhythms that Julia teaches about. I’ve been incorporating several lessons from her works over the years and I can not recommend her insights and wisdom enough - I know that dedicated artists like you will get a lot out of what Julia has to offer.
Embracing playfulness You can’t get very far in a conversation with Julia Cameron without hearing about her passion for playfulness. Yes, that’s right, Julia is passionate about playfulness. If you've been around the Savvy Painter community for very long, you know that I am a huge fan of encouraging artists to get in touch with their inner child and unlock that long-hidden impulse to play when it comes to their art. I thought I was serious about playfulness but Julia has me beat. What are you waiting for? The right moment? The perfect plan? Julia encourages you and me to stop overthinking it and just embrace our playfulness. Do something fun today!
Outline of This Episode [4:00] I introduce my guest, Julia Cameron. [6:00] Julia opens up about her experience writing her latest book. [10:00] Cultivating a practice of listening. [13:00] Listening to yourself. [19:30] How to deal with the inner critic. [26:00] What to do next. [30:00] Working from the heart. [37:00] Just try it. [41:00] Doing the work itself is the work. [45:00] Julia talks about her love for film. [48:00] Embracing playfulness. [50:00] Closing thoughts. Resources Mentioned on this episode Julia Cameron Live The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativi
Evolving In the Spirit of Exploration and Spontaneity: An Interview with Artist Katherine Bourdon
If you were to sum up your creative career in a phrase or theme, what would it be? Has your style evolved over the years in little ways or in large shifts? If you are one of those artists that like to experiment and likes to play around and maybe feels like you are bouncing around a bit and dipping your paintbrush into many different genres of art, this is an episode for you!
I am thrilled to introduce you to my talented guest, Katherine Bourdon. Katherine describes her work as “Constantly evolving in the spirit of exploration and spontaneity.” As an artist and a musician, Katherine thinks subconsciously in terms of sound quality with each painting. The visual and auditory senses are intertwined into a single experience as she perceives the sound as color and form, and vise versa.
Join me for this conversation as Katherine opens up about how she got started as an artist, the challenges she has faced in her career, the habits that have helped her succeed, what it’s like as an artist with Synesthesia, and so much more!
All over the place If someone were to describe your artwork or your style as “All over the place.” Would you take that as a compliment or something different? How would you respond in the moment? When she heard someone describe her artwork as “All over the place,” Katherine didn’t miss a beat - was quick to explain that her biggest passion is, “Finding rhythm, pattern, and color in whatever the subject is.” Don’t be afraid to stand boldly in your vision of your artwork! It was so refreshing to hear Katherine confidently state exactly what she is trying to accomplish with her art as she invites her fellow artists to do the same.
Music and visual art explored through Synesthesia If you’ve been around the Savvy Painter community for very long, you’ve heard me mention my fascination with artists and individuals who experience Synesthesia. Katherine Bourdon was kind enough to open up about her journey as an artist who embraces Synesthesia in her artwork.
Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision). Simply put, when one sense is activated, another unrelated sense is activated at the same time.
I was curious to find out about the connection between music and visual art that Katherine experiences - she says that she noticed it very early on when her mother would play music at the piano. Katherine would eventually come to describe her ability as “Hearing colors,” as she started to notice the difference between individual composers like Bach and Beethoven. What can you learn from Katherine’s journey? Make sure to check out the images of her artwork located at the end of this post!
Outline of This Episode [0:05] I introduce my guest, Katherine Bourdon. [6:00] How Katherine got started as an artist. [8:30] Early family influences. [11:00] The connection between music and visual art explored through Synesthesia. [20:00] Searching for style and incorporating exploration in painting. [27:30] How Katherine learned to paint and the impact that art history had on her. [29:30] Getting back into the studio after some time away. [33:30] Healthy habits that work for Katherine. [39:00] Challenging moments from Katherine’s career. [41:00] Katherine talks about her dream project. [44:00] Tips for emerging artists. [47:30] The future of art and art sales. Other artists mentioned on this episode Johann Sebastian Bach Ludwig van Beethoven Henri Matisse Mark Bradford Resources Mentioned on this episode katherinebourdon.com Kate Bourdon (@katebourdon) • Instagram Connect With Antrese On Facebook On Pinterest On Instagram On Twitter
How Meditation Can Fuel Creativity: An Interview with Artist Michael Ryan
What helps you bring your full and authentic self to your time in your studio? Are there certain activities or habits that help you get in the right mindset to start your day and get those creative juices flowing? If you’ve been around the Savvy Painter community for very long, you know that I am a huge fan of meditation and mindfulness. I have seen the direct correlation between self-exploration and creative expression. Here to help us explore the connection between creativity and our inner life is the artist, Michael Ryan.
Michael Ryan is an artist based in the Netherlands whose paintings have been exhibited nationally, as well as in the United States, Russia, and France. His artistic expression is influenced by being in the moment, and the act of paying attention. Ryan is especially inspired by what he observes around him. Primarily working with oils, pastels, and watercolors, he is fascinated by light, color, and the relationship formed between colors. His bold pieces are painted on metal or linen.
I can’t wait for you to get to know Michael, I know you will get a lot of valuable insight from his perspective - make sure to check out images of his artwork located at the end of this post.
In sudden demand Can you imagine going from just making it as an artist and a waiter one week to find yourself in another country with suddenly 50 commissioned portraits lined up? While that scenario sounds made up, it actually happened to my guest, Michael Ryan!
After a chance meeting with a Dutch businessman who offered to bring him to the Netherlands to paint the portraits of his two children, Michael was off to a new country and a totally new direction in his career. While some might find themselves intimidated by the sudden demand and clamoring for their work, Michael took it in stride. Looking back on this time in his career, Michael reflects on how much he really enjoyed capturing someone's essence on the canvas.
Finding your center Over the years it has been an honor to speak with artists who come from all walks of life. It always intrigues me to hear how each one of my guests has managed to find their center. Some might call this their “Why,” or their “Purpose,” or their “Calling.” Some might just refer to finding their true self. For Michael Ryan, his working day begins early with yoga and long walking meditation. By taking this step early in the day, Michael finds his mind and body united, focused, and prepared for creative expression back in the studio. What practices have helped you find your center?
Trust yourself As you navigate the challenges of a career as an artist, Michael and I encourage you to spend that time investing in your inner life. While some might not find as great a benefit as others, the investment is well worth it. What do you have to lose in taking the time to learn about meditation and other practices? You might just find that you learn some helpful insights about yourself along the way. Don’t let others direct your path, trust yourself - you won’t regret it.
Outline of This Episode [0:05] I introduce my guest, Michael Ryan. [2:00] How did Michael end up in Amsterdam? [7:30] 50 portraits in three years? [9:30] Learning the Dutch language. [11:30] Was Michael intimidated by the tsunami of portrait commissions? [15:30] What drew Michael back to New York? [18:30] How did Michael deal with moving with all of his art and supplies? [20:30] What is Micahel currently working on? [24:30] Finding inner quiet before you enter the studio. [38:00] Michael describes his series, “Shimmering Mess” [44:00] How has the pandemic affected Michael’s time in the studio? [48:30] Do you incorporate your emotions and thoughts into your art as they come? [50:20] Trust in yourself. Other artists mentioned on this episode Henri Matisse Wolf Kahn Sean Scully
Exploring the Bush: An Interview with Figurative Landscape Artist Mary Tonkin
What is it that catches your eye when you are determining what to paint? Do you look for color that speaks to you, are you drawn to certain subjects or locations? Growing up in Australia, Mary Tonkin quickly became enamored with, “The bush” - a term mostly used in the English vernacular of Australia and New Zealand where it is largely synonymous with backwoods or hinterland, referring to a natural undeveloped area.
Mary completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1995 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2002 at Monash University, where she has also lectured. Tonkin has held solo exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney since 1999. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, and internationally in New York.
It was my privilege to host Mary for a live session of our interview. It was a joy to have Mary open up about her process, what she sees when she’s out here in the bush, how she juggles life as a working mother, and so much more. I can’t wait for you to get to know Mary’s engaging story!
Brining the bush to life When you speak with Mary, you get a quick impression that she means business when she talks about slowing down and paying attention. For Mary, phrases like stillness, being present, and “taking in” a place, aren't' strangers - they are well-known companions on her journey. While it may be challenging to have a living and constantly changing subject like the Australian bush, Mary says that the experience has been well worth it. What stands out to you when you observe Mary’s artwork? Make sure to catch images of her paintings located at the end of this post.
Learning to adapt Working in the wilderness in many ways can prepare you for challenging situations you face later in life. Learning to prepare for variables that you can’t control is a helpful training ground for parents. Mary was kind enough to open up about her experience as a working mother trying to navigate her time in the wilderness with her responsibilities at home. At the end of the day, it all comes down to quality over quantity for Mary, she is grateful for the time in the bush that she can reserve.
Feeding your curiosity I loved hearing from Mary about her own journey with compartmentalizing her painting life for both the good and bad, I know so many artists just like her! One big takeaway from my conversation with Mary comes down to the value of feeding your curiosity. Some of us love to explore our curiosity over conversations with friends, while others need time in solitude. What works best for you? How do you feed your curiosity and let it fuel your creativity? I want to hear from you!
Outline of This Episode [2:00] I welcome my guest, Mary Tonkin. [3:15] How Mary got started as an artist. [6:15] Mary describes her artwork. [10:45] How does Mary manage the seeming complexity in her paintings? [16:00] Mary opens up about how wildfires and COVID-19 have impacted her work. [18:30] The challenge of conveying color from the wild. [20:30] Using collage to branch out. [23:00] What is it like working in the wild? Do you incorporate changes in the landscape? [27:15] Artists that inspire Mary. [29:30] How Mary gets “Unstuck.” [35:00] Why it’s important to Mary to nurture her curiosity. [39:15] What Mary wants people to experience when they see her artwork. [41:00] Artwork that Mary wishes she owned. [44:30] Why it can be good to embrace your stubbornness. [46:00] Compartmentalizing and focusing on what works. [47:30] Mary answers questions from listeners about her process. [54:00] Closing thoughts. Other artists mentioned on this episode Émile Bernard Henri Matisse Paul Cézanne Vincent Hawkins Resources Mentioned on this episode On Instagram - @mary.tonkin Gallery Website - https://australiangalleries.com.au/artists
No Way Out: A Conversation with Artist Dean Mitchell, Art Patron Kathy Flynn, and Gallery Director Nicole Wolff
When was the last time you encountered a painting that really moved you? What feelings did the painting evoke? Did your initial impression of the painting remain or change the more you pondered it? I love hearing stories from fellow artists who have found themselves entranced by or enamored with the artwork of their peers. On this special episode, I had the opportunity to speak with a returning Savvy Painter guest, Dean Mitchell as well as Art Patron Kathy Flynn, and Gallery Director Nicole Wolff.
Thinking back to my first conversation with Dean for this podcast, it’s quite appropriate that we discussed the transformative power of art. Dean’s painting and the subject of our conversation, “No Way Out” is a great example of that. Dean's painting was recently added to the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Fine Art.
On this episode, you will hear Dean talk about what this painting means to him, and why he created it. Then you will hear from Kathy Flynn - Kathy's father was involved in the civil rights movement in the '60s, she fell in love with art when she traveled with her parents through Europe visiting museums. Kathy first saw "No Way Out" at the Cutter and Cutter Gallery in St. Augustine, Florida two years ago.
She'll tell us why seeing this painting again after the murder of George Floyd moved her so much that she not only bought it but worked with Dean and our third guest, Nicole Wolff (director of Cutter & Cutter Fine Art ) to get it into the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Art.
What inspired “No Way Out” Dean Mitchell sees his painting, “No Way Out” as an evolution of his own life, growing up as a Black kid in poverty in the American South. Looking at Dean's painting, it really draws you in and it feels like it almost wants to tell you something. Many people, Dean says, are often surprised when he tells them that the man in the painting is on the other side of the jail cell, he’s not inside where many people assume he is located.
Dean says that he wanted to create this painting to challenge the perception of the Black male in American society. Too often, people bring their assumed narrative and transpose it onto our artwork - for good and for ill. By drawing people in with his minimalist style, Dean is welcoming discerning viewers to joining a necessary and relevant conversation about race.
This needs to be in a museum Last year’s heartbreaking killing of George Floyd has spurred people with platforms like myself to find a way to shine a light on the stain and legacy of racism in our society. I don’t just want to have the conversation, I want to be part of the solution. In a similar way, my guests Nicole Wolff and Kathy Flynn felt the same way about Dean’s painting. They were so moved and inspired by the message that Dean is sharing and the conversation that his painting has sparked that they knew they needed to get as many people to encounter it as possible. After a lot of hard work, Kathy, Nicole, and Dean were able to get “No Way Out” into the permanent collection of the Columbus Museum of Art.
Outline of This Episode [2:20] I welcome my guests, Kathy Flynn, Nicole Wolff, and Dean Mitchell. [5:00] What inspired Dean’s painting, “No Way Out” [8:30] Kathy talks about her experience seeing Dean’s painting for the first time. [14:30] Nicole talks about how Cutter & Cutter brought Dean into their gallery. [21:00] Kathy shares some of her background. [25:00] How has “No Way Out” impacted Kathy, Nicole, and Dean? [34:20] Dean explains how he feels about his artwork featured in a museum. [40:00] When did Dean paint, “No Way Out?” [42:20] What is the “Black box narrative?” [46:45] How do we broaden the narrative around “Black art?” [54:00] Giving back. [56:30] What it feels like to have your artwork deliver