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.
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
Bringing Art to Life: An Interview with Artist, Nicholas Wilton
Have you struggled with integrating the various aspects of your day to day into a workflow that respects your responsibilities AND your passion for art? How do you avoid burning out and feeling like you’ve wasted too much of your life?
If you’ve ever wondered if there was a way to truly bring your art to all aspects of your life - you’ve come to the right place! Here to help me dive into this critical topic that burdens so many of us is my friend and fellow artist, Nicholas Wilton.
Hailing from San Francisco, California, Nicholas studied art at the College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara and then went on to receive his BFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Wilton’s paintings are seen in yearly gallery exhibitions, International Art Fairs, and are included in numerous private and corporate collections in both the United States and Europe. Nicholas is also the founder of Art2Life, an online platform that strives to build, empower, and inspire the creative community.
I can’t wait for you to get to know my engaging and insightful friend as he helps us explore what it really means to bring our art to life - you don’t want to miss it!
What is ART2LIFE? Thousands of artists listen to and believe this lie every day and they walk away from the passion and energy that set them on their creative path - what is the lie?
You aren’t good enough. You’ll never make it. No one wants to buy your art. Only the supremely talented can make any money off of their art. Do any of these lines sound familiar?
What if there was a way to silence those lies that swirl around and re-train your mindset? With his Art2Life program, Nicholas strives to build, empower, and inspire the creative community. Nicholas wants to flip the script and help us shift our focus away from competition to sharing. His program is all about finding what inspires and brings you joy, and making art that is more and more like yourself.
The process of becoming yourself If you’ve been around the Savvy Painter community for very long, you know that I am passionate about empowering artists like you to fully realize your potential and chase after your dreams. It’s been so encouraging to meet and speak with artists like Nicholas who have dedicated their lives to their craft but to also helping others discover the joy of creative fulfillment. If you find yourself wondering if you’ll ever be able to talk about your art like Nicholas does - STOP! Remember, this isn’t about who you can be most like, it’s about discovering the real YOU. Give yourself patience and space to continue the process of discovery - we are all works in progress!
Pay attention to your energy and mindset While it might sound silly, the truth is, the energy you bring to your studio matters. Maybe for you, it is all about that cup of coffee or maybe it’s about getting in an early morning run - the actions we take before we decide to sit down and create can have a huge impact on our artwork! As you continue to explore this critical topic with Nicholas, I encourage you to begin paying attention to what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it is impacting your creative process - the result might surprise you!
Outline of This Episode [0:25] I introduce my guest, Nicholas Wilton. [4:00] Nicholas talks about the moment when everything came crashing down. [8:00] Setting intentions and turning over a new leaf. [11:00] What is, “ART2LIFE?” [15:00] Why the world needs YOUR art. [20:30] The process of becoming yourself. [28:45] Nicholas opens up about “getting stuck.” [33:30] Pay attention to the energy you want to bring to the studio. [37:00] How you can learn from Nicholas’ innovative approach. [40:30] Closing thoughts. Resources Mentioned on this episode www.nicholaswilton.com www.art2life.com Spark: The Revolutionar
Why you might struggle to create (and what to do about it).
Sometimes we can sabotage our creativity without even realizing it. We think we can buckle down or toughen up to just get it done. But what if there is a better way to inspire your creativity? What if you can create from a place of authentic joy without the drama? That's what we explore in this episode of the Savvy Painter podcast!
Office Hours with Antrese and Elisia Keowin
How do we set goals that allow us to stretch and grow rather than contract? Antrese and Elisia Keown share their insights and give concrete tips to help you think about the year ahead differently!
Customer ReviewsSee All
My Artist community in a Podcast - Love!!!
I’m so thankful I finally started listening to this podcast I subscribed to quite a bit ago. I have been binge-listening through all the amazing content. I live in the country in the small town of Juliette and while I’ve found a couple other artists here and there the community of like minded folks who want to get nerdy about supplies, talk about inspiration and blocks, discuss concepts and big ideas have been missing. These far reaching discussions and multi disciplined and career stage artists have been refreshing and have given me that connection I’ve so needed lately. Thank you to the Savvy painter team and Antrese for pouring your hearts and passion into these episodes!!! Here’s to staying curious all together!
Sick of you glossing over the complexities of inequality
I’ve listened to this podcast for about 4 years now, I don’t think there’s an episode I’ve missed. You had Dean Mitchell, one of my favorite artists you’ve interviewed, on for the 3rd time along with two women. One of them was a dealer/curator who couldn’t stop patting by herself on the back for her role in getting No Way Out into a museum. Fine. I get it’s an industry that’s been hit hard due to Covid and social media. But when she starts talking about how the way to deal with racial and gender discrepancies in museums and the art world is to “focus on excellence / the work” without acknowledging that people who have their basic material and social needs met ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO MAKE MORE AND BETTER WORK ON AVERAGE than people who do not I had to switch it off. Class and disability intersect powerfully with race and gender in our society in a way that also explains these discrepancies and I’m really sick of your unwillingness to acknowledge that EVER in your podcast, including when Dean Mitchell first tried to politely point that out to you in his first appearance. Your response was “I think one of the worst things you can do is take away someone’s hope”, which is another way of saying it’s too uncomfortable to acknowledge the reality of how class divides (which land strongly on race and gender lines) actually effect people’s mental and physical health, their stamina, and their ability to think straight. These things demonstrably impact a person’s ability to have an art career. Hope could be created by talking honestly about these things so we can work to correct them. If the political/economic implications of that are too divisive for you, you’re not ready to have “the conversations” you think you are. Dean Mitchell is extremely talented, met the right people numerous times in his life, is objectively attractive, and didn't develop any serious mental or physical illnesses or long term housing issues as a result of growing up black and poor that impacted his ability to make and market his work. Statistically speaking, he’s very lucky. As a female artist whose had their work in a museum before but has no actual career due to disability exacerbated by a lifetime of poverty and housing insecurity I’m asking you to stop with the simplistic white feminist notions of why we still don’t see more black, female, and queer “excellence” in museums. It’s not because people aren’t talking about it, it’s because people with power and platforms (like you and many of your guests) are willfully ignoring the impact of socioeconomics on health and ability. It’s irresponsible and does more harm than good when trying to “have conversations about equity within the art world” with self-satisfied upper middle class curators. Please do better Antrese.
It’s all good
The variety of guests and topics on the savvy painter is educational and inspirational. Very well done.