Thursday, October 30, 2008

Exhibition XXIV - Art St. Louis

Windswept #1, (c) 2008 Jeane Vogel Photography, Infrared Photograph, 24x30, $400
Juried into Art St. Louis' Exhibition XXIV, Nov. 3-Dec. 30, 2008

Often an inspiring artist comes into my booth and wants advice about how to get started. I'm happy to share any information I've acquired but most of them really don't want to hear it. 

They want shortcuts.

They're aren't any.

There's one thing I always suggest and not one young artist has thought it's a good idea: submit your work to juried exhibitions. A lot. Find out what's passes the juror's test. Dare to have your work compared to the best artists out there. 

Entering a juried exhibition takes courage. You have no idea what the juror is looking for. You don't how what else has been submitted. You don't know how many works will be submitted and how few can be accepted. 

Exhibitions teaches an artist to develop a self-critical eye. My husband tells me everything I do is great. We all need supportive, encouraging people around us, but they can't tell us if our work is good. Blind jurying can.

Rejection can be the hardest part of the jurying process. Nobody likes to be rejected, but artists don't know if their work has been rejected because the work was bad, that particular juror didn't like it, it didn't fit the juror's vision for the show, it didn't work with the other pieces already selected or there were too many good pieces to fit and choices had to be made.

The rejection is important though. When a piece of mine is rejected from a show, I have to look more critically at the work. Were there flaws that could be corrected? Did I misinterpret the theme?

Of course, acceptance is much better! Fewer than 1 in 10 of the works submitted to the Art St. Louis Exhibition XXIV were accepted. I was delighted that "Windswept, #1" an Infrared photograph, was among the accepted works for ASL major annual exhibit.

Submitting work to juried exhibitions is time-consuming, costly and exhausting. And it's the best way I know to push my work forward.

Monday, October 27, 2008


"Duck Pond," (c) 2008 Jeane Vogel Photography, Infrared photograph

I think the worst advice I ever got was "Stick to a Routine." 

It goes like this: Develop a good work routine. Make your routine part of your life. You won't have to think about it. Exercise. Be at your desk. Perform your hated tasks first. Take your vitamins. Drink your milk. Read the paper.

Your routine will become so natural that the creativity will just leak out of your ears.

Oh, wait. That last part wasn't supposed to happen. But it does. Every time.

A routine is comfortable. It's dependable. It's mind-numbing.

It will make your my brain stop. Cold. That's the whole point of a routine. Do something often enough, in the same order, over and over. It's a part of you. You don't think about it. You don't THINK!

I'm not saying all routines are bad. It's probably a good idea to set a bill paying routine, for example. But most of the time, a routine will stop me from trying something new. 
A routine starts with: "I will do it this way." It eventually turns into "We've always done it this way." 

See? Creativity leaked right out.

So here's the new advice: at least once a week, try something new or unexpected.

But don't make it routine.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm the bad mom this morning. Last night, our 7th grader went to her first concert. She went with a friend and a friend's dad. She met the band members, got them to sign her Ipod and tickets and even exchanged a penny for a personalized guitar pick! She rocked out for four hours.

She had achieved nirvana!

The downside was that went didn't know it was a school night when we agreed to the concert. The deal was that she would have to go to school the next morning -- no excuses. (Apparently her friend gets to sleep in.)

Of course this morning I heard: "I'm sick." "My throat hurts." "I'm just going to the nurse and come back home."

Fine. But you are going to school. This is as good a time as any to learn that there are some days you have to do what you don't want to -- even if you feel sick. You just have to do them. And you have to be cheerful about it.

I feel that way in the studio a lot! 

It takes discipline to work on something because the deadline looms. It takes discipline to finish a commission you didn't want to do - but you needed mortgage money. It takes discipline to start new bodies of work, strike out in new directions -- especially when there are no guarantees of success.

It takes discipline to finish the boring stuff before we can get to the fun stuff.

I have a few of those projects hanging over me right now. Guess it's time to get to work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A New Patron

Living Bouquet, (c) 2005 Jeane Vogel Photography
20x20, $250 framed

I was at the Highland art fair this weekend. Highland is a sweet rural Swiss town in Illinois about 25 minutes from St. Louis. It's not a huge fair, but it's fun and local and I generally do OK there.

To be honest, there weren't lots of sales this weekend. People are a little scared and holding their wallets tight. For some, art is a luxury. For others, art is life saving and feeds their souls. 
For still others, the art journey is just beginning. 

Like many fairs, the Highland fair has a children's section where kids can purchase art for $5. Artists at the fair contribute work and children can shop on their own and begin their art collection. It's a great idea and I always contribute two or three pieces. The art we donate is worth far more than the $5, but it's priceless in the hands of a child.

About an hour before the show closed on Sunday, a young boy --maybe a 3rd grader -- approached me with one my images, Living Bouquet in his hands. He had just bought it and it wanted to meet the artist. 

His parents, obviously proud of him, stood a short distance away. He chose a rather sophisticated piece for a child and he wanted to tell me what it meant to him: it's peaceful, he said. 

Wow! My work is inspired by the Impressionists and evokes a lot of emotions and interpretations. Most adults don't understand modern Impressionism, but kids view art with their heart and souls -- not their heads. They don't care if someone else thinks the work is "important" or "vital." If they respond to it, it works for them. If not, they move on. 

I removed the work from the plastic and inscribed the back for him. He left as if he had met a rock star.  He made my day.

It was my best sale of the day. And I didn't make a dime from it.