I admit that I have an obsession with succulents. Thankfully, its not a fatal attraction. Its hard to kill one…even the leaves will start growing roots! My attraction has produced several paintings. If I get a good photo sometimes I paint it more than once.
I like to experiment and use different mediums, change the composition, and see what I can do with it. Sometimes, the combination is so successful that I produce a series using the same concept but with different photos, like my Shadow Dance series. I have this amazing agave that is producing pups like crazy. I took some photos of it and the shadows on all the pups just really stood out and when I painted them, they turned into the focus. These little gems are painted on an upcycled panel from an art crating warehouse that ships art for museums. I love these little panels. They are covered in a brown paper that I primed so I could paint over it. The brown paper is what you see in the background.
Another painting I’ve done 3 different ways is the Prickly series. I just liked the photo so much that I kept painting it. The first one I painted is the pastel on black paper in the middle. I love the texture in that paining. The second one was a commission that I did and its a very large oil paining (3′x5′), the details and soft color changes in the agave’s petals are beautiful, you can really get lost in it. The last one, on the right is my most recent rendition. I have been working on a series of small paintings on paper with acrylic. With all the different mediums and surfaces, the effect produced is entirely different.
I was asked to paint a series of my agave and succulents on paper for a show at the Rebecca Molayem Gallery this past July. I had seen some new paper from Arches at Blick that you could paint with oils on without any additional prep work. So I bought several sheets of it and created these paintings.
The original paintings are available on my website athenamantle.com. You can find these and my other southwest prints on FineArtAmerica.com
I’m not sure why but I seem to have an obsession with vintage cars. I guess they are more interesting than your average modern car. They have interesting shapes and colors. I would love to have one but fear I wouldn’t like the lack of modern niceties that come with cars these days like um….power steering, seat belts, power windows, oh and my favorite feature, power locks. My favorite thing about my Prius isn’t the gas mileage, but that is nice I admit, its the keyless entry. I hate searching in my purse for keys! I love that my car knows I’m there and unlocks the door for me! But you don’t want to know how lazy I am so let me tell you about my vintage truck paintings.
Somehow I am always finding cool vintage cars in my travels. I think its one of those things that when you like something you see it all around. I’ve managed to get some great shots of these cars and make paintings of them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. There is one location in Lyons, Colorado that I took several shots of and ended up making 3 paintings from. I’m not sure if I can squeeze out one more but it was just such a great subject! That blue truck made it into all three! Here they are in the order they were painted:
Here are some more of my vintage finds…
I’ve been working on a different technique these past few weeks. I have done wood block prints in the past for images for holiday cards and such but decided to see what I could do to turn my painting images into 2 color block prints. The results were pretty cool. Well, at least I think so!
So, first I had to create my image and carve the wood block. I decided to use the two paintings that I had with trailers in them. They have a nostalgic feel and I just thought they would read well with only 2 colors. I took the images in the computer and converted them to black and white and then reversed them. The image will print opposite so if you are trying to create an exact image it has to be flipped so everything is opposite. Then I used graphite paper to draw/trace the image onto the the linoleum wood blocks and voila!… its ready for carving.
This is a painting called “Retirement Plan” that I’ve carved into a wood block.The next one is called Happy Camper and the unfinished one on teh right is Fresh Paint. I haven’t had time yet to finish carving that one.
I completed the two campers for a show I had last weekend at SOPA Studios in South Pasadena. I got some nice feedback on them so I’ll definitely do some more.
After I carved the blocks I had to test the print to see if I needed to make any adjustments to my carving. You can see here, there were some problem areas that I needed to adjust before the print would work.
In the shadow area I’ve lost the bottom of the trailer. I needed to make the lines a bit thicker so they will show a separation in the ink. So, I carve some more…
Then I retest…
Then I retest a million times more because I seem to be having problems with the ink consistency. So I give up for the day and take my work an art meeting to get help from the experts who do this print making all the time. I discovered several possible problems:
- Oil based ink is better because it has a nicer consistency, it goes on better and gives better prints.
- My paper needs to be softer, lighter even. I was testing on copy paper then did some on watercolor paper (this is too rough for the print) although I was told if I used hot press it would be better.
- But the BIGGEST mistake I was making was trying to press the print from the backside like this…When I discovered this I had to laugh because it was so silly! I hadn’t worked with these big blocks for so long I’d forgotten that I laid them on top of the block and pressed the paper to it. This was THE reason my prints weren’t coming out right. It wasn’t the ink or the paper! Although those things may contribute to a nicer print, it wasn’t what was ruining it!
In the end, I got two decent prints in time for the show…
What do you think? I’d love to hear your feedback!
Marketing can seem like an impossible task to an artist. Artists want to be painting or creating, not promoting. I understand this, really I do. But on the other hand, those creative instincts that make you an artist make you a perfect Marketer. When I left my job as VP Marketing for an Inc 500 company in 2010 and went back to my art roots I decided to embrace the fact that if I was to be a successful artist I would also need to continue using my marketing skills. I guess once you have a marketing mind, you always have it.
My goal is of course to be successful as an artist but also to help others be successful. I hate to see artists giving up and going back to their jobs so they can “make money”. Where is the fun in that? Being a business owner of any kind is challenging and that’s exactly what you are when you are an artist. I hate to tell you this but its true. And what would happen if a business owner didn’t promote or find customers? Absolutely nothing! They would be out of business pretty quickly.
The good news is that like anything else, marketing is something you can learn. It does take some effort on your part but the good news is that I’ve spent that last two years researching on the best ways to market as an artist and how to get to the top of Google. Everyone wants their name in lights, right? Ok, well maybe not in lights but you want your customers to find you and reach out to you. That is what I”m going to show you how to do. I’d call this Marketing for Dummies but that wouldn’t be accurate. It’s more like Marketing for Smarties (smart artists that is), those that are brave dedicated and determined to be successful. But don’t let this intimidate you. You don’t have to be a techie or know anything about marketing. You do need to follow instructions (there are actions involved, it’s not magic) and have the drive to persist until you accomplish what you set out to do. If this sounds like you, I hope you’ll join me.
I’ll be giving a seminar at Modest Fly Art Gallery in Tujunga, California on August 5th. If you can’t make it but want the information, let me know. Sign up early and save!
To Your Success in Art!
Oh, and this is for Technorati to register this blog: code XYYYTT8JEKJJ
The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce
Invites the public to attend
Saturday April 21, 2012, 6 to 9 pm
Opening Reception for the Artists
“SOPA at SoPas”
A Juried Show of Recent work by
Artist Members of SOPA Studios
Mitch Braiman, David Graves, Zanda Hudson, Jack Jones, Karen Keiffer, Athena Mantle, Alice Marsh, Lisa Marsh, Harry Nickelson, Christine Prentice, George Ramirez, Jacqueline Rosen, Joseph Stauffer, Benjamin Wheeler
Show runs April 18th through May 12th, 2012
Sponsored by SOPA Studios, SPARC (The South Pasadena Arts Commission), and SoPas Gallery
To Benefit the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Annual Arts Scholarship
1121 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030 (626) 441-2339
Salvation Pinto by Mitch Braiman
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 to 5, or by appointment.
This Saturday will be the final day of the Just California exhibit at McGroarty Arts Center. Come out and see the great artwork and enjoy the art fair featuring 45 artists!
Here is a little video of the exhibition made by curator, Monica Hicks….
Just Californa Exhibit Tour
The month of December proved to be a popular one for agave paintings. I painted this commission of a blue agave for a collector in Scottsdale. My largest one yet at 36″ x 60″. I have to say I was a little sad to send it off not having gotten much time to enjoy it myself. But alas, I make paintings so others can enjoy them so off it went!
Just before Christmas I sold my Blue Agave Family painting to a native plant lover from LA’s Westside. Its always exciting to be found through Google – ahhh, the power of the internet! I couldn’t have been happier to deliver it to it’s new gorgeous home.
Because this painting had been hanging over my fireplace for me to enjoy, I had to replace it before the company arrived for the holidays! I found the largest canvas I had and painted a replacement, finishing just 2 hours before throwing a holiday party. Whew! I couldn’t bare the thought of a wall devoid of art so I painted this 30″ x 40″ foxtail agave alla prima!
If this is any indication of whats to come, 2012 will continue the agave trend as I gear up to paint more of this series. A few of my agave paintings have been selected for Margaret Danielak’s upcoming show “Red” at the Pasadena Women’s City Club. The opening reception will be Thursday, February 9th from 6-9 pm. 160 N. Oakland Avenue -Pasadena, CA 91101