Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Creating Titles for Your Artwork

Do titles really matter?
How much time and effort should one spend on titling your work?

Titles can be important to the outsider looking at your art; a good title needs to become part of their narrative too, as well as the artist’s. A good title could be what helps sell your art, which can also mean, a bad title can hamper it.  So the question we are asking ourselves now is what makes a good title?

A good title will:
  • Provide insight into what inspired your art work, perhaps tell a story.
  • Leave room for the viewer to bring in their own meaning and interpretation to the art work.
  • It will be memorable.

How to create titles:
  • Start with the obvious.  If you have key points in the art work use those as a starting point.
  • Was there a inspiration or certain emotion that lead you? Draw on that to help create the title.
  • Is there an underlying story? Give clues with the title.
  • Put yourself in the viewers’ shoes. Ask yourself what do they see? Is there something you want them to focus on?
  • Keep it short.

Over time it may become difficult to come up with unique titles, it all depends on the amount of work you have. Some ways are to create a naming system that works for you, have a dictionary or thesaurus available, or ask for help.

Questions to ask yourself about titles:
  • Why do you struggle with titling your art work?
  • Have you created a system that works for you?
  • What advice would you give to others? Would that advice help you?
  • What are some of your favorite art titles? Use them for inspiration.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Gathering Series - Overcoming Obstacles

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”
 ~ Moliere 

You need to know your obstacle, is it home, work, feeling un-inspired? All of them? Defining the issue will help with getting through it.

Ask yourself:
·       What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your artistic vision?
·       How much effort are you or can you invest in reaching your vision?
·       Can you see ways to improve how you create?
·       What can you do differently artistically?
·       Do you need to ask for creative help?
·       Are you physically tired or creatively tired?

Now once you figured out the obstacle, how do you proceed? You may have to set up your own guidelines to follow that give you enough room and freedom to get creative. Even setting up an appointment with yourself to work may do immensely well for you.  It is easy for work, family and other things to come in your way, but take a moment and take a step back before committing to things; if you really want to try a new technique or just finish some little pieces, there are times that saying “no” or “can we do it this at another time” is the right thing.

Now that you are moving through the obstacle, do you still feel stuck or un-inspired? Try something different in your routine, different music, movie, or complete silence or try a new way to create; paints, computer, pencil. There are even times when you need to just put whatever the piece is away and just start something new. Do not put so much pressure on yourself for it to be perfect, embrace all the imperfections.

Give yourself an assignment; for example: challenges of 30 days of creating and in those thirty days choose a theme to create daily. By doing this you will have to schedule time to work, especially if you post on social media that you are doing this and by posting daily what it is you are creating, you will receive encouragement, find you groove and then it will be come a necessity that you fit art into your life.

It is always important to know it is okay to ask for help. Teachers, friends, peers all want to see you succeed, feeling stuck affects everyone, you may be asking for help for yourself and inspire them as well.

If you do all this and still are left feeling like the obstacle is before you, be radical in your next step, sign up for a class, find books with new ideas for you to explore or perhaps take a friend along with you. Challenge a friend to work on a piece together, have your friend give you a theme or idea and go from there or use something of their work that inspires you and try things out their way.

Obstacles will always be there, it is how you look at it and move around the obstruction, that makes it just a wrinkle in the paper. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gathering Series - Creative Goals

Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.
~ John Dewey

Creative goals are what we craft them to be; from simply picking up the paintbrush again, buying that new camera or starting a new medium all together.  In this every changing world we live in, goals may get pushed aside because of daily life, but what if you take this upcoming year to see your goals achieved.

·      Set aside some time to write down things you wish to achieve. With that list pick the ones that either stands out to you as ones that you can see yourself working on. Choose 2-3.
·       They need not be huge projects, they just need to be some things that you feel you can accomplish within the time frame you give. You can give yourself the entire year to do them, you can set deadlines.
·       Once you have the goals in mind, give yourself the time to plan out how you will do things. This should create some excitement in what lies ahead for you artistically.
·   Research. Sometimes a little research into things can create the motivation to perhaps try new things or visit ideas you perhaps had already moved to the “things to do later” pile.

Whatever goals you wish, small or large, artistically or business minded starting to plan things out will get you just one step closer to reaching them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gathering Series - Introduction of Gatherings and Showing your Art

AGP has been hosting gatherings since 2013, with a small group of artists, we meet to go over the intended topic and show our work. Now we are bringing our gathering to the blog. Here you will be able to read past gathering topics and get the information that was provided at the time.

Our first gathering was about showing your art, as in, where to show your art. Most artists create with their time and finding places to show can be difficult, approaching places can be unnerving.  With this gathering, we mostly shared places to go, many of the artists had found success at local places. Below is a list of places one can try.  There are always more and all it takes, is a hello to the owner or manager and a simple question, "Can I show my art to you?"


Salada Beach Café
220 Paloma Ave. 557-1356
            ~shows are booked out months in advance
            ~complete information located under event tab

Fog City Java
580 Crespi Dr. 355-4698
~go in and sign up, shows are booked out      months in advanced

Pacifica Community Center
540 Crespi Dr. 738-7376      
            ~shows are booked out months in advance

Grape in the Fog
400 Old County Rd. 735-5854           
            ~shows are booked out months in advance    

Ocean Yoga
90 C Eureka Sq. 355-9642

2000 HWY 1 355-4845
~information under Art Gallery Tab, use contact  information for more        

Studio Gallery
1815 Polk St. SF 415-931-3130
                                ~Nov.-Dec. Tiny Show, perfect for 50/50 Pieces
Triton Museum of Art
1505 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara
            ~offers a lot of shows to enter

            ~new website for Sanchez juried shows and
            many more shows to enter, your information is
            saved so you are able to enter many   
Internet Resources

~a great FREE website building site, can also   sign up to PRO account for minimal fee and get more out of it

            ~create your own business art page

            ~a daily picture to promote your art, can be
            linked to websites and blogs and Facebook

www.blogspot.com (just an example)
            ~create a blog, great way to show special
            events, record and discuss progress of your    work

~there are many blogging sites, like wordpress, choose what one is best for you, above is an example

Friday, June 7, 2013

Have You Been to an Artists Gathering?

I attended AGP’s Artist Gathering at Sanchez Art Center Wednesday night.  It was the second of what I hope will be a continuing series, and its theme was “Creativity Happens”.  About 15 people were in attendance seated round-table style in the Main Gallery and surrounded by the wonderful art and original furniture of artisan Gary Knox Bennett, which is currently on exhibit.  AGP Treasurer Daniele Derenzi led the group in her animated and personable fashion. She was well prepared and kept conversation rolling along.  Some attendees seemed shy and reserved at first, but by the time we were a half hour into it, everyone was participating.

I had a wonderful time not only because it was a social gathering full of people that love art like I do, but because of how willing attendees were to share their feelings and experiences. Conversation included how to stay creative when it’s a challenge.  I was interested in what was referred to as “showing up” to your art, as Denny Holland put it, and how carving creative time out of a busy day is an integral part of fanning the creative spark.  Studio Artist Charlotte Seekamp expressed that no matter what she’s doing, her Wednesday evenings are devoted to art or art related activities.

Conversation wandered into other areas such as discovering a sense of art community on social networking sites like Facebook.  The group touched upon how comfortable a person might or might not be with receiving unsolicited feedback on Facebook, for example, or even from family members. I was impressed with how folks readily discussed confidence, as well, which can be a very personal topic.

The gathering was still in gear when I left at 8:30 p.m. At home, I felt very inspired and made considerable progress on the painting I’m working on. It was proof enough to me that “showing up” really is important in more ways than one!

The next AGP Artist Gathering occurs in late July, and members are encouraged to suggest topics for discussion.  I hope more members take advantage of this opportunity, which is completely FREE, by the way, and not tainted by grand-standing, popularity contests or conversation hogs.  It’s quite the opposite, and finds its groove at fun, interactive, and cozy.

I hope to see you at the next gathering.

By Donna L. Faber
AGP Board Secretary

Disclaimer: My computer and printer are not speaking to one another right now, so I was unable to pull a copy of this post for editing, which I most prefer to do.  Therefore, any typos should be forgiven. Eventually, I will track them all down.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

AGP Member Spotlight: Lynette Cook

For those of you who don’t know her, Art Guild of Pacifica Member Lynette Cook is an accomplished fine artist and self-described over achiever who began her formal education juggling a love for art with a love of science.  Rather than choose, however, she embraced both and graduated from California College of the Arts with an MFA in drawing, specializing in scientific illustration. 

As a self-employed artist, Lynette enjoys the privilege of working with esteemed scientists, the most notable of which is Dr. Geoff Marcy, an astrophysicist who took part in the discovery of over 2500 extrasolar planets to date.  An extrasolar planet is a planet discovered outside our solar system.  Lynette was given the opportunity to render many of those discoveries in paint and later using the computer.  As a result of these endeavors, Lynette’s illustrations have been published in many scientific journals and periodicals. Her work also has been published in a variety of formats produced by BBC Television, CNN, The Discovery Channel, Scientific American, NASA, Newsweek, and more.

I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Lynette recently.  We discussed where her art intersects with business, what motivates and inspires her, and we also discussed her battle with cancer.

Donna: Do you find your passion in your art?

Lynette:  I find some of it there certainly. But I would also say it’s tempered by the fact that my art has to be my business, and when art is a business and one has to think of it as a business, it brings the world into it in a way that perhaps creative people do not always prefer.  With the science illustration I’ve done, the client’s needs come first, certainly before any personal inspiration.  Perhaps I can put my own flair on the work to some degree, but nevertheless, I believe that science illustration is art in the service of science.

Also, the science illustration is so much intellectual stimulation.  It is about meeting the needs of others and doing what is accurate.   Science has to be accurate.  It isn’t really about having a personal vision of something or doing it on your own unilaterally.

Donna:  You have to bridle your talent.

Lynette:  Yes. From 1984 until 2009 that’s what I did.  I did a little fine art here and there, but frankly there wasn’t time for both.  As a professional artist of any kind, you’re supposed to keep producing new work and getting it out there.  Essentially, I would have to have two careers and time and energy for that, and of course, I didn’t.

Donna:  So you started doing more fine art ... did it make you feel better?

Lynette:  No, it made me feel worse!


Donna:  Why?

Lynette:  Well, I’ve been around the block as an artist.  Being a fine artist isn’t any easier if you’re going to make a living, to sell your work and get it out there.  I knew it was not an easy road, so there was a part of me that really didn’t want to acknowledge that fine art was calling me and that I had to respond.

Donna:  What I’ve discovered about art is that if you’re going to attach expectations to it, particularly to the outcome, you can be disappointed.

Lynette:  Well, I think that’s true with most things in life.

Donna:  I would rather not be bridled in my art the way you described it, although in my opinion you were doing so for all the right reasons, and you’ve gotten so much out of it in return.  You make a good living.  I’d like to know one thing.  If you remove the economic side of it, do you derive personal satisfaction from doing more fine art?

Lynette:  Quite a bit, yes.

Donna:  Tell me about the period of introspection you mention in your website’s biography.

Lynette: In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I thought, “What have I done wrong?”  I think it’s human nature to ask if this was caused by nonstick pans, too much meat and ice cream, or too little exercise. I tried to make some changes in my life.  I knew I had to find a constructive way to deal with it, and I was determined to get something positive out of it.  I couldn’t get totally lost in despair or anxiety.

Donna: I’ve never had cancer, but I can imagine it would be too easy to get despondent.

Lynette:  Oh it’s totally easy.  But, I said to myself, “What I’m going to do is pretend my cancer can talk, and I’m going to ask it what I need to do in my life to make the right change.” And so I asked it, “what can you tell me about my life that I need to deal with, to know, to question. What’s the message here?”  Then, I got into a workshop for cancer survivors, and we did meditation, and a lot of other good things.  I was dealing with my questions there, as well as on my own.

Donna:  Did you get an answer?

Lynette:  Well, yes.  I had been painting with pixels on a computer for a long time, and my heart was leading me back to fine art and painting with brush and paint on a physical canvas.

It’s also about getting in touch with inner thoughts and feelings, using imagery as a metaphor for one’s life experience.  I do the space art when a project comes along.  Now with the economy being what it is, there isn’t as much work as there once was, so that does allow me more time for painting.  I’m also doing things like applying for grants and working on my website and trying to do my blog.  All these things take time, so I’m not in the studio painting like I need to be.  Inventory is important.  One needs inventory!

Essentially, I have two kinds of work, and one group is what I had at the 50-50: things that I love around me and in the environment.  They’re fun and they’re beautiful, and they can be anything from a dessert that I just love to eat, it’s so fantastic, or a flower that I see when I am taking a walk or even a particular building.   The second group of work is historical brick and stone structures, which I find fascinating and challenging.

These are things in my environment that I take pleasure from.  My realistic style makes me tight with the detail, and I think it draws the viewer into it, and they really notice the detail with fresh eyes somehow.  So, that part is pure enjoyment.  I render images that I think are fun and beautiful and doing so gives me variety, and it helps me pay attention to what’s around me, too.

Part of having a life that I value and enjoy is seeing the little things because the big things don’t come around every day.


Since focusing on fine art, Lynette has experienced many successes, the most recent of which is being awarded a 2013 grant from the Capelli d’Angeli Foundation, which offers grants of up to $500 to women artists of specified disciplines who are or have been in treatment for cancer.  The accepted disciplines are painting, sculpture, all kinds of photography and mixed media.  Feel free to learn more by viewing the Foundation’s site at www.capellidangelifoundation.org.  Lynette also recently received Best in Show in the Richeson 75 Small Works 2013 exhibition in Kimberly, Wisconsin.  It comes with a sizable cash award, as well.  See more here.

I spoke with Lynette for almost an hour, and as much as I’d like to, I can’t include the entire transcript here.  While I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion, and found her character, determination, and strength engaging, there is one more detail I find most intriguing.

If there is one thing I feel we can count on in our modern times, other than change, that is, it’s irony.  If you look closely enough, you’ll see it everywhere. 

As it transforms the world, for example, technology lays low some of what we thought we could count on.  Publishing has been forever changed by electronic readers like the Nook and Kindle.  The irony is that both aspiring and accomplished authors can publish their own work and have it listed on Amazon.com in no time whatsoever.

Technology has changed the art world, as well, in significant ways, and not just by allowing the presence of virtual galleries.  While this isn’t the case with Lynette, who is extremely comfortable with both email and web design, for artists who don’t use email comfortably or at all, these changes can be daunting.  In the recent past, we’ve entered juried exhibitions by filling out an application in writing, photographing our work, mailing it all by good old snail mail (USPS) and allowing our talent to handle the rest.  Now, most juried exhibitions are expedited by programs designed just for that purpose, like callforentry.org, which was used for the upcoming Left Coast Annual at Sanchez Art Center

While it may be argued that digital photographs leave something to be desired in the jurying process, the upside is that the internet provides an artist with an increased presence via a website “storefront” and even a personal brand, making us more recognizable and easier to find.  It can also significantly extend an artist’s reach, allowing us to enter juried exhibitions all over the United States and even the world.  The irony is that anyone, despite talent or education, can declare themselves an artist and enjoy the perks the internet has to offer.

Lynette’s brush with irony came as she initially introduced her fine art into the gallery environment and was told that she shouldn’t be there because her history with science illustration wasn’t really art.  Even still, gallery staffs have been so bold as to claim Lynette is “just starting out” and should price her pieces accordingly.  She writes on her web page’s biography, “Up until the mid-2000s most of my space art was "original" in every sense, created by hand with pigment on paper. To my mind the "illustration versus fine art" distinction has many shades of gray, with no clear delineation of one from the other. I've exhibited these pieces in numerous exhibits at scientific and educational institutions, and many of my originals have been sold. Yet so far, astronomical art is not recognized by the fine art community of retail galleries and art museums.”

I encourage you to view Lynette's space art at http://extrasolar.spaceart.org/ and then view a full body of her fine art at http://www.lynetteinthestudio.com/.

The depth and realism of Lynette Cook's talent is unquestionable, and yet the validity of her fine art has been questioned.

To me, this proves that no matter what our personal challenges, even the most talented artist can be subject to the on-going debate between commercial art and fine art.

I find that most ironic.

By Donna L. Faber
Board Secretary
Art Guild of Pacifica

Monday, December 17, 2012

AGP Member Spotlight: Charles McDevitt

The Art Guild of Pacifica is a dynamic collection of people that are rich in capabilities, artistic experience, teamwork, and most of all talent.  There is so much talent I wish I could blog about every single AGP member all at once.  I’ll have to settle for one member at a time, this time focusing on studio artist Charles McDevitt.
Charles at Oceana Gallery 

Charles McDevitt is a San Francisco native, born and raised.   He felt his talent was always acknowledged and encouraged growing up.   Charles was a city kid who attended City College and used it as a spring board to the California College of Artist & Crafts.  He did all kinds of art in his under-grad years and then graduated with a degree.  Two days later, on Christmas Eve, he was drafted into the Vietnam War.

Charles was fortunate enough to go to Officer Candidate School and become an instructor. As the draft was expanded, instructors were badly needed.  So, Charles remained safely stateside.

The next life adventure brought Charles into 1973 where he was part of the very first paramedic class in San Francisco. He subsequently spent almost 25 years in San Francisco’s Health Department.   Then, in the early 90’s, the paramedics became part of the Fire Department.  At that time, Charles was a Paramedic Captain, and he continued instructing, which he really loved.  He appreciated that students in his classes wanted to be there.

People dig his work!
Upon retirement, Charles expanded his artistic efforts to focus on relearning various mediums such as acrylic and oil. At that time, a large studio in San Francisco gave him the space he needed to paint full time.

Charles is a self-described motor head who loves cars. He began painting them to challenge himself. Then, as time went on, his painting got proficient and the depiction of certain materials got better. His favorite paintings take about three months to complete, and the casual observer will see that he paints what he loves, including fire trucks, cars, and other scenes that have personal meaning.

Charles has enjoyed a studio at the Sanchez Art Center for the last five years.  He enjoys being there because he appreciates the feedback of other artists.  His artistic goals currently revolve around the painting of man made objects and how they interact with their surroundings, including light and heat or coolness.  He loves to see how heat plays on things.

Most recently, Charles exhibited in the 2012 Left Coat Annual, a juried exhibition, and the 2011 Statewide Painting Competition and Exhibition for the Triton Museum, also juried.  His full list of artistic accomplishments is found on his website here.  Be encouraged to view his site, as well, right here.  

Or, if you’re in the area, stop by Charles’ studio in the East Wing at Sanchez Art Center.  I had the opportunity during recent “open studios” to spend a moment on his comfortable couch enjoying the artistic atmosphere.  It was simply wonderful.

Visit http://www.mcdevittarts.com/ to see Charles' wonderful work!

By Donna L. Faber
Board Secretary
Art Guild of Pacifica
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