Castro Sutro

Castro

“Castro”, 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas

"Sutro", 12" x 16" acrylic on canvas

“Sutro”, 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas

2 new paintings of day scenes from San Francisco. Considering partnering them as a diptych set titled “CastroSutro” as a play on KamaSutra… 😉

Open the floodgates

Fox

“The Fox”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

Howdy humans! I may have been quiet on the blog-front for some time, but I was busy in the studio, the interwebs and in reality. Check out my brand-new website, complete with an updated artist statement and buy links directly from the painting description pages! And here’s the rest of the recent / new paintings:

"Piano Co", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“Piano Co”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

"Lavender", 24" x 30" acrylic on canvas

“Lavender”, 24″ x 30″ acrylic on canvas

"Take Out", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“Take Out”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

"Delivery", 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

“Delivery”, 16″ x 20″ acrylic on canvas

 

 

 

Studio stirrings

New acrylic painting on 16" x 20" canvas

New acrylic painting on 16″ x 20″ canvas

Hello art lovers! My involuntary painting sabbatical (aka the “busy season” of my day job) is over….kind of. The studio has been cleaned, which is a glorious thing if you’ve never tried it. You know what I mean. You’re eyeing your nightmare of a craft room as you read this. This piece, which I’ve yet to settle on a title for, marks the beginning of a new painting era for me. Some of my older work from 2008 was created in a looser style like this, with drawing elements like charcoal, watercolor pencil (above, seen in the tree and power lines) and conte crayon. Who knows why I fell down the photorealist-rabbit-hole, but after a few maddening years obsessing over details, I was ready to return to a more evocative, expressive approach. Like an adult getting on a bicycle after decades of absence, I doubted that I would be able to do it, but was pleased to see how easily the movements returned to me with my trusty angle shader (my favorite brush).

This piece was completed just hours before I learned that my father-in-law Bob passed away unexpectedly. In times like these, it’s as if the entire world simply stops. Or rather, the world keeps going as you remain transfixed. It is hard to think of doing anything, and yet, doing something somehow helps, hence this post. Bob was a vibrant person who loved his sons and friends dearly. I have painted several scenes from images collected on a trip we took with him to San Francisco. There are no words to express how deeply this loss has impacted Rob & I. We miss you, Bob.

I have a new painting sketched in, and anticipate rediscovery of art as therapy in this difficult time. As I complete new paintings over the coming months, I look forward to sharing them with you. Thanks for being here.

How to begin collecting art

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“Reclining nude” an old drawing I’m framing for the Capital Artist’s Studio Tour, Sept. 8 & 9

Pop quiz, art lovers! Answer these three questions as fast as you can:
1. What’s the first piece of art you see when you walk into your home?
2. Who is your favorite local artist?
3. When’s the last time you saw affordable art in person?

If you don’t have answers to any of the above, don’t worry- you’re in a large boat with lots of other people who love art, but don’t have as much of a personal connection / collection as they’d like. The good news is that it’s remarkably easy to start collecting art. I’ve been asked a few times about the best ways to go about it, so I decided to put together this how-to article.

First, let’s dispel some commonly-held myths.

Art myth #1: Art is too expensive
To be fair, there’s A LOT of expensive art in the world. I’ve seen life-size taxidermy-style rabbit creatures with exposed nipples selling for $12K each (seriously, I have a witness that can verify that wackadoodle art moment). A Picasso scribble on a napkin can go for a few grand. But there are oodles of artists selling work for a couple hundred dollars or less, and chances are they’re right in your backyard. Many people think they can only afford prints or posters. But original art that you like is out there! And it’s not hard to find… if you know where to look. We’ll get to that later.

Art myth #2: Art is only sold in galleries
Cue your mental buzzers, folks! That myth is WRONG! Art is sold in galleries, of course- usually at 2-3 times the price of buying it directly from an artist to cover their commission and overhead, too. It’s great to support galleries when you can. These venues are essentially on the endangered species list right now. If you like having places to regularly view work, patronize your local galleries during affordable art group shows, or better yet, find a co-op!

Cooperative galleries like City Art Gallery in San Francisco’s Mission District are completely owned and operated by local artists who usually put together some pretty rockin’ shows and give more back to their members. Besides galleries, you can buy art at events like Art Fairs, Art Walks and Open Studios.

My Open Studios setup last year

Art myth #3: Affordable art isn’t quality art or it would cost more
Most of us want art because of how it makes us feel, not because of its investment properties. Art prices can be wildly different from artist to artist, and often they are based on the artist’s gut as opposed to market research. Bad art can be overpriced, good art can be underpriced. What makes art “good” or “quality” anyway? Technique affects quality- such as an artist using archival pigments and papers- but what makes it good is whether or not YOU have a connection with it.

Alright, now let’s get to the “how-to”s of starting your very own art collection:

1. Consider what type of art you like…. and don’t like!
Sometimes it’s easier to think of what you don’t enjoy than to identify what your aesthetic is, especially when you are beginning to collect art. I happen to like a lot of art that is different from the style of work I create. A little bit of casual research in this area will help you quickly narrow it down. Perhaps you’re into folk art or street art or color fields or collage. Visit a museum or a few galleries. Take notes in like/don’t like categories on your phone. Ask the gallery attendants or museum curators what style of art a piece is if you aren’t sure. Why do this? The Internet is really awesome for finding art, but there’s so much of it out there that keywords are, well key to helping you find it- whether you’re looking for local work or scouring the globe virtually.

2. Find local venues that showcase local artists
Most semi-urban areas have local arts organizations. For example, here in Sacramento we have SMAC,the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. They offer a newsletter that gives me details on resources and calls for art as well as local exhibitions. We also have an events website called Sacramento365.com that features local artists of the month and arts events. Free newspapers or zines on display around town, like the Sacramento News & Review out here are also a convenient way to discover art happenings.

Terms to search online include “cooperative art gallery in (name of your city)”, “art walk in _____”, “art openings in _____”, and “open studios in _____”. Most cities now have regular art-related events, such as “Second Saturday” or “First Friday”, on recurring dates used to coordinate city-wide art exhibitions. Usually you can just park downtown and walk around on these nights to see artwork set up on the street, in bars and restaurants and in galleries with extended hours in addition to places you’d never expect.

Open Studios are generally annual or semi-annual art events in a geographic location designed to give the art-loving public direct access to artists in their working spaces. Some artists offer demonstrations of specific techniques, such as those indicated with an asterisk in this year’s CAST Guide for the Capital Artists Studio Tour. CAST, the Open Studios event in Sacramento, is expanding so much each year that they had to split it into 2 weekends this time. This puts us in the footsteps of neighbor-by-the-bay San Francisco, who boasts the nation’s largest and oldest-running Open Studios– a bi-annual, month-long, kick-ass adventure featuring different neighborhoods each weekend and accompanied by a luxurious guide. Oh yeah, and there’s usually an app/ QR-code linked virtual map too. [It’s Silicon Valley, after all.]

“Embassy of Cake”, a nightscape of San Francisco I painted in 2011. Original available as well as prints.

3. Stay in touch with local artists you like
When you find artists you like, keep them on your radar. You can sign up for e-newsletters- many artists put out sign-up sheets during openings- or follow them on Twitter or Facebook or read their blog. Artists are essentially small-business owners, and it’s up to us to keep our fans engaged. I personally post new art on my blog, Facebook fan page and Twitter, and lots of my favorite fellow artists do too. It’s a great way to see what they’ve been up to, call dibs on a piece if it’s love at first sight [or barter-dibs, if you’re into trading art for art like I am], or evaluate their work over time as you secretly admire it.

This could also keep you in the loop for sales, discounts and openings. There’s nothing like seeing art in person, which is why I recommend you begin locally. Not every artist offers sales, but many try to reward clients that stick with them through discounts or occasional gifts.

Besides that, artists can be pretty interesting. You may learn something about yourself by following stories from artists who make artwork you enjoy. And you’ll have a stronger connection to the pieces you eventually purchase from them, because you’ll have learned about what inspired the piece, or stories surrounding their process. When you are connected to an artist, their art will have more worth to you, and you’ll feel better about supporting him/her while giving the gift of art to yourself.

Visitors checking out some of my mixed media pieces at the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, from their blog REVEL

4. Start small and buy one piece you love
If you’ve never bought a piece of original art, start small- either in size or price. You can set yourself a budget- maybe your first piece will be $50 or less. If that’s hard for you, try negotiating a simple swap with yourself- say “I’ll skip 5 days at Starbucks to spend $25 on this mini-painting”.

And don’t buy it unless you LOVE it- really. I might spend 30 seconds looking at a throw pillow in Ross and pay $10 for it, then use it on my couch for a couple months until I get tired of it, and I might do that a few times a year. Do I LOVE the pillow? Meh. Do I NEED the pillow? No. So instead, couldn’t I live with whatever pillows I have for awhile and use that furnishing-whim-money on a rad wall sculpture from a local ceramicist that I can enjoy in my boudoir every damn day? Yes! And so can you!

How do you know if you LOVE a piece of art? Sometimes it’s a gut feeling, an impact you notice right away. You walk into the crowded, white-walled gallery opening and head for the free wine and cheese table when suddenly a piece of art jumps off the wall and straight into your visual cortex and doesn’t let go. Other times, it’s more subtle.

If it is a subtle courting and you’re not sure if you want to go for it, my biggest tip when it comes to figuring out whether or not you should buy a piece you like is to sleep on it. If you see a piece of art you like, and days, weeks or months later you still find yourself thinking about it, chances are you’ll enjoy it for years to come. The only caveat is that original art is usually one of a kind, and while you’re thinking about it, the piece could be sold to someone else.

At a City Art Gallery opening in 2010

Part of my personal commitment to my collectors is to always have affordable art available, and by that I mean original work under $100.  Growing up, I remember visiting art galleries as a teenager and getting the brush-off. I dislike the assumption that art is only for rich people. Art is for everyone. That being said, I could never charge $100 for the pieces that take me 50+ hours to complete, which leads me to my next tip..

5. Ask the artist for a payment plan or layaway option on a large purchase
Some of us fall into the “Whole Foods taste, Trader Joe’s budget” category, and that’s understandable. I’ve heard artists say that they could not afford to purchase their own work in a gallery, which is upsetting. Choosing art can be a lot like dating- you can’t always control who you fall for. And sometimes you fall for the tall, dark, expensive painting. Every artist handles sales differently, but most of us are reasonable.

An artist doesn’t have to put up a note on his/her website saying “ask me about layaway!” to be open to it. If you find a piece of art that you LOVE so bad it hurts your wallet, see if he/she would be willing to let you make payments. I arrange commissions and mural projects into installments. It works for me, because I get SOME money right away, and it works for the client, because they don’t have to fork it all over at once. Hooray!

So that’s it- a few simple steps towards enriching your living space and life with labors of love. In times like these, it’s easy to look at art as fluff. Clearly it’s not a necessity the way toilet paper and bread are. But be assured that when you’re ready to venture into it, the emerging collector’s art market will be here waiting. 🙂

Surreality

a silent spectator

as swarms of strangers

snap souvenir shots

suddenly I’m a secret celebrity

for a few sparkling seconds

—————————————————————–

Hello darlings! Today I am waxing alliterative in celebration of a project I’m very proud of, so please excuse my self-indulgence. In September 2011, I was selected as a large heart artist for 2012’s “Heroes & Hearts” public art project. Benefiting San Francisco General Hospital, a level 1 trauma center that serves everyone regardless of their ability to pay, this fundraiser has been helping raise money and awareness since 2004. [Read about the history of this public art project here.]

The "night" side of the heart I painted on display in AT&T park during the Heroes & Hearts 2012 luncheon

The heart is both a symbol of San Francisco’s tolerance and acceptance, and a reference to the iconic “I left my heart in San Francisco” tune by the amazing Tony Bennett. Tony participated in the heart project in its inaugural year, and will be honored to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of that recording this coming Valentine’s Day at City Hall in San Francisco.

Guests attend the "Hearts after dark" celebration in AT&T park

I discovered the call for artists on Alan Bamberger’s ArtBusiness.com facebook fan page during the summer and submitted a rendering. When I learned I’d been selected to participate, I was thrilled! I cleaned out space in my garage and my dad helped me out by preparing an industrial dolly, which I used to turn it while working on it. The blank heart was delivered to my home in Sacramento in September of 2011. Made of steel and fiberglass, it weighed roughly 400 pounds. We were given about 8 weeks to complete them, and all-told, I probably put about 120 hours of work into it.

Fabulous "hearts after dark" celebration with DJ's, munchies, cocktails and dancing

The heart I painted is titled “All Day, All Night”. The inspiration for the design began when, on an evening in the city with my  mom, I took a photo of the bay bridge and night sky from Treasure Island. At the time, I was mulling over what to submit as my heart design. I found myself thinking of “The General” and how the hospital welcomes everyone at any hour while standing on the seashore with my mom, who also welcomes me into her home at any hour- including late nights and last-minute stayovers when I’m in the bay area. I remembered the lyrics from a ditty she used to sing to me when I was a girl… “all day, all night Marianne… down by the seashore sifting sand…” and decided to return during the day to capture an alternate image. These day and night scenes ended up on both sides of the heart, seamed by a silver lining of metal foil.

"All Day, All Night" heart by Marianne Bland in Union Square, San Francisco

The donor that selected my heart during San Francisco General Hospital Foundation’s Heroes & Hearts 2012 fundraiser is Wells Fargo. Celebrating their 160th year and considering San Francisco their “home”, Wells Fargo graciously agreed to allow the heart to be displayed. It was installed at the corner of Post and Stockton streets in Union Square on February 10th, where it will remain until Labor Day of 2012.

A plaque on the base of the heart shows the donor, foundation, my name and the title

I visited the heart in Union Square today and was so excited to see it being enjoyed by the locals and tourists gathering there. I’m so honored to have been given the chance to participate in a project like this. While I can’t afford to donate huge sums of money to charities, I am able to contribute in a small way by donating artwork. The people at San Francisco General Hospital literally save lives everyday, whether or not the patients in need produce an insurance card first. To me, this is truly exemplary of how supportive and loving the community of San Francisco is. I’m so proud to be from the bay area, and this experience reaffirmed to me why the city is so special and why its neighborhoods, scenery and people continue to be the subject of my paintings.

A view of the night side of the heart facing the corner of Post & Stockton

Since it will be there all spring and summer, please stop by if you get a chance! 3 other hearts are on display at the corners of Union Square Park. [I suggest you opt for a parking garage- or bring a giant bag of change for the metered street parking. ] A big thanks to my husband for his understanding and support during the long evening and weekend hours I worked on this project, and to the rest of my family and friends for their enthusiasm and encouragement as well. Thanks to fellow heart artist John Kraft for his tips and advice along the way.

I’d also like to thank Alan Bamberger for the helpful resource and services he provides as an integral part of the San Francisco art scene- I highly recommend ArtBusiness.com to my fellow artists. And of course, thank you to the people at the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation who made this project happen. It takes a lot of work to wrangle artists, move these hearts and coordinate events like these. Their dedication helps ensure that the staff at The General has what they need to continue to serve the city and its citizens. You can donate here if you’d like to help support their efforts too.

What’s in a name?

New cityscape, 16" x 20" acrylic on canvas

Like this new painting? Help me name it! This is the first time I’ve ever posted artwork without a title, but I’m at an impasse.

My first idea was “Cashew Apple” after I learned that a tiny red apple grows on top of the cashew, which is naturally in a black shell. It seemed appropriate for the nighttime color scheme, but otherwise unrelated to the image.

Then I considered “Golden Delicious” because it references apples so it touches upon both gold and red, the main tones of this piece. Right now, both options are eliciting a shrug and nose crinkle from me, which means I’m undecided. If you like either of those options or have a suggestion of your own, leave a comment. If you come up with something I like and I use it, I’ll send you a free print of this piece!

To give you some more information about this painting, it features a street scene from San Francisco’s Chinatown near the corner of Grant & Washington. There are a few restaurants, the corner bathed in red light appears to be a bar, and several pedestrians head home through the chilly evening. Here’s a detail shot:

Love those lanterns.

I know you’re creative, so let’s hear those ideas! The “name game” ends in one week- on Tuesday June 7th- so enter a comment before then for a chance to win a free print of the heretofore-unnamed painting. 😉

Blue Fog

"Blue Fog", 16" x 20" acrylic painting on canvas

No matter what I’m making, I somehow seem to end up immersed in the primaries again. Red, blue and yellow- my dear, dear friends.  Add a little white and some soft black charcoal and I’m a happy gal. Today I finished “Blue Fog”, above, the companion piece I mentioned for “Going Home”, which is coincidentally on the way to its new home in the Pacific Northwest. Someone snapped it up Easter morning (I know the call of Etsy is strong and difficult to resist even on holidays), which was bittersweet. I hardly had any time to tuck it in to my tiny studio and admire it. But I’m thrilled to know it will bring joy to someone else in their space. I’m not a hoarder when it comes to my art, but I do have to pry canvases from my husband’s hands on occasion. Here are a couple of detail shots:

My favorite red of all with that twinge of orange.

It makes me giggle that the sign reads "turn head next" because of all the billboards they slap up out there.

Oh, and did I mention this painting is also for sale? Want it? Get “Blue Fog” here before it’s gone.

Going Home

"Going Home", acrylic & charcoal on 16" x 20" canvas

Happy Earth Day, people! I celebrated by doing what I usually do regardless of the holiday- making art. 😉 And I have 3, count them, THREE new pieces to share with you today! How’s that for a Friday treat? “Going Home” is a 16″ x 20″ acrylic and charcoal on canvas painting I finished just minutes ago, and which is available to purchase HERE.

Detail shot of "Going Home"

I took a reference photo for this the last time I was leaving San Francisco in the evening, when the sky was that fantastic saturated blue, and I knew it would be a painting one day. That day came pretty quick (I let it cut in line in front of some other photos) because I realized I needed to loosen up my brushstrokes [thanks for that pep talk, Todd!]. I’m really pleased with the freedom I was able to revisit in the process and I love the end result so much, I almost didn’t put it up for sale…. almost. This painting has a sister I’ve just started that will be making an appearance soon, so stay tuned!

"Trouble", a poem block

I also finished a couple of Nancy Drew poem blocks with watercolor/acrylic/oil pastel flourishes on slices of reclaimed fencepost. “Trouble” (above) reads: “The lad proved to be trouble” and is rendered in orange-pink-red-purple. “Voices” (below) reads: “meeting with the vacant/stolen voices” over white, blue and purple. Both are for sale in my etsy shop along with a crop of other poem blocks and affordable art. Have a great weekend, people!

"Voices", a poem block

Embassy of Cake

Embassy of Cake

"Embassy of Cake", 24" x 30" oil painting on canvas

Behold! The greatest painting ever made… by me… this month. It’s also the only painting I’ve completed this month. Which made me feel like I was working insanely slow, ala Vermeer- except, you know, without an actual sponsor or client waiting to purchase it. And I know it’s been a dreadfully long two weeks or so since my last post, for which I apologize heartily. I had planned to work on some mixed media bits in between, but then I stepped through the portal of painting torment and couldn’t get out until I finished this thing. It has been the all-consuming monster of my life for the month of March. I should be happy it’s done, but I don’t even want to look at it for a long while. Which is too bad, since it’s oil and it takes a bazillion years to dry, which it has to do in sunlight to avoid clouding. My studio is ridiculously crowded with curing pieces at the moment.

“Embassy of Cake” features a corner somewhere in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Despite the fact that the lower shop is charmingly titled “Uncle Restaurant”, I don’t know what the other buildings are. The left side appears to be topped with several flags, and the building itself makes me think of some kind of awesome ice cream cake, so I finally settled on the title “Embassy of Cake”. I’m not sure what kind of desserty business would go on in such a place- perhaps petitions to outlaw fondant in certain districts, or allowing German Chocolate to seek asylum or something. But I’m pretty sure cake tasting would at least be involved, which is enough for me.

I DID manage to cobble together a time-lapse slideshow of images illustrating the progression of this work, AND I kept track of the number of hours it took me to create it. Check out the video here. I’m trying to kick my art business brain into gear and determine how much time it takes to make these pieces so I am still earning a decent hourly rate- in the figurative sense that it only applies when I actually sell stuff, but you get the idea.

And in honor of that minor achievement, here’s a little contest for my devoted readers- enter a comment here on the blog to guess how many hours it took me to complete this piece. Entries will be accepted until March 31st at midnight PST. The person who gets the closest to the actual time will win a print of this painting! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to send that out for at least a month- it needs to dry enough that the shine lessens and I can take a high-quality photo without the glare, but rest assured that the winner will eventually get an 8″x10″ limited edition giclee of “Embassy of Cake” for free! Yay!

Also, in case you don’t receive my email newsletter and haven’t visited my Facebook Fan Page lately, I have a sale going on in my Etsy shop until March 31st as well. Use the discount code: spring15 to receive 15% off your entire order! I already have over 80 items in my shop for under $80, so it’s a great time to save. Happy Weekend, everyone!

Flashy, take two

"Flashy", oil & acrylic on 16" x 20" canvas

Right now you may be saying to yourself, “gee, that painting looks awfully familiar…” Do not adjust your computer monitor. You are, in fact, seeing the same piece for the second time. “Flashy” was my final piece from ArtProject2010, that I “completed” the first time around on Dec. 31st. At that point, it was all acrylic. I wasn’t 100% happy with it, so it has been hanging around in my studio for a couple of months for a grueling staring contest. In that time, I completed a couple of new cityscapes in oil, which helped me decide that Flashy needed a finishing coat and some amping up in the seductive hotness that is oil paint. Above is the finished piece. As a reminder, here’s what it looked like before:

"Flashy" before the finishing work in oil

Considering that the subject in this image is the Condor, SF’s oldest gentleman’s club, I guess you could look at the “before” as Flashy with natural ta-tas and the “after” as Flashy with a new and improved rack. And although I suppose some people aren’t fans of implants, I would venture a guess that everyone can agree the final version of this painting is way better.

Chester, however, is not impressed. “The same painting, hmm? What else you got going on there, ladyface?”

"We are not amused."

Well, Chester, I happen to be blocking in two new cityscapes. See?

24" x 30" nightscape in progress

16" x 20" nightscape in progress

“I don’t know, those look pretty crappy so far.”

“I don’t even have 2 hours in on each of these, man. Give me a break here.”

“Hook me up with a treat and I’ll dig up some encouragement for ya.”

“You drive a hard bargain, little one. But I can’t resist your adorable face. Treats it is!”

Stay tuned for more updates; I’ve got some mixed media pieces in the mix, due to be completed as soon as I need a break from the upcoming detail work in the above cityscapes. 😉