Sunday, November 16, 2014

Observations

Gee, I’m kind of impressed with myself.

©2014 Patricia Scarborough   First Hard Freeze 9x12 oil  

It’s been 6 ½ years since I started this blog. Six years and six months, over 300 posts.  Several hair styles, dozens of tubes of pigment, a handful of brushes and at least a million words, some of which even made it to the final posting.

As memory serves, the origins of my writing were begun as a response to an Alyson Stanfield coaching directive: An artist must have a blog. And so I did. How’s that for an inspired beginning?

This weekend a lovely afternoon was spent sifting through the thoughts and fears I’ve shared during my foray into this artist’s life. My ramblings and your kind responses were like leafing through my high school annual. Oh, the way we were!

I find I’m a fair writer, and a middling thinker; not so smart that you can’t follow along, not insipid as to cause you to look away and never come back. You’re reading this after all, aren’t you?

But has it helped me in my studio? After all, that was the point of my leaving the comfort of a steady paycheck. How does sifting ideas from piles of disengaged thoughts make it easier to use paint? What do words collected in cob-webby spaces have to do with images squeezed from paint tubes? Has writing to you made it easier to be me?

Y’know, I think it has.
©2014 Patricia Scarborough  Breaking Skies  30x30 oil
This practice has allowed me to take all of the study, the painting, the exhibiting, reading, practicing, success, failure, triumph and dismal disappointment, one week at a time. It’s been easier – not easy, but easier – to identify the frustrations and ironies and hilarities and loneliness and grand celebrations of a creative life by separating myself from them with a certain detached observation for the benefit of the blog. Reading through them now allows an older, more certain me to reconnect more sweetly with those realities.

Who’d a thunk? I’m not writing for you, I’m writing for me.

To prove I can. To show I don’t have to. For the challenge. For the pleasure. For clarity. To reveal – or to veil - a truth.

To accept that I'm impressed with myself, ever so politely. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cut!


There are days I just never know who will show up on my doorstep.

Bill, one time quarterback for OutWest High School, and Pulitzer prize winning photographer.

This past week I had the great pleasure of sharing a 2 hour conversation with Laura Heald and Bill Frakes of Straw Hat Visuals - a Southern Media Company. (Take a moment to look at their site. It's awesome.)

Laura, rising star in multi media productions.  (PS, Laura, my husband said after seeing you in this photo he'd have made an effort to stop by to say hellow.)

I met them through Amy Sandeen, Executive Director of Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor and Agricultural Learning in Hastings, Ne., herself an expert photographer and all around delightful human being.

Amy, in an executive pose.

 Bill and Laura are in Nebraska working on, among several things, a piece called “Makers”, a film which will focus on creative types who do their work outside the framework of The Big City.

What an honor to be thought of in this context. They brought in lights and cameras - action!

Dozens of hours and  thousands of precious brain cells have been worn out honing my artist’s statements over the years. Mountain ranges could be made out of the piles of paper I have used up in the quest for just the right words.  It's my job to explain what, why and how I paint. 
©2014 Patricia Scarborough  Blue River Reclamation  22x28 oil

So wouldn't you have thought that when Bill said in a very sweet, soft voice, “talk about why you paint Nebraska landscapes”, I would have been ready? Wasn't this the moment I'd been waiting for? 

Maybe I was distracted by the fact that he asked me to sit in a chair with wheels - and not wiggle. Or tilt my face so my glasses would not catch the light. Or that I really wanted to impress Amy so she would be glad she chose me for this opportunity, or that Laura was holding something called a Dead Cat just out of sight of the camera. Or that the camera itself was staring back at me, waiting…
©2014 Patricia Scarborough as yet untitled 6x6-inch oil  
Why do I paint Nebraska landscapes? Because I can't see Kansas from here?  I desperately searched the empty spaces of my skull for the well thought out, intelligent discourse I knew was hiding in there, just behind … around the corner … somewhere. Dang.

I should have asked them to go for a walk with me. I have brilliant ideas when I’m walking alone with no one to distract me. In fact just this morning I thought up some pretty amazing things. Some day I'm going to bring a recorder to prove it.

Honestly, I have no idea what eventually came out my mouth. Amy very sweetly said they had gotten a few good sound bites.  A sound bite. Not a meaty mouthful, just a bite; a little bitty nugget that’s easy to swallow before you even know it’s been chewed; a teeny tiny glued together run of words strung like  fake pearls, slightly mismatched - but if you keep the lights down low nobody will notice.
©2014 Patricia Scarborough Meditation 6x6-inch oil
What I would have said if my brain were engaged is, "Well, Bill,  I respond to shapes, intervals and light as they describe the forms in the landscape . I love watching the way the land drifts away to the horizon. To lay globs of paint on a canvas in a way that imitates all that, and tricks the eye into believing that a flat surface carries miles and miles of land and sky is a privilege and a delight. That the communication that happens between my art and the viewer, the  ideas and shared experiences that transcend words is an almost holy event."

So, Bill and Laura, if you’re reading this, give me a call. I would be happy to read this for you over the phone. Maybe you could dub it in. Or come back and we'll go for a walk. 'Cause I'm pretty smart when I'm by myself.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Small and Mighty

Tis the season...

and since everything I have written today sounds like bad copy for a strip mall luring frazzled customers into their holiday sales events, let me just say that I'll be participating in two seasonal exhibits again this year.

The Lux Center for the Arts Wrappable event will open their holiday extravaganza on November 1st with dozens of wonderful artists who have created some very cool work at a variety of price ranges.

The Museum of Nebraska Art will open their 25th year of A Kaleidoscope of Art on November 1st & 2nd.

I'll be offering small, very lovely paintings at each venue so that you can prove to your special someones that you are indeed a very classy person.

A sampling to wet your whistle -

©2014 Patricia Scarborough First Star 6x8" oil

©2014 Patricia Scarborough Great Plains 6x8" oil

©2014 Patricia Scarborough Homestead  6x8" oil

©2014 Patricia Scarborough Loup River Valley 6x8" oil

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Your Path to Success



We’ve all seen these television and movie scenes: someone is running for their lives, usually through uncertain terrain filled with humps and dips, trees, and vines that grasp and trap the victim.  Each and every time, the poor person running running running looks back every 10 or fifteen steps to see if the villain is gaining on them. 


2014 Patricia Scarborough 6x8 oil  Success? Yes! A substantial amount was raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation when this little jewel was auctioned off.

Man, if someone were chasing me, my face would be pointing toward the distant horizon, followed by my pumping fists and pounding feet. No way would I risk bouncing off a tree because I was looking around for someone else while charging forward at 35 mph. (Okay, maybe 10 – no, 5 mph. I’m out of shape.)

Lately I have been part of a running discussion about the idea of success. (Hang with me, this will all come together in a minute.) I call it a discussion, although at times it sounds like something else; carping, grousing, questioning our choices, wondering when success will land upon us like fairy dust or white bits in a snow globe.

It’s an issue with artists because success is a very nebulous goal.  What are we talking about here? Is success defined as popularity? Sales? Juried Exhibitions? Accolades? We want it, but how do we know when we’ve got it? And how to keep it once we think we've got it?

Handsome Husband offered a song he’d heard recently as I bounced success ideas off him. “The Climb”, written by Jessi Alexander, is a 2009 sung by Miley Cyrus, back in the day when she wore clothes. Poke this link to read the lyrics .

2014 Patricia Scarborough 6x8 oil  Sand Hills Hike

According to the song, success is about the effort, desire, keeping at whatever it is you’re doing regardless of what others think. Success is doing what your heart needs you to do. It is not running pell-mell in any direction while looking backwards to see if anyone is paying attention.

More definitions from fully clothed grownups: Winston Churchill, a grown up if there ever was one: "Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

Stephen Covey: "If you carefully consider what you want to be said of you in the funeral experience, "you will find your definition of success."  

So what, dear ones, have we accomplished here?  HH just this very moment said, “I look back at what I was doing a year ago, and often I wonder what the heck I was doing.  And that’s a good thing. I can see how much I’ve grown and learned.” He deserves his own Wikipedia page.

Friends, in this humble artist’s opinion, success is not about achieving a sale, a deal, gallery representation or award. It’s about negotiating the path set before us. Walking, running, hopping or skipping that path without worrying about who is behind us, beside us or ahead of us. Which means there is no "getting", since being on a path implies movement, a journey or an evolution. 

2014 Patricia Scarborough  Success? Not quite yet, but I'm close.
There is no arrival. Success is keeping our faces forward to see where we’re headed, and then moving in that direction.