Who ART We? Who are you? Who Am I?
You know, when I look back over the years, it seems I have been painting all of my life. I can’t remember many times that I wasn’t constantly planning or painting a work, whether it was for a job or just for me. Not that I always had the time to paint, but I have always had the desire.
Now, I know the majority of you reading this can relate to my statement. We don’t always have the opportunity to do what we love, but I think it is just as important to keep your mind full of fresh ideas and include some “art me time” as much as possible in our daily lives.
Since I was young, I have been very fortunate to have always worked in an art related or creatively stimulating job. Each of them exposed me to different mediums, techniques, people, situations and challenges. And I learned an immense amount at every job. Each job changed who I was and what I know now about art and painting. I evolved into who I am from all of those experiences.
When you work a job that you love, you really want to learn everything there is to know about it. Well, that is the way I am, anyway. Even if you don’t actually do the job full time, it is great to know how to do it, so you can be fully aware of how your job effects the work of others.
I have painted resin collectables for Franklin Mint, worked in a screen print shop that makes decals for furniture, designed and hand painted furniture for several of the big guys, worked in a furniture finishing job, painted custom lamps and shades, designed and hand painted wall murals, house portraits and fine art, painted and retouched custom cabinets, taught art classes to all ages at the Y, painted custom floor cloths, pinstriped cars and hand painted motorcycles and boats, and many other art related jobs that I enjoyed throughout the years.
The fact is, I just want to paint. I was born to paint. I am just at my best and the most happiest, when I am painting, creating, learning, or teaching.
The really great thing about having all of those previous experiences, is in my job at Cheap Joe’s, I have the chance to pass all of that information on to others. Over the phone, in an email, on our website, on our Facebook page, in a letter, through the blog, I am always willing to try to answer any questions that I might arise.
From day to day, there really is no way to know what questions you might be faced with from customers. Sometimes, they are wanting to try a new medium, or material that they have heard about from friends. Other times, they might be in the middle of a project and experienced a problem. And still other customers might just be starting out for the first time all together. Either way, I always hope that I can help them with their questions. Most times I can, but sometimes the question requires research, and usually between the two of us, we at least come up with a direction. I usually learn as much from our customers as they do from me.
As for art materials, the majority of my previous experience has been with acrylics. For the decorative arts field, they really are the most practical and versatile medium there is. They dry fast, resist water, can be used on most surfaces with little prep, can be framed or not, used thinned like watercolor or leave brush marks like oils, and they are very cost effective when you buy the product you need for the job.
In the past, I have used most available brand names, from the really expensive professional brands to the inexpensive craft paints, and there will always be something said about quality. This is where they can actually claim, “You get what you pay for.” The pigment load and binders are usually the highest quality and the most concentrated for professional grade acrylics, giving you brighter, more clear colors. This enables you to use less paint and avoid frustration. Cheaper paints usually have fillers in them to extend the pigment, resulting in a cloudy or matte appearance that you may not desire.
Craft paints are fine for home projects and novelty art. Although, for longevity and value, using professional grade acrylics, like the New American Journey Professional Artists’ Acrylics, will always be your best investment for fine furniture and fine art. It is really up to the artist to determine a project’s worth. Usually, the best way is to ask yourself, how long do you want the viewer to be able to enjoy this artwork at its original quality? Will the quality of the artwork or the use of the project warrant it to be tossed into the yard sale box and eliminated in a few years; or will it be cherished, protected and handed down from generation to generation as a family heirloom. If you want your artwork’s quality to last as long as possible for the latter, you will want to spend as much as you can afford on the materials.
American Journey Artists’ Acrylics are “mill strength” paints giving you quality, value, and everything you are looking for in a professional acrylic paint. “Mill Strength” means they have a unique acrylic polymer emulsion that creates perfect viscosity and dries flexible. Each tube is brimming with pure concentrated pigments mixed with the best acrylic binder, straight from the mill to the tube. They are also free of unnecessary fillers and other agents, such as extending compounds that are usually added to help reduce costs. American Journey Artists’ Acrylics are completely compatible with other brand acrylic paints and mediums and may be thinned and easily cleaned up with water. Available in 60 ml. tubes and select 150 ml. tubes for the best value!
With that being said, the issue of base-coating and finishing your project comes to hand. Usually, with proper surface prep and varnishing, even less than professional quality can last for a very long time. Whereas, not preparing the surface properly or not applying a final varnish, will ultimately cause even the more expensive paint to fade and flake off prematurely.
Wall murals can be a little more challenging in determining what quality of materials will be used. It really will matter where the mural is located, indoors or out, if it is exposed to the elements, if the design will be outgrown quickly (as in a nursery), if a final varnish is desired for finishing (sometimes the matte finish of the paint is more suitable for viewing), and even, if it the decor tastes of the client changes often. Generally, I find using something in between covers all of the bases.
For most wall murals, I prefer JoSonja Artists’ Colors. They offer the opacity of acrylic and the beautiful, velvet matte finish associated with traditional watercolor gouache. And they are water-resistant when dry. The consistency is smooth and creamy and easily mixes with any acrylic product. They have a large color range and the 75ml. tubes are nicely priced from 2.89 to 5.99. I usually like the velvety finish so much that I rarely use a matte varnish although, in high sunlight conditions, this may be required.
SOME THINGS TO PONDER ON:
We are all the same, but completely different.
What we do makes us who we are.
Always keep learning- Books, DVDs, and online or live workshops.
Never be afraid to try something new.
Keep discovering things about yourself- try a new approach to your technique or style.
There are no stupid questions.
You can never know everything.
Love what you do.
Do what you love.
Create your own style.
Look around you.
Don’t give up.
Pass on your experience and knowledge.
Your art is your own.
There is never a wrong way, just your way.
Never miss the opportunity to share your art with another.
I love painting, because it makes people happy. It makes me happy.
Does your art make you happy? I am sure it does.
See, we are all the same, but completely different!
Love yourself for who you are.
Where we have been and who and what we have encountered along the way, determines where we are going, and who we will become tomorrow, it seems.
And through all of this thought and pondering, I have concluded…
“This is who I am today, but not who I will always be and not who I will be tomorrow.” MonaLisa
So, we must always keep moving forward. Keep your eyes on the road ahead and do what makes you happy.
If sharing your art makes you happy, please feel free to share it with all of us on our Facebook Page or post a comment on the blog. We would love to hear about your art and who you art!
Happy “Who Art You?” Day!
And get out there and create!
And be who you art!
*All of the original images used in this article are the property of the artist, and must not be used without permission. Thanks! MonaLisa