Monday, August 10, 2015

My Debut Solo Show: who knew?... How I got here.

I'm celebrating my Debut Solo Exhibition of my work this summer.  Forthy -two pieces: this has taken just a little planning to get here...and I want to share with you how I did it.   

This could take a while to bring you up to I'm going to break this down into a few posts. 
The first is... ya dah!...
 The Beginning:

You may remember, if you've read any of my blog posts or have seen my website, how I got started painting in watercolour.  So, this short story (uh, not so short as it turns out) will begin after the initial years of learning and practice.  Not that the practice ever ceases; everyday, I do my best to perform my craft like a job, in order for me to get there from here.

It all started several years ago, about 2008, if I had to guess; that was the time when I had begun to take myself seriously as an Artist. When I say seriously, I mean that I had decided to work toward the goal. A dream, and why not? I was recovering from ill health and watercolour became my elixir.  So, I used it as an opportunity to help change my circumstance.

My first lesson: Listen to my instructor!  Leslie Redhead MEd, NWWS, AFCA, CSPWC; an excellent Artist and Instructor; and my mentor, by the way... she taught me...If I paint or draw something each day I would reach my goal.  It was not going to come without work.  That 'ol 10,000 hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in Outliers is sooo true.  

I would and still do, take photos, organize them, crop and create compositions from which to work; I set up vignettes, light them, photograph them before printing them and finally painting the image.  That wasn't much or was it?  

Oh, but then comes the process of archiving the piece for provenance.  That seems to me like a whole job on its own.  There is so much... the marketing, social media, all of it.  In the beginning we do everything ourselves, and it can become overwhelming and exhausting.  So with everything there is to do...each day I pick something and get on with the task of reaching my goal of becoming a professional Artist.   

My friend Belinda Parke tells me all the time "You need an assistant."  Soon enough,  I will have an assistant. Trust me.  It will happen.  "E-ven-tu-al-ly!" At least that's what I keep telling myself.

One more note on the things I do each day. Looking at the big picture: this usually results in being overwhelmed and thinking "What was I thinking?" So, I try not to fall into the old trap of self-criticism, that is to say, if I fall short, I have a mantra, "it is just a smaller goal toward the bigger goal", and when I fall short as I sometimes do...I try not to sweat it.  " When it is so overwhelming and fear sets mantra has become "Faith is stronger than fear!". and then I simply try again the next day.  So, my take home message is..."dunt-ta-da-daaa... drum roll please"... be good to yourself, and consume bite size pieces only. 

Wow, did I digress...but it needed to be said.

Meanwhile, back onto the journey...

It didn't take long before I signed up to become a member of two local art clubs: the FCA, on the recommendation of my instructor Leslie, and SPAC on the recommendation of my framer at the time.  Within a few months, I found myself involved with each of the Boards of these groups.  This enabled me to make new friends, network, learn, and enter shows in a supportive atmosphere among people I knew.  Networking with other Artists is important right from the beginning. 
Community Arts Counsil of Saanich Peninsula

Art organizations generally meet at least monthly for about 10 months of the year.  I try to stay current, but again, I cannot do it all, all the time.  So, I pick and choose where a meeting may fit into the busy schedule I have created to get the job done.

Working my way through the maze of adjudicated exhibitions is another step toward becoming a professional artist.  This process can be very rewarding, and you can learn a great deal about yourself in this process as well.  However, the fear of rejection has often held me back, putting myself and my work out there for others to judge? Never would I have guessed that I could. 

I've learned how to accept rejection gracefully and not take it personally.  I have heard so many stories from some great artists that tell of sending their image off to be juried in one show, only to have it rejected; then send it off to another and win 1st place. There is a lot to the process; and at the end of the day, it is subjective.  Even if done correctly, it can still be technical, time consuming, frustrating, and scary,  so what you can, ask for help when needed, and repeat my mantra..."Faith is stronger than fear!"  It will happen.

A Wet Christmas, Oak Bay 22x28
Having my work judged and accepted into some of the finest shows in Canada and the US by renowned Artists/Jurors makes me feel lighter than air.  I really feel surreal and I float along with the knowledge that I'm doing some things right; it really lifts me and carries me along to the next challenge.  Disappointments have occurred and will continue along the way, but many successful Artists tell me, and I now believe it, "don't worry about the rejections, there will always be someone who doesn't like your work, but do not give up."

And again, I digress..and again it had to be said...yes all that just to get to the studio...jeesh.

Back in my studio: These days, I take a few minutes, at the end of my painting time each day  to set up what I will work on for the next time.  This way, when I do arrive in the studio, I am motivated to do what I set out for myself, rather than thinking about what I could do and worrying and procrastinating about what I may do. 

Because I deal with chronic pain and occasionally depression. I awake each morning, and assess my situation.  After coffee, stretches and walking the dog, I will sometimes spend time in my home, doing as much of the domestic chores inside and out as I am able to do.  You know what I mean, doing all the things that are necessary to maintain one's sanity.  After some nourishment and a rest I head downstairs to my studio space, post my hours on the door for that day, and close the door so there are no distractions  and I paint, paint, and paint.

Keep your brush wet.   

PS Sorry for being so verbose today; hopefully you get the message.
Next post: Creating a Body of Work

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Another Amazing Watercolour Workshop Opportunity

 James Toogood AWS, NWS

November 6-9, 2015

This is a workshop not to be missed.

How many times have we seen watercolour landscapes that are overworked, and muddy?  Clouds without dimension, trees painted with just one green, water that has been worked and reworked trying to get that transparent look, only to end up with mud.  Well, here's your chance to learn to paint these techniques for creating picturesque landscapes and seascapes.

James Toogood AWS, NWS will be here November 6-9, 2015 at the Saanich Fairgrounds, in beautiful Central Saanich BC; and teaching us everything he can in this 4-day workshop extravaganza.

All levels are welcome, and no one will be left behind.

You will work from your own photos.  Once you have registered a curriculum and supply list will be forwarded to you.  Register today at

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A long time comin'...A story of perseverance and achievement

In September 2007, Watercolour was introduced to me in the form of medicine. Yes, medicine. It was like a tranquilizer, a way to take my mind off my failing health.  It was a God send really, and I thank God for putting it and Leslie Redhead in my path; and from the bottom of my heart, I thank Leslie Redhead, my friend and  mentor who has encouraged me and guided me thus far.

I had no idea that I was about to embark on a new career.  After being off work for a period of time, I knew I wanted a change, but it wasn't "Art".  I was no artist, in fact, I almost gave it all up, 8 months into my weekly 2 hour class with Leslie, I was frustrated, and felt there was nothing I could do to improve on my dabblings. 
"Sartatoga Beach"  painted 2008.

I had no idea what the change would be or how it would manifest itself.  And yet, painting was the only thing I could concentrate on.  It allowed me to pass the days, time fleeting, as I was lost in the challenge of creating and learning about this life saving medium.

I was assured by Leslie and others that hard work and commitment was the only thing that would put me on the path.  Deep down I knew that, and yet, was I ready?  I decided yes, and yet there were days I struggled to find it within me to paint.  Still to this day I have periods of agonizing pain, no energy; depression and anxiety overwhelm me at times; and there are weeks that I do not lift a brush.   So, I paint when I can, pacing myself, and hope that each day brings a brighter light to lift my spirits and my brush.

That is why, I feel so blessed to have my second set of initials.  The first, was with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, in 2012, only 5 years after I started painting. The hurtles were high, yet I still wanted to present my work. I think I did this blindly; something told me it was right, and to go for it.  I did it, and I was so grateful for the achievement and even more so, for the courage to do it.

This second set with the Federation of Canadian Artists was more elusive.  I tried in 2012, 2013 and this last time, in 2014.  Looking back at my previous applications compared to this years'; This one was much stronger.  I realize that now.  As I look back, I wanted it, but, I really had not put the time in. 

Some people may have given up, and why I didn't is a mystery to me; I have allowed fear to hold me back so much in my past...except this time, I applied myself as best I could, and my mantras these days are "I can do it" and "Faith is stronger than fear".  So after my second attempt and failure, I spent the last year, putting my best foot forward, completing a body of work of which I am proud. 

I recall these words as well that my husband spouts all the time at home, words by the late Stephen Hawking, "failure is not the problem, not setting your goals high enough is the problem."

In late 2013, and 2014, I set out to get my works into shows I would never have considered previously.  I received three awards in that time, all honourable mentions, and I am proud of each one.  The caliber of works presented in each of the exhibits in which these honours were awarded, was outstanding.  I put these artists high on pedestals, as they are masterful in this medium.   Being granted an award among them; I was truly grateful and simply awestruck.

"Tea & Tears"; Honourable Mention; 2014 Sidney Fine Arts Show; Sidney, BC
Upon receiving my second big achievement, AFCA, from among a majority of the FCA's elite Board of Governors, I had written a few words of thanks on Facebook. This blog post was simply to tell my story of perseverance and achievement. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Tea & Tears

It has been a few months since I've posted I'm back on the band wagon...getting things updated on-line. 

Last fall, I was accepted into the 2014 Sidney Fine Art Show with 2 of my pieces.  The first was a piece that had been exhibited in Vancouver, and Seattle in 2014.  This piece I called "Aqua Vit".
Watercolour painting Aqua Vit by Sam L Boehner
"Aqua Vit"
The second was a piece I called "Tea & Tears" inspired by a note from my Mom. I have included an image of me next to the piece at the 2014 show.

Sam L Boehner with "Tea & Tears"
Acceptance into this show is an honour for me.  There are so many acclaimed artists with credentials as long as your arm accepted into this show. So to be among them is indeed an honour.  To top this off, I was the recipient of an "Honourable Mention".