Sunday, February 10, 2013

What does it take to achieve “Star Power?”

I have taken the “Artist’s Magazine” for several years. Each issue is treasured; read and revered. My stack of magazines has grown into a sizable pile. The time has come to box them and put them away, at least for awhile.

My husband said: “You should pitch them. You’ll never read them again.”

“I can’t,” I told him. "They’re valuable! I’ll give them away to another artist or art organization before I throw them away.” And I meant what I said.

These magazines have inspired me, taught me, and given me hope. They’re like old friends. I shall miss them; but, never fear, I’m still a subscriber. I just have to make way for the new.

I confess, I held a few issues back, the ones that focused on portraits; my first love. I also found a few issues in my art room that are currently being used for guidance as I add some special effects to a new painting. I swear half of my art education has come from the pages of art magazines. I read each issue cover to cover when it arrives, and then earmark the places I want to re-read.

I’ve also checked out countless art books from the Public Library. Often renewing them again, or taking them out at different times as needed until I have gleaned enough knowledge to master a skill or an area of unfamiliarity.

I’ve discovered that a teacher can only teach what he or she already knows. Sometimes what you learn in art classes is how to paint using someone else’s preference or style. Granted there are universal rules and truths that govern the practice of art in general. A good teacher will include these in every teaching session. 

These “tricks of the trade” may also be learned through self study. Don’t shrug off self-instruction as a waste of time. This procedure, this process can be equally as valuable as live instruction. We can learn from others mistakes, take advantage of the marketing skills and the observations that professionals have already experienced without ever leaving home.

I’ve entered a few contests in my time; won a few and lost many. My dream: to show up on the pages of Art Magazine. It’s a long shot, I know. What does it take? One of the judges explained it this way:

“After reviewing thousands of flowers, landscapes, pastoral scenes, and seascapes they all begin to look alike. Anything that stands out at all or that is unusual or unique grabs my attention.”

“It isn’t just being an odd-ball that draws the attention of the judges, but that certain something called Star Power.”

"India Rising -- The Lost" 24 x 18 mixed media on canvas
 I’ve never forgotten her statement. Star power is like the frosting on a cake, the sizzle on a steak, or the sparkle in the eyes of someone who loves you. You’ll know it when you see it, and there’s nothing like it.

Don’t give up until you find what makes your style and your message stand out above the rest. Success is not a destination, it’s a journey of a thousand miles, hundreds of canvases, and hours of painstaking labor.

"India Rising -- The Found" 18 x 24 mixed media on canvas