3.05.2015

Steal Like an Artist (I Even Stole this Title)

Are you still trying to FIND YOUR VOICE AS AN ARTIST? Maybe you've even joined THE{100} ARTWORK CHALLENGE?  But you are stuck. There are so many great artists out there, how can you compete? Where in the world will you ever come up with an original idea? 

By now you must have heard that nothing under the sun is new. We take from what we know, have seen and heard, and all that has seeped into our subconscious and turn it into what we call “original.” We creative types especially suffer from stealing from one another without even realizing it. I don’t think I have said anything new in the nine years I have been writing blog posts. In fact, I may have begun to repeat myself. But I know one thing: whatever I have managed to soak in and spit back out, I’m doing it on my own terms and in my own voice with the intent to connect with you and hopefully share a little bit of something wonderful about life in the process.
Also, I’ll admit, I’m stealing a bit from the “Original Thief,” Austin Kleon, who wrote the book Steal Like an Artist. It’s simple, but powerful enough to help anyone make their next creative step. Come to think of it, this isn't the first time I have “stolen” from him. Remember when I wrote THIS blog post when I decided I would just “fake it until I make it?” Yep, saw it first in Austin’s book. Also, of the ten ways shared in the book about being creative, I would like to point out number two: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.” I’d probably die waiting, so I am grateful for this reminder. It's a great book and I think you should pick up a copy for yourself so you can get going on following your dreams already! 


Ok, go out a steal something today, but make it your own. And then share your creations with others. Now let's get to work!

Enjoy the journey!
Kellee




2.25.2015

The 100 Artworks Challenge

Are you going to keep dreaming about being an artist or are you going to do something about it? The only way to be an artist is to make art. Lots of it. Maybe you have, or maybe you need to start, either way it’s time to do the work and let your voice be heard. I just wrote THIS post where we talked about finding your voice as an artist and I said “Paint 100 Paintings!” Some of you heard the call and are ready to take action so I am starting an official challenge. We begin March 15th.
Will you join me?

Here’s the Challenge: Create 100 small works of art at a pace you feel comfortable. Share them with the world. Watch yourself grow. Feel good.
That’s all this is really about. So, let’s start small, under 8 inches. Maybe on paper, keep it easy. Use your favorite supplies or try something new. Paint or draw something you’re familiar with or stretch yourself with something new...the only requirement is to repeat the same parameters for the whole 100 artworks so you can see development and change in yourself as an artist through working out one idea in a series.

Are you struggling to find ideas? Or need some inspiration to begin. I made this PINTEREST board to help us get started!
Try to work every day or at least several times a week and then share the work through social media, a blog or with your best friend in private, but share your work. And ask for feedback. And if you really feel like you're on fire, offer your work for sale. But don't quit until the work is done!


Start with an idea and build a series with the 100 Artworks Challenge at artistwriterdreamer.com with Kellee Wynne Conrad

I'm going to help YOU!


First! Sign up for my "Creative Launch for Artists" 
and get more great tips in your inbox!

Creative Launch for Artists

Next, I’d love to feature your work and progress here on the blog. Let me know in the comments that you accept the challenge. Show your progress and I will share what other “100” artists are doing right here in a future post!
AND...I've begun a private group, The {100} Artists, on Facebook to help share progress and get feedback from a group setting. Please make a request to join in the fun and I will add you as a {100} Artist!


“Everybody I know who does interesting, creative work they went through years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn't as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. Everybody goes through that.
And if you are just starting out or if you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions.” Ira Glass of This American Life

2.22.2015

Dear Blog, Why I Need to Write Regularly


I am sorry I abandoned you last year. I thought I needed a break, but it turns out I needed you more. You see, in your absence, I didn't take time to get things done, I didn't focus more on other priorities, and I certainly didn't discover the meaning of life. No, without you I just got lazy and lost my way. I thought about you sitting here waiting patiently and still working hard to get my message out to the world wide web without me, but with no new content you were becoming old news really fast. And I was becoming just another girl with no direction.
Here I am to confess to you that I need you. When you are on my mind, I know I think consciously about my life and what message I am sending about its purpose.  When I have to confess my intent every week, I make a better effort to live life with meaning. When I share my passion about life right here, it increases happiness in my life tenfold and quite quickly an average life becomes a more vibrant and extraordinary life! So, my dear blog, it seems as if I need you more than I thought and if for no other reason, just to be a better person.
I am going to keep you on my schedule of important things to do and we will work out what direction we are going along the way. If I wait until the inspiration strikes, then we might be waiting a very long time. But If I just share with you where I am right now, we can simply take this journey together. We can do it; me, you, and a couple of dedicated readers…
Thank you for understanding, thank you for having my back when I need you the most, thank you for giving me a chance to share what’s on my mind.
Sincerely,
Kellee Wynne Conrad (artist, writer, dreamer, positive thinker)

2.16.2015

Artist Q&A: How to Find Your Voice as an Artist


***edit 3/2/2015*** The idea of doing 100 works of was so popular that I've created a new #100artworkschallenge and Facebook group. You can find out more in THIS post.

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I am excited to continue this series with a question every artist asks herself. And one you that will be asking yourself a million times more...

Question from a reader:
I love this idea! My question would be How do you find your voice as an artist? Any exercises, books, etc., that you'd recommend?


Who am I as an artist? Finding the answer to this is the secret every artists wants to figure out. After reading all kinds of books, spending a lot of time online and grilling all of my artist friends, I have come to only one conclusion. *You must do the work.* Only time spent creating will help you reveal the mystery. And this is one that will keep unfolding your whole art career. I am still asking myself who am I as an artist and I suspect in twenty years I will still be asking myself the same question.


But, I have to start somewhere! Chances are that you didn’t just wake up one day and decide to be an artist. Being an artist is truly a calling and I suspect an interest has long since sparked in you and has been growing. You’ve probably already started down the path and have a general idea of what you want to do. What is is? Do you have a favorite subject, color palette, choice in materials? You may have a long list of ideas or directions you could possibly take off in, but start by picking just *one* thing. Now it’s time to FOCUS and challenge yourself.


OK, how do I challenge myself? Paint 100 paintings. Yep, this is where I would begin. Actually, this is where I DID begin. After taking a long break (like 12 years) from painting, I knew the only way to grow and learn again was regular practice and I wasn’t going to accomplish this without challenging myself. At first I started small and drew every night for 29 days. Then I did a countdown to spring painting flowers in watercolor. Eventually I worked up to a longer series called 100 Little Memories. If you give yourself some parameters and specific goals for the challenge, you will really learn a lot about yourself as an artist and what you are capable of doing.





  1. Choose your medium. Maybe you already know you want to be a watercolorist or an oil painter. Or maybe you just are not sure what will suit you, but to start, pick one medium for this project.
  2. Pick a subject or style to tie the challenge together. You could paint all landscapes in soft pastel like I did. You could choose a limited color palette and work on still life. You could get very specific and work solely in collage on paper creating fantastical creatures. But whatever you do, pick one of your interests that excites you enough to stick with it for 100 paintings.
  3. Choose a size. Let’s be realistic, you don’t have to eat the whole whale all at once. It might just be best to go smaller, something under 12 inches. But this is your project, follow your instincts about what you need to learn.
  4. Set a deadline. Maybe you have the ability to finish 100 paintings in 100 days, or maybe you need a year. What ever you do make sure you are setting aside time every week to paint. No point in rushing through at the end. This is about really growing your skills and your vision and it takes dedicated time.
  5. Ask for help from a mentor. This might be the hardest part, but there is no point in doing something 100 times if you are not growing and improving as you go and you must get feed back if that is going to happen. Join a group, ask a friend, find a community online if you must, but you must show your work to someone and learn how to improve on what you are already doing.
  6. Repeat. Still not sure if you are developing your vision as an artist? Start at step one and begin again. Eventually a pattern will present itself and your true self will come through.


So, How do I know I have found my voice as an artist? Only you will know if you are on the right path. Does it feel right? Are you excited about what you are doing? Does one idea lead you to the next? When you look at your work does it look like a fairly cohesive collection that says, “Yes I am the artist of this work!” And as soon as you as comfortable with what you are doing, challenge yourself again! If you want to find your voice as an artist *you must do the work*.

Kellee Wynne Conrad - the beginning of a new series.

And now I must do the work. I'm on step #6, Repeat. You can count on a new series of 100 coming from me soon!

*Final Disclaimer*
As with everything in art, once you've learned the rules, you can throw them all out. Do you have to do the same thing for 100 paintings? Do they have to all be of the same medium and size? Do you even have to do a whole 100 works of art? Only you can decide what works for you, but if you are going to run a marathon, you should start somewhere...and I think if you do the work you'll see the results. Go for wild ideas and enjoy the process!

Do you have a question for me? Leave a comment and your question may be featured in a future Q&A. Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey!
Kellee




“Don't wait until you know who you are to get started. If I'd waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started "being creative," well, I'd be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are. You're ready. Start making stuff.”


For more inspiration that can guide you in finding your voice here are a few recommendations:







The Abundant Artist


Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days

2.11.2015

THRIVE Artist-in-Residence at Jordan Faye Contemporary

Studio Space of Kellee Wynne Conrad at Jordan Faye Contemporary Thrive Residency Program 2015


There is magic. And new ideas. And a renewed excitement about creating and sharing. I am doing something I have never done before.

For the first time in my art career I have a studio outside my home. After seeing the newly created space at the Jordan Faye Contemporary gallery in Baltimore, I knew I belonged on the 5th floor painting next to those large, bright windows and soaking up the energy of many talented artists. I applied for and was accepted as the first inaugural resident in the THRIVE residency program and I have the honor of creating, sharing, learning and growing in this very magical place for the next several months. It will culminate with a large show in August of the work I've created in the time I've been here.


I am excited to have you join me on this journey. Follow along as all the pieces of being an artist-in-residence unfold in this new story and bit by bit I will share the inside journey of the life of an artist.


Now let's get painting!

Kellee





2.08.2015

Artist Q&A: Art Supplies for Acrylic Painters




In this new series I am getting to the heart of what every aspiring artists wants to know. You have asked the questions and now I'm going to do the best I can to answer them for you. This first question seems like a logical place to begin!

Question from reader:
"What do you recommend for a beginner painter....brands, basic supplies etc. Also, what one art supply item could you NOT live without?"


Your first step is to decide what medium you want to use: watercolor, oil paint, acrylic, etc. For the sake of simplicity I am going to share with you my list of favorite acrylic supplies. So, what do I use? I love Golden acrylic paints. I work fast and in thin layers, so usually I turn to Golden Fluid the most. I often follow up with Golden Heavy Body for details or texture. All of these paints have a very high pigment load and can resist fading over time, an important thing if you want your painting to last.


MY FAVORITE SUPPLIES (the short,short list):
Golden Acrylic Paints
Princeton Catalyst Brushes
Michael's gallery wrapped canvases (with an extra coat of Liquitex gesso).

MY FAVORITE COLORS (including but not limited to!):

Hansa Yellow Light, Indian Yellow Hue, Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Pyrrole Red, Permanent Violet Dark, Quinacridone Magenta, Green Gold, Phthalo Green (blue shade),Turquoise, Prussian Blue, Titan Buff, Van Dyke Brown



Golden Fluid Acrylic Paint

Blick Artists' Acrylic Paint

PAINT
It’s really tempting when you are just beginning an artistic path to buy inexpensive or student grade paints and supplies. You might think that because you are new at this, inexperienced, or unsure of your skills that you should start out with the cheapest set of paint available. STOP. If your intention is to continue to learn and grow as an artist, then buy the best you can afford, no excuses. Yep, go for the good stuff first and you’ll be much happier.


Why? Because you will paint better. Seriously? Professional grade paints are formulated with a higher pigment load. That means that the amount of color added is a higher density and quality. In fact, you will probably find that you need less paint because a little bit will cover more space and you’ll struggle less to create the painting you set out to accomplish.

The usual recommended Colors to Start with:
Pyrrole or Cadmium Red Medium
Hansa or Cadmium Yellow Light
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Green
Raw Umber
Titanium White
Bone Black

*Note: avoid buying Michael’s brand “Artist Loft” for all paints...every single one I have tried, watercolor, oil, acrylic, pastels, have been worse than inferior. I wouldn't give them to preschoolers. I love the canvases and brushes, but the paint just won’t do.



Princeton Catalyst Polytip Brushes



BRUSHES
Brushes are a matter of trial and error. For acrylic I suggest synthetic bristles and a long handle. I chose Princeton Catalyst brushes because they are a bit stiffer and can hold up to the vigorous wear I put them under. Generally speaking, a better brush will last longer. If you are picking them out in person look to see if the ferrule is secure. That is the metal part clamped onto the wood handle. And look to see if the hairs of the brush are still straight and even. You will have to decide if you want a stiff or a soft brush, square or round, small or large...all through experiment and play.



Artist Loft gallery Wrapped Canvas
Blick Studio gallery Wrapped Canvas


SURFACE
Ready made canvases are the best option because they are durable and have come down significantly in price over the years. I prefer thick gallery wrapped canvas because I can paint the sides and hang my work without a frame. I watch for mega sales at Michael’s and buy as much as I can fit in my van. Buying online is a good option as well, but there are surcharges if you ever want an extra large sized canvas. No matter where I get my canvas, I always give the canvas an extra coat of gesso before I begin my painting. Cheap gesso is thick and clumpy and defeats the purpose of a smooth surface. You can also gesso high quality watercolor paper as another option for a painting surface. Just remember that usually paper must be framed and that is another added cost.

Golden Matte Medium


MEDIUMS
There are so many mediums you can mix into your paints to make glazes, new textures or keep it wet longer. You really only need water to start with for washing and occasionally thinning out your paint. Be careful how much water you add because it weakens the paint and over time the paint would be more likely to crack, especially for the thicker layers. I like to use a liquid gloss or matte medium to add to my paint when I want to thin or extend the coverage of my paint. And when the work is done and completely dry, I like to put a final varnish to protect the paint from the sun and dirt and just give it a really finished look.


Shop online at Dick Blick for great deals!



Use coupons to stock up at Michael's



HOW TO BUY LIKE A PRO
Where to get all these expensive supplies and not break the bank? One option is to go for the mega sales at Michael’s. Watch their coupons and buy supplies a little at a time until you have what you need. They sell Golden Paint, and they have Liquitex Heavy Body, which can be good as well, just less smooth. Another great option is to shop www.dickblick.com. The paint is always on sale, they carry my favorite brushes...and, if you want to go with a middle price, high quality paint, their own store brand (professional line, not student!) has a very good reputation.

*FINAL DISCLAIMER*
As with anything in art, once you've learned the rules, you can throw them all out! Can you paint with house paint? What about drawing with coffee stain? Can you paint on found wood? Or an old book? What if you add beach sand to wet paint or glue in an old train ticket? What if you really like cheap student paint?

The answer then becomes YES once again! Know your material then experiment. If you are going to use non-conventional materials, learn how to make sure they are properly sealed and varnished to protect them and ensure they will last through your lifetime. Go for wild ideas and enjoy the process!

Do you have a question for me? Leave a comment and your question may be featured in a future Q&A. Thank you!

Enjoy the Journey!
Kellee




2.05.2015

Make More Art

Kellee Wynne Conrad in her Baltimore Studio/Jordan Faye Contemporary Thrive Residency Feb 2015

My hands are dirty. My heart is full. I've been busy, busy, busy. I've painted up a bunch of new stuff….but the work has just begun. A dozen or so paintings do not make a body of work. A few gallery shows does not make me a star. A few sales now and then do not make me a success. A a couple of accolades does not mean I can call myself a master of anything except taking a risk and even then, it is a small risk for the small steps I have taken. The work has just begun.

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done.
Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad,
whether they love it or hate it.
While they are deciding,
make even more art.” –Andy Warhol

I love this quote by Andy Warhol. Make more art. I've been told that I need to make a hundred paintings and then I might start to understand how to paint. A thousand more and it will really sink in. And it’s more important than ever to ignore what other people are saying and just keep painting. Just keep singing, writing, designing, making and doing what you love, and don’t stop for anything because there is a place for everyone in the creative world.

And I am still just beginning. I am excited and nervous. But I can’t stop now. Each step forward propels me on to the next, and on I go. Every week that I create something new is the best week ever. Every opportunity that unfolds before me tells me, I know I’m going in the right direction. A hundred paintings, a thousand more? The work has just begun.