Pink Rhododendran

Pink Rhododendran

Its North Coast Open Studio Tour time.   Artists from all over Humboldt County open their studios during this annual event held the first few weekends of June.    My studio will be open the first weekend, June 5 &6 from 11 am to 5pm.  If you are in the area and would like to see newly released original pastels, as well as oils, prints and  the ability to purchase work straight from the studio wall please come by.   Refreshments served.   For further information visit    North Coast Open Studios .

Hope to see you here!

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Why I Paint What I Paint

Red Shutters

"Red Shutters" 19x25 Pastel

Water Tower Mid Day

"Water Tower at Mid Day" 23x31" Pastel

The question of what a painter chooses as subject matter can sometimes be compared to an author.  The best writing tends to come from what you know.   I’ve been concentrating on landscapes for years more on than off and as my surroundings have changed so has my focus and direction.   I started painting in Southern California and my early work  dealt with that light and color sense.   I also lived in the suburbs so I found inspiration in suburban architecture.   Living in the Bay Area of California opened me up to the carved and othewise altered landscape of vineyards and farmland which for me was like stepping to an abundant waterfall of inspiration.   Living in Humboldt County for the past 8 years has  opened me up to a different sense of light, mood and terrain.   I love the muse my area provides yet I still am drawn to the geometry and colors of the vineyards that pepper the landscape from California into Oregon.   This is my visual playground and with my road trips and ever burgeoning photo library I have a plethora of imagery that continues to call me.    While I am usually excited about a recent expedition to go into the studio to explore I return often to trips and images from my past and revisit them in the studio.   There are many times I do not know what I am going to be painting on a particular day.   I visit my Iphoto libarary and a sequence of images will speak to me visually and I am on my way.

Here are some recent paintings.  I have been hooked on rural architecture for months now, segueing back into vineyards.  Other new pastels are posted in the Pastel Library and under Rural Architecture.

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A Bit About Art Coaching

In addition to being a full time artist, wife and mom and other self induced labels,  I also have been a marketing coach to artists for years.   Locally I am a consultant to the Humboldt Del Norte Small Business Development Center. Its a great little gig…I get to meet with artists at various stages of their careers and help them launch further.     Its interesting because I’ve found that it has as much to do with coaching as consulting.   Artists sometimes need to know they are as ready and worthy as they think they are.   Sometimes they need guidance and a little remedial training before putting out a full scale effort.     Whatever the case may be I truly love watching these artists succeed.    In addition to the marketing advice (that is also available in site) I am their hand holder, mother, guide, cheerleader.   I am truly inspired by these artists and their willingness to try at all cost to make their livelihoods creating art and for the most part I’ve been duly impressed by their work.

When I was just getting out of college in 1982 my expectations were low but I put my work in juried shows and had some beginners luck in establishing myself in the corporate collector market.  I parlayed that into further gallery exposure combined with teaching for a while.   In the late 1990’s the internet opened everything up and access to information was like a gift from the universe.   No more going to the museum bookstore to purchase the latest book on art marketing.   I was in heaven and completely overhauled my business plan.    I was about as happy as a parent maintaining a career could be until this bloodbath of a recession blew across the planet.  Though it has been rumbling for a while I’d say that for most it hit hard this past fall.   I’ve ridden through a few recessions in the past without incident but I dare say this could be different.   I have no illusions and neither should anyone else.   This is serious.  I’m still in the holding my breath phase as it hasn’t had a deleterious affect as of yet but I wonder about the upcoming months and even years.

  On the flip side its also a very good time to produce your best work in the studio, network, reassess, and revisit your business plan.    Social networking has produced a brave new world for artists to source out new audiences and perhaps new venues for exhibition and representation.   Take advantage of Facebook, Linkedin and even Twitter (which I am slow to learn.)    Or start a blog.   I admit, I’ve a little lax on developing my own but hey, I’m wearing many hats these days and didn’t feel the need until, well, last fall.   But I am the eternal optimist and I continue to plug along and encourage others to do the same.   Collectors still want their art and when all this messiness is sorted out we artists will still be here, producing away.   Ultimately its not about marketing at all but rather the creative impulse, the urge to forge ideas and visual delights.  I’m hanging in there and encourage everyone else to do the same.

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Trees on a BluffI have been completely enjoying fall and winter, the months I get to just paint paint paint.  It is akin to hibernating.  I travel a lot in the months from May through September but the colder months are usually spent here in Eureka where I show at my favorite local gallery, Art of Wine.  Started by some friends of mine several years ago, Art of Wine has become a beacon for many to hang out, sample wines, and enjoy some great art from local artists.  Every first Saturday of the month, Art of Wine is packed for Eureka’s Art’s Alive.  I realize many small towns have Art Walks and Friday Night Art Openings but I have to say, living here, in this little berg, ours is the best.  EVERYONE comes down to our waterfront area of Old Town and in addition to the galleries, local businesses sponsor artists.  On Every street corner you’ll find musical talent from established bar bands to fiddlers to Native American music makers, to fiddlers with their babies in tow…it always reminds me why I love living here.

But now it is SHOWTIME. I just confirmed a solo show for March 27-end of May at Art Brokers Inc. in Sausalito.  No pressure!   I’ve been working on several different series though so putting together a cohesive body of work and editing will be the challenge.  That and the recent series of oils I have been working on, hmmmmm.  An opening reception on Friday March 27 will be open to the public and of course, to my wonderful legion of collectors!  Hope to see you there!  Now, back to the studio.  Here’s a little something for the upcoming show.

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Substrates Part II

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One of my favorite new surfaces to work on is UART sanded pastel paper. Similar to Ersta, which was not ph neutral and therefore not a suitable choice, the UART has a great sanded surface that holds pastel well.  Unlike Sennelier LaCarte, which is great for slowly building glazes of color, the UART creates a painterly surface.  Many layers can be developed with thick applications.  It is a completely different way of working than with the LaCarte and I love the abillity to chance course.  Especially since I have started working in oils again since last year, working with the UARt really opens up a new experience in painting in pastel.  These paintings are from a series I am developing from a trip to Ashland Oregon in November.  The light on the river running through Lithia park made for a plethora of great views to explore.

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This is my first day of my first blog…ever.  I still have to play with all these tags and tools and settings and links and yadayadayada but for now I simply blog.

Today is a great day.  My daughter is no longer in finals so I don’t have to pick her up at 12:45 from her high school like all last week, thus breaking up my work day.  Today I played with figuring this bloggie thing out and managed to get some treadmill time in too.  I had a piece in mind to start on in the studio so I headed out there and got a great start on a new piece.

The pastel I’m showing you here is from last week.  I’ve been drawn to the architectural qualities of campers and trucks.  Why you ask?  Something about the randomness of vehicles in front yards of the rural landscape I wander here in Humboldt County.  There’s a stillness and a sense of melancholy about these scenes.  I created this small 9×12 image from a trip up Highway 36. “Camper”

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Victoria Ryan