Thursday, January 26, 2017

Artists Share Their Stories and Art

Artwork by Kelly Brown

Ever wonder what it would be like to make a living as a professional artist? From humble beginnings to constant development and improvement, Mixed-Media Artist Kelly Brown and Photographer and Painter Vineta Cook share their experiences as artists, providing insights into how they got started, what they did to develop their crafts, and their secrets for pushing through creative lulls. They have some great advice for those interested in developing their artistic talents.

How did you get started as an artist?


Kelly Brown: I’ve been interested in art and drawing ever since I was very little. There was a time while I was growing up that my mother worked from home. To keep me busy, she gave me paper and crayons and asked me to draw pictures for her. That was all I needed to stay occupied for hours! I would just draw and draw. I loved to draw people and scenes with a lot of activity. I was always drawing, always doodling, always creating characters and illustrating stories. This led me to the decision to go to art school at the Columbus College of Art and Design and pursue a fine art degree.

Vineta Cook: My father would draw cartoons when I was little and I loved it. I think I first realized in fifth grade that I love art and wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I kept painting and taking extra art classes all through school. At 15 years old, I won a silver medal from the European Union in Lithuania for my painting, and it boosted my confidence to study art. I got a B.A. in arts and technology and later pursued art full time.

Artwork by Kelly Brown

How have you specifically developed your craft?


Kelly: As a beginner, I started out just drawing things from my imagination, and then I tried to copy other drawings. By going to art school, I was trained to draw more from life. I was exposed to many different facets of art making such as structural drawing, sculpture, oil painting, and even advertising design. It was very hard at times, but this solid foundation helped me learn color and design basics, which helped me learn to express my ideas in a variety of mixed media. After graduating art school, I focused on faux finish and mural work for 12 years. This resulted in my appreciation for layering and for different art techniques on large walls in residential and commercial spaces. Now that I am less inclined to work 20 feet up on a ladder, I am using all of that information on a smaller scale. Literally, I have started making fun miniatures such as pies and other mini “fake foods”. I also enjoy sketching from life whenever I travel. I enjoy using my own metaphoric language to tell stories on a variety of surfaces such as paper, canvas, and wood panel with a wide variety of mixed media.

Vineta: I practiced a lot. The more you work, the better your work comes out. I tried different techniques and I saw what I liked and what I didn’t like. If you don't try, you will never know. There is no wasted time with art. It's constant learning.

Artwork by Kelly Brown

What advice do you have for beginners or people who want to focus anew on their crafts?


Kelly: I would suggest taking as many classes as you can. Go out and buy some fresh art supplies. Get a notebook specifically to record your artistic ideas and thoughts. Keep a list of favorite words or favorite combinations. See something interesting? Write about it. Eventually, you will have a resource book for your various ideas and thoughts, which you can distill down into an artwork. Visit art museums. Go to local art gallery exhibits. Go to local art fairs and have conversations with the artists. Look for art on Pinterest that you like and create a board filled with art that delights and inspires you. Then, try to emulate what those paintings are doing with your own work. In the beginning, it will feel like you are copying, but eventually, you will find your own voice, your own techniques, and create art that makes your soul happy.

Vineta: Work hard. Show up at the studio even if you don't want it. You need to develop the healthy habit of working. Make art — lots of it — and keep working at it. Don't let other people negativity effect you. Surround yourself with positive people. Persistence is number one. As artists, we are very sensitive people. If someone rejects your exhibition proposal, you don’t win a contest, there is no answer on an email, and so on, you still don't need to quit. Quitters are the only ones who don’t make it.

Artwork by Vineta Cook

When you hit a creative lull, how do you reignite your artistic passion?


Kelly: I’m thankful that that doesn’t happen very much to me! I agree with the quote by Pablo Picasso: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” If someone is in a creative lull, I think they should immediately start “pushing some paint” around. Don’t stare at a blank canvas and let it intimidate you. I think it’s important to just get working and don’t overthink it. If you’re stuck, start making some abstract shapes and patterns and let the creativity and ideas spark along with that momentum.

Vineta: I change mediums. If I have a block in painting I take a break and I do photography. If I have the block in photography and painting, I do a drawing. This way I never stop creating.

Artists never have the same story, but they all have moments of inspiration and struggle. Hopefully you can find some inspiration in Kelly and Vineta’s stories as you follow your muse.

Artwork by Vineta Cook
Check out more of Kelly’s work and Vineta’s art.

Need a frame for your art? At American Frame, we love to help you frame it right! Visit our website where you can check out our Framing FAQ page or contact us for personalized assistance. Share a photo of your latest masterpiece on social media with the hashtag #FramingHappiness!


Laura Jajko
Laura Jajko is President of American Frame and a longtime contributor to "A Good Frame of Mind." Here, she delights in bonding with others over her love of art and framing. With more than 40 years of practical experience, she brings a unique perspective in a straightforward style that she hopes will spark lots of interesting and relevant dialogue in our online community. Connect with Laura directly here on the blog or follow her on Twitter @LauraJajko.

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