Art is where our spirits collide.
I don’t sell a lot of paintings. Mostly because I’m so busy teaching that I don’t have time to spend in marketing my art; teaching is so rewarding that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on art sales. That means, if someone wants to buy a painting from me, they need to ask! Lately I’ve been able to ship several pieces all over the world and I am realizing that maybe I am missing out on something; the relationship that happens between an artist and a collector when they connect over a painting is a pretty special dynamic.
Fanna gave me permission to share a bit of our exchange as she purchased my painting, “If You Can’t See the Forest, Let Go of the Trees,” and the story behind the painting. Her email was so meaningful and I’m so honoured to be able to share part of it with you.
I just about tackled our mailman last Friday when I saw the flat package he was carrying—your painting. So exciting! Each time I look at it, I discover something new. I love where you touched in glorious colors here and there, the baby cauliflowers are like tiny bridges to the next beautiful section. One favorite area is the bottom right, where tall grasses were painted with 2 very pale colors that created a shimmery silver/green, eucalyptus. I love all of the bright, colorful areas in this painting, and how the blending of these colors created additional colors I’ve never seen before. We think we paint watercolor, but watercolor paints us.
The black envelope that housed your painting was classy, tasteful, especially with your red seal. What you wrote on the back of your painting about paintings being soul mates was so true. And as you can see, I’m already wearing your “Fearless Artist” pin on my painting apron.
I'm excited to go to the framers with my 1/4 sheet, 300#, Angela Fehr original…and know I got a steal. My husband, who’s always been incredibly supportive about my watercolor journey, also viewed your painting at length, pointing out various techniques, colors you used, why you may have chosen what you did, etc. It’s amazing that every time I study it, I find something new too.
I am so thankful I happened to see this painting on a quick blip on Doodlewash…I’m unsure if you created a video, painting “…Let Go of the Trees…", but if yes, could you please let me know? I’d love to see the process of this fresh, lively, stunning painting!
I’m so glad the painting arrived and happy birthday, again! Selling art is unlike any other area of retail, as it involves a heart connection that we rarely consider in other purchases (well, I do try to look for that connection when I buy shoes…but not so much in the grocery store!), and I love that in sending my art into the world, a relationship is created between the artist and the art collector. I know exactly what you mean about seeing something new in the original art on my walls, whether it is my own painting or one made by another artist, I rarely pass a painting without considering the decisions of the artist as they moved the brush across the paper.
You asked about the story of “If You Can’t See the Forest, Let Go of the Trees,” and I’m delighted to share it; it’s one of my favorite painting stories to tell, and I tell it in almost all of my workshops. Unfortunately, I don’t have a video of this painting; the magical paintings rarely perform for the camera! But the story is pretty fun and I think it’s a marvelous example of the trust we artists need to have in ourselves, as well as openness to new possibilities.
I taught a watercolor workshop in Vancouver in November of 2017, and the day before the workshop, I also demonstrated at Opus Framing on artistic Granville Island. Painting demonstrations are even more fun than workshops, because I just get to paint and talk about why I love watercolor. After the workshop, I packed up my stuff and called a taxi to take me back to the hotel. My slim plastic palette was moist with paint, and without a lid, so I slipped it in a ziploc bag and placed it carefully on top of the box. When the cab arrived, everything went into the trunk of the cab.
And then, DISASTER
Taxi drivers are so helpful, aren’t they? They really don’t want you to just help yourself to unloading when you arrive at your destination, and my driver was no exception. We arrived at the hotel and he jumped out and started stacking the packages so I could carry them into the hotel…and HE PLACED A CARDBOARD BOX…squish…RIGHT ON TOP OF MY PALETTE!!
I hid my dismay well, I think…but I could only imagine the wealth of delicious, juicy pigment that was now smeared across the inside of the covering bag and the palette. Oh, the horror!
The next morning, I set up my watercolor stuff for the workshop. Maybe a day of demo paintings is a great way to loosen up before teaching, because as I peeled away the bag and saw the pink, turquoise and green smeared across the plastic, I had an idea. Before my audience of students, I suggested that maybe a disaster like this could become an opportunity to do something new.
A Flash of Inspiration
It must have been a flash of inspiration, an addiction to beautiful color, an artist’s ability to see art in mess and chaos. What artist hasn’t seen a rainbow in an oil spill? I turned the bag inside out, spritzed the surface with water, and mashed it to my paper. Peeling it away revealed texture and softness, open white spaces framed by dashes of vibrant color, and with just a few brush strokes, the painting emerged.
Thanks to an obtuse taxi driver, magic happened, and I was lucky enough to be able to see possibilities in that smear of color. I’ve learned how much this mirrors the nature of art; that I need to focus most on being fully present to what COULD happen, instead of fixing my mind on what I think SHOULD happen as I paint. The title of the painting is intended to remind me of the truth of letting go.
One more thing; I mentioned that this painting was created in November of 2017. It wasn’t until September of 2018 that I felt ready to share it. The process of creation felt so accidental, and it held this unfinished tension, and I just felt too vulnerable to share it immediately. Maybe I was the only one who could see something in this smashed-on color and suggested line…
When I decided to include it in my 2019 calendar, it was because I was finally ready to show this vulnerable piece of myself. When I share a painting publicly, it’s a bit scary, because I am showing parts of myself in what I create. I have to make peace with revealing myself and risking rejection, and when I finally decided to put “Forest…Trees” in the calendar, I did so boldly, deciding that not only was this painting important to show who I am as an artist, but that I loved it and believed in it enough to put it on the cover.
Thank you for recognizing a piece of me in the spirit of this painting. This is where our spirits collide.