Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"CUTE IS BACK!" ...I told my husband with a flip of my hair and a snap of my finger---after he commented how "great" I looked as we stepped out to dinner last week.
Well, why not?
Since $500 is the new $300---
we may as well be as CUTE as we can be waiting out this recession!
One great way I "go for cute" is to SHOP at MONA!
For an artist-- it is a fantastic-ly easy way to dress and Look like a darn artist without even trying!

photo credit MONA! and Paul Clark of Asheville Citizen Times

Our MONA! doesn't just go for cute--- she goes for FABULOUS
and has a legion of fans all over the country.
Her on-line store IS fabulous-- please go there and tell her The Conn-Artist sent you!
BTW- I own at least SIX pairs of MONA! shoes and they are the MOST COMFORTABLE and fun of any I have worn. And being "over 40" - hahaha-- I HAVE to wear "good" shoes like
Clarks or Merrell's etc...
she also has wonderful hoody sweaters--
all kinds of stuff like cool arty clothes, purses, jewelry, mostly hand made!

"Go For Cute" can't we? Well MONA! would say--
Go For Fabulous Honey-- when you look Fabulous, nobody notices your wrinkles!"Please COMMENT BACK and tell us what you are doing to stay UP, HAPPY, INSPIRED, CREATIVE or even CUTE!
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

Go and make your life a masterpiece- A Work of Art- START TODAY!

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Create Inspiration for others--by Creating Interest in what other artists need...

What Do Artists Need Muse Wise?

I really want to know since it surely seems that our Market (at The Conn-Artist Studios and Art Gallery) IS THE ARTISTS!

Although WINNING this contest is only open to an artist who can travel to WNC to take advantage of a Free Open Studio Day--- anyone can enter if they agree to the rules as listed. The most creative one will win.

Have fun!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

OK--- NOW WHAT? Regrouping and Rethinking Business Plans for The Studio/Gallery

Above is a view of The Conn-Artist Studios & Art Gallery and two paintings in my 1960's Icon Series. Hopefully you recognise Marilyn on the right. To the left of that is a 36x36 inch oil on board of James Bond author, Ian Fleming, "For Your Eyes Only."
Always vying for the Silver Lining-- here we go....
With the election over and the (stock) markets still reacting to the new national choices- it is clear we may have to do things differently to survive.

Luckily-- this morning, this can be pondered from a calm perspective since we drove to the beach last night. This was the view to which we woke ;-) Ahhhhhhhhh-- feels easier to breathe!

Have to admit that these past few weeks have been stressful re- guarding our art business. Although, as a parent- it is more stressful to see our kids (& their businesses) suffer-- but we'll save that for another post.

What to do to plan for 2009?
What are you doing if you are a business owner?
What are other galleries doing?
We have seen at least 3 close up shop in the past several months. As we drove to the beach we heard on the radio about the myriad of businesses closing. Literally hundreds of stores from long time chains like-- Bombay, Wilson Leather, and a bunch of Talbots (now THAT hurts). A sobering list so long I can't remember. Gallery owners in our area are planning a meeting of the Gallery Guild. Will let you know about what we come up with.
How can a business that has been around for 50, 75, and in some cases 100 years - close? Some got too big-- like Starbucks. They are still open of course-- although many of the stores they just opened will be shuttered. Folks have zipped up their wallets plain and simple. So where does ART fit in? Must be way down the list. Don't like it but I understand.

Re-tooling has been something the car companies have done every year about this time to ready for new models. Even that isn't enough for our beloved Detroit where we lived for nearly thirty years. Determined to stay afloat-- makes sense to build upon what has worked this year--- our numeral uno is OPEN STUDIO.
What else? Art Instruction. We have two new teachers and have several waiting in the wings.
Still..... a huge desire is to sell the art we create that is so close to our souls.

Now, how does a gallery sell art in a recession?
My good friend and fellow Gallery Guild Founding Member, MONA!- used it to her advantage by acknowledging the event. She offered a special show some months ago and titled it, "What To Wear To A Recession."
It worked and Mona's sales of hand painted shoes and her other arty clothes were good.
Closer to this point in time, in yesterday's Wall Street Journal an article noted an Edgar Degas sculpture estimated worth at 4-6 million dollars sold for a paltry $3.7 million. Ha! So that's it--- just lower prices? Not so fast arty goddess!
We are already offering 25% off all paintings in the gallery. Now what?

Back to the drawing board (puns ALWAYS intended ;-).
Good friend and fellow artist gave me some advice as to how to get through the winters (and this was before the meltdowns). Wendy Whitson advised me to work on my body of art and paint paint paint.
So for now-- keep the sales going, paint paint paint, and keep offering Art Instruction. OK, got it. We also - in order to avoid burn-out, are open a few less days. "Winter Hours" around here for galleries are common.

I can almost hear someone reading this and asking, "Why don't you go on Ebay (or whatever)."
Another artist friend is doing just that and having some success with ATC's.
Peggy Tayor, an accomplished landscape Plein Air painter and Instructor creates 2.5 x 3.5 inch original paintings and offers them on line. Bidding starts at just under ten dollars.
Prices have to be small as far as I can tell.

All and all- we have much to be thankful for. Our rent is very reasonable. We are easy to get to and with no steps or parking problems...
Bottom Line- We want to keep our studio open.
Area artists are thrilled they have a place to paint or just to gather.
We may create more studio space within the gallery space.
When folks wander in.... they most always marvel at our selection and quality.

We have the goods.
We have the passion.
Until we are Almost Famous-- (realizing that it often takes a "name" to be able to "sell").... we welcome your ideas, (art orders ;-), and prayers!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Who Are You?

Better to concentrate on fall's majesty...

however, lately been so worried/tired/sick over the upcoming national elections. Sound familiar?
Oh, did I mention also feeling--FRUSTRATED?
I fired off a Letter to the Editor of both of our newspapers after getting annoying emails and feeling the brunt of some family discontent over my beliefs- along with their in-ability to allow me to express myself.

Then I thought WHY?
Why am I spending my precious time on this and allowing myself these fearful emotions? I was frustrated at not being able to articulate my feelings during debates. Like you perhaps, I would think of all the great things to say afterward. More frustration.

Then I got to thinking about labels.

Not the jelly jar kind-- rather the labels we give ourselves and others. And in this case, the political label or letter we assign to ourselves.
Are our labels us?

Like me, so many other bloggers have considered getting into the (election) fray and not sticking to the intention of their blogs.
The arty blogs I like are those that completely steer away from political issues.
Who needs more OPINION for goodness sake...
there must be millions of blogs out there and between them and the media (oh, did I mention I mourn the death of journalism?)....
I do follow a few political blogs who stick to the facts-- to stay current...
however, I've had just about enough of other's opinions for now thank you.

So now back to our subject-- WHO ARE YOU?
I could start with who am I-- and will offer a description at the end of this post as I would like this to be about YOU.

Let's try to do this in a way that Dr. Wayne Dyer may appreciate.
When a student, he was asked that question by a professor in a class a few decades ago.
The task was to write a page to describe WHO ARE YOU.
Wayne thought, oh this will be easy!
The trouble began when the professor then listed all the LABELS that were off limits... as I recall; sex of the writer, religion, being a mom, dad, sister/brother, political affiliations, where one lived, went to school, did for a job, career aspirations, and now you get the idea.
Not an easy task, especially for a nineteen or twenty year old.
AND you may get the idea of how limiting labels are.
...and in this case perhaps having bumper stickers that
end up dividing us rather than to be a positive force.

"Once you label me, you negate me..." said Soren Kierkegaard, who was the inspiration for the professor who asked the question; "Who are you?"

Last night I was at a wedding reception and the father of the bride -- right after saying "hello" mind you---asked who I was voting for! (He did have a few glasses of wine at this point so I forgive him...)
I hesitated to answer and he implored me to tell him.
So I did and he was disappointed in my answer... but said he loved me anyway which seemed a step in the right direction given the reason for the celebration.

So, do labels really matter?

I didn't think so as we heard the funny and tear jerking toasts to the bride and groom from their loving friends.
I didn't think so as we watched the beautiful, wonderful, successful 20 & 30-somethings dance the night away in joy for the newly married couple.
I don't think so today, as I view the spectacular colors of fall out my window and count my blessings in the midst of these hard times many of us find ourselves in.

What matters are things like what a wonderful Priest told me several years ago when I started to complain about a perceived injustice I felt at the time.
Father Anthony took me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye and said,
"Connie, when you speak to people-- be it so that you leave them feeling refreshed by the experience of being with you."

Leave them wanting more-- and REFRESHED?
Wow, what a concept!
I want to try and live like that everyday-- and also lead by example instead of trying to get someone to think as I think.
Not easy, but a good goal don't you think?
So in that spirit I will end with what I hope is, Who Am I.

I am a smiling muse, a creator, an encourager, a lover of life and people.

And so it goes... till next time.
Please do let yourself know --Who You Are.

In the evening of our lives, we shall be judged on love.
-- St. John of the Cross

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fear Sucks

Are you sick of feeling afraid today?

Me too.

As I tried to find a more positive & polite title to this post-- nothing seemed to say it like, "Fear Sucks," so sorry about that.

So many books have been written about fear and how it affects artists-- I bet you could recite a very convincing essay about the subject-- even if you- yourself are a bit steeped up in fear about all the scary stuff going on today.

Feeling fearful today myself-- and since Fear Sucks-- I will try to think about people who have emboldened me to think otherwise.
It's a good trick to try. (I'd love to hear if that trick could work for you!)

I'll start mine with an artist named Mary.

"Maggie" & "Alexander"
by Mary Louise Short

These lovely portraits were painted by our good friend Mary. She struggled to find her style and tried many different subjects to paint before settling on portraiture. Some years back, every week she drove to Asheville from her home in Etowah (near Hendersonville, NC) to meet with other artists for the purpose of group critique.
Every week her paintings got "shot down" for lack of a better description but Mary never wavered in her quest to improve. In fact, in the face of that or anything else, Mary always said; "There is Nothing to Worry About!" -- when any of her many friends would complain about real or perceived fears.

One art meeting-- after goodness knows how many weeks or months of meetings-- several in the group asked, "WHO DID THAT ONE?" It was a portrait, (may have been a neighbor of Mary's as I recall)... that Mary confessed to being hers. The group all agreed that this is what Mary should be doing-- she figured it out! Yahoo! So it was that Mary continued to paint many beautiful portraits and got paid for most to boot.

This seemed a bit amazing to me as Mary had been very sheltered, had little world experience other than with church and her family. One of her favorite stories is about her experiences in Africa, where she and Steve worked as teachers and missionaries. Seemed one day an elephant was eating their roof! There was a story of a person going out at night and never returning due to one too many lions in the area! She said you have, "never seen black if you haven't been in the jungle at night!" She reported that she loved her years there with her family and wouldn't have traded it for anything else.

Mary and I shared a ride to DC one day-- I wanted to go to Reagan's Funeral and she had a planned annual collage room-mate get together also in DC. During that trip I learned a lot about Mary and what made her tick. We all knew how devoted she was to her faith- yet she never ever preached to us. She just quietly walked-her-talk. Getting into the rhythm of the road ribbons winding their way up and through the Virginia ridges we shared our beliefs.
She told me that Jesus was her very best friend, she talked to Him all the time and asked Him
about the smallest of daily decisions. He always seemed to come through as she had some funny and sweet stories to share. Further amazing me, she said she would drive to some nearby town, set up her easel on the sidewalk and just paint all day! She never worried about getting it right. She painted and painted and painted, (and I'm sure she asked Jesus once or twice for a bit of help)!

I confessed about my lack of training, experience, and confidence with regards to art even though that is mostly what I thought about. She suggested I take a workshop with Carol Bomer and rather insisted that I do! (That did come to pass by the way & interestingly enough, now Carol & I are good friends and we represent Carol in our gallery!)

All during this time-- I feared not "getting it" with regards to my art and did anything else I could think of (cleaning out closets for instance!) instead of working at my art.
A classic Art & Fear combo.

A bit of fast forward and about 3 years ago Mary had a wonderful party for her art friends-- just a week before Christmas. Mom & I were so pleased to be included. The day was so perfect that we both commented it Was The Most Perfect Day ever-- we are talking lots of warm fuzzies here! A day so perfect I can still savor each moment.

14 days later or so, and a week after Christmas I happened to be in Atlanta with our church youth group. A dear friend Sonja called me and asked if I was sitting down.
"Mary died," she said.
Mary DIED? What are you talking about? Mary in perfect health, Mary in great shape, our dear sweet Mary?
Mary was visiting her family and collapsed in the shower with a brain aneurysm.
That was it. The shock was unbearable at first.

I had been driving and pulled over when Sonja called. I immediately prayed for my friend and her family through a torrent of tears. Suddenly, a clear calm came over me and instantly I KNEW where she was -- she was sitting at the feet of her Lord and Savior there was no doubt.

Not much later I made a decision to not be afraid anymore with regards to my art.

I wanted to honor Mary and couldn't think of a better way.
I believe many other artists in our group felt the same way and offered up the same promises.

So perhaps that can also work in everyday life-- to just be done with fear and all the worries fear brings. When it sneaks into your being-- think of what Mary told us, "There is nothing to worry about. God will take care of it. We'll get through this. We have to have faith."

I'll give you one more trick that Mom told me a long time ago about faith.
It's about faith and the mustard seed. You remember the Bible story.
Since the seed is so small-- we can muster up that much faith can't we?

Fear does suck-- but our faith is bigger than our fear.
(Now don't forget to tell me the same thing when I freak out please!)
We just have to remind each other and practice it--
practice- practice- practice
paint - paint- paint -

You get the idea ;-)

This one is for you Mary- with Love!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maggie "B" Glad

We got a call the other night - can't even remember from whom. The caller asked, how were we doing (with reference to all the scary economy stuff going on).
I answered , "How else would we be doing? -- My husband is a stock broker and has a wife with an Art Gallery! Ha!"

However, I meant it in POSITIVE terms thanks to a meeting that day with, "Maggie."

On my way to the studio a month or so back I spied some good looking berries being sold by the side of the road. Upon meeting a colorful character named Leonard, this "Strawberry Man," as he is known by-- knows more than a few folks in these parts of the Western North Carolina mountains. In our chit-chat, I mentioned that I was an artist. He told me about Maggie, "a little black lady at church who drew pictures real good," according to Leonard.
"You should see her art," he explained. "I'm gonna tell her to go see you," he said as I paid him $10 for a an overflowing basket of shiny red strawberries.

First of all, you have to admit that it's pretty cool to even HAVE a, "Strawberry Man." Never met such an entity up north-- but here, along the country roads come harvesting time, we have any number of farmers selling their fruits and vegetables - not so much from fruit stands- but from the back end of trucks with umbrellas sheltering the hand picked treasures and the folks who sell them.

So it was that Maggie finally came to see me although quite unexpectedly yesterday-as it was while Mom and I were closing the studio. At first glance, this small older woman didn't much look like a person who might be interested in walking into an art gallery. And as she entered she never looked or even acknowledged the plethora of art all around her - and walked towards me.

Trying to size her up quickly, I was reminded of a younger woman who recently burst in- talking a mile-a-minute about goodness-knows-what and kind of scaring me saying (sans eye contact), "I am a former drug addict." Still chattering incessantly without taking a breath --about her "art" and about "being clean for many months," her beautiful yet blank blue eyes betrayed her. It appeared her addiction was current. She mentioned she lost her children and home to drugs and was looking for work. I did try to help the young woman somewhat, but was relieved when she finally left.

However this small stranger seemed different so I suspended all judgement and my desire to go home. Soft spoken and shy, Maggie seemed sane, not quite shabby in dress- but pretty darn close. Determined and polite she offered me a look of her tattered stack of drawings in hand. She said her name was Maggie and that, "a man" told her to see me.

Realizing this was the woman the, "Strawberry Man" mentioned, I invited her to sit down to chat. Maggie was obviously proud of these dog-eared drawings on paper so I handled them with reverence, considering each one even though most of them were poorly drawn and in bad shape. Because I appreciate Folk-Art and Naive Art, & much like a mom who encourages her child, I tried to find value in different drawings and let myself be totally open to our mutual art spirit.

There was "something here" in her artwork I told her, "something special" that I thought she should build on. Her tired gray eyes sparked as her mouth crinkled up in a sweet smile. My mother looked on in a bit of amazement at my revelations. I told Maggie I understood why she had to draw. We were just like her, us creative folks have to get it out... we have to share our God given talents... and she agreed.

I gathered a stack of her colorful drawings, mostly done with children's markers. The date of each drawing and title was printed in ball point pen ink. Looked perhaps like another person did the writing but I didn't mention that observation. I noted to Maggie that I'd like to see these works done in paint, on a hard surface so they would last. Maggie nodded so I continued.
I told her about painting on plywood and about acrylic paint. I suggested she use paint and not markers and to date the back, not the front of works, and not use ball point pens to write her words as they would fade in time.
As Mom started to get engaged into the conversation, I said, "I'll be right back Maggie, we have some paint you can have" and I dashed into the art room to fetch some paints we didn't use often. Upon my return, Mom was explaining to Maggie how to use water with the paint and how to put dollops of paint on a plastic lid of some kind-- before committing paint to paper.
We gave her some old brushes and and whole bunch of fresh paints. The goodies filled up a good size see-through plastic bag. I was worried that if she was on foot the bag may be too heavy but she said she had a car, "around the corner."

I gave Maggie a big bear hug and wished her good luck with her artistic experiments to use paint and new ideas. She hugged me back-- and hard enough to make sure I knew she was happy. "I'm so excited," she gushed as we helped her outside. I still feel that hug.

It would be great if Maggie came up with some good little renditions of her work-- and so good if we could sell it for her. We hope that works but what captured our hearts was her brave spirit. She had told us of a conversation she had with her son.
Seems she was upset and real sad about something. Her son said, "Momma, what is your name?" She answered, "Maggie." Not satisfied he asked again, "Momma WHAT is your name?" This time she said, "Maggie B. Glad".... and realizing the gift she repeated it as if a mantra; "MAGGIE B GLAD... I'm Maggie and I'm a bein' glad!"

So with all our personal problems and issues of the day - this sweet un-assuming Maggie B. Glad reminded me to concentrate on blessings instead.

Note to readers:
Maggie's name is slightly different than listed here but the gist is exactly right.
I didn't want to use her real name unless I got her permission. When and if we do-
we will let you know! We hope that something wonderful happens for her-- you never know!
Stay tuned!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Baby's First Book

Your know the one-
That pretty blue or pink Baby Book you received at your First Baby Shower.
Even though the book is all organized for you-- (all you have to do
is to fill in the darn lines)-- to describe all of baby's FIRST accomplishments-
it proved to be difficult to complete before "the baby" graduated from collage didn't it?

Perhaps y
ou may have made the same promise to yourself:
IF I really Loved My Baby I will finish this Baby Book!

Number One Son's Book is sort-of done and oddly enough in
the dark amber wood Hope Chest my grandmother gave to me circa-1970.
I always thought I could have "done better" but after looking through it-- it is just fine. Not exciting like scrappers today can make something-- but it got the job done in the mid '70's and his first sits, stands, words are recorded forever in a "non"-acid free binder--

My true guilt lies with Number Two Son.

I don't even have to comment further do I?
I see that guilty look on our face too-

Well, it is with these same guilty thoughts I begin to BLOG.
Will I keep it up?
Will it do my art business any good?
Will it take too much time away from home, the studio, the husband?

Won't know 'less I give it a go.
Much like starting a painting-- it is a leap of faith isn't it?

But with artfulness spilling into most everyone's life we do have more tools to be creative.
We artists paint, journal, & flickr our way through each day it seems (...then try to fit in some "work" to pay for our passions).

So I PROMISE myself to blog--
We'll see how that works out won't we?

Oh what the heck- Let's Roll!