Tag: art

The Audience

Be My Audience!

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While it’s important to make art that you are happy with, that doesn’t mean that a wider audience doesn’t exist. It’s up to the artist to determine how much that audience will see of their work. Some artists, like Emily Dickinson, are happy to keep most of their work to themselves. Others exhibit their work in shows and galleries.

I have heard that writers write best when they have a specific audience in mind. In some ways, this is true for art. When there is an audience in mind, it can help you make decisions as you work. How much the idea of the audience influences the work probably depends on a variety of factors.

For me, there is an audience in mind with each individual piece, often depending on my goals for that work. For example, doodling in my notebooks helps me sit still during meetings and is only meant seen if I tip the page to someone sitting next to me to let them in on a joke.

In high school, I had a pen pal from Australia, and we spent a lot of time decorating the margins of our letters for each other.


These are my notes from a recent Sunday at church. I love capturing my thoughts with pictures in the margins!

I put the Illustrations for my stories up on my blog for anyone to see.


Illustration from my story “Anything You Want to Be” published on 2-13-19.

Practice work is just meant for me.

Being an audience member can be educational. I took a watercolor class at the community college last year. It was fun to have everyone working on the same assignment and see how different the pieces were. It was informative in the way that art videos are, where you get a chance to see someone’s process and how they solve the problems on the page.

An audience is helpful to the artist as well. Knowing some one is watching is great for motivation. There is some pressure to do your best work.

If they are expecting you to show up, there is pressure to actually show up and do something. This might be a friend that you meet once a week to paint with, or a blog where you post a painting twice a week. Feeling accountable is great motivation.

While the best and most reliable feedback comes from a trusted mentor, an audience can also provide some feedback. They can give you comments or suggestions that you can decide to take or ignore. They can provide support and encouragement. Just knowing that someone out there cares enough to look at your work and tell you what they think without being asked is encouraging. (As long as they don’t hate your work. There is always that risk. Then you just have to do your best to recover and move on.)

As I said in the beginning, the wider audience does exist. None of us are truly alone. How much of our work we share is up to each artist and their goals. So is how much you keep the audience in mind as you work. There are choices, and it’s up to you to choose.

What are your thoughts about the audience to your artwork? Is it something that you keep in mind as you work? How do you share your work? Comment below!

Be My Audience!

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The Artist Who Lost Himself and Stole His Own Painting

“And what do you want to be when you grow up?” the teacher asked.

“I’m going to be an artist,” Oscar solemnly declared.

“And what else?”

“Just an artist, nothing else.”

Oscar loved to paint since he was very small. He especially loved drawing on the walls, as high as he could reach. When he drew on the wall, his artwork was still there the next day, making the world beautiful.

Of course, his parents tried to hide the pens and pencils and crayons and markers. Oscar always found something to paint with. If he couldn’t find paints, he’d draw with make up. When that was hidden, he painted with ketchup or soap or shampoo or deodorant or toothpaste.

His parents gave up. “When we move out someday, you are going to help us paint the walls.”

Oscar grinned. “That sounds wonderful. I’d love to!”

“We’re going to be painting them white.”

“Just white?”

“Just white. Nothing else.”

Oscar was horrified. “Who would want plain white walls? I’d be happy to paint something much, much better.”

When he finally finished art school, Oscar went door to door selling portraits. Despite his talent, it took a long time to be successful. He persisted. Eventually, he saved up enough money to have a studio to paint in.

He didn’t have to go door to door to sell his paintings any more. People came to him asking to buy them. He finally had all the time he wanted to paint. And so he painted a lot.

He painted beautiful, realistic still lifes. He painted apples and partridges, pears and playing cards, water glasses and plums. He painted lovely, inviting landscapes. He painted deserts and mountains and oceans and forests. He added cows and geese and camels and elephants. He painted on canvases and walls of all sizes and shapes.

“Maybe you were right about this art thing,” his dad said one day on a visit to his studio. “Some of these are really good. Do you ever paint anything for advertisements?”

His mom looked at the walls, all covered in paint and shook her head. “You never did grow out of that, did you?”

“Out of painting?” Oscar asked.

“Out of painting on the walls.”

Oscar sighed. “They’re murals, Mom. People pay me to do them, so I have to practice somewhere.”

And then one day, Oscar wanted to move on and paint something grander. Something that was better than anything he had ever painted before. He wanted to paint his magnum opus.

Right away, he was faced with a difficult decision. Would he paint a still life or a landscape? After some thought, he made a decision. Why not both?

He painted a room with large windows. The windows looked out on a lovely forested hill on the edge of a charming village. Friendly animals peered through the branches of the trees. The room was filled with all the things he liked best. Art supplies and canvases, photo albums and his favorite paintings. Food and flowers.

It all looked lovely, beautiful, realistic, and inviting. Just like Pygmalion, Oscar fell in love with his art. He spent hours staring at the perfect room with the perfect view and sighing.

He couldn’t paint anything else. It was a crisis. His parents and friends and customers and teachers all visited, but Oscar refused to look at anything but the painting.

And one day, when he reached out to touch a perfect pear, his hand met empty air. The canvas was a door instead of a window. Oscar stepped inside and made himself at home.

“Oh look, Oscar painted himself inside his last painting,” his mom said. “I wonder where he went.”

“We’ll leave him a note,” his Dad said. “I think he should paint some pictures to advertise that new toothpaste. Mint fields in the sun or something. I’ll include it in the note.”

But Oscar stayed in the painting. He was declared missing, and eventually, his parents came and collected his things. They sold his painting to a museum. Oscar was not pleased.

The moment the painting left his studio, Oscar hid out of sight when people were around. He didn’t think he could sit still long enough to fool people into thinking his painting was normal. If they knew they could come inside, everyone would want to come of course. It was his magnum opus. But, he really didn’t want any company.

In the museum, people were around all day. They were noisy and pointed and took pictures. Even worse, some people scoffed and said that his painting was boring. Oscar sat out of sight and fumed. The museum didn’t deserve his painting.

One night, he slipped out of the painting, plucked it off the wall, and left. He took it back to his parents’ house and hung it in his old bedroom. They returned it when they finally noticed, but he just stole it again. And again. And no one seemed to notice it happening.

They finally gave up. Left in peace, Oscar could finally start painting again. He left his new paintings in his old bedroom. The museum was thrilled to buy paintings that didn’t steal themselves. Everyone lived happily ever after.

Is Stan…Normal?

Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare.   Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy.   “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked.

She smiled a fake smile. “Stan honey, why don’t you go draw something for Mommy, alright?” she said, and sent Stan out of the room.   Once he was gone, she dropped the smile. “I’m worried about Stan.”

“Did something happen?” Awesome Guy asked.

“He’s not showing any superpowers. I think he might be normal,” she said.

“There’s nothing wrong with normal.”

Dynamic Girl flopped into a chair with less grace than usual. “I know,” she said. “But that’s not all. He’s so clumsy. He keeps tripping over his feet lately. I had his vision checked and his eyes are fine.”

Awesome Guy sat on the arm of her chair and put an arm around her shoulders. “Did you take him to the doctor?”

“Yes. He’s, well, normal.” Dynamic Girl frowned.

Awesome guy patted her back and stood up again.   “I’m sure it’s fine. A growth spurt, maybe?”

Just then, there was a loud thump in the next room.   Dynamic Girl sighed. “There, he just tripped again.” She raised her voice. “Stan dear, are you alright?   Come in and let me check on you.”

Stan came running in with his drawing and handed it to his mother with a grin. “I’m okay,” he said, and ran back out, darting around the coffee table with ease.

Dynamic Girl held up the drawing. “Look, he’s written ‘me’ at the bottom. It’s another self-portrait. Do you think he’s becoming a narcissist?” She gasped. “Maybe he’s really a supervillain?”

Awesome Guy laughed. “No son of mine is going to be a supervillain. I think you worry too much. Now let’s see what’s–“ He tripped.

“Honey?” His wife asked with a shaky voice.

He chuckled nervously. “I wasn’t expecting that.” He sat up and saw his son peeking around the door. “Come here, son. Did the noise scare you? I just somehow tripped over my own two feet. But look, I’m okay.”

Stan shuffled into the room and held out another picture. Awesome Guy smiled. “Oh, is this me? That’s great.” He stood and handed the picture to Dynamic Girl. “Look, honey, Stan just drew a picture of me.” She smiled and everything was right in the world. For a while.

A week later and Awesome Guy came home from saving the world, happy to see that his wife, Dynamic Girl had already picked up their son Stan from daycare. Unfortunately, once again, Dynamic Girl didn’t look as happy. “Is everything okay, dear?” he asked. He hoped that this wasn’t going to become a new routine.

She smiled and sent Stan from the room again. She frowned. “Stan seems to be alright, but now the kids and teachers in the daycare keep tripping. Do you think it’s something contagious? Perhaps it’s a symptom of some kind of weaponized virus?”

Awesome Guy sighed and sat in the nearest chair.   “Honey, if it is, it doesn’t seem to last long. And there aren’t any other symptoms, right?”

She nodded and her shoulders slumped a little. “That’s right. Maybe I do worry too much.”   She walked towards her usual chair and tripped.

“Honey, are you okay?” Awesome Guy asked. He hurried over and helped her up.

“Yes,” she said and brushed herself off, looking a little embarrassed. She glanced away and then smiled. Stan was peeking around the door. “Oh, Stan, is that you? Did you finish your picture?” She held out a hand and Stan shuffled over and handed her the picture. “Is this me? Thank you, sweetie!” She gave him a big hug.

“Ouch! Mom, that hurts!” Stan scowled. Awesome Guy laughed and everything was right in the world.   For a while.

A week later and Awesome Guy was on the superhero council organized to try to discover the source of the mysterious wave of tripping incidents. Celebrities from around the world were tripping, and there was no known connection or trigger for the incidents. There was a lot of arguing and posturing on the council, but nothing was resolved.

Awesome Guy went home, having not saved the world. The house was empty, so he left again and picked up Stan from daycare. One of the teachers handed Awesome Guy a stack of drawings. He flipped through them. “These are all people from the tripping case.” He looked at his son and felt proud. “Have you been keeping up with my work, son?” His son might not be a superhero, but maybe he would be a reporter instead. He couldn’t wait to tell Dynamic Girl! And everything was right in the world again. For a while.stan-10-26

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