Welcome to the July issue of
Off the Easel
- If you are a text version subscriber or receive your newsletter into a Gmail account, for best viewing, please view the newsletter in your browser. Gmail is definitely not cooperating this month with my MailChimp template!
- If you are seeing this newsletter on Twitter, please subscribe and have it sent conveniently to your inbox each month! Subscribers will receive an invitation to attend the exclusive Subscribers' Studio Soirée.
A very warm welcome to new subscribers, and thanks so much to everyone for your continued interest and support of my work.
In this issue:
All the best,
The Soirée Lowdown. Many thanks to those who attended the recent Spring Subscribers' Studio Soirée. Please see the Spring Soirée Report article for highlights, photographs from the event, and to learn who won the raffle prizes.
I've also included the most popular story that Jimmy shared: Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Giant's Causeway!
Upcoming Workshop. I will be offering the Mastering Color two-day workshop on August 27-28th. More information can be found below, and for full details please visit my website.
Art Requires Courage. In my feature article this month, I discuss how fear can shackle your creativity.
Currently On the Easel. Be sure to check out my progress on Blue Moon Fire Spiral. Accompanying this article are some inspiring quotes.
Reminder: Closed for the July 1st Gallery Hop. Don't forget that I'll be closed for the July Downtown Arts District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop.
Please keep reading for all this and more!
Particularly since there have been very upsetting events happening in various areas of the world over the past month, I truly hope that my newsletter can uplift or encourage you all in some way.
Thanks to all those who gathered at my studio for the Spring Subscribers' Studio Soirée on Sunday, June 5th!
My great appreciation for his colorful storytelling goes to our Special Guest James C. Williams. After he shared a brief history of the rich storytelling tradition, Jimmy's love of tales both local and abroad was evident in his spellbinding delivery.
Hands down the crowd favorite was the tale about the Scottish giant Benandonner who came across the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland to do battle with the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill. If you missed Jimmy sharing this story at the Soirée, I hope you enjoy reading it below!
Raffle winners! Our first winner, subscriber Grace Washko, proved that it pays to attend the Soirée every year. Grace continued her lucky streak after winning a gift certificate to Mooney's Mediterranean Café last year as well! The second $25 gift certificate for delicious Lebanese food at Mooney's went to Celia Trivette.
Mooney's great generosity is only matched by the high quality of his food, and I can't thank him enough for his contribution. Please visit him on the corner of 4th and Liberty Streets the next time you are in Winston-Salem, NC. You can see an example of what Grace and Celia could order in my photograph below!
Our next winner is preparing to be pampered during a one-hour massage with a licensed massage therapist Catherine Moses, LMBT #1594. Carl Funderburk was delighted to win this relaxing prize.
If you weren't the lucky winner, you can make an appointment with Catherine today. She offers a variety of modalities, including Swedish, Sports, Deep Tissue, Cupping, and Tuning Forks with Reiki and Energy Work. Trust me, you’ll literally be in great hands!
Our storyteller was doing triple duty during the Soirée by also offering one of our raffle prizes. Kathy Mayes was the fortunate winner of a portrait shoot with photographer James C. Williams.
Jimmy is now available full time for all your photographic needs, including fine art photography, portraits, old photo restoration, and commercial work. Be sure to contact him today!
Thank you so much, Mooney, Catherine, and Jimmy for offering such fantastic raffle prizes!
The Grand Prize winner. Last but not least, new subscriber Melissa Spainhour took home the Grand Prize -- an artist's proof of my giclée reproduction, Lakes of Killarney (Michael's View).
Congratulations to all our raffle prize winners!
Additional thanks. As always, tremendous thanks go to my constant helpers, my husband James C. Williams, and his sister, Chris Williams.
Chris and Jimmy are always front and center to help with each Soirée event, as well as the Gallery Hops. For the Soirée, Chris also provided some amazing stuffed strawberries to add to the refreshments table.
Jimmy also did an amazing job matching the color of my new greeting card of Manifestation of Rabbit to the original painting in time to debut the card at the Soirée. I have included some photographic evidence in this newsletter with Matching the Color article so you can see for yourself!
Thank you so much, Chris and Jimmy! Appreciation to those who attended, and especially to all who helped out in various ways. Please see additional photographs from the Soirée below.
Above: Storyteller for the day -- James C. Williams
© 2016 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
A Doubly Tall Tale:
Fionn mac Cumhaill and the Giant's Causeway
One day the Scottish giant Benandonner came across the Giant's Causeway in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, to do battle with the causeway's builder, the Irish hero giant Fionn mac Cumhaill.
As Benandonner approached, Fionn's wife Oonagh thought quickly. She dressed her husband as a baby and hid him in a cradle. When Benandonner came demanding the whereabouts of Fionn, clever Oonagh said, "He'll be back soon, but shhh, please don't wake the baby!"
One look at the huge baby, and the Scottish giant exclaimed, "If the baby is that big, I'd hate to see the size of his father!"
With this, Benandonner fled back to Scotland.
Above: Our favorite Soirée visitors listening to Jimmy's storytelling
with my display of oil painting studies
June 5th, 2016
©2016 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Oil painting studies ©2015-2016 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Reminder: Closed for the July 1st Hop. Due to the holiday weekend, I will be closed during the Downtown Art District Association's First Friday Gallery Hop on July 1st.
To maximize my production time, my participation in these monthly Hop events will be very limited during 2016. Please read your future newsletters to learn when I will have my downtown studio open to the public.
However, I am always available for studio visits by appointment. Feel free to contact me to line up a visit!
Above: Happy Soirée Visitors, June 5th, 2016
©2016 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Archival pigment prints on the wall, left to right:
Left: The Track to Nowhere
archival pigment print, 12” x 18”
framed to 20” x 27”
©2012 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Right: The Beginning of Sunset, Fall Equinox, Ring of Brodgar
archival pigment print, 12” x 18”
framed to 20” x 27”
©2015 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Far right: Suite of mixed media drawings on the special Artifacts wall
© circa 1987 Amy Funderburk All Rights Reserved
Above: Dinner by Mooney's Mediterranean Café
Left to right: Moujadara (a delicious lentil and rice stew), fettoosh, and falafel
© Amy Funderburk 2016 All Rights Reserved
Currently On the Easel
At the Soirée I announced what I am putting in the center of the hot coals -- a fire snake!
As I work on top of the spiral pattern drawn by community participants, I am treating the existing lines as shadows and reflective colors on the snake's scales. I am delighted with my new filbert brush that is conveniently scale shaped.
To read more about the history of this piece, please see the article in my January newsletter.
Stay tuned to my On the Easel: Works in Progress webpage for photographs of this and other pieces as they develop.
"When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be."
“Do whatever you do intensely.”
- Robert Henri
Above: Blue Moon Fire Spiral, in progress 6/23/2016
watercolor pencil on paper with burned edges on interactive meditative drawing
17" x 13 1/8"
© Amy Funderburk 2016, All Rights Reserved
Call for Entries; submission deadline July 15th. Davidson County Community College, Lexington, NC is seeking artists working in both 2D and 3D media to participate in a fall group exhibit at the Mendenhall Building. Eight to ten artists are selected to show up to twelve pieces each in the large, two-story administration building on the Lexington campus.
The college retains 25% in the event of sales. A reception will be held; there are no submission fees. One work is chosen for the PR postcard. Please contact Barbara Cullen for the complete information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 27-28th, 2016
I will be offering the two-day Mastering Color workshop during the last weekend in August. Enrollment is open to participants of any skill level.
Location: my studio in the Artists' On Liberty Building, downtown Winston-Salem, NC
Dates: Saturday, August 27 from 11 AM to 6 PM and Sunday, August 28, from 1 PM to 4 PM
Rates: $125 for Early Birds; $150 after the Early Bird Deadline.
Media. Participants may work in any media in which they feel well-versed, including photography. I will provide a Suggested Materials List to participants after registration.
Course Description. Does your heart sing when you see an array of new pigments in every color of the rainbow? Do you get overwhelmed by the choices, or stumped when it comes to using them effectively?
- Early Bird Rate Deadline: Monday, August 1st
- Registration Deadline: Saturday, August 20th
Whether you are just getting your feet wet with your media, or if you are a seasoned professional who wants more information about the nuances of that most emotionally evocative of elements, this is the perfect workshop experience for you!
Click here for additional details and a full course description. Please email me with any questions and to enroll. I look forward to seeing you in this workshop!
Above: The Three Primary Colors in watercolor
© 2015 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Manifestation of Rabbit. My new greeting card design for this oil on linen is now available. Look how skillfully photographer James C. Williams matched the colors as accurately as possible to the original painting!
They say an artist can discern approximately thirty values of any given color, whereas a non artist only sees ten. To learn how to train your eye to better see such subtle differences, be sure to attend my Mastering Color workshop this August! I will be teaching you the very skills that I employed as we matched this greeting card to the painting.
For more information about my available greeting cards, please visit my website.
Above: Waiting to be signed: a new greeting card of Manifestation of Rabbit with the painting
original painting: oil on linen, 30" x 36"
© 2007 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
Standing stone on Cnoc Áine,
Knockainy, Co Limerick, Republic of Ireland
Art Requires Courage
My painting professor once called me fearless. I have since come to realize that this is the highest complement I have ever been paid as an artist.
"I'm frightened all the time. But I never let it stop me. Never!" - Georgia O'Keeffe
Pursuing your dream, in art or any other field, brings its own rewards. Yet art requires courage. It is a leap of faith in a society that prizes safety nets and security. Art, however, feeds on risk taking.
Fear is a wide umbrella that gives shelter to many shadows lurking in our minds: fear of failure, of rejection, of being judged, of not being good enough, of not making enough money. Much has been written about the artist and this, our creative nemesis.1
In his blog post, The Perfect Creative Personality, David J. Rogers describes his ideal recipe for an artist of any discipline. According to Rogers, the perfect creative is bold and fearless, and one who creates sincere work with integrity.2
Boldness, observes Rogers, is important for achieving success in any field, but “…especially in the arts where courage isn’t a luxury but a necessity. The great creative personalities couldn’t have attained success had they not taken bold risks.”
"What I do is face the blank canvas, which is terrifying." - Richard Diebenkorn
What Diebenkorn (one of those great creative personalities) describes is a painter’s version of the infamous writer’s block faced by pressured wordsmiths. This is perhaps the first taste of fear experienced by a budding artist.
One of the advantages of the underpainting technique is that you cover up the intimidating white surface. When you apply this initial thin, lean layer of pigment to the primed substrate, it physically loosens up your arm and gets both your mind and your painting jump started with broad, energetic strokes. Then you’re just adding more paint on top of paint, which looks much less intimidating than a pristine canvas staring back at you.
Fear fades with more practice. There are ways around – or better yet, through – the fear.
"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." - attributed to Joseph Campbell
But like all great challengers, sometimes fear – or more precisely, the learning from it and moving beyond it to a higher emotional state – is what helps us mine up the deeper riches of creativity. You may have thought of the memorable cave scene from Star Wars: Episode VI - the Empire Strikes Back when you read the above quote. Our greatest so-called enemies are usually ourselves, and whether or not we move forward depends on our choices. Do we listen to the often crippling voice of fear or boldly follow the light of inner growth?
Your hope and fear are often opposite sides of the same coin. Perhaps you hope for success, yet fear it as well. By avoiding the quest for your goal, you give fear a comfortable home by choosing not to try. As Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Being in the present moment assuages fear of the unknown.
"The two terrors that discourage originality and creative living are fear of public opinion and undue reverence for one's own consistency." - Ralph Waldo Emerson 3
I feel that the more personal an artist’s or writer’s imagery is the more universal it becomes. With just the right doses of inspiration and skill, a creator can depict a firsthand experience and birth a symbol or narrative for the human condition.
What results from portraying such intimate subject matter is a certain peeling back of the usual protective emotional layers. You can be left feeling as though your soul has been stripped bare, all the while hoping that other people like what they see or read.
Emerson goes on to say, “The great figures of history have not cared for the opinions of their contemporaries.” 4
Yet meeting someone who fully connects with your work and “gets” what you do may feel like emerging into light after a journey through a dense forest. If fear of being misunderstood or not accepted has held sway over you, there is a sense of relief.
To move through such fear, first and foremost, create for yourself instead of trying to please the critics or chase the buyers. Write, paint, or draw what you feel called to create for the joy of it and then you can find the right target market for your work.
If you fall into the trap of trying to match everyone’s sofa, then you end up with a lot of framed wallpaper that camouflages the furniture. Then how will you know where to sit down? Be bold and sing with your own unique voice.
"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear." - Mark Twain
As I read Rogers’ description of his artist friend who never finished a painting because she was terrified of it, I thought of certain unfinished works in my own studio. I vowed to pick up my brush and palette like a sword and shield at my next earliest opportunity.
I am always surprised when people who haven’t seen me for awhile ask me if I am still painting. Those who ask must have seen other creatives leave their path for some reason, or perhaps their inquiry is a reflection of their own experience. As Rogers astutely points out, “That’s why the top is such an exclusive place – because fear stops so many people from reaching it.”
Being waylaid by fear or doubt is often part of an artist’s story. For me, however, I agree with one of my artist friends, Jeremiah Miller. As he put it, as long as he is still breathing, he’ll still be painting.
Be sure to visit David J. Roger’s blog to read his eloquent post in full.
An internet poll called David's book Fighting to Win the best motivational book ever written. He is working on a "how to be a writer" book. His blog is followed by creative people of all kinds. He lives in the Chicago area with his wife Diana.
1. David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. (Santa Cruz, CA and Eugene, OR: The Image Continuum, 1993)
I highly recommend this book for creatives working in any discipline.
Fans of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, will also enjoy the book I am currently reading:
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear. (London/New York: Bloomsbury, 2105)
2. David J. Rogers, “The Perfect Creative Personality,” davidjrogersftw (blog), June 10, 2016, https://davidjrogersftw.com/2016/06/10/the-perfect-creative-personality/
3. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance,” in Essays, First Series, 1841
4. Emerson, “Self-Reliance.”
Above: O. THE LEAP OF FAITH
oil on oil primed linen
36" x 48"
© 1999 Amy Funderburk, All Rights Reserved
My depiction of The Fool tarot card in the series, Wisdom of the Ancient Lore.