The Thinking Artist: Get in the studio
I am an artist and I’ve been thinking…
I have the beach in my head and it comes out on canvas a lot. This is a good thing, because I can rarely ever get away to enjoy the real thing. Sweeping streaks of sand and sky and colors where marshes glow in the afternoon bring out the beach boy in me. I even like sand in my shoes because, like tenderness from a sunburn, it keeps the beach with you just that much longer.
Growing up in southern California, I never thought I’d live anywhere away from the ocean, but here I am landlocked in Atlanta. So to exercise my memories I recreate my favorite beaches in paint. Dog Island, Florida, Sapalo Island, Georgia and Laguna Beach, California all take shape in my work. Sometimes I’ll paint from a photo, sometimes from memory, but always from an indelible impression. The proof that I’m not completely off my board is my growing clientele of collectors from all across the country.
I am often asked by other artists to help guide them to the “best market” for their art. My answer is always the same: your work can sell anywhere as long as the viewer can relate to the subject and you don’t smell bad. Your highest compliment is when someone tells you that your work reminds them of… (fill in the blank). You have captured their imagination just as the art you created captured yours. Personally I’m lucky because nearly everybody likes the beach. But we need to be realistic and in step with the times to be successful as artists.
Recently, I was interviewed by Alyson Stanfield for a program called, “Artist Conspiracy.” Based in Colorado, Alyson is the author of I’d Rather be in the Studio! She teaches workshops such as “No Excuses Art Marketing,” “Nail your Artist Statement,” and “Website Makeover.” At first I worried that Alyson would be kind of like Tony Robbins only prettier. But it turns out that she’s more like Martha Stewart for artist careers which is just right because she somehow finds the obvious solutions we missed in a way that seems so pleasant we just want to give her flowers or forgive any criminal infractions. Alyson is a former assistant to a U.S. Senator, museum curator and educator. Of course, like Martha, Alyson has a virtual art expert army at her disposal with one key difference being that they are not scared of her. Just check out the “partners” page on her website.
This summer I’ve already got my calendar marked to see Chelsea Handler at the Chastain Amphitheater on June 10 because I think we are probably soulmates that just haven’t met yet. But as an artist or an artist with lots of summer visitors expected, there is a virtual smorgasbord of art events to enjoy.
Summer art shows and festivals I recommend:
June 4 – 6: Virginia Highland Summerfest
This is one of my favorite events even though it wears me out from walking, talking and shopping among 200 artists. vahi.org/summerfest
June 26 – Sept. 11: Radcliffe Bailey at the High Museum
This is the premiere of Atlanta artist “Radcliffe Bailey: Memory as Medicine” including sculpture, paintings, works on paper, glass and found objects over a 25 year period. high.org
July 23 – 24: Festival on Ponce
This new art and craft event will be held in the lovely Olmsted Linear Parks along Ponce de Leon Avenue in the tony Druid Hills neighborhood. festivalonponce.com
Aug. 27 – 28: Grant Park Summer Shade Festival
My favorite part is the “corks and forks” but the art and music is great, too! gpconservancy.org
You won’t see me wandering the beach this summer unless you can get inside my head, which I do not recommend. But I will continue to kick up the sand to search for talent worth soaking up.
Patrick Dennis is an artist, gallery owner and President of the Atlanta Foundation for Public Spaces. He lives in Atlanta. Email: Patrick@affps.com