Daddy's Christmas Angel

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Visiting the Artist Studio of Dorothy Fagan

"Talking about  journaling" ©Mary Montague Sikes
Last Saturday, members of the Chesapeake Bay Branch, National League of American Pen Women had the opportunity to visit the studio of artist Dorothy Fagan. What a special treat that was, not only for artists in the group but for the writers as well.

Over the years I have found that people who paint often also write, and Dorothy did not disappoint me. She talked about journaling as well as painting. She told about keeping a journal since the mid-1990s. To me, the journal is like my "gathering books" that I have all over our house, so I was especially delighted to hear about her experiences. Dorothy has "lucid dreams" and chronicles them in her journal.

Sitting in her studio, hidden in the trees, felt especially comfortable to me because my own writing studio overlooks white oak tree branches similar to hers, and the light that glistens on the trunks and leaves is the same. I found joy in the "feel" of the space and especially gloried in the splendor of sitting amidst creative women who experience the same delight I find in writing and in making art.

I can only wish now and dream of more time spent with those who love to turn words around and change the world with color. These are the people I long to know better.
"In the Fagan Studio" ©Mary Montague Sikes

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Looking for Consistency in Art and in Writing

"Circles and Butterflies" acrylic painting ©Mary Montague Sikes
Earlier this year, I was pleased to be a semi-finalist in the Xanadu Gallery's Mentorship program. I've long been a fan of Jason Horejs, owner of the gallery located in Scottsdale, Arizona who offers helpful blog advice to artists all over the world. "Circles and Butterflies," a 48" x 46" acrylic painting on canvas, was one of the pieces I submitted in my application.

As part of the program, I now have the opportunity to follow the progress of the two final artists through 15 bi-weekly podcasts that will document their journeys to an exhibition of their work in Xanadu Gallery during April. This is the first time that Jason has selected two artists for the program. Sculptor Phyllis Mantik deQuevedo and painter Kimberly Ferrell will compliment each other in an exhibition of their figurative work.

This week Jason discussed the importance of having consistency in the art an artist puts out for public display. I take notes throughout the podcasts and was pleased that he listed his six criteria for consistency. They are: subject matter, theme, style, palette, medium, and presentation. I thought about how authors also can benefit from using those same criteria for consistency in their books and their covers.

Jason says that artists should discover their own mix in the six criteria as they seek to find their individual brands. This reminded me of the time a few years ago when I met with the cover designer of my first novel, Hearts Across Forever.  She told me about branding, a subject I had not considered much before that day. Although she did not give me the criteria for consistency, she made me understand the importance of developing a "look" for not only the books, but the author as well. The art on the cover of Hearts Across Forever is my pastel painting of falls that are part of the story. It is interesting to note the similarities of the color palettes of my painting and those of my book. I had not thought about that common element until I put photos of both of them in my blog today.

From now on, I will give special attention to the six criteria for consistency as I develop my art work. I will also consider it in my book writing and in the art for my covers. Thank you, Jason Horejs, for your thoughtful suggestions.