3 Years of Color

Spring Break offers me a week of neither teaching classes nor taking them, and therefore an excellent opportunity to prepare for events such as my May Art Sale and to reflect on projects, technique, history, directions, and color schemes.  As I will soon begin a new portrait commission and today marks the 3-year anniversary of my blog, I decided to focus on color this week.  After all, I embarked upon my artistic career with an intense love of color and motion-- so I often find that revisiting my earlier, more intuitive style of working, but forcing myself to seek out new color combinations or throw in a new element, gives me quite a bit of insight into my thought processes and goals.  I also use color studies (see my Organic Compositions I-II, III-V, and VI-VII from 2011) to help keep my work fresh; after all, an artist can easily fall into certain patterns, choosing the same colors, the same ways of depicting things over time.  While this may help forge a recognizable style, I believe that "having a style" does not have to mean producing work that is stale and repetitive.  I planned four color studies for this week; two are complete, two are still in the works:

 Color Study: "Technical" [above] was based on colors and forms that I saw while driving through town last week-- the metallic blue of a truck, the faded yellow of a utilities box, the red of bricks, and, because Huntsville, AL is so technology-oriented, thoughts of computers, aircraft, and spacecraft.  I am very happy with the clean precision of it, the glowing yellows and subtle greens.  It is a 16X20 water-based oil on Canvas.

Color Study:  "Romantic Arabesques"  [above] resembles my painting Spring in color, but is far more loose in style.  I wanted it to evoke ruffles, roses, and all things feminine without resorting to being merely cute.  I used my palette knife and glass bead gel medium to give texture and a free-spirited air to this 18X24 water-based oil on canvas.

With the final two pieces in the series [above], I would like to revisit the precision of the "Technical" study. . . I find that this precision is something I gravitate toward more and more in my work.  Even so, my goal is that both pieces have a natural "outdoors" feel somehow.  The painting on the left is to evoke the colors at dusk as viewed from my balcony, the painting on the right is to evoke the colors of an afternoon on the nearby Aldridge Creek Greenway with its blue rolling hills and myriad shades of green and violet in the spring. . .

A Commission with a Penchant for Travel

Being able to celebrate travel memories in a commission is not only an interesting challenge but a great pleasure, and my friend Liz Hisle of Lexington, KY recently gave me a perfect opportunity to do just that.  While she was completing her college internship in Buenos Aires, she fell in love with the classic wooden cars of Linea A, the oldest line of the metro system.  As I was reading about the history of the Buenos Aires Metro, I found that, sadly, the wooden cars were replaced earlier in 2013, making this painting a very nice commemoration indeed.  I made sure to add a depiction of Liz  herself, with her signature streak of pink/purple hair, sitting happily and contemplatively in the car.

As far as style is concerned, I wanted to express the warm, deep tone of the wooden interior, but also give Liz a color scheme that would be appropriate for her new apartment.  Moreover, from what I have heard about Buenos Aires, anything short of brilliant colors would not be proper!  Impressionism, with its multi-colored dabs and stripes of paint, seemed the best path to take. The result is a recognizable but vibrantly blue-and-violet piece that will hopefully bring Liz and add a joyful touch to Liz and her husband's home.  It is a smaller piece, a 16X20 water-based oil on canvas, and once it is dry it will be ready for a trip of its own, to Kentucky!


New Commission: Venetian Masquerade

Jerry Gilley and Jenn Nye are a fun-loving pair, and when Jerry requested a second commission for his home and gave me carte blanche to decide the subject matter, the vision for this piece came to mind immediately.  It would continue the travel theme and rich colors of Roma, but this time it would include scenes of Venice and a portrait of Jenn dressed for a masquerade.  From a personal standpoint, it would combine the type of abstract work with which I began my artistic career with my new forays into portraiture.  I wanted to give Jerry and Jenn a piece filled with their interests, strong artistic symbolism to contemplate, and the allure and exuberance of a young beauty on her way to a party.  It is, as always, an honor to be able to create a new addition to their home and art collection that they can enjoy for years to come. 

Venetian Masquerade [above] is a 30X30 water-based oil on a thick gallery wrap canvas with the edges painted matte gold.  From first sketch to finished painting, this piece took about six weeks to complete.  Given the interest in Classical Studies that Jenn, Jerry, and I share, the piece has been signed "C. Wegman/SVV VIAPERSONA".

10 Reasons to Buy Art During a Recession

It is a most certain fact and I am not going to sugarcoat it.  Many people I meet who want to buy original art for their homes or commission a portrait will inevitably back down because they are hesitant about the price tag.  With many American families fearing the consequences of sequestration these days, this uncertainty has only heightened.  Artwork may seem like a luxury, something only the very wealthy can ever hope to own.  However, as a working artist, I have a few thoughts I would like to share on the matter.

1)  Art is good for morale.  Perhaps life is feeling a bit drab and dull.  You need that extra spark of inspiration to brighten your day or remind you of your beliefs, interests, or at the very least how beautiful the world can be.  To commemorate a special event, perhaps, or to bring good cheer to a special person.  Art has always had the power to uplift and enlighten, and that is not a mere luxury.  It is something worth spending money for.

2)  Buying original art helps your local economy.  Many artists are independent small business owners (for instance, Christina Wegman Fine Art is a sole proprietorship).  Buying directly from them puts money back into your community to keep it booming.

3)  This is a purchase that will give you joy for a lifetime.  An original work of art, and perhaps especially a commission, is something very personal, a family treasure.  Much like your professional wedding photos, a prized memento, or that cherry dresser that you inherited from your grandparents, it will stay with you and brighten your home for years to come.

4)  Art makes an excellent gift.  A painting can be quite a touching surprise, an incredibly meaningful expression of love and appreciation.  Just take a look at the story behind my portrait of Eugene and Georgia Baxley, and you will see what I mean!

5)  A commission may not be ready for months, or even a year, giving you plenty of time to finance the project wisely.  It takes me about a week to a month to complete a painting; my 30X40 Von Braun portrait took three months.  I have known artists who only do one piece per year, and others who complete a painting a day.  Regardless, if you commission a piece, it may not be ready for a month or more, so there is typically no obligation to pay right now, this instant.

6)  Many artists are willing to take payment in installments.  Those that are not used to taking installments may even make an exception for you if it is really necessary.  Some artists want half down at the start of a commission, but not always.  Never feel hesitant to discuss your options with the artist. 

7)  Many artists actually price their work quite reasonably.  I like to make it possible for people to buy my work.  I am most certainly not the only artist who feels that way.  While I must price my art so that I can make a living, and while those prices may rise occasionally, they still remain as accessible as a new suit or overcoat, with a 16X20 starting at $175.

8)  You are investing in the beauty of your home or office.  Just as you might buy vitamins, a certain brand of make-up or a flattering outfit to invest in yourself and look and feel your best, a work of original art is an investment in your home or office.  A declaration that you not only want the best, but that you want the real thing.  In a business setting, this can wind up being the difference between whether clients come back or not.  Nobody enjoys walking into a cold office with bare walls or mass-produced prints.  You will have a happier work space, and so will your colleagues and clients.

9)  This technically makes you a job creator.  And if an artist is able to continue and grow in his/her path, that painting you bought might wind up quite valuable!  Art is not my hobby.  I enjoy it thoroughly, but my vocation is my business, not my leisure activity, and should you contact me, I will act in a friendly, professional manner.  By purchasing my work, you are helping me to continue it.  You are saying that "artist" is a necessary and rightful career in society.  You are investing in me and saying that my work is useful now and could appreciate in value later.

10)  Fear should not hold you back from something you love.  I believe that if we spend the next few years trembling in fear about the economy, many opportunities to create beauty and success will be avoided.  Art can bring hope in a recession, can teach America a lot about respect, thrift, and creativity.  That can create new jobs for everyone, and more important, that mythic "quality of life" that Americans supposedly care so much about.  Why be so afraid?  Yes, live within your means; no, do not feel forced to take my advice on the matter, but one way or another, if you want something, you can find a way to have it.  If what you happen to want is art, you need not think that it is inaccessible.  Enjoy this life and carpe diem!