Monday, September 14, 2015

Not Everyone is an Artist

The Place to Be, Acrylic on Wood, 24 x 48 inches. In private collection.
Copyright 2006 Mary Gravelle. Prints Available.
There are folks out there that say everyone is an artist. I used to be one of them, not anymore.

Everyone is a cook, but not everyone is a Cook. Every DIY person has the potential to be a plumber, lawyer, gardener, artist, and whatever else they want to do themselves instead of paying a professional. However, not everyone that cooks, plumbs, fills out their own legal paperwork, paints something for their wall is a professional at that particular occupation.

To say everyone is an artist, demeans the profession of the Artist. It buys into the cultural feeling that artists do not deserve to make a decent living because they are somehow trading doing what they love and what feeds their soul for a right to live a financially secure life. Hogwash! Some even think that if an artist expects to get paid for their art, they have sold their soul to the Devil. Again, hogwash!

New Dawn on Boston Hill,
Acrylic on Canvas, 22 x 28 inches.
In private collection.
Copyright 2008 Mary Gravelle. Prints Available.
This has the potential to be a very deep conversation that includes questions like, "What is art?", "What is the motivation behind the work of art?", "Does the artwork have to serve some political, cultural, religious purpose in order to be worthy of being considered 'art'?" We could go down the rabbit hole with this one. For now, I just want to get the conversation started.

Everyone is creative, that is their birthright. I am a huge advocate of everyone realizing their creative power. There is a huge difference between being creative and being an artist. I think that is where the problem lies. Confusing creativity with art is a big problem. It is a heinous act against the professional Artist.

Lush Two, Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 16 inches. Original available at
Marketplace Cafe Sedona or by contacting me at
Copyright 2008 Mary Gravelle. Prints Available.
Yes, doing activities that are considered art such as painting, sculpting, singing, all lead to creativity, but not necessarily to an art career as an Artist. Art making feels good and can open the heart to the person hiding behind the cold wall of exterior living. Art making and creativity can lead one inside oneself to discover their creative power. Their creative power will bring new ways of doing their chosen profession. It will also bring a new passion to the way they live their life.

The way to turn this around begins with the Artist. Every Artist that has bought into this cultural nightmare, must tune into their hearts and souls and turn it around in their own head and change their belief.

Every person that is out there saying that everyone is an Artist must dissect their own belief and reasons why they are preaching this way of thinking.

Everyone is NOT an Artist. Stop thinking otherwise.

Do you think this a problem? How do you think we can change this cultural belief around and begin respecting the career of the Artist?

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle)
The handsome, Sir Kitty. Meow.
About the author: Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle) is an artist and writer who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved assistant, Sir Kitty.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Question of Artistic Style

Since moving to Sedona, I'm searching for my new style in terms of the
red rock landscape, which is different than my previous landscapes of
southern Arizona and New Mexico.
Image here: Dylan and Dexter Chillin' at Bell Rock, Acrylic on Canvas,
16 x 48 inches, Copyright 2014 Mary Gravelle
Commissioned work. Prints are available.
Is it important to have a distinctive style as an artist? Can an artist experiment over time, changing their style and still appear as a serious and professional artist? Or is the style of an artist inherent in their hand? Are they born with a particular style? Read on to find out more about this fascinating subject.

Discovering Artistic Style

Clara Lieu, Visual Artist and Adjunct Professor at RISD has this to say in her article, How do You Find Your Own Individual Style.
"The process of finding your style is very slow, and you need to develop serious skills in patience.  Allow your style to naturally evolve.  Attempts to force a style on yourself will end up looking contrived and dishonest."
She goes on to say that once an artist has discovered their style, it's okay to keep experimenting and reinventing your artistic style. She sites Picasso and how we went from Cubism to many different styles. She also makes Matisse an example because he went from painting in oils to cutting out paper.

My Sedona landscape style might be emerging with this 2nd
Sedona landscape painting.
Pilgrimage, 12 x 12 inches, Acrylic on Canvas.
Copyright 2015 Mary Gravelle. Original is available.
Contact me with serious inquiries:

What is Artistic Style

That begged the question, what is artistic style anyway? I was thinking that artistic style is the visual cue to the viewer that a certain artist had created it. The final artwork has a certain quality about it that defines it as an individual artistic style. But what does that mean exactly? Here is what Alyson Stanfield says:
"Your style is a combination of the mediums, technique, and subject matter you choose. It’s not just that you make contemporary quilts or that you paint landscapes. Those are genres. It’s that extra little thing you do to distinguish your work from that of other artists... For a painter it might be loose brushstrokes, impasto, or a repeated image. Alexander Calder added primary colors + black to organic shapes for his kinetic sculptures. Cindy Sherman transforms her own image in each photograph she prints. What are you known for?" –What is Artistic Style
Ms. Stanfield tells us that the artist must work hard to discover their style. And that's what I was thinking, too. I think the artist simply shows up to the work at hand and does the work. The work will progress. The artist will progress. A style will emerge eventually. She wrote an article on how to go about finding your artistic style, 7 Steps to Finding Your Style, which might be helpful.

One style I adore utilizes acrylic mediums, mixed-media,
layering, putting on, and sanding off, a very multi-
layered approach to painting.
New Day, 12 x 12 inches, Mixed-Media on Wood,
Copyright 2015 Mary Gravelle. Original is available.
Serious inquiries contact me at
Prints are also available.

Artistic Vision

Thaneeya McArdle's idea of style is one I like:
"It is very important that beginning artists focus on developing their own style, and find their own unique way of expression. An artist's personal style usually progresses as the artist gains more confidence through experience, expands their database of knowledge, and acquires more skill with the materials... While it is perfectly okay to work in a variety of styles, it is generally best to focus on the ones(s) you like best, in order to fully develop your artistic potential within that style. Dabbling with different styles is a great way to experiment, but to really flourish as an artist, you need to focus on a style or two that you feel really allows you to express your inner vision." –Explore Art Styles
Soft chalky pastel was my
first medium. My style had to do
with bold color, curved lines, and
organic shapes.
That last statement about finding the style that allows you to "express your inner vision," is one that sticks in my mind. So, then, the question becomes, what is your inner vision that wants to be expressed? What style or styles can best express that vision? Experiment with different styles and land on the one that can carry you throughout your art career without becoming boring. Remaining open to the creative process will allow fresh new approaches to create growth in your work over time while remaining true to your artistic vision and expression. Your style supports your vision; it gives unique expression to your inner artistic vision. Vision, then, becomes the guiding light leading you to your personal artistic style.

Well, I Just Don't Know

All of this sounds great. I still need to research and investigate this topic further to settle it in my own artistic mind. I don't know if I have a distinctive artistic style. I think it has to do with color and the way I apply it and use it. In my early days, it was about using curving lines and shapes, as seen to the left. Artistic style sounds rather complicated at this point.

And, in terms of vision, artistic vision, does an artist actually have one or does that evolve over time too? I don't know if I have a vision so much as a curiosity about certain subject matter or a yearning to experiment with different media to see what it will do.

So, I'm not sure I settled anything here. lol... the investigation continues.        

And What Do You Think?

What's your idea of artistic style? If you are an artist, do you have one? How did you develop it? If you are a collector, how important is it to you to collect an artist who has their own distinctive style?

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle)
The handsome, Sir Kitty. Meow.
About the author: Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle) is an artist and writer who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved assistant, Sir Kitty.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Walls Without Art are Depressing

My bathroom before and after hanging my painting.
Shown here: Magic of Chaco Canyon, 12 x 12 inches,
Mixed Media on Wood, framed, copyright 2009 Mary Gravelle.
This painting has such depth that it takes my mind away to magical
places like Chaco Canyon that inspired its creation.
Living with walls without art is depressing. Imagine staring at blank walls. If you walk around a house with no art on the walls, there is no life force available to you but your own. So, you had better have strong life force if you live in such a place!

Art makes us more considerate thinkers. – 8 Reasons Why Art Improves Your Thinking

I recently took many of my paintings off my walls to exhibit them in other places. Oh my, the place became depressing to live in. My walls are white. My paintings energize me and the space they hang in. I had to scour my storage to find pieces to hang quickly. It feels so much better in here now that I took the time to do that.

That is one of the reasons why Damian Bruno, the realtor who asked me to add color to his house listing wanted paintings hanging in the house for his open house. When I walked into the Sedona dome home, there were expansive white walls. Yes, it needed color! My paintings did the trick. He was happy. The home was happy.

"The effect of walls on residents is almost subliminal, and these days, with so many modern ways of improving the feng shui of our surroundings, there is simply no excuse to get careless about our walls." – Article on Creating Fabulous and Auspicious Walls

Before and After: My front door entryway.
The painting shown here is an experimental piece I did
so many years ago I don't remember what year I painted it.
I have always loved it. It adds good cheer to the entry of my space.

"Art accesses some of the most advanced processes of human intuitive analysis and expressivity and a key form of aesthetic appreciation is through embodied cognition, the ability to project oneself as an agent in the depicted scene," said Christopher Tyler, director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center, during the related panel discussion.–Research by Dana Foundation: How Engaging with Art Affects the Human Brain

What is your experience with blank walls? How has art energized your space?

My art is ready and available to energize your space. Check out my website for your browsing pleasure.

Until Next Week

• Create art
• Appreciate art
• Buy art

Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle)
The handsome, Sir Kitty. Meow.
About the author: Braylee Rush (Mary Gravelle) is an artist and writer who resides in Sedona, Arizona with her beloved assistant, Sir Kitty.