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Big News For FB 100


Details of the first 31/100 portraits
      

Big news for the FB 100: As the title of this project suggests, there are a hundred of you out there who have requested to participate in my project. The collection of portraits is small right now, but I am more excited each day I paint. I will be living with each of you this summer, getting to know more about you each day. I already know that the first seven are a group of selfish people. They demanded a lot from me this past week! I expect the next group will about the same. I am starting at least one new portrait a day but will sometimes start more than one. I would really like to work on ten portraits each week. I will not do this if the quality of my work suffers.

The second part of the project title (Comment - Like - Share), is not simply a play on the Face Book format. In reality, this part of the title refers to the importance of your role in this project. When you comment or like what I am working on, it fuels my energy and commitment. This part of the project is really open to anyone, not just "The FB 100." Keep commenting. I love to know what your thoughts are about the hints I am giving. As of 8:00 this Monday morning, there were 87 comments! I love it.

Now, more on the "Share" part of the project title. To paraphrase a well known cliché, you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the teacher. Even though I am an artist, I don't think I will ever quit being a teacher. I teach even when I am not teaching. I have visually shared both progress and completed hints with you this week as my sneaky little way to teach everyone about the process of painting. Notice in the first paragraph I was careful to say I will START a new painting each day. Paintings, like people, need rest. They can be painted quickly, but time is needed for study, digestion and sometimes tiny corrections before they are "finished." (That's the living with you part of the project.)

Enthusiasm is contagious. I readily admit your enthusiasm is a key element for me in the completion of this project. It is also a key element in the completion of YOUR part of the project. Yep, your part is to be more than just a profile photo or that of a "commenter" or a "liker." (This is where the other shoe falls and the drums start rolling.) You are also EXPECTED to bring or send a completed self-portrait to be a part of the exhibit in the fall! These portraits can be as simple or complex as you like. They can be line drawings, paintings, collage, photomontage or even photography. I know you will be bringing all levels of expertise to the project. Remember, a self-portrait is not always about the way someone looks. It is often a statement about who the person is. One of my favorite self-portraits is a photograph of my Sierra Hiking cup (now used with my oil painting for washing in compositions).

Your completed self-portrait needs to be the same size as the oil portraits:  8 x 8." Please check the following list for the names of the FB 100. Some of the 100 are your children or your "grands." If that is the case, please ask them to create a portrait of themselves using the 8 x 8" format. If you think they are too young, give them a crayon anyway and draw along with them. Ask them what their face looks like. Get them to name the parts of the face and then ask them to draw their own face. If they can hold a crayon without eating it, have them draw! (Even if their drawings are a little abstract to you, I want them to try.)

Now I am really excited! I can't wait to see your comments and responses to this part of the project! I plan to give more in depth updates each week via my blog, Dian McCray's Inner Voice. Sometimes I am a little too wordy for the word cap content on Face Book! Please subscribe to my blog for complete updates. I have other "surprises" for the project to be revealed at a later date.

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Back in a Few Days


My head is about to explode.  I cannot possible squeeze anything else into this last week of school.  I am not only closing my classroom for the year, but my department has down-sized by one fourth.  We are consolidating supplies, moving two classrooms into one larger single classroom nad dealing with the normal wear and tear of this time of year all at once.  My brain and my body will be back next week.  Meanwhile, this is a great time for YOU to pick up a pencil and sketch out a few ideas in your journal.  OK, not comfortable with sketching?  How about an innocent list of creative ieas for the next few months.  Hey it's a start.  If you spend 3 minutes each day reading my blog, spend 3 minutes each day for the next few days doing something creative for yourself.  Let me know what you come up with!  See you next week!
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The Most Direct Path To Success



GO BACK TO THE STUDIO!  The only real failure is failure to get started.  Simple.  Direct.  Effective. 
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Latch On To The Affirmative


Affirmation is in the Bank!

 


As long as we are talking about affirmations, I don't know of a better affirmation once in a while than good old fashioned money.  I love praise and pats on the back, but I am not able to get store credits for them where I buy my canvases and oils!  I have a sign up in my class room to remind students of this very thing.  It says SUPPLIES ARE NOT FREE. I am trying to teach my students to appreciate art but to also appreciate the need for supporting artists.  High school students have jobs and spend money just like the rest of us.  They pay for all kinds of things with their own money when they are important to them.   I currently have a student, a junior in high school, who just invested in one of my oil paintings at a recent gallery opening.  She and her mom split the cost of the painting, with the student "owning" the larger share of the investment.  Talk about an affirmation!
I would love to see more of my art on more walls and more money back into my business.  I am currently meeting my expenses. However, merely meeting expenses is not real success.  Now I am ready to actually MAKE money!
I don't think a desire to make money takes away from my credibility as an artist.  As a matter of fact, I think it shows that I am a serious artist.  If I didn't have to worry about how much it costs to make my art, I would have more time for creative work.  Love that studio time! Another true affirmation.
I have been following the advice of Alyson Stanfield for almost two years and have been 100% successful in every step I've taken.  That is a very big affirmation.  You can't get much better.  What Alyson says makes what I do even better.  Thank You, Alyson!  Her advice works so well, I even have my son following her blog for marketing advice.  He owns his own plumbing business!  It's even working for him. My next door teacher neighbor at school is a marketing teacher.  She is using some of Alyson's material for her high school marketing students.  Marketing is marketing.  Good advice is good advice.  Knowing when to latch on is just plain and simple. (It's now.)
Alyson has given me the confidence I need to run the business and marketing end of my art career.  Renee Phillips, The Artrepeneur Coach, suggests that you "hire yourself as the CEO of your career and delegate those tedious tasks to others."  I am not yet at that point.  But I do have the next best thing.  Alyson is in my corner, guiding me every step of the way  She takes a lot of that tedious out of those tasks. 
And by the way, I am so excited to hear from Alyson that she has a workshop coming up in mid October in Jacksonville.  I AM seriously LATCHING ON to that!   This afternoon, I put my first workshop money in my little antique  Uncle Sam bank; a symbolic commitment to the success of my future.
Believe in yourself and in everything you do. Enthusi-usiasm is contagious. If you are passionate about what you do, others will also be passionate about what you are doing. Impassioned followers buy what you are selling. They have the ability to make you successful. Include them in the things you do as if they are family. Your followers really are interested in following what you are doing. Don't keep secrets from them. Share things on a personal level with them. Make them feel a sense of ownership in what you are doing. Hold their interests by sharing regularly. 
It is important to tell your story through your art. It is equally important to tell your story with the words you speak and write, and the enthusiasm you share about your work. Take time to be personal with each person who comments on your art or attends an opening for your work.  Enthusiam is contagious.  Now latch on!


 

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Note to Self: I WILL Be a Success!


Accentuate the Positive (in progress)










Notes to Self: 
I will be a success 
I will keep a positive attitude  
I will surround myself with visual examples of success
I will eliminate anything negative from my life (images, thoughts and even people)
I will work EVERYDAY toward my goal
I will take chances
I will reward myself when I deserve it

I have copied various versions of these seven notes and have them posted in a variety of places as little daily reminders to keep on the right path.  I also like to work to music that keeps me on track.  Johnny Mercer was a man of powerful words. With just one verse of song lyrics, he gave all of us some pretty relevant words to live by:

You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Gosh, that pretty well sums it up. Dr. John adds his interpretation to a long list of other recording artists who have had fun with this song. I can work every day to this playing in the background.

Listen now.
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Visualize Your Success


 

If you are serious about taking advantage of opportunities, you first need to establish clear-cut goals. Be specific about what you want. Where do you want to be in a year? What do you want to be doing in 5 years? Write your goals down AND post them in a highly visible spot (like next to your computer, next to your easel, on the bathroom mirror, etc.). BELIEVE in there attainability. VISUALIZE your success. These things are the armor of successful people. Without the armor, you cannot possibly be prepared (there are those 2 words again) to take advantage of anything. Remember, anything can happen. Nothing is impossible.

Listen to Mustn'ts, child, listen to the Don'ts.
Listen to the Shouldn'ts, the Impossibles, the Won'ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

-Shel Silverstein
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Plan Your Work. Work Your Plan


Lord Baden-Powell

   

There are a few times each year that seem to be opportunistic for planning the future and wrapping up projects from the past. These opportunities seem to naturally congregate around the end/beginning of the year, birthdays (especially landmark birthdays), the end of a school year and the beginning of a new school year. Over the next few days, I will be sharing some ideas for just such opportunities. These ideas apply specifically to me as a teacher and artist. I think they could easily be applied to almost everyone.

Plan your work. Work you plan. This is a tactic I learned in a Boy Scout Woodbadge Training Course. This was the best "training for life" workshop I've ever attended. Take a look at the encapsulated course content. The skills stressed in the course are relevant to everyone, not just those in Scouting.

My Dad and brother were both scouts. My Mom was a Cub Scout leader. I was a Girl Scout, a Girl Scout leader, a Cub Scout leader and worked as a volunteer trainer with scouting for over twenty years. We can all learn a lot from the Boy Scouts. Their motto, "Be Prepared" just about says it all. Those two words can so easily be applied to every aspect of life: personal, spiritual, professional, financial.  Think about how each of these 4 areas is related directly to your art. If you take the time to plan and then follow through with your plan, you will almost always be prepared.

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"Painting Liberty"


Painting Liberty

 

"Life is a journey, not a destination."  (Ralph Waldo Emmerson)  As much as I love this quote, I sometimes have to remind myself that I have adopted it as my life philosophy.  I have had a difficult few weeks recently.  This time of year is always rough for teachers.  There are lots of deadlines, lots of attitude, and lots of thought about the rest that lies ahead.  This year I have also had lots of serious thought about retirement from teaching (after all, I HAVE been in the classroom for 30 years). Some school years end with lots of promise for the next year, some end with a TGIOver!

I am so blessed to work for a school system and school that is VERY supportive of the Fine Arts.  Every school in our system has both visual art and music at all levels.  Our tenured Fine Arts teachers are not the least bit worried about our jobs for next year, even at a time when other states are laying off core teachers.  Alabama, for once, is leading the good end of a list by retaining ALL tenured teachers.  We are blessed.  Even so, I still think about retirement, my effectiveness in the classroom after all these years and paintng every day in my studio...

This morning I found a post on my facebook wall from a student who had graduated almost 20 years ago.  We have stayed in touch to some degree over the years.  He posted the portrait of me (above) along with a statement about my ongoing inspiration for his painting.  Matt and his wife are both participating in my big idea project discussed on my blog May 6. I really needed to see and read this today. It was a great shot in the arm and the attitude.  Now I am re-energized and ready to end this school year as only a chapter in "the journey."  Take a look at more of Matt's work.

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Talk about a Sticky Monday...

You know it's going to be a sticky Monday when there aren't enough sticky notes on the pad to even get you started!  I am organizing my very full week today, a busy summer, a full fall and talking to the teacher retirement system about retirement options.  Sticky enough for everyone?  
I thought so.
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It's Mother's Day: Try a Little Tenderness


Whistler's Moose

It's the day before Mother's Day and my thoughts are naturally on my Mom.  Mothers have often been the subject for art through the ages.  I love the tenderness in paintings by Mary Cassatt.  Now there was a chick who could capture emotion in a painting!  My goals always include capturing emotion, character and  personality in the people and objects I paint.  Strangely enough, my guess is most people in general would have a difficult time conjuring any painted image by Mary Cassatt.  Some of you right now may even be thinking of Googling Cassatt to see what she painted. 
James McNeill Whistler could certainly take lessons from Cassatt and "try a little tenderness."  But of course, everyone can immediately remember the iconic image of "Whistler's Mother."  My earliest memory of the painting is from childhood:  a Bullwinkle-as-Mom parody. The American born Whistler was totally not interested in any narrative or tenderness conected to subject matter in this portrait.  He even insisted the painting be called "Arrangement in Black and Gray No. 1:  The Artist's Mother."   Now that's a tender title if ever I heard one!
Whistler's Mom usually hangs out in Paris at the Musée d'Orsay but is currently on loan in San Francisco.  If you live or plan to travel in that vicinity, be sure to go see the "Arrangement."  It opens May 22 in Golden Gate Park's de Young Museum.

Whistler's Mother in popular culture

  • The painting was featured prominently in the 1997 film Bean, when Mr. Bean, played by Rowan Atkinson was sent to the United States from England to oversee the installation of the painting in a California art museum. After sneezing on it, Bean wipes the painting with his handkerchief, but accidentally smears the mother's face with blue ink instead. Bean then attempted to clean the ink off using paint thinner, which washed off the ink, as well as the face. Bean ends up replacing the painting with a poster, while taking the original home with him and placing it over his mantelpiece, with a cartoon head drawn over the blank space where the mother's head had been. The version of the painting shown in this film is actually considerably smaller than the real painting.
  • In a photoshoot of Cycle 5 of America's Next Top Model, contestant Jayla Rubinelli was instructed to pose in a modernized version of the painting as an ad for Olay Quench lotion.
  • In the movie The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear one of the characters, Dr Albert S. Meinheimer, can only be told apart from his double by the birthmark in the shape of Whistler's Mother on his right buttock.
  • There is a reference to this painting in the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
  • There is a reference to this painting in the short story "I Stand Here Ironing" by Tillie Olsen.
  • Neil Diamond mentions 'Mama Whistler' in his 1970 song Done Too Soon.
  • A 1967 episode of Lost in Space entitled "A Day at the Zoo" features, as one of zookeeper Farnum B's exhibits, a woman he calls "Mrs. Whistler." She is costumed like the subject of this painting, although unlike the painting she sits facing to the right from the viewer's perspective. Taken with comments Farnum makes, the viewer is expected to assume that he has kidnapped the actual subject of the painting, although this is later revealed as untrue.

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