Reconnoitering Belfast, day two

Super-fast wee little sketch of tugboats in Belfast harbor. It came to an abrupt end (see below).
One of the tasks I love best is driving around scoping out painting sites for my students.
After stopping at the Fireside Inn to make sure everyone’s arrangements are in order for August, I started ferreting around Belfast proper.
Classic Maine promontory, outside Belfast.
If you’re looking for an archetypal mid-coast Maine community, you’ll look in vain. Every town and city has its own character; this is far more true than, say, the little villages strung like pearls along the Erie Canal. Rockland has an old brick Main Street that marches along its waterfront. Rockport curves around its harbor and ancient, defunct lime kiln. Camden is crammed full of luxury yachts, wooden boats, gracious inns (and cars). Lincolnville is a beach town. Northport looks like nothing from Route 1, but veer off on a side road and you might stumble across Bayside, with its lovely Victorian cottages marching down to the sea.
Quiet Maine moment, outside Belfast.
The Belfast area has been settled since around the time of the Revolutionary War, with the usual burnings and occupations of contested properties during our two wars with the British. In the 19th century, it developed into a shipbuilding center, a legacy still visible in the boatyards on the waterfront.
The risk you always take painting on a waterfront is that someone will park their boat right in front of you before you finish. Oh, well.
As wooden ship building faded at the turn of the century, the local economy shifted to seafood and poultry. Unlike many Maine cities, it wasn’t completely dependent on water transport; a spur from the Maine Central railroad was built in 1871. The poultry business is now gone, but the busy little city is now home to galleries and artists.

Sorry, folks. My workshop in Belfast, ME is sold out. Message me if you want a spot on my waitlist, or information about next year’s programs. Information is available here.

Some words of advice for the young artist

Last week I wrote about a young art school graduate’s struggles to make a career. In response, some of my successful artist friends have offered him advice.
Brad Marshall
Brad Marshall is represented by the Fischbach Gallery in Manhattan and has been featured in American Artist. He says:
Patience is required for success in art. It is rare to come out of art school and meet success right away. I struggled as an illustrator for about 8 years, taken various supplemental jobs along the way. I eventually found a good job as a billboard painter. It was another 12 years before my spare-time fine art led me to get a gallery. Living in an active artist’s community like Asheville is a good start. The support and fraternity of other artists should not be underestimated.
Just keep doing art. You can always find a corner of your home to set up an art table. It might restrict the size you work in, but shouldn’t keep you from your art.
Amy Digi
Amy Digi is a member of the United States Coast Guard Artist Program and has pictures in their permanent collection. She has shown extensively in the greater New York area and elsewhere. She says:
There has been a major change in the history of art called the Internet, which has never been exploited before—so take advantage of it!!
Find all free sites. There are hundreds but the basics are Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Most importantly, do not use these for personal information, but just business, like pictures of your art work. Buyers want to know you are not a Sunday painter.
Open a Paypal account so that after people look at your work they can purchase it easily. Paypal is free to set up, but they take a small percentage of each sale.
Make an appointment with a Small Business Administration (SBA) office and have them help you set up your business accounts. Once you sell work, you are a partner with your state, and they want their tax money.
I have a lot of sales and get interviewed from people solely from the Internet.
Michael Chesley Johnson
Michael ChesleyJohnson teaches workshops in New Brunswick and Sedona, Arizona. He is a contributing editor for The Artist’s Magazine and the author of many books and videos on plein air painting. He says:
Here are some words of advice:  Don’t let your feelings get hurt, and learn to roll with the punches.  Get some practical knowledge by finding a local ‘business’ art mentor who can teach a little about running a business, especially the marketing part.  Don’t just do art, but eagerly look to see what other artists are doing to make a living.   But above all, be true to yourself – the money will follow.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!

Must the visual arts be a pale imitation of pop culture?

A still life by Amy Digi, from her website, here.
While thinking of my many friends in the greater New York area who are accomplished painters—Brad Marshall, Amy Digi, Patti Mollica, Cindy Zaglin (to name just a very few)— I came across thisin the New York Times:
“For example, although I’ve lived in New York for close to five years, my only encounters with the work of Hanksy, a graffiti artist who largely makes his art in New York and whose signature pieces involve the clever mash-up of the actor Tom Hanks and the works of the British artist Banksy, have been through Tumblr and Instagram.
“‘MY popularity exists right now because of social media and the Internet,’ he said in a phone interview.
“Hanksy said that after he put up his first piece in New York, he snapped a photo and uploaded it to the Web. Not long after, he said, ‘Tom Hanks tweeted it and it snowballed and here I am, two and a half years later with three successful solo shows and a rabid following of fans online.’”
One of Hanksy’s ‘masterpieces,’ publicized in The Gothamist. In light of the content, is it OK to say it pisses me off?
A man who blatantly (and feebly) copies Banksy while trading off the name of a Hollywood actor gets three solo shows and an interview in the Old Grey Mare. Meanwhile, very fine painters labor in relative obscurity. I’m usually philosophical about this, but somehow this man’s sheer mediocrity annoys me.
Patti Mollica’s Into the Light, acrylic on canvas, from her website here.
“That’s not art; that’s a meme,” protested our own Sandy Quang (MA candidate in Art History).
The problem isn’t with the public, which devours anything that comes up in its search box. The problem lies with our so-called tastemakers, the gallery owners and columnists who perpetuate this mediocrity. Their training ought to give them the authority to make critical distinctions, but apparently they lust after notoriety as much as the Kardashians.
A Stream in the White Mountains, New Hampshire, by Brad Marshall, from his website, here.
My friend Jane recently sent me a link to this, which argues that art is not a meritocracy. That’s true, but does it have to be a pale imitation of pop culture instead?
August and September are sold out for my workshop at Lakewatch Manor in Rockland, ME… and the other sessions are selling fast.  Join us in June, July and October, but please hurry! Check here for more information. 

Lilac Preservation Project presents The Water Works Exhibition

October 3-5, 2008 — North side of Pier 40, Manhattan
Migrating Geese, by Carol Douglas, 12X9, oil, is among works by thirty New York artists.
New York, NY – The Lilac Preservation Project (LPP) is pleased to present The Water Works Exhibition, featuring the works of thirty artists from metropolitan New York and the Hudson Valley. The show is curated by Lilac’s artist-in-residence, Amy DiGi. All works are for sale.
Artists featured in the exhibition include: Liz Adams, Yasue Arai, John Baber, Amy DiGi, Carol Douglas, Victoria Estok, Mary Ann Glass, Marilyn Harari, Linda Hubbard, Rick Michalek, Maddy Morales, Sharon Nakazato, Rein Singfield, Christopher Staples, Ruth Ternovitz, Joe Vacara, Diane Waller, Marcia Wiley, Elizabeth Winchester, Kristin Zimmermann and others
The Lilac, built in 1933, is an historic, decommissioned US Coast Guard vessel that served as a lighthouse and buoy tender in New Jersey. She is the last surviving vessel in her class. (For details about her history and the mission and work of the LPP, see here.)
The Water Works Exhibition is open to the public Friday through Sunday, October 3-5, from 10 AM to 6 PM. The public is invited to a reception on Saturday, Oct. 4 from 6 to 9 PM. All Lilac exhibitions are open to the public free of charge.
Subway: Take the #1 train To Christopher Street. Walk west along Christopher Street to West Street (West Side Highway), cross to the Pier and walk south 2 blocks to Pier 40. Or take the #1 train to Houston Street and walk west along Houston Street directly to the Pier.

Bus: Take the 8, 10 or 21 bus lines. PATH directions: To Christopher Street Station. Walk west along Christopher Street to West Street (West Side Highway), cross to the Pier and walk south 2 blocks to Pier 40.

Car: Pier 40 is located 2 blocks south of Christopher Street off of West Street (West Side Highway).