Monday, September 6, 2010

"Don't Play It Safe"

I am always reading "art" and marketing related articles and once in a while I come across one that reflects my feelings exactly. I would like to share with you one of these recent articles, written by Keith Bond. Enjoy!

Don't Play it Safe
by Keith Bond

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

I recently read something from Alyson Stanfield that I would like to address today. She wrote:

“Stop playing it safe. Allow yourself to experiment and make mistakes. It’s the only way to move forward. If you stay in your comfort zone all the time, you won’t grow as an artist or as a businessperson. Get uncomfortable and take some risks.”

I like this statement. A lot.

I think each of us has times when we are a little afraid to do something. I know I do. Sometimes it is an idea for a painting that is a stretch for me. Sometimes it is a marketing idea. Sometimes it is another medium.

Everyone has these hurdles that need to be overcome. It is healthy to stretch yourself. It is good to push your limits. As Alyson points out, it’s the only way to grow.

Think of your art and business as moving water. Moving water is clean and refreshing (at least here in the Western U.S.). Water that doesn’t move forward – water that stagnates – becomes dirty and begins to stink. Don’t let your art stagnate. Don’t let your business stagnate. Don’t just play it safe – if you do, you quit moving forward. And I’m sure you don’t want to stink.

A friend of mine has the following quote on his office wall. It was written by the prolific and great Anonymous (I am sure someone else wrote it, but Anonymous gets the credit).

“Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Remember, the ark was built by an amateur.

But a group of professionals built the Titanic.”

Here is a short list of some things you may do to push yourself.

- Learn your medium better.

- Learn a new medium

- Try a new technique.

- Attempt a collaborative work.

- Try a new genre or subject.

- Experiment with a new color palette.

- Write a blog.

- Talk about your art.

- Try new marketing ideas.

- Write about your work.

- Re-write your bio.

- Put your portfolio together to show that gallery.

- Send that follow-up letter.

- Make that telephone call you have put off.

- Send a “nice to meet you” card to a new contact.

- Teach

There are thousands of other ideas (but this late at night, my mind is mushy). I am sure you have had some. But maybe you have been hesitant. Give it a try. Take that risk. Don’t simply play it safe. Push yourself. What do you have to lose? What will you gain by trying? What will you gain by not trying?

Best Wishes,

Keith Bond

This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by Canvoo,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August Happenings

Where has summer gone? As I work on this final update of summer I find it impossible to believe that September is right around the corner. I feel like I've been extremely busy this summer but what have I done?!

One of my summer highlights was being invited by the beautiful Dana Gallery ( in Missoula, Mt to participate in their 8th Annual Paint Out. In July I joined 16 artists from around the country for a week of intense painting, good food and friendship. I also mixed it up a bit by painting only in acrylics (a medium that I am continuing to learn), a true challenge in the hot, dry Montana heat! Friends of the gallery opened their homes, ranches and barns to us and the support from the different communities around the area was unbelievable! I can't wait for next year!

Looking ahead at fall I have some exciting events on the calendar:

2010-Paint the Parks

This week I have packaged three paintings to ship to Kansas for the prestigious "2010-Paint the Parks" Exhibition. Paint the Parks is America's leading competition designed to illustrate the beauty and significance of America's national parks. Paintings depict the diverse treasures-both natural and cultural-that are preserved and protected by the National Park Service nationwide. Entries are juried by a panel of nationally recognized arts professionals and the top 100 paintings and top 50 selected small works will tour the country through February 2012. My painting titled, "Olympic National Park Sky" will be touring with the top 100 and my paintings titled, "Trailside-Zion National Park" and "Winter Retreat" will be traveling with the Paint the Parks Mini50! I am honored to be included in this exhibition.

"Olympic National Park Sky" is shown above

Exhibition Schedule:

October 1, 2010 to January 9, 2011
Old Courthouse Gallery
St. Louis, MO

April 15, 2011 to June 15, 2011
Kolb Studio
Grand Canyon, AZ

July 1, 2011 to October 1, 2011
Courthouse Galleries
Portsmouth, VA

November 19, 2011 to February 19, 2012
Longmont Museum and Cultural Center
Longmont, CO

Please visit for a complete listing of participating artists and paintings!

Looking ahead at select fall exhibitions that I will be participating in:

October 2010: Group Show @ Artique, Ltd, Anchorage

November 2010: Small Works Invitational @ Howard Mandville, Kirkland, WA

November 2010: Invitational Small Works Show @ Planet Bronze, Bozeman, MT

December 2010: Christmas Group Show @ Dana Gallery, Missoula, MT


October 22 and 23, 2010
Whidbey Island Fine Art Studio

I'd better get to work!!! Thanks for viewing my blog and, as always, I welcome your comments!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New Show in Washington State Opening With Friend and Fellow Artist, David Marty

“Sunscreen” by Michele Usibelli is on display at Cole Gallery through July 31.

On display: Cole Gallery, 107 Fifth Ave. S, Edmonds, hosts an exhibit of July’s featured artists, Michele Usibelli and David Marty, through the end of the month.

Gallery hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, noon-5 p.m. Sundays

Admission: Free

Info: 425-697-2787 or

Jocelyn Robinson, News editor
Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summertime Art at Cole

Do you feel it? The sun, the warmth, the fresh air. It’s summer, and it has finally come to relieve South Snohomish County residents after months of dark. And it’s definitely a good feeling.

Artists Michele Usibelli and David Marty do what they can to capture the essence of that feeling with their oil paintings, allowing the sensation of rest from the rain to be felt all year round. Both Edmonds-based artists present new works July 1-31 at Cole Gallery in Edmonds.

Usibelli’s brush strokes harness an energy not tapped by many. Filled with florals and faces, she brings viewers back to remembered moments of joy.

“I’m trying to recreate an experience,” Usibelli said in a press release. Evoking comforting memories, the spontaneity of work lies in the various volumes of oil on the canvas. She creates thick strokes that fade into thin and thinner strokes, which end in boisterous texture.

“It gives you visual relief not to have it all the same,” Usibelli explained. “I want to celebrate different types of applicants and not pigeonhole myself in one type of style or subject.”

“Her pieces are vibrant and luscious,” gallery owner Denise Cole said in a press release.

Marty also celebrates style and subject as he explores the serene scenes of the Northwest.

“I’ve been to many stunning places in the world and few can compare to the beauty of the Northwest,” he said in a press release.

Marty is one of the premier landscape painters in the Northwest, according to Cole. “You just want to drink David Marty’s art in, filling your lungs with calm and your eyes with wonder.”

“[Painting],” Marty said, “is the best language I can communicate in.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Developing Your Individual Style....

I have been on the road and consumed with a myriad of things lately and my Blog entries have taken a goal when I began blogging was to share the highs and lows of one artists' journey by relaying stories and anecdotes about this business of "being an artist". The article below was waiting for me in my in box this morning and mirrored exactly my belief about creating great art and achieving your personal success as an artist. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Developing Your Individual Style
by Lori Woodward

Today's Post is by Lori Woodward, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. She is also a contributing editor for American Artist's Watercolor and Workshop magazines and she writes "The Artist's Life" blog on American Artists' Forum. Lori is a member of The Putney Painters, an invitational group that paints under the direction of Richard Schmid and Nancy Guzik. Find out how you can be a guest author.

I was going to write about art advertising this week, but as I was looking at a site called Art Renewal Org, I was hit with the realization that before we spend big bucks on ads and competitions, we artists need to feel both passionate and confident about the style and subject matter we choose.

Know Who You Are

The main idea that hit me -- there's no sense in building a body of work that satisfies another person's or group's passion. I was talking to another artist recently, who has been bewildered by taking a variety of classes with teachers who steered her in opposite directions. Now, there's nothing wrong with following a style of painting that a certain teacher advocates - as long as you adore that style.

We artists might be happier if we take time to find out who we are, what we love and journey down the path that will bring us the most satisfaction. I like to work somewhat realistically, and my favorite types of paintings are landscapes. I am able to paint portraiture and still life well too, but in order to be really happy as an artist, I might as well develop my skills in the area of subject matter that gives me the most joy, and work with my tools in a way that feeds who I am.

Be Who You Are

I have friends who paint abstractly. Nothing wrong with that!!! I admire artists who can intuitively create an intriguing abstract composition out of their head. In fact, there are lots of styles of art that I admire - I don't necessarily believe that there is only one school of valuable art. BUT, when it comes to my painting, I don't enjoy abstract or impressionistic painting as much as I do rendering details. I actually get bored working abstractly, while some of my friends would end up in the loony bin if they were forced to paint in the detailed style that I enjoy.

We're all different, and that's what makes art so much fun. For every kind of art, there is a collector. What I'm saying here is find out who you are as an artist, and try not to let others tell you what style you "need" to paint in. If you like using a small brush, by all means - use it. You are not a artistic sociopath if you like whittling away at details. The opposite is also true. If you abhor detail and must attack the canvas with a house- painting brush, go for it!

Sometimes, although not always, the easiest way to find out who you are or will be as an artist is to find out what kind of art you love to look at. Your tastes will probably change throughout the years, but knowing what speaks to you deeply is a great place to start. I regularly look through art magazines and tear out pages of work that stops me in my tracks.

For Every Type of Art, There are Collectors

It's important not to let negative or judgmental thoughts creep in while you're investigating your likes and dislikes. Often, while looking at artwork, internal thoughts like, "but people aren't buying that style now a days", or "I could make more money if I just painted like 'so and so'". This kind of thinking may lead to increased sales, but not to contentment, and if an artist isn't happy with his or her process -- why be an artist at all? Even commercial and portrait artists can develop their own style.

You can't please everyone anyway, so ignore all the worrisome thoughts that push you this way and that, and concentrate on what delights you. When you're sure of what that is, pursue it with all the energy you've got. Learn from masters of that style - past and present. Then when you've got a growing skill set, you're ready to develop your own statement and way of working. Something that is truly yours and will be recognized as your work even from across the room in a gallery. Remember, collectors like to see a thread of continuity throughout your body of work.

So next time you are wanting to follow your natural bent, ignore fleeting and worrisome thoughts that hold you back from doing that. We are artists, not trend chasers. It's entirely possible to make a living with any style of work, so why not let your individual preferences drive your work, not fads? You'll definitely be happier and most likely more successful in the long run.
This article appears courtesy of FineArtViews by Canvoo,
a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists,
collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art).

This article originally appeared at:

For a complimentary subscription, visit:


Monday, March 15, 2010

Staying Connected

I love being an artist, I love the creativity, the flexible hours, the peace I feel when I am creating but there are times when I desperately miss the camaraderie and the ability to dialogue with my peers. Many artists have formed painting groups and these are wonderful, whether it be weekly studio sessions or a group to go out and paint plein air with. But for many artists those options aren't available and we can find that those same attributes that we enjoy about our profession, the solitude and seclusion, can also be a curse!

I wanted to share a few resources that keep me "connected". I look forward to the arrival of these articles and letters in my in-box and always find them informative and thought provoking. The first is the "Fine Art Views Daily Newsletter" ( Clint Watson knows the art world and I find his art marketing wisdom and those of his guest writers always spot on. The second resource comes from art biz coach and marketing guru Alyson Stanfield ( Alyson has a handle on this business of being an artist, from blogging to organizing your studio & life to how to write a stand out artist statement, I find her classes and information invaluable! Last but not least is Robert Genn's Twice Weekly Letter ( Robert's insights and discussions about the trials and tribulations of being an artist always seem to resonate with my experiences.

These are just three of the resources that I use on a weekly and daily basis to keep me up to date and keep my head in the game. We are not alone in our endeavor to create great art and these help me to stay focused and on track!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Thanks!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Painting Demonstration

I have just completed this quick study and wanted to share it.......while there are small things that I would still like to address in this piece, I feel like I accomplished my initial goal which was to work on mixing beautiful "greys". When placed correctly against the rich colors in the focal point, these "greys" allow those rich colors to really "pop", leading the viewers directly where you want them to go. That is one of the primary goals of the artist, to lead the observer through your painting along the path YOU choose for them.......let me know what you think!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Michele Usibelli Workshop Announcement

Greetings to my artist friends, collectors and art lovers! 2010 has definitely crept up on me and I am finally getting my workshop schedule ironed out! I will be teaching a 3-day class in Anchorage April 26, 27 and 28th and will also be adding a workshop here at my studio in Edmonds on Friday and Saturday, May 21 and 22.

The focus of this workshop will be on drawing the figure which will include one day of painting from a live model. It should be a challenging contemplation of the human form! All skill levels are encouraged. The cost for the two days is $185 which includes all modeling fees. Space in my studio is limited which ensures an intimate and relaxed environment. Please contact me if you are interested or would like more information. Hope to see you there!

Monday, February 8, 2010

"Worn Leathers"

After my post yesterday I received feedback from some of you wanting more information about the portrait painting that I included."Worn Leathers", 18"x14", oil on canvas, was born out of my pursuit to capture a moment in time, re-creating a snapshot of everyday life. Never leaving home without my camera, I was able to convince members of a large biker group to pose for me on the ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. The painting, "Worn Leathers", was the result of that experience. Encounters like these pepper my life and form the foundation for my creative process.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Staying Focused

As I get going on this drippy, foggy Sunday I am sitting here with my steaming cup of coffee thinking "where do I start?". It's Sunday, the proverbial day of rest, so why does my "to do" list include; write a press release for Women Painters of Washington, write up a job description for the Publicity Chairperson position I am vacating in a few months, update my website with new information, send out a press release about my inclusion in the newly released Best of America Oil Artists, Volume II, clean my house, go to the store to get food for the Super Bowl Party this afternoon, attend my daughters 2nd basketball game this weekend at 4:30pm (a fatuous planning mistake as it occurs right after kick off!), wash the ski clothes that have been piled in the garage since our outing on Friday and, last but not least, PAINT!...all this and I am missing my son's basketball game right now!

I am much more productive when I am busy but sometimes I feel like things are out of control. That's when I need to step back and keep repeating my mantra, stay FOCUSED! If I can prioritize my day and break it down into smaller, manageable parts I can accomplish everything that I set out to do.

So, prioritize your day, whatever that may include, try to stay focused and don't sweat the small stuff!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stay tuned....I have finally given in to my temptation to chronicle the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a professional artist! I am still trying to put it all together, so we will take this journey together!