Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: The End of A Decade and the Top Ten Things Overheard in My Art Booth

Cat Tesla at a show in March 2019
At the beginning of this decade, I started keeping track of stuff. Things like what happens at art shows, how many paintings I sold, when they sold, to whom they sold. I learned a lot about art shows and realized I did way too many of them. But I painted a lot of paintings that I'm proud of. I met a lot of incredible artists and collectors who I now call friends. 

During all the shows, especially from this past decade, I thought that I had certainly heard it all after 22 years. But I was wrong. 

Without further adieu, here are the top 10 things overheard in my booth in 2019:

1.  Ah! Whaddya know? She's selling Tesla's.

2.  Man looking at a triptych in my booth. "Boy, I really like your trilogy! I think if I get them, I'd like to have the entire trilogy."

3.  My husband gives me a kiss at a show. A minute later, a man comes up to me and asks: 
     "Is this the kissing booth? Or is that just for him (pointing to my husband)?"

4.  Cat, I'm not in the market to buy, but if I was, I would get the big painting there in the back. I know I could look at that for a very long time and be content. 

5.  Two 10 y.o. boys walk into my booth and look around for a long time (unusual for 10 y.o. boys!). One leans over to the other and says:  "This is truly the definition of modern art." 

6.  I love your colors. Is that gesso you put all over them to make them shiny? 
     Me:  um, no. It's varnish.

7.  Do you sleep in these tents overnight?

8.  I want to do something creative so I'm getting ideas from your work. Do you make a lot of money?

9.  Older man:  I'm going to name my next child Cat Tesla. I would name it that, really, if there were going to be any more. Your paintings are beautiful!

10.  Man:  Hi, I like your work. You have some really interesting sections in your paintings. Is that glazing?
Me:  Yes it is. 
Man:  Opens his phone to show me his paintings, about 6 total. The paint appears runny and drippy. "Know how I get this effect? I put a bunch of paint on the canvas, then take them into the back yard and flip them over into the stream. Then after awhile I take them out and get this cool stuff."
Me:  no words (what about the fish???)

Wishing you much health and happiness in 2020 :)
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018: An Overview & The "Top 10 Things Overheard in my Art Booth"

"Chrysalis Series" Mixed media on birch, 80"x75",
©2018 Cat Tesla
Northwestern Medical, Chicago, IL
2018 has been a big year for me. Lots of large paintings sold around the United States, Canada, and Europe. I'm still pinching myself.

Every day I head into the studio, I'm never really sure how each painting will end up. My "Chrysalis Series" is an abstraction of nature. I like to start with an automatic drawing and then respond to it. My process is inspired by the work and teachings of Franz Kline's concept of automatism. He essentially believed in first ‘pouring out’, then editing. I begin with an automatic drawing in graphite and wax crayon, then translucent layers are applied, followed by more mark making (drawing) & more paint layers. Various mediums are utilized to build the surface.The resulting smaller paintings are windows looking outward, while the larger paintings are abstract nature-scapes you can walk right into.

I'm also still painting my "Meditation Series" of ethereal landscapes and waterscapes. To my delight, many collectors have both series. I know I'm blessed.

As I'm getting older I'm feeling the physicality of being an artist. Arthritis in my hands has led me to acupuncture. I've increased my exercise and yoga to keep myself healthy. Standing on your feet for 10 hour studio days is hard.

On the other hand I keep getting more ideas. I have other bodies of artwork I'd like to create. Who knows if I'll live long enough to get to them all? I'm also interested in teaching and helping other artists. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the beginning of 2019.

I was invited back to the Chateau Orquevaux Art Residency in October of 2018. It was another incredible opportunity to not only create new paintings in a fabulous setting, but to also meet new artists from around the world who I'm proud to call my friends.

This is my 22nd year as a professional artist. I'm grateful beyond words to be able to make a living doing what I love. And each art show experience continues to be an adventure. People say the darnedest things! (You can't make this stuff up:). 

Cat Tesla at the Plaza Art Show in Kansas City.
Without further adieu, I present to you my "Top 10 Things Overheard in My Art Booth" for 2018:

1. Is this art show here every day?
2.  Makes me feel like dancing.
3.  These are lovely! I'm glad you got out of the medical field.
4.  "Are you painting faces?" (Me:  um, no. What are you talking about?)  "Well I'm from Indiana and in Indiana if you're sitting in a chair under an umbrella like this you're painting faces!" (Me:  good to know!)
5.  These have sort of a Monet look.
6.  Since you're painting hangs over the couch, we're now sleeping there.
7.  These are exceptional! Best we've seen in the show.
8.   (Said to my husband) Is everything for sale? How much is she? 
9.  I give massages and back stretches. Do you need one?
10.  Is this your work? I love shabby chic.

Thanks to everyone for a great year! I wish you peace and blessings in 2019, and hope to see you at one of my art shows!

All My Best,

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Top Ten Things Heard in My Art Booth in 2017

Each year it gets better and better. When I'm at an art show, people never cease to amaze me. The space in an art show booth is small, so everything - and I mean everything - can be heard.
Cat Tesla
That said, here are my "top ten" conversations, questions, and comments overheard in my art booth in 2017:

10.  There's too much water in these paintings.

9.  I'd like to lay in bed and stare at that painting with one of those sound machines in the background.

8. Well, this is turning into an expensive date night.

7.  Do people ever cry when they look at your work? This one is just so beautiful, I've got tears coming down.

6.  Wife:  I can paint like that. 
     Husband:  (laughing)  Nooooooooo, you can't!

5.  Lady covering one eye:  do you see a face in this one?

4.  Do we have to meow at you?

3.  Two women are in my booth. "So what is this? Oil?"
     Me:  "I use a little bit of everything. Graphite, wax crayon, ink, acrylic, oil and a little mayonnaise.
     Two women:  "Huh, well, I guess the mayonnaise makes it
more creamy?"

2.  I got really drunk last night and bought a couch online. Otherwise, I'd get these. Hope my husband doesn't kill me when he gets home.

And, the number one question heard in my art booth in 2017:
1.  So you guys are kind of retired, and just doing this for fun?

Monday, October 23, 2017

My Art Residency in France

I just returned from a 2-week art residency at the Chateau d’Orquevaux in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, about 3 hours east of Paris. Seven other artists from Australia, Canada, and the U.S. were in this 2 week block. All different styles, ages, backgrounds. It was a privilege to be around such talent. I’m proud to call them friends.

Chateau d'Orquevaux

The owner of the chateau, Ziggy Attias, is a metal artist from New York who splits his time between France and the U.S. Each artist has a beautiful – and I mean beautiful – bedroom in the chateau, plus an art studio either on the third floor atelier, in one of 2 large stables-turned-art-studios, or in the main floor salon (entitled “Esther’s bath salon”, named for a huge  wall tapestry). An eclectic couple from the village not only prepare the champagne welcome dinner when you arrived, but they also take care of house-keeping and upkeep of the Chateau.That said, we saw Ziggy on many days mowing the expansive lawn and weeding and pruning the garden. It’s a team effort.
Welcome Dinner

My husband Simo joined me on the trip and stayed in a “small” castle in the village a couple blocks from the Chateau. We had breakfast there each day which consisted of homemade French pastries, fruit, bacon and eggs, cheese, croissants, fresh-squeezed orange juice - you name it! Once Ziggy found that Simo was a musician, he made some calls and obtained an accordion from the mayor (from his closet of course). My husband, who explained each song in French - gave a concert for the village of 70 in Orquevaux - the party lasted into the wee hours.

Le Studio d'Art de Cat Tesla
As for art-making, there was a load of it. The beauty of Orquevaux and the surrounding areas was breathtaking. And quiet! The clear night sky gave us a show of the entire milky-way. I couldn’t have been more inspired. I had no show commitments or deadlines, and I was able to simply escape into the beauty of the French countryside, and PAINT. My heart is full. This was a dream come true!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The State of FLOW

Tesla's studio

Flow is the buzz right now. Are you in the know about flow?

If you haven’t heard, “flow” is the term describing heightened creativity, increased performance, and accelerated problem solving. Scientists are studying just what “it” is that puts a person into flow.

When people make art, they’re often in a state of flow. For me it’s when I no longer hear things around me, or notice things going on around me, ideas come easily, and I’m completely absorbed in the creative process. Time flies and I end up with a new painting completed.

I love reading and listening to audio books while on the road, and this summer I recently began reading “Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALS, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work”, by StevenKotler & Jamie Wheal. There’s also an associated website called the FlowGenome Project, which details the authors’ research. With a background in science (I was formerly a genetic counselor on faculty at Emory University before I officially started my career as an artist) I’m fascinated with both the research and concept of flow.

Since my move into a new home, I’m also feeling a shift in my work and the way I work. Slight differences in approaches to creating a painting, result in slight differences in outcomes. You’ll probably start to notice this – it’s already showing up in the work.

Here’s to a summer filled with FLOW!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

First Datenight at New Home

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”– Mahatma Gandhi

Change is good. It sends you into new directions both physically and spiritually. I recently moved into a new home, which includes moving my home art studio. My life was packed in liquor boxes (but not a drop of booze to be found). How does one accumulate so much stuff in a lifetime? In preparation for the move, we needed to get rid of some of that stuff, so we had 3 garage sales. At one we met a young veteran and his wife and son who were moving into a small rental home but had little money and even less food. When we learned they were sleeping on the floor, my heart broke. We knew what we had to do. My husband and I loaded a queen bed, a set of sheets, blankets, and pillows, plus 4 boxes of food into the art van, and personally delivered it to them.

Two days before the close of our home that we were selling, my Dad had a cardiac cath and afterwards my Mom called to say he had to have triple by-pass surgery the next day. Thankfully we arrived at the attorneys’ office two days later with the news that my Dad’s surgery went well. He’s currently in cardiac rehab and doing fantastic.

After the close of our previous home, we next headed to an art show that ended with storms and a threat of a tornado. I don’t think we’ve broken down our booth and packed the art into the van any quicker.

Finally, we closed on our new home last Monday. I’m ready to get off the roller coaster, sleep a bit more, and settle into my new space. Even through all of the stress my head is filled with new painting ideas. Creativity has been a coping mechanism my entire life. Thank God.