Working On Round Panels

 If you’ve read my articles before or seen any of my work, you’ll have noticed that I work pretty much exclusively on round wood panels. This is a really unusual surface to work on, and not a lot of vendors offer round canvases or wood panels. 

Personally, I don’t like sharp corners and I don’t like boxing myself in, both literally and figuratively. There’s something very appealing to me about a round surface, and because my work is usually based in an abstract conceptualization of an extrasolar planet (a planet outside of our solar system) a more traditional shape or substrate quite literally wouldn’t work for me.

A round panel also has the added benefit of being really visually interesting. It’s a sharp contrast when surrounded by square and rectangular work on a gallery wall, and eye-catching when just hanging up by itself. 

Figuring out where to purchase these panels is the most difficult part of working on a round panel. They can be difficult to find and expensive when you do, but over the past year I’ve accumulated a list of a couple professional, reliable services that provide quality round panels. 

woodcrafter.com sells a lot of custom wood parts and shapes, and their wood circles are among the most affordable of all the options I’ve found. 

But with that affordability comes a lack of quality, while the wood has never bended or warped in any way like some cheap wood panels have been known to do, most professional panel supplies include keyholes or cradled backs on their panels, which woodcrafter doesn’t do. Because of that, you have to attach the hardware yourself, an added step and cost that might not be worth the savings. 

art-boards.com has a great size selection and excellent quality, but the price of their larger panels is higher compared to some other suppliers. But from what I can see, professional working artists trust this brand a lot and praise the quality of their panels. 

Crone’s Custom Woodworking has several options of round panels as well as round picture frames, and is a small business dedicated to providing excellent quality products. Their smaller panels are more expensive than Art-boards but offer more affordable options for larger panels. 

trekkel.com is the main retailer of artist grade round panels, and while it may seem like their products are the most affordable on this list, the cost of shipping often eliminates any savings you might get. But for some artists looking to buy traditional sized panels, paints, and brushes, Trekkel might be a convenient one-stop-shop for artists. 

If you’ve been feeling boxed in working with traditional sized surfaces, or want to try something new and create more professional-looking work, then I’d seriously suggest trying out round panels! You’ve got little to lose, and if you’re anything like me, an entire universe of possibilities to gain. 

What Inspires Me?

Here’s the piece that collector purchased, an original watercolor entitled “I Can Almost Reach”

Here’s the piece that collector purchased, an original watercolor entitled “I Can Almost Reach”

A collector emailed me yesterday and asked about the inspiration behind my work, specifically the piece “I Can Almost Reach.”

I realize now that the inspiration behind my work isn’t something I’ve publicly spoken at length about, which is honestly a grievous error on my part. So much of art is inherently personal, every painting I create is, in a way, a reflection of myself.

Aesthetic preferences, or the things we enjoy looking at and are attracted to, are also inherently personal, and some might argue reflective of some deeper thing within ourselves.

So, what inspires me? Why do I create the work that I do? Here’s a revised and extended version of what I told my collector, Ann:

Based on my likely flawed and biased understanding, the Drake equation is this equation that attempts to calculate the potential alien “civilizations” that could exist in the universe. Civilizations roughly meaning, in this case, some advanced species similar to mankind in intelligence and development. There are an almost incomprehensible number of galaxies. Within those galaxies there are even more stars, and orbiting around those stars are planets. Some of these planets are likely capable of sustaining life, and some of the planets capable of sustaining life might indeed have life.

Some complicated math stuff says that there is a high mathematical probability of other life being somewhere out there, basically.

Some of that life might be sentient, and here’s where the “civilizations” come back in. Based on the Drake equation, which is highly contested and some might argue fatally flawed, we can estimate a certain amount of intelligent civilizations that likely exist in the universe.

They’re probably out there.

Take a minute to let it sink in that millions of light years from earth, there might be intelligent life. Like something you could theoretically have a conversation with. Maybe discuss philosophy together.

But the thing is, we’re probably never going to find other sentient life out there in our lifetime. We’re just not technologically developed enough, and that life, if it exists, is likely very far away and difficult to contact.  

So we’re stuck in this place of knowing, or maybe hoping, that other advanced life might be out there, and we just aren’t advanced (or perhaps dedicated, if you consider NASA’s budget?) enough to find out. So we’re stuck, but we know the problem and the general steps we can take to reach a solution.

We can almost reach the answer.

For me, specifically, there’s almost nothing in the world I’d like to do more than to explore the stars.

How To Get That Big Break (And How to Deal With Failure)

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A big-name, rich collector buys all of your available work. A patron of the arts funds a year of studio practice. A NYC gallery wants to feature you in your very own solo show. Some white knight changes your life forever, sweeps you up on their horse and carries you off to fame.

Those are what we call big breaks in the art world.

But here’s the thing about big breaks, they don’t come looking for you, you have to make them yourself. And most often, big breaks often take the form of much smaller breaks that you find along the way, some might be larger than others, but they all push you further down a path that you are paving as you go along.

There’s no set way to become an artist. Some people go to art school and do residencies, others start a youtube channel and sell stickers on RedBubble. My point is, there is tremendous flexibility in how you choose to sell your work and the kind of artist you choose to be. Personally, while I’m drawn to big-name artists that sell work at tens of thousands of dollars, I prefer to make my work more accessible to the average person.

If you want to become a full time working artist, you have to want it. I don’t mean wanting it like you might want a bag of chips, I mean the kind of intense desire that fills you up inside. You have to want this so much that you’re almost completely unwilling to accept failure.

You have to be willing to create these opportunities for success yourself. For me, that meant sending hundreds of emails to galleries, art consulting agencies, staging companies, interior designers, curators, and when they didn’t respond, I’d wait six months and send them another email with my new work. It meant sending my work to online magazines, local papers, small-scale art and literature publications, etc. Starting out, I’d often spend more time trying to get my art out there than I would creating it.

My first break was actually displaying my work in a local coffee shop, then I got into a small-town art gallery, then a consignment relationship with an art consulting agency. I got all these opportunities in the first three months of opening my business, but I had only sold one painting so far. It’s honestly amazing how far a professionally worded email will get you. I wasn’t experienced, I was 19 and not even studying art in school, but I was asking. Having the courage to ask is vital.

But the more time I went without having sold a painting, despite these initial successes, an inevitable doubt starts to set in. Should I really be doing this? Is every dollar I spend on art supplies another dollar down the drain?

Then four months roll around, I sell a print and a small watercolor. Two more months, nothing happens. I reached a point where I was seriously considering quitting, so I used that insecurity and doubt as fuel to keep me going. I write more emails, make more work, get involved in my local art community. I get my work published in a magazine, a student newspaper article written about me, but no more sales. I revise my prices, update my website, create new and more experimental work, and while my online community of people who appreciate my art is growing, I’m still not making enough income to cover expenses.

But late November rolls around and I sign up for this craft show, completely free for vendors (which, if you’re into selling your work in craft shows you know it’s a rarity to not have to pay a $300 or above booth fee). While I don’t really expect my work to sell, I slash my prices down by about 30%, bring in a bunch of watercolor paintings and some of my more expensive original works, advertise the show on social media, and I wait.

In three hours I’m almost completely sold out. I had the second best day of profits out of everyone there, and that feeling of validation was incredible. People liked my work! And even better, they were willing to buy it!

I took every opportunity I was capable of handling (and some that I wasn’t but made it work anyway) and I made my own success.

Moral of this story? There are no big breaks that happen on accident, only the breaks that you make for yourself.

What Is A Body of Work?

What Is A Body of Work?

When I first began networking in the art world, a lot of art professionals asked me questions about my “body of work” and at first, I thought they just meant all of my work, like everything I’ve ever made.

But that was not the case.

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Review: Holbein Duo Aqua Oil Paints

Review: Holbein Duo Aqua Oil Paints

These paints? Absolutely amazing. They have the buttery texture that you get with traditional oil paints but none of the toxicity. They blend like an absolute dream with a bit of linseed oil and they clean up easily with water.

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