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Monday, October 15, 2012

Dispelling the Artist Stereotype

Letter from your Humble Blog Hostess…

This blog posting is dedicated to every crazy artist who finds themselves disorganized, discouraged, and lacking hope.  To all creative souls stuck in artistic purgatory; somewhere between amateur and entrepreneur…remember….

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” — Stella Adler.

Dispelling the Artist Stereotype: Kathleen Cavender mixes business with color

By Joy Mizzoni
Team Support Specialist

“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” Andy Warhol
Artists get away with a lot of crazy stuff. They lock themselves in glass boxes and dangle precariously naked above metropolitan streets. They have been known to slice off an ear or two.   They lament. They explore. Moralistic and determined, we artists continually battle a milieu of stereotypes.

Thus begs the question, how important is balance?

Monetary success is an essential ingredient to independence.  You can’t help others if you won’t help yourself.  Try making the world a better place with an empty tank of gas, an overdrawn bank account, and no electricity.  

If your art makes money, you can create more art. 

It’s pretty simple. 

The more time you create, the more art you produce
Most artists have day jobs.  We like our day jobs. We need our day jobs. 

We hope it’s only temporary. 

For some of us, our art careers may never bloom larger than a colorful hobby. Others have harnessed their creative energy and intertwined it with solidly, proven business strategies.

One such artist is Kathleen Cavender. 

Kathleen is kind of a big deal. Not just because she was recently voted best artist in Spokane by readers of Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living magazine and not only because her art sometimes fetches as much as $6,000.
It’s because she is smart.  
She answers to no one.
She keeps rock n’ roll hours.
She’s confident, proud, arrogant, delightful; stunning. 
Kathleen Cavender has never really had a ‘day job.’ Conformity has never been an option. 
She makes her living by singing jazz, painting, giving vocal lessons, teaching art classes, and conducting business and creativity workshops. 

Kathleen, who, in the midst of her crazy but phenomenally organized life; took the time to share with me some advice imperative to those seeking to grow their artistic endeavors into a dependable and profitable business venture.

Below, Kathleen provides an insightful look into how she turned her creative passions into reliable streams of income. She also speaks to some of the most common self-saboteurs preventing success.

Q:  What are the top 5 things you would tell a young Kathleen Cavender if you could travel back in time?

  • Art making is 90% hard work and 10% talent
  • Being an artist is not a big deal…you just are one
  • Don’t be influenced by what others think of your work (good or bad). Just keep painting what you want to paint.
  • Be professional ; take some business classes

Q: You sing, give voice lessons, teach classes, do art shows; what else? How do you find time for ALL THAT?

I’m also a poet and a writer. I paint during the weekdays; teach voice on Saturdays. Tuesday and Thursday evenings I teach painting classes. I gig with my band occasionally on the weekends…it works out okay.

Q: What are your “MUST HAVES” for staying organized?

My laptop, a day planner, a black Uniball fine pen, my phone, my camera.

Q: Tell me more about your business philosophy and your workshops.  

It’s all about having a vision and knowing what it is you have to work with. This workshop is 12 hours spread over three Sundays. It's pretty involved and can be life changing if applied. The business workshop is 6 hours and takes place over the weekend. It covers how to be professional, how to approach galleries, how to get your support materials together (resume, biography, artist’s statement etc.) and how to keep good record. This is just a brief overview; we cover many other important areas as well. 

Q. How do you keep yourself “out of your own way”? 

Focus only on the work itself and not where it’s going to hang or what anyone will think about it. I never entertain those thoughts. THOSE THOUGHTS ARE SABOTEURS! 

Q. Are all artists crazy?

Well, I personally think everyone I have ever met is a little bit crazy. I guess some people might think I am their Queen!

Q. What is the meanest thing anyone has ever said to you about your art?

It wasn’t really “mean”, but it did make my head spin for a little bit. Another artist commented that I had painted a certain kind of fruit that she had also painted and said people were going to think I was copying her. It was a ridiculous statement. She has also painted people, animals, flowers…so I can’t paint people, animals, flowers?  “Why did this get to me?” That’s the real question. It shouldn’t have. People have been painting fruit, people, animals, flowers, etc., since the beginning of time. Ridiculous.  

Q. Why should someone buy your art? 

I am always humbled and amazed when anyone spends money on my art. Especially in this economy. The most expensive painting I’ve sold to date was $6,000. I work hard to make good art and I’m committed to continue to grow as an artist for the rest of my life. I feel a responsibility to those who have invested in me and my work. If they find that much value in it, then I must too and continue to produce and grow as an artist. It’s that simple.

Q. Everyone says be confident….what’s the difference between arrogance and confidence?

Arrogance is from taking your work too personal. I can be arrogant. I hate it when it happens, but it has happened. You can’t hide it. It’s the smell of a skunk. There is no mistaking it. Confidence is knowing that you’ve done your best, you know you have a long way to go yet, but you are always working on it. It’s not personal.

Q. In your experience, what same mistakes do you see people making over and over again? 

ASSUMING THAT ART MAKING INVOLVES MAGIC:  People in general make the assumption that something magical happens when you make art. There are “moments” that feel magical…like someone/thing “other than” yourself is involved with what you are doing…but mostly it is just a lot of …W O R K!! The more you work, the better you get. Harold Balazs said, “People are often intimidated by art because they have confused it with something else.” I totally agree.
DON’T TAKE IT SO PERSONAL: I didn’t say “make” it so personal. But TAKE it so personal. When your work becomes so personal and so important to you that you can’t let go of it, you can’t hear opinions about it or criticism, chances are you will not do your best work or even your own work. You will not be productive. You might even quit. You need to detach and just keep creating. If I let every negative word said about my work stop me, I would have quit in the third grade.  Fear of failure or fear of success = thinking too much about where it’s going to go and what people will think. Just go to your studio and make something! People ask me which is my favorite painting. I always say the same thing: the one I’m working on at the time. But even so, I am ready to let go of it and move on to the next one in short order. I rarely regret selling a piece. Once in a very blue moon.
AN ART CAREER IS A BUSINESS: I began offering workshops on the business side of art making because so many local artists who want to have an actual career have no clue as to how to manage the business side of it. There is a right way and a whole lot of wrong ways of approaching galleries, getting your work into museums, managing your finances, keeping good records, writing a resume, biography, artist’s statement, framing properly, promoting your work….
MAKE YOUR ART A PRIORITY: Do you have a space that is only used for art making? I began in the corner of a room on a TV tray. Now I have a fabulous studio. Whatever…I have always made a space for myself. You need to as well. If you work on an art project, painting or whatever, just one hour a day, six days a week, you would be amazed at how much you can accomplish. And the beauty of it is that you will want to work longer than just the one hour. “Work begets work.” What is sucking up your time? Make a list and log the time you spend (internet, tv, talking on the phone, email, text, social media, mundane things you can cut out of your schedule). Then begin editing those things out of your life and replace them with working on your art. If it really matters to you, you will make it happen. If it doesn’t, you will make excuses. 

Some tips…..

  • Set a goal of how many pieces of art you want to have produced by a certain time. Be realistic, but don’t give yourself too much time. Too much time is also a saboteur.  You lose motivation.
  • Don’t talk about your work. Just do it. Thinking about it is one thing; talking about your artwork releases the steam…deflates the passion. Sabotage!
  • Don’t show your work before it is completed for the same reason as talking about it. It deflates the passion. It also sets you up for outside opinions that might influence you in a direction you may not want to go…causing you to think too much about what people think. (An exception would be when you are giving a demonstration.) *note: for those who have painted for many years like myself, this is not often an issue. Even so, I am careful to not display too much too soon to too many people.

Q. Name one time you regretted selling a piece of art and why? 

It was a painting I did of some cabbages about 20 years ago. I think it was the process of seeing and painting it that I loved just as much as the result. The way the light filtered through the leaves. It still makes me smile whenever I seen an image of it on my computer.

Kathleen Cavender is a fourth generation professional artist. Her great grandfather supported a family of twelve on his art in London during the late 1800s. His sketchbook became Kathleen's inspiration throughout her childhood. She recently visited London and stood exactly where he created many of  the sketches that have strongly influenced her life.

Kathleen's obvious love for light and color has caught the eye of many private and corporate collectors. Among them, Boeing Corporation, British Petroleum and the SAFECO® Insurance Company of America have added her work to their collections. A Washington State native, Kathleen Cavender's work has been exhibited in many Northwest galleries and art museums as well as in Chicago, Washington D.C. Los Angeles and Florence, Italy.

Weekly classes in the studio:

Pastel Painting: Every Tuesday 6:30-8:30pm
Any & All Media Painting: Every Thursday 6:30-8:30pm
Vocal Coaching: Every Saturday (45 min sessions available)


Date: Sun Nov 4, 11 & 18
Time: 1 – 4pm
Cost: $160
Learn how to fuel your creativity with fine artist and jazz singer, Kathleen Cavender in the comfort of her fabulous art studio. This course has helped many people learn to understand their creative nature as well as how to keep it fueled and running smoothly. Seating is limited.

Date: Sat Jan 12 & Sun 13
Time: 3 – 6pm
Cost: $100
This valuable course will help you get your art career up and moving in no time. Learn how to approach galleries, how to enter competitions, write a resume and an artist’s statement, promote your work, keep records and more!


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