Sorry, I’ve been a Bad BAD blogger. I’ve left everyone wondering if i ever got home from my ridiculous bike trip to madison, IN. The third day was the most difficult. I did not sleep well the night before. It was hot, and mosquitoes were eating me through the hammock. I woke up to rain, and when 40-50 miles from home, I had a flat tire, and a hard time getting it repaired. Long story short. It was a lot of fun, and you can do whatever crazy thing you set your mind to! I enjoyed the trip, and will do it again. Too bad I didn’t have a waterproof camera (you’d laugh at the picture of me soaking wet on the side of a road with a flat tire!)
Iwoke at dawn, ate two bananas, and broke camp. I was seven miles from Rising Sun, IN.
Entering the town, I passed a picturesque field of cows with a red barn. The morning seemed full of possibilities. Rising Sun is building a reputation as an art colony on the Ohio River. It’s economy has been primed by the arrival of a casino boat, and the opening of the Pendelton Art Center. Now with a handful of galleries and studios, it is becoming a destination for the art enthusiast.
I had breakfast at Around The Corner-coffee and wine shop, where I met owner and artist, Lynn Englar. She offers wines from Indiana wineries and is part of the Indiana Wine Trail. Lynn is an artist in many mediums. While living in California, she was a mural painter. She is an experienced sculptor and photographer. At the present, her shop features her paintings…fantastic images with a theme of women and wine.
The Pendleton Art Center was not scheduled to open until Wednesday. I told Lynn how much I regretted not being able to visit the center. The last time I visited Rising Sun, the center was not open either. Lynn gave a big smile, and opened a sliding glass door that connected her shop to the art center. She explained some of the artist’s backgrounds, and showed me Olinka Broadfoot’s exhibit in the main gallery.
After my morning birdbath in the town’s public restroom, I mounted my bicycle and began the journey toward Madison, IN. My legs were stiff from the previous day’s peddling, but after a while, i had a momentum that carried me the next 50 miles to Madison. The river provided rich soil for the farms and fields along the Ohio. While traveling, I received a few telephone calls from concerned friends and family, and walked while talking. My dad suggested that I stop at the closest bike shop to have the air in my tires checked. I used a racing bike with very small tires…I try and keep the tire pressure up to 100 pounds, which is not possible to maintain with
the emergency pump that I carry on my bike.
When I arrived in Madison, I stopped at a bike shop located on the main street. The mechanics checked my tire pressure, and I bought an adapter so that I could use regular (schrader) pumps on my bike’s tires. The weather was very humid, and my legs were tired. When I arrived in Madison, I was glad to be at the turnaround part of my journey. It was about 4pm and the afternoon sun did not give many opportunities to take photographs. I took a single photo of me in front of madison’s bridge, then beg
an the trip back home.
Madison’s bridge to Kentucky is not bicycle friendly. It is wide enough for cars only, so I had to stop traffic while i crossed the river.
It was great to be back in Kentucky, and I was excited to get back home. I was hot, and my legs were feeling a bit sore. I made the mistake of passing grocery stores, thinking I would get a little more distance before stopping for dinner. Time passed, and i reached a point where I was starving, and there was no place to find food, or camp. The sun began to set, and I began to get frantic, then I entered a small town with a small grocery store complete with bananas, yoghurt, and gatorade. I gratefully bought my dinner, then crawled into the woods for the night.
This week, I decided to take a cycling trip from Augusta,KY to Madison,IN. After having breakfast, I left Augusta very nervous. I had never cycled such a distance, and I had never camped alone in the woods. After traveling about 10 miles, I realized that I had forgotten my bicycle lock. Rather than spend unnecessary money further down the road, I turned around and passed the nasty barking houndog, climbed the giant 1 1/2 mile hill, and retrieved the bicycle lock. I reassured myself that the goal of the trip was to learn about bicycle touring…not to cover a set distance in a set time.
About an hour after leaving Augusta for the second time, I was passed by a group of serious bikers. There were probably close to twenty in the group. All dressed in bright colored biker attire. They passed me with such a momentum, I felt like a child on a tricycle. The group was drafting off each other, and the only extra weight they carried was their water bottle, however, they triggered my competitive streak, and I began pushing myself harder…Hoping to keep up with their pace. After about 30 minutes hard cycling, I was relieved to see the last biker in the group take a different course.
I stopped at a recreation park outside mentor, KY. it had a series of bike trails that circled a cluster of baseball/soccer/football fields. I refilled my water bottles, and called my parents to let them know how the trip was going so far. I learned from my father, an experienced biker, that trying to pace with the group was a bad idea or a touring biker. He explained that I would be peddling all day (for days) and it is more important to maintain a comfortable pace than try to achieve any speed goals.
I began to enter Cincinnati metro area. Being Sunday, the traffic was not heavy. While approaching the cluster of bridges that connect Kentucky with Cincinnati, I was surprised at how quickly I covered such a distance. I now know that I can ride my bike into Cincinnati in about 3 hours. I kept my equipment very light with the mindset that most of what I need will be available while traveling. I made my first food stop at a Taco Bell, where I refueled with burritos and quesidillas. I followed the river along rt 8 out of the city until I reached the Anderson ferry. The ferry made me reminisce about our ferry in Augusta that crosses the Ohio…It seemed like a world away, even though I had only been on the road for a few hours. On the Ohio side, I traveled along hwy 50. It was not as bicycle friendly as Kentucky’s route 8. Although 50 was a four lane, it was much busier than kentucky’s river road. It also lacked the “share the road” signs that provided a sense of safety. I peddled west, passing a series of factories, until I reached a grocery store, where I bought 3 bananas and 3 cups of yogurt.
Later that day, I crossed the state line, entering Indiana. At that point, I decided that I wanted to stop a few miles before Rising Sun, IN. I followed the signs for the Ohio River’s scenic trail. It took me through old Lawenceburg, a town with some charming architecture, but dwarfed by a sprawling casino boat and factory industry. You would think that a city with so many revenue generating businesses would be able to afford to maintain their roads. Lawreneburg had the worst conditions for a bicycle…lots bumps, glass and potholes.
After traveling through Aurora, IN, I began to look for places to sleep for the night. I had my eyes peeled for something wooded, away from from a private residence, and without a No Tresspassing post. After finding the spot, I carried my bike down a small hill and set up my Hennessey Hammock, a combination tent/hammock. It was hard to make myself comfortable, because it was a hot day, and a humid night. I fell asleep listening to one of my favorite podcasts, woken by the snort of a deer. The woods were pitch black, speckled with firefly lights. A dog barked at me, as i drifted in and out of sleep.
I started by running the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Months of training paid off, and I was able to complete the 26.2 mile race in 3 hours and 22 minutes. (Almost a full hour faster than last year’s time!)
I finished the month by racing in Maysville’s Triathlon. It was my first triathlon. I’d never swam in open water before, so it was a challenge, but my time was good. I finished the race in less than 2 hours. I was one of 3 local participants, racing with our region’s more ‘experienced’ triathletes. My rank was in the middle of the pack. 33 out of 63.
Inbetween races, I was busy preparing for Augusta’s “Art in the Garden”. One of my two scheduled outdoor art shows this year. It was a great show with good turnout, and the sales were excellent.
I am returning ‘home’ to the DC area for a week. I will be meeting my little brother’s daughter “Mia” for the first time. I will also begin a new painting project. I am working on a series of scenes painted in Washington’s historic U street district for my gallery at HomeGrown Creations. I may have some sneek peeks as a reward for the patient friends who still check my blog from time to time.
Then, I will slow down a bit and enjoy the artist’s life. I try to run, swim, bike or kayak every day. I am trying to incorporate the sports into my work. When possible, I carry a sketchpad and camera with me while biking/kayaking. I often think about paintings while swimming and running…especially while running through scenic landscapes.
Please comment on this blog and share your stories and suggestions for combining leisure activities with your art (and work). I want to combine my love of outdoor sports with my art. I feel a little guilty spending so much time running, biking, etc. But, if I can incorporate my hobby with my WORK, I won’t feel like I am wasting my time so much…I’m WORKING! Yes, I realize that I am very fortunate to have WORK that I love and is fun…it just makes me feel DOUBLE guilty!
Last month, i took 3 paintings to a jury for the Hyde Park Art show in Cincinnati, Ohio. I chose paintings that were similar in theme which I considered to be strong work.
The judging was held in a community center in the neighborhood where the show was to be held. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but i was surpised to see over 100 artists waiting in line with a number.
One judge was assigned for each category, painting, crafts, sculpture, photography, etc. The judge for painting was a young woman, possibly younger than me.
While in line, I watched her body language while reviewing the other artist’s work. She was animated, and having some intense dialogue with the artists. I noticed that when an artist brought work that I considered to be exceptionally well done, the judge would pick up her clipboard and make notes after the artist leaves. She did not do this after reviewing what I considered to be a weak body of work.
The Hyde Park Show is a very prestigious show in Cincinnati. It has a reputation for excellence, so all the best collectors and dealers attend and purchase. This makes the show very desirable for any artist in the region. Getting into this show is very important for my plan as an artist. I was at wits end when my number was finally called for judging.
While my work was being reviewed, I had no idea what kind of questions the judge would ask. Ideally, she would comment on how good the work was, and tell me that she definately wanted me in the show. That didn’t exactly happen. Instead, she started critiquing my work. She suggested that I show how my paintings of farm animals interact with my life. She also warned that I might be at risk of producing gimmicky work. Finally, she added that she did not think that contemporary artists should sign the front of their work. It takes away from the art. You should sign either the matting or the back of the work.
I left the building with a sinking feeling in my gut. The judge did say nice things about my work also, but the negative things just stuck in my mind. It looked like in the corner of my eye, I saw her pick up her pen and clipboard…but maybe it was just to scratch her nose. I know that juries are very subjective, and not to take these things personal. It took a while to shake it of, after talking with a few friends who are successful artists. Experiences like this are common in the business. It was reassuring to hear that I am not the only one going through this process.
It turns out she was writing my name on the clipboard after all! I just received my letter of acceptance into the Hyde Park Art Show. Of course, you are all invited to attend. It will be October 1st, 2006 in Hyde Park Square.
I would be interested to hear what you think about this story. I know that everyone goes through this…especially artists who put a very personal type of work on display. I sure hope it gets easier…but it hasn’t yet!
It is my pleasure to announce that my painting “Hen and Chicks” has been juried into the “Bluegrass biennial 2006” at the Claypool-Young Art Gallery at Morehead State Uniersity. This showcase of Kentucky’s best artists is held every other summer.
I am shocked and proud that my work has been accepted into this show. I am pleased with the warm response given to my new body of work. If in the Morehead area, stop by to see the exhibit of Kentucky’s finest artists.
It is from June 3rd-July 28 2006. The opening reception will be on Saturday, June 3rd 3:00-5:00. There will be refreshments and live music by Brett Ratcliff, an Eastern Kentucky old time acoustic musician.
Over the winter, I planned to use the ‘inside time’ to produce an abundance of work. I was able to produce a series of paintings, but the cold weather and lack of sunshine caused a mild depression which slowed down my motivation. I am grateful the winter was not very severe this year.
Last month, I stayed warm at Homegrown Creations in Washington, DC. to work on my indoor mural. I have finally gotten all of the walls covered with some paint. You can see photos of the project by clicking here
I can’t wait to dethaw my pottery studio. It is difficult to keep my studio from freezing during the cold months. Water is abundant in clay work, and when water freezes, it will ruin a project. (similar to the way freezing water can crack concrete) I am excited to get back to work in clay.
I am also excited to return to plein air painting. It has been too cold to paint outside. I miss the fresh air and excitement of landscape painting. I have some specific plein air projects that I am eager to begin. I will let you know how they develop.
In the past, I have cheated myself of the joy of spring by running south for the winter. Here in the Midwest, we are getting the first signs of spring. The trees have a red glow, and the bulbs are rising from the ground. I am discovering a new energy that comes with the season. I am taking on new projects and utilizing my time better.
I am starting to feel that the new year brings great possibilities. Now, I just need to get started on my spring cleaning. I’d like to know how you spent your winter. Do you have seasonal projects that you are starting/finishing? Leave a comment to tell us about spring where you live.
I am planning to enter a few competitions for exhibitions in my region. I see it as a can’t lose situation. If I am one of the fortunate artists to be selected for the prize, the reward is obvious. However, I believe the process of submitting my work is a reward in itself. The competitions are providing short-term goals for my studio work. It is very easy to get distracted with long term goals, such as an art show 4 months away. It’s easy to procrastinate and lose focus.
One jury requires 20 samples of the artist’s work. This has been an excellent opportunity to work in a series. My 20 pieces will all relate to each other. I believe unity in the work will create a powerful display.
Competitions will help me develop my work. I believe that artist’s work is influenced by economic factors. Art that makes a good design in a home or office is easy to sell, but does not always express a complicated thought. I believe that museums and other exhibition venues are more interested in what the artist has to say than whether the work is pretty or easy to sell. This provides an excellent opportunity to experiment with new ideas and break comfortable molds with my art.
What do you think? Does anyone have any positive or negative experiences with art competitions? Any suggestions for other artists? I would like to hear from you, so please leave a comment for everyone.
Communicating with art This blog has been a great way to practice my writing skills. I am not a natural writer, and posting a new blog each week can be a challenge. My ultimate goal is to improve my communication skills. The arts give us a unique way to communicate. A picture says 1000 words, a song can change your mood, and a book can change your mind. Our work as artists can do more than simply entertaining others, it can change their lives. What do I want to say? I am still developing my art, but try to use it to encourage others. I believe as artists, we should encourage others to peruse their own creative talents. Our society has too many negative stereotypes for artists. I wonder how many artists have not even tried due to fear of having a stereotype pinned on them? I want to be an example that you can follow your dream, be an artist, make a living, remain sane, sober and keep both ears attached.
What do you want to say? Do you think about what you want to say when you create your art? Is there a single message you are communicating with your work? Can art be just for the sake of decoration and entertainment? What works of art that have left a strong impression on you (or society)? Please leave your comments on the blog, I look forward to hearing from you!
I have thought a lot about specializing. My father once described a commercial he saw on german television: the commercial asks, ‘which would you rather listen to?’ showing first a plays all musician with cymbols on the knees, an accordian, and harmonica. The second image was a symphony violinist. The point he was trying to make was clear.
To make great things you have to focus. A lot of marketing advice reccomends specializing. Do one thing, and do it well. Don’t try and be everything to everyone. In order to become a master artist, you must focus your attention exclusively on your craft. Multi-tasking and ‘having too many irons in the fire’ can be counter-productive.
I can’t focus, I want to do it all! I paint: with oils, acrylics, watercolor…anything! landscapes, portraits, whimsical, abstracts…depending on my mood. I work with clay and can’t decide whether to work with functional (cups, bowls, etc) pottery or sculptural…so i do both. I tend to obsessively work on one thing until I reach a point where i am burnt out, and then i will shift to something else. It is a good cure for artist’s block.
I am trying to tie everything together. In spite of my different moods and mediums, a unique voice is developing. My style is a fusion of many different passions. I have been working in series with the idea that each painting will relate to the one painted before and after it. The goal is a uniform look when all the paintings are shown together in a room. It is hard sometimes to avoid tangents, but they can be the next series.
That’s as close as I can get to specializing. I know that not all artists have a problem with focus, because it shows in their work. I wonder if they had to struggle against the desire to ‘try everything’ before focusing? As I continue to develop, my many obsessions might fuse into one great work. I hope so.
Can anyone else relate to this? I am interested in hearing any stories and suggestions. Are you a good multi-tasker? What techniques do you use to focus on a project? Do you know any successful ‘jack-of-all trades’? What do you think was their secret?
I really would like to hear your comments…if you aren’t sure how to post to the blog, feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Ken is a self-taught artist from rural Kentucky, whose work includes painting, printmaking, animation and ipad art. He considers himself to be a 'lifetime learner' and he uses art as the vehicle to explore and learn more about the world around him. Much of his work reflect his optimistic views on rural folk culture, river life and simple pleasures.
You can visit Ken every Final Friday of the month at studio 400 at the Pendleton Art Center in downtown Cincinnati. He can also be found picnicking near his home in the Historic Village of Old Washington, KY.
May 11 and 18 Printmaking at the Log Cabin Print Shop - OLD WASHINGTON, KY