Friday, December 24, 2010

Thoughts for the Season

Wishing all my readers a very Merry Christmas!  May you all strive to commit random acts of kindness, smile at strangers, and flood the Universe with thoughts of peace, love and good will.  Let's all fill the world with joy, tolerance and gentle grace, so that we can reap the benefits of good Karma and perpetuate the Christmas Spirit throughout the year.

Let us remember the reason for the bright lights, gifts and sharing of friendship, for without Him in our lives, it would be a sad, dark, and lonely place.

I hope you receive everything that you need and desire this Christmas, and pay it forward as best you are able.  We are all one big tribe, and family is not restricted to ancestry and blood lines, but incorporates all the people who make up your days and form your life and share your memories.  No matter what observances you may follow, this is the time to put differences aside and embrace the qualities that make us human and loving and empathetic creatures.  May the light of peace and love shine in your lives and make us all a little better in the coming New Year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

One Last Post for 2010

Just wishing those readers that celebrate Christmas a very Merry and Blessed Christmas, and may the Light continue to shine on you in whatever you endeavor to begin in 2011.  For those of you who do not celebrate Christmas, may the joy and warmth of your holiday envelope you and your family, and to everyone, may there be peace in your lives.

2010 was certainly a roller coaster ride, and offered some life changing decisions.  I lost my employment after 8 years with the store.  Lexi started Kindergarten and Katie started nursing school while working full time at night.   I was able to step in and take over the responsibilities of getting Lexi to school and collecting her off the bus at noontime.  What a blessing to be able to be home at exactly the time I was needed.  In addition, 2010 offered me several opportunities to exhibit my art, and realize the dream of possibly making this art thing happen.  I am so grateful for all of the positive things came happened this year, and I realize it very easily could've gone very wrong very quickly, so I wake up every day and say, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

To all my friends, family and friends I haven't met yet:  Thank YOU for being a part of my life, and showing me what life is all about.  Love and Hugs to you all, may 2011 bring you everything you need and deserve.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finishing Up

Well, the double horse portrait commission is all done, ready to be delivered.  It's such a good feeling to finish a commission and really be happy with it.  I have posted photos of it on Red Bubble, Fine Art America and Facebook, so you should be able to see it through the Red Bubble link at the top of this page.  So, to quote Jason and Grant, "On to the next!"

Christmas is approaching very rapidly, the tree is up and decorated, and cookie baking has commenced.  Of course, I don't know why I buy cookie tins to keep the cookies in; they don't last long enough to keep! 

The next commission is the winner of my Facebook Photo Contest.  I got so many cool photos in, I may have to award several people, but the first winner is Devon, for her cool abstracty reflections photo.  Can't wait to start it.

Just wanted to check in, and report my progress.  Hope you are making time to do whatever makes you happy at this holiday season.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Commissions for Christmas

Well, life has decided to throw me a bone....rec'd 2 more commissions for Christmas.  Woo-Hoo!  They are not really difficult, and they are being done in acrylics, so things should move along quite nicely.
Had to go to the art store to pick up canvases.  Such a hardship, going to the art store.  I bought things I didn't really need.  Wanted, but didn't need.  I'll use them.  But no playing till the paying jobs are done.

I finished a small acrylic painting, titled "Joan of Arc" which can be seen on either Facebook or Fine Art America.  Facebook Link:   http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2059488&id=1094598178
Fine Art America Link:  http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jean-lebaron.html

Time to get in the studio.  Hope to post some more pics soon; show you all what I've been doing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Christmas Time Warp

D'jever notice how, this time of year, time as we know it seems to go into hyper speed?  Really, think about it.  Not only do we have the natural shortening of daylight hours, but time itself goes into a warp loop where each day until December 24 has less usable hours in it.  I don't understand how this happens.  All I know is, there aren't enough hours left to do everything I planned to do at the beginning of the season.

Like cookies.  Last year I thought I'd make some sugar cutout cookies, and decorate them with beautiful colors of icing and sparkly sugar.  Nope.  Didn't happen.  I managed to open a box of heat and serves with little Santas already in the cookie dough.

And wrapping presents.  I'm an artist.  I should be able to get creative and coordinate my papers with ribbons and bows, and clever little tie on tags that are designed by me.  Nope, didn't happen.  Although I did eventually get all the presents wrapped, most were missing their bows, because Big Dog sat on the bag of stick-on bows and squished them.  I hate flat bows.  So I didn't use them.

And tree decorating.  Some people have beautifully appointed trees, one in each room, themed and color-matched, with hundreds of tiny lights, twinkling and welcoming.  Well.   We have one tree, an artificial tree that we bought, oh, I don't know 15 or 20 years ago.   The needles on the tree fall off at a rate equal to or better than a real tree that has not seen any water in 4 weeks.  The only consolation is the artificial tree needles do not become embedded in the bottom of your feet.  The ornaments on the tree are almost antiques, the newest ones being the glue-and-glitter constructions that my baby made in elementary school.  Same baby is now 24 and a mom herself.  I can at least look forward to new ornaments this year, because Lexi has started Kindergarten.  And the lights?  I made sure to get the kind where they guarantee that if one goes out, the rest stay lit.  And its true.  Why, I'll bet there are at least 14 or 15 lights still working on the one strand.  And they still blink, too.  Gotta find the time to see about buying a new string of lights.  Maybe 2 strings.

And back to the time warp.  I meant to buy those lights last year, really I did.  But time warped weirdly, and I found myself taking that time to find a Christmas Special on TV, and sitting and watching it with Lexi.  Or another day, when I really meant to get all Martha-Stewart with those Christmas cookies, I inexplicably ended up teaching Lexi how to cut paper snowflakes. 

And maybe that time warp is a good thing.  Who cares how many different kinds of cookies you have?  Do you have enough to leave one for Santa?  And who cares if your tree is not perfect?  Do you have a couple of badly wrapped and overly-taped presents under it?  And if your lights are burning out at an alarming rate, that just means you won't be able to see the dust in the corners.  And grand-kids don't care about perfection according to Better Homes and Gardens.  They just want to spend time with you.  They want to anticipate and wonder and hope and shine with love.  They know what Christmas is all about.  We should all try to act like children.

Wishing you all a very stress-free, simple, good-enough, spend time with those you love prelude to Christmas.  And don't forget to give yourself a present, as well.  For me, that gift is time scheduled in the studio.  Even if it means I have to slice and bake later!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Affordable Art and Holidays

With the holidays fast approaching and with that, holiday art boutiques, I have been busy creating "affordable art". What is affordable art, you ask? Well, in this neck of the woods, it seems that the magic number for impulse buying is hanging right around the $30 and under bracket. So, in order to attempt to cash in on this trend, (every pun intended) I have been concentrating on small ticket items. It takes less time to physically make smaller art, but it seems that the prep time is the same whether you are painting in inches or feet! So, hopefully, all the time spent on small works will pay off, and I will be able to get back to bigger but not necessarily better pieces.

Speaking of holidays, Halloween is next week, and the stores are already filling aisles with Christmas merchandise. I mean, really. I love Christmas, I really do, but I still can't seem to be able to buy any Christmas items until after Thanksgiving. I tried it once. I ended up buying 3 times as much stuff, because I kept seeing presents for one of the kids, then I'd have to buy presents for the other kids to "make it even". Not a good strategy. The kids loved it, though. Husband, not so much. So I wait till after Thanksgiving, and NEVER on Black Friday, to do my shopping. Unless I shop online on Black Friday. But I spent too many years in retail to go into a store on the day after Thanksgiving. That's just the way I roll.

I started the commissioned painting for my brother and sister-in-law. It's large (24 x 48) and so far, I think it's coming along nicely. Of course I always love the painting on the canvas at this stage; there are so many possibilities and ways to create a masterpiece. As soon as the painting is delivered, I start having second doubts, and seeing small mistakes that I feel the need to fix! But I read somewhere that most artists feel this way, so I don't obsess over it. Too much. On with the next.

The weather is supposed to be absolutely fantastic this week, so I'm looking forward to spending mornings in the studio while Lexi is in Kindergarten. Maybe I'll even post photos of the progress of the commissioned piece. Depends on how much work I can get done on it. Stay tuned, you never know what might turn up!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Relaxed, Rested and Ready to Work

The summer clothes are put away, and it's back to the reality of 45 degrees in New Jersey. Mexico was glorious, and we got out just in time to avoid Hurricane Paula on the Cozumel/Maya Riviera coast. So, once again, the Fates have smiled on us, and Life is Good!

I only painted 2 paintings while on vacation; the rest of the two weeks was spent eating, sunning, and relaxing. I know, it's a tough job I have!

I will post the 2 paintings here, and on Red Bubble, as soon as I get a chance. I got back and dove right into the routine of hearth and home. Actually, it felt good to be home, I missed the kids a lot!

I will grab the memory card and start loading the pictures as soon as I finish my coffee. I've got 2 hours before Lexi is off the bus from Kindergarten. Better get crackin!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Well, the paints, brushes, and canvases are packed and ready to go. I am really looking forward to getting down to our "second home" in sunny Mexico. Has it been a whole year already? So many changes this year; losing my job, working on my art full-time, having the joy of seeing my Lexi off to Kindergarten every morning. It's a wonderful life, to steal a phrase. When you look at the good with the bad, I have to say that the positives outweigh the negatives and I am feeling pretty good. Sales on RedBubble.com are increasing, and the word is getting out, which is the first step, right?

I am so psyched about this vacation. Have to remember to pack a sketchbook and pencils; forgot to put them in the suitcase. No phones, no schedules, no worries for 15 whole days. Woo-hoo! I could spend a month there; my dearly beloved gets antsy after about 6 days. Gotta keep him occupied ;)

Looks like Tropical Storm Matthew might detour around the Yucatan Peninsula. Thanks for the change in direction, Matthew. Things can get kinda dicey on the coast in a hurricane!

So all there is now to do is try and get a good night's sleep (never happens)and wake up before the sun to get to the airport. Aaaaaah. I just love vacation. See you all when we get back, and hasta luego, amigos!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Contest, commission, and Angels

Contest 2 has produced another winner. My business page on Facebook, Jean LeBaron Art, has concluded it's second contest in which a genuine artwork has been awarded to one of my fans. It's always so much fun to see the reaction of the winner, and I love to make people happy, so it's a win-win situation. Now I have to start working on the next installment, maybe I'll come up with something that actually makes me money. Now, that's a novel idea. :)

I am still working on an oil painting that my brother and sister-in-law commissioned. It's rather large; 24x48, and I haven't quite decided on all the details yet, but the main body of work is in place. So far, I'm pleased with how the laying-in is going. Progress is slow, but that is to be expected. I'm a pretty busy grandma these days.

I want to take the time to thank all my friends, my family and my angels for everything they do for me. Without you, I would be lost and lonely. With you, I am free to be me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Art of Making Art

Okay, so obviously there was only ONE PERSON who actually got the message I was trying to throw out there. And she is an absolute master of marketing, so maybe I'll switch tracks here and talk about the art of making art. Wow, something completely different.

There is an inherent drive inside of me that dictates to me that I must create art. Okay, that's a little strong. I must ATTEMPT to create art, because we all know that not everything always turns out for the best. However, I just don't understand people who say, "Oh, I just didn't feel like it today" like you have a choice in the matter. I can understand being too tired, too sick, too busy with that major annoyance called Life. But really?? You didn't feel like it? If I had my way, I would spend every day in the studio, for 10-12 hours, because I have that much stuff on my Someday list. You know, Someday I'm going to try (insert new medium/technique/subject matter here). There are so many things I want to do concerning art, and I'm getting very afraid that I won't live long enough to do them all. Maybe it's due to the fact that I chose the wife/mother/artist way of life, and there are not enough hours to do everything the way I feel they should be done. Unrealistic? Probably, but that's what I deal with. So how to fix it? I try to schedule my time in the studio when I am least likely to be interrupted. The other times, I'm planning, networking, marketing (there's that Gorilla again) or mentally preparing to paint while I'm folding laundry, making dinner or (ugh) cleaning. So what is the perfect balance? I don't know, I'm still trying to find it. Do I have regrets about the life path I chose?? Not for a minute. I wouldn't change anything at all. I am just where I'm supposed to be, and any challenges are lessons that I need to learn. So what I'm saying is, there is an art to making art, and if it came too easily I suppose there would be no joy in it. When I do get a stretch of time in the studio, I can feel myself slipping into the zone, and I don't have to think about anything but the brush in my hand, and that is a beautiful thing. So, if you are an artist, you have this voice in your head that says "Go, paint, create, and make your world better just for today", and sometimes, in spite of dust bunnies and wet towels on the floor, you go and make art.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ooops

Uh, oh, did I scare everybody with the mention of (gasp!) Marketing? The ol' blog got pretty quiet all of a sudden. Well, I sure didn't mean to scare you all off into corners, cowering and whimpering. But it is an important part of what we do, so I thought I'd spend some minutes discussing it. But if you don't want to hear it............then I suppose you are either raking in money hand over fist with your art and you don't need marketing, OR.......the subject scares you. And well it should. Marketing analysts get paid really good money to do what they do, and we could all take something home from that. Think of your favorite commercial. Is it funny, is it to the point, is it annoyingly stuck in your head for days? That's exactly what you have to do with your art branding. Get it stuck in everyone's head, but in a good way, so that when they need a gift, a print, a wedding present, Christmas cards, or a new full sized painting for that spot over the fireplace in their dream home, they think of you!! C'mon, let's hear from you, even if it's just to tell me that you don't want to hear about marketing anymore. :P

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A 900-pound Gorilla named Marketing

The FaceBook Contest #2 is about to be finalized, with the winner announced on Saturday, Sept 18, at 6 pm. There seems to be some confusion as to why I would give an original painting away. Well, let me explain.

In order to create a brand for my art, it has to be known and recognized. Jean LeBaron Art is rarely known outside of NJ, so I decided to create a Facebook page so that my art could be viewed by many people in different areas of the country. And it's working. I even have fans that live overseas. So you see, the method in my madness is not quite so insane as some would believe. Still, others may argue that the artist is still as mad as ever, but really, that is all part of the plan, too. It makes people wonder what in the world I'll be up to next, and that's a good thing. Someone once told me to start a rumor that I can only paint in my studio, in the nude. I never started that rumor, because it hit too close to the truth. :D

Marketing your art is a full-time endeavor, and I can see why many artists hire someone to do all the mailings, inventory, marketing, research, and P.R. Some artists see marketing as the 900-pound gorilla in the room, ignoring him because it takes too much time away from Making Art. Let's face it; it takes almost as much creativity to promote as it does to make the actual artwork. And it makes my brain tired. But no one is going to beat a path to your studio door without you getting your name and work out there, so it becomes a necessary evil. There are a million books, workshops and seminars dedicated to marketing your art. Unless you are the 1/2 of 1 percent who are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with the right artwork, you are going to have to market yourself if you want to sell your art. And I want to sell my art. So............there you have it.

Artists are creative types, and it always amazes me that artists spend so little time in coming up with creative ideas for marketing, name recognition and promotion. Spend an hour making a list of the different ways you can promote yourself. You'll be surprised at what you may come up with!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday, Monday

The start of a brand new week. All of the possibilities, the plans, the good intentions are looming before me like a giant hot air balloon. I have received the go-ahead for the 24x48 inch commission and I'm anxious to begin laying it out on the canvas; it's going to be a complex piece, so I want to be sure I have all the bugs worked out before I actually begin painting. It's exciting to start a new piece, I always wonder if it will be a struggle or a breeze. We'll see!



The weather for the party on Saturday was picture perfect. I think everyone had a good time. The last guests left somewhere around 11 pm, and I started to clean up but didn't quite get everything done before I fell into bed!! Hubby was pleased and I think everyone had a good time. I know I did!



The responses about the rose painting have been good. I think I'm going to paint the pale rose.




You can see the other choices on my Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/pages/Jean-LeBaron-Art/110162672364467

The canvas is a circular 46 inch convex edge, and I don't even think Tara (Fredrix) makes them anymore. I've been saving it for over 15 years. I think it's time to use it! I'll post Work-in-Progress photos as the journey begins. I have to start working on the commission first, though. Good business practices and all that.

I sold a giclee over the weekend to my brother and sister-in-law. Thank you guys!! I really appreciate the support. I am blessed with a fantastic family and an awesome circle of friends, and they surround me with a huge blanket of love. I can only hope to keep sending the same love and positive energy right back to them!

Start your Monday off with good vibes and happy thoughts, and it will follow you all week. I'm going out to the studio now to pay homage to my Muse and give thanks to God, the Universe and my guardian angel for allowing me to do what I love. Peace and love to all of you, too!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Roses, roses, roses!

Wednesday was the 32nd anniversary of our first date. I recieved 32 roses, one for each year. Each Sept 8, I get a rose for every year we've been together. Yeah, I know. He is one in a million. :) Anyway, they are absolutely gorgeous, all different hues, and HUGE! I took a few pictures, (after my middle daughter saw them and took pictures first) and I have been saving a very large (46 inch diameter) canvas for years, waiting for the perfect painting for it. Well, I have my reference shots. It would be perfect, it doesn't need to be framed, because it's the Convexo line (tapered edges) and besides, where the hell am I going to find a 46 inch circular frame? But, I digress.

The problem now is which color rose to paint. The coral peach with golden edges? The deep red one that looks like velvet? The lavender one with traces of blue in the shadows? Oh, wait, the cream one with deep yellow towards the center? Or the pale yellow with golden orange streaks? There is a pink one that changed my mind about the color pink; I always thought pink was a wishy-washy color. Well, not on this rose! It sings, it blushes, it pulsates with energy. So, now you see. I have a dilemma about color again. With a 46 inch painting, you gotta be REEEEEALLY careful about which color you choose, considering the rose will be taking up the entire canvas. And that's a lot of color on the wall. So, if you're out there and you have an opinion, I'd really like to hear it, cuz I'm stumped!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ask not what art can do for you....

What are you doing to support the arts? I mean, not just creating your own work and marketing it, but what are you doing to promote art in general? Do you belong to a local art group? Do you attend Artist Receptions at galleries? Do you volunteer at a guild, a museum, at your local school? How many people a day do you meet that don't know you're an artist? Do you always carry business cards and at least photos of your work? Are you doing everything in your power to make friends, relatives, co-workers, and even complete strangers realize how precious art is? Take an informal survey among people you know. How many of them own even one piece of original art? A signed print? A sculpture? In times of economic difficulties, art has always been a refuge, a protest, a way to raise public morale, and an indicator of political involvement, either for good or bad.
Make a statement. Make a stand. Make a difference. Make Art!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Images and Blessings

The images running around my head are getting desperate to be let out! I think that I will have to spend some time prepping a few canvases so I can start smearing some paint. I still have a few days until Spouse's birthday party, but things are coming along nicely in that department, so maybe (are you listening, Universe??) I can get in there tonight and put to rest the insistent images that prevent me from falling asleep at a decent hour!

I have some frames taking up valuable space in the studio; seems like I should put them to use, so I think I'll stretch some canvases to fit them. Nothing like putting the cart before the horse, huh?

I'm going to be very busy this next year, and not just creating and marketing art. My daughter just started a very intense concentrated study nursing course, and she'll be working full-time at night, to boot. I'll have our granddaughter pretty much all day, with the exception of 2 1/2 hours of Kindergarten, so I'm back to painting in small batches, or at night. But I wouldn't trade places for anything, my lovely little lady is a blessing in my life, and I'm privileged to be able to spend so much time with her. I really love my life, and the varied, unforeseen circumstances that have put me here are an amazing testimony to the premise of God putting you where you need to be, when you need to be there. Life is soooooooo good. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Goodbye Summer, Hello Studio

Summer is officially over, and I'm feeling a little melancholy. It's time for moving indoors, looking inward and creating a new body of work. I'm going to try and integrate both my styles of painting in a new series, not exactly sure where this is going, but it should be interesting. I'd really like to start on this immediately, but this week I'll be concentrating on the upcoming milestone birthday party for my bestest honey. So, in the meantime, I'll have to settle for creating a spectacular birthday celebration for him!

I could cheerfully spend all my time flitting from one art reception to another, attending shows and scoping out galleries. I always get so inspired from seeing all the great art that is being made. I love that all my artist friends are so generous with advice, and the conversations are always lively and funny and interesting. Since creating art in the studio is such a solitary business, I am grateful that we can get together and discuss our creative blocks and breakthroughs, and how to ignore the voices that threaten our commitment to keep on going. I love what I do, most of the time, and I especially love the all wonderful people in my life who, in one way or another, drive me to continue on this crazy, beautiful and scary ride called Life.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Shows; New Art

The last couple of months have been crazy busy. I am now unemployed, no day job, and trying to make a go of the art gig. This is much harder than a 9-to-5. I am happily exhausted! Check out the neat slide show at the top of the page. You can now order prints of several of my paintings directly from RedBubble, and they start as low as $2.00. Yes, $2.00!!
Also, if you are involved on Facebook (and who isn't?) you can visit my page there : Jean LeBaron Art : and enter to win an ORIGINAL oil painting titled "Sunflower, Turning". Look for it on the slide show.
I just wrapped up a Solo Show at Idiosyncrazies Gallery in Point Pleasant Beach, I was Miss August, and their first solo exhibitor. What great fun that was. Sharon is a terrific person and her gallery is brimming with unique art and gifts for everyone.
Shows for the month of September include a month long exhibit at the Ocean County Library, Toms River Branch, and a one-day show on September 4 at the Ocean County Historical Society's Annual Antiques Faire, from 9-4. Stop by and say "hey". And support your artists.

Friday, January 22, 2010

back with a vengeance

and painting the aforementioned series. I'm off on a whole new tangent, a real departure for me and my style of painting. It's exhilarating, and so much harder than I thought. BUT...you'll all have to wait for the unveiling when I debut this series at The Cookie Cab in May. There will be a show there, invitation-only artists, and lots of publicity and hoopla, not to mention the best damned cookies in all of Ocean County, and probably farther, but I don't get out much, so suffice it to say, that the cookies are best I've had, and the selection is crazy. They even make gluten-free, so you have no excuses. Anyway, the time is getting close for the Art Show and Sale on May 15th. Have you gotten your application in? Better hurry, there are only so many spaces available, and its first-come, first-served. Call me for more info @ 732-674-2486.