Category Archives: A TO Z’s OF ART

going through the alphabet one post at a time, Vickie explores the world of art from A to Z


Wow! the past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. I finally broke down and got a SmartPhone.  AND I committed myself to my first car payment in 21 years!  Yes, I bought a car!!!

2012 Toyota Camry

This isn’t MY CAR, but it does look very similar (and it is too dark outside to take a decent picture!)

I have joined an International Creative Accountability group online which began with fellow students from Flying Lessons, a class we took together.   Here is what I want to accomplish during the upcoming week:

  1. Because I am participating in Blogtoberfest, which is a commitment to post a blog every day in October, I want to continue this. I have only missed one day so far, and I am up to the letter “S” in the series “The A to Z’s or Art.

2.   ART-O-MAT

converted cigarette machine selling original works of art

I was accepted in this program, which refurbishes vintage cigarette machines and fills them with original pieces of art. They require 50 completed pieces of art to go in one of the machines. I have completed 40 of them, and I plan to complete the remaining 10.


I will edit these a little, and finish the remaining 10.  Then I have to label them, sign them and wrap them in cellophane.

3.  I will pick a minimum of 10 pieces I have at home to list on Etsy and make sure they have all been photographed.

4. Work on the patterns and collage to start organizing the Coolage Parties I previously blogged about.

5. Learn more about my phone (and how to get photographs off of it!) and my car

Do you have any goals for this week?   What are they?





Frankly, I am extremely tired.  I spent the day car shopping and actually purchased a car. You must understand, this was a big step, I haven’t had a car payment in 21 years!  I wasn’t going to post anything, even though I am committed to the Blogtoberfest and posting every day in October.  I already knew I was going to write about Rembrandt, but I don’t have the energy to tell the interesting facts about his life. So, I thought I’d post some of his self portraits.  After all, there are at least 40 paintings and 31 etchings as well as some drawings.


Mercury Rising 24×48
Prints available in all sizes
©Vickie Martin

Today I have interviewed photographer Joel Conison, a professional photographer to get some tips on photographing your arts.

Briefly describe how you began photographing artwork.

When I was a commercial photographer, I photographed everything from jets to jello – essentially whatever the assignment required.  I began photographing art when a gallery called and wanted me to photograph some of the work of Claes Oldenburg for a book they were publishing about him and his work. Mainly I photographed the sculptures, but there were also a few 2d pieces.

What is the difference between photographing 2d and 3d work?

The difference between photographing 3d and 2d work is dimension.  When working with 3d work, you have to be able to show the dimension, and that means shadow or uneven light. That is, one side of the sculpture has a little less light or is in a shadow in order to illustrate volume. With 2d work, an even light is required across the whole surface.  3d also takes up more space in order for it to be photographed.

What are the common mistakes artists make when photographing their artwork?

The most common mistakes artists make when photographing their arwork is they don’t know how to photograph it! 2d work needs to have even light, but that’s easier said than done. Some try to shoot work in the sun.  That’s too bright causing reflections.  Even light can only be found in shadows, but then the work is blue (cyan actually) because the sky’s color is reflected into the shadow. If shooting with film, it is a nightmare, but using digitial you have to know how to color balance and use a possible slight color correction with Photoshop.  Ah… photoshop…you have to learn that also. If you shoot inside you will need lights, stands and a sturdy tripod as well as a camera that is better than a point and shoot.

Describe the type of photograph you need to make to get a good print of your work.

In order to have a good digital print made you will need a high resolution file (300 ppi). To do that, you need a DSLR so you can capture in RAW.  A RAW capture means you have to know photoshop/lightroom in order to edit it.  Do artist’s have the time to learn that program just to have files of their work?  The way I make files for artists is to give them two files of each work. One is a low rez (72 ppi) file for email and a high rez for prints or reproduction (300 ppi).  A bad image or slide will make your work look bad and thus unprofessional.

Thank you Joel.  I have to say in my case, I’d rather get my work photographed by someone dependable!  And – speaking from experience, I remember having images photographed that had a blue (cyan as you say) tinge.

If you live in the Atlanta area, Joel is available for photographing any type of artwork. And, I know from experience, the color will be right on – not to mention the quick turnaround!







Georgia O’Keefe and wrangler Orville Cox,
photographed by Ansel Adams

Georgia O’Keefe was a real pioneer, an artist ahead of her time.  Here as some fun facts about her:

  • Married to photographer Alfred Steiglitz, he took over 300 pictures of her, often nude.
  • Was the first woman to receive a retrospective show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. (1946)
  • Sold her first giant flower painting in 1928, at age 41, for $25,000. In fact, she sold six of them, which apparently was the largest single sale to a living American artist at that time.
  • In 1985, the year before she died, one sold for $1,000,000.
  • She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Gerald Ford, and the National Medal of Arts from Ronald Reagan.
  • A dinosasur fossil is named after her.

Effigia Okeeffeae

  • She lived to be 98, 1887 – 1986
  • She often painted in the nude.
  • She was considered pretty cantakerous her entire life, not having patience for children and often ignoring people she didn’t like – which consisted of fans, agressive men, competitive women and anybody that told her what to do!

The Mona Lisa, O’Keefe


Here are some Georgia O’Keefe quotes.

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

“Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint. ”

“I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.”

“I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me – shapes and ideas so near to me – so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn’t occurred to me to put them down. ”

“It was in the 1920s, when nobody had time to reflect, that I saw a still-life painting with a flower that was perfectly exquisite, but so small you really could not appreciate it.”

“Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished. ”

“You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.”

“I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something – anything I had done – than anyone else I know.”

“I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it.”

“I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint.”

“I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.”

Do you have a favorite Georgia O’Keefe painting?  Finding out these few facts about her made me curious, I’m going to read her biography next



N is for Negative Space, the A TO Z’s of Art

do you see the negative space?

How long as it been since you thought about negative space?

What do you see?  A vase?  Does it take you back to your first drawing class?

What is negative space?  Generally, it is the space between and around the subject.    It is the important to remember it is what gives the subject volume, even though it is often considered the empty space.

what do you see?

A good artist sees that the space surrounding an object is just as important as the object itself.

what do you see?

Negative space has been effective in logos. Do you see the the arrow below? This -almost subliminal arrow – was used as a design element to communicate.

When the viewer see this, it can create a bond.  According to the company, it is intended to “communicate movement, speed”.

Negative space used as a balancing element and without that balance, the rest of the composition would be much less meaningful.

What are some ways you’ve taken advantage of negative space in your own work?



Vickie’s Studio

My house was built in 1975 and is very typical of houses  built in the United States at that time.  Luckily, it had a finished playroom in the basement.

What started out with a mishmash of stuff, like an old couch, book shelves, just  odd furniture.  When painting became more and more a part of my life, the room was gradually taken over.  Finally, about three years ago, we ripped up the carpet, got rid of all the furniture and took everything out of the room that was not art related.

Above, you can see the art table that was built  – it is 6 x 4 ft. with a shelf under neath.

the storage shelf

This table was built in the studio – it would have to be taken apart to get it out!  It is staying there as long as I’m here!

Ziggy, my mascot


drying patio

As you see, there is an exterior door in my studio. We built a small “drying patio” outside  – and I hope to expand upon it eventually.  Plant some flowers, get some garden furniture, make it a meditative garden!

viewing wall

I installed a metal strip to hang works up works in progress (with magnets), or place them on the shelf below.


another view

The flat file came from a gallery that was going out of business.  The book shelves were cleaned out of everything but collage material.

You may notice there are several chairs around the studio.  I am in a book club for artists that meets here monthly.  I’m also in a critique group that meets here periodically too!

I love the space – I believe the room is around 25×15 ft.  But, there are things on my wish list.  As I mentioned above, I’d like to make a meditative garden outside.  AND – someday I’m going to put a sink down there!!!

If you are ever in Atlanta, let me know – I love to have guests!



Today’s post is going to be pretty short and sweet – listing some interesting facts about the Louvre, located in Paris.

  • built as a fortress in the 14th Century
  • was a palace for a while in the 16th Century
  • became a museum open to the public in 1793
  • you can visit the apartment of Napoleon III
  • the most famous piece of art at the Louvre is probably the Mona Lisa, which was stolen in 1911.

newspaper article about the theft of the Mona Lisa

  • Picasso was questioned about the theft and his friend, the poet Apollinaire was actually briefly accused
  •  no one noticed the theft for 24 hours
  • you can read about the theft in the book The Vanished Smile
  • there are has approximately one million pieces of art, and around 35,000 are on display at any given time
  • to see the 35,000 pieces on display, spending one minute at each one, it would take approximately 100 days looking 24/7 without a break.
  • The Pyramid consists of 603 rhombus shaped and 70 triangular glass segments.
  • one can enter the Carosel de Louvre through the Pyramid, which has a McDonalds, Virgin Megatores, Apple, Esprit and even a Hertz.
  • it is closed on Tuesday
  • official website


Anselm Keifer, Women of Antiquity

Anselm Keifer is one of my favorite living artists.  Born in Germany in 1945, he studied with Joseph Beuys during the 1970s.  Frequently using things such as straw, ash, clay, lead, cement and shellac in his works, he creates textures that I love!   He frequently uses themes that revolve around German history and the horrors of the holocaust.

Anselm Keifer, Women of Antiquity


The above photograph is from his series Women of Antiquity.  This addresses the unfair treatment of women in many mythologies, particularly strong women who were often persecuted and usually murdered. The figure in the forefrunt is the poet Myrtis, represented by replacing her head with a lead book, possibly symbolizing the weight of knowledge.  Next is Hypatia, a philosopher and mathematician, represented by a glass geometric shape, an homage to Albrecht Durer’s famous engraving of a Melancholia as a damaged cube.  The last figure is Candidia, a Roman witch known for weaving vipers into her hair.  Keifer has replaced the vipers with rusted razor wire.  Don’t you just love the symbolizm?

The sculptures are made of bronze giving them a sense of strength.  But by making them look so fragile, they also manage to seem vulnerable. 

I included the painting below because – well because I just love his work!

Anselm Keifer, The Milky Way, 1985-87


Pepper 30, Edward Weston

Many artists say they had a life-changing moment. This is such a story.  Joel Conison saw something in the blink of an eye that changed the direction of his life.

What if you were brought up in a traditional household and never thought of yourself as an artist. However, you  had the advantage of a mother being an award winning sculptor in both stone and marble. Your father is a CPA.  A career in art never crosses your mind because you are too busy being a kid.

Going to Ohio State, he did what any normal college boy would do, and trust me, he didn’t write home about it.

He will admit he had an interest in photography. BUT – when taking a photography class, the teacher had a lesson called “art in the dark” – showing famous photographs on a screen. It was here he saw the famous photograph, Pepper 30 by Edward Weston.  At that exact moment he knew he was meant to be a still life photographer. Truly an epiphany in the dark (that is the photograph above).

After seeing that photograph, he moved to Chicago and apprenticed for five years with several still photographers (and yes, one worked for Playboy).

Joel became a successful commercial photographer in the Cincinnati area, photographing prestigious clients like the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati Ballet, But, after 20 years, he found himself a little bored and he knew the advertising business was changing. He had been teaching adults in the evening and realized he liked it. So, he sold everything and moved to Brooklyn and pursued his MFA at Pratt. (This is the highest you can go as a studio artist)

Fast forward to today, he has come full circle. After practicing commercial photography, getting an MFA, teaching on the college level, he went back to what originally made his heart beat – still life art photography.

At this moment he is photographing taxidermied birds. (see them and read his artist statement here) Yes, I didn’t understand taxidermy either, but trust me – animal lovers out there – they are the biggest animal lovers in the world.

I’d love to hear other stories of a moment that changed your life!



What is inspiration?  The word comes from the Latin word inspirare, which literally means “to breathe into”, and it generally refers to a burst of unconscious creativity.

“Where do you get your inspiration?” is probably the most often asked question an artist hears.  “Inspiration is for amateurs – I love to paint and the process inspires me every day.” ~ Chuck Close

Where is inspiration found?  Start by slowing down, paying attention,  and seeing and listening to what is around you.

Join a critique group Get out of the house and find a group of like minded individuals.  There will always be someone there to inspire you.  Connect with other creative people.

Never stop learning.  Take classes, read books, go to lectures.  Alway be curious!

Make a weekly art date.  In The Artist’s Way  by Julia Cameron, she describes them as “assigned play…they fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.”  Listen to Julia describe The Artist Date here.

Observe.  Look at art, get out, go to museums, go to galleries.  Again, slow down, look, ask yourself why you really like certain pieces of art.

Take a walk.   If you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has public art, go look at it.  There is a  permanent installation by Sol Lewitt in Atlanta, pictured below. If not, look at the architecture, look at nature. 

Sol Lewitt, 54 Columns

Most of all remember why you started making art in the first place! Roger Ebert said “The muse visits during the art of creation, not before. Don’t wait for her. Start alone!”

Where do you find your inspiration?  I’d love to know!