Cairns

I’ve recently read articles about how people are stacking stones too much and the various ecological problems associated with creating them. Personally… I believe that is a gargantuan load of PC BS.
Since the dawn of humans on this planet we have looked for ways to express ourselves and these cairns are a supreme example of that. There is something meditative, peaceful and “in-the-moment” about creating these and when finished a sense of primal accomplishment no matter how simple they may have been. Part of the oneness with our environment the cairn-maker feels is knowing that the elements will eventually participate in the overall process by deconstructing the human creation and place the stones back among the landscape thus making the process complete. However before the overall process is complete the cairn stands and reminds other visitors to the area that a brother or sister human was there, enjoyed a creative and meditative moment then left the area with a communication that they were there but knowing eventually there would be no trace of their visit whatsoever… and are happy with that.

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~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

Thank You Nice People For Being Nice People

As a bagpiper (it’s one of the things I do in my small business, EssexArt ABC, LLC) I just finished doing many performances during a long, fun-filled, St. Patrick’s Weekend in Indianapolis. It’s been a couple of days now since my last performance on Monday, March 18 (yes… the day after St. Patrick’s Day) and my body is still a little sore and fatigued. The weekend performances started on Friday, March 15 in the morning at an historic downtown Indianapolis private club, The Antelope Club, that opened its doors for revelers to start their day before the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. That parade always occurs in Indianapolis on a week day and since the holiday fell on Sunday this year, Friday was parade day. After having some Murphy’s Irish Stout (the good people who sponsored many of my performances during the weekend bring that fine product to the Indianapolis area) and bagpiping to an appreciative crowd at “The Lope”, I joined in with Antelope Club members who had a parade unit and marched in the parade. Or maybe I should say marched in the cold, windy, misty and… COLD parade (I really don’t think I expressed enough how bitingly COLD the parade was). Of course I played my bagpipes the whole way, but about half-way through the parade my fingers were numb and it seemed my bagpipe reeds were frozen and mad at me for being so demanding of them, like an irritated Chihuahua after fetching the same ball for the 378th time … but on I marched and played. Why? Because the cold, bundled-up parade watchers smiled, cheered, applauded and appeared to be genuinely appreciative.
Appreciative, that’s the word and description that inspired this blog entry in the first place. At each of my bagpiping performances before, during and after the parade on Friday… and at all performances on Saturday… and Sunday… and the one on Monday… I  had a wonderful time and encountered countless nice and appreciative people. There I was, just a regular guy… yes, kilted, sporting more green beads than Mt. T has gold necklaces… and playing bagpipes… but really just a regular guy, but was continually humbled by friendly people who came up and nicely asked, “Can I (or we) get a picture with you?” I’ve got to admit, I’m always a little surprised when I’m asked and there is a part of me that feels I should respond with, “Who me? YOU want a picture with ME?”, then look around to see to whom they are REALLY speaking… but it’s always me. Without exception I am always humbled, and thrilled, to be asked for this picture request. Of course I gladly comply 100% of the time. Truth be known, I love getting pictures with people who are allowing me to be a part of their happy celebration. Those nice people always convey how appreciative they are of my bagpiping and getting a picture with me. I honestly can’t imagine that any of them have an inkling of how much they have made my day better by their inquiry. Sure, I try to convey it, but it is simply not possible to communicate, in such short time, how much my day is brightened by them.
After the holiday weekend performances and parading was over and I was waking up the next day with a sore back, aching legs and with my throat and lips feeling as if I just blown up enough character balloons to fill the next eight Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, my mind went to the many requests for photos with me. Those nice people conveyed how glad they were I was a part of their day by their request. I suspect, no matter how I try, I’ll never be able to convey to them the truly deep-felt, lasting, appreciative thankfulness I have for them and how much better they made my days.
Thank you nice people for being nice people.
(Just a few of the photos are shown below)

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.

To view what Essex does, and to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

 

A Nice Note Can Go A Long Way

  The occurrence I’m about to write about here today is one that happened about 7 months ago, yet the impact of it resonates with me still.
Something I do every morning… or noon… when I wake up is go to my email and art business social media pages. I start my day by corresponding with clients or potential clients, confirming caricaturing, painting class or bagpiping engagements, uploading recent work, posting about a sale in my online store, etc., etc. On one particular day though, in July of 2018, I discovered a note written to me from someone I have never met. It was just five sentences long but needed to be no longer because it spoke volumes. The note simply read, “I bought two of your paintings of fish at an estate sale in The Villages, FL. Just love them both. One was when you were at Cable Beach, waiting up for your son to get home! Caricaturist of Fish! 1998. Just wanted to say how much I love both of them!! Karen”
Note From a Fan
Mind you, I’ve had patrons pay me compliments before, which I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say I’ve enjoyed (I am human you know). Mostly those kind words come at the immediate completion and/or delivery of a work or during an exhibit of my work. Of course at an exhibit, kind words accompanied by a purchase of my work is also something I’m not the least bit embarrassed to say I enjoy… immensely (like I said, human you know). However, the thing that struck me most about about the kind note of which I’m writing is the fact it not only came from someone I’ve never met, but also the person could have never even contacted me and I would have never known about the transaction she made in acquiring the artworks of my creation that gave her so much joy. And isn’t that kind of the norm? Think of all the times we could have written a kind note or said a kind word… but didn’t. This person, Karen, did make the effort to contact me and literally make my good day even brighter.
So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I know I learned a valuable lesson when I received Karen’s note. Don’t hesitate to share a kind word with those who have had a part in making you pleased about something. Anything really, it doesn’t have to be about artwork you are glad you purchased. Heck, if the pizza you ordered last night was really good and you commented about that fact to your fellow pizza eaters, call up the manager of the pizza place and share your pleasure with him/her too. Trust me, that manager will thrilled to hear a compliment rather that a complaint.
Okay… I learned a second important lesson too. Keep making art (okay, I didn’t need another lesson to convince me of this but read on). Because, as Karen’s note also taught me, or brought to the forefront of my thinking, much of the joy one has in creating a piece of artwork stays with the artwork and continues to transfer to others years after the art has left your care.
Now go out and start the process of transferring joy.
Cheers.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.

To view what Essex does, and to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

Artists Need Money, Not Just To Survive, But To Create

Of course I’m not saying all an artist should do is cater to what he or she sees as the market for his or her work. I’m simply saying one should not (at all) disregard those who could very well be a target audience. Oops… perhaps I’m a little ahead of myself.

One of the great things about being an artist is the freedom to create an express freely. Artists have something to say and I believe the world becomes just a little better of a place when an artist makes their statement through their art. Throughout human history people have felt an inner desire to express themselves through the visual arts, music, dance, the performing arts, literature and whatever other artistic expression might be out there. As a result there are temples that pay homage to those expressions. We call them art museums, concert halls, theaters, libraries and whatever other edifices that are created to present artistic creations. As one takes-in and enjoys what is presented in those temples, and since I’m a visual artist I’m going to not speak solely from that perspective (feel free to read on from your own favorite expressive disciplines perspective) here is something to keep in mind. Not all of the works displayed are a result of the artist freely making a statement or expression. Many of the works are the result of a commission. Many others, dare I say, are the result of an artist trying to make a living and catering to a particular market. What? This can’t be? What about artistic integrity? What about the artist baring his or her soul? Yeah… that’s only done by artists who don’t like to eat, have shelter, clothes and/or rely on someone else to provide life’s necessities to them… kind of like having a pet.

If an artist wants to create free expressions freely and independently, that artist needs to have monetary income. Period. The dirty little reality is that even artists need money, not just to survive, but to create. Fact is, even visual artists who stick solely to creating by repurposing found objects incur costs. If the costs can’t be met, the creations don’t occur. It really is that simple. Consequently, if one wants to live the artist’s life (and it IS a wonderful life) then one needs to consider deeply what one has to do to live it. Of course the artist can go get a job outside of the arts to have an income that will cover the standard costs of living, but that basically takes away from artwork-time while working and can leave one too tired to create after the work day. However another thing one can do is focus on the market for his or her particular art and cater some of his or her works for that particular market. (now go back and read my first paragraph… minus the last sentence of it)

Creating art that is targeted toward a certain demographic, is still creating art. “Oh but what if a friend calls me a sell-out?” That person is not your friend and evidently has no idea how you have a soul-deep need to do your art. Even those great Renaissance artists worked to gain favor of potential patrons in an effort to get their commissions.

When pondered upon, this whole idea of catering to a particular art market so more artwork can be created really is a no-brainer. Why bother taking up cyber-space with pontifications on something so basic? I’ll tell you why, humans (you and me included) need to be reminded now and again of even the simple stuff. Okay… full disclosure… I need to bring those thoughts forward from the back burner now and again and not lose sight of how important the simple stuff is. Case in point, I offer prints of my artwork and graphics in my EssexArt ABC online store. Just this week I realized there is a particular  market for race fans who do a yearly pilgrimage to Indianapolis in May (Indy hosts the largest single day sporting event in the world during that month… if you’ve not heard of it you might want to look it up 😉 ). I post my artwork in my online store regularly and it recently dawned on me to create some graphics that appeal to race fans, for two reasons. One, of course I’m hoping they’ll purchase my products created specifically for them. Two, I’m hoping for greater exposure for my other artwork there (and indeed… purchases) as race fans browse in my store. There you have it. By catering some of my  artworks to a particular market, potential benefits open for the rest of my artworks. This just makes sense to me.

By the way, I’m one of those Indy race fans to which I’m targeting my race fan products. I’ve been going to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ever since I was a little kid and the bleachers were smaller and all made of wood. Yeah, I’m that old. 🙂

 

 

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

Become Aware of the Joy Available To You

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I’ve been busy with commissions this Christmas season. Interestingly, when one is busy with commissions during the holidays it sometimes feels like the joy of the season is passing by as one works alone in the studio. Then again, when feedback occurs and people are happy with the final work that was created, one becomes aware of a real joy that occurs and a part of Christmas seems to appear early.

I find my work fun… in fact I don’t take commissions unless I consider them fun… and I’ve got to add it’s a big warm-fuzzy when clients are super happy with what I present to them. So now, the more I think about it, I’m not missing any joy of this time of year after all. In fact, truth be known, the commissions add a sense of joy (in more ways than one) that I actually would miss if it were not for them.

Whether you yourself are involved with commissioning work, working on commissions or none of the above… may you become aware of the joy available to you this wonderful time of year.

Merry Christmas

Pictured are two of the several commissions I’ve received this Christmas season..

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
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Consider An Alternative Space

 

As an artist I’ve had the pleasure of exhibiting in typical artsy places like art galleries and universities but artists, and those looking for original art, might consider alternative spaces.
For another two weeks my artwork will be on display and for sale at an artisan distillery near downtown Indianapolis. The place, Hotel Tango in Fletcher Place, is in an old brick building and has a large tasting room that brings in a lot of people. Are those people coming in to purchase art? Of course not, they come in to meet people, socialize and enjoy craft cocktails. But alternative spaces, particularly like Hotel Tango, often have a high volume of continual traffic, and traffic is what the artists needs. Exposure is the name of the game. In the case of an artisan distillery (again like Hotel Tango), the draw for people is partly due the fact they are enjoying something locally produced. All of a sudden it appears some in the crowd are inching toward your artwork because of their appreciation of supporting something local. Will this (or any alternative) space guarantee sales? No way… but keep in mind art galleries don’t either.
Now to get pragmatic. It’s been my experience, more often than not, alternative spaces do not require a commission on art sales (which can be as high as 50% in art galleries). Theoretically this allows the artists to offer their works at a lower, some might say more reasonable, prices. Good for the artist, good for the buyer. Additionally, artists getting exposure of their work instead of having it in storage until the next art gallery opportunity is a plus. In other words unless potential buyers regularly rummage through your stored artwork, having the work up anywhere is a plus.
So there you have it. To those looking to purchase original art, consider stopping in an alternative space to start, or add to, your personal art collection. You’ll be glad you considered supporting the local art scene in this manner. As for artists, ask yourself which you’d prefer, the potential of a sale of your work in an alternative space, or the guarantee of no sale with your work hidden while in storage?

 
~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.

To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,

 

John Essex II will be exhibiting and offering for sale his artwork at artisan distillery Hotel Tango, 702 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis, throughout November.
After a successful First Friday opening in November, the exhibit/sale continues to be available for viewing and purchases daily during regular Hotel Tango business hours.
Free parking lots located in front of, and behind, the building.

Extend The Vacation Feel

The Cliffhanger, St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies

The Cliffhanger, St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies, watercolor on paper.

 When on vacation, it’s always nice to have a souvenir that serves as a pleasant reminder  of your time away from the hubbub. Usually that means T-shirt purchases, special photos taken while away, acquiring post-cards or a special something picked up at a nice gift shop. All are fine and pursuing those acquisitions can certainly be a fun activity in themselves. However, might I also suggest another fun activity? Create some artwork.
When I travel I always take along art materials in the hope that I’ll be able to spend some time creating something I (or someone else) will consider worthwhile. More often than not the materials I choose are watercolors, professional watercolor markers, artist quality ink pens and acid free paper. It’s surprising how much of the above can be packed away in luggage (carry-on included) and not take up any noticeable space.
After arriving at the designated get-away, the art materials can then be tossed into a backpack, beach bag, messenger bag, etc. (whatever the preferred carry-along) and taken with you as you enjoy your destination. Then, when the chance to sit and soak it all in presents itself, whip out those art materials and create a treasured keepsake, inspired by the surroundings, that will be enjoyed for years to come and will probably even become someones favorite heirloom.
The ink and watercolor painting accompanying this blog was done while my family and  I visited a beach on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. Time had been spent snorkeling, swimming and gathering beach glass and next it was time to chill. Out came my watercolors, ink pen and watercolor paper. From my spot on the beach I did an artwork as seen to my left as I sat on the beach, and one as seen to my right. Not only did this provide wonderful souvenirs from that time in the beach, but it also provided enhanced memories of that time. One of those works is now in someones private collection, the other hangs in my house continually reminding me of yet another wonderful vacation experience. As a side note to that beach painting time, I still have some sand from that beach in some of my paint colors. Even that brings back great memories every time I use those paints and see that sand.
Keep in mind when creating vacation artwork, one does not need to be a professional artist. All that is really need is to have the place to create artwork and the materials with which to create it. Just because a professional artist packs professional quality art materials, those are really not needed at all. All one really needs are materials that amount to things as simple as paper and pencil and those can be found (more often than not) at the destination. Do a drawing on the hotel stationary that is available in hotel rooms. Drawing on the side that has the name of the hotel on it will only add to the souvenir attraction to the artwork.  Once upon a time I did a beach scene on a small admission ticket to the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas. It has been in a frame ever since and it brings pleasant memories every time it’s viewed.
So the next time a you find yourself enjoying a favored vacation destination, and wish to extend the vacation feel, do so via artwork you’ve created on-site while away. Chances are you’ll be glad you did… and even more glad as time separates you, more and more, from that pleasant vacation experience.

~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains an online print-on-demand store where patrons can acquire gallery quality giclée prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work.
To view what Essex does, and/or to shop at his online store, go to: https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,