A Real Life Artist Ladies and Gentlemen…

I have a knack for meeting someone and making a decision that we will be great friends. This has proved to be a skill and I have only been seriously wrong one time.  I don’t make an announcement of our future BFF status but I make a declaration in my brain.  Being a full fledged adult has not lent itself to many opportunities of meeting new friends which makes me really excited about interviewing moms who are living creative lives.  I picked one of these friends when I met Tosha Wise this week.

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She is a mom of two, wife of a corn farmer, master gardener, keeper of chickens and a serious artist.  You guys, her work is AMAZING.

Both of her adorable boys will be in school full time this fall and she is going to be able to devote more of herself to her art and her business, so stay tuned because she is one you are going to want to watch…

Her view on the Eastern Plains is refreshing and I loved hearing her talk about art, saying “As an artist my favorite piece is always my most recent, it defines me.”

Bri:  Tell me about your favorite medium.

Tosha:  Charcoal and White Pastel. It is expressive, dramatic, and I find the application relaxing.

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B:  I love that you call it dramatic, that is a good way to think of it.   What is your favorite muse?

T:  The clouds, my eyes are always on the clouds.  I have yet to figure out how to draw them, but they inspire me to one day get it right.  Living on the Eastern Plains of Colorado that is where much of the beauty resides.  We are big sky people.

B:  How do you find the time to create while being a mom?

T:  I go to battle.  There are a few methods that I have applied.

  1.  I turn on the TV, aka the babysitter, when the creative mood strikes.
  2.  I have the art on the dining room table and am able to carve out 20 mins here or there.
  3. Burn the midnight oil.  This one takes a toll on my mental and physical stamina.  Sometimes working ten to midnight is the only way to have uninterrupted time.

B:  I am sure so many moms can relate to you saying it is a battle.  What else gets in the way of you creating art?

T:  Life.  Cooking, cleaning, raising small children, grocery shopping, school activities, social life, HBO mini series, etc…  Balance is hard to achieve.  I find when the creative juices are flowing and every mark I make is working my family life falls apart.  The house (which I swear is a living growing beast) is quite the sight and tempers flare.

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Tosha’s work space in her basement.

B:  What is your dream?

T:  To sustain this business on print work and find the elusive balance between art and life.

B:  Tell me about doing commission pieces. What do you love/hate about them? How did you choose to price them?

T:  My goal from the beginning was for this business to be able to sustain itself without eating into “grocery” money.  This is where commissions come into play.  My ultimate goal is to sell prints of my art.  However, it takes funds to make the prints and package them.

I love how commissions push my abilities.  Just recently I made my first colored portrait.  Usually, I just stick with charcoal for portraits but the client wanted the piece to be in color.  I was terrified and put the piece off as long as possible.  Then one day I made a study and something clicked.  In that one day I expanded my portfolio to skin tones.

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What I hate is the risk.  These pieces are time intensive.  I cannot stress the words “time intensive” enough.  If I mess up I have to start all over again.  That’s a terrifying prospect and can put up a mental block.

Self doubt always plays a part in this line of work.  Whenever part of the art making process is not working, I question my abilities and I begin to compare myself to others. This isn’t necessarily a commission problem but can also apply to my personal artwork.

I also find that my style tightens up with commission work and I take less risks.  The product is still quality but I am on edge as I make marks.

Pricing is a common query among the art world.  How do you price?  Do you price by square inches or time?  I had to keep in mind that I am new and have no household name.  Also I wanted to keep pricing affordable yet honor the special nature of the product.  It’s a one of a kind.  I have no idea if I succeeded in creating a sustainable price. I do hope someday I can increase my price because of demand.

B:  What makes you feel alive?

T:  My garden. A colorful place of peace.

B:  What challenges/blessings do you face that are specific to being an artist in rural Colorado?

T:  Let’s start with the blessings.  I find this country has a subtle beauty that never ceases to inspire.  Snowy hay bales, a cattle herd dotting hills, corn harvest, the land in general, etc… The list goes on and on.

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Another positive is the people.  Since I have started offering commissions a handful of locals and a business have given me a chance.  I cannot tell you how thankful I am for the opportunity.

The cons:  There is no vibrant art market and the long long drive to have art shown.  This business is in it’s infancy, and I have had some success but I am on a learning curve.  Each step is new and the growth is slow, but one day I hope to look back and smile. I choose to keep it positive.

B:  Who is your favorite artist?

T:  Andrew Wyeth by far is my favorite.  He is a master of mood, narrative, composition, color, and technique.  Sometimes when I view his body of work I get anxiety.  He has so much and I feel the need to start creating constantly.

Thank you Tosha, I can’t wait to have cocktails with you soon!

 

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