Tag Archives: painting

Rent is due: seeking funding from friends (just kidding. . .well maybe)

Rent is actually paid but a tight squeeze this month –that loss of income for one week vacation– coupled with the airplane ticket to visit family (priceless) oh and that other trip. . .in April.  For friendship (priceless).  I tried to sublet and it almost worked perfectly until it didn’t.   Life is an adventure.    Still I live as if I have enough.  Okay more than enough, well because on so many levels I suppose I do.   I have to admit on the financial scale I’ve been moving backwards since moving to Santa Fe from Alaska nearly 5 years ago, and really one month away from moving into my car.  Still the balance sheet dries in my favor as I contemplate the share apartment ads or moving to Mexico or how to seek funding from a friend in a way that sounds like a real grant proposal request.  Value added.  But there are too many others in need that my cheerleading for self-serving interests seems morally corrupt.  But hey it’s America.  Go for it. Land of plenty and equal opportunity for all and democracy prevails and I pledge allegiance and all that jazz. . .afterall art does matter.


On that thought I go back through a few grant/residency applications for review, and Google sample donation seeking letters for individual artists — but it is likely my own lack of a sense of value  is the roadblock.  And so I spend the morning on CaFE applying ($36) for a free art residency in Mexico and wonder if it is offered how will I afford the airfare and loss of wages (to pay the bills that remain –that pesky student loan –oh and rent too) which leads me back to the seeking funding from friends idea.  Not YOU of course.  Someone else.  Just one person really, who isn’t reading this blog, but is it a good idea? Does it open the door for obligation or sexual favors –you know THAT kind of thing?  Hence the filtering through old proposals trying to make it as professional as possible but suddenly it sounds so much like whining –asking people to choose you. Can you hear it?  Listen. CHOOSE ME.  And while I do believe I am deserving how to express that in a way that actually sounds as if I am the most deserving — (add context here).  My project is basically ordinary and lifelong and nothing life changing for the community at large:  The occasional poet paints or conversations from Lake Chapala (on canvas).  An experiment of language.  No murals under bridges.  Not because I don’t believe in “community” but I generally support from an inner landscape.  A seat at the back of the room.  BECAUSE it becomes the cause for another cause.  And with that, for me, the stress of failing, the exposure out loud in front of an audience, a black hole of expectation, an obligation  (oh my!)  –back to that part about criticism –(ouch).   Of course the point is that it is actually directed and focused and rewarding.  Okay.  I’m trembling here.  My dream is supported solitude and the adventure of meandering in a time out of place.  Specifically near a large body of water. To allow the freedom of creativity to prevail because it will.  Then maybe yes I can do the mural on the subway walls like the one I designed that got an A+ gold star for a day in a class where I never could get the body in proportion on one sheet of paper.  But I have other talents.  We all do.   I know I’m capable. It’s the judgment I fear. I need a dose of courage.  ROAR. I’m sure the pharmaceutical evangelists can set me up.  For a small fee.

And so I decide to share my last attempt for a grant below (whine and all). Cheers.  One awarded to painters 45 or older.  I was not one of the lucky recipients.  The essay question: Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? (and) How would funding help you in your practice?  This is out of context and edited to add some humor for the purpose of this blog.  I’d ask for your thoughts but I probably can’t bear the humiliation.  So you can keep them to yourself –thank you very much.


Why do you consider yourself under-recognized as an artist? How would funding help you in your practice?

Why do I consider myself under-recognized?  I suppose the obvious reason is lack of visibility, and the other is partially our culture’s stunted perception of art-making as a viable career.  The need to meet basic expenses such as rent and groceries leads me to cobble together several day jobs as a resource for daily living.  To survive.  And of course my introverted nature, while blessing me with the gift for creative problem solving and insight, keeps me a bit outside our new world order of social media and marketing or selling guns on the black market  –but I do reach out: to Facebook, a blog, my own website.   I venture forth on these platforms carefully.  A toe in the water, mostly from the fear of exposure, retaliation and ridicule (deep water here –all those childhood wounds of criticism and make fun of: bookworm, lazy, clumsy, houseplant “stupid” the phone -–well you get the picture). Art has the potential to raise questions.  To push into emotional joy and trauma and beauty and insight.  To stir things up and to comfort.  All things intangible yet essentially vital to promote a sustainable society.  As an artist, I believe I am exploring the fundamental question of what it means to be human.  Aren’t we all? Afterall, my heart is out there in full color and –at the end of the day I am willing to accept the responsibility of greater visibility.  My small works have been accepted into a new contemporary fine art gallery in Santa Fe (sale pending in fact).  I am hanging with some very reputable artists.   On display for company or candlelight. . .SMA artview

Note:  being represented by a fine art gallery does not necessarily guarantee a sustainable income.  Still I am grateful.

I recently wrote on my blog, in reference to new work in progress, “what do you think?”  Work I felt proud of, excited by, a breakthrough.  Hopeful.  But an emotional risk asking such things of others.  While it might draw love, praise, a financial ping, support, etc., it also carries the possibility of ridicule or shame. The joy of recognition is thrilling. Everyone loves to win, loves being accepted as a serious artist and being rewarded for what is deemed an “untraditional” career choice.

What would it be like if I were paid to get up everyday and go to the studio instead of relying on sales from my work or running errands for other people as Girl Friday/Personal Assistant? (though these often incredulous and interesting interludes do provide fodder for potential writings and sketches).  The financial rewards of receiving a grant as a great relief from stress cannot be separated from the fantastic joy of being validated as an artist.  To have people buy your work is certainly rewarding yet I cannot rely solely on the impression of others for my well-being as a creative person.  I create because it is a calling.  The process of making art is who I am.  A work in progress for sure but fully intentional or possibly happenstance, still I hope I am giving the best parts of myself to the world.  To be anything less is the failing.

For several years I have wanted to work bigger –60”x60” or more.  Curious how changing scale will affect my painting.  Even the physicality of working larger.  Will the smaller works transfer and bloom?  I think they will.  In response to my 12”x12” abstracts people have said, “Oh, this would look great bigger.”   This size and the square format have worked well for exploring composition, color and texture – and though these works stand on their own, I sometimes view them as maquettes.  A practice for something greater. About a year ago I painted two 48”x24” works with some success.  One sold.  One is now weathering on the fence in my yard as I contemplate the composition. I tried throwing it into the trash after taking it down from a show but it was too big so it ended up on the fence.  I rather like it there where I see it everyday from my window.  And to some extent rebelling against creativity as economics, to value myself and my process and to surrender to art on the fence versus art in the gallery is very liberating.  Though truthfully the grant would be validating and relief from economic stress.  At least temporarily and this is enough.

I  moved into a smaller apartment to save $200/month and still I wake up each morning calculating my resources, trying to remember what odd jobs I have so I don’t forget or overbook, and wonder how can I market my work so art can help pay the rent? This grant would take away some of the financial burden of the day to day and allow more devoted studio time to explore ideas, to push, loosen up, and grow forward.  I feel ripe and deserving.  My new work represents a positive direction for me.  Cleaner palette, playful shapes, expression, experimentation.  I see myself as a painter with potential to make great work.   Any resources are gratefully appreciated (well this part is probably true).



Now available on ETSY 12″x12″ original photos/uniquely framed – $160 + shipping

Brenda Roper is an artist and occasional poet who currently lives in a small studio in a great neighborhood in Santa Fe, NM where she cobbles together a variety of jobs including walking dogs and falling flat on her face when they suddenly dash after a shape in the dark (true story).  She recently opened an ETSY shop to showcase her unique and colorful painterly photos and her small abstracts on canvas can be seen (and purchased) at Kristin Johnson Fine Art.

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Passing through the visible. . .

Passing through the visible.  In art and images.  A series of self-portrait as experiment. I am not an apparition.  Question. Not a ghost in the mirror.  Question.  The photos prove it. Right?  I am not invisible.  Question.  In and out of the void.  Potential title for painting.  Passing through the visible. Potential title for painting.  No value.  A pun.  Just checking.


It began with the dream.  The one at the beginning of the week where I reached in my pocket for my phone and when I pulled it out found it broken in half and watched it crumble.  Disintegrate like glass.  Itty bitty flecks.  No repair.  Sharp and sudden and final.  No communication.  Disconnected.

We all circle the earth in our armor.


A job that suddenly ends like a car crashing into a tree.  And then, like a cartoon, no one is really hurt and we start again.  Never happened.  Repeat. Though on some level it feels that violent.  Okay.  Hmmm.


And there is death.  Out of our control and so far away.  There is devastation and love and gathering.  Observation.  There is peace and anger.  There are questions without answers.  There is preparedness and shock.  There is wonderment and bafflement.  There is no communication.  Or is there.  That’s a question too.  The dream tells the story.


The painting in flux.  Composition no. 9 or no. 10 or all the compositions and all the possibilities and nothing.  It is one moment in time and then another.  It is ever present and changing and I could throw it away without regret.  It is the process.  One day at a time.  Monday morning after the rain.

The alligator is belly up on the rock outside my door.  It is yellow.  A yellow belly.  Another oddity.  Was it the water or the wind or something else?  Someone was in my house.  Not a friend.  Not invited.  The bathroom tells the story but it is only conspiracy theory.  Intuition.  There is no fear.  But wonder.

All the rugs are gone.  That is the first clue.  Another ending.  A shift in what was commonplace every other Sunday.  Reliable.  All my jobs are ending.  Shifting.  Nothing is guaranteed.  A moment of powerlessness.  Days.  Digest.  Regroup.  Go forward.  These are the lessons of life.  Of doing the work.  Of awareness.  Of taking the risk to connect and the loss that follows.  Of letting go of expectation and entitlement and negative self-defeating patterns.  I am passing through the visible.  Child of the moon.  Invisible is still a place.

The face in the mirror is mine.  The eyes of my father.  I am the bastard daughter.



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March madness (not a shopping expedition)

March came on Friday.  Rabbit rabbit. A madness that blows in with the longing for spring.  The return of  light and warmth and hope for our weary winter souls.  Though we carry on.  Make our plans.  I felt disoriented.   Last week my balance off kilter.  Unsure where to be when, double booking.  Then pause.  Who’s on first?  Full moon.  A gentle interlude.  Obsession and isolation and be patient.  I feed myself movies and rice.  And today the sun shines so brilliant on flowers inside my house.  All the joy floods through the door.

Random thoughts from a weekend where winter reigned — beneath a full moon:

  • they call them “designer dogs” –crossing a Labrador with a standard poodle.  Labradoodle.  Originated in Australia. Love the Besa dog
  • to MAC or not to mac –and cheese.  PC?  These questions and iPhone or Droid and options and do I really need a smart phone?
  • I could run away my winter fat on the Dale Ball trails.  Or run away.
  • panic at being poor though not homeless and the perspective that brings it all back to grateful am I and so rich despite the bank balance and lucky too and talk to sisters and friends and take a bath and take a hike and maybe a walk on the wilder side of my nature.
  • Homeland has caught my attention and I cringe when Carrie goes through shock therapy thinking she’s wrong when she is the only one who has it right.  Still the label of crazy too convenient for dismissal in a world that does not allow for other. (I know it’s only sitcom).

And today the hope of spring prevails.  Fresh chard from the Farmer’s Market.  The mailman’s radio tuned to a ball game.  Bring me some peanuts and cracker jacks. . . permeated my sense of accomplishment at using day-glo zip ties to repair my dryer rack.  My version of duct tape.  I sat it in the yard feeling happy with laundry.  Sat in the sun talking on the phone to my big sister.  Chicken in the oven.  A glass of French pinot.


And I am painting.  Oil.  Glazing.  Small works on canvas.  Are they equations or villages or walls — or simply abstract shapes without narration?  Do I scribble more or less?  Excavate.  Smooth over.  Draw.  Then wipe it all away.  I am intuitive but the paintings do not feel intuitively painted.  Expressive yes but still I hold back.  Uncertain.  How to proceed.  When to stop?  Outline or blend?  What tool works best with oil?  I experiment. I am a trial and error artist.  Some call it process.  Not to be confused with progress though I believe I am making some.  Progress.

A friend gifted me 6 inches of Art News.  I look through the pages.  Tear out an image.  The cat rolls on her back.  I tape up an abstract by Lillian Orlowsky (who studied with Hans Hoffman).  Her foundation PAAM offers a grant to painters over 45.  Check it out!


What do you think?

I’m hopeful the gallery might be interested.  For the May opening.  Small works.  And if not I am still having fun.  On my path.  Figuring it out — one painting at a time.


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who works as a Personal Assistant/Girl Friday to a variety of interesting people in Santa Fe, NM.  Please visit her website for more images of her work.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.

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