Post-Burning Man…Art, Expectations, Obligations, Failure & Lessons Learned.

As many of you know, I recently returned from my 5th sojourn to the Burning Man festival deep in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. This was the third year I brought my Black Rock Portrait Project to the Playa. (My 5th Burn total.) And this was the first year that it was mostly a failure. A variety of factors went into this failure, however I take full responsibility. Many lessons were learned, especially about myself.

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Me (and Kristina Tripp) out on the Playa on the Mushroom Patch Art Car, the highlight of my Burn.

My first mistake: Expectation. I decided to go to the Burn with a couple of good friends who were “virgins” (someone who has never been to Burning Man before). I was under the assumption that they would be natural Burners, that they would love it. I was wrong. I expected that they would be the gung-ho, outgoing people I thought they were. I was wrong. I assumed they would help get me out of myself, would push me to go do more things. Again I was wrong. Don’t misunderstand me, it is not their fault, everyone is different and responds to the one-of-kind experience that is Burning Man in their own way. The fault is mine for expecting anything of them, for expecting anything from the experience instead of just letting it flow. The fault is mine for not kicking my own butt and getting out on my own, doing the things I wanted to do, without them. Which brings me to…

My second mistake: Obligation. Because I encouraged them to go, facilitated their trip, and because they took on the lion’s share of the RV bill, I felt obligated to do what they wanted to do, including leaving the Burn days early, which I should not have done. I was having a bad day, which happens out there, and I agreed to it.  Again, this was my own fault. I could have chosen to say no, to strike out on my own, but I didn’t. It was my choice, and chose to be obliged.

My third mistake: Not getting out to take photos enough. Although I was sick for 2 days, (and felt fairly crappy for a few more days), the weather was bad for a couple more days,  and we left early, I should have kicked myself in the butt to get out with the camera more. This is the main reason the trip was a failure. I went into some pretty serious debt to go and share my project and get more images to create paintings from for my Black Rock Portrait Project. And I feel like it was not worth it. For the first time it was not worth it. Again, I take full responsibility for this. I did find some great models, and a few paintings will come out of this experience, so it isn’t a total loss…

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My Black Rock Portrait Project display at Burning Man.

I am still mentally processing the trip, the disappointment (mainly in myself), and the aftermath. I did get out of my comfort zone, which was one of my goals this year, though not quite in the way I had intended. I did manage to have some fun, especially out riding on the Mushroom Patch art car (thank you Michael!). The art out on the playa was spectacular this year. My camp-mates at Whiskey & Dust are about the best Burners out there, wonderful people and great friends. And I did learn a lot about myself. Tough lessons, but good. Will I return to Burning Man? Probably. But next time, I will not put the trip on the credit card. I will do my best not to have any expectations of others, and I will not oblige myself (mentally or otherwise) to anything but my camp and my project.

If you’d like to see some of the model pics from this year, click here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.729892513732784.1073741825.169502786438429&type=3

Learn more about the Black Rock Portrait Project here: http://blackrockportraitproject.com/blackrockportraitproject.com/Home_Page.html

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New Book, New Work, and all those Cranes…

If you haven’t heard by now, (I’ve been marketing the thing like crazy) I’ve published a little book on the Black Rock Portrait Project oil painting studies as a fundraiser for the project, which will be returning to the Playa this year. You can see and order it here: http://vlasicstudio.com/vlasicstudio.com/Order_the_Book__the_Black_Rock_Portrait_Project__the_Study_Paintings.html  The book turned out great, and I’m very pleased with it. (this is the first book for the project, I will still be creating a large book on the completed project in the future).

Speaking of fundraising, I am offering the painting “Michelle” at 50% off in my Etsy store, all proceeds go to support the project: https://www.etsy.com/shop/VlasicStudio (In fact, the sale of this painting would fund the entire trip, so I would be extremely grateful to ship her off to a new home.)

This year’s trip to Burning Man will not only include the continued taking of photographs of people to later create paintings from, but I’ll also set up a display of the project with images of the paintings, something I promised to do at the Project’s inception in 2011. It’s my way of giving back to the community that inspired it. Any support you’d like to provide to help make this happen is greatly appreciated: http://www.blackrockportraitproject.com/blackrockportraitproject.com/Support_the_Project.html I am rather excited about the journey to Black Rock City this year. It will be the first year that I am going out early (to help build our theme camp and install my display) and staying late (to help tear it all down.) I’ll be on-site for 12 days total. It’s a very different experience being there before the event opens, meeting all the serious Burners out there to build camps, install art, and create the city’s foundation. I’m really looking forward to it.

On that note, I’m working on completing as many paintings for the project as I can before I leave for BM in August. I’m very excited about this one, “Warrior Princess” (it’s a big one, 2 x 4′.) Here are a couple in-studio images of the painting in progress: (There’s still a very long way to go, but I am happy with it so far.)

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More New Work: This lovely little painting for the Wallflower series is currently up for auction: http://www.ebay.com/itm/121329239661?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649

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Into Instagram? I’ve been getting really busy there lately, sharing lots of little videos and images as I’m painting: http://instagram.com/vlasicstudio_livethefablife#

And about all those cranes…If you read my last post, you’ll know that I started a little personal project, folding 1000 cranes from ArtForum magazine pages. I finished! I now have bags and boxes full of colorful cranes crammed into my art studio’s storage area, ready to create an installation. If the Man and I could only agree on where this installation will go…I will post pics when the installation phase starts.

That’s all for now, I hope you have a marvelous weekend. I’ll be here in the studio, painting away…

By the way, sign up for my private Collector’s List and see all new work and here all the news first. You’ll receive about 2 emails a month. http://vlasicstudio.com/vlasicstudio.com/Guest_Book_%26_Contact.html

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Re-dedicating to Art, and my journey of 1,000 cranes…

December 20th, 2013.

Looking back at my calendar, I realize that, horror of horrors, I have not painted in over two months. How did this happen? It would be easy to say that I’ve just been too busy. That I’ve been working on the house, working on ways to keep money coming in to keep a roof over my head, like the dog-sitting business I started in April, and all that would be true. But it goes deeper than that. I think part of me is disillusioned. Disappointed. Fed up with the molasses-slow pace of my career as a painter. I got to focusing too much on (and being angry at) the money side of things (which is understandable as painting is my “J.O.B.” and my only income, besides the dog-sitting) and at the lack of sales of late. Hell, maybe I just needed a break. But I’d forgotten what a joy it is to paint, how wonderful it feels to complete a piece, to watch a series coming together. What a very necessary part of my existence it is. It’s time to get back at it, and with a more positive attitude. Yea, I’m still broke as fuck, but I can’t paint with a focus on money. I won’t, it rips all the joy out of it. I need to paint for me, and to Hell with whether it sells or not. (I will of course still be selling all my work, I’m just not going to obsess over it anymore.) The dog-sitting has been (almost) enough to cover my basic expenses, and that will have to do for now. It’s funny, I’ve been almost afraid to start painting again. But here I go. Pick up the brush, one stroke at a time…

It’s not painting, but…

I’ve started on a little side-project, one just for me. I’ve become kind of obsessed with origami lately, namely cranes. The legend is that if you make 1,000 cranes, your wish will be granted (or you’ll have good luck, or something along those lines.)  I don’t believe in luck, or fate, or anything like that. I believe you make your own “luck” and circumstances. However, I do believe in focus. I believe that the disciplined act of folding the cranes, with the intention of the “wish” is a form of focused meditation. I have embarked on a “Crane Meditation” with a positive focus on my art career. And, I have this big stack of old Art Forum magazines, which happen to have square pages, perfect for origami. What better to create this art-intention origami from than images of art? I am now about 50 cranes in. I am enjoying the process, looking at the beautiful images of art I am folding, and am actually finding it inspiring. My goal is to fold 10 cranes a day for 100 days. Then I will create an installation of the cranes somewhere in the house, probably in my art studio. I will post pictures of my progress.

There have been some beautiful origami installations in the last few years. Here are a few of them:

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This amazing installation of cranes for Japan earthquake relief, assembled by artist Vic Muniz

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2011/08/origami-crane-made-from-2000000-origami-cranes-a-flapping-success-for-japanese-earthquake-relief/

This pretty street art in San Fransisco fly

http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles

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90And the amazing work of my friend the artist Briana Martray shown here installed at the DIA airport. This installation of thousands of cranes was made from a novel she wrote and never submitted, and because of a computer crash is the only copy of the novel. http://www.briannamartray.com/

I like what this blogger had to say about it: http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs009/1101719606728/archive/1106450559286.html

So here goes my journey of 1,000 cranes, and the re-dedication of my (joyful) artistic career path. Happy Holidays all, and with this New Year my wish that 2014 is the best year yet, for all of us.

See my Available Artwork at www.vlasicstudio.com

cupcakefinalcopyright“Cupcake”, oil on board, 12″ x 12″.

Currently on view at CHG Circa Gallery (Corey Helford Galleries sister space) in Los Angeles, CA in the “Instant Gratification” show.

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Yes, the Black Rock Portrait Project is Alive and Well…

I’ve just updated the Black Rock Portrait Project website:
http://www.blackrockportraitproject.com/blackrockportraitproject.com/Home_Page.html

(Image credit Marie Vlasic 2012)

manwebI’ve been pining for the Man, I admit. It’s been a bit torturous watching friends getting ready to leave for Burning Man. I didn’t expect be feel so melancholy at not going this year, but I AM bound and determined to go next year. More on that in a minute…

It has been, well, an interesting couple of years, and due to family and financial obligations, the Black Rock Portrait Project is taking longer than originally intended. For that I do apologize. However it is alive and well! I am still creating small study paintings for the project (which you can see on the “Paintings” link on the Black Rock Portrait Project website) and am just now starting the 3rd large Gallery Painting. As a result of the delay in the Project, it has grown and changed a bit. I am doing something a little different with the paintings now that I am very excited about, so the delay has ultimately been a good thing. Stay tuned for painting updates!

All of you wonderful people who helped the project get to the Playa in 2011 and 2012 (you have my deepest gratitude for your generosity and patience) will still be receiving all your donation rewards if you haven’t already. (the book will take the longest, as I plan to add images from next year’s Burn to complete it) The new projected completion time for the Project is Fall/Winter 2014. I am planning a trip to Burning Man for the 2014 festival to bring the Portrait Project “to the People” with a gallery art installation of the paintings and images from the Project, which will be displayed in a gallery-like 10×20 white tent at the festival. This is something I intended to do from the beginning, and have decided to incorporate it into the Portrait Project book to bring it all full-circle. Yes, there will be fundraisers to make this happen, more on that soon. If you’d like to help the project, your donations are greatly appreciated, and rewards are all still being honored.

Thank you again for your support and attention as this Portrait Project continues, and if you are on your way to Burning Man this year, enjoy the hell out of it for me.

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How to Talk to Artists at Art Festivals- The Do’s and Don’ts (Warning: You’ve probably been guilty of at least one of the don’ts…)

vlasicstudio:

I posted this article I wrote over on my Lifestyle blog, and it is such a hit, I thought I would share it over here as well. Enjoy!

Originally posted on the Year of Living Fabulously:

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How to Talk to Artists at Art Festivals – the Do’s & Don’ts (Warning: You’ve probably been guilty of at least one of the don’ts…)

I visited the Cherry Creek Arts Festival here in Denver today. I go every year. As an artist I was fortunate enough to be chosen to show at this festival (one of the top 3 outdoor art festivals in the country) for 3 consecutive years back in the 2000’s. (I’ve since moved on to strictly gallery exhibits) As I was wandering around enjoying the art, I was struck by the conversations around me, and reminded of the “horror stories” shared by fellow artists (and experienced myself over the many years of doing outdoor shows) about rude and insensitive people, and even well-meaning people who unintentionally insult the artist. On the other side, I see many people who are intimidated by art and feel insecure talking…

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Girls on Film…the Creation of the Paintings “Cupcake” & “Red”

http://youtu.be/zbB5a6j3yj4

Here is a short and sweet little video chronicling the creation of my two oil paintings, “Cupcake” & “Red”, currently being exhibited at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles. I’m planning to do more of these “creation” videos, so I’d love to hear what you think. What else would you like to see?

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Next Best Thing to Being There…

Wish I could have been there…

The Art Collectors Starter Kit show at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles looks like it was a grand success. In lew of attending myself, I send a “spy”, my friend Anthea Christensen, a photographer who lives in the area. She said it was a great opening, a cool vibe and a hip crowd. Here’s some pictures (see if you can pick out my 2 paintings)

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(So honored to be among these great artists…photo by Sam Graham)

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(Can you find my painting on the wall to the right?…photo by Sam Graham)

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(there’s the other painting on the left…photo by Sam Graham)

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(Some nice gentleman looking at my painting…photo by Anthea Christensen)

NOW AVAILABLE 10 x 10″ Limited-Edition (25) Giclee’ Prints of “Cupcake” & “Red”, only $80.00 FREE SHIPPING this week! (US)

http://vlasicstudio.com/vlasicstudio.com/Giclee_Prints.html

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Off to LA…(well at least my paintings are)

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Spring is here today in Denver. It’s a glorious 76 degree day, and I’m enjoying writing you from the backyard gazebo. I just shipped off 2 12 x 12″ paintings for the “Art Collector’s Starter Kit” show at CHG Circa (Corey Helford Gallery’s sister space) in Los Angeles. I am honored to be listed among some truly incredible artists. The show opens March 23rd. Be sure go if you’re in LA.

I have promised not to reveal the paintings online until the opening, but at the top of this blog is tiny “teaser” from one of the paintings. If you’d like to get on the sneak peak list from the gallery, email me at marievlasic@vlasicstudio.com and I’ll make sure you’re on it.

I’m getting ready for a studio visit from the curator from the Laramie College Art Gallery by tomorrow. They’ve asked me to do a solo show there next year. It’s a lovely facility and they’ve had some great exhibits. More news on that as it becomes available.

One final note…if you’re in Denver be sure and check out the exhibit at Robischon Gallery. Really great show I went mainly to see Denver ex-pat and amazing painter Christian Rex Van Minnen (the paintings are incredible) but the other 3 artists are great as well.

I hope you are enjoying your early spring. Until next time,

-M

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As 2012 draws to a close…

December 24th, and a new year hiding just around the corner. It’s hard not to wax philosophical this time of year. I’m not religious. I don’t subscribe to any brick-and-morter church or philosophy, but I do admit I get “sucked in” to the Holiday Spirit most every year. Mainly, it’s the fun of it all. I LOVE decorating the house, giving gifts, baking cookies, visiting with friends and neighbors. It seems for the most part that people are nicer this time of year, that they smile more easily. I know I do. It’s the we wish we could be all the year. So that is my wish for you…that your New Year is filled with kindness and smiles…and a little prosperity wouldn’t hurt, either.Image

Our Holiday table and mantle.

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One project at a time…

Thanksgiving is done and gone (just a little apple pie & stuffing remain). Today, Saturday, brings with it a crazy November heat wave, 70 degrees. A record in these parts. The holiday decorations are up, cards and gift preparations are in full swing, though it seems a bit strange doing it all without snow on the ground.

I think I have some form of artistic A.D.D. No matter how well a project is going, as I sit there painting, sometimes all I can think of is the next project I want to do, or even the one after that. I am blessed/cursed with loads of ideas for new paintings I want to do. While I am grateful to never suffer from any form of lack of inspiration, I do wish I could concentrate on one project at a time. I’ve been thinking as well of breaking out of my mold so to speak and doing a non-figurative piece or two, just to mix things up a bit. I’ve also been thinking of applying for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival again this year, after a 4-year hiatus. Funny, I really thought that after doing it for three years I was done, over it, but this past summer we were walking through the festival, and I realized I missed it, missed being there. For all the work it is, it’s actually fun as well. I’ll keep you all posted…

I’m almost finished with the holiday commissions, another week or so, then it’s back to the portrait project studies and other new work. In honor of the Holidays, I’m offering 20% off all limited-edition (of 25) giclee’ prints, as well as custom gift wrapping on any purchase. You can see the giclee’ prints here: http://www.vlasicstudio.com/vlasicstudio.com/Giclee_Prints.html , and all my available paintings here: http://www.vlasicstudio.com/vlasicstudio.com/Available_Artwork.html . Currently Paypal (the service I use to process payments) does not offer a discount code option, so if you use the Buy It Now button, I’ll refund the 20%, or just email me (marievlasic@vlasicstudio.com) with what you want and I’ll get an invoice with the 20% off to you right away. Bigger discounts for multiple purchases! Just email me with your questions.

Here is the latest, a commissioned portrait project study:

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“Xilla” oil study, 8″ x 10″

I hope your holidays are marvelous. Enjoy the season!

-M

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