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My husband and I just purchased an artwork this last weekend that we liked – and we love that we know the artist.  However – we (as in I) aren’t wild about the frame around it.  Mark’s response to me saying that we would need to get a different frame was “But that would make it different from what the artist wanted it to be.”

Hmmm.  I don’t know how much I agree with that.  If someone took one of my sculptures and put it on a different base I would have zero problem with that. 

When it comes to basing my work – it is thought out, sure.  But my intent is to try to make it as undistracting (new word) from the sculpture as possible. 

But once someone owns one of my sculptures if they have another thought that, to them, might improve the piece in the context of it’s new setting, it certainly doesn’t affect the value of the sculpture itself to change that aspect of it…as the base (in the case of my sculpture anyway) is not part of the composition of the piece.

But what if a frame on a painting is distracting and not complimentary to the piece?  (IMHO of course).  Check out this frame around this painting of a monkey.  (No, this is not what we bought last weekend and this is not a piece of art we own).

there are no words…..

Artists?  If someone buys one of your framed paintings and wants a different frame or re-frames it themselves, how to you feel about that?

I have been reading a digital copy of Birge Harrison’s book “Landscape Painting” (a wonderful little book by the way) and in it he has a section “On Framing Pictures” and I thought I would share an excerpt from that chapter today.

“…And I re-discovered that fact, which the old masters had discovered so many centuries ago, that there was no material in the whole range of nature so admirably fitted for the surface of a frame as gold or metal leaf.  Next to the mirror, it presents the most elusive of all surfaces.  Semi-reflecting, semi-solid, it is just the thing that fills all the requirements…in a study of the best forms and the best tones of metal leaf to be employed…it soon became apparent that the law of complementaries reigned supreme.  A picture whose dominant note was pink demanded a greenish gold frame, a blue picture called for a tone of pure yellow or orange gold, while a picture whose dominant tone was golden yellow could only be well clothed in silver.  Fortunately, the dominant note of most landscapes is found in the blue or blue-gray sky, and thus the pure gold frame is its ideal casing.”

He goes on to say that generally complex and complicated pictures benefit from a more simply styled frame while a simple picture “…built up with a few broad and powerful masses, will frequently appear best in a rich and ornamental frame.”

But rich and ornamental he cautions, should not be too over the top…

 (I’m paraphrasing of course since the book was published in 1910 and “over the top” probably was not a figure of speech back then).  He maybe had something like the frame above in mind…which is for a mirror..  Seems like the most ornate frames I have ever seen were for mirrors, come to think of it.

Oh gosh.  Here’s a deep thought.  Is the reflection of reality so uninteresting that framing it as fancy as possible is necessary?

I would love to hear from other artists how you frame your work.  Do you make your own frames or do you have a supplier?  If you make your own, how did you learn? and do you have any instruction out on the web that we can check out?  And if you have a supplier, who is it?

Hello art collectors!  What are your frame preferences?

That’s all I have for today. 
Thanks for reading.

I’m off to continue do my best to create a beautiful day.
…and I hope you create – in your own beautiful way –
 your own beautiful day.  🙂

Every day that I sculpt I have accidents that happen.  Occasionally a sculpture will leap off my worktable and break into several pieces and – since I’m working with clay that is made out of paper and dries in the air – things happen to the sculpture all during the creating process.   For instance, once the sculpture is started and I add clay to a certain area, that new wet clay is placed onto the existing dry clay and while it is drying,  moves portions of the sculpture around.

When I first started working with this material, I tried to correct these “accidental” rearrangements of my sculpture but now I will consider these accidents to see if they actually help the design or make it unique in some way.  I have decided that the accidents are sometimes a form of unique guidance and serendipity and welcome many of those accidents as part of my creative process.

Many artists today and throughout history knew accidents were often a good component in helping them create their works.  Of course some accidents will just feel like a catastrophe!

me with the finished sculpture,
Okaga, the South Wind.  Later that same
day while working on smoothing out
the last few areas, this sculpture fell
off the back of this table and all its
legs broke; some in two places!

What do you think?  Do you believe that art doesn’t “just happen” because of perfect planning and perfect control – it also happens by seemingly random accidents sprinkled in?

Check out the quotes below (thanks to from artists regarding accidents in their work.  Which is your favorite?

It’s time for me to get to work.  I hope your (and my) art accidents are all good ones today.


All painting is an accident. But it’s also not an accident, because one must select what part of the accident one chooses to preserve. (Francis Bacon)

It’s the nasty and the accident that form the foundation for elegance that comes later. (Nick Bantock)

In art, there is one thing which does not receive sufficient attention. The element which is left to the human will is not nearly so large as people think. (Charles Baudelaire)

U2 is sort of song writing by accident really. We don’t really know what we’re doing and when we do, it doesn’t seem to help. (Bono)

Oops! I wonder how that blob of paint turned up in the sky? – that must be how many a bird ‘happened’ in a landscape and how extra leaves were added to overhanging branches. (Jeane Duffey)

Accident is veiled necessity. (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach)

Accident is design / And design is accident / In a cloud of unknowing. (T. S. Eliot)

There are many accidents that are nothing but accidents – and forget it. But there are some that were brought about only because you are the person you are… you have the wherewithal, intelligence, and energy to recognize it and do something with it. (Helen Frankenthaler)

We try not to have ideas, preferring accidents. To create, you must empty yourself of every thought. (Gilbert George)

It may have been accidental but you knew enough to let this alone. The intelligent painter is always making use of accidents. (Charles Hawthorne)

The most persistent principles in the universe are accident and error. (Frank Herbert)

I have meant what I have done. Or – I have often meant what I have done. Or – I have sometimes meant what I have done. Or – I have tried to mean what I was doing. (Jasper Johns)

A creative train of thought is set off by: the unexpected, the unknown, the accidental, the disorderly, the absurd, the impossible. (Asger Jorn)

We never learned how to solve problems, create effects, get concrete results. So we hope for, and rely on fortuitous accidents. What we do by accident we call ‘creative.’ (Brian Knowles)

You need accidents, otherwise it is fake. (Sotirios Kotoulas)

Experiment by applying a few strokes suggesting the subject and see what happens… develop the piece from interesting accidents. (Jean-Francis Le Saint)

It was accidental before but now it’s become my method. (Hui Lin Liu)

At first laying down, as a fact fundamental, / That nothing with God can be accidental. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

I throw down the gauntlet to chance. For example, I prepare the ground for a picture by cleaning my brush over the canvas. Spilling a little turpentine can also be helpful. (Joan Miro)

Surprises are the joy of living. Surprises directly touch the soul. Good surprises energize and bad surprises teach. (Alev Oguz)

Accidents, try to change them – it’s impossible. The accidental reveals man. (Pablo Picasso)

When a person is prepared to receive something, a series of accidents takes place. (Irving Sandler)

Every brushstroke has a certain tension, a certain nervousness. Every brushstroke is, in a sense, some kind of accident. (Raphael Soyer)

As soon as you accept the accidental effects, they are no longer accidents. They are necessity – the part of yourself that you could not expect or design beforehand. Thus the realm of your creativity grows wider. (Kazuaki Tanahashi)

The unforseen event, the ‘accident,’ the unexpected all play a very large part in my creative play. I prefer to let the materials suggest the direction of a work. (Burnell Yow!)

June 23, 2014

It’s Monday, June 23 and I have dedicated myself to writing a blog entry every day.

I do not consider my life to be what anyone would describe as exciting so this could be the most incredibly boring blog ever if I just talked about my life.  What I think is important is to connect with other artists. 


Maybe other artists are also feeling that their life is also not incredibly interesting but they are nevertheless also developing their art career and are also learning more about how professional artists structure their days from day to day.


I don’t want this blog to be just a one way dialogue and want to hear from other artists (and any creative business person/entrepreneur) too so we all can learn from one another. 


What works in your life?  You are always learning how to manage life and create the best art you can…just like me.  It isn’t easy.


So that is what I will talk about – each day what I do to create art and make what I do better and the other adventures into art that I embark on and the other things that just happen that enhance or interfere with that.


I have been refreshing my art education since the beginning of the year.  I spend a portion of the beginning and/or end of the day learning something about art and artists through history.  This must come up (art history) just with the every day sketching I have been doing…I have been involved in the study of values and perspective, for instance – and how can the study of value and perspective not lead me to learning more about da Vinci?   


I have been trying to shore up the holes in my art education in other ways – for example, I have been learning more about oil painting.  You can’t paint well if you can’t draw well…I think. 


I want to paint some scenes from around our property to frame and hang in the living room which is currently being remodeled a bit to make it more of a gallery space for my sculpture.  So I have been on Stapleton Kearns blog and he is fantastically educational not just about painting but about art history.


These things and more (to be shared in future posts) have been important inroads to keeping me motivated to sculpt more and to always think of myself and my work as truly a professional endeavor. 


I hope to hear from anyone out there, all of you artist/entrepreneurs.  What do you do every day?  Do you try to continually educate yourself about art and what is it you do to keep your work it’s best and to keep your muse alive?

10 Paradoxical Traits Of Creative People

Creative people are humble and proud. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. Creative people are rebellious and conservative. How creative are you?

I frequently find myself thinking about whether I am an artist or an entrepreneur.

It is safe to say that more and more entrepreneurs are artists, and artists of all kinds are entrepreneurs. And the trend is only on the rise as all things (art, science, technology, business, culture, spirituality) are increasingly converging.

Creativity is the common theme that drives both entrepreneurs and artists alike. But creative people are often also paradoxical.

Over this past Labor Day weekend, I found myself reading excerpts from distinguished professor of psychology and management Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (pronounced me-HIGH chick-sent-me-HIGH-ee) seminal book Creativity: The Work and Lives of 91 Eminent People (HarperCollins, 1996).

He writes:

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.”

Mihaly describes ten traits often contradictory in nature, that are frequently present in creative people.  In Creativity, Mihaly outlines these:

1.  Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest

They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm.

2.  Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

“It involves fluency, or the ability to generate a great quantity of ideas; flexibility, or the ability to switch from one perspective to another; and originality in picking unusual associations of ideas. These are the dimensions of thinking that most creativity tests measure and that most workshops try to enhance.”

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.

But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, and perseverance.

“Despite the carefree air that many creative people affect, most of them work late into the night and persist when less driven individuals would not. Vasari wrote in 1550 that when Renaissance painter Paolo Uccello was working out the laws of visual perspective, he would walk back and forth all night, muttering to himself: “What a beautiful thing is this perspective!” while his wife called him back to bed with no success.”

4.  Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality.

Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present.

5. Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted.

We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time.

It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping.

When tests of masculinity and femininity are given to young people, over and over one finds that creative and talented girls are more dominant and tough than other girls, and creative boys are more sensitive and less aggressive than their male peers.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

It is impossible to be creative without having first internalized an area of culture. So it’s difficult to see how a person can be creative without being both traditional and conservative and at the same time rebellious and iconoclastic.

9.Most creative people are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.

Without the passion, we soon lose interest in a difficult task. Yet without being objective about it, our work is not very good and lacks credibility. Here is how the historian Natalie Davis puts it:

“I think it is very important to find a way to be detached from what you write, so that you can’t be so identified with your work that you can’t accept criticism and response, and that is the danger of having as much affect as I do. But I am aware of that and of when I think it is particularly important to detach oneself from the work, and that is something where age really does help.”

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

“Perhaps the most important quality, the one that is most consistently present in all creative individuals, is the ability to enjoy the process of creation for its own sake. Without this trait, poets would give up striving for perfection and would write commercial jingles, economists would work for banks where they would earn at least twice as much as they do at universities, and physicists would stop doing basic research and join industrial laboratories where the conditions are better and the expectations more predictable.”

Paradoxical or not, what I have learned most is that there is no formula for individual creation. As Mihay says, “creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals.”  So, more than anything else, what it takes to be creative is resourcefulness and the courage not to give up.

The boring stuff:


The material I use to sculpt with is made by Padico in Japan and there is only one distributor of it in the US.  It is typically sold in craft stores – although we purchase it in bulk directly from the supplier.  It is made from paper pulp, talc, water, and some binders and whatever else it is – is a mystery- the formula for it is proprietary.


Most sculptors sculpt with chavant like clays – the kind that never dries.  When I started sculpting I used the same.  I hated it.  Sculpting something that is permanently attached by a pipe to a board is frustrating to me, partly because of my eyesight, partly because of my temperament.


The material I use has it’s own unique characteristics and challenges but sculpting with it adds a unique element that makes the sculpture I do look different in bronze than all the sculpture originally made with non-drying clay.   It has a bit of a life and will of it’s own.


I am very nearsighted so I wear glasses or contacts to correct that.  For me it is a very good thing though – for sculpting – because it means that (even though I am of an age where most people need reading glasses to see close up) my close up vision is really really clear at about 9″ from my face.


If a sculpture is attached to a board I cannot see parts of it well.  So I have to be able to hold a sculpture in my hands for most of the time to work on it – this cannot be done with non-hardening clay – as I would just end up burying my fingers in the very thing I am trying to create.


Non-hardening clay is also very heavy and the paper clay I use is extremely light so the long legs of the horses are not too weighed down by their bodies.


The esoteric stuff:


The reason many sculptures are being done at one time is because rather than image just one horse, I imagine them in groups.  I saw the house horse series (look, relax, itchy, leap, watch, and step high) all in one day and made their wire armature forms that same day before I could forget how they were to be.


They were imagined in 2010 and the last one has just been finished.  It seems to take FOREVER to make them this way.  I know galleries enjoy prolific artists – I guess I would not be that – but consider that “prolific” and the annihilation of creativity very often walk together.


I work on them until they are how they are supposed to be and that can take time, most certainly takes inspiration and an uncluttered undistracted mind.  For example, I can re-carve a face 3 or 4 times until I know that is the face that sculpture is supposed to have.


I once was very determined to be a rich and famous artist.  But I have been learning that’s just common ego – doesn’t most everyone in their head think that being a rich and famous this or that is what they must be to be seen and respected in the world as “somebody”?


But polluting what happens in the only time I know I have because I am “working” to get to a place that may never be – also gets in the way of creativity (and happiness)…and is something that could cause the work of any creative endeavor to become stagnant, uninspired, and derivative.


I am asked what is the style of my sculpture.  I respond with – what do you see?  Do you see an “-ism” there?  Impression-ism?  Expression-ism? a school of this or that?  Art is it’s own language;  to describe art with another, different language – is an act of reductionism.  Translate a Haiku written in Japanese into English and you invalidate its beauty.


There is freedom that comes with the belief that the sculpture I create does not belong to me – that it belongs to the world.  I believe all art that is made public belongs to the world and is meant to enhance everyone’s experience of being…here.   That means the world will decide what happens to it until the day it becomes a part of the history of art…long after I am gone.


I consider what I create to be a collaboration and that is the reason why I will occasionally ask collectors, gallery owners, and consider unsolicited comments about my sculpture.  It isn’t that I am insecure that what I have created is good bad or uninteresting.  I only saw what I saw – and made it and there it is.  Where did it really come from?  The absolute truth of that cannot be known.  But maybe I can get closer to it if  I consider and leave myself open to other relative ideas and possibilities…

(this is a reprint of a post I made on my blog site on March 11th, 2013)

“Step High!” just got cast and colored with her patina – and she came out gorgeous!_MG_0766a_MG_0768a_MG_0769a_MG_0770_MG_0771_MG_0772_MG_0773

Step High!  She is the last horse of the first series.  I got the idea for the patina colors when Mark and I were driving to Ketchum last November on the way to see one of our (grown up) children for Thanksgiving.  We were driving by a part of Idaho were there are old lava fields and there was a plant growing in there that looked like it might have been a sage but had branches the color of dogwood branches – sort of a reddish purple eggplant kind of color and then the sage green of the leaves above – so there was this striking color combination of the black lava dirt the purpley red color and the sage green and I thought – I wonder if my patineur could do that maybe with some black veining running through it.  I know I freak her out every time I tell her what I want a patina to be – but she always tries to give me what I have in my head (no easy task) and does just a wonderful job!  Next Step High! will get a nice black marble base and then she will be ready to be previewed for the very first time at Rogoway Turquoise Tortoise Gallery for the art show on the 20th of April!


(this post is a re-print of a post made on my blog on March 6th, 2013)

What could be better than investing in art and receiving a tax deduction in the bargain?  Icing on the cake!  Right now my sculpture is at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum.  Founded in 1978, the museum is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to educating the community about the history and culture of Cheyenne Frontier Days from the event’s earliest inspiration to its present celebration.

Alex Alvis Sculpture at Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum now through April 14th!

On April 20th will be a fantastic show featuring a fantastic book just being released titled “Horse Sanctuary” a book by journalist Allison Milionis profiling thirteen sanctuaries that rescue and care for abandoned or mistreated equines, and in some cases, rehabilitate them for adoption or new careers.  There is a forward in the book written by Temple Grandin and the beautiful photography is by Karen Tweedy-Homes who will be at the show with me to sign the book and offer her framed and unframed photography to the lucky people who can come to the gallery on this day!  Mark and I will be there – of course, and all of my sculpture will be there available to you for the opportunity to, not only invest in some beautiful artwork and receive tax benefits, but help an organization that does such wonderful work on behalf of abused and neglected equines.  A portion of both my art and Karen’s will be donated to Equine Voices.

Alex Alvis Show in Tubac 2013


(this post is a reprint from my blog dated October 9th, 2012)

Cloud the StallionSo, my sculpture is going to be shown at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park for a month and it’s great to be included in this show because its all about wild horses.  A percentage of the purchase price of the art purchased at this show benefits the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park which is a publicly supported 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to supporting all disciplines of art in the greater Estes Valley, providing an affordable cost visual and performing arts programming year round, and acting as a vital information and support resource for the arts community (similar to a “Chamber for the Arts”) for the greater Estes Valley.  All the money that is collected as donations during this show will go to support The Cloud Foundation, named after the wild stallion you see pictured here.  Isn’t he beautiful?  He is actually a very well known wild horse and has starred in several films produced by Ginger Kathrens.  His family (yes wild horses exist in families just like us) has been disrupted by the “management” of the Bureau of Land Management for many years now.

This cause is something I support as I have time to support it; I sculpt wild horses, speak to wild horse advocacy issues in my blog, talk a bit about it on my website, send letters and make phone calls to Washington…I don’t feel that it is enough, but if every one does what they have time to do, it can make a big difference for these beautiful animals that are a cherished part of our world. 

I sure am excited to be included in this show!

Wild Horses, Wild Lands: Art Show and Evening with Cloud and Other Wild Horses

“An Evening With Cloud and Other Wild Horses”
Thursday October 11, 2012, 6:30-8:00 pm
Estes Park Resort (formerly Lake Shore Lodge)
1701 Big Thompson Ave in Estes Park
Ginger Kathrens, Emmy Award-winning film-maker and Executive Director of The Cloud Foundation, will give a presentation.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about her life with the young wild palomino colt she named Cloud, the Pryor Wild Horse Herd, and her fight to protect our American wild horses.
Free-will Donations accepted to benefit the Cloud Foundation

Mica and other mustangs will be available to meet before Ginger’s talk

New! Mica and other mustangs will be available for a meet and greet in front of the resort starting at 5:30pm before the talk.
Art Show at the Cultural Arts Council of Estes Park
423 W. Elkhorn Ave., Estes Park, Colorado
• October 12 – November 11, “Wild Horses – Wild Lands”
Features 2 and 3 dimensional art works reflecting the majesty and beauty of America’s wild horses. Learn about the Cloud Foundation, dedicated to the preservation of wild horses on our public lands, and the protection of Cloud’s herd in the Arrowhead Mountains of Montana. Opening Reception: 10/12/12   5 to 8 PM.  Public Invited. Free.
and, here is another article that I found yesterday that I wanted to reprint from the Denver Post here:

Keegan: Dignity for wild horses

By Teresa Keegan The Denver Post


Would that I could unleash the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the likes of Tom Davis.

He’s the Colorado livestock hauler who’s been buying wild horses from the Bureau of Land Management at ten bucks a head, less than I spend on lunch at Panera’s. Although he’s supposed to be finding “good homes” for the animals, wild horse advocates are concerned that he’s instead shipping them off for slaughter.

Given that he’s purchased at least 1,700 horses since 2009, I join the advocates in their skepticism. I doubt there are that many “good homes” for unwanted children, let alone 1,200-pound untrained animals.

His remark, as quoted in a recent Denver Post article, sets off further alarm: “Hell, some of the finest meat you will ever eat is a fat yearling colt.”

That comment turns my stomach. But why? I’m not a vegetarian. It’s surely the height of hypocrisy to eat meat and wear leather and yet decry the killing and eating of horses. Why should chickens, fish and cows be fair game for my palate but not the equine species?

Reason one: I’m a lifelong horse nut. And I have precedent for my feelings dating back to antiquity. Examples abound of horse worship in the ancient world. The emperor Caligula so adored his stallion Incinatus that he built for him a marble stable, fed him oats mixed with gold flakes and tried to make him a senator.

Alexander the Great named a city after his legendary steed, Bucephalus. Mongolians have revered ponies for centuries, so much so that horses outnumber people in their country. A horseless Genghis Khan would not have gone far.

Reason two: Horses are not merely livestock. They’ve been with us for thousands of years and have likely done more to change the course of human history than any other domesticated animal. They’ve carried soldiers into battle, bleeding and dying in wars not of their making. They’ve pulled plows, drawn wagons and delivered the mail. Riderless horses have accompanied our presidents to their final resting place.

Reason three: Evolving standards of decency. People are animals, too. There once were and may still be tribes who found the flesh of their fellow humans lip-smackingly delicious, but most people now recoil in horrified disgust from Hannibal the Cannibal. In America, we don’t eat each other. Nobody’s making Soylent Green. We’ve also added dogs and cats to the “forbidden foods” list. I say expand that category to include horses.

Now, before every farmer and rancher in the not-so-wild West writes in to excoriate me for my sentimental city-girl squeamishness, I understand there are too many wild horses and too few homes for them. Not many people can take on the enormous expenditure of time, work and money involved in owning a horse. There’s much truth to the old saying: if you want to make a small fortune in horses, start with a large fortune.

The BLM simply doesn’t have the resources to continue keeping excess horses in taxpayer-funded holding pens. I understand they can’t all be saved, as regrettable as that may be. But must we send such magnificent creatures to their deaths without even a blindfold and cigarette? Surely these fiery steeds deserve better than an ignominious death on the slaughterhouse floor.

One alternative: Let them be killed humanely in a solemn ceremony, complete with banners, bugles and flowery speeches to see them off on their last journey. Let their bodies be cremated and the ashes scattered over the plains where they once ran free.

Now that is a fitting end for these noble beasts who have served us so long and so well.

Behold a pale horse.

~Teresa Keegan lives in East Denver and works in the Denver district court system.







(this is a reprint from my blog dated October 5th, 2012)

I check in on the Sylvia White Gallery blog from time to time and I just had to share this (thanks Sylvia) – for anyone who knows and loves an artist – this is for you 🙂

12 Step Recovery Program for Artists

Sylvia WhiteSeptember 19, 2012
1.  Admit that you are powerless over your ARTmaking, and it is the only thing that makes your life manageable.

Many artists describe the feelings they get from making art as an almost spiritual or sexual experience, feeling a complete and total sense of happiness and being at one with the world. Much like the feeling an athlete gets from hitting the ball in the sweet spot. But, instead of it being a fleeting moment, it is a lasting sense of satisfaction and contentment. It is what keeps them the sane, wonderful people we love.

2. Believe that ART is a Power, greater than yourself, and can restore you to sanity. 

Making art is the way artists create order out of chaos. It is a personal order, that allows them to navigate their way through life. The most positive addiction. When you find yourself cranky or irritable, is it really just because you haven’t allowed yourself quiet time to work?

3.  Made a decision to turn yourself and your life over to ART.

The term “frustrated artist” didn’t come out of nowhere. Societal pressures, parental pressures, and sometimes our own need to succeed or fear of failure, keeps a lot of artists from ever realizing their dream. You can’t escape from it forever…eventually, the need to create will overpower whatever rational reasons you have developed to keep yourself from finding the time to make art. The sooner you accept it, the better.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of your ART skills.

There is nothing wrong with being a self taught artist. But, in the same way your vocabulary skills can improve communication skills, so can developing your technique as an artist. The beauty of creativity is it’s never ending quality. Making sure that you are constantly looking, learning and improving your skills as an artist (and that includes keeping up to date with technology) will ensure you are working up to your potential

5.  Admit to yourself and one other human being, the importance of ART in your life.

Artists are not capable of “controlling” their work hours. When you are “in the zone” your friends and family accuse you of being preoccupied and/or distant. But, it’s like a switch you can’t turn off. It creeps up on you when you least expect it, and never, ever when you summon it. You need to communicate this to the people in your life that are important to you so they can understand the importance of ART in your life and not take it personally when you are not “present.”

6.  Were entirely ready to allow ART to be an important part of your life, but not your entire life.

You may not always have the luxury to work on your art when you want to. Responsibilities of real life get in the way for most artists. But, you can learn to come up with tricks to ease back into a work schedule, when it is absolutely necessary. For example, working on 3-4 things simultaneously. When you get stuck on one, you can easily move into another. Other artists have described the technique of only leaving the studio for the day only when you know exactly what you next move on a particular painting will be when you comes back…something easy, that has already been planned and you won’t have to think about.

7.  Humbly promise never to ask anyone “What do you think of my work?”

Admit it. If you’re an artist, there is ALWAYS one question on your mind that you are dying to ask people…”what do you think of my work?” There is no doubt, that as an artist, getting feedback is important. If you’ve read my article Art is a Verb, not a Noun, you already know that I don’t believe any object an artist makes can be called ART until it is out in the real world and has real eyeballs looking at it. A painting that is stored in your garage or under your bed isn’t art until it has the experience of being seen. It is only logical then, to assume that once the work is out there, you want to know how people are reacting to it. But, artists need to be extremely careful how and when they submit to that urge of asking people about their work. Before you even contemplate asking the question, let’s take a moment to think about 3 things: Why are you asking this question? Of whom are you asking this question? How will the answer change your relationship to this person and/or your work?

8.  Made a list of all persons affected by your ARTmaking, and be willing to make amends to them.

There is no doubt that artists are wired differently than the rest of us. At times, living with an artist can be difficult. Learning to identify the strategies that will help you move seamlessly in and out of your “normal” life will benefit not only you, but all those around you. Send my article “If you are addicted…” to everyone you love.

9.  Made direct amends to such people, whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

It is true, that to some artists, their work is the most important thing in their life…more important than parents, spouse or even kids. It’s not a crime, or something you should feel guilty about. It is a part of who you are as a person…would you ever feel guilty about having blue eyes? But, remember, the rest of the world doesn’t work that way. If you find this is true for you (and not ALL artists do) you must come to grips with that reality yourself, but never admit it to your significant others.

10.  Continue to take personal inventory and realize you and your ART are not the only important things in the world.

Artists sometimes need to be forced to step outside their reality. Make sure you are able to separate the art making part of your life and the responsibilities of real life. As much as you may hate it, admit that you need a job, relationships, money, housing and the discipline to manage your art career so you can accomplish those things.

11. Sought through private time in your studio to improve your work, and devote the time necessary to just “look.”

The impulse that fuels creativity is nourished by stillness, time alone. That’s why so many artists find their most productive hours are in the wee hours, when everyone else is asleep. The lack of distractions, is a must for artists to be productive. Resting, thinking, meditating, looking…this is when the creative juices are most actively percolating. And, this is one of the most difficult aspects for non artists to understand.

12.  Having accomplished all of the above, tried to carry this message to other artists and those who love them.
Still Learning….

(this post is a reprint from my blog dated June 20th, 2012)

Okay – so I’m really supposed to be working on the certificates of authenticity that will accompany my sculpture to Turpin Gallery in Jackson, WY.

I came across an article stating that these documents are of little to no consequence and that artists should, in fact register with the Fine Art Registry to ensure that works are appropriately catalogued and if you want a certificate of authenticity to go along with your work after that, it can be provided on the site.


Now, I am dreadfully new to the public art world.  The sculpture community in Loveland is a land I sometimes visit, like today to order a box for shipping a sculpture.  Everybody knows EVERYBODY there and what they are doing and where they are from.  They look at me with polite amusement….because I am amusing in my naiveté… I have no doubt.  I have just started walking down the roads they have been travelling for a very long time, after all.

But I digress.  Fine Art Registry, or FAR.

They are all over the place on the internet.  But looking a little deeper I found this from and I think it’s worth republishing on the WWW for the rest of us artists and collectors of art as often as possible:

 THERESA FRANKS: One Woman’s Quest to Control the Art World

by “Michael Wilson”
You’re an artist and you want your portfolio neatly cataloged. What do you do? You call Theresa Franks, that’s what you do. You’re an art collector and you need to protect your valuables from fraud, and establish their provenance and authenticity? No problem. Just call Theresa Franks.
Franks is the founder of Phoenix based,, or “FAR”, an on-line art gallery that offers a patented tagging system which helps artists and collectors organize their inventory and, according to Franks, ensure its authenticity. The site’s trademarked moniker: “Helping Bring Order to the World of Art”.
The website, which operates under Franks’ umbrella company, That’s Life Publishing, Inc., is a vast maze of articles, forums and virtual art galleries which take you deep into the art world, or at least the art world according to Franks.
A large portion of the site is dedicated to its gallery, where sellers and buyers peruse through an assortment of artworks listed for sale. While the site offers mostly contemporary and decorative arts by relatively unknown artists, there’s also works for sale by famous artists such as Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, according to the website, complete with Franks’ patented registry tags and, in some cases, a downloadable certificate of authenticity. Sellers and buyers must first register with FAR in order to correspond with each other. FAR accepts no commission from the sales.
The tagging system has piqued the interest the world over. “We’re an international database,” says Franks. “We just made a deal with the Russians. They didn’t have the technology, so we represent them here.” One major collector I spoke with said he finds the tagging system very interesting. “I would consider using it,” he said. But he cautioned, “only if the company’s integrity is intact.” FAR names several partners including Artletics, a vintage sports artwork dealer; Masterpiece, a company that offers handmade canvases pre-equipped with FAR’s identification tags; Neglia Services, a jewelry replacement and evaluation service; and CLE 123, Inc., a legal education service company that offers on-line courses in Advocacy, Ethics, and Conflict-of-Interest studies. FAR’s articles range in topic from auction results to tips and strategies for collectors. Several content-generated articles are listed from other websites such as, a members-only database of auction results. All make for a dizzying display to whatever suits your artistic fancy. “You can kind of get lost in all the articles,” laughs Franks, who pens most of them herself. In fact, when I called to interview her, she was “madly working” on yet another one.
Aside from being the site’s web administrator, Franks devotes much of her time investigating “art crime” cases, which are featured on her long list of advocacy and investigative-related articles on the FAR site. While Franks pens most of the articles herself, writers have included Noah Charney of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art (ARCA) and John Daab, a fraud examiner. “We work closely with federal law enforcement,” says Franks. “We work to deter fraud.”
One case she’s helping the FBI investigate, says Franks, is that of famed cruise ship auction outfit, Park West Galleries, Inc., based in Michigan. Franks was referring to several class-action lawsuits against the gallery stemming from allegations the company sold fake prints by artist Salvador Dali.
The FAR website has become a cornucopia of information for the Park West case, where numerous articles appear, penned by Franks, as well as a litany of homemade amateur YouTube videos featuring Franks ranting about the company’s alleged misgivings.
The rants have been the subject of ire for Park West, who launched four defamation lawsuits against her; each for $46-Million. They were all dismissed. And despite ongoing litigation with Park West in U.S. District Court in Michigan, she speaks freely, without worry of consequence. “Park West is currently being investigated,” says Franks. But she admitted, “no indictments yet.”
In one video, dated, August 14, 2010, Franks even takes a shot at U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff, for vacating a jury’s verdict that awarded her $500,000 for various copyright infringement counterclaims against Park West. Zatkoff ordered a new trial scheduled for November, 2011. In the video, Franks lambasts Judge Zatkoff for being “biased from the beginning”. She boldly vows to investigate him, suggesting a “special relationship” exists between Judge Zatkoff and Park West Gallery’s lawyer, Rodger Young.
Her sharp tongue has garnered Franks some unwanted attention. During the trial, Franks and her attorneys were admonished for misconduct, and Judge Zatkoff threatened a directed verdict.
Franks also took creative pot shots at the trial, making abstract ink drawings and giving them titles such as “Strangled Justice”, “Jury Deliberation”, and “Wretched”. They are offered for sale on the FAR site, complete with her trademarked tags.
Another target of Franks has been art restorer and forensic expert Peter Paul Biro of Montreal, Canada. Biro discovered fingerprints on a purported Jackson Pollock painting, found at a thrift shop by retired trucker, Ms. Teri Horton. One of the fingerprints matched that of one found on a blue paint can in the Pollock studio in East Hampton, New York. The discovery was chronicled in a 2006 film documentary, “Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?”
Then, in a July 12, 2010 article in the New Yorker, reporter David Grann painted Biro as a forger and a criminal. For that, Franks credits herself. “We worked together for about a year on that story,” she said. “I supplied him with a good number of documents. So, he took that and ran with it.” She continues, “It was our (Fine Art Registry’s) investigation that really was the catalyst for that article.”
Grann’s article set off a bit of a media feeding frenzy, and it wasn’t long before other articles appeared, stating Biro was “a forger” and his family had done “jail time”. Biro launched a defamation lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York against Grann, his employer Conde Nast, and Dan Rattiner. He sought $2-Million from each defendant.
Shortly after the suit was filed, many articles which portrayed Biro badly were retracted. Dan’s Papers published a public apology. Business Insider and the Daily Beast issued corrections. According to U.S. federal court records, Biro and defendant Rattiner have reached a settlement arrangement, the details and amount of which are undisclosed. The New Yorker trial is still pending.
But the target of choice for Franks has been cruise line art auctions, particularly in the Park West case, where the debate isn’t as much about whether the company sold fake Dali prints, but whether the experts used to authenticate or negate the pieces are themselves valid.
In the U.S., no set of regulations exist for the art market. Experts are determined more by consensus than credentials. An individual may have an enormous knowledge base of a particular artist, both historically and mechanically, down to the brush strokes. But, in a buyer-beware environment, unless an expert can garner enough respect and confidence from the art world, he will become useless when it comes to authenticating a work of art, even if he is the only one in the world that can tell the difference between the real thing and a master forgery. This holds especially true for works by Dali, Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol, artists for which there exists no authentication boards in the United States.
As for Park West, they utilized the professional services of an accredited art appraiser and Dali expert, Bernard Ewell, of Sante Fe, New Mexico. For years, he examined works which were later sold by Park West during their cruise line auctions. However, a pre-existing power-struggle between Ewell and French Dali expert Robert Descharnes was exploited by Franks, and brought into her “ring of fire” on the FAR website. Franks, for some reason or another, has joined ranks with Descharnes, and appears in videos with him and his son Nicolas Descharnes, referring to the two as “world renowned Dali experts.” Franks says she has spent about $2-Million on litigation costs against Park West.
“It’s the old wild west,” says Franks. “That is why we’re here; to bring order.”
Franks is a human sieve: offering information, speculation and ponderings with the nonchalance of a gossiper, yet the tenacity of a litigator. “There’s a whole sociological element to art crime and art fraud, in why criminals do what they do,” said Franks.
As she spoke, I was drawn into the tangle of her words, and it dawned on me that there’s a place where Franks thrives; a grey area in the art world where, in all its chaos and disorder, there exists a platform to gain a position of power and control, to authenticate strange truths and fashion them into less strange lies, to bolster a false sense of confidence in those that serve you, and destroy those that oppose, and capitalize on it all in a very creative, venomous way.
In all the seemingly wanton, obsessive ranting, – Franks spoke for several minutes at a time between questions – I still found it difficult to put down the phone. But I had to; there were other calls to make. And as a registered member of, who had spent months perusing the site and corresponding with other members, I knew something wasn’t quite right. But to an extent I had never imagined.
I put a call to Bernard Ewell, the Dali expert for Park West and asked him why Franks was after him. “I live in rattlesnake country and I know better than to stir up a viper,” said Ewell. But I pressed him for a motive, pointing out that Franks spent an enormous amount of money on the trials in Michigan. He said he was being attacked by Franks to discredit him as an expert witness in the federal case with Park West. “During the Park West trial, the favored theory was that she is being funded by Robert Descharnes, because he was trying to destroy Park West Gallery, so that his son Nicolas can basically corner and control the whole Dali market,” said Ewell.
As a result of Franks’s accusations and “Google-Bomb” campaign, Ewell says he’s lost up to 70% of his business. “People do a Google search of my name and I never hear from them again,” said Ewell. He described Franks as “an anarchistic bomb thrower; she really doesn’t care what innocent lives are ruined and what indiscriminate damage she causes. She’s like a grizzly bear: you just don’t know what she’s going to do. Like a Japanese zero out of a cloud, she was suddenly there.”
What troubles Ewell most, it seems, is that none of the investigators followed Franks’ money trail to find out where her funding is coming from. “Everyone just sort of shrugged and said, ‘so what can you say, the woman is crazy’. There’s no logic to this. She’s got some things going in her head that she’s convinced herself is true.” Ewell, in his despair and frustration still sports an air of toughness, and also a quick-witted, whimsical sense of humor. “She reminds me of the White Queen in Alice in Wonderland who said, ‘Sometimes before breakfast I can believe in as many as thirteen impossible things.’”
I asked if he had one question for Franks, what it would be. After a long pause, he said, “Has she benefited enough from all the damage she’s done? Because the damage has been massive.” On whether Franks committed libel: “Yes, absolutely,” said Ewell. “Complete lies.”
As for Teri Horton, the owner of the purported Pollock painting that Biro found a fingerprint on, she was very reluctant to speak with me at first, fearing I was a “Theresa Franks shill”. After two requests, she agreed to speak briefly about Franks. She referred to Franks as an “opportunist”, capitalizing on high profile cases such as her painting.
Perhaps a most stunning revelation: Horton disclosed publicly for the first time that it was actually Franks who first contacted Horton several years ago when news broke of the new-found painting. “She wanted to have me put the Pollock painting on her website,” said Horton, “because she and her company, Fine Art Registry, were so well known she could assure me of a sale with top dollar.”
But, Horton, street-smart and deep into her 70’s, wouldn’t take the bait. She said it was with “gut instinct” that she immediately did not trust Franks. “I refused,” said Horton. “Then she went on her rampage and lied.” She described Franks as a “diabolical sociopath” who has caused problems for her entire family. “If I had the money, I would sue her for property disparagement. She’s a crazy, evil woman,” said Horton. If Horton was to sue, she may have to get in line and wait. Maricopa County records show Franks’ legal troubles have been mounting for years. One such case involves an $896,000 loan in which Franks and her husband, Logan Franks, have defaulted. “We couldn’t even find them physically,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, Scott L. Potter. “They wouldn’t answer the door.” Potter said the case has “finished out” and the court issued a default judgement against the Franks’ in excess of $680,000. He suggested other claimants are in cue. “Actually, I received a call yesterday from someone looking for Ms. Franks.”
And back to those blue-chip works being offered for sale on Franks’ website: Pollock, Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele. I wrote an email to a seller, “David Cameron”, who lists numerous works as being “by Jackson Pollock”. Cameron said the works come from a “huge collection”, and are owned by a small group of investors, and that Franks had come to view the paintings prior to listing them for sale on the web.
I contacted the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and told them works were being offered on the FAR website. Alarmed, they referred me to the foundation’s attorney, Ronald D. Spencer. I asked what he thought of the paintings. I could hear him gasp from the other end of the phone as he opened up the email which contained the links to the FAR site. He paused momentarily, then said: “If you were to gather all the Pollock experts in the world, they would all give you the same answer. And it would be an equivocal answer.”
I did in fact contact an expert on Pollock, who wished to remain anonymous. He stated, “It is my opinion that these works are not by the hand of Pollock. They are amateur fakes. Most disturbing is the reference to Clement Greenberg, Peggy Guggenheim and Larry Rivers in the seller’s description. Furthermore, it shall be considered that the entity offering these works, Fine Art Registry, is indeed trafficking in forgeries.”
A seller, “JBPALANK”, (Jason B. Palank), who appears on the FAR site as well as its offshoot,, claims on his profile that he is a “Consultant & Modern Impressionist Specialist” for Christie’s Auction House – New York.  Among the works offered for sale by Palank: a painting “by Paul Klee”, and an original pen and ink drawing “by Pablo Picasso” for $50,000, which he says includes an appraisal by someone “highly recommended” by Christie’s. However, when I called Christie’s, a representative in the modern impressionist department said there’s no consultant or specialist named Jason B. Palank. I pressed her to search the company’s database. “Nothing,” she said. An e-mail to Palank went unanswered. However, a cursory search shows a history of arrests for prescription fraud, DWI, and possession of a controlled substance. He was most recently arrested on August 1, 2010.
Another member, “Breaux05”, was offering an Egon Schiele watercolor. When I contacted the seller, he responded by stating it was not for sale, but would be inclined to sell it if the price was right. We exchanged about five emails. By the third email, I asked if Franks had seen the piece or offered an opinion. He responded by stating Teri Franks is “not an art expert or authenticator!” The seller also copied the email to, the same email address for Teri Franks.
I wrote back saying that I was curious as to her opinion because she’s listed as a “Fine Art Expert” and therefore should be garnered to an opinion, and perhaps responsible for the authenticity of the piece being sold on her website. The seller quickly responded by referring me to his lawyer. The site listing Franks as an art expert is cruise ship watchdog group,
Naturally, I had questions. Why would the seller say Franks is not an expert, and at the same time, copy her on the email? Is it possible that the seller is actually Theresa Franks, and copying herself by accident? That would be too strange, I thought, and would require someone of a duplicitous nature. And although I never did hear back from the seller, I tried yet one more.
I inquired with the  seller, “Artsy”, who lists dozens of works for sale on the FAR site. I received a response from someone who signed off as “Lynn”, and with the email URL suffix as, a website devoted to horse trading.
A closer look into revealed non-other than Franks as the site’s administrator. A chill ran up my spine. “Lynn”, and “Artsy”, as it turned out, are the same individual. All this time, I had been unwittingly communicating with Franks: an “advocate” for transparency, clouded by aliases, in a maze carved by her own hands from the desk of a computer. At that very moment I knew I was dealing with a complex, obsessive and deeply troubled person.
I looked back at the Paul Klee painting offered by Palank, and noticed something familiar about its design. It bore striking resemblances to those ink drawings made by Franks, and their distinct titles: “Forged”, “Criminal Mind”, and “Madness”.
In a field of loops and swirls, I considered something more sinister behind the veil of Theresa Franks, and I remembered her own words about “why criminals do what they do.” I made one more call to Bernard Ewell and asked him again why Theresa Franks does what she does.
He said, “I don’t know enough about psychological disorders.”
*Since publication of this article, FAR has altered the profile for Jason Palank.
**Since publication of this article, an art crime specialist has contacted me and offered to discuss the Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry case with law enforcement.
***Due to the overwhelming response to this article, I believe it merits the inclusion of the following public information on Theresa Franks and Fine Art Registry.
****Since publication of this article, a US daily newspaper has contacted me and expressed interest in writing a follow-up article. Stay tuned!