Cynthia Kahn ~ Make Your Art Your Own

Cynthia Kahn

Cynthia Kahn

After I shared Libby Baker Sweiger’s post about her inspired painting, I knew that it was time to write about my own adventures in painting. I have painted my entire life. Even as a business major in college, I took art classes. I continued taking adult education ink, watercolors, acrylics and mixed media classes even after graduation.  When I don’t paint for long periods, I feel a hole where that creative outlet resides.

It is important to understand and respect the techniques of your craft. For painters, it’s how to mix colors, the relationship between colors, the use of light and dark to create perspective and brush strokes.

To be a great artist, you need to learn the craft, understand the basics and practice and internalize those techniques. To be a ground-breaking artist, you need to transcend those techniques and transform the craft. Make your art your own.

 

The River oil painting

The River oil painting

I never liked the chemical smell that goes with traditional oil painting. I tried acrylics, but they dried too quickly. Then, I learned about water soluble oils and my painting transformed. I love painting wet-on-wet, adding more paint while the paint is still wet instead of waiting for the under-painting to dry. I stopped taking lessons and began painting using my own techniques. The results were amazing. I finally felt like a real artist, someone who adds to the craft rather than mimics it.

I even started to take my painting to the next level. I wanted my paintings to be more tactile. I wanted to feel the painting as I created it, so I began painting with cloth. I’d first paint a picture with oils, because that is how I interpret the subject matter. Then, I’d go to Good Will and buy clothes or sheets or table cloths with the colors and textures that I want to include in my painting. I buy a board at Home Depot, some caulk and cut-and-paste my cloth painting into reality.

I’ve never seen anyone create cloth paintings in quite the same way. I feel fabulous!

The River cloth painting

The River cloth painting

So, how do you get your art seen by the public? You go out and ask. I’ve displayed my work at many coffee houses. Starbucks is a great place to start. One time, my cloth paintings were displayed at Starbucks and, when I went to pick them up, one of the baristas said, “I brought my daughter in to see your work, because it is so unique.” My heart soared. I also received a call from a property management firm asking if I wanted to display my art in one of their office buildings, so that show led to another show.

You may not be able to get your work into big name galleries as an unknown artist, but there are many galleries that cater to lesser-known artists. I found a gallery in Northwest Portland that only allows artwork with recycled materials, which was perfect for my cloth paintings.

If you want to get into the big name galleries and art festivals, then talk to those who have already been accepted and ask them how they got in. You probably have to know someone or you have to get your artwork photographed by the right photographer. Do your research, before you spend money on application fees.

How to you get to know the right people? Join a local artist society and become active in their group. Get critiqued by those who judge and decide who gets admitted into the shows.

However, if you paint to become famous, you are missing the point. Paint because you love to paint. Create because it drives you and calls you to action. Don’t let anyone dissuade you from pursuing what you believe is best for you and your art.

Make your art your own.

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now    
@Amused_Now
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The Desert

The Desert

Canyon Below

Canyon Below

Rivers Edge cloth painting

Rivers Edge