Monday, December 27, 2010

Taking Care of What Santa Brought (Your Original Oil Painting)

Christmas Remains, Photo © Toni Ruppert
Santa did good.  Your new original oil painting arrived in time for Christmas.  It was created on quality, fine-art canvas.  Your painting should last for generations with it's original craftsmanship.  To assure this, reasonable care should be taken to protect it as you would any article of value.  Here are my 5 Top Care Recommendations:

1. Protect your oil painting.
Protect your painting from environmental damage like smoke and air pollution. You may have seen before and after images of oil paintings that have been cleaned.  Eliminate any smoking near your oil painting, and limit the use of candles and incense near it. You may prefer to hang it outside of direct sunlight and ultra-violet exposure.

2. Dusting is OK.
Dust your painting regularly. Do not spray anything (like Pledge) on the work. A soft brush, like a paintbrush, may be used to dust paintings. You can also dust with a soft, dry cloth. Additionally, you can keep artwork dust free by using a low power vacuum with a hose and brush attached.

3. Take care when transporting.
When transporting your painting, lay a flat piece of cardboard, mat board or similar firm material over the front and back surfaces.  For extra protection, wrap it in bubble wrap or styrofoam wrap.  Try not to keep it wrapped up for too long because might cause damaging moisture buildup.  Fedex Office carries a medium and large box especially made for shipping/ transporting art.

4. Beware of sharp objects.
Never lean the front or back of a stretched canvas on a pointed or sharp object, no matter how small. This will leave a dent that will mar your work. If you want to lean it against something, lean it on the wood of its stretcher bars so that nothing presses against the actual canvas.

5. Properly frame your oil painting. 
Be sure your oil painting is properly framed.  Oil paintings must be framed without glass. The framing serves to accent and complete the painting and cover the edges of the canvas.  You might need a frame with a large rabbet depth to accommodate large canvas stretchers.  I recommend the online store-- for their excellent selection and customer service.

Framing Art, Photo © Toni Ruppert

These 5 recommendations are essential when caring for your new original oil painting.

Finally, if the work must change owners, the artist who created the work would probably appreciate being contacted.  She would love knowing of the painting’s whereabouts so she can update the work's provenance records.

Feel free to leave any further questions in the comments. 

The holidays are almost over here, yet with the proper care of your original oil painting--your purchase will last for generations to come. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dance! (Like an Artist)

"The Children's Library", Oil, 24x36,  © Toni Ruppert
We were all dancing to music from the 90’s.  My husband and my girls and I.  This was music at least two of us were familiar with.  Whatever we did, my littlest one would mimic us.

We were dancing and laughing hysterically.  The scene made me think how much music has helped me lately. 

Music has helped me during my long hours at the painting easel.  I have been completing a year-long project for the Markham Public Library(IL) which includes several paintings.

Music from 80‘s R&B singer Chaka Khan, legends The Isley Brothers and contemporary Gospel musicians like The Winans and J. Moss--have me literally dancing at the easel and cause my paint to flow just right. With music like this, my mistakes in my paintings(I do make many) don't seem as gargantuan.
"Drawing/Children's Library", ink, 9x12, ©Toni Ruppert

For example, in my haste to finish my painting, I realized after doing the drawing (shown on this post) that I had no guys represented.  I had no models either.  Oops!

I quickly added some figures into the painting as placeholders.

Luckily, I was using oil for this piece and could easily add figures like this.  I have posted how it looked here.  I quickly called some dear friends who modeled for me that night and I was able to add in the figures.

"Progress/Children's Library", Oil, 24x36, ©Toni Ruppert
With a little help from iTunes -my music player on my computer--and a few extra painting hours, the piece was done.  

Music is an essential addition to my painting routine. 

 Put the music on and start the day is my advice. 

Do you use music in your work?  Has it helped with oopsies?  What are you swaying, twirling, pirouetting or bopping to?  I’d love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art and Death: How One Artist Responds

"Laura's Dad", Pastel, 20x24, ©Toni Ruppert
What is it like to do a portrait of a dying man?  Do you see him as dying?  I’d like to respond to a comment left on a recent blog post.  I recently painted my friend Laura’s Dad not knowing he was THAT close.  It’s the not knowing that I want to discuss with you. 

Didn’t I see his frailty?   Not exactly.

I looked for beauty
I went in with high expectations and because I had no frame of reference--I expected beauty.  He was surrounded by decor that included African masks, a giraffe statue and a painting or two that he had collected over the years.  Greenery was everywhere and his home included a garden and water out back.   

There was light everywhere coming from the big windows and door to the back porch.  The light was hitting the fluffs of his white hair in such a way--they begged to be painted.  His hunter green polo sweat shirt somewhat matched the greenery I saw all around.  Finally, there was an eclectic mix of tunes coming from his CD player.

All of this put me in the painting mood.

I focused on my craft

When I set up my pastels on the table, I anticipated a good painting session.  I grabbed several colors -- some greens, burnt sienna, orange and lavender were among them.  He was very patient with me and even picked up a book to “read” at my request.

And I started to create what I saw.

I looked for the light and tried to express that in his skin tone.  I was in love with the pigments and seeing how I could use them to say what was before me.  I let the pastel sticks do the talking.

I modified my marks

Hence, I was never conscious of anything.  I modified my marks, not because I knew anything but because I was creating and did not know how much to show.  Do I show that crevice with a darker blue or a softer pale orange.  Do I render the thin cheek bones quite that thin?  His slight nose.  I went over certain parts over and over.   The pastels were lovely for this. 

It felt so good capturing his essence.  That he would pass away almost a month later was a shock to me.  My friend(Laura) talks extensively about this experience in her blog--No Safe Distance.

In hindsight, I saw the wrinkles --his large hands.  I noticed that he was quiet.  But in this beautiful moment, I noticed what my eyes told me.  And responded with artistry.  I did not realize that Laura’s Dad was fading.  That may just be a good thing.

Other creative folk can help in responses to death too.
For those of you who might want to create a tribute to your loved one; check out my friend Melanie Jongsma who is a writer who has utilized her craft in this way. 

Beth Lamie is another personal historian who helps people preserve their legacies in story.  Her projects vary from one-page vignettes, short stories and full life memoirs.

Have a loved one you wish to pay homage to? Email me to see if I can help you with a portrait.  I’ll take pictures or take a look at your pictures, and recommend something beautiful. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

7 Ideas to Stay Balanced

"Late Night Sketch" ©Toni Ruppert
 My creative life is so (I’m going to use the B word) -  busy, but I’ve gathered 7 ideas that might help keep me balanced.  The trick is to use them.  I know you’re active too, so maybe we can talk about this.  I just finished my first podcast for my blog, so feel free to listen to the 4-minute audio version here.

I really appreciate all the great feedback I’ve already gotten from folks about the topic of balancing.  Hence, I’m doubly determined to balance my art career and motherhood.

Prime example. This week, I took a trip to the art supply store with my little one, Imani--who is also creative.  Wanting to help me, she decided to place every colorful thing in our cart.  EVERY colorful thing.

I spent the next 30 minutes grabbing paint, paint mediums, oil paint sticks and other stuff she wanted to put in the cart.  The only thing that stopped it all was my consent to purchase a wooden ready-to-paint car. 

I eventually ended our shopping trip with new canvas, brushes, that wooden car and my child in hand.  I was able to do a quick figure study in watercolor(pictured) after she fell asleep.  I spent time with my husband talking about the election while painting him(I've included that sketch in this post).

Since this scene may be typical for some other readers, here are my 7 ideas:

  1. Pray.  I believe that one needs divine inspiration to manage it all.
  2. Allow children to join you on the journey--show them what you’re doing. They’ll love it.
  3. Grab a buddy--a good girlfriend, spouse, etc, will help keep you sane and accountable.  My art buddy Pamela Casey helps keep me sane during our weekly talks.
  4. Get use to some loss of sleep--my day begins before they awake and I also stay up after they are sleep.
  5. Commit to your creativity--it helps to say, “I am (an artist, writer, sculptor, etc. )” to all you meet.”  In his book The Power of Positive Thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “Throw your heart over the wall, and your body will follow.”  Once you say it, that’s throwing your head over that wall.
  6. Get use to the edge--your creative breakthrough lies on the other side of your comfort zone.
  7. Say No--get use to saying it A LOT.
I’m creatively busy doing a balancing act.  How do you find ways to make it all work?  Do you have any ideas to share?  Please share in the comments below.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Who Else is Scared this Halloween?

"Pumpkin Love"  Commissioned Painting
Watercolor and Pastel  ©Antonia Ruppert
Yes, Halloween is here.  And though this is a fun time for some filled with pumpkins, ghosts and scary movies, there is nothing more fear-inducing than being a mommy...and an artist.  Maybe you can relate.

Take this week, for example.

What could I do when my little one wanted to put on her costume--just to "practice?"  You know me. The mom and artist in me said “OK” and grabbed my camera.  As she twirled around and around, I think she thought she’d BECOME a butterfly. 

The next day, my big teen asked me for help with her Halloween homework for Spanish.  She had to create a full length cardboard skeleton with her very own attributes.  She had already made an amazing outfit by hand out of scraps of cloth I had.  She just needed the hair done.  So there I was -  at 11pm sewing weave(hair extensions) on her Día de los Muertos skeleton. I’m thinking, “First of all, I don't know how to sew weave and secondly, “Isn't this YOUR project?”  Thankfully, we finished it and she was happy with it.

Mommy's work, like artists’ work means hearing and noticing.

This is what I heard this week:

“Mommy can you help me find my doll’s sippy cup?”
“Mommy come and see my transformer - no come and see!(she was holding playdoh and a broken handle from a drawer)”
“Mommy, guess what Nicholas is for Halloween.  No Guess!”

And this is what I noticed: My daughters are as creative as I am. My teen is directing a skit at church--just in time for Halloween). I'm amazed at her ability to write, direct, dance and act.  

In a recent interview with Darren Hardy of Success Magazine, Paula Deen shares that when she first started out by herself, she sacrificed her relationship with her boys.  I heard that and froze. That scared me.

Yes, Halloween is here.  But there is nothing that scares me more right now than being a mommy...and an artist.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Ideal Reader

 "Casandra"  ©Toni Ruppert
With a commitment to building a more vibrant blog, I signed up for the 4-week Blog Triage class with Cynthia Morris and Alyson Stanfield.  Today’s assignment is to describe the people I want to visit and read my blog.  My hope is that by envisioning my Ideal Reader I will get focused and get at the heart of what I want to post about.  

Though I had to imagine my Ideal Reader, I’m grateful to my family members, friends  and fellow artists who have kept up with me through my blog.  I appreciate you.

So here is the assignment.  Using the following questions:

  • Are they of a certain age or background?
  • Do they live in a particular region?
  • What are their interests – including, but not limited to art?
  • Are they comfortable with the blog format?
  • Are they likely to comment?
I imagine that my Ideal Reader: ageless - he/she knows age is just a number.  He may even be like my buddy Gabe who is the father of teen girls which keep him youthful.  My reader might have a rags to riches story in the making - a Paula Deen before she was Paula Deen.  Because of this, my ideal reader exudes light and is a faith-filled person.  My ideal reader appreciates all things creative.  

Thank YOU for being my ideal reader.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Can Build It At Your Table

Grandma's Recipe ©Antonia Ruppert
Commission for the Markham, IL Public Library
Oil on Canvas, 24x36
Yes, tables are made for eating, playing games and other familial events.  But, did you know that inspiration and dreams can be built --at the table?  After spending lots of time lately at my table painting, I began wondering what other transformers--folks making a thorough or dramatic change in themselves and the world - do at their tables.  

What are you building at your table? I believe many good things can come from time spent "at the table."  Artists have birthed new careers, adventures have been written and families have been nurtured at the family table. You can use your table to:

Build a business.  Sandra Magsamen, artist, art therapist and author, built her business over 20 years ago in her basement.  I recently found out about her and she is now my poster child for artistic success.  While working a FT job, she and her husband's shipping and receiving area was their dining room.  Sandra told her story to Marcia Brixey, founder of Money Wise Women Educational Services in a recent teleseminar.  Many entrepreneurs, like Sandra have built sustaining businesses at their tables.   

Nurture a child.  This week we carved our pumpkin to my five year olds delight.  She watched my every move and asked lots of questions.  This "table time" was precious and reminded me of other memorable times.  I remember my grandmother being a great cook.  She often fixed awesome meals--though I was too young to really appreciate dishes like jambalaya and squash pie.  My cousin and my brothers and sisters just knew that when we returned home from school, shortly thereafter we'd sit at grandma's dining room table (next to the piano) and eat whatever she fixed.   

Meals at the table are fantastic.  Time spent "at the table" can make the difference between something so-so and something truly inspiring being built. 

Can you think of anything else that can be built at the table?  Are you building anything at your table?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eeeeck! I'm Almost Speechless!

"Heart Stuff"  12x12  Mixed Media  ©Toni Ruppert
 I'm so excited.  Words can not express how I feel right now.  I will try though.  Eeeeek!  Wow!  Yes!  (see) The words come out like that.  I'm excited because the show is hung at Chicago's Flourish Studios's Envision Gallery.  It took a lot to get here.

A mere few weeks ago, I was floundering with this new direction for my personal artwork.  Painting was flourishing in my commission work, but nothing was coming forth in my personal work.  I knew I wanted to talk about healing from fragmented relationships--healing from brokenness.  But it would not come out like I wanted to.  I was surrounded by prayer, paint jars, glue muslin, wood panels, and etc.  All the stuff I'd use to make my pieces.  Enter my success team.

I joined a success team lead by Eileen Kerlin Walsh.  (Look out world--here comes Eileen!)  My success team encouraged me and one of them literally said "Create two panels this week."  I was like, "Okay." After doing this for a time--my goal was in sight.
"Behind Her Smile"  12x12  Mixed Media  ©Toni Ruppert
In Teamworks, author Barbara Sher says, "A Success Team will keep you going, steadily, step by step, week after week...until one arrive right in the middle of your goal." That's what my team did for me.  Further, when I hit a snag with my frames, one of my team mates personally made them according to my specifications. see words cannot express how I'm feeling. My hope is that whatever you're working on these days will have you so excited --you too will be (almost) speechless!

I invite you to comment (use whatever words you want) on your own creative project or on how you're utilizing a team to making your ideas/dreams happen.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Show at Envision Gallery: Healing from Brokenness

"It's In Between Us", Mixed Media, 18x24
My dining room table, my current spot for creating, is in a state of disarray right now. But I feel a cleansing coming on--an inner cleansing. Do you know what I mean? More and more, I am feeling the freedom that comes through expression. So I don’t mind the mess.

In about four months from today, my artwork and that os artist Sharon Burrink will be shown at Flourish Studios’ Envision Gallery in Chicago. Flourish Studios was founded by Dr. Julia Rahn and the curator is Meredith Siemsen. After meeting them both recently, I was truly inspired to keep creating and, well flourishing.

The show opens October 1st, 2010 with a reception - just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Chicago Artists Month. I will be available for a short gallery talk to discuss my processes and techniques. The gallery is located at 3020 N. Lincoln Ave in Chicago.

In addition, the show, “Healing from Brokenness” will be a fundraiser for IMPACT Chicago - a non-profit organization that is committed to ending violence against women.

I have posted my newest piece which has been tentatively named “It's In Between Us.” It is 18x24 and is a Mixed Media piece(pastel, torn paper, rice, photography and finger prints). I will be asking my fans on Facebook for their thoughts on my title.

I so appreciate this opportunity to share some deeper work about an issue that impacts us all. The "controlled chaos" on my table means that art is happening.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grateful and Amazed...

I must share this with you. I got a call on my way to a meeting. I let it go into voice-mail because I did not recognize the number and it was after hours. Then I rethought my action and called back. The lady who answered said something and I could not understand - it was not obvious where I had called. She spoke with an accent. I told her who I was. She said, do you know _____? I’m like I don’t understand. I had her repeat the person's name 2 more times. Then she asked me to confirm that I am Toni Ruppert Fine Art & Design. That got my attention.

She said she was calling from a currency exchange at ______ in Chicago, IL and someone was trying to cash a check for $600 they said I mailed them. I was like “No, No, I do not know them.” She put me on hold for a long time.

When she got back on, she told me, this guy ______ tried to cash a check. But they would not process it. My heart thundered. I thanked her profusely and hung up.

I then got a call from my friend Maria - I said please pray for me. I told her quickly what happened. Then I called my bank.

I went ahead and closed the account after some discussion. My account had been compromised. After getting off of the phone, I was like Thank You Lord. Praise You Jesus. Hallelujah! I was in tears. I got to my meeting and then returned home again. I was exhausted.

But before going to bed, I wanted to grab something to remember this event and God’s protection. I grabbed our cookie jar and placed it on the table.

When you open it, my cookie jar says,”Get your hand out of my cookie jar- roar!” It sounds real menacing. It was perfect to remind me of how God is my powerful lion, my protector. I am so grateful that people did their job and called me. I‘m so grateful that wasn't ripped off.

In this post, I included this watercolor and pastel painting, "Looking Up" to share my emotions(I am so very grateful and amazed.)

Next winning principles.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Winning Principle

Praise ©Antonia Ruppert
Watercolor on Paper
I decided to post some good news along with some principles that have helped me win. I want to inspire you to continue to win too. I belong to an art group on Facebook. We artists want to be the best at what we do and have posted good news for the group to see. It has been inspiring to read what artists are doing all over the world. I decided to post my good news for you. Allow me to inspire you.

I am most grateful to share that in January I...

--- unveiled 3 new paintings

--- learned new digital imaging techniques
--- developed new painting project for a state grant

--- started dancing and reading scripture to jumpstart my day

--- started piano lessons(something I’ve wanted since I was 11)

I will now share my winning principle. I have found that this truth has helped me again and again.

Principle #1 - Be open to God. Be open to opportunity.
The unveiling of 3 new paintings happened because last spring Allen Jongsma and Pastor Dave of Living Springs Community Church contacted me and subsequently met with me to discuss their ideas for new artwork. This was my biggest endeavor at that time and boy was I nervous. But I felt good vibes after several meetings and wholeheartedly embraced the work. This all happened because I was open to where God was leading and open to the opportunity.

So now it is your turn. What positive principles have you learned so far this year? Do you have any good news to share?