Artists never know where to find creative inspiration. and you can never guess the ultimate payoff for such inspiration.
Local award-winning artist Natalie Wiseman was inspired to create one of her paintings by her father’s move to a new home following the death of her mother. As she packed up her parents’ years-long possessions, she realized that too often we cling to things that have little meaningful value. It’s just stuff, as Wiseman says.
It inspired her to create a painting, All That Glitters, that highlights the empty glitter we pursue. The painting sparkles all in gold, with a glittering trophy occupying the center surrounded by glittering bows and metallic plastic eggs.
It’s not your typical still life, which is exactly why the image ended up on the page of a national art magazine, Fine Art Connoisseur. The image of “All That Glitters” appears in the August issue of the magazine, which is published both in print and online.
Wiseman’s piece will be shown alongside 34 other artworks which the magazine’s Editor-in-Chief, Peter Trippi, has selected as “stunning examples of what is happening in the field of still life”. She submitted her piece via a magazine contest.
“I thought this might be a good challenge because I’ve never done so much metallic in one piece,” Wiseman said. “That made me want to do more of it. I didn’t want it to be a series, but I thought about how people like ‘stuff’ and how I could do a series along those lines.”
Wiseman’s submission to the magazine isn’t the first time Tripp has been impressed with her work. Last year he selected one of her pieces for an annual national juried exhibition at the Wausau, Wisconsin, Museum of Contemporary Art.
Trippi has a good eye for talent. Wiseman, an art teacher at the Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School, is one of Joplin’s standout artists.
Her website, natalie wiseman.com, describes her work as contemporary realistic and sometimes surrealistic still life and figurative.
Her paintings are meticulous in detail while showing humorous approaches to subjects. Her distinctive feature is her play on words, created by arranging tableaus of household items – children’s toys, sweets, cutlery, fishing lures, underwear, a sink full of dishes – to create playful but thoughtful complex compositions.
Her work has earned her local, regional and national awards and representation through Lovett’s Gallery in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her pieces are in private collections in the United States
Even with this success, she knows there’s no guarantee it will open exclusive doors for her.
“Joining a gallery or fine art connoisseur doesn’t guarantee things will take off,” she said. “But maybe if someone sees your work in a few places it helps to improve that perception of value.”
What are your suggestions to draw attention to yourself, to open doors to an artist?
“You have to do what you’re drawn to,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if people understand it. You have to be authentic. … Let your work speak for itself, and if it’s authentic and well done, it should sell itself.”
That doesn’t mean there’s no legwork to do. It’s about networking and expanding your circles, starting with the local and growing from there.
“If you want something to happen, you have to take action,” Wiseman said. “Otherwise I would just have a big stack of paintings at home.”
Wiseman got her breakthrough with the Tulsa gallery representation by sticking her neck out a bit. She sent a blind Facebook “friend request” to Lovett’s Gallery’s social media coordinator and opened the door for the coordinator to see the work, which Wiseman had posted to her Facebook page. It resulted in an invitation to join Lovett’s cadre of artists it represents.
She finds it useful to watch videos and podcasts, which can offer not only instructions but also ideas for creations. In addition, she encourages artists to join online art groups that focus on their mediums and styles. These offer the opportunity to make work available to a wide audience, they also post notifications of juried exhibits that can be submitted and members can recommend galleries for work to be sold. It was through one of these groups that Wiseman found out about the Fine Art Connoisseur bid.
As for participating in juried exhibits via online calls, Wiseman says artists should be selective about which ones they participate in. Some require artwork to be shipped to the exhibition site, which can be costly. Others do online exhibitions that only require the digital submission of artworks. However, both can offer a broad presence.
Also, she warns that there will be more rejections than acceptances when entering these types of exhibits. It doesn’t necessarily mean the artwork isn’t worthy. It may be influenced by a juror’s personal preferences, or there may be a specific vision for the exhibition, and while a juror may like a submitted work, it may not fit the exhibition’s vision. Write off those rejections and keep entering until there are assumptions, Wiseman said.
Still, keep an eye on things. Focus on creating and improving and expanding in new directions. Don’t get too distracted by just thinking about selling, entering galleries, or entering nationally judged exhibitions.
“It’s a journey,” Wiseman said. “There is no destination when it comes to art. It’s his own journey.”