PSST: You've tackled all the technology and equipment necessary to demonstrate in a virtual world. Please tell us about your Virtual Open Studio series.
Rita: OMG, thank you for assuming I have "tackled" all the technology... just goes to show how massive amounts of trial-and-error (...especially ERROR and more trials...) can result in the illusion of mastery!! 🤣
(...kind of like painting, in fact.)
My Virtual Open Studio days are an idea I had way back in April when the massive changes in the world dynamic started getting a little depressing. I saw that an artist would need to take advantage of more virtual avenues of promotion in order to generate new income streams, but the thought of actually conducting an online workshop at that time was terrifying to me. I was much more comfortable with the thought of simply inviting people into my studio to watch me work. No pressure to "instruct" or to give feedback as with a normal workshop. Just some fellowship, conversation, and (most important) ME getting some work done!
So I began to research and try different methods of streaming and recording using the devices I already own (which was only partially successful) and 3 months later I have a (mostly) smooth-running system, thanks to Amazon's generous return policy and many late nights of cramming Zoom, OBS and Premier Pro tutorials into my brain!
PSST: How do you describe your painting style and color choices? Have you found particular colors that are essential for your paintings?
Rita: When I do feel like giving my painting style a name, I usually call it "contemporary realism" or "contemporary impressionism" but I don't really care for naming styles because every artist's style is unique and while it might fit into a general genre, I think terms and definitions can be constraining and don't always describe an individual style accurately.
My color choices have definitely narrowed down in the last decade to lots of vivid brights combined with cool and warm muted greens and violets. By using such a warm underpainting almost all the time, I've gotten used to how colors interact when overlaying it. Almost every pastel is cooler than my underpainting.
I do have three colors I have a hard time doing without (although it's good to improvise now and then) and these are Terry Ludwig's Eggplant (my rich "black"), Girault #376 (my cool dark brown), and Diane Townsend #069 (my warm white).
I’m blessed to be able to find beauty in everything I see. My work has evolved into an observation of sunlight and shadow, and recently I’ve been playing with more adventurous ways to portray light with color, value, and temperature. Along with themed portraiture, a trendy subject with my collectors has been ranch animals. This works rather well because ranch animals are ideal models of sunlight, and as Claude Monet said, ‘The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.’
PSST: Is participation with pastel society competitions an important step for an artist?
Rita: I highly recommend entering competitions, as many as you can afford the entry fees for. Competitions (at least for me) boost your motivation to create the best work you can, and when you win something (even when you just get in to a show) then you can add that brag to your bio and impress your collectors. (Make this a habit and over time your bio will become rather impressive!)
I also recommend joining any and all art organizations near you, and go to meetings, and get involved to the limit of your available time. I have spent years involved with various art groups. Now I have a variety of valuable friends with whom I can network who have a wealth of experience creating, showing and selling their art. And among all the emails I get from various associations, there's always a paint out, or a trip, or a demo, or exhibit, that I can take advantage of if I have the time.
PSST: What social media, websites or art-focused groups are you associated with?
Rita: Well, I have accounts on Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn, which I don't interact with much but try to post on frequently. I utilize Instagram and Facebook quite a bit, and am in several art related FB groups. Sometimes it's hard to keep up with. I'm lucky to be one of the 50 Featured Members on DailyPaintworks.com, which attracts collectors when I post regularly. I have my artwork on Pixels.com because I use them as a source for canvas giclee prints. I'm a member of several pastel societies and other art organizations (honestly many of which I pay the dues just so that I can stay in the loop of info, and also share my news in their newsletters! )
Oh, and I just started a Patreon page because this seemed like the optimal time to start one, and I've linked my Virtual Open Studio days as a benefit.
(personal note from Rita): "I hope you all are staying inspired in your home studio spaces, and I hope my seeming "busy-ness" doesn't overwhelm you, but instead inspires you! I didn't have all this stuff going on in the beginning, but built on to it gradually. Most important advice I ever received was from the artist Sara Eyestone who says "First you have to do the work" meaning "ARTWORK". Always put the creating of your artwork first, then find ways to show it off to the world."