May 31, 2012

Just the beginning... my first NYC Art Show & Fundraiser for the NFVR

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you to everyone who came to see my artwork in New York City last week.  It was such a tremendous honor to be able to meet so many new faces and share my passion with everyone while supporting a foundation that is important to me, the NFVR.  Half of all sales from the night were given to veterans facing the current unemployment crisis.  Everyone felt good about being there.

Having the show in NYC last week was probably one of the more profound and incredible experiences I've had in my life.  I will never forget it!  I found myself leaving New York energized and excited about the next event.   To everyone who took home a piece of art, you took home a piece of a very special moment in my life, and made a difference to a deserving veteran's life.  This is just the beginning of taking small steps towards something greater.

I learned a highly valuable lesson on authenticity from sharing my artwork with an enormous room of strangers.  People connected with, talked about and bought the pieces that (to me) were the most vulnerable, raw and unapologetic in their message or subject matter.  Allowing myself to create such vulnerable and real artwork is not easy, but it really is the key to making a great painting- it's the key to being a happy person in general. Authenticity requires no explanation or justification, it is universally acknowledged and understood.

Typically when trying to pull off an event of this scale for the first time, a million things inevitably go wrong.  Somehow, we pulled it off.  This wouldn't have been possible without some extraordinary people who deserve major thanks. Here I go:

Thank you to Ryan Estis, for introducing me to Scot Cohen, founder of the NFVR and host of the event which opened so many doors for me. Thank you to the veterans who attended (in uniform might I add) as the night was as much about you as it was about anything else. Thank you to Rajiv Srinivasin, CEO of the NFVR, Max Teicher for pushing me to produce the best art I've ever made, Molly Harris, our event coordinator who made the night flawless and to the beautiful models who elegantly talked about the theme of my show as it relates to them and helped sell my work.  Thank you to the writers who took the time to get to know me and share my story.   And of course, thank you to those who bought art from me, to my friends who came from afar, and to the new friends I met. Thank you all for sharing such a special night with me.

I am truly blessed.  My journey in this life is not one I take for granted.

To enjoy photos at full size, click on the first one and use arrow keys to navigate.

The incredible space.

Rajiv Srinivasan, CEO of the NFVR (right)

Tom (left) was the first to purchase a piece of my art!  Martha (right) came all the way from Miami.

Champagne for everyone. Awesome.
Scot, Rajiv, Max and I talking during the event.
I am glad I spoke before Rajiv, because he did such an incredible job talking about the NFVR that no one would have listened to me had I gone after him.

One of the best things anyone has ever written about my artwork!  Thank you, Ryan.

Molly, you did a great job coordinating everything!
Rebecca, Scott, me, Ryan and Rajiv. 
The first painting(s) of the night that were sold.

May 22, 2012

True Beauty Lies Within

This video was created to visually explain my inspiration for my current artwork.  The pieces I am showing in NYC next week are heavily influenced by my experiences working as a model.  One of the most important things I have learned in recent years is the true meaning of what beauty is. Beauty really does come from within- which is what I named my NYC show.

I work in a fast-paced industry obsessed with beauty. My paycheck depends on trying to maintain some level of beauty, so it can become hard not to be a little concerned about the way I look.  Whenever I've put too much focus into the way I look, the world usually finds a way to put me back in check- usually with a break out, eye infection or some other humbling experience.  Makeup can certainly fake a flawless face in a photo, but there is no makeup to conceal a bad attitude or personality.

Some of the most beautiful people I know aren't necessarily the most perfect and beautiful on the outside.  The most beautiful people I know actually spend very little time worrying about the way they look.  I've seen such strength, beauty and confidence radiating from women with what might seem like an unfortunate disability or physical impairment.  I see such beauty in age.  With age comes a respect and understanding of life that I don't quite have yet.

Focusing too much on outside beauty is a lonely and empty place to be.  It breaks my heart to hear of young girls getting plastic surgeries and lip injections to change something that doesn't need to be changed to begin with.  Being outside beautiful can only get you so far, and it's not an enduring or fulfilling type of attention. Being truly beautiful is who you are at core.  Inside beauty attracts solid relationships, fulfills your soul and the best part is... it lasts a lifetime.

May 18, 2012

What I learned from horses.

They say that a horse is a window to your soul.  Throughout my lifetime of owning horses, it has always been true to me that a horses' personality will mirror your own.  To anyone who has spent any time riding and being around a horse, you probably know what I mean.

True horsemanship is an understanding between horse and rider, it is a willing give and take on both sides.  A horse reflects it's owner's personality.  When you see a well behaved, willing and calm horse, you can tell a lot about the person riding it.  When you see a nervous horse that works from fear, well, you see where I am going.  Much like people, once a horse has a bad experience or the trust is broken, it is never forgotten for the rest of his life. It's his nature to protect himself from pain or bad experiences, he can't help it.

I've had many horses in my lifetime, and it seems certain horses with different personalities came into my life at just the right times.  When I was needing to be taught patience and determination, a horse requiring a lot of patience came into my life.  When I needed partnership and a friend through my awkward teen years, I was given the best friend that I have ever had in my horse, Skipper. When Skipper died a few years ago, I had decided it was time to close the chapter on that part of my life and focus on my work.

And then, my mother made an impulse buy at a Paint Horse auction and bought a weanling colt last winter. I certainly did not want a new horse, I was living in New York! My mom defends her purchase by saying "he was such a good deal, nobody wanted him because he didn't fit in".  For whatever reason my mom bought that weanling colt in the middle of winter in Minnesota, I believe there was a bigger reason.  He didn't have enough spots on his coat to appeal to the Paint horse people, so he was overlooked by everyone except my mom.  My mom gave me a reason to always come home to Minnesota in buying him. I needed him to keep me grounded.  He needed me to accept him for who he was on the inside, not the outside.  I didn't care that he was born without spots like the rest of his breed, he's still beautiful. We named him Jack.

Jack is two years old this spring.  He is truly a reflection of who I am.  At times, I kind of wish he wasn't so honest! He has an uncontrollable curiosity for everything he doesn't know.  If he was a person, he would be asking me a million questions.  "Whatcha doing? Can I help? How did you do that?" He thrives around getting my attention with his enormous personality and humorous actions.  He always has to be touching, grabbing, pulling or licking me.  He has a big sensitive heart and yelling at him would undoubtedly send him into depression.

Not everyone can truly understand this bond that horse people have with their horses, and I get that.  For me, riding and growing up with horses has made me who I am today and has been the most honest reflection of who I am.

Click to view larger.

May 10, 2012

Separation Anxiety!

I am kind of sad.  I am sitting here in a room with bare walls that (until 20 minutes ago) was floor to ceiling full of my artwork.   I feel like I have lost a little part of me. Someone tell me this is normal!

I usually don't have any attachment to my artwork, but these particular pieces were different. Collectively, this was the best artwork I have ever created.  I've spent the last four months obsessing over each piece, eliminated my social life and turned down modeling jobs in order to produce over 30 new original paintings.  The most beautiful thing I see in these paintings is not the faces of the supermodels I painted, it's what I see and feel now that they are gone. There was evidence of emotion, self discipline, personal experiences and breakthroughs as an artist.  It was a visual evolution of myself going from a bit of an identity crises to a state of contentment.  I hope this is something we all can relate to.

The good news?  All of that art is on it's way to NYC for the biggest show of my life!  Well, not all of it. I picked my best 14 original paintings and nine gouache works on paper- the rest I have probably white-washed and no longer exist.  The influential network of people coming together to make this show possible deserve my best effort.  I will be donating the profits from one special piece to the National Foundation for Veteran Redeployment, a non profit organization that handles a big issue right now- the unemployment of our veterans.

Next step? To get back in front of the camera again.  Looking forward to shooting next week!  And getting out of this empty room!

It took me forever to wrap every piece.

And this would be how you transport 14 canvas paintings to NYC from Minneapolis.  Hire Art Handlers. 

May 7, 2012

First Magazine Cover... May 2012 Issue

If you're standing in line at the grocery store this week, look for me on the cover of First Magazine! It's not every day this happens, so I had to share.

Now, my cover on First Magazine is certainly not competing with the readers or high fashion content of Vogue, Elle or Marie Claire, but I do get to share national newsstand space with all the famous faces!