May 1, 2014

Meet Bette and Lalita!

I am so very excited to share with you two lovely people in my life who have helped and continue to help me grow my art business.  If you are planning to attend our Open Studio Event this weekend, you will be able to meet all three of us!  We have been working hard to create a wonderful experience for all of our guests this Saturday evening.  

A little about each of these lovely ladies: 

Bette is my studio partner who I feel so lucky to have in my life.  She specializes in film photography (yes, actual film) and processes and develops her work in her dark room located inside of our studio.  Together, we have created an incredible studio that is an inspiring and almost magical place to work. 

Lalita and I met about six years ago (I think, but who is keeping count?) at a fashion event in Minneapolis.  We bonded instantly and she has been one of my very closest and best of friends ever since.   Recently, it was Lali's idea to help me with my business... she noticed areas where I needed help and those areas happen to be her strengths!   No one knows my art better than Lali, which makes her perfect for managing sales and business relations.

Drop Lalita a line and say hello, and feel free to ask her any questions about purchasing artwork and prints!

Hope to see everyone at this weekends' event!

Photo credit:  Bernadette @ Dette Snaps

March 13, 2014

My hidden stack of art.

I am an artist.  I make something every single day.  I get ideas and need to execute on them almost immediately. I am also a perfectionist (most artists are).  This combo of being an artist, idea person, creator of something daily and perfectionist means I make a whole lot of stuff no one will ever see.  

What is all this stuff I don't share?  Well, a lot of it consists of a small stack of paintings in the corner of my studio.  I've never shown them to anyone because they are incomplete, imperfect or artwork that I don't think anyone could understand.  I don't plan to show them to anyone either.  Unless... someone asks.

Recently, I invited a few new guests to my studio after an event for a quick tour. One of these guests was Phong Pham, and he was politely listening as I explained my latest works to the small group.  I couldn't help but notice that Phong was focused directly on my stack of mis-fit paintings in the corner.

"Can I just see that one?" He asked me.  I thought he had to be pointing to the latest work-in-progress displayed on my easel.  "No, the one down there behind the others... with the girl."

The painting Phong wanted to see was one I had done a while ago, but never displayed it or tried to sell it because I didn't think anyone would like it.   My mom didn't particularly care for it because one of her eyes is intentionally not finished.  Mom has always been my best/toughest art critic, so when she plants a seed in my head, it stays. I didn't have a title for this painting, and certainly hadn't thought about a price.  Of all the art in my studio, Phong gravitated towards this particular piece. 

"How much for this one?"

I was shocked.  How did he even notice it was there?  I didn't have a price, so I quickly made one up on-the-spot.  When Phong talked about they way he connected with this painting, I knew this painting was made just for him. He had been looking for exactly this piece of art, and he had  found it there in my corner stack. It's amazing when a piece of original artwork touches someone else- this is exactly the connection all artists want others to feel in their work.

Phong bought the painting.  He then followed up with this thoughtful email:

"Over the weekend, I tried to summarize my thoughts about this painting and you. I love the contrast between the surrounding colors, and the woman facial and body expression. From the heaven perspective, blue is the color most abundant on earth and it is the color that often correlates with melancholy; yet she is at peace.
Surrealism is not my favorite, and yet I gravitate to her. In the dark, she looks so real because I was startle by her on the first night.
I think you should name this painting. I have a few thoughts about that."

Well, it was only appropriate to have Phong name the painting.  Plus, I am usually pretty terrible at coming up with appropriate/clever names for my paintings.   He proposed "Valerie's Escape".  I told him we would drop the "Valerie" (because that would imply that I painted myself) and just simply call it "Escape".  She is now proudly posted on my website with her new title.

It was an interesting lesson.  Not everyone (including my own self) is going to like all of my art.... and that is OK.  If everyone liked it, that would be the real problem!  Having the courage to display it all (not just in art, but in life) and share every bit of your heart and soul without fear of judgement that is tough. But it's also rewarding, because only then can you make an impact on another person... or perhaps the world. One persons' idea of perfection is usually totally different than the next.  Dang my perfectionist side!!!

I have to add, the day Phong came to pick the painting up at my studio, he said "I would have paid a lot more for that painting"!

People connect with truth and meaning in art.  You can't fake it.  Truth and meaning in art is not the same as technical skill.  In fact, most people would prefer to buy a technically imperfect piece of art so long as they connect to it in some meaningful way.   So, we should all share our imperfect art, ideas and self.  It means so much to just the right person, which is far better than being "safe" and having no meaning to everyone. 

Except.... no one will be seeing the oil painting I just messed up.  ;)

February 21, 2014

So long, Blogger!

Since I started my blogspot blog exactly five years ago, it has served me well.  Alas, it's finally time for me to graduate from my trusty blogspot to my new official website, where my blog will now exist.

Quickly, I need to reinforce that a blogger or wordpress blog just like this one has been a powerful tool for me.  While not everyone can afford to build a professional website, everyone can afford to build a blog, and publish content helpful to your online presence.  This blog has been the reason I made connections I otherwise wouldn't have that afforded me huge career opportunities that otherwise would never have happened.  I connected with people, businesses and brands around the world.   I organized my thoughts here, I shared my passion for art, I shared my adventures, life lessons and announced my events and art shows.   I've loved when I struck a hot topic relevant to readers who reached out to me afterwards.  It has been one of the greatest marketing tools a young entrepreneur/creative/artist/model could have.

My blog didn't start because I wanted a blog, or because I had anything particularly interesting to say that anyone would want to read.    My college professor had his whole "Future of Advertising" class start one as a class assignment.   Some of us went to blogger, some to Wordpress. We were exploring free ways to build a digital footprint that we could fill with beneficial content relevant to our careers and personal growth.  If it weren't for my professor, I am not sure I would have a blog... and all the life-changing opportunities that have come with it.

In celebration of five years writing my blog, I am happy to announce I am moving it...  I will still keep this blog public, but I won't be updating here any longer.  You can find my new blog on my website: 

Thank you to all of my loyal readers.  I hope you will enjoy the new experience!


February 15, 2014

Honored to be a part of this years' Red Dress Collection 2014!

This year has already been off to an incredible start.  The Pepsi Superbowl Event in New York was a huge success, I just moved into my dream art studio last week (more on both of these events later) and tomorrow is (so excited!)...  the 2014 Red Dress Collection fashion show!

Let me start by explaining what the Red Dress Collection is and why I am excited to be a part of it.  The Red Dress Collection fashion show was created to raise proceeds and awareness for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Program- a passionate organization dedicated to empowering women to take control of their health.    It has gained huge national publicity over the last ten years, even kicking off Mercedes Benz NewYork Fashion Week just last week  (see the photos from it here). The event pairs celebrities with designers who create a one-of-a-kind red dress to be revealed in the show.  The Red Dress is the national symbol for women's hear disease and awareness and the events take place near Valentine's Day each year.

Tomorrow night is the Twin Cities' 2014 Red Dress Collection Show at the beautiful Graves Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.  While the first and second row tickets sold out almost immediately, you can still get your hands on a general admission ticket here.   Sixteen local celebrities paired with a local designer will be rocking the runway revealing the beautiful one-of-a-kind red dresses designed just for the show.  There will also be silent auction, cocktail party and pop-up shops. One of my favorite items to be auctioned are the designers' original sketches of the dress they created for their model!  As an artist, I think that is pretty cool.  Read more about the show here.

I was paired up with fashion designer, Tessa Louise , who has been working for the last three months on the most gorgeous… red dress for me.  She has put her heart and soul into this dress and I am going to be so proud to wear it for her tomorrow!  I feel like I got pretty lucky to get paired up with Tessa!  I am not allowed to say anything about what the dress looks like (which is hard), but I will say that it is going to be memorable.

I am honored to be a participating in this event with such a beautiful group of strong women.  To see all the local celebrities, click here.  To see all of this years' participating designers, click here.

February 16, 2014
6:00 p.m.: Doors Open
6-8 p.m. Silent auction, pop up shops, hors d'oeuvres and cocktails
8:15 p.m.: Runway Show
9:00 p.m.: Closing and Cocktails

January 24, 2014

Come see me at PepsiCo's #PEPCITY Super Bowl Celebration in NYC!

If only you could see the loft where I live right now.  You would certainly be able to tell I must be preparing for some kind of crazy art event… and you would most certainly be right!  Canvases, art supplies, sketches… but today it will all be shipped to New York just in time for the next weeks PepsiCo Superbowl event called #PEPCITY.

If you haven't heard about #PEPCITY yet, let me share!

For Immediate Release:

PepsiCo to Host Super Bowl Celebration in New York City’s Winter Village
at Bryant Park 
First-Of-Its-Kind, Dome-Enclosed Space Called #PEPCITY will Feature Unique PepsiCo Food and Beverage Offerings from Celebrity Chefs David Burke, Marc Forgione, & Michael Psilakis; Concerts from Austin Mahone, Prince Royce, & Ziggy Marley; and Works by Artists Snarkitecture, Valerie Carpender, Marcela Gutierrez, Jolt & Playwright Lemon Andersen

If you are going to be in New York next week, consider this your invitation to come see me paint live during PepsiCo's massive (literally massive in size) #PEPCITY event taking place in Bryant Park.  You won't want to miss it, plus you won't be able to miss it.   It's as a celebration of all things New York, including this years' official Super Bowl party with food, music, art and non-stop entertainment and musical performances.  Don't worry about the cold… #PEPCITY is enclosed and it will be warm.  And…   it's free!

My performances: I will be doing four live painting performances per day on Wed, Thursday and Saturday of next week at 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30.   I will have just eight minutes of performance time to complete a painting from start to finish… you read that right…. eight minutes!!!!!  I will be joined by the other super talented artists Marcela Gutierrez and Jolt (watch him here) while the talented playwright Lemmon Anderson narrates.  Bryant Park is located in Midtown Manhattan between 40th and 42nd Streets and 5th and 6th Aves.

This is the first time I have ever had to complete a whole painting in 8 minutes, but I am working on a strategy… hence why my home is full of art supplies right now. Practice makes perfect.  I am sure I will be really good at this by the time I finish my 12th painting in three days!   I won't tell you exactly what I will be painting, but I am sure you have an idea… I might include subtle nods to PepsiCo in my own way… hint, hint.

I can't wait.  This will be so much fun for me.  See you in New York!!!

And don't forget to tweet to me @vcarpender with the hashtag #PEPCITY.  Find me on Instagram, too.

Want more info on the #PEPCITY event, appearances and music performers?  Check this out.