A lot of young artists ask how I've made my way through this art world. I usually tell them that continuing to create regularly and to consistently market your art are the two keys.
I had a couple of mentors along the way, and I hired various people to help guide my career. At the beginning of my career, I hired an advisor to organize a plan. Currently, I put a lot of trust in the owners of my galleries who have been in the business for many years and are a great resource. But most of all I follow my gut, which usually points me in the right direction.
In 2017, I started a new relationship with two art coaches in NY. We met regularly over the phone. They encouraged me to be more open in my communications. They wanted to know my story, and encouraged me to share it with others. It took me a while to figure out what they were asking. Through their coaching and encouragement of me writing about my life, I narrowed it down to a few key points. This process helped me understand how and why I do what I do. I feel they were more "life coaches" than "art coaches". But for an artist, maybe that's the same thing. I've included my story below.
by Karen Silve
My three older sisters were all blond and social. I was a brunette introvert. I depended on them for everything. My early life was mostly visual. What people said to me had less meaning than the way their faces moved when they spoke to me. I would just look at them, smile, and had no idea what they said. I didn't talk, instead I drew and painted and art became the way I communicated with the world. Learning to communicate verbally was a huge challenge. I had to develop a unique work ethic differently than my siblings and classmates. This strong work ethic still helps me overcome many challenges today. A big part of it was to take one step forward every single day, no matter what. Then gradually what seemed to be impossible became possible.
Traveling to France after college was the first time I was independent from my siblings. During this time, I followed in Cezanne's footsteps, stood where he painted, and studied the difference between what he saw and what he painted. I was surprised by the smell of thyme and rosemary that wafted each foot step while walking into the fields. My marks became very thoughtful. Each was painted one mark at a time in just the right color. From a distance they would combine into an abstract landscape. Before I put a single mark on the canvas, I would mix colors on my pallet for over an hour. The harmony of colors became my desire and the most important part of the painting. Mixing the colors put me in a state of zen. I discovered my true passion for painting.
Cooking and wine have been an important part of my adult life. I worked for a few years in the wine industry, and had a french chef for a grandfather. Through the love of food and wine, I focused on my sense of smell and realized I associate smell with color. For example, in my wine tasting group, sometimes there would be no other word for a scent than the color yellow. It would be very vivid. I’ve learned that from my meditations of memory, the scent is as much a part of the memory as the visual, which influences my painting.
Today, I still meditate while mixing just the right colors on my palette. I start contemplating one idea and allow it to change without over-thinking it. Just like overcoming my verbal disability as a child, I work one thought to another and another until a whole body of work is developed. I’m capturing my life through this process, trusting my gut from all of my senses being in tune and putting my thoughts and memories onto canvas, one painting at a time. It’s the journey of life and recording it on canvas that excites me. Not knowing what the future holds, or where I’m going next.
I am on a new journey now. I have been working on an apartment and studio space in France for the last two years which should be finished this year. I am also focusing on learning to speak French. After spending many summers here in France, and realizing I understand what people are saying more by their movements rather than their words, just like when I was a child, I decided I needed a new way to learn the language. My first step was choosing a school. I just finished my first week at the Institut de Français in Villfranche-sur-Mer, an immersion French language school with classes and labs for 8 hours a day in which we are not allowed to speak a word of English.
If you haven't already, I invite you to sign up for my blog. I will be writing about my experience here, and my life as an artist in Provence over the next few months.