I have to let you in on a secret: the veil in my Begin Again series was actually just a curtain from Goodwill. I couldn’t find a veil in the style I wanted that looked antique enough. So, I went to my local thrift store and perused the bed sheet and curtain section. When I found the perfect little curtain I bought it for just a few dollars even though it was bright white and new.

When I got it home I brewed a giant batch of tea and soaked the cloth in there for hours and hours. The curtain I got was a synthetic blend and not absorbent, so it took a long time of dying to get anything to stick. Here’s an example of the veil from the series after it was dyed and photographed:

Tea dying is the art of antiquing fabric on the cheap. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or a lot of money to make the new look old. Here’s a breakdown of how to do it. If you try this, please share pictures of the results!

Black tea
White fabric (preferably cotton)
Pot + water

Step 1: Unpackage about 20 tea bags of generic black tea. Alternately, you can use loose leaf tea (I might have done that if all that I had was pretty expensive to replace). Use more tea bags for a darker look or less for lighter.

Step 2: Boil a big pot of water, large enough for your fabric to be submerged.

Step 3: Put your tea bags in and soak for a few minutes.

Step 4: Turn off the heat and put your fabric inside the pot with the tea bags. Let the tea bags remain inside for the duration of the dying process. I recommend using the lid so the heat stays in.

Step 5: Wait until your fabric turns the color you want. I recommend at least 30 minutes which will yield the following results:

Step 6: Hang to dry.

Step 7: Use in your gorgeous photography! And show me!

What an incredibly fun challenge. One of my favorites. There are so many ways we can make masks for our art. There are even more ways we can use the mask as a symbol – for what, that is up to you. Identity. Hiding. Pure creepiness factor.

Get creative! I can’t wait to see what different types of masks crop up!

I’ll pull some of the art that I see this week to feature!
Use the hashtag #PromotingPassionChallenge so I can find you!

Here is some food for thought. Enjoy the challenge, and remember to push yourself creatively!

Even something as simple as a deck of cards can be a mask.
This mask was only $2 from a craft store, but it works well because it is so nondescript.
A bird mask can easily be crafted out of papier mache!
My most recent mask image in my new series, Begin Again.
Even the simple hiding of the face can be considered a mask.
  • February 16, 2020 - 9:27 am

    Gallagher Green - The last challenge was totally not my style, which is why my photo stunk for the challenge.
    But I figured this week would be better, then it is “Mask” possibly the only theme that is even worse for me! I have no idea what to do, and I personally hate wearing any type of costume for the most part including masks.
    I going to have to really think hard about this one to even get a lousy idea. But, I will try.ReplyCancel

I think the term “sell out” was largely created for artists by other artists who never achieved as much success. That might sound harsh, but so is calling out a fellow artist for making money. 

Are there people in the world who make beautiful, incredible, amazing things and then go on to create less amazing, less beautiful, less incredible things for the sake of money? Absolutely. 

But…and do I even have to ask…why shame them for that?

We love the stereotype of the starving artist because it keeps artists where they “belong” – that is, in a place of desperation, and therefore, perceived inspiration. The notion of an artist is a romantic one – fraught with insecurities and tribulations, making art out of the pain. 

Where does the pain go when the money starts rolling in? The vision is a tad less lusty, isn’t it?

Who wants to envision a rich artist in a fancy house happily writing the deepest poetry, or creating deep images. We work to immortalize the vision of the starving artist because that is the romantic version of an artist. And don’t we love some romance?

But as an artist, I take pride in specifically not starving. I take pride in making money…dare I say…from my art!

I subscribe to a common feeling about artists: artists should create first and foremost for the self. If no one ever saw it or bought it or commented on it, I like to know that an artist still would have made it.

But, having made it, I’d also prefer they profit from it.

First, we can compare art to any other job. It requires long hours of study (often of the self, which is some of the most difficult work we do in this life). It requires long hours of practice to become studied enough in the art of your craft. And it requires many, many hours of failure, often publicly, in order to find the good stuff. 

Art is a job, if you choose it to be. 

I know so few artists who make money solely from selling their art. They work other jobs, they diversify their business, and they make ends meet. 

If I see someone create for the benefit of someone else, I don’t see a sell out. I see someone who understands that art does not have to be for the few, it can also be for the masses. Art is not meant to be hidden; there, it decomposes and falls to ash. It is meant to be shared, handled, observed, digested, spit out, and transformed by the human experience. 

If someone can parlay their talents into a more commercial realm, good. I hope every artist with something important to say finds a way to fund that voice of theirs. Art is not cheap. It requires resources. 

And if someone begins to create commercial work and never, ever goes back to creating solely for the self, then we can consider that person lucky for having found something that fulfills them even more. We can’t pretend that their path is the same as ours.

Rather than use the word sell out, which is derogatory and mean, let’s start congratulating artists who are able to make ends meet with their art. Let’s applaud those who figure out how to continue navigating life while creating art, because we know, it isn’t easy. 

And for goodness sake, let us never put down another soul who is so bold as to create from their heart, even if they do not exclusively create from their heart. 

That is the difficult work of humans.
It is the important work of the world.
May we all find a way to sing that song,
no matter the means.

P.S. If you ever want to have an honest conversation about money + art, diversification of income, cost to create art, or anything else you can think of that people don’t talk enough about for the “shame” of the topic, trust me – I want to have that conversation.

  • February 14, 2020 - 1:25 pm

    Gallagher Green - I love this! I have a very good friend who is a co-author for an extremely successful novelist, she wrote a few novels herself and they did okay but not great. So she got the opportunity to co-write, he sends a (very) rough draft/outline and she writes it one chapter at a time and sends them to him, then he sees if they are what he is what he had in mind for the story.
    Even though she loves it, says she doesn’t want to write her own stuff at all, has lord knows how many NYT bestsellers, and she pays more in state tax than I make in a year, people still give her and the writer she works for a very hard time because of the fact it is co-writing. Just because they make a lot of money they are instantly written off as no good, or sell-outs. I wish I had a fraction of the writing skill that either of them has!

    Great post that I whole heartily agree with, I don’t know why people think it is so bad that we want to live a comfortable life and be an artist.ReplyCancel

This week’s challenge is not for the faint of heart. You know I love me some grotesque imagery. Grotesque / Gothic paintings are my favorite. Take the darkness and run with it. This week, explore the darkness that everyone holds inside and see what comes out.

Maybe this will help, too:

Grotesque: comically or repulsively ugly or distorted, incongruous or inappropriate to a shocking degree.

synonyms:malformed, deformed, misshapen, misproportioned, distorted, twisted, gnarled, mangled, mutilated; More

I’ll pull some of the art that I see this week to feature!
Use the hashtag #PromotingPassionChallenge so I can find you!

Here is some food for thought. Enjoy the challenge, and remember to push yourself creatively!

Creating a dark background does not alone make for grotesque art; it requires that something is distorted or “off”.
Here we have the illusion of blood.
Unzipping the skin.
An older image, likening myself to classic paintings of dead animals.
One of my earliest works.
  • February 14, 2020 - 1:29 pm

    Gallagher Green - I am struggling with this, I just don’t have much for ideas along this line. But I am doing as close as I have I guess, better than nothing.ReplyCancel

A key component to my fine art work is texture. I add it to almost every image I create for many reasons: to make my work look more filmic, to make it look more painterly, to make it look old, and sometimes as a finishing layer to make it look polished.

There are countless uses for texture and each image calls for something a little different. That’s why it pays off to make your own textures, and it’s super simple! Here are 10 different textures I made in about 20 minutes within a 10 foot radius of my garage!

Materials (all optional):
Paint Brush
Baby Powder or Flour
Black Cloth

The goal is to create random smears or smudges, splatters, cracks, etc. Any pattern that isn’t discernable is great. You want to avoid too much contrast of light on your texture if possible – even, soft light is best from my experience. Get close to the texture so that it fills your frame. And finally, get creative.

You’ll find yourself looking at things you never noticed before in a whole new way! Here are my textures and the wider shots of where the textures came from!

Want to learn how to edit with textures? I have a whole tutorial about just that right here! On that same page you can also find my texture available for a totally free download.

Share this with any artists you think could benefit!

Happy Creating!

  • February 7, 2020 - 7:34 am

    Anna Bruce - I also love photographing old cookie sheets. I’ve made textures out of falling snow (by shooting up towards the sky), and I have photographed blank canvases too so I can get that painterly effect.ReplyCancel

    • February 7, 2020 - 10:03 am

      Gallagher Green - I never thought of a cookie sheet, that is a great idea! But I’m not sure mine are textured enough, I better make some cookies on them first to make sure. 😉
      I have some canvas paintings, I should take photos of the backsides of them for textures, thanks for the idea! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2020 - 9:24 am

    Marcel Klassen - Hello!
    So you just take picture of it then? And then turn it black and white?
    Best regards ❤️❤️ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2020 - 10:03 am

    Anne Haile - I really love the baby powder idea, thats one I hadnt thought of. Will be trying it out on different textured backgrounds this weekReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2020 - 10:08 am

    Gallagher Green - It is so stupid, I never thought of just painting on some paper for textures! How could I have not thought of that???
    I do try and remind myself to look for them as I am out and about.
    Nothing ties a composite together like a texture, even a faint texture makes a huge difference in some photo.
    I have also used them for making my own cliff faces and such like they do in matte painting.ReplyCancel

  • February 7, 2020 - 10:26 am

    Jose Antonio Blaya - La verdad es que no se me había ocurrido nunca esta forma de elaborar tus propias texturas. La imaginación al poder ReplyCancel