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Office view

View from the Sheep Incognito Office

<strong>Walls – Things That Constrain Or Liberate</strong>

We just spent a weekend in Virginia Beach – but “spent” seems the wrong word for <!–more–>
the time we were
awarded here. We gained a weekend here might be more appropriate.

We did not come to enjoy the nightlife.
We did not stop by to visit relatives.
And we did not intend to just sit by the beach and fry our white, slightly overweight, beyond youthful beautiful selves.

We came to work.

And so we did.
We set up the walls to house my paintings in my booth in a slight drizzle and wind – but once we had the walls in place, the drizzle and wind became merely a background sound that blended in with the sound of the waves.

It was peaceful, despite the blusteriness outside.

Nighttime found us in a nicer hotel – perfect beds – with Great Sheets this time! – in close walking distance from our office for the weekend.

We discovered that the walls keep out the sounds of partying teenagers, belligerent drunks, and emergency vehicles beeping through town.

As we were meeting and greeting all the lovely people during the Neptune Festival that meandered into our booth, it occurred to me, that most seem to have enclosed themselves in walls of some sort: social status to be upheld, protective walls to avoid others from seeing the real person or to protect against more pain, walls to ensure safety by keeping others out, others with walls that were pocked with hurt inflicted on them by others.

But then there were some, that walked in – those that were open to life, other humans, and emotions, and all the “dangers” interacting with other humans entails.
Their walls were either paper thin, more like rice-paper screens, or the walls were wildly decorated with wild colors – either way, they left an impression with me:

Life is so much more than what we experience in our little cubicle in life.
It pays to stand on the wobbly office chair and peer over the partition into the next person’s life – they might have a circus going on there!
Or, they might have fallen under the weight of life, and need a helping hand to get back on their feet.

As I was sitting in my cubicle for the weekend – on the boardwalk, warm breeze in my hair, warm smell of bolitas rising up through the air, up away in the distance, I saw a shimmering light, my head grew heavy and might sight grew dim, ….wait, wrong song…

Anyway: as I was in fact sitting in my cubicle at the beach, with a warm breeze in my hair, sun sparkling on the water just a few yards away, and smiling people in my booth, i realized that the lower, thinner and crumblier our personal walls are, the more we expose ourselves to the real purpose of life: living life together, seeing each others real life going on, hearing the other’s pain, reaching out to help each other past what once kept us all apart and isolated.

So, here, let me knock this panel out of my cubicle wall – welcome to an artist’s life of maaahem, incredible office locations, weird food choices, strange painting ideas, and thought processes that may be nearly impossible to follow. It’s where I live…

And, though our pyrpose here at the beach was quite different from everybody ele’s, we still enjoyed the same effects from sharing airspace here in VA Beach:
We did enjoy a lovely night-time dinner at our favorite cuban place.
We did meet more than relatives – we met friends. New ones, old ones, and some we’ve known for a long time. A lovely reunion day.

And, we did sit by the beach, and fry our flabby selves – it’s the effect of not having cubicle walls to hide behind.

 

 
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<strong>New Fun Sheep Incognito Art, fresh off the easel </strong>

Meet the newest addition to my Sheep incognito painting  series:

<strong>Title:</strong> <em>Grass Hopper</em>
<strong>Size:</strong> <em>24″ x 48″</em>
<strong>Media</strong> <em>Oils on Canvas</em>

<strong>Price:</strong> <em>3500</em>

Prints will be available at <strong><a href=”http://www.charisma-art.com”>the Sheep Incognito Sheep Shop</a></strong> soon.

Send me a message if you want to offer the original painting a good home to hang out in.

 

 
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Make your paintings draw people in, simply by using the right colors

 

Color Psychology – it seems to be a thing some smart guy discovered at some point…you know, where the color red enhances appetite, where green is a soothing color, and blue has a calming effect.

I’ve discovered that in fact, the guy has a point - on Wikipedia, we read that crime rates were reduced in neighborhoods where cool blue street lights were installed…red pills seem to act better as stimulants than the blue ones…yellow painted houses sell faster than any other color…

So while it may seem random the way colors are used, in fact, there is a method to most madness (I would say, Jackson Pollock might be an exception to that rule…) .

In the case of my paintings, I discovered that in fact, colors matter – a lot.

They work as a magnet to the eye, if used in the right way. One artist’s orange painted with three colors may look entirely different painted by another artist, in terms of vibrancy and saturation.

People often comment on my colors in my paintings – “Do you use a certain kind of paint?”, “How do you mix your colors to make them so vibrant” – there is a secret behind it, and I can at least share part of it with you:

In keeping with the color psychology I mentioned above, keep in mind what emotions you want the viewer to experience when viewing the painting: do you want them to relax, calm down, feel serene or cool? Then having blues and/or greens as a main color scheme would be best.

 

Off To LaLa Land

Off to Lala Land by Conni Togel

You want them to feel warm, fuzzy, comfy, embraced? Warm reds, earth tones, warm yellows are the ticket there.

Just Lion Around

Just Lion Around – by Conni Togel

 

But that does not explain the vibrancy much, does it? Here’s the secret: clarity.
Any time you mix paint colors on the palette, it will introduce a bit of muddiness  - that is based on the fact that most colors straight from the tube contain at least some part of another color in them: certain blues lean towards green (which, as you might remember from kindergarden, is a mix of blue with yellow). So when you try mixing a purple with a blue that contains a trace of yellow and a red than contains a trace of yellow, you will get some sort of brownish/green. Most certainly not a vibrant purple.

 

Silence of the Lambs by Conni Togel

Silence of the Lambs by Conni Togel

So try this: find a blue that leans towards purple (a color wheel is a marvelous thing to possess – get one!) – the blue closest to purple is what you are aiming for. Then, rather than finding a orange-ish red to mix with, grab a magenta colored red – something that already looks almost purple. Mix them – and, OMG, it’s PURPLE!

So the same method applies pretty much to any vibrant color you want to mix: keep them clear of added colors that are opposite on the color wheel, unless you are trying to make a grayish/brownish/blackish neutral.
To make a vibrant orange, mix a warm/leaning towards orange kind of yellow with an orange/leaning towards yellow red. That will keep the colors clean, crisp, and un-muddy.

Spring Awakening

Spring Awakening Sheep Incognito painting by Conni Togel

 

The basic lesson in all of this: grab a color wheel – pick a color you want to mix, use the two colors beside it to obtain that shade. The further apart the colors are on the wheel, the muddier they will get.

So there ya have it – just a little secret to help you keep your painting glowing with color – it will magnetize your paintings!

 
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Real World Artists vs. TV Reality Shows

when one travels as much as we do to earn a living, one realizes rather rapidly that there is a very small limit of things one actually needs to live with.
It is so much easier to not have to deal with lawns needing mowing, mail needing to be dealt with, utility bills to be paid, livingrooms to be vacuumed, cats to be fed, and all the other things that apparently are necessary when one has a house.

But then, on arrival back at home, one realizes that there is some comfort in having a house that is attached to the ground, that does not involve a motor blowing out, tires going flat, or septic systems needing dumping (thank heavens for city sewer systems!).

It is a constant dilemma – the freedom and rugged living conditions of the open road in contrast to the solidness of being home for the kids, the drama, and the bills.

A nice balance of the two would be perfect, but alas, that is not my lot in life, at the moment.
So when we are home, we do try to make the most of it – much of the time, we are painting, printing, embellishing, shipping, creating, doing taxes, running the teenies around to their various events, catching up with loved ones, and trying to pack all the homeowner requirements into a few days – all at the same time.
It makes for quite a bit of a systematic maaahem mostly – life is too short to be bored, it would seem.

How do other people find the time to amuse themselves about the current reality show family – the Kardashians, The Duck Dynasty, The 19 Kids and Counting Family, and on and on?

My life contains enough drama for ten reality shows – so maybe someday, the tv producers will try to get a hold of me to show what a truly glamorous artist life really is about. I could show them the scene behind the art scene – you know, the one where the studio is not a pristine, funky, clearcut, halogen lighted, sparsely decorated in swedish minimalist furniture downtown loft, but a room in my house shared by kids’ craft projects, a stack of bills, tax papers, and receipts the size of Kilimanjaro, and about 30 paintings in various stages of completion, along with a disarray of dirty brushes, four pallettes with different color schemes, stray paint rags draped on various surfaces….

Or the version where we are loading the trailer and car late into the night, to get up earlier than the sun to get on the road for a two day drive to wherever the reviews say the best/largest/funkiest/most lucrative/best visited art festival/fair/show takes place that weekend. Where we set up in rain/wind/heat/cold to brave the crowds/lack of crowds/rain/wind/heat/cold to make sales/make no sales and then reverse that whole process to start it all over again the next weekend.

The real glamour of my artist life, though, quite real, quite honest: the people we meet on the way. The connections that run deeper than just a “How are ya doin’ today?” phrases we so easily toss out into the world.
The connections that remind us that each of us are as individual as our own lives dictate us to be.

Each one of us is our own story. It makes for a very interesting ready, if we only take the time to ready each person between the lines.
Every one of us – real life drama sitcoms.

And that is a show worth watching to me – it makes me like being an artist.

So to the tv producers looking for a new reality tv show idea: come spend some time with me, I will show you the art scene that has been obscured by gallery opening H’ors d’oeuvres, little black dresses, clinking champagne glasses, and art critic reviews of carp schmiered on notebook paper that has been lauded the next “Up and Coming Young Artist”. It has nothing to do with art, artistic ability, but mainly with marketing – much like our food choices have generally become a choice of which picture we like better on the cardboard box it is packaged in.

So to the tv producers looking for the next “Up and Coming TV Reality Show” – come hang out with us – the ones that wear torn jeans to just set up our gallery in a dusty place, to bring smiles to people that are walking around in shorts and tank tops clad in camouflage on a 95ºF day to see what real art and real artists are all about.
You might find a whole different world to show the world – one where a cocktail dress is made to wipe paint brushes on, and a champagne glass might very well work better as a water jar to wash out the vibrant colors that were just applied to a canvas painted over five times.

There, you will find people that genuinely make an impact on the real world – the world of reality shows that are not on TV. With actors that are not acting, but just doing what they do best: making the world a better place by making art for the real world.

You ARE a TV Reality Show Producer? Awesome. Contact me, and I will help you uncover the “behind the scenes scenes” that will change the canvas of what the art scene is about.

 

 
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Every now and then, life has a way of reminding you that little things do, in fact matter.

Things your mom would tell you to “Never Mind” or “Get Over it”. Things like the salt in the shaker going solid so nothing comes out.
The bread you had in the oven for dinner being slightly burnt, because you took the time to watch a quick youtube funny with your teenager.
Or, best example: hotel sheets that don’t fit the bed.

To an outsider mundane, irrelevant occurrences.

The sheet thing – it’s a thing.
When you are forced to join the “carnies” of the art world – the art show road warriors – you get a whole different perspective of what the real “art world” is like for thousands of american artists.

Did you know, that quite a few of these people come to the art festivals from hundreds of miles away?
Did you know that they often have to set up their tents and displays either late at night or before dawn the day of the festival?
Did you know that many of them sleep in their van or even their little cars to save on hotel costs?
Did you know most of them eat snacks all day, because they can’t leave their booth to go get food – or, if they do, the food choices might be limited to fair food like funnelcakes or chicken on a stick. For every day of the festival. At $7-$15 a meal.
Did you know that most of those sleeping in their vehicles don’t get to shower after a long day of set up, show times in the sun, talking with people all day, and the going to sleep in their overheated cars?
Did you know that booth spaces at art shows cost between $100 and $1200 to rent at the art festivals?
Did you know that often the only bathrooms available to artists are the portapotties at the festival? Did you know that often there isn’t even water to wash hands afterwards?
Did you know that artist often get robbed, at shows, with security present?
My car was broken into twice in four days, with important paperwork two gps systems stolen from it a few years ago. Another time, a lady tried walking off with the money from four shows in my computer bag – she opened the car door and tried walking away with it, while I was loading the trunk.
This, at a show in one of America’s wealthiest towns.

It explains why so many of us artists have vans or rv’s or even tents to sleep in while we are on the road. And canisters of water and hand sanitizer.

This past weekend I joined the ranks of the “nomadic tent dwelling artist” species – the rv was being difficult again, so I opted to avoid paying $129 per night at the only hotel in walking distance of the show, and bring a small tent along instead.
Camping on the grounds was $40 for the weekend.

Only, I grabbed the wrong one from home – it was the smallest we had, but it also turned out to be the one with the shattered tent poles, and apparently also the one tent some cat or tge other had decided to use for a marking spot.
This I found out after a long drive here, a long setup of booth, and a scuttle to fix the broken tent poles with a branch and some duct tape.

Did you know that duct tape fixes a multitude of things, but it does not remove the smell of cat pee? I learned a lot this weekend.

At night, i also learned that I am highly allergic to something in the grass or the tent I was sleeping in – breathing problems at night in a field in a tent that smells like a litterbox after a long day don’t make the art world look more attractive.

So – three nights of that situation got me through the art festival (which, it turned out was more of a craft festival instead). After the show ended, i decided to splurge on a hotel room – a clean soft bed, with a clean shower, and free breakfast within walking distance sounded great.

The price, I was told: $166 for the night, but, special discounted rate is $99.
Usually, my max for hotels is $89 per night – higher than that, and the car becomes a viable option for sleeping in.
But – with no other hotels to choose from and the lobby looked clean and comfy, I got a room.
Everything looked tidy – towels and bathroom clean.

The shower felt great.

But the sheets!
Not the crisp, white, tightly tucked sheets of a $99/night hotel, but the $35/per night “you will get mugged, raped and hacked into pieces if you sleep in this motel” kind of sheets. The pillows: flattened pieces of old quilt batting or possibly up-cycled chair cushions from a hundred year old church pew (it was hard to tell – almost got a concussion when flopping onto the pillow).
The blankets: half unraveled,musty smelling objects (not unrelated to the smell in my tent, with the additional “flavor” of old nicotine).

The sheets!
Not tucked in sheets. Not cotton sheets.Not fitted sheets. But a flimsy, somewhat polyester type flat sheet that attempted to cover the mattress and the protruding very worn yellow foam mattress pad.
No matter how careful you lay down on that kind of thing, you will find yourself engulfed in a twist of sheets, blankets, unsavory bedspreads, and nicotine smell.
Which will
Keep you awake all night, regardless of your level of exhaustion.

It is most certainly not the ingredient for resting up after fighting the war for survival for three days…

$99 for a night like that – Did you know that a halfway decent sheet set with a fitted sheet can be purchased for around $40?

So…

- if you are in the hotel business: the sheets matter. A lot. Get good ones, or charge only what your bedding is worth.

- if you are an art festival goer: your purchase of someone’s artwork matters. A Lot. It might just pay for a fitted sheet, or just a flushing toilet for the artist for a night. But it matters.

- if you are a show promoter or organizer: charging the artist $40 extra for a booth fee or electrical service, without providing humane sanitary conditions for the artists to work in, matters.

- if you are a city hosting an art fair and you decide to charge $100 parking fees from the artists that are already paying hundreds just to be there – please give the hotels a tax break so they can put that money towards good sheets on their beds.

Because: sheets matter.

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Barber Shop Quartet Serenades The Sheep Incognito Flock at Amish Acres Festival In Nappanee Indiana

Today I had a BaahBaaah Shop Quartet step i to my Sheep Incognito Art booth at the Amish Acres Festival in Nappanee Indiana – they sang me a lovely song, which absolutely brightened my day!

The world needs more men like that!
One of them is 83 years old – he has been BaaahBaaahshop singin’ for 55 years!

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NEW SHEEP INCOGNITO PAINTING ON THE EASEL: “GRASSHOPPER”

 

this is a new painting I’ve started on this weekend – we have two shows happening this weekend in Nappanee, Indiana (Amish Acres Arts & Crafts Festival), and in Dublin, Ohio (Dublin Irish Festival), so we needed to beef up the walls of the booth…

 

Title: GRASSHOPPER

Size: 24″ x 48″

Media: Oils on canvas

 

Starting with a quick sketch of Burnt Umber thinned with orange oil, I first established the general shape and figure, then painted the background in.

Initially I thought a black sheep would be the best, but with the background being a bit darker, the contrast will be to weak – so I am adding a warmer, wool colored touch to the sheep, to make it look less cold and stand out more.

 

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Close-up of "Grasshopper"

“GrassHopper” close-up by Conni Togel

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Finally – Sheep Incognito hit the road again!

Forced vacations sometimes are good events – especially those that involve the Sheep Incognito flock getting stuck in Colorado….

We seem to have found possibly the best car repair shop west ofthe Mississippi in Loveland Colorado: Stan’s Auto Service not only got the RV rolling again, but they were fantastic people to work with, and, for the first time in a year, the follow-up mechanic wasn’t shaking his head in despair at what crimes to the RV his predecessor had committed…in fact, he said “that was an excellent repair job they did”.
Wow.
Miracles DO happen.

So, not only did we make it home from Colorado, we’ve also made it up to Pennsylvania for the 4th of July Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival, and are heading to the Plymouth, MI Art in the Park Festival for this weekend.

Maybe we’ve finally turned the page to actually getting some time to paint and create, instead of sitting in repair shop waiting areas…

We are pretty excited!

 
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Published on June 24, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

While we *should* be on the road home to South Carolina, we instead are parked in front of a car shop again…this time in Loveland, Colorado with a cracked cylinder head and a cracked manifold.

Hopefully they will get us on the road again by Tuesday evening – we should have been in Corolla Island for an art show las Tuesday already…this testing my patience for sure.,

So right now, the status is “we should have you on the road by tonight”.

But I’m not sure I am buying that…

Nonetheless – we are aiming to be in Latrobe, PA for the Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival for the 4th of July.
Let’s see if that can be done.

For now, here’s a memory I’ll share of this trip:

RMNP

Trail Ridge Rd in RMNP in Colorado – top of the world here