Uncorking Creativity: One Artist’s Experience

Monday, September 30, 2013 - by Diane Siskin

“It was just a matter of time, said San Francisco artist Ann Rea, “just as cooks and singers have fascinated audiences with their creative processes, now I, as a painter, have taken an innovative approach to my craft.”

Ms. Rea’s entrepreneurial art project takes something as ordinary as a vineyard filled with growing vines and reproduces the setting in a series of studies featuring richer, bolder paint color, defined use of shadows and the magical sun-light of the Northern California wine country.

In the process she has created a form of heirloom art; combing vineyard settings for a patron commission. Ms. Rea has brought the collaborative perspective of the artist and vineyard growers together in an “artisanal art for winemakers.”

And where consistency is usually important in wine preparation, the art that reflects it is a welcome contrast.

Ms. Rea came to her field of forte in painting when she questioned assumptions about how to market her art.

She now employs as part of her business plan a full-bodied, but crisp take on a target market, art and wine lovers.

“People buy art on vacation. Likewise people who buy and collect wine also often collect art,’’ explained the artist when we met recently in San Francisco. So the artist extended her creativity to inventive marketing strategy.

“The world is changing, and with the aid of technology and easy communications, artists can grow their business and control the sales of their art,” she said. There is no longer a disconnect between business and art.”

Of course, in the process of creating this new way of connecting art lovers and artists, Ms. Rea has expanded her vision beyond vineyards to gardens and other entities.

She has also developed a new kind of “art salon” where art and wine are combined to reach a variety of patrons from individuals, corporations to charities. All have the same direction in mind, coupling art lovers with a way to get up close and personal with an artist.

“I found that people love to be involved in the creative process, whether it is by attending cooking schools or watching new singing talent perform on television,’’ explained Ms. Rea. Artist Rea also thought that likewise many people find it difficult to form a personal relationship with an artist whose work they admire.

So Ms. Rea, who has been featured on HGTV, in Fortune and Wine Enthusiast magazines, set her creative juices on a search for a way to bring this desire to fruition.

During our discussion, Ms. Rea related her own path to enlightenment as series of a steps and missteps in the corporate world. One past step did encourage her vision.

“I was working with a focus group on the marketing of the Saturn car, when I questioned why the GM Automobile Group couldn’t bring out an auto with a fixed price, so that customers, especially women, wouldn’t have to haggle over a car’s price.

The Saturn car did debut as a fixed-priced vehicle and enjoyed many years of excellent sales.  So that aspect of past experience was helpful in launching Ann Rea’s Experience of Art.

The simplicity of how it works makes the journey even more special for everyone involved.

For Ann Rea working and living in San Francisco made traveling to the fabulous Northern California wine country of Sonoma and Napa valleys readily accessible. The unusual sun-light of the area infused the landscapes with breathtaking views. So utilizing the beautiful vineyards of the state as the basis, her first project was born

Once a patron connection was made, Ann would visit the vineyard with patron(s) on several occasions and at different times of day.

She would then go back to her studio and paint studies of those visits. Sometimes the studies were just in sepia. She would also keep a diary of her work which her patrons could follow online.

“After all,’’ said Ann laughingly, “who doesn’t like reading someone’s diary?”

 Artist Rea’s visions of those visits to the vineyards are sometimes serene, sometimes sophisticated, sometimes hip and free form and sometimes all of the above at once.

She draws on the tradition of the French impressionists and the influences of her mentor, contemporary painter Wayne Thiebaud.

“The equation rests on pairing my client’s view of the setting to mine. They (the clients) generally choose their art to be reflective of their lives and interests. Therefore, “I am offering them an autobiographical insight into their spirit. The painting, or paintings, I create is a summary statement of who they are and how they focus their energies.””

The pairing of the art and wine is actually about the vineyards and the sense of place they provide for many people.

Once the studies are complete the collectors (patrons) get to choose which painting(s) Ms. Rea will reinterpret on a larger custom-sized canvas.

In one commission for a couple who owned a vineyard, Ms. Rea created four custom-sized monochrome sepia oil paintings on wood panels. “These sepia panels are the initial part of painting where I define light and shadow before I layer on color,’’ said Ms. Rea.

In fact, artist Rea likes to show the color laying process. “My colors are heavy (she uses oil and linseed) and they take a long-time to dry.’

“Since sometimes my final painting is used to celebrate a special occasion, such as birthday, wedding, anniversary or as a thank you gift for a business associate, it is unveiled at some sort of celebration.

“I love being able to present the final work in this manner,’’ said Ms. Rea, “I love to see the reaction the recipient experiences upon receiving the gift.”

Along with the painting, Ann Rea‘s produces a beautiful coffee table size book which enables her patrons to see the whole painting experience from start to finish.

For the remainder of this year, Ann Rea’s four sepia oil paintings, a copy of the book produced about this series and video are on display in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto, California.

For more information or to contact Ms. Rea, www.annrea.com or email: annrea@annrea.com

Diane Siskin

dianesiskin@mediacombb.net


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