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Noah Buchanan - The Gifts Hidden in the Shadows

The BoldBrush Show: Episode #63

Show Notes:

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For today's episode, we sat down with Noah Buchanan, a large scale realist narrative painter with a deep love for the old masters, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell. We discuss his personal hero's journey as an artist, the importance of looking within and to your past to rediscover your voice as an artist, why storytelling not only helps connect you with your buyers but also with a piece of humanity, and the challenges that many realist painters face in the business side of art. Finally we discuss the "Big Stories" exhibition that Noah helped curate, as well as his online classes and workshops!

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Noah Buchanan: 0:00

But there's an important moment to stop being the fledgling and really start to soar high. You know, like that was the goal is I wanted to soar way up there in the clouds if we're using a bird analogy leaving the nest. And that can be scary too, because you wonder, Am I going to stop selling, or the galleries gonna start to kind of not want to show my work because they're bigger and they don't, they might be weird. They might be scary. They might. They might embrace grotesque theme, gallery start to go about that, you know, that's the challenge that the artists can face as they start to leave that fledgling stage of being an artist and new artist and start to move into their more mid career maybe Welcome

Laura Arango Baier: 0:45

to the BoldBrush show, where we believe that fortune favors the bold brush. My name is Arango Baier. And I'm your host. For those of you who are new to the podcast. We're a podcast that covers art marketing techniques, and all sorts of business tips specifically to help artists learn to better sell their work. We interview artists at all stages of their careers, as well as others who are in careers tied to the art world in order to hear their advice and insight. For today's episode, we sat down with Noah Buchanan, a large scale realist narrative painter with a deep love for the old masters, Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. We discuss his personal hero's journey as an artist, the importance of looking within and to your past to rediscover your voice as an artist, why storytelling not only helps connect you with your buyers, but also the peace of humanity, are the challenges the many realist painters face on the business side of art. Finally, we discuss the big stories exhibition that Noah helped curate, as well as his online classes and workshops. But welcome, Noah to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?

Noah Buchanan: 1:47

Thanks, Laura. I'm great. It's really exciting to be here. And you guys, it's um, it's always a pleasure to talk with other talented painters like yourself. So thank you for having me.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:58

I appreciate that. Thank you so much. And, you know, you two kudos, you've got some massive, you know, you're doing the narrative, like, incredible huge paintings that of course, a lot of us in the narrative communities can only dream of doing, especially because, you know, when you're doing big paintings, you need a lot of space, which is kind of hard to come by sometimes when you're just starting out. So, yeah, you are goals.

Noah Buchanan: 2:28

Thank you. Thank you,

Laura Arango Baier: 2:29

you're welcome. And speaking of, I'm also really excited to have you because I think we have a sort of kindred spirit connection, because I'm also a huge, huge fan of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, and you know how to the light and shadow aspects and the archetypes and especially because, you know, when you are a narrative painter, those are very key important figures to look into when you want to tell a story, and you want to convey to a public that mostly has disconnected itself from the stories that have lasted generations. I feel like today, people don't connect as much with, I guess, stories that have been told again, and again and again. My opinion, of course, but I do sense there's been a shift. And now the storytelling has mostly been movies, which we will also talk about. But first, do you mind giving us a little bit about you who you are what you do?

Noah Buchanan: 3:24

Yeah, so I, I, you know, I've been drawing, I think, since I was five years old, maybe. And so it's drawing and painting has always been a part of my life. And has always been really a big part of my identity. You know, from the time I was a young child, I always kind of thought of myself as an artist, and or certainly my peers did, and maybe they applied it to me. But I continued to be really serious about drawing and painting all the way up through high school. And then into art school, I went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and in Philadelphia. Later, I went to graduate school, the New York Academy of Art wasn't I wasn't really intending to go into teaching necessarily, but I found out in graduate school that I had a real knack for doing it, because a lot of my peers would come to me for, you know, for advice or help, they'd asked me for critiques. They'd asked if they could, you know, hang out in my studio and work on an assignment together. And I found myself in the role of of teaching and a lot and and, you know, I started hearing quite a lot that you know, you're really good teacher, and I thought, well, this would be a great way to support myself as a painter, but also give back and I just really all along the way, I'm having been a student and art student for for having been a star student for many years. I found that I really admired those teachers of mine, and I looked at the model of their life, where they were teaching a couple days a week, but then they were still painting really intensely, making paintings and having solo exhibitions. And I really liked that model, I really admired it. And I saw that that could be a path for myself. So I, as soon as I got out of graduate school at the New York Academy, I moved back to California. And I started this dual practice of being a painter and a professor, teacher, instructor, whatever you want to call it, of painting and drawing. And my life has been pretty consistent in that regard. For the past 20 years, I've been called a professor, you know, an instructor, a teacher, but also an exhibiting painter. And I like I like to balance you know, that's really come to define who I am as an artist. I feel like as painters, we we are always, we are always kind of in the role of being students, and then also finding ourselves in the role of being teachers. So that's kind of me in a nutshell. That's that covers, you know, what, the first 40 years of my life there, so? Wow. Yeah, yeah, so the quick answer.

Laura Arango Baier: 6:23

Nice. Yeah. Well, um, I think it's a great answer, because I think it touches on something that not a lot of people consider. And that is, how teaching is, it can really change. Not necessarily change, but can help you grow a lot faster, especially if you already have a knack for it, right? Because when you teach something, you obviously have to know your subject twice as well than what you normally would. So I think for sure, if there's anyone out there who's hitting on teaching as an as a as an artist, oh, you're missing out?

Noah Buchanan: 6:58

Yeah, it really helps. That you're spot on with that you really, you have to look way far ahead of any given lesson that you're teaching, you're really have to know, you have to be proficient with the content further, much further down the road. You know, like, if you're teaching a, b and c, you have to be working on elemental PQ yourself. And it's, you're right, it forces you to look deeper into your, your subject, your your, your career material, you know,

Laura Arango Baier: 7:28

yeah, yeah. And I think there's also this weird misconception about teaching artists aren't selling artists because of the holy those who can't do teach, which, obviously, it's a lie. I have not met a single at least on the podcast, every guest I've had, has taught at least once has done workshops has done yeah, maybe online courses like there's, it's and they're all doing great. And they're all selling so I've seen more proof of the opposite where Yeah, actually great artists

Noah Buchanan: 7:59

teach. Absolutely it it goes back centuries. I mean, because you know, we look at all the great masters had students. In many cases, we're aware of who their students are and who they became, you know, you could look at the Italian Renaissance when you had Andrea Del Sarto brought in Pontormo, Pontormo, Bryden Bronzino. So I mean, these are major names. It's not like they were students that were just forgotten. But I mean, you know, even looking at some of the greatest figure painters now, like Odd Nerdrum, who's very much in in has a big role in teaching in his own way. And, and of course, is, you know, a legend as a painter himself. So it goes on and on, I think all of my favorite painters have, have or have had students. Yeah, so I feel I feel good about it. i Yeah. And I do the same. I go around talking to fledgling artists coming out of art school, and especially if they if they're about to obtain a master's degree, I say, you know, put that degree to work for you, you know, and let it create a salary that will support your painting career, you know? Yeah, I think it's really wise.

Laura Arango Baier: 9:13

Yeah, even if you know, even for, you know, an artist that, for example, like me who came out of an atelier, not necessarily like a college, there are still schools that will take in, you know, a teacher who maybe doesn't have a master's degree. Just putting it out there for anyone who's listening who's like, oh, no, I can't do it. It's like, no, yes, you can. You can. I agree. Yeah. And, in your nutshell, by the way, which is funny, I was actually going to ask you what your hero's journey was as an artist, but if you want to say that, you know, it's when you started painting at five, then we could say it's,

Noah Buchanan: 9:51

yeah, well, I think the hero's journey for me started. I was thinking about that and I feel Like it somewhere around the age of 16, I, a lot of things started falling into place for me, I mean important things about identity and who I was, and who people saw me as I think that a lot of the artwork I was making as a teenager, they had themes to do with, they were themes that had to do with searching, journey, you know, going on a journey, finding some last secret, you know, and then of course, these I'm just making these works as a kid, you know, so they weren't like great artworks or anything, but they meant a lot to me at the time. And I think that going through that phase of, of just, you know, who is my identity, learning that it is to be an artist. And and of course, that's just the beginning of the journey, it continued on and on the act of finding oneself through the pathway of being an artist. And that includes not just how you're looked at in the world, by your immediate peers, and friends and family. And then later, you know, bigger audiences of people. But it also includes what your work is about. And that's, that's, I think, for every artist, maybe that is, the biggest aspect of their hero's journey is, there's all these years of trials and tribulations that have to do with learning skill and technique to do the kind of work you want to do. But then, once you have that, the big question, the big, you know, the big Minotaur in the labyrinth that's facing you is what do I paint? What's my subject matter? What are my themes? What am I saying? Do my artwork, I mean, that is that is a shadow, you know, a monster, you know, dark, inner? What's the word, an antagonist that we all have to face, as artists in grappling with? What are we going to do and say and depict in our artwork, you know? So that was, you know, that was, for me, the big a big part of the hero's journey. I think that connecting it to Joseph Campbell's idea of the hero's journey. Also, for me around age 16. While I even going back further, I mean, I had grown up with Star Wars, from when it first came out. And I you know, I'm Sam bringing in Star Wars because it has a strong affiliation with Joseph Campbell, you know, who actually analyzed it in terms of the classical model of the hero's journey from Greek and Roman mythology. I grew up with Star Wars, and I was born in 1976. So let me my first memories, were looking at the myth of Star Wars. And it stayed really strong with me the whole the whole idea of the mythos of Star Wars and appealed to me as a little kid as a teenager. And I still love it, you know, but I think when I was a teenager, you know, I started to really, I realized that one of the reasons why Star Wars appealed to me so much, even starting at the little tiny toddler age, were the themes of the hero's journey, you know, and, and I really wanted that to, I wanted the flavor of that, you know, in a broader sense, to inhabit my work, you know, even if I wasn't called, I wasn't cognizant of that, when I was 16. But I became more so as you know, they went through college, and I realized that it wasn't just this childhood interest in you know, something that's cool with special effects and, and cinema, but it, it had a much bigger implications about, about psychology and mythology and philosophy. And, you know, and of course, of course, it really just, it's fun and entertaining, but it points the way to, to bigger historical things as well. So that was a big part of the process, you know, just to reveal a little bit of my nerd side, you know, in, in my love for Star Wars, but, you know, it's important. I think it's important that we, that we, I think it's important for all artists to really look with seriousness at the things that excited you when you were young, and all along the way and going back to your roots in your childhood, especially things that stuck with you in strong visual ways. You know, and I think a lot of these things might be TV shows and movies, but they might just be family photographs that you grew up with. Or it could be the cover of an album, or images inside of the liner notes of an album that you love when you Are 1216 21 and the these things that sort of start to populate your visual memory, I think it's really important for artists at every stage of their development to go back and look at those things and say, why did that stick with me? You know, why? Why did that leave such an impact? And if you can figure that out, I think that's a big part of the of our hero's journey and unraveling what our subject matter is and what our content is, and why why do we want to say these things? Why do we want to depict certain things like that? Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 15:38

yes. And I think the, you're touching on one of the fundamental things, which is, you know, I, density, right, which you had mentioned, how we when you were 16, you know, Dad, I mean, I feel like, all adolescence, we all go through that, who am I, ah, in our in our teens. But what's funny is, you know, especially when you're an artist, it is even more important, as I mean, in any form of arts, right, be it acting, the, you know, music, but in all the arts, especially for a creative career, really digging deep into the why, and the Who am I right? And that's actually one of my favorite questions to ask myself all the time. Because I've been reading a lot of books that are more like Eastern philosophy, and the question of who am I is something that is, so it's like, it's, it's such a big part of, especially Buddhism, for example. Because there really is a lot of unraveling that has to be done in order to, you know, do what Jung would call shadow work, right, which is like trauma healing, and you know, disconnecting yourself from aspects of yourself that have gone rampant and are unconsciously destroying your life, right? So, yeah, so fundamental for being a creative person to figure out what is holding me back. Because truly, it's so funny with my students, I have actually told them to where when you're in front of a canvas, and you're gonna paint you will be facing your demons. And I don't mean, the demons in the canvas, I mean, the demons in your head that are going to come out as you tried to create, and I think, you know, you really, you really touched on that, which of course, that that hit a vital point, a special point for me, because it's, it really is so important to look back. Always look back to that child self and be like, who was stopping you? And how do we allow this child self to come back out again, without fear? Because that's, oh, that's, that's really cool. I mean, it's like a hero when when the hero returns home, after learning their lessons, and they have to revisit that aspect of themselves. Yeah, very key. Very, very key.

Noah Buchanan: 18:02

That's important word for an artist for sure. Yeah. Yeah, I think that and that Joseph Campbell. Talked about the, you know, Theseus and the Minotaur story. And the very simple, elegant, quote, I can't remember. But well, it's not so short. But it is just a bit is that, you know, when we travel into the labyrinth, which is, you know, emblematic of delving into our own inner psyche, that ultimately, when we find the, the monster at the core of the labyrinth that we're supposed to face as our enemy, we find out it's really just ourselves, you know, and that and, and that's what's waiting for us and the act of confronting that and acknowledging that and accepting that, you know, that sort of unravels the whole problem right there. You know, if then we would find the answers there. And there's also I think, a very similar there's a similar metaphor in in an in a I grew up when I was young, I read Ursula kala glands, Wizard of Earthsea series. And and, you know, there's a very, there's a very sort of archetypal moment Cambell Lee and moment where, you know, the, the protagonist of the story is running through the whole novel to escape the shadow that's chasing a bit he himself unleashed. And, and, you know, spends most of the novel trying to get away from it. But then, the moment he just stops and faces it, it's, you know, it undone the whole problem. And I always loved that. That was a very profound moment in that story, and I think that fits in the Camellia and ideas of shadow of the hero's journey, but also, the union's shadow theory. work because his shadow theory is Shadow Work fits that as well, too. So yeah, I think if I think about those two scholars, historians, philosophers very much, psychologists, I guess, with Jung, but those two concepts are really important for me the union, Shadow theory, and Joseph Campbell's hero's journey. Yeah, big, big important things for me in terms of figuring out my content on the canvas, but then also, you feel it in yourself to why am I doing this? You know, and you feel your you feel like you're doing that work? And that you're on that journey? I think. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 20:39

yeah. And I love that book. By the way, I also read it, I think about it, you know, every so often, I just remember, this wizard who has amazing power, creates a shadow version of himself runs away for years and years. And then oh, you know what, I should just face it, and then everything's okay. Yeah. Yeah, I think, a lot important. Yeah, it is. Yeah. And then to nerd out just a little bit, there is actually a movie that also talks about or, you know, there is that self identification of, you know, the, the protagonist and the real enemy, which is obviously himself or seeing the truth behind who they really are. And that is actually in the Neverending Story, I don't know if you watched it, where a true he's going through the snow and the ice and he sees a mirror. And he actually sees the truth in the mirror, which is that he is actually a character in a book. But it doesn't really hit him. Which that immediately when you said the mind guitar being you know, the main character, I just imagined that scene because it's stuck with me, because that's one of the really stuck with

Noah Buchanan: 21:46

Oh, yeah, I know, a very too well, and it, that's, yeah, that's a pivotal, iconic moment, I think, in in any kind of hero's journey, tradition. And then, of course, he you know, there's the, he confronts the monster that's been chasing him the wall. And, and, you know, and sort of willing to, in the act of slaying the wolf he's willing to die himself to, you know, and sort of become one with his enemies. Like, you know, he says, like, rather die fighting and, and they kind of embrace each other. And there's this willingness to just become one with your shadow, even if it destroys you in that, in that sense, in that example, but, you know, he survives, of course, and he comes out, he comes out, you know, renewed after that. So, yeah, I think the shadow of the shadow work for the artist, and I think, for me, my own particular experience with with, with young shadow work is that it's been an interesting experience, because when I started out, leaving art school and figuring out what my paintings were going to be like, and, and what subject matter and how was I going to deal with form and light, I was really, I was very much driven by Caravaggio's use of light and shadow. And, you know, which is which comes from a renaissance Baroque treatment of light and shadow, which is really quite simple that light is divine. And shadow is just a void, you know, or we could you can say evil, or the lack of God, or the dark side of, of human existence. And so a lot of my paintings, and even still to this day, I think, I try to, I try to work with that car by just understanding of light and shadow where everything good and interesting as in the light, the colors in the lights, the detail the form. The thicker, more robust paint is in the light, and then the shadows are all offset there, the void, the earth tone, you know, selecting color, their transparent, sort of thinner areas of the painting. I love that. But then, more recently, as you know, as I thought more about what Jung has to say about the shadow, and what does that mean for artists. And I mean, the gist of Young's shadow principle is that the more we look into our shadows, we find really important lessons for our ourselves to learn about ourselves. And I thought, what does that mean about me as a painter, if I'm only looking at what's in the light, and it's, you know, it's changing the way that I paint now, where I still come at it from this very, very historical solution. That light is The brilliant divine thing. And shadow is this absence. But I find that the young shadow theory is causing me to embrace painting in different ways that there is a lot to be shown in the shadow, and that we need to look into it and delve into it. And does that mean that I need to depict it more than in the painting? Does that mean that I need to start thinking about different systems of light, because I've always worked with the car by just light where it's a super strong, concentrated narrow beam of light, whether that's from a portal in the window, or if it's, you know, it's a light bulb. I've always created that kind of singular light source light Stark. You know, like Caravaggio's paintings look like we're just seeing something happening. That's lit up by a flash of lightning in the black space, you know, and that's, that's exciting. But I'm starting to think more and more as a painter these days that I want to investigate other lighting systems, you know, like, I have a painting infectiously behind me on that on the easel. But the figures are, well, there's one figure who's brightly illuminated. And there's other figures that are in the shadows, like they're literally inside the shadows. And I've never, I've never painted that before, I've never fully resolved form in a painting that's inside of the shadow. And I think that I'm doing that now. Because, you know, the more I think about Young's shadow theory, the more I feel like that is important to work with. And I think this also spills forward into our content that we create, and the content that we choose for ourselves, because it totally ties in to young shadow theory, where if we say, This is what I paint, like, I paint this, this, and this, these are my stories. And then someone would say some of it, well, why don't you paint this and this, he'd say, I don't I don't do that. Well, right there, when you say I don't do that, you just put that in the bag. Young as you know, an analogy of the bag, you know, or at least a lot of union psychologists have the the the metaphor of the bag to explain his shadow concept, you know, we've got the sack this bag with us. And from the time we're fine, we start putting things in the sack, you know, like, not supposed to hit my brother, okay, I'll put that in the sack. I'm not supposed to hoard the toys to myself, Okay, I'll put that in the sack. But then later on things like, you know, it might have been great grade school, we might think, well, I don't wear those kinds of sneakers, I wear these kinds of sneakers. So that goes in the sack, you know, and like later in college, like, oh, I don't cut my hair like that, you know, I cut my hair like this, because I have this style, I don't have that doll. So that thing or that doll that I don't have that goes in that sack. And all those things are now in your shadow. And they're gonna haunt you the rest of your life. And so if I go around saying, Oh, I paint these kinds of subject matters. I don't paint those ones over there. That's not me. Well, now that's in my shadow. And I, you know, it's a problem. It's something that we have to constantly look at. And, you know, if we go around, painting a certain way, the things that we're not painting, we have to not, we have to not ignore those things. So I find that young shadow theory has affected me both in literal ways in terms of thinking about light and shadow as a painter, but also, in terms of how I think about content. And what the what the content is I choose for myself, I'm constantly questioning now and is it something that I'm that I'm supposed to be doing? Because it's, you know, it's out here in my psyche? You know, in my stuff in my conscious psyche? Or what about all the stuff that's in my subconscious that I've subverted that's where that's really where the haunting, fermented rich feelings actually are. And I don't want to I don't want to lose touch with that, because that's where the gold is, as they say, and union traditions, I mean, it's really gold, if you can pull what's out of the shadow in a healthy way, of course, you know, I mean, like, when we're, you know, the first lesson we learn when we're three and five is don't hit your sibling, you know, don't hit your brother or your sister. Well, that's good. I mean, he should be in the sack, and we should stay there. But there's a lot of stuff later. Like I said, you know, I don't cut my hair like this. I don't wear that kind of shirt. Some of that stuff is you know, if we stick with it, we're not really discovering who our true selves are. And then it comes out in advertently later, you know, it comes out and it's gonna emerge, you know, it will emerge and you know, who you pick as your friend than who you pick as your spouse and so forth. So anyway, that goes that goes down a rabbit hole tunnel.

Laura Arango Baier: 29:50

Yeah, it does, but it's it's a great rabbit hole, though. And I've gone down it quite often. Because you know, yeah, it's it's like you're saying, right, it's like instead of being like, I don't do that. It's like, Why? Why don't I do that? Why don't I explore this thing that creates this reaction? And he's like, Why do I even because, you know, there's like half of the stuff that's happening around you half of the things that you see, it's like, I don't care. But what about those things that have that little trigger? Whether it's a good one or a bad one, right? That's right. You know, there's like, there's triggers. And I read somewhere online that people are calling like, the good ones glimmers where it's like, I really love how this painting is speaking to me, I really love how the colors are, are moving in this image, right? That's like a glimmer, that's like, okay, that's something to also explore that, you know, could have been in the shadows as well. Yeah. And the other great point that you make is how the shadow actually has gifts. And we were talking about this before we went on, on the podcast, how the shadow has these gifts, that helps you it's almost like a breadcrumb trail. Which, when you are vulnerable to yourself, because obviously, you know, hard to do that with strangers. But when you are, you're vulnerable with yourself and you face yourself in that, you know, I on my own enemy type of way. It is, it really is. It can be a place full of compassion, that leads you to an even deeper level of understanding of yourself, and therefore, a better understanding of why you even do what you do as an artist which cool. Yeah, I think we could even do another episode just talking about this subject because it is so fundamental to the creative practice. Um, but I did want to ask you, since we're talking about narrative and young and the hero's journey, I wanted to ask you, how you approach storytelling in your art? And if there are any recurring mythological elements that you frequently explore?

Noah Buchanan: 31:58

Yeah, that's a great question. I think, for me, because I love the narrative in, in, in, in traditional painting, realism, representational painting, whatever you want to call it. That's always been my biggest inspiration. You know, even just from looking at storybooks and illustrations as a child and later reading all of the classics that were illustrated by NC why. So I have a strong love for the narrative. But I think traditional illustrators, like NC Wyeth, like Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, who I, who I regard as masters, you know, they, I think, the role of illustrators to give the story in a more straightforward way. But they don't always do it that way. I mean, sometimes they just depict the, they illustrate the story being told, you know, because that's their role, their illustrator, their image accompanies a novel, or a story of some kind. I like it. For me, I like it when there's a piece of the narrative is there. But there's also a mystery. We waiting to be investigated or solved by the viewer. Or maybe it's never solved, maybe they maybe it leaves them with the feeling of mystery, I think that's important to leave the viewer with, with either a mild or strong dose of mystery to the work, even if the painter has a specific intention in mind and what they're doing and what their what narrative they're telling. That's where my interest in narrative artwork falls, I think I think a lot about dreams and how dreams are narratives of types. But dreams are a fascinating narrative, because they can, they can take you know, a sudden left turn or they can have multiple outcomes or the narrative can change but and yet still feel cohesive with it's an initial story. I mean, you know, dreams are can be wild and crazy and, and a lot of people just count them you know, but I think a lot of artists look at their dreams very seriously. So for me, when I make narrative paintings, I think about dreams a lot because something that I think is true. something I feel is true about dreams is that it makes sense that this is true to me because it's it's happening in your mind, happening in your brain when you have a dream. Everything that happens in that dream, everybody that you encounter and interact with is really just you wearing you know, a disguise or a mask or a different outfit or cloaked in you know, the skins of another animal or monster and so when we make a painting Multiple figure narrative painting, we're really tapping into that flavor of a dream or playing all of these roles, you know, and we're looking at all these different aspects of our own persona. And then we're asking our viewer to do the same, of course, because I don't think narrative painting is about the painter themselves. It shouldn't be. I don't think narrative painting, you know, I think we don't want to create the impression that an artist is really just narcissistic and completely engaged in their own neuroses, you know, I think it's important for an artist to, to work with all of these themes and traditions, that the union one can Valley and one, but to realize that there is a duty when making narrative art to always pull the audience in to make this can make it powerful for them, you know, to say, well, let's say this painting embraces or grapples with issues of abandonment, or, or rejection and some way or, you know, maybe that leads into topics of isolation. It's important for the artists to say, you know, even though they've experienced that themselves in their own life, to not make it a soap opera painting about the way the exact way in which they've experienced it, but to really zoom out in the narrative and say, How can I deal with themes of rejection, isolation, abandonment, I'm just picking ones at random, right, big human themes that will pull in the whole audience, every one that's going to look at this can find a way in, to resonate with what's going on in the story in the painting, or the characters and what they're doing in the painting to find a way to see themselves in the painting. I think, for me, narrative artworks. Really, they they have that they have that what's the word, that requirement that they need that, that accountability, to speak to the audience to pull in the audience. And, you know, we don't need to give them a fully scripted version of what's happening in the painting I miss a mysterious version of what's happening is really better. You know, because it does it, it just, it just tickles human intrigue more, but it also might leave openings or seats in the audience, for the audience to feel for the individual viewer to feel like they can now inhabit the you know, and be part of the audience be part of the, the, or, or really take part in the performance of what's happening. feel like they're in there. I hope, I hope and strive for those fillings in my painting. I'm not saying that I can do that, or that I always do that. I think I do it sometimes when I'm lucky. But I always think about it. And and that's something I want to have happen in my paintings. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 38:17

yeah, that's a great goal. And I liked the point that you make about the viewer, being you know, the person who didn't make it being the, you know, the part that completes the cycle of painting. Because of course, we don't, yeah, to an extent we paint for ourselves. But that doesn't mean that what we're painting exists in a void, right? There are people out there who will resonate with it heavily. Even if they weren't the ones who created it. I mean, it's the same reason we all fall in love with movies, like Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter, because, you know, the touches something for some people, and Star Wars as well, for that matter. Yeah, um, and I really wanted to know, to in your personal hero's journey, what was it like, for you to go from student to full fledged, you know, artists living from their work? What was that like? And do you have any advice for someone looking to do the same?

Noah Buchanan: 39:15

Yeah, sure. That's a good question. And I, I hear it a lot, you know, because especially from our students move leaving school. The big question is, how am I going to do all kinds of things? How am I going to support myself? How am I going to get my work out there? That's a big one. And, of course, what we've been talking about, you know, what should I paint sometimes? That is a big question for somebody, you know, they they have acquired all this skill and their training and then what have they paint and, and sometimes there's not a lot of room in there for variation to to paint and be unique, you know, and stand out from your peers in a special way. So um, For me, I left, I left graduate school and I started to teach right away. And the income that that brought in, really bought me time in the studio to start to explore. And not all of it is very glorious. Like I'll say, my first years out of grad school, I really wanted to secure a gallery and to have a relationship with a gallery and to have the gallery like me, and be in support of my work. And so I found that what was sort of safe and sanctioned by a lot of galleries was to paint still life. And I don't think there's any shame in painting still life at all. And I and I, honestly, I love painting still life. And I did so for many years, and I think I'm really good at it. I did a lot of still life, when I first got out of graduate school, this is I'm getting into the answer here. And I would, I would show those in galleries and they would sell. Um, I think that painting still life for a gallery is a great way to really push yourself in your, your skills, your chops, your, the technical aspects of your painting, because you can try out all kinds of subject matter. I mean, of course, you know, you start with bowls of fruit, but you might find yourself painting really challenging things, you know, like a big tangle of branches, or something or drapery, that's, you know, knotted and tangled and convoluted with other things wrapped up in it. And you can really challenge yourself with all the different kinds of subject matter that can be painted. And, and test yourself in that regard. And of course, you have a lot of time and space and privacy to do that when you pain, still life, you can take all the time, you want to sit in front of that still life table, and no one's looking over your shoulder. There's no model waiting to take a break or you know, to be paid, and so forth. So still life was a good friend of mine as an early painter, and I think that that ended up spilling out into painting interiors, you know, painting hallways and rooms and looking through doorways into the kitchens with beautiful light and space. And there's a wonderful tradition of interiors where there are no figures, and yet they're full of mood and feeling. And they really tested the painters ability to paint light and space and perspective and atmosphere. I did a lot of interiors, you know, and somewhere along the way, I think I found stability. You know, I think fairly early on, I found stability and a combination of teaching and painting still life. I will say that I knew the whole time I was really pleasing the gallery I showed with John penance gallery in San Francisco for 14 years. And John was a wonderful dealer. He's still alive. But he's retired now in his 80s and wonderful support and dealer and had an incredible gallery in San Francisco full of a lot of contemporary realists that are still working. And it was a wonderful community too. But John really wanted me to paint a lot of still life. And he would often tell his newer painters that were just joining the stable of artists at the gallery, he'd say, I want you to paint me a show of 30 still lifes and they can be small, but I want I want them you know, all to be very cohesive, similar lightings. I want you to frame them all the same way. And we'll give you your first solo show. And I think that was a formula that worked for a lot of painters, I think they they were able to kind of enter the scene with something that seemed really well unified and coordinated in its appearance. A lot of it would sell and that would sound good to the world and this painters selling. Um, but I, you know, pretty quickly after doing that, I felt that this is not what I dreamed for myself, you know, what did I dream about doing? And of course, you know, I looked up I thought about painters that really excited me and those were Velazquez and Caravaggio, and Odd Nerdrum. And min Bo Bartlett and Vincent DESA. Dario, these were painters that I saw that there were that were doing large paintings with multiple figures that had a narrative of some kind. And that's what really made me go through all the training and the study and I thought that I'm going to do that one day. I think it's important for artists to call to call it when they feel like they kind of have Have that transitional period out of school solidified what kind of techniques they use, how they paint what their paintings kind of look like, the palette they use? Are they direct painters? Are they indirect painters to me, you know, do they just do mostly alla prima, because they like to do a lot of glazing, they have to figure that stuff out. But I think that can be done in that sort of fledgling period, when you leave the nest of the art school, you know, it's and that's why still life is a great thing. But there, there is an important moment to stop being in the fledgling and really start to soar high, you know, like that was the goal is I wanted to soar way up there in the clouds of freezing a bird analogy leaving the nest. And that can be scary, too, because you wonder, Am I going to stop selling, or the gallery's gonna start to kind of not want to show my work because they're bigger, and they don't, they might be weird, they might be scary, they might, they might embrace grotesque theme, gallery start to go about that, you know, that's the challenge that the artists can face as they start to leave that fledgling stage of being an artist and new artists and start to move into their more mid career, maybe they might find that if they're being true to themselves and the artwork, they want to make that really what inspired them in the first place, they might also find it's not easy to sell or to show, and there's a trade off there. And and hopefully, you you've got the stability, financially, that maybe you can afford not to sell a little bit while your work goes through this, this new, out of coming out of a cocoon phase, where you're really going to be the more mature painter that you will become. And there's big trade offs. Because while you're, you're really nurturing your dream and your vision. And you're following that passion that you always saw for yourself, you might also be suffering in other ways, you know, all the things I mentioned, not telling galleries, maybe treating you with a little bit of an aversion because your work is big and takes up a lot of wall space. If you make big paintings to take up a lot of wall space, galleries, I don't blame them, they're not really gonna like that, because they have very expensive rents to pay, you know, I can sympathize with a gallery in New York City, or San Francisco or Los Angeles, they have to have a space in a very affluent part of town with a lot of traffic to that people will see the work, they need to be available to clients that have a lot of money, that are interested in collecting artwork, they have very challenging rents, you know, if we could see those figures, they would kind of be horrified. And then when you present them with the idea of showing a large, challenging painting of yours that has, you know, things that are not necessarily pleasant or happy to put on your wall, and that take up the entire wall of that room in the gallery, they're gonna sort of be nervous, because there goes their rent for the month. You know, whereas if you give them 30 still lives, they're pretty happy. Because even if they sell 10 Of those, then they're okay, they're in good shape. So that's the, that's the, that is some tricky territory for the fledgling artists becoming the mature painter, to have to navigate. And that's kind of maybe that's where I find myself nowadays, you know, it's, it's embracing the work that I really wanted to do, and doing it, and feeling good about that. But understanding that it's gonna be harder to show my work because of its size with these paintings behind me are, are much more moderately sized. They're like, around 40 inches square ish, you know, or in that than that in that size range. But, you know, I just completed a painting that's nine feet tall by seven feet wide. And that's, that's hard to exhibit, you know, and it's also hard to find a home for it that even if I've found the past couple paintings I've done that have been that scale. A lot of people do want them. But the reality is they can't fit them in their houses or apartments. Or even if they can, this has been a real true liberal Heartbreaker, even if they can fit them in their apartments. If let's say you have an affluent collector in New York City that wants to own your large painting, and they can fit it in their apartment. They live in, you know, an older, three more Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan and there actually is no freight elevator. And the stairwells up into the building are tiny, you know, and they can barely fit their couches up into their buildings. And they realized that after taking some measurements, this has happened to myself and a couple of my colleagues after taking some measurements, they realize the painting won't fit up the stairwell, and there is no elevator to fit it in, and they just can't have the purchase. So that's a challenge, you know, we want to make these big exciting paintings that we see on the walls in the Met in the Prado, we want to do that work. But it doesn't always fit. Simply, it doesn't fit a very close friend of mine, and a painter I admire, just did a really large painting in New York, and, and she had a buyer for it. And the buyer really found out that it was, you know, it's an inch or two inches too wide to fit between the windows and the apartment. And so they declined the sale. So, you know, this is something, I think for us to think about is we want to do these big exciting paintings, a lot of us, but we also need to, like figure out what how big do I can I go? How big can I go? And it'll still fit into an apartment or a house or up a stairwell or up an elevator that's maybe not afraid elevator? You know, we kind of have to think about some of these questions, and they're not always fun. I mean, when we look at Odd Nerdrum his paintings, he doesn't worry about that. I mean, he pays ginormous paintings. And he figures it out later.

Laura Arango Baier: 51:19

Yeah. And in the end, he doesn't really do it for anyone else. But you know, obviously himself, which is, you know, first and foremost. And he does have selectors. I mean, there is I forgot to maybe it's called The Seven Bridges up in like upstate New York, Connecticut. Yeah. Oh, Connecticut. There you go. It's like wait, like, above, I remember I really wanted to visit because, you know, it's this huge, Odd Nerdrum paintings, and they're all just hanging in one place. It's like, the only other place you'll ever see that is at Odd Nerdrum studio. So it's, if anyone's out there, I definitely recommend checking it out. But I agree. Yeah. And you know what, but like, what if you can, like unstretched the painting and then re stretch it? Yeah, in that person's house.

Noah Buchanan: 52:06

I think that's something that that is a very good point. And I think painters need to be prepared to do that, that offering to bond stretch and re stretch. I think I haven't done that enough. And I think I have a real aversion to re stretching paintings. And I should really just get over it. You know, and I've, I've a lot of my heroes, you know, I think everyone says it's not something you really want to do. But you do it if you have to is on the stretcher painting, rolling and re stretching on location, whether it's because of shipping logistics for or just fitting it into a person's apartment. I think painters should be prepared to stretch and unstretched and re stretch paintings to learn how to do that well, in a way that doesn't damage the painting. It's tricky. I mean, I think the stretch of paint or restructure painting that's been painted and unstretched. To do it, well, that doesn't damage the painting, I mean, you need a big space to do it, you need a huge warehouse with lots of room around, you can't be in a confined room, you need a lot of table space to get that painting elevated. That painting that table needs to be, you know, a really smooth, clean table without any you know, no nails sticking out of it or anything like that. So you do need some resources to really stretch and do it. Well. You know, it's not always so straightforward. And then you know, really stretching it inside of an apartment. And to do it well, where the canvas is really taut and tight and not, you know, misaligned with it stretcher bars. That's that, really, I have nightmares about that, you know, I really do, I really don't want to do that. But I suppose if it comes down to finding a home for the painting, then it has to be done. But I also have nightmares about somebody paying a large amount of money for, you know, a major painting that you've done and then not being able to restrict it well and giving them a compromised product creates a lot of anxiety in me as a painter.

Laura Arango Baier: 54:16

No, I totally get that and you make some very good. I just thought like, you know, maybe if it's like slightly too big for a stairwell and maybe can be re stretched in a good enough area. But yeah. 5050 chance.

Noah Buchanan: 54:30

Yeah, I agree with that. 5050 Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 54:34

yeah, I just feel bad for the collector. Because if they really, you know, they really wanted it and especially if it's a big painting that they had been considering for a while. It's like oh, to not be able to

Noah Buchanan: 54:43

paint it for everybody. Yeah, yeah. BoldBrush

Laura Arango Baier: 54:47

reinspire artists to inspire the world because creating art creates magic, and the world is currently in desperate need of magic. BoldBrush provides artists with free art marketing Creativity and business ideas and information. This show is an example. We also offer written resources, articles and a free monthly art contest open to all visual artists. We believe that fortune favors the bold brush. And if you believe that to sign up completely free at BoldBrush That's B O LD BRUSH The BoldBrush Show is sponsored by FASO. Now more than ever, it's crucial to have a website when you're an artist, especially if you want to be a professional in your career. Thankfully, with our special link forward slash podcasts, you can make that come true. And also get over 50% off your first year on your artists website. Yes, that's basically the price of 12 lattes in one year, which I think is a really great deal considering that you get sleek and beautiful website templates that are also mobile friendly e commerce print on demand in certain countries, as well as access to our marketing center that has our brand new art marketing calendar. And the art marketing calendar is something that you won't get with our competitor. The art marketing calendar gives you day by day, step by step guides on what you should be doing today, right now in order to get your artwork out there and seen by the right eyes so that you can make more sales this year. So if you want to change your life and actually meet your sales goal this year, then start now by going to our special link forward slash podcast. That's s a s Forward slash podcast. But on a brighter note, I did want to ask you about the exhibition that you helped curate big stories can you tell us about that?

Noah Buchanan: 56:37

I'm very proud about that. Big stories is it's a big dream come true. Really. It's an exhibition of multi painter exhibition of 18 different painters that I helped co curate with alongside my colleagues and friends. Carl darksky was a wonderfully impressive painter, and Carl and I went to grad school together in New York. And, and we also worked with Bo Bartlett was a co Creator as well. And big story started out, actually seven, visit six or seven years back, and I found emails going all the way back to 2017, in which Carl and I discussed the challenges of making big multi figure narrative paintings, and where where do we exhibit them? And wouldn't it be nice if there was a show, or an exhibition that celebrated this kind of work, where we could bring the whole community together of artists are working in this tradition, and everyone gets to show together in a big show. And it sounded like a fantasy at first. Pretty quickly, we felt that we should approach Bo Bartlett because he was a mutual hero of of both mine and Carl's. And of course, Bow Bow had a major tradition in his own work of working in this, in this this tradition, this, this, this historical practice of large multi figure paintings. He also had a center in Columbus, Georgia, where he grew up called the bo Bartlett Center, which was a really top notch exhibition space, a huge space for exhibiting painting shows. And so we sought out both for his guidance on curating the show, because we have never done it before. And, you know, Beau is 20 years, our Senior and he's been very successful painter. And of course, the bo Bartlett center, we thought would be supportive to staging this exhibition. So Bo was immediately very supportive and interested in joining us as a curator, and interested in staging exhibition at the bo Bartlett center. And for the next a couple of years, I mean, the start of this was back in 2017, and 2018. When Beau joined us as a curator. For the next several years, we talked about artists that we would like to have in the show and what paintings we would like to have in the show by them. And it took a lot of work to not only approach the painters and get them to commit to being in the show, in many cases, several of the artists wanted to make new paintings for the show. And so they needed a lot of time to make a large impressive work. That was exhibition worthy. You know, they needed a big heads up to do that. And, and just a lot of time in dealing with the logistics of loaning paintings that were either owned by a collection like the Seven Bridges foundation that you mentioned. or the Stephen Bennett collection. We you know, a lot of negotiating with them on what what paintings would be loaned and what the agreement was. So we learned that curating is it's a lot of logistical work, you know, and working with independent owners of paintings, and collections and museums. One case we loaned, we under painting by Amy Cheryl's, from the Baltimore Museum of Art, we own several we loaned several paintings from the Seven Bridges Foundation, and I mentioned the Stephen Bennett collection. We owned, we have excuse me, we loaned paintings from black art in America, which is a foundation that supports a black painters of black artists in Atlanta, Georgia. So it was a lot of logistical work. Fortunately, we had the support of the staff from the bo Bartlett center, including the director at the Bartlett center, Michael falls and his staff, they were incredibly instrumental in helping us make big stories a reality. So after six years of planning, and logistical work and loan forms, and corresponding with artists, we finally were able to put together this this world class exhibition and opened up at the bo Bartlett center in early October, and it's still up now. This is, we're involved 2023 as we're talking, and so the show is still up there now. And it's going to run through December 16, of 2023. And then we're all very excited because it's going to travel, the show will travel to the New York Academy of Art, and will be exhibited there from January 26 through March 3 2024. So the opening reception is, is going to be January 26, which is a Friday at the New York Academy of Art in Manhattan. So all the work is getting ready. Soon. We've got a couple more weeks here, but it's getting ready to travel. And the exhibit will open up in New York and we'll all go out for it. There's going to be an artist panel discussion. We've talked about Odd Nerdrum. A couple times in our conversation here he has we have one of his paintings in the show, we tried to fill up the show with a lot of our heroes, odd being one of them, Bo Bartlett and Vincent Dexter, Dario being others, Margaret Boland as a hero, and she has a painting in the show. And a lot of contemporary heroes too, like Zoe brink, and Michelle doll and Elliott shape. And so a lot of fantastic realists both. From the older generation and the mid generation, the newer generation, it's very exciting to get all of us together and to promote work of this nature, again, to say, Hey, this is something that should be done. And it's, it's, it's an exciting way to be an artist to make paintings in this tradition. And we should, you know, if it's something that calls you as an artist, which I think if you're a figurative realist, it probably does, because you've looked at a lot of painters, and been inspired by a lot of painters who paint in that tradition and from Rembrandt to Caravaggio, to Alaska, to Rubens. These are all probably painters that you've looked at and admired. And they work in these big, large scale traditions with lots of figures and a narrative going on. It probably is something that calls to you if you're, if you find yourself in that category, and it's something that you should strive for. And it's not always easy. There's a lot of, there's a lot of constraints, like finding a studio space to do that in finding a place that will exhibit the work. But it should be done on the west, I think.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:04:04

I agree completely also, because I'm very biased towards making big paintings. Because that's also my goal. But yeah, that is so cool. I wish I could go. Unfortunately, I can't really afford to do that at the moment. But hopefully, eventually, in the future, I can, you know, go out there and see some of the more, I guess, contemporary narrative paintings that are out there in the real world. Because it's really awesome. To see how you know, like, in the 80s, right, realism was considered dead, dead and gone. Buried. Right, you know, right. So it's, it's so amazing to now be in a time where it's back. It was never God, you know, all of these incredible people who, you know, live through the 20th century who were able to You know, hold on, so tight to this information on, you know, painting in the traditional sense because it was, oh my God, I've heard so many horror stories about how we have lost certain information, right. But what we were able to hold on to, now it's coming back and it's so inspiring. So I'm happy that, you know, you're, you decided to make this exhibition happen because that's, it's such a testament to to this rebirth. Yeah,

Noah Buchanan: 1:05:25

it's been, it's been a dream come true to have this show become a reality. And also, you know, to get to be a part of it. I mean, I have a painting of the show, Carl Dobbs, he has a painting show, and of course, Bo Bartlett has a painting of the show with three curators, we, you know, we want to be a part of it too. So we carry that ourselves in to get to be in that company. Like you said, it realism, traditional figuration using the figure in a classical manner, as, as you said, you know, it really dwindled down to just a handful of practitioners, through those mid century errors, you know, the 60s 70s 80s, there were barely any still doing it. And that certainly they were, they were pushed away into the shadows, and they weren't given any attention by, you know, by our critics and so forth. So but they, they maintain the practice and, and it's, you know, it's, this kind of slowly came back up out of the subconsciousness of the collective subconsciousness. of art, you know, it bubbled, it's bubbled its way back to the surface. You know, that's why I, you know, I named Bo Bartlett and Vincennes area, they're there. They were two painters that really in the 80s, they suddenly had a solo show, or there was a group show, together with some other painters that really caught my attention, you know, in the early 80s, that people are doing this again, they weren't the ones that you know, necessarily the ones that carried it through other painters like Sydney Goodman, who taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts was one, then kami Herrera, also taught at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. I mean, they were doing realism, traditional figuration through the 60s and 70s. And, and just keeping that thread alive and others that ended up becoming more connected with the until a movement like 10, seven Jacobs and Michael Aviano, they were doing the work at that time. And you know, they were these little seeds that then, you know, took on a handful of students, and those students then have blossomed into these affiliates that are all over the world now. And using traditional classical methods of drawing and painting and suddenly becoming available for artists everywhere, because you know, what was never lost was an interest in seeing artwork of that of that nature. I mean, you would go to the museums, and it wouldn't and the galleries and it wouldn't really be available. And you know, the cool people to have people. That was they were fine with it. But but the general world was going around saying Why don't people paint, like the old masters anymore? And when I go to the museum, that's what I want to see. And, and so they would go to the museum, and they and they would, you know, they wouldn't be fulfilled in that in that way. But they were wondering, you know, the world was wondering what happened to the realists and why isn't anybody working in that manner anymore? And, you know, it's suddenly your generation especially, it's, it's really surprising how technically skilled, I think thanks to the to the availability of affiliate ism, incredibly skilled and it just impressive. You You've all become, you know, and I said earlier, when we were just warming up to talking before the interview, that, that I think it's important for artists of my generation and older to keep our eyes on the new guy. Because you know, we don't want to fall out of touch, and we don't want to, to, to lose the connection to the new and what's happening now and staying relevant and making sure that our work is is connected to it in some way. I think it's important that we don't just closet ourselves and say, you know, I'm only going to think about what my teachers did, and what they told me that's important to, but also to look, look at the younger generations to see what's happening and, and, and keep a connection with it, keep our eye on it, you know, and learn from it. I learned a lot from it. I think thanks to social media, I'm able to see what a lot of new fledgling realists are doing and it pushes me. You know, I see really good things, impressive things. Things that, you know, make me realize I still have to keep pushing myself And that's exciting, you know, it keeps you energized and alive and still trying to, to pull more out of yourself to be better, to strive harder. That's what the younger generation can provide for artists that are in their mid career. Like myself. So yeah, thanks. Thanks to you guys and all that you're doing and how you're keeping us inspired and motivated.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:10:27

Yeah, and thanks to you guys do for you know, holding the torch and you know, continuing that legacy of narrative multi figural painting because again, like I, when I was in high school, I thought it was no one does that. I want to do that do that. But no one does that until I found out that Antilles existed by chance, because I met someone who happened to study in my high school and he had studied and not today, and I was like, Hold on. Wait, what's like he had already graduated and stuff. And I was just a kid. So when I was like, wait a minute, people still paint like that. You're kidding. Like, I was so mind blown and excited because I was taking art history and I was just like, I want to paint like Rubin's I want to paint like all of these, you know, old dead dudes that like, why don't we do that anymore? You know? So it's good to know that there are living people who do it. Yeah. So it's, it really is inspiring. Also for my generation, so it's a back and forth.

Noah Buchanan: 1:11:29

Yeah, exactly. But and for women too, because, you know, when you look at our history, it's mostly loaded full of like you said, you know, dead white dudes, and, and there are some women like Artemisia Gentileschi, and, and VG LeBron, and, you know, it gets better as you go into the 19th century, like Rosa Bottner. And Cecilia bow and Mary Cassatt is like, you know, but when you go back into the Renaissance, and the Baroque, not so much, I mean, we kind of only have like, Artemesia. But I think that some of the most impressive realists now are women. And, you know, some of my favorite realists like, my Maya Gariepy de and Colleen Barry. I mean, you know, blown me away, and I constantly look at their work and find inspiration in that. So that's exciting to to bring women into the, into the, into the whole tradition of it. And not just like, in a not just like, a token way, like, Oh, we got to have the women, it's like, no, you guys are really becoming the heavy hitters. You know, I really mean that. And, and so that's really important, because it does, it's much better. It's everything's much better when balanced with with all of us. Absolutely,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:12:47

yeah. Also, because, you know, there's like the, the rite of passage that women go through the men don't and vice versa, you know, we have these differences in vision and experience in life that, like you said, it completes also the narrative of, you know, people as people as humanity, you know, so it's a, it's also good to see that that's happening. Yeah, more, more female role models out there, which is also

Noah Buchanan: 1:13:13

amazing. So good. Yeah. I love it. I love it. Yeah. And

Laura Arango Baier: 1:13:17

then I did want to ask you, because, of course, on this podcast, we do touch upon marketing. And something that I find fascinating is that not a lot of people are. Yeah, I guess not a lot of people really realize that a lot of marketing is actually narrative. You know, when you're selling something, you're not just selling the thing, you're selling a story you're selling, like the entire, you know, experience of whatever it is that you're selling, right, in this case painting. How do you use narrative when it comes to marketing your work?

Noah Buchanan: 1:13:52

That's, that's an interesting question. I haven't thought about that before. I think that I try to, I try to identify myself as the narrative art artists, that's the narrative painter. And the works, the descriptions of the shows and the descriptions of the works within the shows, tend to discuss that as really tying into a tradition, you know, tying into a history of this practice. And, you know, identifying oneself myself as as a as a, you know, classical narrative, a figurative artist, that is using painting techniques that come from the traditions of, you know, certain figure heads in art history, like Caravaggio, like Rembrandt and so forth. I think, you know, just in descriptions of shows, I think that would would be limited to that add in, you know, how I describe the paintings in the show. Marketing the work, I think, has changed a lot since the advent of social media, I'm sure we all agree, it's been a wonderful thing for artists, to have social media to be able to take something that's just a sketch or an idea. And you know, in a few moments, a little scribble or an oil sketch or a half finished drawing or painting, that's just the underpainting. You know, anything can be shared with the world, in just a matter of seconds. And the fulfillment and satisfaction that we get from that, I think, is it's so major, because I remember years where we couldn't mark it ourselves that way, you know, to say, this is what I'm doing. I'm an artist who is working right now, in this moment. On my easel, this is what it looks like, here I am painting or this is what I'm struggling with. And you just share that with the world. Before the advent of social media, artists felt, I think, very lonely and isolated. And often there was this metaphor of the artists chained to their easel that was shared around a lot, you know, I'd hear painters, realists, especially say they felt chained to the easel in a lonely, windowless room somewhere, you know, because they couldn't afford to have studios, they'd be in their basement and just painting a still life and the hours and hours that went into it. And you would sit there and paint, trying to finish this painting, because you knew that that would be where you'd get to actually see the world, again, is putting the painting out there in a gallery, or in a show. And so you were kind of waiting for that moment to get the fulfillment, the reward of your craft to get to share what you've done with the world. You know, and it was very frustrating to say, well, this painting is not going to be done for months, no one's gonna know about it unless they happen to visit my studio. And, and even even after it's finished, it'll be months before it's exhibited. And you really had to wait for the gallery to market well, now you can market it yourself. Because we all have Instagram accounts and, and, you know, and other social media as well. Instantaneous instantaneously, you get to share the making of it, then you know, the stages of it, and the unveiling of it when it's done. And I think that I think that artists don't feel so lonely anymore in their marketing, they also feel don't feel beholden to a gallery to to manage the marketing or even the necessity to have a really strong website. I mean, that's that's imperative, I think, to have a strong website. But the social media access to social media changes the marketing quite a bit because you can make any posts, you can turn any post into, it could just be about sharing the work. But could it could also be that this is what I do in the workshop that I'm teaching this summer. Or it can be that, you know, I'm selling, I'm having a studio sale this summer of all the drawings that I've been doing studies for my next big painting, here they are. And you know, I'm going to begin selling them next week. And so it's instantaneous marketing that I think it puts a lot of power back in the hands of the artists. And it's that instantaneous, this of it feels very powerful that I can just be drawing on the easel are painting on the wall over here and decide, Oh, I better market my show coming up next month. And I don't have to wait for the gallery to do it. I can do it myself. That's that's a bit of a wonderful thing. On the downside of that. I often worry that we've put so much power into the hands of social media. Like one day, I realized that if something went wrong with my social media, like if a hacker got a hold of my social media account and disabled it or made it so that I think as I've heard a lot of this has happened to a lot of painters that I know, a hacker has gained access to their social media account and basically destroyed it. And they had to start over. Well, I mean, we all know that building the following on Instagram is I mean, that is a mountain to climb. And is it you know, it takes a lot of work and a lot of time. And if suddenly you were to just lose access to that. Apropos of your question about marketing, I feel like suddenly your ability to self market is completely cut off. And that worries me and so I do as much as I can to bolster the security of of my social media accounts because I mean, I can't afford to have it lost or corrupted in any way I need to constantly have control over it and I use it all the time, not only to market my work or my exhibitions, either solo exhibitions or the exhibitions that I'm you know that I've curated but also To market workshops and classes that I'm teaching, so it's so important. So I sit, you know, I see it. You know, I know that that's it's less probable, it's less likely that you're that you'll lose your Instagram account to a hacker, but it is possible and it does happen occasionally. So I think it is a concern that we need to think about. Absolutely, yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:20:22

it's happened to a few of my friends as well. And it's always a challenge for them to get it back. If, if they didn't get it back, you know, because that's the other part. Yeah. I mean,

Noah Buchanan: 1:20:33

I've seen people say, oh,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:20:35

yeah, that's I do have Yeah, like at least two of the people I know who have their account hacked, they were able to somehow get it back. But this is why two factor authorization is so important. And you know, all of these things, don't click any links that anyone sends you. Don't trust that ever. It's usually probably like, just a way to steal your data. Yeah. All right. So guys, don't don't don't tap any links, please. From strange people.

Noah Buchanan: 1:21:03

Don't Don't even talk to people sending you weird, like requests about an NF T is yeah, you know, they Yeah, I guess we have to delete those.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:21:13

Oh, yeah, I get those too. But yes, this is very important. But speaking of challenges, you know, what, what challenges have you faced, you know, when it comes to the business side of, you know, selling your work and all of that business aspect? And how have you overcome those challenges?

Noah Buchanan: 1:21:33

Great question. I noticed, when I was even when I was an art student, as I'm sure many of us noticed that. If you, you know, take a trip to Chelsea Manhattan, to Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan where all the world's top galleries are. So it's the heart of the art market. But you'll notice very quickly, you know, the style and the trends of the work that is largely promoted and shown and reviewed in the art market today. And, you know, there's a very narrow spot for traditional classical painters, figurative painters that work in more traditional themes of narrative themes is a very narrow slot, number of seats available at the table for artists working in that manner. And I noticed that very early on as a young person, that most of the artwork that was being favored by the art world was really conceptual artwork, you know, artwork that falls in the categories of installations. assemblages, found objects performance are, you know, multimedia artworks that involve installations and videos and performance, very avant garde mode of making art are really what heavily? You know, it's very disproportionate, the amount that that's promoted, and the amount that you actually see the type of artwork that that we want to do. So there's a very few number of seats at the at a very huge table available for us, I saw that as a challenge right away, as how are we going to sort of elbow our way in on, you know, frankly, it's still a big problem, it's still a major challenge for artists, especially figurative artists working in a realist tradition. It's very difficult. There's still a lot of thinking in the art world that that is not really artwork, you know, that's not really art, that it's maybe it's more craft driven. And I've seen artists try to embrace that mindset to or to champion that mindset. I mean, certainly honored within that with the kitsch philosophy that he created, that he embraced. But it's it's a very hard challenge to work around is that in the end, there's very few galleries that are available to artists that work in that tradition. So that's the challenge. How do you get around it? I think that it's that's it's still a very difficult uphill climb. I have found that even the most avant garde galleries, when you look at their roster, their stable of artists, they might show artwork all over the spectrum of what artists do, from performance to video to installations, to abstract painting, but then they usually like to have one painter, two or three painters, maybe in a stable of like 50 artists that do paint representationally with figurative subject matter. So I think that's something for artists to look carefully at is that don't assume that these top tier galleries in places like Chelsea, London, Berlin, Copenhagen, agan, don't assume that they are that they're closed off to representational figurative painters, it might be, it's very likely that they would like to have a painter of that ilk in their roster. And you might be the only one, you might not be surrounded by your colleagues and peers. But you will find yourself in a, you know, a top tier, cutting edge gallery that does make the rounds to these world fairs and will take your work and show it in in Miami and New York, and Chicago and Seattle and Los Angeles and, and you get to be part of the you get to be part of the art world. And you might experience some exciting sales that way. And I think that's an important thing for artists to look at as don't necessarily write off galleries as though they're that they just show that they're not going to want to show what I do. Going back to my own personal challenges as a painter, I find that the my own flavor of a figurative realism, you know, the one the flavor that comes out of my brush, my own singular brush tends to be not classical enough for classical venues, galleries that really promote and champion academic painting, I find that I'm on the outside of that. At the same time, my artwork is not on guard enough, you know, to be in, in forums like, you know, Juxtapoz magazine or hyper allergenic, where there are realist painters that are working and getting a lot of attention. And they're working in very contemporary hip modes of painting. And the subject matter is, is very contemporary, very cutting edge. I find that I'm not in that community, or I'm not my work doesn't really fit in that spectrum either. So I fall in this strange middle, that it's it's hard to define yourself at home in any given gallery. So I'm fortunate that I have two galleries that I show with that seem to support what I do. One of those is Winnfield gallery in Carmel. And I really like the stable of artists that he has, I feel like I'm in really good company with artists like, like Camille quarry shows with him. Christian failure, Lind Patricia Wildwood. He's a principal in field has paintings by Ted Schmitz. I've seen works by Alan Seleucus, you know, who shows with quorum gallery. So, Mark Trujillo is another contemporary painter that I really like from Los Angeles, who shows with Chris Winfield, so I like I like the community there. Some others I should mention that Crispin field are Warren Chang and David the pair is a major painter who, whose works are in the de Young Museum in San Francisco. So I like that community I feel I feel good about showing with Prince Winfield, I show with a gallery in New York City dacha gallery, on the Lower East Side. And Dachi has really committed to figurative narrative representational paintings, and really supportive of that work. And I feel really at home there. So I feel lucky that I've found galleries that are supportive of my work, but it's not easy. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of conversations and meeting people. It takes a lot of walking around cities like New York, Los Angeles, London, to see what the flavors of these galleries are, like, you know, what, what are they? How do they present the work? What's the neighborhood like? What are they? What are they what are their other artists like the kind of work do I want to be a part of that community or not? It takes a lot of work and it's probably the most difficult thing for the contemporary figurative realist to do is to fill that that part of their their picture of their career is the gallery it's really equivalent to a recording artist, a musician getting signed by a record label. It's you know, you don't just walk in and say oh, Hall Hall record with you guys, you know, and they say great, you know, it's not it's the same thing. And I think for our artists, having a gallery, it does feel like it validates your work, to to clientele into the art world. I'm at the same time. I think a big challenge for me and for everybody, for all artists and for all galleries is that with the advent of social media, and the power being put more in the hands of the artists galleries are struggling to survive. It's harder for them to sell paintings and to make their rents. And they have to really work hard and stay on their toes to make sales and to have an income to keep the galleries afloat. So we're in this weird moment where it's still very, I think it's important for an artist to have a gallery that they can exhibit, they can have shows, and I think that's a fulfilling part of being a painter, you know, it's, it's not okay to just make the paintings and not show them, they have to be exhibited, it's part of the process of being a painter, you know, and I think showing in the gallery is, is the, is really the best way to do it. I mean, if you can have a show in a museum, that's great. But that's pretty rare. If you can have a show in a museum like setting, you know, or an exhibition, like setting that might be, you know, I think a lot of new painters will start out even showing in stores, retail stores, or cafes, we all know about that. I mean, I think that should be done. You know, if that's your first step, do it, you know, have a show in a restaurant that wants to show off your work, do it, you know, and slowly work up your way up the ladder. But it is a weird time where galleries are not necessarily thriving, they're still here, they're still among us, they're still important. They still have really big exciting openings. And they're those openings get reviewed in papers and magazines. And they're well, you know, in the openings are well attended by big exciting, with big, exciting opening receptions. So they're still relevant and important. And yet, they have lost a lot of their power because of social media and artists deciding that, you know, what, if I can become a famous artist, just by putting all my work and energy into my social media account, which has happened in a lot of cases, I'll just do that. I don't want to have to go and grovel at the foot of a gallerist, or really the gallery assistant, you know, I don't want to have to grovel for some attention from them when I can just put my energy and time into my own social media account. And I'll get 100,000 followers, and I'll be famous. And then the galleries will come to me, you know. So that's a valid point. I don't know what's going to happen in the long run. Now, what is it going to mean, for galleries? And what is it going to mean for social media? Because I think social media is changing when when they're noticing that they're making people celebrities for free. They kind of think, well, wait a minute, we have a real power at our fingertips, maybe we should try to impose control on that. Or maybe we should capitalize on that more. I mean, that's going to be an obvious outcome to that problem, too. I think there were a lot of Lucky artists, I wish I was one of them. Who took Instagram seriously from day one. But it was just this new thing that only a few people were doing. I mean, those people are celebrities. Now, you know, they they have they have followings that are in the millions. And it's simply because, you know, they got in at the ground level, they got it on day one. I remember hearing about Instagram at the beginning and kind of going, Oh, Gosh, darn another one of these, I don't want to do that. I'm not gonna do it. And I didn't get involved in it until it was already a serious force. And, and, you know, and I and I've been penalized for that, really, because, you know, now there's algorithms in place that restrict your growth, as we all know, and I still love Instagram, and I need it and I'm, I'm, I'm dependent on it. But I wish I had gotten in earlier. I wish I'd taken it seriously, more early on. So that's another challenge I think that we all face that I face in marketing is navigating the constraints of social media. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:34:24

absolutely. And to your point about the galleries too. It's like I feel like the pandemic also did a number on them. A lot of galleries close then. I feel like the few that are left are like they're there. They're there. They're hanging on. But one of the one of the galleries that I really liked, which was booth gallery, it's gone. Yeah. Which is the location closed. Yeah, and I don't know if they're gonna reopen. I know that. Although he I think he's still doing his tattoo stuff. But I don't know if he's ever going to open up the gallery again. So I was a little sad when that happened. Yeah,

Noah Buchanan: 1:35:00

that was a great gallery. They were supportive of realism. And they had a great location in Manhattan. I saw a show there several years ago called something like the new Baroque. It was curated by Robert Zeller. And it was a great show, it had Odd Nerdrum and Adam Miller and Bo Bartlett and Carl Dobbs, he was in it, and I was a great show. So, yeah, calories like that, I think we need to get more of those back, we need more options. And I know that I, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining about the art world, because a lot of us do, a lot of us realize that our traditional painters, we can get real whiny, real fast about the art world. And I understand I totally understand the feeling that you know, anyone who's listening to this, I totally understand. But it is a way to sort of be shut down and excluded real fast, if you sort of make that your, your whole Mo and your identity that you're complaining about the art world. That's like the fastest way to definitely be excluded. I think that it's important to embrace everything that's going on and the art role to look at it, take it seriously, just because it's not oil paint on canvas, it might be a video installation, it still has themes and topics and psychology and philosophy. And we should all be looking at that and thinking about it, and not writing it off. Or discounting it. That's not real art. We I think that we a lot of us classical traditional painters realist, we have to be careful that we don't go down that road. Because I've seen people that want to sort of they started, they want to turn it into kind of a war, you know, like, let's take up arms and reclaim the art world. And I feel you, you know, I understand the feeling because we've been shut out a lot, you know, and we've sort of been excluded or not taken seriously. So I'm not saying that those feelings are invalid. But I don't think the way to win that fight is to sort of take up arms and get angry about it. It's, it's, you know, so it's not there, I see that. I've heard a metaphor before where it's like, if you go into a music store, when there used to be music stores, maybe this analogy doesn't work anymore. They go into music store that existed in the 90s, or the ladies, right? And you asked the staff like I really would like, I'd like to find this. That's I'm just gonna say jazz album, okay, I'm gonna find this album by Miles Davis. And they would say to you, oh, we don't we don't carry Jazz at all. And then you'd say, well, will your music store? And they'd say, Well, yeah, we have, you know, we have everything from pop and rock and metal and reggae and country. We don't sell jazz. And it's like, Bull. Why not? I mean, that's a very much the contemporary art world is like that. When you go to all the the top tier galleries in Chelsea in New York, what you're doing is walking into a music store that has selected one type of music that does not sell that music. And it seems very unfair. And then it's very confusing. I don't understand it. And people keep saying it's going to change. They've been saying that since I was 18. And I'm 47 now. So I don't know that it's going to change. So I don't think that the right tactic is to say, let's take up arms and revolt. I think I think you just have to make your best artwork, you have to paint in a way that's true for you. I think you have to paint in a way that taps into the deep themes that inspired you when you were a kid, a teenager, a college student, that inspire you now, like Be honest with yourself, paint that subject matter. Make sure that you're passionate about it, do your best work, get it out there as much as you can elbow your way in and to the room, even if it's in a community that's, you know, that doesn't really understand what you're doing. But get yourself a voice at the table. You know, and it's it's hard, but it takes work, but it can be done.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:39:21

Yeah, absolutely. It's just you know, chugging along, keep going. Yeah, yeah. So I wanted to ask you, can you tell us about your online classes and workshops?

Noah Buchanan: 1:39:36

Yeah, I've got a lot of online workshops and classes and, and in person ones, too, not just online. But in terms of marketing these days, I find it's hard. I feel like the audience might be confused because I promote this workshop and then this in person class and then this online workshop and they're they're all Oh, they always need promotions and marketing and advertising. And I feel like I worry sometimes that audiences are, you know, I don't know, they don't know what particular workshop I'm promoting. But I've got a number of them going on, I think just at random listing randomly. Every summer I teach an in person figure painting workshop, that's a six day workshop in San Francisco, and this year is going to be from June 3 to June 8. And it's in a studio, a large studio in San Francisco with a model. And we paint all day long from life, working with indirect painting techniques, meaning the simply that there's an underpinning, followed by various full color painting techniques on top. So that's that workshop in a nutshell. Another class that I'm teaching online, which is live online, is for the New York Academy of Art. And that will be offered every semester for six class meetings in a row. So it'll be on Saturdays, and it's a figure drawing class. So it's a classic all figure drawing, concept and perception and simply that when we draw the figure, when we work with figurative subject matter, a big part of what we're doing is concept driven things like understanding proportion, anatomy, or conceptualizing the figure as a series of volumes and math is, but then a big part of what we're doing is learning to treat our eye like a lens, and how to interpret light and light behavior on form and how to, you know, achieve realist qualities in our drawings and paintings. So, you know, we're doing the artists, the, the figurative realist is really kind of doing both at the same time, concept and perception. So that's a sixth class meeting, online Saturdays, through the New York Academy of Art, and you can find information about that on their website. Other workshops that I teach are with the teaching studios of art, which is has a big online presence. And they have a number of workshops that I've taught in the past that are fully recorded, which which work really excellently for students to purchase the workshop. And to work along asynchronously on their own at their own pace. They follow along with the recording of the workshop, they have access to all the reference materials, all the demonstrations. And they're also able to meet with me by scheduling, independent zoom meetings that are 10 minutes long, where I give them quick critiques and feedback as they work their way through the projects. And also with teaching studios of art. Every year, I usually do about two or three online live workshops, different topics. So we have another one of those that I'll be advertising for March, which would be full color, full color portrait painting. Using a full extended palette, other workshops, hope I'm not leaving anything out, I every semester, I teach courses. For those of you listening that are in California, I teach at the College of San Mateo, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. I'm just wrapping up a semester where I have a portrait class and I have also a plein air painting class. And next semester, starting in January, I'm teaching life drawing, which is really figure drawing that's focused on anatomy and proportion and long poses. And I also teach my portrait class as well, next semester. So yeah, and I think that said, a quick glance, I think those are all the workshops that I have on the palette, so to speak right now. Yeah, I probably last one out. But I think that's that's the gist of it. They're all available on my workshops page on my website. If you go to my website, and find workshops, you'll see everything that I'm offering and everything that I have offered in the past, and you can get a full picture of my offerings that way.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:44:12

Absolutely, speaking of what's your website, my

Noah Buchanan: 1:44:17

website is www. Noah Buchanan. So it's my name with art at the end of it. And it's a wonderful website. I love it. It's by FASO and BoldBrush. And it's, I think it's an excellent website and I've been encouraging a lot of people to to check out their their offerings, and I've never been happier with the website before so I'm really proud of it. So please visit

Laura Arango Baier: 1:44:45

Yes. And also your Instagram, my

Unknown: 1:44:48

Instagram it is at Noah dot Buchanan so there's just a dot between my first and last name. But please come take a look and follow if you can. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:45:00

Awesome. Well thank you so much Noah for the engaging and wonderful conversation. It's

Noah Buchanan: 1:45:05

been great ya know, I've it's been great to meet you and now and I love your work and this has been a great conversation. I really appreciate your interest. Thank you

Laura Arango Baier: 1:45:18

of course

The BoldBrush Show. Interviews with today's finest artists and creatives. Watch here or listen on all major podcast services.