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The BoldBrush Show, Episode 35

Derek Harrison - A Leap of Faith

Show Notes:

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In this episode, we interviewed Derek Harrison, a figurative artist based in Santa Barbara, California, who specializes in dramatic figurative and landscape paintings. We discussed how he went from tattoo artist to figurative painter, as well as his transition from student to working artist. And we also talk about how he uses social media and other ways in order to maintain a good rapport with his collector base. And finally, we talked about a really exciting exhibition happening at the Salmagundi Club called "Americans in Paris, Fashion", where he will be displaying four of his paintings, as well as he will be teaching in May at the Los Angeles Academy of figurative art, where anyone is welcome to join!

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Derek Harrison: 0:00

I still thoroughly believe at the heart of all of it. It's if the work is really well done, like if you studied if you've worked hard if you understand good design, composition, interesting subject matter, that most of the time I feel like will carry you through a lot of those hard times. And then all the other stuff. It's still important, but it's not as important as that.

Laura Arango Baier: 0:20

Welcome to the BoldBrush show, where we believe that fortune favors the bold brush. My name is Laura 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 arts in order to share their advice and insights. In this episode, we interviewed Derek Harrison, a figurative artist based in Santa Barbara, California, who specializes in dramatic figurative and landscape paintings. We discussed how he went from tattoo artists to figurative painter, as well as his transition from student to working artists. And we also talk about how he uses social media and other ways in order to maintain a good rapport with his collector base. And finally, we talked about a really exciting exhibition happening at the salmagundi club called Americans in Paris fashion, where he will be displaying four of his paintings, as well as he will be teaching in May at the Los Angeles Academy of figurative art, where anyone is welcome to join. So welcome, Derek to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?

Derek Harrison: 1:34

Good, Laura. Thanks for having me. Pleasure to be here. It's good to see you.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:37

Good to see you, too. Yeah, I'm, I'm happy that you're here. And I'm kind of jealous because it's earlier in the day for you. Not to say that I don't mind working at night. It's just the it's a little strange.

Derek Harrison: 1:52

Yeah, well, you're, you're more at the calm end of your day. So it's a different energy.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:58

It is it is it maybe maybe it's even like the type of energy that helps with conversation too. Because I'm like, I'm chill.You know? Yeah, yeah. You're a little bit more laid back.

Derek Harrison: 2:07

Yeah, probably. So.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:10

Yes. Although you seem pretty laid back to you seem like you're chillin your day starting your new studio.

Derek Harrison: 2:18

That's a good description. I've kind of always in this phase of just trying to relax and enjoy each moment. So you know, it's kind of always evening, in my mind, doesn't always work well, out in the world. But, you know, inside, I'm a happy camper.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:35

But I think maybe that's like something with us, with us artists where we're just like mentally evening, and then we live in a daytime world.

Derek Harrison: 2:48

I think so. Yeah. I mean, we're in our studios so much by ourselves, in our, in our minds, so much of the time that it just becomes our reality.

Laura Arango Baier: 2:57

Absolutely. Oh, my God. Yes. Well, I think it is time where I ask you to please tell us a little bit about you and what you do.

Derek Harrison: 3:08

Oh, yes, well, I am a representational realist painter. I do a lot of figurative work some landscapes. I'm an instructor at the Los Angeles Academy of figurative art right now. I mostly do gallery and museum shows. So I spend the vast majority of my time in my studio painting, which I love. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do that. And, and yeah, I mean, it's just a dream come true, really. So I'm, you know, I'm happy to I'm happy it's worked out thus far. Hopefully it stays this way.

Laura Arango Baier: 3:43

Yes. Yeah. I mean, it's nice. It's not just nice. It's wonderful when a figurative artist can actually like, enjoy and live from their work without any pressure. You're specifically like with figurative painting. It's one of the hardest painting niches to be in. So...

Derek Harrison: 4:06

Yes, I agree. I agree. Well, in not quite that there's no pressure. I do feel like there's a tremendous amount of pressure. But I try not to let that bring me down too much. I try not to think about it. You know, I just try to do the best work that I can. But what is inspiring is seeing painters like you and so many who have gone through sort of this academic system, and then you've gone out on your own, you've studied with Odd Nerdrum, which is super cool. So it kind of helps. Yeah, you know, keeps us all afloat. It's It's inspiring to see. And it's a good thing.

Laura Arango Baier: 4:40

Yeah, yeah. And similarly, you know, your work is very inspiring, because again, like figurative work, not easiest. And also, you are also you have a very interesting background, which is that you originally started with graffiti, and then tattooing and then figurative and to top it off. From what I know there aren't too very many ateliers in your area. So the fact that even got into figurative painting without really being aware of the Atelier movement is impressive. It's like, I would have thought you'd studied at an atelier.

Derek Harrison: 5:21

Right? now that's, that's pretty cool to hear. I take that as a compliment. And that's true. There are a lot of academic schools. I'm on the West Coast. I'm in Santa Barbara, California. And no, it is very uncommon, actually. And as far as tattooing, that was a fascinating journey. You don't meet a lot of tattoo artists who become, you know, fine artists, or realist figurative painters that a lot of tattoo artists paint, but they do you know, more tattoo style type of art. So, yeah, how it worked for me was, you know, I was a kid who grew up skateboarding. And so, you know, that just sort of we all were into graffiti. You know, I had friends who were in a crew, and they, you know, it was just sort of what we did as kids. I didn't think anything about it. I just like drawing and, and then they started to get into tattooing. And I never thought about that, like, I was somebody who loved art. Like, I'm sure you are, like most artists, you know, we grow up, it's just seems to be part of who we are. And so I remember, I was about 18 years old, and I was working at a fitness center. And I would sit at a desk all day. So I started bringing in a sketchbook and drawing and I eventually brought in canvases when I was actually painting at the desk, and somebody came in, and they were like, Hey, have you ever thought about tattooing? You know, and I was like, No, it just, it just didn't seem like a real job. Or, you know, it was so foreign to me actually doing that as a profession. But then they were like, you know, there's a shop in town, they're looking for an artist, you should look into being an apprentice. And so I was like, okay, and I went in there, and I talked to the shop owner, and he hired me right away. And he was like, your apprenticeship is going to be six months to one year. And at the time, I didn't really, you know, I didn't know what I was gonna do with my life. So I was like, why not? Sure. Let's see. Let's see what happens, you know. And it was super eye opening. It was like a whole new world. But I loved it because it was doing art. I was drawing and designing tattoos. And then once once I learned how to tattoo, I was just so hooked on it. I was obsessed with it. I loved it. And so I did that for four or five years, and I started to meet other tattoo artists who went to art school. You know, there are some tattoo artists. Yeah, they actually studied at as an art school. So they had a background in it. And they, they were telling me about this whole art world galleries, museums, the whole thing. And I was like, oh, that's, that's interesting. How do you get into that? And they were like, Oh, you could, you know, study with this person and this person. And so I started take workshops, you know, did the whole workshop route. And in one of these workshops, I saw a painting by Jeremy Lipking. And that's when I was like, holy shit. That's what I want to do. That is it. And then I found out that he painted it from life. It was like one of his outdoor nudes, you know, like a very Zorn esque, outdoor nude. And lo and behold, he actually lived about an hour and a half away from me. And he was doing a workshop, like a month later. So I signed up, and I went there. And that's kind of what kick started the whole thing, my whole interest in figurative fine art. And that became the obsession which still rages on to this day. Of course. Yeah, it was pretty cool. And when I met Jeremy, we, we had a lot of similarities. Like we became friends, I worked as his assistant for a couple of workshops and, and learned under him. And it was through that process that I realized that my fundamentals weren't as strong as I wished they were. So that's when I went to the LA Academy of figurative art where I now teach, and I got some, like, foundational classes there. So it was, it was a journey to get to this point.

Laura Arango Baier: 9:19

Yes, yeah, I was actually gonna say this is very much like, hero's journey. Like, I wouldn't be surprised if that guy that walked in and saw you like, sketching, if he was like, some wizard sent by God knows what to like, put you on your path. You know, it's, it's crazy. Because it's like, you know, the longer we live, the longer we can experience moments like that, where our path, you know, in hindsight, it's so obvious, but in that moment, it's like, where's this leading me, you know, and it usually is like your intuition and like your calling That is like right there. We don't see that moment.

Derek Harrison: 10:03

Oh, that's that's a well put I totally agree with you it things are just happening in that moment. You're just sort of living making decisions. It's only in hindsight, that I now realize because it feels so, like painting doing what it feels so real feels so true. It feels so unavoidable. Like, it had to happen one way or another. And that the end of those of the events that played out it made it happen. But yeah, no, I think you're onto something there.

Laura Arango Baier: 10:28

I mean, I think I just, you know, I talk to so many artists, you know, like you who are, sometimes they just, it's almost like, you get thrown onto the path. It looks like you don't choose it. It chooses you. It's so spooky.

Derek Harrison: 10:42

Yeah, you're right. I never used to think like that. But I think there might be something to it.

Laura Arango Baier: 10:47

Yeah, yeah. Um, and like the, the other really cool thing that I also see with, with paths like ours is that we don't resist, right? We just like, go with the flow. We're like, okay, great. I'm gonna go check this out and see where this takes me. Because that's literally how I ended up on the podcast, too. So

Derek Harrison: 11:09

Really? Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 11:11

Yeah, it's very much like, Oh, okay.

Derek Harrison: 11:13

I mean, sounds like from your story, it was very much a part of who you are. But you knew that at a young age, which is, which is pretty fascinating. Most people, it takes a while for that to click, but I mean, how did you know? Like, when you were in high school, that you you were, you know, interested in this stuff?

Laura Arango Baier: 11:31

Oh, man. I guess long story short. You know, I met someone who went to an atelier school, and then I became really obsessed with, you know, that the schools even existed because I thought, Oh, no one can learn to paint like that anymore. That's like, that's like in the past. I wish but like that's in the past. Um, and then I studied art history, and I completely fell in love with the old masters. I got really bored once we hit you know, like, after the war, and yeah, really bored. I could not it was AP art history also have something I got a 4, but mostly because like, the majority of the questions were like, Oh, this this thing by and it's like a modern sculpture. Like, I have no idea. But I was the only weirdo in my class using oil paints. Everyone else was like playing with acrylics. And I was like, No, I want to try oils, because that's what the old masters used.

Derek Harrison: 12:29

Yes, you just gravitated towards it. I know. It was like acrylics, and all sorts of modern new mediums and all this stuff. Yeah, yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 12:37

I was not into that it. I don't know. It just, it's like I was saying it's like a calling. It's like something like a like a little thread that's like pulling you or something. And you have to be careful to not break it. And like you just follow it, you know?

Derek Harrison: 12:52

Right. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 12:53

Let's hope it's not leading me to the minotaur.

Derek Harrison: 12:57

Fingers crossed, hopefully.

Laura Arango Baier: 12:59

Fingers crossed. Yeah. I mean, if I do meet it, that's cool. I think I can handle it. But you know, yeah. Yes, that'd be prepared. You know, isn't it speak softly and carry a big stick or something?

Derek Harrison: 13:12

That sounds about right.

Laura Arango Baier: 13:13

Yeah. Yeah. Oh, man. But to continue. Also, I actually do have a lot of friends that I met at Angel Academy who are tattoo artists.

Derek Harrison: 13:23


Laura Arango Baier: 13:24

Yes. Yeah, there's more and more of an influx of tattoo artists who are becoming well are not becoming but they're attending ateliers

Derek Harrison: 13:34


Laura Arango Baier: 13:35

Or even artists who Go to Atelier and then become a tattoo artist, which is awesome.

Derek Harrison: 13:41

Yeah, it is. What like one major plus about tattooing. It's one of the art forms where you can actually make like a pretty good living. It's not like painting, you know, painting is so there's so much luck and timing involved. It takes so long to be able to sell your work, you know, for enough Tinder get work, but it's, but it's a tattoo artists like on average, you know, you charge like $200 An hour most shops. So, you know, it's it's a good living. I mean, for me, that was tricky to leave that sort of security. But But anyway, how I think that that's why it's, and you know, the standards are getting so high now that to be trained, you know, your more competitive level, you know, you're going to be a better tattoo artist. So it makes a lot of sense.

Laura Arango Baier: 14:24

Yeah, yeah. And then the last note on that is also on social media. There are a lot of in fricking credible tattoo artists. And of course, when I checked their rates, because I'm like, ooh, that would be cool. I cannot afford it.

Derek Harrison: 14:40

I know it's expensive, right? I have that conversation. One of my teachers at LAAFA was Sergio Sanchez, brilliant painter, great painter, but a really great tattoo artists and now he tattoos full time. And he would be like, Yeah, you know, people sometimes they won't bat an eye and they'll drop two grand three grand on a tattoo but never in a million years. They buy a painting for that, you know, they don't want to hang something on their wall like that. But when it's on their body, they view it differently. So it's it's an interesting way that you know, that people think so. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 15:11

yeah, I think what, what makes it different though, if you really think about it is, I don't think I've ever really met someone who just like gets a tattoo on a whim, unless it's from like, a really cheap studio, usually. And from my personal experience, getting tattoos, I think, for months, like, I will have the idea even for years, and then I'll find the right person, and then I'll be like, Okay, I'm doing Yeah, it takes, it's almost like, like, maybe like, I would equate it to like a commission, you know, like when some Commission's painting from you. So I guess that would be a little bit of a difference, you know,

Derek Harrison: 15:48

right. That's true. No, that's a good. It's good to clarify that because, yeah, I mean, for you, like, you know, you're a little bit more art savvy, probably. But that's kind of how it should be viewed. It's like you're, you're investing in a work of art on your body for the rest of your life yet, you know, a decent amount of thought is useful in making those decisions.

Laura Arango Baier: 16:09

Yes, yes, absolutely. I mean, if we're gonna disappoint your parents, you might as well make it pretty.

Derek Harrison: 16:16

Absolutely. I remember when I got the first like, major tattoo my arm. It was very much like by like, I just wanted a work of art from that artists. I almost didn't even care what it was. It was just I wanted his work, kind of like how I look at like, a lot of painters now. It's like, I love what they do. It almost doesn't matter if it's a figure painting a portrait is still life, whatever. It's kind of how they paint that I connect with. So anyways, similar, similar thing.

Laura Arango Baier: 16:42

No, yeah, I've also seen that where I do have friends who have gotten tattoos. But specifically, like, they just went to the artist, and I like, I want you to do something here. And that's it. Like I it has to be your style. And that is, you know, another really cool aspect about tattooing and how it crosses over in that way with painting. It's really cool. Yeah, yes. And then also, it's really interesting to me, too, is, you know, you mentioned that jumping over from the security of tattooing, to, you know, starting over, basically, like laying down that foundation for painting. What was that like for you?

Derek Harrison: 17:23

Well, I remember I had a bit of a strategy at the time. So I was tattooing for a little over five years, I'd saved up some money. And my grandpa had passed away, he left me some stock Actually, it wasn't like that much. But it was enough where I was like, I'm gonna take this sort of leap of faith. And so I found a studio. So it was a commercial, it was that kind of commercial space, right, like this big commercial space. That was reasonably priced. And I was thinking, If I could turn this into a live work studio, and I was dating this girl at the time, I was like, if you live with me, like I could afford to do this, and I could go, I could paint, and I won't have to worry about making money for like, a few months, you know. So that's what I did. I cashed in, like everything that I had and got this studio. And it was a little risque, because it was a commercial building, but I wasn't supposed to be living in it, you know. And rent it, it was three rooms, I rented out one of the rooms to two other people. So I had like a 1500 square foot studio, where I was paying myself about $800 a month for it in Santa Barbara, California, which is like insane, you know, a studio like that cost about 3000 a month. So, you know, I found out found a way to make it work within you know, that my reality, you know, what I had to work with. And so that's how I did it at first. And I was showing with a gallery in LA and they sold some paintings, like right away. I remember it gave me a nice boost of confidence. But then didn't last. So yeah, went through a period where they did they gave me a show. I didn't I think I sold like one painting or something like that. It was a bit of a bit of a bomb. But um, but you know, I figured it out and started to kind of work my way into some level of consistency. But at first Yeah, it was I just tried to strategize as best I could and then just kind of went for it. And, and luckily, you know, you know, the roof didn't cave in. Like I didn't lose my lease all went okay. It worked out, right.

Laura Arango Baier: 19:33

Oh, I think it went better than all right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, you got lucky but Excuse me. See, now I'm the one with problems. You got lucky. But I think you were you were very strategic, which helped a lot. So kudos. I think that was Thank you.

Derek Harrison: 19:56

Yes, it's it was naive and arrogant and lucky. But yeah, some strategy too

Laura Arango Baier: 20:01

Hey, man, you know, to get away with certain things, you got to be a little arrogant, you know, you gotta, you gotta believe in yourself to a ridiculous extent because, you know, sometimes when when we do risky things like that we are most of the time our own cheerleader. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Cuz usually our families' like are you crazy.

Derek Harrison: 20:23

Yeah, I know. It's hard to support. That's decisions. But

Laura Arango Baier: 20:28

yeah, cuz it feels irresponsible. Especially you know, when we have this trope of like the starving artists, which, clearly you're not starving. So are

Derek Harrison: 20:37

you saying I'm overweight? Is that what you're implying?

Laura Arango Baier: 20:43

I think you're doing great. You have a roof over your head. You have a studio. You're not fat. For our listeners, he is not fat. You can watch the video. I promise. Thanks

Derek Harrison: 20:57

for clicking. I'm worried about the layers right to hold it against me.

Laura Arango Baier: 21:01

Well, I mean, also, if you do body build, though, you need to eat more calories. And that's expensive.

Derek Harrison: 21:08

Yeah. It's expensive to build muscle. Big time. Yeah. Holy crap.

Laura Arango Baier: 21:14

So expensive. And then also like paying for the gym? That's friggin expensive, too.

Derek Harrison: 21:21

Yes, yes. Yes. Yes. Get her account for that.

Laura Arango Baier: 21:25

Oh, yeah. Um, anyway. So one of the things that I'm I'm recently curious about in every person that I, you know, interview, is that that transitional phase from student to living artist? So I was curious, how, how did you manage that? How did you work through that transition?

Derek Harrison: 21:51

Hmm. That that's the hard part. When I teach classes now, I always try to caution students against that, like, it's going to be a bit of a rocky road. I remember when I saw I was I was doing these classes with with Jeremy King once a week. And then I went to the to take classes at the LA Academy of figurative art, just like I was saying, I needed stronger fundamentals. And there, those teachers were like, Okay, you're, you're in for a ride, like, it's going to be 10 years, where it's going to be really hard. And then if you do sort of succeed, you're not, it's going to be really hard to actually be like, rich, you'll never be rich, you know, it's not about the money. But I was always okay with that, like, I was just like, as long as, as long as I can make ends meet, and just keep paying, and just keep doing what I'm doing keep getting better than it was all okay. So it kind of always had my focus pointed in that direction, not really caring about much else. And I think that that was helpful. Again, I heard Daniel sprig say this one time that it is like being naive and arrogant, you know, at a young age, because, you know, like, I'm a little bit older. Now, I'm not sure if if I would make those same decisions, you know, just knowing the realities of the world, like, it seems so risky to do that. And you can get yourself into a real bind. So anyhow, I feel kind of grateful that I wasn't taking all that into consideration. But mostly the transition was, I think, at the heart of all of it, it's the work how good the work is, or how personal it is, people connect with it, if that's working, that things tend to take care of themselves, I think, to a large degree, I mean, there's still like a networking aspect to it. And I found some galleries that I really respected and tried to build relationships with them. And I did, it took a while before they took me on for, you know, representation, and all of that. Because I'm a pretty big fan of the gallery system. I know, not everybody is, but it's worked pretty well for me. And so you know, just sort of being like a professional, you know, you establish good relationships with people in the business in the industry, and they will want to help you and then you work together. And before you know it, you have a happy career. So, you know, getting out there and doing that sort of thing, which I know for a lot of students, a lot of artists, you know, there's a lot of introverts out there. I can totally understand that. Spend a lot of time in the studio alone, getting out there and going to dinners and events and openings and meeting people and talking with people. It's not the most natural, but boy does it help. I gotta say like the the results that I have gotten from doing that stuff. It's I wouldn't, you know, wouldn't be able to do all this without it. So very helpful. Very good to do that.

Laura Arango Baier: 24:37

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I feel like a lot of artists, they, they don't realize that, you know, to succeed in this career, you have to do the job of like, 10 people.

Derek Harrison: 24:51

Yeah, you're totally right. 100%

Laura Arango Baier: 24:54

Yeah. Oh, it can be so crazy, because it's like you have to be your own bookkeeper. Write your own administrator, your own work manager, photographer, editor. Yeah. And then of course, you have to be able to talk to people. And that's like you said, you know, a lot of us are introverts, and it can be so challenging to build relationships. Unless, you know, it does happen. Sometimes we're like some unicorn artists has like, a work that somehow, you know, just reach a certain people, and they don't say a single word. And they don't have an Instagram, they have anything and they're fine, you know?

Derek Harrison: 25:37

Right. Yes.

Laura Arango Baier: 25:38

Yeah, I wish I knew. Yeah. But you know, for for everyone else, it's very common that we do have to take risks. And I also agree, I think it's great to take those risks, when you're not aware of how risky they are.

Derek Harrison: 25:55

What I'm pretty, that's familiar territory for you, as well, because you came out of the academic system. And then now you're hosting a podcast, you know, that doesn't just happen to you, you must have made certain decisions to make this all happen.

Laura Arango Baier: 26:08

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, it's like, it is a little bit of networking, as well, you know, like how it happened to actually, I would say a lot of the best things in an academic in the academic world and in painting, and in the art world is networking. I think it's very underestimated for a lot of people how important is, and it's also, you know, that Right place, right time, right preparedness, and I that's what I think luck is, is just being prepared at the right place at the right time. And you talk to the right person. Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah. So that's, that's kind of how I landed on the podcast, I just spoke to someone. And that led to one thing and led to another and then here I am, you know, and, thankfully, is what fuels my practice right now. Because I'm in that very complicated transitional stage of figuring out my stuff, you know, like figuring out what I like and how I want to represent myself through my work. And that's a very challenging phase, you know? Yeah, because it's like, it's the cocoon self discovery phase where like, I, it's like, I really don't want to talk to anyone. When I'm in my studio, right, when I'm in my studio, it's like, no, I'm figuring this shit out. And that's another stage. There's so many, just to being an artist,

Derek Harrison: 27:37

and it keeps changing these stages. They're always evolving.

Laura Arango Baier: 27:41

Yes, yeah. And the like, seamlessly, like, just go into the next, which is really fascinating. And I know, I didn't actually send you this question, but how did you handle the like, how did you figure out you know, like, this, this is what my thing is, you know, this is my voice. How did you figure that out?

Derek Harrison: 28:01

Well, I mean, to be honest, I'm still not sure that I feel like I figured that out. I'm not sure if I ever will. It's just I try. I think about it all the time. As, as I'm sure we all do, like, what? What do I like? Why do I like it? Where are these ideas coming from? How much of it is outside influence, you know, stuff that I see that I really like? And how much of it's, you know, emulation, how much of it's really like a true expression. And then the other, like, annoying voice in the back of my head is, you know, like, who's going to connect with this? Like, what audience is going to connect with this? Is it sellable? Will nobody care about it? So it's like a constant battle. There usually are things that I know for sure, I want to express in pain, whether it's like an emotion like, like, for example, there's a painting, like if anybody, if if you're on my website is called via cone, Dios, it's this woman who's holding her hand out, and this guy's walking away from her. And it's kind of like a Western knee piece. So just like as an example, okay, like I that was, I was going through something with somebody who I was really close with, and we parted ways. And so I was like, like, maybe I can put this in like a western genre, like it almost like a filmmaker could make like a Crime, Comedy, whatever. I was, like, How can I tell the story? And I was like, Sure, like sort of a western genre. I went to this location where I had been playing are painting a bunch. It was really beautiful at sunset. And I was like, that's going to amplify the mood if it has a sunset color scheme. And then I found models, you had interesting looks, and I brought them out there and kind of compose this whole scene, where she's holding her hand out, he's walking away, you know, sort of telling this story, but the root of it was just my own experience and and had to sort of convey it in an interesting visual way. So, but that was just one painting a lot of the time. It's, it's, I'm just out somewhere. And it's an inspiring landscape. And so I paint it simply for that reason I have models come to my studio every Sunday, I do like a little group here where anybody can come paint. So I'll meet people that way. And a lot of times, I'll, you know, like, I'll see them on the ICO, I could see them as this character, or as this, this type of a painting with this color scheme, wearing this outfit, or whatever, whatever. So to start working out of that, to get something, I think through all of these processes, they're all very much me and who I am. So I feel like they're honest expressions. And then I try and make it a good, well painted, nicely designed work of art. And my hope is that people will connect with that. And that will kind of make it all work, but it still feels experimental. Every day. I mean, I paint every day, but I'm always looking for new and better ways to create something more interesting. And yeah, I definitely don't feel like I've gotten there yet. You know, I look at a painting like Solomon, J. Solomon's Samsung. Are you sure you're familiar with

Laura Arango Baier: 31:19

all the paintings? Amazing? Yeah, it's

Derek Harrison: 31:21

unbelievable. Like it to me. It's like the epitome of what I want to create. It's like this dramatic, amazing multi figure scene that is so well painted. So well composed. But yeah, and then I look at my work, I'm like, it's not even close. Like, I've got to figure out how to make something that's going to impact people like that. And it's it's a process like, like for Solomon, J. Solomon. I mean, he was such a master, he did that painting. And then, like a Jackson, Cassandra is another one that I really love. So it's like, you know, in his lifetime, that's like, two masterpieces. And he's done a lot of other amazing paintings, of course, but But anyhow, so I'm striving for something like that. And I'm hoping through the process of striving for that, that it will, you know, it will always be genuine, you know, I'm not really trying to do anything other than other than that, and then, of course, always to get better, technically, and so on and so forth. But, yes, yes, that's my plan for that.

Laura Arango Baier: 32:18

I like that. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'm on the same boat of like, you know, always and this is something that I think every artist should be doing. And that is always you should always be looking at the Masters. And it's, it's very controversial to to be like to compare, you know, your work to like Rembrandt, for example, or compare your work to like DaVinci. It almost feels like today that's like, illegal. You know, it's like, no, you can't do that. But we have to write because how else are we going to improve? They did the same thing in their time, they were looking at their old masters, I'm like, How do you do it? I'm going to do that too, you know. So yeah, like, that's, that's a very good. So it's a good way to keep you, keep you working, as for sure. Now, more than ever, it's crucial to have a website when you're an artist, especially if you want to be considered a professional in your career. Thankfully, with our special link forward slash podcast, 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, ecommerce 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 by going to our special link forward slash podcast. That's f a s Forward slash podcast. BoldBrush would also like to give a huge thank you and shout out to Chelsea classical studio for their continued support in this podcast. If you're interested in archival painting supplies that are handmade with a lot of patience, then go check out their Instagram at CCS fine art materials.

Derek Harrison: 34:33

Yeah, yeah, well, it helps. I think it helps to keep standards high, you know, like you can get lost in your own world of your own work. And I've, I've had that happen where like, I'll be pretty happy with a painting that I do and then it won't be totally like maybe a year later, I see it next to like a really great painting by an old master and I'm like, okay, there are some clear differences here. What are they? You know, I mean, I try not to be too hard on myself, but there also needs to be a level of being realistic like that and you don't want to, you know, compare yourself. But I feel like you can compare your experience of what you see in a in a painting. So that's kind of what I'm what I'm aiming for. And yeah, I would imagine it's a healthy thing.

Laura Arango Baier: 35:13

Yeah, yeah, I think it's very healthy. And then also, it is it's, it's it is like, you know, gently comparing yourself because I mean, like you said, you can't also be like, so girl, because it's also worth it to remember that these people didn't have to go to school. They literally just straight from like, childhood, they went into Atelier as they went into, like, actual, like, places where they were trained to do what they know best. So they had all of their formative years and like, like they by the age of like, 20, they were already masters, basically, because that's all they were doing. They don't have to worry about calculus, or they were worrying.

Derek Harrison: 35:59

That's a good distinction to make. It's easy to forget that.

Laura Arango Baier: 36:03

Yeah. And that's like,

Derek Harrison: 36:05

you, you do fall into that category. You started at such a young age and got into it, so you know, your leg.

Laura Arango Baier: 36:14

Oh, no, but the masters are still way ahead, way, way ahead. I mean, I mean, the VINCI started sketching, like, there's a legend really, he apparently like made this drawing of a cat. That was so realistic, it scared his own father. Yeah. I don't remember where I heard that. But that's one of the reasons why they also like put him to study with God, I forget the name of his master right now. I'm blanking. But he did start studying at a ridiculously young age, to sketch and to draw and to paint and to do all these things. I think by age 12 He was already like, set like, yeah, this Yeah.

Derek Harrison: 36:54

Already. 12 Well, yeah, that sounds fair. I wish it was still like that, you know, we're, like art was appreciated at that level, but such as life. I know, the guy who runs the art department at the school. I teach it at Lofa His name is Leon Okun, he went to the rep and Academy. Are you familiar with what's going on there? Dude, it's crazy. Yeah. Like, she just like, it's like being becoming a doctor, you know, they still look at it. Like, it's no wonder those professions are so good, you know, because they have

Laura Arango Baier: 37:26

100%. I mean, I thought about applying to their program at one point, but then I was like, seven years? And I'm like,

Derek Harrison: 37:33

Yeah, I know, it's hard to justify that, like a seven year program, and you would probably make what a doctor makes. I mean, not that it's like all of that money or whatever. But if you're gonna sacrifice that much of your life, you know, it's hard nowadays to come out into, you know, good luck, good luck selling a painting. You know, good luck selling the painting on Instagram, and maybe a gallery will represent you, you know, it'll take years or whatever. But yeah, it's tough business.

Laura Arango Baier: 38:00

It is. Yeah, it is. And I think in part, you know, in the perspective of like, sociology, it's also been, like, the craziest 30 years in humanity. You know, like, you would think World War One and Two are like, oh, yeah, this is this is the curtain No. This the world of the internet has completely revolutionized everything. And I think it's also costly get disenchantment in the like, in only seeing like, abstract and like all of these like art forms that took over after World War Two. Now, we're like, in a bit of a revival, like a renaissance 2.0 is Clint Watson likes to put it of, you know, this revival of the appreciation for the figurative, which it's interesting. It's almost like a return to humanism, which, we'll see where that goes. Yeah, it's nice to

Derek Harrison: 38:59

see that it's going in that direction. What did you know, when you were at GCA? What is their feeling about all of that? You know, because it seems like they're really trying to prepare the next generation, are they? You know, are they hopeful, optimistic about that?

Laura Arango Baier: 39:14

I'm not 100% sure that that's something they really worry about. Because they have such a huge influx of students, they get so many applications a year that I don't think they worry too much about not getting students or because like, with all of these academic schools, actually, it's it's become a priority to simply pass it on. And it's become like exponential, right. So like, there are students who, who like, for example, like Shane Wolf, he studied at Angel Academy and he started a school in Paris. I'm not sure if it's survived a pandemic, but there are a lot of students ones who have gone to these earlier early academies, and they've started their own schools. And and then there are more schools popping up and more schools popping up. So I think it's not necessarily something they worry about, because it feels like it's being taken care of on its own, if that makes sense. Yeah, like, definitely, even if some people like fall through the cracks, you know, and maybe they they quit painting after going to one of these activities, there's still like, five, or like, 10%, who started their own schools or started taking on their own students. And that, you know, they disseminate all of that important stuff that we almost completely lost in the 20th century. So, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Derek Harrison: 40:42

Well, yeah, that's, that's cool. That's good to hear. I didn't realize I didn't know that there was so much interest in going to that school. I mean, it makes sense. The training that you get there is incredible.

Laura Arango Baier: 40:52

It's, it's almost it's, it's a great method. Right? You, you learn what you need, but sometimes it can, I would even warn people that it could be, like, almost like a crutch. Because, yeah, because once you finish school, I don't know if you've noticed that, you know, when someone goes to a specific school, they all paint the same. Yeah. Yeah. Well,

Derek Harrison: 41:24

that's always the that's always the critique about like, GCA or those schools, you know, but yeah, how do you I do have a feeling about that, but I would be curious to hear yours. What's your thought on that?

Laura Arango Baier: 41:35

Um, well, in my opinion, you know, it's, it's comfortable. Like, because I've felt this way, the first few paintings I did after I graduated, I was comfortable. It was like, you know, you have a formula, you have a thing that's that you know, exactly how it's going to be. And you do it. And you always get the same results. Right? So it's, in my opinion, it's just a place of comfort, which is why I'm personally like going through a phase of unlearning of experimenting. Yeah. Like forcing myself to, like, step out of that. challenge myself to use entirely different pressures, or an entirely different palette or something, because you can't grow if you're comfortable.

Derek Harrison: 42:26

Yeah, that's a good point. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 42:28

So what's your theory?

Derek Harrison: 42:30

Well, I always feel like it's better than the alternative, you know, to not have that, that skill set. And then when you see somebody who goes through that program, and then does do their own thing, it's like absurd, like, well, St. John comes to mind. You know, it's like, he, you can tell he's academically trained, but he's really taken it to another place or calling Barry like his wife, you know, same thing with her, you know, her work is so different, so unique, but it's so good. And with all those, the students who come out of there, if you can, like transcend the, the sort of standards where everybody's at, then it's like, you're really doing something special. So I think I feel like that's better than not doing it. Like, if I could go back, I would definitely go to a school like that. And, yeah, I've been on the West Coast, there's really there's Lofa which has like an element of academic trading. But out here on the West Coast, there's like impressionism is just like rampant. You know, there's a lot of Impressionist painters out here, which is cool. I like that too. But you miss a lot of the, what I would consider to be pretty important knowledge, you know, anatomy, of course, form rendering, all that kind of stuff. So I guess there's no like perfect solution to it. But I would say it seems like that's the best option available today. But then you really do have to work hard internally to work out if that so it's interesting to hear that you're struggling with that or I mean, that that you're struggling with it, but you're working on it. You're going through Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 44:03

Yeah. I mean, it can feel like a struggle sometimes. And I do agree it is. It is it is better to have a good foundation than to start completely blind. Especially if your goal is something like Solomon J. Solomon Wright, who was of course academically trained, and friggin amazing, and even wrote a book in case you're ever interested in reading it. He wrote a book on oil painting. So by it's a great book, um, it's worth a reread.

Derek Harrison: 44:37

Um, but no, I read through it once and I was like, I need to reread this again. I'm not sure I'm comprehending all of it. Because yeah, it's it's an interesting it's like a class in the book, which can be hard to ingest but still very cool. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 44:50

Yeah. And then also, it's like you have to read it and then put it into practice as well and then reread it to see if you missed anything because it's like, this is I mean, it's a thick book. First of all, but also like, the I feel like it's like an iceberg. Where like, the book is this big, but the knowledge you got is like,

Derek Harrison: 45:10

oh, yeah, yeah, true. Yeah, it is deceiving, right? It's like small little book. There's not a lot of there's no color reproduction thinner or anything. The opposite of Richard Schmidt's book, which those two are probably my favorites. I love alla prima too. That was, that's an inspiring book to read. I'm sure you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Laura Arango Baier: 45:29

Yes, I did. I think I think I might have read that one twice. Also, because it's, I, that's one of the things that I first did once I got out of economic school was Alabama, because you don't really get that. You don't really get that in academic school. You mostly like specifically like juicy Washington Angel Academy, too. It's, it's a lot of long term painting, like you, you're working on the same painting for a month, sometimes. And that can be in my opinion, it's detrimental. I feel like if you can paint a lot do it. Because by the time you reach the end of your painting, and you're gonna start the next one, you already forgot what you needed to learn, if that makes sense. Yeah,

Derek Harrison: 46:18

I think it was Richard Schmidt, who said more starts are more valuable than like a long painting, you know, if you do 10 starts rather than like a 10 hour painting, or whatever, you know.

Laura Arango Baier: 46:28

makes it so that was yeah, that was my inspiration to challenge myself to do our payment. Because it's not something you learned academic school, and academic school. It's very long term. Okay, do this section and do this section is very, like, slow. Yeah, but I, I think I retain information better when I'm forced, at least like Richard Schmidt to like, do it and do it and do it and do it. Because, um, it's like, oh, we can even compare it to it's almost like, like, if you were going to the gym, like once a week, versus going to the gym every day and training different parts of your body, right? That's what I would compare it to you get more results than if you just train once a week? Yeah, yeah, that's

Derek Harrison: 47:18

a good analogy doesn't make a lot of sense.

Laura Arango Baier: 47:21

Yeah. Yeah. Like, you can't, you can't get six pack abs if you're just getting the gym one. So

Derek Harrison: 47:26

very true. I wish.

Laura Arango Baier: 47:31

Oh, man. But yeah, yeah. And then I'm sure that you also, from my experience with like, finding GC, I'm sure you also found a lot of these schools through social media. Right. Yeah. Like, thanks to social media. I mean, I remember I was an angel Academy. And then I heard about GCA when I was at Angel Academy through social media, because I was like, how do they do it? You know, it's like, This is

Derek Harrison: 47:54

amazing. So true. That's my experience. I really,

Laura Arango Baier: 47:59

yeah. Um, but aside from, you know, finding these amazing schools, I think it's also you know, social media has become such a great tool for us artists to find collectors and to find fans of our work. So I wanted to know, how do you use social media to collect with to collect social media? I think the time social media collect Social How do you use social media to find collectors?

Derek Harrison: 48:34

Well, I love social media for that reason, you know, there's a lot of negatives to it, of course. But yeah, if you manage it, well, it's just like anything, you know. It's just it's, you know, if you handle it responsibly, it can be an amazing thing. I have connected with many collectors through Instagram. I started to do I do a studio sale once a year now that's only on Instagram that does, you know, great. There have been, I It's hard to keep track. Like there have been so many shows where it's been with a gallery, but the the collector who bought the painting, found it through my own Instagram account. So I remember at first it was like, you know, are these collectors because, you know, a lot of them are a little bit older. So they're not going to be like super social media savvy. But lo and behold, I found a lot of them were creating Instagram accounts, just for that reason, you know, to follow artists whose work they like. And so they started to reach out and yeah, I communicate with them all the time. You know, maybe every week somebody messages about some painting, know where it's going, how much it is, whatever it may be, so it's really nice to have that. That connection and have it be so easy, so direct. I sell through Instagram a little bit. I still like I gotta tell you like I kind of prefer the gallery world for that. You know, I'd just love to be in a studio painting. I don't really want to worry about much else if I can help it. So every once in a while Do the Instagram selling thing, but most of the time I, I do prefer if I can just paint and then and then send it out, you know and have the gallery handle that. But, but marketing and all that kind of stuff, connecting with other artists, it's really helpful. When you know, Instagram, I can just link it right up to my website. So a lot of people will maybe find me on Instagram and then go to my website, and they wouldn't have found my website otherwise. So that's pretty helpful. But yeah, I love it. I mean, I just try not to spend too much time on it, I guess. But I find it to be very useful for that. And then also very inspiring for looking at other work what other people are doing. Yeah, it's a good thing in my world.

Laura Arango Baier: 50:45

Yeah. Yeah. And it's great that now there are collectors who are making Instagrams who are older. Because, yeah, because it's so it's so fascinating. Because like, you know, there's like, I feel like there's this separation, right? There's like the older art collectors who they mostly work through galleries. And then there's like, the younger collectors who work with Instagram, right to find artists. But I like that now. It's mixing.

Derek Harrison: 51:17

Yes. Yeah, most definitely. I remember I did the little like plein air painting of this rose garden out here by the Michigan, you know, these California emissions. And, you know, this older person is older couple saw the painting and and they were like, Oh, we got married there, we want to buy it. And you know, they had never used social media before they got on it to follow a few of their favorite painters, and happen to see that painting of mine. And it was a piece that I was just doing for fun. And now they're you know, it's they're a collector of my work now. So that was such a great example of how that worked. And yeah, it wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Laura Arango Baier: 51:56

Interesting. Do you ever sometimes feel this is like a little bit out of like the just from hearing that. You ever feel like sometimes you make a painting for someone without knowing you made a painting for someone? That isn't by it?

Derek Harrison: 52:12

I'm not sure if I've ever thought about it that way. But I like a phrase that there's there's That's fascinating. Yeah, there's definitely there have definitely been some cases where people have connected with a piece and it's super personal to them, or their own. This was an interesting recent little tidbit. I did this pain of a girl sitting on some rocks, looking at some fog coming in over the mountains. And this woman saw it in the gallery. And the gallery owner said brought tears to her eyes. She said she was living in New York five years previous to this had a dream about that very same scene. She was in the dream. She actually wrote me this whole, like paragraph description about how much she connected with it. So in that case, yeah, I was I feel like I was just the conduit of, you know, conveying this, this piece that was personal to her. And that was that was pretty interesting. You know, and I've had that happen. Not not maybe not that deep. But similar stories like that have happened before. So yeah, again, there could be something to that there's some sort of some sort of connection there.

Laura Arango Baier: 53:18

Fascinating. That's also really trippy. I mean, if I dreamt about something, and I saw it on a painting, I'd be like,

Derek Harrison: 53:24

yeah. Yes, yeah, for sure. Yeah, it's interesting. How that works.

Laura Arango Baier: 53:33

Yeah. Oh, my God. Now I kind of want to go into like Carl Jung and like the collective unconscious, but

Derek Harrison: 53:41

I know you can go down a deep, long rabbit hole when you start thinking about that sort of thing. Yes. Yeah, it is fascinating. Yeah, I usually don't go down the rabbit hole, but I consider it. Maybe I will one day. Yeah, kidding. Yeah. roid all that fun stuff.

Laura Arango Baier: 53:58

Yeah. I mean, the conversation I had with Clint and Christopher Remmers. Last week was pretty trippy. And Wolf. Because we talked about entropy. Oh, interesting. Oh, that was it's gonna be so good. I mean, by the time that this episode is out, that episode is already out. So if you guys haven't heard the Christopher Remmers and entropy episode that's broken. I had so much fun.

Derek Harrison: 54:25

Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, definitely a rabbit hole. Very cool. Very cool. Nothing like a good rabbit hole.

Laura Arango Baier: 54:32

It it really takes it to another level because like, just you know, really quick, it's like, there's like in order for us to create and to make beautiful work, you know, we have to feel some sort of inspiration right? Not always but I feel like are we came to the conclusion that the best work usually is inspired work. And usually it is work that As a percentage that has opened itself to chaos, just so fast. Yeah. Yeah. Yes. Oh, that's just like the tip of the iceberg or the actual whole conversation. Um, and then also applying it to social media and how like, you know, social media is also like, chaotic, but often Oh,

Derek Harrison: 55:24

yeah. How do you deal with that? And in that context, are you a fan? Do you like it? Or do you think it's good?

Laura Arango Baier: 55:31

I think, you know, and I've said this before, it's a double edged sword. It's useful. And I think I have sold in the majority of my work, actually, through Instagram, which is really great in terms of, you know, like using it as a tool. I think it's a great tool to use, but in terms of it being a hole full of nightmares, it can be,

Derek Harrison: 55:55

can be Yeah, but I guess anything could.

Laura Arango Baier: 55:57

Yeah. Yeah. If you if you let it take over your life. Yes, absolutely. And it can be very distracting. very distracting. And like you said, Actually, earlier, you had mentioned how much of my work is just because I saw it. Right. Just because I saw someone else do that thing. And I thought it was cool. It's like, you have to put away those things. And that can be really challenging. When you have social media in front of you. Yeah.

Derek Harrison: 56:28

Yeah, for sure. No, that can be tricky. Yeah, that's, that's super distracting. Or yeah, you'll you'll see some cool like landscape, and maybe you're working on a figurative painting, and all of a sudden, like, Oh, I gotta do something like that. Because I'm so inspired by it. And, yeah, I know that there's, there's a lot of distractions that come along with it. How about your website? Do you keep that up to date, and that repost most of what you're up to?

Laura Arango Baier: 56:52

Share? Haven't have it updated? If I'm being honest,

Derek Harrison: 56:57

I'm on the same page. I think, like it's just that studio time working on your work. That's the focus. That's what's most important, not the other stuff is you have to do it, but takes a backseat.

Laura Arango Baier: 57:08

Yes. And this is actually a really great segue to my next question, which is, how do you handle the administrative side?

Derek Harrison: 57:17

Yeah, I, I hate that side of it, as I think everybody does. Like, I always think if I had, you know, like enough money, I would hire somebody to do all of that for me. Maybe someday, anyhow, I have built a bit of like, a routine with my day, so that I, because it would be I think it'd be impossible if I was just like, I, I'll take care of it here and there, or whatever. So I structure it as, like, I kind of live like every day the same for the most part, and very routine, which is nice. So I a lot, two hours in the morning, every day. Like I'll like I have breakfast, and I'll read bark books, and all that kind of stuff. And then I'll sit down. And I'll go through all emails, correspondence with galleries, shows, whatever, cataloguing images, you know, website, updates, whatever, but just two hours every day. And then after that is when I you know, paint or do everything else. So it's not even on my mind, I don't think about it at all anymore. I just tried to get it out of the way, get it done. And then on to what I really want to do. And that does seem to work pretty well. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 58:27

Exactly. It's, it's very efficient. And personally, this I resonate with this because I also started making a routine, like a daily routine to get my stuff done. Because I unfortunately, have ADHD. So if I get an A painting, I will hyper focus forget to eat. Forget that I actually had to turn something in I don't know, like, maybe like, finish out a new podcast or some interview questions or something. So I need a routine. So I think I might, I might do that too, or have a lot like, a little extra time to my website, because I haven't done.

Derek Harrison: 59:05

Yeah, that's a good, it's so effective. I even find myself like I'll be painting I'll be immersed in opinion. I'll be like, oh, shoot, like, it's eight o'clock is dinner time, I got to take a dinner break, you know, and I'll be I remember hanging out with a friend one time and he was telling me about some exciting thing going on or some movie out. And I was like, oh, yeah, I can't wait to like, I get a day off. And I can go do that. And he's like, What are you talking about? He's like, a day off. He's like, You can do whatever you want every day. And I just forget, like, I have this schedule. I have these hours. You know, I stick to that. Because if I didn't, I'd be lost, you know. So I have to do that and makes it makes it so much easier.

Laura Arango Baier: 59:42

Yeah, and then you know what, that that brings up a pet peeve of mine, which I'm pretty sure a lot of artists can relate and that is your friends who are not artists think that you're literally doing nothing.

Derek Harrison: 59:54

Yeah, God. You cannot say that again. That's so true, everybody and family, whatever, like most people, like they're respectful of it. But yeah, they just don't really understand. You know, I remember this funny story, I think it was Julio Reyes, you know, his work. He was talking about how. So Julio raised like this very successful artists does amazing work, you know, he's gone pretty far. And I guess he has a pretty successful family or maybe it's his wife's family. So when they're family get togethers, they're all they view, Julio, and his wife is like these bohemian artists who are just out there having fun, like, they're not, as you know, like, important as the doctors in the family or whatever, and that and then he'll go to like a conference, where he's giving a speech, and they will be so well respected. You know, he talks about sort of living in these two worlds, where a lot of times, yeah, the general public, they don't really understand, you know, like, how brilliant he is, for example, you know, but then he goes to his, you know, his, his group of people, He's highly esteemed and I mean, not that, like, we need to be so highly esteemed or whatever. But, you know, just some level of understanding. There's a lot of preconceived notions and misunderstandings, and seems to be how it is.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:01:12

Yeah, yeah, it happens to me, sometimes, really, someone will ask me like, Oh, do you want to go do this now? And I'm like, my work time. Like, Saturday morning, it's my day off like, I'm off Saturday, Sunday, and we get to Saturday.

Derek Harrison: 1:01:32

You probably get your friends calling you. But like, if you were at your, your, if you were at work, you probably wouldn't get called in the middle of the day, you know, they know Oh, she's at work, you know. So that happens a lot, too. You know, I always feel like as a guy, don't be such like an asshole. But I gotta tell people, like I'm, I'm working mine, you know,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:01:51

gotta pay the bills, gotta pay the bills. Can't pay the bills have you're telling me I'm you know, let's go to the movies. Right? So

Derek Harrison: 1:02:00

our focus is is so crucial. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:02:04

Yes. Especially when you're like in a painting or like you're working in like a specific part of a painting and you're worried about the drying time, and then also like the order of how you're going to do something. And then if you're thrown off of that, like, sometimes I come back to a painting like oh, I didn't do the thing. Yeah, yep. Oh, source source. Like an academic school was usually like, I forgot to fan brush my painting. I'm gonna ah, like when you had to join parts of a painting and like you didn't fan brush it.

Derek Harrison: 1:02:43

There, it'd be a nightmare. Oh, I

Laura Arango Baier: 1:02:45

was the worst. Yeah. Especially because again, it was like such a slow process. It was like, I couldn't get it. Yeah, it's hard. Because like, you get this like curse edge, especially when it's like background and like the figure, right? Sometimes if you get like a bit of an edge of like, leftover paint in between, right? Get rid of it before the next day, or else you're going to have a cursed edge. And it's never gonna go away.

Derek Harrison: 1:03:15

I do hate seeing those types of edges and paintings. You know, I have a friend who takes a big piece of paper and he'll put it on the wet painting surface and press it all down, if he's gonna go back into it was fascinating. But yeah, yeah, that's a technical aspect of painting. I like as much of a hassle as that is. I feel like if you can get that stuff, right, that's when it's like, it really sort of sings You know, like, you look at a painting and like, that's really well done. And really well thought out. I feel like it's a good game of chess that that person played, you know, they thought through every step and yeah, I always enjoy that.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:03:54

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it does feel like a game of chess. That's a really good analogy. Because you're especially when it's, yeah, especially when it's like a long term painting, right? It takes multiple sittings. Right? It definitely like, and especially if you're going to be glazing. Or you really have to plan should

Derek Harrison: 1:04:16

you have to strategize. You got to make the right moves. So that five days later, you know, you can make the next right move.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:04:22

Yep. Or else?

Derek Harrison: 1:04:24

Yes, yes. But when it's well done, boy, does it work. Well.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:04:29

I 100% agree. I hope people can can get some good techniques, stuff from the conversation as well. Yeah, that's

Derek Harrison: 1:04:36

true. That's probably the most interesting thing too. I gotta say, at least for us, you know, to listen to a podcast that you're hearing all the technical notes and everything like that. It's pretty cool.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:04:45

Yeah, it's fascinating. Um, because it's like every every artist has like, it's almost like you find a solution, right for something and maybe someone's struggling with that exact same thing. Like

Derek Harrison: 1:04:58

yeah, no problem. So, a lot of problem solving units, painting is just filled with problem solving. A lot of people they'll ask me if my works like indirect, you know, like layered and everything very much in alla prima went into what type of a painter interested Works section section. And I do have to strategize about how to, you know, not have all these hard edges, or dry layers of paint. That can be tricky. I've heard some tricks Some painters do is they'll put paintings in their freezer, so that they don't dry overnight. And that works pretty well. But yeah, there's something to that freshness. You know, like, it's nice when a painting is fresh and feels more alive like that, rather than, like overworked. And there's, there's a fine line, for sure.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:05:47

Very fine line, I agree. And, you know, it also goes a little bit back into that inspiration, part two, where it feels like, it's so easy to overwork a painting that's to plant out, you know, but when you let that little bit of chaos in, and you just like don't perfectly plant it completely, but you you leave, you just leave a little bit of space of like, playing around. It can kind of like prevent you from overworking. Because you're forced to like, Okay, this, this is gonna work. Or like, you suddenly get like, Ah, I found the solution for this one space that I intentionally left blank. Yeah,

Derek Harrison: 1:06:33

yeah, you're right. No, that's, that's important. I do have a little bit of a strategy for that as well. Like earlier in the day, I paint, like a little bit sharper, you know, earlier in the day, that tired. And then so I'll work on stuff that requires that level of focus at that time of the day, and then I'll enjoy a beverage or two, and then I'll paint in the evenings. And I will, it's like a completely different mentality. It's like a whole different consciousness. And I'll be way less careful. And sometimes I'll make mistakes. And I will be upset with myself, but sometimes good things come a bit. So it's kind of cool, though, like, play around with that a little bit, you know, did not always paint when you're in the same mental capacity. You know, it's nice to have a variety in there.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:07:19

Yeah, yeah, that's a way of letting that chaos. It's pretty cool. Yes.

Derek Harrison: 1:07:24

That's what the chaos you want the yin and yang, right? You want the balance? Do you want a little bit of chaos? A little bit of order? If you can get those two balanced? I think that's a good thing.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:07:33

Yes. And the painting will also appreciate it. It's like, that's where it breeds if that makes sense. For sure. Yeah, absolutely. That's where the life comes. Oh, yeah. Um, yes. Um, so do you have any wisdom for young artists, we're just getting out of school, and maybe they want to start, you know, they want to find a way to make money from their work. But they're literally just out of school, which is probably a lot of our listeners as well. Do you have any words of wisdom for them?

Derek Harrison: 1:08:12

I wish there was like a clear path to take, you know, that could get you to where you want to go. Because I've seen you know, I've seen stories that are all over the place, like I've seen people do it one way and then do it another. The way that I did it was networking with galleries and trying to do good work. But there is an inherent problem to that. Because most good gallery, like what I would consider to be a good gallery that has a good reputation. They show they represent the same artists most most of the time for their lifetime. You know, so it's like they represent 30 artists. So it's pretty rare that they're going to have room for somebody new. My words of wisdom, are there a tremendous amount of problems, and I would advise against it. But if you if you really want to, well, like it's it's you can't stop it against like you you're so passionate about you're going to do it no matter what. So as far as something that's helpful, definitely, like we were saying, Get out of your comfort zone, constantly challenge yourself. But I still, I still thoroughly believe at the heart of all of it. It's if the work is really well done. Like if you studied if you've worked hard, if you understand good design, composition, interesting subject matter that most of the time I feel like will carry you through a lot of those hard times. And then all the other stuff. It's still important, but it's not as important is that? Yeah, of course, establishing an Instagram presence is helpful. You know, having a good rapport with collectors is helpful. seems obvious, but if I made some mistakes early on in my career, where I can tell you a brief story, I did a commission for this gentleman. Very nice guy. Very rich and And I did, he bought a bunch of my paintings. And then he commissioned me to do a big piece for his living room. And so I did the did the painting, and he came to pick it up. And his wife didn't like a number of things about it, and wanted me to change it. And bear in mind at the time I was in my early 20s, okay, nowadays, I would, at least I like to think I would handle the situation a little bit better than I did then. But, um, you know, maybe I was a little like prideful or something. And I was like, Okay, I'll make all these changes. I mean, I wasn't happy about it. But I was like, I'll make them I'm gonna have to charge you, you know, X, Y, and Z in order to do it. And they didn't want to do that. They were like, We you should have done this the first time around, you know, we kind of fought back and forth about it, ended up getting a letter from their attorney that they were going to take me to court over the matter. Yes, that's always a fun experience to go through. Oh, so? Oh, yeah. Yeah, I didn't see that one coming either from him. But then I came to find out, he was a very litigious fellow who had done this a number of times to other people. And it was very much a power, sort of a situation, you know, I'm not even sure if it was about anything other than that. So I talked to a lawyer, and he was like, you know, how much money does this guy have? And I was like, no, he's a multi millionaire. And he was also, he's also pretty well known has a lot of like, celebrity friends. And I did a painting for this musician that he set up for me, you know, anyhow, influential individual. And he was like, Well, how much money? Do you have to go up against them? And I was, like, might have a couple $100? In my account right now? I don't know. And, yeah, so he's like, yeah, just just do the, you know, fix the painting, make the changes. And, and so I did, but it did sort of ruin that relationship with him. And then he again, he was very well connected, had a lot of friends. And he had hooked me up with a lot of paintings before that. And it kind of severed that relationship. So in hindsight, regardless of how I felt, you know, I should have swallowed my pride for sure. And, you know, that's just life, you have to deal with people like that sometimes, you know, not everybody's going to be fair. But the solution there is, is Yeah, to not let your emotions get the better of you, you know, to not, but yeah, I should have just handled it differently. And I still would have had him as a collector. And, like, I could live with that, you know, you need collectors in your life to support your work, even if they are rude at times. But, you know, yeah, if you can avoid situations like that, which, you know, I have, that's not an entirely uncommon story, I have other friends who have experienced the same thing. Even painters who are, you know, really well known, and they have collectors who act like that with them. And you just have to sort of deal with it. So that you can sort of stay true to yourself, be a good person and all of that, but, yeah, you know, just understand the realities of the world, I guess.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:12:56

Yeah. Yeah, that's a tough one. Yeah. And that's, that's also the challenge with taking on commissions. And Michael John angel. I love that man. He actually, he was one of the highest paid portrait painters in North America for a long time. And he Yeah, and he, he knew how to handle like commissions. And I remember, he would give us like a lecture, every trimester to talk about that side, the business side of like taking on commissions, specifically for portraiture, because that was what he knew. And one of the things he said was, you're gonna get a lot of annoying, rich people, and they're gonna want to put their dog or their yachts or they're just do it. Just do, it's gonna be terrible. You're gonna feel like your life is like being sucked out of you. But you got to kind of do it.

Derek Harrison: 1:13:49

That is excellent advice. You're lucky that you got that early on. I wish I wouldn't have I learned that the hard way. But he's so right. You know, for sure. So,

Laura Arango Baier: 1:13:58

yeah, it's like if, unfortunately, and I'm, this is, this is so sad. But I'm going to compare it to like a contractor, right? You hire a contractor to do your kitchen or something. And you're like, if he does something and you want to change it, like, he has to change it. Your money part is the complicated part, because of course, I think a contractor would charge but

Derek Harrison: 1:14:21

yeah, I would think so. I think there's a little bit of a misconception to that what we're doing is like, you know, more important than, let's say, like construction work, but sometimes it sometimes it isn't, I mean, I have another good friend of mine who's constantly humbling me. He's like, Derek, you're just doing glorified wallpaper for these people, you know? And I'm like, yeah, that's, you know, like, I shouldn't it's not such this like, you know, highfalutin thing it can be between the two of them, and it's decorative. You know, they're pretty pictures to hang on the wall. But of course, to us, to me, it's this deep soulful experience. But yeah, I cannot I can also not forget that you know, I'm not like curing cancer with these paintings that are still just paintings. And you know, you know, again, there's like a balance there. But yeah, you want to get

Laura Arango Baier: 1:15:12

serious. It's custom wallpaper an exact size.

Derek Harrison: 1:15:21

Yeah. Oh, landscape painter, his name is Willow seat and he's the greatest guy like I love how he paints but he, he's the only person who I'll send my paintings to to critique because he gives me the most honest opinions. You know, he doesn't spare my feelings at all, which is so valuable. I love that.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:15:41

And that's another really great tip having other artists in your life again, networking, who you can trust to give you useful critiques that, you know, they might hurt, but hey, you can take it from them because you love them.

Derek Harrison: 1:15:59

Ya know, it's so helpful, it might be one of the most valuable things you can get. I mean, I to some extent, you have to take it with a grain of salt, because it's still somebody's opinion. But it's so helpful. I am lucky to have a few people like that. Who will Yeah, without a without a question or point out, you know, stuff that's wrong, or that I'm missing and, and I always think I'm so lucky to have that is so valuable. So it's a good thing. And a lot of those relationships did come through me taking a workshop with them. And then you know, we became friends. So it's nice. Yeah, it's nice to have those relationships.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:16:35

It's helpful. I completely agree. And now, I want to ask you, do you have any upcoming shows or workshops or any cool stuff that's happening?

Derek Harrison: 1:16:47

No, actually, there's a lot of fun stuff coming up. One out in New York at the salmagundi club, is a show that opens April. It's with Vanessa Roth fine art, you know, she does her Americans in Paris exhibitions, and this one sort of a crossover between fine art and fashion. So that is, yeah, that's very exciting. I'm gonna have four paintings in that. There's a cool ad about it in American art collector that comes out this month. And I was happy that I got a full page. And that was one of the pieces that's in the show. Yeah, very, very pleased with that. And then the California art club out here, they do a show once a year called The Golden metal exhibition. That's in July. So I'll have a piece there. And then I am doing a class at the Los Angeles Academy of figurative art in May and June. Usually what I teach there is just the full time program, but this class will be open to anybody. So you know, if there's anybody in that neck of the woods, you're free to join.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:17:49

Awesome. Oh, and where can people find your work?

Derek Harrison: 1:17:56

Well, my website, Derek Harrison, which I should say the FAFSA website, I've had that for 10 years. It is amazing. Like, I remember when I first got that website, I didn't have like a lot of money. So getting a website through a developer like that was a challenge. But they have that contest, the BoldBrush contest. And I got second place in that. And I think I got a free website for like a year. So that got things started. And it is it is I cannot recommend those highly enough because it makes it so easy for me to just upload work. I have a newsletter that connects all collectors and it's just the best. So that's a good place to go. And then of course, my Instagram is at Derrick Harrison art. And I tend to respond to any and all DM so feel free to contact me anytime. And another thing like if anybody's ever in Santa Barbara, California, which had no it's a smaller beach town up here, but I do have a live model who comes to sit on Sundays where I leave, it's open to anybody who wants to come paint. And a lot of you know, great painters had been up here and have painted the lungs. So it's a fun experience, you know? So

Laura Arango Baier: 1:19:08

networking experience, for sure. Awesome, thank you so much, Derek.

Derek Harrison: 1:19:16

Okay, yeah. Thank you. Laura is great to talk to you. And I love you quite a bit. So it's my pleasure.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:19:22

Thank you. Your work is awesome too. So it this was it. This was really fun conversation.

Derek Harrison: 1:19:28

Thank you. Yeah, definitely was. Yeah.

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