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The BoldBrush Show, Episode 36

Shawn Krueger - The Search for Quiet Beauty

Show Notes:

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On this episode we interviewed Shawn Krueger, a contemporary landscape painter who blends the American tonalist and arts & crafts traditions. While he currently lives in Grand Rapids, MI, it has been the mountains of Western North Carolina, the Lake Huron shoreline, or the woods (anywhere) that have become his more recent subject matter. In this episode we discuss his love of the tonalist movement, how he's found success within his niche by directly reaching out to his collectors, and how his dream of showing some of his tonalist work alongside the Tonalist society at the Salmagundi club has come true!

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Shawn Krueger: 0:00

People want to know why they're drawn to your work. They may have a sense they may want that confirmation. They might want a story that they can pass along at the dinner party when they have people over and over. Would you look at our new painting you know, or something.

Laura Arango Baier: 0:16

Welcome to 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 career, as well as others who are in careers tied to the arts in order to hear their advice and insights. On this episode, we interviewed Sean Krueger, a contemporary landscape painter who blends the American tonalist and arts and crafts traditions. While He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has been the mountains of western North Carolina, the lake here on the shoreline, or the woods anywhere that have become his more recent subject matter. In this episode, we discuss his love for the tonalist movement, how he's found success within his niche by directly reaching out to his collectors, and how his dream of sharing some of his tonalist work alongside the tonalist society at salmagundi club has come true due to a misunderstanding, which was my fault. This episode is releasing a week after the opening of the show. However, if you're still in New York City, and you wish to visit the salmagundi club to see some of Sean's paintings, you can still do so until this Sunday, May 7. Welcome Shawn to the BoldBrush show. How are you today?

Shawn Krueger: 1:33

Good. Well, I'm doing well. Bright and early for me. But it's good. It's good.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:39

It's great to have you. I know it's very early. So thank you for taking time out of your day to sit with me for this interview. So before we begin, do you mind telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?

Shawn Krueger: 1:55

Well, my name is Shawn Kruger, I'm a fairly traditional landscape painter, I see some things behind you. Or behind me. Rather, I kind of like to say that I've I've two areas of interest within my art, which one is tonalist painting, which again, you can kind of see. The other is arts and crafts, craftsman style design. This comes in it probably comes in more, more obvious with my framing choices. I'm lucky to know some incredibly talented Woodworkers. So I can design a thing and they'll make it for me, and it's amazing. And so that that that usually helps, but yeah, my art is, is kind of, I've always kind of looking at areas where those two points have commonality, I guess, is what I'm getting at with that. So

Laura Arango Baier: 2:55

I like that. I like that, you know, I think it's very sad when some painters leave the frame as a second thought. And I like that when I was looking at your paintings and how you put your paintings and even though I think you said in one interview that you prefer a certain type of wood and the way that a certain wood looks for it. I like that it's that attention to detail that completes the piece and I think it's very sad when some painters just leave the frame. It's like oh, it's it's fine.

Shawn Krueger: 3:28

So yeah, I mean, I think what we would speak of quartersawn white oak, which was sort of a kind of the wood of choice for the arts and crafts a lot of the arts and crafts furniture makers and bring people I don't find myself all that excited about that traditional black with gold lip frames that a lot of the galleries want now galleries know their audience and I always say none of the galleries are in the painting storage business, they're in the selling business. So I mean, I definitely trust them and there's many times when the black the black with gold is the right choice. But But I know for me yeah, it's sort of it's it's something that I feel more in tune with. I'm painting a lot of trees. So having a natural wood seems to make sense to me. I also think on some level it may be for a gallery that's interested in sort of sets ad sets my work a little bit apart from the other you know, the other woman painting trees or or something you know, I don't know, I we all look for different ways to you know, we're all doing essentially the same thing that we look for Ways to set ourselves apart I guess maybe,

Laura Arango Baier: 5:02

yeah, yeah, we all have a specific vision for our work and how we want it to be presented. And yeah, I agree. It's kind of it's a, it's disappointing when, when galleries try to, I mean, they sell like is that they know what they're doing. So it's like, okay, but, ya

Shawn Krueger: 5:23

know, and I think I mean, I've had to do where I, you know, maybe the, if you don't, if a particular buyer can't see past the quarters on Oak frame, then they might find that, you know, they might not be as interested in the painting. Even if you don't see that, you know, there's, well, it's a frame it can be swapped out, or it could be. Yeah. But, you know, so yeah, it does kind of put it in one box, but it's a box. I'm kind of happy to sit in, I guess. So. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 5:53

Yeah. Or else? I mean, you wouldn't do it. Right. So, yeah. Um, so what I find interesting in your work, because, personally, I'm not super familiar with the tonalist. I have heard of them. And I have learned about some of them. And I've even discovered that some of the artists I like are tonalist. And I had no idea, which was like, Oh, I didn't know that. Um, because I'm not a landscape painter. But, um, I do paint portrait, and I do, which is why I'm familiar with, for example, Thomas doing which he's considered a timeless Yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 6:25

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. So there's, there's some great. Yeah, there's some great California. painters, too, that were doing portraiture. I'm blanking now on names. But anyway, but yes, I will. I will send you a recommendation off after we're done.

Laura Arango Baier: 6:49

Yes, yes. And if you remember them in the middle of the interview, I dropped the name.

Shawn Krueger: 6:56

So I'm thinking of sorry,

Laura Arango Baier: 6:59

I will definitely look it up. Because I mean, I've always wanted to dip my toes into landscape. And actually, interestingly enough, I really, really love the French influence that the tunnel is have, you know, because it's, yeah, yeah,

Shawn Krueger: 7:15

that gets overlooked a bit. I mean, the, the the reason scholarship on it is that they were this at least the the later toneless were the first core American, you know, movement that kind of got overlooked by the time, you know, Greenberg, and, you know, the, the 40s came along, and, you know, the, the big New York painters and whatnot. But these guys, I mean, a lot of these guys were, and it's true, they weren't, some of them weren't going back to Europe to study like, a lot of the early early ones were but yeah, I think the BBS gets overlooked quite a lot in that in in discussion of the total list, or whatever, at least in recent discussion, maybe maybe, at least, maybe what I've heard, so

Laura Arango Baier: 8:03

yeah, yeah. And I like that, I had no idea that they were related. And I'm, like, Choros, number one fan. So. So I can see that, you know, I can, I can like, pull into Corolla, then like, see, like, oh, you know, the tonalist like, when I see your work, especially like, some of your moon paintings, or even like some of your sketches, like, in general, all of your drawings they give me this very, has a very melancholic, sort of look to them. They're very, and I was reading the tonalist rules to and there is

Shawn Krueger: 8:41

somebody's I think I'm a total this society site there is. I think I saw that Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 8:47

Yeah. And it's part of their rules to to make, you know, paintings that are emotional, that are led by feeling rather than, you know, just a striking image, which I like that it's very, it's almost like backwards to how

Shawn Krueger: 9:02

I think or, you know, maybe why I've been drawn to it for a long time was maybe, you know, maybe I didn't feel I had the skills others did or something, but I certainly had feeling and probably, you know, genuinely authentic feeling. And so, like, if I could put that into you know, my work that that that, I don't know, that just sort of made it feel as though I was getting somewhere and may not be as precise is you know, you know in the Hudson River School wherever you go everything every leaf was painted and every you know, big enormous, you know, sunset and everything with a tiny figure for scale and you know, but I mean somebody He like Yeah, I mean, John Francis Murphy, your NS or whatnot, the Yeah, you could, you know, just really had a sense they were painting, certainly from skill and especially the early work was, you know, much tighter and more academic. But I mean, just once they were finding their voice, you know it. Yeah, you just, it was from this deep well of, of, of authentic belief in, in what you were seeing and feeling and your reaction, but not to the landscape. So, yeah, I'm not a natural Lanzi I'm not. I never lived in a big city, but I've never been out in the country either. So the landscape wasn't exactly my natural go to I didn't I didn't have I didn't have that. But so when I paint outside, I'm often feeling a little uneasy, you know, could be temperature things or whatnot, or, you know, people are, you know, but I painted North Carolina, you know, there's, you know, there could be a bear at any moment, you know, painting along the river and, you know, water moccasins, you know, sliding out over on the front of the rocks. There's a little bit of edginess to what you do, I guess so I don't know. Yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 11:19

yes, I think plein air might be the most dangerous form of painting. Yeah, yeah. But it's it's really wonderful that you know, I did see your your series on the the paintings you did on the Appalachian Trail. I call it Appalachian I know some people call it a black Appalachian Yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 11:41

I'm not sure either. I you know, I'm still in northern or although again with not much going on in Michigan. I'm probably feel like I'm more of a local artist in Asheville, North Carolina, anywhere but yeah, it there's a pace to life down there which I it's changing because Asheville is everybody's descending upon Asheville Asheville is getting very, a lot of influx of new people coming in. It's it's always on a lot of tourist destination kind of websites and a lot of people retiring there. So I don't know, you know, what local? What constitutes a longtime person anymore there but it? It's a, I don't know, it's just a way? I don't know, I feel any more at ease down there. I don't know. It's, it's, and it's not just hiking around mountains and doing stuff. I mean, it's, I get the same kind of feeling, I guess, hiking around woods in Michigan and painting or being along, you know, like you're on or, you know, whatnot. But I don't know, there's just sort of something that's drawn. It's a quieter. It's epic, but it's not like Catskills epic or white mountains, or something or you know, where you are, you know, in Norway, you know, where there's so I don't know, I don't know, they're lower mountains, there's fog, there's atmosphere, there's things that play into my predilections, I guess. So.

Laura Arango Baier: 13:19

I mean, I went camping on the Appalachian Trail a few years ago, and it definitely has a very, I call it a spooky feeling. Yeah. Oh, is it? It's the

Shawn Krueger: 13:31

remarkable Well, there's all kinds of, you know, Civil War, American Civil War history there. And, you know, we were had this amazing, amazing hike with friends this summer. And it was down for a show and we've traced up into Tennessee to go for this hike, and, you know, this great swimming all that everything. Apparently, it was the, you know, this huge massacre of troops and whatnot was like in this spot. And, you know, it's, you know, you don't you don't see that, but then you can't unsee it once you sort of like we're all jumping around, and, you know, Swimming was wouldn't be a pretty good place to be attacked. You know, like, it's all coming in from above. So, yes, I don't know.

Laura Arango Baier: 14:24

It is depressing. But that that's the other interesting world that I did see on the tonalist website, which is that some of the pieces should represent like the, I guess, kind of like the sadness that's left behind after the Civil War. Yeah, you can.

Shawn Krueger: 14:38

Right now, that was a huge, that was a huge part of it. I mean, there was and it sort of dictated to like some of the scale there. I think there was a there was an economic depression as well. And so people were doing the galleries were encouraging, encouraging a lot of the artists do modest, more modestly scaled pieces. By Are color, different things that could be, you know, more more easily sold? But no, I mean, but a lot of these guys were City guys that went up to the, you know, the studios in Lower East Side and that they go up to, you know, Massachusetts or New Hampshire and Vermont, you know and do their summer spend their summers sketching and then come back to the the Lower East Side and makes all these amazing studio paintings from these sketches. But yeah,

Laura Arango Baier: 15:27

yeah. And then that also brings me to that where a lot of tonalist painters and even a lot of even in your word to and a lot of other landscape painters, they will go out into the field, right, and they will paint a sketch or paint, like the first impression of something that'll take it back to the studio, and then they'll create a bigger piece. How does how does that work for you? How do you do that?

Shawn Krueger: 15:54

I, I do I mean, going out in the sketching is the fun part. Um, I don't tend to do a lot of larger pieces, the ones behind me are more in the eight by 10, nine by 12, sort of range with the exception of this, which is still only 16 I think 16 by 24 or something, it's a bit. But that feels like, you know, a mural to me on a lot of ways. But I I think I lose the I struggled to keep but I should say I struggled to keep the immediacy that I have in the sketch when I tried to scale up, so I tend to just finish the sketches in the studio. And that ends up being the bulk of my work. But yeah, I yeah, I don't I don't do as well, large scale. I don't I don't think I don't know. That's

Laura Arango Baier: 17:02

yeah, you know, we have our own ways of, I guess, creating our work where, if it does what we want it to do, it's already hard enough to manage oil paint. Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 17:15

Oh, I think go to their sort of, it's gotten to be a bit of a practical matter, I, especially with the arts and crafts crowd tends to be a lot of folks maybe, oh, you know, stereotypical, but I mean, they're redoing an old house. You know, a lot of old houses don't have room for, you know, large pieces. But they might have, you know, between two door jams, they might have spot for a nice little vertical on something sorted or they might be able to slide something again, on top of a bookcase or something like that. So I mean, arts and crafts design is definitely you know, it's very object driven. So I mean, if there's a place to put something and people like the collectors, they're, they're working on these little vignettes of like, well, this is my table and then the table will have this and it's, it's an interesting way. So I mean, it's been I'm like very one of very few painters that are in some of the shows that we do a lot of it's pottery, tile, you know, metal work different different things like that. And so, yeah, I kind of find myself fitting into that a little bit. Or, but it's, it's, it's good and I enjoy it. I enjoy you know, enjoy doing that. That way so yeah, this limiting or that I'm not, I'm not lacking by not scaling up but

Laura Arango Baier: 18:49

well, you know, if it works, it works if it ain't broke, you know. Yeah, and one of the one of the qualities that I really like about your work is the transparency and I'm really fascinated by it because I did learn you know, at school we have like the direct painting and then indirect painting and I know that you mostly focus on indirect painting. So a lot of glazing and a lot of transparency Why did you go in the route of painting transparently?

Shawn Krueger: 19:19

Um, well, I I had a very my college experience was I learned a lot about composition and painting directly. But my first studio experience or studio assisting experience outside of school was working for this other artist and you know, he one of the things he told me the first day was you know, we'll come with a painting you don't care about or you know, it's something that's not you know, any brought it in and he slathered this like, you know, that was like a lizard and Rose crimson. So something in there, this pink is very intense pink over it and kinda, you know, and I just watching it kind of flow into the old brushstrokes and whatnot. And it just sort of it gave it this thing that I just patina for a lack of a better term that you wouldn't be able to accomplish very easily by painting direct. And I think do when I was starting out, I didn't always know what I was doing. But I could always throw another Blaze over it and see what happens. And so you start getting that that way of working in your head. And yeah, you start thinking about I've often found it fairly liberating to because now I just when I go out to do plein air work, I pretty much leave with a monochrome sketch, because I and I think about how what I'm painting now will get all these layers of glaze later. So I'm painting like, you know, I mean, the warm underpainting for the pool, you know, over painting that kind of thing. But, but I'm often thinking about, you know, four or five steps ahead, like, Well, okay, if I do this now that I'm good, you know, which is always a little funny, when you see somebody you know, the looky loos or whoever comes up to talk to you while you're painting. Why are you plan don't worry? Check, check my website in the year it'll, it'll all make sense. You know?

Laura Arango Baier: 21:45

It's, it's a process that requires like trust and a lot of experience, which is why I was so curious. It's it's like you said, you're thinking five steps ahead with every stroke.

Shawn Krueger: 21:58

Yeah, I paint my good friend Justin, Indianapolis, he's will go out painting together and go down near Indianapolis is Brown County, Indiana, which is a large, historic, historic place where you know, there were just a big movement of work over over time, and and we'll have paint, you know, plein air painting. And he's gonna knock out three, you know that one out while I'm like, getting set up and then go knock out another one. Well, I feel like late in my initial thing and whatnot. So yeah, but he's quick. And he sees things very fast. And I envy that. But But yeah, I don't know, I think I'm probably more methodical I just do even in my day to day life. Thinking about things or whatever, I'm slower. So it makes sense that I've ended up painting that way too. So

Laura Arango Baier: 23:01

yeah, yeah, I can relate with that, which is what I mean, personally, I also learned both methods. So I'm now I'm at that stage where I'm figuring out what do I like to do and I'm, I can totally relate with taking your time and like not feeling rushed. And, yeah, really trying to feel it out. Because I'm also very much led by how I'm feeling versus what I'm seeing. Because that's the beautiful thing about the tonalist paintings is that you don't, when you look at a tonalist painting, you don't care about the specific details, you're caring about the whole image as a mood and what it evokes, rather than, Oh, this little flower right here and this little thing, unless it adds to the mood, which is, you know, sure, but yeah, but that's what I really like about tonal ism.

Shawn Krueger: 23:53

Yeah, well, I think too, like if there was any sort of silver lining to the last three years of pandemic and all the stuff was that there were certainly, you know, fewer demands on on a person in terms of, you know, galleries weren't looking for new work, you know, if they were open at all, they were you know, and I'd had a large show and with my gallery in North Carolina in the fall of 2019, so you know, we've sold okay, but they were set you know, they didn't need to do they didn't need whereas they usually so the point was, was that I I had that time to work, but I also had that time to really there wasn't any rush on anything. I didn't have a show coming up. I didn't have this coming up or so I can kind of draw them out a little bit more and I don't know I think that that was kind of a it's fit with where, where I wanted to be a I'm working. So I think the work that I've kind of done coming out of the pandemic has changed a bit in that. Yeah, there is probably a little more draftsmanship? You know, to it or something, because I had the time to do that, you know, and I've realized the benefit of doing that. So now, this is just how it is. So I will, I will continue to make one painting to justice three, but but, but it will, it will be. It'll be okay.

Laura Arango Baier: 25:35

I think your work is more than okay. I think your work is very beautiful. So I think you're doing great. Even if you just pop out one and your friends popping out three, you know, everyone does their own thing. Exactly. Yeah. Um, so I also read in an interview that, you know, you referred to yourself as, what was it, it was miserably happy as a painter. And I was so curious about when you went from, you know, working like a day job, like a lot of us do when we're starting out to becoming a miserably happy painter. How did that happen? And was it a challenge to shifts into that?

Shawn Krueger: 26:20

Well, I mean, yeah, I mean, what I meant probably with that is, you know, careful what you wish for, you know, it's, it's, it's good to have that, that. I don't know, there is, there is a benefit to having that safety net, where you don't have to worry about, well, if I don't sell these paintings, I'm not gonna, you know, make my rent or make my mortgage or eat. But, I mean, this was the goal all along, I visit everything, you know, this is what I want it, you know, I mean, what I envisioned when, you know, it's what do you envision when you're in art school that you're going to, you know, stay in your jammies and just make stuff and people are going to buy it? And, you know, sometimes that bears out, but I mean, you just have to realize that some days, it's just work. And it's a different. It's a different slot to the other slog that you used to do. And that's okay, too, I think, although anyone that's, this isn't news to anyone that's, you know, made, made a career for themselves. But I mean, yeah, I think it was just that shocked, you know, and I'm happy, but, boy, I'm not.

Laura Arango Baier: 27:37

Yeah, it's like, it's that struggle of like, this is what I love. And then, but also, now you're relying on this thing to provide for you. So I understand that miserably happy thing.

Shawn Krueger: 27:52

There was a bit of added maybe a bit of added urgency, as you know, my son came along, right around the same time that we were, my wife and I were making the decision for me to go full time as a painter. And I think that sort of upped my desire to succeed, I guess. I don't know, I think about again, I'm always, you know, like my painting, I'm thinking into the future. So I think of, you know, I was holding him thinking, you know, once you get a thing, 20 years from now, you know, or something, and I didn't want him. Well, my dad was a good painter, but he could never really make it work. Or he could never, you know, do stuff. You know, I'm excited, because, you know, we have this show in New York coming up, and I get to, you know, take him along, and well, you know, I'm a tiny part of a tiny show in a very big city, but a dad, you know, Dad, he gets to go and you know, why did we go to New York? Well, Dad had to show up. You know, it's it's kind of cool. I yeah, I just I don't, I think, yeah, I know, there was that pressure. I just never won him to think of me as a loser. In that way, I mean, that's, that's there's Yeah, I mean, that's, there's a lot more to it than that. But I mean, it's just it. Yeah, I wanted him to see me as successful. So that put a lot of emphasis in my mind. And, you know, how, how, then do you become successful? And, you know, I'm not there yet. But, you know, he,

Laura Arango Baier: 29:47

I disagree. But, I mean, you know, it depends on your definition of success. You know, maybe you have certain goals you haven't reached yet, but I think you have definitely reached, you know, a very good measure of so Considering that you can live from your work, you can sell work, and you have a collector base. So that's a lot. I mean, there are a lot of other painters out there starting out who don't really have that.

Shawn Krueger: 30:09

Oh, right. No, and I don't I don't, I don't take any of that, you know, lightly or for granted. I mean, it's, it's, I mean, I grew up pretty, you know, pretty. It was pretty austere. I already feel like I'm, you know, I have, I have more than I deserve. Anyway. So it's, it's are more than I should have gotten. You know, so I mean, it's, it's, it's, it's good, but, you know, you just, I always, I always think of it like, I don't know, painting anything, any progression in life is sort of like an ant climbing a staircase where it's really hard for a while, and then it gets the right when you get to that toe. Geno, it gets even harder, because you have to go upside down and then, but then it smooths out, and it's pretty good for a while and then. Okay, well, here we go. Yeah, I don't know. I, I think, yeah, there's something to to that that just. I don't know, it feels like an apt analogy.

Laura Arango Baier: 31:18

It is it is,

Shawn Krueger: 31:20

yeah. Anyone doing anything? I mean, I hope.

Laura Arango Baier: 31:24

Yeah. 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 view. 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 Inc forward slash podcast. That's s 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. Um, yeah, I think I think the worst thing that anyone could be with their work is satisfied.

Shawn Krueger: 32:59

Yeah, I mean, it's good to take a moment and enjoy. Like, you know, some art openings coming up. And I mean, it's, it's fantastic to take a moment to enjoy that. And to have think about, you know, well, I've this is good work. I've done good work. I'm in good company. This is really good. But yeah, I think the minute you becomes focused or satisfied on that, I mean, I, I don't know I, you know, I've it stops the rows are, it's, you know, you. Yeah, so I find that I, like, I want to be satisfied. And I want to think what I'm doing is good, but I know, I could be better, you know? And, you know, I know I can do more with it, you know, find and get a wider audience. Hopefully, maybe I don't know, you know, but I mean, just something I mean, it doesn't take away the work is the work is good. I mean, and then that could be you know, that can be agreed upon. But I mean, it's it's you know, I don't know if you're not if you don't decide to settle or if you don't stay satisfied. You know, if you if you kind of keep that hunger a little bit, you know, you're going to keep it's gonna logically or it's gonna just naturally work out you're going to get better if you stay focused on not being that this this is not you know Yeah, I don't know. I'm not jumping around a lot on that. But

Laura Arango Baier: 34:43

no, I but I can follow that because I you know, and I think that also comes down to how, you know, a lot of artists they they fall into a formula of, okay, this is what the people Like, so I'm just gonna do this and that they just stayed the plateau. I just like, kind of. Oh, yeah. If Latos Yeah,

Shawn Krueger: 35:10

I think that might have been, I think a little bit about that sometimes with regard to where I'm because I did, I did show we're early on here in Michigan, with galleries are doing shows, and I got I got a little award here or there and you know, those were those were great, but then it put you in that box. And I was with a gallery that, you know, I was trying to maybe expand or I had this notion I was doing landscapes, but I got very, you, you're young, you're looking at well, I mean, anybody looks at a lot of art books, but my favorite thing about art books was that you'd have, you know, figure 17 nashwan, which was the painting and then 17 dash two was the detail the zoom in on something, and I found myself really excited about that, and like doing autumn scenes where the and so they would kind of get a little abstract and dots and whatnot, but I, I was, you know, expressing excitement about that, that the gallery was, you know, kind of remaining liking to remind me of the things that they've been selling, you know, and so, you know, it probably started the meter running on that relationship. You know, it? Again, I just, I just wasn't, so are you satisfied? But then again, I've come back to doing, you know, fairly open, you know, traditional landscapes and so yeah, maybe they're,

Laura Arango Baier: 36:44

I mean, you I am, oh, my god, the art career is so particular, because it's so much about exploration, as well. And that's, I think one of the risks of having a gallery very early, you know, as it is, it's they can, they can start dictating your work. And, you know, giving you that space to like, explore, and maybe you will go back to what they were originally doing, and you do full circle, and that's fine. But maybe you need that exploration phase, you know?

Shawn Krueger: 37:21

Yeah, well, I mean, again, like if you're, if you're coming out of art school, and your mom and dad were paying for it, or something, and you had, you know, the idea of like getting in somewhere and selling work, and I mean, but to it was the late 90s, there was for me, there was a lot of fun money out there, I think a lot of people were doing well with their you know, 401 K's because of the tech, you know, the late 90s tech stuff. So, I mean, if I had started my career, you know, in the middle of the Bush years, like where there was a lot of big economic downturn and whatnot, you know, maybe I would have, you know, would have, I don't know, I felt like I just kind of made I came out at the right time to where all of a sudden, there were some sales and, you know, I mean, it was low dollar compared to where you, you know, want to get to but I mean, it was it built that level of confidence and whatnot. But again, like, I just yeah, I didn't. Yeah, I just didn't want it to be. I didn't want it to be the thing. There are a lot of you know, there are plenty of artists, you know, that make the same painting over again, are not always kind of sits since we were with me or something. I mean, I'm not trying to throw shade or anything, but I mean, just

Laura Arango Baier: 38:51

Yeah. But um, yeah, we're all different in how we do that. Because, I mean, personally, maybe I would want to paint something again, but not and this is the important part, not because of the gallery, but rather, because maybe I want to re explore it in a different way. That's a little different. Yeah, sure. Yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 39:09

Oh, I've got the same little 400 yard stretch of trees and rocks and like, you're on that I will, you know, I there's 500 paintings in that in that spot. You know, I just I, you know, I've maybe done, you know, 60 of them so far. But, you know, it's, I mean, I, there's absolutely nothing wrong with revisiting a theme or or whatever. But yeah, I don't know. shouldn't be so snarky, I guess.

Laura Arango Baier: 39:44

It's, you know, it's mostly for the people listening to maybe get another opinion, right to hear like, from your experience, like how you've handled your work and how you've taken it and some people might resonate and some people won't and that's perfectly fine. Yeah, sure. So, um, I definitely resonate. You're saying? Yes,

Shawn Krueger: 40:09

yeah, just the two of us, you know, watching and listening to this. So it's all good, right?

Laura Arango Baier: 40:14

Yes, right? Yes. I'm sure we'll get great feedback. But because it's not often we get, you know, a tonalist styled landscape painter on it. And I mean, the podcast is still pretty young. But I also think we've had a huge revival in the tonal ism form of painting, and in the realist world, as well, got a huge revival. In the past 20 or so years, more than anything, the growth has been insane, in my opinion. So I think, you know, it's worth hearing someone like you, who's a tonalist, who has worked in this way, who, you know, has a particular method for these things. So maybe there's someone out there listening is like, those are those are all the things I am you know,

Shawn Krueger: 41:06

secondary colors

Laura Arango Baier: 41:13

but second, secondary colors are awesome. So

Shawn Krueger: 41:15

Oh, yeah, no, I, I had this, I was in a booth one time with one of my, with one of the shows, and somebody had said something along the lines of oh, I, I prefer my, I prefer my paintings to be more colorful or something like that. And I kind of wanted to chase her down. Like, these are colorful, they're just, it's just, you know, purple into brown and orange into brown and green into brown. You prefer different colors is what you mean, ma'am.

Laura Arango Baier: 41:48

Yes, yes. And what I find also interesting about, you know, monochromatic paintings is that you can have a monochromatic painting, but you just put a hint of color, and it's immediately colorful. Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Shawn Krueger: 42:01

it's an economy and just Yeah, I mean, great. I mean, Gray. Gray in color, like intensifies colors sometimes do it's, it doesn't feel like it would but I mean, it. Yeah, it does. I don't know.

Laura Arango Baier: 42:19

Yeah, it's it's, it's a good buffer, you know, it's like, yeah, it's like a rest for the eyes. And then, I don't know, it's, it's magical. I personally use only four colors on my palette. And that's it. Yeah. And you can get to do like design type. Yeah, yeah. Basically, design. Yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 42:41

It's so good. This guy here was apart from the sky. It's not showing up nearly. But yeah, I did a lot of I didn't, I'm pretty much worked on that with transparent as origin colors and opaque. Like, I kind of would do a mix and match. So I wanted something a little more colorful for this guy. But I'm, I'm obsessed. I'm kind of late to the game on this. I mean, like, if I heard, heard or heard about it for a lot of years, then it was too skittish to ask what it was all about. Finally, like, you know, Google it. Oh, well, I don't usually a lot of that stuff already. So but yeah, I like the limited palette thing, especially painting plein air. Interesting. You can. Yeah, and and also to do with the painting with these these doing these oil sketches and whatnot. I mean, I picking a transparent pigment that's, that's for you know, that's pretty opaque full body, but when you thin it, it gets this really nice range of colors. There's some Yeah, just Yeah, that'd be you get a nice yeah. And again, what's what's a good painting about really is kind of value and composition. So you know,

Laura Arango Baier: 44:00

definitely. Yeah. Yeah. And I would I like personally about the design palette. Is that it's, it's harmonious with itself. Yeah. Which I like it's so hard when you have like three different reds and three different yellows and then sometimes it just, you just make mud. You know, it's really hard to make mud with the Zorn palette.

Shawn Krueger: 44:22

It is it is. Yeah. Yeah, things that you think are going to others. The one the one part of the triangle keeps it from going where you think it might go or something hard to explain.

Laura Arango Baier: 44:42

But it is but you know, it just it's nice because it keeps all the colors like clean, if that makes sense. Keep some Oh, yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 44:53

It's a feeling to me because again, I play and I play in the mud a lot, you know, and I Yeah, I I like I like it. I like to but but yeah, that was one day that always was on me about never having blue skies. At my shows that I was like, Well, yeah, no I, yeah, I would have to put blue paint down on my palette to do that. So

Laura Arango Baier: 45:31

yeah, I also feel uncomfortable putting blue on my palette now. But what's really nice too is if you pick a specific block, you'll get a different Gray, we'll get it like blue like ivory black, you will get the iced

Shawn Krueger: 45:45

blue. You know, it's not blue, but it reads blue or? Yeah, oh, yeah, no, I think that's, I think that's really great. Yeah, I like it again, that was the years of throwing different glazes or things, you know, you kind of build up that that vocabulary, so to speak, I don't know that, you know, their knowledge or whatever, like the how to get to different, you know, things. It's fine. Like, like my son with math now, there was talking about, you know, new math, and they ways to achieve the result or whatever. And, you know, I always like, I'll help him with something, or he'll show me something. And I'm, you know, there's 20 different ways to, you know, if the answer is 12, there's 20 different equations you can come up with, you know, get to 12. You know, he's a smart kid. So he gets kind of frustrated when he has to, you know, 13th, way 14, all these different ways. But I find it really interesting, just that, yeah, you can mix this and this and get close and then or you think it's gonna go a certain way. And then it's like, oh, no, that's just like these other two that I was using our software. So

Laura Arango Baier: 47:08

yeah, yes, we can go into much further depth into color, because it's crazy. But I'm, I'm curious to know a bit about your marketing side. Because like you mentioned earlier, you know, you had, you seem to have started your career at a very ideal time, which is brilliant. But now we are in a world of the internet. And it really helps in the playing field. If that makes sense. It helps you get connected. So do you mind sharing a bit of how you've used social media as a way to market your work? Or even you know, the internet in general?

Shawn Krueger: 47:49

I don't know.

Laura Arango Baier: 47:53

I think

Shawn Krueger: 47:55

I think I have to divide it into Instagram 10 years, you know, for the last first seven years of Instagram or my involvement with Instagram, and then what's happened and now which I I feel very adrift now because of well, algorithms and how to making reels or something. I don't know how to do that. I know, it's quite lucky. We're able to do this. I'm just not. I'm not. I'm not a very technically savvy person. And Jonathan is always old make some videos and new painting or something and I think how am I going to do that when I don't own a tripod. I should go I should go buy a tripod. Okay. Anyway, so no but marketing. I mean, I I don't I don't know. I don't I don't know. I feel like I just sort of tried to put like my authentic self into a post I guess I don't I don't know that it's I mean, I can read the analytics on it and see that, you know, didn't get to that many people but I feel like I have kind of it feels like a lot of the times the the people that buy my paintings, buy one and then buy a second and buy a third and I I'm, I go deep, less than let that ride. And I find that to deal with the arts and crafts crowd. It's a very where I will do so I will do shows that are geared specifically toward the arts and crafts crowd. And not so much like art fairs were there. I'm one of 75 painters in in You know, in the woods, their tents and whatnot. So I kind of tried to Micro Focus, like where I, where I think I want my work to be. You know, I mean, I reach out to galleries and you know, with some success and some, you know, rejection and whatnot. But I mean, I kind of tried to find places that I think are going to be a good fit. You know, which just makes I mean, it makes perfect sense to do that. But I mean, like, really kind of look at what is this a place that looks like they would sell work that I do. But they already have five people that do what, you know, what I do, you know, and so like, No, this probably isn't the right you know, the right fit, or they're gonna, you know, that's gonna be a no. But yeah, marketing, I just, I don't, I wish I knew, I wish I knew more about it in the how to how to use it to my advantage, I guess, I think I probably have an old way of old model of thinking.

Laura Arango Baier: 51:15

I think you've done it in. Like you said, it's like the old model, which it works. I mean, you're selling work, you have work behind you, it's beautiful. And it sells and like you said, you go into, you go into the depth rather than breadth of reaching people. And that's, that's one of the best things you can do. Especially with marketing, even if it's not social media, it's like real life, you know, you seek out the exact place where those people call us and then you just go and you're like, Hey, check it out. I look at my paintings like this. And then they buy like, 10. Yeah, yeah.

Shawn Krueger: 51:54

I don't find a lot of my collector base on social media very much. I don't I don't I don't I don't find that there. There there are there. I mean, I find you know, people will somebody will reach out and buy something and want to buy something because they saw it on on Instagram or something. But, but I mean, that's, that's that's pretty crowded field there. So again, I come to find Yeah, like the people that buy a lot by my work. They're not on. They're not Instagram people anyway. But that's the only thing I have. So I've never had a Facebook page. Tick tock. These things. I usually they're usually old. They're usually old news. By the time I hear about Instagram, I just did, because we had our AI. I think I started in 20 1314 because we had a new son and I thought, well, this would be a good way to show pictures of him without having to, you know, send 20 different emails. Because that the other so I don't know. It's, it's it's nice. I mean, it's when it's when the things that I liked about Instagram, I like a lot. You know, there's a lot of it i i really, you know, doesn't play well, to my nature, I guess the jealousies and you know, things. You see other people doing fantastically level? Yes. All right.

Laura Arango Baier: 53:28

They seem that way, but a lot about what things seemed like, I guess, yes. So it can be a challenge. When you're on there, and like you said, you see other people who seemingly are having a lot of success, and maybe they are, and that's great. Yeah, it's hard to stay. I guess, hopeful. I don't

Shawn Krueger: 53:53

have the I don't think I have the disposition for you know, I've never entered a BoldBrush painting contest, you know, because I couldn't I don't know, if I see all these people are happy to be in the top 15 or something like that. What if, you know, what if I don't end up in the top 50 setback for weeks, you know, so I just have this I have this. You know, or I see people I mean, see people make the work I wish I was making or something I mean that properly channel that's great, you know, but on your darker days, it's

Laura Arango Baier: 54:40

Yeah, but you know, I do think it's, it's great that you have the skills, you know, because think about it. I mean, how many artists today are you know, maybe my age or younger, and they they don't know how to people, you know, yeah, you know how to people because that's how you have to people Right.

Shawn Krueger: 55:01

And that had to be learned. I mean, that was definitely moving into booth shows and like, talking, you know, I mean, again, when we're all painters, so we're used to a fair degree of isolation, you know? Yeah, solitude isolation. You know, by that I mean, even with partners and families and whatnot, you know, you're essentially, they're working by yourself. And, you know, so that's. But yeah, it's it's important to people want to know why they're drawn to your work. I think they want to know why. They may have a sense, they may want that confirmation. You know, they might want they might want a story that they can pass along at the dinner party, when they have people over and over, would you look at our new painting, you know, or something. You know, the artist said, Dennis, you know, and I mean, I don't I'm not, you know, I don't know that. That's fine, too. But yeah, I think people I don't know. And I find again, like with the arts and crafts crowd, there's enough. Yeah, I said, I guess maybe they're just looking, they look for things that are made by a person, you know, with that, Brett, you know, the breeds are at one time. breeds, you know, so yeah, I don't, I don't know.

Laura Arango Baier: 56:28

Yeah, no, I like that you have such a specific crowd, you know, that, that you can easily, like, maybe not easily, but that you can reach out to who you know, would appreciate your work, for example, on Instagram, it's like, you're just putting it out there for everyone. And, yeah, which makes it really challenging. But you ended up

Shawn Krueger: 56:50

you know, I said, you make small paintings that are a little more muted and whatnot, and they're gonna navigate their way to the corners of the gallery, where the big, you know, show me things are there that, you know, I've never made work that shouted, you know, you know, so it's, yeah, yeah, I don't know, it seems simple. But you know, you don't take no for an answer when it or the answer like that, when you get told note about an peanut gallery turns you down, or worse, yet, just ignores you, you know, you know, if you just like, well, that's not that wasn't my, my, my path. I mean, you know, that wasn't the, that wasn't the door was meant to open, you know, or whatever, you just keep trying doors eventually. Sort of feet, right. But, I mean, like, it, it kind of bears out. I mean, it's just, you know, so be persistent and be true to your craft and true to yourself and, you know, be open to, you know, opened ideas. And it said, like, if Jonathan hadn't suggested this, I would never have reached out. Would anyone like to talk to me in a podcast? Wouldn't have been me, you know, to do something like that. So, so yeah, we need to, we need to we need to listen to people too. So,

Laura Arango Baier: 58:23

yeah. And you know, that that also brings up the nice part about social media, which is you get fans, you get people who admire your work and admire you and they get to hear you talk and I'm sure there are people who will be excited to hear what you have to say. So I think so. I think so. Um, so, I want you to tell us about your two upcoming shows. You have one with vining gallery and Avinash gallery. Yes. Tell us about this.

Shawn Krueger: 58:57

So, vining is going to be a pretty large a lot of wall space to fill. So I think we're settling in on 66 pieces for the show. So it's in the it's in Indianapolis and Indianapolis is I have not found anything quite like it. There are a lot of really solid solid painters there and artists are other you know not and beyond painting too but it's you seems like volume is is kind of a big, big thing. But people will there's a young I don't know it seems like there's kind of a young collector base there and it's a pretty and I grew up in Indiana. So you know, it's kind of like coming home a little bit although I didn't grew up in Indianapolis. But yeah, I don't know. It's just it's So it's a large show. And so that's been the kind of fun to navigate, I think I had a large, one larger show than this, but it was consisting of a lot of very small paintings. So this is probably the largest, the largest thing I've done. Also doing a workshop for the first time leading up to that. So teaching, kind of trying to get, hopefully getting much in my head about underpinnings and working transparently into a format that will make sense to people. And so I'll do some demo, and we'll have some exercises and got some tools for them to use and some of the things and, you know, we're excited about that. So that's good. I mean, gallery is just, it's, it's a landscape show, kind of a group show, but I mean, the talent pool with that gallery is is so remarkable. So just to be kind of asked to be part of that is pretty, pretty cool. Yeah, I'm not even 100% sure who all is who else is in the show, but they don't have any bad landscape painters there. So it's gonna be it's gonna be really, it's gonna be really good. So yeah, I'm always excited to do stuff with them. And they have a very thorough brick and mortar place in Denver with a couple of storefronts, and then they're also but they have a, just a really great internet business. So they reach you know, people well, I mean, for however many paintings I've sold from them, I'm guessing very few of them are actually to folks in Denver. So, you know, it's, it's, it's a good, it's a good gallery to be with, so I'm really, really happy to continue to be with them. So

Laura Arango Baier: 1:01:54

that's great. And then you also mentioned, you're most excited about something that's happening at the salmagundi club. Yeah, April. Yeah. Tell us about it.

Shawn Krueger: 1:02:06

Yeah, well, I mean, it's the, the second biennial of the American terminalis society. I kind of recall my getting involved with them. And the first time we had the first show was 2019. And then obviously, the pandemic cause the a few things we did a virtual show. I think the the plan overall is to do one every two years in person at the some of the end, and then some sort of there was some connection with the artsy side or something that they had, so that it made sense to do something virtual, too. But anyhow, the the first time in 2019, I mean, it's certainly been in New York many times, but just to have there are so many people that I looked up to over the years that were members of this club, or president of the club, you know, Franklin to Haven or Bruce crane or anything and you walk around there and it's it's this it was just a club where they socialized it was an art club, it was a club for artists so they but they still do so many of the things so I hoping to maybe try to become a out of state member someday for this but but anyway, just to be on those walls i because I'm I'm always going to have one eye back towards history and whatnot. I I always appreciate being in my gallery in North Carolina is is part of was a building that houses Vanderbilt Woolen Mills, like 100 years ago, you know, in East Aurora, New York were a part of this deal there for a while was with the gallery that was in furniture Roycroft which was kind of one of these utopian communities that sprung up. And there's a whole I mean, I can go well into that, but I just I like being in historic places, because then it sort of feels like you're on part of the continuum. And so you know, as I said, it's a like most Selma Vandy shows it's a two two weekend you know with the weekend between affair it's they have a pretty short short life but I think they I don't know for somebody like me, who's analyst to say happy to be in the room but just happy to be in the room but I mean, there is something good I mean, the painting the the painters, there are amazing I mean, and so just to be kind of part of that is pretty cool. And you think then, I assume, have you been? Yeah, I mean, it's. And I think for me, like, it's the only place that would really, I can't think of galleries in New York that would necessarily take my kind of word. So much like it, you need some kind of a quieter, more contemplative setting, you know, like, that place is just, you know, you walk in off the off of that, and it just gets immediately quiet. Going back in time, yeah, yeah. So anyway, I it's just, yeah, it's it's, yeah, I don't want to be satisfied with things. But if if getting the show there every couple of years with a total show that that I, you know, I could be quite happy about that.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:06:01

Yes, absolutely. And funny enough, the interview that I read that you did, you were actually talking about how badly you wanted your work to be at the salmagundi club. And then, like, a year later, like, look at that. Look at that timeline. You did it.

Shawn Krueger: 1:06:21

I forgot about that. Yeah.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:06:23

Yeah. Isn't that crazy?

Shawn Krueger: 1:06:26

You know, I mean, I don't know that. Uh, yeah. I mean, it just makes sense, because of the history of this club that this show happens there. I mean, it's Yeah, I mean, I mean, I liked it, maybe I could find my you know, find somebody that I think you'd be sponsored by a member to put your portfolio of. So I got a few people over time and said they'd be willing to, you know, put their name behind me, which I think is quite touching. So, yeah. But for now, I mean, like, this is, you know, this is, you know, I'm just the, you know, middle aged guy in the Midwest, painting by himself, like, you know, and not to be all shots, you know about it, but I mean, like, hey, you know, it's a good chance. It's, it's the chance I'm going to have a show in New York. So

Laura Arango Baier: 1:07:20

you know, and it could lead to more stuff. So you never know, one never knows. Life will take you places and you got to go with the flow.

Shawn Krueger: 1:07:30

No, that's yeah, that's that's that's borne out so far.

Laura Arango Baier: 1:07:39

Oh, man. Well, thank you so much, Sean. This was really wonderful.

Shawn Krueger: 1:07:44

I've enjoyed I've enjoyed it a lot. Thank you. This was great.

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