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On this episode we sat down with Catherine Bobkoski, an American figurative and still life painter who focuses on the poetic and quiet beauty of ordinary things, specifically flowers and floral arrangements. We talk about her background and what led her to specialize in florals and teaching, why it can be an excellent idea to specialize in a specific topic, and why connecting with others in an authentic way will take you further than any other marketing tip can. And finally we talk about her upcoming workshop at the end of this month, and another workshop in 2024 at Warehouse 521 in Nashville, Tennessee.
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Catherine Bobkoski: 0:00
You know what, that's okay. Because I think having a very thin layer of mastery and expertise spread out over a lot of different things is not nearly as powerful as having a level of mastery that is maybe narrow but runs very, very deep. And that's sort of I think, it goes back to a little bit of what I was saying about, you know, needing to specialize as a professional, that you have to say no to certain things in order to say yes to something.
Laura Arango Baier: 0:30
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 hear their advice and insights. On this episode, we sat down with Catherine Bukowski, an American figurative and still left painter who focuses on the poetic and quiet beauty of ordinary things, specifically flowers and floral arrangements. We talk about her background and what led her to specialize in florals and teaching why it can be an excellent idea to specialize in a specific topic, and why connecting with others in an authentic way will take you further than any other marketing tip Kim. Finally, we talk about her upcoming workshop at the end of this month. And another workshop in 2024 at warehouse 521 in Nashville, Tennessee. Hello, Catherine. And welcome to the BoldBrush show. How are you? I'm good.
Catherine Bobkoski: 1:35
Thank you, Laura. It's so nice to be here. Thank you for having me. Nice to meet you.
Laura Arango Baier: 1:39
Nice to meet you too. This is great. Because I think you're also a GCA person, right? You studied a GCA for a bit. Oh,
Catherine Bobkoski: 1:47
a little tiny bit. Yes. That's Wow. That was a long time ago, you did some research. I lived in New York for a little bit. I went to NYU. And while I was there, I went to Grand Central Academy for just a little bit but a very, very influential little bit for sure. It made a big impact on me.
Laura Arango Baier: 2:07
Oh, yeah. That's why I mean, I mentioned it precisely because it's such a like, it's like the type of place where even just a short period of time. It's like cheese. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's very, I
Catherine Bobkoski: 2:20
completely agree with that very intense. And it changed the way I think that I looked at things because I was studying art a lot before I did that. But it was a very different approach a much more, I think, a much more West Coast kind of approach a much more immediate, impressionistic, illustrative kind of approach. And going to a very, you know, a very traditional academic, very sensitive kind of place, really rocked my world. And I think that influence is still with me today for sure. Absolutely. Yeah, I
Laura Arango Baier: 2:57
think it's something that you you can't, I wouldn't say get rid of, but you can't, you know, like, it's almost like once you see it, you can't unsee it. Yeah, it's kind of crazy. I feel the same way. Like, obviously my work, you know, it's a it's very juicy. And actually I'm in like, in the middle of like, trying to put it aside, which is actually really difficult. Yeah, for experimentation sake. But absolutely. Yes. Back to you. So, you did go through an academic, you know, sort of training from what I saw, and then also academic teaching, but what I find intriguing is your subject matter, because it's very few people, I think, go into flowers, in my opinion, like I've seen a lot of flower painters, but the in the academic realm, it's like a small little cluster, and it's really cute because it's like a bouquet of artists. Oh.
Catherine Bobkoski: 4:01
Okay. I'm in a bouquet. Can I be the baby's breath? Gosh, okay. I do too, right. Yeah,
Laura Arango Baier: 4:09
it's gorgeous. Little, little clusters. Delicate.
Catherine Bobkoski: 4:13
Yes. Delicate. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I feel like it was a question in their summer. Yeah. Why? Oh, man. Well, that's, that's a really that was kind of a journey. I mean, I was painting almost exclusively still, like, four, probably over 10 years now. But I trained with doing of course, a lot of figure drawing a lot of portrait painting, figure painting, all of that kind of stuff. And I think at first doing so much still life was kind of just a practical thing that I wanted to be able to paint from life whenever I wanted to. And if you're painting still life, of course you can do that. And somewhere along the line, I discovered flower I had a teacher actually, who was very interested in garden roses and Old World roses and stuff like that. And so that was kind of my introduction. But I found it to be just so difficult. Flowers are so subtle and so nuanced and so complex, I think just as much as a person, in many ways. And maybe you felt this to a little pit in your academic studies that there's sort of a, like machismo with figure drawing and figure painting, I think sometimes like this, just the approach or the style sometimes. I mean, not for everybody, certainly, but I did feel that a lot when I was in school. And I didn't totally relate to that, of course. And I think I, on some level, I knew that that wasn't where my voice as an artist was, and that maybe there's something else out there, that would be more me. And I've figured out at some point that that was that had something to do with flowers. And then just besides that, like from another practical standpoint, as a teacher, I had students when I first started teaching, that would come into my still life class. And they might be very adept at drawing and painting the figure. But even if I put a relatively simple still life in front of them, it would blow their minds like to necessarily know how to approach it. And I realized that to really make more well rounded students that actually, they should study still life. So from a practical, practical standpoint, that was important to me as a teacher, especially starting out, but there's more to sunflowers than than just that. I feel like they are just very potent symbols of you know, rebirth and regeneration. You know, especially love roses, which are perennials, and look at a rose garden in December, and it's just some dead pointy sticks. It's not very promising. And the same rose comes back year after year, though, even from that sort of dead looking place. They take in all of this leaf litter and detritus and dead stuff, and they turn it into this exquisite thing that promises rebirth a new life. And I think that that's very beautiful. And very powerful. Right? Not a not a, you know, whimsical, silly thing. That's a that's, that's what it's all about to me. I so I think about that a lot. And that's been a really, you know, important part of me figuring out my voice as an artist is to connect with the subject on a deeper level and to think about what does it really mean to me beyond just being something that's beautiful. So that answers your question.
Laura Arango Baier: 8:05
Yeah. Oh, yeah, that definitely answers and okay. Yes, and some because you're right flowers. It's like they have this personality to them, like each type of flower. And then I remember when I tried painting flowers for a while. I actually I was looking at like Michael Klein, for example, because he's just like, Oh, yes. Wow. Wow. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. So I actually got one of his, one of his DVDs like one of the tutorials on like, how to paint flowers. And it was, I think it was his peonies one I was taking, I was like, this is witchcraft. I am watching sorcery. And I feel the same way. When I look at your work, too. I'm like, witchcraft. I love it.
Catherine Bobkoski: 8:56
I take it as a compliment that it's witchy Yeah, I mean, it's, but I think it really is, you know, still the fundamentals of figure drawing are there, it's still completely present. You know, I think about gesture structure, I think about how do small parts relate to the whole, how do you tell a cohesive, you know, a gesture, right? The same way that you would draw gesture with a figure, you have to have that overall connection that overall unified quality, even in this thing that has like a million little tiny fluffy petals, you know? So it all it all comes back from that same, you know, tradition of drawing the figure, it's just a different different context, I guess. Yeah.
Laura Arango Baier: 9:45
There are different playing field because at least with the figure, it's like, you know what to expect in terms of Chroma in terms of value. In terms of drawing with flowers. You have Have these in these like, insane Chroma shifts like especially like what from the inside of the flower out it's like, like the inside is usually like high chroma and then the petal depending obviously on the color of the flower, but in generally the lighter colored ones, I've noticed that, that it's like high chroma and then it like, neutralizes and then in the light, it's like it's like a breath. It's so fascinating.
Catherine Bobkoski: 10:27
I love that. Yeah, like a breath. Yes. I what I find so fascinating. I mean, that was one thing that also drew me to painting flowers was the colors. And the subtlety of the colors too. And something that I have found just, you know, setting roses, especially more and more is that while there is that kind of, you know, complexity that you just described, there's an underlying, simple truth to it, that it might not be any shift in Hue, it's only a shift in value in saturation. But the hue doesn't necessarily change. And I just find that to be so beautiful. Even with all of this complexity that you see on the surface, underneath that there's this kind of simple thing that's happening, that you have to look very closely in order to see.
Laura Arango Baier: 11:21
Yes. Very well. So and it's so hard to capture flowers too, sometimes. Especially because, you know, they they're dying in front of you. So it can be Yeah, yeah.
Catherine Bobkoski: 11:35
Well, I feel like that's kind of part of my work to that. I mean, almost every flower I've ever painted was dead by the time that I even started the painting sometimes. So I there's something in that to something in there about having something that is dead and gone and almost, you know, regenerating it. But yes, I mean, I take a lot of photographs. Flowers often in my refrigerator trying to keep them keep them going. But do they do die eventually? Yeah.
Laura Arango Baier: 12:09
I mean, as things should. It is part of life. Yes. Part of its apparently jellyfish. Jellyfish are apparently immortal. So yeah, I
Catherine Bobkoski: 12:19
read that somewhere. Okay, well, let's take it on a jellyfish tangent. But it's still
Laura Arango Baier: 12:24
fascinating. Makes me wonder. Yeah. Yes, painting jellyfish would be.
Catherine Bobkoski: 12:29
I would totally do that. Another thing I love to paint actually is goldfish. And any any kind of fish actually, it's kind of floating ethereal thing. So maybe jellyfish are next. Yeah.
Laura Arango Baier: 12:41
Yeah. Oh, man, I would love to see that. They're also very ethereal. And like, yes. There's something
Catherine Bobkoski: 12:48
like tissue paper. Yeah, like aliens. Yeah. Yeah. All right. Inspiration. I do that they're coming.
Laura Arango Baier: 12:55
Yes, yes. And speaking of inspiration, and generally the path of the artist, I was very curious about how, you know, your path has been for you how your journey has been since becoming an artist, and now a living, you know, an artist living from your work and teaching, how has that journey been for you.
Catherine Bobkoski: 13:20
Um, it's been interesting. I mean, I, I'm very stubborn, and very hard headed. And so I, I think I have wanted to be an artist since I was a very little kid. And I just didn't really deviate from that too much, or at all, really. That was always sort of my idea of what I would do with my life. And I never really had any strong idea about something else that I could do, or any interest in doing other things. And I'm the kind of person that this was sort of an issue for me a little bit when I was in school. But if I don't want to do something, like I just won't do it. So I think a lot of a lot of people might say, well, you should do something practical and do art on the side or whatever, which I think is a perfectly good thing to do. Absolutely. If you I would almost say if you don't have to ask your art to produce a living for you then don't. But I was always a little bit too hard headed, I think to see that as an option. Not saying that that was a great idea or the easiest idea, or gave me the, you know, the most convenient life but it was just what I wanted to do. And I was in art schools actually from a really young age. And I met a lot of people, a lot of fellow students or a lot of people who were my students who were coming back to art after, you know, years or decades. It's because they put it aside at some point to do something more practical, or they weren't encouraged at a young age or, or whatever, whatever happened. And I could see that there was a lot of regret in that. And I just didn't want to do that. And I was lucky enough that I had parents who were pretty supportive, especially my mom, who was a creative person herself. She did watercolor painting, and she did photography. And she sort of understood that, that it's something that needs to be fostered and something that you need an education for you need training in. And lucky for me, she was kind of willing to help me with that. And find those opportunities for me. Yes, she was wonderful. So So yeah, I had I had some really lucky, lucky breaks along the way. Now, you know, it's not that it's easy, though. There were definitely definitely challenges. I think one thing in particular, one thing in particular, that is a challenge, I think, especially transitioning from being someone who's a student, to being someone that is a professional or a teacher, is to have the confidence and the authority to sort of stand up and say, like, Yes, I'm a professional, you kind of have to own it. There's not like a finish line, or a diploma or a job that you get that says, I'm a professional now, it's something that you have to just embody and take on. And especially as a teacher teaching art, that's kind of tricky, because you're not going to know everything. It's, it's too big visual language painting, drawing, it's too big of a topic, to say, Well, I just know everything, and therefore I'm the teacher, and I'm the authority. It's ridiculous. If you have that mentality, you'll never get there, right. So in a way, you have to, I think, first of all actually specialize. If you want to be a professional, that means that you're going to be a professional in some certain area. And that means you have to say no to other things. So specializing is very important. And then to have the, the confidence to say, Yes, I'm the authority, but also the humility to say, you know, I'm not an expert and perspective. I don't know that much actually about like drawing architecture. I also don't care too. So it takes a certain amount of humility and knowing yourself to be able to say those things but still say, Yeah, I am the authority in some areas as a teacher, right. Not even necessarily in general, but just in that moment in that class in that school. So I don't know if that answers your question. Exactly. Those are some thoughts I had, as you were asking. Okay, cool.
Laura Arango Baier: 17:59
Well, it definitely leads perfectly into my next question, which, which is something, you know, I don't usually come across artists who, you know, they work, and they teach at the same time, obviously, I did when I was in school, but it isn't. It isn't very common. So my question is, did you choose teaching or ditch teaching choose you?
Catherine Bobkoski: 18:24
I love this question. Because the answer is that teaching was chosen for me. Oh, and I, yeah, my very first job out of high school, I was 18. I was teaching math, believe it or not, to kids. I taught math from you know, basically, like pre K math, essentially, through high school geometry. And it was my my parents business. They had like a little tutoring math tutoring Learning Center. And I was going to take a gap year before college, and I was their first employee. And I didn't really have an option. I'm very glad that I did it. I that was actually a very, yeah, very influential thing on me kind of like to say, Actually, I didn't do it for that long, but it made a big impact. Because I am not a math person. My dad is a math person. He loves math. He's the kind of person that like, does math for fun. And I'm like, what? It's adorable. But I was not a, a, I was not a very good student in math. I could do it eventually. But I was not a very good student in it. But then having to teach it made me realize how poorly taught math is in schools, at least in this country in general. And I'm not saying everywhere and everybody but at least in my experience, the way it was taught May I was like, Oh, wow, this was a lot more confusing than it needed to be. And it, it made me realize that if you could present the information in a certain way, if you could speak a language that the kids would understand. But actually, kids are pretty smart, and they'll get it. And it's all in the, in the delivery and in the way that you interpret the information so that that they can get it and understand what it is that they're trying to do. And what's the goal, and why is it important? And that also illuminated to me how teaching drawing and painting often is not very well done. That, uh, oh, some teachers are there for their own ego, right? They might be teaching to be the celebrated person in the room, like, Oh, what a master, oh, my goodness. But they're maybe not really doing it so that they can actually impart information and help somebody else, you know, learn something or connect with their subject or find some artistic voice in themselves. And a lot of this kind of same thing, a lot of information, I think, especially in painting is just not presented in a logical way. That makes sense. That is clear. Sometimes I feel like it's taught almost like, like alchemy, or something. Like it's this mysterious thing. And, oh, just do this. And then it'll work. But you don't know why. I see you're nodding. It's true, right? There's a lot of that. Yeah. And sometimes I think it's because the teacher themselves maybe doesn't totally understand what they're doing. Or they they can't articulate what they're doing in a way that other people can understand it. Or they have to use a kind of language or sort of way of talking around the subject, that you have to sort of be in the know, almost in order to get it. And I don't like any of that.
Laura Arango Baier: 22:05
You're dropping some hard truths right there. And I, because I feel the same exact way. Oh, I'm so glad. Yes, yes, yes. Oh, man. 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 sasa.com 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 and 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 faso.com forward slash podcast. That's s a s o.com. 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 patients, then go check out their Instagram ad CCS fine art materials. It's such a struggle. Yeah, go ahead. Yeah, no, it's it's such a struggle to because I think oftentimes, you know, I don't want to put all of the pressure and responsibility to the teacher, either. But I do think a lot of people who struggle and also in mathematics, I mean, it's like, if your teacher doesn't, can't, like you said, articulate, or they can't see your perspective on what you're having trouble with. It's like, they're never gonna get it. And if the teacher doesn't make the effort to try to see the other person's perspective, then for sure, like, No. And what's worse is that that really destroys the self confidence of the students as well because they think Oh, my God, I must be broken. There's something wrong with me. And especially if it is an ego teacher, which that's the hardest truth right there. And those are the worst teachers to have because they're around learn. Yeah, and you literally learn nothing from them except like, you just learned like, I'm not going to be like that. Yeah, oh, yeah. And they especially don't know how to teach in my opinion. They just like I They just show off. It's like, okay, yeah, we get it, you're really good. But like, how do I do the thing? You know?
Catherine Bobkoski: 25:10
Yeah, we get it. You know what you're doing? What about me?
Laura Arango Baier: 25:14
Yeah. It's like, I'm here because I thought you would show how to do the thing is I admire you. And it's really sad because it also destroys, like, that admiration that the student had for that person. So it's really unfortunate. So I'm very glad that there are teachers like you out there who actually give a damn.
Catherine Bobkoski: 25:38
I give many dams. Yes. Yes, more than one. Yes, yes.
Laura Arango Baier: 25:42
I appreciate I.
Catherine Bobkoski: 25:44
I really, yeah, I relate to what you say. Because I can't even tell you how many students I've had that will say to me something like, oh, yeah, I really loved art when I was a kid, or when I was a teenager or whatever. And I had one teacher say something to me, right? Like, I had a teacher say, How are you doing it like that? Or just stuff like that, just things like, or while you're just not good at this, or whatever. It's things like that. And that was the reason that that person stopped making art for like, you know, 20 years or something? Or it could be I've heard that story. You know, I've heard versions of that story, many, many times. And to me, that's a that's a teacher that's not there for the student. That's a teacher that can't empathize with the student, which we all should be able to do. Right? I, I really do think that on the whole artists are some of the nicest people that you'll ever meet. I'm sure you know, that talking to so many. But they are. You know, I think a lot of us have just been through the wringer trying to learn this stuff. And it is so challenging. And it is challenging on a level that when you start out, you can't even comprehend it, you know? making faces over there. So, you should have empathy as the teacher as someone who has made it to a certain point, you know, you should be able to look at the person who was at a, you know, an earlier stage in their learning and their development, and be able to say, like, oh, yeah, man, I remember feeling like that. And probably if you're human, you still feel like that. Plenty of times yourself, right? I mean, those no matter where you are in your learning and in your development and in your, in your, you know, artistic career, whatever. You're still going to have days where you think, Wow, I'm just a shitty painter. Oh, am I am I speaking the truth for you?
Laura Arango Baier: 28:08
hard truths? hard truths again? Oh, that would be like the perfect title for this episode. Because it is.
Catherine Bobkoski: 28:17
Like, that's what painting is. I think painting is about looking and seeking truth. Right? It's not what you think the flower looks like, what does it really look like? What is the flower really wanting you to know about it? Right. And it's not a little cartoon Daisy thing. And it's not like a little swirl of pedals. It's something much deeper and much more complex than that. And I think as artists, we have to sort of seek out that. What is the real thing? What is that kernel of truth underneath all of the bullshit? I'm sorry. But OSHA, exactly, yes, yes. There's no other right word sometimes. But having the stubbornness and the hard headedness, and the just, you know, willing to do it again and again and again, to see that truth. I think it kind of helps you to see truth in other places, too, right? There's a certain honesty that you have to have in being a painter and being a teacher. And, and hopefully in other areas of your life as well, because after all, it's probably better to just see things as they are to be honest about it.
Laura Arango Baier: 29:34
Yes, it also saves you a lot of suffering. Like in the like, like like the Buddhist philosophy way where it's like, things are what they are, if you if you dig too deep into it. It's your know. You're screwing it up. Because usually at surface level, that is what it is. And I think that maybe that's also why flowers can be so tricky because we make assumptions about them. Instead of just like that sort of symbol, just like you said, it's like, just look at what it's telling you. It's right. It's right there. So it's almost like you have to unveil your eyes a little bit to really capture it, which is fascinating.
Catherine Bobkoski: 30:24
I think that's, I think that's absolutely true. I don't know a whole lot about Buddhism, but I know that one aspect is that, you know, we don't see the world as it is, and that causes suffering. Exactly. So if you can reverse that equation somehow, you know, maybe you can find find something else. But I mean, of course, for an artist to be saying like, Oh, yeah, you can we can be free of suffering. I'm not sure that that's completely. I mean, we picked on us after all, this. Yes. super difficult, incredibly challenging, lifelong pursuit that you are guaranteed to never master. Yeah. Wow.
Laura Arango Baier: 31:03
Ah, another hard truth. Geez. Oh, my God,
Catherine Bobkoski: 31:09
I think it is, yes, you will never, you will never master everything I will I, I'm just going to put it out there right now, I am never going to be masterful at perspective, or at drawing architecture, or probably even at doing landscapes, I'm just never going to be masterful at that. You know what, that's okay. Because I think having a very thin layer of mastery and expertise spread out over a lot of different things, is not nearly as powerful as having a level of mastery that is maybe narrow, but runs very, very deep. And that's sort of I think, it goes back to a little bit of what I was saying about, you know, needing to specialize as a as a professional, that you have to say no to certain things in order to say yes to something. And, for me, that was oil painting. And still I've and then within that almost flowers, so even a specialization within a specialization that I think sometimes I read a lot of poetry I like I just I love poetry that's like my other interest. Besides, painting is just reading a lot of poetry. And there's a poem by Wallace Stevens, who's a was an amazing American poet, one of my favorites. And in a poem, the auroras of autumn, he mentions in a line, the scholar of one candle, and I think that's what I am, I am a scholar of one candle, I have one candle that I know, very deeply. I love that. And, but a nice image, right? I mean, I did come up with that. That's why I read this stuff. Because it's like, yeah, and, and helps you I think, to see your your own work in your own life in a slightly different way. When you put ideas like that in a new context, you can maybe see things more clearly again. But I like to imagine being someone that just looks at one thing, very intently and very deeply with a lot of with a lot of empathy, I hope. Yes, a scholar, one can we should all be so lucky. Although there's nothing wrong with being good at a lot of stuff if you're able to do. I'm just not sure I have the capacity for that. So
Laura Arango Baier: 33:33
I understand that. Yeah. And that's the other interesting thing about our careers artists is there are so many areas to specialize in. If you really think about it. Like a really good example is actually the painting of the Medusas head. I believe it's by Rubens and you know how has like these intricate snakes? Yeah, he didn't paint them. He just painted the head and then he hired someone who is specialized in painting snakes to do it.
Catherine Bobkoski: 34:04
That's incredible. Yeah, but that happens throughout a lot of art. You know, in art history, I think, is it Bernini, the really incredible sculptor, I'm pretty sure he had like a leaf guy had a foliage guy like on call for when he needed the like foliage in his sculptures, because maybe he wasn't that great at it. Or maybe he had better things to do. Of course, now we have a sort of different, you know, feeling about what it means to be an artist. And that means you're supposed to be some kind of genius who can just do it all. But that's not really how it was in the past. I mean, you know, I think collaboration is also beautiful. It's maybe not what I tend to do myself, but Well, it's not true, actually. Um, And my my partner is also an artist. But he does illustration for themed entertainment for theme parks. And he's a very good painter. And when I'm having a hard time with a composition with a with a painting, because I always sort of feel like composition is a weak point for me, I asked him, I take a picture of it, I put it on the iPad and procreate. And I hand it to him. And I say, I'll make dinner you fix that painting? I love collaboration. Yeah. And usually he comes up with things that I would not have thought of, and that I won't necessarily do exactly. But, you know, even if I don't take the note, you know, word for word, it helps me to figure out the problem still. And we we should all do stuff like that more, I think, because that's really what the best art comes from, I think of some kind of collaborative effort. You know, we're not just in a cave by ourselves, trying to work out how to invent the wheel. You know, even if you're doing master studies to work out some problems, that is a collaboration, right? If you're going to school, that's a collaboration. So anyway,
Laura Arango Baier: 36:11
simple nothing exists in a vacuum. So for sure, for sure. Yes, yes. And that's one of the reasons why social media is so great, too, because it's such a great way to also connect with other artists, specifically, like in your own niche, as well. And sometimes if they're really nice, you can ask them for critiques, which is also really nice. Hopefully, they're not too hurtful, because I know that, you know, for us, artists, we can be very sensitive about critiques. Cool. If we try to be cool, that'd be cool. Yeah. Which brings me to asking, How do you feel about social media as a marketing tool?
Catherine Bobkoski: 36:59
Oh, man, this has been on my mind a lot lately. I think back in September of last year, I had maybe almost 10,000 followers on Instagram. And now I have I think, I haven't really checked today. But I think as of today, I have somewhere around 55,000. And which, I think in my mind, I thought when I got to a certain number of followers, life will be completely different. I'll be set. You're laughing. It took me a while to connect the dots on that. But that's not how it worked. Which probably your audience is already so knowledgeable about this already. They're probably thinking like, da. But it was not obvious to me that social media is like an aspect of marketing, it's maybe a heart or a first step. But it's not the whole thing. And the thing, really, that I've been realizing lately, especially is that Instagram doesn't care if Katherine Bob koskie grows and has a successful business. They care about Instagram growing, successful, and actually helping me out might be counterproductive to that goal, right. So the thing I've been realizing is that, and I think what people want to is an actual human connection, like actual interaction conversation, a personal connection, that is not what you get from watching a 22nd reel on Instagram, although I will continue to make 22nd reels, and I'm very grateful for all the people that enjoy them. Thank you. But But there's more. There's more than just that. And, I mean, so I think it, you know, take that opportunity, whatever opportunity you have to make that connection on Instagram, and get those folks that really love you off of the platform. Get them just subscribe to your newsletter. Let them know about your classes and workshops. Let them know about who you are as a person. I mean, I listen, I I respond to every comment that I get on any of my posts. Wow. And if someone leaves me a nice and especially nice comment, I will thank them individually. And if someone leaves me a comment asking something about painting technique or asking something about or even just saying something about art in general, like I will answer their question, I will engage in that conversation. Always because to me, that's like the whole point of this thing. It's social media. It's not just there for me to like collect compliments and lie From follows and stuff like, this is great. No, we're supposed to make some kind of a social connection with people. And I would advise anybody out there who's trying to like, figure out how to use social media for their marketing or for their business, like try to make it personal. And if someone leaves you a nice comment, or if you notice that, you know, someone has followed you, maybe someone who's not in your circle of people that you're already familiar with, or someone who's maybe an artist that you like, or maybe a account that's bigger than yours, or whatever, like send them a message, DM them and say, Thank you so much. Oh, my gosh, I love your work. Wow. If people are asking you questions, because they want to know about you or about your work, like engaged in that. Check your message requests, quite frankly, so many things get just kind of lost in the shuffle. Oh, I'm speaking more truth I see.
Laura Arango Baier: 41:00
Yeah, I mean, I think there's a fine line though. Sometimes it is. Like, especially in their requests, there'll be a lot of scammers. And also a lot of for sure, creepy people.
Catherine Bobkoski: 41:12
If someone's just DMing, you, hey, you can probably delete that. Yeah, probably you can. But I, I, I know that people notice when I respond to their questions about painting, right? Or when people say something like, I learned so much, watching this little video. Thank you. I am going to pounce on that comment. Say thank you so much. And that that made my day because it did. And maybe even pin that comment, like people notice when you do that kind of thing. So if you're, you know, if you are on Instagram and on social media and just feeling like it's not working for you, I mean, one, you do have to I think find a way to connect with your audience just with the content that you're putting out, like, what do they want to see what's going to be interesting to people and figure out, figure that out first, but then after that, don't just leave it there, like actually engage with that audience and show a little bit of your personality, who you are as a person, something that they can't get from just watching a quick little reel or scrolling through a carousel of posts. So that they feel like you as a person are interested. And that's going to make them interested that's going to help them to click that little link tree thing or hit that subscribe button, which is ultimately what you want, I think from your social media presence. So yes.
Laura Arango Baier: 42:44
Yes, yeah. Yeah, no one, no one really thinks about it, you know, sorry. spoke to my mic. No one really thinks about that, how it is social. You know, it's like, it's not a one way conversation only. So it's a two way conversation. And I agree, the more you milk that or, you know, the more you participate in that, the more you can benefit from it, not just not just in the sense of like getting compliments, like you said, it's also like, maybe you learned something from someone else? Maybe you know, you never know, you never know. And I don't I personally don't really believe in luck, I believe in like opportunity. And being in the right place at the right time at the right overshare preparation. Right. So I think social media is one of the places for that, which is really cool. That's a really
Catherine Bobkoski: 43:35
good way to put it. Yeah, absolutely.
Laura Arango Baier: 43:38
I'm glad we agree. Um, so in terms of the business side, how do you personally handle the business side of your career?
Catherine Bobkoski: 43:51
I'm still learning. I mean, well, one thing I think that kind of goes off of what I was just saying about social media, is that, you know, people want to make a personal connection with you, if you're an artist or a teacher. It's not just about selling a product, like if I was, I think even if I was just selling a product, you know, people care about who they're buying from people care about, what does that product represent? And what does it mean for me? What does it say about me that I would, you know, pay money for that? I think it's even more so if you're talking about art, or talking about someone who wants to learn how to draw or paint. I mean, that's even more personal. Right. So, again, I think it's about you know, looking for that human connection and creating the opportunities, like you said, for that to happen. So get people off of your social media page or whatever, and get them onto your newsletter and then don't just send out a newsletter. Send out a personal email to like your top 10 clients, right? And then don't just email them. Um, like call them and text them and meet them in person, you know, create that human connection, right? Because people are, people will be so much more interested in your work and in what you do as an artist, and as an instructor and as an advisor, whatever, if they're also interested in you as a person, right? I think that is absolutely the case. And I know for artists, like look, I get it. I am actually very introverted. You wouldn't maybe guess it from this interview. I've been just like talking so much, but actually a very, very introverted person. And my ideal evening is being all alone by myself in my studio painting until 1am, probably Yeah, I know exactly. Same. I see your face, you're like, Yeah, that's the ideal. On some level, I think you have to get over it a little bit, right. I mean, don't not do those things. Of course, like we all need our alone time, we all need that recharging time. And we all need time in the studio. I mean, that's just, that's just a given that you're going to spend hours in the studio painting. But don't forget that a part of being an artist is not the work that you produce, but it's also you. Right, that's part of the thing that you have to put out there. And I know so many artists that so many friends of mine that, you know, won't even put a picture of them on their website, or a picture of themselves on their like little Oh, my speaking more.
Laura Arango Baier: 46:38
Yeah, I mean, I It's like, person. Yeah.
Catherine Bobkoski: 46:44
Yeah, don't don't have like a logo for your profile picture. Like, it's your face. Okay, that that is who you are, that says something to people. That it's, it's, again, it's personal, that you are a part of the work that you are, especially if you're a teacher, who are people going to want to take classes from a logo? No, of course. Yeah, just try to make a human connection with people. And the more you do that, the more they're actually going to be interested in investing in you in your product in your work. And anything else that you have to offer? So that's true, that was basically it. Yeah.
Laura Arango Baier: 47:27
And then I was also wondering, if you have any words of wisdom, for, for example, like your younger self that, you know, maybe your younger self would have wanted to hear? And also, that would benefit our listeners?
Catherine Bobkoski: 47:46
Yeah, absolutely. Well, one thing is, which I hope this doesn't sound like too much of a bummer. But this is a lot of work. Learning to paint, finding your, your voice, your the thing that you want to say that is worth sharing with the world, and then learning how to say that thing. Gosh, it's a lot of work, you shouldn't let that intimidate you. But it's just, you know, it's not like how it is in the movies, right? You're not just gonna like waltz into the studio, and just like slap some paint on a canvas, and someone's gonna pay you a million dollars for it, and be really nice about was how it was, but, but be prepared that it's, it's a lot of work, and a lot of it is actually very boring. And if you're a person that, you know, doesn't like being bored. Or maybe he doesn't find boring things to be really exciting. Well, you know, either find a way around that. Or maybe there's another thing for you to invest your time and effort into. You know, teaching so many students, I'm still surprised sometimes at how many of them are just just shocked. Oh, this is actually hard. What? Yeah, it is. It's really hard. And making a business out of it is even more difficult. So, number one, be prepared to work really hard. It's not a bad thing. But also you can do it. Right. Yeah. Also, you are, you're, I'm sure. If you are listening to a podcast like this, if you have put up with what I've had to say, so far. I guarantee you have the patience. And that and you are probably smart enough and interested enough to make it happen. But it takes the time investment and it takes I think the security and the willingness to be vulnerable enough to say no to certain things and to say I don't know certain things and to invest instead in the things that you really, really do care about. Yeah, painting I think in a way it takes this very balanced approach between extremes, right. You You have to, on the one hand, be very confident, and at the one hand, be extremely humble. On one hand, be totally invested in your work, right? And on the other hand, be willing to throw it away, trash it start over, in a moment's notice, right? You have to be willing to invest so much time so much care, at the same time be improvisational, intuitive, gestural, always, you have to have this kind of balance between these extremes. And just live in that in that crazy wild sauce of stuff. Because we're artists are we're cool with that. And don't expect it to ever be, you know, easy. Don't expect yourself to always just have the right answer to have all your steps together. We're all just figuring this out. Right? And to give yourself a break on that, too. That's
Laura Arango Baier: 50:55
what I would say. Beautiful. Yes. Actually, I would also say you, yeah, I would also say, if you do find that you have the answer. Or if you if you feel like everything's going great. You might have to double check. Because it might not 100%. Yeah, it's probably 100%. Either you're just you're like plateauing or you're not seeing things very clearly.
Catherine Bobkoski: 51:25
That's the amazing thing I think about about art is that as soon as you think I got it, it just Batsy right back down. Like, no, actually, everything is different from what you expected. And probably more beautiful and more complicated, too. I mean, that's a but that's a beautiful thing, too, if you can be open and receptive to that. And I would, I would say that too, as its advice to people, not just being an artist. But running a business too, is to just be open and receptive to opportunities, like you said, open and receptive to new information to changing your mind to taking a chance on things to ask him for help. Just asking like, Oh, hey, can I can I teach at your school? Can I show work in your gallery? I love the stuff that you have here. Don't ask you don't get, you know, begin being open to all those possibilities in your art practice. And also in your business, I think, and also in your life, probably pretty good way to move through the world. And if nothing else, it'll be interesting.
Laura Arango Baier: 52:35
Yes, yes. All these hard truths. I love it. Yeah. And then you did mention to me earlier that you have really exciting upcoming workshops. Do you mind telling great.
Catherine Bobkoski: 52:52
Oh, see, we can tell what a great business person I am, I almost forgot. So yes, I have I have a an online workshop and an online live class starting in May. Both starting in May, I'm going to teach painting flowers, simple shapes, and values with Winslow Art Center starting on May 22. I think that's a six week class all online. It's going to be great. I'm going to talk about different flower shapes, how to approach them different techniques for painting different kinds of flowers, I'll talk a lot about color, paint application, stuff like that, it's going to be great. And then with new masters Academy, also in May, I'm going to teach a charcoal drawing class, charcoal drawing, studying from the masters. Which again, you know, studying the Masters I said earlier, it's a collaboration. I really do believe that you can learn so much from looking at the great work that has come from the past. And for anyone who is wanting to improve their painting skills or is wanting to you know transition from drawing to painting. charcoal drawing is a really great medium with which to do that in. It's a painterly technique. It's the most similar to painting an oil that you can get while still working in a drawing medium. So that's what the new masters Academy charcoal master copies starting May 3, and then all the way a year from now I'm going to be in Nashville, Tennessee. So I'm very excited about I love Nashville. Teaching a three day painting workshop, painting beautiful florals with a warehouse 521 I'm super excited about that. Very compressed experience just three days April 4 through the sixth in 2024. We're going to paint flowers from life. We're going to talk about Working from life and what that is like, very, very difficult, very immediate, sort of, you know, out of the frying pan and into the fryer or whatever, whatever. Compared to working from photos, you really have an immediate experience and a very one to one sort of experience of looking deeply at the flower and trying to understand it on that level. So that's three days in Nashville, Tennessee warehouse 521. And beginning of April 2024, so I hope to see you there.
Laura Arango Baier: 55:33
Exciting. And then where can people find you then online? Oh, yes.
Catherine Bobkoski: 55:39
Online. Well, my website is just my name Catherine with a C Bob koskie OB ob koski.com. And my instagram handle is C costs the VOB Koski. And I teach online I teach Bernie masters Academy I teach all over the place. I have videos on my website, I offer one on one mentorships all kinds of stuff. So I'm easy to find. And as I said earlier, I respond to all my comments on Instagram. So if you have questions or if you want to start a conversation or if you just want to hear from me, comment or message me and I'll I will get back to you. It's an open invitation to create that human connection.
Laura Arango Baier: 56:24
Beautiful. Thank you so much, Catherine.
Catherine Bobkoski: 56:29
Thank you so much. This was so much fun. Oh my god. Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for your wonderful questions.
Laura Arango Baier: 56:35
Thank you for answering those so thoroughly. I love that. Oh
Catherine Bobkoski: 56:41
of course. Anytime