Monday, December 30, 2013

Life in Layers

“Layer by layer art strips life bare.” - Robert Musil

I stumbled on the quote above from Robert Musil the other day. After reading it several times, I was in complete awe. Read it again if you haven’t already. Wow!

What in the world is he talking about? When you start painting and really appreciating the elements of any artistic piece, your perspective of the world changes. You start to notice the colors, the details, the imperfections, and the basic elements that were seemingly not there before.  It’s almost as if your eyes are open for the first time.

"Morning Mist"
Also, as many of you know, painting can be a layering process. From a blank canvas you build the background. Layer upon layer of paint. Layer upon layer of color to create the perfect shades. Then comes the actual subject being painted. Take “Morning Mist” for example. The shoreline takes shape. The bones of the trees make their appearance on the canvas. The foliage adorns the trees. Suddenly the trees are reflected on the water’s surface. A mist rises up off of the water. The painting that started as a blank canvas now portrays the morning mist of Saluda Shoals Park. Layer by layer, starting from the bare bones, you create your own version of reality, your vision of life.

Life itself is a layering process. Every day we build knowledge, grow, improve and have experiences that make us who we are. The same is true in business. You may have noticed some of the changes that have been happening at Grapes and Gallery. We have spent the last two years creating an environment where you can explore your inner artist and paint your day. At the same time, we have been building the background for a larger vision. Over the past few months, we have expanded our offering to include painting supplies, rearranged the easels, repurposed wooden pallets into a bar, and gotten visitors accustomed to the idea of having a divider between the the front area and the painting area. We have also renovated the downstairs to make it a relaxing area people want to visit. Layer upon layer, we are painting a new tomorrow.

Part of the new rock wall downstairs. Painted by Allison Fowler.

We look forward to sharing the new version of us in the new year, and we hope that our new creation will enhance your experience. Stay tuned for more.

Happy New Year...Paint your day!

Monday, December 9, 2013

What is ART worth?

What is ART worth?

What is anything worth for that matter? From an economic perspective, it is a question of supply and demand. Any object is worth what someone will pay for it. So, what are you willing to pay for a piece of art?

Think about da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” local artists’ pieces, and even your OWN art work. How do assign value to these? What are they worth?
From an artist’s perspective, a painting may be as valuable as his ear (Van Gogh) or even as much as life itself. An artist never feels like he is finished with a piece of art. As Leonardo da Vinci said, "art is never completed, only abandoned."

In a sense, a painter leaves a part of himself in every piece. A vision. A creation. An interpretation. Every line is valuable. Every color represents a temperature that sparks the fire. Every mark means something. Even the marks that do not make the canvas but that were brought to the front of mind occasionally; the ones that were thought to be paired with another; THE mark that made the entire piece; or even those that were stifled or instantly regretted and covered, all of these create the piece. As such, a painting is a rare glimpse into an artist’s mind. Without this expression of thought, life might be unimaginable.

Some artists use the most traditional of tools, while others find art even in their instruments. We know of local artists that turn garbage into art. Thomas Crouch found construction blue prints in the trash, turned them into the canvas, and created fascinating images of crows. 

"Congregation" by Thomas Crouch (

Others create art on tin. Some take minutes to create. Some take days or even years. How much of the artist are you getting in each piece? What parts do you enjoy? Respect? Admire? Envy? Crave to experience?

Art can "move" one person and be considered good art. A toddler’s art is priceless to his mother. It can move lots of people and be considered great. The meaning and value, however, will be different for every viewer. The next time you consider the value of art, remember that you are getting a glimpse at the artist himself, and think about the meaning you draw from it. If a piece moves you, it has value.

Express your inner artist! Find your perspective and be confident in what you enjoy about art. Pick up a brush and proceed with reckless abandon. The experience is invaluable.

Paint your day!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Small Business Saturday 11/30

With only a few days until Thanksgiving, we are surrounded by advertisements for Black Friday and holiday shopping. Many of you will be rushing out to take advantage of the annual sales at big retailers. Today, we would like to remind you to save some of your shopping for Small Business Saturday as well. This is a great movement that not only recognizes the unique value of local businesses and artisans but also benefits the community.

Small business owners wear many hats. They are the decision-maker, the chief financial officer, the customer service representative, the human resources coordinator, the courier, the janitor and everything in between. They work with other local businesses and government officials to make sure they are able to grow and to continue offering quality goods. They take pride in the products and services they offer, and they give back to the community. For example, this year Grapes and Gallery has participated in fundraisers for the Lexington Medical Center, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, Habitat for Humanity WomenBuild, as well as several other local church fundraising initiatives.

Small Business Saturday, however, is not only about recognizing the hard work and unique contribution of local companies. These companies have a significant impact on the economy and the environment. A recent article I read by Michael Salguero, CEO and Co-founder of, detailed the impact of buying local. The image he used to tell his story was so amazing that you should see it yourself (on the right). To summarize, though, compared to big chain stores, small businesses contribute more to the local economy and the environmental impact is much less. 

What does all of this mean? The cost of shopping at a small business can be much less than shopping at a national retailer, especially when you consider the local financial impact and the difference in waste and pollution generated. Support your neighborhood businesses and make a difference in your community.

This year Grapes and Gallery will be participating in Small Business Saturday. We will be open from 9AM to 3PM Saturday 11/30. Everyone is welcome to stop by and shop for the artist in his/her life. We have customizable Christmas stockings, paint, brushes, canvas, and easels in addition to Grapes and Gallery gift certificates, painting packages and shirts. The basement will also be open, and every painting on the wall will be available for purchase. If you feel like painting while you are here, there will also be $20 DYOT (Do Your Own Thing) from 9AM to 1PM as well.

Stop by and join us Saturday to celebrate Small Business Saturday.

Paint your day!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Paint YOUR Day!

This week we participated in the 30th anniversary for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM). This organization uses art therapy as one of the methods to help survivors of violence and abuse with the healing process. Many of the guests at the event contributed to a collaborative painting meant to highlight STSM’s use of art therapy. At the end of the evening, there was a completed painting to commemorate the anniversary.

Even though art therapy is a formal mental health profession, I realized that many of the guests that come to Grapes and Gallery comment on the “healing” that they experience during a painting session. For some, painting offers a release from a stressful day. For others, it allows an expression of creativity or feeling that is otherwise not available. More generally, painting provides at least two hours in the day where everyday problems take a backseat.

As the holidays approach, we tend to reflect on what we are thankful for and strive to find peace with who we are as individuals.This can be hard when we are constantly trying to improve. Maybe you’re trying to lose 10 pounds or want to get in better shape. Maybe you have an illness that is weighing on you. Maybe you are scared that someone important to you will not approve of what you are doing. Sometimes our self-doubt, stress, and fear of what others might think gets the best of us and prevents us from celebrating small steps in the right direction, taking pride in ourselves and holding our heads up high with a smile.

Some people come into the Gallery and immediately say that they cannot paint a stick figure. As they get into the session, they doubt every brush stroke and worry what everyone is going to think of the finished painting. They love everyone else’s painting and comment on how dissatisfied they are with their own. When in reality, their paintings might be the best in the room. As people comment on how great the paintings are, the skeptics start to take pride in their creation.

Your ability to paint does not say anything about you as a person. It does not define you, much like your physical appearance or problems do not define you. Just like life, when you step away from a painting and come back to it the next day, you can appreciate the experience and acknowledge that your creation is just as good as anyone else’s. You can celebrate the small successes and be proud of yourself.

When you decide to paint next, don’t focus on what is wrong or what others might think or even of how you might fall short of your own expectations. Have fun with the experience. Enjoy the break from your phone, work, and all of the outside irritants. Celebrate your creation.

This is why we say, “Paint YOUR day!”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Acrylic Paint

Are you inspired? Ready to become the next Picasso? Now that you have the art fever, it’s time to get started. What do you need? At a bare minimum you need canvas, brushes and paint.

If you have ever been to an art supply store, you know that selecting paint can be a challenge. There are 40,000 different types of paint. Well, I am not quite sure how many there are, but the selection is overwhelming. There are tiny tubes of paint that cost a fortune and gallon-sized bottles that have descriptions that leave you wondering whether they are paint at all. Don’t despair. There’s no need to spend a fortune or worry.  

There are three basic categories of paint - acrylic, oil and watercolor. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages; however, acrylic paint is perhaps the most versatile. If you have painted at Grapes and Gallery before, you are already accustomed to using acrylic paint. That is all we use.

Acrylic paint, a synthetic medium, was developed in the 1940s. This fast-drying paint offers many benefits compared to both oils and watercolors for the recreational painter. Additionally, painters are able to achieve the same effects when painting with acrylics as they can when using either watercolors or oils. Below, in no particular order, are a few of the points of differentiation.

#1. Versatility. By starting with acrylic paint, you can produce pieces that are similar to both watercolor and oil paintings. Acrylic paint can be watered down (or applied with a wet brush) to create pieces that exhibit the almost translucent colors of a famous John Singer Sargent watercolor painting.

Alternatively, acrylic paint can be applied in thick coats (with a palette knife for example) to produce impasto pieces that are as good as any van Gogh.

If you don’t recall from our palette knife post, impasto is a technique where paint is applied in a thick coat, producing a textured surface where the brush or palette knife strokes are still visible.

#2. Control. If you are a control-freak, acrylic paints are for you! Acrylic allows you to determine the destiny of your painting. There is nothing that cannot be easily undone or modified. With watercolors, on the other hand, you surrender control to the water. Care must be taken not to dilute the watercolors too much. If you want control, choose acrylic. After all who wants their palm tree to turn into a weeping willow because of runny paint?!

#3. Odor. Oil paints have a strong odor. I don’t know about you, but a noxious smell in the house would put a damper on an afternoon of painting. Acrylic paint has almost no smell.

#4. Dry time. Whoever first used the expression, “it’s like watching paint dry,” was probably looking at an oil painting. Oil paint dries very slowly. If you are used to painting your background, letting the paint dry, and then painting your primary image, oils might prove to be a challenge. In fact, a thick coat of oil paint could take weeks to dry! Acrylic paint dries in a matter of minutes. I like to be able to finish a painting and hang it on my wall immediately.

#5. Color mixing. Acrylic paints are extremely versatile in terms of your ability to mix them. Sometimes you need to mix several colors to produce the exact shade of green as your grandmother’s vase. With acrylics you can either blend paint on the canvas or on your palette. Watercolors, on the other hand, are best blended on the canvas. Eek...back to my control-freak impulses. I want to know the color is perfect before I put it on the canvas.

Hopefully, the great debate between acrylic, oil and watercolors has been resolved for you. Now, what type of acrylic paint do you buy? How much of it do you need? Yikes. Those questions might be the subject of another post. In the meantime, if you need some guidance, you can always ask us.

So the next question on your mind might be, where do you get your art supplies without spending a fortune? You’re in luck! You can now turn to Grapes and Gallery for all of your canvas, brush and paint needs. Contact us for more information.

Paint your day!