Phoenix -> San Diego -> Virginia Beach. That's been our life path since my mister joined the Navy. Well, for him it was more like Phoenix -> Great Lakes -> San Diego -> All over the World -> San Diego -> World Again -> Virginia Beach -> Spain -> LA -> Virginia Beach.... you get the picture.
Let's start in the beginning: Phoenix will always be home. So when I think of painting for the home crowd, of course it's more cacti, creosote, jackalopes, maybe a gila monster or rattlesnake. You know... desert stuff. Stuff that's all pretty close to my heart (yes, even the rattlers). Desert life is pretty... obvious, isn't it? And it's crap I WANT to paint. Homey mushy gushy cure-that-homesickness stuff. Now, painting all this stuff is relatively new, as I didn't paint... umm... anything while I still lived there. I'm a late bloomer.
Then came San Diego. And while it was a touristy beach town, I lived pretty far from the beach culture. Instead, I really dove into what us Geeks associate with this big little beach town: the Geek Mecca that is San Diego Comic-Con. Most of my sales out there were vintage inspired geeky twist watercolors or chic foodie staples like mirepoix, barley and hops. Really I avoided the beach culture cliche art scene completely. Not that I don't appreciate a good seascape oil painting or seashell collection. It just wasn't my bag and there was no pressure to conform. Meanwhile, my SamjenArts business partner was the Octopus Queen so... oceany stuff was allll her.
And finally came Virginia Beach. I mean... beach is even in the name, people. The pressure to conform to the beachy art scene out here is practically insurmountable during the summer. There are entire festivals that require beach themed art to participate. Most people at the festivals and shows are buying beach glass art, beach scapes, beachy faux faded signs, and mermaid cutouts. That's because summer is the most important part of the year for Virginia Beach. Tourists make up a massive amount of the economy and they pretty much only come to see... the beach... in summer. And no one wants to go back to their cold east coast homes for the winter without a little bit of warm beach art goodness, right?
So here I was, talking to the owners of Buoy Tattoo and Gallery. They have a few of my originals up in their gallery and a crate of my prints available in their lobby. Occasionally, they tote their represented artists' prints out to events. But... I didn't have any bright colorful beach art to take. And that, my friends, is a huge missed opportunity for everyone involved.
It was time to put on my big girl pants and paint something new. Something... oceany... beachy? Sandy? Wet? Fish? Kelp? Oh god, what is botanical about the sea? Anemones. Anemones are fun to say and dangerous to spell (and touch?). Anemones are neat looking, too, and even though they aren't technically plants... They'd work. What's those little fish that always hang around them? Clown fish. NEMO! Oh, there we go. There's the geek twist I needed. My bright silver (orange) lining in the cold wet sea. Now I was ready. You win this round, Virginia Beach. (And the next because I am definitely in the middle of a non-Geek related Seahorse at the moment).
Here's my barely-finding-nemo-related sort of beach town appropriate beginning of conforming to Virginia Beach norms.