How it happens.

When Danit Ben-Ari of Interior Transformations commissioned Jerry to create a painting for a living room she was designing, she gave him a handful of fabric swatches. She was looking for a painting that would not only stand on its own, but one that would enhance her work by incorporating the colors and patterns of the fabric in a subtle and complementary way.

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Jerry began by mixing the shades he would work with— warm creme white,  deep burgundy with burnt violet overtones, umber, ocher and a hint of metallic sheen. He decided to abstract the leaf theme from one of the fabrics and experimented by drawing several shapes in charcoal, defining where on the canvas the dominant shapes should go, dividing the surface plane, and creating a pleasing tension with other shapes and line.

 

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He then began the back-and-forth process of editing to shape the composition, adding and scraping paint to create texture and reveal undertones of color, and bringing certain shapes into the foreground while letting others recede.

Gold and Leaf Oil 30 x24"

The finished painting now sits on a deep merlot silk grasscloth wallpaper above a fireplace refaced with capiz shell tile, which enhances its shimmering metallic gold tones.

 

 

How Once Upon A Time Really Works

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The Pixar Animation code which, in his book To Sell is Human, Daniel H. Pink calls “an irresistible new kind of pitch” provides a fascinating six step structure. It includes: Once upon a time…One day…Because of that…Until finally…

You can find more about Pink’s insights here.

I used this format to communicate the value a commission painting can bring to interior design and kind of like the story it tells!

Once upon a time an interior designer was creating a wonderful living space for a client. Every day, she offered her client ideas for beautiful furnishings, colors, fabrics and lighting that would fulfilled their shared vision for a unique design. One day, they both noticed that the art the client already owned did little to highlight and pull together all the elements of the new room. Because of that, they both realized they needed to find artwork that would fit where they wanted it to and complement the space they were creating and all that was in it. Because of that, they both spent many hours on line and in galleries searching for a painting that was the right size and had the right palette for the design they had both worked so hard to realize. Until finally, the client came to realize that she could commission a painting from an amazing artist who would create a painting that would not only be a centerpiece of the room and highlight the work of the designer but that she would love for years and years to come.

So what’s the moral of this story: Don’t wait—include the art from the beginning of the process.

Tweeting Like a Poet

Well, maybe. Sometimes I feel I’ve managed to distill a compelling message into 140 concise, elegant characters, and I admit it’s a bit of a thrill. It’s also been just one of my challenges this past year as CEO and Chief Marketer of Teters Art.

That’s right—it’s almost a year since we launched Teters Art with the dual purpose of bringing Jerry’s beautiful, immensely livable work to a much wider audience; and offering interior designers and their clients original art in the palettes and sizes they need to enhance the designs of their rooms.

In the last year, I’ve spoken with many interior designers, most of who love art but who stumble when it comes to helping their clients choose the art that will both express them and help complete the design they’ve worked on. So here are a couple of ideas for how to bring art into the picture before your clients exhaust their budgets, themselves and you.

2168Evening Search • Oil on canvas • 5′ x 4′

Now on display at Mark Gruber Gallery, New Paltz, NY

° Don’t treat art as an afterthought. Instead, consider it as an important design element. A well-placed painting is both is a cohesive and and highlighting  aspect of a room. It can draw the rug, the chair, the lighting together in the larger sense while helping to draw the eye to details of color and shape.

° Do let a piece of art help define the space you’re trying to create. Different colors can uplift or tone down, help warm or cool a room. So can composition. Does it draw you in in an exciting way, or offer you something soothing to sink into?

Silver Dials on Red Silver Dials on Red • Oil on canvas •  2′ x 6′

This commission piece was based on a 2′ x 2′ painting

of the same motif for a client of Interior Transformations.

A brief recap of some of the year’s highlights:

Most recently, we’re thrilled that Tamara Stephenson invited Jerry to donate a painting for the room she is designing for Housing Works’ 2014 Design on a Dime benefit in April. He decided to use the opportunity to create a new piece that will highlight the theme, colors and furnishings of the room she’s creating. I can’t wait to share it with you when it’s finished.

I also introduced Tamara to the work of Sara Harris,

Hudson Light Oil on Canvas 20 x 24″

and to Michael Teters (Jerry’s brother).

Migration Pattern Encaustic 12 x 12″

They will both be donating to the event. In her blog, Nest, Tamara also highlighted the two paintings Jerry created specifically to complement the penthouse apartment designed by James Rixner, another interior designer we’ve had the chance to collaborate happily with.

One of two paintings Jerry created for James Rixner’s design of a modern penthouse apartment.

And last fall, Diana Lamberty, of Pompanoosuc Mills, invited us to display work in their new showroom on Hudson St. in NYC and, like both James and Tamara, working with her and her staff has been a joy and an education.

at pampanoosucSeveral of Jerry’s pieces seen through the rain-streaked window during the art opening at Pompanoosuc Mills NYC showroom.

And it is also very cool that a major home furnishings retailer has expressed interested in reproducing a couple of Jerry’s paintings. If that plays out as we hope, we’ll make sure to let you know.

By the way, are you following Teters Art? Won’t you like us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, Linkedin and Instagram? Clicking the links makes it easy, and we’d love it if you would.

This first year has been amazing and we are grateful to all of you who have expressed support for and interest in Jerry’s art. It’s inspiring to both of us, artist and chief critic, and helps us to evolve and move forward on many fronts.

We will keep you posted!

Happily,

Betty

Finding Joy

I lost my way at the beginning of this holiday season. Tossed about by news of events in Syria, from Africa and from our own misguided government, and confronted by the pain of illness and loss much closer to home, I wondered how to make sense of the current of joy I was preparing to ride through Thanksgiving, Hannukah and Xmas (with a few birthdays thrown in).

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Despite the counsel of the wise voices I keep close at hand—Pema Chodrom, Thicht Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, and Mr. Rogers—the disconnect felt raw and ragged. I wanted to enter the season of light open to joy yet somehow still connected to the darkness felt by so many.

I wish I could tell you that I figured it out; I haven’t. But I did become clearer that joy, when found, is to be cultivated and not abandoned, along with love and art and beauty, and that going deep into it may somehow help heal our own and others’ pain.

Wishing everyone a joy- and art-full year,

Betty

The Happy Season?

The Happy Season is upon us and everyone I know (except my 13-year old) is filled with some level of dread. Why the dissonance? It’s bigger than all the sparkly stuff that many of us agree has co-opted the spirit of the holidays.

Floating.soldFloating

It may have something to do with, for example, Walmart’s latest effort to support its employees by helping them hold food drives so their colleagues have enough to eat. Food drives instead of living wages??? My personal gloom also comes in part from New York voters who recently approved a bill that will allow casinos to be built in the mid-Hudson/Catskill/Albany area. Sold as a way to reduce local tax burdens, it conjures up a nightmare scenario of unsustainability—of people spending money they don’t have in order to get more, of florescent lights, decimated landscapes and a minimum wage economy where the barely employed will hold foods drives for the barely employed.

Wallkill Tree Two Wallkill Tree

I am not a paranoid person and yet the evidence seems undeniable that this increasingly two-tiered economy is perpetuated so that the majority are too busy trying just to survive, through long trudges and efforts at quick fixes, to notice or be able to respond to what is happening. And yet, there is art.

And next week my family will descend and together we will eat too much delicious food and sing Tom Chapin’s Thanksgiving Song of gratitude, that we have been singing for nearly 20 years. Yes, it’s corny, which is why we love it…

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving,

Betty

Considering Color

With the outside world increasingly monochromatic, it seems like a good time to talk about color. Most people have strong feelings about certain colors, and no matter how much or how little we understand about its effect on us, it matters.

At the gorgeous Azure penthouse apartment on E.91 St. in Manhattan, the living room and dining room offer a muted gray and silver background for accents of red. James Rixner asked Jerry to create first one, then two paintings to fit that palette. Instead of feeling restricted, Jerry found that working with one color in addition to black and white challenged him to explore their almost infinite variations and use layers of light and dark and texture to create depth and add character.

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The painting below is one of two of his brightly spinning Dials paintings that accent other rooms in the penthouse.

Lime & Red Dials.oil 24 x 12"

The work of two other area artists I admire—Sara Harris and Stacie Flint—are also anything but color shy. Yet they each use bright hues in very different ways.

Sara Harris saturates her canvases to evoke landscape and other dream-like images. Her work can both become the focal point and accent to the rooms they live in, as illustrated in this space designed by Danit Ben-Ari.

©2013 Ben Gebo Photography

Stacie Flint, on the other hand, uses strong, vibrant colors to tell  stories in commissioned portraits of people, pets and personal objects. Working from photographs, her choices of color are often instinctual responses based on composition and always incorporate her subjects’ preferences.

Stacie Flint_The Mulvihill FamilyThe Mulvihills

Some people insist they’re “afraid of color.” Perhaps I’ll explore that fear in another post. For now, I’ll stick with it for what it has always been for me—a source of joy.

Until next time,

Betty

Seeing Beyond the Familiar

In considering how to make these posts of value, to offer information that will grab your attention and make you, esteemed reader, eager to spend your valuable time with Teters Art, share what you see and read and—gasp—look forward to upcoming posts, I smack into the kinds of challenges that writers, interior designers and creative people of all kinds confront every day.

Silver DialsSilver Dials

For help, I turned to Maria Popova’s weekly treasure trove, Brain Pickings, a “a cross-disciplinary LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces spanning art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, and more…”

There, in her August 12 post, she speaks to the heart of the matter.

Jumping off from Alexandra Horowitz’s new book, On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes, Popova explores how to think and see creatively and go beyond the boundaries of habit to become “investigators of the ordinary… In this way, the familiar becomes unfamiliar, and the old the new.”

This is the value artists of all kinds bring to a range of different experiences.

Aftermath_ II_oil_pastel_ 22_x_30Aftermath II

Popova writes that Horowitz’s approach to seeing is based on “our shared capacity to truly see what is in front of us, despite our conditioned concentration that obscures it, and the power of individual bias in perception — or what we call “expertise,” acquired by passion or training or both — in bringing attention to elements that elude the rest of us.”

Bringing attention to and offering new ways of seeing the familiar spaces and objects in our lives is the essence of what interior designers do, and their clients value them for that (and their vast knowledge of the resources out there!). But each of our own approaches to creativity can also become mired in elements of the routine. These are the boundaries we must keep challenging ourselves—and each other—to push.

Until next time,

Betty

Turning toward art

The responses I receive when I mention that both of my college and post-college age children are pursuing careers in music, as performers, is revealing. The murmurs of “How creative” contain undertones of confusion, of fear, of how-can-this-be-possible? Shouldn’t they opt for something more secure?

Little Stream copy

Little Stream

Yes, I’ve asked myself the same question each step along the way, almost reflexively, as if it’s irresponsible not to. My children are still young, in their early 20s, and who knows how their careers will unfold. But when it came to asking that question about Jerry, their father, a man in his late 50s, with whose fortunes (emotional, financial and otherwise) mine are intimately entwined, I had to look at it differently.

Always an artist and musician (drumming since he first banged on a pot in his mother’s kitchen), Jerry did what many of his ilk do to help put bread on the table—he taught.

Through painting, drawing, pottery and sculpture he helped some of our society’s most troubled kids begin to accept themselves and others. They learned about self-expression and constructive criticism, and gained insight into their own and their classmates’ creative processes. And while this commitment squeezed the time he had to spend in his studio, it expanded his view of the world.

After more than 30 years, the school, undermined by the recession, closed. Unemployed for the first time in 15 years, watching art programs (and teachers) cut from curriculums in surrounding schools, Jerry considered a process that so many midlifers begin—reinvention.

He looked into cultivating other more marketplace friendly skills (and what are those anyway?), but decided instead to turn toward those he already has.

Et volia—Teters Art was born.

City Afternoon_Oil_18x24"

City Afternoon

Okay, it wasn’t that simple.

But it did become clear that just because our culture devalues (and de-funds) so many of the things that we believe are vital to our individual and collective health—education, childcare, healthcare, art and music—it makes no sense to back away from the gifts any one of us were given.

Instead, we have chosen to find another way to bring more original art into the world, into the spaces, homes and businesses that help others flourish.

 

The Magic in Compromise

My heart sank when the real estate agent and I pulled up the driveway of the house. From the outside, it looked like everything I didn’t want. The tan, vinyl-sided structure was stark against the November landscape, uncompromised by growth but for a few scraggly bushes and two young, leafless maples sitting squarely in front. Still, it was quiet and private, at the end of a cul-de-sac in a small neighborhood. A field of tall grasses stretched to the north, and woods circled around the other side and back, barely affording a glimpse of a neighboring house.

I knew I had to go inside.

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We had started our house hunting ventures with two little children strapped into their car seats while we doled out chocolate Rollos to help ease the drive from the city and the in-and-out-of the-car routine. They wanted every house that had cool toys. We were slightly more picky.

We wanted three bedrooms, an office, and some kind of space for an artist and musician’s studio. We also had other requirements, including the aforementioned privacy and quiet, no hollow core doors, and no vinyl siding. Since we wanted a place we could afford on one income, and neither my husband nor I had the skills or the inclination to take on a fixer-upper, we soon realized that we had to narrow our scope.

The tan house was ten years old, had plastic light fixtures, cat-stained wall-to-wall carpeting, bathrooms with black vinyl-looking tiles, metallic wallpaper, and yes, hollow core doors. But it also had lots of big windows, generous rooms, two sinks in the master bath, a deck, a big screened-in porch, woods and seasonal views.

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The kids, by then six and eight, could play outside unthreatened by roads and cars, and perhaps most compelling, if we moved in, we wouldn’t have to look any longer. First though, we tore up the carpets and laid wide-board wood floors. We repainted the salmon-pink living room and began to scrape wallpaper, but I still fretted.

Could we raise kids with character in a house that didn’t have any?

We unpacked and then stopped, exhausted from the actual move and the need to adjust from the open-ended possibilities of house hunting to the reality of having chosen a home. Because my husband said he wouldn’t live in a tan house, we described it as putty-colored.

The rest of the changes, however, came more slowly. Life intervened, another baby arrived, but it was mostly my ambivalence that kept me from giving myself fully to the house. Although over the years, as we put in another window, knocked down a wall, chose colorful tiles, and furnished each room to our changing individual and collective needs and desires (including finally replacing some of the hollow core doors), I struggled to accept the fact that the windows cranked open, the deer would eat whatever I planted, and that there were no climbable trees in the yard.

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Even as I felt gratitude for the solid roof over our heads, the sunlight that followed me throughout the day, the luxury of moving among rooms full of people and things I held dear, I also longed for old growth, wainscoting, and built-in bookshelves.

Then, almost imperceptibly, something changed. The passing seasons, birthday parties and band practices, holiday celebrations, and uncountable dinners with friends and family added layers and layers of life like an invisible sheen to places where often I had seen only what wasn’t.

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And now, more than a decade after that first heart-sinking drive up the driveway, the trees in front have height and heft and somewhere along the way, without realizing it was happening, the putty-colored house became my home, and there’s no place like it.

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When I Step Out of the Shower

Royal Blue.24 x 24"jpeg

(double click to see the beautiful layers and texture)

This is what I see when I step out of the shower, and it never fails to delight me, pull me into a variety of water-y contemplations as I dry off and try not to trip over the dog at my feet. And it makes me wonder: Is there such a thing as bathroom art? I suspect that it’s something we each define for ourselves and that many of us consider it, somehow, inferior to other art. Interesting, when you think of the time and energy we put into creating beautiful baths, choosing tiles, sinks and faucets, towels and bath sheets. Moisture is of course a consideration, but it alone doesn’t account for the choices people make.

Next to my sink is this lovely print my step-mother had in her front hall (titled Blue Urn with the initials HVW). The frame, which is much more her style than mine, works for the piece and the location and it reminds me of her everyday.

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But I hesitated for a moment before hanging it, wondering if placing it where I brush my teeth was somehow doing her, or the art, a disservice. Then I realized that, apart from seeing it more often than I would if it were in my front hall (especially because I work at home), the bathroom confers a sort of intimacy that I probably don’t need to explain. And bottom line—I like it there.

 

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