#45 Connie Solera: 21 Secrets, Art Retreats, and Classes

Artist Connie Solera created the online set of classes called 21 Secrets many years ago. You may also know her by her studio name, DirtyFootprintsStudio. You’d think that creating and managing 2 seasons of 21 Secrets per year for many years would keep her very busy. But no, Connie does so much more. She teaches at wonderful art retreats a few times a year in Mexico, and next year she’ll also be in Costa Rica. She also has an online course called “Painting the Feminine” and has done year-long mentorship programs. In this episode we hear how she got started and how she does it all.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher.

Connie Solera

One of Connie's paintings.
Other photos from the retreat in Mexico.
By Connie Solera
Connie teaching at one of her classes.
This is the big one that Connie Solera and Dirty Footprints Studio is most famous for: 21 Secrets. Now in its 15th version: Paper, Glue, Scissors will start October 29, 2018, but you can pre-order it now.
Connie in Mexico with her art.

Here are some of the things we discussed in this episode (click on the names to follow the links):

Connie’s website is called Dirty Footprints Studio.

You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

The Fall, 2018 version of 21 Secrets is available October 29, 2018 and is called Paper, Glue, Scissors. You can see what the latest 21 Secrets are here.

Go here to find out about Connie’s Fearless Painting Retreats in Mexico. After the first of 2019, she will be posting the Fall, 2019 retreats on her website. 

Connie’s Painting the Feminine online class will go on sale March 20, 2019 and will begin April 15, 2019.

Here are a few of the free resources we talked about that are available on her website:

The Creative Circles Guidebook which talks about how to start your own retreat.

21 Secrets Conversations

Connie attended the Cleveland Institute of Art and Cleveland State University for their art program.

Connie taught at the Cleveland Museum of Art. That is not to be missed when visiting Cleveland.

Here are some great takeaways from this episode:

  1. When thinking about going to art school after high school, consider going to a college that offers a wide range of classes so you can learn about more than just art.
  2. As an artist, you have to listen to your inner voice and don’t just do what you think people expect you to do.
  3. If people ask if you teach, and you think it’s something you’d like to do, then just say “yes” and start a class at your own home or a shop, or wherever you can find a space.
  4. Trust your process; if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  5. Use how Connie worked her blog years ago to utilize social media today: comment on other people’s posts; follow them; create daily content; and create and share videos.
  6. Don’t wait until you have a template as a sample to try something new. Connie created an online course before she had even taken one, because she felt that she could reach so many people that way.
  7. If you want to learn something, don’t be afraid to reach out to other artists and ask them what they do. Connie did this when she reached out to 30 artists and interviewed them. This became her Art Journal Love Letters.
  8. Sometimes you need to just put something on your calendar and then figure out the details later.
  9. Don’t look at a fail as a fail. Look at it as an opportunity to try something else.
  10. Find your relationship with risk.
  11. When you want to do something that’s new and risky, think about what’s the best thing that can happen if you do it, and the worst thing that can happen if you do it. Then you’ll probably realize that the worst thing wouldn’t be so bad.
  12. If you want advice on whether you should do something, don’t bring it to the masses. Only talk with the people that you can trust and are further on than you.
  13. As artists, we are choosing to put creativity rather than destruction or hate out there.
  14. This is a direct quote from Connie: “Creativity has an importance and a validity and needs to be in our world.”

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Connie Solera as much as I did!


#44 How Artists Can Use Instagram

Instagram is perfect for artists who want to show their newest art, or their works in progress, or their latest show, or a video of their process, because it’s a visual platform. No matter what you’re posting on Instagram, it’s got to have a photo first. I’ll explain how easy it is to post photos and to look at photos. In a matter of a minute, you can scroll through photos on any topic, by artists from all over the world. You can curate your feed, so that you’re receiving posts by artists that use the same materials as you or the same techniques, or different ones if you’re looking to try something new. This is a beginner’s How-To for Instagram for artists, and does not delve deeply into how to gain thousands of followers quickly.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher.

My artwork that I've been posting on Instagram.
I've been making lots of these watercolor and ink pages and posting them on Instagram.. This one's my favorite.
These are all posted on my personal Instagram account, @suzanneredmondart.
I've started a new series that I'm posting to Instagram. I'm making collages with letters that were written to my grandmother 100 years ago. They came from a man who was flying for the U.S. in France during World War I. I post one every day or so and they will tell the story over time.
These are all posted to my @suzanneredmondart Instagram account.

#43 Maria Tritico: Jewelry Artist and Art Therapist

Jewelry artist Maria Tritico tells me how she developed her current style of jewelry, after making many very different pieces during her college years. She also talks about her year as a Resident Artist at an art gallery and school, and the application process and what is expected of a resident. In her current position, she is teaching jewelry techniques to adults and teens, and she’s also developing an art therapy program. She shows her jewelry in galleries locally and in other states.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher.

Maria Tritico

Three works she made while in school. This first one is her Mirror Cape.
Hair Collar
Birds Brooch
Skyscraper Necklace
Moderne Necklace
Moonscraper Brooch
Cable Bridge Brooch
Aqueduct Bracelet
Cinderblock Necklace
Sketching out a design.
Making a paper model of a design.
Asymmetrical Hoop Earrings
Moonrise Over Missoula Brooch
Detail of Moonrise Over Missoula Brooch

Here are some of the things we discussed in this episode (click on the names to follow the links):

You can visit Maria’s website at mariatritico.com. 

She is also on Instagram and Facebook.

You can buy her jewelry pieces through her Etsy shop.

For the month of October, 2018, Maria is donating 30% of all sales to Gigi’s Playhouse of Houston, in honor of Down Syndrome Acceptance Month.

In November, 2018 in New York City, Maria exhibited her jewelry at Artist and Fleas Soho at the #fail#success exhibition during NYC Jewelry Week.

Maria teaches jewelry making at the Lighthouse Artcenter in Tequesta, Florida. 

She was previously a Resident Artist at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

You can find out about the Armory’s Artist in Residence program here.

She is a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

Here are some great takeaways from this episode:

  1. Artist residencies enable you to create a body of work over a period of time. You can search online to find many types of residencies, from 1 week to a year long.
  2. Maria held a residency that required her to teach classes. When applying for an instructional residency, tell how you will add to the organization by teaching something new.
  3. Create an artist’s CV so that you’re ready with it when someone asks.
  4. Take great photos of your art, and have them available so that you can enter a show at the last moment.
  5. Find or make a light box to photograph your jewelry and minimize reflection.
  6. Jewelry will look beautiful photographed on either a white or black background, but remember that galleries often require your photos to be on a white background.
  7. Display jewelry with a bright background so it will really pop, like Maria did when she used a dark teal background.
  8. Also when displaying jewelry, ensure that it is secure and cannot be removed from its case. Figure out a way that it can be lifted just far enough so someone can try it on. Maria has used monofilament tied to the jewelry piece and held down by fishing weights.
  9. Find shows to apply to on Instagram by following the hashtag #callforentry. These are often free to apply rather than requiring a large fee.

I hope you enjoyed this episode about Maria Tritico and her beautiful jewelry.

#42 How to Hang and Display Your Art

Every artist should know how to hang and display their art because its not always done by a gallery staff. In this episode, I’ll go over three areas you’ll need to cover when hanging art for a show: #1 Preparing the artwork for display; #2 Arranging where the artwork will go and what it will need to be displayed; and #3 Doing the actual hanging and setting up the art.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher.

Artwork from Continuum 2018 pop-up Gallery. Notice the two different ways that the jewelry is displayed.
Notice that the artwork is in line vertically and the second columns are in line horizontally.
In this image from the 2014 Continuum gallery, the sculpture has been put on the pedestal against the wall so that it can't be knocked into. The bird pictures by artist Anthony Burks, on the right, are treated like an installation and were arranged and hung by him.
Notice that the sides of the paintings are finished and they have the same visual line down the wall.

#41 Karla Walter: Ceramic Artist and Maker of Crows

Karla Walter is a ceramic artist living in Florida. Her environment gave her the idea for what she wanted to make in clay: She decided she was going to make crows. But crows aren’t her only subject, and we talk about the other birds and animals and fish that she makes. We also talk about her art installations, which are so much more than a single bird, as they create a whole scene that tells a story in the gallery.

Listen here or download from iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, CastBox, or Stitcher.

Karla Walter

Crow with a Pearl Earring
I'm So Fancy
Navigator in Black
Karla with her Caracara

Here are some of the things we discussed in this episode (click on the names to follow the links):

Karla Walter’s website.

You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

Karla is the Art Gallery Specialist for the Palm Beach State College art gallery.

Karla has shown her art at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.

You can find Karla’s art on her website and at MAE Gallery in Delray Beach and  Armand Bolling Fine Art.

She has also displayed at the Whitespace Collection’s Out of the Box show.

Here are some great takeaways from this episode:

  1. Karla spoke of a couple of her professors when she was at art school. Art instructors can be an ongoing source of mentorship and collaboration.
  2. You need to find your why in everything you do. Seek it out until you know that you’ve truly found it.
  3. See if your town or county has an art and culture organization like the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. These organizations may have exhibit opportunities, and may provide business courses or training for artists.
  4. When displaying 3D artwork on pedestals, use museum gel or putty to keep it in place so that it doesn’t get damaged.
  5. Turn to other artists when trying to solve a problem with your own art, as Karla did when she approached an artist who had a foundry about making sturdy feet for her crows.
  6. One art piece can be displayed at a gallery, but many can be displayed as an art installation in a gallery, like Karla has done with the scenes she creates with her crows or her sardines.
  7. When showing an installation at a gallery, include everything that is part of your art piece, and include detailed descriptions of how it should be arranged and hung.
  8. Attend art events to meet other artists and find out about exhibit opportunities.

This week’s episode #41 bonus business episode will be about displaying your art. Be sure to give that one a listen too.

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