What is your focus?

Focus, and why it matters.

While I was looking for a flower picture for a project recently I came across this one of water drops on the tulips. I was struck by the play of the colors and its hint of spring coming.  My second thought was that it was not clear to me what I had been intending as the focal point.  Usually in a close up with this much variety of focus there is a clear point of interest. This one lacks one so it ends up being more about the contrasting colors and delicate watercolor shades of the tulips.  The focus matter, because having that clear focal point is the difference between a good picture and a great picture.

Finding focus.

I sat and looked at the picture and realized that I needed focus in more areas than this picture.  I have always had the goal to be an Artist, but that goal is blurry and lacks definition. When I have tried to answer the question with more depth “Making a living from creating art”.  That answer is still blurry because it still does not create a clear picture of what that would look like.  I sat and thought on all I do and how do I bring that in to focus so that I will have a crystal clear image of what I am trying to do. I have many artistic interests and have always enjoyed teaching.  I pursue a number of different artist mediums and have always been interested in learning something new.  I looked at the tulips again and I was still drawn to the image. Perhaps it was time to define what I wanted, to let go of the single word and find a definition that would be a focus for me.

My Focus.

I wish to make a living as a creator, writer and artist whose work is based on the principal of fostering uniqueness and creativity in a world that values conformity.

What is your focus?

A hint of Spring, ©2012 Rennata Tropeano
A breath of Spring 

Reflections on the Journey.

When thinking about getting somewhere, it has always been about setting goals and getting there. But how do I define there? Where is there?  My journey has not been a smooth one, and I am still far from where I want to be.  I hit a patch of serious depression, where even getting up in the morning was hard. During that time I lost control of the web domains I had been building a brand upon. RennataTropeano and GrowingUnique. Today as I look at this, I could buy growingunique back for only $3695, which is not happening. RennataTropeano seems to have been take over by some alt Rennata, it looks like a personal blog, but with posts by the user gotham. But not me.

So, I loop back and gather myself again and start anew. Creative. No question there, being creative is the thing that keeps the depression at bay. Unique. I have always embraced that term.  Different is not okay in our modern society. Conformity is the norm.  Unique, however has enough style to be okay, so I have always sought to be unique. What is the direction that my creativity and artwork is taking?   A bit of magic and mystical, wandering to faery.  This led me to updating my mission statement. “Growing Unique is about my quest for a life that is unique, creative and magical. I enjoy helping people move from dreaming their life, to living their dream.”

I have become very interested in the links between creativity and mental health. I have not quite yet figured out how to fit that into my mission statement, but when I do, it will be there.

Progress on the Journey

Originally posted

http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/2013/08/12/if-life-is-a-journey-what-progress-did-you-make-today/SONY DSC

What did you do today that helped you move closer to your goals?

Today I wandered around Barnes and Noble, picking up various books on topics that interest me. How to books on reworking clothes, Watercolor painting books,photography books, etc.  Each one I picked up reminded me of a similar book that I had picked up on a previous visit.  Each book was in its own way about living a creative life.  If you throw in all the other creative choices, such as cooking, woodworking, gardening, writing, etc., these books have a significant amount of the floor space allotted for adult reading.  I realized that there is a difference between reading and learning.  Many of these books that I have purchased over the years have been books that I read, but did not learn.

Where I am making progress in my creative journey is in photography, and this is because of the mentorship program in which I am participating.  The key word is participating. I am using the camera and talking about it with the other participants.

Week 2 Plus Post-I am participating in the Camera Basics, Beyond Automatic Mentorship by +G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers organized and run by the program directors, +Robin Griggs Wood +Ron Clifford and +Tamara Pruessner Each week I will be posting a Plus …read more

Source: My Google+

Moving away from Automatic.


Originally published: http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/2013/08/07/moving-away-from-automatic/

For those who wonder why I am spend more time on G+ than Facebook

It is because of the content. No, not a lot of my friends are on G+, but what I  am finding is a lot of people who share interests and passions.  Right now I am participating in a four-week photography mentorship.  It is free of charge and run by a group of people whose photography work I really admire.  This is my weekly post about what I am learning.

Week One- Plus Post

I am participating in the Camera Basics, Beyond Automatic Mentorship by +G+ Mentorship Program for Photographers organized and run by the program directors, +Robin Griggs Wood +Ron Clifford and +Tamara Pruessner Each week I will be posting a Plus Post about what I …read more
Source: My Google+

Work in Progress

Originally posted http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/2012/08/08/work-in-progress/

One of the difficulties I have with getting stuff done is jumping into new projects before I have finished the old ones.  The other day I was talking about making a public commitment   as an aid to showing up and doing the work.  I have thought in the past of making Wednesdays a day when I dedicate the post to what is on the easel, the computer, the sewing machine, on the needles, ……  The list of where I have works in progress is larger than I thought my list of open projects would be before I started to think about it.


I found myself defending all these open projects to myself.


I have so many watercolors underway because they have to dry or the paint will bleed into the wet area.  While this is true, Even the wettest paper on a humid day will dry before I cycle through all the ones I have underway.


The same for acrylic canvases and floor cloths. The same for the bird sculpture.  I decided that I need to make a list of all the open projects that I have and dedicate some time to finishing them.


I choose today’s image because it is something on which I want to start working. A triptych of three Merry go Round Horses. I planned on starting by doing some preliminary  sketches, as I am not sure of my horse drawing skills.


It occurred to me any number of my painting are stuck at the I don’t have the _____ quite right, and maybe I should have spent some time working on preliminary sketches on those as well. Three seascapes that are just waiting for me to paint in the seagulls spring to mind.


They are all very dry and there is not the slightest chance that the seagull is going to bleed into the water.  I am extremely pleased with the way they all look at this point, except of course for those white areas that need birds. So rather than jumping into the horses, I think I am going to commit to creating an open projects list, and studies of seagulls this week.




I should have, I could have…..

Grey Morning

Originally posted  http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique/?p=133

This weekend I attended an art show where I looked at a number of pieces and felt that I should have entered the show.

I didn’t because I felt that my work just was not good enough to enter this particular show.  While looking at the show I found myself measuring each piece of art against my own work.  I was thinking how similar or dissimilar each piece was in terms of style, skill level, subject matter, color choices and technique. My favorites were the ones that were of a higher skill level in a similar style with similar color choices.  The subject matter and technique seemed to be the areas that I was more willing to be open to something new. Not completely open because subject matter also fell into the the area of which I was most critical.

It was the ones of a different color pallet and subject matter that made me look at them and think, I should have entered.  I felt that my skill level was on par or better than a few of the artists, but I would know better than to paint ________ in ___________ color.

The truly ironic thing is guess which paintings won. The painting of the _____ and the one with the odd colors.

While the image I choose is grey, it is not because I am feeling down. It is because it is one that I was thinking of doing for a different contest, one that had to be done in shades of black white and grey.

I am feeling very optimistic, and encouraged as I review my works in progress as I feel more confidant in sending them out into the world. WIP Review, the plane is nearing completion,  and I have pulled out the pencils and watercolors to work with those media for a bit.   I have not put the acrylic away yet, as I want to create some fall paintings, and I may even go ahead with my monochromatic painting.



Back to School or How I Spent my Summer


New blog post, cross posted from http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique

Mountain Lake

Things here on the blog have been a little bit spotty.  It is my intention that as we get back into that school routine that I get back into the swing of posting on a regular basis.  The last couple of weeks have been exciting for me. I was stranded due to hurricane Irene in Colorado. As you can see in today’s photo, that if you have to be stranded, Colorado is certainly a nice place to be.

I was reviewing my posts and discovered that a number of the designing your internet home posts were never published to the blog due to technical reasons.  I am going to be revising them a little based on my most recent research and will be trying to post one of those a week.  I am going to be playing around with the format, and try and develop a pattern of topics.  The categories that I have been thinking about are Business of Art, Work in Progress,  Review or Interview, How to, and Thoughts.

The new category of review or interview came out of my visiting several galleries and meeting some working artists over the summer.  Looking back on this, I decided that there was a lot to be learned from these visits, both good and bad.  Reviewing can be a tricky thing, as most artists have fragile egos that are easily shattered. I decided that good reviews will be accompanied by links and information.  When the lesson that I took away from a situation is “what not to do”, I am going to leave off the who, and where.

Time to head off to work.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on the new ideas.

Designing and Decorating your Internet home- Going back to the beginning.

DSC04255 At the end of my last post, I had a list of questions that would would help sort out the what to do in SEO and creating a internet presence.  If you are just starting, or thinking of starting to get on the web your first question would be why?  While I know there are many reasons why someone might want an internet presence,  this is aimed at authors and artists who are self promoting their product.


Are you selling a one time purchase product? Or are you selling yourself as a creator who has multiple products?

This is not a one time question. This is actually a question that you might want to keep in mind every time you create content.  An author with a new book might be focusing on selling that one book. They may have a back list and other works, but the sale of the new book takes priority.   I might want to sell you a large original painting to hang over your couch, but think the better approach is to market myself as a creator.  What ever you decide, the next step is to find a home.


Do you want to rent or own?

This is not so much a question of what you pay or do not pay, but rather of who owns the URL. 

What I mean in terms of renting, is setting up shop on someone else’s site.  There are pluses and minuses to this. The plus side is they are usually easy to set up, and come with an advantage of being part of a recognized internet presence.     WordPress, Livejournal, Etsy.com, DeviantArt and Blogger are a few of the commonly used sites.  One of the downsides, is that the url gives you away as a renter, and there are limitations on getting the site exactly as you want it. 

My blog started out at the URL  https://rennata.wordpress.com, a rental.  It is now located at http://rennatatropeano.com/growingunique, an URL that is clearly mine.


Do you want the upkeep that comes with the larger mansion, or do you want the simplicity and ease of a studio apartment?

One of the main reasons I brought the two together is that I did not want to have to promote my blog at wordpress, my website, and my online gallery.  I could have just run my entire website on wordpress under my own URL, I think of this as the studio apartment. Easy, with everything all together in one place.  I had reached the point where the blog was just not big enough to do everything I wanted it to do. I wanted a full searchable online gallery, and I wanted all the functionality of the blog, and I wanted something to tie them all together.  The gallery, the website and the blog each have their own controls, and require a bit of maintenance in each place. It is a tradeoff that I chose for the increased functionality.

As I move forward with series of posts, I am going to explore my options on each choice, so I am sure that I will be making changes to each.  This is where they are today, the starting point.

image image

Designing and Decorating your Internet home.

Breaking Fast This morning found me up at an unreasonably early hour.  I started reading some of the blog posts that  I had marked as “come back to later”.  They were all about creating an online presence.   One of them asked the question, “what do you want from your visitors?”  The answer in that blog was a sale.  I do not deny that I also want sales, but I want more. I want a relationship with my visitors that leads to sales.   Author Steven Saus did a great job of  explaining the difference in his guest blog post,  “The Used Car Salesperson” Versus “The Family Dealership” (you can find a link to Steve’s site under authors and artists).

Some of the blog posts talked about directing or moving people around your website, others spoke about welcoming them in and creating a community.  This reminded me of my still life, Breaking Fast.  It was taken in a room that was perfectly designed to be welcoming, intimate, and draw you in. The moment you walked into this room, you wanted to take a seat at the big crescent shaped table.  The crescent shape let you see and talk to anyone around the table.  The table faced a window that looked out across the lawn to the river.  An incredible Tiffany fireplace flanked the table. This picture does not capture the beauty of the fireplace, the mosaic tiles created a depth difficult to capture in a photograph.

Tiffany Fireplace All and all, it was the kind of room that drew you in and would inspire you to stay chat and linger over coffee or tea.  The tour guide told us that many a great business deal was made here, not in the boardroom. This is what I want in my website, a well designed place of beauty that can lead to lasting business relationships.  How do I translate this perfection of design into my internet presence? The business grew out of the relationship between the host and his guests.  Part of what made this room perfect was that it was designed to be a breakfast room.  It was not trying to be the dining room, the kitchen table, the study, the music room and a place of business as well.  I tried  to think of what part of my web presence could be my perfect breakfast room. My Blog? My website? My online gallery?  I have just brought these all together so that I can have a single “home address” on the internet for SEO purposes.  Taking this analogy a step further, What does that make social media?  My first answer was the door,  but that did not quite work. I decided that they were more like outposts with portals to my home.

When it comes to social media,  I have always thought of Facebook as a large cocktail party, Twitter as an elevator conversation, Livejournal as a conversation in a coffee shop. Flickr is a bit like flipping through someone’s photo albums. Second Life is very much an amusement park with Conference Center facilities.  I am not at all sure what Google+ will turn out to be, but I think they want to be my whole neighborhood.   What I am discovering is that the real question is where do our websites and blogs fit into all this?  Reading the wildly conflicting suggestions for how to “manage” social media,  I could sort them into the used car or family dealership models easily enough, the harder part was knowing which ones would work for both your product and your internet presence.   Are you selling a one time purchase product? Or are you selling yourself as a creator who has multiple products. Do you want the upkeep that comes with the elegantly designed mansion, or do you want the simplicity and ease of a studio apartment? Do you want to rent or own?  Each of these choices would result in a different answer applying.   I shall review my online home, and it’s out lying portals in a series of posts on this topic.


This post was originally posted at  http://www.rennatatropeano.com/growingunique