Welcome to the Bold Artist Podcast. I'm here with my co-host, Charla Maarschalk, and today is a very special day of remembrance. It's November 11th, and here in Canada, we are remembering our veterans and the ones who have given their life and served our country for our freedom. And so from the bottom of our hearts, we express gratitude. Um, not only Charla and I, but from all of Bold School who we represent here online. We just express our gratitude and our thanksgiving for how you have served our country.
Yes. Uh, I'll just say thank you. Thank you so much.
Many of us have, uh, this, this problem that we come to in our art, the presentation of art, the selling of our art, where we find ourselves overexplaining. Not just overexplaining, but just explaining in general.
Explaining in general. Yeah.
Qnd feeling really, um, misunderstood and, and, um, often we are really caught having to just explain ourselves and explain our art. And it's a true problem. And Charla, you were, you were making me laugh 'cuz you were telling about the scenario at art shows, what people say to you. And it's funny, but not funny, but funny in its own way.
It's not funny the first time, but after a while you get used to people's responses at art shows.
So, Charla, as many of you know, she's a bold color portrait painter. So faces is Charla's specialty. She teaches, um, and unleashes all her talent and skill in the Bold School online classes. She'll teach you step by step how to paint in bold color, particularly portraiture. And so when Charla goes to big shows and she's displaying her beautiful faces, she gets a certain reaction which triggers her to feel the need to explain. Or do you even explain, Tell us about this, Charla.
Well, I think, Okay, when I was young, when I was a younger, I'm still young. When I was younger, talking to myself right now,
We're not as young as we used to be.
When I was younger, um, probably in university and, and fresh outta university, I always wanted, uh, artists to explain their art. I always wanted to explain what I was doing. I never ever heard anybody say why not to do it. But I did hear artists say I shouldn't have to explain my art. And I would go to galleries where there was really weird art and like strange installations. I mean, we've all think been there and you're just like, I have no idea what's happening right now.
That's what my husband says when I take him to galleries with, you know, abstract or just out out of the norm kind of pieces. He's like, I don't know. I don't know what, what it is, what is it?
Yeah. And, and you want somebody to tell you. Right? I, I want that. I still at times want somebody to tell me what the art is there for, what it's doing, what its purposes. And sometimes I want to explain my own art. And we actually have like a little list of reasons that we've compiled of people of why people want to explain their art, which we'll go through in a second. But it took me a long time to get the answer, which was probably through a lot of trial and error in my own work. In my own work, being at art shows, where I started recognizing that, explaining my art, didn't do it justice. Explaining my art, dug me into holes and got me into conversations that I didn't wanna be in. Um, there's times and situations where talking about why I created the work is very relevant and important and can create deep conversations and connections. But I have a very strong belief that at least at first glance, when somebody's first looking at our work, we should never explain it. And, and I would hold really firm to that, like to never explain your work to somebody who's just looking at it for the first time. So, if you're at a show, you're standing beside your piece and somebody just walks up, looks at it and looks at you, Are you the artist? And you're like, Yes. And they're like, What's this about? And like, don't tell them.
You would stand firm to say, let the art speak for itself.
So do you ask them questions back or what, How do you
Yeah. So, I have a few strategies there cuz I've been through about every situation. But the reason I say let the art talk for itself, let the art speak for itself is because art is supposed to make you feel something. Like, it's supposed to. Like it really, it is supposed to make you feel something, to experience something. If you start explaining your work, then what the point of it? The work is yours. You're creating it, it's come from you. There's a part of you in it. But I don't think that many of us artists want a studio full of art. I don't want the space behind me filled with a hundred pieces of art. I want that art to leave my studio, to be in shows, to travel the world, and to be hung on people's walls, maybe even in museums one day. You know, I want that art to have a, a, a destination and a home.
I want it to leave me to grow up and to leave my home. So, the the end goal for the art that I create is for it to belong to somebody else. For that, for that person to really connect with it, they, that art has to be meaningful to them. And even though your story and, and your authentic experience with that art can create connection and meaning for the viewer. I have experienced, and I've I've learned through other people's experience, as well, that the first time that a person connects with the art on their own, with their own experience and interpretation is when they connect to it. And when they usually consider that they want that on their wall. Um, so I think that we need to allow the person to connect to it. So, if we're standing there and answering their questions or telling them what the art means to us, we're taking that experience from them. We're, we're robbing it. We're robbing them of that experience to feel, and see, and experience the art for themselves. That art has a message, it has a purpose for somebody else's life. Not for not to make you feel better. Um, that's, that's my thought.
Absolutely. You, you're really hitting the nail on the head with explaining, explaining why we shouldn't explain. And you know, I, I think I've explained, um, not only in the area of, of my art, but I've explained my life. At times I feel like I'm explaining, and I, I really dug into that with some personal reflection, wondering, why do I feel the need to explain? And I realize that I have a deep love for people, that I don't want them to ever feel like they don't understand something. Like, I want to comfort or bring them the answers that they need or want. And then I also realized in that same breath that I love them enough to explain, I was also, and now I know I'm going to some deep levels here, but I was also fearing their response. Like, there was a people pleasing side of me that was pleasing them to not leave them wondering. You know, we've had all these discussions and previous podcasts. We've talked about perfectionism, we've talked about shame and fear, and being confident, being bold and all of these things, and this component of overexplaining or explaining our art is part and parcel of all of that fear where we're afraid to be misunderstood.
We're afraid of what people are gonna think if they don't understand. And then, like you said, you're robbing them of the experience of actually bonding or connecting or interpreting the art for themselves. Letting the art speak. You're robbing the art of, if art can experience anything, you're robbing the art of its purpose.
Um, and so this has been something I think it's taken a long time to get through to me that I, like, you know how you said you have some strategy, I don't know if you revealed your strategies yet of how you respond to people at art shows, but I've developed strategies and basic strategy simply put is I've stopped explaining. I, I don't know what other explanation to say, but sometimes as artists, we wanna paint what we wanna paint. We wanna explore what we need to explore, and there isn't any reason that we should explain it. And yet dearly
A conscious reason. Like, there will be, there is a subconscious reason. And I bet if we talked about it, you would be able to draw it out from you. But,
Right. And, and is that necessary? That's the other question.
Yeah. I just don't, I don't think that it is.
Yeah. And so at times,
Not for the viewer, it can be... I think is necessary over time for ourselves to understand why we're painting and what we're painting.
But it's not necessary in that moment.
And I've shared, um, you know, we, we've talked about how we even, I, I facilitate a workshop within our community, the Find Your Why workshop where inside of the Bold school community, we have an array of workshops and, and, um, some are practical skill building and others have to do with heart matters. And I lead, um, people through journaling and finding your why and your purpose, which is important. So, I do put a strong emphasis on knowing our why. And, but I'm not sure that I need a why for every single subject matter I, or sketch, or painting that I put my hands to. I just, sometimes I'm inspired, and I'm like, Oh, I'm gonna try that today.
And it's, it's, um, it's just, uh, something that artists need to do and not need to explain it. And, um, and so that's been my strategy lately as I just tell myself, Stop explaining. Because just let it be what it is.
Yeah. Um, I feel like every single point you've made, I have like a story for
Tell us stories. Charla tell us stories.
Well, yeah, like, I have about a million. But I would just remember, I think one that illustrates the point is I painted this piece. It's actually, um, I can see it. Um, it was on, I think I had it back here in a podcast or so ago. It's called Is
It, is it too big for you to grab and show the YouTube camera?
Yeah. It will make, it will make everything difficult.
It's called, So You could Google it. It's called A Thousand Generations. And it's Charla Maarschalk Art. A Thousand Generations. It should come up.
It's Charla.ca, correct?
Yeah. And it's a, if you Google it, it will probably come up.
But the, it's of a, a elderly woman who's just got her eyes closed. So, just a portrait of an elderly woman with her eyes closed. She looks as though she's in contemplation.
I know the one, I know the one. You read my mind.
Meditation. Yeah. I feel like she was, she's in prayer. However, I just... So one day I just saw the p picture of her, and I was like, Oh, I like this pic picture. I'm gonna paint it. And so I, that was it. Like that... I didn't think any further of it. I just wanted to paint her and see if I could paint her. And so I painted her. And in the time of painting, I had a really deep personal spiritual revelation that I don't really feel like going into details.
You don't need to explain it.
Of that story, I don't think they're necessarily relevant. Yeah. I don't need to explain it.
Don't explain it
I didn't, I didn't particularly paint it with a purpose. But during the painting, I had a deep spiritual revelation. Um, and, and it, it had to do with, um, like my life, the generations that went before me, mainly my grandmother. I mean, I'm painting this elderly woman. Um, so think of somehow start thinking about my grandmother, and I start thinking about the, um, like ripple effects of her life, and the good things in her life, and how they've affected, you know, her sons and then their children. And now my children. And there's a grandchild in our, in our family. You know, had this ripple effects of the generations. It was a very deep moment and, and almost like this revelation understanding that brought me to tears while I was painting. I'll never forget it. It was incredible. So, that happened and I was like, okay, well now I know why I painted it.
Even though it was beyond me. It was like out of this world beyond me experience. So, I called her a thousand generations because I, it really just resonated with me that we don't even know the effects of what the generations that have come before us have done for us. I think like, like health wise, we always think about, well, why is my grandmother passed down to me? But I think, um, there's a whole ton more than we will ever know in our health, and in our psyche, and our DNA, but also in our spiritual world, in our, in our spirit, in all aspects of us. So, that was my experience painted this painting. I went to a show. I put it in a show. I'm just standing there. People are walking in my booth, looking at my work. I always try to step back because I don't want to impede on their experience with the art.
I like to watch them, too. And over and over again, people came into my booth, looked at this piece, and they stopped on this piece. They just stopped in front of it and just stared at it. And some people cried. Like some people came to tears in front of this piece. And they just would look at me, and they were like, I, I don't even have words, but I just, I know exactly, this reminds me of my grandmother. This reminds me of my family. This reminds me of this, It brings this to my mind. You know, they're just pulling, like, pouring these stories over me and some of them in tears. And then they would say like, What were you painting? What was this about? And often my response was exactly what you just said. And they weren't just saying, Oh, she's an old lady.
She reminds me of a grandmother. She must be your grandmother. It wasn't that. It was, they came, they felt something, and experience or memory, or quite possibly the revelation I had while I was painting it, 'cuz it was from beyond me. That have that came into this painting quite possibly that revelation washed over them, moved them to tears, moved their soul and spirit, whether they were in tears or not. And they experienced the message of this painting, and it brought them joy. Like they were joyful even though there, there were tears, then they looked to me, would tell me what they thought. And then we had a discussion over it. And I would say, 'cuz I, I felt in that moment, well this is powerful. They're experiencing what I experienced. This is powerful. And I would tell them, and then they would understand the power that had just, this experience we had all just had. But I think that explains it so perfectly. Not every piece is like that. Not every show is like that, but it explains it perfectly because I had a very clear spiritual experience. And when other people look at this piece, they have the same one without being told what that story was about.
So, I could have ruined it for them because if I had told them, then they may not have experienced. And they're like, Oh, that's nice. You know?
Yeah. So is that part of your strategy, to ask them like to almost put it back on them and say, what do you sense?
And do you ever share the title of the piece.
and then say,
Yeah, the titles are often
Like this is what I named the piece, and then let them connect to any dots?
Well, the titles usually if I'm at a show and they're, I'm there, the titles are usually, you know, beside the piece. So, they could read that without me. And, and a lot of people will. They often will read it, especially if it's if they're having an experience with the painting. So, if they come to me, especially if I'm seeing, like if somebody had seen the painting, and I could see they're having an emotional response, and then they look at me and they say, Well what's this piece about? I know for sure I don't wanna ruin their experience because they're having one. For sure. I can see it. So I kind of have a couple of questions that I ask them. Like I'll just say, Well, well why did you stop and look at this piece? You know, like, why did you stop?
I don't wanna say what are you feeling right out to them, but like, why did you stop at this piece? Why are you asking about this piece? And so I put that question back on them to make them think and draw out their thoughts and their experience. And then I ask them like, Well, what stood out to you about this? Like, what particular about it? Cause maybe they just love blue, you know, they love blue. Maybe they love old ladies. You know. And I, I remember somebody actually said, Well my grandmother just passed, and this just reminds me of her. You know, so that was her experience with that. And then I asked them, What does it make you feel? 'Cuz now they're telling me, and I know that they're connecting, so what does it make you feel? Mm-hmm. Um, and, and if you want to go far enough, which sometimes it does, if you're willing to let the conversation happen, I say like, does this remind you of anything?
Does this make you think of something in your own life or an experience that you've had? So, you really draw out the experience that they're having with that piece. I mean, I think that helps you sell your work for one, because it'll help them really connect to it. But after that, if they're still persistent and, and still asking me what I think, then I will tell them about my experience. I don't want to go into detail, I don't, don't wanna ruin the experience that they had, but I will talk about it. 'Cuz quite often my pieces at shows, the ones I decide to take your shows have stories. And I will tell them eventually, but I just don't wanna ruin that expression, you know, for them.
Because that's what art is supposed to do.
It goes into your heart, and it affects you, and it changes you, and it impacts you. And you have to let that happen.
Yeah. I know you say that a lot, Charla, but it's so important for us to hear it on repeat because it gets the message in there. So just to recap all that, Charla and I have talked about today on the Bold Artist Podcast, why we want to explain our work. You know, I even shared just a bit of my personal experience of just that people pleasing or that even people loving side of explaining. But there's a bit of a list here that we put together on, um, why we want to explain our work comes from looking for validation. It also comes from wanting to defend our art in case it's misunderstood. We, we feel defensive for it, we wanna like make sure it's understood. It, it also has to do with our identity being closely attached to the work. So, for instance, if we just don't separate ourselves, like Charla said, you said that you stand back at a booth, and you allow everyone to absorb it on their own understanding, their own perception.
Um, but that takes a lot of strength in the area of identity to just be confident and bold in your own self, to separate from your work, and let it speak for itself. And the other reason that we, we try so hard to explain our work is simply to get people to like it and get people to buy it. And that's not the best sales technique either. To explain it too much is like Charla said, robbing them of the experience of just letting it connect to their hearts, but also you're robbing the art of the experience of speaking for itself. And so these are all such great, uh, great things to be thinking about the next time that we open our mouths to explain our art. Just that little check to say, why are we explaining, and what are we explaining, and did we give the art the chance to speak?
So in closing today at the Bold Artist Podcast, be sure to check out all of our offerings at Bold School. Get on our email list so you can get all of our updates at boldschool.com. Thank you for being here. All of you faithful watchers on YouTube here on the Bold School Channel. Make sure to hit subscribe if you haven't already. And, um, and keep following and you can find links, um, anything that we talked about here in the show notes. Find us on Instagram @boldschoolinc until next time.
Hold on. Hold on. I got one more thing to say.
Until next time, you gotta let your art speak for itself. And the way to let your art speak for yourself is to learn how to let your art speak for itself by having the skill, and the knowledge, and the understanding to put your, your story into that work. And that comes with skill, and it comes with practice, and it comes with knowledge.
And it is something that Bold School can help you with.
Yes. You, it's... Yes. Bold School can help you.
That's my little plug for the day.
But I think, I think that's part of it because I think, uh, that's how you were like ending there. And I'm like, you let it speak for yourself, but sometimes art's not speaking for itself because you,
Because you need some extra skill.
Yeah. Yeah. You need to like, let it learn how to let it speak for itself and get your, to make a clear message in your art. But I think it's really, really important to know when your art is ready to speak for itself, as well.
So, that's like a whole other podcast. But yeah. Uh, yeah, just be aware if you're having trouble figuring out what your art is trying to say or meaning that some, some classes and mentoring and community can help you with that. That's all I have to say.
Absolutely. And so, untill next time, keep creating.