Wednesday, January 19, 2011

72 First year anniversary

I MENTIONED to my brother Steve that my blog had been on-line for a year. He suggested posting an interview as a way of commemorating Thick Paint's anniversary. Since my brother and I have been bouncing ideas off each other for as long as I can remember I thought it an interesting and potentially productive idea. Here are his questions and my responses:

STEVE TEARE You have a number of Google Followers. Have you ever looked at what they do and where they live? Any stories worth telling?

BRAD TEARE I'm a very private person so I haven't looked too deep into the backgrounds of followers and subscribers. I have been intrigued on occasion by certain photographs of art and checked out the follower's websites. I've been contacted via email by a variety of artists thanking me for posting information about painting and creativity. Recently a writer in Australia wrote that the blog was helpful as she researched a book she is writing. Such emails are very rewarding.

ST There are a few permanent links on your blog. Debra Teare, James Gurney, and a few supply links. Tell us why these are on your blog? Who are these people and places?

BT Debra Teare is my wife and I find her paintings a constant source of inspiration. Her color sense is fantastic and I analyze her color schemes quite a bit. She doesn't paint thickly, in fact she paints quite thinly, but I mention her regularly on the site and felt readers might like a convenient link to her work.

James Gurney was the first artist to showcase Thick Paint on his blog Gurney Journey. Immediately after he linked to my site I had hundreds of hits per hour. That dropped off considerably over the next few weeks but it was enough exposure to give my site a really great launch. In addition to my appreciation for James Gurney's generosity Gurney Journey is a great blog that should be on every artist's favorite blog list.

The Rational Painting site and Tad Spurgeon's website really helped me get a handle on how academic techniques could relate to impressionist painting, which is something I don't think has been fully explored. A lot of my techniques relate directly to what they are doing and they are both fantastic resources.

ST If I google the search phrase Brad Teare, I find you're more than just Mister Thick-Paint. You've experimented in lots of other areas. Like book covers, children's books, comic art, graphic novels, woodcuts, museum exhibits, private art collections, and others. Most of your blog readers don't know these different aspects. Do you think it would upset them to know you're so diverse? They normally only see a serious slice of your interests.

BT We live in an age dominated by specialists. I do think it might be confusing to some that I have roots in so many diverse fields. But since I obviously didn't edit out this question maybe I'm finally ready to own up to my past. A lot of what I did in the past doesn't seem that relevant. For example, I never thought my work in animation had much relevance except as a great preparation for my illustration career. But now that you pose the question it might be useful, especially for younger artists, to reflect on how artists evolve and progress. It is particularly important for young artists to understand that meaningful art is mostly a product of hard work and not necessarily of genius. I've been very conscious of young artists as I've created this blog so maybe it's time to acknowledge my roots. I will definitely reflect on this theme (maybe it will appear in a future blog).

ST You rely on video quite a bit to communicate on your blog. Do your blog visitors enjoy these most? Or do you think there's a fair number who get into the read, too?

BT There's no doubt that my videos draw the most attention. I think a lot of people have discovered my blog via YouTube and I suspect a lot of YouTube subscribers don't bother with the essays. But I hope that the two mediums complement each other. I try to edit out any redundancy. A lot of people do creative work on the computer and they're able to listen to videos while they work so the videos have that advantage. There's no doubt that a part of the genius of YouTube is its incredible search engine. I can monitor how viewers discover my site and the accuracy of the search engine is amazing. I take my hat off to YouTube.

ST You've been blogging for over a year with Thick Paint. You've had success where others have failed. Why do you think your blog traffic is good?

BT I really have no idea how my site compares to other sites. And, of course, success is relative. But much to my surprise the site has attracted nearly 100,000 visitors. That is far more than I ever imagined. I attribute the high traffic mostly to the YouTube portal. Other than that I think people respond to my practical, straightforward approach, an approach that might be hard to find in some art schools.

ST What do you feel are some of the rewards of producing the Thick Paint blog? And how about the downside? Any negatives?

BT The biggest reward for me has been how filming and writing about painting has clarified my thinking. I now know what I want to do with my painting, or a least much more so than a year ago. It's difficult to describe how writing about process clarifies your thinking but it definitely has happened. What remains for me now is to harness that insight and create a body of work that reflects that clarity. As far as negatives go, I can't really think of any except that occasionally the filming process for some reason inhibits my concentration. It doesn't happen often and if it does I just stop filming. Most of the time the filming just gets intertwined in the creative process. Sometimes the editing process gets too lengthy. But lately I've been trying to film so I have less editing to do.

ST Have you had any surprises or serendipity with Thick Paint?

BT I am fairly confident I was invited to the Door County Art Festival due to my blog. And due to my participation in Door County I was invited to exhibit at the Marshall LaKae Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. That was a convoluted and extremely satisfying series of serendipity for which I'm grateful. My detour into encaustics has been a huge surprise and only possible due to previous discoveries, many of which occurred on the videos.

ST Has reader response been helpful in the creation of new blog ideas?

BT Yes, readers have often prompted follow-up essays and videos. I appreciate both the gratitude readers express as well as their questions, comments, and suggestions. I've had readers recommend books that proved quite interesting as well as offering variations on technique. Recently I read an intriguing book entitled The Rational Optimist that basically related how all advances are due to a cross-pollination of ideas. I hoped that Thick Paint could be such a vehicle, although I'm certainly striving to magnify that role.

ST If Thick Paint had a manifesto, what would it say?

BT The manifesto might be The history of painting begins now. Back in the 90s there were scores of essays with titles like The End of Art, The End of Painting, The End of Beauty, or other such nonsense. I had a college professor who basically said to me everything in impressionist painting had been discovered 100 years ago. That just didn't ring true. In fact it sounded a lot like scientists in the past who claimed that every innovation had already been discovered. There is something shockingly small-minded about such a declaration. Yet I also knew that the great majority of painters were churning out images far too similar to what we'd seen in the past. But I know that innovation is still possible. I'm not claiming that my work is outrageously innovative. But Thick Paint is a small attempt to be a part of what I suspect will be the beginning of a very innovative era. There's no better way to share information than the Internet and I think it will revolutionize painting as ideas increasingly cross-pollinate.

ST You created a lot of blog content in December 2009 right after you started Thick Paint. Where did you find all the energy?

BT I did create a lot of content initially and am not sure how I did it except to say I seemed to be on automatic pilot. I'm really a very introverted person. So for me to essentially invite dozens of people into my studio was pretty nerve shattering. Had I known it would be thousands of people watching the videos I'm not sure it would have made any difference. Once I got the idea I just had to do it. I had to see where it would lead. As you've noticed the frequency of videos and essays has diminished quite a bit so the initial burst of energy has tapered off. But I still have a list of great topics I hope to write about and film so I hope in time they'll make it onto the blog.

Brad Teare © 2011


  1. Congrats Brad! One year of good stuff and 100k visitors is something to celebrate. My blog will turn one in May, so I hope to feel a similar sense of accomplishment. Not sure I'll hit 100k visits though...

  2. 100,000 visitors in a year is quite an accomplishment. I'm just glad I was able to come across this blog, it's a gem.

  3. Congrats! I spend my days painting children's illustrations. I usually do a lot with oils but have recently ventured into watercolors with my curretn book and yet I'm still sure to drop by your "Thick Paint" blog. Your blog and James Gurney's are the only two which I feel compeled to check on a regular basis.There are other great ones but these two have soemthing that draws me back over and over again. Keep up the great work!


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