Wine on the Vine: Painting to Fit an Imposed Theme--A Journey of Self-Discovery

Wine on the Vine Giclee on canvas or paper
Originally uploaded by sandiwhetzel

This painting was my answer to a challenge to create a painting to illustrate the theme, "Wine on the Vine". The Umpqua Valley chapter of the Oregon Wine Growers was seeking original artwork to promote the 34th Annual "Greatest of the Grape" event held at Seven Feathers Convention Center, in Canyonville, OR. I wanted to compose a painting that would convey "Wine on the Vine" differently than any other artist might do.

I started playing with the placement of wine bottles in thumbnail sketches, with the idea that I just might do a painting of abstract wine bottles. Then I started playing with adding grapevines and finally gravitated to the idea of the bottles growing on the vines with grapes inside the bottles. Then I got excited about that concept and I painted it in acrylics on canvas, adding texture which resembled craters in the moon and the moonlight radiating outwards in the sky. I feel like it does truly say "Wine on the Vine".

But more importantly, it really opened me up to my own creativity; forcing me to expolore how I could imagine and invent subject matter for a painting from nothing other than what I might conjure up from my own imagination. I'd never done that before. I''d always been inspired by something that I'd actually physically seen which became the catalyst for a painting. Allowing myself to work within the confines of an imposed theme opened the door to my creativity and gave me a great satisfaction.

Though not commissioned for that event, the painting was used to promote two other wine-themed events in Roseburg, OR. A reproduction of the painting was the promotion piece for the "Art About Wine" Exhibit in the Hallie Brown Ford Gallery at the Umpqua Valley Arts Center in 2004 and the Umpqua Valley Wine and Art Festival in 2005. The cover of Currents: The News-Review's Guide to Arts, Entertainment and Television, July 15, 2005, Roseburg, OR, featured the painting and I was interviewed regarding my painting. The painting is also featured in a book, Northwest Artists: A Collection of Works by Notable Artists of the Northwest, released May 16, 2005, ISBN 0-97600170-5. The original acrylic painting was sold prior to those events during the Umpqua Valley Arts Summer Arts Festival in 2005.

During that art festival a mature gentleman seemed genuinely interested in this painting. He collected original art only and told me the painting spoke to his heart. He was going to need a few weeks to come up with the $900 to purchase it and I didn't think to offer him the option of putting down a cash deposit to hold it for him. Later a very young man expressed interest in the painting also. It was to be his first major art purchase. He told me that right after he first looked at it he bought a glass of wine and sat at a table accross from my art booth; just sitting there thinking about how much he'd like to buy it and how he would probably have to live on Ramen noodles for three months if he decided to buy it. He finally took the plunge and paid for it in several monthly installments. I was so endeared by his falling in love with the painting and having to own it. It was my first personal major sale apart from the gallery experience where the artist usually has no personal contact with the buyer. I was so impressed that someone so young was willing to make financial sacrifices to purchase something I had created from my imagination.

I got such wonderful feedback on this surrealistic painting. I've sold a few high quality giclee reproductions of it on canvas. One was auctioned off at the Palate to Palette fund raiser for Umpqua Valley Arts Association. High quality giclee reproductions in limited editions are available on canvas or archival paper upon request and greeting cards of it also. Later I used the same composition of the painting to compose the second in a series of "Wine on the Vine" paintings. The overall color is red-orange in that one, which created a completely different feeling and energy in the painting. I'll be posting "Wine on the Vine II" in another post later.

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