Jeanean's Response to: Finding Your True Motivation"

Jeanean Songco Martin’s Response to:

 “Finding Your True Motivation” article written by Lori Woodward Simpson


In the article, Lori defines the “fine artist to mean one who follows their heart, paints for themselves and develops their work according to their own vision rather than the request of a potential buyer or art director”. The commercial artist ,on the other hand, is ultimately painting for someone else first with monetary gain at the forefront and not necessarily painting what they would like to paint or believe in.  


I consider myself to be a slow-emerging, mature artist, which means that life has taken me down many paths but always back to the center, to my art pursuits. I have always tried to paint in a way that expresses my feelings, in essence to follow my heartPainting is after all a combination of the hand, heart and mind.


If one strives for excellence and stays on course keeping close ties to exactly what it is that motivates your work and not simply painting for commercial gain, I think the work will grow in a positive way.  Lori also makes reference to the fact that there will be times when you feel like giving up. I like to quote an excerpt from “Desiderata”, found in Old St. Paul’s Church of Baltimore, Md in the 17th c. “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, for always, there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans” 


Stay on course, believe in what you do and stay connected to your feelings and you will know where to find your individual “aesthetic path”. The art will flow out effortlessly because it is coming from a place that has meaning and purpose. The commercial aspect must be secondary to the creation of works of art that have value measured in artistic integrity and truth.  

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A very gifted musician once told me "If it sounds good it must be right"  There was no music theory cited to support this statement it was based purely on the "sound" and "feel" of the music.  I am a painter/musician. I wear different hats for different teaching situations but it is all related.   Art and music go hand in hand and complement each other. So I see no conflict in my dual pursuits. I do, however, have to moniter my time. I have been putting together a class that I will be teaching hammered dulcimer on.   The class involves teaching mostly Appalacian fiddle tunes using Old-time rhythms and patterns that reflect the music. It has a specific feel and sound. There are many examples and references but you will not find them in the sheet music. You have to “listen” and “feel” in order to understand this genre of music. If you try to put the music in a box it will try to climb out.   Folk music is a living breathing entity and changes with every turn and every person who plays it. There is no right or wrong. 

Recently, I have been thinking about the idea of knowledge and training vs. intuition and natural ability.   Raw talent is something we all have. I truly believe that.   Anyone can play music, draw or make a painting, create something beautiful. We all have an innate sense of beauty. The job of the teacher is to “bring out” the individual and not to suppress their unique qualities. However, teaching art or music must have some structure or it is very intangible and can not be communicated. Having said that, how much structure should one have?

I have mentioned before that I feel extremely grateful to have attended the Maryland Institute College of Art where the first two years were grounded in the foundation courses including basic drawing and painting, anatomy, etc. Some of the information was already available to me through observation, my own natural ability (which you should not be ashamed to acknowledge) and extreme curiosity which should always be high on your list of goals. But to actually have an instructor to guide you in the rudiments of the “craft” of painting is invaluable. The time honored tradition of master and apprentice is one that should be appreciated. 

Formal art or music training is definitely a plus. I do not, however, feel it is a requirement. There are many painters and musicians who have received little or no formal training and they are perfectly competent and genius in their own right.   The real benefit of having an art or music education is obvious but when you stand before the easel in the footsteps of so many other great artist you must forget all of the knowledge and allow your feelings to take over only then will you create a work of art that encompasses the full spectrum of Hand, Heart and Mind.


Jeanean Songco Martin

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 A friend sent me a link to a video.  The video showed a very interesting artist who did monumental mosaics.  I was fascinated watching the video.  His medium reminded me of the gorgeous show that I saw recently at the National Gallery of Art's showing of Pompeii.  The lifestyle that he lived was very extreme and his art was a result of his manic personality or was it the other way around?

  Which brings me back to the notion, does art foster insanity or do you simply go crazy making art?  I think it is a little of both.  I think the image of the tortured artist living in a garret is a cliche but sadly true for some.  I don't think it is neccessary to live the "bohemian" life in order to produce great art.  Clearly this individual was a bit of a character but if you look at the work he produced he "needed" that extreme facade to produce the work that he does. He needed to bounce off of his crazy life to create his biographical interpretations of his world. The fact that he ended up in a mental institution from time to time is a fact of his life not a product of his art.

I liked the first clip better.  The second one begged a little too much reference to the tortured artist Van Gogh syndrome.  The point that the film made that the artist, who suffers from extreme bi-polar ups and downs do definitely benefit by someone else who can anchor them to reality was a good one.  I think the image that his wife gave him, which was a comparison to being a "bird" was very appropriate.  In order to make art we all have to "fly away" from reality to paint.  The physicality of that reality to seek a new reality in the paint.  My favorite parts of the video were the images of mixing paint.  The physicality of that reality is so sensual and so gratifying.  I like to pre-mix my colors on my palette before I begin.  It gives me a point of reference.  The whole time I am doing it, I feel excited and full of anticipation and hope that this time the painting will really work and not work against me.  Art is a craft after all.  anyone can do it.  I really believe that, but only a select few do it really well.


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Plein-air workshop: THREE FARMS - THREE DAYS May 8,9,10 2009

Painted last September at Sandi's beautiful farm in Fairfield, PA

DESCRIPTION 3-DAY NON-INSTRUCTIONAL PLEIN-AIR MENTORING WORKSHOP designed for experienced plein air painters who have worked on their own before and can work independently.    Jeanean will be available for questions and will lead the critiques, but will be painting side-by-side with you. Arrangements have been made for the Host Farms for your every convenience and private entry into a rustic wonderland. A lovely lunch and evening activity is planned at each farm.  Each day of this 3- day workshop we will visit a different farm in Northern Maryland and Pennsylvania.  We will paint on location in the morning, enjoy lunch followed by an afternoon painting. At the close of each day we will have a group critique led by Jeanean. Each evening, we will meet for dinner at a local restaurant to enjoy the comraderie of other artist and share our painting experiences. 

COST:    $140 All three days or $50 per day.  Come for one or all three days!

Optional:  $10 extra per day for “Plein air fare lunch” provided by Chef Lydia  and Chef Sandi.    Lunch includes: sandwich, soup, salad, fresh fruit, cheese & crackers, cookies . Complimentary Coffee, tea, lemonade, water included.



Friday, 8th: Cheshire Place Farm, Mt. Airy MD – Host: Deborah Brower Beautiful, scenic, rolling farmland of  Mt. Airy with historic log houses. Views of another adjacent farm with cows and charming church and grounds.

Saturday, 9th: Farm in Fairfield, PA   Host – Sandi Polvinale.  Surrounded by forest and rolling hills with a private view of a crystal clear pond and distant vistas of Ski Liberty mountain with lovely farmhouse and barns. A campfire in the evening will be enjoyed by all!

Sunday, 10th: Catoctin Mountains & Farm, Thurmont, MD Host– Lydia Martin We will begin our morning painting deep in forest of the Catoctin Mountains with views of the streams and waterfall. The afternoon will be spent at a 50- acre farm in Thurmont, MD with views of a charming farmhouse, barns and outbuildings, rolling hills and open fields and pond. A special farewell celebration dinner at a local restaurant with music by the Martin Family Band on Sunday

FOOD: You won’t want to miss the special  “ Plein-air fare” a  buffet provided each day  by our individual  host.    Lunch Buffet cost: $10. Coffee, tea lemonade and water will be provided at no cost.     Dinner: We will be dining at local restaurants in the area individuals responsible for cost of own meals.

TRANSPORTATION: Provided by individuals. If you are interested in car-pooling please call Jeanean for assistance. If you are commuting please plan to meet at the appropriate site each day at 9:00 am. Map and directions will be mailed to you upon registration.


FAIRFIELD LODGE: Small, moderately priced (717) 642-8245

FAIRFIELD INN & B & B & TAVERN:    (717) 642-5410 

LIBERTY MT. RESORT & Conf Center (717)642-8282

Individuals are responsible for making their own arrangements for lodging.

CONTACT: JEANEAN   AT (301) 540-2092 or E-MAIL:


Not just another painting workshop but an enriching experience”


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Don't forget to mark your calendars for Common Ground on the Hill on the beautiful campus of McDaniel College in Westminster, MD Come for one or two full weeks of fun for the entire family.  Drop the kids off at the "World Village - 5-12 and newly added Mini-World Village 2-5

Tradition classes:  Week I - July 5 -10th,

Roots Festival 11&12th  Farm Museum,Westminster Md

featuring an array of Fine Artist and World Class Musicians and headliner , legendary Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Moutain Boys 

Tradition classes:  Week II July 12-17th

 Jeanean will be teaching


  See ya' there. register on line:

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