Artists for something


Dear Artist,

A group mailing arrived here yesterday. A young friend was asking for donations so he could quit his day job and get serious about painting. I told him to keep me informed of his impending cash flow. His request reminded me of a ne’er-do-well rock musician I once knew. When asked if he ever did fundraisers, he answered, “Only if they raise funds for me.”


“Kashmir wild flowers”
watercolour painting
by David Rankin

It’s easy for creative folks to get a feeling of entitlement. I’ve always thought there had to be something in it for the funder as well as the fundee. Advances on future performance have a way, like those notorious sub-prime loans, of non-performing. Grant-giving organizations know all about this.

What’s better for creative folks to dig around in their passions. Doesn’t matter what these are — dancing, kayaking, figure skating, perch fishing, bird watching — as long as they’re sincere. Passion builds connections. Enhancing the personal solvency of the passionate just happens to be a by-product.


“First To Arrive”
oil painting
by Eva Van Rijn

Recently, I received a request from subscriber Jeffrey Whiting to join a collective movement called “Artists for Conservation.” They charge you to get in. AFC is a significant way for artists to “support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage.” Right down my alley. Five hundred Signature Members from 27 countries are publishing wildlife art books, holding exhibitions and promoting knowledge.

It’s invitational. Your work has to be up to scratch. But just hobnobbing with competent folks like Derek Wicks, Robert Bateman, Eva Van Rijn, Jay Johnson, Pablo Dominguez and Alison Nicholls would be worth the jury and the fees. To give you an idea of some of the work done by AFC members, we’ve put up a selection at the bottom of this letter.

No one likes the idea of sitting with a tin cup and a sign that says “I’m an artist. Feed me.” Better to think about who we can feed. In this day and age there’s a universe of possibilities. Believe me, when artists get into servicing their passions rather than shivering in the rain, good stuff happens.


“Rocky Mountain Eye II”
acrylic painting
by David Kitler

Best regards,


PS: “We are a collective of like-minded artists who share a common mission.” (Jeffrey Whiting, President and Founder of AFC)

Esoterica: The AFC is a not-for-profit foundation where members share expenses. You can get an idea of the full range of their activities by going here. If you think someone owes you something, the Foundation is offering its 9th Flag Expedition Fellowship and a $5,000 grant for an artist to travel to a remote part of the world to study threatened species or habitats.


Artists for Conservation


by Tammy Irvine


“Great blue”
by Glen Loates


“Impala Drinking”
by Pip McGarry


“Artic Council”
by Derek Wicks








“Mara river horses”
by Steve Burgess


by Roger Casteleyn


“Arctic Terns”
by Michelle Mara


by Heidi Uotila








Lucky artist
by Carol Chretien, USA


“The snow leopard”
oil painting
by Carol Chretien

I have gotten to the place where my art and giving are one. The magic of this is simple for me… my passion (Art) feeds my compassion for homeless animals (a donation is given from every sale) and that is my Passion & Purpose. I “have” to paint and I “need” to help. I am one very lucky artist. Making art satisfies my own need to create but it also impacts others in the more practical way of a 3-way win… I paint and it sells, a collector has art they love, a homeless animal receives funds for food, shelter or medical care. I am Blessed and that is Art Helping Animals.


Do it with enthusiasm
by John Ferrie, Vancouver, BC, Canada


“Peonies NYC”
acrylic painting
by John Ferrie

What colour is the sky in this ‘artists’ world? It is called WORK and it is something artists need to know how to do. I once met a wonderful woman who counseled women about getting out of prostitution. Sadly, she was once a prostitute herself. I was intrigued by this woman because she looked like any dynamic business woman you would see in an office downtown. She told me she always recommended “keeping the regulars, just don’t work on the street.” I thought that was a brilliant piece of advice for anyone trying to “make it.” I graduated from art school in 1988. Since then I have painted and worked steadily on my career as a painter and I have logged over 100 exhibitions. I never know when a painting is going to sell or even if people are going to respond to the “new direction” in my work. But, five nights a week, I put on my black slacks, a pair of black shoes and an apron, screw on my smile and wait on tables. I am good at it and I enjoy getting out of my studio. I would also say to anyone, no matter what you are doing, do it with enthusiasm. What is really loathsome is to sit and listen to some hack artist who obviously hasn’t made it yet, standing there with their hand out and asking the public to “support the arts.” And in this economy, trust me NOBODY HAS SPARE CASH TO SUPPORT THE ARTS! And these days, grants and bursaries are a pipe dream for most of us. What your young artist friend needs is to work hard and dial up the quality of his work and bring people to his paintings.

There is 1 comment for Do it with enthusiasm by John Ferrie

From: Don Cadoret — Mar 13, 2009

I agree wholeheartedly John! As an artist for decades now, I would rather give than receive….or get caught up in the political competition of grants and things. I’ve never had my hand out. I strive to work hard every day and keep myself visible.

Love the Peonies…..your work is wonderfully fresh and I always enjoy seeing it in this blogosphere….


An artist’s dilemma
by Gail Caduff-Nash, Mountain home, NC, USA


“Stormy day”
oil painting
by Gail Caduff-Nash

This topic of starving artists is provocative. I have sent some of my things to my state conservation groups for their silent auctions and helped them that way. As someone who also wishes she could spend her days painting, and knows that this is her real talent, it is frustrating having to go look for “real jobs” that hardly pay anything anyway — much less for more art supplies and framing materials, or jury fees or publishing costs. It almost makes the somewhat communistic ways of old Italy, where people were born into certain forms of work, and Leonardo got his break through his father’s status, almost desirable. Unless of course you were born unto street sweepers or funeral directors. There’s no answer for this. The government tries to give money to aspiring artists. Private foundations try to help artists. I’ve never asked for any of this. But I’m not producing art right now either and can’t afford to get what I have done ready for market. It is the way it is. If art is someone’s lifelong calling, they’ll find a way to get back to it.


Conservation book makes good
by Valerie Kent, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada


original painting
by Valerie Kent

Herbert Pryke, an artist living in York Region in Ontario decided to publish Connecting With Nature and after a juried entry, 20 artists from the region were selected to be in the book. It is a wonderful little art book with lovely quality art works in it. All the profits are being donated to the Toronto Conservation Authority for the protection of the Oak Ridges Moraine, a unique and precious resource. The artists donated the use of their art work and are also giving lots of time for sitting at various venues and shows to promote the book. The book has generated much interest and so there are many venues where the work has been shown and will be yet shown, before the year is up. It is a remarkably selfless and worthwhile project and Herbert has poured love and money at it.


Sharing our talents
by Nancy Holloway

This is a wonderful letter and I couldn’t agree more. I contribute 3 or 4 paintings on a regular basis to charities for fund raising. I even had one person who won one of my paintings call me and ask to see more of my work. That’s certainly not why I do it. I believe we are to share our talents for the good of mankind as well as bring beauty into the world which some may be inspired to purchase. Of course, I’m retired and have an annuity so am not dependent on selling paintings. However, to ask people to support me so I can paint seems to be the reverse of the way I see the situation.


Where’s the entrepreneurial spirit?
by oliver, TX, USA


photo manipulation
by oliver

I always thought of artists as entrepreneurs. Perhaps your young friend should self-publish a book for those who can’t buy a full original piece. Art for the patron or consumer should give something back at least. Then there are grants, residencies and a host of other ways to seek support. Still, at the end of the day, whatever the market will bear. An interesting approach to get a self-funded “residency” or grant. But if he succeeds, why didn’t one of the other approaches work as well. I won’t be surprised if his approach doesn’t work.

(RG note) Thanks, oliver. You were right, it didn’t work. The fellow phoned me today and said a lot of folks wrote to say he had the wrong approach and told him to get lost. He raised less than a hundred dollars and half of it came from his sister. He has decided to cancel his campaign. He is 22 years old and already a rather good painter, so I’m sure he will make it by hard work and application.


Give and get back
by Rob Corsetti, Farmington, UT, USA


“High country monarchs”
oil painting, 17 x 26 inches
by Rob Corsetti

Don’t shoot your young aspiring artist friend just because he is young. It has taken me 50 years to learn the more you give the more you get back. It’s an eternal law whether it in your art, relationships or whatever. In charity the more you give and sacrifice — whether time, money or means — it seems to have its own reward.






Win-win situation
by Alison Nicholls, Port Chester, NY, USA


watercolour painting
by Alison Nicholls

I completely agree with your view that artists need to find their passions and pursue them. Not only is this good for any causes the artist may support as a result, but I am confident that it improves the quality of the artists’ work. After all, there is nothing more inspiring than working on what you love.

I discovered this after moving to Africa in 1994. I always enjoyed sketching but had never been inspired to pursue art on a regular basis. Moving to Africa changed all that. I know it is a cliche but I fell in love with the bush, the wildlife, the space and the colors. I found myself sketching on every bush-trip and over the following nine years my watercolor style developed. I now live in the US, paint African wildlife full-time and return to Africa on an annual basis. I now use my wildlife art to raise awareness of endangered species and funds for African conservation organizations. I joined Artists For Conservation and in 2007 I was awarded their 5th Flag Expedition, spending 6 weeks at the Painted Dog Conservation project (PDC) in Zimbabwe, tracking and sketching endangered African Wild Dogs. It was a fantastic opportunity and just this week I was lecturing about the expedition at the Explorers Club in Manhattan along with Gregory Rasmussen, Director and Founder of PDC. I achieved all this as a direct result of painting what I am passionate about. It’s a win-win situation. I paint what interests me most and I help support great organizations. But in addition to this, I have found a wider following for my work because there is nothing more obvious to an audience than someone who is passionate about what they do.

There is 1 comment for Win-win situation by Alison Nicholls

From: Linda Mallery — Mar 13, 2009

Your w/c is wonderful. Minimalistic yet totally evocative of wild dogs and desert.


Contribution through books
by Judy Reinsma, Saugus, CA, USA

In addition to enjoying painting I write children’s books. A book I wrote and illustrated, The Legend of Wunderbar. It’s about a horse with antlers and is set in medieval Europe. I have donated copies to various youth groups, horse rescue groups, etc for their fundraisers. I also attend events at local schools where I sell books and donate a portion of the proceeds to their library fund or whatever they need. This has opened up a world of contacts and good will and I find that it comes back later in sales of my book.

Obviously an artist would not donate original art of great value to charity, but signed prints, small pieces etc that are given to charities, especially silent auctions, usually provide lots of publicity and an opportunity to advertise you and your work. You can build interest in your art that way and also good will recognition in your community. Most important, your art will be seen by folks who may not frequent galleries, but appreciate and hopefully will buy art. Yours!

There is 1 comment for Contribution through books by Judy Reinsma

From: Joy Gush — Mar 14, 2009

Yes, Judy, I fully agree that there is a Law of Giving and Receiving.

I have given away many original paintings to those people who gave me some professional service, and I have been given to fill the void.

As for donating I have stopped that. It was over a year ago that I tried to donate a large painting of an old oak tree with the yellow ribbon around it — for our magnificent troops — to The Salvation Army and I added could they please advertise it for me on their website. I mentioned its value at the time. When the legal department called me and told me that no artwork could have any value attached to it other than what it cost to create the artwork and I’d better have the receipts for the IRS — I told them I was keeping my painting!

The IRS rule is so horrible. It is a slap in the face for any artist to donate any painting.


Channeling passion
by Mark Brennan, Whitehill, Nova Scotia, Canada


“April, The Barrens, Canso, Nova Scotia”
oil painting
by Mark Brennan

One of the reasons I paint apart from my own personal passion for wild places, is to bring people back in touch with nature, to get them to think about their own place here on earth and to motivate them towards lessening their environmental footprint, and perhaps even to get them involved in a cause, for good. Yes I know, idealistic perhaps!

If you look at some of Canada’s brightest landscape and wildlife painters, there is an underlying trend they all share; they are passionate about what they paint. When you are passionate about something, you will work towards protecting it. I think we, as artists, have a responsibility to see a deeper meaning in our work other than simply cashing the cheques.

I have spent years convincing government and forestry corporations to protect significant habitat here in Nova Scotia, along with others, and because of our efforts there are about 15,000 hectares of Acadian Hardwood Forest protected that would have been sent to the mills. When artists have passion for the things that move them, the good we can do is endless. Aldo Leopold wrote, “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

An artist’s passion for something is one of the greatest gifts; it motivates us, moves us and most importantly provides us with an opportunity to work towards a better world by doing something that is right, something that preserves instead of destroys.

To comment on the young artist asking for a handout: My advice to him would be to seek out what he is passionate about and just paint. He will learn more about himself from his errors, his hard work and struggles than any handout could teach him. Without hard times, how can we appreciate the good times?


Needs, wants and desires
by Fred Asbury, Memphis, TN, USA

Your article only addresses part of the congregation. There are folks in great need that are talented but underfunded who cannot join organizations like you suggest. I, for example, am a fine art photographer/painter with talent but living in poverty. I work 20 hours per week at the only job I can find driving a bus after school for kids at risk. This amount of income qualifies me for a $200 per month live/work space (25% of my take home income). My car is paid for so I have no car payment but I commute 65 miles to work 4 days a week so I do have car expense. I eat modestly going out to eat very seldom. I buy clothing at thrift stores. You can see that I am not a person that can afford to pay any fees to belong to an exclusive art organization or even pay them to survey my work to see if it is acceptable.

I only have one option open to me now. That is to show my work wherever I can find places to show (and I do network as much as I can). I have 17 images prepared on CD and ready for the printing of my next show. This will be my 12th one man show. The budget for the show is $4,000 covering printing, framing, and publicity. Where will this money come from?

I am not alone in my plight. Many evolving artists are in the same boat: Talented, ready, but underfunded. I have been at this for nearly 10 years now. I am not discouraged and remain very positive that success will come. I do not appreciate articles that thwart efforts to attain funding from donors. Yes, there have been abuses and there have been many untalented bums that just want a handout but many years ago when you were an emerging artist, if lady luck had not intervened in your endeavor to become a successful painter then maybe you would still be where I am today. I am not saying you are not deserving but you have to admit that good fortune has smiled on you. I am not asking for a handout. I am willing to share financially in my success. Who is going to step up to assist the emerging artist?

There are 4 comments for Needs, wants and desires by Fred Asbury

From: Anonymous — Mar 13, 2009

This is such a sincere letter but it breaks my heart because I know for a fact that there is no such thing as “funding to assist emerging artists.” The sooner one accepts that fact the better since dealing with this realization as a young person is much healthier than further down the road. Once that is understood, the next thing to understand is that one doesn’t need anything near $4000 for a modest show. Expectations of a funding go hand in hand with grandiose show planning. A luxurious show won’t help sell work by an emerging artist. There are many non profit art organizations that have calls for artists and put up shows for free. That’s available, but I know that many young artists turn their noses from those types of opportunities.

From: A. R. Tucker — Mar 13, 2009

Where can one obtain a list of these non-profit art organizations that assist an artist in producing an exhibit?

From: Edie — Mar 14, 2009

It sounds like Fred is painting digitally and if he has a larger number of images to be printed stretched and framed it wouldn’t surprise me if it cost 4000 dollars to prepare his paintings for show. I paint digitally and seldom print them properly as it is far too expensive to print to canvas at a good size.

There are many of us that have given up on the idea of being what are called professional artists even though we have gone to school got our degrees and then had life take over and providing for family has turned our passion into a hobby. There are some pluses to this though one doesn’t have to paint for clients we just create for ourselves and if occasionally some likes it and wants to buy then it is a bonus. And now instead of pile of canvases I just have CD with image files I can print when I want a hard copy LOL.

From: Anonymous — Mar 16, 2009

A.R. Tucker, there is no list that I have used. I ask in city halls, community centers, ask other artists, Google, and that turned out almost a hundred free spaces in my area – plenty to pick from. I had solo shows in 3 of those over the past few years. One was a raging success, one was ok and one was not very good…sometimes chicken sometimes feather.


Opportunities in asking
by Kittie Beletic, Dallas, TX, USA


by Kittie Beletic

Asking for a handout is different from asking for help. When your back is against the wall and it feels as though you are sinking fast, what should you do?

Open your mind and heart. This is practical advice. Someone, a very long time ago, spread the word that there are only a couple of ways to see. Not true. As artists, we have only to experience an accidental drip onto a near-finished painting to understand there is more than meets the eye.

Learning to rely on our talent requires a sense of self-trust. It requires confidence which most often comes through experience. If we don’t try, it won’t happen at all.

There are ways of getting what we need without money. Barter is a fine way to make an exchange. What can you do for someone in exchange for money or for a service you need? De-limit your mind and heart and see what opportunities come your way… or are directly in front of you!

Artists who understand how creativity works know that critical thinking skills can be applied to anything! Embrace the words Infinite Possibilities and begin to make a list of who you know and who they might know to help you. Ask questions. Attend meetings related to your work. Volunteer already painted works for a benefit and ask to be invited or highlighted. Open your studio/home for a few classes to the public or a specific organization (church, school, neighborhood group). Start a blog and explore the networking possibilities.

Reaching out doesn’t have to be related to charity or entitlement. It works best when you come in the spirit of sharing — giving and receiving. When the intention is pure, it works, ABRACADABRA, like a charm!




Bebedouro City – Piazza

watercolour painting
by Silvana Ravena, Minneapolis, MN, USA


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Peter Beckett of Flesherton, Ontario, Canada, who wrote, “If artists are creative and intelligent they might try to prove it by coming up with solutions to the problems that are more than adequately identified. Pointing the finger and blaming someone else only raises the level of hostility. At this point, the ‘truth and reconciliation’ model might be worth a try.”

And also Uri Sec of Kiev, Ukraine, who wrote, “Artists in privileged societies where opportunities fall from trees even in bad times have no idea what’s going on.”


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Artists for something



From: Paul — Mar 10, 2009

People convince themselves they need to help the world in some way and concoct a plan that ultimately lets them do what they want. I have seen people attempt to go on Surf trips, Kayaking adventures, Art sabbaticals, and spiritual Yoga adventures in the name of charity and greater good.

I have also seen accidentally wealthy people concoct “greater good” justification to go to Maui for the winter. They try to help out at the local schools thinking that they have so much to offer these poor kids. The actions are actually prejudice and demeaning to the locals.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 11, 2009

Some of us do it without any art at all or publishing right. We do it because it’s the right thing to do and dear to our hearts. I don’t give art, I give money (when I can) to try and save the wild horses in America that are losing their natural grazing lands, their herd hierarchy and even their lives in many cases. It’s not always about art.

From: Jeanne Jackson, Manhattan Beach. CA — Mar 11, 2009

I’m all in favor of contributing to worthy causes. As an artist who has worked in a variety of media over the years, I, along with every other artist in town, have been asked on inmumerable occasions to donate a piece of art for for school (K-12) auction fundraisers. Glad to do it. What makes me crazy is that the art programs are the first to be removed in the face of the slightest educational budget cuts. Not any of the sport teams, noooo, cut the art, drama, and music. It speaks ill of our cultural priorities. If the schools wanted a serious cash flow, make a few hints about dropping the football team. Let the sports enthusiasts support the art programs for a change.

From: Sherry Purvis — Mar 13, 2009

But, if you drop sports, and believe me I am not a sports person, they still will not support the arts. Call it a lack of education, call it whatever you choose, but it is their choice to like what they like. I love the arts, but why wouldn’t I. I have exposed all of my children to the arts, but I do not demand that they go there, again, it is their choice, just as it is ours to believe in the arts.

From: Rick Rotante — Mar 13, 2009

To Jeanne Jackson – I ‘ve always wondered the same thing- cut sports first. But there are more kids that think they can do sports and there is more potential for future earnings and getting a scholarship in sports. Personally, there is toooo much sports in school today. It’s easier to tackle an opponent than tackle a canvas.

From: Deb Strong Napple — Mar 15, 2009

When did we, as artists, decide to become beggars? We are following our passion of making art, but does that entitle us to someone else’s hard-earned money? I say no. Part of my job as an artist is to be creative — not just at the easel, but in my marketing and promotion. Providing for myself is my responsibility, and no one else’s.

From: Keena, AFC — Mar 15, 2009

Artists for Conservation, once known as the World Wide Nature Artists Group, has grown from humble beginnings to an amazing organization to be associated with. It has a membership that boasts the who’s who of nature artists as well as those of us still making our way, all of us united in the cause of being a benefit to the world we live in.

From: Bev Rodin — Mar 15, 2009

I am very interested in the group AFC and as I have donated a significant amount of work to the Kortright Conservation Centre I have a legacy of supporting these initiatives. As I read through the membership/invitation to join details I saw that a recommendation would be helpful and I wondered if you might be willing to send an email supporting my involvement in the group.

From: Claudio Ghirardo — Mar 15, 2009

My problem with this young friend’s idea is that it gives artists a bad name. PM Stephen Harper made a huge cut to the arts because he believed that the artists were using the “ordinary people” tax money for their own needs. Being an artist is never easy and you always, unless you do really well, need to supplement your income in some way. Unless you can find an art patron, your friend needs to understand that he can’t rely on others to support his passion, it is up to him to find a way. This course helps you to become a better artist and makes you decide how serious you truly are about being an artist.

From: Brent Koschtial — Mar 15, 2009

I’m writing in regard to to the intentions of Mr. Whiting and his comments of our making conservation trivial. I hope he is sincere. I’m a Michigan native and I don’t take our environment lightly either. I’m a part-time muralist; I’ve learned to live on little. I’ve learned to complain less.

I hope Mr. Whiting’s expectations come to fruition.

…It was always credo in art school. 10% inspiration. 90% perspiration

… Rod Lawrence… check him out for Conservation re: great artist

From: Deby Adair — Mar 15, 2009



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