What’s your background?
I grew up in California and have a Master’s in English Literature. I went on to work in various corporate positions, primarily in Health Insurance. When I made a move to New York City back in 90’s, I changed course and ended up quite by accident working freelance in graphics arts centers for the finance sector.
I am half Chinese and half Scotch-Irish and Danish, so I grew up feeling in between worlds, which I think was a plus in terms of making me sensitive and non tribal!
Does your artwork come from that background?
I always loved art. My mother is very artistic and painted, and growing up Los Angeles County, we had first-rate museums to visit. I also had a love of nature, since I grew up in the canyons of Calabasas. My love of wilderness lands and animals and wanting to see those protected are central to my work. Although I had interest in photography since high school, I never studied it seriously until after I was working with Photoshop and Illustrator in New York. At that time, I just had a film SLR camera. I learned digital post processing before I had a digital camera. After I moved back to Oregon, I started to spend more time with my camera and taking tutorials online to learn more.
What are you trying to say with your work?
I want to say, Look at this beauty, this is a gift. I want people to appreciate nature’s beauty and to care about it. I want them to look at animals and see unique lives, full of emotion and consciousness and to realize that life is a precious thing, as precious to that individual animal as our life is to us. Hopefully if enough people can care about nature and the other life forms that share the Earth with us, we can work together to save it.
What made you choose the medium you work with?
The camera is something I can take with me, out into to nature. I tried painting, and appreciate that form, but a camera is more mobile. That camera is magical in that it can capture aspects of time and place and preserve them. I love being out in the field and taking pictures of nature or animals, and then I bring them home in the form of an image to interpret or infuse with my own sensibility, and by working on them at home I rediscover the subject in a more intimate way.
Do you work in a studio?
You would not want a photo of my work space. It is cluttered! I have had the same Cinema Display screen for almost 18 years now (it was the first version and knock on wood, it is still working) and my current desktop computer and my messy desk. Behind me are two printers, and a shelf where I keep my photo paper. I also have a table that holds my cutting board and packing materials. When I’m working on processing images, I’m looking at the screen and everything else goes away.
What is the one thing in your studio you just could not be without?
My big computer screen.
Who are your biggest influences?
My first loves are painters. I love Van Gogh, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Impressionists. I also loved the photographs in National Geographic magazines, and am a fan of Art Wolfe and Ansel Adams.
What is your favourite piece of work by yourself?
I have several favorites and they change. One of my favorites is Family Time Squared. It shows a harem stallion, his lead mare, and their two colts from two different years, and you can see the bonds between them. I became attached to these horses as I’ve followed them for a few years now, although they are no longer in the same band. A landscape favorite of mine is A Creek Runs Through It, because it shows the wildness and lushness of Oregon.
How much time (on average) does it take to complete a work?
There is the time in the field that results in many, a few or no pictures that make me happy – so much is dependent upon weather and luck (especially with wildlife). At home, I spend at least an half hour, and have spent up to a few hours on one photograph.
I wanted to initially be a writer
How do you know something is ‘finished’? Is it easy to walk away?
Yes, I get a feeling when something is finished. But I always reserve to right to come back and tweak something!
What project are you working on now?
I am working on photos that I took of two wild horse herds over in Eastern Oregon. I do a preliminary screening of my images, pick out the ones that interest me most, then go through them again. Often I have missed one or two, that for some reason I overlooked the first time.
What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I think it would be to take constructive advice under consideration, but not take it personally. In a way, I try to step away from my emotions and any immediate feelings of inadequacies the criticism might bring, so I can assess whether there are truths or ideas that might make me grow or whether to reject it as not being right for me. Criticism has caused me to slow down and re-center and that is a good thing.
What was the first piece of art you sold?
A photograph called – Grand Tetons from Willows Flat.
Do you find it hard to navigate the artworld?
Yes and yes. I try to do a bunch of things and see what sticks. For a while, nothing seemed to work, and then, slowly, my art business has begun to grow–I believe due to social media. When the promotion gets too tedious, I take a break. I don’t want to lose the joy in creation because I’m focusing too much on thinking about trying to sell more. I do often enjoy the online community. I love talking to people across the country and even world on Twitter. That’s pretty cool, although it can be a time gobbler too!
What are you personally doing to advance your work career?
I’ve accepted that some things that work for others won’t work for me. Being an introvert, I’m not comfortable with going out and pushing my art. I like the online experience. I was part of an artists’ gallery and also exhibited my work at a few places, but it is difficult to know what somebody might buy, and there’s a lot of expense to printing and framing, whereas online, you can put everything out there and they can choose. I feel I can reach more people via social medial. I try to make my Twitter posts be meaningful either to my philosophy or my subject.
How do you price your work and why do you price it that way?
I feel my work is priced reasonably. I know it has value, but it is harder for me to place a monetary value on it. I know my work attracts nature lovers and animal lovers who aren’t always the most well off, and I want someone who loves my work to be able to afford it. On the other hand, I’m not about to give it away. I had an English professor who had a collection of Cruikshank prints, he was selling as he had a terminal condition, and he didn’t want to give them away to a museum as he felt it was important to have the buyer value the paintings, and that by paying a price for it, they would treasure the paintings more.
Do you use social networking in your day to day life?
Yes, I like Twitter (@BelindaGreb). I also am on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BelindaGrebPhotography/ ); Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/bradiant/boards/); and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/belindagreb/).
Is there anything that really annoys you about the artworld?
To be honest, I don’t know that much about the artworld. I’m uneasy with competition. I want to create in a way that is as pure and authentic to me as it can be, and I hope that others can relate to it.
What advice would you give new artists?
I would probably repeat the often repeated advice of “be true to yourself”. I think it’s very easy to get swayed by what is fashionable at the moment. For me, the artwork is a form of exploration about my own connection with the world. If I’m trying to be in step with some ideal of what is trending, then I’m losing my own way.
Have you got hobbies?
I do love to travel when given the opportunity. I love experiencing a different culture and environment. I also still love reading.
I’m excited about a trip I will take to Namibia next year!
Where are you based?
I’m based in Vida, Oregon, in a rural area East of Eugene.
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I live in Manchester, UK and try to promote other artists and writers when I can.I'm so pleased you found our community and I hope to chat to you soon!!Please comment on my posts if you like them 🙂
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