is in a very
You could call him an early adopter. Or better yet—an Artist INC O.G. “I was in the very first group in spring 2009,” he explained while seated in front of the dense woodland foliage of a six-by-six-foot landscape painting. “We were Diane Scott’s guinea pigs.”
I realized I wasn’t really up to speed.
Needham moved back to Kansas City from Denver a few years before. He had a steady day job working as a mentor to teens in a nonprofit screen printing studio. His work had a flat, colorful Pop Art quality to it, and he was in demand as an illustrator. An earlier Creative Capital weekend workshop opened his eyes to a more professional approach to his art practice. When Artist INC came along, he felt ready for a thorough refresher course.
He reflected on what led him to apply to the new program, “At that time I was a pretty typical artist; organizational and business type things—I hadn’t thought much about those issues. I didn’t feel the urgency for a website. I was content to show and sell paintings at exhibitions. I realized I wasn’t really up to speed.
Needham hadn’t thought strategically about his art practice until he took Artist INC. Once he did, it got him thinking about his whole life differently. For the first time, he and his wife seriously considered having a kid and buying real estate. He began to see how he could direct himself to a desired destination through long-term planning. Then there was the Artist INC obituary exercise...
Then there was the Artist INC obituary exercise....
Artist INC // Artist Profile // Obituary Exercise
one that made him consider his mortality, his priorities, and his...
Now I know how to prepare and I have gotten better at it.
Something that really stuck with him
From his first nerve wracking final presentation, Needham discovered the importance of public speaking, something that has really stuck with him. These days he looks forward to every opportunity to give public artist talks, or speaking to art students about professional practices. “Now I know how to prepare and I have gotten better at it,” he stated confidently.
Expanding his peer network
Depending on relationships
In that initial cohort, Needham deepened relationships with fellow painters like Laura Nugent and his small group facilitator, Larry Thomas, while expanding his peer network with documentary photographer Julie Denesha and artist advocate Paul Tyler. By keeping in touch with these colleagues in the years after Artist INC, they proved to be instrumental references and boosters to his later professional successes.
Instrumental to his later successes
Artist INC marked a turning point for Needham
Unsurprisingly, his work became different after fatherhood;
Artist INC marked a turning point
Artist INC marked a turning point for Needham’s career, including some welcomed interruptions. It wasn’t long before he and his wife did buy a house and had a daughter, which led him to a new job as a full time stay-at-home dad. He gave up his studio practice for a time and lived through his sketchbooks. Unsurprisingly, his work became different after fatherhood; he felt it wasn’t coming from “reality.”
Without A Studio
Without a studio. Needham began experimenting with plein air painting. “I didn’t know what I was doing, but I liked the look of more chaotic, tarnished work that came from reality,” he admitted. “I just needed exposure to nature, something bigger than all our paltry concerns. And if I’m going to paint I wanted it to be refreshing.” Jackson Pollack’s famous quote “I don’t paint nature, I am nature,” started to make sense to him.
I don’t paint nature,
I am nature.
I had to
Other practical concerns came to the fore; they bought the small house next door and he slowly began renovating it into his studio where he now paints. Needham shifted almost exclusively to landscape painting. His canvases became larger and he realized his work looked more expensive. Instead of asking $500 for a work, he needed to ask $5,000. That was a big mental upgrade. “I had to practice saying it in front of the mirror: ‘this painting is $5,000.’ I had to believe it,” he said with a grin.
He’s trying to make what he calls “Oh $#!+” art—the kind that evokes a visceral response.