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ART LOVERS HERE! Check out the paintings that are TOO REAL to believe that they have been painted with oil on canvas…

David A. Shepherd is a Canadian realist artist, ARC Salon finalist two years in a row, and an Honors Graduate from the Academy of Realist Art Toronto (ARA). His paintings look too real to believe that they have been painted with oil on canvas. Only when you are very close to his paintings, you can see the skillful manipulation of color tone and drawing for a very real illusion of reality.

"Apparitions"

"Oriental"

"Caravan"

"Midnight"

David’s works are a reflection of his own experience made into a story, through paint and canvas. He travels the world in search of inspiration and new emotions. Finally he has visited Baku, Azerbaijan and caught up with our team, to give a few tips for the beginners in painting and to share his experience in Baku.

  • It’s obvious that your paintings require talent, education and lots of time. When do you think is the right time to start painting and when is it too late? Is there an age limit?

The earlier the better, although I have seen many older students at the ARA finish the program and become good artists in their own right. Honestly I’ve heard stories of people changing careers in their 50’s and being successful. Painting great art is not easy at any age.

  • What are some things you should never do in your business?
  1. Being unprepared when dealing with galleries, especially before meeting them. You should research their artists, their staff, and their history. Maybe not in detail when you’re first contacting them, but if they’re interested in your work then for sure.
  2. Never turn down opportunities just because they seem below you or too small. If you are too busy with commissions or work for a gallery you agreed to paint for then that’s one thing. But if you’re not currently engaged you should allow yourself to show at the smaller venues. They can still be fruitful events.
  3. Never forget that this is a business. Don’t spend all your time in front of an easel. You will need to take photos, build a website, facebook page etc. apply to galleries, make business cards, travel to different places, package and ship your work, register your business with the government and it goes on and on. A lot of things are involved that go beyond painting. Don’t take it personally when people dislike your work, or reject you.
  • When do you know, that you are ready for galleries?

When you can show a gallery a small body of your work that doesn’t involve cast drawings or paintings (educational work) you’re ready. It’s also important that you choose the right gallery to apply to for your work. Sending an email to a gallery whose website only shows artists that do installations and portraits when you make landscape paintings is probably a waste of time.

  • What do you want to advise for those who want to join the art industry?

First of all remember that talent without effort is nothing. So you need more effort than talent. Accept that what you’re doing is a business and as such you should put a lot of time into both. Promoting yourself, applying to galleries, writing emails, looking at grants just going out and meeting people. They are just as important as the art you make. It takes a lot of time at first too. You learn a lot from mistakes and you won’t find many people who can help you, but keep the faith in yourself.

  • And finally, what are your impressions of Baku?

I had done some reading on Azerbaijan’s history before coming. I had an expectation of seeing a lot of Soviet Union in Baku, but I was pretty surprised. The amount of rebuilding that’s already gone underway was not only extensive but of a very high quality and very diverse. The whole culture was very diverse, like a mix of Eastern and Western put together.

The seaside was probably the most beautiful place I found, it was literally like out of a story book. They’re doing an amazing job with the remaking of Baku. It’s very reminiscent of Dubai, which is a compliment to both of those cities.                                                                                                         

Read More about David Shepherd Art on webpage www.davidshepherdart.com or follow him on Facebook:

David Shepherd Art https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/David-Shepherd-Art/234412929953520

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Little Lady in a Big Business (Look Professional)

Traditionally, women were raised to be the guardian of her future family hearth, to up bring and educate her kids, to keep the house tidy and to cook for the family. Now, modern women have more power. They work as hard as men to earn money, and succeed in their careers. But unfortunately in our society, we still have some troubles to be taken as seriously as men at work, especially if you are a young and beautiful lady at a “marriageable” age.

Full of energy and ambitions, I started working in an office at the age of 19. I followed all instructions carefully and willingly, double checking every single document. I was never late and didn’t leave before I’d finished my work. But no matter how good I was, they would never give me any important issues. Even if they did and I handled them, they would not even notice it. Yes, I’m sure the reasons for that were my gender and my age. A good looking single girl at 19 can’t be career focused, she must be thinking of cute boys and marriage, and work is just one of the ways to expand her network. What if not? What if you are a young and beautiful lady who wants to succeed in her career? How can you make people around you and your boss believe in you, and take you as a serious employee?

Later, in my career I understood one very important thing. Business is all about people and money. To succeed you need to market your work. Yes, exactly – to market it! Because if you do your job perfectly, but present it as something very modest and not special, nobody is going to believe in it and pay for it. So, yes the presentation plays a big role in your career. Hence your looks matter too.

No, I’m not saying looks are everything, but I believe that the way you are diligent about your look tells a lot about how you are diligent about other things you do, so, here are some tips on how to look mature and professional:

• Even if you work in a super casual environment, I strongly recommend that you should never show up to work with no makeup and bad hair. Light, fresh makeup and braided hair work fine for both a casual and dress coded environment.

• No matter how good you think you look, stay away from transparent blouses or shorter skirts, it’s just not right for a professional setting and a real lady. You want people to appreciate your work, not your body, right?

• Every lady working in an office should have several white shirts. Perfectly ironed white dress shirt makes you look very neat and toned up.

• Do not wear the same thing 2 days in a row. First of all things go bad when you wear them often, secondly changing clothes shows that you care and prepare for work every day. Personally, I plan what I will wear tomorrow in the evening, so I am not in a rush and have more time for makeup and hair in the morning. Every single morning, without exception, I send a photo of my looks to my best friend. It is kind of a daily fashion report. It motivates me to be in form daily.

• Make a special time-table for yourself. For example if you wear classy heels to work every day from Monday to Thursday; Fridays try to wear almond shaped toe flat shoes (I wouldn’t show up in an office in sneakers even if it’s Friday). If you want to look professional !PLEASE Stay away from super high heeled striptease shoes. If your intention is to be a good employee and succeed in your career why would you kill yourself walking in such uncomfortable shoes from 9 to 6? If you think that they make you look beautiful, you are very wrong. Stilts make your walk look funny.

• Never wear white shoes. Skin color shoes are just fine. Sandals and slippers are also NOT acceptable.

• Beautifully manicured hands are necessary. But unfortunately many of our young ladies do not know the “the golden mean”. Super long tiger claws polished in a bright color with shinny crystals on it will definitely not make you look professional, as well as super long mermaid hair extensions. Try to keep it as natural as you can.

• Wearing pantyhose is always advisable for the ladies who love skirts. Choose nude, black or tanned colored pantyhose depending on what you wear and stay away from the heavily patterned ones, or even worse fishnets. No matter how trendy they are, it is not appropriate for the office. If your summer is very hot and you can’t handle wearing pantyhose, then stay away from skirts and stick to the light cotton pants with knee socks (showing off your toes at work is also not acceptable).

• The right accessories make your outfit more unique and give it your own style. But always keep in mind “less is more”. If your accessories help your coworkers to indicate your whereabouts, it’s not a good sign.

• Recently they say that wearing perfume in such places like work, public transportation, etc is considered unacceptable, but personally I think that wearing perfume is advisable. Coco Chanel said it well – “A woman, who doesn’t wear perfume, has no future”. So, just avoid wearing it too much, so it doesn’t trigger attention. Spray a little bit of perfume on the inner wrists, the base of the throat, behind the knees, the inner elbows, and behind the ears, so only those who are very close to you can smell it. If you are going to have a long day, apply a little bit of it on your hair so it lasts longer.

Remember, the key is to work intelligently hard, so no one questions if you’re their equal, and you’re being the best while at the same time staying true to being a real lady.
Good luck!

Message from the Fontana di Trevi (or The Bridal Notes)

1

At first glance it’s an ordinary story, a reading which will remind you of a million love tales that won the hearts of housewives the world over. But unlike the others, this story is true. It’s a story of a young woman from a port city, its inhabitants in whose veins flows ethnic Mugam and Improvisational jazz. This is a story of me.

At the age of 21 my life has changed 180 degrees. After 2 years of working in a boring office and doing things I didn’t like, I decided to quit my job and travel to Italy to follow my dream. On the 4th of July, 2011 I moved to Florence, the city of inspiration and art. This is the beginning of my story.

3

On a day like any other, my roommate Lia’s painting teacher and his wife invited us for dinner. We shared our experiences living in Florence, discussing the art and culture of this amazing city. They were one of those people who made me realize that art was my passion. Even though the couple was American they knew a lot about Italian culture and art, so they strongly recommended that my roommate and I to travel to Rome. We agreed but were not sure if we could afford it. Later when we came back to our apartment we found out that, the American couple gifted us train tickets to Rome.

That weekend Lia and I left to Rome. Just like any tourist in Rome, we made a wish on the Fontana di Trevi, throwing a coin in it, both of us were believing that our wishes will magically come true. Being very Azerbaijani, I threw in more than one coin, to bribe a fountain. My wish was pretty childish; inspired by my painting teacher’s life in the Academy, I wanted to be like her. My teacher was one of the very few women I knew that never wanted the glamorous life. She was happy to find her soul mate in the Academy, enjoy their artist job and to live in perfect harmony with each other. Even though I knew that my wish would not come true, because pretty soon I had to be back to Baku to start my office life, I still had a little hope in me.

 4

Since that summer in Italy I kept travelling but I left my heart forever in Florence.

 As children many of us believed in miracles, but when we grow up, I believed we divided into three groups of people. One group prefers to think that it is blasphemous to believe in miracles. The second group is sure that miracles refute all scientific laws, and the third group doesn’t even think about. They simply stop believing in them. I’m grown up and would probably refer myself to the third group, until I realized that there was a forth group.

In the summer of 2012 I travelled to Spain. This time the reasons of my trip were not the Salvador Dali Museum and beautiful Barcelona beaches. I was finally going to meet the artist whose talent stole my heart. We met on 16th of July, 2012 in the Barajas airport, Madrid.

He must like me a lot too, otherwise why would he fly half way across the world to meet me? But why he is not talking? It’s already the second day in Madrid, and he still wants to stay in his room. Does he not like my company? Waiting for those answers, was like to let the grass grow under one’s feet, so I invited him to go to the Flamenco show.

The beautiful dancers fascinated me, but not him. He said he needs some fresh air and left the restaurant as soon as the show ended.

5

Maybe he is ill? All he says is that he needs to rest and wants to stay in his room. Or even worse, drug addicted? Those artists… Who knows? How stupid it was of me to fly all the way from Azerbaijan to meet him. What a mistake, what a big disappointment!” – Those were my first messages from Spain to my best friend, Veronica.

The two days in Madrid were just awful… I’d go back to Baku but vacation is not over yet and we have 12 more days in Spain together.

We headed to Barcelona.

In Barcelona, he felt so much better. I found out what jet lag is and how bad people might feel because of weather and time difference after travelling from one continent to another. I liked the new him. Being full of energy we rented a scooter and started discovering the city.

6

Every day after visiting museums and sights of city we finished with walks on the sandy golden beaches of Barcelona.

7

One of those nights we stayed on the beach longer than usual and I didn’t notice how I fell asleep. This is where he told me he loved me for the first time. His whisper woke me, but I pretended to be sleeping. I was too scared of falling in love with him; I didn’t want to have a relationship that had no future. But it was too late. During the rest days our days together were happy ones. I fell in love – madly, unexpectedly and unconventionally. But I knew it wouldn’t last forever. On 29th of July we said our goodbyes in Madrid Barajas Airport.

 Being home we kept in touch on Skype. Obviously we had feelings for each other but did we have a future? Different cultural values, beliefs and family traditions made long distance relationship even more complicated. Was it a relationship at all? Those thoughts were killing me. I never could resist his eyes so I wrote an email to him explaining how different my culture is from his and why I can’t be with him. It was obvious that we have different ways of thinking and perspectives on life. I ended the relationship before it started. But that didn’t last long.

 A few weeks later we started talking on Skype again and as time moved on it became harder and harder on us being apart. And I did it again; I gave one more chance to our relationship and agreed to meet one more time. This time we met in Istanbul. So in March, after 8 months of being apart we met again.

8

Such simple things like sitting on a bench on the Prince’s Islands and seeing the whole view of Istanbul, singing our song loudly on Sultanahmet square and just doing things together made us the happiest people in the whole world. In a crowded and noisy city there were only two of us. But once again it had to end and twenty days later we left for our homes.

Being back in my country, seeing our people and couples I questioned our “relationship”. Was it right listening to my heart despite of strict principles of my culture? Maybe I should start having a real life, relationship here in Azerbaijan? How normal is it travelling abroad to meet my “vacation boyfriend” all the time? So, I gave up on my love and choose stereotype life of a proper Azerbaijani girl.  

I lived a beautiful love story, with fun adventures and fond memories. I’m sure this kind of love happens only once in a lifetime. But everything has its end, so this was our end.

To start a new life in a new place where nothing reminds me of my love I joined to university in Rome for my masters. In the end of summer all my papers along with visa were ready except the flight ticket. Now I have big plans – “My family is proud of me; I’m going to get my masters, a good career and a bright future”. But will it make me as happy as when I was with my love?

Everything was not as easy as I thought. The pain still remains in me and more over he sends me emails, his words tear at my soul. I felt him having the same pain that I had. I had no more willpower to resist; it was bigger than me so I gave up again. I choose him over my Masters and accepted his invitation to Canada to meet his family. The tickets to Rome were cancelled as well as my masters.

Can you imagine the shock of my family and friends? The reaction of coworkers who thought I’m leaving my job in a month? Some secretly gossiped between each other – what a crazy girl, ruining her future for a guy! But did I care? I’m too in love to care!

I applied for visa, but got rejected. The second time we applied with two times more documents than they required. We would apply every time I would get rejected. We made up our minds. Fortunately the second time I got my visa and 4 days later I was on the plane, flying across the planet to meet my love and his family. Huge and cold Canada didn’t feel like vacation at all, but home. It’s so true when they say “home is where your heart is”. I enjoyed every single day being around him and his family.

One of the last days, we stopped in front of a very nice hotel. It was surprising to find out that he booked a room for me there because I already had a place to stay. He took me to the hotel room which was filled with candles. Each candle had a note from a special time in our relationship. The candles lead to the end of the room where behind the chair was what you see on the photo…

9

My love was on one knee with a ring. Through my tears I said YES.

In two months we had our engagement parties in Canada and in Azerbaijan.

 By the way my love is one of the best artists I have ever known. Due to his job weare visiting museums and galleries, getting to know other artists and making new connections in the art industry. When he has exhibitions we prepare speeches for openings together and plan everything in detail. I’m in harmony with him and things I do. I am happy to fully enjoy the artist life.

Wait… Do you remember what I wished for that day on the Fountain? Is it a miracle that’s been growing since that day on the Fontana di Trevi?

P.S. Dear Reader, I’m not a writer, pre-wedding happiness is my muse, so please excuse me that the story I wrote is not for the readers’ praise, but instead my inner need to share the story that has changed my life. Don’t judge me strictly, through my webpage I want to pass to you a message from the Fontana di Trevi – Dream and love bravely, follow your heart, because it never says wrong, no matter what color, religion or country your love is from and the most important is never give up on because miracles happen.

1 To be continued…