Wildlife · United States
Three, two, one. Hey, everyone, Harry Whelchel here. Today I have Alexandra Saunders with me, and we're gonna be talking about how Alexandra made her first two commissions for over $1,000 in about two months of us working together.
So Alexandra, why don't you just introduce yourself and share a little bit more about your art and your background.
Well, I'm Alexandra Saunders, and I come from a business background, but I did not apply any of that to deciding to be an artist. When the pandemic hit, I decided I was going to close my company and do what I always wanted to do, which was my artwork. And as you can see, I'm older, and so people said, "Oh my goodness, how are you gonna do that? You're older." And I said, "Well, I'm just going to follow my passion." So I started drawing, and then I started painting. And I dedicated eight hours a day so that I had my fundamentals down. And then I was giving away my pieces for donations to sanctuaries, to charities for wildlife. And then I saw, somewhere I saw your ad, I think.
And I talked to you, and I decided, well, why not? I'll just give it a try and I'll see what happens, and wouldn't it be cool if I could earn enough to pay for my art supplies, or certainly to go on a trip, or something like that.
Yeah, let's talk more about that in a second. Let me ask you a little bit more, though, about you and your art, and your background. How did you... And I'm genuinely curious, I don't think I know this yet. How long have you been painting? Was it just that the pandemic happened and you decided to take up art, or had you been doing it along on the side for a number of years?
No. I grew up going to a lot of museums, and I always loved art. But it was not considered a viable career. And so I became a scientist. And I was in conservation of natural resources. And then in the '80s, it was a very difficult decade for me. I lost a number of members of my family. And so I went to the local museum, just as kind of a grief, to handle my grief, and there was a class, how to draw bones, how to draw skeletons.
And so I started learning how to draw skeletal remains of animals. And I would go there on Sundays, and I had my little colored pencils. And I loved it. But then I was in the business world by then, and so things took over, and I put my pencils away and I hadn't touched them since the mid-80s. So it's been 40 years. 40 years since I touched them. But I always adored art. I always appreciated art. And so I've collected other people's works. Not wildlife art, but I've always yearned to be... Thought, oh, wouldn't it be incredible if I could even meet these wildlife artists? And then the pandemic was particularly difficult for me because I lost my company that I had... It was a very successful company. It was a manufacturing company, and I had to lay off all my employees, and I essentially lost everything. And so I picked up my pencils again as a really grief journal. And I said, "Well, I'm going to do what I love most, which is... What do I love more than anything else in the world?" And it's animals, and it's wildlife, and it's dogs and cats, and I'm going to learn how to draw them. So that's what motivated me. Oh, and I also lost my dog of 15 years at that time. And so I said, "Well, I'm going to try to draw her." So I have this little sketch of Bessie that I drew. And then I said, "Well, I'm gonna try a little bit more, and then I'm gonna learn a little bit more." And so I really... Yeah, I spent eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week, just drawing animals in pencil, and then I decided I was going to learn a little bit more because one of the things about me, is when I decide to do something, I go all in. So I said, "Well, colored pencils," they're ones that are available that you can dip them in water and they become watercolors. So I did a little bird drawing, and I made it a watercolor, and I went, "Oh, that's kinda cool." And then I didn't know how to use brushes, and so I started buying some brushes, and I started saying, oh, I was going to teach myself. And it was a really steep learning curve for me. I decided-
Yeah. I wanna jump in real quick. So you took those classes on skeletons in the '80s.
And then more recently, how have you been learning this stuff? Is it on your own, YouTube, just imitating?
I bought a lot of books on animals and their anatomy and muscles, and then I went on... I saw some things on YouTube and started to draw a cat's eye. It all started with a cat's eye.
Yeah. One big cat's eye. And then it was a horse's eye, and then it was a tiger's eye. And then I just said, "Oh, I'm going to learn how to do it from that," and then I learned how to draw the nose, and then I learned how to draw the face.
That's so smart. It's like you're breaking it down in a very small thing that's more manageable.
Very, very small-
But still even that is probably pretty challenging.
Yeah, I was just fascinated. I just got lost in it. It was zen. And then in November, late November, I started thinking, "Well, I've got to teach myself how to oil paint," because Harry, I turned 75 this year. Most people hang it up at that time. And for me, I wanna be... I not only want to be a really amazing artist, I want my pieces to hang in people's homes, and people to really love it because I want them to be inspired to protect these animals and care about the planet. And so I said, "Well, I have to do that through oil painting because that's what brings the most value," and also, people seem to like that more than colored pencil drawings, even though my drawings will take 200 hours or more for one single drawing. But people-
Well, let me ask you this real quick, I'm curious. Where did your passion for wildlife and animals come from? Was that from your time studying conversation and being a scientist? Or was there something else more to it that really got you?
It went back. So I grew up... Actually, I was born in the South like you. I come from Tennessee, although you can't tell by my accent. So my father was a physicist, and when I was a little girl he didn't want us to grow up to be, as he put it, "Hillbillies." I was born in Oak Ridge, and it was still very rural there, and isolated. It was the Atomic Energy Commission place. And so my dad decided he was going to move us to Asia. So he got a professorship at the University of Indonesia, and he moved us to Java when I was a little girl.
Uh-huh. When I was like, six years old. And so I was just there. We would go out into the rainforests. And so I... Orangutans and forest elephants, and Javan rhinoceros, and all of these I saw as a little girl, and birds. I was exposed to them and I fell in love with them. And I had all kinds of pets, of course. I think I had 30 guinea pigs and 30 mice at one time, laboratory mice. So it just grew from there.
Yeah. So I care about... I adore wildlife and nature and the earth, and I'll do anything to try to protect it.
So what do you think makes you unique as a wildlife artist?
Well, I can tell you what I think makes me unique, but what other people say is something... For me, I think it's that I pour all my passion for that animal into the portrait. It's something that happens, it's not intentional, it's just, I can't help it. It's like I go down a rabbit hole with that-
You bond with the animal.
I do, I bond with that animal. And then what other people tell me, is that when they see my pieces, they're drawn into them. It's the eyes, but it's also they feel like they see an individual, a being there. There's a sculptor that lived at the turn of the century. His name is Bugatti, and he was known for these extraordinary sculptures of animals, but what made his work so incredible was that he sculpted... These were portraits of actual animals. They weren't just a species, they weren't just some animal-
Fictional, of his imagination.
Absolutely not. So I was really... I read his biography, and I actually went to London, took a flight to London just to go to this art gallery who collected... They have more pieces of his than anyone else. And so I was really inspired by him.
He sounds like he's a big inspiration for you.
He is, yeah. He is a big inspiration.
Was he a conservationist as well?
No, he lived... He died when he was only 30 years old. He actually committed suicide, so it's a sad story. Yeah, it's a very sad story. He came from the Bugattis, the Italian family that-
Cars. Yeah. And so his family were very, already quite prominent. But his work is collected by museums all over the world. It's just extraordinary. And actually, I did do some sculpture. I tried sculpture about five years ago. I hired a master sculptor to teach me.
But that... I mean, I learned how to sculpt a horse, but I decided I prefer the clay. I love the clay, and I didn't want to turn my pieces into bronzes because they're hard. I just wanted my pieces to stay as clay, and apparently you can't sculpt clay and it won't last. I see.
So I do that for myself. But it helps me understand the anatomy, so when I'm painting it's like I'm actually sculpting the animal on canvas.
That's amazing. I can totally see that being the case. That makes a ton of sense. Well Alexandra, let's switch gears for a second. Let's go back. Try to think back to the month or two before we got connected.
Remind me, what were you doing then before you were working with us? What was your day-to-day life like as an artist? What were you trying to do to generate clients, if anything?
Well, I was trying to forget about business.
So anything raises the shackles on the back of my head. You know, I was really downtrodden about business, and I didn't wanna talk about... I didn't wanna even think about sales, or anything like that. My mindset was in a very bad place. My art was really an escape, really an escape. But now my art is, I mean, I still escape into it, but it is something that I'm excited about showing, and I feel like my age is not a barrier to me showing it, you know?
Before we met, I felt like maybe time had passed me by, and that my art would just be with my friends, or people that knew me. But I don't feel that anymore, at all.
Yeah. So that means I'm all excited about being able to show it, and being in the community of artists. That's really important.
Before we were working together, it was an escape for you. But even as it was an escape for you, was there any part of you in the back of your mind that was nervous about, okay, when am I gonna... How am I gonna make a living from this? Or how am I going to pay for my supplies? What were your frustrations or worries at all at the time?
It did. I was shocked to learn how little money colored pencil artists, the really amazing-
The best ones.
The best ones, and also the graphite artists, these are extraordinary artists, and how little they charge for their pieces. I mean, they'll work 150, 200 hours on a piece and they'll charge $400. It's just pennies. So the business part of me said, "Well, that's pennies on the-"
That's pennies an hour. Yeah. No wonder artists starve to death. It did worry me that I also spend that much time on my drawings, and even if I could sell it, there's not a lot-
You did economics.
Depend for them. Yeah. So now I'm not worried about that. I've actually discovered a few colored pencil artists that sell their pieces for quite a bit of money.
It's just you don't hear about them. They're not on the internet, you can't... I mean, you wouldn't know about them unless you're into that genre.
I see. Yeah, sometimes the people that have the most fame, wherever it might be, in galleries, social media, they may not actually be making as much money as you might think. It's kind of counterintuitive sometimes.
Exactly. Exactly, yeah. Yeah.
Well let me ask you this, too. What else, were there any other frustrations or worries, or things that were in your mind back before we were working together about the art practice and where it was going?
Oh, well for me, I mean, so many artists, classically trained artists, they come out of college, or art school-
They have an MFA degree, they have exhibitions. It's a mile long, and really amazing, I mean, they're amazing. But also, if you look at the CV, it's very, very intimidating, at least it was for me because let's face it, I don't have 20 years... I mean, if I live 20 more years, what will I be? I'll be 95. So if I live 30 years, which many artists, starting out, of course, 30, 40, 50 years. I don't have that time. So what am I supposed to do? Wait to get exhibits like that before I go out, you know?
Put in five years, 10 years, hoping for that break or something like that.
Makes sense, yeah.
I mean, I'll be an 85-year-old woman by the time, by the time certain doors open for me, possibly. So I don't have that fear anymore.
That's awesome. Well, let me ask you this, then. Where did you first hear about us? Do you remember?
No, you know, I don't. I don't know if it was on Instagram, or YouTube. It was one of those.
Uh-huh. Do you remember what kinda piqued your interest at the beginning? I know it might be hard to remember, but what piqued your interest in what we were doing?
Other people were making so much money a month.
They were having success.
That's a lot. Yeah. I mean, I still come from the mindset that... I mean, I live in California, where things are, in the Bay Area, outrageously expensive. And it seems that if you earn... Before if you earn $5,000, you could live. You cannot live in the Bay Area on $5,000 a month. You can't.
You're lucky if you can even live for $10,000 a month in the Bay Area, at least be able to afford things. I thought, wow, well, I certainly wanna hear this. It's worth my time listening. So that's what piqued my interest.
Cool. So let's talk about this some. I know that we've been working together for about two months, there's been a lot of things that we've covered.
Alexandra, just for those who are listening in, what are one, two, three highlights or takeaways or insights that have been helpful to you in terms of making those commissions and making the progress you've had so far?
Well, the number one thing for me, is all of the information that you have on mindset. And really evaluating internally what's going on in our head and what conversation you need to rid yourself of, or other conversations. I mean, if I go years back, I've gone to all kinds of trainings, but honestly, it was just the self trainings. I never felt that they were authentic, this is in sales and in marketing. What you've put in there is very authentic. And it's not theoretical, it's actual. What I love about working with you, Harry, is you say, like if I have a question or if I have a problem, you don't just say, "Okay, you can do this," you say, "Let's get on and figure it out together," and do it, right then. Right then it's done. And so for me, I love that. The next thing that's most powerful for me, is hearing the way that you communicate with other people. So, I can learn that. I haven't learned it yet, but I can learn it. I can learn how to defer conversation about pricing, for example, and how to make it very a casual conversation, not a formal business conversation. I like that. I like that part about learning how to engage with people authentically. That is huge. Yeah, because it's really about... The thing that I've learned with you, which is most important, it's not about selling a commodity, or selling a piece of art, it's really about enhancing that other person's life with your art, and that's huge.
It's a big mindset shift, right?
A huge mindset shift, yeah. It's a huge mindset shift.
And there's all these tactical details and strategic details that flow from that, right? It just totally changes how you approach conversations with people. If that makes sense.
Yeah, yeah. And there are things that I have to learn how to put into practice, but I love the fact that I can go and I can listen again, and again, and again. And I've taken vociferous notes so it can become my own words, my own language. Yeah.
That's amazing. I love it. And I think you're totally right, we are just getting started, right? There's so much more for you to still absorb and learn. It's still cool to see that you've gotten these wins just getting started. If you don't mind, I'd love for you to share a little bit about just the anecdote of how you got these commissions 'cause I think it's just such a fun little story. Do you mind sharing a little bit of the specifics of how that happened?
Well, yeah, it's easy. I mean, I'm so excited about my art, and I'm so excited about the privilege of being an artist. It's really a privilege to do this. And one thing, my groomer for my dogs, she's been my groomer for about five years. And off and on, I've shared some of the pieces that I've drawn. And she has said to me, "Oh my goodness, you have to draw this dog," or "Oh my goodness, you have to draw that dog." So I had to take my dog in to be groomed, I think it was last week, or the week-
Yeah, it was last week.
Last week. So I thought, well, some of my pieces are finished enough that I can show Melanie. So I'll take Blossom in to be groomed, and I'll just show her some pieces. And she was just beside herself, just loving what she saw. So I took a painting of a dog and a painting of a Siamese cat. I think I took... Oh, my chimpanzee, a painting of my chimpanzee, and of my owl. And she was just beside herself. And she says, "Oh my goodness..." So actually, I got more than two commissions. I got a demo out of it, too. She first said, "Oh, there is this dog," she said, "The owner is so... I've already told the owner about you, and she wants you to paint a portrait of Sasha." And Sasha happened to be there.
Gorgeous dog, yeah. So that was already a done deal. That was just like, here you go, Alexandra, please paint Sasha. And then as I was petting Sasha, another groomer came up to me and she says, "Oh, Alexandra," she says, "I want you to paint my dog for me." She says, "I just want you to do her as soon as you can," and I said, "Oh, you wanna see some of my work?" She says, "Oh, no," she says, "I've seen your work." She says, "I've been thinking about this for months. I want you to do this, please."
And then as I started to leave, Melanie said to me, she stopped me and she says, "Let's do a popup." She said, "You could be painting here." She said, "You can paint." She said, "I'll do a shoutout to everyone and I'll tell all my clients that you're going to be here and that they need to come down." So I got the two commissions, and then I got the popup, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm just waiting for my new easel to come. What is it called? See, I don't even know the proper term. A plein-air easel.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, what I love so much about this little story is, it almost sounds like, oh, that was lucky, but it's not that. I think there's so many opportunities out there in front of artists every single day that are kind of staring them in the face, and often they just don't have the right mindset or the communication skills to be open and receptive to when this abundance comes into their life. And it's just so amazing that you, I think, maybe from some of the work you've been doing, just felt really comfortable receiving that and taking advantage of that. Any reaction or comment on that?
I do. You know, it really is a mindset shift between scarcity and being excited about what you're doing and the abundance. And people, it's infectious. People see it and they love it and they want it.
Yep. And you have to be comfortable letting go of control. If you had come in and you were like, "Well no, Harry says that we're gonna do Facebook first," or "Hey, we have to do things online." If you were too white knuckle about your plan, that opportunity could've passed you by. But you were open to it and receptive to it, and then basically, that's the beauty of it. There's serendipity that can come into your life if you're listening for it, if you're attune to it, if that makes sense.
It's really true. So I have another friend that owns... She owns a store which is called East Bay Nature, and she sells bird seed and hummingbird feeders and all these things. And she has established clientele. And I was just joking with her over the phone the other day, and I told her, she asked me what I was doing and I told her, and she says, "You could do a popup at my store." She said, "You can come in and I'll tell all my clients that you're coming." Yeah, so it's pretty cool.
You're about to be busy.
I'm about to busy, yeah, I am.
No, I love it. I love it. I think the other thing to add, just analyzing what you're sharing, is I think that that new fire and that new confidence and that new passion not only for your artwork, but it sounds like sharing your artwork with others, I think that also is key to this. 'Cause it's like, that's why you went to the groomer and you brought the paintings under your arm, 'cause you wanna share it with people, you wanna share it with the world. So it's that combination of getting comfortable and confident to share what you have, sharing your message, sharing your voice, and then just being receptive when the world says, "Hey, we want more of that," or "Hey, we wanna work with you on that," and being able to be open to it, if that makes sense.
It's really true. And one other thing, I think I put it into a win that happened to me since I've met you, and that is that this abundance, this mindset. So one evening I was, I forgot where, but I found out that Alameda County Fair is happening this year, and it's late, it's in October. And they normally have these amazing paintings and photographs and everything.
[Siri] It's nice to have one's work appreciated.
Oh. My iPad is-
We've got another guest of the interview. Siri. Anyway. So I saw that-
Don't worry. Everything all right?
I saw that there was a competition that was open. And I thought, you know what? It's local instead of me putting my stuff on Instagram or whatever, it's local. So what if people... I mean, maybe somebody will like it. So I took the risk of entering the first competition ever. And I was just stunned two weeks ago, just stunned when I got an email, and they said I took first place.
Didn't you say that you almost thought the email... You were gonna delete the email before opening it.
I was gonna delete the email 'cause I thought it was trash. I couldn't believe it. And that's all from that, just be willing to put it out there and not worry about being sanctioned, or people saying, "Who does she think she is?" Or whatever. It's just about putting it out there.
So that's a huge, huge, huge step for me.
I love it. That's awesome. So yeah, what areas in your life, or personally, professionally, do you feel like have improved since we were working together?
Oh. Most people when they reach 75, I mean, everyone that I know that reaches 75, they have family or they have kids or whatever and it's just all about them and it's kind of on the downswing.
Playing bridge, you know?
Yeah. And that couldn't be further. That would be like hell on earth for me if I was forced to do something like that. it would just be awful. No, it would be worse than awful. I would be one of those... Oh, it would be horrible. So seniors have this horrible, there's a point where your life declines. And I'm sorry, I'm just not willing to go there yet. So I've got this huge life in front of me, and I'm ecstatic. I feel like I'm in my 30s again, where I've got my whole life in front of me, and I've got so much to do to help with conservation, and help this... I'm so concerned about what's happening to our planet and climate change and all. So I feel like I can actually be an important contributing human being, figuring out a-
Do your part, your small little part, you know?
My small little part, yeah. So it's taken me my whole life to figure out what I wanted to do, what I wanted to do when I grew up. It's taken me my whole life.
I love it. Well yeah, it's exciting. Yeah, it's like a beautiful new chapter of your life is unfolding. You're on page one of this new chapter. So that's exciting.
I am. I am, yeah. Yeah. So like I was joking with you, I can start an Instagram account saying "Somebody forgot to tell me that I was 75 and that life was over."
I don't wanna be a motivational speaker, so I'm not gonna do that one.
Not go that route. Well, do you feel like you've gotten a return on your investment so far?
Oh yeah, I definitely do, Harry. I would recommend your program 100%. Absolutely. It's really fabulous. I love the part, especially, that you make yourself accessible to everyone. That's so important. It's not just a cookie cutter program.
I appreciate that. That's awesome. So yeah, on that note, thinking back to when we had our sales conversation together, do you remember, why did you decide to do business with me? Was there anything that kinda kicked you over the fence?
It's that you had... Yeah, your first artist, that he had real results. And results speak to me. It's not about... If it had just been consultants, then it would've been a little more obscure for me. But since it's specifically about art, that was important because I don't have 300,000 followers on my Instagram account, I don't have 500,000. I don't even have... On my Facebook, I don't even have 1,000 followers. So for me, I needed to be able to figure out a way to... I wouldn't say justify being in art 'cause I'm going to do my art no matter what, but I would say it was just... It tickles me pink to think that I can actually earn a living from this.
That's huge. That is huge for me. I don't have a backdoor here. There is no backdoor for me. This is the only place I have. And I don't have time to waste to try to figure it out, either. So that's why I listen to the videos, I listen, I try to participate, I'm trying to learn as much as I can because I don't wanna waste any time. I don't have any time to waste.
No, I love it. I love it. I think it's such a testament to you and your discipline and your passion, and just drive. If you can do it, I think anyone can do it, right? If they just put in the work, you know?
Yes. Yes. And I had a lot of attitudes about that I hadn't made it, that I was 75, I just lost my company, I just lost my entire life savings, I just lost everything, except my home and my husband, and my dogs. Anything tangible, I mean, if someone were to look they'd say, "Oh dear, oh dear. Oh, that's terrible." Right. But for me, it's like, I have everything I need now. I mean, I know that I have a life back, which is incredible. Yeah.
Yeah. It's like a lot of people, with all that adversity that you faced last year with the pandemic and stuff, yeah, they could've said, "I'm just gonna hang everything up, just gonna retire." But you somehow were able to channel that and look at the positive in it, and turn it into a rebirth, right? And it's just amazing to see how optimistic and positive you are in the face of that, coming off of it, which is exciting.
Well, it's just... I mean, it's really hard to fail with a pencil and paper. It's really hard. There's nothing between you and that pencil and paper, so everything that you put down is real. It's just real. All that distraction, all those shiny objects, all that is all gone. It was just gone, it was wiped off. It was a totally fresh-
So in a way, it's like you had all this extra space, mental space, time, to really dig in to your art and make this happen.
I did. That's all I had. And other people I know, they went, "Oh, the pandemic, and I'm isolated, and I'm here alone." I'm like, oh my goodness, I'm just in heaven. I'm in heaven. So yeah.
Uh-huh, yeah. So I'm really-
Well so, what sort of artist do you feel like we're especially a good fit for?
Oh. Artists that... Artists that are going to... I don't wanna say put the work in because it's not work. What it is, is it's focus. It's focus and it's... They will listen, and they will learn. So an artist, it doesn't matter what genre. Any artist that wants to put in the time to learn, they can't help but have their lives better because of this. It's not a waste of time, it's a huge, huge benefit to anyone who has these skills that you're teaching us.
I think for a lot of artists, the ideas and the methods I teach, I think it's very safe to say that they're unconventional. So you can come in as an artist and you're like, is this really gonna work for me? Is this really a fit? Is it really gonna apply? And you would just say, absolutely, keep pushing through and then you're gonna have these mindset shifts, right? Can you speak a little bit to that?
Yeah, it's really true. I can look at- Oh, I'm sorry. I can look at... I can look at galleries, and I can look at very prestigious New York competitions and everything, and I can get into the mindset about, oh my goodness, they don't know who I am, I don't have the CV yet-
Pining after them, being like, if I could just get into that, I'll be set, or whatever.
And totally ignoring all the opportunities that I have in front of me. It's really important... I forgot what your question is. The question was just about how, I think you were just saying all this good stuff about how you can't help but benefit and have your life be better because of it, if you just focus and learn. And I was just commenting on how I think a lot of my methods are unconventional, and so think some artists come in and their first impression is like, "Is this really gonna work for me as an artist? I don't see it yet," they can't quite connect the dots right away, but the more they sit with, the more it just... It just clicks one day and they're like, "Oh my gosh, I get it. It's gonna work, it makes sense to me." You see what I'm getting at?
I do. I think why your methods are so important is because it's not about a sales script, it's not about a domino or a gremlin, what it is, is it's about being authentic and understanding what the other person is saying, and being in alignment with them, and not having to have it be an outcome where you sell a painting. It's not about that at all. For me, what I've learned, is it's really about learning to focus in exactly on what is being said, and being able to just talk with them as another human being, and see about, is there a fit? And if there's not a fit, just letting it-
Move on, plenty of fish in the sea.
Moving on. Because as you said, there's an abundance. There are billions of people. It doesn't have to be that person buying from you.
And that's a huge, huge, huge shift.
No, I love it. I love it. So why should an artist who's listening take action right now?
I don't think, unless you're Harry, I don't think this comes naturally. I think these are skills that need to be learned. And so an artist, just like I need to practice this and understand it and really internalize it so it becomes very natural. And I think every artist can benefit from that.
Yep. No, I love it. I love it. I mean, even for me, it wasn't a natural thing, I had to learn it. But it's like, anyone can learn it, it's not rocket science, but it just takes having somebody who can show you the way, right? And like you said, it's like building muscle memory, it's building habits, it's internalizing these new things. It's like when you probably first picked up a paintbrush. There's certain exercises or strokes that you learn, or little studies that you would do. Or if you learned a musical instrument, you learn how to play the chords first. You need someone's help to get those fundamentals in place, and it just makes all the difference in the world, right?
It really does. I took a class, a wonderful class, online class from a UK artist, he's in graphite. And he was talking about how working with graphite and pencils, it's really muscle memory. You have to do it over, and over, and over, and over again, and then it just becomes natural. But at first it's very awkward, it's very uncomfortable to move your hand a certain way or make certain strokes. And the same thing with painting, the same thing with working with brushes. I work with oils. So it's all about muscle memory. With what you're teaching, I remember that. It's all about muscle memory. Even if I'm not practicing with someone, I can still be reading it, I can still be saying it to myself, I can still-
And don't you sometimes, you listen to it while you paint, right?
I listen to it all the time while I paint.
I listen to it all the time. And actually, you just reminded me of something that I had forgotten that I did. This is in my 20s. This is before the internet, before technology, but it was hugely impactful for me. I was going through a really rough spot. Again, there had been some deaths in my family. I forgot, a psychologist or someone taught me how to do it. So I was really down on myself, and I needed to get myself out of that. So what I would do, is I would... Oh, I was in a very competitive business. I was in the commodities market and I was working in a bullpen. And so what I would do, is I would pick up the phone. And we had message machines then. I would pick up the phone and I would leave a message for myself on the message machine so in the morning, every morning when I had to go into that bullpen, and I had to put on my business face... It was something like, I would say, on the message it went something like, "Good morning, Alexandra. Today's going to be a wonderful day, and it's going to be wonderful because of this, this, this, and this, and don't you forget it." I would give myself a little pep talk like that.
It's like an affirmation. It's awesome.
Yeah. So every morning when I got to work, and I would go and I would check my messages, there would always be a message on my phone from me to me.
That's awesome. I love that. That's so cool.
So hearing my voice... Somewhere I heard that when you hear something with your own voice, it's much more powerful than if you hear it in somebody else's voice.
If you made the message the night before, you sleep, you come back, it sounds like a different person in a way. It's like you've gotten some distance from it.
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
That's cool. That's cool.
Well, let me ask you this, too. What is your number one piece of advice for artists?
There's always a start. Everybody needs to start someplace. The people that have gotten huge successes, they started at the beginning, too. There's always a start, and it's at the start where you take the little baby steps and you learn to do something. And by having one success, you'll have another success. You cannot fail by taking these steps.
I love it. That's such a good message. I think you're right. It's like, anybody who you look up to, you admire, they were at your point in time at some point in their career, right? And before that, they hadn't even started their career. I love that message. It's such a refresher to just remember, yeah, everybody starts at some point, right?
What separates you from them, it's like, they just started walking down that path. They just kept taking steps, no matter how rocky the path was, or steep, or whatever, they just kept putting one foot in front of the other, if that makes sense.
It's just one foot in front of the other. Yep, it is. And the fact that, as you say, the world is really abundant. It is full of people that are excited about purchasing art and purchasing items. There's a lot of money being spent out there, and so why not our art?
Have you heard of... I love the idea of, there's the economy, or the money that you're talking about, it's like a river, right? And the river is flowing.
And so people that learn about business, it's just, they learn how to wade deeper into the river and sluice off a little bit of the water, right?
And then the water keeps moving around the economy, you know? It doesn't stop with you, right?
Right, it doesn't stop. The world can just keep on going on. It can keep on going on. It will go on with or without you, so you might as well participate.
Yeah. The world's so much better. It's like, for everyone like you, Alexandra, literally, the world is an objectively better place because you are figuring out how to get your art into people's lives, into their homes. You're touching people. Your art is valuable whether it's special to you, whether someone buys it or not. But there's just something about getting it out there and allowing it to make someone else's life better, which just 10 Xs the value of what you're doing, not on a financial level, just on an emotional, human, social level, if that makes sense.
Right. Right, it just makes the world a better place.
Yeah, I will go back to... I mean, there's so much sadness, there's so many problems, there's so much conflict going on, and with art, it's so beautiful. It's just so incredible. It's a signature of every single person that's an artist. And it's meant to be. It didn't happen by accident.
Yep, yep. Exactly. So I love it. This is awesome. It's so great to hear more about your background and your story. Let's do another one of these in a couple months after you've maybe made some more sales. Okay, great.
We've got some more to do.
Thank you so much, Harry.
If people wanna learn more about you, where can they find out more about you online?
Well, they can see my art on Instagram. So it's @alexandrasaundersart on Instagram. If they wanna read my bio, take the time to read my bio and stuff, it's on my website, which is alexandrasaunders.com.
And if they're interested, they can DM you, right? They can talk to you?
They can DM me. I'll talk to anyone, yes.
Good. Good, good, good. All right. Well, thanks so much, and we'll talk soon, Alexandra.
Thank you. Talk soon. Bye, Harry.
Hundreds of artists around the world have used Unstarving Artists to start and grow their art practices, expand their minds, and change their lives.