"I would like to paint the way a bird sings." ~Monet
To artist Lori McNee, these aren't just words, but words to live by. Indeed, birds are one of the best ways of explaining her artwork: beautiful like the Flamingo; expressive like the Peacock; and like the Eagle, it soars! Her passion for wildlife and the environment give energy and dimension to her masterpieces, which are inspiring a new generation of artists.
McNee has thrilled audiences and art collectors for more than a quarter of a century. She has studied with some of the giants in her field, and her work has been featured in some of the world's leading magazines. And, she generously gives much needed tips and info to other artists. This is why she's a favorite on PlumTV, and one of the 100 most powerful women on Twitter.
Talking with her is like a breath of fresh air. She's an artistic superstar who doesn't talk endlessly about "followers" and "listings". Her conversation is mostly about how her love for the outdoors informs her artwork, and about helping others in times of need. She's a fantastic woman who believes strongly in the Power of Twitter, and whose amazing life is, quite beautifully, a work of art.
How do you use Twitter and other forms of social media to connect with your fans?
My teenagers were shocked to find me on social media. First blogging, and now Facebook & Twitter! Being an artist is often a solitary profession, so social media is a great 'social outlet' for me. I took to it like a duck takes to water! I started FineArtTips as a way of sharing my artistic knowledge and journey. It is my way of 'giving back' to my art community. However, once I started my art blog, I knew that I needed social media to get my message 'out there' to a larger audience.
Twitter is one of the quickest ways to build brand recognition. There is no faster way to deliver a message, and no better way to have your message go viral than through the power of social media. I use Facebook as a way to nurture and make deeper connections, share a bit more of my personality and my own artwork, and easily see what's up with my fellow artists and friends. Recently, I have been learning how to film and edit 'how to' videos which I share on YouTube - my fans seem to enjoy these.
You mentioned to me that there are two key factors that help me connect with your fans on Twitter & Facebook. Explain that.
The two key factors are content and relationships. Twitter is an 'information-network', so I must give a good reason for people to follow me. I do my best to provide informative, accurate, and thought provoking content. Once you begin to gain a following, you can connect, engage and build lasting relationships. I am recognized as a leader in my field because I am a working artist who has personally built strong connections. I do my best to practice what I preach! I truly do care about my followers and fans, and do my best to personally thank and connect with them. This can take a bit of time away from my painting, but in the long run, it pays off in a tremendously positive and powerful way. In fact, the quality of my art has even improved! There are real, caring supportive people on the other end with valuable connections and relationships to be made. I absolutely love social media!
Where do you get the inspiration to create such amazing artwork?
The great outdoors and its creatures have always been an important part of my life. Much of what I paint is connected to my past. During my childhood in Arizona and California, I would spend many hours trying to catch the birds that flocked to our yard. Finally, I decided to capture the birds on paper with a pencil. I have been drawing and painting ever since.
I have lived in the central mountains of Idaho for over twenty-five years where I am constantly surrounded by artistic inspiration. It is not uncommon to find me four-wheeling in the back-country, or hiking with my three dogs on high mountain trails, carrying my paint box on my back. While painting the landscape out in the field, Mother Nature is in charge. However, when setting up a still life painting, I am able to create my own small universe in my studio. These paintings echo the delicate balance between nature and man. The arrangements are a juxtaposition of nature-made and man-made elements and most often include birds.
Whether in the field or studio, I respond to the effects of color, light and atmosphere on the subject. In order for the painting to be a success, I must feel and portray the solid weight of a vase, the wisp of a cloud or the bend of the grasses. Today, the curious child in me still enjoys exploring, not passing casually by the things that I love, but stopping to know and record them with my oil paints. In a world full of chaos, I strive to create a respite for the soul.
What's next for you? You've talked about giving your art an even bigger global audience. Can you share your strategy with the readers?
Sure. I've met lots of amazing people around the world through social media, and its paid off! Last year, I taught a 'plein air' painting workshop in Provence, France. Since then, I have had many requests to combine painting and social media workshops /seminars, which I will start in the spring. I would even like to host the first official 'Great Twitter Paint-Out' where Twitter artists can rendezvous - so stayed tuned for that! Now that I am nearly an empty nester, I can devote even more time to my fine art, blogging and social media careers. I will add more gallery shows to my schedule and will soon launch a series of small original oil paintings designed specifically for my internet collectors. Also, I plan to broadcast my own live painting shows from my studio via FineArtTips.com, and I will continue to produce informative videos for my artist community. The opportunities are exciting and seem endless as I continue to learn and teach others how to harness the power of this amazing new media. Nowadays, all I need is just a little more time!
How would you describe yourself in 140 characters or less?
Lori McNee: lover of Life, poetic painter, art blogger, quote junkie, friend to birds & animals, busy mom living a active mountain life!
To view some of Lori's amazing paintings, check out her website. To read more about her artistic adventures, friend her on her Facebook page and follow her on her Twitter feed.
Author's Note: In case you missed it, here's Part 10 of the series: Live Free, and Tweet Smarter.