Monday, March 30, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
An interesting addition to yesterday's post. My mother would call it "synchronicity" that I came across this Washington Post article talking about whether or not people appreciate beauty out of context.
In this article it explores what happens when a world famous musician plays for 45 minutes in a bland Washington subway station during the morning commute. There is an accompanying You Tube video to enjoy as well. The results of this are fascinating, the article is worth a full read.
One discussion I had early on in my relationship with my husband was going back and forth on whether or not art is autonomous - does art stand alone to be appreciated for what it is, within itself or does art gain value by being tied in with whoever created it, the story behind it, the setting and mood behind the production. I've never been totally sold on the art is autonomous argument, context, publicity and a good story weigh in so heavily for most artists.
I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on this.
Further to yesterday's post, I am ashamed to admit that mere hours after hitting "Publish" I found myself not only in an Ikea, but enjoying a meal with my kids in McDonalds. The irony of this did NOT escape me. I promise to try harder in the coming days!
Friday, March 27, 2009
We are a consumer society. Every aspect of our lives is tied to a consumer element to some degree. Every day we are faced with a myriad of choices of things that we will spend our time and money consuming.
I've compared the price of artwork to eating out at fancy restaurants before, to point out the long term enjoyment of a beautiful piece of artwork over the short term enjoyment of a nice meal. Also, I discussed how artwork is not merely an indulgent decorator purchase, but rather could be considered a long term investment.
What I've been thinking about lately is how we spend our media time and money. I think in the pursuit of well crafted art, literature and film over commercial hype and the blockbuster mentality we are feeding our minds quality media.
Instead of listening to the advertising gimmicks we need to be taking the time to place our dollars in the hands of people producing quality. By being intentional in this we are working towards moving our society in the direction that supports creative thinking and craftsmanship. These industries are often at the brink of disappearing, by funding them, you are creating a sustainable environment for these creative businesses and giving them the potential to flourish.
They say that a mark of a society at its pinnacle is that there is a thriving intellectual and creative culture, this cannot happen unless people place their time and resources into developing and supporting this. If our culture spends all of its time and money supporting McDonalds and Hollywood, what does this say about us? (the term "garbage in = garbage out" comes to mind)
Also, we know what can potentially happen if we consume a steady diet of junk food, our health deteriorates. Same can be said of a steady diet of junk media, our mental and intellectual health can stagnate and deteriorate. By seeking out media that is thought provoking, engaging and intellectually stimulating, you are keeping your mind fit and vigorous - potentially elevating your own creative output.
My challenge to my readers this week is to seek out something that is not the lowest common denominator. I honestly think it can be anything that supports craftsmanship and quality over "more for your money". Value for your dollar doesn't always mean the lowest price or the largest quantity.
Be intentional in this, replace something that you would normally spend money on. Go see a lot of movies? Go to a repertoire theatre and check out a foreign film. Buy a lot of magazines? Spend a few dollars more and get an independent publication in the genre of your choice. Shop a lot at discount home stores or Ikea? Go to a site such as etsy and support an artisan. Try something organic - really, your possibilities are endless here.
I just want to encourage you to not to be afraid of "getting less" or "spending more" I think you should try to savour and enjoy something special. Lets support our creative culture somehow this week. I invite your thoughts on this or what you discover! Have a great week.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Inspired by this, I decided to paint a "stained glass" cover. The subject is probably not familiar to many people. Theodora is a Christian martyr and the subject of a wonderful oratorio by George Frideric Handel.
Her story dates back to 300 AD, in Alexandria. Theodora takes a vow of celibacy during a time where women had a duty to the state of Rome to produce children. Once her celibacy for her Christian faith became known, she was sentenced to be imprisoned in a brothel.
In the meantime, a Roman soldier, Didymus, heard of Theodora's plight. He was secretly a Christian and his heart was torn when he learned of her fate. He made arrangements to visit the brothel that Theodora was transported to.
Didymus managed to pose as Theodora's first customer. Once inside her room, he instructed her to dress in his clothing and make her escape. She managed to pull this feat off and Didymus was discovered after the next man entered the room.
He revealed that he was a blessed man because he had helped free an innocent woman and now had a chance to die for his faith. He was brought before the courts and sentenced to death.
When Theodora heard about his fate, she could not bear to have him die alone, so revealed her identity as he was being sentenced. According to legend, Theodora was beheaded and Didymus was burned, both retaining their pure faith to the grave.
Not the most cheerful subject matter, but an interesting story nonetheless. I enjoyed painting this cover immensely - I think it turned out really well too.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The basic image is pretty much decided at this point, now is the time to add lush details. Keep checking back for an update on the progress!
Friday, March 20, 2009
There is something about owning an original piece of art that constantly teaches the viewer something. I have had works in my possession for years that I'll be sitting near and half daydreaming when I'll suddenly catch a detail hidden in plain view that I've never noticed before.
I think it is especially important for artists to collect the work of other artists. This does not matter whether or not the style is similar to yours, you just have to enjoy the work itself.
The piece above was painted by my talented friend, Veronica Funk. Through a series of complex art negotiations (this has been a fun week!) we have bartered an exchange. Amongst many treasures, I am the proud owner of the above piece.
As I've mentioned before, I am a lover of white on white, direct from the tube white, white juxtaposed with intense pigment - you name it, I love copious amounts of white in a painting. This piece attracted me way back when she first painted it.
Already, after having it in my possession for a few days, I've learned a few things. Veronica has had more experience than me with showings and galleries. I could see immediately that her packaging was crisp and professional, she's noted certain details on the back (I love looking at the backs of paintings - everyone has a different method!).
I've contemplated her application of paint, noted her layers, admired the simplicity of certain details she's executed. I know that I have a bunch more discoveries to make over the course of time. Art keeps teaching you things - things will pop out in different lights, certain colour choices will attract your attention depending on your mood.
So, what will I do with this information? Depends. Some of it will merely enhance my familiarity of an artist - you can come to recognize little nuances that are unique like a fingerprint. Other things one might think "well, that is a way better way of going about that issue" and it might be modified for future use. Overall, it will deepen your appreciation of that particular artist's viewpoint and craftsmanship.
I encourage you this week to seek out some fresh art for your own contemplation - make it a learning experience! If you need to start somewhere, check out my shop. (hey, its my weekly plug!)
Thursday, March 19, 2009
This step is the reason why I post the crummy looking early steps. I have an almost perverse enjoyment of posting transformations from sketchy, to slightly recognizable, to not bad, to better to wow.
We are starting to turn the corner with this piece. I had to stop myself from working this to completion in order to catch the fairy up to this stage (that keeps them looking similar and keeps the palettes really close).
I know exactly where I want to take this from here, but I'll get her counterpart to this point before I go further. Keep checking back!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I was reading a post on The Simple Dollar (a great finance blog) and in it there is a great little story about what 50 pounds of clay can teach you. The premise is that if a group was divided into 2 and one was asked to produce quality, and the other to produce quantity - the ones who produced quantity actually made higher quality stuff.
The gist of this is that people who are working are getting things done by practicing, practicing, practicing. The ones who sat around talking about perfection never really took the time and worked the kinks out.
I have found this to be true in my own work. When I've been producing ACEO or Painting Studies at a fast paced rate, my hand eye coordination improves, my eye for composition is keener and I am very often looking at the world through the eyes of a painter.
When one rests on minor successes of the past I view it as a sign of stagnation. Viewing a minor distinction as an indication of future success isn't developing or progressing. The more one develops I think the more they find that they have so much more to explore and offer to their craft.
If someone tells me all the could'ves of their life (I could've been a rock star, could've been a pro athlete) I lose interest pretty fast. Usually discussions like this prove that this person has never actually attempted even the smallest fraction of what it takes to become the top of their game.
I think some of the best artists out there are the best because they are prolific. Constantly changing, exploring, developing. Willing to risk things, willing to fail. Repeating past successes rarely takes someone to the top.
I'm not at the top of my game, not sure I ever will be. One thing I do know: I have found that with daily posting on my blog, selling at auction (even if I don't get rich from it), posting my rougher unfinished work and behind the scenes stuff has given me a great boost as an artist. I'm motivated, I have a deadline, I have a purpose for what I'm doing.
Hopefully I can keep growing and changing, producing my 50 pounds and eventual quality.
Monday, March 16, 2009
These two 9" x 12" paintings are being commissioned for two little sisters. This is very early in the game. I've only roughly drafted in the figures and blocked the basic colours. Keep checking back in the next few days to see how things start shaping up!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
I know I've seen this scenario played out time and time again. Usually the dollar signs start lighting up the viewers eyes as we wait for the appraisal value to ring up on the screen. I want to back up for a moment though - I think there is something important that is commonly missed.
Lets look at the this with the monetary value removed. Someone comes, sometimes a great distance. They wait in line for hours, clutching their item, braving inclement weather. They approach the expert in whatever field their antique is categorized as and they get the chance tell the story of how they came to own the piece.
Usually the story involves a relative from long ago. There may be a romantic component because the piece was given to mark their love for another. Sometimes it cost a month's wages, sometimes they got the item for a song. Usually there is a "and it was left sitting in the attic for 20 years wrapped in linen until my aunt Mabel stumbled across it". Little letters or references to famous people may be produced, all in all this is great television.
Even beyond that, lets think about this - this treasure matters to this person. They may have never met the long lost relative that purchased it, yet there is a connection. There is a pride in the past and the provenance of the item. Sure, there might be a monetary force behind bringing it in (and they might sell it the second they leave) but the fact that they are telling the story says a lot.
Maybe you will purchase something (could be a mundane household item, could be a piece of art) that may become someone's story. It might be their connection to their history, their connection to you. I encourage you to find something that might be someone's special future treasure. If you need a place to start, check out my store!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
(this is really worth clicking on)
I don't quite know what the punchline is, but notice how in the second frame there is a carefully drawn speech bubble. The framed dog picture is pretty priceless too. I guess my 4 year old daughter likes drawing cartoons as well!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Monday, March 09, 2009
I've been meaning to paint this little cup for a while now. It isn't actually an espresso cup by design, it belongs to my daughter's tea set.
When I was thinking about painting it, I thought that it would look more interesting with a beverage inside. A shot of espresso fit perfectly. The cup is quite rounded, I love how it gets nice thick highlights and shadows.
The crema (the orange-y coating that sticks to the side and surface) was the most fun to paint. In a former life I was a Starbucks Barista for a few years - having a chance to capture this in paint was very enjoyable. I like the slight stain on the rim and saucer - brings a touch of warmth to the cool white tones.
Looking at this painting makes me want to have another!
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Saturday, March 07, 2009
I have been experimenting lately with really sun drenched subjects. I love how the light is just pouring over the side of the apple, bleaching out the colour. I think this is my internal craving for springtime and fair weather peeping through.
Another thing I've been focussing on is the juxtaposition of the red and greens - those two can be hard to marry within a solo object. I think I'm improving with practice.
I also like the balance achieved with the inky black table with the hot white highlight.
Friday, March 06, 2009
There have been a couple studies done on the effects that viewing art has on people with high levels of stress. The results were surprising in one study - researchers found that saliva cortisol levels (an indication of stress) dropped 32% after a trip to the gallery.
Normally this type of drop would take approximately 5 hours, but in the case of the participants it was an average of 40 minutes!
Now keep in mind, these took place in a gallery setting which, if you are a gallery frequenter, you will know they rank up there with libraries and cathedrals as a quiet contemplative environment.
However, this might be worth a try for you if you lead a fast paced, high stakes life - take some time to visit a gallery and soak in some masterpieces. Consider it another tool to help you cope with the stresses of your job!
If you want to surround yourself artwork so that you can experience that relaxing effect in your home or office, it might be worth a shot. At the very least you will have beautiful surroundings to soothe you on a daily basis. Check out my store if you need to stock up (you know I had to do a plug!)
Thursday, March 05, 2009
My poor kids have been really sick. Disrupting everyday life sick. Hence I have no new auctions or anything to show.
Instead, I am taking a page from my sketchbook. Two guy hunched over and watching the game. I like the simplicity of this sketch. The fellow in the foreground is wearing a toque. You can't get more Canadian than that!
Hopefully my sick little kids will be back to good health so that I can get some painting done tomorrow!
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Also in the issue is a feature on a local artisan and friend, Cheryl Bakke Martin. If you live in Airdrie, have a peek at the latest issue!
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Monday, March 02, 2009
This one took a bit longer than usual. I find painting two toned apples to be a bit of a challenge. First you are contending with your highlights and shadows and then you have to keep your green to red hues in check. A bit of back and forth is required in the matter.
I chose my floral pattern plate here - I liked how the green of the foliage complemented the green-y yellow of the apple, plus there is that white hot highlight on the right hand side where the light hits the gold rim of the plate.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
This woman was waiting for her companion. She just sort of hunched over flicking her hair, pretending to be interested in the hockey game on the television. She was a mixture of bored and ready to spring into attentiveness.
I can tell I've been sketching from real life a lot more - the images are emerging from a scratchy tangle of lines. I like the fact that I'm loosening up somewhat, sketching has become a regular part of my artistic diet again.
My bird sketchbook is almost finished - that was August till March. I bought a new one today, I'm thinking about what I want to paint on the cover this time. I also want to finish this new one in under 6 months - totally doable.