Thursday, August 12, 2010
One way to calm the thought storms or just start the process is much like meditation; taking 15 to 20 minutes just to sit quietly and write something, anything. It's a free write in all senses of the word, free. Your thoughts are free, it costs you nothing but gives back so much the day you start and in the months to come. If you stick with it and make it a habit, it will become a sacred time, and you'll look forward to it. Psychologists use this method often to have patients put their innermost thoughts, usually what's bothering them, onto paper. It gets it off their chests and onto an inanimate object- the paper. They can see the problem now. They can read it back to themselves and see what they can change and what they can't; how they can better cope with life and the people around them, their guilt and sadness. They can cry on it, they can crumple it, or they can tear it to shreds, but it's off their chests and starts a healing. It's a freeing experience for what has ailed them.
When the artist takes pen to paper, the same kinds of things can happen. Small thumbnail sketches may appear with notes or how we feel about a direction we are striving to accomplish or one we just can't seem to get a grip on. Maybe we decide in our writing new choices of materials or mediums we could use. A line, a quote of our own, or written thoughts may appear from "out there" which an entire poem or song can be achieved. An unfocused mind may find a clarity in realizing the need to complete one project at a time instead of six that are half finished, setting weekly goals for that project, getting organized, while also jotting down ideas for other projects to get to in the weeks or months to come.
In writing, we can organize our priorities, question ourselves and answer our deepest questions if we take the time and effort to sit quietly and do it with no interruptions. It is a meditation for our own survival especially in times of stress or sadness, fear of failure or ambivalence or in our great successes. I believe in Positive Thinking and Positive Imaging. If you believe, you will achieve. If you see it in your mind's eye, and believe it's your destiny, then anything is possible to a willing heart and mind. "You CAN do anything you really want to do, if you want to do it." You can create your world. Please watch this video and be inspired. I was. Artist- Dennis Francesconi from his website.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
We all want to get on the "Green" bandwagon if not in a big way, surely in a small way. Today on the Care2 Healthy and Green Living web blog, there was a wonderful video for upcycling your wine corks. I've been saving mine to use as tools in my artwork for years from stamping, textures to blending inks.
With stamping, you can carefully engrave on them with an Exacto knife or burn into them with an electric burning tool. For blending inks on glossy paper, just glue a piece of felt on the end of the cork and it's ready to go. If you only have a few corks, you can drink more vino or you can glue a piece of textured Velcro to the cork end, and then place your small piece of felt. That way you can change them for different colors! Want texture in your polymer clay? Glue small textured materials to the stub or the sides. Cheap and easy, and they are your own, not store-bought!
This video from Youtube, also gives a great idea for Upcyling those after party corks, and you'll be able to use it in your art room for posting messages, or great textures as a huge stamp! Hmm... I'm always thinking! Have a great rest of the day!
Friday, July 9, 2010
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico makes me angrier by day after long day. It amazes me that our country, so technologically savy, educated, so caring in so many ways, cannot understand the negative impact we do to our earth daily. I have always been an environmentalist, 'Earth Bird', 'Tree Hugger'... Call me whatever... I am proud of it. I realized long ago, that our own day to day living as part of a much larger wasteful society, causes the diverse, interdependent, fragile natural habitats, our own health, the health of our rivers and air to become ill. I knew we each must do our part, so I create art from recycled materials. This was my emphasis in the beginning, and still is a great part of my art- to make something beautiful from wasted materials. I remember my late Mother always using this anonymous quote with us: "Use it Up! Wear it out! Make it Do! Or do Without!" Yes, she was from the Great Depression era, but they were not wasters.
We recycle as much as we can in our home and in the studios trying to make, at least, a bit of a dent where so many do little but expect the earth to churn out the natural resources forever. Meanwhile, most gets dumped in landfills here, in poorer countries or our oceans. We have a composter for all the plant and vegetable clippings. It creates wonderful topsoil for my plants and herbs. We fold all cardboards from cereal, cracker boxes, junk mail and and heavier papers, and along with any metals or glass, deliver them to the recycle box or the recycling place in town. We drive little and conserve gas. With our list we make one trip to town instead of three or four. I enjoy going to second hand thrift stores looking for objects for my art and many other things to re-appropriate into new items. We try to buy things with less packaging, and bring our own handmade bags to the grocery stores made from the Jeans I found at the thrift stores.
Some will say I'm crazy, and I've been told this on many occasions over the years. It's said with such distaste and disdain too. But my answer to them is a simple refrain, 'Where is your personal responsibility to your own well-being, that of your children's, or to the Earth? Who does it start with, someone else? Why not you? When do we stop taking from the Earth and give something back?' We all can do a little something- "Count your pennies and the dollars add up" is a good old quote, and we can easily think of ourselves as the Pennies on the Earth that will add up to a cleaner, healthier Dollar planet if we choose to do our part.
What are some ideas you may have for re-purposing art materials or ridding your workspace of some of the toxins you may use? Let's share ideas in the name of Mother Earth today, - Everyday is Earth Day, or it should be!
Check this video out...
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Picture with permission of Mary Arango
Have you ever wanted to sell your art at an art festival, but fear of the unknown stopped you dead in your tracks, while the desire for the gypsy lifestyle was still in your soul? Have you visited festivals to see the array of art from the high priced unique to the flea market bargains? Does asking other artists to share their secrets get you no where? You want to sell your artwork, you know that people would enjoy seeing it, and perhaps, buy it, but you don't know where to start. If you give it a go, will it be fun, profitable, energizing or a nightmare?
Well, have I found most of the answers in a new book by a working artist, printmaker, from Las Vegas, Nevada. I emailed her several years back, as I don't live far from Vegas. She has been doing art festivals for many years. Maria Arango of 1000 Woodcuts has published the most wonderful book with just about everything one might want to know. It is insightful as well as humorous. Maria tells it like it is from her own experiences. She unveils those tidbits that we would love to ask the working artists at art festivals, but were either afraid to ask, or simply this: They are there in the business of selling their art at a festival, and they don't want to lose a sale because they are joining other "could be's" in lengthy conversations about the how to's of business.I can see their point, and we cannot expect this of them. Maria remembers the questions, though, and decided to write this book to answer them for "would be's", "could be's" and "maybe's".
Maria Arango's book is called Art Festivals - The Artist's Guide to Selling at Art Festivals. Through her lighthearted humor, and downright honesty, she gives you the in's and outs of all sides of the business: The Do's and the Don't's, from start to end, preparation to finding the right shows for your work, setting up, marketing, your attitude, what one needs and doesn't, business tips to taxes. It is so informative that anyone even considering trying their hand at the art festivals should really read it and ponder. It will save you time, grief, and one excruciating backache...maybe... The book also has a wonderful bibliography at the end to help you find answers to your specific questions. There is a glossary to define things for you and resource websites to visit for products too. It has a wealth of information for those who want to embark on this journey that will save you time, expense and research work. It will also make you ask yourself the big questions: Are Art Festivals for me? Do I have what it takes in health, stamina and energy?
I encourage anyone thinking about selling artwork whether it be at festivals or small shows, to read the last chapter on business, taxes and other things. The entire book was a quick read and one of those that you can refer back to often.
Thank you, Maria! You can see Maria Arango's beautiful woodblock prints and learn more about her at her website: http://www.1000woodcuts.com
Her Blog: http://1000woodcuts.blogspot.com
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
This video below on creating a self-portrait was inspiring in that I thought it might be fun for us to create our own in any medium or style. I would then post them here for us to see. Do they have to be as realistic as the in the video? NO. Create a self-portrait in any way, shape or form...pencil, pastel, paint, tiles, sculpy, watercolor, abstract, stick people, collage, whatever rocks your boat, etc. Just express the inner you in a simple way or any way. No rules, just fun.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Well, spending a week with my new book on the life of Suzanne Valadon, it has been the most wonderful, historical and enlightening time that I've spent in a while. So sorry I haven't posted, but I can't tell you how the late 1800's, turn of the century and WWI came alive through this writer, who really researched this first Bohemian woman artist. I had scanned two books on the artist, deciding which to purchase. One seemed too romanticized and novel-ish and I wanted a more factual researched based piece. Well, I was not disappointed with June Ross, "The Mistress of Montmarte". I was taken away with it to a time and place when the Impressionists, the Fauves, and Modernists made the scene in France. This was a woman with no fear, no self-consciousness about her modeling, her body, her art, or the way she chose to live her life; much of her life being a struggle with a problem son, an aging mother, illness, two marriages, exhibiting and selling, WWI, but you never get a hint that she was unhappy. She lived her life the way she chose to. She had "moxie". Although not the "mothering" type, nor the stay at home wife, the child was left in the care of the grandmother, but Suzanne was the sole support of the little troupe before her first marriage and after it hit bottom. She longed to be free. She was the model for many works we take for granted by Degas ad Lautrec and others.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
It was about 75 here in the desert this week, so a few of us, all artists, decided to go for an adventure down the Colorado River a couple of miles south of here. The water was like glass and we did 10 miles. It was the first time out for me in a year. Needless to say, I was hurtin' the next day, but energized! It's so quiet out there with no cars, no phones, no noise except the pairs of mallard ducks who quack by looking for some grub. We did see a beautiful Gray Heron that flew over and a very large hawk. It was nice to get out and into the natural and check out the rocks, shadows, and the sprigs of green now coming up. Guess Spring's here! That's the only way we can tell in the desert! Happy Trails to you!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
As I watch the Olympics, my heart plummets when a skater, skier or snowboarder falls or fails at their attempts after a lifetime of diligent practice and study. All are in search of the 'perfect' time, balance, or trick. Many of us as artists search for the 'perfect' as well in each piece we create.
In reading the many art books, magazines, blogs and art sites, I find many who feel that skills in drawing correctly and precisely are the basis for great art, while others will prefer a quick sketch or no sketch at all. Some will say drawing skills are an unnecessary burden, while others, painstakingly, try to recreate with photographic accuracy. It made me think about my own philosophy and teaching art to others.
Whatever moves you to create a piece is the important thing, so go for it, but many who are new to drawing will sometimes try to copy exactly from a photograph or magazine pic for their drawings. They try their best to capture every detail with pencils and erasers in hand. This can be a good thing... to a point. For copying enjoyable things teaches us to really look at the elements of perspective, light and dark values, balance, and the design as a whole. It is a learning process in gaining skills to move forward. But some artists become dejected when their drawing falls short of their sense of perfection, or never stop copying. There are others feel who find drawing the shapes of objects more to their liking, and still others, who quick sketch just to get an idea or hint of what they have in mind in their sketchbook. Some are not concerned with any of it and just start from doodles to create a pleasing, overall design.
My feeling is that in order to draw, we must become Observers and Analyze what is around us daily. We rush through our days with little contemplation of the unique little things that surround us. If we'd just slow down and set aside an hour to observe and contemplate carefully, we can learn to set images in our "Mind's Eye" or to paper as a resource. If we Practice by drawing what we see, we can’t help but improve our skills and also veer off into new unexplored areas and really make our art our own.
A rare few of us will be "perfect" at something, but with discipline and daily practice, we can always improve on any skill. It's like anything else we've learned in life. Learning to walk, ride a bike, play an instrument, ice skating or snowboarding. None came easily without observation, discipline, drive and practice. Will our artwork be a masterpiece or a Gold Medal winner every time we put forth the the sweat and effort? Unfortunately not. You do it because you love doing it. But it's in the observing and habitual practice that our eyes open to what we've been missing. New creative ideas will come from this quiet contemplation of what surrounds us, and with these, new works.
There is no need to strive for the 'perfect' because each of us are individuals with our own unique sense of 'Seeing' the world. This, in turn, creates our unique style. It's what makes you and your art Individual amidst the many. "Seeing" is the key first step!
"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." (Edgar Degas)
Quotes to ponder~
"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us." (John Dryden)
"When you work you learn something about what you are doing and you develop habits and procedures out of what you're doing." (Jasper Johns)
What is a 'daily' art habit of yours you can share?
Friday, February 5, 2010
Today, I’m probably writing this for you, as well as me, because we all deal with inaction many times in our daily lives. We put things off procrastinating to the end. Hey, some of us really work well under this pressure, but some of us fall into a pattern and continue in a rut. I know I do at times. We’ll think our work as not good enough, not perfect enough, who would want to buy this? We reinforce this belief through our own ‘Self-Talk’ when we know darned well, that what we see as little errors in our work, no one else will ever notice. So either we get going and work through it, or we never get started.
If we work through the negative Self-Talk, everyday, telling our brain Positive things, then positive things will be achieved. The first thing we must do is get started and make it a daily habit. Find our couple of hours a day that is ours and no one else's. No phone calls, no visitors, no interruptions. It’s our time and share it with no one. Then pull your materials out and get going. Habits become part of our routine, so make it your daily routine. As we work, surely, Negative Self-Talk becomes a little demon to artists. It sits there on our shoulder, peering over at what we’re doing saying things like, “Oh, this is terrible; you just can’t do this, It just doesn’t look right; This won’t work, you’ll never be any good.” Now just look at all the negative words we push on ourselves without thinking about our own precious creative psyches... Terrible...Can’t... Doesn’t... Won’t... Never. IF YOU BELIEVE, YOU WILL ACHIEVE! Make this our motto to chase the demon away.
Take a step back and instead say, “ This is different; I CAN work around this and try that; this looks like it could work for that other project, how can I re-work this and create something a bit more out of the ordinary?” It’s all in the Positives and how we perceive our worlds! And Positive Self-Talk can also become a good habit!
Motivation is the push, and Positive Self-Talk is our action. We must Act on our indecisions, procrastination and self-doubts. This moves us through those little dark days. I try to create a new mind-set of asking myself, “Why am I putting this off? Why am I unhappy with this piece I’m working on?” When we can analyze the “Why”, and motivate ourselves to work through it, then talk to ourselves and our work Positively, then Positive things will happen.
So, if the pitfalls of indecision strike you daily, for weeks or months, don’t despair. Get busy by: 1. Setting a goal for the day by writing it down and sticking to it; 2. Make an appointment with yourself and your creative destiny daily; 3. Self-Talk the Positives and replace every word of negativity that the Demons on our shoulders tries to throw at you. We will find enjoyment, new ideas, and especially Courage. We’ll create the Positives during our appointments with our creative selves, and it will soon pass over to other areas in our lives where procrastination and indecision reign. Art and Positive Self-Esteem and Confidence in ourselves is hard work and it must be practiced daily. Believe and Achieve!
What techniques do you use to work through the doubts?
Monday, February 1, 2010
The positives in life will always outweigh the negatives in my Mind's Eye. I was born in the Berkshires of Connecticut and lived on a small, but working farm. We had little. No car, no television, no new toys to speak of, my mother made us all our clothes, and my father was an ace carpenter. We did have a large radio though, where we could sit and listen to stories. Kids today might find this a terribly negative life, or think I must be at least 100 years old! It was 1955. But it was the most positive, and I am so thankful for it! Like the morning rays of sun popping over the landscape, every day was a new day, filled with an adventure! You cannot miss what you never had! You learn to create, make your own playthings. You learn to appreciate the beauty in the smallest things. We need nothing but the positives in our minds to create a host of activities. My father taught me to write and draw before I was in Kindergarten. My mother taught me to read. It was a home with little, but a love of learning "by doing" and so much imagining going on, that I can't remember 'not learning' something new every day or creating my own outlets by using a pencil or torn papers to create who knows what.
Dawn coming up over the trees and hills, and Sunsets slipping away behind the mountains have intrigued me since my earliest childhood memories. When my small fingers could pick up my first Crayolas of yellow, red and orange, it was each Dawn, as I went to the barn to help collect eggs from the chickens with my sisters, that set my day! It's pastel pinks, light mauves, blues and creams across the sky always captured the "Seeing" part of my brain. I'd stand there memorizing the colors that I would set mentally to recapture on paper. I'd start meticulously with my father's carpenter pencil trying to create the cloud cover across the sun and sky. I would lightly blend and then vigorously crayon the bright sun, and never in the lines! Sunshine has no limits, and neither did I! The big whitewashed barn was my foreground to the East.
When the day was to come to it's end in summers, and Sunset blossomed in the West, the rest of the family would be busy with daily chores. I'd sit in the cool, green grass amidst the wild buttercups...getting properly comfortable and aligned... with paper on a piece of thin board and crayons. I was four years old, and knew then that I loved art! I'd set my eye to copy what I saw in color, the trees or the hills.
Still, to this day, too many years older, I still create a homage in my own way for the Sun, whether the Dawn or Dusk. It's absence can set our moods, and it's energy gives us life and food. It warms our bodies and our souls, and for some of us, it brings out our artistry. No longer with Crayolas, but with torn papers in my collage works, I try to recapture those childhood, Mind's Eye, memories. I'll always follow the Sun!
What could you use, if suddenly, you had no materials to create with and no stores nearby?