Spring seems to always be a bussle of activity. Like autumn, it's a season of transitions. There are birthdays, graduations, things to wind up and things to start. Somewhere in all this, life has to continue too. Thanks to some schedule changes at work that are common this time of year, I ended up with a couple days I was able to devote entirely to the studio. If only it was always this way! I guess one good thing about working other jobs is that it makes me appreciate these studio days all the more! Here's a sneak peek at one of the pieces I've been working on:
"Beauty created by God is nature. Beauty created by man is art." -Immanuel Kant, 1790 A strong aspect of my of my work is "finding beautiful." This discovery process has become a driving force of my art making. I am once again rearranging studio spaces, and have been reorganizing my art. Much of it was from my undergrad days, and it's been fun to revisit some of these oldies. I looked for beauty in landscapes, beauty in people, in portraiture, in faces. Looking at my early paintings in particular, I can see happiness in my brush strokes. One my instructors once told me that. He said he could tell from my paintings that I was happy. At the time, I didn't know what he meant. I looked at my paintings and saw my frustration with an ellipse, my struggles with perspective, my uneasy attempts at a natural sense of space. I see it now though. I see the brushstrokes as works of joy.
I search for the beautiful has continued. I look for beauty that is beyond a visual aesthetic, more than what lies on the surface. I use the visual aesthetic as a means to represent powerful feelings of passion and wonder and other unnamed emotions. These feelings and desires are part of what makes us alive. And life is a beautiful thing.
Thanks to te encouragement of several people around me, I finally got an Etsy shop open. Etsy is a great website to find unique, handmade and vintage items. I'm planning to carry small work editions and creative cell phone cases on it.
In other news, I have decided to continue my education with a Masters degree. I am excited to do this. I think it's important to not get stuck. Keep moving forward. Make more art. I remember thinking as a child that life would get easier as I got older. Maybe it will, but it hasn't yet. There are so many decisions to make with long term effects on my future. I must simply remind myself that most of these options. The only way to loose is to do nothing.
"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one." Charles Horton Cooley
This weekend's openings were great! It's so satisfying to all the hard work pay off and to have a fun time at an opening. It was definitely on the cold side, weather wise, but luckily all the galleries had the heat on! Here are some pictures from the events:
"Love, Lust and Desire," at McGowan. You may be able to spot my piece--upper right!
My work at the Gallery at 100 Market St, in Portsmouth
Also, a fun fact: While at McGowan Fine Art Gallery, I met another fellow artist named Kiera! For us, it was truly a once in a lifetime event. She has some nice photography work in the show and also on her website.
This is an image by Greg Constantine. It kind of summarizes my current thoughts. I recently sold several small pieces and it made me start thinking about how to make work that sells better. That thought is like poison to me. My day job right now is taking family pictures, and I think about how much different that is from my art work. The average person sees photography as all the same, and while the tools are the same, the intention is not. It's like a baker and a chef. One makes entres and the other desserts, but both use an oven. Family portraits typically sell not because they are original ideas or compositions, but because the people are meaningful to the purchaser. A stranger looking at a family picture will mostly likely not value it like the family does. In my experience the average family is in fact not looking for something original at all. A litte different, perhaps, but if you stray too far from the traditional portrait, they will start to inform you that you are doing it "wrong." Everyone knows what a family portrait is "suppose to look like" and even those who claim to want creativity seem to hold this idea quite firmly in their minds.
It's interesting how taking these more commercial images has given me deeper insight into what art is to me. I think of Renaissance artists, and how each one has a painting of the Madonna and Child, and famous religious scenes. Renaissancearts were commercial artists by today's standard. Most, if not all of their work was commission based. The concept was more or less given to them and they were hired on technical skill more than anything. Middle ages even more so. Art reflects the value of its society, and in medieval times, patrons were not interested in original ideas. Images of the saints were considered to hold spiritual value, and the more exactly replicated it was, the better.
The modern artist is now expected to have more original ideas and it is the concept that makes the art. A large reason for this is the invention of photograph. An exact image can be easily captured so exact replication, while still valued on a commercial level, is not so highly esteemed in the art world. White canvases and childish mark-making are clear examples of this. It is not so much of the "how" as it is the "why." As photography becomes more and more accessible with each cell phone purchased, this divide becomes stronger.
Where does my work fit in this jumbled mess? My work is "pretty" in many ways and lends its self to more decorative applications. I make each image with meaning and intent though, not simply aesthetics. Everyone has an opinion. Make more ocean pictures, everyone buys ocean pictures. Pictures of sea shells, people love those in the bathroom. Photograph weddings, that's where the money is. Paint people's pets, they love their pets. Follow the money. This advice has a certain logic to it. I think of my goal, to be self sustained on my art. Is that not every artist's dream? But at what cost? I want to say that as long as I am making art, the end justifies the means. What happens when the money runs out though? When people don't have the extra dollar for the sea shell picture and the sell-out's funds run out? Is it a compromise or is it smart? I don't comprise. I never went to art school with the idea that I would get rich quick. Yet people will justify the most heinous crimes if it's for provision. There must be a balance, between making art to sustain the soul and making art that pays the bill. Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor, yet painted the Sistine Chapel. He had to make a living too. Perhaps some of the most wonderful moments in that masterpiece are the painted statues, so real in their appearance, they seems to be carved from the fresco. He kept integrity to his work even in work that wasn't his first choice. He is remembered for it. And I bet Greg Constantine's piece is above someone's couch right now.
Art is war. I'm pretty sure any artist could tell you that. The career path of an artist is rarely clearly marked, and often, we must forge our own. It's a balancing act of the day job, responsibilities, commitments, and personal health. I find that I become most stressed when I am unable to determine what the priority is. Everything can seem equally important, but everything cannot always be done. My work at Gallery 6 looks good. It's a creative space, and I enjoyed seeing the display. The show was well selected, with a nice variety and consistency.
The show was titled Discovering Beauty, and it provoked me to think about the idea of beauty more thoroughly. It has always been an important aspect of my work and I appreciated the opportunity to farther explore the topic. I focused on these ideas in relevance to the work on display:
Explorations of Time and Space
In a single moment, we register images, smells, sounds and words, and link it to our past, present and future. Reality is layered. Beauty exist in the overlap. The world is seen through many eyes, and thousands of realities exist in a single space. My work expresses the layers of reality, and the duality of perception and the truth. It is a journey through these layers, and exploration of what is seen and what is felt. Photographs capture an instant, and layers of photographs read as a film strip, showing how time passes. Painting and distortion reflect on the deception of what we see. I embrace imperfections of my varying processes to emphasize the beauty of what we cannot predict.
All things perceived are temporal, only lasting a moment, vanishing with the light. The spirit endures beyond the dusk of the flesh. Repetition of sunsets reiterates the series of days. Life is made up of moments that cannot always be seen all at once. Our bodies are as a ticking clock, with an ever nearing end, yet the decay of mortality is beautiful. Birds and flight are represented in my work as a means to escape from the traps on routine. Our spirits can fly beyond what we can see. Discovering the freedom is the most beautiful part of life, allowing us to move between the layers.
Dropped of some new work this week to go into a show in Dover, NH. It was good to have a deadline to work towards! I do very well with deadlines. I need to sit down and self assign some to make sure I stay motivated. I know when I'm making art, it's what I am supposed to be doing. I just have to quiet myself to get to that place.
This is an image of a few different parts of different pieces. I am quite pleased with how they turned out! A couple of them I worked on all summer, trying to get them to the place where I was satisfied. My favorite part is making the transfer onto glass. That's the magical moment when everything comes together. The digital become physical, and my interaction with the work changes accordingly. It was a lot of frustration and work ot get this process worked out, but it has definitely been worth it.
I just shared this quote with a friend, and thought it might be worth repeating here. "Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.”
As far as art goes, these are some of the best words of advice. I have this printed out and posted in my studio space and in my bedroom so I see it daily. It's easy to over think an idea, to kill it before it's born and sit around and think of all sorts of reason to not make art. Ultimately, you just have to do it, if you want to or not. Do it. Don't stop. Do. Not. Stop.
Today, I briefly entertained the notion of what would happen if I stopped creating art. It terrified me. I stood in my studio space that I will soon have to vacate, and looked around. I have made so much this year. My current body of work has been a tremendous break through. And that's when I decided this could not be the end. I will continue. I wrote myself a promise, and I will keep it.
I also realized today what it really means to be a starving artist. I have been thinking about that phase a lot lately. World hunger is such a problem, yet somehow we have been bestowed the title. How have we artist, such a small portion of the population, earned such exclusive rights? I thought maybe it was our idealism, our integrity to our vision, our passion. I thought how we chose to be artists, not to make money, but because we had to create. Those are such grandiose ideas though. Tonight, I skipped dinner to finish a photo project. Then I delayed food farther to complete a transfer, that wasn't for anyone but myself. And I realized I am starving, not due to lack of resources, as I always assumed the phrase referred to, but because I wanted to create art more than I wanted to eat.
Whenever there is an opportunity to fear, there is an equal opportunity to hope. If I am willing to starve for art, then surely there is hope that this passion will carry me farther than art school. I've always known I did not choose the easiest path, nor will I ever choose the path of least resistance, but the resistance will make me stronger. No pain, no gain. I am not afraid.
I love to explore alternative photographic processes. It always seems like I have more ideas than time. I'm currently working on kind of a side body of work involving prints on tin foil. I made a contact sheet this week:
The images are made up of translucent recycled objects that I scanned as negatives, and then overlaid with some pin hole camera images. Yes, I'm trying to see how many processes I can really use in one body of work. I am such a process person. I get excited by new ways to create images.
I formally presented my work this morning to a group of artists. I got somewhat nervous right before hand, but once I started talking, everything fell into place. One of the artists commented that I am a very intellectual painter, and it was really nice to hear some positive feedback. I do put a lot of thought into my work. I always have to be careful that I do not over think things, which is why I try to work impulsively, quickly, and slightly rashly.