Saturday, May 29, 2010

Streams within streams

This is where we start-

Not at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle.

We are born into an existing world to parents who have expectations.

A history of which we are ignorant but must exist in.

We are all born into this pond and struggle to learn its ebbs and flows.

Currents pull us where we don’t understand.

To survive we must learn to chart them, they shape us, determine our values & goals.
[This is the first page of the Fiction Project, and the first idea sketch]

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Fiction Project

It is time to ship off my Fiction Project to Art House Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. I am rather anxious about it.

I know it is not such a big deal, but there is so much of me in it, that it feels a lot like walking naked in public, sending this off.

Of course, it has all the necessary evils of a book, the title page, dedication, prologue, and Introduction. All those pages we all skip over!

But here it is, such as it is.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Learning to Draw

It Takes As Long As It Takes

Draw yourself. How long did it take? Were you the first one done? It seems only natural to try and do things quickly, in a timely fashion. In most cases we like to be the first one done. It seems important. Speed matters. It means survival.

It is not uncommon to take five minutes or less to do a self-portrait. We did it. It is done, lets move on to the next thing. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Get on with it, get down to work.

Why? What is happening here?

When you do it quickly you use symbolism. The left, dominate side of the brain, the verbal side, quickly jots down the learned symbolism for “You”. This quick sketch is how that part of the brain “sees” you. It has identified and stored a “You”. It has stored this “image” these symbols to identify you. This is necessary for it to make sense of the idea of “you”. This ability to make sense quickly is necessary for us to understand speech and to read.

Speed is necessary for understanding. If we slow way down, sounding out each letter, the words do not make sense. They become random mouth sounds. Not words and not communication. For them to have meaning, they need to be “spoken” at speed, put together to become words and sentences not just individual sounds.

Drawing, however, has it own speed and needs. Too fast, and the “letters” of drawing do not make sense, and it is like playing a song at the wrong speed, it zips by and does not make sense. We need to slow down to understand it, to make the connection between what we envision and what we put down on paper.

In art, speed can be the enemy of success. It takes as long as it takes.

The left side of the brain drew this picture, and frankly it isn’t any good at it. It is good at making quick judgments, cataloging things and making them orderly. It is usually the dominant side and it is, frankly, a bit of a bully. It is the speed demon and the part that reads and writes but it is not creative. The left side of the brain never invented anything, not even speech. But it is very good at appropriating that which the right side invents and call it its own.

Now, look at your drawing of you. Look at the elements, the symbols for face, eye, nose and other parts of the face. These are recognizable symbols, but really only represent what a face any face is. These are a form of writing, and we want to draw.

So lets step back and rethink this. Let us let the right side of the brain in here, the analytical side, the inventive, creative side.

First lets look at the shape of the head. Is your head really shaped this way? Is any head? Or is it the symbol for head? How is a real head shaped, or more importantly, how is your head shaped? Look at the elements of the face. Where are they placed? Where should they be placed? This kind of reasoning takes time and observation, something the left side of the brain does not think it has, and it will try to push the right side around and force its way on it.

So we must find ways to stop this.
Relaxation is very important to drawing well. To totally realign our thinking so we can draw.
It takes as long as it takes

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Working at art, or trying to anyways

It will come as no surprise that many artists, myself included, are struggling right now. Along with everyone else in this economic downturn artists are experiencing a, well shall we say, a bit of financial slowdown?

All right, lets just say that for all intents and purposes, a dead stop!

So what is any self-respecting artist who enjoys eating to do? Get a job. As a working, practicing artist, this is daunting, but necessary. But even in bad economic times, Temp work is usually there.

So for the next 6 weeks, I will be rising early (Ugh!) and heading out to bring home some bacon! Not being a morning person, this is painful for me.

But it does have it compensations. I get to enjoy the early morning light, something I usually only do if I have been up all night painting. (not an entirely unheard of.) I also get to enjoy the daily warming of the earth and the sparkle of morning dew. I am not sure that is not overrated.

I am enjoying that brisk cup of hot coffee, though, with the morning chill. And getting up early is good for me, or so other assure me.

It does, however, limit the time to be creative. I am still teaching my classes and mentoring my students, and working with the co-op. but there is little time for my own art. So for a while I am back to where I was when I had an active career. Stealing a hour here and there for drawing, or writing, but more than anything fighting the desire to simply crawl into bed.

Working can leach the creativity out of you. It leaves me feeling dull and less than human. Creative works make me feel alive and real, even after hours in the studio. While I immerge tired and drained, I find real satisfaction in what I am doing and who I am.

I will endure the job. Using my abilities to earn income frees me to be creative most of the time. I can paint what I want, draw what I want, and be creative to my satisfaction, not just to a patron. I feel less pressure to be commercial in my art. That is compensation for spending time in the “real world” earning that paycheck.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Artistic Struggle Part 2

I talk a big talk about every painting being important, and in its own way a success.
I do believe this. Even paintings that fail miserably, teach us something. Sometimes we learn more from the failure than from the successes. Without the failures, there would be no successes.

Well, one of my goals this year was to try different mediums. I have done so with definitely mixed results!

I have also tried to mix things up a bit and go for less than more, Fewer colors and fewer details.
That is also mixed success. I have written about these paintings and that has lead me think about what went right with them and what went wrong.

Struggling with these two, I think I have the “Rocks in the Stream” improved, and I have worked on the “Park Path”.

The “River Rocks” I am considering done as well as I am able to now. While it is not a complete, stand-alone painting, it was a learning experience, and in that sense, a successful painting.

As for the “Park Path”, that too will be put aside. I am not happy with it, but I do like the overall layout. I will consider this one completed as far as I am going to go with this particular painting. I will use this small painting as a "sketch" for a larger, more complete painting, incorporating what I have learned into a better painting.