6/20/11

How To Find 100 Artists

If you were determined to find 100 diverse and inspiring artists from around the world, how would you proceed?


Shea Hembrey, disappointed with the accessibility of modern art, recently invented 100 artists from around the world, creating their names, bios, interests, and art.  If you haven't seen his TED video yet, it's inspirational and highly entertaining.  


We don't know what we can accomplish till we dream it and then set about it. Inspired by Hembrey, and with the idea of 100 being so much more accessible than the 10000 repetitions required to become a master, I'm beginning a much less ambitious 3D exploratory paper project. 
When I get to 100, I should be one hundredth of the way to mastery, whatever that might look like. We'll wait to see how it unfolds, where it may lead, and whether it's worth revealing or proceeding with.    

6/16/11

Use Up, Clean Up, & Let Go

I know.  I said I'm blogged down, and here I am again.  That's because I'm stalling.  

I'm supposed to be cleaning for a houseful of family coming soon, and instead stuck and side-tracked on the heap that triples as my art studio, office, and dining room.
Hating to waste and ever mindful of the environment, it's hard to discard what I can envision making something out of someday.  So, when I found this (yes, they're recycled post-it notes and paper holes from punching pages for 3-ring binders)
 and the thought arose "Just throw them out," it was balanced with the counter-thought "Hmmm, I was going to make something out of these."  I didn't stop to add the third better thought that comes now, which is, "Why?"

Here's what happened next.  

Glue, 
 sprinkle,
leftovers.
Glue again,
 sprinkle,
leftovers still.
More glue,
 sprinkle,
and finally I uncovered my zen breakfast bowl. 

I paused to wash it, noting the result was
one small step closer to the goal of a clean studio.
 A bit of this and that more, and I declared the piece of work done, 
(and myself hopefully done with pieces of work).
 How's that for abstract?    

Finally, in one fell swoop, I'd tested a new idea and media, 
used up some clutter, laughed at myself, 
and made a little progress on cleaning. 

A strong nudge is growing to start experimenting with 
"less is more" and to let go of a lot more stuff.  I think I'll 
head back from abstract towards concrete. 

How about you, what's the oddest thing you're hanging onto that you might 
be able to use for something someday? 

6/15/11

Abstract

Aelita Andre is a 4 year old professional painter whose work is currently being shown at the Agora Gallery in Manhattan.  At times she's described as a prodigy and compared to great abstract painters including Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock.  Other opinions about her pose the question, is her "claim to artistic fame legitimate?"  


What or who decides whether art is "legitimate" or if someone is a "real" artist? Couldn't anyone who enjoys the process of making art call themselves an artist and their work art? Or must the art meet particular criteria, be done by established artists, be shown at galleries, and command a high price? Collectors may buy art partly as status symbols, but hopefully we each buy and hang the art that speaks to us first, for whatever reason.  


Whether you're a fan of abstract or not, or if you believe a 4 year old with no training or legacy of work is a legitimate artist, Aelita's story and the marketing of her art are brilliant.  Seeing her work, one can't help wonder, "Could anyone do that?," "Why am I not a famous painter?," or "Why didn't I think to frame and ask for ridiculous amounts of money for my children's artwork?"
Inspired, I decided to try my hand at abstract painting, just to see what would happen. I've not much worked with acrylics or abstracts, but may have done a few abstract-ish things back in my hay day when I was 3 or 4. I set out with an open mind and no expectations, just to see what might happen.  


First I dug through the basement and uncovered some old acrylics, saved ages ago from a dumpster (no, I don't dumpster dive, they were on the way but not quite in it yet. Free paint is free paint). Next I found a canvas that I had picked up at a yard sale (a bargain at .50 cents, though it's marked $1). I chose my palette, 
and decided to use colors to match the pottery in my family room (just in case the painting comes out anything close to hangable), then gathered an assortment of brushes and tools that might come in handy. 
I considered setting up the video camera to capture the progress of my half dollar experiment, but decided it might invite ego, self-consciousness or otherwise interfere with the creative process. Instead, I took out a piece of cheesecake from the freezer as an incentive to get going, and to be sure to have something to look forward to when the painting was done.  


Next, I walked my puppy Pebbles, who could also be partly thanked for today's inspiration to try a new paint medium and form, since she had earlier eaten some of my black watercolors and traipsed them around the living room, leaving lovely random black streaks and paw prints around the room.  Hmmm, a pup who paints, maybe I should encourage that. What do you think, is it art? 
Things were set, I had stalled enough, and it was time. Voices began whispering to me.
Muses? I don't think so.  Perhaps there are Anti-Muses, as the messages went like this:
"Seriously?" 
"Why?"
"Instead shouldn't you be cleaning the house and making a grocery list for the 10 guests you're having this weekend?" 
"Do you really need to start another project?" and
"Should I decide and name what I'm painting before I begin or when it's done?"


Undecided on the last one, it felt best to begin with the cheesecake.  Mmmmm.  Oh, here's a picture of it a little more than half eaten.  
There's no time like the moment, so I decided to save the last few bites for later, rolled up my sleeves, and began. 


I wiped my mind clear, except for the little nudge suggesting the painting to be named  "Organic."  I quickly learned that acrylics are not watercolors, they need to be slathered on and worked fairly quickly, and the brushes are sometimes better off wiped clean with a towel between colors.  I watched the movement of the paints developing, and immersed myself in the process.  Every stroke and movement was as important or unimportant as the next, but led me and egged me on. As the paints blended, I decided against using the black I had intended, to prevent it all from turning muddy.  At one point, I wondered if I should stop, and decided to snap a photo before continuing.  
As the paint unfolded on the canvas, several times my Muse whispered, "You really should stop now." I was having too much fun, and played some more, trying a variety of brushes and tools, and even pushing the paint with my fingers here and there.  Suddenly I saw a big treelike form emerging, overpowering, and the paints carried on with a mind of their own, till I found myself painting a head on it.  Suddenly, it wasn't as abstract or geometric as I'd imagined, nor could I think of a good way to soften it or make it go away.  
Checking, Wikipedia confirmed:
"Total abstraction bears no trace of any reference to anything recognizable. In geometric abstraction, for instance, one is unlikely to find references to naturalistic entities. Figurative art and total abstraction are almost mutually exclusive. But figurative and representational (or realistic) art often contains partial abstraction."


Maybe turning it increases the abstraction or at least minimizes the figure's intrusion?
Well, abstract or not, does it matter and must art be labelled and picked apart? 


There's all kinds of art that isn't commercial or marketed, and some of it may be masterfully done and original.  This painting is no masterpiece, but is it art or isn't it?  It won't likely be compared to Van Gogh or anyone else, but I enjoyed painting it.  Who knows, with or without a price on it, if perhaps someone might resonate with it? 


Perhaps I'll do a paint over on this canvas.  Or perhaps I'll hang it in the family room just to see if anyone notices... but first, I'll finish that cheesecake.


Whatever we do, we can immerse ourselves in it and be present and engaged like a child. Anything done for it's own sake and with no concern for 
result, fame, or financial gain is the purest art.  




"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, 
but a lifetime to paint like a child." Pablo Picasso

6/14/11

Blogged Down

Lately almost everyone seems to have a website or a blog, at least one social network site, and several email accounts.  It's so easy to always have more to do.  In the last few months of blogging, I've found that the process is enjoyable but 
time consuming, and I'm sometimes feeling blogged down.   

Whenever we choose to do one thing, it's time away from 
everything else we might be doing. Time is our biggest asset in life 
and when we're not careful, it can slip away from us.  
All we really have is now, and it's up to each of us to spend it wisely. 
As we've collectively trended towards more digital and virtual technologies, we also tend to use and perhaps over-use computers, smart phones, and tablets.  With more and more choices, connectivity, and data available, we gather friends, apps and digital content in attempt to have more information faster and to stay virtually, endlessly and constantly in-the-know, amused, and connected.  If we're not careful, our online presences can command our time rather than serve us, pulling us emotionally and mentally away from presence wherever we physically are. 

I love the ease of online networking and the worlds it opens, but want to spend more time with friends, yoga, nature and art, so have decided to try throttling back with fewer "Inspiration For Creativity" posts.  At times there'll be longer posts, shorter posts, or no posts as I opt to spend more time in real space doing real things with real people, expanding clarity and presence in the art of living. 

Fun and learnings can be found in cyberspace, but ultimately the answers 
to life are within each of us, not in our electronic gizmo's or in imitating, conforming, 
or competing with what others are doing or saying online.  
Close encounters and experiences beat virtual ones.  

6/10/11

What Inspires You?




What inspires me are what connects us all, 
beauty, nature, the capabilities of the human body, 
the resiliency of the human spirit, 
and the playful possibilities of each moment. 


I often find inspiration from yoga, art, children, 
conversations with friends and strangers, reading books, 
being in the presence of excellence, 
strolling in the woods, 
shining in the sun, and swimming in the sea.



What impresses me are those of us who grow up through life's challenges without losing their inner magical child, and the amazing accomplishments of ordinary humans, being.


I'm grateful for the many friends and teachers who've been an inspiration through the years, and also for 
extraordinary folk whose lives and works touch and inspire many, 
ranging from Da Vinci, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa to Dr. Seuss (to name just a very few).


We can be inspired by anyone who shares their talent and insights, and by anything that 
stirs or stretches our hearts and minds. Whenever we authentically share our unique form of beauty, joy, love, talent, or truth, we may also inspire others.  


Here's someone with a lot to share, 11 year old Jackie Evancho singing Nessun Dorma: 



What or who inspires you the most? 

6/8/11

The Muse

Good ideas  can be well thought out or spontaneous and can come from anywhere.  

Many attribute a Muse as their source of inspiration.  
The Muse might be our subconscious, divine inspiration,
or someone who plays the role of a sounding board,
encourager, or instigator for our ideas.
The Muse can come to us at odd times or places- in bed, in the shower, while driving,
while alone or in a crowd, while doing something completely unrelated,
or while in the presence of nature, beauty, or a master. 

The Muse most often comes when effort ceases and
one stops trying or thinking and just plays,
doodles, daydreams, relaxes, or does nothing.  
Who or what plays the role of Muse for you, 
and when does she most often come to you?