Friday, November 30, 2007

Little People Can Do It Too.

Scale is an important thing in art- Jasper Johns' flags would be an entirely different thing if they weren't so big. He created this mixed media on a large scale, and the size is really important to it; by engulfing your field of vision, the art work absorbs you while you look at it.

On the other hand, tiny things are easy to miss, especially when they are in unexpected places. But these little people are gems! My favorite is "NO" for the entry February 14th. The scale makes it incredibly poignant. And then it draws you in to some kind of narrative.

All of the works by slinkachu are incredibly interesting, and their size makes them much more interesting. These wouldn't be so interesting if they were large; I think that would be alienating for the viewer.

The role that size plays in artwork is important to thing about, especially because many painters create small studies as 'practice' for larger works. Something that might be a brilliant piece of work on a 4x6 photograph could be as exciting as waiting for your bus on a large scale. And think of people- big people are perceived as more intimidating than small ones; which is why bouncers are usually not short young boys.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Random Links

So I've been using Stumble Upon, that link generator that will supposedly give random links that you will like.

It's true! I love it.

So, some of the things I've stumbled upon.


To continue the previous thought process of great minds thinking alike, where I was comparing artists and criminals, we now have a well executed site comparing computer programmers and murderers.


And the Met Museum's Timeline of Art History which is great if you're looking for specific information, or an art history student, but not so good if you're just looking for some random art-related reading.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

To find beautiful....

One of the things i love about being an artist is the way I see things. This is especially apparent shortly after a good solid painting session, or a gallery visit, or a good conversation about such things. I am not an observant person; I always wonder how missing persons ads are able to state : "Last Seen Wearing a Red Sweater, blue jeans, and a backpack." You remember that? I certainly don't.

But I notice these things and I find them beautiful.

the spiderweb I observe every time I walk past it (about sixteen times a week) and the way that it changes.

the way that the horizontal shirt-stripes fold around the body of the tall narrow man.

the smoke from the abandoned cigarette wasting away in the wet grass scudding across the blades and contrasting with the dark line of evergreens at the other end of the soccer field.

the drippings of acrylic paint and water when laying down paint that will cover it up.

when you lay down on on the grassy roof over the tunnel of the road, leaning your neck out over the edge, and feel the rush of air in your face created by semi-trucks in the middle of the night.

the unfinished edges of green silky moss on skinny fir trees.

a black squirrel on the patio, poking through the wet rotting leaves.

the dark imprints, dirty silhouettes, left by those rotted leaves on the sidewalk when they're washed away.

the way that my glasses make city lights twinkle

the way that the red lights up the underbelly of the bridge and the difference between that glow and the vibrant blue in the sky.

Art Generators

Jackson Polluck scribble generator. You can just move your mouse around and create a mess.

The Scribbler is a fun game- you put in a simple line drawing and it makes it awesome. These two drawings are from the Scribbler.

How about this? Ultimate Flash Face. Like a composite drawing......

Is there any value to these beyond amusement? probably not....

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Creativity Links

Links that will encourage you to be creative, whatever that entails:

A Dress A Day. Erin advocates wearing what makes you happy and is appropriate. For her, this is a dress in interesting prints.

Money and Music through Blogging Away Debt. Tricia contemplates dreams and paychecks.

Neither of these are related to "art" exactly- but individuality, financial concerns, and dreams are oh SO applicable to me, as an artist. And as a lady who wore a skirt she made herself to the opera.

And this one? Well, I don't love cooking, but this is some beautiful inspiration.
101 Cookbooks Recipe journal. I probably won't make anything off of it myself; I eat things with no prep time.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Intuition of Making

This red and black duo, dressed in red and blue, practically, makes these billowing garments:

and they give the way of thinking that produces such frivolous unsculptured garments at
Julien and Sophie's School of pattern cutting, password, Bananamilkshake. Fashion Incubator gives a place to start to investigate this diaphanous way of making clothing.

what I love most about this way of making clothing is that it isn't a pattern, it isn't a set of rules that you must follow one two three like a paint-by-number, in order to have excellent results.

I feel that art should be a series of questions asked about the creation process, not a series of steps. While following step by step instructions to sew, or to paint, can be instrumental in the learning process, the true joy can be found in this more intuitive method. You know how and why it works, which you can then apply to your practice without consulting some third party.

Questions I ask myself when drawing or painting:
Is the composition balanced?
Is it visually interesting, making my eye travel throughout the whole work?
Is there a whitest white and a blackest black- a complete range of values, tones, and shades?
Am I telling a story? What's happening.
How does this feel to me?
Am I using variety?
How do the colours interact with each other?

Questions that Julien and Sophie might be asking:
Do you have enough fabric to fit around the model?
Is the fabric interesting?
Should there be a skirt waistband or a top piece included?
How are we going to twist and fold the fabric?
Do you have some visually interesting draping happening?
What side would look best as the front? the back?

What questions do you ask yourself, say, about writing? about making a business plan? about calling in sick to work:

Does this excuse sound plausible?
Will they believe I'm sick?
Will the sound of the sewing machine make my headache worse?
Can I afford to miss a day?
Can I still paint or sew while I'm hacking up phlegm?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Artists and Criminals: Great Minds Think Alike

To be interesting, sometimes the artist is the bad guy....
Do you think that something is permissible simply because it makes an artistic statement?
Do you think that crime is always wrong?
Do you think there are gray areas? Perhaps located in an unused section of a Rhode Island shopping Mall?

Is it only wrong if you do it, but if you plan it out and don't execute it, then it's okay? Like Janice Kerbel's Bank Job?
What if it's on public property?

This kind of art will make you think. It's uncomfortable, maybe, and antisocial, but it does play its own role in society, I think. So does Bob Kerr.

Producing Creativity

Some people say they are not creative. Some people say they can't orgasm. I say, these people have not had enough practice. Maybe you will never be Michelangelo, maybe you will not be in a porn movie, but I think you've got a little bit of juice in you, you just need to get it flowing.

So, since I don't give advice for being reproductive, to help you with those creative juices:

Don't worry about your results. Think 'happy accident.'
Use cheap materials. Don't be precious about waste.
Don't overthink it.
You're brainstorming. Doing, impulses. If you find something you like, then you can refine it. But you don't need to be a photo realist to be creative. You know all that abstract art people 'don't get' because a 'kindergartener could do that'? Tal R. Why don't you do some of that? (yes, there's more to it than that, but start there)
Get your hands dirty. Make cookies. Cookies with M & Ms, and analogous colours.
Use colours that make you happy. Why do these colours make you happy? What about sad colours?
You're not going to be famous, you're going to be satisfied. You accomplished something and now you can see it.

I printed some photographs today in the darkroom, and that feeling of accomplishment is magical.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Student-Teacher Relationships and Mistakes

One of the things I like most about teaching art classes to kids between ages five and thirteen is that their mistakes are so obvious to me.

One girl's fence got bigger as it went farther away from view. She knew that the parallels of the fence were at an angle, but she couldn't wrap her mind around that angle.

I had the same problem wrapping my mind around that angle convergance problem when I recently did a painting involving four or five staircases. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't figure out what. I was trying to give you two horizon lines!

If you don't know what these two mistakes are at all, here's a quick tutorial: in One-Point Perspective.

Then there was the boy who was mistaking lots of short, tiny brushstrokes for details.

And there's me, so obsessed with getting the lines right I've been forgetting to be picky about getting the colour exactly right.

Variety is the spice of Life. If you think that's a lame cliche, then don't use variety in your paintings, but follow the example of Manzoni and his 'Achromes' . Manzoni.
But it would be better if you looked him up in a library; I'm not entirely happy with what the internet is explaining.
We all make mistakes, it's just easier to see the ones you've moved past, which is why I teach little kids art but am still at ECIAD art school. I could be cheesy and say I learn more from my students than they do, but what I'm going to say is that I think I get more giggles out of it than they do.

Like the girl that, when asked to pick a relaxing colour, chose florescent pink.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Illustration vs. Fine Art Painting

The difference between illustration you would find on a book cover (not by an amateur) and between an oil on canvas painting you would more likely encounter in a gallery?

The illustration is secondary to the content, which is the book's text, whereas with fine art, the concept and content is complete to the work, and any text (like an artist's statement) is secondary.

But then again, fine art can also cross that line. Like, using the Mona Lisa for the cover of the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The pictures here are links to the Chronicles of Narnia books and Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth, with just enough information to tell you why I've chosen them here.

Victor Hugo's Artwork

Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out in 1996 and I was in fifth grade. I wanted to see the movie but it was easier to buy the book at the Book Fair. I've always liked reading more than watching movies, especially since my reading level has always been higher than my social skills. I thought Esmeralda was pretty and I liked her clothes.

Classics don't sell so well in elementary schools, I suppose. The book was only five dollars; the librarian scolded me for handing her a folded bill, because other bills might be folded inside it. "Always unfold your bills," she said, and I silently thought it was stupid since I knew I didn't have more than five dollars anyways.

So I took the book home, and read the first fifteen pages. This was a book way beyond my comprehension. I don't know what I was expecting; I had never encountered a book I couldn't handle, before.

Then in maybe grade eight? nine? the school drama team performed Les Miserables. I enjoyed it but didn't have a good idea of what was going on, so I slept over at my friend's house and we watched the movie. This made a little more sense but I wasn't inclined to read more.

Most people know of Victor Hugo's writing, but even if you stumbled through it like I did, you might not know he is, also, visually creative. I didn't, until recently. Victor Hugo just keeps surprising me! In that way, he's very inspiring. I would like to try some of his techniques, described here

He uses lace and ink to make beautiful decorative elements, not unlike Beatriz Milhazes, who I was talking about a few days ago.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Self-mutilation & Marina Abramovic

Marina Abramovic cuts herself in the shape of a Star of David, and lays on blocks of ice as her stomach bleeds.
The Performance agenda
If you were watching this performance art, would you stand up and say, 'Stop!' and rush towards the naked bleeding woman on the cross of ice to end this S&M flavoured performance?

Maybe you'd think someone else would stop it, the same way someone else would save Kitty Genovese.

Or maybe you'd say, "She's brilliant! I'm so impressed! Is there any way I can purchase documentation of this?"

Maybe you'd check your watch, and hope this part wouldn't take the full half-hour.

How do you feel about blood, about pain, about religion?

Or what brought you to see it in the first place?

Maybe she's your friend, and you're trying to support her artistic practice. Maybe you're the owner of the space and are excited about the new things going on, or maybe you're a member of the press she's invited out, maybe your partner took you out for dinner and some drama, maybe you got bored and fell asleep, maybe you knew there would be a beautiful naked woman bleeding and that was what sold your ticket. What does it say to you, and how does where you're coming from affect what you see, and how you react?

Marla Carlson comments on that, here

Friday, November 9, 2007

Decoration And The White Cube

Beatriz Milhazes is an artist who uses decorative elements and bright colours to create pretty compositions with a variety of surfaces. Her motifs are derived from natural elements and from her homeland- she's from South America. She usually paints her patterns- dotted circles, paisley motifs, expanding rectangles- onto plastic and then transfers this to her surface. This working process shows in the completed work. Her work has been commissioned for the Tate Modern restaurant.

Another artist whose work is in the Tate Modern is Doris Salcedo, (2007), whose work Shibboleth (2007) 167-metre-long crack in the main hall. It represents the rift between an immigrant's experience and the dominant culture. Doris Salcedo's work has a political bent, drawing attention to the negative spaces of human experience.

So, two artists in the Tate Modern- one in the cafeteria, another in the main hall. Wouldn't this seem to be making one a more 'serious' artist than the other? After all, Milhaze's work is decoration and verve, and Salcedo's creates visuals for emptiness and tragedy. But they are both very talented and obvious professionals. As an artist, I'd rather have my work in the 'real' part of the gallery, but then again, I'd be happy to have ANYTHING in a gallery, nevermind the Tate, which is a very important gallery indeed. What does place say about the work anyways- after all, it's the same work wherever you put it. Or is it?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lovely Winter Deaths

Martin and Monoz are a couple who create kitschy snowglobes of beautiful and disturbing landscapes peopled with the suicidal and the ghastly. Then they photograph the microcosms.

This article from Art News describes the process and the artists' life, while their website has a photo gallery which will give you delicate nightmares.

I saw these images in my photography class, in a slideshow, so the horrific splendour of my worst nightmare was about three feet tall on the white wall. But there's something to the small scale of these figurines that makes them even more fascinating. I have to admit I giggled a little bit; there's something timeless and childlike to the darkness.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Andrew Brandou

Andrew Brandou

Subject matter is more important to me than style. Of course I am working on my own style, trying to learn technique and ways of thinking about paint-handling, but that is a means to an end. The end, being subject matter. I have the feeling subject matter will not make you a great painter, as many famous avant-garde artists of the modern and post-modern periods are using 'nothing' as the subject matter. Robert Ryman is a perfect example of this. However, what really attracts me to the idea of painting is creating a visual world in colour that doesn't parallel the real world but extrapolates it. Check this out:

Andrew Brandou, cult paintings done as a 'children's book illustration'

and on a lighter note,

Homestar runner "altered" children's book illustrations