Spring Cleaning?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Like many of you, I've been afflicted with the flu this holiday season, and I don't know what it is, but I always get the urge to start cleaning when I get sick. For some reason dirt and clutter just seem so much worse at those times.

So, I put off working on painting in the afternoon to clean house. I wish I had thought to take before and after pix, but the image above gives you a rough idea of the situation ;)

Happy Christmahanikwanzika

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Fra Angelico is one of my all-time favorite painters. His works exude a remarkable atmosphere, gentle, spacious, and occasionally with a mysterious flavor.

Christmas Special: Symbolism

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Symbolism has always played an important role in Christian and Renaissance paintings, so this week I present a fun fact regarding that phenomenon.

Did you know that the pelican has a profound meaning in Christian symbolism? It may seem counter-intuitive to use such an ungainly bird for anything of the sort, the pelican has often been used by Christians as a symbol of charity (love thy neighbor) because the bird will feed its own blood to its offspring if necessary. Now that's devotion to giving of thyself.

In this time when there is financial upheaval, starvation, and terrorism stalking the land, we could all take a lesson from the giving nature of the pelican and the keen observation of the natural world that led to its adoption as a symbol for the value of giving.

I hope we can all celebrate the act of giving no matter what form it takes or what religion you practice this holiday season.

(The above picture is a detail of Bosch's Adoration of the Magi.)


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I am busy creating lots of fodder for the recycle bin.

Are you the type that doesn't mind wasting reams of paper in the off chance that one day it might pay off, or are you the type that insists that every piece you set your hand to must become a finished piece of art?

I would say it's a question between type A and type B personalities, but it doesn't necessarily seem to work out the way IRL.

How to Fail as an Artist, Painterly Edition 1

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Painters, this one is for you!

It may have escaped your notice, but painting died a few decades ago.

'Why,' you ask. Well the reason is simple. Everything that can be done in painting has already been done. There's nothing new that can ever come out of painting. Again.

So how do we overcome this barrier as painters? Why, just take a page from still President G.W. Bush: redefine the word 'new.'

In this postmodern age we have now acquired the wisdom to know that words mean whatever we want them to mean, so I am calling on all painters forthwith to start a campaign to redefine the word 'new' to mean 'fish.'

A new tide will swell upon the art world leaving behind a mass of scaly, slimy, sexy new artwork that you just can't ignore (especially your nose). Easels will be abandoned as artists rejoin Mother Nature to create a new fusion of human vision and natural order.

The birds, snakes, and furry woodland creatures will join our cause. All those who oppose the new order will be pecked, and all paintings adhering to the out-dated world of traditional painting will be chewed to ribbons.

This is a rallying cry to all painters not yet ready to give up: 'We want a new NEW!'

Come, join me, my compatriots, as I storm the Empire State Building's observation deck this New Year's Eve with a kettle full of fish and an unseemly amount of vodka. There will be a good time to be had for all and a new definition of New shall be inaugurated!

Portrait Parity

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I like doing portraits every now and then and here's one of two cute little girls that I've been working on recently. I think it's just about done now.

As you can see, the faces are detailed, but the style becomes progressively sketchier as you leave the main area of focus. There are some strong angles present which lend energy and a shadow was added LR to activate the negative space.

Please join me again next week when I do believe there will be another installment of 'How To Fail As an Artist'!

What was I doing last week when I should have been blogging?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Last week when I should have been writing,
I was working on the above study for a painting
of Guanyin. I just love Song era sculptures of him.
(See right.) I still need to work out some details,
and I'm not sure but I will probably be using oil
paint for this project.

Obama wins!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America has elected it's first African-american president. This will surely usher in new excitement, and I present here a caracature I have done of the man himself.

You can see more about it here: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=16955665.

This is not an idealizing portrait, but a humanistic view of the man who just might change the face of our country.

This year might be the scariest halloween ever

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you didn't already have that little icy shiver down your back, you haven't been keeping up with this year's Presidential race. Politics is one thing, but now the Republicans are messing with Halloween.

Yes, that's right. This year an army of Sarah Palins will crawl out of the nearest graveyard on Oct. 31st. Stock up on supplies now, because you won't be able to go ten feet without bumping into a shambling, stiletto-heeled horror.

And who is responsible for this nightmare? Why none other than a secret cabal of Republican hedgewizards (the same ones responsible for hedgefunds) led by the VP you love to hate, Dick Cheney. They have timed their magic so that this rising army of Palins won't be noticed among the normal Halloween crowd, but they won't leave when the party's over.

The menacing plague of Palins will sweep across the country, smothering all opposition with wads of American flags. Eventually, the entire world will be taken over, and roving bands of Palins will patrol the streets passing out millions of pairs of rimless glasses and miniature bibles.

In order to keep the Palin-creatures supplied with books, all the world's trees will be cut down for paper and the world's beaches will be eroded to get enough sand for all the designer glasses. This will speed up global warming and soon the world as we know it will be gone.

And that my friends, is how the world is going to be destroyed. Happy Halloween ;)

How Spooky Is Your Artist?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Here is a Halloween story for all you art lovers out there:

A long time ago in China there was a great painter named Ku. He fell in love with a lovely young woman with dark hair as straight and fine as silk. Although Ku let her know the earnestness of his affection, the young woman would not listen.

As the months passed, the young woman began to fall ill and waste away. Many priests and physicians tried to cure the poor girl, but she continued to fade.

It was not until the girl began to put her affairs in order so that she could pass peacefully that she answered Ku's feelings. Thereafter Ku removed the thorn he had placed in a portrait he had made of the young beauty, and the girl made a miraculous recovery.

(The ink and color painting above is by Matsui Fuyuko.)

How to Fail as an Artist, Step Three

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You'll never get anywhere as an artist unless you become a household name.

To put it simply, the key to success is finding yourself on a t.v. show like the Venture Brothers. It's a true sign of success when a cartoon character picks up a hotel telephon to order a 'Damien Hirst' cleanup job after killing a group of assasins.

Think of the exposure. Think of the merchandising.

The Spirits are always with you [bwahaha]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Stacy Smith is one of those rare artists on Etsy with a nice, understated flair for the spooky and Halloweenish. Stacy lives near Buffalo, NY where there are plenty of opportunities for spookiness in the fall, and I suspect she knows just where to look.

In this particular piece, Stacy has made a digital photo collage that highlights her strong connection to spirits. There are two ghostly figures at either end of the tunnel as well as an orb. The tunnel has gad strong symbolic overtones since ancient times, going right back to cave dwellings. Often tunnels such as this are symbolic of the journey of life or parts of it such as the beginning (birth) or end (death.)

Currently, Stacy is finding new focus in her work after the death of her father who suffered from Alzheimer's. I am looking forward to seeing how her work changes and grows, and I wish her the best of luck.

Be sure to check out more of her photography on Etsy : http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5588418

One Last Breath of Summer

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

As summer winds down and fall colors begin to appear, we take this last chance to enjoy the lingering heat before winter sets in and there is a collective groan about the heating bill.

This mixed media collage by Jeannine Peregrine of jperegrine on Etsy captures the lassitude that comes with days spent out in the pervading warmth. The combination of warm blues and oranges couples with the scattered layout of elements to create a sense of floating. Just like on a very warm day when the heat seems to make us want to float, this compositions allows us to drift gently. The pastel textures prompt the memory of drawing with chalk on sun-baked sidewalks.

My only criticism for the piece is that the clipped paper word, 'secret,' is somewhat disruptive as placed. It would be better if it were not firmly centered in the sunflower which isolates it within and by contrast disrupts the overall tone of the piece.

Overall, this is a wonderful mixed media piece that gives us a warm remembrance of summer as we look forward to Fall.

Jeannine Peregrine is a Californian artist living near Suffolk, Virginia. Please visit her on Etsy to see more mixed-media magic: http://www.jperegrine.etsy.com

How to Fail as an Artist, Step Two

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

If you're going to be an artist, you must look and act the part. The first thing you need is a really wild hairdo.

It takes a lot to shock people nowadays, so you can't expect anyone to notice you if you don't have a really outstandingly wild do. It used to be that shaving your head or just failing to cut your hair would be enough to put you on the fringes of society right where an artist *should* be.

Here's a few classic examples:

As you can see from Warhol and Trump, wild hair is clearly a key to making it to the very top in any field.

So how can you find that magic formula that's just right for you? Well, you can't settle for a hairdo that some other famous person has already used. It has to be a true signature. These days, you'd better be prepared to go as far as having a metal spike installed on your scalp. You will need to either cut too much or not enough, so be sure to find out how you look with your scalp showing.
Make sure to aim for a look that says either barbarian/bum or post-apocalyptic cyberpunk. You just can't go wrong with one of those. Good luck with your new do and be sure to send me a picture once you've got it sussed!

Creative knitting makes a comeback

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I normally keep this blog pretty focused on 2D visual art, but Nicolle Glover's creative stitches caught my eye in her Etsy venture, KiKiBowns. The name KiKiBowns itself shows her strong connection to the source of her imagination and creativity: KiKi Bowns was the name she made up for herself as a child. Browsing through her needle creations, you can truly sense that child-like curiosity that doesn't admit to anything being impossible or out of bounds.
This clutch, Monster, is one of Nicolle's most striking designs so far. Inspired by Poe's raven, the dark silhouette strikes a perfect balance. And of course, I think Nicolle should indulge her goth side more often ;)

How to Fail as an Artist, Step One

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Welcome to a new series of articles that will be wedged in every now and then in between reviews and me tooting my own horn. This series details everything you need to know to fail as an artist.

First, as even the most gullible of babes knows, money makes the world go 'round. So only make art for money. Why waste you time beating your breast, scouring your soul, and plumbing the depths in search of greater truth? No one will pay to see something like that.

What you need is something that will bring in the dough. And you should never work on anything that won't bring it in.

One of the best ways to bring the money in is to create an uproar. Try going to your town or city's main square and painting the town's most beloved monument red. This always provokes a response. Not to long ago a pair of artists (wink, wink) put up some flashing signs with a cartoon character flashing the finger at passersby. They could not have had better luck when it was mistaken for a terrorist bomb. This is just the type of creative thinking you need to make your bank account full.

If you are of a more delicate disposition, might I suggest dogs. Puppies are even better, but dogs will do. Everyone has a soft spot for Fido. At the very least people love their own pets no matter how much they complain of the neighbors'. So start painting pet portraits. It's not nearly as likely to land you in jail and people just love them.

So remember, there are lots of ways you can put your art to work for you. Don't concern yourself with that new-age psychobabble about 'finding yourself.' Get out there and find some money!

One New Orleans artist that's still kicking

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Artist Frances Swigart is a New Orleans die hard and master printmaker. Working from her atelier in New Orleans, she produces many fascinating images that range from primitive to modern abstraction.
The above is a fascinating landscape that gives a real feel for the environment of Louisiana. Both modern and old-fashioned, the atmosphere achieved is remarkable.

The Fairytale Life

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Victoria Usova's artwork opens up a unique world that transports you directly to the best parts of Wonderland. Born in Ukraine and moving to the U.S. at the age of 16, Usovas art is full of imagery influenced by folk and fairytales.

Tea with Mice (above) is a light-hearted image of surprising depth. The two figures of Usova and her husband partake in the ritual of teatime at the table of Life. It is a time for companionship where bonds are strengthened and grievances aired. The green teapot is a symbol of their union, a gift between lovers, and the house hat the husband wears reiterates the symbolism of union. The mice symbolize life's little problems, invited here to join the ritual. It is a remarkable thing to invite problems to the table instead of rejecting them.

Usova's art is truly charming, and I invite you all to look through some more of it at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5376404

Tragic Revelation

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How many plans have been crushed by a careless remark? This new monotype print documents the tragic moment when the secret plan of the mysterious horned beetles fell to pieces.

The ants were surely laughing up their sleeves.

Hanging by a Thread

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nicole Margaretten has had many adventures in art and foreign countries, but it has also been a life touched by illness. The marks are not always visible, but her encounters will illness have made themselves known through her artwork.

This piece, Civilization I (Without Medication), was done in hospital and the pure white background recalls the clinical purity of the examination room. A strange city grows on the surface like a mold or, more likely, a colony of bacteria. In the foreground a diseased buffalo hangs uncertainly. The colony continues its growth without malice, and the bison does not seem to connect it's suffering with it.

Although they were drawn without reference, the buffalo is remarkably reminiscent of prehistoric bison such as the Two Bison fromthe cave at Le Tuc d'Audoubert, France. Like bulls, bison can be seen as symbolic of strength and courage, prowess on the field. Margaretten's bison, however, hangs suspended. Removed from its power base and subjected to forces beyond it's control. The heaviness of his hooves emphasize the absence of earth.

Despite the signs of decay, it has a certain solidity of perseverance. One has the impression that this bison will not be swallowed by the forces at work.

Margaretten is currently working on a series of paintings about microbes and a mixed media installation designed to immerse viewers with sound, image and colored lighting. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions including the Tufts University Art Gallery, the Boston Conservatory, Resonance FM, broadcasting from London, England, and the Fort Point Artist Community Gallery. December 2005 she exhibited the sculpture Recollecting Zeena at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston which allowed listeners to intimately hear testimonials regarding the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The above article title contains a link to Nicole's website, so take a look and enjoy.

Yet Another Random Act of Art

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drawing is an interesting medium. It is extremely versatile and gives glimpses into the inner workings of the mind. Small drawings are particularly precious because of how they pull you in close and create a sense of intimacy.

How do you get closer to art? Share your ideas and comments!

Repetition has it's charms

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cecile Klay, known on Etsy as DreamCreateRepeat, is not your average psychic.
Intuitive, empathic, and just plain whimsical, Cecile's collage art can often seem like portable fragments of vision.
This particular piece, "Safe Travels" (collage on cigar box), stems from a conjunction enjoyment and aspiration. Enjoyment, because Cecile loves to travel (she just got back from a three-week retreat). And aspiration, because this image is a form of talisman which shares that love of travel and the desire to protect the well being of travellers.
The symmetrical composition and use of harmonic blues and yellows give this collage a sense of rock solid balance even on water. The upraised hand of protection, or Hamsa, adds a decorative yet reassuring focus for the piece.
Touch is a very important element in this working method. In order to create such compositions, Cecile focuses on finding images and objects that resonate with each other.
See more of DreamCreateRepeat at http://dreamcreaterepeat.etsy.com/.

Analiese's World

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

After answering a call for artwork on Etsy, I was please to meet and learn more about Analiese, creator of polymer clay magic. When I asked her to tell me a little more about herself for this article, she did such a great job writing that I decided to use her own words unedited.

Here is Analiese in her own words:

My name is Rachel - middle name is Analiese - which is my design name. I was born way out on the west coast in La Jolla, but moved to the east coast when I was 3 years old. I grew up in Barrington, RI and my parents still live there - so I go back and visit often. Currently, I live in Milford, CT with my husband, 7 year old son and 2 cats. We are walking distance to the beach - which is a bonus. I worked for a large intimate apparel company for 13 years and lost my job due to outsourcing. However, I was actually thrilled since I had already started to go back to school to receive my Master's in Education and become certified in Elementary Ed.

During this time is when I started to play around with beads. I was not new to making jewelry - but I had not done it in years - so it took a while for me to get the hang of it again. For some reason - I wanted to experiment with Polymer clay just to see what it was like. Well - I became addicted to it and discovered how to transfer images onto clay completely by accident. It is not a new art form but my technique is quite different than anything else out there which I am very proud of - since I have been successful in selling my tutorial.

I have been looking for a full time teaching job for 3 years now - it is very competitive here to find a job. So, I substitute teach and also teach an adult Ed GED class 2 days a week. This gives me the flexibility to run my business and come up with new ideas - which I am always trying to do.

I love experimenting and my newest addition is my glass tile pendants which are just as fun to make :) I don't sell much of my finished jewelry on Etsy since it is so competitive, but I do sell at local craft fairs.

I try to do about 6 craft shows a year and sell everything from my handmade pendants to ceiling fan pulls and my beaded jewelry. I enjoy running my business and hope to continue working on it even if I do get a full time teaching job.

I had started my Etsy Artists Pendant line a long time ago and bring it back now and then with new artists - since there are so many wonderful artists on Etsy.

You never know what you mind find in my shop :)

You can find Analiese on Etsy at http://analiese.etsy.com/ and her pendants with my own images can bee seen at http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=35723&section_id=5322804. Give her a visit, I can guarantee you'll like what you see.

Share and Share Alike

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hi, everyone, and thanks for taking the time to visit. I'd like to announce that I have begun collaborating with the wonderful shop, Analiese (http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=13023053). Some of my artwork will be featured there as pendants.
Next week, I will be doing an article about the artisan behind the shop, Rachel Yakubik.

Bubbles contain....

Monday, June 30, 2008

Do you remember the perspective of your child self? Sure, you were smaller back then, but what about your mental perspective?

This image of bubble blowing from a little one's perspective is meant not to invoke nostalgia, but to remind you of that other perspective. Let that perspective be refreshed and look on the world with new eyes once again.

(I did two versions of this monotype, so let me hear your comments on which one you think is better!)

Ha-ray, li'l Bunny!

Monday, June 23, 2008

When Anna "Moonstr" DuBois came to America from the Phillipines at just 3 months old, she brought a big ol' bag of unique along with her. She is also more faithful to her inner child that any other person I have ever known. (At age 5 she made the decision to hold onto that inner child, and I doubt she has even let go of it to get bathroom privacy ;)

Moonstr does a lot of watercolors and makes a lot of different things, but today we're looking at one of her art dolls, Ha Ray Lil Bunny. Newer art forms like installations and art dolls let artists outside of the mainstream (i.e. not straight white men) express themselves in ways untainted untainted by dogma and history.

To help you get to know Moonstr better, here's some of what she had to say:

"how i got started in art...being left alone alot as a kidand having tons of dot matrix paperto draw on cause of my dad's computer.my sewing is chaotic i tend to jumpand not know what im doing.

"what part of my personality it reflects.the part of me that wants to fly a kiteand drink on the beach and have a bond fire.sewing makes me that happy.taking pictures of my dolls outside is fun.hmm for abit i was saying that the dollsare my inner demons poping out of my imagination."

Creative Anachronism Takes on a Wonderful New Meaning

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cara Buchalter didn't have to be an artist, but when you look at her quirky art-deco-inspired illustrations, can you really blame her? It also didn't hurt that the namesake for her etsy storefront, her great-aunt Octavine, was an opera singer, and that her father is an artist.

Buchalter prides herself on living with one foot in the 19th century, and her work reflects a refined Art Deco sensibility. While maintaining that sensibility, Cara's work feature's a more modern design structure which is overall purer than the more densely designed patterns and illustrations of the Art Nouveau/Deco movements. This refreshes the style and makes it altogether more accessible for those of use who are sadly trapped in this post-industrial era.

The work featured above, Devastation, was based on a photo by legendary photographer Irving Penn of his wife. While exploring Mrs. Penn's almost unearthly beauty and painting through the lens of her own creativity, Buchalter is also exploring the relationship between artist/viewer/subject. Not only her own relationship, but also Penn's relationship, to the subject come into question. The lovely woman depicted is thus transformed into a muse for the generations and a mysterious beauty for the viewer to absorb.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our time together today. Tune in next week for a feature of indie artist, Moonstr.

The Worries of Ghosts

Monday, June 9, 2008

This week I present for your consumption a new monotype I made recently.

It cannot have escaped anyone's attention that the summer Olympics will start soon, and this image is printed on newsprint featuring a story relating to protests against China in the runup to the games. A pair of ghostly hands clasp uncertainly and a red star leaves evidence of it's passage. What will China choose to become?

A little bit of mystery

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mary Lundberg is an artist hailing from Des Moins, IA. She works in a surrealist manner which may or may not be directly influenced by her previous experience in the world of corporate america.
After getting to know more about Mary, I have decided that it is not in the spirit of here work to offer analysis and easy solutions. In her words, "it is because we feel a need to understand everything that I feel the need to not explain anything." So I present you with the above work, unadorned with words.
Next week we'll have either another indie artist or a new piece of art from yours truly.

So what is a monotype, anyway?

Monday, May 26, 2008

I know the term 'monotype' confuses an awful lot of people...so what is it?

To be a bit blunt, monotype are a sort of primitive print. The artist paints his or her design directly onto a non-porous surface such as glass and then lifts the design off with some paper. (See the image on the below.)Generally, this means you can get only a few copies from one painting, so monotype editions are extremely limited.

It can be very difficult to paint detailed images this way, so monotypes work best for abstract or impressionistic imagery. The effect can even be like that of a woodblock print and the imperfections that arise from the process are part of the medium's charm.

I hope this answers some of your questions about monotypes, and we'll deal with the subject more in the future.

Broken Brown Bottles

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Well, there was a bit of drama with my isp this week so I couldn't post this article at my normal time, but I decided this would be a good opportunity to change my usual posting day to Sundays.

Today we will be looking at a piece called Broken Brown Bottles by Shera Simon (aka belltower on Etsy.)

Simon is the daughter of an artist and a pastor. As an African-American woman who grew up in the south and now lives in Philadelphia, cultural differences between states, regions, and continents have been a major influence on her art.

Broken Brown Bottles is a mixed media collage using paper, broken bottles and other found materials to express the ambivalent emotions that many African Americans are faced with when thinking of Africa. The continent of Africa is reconstructed from maps of American States, symbolically reforming the U.S. into something like that fabled, ancestral home that many children of immigrants long for, in whatever form. The bits of broken brown beer bottles invoke the wound of separation and sometime resentment that has come to exist between American blacks and native Africans. These wounds are often inexplicable, irreversible, and inexpressible.

Using the form of a map in itself highlights the artificial connections and boundaries that humans spend their lives creating and generations maintaining. Simon has managed to capture and express so much human nature without presenting a single human figure. I look forward to seeing more of this artist :)

Tune in next week to learn more about another indie artist!

Tiffany Teske Through the Looking Glass

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TIffany Teske's love affair with photography started early. By age 7 she was already taking her own photos, and in high school she haunted her schools darkrooms. Though she has taken a few side trips away from photography, Teske has grown into her style almost to the point of creating her own world in her photos.
Ferntebrae (above) shows the overlapping worlds of Man and Nature in an almost dreamlike moment of unexpected convergence. Time slows down to a gentle ripple and slow realization dawns. How alike we are. How connected.
Yet the differences too remain and are acknowledged, not rejected.
This dreamlike atmosphere is achieved through Teske's skill and technique. Teske's method involves removing the protective layer from a polaroid photo and printing it onto a new surface. This brings out a sort of mistiness and allows some migration of the colors for interesting effects. This can be seen in all of Teske's polaroid prints. Each is unique and seems to transform the world in some subtle, fundamental way.

Thanks for reading and stop back in next week for another artist feature.

Tuesday Double Feature: Delicacy and Ink Flow

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hi, and welcome back for another Tuesday double feature! This week we'll take a look at work from indie artists you can find on Etsy: Carol Bruno and the dynamic duo, Michael Ayers and Lani Mathis.
Carol Bruno is a New Jersey artist whose work came into focus after the loss of her only brother. Her watercolor depiction of hydrangeas has an undeniable fragility, and the delicate colors transport one to one of those rain washed days in late spring or early summer. This is a perfect piece for contemplative viewing.
The collaborative ink creations of Ayers and Mathis, lifelong creative people, bring a different sort of energy to the table. Their many inkblot collabs, such as Seamore (above) have a wonderful sense of play that will surely brighten your day.
Both Bruno and the Ayers-Mathis team created these pieces with surrealist techniques. Bruno used a crumpling method of composition reminiscent of frotage. Ayers and Mathis created their ink blot with a method similar to the 'exquisite corpse' method in which each participant takes turns adding elements to the composition. In both cases we see how fortuitous these 'accidental' methods can be.
Next week we'll look at another indie artist, Tiffany Teske.
To find out more about Ayers & Mathis, follow the link to their blog, Green Space goods, on the right. See more of Carol Bruno's work by following the link to her shop above.

Everything you wanted to know about Guernica but were afraid to ask in less than 5 paragraphs!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Picasso's Guernica is like the fabled 'great American novel', oft talked of but rarely seen. It is one of those pieces of art that is so important, everyone in-the-know automatically assumes you know all about it. I hate to break it to all those art historians and critics, but Dali is actually more popular ^^ So I am going to give you all the rundown on what this Guernica stuff is all about and why it's so important.
First of all, before Guernica was a painting, it was a town - a town in Spain where a terrible atrocity took place. During the Spanish Civil War, Spanish nationalists, lead by the famous Gen. Franco, arranged to allow German Nazis the chance to test their new bombs - on Spanish civilians. As many as 1500 people were killed and many more injured, and all of this many months before the official start of WWII.
Within weeks of this event, Picasso was already working on the huge 11'x23' canvas in black and white paint only....for war drained life and color from the world. The style was neither cubist nor surreal, but Picasso's personal style with cartoon-ish, primitive, stylized figures. The scene seem to take place in something like a cellar, a place where people are fleeing from the horrors of war, horrors seen in every twisted human figure in the painting. To me, one of the most telling bit of symbolism is the electric in the upper center left. The electric eye is a symbol of progress yet it's light is impotent and the scene must be lit by an old fashioned flame just to the right.
Even today the strong symbolism of Guernica is something feared by those who would engage in war. In 2003, a copy of Guernica hanging in the United Nations was covered up and hidden so that Gen. Colin Powell and John Negroponte could speak about why war with Iraq was necessary without any pesky reminders of the cost.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Picasso's Guernica, and please let me know if you have any more questions about the piece. Next week will be another Double Feature.

Tuesday Double Feature! Mystery and Whimsy

Monday, April 14, 2008

Madelaine and Lance Perry bring a lot of creativity to the table when they get to work. (Above left 'how i got my stutter' Madelaine; above right 'Ladybug with a Flower' Lance Perry.) Madelaine brings us the insecurities and dilemmas of growing up while Perry takes us back to the childhood we never knew.

Madelaine, a Canadian born artist living in West Virginia, is a precocious 17 already in college and supporting herself through her art (you go, girl!) 'How i got my stutter' is a piece of digital art laden with imagery culled from childhood vulnerability, tea lore, and criminal psychology.

Using her own features, Madelaine created a waif of a girl, thin beyond belief. Holding a butterfly suspended like a tea bag, we are reminded of some of the more dreadful childhood passtimes: pulling the wings off flies, burning ants with magnifying glasses. The way the young woman holds the butterfly, however, tells us that the movement has been arrested. Whatever personal pain might have prompted her to think of making butterfly tea, that pause shows that she can regain her purity, if not innocence, but we are not allowed to see the final outcome. Will she make it to a better place or enjoy a nice cup of butterfly tea?

Madelaine herself says of the piece, "As for the part of my personality it reflects... that would be my extreme desire to be what she is (the girl in the image). It reflects my desire to be a pure (I don't mean sexless, I mean free of anger and lies), honest, and good person. I wouldn't ever wish to rid myself of sadness or any other negative emotion, as without sadness, I would never be happy, but there are things in my life or around me that I do wish to be rid of."

In "Ladybug with Flower" Perry, a Texas artist, takes us back to childhood, one populated with nursery rhyme characters and figures from the American subconscious.

Perry says of his work, "There's a part of me inside that never grew up. This part of me has and will always be fascinated by the colorful characters of nursery rhymes, children's stories and movies. I guess this is because there are no boundaries in the world of folklore, and I would like to be a part of that in what way I can. In this piece, how cool would it be if little bugs and critters could carry on such lives as this. In the world of folk art, it is possible. This little guy is stemmed with artistic influence from Tim Burton and other artists from children's stories. The part of my personality that this piece reflects is the joyful, curious child inside. When creating this piece it put a smile on my face, and I hope that it can do the same for my audience.

These two artists take us back to childhood themes, not with nostalgia, but with curiosity and an explorer's ethic. Please take a look at their work on Etsy and join me again next week when I take a look at Picasso's Guernica.

Above The Odds - Lyse Marion

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Canadian artist living near Montreal, Lyse Marion borrows from a range of visual imagery to create lyrical and evocative digital collages. Marion is currently the manager of a small gallery near Montreal and draws upon her experience in social work and a passion for art to help create her images.
Above the Odds combines eastern and western imagery to create a mysterious, otherworldly atmosphere. The towering figure of Degas' little ballerina statue imposes itself on a Middle-eastern town. The young girl is on verge of womanhood, in a state of flux just as the Middle East struggles with it's own growing pains.
The juxtaposition of an immensely tall European girl-child into a Middle-eastern setting is enhanced by the further juxtaposition of orange and blue in the landscape. Though it is hardly unnatural to see an orange sky or a blue building, the saturation of the colors completes the atmosphere of uncertainty and vague foreboding. Yet the figure of the unselfconscious ballerina allows one to feel some sense of stability even here.
The image gently but firmly reminds us of the issue of women's rights, an often under-represented topic in the Middle East. Marion's long background in social work allows her to bring this issue to the fore with sensitivity and dignity. As the title Above the Odds implies, Marion has faith in human nature to rise above culturally imposed limitations.
Marion has much more work available to view in her Etsy shop (link provided above) and I encourage everyone to take a look.

The Art Political (part 4)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The 2008 political season grinds on leaving Florida and Michigan in it's wake as the Clinton camp accuses Obama of crushing new primary hopes and Obama tries to deal with race like an adult....and the media has a series of fits annoying enough to make me want to chuck my t.v. in the bin.

So let's forget all of them for a little while and look at some of the art that came out of revolutionary France. One of the very most important political pieces of art from this time was David's Death of Marat (1793).

During this period, the neoclassical style was hot - everyone was doing it. Neoclassicism was simple, classic, realistic, and it's biggest advantage was to communicate a clear, simple ideal. Delacroix's depiction of liberty is a fine example of this.
But getting back to Death of Marat, you can see that the composition is very starkly composed. Marat lies dead in a bathtub which runs parallel with the picture plane, effectively bringing him to us. And who is this fellow? In a word, a martyr.
Marat was stabbed in his bathtub by a woman from a rival revolutionary faction. The elegant way in which David has posed him is likely at odds with his actual death (I imagine there should be a teency bit more blood.) However, the pose recalls many pieta sculptures in which the dead form of Jesus is often draped across his mother's lap. David is effectively creating a new mythology for a new era, and this portrait of a martyr has become so iconic of that that simply googling 'david death' will come up with this picture.
The creation of a new mythology to support one's cause is, I think, the most interesting aspect here because I believe it has become such a common tactic, and art has become a common tool of this - even if it's just a bit of film about a red phone.
Next week, we'll take a little break from politics altogether to look at some art from Lyse Marion.

The Art Political (part 3)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Well, the presidential campaigns keep grinding on with no signs of resolution. McCain's off in Iraq, and Obama and Clinton are trying not to squabble too obviously.

Back in the realm of art....we'll skip over Constantine and move right along to an interesting mosaic from Emperor Justinian. Justinian faced a great many problems in his rule and very nearly lost his crown. He was, in fact, saved only by his co-regent, Theodora, who refused to give in to riots and danger and successfully rode out their problems.

In order to put up a strong front, Justinian utilized church imagery to reinforce his political position. As this mosaic shows, Justinian styled himself a representative of God. His purple robes and halo show his majesty and position as pontif-in-chief; his prominent position in the composition let's everyone know who is in charge.
After Justinian, one of the next big leaders in the West to use art to advance his political agenda was Charlemagne. Charlamagne is responsible for the creation of the lower-case alphabet and advancing education in the Dark Ages. He also fought the Iconoclasts who wanted to remove certain types of imagery from the theological sphere because Charlemagne recognised the power of art to help educate the masses.
The next major breakthrough came with Martin Luther and the use of movable type printing. This actually became something of an explosion as pamphlets with political cartoons began to circulate in force. Once the damn had been broken, the flow of information only increased to deluge proportions.

Next week...a bit of Revolutionary France's political art.

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