Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Roaring 20s

 Auntie Gertrude

I've been going through some old photos of relatives and came across rather battered one of a great aunt.  The photo was taken when she was around 18 or 19 at the time, sometime in the 1920s. I love sketching relatives from the past.  Looking at clothes and hairstyles and seeing what physical characteristics are passed down from generation to generation is interesting.

The hairstyle fascinated me and made me do a little research on hairstyles of the 1920s.  This is when the "bob" came into fashion which was a trend that caused a lot of controversy and perhaps was a push into women's rights and a break from the patriarchal society rules of the time.  Film stars of the time, such as Clara Bow, jumped on the bandwagon and I would imagine that my great aunt, like any other teenager, mimicked trends and fashion - and rebelled a bit too.  Apparently the introduction of the bob also spurred the creation of the bobbie pin.
I remember my great aunt as having the characteristic thick curly or wavy hair that ran in my mother's side of the family (I seem to have gotten the dead straight gene but kept the thick part), so cutting her hair into a bob must have been problematic in terms of maintenance as most curly or wavy hair has a mind of its own.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In the Pink

 In the Pink - SOLD
5" x 7"  oil on masonite

For a private workshop this week I looked through my reference images for something different, yet not too challenging, for painting.  I don't often paint flowers but with Easter/Spring in the air, I thought a tulip might fit the bill.  And it did.  The individual who I was teaching had not painted anything previously and never used a palette knife but did a fabulous job with her first painting of a tulip as you can see in the image below.

Its interesting to see how different people approach painting, especially those not influenced by previous painting experience.  Some have a natural ability to see colours and shapes, while others struggle with that observation. Practice, of course, brings the training of eye/hand that helps with seeing shapes and judging colours.  Each person brings their own unique vision and painting style to a piece and its wonderful watching it unfold.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Advice to my younger self

 Self portrait - 1975

Hindsight is 20:20 and wouldn't it be nice to be able to mentor your younger self and provide the sage advice that time and experience provides?

From the artist's view point if I could advise my younger self here are some things I'd say:

  1. Get a thick skin quickly.  There will always be critics and they will wound you to the core. Get over it.  As you move up the art ladder, there will be people who try to knock you off.  This will come in a variety of forms, from blatant plagerism and copyright theft down to the jabs and remarks spurred on by the green gods of jealousy and hatred.  Ignore your critics and those intent on trying to hurt you. Keep your vision strong and your belief in yourself and your art stronger.  But never be afraid to fight for what is right and what is yours.
  2. Become identifiable.  Perfect your technique and find your style and medium. Nothing gets you more rejections than poorly executed art, art that encompasses a dozen different styles and mediums or art that looks identical to 20 other artists. Your style belongs to you.  You work hard to achieve it, so guard it like a dog does its bone.
  3. Practice your art.  Work in your studio daily, no matter what.  Practice equals beautiful art and it inspires creative work.  As Chuck Close said, "Inspiration is for amateurs.  The rest of us just show up and get to work."  Create a body of work of 15 - 20 pieces.  Then create another.  And another...
  4. Learn the art of marketing yourself.  No one else will do it for you.  Not unless you pay them a lot of money.  Promote yourself and your work constantly. Exposure to eyes is what makes art visible.  Keeping it in a studio collecting dust will not benefit you, or the world.
  5. Share your knowledge.  No, don't sell the farm and reveal everything, but share your knowledge of technique to other artists coming after you. After all, technique doesn't belong to you, you are only a medium through which it is passed down from artist to artist as it has for hundreds of years.  It is your duty as an artist to show others artistic techniques.
  6. Create what you love.  Don't be swayed by what subject sells in a gallery, what a best selling artist paints or what the current trend is in art.  Create the art that resonates within you.  It will sell if you want it to.  Be patient and wait for the right person to claim it.
  7. Nurture yourself.  Surround yourself with beautiful things, beautiful surroundings, beautiful people.  It need not be beauty in the traditional sense of pleasing to look at, though that is always pleasant, but more the people and objects that are pleasing to the soul.  Artists create best when their soul is satisfied.  
  8. Ring the bell.   Leonard Cohen once wrote "Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in."  Don't strive for perfection.  Real beauty lies in imperfection and uniqueness.