Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Year New Ideas

With the new year already in full swing, it's time to hunker down and start putting my soul on a canvas once again. I was pleasantly surprised as I reflected on my projects for 2010 in the variety and amount of pieces finished. This year I wanted to take a new approach and expand my horizons just a bit with maybe more detail and size rather than quantity.

The holidays for me are always centered around food and 2010 wasn't any different. I did reflect a little more on the amount of food specially now that I'm trying to be slightly healthier, but the task of calculating the size of the pig to be roasted for 23 people didn't really calm this nagging reflection. The year ended and the food high wore off, so I started  thinking about 2011 and setting some new goals for my work but not without that thought still pestering my consciousness.

Since I wasn't able to shake off those feelings of gluttony, I decide that it would be very appropriate to paint an entire serious based on the 7 deadly sins through the eyes of an outsider living in the south. First because of how I feel about obesity in our culture and second because I live in the bible belt as a non-Christian.

I've always admired representational art in religion, which I will incorporate into the serious by intertwining classic religious art into every piece. My intentions is to express the gap between the religious teachings' past and their current interpretations, as I see them, but it is not intended to offend even though it will inherently accomplish it.

I haven't picked a venue, but I would like to show the collection around August or September. That should give me plenty of time to paint it and to reflect on the constantly shifting line artists sometimes cross in regards to portraying social norms, which can easily be interpreted as blasphemous or offensive.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Accepting Failure

I recently came across a quote that would have been useful during my recent bout of artistic blues, "Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent success." Of course that's only true if we take the time to analyze it, accept it, and take corrective action. It's also not very helpful to constantly fear failure. Fear of failure is your number one enemy because it doesn't let you complete your current project and destroys the slightest progress towards your next painting.

My latest painting is a perfect example of my struggle with the fear of failure. This painting came to me as a random thought. Like most of my non-traditional painting ideas, I was just falling asleep when an image of a faceless man with retro patterns floating in empty space flashed in my mind. I could not forget the image, so I thought about it for a week and finally took a leap of faith.

I took this challenge because I felt stagnant at the time, I needed to stretch my imagination and improve my technique. I knew this subconsciously, but I had feared stepping outside of my comfort zone completely. I also had the feeling it could turn out to be something not well received, which has been the case. Always knowing that there was a high probability of failure was also not helpful, so why did I still push myself to paint it?

First, I love a good challenge. Being able to take a random thought or idea and place it on a canvas with even more clarity than originally perceived, allows me to prove to myself that thoughts can be made into reality.

Second, It was an extra creative challenge to add missing pieces to the mental thought and balance out the idea of the painting. For example:

  • I felt the background needed to add lots of depth and decided a green field and blue sky would work well, so I ended up with a tropical plantation. 
  • I felt the face outline would be too real if the skin tone was natural, so I went with blue as a tribute to Picasso's "Old Guitarist," during his blue period. 
  • I wanted to add a piece of me to the painting, so I've used myself as the model and made sure to include my grandfather’s necklace to solidify it as a partial self portrait.

Finally, I needed to practice breaking away from the fear of "THEY," if only for one painting. Constantly thinking of what "THEY" think or what "THEY" say can be a big stress on any artist. It's very important to stop and paint something for yourself every once in a while. It gives me a sense of control over every part of the process, which in turn allows me to be more flexible doing commissions because I know I can always paint something for me.

I'm at peace with this painting because it's for me. I have been able to critique myself honestly because I know it has a small probability of success and praise from others. When it's finished, I will be able to explain it from my heart and will be able to laugh about it as well. As long as I own it, It will be a reminder that I intentionally planted a seed in that painting to learn something about myself.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Have you ever been in a museum or a gallery and thought to yourself "I can do that" or maybe you've had the opposite thought and said something like "that seems so hard to do." I'm certain the first thought probably came from the initial sticker shock of some abstract piece. Maybe it's true, you could do such a piece but could you sell it for that much money? There is a famous Picasso legend that goes something like this:

“It’s you — Picasso, the great artist! Oh, you must sketch my portrait! I insist.” So Picasso agreed to sketch her. After studying her for a moment, he used a single pencil stroke to create her portrait. He handed the women his work of art. “It’s perfect!” she gushed. “You managed to capture my essence with one stroke, in one moment. Thank you! How much do I owe you?” “Five thousand dollars,” the artist replied. “B-b-but, what?” the woman sputtered. “How could you want so much money for this picture? It only took you a second to draw it!” To which Picasso responded, “Madame, it took me my entire life.”

The realty is that career artists are only worth the money when they've been promoted, their work is owned by collectors, and art dealers are demanding exclusivity. The subjective part of the work, its meaning, might be created by the artist and dealer, but the true value is created by the buyer. Picasso didn't mean to say, "a life time of painting," he meant "a life time of self promotion."

On the other hand, thinking you're not capable of such talent is also a fallacy. If you love art you can make art. You just need to be committed to the learning process not just being artsy. There is a difference between being artsy and being an artist. Being artsy is a fleeting trend, being an artist is a lifelong dedication. I have seen many talented and dedicated people not pursue art because of fear. I have also seen many  lazy, undedicated, artsy people consider themselves artist because it's cool. My version of a successful artist doesn't look a certain way, they think a certain way. My artist is dedicated and passionate about their work. They can admire the process not just the final product and they're relentless about self promotion.

I can teach anyone to be an artist, but I can't teach commitment nor can I erase your fears. It is up to the artist to promote themselves and work closely with the art dealers, and it's up to you to pick up a brush and truly believe YOU CAN DO THAT!