Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dandelions of the French Quarter

I found this image of a Victorian girl about half a year ago and was enchanted by her.

She just looks so happy to be where she is and doing precisely what she is doing.

It's a fantastic attitude to take through life.

Last week, I discovered that Berke Breathed had begun drawing "Bloom County" once more.  I adored Opus and Milo and Cutter John as a child.  I felt a tinge of that Victorian girl's joie de vivre.

I adored the way that Berke Breathed and his creations mixed serious politics with the whimsy of a child's bedtime story.

Well I remember the serious temptation of the dandelion as it sways on the breeze, seeds ready to fly.

How could I help but pay homage?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Blue and White

Strangely, when I had the option of using the whole of the color palette and absolutely any subject matter under the sun, I felt completely and utterly blank.

Had my imagination and stock of cultural references deserted me for all time?

Then the prompt of using two very specific colors and everything clicked into place.

Always such a relief when creativity knocks gently and quietly on the door.

Erato, you are always welcome here!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

I R Mutt

My son asked me what I was up to when he found me looking at images of toilets.

Naturally, I responded that I was tinkering with the idea of making a dog toilet.  I was undecided because I wasn't quite certain as to how to go about it.

My son told me that the idea was so many kinds of wrong.

Therefore, I had to follow through.

Viola.  The Dog Toilet.

Clearly not as elegant as the idea behind the original "Fountain" by Duchamp in 1917, but as you can see, I had absolutely no choice.

It had to be done.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Guard Duty

Sometimes society gives power to people that shouldn't have it.

Give someone that little bit of power and a uniform to match and they check their humanity and their compassion at the door.

All they care about is exercising and abusing that power.

Maybe it is time to re-think who we uniform and trust with our safety.

The welfare of the people that they promised to protect goes completely out the window.

It's heartbreaking, but I am coming to distrust and fear the people in the uniform more than the monsters themselves.

Whatever happened to reason and compassion?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Inspiration is a Dream

Almost every time I put my work on display, whether at gallery or art market, someone asks me where I get my inspiration from.

If you regularly follow my blog, you know that my inspiration can come from almost anywhere: a song, a news event, or even something that happened 100 years ago.  

This time, this piece, my work was inspired by a dream.

Ordinarily, I don't remember my dreams.  At least, I usually forget them within a few moments of waking, but this one stayed with me.  I'm not certain why as it wasn't particularly insightful or life changing, but stay with me it did.

It opens, as clearly as I can recall, with me interviewing for a job by Sandra Bullock.  It seems that she has a part in a movie in which she plays a mermaid.  To really get into her role as mermaid, she has adopted a pet dolphin.

She needs to go out for the evening so naturally she needs a pet sitter.  That is the job she wants to hire me for, her dolphin sitter.

She explains to me that the dolphin will shortly be arriving on the bus, but I need to be careful as the dolphin is not an ordinary dolphin.  

Apparently, her dolphin is difficult to deal with and has an unpleasant personality.

Fair enough. We greet the dolphin as it hops off the bus; her strange land hopping dolphin with a flat face that happens to be the size of  a small dog.

We take the dolphin inside and Sandra gives me a last minute list of chores.

Apparently, one of the tasks for her dolphin sitter involves chopping a ten pound ham into tiny bits and then feeding them to the dolphin.

She leaves and I get to work on the ham.  After I am about half way through, I decide to start tossing small bits to the dolphin in case it has become hungry.

Inexplicably, the small dolphin has turned into a dachshund. 

In my dream, this does not bother me at all and I start to feed the dog its ham. 


On a slightly less bizarre note, I haven't been doing the usual round of art markets.  

The heat has just been too brutal.  

I simply cannot handle sitting out in the sun from 10 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon so I won't be in New Orleans this Saturday although I plan on being back next month and for the rest of the year.

Similarly, instead of being in Lafayette for the Farmers Market at the Horsefarm, I spent this past weekend indoors vending at Mechacon.

It was amazing fun.  The attendees were dazzling in their cosplay.  I loved every moment of it.

Now, I will be back at the Baton Rouge Art Market next Saturday (it ends at noon so I'm hoping the heat won't be quite as brutal earlier in the day).

Also, next Saturday night is "Flight 524".

There will be amazing music and fire dancing as well as spectacular art from local Baton Rouge artists (including mine!).

If you are going to be in the area, you should absolutely come out for what promises to be a fantastic time!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Marmalade Skies

I think we absorb things in our youth that influence us throughout our lives whether we consciously realize it or not.  

Growing up in my house meant that you would inevitably be exposed to the Beatles.

They were my mother's favorite band.  My younger brother was even named after her favorite (John Lennon). In turn, I named one of my sons after my brother, and by default, also after one of the Beatles.

Since I started taking my work to art markets last year, one of the most frequent comments I've received is that my work looks like something that would be on the cover of a Beatles album.  

I was a little perplexed by this, but ultimately, delighted.

There is just something about the Beatles.

Paul, John, George, John, Ringo, John.

What's not to love?

From the clean cut youthful charm of the early Beatles to the evolving sound as they followed their own roads of spiritual seeking, it's hard not to see why they were the number one band in the world for so many years.

My favorite songs are the ones that appealed to me as a child: "Octopus's Garden", "Yellow Submarine", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer,", and clearly, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

I love the surrealistic nature of the lyrics that contains such a strong visual as well as auditory appeal.

I have an annoying tendency to listen to my favorite song of the moment on repeat for an extended period (something I indulge in only when alone).  I did that with "Lucy" and this picture was a direct result.

It may not reflect the lyrics perfectly, but how captivating is the thought of marmalade skies?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Werewolf Primer

The Werewolf Primer - available at Amazon

It is with a complete lack of fanfare that I announce that my not quite Art / not quite Childrens Book,
"The Werewolf Primer" is up for sale on Amazon's self-publishing Kindle format.

"The Werewolf Primer" represents a lot of different things to me.

First, it meant that I could complete a large, self-directed artistic project.  I finished 27 images, all relating to a single topic and hung them together with a loose story line about a young werewolf boy living in Victorian era New Orleans.

I was very pleased that I completed it.  It was a huge accomplishment for me.  I set an artistic goal; a long term project, and I finished it.  Since I was and am in the process of creating a series of Major Arcana Tarot cards, it was reassuring to know that I can finish a large, self-appointed task.

At the time I started the project, I was on a bit of career roll.  I started pursuing an art career, seriously, last May.  The very first two art exhibitions I applied to, accepted me.  In one, the September Competition at a proper museum, I even received an Honorable Mention.

I began to feel like I could not fail; like I was on an unstoppable winning streak.

In the heat of my overwhelming optimism, I finished "The Werewolf Primer" and set it off into the world of crowd funding via Kickstarter.  The thirty days started well with my book being selected as a Staff Pick, but then it stalled out.

Thirty days later, I failed to reach my funding goal.

The next two art exhibitions I applied to said no and no. 

I felt decimated and devastated.  Perhaps my previous success was a mere fluke.  Perhaps me and my artwork should just crawl back into the dark hole from whence we came.

Of course, eventually my delicate ego began to recover.

It was foolishly optimistic of me to think that I could scale the heights in a few brief months and achieve what other talented artists only managed after years of toil and struggle and advanced education.

I think in the long term that "The Werewolf Primer" will serve as a valuable and essential lesson to me.  

Art is a marathon, not a sprint.

Any career experiences ups and downs; triumphs and setbacks.

Sure, my delicate ego and feelings were badly bruised,

Sure, I might have spent a few days or weeks cowering and sobbing in the back of my closet, but at some point the stench of my self pity became too much and I had to crawl back into the light.

Last November I created a artwork featuring the funeral scene for young Wuffe Boulet, my werewolf boy.  I felt very uncertain about his future.

Should I consign him to the grave?  Should I destroy all evidence of him and his young life as unacceptable symbols of my failure?

I wasn't ready to do something so permanent to so many weeks of work and hope even if my pride in my accomplishment had been tarnished by his failure.  

Ten months later, I have enough distance that I am letting him out, brushing off the funeral dust and letting him back out into the sun.

Young Wuffe deserves at least that from me.

Go howl at the moon, young man, you deserve a little fresh air!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What is Art?

Most artists I know do not feel comfortable even owning the title, "Artist".  I think in the back of our minds, we always feel a bit like a fraud.  Proper artists are somewhere else, wearing black turtlenecks and berets, sniffing the bouquet of a glass of wine, and sneering down their noses at a plate of inferior cheeses.

(Most of this I realize is just the crazy in my head, typed up with a bit of tongue in cheek so hopefully no delicate feelings will be crushed here.)

In my head, this is how it works.

At the top are the fine oil artists.  Fine oil belongs at the top because proper painters have been using oil since the beginning of art.  Creating an oil painting takes time.  Everything  must be carefully planned out in advance.  Preliminary sketches must be made.  Applying paint to the canvas can take days and weeks.  The oil paint takes time to dry.  Patience and skill are the cornerstone of the fine oil painter.  They are the creme de la creme.

Next come the watercolorists.  Watercolor is soft and misty.  It's the favorite medium of sweet ladies in smocks, mistily gazing at a pretty still life of flowers and fruit.  But again, planning is essential.  Layers of watercolor must dry between applications.  It's not something you can finish in a day.  The swirling colors may be happenstance but the main heart of the work is something that be carefully thought out.

Lower still on the ladder are the acrylic painters (spoken with a tinge of amused disdain).  After all, acrylic paint dries quickly.  An acrylic painter doesn't have to sit around waiting for days or weeks.  They can complete their work quickly.  Oh, the shame of it.

Not to worry, though, if you love acrylics, you're still better than the sketchers, the wielders of pastel pencils and charcoal. At least, painters have to use a brush.

Don't even get me started on collage artists.  Give them some scissors and glue and suddenly they think they're making art.  Some might throw in a little paint and term it "Mixed Media Art" but we know better, don't we.

Then, we have the photographers.  A lot of art associations won't even let them in.  Maybe they know about things like shutter speeds and tripods.  Sure they talk a lot of nonsense about framing shots and spending hours in the field just to capture that one perfect shot.  Does that mean they are really artists?

Then, we have the newer kids on the block: the digital artists.  

They take a photograph and play around on the computer.  Aren't they just mixed media collagists without the scissors and glue?  Why don't they just take their work back to the kindergarten classroom where it belongs?

So, that's how I imagine the classification of art and artists work.

Note I put myself waaaayyyy on the bottom because that is the way the artist ego works.

What I do could best be described as lowbrow photo-surrealism.

Sounds sort of pretentious, right?

I work with photographs, often my own, sometimes, antique work or public domain.

I use a hodgepodge of imagery, Victorian portraits, botanical drawings, whatever fits where I need it.

Basically, collage without the physical scissors and glue.

In my better moments, I think that I do have a strong point of view.  My work is consistent and cohesive.  I think I have something interesting to say.

In my weaker moments, I lament that I am a fraud that really should be in a kindergarten classroom.  

Digital art doesn't belong on a gallery wall.  

Someone should be hanging it on the refrigerator and patting me gently on the top of my head.

Still, I cannot seem to stop so I hope it's a really big refrigerator.  I have a lot left to say.