You will only create masterpieces if…

Tiny Lori Greenberg Beads

…you have a good foundation in your art.

Holy smokes, look what I just found.  Not the picture but the actual beads.  These were amongst the first that I ever made.  Look how TINY they are!

Yep, that’s how I started.  Not too bad either…for what they are.  Encasing and dots.

Here’s another testament to learning the basics well before moving on to more complex things.

I was listening to an interesting radio show where the guest had written a book about the top 25 discoveries of the 20th century.  He talked about the process the (mostly) scientists went through before they made their discoveries.  I found it interesting that often times what they discovered was either not what they were looking for or they were looking into a different solution when their discovery appeared.  More interesting than that was the fact that the author stated that all of the discoveries were made by professionals in the field; that nowhere did he ever find someone just stumbling upon a great discovery that wasn’t already established in their field.  Maybe not famous, but they knew their way around the lab or had a scientific/mathematical mind.  In other words, it doesn’t happen by sheer accident.

<>Lately I’ve been viewing art and creativity through the eyes of other theories.  For example, the above.  How often do you think it is that someone sits down at the torch for the first few times, not knowing the basics and discovers some great technique or process?  According to the author above (I’m going to have to find his name) that just doesn’t happen.  I think I tend to agree because I know that every design I come up with is only after many attempts to see what certain components do together.  Maybe some ‘happy accidents’ happen but I already have a working knowledge of the materials and the medium.

<>I also think that there are many of us that when we sit down to ‘play’ and come up with something new that we have high hopes that we’re going to hit on the next best big seller.  The next big innovative technique.  Or maybe not.  But how many times have you put a sure-to-be masterpiece into your kiln only to feel deflated when you take it out of the kiln the next day?  C’mon.  You know you’ve done it.

Gems from an artist…

Monet LentilEvery month at the Sonoran Arts League meeting there is a different program. One month it was about stolen holocaust art and the fact that statute of limitations are running out so it is re-emerging. One month it was a quilt artist that did the most incredible work with fabric that you would never think of sleeping under one. Another month it was about how to write press releases. The list goes on.

This past Monday night’s program was a critique. Wow. I was transported back to college and I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack right there on the spot. Until I realized that my pieces weren’t on the block. The meetings are held in the community room of a bank and the League has a monthly curated show there that fills the walls with art. The gentleman who did the critique, Merrill Mahaffey, went around the walls and spoke on each piece. It was absolutely fascinating…gentle yet thought-provoking.

<> Merrill is an older man who has been painting for a lifetime. He does watercolors of desert landscapes and they sell for up to about $40,000, that I know of. He stated that there wasn’t one piece up there that he didn’t like because he loves all art. Still, hearing a critique, especially if you didn’t know it was coming can be hard.

<>So, what did he say that has me writing this whole post? These are close paraphrases. Quotes are used for emphasis. ‘Your art should give meaning to your life – not to follow someone else’ when he was critiquing a great pen and ink drawing…saying that ‘many people have drawn animal skulls, or copied other styles, but how can you make it different?’ I loved that because that’s what I try to do…take something ordinary and make it different. That is what gets you noticed (and keeps you from getting bored). ‘Make it say something about yourself.’ Not that it necessarily makes you a best-seller, right away, but you will get notice. Also, ‘Discover what you like about something and work on that.’ For example, if you like color, exploit that. If you like shadows, exploit that. If you like texture, focus there.

<>Of course, the thought in the back of many minds was, ‘But we need to sell our work.’ And that was stated out loud, to which he replied that he believed in ‘making the work you love and finding a way to sell it’…not the other way around. Genius. Marketing in itself is an art (he didn’t say that, I did). He also said that ‘the pioneers of new movements (cubism, realism, expressionism, etc.) weren’t always necessarily great artists but they were doing something that no one had seen before’ and that ‘if you put it out there, eventually people will start to like it.’ Have you ever had the experience of your newest, best work not selling but last years pieces (or older) fly off the table? I think that’s why. People aren’t ‘used to it’ yet. But then you will find those people that appreciate what is new and want it before it catches on.

<>I could go on and on with nuggets but those few really spoke to me. They were affirming and encouraging.

Are you and artist? Am I an artist?

Two entries today! I must be feeling back to my old self because I have a lot to say. Anyway, I’m writing in regards to a post over on WetCanvas! that is talking about whether you’re an ‘artist’ or not and then goes into other discussions about who is an artist, who determines it, etc. You know, the age old debate.

I started to write a response and thought, you know, it’s better if I either keep it to myself or put it someplace where it can be deleted later. I guess that’s the on-line way of being politically correct…if it rubs someone wrong, it can be erased from my permanent record. That is, unless there are those of you out there that print this kind of stuff to use against me at a later date.

But really, my response isn’t that harsh, although it goes against what anyone else was saying there. Basically, I think, ‘Who the heck cares?’ As long as you buy my beads so that I can make a living at it, you can call me Frankenstein. Of course, that gets into the argument of whether people would buy my beads if they didn’t consider me an artist. But that’s up to them and I always say, you can’t be hurt by someone insulting you unless you let yourself feel insulted.

Most titles are just titles and most of them are meaningless other than to either separate you from others or give you a status that determines how much money you make or who you can boss around. Most titles can poof up egos and lead to power trips. So I say, phooey on it all.

Sure there are times when we all fall prey to that shiny object in the road. Who doesn’t like to be praised or recognized? Given what I’ve written above, I still toss around the word artist and remember my post on being so excited about being juried into an artist league?

It’s hard to separate from titles but when it starts to hurt people or make someone feel less than or more than, that’s when I would throw them out the window for sure. And just so you know…that jurying thing…even though I do like the fact that I feel recognized, my secret aim is to be juried in so that when they get so big and you have to jury into their shows I’ll be grandfathered in and won’t have to go through it. Not that that is going to happen, it’s just my own little planning scheme.

And lastly, someone said that artists are ‘called’ and something to the effect of having it or not having it. I do believe artists are called but not because they’re artists but because they have a desire to create as a person. That doesn’t mean they’re good at it. They just need to express something. I also believe that anyone can be an artist. Many doctors and counselors are artists as well as teachers and mechanics. And it can be learned. Creativity can be learned and cultivated. It’s how you look at the world and express yourself.

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