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What’s good art?

There is a discussion started on Facebook about what about art makes it “good art”.  Also there is mention of “fake art”.  I have never heard of that.  I think they are two good questions: what is good art and what is fake art?

First of all, I think we need to define what art is in the first place.  And of course, what is craft? And then, what makes the art and/or craft good? There are books devoted to those questions, but here’s my take.

“Good art” is so subjective isn’t it? First, there’s the artist’s intention.  What is the artist creating the piece of art to express or say? Is it an invitation to consider the value of the unconscious or dream in the night? An idea? A protest?  Or a feeling or experience? The love of a landscape or of the shapes and values in a person’s face? Or heck, just the expression of beauty?

Many people get caught up in the media determining if something is art. Painters assume that everything they paint is art just because they use paint.  Many of those same painters say that mosaic  or fused glass can’t be art – cuz it’s a craft because the piece is made with glass, ceramic, buttons, etc.  It can be artistic but not art.

Is a painting of a girlie with her head tilted to one side considered art? What about a painting of a heart? Is a mosaic of a dog considered art? Is a fused glass abstract wall piece art? What about a collage?

Okay, I think I brought up more questions than answers – cuz I think it’s so subjective.  It’s opinion.  One opinion shared in the Facebook discussion that really piqued my interest is the idea of good art having energetic impact.  YES! I have experienced art that had great energetic impact on me (one great example of Henri Moore’s large sculptures).  I have also experienced well-crafted paintings that had very little or not energetic impact.   So I gotta ask, if Marcel Duchamp’s Urinal had and still has energetic impact, would it be considered good art?

Another interesting part to me is the viewer.  The viewer is the one who takes in the images, forms, shapes, values…who may or may not know much about technique, or what the artist was thinking when he/she created the piece.  They may like the image or form – or they may hate it (I’m thinking penis sculptures that were taken down in Colorado in the last few years – I’m still not sure what the intent of the sculptor(s) was for those – maybe shock?)

So if a viewer likes what they see, or see it as beautiful, or are emotionally moved by it in some way – being disgust, awe, or wonder), or it’s good technique-wise, they would consider it good art I assume.  I wonder if that same person doesn’t like the intention or subject matter (which could be dear to the artist’s heart) and they might not like or consider it as “good”…it no matter how well crafted the piece is.

Oh yeah – what the heck is “fake art” ? Is it like the “fake news” phenomena that has reared its ugly head recently?

 

Owning my Path

I was a counselor for nearly 20 years and I shifted into doing some Life Coaching and Projective Dreamwork for quite awhile, which was fun. Then I was called to “work” dreams/archetypes/personal symbology as well as do healing work through the creation of art.  I paint both abstract and some figurative work..and I fuse glass too.  Fusing glass is alchemical to me – and definitely magical – you put a combination of the base materials (glass, enamels, metals, micas etc) together then transform the glass in the kiln.  The fused glass – the “Gold” – is the beautiful, colorful result.  I love to share my fused glass with the birds and plants in my garden – as well as with my friends and clients.

It seems it’s time for me to claim my Path.  No more hiding – no more holding back – no more fear – no more doubt.  Another calling that I have kept to myself for years is Priestess work.  I listened but wasn’t sure where to look or start.  I have been asking for Guidance for a couple of years and I have recently found my answer.

I have been doing some Initiation work in the Tempe of 13 Moon Mystery School and my heart has opened up wide. I am where I am supposed to be.  I am hoping to be accepted into the 9 month Priestess Intiation program.  Fingers crossed.

Art and change

I worked as a therapist in mental health, helping people heal from abuse, depression, anxiety, PTSD, domestic abuse, etc for almost 20 years.  For my own inner work, I worked with Eva White Desert Eagle, to learn Shamanic ways and Ceremony to heal myself and to find my path – and then to guide others to do the same. I got certified in Projective Dreamwork through Jeremy Taylor’s program. I also completed the Life Coaching training with (can’t remember the name of the company based here in town).  And I was blessed to be a part of two different Wise women groups who did inner work and Ceremony to grow and heal ourselves and Mother Earth.  Ok – that’s my healing background in a nutshell.

I loved working with people, guiding them to wholeness and healing.  I saw that the “agent of change” – what created change  – was the relationship between the helper and the client. It was also me listening to and giving clients skills to deal with their challenges, working the dreams by talking about/interpreting them, etc. etc.  I also did a lot of Art therapy with women and children.

After a few years, I knew I still wanted to do healing work – and finding hope and the Light – but not with words anymore.  I wanted – and still want to create art that (hopefully) inspires viewers…to value dreams, consciousness, Shadow – and to find Hope.  Find Love and Light within. Relationship is still important to me – it’s now the relationship between the painting and the viewer that I’m more interested in now. When you interact with my painting, drawing, or glass piece – you are interacting with me of course.  I just let the piece of art speak now.  Art is the agent of change for me.  Love it!

 

 

 

Mastering Shenpa

 

Food is nourishment and medicine – for feeding what the body needs.  When I worked with Eva White Desert Eagle years ago, she used the word “mouth hunger” to describe what I do – what we all do to a certain point I assume.  I “stuff” my feelings with chips and chocolate.  Heck there are times that I’m being conscious of what I’m eating (no refined sugars, milk products, or gluten) and I stuff my feelings with the Ok foods too.

I definitely am attached to food – my attachment looks like either overeating food or dieting/limiting food.  I use food for comfort, for something to do when I’m bored or sad…I could go on and on.  I use – or should I say mis-use food.  And this article talks about Shenpa (attachment and cravings) and mastering it.  Good plan (I hear Bridgit Jones’ voice when I type that haha).

I do want to find a way to master Shenpa – I would like to be free of it and have a healthy relationship with food.  Eat chocolate cuz it takes good.  Eat chips when I want something crunchy and salty.  Not when I am sad or bored or whatever.

 

Shenpa, attachment and craving… the lessons they teach us

What makes a REAL artist?

Oh I have struggled with this so much recently.  I only did a couple of craft fairs last year and one show was so hot and miserable that I got kinda sick. I think I sold a couple of little pieces.  The second one was so wintery and cold that the attendance was low.  I sold 3 pieces there.  I didn’t make my booth fee back in both shows.  I was so discouraged – and I still am.  I haven’t been able to really make any fused glass since and painting has been a hit and miss thing.  I look at them and just can’t come up with anything to do.  I am stuck.

I am taking the figurative drawing class (SO FUN!!) and am drawing pretty much every day.  I am not good at it – but I can already see some improvement in being able to draw what I see.  I skipped this weekend but there are days that I draw more than one drawing so it evens out in my mind lol.

Intellectually I know an artist is someone who creates art to express something – beauty, love, angst, concern for the environment, protest, appreciation for the body as a piece of art, etc.  But if I am honest with myself, deep down I believe an artist is who successfully sells their art is a real artist.  They see lots of pieces sell each year – they are in demand.  The artist makes things that a lot of people like and want for their collections.  So I am not a real artist by my definition.  God that hurts.

I had breakfast with a friend yesterday and she showed me her newest art book – it is beautiful – it is stunning.  That doesn’t even do the book justice – but that’s the best descriptor I can come up with now.  Do I see my friend as an artist? You bet.  Does she sell her art? I know she has sold in the past.  I don’t know if she sells now.  Does she sell a lot of her art? I don’t ask so I am not sure.  Do people like her art (other than me)? Oh yes.  Is it in demand? Hell yes.  It’s authentic and powerful.  She knows who she is and she expresses that in her work.  …..and Yes I can see that I am applying two different sets of definitions for her and myself…but I can’t shake loose of that.

One thing that hit me as I write this, the difference between my friend and me is that she has a very clear sense of who she is.  She is very clear on what is important to her and what she needs to express in her art.  Am I? I think so – at least in my paintings.  At least most of the time.  I know I want to paint the human figure more (hence my class) – I want to paint people running – and swimming – and maybe even biking.  I also want to paint Goddess images and other Shammanic images that I am called to create.  And I have tried to paint a dog (FAIL) and horses before (another FAIL)…and would love to be able to paint other animals as they come up.

So maybe I am very clear on who I am and what is important to me…the gap is more of the technical part – my ability to to draw/paint those images I want to create.  So maybe I need to be more patient with my process – and draw more – and have the guts to try the dog…the horse….the bear again.   And women.  It’s just paint.  It’s just pencil and paper.  AHA!

Damn journaling works! Go figure!  Ok…so I will continue as is, be gentle with myself as I practice my drawing and creating what I feel called to.  It’s already getting better – I just need more time.

 

Two Golden mediums I want to try…

I sometimes use my acrylics like watercolor paints and they get a little too chalky looking cuz the polymers are broken down too much by the water so I’m hoping that the Golden Flow release will help with that.   According to Golden: Flow release breaks the surface tension of water, increasing its ability to soak into porous surfaces. This allows the acrylic painter to achieve rich stains on surfaces such as watercolor paper and unprimed canvas.

Acrylic retarder is another medium I just gotta try.  I think I would get the look I’ve been trying for in a couple of paintings. I have been using acrylic glazing medium to blend the blues, greens, and purples to create this ethereal look in a tunnel.  According to Golden, it is to keep your acrylic paints open longer (drying time) so I can try the wet-in-wet techniques. It could be what I need to create that blended ethereal look I’m trying for!

Once I get the mediums and play around with it for awhile, I will post pix.

 

 

 

 

 

Staying curious

It’s good to be curious, about many things … You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind …   ~ Mr. Rogers
Sometimes I feel like I have ADD…Attention Deficit Disorder…well really I flit – I am a flitter.  Flit from one idea to another, then back to the first, or to the next.  Or maybe I am just so damn curious…I do wonder a lot…if I do this or that, what would that look like in glass…or paint…or with some vintage stamps…well, you get the idea.  It makes my creative process more interesting.
I have a bazillion glass works in progress…I am working on at least 6 paintings in my studio….I am amassing a collection of vintage stamps for an idea that is still percolating…AND I am waiting for my soap making supplies to show up today so I can make a new batch of soap tomorrow. Good thing it’s too cold and frozen outside cuz I would be flitting outside in my garden!
I do get things done but I think it’s a slower process than I would like.  Do I want to change? Do I wish I could be different? Maybe.  I would be more productive and I would have a larger body of work (paintings) to have when I approach a gallery, which is one of my long term goals.  But I also like to experiment and try stuff out to see if I like it, if it communicates what I want to communicate.  And curiosity fits into that equation…at least that’s what I tell myself.
So I guess what I am saying is that I will stay curious…try new techniques, try new mediums, cuz you just might fall in love with something else new and things even more interesting.  When I get to an art supply store I am going to get some Flow Release to try some new ideas for my paintings!

Carl Jung on journals…

Making a Journal Sacred

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can – in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them… Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & for you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.”
Source: NY Times Magazine article, The Holy Grail of the Unconscious.

I usually journal in ordinary notebooks…it’s affordable and sometimes I can get really chatty when I journal.  If it’s just a notebook then I don’t feel like I’m wasting a good journal on my neurotic crap that shows up in my dreams, as well as my thoughts about the dreams.  Sometimes my ahas aren’t pretty.  It’s hard to put not pretty stuff in a pretty journal.

I know dreams are sacred – I should know my dream journal is sacred – but I guess I didn’t connect the two.  Or maybe I knew at one point but forgot.  I am really good at that.

So I will find a nice bound book (it’s gotta be purple my fav color!) to write my dreams, sketch them, and create my church, my cathedral.

Drawing I class and beyond!

It’s funny how a beginning drawing class can change a person…and an artist.  I took the drawing class cuz it was a requirement for the Creative Welding certificate program.  Boy I struggled to draw realistically…and I am not great at that skill…but after lots and lots of practice, it started to work.  I would draw during each class, as well as draw one thing a day at home.

Early in the semester I was so resistant – I am not sure what I was resisting, but sometimes I was so anxious. There were times I would tense up  and grit my teeth as the teacher informed us about our drawing assignment that day.  No one ever knew how I felt cuz I would smile and act like everything was okay.  I was sure out of my comfort zone!

I have taken drawing classes before, but most times I would quit showing up after awhile, cuz I wasn’t able to draw like I wanted to.  I remember taking a class from a artist named Frank, and he got so frustrated with my inability to draw an elk butt perfectly, that he drew it for me.  I never went back cuz I was so embarrassed.

Looking back at this semester, I was blessed to have a teacher who was encouraging and willing to demonstrate how to draw something I just couldn’t get right (when I asked). She also pointed out where I got something inaccurate and gave me suggestions on how to improve it. She didn’t get frustrated with me – or at least she didn’t show it.  Thing is that I HAD to ask for her help and her demos.  I didn’t want to look dumb, but realized that I was the one who was losing out by not speaking up.

So about a month ago, we drew the human figure a couple of times.  My first one was okay, but it was off a few places.  So rather than talking with the teacher, I asked for help from my painting mentor.  She helped me correct my mistakes – then Eureka! I could see the body’s planes and angles – it all made sense.  Next class – I could see what I missed the first time – and drew our model accurately.  I was so excited!!

I was so excited that I started looking for figure drawing sessions in town – and classes.  And yeah, I started thinking about taking a Figure drawing class next semester at the community college.  I registered for the class as soon as I could.  I am bitten by the Drawing bug!  Who knew!

I am not sure where this is all going, but I love to create figures.  I paint abstract figures a lot.  So learning how to draw the human figure realistically will inform my abstract paintings…and maybe some realistic human figures will show up in paintings someday.

I am an art student!

I have thrown pots, formed ceramic sculpture, created mosaics…and in the last few years, I have been fusing glass and and painting acrylic aabstracts.  I have learned from the best – a few experienced and successful potters, various mosaicers, a bunch of fused glass teachers, the talented painter and colorist Lance Green and my lovely, talented painting mentor Barbara McCulloch.  I have grown so much from working with all of my teachers, especially Barbara.  I owe her a huge debt of gratitude.
When I go to her studio, with my paintings, we talk about my composition, value, tone, etc etc, just as you’d expect from a mentor.  We also talk a lot of about the spirituality of art and what I am saying and revealing in my paintings.  What she has helped me to see is that I talk a lot about Darkness and Light, layers of consciousness (including dreams), and Hope.  To me hope is the most important thing in life.  If we do not have hope, we are starved.  When we are starved we do destructive things … and dumb things (speaking for myself).
After our sessions, I journal to process what we talked about.  I also journal before, during and after painting each day.  My desire, my wish, maybe my calling (?) is to create sculpture.  Sculpture is a “meaty” form of an idea, feelings, or experience, that nothing else can express in the same way.  My wish/calling to create sculpture isn’t a new revelation – I have many sketches of sculpture that come to me over the years.  One of the reasons why I left Poudre River Arts Center was to be able to afford to take sculpture classes.  But life got in the way – or I did.  Maybe both.
Fast forward a bunch of years…as I was journaling recently, I found myself thinking about sculpture again and how I would love to create large pieces that would be seen and experienced in a big way.  I know, I know, that last sentence sounds goofy – but that’s the only way I know how to express it right now.  It seemed like a “good enough” time to look into classes.  It’s like having kids – there’s no perfect time to have kids (we don’t have enough money,  I am not mature enough, not…well you get the idea).
So… I found a welding certification program at our community college.  I applied to college and got accepted…then later discovered a certification program in creative welding for artists.  Holy crap I had no idea!  In my excitement, I found a list of required classes and registered for Drawing I.  Then my panic ensued.
So I was able to breathe through my panic, not drop the class, pay the first payment of the payment plan, and show up to the first two classes.  At first, I felt awkward, excited, nervous, a little scared – AND right where I am supposed to be.  I am home.  I am an art student!