outflows and inflows of creativity

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yes, Yet Another New Years List

Like almost everyone else on the planet, I've been doing a bit of reviewing here at year's end. Here's a few things I hope for the new year:

  • That somebody will TAKE charge, and get our men and women out of the train wreck called Iraq.
  • That for once, just once, my bills won't exceed my earnings.
  • That at least one person in the world will allow their inner artist to come to life. (OK, really I hope about a million will)
  • That stupid Head ON commercial will just go away.
  • That my head won't explode from school, paint, work, blog, school, work, blog, paint . . . (Hmmm, wonder if Head ON works??)
  • That my hand remain steady, my eyes clear, my soul easily inspired.
  • That no child will ever see a hand raised to injure them, and the ones lost find a way back home.
  • That goes for pets, too.
  • That I never forget to tell and show those I love that I do.
  • That even though I posted this lame end of the year entry, you all will bear with me and stick with me for another year.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

THE Gift

Been very busy as of late getting ready to start college. I had no idea it was such an involved process. I guess I ignorantly assumed I would just march in and sit down and begin.

I have had to chase down health records . . . which after all that chasing left me with having to get shots anyway . . . been shuffled from one building to another, been given a new appreciation for reasonably close parking to a destination (only 3 blocks away? How fortunate!) and have filled out at least a pound of paperwork.

But it is worth all the fuss . . . I'm in!
I'm the first member of my family to go to college.

A Christmas gift above all other gifts.

Hope all of you have a splendid Christmas/Winter Solstice/Kwanzaa/Chanukah.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Fini Revenir de Suite

Managed to get together and paint with fellow artist and good friend Ellen Zisholtz this weekend. This was my first experience painting with someone, and I am hooked! We cranked up Springsteen, went into our corners and fought with our respective canvases. It was energizing to be able to bounce ideas around and receive instant feedback. No wonder the Impressionists created such masterpieces!

Here's the finished Revenir de Suite (Be Right Back) 8"X10" acrylic on canvas.

Rainbow Painter

Well, I've gone and done it. Really gone and done it.

As if I'm not busy enough, as if I don't have more things to do than ever, paintings that need to be painted, etc . . . I just had to pile one more thing on.

I have decided to go to school and get my degree. Full time. And still work. And still paint.

Documenting the whole chain of events that got me to this place in my life would take more time than I have at the moment, and more time than I'm likely to have for a very loooong while. Let's just say an incredibly special someone encouraged me and believed in me, and took steps to make it happen. I won't be getting a free ride, I have to continue to work to see the end to this rainbow. But for the first time in many years, I do see a rainbow, and there is a pot of gold there at the end. All it took was for my someone, my mentor, to sit me down and paint the picture for me. Thank God she's an artist, and a very fine painter.

I'm going to get my BS in Art Education. So I can paint pictures like the one painted for me.

Photo courtesy of Darwin Bell.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Revenir de Suite

I finally got back to my easel!!! It's been entirely too long . . . and oh how I missed it! I set aside some time this past weekend and worked on a painting I started a few weeks (months?) ago. The brushes in my hand felt heavenly, working with and mixing the paint like a reunion with a long ago friend.

Here's my painting, revenir de suite, (Be Right Back) which isn't quite finished, still on the easel, and a corner of my studio.

What has kept me away from my first art love has been another form of creativity - writing. I've begun the first ever art blog for my town's newspaper. I get to make people aware of what's happening art wise, and I hope to joggle a few folks into realizing art is as necessary as other forms of commerce, even more so. To those of us who create, and those who appreciate the creations, it is our lifeblood, our reason for being, not just a way to make a buck, although making a living off our compulsion is nice, too. I find it exciting, and a bit scary. I intend to trumpet the artists and the artists' creations, to show how much richer we are with them around.

The blog is called Drawing Attention. I hope you all like it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Artist Jonathan Green

South Carolina artist (he now resides in Florida) and native son Jonathan Green graciously granted an interview with me. I have always admired his work - the colors, the joie de vivre that is so abundant in his paintings. Here are his thoughts on art and culture, and the role they play in our lives.

"Marsh Woman" 1999
Copyright 2006 Jonathan Green Studios, Inc.

What are your thoughts on the role of artists and what
specific needs do they fulfill?

Artists are our shamans, their role is to record and inform visually- through music, through dance- the culture. Artists create and through that creativity the culture can be remembered for all time. Every community needs artists - they are vital.

What inspires you?

The now. What I'm feeling, doing, seeing, drinking, eating . . . all that and more.

What is your day like?

It depends on the season. In the Fall I'm up later, around 4:00 AM, and I work until the sun goes down, about 5:00 or 6:00 PM. I take an hour or two for lunch. I work six days a week, I spend the seventh day reading, relaxing.

Do you use studio assistants? Do you stretch your own canvases, etc.?

No, I do it all myself. I want to put time into art, not stretching canvas. I want to implement the imagery I have in my mind. My inspiration, my muse, is always around. I live in my home for my work and for other people - I represent that in my work.

What was your early subject matter, and at what point did you decide to focus on Gullah subjects?

Gullah has always been my subject. As a child I saw and did things and I knew the more one participates the more one is respected and acknowledged. People around me were always working and doing.

How do you support the arts on an individual basis?

I like the younger up and coming artists, and I like WPA art out of Chicago, and African American artists. I devote my life to making sure the imagery of American artists is not forgotten.

What are your thoughts on the way art is taught in public schools?

It isn't taught! It is a wide open field. Art should be taught at the family level. Families need to take the responsibility to support the artists in their family, to nurture that creativity. They should be taught to tap into their intuitive inner feelings . . . which is the importance of family . . . love, food, beauty, history. Art was our first language. The notion of art has nothing to do with an institution - it has to do with family. It needs to be nurtured by family, and the family needs to invest time into the child's vision. 99.9% of families are not supporting their members in the arts. If the family supported the arts, communities would support the arts, then cities, then states, etc. It ALL begins at the family level.

Many visual artists also write. Do you?

No, I speak rather than write. I put a lot of emphasis on speaking.

Can you share where your artistic direction is taking you?

On the first week of March, 2008 I'll be conducting a symposium on "Seeking" - I will start at the Gibbes Museum, then go to the Charleston County Library, Then to the University of South Carolina, and finally end at the College of Charleston. For more information contact Barbara Burgess 843 345-3664.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Still Thankful

It's almost Thanksgiving again, and I suppose I will join the hundreds of other bloggers and report on the season. Not terribly creative or original, I know.

Thanksgiving, however, is a time I look forward to each year. Not for the obligatory food or family get togethers, though. Of course I remember Turkey Day's past, and instances of both family peace and drama.

What is special about the day for me is the call to be grateful, to be thankful, for all things. As I posted last year, here are a few things I'm thankful for:

Leaves that are more beautiful than any painting
The ability to see those leaves
Men and women who have the courage to fight for the freedoms I enjoy, sitting here writing.
Election Day
Friends who love me like we share genetic material
The sound and smell of the ocean
Coffee and chocolate
That feeling you get when you get home after a long day and your dog is wagging all over
A loving, supportive spouse

Have a super Thanksgiving, everybody. (Photo courtesy audreyjm529)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Art Star

I had an opportunity to meet an artist I have admired for a very long time. Jonathan Green, a world renowned South Carolina artist from the tiny hamlet of Garden's Corner (which is nothing but a sign along side the road) was at the Penn Center's Heritage Days. This is an annual event that takes place on St. Helena Island, and is a celebration of Gullah culture.

Jonathan Green's work is a celebration of life, with bright colors, bold compositions, and inhabited by people who are happily going about their life. Seeing his work has inspired me to embrace my cultural heritage; to appreciate beauty and to see it everywhere. His paintings are harmonious and cause me to feel relaxed.

There was a long line to meet him and calendars and other items with his art were for sale.I bought a calendar, and got in line. There were people from all over the state, as well as out of state, there just to meet him. This is the small town guy who made it big.

Finally, my turn came. About six photogs were milling around - my friend Neta snapped my pic with him.

"Hi, Mr. Green! I've been an admirer of your work for a long time . . . if you have time may I have an interview for a blog I write?" Just knowing this man is too busy - look at all the people! He has had a ballet written and performed based on his art; he has awards and degrees . . .

"Sure", he said, "Here's my personal number, give me a call anytime."

Well, I'll be.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Unique Creativity

Creativity can and does come in all forms. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays because of it - it brings out the artist in people who don't, or won't, let it show at any other time of the year. This was evident at my dayjob in the library, when one of the librarians just let her inner Van Gogh burst through . . .

Here's the cake she made, which freaked us all out good. The poem she wrote read,

"Is this a trick?
Or is it a treat?
Is it nasty,
Or is it sweet?

If you're feeling brave,
Then scoop up some and eat!"

Thanks, Julie Knotts . . . it was delicious, by the way.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

One Neighborhood, One River

I am winding down from the busiest month I have ever had in my memory. I am currently catching up on things neglected - housework, yardwork, family, friends . . . slowly but surely.

This past month was exciting, and very rewarding in many ways. One of the rewarding parts was a film that was shown as a part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, Third Ward TX, Directed by Andrew Garrison, produced by Nancy Bless and Noland Walker. I was able to see the showing at our local art museum, the IP Stanback Museum & Planetarium, on the campus of our South Carolina State University, as well as meet Andrew Garrison.

To recap - Third Ward Tx is about a group of artists who remodel a neighborhood's row houses, or "shotgun" houses from the local vernacular (so named because you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and the pellets would go straight out the back door without hitting any walls) . They cleaned up the houses and yards through the generosity of corporate and individual sponsors. Single mothers were allowed to live there rent free for up to two years, as long as they were enrolled in college. The artists used a few of the houses to have exhibitions of their work bi-annually, and community response was enthusiastic and warm.

Seeing this film ignited a great hope in me, and set my mind on fire with possibilities. Artists are the impetus for change, change for the betterment of people. Artists can affect that change, can get the ball rolling, by using their unique ability to see. Artists can and do make the mundane and common beautiful, and can use these powers to translate, to help others see the beauty that is in all things, in all people. As artist John Biggers aptly said, "Art is life".

Another example, on a personal level, is my friend and fellow artist Janet Kozachek. Janet heard about "Environmental Blog Day", where bloggers were encouraged to write a blog along an environmental theme, or "go green" for a day. Well, Janet went one step further; she decided in order to write about the environment, she needed first hand experience. So she went to our local river and picked up trash. She got the attention of a local environmental group, as well as the Mayor, and last Saturday a group of volunteers showed up and cleaned a good portion of the river. Janet uncovered the beauty, allowed others to see, and our community is that much richer because of it.

Be proud, Artists! We can make our world a better place; one neighborhood, one river at a time.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

DiverseArt Success!

Our DiverseArt exhibition for 2007 is now in the annals of history. We had about 150 or so people come and view the art, mingle and generally have a good time. There was a lot of good food, wine, and peach iced tea. There was a lot of laughter, and renewed appreciation for the dedicated artists and their creations that we are fortunate to have in this area. New friendships were begun, and older friendships renewed. It was, as Merriam-Webster would say, "a favorable or desired outcome" . . . the definition of success.

Friday, October 12, 2007

DiverseArt Loosed

OK, it's crunch time! We artists who are showing in DiverseArt are tying up loose ends, finalizing plans. Most of the art has been hung, and the art that will reside on tables will be ready to display early next week. We have been interviewed in our local paper, planned the menu, sent out the invitations. All that remains is for us to show up and showcase our work.

It's exciting to see us come together, working to promote not only our own work, but each of the other's as well. I'm glad to be right here, right now.

It hasn't always been thus. There were times when I'd rather live anywhere but here. But I suppose we all have feelings of doubt and at one time or another are disenchanted with where we happen to be. I haven't had the opportunity to live outside my small geographic area, but I have had the privilege to know many who have. I am amazed at the artists who reside around me, and how varied their backgrounds and perspectives are. I am so thankful to be here and to know so many of them. They have all enriched my life in ways that are as colorful, dynamic and thoughtful as their work.

So, if you are anywhere nearby, please plan to come to the Orangeburg Arts Center Thursday October 18 from 6-8, and meet these fantastic artists (and me!!) and hear their stories. It will be a night and an experience to remember.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Title Trauma

I'm aching to get back to my easel! I have been away from it for far too long.

I started a new painting weeks ago, and really got into the groove; the lose- yourself-in-the-paint, drop-away from-the-world trance you get into when and if you're lucky. Unfortunately I got called away from it and am trying to clear up other obligations so I can get back to it. Here's my progress so far. I have a title that popped in my head as I was working, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with it, but it's at such an early stage I may change up. Titles ooze out of me as I'm working and experiencing the emotions it takes to create a piece. I think they are important, an intimate look into the state of mind of the artist that serves to enhance the connection between artist and viewer.

What do you think? I'm open to ideas. What should this work in progress be called? And nobody better say "Chairs"!!!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

DiverseArt Launch

Had a super day - got to install art at our local Arts Center in preparation of our upcoming exhibition, DiverseArt, this month. DiverseArt was conceived last year after a group of us had a disappointing time trying to sell art at a local festival. It was disappointing trying to sell, it was not disappointing in the camaraderie we experienced. We began talking about how we could get the arts going in our small town. We not only wanted that for ourselves, but we wanted to include other artists in our area, showcase the incredible gold mine of talent and celebrate their diverse perspectives. That brainstorming session led to DiverseArt, which is a group show that exists to give artists a venue and an opportunity to market their work as they speed along on their artistic journey.

We are planning for 300 people to show up for the wine and cheese reception, Thursday October 18 at 6 PM, and we have a fantastic musician on tap, Capers Bull, who will play some "Come On And Buy Some Art" type music on the piano. There will be much laughter, and maybe some singing and dancing. . . one never knows!

We are honored to have, in alphabetical order, Elsie Lewis Fogle, Alice French, Rajas Londhe, George McDaniel, Pennie Sifly, Jo Wyrosdick, and Ellen Zisholtz.

I've been very busy planning, cajoling, exulting, typing, organizing, fretting, crying, laughing . . . and it's not over yet. Oh, no, it's just begun!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eye Thoughts

Had to take my hubby for same day cataract surgery a few days ago - really really early. The sheer volume of surgeries on any given day probably necessitates this, but it's rough getting up and around before the light of day, especially when the "to do" list for that day stretches into the evening hours. The nurses were very efficient and pleasant and I'm impressed when I think of how they have dedicated their lives to the service of others. I'm sure their days are long and strenuous, and at times very technical with all the paperwork they have to do. The definition of "unsung hero".

All went well for hubby, but I was very nervous about the thought of his surgery. To think something as important as eyesight could be lost, with one all too human slip, one meandering thought . . . put a few things in perspective. And it made me thankful - for the time we live in where such surgery has become commonplace; for a loving husband who sees my art and knows the heart it comes from; for the hope that he will be able to continue to see beauty and inspire me with his unique viewpoint.
(Image courtesy of Scott Robinson)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


As an artist, it is extremely important that you have confidence in your ability and vision. This confidence is something that must be acquired, over time. when you first sit or stand before the canvas you may feel nervous or afraid - but push through it. Making a mark, any mark, will speed you on your journey. With each successive piece, it will become easier and easier. Think how hard it must have been for Picasso to explore his unique vision - no one else had ever before done Cubism. Look how radically different it was (and still is!). He stirred the whole art world and became a household name because he had confidence in his own art and ability.

Confidence will enable you to march to your own beat, instead of following blindly what someone else thinks is art. It's important to look around at your environment and listen to what your inner voice is saying. What causes your eyes to well up? What image or thought robs you of sleep? Whatever "IT" is, that is what you must interpret for the world. You do have something someone in the world needs to see, read or hear - we are all waiting to experience it!
Photo courtesy of Kitten Betty.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Exercising Artist

How important is it for an artist to get regular exercise?

I got up this AM feeling a bit overwhelmed and sluggish. It's no secret if you regularly read this blog, or even if you happen to know me personally, that I have a lot on my plate. I'm not whining about it - it's just a fact of my existence. And I don't think I'm anything special when it comes to the degree of busyness - everyone I know is stretched to the limit.

Several years ago I made the commitment to myself to take care of myself. One of the things necessary in doing this is to get regular exercise. I walk almost every day, and the benefits are many. The first and most obvious reason is the physical benefit. Walking is the most natural movement of the human body - simply put, we were designed to walk. As we walk, our heart rate increases and blood is pumped through the veins and arteries. This "stretches" them a bit, and helps to break up plaque that can form on the artery walls. Walking increases blood flow to the brain - which leads me to the next benefit - greater mental acuity. As I said, I woke up a bit sluggish. But when I took my walk, my whole attitude changed in the space of about 10 minutes. I became more aware, and started thinking positively and creatively. Here's a picture I took while on my walk. I'm fortunate that I live in a somewhat rural setting, and some of our property has lots of trees. We had a refreshing rain last night - here is a pine branch still wet.

Now, that should inspire you to go for a walk. You never know what beauty is there, waiting for you to find it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Oh Wilmington

Went to Wilmington for the Labor Day holiday with my bestest buddy. It was wonderful to get away, although I didn't get any art done. I guess sometimes you just need to get away from the daily grind and do something completely different than what your normal self would do. My normal self will tend to stay up late sketching or writing, and get up early with this idea or that idea jostling around in my head for attention. My abnormal Wilmington self seemed to want to go to bed early and read Kerouac's On The Road, and sleep late the next AM. Kerouac has an energy about his writing that takes hold of you. I found myself abuzz with excitement and creative energy, just lying there reading.
Went to the old section, funny how every Southern town I've visited has one - and poked around a bit in an antiques store. Saw these neat old chairs that reminded me of my childhood, when I would visit my grandparent's house in the summer and we would sit outside under the shade tree, in chairs like these. Life was unhurried then, time marked by the lazy flapping at flies with a flyswatter.
Well, back to the current state of things - deadlines, art, and other everyday concerns. But thank heavens for beautiful old cities like Wilmington - where we can still go to be transported back to the past.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Getting Away

One thing about this day and time we live in is how busy everyone is. I've said it here before, that it seems all the devices that were supposed to ease our lives have somehow complicated them and crunched our leisure time down to almost nothing. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad the days of outhouses and picking cotton are over, and I am ever so thankful for laptops, cell phones, and water based oil paints.
But instead of more leisure, we ( and I'm speaking of Americans, I have no knowledge of other countries' workaday habits) have much less.
That's why finding time-saving shortcuts of any kind is always "a good thing". I don't have the luxury of having much time off, but when I do have a chance to escape my everyday hum drum existence, I jump at it. And being the anal retentive mess that I can sometimes be, I prepare myself by checking out online travel sites. There is a neat site I came across, HotelReservations.com that has features and pricing that sets it apart. You can book a hotel, car, flight, cruise, or any combination thereof. You have many destinations to choose from internationally. There is also a cool feature where you can choose a day trip, an hour or six hour drive from the zip code of where you are. The site will find places that fit the bill. This is perfect if, like me, stress tends to sneak up on you, and before you know it you are so overwhelmed you are unable to function. Nothing helps me to de-stress like getting completely out of my environment, going away, and forgetting all my ties and obligations. With this site you can research places, and HotelReservations.com even has a handy button to take you to available hotels and bed and breakfasts, dining, everything you need to have a wonderful getaway.
How nice to be able to find attractions close to home, and very reasonably priced. This is a must in this economy.
I don't know of a better way to get the creative juices flowing. Give this site a look.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dirt Roads

I've been so busy lately. I've had my days jam packed full, and my evenings as well. Everyone I know is just as busy as I am, with no end in sight. I remember as a child watching "The Jetsons" - remember George zooming around in his hovercraft? A hard day at work for Mr Spacely consisted of pushing buttons. What happened to that future?

Anyway, I took some time off last weekend and decided to unplug everything- the computer, cell phone, TV; and went for a ride in the country. I'm fortunate in the fact that I live in a small town, and there are still unpaved dirt roads in rural areas. Going down these roads forces you to slow down, and really see. You might come across a deer bounding in the distance. You most certainly will see some abandoned homesites from a bygone era. I imagine what the day to day lives of the people that lived there were like. What were their hopes, dreams and ambitions?

Find a dirt road. Turn off the AC, roll down the windows. Smell the freshly cut hay and slow down a bit. That e-mail can certainly wait.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Art Birth

A wonderful thing has happened. It may not seem like much to a lot of people, but I think it is quite the accomplishment.

In my small town we have, remarkably, several colleges, and one university, South Carolina State University, but no commercial art gallery. We do have, thankfully, a very good city-owned Art Center.

SCSU has an art museum and planetarium housed in the same building, which I find progressive. That's it in the picture. Last evening myself and other art lovers and supporters met and formed the first ever "Friends of the SCSU Museum and Planetarium" committee. We made plans for upcoming exhibitions and discussed the specifics of increasing the awareness of the importance of art in our community. I am delighted to be a part of this group! Among them is my high school art teacher, Barbara Townsend. She taught me to see, to really see, not just look; the basics of technique and the value of practice and repetition. I am eager to be under her guidance again.

A great thing is about to happen in our community, I just know it. Art has the power, unlike any other thing, to transform minds for the better, to give hope and the gift of expression to those who may not have any other voice. Art heals, art transcends.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Creative Earning Power

No doubt being an artist is one of the most rewarding career choices one can choose. Of course, you have to have the creative spark to begin with. If you hate putting pencil to paper, or brush to canvas, maybe a career in art is not for you. But I believe most human beings have some sort of creative spark. I think it's what distinguishes us from the apes and all other forms of life on this planet. Although there is a bird in Africa, called the Bowerbird, that creates an elaborate mating platform for his potential mates . . . well, I'm getting off subject in a major way!
Anyway, it seems all my artist friends are having the same problem, having a hard time selling any work at the moment. With gasoline going in some parts of the country for $3+ a gallon, and as a result everything else getting more expensive, it's hard to make ends meet.

In my blog searches, I've come across several bloggers who have signed up for PayPerPost. This is a company that will pay a blogger to write about various subjects that advertisers choose. You sign up, and have to be approved before you can see any cash. At first I thought, my goodness, I don't know if I could do something that seems like, well, a sell out. But then as I looked at the situation, I asked myself, what's the difference between writing a post and getting paid and doing a piece of art on commission? Using your talents to create something someone else wants is what most artists do. There's nothing wrong with generating a bit of revenue for the talents that have been given to you, and the skill it took years to cultivate.

Go to PayPerPost.com and look around a bit. You have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Artist Michel McNinch

The following is an interview with someone I really admire. I met her when she came and spoke to our local art group a few years ago. At that time I was wrestling with the decision whether to quit my job and devote all my energies to doing whatever it takes to become a full time artist, or not. She also put her art aside and worked for 20+ years, before "jumping in" art full time. As she told us this, I felt as if Someone was saying, "It will be OK - you can do it, too."
I'll never forget that moment, when all things seemed possible.

1. Why did you become an artist?

I was born an artist. Art has always been what I excelled in. I drew
the best snowman in kindergarten.

2. Who are your heroes?
Heroes…..hmmm….relating to art it would be N.C. Wyeth, John Singer
, and Cecelia Beaux, among many many others. Personally, it
would have to be my husband, Robert. I have never met a finer person on
this earth. No enemies and never backs down…how does he do that?!

3. What artist, work and/or art movement has influenced
you the most?

The artist that influenced me the most was Eva Wilcox Darcy. She was
an amateur artist, but she loved her work and treated it with the utmost
care. It looked like treasure to both of us. She also treasured my
art, and always wanted to look at each piece in length. She encouraged
me. She was also the very first one to ever buy my art. When I said
the price was .50, she gave me $1.00! I think that her encouragement
has made me the teacher I am today. I love to inspire others to enjoy
creating art. I do so by using encouragement. I give classes to adults
and children in Oil, Pastel, and Creativity.

4. What is your inspiration?
My inspiration is usually color and light. Sometimes a person or a
pose will strike me as a good subject, sometimes landscapes catch my
eye. I absolutely love to paint water. Its fluidity and reflective
qualities are challenging to paint.

5. What is your definition of success?
Success to me a painting well done – and an extra canvas for the next one.

6. Where can we find your work?
If you are interested in seeing my work, you can find it on my website
www.michelmcninch.com and at the Gallery at Nonnah’s, Gervais Street,
Columbia, SC. I also do several shows a year, such as Piccolo Spoleto at Marion
Park, and Atalaya Arts Festival at Huntington Beach State Park . I try
to stay busy.

7. And as a nod to Barbara Walters, if you could be any
kind of tree
what kind would you be and why?
I would be a live oak. They live a long time and have a beautiful
shape. There’s always family around, and I would be able to support
many other types of life.

Thanks, Michel. For everything.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Artsy Tattoos

I previously have not given tattoos much thought. I don't have any, not because I think it's a low life thing to do, but rather I have not yet seen anything I'd want on my body permanently. I'm afraid that when I get real old and everything goes south I'll have to deal with some major regret. The things that I find drop dead inspiring today might not be so cool when I get older.

But recently, I came across some on Boing Boing that I find stunning. These tats are medical drawings on the outside of the body, highly detailed and masterfully rendered. I think they are fine works of art.

A very special thanks to Adam Hammer for the photo.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Old Sheldon Church

There is a church in South Carolina, Sheldon Church, that was built before the Revolutionary War. It was torched by the Redcoats when G. Washington and the rest of the enlightened patriots were asserting what would become our independence. Sheldon was rebuilt when the ruckus calmed down, but was burned again when Sherman's army came calling. Her remains stand to this day, proud and defiant, shaded by centuries old moss-covered oaks in the SC Lowcountry.

I have visited this serene, spiritual place many times, and I never tire of it's beauty. When I feel depleted by everyday cares and concerns, I carve out some time to journey there. I think about how much she has seen, the changes she has weathered. The spirits that guard her.

To touch one of her bricks is to touch the hand that formed it, a tangible connection to history. I leave absolutely renewed.

Here is my latest drawing of Old Sheldon, and a photograph to compare it to.

Monday, August 13, 2007

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Some days, this business of doing art seems like an incredibly high mountain. You climb up a ways, straining and clawing, and reach a small ledge, only to discover it is shallow and precariously unstable. you take a deep breath, rest a bit, and continue on. Sometimes you climb effortlessly. Sometimes you slide backwards more than you ascend. Rain comes down, sleet, searing sun and constant wind. Do not lose sight of the peak, don't look down - keep climbing, carefully but confidently.
There is a hiker, Scott Williamson, who has walked 3200 or so miles on what in hiker terminology is called a yo-yo trek - you go a distance then follow your steps back. The hardest part is reaching your destination and then making that long, arduous journey back. When asked how he psyches himself to do this he replied that he creates micro goals. He will set his sights on a tree or a rock, and upon reaching that destination will choose another, so forth and so on. Eventually he makes the journey.
Such is the life of an artist. It is not a life without great joy - there is an indescribable high that is better than any drug when you create a work that resonates with your soul. That is the mountaintop. it can only be attained through much thankless struggle and hard work, sliding down then gaining purchase.
I guess what I'm trying to say in all this is follow your inner vision and creativity no matter how improbable or impossible it may seem. You must. To do less is a crime against the only one that matters - your self. As Scott so aptly put it, "Follow your dreams, keep at it, eventually you'll arrive there."
(photo courtesy of Claudia)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Art & Technology

Has technology changed art and the way artists create?

There is no doubt our world, and in many aspects, our way of life has changed dramatically in the last decade. Primarily, computers have connected all of us. Communicating with a person nearby or on the other side of the world has become commonplace. Through a few clicks of the mouse anyone can interact with almost anyone almost instantly. We can get in touch with fellow artists - like you are doing right now. We can, if we let go of fear and pride, collaborate with each other, learn new ideas and freshen our approach. This is vital. We must change along with our world, use every opportunity and experience to give us an edge.

Inspiration and ideas, though not any easier to communicate with the viewer or reader, are more accessible. You can still go the route of hiring models and setting up props, and according to what mode of expression you use; i.e. figurative, narrative, classic; this may be the best route for you to take. You certainly cannot get all the visual information from a photo that you get from a live model. Doesn't even compare. But, there are worlds of possibility via the internet. Take Flickr for instance. What a rich source of visual images from around the world - all for free!

Art collectors can get to know artists, and in many instances follow the creation process step by step. Patrons want to connect with us, get to know the human being behind the art. I know an artist who at her art receptions tells stories about her work. She is a narrative folk painter, and to get her point across will imitate the way a character walks and talks. She always sells at her shows. The more personable and approachable you are, the more you will connect with the viewer.

We can discover new mediums and materials. Now there are new categories, digital art being one, that would not be possible without this new technology. And as our world has changed, we must change and adapt in order to do what we are impelled to do; communicate that which stirs our souls.

"The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost, by virtue or by vice,
by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

(Digital art courtesy of saidunsaids )

Monday, August 6, 2007

Kozachek Mosaic

Finally, a few days of productivity! I feel as if I accomplished something this weekend. By my puny little standards at least.

Began several works to add to the Rita Smith Gallery, and helped fellow artist and friend Janet Kozachek set up her new blog. She made this beautiful mosaic for me. That's the image of it there, to the left. She created it as I was telling her a bit about my background, my inspirations and hopes. It's solid and textural. The pieces were carefully placed, and each element has more than one meaning. It is already priceless.

This is one artist you will want to know. Click here to see her blog

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A Dream Realized

Yesterday was an important day for me. A milestone. I hung my work at my first gallery, the Rita Smith Gallery in Columbia, SC. RSG is a small co-op of very diverse and talented SC artists, who I am looking forward to getting to know. Rita Smith is a real person, a very talented artist in her own right, who has owned and operated several galleries over the years. She genuinely cares about all the artists showing, and has developed long friendships with many of them. I am fortunate and honored to be under her wings.

After the grunt work, Jean Bourque came by & we had lupper (a meal between lunch and supper). We talked and laughed - go to her blog and ask her to describe how she adopted her chihuahua Toffee - it's a story you won't forget! I described a part of my long journey getting to my first gallery. . .

I grew up in a hardworking family whose members had lots of love for each other but very little economic opportunity or education. Having a daughter who wanted to pursue art was frowned upon by almost everyone, except my brother, Ron. Ron was the middle child, I am the baby, with a big age gap in between. I was probably a "whoops". Ronnie moved to NYC soon after high school, and became a successful cosmetologist. He and I stayed in close touch. He saw a latent talent, and encouraged and expected me to ardently sketch and mail him my work. He came home several times a year, with gifts of art supplies for me. He nurtured and cared for me, and respected and understood my dreams.

In my 16th year, Ronnie had an accident, falling from the 3rd floor of his apartment building. He survived, but was in a body cast for 3 months. We talked on the phone every week while he was laid up, sometimes more. We made plans. I was to apply to colleges in NY, and live with him while I went to art school.

I remember him calling with the news the doctors were letting him go home - he was doing well. Would I come and see him? I had never flown, he was making arrangements for a friend to escort me. Hesitantly, I said sure.

3 days later his lungs collapsed. He died in his sleep.

Yesterday was his birthday.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Martha Stewart As Artistic Inspiration Part 2

Continued from yesterday:
6. Quality. This is a cornerstone, and should always be on your mind. Stated simply, do the very best you can do at all times, in all aspects of your work. Choose the best paints and brushes you can afford, the best canvas and frames. Make sure your works on paper are archival - you don't want your work to fall apart within a few years. Take care of your projected image - make sure your business cards and other promotional materials look professional. You are your own brand - If you can't project yourself as knowledgeable about your art, then how can you sell it? After all, your art is a part of you.
7. Allow Others To Help You. We artists are an independent bunch. We think we can do it all - that when it comes to our art only our individual voice matters. Not true. Allow others to give you feedback, and listen to what they have to say. If your work hangs in a cafe, pay attention to not only what the owner and patrons think of it, but what the wait staff thinks as well. Art should speak to everyone. Ask advice from fellow artists, don't be shy. Especially those older than you - learn how they do things.
8. Don't Be Afraid Of Making Mistakes. Face it - you will make them. That's the only way, however, to really improve. Leonardo DaVinci made many - The Last Supper was a huge one. He painted it using experimental paint binding agents instead of the tried and true fresco, and it began falling off the wall it was painted on almost immediately, as well as attracting mold. Imagine if he would have destroyed this "mistake"! The world is still discovering subtleties and new symbolism in this masterpiece.
9. Risks. With life comes risk. To get out of bed every day is a risk. To stay in bed is a risk. There is no safe passage. Expand your artistic voice . . . if you are an abstract artist, try pottery. Send out a query to a gallery, risk being rejected. If you are turned down, so what? There are thousands of galleries. Get some work online - it only requires a little time and a digital camera. Someone in the world needs to see your art.
10. Make It Beautiful. Surround yourself with beauty, and it will make not only your art better, but improve your outlook. Plant some flowers. Paint a room your favorite color. Decorate with objects and symbols you love, that mean something to you. Maybe even get a tattoo, if it makes you feel beautiful.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Martha Stewart As Artistic Inspiration Part 1

OK, I know a lot of you will think I've lost it completely after reading that title. "She's been artistically challenged a bit too long" and "Egad, maybe she is a starving artist after all and is not getting enough nutrients to the brain". But wait - let's look at this . . .
I have finished reading "The Martha Rules - 10 Essentials For Achieving Success As You Start, Build, or Manage A Business" and there are parallels. The 10 essentials are passion, having a big idea, examination of your goals, giving back, growth, quality, allowing others to help you along the way, using your mistakes, taking risks, and making it beautiful. Please note these are not the actual names of the 10 essentials; I sorta paraphrased. After all, this is an art blog, and I'm trying to make a point. You will just have to read the book to get the real 10 essentials!

These elements can help us as artists. Here's how:

1. Passion. We all know we must have that, because no one in their right mind would go through all the stuff we do just to create and show our art. Do what you can to keep it alive; go on a trip to a new place, take a class, hob-nob with other artists.

2. A Big Idea. In this case I mean the fact that we deign to create in the first place, that's a Big Idea. Think of a concept and present it in a new and different way. Sketch a different perspective of that still life, paint that portrait from a different angle. I'm reminded of Stephen Spielberg, his Big Idea changed the way movies were made.

3. Goals. We must have attainable goals. And really, all goals are attainable, some just take more work and effort than others. For example, if I have 2 goals, one being to finish a painting by next week, the other being to finish 6 paintings by next week, both goals are attainable, it's just that the first one will be easier to achieve than the latter one. Set a few easier to reach goals. Accomplishing them will spur you on to bigger and better achievements.

4. Giving Back. This is important. We must help others along the way if we are to expect any kind of satisfaction through our work. It can be as simple as showing a child how to draw a tree, or as complex as owning and operating a gallery to further other artist's careers.

5. Growth. We must continually grow and expand as artists. We must look at art, discuss art, and create as much as we can. We should try different mediums and styles, just for the fun of it. Think of a different way to present your art to the world; greeting cards, lampshades - I have a friend who painted a rug on her floor - you should see people trying not to trip on the wrinkle she included!
Well, there you have five. Tomorrow I'll expound on the next five. Until then . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Myspace As Artistic Expression

Been doing a little web surfing lately. I checked out Myspace, just for fun. And fun it can be. It can also eat up a good portion of your day, if you're not careful.
Just for curiosity's sake, I looked up Neil Diamond (I'm a fan, and I thought he might be available to chat with, since I'm sure he has nothing better to do on a Tuesday but lurk on Myspace) and would you believe there are 100 + Neils? Pictured is a screenshot of, I'm sure, the real one. It says right there under the caption Who You'd Like To Meet, " I'd like to meet you, baby!" There's his autographed picture and everything!!!
One thing struck me, though - the amount of self expression and artistry involved in this. You can modify your page to fit your personality, showcase your likes and dislikes, like a page out of an old fashioned scrapbook. There are websites that provide code for animations, backgrounds and the like to be inserted on your page. You can have Beavis and Butthead rocking to Metallica or Jesus appearing and disappearing into graphics that read "The Name Above All Names". You can have a glittery seizure-causing flash background, or a serene lake scene.
One thing for sure, people have an innate need to express themselves. I think that's part of the popularity of Myspace - anyone can put a little or a lot of themselves into their pages. The variety and level of customization is astonishing. Regular people are expressing themselves artistically!
Artists will always use the tools available to them, and the Internet and sites like Myspace and YouTube that allow a high level of user interaction should remain popular. From the earliest cave drawings self expression has been a crucial part of what it means to be human. That imperative, that need, won't go away as our technology increases. Human beings will use the tools available, whatever they may be, to create art and make the world a better place.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

When Your Muse Takes A Vacation

I'm in trouble. I have art to do, and can't seem to get going. I know it's in there somewhere, after all I do call myself an artist. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. And horror of horrors, today I seem to have a waning desire to do any art at all.
I even made a list of what I needed to get done today.
A. I needed to get started on my next piece, which means I
1. Need to get some sketching done, which will help me to
*Work out composition, viewpoint
So on and so forth.
What I got done so far . . .
1. I woke up
2. I had Cheerios
3. I had coffee
4. I did yard work (in Amazon forest- like humidity)
5. Went to The Grocery Store.
Now I'm stuck. earlier in the week, when I was shackled to something else, all I could think about was having today to get to my pencil and brushes. Oh Joy! I thought, I will be able to produce like mad. I will ride the wave of boundless Creativity! I will soar to the heights of Inspiration! Yeah, right.
I am learning, though, that this happens to everybody. The trick is to go on and make yourself take up the pencil. I have, and though it took me doing some warm up work to get going, I did get going. I haven't completed what I thought I would, but making the attempt will carry you further than not making any attempt at all. Having said that, there are times when you just need to relax and give your muse time to catch back up with you. Sometimes you just need to do something else for a while, give your mind a little rest. The more you create, the more in tune you will become with your own unique rhythm. Like waves on a beach that come in and recede, yet the ocean itself stays constant.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview with Colleen Patricia Williams

Colleen Patricia Williams is an extremely gifted artist who lives in Portland, Oregon. There she is, on the left. She creates pieces designed to stir your emotions, and make you think more deeply and appreciate color. After successfully raising her children, Colleen felt the need to dive back in to her art. In 2003 she suffered an accident that almost took her life. In nearly constant pain, she courageously continues to paint, gaining from her experience a deep appreciation for life. Here's a few questions I asked her:
1. How did you get started as an artist? According to my aunt, I got my start young, making toothpaste sculptures out of my little brother's hair. From there I progressed to mud on any available wall space.
2. Where can we find your work? I have my own website, www.colleenpatriciawilliams.com, and I also have an art rep, Dawne, of Zebra Creations. I've just signed a contract with Off The Canvas Gallery in Canada, for prints of some of my images.
3. What message(s) are you trying to convey? Well, I'm more into shapes, colors and forms than I am any message. I prefer that the viewer's emotional response come from within them, not from any external statement on my part. I don't want to define the viewer's experience; I want them to define it for themselves. I provide the image, and they take it from there.
4. What artist, work or movement has influenced you the most? That one is pretty easy. Georgia O'Keeffe and Wayne Thiebaud. I love the colors of both artists. And the light from Rembrandt! I can only hope to achieve that level of mastery!
5. How do you find inspiration? I can't get away from it. I have learned that I have to be careful while driving. I can get distracted by something very easily. My husband says I'm the master at the mad right turn, LOL!
I really can't get away from the images. Sometimes they wake me up, and won't let me sleep again until I have them on paper, at least.
6.If you could have any job in the world what would it be? Pagan Queen of my Very Own Universe, LOL! Seriously, I would love to be able to make a living doing my art. I'm lucky, in that I have a very supportive husband, and a very supportive ex-husband. They both are invaluable to the cause!
7. Who are your heroes? That one is also easy. The regular working stiff that gets up everyday, and goes to work to support the family. The moms that raise the kids, and the grammas and grandpas that help out. The average human that forges ahead even when it hurts. I often feel that part of the problems in our society is the undervaluation of the working families. There is too much desire to want to be eternally young, to be "someone". What the average person needs, is to realize that we are all someone special. Just like art, each person is unique and each brings something different to the table.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Art And Fear

Just got finished reading a terrific book titled Art and Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING by David Bayles and Ted Orland. These writers understand the issues we artists face with an uncanny insight, spotlighting them in fine detail. This book addresses the complex internal issues facing artists and gives workable solutions that allows us to reach our full potential. Orland and Bayles reveal the core of the artist psyche, what role talent plays in the equation (you will be surprised) and some good tips on how to avoid falling by the wayside and becoming the cliched "has-been" artist. There's a section on art in the academic world; the unique struggles art teachers and administrators face, as well as the trials and tribulations of being an art student. It draws interesting comparisons between art, science and math, as well as painting, sculpture, writing and music.

This is a book every artist should have at their disposal. Although only 122 pages, it is full of insight, advice, and understanding of what it means to be an artist and the everyday struggles we face, both seen and unseen. It's good to know we are not alone in our struggles. Indeed, it connects us to artists of every age, from the cave painters to Warhol. We are all part of a distinguished and select group of people.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How To Set Youself Apart From The Pack

How do you set yourself apart from the pack? Here's some suggestions:

1. Constantly hone your skills. Buy a small notebook, doesn't have to be anything fancy, doesn't even have to be from an art supply store, and sketch at every opportunity. Buy one small enough to fit in your purse or pocket, and when waiting at the doctor's office, or for the bus or subway, or just waiting at a grocery store, pull it out and start sketching something or someone you see around you. You will be amazed how much faster the time will go when doing something productive. That being said . . .

2. It ain't all about talent, baby. In these days of global connectivity, you must have a bit more. Educate yourself in marketing of some sort. It has been said creating art takes about 40% of your time, promotion takes the other 60%. Go to events and gallery shows in your area, no matter how insignificant you may think they are. Have good quality business cards printed (no, DO NOT print them yourself on your desktop printer!) and pass them out. When going out to a restaurant, leave one with your tip. You never know who will see it. Post them on any bulletin board that will let you ( I've posted mine at my vet's office and doctor's office).

3.Use the resources of the Internet. This is a wealth of information right at your fingertips. If you need to know how to do encaustic, or even what encaustic is, all you have to do is look it up. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a wealth of information so available to so many people. If you don't have Internet access available in your home, most libraries readily do. And speaking of libraries . . .

4. Use your library. There are so many books, all for free! They're books with fantastic color plates on many major artists and their works. How to books on watercolor, drawing, oil. They're books on marketing, finances, how to write a resume - on and on. All good tools to further your career.

5. Get to know other artists. I know as an artist myself, we have to have a certain amount of time alone to create and to think about creating. But we must not overlook the value in getting to know our peers. We need to bounce ideas around, expand our knowledge and deepen our connections with each other. Don't be afraid someone will "steal your idea" - that's simply not possible. If 10 artists paint the same apple, it will have 10 different looks. Don't let jealousy and other negative emotions rob you of enriching yourself. Social connections make us better artists.

6. Get out of your comfort zone. Try a different medium from time to time. If you are an oil painter, try acrylics. If you are a fabric artist, try pottery. It's good to keep your brain constantly stimulated, and your creativity flowing in different directions.
(photo courtesy of Mirko Tobias Schaefer)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Animal Crackers

After what seems to me to be an unusually looong time, I finally finished my latest piece. This one seemed to be a bit more of a struggle than usual. Could be I've had too many distractions. I had to purposely carve out time for this painting, do a little here and a little there, think about it then think some more. Here it is, Animal Crackers, 16"X20" acrylic on canvas. Thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Peaceful Discussion

Met with our local sketch group today for our monthly meeting. As always, it was good to see everyone and talk about what's going on in each of our lives and careers. Today we had quite a spirited discussion on politics, religion and abortion. Now, in today's climate, the combination of any one of those subjects could become quite explosive. You have to be careful, folks are stressed out and sometimes a little crazy. I've been around a lot of different people, from all socio-economic and educational backgrounds, but I have to say I believe artists, as a group, are some of the most socially conscious and intelligent people around. No, I did not agree with some statements that were made, but we were able to discuss, not argue. I am appreciative of my friends' point of view; I understand but don't have to agree.
Maybe it's because artists, in the process of creating, have to think broadly. I don't think it's possible to be an artist and be narrow minded. Of course, I could be incorrect, I don't know all people of the earth. But I think I'm more right than wrong.
Artists can change the world, one sketch at a time.
Oh, I did get a little work done - here's my sketch of a wood duck nesting box on the river^^^

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I Have To

Do you ever feel just, well, beat up?

Have you ever had a vision of a piece - an idea, an inspiration that comes with unexpected force? You dream about it. Maybe you need to research how another artist approached certain elements. You go to the library, or look online. maybe you sketch out your composition, maybe you go directly to canvas; the one you painstakingly stretched and primed. You mix your paints, prepare your cleaning solutions, turn on the answering machine, load your brush and make the first stroke.

After soaring highs, basement level lows, much cursing, your piece is done. If you're lucky, and have gallery representation, your piece goes there. You wait and hope someone will understand your struggle, hear your voice, and pay money for the privilege of having it speak to them in their home. If you don't have a gallery you still wait and hope, maybe put the piece online, hit the streets with it.

The beat up part comes with the waiting, waiting, hoping, praying, critiques from friends and family who overnight have become art experts. Why continue this self torture?
Speaking for myself, the answer is simple. Maybe too much so. I have to.
The smell of the paint, the feel of the brush in my hand - the work that sparks to life. . . this is in the cells of my body. Even if no one else appreciates or can see what it is I'm trying to express, I must try, I must.

For more years than I want to admit to, I denied the artist within, and was miserable. I was like a fish thrown up on a high bank, gasping, struggling to get back into the water.
Of course, I still struggle, but in many ways the path is much smoother. Art has done that for me. Given me a voice, my voice.

(Image courtesy Darwin Bell - Click to see his fantastic photos)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Holiday Departure

The Independence Day holiday is here and a lot of my friends and family will be at the beach. Sadly, I won't be among them. But here's a little something for them all.

As a dog lover and an absolute beach fanatic, I thought this was perfect. People with kids - I feel for you all! Everybody have a safe and happy Fourth!
The cartoonist is Paul Gilligan, the name of the strip is Pooch Cafe. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Noteworthy Blogs

OK, I've been "tagged". I'm it. Got nominated for the "Thinking Blogger Award". My mission is to nominate five other noteworthy blogs that make me think. Here's some that I read regularly and enjoy:

Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog - this guy is very positive and really makes a lot of sense. His blog is full of great advice, from starting your own business to how to cook brown rice.

Arts & Stuff by Susan Borgas - Susan is an Aussie artist who gives step-by-step instruction on how to create art, and when I say step-by-step I mean really detailed and helpful, like how she arranges her pastels to enable her work to flow, which causes her to not waste time looking for a certain color, as well as the struggles we as artists all experience. She has taught me to look in unexpected places for inspiration.

Art News Blog - I'm a news addict, but in todays world, and with today's headlines, being a news addict can drive you batty. This is a good alternative. You learn about what's going on in the world of art, the latest trends and what some of the major galleries are showing. Just don't let that Damien Hurst skull get you down . . .

Finding Yourself Despite Yourself - This is just plain good, funny writing. The author is a mother of 3 and writes about her life and thoughts. Think Erma Bombeck of the 21st century. Sometimes you just need to laugh - this fits the bill.

Winsome Gunning Artwalk - OK, if you want to think, I mean really give those neurons a workout, this is the one for you. This blogger thinks deeply about art and life in general, and connects art with the spiritual side of things. She uses poetry and images to get her message across.

Well, there you have my five. I could list more, as I'm discovering great blogs everyday. I'll do an update from time to time.

So, numbers one through five, I'm passing it to you! If you accept your mission, your task is below.


and I have to break the rules and list one more: Artsails1 - This blog has become absolutely indispensible for up to date news and info about everything art related in South Carolina. It makes me think of different venues and ways to promote myself. Any artist anywhere can benefit from this blog, not just Sandlappers.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Risking It All

To what lengths would you go for art? Do you live, breathe, exist for art?
I saw a piece on television about a group of men who, during World War II, risked everything to preserve great works of art and keep them out of harms way during Hitler's nefarious reign. There is also a book written by Robert Edsel called Rescuing Da Vinci (there's the picture at the right) I haven't had the opportunity to read it yet, but it has some really good reviews. These approximately 400 enlisted and civilian men and women formed an organization called Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Program, or The Monuments Men for short. Comprised of members from the countries of France, Russia, China, Britain and the United States, they sought out priceless works that had been stolen by Hitler's army or hidden away for safekeeping. Upon finding a treasure, they spent countless hours cataloguing, removing and packing, and safeguarding the works. Some of the plundered pieces include works by Michelangelo, Jan Van Eyck, Da Vinci, Bellini, and Botticelli.
Can you imagine not having these master works to receive inspiration from? I can't.
If not for the bravery of these men and women, we may not have the privilege of looking upon a Da Vinci or Van Eyck. Can you imagine never having seen David's veined hand or Mona Lisa's smile?
After the war, many members became employed, and became involved in building, some of the greatest art museums in the United States. The National Gallery of Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are just two such institutions.
So go out on that limb, take a risk. It will probably not be required of you to go to the incredible lengths The Monuments Men did. But you can do little things; teach a child watercolor, show an older person how to take a digital photograph. All these things add up, and can have a positive impact on our world.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Interview With Jean Bourque

The following is an interview with artist
Jean Bourque

1. How do
you express
through art?

i.e. what medium
do you primarily use?

Currently; I am expressing myself with a series
related to interior
spaces. I am using mainly acrylics & pastels on
pre-stretched canvas.In this series,
I have doors, walls and windows
and the question of which way to go. While
one thing remains a
constant in my work is my unusual perspective, partly due
to bad
visionand partly due to having my own perspective on the world;
many find unusual. I am finding my paintings are more open
and less cluttered, I am more free
and less critical.

2. What galleries are currently showing your work?

I have my work at Ward-Nasse Gallery in Manhattan, NYC. I also am
showing in SC at The Enchanted
Forest in West Columbia, SC,
Seven Oaks Park in Columbia, SC; The Earth Fare, The Bank of

America at Richland and Main in Columbia and I have an
upcoming show at The Starving Artist in West
Columbia starting
June 30th for the month of July. In addition; I will have an art
reception in
Orangeburg at Thee Matriarch on Tues. July 17th
from 5-8 pm; during the Top Chef
Tuesday Monthly event.
I am on about ten web sites all over the world.

3. What motivates you?

I am motivated by challenges which offer an opportunity for
self expression, to explore and grow
intellectually and to lead
others in the same. Artistically; I get motivated to create
around other
artists, art events, music, plays, at the beach,
in the mountains, seeing an abstract pattern in nature,

contemporary designs, buildings, skylines, city views,
getting new art materials and when I want to solve
a personal dilemma.

4. Who are your heroes? Please include at least one artist.

I look up to the artist Frida Kahlo and admire her very much.
She was her
own person which was unusual for a woman,
during her life time. She was able to
use her art as a way
to of overcoming a very traumatic experience and then

progressed to tell her life story through her art. I also
admire Vincent Van
Gogh. Even though people laughed
at him; he did his art anyway. He was true to

his self and in that the world has come to know the
genius that no one knew
back in his day. I see myself in
both of their stories and although I am not
exactly like
either of them; I may be a combination of both of them.
Vincent and myself all have been driven to paint.
I have that passion, they both had.

5. If you could have any job in the world, what
would it be?

Being a friend of the universe is the most
important job I have.

6. What single work of art has inspired you the most?

This answer will change from time to time. At one time;
I would have said
"Water Lillies" by Monet. Now, I would
say I am deeply inspired by a piece of
artwork by Kandinsky.
I have three of his prints and any one of them would be

the number one. Other times; I may say something by
Peter Max, Miles Batt,
Georgia O'Keefe, Salvadore Dali,
Picasso, Matisse, Frida Kahlo, "Starry Starry
Night" by
Van Gogh, works by Miro...the list goes on and on. I
sold framed
art on the road; so I have seen more
art than most people.

7. Finally, the Barbara Walters question - if you
could be a tree
what kind would you be and why
(Sorry, I just had to!!)

Although I love the redwood trees in California; I
would have to be a Palm tree. Since I was a little kid;
I always thought they were the most beautiful.

Thank you Jeanee! If you have not met this talented,
warm individual, you
should, and as you can see she
is all over the place, so there are lots of

opportunities to bump into her and enjoy her beautifully
expressive work in person. You won't be sorry you did!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Want To Achieve Your Dreams?

Want to achieve your dreams? Start by shunning negative thoughts and deeds. Yep, I think it's that simple.

I'm firmly convinced nothing of any importance will be gained through negativity. Say, for instance, you work hard at a job you hate all day, or night, one that sucks the life right out of you. When you come home, what do you do with your time? Sinking in front of the TV, vegetating for a while, though tempting, will not get you away from where you are in your current situation, to where you want to be. The only thing that will put you on a path to a better life is to use as much of your free time as possible to get positive. What do I mean?

One thing to do is to break up your free time into blocks, say 30 minutes or one hour, and in that time do something positive that will get you where you know you need to be. Take 30 minutes a day and sketch a tree or a face, honing your skill. Take 30 minutes or an hour to read a how-to book on a subject you're passionate about; take 30 minutes or an hour to connect with people online who know more than you do about a chosen subject.
You will immediately feel better about yourself. Notice I didn't say soon or someday. The reward of doing something positive, no matter how small it may seem, will have an instant effect. You can't get that kind of satisfaction from watching "Desperate Housewives". And the really neat thing is that one positive thing leads to and attracts other positive things and people to you, just like a refrigerator attracts magnets.

Three years ago I was in a dead end job, thinking there wasn't anything better. Someone put "The Purpose Driven Life" in my hands, and it was one of the things that changed my life. I began to think differently, began to abolish negative thoughts. Maybe I did have value - maybe my talent and love of art was no accident, it could become my vocation. My best friend had a birthday coming up - I drew her house as a gift (positive step) She liked it and told alot of people (positive leads to positive) Other people started giving me commissions (like refrigerator + magnet).

Amazingly, your dreams will begin to come true. You can have the life you want - it's right there - ready for you to take hold of it.