outflows and inflows of creativity

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.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nuclear Vision

Last Tuesday evening I was honored to be one of the artists involved in Top Chef Tuesday's, an event hosted by Rachelle Jamerson at a wonderfully restored historic house called Thee Matriarch. People came from all over to sample fantastic cuisine, fine wine, and listen to the soulful jazz of Del Rae. I was privileged to meet artist, art marketer and blogger Jean Bourque, who I suspect really has 8 arms; how else can she do all the amazing things she does?

That in itself is good enough, but what is really worthy of writing and talking about is the fact that it happened in the first place. You see, Orangeburg, where the event took place, is a very small town, with very little art presence. There are plenty fine, accomplished artists around, and many people who love and support the arts, and sacrifice time and money to make sure at least some art "happens". But as far as I know, and Lord knows I don't know all that takes place, this is the first event where so many distinctive artists have gotten together under one roof. So many beautiful and interesting people were there, colors and textures everywhere you looked. All because one woman, who has as much energy as a nuclear reactor, knows that art is essential, has the power to unite a community. There she is, in the top picture, with guest Omar Benjamin, beaming.

In the picture bottom left is the treasure known as Del Rae, making beautiful music. Bottom right is Orangeburg County Library Director and hat afficionado Paula Paul (yes, that's her real name!) with a hat by Christopher's Originals.

Rachelle Jamerson is a rare bird. She is a woman with a vision, and with enough energy and ideas to carry it out. Few things are guaranteed in life, but one of the things that is, if you ever meet her, you will leave inspired.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


It's amazing what one can accomplish with a little tenacity. I recently read an article on Art News Blog about Nathan Sawaya, an artist who uses Lego bricks as his medium of choice. He is currently having his first solo show at the Lancaster Museum of Art in Lancaster, PA , to sold out crowds. He received his first set of Legos as a Christmas present, and the passion began. He went to work making a model city, eventually taking up the living room of his parent's house. As he grew older he continued to "play" with his bricks. He graduated law school, became a lawyer, and in the evenings would come home and unwind by building things.

In 2004 he entered the competition for a nationwide search for a Lego master builder, and won. He gave up his lawyering, and became a full time Lego artist.

Who would have ever thought you could make a career out of something like that? Many times I get discouraged at how my art career is going, and every artist I know has similar struggles. But here's a guy who continued on. I'm sure a lot of people thought he was/is nuts. Didn't matter, he had determination and drive, and was adament about expressing himself on his own terms.
So I'm going to be thinking about Nathan those times when it seems nobody gets what I'm saying, when it would be so much easier to just clean my brushes and go to bed, when selling a painting is equivalent to climbing Everest.
(Photo compliments of Windell H. Oskay, www.evilmadscientist.com)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Out of Nowhere

Sometimes the most wonderful opportunities come seemingly out of nowhere. You can be going along, conducting your day to day routine activities, and along comes mysterious chance. This happened to me week before last when I was approached about being at a reception featuring other diverse artists, for one night only. The others include jazz vocalist Del Rae, author Barbara Randall Clark, and a food artist, myself being the sole painter. This may not sound like such a big deal to a lot of people, but I live in a very small town with very small opportunities for artists of any kind, much less for others of different disciplines.
The brainchild of this enterprise is local business owner and former Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Rachelle Jamerson. Her business, Rachelle's Island, houses an eclectic array of unique goods, from clothes she has designed herself, to handmade jewelry, even a travel agency (I suppose if you can't find it at Rachelle's she'll send you where you can!) This soiree is going to be held in a historic house that Rachelle has lovingly restored and dubbed Thee Matriarch, Tuesday June 19 from 5-8 PM. There it is above ^^ Isn't it beautiful? If you find yourself anywhere close please drop in.
As artistic opportunities in smaller towns and cities seem to dwindle, it is heartening that there are people still around who see the necessity of art, and are willing to bring it to the forefront. Art encourages, art inspires, lifts us up from the mundane and allows us to touch the clouds.

Monday, June 11, 2007


What is gratitude and why do we need it? Here's the dictionaries' take:

"Gratitude - 'gra-t&-"tüd, -"tyüd Function: noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Medieval Latin; Anglo-French, from Medieval Latin gratitudo, from Latin gratus grateful: the state of being grateful : THANKFULNESS " - Merriam-Webster

It's very easy to get out of "the state of being grateful"; there are always bills to pay, and sometimes not enough funds to pay them, demands from family and friends when all we really want to do is get started or get finished with that piece of artwork, maybe a boss from hell is jumping on your last nerve. The days fly by and it seems we get nowhere.
But if we can put the brakes on for just a moment, take a breath, there is something in each day we can be thankful for. A child spontaneously putting their hand in yours, the first rose bloom after a bleak winter, the light in a loved one's eyes when they see you again.
As an artist I am thankful to be able, although inadequately, to express my feelings visually, to be able to connect to another human being in such an intangible way. As Picasso so eloquently put it,
"The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape..."
Now, to my mind, that's something to be proud of, a special gift. Each experience in life can transform us, our art, into an ever changing kaleidoscope, a beauty to behold.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When To Stop

How do you know when you're finished with an art project?
I normally don't have a problem in this area - I stop when:

1. I don't have anything else to say
2. I am so sick of it I can't stand to look at it anymore
3. I run out of paint and don't have the $ for more
D. All of the above

Lots of artists agonize over this. I think it's comparable to a locomotive gathering steam going up a steep grade, when it goes down the other side it gains speed and momentum and it's damn near impossible to stop. We think (I'm putting myself in this, applies to me too) "Just one more color here" or "I need to flesh this out a bit more", but if we're not careful, very careful, we can lose the whole message we were trying to convey in the first place. Like bread, like pasta, there is such a thing as overdone. It is helpful to step back from it for a few hours, a few days, take a break and come back with fresh eyes. Here's a neat thing to do - if you can, turn the piece upside down. You will see it with whole new eyes, and thus using the other side of your brain will help you to have more balance in your piece. This has helped me many times, I'm sure it will help you, too. Listen to your inner creative voice, don't second guess yourself. (Image courtesy of Kevin McCarthy)

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Jackson Pollock Find?

Saw a documentary about Terri Horton, a lady truck driver who found a piece of art at an antique store. She bought it for $5 as a gift for a friend, who thought it godawful ugly, was insulted, and didn't want it. So Terri put it in a yard sale, where it was spotted by an artist who suspected it could be an undiscovered, authentic Jackson Pollock. Terri, who had no idea who Pollock was, hired art experts, contacted dealers and everyone else she could think of, to try and prove it's authenticity. She has been told if it is the real deal, it could be worth upwards of 3o million dollars. She has been offered 2 million, 9 million, on up, but she has refused these offers. 15+ years have passed, and the argument continues.
Why won't she take the money, move out of the trailer park she has lived in for many years, quit driving the big rig; live the good life?
Terri Horton did something unusual. She took another look at what she once thought was unusual, confusing, ugly. Whether or not is a genuine Pollock, it looks like a Pollock, and something of the artist communicated with Terri Horton. This truck driving, trailer park dwelling grandmother did something we can all learn from; she has listened to her heart, taken a second look, a deeper look.
A part of the artist is embedded in his/her art. The layers of life, the emotions felt when creating a piece, are all there. It is imprinted in each color, stroke of the brush, each texture. This truth, this soul of the artist, can and does communicate with those of us who are the viewer. With some who view a particular piece by a particular artist, that voice becomes a shout, the communication a warm embrace.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Getting There

Got some work done on my latest painting this weekend, thankfully. I had some good music going and just soared!
I began adding shadow to the can, fleshing out the depth, thinking about it's spatial relationship to the other objects around it. I'm giving a lot of thought to the light source and reflections at this point, planning where they should be. I couldn't use sunlight, which is what I'm showing, because it was an overcast day, so I tried to make do with direct lighting. At this point I think that will be OK, because I'm just planning where the lights and shadows will go. The final color choices will come at a later point. Next comes the fun part; the detail work on the can, painting the crackers, further establishing a mood, doing all I can to make it live and breathe. That's the gravy part!

Saturday, June 2, 2007


Met with some other artists today for our monthly Sketch Group meeting. We get together and discuss ideas, joke around, plan grand works of art that will change the world, and, oh yeah, sketch. We met outside at our local park, and because rain was threatening, sought shelter under a covered picnic area. I find it refreshing to meet with other artists, bounce ideas around, and just be. I know artists who don't make much of an effort to socialize, and that's OK, but I think ultimately they are missing out on many things. The exchange if ideas, the camaraderie, the feeling of understanding you get with a kindred soul helps fuel my thoughts, lifts my mood, and enhances my creativity. I can't get that kind of connectivity with any other group of people, because as artists we might as well just face the facts - we are different, and we need to be with like minded people who understand the incredible uphill battle is is to be an artist now, in America, in 2007. So if at all possible, forget the competition for a little while, contact another artist and share some experiences. You and the rest of the world will benefit immensely.
Oh, and I did get a little something done - here is my rough sketch of the morning. . .

Friday, June 1, 2007

Bon Voyage

Got some information today about an art sale that will be occurring next Saturday, June 9. Here's the info:

"A sale of Carol Ann Rose’s paintings and art supplies will be held on Saturday, June 9th from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at A Carolina Gallery on Bush River Road. There are many wonderful original paintings, art books, prints, paints, frames, papers, and miscellaneous art supplies for sale. There’s something for everyone. Hope you can make it."

Of course there's more to it than this. Carol Ann was the owner of A Carolina Gallery, and she passed away a few months ago. I was not privileged to know her personally, but from all accounts she was a dedicated and gifted artist. It is sad when anyone leaves the realm that we mortals know, but when a fellow artist goes it seems the loss is a bit deeper. An artistic voice stilled. It is a comfort to know you could acquire something she created, that she may continue to speak. And I've read that what she would say is "Don't Worry, Be happy!"
you can read more about Carol Ann here: http://artsails1.blogspot.com/