outflows and inflows of creativity

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.