23 April 2009

Storyteller Born

I was 12 years old when my family visited the Australian National Gallery in Canberra. My uncle, aunt and cousin David were with us. I don't actually remember much of what I saw, because while we were there, I had something of a revelation.
I wasn' t really aware of art as a child - pictures were part of storytelling, even the works in the house had stories to go with them. But at the gallery, I was taught something new.
David was an artist (still is) and he asked me what I thought of the work in the gallery. I think I muttered something about it being rubbish because it didn't make any sense. (Eh, out of the mouths of babes.) That began my first lesson in art.

David took me around to every composition and asked me what I saw, what I thought it meant, what it could mean, and suddenly I realized, it was still story-telling, but in a different language, in metaphor and symbolism. A new way of telling stories.

Of course, I've had many years of study and research since then, and there have been any number of influential artists and teachers on that journey. But it would never have happened at all had my cousin not taken the time to explain to a young girl what the nonsense in front of her actually meant. I've always credited David for my love of art - because you can't love something until it is given meaning.

20 April 2009

The Path Less Travelled...

When you reach a certain level of development as an artist, you tend to unwittingly create a 'signature style' - that is, your art has a tone and character that is your 'style'.

Although this is a good thing, you still look for development and evolution as an artist.
To avoid 'going stale' or getting stuck in an artistic rut, the simplest method to expand yourself is to deviate from your style - use a different technique, different medium, aim for a completely different result. For example, the abstract artist could attempt a work in photo-realism, something completely removed from the work that they are known for - not to become a different kind of artist, but to bring a new layer of perspective to their creative process, perhaps something they had forgotten or hadn't considered previously.

It doesn't matter how far you progress in art, there is always something new to learn and apply in your specialty - like the layers of an onion, beyond the skill and technical training, there must come the insight, the foresight, and the engagement in vision and imagination of applying not only what is known but that which is unknown - each new element and HOW it is applied can bring a whole new dimension to the creative process, and once discovered and added to the signature style, can open new and different arenas for the artist to explore.

And it is in the exploration that the identity of the artist as an artist has an opportunity to evolve.

14 April 2009

Amuse Your Muse

When there's a gap in the creative process, it's hard not to freak out and think -What's going on here? Why am I stuck? Why is my imagination in neutral? Aahh!!

Usually there's some other process going on in life that requires your focus, but often as not, it's merely a lack of stimulation, especially if you've been working hammer and tongs for a few months and now there's a lull - or a void - that has you staring at a blank page or half-finished piece of work wondering what to do next. And you push it and you force it, and everything you do seems lame or cheesy or just plain boring....

Go out and live!

Now the time has come for you to emerge from your creative coccoon, go out and soak up some life, some interesting experiences and reset your brain... soon enough, you're going to feel the muse creep up behind you and poke you with a stick, and the flow will start again.
Creativity is like the tide, ebbs and flows, and when the tide is out, it's time to go play on the shore.

My favourite kinds of onshore activities still include creativity, but in a different fashion... taking source photos for later compositions, needlework or crafts, looking in interesting galleries and boutiques - I'm not much of a thrill seeker, so I don't feel the urge to go hang gliding or bungee jumping; art is one of the dominating aspects of my life, so I tend toward activities that feed it. As a former performer, I still love to get out and dance, jam with friends, write and compose; but to me, it's all still art. The beauty of it is when I get back to the boards, my other artistic desires have been sated, and the art of the pencil is focused again.

Amuse your muse - let her have a holiday.

09 April 2009

The Art of Doodling

Anyone who can hold a pencil can doodle... some of the 'coolest' and most powerful imagery has started as a germ of an idea scribbled on a blank bit of paper.
In the past few days, I have been privileged enough for some other people to share their 'doodles' with me - and for me, I see the idea not only as the start of an idea, but the potential of where it could go, how it could be developed into something complete.
Doodles on their own are fascinating, because they are organic, uninhibited and allow the viewer a small chance inside the dreaming mind. I applaud those who have been courageous enough to post them on their blogs and sites - little artistic elements from folks who aren't necessarily artists in their occupations (artists in art, not other kinds of artists) but have shared that part of their mind and heart with their audience.
I spend an enormous amount of time doodling and sketching before crafting a final composition. (I have about a hundred sketch books to put through the guillotine this weekend - aiyee!) And the best stuff is archived and kept against those times the creative block strikes. On their own, doodles have that small spark of inspiration for other ideas, or as a foundation for a more developed idea.
So do yourself a favour and put a notepad and pen next to all your favourite rest stops in your home or office, and become a doodler. Whether its a need for an idea for a design project, restructuring logistics in your company, writers block or what to buy your spouse for their birthday, doodling will help you unlock the unconscious and inspire yourself!

06 April 2009

zeddess - the World between Worlds

'The World Between Worlds' was the slogan when I first started the studio back in 2001. Going full time as an artist was a daunting affair, and I wanted to be able to tell people quickly what art is about - let's face it, for non-artists, it's still something of a left-field endeavour. However, it was apparent that even this little motto was still too obscure - most ignored it, some asked what it meant, most thought I was talking about a practical idea.

When I was still living in Mackay, I had a client come to the studio. They looked at all the work I had at the time, and for the first time ever, they said to me, You're a world builder.

One of the biggest difficulties faced by any artist (in any field) is that the temper and demand of the audience fluctuates and wanes, ebbs and flows, gibbers and ignores.
I've discussed audience pressure before, in the context of the artist needing to be true to themselves: in this case, my point is to the audience - stand back from the singular work and look at the BODY of work.
In the majority of cases, you can see that the artist has taken a journey - either in development or technique, or emotionally, or even as a documentarian of another reality. All in all of the above and then some. While certain singular compositions may stand out on their own, it is in the Body of Work that you see the necessity and the RELEVANCE of every compostion in that journey, or that world.
You can see this in music, art, design, photography, in literature, in pop culture - as long as you stand back and look at the Body of Work in total, then you will be in a position to appreciate not only more of the artist's work, but more of art as a sub-culture; every occupation has its cultural habits and necessities - Art is no exception.

03 April 2009

ART = Everything

Had a chat with a photographer friend of mine today - he reported that he was getting mixed responses to his online work.... He's a big fan of black and white photos, in digital, but no photo editing. Anyhoo, the online audience seemed to have a greater preference for his colour photography over the b+w photos....
I recently wrote a Note about this on Facebook - the public will often see me working in pencil, or see a showing of pencil compositions, and ask if I work in colour as well. Interestingly enough, they see the colour work and prefer the 'greyscale' stuff instead.
In photography, people expect to see photo-realistic imagery perhaps enhanced digitally, and of course, the colours can be tweaked or left for Mother Nature to decide. In my genre, and in my own personal tastes, any colour work is often 2D and flat, like a cartoon, without a lot of colour mixing.
I think for most of the public, when they think of a composition in colour, (or asking for a portrait) they're thinking of a photo-realistic image and colouring - and yes, for the majority that I have asked, that is exactly what they're thinking of.
The trends in the media and modern society have started to blend the lines between the different mediums and techniques not only in the art world but also in the design world. While it is one thing for a designer to call themselves an artist (as a musician, dancer, poet, writer would also do) it is another thing for an artist to call themselves a designer (or a musician, dancer, poet or writer.) As a result, the lay-public now have a belief that as an artist, I am capable of rendering any form of art in any medium with any result.
If the art industry is currently suffering a trend of 'bad' art investing and purchasing, perhaps it is partly due to the social desire to call everything 'art' and thus removing significance from the different arenas AND the skills and disciplines of those arenas. If you throw everything under the one banner in the one basket, no one will ever be able to say that there was a skill or discipline involved. And art itself will become pinned to the fridge with a magnet.

02 April 2009

The Art of Montage

From the recent update on my site's WIPS page (Works In Progress) - Within The Eye.

I have long enjoyed working in montages, though most self-employed critics (I say lovingly) find them 'too busy' - I personally like the idea of discovery in the details, building layers and depth not usually available in a straight forward composition.
That in itself allows for a different emotional construct also; the visual response that comes from having to actually take the time to absorb the images, how they relate to each other, before beginning to interpret any kind of meaning, or emotion.
There's a greater allowance for the artist to be more organic in this kind of work - I don't plan how or why the subjects and forms fit together, I can just allow my imagination and the pencil to roam, bringing a greater sense of fluidity to the composition. In that sense, the work is also more an emotional and creative process for me - the bonus is when that is translated to the audience.