Weekend Inspiration–Looking to Each Other

Screen shot 2013-11-30 at 11.15.49 AM Screen shot 2013-11-30 at 11.15.30 AM

“You can look anywhere and find inspiration.”  Frank Gehry  (from The Painter’s Keys)

Dry spells, days without inspiration, lack of incentive can happen at anytime to any artist.  You show up at the studio, sit in front of an empty canvas or paper and nothing happens.  Nothing is working.  You looked to all your usual sources of inspiration and still nothing.  So what now?  You can give up and walk away or you can look to your fellow artists.

Stories are everywhere of artists who worked in groups.  The Impressionists were noted for it.  Monet and Renoir occasionally painted the same subjects.  Picasso and Braque explored cubism together.  The tales of artists gathering together in Paris cafes and bars are well known.  The Abstract Expressionists frequently met in New York at various locations.  Artists are gathering today.  Are you one of them?

Gathering with fellow artists today does not necessarily mean physically meeting in a restaurant or studio.  Artopia Magazine suggests, “Following artists on social media is a great source for finding inspiration on many levels.”  Taking the time to “like” other artists on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, read artist’s blogs and check out artists websites are all ways to gather with other artists in today’s internet world.  Artists are doing amazing things all over the world.  All it takes is a couple of clicks to enter a world of inspiration from fellow artists.

Indiemade.com suggests joining a local art group and if you don’t have one, start one.  Find a group of other artists and make plans to meet together.  You can choose to take a meal together regularly just to discuss art in general.  You could meet together for some Plein Air painting.  Another possibility is potluck once a month rotating at each other’s studios. Find your fellow local artists and make a plan.

When you are blanking out on inspiration, look around at other artists and see what they are up to.  If you find your fellow artist also in a blank place maybe you can inspire each other.  And if not, you can always commiserate with one another until new sources of inspiration can be found.  Nobody stays dry forever.  Companionship during the dry times may help move the dryness on down the road.

The Stillness of Action

“All true artists , whether they know it or not, create from a place of no mind,  of inner stillness.”  Eckhart Tolle (from artquotes.net)Screen shot 2013-10-07 at 9.35.17 AM

What is stillness?  Is it a physical place or an inner place?  Do we need to go to a place of stillness to paint?   Stillness for every artist is likely different.  What do other artists say and do regarding stillness?

Canadian artist Agata Lawrynczyk states she paints early in the morning and late in the day to find the peace and quiet she is looking for to depict in her paintings.  She also states the subjects for her paintings are stillness.  Her paintings are of water and mountains, boats and sky.  Her blog, Agata’s Art Corner describes her process.  Lawrynczk is actively seeking to paint stillness.  Others may follow her habits even when not depicting “stillness.”

Because one is not seeking to depict “stillness” does not mean it is not inwardly sought while painting.  Looking at Wilhem De Kooning, I confess to an inability to see anything remotely resembling “stillness” in the artists work. Once while standing in a room filled with De Kooning paintings at the Corcoran Museum in Washington, D.C., I could swear I felt sizzling electricity.  In a brief biographical sketch about De Kooning, The Guggenheim Museum states the artist moved to East Hampton, New York seeking greater peace and isolation to create.  It appears De Kooning sought a place of stillness even though you would never guess from his work!

In a blog called With Real Toads, Margaret Bednar, visits two art museums to view paintings she sees as depicting, “Stillness” in the subject matter.  Using these chosen artworks, she asks the writers of the blog to describe stillness in words or poems.  The same directive for painting could also apply. Thinking about descriptive words for stillness may be a good method for getting to a place of “stillness” in the art making process, regardless of subject.

Ellen Lauren is speaking to theatre actors when she wrote an article for SITI.org titled, “In Search of Stillness.”  She believes actors require training to achieve stillness. It is likely the same applies whether the subject to be captured is of “stillness” or the artist is seeking the inner place of inspiration.  When stillness is achieved, creativity flows. Or so it would seem.

Picturing a Paradigm Shift

In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.

Alfred StieglitzScreen shot 2013-10-02 at 11.46.34 AM

The UK’s Daily Mail (here) has an article on Kodak and the first camera for use by the general public.  Photography changed from the posed portraits of the times to capturing moments in the everyday lives of people.  So much else of the art world evolved with Kodak’s camera.

Painting dramatically changed at the time early photography was growing according to an article by BigThink’s Bob Duggan in a well -documented post of the early influence of photography on painting.  Duggan outlines how the late nineteenth century painters began to rely on photography more and more in their painting.  Fleeting moments could be more readily captured by photography and translated to canvas.  However, painters at the time were reluctant to admit their reliance on photography.  Today, that is not the case.

Alfred Stieglitz was outspoken in promoting photography as art.  He exhibited both at his famous New York art galleries.  It was a radical idea at the time. Today, both photography and painting stand side by side in the art world.   The amazing beauty achieved by photographers is fascinating to me.   My camera and I wander around capturing bits of inspiration for painting.  These are the moments I can truly appreciate the skill and artistic ability of photographers.  I am usually able to capture what I need for painting but always wonder how photographers capture so much more.

That first Kodak camera for mass consumer use sparked a new and wonderful movement in the art world.   The argument will continue about how photography and painting interact though most will likely agree the first Kodak Moment coincided with the paradigm shift that became the many diverse twentieth century art movements.

The Case of the Forging Forger

Every good painter paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock

CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday told the story of hugely successful art forger, Ken Perenyl. It appears that Perenyl has had an immensely lucrative career as a forger of the works of a number of mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century artists. He boastfully demonstrates his techniques for aging canvas and frames. Perenyl goes on to show the evidence of where Southby’s sold one of his forgeries for $650,000. Ken Perenyl has never come close to paying for the crime of forgery and deception even though the FBI did sniff around a bit at one time. Watching this left me feeling torn between admiration of his skill and disgust at his gleeful attitude toward his crimes.

Grossman LLP is a law firm that deals with issues in the art world. On the firm’s blog, Art-law-blog, is a recounting of the case of the owner of the New York art gallery of Salander-O’Reilly. Owner Salander was convicted of crimes of deception in the art world. He was driven into bankruptcy and is paying the price of his shady dealings. Yet Perenyl not only walks free, he brags about his crimes.

If we take Jackson Pollock’s quote as truth, what does that make Ken Perenyl? And why should we care? What effect if any, does this forger have on the majority of honest artists out there?

To watch Pollock creating his paintings go to The Museum of Modern Art and The Terrain Gallery

Pollock

A Place of Enchantment

“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”     Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of Cross Creek and The Yearling

 

Do we, as artists, require a place of enchantment?  Can we create without a place of enchantment?  Do we have to physically be at that place or can we go there in heart and mind?

Rawlings was a moderately successful New York writer until she moved to a small Central Florida orange grove near a place called Cross Creek.  Eventually Rawlings wrote about the people of Cross Creek, FL.  Her writings about life in the Florida orange grove rocketed Rawlings to her place as a treasured American icon after the movie The Yearling, starring Gregory Peck, hit the big screen.  She drew her creative nourishment from the beauty of her place of enchantment.