“True Art: What is it?”

Everyone is familiar with Jackson Pollock. If the name does not ring a bell, you may have seen one of his more famous works briefly in movies or shows. Pollock’s work was extremely abstract. Still nothing? Here’s a picture to jog your memory.

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This is one of his more famous works which is titled “Convergence.” I do not intend to give a full analysis on his piece (I will probably save that for later.) What I am really driving at is what we all perceive as appealing and beautiful when it comes to art. Someone may see this piece in person and say that it speaks volumes to them while another may see it as just a bunch of paint splatters. I will have to admit I thought so at first until I saw one of Pollock’s pieces in person at the Dallas Museum of Art a few years ago. There is a lot more precision that went into his paintings that meets the eye.

What I personally find appealing and awe-inspiring may not be another person’s cup of tea. I adore Steampunk, Victorian and Renaissance art. The emphasis of the human form was very apparent for its time. Steampunk is a mixture of science fiction and Victorian genres all rolled into one. Art is a fabrication deep from within our imaginations that is brought to life in many mediums and others are just purely miraculous.

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Some may find Gothic or gory art consisting of undead creatures and zombies as beautiful and others may not have the stomach for it. Science fiction art and anime may be inspring for future animators while others that are not interested in these genres may not understand them. Although, have you ever seen a Studio Ghibli or Hayao Miyazaki film? The artwork is breathtaking! Then again, that’s just me though. If you do decide to check out anything by these animators, I recommend “Howl’s Moving Castle.” You will not be disappointed.

These same tastes can apply to the realm of artists as well aside from people that appreciate art. Many of us artists create for the sole purpose to unleash our emotions and pour it into our pieces reflecting each of our individual styles. So then, what is true art really? It stems from anything you want it to be and everywhere. Junk in scrap yards is another person’s treasure or artwork in this case that involves building sculptures. Numerous materials, threads and buttons are a textile artist’s dream. 

Cut outs from old magazines can become beautiful collages in the hands of a mixed media artist. Film makers with their detailed visions direct documentaries giving in depth incite into the lives of many all over the world to raise awareness. Photographers capture emotions through camera and lighting. Art therapists who are also artists heal..heal an individual’s inner turmoils through the passion they love so much.

Art is a root that connects each one of us towards each other and beyond. It is just a matter of how far we are willing to reach the depths of our imaginations to see and look for art through different lenses. 
 

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“Art Studio Experiment: The Ins and Outs of Using Recycled Materials”

What area do you use to get your creative juices flowing? If you are among the league of artists that have their own art studio, good for you. You lucky duck..

For the rest of us, we make do with what we have. Dining room tables, counter tops, bed sides, desks, dressers, ironing tables (I don’t know about this one, just throwing it out there.) You name it. These and many other makeshift uses have been done.

Now here is the tricky part. With limited space, what can be used to organize and store art supplies to keep them in tip top condition to continue creating? I believe that’s where innovation and creativity at its finest comes in. 

Do you have a corner? Claim it! A kitchen table? Use it! A TV dinner table? You get the picture. Anything can be used. 

This here is my little art nook which is a corner of my living room. It only shows my main art supplies that I use the most. I recycle items for storage such as: 

  • Wylers Tea/Koolaid Tubes for storing guoache paint tubes and paint brushes
  • Cardboard box for storing larger acrylic paint tubes
  • Plastic Water bucket for storing acrylic, sable, and taklon paint brushes
  • Reusable eco bags from the store to hold paper, pencils, and fixitave spray 
  • Plastic laundry detergent bucket for ceramic and sculpture supplies 
  • Mason jars for storing paint thinner 

    These are the main objects that I use for organization or at least try to. It does not exactly look like something out of a magazine or some of the artists’ studios that you see on YouTube, but it is a sure fire way to recycle products and bring life back to old plastic and cardboard ware that would easily end up in the trash. 

    Whatever your art making situation is, there are ways to keep your art supplies in one place and out of the hands of furry creatures and munchkins if you have them. (My cat Night has stolen my paint brushes and has tried chewing on my paint tubes on more than one occasion.) 

    Artists and crafters, what uses can you think of to store your supplies? I really love the idea of us bouncing ideas off of each other and would love to hear what you have to say. 

    “Fitness and Art: How to Combine Them without going Insane”

    You are probably thinking, “What does an artist know about fitness?” Everywhere you look health and fitness is being promoted more so than any other time. Weight lifting here, measuring macros there, the list goes on and on. Maybe it always has been and I’m just now reading into everything. 

    I’m not a weightlifter, far from it, but I do believe fitness should be incorporated in our daily lives for health and well being minus the raw egg white and whey protein shakes. I prefer homemade smoothies with plant based ingredients. I’m not a fan of the chalky flavor. 

    There is a way to combine creating and fitness without going insane. It can be done. 

    What does this have to do with art though? For all of you that are artists or know of someone that is one or have a loved one that is, you may have noticed that we tend to be isolated in our rooms or studios for hours on end seated while painting, drawing, or making prints. When working on pieces, sometimes we skip meals or resort to munching on snacks to hold us over until we are done for the hour or day. It can be difficult to balance out exercise with time spent on creating. 

    Depending on your fitness level, it is best to break things up in increments. Set an alarm. Write it down in your planner. Whatever it is, hold yourself accountable. For me personally, I can work on a painting for about an hour and a half to two hours straight. Then, I attend a kickboxing class twice a week and do thirty minutes of dumbbell exercises on two or three other days. After I’m finished, I make something to eat or make a homemade protein fruit smoothie to keep nourished and hydrated. 

    “I have deadlines to meet. How am I going to make time to go to the gym?”

     To start off you don’t need to get a huge bench press. You do not need to go to the gym. (There are probably a few gasps in the audience no doubt.)  Start an activity you enjoy. Go for a walk, hike, or do an at home workout. 

    A good one to try is called Hasfit which is a YouTube series that contains a mixture of beginner to advanced exercises. Another, if you want more motivation, consistency a customized meal plan and workout schedule, is to try the Ideal Shape Up 12 Week Challenge.

    Here is a good starter list to start lifting something other than a paintbrush:

    • A pair of dumbbells 5-7 pounds is a good place to start. 
    • A yoga mat
    • Comfy shoes
    • Resistance bands
    • A kettlebell (a neat option, but not necessary)
    • Exercise ball
    • Ankle weights
    • You, yourself, and you 

          (All of theses can be found at a local Wal-Mart, Five Below, or Academy for reasonable prices.)

          Be kind to yourself at first. A few setbacks is not bad, just a learning experience. Now step out of your studio for thirty minutes or however long you can manage and get moving. 

          “Art Supply Starters: What, Where, & When to Use Them”

          You just saw the Sistine Chapel in Rome, Italy with the “Creation of Adam” being one of the awe inspiring paintings on the ceiling wondering what inspired Michelangelo to paint these Biblical scenes.

          You then travel to France to step foot into the Louvre Museum and see Leonardo da Vinci’s famous piece the “Mona Lisa” with her emotionless expression and lingering smile that leaves an even greater air of mystery. Many say that the angle of her eyes seem to follow you as you move past her in the museum she resides in. “This man was an artistic genius, ingenious for his time. I wish I could be at his caliber,” you are probably pondering to yourself…

          Well maybe not, let us bring ourselves back to unfortunate reality. There is nothing wrong with dreaming though, right? If you have had the opportunity to visit any of these places and see these priceless art works in person, then more power to you. They should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list.

          None of us may be a Leonardo da Vinci, but we can all make incredible works of art if we open our minds to various inspirations and just draw, paint, or make ceramics, whatever strikes our fancy. Pablo Picasso once said that, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Think back as a child and remember all of the doodles and scribbles that you may have made, the pretend games that you may have played, with your siblings or neighborhood friends.

          Everything takes a little creativity. Art is an innate part of our existence, but where to start? “What supplies will I need? They can get expensive after awhile. Where can I buy them?” These may be some of your questions and the answers may vary. It all depends on what you want to create.

          If cost is an issue, and you are not comfortable with drawing, You can opt for making paper collages with these materials:

          • Old mail
          • Catalogs
          • Magazines
          • Newspapers
          • Glue sticks
          • Scissors
          • Cardboard
          • Copy Paper
          • Journals
          • Stickers
          • Buttons
          • Glitter
          • Thread

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          This is just a few materials to start with. Everyone has at least three of these items in their houses. In other words, everyone has a junk drawer so dig through it and you will find many treasures. It will vary of course from household to household. So virtually, this type of art piece would be relatively inexpensive with little to nothing. These same materials could easily be used to make a junk journal which is another form of collaging. Tear out and glue paper layer by layer and you have another creation. If you are wanting to know more about junk journaling,  I will cover what it is in another post.

          If you want to work on your drawing skills, a no cost option is just using a good old fashioned pencil with paper or, you can opt for a little bit of fancier equipment at a lower price at your local Wal-Mart:

          • Crayons
          • Colored Pencils
          • Erasers
          • Crayola Watercolors

          Ok, maybe it is not exactly fancy, but you do not really need fancy tools to create great art. It is the artist not the tools the artist uses. To answer your questions that you may be thinking of, yes, you can most certainly use crayons to draw and yes that goes for crayola watercolors. If however, you want to improve and experiment further, here is another list:

          • Charcoal

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          • Sketchbook
          • Drawing Pads of various sizes such as 12” x 12” and 18” x 24”
          • Conte Crayons

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          • Kneaded Eraser
          • Fixative Spray (Hairspray if you are unable to find any)
          • White Charcoal Pencils
          • Metal Sharpener
          • Sumi/India Ink

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          This list is geared towards figure drawing and nature studies or aka people, plants, and animals. You can find cheaper versions of these for starters or find them at a local Michael’s, Hobby Lobby or online through Blick and Jerry’s Artarama for more variety.

          This may be a lot to take in as far as supplies go, but this should give you a crash course of what to get, where to get them and when to use them.  Once you have drawing down, then painting supplies will be for another discussion and another time.

           

          “Lessons Learned in Art and What It Can Teach: Part 1”

          I think all lessons are relatively the same while others are based on our own personal journeys. Think about it. Are experiences of a painter necessarily the same as a potter or sculptor? Techniques for supplies are different etc. etc. You get the picture.

          Everything has been a bit of trial and error since I was a teenager and has continued up to this day. I have experimented with both two and three dimensional alike to gain a better understanding of art in general. I have to admit though, some techniques were especially harder than others, sculpture being one. 

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          Lesson 1: Inspiration is everywhere. It is in your beliefs, emotions, upbringing, surroundings, TV, literature, poetry, and even strangers we see walking in the streets.

          Lesson 2: As cliche as it sounds, practice and practice some more. Practice even when you least feel like it.

          Lesson 3: Reference photos are OK to use, especially for figure drawing. Many artists had to learn anatomy somewhere aside from classes.

          Lesson 4: Know the difference between negative criticism and constructive criticism. It is a matter of having thick skin and just not caring what others think. Constructive criticism is a bit like a sandwich. Positive feedback or a compliment is the bun on top that is given. The meat is the portion of the piece that needs to be highlighted for improvement. In other words, what can be done to make it better. It is then followed up by the last bun which is another compliment or positive comment. Negative criticism is self explanatory. It is merely to toy with emotions and discourage so can be disregarded as a stumbling block.

          Lesson 5: Do not compare yourself to other artists. Every one is different and so are skill levels. 

          Lesson 6: Ask questions. Questions allows one to grow. If oil painting is a technique that you want to delve into, ask. 

          Lesson 7: Technology is an artist’s best friend next to brand new art supplies and an art studio to call your own. With social media platforms these days, there are many outlets to get your work noticed. Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Deviant Art, you name it. It’s there. These websites are simple enough to use that even technologically inept people can pick up on it. *Slowly raises hand Yes, I am one. 

          These are just a few, well not really but they are compared to how much we can learn in a lifetime which is a lot. There will be more to come next time. 

          “I am an Artist: My Why and How”

          For the ones that have continued to read my blog so far, thank you. For the ones that are just browsing, thank you also. I am not the most tech savvy of people so it takes me awhile to poke around and understand formatting on my blog. Now to give a bit more incite into the person typing behind the computer screen and creating while not online on my why I became an artist and how I did.

          From as young as six, I remember scribbling on various objects that were paper or paper like. To this day, you can find many of my scribbles on the inside covers of old books in my parent’s bookshelves. I then gravitated to drawing on napkins and paper towels and then to printer paper and eventually actual sketchbooks. All children are creative true, but some tend to let it drift off when they are older or when life’s responsibilities get in the way. Not to say that artists do not have responsibilities. They just know or find ways to balance out their time with their creating.

          I continued drawing up into my teenage years where I discovered anime from my friends in junior high after being home schooled seven years prior to that. My parents bought me my first French easel for Christmas my freshmen year of high school along with a set of acrylic paints, paint brushes, and canvases. I then taught myself to paint. During that time, I was bullied quite a bit so it was a way to unwind and was a sense of escape for me. Another way was through poetry. Art is a way to release inward thought and emotions that words can never speak.

          In college, I minored in art and learned more in depth drawing techniques and art history that I knew on a surface level but had never gone in depth into. Perspective, anatomy, and shading were more pronounced. Styles of late art masters were intensively studied for unity and balance. Two dimensional artworks progressed to mixed media collages and book binding for diversity.

          I had always thought of art as a hobby to escape the outside world for a short time. It was not until I neared the end of my undergraduate education that I really thought about incorporating art as a career. Because of how it helped me, I wanted to figure out a way to share that with others as well and help them which is my why. Then through my search, I came across art therapy which is a more intensive form of creativity. 

          The how is so far a continuous journey.

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          “Paintings, Sketches, and Making Time”

          How does one manage to balance every day adulting activities with creativity? That is definitely something that has been a struggle as of late. With weekly errands to frequent trips out-of-town and getting home exhausted, it is certainly a challenge. At least for me it is.

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          My time is usually spent staring at the canvas trying to figure out a focal point to start off on then go from there. I stare at it as if it is a showdown with the blank white canvas and myself with my pencil or paintbrush in my holster…ahem I mean apron while listening to a designated playlist for the evening. And do not get me started on Inktober..

          Inktober was more difficult than I anticipated. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun to participate in, but due to being in and out-of-town a good chunk of October, it was very difficult to keep up with. Plus, coming up with ideas for a theme to stick to and draw was complicated since I have never draw detailed illustrations with ink pens. Looking at fellow artists on Instagram and Facebook participating made me think to myself, “Uh nope, I am nowhere near that level. What did I get myself into? Ready or not here I go.”

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          So I opted for using reference photos for assistance like this baby Groot for example. Using them helped me warm up a bit to the idea of doing more detailed line drawings. 20171105_204703.jpg

          This one was a bit more playful and I enjoyed drawing the cats and owl a little bit more than the others. Unfortunately, I did not complete the challenge on time and posted photos a couple of days after Halloween. Better late than never right? I am just taking it as a learning experience and intend to be better prepared with the correct materials next year when Inktober rolls around again.

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          The positive aspect of the challenge loosened me up for my acrylic painting that I completed a few weeks ago. Lindsey Stirling is one of my favorite artists and I used her snow globe picture from her “Shatter Me” album as inspiration for it. Being that it had been months since I had actually sat down and painted, it was a bit of a slow process sketching out the subject and mixing the colors prior to laying them out on the canvas. When I was not at my easel painting, I was jotting down other ideas for future paintings and editing my art page to sell my pieces. Even though my creative process has been a bit sluggish at best, on a brighter note, there were some small mile stones that have been met.

          “Inktober”

          You may have heard of Inktober or you may not have. If you are participating, awesome! If not, look it up and get in on the action. In a nutshell, it is a 31 day drawing challenge that takes place every October. There is a 31 day prompt list and just a few rules to follow. The main thing to do consistently is to draw in ink since the maker of the challenge is an illustrator by trade and it was originally geared towards illustration concepts. I started today for the first time and am somewhat disappointed not because I do not like the challenge, but because I am really rusty in free hand ink drawings. My thought process at the moment is, what did I just get myself into?

          Day 1 is completed. The prompt is swift.

          “Fleeing of Artist’s Block”

          This past month has been filled with plenty of creativity. If I am not drawing in my sketchbook, I have been planning out paintings, working on my online art store or handmaking books. For awhile I had major artist block which was extremely frustrating. For every artist, writer and musician that has experienced it, you know exactly what I am talking about. I created quite a bit for mh summer graduate course which helped lift it. Howevet, last month a friend of mine ordered a commision drawing which was really surprising. Hence, my first paid piece.

          Then came, my next projects which included my bookbinding.

          Lastly, to finishing off my first oil painting

          Now this marks the fleeing of artist’s block and on to more creative days.

          Rainy Days and Bookbinding

          What is better than sitting back enjoying a warm cup of tea curled up with a book on a rainy day? Creating art is, well to me at least. I have noticed that my creative juices flow more in the evening and on rainy days. The pitter patter of raindrops dripping on the windows and the grey gloom of clouds add to the ambience.

          Even cutting paper, punching holes in the book boards, and sewing individual signature papers together seems to be a bit therapeutic. Once there is a rhythm established, it is immersive. This is one of two books that I made this past week which takes about 24 hours or so to complete. It is not the sewing itself that is time consuming, but merely letting the adhesive on the book boards set overnight.