Friday, December 30, 2011

What am i-Doing?

i-Think, i-Can….i-Think, i –Can……i-Think, i-Can……nope, i-Can’t.  The i-pad Apps that make “art” are just not for me. i-Tried.  Okay, I only tried for about 30 minutes even after attempting to read the downloaded instruction manual for step by step how-to’s.   Correct me if I am wrong (on second thought, don’t correct me because I don’t care to be “convinced”) but didn’t manuals, paper or otherwise, have words that went along with the pictures?  Just giving me an onscreen image with arrows pointing out the buttons does not tell me what they do, when I should use them, and why or how.

I even (oh wait….that should be i-Even) did the introductory easy level following along tutorial. All well and good until I was “done” and then nothing told me what to do with it or how to get back to the other screen or anything even remotely logical for the next step. Tapping around blindly seemed a waste of time.  I know that thousands upon thousands of people depend upon such devices now to make “art”. i-Did manage to make one sketch, add some color and spray paint a question mark over her head. Then I went down to the studio to retrieve my spiral bound sketch pad. The same drawing took microseconds of time. 

i-Don’t get it. Well….yes i-Do really, and I have focused on this before…..”art” as us oldsters commonly understand it, has moved away from ability and landed in the lap of apps.  The artwork created by these devices, phones and pads and tablets etc….are gloriously rich and detailed images, but ummmm…they are brought to visual life by a machine programmed to perfect the ideas. It is no wonder kids can’t draw in art school anymore. They don’t have too.  Side note here, but the artist who won the reality show about art, did drawings and beat the esoteric, well crafted, conceptual work of her competitors. The judges and fellow artists were marveling over her work….done by hand. It seemed almost odd and out of place if not quaint in today’s world to see them so enamored.

Back to buttons…..

i-Suppose this onscreen approach is the future and i-Am going to be somewhere back in the dust cloud struggling to keep up. i-May have to rent a room to a teenager just so I can have an in-house IT department much like one used to have to have live in help for assorted reasons.  i-Shall not feel bad about not understanding such advancements however because nothing can replace sitting outside on a beautiful summer day with sketchbook in hand doodling away the hours. No need to worry about battery power, screen reflections, wi-fi access or other assorted amenities….just me and my i-Deas.

i-Must admit however, the little stinker does allow me to play continuous games of solitare, check my email on a different floor and gives me a google fix faster than going back downstairs. As for artwork, i-Can’t forgo the feel of a brush in my hand. No need to scroll down the list of available brushes, God me eyes to select one from my assorted jars, no need to pick a color from the provided boxes, God gave me hands to mix my own options and no need to push a save button, God gave me shelf space to store years of sketchbooks so I can lay out pictures side by side without flipping screens back and forth.

i-Can appreciate the technology, i-Just don’t have to fall victim to it in all aspects of my life…Do-i?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Miracles, Blessings and Wishes…… yes, they do exist!

First in line is “The Miracle” which would be the success of the cochlear ear implant. A deaf person can hear voices, carry on a conversation and reacquaint themselves with white noise (okay, some parts of the process will be annoying for awhile…) but to be given back “quality of life” because of a small electronic device and some hope and prayers (not to mention years and years of medical school for the surgeon) is truly a miracle. The miracle category is rather small as they take a lot of God time so one should not be too greedy.

Blessings are far more numerous. Besides the obvious ones of having genuine friends and friendships, good health, great kids, a loving spouse, a dry basement and working cars…..the intangibles of deed are blessings often gone unnoticed or categorized. Allow me to share a few….and to which I will credit the years and years of scouting.

Example one, the “reaction”:  Son #2 was “shopping” at a local store, which translates to hanging out and sampling the merchandise, when a woman fell and hit her head. She had a small child whose calling of ‘mommy, mommy’ is what caught my son’s attention.  He calmly dialed 911 and stood by as a sort of visual comfort. At 6’6” that is a lot of comfort. He knew better than to move or attempt to treat a head injury (yes there was blood) due to potential spinal damage. Fortunately the rescue squad was only a couple of hundred yards away so help was quick to arrive. He left the store. Scouts taught him to react quickly and calmly as a way to get others to react as most people will “freeze” in their initial panic.

Example two, the “return”:  Same son was in line at a local sandwich place. The man in front of him dropped a rather large bill on the ground and did not notice. Son picks it up and returns it. The man was rather surprised and then bought my son’s sandwich for him as a thank you for his honesty.  A simple gesture of doing the right thing, to be trustworthy and helpful, in return brought forth courtesy and kindness.  I love it when the scout law works as it should!

Example three, the “offer”:  Same son (he has been home a lot longer than the other son, whose turn is coming….) spent a good part of the day at the hospital visiting a friend (a man older than his own father) who was recovering from surgery. Once the man goes home, he needs to have someone with him for several weeks 24/7.  Driving in the car, son says to me, I think I will go spend a day with “Bob” next week so his wife can go shopping or something.  It was the second part of the sentence that is important. He was not thinking of “Bob” but of the other person affected by the surgery.  Loyal and friendly, two more parts of those 12 rattled off each week.

Wishes come next and work best when offered up for others so I have found out. Often a wish will boomerang once it has come true for the recipient (thank goodness for spell check on that one).  This may be a bit convoluted to explain, but as I have wished for my sons to have good friends, to be safe, to be careful etc…so too must their friends’ parents have been wishing the same.  Last night was another one of what is now called the “Standard Krew Party Package With or Without Paper Products”, a phrase that translates into a couple of dozen young adults hanging out in the lower level. They play music (even Glenn Miller stuff!), drink pop, eat pizza and cookies (which come in the door on plates and are often homemade by other moms), and get in and out of the hot tub all night long.  The morning after is always amazing…..wet towels piled neatly in the laundry room, trash taken out, furniture put back, counters wiped off and so on, as if not a person had been here at all. I find it amazing every time. I think they must form a police line to make sure every crumb is off the carpets. Only a stray napkin was to be found. The words, obedient, helpful, clean and trustworthy yet again can be cited. Often these young people stop to say hello or sit and chat a bit. Too bad the newspapers rarely mention the positive things about young adults (16 to 22 or so….)

Speaking of newspapers, a simple gesture shows the kindness of others. This morning I found my paper (often tossed at the end of my driveway) to be sitting on top of my garbage can. Evidently the garbage man picked it up as he was bringing the empty can back to the garage. ….or could it be that one of those kids left really early this morning?  No matter, I was touched by the gesture nonetheless.

Now I shall toss a wish out there.....I wish that all the politicians, candidates, occupiers, and bah hum-buggers would take a few moments to read over the scout law and see if they could live by it each and every day (as well as be accountable for such) and I bet this crazy world would be a lot better. Just in case you don’t know it, here are the 12 points: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

God bless and Merry Christmas everybody!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Awfully Familiar....

Before you read this...please be aware that the image above is NOT the image in question! It is a sample of the type of work I do as a volunteer.

Time to expand on the issue of copying one’s work per my FB posting. Last week I opened a holiday flyer from a place affiliated with a volunteer organization for which I do quite a bit of free design work. Oh, I should warn you all that this will probably be the most vague posting ever because who knows what the eventual outcome will be so no sense giving the legal eagles any free food. 

Inside was a product that in my eyes, and based on a side by side scale comparison, is my work redone in different colors and with one side changed. Why the change? I suspect it is because the source, from which my work was most likely taken, did not show that particular area of the design so the person had to invent a solution.  I also truly believe that the use of my template shall we say, was purely innocent.  I am in no way interested in pursuing legal recourse for the violation of intellectual property rights or copyright infringement; I just want to know how my design got into a nationally distributed flyer.

Yes, I sent out quite a few emails to various sources but so far no luck. The original venue essentially “blew me off” as the saying goes, hoping I would probably go hide under a rock and let this go. Everyone who sees the side by side comparison agrees with me. There are certain tell tale markings on my work that unless copied, would not be present if someone had come up with the same concept on their own. Somewhere, someone, affiliated with the venue got the job to design the item needed, remembered seeing one and used that one (mine) as the template.  If the venue had asked me, I would have agreed to allow the use of my work with a right to approve color changes and design changes, to keep from happening what happened. The reincarnation is a cheap looking copy with poor color choices and a bad layout of text. I maintain however, that nothing was done maliciously. I just don’t like seeing my work made to look ugly. Only a handful of people out there would have any knowledge at all that I did the original design, but I know.

My point being, the art work is a very small place even though the number of us is quite vast. We know our work. Art teachers will probably agree that we can identify a student’s work time after time long before we remember their name. So unless clip art is the source for ideas, clip art being free for use by the creators, then to search the net for images or to flip through a book and find something, is basically “stealing”.  As artists, our products offered to the world of commerce are our creations which develop from deep within us. 

I don’t know whether to be flattered or flabbergasted to find my design as the source for a national offering that is making the venue some money. Good for them, I support the venue and wish them well and many happy sales. What I want to know is how it got there. Who liked it enough to want to copy it? An apology would be great but I don’t think it will ever happen. A few freebies of the item would be nice, but that is unlikely as well. Let us leave it at this….as the song goes… “Anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you….”  so when the time comes to design the 2012 version, how about giving me the job?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Its a Mad Mad (Art) World

I’ve written about this before and it is time to write about it again….the insanity that one calls “the art world”. So many examples, so small a text limit, but I shall try and be brief (which also keeps down the level of bitchiness as well). Let us visit the most recent three….

Case number one: The return of a pastel under glass. Earlier this year we had the case of Shipwreck who went on an unforeseen journey out west. He finally came home intact if not a bit dusty. No harm no foul except for the loss of an exhibition opportunity. Now we have (case pending so I can’t identify the piece) who survived his ride to (cpsicitp..shorter version of the above disclaimer), but did not fare so well on his return trip.  It was one of those shows where a shipping agent is used to unpack and transport work to the venue and repeat the process in reverse upon closing then send the work back. We artists have to pay for this service so I should expect good service by a knowledgeable company correct? Dummy me. Same crate as always, same packing materials, same everything except the image inside.  This crate made bad tinkle tinkle noises when I started to open it, much like the sound of shattered glass.  Shards of sharpness to a lot of damage to paper, mat board, metal framing and of course pastel, to the point of saying hello dumpster, good-by contents. Owner files claim with the Transport Company and notifies the shipping agent of the situation. Transport Company is great, shipping agent sends a reply email that even a first grader would say is bad. I get that emails are a bit more casual, but capital letters and a bit of grammar would be nice. Owner explains the issue (and obvious mistake of packing on their end) and they say (sort of….) “oops sorry, we use that type of container all the time, no problem”. Well gee, I happen to have a photo of my container and it is not that type, here look at the picture. I ask for at least a refund of my fee required by the show for their services and check into their insurance liability. Hmm…never heard back. Wonder why?  Situation still pending so I can say no more……

Case number two: The shows that advertise in the big glossy trades, that send emails via a reputable agency and give all the right answers and info to qualify for legitimate status.  The website checks out, the juror checks out, the prospectus checks out…all tests are past. One thing not checked (by me, my bad) is the previous exhibitions page. The numbers would have made sense and a mistake on my part bypassed, but alas, I was delinquent and did not follow my own rules. Dutifully I go through the process of application. Results come back….”we had over  ----- entries (triple digits) and the juror selected – (only two pieces over 10, you do the math). Half were photos….., remaining 2/3’s were craft and the rest were paintings, you can do the math on that too. (the answer is 2 in case you forgot how to do story problems) Guess I should have looked at the gallery space better and figured it had to be the size of my bathroom to only hold 12 works.  Funny however, those stats are very similar to a show I wrote about recently. Maybe it is time to find a new job or reclassify my media.

Case number three and worthy of a full blog: That TV Reality Show looking for the next Great American Artist….don’t try and deny that you watch this…we all do.  Last night’s episode was very revealing in regard to attitudes toward “art”.  The contestants were told to make art to hustle on the streets in order to make some money. The look of sheer shock and insult on their faces was hilarious. Evidently “Art” is only in galleries and not meant to be for sale or accessible in the vicinity of the general public whose grubby little hands and uneducated eyes might come in contact with their almighty message. Most of these “artists” struggled with the concept of what to make and what to sell that would be “art”.  I can’t recall who won, but the most successful was the girl who sat and did quick portraits in pencil and watercolor. Wow, what a concept! The underwear, the nudity, the conceptual message, the paper hats….all got beat by a simple act of direct connection, watching an artist at work on something that people (the unwashed, uneducated and unsophisticated included) can relate to. Bravo girl (oops, did I just give that away?)  Yeah, this show is going to get its Blog time, big time here pretty soon.

But before one thinks that all is not right in my art world, I have recently made connections to do a couple of shows, one involving a whole new line of work for me. It always feels good to have a goal and a deadline, no pressure means no production.  Just a weeee bit more pressure would be nice, but at least it is starting to drizzle on my dry spell.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Fascinating Faces from Interesting Places" now in The Loft at 2nd April

Family obligations have kept me from getting out and about to see exhibitions in and around our area so the only show I can comment about is my own, currently on view at 2nd April.  “Fascinating Faces from Interesting Places” is not the same collection that was at the Massillon Museum about a year ago. Since I work in a series format, the title of an exhibit rarely changes, but the pieces are always new. That concept of a career direction is also a holdover from the era of slide submissions and phones with cords on them. These past two years have seen me slowly pull away from my roots. The next two years will be a renewed and dedicated return to how I was trained to approach my own work.  Changes are on the radar and when the time is right, that blog will get posted. But for now…. I shall be my own critic and discuss the drawings on view in The Loft.  

First of all, The Loft is the former Mezzanine at 2nd April. Many of your local favorites (Michele W., Lynn D., Pam N., Margie K.) have rotated in and out of the space over my time at 2A.  Knowing the guys were between tenants, I proposed filling the space with the available pastels….IF I could make a few changes. Being the ever so agreeable owners that they are, Brennis and Todd had no objections.  The formerly dark chocolate brown/black walls are now a bright grey/white color. Light bulbs were replaced and 9 new fixtures added to increase the glow and trim was touched up to hid the age of the building. 

15 pieces fit into the space by utilizing the “monster” as the trapezoidal shelving unit is now called. An artist should learn from every show they do, what works and what does not. MassMu used these really cool clear or vellum labels so I had to hunt down something close and follow their lead. I have to say, it looks pretty good. When hanging a “Women Series” show on my own, I like to have the characters engaged between canvases, looking at one another or playing one scene into the next like a big raucous party. Usually others hang those shows however so the affect is lost because curators move my layout around (to match frames or some other excuse). This time, I could place the pictures where I wanted so some of the people are reacting to each other. You may notice, you may not, but I know the story is there.

The question often arises with this series of portraits as to whether the use of the faces is legal. Yes and here’s why. I only take photos in public places or locations where cameras are permitted. People take photos all the time and if you happen to be in the background of their family scene, so be it, your face is fair game.  We are all on camera almost 24/7 and do not know it. Look around you sometime, especially in parking lots, stores, banks, street corners in major cities, libraries etc….and you will see cameras. We are all public people. If I am taking pictures while sitting on a street corner, perhaps shooting the building behind you, and you walk into my shot, I got you. People will often look right at my camera; sometimes they see me taking the photo and will do some goofy face. A camera does not have to be at eye level, in fact, little work that way anymore. With the cameras built into phones, even places that “do not allow cameras”, are allowing cameras and I have seen people taking pictures in places where pictures are forbidden.  I do not violate that rule. Your photo will not be taken if I am legally not to have a camera present. Public places are fair game however and I will wait for the unaware expression or just shoot in sports mode and capture quite a few to find the perfect picture.

When the drawing is done, unless the person gave permission for me to take their picture, the name or identity is not given in the title. If I know them but did not ask, the name is kept in my private records. The public label is only a location, the number in the order of the series, and maybe a few words about where I took the picture or how. Many people look a lot like other people which one discovers during the drawing process. I have a picture of an Asian man whom I just cannot draw. I have tried three times but his proportions and the expression on his face is identical to George Bush. It is weird because the photo has very little resemblance to our ex prez, but when depth and character are added to the image, he is a dead ringer. Because of that premise, people have mistaken some of my portraits for being other people that they know. My anonymity factor remains valid.

Okay, back to “reviewing” my own show. Some of the portraits are better than others as I am still learning about soft pastels and adapting to the scale factor. Yes, I draw big because these are not conventional portraits in the true sense of the word, they are meant to be drawings. The images are about process, layering, color relationships and the proportions of the expression. The traditional facial landmark structure is laid out, the same one used since elementary school, and the rest of the face is just a game of connect the dots. The more landmarks the better, give me a wrinkled face any time! What is truly amazing is see that no matter how different we all appear to be, the landmarks don’t really change all that much, a single hair in an eyebrow can shift a face entirely as Lynn Digby can attest. The annoying part is that what we see and who we see, is not who YOU the subject sees. None of us will ever see our own face; even an identical twin is different in miniscule ways. We only see a mirror reflection or a photograph, but never will we see ourselves as others do. 

Okay, let’s try this again, back to reviewing my show…. I think it’s a pretty good one and shows off the new Loft space quite well.  Please stop in and let me know what you think too (hence the guest book and a choice of three pens unless somebody took one….). I do believe that a new tenant will be locating to this space once my show comes down, stay tuned.