INSPIRATIONAL ARTIST

Here’s another artist that inspires me, he’s on the blogroll. Hugh MacLeod is a major marketing maven and cartooning monster who truly knows what creative is and what creativity is for. This cartoon for “businessneedsmoreart.com” just nails what art does for the culture. More art = more inspiration, every every time I experience good art I’m inspired, inspired to create. Good art doesn’t just inspire “artists” it inspires everyone, inspires innovation. Hugh has recognized a cycle of productivity here that is self perpetuating, feed art in one end and more art comes out of the other. And having some profit in the middle isn’t bad either.

<tangental rant>The canonical example of creative, innovational, profit of course is Apple (full disclosure: I do not own any Apple stock or products). As overhyped as it sounds to deny it is simply not seeing reality. Like, dislike, agree, disagree Apple has revolutionized both music and telephone, period. Where did that come from? Good art! Jobs was an appreciator of artistic expression who savored elegance and nearly worshipped craftsmanship. As mentioned, though I’ve never personally owned an Apple product I have used them and been struck by their simple beauty. Try this; go to Fry’s and ask them to pop the hood on one of the computers and note the mess inside, the inside you don’t see. Now go to an Apple store and do the same, big difference.<end rant>

Now get your head out of the box and go make/do something.


PROFESSIONALS NETWORK

Went to my sporadic network meeting last night. Just a loose group of different business people, maybe 25 – 30 of us. All kinds too, some realtors, insurance brokers, a house cleaning service, a painting contractor, some writers, a publisher of children’s books etc. This night there were 14 of us and I was the only “creative”, I thought.

Discussion was aimed at aligning your actions so your business flows. You don’t want the receptionist to greet people with ‘Whadaya want?’ as this may not entice them to venture any farther through the door. I’m listening to a financial broker describe how he structured an acquisition deal from beginning to end, the flows he had to develop and the stops to overcome. Later a bookkeeper remarked that you may not need a full-time bookkeeper if you have a ‘housekeeper’ to corral your financials so the bookkeeper can sort it, say every quarter.

Then I was realizing as our business is growing and we still only have that expanding file as our ‘housekeeper’ and we’re stuffing more stuff in it all the time. We were out of town last weekend location scouting for the new novel and mileage, and the meals, and the purchase of the town map, and the local newspaper and it’s all business expenses to track.

What I really got from this meeting is how any business doesn’t run itself by itself. It’s all these different parts accountants, finance, cleaning, bookkeeping, and fresh green plants running together and areas of expertise that can make a ‘creative’ solution. Not everyone’s job title is Artist, but a true professional is creative.


MORE GETTING GOOD

Practice makes perfect. Really?? Why??

Keith Bond has an interesting article at Fine Art Views.

He offers a couple of suggestions:
“Do a variety of exercises to develop different skills from color theory to composition to values, perspective, creativity, expression, etc. There are hundreds of exercises you could do.

But most importantly – the best way to practice is simply create. Create with the attitude that the piece you are working on does not need to be a masterpiece. It does not need to be exhibited. It is simply for discipline.”

Drill, drill, drill.

I have learned the basics of proportion, where are the eyes on the face, how wide is a mouth, and extending to anatomy, how long is an upper arm compared to the lower arm etc. I try to draw these exercises a couple times a week, just keeping my hand in.

When you have the basics you have someplace to start and when you start you have someplace to go. Don’t start; no go.

Practice, discipline, practice, hard work, discipline, and practice will lead to Mastery. And as I quoted Hugh MacLeod earlier: “Something inte­res­ting and valua­ble. … It may be an old-fashioned word that makes peo­ple uncom­for­ta­ble, but that’s only because it’s something that elu­des most people.”

But when you actually have mastered something: “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

I like that last, “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”


HOW DID THEY GET THAT GOOD

Practice makes perfect. Sounds good, but it needs to be perfect practice. Well what is that??

I have heard it advocated that one should ‘paint a picture a day’ and this will speed one to artisthood. Maybe this comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s observation that it takes about 10,000 hours to become a ‘Master’. Maybe it does, but standing over a canvas on the floor and drizzling paint out of a bucket for 10k hrs. will not make you Jackson Pollack, sorry. No it has to be 10k hrs. of actually doing something. Let’s stick with Pollack. There is a lot going on in a Pollack painting, and it isn’t jump out at you illustration. You have to “contribute” to a Pollack to get something out of it, whether it is the landscape, or the portrait, or the still life. And they didn’t get into the painting by just drizzling paint. Look up some of the videos of him at work, it’s work.

If you look at the larger body of some Old Master’s work, someone who’s left a lot of paintings, and sketches, and etchings, etc. you see that there are the same, or very similar, poses and figures. Here in Guido Cagnacci’s Death of Cleopatra he has used the same face and he is able to put the different emotions on it, not by chance surely.

There is no quick fix nor is quantity alone an answer. You won’t become a Master by turning out one piece of crap a day, but you will get better if you turn out one perfect hand/leg/arm/nose every drawing session. Discover, recover, uncover the basics of drawing a hand, foot, etc. and then do that, drill the basics. When it becomes your own it will not leave you.

Hugh MacLeod in a talk made 20 points about success here is what he says about mastery:

“17. In a word: MASTERY. They’ve MASTERED something. Something inte­res­ting and valua­ble. They are MASTERS of their craft. It may be an old-fashioned word that makes peo­ple uncom­for­ta­ble, but that’s only because it’s something that elu­des most people.

18. Though, having watched these mas­ters care­fully first-hand, I can honestly say MASTERY is more satisf­ying than money. If you’re up for it, yes, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN MONEY, MASTERY MATTERS MORE THAN SUCCESS.

19. And it’s por­ta­ble. It tra­vels with you, whe­re­ver you go. No land­lord, no boss, no reces­sion, no Wall Street analyst, no news­pa­per cri­tic can take it away. It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”

I like that last, “It’s something that truly belongs to you, for always.”


WHY ALL THE INTEREST IN THE DEFINITION

I have recently been writing about my views on what is art, the negative influence of gatekeepers (galleryist and dealers), and decrying the rise of the ‘opinion’ critic.

I hadn’t really given much thought to art publications until I came across Brian Sherwin writing at Fine Art Views who said: “It is vital that we — the art community as a whole — have sources of art writing that are not dictated solely by ad sales or other influential business factors. After all, it is no secret that traditional/commercial print art publications are often burdened by the revenue model (the influence of ad sales and other business factors) that sustains them — and that traditional/commercial print art writers, due to that revenue model, are often ‘pinned down’ as to what they can write about for their employers. The public has noticed the Devil in the details. … — we expect more from art writing in general. We want something that is more authentic.”

By advocating the promotion of a unified definition of what art is this will make it easier and more informative to read about and remark upon.


LOOKING

Last time I talked about how Art is defined and the importance of contribution. Let’s look at these two drawings, studies by Degas for a painting.

Is this a feeling of repose?

Is this a dancers movement or a longing outreach to a lover?

The Painting is titled “Scene de Guerre au Moyen Age (Scene of War in the Middle Ages)” click image to see larger

So this one is titled “Interieur” it is an illustration of a passage from “Therese Raquin” by Emile Zola. What does it say to you??

And now being told it is also (mis)titled “Le Viol (The Rape)” what does it say??

It is in the contribution that there is art.


ART

The “I like it.” “I don’t like it.” criteria for what is art can be valid, but only for that one person. How can you decide what is art in a more universal sphere.

Back in January last year I was ranting about gatekeepers and critics eviscerating Art. My whole point is that the idea that someone other than the ‘appreciator’ SHOULD dictate what is art and what is good taste is WRONG.

Too many instances of some galleryist proclaiming themself an arbitor of Art, taste, or value actually flies in the face of what art is.

The philosopher L. Ron Hubbard in his seminal series of essays on Art says “Art is a word that summarizes the quality of communication.” So Art is a communication and how good is that. How good does it have to be?

In the essay Art, More About he says how good the technique must be: “Technical expertise itself adequate to produce an emotional impact.” Are you writing a sad song, is it good enough to make the listener feel blue, can it make the listener cry?

How do you know what effect is evoked? From the essay Art and Communication “True art always elicits a contribution from those who view or hear or experience it. By contribution is meant ‘adding to it’.”

So how can a ‘gatekeeper’ tell anyone about art? Clearly all they can tell is their opinion and everyone knows an opinion’s relation to anatomy. However within the framework of a communication of sufficient technical execution to elicit a contribution there is now a way to at least talk about a piece to another from a common ground. And it may still be I like, I don’t like but one can now judge how much.

Next I want to look at some work through this viewpoint.