Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reblogging: A Change in Policy

Originally, when I started this blog is was to be just for my own art. Spilt Paint was to be about my work and selling it, promoting it the best that I could. It occurs to me that I have been very shortsighted in a way. And by focusing on myself and my work, I've cut out a vital part of what being an artist is: the things that inspire us.

I posted that cartoon from Rhumer. And today I am going to link to a blog that I have been following. And the reason for that, aside from it being well written and an important message to other artists, is because of something that Amelia said:

Being an artist isn't something one does in 3 years anyway. It's a LIFESTYLE; a way of being; a mode of ongoing thinking and existing ad infinitum.

Art is a lifestyle. If van Gogh's life and death, taught us anything it should be that. Artists are essential to the human condition: feeding the soul, healing wounds, being there when there is not an earthly person to depend upon. Since artistic endeavors look so much like play and not much like work artists tend to take a lot of abuse from the people who could most benefit from our passions. And becoming a paid artist is a lot harder than one could ever imagine.

So I am linking to 101 Bird Tales article here. and telling you all to go for it. Unless you live in the frozen tundra (which is now melting under your feet) you are not too far away from a resource that will let you develop your natural talents. I am close to the tundra in that there is not much that is close to me that I can afford to attend on a regular basis. But I do have the power of the internet and the gift of serendipitous discovery: I can manage to fuel my imagination.

But I can not do it if I am only focused on myself. Look at every artist out there. They belong to some kind of a community. My friend Michelle is constantly in contact with other artists. They feed her and she feeds them. I do not know it musical artists do the same thing... I assume at some point they must, Sting and Dominic Miller being one example. But I do know that without constant immersion in art the well begins to run dry.

That is most likely the root of my current dry spell.... in addition to a profound discomfort in working conditions. There are things still brewing, fleshing out the Unverwundbar and Unendlich inspired pieces is taking a bit of time. Honestly, I don't usually plan pieces so carefully. I mostly work with a slight concept and work the kinks out as I go. This time is different. Still.... I need more art to fuel my own ideas because that is how the process works.

So I think it is time to spice up the Spilt Paint blog with a bit of the things that I find inspiring. I see being immersed in all things BBC has given my writer's imagination some fire for creative thinking over at 6°. So it is time to see what I can do with this one.

A Little Something Fun....

DeviantArt artist Rhumer graciously gave me permission to blog this. The Doctor Who Hub found it and posted it yesterday. This is hilarious... and would explain so much. Here is a link to the deviant page.

Visual Treats: Chihuly Persians

I am not sure what I can really say about this next set of photos from my vacation.  I am glad that we decided to get expensive food to revive us for the rest of the viewing at the Sculpture Park. If we had not then we would have missed the awesomeness that was.

ME: (stumbling and nearly lethargic) Where is the café?
ROOMIE: (staring straight ahead and pointing at the wall markers) It says this way.

[The low ceiling is dark on such an overcast day. Feels like a cave.]

ME: I'm dying. (eyes flitting shut as body temp has risen to an alarming degree)
ROOMIE: We should have had more coffee or breakfast.

[Suddenly the ceiling height rises, sunlight fills a pool of tile on the floor, attention shifts from body pain to....]

ME: OMG!!!!!!!!

IT'S A CHIHULY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I frantically dug out the camera took this shot then walked into the café proper. And what did my wondering eyes behold?

A ceiling full of Chihuly Persians. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would get to see these in person. The visual feast that is his murano processed glass is something that you just have to see in person. A Tacoma, Washington native and resident near Seattle, Dale Chihuly brings color to the art scene in more ways than one. His work is shown around the world. If you are a fan of the show Frasier then you have seen Dale Chihuly's work already.
I snapped tons of shots of the ceiling's rainbow assortment of Persians. And after six hours of near non stop photography I killed the batteries with the last photograph. I would have to buy more batteries to finish the indoor gardens.

I could wish for sunshine all day long. I think it would have made everything in the park stand out more. As it was we had overcast skies and there is little that I can do about it. What I like about his work is that it is radiant in spite of its surroundings. There is just no mistaking a piece of his glass for anything else.

These pieces found themselves somewhat better lit by virtue of artificial lighting. The one shot that I wish I had gone back for, no matter how sore my feet were, was the shot underneath the chandelier. How I would love to have laid under it to look up into that medusa form and feel smothered by light.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Pond wanted a New Van Gogh & She Got It

It would seem that the Doctor heals spirits as well as rifts in time. Just unveiled, published 3 hours ago by the LA Times, a new van Gogh. Things like this don't just happen. Not in the A to B, one foot in front of the other lives that we live. We are so accustomed to life being linear and unyielding that we forget that there are miracles of a wibbly wobbly timey wimey sort. And this is a case in point.

Several remarkable things in this story give my giddy Geek plenty to squee about. So much so that I am not sure which blog this story belongs to. First the director of the Amsterdam Museum that authenticated the work looks a lot like the guy in that episode that played van Gogh. Second, the whole discussion in that episode from Pond with her wanting to extend his life for there to be hundreds of new paintings

Amy: So you were right. No new paintings. We didn't make a difference at all.

The Doctor: I wouldn't say that. The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and... bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things.

The Doctor, later in the Museum: And... if you look , maybe we did indeed make a couple of little changes.

The new van Gogh comes from the period in which the Doctor & Pond visited with him. And yes, I know that it is just a TV show. I know that this is fiction and that in the real world there are no Time Lords from Gallifrey... but I also know that this is how wonderful story telling is done.

The process for authenticating this piece began in the 1990s when the Belgian owner wanted to sell it in the first place. This story has been circulating for a while. And mostly ignored by the rest of the world because we have all been side tracked by wars, plane crashes, celebrity gossip and the like. So somewhere, some when, some one wondered what would have happened if the Doctor had visited with van Gogh. Myself, I wondered after that episode if he might not have kilt him.

In the 6 month period prior to his suicide van Gogh was in more than a little slump. He was talking to his brother about maybe giving up. He could not make his hands do what his mind saw. And he was overly critical of his work... lamenting the haystacks series as failures. This is referenced in the episode. Someone helped him out of it. Theo paid his bills but he wasn't the best source of comfort as far as I can tell. So how did he get out of his funk?

And what all did he paint? 36 x 28 inches is not an incredibly huge ordeal in acrylic by todays standards but it is apparently in oil back in the day. The thick impasto application of oil paints would take a few weeks to dry. How many canvases could he keep going at once? And what happened to make him want to shoot himself?

Just look at this painting

Of course seeing it in person is going to be better. The first pics I saw gave very little contrast between the fore and mid ground so that it looked like little more than a slathering of greens. However, this one from the CBS page shows contrasts in the seeming monochromatic fore and mid grounds. There is just a bit of bright blue dashed about for the eye to follow back to the blue horizon and that fabulous outcropping of buildings. And I would have to say that the gable end of the one building looks an awful lot like a T.A.R.D.I.S in disguise, Tardis blue being the unifying compliment in this piece.

Perhaps Sunset at Montmajour is something else that he considered a failure. Perhaps the flatness in the cluster of trees up front that is little distinguished from the row in the back infuriated himself to no end. Perhaps there was not enough shading in the foliage to make him happy. Perhaps.... when he decided what was wrong with it and tried to fix it the paint was still too wet. Or worse, the thick layers of oil paints would not yield because they had dried.

Here's the thing. If you stare at something long enough you will find all the things that are wrong with it. If you stare at perfection long enough you will find ugly. I'm an artist. I know that not every stroke I put on a canvas is going to be perfect. It isn't about the individual strokes. It is how they all work together. And when you fixate on one little flaw it will ruin the experience of the painting.

When I first saw this my heart leapt out of my chest. It is breathtaking. And it is calming. Personally, I would like to pull up a lawn chair and have a good read in that grove of trees. Sure... it's no Starry Night. But... this is impressionism. We aren't looking for road signs when we sit with the Impressionist Masters. We are looking for their company, for the feelings that they felt, we are hoping not for a history lesson but for community with our emotions. You can pick apart every single work by every single master and find something that doesn't sit well. They won't be glaring flaws like my misshaped apples. But there will be something.

When you are the artist you find the flaws faster because you have the map in your head of how it was supposed to be. Plagued with a notorious demand of perfection from ourselves we will judge our own works far more harshly than anyone else would. Once a guy like him fixes on the things that are wrong there is not a lot anyone else can do to help him out of it. If Sunset was part of a string of paintings he considered "failures" then the shooting becomes more understandable. Not justifiable but understandable.

In either case, he proves over and over again that art is not as easy as everyone makes it out to be; that art is subjective and sometimes the customers know best; and we always want more from our heroes than it is possible for them to give. Except in this case it is possible to have more van Gogh.

Visual Treat: The Horse

Sometimes it is good to get away and see things that challenge or update your own ideas of what is and is not art. I had a lot of that on vacation. It was a spur of the moment thing, we weren't really planning a full out minute by minute itinerary for this trip. My house mate said Grand Rapids and I said "OK." Even when she mentioned the sculpture park I wasn't too enthused. There has been a lot of that lately. But when we got down there I suddenly remembered "THE HORSE!!!!"

da Vinci modeled a horse for the Sforza clan for a commission by the Duke of Milan. The whole statue never was built. The clay model ever got beyond the construction of the horse before it was used for target practice when French soldiers invaded Milan. A few centuries later an American named Dent decided to have it built. The process began in 1977 and was completed just before I went to school in 1999. The story was huge. Every paper carried full page spreads of the newest installation at the Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park. And I was even more excited to get to art school than before.

Life gets in the way the way that it does and it is 2013 before I even think about getting there to see it. When I remembered that he was there... this great war horse of da Vinci's, I felt the fire for art that I haven't felt in a while. I needed desperately to connect with something outside of myself again.

And so....

Looming over a piazza built for him, the stallion is an awesome and fierce looking thing to behold. He can be seen from many vantage points within the garden park. Thankfully my zoom let me get up close and personal for this shot.

It was a hazy day, incredibly overcast with threats of a good shower. Amateur photography is difficult on a day like today because I don't know how to compensate. Just now, while uploading this photo I noticed the rays in the shot. Glorious!


There are three models of the Horse. Here the littlest and the biggest stand in the same pose and the same direction and look like a father teaching a son about military precision stepping. The tiny horse is meant to be touched and enjoyed. The large one can be "hugged" if you are so inclined. I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size of the thing and got a small case of vertigo, so I kept my distance.
The medium sized horse sits perpendicular to the others. One should not "ride" the horse but it is of a size in which one might; though, I think it is still not enough hands high for a proper wartime mount. But for the purpose of photography the medium horse is still a magnificent thing to behold. You can get much closer to the details in the mane and face than with the behemoth in the piazza. And, if you go up around the wall enclosing that part of the piazza, lean a bit against it to get your bearings then you can see this....
 At this vantage point you are part of the sculpture. You are on one horse and looking at the horse of your opponent in battle. You are about to lose your shit and it feels like there is very little you can do about it but muster some strength to fight like a Klingon or

piss yourself and go home.

And I wonder... if the Trojan horse was not this magnificent why the hell would they let the thing into its walls. Any thing less than this is not a gift but an insult. Troy should have known better and since it did not it got what it deserved.

If you would like to see these animals for yourself there are two options. Grand Rapids Michigan at the Frederick Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park or the Hippodrome de san Siro Milan.

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