26 July 2015

Deconstructing "Made New" - From Doodle To Painting In 30 Hours...

...30 hours, plus a handful thrown in for additional drying time of the final protective clear coat layers, that is.

"Made New", then as yet untitled - but for several scribbled notes of potential theme names - began in full, here, in this single doodle drawn in my sketchbook at about a literal thumbprint size rectangle:

An early version, thumbnail sketch, 1" at most, 2015.
I always create the initial rough sketches on a tiny scale, as I learned from my favorite, prolific and wise mentors; the reason, in part, is to remove the distracting tendencies that larger scale rough sketching trap us in, which is to get caught up in the little details of an idea, an idea - concept - that is more in need of broad strokes compositional decision making than in fussing over tangential notions. It's easy to get infatuated with the first stages and running with it, but if you limit your size, you focus better on basic shapes and how they work together within your dimensions to flow into harmony.

Granted, I tend towards delicate pencil work, and I tend towards a combination of visual notes with written notes - it's just the way I think - so some of my conceptualizing is actually represented by words, not marks. I take these written notes into consideration with my visual overlay, and evolve both forms of note-taking from there. As you can see if you're reading my thumbnail, almost all of the written note components were scrapped. (They were scrapped later on, during a critical, pivotal point in the underpainting process, but I'm getting ahead of myself)... 

I'm sure it's weird, but writing has always been a key component to my creative thinking process, so I go with it - Indulge me.

Once I know where I want the shapes in the composition to go, how the figure needs to align within the negative space, I work from my sketches into the next stage - photo reference.

I often shoot myself - humorous pun inherent there - simply because it is too unavoidably convenient. I'm an artist and an artists' model, and I fit the general aesthetic for what I want to work from, and at no cost, other than the occasional contortion, to myself, so why not? Though there are times when mixing it up for the benefit of the art and for my own prevention against boredom is necessary, and I will ask a friend or work in a combination of imagination and reference.

"Made New" is a self-portrait though, so it had to be me! Here are some shots I took of myself:

Self portrait photo reference shoot, Sample reference option, 2015

This is not a good photo reference to choose for the final piece. Here's why:

     1. My hands are doing some weird, quirky finger things. Stepping back, examining it objectively, you don't want your figure in a piece to ever have any off-looking anatomical quirks, however factual they may be; the fingers on my left hand, by my mouth, are obviously capable of doing that, but in art, recreating something odd, however accurately, doesn't read well to the eye, and it break's the viewer's willing suspension of disbelief. They can't be taken along for the ride because they are looking at the fingers thinking, 'those don't look right, maybe it's a mistake'. It would be, if you chose to use them for your final.

     2. As a self portrait, a visage of the artist, a 3/4 face turned away, looking askance, gestures and secondary elements such as the hands aligned oddly, all reads as removed, unfocused, unimportant, without direction or attention. For my goals, this shot misses the point because it doesn't have the priority of the central features of the face to center on, and I want the en face presence to directly meet the viewer, because other elements coming into the composition later need to juxtapose with that. (I'm referring to the open third eye of the hawk, in the palm of the symbolic hand over my forehead). For this piece, the direct, centralized study of the face, framed with symbolic elements, is the goal.

I took many reference shots to play with angles, gesture variations, direction of main light source, and facial expression, but I chose this portrait shot in the end:

Self portrait photo reference shoot, Selected reference, 2015
In short, the hands are doing what I need them to do for the concept, but they are also looking believable, normal, not quirky. They express the gestural mood correctly. The face is full center, but still has the mood to it that I want, readable, able to be studied, but still as if in the motion of turning, looking away, inwards, and therefore redirecting attention to the 'secondary' elements of the upper hand and open third eye, and way the lower hand touches the face. I'm also in a good reference position to get rid of the attaching arm of the upper hand in the final drawing.

So I start drawing. And with this piece, due to limited time and the intended applications of the final painting, I do the final drawing directly onto the surface of the soon-to-be painting.

Final Drawing Stage, Values of the portrait and contour marking for the surrounding.
Toning the ground with cadmium red for the underpainting and beneath the gold leaf areas.
Notice how the values of the en grisaille portrait change when the surrounding space goes from white paper to toned red. I have to keep this effect of developing tone in mind as I build the rest of the painting layers and evaluate how the final impression of the portrait evolves.

Underpainting layers of watercolor and acrylic, "Made New", Studio, 2015.

Painting Progress, Ready for laying down the gold leaf over it's red ground.
After layers of watercolor, acrylic, prismacolor pencil, and fixative and matt medium, accordingly, I'm ready to address the gold leaf placement over it's red ground.

For my gold leaf approach on this piece, I did want to have the effect of the ground tone showing through. I wanted the gold to have an atmospheric quality that worked with the other elements, instead of just covering up, so having the painting underneath meant I could choose how I painted on the adhesive for the gold leaf, and know that the areas I did not deliberately paint the adhesive, the red would remain.
Notice how the gold leaf immediately cools down the piece, knocking down much of that glaring red.

With the steps of adhesive size, gold leaf application, metal-specific sealant over top, and drying time out of the way, I went back in with acrylic to the areas that needed it, tidying up and fine-tuning the details.
I also went back in and deepened the values and details of the face.

Signature, and a final sealing few coats, and the painting is ready for framing!

"Made New" - Self Portrait - 8 1/2x11 1/4", Mixed Media Painting, 2015
Large Detail - Hawk Eye Third Eye Symbolic Palm

Recently, I received the very exciting news that "Made New" has been accepted into a group exhibit this September entitled 'Self Made', a Lancaster county artist's self-portrait show sponsored by the benevolent FigLancaster and hosted by the Sunshine Art+Design gallery right here in the heart of town.

So, if you're in the area this September and would like to see the original work up close and personal, stop by the Sunshine gallery on King St - I'll be there for opening reception, along with my fellow exhibitors, many of whom are local friends, so we'd love if you said hello!

"Made New" is also showing this coming month of August for the exhibit 'Mirror, Mirror' at the HIVE Artspace in York, PA, for those in the area at that time!

Contact me directly here for any inquiries on the availability of "Made New", or for archival art prints of the work for purchase

In the meantime,
-Mairin-Taj

23 July 2015

The "Naked" Situation: Demystifying the Nude Model

{A blog post specifically written for non-artists, or those of you without experience working with a nude model, who are interested in what it's really like to draw from the nude model, and what it's really like to model nude for artists

Many people are vaguely aware that art students, and art professionals, often work with unclothed models for producing art that is related to the human figure.

And without fail, whether these people are family, friends, art-enthusiasts, or critics, the question for them dwells on how artists are able to focus on work instead of the nakedness of another person. What is it like, to have a naked person in a room with you without explicit, pornographic intent? How can you keep from being aroused or else-wise distracted?

20 minute pose, model Tina, graphite, 2014.

As an artist, a life model, and an alumna of an art college, I have been asked that multifaceted question, often phrased something to the affect of, "How do you focus with a naked person in the room?"

I’m going to dedicate this post to demystifying the experience - the specific practice - of working with a nude model, and I’m going to do this by conveying to you an in depth breakdown of a typical session between artists and model in a curricular setting. ‘A day in the life of’, if you will.

I'm going to cover the order of events, what an artist is actually paying attention to, what the model is actually paying attention to, why the nudity is such an easily dismissed thing in the situation, and how this aspect of artists' discipline is so important.

There are a few things I want to get absolutely clear, before I tell all:

      1. I have been an art student, and I am currently both a life model for artists as well as a practicing artist myself, with a BFA in Illustration and five years of art modeling experience with both academics and professionals, so I am able to shed light on the situation from both perspectives – the drawer and the drawee, if you will.

     2. In the art world, for business or for study, we refer to the model’s de-clothed state as “nude”, not “naked”, and generally, because words have impacting power, the difference is intentional. ‘Naked’ often holds a subjective or sexual connotation. ‘Nude’ is appropriately dispassionate.

     3. If, at any point from here on out I say ‘session’, I am referring to the class or block of time during which a model is posing nude for the artist(s) present. It’s a common term for life drawing study.

     4. And when I say ‘life’ drawing, or ‘life’ model, I am referring to the practice of working from life, that is, from real world, real time representation of a thing, in this case, the human figure. It can also refer to still life subject matter, such as food or inanimate objects, or from nature.


I’m going to attempt to clearly paint the picture, so to speak, of a session, from start to finish, of working artists and model. 
As I’ve been on both sides of the drawing easel many times, I’m going to universally describe the scene of the day, between what the instructor is doing, to what the students are doing, and what the model is doing, all in tandem, to accomplish field specific learning. 

Imagine an industrial-style studio classroom equipped with lights, large scale windows and blinds, copious heavy duty metal easels, art horses, a few carts on wheels, and a wooden model stand. However that visualizes in your head will be sufficient.

Ready?

Let’s begin:

     A little before 9am, when some of the students have already arrived and selected an easel for the day, the model walks in to the room, carrying a bag of basic provisions and a bottle of water.
Exchanging a casual ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ to the early students, she assesses the space of the classroom and locates an out-of-the-way spot to keep her belongings for the duration of the session.
If the instructor is already present, a brief discussion is exchanged about the plan for the day, the size of the class or the level of skill, or the instructor and model’s different experience and expectations, depending on whether or not the instructor and model have worked together before.

     Much like the easy dialogue between employer and employee in a small business, or the relaxed banter of colleagues with similar, running business associate history, the instructor and the model are on the same page about what the goals for what the session entails, and how to plot out the time for the session accordingly.

     At this time the instructor usually addresses the class, often about a dozen to two dozen students, and sets them to arranging their workspaces for the day.

     Now ‘work space’. For any artist in a life drawing session, we require some kind of seated or standing easel to prop our drawing boards, sketch pads, or sketchbooks upright on, the better to maintain perspective as we look from the model to our paper and back again, always making informed marks. Some close-by space to place our pencils, charcoal, watercolor brushes and paints, markers, conté crayons, pastels, or other medium of choice for taking down what we see, should be arranged as well.
   
     Each student sets up these required components of their workspace within about a few foot sphere, one next to another, generally forming a crescent or half circle roughly a good few paces distance from the model’s stand. Sometimes the model is placed at the center of a circle of students, but this simply varies on the instructor’s preference and the dimensions of the room. The instructor will be pacing the room, monitoring the student’s progress, stepping in here or there to lend his advice, disclosing for the student what he can see going on in their process that they might be unaware of and need to consciously improve.

     But as soon as the instructor cues the artists to collect their workspaces and set up the room, everyone is of an attitude of presence. Presence on the little personal ways in which they know how to organize their materials, presence on coordinating the easels into a cooperative position which will not block the view of either fellow to the right or left or slightly behind, presence on the instructors tid-bits of advice as they find the right set up, presence on what the session’s goals are asking of them to study and learn, and absolutely presence on their own mindsets, adjusting psychologically to ‘ok, work mode, I’ve got to practice my art discipline if I am going to get better today’ kind of personal pep-talk.

     Sometimes, you just aren’t in the mood to draw from life. Sometimes, you’re not in the right headspace to do the best job, to focus on all the elements of composition, anatomy, and medium to pull together a good use of the opportunity of working from the model for that day. Life can just be off that day.
     Going into the office in the morning isn’t always what you’re in the mood to do at that time, but you go into the office so you can take care of the million and one things that get you one day closer to mastering your job, your skills, your career, your money. When these daily disciplines need attending to, your mindset, your energy, your reality, must reflect the attention to them, and only them.

     So the students are sorted and ready, the instructor is finished answering any questions or helping set up, and has his timer, and the model has since gone to the restroom to change from normal clothes to a robe of some sort from their bag, and is now standing near by, stretching, watching, having a sip of water or adjusting the temperature on a little space heater, if the room is cold.

     It is time to warm up.

     Usually all artists need to warm up their practice for the day with quick, loose, gesture drawing. This is quite aptly the fast-paced capturing of a figure, posed expressively, dynamically, designed to both physically loosen up the artist’s arm, wrist, hand-eye coordination, as well as analytical observation, compositional organization, and focus. It helps the model to warm up their posing, as well; a model doesn’t start straight into a half hour long standing pose without warm up any more than a ballet dancer heads bluntly into a string of grand jetés.

     The instructor sets the timer for the first one minute gesture pose, nods to the model, who strikes a pose on the stand under the studio lights, and academic quiet centers the room.
     The familiar susurrus of a couple dozen swift graphite sticks marking paper simultaneously fills the silent atmosphere.

     The model is poised, nude, in a contra postal with hands up, head turned, watching her own thoughts quietly, statuesque, removed, objectively observed by artists with a scrutiny on skeletal alignment, center of balance, fleshy landmarks, perspective reference points, imaginary proportional guides, mass indicators, structure breakdown, line weight, line continuity, description, precision, speed, efficient mark use, and four, three, two, one… “Next pose”.

     A flurry of pages tucking hastily behind drawing boards or over easels in unison, the model comes to life again, slowly, stretches a wrist or a leg gently, attention inwards, then strikes a new pose that will both balance comfortably and be expressive for the artists, and once more, statuesque, with whispering pencil strokes documenting the physics of what is seen.

     Next pose. And another. Several minute long gesture poses are followed by the instructor announcing a short break for the model, she nods her appreciative acknowledgment and gets down from the stand, donning her robe again, and the students relax from their easels, temporarily setting aside their self-analysis for a few minutes of chatter. How did you do? Where’s your sketchbook? Can I borrow your kneaded eraser? I need an extra blade for my knife to sharpen this pencil. So what were you saying about the new Jurassic movie? I had absolutely no sleep last night, getting that painting done… 
     The model has meanwhile found her robe, stretched a bit, found her water bottle, and gone for a short stroll around the hallway. No one is bothered. It’s routine.

Five 1 minute and the first of five 2 minute gestures.
Female model, graphite

     A few minutes later, once a brief shake out has been accomplished, the model returns and moves to get ready, thinking through what the time will be like and therefore what best suits for new poses. The instructor notifies everyone they’re going to progress to longer gesture studies, about five minutes each this time.

     Timer on, model holds a new pose, and the eyes of the students are reading structure, balance, line, form, and proportion through the air again, laying down as much information as possible in as few marks as manageable, before five minutes is up.
As soon as the model got back up on the stand and the instructor picked up his timer, they paused their banter and shrugged on that ethereal weight of expectation, commitment, analysis, and self-judgment.

     Always, as an artist, student or otherwise, there is this cerebral dance of confidence and degradation corresponding meticulously with each moment mapping marks on the page. It’s about objectively understanding what one’s looking at, and how to capture it correctly. This dedicated foundation of learning is what provides the dexterity, the clarity, and the creative vision to elevate skill into the truly inventive and dynamic realms of art-making. This is why it is so important, and why indulgent sexuality is not present in the situation. There is no functional, practical, or relevant place for it here.

Two 10-20 minute poses, female model, graphite, 2015.

     Often, after various segments of gesture sketches, or the warm up, poses for the model progress to ten, fifteen, or twenty-minutes long, spaced between short breaks that may be longer if the pose is longer.
     Twenty minutes of posing, of whatever combination, followed by five minutes of break to stretch or what have you, rinse and repeat, is a common breakdown for a model.
     For artists to render more detailed, completed life drawings, poses have to be longer of course, but accommodating the model is accomplished by interjecting stretch breaks into one pose; for example, if the model is holding a specific, seated long pose for an hour, she is given one or two brief breaks within that hour pose, as needed. It is ideal if the model is good at her job and able to recreate the pose as soon as sitting down again, but tape markers usually help the pose be recreated accurately. Artists are also ideally able to instruct the model on how to adjust to be posed exactly as they were before their break, as the artists have an excellent perspective on what is right and what is wrong in reference to the last segment.

     I have had six hour-long studio sessions where, for the later half of the day – for three hours – I am to maintain one pose. It gives the artists three hours, baring break times, to capture the same pose, the same portrait, the same figure alignment, values, etc. Before the use of the camera, in reference photography for artists, long poses like this were how traditional, representational artists composed and painted works with the human figure.

     For the model, it can be tiring, taxing, and straining, because we humans are not designed to hold perfectly still. We have not evolved to be motionless; our lifestyles and our very genetic makeup revolve around movement.
     Of course we need to sit down and have a rest every once and a while, and naturally we need to sleep, but we are not built to hold still, as if statues, contorted and tensed throughout our complex musculature, motionless.
     Even when you think you are just standing there, you’re typically moving in some way. You could be standing still on both feet, but you’re moving your head to look about you, to notice life moving around you, to move your eyes in their sockets and change the angle of your neck ever so slightly, this way to that, and back.
     You may be seated at your desk all day, but you are tapping your feet, shaking your leg, flexing your ankles, changing your feet from flat on the floor to alternating the weight between them, to lounging back in your seat with your legs out so that your lumbar and buttocks can have a break for a bit. You move your torso from slightly hunched to more upright, from leaning on the left elbow to leaning on the right, and back, and any number of combinations. You stand up and stretch, over and over, or take a walk to the coffee room, in your own time. Moving our bodies, in little, seemingly insignificant ways, or in more obvious and active ways, are all important forms of motion that help our systems stay fluent, strong, and vital.

     When you model for artists who are actively observing the physics of you in space, while capturing it on paper, you cannot move your weight from one leg to the other and back again. You cannot tap one foot to keep yourself feeling fresh, or turn your neck to loosen up the slow creeping rigidity of the spinal vertebrae. You cannot drop your arm poised in the air after a few minutes, when it grows heavier, and you cannot lounge on a couch for half an hour, as you please, when your pelvis is feeling tense from holding the weight of a torso twisted in the opposite direction of your lower half, while you’ve been rooted in only one leg.
     Breathing, careful use of your poses, stretching, shaking out, even closing your eyes for a bit on a break, are all important methods of not getting so tired of something so unnatural and demanding on the body. A considerate instructor, patient, understanding artists, the option of a space heater or a fan, depending on the temperature, are all helpful aids.

     So as a model, you’re not thinking about your lack of clothes. Clothes become irrelevant almost immediately. You take off your robe, there may be a moment or two of  ‘this is different, I’m naked and around other people’, and then your reality lets go of this minor difference between you and the others, and the task at hand becomes all you address. Your job, as in any other job, needs doing. Get it done, do it well, pack up, and go home to make dinner.
     In fact, I’ve often let my time while modeling be put to thinking about grocery lists, meal ideas, the next stages of work I need to get done on my own painting in the studio at home, or, all my experiences in the academic art world and how I could organize a demystification of what it’s really like drawing from the nude for a new blog post on the Art Dispatch…

     Over the course of the day, throughout different length poses demonstrating different alignments of the human anatomy and it’s dynamic relationship to space, light, perspective, the instructor has been moving attentively from one student to the next, checking in on their practicing skills, noting silently of progress and intention, commenting where it will be constructive, boosting morale if necessary, pointing out unique or key facets of a pose that should be seen for what they are, clearly, wisely, for the aid of producing better renderings on the page. 
     The instructor may at some point also provide lectures during the model’s breaks, to use other artist’s drawings and paintings as reference to certain lessons that are the focus of the session. Or he may perform a demonstration, taking some time during a pose to explain the process of his own drawing from the model, as the students watch, gathered round.

20 minute pose, model Steve, portrait study, graphite, 2014.

     But finally, after the last pose, when the model and the students have spent their session on drawing the human figure as well as they could have, the timer will go off, the instructor looks to the model, thanks them for their services, and lets the students know it’s time to wrap up. They may select their best work from the day to be submitted to the instructor for grading, or to contribute their favorite page to the wall for a group critique, or simply to collect their work, their tools, and dissolve into casual banter once more, often being appreciative and respectful enough to personally thank the model on their way out.
     As if packing up a briefcase from the office, or collecting the lunch box remains from the business fridge at the end of the day, the model changes from her robe back into her normal clothes in the rest room, returns to collect her bag and water bottle, may address the instructor, clear up any payment form information that might need sorting out, depending on the administration of the school involved, exchange a coworker conversation, and then head out.

     Back home to make that dinner.

     So, as so many people manage to exclaim on the subject, ‘they’re just naked in front of you?!’… Yes, technically, they are naked, as in, without clothing of any kind. And that’s really as far as that observation goes, for the student, the artist, or the model. Granted, a model in this situation should be fairly comfortable with themselves, enough to get past it, and yes, there are precise rules of conduct and professionalism to always be maintained when in these situations, for everyone’s benefit.

     Nevertheless, the studious discipline of learning from life, and from the living human figure, has been in effect in society as far back as the ancient Egyptians and the Grecians.  The great Renaissance sculptors and painters were prolific in their practice, and the golden age of illustration was rich with combining the traditional study from life with the reference of photography for producing representationally compelling art.
     It is the epic, effective lineage of learning that artists today still utilize in their own education. The human figure is irreplaceable in its dominance of art and science, in it’s use in creativity, and in it’s relatable, conceptual application throughout the world.

     As an artist, once in work mode, there is no time for being sexually attracted to the naked person in the room, no space for thinking of it, or for doing anything about it, and no compulsion to, in the experience I’ve described. You remain a sexual being, as they all do, but the fact is suspended, removed from the table, temporarily forgotten, almost, in service to the discipline at hand, which is learning from the nude life model.


Further questions, comments, or related thoughts on the topic in this post are welcome! Please comment below.
And as always, if you wish to contact me directly, contact me HERE.

-Mairin-Taj 

18 July 2015

US Copyright Act Could Dissolve Our Livelihood - Here's Why

"We are trying to get as many artists as are interested in preserving the rights to their own futures, and their own ability to make a living, to write letters to the copyright office." -Brad Holland

There is so much information to cite to get into all of it, but I want to quote important sections from Brad Holland and write up a breakdown of what is happening for anyone who wants to better understand the picture we artists are looking at, impending this week.

{All quotes of Brad Holland, from the video interview link - Watch the interview HERE}

THE DEADLINE IS JULY 23rd, 5PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME

Following the links, there are forms that you can fill out, and submit to the Copyright Office.
For U.S. artists writing in, go HERE.

For International artists writing in, EMAIL your letters of concern HERE:


Catherine Rowland
Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office

crowland@loc.gov

For a third time now, Congress is trying to draft a new US Copyright Act, and it will affect all of us one way or another.

     "It is important that artists begin to write letters to the copyright office simply to show that we are concerned about copyright and that we need to find a place for ourselves in this new digital marketplace".

The Mass Digitization motivating lawyers to write this bill completely excludes any sufficient research into how Copyright law is an imperative asset to artists' livelihood.

Brad Holland goes on to explain the proponents' view on our rights:

     "In a nutshell, our work is too important for us [artists] to keep. They're making the argument that our work is so valuable to the culture that everybody has to have access to it."

Holland gives an example using himself:  

     "Let me put this simply. I would estimate, 'cause I've been doing work now for major magazines since 1967, for me to register everything I've ever done would cost me at least a quarter of a million dollars, take me ten years to comply with this law. There's no way I would do it. Not only that, but I would effectively become the unpaid employee of the registries, because I would have to devote my own time and my own money, to giving them my work, along with a list of all my clients and the contact information for all my clients. Well, think about this; once they have your work, and your clients, why do they need you?"

What's more, they would be able to make what's called 'derivative work' from your work, which, according to this new copyright law, would only require them to alter your work slightly - changing the saturation, the cropping, the compositional vertical or horizontal alignment - to claim it as their own, and therefore make further profit off of its use, with you, the originator of the work, never seeing a penny.

"There is no other word for this. This is a proposal to legalize the theft of private property." 

By our own government!

If the proposals go through, say goodbye to the copyright law as we have known it since 1978, which says anything you produce is yours, inherently, for your life, plus 50 (since the last 20 years, +70) years, baring certain fair use exceptions.

The opponents of the current system, the people who want this new copyright law in place, argue that because any formalities, such as registration, have not been required heretofore, people cannot find copyright owners (artists). They argue their new system, which requires everything any artist has ever done or will do to be registered, will solve this problem.

Holland explains why it is so important for artists to actively get involved now:

     "Now this system, this unfair, this unjust system, this 'not-include artists' system that has been going on, has been going on for twenty years, so what we're fearful of is that it is also become what a famous anti-trust lawyer once called 'settled expectations in the marketplace', which means that the marketplace has become accustomed to this [system] and it's too late for artists to claim their own rights. That's why it's important that we [artists] begin to write and do something about it.

     "We need to literally explain to the Copyright Office how this is going to affect our business. The people who write these bills are lawyers, they have never examined our business, they don't know a thing about it. The theory for this law...came from one law professor at the George Washington Law School at American University...His entire research into the bill, according to their own written document to the Copyright Office, was a one day seminar held back in 2003, attended by the very people who want this legislation. After that the blueprint for the bill was written by eight law students who attended that one day seminar. And from that they claim that they know enough about our business to write our business plans for us".

In 2008 the artists in opposition to the attempt at passing this same bill to change copyright law wrote in 165,000 letters, and consequently it was not passed.

Now we need to do it again, for a third time. And we need to write more.

You can write up your letter entirely online at the links below. It can be a short, concise letter, or a long one, but what we need to explain is that the copyright law as it currently stands is imperative to our business structure, to our work, to our future survival.

More Information - Artists Alert: The Illustrator's Partnership HERE

Again - For U.S. artists, write and submit your letters HERE

             For non-U.S. artists writing in, submit your concerns to:

Catherine Rowland
Senior Advisor to the Register of Copyrights
U.S. Copyright Office 

crowland@loc.gov         

Watch, or listen to, Brad Holland's interview HERE

View Sample Letters submitted, and other important information on submitting letter content, HERE

THE DEADLINE IS JULY 23rd, 5PM EASTERN STANDARD TIME

Please share any and all links or relevant information to fellow artists, students, art instructors, or supporters concerned. If you consider yourself an artist, or an appreciator of the visual arts, this should matter to you.

Let's unite, and stop this act for the third time!

-Mairin-Taj

06 July 2015

Welsh Trilogy - Drawing One {Dog} - "Arawn, Lord of the Underworld"

I've decided to blog about these three pieces of the Welsh series in three stages, or chunks.

I've concluded the conceptual, reference, and drawing processes of this first piece, and am eager to share the final, full entry version at length; if you've been following along on my process feed on Instagram or FB, you'll recognize some of these, but the series warrants a bit more in depth development of conceptual origin and the ultimate goal.

I'll be sharing the collective process of each of the other two works of this series separately, in their own posts, once they are likewise completed.

So, to start, 'Welsh Trilogy'...

My roots in inspiration for illustration come from my infatuation with mythology. I'm prone to the celtic stories, myself. The Welsh mythos, detailing similarly naturalistic iconography to that of the Irish and Scottish cultures, is well encapsulated, for the most part, in the Mabinogion.

I've mentioned the Mabinogion in my recent post about "What I'm (Re)Reading", which you can catch up on HERE.

But in short, the Mabinogion is a collection of stories expressing various branches of Welsh mythology, describing the deeds and events around key ancient heroes, heroines, and villains. The noble protagonists and antagonists of the stories are generally the archaic gods of Wales, if not legendary humans, roaming the land.

One of these classic characters is Arawn, Lord of the Underworld, a removed realm known as Annwn. Arawn of Annwn is a kind of king figure, who presides with wisdom over his land, and interacts with the human, living world as if it were a neighboring country. In early British myth, the symbols of the Underworld, or the Otherworld, and of healing, ushering, or death archetypes, are large white hounds with red ears.

As with the other two works for this trilogy series, I am making a totemic connection between mythological figures and their corresponding animals, because, in these Celtic origins, Nature is married irrevocably with human experience.

For Arawn, Lord of the Underworld, his animal is the white and red-eared dog, and he'll be portrayed in shadow, with the white and red-tipped ears, holding a precious golden apple, key to his realm.

Here is the drawing for the piece:

Arawn, Lord of Annwn, Dog of the Underworld, 2015.

There will be three final drawings on soft deckled 100% cotton Rives BFK, 10x13", and then there will be three final paintings, full color, of the same size.

Here are break down snap shots of the behind the scenes process for this drawing:

Preliminary Sketch, graphite on paper, 2 1/2x3 1/2"
Early Stages, Final Graphite Drawing, 8x10" Live Area
Laying in the values of the negative space, Graphite, Studio Shot, 2015.
Final Drawing, Detail, "Arawn of Annwn" - Back and Apple, 2015

In the meantime, I'll give you a clue to the remaining two pieces in the trilogy: horse, and owl.

This is a fun and intriguing project to work on, and I am eager to see them all to the painting stage!

If you would like to see more, or have any comments to contribute to the project, please share below in the comments section! I'm always interested in feedback.

Find more process information and current work on my Instagram page - I post a lot of imagery about my work and my travel there - Find me at Mairin-Taj Caya - In Medias Res

-Mairin-Taj

28 June 2015

"What I'm Reading" - 'Tracks' & 'Far from the Madding Crowd'

I've got two books I'm going to impose the recommendation of, associated links, and the conceptual connection for my own creative path that I'll expound on at the end, which leads into more art.

Currently, I've been delving into the fascinating, powerful, and much empathized with story of Robyn Davidson in her book 'Tracks', about her 'solo trek across 1,700 miles of Australian Outback in the 1977.

If you haven't heard of Robyn, or her National Geographic featured trek, perhaps you've seen the movie, or at least the trailer, for the adaptation of her book, so named 'Tracks', starring Australian native Mia Wasikowska.




There's some stunning vintage photojournalistic documentation of Robyn's journey taken by National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan here

Check out the trailer for Tracks here

Excerpt:

"The trip had never been billed in my mind as an adventure in the sense of something to be proved. And it struck me then that the most difficult thing had been the decision to act, the rest had been merely tenacity - and the fears were paper tigers. One really could do anything one had decided to do whether it were changing a job, moving to a new place, divorcing a husband or whatever, one really could act to change and control one's life; and the procedure, the process, was its own reward." -Tracks, by Robyn Davidson
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I've also been getting into Thomas Hardy's epic 'Far from the Madding Crowd', which has been around for over 140 years, if that title sounds unfamiliar to you.

The lyricism and pastoral vision of Hardy's writing in his tale makes his intimacy with the land a central, defining character to all moods and moments throughout the story. I love that.



They've also come out with a new, fresh take in the May 2015 film version here
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While vastly different, to the letter, the over-arching common theme here is the woman's story of development and independence, personal fortitude, unconventional character, and vision.

I'd say these are key themes, for myself, as well as in my creative pursuits.

Much of what drove my development out of childhood and into adulthood was rooted in wilderness training, working the land, seasonal survival education (with community as well as solo), travel, and the huge value of quality time alone. Not what you'd expect of an aspiring artist, always drawing from the age of three, no?

Well, as I've said before, communication and empathy are the infrastructure of successful story-telling art. I believe well-rounded experience in life creates a well-rounded, resourceful, empathetic artist; and this is certainly what I'm referencing when I cite my fifteen year background in ballet and other dance styles, primitive wilderness survival training and outdoor education, agricultural experience, care-taking and volunteer outreach, creative writing, and various mythological academia.

My professional, creative, freelance, and lifestyle goals are oriented around these interests from my background, certainly how they apply towards a better future - globally, environmentally, culturally, and personally.

Finding how we can apply our interests, diverse skill sets, and spherically expansive goals to our art work, for an income, is the hard part. And it is constantly changing, besides. No wonder we need strong stomachs for striking out into the unknown, in society. It's scary. It's...uncomfortable.

Growth, change, progress, it's all uncomfortable. If it were comfortable, it would be easy, and then nothing would get done.

That's enough of my waffling on for now.

What's inspiring you to move forwards in your work, your art, your life goals, your happiness?



More soon,
As always,

-Mairin-Taj