22 September 2012

On Petar Meseldzija’s Blog - 7th September 2012

Petar’s post on 'Nature in Contemporary Fantastic Art' struck a few cords with me. I found, a little ways in, he was pointing out that artists could and should depict more intentionally. He was talking about what I call ‘creative responsibility’.

The presence of Nature in the bulk of work today was a major point of concern in his article – for my part, I appreciate this – and he went on to explore the reasons for why it seemed increasingly absent.

One of his reasons was that maybe we are simply “following the current trends and hypes…In other words – our unscrupulous professionalism” is the driving force?
He observed that in the increasing absence of nature, “violence, destruction, deviance, weirdness and ugliness” is the popular “state of mind” being reflected back onto the world.

I have considered versions of this subject, noticing the trends with writers and entertainment at large, and of course art is an irrevocable link in that chain. But art should not be without its creator’s values. If we are visualizing the trends of philosophy, what we are visualizing is just as important a consideration as how and for whom.
But it isn’t a one-time consideration. Being conscious of the value of the stories we depict along with concern for the value of the depiction itself would build artistic integrity. The work grows in proportion to the mind behind it, no?

Being highly imaginative as we are, there is power in our imagery – and to take a nerdy moment – ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Even though, being artists, we keep largely away from public reception, our work goes places, the concepts and stories they represent go places, so let’s be aware of what we take on to illuminate and put forth.
To use Petar’s proposed term, “unscrupulous professionalism” shouldn’t need to be the mental state of a creative individual. Perhaps those veterans in the business would consider my thoughts naïve and idealistic, but I do not hold that we need anything prefacing “professionalism” in order to have both employment and principled work.

And if I can assume as such, it is comforting to think some of what Petar has proposed is of similar philosophy.

To view some of Petar's work, check out his website here.

20 September 2012

Follow Up to 'The Process In Progress...' - The Final

No nonsense; I indulged my ramblings last post. Here is the completed work of 'Brigit' for Spring. To see the first installment with 'Cailleach' for Winter, follow here.

As you might have guessed, Summer and Autumn will be following, but in amongst other projects, as the first two were.

'Brigit', Spring/ Imbolc Greeting, Watercolor, 2012. *Greeting cards available on the shop site soon!

In Celtic cultures, the 'Clootie Well' is a sacred spring or well, often noted with a particular tree, which is decorated with strips of colorful cloth, or 'clootie'.

The most common times of year to visit such wells are the festivals of the seasons, the spring festival being Imbolc, often represented by Brigit.
In Irish mythology, Cailleach - personifying winter - would shed her age in spring waters and become the maiden aspect again, Brigit of craft and healing.

'Brigit', Detail One, 2012.
'Brigit', Hand Detail Two, 2012.
Thoughts are welcome, as always.
As I mentioned in my previous post about the process, 'creative camaraderie' is a good thing, and hard to come by.

'Wheel of Time' character sketches and more, to follow.

17 September 2012

The Process in Progress...

Towards the End!, Studio shot, 2012.
Initial Painting, Detail Shots, 2012.

 As a follow-up on recent posts with regards to a piece called 'Brigit', I've had it finished for a little time now. Only, I had a bit of a hiccough with the scanning.

It is my first dissatisfaction with the place I go to, but whomever was scanning for the day decided a scan meant scanning the original and then playing about with it in Photoshop, instead of just giving me the untouched scan. Well, taking it home to edit, I opened a black and yellow file. Not fun.

Corrections are under way, but until then, if it isn't too disjointed a system, I'm going to put up the PROCESS images of the work now, with concerns and commentary, and then in a post or two the full FINISH will be displayed for any discussion or critique. And now for the bad news...

Third Attempt Stage, Painting Process Detail One, 2012.

I had several tiers of challenge with getting this idea out. Throughout it's conception and execution I've had loads of second-guessing (more than usual), plenty of putting it on hold for the sake of other, more 'sea-worthy' pieces, interjections for a client or two with a quick job, and weeks of seeming defeat! It was horrible. I couldn't even look at the bloody thing on it's board, spotty with layers of color and exposed pencil, oozing mockery.

Anyways, I found my way slowly, here and there, one rock turned a-right this day and another down the road a bit that day. The last push through to clarity was actually my weekend visit to the Allentown Art Musuem in August for their much anticipated 'At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic' exhibit.
I talk a little bit about it in my previous post here, but visiting numerous originals in a wide array of media from such a grouping of admirable artists helped my mental and emotional preparation for re-attacking 'Brigit'.

I think when an artist - at any level - is divorced from examining the work of their inspirations by the reproduction barrier (not to say reproductions are useless), much is lost. I haven't had many experiences with studying a living painting face to vivid face, and less experience doing so with the creations of those I consider my un-consenting teachers. So the 'hand-made' quality palpable in the rooms of 'At the Edge' was just one component of the experience that gave me a creative pat on the shoulder. I came away with ease, with eagerness, with my particular inner-battles won. (To mention nothing of the war).

Third Attempt Stage, Painting Process Two, 2012.

Now, a few of the photos I took while working are up, and as I mentioned first, the finished scan will be up in a following post, yellow-and-black-theme free.

Creative camaraderie is proving difficult to build, even so soon after the college years. I was warned of this stark awareness by instructors and mentors while in school, as we all were, and I could understand why. While there is some beautiful relief in finally being alone in one's process, having even a small circle of colleagues to springboard with, to judge with, to analyze and improve with, is much needed.

Third Attempt Stage, Painting Process Three, 2012.
Next up, the completed piece!
Please stop back for more.


02 September 2012

'At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic' at Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley

I managed to make a trip out to the 'At the Edge' exhibit at the Allentown Art Museum this past weekend with my parents, and it was a truly rewarding experience for all of us.
My mother was eager to view her favorites - Arthur Rackham, Don Maitz, Donato Giancola - and my father was absolutely fascinated by the life-like sculptures of Thomas Kuebler, not to mention N. C. Wyeth and Howard Pyle's work.

I walked through with my sketchbook clutched close; doodling, jotting, scrawling.

Observing originals truly does put more into proportion. It reveals the experience of the work’s making, its hand-made qualities, which are all but washed over in digital, published versions. Once something is duplicated the secrets close up, flatten out, and vanish beneath glossy glamour.

So, standing up close to the bristle marks, thumbprints, smudges, smears, remnant graphite, uncovered canvas, and patches of untainted paper, I saw the pieces for all their home-made glory. To be honest, it was just what I needed to aid in my preparation for going back to ‘Brigit’ Spring.
(More to come on that shortly).

Here is a link to a post by Matthew Innis reviewing the show and the work that produced it.

Underpaintings: 'At the Edge' by Matthew D. Innis

There is also an interesting post by John Jude Palencar about the exhibit on the 'Muddy Colors: An Illustration Collective' blog. Different imagery is shared with a brief historical commentary.

At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic Exhibition by John Jude Palencar

Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, featuring 'At the Edge: Art of the Fantastic'. 2012.