Tag Archives: enjoying art

Doodle Week Challenge: Doodle Away Your Bad Dreams!

I don’t usually post the Doodle Weeks; and, like too many of you, I am a sad participating in them as well. (Shame on all of us!) But, as coincidence (or my weird psyche) would have it, I had a bad dream last night — so bad I had to blog about it at my nearly dead dream blog. And the rule at that blog, such as it is, is that I’m to sketch or doodle a little part of the dream or otherwise illustrate the post. (Perhaps this is where my self-direct art therapy comes into play; why this art moves me so and maybe even why I was prompted forced to have such a strong dream, one strong enough to force me to post and therefore doodle.) So anyway, I had to draw a basset hound.

Amazing facts about the doggie doodles: One, they are done in pen! Amazing feat for anxious me. Two, the first one, posted at the dream blog, is the one I like best.

Perhaps these were so easy today because I needed this art therapy so badly; it was easy to bark away the bad spell. Or, perhaps they were easy because I used to doodle dogs all the time. Some sort of muscle-memory thing. As a kid (what we’d call a “tween” today), I used to doodle dogs like this:

In any case, I do seem to have shaken the worst of the after affects of the nightmare.

In fact, I feel rather light and — dare I say it! — joyful.

So, kiddos, I challenge you to doodle your bad dreams away.  Doodle something little that cheers you up.  It could be a dog, something you once doodled as a kid, or whatever pops into your head.

When you doodle, be sure to share it with us as part of Doodle Week.  (Come back here and leave a comment, a link to where we can find it!)  You can share your doodle, share your thoughts on the doodle exercise — both!  I look forward to seeing and hearing how the doodle drawing works for you!

The Most Awesome Thing I’ve Discovered In A Long Time

I’ll admit, I get excited — I’m probably the definition of “easily amused” — but when I was told about Project ETHOS, I was giddy with excitement.

Project ETHOS merges fashion, music, and art in one event, at once creating a unique avenue for both participants (artists) and attendees. It’s not your usual “incubator,” shielding and nursing talent, but instead it launches and nourishes artisans.

Project ETHOS closes the gap between the Indie and Mainstream worlds with an experienced and focused eye for talent. Creating a link to decision makers is what drives us to be a niche portal of exposing all emerging artistry to the media, public and industry.

It’s the combination of concert, fashion show, and art gallery exhibition all at one event! Isn’t that just beyond mere cool?!

(If you think you’re ready, you can apply to become an Ethos participant.)

I was so excited, that even when I discovered their its first-ever red carpet event in San Diego (on Thursday, April 22, 2010 at the On Broadway Event Center, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.) isn’t something I can attend, I was still excited.

You can read the event promo piece for more info, but this first red carpet event will feature local bands and Space Cowboy (personal DJ for (Lady Gaga); hot new fashion designers, including former Project Runway contestants; and eight visual artists: Joshua Krause (abstract), Sam Luna (abstract), Kelli Murray (Illustration), Sherilyn Tanala Encabo (comic/anime illustration), Meghan Horsburgh (photography), Christy Pepper Dawson (macabre illustrations and paintings), Matt Haward (mixed media), Jeremy Asher Lynch and Yeara.

The event’s charitable partner is Love Cures Cancer, an organization dedicated to benefiting children with cancer while raising awareness and working to find a cure.

Tickets are $15 pre-sale, $20 at the door, $40 VIP and can be purchased online. All event attendees must be 18+.

If you can, you must get thee to this Project Ethos event — and if you do, please tell me all about it!

Hey, Me, Get Out Of My Travel Photos (Not!)

There are just about as many reasons for taking photos as there are people who take them, so it would be foolish for me to try to encompass them all in one itty-bitty blog post. But I do feel I need to respond to this blog post about travel photos by Natalia Forrest. Especially this part:

Much has been written about the modern scourge of tourists with their camera phones, roaming galleries more intent on taking photos of (or more precisely, having someone take their photo in front of) famous works of art than actually looking at the art itself. And call me a curmudgeon, but when I see this myself I give a little shiver of condemnation. It just doesn’t seem right when people are more interested in the artefact of their travels—the photograph, the trinket, the t-shirt—than they are in the actual experience.

I don’t have any data to debate claims that more people pose with art than actually look at art, but as a person who, as previously exposed, takes photos of my children with art at museums, I feel the need to defend those actions.

Forrest, and you, dear reader, may see these photos of people with objects of art — or any photos of art — as pure kitsch. And you’d be keeping company with many a scholared-sort too. But snapshots, trinkets, etc. are artefacts, facts of art, if you will, are precious mementos of the experience we had. And, if we are parents, of the experiences our children had.

Why isn’t baby’s first Monet, his first steps into art appreciation, as important as baby’s first steps walking — and so worth documenting?

And these photos are prompts for sharing the experiences in the future:

“What’s this you stand by in this photo, Bob? You have an odd expression on your face…”

“Oh, that was a majestic whatsit — did you know it was the only piece to survive the mawhozit’s war? Just being in the presence of such history would have been remarkable on its own, but there was something about it which reminded me of a thingamajig in the courtyard of this building we stayed at when I was a kid… Maybe it was the smell of sunshine… Whatever it is, it reminds me of Whosits, my favorite artist because of her use of color…”

Why should a person resist the human desire to keep a piece of something, so that they can recall, recount, and recapture something magical or important? Because other people think it’s kitschy or a scourge to condemn? We’ve keeping personal souvenirs as long as we’ve been people, including burying our dead with trinkets and pictorial images of stuff… I’m certain more than a few people have been buried with photographs.

But perhaps most offensive to me is Forrest’s post was this:

we took [photographs] because either a) we thought it would make a nice picture or b) to remember something by. The photos were for us, not to prove something to others.

Our photos are not necessarily to prove something to others — whether we are in them or not. Excuse us if we, every now and then, believe we are part of the something which would make a nice picture. Excuse us if we want to remember our experience with ourselves participating in it. After all, we travel because just looking at someone else’s photos and/or postcards is not enough.

Perhaps it’s most accurate to say that our photos of ourselves with art, scenic views, etc. are taken to prove — or reaffirm — something to ourselves.

You don’t have to look at them if you don’t want to.

Is Focusing Your Creativity Important?

At first glance, this cartoon by Emily Flake (originally published in The New Yorker) provides amusing, yet sage, advice:

Maybe if your creativity had fewer outlets, it would come out of you with more force.

But when I think about it, I don’t find such sentiments amusing or wise…

Many people, following the old adage of “practice makes perfect,” think that specializing in one medium or artistic pursuit will make for a greater proficiency. But creativity and art are not necessarily like surgery.

Art does not require perfection. So-called mistakes, even those acknowledged by the artist, do not hurt anyone. But more importantly, creativity is about expression — and the joy of creating.

And joy, like big wet kisses, can be sloppy. (Some people even prefer their art — and kisses — sloppy.)

I think one of the problems people have creating things is this fear of not being perfect. It holds us back, keeps us from expressing ourselves, keeps us from the joy of making.

So does thinking that if we’d only focus on one medium or form of art that we’d get better — because when we do and the “creativity doesn’t come out with better force,” we feel inadequate, talentless.

This expectation of perfection doesn’t inspire us to try another medium, form, or style; it leaves us saying, “Forget it.” But we shouldn’t forget it, we shouldn’t give up on art. We should forget about the expectations of perfection in creating, of any notions of pleasing others with our art.

Even though we know we’d never get past Simon Cowell if we auditioned on Idol, we still enjoy singing in the car or with friends — so why do we limit ourselves when it comes to art?

To answer the titular question of this post, “Is focusing your creativity important?” I say, “Not really.”

At least not the way most folks mean to focus.

I think you should focus on being creative, not so much on the end result — or it’s meeting the standards of others. Just focus on the expression and the joy of making something.

“Instead Of ‘It Sucks’ You Could Say, ‘It Doesn’t Speak To Me.'”

I found this cartoon by Mike Twohy inside the January 2010 issue of Good Housekeeping, and it reminded me that now is as good a time as any to address the issue of aesthetics and “artistic response.”

mike-twohy-art-cartoon

Art experts and educators such as Sally Hagaman have rather specific definitions of aesthetics:

There still is confusion between understanding aesthetics as an adjective (as in “aesthetic scanning”) and aesthetics as a noun (as in the philosophy of art), a distinction made clear years ago by Sharer (1983) and others. Aesthetic scanning clearly is a method of art criticism, of responding to a specific work or body of work. Aesthetics historically is a branch of philosophy with its own substantive content. This content deals with general questions about art such as “What is art?”, “What’s the difference between a work of art and a copy?”, “Are there criteria that can be used in evaluating all works of art?”, and “Is the concept of originality in art a meaningful one?”

I refer, more simply, to aesthetics as the process of recognizing and articulating the emotional and/or psychological response(s) to works of art.

You have to first recognize or identify the responses that you as an individual have to artworks before you can talk about them and use them to exemplify, define, defend, or otherwise discuss art (works) and Art (in general) in terms of “good,” “bad,” or the bigger questions Hagaman stated.

Most of us, sadly, have not been taught how to do this.

Schools, with their ever-threatened budgets for the arts, may teach us how to mold clay, encourage us to express ourselves creatively by drawing, give us plenty of time to master the techniques of plastering tempera well enough for cheerleaders to make those banners on brown craft paper, but they typically fail to give us insight into how we react to art.

hunter-makes-sculpture-the-butt-of-a-joke This is why I like to take my kids to art museums, one at a time, giving them my undivided attention and helping teach them to how to think about and talk about what they like and don’t like. (Always illuminating!)

It’s not good enough to say, “It sucks,” or even, “It doesn’t speak to me.” Or to even feel that way. I want them to know why they feel it sucks, why it doesn’t speak to them.

Knowing why you feel the way you do about art is the only way you really know your own opinion — and feel comfortable discussing, buying, viewing art.

Seeing Around With Edward Tufte

I received a promotional mailing from Edward Tufte about the first major museum exhibition of his sculpture. I can’t say much about the actual exhibition (Seeing Around, on view at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum) as I haven’t been there. (Yet?) But I do have a few thoughts on the promo pieces.

seeing-around-edward-tufte

First of all, any art exhibition, museum, gallery, etc., which uses Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is awesome; but super bonus points for using the strip in which Charlie Brown is too intimidated to discuss what he sees in cloud formations with Lucy. What more of a non-threatening introduction do you need to proceed?

So, like anyone who receives multiple-paged stuff, I began to flip through the pages… Until I found Tufte pièce de résistance: four pages on animals and landscape sculpture.

edward-tufte-animals-and-landscape-sculpture

If seeing the photo of sheep nestled into a contemporary art sculpture doesn’t get you, how about Zerlina the Golden Retriever peeping from Geometric Cutouts? And if that slice of adorableness still doesn’t entice you to read Tufte’s thoughts on the artistic relationships between land, animals, and landscape sculptural artworks, how about a photo of Zerlina’s “repertoire of concealment methodologies” — complete with cartoon bubble thoughts for both the dog and the cast iron lion?

tufte-art-and-animals

I may not have been a real fan of such contemporary and large-scale sculptures before, but through such inviting images and narrative Tufte now has me intrigued…

So I stopped flipping through the brochure, and began reading. And viewing far more of the art (and viewing it far more thoughtfully too).

Inside, Tufte presents some food for thought. Like the images shown, his artist’s statements are welcoming. Tufte just ‘talks’ about his works, his intentions, and invites you to see not only his works, but other works, perhaps in new ways.

art-wrenches-by-edward-tufteHe doesn’t talk down to the reader — but he sure as heck doesn’t ramble on in such a lofty way that makes me think (as I far too often do) that either the Emperor has no clothes or I don’t know a damn thing about art.

(The latter might in fact be true, but such intimidation doesn’t welcome anyone to view the exhibition — other than those, like Hugh Grant, who will pretend they get it to appear hip — which really just reinforces the silence around naked Emperors too.)

From here I fell in love with several of his abstract sculpture series: The eight feet wrenches (above, left), and the Open Ended series (at bottom of the post).

What’s more, I want to stand before them outside. Even if Zerlina and/or the sheep aren’t there. I want to see how the light, the trees Tufte planted in the museum’s sculpture garden, the other people all play with the giant abstract sculptures.

Which is precisely what this catalog or promotional book is supposed to do.

So hat’s off to Tufte for exposing himself as a very fine Emperor of contemporary art sculpture indeed.

open-ended-series-by-edward-tufte