This year I am connecting with my roots as an artist. Why do I make art? It’s not for a career, for money or for recognition. It’s for myself. For my own self-healing and personal expression which helps me cope with life.
I’ve been dabbling with some online courses and creating some journals to record the experiments.
Below are some pages from my ‘Healing with the Arts’ journal.
The above exercises are from a course on Coursera and called ‘Healing with the Arts’ from the University of Florida.
Coursera offers video lectures, readings and peer assessed assignments. It uses a combination of therapeutic expressive art modalities in a 6 week format. I keep extending my deadlines on this one so I can take my time with it- you have six months to complete this can switch sessions as needed.
Another online course is from Udemy and is called ‘Arts Therapy- Arts Therapy for Self Healing’.
This course has a plethora of activities and techniques to try out. It is presented in this animated format. I was a bit disappointed with this at first, but quickly grew to enjoy it and find it strangely hypnotic.
Here’s my journal entry for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Truth be told I signed onto this course a year ago and have done about 25%- and that’s OK, there are no deadlines with this one, you go at your own rate.
In conclusion, I will continue working on my Butoh dance journal in 2018. For me this is an exploration of the shadow and healing through pen and ink figurative studies using secondary source imagery; photos I find online of Butoh dancers.
Roll on 2018. I’ve been working on a large piece for the exhibition next year. Taking inspiration from: the Lover’s tarot card, landscape photographs from Albert Park in Middlesbrough, and the incident of the brutal swan murder at the park this year; I am painting Morbid and myself standing over the body of the deceased swan, with a resurrected angelic swan behind us. Here are some photos of the work in progress.
In my last blog entry, I wrote about artist and entrepreneur Ann Rea, who aggressively insists that if you are not making money off your art, you are a hobbyist. I watched her video and discovered she makes landscape paintings of wine vineyards for the affluent in California; making a book of the process and having a wine-filled party for the display of the final painting. Good for her, but this does not resonate with me. Here’s the video: Ann Rea doing her schmoozy thing.
If you are interested in learning how to promote yourself as an artist, I would recommend Brainard Carey instead. While Ann Rea is pretentious and overly commercial, Carey discusses the variety of artists that actually exist. He acknowledges that most artists usually require a second job and that’s OK- be proud of that day job which supports you as an artist. He suggests that there are two models. The first is to have a day job and make art because you want to and need to. You may not even exhibit regularly or make any money off the art. The second is about meeting people, making the right connections and networking. I think I am mainly in the first model, but building bridges connecting me to the second model.
His book (see below) is filled with interviews, especially from artists. He starts off with an interview with Robert Storr who dishes the real deal about art critics. Storr recommends critic Christian Viveros-Faune and I must agree- he is fabulous! cviverosfaune on instagram
I am starting two sketchbooks dedicated to butoh, an avant-garde dance form that started in Japan during the late 50s and 60s. The sketchbooks feature photos from historical and contemporary butoh dancers and will be figurative studies in pen and ink, graphite and watercolour pencil. This is just for me and my shadow!
Other discoveries- I found some inspiration in the form of a podcast by Michael Meade called Living Myth!
Here is a blurb from their website:
Living Myth reveals the world, despite all its troubles, to be a place of deep imagination and ongoing creation.
‘Myth offers a living library of narratives and symbols that are ancient and immediate at the same time. Thus myth is not a thing of the past but a vital and creative resource for understanding the current struggles of life. When the world around us makes less and less sense, myth can make great sense and help reveal the deeper significance of both inner and outer events.’
Parmo cat says 2018 might be another rough year globally, so be sure to nurture your soul and take correct action to create social and environmental justice!
Who doesn’t love a messy studio?
Wishing all of you Happy Holidays!
Yes, I will say Happy Holidays because I don’t assume that everyone celebrates Christmas and I don’t feel threatened by the use of ‘Happy Holidays!’ as there are many holidays in many cultures this time of the year.
There is no war on Christmas, Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it.
I noticed several of my artists friends liked the page and I was fascinated by the comments section. Some were negative about the whole idea of selling your art as a business and Ann Rea, the founder said, that was fine, but it meant their art was a hobby.
She only mentions two choices, but I suppose that was just to simplify things.
Here is what Rea says on her Facebook page:
‘Now artists have a choice.
(((A. Submit to The Art Establishment)))
1. Create a body of work and hope you can just show it.
2. Lose confidence by seeking permission.
3. Your success will be limited to your representation.
4. Get paid 50% later, less discounts.
5. Make art for art’s sake and for critics to reject.
6. Deliver vague value and confuse your market.
7. Earn an MFA from a top art school, if you can.
8. Barriers of entry to the art market, many.
9. You don’t own the platform. What fans?
10.Build their artistic enterprise.
(((B. Join The New Creative Class)))
1. Create value above and beyond your art and sell it.
2. Earn confidence by taking focused action.
3. Your success is shaped by your expertise and efforts.
4. Get paid 100% up front, no discounts.
5. Make art inspired by a personal mission.
6. Deliver clear value above and beyond your art.
7. Earn an MFA, if you want.
8. Barriers of entry to the art market, none.
9. Own your platform. Connect to your fans.
10.Build your artistic enterprise.
So I can either submit to the art establishment or join the new creative class! For $2,000, (if I made it through the application interview), I could join her seminar and learn how to join the creative class (I am already a cultural creative). Also, I do not get my diploma until I earn that $2,000 back directly in sales of my art.
Sounds promising, but probably not gonna happen.
I think I will scour her blogs and get the free stuff for now, as I am sure she has some good ideas. She’s not a fan of Etsy.
From what I’ve read so far, I need to get clear, develop a mission statement, write a business plan, find my niche, develop nourishing relationships- I’m selling emotion, I’m selling an experience through my art, not just the art itself. I’m offering a service. Art is a luxury. Find the affluent buyers. If you are going to have a website, you should be selling stuff from that website- she asks why do artists put stuff on their sites that isn’t for sale?
Artistically, Rea was mentored by Wayne Thiebauld and I can see it in her work. Thiebauld is not a businessman. He is in the art establishment and doing quite well.
‘First, you should be clear about what you are aiming for: (1) public approval, (2) commercial success, or (3) art-historical significance. These three are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and there is nothing wrong with any of them. But my remarks address only (3).
The best means to art-historical significance is financial independence. Don’t even think about trying to earn a living from your artwork, or else you’ll start producing the artwork that will earn you a living. A trust fund will divert your energies in a different way. The best means to financial independence is a day job in a different field. Waiting tables, driving a cab, office work, and teaching are traditional alternatives for artists, but the digital revolution opens up many others. All of them will free you to make the work you are most deeply driven to make, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes it or buys it. That’s the work that’s most interesting and important to you. You won’t have time to waste on producing work that doesn’t obsess you.’
Ann Rea is aiming for commercial success- and that’s fine. She does it well. I am aiming for art history and whether or not I make it, that’s what I desire in my heart.
So tonight, I saw the Artist that Thrive add again on my Facebook feed and I took the effort to hide it? Why, Facebook asked?
When I was feeling a bit stuck, I grabbed a selection of books and used some of the imagery within as references to create spontaneous narratives. They are A3 size, watercolour and ink on paper. Enjoy.
I have added some paintings and bookmarks to my Etsy shop! The photos are below. Here are the links to purchase- prices range from £3.50-£18. Bookmark Art & Canvases
Death Out and About Canvas Boards: Bayport, FL Sunset
Death Out and About: Bayport, Florida and Blue Mountain Beach Blues
Mini Canvases Death Out and About, Florida, Middlesbrough, Deep Space
Today I am gathering images for the beginning pages of my Zine #3: Take the Last Brexit to Trumpland. I found some photographs, opened them up grey-scale in Photoshop and stretched them out to fill an A4 page. I will print them out on my sketchbook paper so I can then draw, paint and collage text and imagery, adding layers until it achieves a certain look.
The photos are from my visit to Florida over the summer and on my adventures here around Middlebrough. I like the distorted look of the stretched-out ones; the elongated trees and buildings resonate. It could be symbolic of these distorted and out-of-balance times that we live in.
I wonder how I will express and formulate the ideas within this issue. Using headlines and news, self-care techniques and visionary thinking from experts; I hope to really spill my guts on this one. Ready to bleed.
The call out was for: ‘Roots and Wings, an exhibition held at House of Blah Blah, Middlesbrough exploring the themes of girls growing up around the world. Inspired by a study which stated that Middlesbrough was the worst place for girls to grow up in the UK. How do other girls get brought up around the world, and what culturally and ethnically differences do we teach on girls for us to grow up so differently or similarly?’
This made me think of what it was like for me growing up as a white girl in Brooksville, Florida- and how different it would have been if I had been black. I researched some history (racism, civil rights movement, segregation), primarily looking at Florida, but also the South. I used photos and newspaper clippings as references along with personal photos of myself inside my white bubble, inside the white privilege that I have benefited from all of my life. I surrounded myself with images of black girls growing up, what it was like for some of them- me in my bubble, them fighting for their civil rights.
This is not an easy subject matter to make art about and perhaps I did so in an ineffectual, clichéd way, others can judge this. Overall, I like the piece and learned a few things from history that I did not know or had forgotten.
I feel frustrated with the narratives and conversations going on about race in the USA. I recently came back from a visit there and felt dismayed at how some white folks feel that whites are discriminated against. They are mostly Trump supporters, as this is a core concern of his base. They seem to lack an understanding of the institutionalized racism that is alive and well today. If they have this understanding, then they simply do not care. They have forgotten history, constructing false narratives, downplaying America’s original sins: slavery and the genocide of the Native Americans.
And there is not one fucking thing I can do about it, really. Wrong! I can speak out at every chance!
(added note: Maybe I can do something– educating myself, confronting my own white ignorance and speaking out. This educator is a bad ass: http://janeelliott.com/index.htm)
Back to the fabulous art exhibition. If you are in the Middlesbrough area, the show is up until August 25th and features some amazing work from lots of artists!
The field of psychology has roots in ancient philosophy. Philosophy can teach us how to live well and how to deal with human suffering. I have been listening to an audio-book by Massimo Pigliucci called ‘How to be a Stoic.’ Massimo presents an introduction to Stoicism as a humane and practical philosophy that anyone can practice. So far I have gathered that moral character is the most important aspect of oneself to cultivate. This is more important than health, riches and comforts. Interesting.
The goal of Stoicism is to overcome adversity and attain inner peace by being present and engaging with life’s problems instead of seeking an escape. Some stoics say we should curb our emotions when faced with things that are out of our control but perhaps our emotions can guide us to action, especially when faced with big global problems like: climate change, economic collapse, war and the rise of authoritarianism. Should we seek to stifle our emotions, control them or repress them? Can we instead use them as an energy to transform through correct action?
Can Stoicism help us transfigure by using our emotions and thoughts through increased self-awareness of the inner world? Could it help people to develop strategies to cope with suffering by cultivating strength and virtues? Could this help keep human suffering to a minimum when basic needs and rights are being met? Could we use the power of our emotions more beneficially, instead of in a reactive and self-destructive manner? I only have questions at this point in my research.
I feel strong emotions on a regular basis. Often I find that it’s my own thoughts that are stressing me out, that many of my conflicts start in my own mind. Even when it comes to art making, I create a minefield of resistance and procrastination and then feelings of failure. This is why I have been doodling lately. Only doodles- no art. Or is it art? It has released the pressure of having to create market driven art or art that could get me a mention in the contemporary art world.
There is a power to the doodle that is not to be underestimated. It has been around for 40,000 years with the oldest cave paintings. It seems to be an integral part of human nature and reflects the brain’s DNA, what we are thinking about subconsciously, revealing our personality and inner drives. It can increase our memory and deepen our knowledge. My inner self is filled with eyeballs and snakes! It is a way of not only thinking differently, but more importantly- feeling differently. This is why I believe doodling transfigures our emotions and can offer a useful activity to bind anxiety and lead a more meaningful life.
Today, I dragged the big piece of plywood downstairs and outside to photograph some art. I plan on submitting work this month and need some decent photos. Can’t wait to hire a professional to do this. Someday I will.
Wouldn’t it be weird to have gallery representation- and upcoming exhibitions? Selling, selling- so that I would not be allowed to share my work freely on social media? I would have to keep it secret until the show. I would have to sign all kinds of contractual agreements and pay 50% commission all the way. No more buying directly from the artist! No more Etsy or Artfinder!
I would have to quit my day job and make a lot of art. I would lead intimate and expensive workshops in my studio, becoming a cult-like guru artist character. I would give artist talks and interviews, getting so good at it that I would no longer need to take a beta-blocker to do so. I could even start an online creative life coaching business or something. I would write self-help books for artists and make a fortune!
If I was earning a good living from making art, I would need an assistant, an accountant, an agent and a housecleaner. Also, if I was earning over £80,000 and was a UK citizen- would I vote Tory? I doubt it. Half for me, half for Labour government please (or maybe even the Greens someday).
Morbid and I are having a show together next year at the Python Gallery in Middlesbrough. I see this painting in the show.
I initially found Morbid on Facebook after searching for the Romanian, Surrealist artist Victor Brauner. Turns out Morbid is a huge fan. His love of art and Brauner, along with his love for music (Killing Joke and Julian Cope in particular) made me friend request him.
This artwork features Victor and his wife Jacqueline, painted from a photo- standing in front of the Newport Bridge here in Middlesbrough. Both of them seem full of love and life.