2017 is so over!

FullSizeRender
2017 IS SO OVER!!!!!

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.

IMG_1512IMG_1517

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

Here is a link to Brainard Carey’s website: Professional Tools for Artists

IMG_1591

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!

If you would like to read more about butoh, here is a good article from The Japan Times:  ‘Butoh’: the dance of death and disease

IMG_1486
butoh sketchbook covers
IMG_1592
Tatsumi Hijikata, the co-founder of butoh

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.’

Listen here, feel better: Living Myth Podcast

1200x630bb

IMG_1552
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!
IMG_1427
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.

Also- COOL YULE everybody!

Advertisements

Artist or Hobbyist? Businesswoman or Artist? Submit to Art Establishment or Join the Creative Class?

You know how adds pop up on your Facebook news feed? Well, this one popped up on mine from Artists Who Thrive. https://www.facebook.com/ArtistsWhoThrive/

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.

Artists Who THRIVE was started by Rea to share with other artists what she learned selling $103,246 of her art during her first year as a full-time artist. Learn more about this here:
http://artistswhothrive.com/the-new-creative-class/ 

Apparently I have two choices.

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.

Rea paints landscapes of California, you can view her work here: https://annrea.com/

Maybe being a hobbyist ain’t so bad.

I’m still a great artist.

I have a full time day job. Most important thing for me to do now is make stuff in the studio.

Fight the power.

Update- A couple of hours after I wrote this blog I came across this article (not that I am young or just starting out, but I’m still female): 18 Female Artists Give Advice to Women Starting Out in the Art World

This is what resonated with me from Adrian Piper:

‘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?

Because I see it too much, I said.

Edmonia Lewis small file
Edmonia Lewis
Pamela Colman Smith small file
Pamela Colman Smith
Victor and Jacqueline small file
Victor Brauner and Jaqueline in front of the Newport Bridge
Memories of Home small file
Pamela Reads the Future: Toxic Algae Bloom Florida

 

The Big October Update- Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

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.

IMG_9472IMG_9316FullSizeRenderIMG_9673

IMG_9476
Zine #3 is finally back from the printer! You can buy it here for £3.25 plus shipping: Take the Last Brexit to Trumpland

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

1
I refuse to normalize this bullshit!  Durga Restores the Balance: This work references the ‘Goddess Durga Killing Mahishasura’ circa 1870, Bengal, India. Durga is the warrior goddess who defeated demonic forces that threatened peace and prosperity. As the creator of the Universe, Durga has no problem unleashing her anger against wrongdoers- divinely nasty! I have used the logo of the Republican party, the elephant, with Trump sprouting out of it, to represent the demon. I believe that the current US administration led by Trump and his cult-like followers is a danger to life on earth. I hope that democracy will be restored in the States and worldwide through a mass shift in consciousness and active participation in democratic forces globally. Trump is only one part of a larger game being played where neoliberalism, austerity, poverty and war have created growing far-right (so-called) populist movements. Time to restore the balance. This work will be exhibited and hopefully sold to raise money for the Nasty Women North East conference- click on the link:  Nasty Women North East

Gathering

 

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.

White Privilege, White Bubble

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!

Check out their page: https://www.facebook.com/blahblahhouse/

 

IMG_9291IMG_9293IMG_9294IMG_9298IMG_9297IMG_9296IMG_9295IMG_9299IMG_9300

Stoicism and Doodling

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.

Sources:

Doodling

http://jainpsychology.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/doodling-as-art-therapy-creative-process.html

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-thinking-benefits-of-doodling-2016121510844

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/why-britains-greatest-psychoanalyst-donald-winnicott-loved-doodles/

 

Stoicism

http://99u.com/articles/24401/a-makers-guidebook-9-stoic-principles-to-nurture-your-life-and-work

https://qz.com/887524/forget-stoicism-a-leading-philosopher-explains-why-we-shouldnt-try-to-control-our-emotions/

https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com/2016/06/02/stoicism-andvs-positive-psychology/

https://immoderatestoic.com/blog/2017/6/1/how-to-be-a-stoic-a-review

doodle 5doodle 1doodle 6doodle 7doodle 4doodle 2IMG_1040

What if?

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).

Edmonia Lewis small file
Edmonia Lewis, 2017
Gobbledygook Gang small file
Gobbledygook Gang, 2016
Love and Transcendence small file
Love and Transcendence, 2016
Memories of Home small file
Memories of Home, 2016
Pamela Colman Smith small file
Pamela Colman Smith, 2017
Peg Powler small size
Peg Powler, 2017
Victor and Jacqueline small file
Victor and Jacqueline, 2017

Massive ML Update

It’s been a while. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

IMG_9893b
Made a trippy profile picture using selfies and Photoshop.
DSCN9879
April Fool’s Book Fair at the Python Gallery, Middlesbrough
IMG_9899
Some things you make because you have to, not because you think they will sell. This mobile will feature double sided paintings of places and areas where I’ve lived.
IMG_9900
More complicated than I thought- 12 mandala canvases from large to small- a painting on front and back- total 24 paintings, though 4 are very small (2″ in diameter). Still, a lot of work to do.
IMG_9897
from which the mobile shall hang
IMG_9896
Unfinished bookmarks- angels and skeletons and skulls
IMG_9895
unfinished postcards- angels, sea creature and robots
IMG_9894
almost finished– collage, pen and paint bookmarks and postcards
FullSizeRender
‘You should do more of these’ my husband said, but I won’t. This was a demonstration of how to actually get something done in self-directed study time at the college where I work. I was hoping that even if the students would not listen to me, I could show them through example what it’s like to practice and work as an artist. It’s on a rather large sheet of paper (32″ x 24″) usi.ng acrylic paint. I like how I captured the light. I worked from a photo I had taken at Grayton Beach, Florida. The skeleton was from an online source, he looks a bit funky and alien, but oh well.
IMG_9893
The ongoing Edmonia Lewis painting- I will finish this someday, it hasn’t been easy, but this artist is remarkable, so it’s worth it and I hope to do her justice.

 

Victor and Jacqueline Brauner in front of the Newport Bridge

img_9863

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.

 

Life moves on, it is as bad as we expected, the resistance is strong

It’s been one hell of a week for and fascism is on the rise, again.

I’ve been listening to an audio-book by Christian activist Jim Wallis called ‘America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America’. I wish all my white friends and family  would read this and stop denying the systematic racism that is alive and well in the U.S. We can do so much better. The current administration is making it worse and people like Steve Bannon should not have so much power.

If this upsets you and you want to say: ‘I’m not racist, but…’ then I would say to you, ‘You need to shut your gob and listen for a change.’ Why is it that black parents have to give ‘the talk’ about what to do when you encounter a police officer? I never had to have that talk. Wake up people! Admit and atone, reach out and love- denying this with your ‘All Lives Matter’ bullshit isn’t helping.

Here are some of my recent sketches that reflect my struggle with sanity. Enjoy and thanks for reading.

fullsizerenderimg_0615img_0616