Hoping you and yours have a wonderful 2019!
Mary Gwyn and Twinkie
Hoping you and yours have a wonderful 2019!
Mary Gwyn and Twinkie
“Good artists copy, great artists steal,” Picasso as quoted from “Real Artists Don’t Starve” by Jeff Goins
A couple of weeks ago, I was standing around in a FedEx Office store waiting for the computer guy to finish my project when in the distance I spotted the word, “Artists” in the title of a book on the rack where there are usually books on sales and other business type information. “Artists” is never a featured word in the title of sales and business books. It just isn’t done. Artists aren’t considered business types. We’re too flakey, or whatever, to be taken seriously by the business world. I moved in for a closer look.
And guess what??? It was a business book, believe it or not, for artists! Oh Glory! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Of course I had to buy it! Not just because it was for the business of artists, the title was so intriguing too! The book is called, “Real Artists Don’t Starve,” and even better, it is written by fellow Nashvillian, Jeff Goins. So far it is a red meat book for all artists. I haven’t gone far in the book because I am caught up in Chapter Two. Most likely, I will re-read this chapter a few times before progressing to Chapter Three, because it is so good. Chapter Two encourages artists to steal from other artists.
Stealing??? I’m shocked! Scare bleu! (To steal a phrase from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.) A deeper dive into the second chapter and I find I have been stealing since my very first painting when I was eight years old. That first painting was stolen from Van Gogh and I have been stealing ever since. After Van Gogh, I have stolen from my other idols like Degas, Bonnard, Wolf Khan and Georgia O’Keefe. And that’s just for starters! The list gets really long, when it moves to today’s contemporary artists.
Goins point is, as he quotes from the bible, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And he’s right. There isn’t. The wise artist sees that. According to Goins, we spend a lot of wasted time trying to be original without realizing who we are as artists is original! Unless you are a forger, most likely you are not copying exactly but are taking pieces from another artist, or artists, to create something new. We learn from those who have gone before. We honor those who inspire us when we spend time copying from them. More than that, when you follow a teacher’s direction, you are stealing ideas and techniques from that teacher. And that’s a good thing!
This New Year, I am resolving to do more stealing!
Happy stealing, to you, for the coming year!!
Fall appears to be taking its sweet time this year. The colors have been changing for about four weeks or so, as far as I can tell. I picked up the first red leaf I saw weeks ago and brought it home to press in my favorite leaf presser book, Art Through The Ages.As the weeks have progressed, more and more leaves have found their way into the pages of the book. Fall leaves are like seashells. You can’t pick up just one. There is always another beauty to be brought home. I keep going until the book won’t close well anymore. Then I have to switch to pine cones, acorns and other fall treasures. My intent with all of these treasures is to make paintings and drawings of them. Some of them, I actually get the time to make the painting!
The leaf painting above is one of my favorites but each leaf presented a different issue to be worked through. The yellow maple leaves had green still bleeding through the veins and bits of brown in odd places. The red maple leaves were slightly testy in achieving the right shade of red-orange. But the Bradford pear leaves were undoubtedly the most challenging. I prefer using a complimentary color for shading in most cases, but the pear leaves were just not getting there with green shadows on the deep, dark red. Finally, in desperation, I resorted to phthalo Blue. Bingo! It was the right color for shading the strong red of Bradford pear leaves. Usually, I stay away from any of the phthalos except in extreme circumstances because their strong staining color is so unforgiving. Once it’s on, it’s on to stay! If the phthalo ruined the pear leaves then the whole painting was gone because they were the last leaves. This felt like that extreme moment! I took a deep breath and dove in. Risks can be so fun when they work! When they don’t, not so much. But then you can’t have the fun without the risk!
As fall fades into winter, the last of the leaves will be dropping. I took the camera out for one last sweep of the fall colors since the art history book is now overstuffed and there’s no more shelf space for pinecones. Soon it will be time for the winterberries and glossy holly leaves. I think I’ll take another risk or two with fall treasures before starting on winter.
Happy treasure hunting for “risky” fall paintings!
This beautiful article was a humbling thing to read but I was also quite proud of the things it highlights. The Art to Heart Project was a three year project from start to finish and quite involved. It took another year to see it published. Even though it was time consuming and arduous, I would do it again in a heartbeat, no pun intended. Tears still spring up when I think about what a difference art made to patients and staff. I think the effects on the staff were more meaningful to me than the results of the patient part, perhaps because I was one of them too.
Teaching is a total delight to me. I love every minute of it and I love to see the progress people make with their art. If it was up to me, I’d mandate all students be required to take art classes. Something beautiful happens when art is created. Whether or not anybody thinks they have any talent, everybody can create something when given direction and the right tools. Some will discover they had more talent than they thought and will continue on to develop that talent. Others will go on as better creative thinkers and better creative problem solvers for having the experience of art in some form. Most people don’t know that many of our greatest inventors and scientists are frequently artists too. Albert Einstein kept sketchbooks of his ideas. And he is by no means, the only one to do so.
Many artists take classes to stay fresh and to stimulate new directions. These artists are so much fun to have in classes. They stimulate me to try new things and new directions. And they keep me on my toes trying to keep up with them. Watkins College of Art has so much to offer
besides lots of fun classes. I get to meet so many artists from different walks of life and different artistic styles and mediums.
As I head into new directions in my life, I turn to new directions in my art. Birds are becoming an obsession. All summer long it was the beautiful and elegant waterbirds. With the approach of Fall, my bird obsession has turned to feeder birds, chickadees, cardinals, titmice and lately, nuthatches. Maybe a woodpecker or two, will turn into a painting. Painting is the ultimate goal but following the birds around with my camera is gaining in obsessive territory. As with all artists, I’ll see where the new direction leads.
Happy art making out there!!