Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Art and Reality

I am not a fan of reality TV.  And how can they call it reality?!  How "real" are these people with a camera pointed at them?  Some of my friends watch The Bachelor.  My daughter can be caught watching a Housewives drama. (a study in sociology, of course)  The kids love Chopped, a reality competition with chefs who create gastronomic delights from four or five ingredients chosen by the show.  My husband even found one about golf!  And who doesn't watch Hillbilly Handfishin'?  A show that takes a group out into the rivers of Mississippi and teaches them to "noodle" or catch catfish with their hands!  They are modern day game shows in a way and there is something for everyone.  And they seem addicting.  I really have no use for them.

But wait. Now there is one for artists!  Yes, you read right-a reality show about art and artists. It has the same premise as all the others.  Project Runway for the arts.  But I like it!  It's called Work of Art-The Next Great Artist on Bravo.  The premise is not new.  Challenges are issued, there is an elimination each week, a large cash prize and an exhibit in the Boston Museum of Art for the lucky finalist.  But what I find most interesting are the challenges and their results.  I am never disappointed as a group of talented individuals give me a charge of inspiration with their take on the challenge.  I have to admit, I am in awe sometimes. 

Last season I began to pull for the artists I thought had the most potential.  I watched each week as they struggled to use their unique creativity within the constraints of the challenge issued and asked "could I do that"?  I watched talented artists with amazing skills choke under pressure and sympathized since I've done that!  I saw the drama as artists let their personalities get in the way of their talents.  I watched an artist who I viewed at first as ho-hum rise steadily to each challenge and move through the weeks gaining confidence.  I realized that small steps done steadily move you forward.  Large glimpses of occasional brilliance are great, but what do you do in between?  I think you can loose momentum.  But those flashes of brilliance are a thing to behold.  And I saw some awesome art and amazing skills. 

I've seriously thought about taking on the challenges myself each week, but that's not reality.  On what plannet is it possible to lock myself away in a room with unlimited supplies and devote myself to creating.  But isn't that the dream??  And for a few lucky artists it is a reality.  And I will be watching!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Turning Negatives into Possitives

If you read this blog often you  know that I draw a lot of metaphors for life and art from my love of nature.  I have a deep connection to nature and need to spend time outdoors to keep myself balanced.  I am continually amazed at what God (or whatever you call or believe it to be)  reveals to me through creation. Creating is a very spiritual thing for me.  And my personal experience tells me that most "creatives" are pretty spiritual people in some form. 

This week I was doing a demo for a class on negative painting.  Using an old lesson, I wanted a new spin because I get bored doing the same thing over and over again.  On my walk the brown leaves are starting to crunch beneath my feet, but the colors are just starting to show.  Last years color was disappointing, so I am hopeful for this year. With so much rain the colors should be spectacular this year and I am watching daily as things turn a bit more each day.  If past years are an indication there will be one or two brilliant weeks of incredible color.    Inspired by a few fallen leaves with some color that I picked up to do a journal page with, the idea for my demo came. 

The painting above uses both negative painting (painting the space around the subject) and positive painting techniques (actually painting the object).   The simple principle is that the negative space is what shows the positive forms in my painting.  But it's hard to see and do because we are not used to seeing things that way or doing it!  I am reminded that in my art as in life the "negative" when viewed objectively is not necessarily "bad".  It is in fact a necessary part of the whole of the painting, and our lives.  We need to get past the idea that the "good" things or those things that give pleasure are the only valuable things.  While none of us are going in search of pain and adversity, the truth is that without the negative the positive would be that much less defined or appreciated. In nature, all these dreary rainy day's (which most of us view negatively)  have made for one of the 10 wettest years in recorded history in Ohio. But the "positive" to that negative is that it should be one of the most brilliant shows of fall color in many years as well!

I just had to share with you how multi layered the creative process is for me.  Look for the lessons you can learn from the things you see as negative in your life.  And try a negative painting to cement the idea that those very spaces define the positive ones!  Changing how we see in art as well as life is part of the way we grow. 

So what started as a search for a new way to teach a basic principle turned out to be a new take on an old lesson for me.  As I navigate some negative space in my life I'm finding it makes the positive aspects more visible.   Shifting to view the "negative" as not "bad" or unnecessary changes how I handle it.  And yes, it's easier said than done!