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Is Art Dead?

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Is the power of art dead?

Does art still have power that it used to have? Is art dead? Do we care about the handmade or the one of a kind? Does it have the same power that art had in the 17th and 18th centuries? Although it does not have the same power as these times, art is very much alive. In fact I would make the argument that art is even more important because it is it is so pervasive and accessible.

Although the handmade item seems to be disappearing, there is still the focus upon the uniqueness of the idea. We are now in a time where we look towards how the digital transforms our ideas and puts them in a new context.

Digital creates a new concept.

In fact, in this digital age, the translation of the image into different types of materials actually puts another layer of meaning on it. For many years, I was all about just the Original. Anything that was printed or created on another substrate, was not, in my opinion, as valuable as the original. I’ve now changed my mind. I have reproduced my work on acrylic glass and it takes on an entire whole other layer of meaning. Respecting new materials, understanding how a print can be valuable in its uniqueness are now part of the landscape. It is using the same idea, but translating it creates another way of understanding the image.

Power of the Original

That still leaves me with the concept of the Original. This piece of creativity will never lose its power. The way the piece is made, the magic of the moment of creativity by the hand of the artist. The signature of this creativity are critical pieces to the power of anything reproduced by the artist. It is at this moment of the “original story” that makes the depth and power of the piece. It is never to be underestimated.

In the piece highlighted, Let the Sun Shine, the magic of the moment of sun and escape is apparent. What makes this pieces so unique is the way the viewer can contemplate the moment of peace. The moment of escape and the beauty of the light. The same idea works on the original and the print level. Of course, knowing that this piece was touched and created by the artist makes this one of kind. However, it still has the power of the idea. The idea of escape, the idea of the past and the idea of seeing a unique idea.

 

 

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Know your history to know yourself.

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Know your History

Learning about ourselves, to know your history,  gives us deeper understanding of who we are. Knowing ourselves with the knowledge of our past, with the understanding of where we come from, can enable our lives to grow. Looking back at our ancestors, the people in our lives who made us, give us a clearer assessment of where we are today.

This should go without saying. However, too many times we often forget where we came from. At least, in my life, I always seem to push forward. To keep setting goals. To keep moving forward. Yet sometimes, it is just good to stop and look back. To look at where it all started.

When I was a Child

My father was an artist. I grew up with the creating, selling and constant marketing of art. It was a a childhood of setting up shows, and watching my family survive from the art made by my father. Today, I am not far from this childhood. Although I create my own art now, my goal is to market and send out information about my creativity everyday. Social media has come a long way from distributing thousands of postcards door to door which my father did.

The value of Stories

Some say holding onto the past means not looking towards the future. I don’t believe this. In fact, I truly believe learning the stories of our families gives us a starting point for the present and future;

“The goal of yesterday will be our starting point to-morrow” Thomas Carlyle

As we look at images of our past, like old photos of your parents walking or weddings or family gatherings,  or little pieces of paper of birth announcements, or postcards written and saved, the life lived becomes apparent. The lives before you, from where you came from inform your present. It should’t be underestimated the value of these stories.

What would we be without knowing about the challenges and courage of our ancestors? We would be floating through life without an anchor. Without an understanding of who we are today.

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Art in the Digital Age

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Art and the digital question.

Is there an “aura” to art that that doesn’t appear in a digital form?

Or is it the idea that is the main value of the piece? In the age of digital reproductions, there seems to be a dissolving break between the “original” and the “print”.  Is it important that the piece is “handmade”? Does it give it more of a “soul”? Or do you react to the image, on its own merit, consider the idea behind and enjoy it for what it says to you as the viewer. At the basis of this difference is the idea. The idea of what makes this piece so unique.

In a famous essay by communication theorist Walter Benjamin,  in the ground breaking book “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” he describes that “authentic artworks have a certain indefinable “aura” about them” and makes them great. His opinion was that mechanically reproduced images miss the “soul of the work”. This theory, first written about in 1936, still carries a great deal of weight. Many artists don’t want to feel that they are being replaced by the machine.

Images are more important than the materials.

We are now in a different time. Images flicker in front of our eyes to the point that we  can just create our own with a click of  a button. So what makes an artists work different? It’s all in the idea. The idea of intention and result. Although the materials used play a role, ultimately it is the image that attracts the viewer.

In my work, the layers of vintage wallpapers, and paint carry an element of uniqueness. There is a scarcity to this material. So yes this makes a difference. However, the use of the materials is just part of the piece. I also use digital prints as part of my process. Capturing images from Classic films, old magazines, vinyl album covers, and old photos are manipulated digitally and then transferred onto the canvas.

Does digital mean no “soul”?

So where is the “soul” of the piece? Recently I had a series of pieces printed on acrylic glass on a large scale. The depth and quality of the print is as good as the original. The piece takes on a contemporary feel with a clear reflective quality to it. Although the materials changed the image it still has its power. It has the message, the colour and the feel. It does not have my hand as part of the actual piece, however, the message was clear. The “soul” is in the message.

However, the making and creating the piece has its own energy. This added piece of “aura” gives depth that cannot be found in a print.

Ultimately it is about how you want the piece to exist in your home. The feel of the handmade can be a priority. Or it can be the message. Either way the story of the art is the important piece.  In conclusion,  the ideas make the impression. This is the most important piece of seeing the art.

 

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Memory and Forgetting

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We are all a String of Memories.

We create our identity by experiencing moments.  Every moment is a memory as soon as it passes. I often think of a moment in the past and put myself back at that time.  Like trying to remember my daughter at the age of two walking for the first time.  We remind ourselves of who we are when we remember. At least that’s what I thought. In fact,  this is not true. Several studies have shown that the act of remembering a particular moment can be interpreted differently. Most importantly, the more you remember a particular event the less accurate the actual event becomes.

Every moment is a Memory Sensation

As soon as reality happens, the memory changes. The truest memories are those that are not recalled often. This fact is difficult for me to accept.

How can I not remember the first kiss I had with my husband? I seem to remember the place, the time and the sensation. So I did a bit of an experiment. I asked my husband if he remembered our first kiss. He didn’t. Sure he remembered the general time and place but his memory was more about the “feel”. That brings me to the most important piece. It was the sensation that was remembered. Not the detail of the time and place, rather, the connection.

My Work is Created from the Past

It is this fragment of a moment frozen in time that I try to find in my work. Many ask me if I create images that are my personal memories. No. I don’t use personal references. I use items that have a “look” of memory or are sourced from things from the past. Old photos, classic films, vintage magazine images all are references that reminds us of another time. With these little pieces of ephemera, I try to create a sensation of a memory. Not an actual event- rather a familiar image that reminds the viewer of a piece of nostalgia.

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period. The yearning is the important piece. However, I am not looking to put a piece of an event. Rather I am trying to create a sensation of a person, or an event and this creates a “yearning” for the viewer.

Like seeing an image of a woman riding a bike from the 1940s. Many look at this image and it reminds them of their mother riding a bike. The freedom and release reminds them of a special person who taught them to enjoy life and be free.

So even though this piece can reference a particular person, it is the sensation of the memory that is important. It is this sensation that makes us who we are. Not the little pieces of the actual events of time or place, rather the entire feel. Every moment is a memory and a sensation. It is this sensation that is the meaning behind my work.

To see a full Selection of  available Original Pieces click Here

 

 

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Surround Yourself with the Good

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Surround yourself with the Good

What does this mean? The “good” is the positive energy we get when we look or experience the positive. How do we introduce the positive into our life? We surround ourselves with good people. Mentors who tell us that we Can Do It. Most importantly we should make our environment enable us to have hope. That’s where  my Art comes in. Surround yourself with the good things of  the lightness of colour, the ideas of generosity, the beauty of the image into your home.  All things that inspire our view. All things that reminds us, on a daily basis, that life is Good.

As life throws us challenges we are often in a place of discouragement. The pushing through to activate and make things happen takes on more effort. The voice in our mind that “it’s just not worth the energy” to keep going is constantly there. How do you battle the negative? How do you push away these thoughts that there is no point to keep pushing? Discouragement is a motivator of inaction. If you just sit on the couch and not engage then nothing will happen. Your life is one of action so it is imperative that you create a life that is full and rewarding.

Build a connection to What Makes you Happy

Certainly activating change takes energy. You must first identify what is lacking in your life. I often go through my days, like a hamster, just producing and making things. At the end of the day, I summarize my list and look at what was finished. This makes me happy. Being a self employed creative person means that self discipline is a cornerstone piece of mental health. When I delay and procrastinate I have guilt. The feeling that I failed. So to avoid this, I have to make certain I look at my list and just check something off.

However, this does not address deep happiness. The stuff when you are hanging out with your partner and having a laugh. The stuff when you drive your teenager to school and have a moment of being let into her life with a funny story about a friend. Little things that I register in a moment. The things we take for granted. That taking the time to share a moment will reward us to be happier.

How Your Home Makes you Happy

My work brings clients that share personal stories. I have had several clients who want my work to remind them to be strong, to be active in their change in their life, and most importantly, to improve their happiness. Consequently, they see that they need change and my Art draws them to this need. This type of visualization is the key. Above all these clients look at my paintings and it brings them a moment of where they want to be. To be positive, to be resilient and to be satisfied.

In the painting highlighted, titled Into The Daybreak, the woman cycling is full of life. She rides into a world full of energy, hope and love. These small details of beauty creates an image that makes the viewer stop and register. That’s what is important. Look at your Art so you can  judge whether it inspires you. If it doesn’t then maybe it’s time for a change.

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Enjoy the Everyday Sounds of Life

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Sounds of everyday life can be taken for granted.

When my daughter was young, she would wake up everyday with a song. Singing in her childlike voice I would listen as I wake up and revel in this moment of happiness. Just to stop and listen. The other day I asked  my 14 year old daughter if she still wakes up with a song in her head. Yes she said. There is always a tune in her head. She dances through her life. The sounds of everyday life permeate her world and she registers this moment.

In fact, when she was younger, she would dance after dinner. Everyday. At home and when we went out for dinner. I called it the Dinner and Show time which was an inspiration for a whole series of pieces that focused on dance.  My daughter doesn’t dance after dinner anymore, because the music is still within her.

I don’t wake up with a song in my head. I wake up with a list of things to do. Not that this is a bad thing, but I have to remind myself to stop and enjoy life a bit more. Like my daughter.

Melody in Language can be Art

Recently I listened to an interview with the musician Meklit Hadero who finds melody in everyday language. The composing of music from language, repetition of sounds to make a song takes the everyday and makes it into art. But then that is the role of the artist- to highlight the taken for granted and elevate it. To walk into the ordinary and create a  piece that makes you stop, listen and look.

Designing Joy into your Home

Most importantly, this concept of registering the beauty of everyday relates to the healing power of beauty. Our homes, our places of refuge,  are the places that we retreat to and recharge. To ignore this place does not help you move forward in your life. In other words, it heals and gives you the strength to keep going. Yet the sounds of everyday life can take us into the pleasure of unnoticed.

Importance of the Circle

In the post by Ingrid Fetell who speaks to how joy can be designed into our surroundings, she speaks about how our homes and workplaces have to have a conscious awareness of healing and comfort. She highlights how the circle plays a major role in this design.

What does the circle do? How is it powerful? Many of my clients question my use of the circle and my repetition of this element in my work. I have always responded that I use circles as a way to elevate the feeling of the piece. However, this use goes much deeper. In fact, as Ingrid states,the circle has a psychological healing piece to it. It creates balance, a sense of wholeness and comfort. Sharp angles, rectangles and squares, have more of a sense of discomfort. Not surprising that this is the case. There really isn’t anything like polka dots.

Painting with Circles

In the highlighted painting titled Floating Fragrance, the use of circles is repeated in the structure of the piece. The end result is the sensation of these women walking on air. The repetition of the ladies, in a pop art style, gives a contemporary vision of a cityscape. Layers and the ephemeral light makes this piece full of life.

In conclusion, the goal is to look and listen at your world. Stop and look at a painting in your home. Listen to laughter and music and be aware of how it feels. Above all, register the joy that surrounds you daily!

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Storytelling with a Painting

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Telling a story with a Single Image

Storytelling with a painting, a static image, can be challenging. How is it possible to create an image that tells the different sides to the story? Recently I came upon a quote by the Jean Renoir, the son of the impressionist painter Pierre August Renoir. He stated that only a painter could “find the relationship between eternity and the instant, between the world and the soul”. In effect, he believed that film could never express a single vision.

Storytelling in a moment in Time

Positioning a moment in time, and how that moment would look visually, and reinterpreting this moment to the viewer has always been an interest of mine. Suspending a moment that is full of its colour and its energy can be translated in a variety of ways. The use of media and process, the use of colour and brush work, the use of pattern and repetition all creates a sense of meaning for the viewer. It is up to the viewer to look at the piece and feel the sensation of the moment. Trusting the abstraction of the image and what it connotes creates the meaning for the viewer.  Looking at the series of pieces in my collection, every piece tries to create meaning through the use of layers of collage and paint.

Perfection Spied and the Meaning within this Painting

The highlighted painting, Perfection Spied, is a perfect example of how a painting/collage can create a fun spin about body image and relationships. This piece blends together an impressionist style of the girls hanging by the pool looking distractedly at the body builder in the distance. The man, pumped up, was taken from a classic film titled Muscle Beach (1957) He is an image, a cartoon image, of masculinity. Setting him within this painting, in a realistic manner, disrupts the viewing. It is unexpected. This brings the image into another space then a predictive impressionist painting. The most interesting piece of this painting is this- the lack of predicting and the disruption of the story as it is being gathered by the viewer’s eye.

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The Meaning of what I Make

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The meaning of what I make?

Often there is a question about the meaning of what I make. What is the message and how does it relate to the viewer’s world? My work has a self evident message with the use of nostalgic imagery.  As seen in the painting highlighted titled Turn It On, this images brings to mind a fun party atmosphere with flowered paper, patterns and light colours. It seems to be self evident in that I work with found images from mid century resources and rework them into stories about our present world. Seems simple. However, when I create pieces I often think how the colour, the patterns, the transparency of materials also convey meaning. There is a deeper meaning. One that you don’t realize is part of the work at first, then it seems to become more important.

Message of materials

At times I use fabric patterns- the tissue paper with map making lines and text of Butterick printed on it. People who look at it have a moment of thinking about their childhood and how their mother sewed their clothing. It is a use of time that many no longer do. Yet when the painting is looked at- the message seems to change. It isn’t about a street in Paris. It is about the materials that make this image. In the painting Parisian Love Letter, there are handwritten letters, book pages from a romantic french novel and fabric patterns that layer onto the surface. Each piece builds the story about romance that the pop cultural image of the couple emanates. Each piece brings in the viewers alternate reality and experience. It has a depth of meaning that is not seen at first. It just builds as the viewer takes in the different pieces of materials.

Teaching the message of Art

This past week, as I was about to participate in the Cottonwood Art Festival in Dallas TX, I volunteered to present a demonstration of my work to a group of middle school kids. I realized as I was speaking that many create images without really thinking about the bigger picture. Media literacy is an important piece of education. The understanding how images convey meaning in a variety of ways is critical in being able to be a person who can critically think about their surroundings. Art plays a role in this. Imagery relates to advertising which in turn can relate to manipulation of reality. Things that we need to understand to get to the truth.

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How the power of Art can Change your Life

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Can the power of art change your life?  Can art change the world? It’s a question that many have asked and answered. Art, in its many forms, can reveal the power that we can acquire through the engagement and understanding of the stories behind art. For this reason, just filling a space in the wall with an image that has no meaning to you undervalues the power and impact that art can have. In fact, the power comes from you taking the risk to surround yourself with Art that inspires you, makes you feel the power that art can have.

“Art does not show people what to do, yet engaging with a good work of art can connect you to your senses, body, and mind. It can make the world felt. And this felt feeling may spur thinking, engagement, and even action.”

No one wants an empty life. A life lacking in colour, in drama and in story. This time of year can be a time of paralysis. Winter descends and the cold tightens its grip. Hibernation seems to be the best alternative. This is where the power of art becomes integral to moving forward. Dreaming of another time and place is integral to survival. And survival is where this year has began.

It’s a New Year, a new time;

The past few months have been a time that the relationships of power between men and women have been revealed. Movies, live  theatre, literary and the music industry have all revealed that women are stating their case and choosing to be heard. Whether it’s in the media, or on the Golden Globes red carpet, it has been female artists that have taken the lead to state their cases. The art they have made, the stories they tell, all come together to collectively state that 2018 is not a year of tolerance of sexist power structures. I  believe I heard it state that this was a “tectonic” shift. Perhaps it is. Time will tell if there are changes.

Paintings that tell the story of the New Year;

There are times that I create art that sets a clear truth, a story of women together, walking, striding to the same goal of recognition.  The Empowered Series is an integral part of my artistic vision. The painting highlighted is titled “Greatest Show”. This painting uses the glamorous Pan Am stewardesses as the point of departure. Women who were elegant and at the forefront of the professional definition of women’s work life. Yet there is a sarcastic twist to this image. A target practice image is set in the back ground with the text ‘greatest show’- which is from the circus promotion from Barnum and Bailey. These women walk with strength. But will they achieve their goal? I have been a feminist my entire adult life. I have yet to see equality, safety and respect for women. There is an expectation of a lesser accomplishments and stepping up is good. But will it be enough?

 

 

 

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How to preserve memories?

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How to preserve memories? Memories that happen in a glimpse of time that we experience and take for granted at that moment? There are many moments that we try to recreate through a photograph, a short film, but the actual sensation can never be recaptured.

As the holidays descend upon us, many are recreating traditions in the hope of experiencing a moment from the past. Food, gifts, gatherings are become a way to recreate the bonds that families have. These moments of the past can never be recaptured. They can never be re experienced because of age, loss of family name and just time. As my family gets older and my children become young adults, I find I grieve the loss of their childhood. This time of year has reminded me that those moments when they were young were precious and brief. There is no way to go back except to share stories with them about the “remember when”. This is the closest I can get to reliving the memory.

All of these moments of trying to understand these feelings of loss are entwined within my work in the studio. As an artist who works in the realm of nostalgia I try to understand the layers of meaning behind an old photo. Who were these people who stand so straight for the camera? What kind of lives did they have? The object of this image has a different meaning to me than to the owner of this image. This is the tension. This is where I try to find a way to communicate the sensation of this time through my own artistic interpretation . This body of work looks at the nostalgic in an very personal way. It looks at the peons moment of experience.

In an article looking at the role that art has in memory, there is a discussion in the challenges that artists face in trying to find a way to capture a memory that honours the sensation of the moment.

In the featured painting I show, titled Flying Like a Butterfly, this piece brings to mind the vintage postcards of the waterskiing shows from the 1950s. The looking at the moment of time. One that was glamorous and fun and full.

 

 

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