Thursday, September 30, 2010

About Enhancement

The image on the left is a fine scan of an original, painted more than thirty years ago. It is completely faithful in color and detail. The image on the right is the giclée I am making of it using Photoshop as my tool. 

I started using Photoshop ten years ago; reluctantly, I might add. A friend insisted that I see it demonstrated in a classroom. And so I fell, head over heels. Now it seems that my studio materials, paint, pastels, pencils and such, take me only partway to the vision I hold. Photoshop takes it further. It is a huge application and while I have dedicated many hours to learning it, much more remains to be digested. It endlessly fascinating and rewarding, an artist’s tool deluxe. There are other applications for painting using computer technology; they all have their devotees.

The visual artist often clings to a vision far beyond her capacity to realize. The vision may evolve; in my case it has become simpler in format and more complex in color. It is still beyond my grasp but I am grateful to have the tools technology has provided.

By the way, the image on the right is unfinished; it might appear here again when it comes up to snuff.

Go to Media Arts and Technology to see what comes of marrying the arts to technology at University of California, Santa Barbara.

Friday, September 24, 2010

About Memory

Interesting, isn’t it, the ways in which scenes from the past can be brought to mind? They can be revisited suddenly and surprisingly because of a bit of music or an odor or maybe a picture. Recently, I heard again the voice of my late ex-husband when I encountered some lines of a love poem he recited to me on occasion. He has been gone these many years but might have been speaking in the same room.

I came across the image above when I looked into an ancient leather portfolio of mine, thinking I might use it to take some work to the next town for an exhibit. The image was, or rather is, part of a group of paintings I made more than thirty-two years ago. That was one year before I returned to this country after living away for twenty-four years. They are small paintings, done on watercolor paper with intensely colored inks. The inks were a pleasure to use; they had a glow to them that came from some sort of shellac. Unfortunately, in spite of being made by a very reputable manufacturer, the colors were and still are, fugitive. So the little paintings have resided in the portfolio to keep them from fading. I realized yesterday, when I rediscovered them, that now I have powers unknown to me when I made them. I can scan them and print them. Not only that, I have learned enough in the intervening years that I can upgrade and refine them as I take them through my computer.

The memory that came with them was of sitting in that dining room, working on the table. I had no studio then and took advantage of the quiet while the kids were at school. I saw again the furniture, felt my feet on the rug, and looked from there into my kitchen. It was another life; the family was whole, together.  That past that is gone and always present.

Isabel Allende, who suffered some immense losses, said: “I finally understood what life is about;  it is about losing everything. Losing the baby who becomes a child, the child who becomes an adult, like the trees lose their leaves. So every morning we must celebrate what we have.”

The image above is History-002, ©1976-2010 giclée print, size varies. For information or to purchase any of the images on this site, please email Joan.

Please note that at your right, on this blog, is the door to my new Etsy shop. I have five of my new giclées there and will be adding more as I make them. I invite you to click and visit, and if so inspired, leave me a comment here. I really like hearing from my readers.

Friday, September 17, 2010

About Being Engaged

I toyed with writing about “meaning” in art. I think of meaning in art as the use of a visual format or words to raise awareness about injustice or some other nightmare on earth: genocide, hunger, global warming are some of the darker issues. These issues have been dealt with well in all kinds of ways. At best, a call to action is inspired or at the very least awareness is raised.

In this part of the world that we live in it would be hard not to be conscious of these realities. Tell me how to not know for a while and I might opt for an occasional vacation from the real world. Irvin Yalom’s book, Love’s Executioner, speaks of the anxieties caused by the four “givens”: death, isolation, groundlessness, and meaninglessness. He offers a choice of certain stances: to be “resolute” or “engaged”, or courageously defiant, or stoically accepting, or to relinquish rationality and, in awe and mystery to place one’s trust in the providence of the Divine.”

James Sage reviewing the book, says “Existence pain is the kind of pain that is "always there, whirring continuously just beneath the membrane of life”. The choice of the artist is to be engaged which is like taking that vacation from reality that I mentioned above. Giving oneself over to work is how many of us make our lives good. I would like to think I put some of that respite into my paintings and that it remains there for the beholder.

The image above is Red-Blue ©2010,  Giclée Print,  size varies. For information or to purchase any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, September 10, 2010

About Self Promotion

When I was a little girl, the consensus amongst my peers was that if you seemed to think highly of yourself, you were “conceited”. Not a good thing.

Today we are urged to bring our self-esteem to some sort of optimum level. Artists and others who depend on the general (or some segment thereof) public to fall under their spell, are required to “promote” themselves. If you have already achieved some sort of notoriety you might have the great good fortune of having a professional shouting your name. Otherwise you put aside the constraints of decorum and look for ways to be more appealing and to capture attention. Some of us go to interesting lengths to make our mark. Legend has it that Julian Schnabel mailed a sandwich enclosing slides of his work when he applied to the Whitney Museum’s independent study program. It worked. Brilliant move on the part of somebody who knows a thing or two about advertising.

But for most of us there is a struggle between who we are, which is often shy and happy to lurk in the shadows, and the need to invent some more attractive “persona”. Whatever that means. At the reception for my first solo show in 1979, I was told by the gallery director not to speak of my work as I did. I don’t recall what I said except that it was something about how I made the work and it was the truth. I had moved into a world where I was going to have to censor myself. Or look for another gallery in search of more freedom of speech.

Many years later we put ourselves on Facebook, send out Tweets, Link to those who might help us form a network of business connections. There are more ways than ever to solicit notice. But singing one’s own praises has not gotten easier.

The image above is Forfeit, ©2001 Acrylic on Paper Adhered to Canvas, 7.5 x 25.5". For information or to purchase any of the images on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, September 3, 2010

About Persistence

My dictionary defines persistence as something like hanging in no matter what the cost. Perseverance, a more substantial word, the same. Move ahead despite the toll taken.

Those words describe heroes. People who act at great sacrifice to themselves to achieve some greater good. I saw a lot of movies on that theme when I was growing up. They seem less popular now. Our culture is less romantic than it used to be.

Synonyms for stubbornness, on the other hand, are negative terms: obstinate, willful, pig-headed. Maybe your dictionary is kinder. 

I am working on a second blog site; this new one will be dedicated to the giclées that I’m having such a good time with now. I plan to link it to this blog and to my web site and use it for sales of these creations. I’m trying to set it up using WordPress instead of Blogger (which is how this one works). WordPress is elegant and flexible and all-around appealing to me. But I’m having one helluva time learning to use it.

So some days I see myself as persistent, and when I tire, stubborn and intransigent. Why not surrender to defeat and choose something easier? Sometimes being tenacious is a blessing, other times a curse. I had a terrible job once that I took to tide me over during a difficult time. I realized one day as I was showing up for work that I could see myself as a victim or as a hero. My choice. 

Calvin Coolidge provides solace: Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

The image above is Yellow-Green ©2010,  Giclée Print,  size varies. For information or to purchase any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.