Tag Archives: encouragement

Glorious Creative Expression

25 Jun
Van_Gogh_-_Terrasse_des_Cafés_an_der_Place_du_Forum_in_Arles_am_Abend1 
Café Terrace At Night (1888) Oil on canvas – Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo Vincent Van Gogh
Van_gogh_cafe_arles

The café terrace, now called “Le Café La Nuit” at Place du Forum, Arles, France

 

fishing on lake

Onondaga Lake, Syracuse, NY

Blue abstract woods small for blog

Blue Abstract Woods, Watercolor, K Turner  (1 of 2 interpretations of lake picture above)

Onondaga Lake for blog

Fishing, Watercolor by K Turner (2 of 2 interpretations of lake picture above)

 

Have you ever thought about how you want to paint a subject?  What is the message or feeling that you want to convey to the viewer?

Recently, artist David Becker  blogged about how different artists interpret subject matter or a scene.  Some like to interpret things in a very realistic manner and others more abstract.  The way an artist decides is based on their own unique style.  You don’t have to look far to see examples of this – even the masters (Picasso, Dali, O’Keeffe, Rothko, Matisse, Van Gogh, etc.) have numerous examples of unique artistic interpretation.

After reviewing these famous artists from the past and looking to all the unique modern day artists and what they are producing – I am convinced there is no right or wrong way.  My personal feeling is that a photograph can tell me a lot if I want a report.  A painting can tell me more about the feeling and the artist’s thoughts and ideas.  There are of course artistic photographs that are wonderful and impactful. I’m not saying photographers aren’t artistic – they are!  When I’m painting, I am forced to edit myself and think about what it is that I want to say to the viewer.

There are times when I think of my painting as a musical concert with a large orchestra, maybe even a brass section.  As the conductor I might want a certain color to give me a deep background sound while another note becomes an essence of color to highlight an area.

Creating your own unique style seems to only come with time and lots of painting.  So I’d like to encourage all creatives, whether an artist, musician, writer, scientist, inventor, etc.  keep working towards your own unique style.  Try hard to avoid becoming someone else’s clone or copy.  Develop your own style.

As a creative you have a special gift of seeing the world a little differently than others.  You owe it to the world to share that unique original vision and idea.  Let your unique style shine through!

The night scene above, painted by Van Gogh, interprets the night scene without use of black.  He creates this with beautiful blues, yellow and citron green.  Van Gogh enjoyed painting right on the street at night, painting his observations and impressions directly.  He shares his interpretation with a spiritual and psychological tone using his brushstrokes to convey his sense of excitement.  The café still exists in southern France today and is a favorite tourist spot for Van Gogh fans.  The café terrace, now called “Le Café La Nuit” at Place du Forum, Arles, France

*Pictures credit: Wikipedia.  To read more about Van Gogh click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vincent_van_Gogh

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In My Spare Moments: The Art of Harold F. Schmitz

23 Apr

I recently came across an announcement for a historical art show “In My Spare Moments: The Art of Harold F. Schmitz” at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin.  The artist, Harold Schmitz, was working in advertising when he was drafted into WWII in 1942.  He became a map maker with the 955th Topographic Engineer Company for the next three years.  After the war he became an art director for Northwestern Publishing House.

Although I find many things relating to war extremely disturbing – particularly the horrors and suffering related to it, I do feel it’s valuable to keep an open mind to what can be gleaned.  It is also fitting to give honor to those who sacrificed and served our country.

The show features 40 drawings, photographs, letters and a recorded oral history by Schmitz.  The recordings, completed prior to his death in 2013 include Schmitz discussing his art.

“Viewers of this exhibit will witness the fascinating evolution of an artist influenced by an alien but beautiful environment and his work as a wartime Army cartographer,” said Michael Telzrow, Wisconsin Veterans Museum Director.

Without even viewing the show, I can see the importance of sketching, drawing, documenting the world around us.  As artists, we are the window to the past, present and future, providing our interpretation of the world and events around us.  How fortunate that Schmitz took the time to practice his craft, despite circumstance.  When I think of the artist-soldiers who found the drive to create like that, I am inspired to brush away any of my own lame excuses.  Documenting our lives through art is great artistic exercise.  The art is needed just as much as the photography.

If you are in Wisconsin and would like to visit this show check out the links below:  https://www.wisvetsmuseum.com/exhibition/the-art-of-harold-f-schmitz/

https://www.wisvetsmuseum.com/contact/

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Ignore the Critics

31 Mar
"The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" Red Carpet Arrivals - 2013 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival

Photo from IMDb

Have you ever thought of trying something new?  Have you ever considered doing something completely different and unusual? Has anyone ever told you to just forget it?

Well, Jim Carrey’s story will make you smile.

For those of you who don’t know him, he is an American-Canadian actor and comedian.  Carrey is known for the many movies he has starred in – such as The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cable Guy and many more, but how many of us know that he is a prolific artist?

carrey painting

Jim Carrey at work in his studio. Photo from NARTNET

It’s true!  In addition to his funny antics as a child, he would spend time drawing and making art.  Later in his life he began painting to help him deal with difficult things.  He certainly had his fair share of sorrows.

In 2012 he began to share his artwork with the world through twitter.  He was advised by critics not to share his art because he was known for his acting, not art.  His response:  that year he had his first gallery show.

carrey eva

Jim Carrey,  Eva (2016). Photo from WMAG

In 2013 Carrey continued on with his directing and also starring in movies.  He also spent time painting and even wrote a children’s book titled “How Roland Rolls” – a tale about a little wave.  In 2015 his personal life took another downturn when his ex-girlfriend committed suicide.  The art helped him through another emotional time.

It wasn’t until 2017 when he had his second art exhibition called “Sunshow”.  Carrey states: “Life opens up opportunities to you, and you either take them or you stay afraid of taking them.”

valentine carrey

Jim Carrey, Valentine.  Photo from JCONLINE

He explained that one winter was so bleak that he felt like he really needed color and so began painting obsessively with color until his home was filled with paintings.  There were so many paintings that there was no place to sit.  The colors represent the things he loves and his inner life is reflected in his paintings.  He explains that his artwork reveals things about himself he didn’t understand.

Art critics say actor turned artist is more common than people realize.  Actors have attempted to become artists with only a handful succeeding.  The critics believe it’s some kind of a joke or publicity stunt for an upcoming movie he might be making.  They said “The art Carrey has been showing would be turned down if he offered it to a Salvation Army store.  It gives amateurs a bad name.”

Still, Carrey is happy he didn’t take the negative advice and keep his art to himself.

He has a short documentary video on his art and the role it fulfills for him which you can find online by just googling Jim Carrey – I Need Color.

Carrey said: “It is better to risk starving to death than surrender. If you give up on your dreams, what’s left?”

carrey jesus

Jim Carrey, Electric Jesus. Photo from JCONLINE

Carrey believes art is merely a model of your inner life.  He describes his Jesus paintings as full of electric energy with healing accepting eyes.  He says he uses many colors because you can find every race in the face of Jesus.

He explains, “As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and then working toward it while letting go of how it comes to pass.”

Jim Carrey doesn’t know if painting really teaches him anything but he does admit to it freeing him.  The bottom line of it for him is love.  Whether its performance, sculpture, art we all want to show ourselves and be accepted for who we are.

♦♦♦

TerraSkin vs. Yupo

6 Nov

I’ve been using both TerraSkin and Yupo paper for several years.  These two smooth papers have been produced as shopping bags and labels, envelopes, wristbands, signs, banners, booklets and more before it came to the fine art world.

I heard that TerraSkin was a more eco-friendly alternative than Yupo synthetic paper but it’s really a toss-up.  Neither use trees to make their paper, both conserve water in their production processes and both are non-toxic.  The biggest difference is in the plastic they use to hold the ground stone, also known as Calcium Carbonate together as a sheet.  Yupo uses Polypropylene which has a high melting point, is pliable has a slight static charge (attracts dirt and dust), and costs less than Terraskin.

Terraskin uses High-density Polyethylene with a lower melting point, is less pliable, doesn’t carry a static charge (attracts less dirt and dust) but costs more due to a higher purity (100% virgin).

Here is what these two chemicals look like:

I’ve made up charts of each paper’s properties below.

charts so

My Thoughts on Synthetic papers:

Synthetic papers are easy to work with and have only slight differences that I’ve noticed.  The paper doesn’t need to be stretched.  It doesn’t shrink or expand.  They work fairly well with wet or dry mediums but the floating wet paints take a lot of practice to control.  Terraskin seems easier for layering colors but with patience and practice you can find ways to work with both.

If you are not happy with your painting, you can take it right to the sink and wash it off, although Terraskin tends to stain with certain pigments.

Tyvek is another synthetic material that painters are experimenting with but I haven’t worked with this yet.  Synthetic papers are being embraced by artists for their durability, eco-friendly qualities and their unique painting surfaces.

These papers may be better for the environment due to their tree-free and low water production processes but many of our oceans have plastics floating in them causing problems for the marine wildlife.  So I would advise painters to re-use and recycle their papers rather than tossing in the garbage.  Since I work in watercolor, it’s easy to just rinse off a painting and start again.  If you are using a more permanent medium and wish to start over, remember to use the back or maybe you would turn it into a collage or recycle where #2 plastics can be recycled as an alternative.

 

CREDITS:  https://www.globalplasticsheeting.com/our-blog-resource-library/bid/92169/polypropylene-is-it-different-from-polyethylene  http://www.sea.edu/plastics/frequently_asked_questions, http://www.sea.edu/plastics/current_sea_research

creeping yellow roses with logo

“Creeping Yellow Roses”, Watercolor on TerraSkin paper, 26″x34″ Katie Turner

Choosing To Go Her Own Direction

2 Nov
THe SUn and the Moon

“The Sun and the Moon”,  2005, oil on canvas on wood, 9’9”x8’11”x2” by Elizabeth Murray

The first time I heard of Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007) was when Kathryn Bilharz-Gabriel  mentioned her 2018 Elizabeth Murray Artist Residency  over the summer.  A few weeks later, PBS aired the documentary film “Everybody Knows… Elizabeth Murray” American Masters.  Murray was known for her use of shaped canvases and bold colorful abstracts.  She rejected the minimalism of the time, choosing to go her own direction.

I found her story encouraging for women and also in that she was still painting and pushing herself artistically until her death.  She was one of only five female artists to have a retrospective at the MoMA and she was very dedicated to her work.

I find her work fabulously noisy, eccentric, strange and successful.  Her art has images exploding with zany energy and color.  They have a sort of music to them.  There is something unique about Murray’s art that just works.  I look forward to seeing her work in person the next time I am able to visit NYC.

If you’d like to read more about Elizabeth Murray, here are some links:

https://elizabethmurrayart.org/biography/

https://art21.org/artist/elizabeth-murray/

https://www.moma.org/artists/4185

https://www.pacegallery.com/artists/318/elizabeth-murray

♦♦♦

Something is Better than Nothing

16 Oct
Purple Pole Beans

“Purple Pole Beans”, Watercolor on Yupo paper, Katie Turner

A fellow artist approached me recently bemoaning that his drawing wasn’t as he would have liked it.  When I asked him why he didn’t like his drawing he explained that it had been done using a photo reference rather than sketching it “en plein air”.

In my opinion, drawing from a photo is certainly better than not drawing at all.  But without the right approach it can be a sad experience with drawings and paintings that look flat, lifeless and soulless.

So how do you keep your drawing or painting from lacking soul? First, have a positive attitude and then an open mind. What are you feeling as you draw this?  What senses are affecting you during the drawing process?  What is it about this particular subject that you want to communicate to the viewer in your drawing?

Another thing to consider is what the photographer has already done in the photo.  How have they already edited the scene and what can you do to make it your scene rather than just a repeat of what the photographer created?  What else can you bring to this drawing that would make it fresh and spice it up?

Remember that your art tells your story and you get to choose what you want to say and how to say it.   Happy creating. ♦

Rodin’s Answer to Rejection.

13 Sep
rodin angels

The Benedictions, executed 1894
Musee Rodin cast number unknown, 1955 bronze
Marked: “A. Rodin”, “Georges Rudier Fondeur Paris”
35 1/2x24x19” Lent by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation

Attending Syracuse University’s Lunchtime Lecture afforded me the opportunity to hear Professor Romita Ray’s wealth of information and insight into the current show, Rodin: The Human Experience.

This free event is open to the public and gives visitors a chance to familiarize themselves with Rodin and all of the SU Galleries in the Shaffer Art Building on campus.

The show has 28 bronze sculptures all by the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).  Rodin is considered the father of modern European sculpture and he studied under Antoine Louis-Barye.

Rodin came from a working class family, his father a police inspector and his mother a seamstress.  After he was rejected from Ecole des Beaux-Arts (art school), he worked for sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse for six years.  After having his sculpture rejected from the Salon several times, he was determined to continue working in his own style.  He was inspired by Michelangelo’s work during his travels to Italy in 1876.  Not long after that his work began receiving positive attention and international fame.

Professor Ray gave insight into the political events that were happening during the time Rodin was creating various sculptures. It was interesting how critics of the era responded.  She took time to describe the actual process of creating a bronze sculpture, which I found very helpful.  She told us how Rodin described sculpting as simply “making holes and bumps”, gave a hand-out full of detail and explained how the Rodin sculptures “Vibrate” power without many details.  It is fascinating to see how this artist was able to give the feeling of flesh and fabric using a metal.  Some of Rodin’s sculptures feature oversized feet, hands or other body parts, which Professor Ray stated “Art is about more than beauty, it’s also about exaggeration.”  I saw the exaggeration as Rodin’s expression of power or strength.

Professor Ray explained that the emotional pieces that were rejected were also the same pieces that later were considered to be masterpieces.  Rodin’s art is considered a link between traditional and modern sculpture and is rich with feeling.

I appreciate artist stories and particularly enjoy hearing the successes – how one persevered, overcame and found success.  What can I take away from this?  Sometimes it’s important to ignore the critics (even if they are only in your own head) and push yourself to create the best work you possibly can.

Syracuse University has many free events, so be sure to check out their art and newsletter here: http://suart.syr.edu/  ♦