Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Air, and Light and Time and Space

A little bit of progress on the whole book thing ^ So I've been brainstorming for a proposal, and I realize the reason I make excuses so I never finish any creative project that I start. I always want to wait for "that" day, "that" opportunity, "that" studio space, or "that" computer. If you're reading this right now and doing the same thing repeat after me STOP. Don't make excuses. It doesn't matter if you don't know what you're doing yet, just do something! I bought a yellow legal pad and just started writing. It's just one page and sketchy, but it's something. That's what have to keep doing everyday to survive creatively and otherwise.


I found this fantastic poem by Charles Bukowski a few weeks ago on Brainpickings.org that really illustrates what I'm talking about. For those of you who know nothing about Bukowski, he is a poet who basically worked twelve years in drudgery for the US postal service. He smoked, drank, womanized, raised all kind of unimaginable hell and I just love the old guy. In all the time he worked nights sorting mail he still wrote. He worked 12 mind numbing hours a day and still wrote like a boss.  The blue collar inspiration to the rest of us working stiff.

Air, and Light and Time and Space
”– you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to
no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.
baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses
-Charles Bukowski 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Next Big Project and Goodbye to My Car

Well, my yesterday homework for Blogging From the Heart was a little bit delayed due to my being in a wreck coming home from work. Don't worry; I'm okay. I just need to get a new car because mine is basically totaled. The day wasn't a total loss because I came up with an idea. Last week I talked about wanting to write more and I think I've found my perfect project. I love reading stories and listening to podcasts about how artists or creative business people start from the ground up. I asked myself: why aren't these gritty, wonderful stories being talked about more?

I would love to write a book sharing these stories. I think it would be incredibly inspiring, especially now in an economy where it seems as if the only stable way to keep a job is to make it yourself. The issue comes up of my story. Well, I don't feel like I have much of a story just starting in. That's the fun of it, isn't it? When I started on this journey I didn't feel like I had much of a story, just another person who just finished college and couldn't find a tolerable job that used their skills. Then again, I guess that is a story.

Historically, I am notorious to never finish anything that I start. Perhaps, keeping this blog up with no more long hiatuses will give me a measure of accountability. The same thing applies to my paintings and all the other unfinished stuffs that I keep myself occupied with. My grad school thesis is the only huge thing in my life that I've actually accomplished, but, then---I kind of had to do it to graduate.

I'm excited to see where this all will lead. More later.

Also, here are some photos of my poor deceased baby of a car :( It will be sorely missed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Making Mission Statement

"The act of making marks is perhaps the most basic human instinct. Drawing is what makes me human. My art keeps me sane. It is such a release to me. I cannot see myself doing anything else in my life other than creating art and learning about it. Art helps me communicate my emotions better than using words. I am a visual person at heart. I do not want to merely  project my own emotions on paper, I want to inspire emotions in others. My goal is to pull the viewer into my work and invite them to feel what I am trying to say about the world visually. I want to evoke a sense of empathy with my work and the type of feelings I portray in my drawings and paintings. When I do this I feel successful as an artist..."

This was an artist statement that I wrote nearly years ago during my second year of college. It is the second time this passage has shown up in my blog. A year or so ago I was visiting my parents and my mother had dragged this little scribble on printer paper out of an old folder shoved way back into the guest room closet. Bluntly put, my creative side of my brain is what keeps me alive. My art is mostly about me and my experiences . The blog I keep is my way of sharing those experiences with people who can relate to them.

As part of my Blogging from the Heart course, I've been thinking about my mission statement or purpose for my blog. I've also been listening to some of Marisa Haedike's (one of my bloggess heros) beautiful podcasts on her journey to becoming a successful artist. She frequently discusses how it is sometimes rare to hear the story of failures and "paying dues" from someone who's made it. I think it is important to talk about those experiences, because that is what makes you as an artist. I also believe that it is important for artists who blog about their journey to be transparent about where they've been. With that transparency, experiences can be shared and communities can form. 

That is what I want my blog to be- a catalyst for an community of growing artists.  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Entering the Online Community

Blogging from the Heart

The next six weeks I will be enrolled in Susannah Conway's Blogging from the Heart e-course. I am fiercely excited about being able to do this. This is the first actual e-course I've ever taken where I will have a chance to interact with other people (my classmates) online. I love learning and connecting with new people, so needless to say this is a treat. Also, since grad school my "I want another degree" bug has been itching again. I've been turning the idea of getting an MFA in painting around in my head since before I got my education degree, but opted getting a degree I thought I'd have a better chance getting a job in. If money were no object, I would be in school my entire life. After enviously watching nursing majors studying over huge text books with high-lighters in  hand during my post crack-of-dawn workout coffee runs at Starbucks, the need to take another class has been pounding in my brain.

My visual arts side is asleep for a bit, save a few downtown figure drawing sessions and cartooning while watching Disney movies. My hands want to write. They want to type and get smudged up with ink. Technically, if you count my thesis I've already written a book. It was a major accomplishment and a creative light bulb. I thought "Hey, if I can write a 150 page thesis I can write a real book!" I've been dabbling with ideas for children's books, self help books, fiction, and...eh-hem...fanfiction. This past week I grabbed a few Moleskins from Target and spent about two hours analyzing sentence structure in Charles Bukowski's Factotum. I really want to write something that matters, but I don't know what.

Blogging here has been my self-publishing outlet, but there are many times when I go months with hearing any comments or interacting with other bloggers I feel disconnected. For someone who spends so much time online reading blogs and what other people write, I'm admittedly a bit of a troller. There are some wonderful bloggers that I have been reading for three years that I have never sent an email to. I'm fascinated by the idea of "internet" friends, but just really don't know who to go about making any. I feel like the girl new in school. 

I'm hoping that by joining Susannah's course of creatives I can get over it and make some lasting creative connections. After graduating art school the internet is a great place to start a hub of like minded people, even if the place you happen to live doesn't exactly have your niche of creatives. That is the beauty of the internet. After you get past all the bad Youtube comments, cat pictures, and memes it can be a powerful tool to start little communities. 

Cheers and happy Sunday. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Things I'm Afraid to Tell You

No, this isn't going to turn into one of those "I'm still alive" posts. I took a deliberate break from the blog to focus on putting my life back on its rails. After months of being unemployed I finally secured a full-time job in the seasonal department of Hobby Lobby.  I must say that for an ex-sculptor it's pretty fabulous work. I get to design visual set displays all day long and research craft trends for ordering. Along with that, I've been doing some free-lance art commission that I'll be posting about later.  

First off, I would really like to thank my readers and the artists who have let me write about them and their work. It's been a real privilege to interview these fantastic people. People are actually reading what I'm saying on here. I checked my referring page stats and I was surprised by the amount of hits I have received on this blog in my absence.  I love blogging and hope to keep it up for a long time. 

My title for this post and graphic comes from one of Marisa Haedike's posts on her blog, Creative Thursday. I thought this would be a great way to enter back into the blogosphere. (Not to mention the title is perfect for Halloween.)  The "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" posts are actually not a new idea in the blogger world. In fact, they were prompted by a movement that inspired bloggers to be more honest about their lives beyond the photoshopped and perfectly graphic designed world of design and lifestyle blogs. While I try to be as honest and inspiring as possible, sometimes I fall into the trap of trying to make every post perfect and maintaining a publisher quality veneer. The following list is a few little tidbits about myself you might not know.   

Here goes:
  • Last February, I quit my first real job as an art teacher. I've never quit anything in my entire life and I still have some guilt in regard to that decision. It was extremely to admit you are not cut out for a career field that you have two degrees in. I'm still like to think of myself as an educator of sorts, just not in the traditional classroom sense. Honestly, I doubt I will ever teach k-12 again. I still love learning and always will and I love sharing that with other people. I just need to find my platform. 
  • Professionally, I have no idea where my life is going. This is an offshoot of my last point, but I feel like it's an important one to address because the main point of this blog is to be a transparent look to other people trying to live a creative lifestyle or are just starting out as artists. Now that I look back on my college career, I feel like I was just coasting along in a path that I thought I should take because out of all the art careers that I felt were available to me, it seemed like the most secure. I've come to realize the unsecured path is the one I want to be on. It's messy and stressful at times, especially the point where I was unemployed, but it's been a great journey so far.  
  • I like getting older. I secretly wish I was in my 40s, because in  my imagination, I see women in their forties as people who have a clear grip on who they are and accept themselves. There is just something seasoned sounding about being in your forties. It's a point where you have a substantial amount of life experience, but you're still constantly learning and changing. I'm getting closer to that kind of freedom now that I am entering my later twenties (I turned 27 a few weeks ago (!)
  • I don't like the way I "sound" on this blog. Finding your voice as a writer is tough business. I feel like I write very clean and sterile on here. My favorite writers are the gritty, raw hell-raisers of seventies subculture fiction like Charles Bukowski, Raymond Carver, and Hunter S. Thomson. I've made a conscious effort not to do lot of cursing on this blog because I want it to be something that can be shared with everyone. However, my regular vocabulary is usually peppered with a few choice four letters for a little enhancement. 
  • I write and enjoy fan fiction. I have been for nearly fourteen years, to be exact. Of this list, that is probably the biggest one I'm afraid to tell people! My personal favorites are well-written fan stories adapted from 90s cartoons and Star Wars. After keeping it closeted for years, I've finally established an account on fanfiction.com. While it sounds really nerdy, I see writing from media that already exists is only another form of a writing prompt exercise that improves your writing overall. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What I've Been Up To

This has been an incredible month for me in terms of creating new work and plugging into the Hattiesburg arts community! As anyone who has graduated with an art degree can tell you, it takes a while to recharge enough to create your own work after being under so much academic pressure for a long time. In my case, that period of time was roughly three years... One of the best ways I've found to motivate myself was getting involved with other artist for a cause or having a deadline to shoot towards. 
Last weekend I participated in the H.I.P. Quick Draw for Kids sponsored by The South Mississippi Art  Association. Also, over the last couple of months I've been working on two new paintings for the Mississippi Alabama Bi-State Competition. Both experiences have inspired me and helped me regain my passion for doing what I love. 

Bi-State entry progress



Finished Bi-State Entry

Bi-State entry No. 2 progress

Quick Draw in Action!

My Finished Quick Draw Pieces 

Bi-State piece on my porch workspace

Finished Bi-State Piece No. 2

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

You Don't "Need" a Studio

This has been a busy week. I've made more artwork in this single week on my own since I graduated college. It is such a good feeling to be excited about making again. Starting to creating art after you have been use to having large university studio spaces at your disposal where you can create and bounce ideas off other artists can be intimidating. To add to it I've had several people tell me when I began yearning to do my own work again, "You need a studio" or "It's really hard to do anything without a studio". Eventually, I would love to have my own home studio or elsewhere. Right now my "studio" space is the floor of my living room or my dining table. Not having a space designated for just work can be a challenge, but don't let what you don't have stop you from working. Pull a tarp over the floor, hang out in the garage, or if you're a sculptor work small. There are ways to get around what you don't have. That's part of an artist, right? It's a matter of creative problem solving.  


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Artist Spotlight: Paul Fayard

Watching Wyatt by Paul Fayard
I had the privilage of meeting Paul and his girlfriend during the Mississippi Arts Commission 2013 Visual Arts Fellowship Recipients Show at the Oddfellows Gallery. What intrigued me so about Paul's work is the way it captured people during daily activities. Each painting is a polaroid of the personality of the person being depicted. The paintings are telling and honest without being voyeuristic. Like many of my favorite artists, Edgar Degas and Richard Deibenkorn, his Paul's work takes ordinary moments and makes them into art.

Photo of Me at Oddfellows in front of one of Paul's works
Chanteuse by Paul Fayard

Walkers Runners by Paul Fayard
Paul also blurs the line of reality and art in his other work of making prosthetics. When I asked him about the relationship between sculpting prosthetics and making a painting, he told me that it is the respect for the process itself. The creation of both involves the completion of a skilled plan, but must have room to evolve.  This is especially true when dealing with any type of artwork that deals with human subjects as its focus. People are always moving, aging, and changing. It takes skill for an artist to show this accurately and that is exactly what Paul does. 

For more work by Paul check out his website


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anti-Portraits: Testing the Limits of Portraiture

Photo by Mitsuko Nagon
Portraits are my favorite type of photography. After watching a documentary on Netflix about revolutionary photographer Francesca Woodman, I've been regularly searching the internet for interesting types of self-portraits. This is how I've come to learn about anti-portraits. These are a type of portrait that does not show the face of the person being photographed. They challenge the idea of traditional photography because instead of being a documentation of existence, anti-portraits are a reminder of a temporary existence. 

Photo by Any Rynolds 
Photo by Olivia Jeffers

Photo from touristmagazine.tumblr.com
Photo by Melissa Fernandez
Photo from mindthoughts.tumbler.com 
Photo from ffffound.com
Photo by Hugh Kretschmer
Photo by Arjan Benning
Photo from baby-swag.tumblr.com

For more anti-portraits: http://pinterest.com/relivingforever/anti-portrait/ 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

10 Websites and Resources Creative Entrepreneurs Shouldn't Miss!

Starting a business or staying up-to-date on the latest trends of a creative career can be challenging. On the internet there are hundreds of resources that you could spend hours researching through. In this post I have complied a list of some of the most useful and inspiring online resources and websites to help anyone pursing a creative career path. Whether your ambition is to sell art, blog about it, or work in a nine to five job within an art field, this is a broad list of individuals and organizations that can make your creative  aspirations a little easier to achieve. If there are any you feel I left out, please, send me an email or post a comment. I love getting feedback from readers! 

Rena Tom
Former gallery owner of Rare Device and a creative marketing strategist, Rena shares her insight on a variety of topics directed at artists and business owners through her blog. Her website also offers handy free worksheets and downloads that can be used to make goal setting and planning your creative business easier. What I really like about about her blog is that it focuses on a variety of issues with running a creative business that an individual with no prior business experience might not think of such as branding, marketing, and establishing an online presence in addition to a physical shop.

Big Cartel
Big Cartel is an online shop front that combines Etsy and Wix. You can custom make your own website with a shop interface built in. This website I would strongly recommend  to anyone selling high price items like large scale paintings or jewelry because Big Cartel charges only a flat fee for the use of their web services. They earn no percentage off individual items you sell. It saves money on both web-hosting and online shop fees. Prices for hosting range from $9.99 and $29.99.

I know I mentioned Gwarlingo on the blog a few weeks, but I couldn't leave it off the list. Gwarlingo is an expansive art blog which covers several contemporary artists you never heard about in your art history classes. In addition to the visual arts, Gwarlingo also covers film, prose, poetry, and the creative process. It is a must see for artists because it is a place where ideas can be discussed and inspiration can be generated. Check out the Process section where blog author Michelle Aldredge takes an intimate look at struggles artists face while creating and how they get past them. 

Creative Thursday
I can honestly say that this blog by the wonderful Marisa Haedike is what has inspired me to push forward with my own blog and creative endeavors. The story behind the name is that while working in a full-time job Marisa set aside one day out of the week (Thursdays) to focus on being creative. What resulted from this one creative day was Marisa's own business, Creative Thursday. Since, she has produced her own line of fabric and authored a book. Marisa's writing and insightful podcasts document her journey from the ground up to becoming a "thriving" artist.

Altitude Design Summit
Alt is an online community for bloggers to build relationships beyond the internet. Blogging can be a major part of a creative business or it can be a creative business in itself. A blog can give people who buy your art or products an honest look at the person and processes behind the creation. Alt is basically a live conference which takes place every year. Coincidentally, this year's Alt Summit is taking place right now in New York. If you're like me and can't make it to the physical Alt Summit, you can also tune into online sessions for $15 each. Classes and conferences like Alt are a wonderful way to connect with other creatives and make working on your own pursuits less of a solo process.  

Aubrey Levinthal Blogs
Aubrey is a Philadelphia based artist who graduated from The Philadelphia Academy of Fine Art. This is an example of what a good artist's blog should be. She features beautiful posts with high-quality photographs of her own work and the work of various artists, most of which are Philly based. Aubrey features a Sunday Pick every week where a new artists' work is showcased. Her blog is a complement to her website where she hosts her work. It is well designed and gives the reader a personal link to Aubrey's work, making it more enticing check out or buy.

Painters' Table
If you are a painter and maintain a blog, the Painter's Table website can be a good way to increase your readership. It is an online hub that connects hundreds of blogs focusing on varying painting styles as well as blogs on art criticism and online magazines. According to the Google Analytics information posted to the site's about  page, Painter's Table has been responsible for a staggering 238,278 hits on bloggers' pages. You can actually submit your own blog to be part of the Painters' Table blogroll.

Design*Sponge's Biz Ladies Column
Biz Ladies is regular column on the popular design blog Design*Sponge. It connects women running their own design-based businesses and offers advice on PR, social media, branding, and time management. The Biz Ladies who contribute to the column are up and coming professionals and seasoned creative business owners, including Mod Cloth's  creator Susan Gregg Koger. While this is a column directed towards women, it has great advice which can be used by male creatives as well.

After the Jump Podcast
This is another product of Design*Sponge's creator Grace Bonney. The podcast is produced by Heritage Radio Network, a nonprofit online radio station that discusses food, art, and culture. Bonney's guests featured on the podcast are established entrepreneurs and artists who give a look inside their daily lives as independent creatives. They talk about how they started out and the challenges they had to overcome to be where they are at the present. This is a free podcast that can be downloaded in Ttunes that you can listen to when ever you need to get back your creative spark or just add to it.

Etsy Online Labs
While Etsy is already a well known artist resource, its online labs are hidden gems on the popular online storefront's site. Every month, videos and seminars can be streamed live to help Etsy members utilize their online stores to fit their personal business and profit goals. Topics covered include: Building Your Business by Networking, Doing Taxes When You Own Your Won Business, Online Etiquette, Pricing Basics, and Tips on Photographing Products.  The Online Labs are basically an e-business course at your fingertips. You do not need to be a member of Etsy or even have an online shop with them to benefit from the Online Labs. The best part of all, is that it's all free.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Movement in Mistakes

Children's Drawings from the collection of Jean Dubuffet
I have a confession to make. I am an extreme perfectionist. In a way that has attracted me to blogging because, while everything I write on here is published, it is a very organic form of recording ideas. My way of blogging differs from some montonized blogs that I have discovered on the net. The idea behind my blog is that it is a messy, shot-by-shot look of what it is like to be a young person working their way through the "paying your dues" stage of pursing a career in the arts. It tends to be an instantaneous process. Whenever I am satisfied with what I need to say I click "publish" and it's out there. Blogging is enjoyable to me because it is not something that has to have the APA stylings correct or exactly perfect wording. It allows me not be afraid to make a mistake.

I want to translate this type of letting go into my visual artwork. It takes me a long time to loosen up and create while having a good time doing it. Over the past year, nearly all of my work has been done on either newsprint or in a sketchbook because I am terrified of messing up good paper. As someone who does primarily 2-d works of art on paper I know how ridiculous this is. Paper seems precious and scary to me. It is a large white field that when it has taken in dark marks, they are there. They can be erased, but not completely because they are tied to a trajectory of thought or statement. I set out create a drawing my goal is to form a complete statement-a complete drawing. To me, it is just as difficult to take back and start over a visual statement as it is for a verbal one. We all have drawings we wish we hadn't said.

One week at a figure drawing session I caved in and borrowed a large piece of fairly expensive artist quality paper from my roommate. I used it for one grueling twenty minute figure pose that I worked on that same paper the entire time. It was a challenging, but necessary exercise. It helped me to return to a more childlike mindset in creating. As a kid working on art, you never worried about making a mistake or if a piece was good enough to sell. You only created for the pleasure of it. Mistakes were never truly made because stray marks could always become another part of the story in the drawing. Instead of viewing an unfavorable mark as a "mistake", now I view it as merely a transition towards a different discovery.  One of my favorite artists Richard Diebenkorn has this to say about mistakes: "Mistakes can't be erased, but they move you from your present position." An artist's marks are constant movement in the direction of growth and maturity.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Blog Spotlight: Gwarlingo

Gwarlingo , the art blog created and maintained by Michelle Aldredge, an Atlanta native (and former docent of the High Museum of Art), is not your typical art blog. It is a fresh look at different art forms by a writer who has spent the past twelve years working at The MacDowell Colony. I first heard about Gwarlingo through The USM Sculpture Area Blog when it featured a post about a letter of encouragement to Eva Hess by Sol LeWitt. Needless to say as a young artist in need of some serious encouragement I was hooked after reading that post.

"Gwarlingo" is a welsh term referring to the sound before the chime of grandfather clock or "movement before the moment". Following movement is a wonderfully accurate description for the content of Gwarlingo. The blog, which currently weighs in at 300,000 readers, features insights and interviews with contemporary artists, weekly poetry spotlight, and relatable posts about the creative process. Aldredge is focusing full-time on Gwarlingo and is trying to do it without the help of posting advertisements on the blog. In order to reach her goals, she is trying to secure funding from donors and subscribed readers. As a blogger who is trying to accomplish the same feat I support the site and want to help out by promoting it. Please, check out Gwarlingo for yourself. I can promise you won't be disappointed!

Gwarlingo Sells Out...To You from Michelle Aldredge on Vimeo.

For more information see the links below.

New Hampshire Public Radio

About Gwarlingo

Sunday, April 28, 2013

New Figure Works

Staying in practice as a young artist after graduating from college can be difficult. One of the best things I have done since leaving graduate school and moving to Hattiesburg is joining a community of fellow artists in a weekly figure drawing meeting. I missed having the same type of critiques on my work that I had when I was in school. These weekly get togethers with old friends have improved my work significantly. Here is a series of work from the last few months:

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