Friday, August 29, 2008

My Four Year Old could do that!

I have been practicing discussing my work in front of small audiences to prepare for the "big shooew" in January as part my required graduate presentation.

It's tough to give an artist talk even in front of a small group that admits it doesn't know much about art. Of course, I brought in my most current and challenging work to show and discuss.

The piece I brought in to discuss is shown below and is titled "Fern". I went through the whole thing about my work having both abstract and representational qualities, and how I am interested in expressing feeling and inner thought through color and gesture and that abstraction has a visual language and can explore complex thoughts and feelings and this is what I was trying to do, yahdah, yahdah. I did OK and most people seemed to enjoy the talk.

One of the comments made after the presentation was something to the effect...I don't care much for abstract art and think that "my four year old could do that..."

Oh, God the old "my four year old can do that" comment! I totally didn't expect it. I was surprised how calm I felt in addressing that comment as the question and answer part of the talk wore on. I said, "well, yes... your four year old CAN do this, but your four year old does not have the conceptual capacity to even THINK about doing this. I can't paint like a child, a child paints like a child and an adult paints like an adult.

I realized that people are still really confused about abstract art and some people hate being confused. And some really dislike abstract art. They feel like they are being conned...Gee, I wonder why they feel that way? I explained that there is a visual language to abstract art and that it is something you can learn.

Abstract art, is a challenge and in order to understand it, an open mind is a prerequisite. Being comfortable with ambiguity helps, too. Because my work walks the line between abstraction and representation, I realized I am going to get criticized because it isn't representational enough and because it isn't abstract enough.

You can't please everyone, so I'm pleasing myself. Oh, and another thing a four year old can't do is write an artist statement and give a talk on the conceptual aspects of their work. What do you say when someone says..."my four year can do that? Hey, you abstract artists out there what would you say... without resorting to obscenity? I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cats can paint?

It is amazing where research can take you. I stumbled upon this tidbit, did you know that felines paint? There is a theory of feline aesthetics and a discussion of the history of feline art on this web site, Why Cats Paint.

People actually curate and critique cat paintings! They are exhibited in the Museum for Non-primate Art. The west wing is devoted to cat art. Here is a video of a cat painting...

And an excerpt from the Why Cats paint FAQ's reads "Only a very small percentage of domestic cats are known to paint. While about 60% of domestic cats (USA data), will demarcate their territory with claw marks on trees, furniture etc, perhaps only 0.001% will take paint on their paws and apply it to a surface. However, with the recent growth of interest in feline aesthetics due to the international success of books like "Why Cats Paint" and the formation of Cat Art Societies around the world, it is anticipated that more owners will encourage their cats to paint and the number of cats actually painting and exhibiting is expected to rise dramatically in the next few years."

I live with two cats: Violet was born outside in a barn and is part bengal, the other is Cashmere who is a purebred ragdoll and retrieves better than my chocolate Lab. Maybe she'll want to paint? I'll have to test her after I graduate to see if she has potential. Oh, yes there is a test to determine whether or not your cat has artistic talent. Frankly, it looks fishy to me.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Books

The IPhoto book I published two weeks ago came out well enough for me make two more books. I did a redo of the Oil on Copper with slight tweaking and made a new one called Color Scroll Paintings. The only thing I would advise is to learn what the program can do, so you have complete creative control.

It took ten days for me to get the book. It was shipped from the west coast, so maybe that is why it took longer than "a few days". Luckily, I wasn't in too much of a hurry. Plan ahead if you are making a book.

The second book I made is a compilation of the color scroll paintings, done for my January semester at AIB. The original color scroll has 158 paintings. I edited this book to down to 95 paintings. I am so pleased with the way it turned out. It did cost more to print than the Oil on Copper book, but hey, it has twice as many pages.

If you want an artist signed copy of the Oil on Copper: 22 Paintings book, I've tweaked it so it's not exactly the same as the downloadable PDF, it's better and a quality hard copy can be had for $25.00.

Color Scroll Paintings hold the best of my color scroll paintings. The paintings are done on rice paper and gouache over the course of six months. IMHO they are some of the best work I've done to date. This book is signed and costs $45.00.

You can download both books for a look, it's worth the wait. If anyone knows how I can publish these online for less cost AND keep the print quality high, let me know. I'd love to make more, they would be wonderful as presents or to send to galleries.