Tuesday, March 14, 2006

art blogging

I've been ruminating on the value of art blogs since I had a chat almost two weeks ago with Robert Genn. Art and blogging seem like a marriage made in heaven to me, and as the guru of all things art online, Bob was well aware of its existence, but wary of its value, so he rang me up, knowing that I'm an addicted blogger, to get some input from the horse's mouth.

I've known Monsieur Genn, lord and master of the brush and keyboard, for a few years, ever since the early days of his Twice-Weekly Letter when I was (a) just starting to paint again and voracious for info and guidance and (b) already firmly in the grip of the internet sirens. I don't remember how it came about but I supsect I was so in his face that it's natural that we became acquainted, and since he lives only 20 minutes from me he's had to put up with my annoying presence in his studio on several occasions since then. (In case anyone reads his letter and is wondering, he's not always the Dalai Lama of creativity that he appears to be. I can deliver my most politically incorrect, crude, tasteless comebacks and he matches me all the way down the line. Needless to say, he's always entertaining.)

Knowing Bob as I do now (even if it's just the tip of the iceberg), I can see that this man, in spite of his wide-ranging interests and talents, is a purist at heart. He believes that nothing and no one should get in the way of the creative process, and as someone whose studio is overrun with assistants, dogs, phone calls, pc ringing in the arrival of hundreds of emails a day, people like me trying to suck the creative marrow out of his bones, etc., he knows what he's talking about. So the idea of blogging being of creative benefit rather than just another distraction that keeps the artist out of the studio was somewhat suspect to him. So he wrote a letter about it. He initially thought that art blogs were all about exposure, and primarily designed as venues to sell paintings, and though some are (and do booming business), I think he discovered that, like his own venue, the best ones are about ideas and writing and the artist's need for community. We are compulsive and this is just another avenue in which work out our compulsions.

Possibly the greatest value of his twice-weekly letter is the forum it creates. The blog letter provided feedback that put into words so many of the feelings I have about doing this that I haven't been able to articulate. Here are a few of my favourites:

Blogs can be useful to the artist. They're like a self-initiated process of checks and balances. (Brad Michael Moore)

I love the idea of a brotherhood and sisterhood of artists that transcends time and space. (Todd Bonita)

I thrive on being part of the "hood." (Dyan Law)

We must be connected to like-minded people. The sharing of information is critical to our growth as creative spirits. (Len Sodenkamp)

At the end of the day the negatives are still there: art blogging does take time away from painting, if done for the love of it it does not sell paintings, and because it's such a democratic phenomenon there's a ton of crap out there. But so what? I can't help myself so I choose to look at it as 'glass half full.' And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some blogs to read...


Blogger The Whippy Curly Tails said...

Good one Andrea!!! Me too crap or not, I love it. Amen!
Can you get over all the posts on IF. Wow!

On my way around the rest of your blog!

14/3/06 3:54 p.m.  
Blogger juno cole said...

i like your blog and your ideas about art

14/3/06 4:32 p.m.  
Blogger Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Love both the art and the ideas!! Mary :-)

Oh my, I see the person above said almost the same thing. I didn't copy, honest. Mary :-)

14/3/06 8:09 p.m.  
Blogger kyknoord said...

What was that expression about all work and no play?

14/3/06 9:45 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

I had the same reaction to the "Twice Weekly". I know there were the responses that felt strongly that you are not a 'real' artist if engaging in activities that aren't contributing directly to the creation and/or sale of said art - like blogging. But for me, there has to be life as well as art... My life informs my art. And my life happens to include blogging. :-)

15/3/06 1:38 a.m.  
Blogger megg said...

I really enjoyed this - it is very similar to writing in the way that it becomes as much about the community and the connections as the piece. I liked the quote you put on about being part of the 'hood!' it's so true!

P.S. i really like the tryptych (sp?) and I like the piece on it's own... tricky... good thing YOU're the artist!!

15/3/06 4:58 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this so fascinating! I started blogging because I felt my art and my thoughts were being suppressed in my life and I wanted (needed) to ge them "out there".

I too love the sense of community. I went from painting one painting the year before blogging to painting 7 so far this year. For me, having that reminder to take time for myself and to pursue the humanities is what compels me to blog and read blogs.

It's just so easy to get bogged down by day to day living.

Thank you Andrea for posting this!

15/3/06 6:37 a.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

You know Andrea, blogging has been a salvation for me. First, I discovered a new group of artists that I was not aware of at all. Then It gave me the strenght to take pics and draw again. Thanks to Photoshop and Corel Painter... I create a lot more now that I have my bloggerfriends. I have feedbacks from all or you and it's a good thing, even when those are negative! And last, I bought this nice painting of yours. And we are going to meet in real life. So more positive that negative, I guess! Life ia all about having new experiences! And blogger is one of them! :)

15/3/06 6:47 a.m.  
Blogger Sally said...

They are inspiring in so many ways, too. I'm primarily a writer but my friend Jaimie (whose Illustration Friday you commented on and I clicked on to get to your blog) introduced me to Illustration Friday and got me working on my collages and painting (and my poor novel is left on the back burner as a result but creativity is creativity!) And I know Jaimie went through a frustrating creative slump that she blossomed out of when participating in Illustration Friday - I'm so proud of her. She's a fan of your work, as well.

I'm a fan, too. I love the painting (collage?) above!

15/3/06 7:32 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

These comments are great, inspiring even -- especially the ones about your blogs being the creative impetus you needed to get off your arses and start producing. So much for blogs being a distracting influence!

15/3/06 8:39 a.m.  
Blogger AscenderRisesAbove said...

I find blogging very inspirational. It is an excellent way to exchange ideas, techniques, opinions, kudos and just plain chat amoung like minded people. It is about the connection.

A few weeks ago I did beging looking at artists whom I am most impressed with: a collection of links that I have been adding to for years. I wanted to see how many of those had blogs and found only one or two. I do wonder how many famous painters would have taken advantage of blogging if it were available to them. For instance, frida - I imagine it would have been a huge comfort to her all those lonely days in bed feeling abandoned and in pain. Van Gogh may have not felt so desperate; we could have used more years of Van Gogh. Munch could very much needed the connection.

15/3/06 8:52 a.m.  
Blogger PG said...

Amen to all of the above. We no longer have to go quietly mad from loneliness in our garrets. In fact, it's hard to shut us up sometimes (I speak for myself of course!)


15/3/06 9:12 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

The only reason I've produced so much art since I started blogging has been because I'm blogging... but then I don't currently have any inclination to produce art for sale... I know that in the past that motivated me but it doesn't now and hasn't for several years...

For a while I was happy just making things without anyone seeing them but I've definitely found a lot of benefit from getting the feedback I get and would never have imagined how much richer it makes the whole process for me.

I also like the fact that my blog makes a record for me of what I've done, mostly in sequence. I'd tried doing that in journals but this is much more effective.

As you know I started off refusing the label of artist so it doesn't bother me whether the fact that I blog my art makes someone else say that makes me not an artist... I hope that you don't feel less an artist for also having a blog.

I like the bones and deer in your picture. Feels very shamanic... but then lots of your work does to me.

15/3/06 11:01 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

The responses keep getting better.

Caroline: As you know, labels mean very little to me, even if I try consciously to use them honestly because the outside world finds them helpful, so being called an artist or not being called an artist by people with silent agendas is not even on my radar of things to think about. I like to field opinions but there's very little anyone can do to make me feel any different from who I know myself to be. (Some call it having a big ego :)

15/3/06 11:32 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish we had a forum to flesh this out more vs. overtaking Andrea's comments, ha ha ha.

I think as painters and designers we are obviously very visual so being able to sit at home and visit art gallery, after art gallery in the form of blogs is phenomonal. It's like getting stimulated to create on an ongoing basis.

Obviously I create for myself but there is a sadness when after one of my pieces is finished to wrap it up and place it in the garage or back of the closet. I feel since starting my blog my art has been set free. Its found a place to call home so to speak. This has been a huge inspiration for me. I for one have become "more alive" becasue of blogging.

Ok, enough...well until the next person comments. :)

15/3/06 1:20 p.m.  
Blogger Laini Taylor said...

Andrea, being new to blogging -- even new to reading blogs -- I enjoyed seeing some of the things put into words that I've been feeling. I wasn't sure what I would get out of this, if anything, and I'm amazed by the sense of connection I feel. And so inspired! And so pleased to be part of a network of inspiring others. And yes, I've been spending too much time on it, but I think it's worth it!
This Bob sounds like an interesting guy.

16/3/06 12:07 a.m.  
Blogger Mick said...

One of the things that's happening across the board in the arts is a revolution of the masses involved in "taking back" said arts. For too long, the visual arts in particular have suffered from the stigma of being for "the educated" or "the elite". I believe that the commonality we all share is the "knowing what we like", regardless of our education or position in life.
For me, blogging is a way to "tell my story" about the work I produce. Those of you who know me also realize that I create fictional stories to go along with quite a bit of that art. This talking, this "storytelling", is a connector from one individual to another that raises everyone's awareness of the importance of the arts in our lives everyday. Blogging is, perhaps, the most powerful tool the individual has these days to broadcast that story beyond his immediate sphere of influence. This small cluster revolution from man to man, small group to small group will, I believe, return the arts to where it belongs - in the hands of all the people.

16/3/06 6:09 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

I wish I had a more visible forum in which to print these responses. Oops. Andrea just said that (we are twins after all). What Laini said about connection and Mick said about 'taking back' the arts are the key nuggets of the whole thing, aren't they?

16/3/06 8:23 a.m.  
Blogger Janet said...

Sooo interesting! Before I discovered "art blogs", I hadn't drawn anything in 10 years.I just draw simple pen and pencil drawings, and don't consider myself a "real arteest". But I love being a part of the "hood", too! (and now I draw everyday)

16/3/06 2:18 p.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...


16/3/06 2:45 p.m.  
Blogger Alina Chau said...


16/3/06 2:45 p.m.  
Blogger chokecherrygalleagle.blogspot.com said...

I am also brand new to art and blogging.Within several days I will get some art on my site and am also offering my book for sale ' beyond the lodge of the sun-revised edition'. As a new self-publisher after two multi-national publishers had it, blogging seems the solution.Eventually I will be able to also show some of my oils.Way to go, keep it up

16/3/06 5:34 p.m.  
Blogger Nan said...

I'm not an artist, so I can't comment in exactly the same vein as some of you. But I certainly do love visiting all the art blogs, and posting my own photography, my art form. The article has spurred this marvelous dialogue which just helps all of us define what we value and why we do what we do. Sometimes I think people over analyze and tend to criticize something that is obviously working for others, but perhaps not for them. I am thrilled to be part of the community of bloggers. It has opened up new worlds of creativity for me, not to mention, supportive and affirming relationships. Thanks to you, Andrea, for saying what needed to be said... and to all the bloggers who have commented, as well.

16/3/06 9:47 p.m.  
Blogger Shane said...

What can I say ... simply, an excellent post. At times the studio can be a lonely place, so it's a bonus to be able to visit like minded souls.

17/3/06 9:24 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

I had this discussion with my neighbor the other day, she thinks that blogging will keep people from doing things and being together. Since I started blogging I have met more artists and gentle people than I have in my whole life and enjoy being inspired by their points of view! This is a wonderful post!

17/3/06 1:27 p.m.  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

My friends challenged me to blog, to put what I wrote "out there." Well, can't turn down most dares, and I didn't turn this one down. Started posting some poems.

But poems take me a while to write, and this medium seems hungry for fresh energy to fill it as well as the recipient/viewer.

So I wanted to create more faster, and with the support of aforementioned friends started taking pictures and posting.

Then people started commenting on the pix, and it was so encouraging that when I was dared into an Illustration Friday submit I did it, despite not having drawn for what seems eons. I didn't like my craft skills, but had to trust that moving past fear was the first step to another adventure.

Without this channel, I would find it very hard to burn some creative fire into pixels every day. Art blogs, and the swirling virtual community that views/posts/comments, fuel me.

(And, BTW, thanks for coming by and commenting on Forks and other things!)

18/3/06 10:58 a.m.  

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