Saturday, June 30, 2007

procrastination in the 'burbs

(This monolith looks remarkably like a huge, blank canvas staring accusingly down on my lazy arse.)

I know, I know -- I've been making pedantic, long-winded posts lately and probably driving away those who prefer to read the pictures. (They're probably hanging out here now.) My excuses: (a) I've had no inspiration and (b) even less time+ to actually paint. Seems I can write (and my web-surfing is truly inspired) but can't paint when I only have small time bytes. Well, June is over and I should be able to kick this farking virus now that I have the time to rest. Regularly-scheduled programming will resume shortly.

+footy games, four birthdays, wrap-up parties for band and footy, 'grade seven graduation' ceremony and activities, a gallery reception, band concerts, a parade, and a house-warming party

more on plagiarism

For those of you who don't read feedback, one of my recent posts generated comments whose insights far outweighed the original post's. God how I love it when that happens ... and talk about blogging as therapy! This morning Tiffini Elektra X, who I used as an example, weighed in on the whole plagiarism/copyright thing. At the end of her comment she referred to an excellent article (originally printed in Harper's Magazine) on the subject:

One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson (forgiving the overly gender specific language) - "He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me." I read that quote for the first time in this article The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism. It is amazing and I don't know if anyone has said it better.

In the article Jonathan Lethem recounts how, at age 13, he was first aware of the blurry line between literary influence and plagiarism when he discovered Wlliam S. Burroughs:

When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable was the excitement. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at all.

The above quote immediately reminded me of my own personal (literal) example, way back in the dark days before every university student had a laptop. I remember sitting up late at night with my coffee and piles of research, actually cutting out relevant quotes from photocopied pages (and yes, I always gave full credit) and physically organizing them in such a way that I was able to mentally connect my ideas with the supporting quotes. Then, pen to paper, I proceeded to fill in the argument, pasting down the quotes as I went. It was a useful skill to have (since I didn't have any typing skills ~ one year my mother generously typed up my word collages for me). As a matter of fact I do a virtual form of it now when writing certain kinds of blog posts.

Like this one.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

snap-judgement art

Rudy, my 'supplier,' put me onto an interesting blog article about Art Basel, the world's most important art fair. I only became aware of the art fair phenomenon a couple of years ago when a dealer I know attempted to get a selection from her stable of artists into the big one in Toronto ... and failed. Much gnashing of teeth ensued. (I've always wanted to say that.)

I'm starting to get why -- from the economic standpoint of the dealer who secures a coveted art fair spot, that is. (Not that I understand the economics of being a dealer, especially not dealers like Sergio Patrich and his band of thugs.) Not so much from the perspective of the serious artist and ethical dealer, though. According to CultureGrrl the mania of buyer competition and the lure of the impulse buy creates a false atmosphere that is at odds with the nature of white-wall gallery art, resulting in the success off a different -- and lesser -- sort of art:

Todd Levin, hedge-fund manager Adam Sender's art curator, recently told Bloomberg's Linda Sandler: "There's been a proliferation of 'art fair art' produced specifically for art fairs. It has a certain kind of wall power and can be digested and consumed very quickly."

Still, the chance to test-drive the impulse purchase theory, from the artist's perspective, is more than a little tempting! (May the art gods smite me dead.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

karma and the hoarder

Forgive me ~ I need to rant.

When I hear the word 'hoarding,' I initially think of those pathological characters who save everything they've ever owned, but there are more abstract versions: people who hoard affection, money and information. They piss me off. But more than that they surprise me. Have they never heard of karma?
I've noticed that people who withhold affection and concern/interest in others are easy to identify ~ and usually reap what they sow ~ but tightwads are harder to recognize because they can be so sneaky about it. For example, I once knew a guy who not only used to withhold tips, he would also throw in only a portion of what he owed to pay the tab and for a long time we couldn't figure out where the shortfall was. Then one time, on a whim (or maybe it was the beer talking), Greg and I bought a pub raffle ticket for each of the people at our table. When our cheapskate actually won he didn't offer to share any of the booty. Busted! I guess he forgot to have Basil Hallward paint his portrait because he looks like he has two decades on me when he only has two weeks. (I may wish for instant karma, but I figure protracted karma is probably more effective.)
Hardest of all to identify are the information hoarders. At first you think they're just shy, have a hard time opening up and that's why they're so guarded. But you then notice that they seem to have no trouble in situations where they can have control. And then, out of the blue, you discover they've withheld information that they know would have been valuable to you, and you feel like you've had the wind knocked out of you.
In an attempt to be objective and ignore any personal disappointment I can see that it's hard being a hoarder. They view the world as a hostile, threatening place and feel they must defend their position at all costs. Hoarders have to work very hard to maintain a siege mentality and that must be exhausting. I wonder if they've ever noticed that successful people like artist Tiffini Elektra X (to bring the art element into this) love to share. She gives away all her secrets with no thought of return and invites you to 'steal her work', knowing full well that nobody can be her as well as she can. And let's face it, artists who plaster copyright warnings all over their advertising take themselves way too seriously and may even be somewhat deluded. Her existence alone makes Tiffini a kind of instant karma for hoarders.
There. I feel much better now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

illustration friday: camouflage


Do you think he notices me in my clever camo?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


germinate right
This is a bit of a departure for me and, because of that, was fun to do. The inspiration was a meeting with several local artists (including Barbara) who comprise a group called LEAP. I participated in my first exhibition with them last year. We will be exhibiting together again early next year so were brainstorming ideas and decided to do something similar to the Illustration Friday idea, i.e. all create an artwork based on a one-word theme. Our first word was, as you can see, germinate. And I don't care if I'm criticized for being a literalist; I also find a lot of artspeak to be hopelessly pretentious, so it seems the most honest approach for someone like me.

light bulb = germination of an idea

uterus = germination of a person

no clues on what the seed is doing! :)

Belinda saw the painting on Flickr and had the novel observation that the uterus looks like the Dodge Ram logo. How brilliant is that! Davezilla takes it one step further:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

the art of the unexpected

Most of us can recognize art in the veining pattern of a leaf, the sound of the wind in the trees and the play of street lights on office-tower windows. But have you looked under the bed or in your bathwater lately?
The practical arts:
Art is under our noses; you just have to know where to look. Even so, you can be forgiven for thinking you're on a bad acid trip if you wake up in one of these wallpapered rooms. Once you make it out of bed you'll be convinced that you also had one too many of those brownies as you find yourself chowing down on your best friend. Never mind, dear, just toddle off now and play with your new action figures.

Language arts:
But c'mon, we all know that art takes many forms other than visual/tactile. Writing is an art, right? But did you know that, Shakespearean sonnets and James Joyce's stream-of-consciousness aside, there's art on your bookshelves? Take a peek inside those books for more.

Art for art's sake:
Let's forget the art in your immediate world now and focus for a minute on art on a grander scale, like under the sea or on the facade of Rockefeller Center in NYC.
Art in another dimension:
So, we have objets d'art, word art and monolithic art. But what if no actual physical object exists other than a photograph of a fleeting moment in time?

Friday, June 15, 2007

illustration friday: rejection

I'm cheating this week even though I haven't participated in IF for awhile. I Googled 'rejection' and then chose some images, Photoshopped a few and made a mosaic.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

the war of art

Here are the ten drawings I've been working on over the past few weeks to accompany seven of my fish paintings (bottom of this page) for artstream gallery's summer show. Caroline suggested to me that this series (Oceans Ten) must be 'prequel art.'


I've been absent. Sometimes life gets overwhelming and I find myself cratering under the (mostly self-imposed) pressure and though I'm as addicted to the interwebs (got that one from my boys) as any other blogger, I do find that a break helps me align my ducks a bit better. I could write about it, and that could be cathartic and useful, but like Joyce wrote here, I've recently become bogged down by questions of transparency. (And if it gets any more opaque than that I'll have to quit! :)

Yesterday, while questioning every decision I've ever made (and a few of the ones I haven't made yet), I wrote an email to Angela. After finishing, I was heading upstairs and noticed that the mail had come. There was a small box from Amazon on the floor and it was addressed to me. Did I order something and then forget what? Turns out it was a book that the very same Angela (an angel in not a very convincing disguise) thought I'd find useful, written by Steven Pressfield of historical fiction fame, cleverly titled The War of Art. It was one of those serendipitous moments that often appear when I'm struggling with something and I definitely took it as a sign. This little book is not a self-help book in any traditional sense; it's more like a handbook of inspiration and validation (read: kick in the butt). I could bore you endlessly with great quotes, but I'll choose just one for now:

Someone asked the Spartan king Leonidas to identify the supreme warrior virtue from which all others flowed. He replied: "Contempt for death." For us artists, read "failure". Contempt for failure is our cardinal virtue. By confining our attention territorially to our own thoughts and actions -- in other words, to the work and its demands -- we cut the earth from beneath the blue-painted, shield-banging, spear-brandishing foe.

Friday, June 08, 2007

no words

I'll be back with actual words again soon.

Thanks for the photo, CozCoz.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

women in art

Friday, June 01, 2007


pen-and-ink drawing digitally coloured