Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

A fresh new week

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Its Monday, everyone’s favorite day :D… Its cool enough in the morning now that it feels like Fall is approaching. I so welcome the brisk change in temps and the rain. Love the rain. every little nourishing drop.

I plan to read through all the challenge entries this afternoon, and make a decision this evening as to which I found the most compelling, and they all had compelling aspects to them. I want to emphasize that, as you know, I am NO authority on such matters, I am just going to choose based on what resonates most with me and I will give it plenty of thought and I will do my best to explain. As far as I am concerned every single person who made the effort is a winner. I understand from almost all the participants it was a hard challenge and took quite a bit of effort. But, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it were easy, right?

I also made an effort to comment on everyone’s post and I may post the comments and responses if they seem relevant or add something to the discussion.

People brought up so many different aspects that ten new challenges could be culled from them…Much food for thought. I may define and post some of those aspects so you can challenge your own thinking for the fun of it. Okay maybe its not fun for some of you, its fun for me! 😀

Tena Smith-Wasington

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Tena Smith-Washington responds to the challenge:
Can you tell a lot about a person by the art that they create….?

“In my opinion no. Art is created for so many different reasons. Looking at another persons art is like listening to music. That sad romantic lost love ballad that breaks your heart every time you hear it. Then you learn the writer was lamenting over the loss of his favorite T shirt, stolen at the laundry mat. I think we inject our vision, truth, reality, intent in an attempt to connect at some level. At the same time disconnecting from our own work, Ask yourself, have you produced a work that exposed so much of your raw inner self that you could show no one? Few people see you as you see your self —but do you really see yourself?
Beautiful art can come from dark places and ugly people. Dark art can come from hopeful places.”

“Has the work matured or skills improved…?”

At 49 I’m not sure I like the word mature any more. I almost equate maturity with old age, thus immaturity with youth. What is wrong with youthful art? At 17 I had loads of ideas and little skill. Let’s not let maturity make us stale.
“Trying to view my work as thru new eyes…..”

No matter how I squint the view is the same.The word that comes to mind is Hopeful. Hopeful little works. Hopeful of acceptance — Hopeful … they wait to connect with another. It need not be ridgidly my vision or intent. Impose your will on them. Because art like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


Monday, September 21st, 2009

Artist Jessamyn responds to the challenge:

Jessamyn gives a thoughtful response to the challenge:

Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?

I think that art must tell you about the person that made it. Craft is different, craft can reflect fashion, or another person’s style, or can mimic other people’s work. Art is when it comes from within a person and brings something out into the open. For me, the process is what is beautiful, craft as art. Art can be thought-provoking and visceral and not be crafted at all, it can be conceptual or minimalist and be merely representational. But for me, craft is what makes art beautiful, seeing a piece and having a sense of the time the artist spent with it, imbued not just with the thoughts they have had about the work, but with all of their thoughts and daydreams and worries and all the energies that passed through their fingertips.

I was not a very successful art student, I could not find my voice. I have always been a crafter, and that has always embarassed me I think, because it’s not regarded as art, unless it’s ironic and kitsch. I have soldiered away for years, though, always working on something, for the process, because it’s good for thinking. Occasionally I have excelled at something, I became an accomplished calligrapher, and I was very good at needlework, but I never had a network to share it or explore it any further than what I could teach myself from books. The internet was a revelation. It really changed how I looked at what I was making.

In the past ten years I have developed a lot. Professionally, I have sold a lot online, and at one point developed a little following for my funny little dolls. I have opened an art gallery! What an amazing thing. I have maintained a public studio space for many years now. I have shown my work locally. Artistically, I am still very insecure that I will be exposed as a crafter. Craft is very valued in Ireland, but my craft is so traditional, I don’t have the art-school aesthetic. I kind of ground to a halt when I opened my shop, lost my way a little bit, lost the time to sit and think about it. But lately I’ve been so inspired, it’s like so much has come together in my head. I am so deeply in love with my craft right now. I think becoming a mother has been like the final puzzle piece in the picture of myself as a woman artist. I don’t take my craft for granted so much, I want to celebrate it. I still have self-doubt, and I still feel inadequate in many ways. But I am enjoying myself and feel very driven, and feel very in touch with my artistic voice.

This was really hard to write and took me a long time, an hour to write three paragraphs! I didn’t want to disappoint Tricia. I knew it would be good for me. I wish I could have expressed myself better.

Mari Pat Doyle Oberg

Friday, September 18th, 2009

responds to the challenge:

“What would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?” These are the words printed on the lovely lady sitting on the moon ornament that my best friend Anni gave me for Yule several years ago. I have it hung on the lampshade in the living room. Even though it has been there for a long time it has not slipped into that invisible familiarity that some objects we’ve had around us for a long time seem to do, it continues to catch my eye, the text still speaks boldly. The question plagues me. Somehow it seemed relevant when [info]tricia_joy presented her challenge on Sunday. Failure is perhaps my biggest fear. It’s tied into my self-oriented perfectionism, keeps me from working with materials I‘m not skilled with. It is a stumbling block that interferes wtih my finishing art projects. It gets in the way of putting myself “out there” by sharing things I’ve created. I do not judge others with the same juried expectations I apply to myself.

This week I looked at the “art” I have around my home. Some of it I would not hang on the walls if my home were only my home, but I have to accommodate my husband’s preferences as well, it’s his home too. But there is precious little of my own work displayed. Most of it is tucked away, or it’s been sent off to someone else in a round robin or a swap, or as a gift. In retrospection I think it’s interesting that the things I finish and send off are usually the things I feel most invested in and confident about. Perhaps it’s the letting go of the objects that does away with my fear. Or maybe it’s a fear of being judged that keeps me from displaying my work in my own home. I’ve been hesitant to call myself an artist in the traditional sense. I’ve come to the art world so late in life, but this old dog IS learning new tricks. My work, my skills, and the mediums I use have changed tremendously over the past 10 years. I know I am creative but I am more comfortable painting with words, sculpting with metaphors and more comfortable stitching together thoughts into a collage of ideas and imagery. But I am determined to conquer my fears and master new skills.

The things that reflect my spirituality and my heart are usually the better of my works. I don’t know that a stranger who looks at most of the art would see the depth of who I am. I suppose that is there for them to see. It depends on what they’re looking for. I think that even in viewing others’ work we tend to project ourselves into the work, and see in their art a mirror of our own soul and beliefs. I don’t know that someone who sees any art I’ve made would say they really know me at all. I don’t allow a lot of people to get close to me, to know me really well. It’s tied into my fear of failure. (In psychology we call it “imposter syndrome”). I tell myself I make art just for me, but if I am honest, because of my lack of confidence in my skills, I have a fear that people will think I’m a poser and probably would look at my work dismiss it and call me shallow, a dabbler , because I really don’t have a lot of substance in my work for them to see. But then that depends on who’s viewing my work. When looking at some of the things I have “out there”, as a stranger I might think “She is afraid to color outside the lines.” But then other things I’ve done might show more of the complex woman that I am. When I make art the best of my art is art that changes me as I create it. Perhaps the process is more important to me than the results. I am perhaps in a sense creating myself, uncovering knowledge of myself, carving out some aspect previously unseen when I stretch myself somewhat making art..

Do I know any artists whose work truly reflects who they are? I can think of dozens whom I admire, particularly because it does reflect the person I have come to “know”. I think that their art has helped me discover different ways of seeing the world around me. But do I know them? Sometimes I catch a glimpse of who they are, but I believe that the sum total of all our work is only a facet of who we really are, who we show the world, just as we can only know people in the limited sense through other mediums like Livejournal where the words on the screen do not reflect always reflect the breadth and depth of experience, tone and nuances that lie unheard between the lines. Visual art is just as vulnerable to misinterpretation as written communication . I admire artists who think outside the box, who see the world differently than I. I especially treasure those who allow me to glimpse their world and aren‘t cranking out cookie cutter art. Art can be such an intimate exchange between artist and viewer, but unless you know the artist you might not have the code to translate what they are saying.

Because of work and the demands on my time and energy in my personal life this week I’ve not had time to finish the small project I started in response. I decided to work in a medium in which I’m not comfortable. When I finish the small polymer clay figure I started I will post it another day.  

Cynthia Gaub

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Cynthia’s entry includes images which can be seen in her blog

Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?
Yes and no.
As an art teacher I do learn a lot about my students through their artwork, but they are really new to art, most don’t consider themselves artist yet, but they are pre-teens so EVERY thing is about them so they usually put a lot of their personality (or sometimes the parts that they want people to know about) into their art. Some of my assignments ask them to put that sort of thing out there.

I know my experience has been that in the past my work held a lot of my personality and passions, almost to the point of therapy. Now not so much. At least ,I don’t see the same level of meaning and subtext that I used to.

Is the work you did ten years ago different?

YES, the work I am doing now I think is very different. For several reasons… one I have been teaching now for 10 years. As part of my job I have to experiment in a lot of different mediums, make examples, explore ideas, take classes on new techniques with new materials. etc. So I feel pretty scattered in a lot of ways. 15 years ago I was working in a gallery and showing art more regularly, I was focused on my one medium (collage) creating in a series and entering shows and contests. I had a body of solid work. I do think that this work had a lot of my personality in it, of the person that I was then. There was a lot of depression, relationship and body issues and those came out in my work. One of the things I LOVED about gallery openings is that people would talk about my work either to me, and ask questions, or with other people and I would overhear their comments. So much of myself would come out in the work that I had NOT intentionally put in there.

blue pagesFor example in this piece (from 1993)a viewer pointed out that the blue swirls near the pelvis of the woman looked like ovaries. I did not intend this, or think of that as a symbol, but the piece has a lot to do with relationships and some struggles I had about whether or not I would want to or be able to be a mother. Also in this piece the face is a mirror, which I mostly did because I was not happy with my ability to draw faces at the time. But I was asked if it was because the person didn’t know, or was searching for who they were. I realized that this really did fit at the time.

My work now, maybe still reflects my personality, I am just much more settled in my self but less settled in the techniques and skills of my media.

Is the content or the media the same? Neither are the same for me now. But I am a very different person too. It would feel false to attempt to still create the type of work I was making 10-15 years ago. In fact I have tried to do some of that style/type of work recently and it is not working for me.

2007july27 013Have you matured artistically or just improved your skills?

I believe I have matured artistically and personally, BUT I am still needing to hone my skills in my new choice of medium, fiber. If I had stuck with the same medium and not been dabbling in a ton of stuff for work and for fun, then I think I would have some nice bodies of work, but that might also have become stale and repetitive. I think I needed to change my medium to move to a new level artistscally but in the meantime I have lost some of my direction.

Is there a difference? Yes, although often they happen at the same time.

Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?

As an online friend of many artists, I know many that are well developed in their art and I can look at a piece and KNOW it was made by a particular person. They have a style that is well developed, a skill with their chosen medium and have worked towards making a body of work. But I don’t KNOW if I really KNOW them… I have a picture in my mind about them, based on their work that may or may not be accurate.

Bridgette creates work that I envy in what I see as a calm zen of simplicity. Through her work I imagine that she is an introspective, spiritual person. She has trees as a common symbol, which I see as someone who is grounded. There is still many different emotions in her work as she struggles through the trials of daily life, but it all still seems centered.

Angie’s work is so full of story, place, ideas and her beliefs. I feel like I know so much through her work about her and about the world. Her style, symbolism and passion is so solid and mature. I am proud to own one of her pieces that not only told me something about her, but also tells me something about myself.

Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?

Not really or not yet, I have been struggling with my work for the past couple years, not having a direction or a solid body of work. Not feeling inspired or having a theme. I just feel very scattered. Not sure what steps I need to take to get past this block. But perhaps getting out to some shows or artist groups so that I can talk to people about my work and find out what my current work is SAYING to other people.

Bridgette Guerzon Mills

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Bri is an artist who I have been reading for quite a while and probably always will. Here is her take on the challenge…
I can’t really look at my work in progress to answer the first question as I don’t have any paintings in progress at the moment. But I can do it by looking at my past work- and I have asked myself these questions before to help me with my artist statements to hone in on my vision, and just to keep that dialogue open with myself.

But if I were to imagine myself looking at my work with a stranger’s eyes, I would imagine the artist to be someone who is calm, introspective, reserved. Someone who sees the beauty in the simples lines of nature. I would probably imagine her to live somewhere peaceful and nature-filled, not in an urban setting! I would also think that while the artist is attuned to her spiritual/emotional side, that she works very deliberately. Not very spontaneous. Definitely sees things in a concrete manner. Controlled.

That was hard because I know myself and my work very well! tried not to cheat and remain objective though. 🙂

I think that the statement : “You can tell a lot about a person by the art they they make” does have some truth to it. Art can reveal a lot about the artist behind the work…but not necessarily be definitive. The art can reveal an aspect of who the artis is, or even what they long for. Creating art is such an intimate act- it just HAS to reveal something about the Maker. I don’t see how it cannnot. A lot of people tell me that they feel a sense of calm and peacefulness in my work…which is funny because I often feel very agitated/anxious inside! But I know that I am able to tap into that peace when I paint, so it is there. Or at least I hope so.

I can think of 2 artists that I know personally whose works reflects themselves- Angela Wales Rockett and Sue Robertson. I won’t go into the details, but if you know them you see how their work both really reflects their personalities.

I wasn’t painting 10 years ago, so yeah my work has definitely changed since then! 🙂 I began creating in 2002 when we moved to Seattle and my work has definitely changed and matured since then. I think it’s a combination of maturing artistically, improving my skills, and gaining more life experiences to draw from. Some of the content is the same-trees,birds (i have work from high school with those symbols)….but I have expanded from that a bit. Plus I’ve been working on developing my personal symbols and marks. I started working in encaustics in 2005 and I feel like that that medium is my “calling”, so to speak. I love working in it and I feel that it best epresses what I aim to achieve. Developing my skills and honing my visual language in that medium has been key in my artistic development.

It is important to do this exercise because right now I feel like I’m in transition again-artistically and in my personal life. I am wanting to delve deeper into personal meaning, while at the same time loosening up on the canvas. I find myself increasingly attracted to abstracts, but not sure if I am ready to go there. I am too concrete, I think. At least right now I am. Not sure what lies ahead of me though with all the life changes ahead… but I haved learned that when there is desire, there is a way.

Amy Peacock responds to the challenge

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

You can see some of Amy’s work by cliking on the link to the right of the screen under blogroll

Do you find that the statement ‘You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make’ is true?

Depends greatly on the artist, I think. There are certain artists that really put a lot of themselves into their art. I am thinking right now of friends from my art group. Could I really say that I know much about them when I look at their art? Not really. I mean, what can you tell about someone who does beautiful landscapes? They love nature? They love rocks? What? What about someone who does abstracts? Is their mind a mess somehow? Are they avoiding realism for some reason?

When I look at my own art, I don’t know that someone could honestly say that they know me. Why do I do what I do? I sometimes barely know my self, so how can I expect others to know?

I will say that you can sometimes determine what an artist is interested in. If death is a common theme in their work, then you could assume that they have some kind fascination or interest in death. If you see a lot birds in their art, then you could assume that they are fascinated by birds. And then what? What about that person could you say beyond that?

Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?
Perhaps. I think a lot of it depends on whether you feel that art must include some kind of message or meaning. For my own art, I think that it might become obvious that I am intrigued by form, by color, by the way that materials react to each other, by layers and the secrets that they hold. I am by nature an impatient person. If I had to put meaning into every stroke I don’t think I would ever paint. I would much rather let my intuition take over and figure out the meaning later on. And that meaning always shows up, whether I intend it or not.

Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?
Not really. I think this question is different that being able to say “oh that’s Amy’s art – I can tell just by looking at it.” I think being able to determine WHO someone is would take a lot of time, and the artist themselves to confirm or deny your interpretation. And how can a piece of art reflect more than a mood or even a moment in time? You might be able to say that an artist was angry when they painted a certain piece, but does that make them an angry person? Maybe, maybe not.

Is the work you did ten years ago different? have you matured artistically or just improved your skills? Is there a difference?
Oh absolutely. I have hopefully done both: matured artistically as well as improved my skills. I think in order to mature artistically, you have to improve your skill set. It helps you put down on canvas (or whatever) the stuff that is in your head. There was a time when I had a lot of ‘dark’ stuff in my art. I don’t do that so much now. Why is that? I’m not sure other that I think I have gotten over my need to shock people. It’s not that these things don’t still interest me or that I don’t use them, but more that my use of them is more subtle, my mysterious, more secretive.

Is the content or the media the same?
Yes and no. I find that I come back to materials that I have used before. The trick is not to get too dependent on a certain material because it’s familiar and thus becomes a kind of crutch. However, that said, there is a lot to be said for exploring a certain media to exhaustion – think of Monet’s haystacks -something he painted over and over, fully exploring them. I am always interested in learning about new stuff, new materials. But that doesn’t mean that the old stuff should be cast aside. If you are lucky and persistent you can make the new work with the old. And that right there, is a metaphor for the artistic life: finding out how you make you past self work with the current self and the future self.

Diane’s response to the challenge

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Since I am currently at an impasse on a piece I am trying to put together to enter in a show on Sunday, it is probably a good time to focus on the challenge [info]tricia_joy posted…..

Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?

That’s a tricky one…sometimes it is extremely evident to me, if I know the person well enough to make those type of assumptions. Other times the work I see is only skimming the surface of someone I know….maybe touching on one small facet of who they are in my perception. Then there are people who enjoy the ‘label’ of artist whose work just screams shallow and contemptible to me. Again, these are sometimes gut responses to work maybe I am unfamiliar with, or having met the artist I have concluded something negative about them.
I would never make a good art critic as I am way too subjective and would find it extremely difficult to be objective about certain works.
When confronted with a piece that is considered by all to be ‘great’ it will speak to me loudly if indeed it has crossed over that line where it does not need to be judged but purely enjoyed for all it expresses.

….I think that was a rather rambling response to that first question!

Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?

Having originally gone to art school to do illustrations for childrens books, then having gotten sidetracked by life….I have only recently (2004) started delving into the mixed media assemblage work I am currently doing.
Thinking art was only going to be 2 dimensional for me came to an abrupt end when I started doing these strange little self contained worlds basically inside of boxes. I showed a few to a friend with a gallery and they said “Oh, you are a sculptor”…and up until then I never would have used that word in the same sentence with my name or my work!
My first major stumbling block came with having to write an ‘artist statement’…which up until 2004 I had not given much thought to. Putting the title of artist on myself was a major breakthrough and I owe quite a lot to my children for keeping after me to do what makes me happy.

Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?

Having read Joseph Cornell’s biography, I realize how much of his life is contained within each one of his works. I suppose if I had to choose someone whose work I really feel close to, it would be Cornell’s but mine is still somewhat in transition and has yet to reach the state of subtle clarity that I see in his work.

Is the work you did ten years ago different?

Yes…though there were hints of me branching out into something different over the years.

Have you matured artistically or just improved your skills?

I would have to answer both to this two part question. Basically I am a spatial thinker and also a deconstructionist when it comes to creating a piece. A concept will present itself and my first thought is ‘what objects can I involve in this statement?’. Then I have to position these separate parts and then I have to disassemble it so I can work out the logistics of how to firmly attach everything. So, skills are definitely improving with each new problem solved and I am also able to streamline my ‘artistic’ answer to my original idea much better and with a more cohesive presentation to the viewers.

Is the content or the media the same?

Now I use paper as only a part of a finished piece rather than the basis of a finished piece. The skills I have from observing and drawing are still in play but on a different level…almost subliminal.

I don’t know if this is what you were looking for Tricia, but here it is!

Challenge entry

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Original challenge here

Artist Andi Stern responds to the challenge:

I liked Cheryl’s essay style so here are my answers:

Do you find that the statement “You can tell a lot about a person by the art that they make” is true?

Sometimes. I know people like Susan Shie who literally put their life into their work through diary writing, and I also have known people who make art that looks like other people’s work instead of something from themselves. I think if you got to see what the person liked, what they collected, what they loved, you probably could see them in their art. (Nancy Crow’s original book which shows her collections and interests and then the work she was making is what came to mind when I was writing this). I also have a friend who comes across very timid in person (she is one of those people who reminds me of a turtle in the way she carries her head and upper body) and her art is also very timid, both in color and feel.

Does this exercise give you some clarity or ability to see your creations differently?

Yes, um, wow. I took a month this summer to grow my art, and I have been able to create a little more fearlessly since then. It was a self-study/play using the Corita Kent and Jan Steward book “Learning by Heart” and renting art films from Netflix (fellini, and the Charles and Ray Eames film series) and going tv “lite” (with four other people in the house I couldn’t exactly totally pull the plug) and having silence in the studio.

If I was looking at my work as someone not me I probably would think the artist had a lot of patience and worked all of the time to create the sheer body of work which is in my studio (not to mention the many pieces which have sold). I would think she liked detail because of the discrete parts that made up the whole of each piece. I probably would think she was happy and optimistic, based on the colors and the subject matter (the goofy stuffed animals and hats, the appliqued animals etc). I would be intimdated by the many different media she worked in and the quantity of work. (I’m beginning to understand why my art group holds me in such awe; um [blushes])

Do you know someone who’s art clearly reflects who they are?

Susan Shie is pretty clearly in her work.

Is the work you did ten years ago different? have you matured artistically or just improved your skills? Is there a difference?

I have improved both in my artistic vision and in my skill set. In my vision more that I am better able to articulate why I work the way I do, and also the ability to make things without thinking of the audience’s reaction (they’re still there, but it is a lot less than before; I don’t find myself having thoughts along the line of “this will be so much better than ‘x’s ‘ work” and more like “hey, it will be fun to meet the people who really love this as much as I do” ).

Is the content or the media the same?

Not the dreaded “content” word. I never could explain that in art school, but now I think I get it. I choose colors and prints based on how they make me feel, which generally has to do with emotions I associate with my early childhood home etc. I obviously am still working in art quilts and beads, but have expanded with the knitting, teaching myself after my grandmother passed away in late 2000, and have started painting again. I have started working large again, after a very long period working small due to having a small child around. It was frustrating to not see any progress on a bigger piece, so small was the default. Now I am missing a local opportunity because none of my current work fits in the 30″ in any direction guideline LOL I am also doing less goofy animals and people and more landscape and maybe even abstract work.

I was working with the water tower image when I was in gradual school back in 90-91, but my skill set has definitely grown enough for me to feel confident creating them on a larger scale.

A note

Monday, September 14th, 2009

There have been two entries so far to the challenge for introspection, I enjoyed them sooooo much. I have a feeling that by the end of the week there is going to be some wonderful, golden nuggets of wisdom and truth, real heartfelt explorations. I am very very excited about it!!! Being an artist is such a complex and winding road, so full of bumps and bruises, stumbling blocks and joy. Sharing those experiences, thoughts and insights is enriching for all. I thank all of you who are working on it and participating. I know its a lot of work!! and it isn’t easy. and it takes time and that there may be a sense of vulnerability. I understand.

There is no clear cut parameter that I will use to make a decision about a “winner” of the prize package, other than that which is compelling. This will probably be a combination of thoughtful introspection, heart, honesty and clarity.