Monday, April 30, 2012

art, music the universal language, like mumbling!

I've listened to jazz since my teens, all the intellectual reviews about style, and texture, tone, artistry. Deep textural descriptions as if they are trying to give us the play by play from the artist's head. Then I watched brilliant ones like John Coltrane and Sun Ra and visual artist, in interviews, they are as bad as basketball players. Stumbling for words, trying to sound like normal communicating human beings. I guess if you spend so much time and energy in one form of communication you loose something in the others. I'm not knocking their brilliance or intelligence, I'm saying they struggle to put it all into words so you can comprehend what they see. Art and Jazz as universal expressions are still not like scribbling and humming. Now if you look a lot and listen a lot you can and do appreciate more than those who don't. If you play an instrument or draw, you know more. If you read music and play or learned to draw in school, you know even more. OK, I have to admit that visual artist are used to spieling to art on lookers.

My problem is and has always been getting away from the people who are expert in the daily activity language to get into the space where I can work in the art or the music. There are a lot of folk who don't see the worth in terms of time spent or the monetary rewards that are usually not immediately realized. This is a hard nut to crack, I understand why some artist use outrageous behavior to distance themselves from regular people, just to be isolated enough.

You need a space that is can-do-sive. That's where you "can do" what ever your "sive" is. I have a space at home only I can't play my disturbing music. Yeah, African music and jazz are an acquired taste but headphones have me listening for calls outside the phones or up from down stairs. TV is another neural-lier. I look at YouTube to find appropriate content without commercials and fewer Euro faces. No offense but I need the rest of a sea of positive Afri faces once in a while. Seems the broadcast of genuine African flavored broadcast media is non-existent. And African-American entertainment is very Euro flavored in the US, go figure. Not a problem if I weren't looking for my historic origins.

Anyway art and music are universal in the sense that everybody does them. It is rude to be overly particular in this world of diversity but to insist on universal embrace is criminal. Eventually all this nodding to other cultures and becoming expert in playing each other's music makes the original cultures go away. The new thing that takes its place might be a flattering imitation but the reason, motives and supporting lives that generated the original culture that produced the original music in the first place is disconnected. This is troublesome, as the wicked witch in the OZ would say, "I'm blending, I'm blending, what a world!" It might seem good, it's probably bad and it's definitely ugly. This is why artist and musicians strike out to do something crazy, cutting edge, socially uncomfortable, aesthetically disturbing. I guess I leave it at that and let you deal with it as you choose. Shock becomes fad becomes trend becomes fashion becomes the norm. Me, my culture is on the  endangered list.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Art!, what you talk'n bout Willis?

I remember wanting to draw so bad my parents bought me art stuff and when I got them not knowing what to draw. I got the stuff, now I got to draw. You sit on it figuring it out. In the mean time parents and sibling are asking at every chance, "draw anything yet?" It's even worse if they put you in art class to find out. Self discovery at your own pace goes out the window, enter working it out under a deadline. You know artist can make good money, mone.... I'm just not that interested in art any more.

The cause and reason and motivation for art is a subjective thing. Talent springs from the mind-hand-eye coordination, plus an OOH man!, I just gotta make a mark, copy that, make note of that idea, work this out in a sketch. As the talent flows, the skill grows. The most stupid thing a spoiled actor can say is "what's my motivation here?" Read the script and get into the story you jerk. It is not about you until you become and are the character in the story. You are telling the story, be the story.

What about me the visual artist? What story do I tell, I am just drawing a tea cup on a saucer? Ahh! Media tells us your exploration, your preference, your choice. The lines, the form tells your skill to shape the image. The composition tells the emotional conveyance, the ambiance, the setting. Is it a casual cup at a cafe, breakfast at the kitchen table, a hurried spot in the lunchroom at break? Is it a soothing sip or a quick caffeine rush? Is it steaming hot or tepid or empty before the pour, empty after. Was it a good cup or chipped, new or well used. Did you leave behind oiled finger prints or lipstick on the rim or half empty or half full? A spooned teabag, a fingered teabag on the side, a wedge of lemon, torn sweetener pouches and the damn fly that lightens on the rim when your attention is elsewhere. Was it a good cup, I mean satisfying, a complement to good conversation, contemplation or a nerve damage repair and rescue mission cup? A cup of gossip or a no I don't drink coffee  cup? Was it Pekoe Cut Black or Ceylon Mystic Mint or Purple Lavender Rush or tea just tea? LOL, I drink coffee, what do I know?

"What you talk'n bout Willis?" After you put all that effort, energy and emotion into that tea cup drawing, someone walks up and says "what's that?" That's the rub, they don't realize the extent and endurance of your labors, the show is over and they are looking at the press release. You've done the math, they are looking at the aftermath. You've saw the tea cup, drew the tea cup and if the picture doesn't evoke the tea cup in your viewers, maybe they drink coffee and need to have some education. This is why gallery showings are cool, you get to spin your yarn about a great cup of tea. My point is some can and will interpret a drawing, others must be told what it means. The best complement is "thanks for sharing your cup of tea" along with "hey, can I buy that cup of tea?"

Sunday, April 08, 2012

multimedia happens a lot lately

How multimedia is multimedia and what's that got to do with me? Don't knock it till you've rocked it! So to be able to brain-wash myself, that is view and review my own  sketches, I scanned them all onto my hard drive. Then I can flick open a picture viewer and look away. I have several viewers the best one is Google's Picasa. Picasa is cool, has many features including a slide show. Oh what good is that? Sometimes while reviewing I see new ideas or how to use an old idea in a new context. Don't study them closely, sort of glance at them in passing, the brain is funny in how it operates, periphery vision (out the corner of the eye) really gets in the brain.

I also have a program that will put your slide show onto a video CD or DVD. You can construct quite a production with transitions styles and a sound track (narration anyone?) This good for a video portfolio or a gallery video art display.

Multimedia is also when I combine my inkjet printing with some hand painted or drawn stuff. Now when you do off computer work you can photograph it too and enhance it on your computer. This will also entice you to use a real pen/pencil or pick up a brush once in a while. By criss-crossing medias new surprises are sure to be noticed.

Play is the thing, serious play because each media has its quirks and character. I can do an ink smear digitally but also on say a paper plate or canvas by hand, they each have their character. As for quirks, pen ink may make a bold line then as it soaks into the surface it might bleed. So here a surface treatment is in order, like a sealant or acrylic gesso. This seals the surface and allows the ink to dry on the surface. In my play I discovered that acrylic paint on the paper plate surface does not bleed like ink does. I can thin the paint with water or gesso to get it to move the way I want.

I do the same play with my printer because photo paper, matte or glossy handles print differently. I also can load various kinds of paper or card stock into the printer. Since the printer ink remains constant, the kind of paper I use really effects the outcome. There is usually a combination that strikes your fancy. To tell you a secret, a lot of simple repetitive operations goes a long way. But, I can't say what works for you.

The main thing is the thought process to get the job done. Don't forget some folks are more inspirational than mechanical. There is a part of art that can't be taught. Even if the technique is good, if the heart or soul is not infused into the effort, it's just a well done mechanical effort. This is why many well trained artist have to get away, lose the training, bury the training, forget the training, exhaust the training, to get back to the core motivations of their artistic energies. Like when you first started, only now you got all this muscle memory and materials knowledge and an exercised vision at your disposal. BUT you all know how it is, you work at it until it flows and it gets better in time. Every stroke is a milestone. And if I'm talking a load of crap, it's because you've discovered a different insight, bravo, work wid it.