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...feed your soul with art & creativity!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Art Journal Journey

A friend of mine asked me recently, "WHY do you journal?"  There are multiple reasons:

1.  It is a quick and easy way to do something creative if you don't have time to get more involved in another art project.

2.  It is portable.  I can take it traveling with minimal supplies and still get in my creative time.

3.  It is a way to express myself.

4.  If I don't do SOMETHING creative every day, I get cranky and this is an easy fix. (Friends and family appreciate this, believe me!)

5.  I can work on my art journals in small pieces.  I don't have to do everything on a page at one time and 
can work on developing elements a little bit at a time.  (If I'm making dinner and waiting on something, I can doodle a border or paint a background page for example.)

6.  I can use it to artfully doodle if I am bored or need to relax.  Never Underestimate the Power of the Doodle.

7.  It's a great creative thing to do when watching TV--my significant other likes me to watch TV with him, but I'm one of those people who has a difficult time just sitting there doing nothing.  We both stay happy.

8.  When a page or a journal book is complete, it can be a true work of art and a body of work.

9.  It helps me to develop skills as an artist.  I have developed my own style through art journaling.

10.  I can play and try new mediums and techniques without fear of "messing up" something more important.

11.  It is a pictorial way of me to connect with certain events or times in my life.

12.  It doesn't take forever to read.  And I want to look back through them more often.  I don't have to capture every moment of every day or even every day.  

13.  I don't feel guilty if I miss a day or month or even a year of journaling.

14.  It tends (for me) to focus on the more positive aspects of life.

15.  It is a great activity to do with a women's group--everyone brings their art journal and via chatter and connection we also each work on our own works of art.

16.  It is fun.  If it isn't fun, why do it?

I have journaled since I was very young--probably right after I learned how to write words.  I didn't have much to say then and I can tell you my handwriting was atrocious.  My biggest worries were what to play after school with my friend Teresa or whether or not I'd have to do dishes that night.  Not earth shattering stuff, but, maybe, from an archaeological or sociological stand point, the stuff of life.

There are four banker's boxes filled with my journals in storage.  They have traveled everywhere I have traveled.  My journals have logged more miles than some people ever do in a lifetime.  I'm slowly going through those journals and shredding the pages.  I only keep the pages that have true significance to me.  I've given up my grandiose idea that someday those journals spilling my secrets from when I was 12 at camp El Deseo are going to be important to posterity.  The pages that I keep, I can incorporate into my current art journals.

In the past 10 years, I've transitioned from the strictly written journal to the more expressive art journal.  My first art journal really sort of looked more like what they call a scrap book or a "treasure map."  I wasn't very practiced at collage and I really didn't know how to go about creating the visions I had in my head.

(c) Szing. Journal 2001

(c) SZing. Journal 2001

I played around with using digital pages and then pasted them into my journal book.  I also discovered white gelly roll pens.   I still found that most of my art journal pages tended to be heavily laden with text.

(c) SZing. Art journal page 2001

So I continued to create art journal pages.  
(c) SZing, Art Journal page 2003

I discovered that making the transition from text to art was more challenging than I had expected.  I relied heavily on my digital artwork, which I was able to create via a plethora of photographs I've taken over the years.  Still...the journal pages were still feeling encumbered and heavy to me.

I went for a minimalist approach next.
(c) SZing.  Art Journal page 2010

Like any art endeavor, it takes time to develop a "voice" and a "style."  

With years of practice, I've gotten to a place where I mostly like my art pages and feel they are expressing from my heart zone without requiring a lot of interpretation or exploration.  When I create the pages, I am in that creative zone where time stops and I am just humming along.  

Now I teach classes.  If you are in Florida anywhere near the Space coast or Orlando, you might want to check out the Art Journal Sampler Class or the Inspirational Art Journaling--the Divine Art of Journaling on the First Saturday of each month from 1 to 3 p.m. or 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. respectively at The Funky Trunk Treasures, 222 Woodland Blvd in Deland, FL during 2014.

(c) SZing. Art Journal Page 2013

(c) SZing. Art Journal Page 2013

(c) SZing. Art Journal page 2013
In 2014, there are big things ahead for my art journals...one of my art journals, The Art of Words, will be on an art show tour from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles, CA throughout the year.

(c) SZing, 2013 The Art of Words Art Journal Book
I also am participating in a participatory art journal project where my journals will be included in a digital library and traveling art exhibitions in 2015 through Artify Projects.  I've just registered and am gathering ideas for it.  This project is called InspiritUS.  There is still time to register for this art journal project (through April 30, 2014) if you want your artwork to be included in the digital library and go on tour.  I'm hoping to be selected as one of the artists featured in Art Outside the Box ezine as a result.

My last reason for art journaling?  It just feels great.  Makes me feel like a kid again--in a good way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Ode to Geeks, Nerds and TechnoWizards!

I've been working on updating Bohemian Art Cafe, this blog, and doing all sorts of other social networking "junk."  I call it junk because (in the style of Bones from Star Trek) "Dammit Jim, I'm an Artist, Not a TechnoWizard!"

I so relate!  This is how my head feels when I do "junk."
I had planned to blog yesterday, but alas, technology burps, hiccups and farts just got the better of me and I was, as they say, "down for the count."  My website had turned into a cemetery page of broken links. I couldn't get into my blog.  I was just plain frazzled by the end of the day. I admit, it was operator error. I kept wishing there was an "UNDO" button I could hit and everything would go back to normal.  *sigh*
My initial reaction when it went kattywhumpis
My next impulse.  BTW, THIS doesn't fix it.
Ah. The Grief Stage Sets In.
The last thing I did was send out an SOS in the form of a TechnoWizard forum and post my issue/problem.

Then I went and had dinner, zoned out in front of the telly and tried not to think about the world wide web catastrophe that my Internet life had become. Drama, drama, drama. After a somewhat successful 3 hour respite (okay, I checked to see if I had gotten any replies a few times on the forum in those 3 hours), I felt a little calmer and relaxed.
People who read this and know what it means must be very, very special!
 (besides just knowing it is binary code. DUH.)
I started surfing the Internet to find out what other people had done who had had similar website boo-boos. Lo and behold, imagine my joy to discover I was not the only one who had made a monumental error when inputting some data.

Where's Neo when you need him?
I must now bow down in the I'm Not Worthy Stance to the Geeks, the Nerds and the TechnoWizards who had the answers.  AND who made their instructions so easy to follow that by the time I finished changing the phpMyAdmin database options and values and the fix actually worked (how's that for picking up the TechnoBabble?), I have to say that I felt like there was a teensy-tiny TechnoWizard (TW) at the center of my soul.  If I can just work smart, I'm sorry to say that my TW probably won't get to see much light of day--but it is so comforting to know that I can actually self-correct my programming technobabble issues. And if art doesn't pan out, I always have a fall-back plan.

Praying helps.  Please oh, please, let the answer be here somewhere. 

I Love Geeks, Nerds and TechnoWizards. I'll never deny it again. I thought it was prudent to say "All Hail to the TechnoGods" today as without them, we'd all be in a dark soup of government style bulletin board postings or still sending snail mails.
If I knew any TechnoWizards in person, I'd give them a big hug and
maybe even a smooch today. Or at least a pocket protector.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Art Museum Bucket List

I have lived in a number of locations in the continental US, and visited over 40 states.  I've lived in very small towns and I've lived in staggering large metropolis (Washington DC).  I've visited many cities and many art museums and galleries.

One of the attractive aspects in the positive column for choosing to live in certain locations is the "charm" factor.  Now I'll grant that charm is a fairly nebulous term to throw out there and is highly subjective.  But one of the factors that add to the charm of a place for me is the architecture.
Santa Fe Museum of Art
Not having been there in over 7 years, I'm sure it has changed somewhat, but the Southwestern style adobe architecture of Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example, is one of the charming aspects of that area, not to mention the amazing blue sky and the unbeatable light factor (okay, the sunsets and the green chile are pretty darn fabulous also!).  The delightful art deco buildings of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, along with the mild temperatures, the ever-growing community of artists and musicians make it a cultural mecca of the South. Who woulda thought?
Asheville Art Museum
I find it very challenging to live in cities where the building are simply concrete and glass boxes that are purely functional.  BORING. I know there must be people who like this look, or maybe more to the point, people just aren't paying any attention.  Surely it cannot cost more to construct a building that at least has some aesthetic value to the structure as it does a boring utilitarian box.  Thinking about architecture and how it affects my personal affection for a given locale has made me think about art and the museums where art is housed.  I'm sure there are architects who don't believe that their architecture should be attracting attention in an artistic way.  My question? Why the hell not?

Much to my absolute delight over the past decades, I've seen a continuing trend in art museums to not only house artworks, but to be a beacon of art in and of themselves.

Here is a gallery of some of my favorites.  Some I have been to already, but I hope to eventually get a chance to visit all of them and I encourage you to visit them if you are in the area as well.  I'm sure I've missed some but I will try to remedy that.  And, call me crazy, but see if you don't agree that these museums are works of art that definitely must add to the charm factor of their hometowns.

Akron (Ohio) Museum of Art

Datong Museum of Art China

Museum of Contemporary Art Washington DC

Museum of Art Denver (Colorado)
Dubai Museum of Art

Museum of Art Hong Kong (China)

Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation (France)

Museum of Art, Minneapolis (Minnesota)

Museum of Art, Milwaukee (Wisconsin)

Guggenheim Museum of Art in Bilbao (Spain)

Museum of Art in Brazil

Centre Pompidou Metz in France

Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis (Minnesota...again)
Apartment building in Budapest (Turkey)
Okay, that last one is a cheat.  It's not an art museum.  But, in my opinion, IT SHOULD BE.  What a great way to attract visitors!  And I don't know what is going on in Minneapolis but they seem to really have it going on.  Perhaps they focus on art to forget about the frigid cold winters?  If there is a bucket list for artists, then these museums are definitely on the "get to see them" list!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Gender Specific Art Sales

Opening up a can of worms here.  I know it.  I almost didn't.  And I hope that haters will consider what I have to say and look at things from the perspective of the woman artist. If not...consider that you are part of the problem and not of the solution. I do believe open dialogue is important to our society so...here goes.

I believe that the sale of art is more often than not gender specific to the artist, as opposed to the quality of the artwork.  

Shocking I know.

It has occurred to me over and over as I have done research and explored subject matter for teaching art classes, that there is a surfeit of information available on artwork created by men and about male artists. There is, likewise, an appalling deficiency of information available or artwork by or about female artists.

Georgia O'Keefe's "Ram's Head"
Yes, there are exceptions.  Some of the most notable in recent history are Margaret Bourke-White,  Dorothea Lange,  Anne Geddes, Annie Leibovitz, (see 19 most influential female photographers), Georgia O'Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Mary Cassat, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell,  Tamara de Lempicka, Yayoi Kusama, Alina Szapocznikow, Tracee Emin and loads and loads of artists who are showing in galleries and have shown in galleries since the 1950s on.  Still, unless you are an avid medieval art history buff or an art history scholar, my guess is that you cannot name five female artists (without looking it up) who lived and worked prior to 1850.  Why not?  Well, because the data and information simply just doesn't exist.  Its not that women were not making art.  It's a drive within us that I don't believe just "got turned on" in the 20th Century.  I could only think of one women from pre-1850 off the top of my head and that was Hildegard of Bingen.  

Hildegard of Bingen's "Universal Man" illustration. Early 13th Century.
Yes, I realize that in the earliest years of mankind we didn't have a method of documenting such as we do now.  I also realize that in the earliest years of art history, many artworks were not signed by anyone.  That being said, once we began to document and sign artworks widely, there still was a serious lack of acknowledgment for females in the art world.  Was it just another old boys club?  It would appear to be so--although I am certain, as with every aspect of humanity, there were women involved.  Somehow, they apparently just didn't seem to warrant noting by those doing the noting (men). (Please know, I am NOT a man hater.  I have a fulfilling and loving relationship with a man, I have many male friends and associates and I enjoy the friendship and perspective of men.  I find that men's contributions to the world are valuable as well as women's.)

I wish I could say that this sorry state of women's place in the history of art was history.  Unfortunately, you only have to pick up any art related magazine and make a general count of how many women artists are listed in art gallery show advertisements compared to men, or even how many articles in the magazine have to do with or feature female artists.  It's fairly unusual.

Margaret Bourke-White
I like to be optimistic and believe that we are evolving and embracing diversity in the art world.  But change is slow to come.  Just take a look at where women stand in the "top-selling" art compared to the single artworks that have sold the most at auction.  Please note when you get to the listing of the single artworks that NOT ONE of those listed is female.  Also look at the prices for a SINGLE piece of art by those males as opposed to the top selling female artists.  More that half of the women listed for their current all time sales don't even have sales matching the bottom ranking single artwork of the men.  You might also notice that almost ALL of the women in the "top-selling" ranking are from the late 1800s forward.

As a woman and as an artist, but especially as a woman artist, I am disgusted by this.  For those men who do not believe it is more difficult for women in the world to make it, then they clearly have their heads...in the sand.  It is challenging enough to be an artist, to get your work seen and purchased.  It is significantly more difficult if you are a female artist.  I don't like being or crying "victim" and I believe we have a hand in making our own destiny--but let's face it, we are in a collective world and the current influence and power structures in almost every single aspect of our lives is overwhelmingly run by men--many of whom still unfortunately do not consider women as their equal, though they may give lip service to the contrary--the actions of society are quite telling in this regard.

There is a serious gender bias in artwork display and exhibit, purchasing and marketing.  It is time for female artists to insist upon equal representation and to be included in art collections and discussions around the globe.  I believe, and this is just my personal opinion, that the smartest collectors will be adding artworks by females to their collections because the future of art is in the female perspective.

Perhaps the prehistoric culture had it right.  Perhaps we should all stop signing our artwork, or at least use pseudonyms so that the artwork can be accepted and collected for the artwork, and not because of the name attached to it.  I'm sure this is a pipe dream and I highly encourage everyone to consider the discovery of more female artists.  We have something to say and share with the world that is every bit as vital as that which the world has received from male artists.

To be fair--I'm embarking on an "unofficial" study and will be keeping a list and making photos of art gallery ads and articles over the next 6 months to see what the actual numbers are in publications of women artists to male artists so this will be an interesting study.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Art of Words

I just completed my art journal/sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project and I have to admit--it was difficult to let this very personal work of art go--knowing that I may never actually lay hands on it again as it will become a part of the Brooklyn Art Library's permanent collection of hand crafted artist made artworks.

(c) 2014, SZing, Cover of my sketchbook
I titled my book "The Art of Words" to fit with my chosen theme "Say Words Out Loud." I chose words that are inspirational to me.  Each page features a different word and are artfully embellished.  They are even cinqo-lingual (is that a word?)--in any case, each word is on the page in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Danish--of course, some words, like "Vision" are the same in several of these languages.

I also included quotes relevant to the word or idea, or in some cases, I journaled briefly about that word or idea.
pages from The Art of Words, (c) 2014 SZing
After spending what I am guess-timating to be some 200 hours or more creating this little 32 page art work, you can imagine how letting it go was a real challenge.  It was rewarding as I saw each page develop from a blank sheet, then to a lovely painted background, then receiving their words--Love, Joy, Create, Wealth, Serendipity, Freedom...just to name a few.  Each page took on its own originality and I can honestly say it became a labor of love.

My great hope is that "The Art of Words" will leave its viewers feeling enlivened, refreshed and invigorated. Perhaps even inspired.  I contemplated, for about 48 hours, not sending it back to be completed with the project--but I know that it will serve the world far more where it is headed than it would on a shelf in my office or studio.
pages from The Art of Words, (c) 2014 SZing
I'm excited that my little book will potentially be seen by hundreds or even thousands of people in its lifetime--maybe even millions since it is being digitized on both Bohemian Art Cafe (where you can see all of the pages) as well as eventually with the Sketchbook Project site.  Plus it gets to see the country as it goes on tour from Brooklyn New York and traverses across the continent to end up in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco before zipping back across country to land in its final home in Brooklyn.

I'm also editing a video with the before and after of the process of creating the book (unfortunately, I got so wrapped up with the creation of the book that I forgot to document and video the actual art process). Eventually I'll post the video here and on Bohemian Art Cafe, and maybe, if I'm very daring, YouTube.

pages from The Art of Words, (c) 2014 SZing
I  know my art journal is in good company as there are over 17000+ other participants who made their own art journals. I love the idea of the diversity not only of how each page and book looks, but the diversity of the artists and the lives they lead. It's a very intriguing chain of connection to participate blindly with other artists and creators.

And perhaps, one of these days when I am back in New York City for a visit, I can stop by the art library and say a fond "hello and how are you doing" to my little book.

(c) 2014 SZing, Bohemian Art Cafe

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Artsy is Missing Out

Just ran across an article in Forbes Magazine that has me thinking, steaming and wanting to reach out to Carter Cleveland at Artsy to say, "Hey dude, you're missing out!"

Beautiful Monster, Mixed Media. (c) SZing 2011

Artsy does not accept portfolios or have any interest (at least at this point) in the "individual artist."  While I admit that Artsy has some pretty nice features and is making headway in it's depiction of artwork, I have to say that they are FAR AWAY from their self-proclamation of being "the Amazon" of the art world.  Since they have no current interest in cataloguing or posting the artwork of artists that are not currently represented by selling art galleries they are missing out on an ENORMOUS collection of artworks not only throughout the USA but across the globe.

If all they show is the work that is always shown, if all they know are the artists that are already known, then they are missing out.  The vast majority of active artists are not represented by selling art galleries.  That does not mean that they are not artists.  Many artists are selling in a wider variety of venues and many show their artwork in museum type galleries.  To confine the "art world" to the "art gallery artist" certainly does not impress me.  Nor does it make Artsy's "artistic genome" project remotely near a success since many of the grass root genes are missing in action.

Standing Against the Crowd, Mixed Media (c) SZing 2011
The site has a fairly limited number of artworks by different artists.  And no way to filter by the artists except by using the "search" mode.  The top way it offers a search is by categorizing the price of the artwork. Hmmm.  Me thinks they are soooo missing out on the real picture.  Uh, Mr. Cleveland, let me just say the cost of a piece of art does not mean it is art nor even good art.  And the cost of the art doesn't preclude a piece from being art.  I have seen thousands of examples of artworks that cost absolutely nothing and the artists do them just because they desire that form of self expression.  Many artists give away their artworks to others (check out the Abandoned Art Group on Face Book for example! or the number of artist trading card sites that exist).  The commercial value of a piece does not make an artwork an artwork.  Each piece of art has its own intrinsic value.

I May Be Old, But I'm Still Useful, Found Objects Sculpture
(c) SZing, 2011 (Please not the NFS on the sign.  This was not for sale!!! I
made it for myself and hung it at my own home because I loved it.)

If Artsy.net really wanted to make an art genome or become the Amazon of art, they would open their doors to catalogue and display any and all art offered.

I find it disturbing that this art site and their ilk believe that they have captured the "essence" of the art world while skipping over the true essence of the art world.  The gems that they are missing are the (gack--I'm sooo tired of him) Damien Hirst's, the Pablo Picasso's,  Frieda Kahlo's, and even the Banksy's of tomorrow. But because so many artists are not "represented by a gallery" they are overlooked.  The "underground" (aka, the unrepresented artists) art world is certainly exploding and I have to hope that there are art galleries and collectors who are seeking the emerging or unsung artists to round out their known artist collection.

There is so much work out there that is not represented, but the truth is that it is representative of what is truly shaping the art world.  I find it ironic that Banksy and other artists who are currently considered tops in the world began as outsider artists and certainly were pooh-poohed by the "art world."  By the "art world" what I mean is the snooty, small minded art snobs who disregard the creative works of hundreds of thousands is not millions of artists world wide...all because their work isn't selling in the $$$ range. Did they forget that isn't what art is about? Perhaps they need to expand their vision and their definition of art and what is a successful artist?

Pieces Parts, Mixed Media Sculpture (c) SZing 2011

An art genome missing 3/4th of its genome is hardly worth the bother.  And an Art Amazon only for the very wealthy doesn't really capture the art for the masses.