Thursday, December 27, 2007

BIC Art Movement?

Digression – note to self: must learn more about web graphics so I can properly resize my HUMONGOUS new blog banner!

A friend of mine recently forwarded me the truly inspired reviews for the BIC crystal pen on the site. I believe it’s gaining some cult status. Some of the reviews (search the early ones) are pretty hilarious. It also inspired me to get down to some art making. Since I’m nursing a cold and have no interest in sitting in my chilly studio washing brushes, I’d thought I’d do some ‘BIC art’, a little doodle entitled “Uninspired Cook” (now I have fulfilled my "suburban mom" blog theme obligations). When the ink runs out of your pens, save them to make this chandelier. Or make high-brow conceptual ‘BIC’ art like Herbert Hinteregger or Jan Fabre who as a performance piece locked himself in a room for 72 hours and used a BIC to 'blue' the walls, floors and ceiling and white cubes in the room. If you can’t get enough of BIC art there are a lot of drawings posted on the Ball Point Pen Group, with info on the qualities of making art with different brands of pens. Some want to call it a movement, but I’m a traditionalist and feel some of the best BIC art can be found on vinyl binders by bored Grade 10 students.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How's My Umbrella Doing? Week 2

Week 2 - Umbrella had it’s first snow! I don’t know what umbrella makes of it all. I hope not frightened. Perhaps all the joyful voices of children playing outdoors will reassure umbrella there is nothing to fear.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Getting Too Attached

I’ve fallen in love with bits of a portrait I’m painting. Not all of it, just parts – some strands of hair, a little rendering in the cheek. This is a bad thing. Every time I get ready to work on it, I become paralyzed. I worry about ruining those parts I love, they’ve become… PRECIOUS. I know I’ll work through this feeling and finish the painting. It does however, remind me of a great lesson learned years ago by my favorite art instructor.

During my last year in university, I took a senior painting class taught by a tough, but brilliant artist. I learned more from his class than any other. It was 6 hours of painting, 7 if you chose to work through lunch, which many of us did. In one class, we were painting a still life in oils. Next to me was a quiet and studious girl I didn’t know very well. 15 minutes before the class ended, she put down her brushes and admired her finished painting. The instructor came by, asked why she wasn’t painting, she said she was done. He picked up a rag, wiped off all those hours of her ‘precious’ work and politely said, “No you’re not”. The shock and devastation of her face was immediate. The shock and I admit, relief (glad I wasn’t done before her), was apparent on mine too. It seems like a cruel gesture, and I’d agree if it was elementary or high school, but he made a valuable point. The process of learning and doing are what count. The finished OBJECT of the painting is irrelevant, at least while you’re a student. It does feel wonderful to sit back and admire all your hard work after you’ve finished a piece, but don’t you feel freer creating when you just don’t care what the end result will be? This applies to everyone. I notice my kids doodling away just because they ‘feel’ like it and I love the vibrancy and creativity they express. When I ask them to make a card to send to Grandpa, I’m always surprised how less creative and ‘safe’ their drawings become. And I know it’s because they’re focusing on their artwork as an object - a card.

Many words later and I think I’ve talked my way out of ‘preciousness’, back to the easel…and my very cluttered studio.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How's My Umbrella Doing? Week 1

You may think this is a poor excuse for a post, but it is Monday afterall...

My umbrella blew away from my front door about a month ago. Last week I noticed it in my neighbor’s backyard. It seems neither my neighbor nor myself have any interest in picking it up so I thought I’d take pictures of it and keep you posted.

Week 1 – umbrella seems to be enjoying it’s new spot, there’s a fairly good view of both back and front yard from its position. Also, this is the 1st day of sun we’ve had in some time. All is well.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Crafty White Trash Clown

Mom commitments. They’re big this time of year. I’ve learned to surrender myself to them and accept I won’t get much else done. For instance, talking to one of my daughters teachers recently, I mentioned I’m an arty type, in which she brightened and asked me if I could come up with a Christmas craft for the class. My brain said, “no, I’m far too busy right now to do to that” as my mouth said, “yes, I’d love too!” Huh…funny how that happens. But my daughter adores her and I’m one of those sad, nosey moms who likes to see how my kids are getting along in class. Saying yes gives me a legitimate excuse to be there as opposed to lingering at the school in a creepy, lonely SAHM way.

I arrived at the class after recovering from a stomach bug, dressed in black and lime green sweatpants and a purple pullover (having been too sick to have done any laundry the day before). I justified my clothes by convincing myself I was sort of dressed like a child’s entertainer, perhaps, a “crafty clown”? as opposed to the disheveled, white trashy looking mom I really appeared. The crafts turned out to be fun chaos. Pounds of glitter were deposited all over the classroom – “sprinkle” and “pour” are interchangeable terms for 6 year olds. Overall, I am glad I said yes when I meant to say no. And really, it is OK if the only art that gets accomplished in my life right now is made mostly with Elmer’s glue and plastic glitter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

No Love for the 'burbs

I have a love/hate relationship with suburbia. Okay no love, more like hate/reluctant appreciation now that I have kids. It is, after all, a nice place for kids to grow up (umm.. if any knows of a time machine I can use to go back and alter the exact moment I became my mother, please let me know). There has always been a nagging sensation since I was a kid (growing up in the ‘burbs in a nice 1950’s split level) that there was something ‘off’ about living in the suburbs. I know I’m sounding like a whiner when suburbia has the history of being the “American Dream” for many. Having lived in a dark, mice infested apartment in a big city, I also dreamed of a time when we could have our own little plot of yard and share walls with no one. So why, now that I’m here (again), do I feel the need for escape?

After watching the documentary, “The End of Suburbia” it rained down epiphanies. Suburbia is an artificial, finite idea. Suburbia exists because of abundant cheap oil. We drive EVERYWHERE here. The documentary convincingly projects that without affordable oil, suburbia will become a ghetto. And I’m stuck here. I don’t want to go back to my mice infested apartment, and I don’t have the cash or muscles to buy a farm and ‘work’ the land. So what’s a middle aged suburban mom supposed to do? It all comes down to one buzz word -CONSERVE. I am guilty of the biggest personal environmental crime – driving aimlessly around. It is part of my need for escape. It’s important for me psychologically to be able to drive 20 minutes north of my house and end up in a place when I can theoretically be mauled by a cougar. Then I know I’ve escaped and I do it often. But if I want to protect my cougar friends, I need to park the car more often and find a way to enjoy my immediate surroundings. Ugh, tough indeed. My world just got smaller, I’ll see how it goes…

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Santa Horror

I like to take my camera with me everywhere I go. I'm obsessed with taking pictures, but too lazy to learn how to take them well. For every 500 pictures, I may end up with 10 really good shots. But I know my motivation isn't good art, it's just an obsession with recording my life. This Santa pic sums up my whole day. A day running around in the big box stores, feeling a bit guilty wasting money on the garish Christmas decorations I promised my kids and then I spotted "HIM". "HE" was there - the life size dancing, singing Santa that's been frightening toddlers in malls and big chain stores for about 5 years now. After taking this picture and battling my way through rows of glitter and plastic, I decided to go for a walk and just look at things I couldn't own or fill my house with: trees, dirt, a crow. I took another 50 pictures, all bad of course, but I did feel cleansed of everything that big, fake SC represents.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Art out of Garbage

The older I get the more the kid in me comes out. I've been finding my artwork shifting from purely painting to mixed media. Paint is not enough anymore, I want to play with different materials, really get messy and enjoy the sensory experience of using my hands in different ways to create art. One of the most enjoyable art pieces I did recently was for an online show, entitled "Repurposed". All entries were to be made from waste or recycled materials. My own criteria was to use as much non-recyclable material as possible and everything had to come directly from my life. Scavenging my house and neighbourhood for junk and figuring out how to create something cohesive out of garbage was so much fun, it did feel like being a kid again. It brought back those memories when all you had was a toilet paper roll, a milk cartoon, some tape and crayons and you tried to build yourself a plane or a house. I've decided to make a commitment to keep that sense of play alive when I'm creating something and not get bogged down. That joy is really what creating is all about.

You can view a larger description of the piece and the link to the "Repurposed" show here:

Homemade ornaments

A small indicator this time of year, that tells me I'm doing my job as a parent is how ugly the Christmas tree is getting. Every year, our family makes more and more handmade decorations for the tree. In a few short years I'll be the proud mother of the ugliest tree around and to that I say, Yah!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Matter of Scale

I stumbled upon Musuemr recently. If you’re not aware of it, it lets you upload photos and merges them into images from art museums. Other than the obvious time waster of seeing what fun it would be to see your art look “important”, I found another useful purpose for it. It can help with composition. Before embarking on a large scale painting, upload a thumbnail sketch into museumr and you can easily see the problem spots in your composition. Here’s an example from a sketch of mine. Seeing it in this scale, I’m more aware the right side and foreground need work.

And just for fun, here’s a digitally colored linocut print which I’ll be putting in my Etsy store soon, less than 8”x10” in reality, but in museumr?… super freaky!