My final (take home) assignment for printmaking was to make an impression on the world. Hmm… That’s not vague at all. But really, I understood the assignment: don’t be literal about it, and honestly, do what you want- everything we do is leaving an impression on our surroundings, people, our world. So the question became, what medium or in what way did I want to relay my work and idea? I wanted to continue with what I’d been doing in studio- layering things, using water color, keeping true to my aesthetic: a soft pallet and organic feel to the work. That is me. Now what about the impression I’ve made on the world? This, to me, could best be relayed through the words of others. I’m just me, it’s what I do every day. But I don’t know what I’m really projecting onto the world, so I asked. Via Facebook, I sent out a mass message (I did select through my friends, I will admit, there were some I thought it best not to include in the experiment- and I was also compelled to later weed through my “friends”, anyhow-) I did want a variety of opinions, so I included a large variety of people. Again, I admit, it was kind of scary putting out there, “what kind of impression have I left with you?” and simply wait for the responses to come in. I knew not everyone would, I’ll be the first to say I hate large Facebook group messages and I always ignore them, but it was actually a little hurtful to see “so and so left the conversation”; however, the responses I did receive, definitely made it worth the while. I had no idea what to expect, and who to expect anything from. I ended up with a little over a dozen responses out of about 90 in the “group conversation”. Most of which made me cry- I’m such a sap- but I had no idea of the genuine emotion I’d get with the feedback, or that I’d even evoked such by knowing these individuals. From their emails, I copied and pasted the replies in a number of ways, and collaged them together creating one piece made cohesive through watercolor. I feel very good about the work, and it was really rather therapeutic in some ways- by letting go of control, having people tell me quite honestly how they feel from knowing me, and then creating something from their words. It was an experiment, and a risk, and one that I’m glad I took.
These last two weeks have felt like a different world- another life. The end of my studio time is nearing, and I’m already looking back in aw. It has been more than a learning experience, yes, I have learned new techniques, but I have never in my life been reminded so well as to why I’m an artist. My printmaking professor told us today that he had an epiphany about his work just over a year and a half ago (in a field that he’s been creating with for over twenty-five), when he realized all he needed to answer were two questions: what do I want from my art and how do I get there? He has had the resources, there is no doubt and he freely admits that, but he recognizes he wasn’t being honest with himself as to what he hopes that his art achieves, and more importantly, he wasn’t using his resources to get him there- other artists! Don’t be afraid to ask someone about their methods and techniques if it’s something you admire. Don’t be afraid. That’s an important lesson I believe I’ve learned in my time spent here. Last week, as I mentioned, I was in a sketchbook class that truly pushed me for the first time in years. It was exhilarating. A few of the mottos in the class were, “get out of your own way”, “draw more, think less”, and “nothing is precious”. This last one was really key for me. I may be a bit of a perfectionist… and I probably spend a bit more time on things than I should… My sketchbook professor was, I’m pretty certain, constantly shaking his head at me (or at least at my back- but I mean that with love). He just wanted to push me, and if that meant subtly poking fun at my attention to detail, then so be it- it needed to be done! And it worked (it’s true Patrick, probably more than you know). So, after a week of pulling and prodding at my inner artist who can just let go and create, I am now in a week of intense printmaking. I almost burst into tears this evening because my press was running too slow. All I could do was repeat to myself, “there’s no crying in printmaking, there’s no crying in printmaking…” and I pushed through. The results, I can’t help but boast, were amazing. I avoided printmaking the entirety of my underclass study. It was, in my eyes, too rough, harsh with color, and in general, abstract, to please me as a medium that would accurately portray my art. My work is every bit the opposite of those qualities- I like a soft pallet, organic shapes, and generally there is even the slightest bit of realism in what I do. Printmaking also seemed like it would take all of the control away from me. When I approach a work, I generally have a distinct view in mind, and I was not ok with giving that up for the potentiality of unknown-ness through printmaking. Well, I can assure you, that way of thinking has quickly flown out the door. As Patrick so implemented in me the first week, you have to get out of your own way, and you can not let something be so precious that you stop it from being the unique, beautiful, one of a kind work that it’s meant to be. What has blown my mind is that somehow, in this crazy printmaking process- creating a plate that I didn’t even understand how it was going to relate once “inked” and “pressed”- my prints turned out to be me. I stuck to my aesthetic- I did subtlety in my work, I did organic and sometimes detailed shapes, and I used color like I didn’t think I was “suppose to”. My plates weren’t like anyone else’s in class, and honestly, I was scared. The pay off? I can’t even express how much of “me” came through- so much so that I wasn’t even realizing it, but my classmates were pointing it out to me! It was an incredibly satisfying experience, motivation, and a real life lesson, sometimes we just have to get out of our own way.
Hello world. I apologize for the long absence, as soon as my Spring semester ended, my first Summer course began, as did the butt- kicking. On top of the usual full work and school schedule, I’ve had an unexpected move sprung on me. To say things are a little crazy is an understatement, however, I am finding much needed peace and focus currently back in the art studio. For this (the second portion of my Summer courses) I’m required to be on campus for two weeks of intense studio work- it is amazing, and long over due. I haven’t really been in the studio for over five years now, and I know this is what I need to be doing. This first week I’m in sketch-booking, and it has been a great re-intro to looking at the world as an artist and practicing that fact. Truly, wonderful.
On another, yet still art related note, I have been holding on to share this project with y’all- One Million Bones. I was blown away with the profound ability in which this group, The Art of Revolution, executed a project that addressed humanitarianism with so much love and compassion. I shed tears with the stories from mothers, fathers, even the children. The project exists to bring awareness to crimes against humanity, around the world. I felt bad and upset with myself for my own ignorance on many of the situations from countries included in the project. Everyone should hear the stories of the countries and people from Burma to Sudan, because we are all human. It is as simple as that, and no one deserves to be treated as though they are anything but another human being.
The lesson for this week in my History of Art Education course was about holidays’ place in the art class, from where it started to where it is, and if indeed it is still needed today. I was blown away at hearing the position of people saying there is no need to “celebrate” holidays in the art classroom. While I understand it can be tricky to not just be the decorators for your school around every holiday seeing that the early roots of holiday art in the art class was almost purely for beautification, I think it’s important for us to use that time as a means to explore culture. I also understand the fear of excluding some groups or students around particular holidays, but we shouldn’t feel that we are having to celebrate a particular holiday, or worry about creating politically correct lessons around Christian based holidays. Art educators in this day and age should feel free to explore a plethora of holidays and use it as a tool for teaching our youth about cultural practices, beliefs, and even how many of them have deep roots in art history.
On another note, I hope everyone enjoys this holiday, Memorial Day, that is upon us. Whether you have family that has served our military or not, I hope that you use this holiday to be thankful for your loved ones and the freedom of your country, America. This weekend was always used as a time to spend with family for me growing up, and going to visit the graves of family deceased and taking them flowers. While I am now 400 miles away from one very important grave, this weekend is always sentimental to me, and though I can’t place a flower on my dad’s gravestone this weekend, I will be doing so in spirit.
I find myself at a very long week’s end. My fourth course (each is divided into eight week sessions, so this is the end of a second semester) in grad school just finished. The course, Globalization, Art and Education, brought up a lot of topics of interest to me, though it also kept me so busy I haven’t had much time to process everything. I know it led me to research that I’m calling “Art and Artists That Exemplify the South” (check out here: http://www.scoop.it/t/made-southern-art), and that’s something I’d like to explore further. Will keep y’all posted. As for tonight, I’m taking a deep breath, enjoying a glass of wine, and starting a mini-marathon of Mad Men… all before I have to go to work tomorrow morning, and begin a new course for the first summer session. Yay!
I spent this past weekend at a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Watkinsville, Georgia. It was about an hour and half drive from our home in north Atlanta, and on a perfectly sunny Saturday, I could not have asked for a better drive to the country. Well, about as country as it gets around Atlanta that is. Our windows were down, I could smell air that’s a fresh you don’t get in the city, and we actually passed fields with cattle. I hadn’t realized until that point how much I missed the country. Not that the past four and a half years in the city (and I’m just talking Atlanta, I’m aware it’s about the least urban “big” city in America) has citified me, but somewhere along the way I missed when a drive out in the country became foreign to me. However, our drive to Watkinsville was actually a good reminder of the research I’d been doing for class: artists or art exemplifying the South. Check out the ten artists I found here. As for the project that’s to come of this, it’s still a work in progress, but I am feeling inspiration that was much needed!
My lesson for this week has me researching ten artists inspired by a topic that I’d like to investigate further. As I’ve sat for, oh, four-ish hours just this evening (and it’s only day three of this lesson), I truly am inspired. But to do what? I am completely enveloped by this online world that feeds me endless knowledge. Yes, it is a wonderful tool, but I’m also not jumping off the couch to make art (that’ll come with next week’s lesson), I just keep clicking. Where is the time for both? Or, more importantly, where is the balance? Hopefully, that’s something that I’ll learn, and in the mean time, if anyone has any suggestions, I’d be happy to hear. On the note of my research however, I’ve found some artists that I really love! I am investigating art influenced by your environment, and particularly that of the South. This guy has been my absolute favorite so far: Hollis Bennett. His compositions are great, some of his little details (things I didn’t even notice until the second time I went through his portfolio) really make his photographs, and his subjects, it’s like I know them. Seriously, I think I’ve met over half of them. It’s awesome art that you should check out.