Yes, I see contemporary art every day. An most of it is read and I look up at it. They are signs. Some of them are quite creative.
I used to work at a friend’s studio years ago and he had a painting hanging on a wall downstairs that I marveled at every time I saw it. It was a beautifully rendered acrylic canvas of a sign on a building. I don’t remember the name on the sign because that’s not what I liked about it. It was the letter forms and how well the artist painted them in a bright afternoon day lighting with a brilliant blue sky in the background and a brick wall for the building.
I was taught how to set type back in New York City in the 60′s by some real pros and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It taught me to enjoy how spacing in word and letter arrangement is everything. It’s a subject that deserves it’s own blog and at least a longer post than this and I will get to it at some point as I am the keeper of some very valuable technology that is what could be considered a lost art in itself.
Some of the best signage around is from the fifties diners and before that the 40′s and art deco type styles used in posters for airlines and ship cruises.
Here are a few examples of signs I photographed in Aruba and Curacaio.
Some days you can walk out your door and if you’re really aware of what’s happening around you, well there’s always a way to define it as a form of art.
Take for example yesterday. My wife and I decide to go to the beach. It was very hot and we knew the beach would be considerably cooler than where we live so backed up the car and the last minute I decided to take along the camera.
As we were driving through the canyon toward the West side of Los Angeles we looked over our shoulder and noticed a very large plume of smoke coming from the fire in the LaCanada area which is about 15 miles from where we were driving.
I remembered a lookout spot on Muholland Drive and thought we should take a short detour and try to get a photo of the fire.
This is what I saw – I meant to just photograph the fire but when I saw the sign it screamed visually to me to include it into the picture. It is a visual statement that to me get’s the point across about how dry it is out here in Los Angeles.
But it also demonstrates how you can create a little art by just being aware of your surroundings and be willing to think with aesthetics. It’s a good exercise and it’s fun.
The next photo was taken from the beach to show that even from that distance the fire was very visible and still had a threatening quality to it. People couldn’t ignore it’s presence.
Years ago I would walk around everyday in New York City with my camera for just the same reason. I shot primarily in black and white as to me the city always had that quality and looked best as Black and White because the brought out the grittiness of that environment including the people.
It’s a habit I’m trying to get back into -drawing art from the environment.
What kind of art do you create? What’s your technique? Are you an abstract expressionist or a realistic painter?
These are the kinds of questions I’m asked when someone finds out that I’m an artist. I must admit that having a technique or a niche of painting style has always been a problem to me. I’ve studied other artists styles and found most successful ones gravitate towards a singular technique and style of painting and become known for it.
I suppose that’s how people recognize the artist. “Oh, that’s a Warhol”, or “looks like a Rembrandt”. The evolution of a fine artist seems to have this point of having a style and technique as well as subject matter and sticking with it for a long time until a body of work has been produced in such a quantity and has been distributed throughout the world to such a degree that the general consensus is a brand has been create for that artist.
I’ve also heard such people talk about a particular artist’s “dark period” or their “Green period”.
What really interests me the most is when a gallery or editor asks the artist to write something about their art which explains their own “message”. What if the message is “I don’t have a message other than I enjoy doing it and I hope you enjoy looking at it.” I know that flies right in the face of the idea that art must has a message and a communication and a quality of communication, but honestly sometimes that’s why I paint.
But, I do tend to enjoy creating art that has a quality of communication be it light and fun or something that has an ancient quality to it.
Years ago I wanted to develop a style with a specific technique and I always enjoyed textures and how light changes their qualities so that was the direction I took. At first I didn’t have a subject to paint and then I just went abstract and used materials that bordered on collage at times. The technique had a very ancient look to me and so I called it “Ancient”. It’s a combination of texture paste with sand thrown in and then paint rubbed into it and before it has too much time to dry I wipe off most of it so the texture has a stained look. This really makes the palette knife grooves and sand really pop out with color embedded throughout it.
Sometimes I embed a photograph in a painting and sometimes I also use colored pencil along with textured acrylic paint that has metals in it which when rubbed leaves a glistening effect. It’s cool.
So, there’s a style and technique, but what’s the message? Not sure, but it seems to communicate to some people who have purchased these paintings from me. I’ve had comments like “It makes me feel good for some reason” and “I just love the texture” or ” don’t know why I like it, but I really like it.”
I think some artists including myself strive for a technique and style for a recognition and also because that’s part of the game. There’s nothing wrong with it as long as it doesn’t keep you from creating art. Then I think it can become an excuse why you’re not being an artist, and that’s really NOT being an artist at all.
Here’s a piece using the “ancient” technique done in 1993. Acrylic on archival paper. 18″ x 24″
This is the $65,000 question. When is graphic design or graphic art fine art or is it ever? I took a course a few years ago and fine art was more or less defined as art that the viewer could contribute to. What does that mean? Well, I took that to mean that the person could look at the artwork and find his own communication he or she was getting from it or what they thought it all meant without it being spelled out as it is in an illustration or graphic design.
It’s an interesting thing to me because as I’ve worked primarily as a graphic designer almost my whole life I’ve really had a problem with the idea that there is a line that separates the commercial and the fine in artwork.
Example number one; Andy Warhol was an editorial illustrator and art director first and became known as a fine artists after he illustrated (painted) 57 paintings of the Heinze 57 varieties of soups in their cans. Voila!! Illustrations that were heralded as fine art and even given a new category; Pop Art!
Then there’s the mondern day version of warhol in Murakami. His art is being used on hand bags for Louis Vuitton. This artist has a team of artists working on his paintings as he lays them out in pencil and writes inthe colors as PMS color numbers for his assistants to use. Now that’s pretty commercial to me personally but that may just be art in our time today as it is mass produced.
I’ve also seen many advertisements that seem like fine art to me as they are very simple and want the customer to fill in the message. Nike does that all the time. Guess Jeans. How about some of those beautiful photos used in makeup ads.
I think there is a line between the two forms of art, but sometimes it can be razor thin and sometimes a block wide. That’s the real beauty of art…it’s creative that way.
Case in point; A painting I did last year using commercial art techniques!
A few years ago I was walking in Venus California and there is a great building that looks like a pair of binoculars. I had my daughter and her boyfriend with me and I had the idea for a photograph.
I asked joe, my daughter’s boyfriend to go and run flat out past the front of that building and I would shoot the moment he is lined up with the front of it. I worked pretty well. Here’s a digital piece of art I made from it. It will be made into a painting soon.
I think there’s always a chance to create at anytime, anywhere. You just have to be willing to keep your eyes open for something.
Years ago I used to live in New York City. I always carried around a camera as I felt the city was so interesting and the people were great to take pictures of in really bizarre backgrounds or with the backdrop of the city streets.
Making art out of the moment in conversation is really an art. Some people are really great at that too.
After just my first day of researching different fine artists who paint abstract with texture I’ve found at least 4 websites that feature artists that are pumping out a lot of artwork.
Osnat Tzadok is an artist that really has her online presence going in a big way. She sells her art at an average price of $720 per original canvas and will recreate a similar painting if you want one that she has already sold. She sells on eBay and claims to have been doing so for years and does quite well.
She even has Google headers of her paintings you can use as well as press releases and all kinds of promotion going. She seems to have figured it out as a business. http://www.osnatfineart.com/ is her web address if you want to check her out.
She’s even got her online images protected and you can’t copy anything even to show her work elsewhere.
Then there is the fine art “clearing house” type of site which claims to be a global community but doesn’t really appeal to me as an artist. It’s called Fine Art America and you can join for free but it costs $90 a year to start promoting your work there for prints on demand. http://fineartamerica.com/
I found a couple living in New Jersey that work together as artist that seemed to be doing quite well as abstract expressionists as well as a professor of art in Philadelphia who uses Photoshop to create digital abstract paintings.
So, is it the fine art of business or the business of fine art I’m getting into here? Seems like a bit of both as I thought it would be.
This piece is a digital painting of my wife Robin created from a photograph taken in 2007 in our back yard.
This time around I’m putting myself through a bit of a research project to get back into my fine art career. Unlike years ago I would just start painting and never realized that the size of my pieces or the color palette or subject or technique would be important enough to take into account.
As this time I’m going to take it on as a full blown career along with my design work, I’m going to find out all I can about how other artists like myself are advancing their careers and how they are able to sell successfully. What sizes sell the best. What galleries I should be in, etc.
I suppose I run the risk of becoming too concerned with the commercial success of my work but as I’ve never been in favor or believe in the idea of the “starving artist” I will be aiming for the stars.
This is a piece I finished in 1981 and was part of a series I call “woof”.
There were a number of pieces of this character and a good friend and fellow artist has one hanging over his fireplace.
For years I’ve wondered what most people prefer when it comes to hanging artwork on their walls. I went online and clicked around for days visiting various sites from framing to high end galleries and everything in between.
After days of research what I found was that the highest rated, most popular and most purchased pieces of art were landscapes.
Yes, landscapes. I’d completely forgotten about them as a subject to paint or photograph but when I thought about it remember being inspired by many beautiful paintings that were landscapes.
I’ve never been big on producing landscapes but I decided to give myself a project to photograph some landscapes and then either paint them or use the photos in a painting.
There is the mindset of the idea to paint what you, the artist wants to create and damn the public. A viewpoint I well understand, but I like the idea of doing it both ways. What I want to paint and also filling a need and want by the public.
Here are a few photos I’ve taken for possible paintings.
This photo was taken in April 2009 near San Diego, California. It’s on a golf course that for the life of me I can’t remember the name of. The tree at the bottom set against the almost perfect sky looks and feels very calming and I think could translate into a nice piece of work.
This photo was taken in June as I was driving up to Monterey, California an stopped to photograph the scenery. I think the back roads of California have some of the most interesting and scenic areas in the world.
This is a photograph I took on the same trip only coming back from Monterey in the late afternoon and saw this at Moro Bay on the Coast highway and had to stop for it. Notice the Maxfield Parrish coloring and the moon in the distance.
I’ve “started over” as a fine artist more times than I can count over the past 40 years. The thing is, I drift in and out of actually creating on a fine art level. The fact may remain that I have always been an artist but have not been creating that persona nor that type of art defined as fine art on a continual basis.
Be that as it may, I am kick-starting the career again only at this moment it is with much more of a commitment without any reservation.
Years ago I was standing in front of a large painting at a show I was a participating artist in and someone asked me how long it took me to paint the piece. My answer was 47 years. He laughed and it seemed like the correct answer to me as it took that long for me to actual get around this lifetime to doing and completing the painting. In actual fact I had done the 8ft high painting in one sitting from 7:00pm – 5:30am on a Thursday night two weeks prior to the show. To tell that would not have stated a reality the person could have really understood. It was kind of a reverse backward joke on time and how long someone thinks something like a piece of art should take to produce.
I must admit that when I’m in full fine art create, time does disappear for me. That may sound a bit strange, but it is true for me. I go into another sphere of reality that transcends the everyday agreement of time. Perhaps some of you other artists know what I’m talking about and have a similar reality on this.
I think the trick, if you can call it that, to being a successful fine artist lies in the same ability as any successful occupation – being able to follow the steps it takes to come out of just creating art in your own studio to exchanging it with the world at large and that exchange usually being the world’s energy back to you the artist in the form of money and notoriety which enables you to continue exchanging with the culture artistic ideas and aesthetic pieces for the environment we all live in. (There’s got to be a shorter way to say that, but I hope you get the idea.)
It’s been a long time since I really looked at what it takes to be a fine artist. There has to be a commitment to it like anything else. It can be a very lonely trip creating art and then having someone else see it, find out what they like about it and even why I do it.
For as long as I can remember I’ve had a very strange relationship with the idea that I could be a successful fine artist. I mean, really, how do you know if you’re a success at something as organic and natural as creating art. You could have such a high standard of what success is and someone else could look at you and say you’re a success just by the mere fact you created something.