Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pushing Through Towards Something Better // Eating Your Carrots

I'm finishing up my last week of college. It's been all the cliche-ique things... harder than I ever imagined, an up-and-down roller coaster, super expensive, etc. Ten years ago exactly, I was pushing through to finish my Associate's Degree in Arts. I was pregnant and extremely apprehensive about the future. I wasn't even sure I'd be going back to school.

I'm still not sure about the future. That baby is almost ten now. He's a lot of the reason of why I am finishing. My mom and I call it, "eating our carrots." I know school was the right choice for my future,  just like my mom always stressed to us the importance of eating our vegetables.

What I didn't know was the absolute struggle it would be... late night classes, financial aid nightmares, "group work" that I did on my own...

My mother disliked carrots, but she ate them in front of us anyway. She knew she was setting an example.
We laugh now about it, and every time I've had yet another academic hill to climb, we say "gotta eat your carrots!"

My son will later see how hard I've worked towards this goal, and more than anything, I hope it inspires him to eat some carrots of his own.

Thanks mom, for eating your carrots.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Picasso to Warhol

Picasso to Warhol Exhibit... Trip to the High Museum in Atlanta // Apr 11, 2012

written by: Kevin

So this was it: I've lived just outside of ATL for just over three years now, and I was finally getting a chance to go into the city...and to the High Museum, no less. I've called myself an artist for two decades, but this was going to be the first time (aside from breezing through the Art section fo the Smithsonian on a Boyscout trip full of people who just wanted to see the dinosaurs and airplanes -- an 11 year old me included) that I was going to have the opportunity to see art like this firsthand.

Now, don't get me wrong. I've seen PLENTY of prints, photographs, pictures in textbooks and magazines. You name it. But the only art i've been exposed to firsthand has mostly been either student pieces or at art festivals, etc. I'm not knocking anyone working the festival circuit. Heck, I'll probably see you there, eventually. But in that setting, it's usually not easy to take in the full impact of a piece. Crowds bustling, the dull buzz of all the voices and vehicles filling my ears. Artists trying to make a dollar so they can keep pouring their souls out on canvas, wood, clay, and wire and not on the grill at McDonalds. And I don't blame them one bit.

The museum, however, was in my mind this place of... reverent awe of these past masters, most of who have passed on, leaving pieces of their souls to tell us of who they were on certain days. I felt giddy and excited at the prospect, but a little silly at the same time.

The drive into the city and to the museum was fine. Nice and fun, actually. We were all excited. Jess n me conversing in anticipation squeesed in between Mini-me's stream of chatter from the backseat. We found the parking building and started driving down. And Down. and down. And we finally found a parking spot 1 level from the very bottom of the building, just above the 1st level of hell.... Found the elevators and ascended back towards the light.

We came out into the central plaza just over from the main entrance to the museum. The first thing we saw wasn't part of the exhibit we had come to see, but was pretty cool nonetheless: a 20' (guessing) statue by the artist Kaws of "The Companion".

Now, the first thought is that it looks like a twisted Mickey Mouse. Read the plaque at it's feet, explaining what it was to Kaws... perhaps even an alter ego. Its body is basically Mickey with no tail. It's head is a cartoony skull and crossbones (Mini-me said it looked like a white octopus for a head--- why not Zoidberg--- I digress). Regardless of the level of intention regarding the resemblance to a cartoon mouse witchdoctor, I found the overall design very impressive. And huge. Oppostie it was an optical illusion house designed by Roy Lichtenstein.

Now we ease on inside. Revolving doors. I barely fit. The following panel was smacking me in the butt as I walked. Yup. Biggest Loser Challenge starts this weekend, and I'm not backing out. We hit the bathrooms first. Normal toilets, thank God. I didn't want to have to pee in a sideways loop or something.

Anyway, Me n Mini-me were sitting on the bench outside and it took almost a minute before the next Kaws piece jumped out and bit me on the nose. That whole wall up there. about 16' high.

So we paid in, got our audio tour headsets (you may feel weird, but trust me, worth every penny) took the elevator up and stepped out to start with picasso. I don't have a ton of pictures from the exhibit, because quite frankly, I was so enraptured/ caught up in it, I forgot to take but a couple of mini-me looking at the art.

This was awesome. Looking at pictures online or in textbooks cannot even begin to compare to seeing these actual pieces of art in person. No matter how good the photography is, something gets lost. Maybe the textures, or the light, or, I dunno, call it the soul of the piece.

There is definitly a connection to the art, and even to the artist, speaking across time and space, when you are exposed to the art firsthand.  Add to that the sheer size of the collection they have put together for this exhibit, and the information from the audio tour...

Art school is closing in on two decades behind me now, and for the first time, I understand what it is about these "Modern Masters" that everybody was always fussing about. I never did wrap my head around abstract art while I was in school. Mostly, I was wanting to just get done with the lectures and get back to doing my own thing over in the corner. I didn't understand what the big deal was with Picasso, other than folk were willing to pay a LOT for something he did, so it must be worth something, but I just couldn't... wouldn't see it.

Now I feel differently about them. In a way, I feel like I met at least some of the artists in person. Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, Pollock, Bourgeois, Mondrian, Johns, Calder... there were 14 in all, over 100 pieces to see. I defintily felt... connected... drawn to certain artists more than others.

Picasso, for instance. In books, print... I've never been able to SEE what the art really was. For me, seeing those actual pieces... connected me to them and at the least allowed my mind to open up a little and really see what he was doing.

I enjoyed pieces from each of the artists, but the standouts to me were Picasso, Matisse, Pollock, Johns, and Warhol. Those were the ones who grabbed me. Suprisingly to me, the one I came away impressed with and connected to the most was Pollock. When I was in art school, listening to my teach talk about him and showing images of his work, I just did NOT get it. How could random splatters be art? Seeing the paintings, and then even watchign a short film of him creating one of his pieces whilst narrating himself, I began to see, to understand. I could see that it WASN'T random. It wasn't just flinging paint around and seeing what happened. And then one thing he said that really stuck in my mind was when he described his work saying... (I might not have the quote perfect, so don't pull out my toenails with rusty pliers.)

 "I put what I feel on the canvas. I don't try to create an image that represents it. I put the actual emotion there for you to see"

In the past, I've sort of looked odd at people who talk about being moved deeply by seeing this type of art in person. Yet I call myself an artist. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to visit a collection like this, and let m...e tell you, it is an altering experience. My mind is different, my artist soul feels like it has been touched. My perceptions of art as a whole, and even how I see the physical world around me. I am thankful I got to share this experience with Mini-me and my Jessica. Thank you, darlin lass. I don't think I'll ever be quite the same. Maybe some who see this will think that is strange, but I didn't use to understand either. Ms Elmes, I think I get it now.

I already can't wait to go back, having discovered as I left that they have a display of Howard Finster's work. and the place is HUGE! I enjoyed every minute of the trip. And I also loved how into all of it Mini-me was. He listened to every bit of the audio tour, both adult and family/kids' level. It was a blast to discuss it all with him and Jessica afterwards over a Varsity burger and Orange Freeze, to see what pieces affected them. And the experience has definitely inspired Jessica and I to creativity. No, I'm not splattering paint, though I did buy a Jackson Pollock postcard (along with a Jasper Johns) before we left. I'm drawing a knight, one link of chainmail at a time. But one of the points of the exhibit was how these men (and woman) redefined what was art and what art was by challenging, ignoring, and trampling on the established rules of art.

So don't rule ANYTHING out.

And there was even one last piece of art as we left. Don't know if it was intentional, but the rounded skylight in the roof of the elevator let me frame an image of my own, creating a little art as I eased out of these old masters' domain.... maybe taking a little piece of that soul with me...

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pushing Through // Knowing When to Stop

In the past, I've found it hard to stop with my artwork, pushing and reworking until a piece was ruined. 

I know now, it was a lack of confidence. 

It takes a certain level of trust to listen to that voice within that says, "It’s finished."

I'm learning. There’s an artist within me, and she knows. 
It’s liberating to let go and believe. 

Almost finished:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pushing Through // Shading

Something that occurred to me as I was shading tonight...

I could take the easier route with this drawing and start smudging, but I had a goal. I wasn't going to do that, I was going to do everything by shading. My skills are definitely rusty, but I have to push through. Otherwise, I know I can't progress past where I stopped four years ago. It's a slow process.

Life's definitely like that, for me at least. I want to rush ahead and achieve my goal the easier way, but God knows what's best for me. I learn best when I take things slowly, give myself time, work through the ADD tendencies, and absorb the lessons.

Here's the progress so far...

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