Pearls from artists* # 544

Fevereiro 1, 2023
At work; Photo: Jennifer Cox

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Creativity is human potential made manifest. But what is talent? The dictionary (in this case Webster’s New World Dictionary) informs us that talent is any natural ability, power, or endowment, and especially a superior, apparently natural ability in the arts or sciences or in the learning or doing of anything.

This definition is revealing on several counts. First of all, it defines talent in terms of abilities and powers. It suggests that an artist can answer the question “Am I talented?” In the affirmative if he can point to certain endowments that he possesses.

But which ones should be point to? What are the important ones in his art discipline? How many of them does he need to do good work? Do they all matter equally? Which, if any, are absolutely necessary? How much of a desired ability does he need – how great a vocal range, how long a leap, how fine a hand as a draftsman?

Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts: Practical Guidance and Inspiration for Creative and Performing Artists

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Start/Finish of “Sacrificial,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58” x 38”

Janeiro 28, 2023
Start
Finish

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Pearls from artists* # 543

Janeiro 25, 2023
With “Impresario,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 70” x 50” framed
With “Impresario,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 70” x 50” framed

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Although the struggles that I faced involved me as an individual, I didn’t feel alone. I was forbidden to travel, but this forced immobility didn’t adversely affect my work; instead it gave me sustenance. For me, inspiration comes from resistance – without that, my efforts would be fruitless. Having a real – and powerful – adversary was my good fortune, making freedom all the more tangible – freedom comes from all the sacrifices you make to achieve it. Limitations come only from a fear inside the heart, and art is the antidote to fear. I did not need sympathy, for courage itself is an aesthetic feeling, and it’s only when true feeling is transformed into something broadly understood that art can avoid drying up.

Ai Weiwei in 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

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Q: Can you explain how you choose colors? (Question from Maria Cox via Instagram)

Janeiro 21, 2023
“Overlord,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58” x 38”

A: I am wild about color! As I work to create a pastel painting, I apply a color, back up from my easel to see how it interacts with and affects the rest of the painting, and then I make revisions. This process necessitates countless color changes and hundreds of hours during months of work. I apply pastel using a meticulous layering process. Were you to x-ray one of them, the earlier, discarded versions of a pastel painting would be visible. All the while I carefully fine-tune and refine how the colors and shapes interact with each other.

The goal is to make an exciting painting that no one, especially me as the maker, has ever seen before. I have no desire to repeat myself, to make art that resembles work by any other artist, or to be forced into a niche.

I try to select intense, vibrant colors that are exciting to look at, that work well in relationship to each other, and that will grab the viewer. Sometimes I deliberately choose colors for their symbolic meanings. For example, I selected a dark purple for the alternating triangles (the ones with the pink dots above) in “Overlord” because purple denotes royalty.

I have been working with soft pastel for 37 years so I have a fairly intricate science of color at my disposal. No doubt, many unconscious factors are at play, too. More on that in future posts.

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Pearls from artists* # 542

Janeiro 18, 2023
Barbara’s Studio

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Observing these objects and imagining their history broadened my perspective. In China, we were still living in a culturally impoverished era, but art had not abandoned us – its roots were deeply planted in the weathered soil. The stubborn survival of this indigenous artistic tradition demonstrated that our narrow-minded authoritarian state would never be able to remake our culture in its own image. From then on, when I wasn’t spending time with my parents, I was immersing myself in the world of antiques. The dealers found me perplexing, for I followed no prevailing tastes or conventional wisdom. Instead I was taken with obscure objects, and made a point of buying things that seemed to have little or no value; my hungry spirit was nourished as I imagined the stories lurking behind each piece. The observations and insights that came to me from the distant past spurred me on to make art of my own.

– Ai Weiwei in 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

This is exactly my experience with the folk art I collect!

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Travel photo of the month*

Janeiro 14, 2023

With Jennifer Cox on a film shoot for our upcoming documentary, Clifton, NJ

*favorite travel photos that have not yet appeared in this blog

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Pearls from artists* # 541

Janeiro 11, 2023
Barbara’s Studio

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

The artist has to make the viewer understand that his world is too narrow. To do this is a task for the humanist.

– Anthony Tapies

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Q: What’s on the easel today?

Janeiro 7, 2023

Work in progress

A: I continue working on “Shadow,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 26” x 20”

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Pearls from artists* # 540

Janeiro 4, 2023
“Wise One,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 58” x 38,” in progress

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

The Wise Old Man or Woman is a figure found throughout folklore and mythology. They possess superior understanding and also often a more developed spiritual or moral character. Frequently, such characters provide the information or learning that the Hero needs to move forward in their quest. In “Star Wars,” Ben Kenobi plays the teacher to Luke, introducing purpose and knowledge into the young Hero’s life. Where the Hero brings a drive, courage, and direct action, the Wise Old One introduces the importance of the opposing values of thought and questioning. Jung describes it thus: ‘Often the old man in fairytales asks questions like who? Why? Whence? Wither? For the purpose of inducing self-reflection and mobilizing the moral force.’

The Wise One may appear in disguise to test the character of others. In the second “Star Wars” film, “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980), Luke’s mentor Yoda does not reveal himself as such when they first meet. He waits, asking questions that test Luke’s motivation for being there. Jung associated the Trickster archetype with the Wise One, and the use of disguise emphasizes this correlation.

Gary Bobroff in Carl Jung: Knowledge in a Nutshell

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Happy New Year…

Dezembro 31, 2022

… from New York City!

Pearls from artists* # 539

Dezembro 28, 2022
View from Pier 57, New York, NY

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

It is important to consider, when cities like New York continue a process of gentrification that make them unlivable for most artists and intellectuals, that the community Schloss describes was to some extent brought into being by a number of radically different circumstances: first, immigration – in some cases, such as de Kooning, illegal, and in others, such as Schloss, forced by war and politics – and second, the existence in post-Great Depression New York of cheap rents for run-down spaces that no one other than artists would consider or would be able to make not just livable but eventually fashionable.

Mira Schor in The Loft Generation: From the de Koonings to Twombly, Portraits and Sketches 1942-2011 edited by Mary Venturini

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