I'm not the Immortal Artist. You are
Immortal Artist is dedicated to exploring all aspects of experimental art and creating new and innovative techniques which other artists can use to strengthen their own work.
The blogs creator, experimental artist Grey Cross pursues and discusses art across a wide spectrum of artistic mediums. They include painting, sculpting, body art, digital art, and photography. With an emphasis on teaching artists to utilize today's social networks to further their own art and reputations.
This blog uses the Living Blog concept, an idea created by Grey Cross
Grey Cross Studios/Immortal Artist Operations
Saturday, March 28, 2015
What the hell is a Dremel? Well for those not familiar, this is a tool used by construction people, builders, etc. It is sort of like a super tool that you can change the head of to allow for different kinds of uses. It can be a drill, a sander, a buffer, a screwdriver and a host of other things. Most like it for its versatility and prices can go high on getting a great one.
Many artists have only heard of the thing in passing and may even have one that they use around the house, but do not think to you use it as an art tool. But let me tell you that as a sculptor this thing has literally 10,000 uses for me. But many of the applications I use it for can also easily be used for texturing on paintings.
The most important thing to remember though is that while you can pay several hundred for a Dremel, that it also comes into more economical packages. In fact mine was only $23.99 at my local Walmart and was probably the best purchase I've ever made. Its cordless, so its easy to get into small spaces and has two speeds. The only drawback I've found is that the rechargeable battery only lasts about 3-5 days depending on how much I use it and the recharge time takes several hours. Mine also came with some basic accessories that I could use.
I of course have acquired a great deal more since I originally bought it. Walmart or any home improvement store will carry a whole section of Dremel accessories and I suggest you experiment with them.
The most useful for me have to be the sharpening attachments. These are a variety of sizes and are supposed to be used sharpening things like knives or scissors. I've never used mine that way even once. What they are exceptional for is carving on softer surfaces. I use mine on dry foam and clay mostly but they would work on just about anything. The key is to NOT pay attention to what the accessory was supposed to be used for and try it out in other ways. There are also a series of polishers made of soft felt material that I use for gentle sculpting or fine shaping of foam. The etching tools are great for exactly that, etching into materials. I've also used these effectively with stencils. There are flat sanders that are phenomenal for texturizing.
The point to this entry is that sometimes we have to use things in totally different ways than would be expected. If the price hadn't been so low I probably wouldn't have ever bothered experimenting with it. In fact I will probably buy a more expensive model at some point. Its proven its artistic value to me.
What out of the ordinary tools do you use as an artist?
Friday, March 27, 2015
In exact opposition to the title 70's musical hit "Indiana Wants Me" by R Dean Taylor, now Indiana DOES NOT want me, or many of you.
Having lived in Michigan for many years, I spent some good times with friends traveling to and fro to Indiana. Indianapolis is a vibrant city with a lot to offer as are many other cities around the state. But now for some (including myself) its a dangerous place to be. Living now in the South in New Orleans, I am seeing states on either side of Louisiana trying to enact horrifying laws that exclude people that don't meet "the norm".
I almost feel like someone should start posting a travel advisory, similar to what the government does to warn people going overseas about troubled and dangerous areas of the world. This Travel Advisory would advise LGBT folk, persons of color, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus or anyone else that may not fit Indiana's norm.
While the current strategy many businesses and organizations are using to economically pulling out of the state is a great way to try and reverse a terrible law. I suggest that we need a Plan B in case it fails. If the law is not reversed then every person who could be damaged by it should choose the same weekend and converge en mass on the state proudly wearing a tag similar to this one.
Fill in the blank for whatever subculture you might be part of that could be harmed by this law and proudly go into as many businesses as you can. Don't cause problems. Smile, be as pleasant as you can possibly be. Let your tag speak for you. Flood the state for a few days. Yes it would help their economy but one of two things would also occur. Either most wouldn't give a damn about this law and willingly serve you proving the , stupidity of ever enacting it, or every single business that turns you away gets sued. Yes the law protects them, but consider what it would do to the Indiana legal system to have multiple thousands of lawsuits all brought to the state at the same time.
Perhaps I am naive and a lawyer would say it wouldn't work. But the distraction alone of having thousand of "those people" converging in one place would certainly be cause enough to cause a stir and make a statement.
In fact I would take it a step further and suggest creating a cell phone app that can tell you where specific businesses are turning people away and sharing stories. Create a black list of businesses that refuse service. Hell, create a white list too of friendly businesses who cared about their customers, ALL OF THEM.
And face it, if your a business are you going to start turning people away in droves if they are spending money in your establishment? Its easy to turn one poor gay man away, but dozens, perhaps not.
Make a weekend of fun out of it. Make it a challenge to vex these folks that would turn away their fellow human beings. Make them close their doors and lose money for a few days because they "fear" our presence.
As Gandhi and Martin Luther King preached, violence is not the answer. Be the sweet caring people we know you are, regardless of how badly you are treated. Slay this law with love, not hate because ultimately hate is the weapon of choice of those that created this law. Choose a different weapon!
And yes I am artist first and I try to always relate everything back to art. So artists reading this, think creatively! How can you help slay this law with your skills???? If we all play a small part, things can and will change!
Artist: Scott Mercer
Location: Louisville, Kentucky USA
Work of Art: ROPE A DOPE
The city I live in is Louisville, KY, and one of the most iconic “Louisvillians” to ever emerge from here is none other than Muhammad Ali. I saw this mural downtown a few years back and I always wanted to take a picture of it. So, when I got my first nice camera and the new Photoshop a couple of months ago, I decided to give it a go. After completing my piece, I feel as though I brought back to life a dilapidated remnant of an amazing work of art that personifies this city as a whole.
This piece is not a painting or a drawing, but instead it is a rejuvenation of a dilapidated mural from the heart of my city. It is a digitally altered photograph but the cool thing is that the paper that it is printed on is metallic. This means that, in the light, the piece gives off this metal look and feel to it that other matte pieces cannot. This paper cannot bend, rip, or tear and the metallic sheen doesn't fade once behind a glass frame.
I have always loved Muhammad Ali. My grandpa went to the Olympic trials for boxing back in his 20’s and he still today shows me pictures that he took of Muhammad Ali in his prime. This is why I had to create this piece.
Beck Nickolls, an art historian from Charnwood, England, is about finished with a giant article on my locally inspired work (including the Muhammad Ali piece). Other than that I have had a few shoutouts on twitter by local businesses and people. I have not been in any galleries or art shows yet but I aspire to be in the near future! The main place to buy and see all of my work is on www.thelouisvillianspp.com
Sizes available: 20x30 - $39.99
16x20 - $31.99
11x14 – $22.99
Printed on Metallic Paper
Contact: Alex Mercer
Phone: (502) 718-8184
Artist: Jackie Janisse
Location: Sault St Marie, Canada
Work of Art: DIRECTION CHANGE
"Direction Change" was painted at a time of great disturbance in my life. You could say a great change in direction which was out of my control. Life as a foster parent is a rocky road; a cliff waiting to give way. This painting is a tangible, visual representation of the path of life.
I have learned through the years that we are not alone in this plight of humanity and every one of us has directional changes in life that are planned or unintentional, lovely or devastating. The view may be obscured when a change is imminent or we may see that path and carpe diem. This painting symbolizes a pattern of direction in life that flows in un-known and known ways. The background is a heated cadmium yellow, orange and burnt sienna and the shadows are a cooler phthalo blue, violet and blue grey. I have included a photo of this painting at it's mid point to demonstrate composition and colour balance changes. While creating this piece, I was keeping "change" in mind and I wanted the composition and color to lend to that. I ended up rotating the canvas 180 degrees so that the lines would flow up and out. As in life, I personally want to grow as a person and I want life's happenings, whether good or bad, to shape my life in a greater, stronger way.
Part of what I love to do in creating a painting is construction. I have a background in Machine Technology and technical drawing so power tools are cool. I build stretcher frames, wrap canvas and cradled hardboard panels. It is just as fulfilling as painting and there is something about nurturing a painting from it's infancy. This particular painting, "Direction Change" is one of my smaller pieces measuring in at 17 x 13 x 1.5 inches on wrapped canvas. I initially applied plaster to the entire canvas just to give my background some depth. Then I used fibre paste from Liquitex to create the composition. I layered acrylic paint and sanded it create depth and use a final coat of varnish to unify.
"Direction Change" was sold to a local collector of my works through my favorite shop in downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario called The Artist's Alcove. I have many paintings there presently if you would like to check them out or call for more information www.artistalcovessm.com/jackie-janisse/ or to contact me directly through my website www.jackiejanissefineart.com
I have a group exhibition coming up for the month of April at The Museum of Northern History in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. It is a contemporary arts exhibit with the theme of "Ode to Joy" where my painting Pure Joy will be shown. Check out my facebook page for more info on this:
|TThis image was taken at the midway point in the painting to show the color balance I have created.|
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Many artists won't work with natural clay because it cracks and often falls apart. But there are ways to minimize the cracking problem by applying a thin layer of foaming glue to the surface. Using rubber gloves, you can apply the glue to the surface of the clay immediately after you finish sculpting with it. By using a minimal amount of glue and rubbing it lightly and uniformly across the clay surface, you can create a shell casing around the clay. Because the clay dries slowly and the glue quickly, it will form a hard outer layer within a few hours. The precaution is though that you need to watch the foaming glue for at least 20 minutes. If the glue foams to high, you need to use your finger to gently deflate it again. Once it hardens, you will have no further troubles with it raising and your clay should remain firmly encased while it dries. Cracking can be virtually eliminated leaving your original sculpted shape.
In the photo you can see the yellowish white of the glue beginning to foam around the base of the ruined tower structure. In this case I want some cracking to occur higher up, so I've left most of it exposed to natural drying. But I don't want the bast to fracture or large chunks to break off. Gluing the base allows a lower protective shell to form. Once dried (usually 2 hours) I can paint over both the clay and the glue further reinforcing and minimizing the cracking.
You will want to give the clay at least 2 days to do a total surface drying before working more closely with the piece.
If you do a partial glue casing where some clay is exposed, and you encounter severe cracking after drying it should terminate at the shell. You can use a clear jell glue to fill the cracks. I suggest GO2 glue by Loctite. Whatever you use make sure that it is both clear when dry and that it is not a liquid like a basic super glue. This just drips through the crack. Using a gel glue lets you fill the cracks cleanly and wipe away the excess. Once dry you can again paint over it and the crack will for the most part disappear. Dry time is about an hour with GO2 glue. Others may vary.
Keep in mind that you can also use the foaming glue to create texture on the clay. After letting it set about 5 minutes you rake it with something as simple as a plastic fork or use a dry sponge on it and it will retain the pattern. This may take some experimenting to get the hang of the best time to texturize. If you do it too soon it will melt back and refoam. If you do it too late it will be too hard to be of use to you. But with a little playing around its pretty easy to get the hang of.
As an example, the cliffs in this photo were built with clay stretched over styrofoam. This traditionally wouldn't work because the clay would just break off of the foam as it dried. But by applying an overlay of foaming glue and working with the texture to create a rock looking surface, there was no cracking and the sculpture is solid enough that it can be hung on a wall and won't budge. I even applied natural small rocks embedded in the glue before it dried to add to the natural feel of the cliffs.
SO the advantages of using these techniques means that you can use clay as a medium without having to heat it in a kiln. Natural Clay is great for so many things and if you can overcome the cracking problem the possibilities are endless.
One word of warning! With any glues, please be careful. This should not be attempted with the bare hand or a utensil. Use rubber gloves and allow your finger to work over the clay gently. Utensils can gouge.
Have fun and feel free to share your questions or experiences!
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Sometimes its impossible for me not to allow my views and deeply held beliefs to come out in my sculptures even when I don't have any plans for doing so.
Tonight an article by a right wing extremist claiming there was no evidence for Michelangelo being gay, threw me into a rage. It is so easy these days for extremists to rewrite history to suit their own agenda. It makes me sick to the heart.
Of course without even consciously realizing it I'd placed my anger at extremism into my current sculpture. For those not aware, the current work is a 6 foot miniature New Orleans cemetery, complete with tombs, crypts and headstone and most labeled with names, deaths, etc.
I've been trying to mix the names up a bit. Using authentic Louisiana surnames on some, generic names on others and names of significance or mystery to make people look closely.
So long story short, before even realizing WHY I was doing it, I'd chosen the names of the four extremists that horrify me the most and added the names to 4 crypts along with a pentagram above each just to really be a bastard. Then I stopped and realized I'd been so mad about the earlier articles that I'd translated directly to the sculpture.
So I questioned whether I should stop and not use the names (and no I'm not going to tell you who they are because I want you to at least pay attention to the photo work when it comes out even if you can't ever see the actual sculpture). I really soul searched this for a few moments. But then I decided that I as an artist and an activist am always preaching to others that they should place their beliefs in their work, so why would I remove something that did the same? Mind you the face-plate for each is only about a half inch in size, so its not like its glaring out at everyone and taking away from the work. In fact I doubt anyone would even take notice if I hadn't written this damned blog entry.
But you know, I pride myself on hidden meanings and subtle workings in my art and this particular piece is filled with them. These four small names will just be a part of the whole.
But the greater discussion of how art and activism relate to each other is still out there. I notice that while I write about it often, most artists remain pretty silent on it. In fact its almost taboo in some circles of the art community. I've talked before about activists creating art that is still beautiful and abstract but makes a direct statement. Beauty and activism CAN go hand and hand.
As an artist, what is your view? You know mine, but what do others think? Share it here, or if you prefer to remain anonymous, email me and tell me your thoughts! email@example.com
Sunday, March 22, 2015
persons possessing, or claiming to possess, superior enlightenment
What is OCTAS?
It simply means "Observe Closely There are Secrets". This is my way of telling you that this creation is more than meets the eye. When OCTAS rears its head, pay attention because there is a lot more here than meets the eye. Most will only observe the outer layer of the creation, but like an onion there could be more than one layer. A good early example of OCTAS were the cube sculptures I built in the when I first began as an artist. Unknown to most (until now) some of these 2' x 2' cubes have things hidden in them. Not that people should go around breaking them open as there is nothing of major value within them, but if they are ever broken, you just might find a surprise.
Other OCTAS are not physical things, but messages, signs, symbols and secrets laid out in various sculptures. Some are obvious with a little looking, others are very obscure. Some may never be discovered.
The point of OCTAS is to make people observe more closely rather than just seeing the outwards appearance and walking away.
Its NOT just a pretty picture.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
For the record I have to admit that I totally get off on sharing the complicated construction of my sculptures. In a way its sort of like performance art. I'm not only working towards the end result, but every step along the way with its successes and failures gives me pleasure to share to the broader world.
With each and every step the work is photographed, described, discussed and questions are asked. I find the whole thing a blast but from a purely psychological aspect I suppose its fulfilling my need to be a teacher also.
I don't give a frigging rats ass if the piece sells (although I should). Its all about the process and the development of a following that looks forward to the next creation and all its smaller aspects.
This very unique type of sculpture is really many smaller sculptures put together into a single entity. So while it may take me months to complete a piece, I am also completing smaller portions every few days and that always give an audience something to follow. Yes my audience is mostly made up of other artists and I hope they are gaining something regarding technique that they can use themselves.
I've often considered putting webcams in the studio, but I think that wouldn't work for me. A lot of what I do is small and intricate and I think watchers would get bored pretty fast unless I decided to do all my art in the nude, then hilarity would ensue.
But seriously, about my second year as a photographer I began doing body painting live on stage (usually to a bar full of drunks) but it developed into these huge extravaganzas where I would organize a specific theme and orchestrate it much the same way a conductor organizes a band and bring in other artists under that theme to paint sometimes in excess of 30 models at a time. I stopped putting on live shows because they were immensely time and resource consuming, but I absolutely adored the performance aspects of it. In a way this is the same thrill without all the problems.
One of my dreams someday is to have a gallery where the art is shown in the front, but I work live at the back and tourists and visitors can stop by, have some wine and watch the show while I work.
So, in the coming weeks as I develop this current project fully, I hope others do benefit from it and keep watching and commenting. It pushed me to do better. And while I've already shared a lot of details about the Walking in the City of the Dead project, there are a few more surprises yet to come. Its almost like Pee Wee's Playhouse!
Saturday, March 14, 2015
New Orleans graveyards are like no others. Because of the water table, in much of the surrounding land it is nearly impossible to dig a six foot hole and hope a body won't end up under water. Above ground family crypts and hot boxes line our cemeteries and create miniature cities of memorial to the departed.
I've been fortunate as a professional photographer to capture images in many of the Cities of the Dead. Images as simple as a crypt under the full moon...
Or glimpses of the disjointed remains of the dead....
To odd orbs wandering the streets of the dead at night.....
These are all parts of the experience of the Cities of the Dead.
A few months back I began working on a surreal set of images aptly named "Walking in the City of the Dead" with the intentions at some point of putting them into a book. You can see the photo work here.
This ongoing photo series will be added to I am sure in the coming months and years.
At the time I began this photo series I had a great desire to also do a large scale sculpture of a graveyard. Unfortunately other projects got in the way until now. But now I am beginning a 6 foot sculpture that will also be named "Walking in the City of the Dead"
The completed work will measure 6 feet long by 4 feet wide, resting on a 1 inch deep frame. Like many of my sculptures this piece will be made to hang on a wall as if you were looking down into the cemetery from above.
It will incorporate details from many of my photos and will use real graveyard dirt obtained from several locations around the city. The dirt before it is used will go through an authentic voodoo blessing and be laid on a New Orleans altar prior to being added to the sculpture. So when complete, the fresh graves you will see throughout the piece will use real graveyard dirt to cover them. At no time will I use real bones or break the sanctity of any grave. The dirt will be obtained legally in small quantities from multiple cemeteries in order to not create any holes or desecrate any graves. When the piece is completed it will also go through a blessing before being opened for purchase.
When it is completed, several signed prints from the photo series will also be offered with it.
With that said, if you would like to follow the development of the piece, you can do so through twitter by going to the hashtag #GCSart100
All details are being shared there with special emphasis on the artistic process. Please feel free to comment back to me here on the blog or via tweets to my twitter name at: @
As of the time of this writing, I am 2 days into the creative process. Here is a current photo of the sculpture as of Saturday 03-14-15
I am now 4 days into this piece and some new things have developed with it. In the center mausoleum there will be 4 crypts. Each of these crypts will hold a minute pinch of dirt from the graves of four of New Orleans dead and each of the crypts will be inscribed with their names, in memorial to them.
I've also begun buying several saints icons from the most important of the New Orleans voodoo shops. These icons will be added at various points to the sculpture.
I may also work to see that all the names used in the sculpture on the various crypts and hot boxes are authentic also (although I reserve the right to say that might be a bit too much work, but we'll see).
During this process I am also adding work to the "Walking in the Cities of the Dead" photo series as well as creating an additional short series called "Of Tired Spirits Far From Rest"
As of tonight on the sculpture, the three large trees are finished as well as the center mausoleum (minus the crypts) and the first of the icon (a Madonna statue).
Next up will be the additions of the 4 crypts and adhering the mausoleum to the canvas. Here are some photos taken in the past few days.
Time moves quickly when you are totally absorbed in creating. I've worked just about 30 hours in the past 2 days, literally with only a 2 hour sleep period to break it up. I've made a lot of progress in the past two days The first two tombs are built, and a moss covered memorial burial mound with marble column in the center. I also completed 13 individualized tombstones with iconography that will be scattered around the sculpture. I've begun the detail work for three connected wall tombs as well and should have them finished tomorrow.
Each small addition is a task in itself and can take anywhere from 5-25 hours to complete. But when completed every part of the whole sculpture is an individual work of art.
I am now 12 days into the creation of this piece and 90% of the canvas remains empty. There is a lot more work to go. For now some sleep is finally in order.
There are now 6 free standing crypts completed. Three rows of wall tombs. And one of two sepulcher mausoleums which will rest at the very top of the sculpture. The second of the hilltop memorials has also been completed as a memorial to Hurricane Katrina.
I've lost track of hours on this one. I am usually more disciplined about keeping a record of hours put have just been so caught up in the whole project that I let my discipline slip but I would guess I have to have about 60 hours of work in at this time and I am not yet at the halfway point of completion.
As a side note, I've decided to add a body sculpture to this set. In the coming weeks I will stop production on the sculpture itself in order to bring a model into the studio and create an airbrushed sculpture that is themed to match the Walking in the City of the Dead and then photograph them in one of the cemeteries itself. I will share more details as it comes closer to the actual date.
Here are some updated shots of the sculpture taken over the past week or so. The final photo speaks for itself.
Well I took a week off from the big sculpture to focus on creating some miniature tombs for sale individually. I created three for the time being in different sizes. I'll show photos of them at the end of this update.
I am now back hard at work on the main sculpture and have completed several more crypts for it. This piece is really taking a lot of time. I'm focusing all my skills into each individual crypt and I am placing a huge amount of complexity and mystery into the whole piece. There are secrets at every turn and the whole piece will read more like a mystery novel I think. I've enjoyed placing so many things into this piece. Even though the piece is not political in nature, the activist in me can't help adding a few small
Thursday, March 12, 2015
A Special Invitation To All Artists
Immortal Artist is opening its forum up to other artists. We want to give artists a platform to show specific piece of their work. Not in the way of a conventional portfolio, but in a more personal way. We want to give you a chance to show it and tell us about it. More than a two sentence description, we want to know the inner mind of the artist and their creation.
There is no cost and no obligation. Just a chance to show your work to a new audience. Keep in mind that the reason I ask for a longer explanation of the piece is because just a piece of art is not enough. People like to become emotionally involved in the art they buy. By showcasing a specific piece of art and explaining it, betters the chances of selling it. That is if its for sale at all. This can include works that are no longer available as long as you note that in your description. If you are particularly proud of a past piece of art, this is the chance to talk about it.
If you would like to showcase a specific piece of art, please include your presentation (as long as you want it) and any photos you want included. Send them to:
Please only one piece of art per submission so we don't get them mixed up.
I've put together this basic list of some of the aspects of your art that a potential buyer might be interested in. Please consider the following aspects and put together a short presentation about the piece. Please include photo work (no limit) of the piece to include and I will post it to the blog and make as big a deal out of it as I can. Again there is no cost and no I don't take anything for the effort. These are things I wish I had access to as an artist and since they don't exist in the way I envision them, I figured I'd just create them myself.
Things to Consider in Your Presentation
Why - This simple question is most often on the minds of a viewer to your art. If it is simply a landscape or a bowl of fruit, the "why" is usually pretty specific without having to belabor the point. But if the are is unusual, simply explaining "why" you created it and the motivation behind it can go along way towards emotionally involving the viewer.
Materials - A viewer always likes to know what you used to make your art. Some answers are pretty simple "acrylic paint", but more and more these days artists are using unusual materials to create their art.
History - Beyond the simple question "why", some art has a deeper reason for being created. The history or a particular piece may be obvious to the creator, but endlessly fascinating to the viewer. "You had a dream as a child" or "you had got hit on the head and suddenly had a vision" are all acceptable historic reasons for your creation.
Where - Where has the piece been so far (if anyplace)? Have you shown it in galleries? Has it been in museums? Have others written about it?
Basic Stats - Don't forget your basic stats. The name of the piece, the size, the price and of course who to contact regarding purchase are all important facts. If the piece is not for sale or already sold its still valuable so show it anyway!
WIP - If you have Work in Progress shots of the piece and would like to include them, please feel free to do so. Just make sure you label them so we know what they are.
I am a true believer that an artists physical body is merely one aspect of who they are. Truly the artists with the longest legacies are still powerful forces within our society long after their physical form has perished.
What we place into our work and our lives stretches much further than we realize. This shouldn't be confused with the worship of an icon after they pass. This is about that force of nature that we place in everything that we do.
Its so easy for us to get lost in the individual brush stroke and lose the greater perspective. We forget that the brush stroke made today will be a lasting legacy for years, decades and maybe even lifetimes to come.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not putting myself or any other on a pedestal. I fully expect that I will live and die in obscurity, but I try to plan my work, what I create both artistically and in word (like this blog) to last a whole lot longer than I will.
When the printing press was created that ushered in the first moment in history where someones words could and would last well beyond them. Till then a book was a fragile thing. A single copy may have existed. Artists on the other hand had been creating art for far longer than book writers and those works of art outlasted them. But this is the first era of the perpetual spirit. Not only what we create may survive us, but everything about us (at least what ends up on the internet) will outlast us also.
Our legacy is no longer in a single work of art but in everything that makes us who we are. Most won't even think about this. But artists, writers, musicians we leave a much larger footprint behind us and I think we have an obligation to consider what those that come after us will know about who we are.
People worry about the morality of who they are. Oh god what if someone see's that boob shot my boyfriend took of me? That is NOT worrying about your legacy. 500 years from now I suspect people won't give a damn about your boobs. What they will give a damn about is what you stood for, what you created with nothing but your hands and your mind, what you left behind to give to other generations.
The people of the past we seem to cherish the most are rarely those that led perfect devout lives. They are the ones who were flawed and who struggled with life and who expressed that struggle through their creativity.
So I ask you, what are you leaving behind? And if your not, why aren't you? Stop worrying about your damned boobs and create a legacy that goes far beyond you.
And if the curious are wondering why I chose a cemetery to represent this article (see above), its because that's not the legacy I choose to leave behind. Like those tiny orbs of light, I hope my legacy will rise above the grave and light up someones creativity along the time line.
Friday, March 6, 2015
[v. suhb-kuhl-cher; n. suhb-kuhl-cher]
The cultural values and behavioral patterns distinctive of a particular group in a society.
A group having social, economic, ethnic, or other traits distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.
It frightens me the similarities between what some in our society are doing to alienate LGBT persons and what occurred prior to World War 2 in Germany.
No, I don't mean Nazis. I mean the general population of Germany. The German people did not just decide one day to hate Jews. They were encouraged by their leaders over and over again with phrases like "Jews are unclean", "Jews want to dominate you", "Look at Jewish history and see how horrible these people are. Why can't they stay in their synagogues where we don't have to see them?"
I see more and more articles of how awful LGBT folk are. Unclean, disease spreading. They want to steal our children. They want to subvert our population. We are often compared to Pink Nazi's. The Gay Gestapo, Big Gay. They are out to destroy our way of life.
Do these things sound familiar? It doesn't take a degree in history to see the comparisons and realize that history can and does repeat itself.
There are many kinds of people in this world. If we begin labeling them there is no stopping the hell we can create others. Labels breed more labels and hate breeds more hate. When does it end? When each of us exactly a carbon copy of the other? But isn't that what some descry? Even the loudest conservative voices cry out that they will not lose their individuality, yet they would cast this upon the rest who do not match their own labels.
As an artist, I try to let my creative voice take the lead in crying out against injustice. I try to always keep a balance of respect of others individuality and viewpoints even when it may harm my own. With even the most brutal I try to see the other side and what I see isn't that others are bad, but that they are lead, lead by the same voices that so long ago in Germany tried to destroy a whole subculture because it did not meet with their norms.
Is that really what our world is about? Or is it about acceptance and escaping that base instinct to kill anything that is not like ourselves?
I can say without a doubt that I am not part of any "Gay Plot". In fact I know of no one who is (despite what some would claim). If I was a Jewish shoe maker in 1935, I doubt I would say I knew of any "Jewish Plot". I would just be a shoe maker as I am an artist now. But the need to point fingers at any group of people who does not meet what you consider "the social norm" automatically places blame on the accused party.
So please, take a moment to see that we are all just the same, just trying to make it through this world on the gifts we've been given and the sweat of our brow and try to love everyone instead of just those that look and act just like you. It may save my life and yours someday. Because the finger that you point can easily be turned towards you the first time you do something that your neighbor disagrees with.
As a mentor to aspiring artists, it always depresses me to lose a talented artist to the "photo bug". Now mind you this is coming from a man who devoted many years to his photographic talents and still uses them often. But it seems that the ease of point and shoot cameras and pretty images often lures the talented away from amazing careers as artists. Instead of augmenting their photographic eye to align with their artistic eye, they drop one for the other.
I suspect this blog entry will piss a few people off who have done exactly that. My apologies in advance because this is a question I have struggled long and hard with.
Everyone these days thinks they are a great photographer. And some are. Some have an amazing knack for it. But I am unsure they are reaching their true potential. When I see artists who have a true calling towards being a painter then set it all aside to pick up the camera, I honestly cringe. I want whats best for them of course and what makes them happiest. But sometimes its not done for happiness. Its done for ease. Its far easier than worrying about paints, canvas, technique, etc. Instead just say "ooh pretty", snap and edit.
I am biased I admit. I had too many years of people saying to me "oh wow you must be a good photo shopper" instead of seeing the true art of the image. Its the primary reason I put aside professional photography and plunged headlong into being an artist. I wanted an image that I could truly say was mine and was created from the depths of my soul and the skills of my hands and mind. So I suppose I am the last one to be judging others. But again I wonder if the lure of the camera is just too easy now.
Its kind of like a horrible singer who can turn into a maestro just through the chemistry of a mixing board and a great sound man. Or a writer who is absolutely sure they are the greatest author of all times because they've self published their first poem. Does it make either a singer or a writer?
My partner and I have debated this in length. His writing career was stellar and even in retirement he is still a total success. But he is as soured to the current publishing trends as I am to the current photography trends.
So is photography art? And if it is when does it become so? The same applies to the other creative mediums. What signifies success in any creative venture? I refuse to believe its just about the money. I remember an author back in the 90's who made a mint on the most atrocious fantasy novel of all time because Walmart picked up the rights to the book and put it in all their stores. And no I wont mention names. But simply creating something doesn't make it true art. Sometimes I feel we are selling our souls for the easy way to create.
I am an idealist I admit. Its great when it comes easy to someone, but I think the person is cheating not only their audience but themselves. And that is where I come back to artists dropping the brush to become photographers. Don't cheat yourselves when you have so much potential to be more. Stop and think about it for a time and realize that your selling yourself short if you think you can't do both.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Does the artists mind transcend to a higher level of consciousness when they are creating?
This is a question I've thought about for many years. It is a question that many artists refuse to even consider or acknowledge. Its almost like they are afraid to admit that their mind goes to another place while they work.
But time and time again there are indications that we reach into a special place within ourselves when we are in the act of creating. A place that disappears instantly when we return to the daily dynamics of life
It is often like being on a roller coaster. We can lose ourselves in the highs and the lows and the only way we can control it is by distancing ourselves it occurs. We refuse to be labeled lunatics or new-agers so we stay silent about what might be going on within our brains and our spirits.
But it does occur. Whether its strictly a mind place that we go when we seek deeply into ourselves for that creative energy, or something more transcending to our spirits, I cannot say. But when we can admit that it does happen, I think it opens up new doorways for our art.
I do not think that artists have a monopoly on this. I think anyone who uses their creative talents in a very deep way allow themselves to open up to this ability. But each of us, whether painter, musician, or writer also face the pitfalls of being brought flailing back to earth to deal with the wall of life that involves survival of both ourselves and our creativity. It can be very frustrating.
To reach as high as the Gods, and to be cast down to the depths of the Devils is both our greatest joy and darkest nightmare.
That is a depressing thought I know, but face it, the rate of suicide within the artistic community is high. There must be a correlation that causes this to be.
The thing is, if used properly, it can also bring a person out of depression and create stability from mental instability. Believe me, I am one of them. My mother was also. But I've seen how art changed her life in her later years and allowed her a focus that she did not possess in the 60 years prior. I've always fought with depression but I found this early and I've used it to the maximum to keep myself stable and directed.
But it is also a fine edged sword that can come to bite you if your not prepared.
Its easy to listen to the voices around you that tell you that the world has no transcendence. We are grounded in this world and the rest is just our imagination. But I think artists know better. They sense they are touching something much more infinite in their work that they cannot even begin to describe to those who haven't been there.
So why am I so caught up in this tonight? Because my mind focuses on my own mortality right now. Some know that a year or so ago I was very sick with HIV. Not just HIV, but over the edge into AIDS. This is something that is a bit rarer now that medicine has become better, but my immune system reacted poorly and crashed and burned quickly. It is not something I hide although I don't often talk about it either. In fact I am sure it was the best thing that could have happened because it allowed me to face some other health problems I probably would not have known about for quite some time.
I've recovered well over the past year and I am perhaps more healthy than I've ever been. But unfortunately my immune system is still in perilous shape. It takes years to build back to a healthy level. And while it is ever a concern and I sometimes tire easily, I've come back from this even more determined to create and grow as an artist and to share those abilities with others so that my own skills are not lost.
So why worry about transcendence if all is going well? Because I've just come away from my first real battle against a very poor immune system. What I thought was a cold quickly decided it would become pneumonia and placed me in the hospital. And I found this distressing. I ask myself whether this will continue to occur and weaken me more and eventually destroy me.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not depressed. In fact my art gives me stability to at least consider that this is not something I will totally bounce back from without fearing the idea. But after having been told countless times in the past days that I had to stop working and stick to bed rest, I still find myself back in my studio, slightly out of breath and not working at nearly the stellar speed of light I would usually work at. But working nonetheless. And feeling better for it, despite doctors telling me I had to lay around and do nothing.
So I come full circle back to the transcendence issue. Am I doing myself more harm by working or am I doing myself a service because in transcending through my art I am in turn healing myself? There is some evidence to support this. Coming from near total disability a year ago, I forced myself into my studio to work non-stop and I can't help but think that this in turn made me stronger, quicker. And even if it hasn't, has it not made me a happier person and a stronger spirit for it?
So are artists healthier in body, mind and spirit because of the work they do? Have their been studies regarding this? I do not know. What I do know though is that spending my second evening after having been in the hospital working slowly but diligently in my studio has been better for me than all the medicine they gave me to take. And my mind can't help but focus on these things even as I practice them.
So I ask again, does the artists mind transcend to a higher level of consciousness when creating? We may never know for sure.