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

New Orleans

Email: greyacross@aol.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Dream Zone - Artists Creating Art While They Sleep


To take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake.

An artist friend recently asked me if I did anything particular to induce a dream state that was centered around my art. I've spoken about this in passing before but never really put it all together in one post. So here it is.

There is never one thing that I do to stimulate my sleeping mind to create art. That may be a funny way to state it, but that's exactly what my brain is doing. Its creating the dream version of the art before the art is actually physically created.

Several of my techniques stemmed from the nature of sculpture as my artistic medium. My mind grasps multiple dimensions better than a single dimension. I'm not saying these exercises don't work for paintings, I think they work for any creative medium. But sculpture takes a long time to create sometimes. To work on a piece for 200-300 hours is not uncommon. I developed the first technique because of this.

I call it the "fly-over" technique. Basically, once I was settled in bed with the light off, I would literally mentally fly over the sculpture in my head. Like a vampire bat, I would swoop in and experience the sculpture from every angle I could. I would not take notes of anything I saw though. I would just let the natural process of sleep take over while cruising over the days work. What often results is waking with greater clarity of the piece I am working on or new ideas and innovations to add to it.

I think if I did this exercise in the middle of the day it would not work nearly as well. There is something about jumping directly into the unconscious that is crucial to its success. The exercise itself is simple enough. What others find difficult is in not waking back up and wanting to jot down notes.

Don't be discouraged if you come up with nothing. This exercise isn't mean to create daily inspiration. But there will be those ahah moments when you first wake that will be very important to write down before you lose them. So keep a pen and paper near the bed!

One of the reasons I began this was because it was a form of meditation for me. I expected no results, so I was surprised when I got some.

The next exercise is one where I do expect results and often get them. I take an idea that is half formed in my mind and I focus on it. For example, an upcoming piece of a woman's face is partially conceived. I know what she should look like. I know what she is wearing. But I do not know any of the other details of the piece. I have no idea what should be around her. What background should be included. What color scheme to use. So I will focus on that woman and let my subconscious begin to meld the details together to complete the piece. And many times it works. I will wake the following day and have a much clearer picture of what I need to do to make the piece whole.

Again, I do not attempt to take notes the same night. I allow myself to fall asleep while thinking about the piece and let my mind do the work for me.

The last exercise really isn't directly related to sleep. I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you read about it in a separate link because I've already written upon it to some extent. I'd suggest you stop a moment and go check it out then return to the last portion of this entry.

I know this is a much more complex bit of brainstorming and it takes time to master. How it relates to sleep is that I am convinced that the unconscious mind sorts out these cubes while I am sleeping and I consider the possibility that while information is swirling around in my mind couples with the previous two exercises to create some unique and extraordinary ideas. 

It is not uncommon for me to wake up with a sudden wealth of inspiration that is totally unrelated to the thoughts in my mind when I fell asleep. This says to me that my brain is working with more information than I am consciously supplying it. 

This is one reason that I am literally a sponge for incoming information each day. I read about other artists, I observe technique, but I jump out of the arts also to study and learn about other things. It is not rare in my studio to have a documentary going on in the background while I work. 

The funny thing is, if you were to ask me the details, I may not be able to give you more than a basic explanation of what I heard. The conscious mind is not processing the information, but the unconscious mind is! Its storing all that information up there and my cube exercise is sorting that information and adding to each of the problems its considering. 

I can truly claim that I live and sleep art. I don't wake up hung over and feeling a lack of sleep (at least not from these exercises). I would like to think I feel more alive because it makes me want to get up each day and make what I envisioned. 

The mind is an amazing tool. We take it for granted a lot of times, but it is truly a miracle that we as creators need to acknowledge and feed. The more we feed it, the more it feeds us back. This is the true nature of inspiration. 

I hope this helps you!


Monday, June 29, 2015

An Artists Perception of the Shapeliness of the Universe


The quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure.

The shape often dictates the form.

As a sculptor I am constantly amazed when merely the shape of something creates the art around it. A great example is the hurricane shape. This distinctive swirl is well known. When I create a hurricane piece I often let the shape of the hurricane dictate to me what the piece is meant to be.

You see its very important we as artists sometimes choose the shape first.

Look at a photo of a forest sometime and rather than seeing the forest, see the shape and contour of the landform instead. Transpose the whole piece of art into shape and see how it changes your viewpoints. Then paint the shapes first and see what you get. Some of you may already do this automatically. I know most of the time that I don't even realize I am doing it.

It may be an oddly shaped bowl for sale in a shop or the shape of industrial cranes dancing on the skyline. There are more examples than I can cite.

Today I went down to the banks of the Mississippi River to gather driftwood for a new sculpture and I found myself rather than matching the wood I picked up to the art in my head, instead I chose very distinctive shapes and fashioned the art around them. As I sorted through random piles of wood washed up on the shore, I chose the pieces that spoke to me about shape first.

Take this piece of wood for example.

Even before I picked the piece of wood up my mind instantly started a close examination of the shape. After a moment or two in my hands I'd already formed a nearly complete sculpture around it. Like a flash in my mind I could see this simple piece of driftwood with its exposed roots as a work of art.

Its this inspiration that is most valuable to us as artists. If we pre-plan every single piece of art to the exclusion of all else, we often miss this flash of inspiration that is so crucial. It is our ability to create this flash that makes creators what they are. If you miss the flash you may end up with art still but it will not contain that spark of the soul that inspiration brings.

This is not limited in any way to just sculpture. Every type of art can benefit from understanding shape before form. Take time over the next few days to observe shape in everything around you and see if it doesn't change at least subtly how you create your art. More importantly, see if any ideas jump instantly to mind for art based on those shapes. You may surprise yourself in what you find.

As for me, I'm taking my oddly shaped wood and making a sculpture to challenge my imagination!



Immortal Artist seeks to give a venue for creatives to discuss and show specific pieces of their work. We want to give you a forum to talk about the history and development of specific pieces of art. If you would like more information please check out the following link.

Artist: Eman Elnezami
Location: Egypt
Work of Art: The Soulmate Destination

Click to Enlarge

 OIL PAINTING 12 *16 inch

this is about two BEAUTIFUL perfect soul mates who are alike each other, not only in their features but in the soul as well. Their souls are more beautiful than their faces. Many different emotions and thoughts are conveyed here, optimism being just one!they anticipate the future together smiling without worrying, looking at the same point which you cannot see but they definitely can.

The inner peace flows in with that delicate happiness and gentle smile on both faces. calmness, joy and fun they are experiencing all when they are together. They love to give to others and that is beautifully obvious from the green blossoming around them. The relationship they have or more accurately the soul interaction they are having is deep and phenomenal. It feels like home to them,it feels like being secure,it feels like love,being in harmony with fullness and ,expansion, a growing together,happiness with extreme awareness. It feels like being in a perfect bubble. That gentle touch of  their hair and this nice blend of their souls gives you sense of warmth  and inner joy. 

You can feel a sense of security,responsibility and mutual respect in their way of relying on one another.It is like no one is imposing unless being sure that the other is feeling good and sure about helping at this particular space and time. It is a deliberate conscious choice they made to feel like coming home with each other, to flow freely independently even when they are having the most loving connection and a really good time together. 

What human extreme connection do you have? What deliberate choice will you make or in other words what is your Vow? Has freedom been one of them? What soul level DEEP connection do you have? Did you create something like that yet ? 


The artist has created a special audio to accompany this description. You can listen to it here:

You can view this and other works by the artist at: http://www.artpal.com/emynezamy

You can reach Eman through the following:

Twitter: @emynezamy
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eman-Elnezami/1555001101446954
Soundcloud: Eman Ali

Eman Elnezami

I am a physician, who started using oil painting as my own tool to release stress and HEAL my own inner soul . I believe the emotional art is a bridge between your inner-self and outer appearance. I used them as following; put intention into a painting everyday like motivation and dive into some part for ex the eyes, I see something that motivates me forward.Whatever intention you put, you get . Also being in contact with different people every single day made me carry emotions that are not mine and I needed a channel to get them through, exciting thing happened, every single one of them contains mixed amount of emotions so you will find at least one emotion that you will feel. I paint interactions between people as well, woman and her child, coworkers, friends .These are similar to everyday interactions. Something in common in all my work. You will feel something! I use oil on canvas in all my work. I fell in love with the similarity between emotions of human kind, it is all the same! Instead of feeling the pain inside I strongly believe that you can get them up in front of you seeing, acknowledging and releasing them . Take as much time as you would like in front of them.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Art Marketing - Showing your Work in the Best Light


The total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.

Some of you have asked me about my recent changes to the formatting of my work and why I've changed my marketing tactics. For those that haven't seen it, these are before and after photos.


What I've found in today's social network environment is that people love to look at photos, but they hate to click on links. I think part of the reason for this is because there are so many viruses lurking out there on sites people haven't been to before.

The result for artists is that people love to see their work, but rarely investigate more about the piece they like.

After months of consideration and tinkering with different concepts, I finally decided that I needed to do something specific to counteract this click-phobia.

My art is complicated. It can rarely be described in a few words and I would like to think that the descriptions of how a piece was created is part of the reason people would like to buy it. I keep a pretty comprehensive portfolio that shows any given piece from multiple angles and describes both the materials used and the motivations behind many of the pieces.

But if people are never clicking on the link to see it, well its a waste of time.

I am a firm believer that you must engage a potential buyers imagination in the piece as much as their art sense. When they become emotionally involved in the piece, they are more likely to want to add it to their own life.

So with these things in mind I've changed my own personal marketing to make the most crucial information accessible directly with the photo of the piece. As seen above, all the basics are included in one graphic. I sometimes include a link to the larger portfolio, other times I just let it stand alone on the various social platforms.

I've found the format change is easily manipulated towards my photography prints also as shown here.

It allows for some nice variations while staying within a preset format.

While it is too early to know whether it is an effective art marketing tool, but I will be watching the numbers closely and tweaking the concept as I go along

Now there is an extension of this formula that I am also exploring. Some of you know that on Twitter I often share Work in Progress photos of a particular project. Artists can follow along and see how pieces of art go from concept to completion. Its instructional for me because it makes me photograph the art at every stage and observe it closely (I've written on this in other blog articles). By describing different concepts it gives me a better grasp on the processes I am using. And the added benefit is that other artists have the opportunity to observe and offer their own thoughts. As of a few months ago I began keeping all the photos for a particular project under a specific hashtag allowing a follower to go back and look at a hashtag stream and see all the work in one place.

Their are two problems with this system though. First, the 140 character limit on Twitter does not always allow for a comprehensive explanation of techniques being used. To explain over multiple Tweets can sometimes lend to confusion even using the hashtag system. Second it makes it very difficult to share the information on other social networks. A Tweet can be cut and pasted but it has to be reformatted to make any sense off the Twitter platform.

The result is that I rarely share work in progress photos on other social networks. And while I think Twitter is one of the best out there and my primary interaction area, I still feel like I am disenfranchising other artists by not sharing in other places.

So as of tonight as I begin a new sculpture in the Dark Shadows Forest series I began using the above formatting techniques to show the Work in Progress Photos.

After this first panel I will number them in sequence as each one is added. It gives me more room to pontificate on various projects and I would like to think looks a lot more professional. Now with only a few words typed on the various social networks I can include the photo and still keep to my hashtag rule while sharing a whole lot more information with the viewer.

It is possible that it not only is it beneficial to other artists and to my own art, that it may also bring in potential viewers who may also become purchasers later on. They are more engaged in the art because they get to participate in its creation in a way.

In today's art environment it is crucial that we learn to create a unique niche for ourselves and take advantage of every marketing tool we can. Most of us will never find the golden ticket that makes our work sell but we CAN take steps to get ourselves seen. I hope this helps. Dig around in my blog. There are lots more.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Artists Phobias - What happens if I run out of ideas???

"Creatiphobia - The fear of running out of ideas for creative projects including art, music and writing. Also known as Writers Block in writers circles"
Creative folk seem to suffer from all manner of interesting and unique phobias. What I call Creatiphobia (which may well have a truly technical term out there somewhere) is something I hear about from a lot of artists. That creeping fear that you are going to run out of new ideas for your art. That "Oh god" moment where you think this may be the last thing you create because its the best and nothing can outdo it so you might as well close up your studio and become a dog walker.

Depression plays a big part in this fear. When we get depressed we lose our ability to grasp at new ideas and turn them into reality. This is exactly why an artist should never give in to the temptation of depression to stop your work and just huddle on your couch eating ice cream and watching Oprah.

This crucial time may not generate any useful ideas, but just the mere act of creating will raise you out of the depression and set your feet back on the creative path.

Fear that you've stumbled on the last great idea can be eased if you just look around you and realize all the ideas you have generated already.

As an artist, I don't suffer from this one too often. I admit I also have that little insidious voice way in the back of my head that says "you better write that idea down for those lean days".

But in fact I think I suffer from the exact opposite most of the time. Lets call it "a ridiculous amount of ideas that the artist in no way can ever accomplish-a-phobia"

But for many artists the worry of lack of ideas is a truly horrible thing. It can freeze you in your tracks and even when you think of something, you doubt its any good. In cases like this I always suggest that you write the idea down anyway because it may be better than you think at the time or it may be possible to morph it into something better.

No idea is truly a bad idea. It may be that you don't have the skills to implement it, or the resources or the time. But that doesn't mean its useless.

I hear a lot of artists say that their most popular pieces were creations made without any ideas at all. They were either experimenting with technique or just playing around. This says a lot to me about how sometimes ideas can bog us down. We forget about the pure force of our creativity and how to just have fun with it.

A friend and fellow artist recently wrote an article which I posted to the blog about this called "Artists Must Play". She makes some great points about the artist at play.

I suppose the bottom line is, don't worry about running out of ideas because it just won't happen. Don't let that voice inside your head tell you differently even when your at your lowest. Every form of block can be overcome if you just relax and have fun. The ideas will start to flow again.

We are idea people. Its our tool in trade and if we beat ourselves up with it, we will not produce. When we relax, the ideas flow like water and we create great things.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

ARTISTS MUST PLAY - Commentary by Artist Rosie Hartman

Immortal Artist seeks to give a venue for creatives to discuss and show specific pieces of their work. We want to give you a forum to talk about the history and development of specific pieces of art. If you would like more information please check out the following link.


“All real works of art look as though they were created in joy” 
~Robert Henri~

Experimenting when I create brings me joy. I like to think of it as playing rather than experimenting. I like to play with colors, mediums and styles. My best art comes from techniques I found while playing around. The challenge for many artists is getting out of their box. 

I know your first thought might be, but I am an artist and I have no box. We all have a box. I just tend to lean towards the biggest sandbox I can find. When that sandbox becomes too small I add on to it. This is what it means to explore styles and mediums.

To experience more is to have a bigger box. To play around makes your box a sandbox. This is one very basic part of my creative process. I started out as a photographer. I am no so deep into mixed media there are times I am not even sure where the camera fits in at times. I got this way by trial and error.

Recently, my sandbox expanded with watercolors. Once I got the hang of watercolors, I began to wonder how they would react with acrylic paints. The picture you see above is one of my final results. It was not enough that I mix the two types of paints. I mixed in several different styles of painting as well. I had a layer of minimalist, a layer of cubist, a layer of pure abstract and finally a few layers of water color. During each phase I painted color on and then peeled it off again with different materials. These materials included paper towel, newspaper, towels and wet brushes. I played with layer upon layer upon layer. This single painting of playing around taught me more than any book I have read and more than any technique I have been shown. 

It is in the experiences of doing and playing that artists can learn so much. I am not even about to say let your inner child play. In all reality, the adult me gets how to play much better than the child me ever did. Go out today and add to your sandbox for no other reason than to let your adult self play.

Please let me know how you play around @RosieHartmann on twitter!  You can find my website at www.rosiehartmann.com 

The Voice of the Poor Artist is Only Heard Through Their Work

[joo r-ee] 

A group of persons chosen to adjudge prizes, awards, etc., as in a competition.

Click to Enlarge

I was recently pleased to find out that the New Orleans Photo Alliance was running a juried competition for photographic pieces related to Hurricane Katrina. As I have a large body of work relating to this subject and I've worked with the Photo Alliance in the past, I eagerly read through the competition information ready to submit several pieces to it. Until I came to the $35.00 submission fee.

Now many of you might think, well $35.00 isn't that much. In fact I could budget for the submission fee and enter it. But you know, the simple fact is that a lot of artists/photographers can't.

There are more than a few literally "poor starving artists" out there who have talent that should not be overlooked just because the artists cannot afford a submission fee.

There are a lot of good organizations out there, the Photo Alliance is one of them. I am not blind to the fact that these organizations often run on shoestring budgets themselves. But penalizing the artists with submission fees does not seem to me to be the wisest idea. It immediately eliminates the artist who struggles just to make it through each day while creating their work.

A few months back I wrote an article on art competitions becoming nothing more than what amounts to popularity contests instead of focusing on the art. Well juried competitions are still one of the true venues that allows an artist to submit their work solely on the value of that work and not how popular the artist is or isn't.

I have undying respect for the juried system. I think it allows artists to be seen on their merits in a way that many of today's art contests do not allow. But, if the artists who need it the most are never able to enter into the competition then whats it for?

So is there a solution to this? How do we tackle the problem so that it is fair for both the organization putting on the competition and the artist that would like to participate in it?

I think first of all that the fees need to come down if charged at all. $25 - $50 is the average right now and that continues to go up.

Second I think the organizations need to fund themselves more on door entry fees rather than artists fees. Some would argue that this eliminates an audience for the artists because the patrons won't pay. But wouldn't it be wiser to charge the artist and the patrons just a bit? If you charge each $10 then that defers the costs for the artists just a bit.

Third I think we need to get creative about at the venue level. Rather than charging an artist a fee to submit, what if you charge the artist with creating one item that can in turn be sold at the venue with the proceeds of that sale going directly back to the venue itself?

The problem is that we get lazy. Its easier and less hassle to just charge the artist. But if we think creatively, there are dozens of ways to defer the cost directly off the artist.

What if the artist (if its a local competition) is required to volunteer a set number of hours at the venue? What if, part of the competition involves patrons viewing the art and voting for a particular piece by placing a single dollar bill in a box next to each piece? The most dollar bills is part of the judging criteria for the competition.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head while writing this article. If I set my mind to it I think I could come up with a list of at least 20 different ways to raise needed funds for the venue while not shafting the artist.

Again the problem is that the venue wants as little work involved as possible. But if you want your venue to be successful then you put some time and energy and creativity into making the even as unique as possible. After all, this is about CREATIVITY!

If you are a creative outlet (gallery, arts organization, etc) why one earth would you not utilize creativity as part of your marketing plan in the first place? Creativity sells! We know it for a fact.

Now a last word. I am not picking on the amazing organizations that help support artists through juried competitions. And I am definitely not picking on the New Orleans Photography Alliance whom I have had the pleasure of volunteering for in the past and continue to support all they do for the photography community.

What I am trying to do is change the paradigm for the whole damned art world and how artists and sellers interact and promote each other. There has to be a better way and it will only change through the participation of all involved to make it change.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Of Art, Mourning & Celebration - The Therapeutic Art of Hurricane Katrina

I've spoken often in the past months of my need to create art surrounding Hurricane Katrina's 10th anniversary. I won't post links to previous posts because honestly there are many of them.

As I've been developing both the photo series and the paintings, I've gone as far as to establish a small indoor shrine within my studio which some of the Hurricane Paintings sit behind.

Its been important to me in a way that I can't quite express. I am not a religious person. I do not do this out of a need or comfort of any god or goddess. I do it out of a need to place a higher part of me on a level with the spiritual aspects of the storm and the people involved in it. In some ways its like reaching out to touch that mass of confusion that the storm created and calm it and stop its pain. I cannot express it any better than that.

I can say though that so far its been a summer of learning that I expect will continue straight through until the anniversary on the 29th of August.

Tonight I took it one step further. On the small porch in front of our studio/home I designed a second shrine.

This one is more public. It can be seen from the street and I plan to make it an evolving project throughout the summer. I've designed it to allow for others to place candles on it or to leave tokens beneath it in memorial. It is important to me to have a place in which to do so. 

Some of the art will no doubt be displayed upon it throughout the summer months. 

Its fascinating to me to see how people are coping with this and how I am coping myself. I suspect that there will be other shrines and altars discreetly placed around the city. New Orleans is known for such things. For St Joseph's day, a Catholic holiday that most don't even realize exists, there is an abundance of altars placed around the area in public spaces and private homes. Meals are offered and shared on that day with total strangers and homes are opened with grateful heart. 

I think perhaps I would like to see something like that happen in the future for Katrina. A celebration rather than a mourning. Perhaps that is what this is all about. The summer will tell. 

Your thoughts are always welcome.


For those interested, here are the links to the three Katrina Portrait series. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

There is no Santa Claus Franklin Graham

My Dear Children, (Franklin Graham, Bryan Fischer, Glen Beck, Rick Santorum, Pat Robertson, Gordon Klingenschmitt, Coach Daubenmire, Brian Brown, Scott Lively, etc)

I have some sad news for you, but I think you've grown up enough to accept it.

I'm afraid there is no Santa Clause. Everything you believe in your storybooks is not real. I wish it was, perhaps the world would be a nicer place, but it is just not so.

Its time to grow up children. Its time to start respecting others even if they don't see the world as you do. Its time to set aside your temper tantrums and claims that the world is only as you see it. Its time to realize that the books you read are not the only books there are.

I know it makes you mad. I know you want to jump up and down on the steps of the Supreme Court and throw a fit. But your becoming adults now and its time to act like it. If you look around you will discover that you don't really need those childhood fantasies anymore. There is plenty to experience and take joy in if you search for it.

Now it won't be easy. Others look up to each of you. They trust what you tell them even if its not real. So now is the time to be a true adult and help those who are not as wise as you.

I know you will want to stomp off now and whine about how unjust the world is. But I know deep down inside you know what I am telling you is the truth.

The simple fact is children, that all the things that faerie tale tells you, are really right inside of you. Your not losing your ability to laugh, love or treat others respectfully and with honor.

Your no longer relying on a fable in order to be good throughout the year. Your relying on yourself now and that is by far the noblest thing you can do as a human being.

With Love,
Your Father

The Forgetful Artist - Memory and Art


The mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, impressions, etc., or of recalling or recognizing previous experiences.

There is so much I don't know. And so much I do know if I just took the time to think about it.

I've made forgetfulness an art form. I stumbled upon the idea actually of actually training myself to forget techniques that I've learned. Now why on earth would I want to do that?

Its simple really. When I forget a technique and relearn it later, it returns in a different way. I do not allow a technique to take root in my head so completely that I fall into a pattern of creativity that excludes everything else.

A lot of artists learn something new and that's where they remain. They find a comfort level in repeating the same technique in slight variations over and over. I'm not putting that down, believe me I think there are benefits to learning something and then exercising it over and over again. I'm just not one of them!

I am truly an experimental artist in every fiber of my being. I revel in a piece of art so challenging and enigmatic that it is almost beyond my grasp to create it.

I think there is some evidence to support that other artist throughout history have done both. If you look at an artists like Edgar Degas he devoted his life to repeating and repeating the same techniques until he had mastered them absolutely. And in many cases even the same subject matter such as the ballet dancers. But if you look at Pablo Picasso you see a constant attraction towards experimentation in sculpting, printmaking, painting, and even stage design and poetry.

He was never satisfied to remain in one zone. I doubt he even cared what he remembered from early on as long as he could try something new.

The advantage of this philosophy of art is that nothing ever gets stagnant. By releasing my grip on trying to remember everything I learned in a particular phase of my art, I am willing and even eager to discover it once again and create something totally new and different with the newly re-found information.

I suspect that this is one reason that some artists go through what we term "periods". Picasso was well known for this. His "blue period" for example lasted 4 years between 1900 and 1904 and he is well known for the work he created in this period. It was followed in short order by his "rose period" and so on and so forth till his death.

This constant rediscovery is healthy for an artist. It challenges us and keeps us from growing stagnant. It teaches us old things in a new way and forces our minds to think in totally new ways.

I'm not advocating that artists seek to forget everything they know. I don't think it can work that way. But forgetting the key details about technique I think is healthy.

I admit here that one of my biggest phobias in life is worrying about Alzheimer's. It does not run in my family, but it is such an insidious disease that takes peoples minds that I cannot help but fear it, especially as I grow older.

I read of a study once done on Nuns. The study was looking at memory in Nuns who had been in convent for most of their lives. And an odd thing came from that study. They found the Nuns who did the crossword puzzle in the newpaper each day showed little to no signs of memory loss.

I can't help but think that constantly exercising the mind is much like building a levee against memory loss. You would think that my purposeful forgetting would be dangerous to someone who fears Alzheimer's but I think the opposite might apply. I think by constantly challenging my mind to learn new things and relearn old might be just what is needed to stop the process of permanent memory loss.

Who can say for sure. All I know is that this works for me and my art and hopefully my mind in old age.
Of course I always have my past pieces to guide me and remind me again, so nothing is ever totally lost. Merely misplaced.

Just a thought...


Friday, June 12, 2015

Making Them Come to You - Bringing the Audience to the Artist

[pruh-moh-shuh n] 

Something devised to publicize or advertise a product, cause, institution, etc., as a brochure, free sample, poster, television or radio commercial, or personal appearance.

A lot of us just sit and wait. Hoping against hope that our art will be noticed by someone of importance and we will skyrocket to fame and fortune. I'm sorry to say but it may happen to 1 in 50,000 and I almost guarantee you won't be that 1.

I know that sounds harsh, but while many of us live in our artistic happy place, there are still rules that apply to us. One of those rules is that fate rarely falls on us and claims us for greatness.

Those that reach that pinnacle rarely did so by luck or chance. It came from hard work and dedication to the task. It also comes from making the audience come to you, rather than you to them.

Let me give you an example. You want to sell your art in Gallery OhMy. Its perfect for your type of artistry. So you start soliciting them. Some galleries have a specific time of year where they will look at new artists portfolios. Some do it as time permits. Some don't do it at all. So you send Gallery OhMy examples of your work. They ignore you. So you send more. They ignore you some more. Then you start writing begging letters expressing how much your work matches their clientele and won't they just take a short look at your work. More ignoring, more teeth gnashing, more letter writing. You may even start going to the gallery, first as a harmless visitor, then more aggressively, seeking out the manager or owner. In the end the gallery hates your guts and wants nothing to do with you and you've achieved NOTHING.

So what did you do wrong? You went to them instead of them coming to you.

My partner put it very aptly (if perhaps a bit crass). "You don't win friends by forcing them to suck your dick. You win friends by sucking theirs". In other words, you don't get the gallery to be friendly with you by forcing yourself on them. You have to make them come to you.

"Well that's impossible!" you say. But your not thinking in terms of today's social networking. Fully 75% of the galleries in the world are also part of a social network. They use it to promote their shows, their artists, their receptions, etc. And there is nothing that a business likes better than free publicity.

So lets go back to our example and reverse the scenario. You want to sell your art in Gallery OhMy.

First step RESEARCH. What are they doing? Who are their current artists? What do they tend to specialize in? Whats the general price range for their art? Perhaps (if you are local to them) you attend several of their openings and see first hand what they do for their artists. Never, and I mean NEVER while attending these soirees do you approach the owner, or even mention that you are also an artist. You are polite to the extreme. Then you leave.

Second step, PROMOTION. If you've done your research you already know what social networks they frequent. Lets use Twitter for our example. You know that #GalleryOhMy is active and tweets out at least a few times a week. Now you begin to watch. You see that they have another Reception for an artist happening in a month. So you begin to tweet that out. You never show your work, you never bother the owners. You merely tweet out a message similar to this:

Congratulations @GalleryOhMy on your upcoming gallery reception! Hope its a success! :)

The next tweet you send out may include the name of one of the artists being shown at the reception. Another tweet may include a local news article about the upcoming show.

Now you stop. You don't overload them with tweets. Thats almost as bad as calling them ten times a day. All you want to do is make them notice you. A tweet here, a tweet there.

This is not about fast results. This is about slow methodical and very logical steps to get where you want to go. A month later the gallery is hosting a special exhibition, you again take steps to promote them.

So how do you know its doing any good? Honestly, you often don't. But its much better than harassing the gallery endlessly and gaining nothing but a bad reputation. A good sign is if the gallery starts following you. That means they respect you enough to start paying a small bit of attention to you. Another good sign is if they occasionally retweet you. That means they like what your saying or what your making.

Remember though that the key to a good feed on any social network is a blend of posts. If you spend all your time just self promoting you will quickly lose your audience. That includes galleries. A feed that is informative, helpful, resourceful and also promotes other artists and events, shows that you are not just "all about you".

Galleries aren't stupid. These people make art their business and they know a fraud.  But if you are patient and you work the system and work the information necessary to be successful you will eventually yield results.

So with those things in mind, start bringing potential buyers to you also. Use the same techniques above. Say your art is priced in the $500 - $1,000 range. You know that Harry Homeowner probably isn't going to buy a whole lot of high priced art. But Doctor Harry just might. He may not just purchase it for his home but his office. Jane the Banker might be a collector of art. You wont ever know for sure who buys what, in fact thats what a good gallery should be doing. But short of that there are ways to gain the attention of these folks.

Again the key is research. Your local newspaper is a vast resources of potential buyers. It lists people who are being honored for various business reasons, awards to local leaders, even in some cases promotions to higher positions within companies. Corporate websites will also tell you these things.

So you check if the person is active on a social network. Hey, theres #DrHarryObGyn! The newspaper says Dr Harry just opened a new office on the south side of town.

Congratulations #DrHarryObGyn on your new office! 

These won't be frequent, but say you know that Dr Frank works in the same office as Dr Harry and Dr Franks wife just had a baby.

Welcome to the world baby #DrFrank and parents! Good luck with college tuition! (OK maybe not the tuition part)

Now you've hit two high paying doctors in a polite and sensitive way who also know each other. While it may never come up in conversation between them, it just might. If Dr Harry follows Dr Franks feed, then it ups your chances of discovery.

So in conclusion, I re-emphasize, MAKE THE AUDIENCE COME TO YOU. But let me also stress that sincerity is paramount to success. If you start tossing out messages to people that are trite and without thought then you just gonna get blocked. You have to be sincere, honest and not make a nuisance of yourself. If may take years to get noticed, but that's better than never being noticed at all.

Hey, you wanted to be an artist. You want to sell your art then this is what it takes!


PS: If you've not read my article on information and social networks, you might want to check it out. It goes hand in hand with this article!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Driven Artist - Compulsive Creativity


To send, expel, or otherwise cause to move by force or compulsion:

Tonight is a low night. There is no real reason. It wasn't a stressful day. There was no major crisis to deal with. I got rest.

There is no excuse except to say we all get tired. We feel our creativity ebb. We realize we can't do it all even if we wish we could.

But I come away from these low nights feeling guilty, as if I did not meet my potential for the day.

The driven artist strives to achieve something every moment of the day. I know for me that if I am not creating art, I am considering art, doing art maintenance, or at the very least thinking about that next project. I drive myself needlessly at times until I am so exhausted that I can't see straight.

Even on a low night I've still achieved a mad amount. I can't seem to help myself. This is probably not a healthy thing to never take any time off. I think I dwell on it more when my energy is off. When its not and I'm in the groove I don't have time to think about such things. I just go and go as long as I can manage.

Drive doesn't necessarily mean success. I think we get the two confused. Or perhaps its our own warped perspective of what success entails. In today's world, you are not an artist unless you are a successful artist. I know some would disagree with this. But I can't tell you how many times people have said to me "Gee you must sell a lot of stuff!" When I reply "no, not really" they shake their heads as if to say "why the hell are you doing it then?". Why bother if your not gaining anything from it. But I am gaining something from it. It motivates me, drives me, forces me to get up each day. Makes me happy.

And that's the crux of the matter. We are not supposed to be happy doing work. Work is supposed to be grueling and mind numbing. But how do we define a life well lived? Is it by how much money we made? Or is it by how much we achieved and gave back to the world?

We are driven for all the wrong reasons.

I admit that I sometimes think I may burn myself out early. I suppose on low nights such as this, that is the basic fear that arises like a wolf at the door. Yet it doesn't stop me. I doubt it stops anyone that's driven to the extent of ignoring their health and rarely taking any of the relaxation that most crave.

Perhaps it is best to not dwell on such things. Such are the habits of a compulsive creator. We ignore everything else in our pursuit of the ultimate creation.

I think society has to have this kind of personality. There must be people in the world that push to the utter extremes regardless of the cost.

Then again I may just be a nut. Who can say for sure?


Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Inescapable Truth of Art


Internal reality. Intentness on internal thoughts.

No matter how much we would like our work to be adored by everyone, it is an inescapable reality of the art world that every piece you create will only be embraced by a few. And in fact will be hated by an equal if not greater number of people.

This is merely a truth that art is completely and totally subjective. But those few who do embrace any given piece are your fans for life and the ones that are worth creating for.

So why am I laboring this point? Its because I see many artists that spend their careers trying to find that magic formula for the perfect piece of art. They waste their potential trying out different things that might sell to the public rather than focusing their effort inwardly. Once an artist escapes from this delusion that they can be another Da Vinci, the they can get down to business creating true masterpieces that come from deep within themselves.

"But I like my work to sell". Sure, we all do. Art that sits in an attic after I make it, is one of my biggest nightmares. Art should always be seen. But when you put all your focus into selling and little to none of the creative process itself, then your work is no better than a mass produced piece of art you find in a Walmart.

Time and again I hear from artists how they tried and tried to sell their work and when they finally gave up on trying to sell it and said to themselves "I'll just make art that makes me happy from now on." Well suddenly their work began selling.

Even worse are the artists who say "I'll never be a successful artist because my work doesn't sell, I give up". And they do. They put aside their skills and their paints and they move on to something else rather than realizing that if they just stopped forcing it, they might just find their work becomes very popular.

Now its easy to say this when you are a poor starving artist. Believe me, I've been there! And still am quite often. But being a poor artist can often be what makes you a master of your craft. It makes us lean and hungry and forces us to take chances we otherwise wouldn't. Have you ever noticed those artists who have plenty of money and can just do what they want? I think many of them lose their edge. It becomes a hobby rather than a career. Their work is good, but its missing an essential element that turns it into a masterpiece.

So striving for success is good. But when your whole focus is on the selling and not the creating, you lose yourself in the business of art and ultimately fail.  When you shatter the illusion that you the worlds greatest gift to the art world and everything you make is covered in rainbows and fairy dust, then you can get down to the business of creating. When you stop trying to create for the masses and start creating for the one (you), then you may be surprised who suddenly finds your work irresistible.


Monday, June 1, 2015

When Tradition Leads to Stagnation - Going from Simple Artist to Master Artisan

Tradition can be good. It can show us our roots, guide us in decisions for the future and remind us of those that went before us.

But tradition (despite what many claim) can also be a bad thing. If we rely too much on the past then we never create anything new.

Let me give you an example. Here in New Orleans we have Mardi Gras. This is no simple thing. It lasts weeks and envelopes the whole city in the carnival tradition. Parts are simply amazing and they have their roots going back years.

In the 1950's the tradition of the gay carnival krewes began. These were autonomous groups that really didn't have a place in the mainstream of Carnival tradition. They broke with that tradition and formed their own groups. Since then the gay krewes have held their own events culminating each year in gala Balls.

This was where tradition did not serve a purpose and someone thought, "lets break with tradition and do something new". It worked. For 50 years the gay carnival groups have created their own traditions. Today there are multiple gay krewes in the New Orleans area.

But tradition is now killing these groups. They have become moribund, relying on the old traditions they themselves created to the point where year after year a half dozen of these groups do the same exact thing over and over again. There is little to no change in their traditions. Their turnout for their Balls and fundraising events throughout the year is growing less and less to the point where the oldest of these groups the Petronius Krewe was not even able to put on their Ball this past season. Tradition is killing these amazing groups and no one seems to be doing anything to stop it.

I use this as my example because it shows how "tradition" can work both in the favor of and against the goals of persons involved.

We get so caught up in tradition that we forget there are other ways to do things.

Artists are particularly susceptible to this. Once we find our niche we become stagnant, always relying on what worked for us as an artist in the past. Our skill levels become moribund  and with it our imaginations. We stop thinking new thoughts and our art reflects it. Even worse are the artists that see the success another artist has with technique and mimics it in their own work because well it makes us money.

Here in New Orleans we have an amazing artist named James Michaelopoulos. His work most known to the public are of surrealistic French Quarter buildings painted in gaudy beautiful colors. The buildings are canted at an angle in a distinctively Michaelopoulos way.

I know James and I've had the pleasure to visit his massive warehouse sized studio on many occasions and I was always taken by the fact that this man who is known for these canted buildings was not stuck in his own tradition. His studio is a plethora of sculptures and projects and even has a stage set up so others can create performance art in the space.

Yet, if you take a stroll in the French Quarter along Royal Street you will see at least a dozen copycat artists, trying to make the same exact art that James makes. "WOW that makes money! Lets copy his style and make some too!" These artists are lost in another artists tradition and have lost the point of creating their own distinct style of work. And while I know none of these artists personally I must honestly say I have nothing but contempt for them. They are stagnant and have lost the true path towards greatness on their own.

While it is OK for an artist to find his/her own style such as Michaelopoulos did, it is not OK to allow yourself to rely totally on that style. For every new skill you acquire, it can only strengthen your original style. Look at any great master and you will see that they never ever let their work stagnate. They were always questing out for something new, some new mountain they could conquer with their art, and it was this that gave them the right to be called a "Master".

Its difficult sometimes to see the true masterpiece we create through the individual brushstrokes we paint, but it is far more satisfying to step back and marvel that we created something new rather than stepping back and saying, its just like all the others we've created.