Art Nouveau Sep22

Art Nouveau

Inspired by the natural world with its “whiplash” curves and flowing lines, Art Nouveau emerged on the art scene around the 1880s. A product of the Arts and Crafts and the design reform movement mentioned in my article Crossing the Lines — Art vs. Craft, Art Nouveau encompassed a style used in almost every art form. From architecture to jewelry, furniture to graphic design, applied arts to interior design this new art movement attained worldwide popularity. Artists of this genre, attempted to accomplish a fusion of art and craft. Art Nouveau drew upon nature as its primary source of inspiration, while incorporating elements from the ornate French Rococo style and from Japanese art (or japonisme) just as trading rights were established with Japan and the western world experienced an influx of Japanese prints. Subject matter depicted organic imagery (flowers, leaves, seashells, etc.), women, or fantasy with a subtle erotic undertone. Known by several different names as this style spread across the globe, this “new art” movement was first mentioned in the Belgian journal “L’Art Modern”, describing artwork  from twenty painters and sculptors known as Les Vingt, who had shifted their emphasis from impressionism to this more stylized, symbolic art style. A Paris art dealer, Siegfried Bing, then popularized this movement after opening a gallery called “L’Art Nouveau” exhibiting pieces of contemporary décor for public purchase. Art Nouveau gained more widespread popularity as periodicals, product packaging and poster art featured works by graphic artists like Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha. Art Nouveau became culturally embedded and ubiquitous. Some might be more familiar with this style by a few of its other names, “Style Jules Verne”, as it was known in Paris, captured the imagination of the populace at the 1900 Exposition Universelle or World’s...

French Impressionists Sep15

French Impressionists...

I find it difficult to think of the French Impressionist painters as radical, mainly because I find their style of art peaceful to view, often creating a feeling of serenity in my mind. But in their time (late 19th C.) , the French Impressionists were busting out of the conventional rules for art and experiencing their passion for the moment; a single instant in time where light and shadow affected the world as they saw it. They discarded detail and realism, opting for feeling—an “impression” of that particular moment in time. “How can this be? This is not art!” the people cried. “How barbaric to paint en plein air! Where is the realism? Where are the somber colors? Where are the distinguished themes? Ye gads! Are those brush strokes I see?” Needless to say, the critics were unreceptive to this new style. One critic, Louis Leroy, scornfully charged Monet’s Impression, soleil levant with being an unfinished work or “impression” and the name for the new art movement was coined. Despite the harsh criticism, Impressionists like Cézanne, Monet, Renoir, and others persevered, creating unique works of art that captured candid moments in time; their quick brush strokes of unblended color recreating what the eye sees instead of what the brain interprets. Works like Monet’s Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son and Renoir’s Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette  are examples of how these Impressionists captured the moment with their paint brush. Eventually this new style gained public favor, but for a time these artists were revolutionaries, freed from the boundaries of traditional painting, encouraging more spontaneity in the field of art and making way for a more avant-garde painting style in the years to come. In their time, the French...

Inspiration Sep08

Inspiration

As an artist, I have learned that inspiration can come from anywhere. That’s why I think it’s important to balance your play time with your work hours. To be creative, you need to open yourself up to new people, new places, new experiences and gain input, so that your creative well keeps flowing. Too many times I’ve seen artists get stuck in a rut and become uninspired. They can’t think of anything new because they themselves aren’t inspired. “Because of our routines we forget that life is an ongoing adventure.” — Maya Angelou As a graphic designer, I’m constantly hit with clients needing creative ideas. If I let myself, I could work 24/7 and never come up for air. Experience has taught me that if I did this, eventually I would run out of ideas and suffer burn out. This is why I make sure that I schedule in enough play time to fill the well. I can’t be a good source for creative ideas, when I never do anything new to inspire me. For me, play time encompasses many different events. I don’t actually have to be “at play”. I can be inspired just going to a fabric store and looking at all the fabric. Color and pattern surround me in a way that is different for the average fabric shopper. I get inspired by the artwork these fabric artists have created and mentally store away the visual find. The same holds true with a walk in the park or a trip to the beach. Nature is my visual artist and I draw inspiration from its artwork. The pattern of petals on a flower, the color of the changing leaves in fall, almost anything can be my inspiration. People and places can also...

Negative Space: To boldly go where nothing has gone before Aug18

Negative Space: To boldly go where nothing has gone before...

If you’re an artist, you’re consciously aware of the space around and in between the subject(s) of your artwork. You’re intentionally leaving unused space in the composition. This space is often referred to as negative or white space. Creatively used, negative space can generate a visual element all of its own. We have all seen the work of M. C. Escher and his intricate drawings showing negative space in action. In the linked image, you see a symmetrical pattern of bats, but if you focus on the white space; it’s a symmetrical pattern of angels. Each composition is its own pattern, depending on if you’re focusing on the subject or the white space the subject created. Escher is the master of negative space. When negative space is used as a secondary visual composition, it can create tension or act as a stimulus in the composition, capturing the viewer’s attention and drawing them deeper into the composition. Another good example of this can be seen in company logos where the designer’s use of negative space creates a subliminal message, alluding to the marketing message or emphasizing a product’s asset. If you focus on the negative space between the E and the x in the FedEx logo to the right, you’ll see an arrow, subliminally creating a message of motion or direction. But negative space can also be used as a pause in the action. A place for the eye to rest; take in what has been seen before moving to the next place along the visual path. In design, this space is just as important as the elements of the composition. As avid consumers, we constantly want to fill in every available open space with content, unaware that we’re creating visual clutter that over-stimulates the...

Show Your Appreciation for Art Aug11

Show Your Appreciation for Art...

Most of us know a musician. We may even know someone who writes, or have a friend who creates artwork of some type. We don’t generally think of them as artists though. Bob may work at the factory and play drums in his band in the evenings. Sarah is a tour guide for a museum even though her artwork could be hanging on the very walls where she works. Sam writes his novel at home, working at the local coffee shop each morning to earn a living while he waits for his latest work to become a best seller. When we think of these friends, we generally associate them with the job that pays the bills. There are very few artists who can actually live off of what they earn by creating. Some would argue that’s because they’re not good enough artists, but I disagree. From what I’ve seen, their work is exceptional,  just not well-known, or maybe well-valued is a better term, by the masses. The only difference I would say is that those who are more famous, have better marketing people helping them succeed at their chosen career. And for that they pay a percentage to their agent, or publicist or manager, because… people do not work for free. And yet, many seem to think that artists should have to struggle financially for their art. Everyone knows the phrase “starving artist” yet no one seems to think it odd that artists have to work more than one job just to survive. Surely it can’t be because their work is mediocre, because I’ve known many a mediocre waitress, plumber, or lawyer and they seem to only need one job. What is it, as a culture that makes us not value art? Is it...

A World Without The Arts Aug04

A World Without The Arts...

Try to imagine if you will, a world without art. No music, no theater, no books to read other than those that teach you math and science. Your walls are blank; nothing hangs in your home to stimulate your visual senses other than possibly a clock to tell time or a certificate saying you’re accomplished at some task. Every building looks the same, made from the same mold, as architecture is mainly for function, form has no consideration. Every car looks the same; every piece of clothing, utilitarian. The world lacks imagination, for creativity has been starved out of existence. I for one, find this imagining an unpleasant task to accomplish. The thought is so repulsive that my imagination rebels and I find myself not wanting to venture down that path. For weeks now, I’ve been trying to write a fictional story on just this topic, but the words will not form. In the telling of this story, I wanted people to discover just how important the Arts are to humanity. Every day, we take for granted the creative stimulus that helps us become more interesting, more inventive, more diverse people and yet every day, we lose the very incentive that nurtures our creativity. It’s the first thing that’s cut in school programs when the budgets are overtaxed. Art, music, theater; they are expendable, those in power say. But are they? How inventive would this world be without creativity? To quote Albert Einstein, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”  But where would imagination be without the creative forces that stimulate it? Would it wither and die, leaving us a world so drab and boring that nothing would inspire us to create? Would we only be able to...

Crossing the Lines — Art vs. Craft Jul21

Crossing the Lines — Art vs. Craft...

These two terms have been known to be lumped together at times, but there is a difference between Art and Craft. While Craft generally refers to creations made for utilitarian purpose, Art is primarily created for aesthetics or contemplation; or to quote the philosopher Immanuel Kant, “Objects of art are intrinsically final: they appeal purely at the level of the imagination and no good practical utility, except the cultivation of the human spirit.” That’s not to say that a beautiful piece of jewelry or a finely-crafted rocking chair could not be thought of as a “work of art”, but because it also doubles as a useable piece, it’s placed in the craft category. In contrast, if one were to take a utilitarian piece and make it unusable, it could then be considered Art. Taking it one step further, if said piece displayed the elements and principles discussed in my article, Understanding Art as Art, it would be then be considered Fine Art. In adding the word ‘fine’ to the category, a value is placed on the work of art itself; not stating that Fine Art is valued more highly over Craft. Usefulness can be and often is, considered just as valuable as aesthetics. People often confuse these terms and sometimes feel that Craft isn’t given the spotlight it deserves. In the 18th century, when art underwent a divisional change, Artisans and Craftsmen were categorized as skilled workers, producing quality, functional pieces whereas Artists were categorized as creators of original, one-of-a-kind, expressive objects mainly for aesthetic or contemplative purpose. In the past few decades, we have seen that the line between Art and Craft can easily be crossed. We now see museums exhibiting stunning craftsmanship at its best. An intricately-designed quilt, a finely-painted piece of...

Understanding Art as Art Jul01

Understanding Art as Art...

How does one define art? Merriam Webster defines art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of aesthetic objects”, yet who determines what is visually pleasing to the eye? Art is subjective. What one would consider beautiful, another might feel horribly offended by. So how do we determine what is art and what is not? We look to the basic elements and principles of art. Knowing these, help us understand the criteria by which art is judged. Art Elements The elements of art are the basic components. These elements are line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture. Art is not art without at least one of these elements. Let’s look at each element and define it. Line Line is the most basic element of drawing. Line can be thin or thick, horizontal, vertical or diagonal. It can be zigzag or curvy, long or short, rough or smooth. Line is defined as the mark that spans between two points. Shape/Form Shape or form is defined as the space created by edges that set one space apart from another. Shapes can be geometric or organic. Value Value is lightness versus darkness; shadows versus highlights. Is there a full range of value in the piece? Space Space refers to the areas around, below, above, or between the objects. There is positive space; the shapes of the objects and negative space; the areas created in the empty space between the objects. Color Color is one of the more intricate elements and needs a whole article of its own to define. To keep this article brief, I will just say that color is the use of hue in a work of art. Color has three properties, hue being the first and referring...

Introducing: Len DiSalvo...

Len DiSalvo originally hails from San Jose, CA. He attended San Jose State University and earned his illustration degree before entering the real world, illustrating for print (mostly magazine) and a few years for a small game company in Santa Clara. Len has freelanced on many print projects including greeting cards, temporary tattoos, comics, licensing, etc. In 1999 he moved to Tucson, Arizona where he mainly works as a children’s book illustrator for Lima Bear Press on the series of books called “The Lima Bear Stories” by Tom and Peter Weck. Len also teaches at the Southwest University for Visual Arts (specializing in 2D traditional animation and illustration), and moonlights as a scorekeeper for a company that keeps detailed records of minor league baseball games. We spoke with Len about his experiences in the art field: Why did you choose to go into Illustration? Len: It was always something I wanted to do. I like telling stories and since I had always been into art, it was a natural route for me to take. I do a good amount of editorial/print illustration that allows for storytelling opportunities, especially in children’s books. Animation was also something I wanted to do for the same reasons, and luckily I can cross over into each with no problems. Who is your role model and why? Len: A very good question. I must go with Walt Disney; I will likely never raise myself to his lofty heights, but he was very persistent—he came from nothing, and through all the struggles achieved much. I have great respect for what he and his studio were able to accomplish, as well as the high standards they set and the innovations they created and continue to create. Animation and story telling, as well...

Introducing: FB Kelly...

F.B. Kelly is the pen name under which this married couple and writing team work their magic.  The pair live in Seattle, Washington.  With each partner published individually before they joined forces, they found even more pleasure in working together on crafting stories of magic, whimsy and romance. We spoke with this pair about how they write together and why: How long have you both been writing? Ben:  I think I seriously started dabbling with writing stories since high school.  I was a highly imaginative child and I always told myself stories but it was in high school that I started writing them down. Fiona:  I think I was telling stories at a very young age, usually walking around and enacting them in the back yard.  I was writing a full-fledged ‘novel’ about a space station at the age of nine.  I’m sure it was at least ten pages long.   When did you decide to co-write? Fiona:  We’ve been co-writers for nine years now.  It just sort of happened on a whim one day. Ben:  It started by accident really. Fiona:  But we realized it was really funny and entertaining so we kept doing it.  And then we got married which was pretty serious and then we ended up wondering what to do about our first anniversary present. Ben:  She told me it was paper for year one. Fiona:  So I asked him, ‘You know we have all these stories that we’ve told over the years.  Why don’t we pick the one that seems the most like us and actually put it into print?’ Ben: Having studied design and book layout, I thought ‘Why not?’ It’s something we could do ourselves and I’d discovered lulu.com in art school, so I knew where to...

Introducing: The Dick Peddicord Band...

My first memories of Dick Peddicord are from 1967, when I fell in with his band of gypsies which became known as The American Television Theater Inc., or T.A.T.T.I.  It was a raggle-taggle band, with several drummers, several bass players, and a small army of guitar players.  We soon became known as the band that changed at every performance, since our lineup was constantly morphing, and the loudest bunch in normally quiet downtown Davis, California. Later, I played lap steel with Dr. Dick and his Yolo County Road Show, featuring the Whole Earth Angels, a miniature choir of pretty young ladies under Dick’s watchful eye, and the metaphorical baton of choir director Jack May.  That led to some demo tapes, recorded in San Francisco’s China Town at the Roy Chen Recording Studio, which I produced.  Dick was so pleased with the demos that he hired my band, Osgoode, to produce an entire album of his songs in the relatively new 24-track format.  One of the high points of that album was a completely new version of “Oh Pleasant Hope”, which had already been recorded once by Blue Cheer, and became the title song of the album on which it appeared. Together we played in several other short-lived bands, and after a longish hiatus, started making music together again in early 2011.  We’ve been keeping busy with several CDs of the Dick Peddicord Band since then: first, Change Of Heart, then Savannah, then Castaway, and finally another one which has no name as yet, but is over half finished. Dick currently lives in Ashland, Oregon, and works for the U.S. Census Bureau as a field representative. Having retired from college teaching years ago, his time now is spent on music and family. After receiving a...