Wednesday, October 03, 2007

subjects to blog about and inspirational teachers

Barney Davey on his blog http://barneydavey.blogs.com/printmarket/ gives a long list of things to blog about and I thought it was a pretty good list and worth quoting here:

52 blog topics for artists - Courtesy of Art Print Issues


1. Why I support xyz charity
2. The most inspiring art teacher I have known ..... good one
3. How I came to know being a professional artist was my career path ... talked about this a bit
4. Why I love working with xyz medium ... done that :>)
5. What you can learn from the traveling exhibit at the abc museum ... done that :>)
6. Four galleries I would love to carry my work and why
7. Five contemporary artists whose works inspire and inform me done that
8. Clues to the subtle messages in my work
9. My color palette is (nature/technology/environment) driven and why
10. Ten things they don't teach you in art school
11. How being in the business of art affects my art
12. When I paint, I like to listen to Guns n' Roses/London Philharmonic/Enya/Toby Keith
13. How the other arts influence my work, e.g., how I attempt to interpret the fluidity of a ballerina in my brush stokes
14. Here are blogs by other artists whose work I like, or whose blogs I like done that
15. Art retreats; although you may not get rich and famous, you can still travel and stay at wonderful places. Here are my favorites or fantasies sort of done that
16. How other jobs I've had have added perspective to my art
17. Spirituality is personal, but growth in it has made me a better artist
18. Nine things I want to paint before I stop
19. Why painting en plen air is exhilirating done that
20. Art by other artists I bought in unusual places
21. Visually inspiring day trips around where I live
22. Museums I've visited in other cities and around home done that
23. Art books on my bookshelf done that
24. If I could only recommend one book, art or otherwise, for someone, it would be...
25. How living the creative life has uplifted my spirits and made me a better person
26. Advice for young artists have I done that?
27. Why I love my local galleries and/or the local art scene done that
28. How blogging has stretched me as an artist
29. You can find my art online at these sites, here's why I chose to use them
30. Art magazines I like to read
31. The greatest influence on my life was...
32. Why and how parents should encourage artistic development in their children
33. Some funny experiences either colleagues or I've had at art shows
34. I still can't believe people have asked me these things
35. The five best quotes on art I've ever read
36. How the courage and creativity of some disabled artists have inspired me
37. Here are blogs I enjoy that are not about art
38. Seven ways technology has changed how I make and sell art (Some examples are: Photoshop/digital camera/digital painting/digital printing/Painter/online art sites)
39. I'm grateful because this person came in my life, or because this happened to me
40. Eight reasons I get out of bed to paint everyday are (Suggestions: Let's be honest, I need the money. I'm OCD and can't help it. It's the best job a person could have. A day without painting is like a day without sunshine. I can't stand the thought of going back to the 7-11)
41. And you heard writer's block was difficult
42. How overcoming creative obstacles has made me a better artist
43. So I went to a tradeshow/convention/workshop and the best/funniest/saddest thing happened
44. It's really hard to part with my originals; here's why
45. Five reasons you will like the giclee prints I offer
46. Flowers in my garden make me smile and make me paint done that
47. If I wasn't an artist, I'd be a...'
48. Why faces are so difficult to paint, and hands are tough too
49. The most inspiring movie I've ever seen is...
50. How the arts organizations in my area are helping children/charities/??
51. Why you should always use a docent when you go to a museum. Here are some special things I learned at...
52. How reading the Paintings Prints and Stuff blog has made me smarter, better looking, more creative and much richer >:>D


Peter Clayton recently commissioned to do a series of paintings for a new Cunard liner



Ruth Sumner finalist in the John Moores prize (a very prestigious competition)



So I thought I'd talk about teachers who were really supportive when I started painting again and encouraged me to go back and finish my Fine Art Degree (I'd done the Foundation Year when I left school but didn't carry on - I married and had a family instead).

I started wanting to paint again when my young daughters and I were walking on Dartmoor on a family holiday - we were walking by this beautiful stream tumbling down a steep wooded hillside over rocks - a series of waterfalls and pools with overhanging trees. It was beautiful but I knew that no matter how good my photographs were, they wouldn't say what I wanted about the place. It was just so lovely and the wild yet peaceful atmosphere could be expressed in paint but not so well on film.

I bought some watercolours and had a go - no plein air at that stage. I wasn't brave enough! - or good enough after those years of getting rusty.

When we got home I signed on for a class - which proved to be excrutiatingly boring! I was horrified at how rusty I was. The tuition was good in its way in fairness but not exciting or fun and no passion behind any ideas.

Later I signed on for a class with Pete Clayton - who was great. He taught in a workshop style, letting us choose our own subject matter, suggesting, critiquing, showing us how to improve. The class dynamics were friendly and supportive and he would critique with a really good insight (as did the other tutors mentioned below). He suggested I finish the degree.

I was also doing a very good class with Jenny Welsford - who also quite independently encouraged me to go back to uni .... and eventually I did :>) but Jenny suggested first doing a term with Ruth Sumner who was teaching a class on abstraction, which was brilliant, gave me an insight and understanding that I'd lacked and helped enormously with the challenges thrown at me when I started the degree :>).

None of these teachers wanted us to 'paint like them' - they were developing individuality, self critique and insight, trying to make us really think about our work.

I have a real horror of 'how to' books and teachers - teaching is about the student being capable of original thought based on knowledge gained and copying anothers style doesn't do that. (How To = this is how you paint a tree - as though there is 'a' way for all lights, weathers, seasons ...... !!!)

They were all so positive and enouraging - even when a crit was quite severe it was ok because it was so constructive.

At Uni I was taught by Ruth again - who was now teaching there - and Alan Welsford, husband of Jenny. They were both key tutors in me developing and gaining my degree, supportive through painters-block and a horrible patch - stuffed with new ideas and information but nothing happening right on canvas , pushing me to do better and better and push myself.

Other tutors were good but these 2 were the key ones who helped.

Our drawing tutor in the first year was Andy Hoogenboom - now in the US - a sculptor who did wonderful drawings and was an original member of the Rolling Stones according to popular legend. His drawings of musicians were superb. He was great but took off to the US with an ex student after my first year :>D .

My work isn't like any of these tutors but they all had a profound influence on my development and understanding.

By the final year our crits were in groups of 4 and very intense.

Ruth would choose 4 very very different people and make each one talk about someone elses work - like she made me talk once about someone who was working with green spots on red and red spots on green - HELP!!!!! what to say????? but we'd learnt to get there early and tell each other about our work and the thoughts behind it so we'd be ready! It made you really consider art that you'd otherwise dismiss as not-for-me-thanks. You still may not like it but you'd understand it better and maybe respect it for what it was with that extra insight.

Alan used to refuse to allow the artist being critted to speak 'You are dead' he'd say ' your work is hanging in a gallery and this is how people will respond when you aren't there to explain it' - another useful insight - they 'd come up with some interesting things that you hadn't thought about but were there and some weirdly wrong off the wall stuff sometimes!

One of the nicest things said to me about my work and that meant a lot was Jenny at our degree show coming up to me and saying she'd wondered if she'd still recognise my work and had as it 'still had that lovely fluid line' - wow!!!! I was on cloud 9! I'd retained 'me' whilst learning and really improving and on top of that I won a prize :>D I was walking on air for days!

Good teachers are so important - who was/were/are yours?
.






4 comments:

Sue Smith said...

What an affirming experience. Art reveals such an intimate connection back to the artist -- who she was at that moment, how she saw the world -- the technique is the language we use to better communicate and can always be improved, but it's vital that we not lose that personal voice unique to us.

That said, though, I have always believed that once the art is finished and moves out into the world, it no longer belongs to the artist but to the viewer. I might have tried to say something, but ultimately I can't control how a viewer might wish to interpret the image. And I'm okay with that. It's part of the partnership between the artist and the world. Everyone gets to decide what it means to them.

vivien said...

very true - I love KJ's work - but what I read into it and get out of it may vary considerably from his main concerns.

It's fascinating when you hear the insights other people read into your work - sometimes it's stuff that was subconscious and it is there and was meant to be - but you hadn't done it at a conscious level. Not very clearly put but you know what I mean!

And absolutely - technique = visual language and should be used expressively and not stylistically :) in a shallow way.

Katherine said...

Really great post Vivien. I almost wish it were two posts as both need highlighting somewhere else! ;)

I loved the idea of the crits!

vivien said...

the crits were valuable - but very very nerve wracking at the time!!!