A delightful series of great quotes from great artists, via Douglas MooreZart. I love this one: “Surely nothing has to listen to so many stupid remarks as a painting in a museum.” ~Edmond & Jules de Goncourt.
I do love little books, especially if they have great pictures. They get more points if they are educational, informative and fun to read. “Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained” by British author, educator, art historian and artist Susie Hodge fits the bill perfectly.
A tiny tome, it examines 100 works of modern art, many of which have historically attracted critical hostility or derision, particularly for appearing to be over-simplified and easy enough for a young child to have done.
The author discusses and delineates just why, in fact, your five-year-old could not have created that Cy Twombly chalkboard painting, or Pollack’s poured paintings, or Pippilotti Rist‘s hanging underwear chandelier, though you might think otherwise.
There are five chapters, arranged as Objects/Toys, Expressions/Scribbles, Provocation/Tantrums, Landscapes/Playscapes, and People/Monsters. A few of the artists included: Lynda Benglis, Anselm Kiefer, Gilbert&George, Eva Hesse, Vito Acconci, Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Dan Flavin, Tracey Emin, Rothko, Richter, Cornell, Johns, and of course Duchamp, Picasso, Modigliani, and the like, along with dozens more. It’s packed. (remember,100 artists!)
A great little gem to add to your art library. And it hardly takes up any room. (Here’s a charming and comprehensive 2-minute video of the (very attractive) author talking about the book, and explaining how it’s set up.)
When I googled Susie Hodge, I found that she has a slew of published books, articles and online pieces ranging from modern and conceptual art to medieval art and architecture to teachers’ resource articles, including the Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum , as well as books on How to Draw Dogs and How to Draw Cats. (No kidding.) She is an art historian, educator and lecturer, and facilitates workshops in history and non-fiction writing, among other things.
A companion book by the author is 50 Art Ideas You Really Need To Know which covers, incredibly, fifty defining artistic periods in art history, from Prehistoric art to Hyperrealism and New Media.
Here’s my excellent advice:
I had to re-blog this post by Global Art Junkie as it is so beautiful. Call it recycling, upcycling, repurposing, trash-art, what-have-you, but this brilliant (pun intended) sculptural installation by Lisa Hoke is something to wonder at. I love color. I recently did a “look/see” post about Rhode Island artist Tom Deininger‘s work, including his incredible trash-art sculpture… These artists both share a passion and vision for turning discarded, reused materials into works of color and beauty. Lucky for us. Simply amazing. Enjoy!
So things seem to be going pretty well in the studio; you’re feeling that elation that is the divine experience of not thinking, not judging, not wondering, but just doing. Like a meditation through painting/making. And then you step back to look at the work. Shit. There’s The Voice. “WTF are you doing??” it says. Of course, I am not talking about you. I’m talking about me.
It is rather constant, The Voice. When I googled “artist inner critic” the results were pretty staggering. Here’s a particularly good take on it, complete with some awesome advice by artist and full-time human being Janice Tanton. Other terms that denote the inner critic are “the judge” or “the gremlin” or “the little man.” (Janice’s term.)
It’s tempting to think that the really brilliant artists are/were free of the gremlin, but we know that’s not the case.
Henri Matisse: “After a half-century of hard work and reflection the wall is still there. ”
Henri Matisse, “La Tristesse du roi” (Sorrows of the King), 1952
Claude Monet: “For almost two months now I’ve been struggling away with no result.”
Claude Monet: “Impression: Sunrise” 1873
And one of the most prolific and best painters of the 20th century, Richard Deibenkorn, said: “When I am halfway there with a painting, it can occasionally be thrilling… But it happens very rarely; usually it’s agony… I go to great pains to mask the agony. But the struggle is there. It’s the invisible enemy.”
Richard Deibenkorn: “Berkley no. 22” 1954
However– it would appear our inner critics can be useful, according to this interesting article on the Behance website 99U.com. The author says: “The trick is to get the Critic back “onside,” delivering genuinely constructive criticism. Like the inspiring mentor who urged you to do your best and didn’t accept anything less – but with a supportive and encouraging tone of voice.”
Abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell, whose intense, energetic work I adore, had a particularly interesting relationship with her complex inner creative persona. In this short clip from a bio-documentary she talks about how she deals with “Little Joan and Big Joan.” I love it.
For the full 57 minute documentary “Joan Mitchell: Portrait of an Abstract Artist” (Marion Cajori, 1993) click here
It’s no secret that meditation practice or mindfulness is one strategy for helping to silence The Voice, as is allowing yourself to become immersed in that place of just making art. (easier said than done… damn that complex ego-thing.) As Robert Henri wrote in 1923 in “The Art Spirit” (still one of the best books on art-making ever written) : “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” best. feeling. ever.
The bottom line? For me, it’s keep doing the work, and lock the gremlin outside the studio door, like Joan did. And look at what she produced.
What a delight to find this in my inbox today. So refreshing to see good art one can smile at, laugh about, and be inspired by. Had to share it… With thanks to http://theartjunkie.wordpress.com/
Confession: I have a ridiculous amount of terrific books in my art library (and my self-help library. More on that later, maybe) which I have not read. (It’s nice to know that they’re there, and I somehow feel more creative, intelligent and enlightened for just having them.) However, it’s a good bet that I’m far more likely to consume smallish books than the big fat dense ones. So when I discovered the insanely affordable “Steal Like an Artist: 10 things nobody told you about being creative” by Austin Kleon, I gobbled it up.
Amazon kept suggesting to me that I might want to buy this book, based on my search history. (duh) So eventually I did. And I’m so glad I did…I’ve gone through it multiple times, given it to a bunch of art-friends, and now I’m writing a blog- post about it. I’ve found this little gem immensely helpful, in a bunch of ways. I’ll let the pics tell the story:
Good vs. Bad…
Don’t worry, be happy…
Austin is, as he puts it, a writer who draws. His new book “Show Your Work! 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered”* (*really sweet mini-video here) is about to be released in March. As Austin says, it’s about process, not product. “You make things, you make things happen; you want to get yourself out there… but you don’t want promoting your work to take away from what you do.” By being open and freely sharing your process, you can gain a following. Doors will open. Connections will happen. I’m working on it.
Austin Kleon is a writer and artist living in Austin, Texas. He’s the author of two bestselling books: Steal Like an Artist, a manifesto for creativity in the digital age, and Newspaper Blackout, a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. He speaks about creativity for organizations such as Pixar, Google, SXSW, TEDx, and The Economist. Visit him online at www.austinkleon.com.
Thanks, Austin, for your awesome insight, generosity, and really great advice.
[with thanks to Theo, my four-legged studio assistant and model.]