Art Quote of the Day

The following is an excerpt from the book called  Inside the Painter’s Studio by Joe Fig. It is a collection of interviews with different artists, all being asked the same series of questions. Today’s artist is  Ryan McGinness, another favorite artist of mine.

Lastly , what advice would you give a young artist who is just starting out?

 I think there is something to be said for ” stick-to-it-ness” . You have got to be in it to win it. And I think it is important to recognize if you are an artist or not.  Build a life and a career that accommodates  your being an artist instead of trying to be an artist.  It’s either something that’s in you or it’s not, and you cannot fake it.  I would say to not worry  about being an artist or trying to make art, just kind of make  whatever you have to make, and then build a life around that.  I think   that was one of the biggest breakthroughs for me, just realizing… because I went through a period where I  was just  trying to make art, and consequently I made things that were really imitative.  There was no real model or precedent for what I liked  to do, but when you realize that you just have to do what you do and not worry about whether or not it fits the mold  or a model of what art is, then you’re truly making innovative or breakthrough – and at the very least honest – work.  Does that answer your question?

Art Quote of the Day

” When Philip Guston was asked how he decided what he was going to do  next, he replied that sometimes he would try something he’d never seen before.. Or you could go just partway in this direction and ask yourself, “What if?”  What if you used only cool colors, or made everything as ugly as possible? What if your dog image split in half and its owner appeared in the middle, your perfect white geometric forms were invaded by some neon organic ones, your small,delicate plaster piece became ten times as big and was cast in rubbery plastic instead?  “What if?” has been a persistnet theme in twentieth-century art and a major influence on its revolutionary character.

One of Leonardo da Vinci’s suggestions for stimulating the imagination was to “look at crumbling walls, glowing embers, clouds or mold, because in these  irregular shapes one can find strange inventions just as we are apt to project words into the sound of church bells.

Unfortunately, nothing comes of nothing: so at all costs, try to keep working.  Just looking at a blank sheet of paper is an absolute guarantee of failure.  If none of the preceding suggestions have pried your creative powers loose, you may need to adopt a disciplinary approach.  Set yourself a daily task. The task you decide on should be of limited duration each day (no more than an hour or two) but moderately demanding-like physical exercise.  It should make you feel that you have done something,yet not wear you out so that you fail to continue on  successive days.

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote of the Day

Lee Godie ( 1908-1995) was a homeless painter who slept on park benches in the bitter cold, had thick ,weathered skin and was the first to wear a bra over her clothes. (sorry Madonna)

She is uniquely identified as the artist who used her acrylics to paint thick eyebrows above her real ones and large orange circles on her cheeks.

She stored her paintings in a locker at the bus depot and kept them tucked safely in her coat.  During her lifetime she created thousands of paintings and sold them on the steps of the Chicago Institute of Art .  Today they are worth thousands of dollars.  Why do I think about her so much?  I just like the idea that when she reached into her paint box, you didn’t know if she was going to paint the canvas or her face. Godie wasn’t afraid to cross the line.  She used what  she had and made it work.

Keeping this in mind,[ make a solemn promise to yourself ] that you will never be ordinary.”

Wide Open – Inspiration & Techniques for Art Journaling on the Edge by Randi Feurerhelm-Watts

Art Quote of the Day

“If we are to say something authentic, we need to stick with an idea for awhile.  We need to gnaw at it, mine it, obsess over it.  You can get a lot of mileage out of an idea that is deeply your own.  You can mine it like a vein of gold.  You can rework it.  Working ideas along or in series also means we’re not starting from scratch each morning, wondering what we’ll be doing next .  The game plan is in place. The current piece fits into the whole.

Eventually the inspiration may run its course. But when you do find something that holds you, that you can obsess over, put your attention there. When Alexander the Great arrived by boat with his troops to conquer the Persians he had his generals burn the boats.  The soldiers woke  to the sound of burning boats, which gave the clear message there was no going back.  In the same way, we can abandon secondary ideas that aren’t calling so loudly.  Get your energy flowing where your interest is most intense.

As you learn to follow the idea along, to process thse ideas into music or paintings, you start to realize the question of whether you are talented enough or good enough is no longer relevant.  Following your ideas and creating art is just what you do.   It isn’t a romantic thing, being an artist.  At least for artists. It’s just what we’ve decided to do.

Creative Authenticity – 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision – Ian Roberts

Art Quote of the Day

“The experience of unexpectedly seeing something that sets you off – a color, a relationship, an event – isn’t necessarily the sudden occurrence you think it is.. It may have actually  taken a long time for the idea to sift through your consciousness.  Few people are aware that, for an artist, the gestation period for a particular idea may be many years.  Georgia O’Keefe first looked at bones in 1916 but they did not show up as a subject in her paintings until 1930.  When he was 20 Claude Monet spent two years of military service in Africa and was greatly impressed by the light and color he observed there. This impression contained, as he put it, ” the germ” of his later work. Many artists experience the flash  of a new idea, followed by a slowly dawning awareness that they’ve known about it vaguely for a long time.  They just weren’t ready to recognize it.

In short , what will end up “inspiring” you are those things that satisfy some powerful internal visual need, which only time and much work will reveal.

When this happens, you may find you are having what seems to be a slightly odd experience.  An object, for example, ceases to be defined as we commonly understand it. A pepper is not a vegetable that is good in salads.  It is a remarkably complex, undulating green surface vaguely suggestive of the human form.  This is part of what is meant when people say that artists see “differently”. It leads some artists to maintain that the subject of a work of art is not just the thing depicted.

The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote of the Day

Martin Luther King Day- would he be happy with our progress in Civil Rights?

Inauguration Day – with President Obama being sworn in I think he would be , but still a long way to go!

Here in Wisconsin it is  minus 25 degrees !!  With a windchill added in it’s going to be even colder. This is the kind of winter day I had in mind when I made the short little video (home page,video section) of my back yard after a summer’s rain… I’m going to look at that frequently in the coming days and DREAM of warmer times!

“Every element that you add to a piece has an effect on every other element already in place.  As you work, try to see both the big picture of the overall design and the details that define its elements.  How could this new element best be added to the composition? Does this new element’s placement leave room for others yet to come? Should this item dominate or support certain others?  Should it dominate/support through size, position, color or something else?  Does it enforce the meaning and the message of the piece?  Do other elements need to be altered, repositioned, added or eliminated?

Add to the composition only those items which agreee with other elements thematically and add to the message and/or informational value.  Be prepared and willing to restructure existing elements every time a new one is added. EXPERIMENT, EXPLORE, EVALUATE.

Creative Sparks – Jim Krause

Art Quote of the Day

” Create like a god, command like a king, work like a slave.”

One week down,one to go. What’s that you say? One week done , of teaching the Winterim session at Edgewood, where students get an entire semester’s amount of work and credit.It’s an intense experience, 3 hours a day for each class ( I’m teaching 2 classes) for the students and for me as well. I chose today’s quote because  as an artist I know what Brancusi is talking about but , HEY, as an art TEACHER he has hit the nail on the head! I create the environment for them to make art, I “command” them to try their best, and seriously folks, teaching 6 hours of art everyday is working like a slave!! Teachers out there , are you with me??

This past week started out with me standing in for the model for Figure Drawing class. He hadn’t arrived yet so I got up on the platform and started explaining the measuring tools used by artists to map out the human figure. At some point I got down off the platform to check on people’s understanding. Thinking I would LEAP back up onto the platform gracefully , I miscalculated and fell flat on my face , IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY!! NICE! Great way to make a first impression. I have big black and blue marks on my legs marking the exact spots of impact….

The rest of the week went by in a blur of activity. The students get so much accomplished with so much time to work every day.They work ,”like slaves” and I’ve seen  the frustration, the tears ( oh yes), the excitement when it starts to come together, the relief when I tell them to not worry about the GRADE but make a big mess instead. I’ve heard all the excuses, ” I have control issues,” ” I was never good at using charcoal”, ”I CAN’T DRAW !!!!”  And have given them all the same ‘feedback’ , (command) ” Just keep trying”

If all goes like it has in the past , the second week will be more of the same; different projects, more frustration, more successes  and by the time it’s all over , most of the students are amazed at what they’ve accomplished in 2 short weeks! They’ve created art, gained some insight into what it takes to BE an artist , and gained confidence in their abilities to continue making art in the future.  It’s an amazing thing to see!

Art Quote of the Day

“These sudden inspirations…..never happen except after some days of voluntary effort which has appeared absolutely fruitless and whence no good seems to have come, where the way taken seems totally astray. These efforts then have not been as sterile as one thinks:they have set agoing the unconscious machine and without them it would not have moved and would have produced nothing.”

The evidence is overwhelming that creative ideas do not come in isolation. Gold miners have to pan through lots of worthless gravel to find a precious nugget.  The experience of a breakthrough is not limited to artists. It happens to mathematicians and scientists as well. The above quote comes from the mathematician Henri Poincare. This entire post today comes from a book called, The Blank Canvas – Inviting the Muse, by Anna Held Audette

Art Quote of the Day

” In talking about how hard artists work I am reminded of the story abut the man who asked a Chinese artist to draw a rooster for him and was told to come back in a month. When he returned the artist drew a fabulous rooster in a few minutes.  The man objected to paying a large sum of money for something that took so little time, whereupon the artist opened the door to the next room in which there were hundreds of drawings of roosters.”  -author unknown-


The tragedy in Connecticut weighs heavily on us all today….. if  I can do any painting today every brushstroke will be made in memory of all of the victims. Things have got to change!!!

Art Quote of the Day

” There’s a pervasive myth, shared by artists and non-artists alike, that art is a product of genius, madness or serendipity.  Wrong. Art is not the chance offspring of some cosmic ( or genetic) roll of the dice.  Art is mostly a product of hard work. When you look back on the results of a lifetime of artmaking, even the role that talent played is insignificant.  Living life productively, however, is very significant.  If you learn to live your life productively, your artwork will take care of itself.  If you do not live your life productively, nothing will save your artwork – not even talent.  One of the less-advertised truths about art-making is that it’s more important to be productive than to be creative.  If you are productive, your creativity will take care of itself.  If you are not productive – well, if you’re not productive , then how exactly is it you intend to be creative?”

-Ted Orland, from the book THE VIEW FROM THE STUDIO DOOR –