Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Golden Age of Art

If you Google "golden age of art," you get a cascade of articles, primarily on the Dutch Golden Age, dominated by the beautiful works of painters such as Hals and Vermeer. Illustration Friday's word for the week is "Golden," so that started me thinking in this vein.

Sketch of a man over a watercolor base in shades of gold, on an Indian watercolor paper.
Also, I have been attending some classes on Sunday mornings, with the topic for the first part of summer being Emergence Christianity. So, in thinking about where Christianity is heading, I started thinking more indepth about where art is going, as it seems to me that we are in a great time of shifting. It's not really a golden age for art here in McLeansville, NC or likely anywhere else.

However, all the experimentation with art is pretty exciting if you think about it. Art is no longer confined to what you can put into a frame on your wall or sit on a pedestal in your garden. Art can incorporate all sorts of sound, light, movement, and technology that was never thought of in the past. I wonder what would Seurat be creating if he were alive today?

Which is not to say that flat art is dead by any means. I just don't think art has the same meaning in today's society that it once did.
Gold watercolor underpainting for the sketch of a man done for Illustration Friday: Golden.

I remember when I was young, my aunt and uncle bought a painting to go in their den. I'm sure it was not a wildly expensive piece, but the idea of purchasing a painting was as if it were an investment that you would have for the rest of your life, in much the same way as the photographs of long dead relatives remain on the wall. Everyone in the extended family came to view the painting and discuss its merits.

The times have changed. I remember working in a cooperative gallery about 15 years ago, when a woman came into the gallery with a cushion under her arm, wanting to know if we had anything that would match her sofa. We didn't. It became clear to me that, for her at least, art was about making the decor match and bringing order to her world through color continuity, and not about choosing a piece of art that spoke to her soul, that evoked a memory, or reminded her of a treasured vacation.

With prints being so cheap now, flat wall art can be easily purchased and disposed of anytime you decide to change your decor to the Pantone color pallet of the season. What's an artist to do, and how is an artist supposed to make a living?

It would seem to me that unless you are one of the rare people who gets picked up by a major gallery, you are sort of relegated to outdoor craft fairs or the world of online Print on Demand. Craft fairs can be pretty grueling, being at the whims of weather and insect populations, and POD leaves you cold and empty, because you are operating in something of a vacuum.

Of course, there are millions of ways now to get social with your customers and potential customers without ever leaving your studio. The problem with that is that you then have to constantly cultivate those relationships, which eats into your productivity for art... better to get a day job, I think. More on this to come. For now, I am curious to imagine what the next "golden age" for art will look like.

The quick sketch above uses a watercolor underpainting in shades of gold, with graphite over the top, on a highly textured Indian watercolor paper.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sketchy Saturday Spent Defacing Ex-Library Books

I am enjoying a day of solitude, something that's been pretty rare for me over the last 20 years, so I've taken advantage of that to do some art therapy by adding to my repeating Library People series.

Yesterday, I put my husband and kids on planes to the west coast for a family wedding while I stayed home to hold down the fort. Then I went on a whirlwind tour of the used bookstores in the area and got some awesome books on which to do some more drawings.

I love the stains on this one that were left by an ill considered application of cellophane tape a decade or two ago. I decided to play up the stain pattern with this very distinctive profile of a man.

When I put this piece up on my Facebook page, my friend Kelley said her parents met at a social at the College Park Baptist Church from which this book came. This is not her father.

I got 4 pieces done, which is actually a lot of drawing for one day. I was particularly happy with this one, which features Date Due stamps dating back to 1930. I haven't found an ex-library book this old before, so I was super excited to find this one yesterday. I decided to put the man above the date due stamps rather than on top of them because they are so cool.

These two, along with 2 more will be up for sale on eBay beginning tomorrow night.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Library People 131 - 133

Yes, the Library People are returning. I don't even remember how long it has been since I did these. Some people would say that I have lost momentum, and they would probably be right. Some people would say that you can't go back to a series after all this time, and they might be right as well, but here I am.

I started doing Library People drawings back in about 2006. This past week I did these three. It felt good to be back.

For those of you not familiar with the series, let me quote from my eBay listings:
The Library People series consists of drawings of people on the inside covers or pages of discarded books, many of them ex-library books. The covers that are the "canvas" for these drawings have ripped or cut edges, and may contain stamps, writing, stains, dirt, wear and tear, and other evidences of age. They also contain memories; memories of the people who have checked them out, carried them to school, read them on the bus, left them in the rain. The authenticity of the real book, not some reproduced item, is part of the experience. I hope you will enjoy being part of the series.

Why do I continue to return to these? Of course, it is the memories. That connection with others, the past, and the feelings that go with all that. Good feelings; melancholy feelings; uncomfortable feelings. Feelings of loss and hope.

What may have brought me around to this was a college reunion. It was a reunion for the graduates of the UNC-Greensboro Theatre Department from the 1970's through the 1990's. I wasn't sure how I would feel going in to it. I wasn't even sure anyone would remember me - or that I would remember anyone else for that matter. But I did remember most of them, and some of them did remember me. And we shared and laughed and ate, and it was good. Good to be there, alongside the memories.
No, we were no longer young. But how great it is to still be alive and part of the conversation.

So back to the drawings. These were done on the covers or pages of discarded books, just like the 130 people before them. and there will be more to come. Fragile pieces of memories. You can purchase one if you like; they are for sale on eBay. As always, I cherish your comments.

Library People 131  Library People 132   Library People 133