Latest Art Guild Challenge

The most recent NZ Art Guild Challenge is this: If you are not already – become familiar with different styles and eras of art that encompass text in a fine art context; e.g. Modernist era (pop art, futurist, dada, expressionist, minimalist) or a contemporary context (mail art, computer/digital art, text as image)
You may like to consider some of the following artists: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichenstein, Colin Mcahon, Ralph Hotere, Barbara Kruger, Billy Apple, Rene Margrite, Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns

Create an artwork that encompasses one of the following categories:
– Text as image: e.g. Billy Apple, graffiti, concrete poetry
– Object and text: Choose an object and incorporate some text relating to this object – you do not have to be too literal!
– Text and image: You can use text in an abstract way or in conjunction with abstract images/patterns or with landscape.

I enjoy Cy Twombly’s work, and have been using more of my own photos as a base for works recently, so this is what I came up with. Mixed media: photo, calligraphy pens, white out and digital.

I Love Patea.




Planning for 2011

Plan for 2011

We’ve reached *that* time of year already. No, not Christmas shopping. Well, yeah okay, that too. No, it’s time to start planning my art calender for 2011. I like to know ahead of time what I am entering, so I can work to some vague sort of schedule. For all kinds of reasons the latter half of this year was slow for me art-wise, but I’m feeling on top of things again now and ready to put myself out there.

I put the events I am participating in into a spreadsheet, with wall size, important dates etc and then keep it on the white-board above my desk in my home office. That way, I can see at a glance what I need to be putting effort into. If I enter a new event, I update the file and print it out again. I also mark off when I have completed the registration, sent off the contract and completed the artworks. Sure, this spreadsheet needs a lot more details yet, but it’s good to have made a start; and very good to know that I have 6 exciting events planned already.

Close encounter with signs and symbols

As a teen I loved the movie ‘Close encounters of the Third Kind’. In it lineman Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss, becomes obsessed by the shape of a mountain, a place he has never been to. He sculpts it out of mashed potatoes, in shaving cream, builds a model out of wire – and finds that others share his obsession. He makes his way to a place protected by the military and witnesses a space ship make contact then land. What does that have to do with my art? Well…

The wall I painted for our final exhibition at TLC.

In my final year at The Learning Connexion I did quite a lot of work with symbols, specifically a (mainly downward) arch shape, a slanted oval and a sort of bent cross / power pole. They mean something to me, but I don’t know what. The arch belongs on its own, the oval and cross belong together. Why? Again, I don’t know, but like Roy I keep exploring them.

I had stopped working with them for a time, but have been looking at my older work and realised I need to keep using them. I realise they are not unique, but they are becoming part of my visual language and being authentic to my true self means exploring them.  Words on their own are not unique, but what a writer or poet does with them often is – and so it is with art. I hope to develop my own language and refine it over time.

Whilst at TLC I produced probably a hundred or more works that started with a photos of some shadows in our driveway that I then worked back onto in paint, replicating some of the lines, again in a curved cross pattern. I lost the photo and started replicating the shape on its own on black backgrounds. Eventually I painted a large wall black and, with no planning or end in mind, I painted huge cream curved crosses it.

Today I have been working on a smaller scale, on postcard sized 300gm watercolour paper, using Golden fluid acrylics, oil pastels, water-soluble pencils and giant poster pens.  Tomorrow I think I’ll work a bit bigger and see what that does.

Doing what I want, not what I should…

I spent some time the other day, just sitting in my art room, staring at the walls. Bored? No! Far from it; thinking about what I create and why. It’s a question I come back to from time to time, sometimes reasonably frequently if I have a lot on my mind.

What could I see while I sat there? Most of the works on the walls are mine, bar two pieces – one by fellow NZ Art Guild member Tanya Dann, and one by Sandra Toornstra who I attended The Learning Connexion with. It was interesting to consider what I have chosen from my own works to look at all the time and why I chose them. It says something about my true preferences. You know the ones; the preferences that are about creating and enjoying, not exhibiting and selling. And boy oh boy, I realised once again that a chasm has appeared. What I love and what I create are not the same thing at the moment. No wonder I am feeling a bit under-inspired. I must be a slow learner because it’s not the first time this has happened…

How is it that I come to this realisation, then lose it again after a while? In some ways I blame the internet. It’s so easy to get distracted by stats, figures, trends & sales and forget what’s in your heart. Cynthia Morris wrote a great article along these lines recently.  Post edited to add: I’m also reading Nicholas Carr’s “The shallows: how the internet is changing the way we think, read and rememebr” on the same subject. Carr argues that not since Gutenberg invented printing has humanity been exposed to such mind-altering technology. He believes the Net is actually re-wiring our brains and that by moving from the depths of thought to the shallows of distraction, the web is actually fostering ignorance. This is a challenging book, with a message worth thinking about.

What am I going to do about it? My commitments to myself are as follows:

  • Facebook twice a day and that’s it.
  • Limit the amount of time I spend online each day.
  • Don’t enter any exhibitions etc till next year.
  • Spend from now till after Christmas creating for fun only – *no* selling.

So, back to the original question – what did I see on my walls? Here’s the answer: