Throughout history artists have been compelled to create and recreate the beauty and pathos surrounding them in their daily lives. We are often awed by the discoveries of art found on walls and in caves in remote and nearly inaccessible places around the world. They are stunning and mysterious.
A personal favorite of mine are the caves of Lascaux. The beauty of these works of art is astounding. And we wonder what they were for, what they meant to the ancients who went deep into these caves to create these incredible works of art. Often in dark and not easily accessible places. One of the images of bulls, in the “Hall of Bulls” is 17 feet long and almost as tall. This meant that these ancient peoples had to build some kind of scaffolding. This was important to them. They were cognoscente of a future. Or was it just that inborn need in some of us, at it’s most basic, to draw, or paint the things that grab our attention? I feel it’s not just a mental thing to recreate or create, it’s physical.
Around the world we see examples that have transcended time. And then those that have been lost to evil and misguided men, such as the once World Heritage Site, and treasure I had dreamed of seeing in person, The Buddhas of Bamiyan. (My heart still aches over this.). I was born a little too late for the “hippie silk road”, and now they are gone. There are other astounding examples of ancient Buddhas around the world and I hope they never suffer the same fate.
The history of art is complicated and vast. And now during this world wide pandemic, one side effect has been the staggering amount of people showing up with their art. I am on a well known platform, and made a separate one to post and highlight my artwork. In the last year, I feel that the amount of people on this platform alone has grown astronomically. How does one not get lost in the noise? The styles, forms and levels of skills, knowledge and choices is endless.
Then there are what might be considered fads. One example, is “pour painting”. I suppose every new form of art has to be scrutinized to gain acceptance. Today most of us think of Impressionism as a classic form of art. But when it first started to become popular, not only were the practitioners of it, considered poor artists, but they were banned from exhibiting them! I have to say, that although I think pour painting looks like it might be fun to try, and some of the finished products look pretty good, it doesn’t sit well with me.
There are a few things about it that bother me. First and foremost, I find it unacceptably wasteful. In most cases, more than three times again amount of paint is used to make the picture. This extra is then literally poured down the drain. As someone who has tried diligently over the years to find better, safer, and more environmentally safe ways to create my art, I find this distressing.
Normally I would say that ‘there is room for everyone’. But during this pandemic between unemployment and social media, the ‘everyone’ has grown exponentially. The ratio of art lovers and buyers to artists has always been a problem, but now it may be a crisis. This could force artists to do their best, or it may be forcing the truly great artists out of the game, leaving only the mediocre.
Then there is the fact of having worked, suffered blood, sweat and tears, and upheaval to continually improve my art and there are now thousands of people using this simple, wasteful technique, and forming a further glut in the artworld. There will always be some artists better than other artists. And as an artist, I learned a long time ago to only compete with myself. I know when I’m happy with it, and that’s what matters. But it is getting harder and harder to be seen.
I wonder what the “world of art” will be like in the distant future. I hope that despite the glut of mediocre artwork and fads of today, that the great artist’s legacies of our time will shine through and future people will be in as much awe of what they have done, as we are in awe of those past great artist.
Thank you for reading this. Please visit my art IG page susanm.l.mooreartist. DM me if interested in any of my work, or if you would like to commission a piece. I would love to work with you!
Stay safe and well.
OK, before I get into this Monday morning rant, I will say that I have nothing against Marilyn M. She is an icon. But there lies the dilemma. I do or at least have come to have a mental fatigue when it comes to art pieces of her image. (This would be a good place to upload a picture I’ve done of her, but I haven’t, and I won’t.)
It seems to be a right of passage for many artists, to create some image of Marilyn. They then post it to whatever social media of their choice, to a rousing chorus of pedantic accolades. I’m not covetous of their work. Without sounding conceited, I have gotten to a point in my own artistic career, where I feel I could do a reasonably good image of the great lady. I choose not to. I get this ugg, rolling my eyes kind of feeling of tedium when yet another artist’s rendering of her pops up. Good grief. I do apologize to any artists who have done so, I’m sure you’re a great artist. And I also choose to be the kind of person that praises and uplifts other artists, so it somewhat pains me to reveal this abhorrence.
So please, for the love of all that is holy, and unholy, stop! Just stop rehashing images of Marilyn M! There are millions of other possible options to use as inspiration for your wonderful art!
When I was very young, my parents, Mae and Tony, owned a small corner grocery store in Albany NY. I remember it well, even though by the time I was almost five, we had moved on from it. It was my earliest home, and even though it was hard times, (beginning of the Civil Rights movement, as well that my parents had to work early in the morning until late at night.) We lived over the store, in a flat, and didn’t have much, but I still look back on it with very fond memories.
I mention this, because, my mom, when she wasn’t running the store, helping customers, restocking etc. would sometimes read a magazine. I remember she loved Marilyn M. Years later she would mention Marilyn fondly. But not the movie star Marilyn, the Norma Jean, Marilyn. She must have felt a kinship to the real Marilyn. The one that was misunderstood, as she too had been in her own life. So I get the fandom, maybe at a deeper level than a lot of people.
Details of a painting I recently completed. You guessed it, not Marilyn.
Norma Jean had wanted more for herself, and sadly fell prey to the enticing life of a star, and the sometimes horrible people surrounding her. At heart she seemed like a really good person.
We all know her story, and can find out information about her, probably by the boatload. But in the end, I like to think that she would have wanted to be remembered for more than just her looks. The constant reiterations of her image, to me don’t do her or the artist justice. End Rant.
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I’ve never been one to be overly nostalgic about anything. It’s always been my nature to push through, onward and upward. At least since I was twelve and my father died. We had been very close. After spending a year of non stop crying and grieving, my personality changed somewhat, except in as far as art goes. I was always an artist, and always will be. It’s not really something that I chose, so much as it being an intrinsic part of who I am. It has saved me in many ways on countless occasions. Compelling me to push through the good and the bad. That’s why it’s weird for me to be getting nostalgic. I have a sneaky suspicion that the plague may have something to do with it. I find myself listening more often to music that I connected to in my youth. Which is, unusual to say the least.
It started with me looking for upbeat music to listen to in the morning because I was feeling a little blue, which is also something that I tend to push down into the depths. Unlike a lot of people who feel the need to bond with others over their angst, problems, or if they stubbed their toe, that’s just not something I ever liked doing. ( Except for with my ex, because that’s a given, and even then not nearly as often as most people.) And I can say this with some acumen, simply from observation in life and social media. In any case this reticence on my part, is mostly because to rehash things that have happened, or how I’m feeling, just seems to make it worse for me. So there you go. Yet, now here I am, listening to music that meant something to me when I was young and wading through the struggles of being a kid, growing up, having kids, raising kids, etc..
I put Pandora on, starting with the upbeat… I chose early Beatles, and it’s algorithm or whatever, starts scrolling through a universe of songs I haven’t heard or thought about in decades from groups I loved and felt I belonged to at different ages of my life. And other than scents, music is one of those rare things that can instantly transport you to that second, that hour, that day, that decade that you lived, grew, regressed, loved and hated, in.
From Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to Led Zeppelin, to Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Foundations, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and a host of other memories. Some better than others. And this was just the ones that came up from that first group I picked that Pandora was scraping my heartstrings with.
In reality, it doesn’t make me feel sad. Picture one of those movies where the wise older person is reminiscing, narrating about times past, with love. This is not to say that my past was rosy. It was actually very difficult. But I am also not one to look for sympathy when things happen. Other than when I was very young and had lost both my parents. But even with that, I eventually came to realize that that was not how I wanted to see myself, or for others to see me; a Dickens-esk orphan. I had to be strong and make a lot of tough decisions. The only difference from many other people, is that I was doing it at a much younger age. For example. I didn’t have much family left, and those I did, well, I just couldn’t imagine having to live with them. At fifteen I became an emancipated minor, and got a little apartment. How this played out, is a story for another time, heheh. Don’t want to overwhelm you all. If it were to be made into a TV show, it could either be portrayed as a drama, with love, loss, and intrigue, or a dramedy, with the aforementioned, and a comedy of errors, and maybe some slapstick thrown in. (Not much though as slapstick is basically the lowest form of humor, other than puns. Except of course through the genius of Chaplin. Chaplin, who despite some really bad personal choices, was the epitome of slapstick.)
I continue to grow with my painting. I do, (rarely) have nostalgia for my earlier paintings and scribblings, but always with a very critical eye. Ask any artist, and for the most part they don’t like their past works. That’s because art is one of those things where by it’s very nature, is ever changing. Most of us artists feel that we have improved over time. I can only speak for myself when I say that I prefer people to see my most recent work. Maybe it’s a bit of an ego thing, where we want people to see what we are capable of now, as opposed to then, Like, “oh god, my work now is so much better! Heheheh. Musicians too, are artists, and if they are dedicated and good, they evolve, as well. I think for them sometimes, it’s harder because so many fans will love a certain piece of music so much that any changes are abhorrent to them. They have my sympathies.
Nostalgia, a wistfulness for the past, can be a funny thing. It can become a rabbit hole that folks fall down, and find hard to climb out of. Or it can be something that we look at with wonder of how we survived it all, and pride that we did. We can take a look back for a little while, and then move forward.
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This is a “portrait” of Axle, and a short story of (metaphorical?) love and loss. Axle used to sit by the side of the road between my small city and the town where my oldest daughter lives. With a peachy tan complexion, and wide eyes, Axle became a mile marker of sorts. One that my grandkids and I came to view as “our old car by the side of the road”. “There he is” they’d say, “there’s Axle”.
I had given him the name Axle due to the obvious fact that his front axle was broken, his tires askew. This just seemed to add to the charm of our roadside friend. It’s pretty accurate to say that we amorphized this charming old truck that, week after week, year after year sat vigilantly waiting for our passage.
The thing is that, Axle was not entirely forgotten by everyone other than us. Someone diligently repainted him every year. That is, for a few years anyway. Someone loved Axle as much as we did. He was never moved, or covered, but someone cared. He sat in a small patch of land between the road, a stream, and woods beyond.
Through the changing seasons, the glaring sun of summer, the fall of the leaves, the blowing snows of winter and when the wildflowers would bloom next to him, Axle was there.
But then something changed, some time passed since his last paint job, and the rust became more prominent. He was still charming, maybe even more so in his aged look, but something was definitely different.
And then came the day he was murdered! I drove by one spring day on my way to get the kids, and saw something that, well made me irrationally angry, and sad. Someone had shot Axle in his right eye! Our loyal mascot had become someone’s careless target.
I didn’t mention it to the kids, but they of course noticed. What could I say, there are just soulless people in this world. I just told them that ‘maybe someone would fix him, and he’d be back’, and we went by.
But that was not to be. Months went by and poor Axle sat forlornly with his fatal wound.
And then one day I drove by, and Axle was gone. I tried to console myself that someone was going to give him a new life. We were never to know. He was just gone.
Its funny how sometimes seemingly innocuous things can bring out feelings more than the things that are what most would consider really important. Maybe they’re a sort of surrogate emotional object. One that is easier, less dangerous to express our feelings about. I still miss him.
I think that right now, at this moment in history especially, we need to hold onto the little things that we may not be thinking about as much as usual. I’m glad that I had decided to paint the picture of Axle. It’ll always be a nice reminder of being with my grand kids and those sweet, silly moments that are really the most important moments.
How is everyone? Doing OK? Hanging in? Let’s be honest, things could be much better. And as we head closer to November, things, not so good things are ampping up all over. My response has been to begin writing my pov, only to delete, delete, delete. I’m an artist, and although I have very strong opinions about the shite show hammering away at us every day, I am also prone to get high anxiety over the whole mess, and really don’t care to get sucked into the bottomless pit of negativity that most social media has become. My answer has been to post a lot of my art. I figure it’s my little contribution to some positivity and beauty, which is sorely needed right now.
I know it has to be getting to most of us in one way or the other. For me I figured it had reached the boiling point, when my first reaction to an asteroid possibly hitting the earth on the eve of the elections was; “good” and a sense of relief. I have had a habit of reading and watching dystopian media since I was a kid. And although on the surface there is that feeling that it’s a nightmare, there is that underlying feeling that maybe it’s not such a bad thing. I by no means have a death wish. It’s just with this type of media, one tends to feel as if they are on the outside looking in, that it won’t affect us personally, even with the real stuff, like an asteroid. Other than to cause a major reset on life.) Which considering everything right now, doesn’t seem so horrible. Unfortunately many writers of this type of thing, seem to find it necessary to turn it all into a military style takeover after a while to “keep people in line” or whatever, and that is bad. Not to mention cliche and trite writing, and thinking. That’s usually the point where I get bored with it. Sadly we’re living through all of this right now.
We get warnings about asteroids and comets once in a while, and have dodged that particular bullet in recent times. I’m sure my reaction has more to do with needing something bigger than us, literally and figuratively to give us a reset, not to harm anyone.
I’ve been keeping busy painting, and sketching, and trying to keep my household together. Like everyone else, there are things that I miss. A quick lunch downtown, just stopping into a store without major planning, the movies. Oh I really miss going to the movies. Being the optimist that I am, I know that there will be a light at the end of this stifling, drowning under water tunnel, eventually. I know that I am luckier than many. I am able to go for walks, and to go kayaking once in a while. It may not be an asteroid, but I know that we will get our reset, sooner or later.
Keep doing what you’re doing, and stay safe, for yourself and others.
Abstract paintings have been something that I have enjoyed doing, especially in the last few years. I particularly enjoy figurative abstract art. It produces a type of freedom to let go, as well as results in a more exciting piece to view. Having never been one to use mixed media, I have preferred getting the look I was striving for with the paint alone. But the other day, while waiting for something, I pulled up a photo of a painting I had done, and started to play around with the photo editor on my phone. I was pleasantly surprised with the results. So I decided to share them with you here.
This first piece, so far, is my personal favorite. It also happens to be one that I did, after finally deciding that this painting was as finished and refined as it was going to get. (More on that later.)
Although the painting itself was not as spontaneous as when I incorporate the abstract elements as I paint, I do really like the outcome. And using a computer editor, gave me the chance to add to, or completely change how I wanted it to look, which was kind of fun. Below are other versions of this painting as unfinished, and unrefined, with and without embellishments. When I do a portrait of a specific person, it will go through many changes to get to where I feel it represents the person, and I am satisfied with it, as you can see from the photos of this portrait.
The painting itself went through a lot more changes after this to get to where I was good with it.
Some of these changes may appear very subtle but they make all of the difference in capturing the spirit and personality of the subject. There were a lot more stages, but I thought I’d move on to the fun part, goofing around with my phone!
Some of the tools on the app could be taken pretty far, such as this bit, where I went overboard with pixalating it. But I thought it was kind of interesting.
I threw in just a few pixels on this one, and thought the overall effect was cool. Also this was still not a “finalized version” of the painting itself.
The next three images were manipulated on the final version. And although sometimes never completely satisfied, I have to know when to say, “done.”
I hope you are all well and safe, and join me next time! (PS I know I had mentioned that I might go over some of the tools that I use, in this post. I still hope to do that in the future.)
Continuing with the theme of my last post about having been asked to showcase my art at a local Juneteenth event, I managed to get two other paintings done in time to show along with the first, “Beautiful Son”. It’s always gratifying to be acknowledged as an artist, and this is especially so.
The second painting I did, I simply call, “Story Time”. It depicts a young father reading to his baby. Here are some photos of it, and the process of creating this piece. As you can see in the second photo, I drew up a sketch of what I had in mind. In the second, I filled in the background shape of a map of the USA, and began working on the figures. I continued from there, adding color and finishing up the figures to my liking. Once the painting was dry, I gave it a thin coat of acrylic gloss medium. This serves two purposes, it helps to protect the painting, as well as to highlight and maintain the bright colors. This is quite a bit smaller than the first painting, “Beautiful Boy”, for a few reasons, mostly concerning time constraints and having to use what I had on hand. It’s still a good size at 16″x 12″.
The last piece I call, “Grace Under Pressure”. I didn’t get as many photos of the process of this as I was short on time, but I used basically the same process. I did a few quick sketches, (sorry they’re very light, but you get the idea.) From there, I then drew up an approximate sketch on the canvas, arranging, and changing features as I worked on it.
I hope it doesn’t sound egotistical, or worse, silly ( heheh), but I tend to fall in love with my paintings and these are no exception. I think I have even more so, because I feel that I have gotten to a place with my work where I feel more confident about it, as well as am able to create what I envision at a quicker pace. Not that that is important in and of itself. But for me as an artist, it is, as I feel these representations wanting out of my cranium, and am compelled to create them, to get them on the canvas. And now being at a point where I can do so more readily, makes it more of a joy and less tedious. I’m thinking that, in my next post, I may go over some of the tools I use, and give some pointers on my own process. Let me know if any of you think that you might like that, or not. (I’ll still probably do it. 😉
I wish everyone joy, and to stay safe, and I hope you join me next time!