Saturday, August 20, 2016

Starting As An Artist All Over Again

Dipping into artistic waters again
A resin snowman
For most of us the simple act of starting ... something ... anything ... is a difficult if not daunting process. Starting all over again, is I have found even harder. Why?  Because starting all over again IS literally ... I believe ... starting ALL over again! 

After completing a mailbox birdhouse I started two years ago, I grabbed a white, resin snowman and started painting, finally, a few months after getting the new "studio" more of less set up. As mundane as this sounds, it gave me an opportunity to explore color again and hone my painters touch! However, as I quickly discovered, it was hardly set up, ready to go, as there were paints and add-on items to individualize my projects in about 20 different places. The question then is ... do you paint or do you spend the time organizing? I chose to paint and as for the rest, organize as you go!

As I wrote earlier about finally being in a Gallery show, I realized that with one exception, it is with items I created from past glories, items created, with one exception, from another time, another place. Even the newest completed item was started two years ago and only completed last month! It has been difficult first to create an artistic home in my new environment, dealing with the thousands of minutiae that involves: new doctors, new spaces, new vehicle, new friends, then getting inspired all over again. If you've never had to do that you are fortunate. Those that have know exactly what I mean.

Creating a new work space has been for me the most daunting thing. As I have slowly started to get inspired and finally paint again, I realize how much more organizing I need to do. To find one item (and discovering others you forgot you had) involves going through bags, and tubs and trays that eats into your "creative" time. It is rewarding in many ways and yet shows you how much disorganization still remains.

Blank fan from Hong Kong - paper masks from Cananda

Then there is the collecting of new items you find along the way ... a blank fan from Hong Kong, papier- mâché masks from Canada, a new lettered canvas design at Michaels, a new paint, new cool permanent ink pens ... the list goes on and on! What's an artist to do? For me at least, it is to now forge on. It is very easy to get buried in the minutia of life and I realized that is exactly what I have done. Seeing fellow artists at work not bothered by the fact their lives were, at least in that moment of time, troubled or insecure, were creating something finally gave me the permission to create again as well.
A new challenge - an A canvas!

The other big advantage of living in Palm Springs, though some might dispute the fact that it is an advantage, is that it is so fricking hot during the summer that no one wants to go outside during the day unless they absolutely have too! In fact, I was told shortly after I moved here that when summer hits, and it did around the end of June, that you close all the blinds, turn on the air and leave it on 24 / 7, strip naked and catch up on all the TV you missed fall, winter and spring.  

You laugh. There is a reason all the snow birds come here beginning around the end of September and have flown home by May ... we don't have any snow to shovel and being outside takes precedence to being inside. Summers though are ... well, let me put it this way, succinctly, HELL! My new air conditioner failed and they finally got it fixed a week later the day it reached 122º. The bags were packed, in fact, it was that bad.

A blank slate of any size is good!

Yet it also creates an enforced creative time, a time that you can finally spend without all the distractions the Coachella Valley has to offer most of the year. Art, music, design, films ... the list goes on and on. There isn't a month that there isn't something to do and now even summer is beginning to draw crowds with events like the first ever Palm Springs Comic-con at the end of August. The 2017 show in San Diego rumor has it is already sold out so for the first time in my life I'm going to go. I figure one day away from a brush and a bottle of paint is worth the stimulation of people that, to be kind, seem to live in another world ... far, far away! And I have been told you wish they did!

The artists life is never easy. Many toil yet few achieve success or recognition. We are driven and maybe at some time and place what we have created will be appreciated and our talent recognized.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to explore earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design affects our lives ... and always has. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Gallery Show At Last

500 Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA
One of the things every artist desires is to make it to a bono fide art Gallery, in this case Gallery 500 in Palm Springs, CA. Showing in a gallery is something that I've always wanted and while I did come close at a show in San Dimas, CA, it was spoken of as one of the slowest shows in years. I did manage to sell a few small mini birdhouses.

You can imagine my surprise at an acceptance letter after I showed both paintings and creative crafts ... birdhouses and such with some very talented artists here in the Coachella Valley. The letter said that I had been accepted to show my birdhouses now and paintings later at a new gallery, Gallery 500 that was being constructed. I received that letter on a trip and only after returning realized that of 87 artists submitting their art, I was one of seven selected for the initial opening show!

At a local show in a temporary gallery in Cathedral City from March to May of this year, I had 4 or 5
Pennsylvania Dutch inspired wooden tray
paintings on the wall but when I asked if I could also show my birdhouses, they took one look, I received a resounding yes, then they hunted down a table for me to display them and urged me to bring more. Someone even had a black tablecloth that showed my wildly colored items to their best advantage! I even managed to sell a few!

I imagine that many crafters are like me. Art is something that I have dabbled in since I was a child. My Dad was manager of a shaver shop in downtown Portland, OR that was open half days on Saturday. Around the 5th grade, my Dad, who really was a talented artist but didn't explore his talents much, discovered the Portland Museum of Art had kids classes Saturday mornings. So, for a few years I would go downtown with him every Saturday morning to take classes. In the remaining time after class I would explore the museum.

For some reason Portland had amazing traveling shows. The first one, I remember, that started a lifelong love of Van Gogh, was their traveling Van Gogh Exhibit that seemed to be there a long time. I studied them carefully each week, admiring his amazing use of colors and remembered many of them when I finally saw them again at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam 50 years later!

Blue Mailbox Birdhouse
The Chrysler Collection was next and I can still remember the huge Waterlilies by Monet that hung near the entrance. Its jewel like colors seemed to drench the entire museum with color. They left an impression that lingers still.

Over the years I took an art class here or there but never made it my major though as a Journalism / Advertising major, being able to draw helped me in the days when we had to often draw our own products and hand letter a variety of type faces with India Ink. I broke all the rules and often, got an "A" in spite of it.

I taught my students art as a Peace Corps teacher and was amazed at how their drawings changed from a near Ancient Egyptian view of the world, two dimensional, to three dimensions after showing and explaining the use of perspective.

Returning home, I really didn't draw nearly as much as I had in high school and college. Then I got married, had kids and started gardening losing my interest in art. However, around 52, quitting my job and starting my own graphics design business, my interest in art returned. After wrestling with computer software all day creating catalog sheets, newsletters, price list, etc., I bought a birdhouse at Michaels and finding a

Patriotic Birdhouse
pamphlet on Pennsylvania Dutch designs started painting. First one, then another and before long I had a collection. Never one to stay mired in one style, I experimented.

The turning point for me was going to the Las Vegas Painting Convention taking as many classes as I could. I had resumed an interest in painting, already started with a class in oil painting I was taking in Sierra Madre, CA and broadened my skills in craft painting. Usually the only man in a class ... you can't even imagine the feeling of walking into a room full of women who stare at you like you don't belong ... I learned techniques that gave me better skills and I thrived. For two different years I submitted projects to teach and was accepted only to have serious health issues that made it impossible for me to teach. I regret that opportunity deeply.

While I lived in the assisted living home returning to health, something I wrote about last year, I finally got a chance to teach but discovered seniors can often be as stubborn as youngsters. However, when I would see them clutching their latest creation during the day, it made me proud to give them something to stimulate them and something they were proud of.
Perfect example of modifying - raffia,
trees, behaves were added changing
this item completely!

While the gallery is being constructed I discovered that their store was looking for small items people could buy and carry home. I approached the gallery manager, submitted the items, some shown here, and asked if there were any he might be interested in. He called and said, "All of them." He drew up a contract, I took them over and we priced everything together. I stressed again, after being told of comments at the earlier show, while I did not build them due to issues with blood thinners and sharp tools, I did modify them and painted each and everyone by hand. No, they were not made in China and being resold. There may be some interest as a customer at the shop fingered them and expressed interest as she bought a Coke.

While I was extremely busy with a move to Palm Springs, a divorce and all that entails plus several long distance trips overseas, it has taken some time to rekindle an interest in art. However, a group of us are supporting studio space and when I went over this week to set up my own work table and chair, I sat down and began doodling and chatting with the four other artists there. There really is something to be said about working with other artists. We all have different styles and interests but there is a synergy that I realized I missed. Coming home that afternoon I started, at long last, to get my artistic interest together readying new birdhouse based on my doodles at the studio. I finally appreciate the studio I took such time and effort to create.

I am very excited about the coming opportunity and hope that finally, at the age of 70, I can make, if nothing else, a small local name for myself. My advice ... NEVER GIVE UP! We never know at whatever age when what we have created is appreciated by others! Remember Grandma Moses. She started seriously painting at the age of 78 and lived to 101. Some of her paintings have sold for over $1 million dollars, a sum you can bet she never saw! So ... pick up that needle, brush, knitting or crochet hook, saw or welding torch and get to work! We are all rooting for you!!!

Thank you for reading my blog! Please check out earlier blogs that talk about many things but each and every one with an eye on design ... the designs of modern living.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Triumph Of Greed: How the 2016 Olympics was bought and sold by NBC

If you have ever seen the worldwide coverage of the Olympics in any country besides the United States, you know you have missed, well, the Olympics. I have never been a fan of NBC Sports coverage for a variety of reasons including the incessant ads, the xenophobia and spotty coverage if there are no Americans competing. In Germany, and I learned in China, the Olympics are broadcast non-stop and they show every competition regardless of who is competing.

Last night, August 5, 2016, opening ceremonies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro showed the greed and lack of world view at its most extreme by NBC. Texting a friend in Hong Kong who asked me if I was watching, I had to tell him it would be hours away here in California. Since he is 15 hours ahead of me, I was surprised that he was already watching as Rio is just four time zones ahead of California.

Opening ceremony fireworks at Rio Olympics
Then an hour or so later when I was watching the evening news, I was surprised that they were showing events including the fireworks at the end of the opening ceremony. We still had to wait about two hours before we would see the start.

7:30 pm finally arrived just as my Hong Kong friend sent photos from his TV showing the fireworks that ended the opening ceremony. Then we waited ... and waited through about 45 minutes of commercials, profiles of some athletes ... an opening that didn't start in this country, or at least in California for 45 more minutes.

Each year of the games, the host country shows some aspect of their country that makes them unique. Who can forget London, the pageantry of China, the color and traditions of Seoul. Rio was no different but it was very hard to follow what we were seeing as NBC had commercials every 3 minutes. I know, I was counting them using the clock on the cable box. I don't know what the IOC made from the bid of NBC but surely, they both made all the money they needed opening night. Imagine, they have 16 days left.

I found myself drifting off because the only continuity you could count on was the ads ... and a not very inspired group either. Finally, around 11 p.m. when they had only gotten to "F" of the parade of national teams, I went to bed. I mean how many times can you stand a few minutes, if that, of events and hearing we will be right back. Ah, NBC a moment is not 5 minutes of ads. Be honest and just say, "We interrupt these commercials to bring you a quick clip of the games!" What's next, corporate logos tattooed on the athletes?

Ancient Olympia, home of the Olympic Games

The original Olympics, in honor of the god Zeus, were held over 2,000 years ago with the intention of defusing the interminable fighting of the various Greek city states. (You know, kinda like what we are witnessing between the Republican and Democratic parties today). They may have invented democracy but maybe too much of a good thing is, well, too much! However, all fighting was stopped and athletes from every city state came to Olympia to compete in sports we would recognize today. It was meant to be a competition of individuals who received in victory merely a laurel wreath and the accolades of all, regardless of where they came from. Now there's a concept in a time where nation medal counts are shown over and over again, daily.

The first Olympics in modern times - Athens, Greece in 1896
When the Olympics were started again in 1896, the original purpose was intended but within a very short time differences in what was acceptable regarding training and medicating, patriotic feelings and corruption reared its ugly head. Political leaders used the games as a means to promote their own national agendas (Hitler). Many think this years games may be the ugliest and corrupt ever. You have state sponsored doping from Russia, mismanagement preparing for the games in Brazil, the uproar of the impeachment of Brazil's president, pollution that makes Flint, MI look tame, the $16 billion cost of these games, money many felt should have been spent on improving the lives of the locals and a nation where 63% of its citizens could care less. Throw in the threat of Zika, crime and pollution and you have a story any editor worth his salt would eject you from his office should you have written such a fictional story.

Rio's trifecta of issues - Protests, Zika, Mosquitos
However, I find it hard to forgive NBC. The endless ads, the even more endless and often boring interviews that ignore events going on all around the interviewer while the rest of the world gets to see these ignored events ... this is unforgivable.

Recently Forbes Magazine had an article discussing the crippling costs of the modern Olympics. In the recent era only Barcelona and Los Angeles came out even or even showed a profit. The reason? Both cities were able and used facilities that they already had. China's estimated cost to host the Summer Olympics is said to have been $40 billion dollars. Just to maintain the famous "bird nest" stadium today costs over $1.5 million dollars a year. Photos show portions of it that have failed and fallen away! Forbes solution was to have cities compete for individual events ... swimming in one city that has the necessary facilities, track another, pollution free harbors for boating events, etc. However, the games are "supposed" to bring the world together in one place and following the Forbes formula would defeat that. The costs to a country today though, begs the question, can the host really afford the costs? If they do, at what cost? Doesn't this just smack of design ... how we design events in our lives?

Enjoy the games but you might want to keep the knitting, wood carving and other hobbies you can do in front of the TV nearby or in your lap. It looks like you will have plenty of time to work on them. At least you won't have to worry about getting more chips, a beer or a trip to the potty and miss something!

Thank you for reading my blog. We design our lives and often for others as well. Please check out earlier blogs ... all address the way our lives are designed!