Weekend Inspiration–Artpromotivate.com

Screen shot 2014-01-11 at 9.03.40 AM

Artpromotivate.com has a fabulous article for inspiration titled: 20 Art Inspiration Ideas for Creativity.  All 20 are great ideas.   One favorite for me is number 19, Making Art for Art’s Sake.  The premise behind number 19 is to simply create outside your usual comfort zone.  19 suggests trying something new or different, not focusing on theme or idea or anything in particular.  Just create.  Play a little bit.  Have some fun and see what happens.  Playing around with a cubist style does that for me.  I have no preconceived notion of where I want it go.  I just play with the color and the shapes and see what develops.  Try some of Artpromotivates’ ideas and follow where they lead.  At the very least, have some fun.  I’d love to hear about others experiences.  While you are on Artpromotivates’ site, check out some of the other motivational tips featured in other articles.

Colorful Fridays–Forays in Grey

ink landscape2

“There’s so much grey to every story-nothing is so black and white.” Lisa Ling (from Brainyquote)

A sojourn into the land of grey can be extremely painful for those who are certifiably color addicted.  Grey can quickly turn into depressing or dull or any other sad state you can think of.  Most people associate grey with negative connotations such as, “It’s a grey day.”  Or “Grey skies today.”  One of the worst associations is “Battleship grey.”  Who wants to paint a battleship?  Well, somebody might but that’s beside the point.  The connotation is still unfortunate.  These associations give the whole family of greys a bad name and especially the most widely used grey, Payne’s Grey.

Screen shot 2014-01-10 at 11.06.45 AM British watercolorist, William Payne (1760-1830), is believed to be the first artist to come up with this bluish grey, thus the name, Payne’s grey.  According to an article in Walker’s Quarterly published by Basil Long in 1922, Payne likely devised the color by blending a combination of indigo, raw sienna and lake.  Experimenting artists have come up with many combinations since to get the precise degree of bluish grey that is Payne’s grey.

Carol Gillot of the blog Paris Breakfasts states she combines ultramarine and bone black for Payne’s grey in her paintings.  Others have used combinations of Prussian blue and alizarin crimson for this particular grey. Personally, I have found the combination of viridian and alizarin crimson makes a nice Payne’s grey.  And there is always the straight stuff right out of the tube if you prefer to spend your time painting rather than mixing.

It doesn’t necessarily follow that all paintings with Payne’s grey must be negative.  A little play in the land of grey can explore new depths of shadow and form.  Painting strictly in grey can force the eye to see things that may otherwise be obscured by color.  So paint some grey skies and grey days.  Maybe even some battleships.  Have fun in the land of grey and see what happens.  Payne’s Grey could possibly break a total color addiction.  You never know, Payne’s Grey may even become a happy color.

Here are some artists doing wonderful things with Payne’s Grey:



Paintings by William Payne can be found at the Tate:


In case you want to know more things you can do with Payne’s Grey, here is a makeup artist teaching you how to create Payne’s Grey eye shadow:

Taking Inventory

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 10.59.36 PM

“We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution.” Bill Hicks (from Brainyquote)

Suppose you are stranded somewhere without any art supplies. What do you do? You could dissolve into a quivering lump of uselessness or you could look around and see what’s available. Sit down, think about it and have another cup of coffee. Suddenly the coffee stain on the napkin becomes a shape to be manipulated. Or you spot a lone ink pen on the table and decide to make a few marks. Better yet, you find your flashlight and start illuminating surrounding objects to see what shadows appear.

Artists frequently find ways to make amazing art from the most mundane of materials. Art News has an article on art made with the simple ballpoint pen. This simple instrument becomes an implement for creating amazing art. One artist has made the process of mark -making with a ballpoint pen into a performance as people gather to watch the process. Another artist will go through over 100 pens in one piece alone. The article has a lengthy and fascinating history of the invention and evolution of the ballpoint pen.

Hi Fructose has a wonderful article on the shadow art created by Kumi Yamishita. Simple sheets of paper become human faces on the wall. People appear through the shadows cast by a collection of wooden blocks. This is Colossal features art made from everyday objects by Javier Perez. Perez creates whimsical drawings out of ordinary objects such as old floppy disks. Yamishita and Perez are proof positive that traditional art supplies aren’t the only avenue to great art.

For the certified art supply junkie like me, acute withdrawal would likely ensue without a regular fix. Panic would set in. Disaster would strike. Or the alternative of a simple look around to see what’s on hand for something entirely out of character may be in order. Endless possibilities are everywhere when an inventory of routine surroundings searches for the unusual implement of art-making. Whole new worlds may open up.

Check out what this guy does with a toothbrush:

The Magic of Three

Screen shot 2014-01-07 at 9.07.36 PM

“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.” Mae West (from Brainyquote)

Is there power in numbers? Or more specifically, is there power in the number three? If so what does that have to do with art? It just might possibly be the number of success. “Myth,” “innuendo,” “hocus pocus,” some will say but they may be dismissing a powerful ingredient for success in art. New research is proving the number three to be a very effective marketing tool. The number three appears to hold fascination for people, consciously or unconsciously.

The New York Times recently featured an article that highlighted the research (here) of Kurt A. Carlson of Georgetown University and Suzanne B. Shu of the University of California, Los Angeles. The Times sums up this research as, “A new study finds that in ads, stump speeches and other messages understood to have manipulative intent, three claims will persuade, but four, (or more) will trigger skepticism, and reverse an initially positive impression.” The study appears to prove if you want to make a positive impact do things in threes. No hocus pocus here.

If three is a powerfully persuasive number in marketing, what can it do for art? Joshua Johnson of Design Shack, says, “as a designer any time you’re faced with figuring out how to logically group items in a visual arrangement, the number three is there to help you out.” The website features a number of examples of art, design and nature where the three comes into play. In art, three can be a powerful arrangement on the picture plane. A triangular formation or groups of three items will guide the eye and draw the viewer in. Create drama and interest by the use of threes.

Hocus pocus, myth, whatever, there seems to be truth in the benefits of the number three. Threes stick in the minds of the audience. It’s definitely worth a try, after all Mae West followed this principle and everyone knows what a towering intellect she was. But whatever you do, don’t go on to the fours. Fours are a whole different story altogether. Stay with the threes. The threes have it.

Here’s more Mae West:


Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 9.04.51 PM

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker (from Skinnyartist.com)

Do artists feel connected to the coverage of arts in the major arts publications and other media? Are these publications out of touch with the majority of working artists? Many times the articles in these journals seem to be very novelty oriented. At other times, they can have a general air of elitism separated from most working artists. Connecting these publications and other media outlets with working artists would be a good thing.

One arts journalist would like to know what artists and others interested in the arts think. In so doing, this journalist is asking for input from her potential audience. Chloe Veltman of ArtsJournal.com would like to hear from the arts listeners to Colorado’s NPR. In an article on her Lies like Truth blog, she puts forth an argument for more transparency on arts journalism. She has a survey in her article to uncover what others would like to see in arts reporting. That’s refreshing!

Having a connection to what is covered in arts journalism would be nice. However, most artists today are carrying on without it. Artists continue to do what they do best whether or not any of the establishment types are paying attention. Most artists are concerned with creating art. If anybody is listening that’s grand. If they aren’t, artists will still be creating art. Artists just want to make art but it never hurts to speak up when the opportunity presents itself. You never know when a connection might happen.

Shakin’ it Up

“A little rebellion is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson (From Goodreads.com)

A peak through the major arts publications is not very exciting. 2014 so far in the art world looks like more of the same. Installation art is still at the forefront of what many galleries in the major art centers are showing. Some paintings can be seen but most look like De Kooning retreads. Trolling around hoping for something to create a spark of excitement turns up a big fat zero. Where are today’s groundbreakers? They are out there. Have they been shut out by the establishment in the same way artists were in the time of the Impressionists?

The BBC introduced a documentary a few years ago with the title, “The Impressionists and Revolution.” Waldemar Januszczak shares a look at how the Impressionists changed the art world during their time. Monet and his painting buddies, Renoir, Pissarro, and Bazille faced a cold reception from the established art world of the time. But did they slink away into oblivion? No! They created their own establishment. They set up their own Salon to rival the main Salon venue of “acceptable” art at the time. In doing so, Monet and friends paved the way for Van Gogh, Cezanne, and many more who followed.

It took courage, determination and fortitude to do what the Impressionists did. They swam upstream against the flow. But they made it. They broke the art dam at the time. They shook things up. Judging by what’s out there today, it may be time for some shaking. How that happens is another question. Some banding together may be in order. Artists band together and start shaking! A little Jerry Lee Lewis music may be needed to get the ball rolling. May we soon see a “Whole lotta shakin goin on!”

Here’s Jerry Lee firing it up:

Sunday Slideshow–Winter’s Blooms

Winter’s Blooms

These beautiful pansies bloom all winter here in Tennessee.  They usually survive through what little snow we get and show their heads again after the melt.  This year may test their hardy-ness as a record breaking cold spell is on the way today.  We’ll soon see if they make it.  Gardeners, all over the area, are out covering them up.  I hope they make it.  They are the only bit of color in an otherwise brown winter landscape.

Weekend Inspiration–Gaining Exposure

Yellow Sunset2

“I like the idea of infiltrating an area that is not really exposed to me or my work.” Alexander McQueen (from Brainyquote)

Exposure is the name of the game for artists and creatives.  Getting work in front of the people who matter is a process.  It can be stressful and disheartening.  One blog has the details on how to navigate through difficulty with encouraging instructions on cutting the odds of getting featured.  Follow the instructions and see what happens!  Go to:


Best wishes and would love to know what happens!

Colorful Fridays–The Invisible Color of Harmonious War

Screen shot 2014-01-02 at 9.53.16 PM

“We never really perceive what color is physically.” Joseph Albers (from The Painter’s Keys)

Try searching the color spectrum for magenta. It’s not there. The eye can’t see it. The true compliment of green can’t be found on the color spectrum. If the eye can’t see magenta, where did it come from? The answer can be found in the aftermath of war. This color deriving from war is also purported to be the color of harmony and balance. Contradictory to say the least! This non-color has a colorful past and present.

The name for the red-purple color known as “magenta” came from the Italian town of the same name. A particularly bloody battle where France and Italy fought the Austrians in 1859 took place near the Italian town of Magenta. The blood-soaked ground turned a reddish purple color after the war. This same color is now the center of a new, though bloodless, war.

It seems Telecom giant, T-Mobile has trademarked the color magenta. The T-Mobile trademark information lists “the color magenta” in with its other company trademarks. A subsidiary of AT&T, has a logo with a magenta hue that T-Mobile felt resembled their magenta hue so closely that the response must be a legal battle. T-Mobile has declared war on AT&T for the use of magenta by its subsidiary, AIO. The lawsuit is working its way through the courts. Hopefully, some thoughtful judge will say a color can’t be the sole property of one company, or anybody else for that matter.

As the new war carries on over magenta, one website is proclaiming magenta the color of “universal harmony and emotional balance.” Empower Yourself with Color Psychology also says of magenta, “This is a color to create harmony and balance.” I wonder if anyone has told this to T-Mobile?

How can a company trademark a color that doesn’t exist? Good question. Liz Eliot for Biotele.com explains how the eye sees or doesn’t see magenta in an article titled, “Magenta ain’t no color.” The eye games in the article demonstrate the process of fooling the eye to see magenta. The article also explains how magenta is the actual true compliment of green, not the red that is routinely taught. According to Eliot, on the color spectrum, the eye does not pick up any color that resembles the reddish purple of magenta.

Colorlovers.com tells us that T.Mobile does not own magenta’s use by artists, only by those in the telecom industry. Playing with how the eye sees or doesn’t see magenta can make for some interesting painting. When magenta is not inciting war, it is introducing “harmony and balance.” With magenta as the star, perhaps one can paint balanced battle paintings of harmonious wars.

For more on how the eye sees magenta, follow these links:

Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine explains magenta in: “What is the wavelength of magenta?”

Wimp.com explains it in a video demonstration: “Color mixing: the mystery of magenta.”

Sensational Color has more on the history of the name: http://www.sensationalcolor.com/color-meaning/color-words-phrases/origin-magenta-860#.UsYu3yjnt0A

Passing Fancy

Screen shot 2014-01-01 at 9.39.53 PM

“Fads are the kiss of death. When the fad goes away, you go with it.” Conway Twitty (from Brainyquote)

Who or what will be in the spotlight of art for 2014? What does it take to make it into the spotlight, the center stage? An idea, a painting, a poem, a sentence, a photograph that goes viral. There is no question that rocketing into superstardom overnight can make an artist a bunch of money, prestige, and more. Is that a place that can be planned for and what if it doesn’t happen?

The answer would necessarily depend on the artist. I confess to not knowing the exact percentage of those who make it to the viral stage but my guess is the number is rather small, probably closer to those who win the lottery. That is one of those wonderful things that is great if it happens but not something to take to the bank. Building a success that stands the test of time rather than the flash in the pan of being a current fad is a realistic goal. Sure it would be great and few would turn away the chance to be that fad but what about tomorrow?

Tiernan Morgan of Hyperallergic writes of the fading of the Banksy craze. Banksy was all the rage of the London art scene but is now becoming a thing of the past. Banksy became a huge success story and the darling of the art world for a time. As Morgan writes, “The art world, with its unforgiving addiction to novelty, always sneers at commercial success.” Banksy’s success has become his downfall. As he fades, the so-called art world will be looking for the next “novelty” to latch onto.

Before Banksy became the trend there was Damien Hirst and his dot paintings. The travails of Hirst have been much in the news lately. One wonders if Hirst’s troubles are due to the “novelty” having worn off for his dot paintings. Modern Edition speculates that perhaps Hirst’s downfall in popularity can be attributed to “overproduction.” An overproduction of dots may have led to the art worlds taste for the “novelty,” of Banksy’s stencils on the street. Now stencils are in overproduction.

Plantiebee asks the question, “Do you feel like you, yourself, are influenced or molded by the current trends in the art world?” Are artists creating art that is in the soul or creating for what the art world might want? Predicting how the two converge is an unknown. A commercial success is a great thing for any artist however fleeting it may be. The more fulfilling goal may be to gain the success that lasts. That success takes time, planning and following the heart not the trends. The long -term plan may also make a successful career and one that stands the test of time. Plan for the long term but grab the spotlight if it comes your way! A passing fancy is still a fancy.

Plantiebee has a great discussion of the subject of trends in art and what it means to artists at the link: