Shakin’ it Up

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

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:

Weekend Inspiration–Looking to Each Other

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“You can look anywhere and find inspiration.”  Frank Gehry  (from The Painter’s Keys)

Dry spells, days without inspiration, lack of incentive can happen at anytime to any artist.  You show up at the studio, sit in front of an empty canvas or paper and nothing happens.  Nothing is working.  You looked to all your usual sources of inspiration and still nothing.  So what now?  You can give up and walk away or you can look to your fellow artists.

Stories are everywhere of artists who worked in groups.  The Impressionists were noted for it.  Monet and Renoir occasionally painted the same subjects.  Picasso and Braque explored cubism together.  The tales of artists gathering together in Paris cafes and bars are well known.  The Abstract Expressionists frequently met in New York at various locations.  Artists are gathering today.  Are you one of them?

Gathering with fellow artists today does not necessarily mean physically meeting in a restaurant or studio.  Artopia Magazine suggests, “Following artists on social media is a great source for finding inspiration on many levels.”  Taking the time to “like” other artists on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, read artist’s blogs and check out artists websites are all ways to gather with other artists in today’s internet world.  Artists are doing amazing things all over the world.  All it takes is a couple of clicks to enter a world of inspiration from fellow artists. suggests joining a local art group and if you don’t have one, start one.  Find a group of other artists and make plans to meet together.  You can choose to take a meal together regularly just to discuss art in general.  You could meet together for some Plein Air painting.  Another possibility is potluck once a month rotating at each other’s studios. Find your fellow local artists and make a plan.

When you are blanking out on inspiration, look around at other artists and see what they are up to.  If you find your fellow artist also in a blank place maybe you can inspire each other.  And if not, you can always commiserate with one another until new sources of inspiration can be found.  Nobody stays dry forever.  Companionship during the dry times may help move the dryness on down the road.

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