The US Postal Service has issued commemorative stamps for the great American artist, Ruth Asawa. If you don’t know much about her (I did not), then I highly recommend this piece.
She lead a storied life, and overcame great hardships on her way to becoming the artist and the person she was. That sounds trite, but it’s true.
One of my goals has been to learn more about women artists, artists who have often been overlooked but should never have been. That goal has lead me learn about artists such as Asawa. I recommend you do, too.
I’ve read a number of books and other pieces on DaDa and I always felt that she never gets enough recognition for the fine work she did. I’m happy to see she is getting it here. If you want to learn more about her and her work, follow the link.
I have been trying to get better at drawing lately, but I have been floundering. Much of what I have been drawing is poor by my standards. Poor and not getting better. To try and get better, I was trying different media and different tools (coloured pencils, watercolour, etc.). All these different things didn’t help. I was stuck.
Then I came across this video and had an a-ha moment. It’s really good. I recommend you take a few minutes and watch it.
In a nutshell, the idea is to focus. Focus on drawing one thing. Don’t do what I was doing, which was a little bit of everything. A little bit of everything didn’t add up to anything.
What I found was that by focusing, I didn’t have to think of what to do, I just did it. In his case he drew emus. In my case I drew robots. Just dozens of robots. I would start by drawing a shape and then adding to the shape. Or I’d start with a theme (a book robot) and use that to draw. The drawing didn’t have to be good, though I tried to make it good. Regardless of good or bad, what I discovered was that I was learning more about drawing from each picture. Before, I would think: what shall I do to practice drawing and get better? Now I don’t think, I just draw, and I am naturally getting better.
I think this can be true of any skill. Take running for example. You might fear starting because you don’t know anything about how to run well. Fine, just pick a short distance and run it. Do that over and over. Each time you do, you will learn something. Maybe you are running too fast. Or too slow. Or too long. Or too much. Take notes each time and look to improve. If you get stuck, do some research and try to apply it. The next thing you know you will be much better at it then you were only a short time ago.
Anyway, watch the video and then think about how you can apply it to your own life. You will improve. Keep with it.
Mary Pratt is a master of colour and light. You get a sense of that just from this photo of her, and if you have ever seen her paintings, then you already know that. I have been studying her painting recently, and in search of more information of her, came across this great piece in Canadian Art. She passed away in 2018, but her art will live on long after this decade or even century has passed.
If you aren’t already a fan, I recommend knowing more about her and her work. That linked article is a good starting point.
Some good links on the art of the 1980s, of which Basquiat and Haring played a big part, here and here.
Most of the time the links I post are mostly because I want other people to know about them. Links that talk about my youth are mainly for me. 🙂 But fans of either painter or art of that time should click through.
Painting above by Haring in tribute to Basquiat. May they both RIP.
It seems every year the website Artsy puts together a list of artists who were recently influential. The lists are always interesting, mixing artists you likely heard of (e.g., Jeff Koons) and others you may hear more of. It’s a great way to find out what artists are making a difference right now.
I had not heard of Mrinalini Mukherjee before. (Not that I even pretend to know everything about the current art world.) But I am glad to have discovered her for myself. Go here and learn more for yourself: The Most Influential Artists of 2019 – Artsy
(Image about is of Mukherjee and a featured work of hers.)
I’ve always loved and admired JFK’s Official White House Portrait. I found it intriguing, too. After reading the “Story of Aaron Shikler’s Posthumous Painting of John F. Kennedy”, I found it even more so. Fans of the work or JFK will want to read that piece.
Art schools are renowned as being inspiring places where art lovers can imbibe the history and practice of their favorite creative disciplines among like minded strivers. They’re also known for being very expensive (and not necessarily remunerative). Happily, we can offer an alternative avenue to learning. Here, …find a syllabus that will give you the tools you need to navigate today’s art world—taught by some of the greatest artists and thinkers in the world.
If that appeals to you, get a copy of that syllabus and get studying.
Among other things, there’s some offbeat examples of how to do gallery walls. Sure, you can do strict grid patterns for your gallery wall, but why not try something different, like that wall shown above?
Also, if you are interested in getting great affordable art, check out the works for sale at Art Interiors. They have gallery wall ideas, too.
Anselm Kiefer had a big show in England this year, and that lead me down a rabbit hole reading pieces in the Guardian on him. Never boring in his art work or his interviewers, anyone interested in knowing more about this great German artist can learn more here:
They may not be fancy, but they are cheap and plentiful. And some people have used them to work out ideas. People like Basquiat and Haring.
I never thought much of them, but I changed my mind after a number of posts over at the blog of Austin Kleon. Click on the link for more inspiration. Then head out to the dollar store and get your own.
Step One: You Are a Total Amateur
Lesson 1: Don’t Be Embarrassed
Lesson 2: “Tell your own story and you will be interesting.” — Louise Bourgeois
Lesson 3: Feel Free to Imitate
Lesson 4: Art Is Not About Understanding. Or Mastery. (It is about doing and experience)
Lesson 5: Work, Work, Work
Step Two: How to Actually Begin
Lesson 6: Start With a Pencil
Lesson 7: Develop Forms of Practice
Lesson 8: Now, Redefine Skill
Lesson 9: “Embed thought in material.” — Roberta Smith
Lesson 10: Find Your Own Voice (then exaggerate it)
Lesson 11: Listen to the Crazy Voices in Your Head
Lesson 12: Know What You Hate
Lesson 13: Scavenge
Step Three: Learn How to Think Like an Artist
Lesson 14: Compare Cats and Dogs
Lesson 15: Understand That Art Is Not Just for Looking At
Lesson 16: Learn the Difference Between Subject Matter and Content
Lesson 17: See As Much As You Can
Lesson 18: All Art Is Identity Art!
Lesson 19: All Art Was Once Contemporary Art
Step Four: Enter the Art World
Lesson 20: Accept That You Will Likely Be Poor
Lesson 21: Define Success
Lesson 22: It Takes Only a Few People to Make a Career
Lesson 23: Learn to Write
Step Five: Survive the Art World
Lesson 24: Artists Must Be Vampires
Lesson 25: Learn to Deal With Rejection
Lesson 26: Make an Enemy of Envy
Lesson 27: Having a Family Is Fine
Step Six: Attain Galactic Brain
Lesson 28: What You Don’t Like Is As Important As What You Do Like
Lesson 29: Art Is a Form of Knowing Yourself
Lesson 30: “Artists do not own the meaning of their work.” — Roberta Smith
Lesson 31: All Art Is Subjective
Lesson 32: You Must Prize Vulnerability
Lesson 33: Be Delusional
But read the piece: the comments he provides are what gets to the heart of it.
I used to have great disdain for Koons, but the more I think about his work, the better appreciation I have for it. There is a ceiling to that appreciation: the emptiness of it imposes that. But Koons and his work gets me to think about art and the art world and the meaning of art and culture, and for that his work appeals to me.
However you think about him, those pieces are worth reading.
Key quote from the Austin Kleon piece is this, from Laurie Anderson:
The world may end. You’re right. But that’s not a reason to be scared. None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it. You know? What are you working for, posterity? We don’t know if there is any posterity.
A good item to add to your bucket list, if you are a fan of Basquiat: travel the world and see all the places where his works are displayed. To do that, you will need this list: Where to See Basquiat Around the World – Barron’s. And money. And time.