Time for Getting the Studio Organized

A pile of stacked canvases on a table

The fall season is a favorite time for many people.  I like fall because of the brisk and crisp air.  The solar equinox produces a nice even light in the northern hemisphere.  We break out our sweaters.  All of this reminds me a bit of academia.  These sensory queues make me remember this as a time when school is back in session.  We all know about spring cleaning.  There seems to be something about clearing clutter in the fall.  If spring is the season for cleaning, then fall must be the time for getting the studio organized. 

What was I Thinking?

I am busy these days here at the studio.  There are a lot of work and sketches laying around that have accumulated over the years.  Time to sort through it and catalogue a few things.  It hard not to spend a little extra time reminiscing over several of the canvases that I will likely remove from their stretchers.  Like looking at old photographs, I can look back some of them and remember where I was and what I was doing that entire day.  Sometimes, I look and see the progress that has been made in my work.  I will often admonish myself and wonder what I was thinking at the time.

Terrible painting of hills in Aliso Canyon, California by Curtis Green
First attempt of painting some hills in Aliso Canyon, California circa 2011 by Curtis Green. I remember being very upset and even angry at my lack of skill!

A Little Reminiscing

A conversation comes up quite often around here about hanging on to things too long.  Does the accumulation of detritus and do-dads suffocate our growth, or does it support it?  A philosophical reflection perhaps.  I tend to believe that there is a time to jettison some of what I accumulate for the sake of moving on into another phase of my journey. 

A tonal oil painting study of a scene in Carbon Canyon
A tonal oil painting study of a scene in Carbon Canyon near Brea, CA. I was likely using a limited palette of black, white and ochre as suggested by some reading I was doing. This is probably my first attempt at doing this.

The Giants may be Laughing

There is a wonderful thought that is familiar to many of us. It suggests that our accomplishments are from standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before us.  I look at the big pile of canvases, boards, sketches, and studies.  If not discards, then what are they?  They seem to be the work that was necessary to get me to the point I am now.  If not for these honest efforts and bumbling manifestations, I would be at the beginning of what I want to accomplish, and not somewhere along the way towards realizing something.

Plein air Study
Believe it or not, this muddy mess is a view of Eaton Canyon near Pasadena, CA. The ability to distill the scene into some essential features was not yet realized! The principle of atmospheric perspective was not yet comprehended either!

Will I Graduate?

This pile represents the courage it took for me to begin the journey into doing the painting I want to do.  It is like looking through an old family album, perhaps.  Each one has its share of happy reflection mixed with a bit of cringe worthy embarrassment.  I can attentively re-examine each one and have my moment with it and then move on to the next one.  Sometimes, I can sit with a cup of coffee and just look at the giant pile of so much visual journaling. There are successes and failures. Then, there is the seemingly foolish pursuit of painting in the first place. 

A sketch of a trail in Malibu, CA
My first attempts were filled with delicate sensitivity in handling. I had not realized yet that the expression comes from painting not by coaxing! Although, I do kind of like this one. A trail in Malibu, CA.

But they represent me also.  I did all of these.  The question comes again, at this moment in my artistic life, will they suffocate my growth by hanging on to them or support it by letting them go?  I look at them one more time and I sense something.  They are like a beloved teacher and the time has come for the student to depart.


Note: This was fun, I may put together a special online “gallery” of my own “Salon de Refuse’s” to display my embarrassing first attempts. Why not? Hopefully it would be and lighthearted and encouraging .

Looking at the Roses

An elderly woman relaxing in her backyard

The other day I saw my eighty-eight-year-old neighbor in her backyard, looking at the roses.
Like clockwork she is seen under her jacaranda tree enjoying the late afternoon. This time she had her feet propped up on a small outdoor table, the backdrop were vines along the fence. In my mind’s eye, I saw a painting coming together, so I ran out and met her. As usual she received me with her unique laugh that is translated as “well, here we are!”

Being an interesting matriarch of our neighborhood, she likes to tell us stories about her life as a dancer in Hollywood. I can imagine she must have been a young devilish girl. Sometimes she likes to recall some of her humorous transgressions, share her insights on the things she has learned and the things she doesn’t understand.

The More Things Change

When I visit with her, I remember this phrase; The more things change, the more they stay the same. As a young person, I would hear that and just nod with a perplexed smile on my face. How can things stay the same if they are changing? It makes no sense.

As I get older, the idea makes more sense. The experience of being human is likely very similar no matter what time I could be in. There are always problems and concerns, delights and joys. I imagine this human experience is generally the same whether I was living in my time now, where I can drive a car and check the internet or if I lived when I would have ridden a horse and sent a telegraph. The world around us changes, yet the experience generally remains the same. We laugh, love, gripe. We may even ask ourselves, if life is a joke, why does is no one laughing? Well, perhaps in the end we are, although sometimes we may be between punchlines.

A plein air painting of a woman seated in her backyard with roses by Curtis Green
In the Backyard, Looking at the Roses, 2021, Oil on Panel by Curtis Green

The More They Stay the Same

Every age seems to have its own modernity, a speed at which life operates, either by train or by plane, telegragh or internet. Yet, with all the answers and facts at our fingertips, we still wonder what this whole life is about, we still fail at things, we wonder how to relate to each other. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Art Informs Life, Life Informs Art

To look at art is to see ourselves. Whether art is imitating life or vice versa is a timeless question. I like to think that art and life inform each other. What we surround ourselves with or expose ourselves to, may influence our perspective on other things.
While I was making the painting of our beloved neighbor in the backyard that day, I remembered one of the single most important things when it comes to painting people. Above likeness, is character. There must be something that indicates within the strokes, a portrait of who the person is, and less of what he or she looks like. Get the character, get the portrait.

I noticed my subject for this painting, a woman of many stories, was sitting and looking far off. I was hoping she wasn’t bored or perhaps needed anything. Her pose was perfect, but I shouldn’t expect her to do anything she didn’t want to.


I asked her, “Everything alright? Can you stay like that for a while?”


She kind of “came to” from being lost in a thought and said, “Sure!”


She chuckled ”I was just looking at the roses anyway”.

Painting in the Canyon Lands of Utah

Oil Painting of Dead Horse Point by Curtis Green

I was invited to do some painting in the canyon lands of Utah. Driving around the most remote part of southeast Utah is a journey that leads one through Navajo reservation lands.  I know very little about the Navajo culture. What I discovered was beautiful.

In a town called Tuba City, Utah, there is a display that explains the dwellings the Navajo use(d) called, a Hogan. As a tourist, I learned the dwellings traditionally have male or female connotations. The female Hogan is, among other things, a place of welcome.  But it also seems to represent a state of departure. A display sign suggesting that as visitors, we are invited to choose our next steps as we go on our way from this place.

That last part resonated with me.  I liked the idea of being ‘blessed’, if you will, by the gesture of gratitude and hospitality a visitor receives. That ‘blessing’ can be carried forward by the choice of the traveler’s next steps.  It made me consider that the traveler can pass the graciousness to others and be mindful of how one interacts moment by moment with the world around us from that point on. 

Just Scrolling Along

Later in the day, I was mindlessly scrolling through some old posts and found a quote that I used in one of them.  It said, “A painting, is a creation made from love, care, courage, a lifetime expressed in a few strokes.”  I thought, that is rather good.  Then I wondered who it was that said that.  It turned out to be me.  Apparently, I came up with that.

Could I be noticing a remote but possible relationship between that idea in painting and what the Hogan apparently represents?

Processing the View

I was asked to do a painting at a place called Dead Horse Point.  The display of natural wonder there is immense.  Overhearing comments from fellow visitors, I realized I was not the only person feeling the need to “process” the view.  I wandered to this place and now I felt as though I were the guest here.  Insignificant, humbling, pacifying, are some feelings that can come around if one is open to those considerations.

Setting up to paint the view was going to take a little time to understand the enormity of the canyon landscape.  Little by little I continued with what I knew how to do as far as setting up my palette and easel.  Then I was ready to begin.  But, where and how?  There is so much to take in!

Start by Feeling

At a moment when I was standing before my blank canvas with my brush and paint ready, I remembered the Hogan and how we can choose our next steps.  It is often said that a journey begins with the first step.  In a way, that is what I did by pushing some paint all over the canvas, looking and learning the gestures of the canyon, “feeling” the forms that were in the foreground compared to the patterns and layers in the distance.  One gesture with the brush laid in the space where the main formation would be placed on the canvas. The painting went on from there.

Each step, or rather, decision was guided by that principle of purposefully choosing the next step in the drawing and painting of the scene.  It was as if I was in a dialogue with the landscape, as if it were telling me a story and I was writing it down in bits of color and light. 

Oil Painting of Dead Horse Point by Curtis Green. Painting in the Canyon Lands of Utah
“View from Dead Horse Point”, by Curtis Green; Oil on Board; 2021 (private collection)

Learning the Visual Language

I have not before painted in the southwest canyon lands of the United States.  The painting took me about two and half hours.  That is longer than I usually work on a plein air painting at one time.  The colors were analogous and value ranges were not far apart, except in shadows.  This was new to me, so in a way, I needed to slow down and let the landscape reveal itself as I slowly picked up on its unique visual language.  

For example, mixing an orange for a cliff facing the sun was a new challenge while being unfamiliar with how the light works here. The value of that color might be high, but its hue intensity was still saturated, so adding white to make the color brighter was not the only answer to raise the color’s key. There was a need to ‘declare the color’ but be subtle at the same time.  Like footsteps, each mark on the canvas was a decision guided first by an observation, then an offering of a mark, then a decision to modify it or to leave it as such.

I Think You Got It!

After a while, the painting seemed to say that it was done.  Other visitors made their way by me as I was finishing.  One person said, “I think you got it!”.  I agreed and thought it would be best to stop.  Some painters say that while working they are “in” the painting.  I can understand that because I often feel that way.  When I was done, I felt as though I was departing from my conversation with the landscape, the story- teller, and my visit to the visual particulars of that place.  I was “coming back” to the tasks of cleaning up, packing my gear, and loading the car. 

Order My Steps

Remembering the Hogan, I learned briefly, it is a structure built in part by observing how the animals live and how it should be oriented in the environment.  The door faces east to greet the sun.  The octagon shape is inspired by the bird nest.  The roof is the sky, the walls are the cliffs. Each pole represents a prayer or a song. All these things I just learned by some quick reading, and I am not an expert on Navajo tradition.  Rather, I was a guest that day and I was treated to the hospitality of the landscape.  But the ideas are edifying, and I consider them a gift I get to keep and share.

When I was ready to throw my stuff over my shoulder and walk away, I remembered that from this point, I am invited to choose my steps.  There was a feeling of proceeding to the car with a little more consideration of my movements than usual.  Perhaps I was just taking it all in.  With each step I felt the roll of my foot over the ground. I realized it put me in a different place physically. I was moving forward, and away from where I was, but closer to where I am going.

Should I Join the Club?

Black Wine Glasses on a Window Sill

Last month’s blog described a story about a realization I had after a wine tasting event.  My presumptions of a snobby afternoon were obliterated by the overall message from a fully credentialed sommelier, the event’s speaker.  At the end of last month’s blog, I asked myself a question. Is it my responsibility to appreciate things? Should I join the club?

Refuse my membership, please

Groucho Marx famously quipped, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”   What I imagined of a wine pairing class is that I probably would not fit in.  I did not breathe rarified air.  There was no social standing, pedigree, or position that I could claim or speak toward.  I had no exciting stories and frankly, this business about wine pairing seemed like a useless pre-occupation based on matters of opinion and expenditure status.  I found out later that my resistance, and in some ways, my prejudice was based on my own fear and feelings of inadequacy.

Do That, Don’t Do That

There are times when the tendency to trivialize prevents participation.  It is a defense mechanism, perhaps.  Supporting our children to take art classes, then deciding that there are “more important things to do” for when they get older might be a broad example.  On a smaller scale, my assertion that the wine pairing class was a “stupid thing” I got dragged into was a way for me to “win the game” before I even started playing.

What is The Real Question?

My question going into the class was, “why am I here”.  The question coming out the class was the same.  However, the context of my question was different.  Going into the class I felt there were more important things to do and think about.   Coming out, I found myself feeling that what I learned was pretty darn important, if not essential to my daily life.

Art of living

What I believe I learned has much to do with the so-called art of living. The appreciation of delightful things does not require a lot of money.  It has no consideration for economic status.  It is good to emphasize, as it was that day, that the true pleasure and edification of cultural experience is based on an almost child-like openness, not on pretense or elitism.  To decide seemingly inessential aspects of life are un-important or for a privileged few is a probably a prejudice itself.  I certainly exercised that thought on that day. 

I left there with the permission to play and be curious.  It was okay to “not know” and ask questions about things I did not understand.  But it may not be okay shut myself down and say to myself, I do not want to know.  How do I (we) enrich my (our) life and share with others?  What I may have been asking myself is, would God want me to waddle through my life without noticing or appreciating anything?  Would it be well for us to share and offer what we learn or offer what we notice with each other without disqualifying it or ourselves?

With respect to Groucho Marx, that is a club I will join. If it will have me.

Wine Pairing and the Epiphany in the Parking Lot

A Glass of Wine with a Cheese Plate on a wood cutting board. Photo by Camille Brodard

I attended a wine pairing class at a fancy marketplace known for their gourmet shopping selections.  “Hoity-toity” might be the expression used to describe it.  My initial feeling was, I will probably forget everything I sat through in the class by the time I get to my car in the parking lot.  The class was being led by a bon-fide sommelier (some-mah-YAY).  These individuals really know their subject.  Apparently only eight percent of students who seek the accolade ever achieve it.   

Yes, my eyes were darting around, assessing the crowd and the classy surroundings with a smug smirk on my face.  Very polite people in black aprons were offering me an assortment of hors d’oeuvres on trays. They held a tray with one hand while the other was behind their back.  They bent slightly forward in a posture of gracefulness.  The environment was a studio kitchen. It was lit well with warm task lighting directly over the counter tops.  Stainless-steel, state of the art appliances gleamed while set within blonde wood.  Very chic. 

Buzzing Already?

The place was buzzing with expectation. I sensed a few erudite presumptions on the faces from those hoping to confirm their subjective guessing into actual knowledge.  After all, one does not often meet a real sommelier. One of them is about to appear and at last provide the affirmative truth whether to choose red or white.   “Red or White?”   That is a question often answered based on whether the host will be serving meat, poultry, or fish.  See, I know this stuff already!  I’ll just help myself to more free crackers.

A Bumbling Guru?

The moment has arrived.  Our wine pairing grape master guru for the evening is about to appear and enlighten us.  There was a brief welcoming by the hosting establishment. As the announcements were made, I imagined a gentleman butler type. His hair would be grey on the sides. He would have a long nose, lifted and airy eyebrows. Maybe he would have a white towel draped over one arm. Maybe he would speak academically.   

Applause broke my imagining.  A man bounced, more like bumbled into view, waving his arms wildly.  His eyes were squint and his face smiling abundantly.  His hair was shoulder length and curly. He wore a vertically striped shirt with an open collar tucked somewhat into a pair of blue jeans.  In fact, he kind of looked like a mix of Columbo and Mac Davis!  (Google him).   

For Five Bucks, I’ll Blow Your Mind.

Like a comedian, he got started right away.  He said he gets hit up all the time by friends and others for consultation.  “What should I serve with my Duck l’Orange?”  He said he would quickly advise on getting a cheap five-dollar bottle table wine from the local market.  The crowd either laughed or gasped.  I leaned forward.  This was going to be good. 

His point was that the duck should be the star of the evening, not the wine.  A fine bottle should be simply enjoyed with lite fare, making the wine more important. He continued his main point about de-mystifying the world of wine and that the value of a wine is not about the price placed upon it.  The world of wine pairing becomes more enjoyable once the snobbery is removed. Not that the pleasure should descend from the enjoyment of sophistication, but rather the pleasure and enjoyment should be assessable.  Exclusive, sure, exclusionary, no.   

Irreverent Memorable Madness!

We went on to learn more about wine pairing terminology.  Most important and enlightening to me was busting the myth about red or white.  We learned that the general rule of thumb is not always a hard fact.  Sometimes, a red grenache pairs well with a blue cheese, thus violating the white goes with cheese rule.  A pinot grigio can be paired with a prosciutto, violating the red goes with meat rule.  Enjoying wine was less about the rules and terms, but more about the exploration and playfulness of tastes and discoveries.  Yes, the rules and terms mattered, but often to support the creativity. 

My original thought was that I would forget everything from this class before I met my car in the parking lot.  Instead, I was having an epiphany. The class ended up becoming one of the most enlightening and memorable moments of my life.  It changed my view of so much; such as they way I look at art, taste food, smell a flower, listen to music, acknowledge others, or linger with a simple pleasure.

Part Two – Next Month

I ask myself the question if the appreciation of things is a responsibility to life?

The banner photo is by Camille Brodard. Visit her website at Kmile Design Studio Boutique

Is There Life Without a Smart Phone?

Photo of New Mexico Interstate and Sunset by Raychel Sanner

Have you ever tried to imagine life without a smart phone?  The other day, I needed something.  The stores I needed to go to are either closed, too far away or the item I want is out of stock.  So, I started searching online, with my so-called “phone”.  I found what I needed in ten minutes and soon it was being processed for delivery to my front door.  I never got out of bed.

A New Day Dawning

Just before that, I was watching the sunrise through the windows.  Silently, I was thinking about how are those of us in the creative arts going to continue?  Last year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I had a successful private show where I sold several paintings in one afternoon!  How will I do this now?  When can artists, like myself, start showing again? 

As the sun moved more over the horizon, I tried to imagine life without technology.  I am old enough to remember the rotary phone and the Rolodex, so yes, I could imagine it.  Oddly enough, I could not remember it.  If someone were to ask me to imagine a world without smart-phones, I could. 

As I laid there watching the day get brighter, I realized that, like many of us, I have sailed so far into the ocean of technology, that imagining was no problem, I just plain forgot what it was like!

Dude, You can Do This! Where’s my Phone?

What did I do all day before checking my email or Facebook every ten minutes? Thirty years ago, how did I manage to drive all the way across the country without a phone for miles? Why now today, will I not leave the house to go grocery shopping without my “devices”?

Wait a minute … I am from the twentieth century!  I can DO THIS!  Without panicking, I can figure out how to live without a constant resource in the palm of my hand!  I can live without being pre-occupied by instant news, social media, metrics, algorithms, notifications, or whatever it is we all do all the time now.  Somehow I have trained the seventies and eighties right out of me.  Within me rose a renewed sense of ironic yet forward-thinking purpose. …  I must re-learn my old ways! 

Nice try.  No matter what I do anymore, it seems to involve some form of technology.  So then, there must be some sort of balance.  Perhaps, that is the part I forgot.  Maybe we all have. 

What Road Are We On?

I remember when the internet was called the “information super-highway”.  The vision was one where our tasks would become easier to manage and take much less time to accomplish errands or work projects.  We would be organized and be free as never before.  The promise was that we would have more time enjoying our free time since our responsibilities would take just moments to finish. 

Consider, email.  No more writing by hand, searching for stamps, standing in line at the post office after driving across town to get there.  Nice!  But, instead of cherishing our newly acquired “free time”, we decided to fill it up with doing more.  Twice as much time, twice more productive!  So, instead of welcoming a world of ease and free time, we ushered ourselves into the age of multi-tasking.  Also, I never regularly purchased reams of paper until we became a “paperless society”. 

Stolen Moments, Not What I Had in Mind

Is being constantly informed really a good thing? I think it depends on what information is being received.  Is what I am bombarded with daily truly important or did it become important because it just slid into my frame of reference?

This is where I ask myself if I can remember life before so much technology at my fingertips.  I wonder how much is me being “concerned” with what is in front of me versus how much is me having my attention stolen? 

That’s a question I would love to ask my younger self. Some decades ago, I was driving through the center of New Mexico. The windows were down, and it was raining while the sun was shining. The thrill of life, the beauty of everything I saw was all around and I was literally soaking it up.  I had no compulsion to record the moment or feel the need to update my status or check in anywhere.  There was no way of knowing where I was on a moving map.  I only knew I was in the middle of “nowhere” and it was gorgeous.  My AM radio was not receiving stations, and I had no tape player.  I just was “there”, physically, mentally, emotionally.

I Am From My Future!

If I, as my present self, were watching my younger self from the passenger seat, I could ask myself a question, “Where’s the nearest options for food, how do we get there, and how long will it take, what does the menu look like? Also, where is the motel and how much will it cost, what does it look like, where is it exactly, what have other people said about it, where’s the gas station, how close is it to the highway, what is the weather like when we get there, when does the sun rise, what is on tv tonight, who won the game, did your friend ever get back to you, are you going to call them right now, is there any traffic ahead, how much money do you have, did you pay the gas bill before you left, what’s the temperature right now?

I could only imagine my younger self, staring ahead for a moment with glints of sun in my eyes and in my hair, the wind swirling all around from the open windows at highway speed.

I’d probably turn to my future self and say after a long pause, …,

“What?”

Banner Photo by Raychel Sanner – instagram.com/raychelsnr and Raychel Sanner

Cultural Literacy versus “Doom-Scrolling”

Painting of Three Guitarists Playing by Curtis Green

There is a notion that a society is defined by its art and culture.  Think about that for a moment.  A culture can be described as a set of behaviors or beliefs common to a society.  Society and culture are two different things but also seem to mean the same thing.  Like the “chicken or the egg” question we can ask, does a society create a culture or does a culture create a society?

I would think the society comes first.  The behaviors and beliefs would then set the culture for that society.  That could be either good or bad.  So, I ask again to think about that for a moment.  Does this have anything to do with how we spend our time?  (See some suggestions below)

Cultural Literacy versus “Doom-Scrolling”

Cultural literacy is a phrase that often comes about in discussions of societal development.  This has to do with how we, as a society basically spend our time or what we place our attention toward.  For example, the more I “doom-scroll” on social media the less time I have edifying myself toward more enriching things.  (And, I have been doing a lot of “doom-scrolling” these days.) 

Shifting the Conversation

To get out of that cycle, I remind myself that making a better place for my immediate surroundings could include a shift in the conversation.  How can I improve the atmosphere around me and encourage the best in myself and others?  Could I create or contribute to a healthier discussion and use of my time?   If I do these things, will I be setting a personal practice that could invite others to consider the same?  Could my immediate friends and family, neighbors and loved ones be a micro-culture that defines how I view or enjoy my interactions with others?  Will I want to hear, listen, and contribute to ideas, concerns and actions of others in a way that is constructive and helpful?  If I do, will I be at least one example of a world becoming a more tolerant place?  Will that mean a culture based on these practices could make a better society?

A Vision Visited

This is a vision that is often dreamt and visited.  We hear this idea many times in stirring speeches and stories.  Artists are usually looked at to help us process and heal.  They often give initial guidance after tragedy or set the tone before a celebration.  We can see this just recently with Amanda Gorman as she stirred many Americans with her poem at the 2021 inauguration of American President, Joe Biden.

An Unspoken Creative Oath

Many of us are processing so much right now including Covid-19, a contentious election, civil-unrest, loss of jobs or loved ones, the list goes on.  As an artist, I sometimes find it hard to make anything during these recent months.  Then I remind myself of what may amount to an unspoken “oath” that creative people might acknowledge as a motivation.  Many artists feel that we can give of ourselves to engender a sense of community.  We want to kick-start the conversation by sharing ourselves through whatever talents we can offer.  Hopefully, this generates and fosters a shared commonality.  A good beat, an inspiring word, a soul stirring picture, a captivating dance, can be felt and acknowledged by everyone despite race, gender, class, or politics. 


Here are some artists and programs you may want to explore and see how they are offering themselves and inspiring others. 

MusiKaravan

Due to Covid19, all concert venues have closed for the time being, so Etienne Gara and YuEun Kim have decided to take to the road with their instruments and safely bring music to people.  The goal of MusiKaravan is to showcase great music, delicious food and wine together with human bonding.

www.musikaravan.com

South Bay Chamber Music Society

The aim of SBCMS is to present the highest quality chamber music performances featuring the finest musicians in Southern California.   Their concerts are now virtual. Visit their site to enjoy their recorded live concerts.

South Bay Chamber Music Society – YouTube

www.sbcms.net

Inner City Youth Orchestra

Led by Composer and Conductor, Charles Dickerson III, their mission is to cultivate musical expression as a vehicle for personal development, and to bring to fruition the full musical and academic potential of young inner city residents of Los Angeles.

Through the ICYOLA Orchestra Program, they present an annual Concert Season of 8-10 concerts that features both the standard orchestral repertoire and contemporary music that resounds within the community from which ICYOLA emanates and that it serves.  That Concert Season concludes each year with a Season Finale at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  The ICYOLA boasts approximately 125 members aged 10 and above.

www.icyola.com


ART

Google’s Virtual Art Tours

Screen Shot of Google Virtual Art Tours Collections Page
Screen Shot of Google Virtual Art Tours Collections Page

One thing about the Covid era, staying safe at home meant going virtual got better! For an aggregate of information, go no further than the almighty Google to arrange virtual tours of collections from nearly every art museum on the planet!

Collections — Google Arts & Culture

The National Museum

Tour the British National Museum or browse their collections. So much to see. Join their email list and stay involved with them as they continue their work even while they are closed.

Virtual tours | Visiting | National Gallery, London

The Louvre Museum Virtual Tours

The Louvre Museum at Night
The Louvre at Night

Which art museum is more famous than the Louvre?  Arguably none other!  Visit the museum rooms and galleries, admire the palace architecture and enjoy the views! Join a virtual tour.   Choose your language, or enjoy the tour in the universal language of art.

Online Tours | Louvre Museum | Paris

Site officiel du musée du Louvre

Literature

You can visit Penguin Random House for live virtual author events.  Click their link to learn more.

Author Events – Penguin Random House

Enjoy the Arts, Enjoy Life

Our behaviors and beliefs, or said another way, what we focus and concentrate on, will be our culture.  Our culture will define our society.  Enjoy these offerings and explore and create your own connections through art and music. We cannot help but find our humanity in these things.

Managing Success While Being a Half Committed Artist

Stretching canvas in the studio of Curtis Green Arts. Several canvases in process of being stretched and ready for gesso and painting.

We are told that to succeed in anything, one must focus on that one thing and do that one thing well.  Fine, but what if the one thing you focus on requires many things to be done well, to succeed?  How do we manage our success while being a half committed artist?

Who among us has not had an observation about films, music, art and uttered, “They sure don’t make ‘em the way they used to!”

That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed?  We may come to a point where we finally say to ourselves that the time for complete commitment has come.  Our sideline creativity has come to a crossroad and it is time to commit or quit.

A typically unavoidable fact is that there are many talented people who need some  regular supporting income that allows them to do their creative work.  So much can be said about this truth. 

That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed?

The aspiring artist may have arrived where their work has evolved as far as it can go but must “set it aside” for other income sources to be fulfilled.  If the aspiring artist is split between dedicating themselves wholly towards too many requirements, the notion often evolves towards cutting a few of those away to clear the path to succeed at the desired goal of being a self-supporting artist.  The thought might be that one must focus and do the one thing well. That is when the artist positions themselves on the precipice of life’s proverbial cliff to “make the leap” and do the thing they were truly meant to do!

Sell the House?

Hopefully, the prospect that your significant other or your family will either cheer you on, or disown you, has already been considered before making your announcement.  Much is made of chucking the old job, selling the house, and setting up shop in the country somewhere to finally write that novel, write the opus, create the body of work. That is a healthy fantasy, but it is assumed that the artist does only one thing.  That is, nothing to do but paint pictures or write pages, or play music.  Not frivolously, mind you, but dedicated!   How untrue and unprofessional this fantasy is.

Personally, I have not yet taken the running leap off the proverbial cliff.  Although I feel like I might be hanging on that always present branch that juts out from the cliffs face.  There I probably am, dangling before I loose myself and let the wings take flight.  Here, suspended between full commitment and drawing back from the edge of the cliff, I find that focusing on the one thing in order to succeed at being a full professional in my field requires many, many things unrelated to the popular idea of what being an artist means.   Today’s artist must be able to do more than just the one thing well.

Business Owner – Entrepreneur

Many of us have set ourselves up as a small business to help us manage our necessary purchases, rentals, expenses, and income as our work develops beyond the “at home” stage.  Managing the business, no matter how modest, still needs to be done.  That includes the accounting!  Accounting seems most opposite of being creative.  At least it better be!

Salesperson

“Being in sales” sounds more like something heard at a regional manager’s convention than at an art studio!  However, good salespeople are often able to understand the needs of the customer or client and pinpoint how to satisfy that need.  Not all salespeople are the “used car lot” types.  The good ones are also caring about their clients and know that a good sale means a good relationship.

Marketing

Oh no!  Marketing is supposed to be the antithesis of art.  Well, but it is creative. Thankfully, the type of “good” marketing I find myself doing is simply insuring I have enough exposure for people to know I exist and to maintain a relationship with an audience or client base.  However, that also means becoming versed in the language of marketing and social media. 

Social Media, Webmaster and Content Manager

It is a constant upkeep of creating and managing content for an audience.  I would like my content to be enjoyable, inspiring, and engaging.  If an artist is hiring someone to handle their online presence, then great!  However, most of us do it ourselves.  If that is your case, then you know you are always having to manage and improve your content and platforms. 

Do not forget: Being an artist !

This is truly a calling.  If your artistic dedication is to either paint or play golf, then you are safe from this discussion.  Making art for the pure joy of it is highly encouraged!  However, if making art because life is difficult if you do not, then you may already know that your thoughts are continuously at the passionate service of your ideas and observations. 

Perhaps it is a rite of passage and maybe we are tested by fire before the reward is received.  If we find that we have gone from the weekend artist towards the full-time (or mostly full-time) artist, we must find out whether we are willing to dedicate ourselves happily, to the many tasks required to maintain an arts practice.  Shedding all the burdensome occupations to pursue one’s craft is to only find yourself engaged in all the various other things necessary to allow for that to happen.   

The artist may find themselves working even harder in every other kind of way outside of creating their art.  However, if the artist can wake up each day and be glad to keep going, even through challenges and doubt, to maintain perseverance while managing their schedules, tasks and creative output, as well as a side job, then may that artist reach their intended definition of success.  It is possible the art public will be better for it as well. Perhaps then, the arts could delight us to the highest while  appealing and drawing out the best in us.

Once, I was out painting and someone came up and admired what I was doing.  Then they said to me, “Man, I wish I could be an artist and just paint pictures all day”. 

I made a quiet grin and wondered to myself what that would be like!

Can Art Create Community?

Photo of a brick wall with graffiti with words Together we Create. Photo by Bamgal

If the question is ‘Can Art Create Community’ then the answer should be obvious. Art is intimately married to an innate human need to communicate. It can express and provoke thought.  It gives us an ability to record events and tell stories. We can understand ourselves or even ponder the sacred.   How has this been true and how has it changed?

Continue reading “Can Art Create Community?”

Artists as Grateful Gift Givers

Oil painting and fine art print depicting trees and a field with the golden hues of fall.

Oil painting and fine art print depicting trees and a field with the golden hues of fall. Sentiment for Fall – Curtis Green

As the holiday season approaches, I started thinking about artists as grateful gift givers. Artists can be thought of as gracious and giving or snobby and pretentious or maybe a mix of all of these.  As my thoughts were coming together, I remembered a funny routine by comedian George Carlin about his views on the game of golf.  The bit explained his unique perspective about the game.  He joked that golf was a snobby, elitist, pretentious endeavor played for the sake of chasing a tiny ball around for hours on end.  Perhaps art can be viewed with similar terms.  Continue reading “Artists as Grateful Gift Givers”