Category Archives: art

New tools for traditional skills

I found this video in a blog post on Art in the real world.

An Apple ipad live fingerpainting demo that David Kassan streamed live from my Brooklyn studio on Monday June 21st. 2010, The model sat for 3 hours as David painted and answered questions on how I use the iPad and the Brushes app.

This is an amazing example of how the latest technology can still be used in a traditional way, so to speak. I love the sped-up version at the end which makes transparent the pattern of layering in the creation of the portrait.

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How does my Art wiki grow

My art wiki is growing fat in places. I thought I’d point to the areas which have expanded the most in the hope of reaching Visual Arts teachers and students.

The blogs page in Blogs and Nings has really expanded. Blogs are my favourite way of finding art resources since they often represent specialised interest areas. It’s a very personal and rich way of discovering art. Blogs are  a labour of love, expressing the unique personality of the author. I can’t think of a more inspiring way to learn.

Here are some examples:

Roberto Bernardi, La Tavolozza , 2010, oil on canvas, 22 x 30″

100 best art blogs Massive list here divided into useful sections (you might have to give up your day job for this)
Art Studio Secrets Some very practical video demonstrations (under ‘Demonstrations’)
Art in the real world “In The Real Art World” alerts you to the best exhibitions of representational “realism” which are on at the moment anywhere in the world.
Sketchcrawl A communal blog for compulsive sketchers
Ephemera assemblyman A beautiful blog of many different examples of art, illustration, design and more.
Urban sketchers This blog features sketches and often equally colorful stories behind the scenes by invited artists correspondents in more than 30 countries around the world. Some are architects and illustrators, others are graphic designers, web developers, painters or educators, all sharing the same passion for drawing on location.
Samuel Michlap Concept artist, illustrator, fine artist and more.
Painting perceptions Perceptual painting is painting life from a personal vision and experience not just recording appearance. As Cézanne said, “Painting is nature seen through a temperament.”
Lines and colors Lines and Colors is a blog about drawing, sketching, painting, comics, cartoons, webcomics, illustration, digital art, concept art, gallery art, artist tools and techniques, motion graphics, animation, sci-fi and fantasy illustration, paleo art, storyboards, matte painting, 3d graphics and anything else I find visually interesting.
Paper forest showcasing great paper stuff, 2D, 3D and animation.

The Image/Flickr page is bursting with links to wonderful sharing people on Flickr – a cornucopia of imagery to inspire students looking for ideas in different media and styles.

Here’s a small sample:

by Irina Troitskaya on Flickr

Guggenheim Museum’s flickr sets
Flickr photostream by laura@popdesign Laura writes the Animalarium blog.
Flickr origami set2by Eric Gjerde
Flickr origami setby Eric Gjerde
All Eric’s origami and tessellation sets are
here.See Eric Gjerde’s website Origami tessellations
Art21’s flickr photostream
Bibimorvarid’s Art&Design set
Bibimorvarid’s photostream
Papercraft and mail art– by Corduroy Cat
Altered playing cards by Corduroy Cat.
Atcs and inchies by Corduroy Cat.
Corduroy Cat’s contacts and groups on Flickr (lots of stuff to explore here)

The Images/Design page is another rich resource; here are only some of the links:

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Nature


Blickfang – the eye-catching covers of Weimar Berlin.
Thirty book covers from Poland (from A Journey From My Skull)
Kunstformen der Natur (art forms of nature) by Ernst Haeckel (flickr set saved by Eric Gjerde)
The Grammar of Ornament by Owen Jones. Eric Gjerde has scanned this book and shared it on Flickr.
Styles of Ornament by Alexander Speltz. Tessellation related photo plates from Alexander Speltz’s 1906 book, “Styles of Ornament”. Eric Gjerde has scanned this book and shared it on Flickr.
Digital library for the decorative arts and material culture
Great style illustrations by Iv Orlov
Typographic art
Design Online: Design Online is an electronic library from the University of the Arts, London, containing a digitised record of Design magazine for the years 1965 to 1974. There are around 100 pages in each magazine, which are available as full screen size black-and-white or colour images.

Erwin Poell

There’s so much animation out there,   I love collecting examples. Amazing creativity to be discovered in this section, and fun to watch.

Phosphoro – is an award-winning student 2D animation (Read about it here. )

Of course, the wiki contains much, much more than this.  Some sections are more comprehensive than others, but you can be sure that I’m always on the lookout for new resources to support the teaching and learning of Art-related studies.

Why don’t you have a look for yourself?


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Edit or post now?

Chris Beesley is a graphic designer/illustrator living in Fairfield, Conneticut. His post, Seeking balance in a self-imposed spotlight,  raises a question relevant to bloggers, although he writes specifically as a graphic designer.

Here’s my big question; do I post more raw materials that haven’t been fully vetted yet, accepting that some may be real garbage and I may get judged as such? Or do I hold back most of the untried pieces until I’ve had an opportunity to really think about them, accepting the fact that some of the good stuff may never see daylight?

Chris posted this photograph to make a point about the rubbish he’d picked up around his neighbourhood while on a walk.

Looking back I’m glad I posted it, and I still believe that the poster was a good idea but there are definitely some things I might have changed had I waited.

Obviously, Chris is talking about his reputation based on the quality of his work, but his questions reminded me of the dilemma facing bloggers in general – with so much flying in from social media, do you go with your desire to get something out there while it’s current, and while your ideas are fresh, or do you wait until you’ve carefully edited your post?

Are blog readers more forgiving, not expecting the same quality of writing and thinking as they would from newspapers, magazines and journals?

It’s obvious that my posts would fail if assessed as coherent, well planned and properly researched writing, but aren’t blogs intrinsically more informal?

I really like Chris’ photo – mainly for its concept; it’s clever. I like the fact that he threw it together on the spot following his idea. There’s something to be said for this kind of spontaneous post.

Don’t you think?

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Filed under art, blogging, Uncategorized, Web 2.0, writing

People are brilliant

Long school holidays have given me the time to browse online to my heart’s content. I’m overwhelmed by the constant stream of what everyone is reading, writing, thinking, commenting, asking, creating and sharing. How would I know about any of these things otherwise? I wouldn’t.

Examples of people’s creativity are shared online all the time. I love the way technology combines with basic skills like drawing and paper folding in this video. The creator of the following animation describes this as ‘a shot at animating the old flip book’.

I can’t upload the video so here’s the link.

parkour motion reel from saggyarmpit on Vimeo.

Thanks to @mizminh

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We all need a regular kick in the pants

Antoni-INhabit2

Janine Antoni, “Inhabit,” 2009. Courtesy of Luhring Augustine Gallery

 I agree with the Art21 blog post, Another kick in the pants, that everyone needs the occasional kick in the pants, only I think that maybe we need it regularly. Joe Fusaro says

I use Art21 for a kick in the pants from time to time, whether it’s to inspire my teaching by watching Carrie Mae Weems or to give my studio practice a jolt by listening to Kiki Smith talk about her process for making works of art. I mean, everyone needs an occasional kick in the pants, don’t you think?

Joe goes on to mention TED talks as another source of inspiration, and I have to agree with him –  TED.com and Art21 have been regular sources of inspiration for me too.

TED’s theme is Ideas worth spreading, and its mission is of epic dimensions:

…our scope has become ever broader…. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other. This site, launched April 2007, is an ever-evolving work in progress.

A clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers is an amazing boast, and the reason why so many people either discover TED with joy or continue to return to its rich storehouse.

The scope of Art21 is enormous, and its themes a dream for teachers of art. The series explore such themes as compassion, consumption, ecology, fantasy, humor, identity, loss & desire, memory,paradox, place, play, power, protest, romance, spirituality, stories, structures, systems, time, and transformation. Each theme is tantalising in its scope, eg. compassion – artists explore conscience; reconcile past & present; expose injustice; express tolerance. It makes me wish that Art were compulsory, or at least, not separate from the official literacy which seems only to reside in English. A sharpening of higher order thinking skills will find no better place than the Arts (although it certainly resides in all subjects).

Every day I still find myself explaining, justifying and defending my online activity. I always point out that it’s the connections to people and ideas, information and images, which I would otherwise not discover, that keep me coming back to my laptop. It’s a breathlessly vast source of inspiration and ideas, a regular kick in the pants – pushing my thinking, challenging me, jolting me and enriching my life.

I would recommend Art21 to anyone, not just art lovers, because it provides a window into a world of ideas and creative concepts, and of course, TED.com because of its amazing array of interesting people who have a way of making complex things simply fascinating.

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Filed under 21st century learning, art, creativity, Education, teaching, technology, Web 2.0

Facebook performance – What are you doing right now?

phonetasticview

Photo of An Xiao

I was reading an article in the New York Times,  Where art meets social networking sites, and came across Debbie Hesse who is an installation artist and the director of artistic services and programs for the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. According to the article, Debbie said she was a lot like others in the late boomer generation,

“trying to learn how to not be left in the dust with the new technology.” But she may be ahead of the pack in employing social networking as the theme for an art show.

Social networking a theme for art?

I figure it’s not entirely surprising. Why shouldn’t artists create something from the ubiquitous social networking phenomenon? Where there’s something happening, it’s natural for someone to analyse it or create something from it?

Debbie organised an exhibition named after Facebook’s communication format, Status Update. More than 50 works of art by a dozen artists were displayed.

But how can art come from social networking?

“Status Update” has turned out to be a somewhat unlikely intersection of digital concepts and conventional art.

Ms. Hesse curated the show almost entirely through Facebook, with the help of Donna Ruff, a Brooklyn artist. She found two categories there, she said: “Artists that are using it as a medium, performing in it, using it as poetry, using it as a canvas. And then artists that are commenting on it as a new form and creating new dialogues about what this means in our lives.”

Rachel Perry Welty is one of the artists who comments on the new way of communication.  For her performance, Rachel used her iPhone to enter a status update every minute for 16 hours.  That is, every sixty seconds Rachel answered the Facebook status question ‘What are you doing right now?’ (which has since been replaced by the question ‘What’s on your mind?’)

I hope artists and art lovers will not scream at me if I raise my eyebrows every so slightly in response to Rachel’s compulsive stream of status updates being called a ‘performance’.  Or maybe I’m just annoyed that I didn’t think of the idea first. Or maybe I should reconsider my concept of art.

Rachel says that, after reading an article about social networking entitled Brave new world of digital intimacy by Clive Thompson, she decided to give Facebook a go.

I’ve found Facebook to be useful as a view to the global artist community, but I don’t send gifts or answer quizzes or throw sheep at people. And I don’t update my status on Facebook anymore after my performance on March 11.

Rachel explains the performance aspect of Twitter on the Art:21 blog:

I use Twitter as an extension of my creative process, in the sense that it’s a view into the daily life of a working artist. As an artist, my project is concerned with the minutiae of life. As humans, we spend most of our time engaged in the small moments (whether we tweet or Facebook about them or not) and in my project I am trying to get people to notice the things they wouldn’t ordinarily. In that sense, Twitter seems like a perfect platform for me. It’s an ongoing performance.

You can follow Rachel on Twitter.

It’s worth reading Rachel’s interview in the blog post, but before you do, I’d like to highlight this paragraph, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about  myself (although not expressing as eloquently):

I had been thinking about and observing how we craft a persona online. I started paying attention and reading people’s status updates in learning my way around Facebook. It struck me that some people must spend more time than others choosing their words, just as some people spend more time getting dressed in the morning. Some are clever and entertaining, some vague or opaque, and others utterly banal. Each statement on its own doesn’t say much, but the collective tells a surprisingly sophisticated story, and forms a portrait of sorts. My performance was a way to make a quick and intense self-portrait. Imposing the limitation of 60 seconds was an attempt to make that more real.

‘Quick and intense’ is another way of looking at Facebook or Twitter status updates. We’re not talking great literature here, but as a snapshot of the mundane, it’s a pretty good window.

I realise that when I look back at my year-long daily photo challenge, threesixtyfivephotos. Each day’s snapshots seem banal and almost ridiculously tedious, but looking back at over 300 days now, I can see that it’s a concise overview of a life which would otherwise just pass by and be largely forgotten.

Rachel’s observations provide much food for thought; I urge you to read the whole article. Forgive me but I can’t resist pulling out one more paragraph:

Afterwards, I thought of Sophie Calle’s work where she follows a stranger throughout his movements in a day. My work was the reverse: I got strangers to follow me throughout my day. Well, into the next day, I found myself silently narrating (“Rachel is getting a cup of coffee,” “Rachel is ready for a nap”), this experience imprinted on my brain like the afterimage from a flashbulb.

And a big question which was asked by the interviewer:

In your statement, you mentioned that you aim “to raise more questions about narcissism, voyeurism, privacy, identity and authority, as issues we consider in a technologically modern world.” What do you see as the role of online social media in society?

That’s a big question. I’m not sure we know yet. Clearly, it’s a way to communicate with a lot of people quickly and without friction. Relationships will be easier to maintain for a long time, for good or for ill. Imagine, as my son will probably experience, never losing touch with your best friend from 3rd grade. (Michelle Turner from Mr. Brentnall’s class at NIS in Tokyo, are you out there?!)Will it make it impossible to shed your identity as you move through life? Will you always be who you once were?

This is a fascinating question and one, I think, which we should all consider, and as educators, raise with our students.

I also recommend you read about how other conceptual artists have represented social networking. An Xiao, pictured above, is one of the group of artists.

As an aside, it’s interesting how the Facebook status ‘What are you doing right now’ has been replaced by ‘What’s on your mind?’ – a move from the external to the internal.  Is Facebook becoming less of a place where you keep an eye on what people are up to, and more of a platform to share thoughts, feelings and reactions?

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Have we understood picture books yet? What is YA literature?

shaun tan

Shaun Tan and Markus Zusak, two of Australia’s favourite and most talented authors/illustrators, have received international acclaim by winning in two of the major categories at the Deutsche Jugendliteraturpreis, Germany’s most prestigious awards for children’s and YA books.

zusak

Shaun Tan received first prize for the Picture Book category for his Tales from outer suburbia and Markus Zusak won the Youth Jury prize for The Book Thief.

bookthief

According to Tim Coronel in Publishing Perspectives, the award jury commented on Tan’s book that

 ‘the way that pictures and words work together in this carefully designed book is perfect.’

The Youth Jury also commented on Zusak’s story that 

‘many individual stories of the experience of youth in the Second World War have been written, but none match up to the narrative of this book.’ That’s a serious recommendation, especially from a German judge, considering the enormous output of literature on this subject.

tales from outer suburbia

The whole problematic issue of picture books and their audience continues to generate debate. In our school library, the picture books shelf conceals many illustrated stories worth deeper analysis in the classroom, but few will remember this as they pass them by.

Shaun Tan describes his picture books on his website:

They are best described as ‘picture books for older readers’ rather than young children, as they deal with relatively complex visual styles and themes, including colonial imperialism, social apathy, the nature of memory and depression.

red-tree

Understanding Shaun Tan’s thinking behind his picture books is a key to understanding just where Tan’s books belong. Michelle Pauli has written a very interesting article about Shaun Tan in The Guardian. Although Shaun’s books depict ‘a surreal world of bizarre animals, skew-whiff buildings, dreamlike landscapes and invented languages’, his books are far from fairy tales or pure fantasy, and that is because ‘Tan’s worlds, however fantastical they may appear on first glance, have their own internal logic. It is what he describes as “groundedness”, and he regards it as crucial to the success of the stories’.

“By itself, just to draw crazy creatures has limited appeal – if I had to give up one thing it would be the wild imagination. When the work becomes too detached from ordinary life it starts to fall apart. Fantasy needs to have some connection with reality or it becomes of its own interest only, insular. In The Lost Thing, to have creatures flying around is unsatisfactory without the context. It works because it exists in opposition to the world in the rest of the story.”

the-arrival

The fact that we still cling to narrow categories, such as ‘picture books’ and ‘Young Adult’ not only confuses readers but also pre-judges and precludes books from taking their place in the world of serious literature. Yes, many people understand and appreciate the complexity of Tan’s picture books and graphic novels (The arrival), but many more won’t give them a second chance when they see the children’s book award sticker or don’t even see them at all if they’re displayed in the children’s section of the book shop. As Tan says,

One bookseller in Australia took the children’s book award sticker off The Red Tree as he felt he could sell more that way, and sold an extra 30-40 copies a month. It’s about simple things like font size – people think they can judge the age a book is for by the font size and assume that it’s for little kids if it has a big font, but that’s silly. I don’t worry too much about those things as the creator because I figure that the books will find their own audience and sometimes I like the idea that they can give adults a surprise pleasure.

It’s interesting how readers feel there must be a definite meaning within the symbolism of Tan’s books. Tan himself avoids being pinned down to a single interpretation.

Tan is reluctant to delve too deeply into the “meanings” of his fables. Towards the end of The Lost Thing he writes, “Well, that’s it. That’s the story. Not especially profound, I know, but I never said it was. And don’t ask me what the moral is.”

If artworks cannot be pinned down to a clear and definitive interpretation, then picture books of Tan’s calibre are surely written and illustrated with the same infinite possibilities in mind. How could an artist have predicted, for example, all the interpretations that would come out of his or her painting? One thing is for sure – so-called children’s books, such as those by Shaun Tan and Markus Zusak, are fertile ground for rich discussion.

This has been cross-posted at Fiction is like a box of chocolates.

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Filed under art, Children's books, debate, reading