I (this is Michele writing) used to do a lot of narrative/figurative work. Each collage had a short story attached to it. Sometimes the art came first, sometimes the story. I always wanted to tell stories of the kids I worked with while doing nonprofit work for 14ish years. I made a few solid artworks but had to stop before I drowned in their realities. In art school I was taught to paint conceptually. In short, paint about something really important. Speak from the heart. Make really important and well crafted work.
I wanted the story of the challenges many kids face to be projected into the world in a way that would make a change, or at least a dent. Poverty, broken families, underfunded education, lack of resources needed to move out of poverty, the revolving door of detention facilities...a butterfly effect many years in the making. This would be really important work. Really daunting, overwhelming, blank canvas staring, depressing work.
I made these 3 artworks about 10 years ago. Some of the collage elements came from the kids. I hadn't been able to make anymore in this theme and depth until just recently. These artworks were the visual catalyst for a Rocket Grant that we (Rich, Crystal and I ) got a few years ago and the project will be completed this year. The story melds the stories of kids we worked with in detention facilities, project housing, and low income schools. Art is Long, Life is Short focuses on 3 fifteen year old characters named Darian, Harmony and Marquez. If your curious about this story, you can view our first start here. We have since scrapped this visual style and are now creating the story in a video format with 3-d backdrops and brought on another artist to contribute. The work is hard to make and unfortunately still very relevant 20 years later.
I welcome any comments.
If any of the talented artists that I was so fortunate to work along side of during my time in nonprofit are reading this, thank you for everything. I think of you often.
Here is a sneak peek into the new format for Art is Long, Life is Short story:
My friend and colleague, Terri Wheeler, challenged me to join in on posting 3 images of art a day for 5 days. Today I'm posting a small series of drawings I created based on a very short story that I never ended about a woman named Jessica. Its actually 5 images, so I get bonus points :)
She had almost forgotten how she ended up drifting in the ocean without direction. It had been her plan to go on a great journey; pack up her meager belongings and go in search of revelations and great wisdom. These days, Jessica dreamed of mooring her houseboat on the shore of an exotic place. To live in a boat community where neighbors are always inviting her to share dinners and bottles of wine. But which shore should she pick? One never seemed right or more obvious than the rest. She feared the final decision. She only felt comfort in not choosing. However this just left her meandering and lonely. In desperation, she took out a slip of embossed stationary and a felt tipped pen...
Artists spend a good deal of time looking, observing, noticing patterns, tuning into nature's rhythm and investigating mysteries themed by their insatiable curiosity. Essentially, this is highly developed child's play. I wish everyone granted themselves more time to play and really enjoy the world. Life would be a lot less stressful for all of us.
Inspiration, or a muse, is generally easy to come by. I love looking at tree tops and examining them leaf by leaf until my attention turns to the squirrels scattering up and down the trunks after one another. Then, getting lost in the intricate pattern of the tree trunk, wondering how many rings may be below the craggy outer surface. Who else sat under this tree and what was their life like? All while enjoying the feeling of sitting still and absorbing the warmth of the sun. This is my meditation. Allowing myself to be entertained by nature. How great is that?
But the actual making of the artwork that follows takes much more energy. That information needs to simmer and shift and find its settling place in my brain until the image comes into focus in my head. Once settled, its time to sketch. I draw out the image in my head, marking where important elements of the image will be placed. I must do this hurriedly because as soon as I focus on the details, the image in my head dissipates. Then I'm left alone with just the scratchy drawing on paper.
Now I have to interpret what I think I saw and react to the marks I already made on the paper surface. The image on the surface must take on its own form. Shapes must engage with the edges of the paper and color placement needs to force the eyes to bounce around the surface, in and out of spaces. In order to be a successful artwork, you must understand why this preserved moment is important and deserving of your attention. I want you to see and feel each leaf and blade of grass with the same focus and meditation.
I hope you find time to play today.
If your ready to put our art on your wall, I'd be happy to make that an easy task, send me an email and we can work out the details.
Have a great weekend,
This morning I was reflecting on how Rich and I first got our start as working artists. During our very first commission job, a wall mural, I knocked over a gallon of bright green paint which spread quickly all over the floor. Yay me!
We have been quite lucky throughout our career really. Of course we have had our times where we were living the starving artist stereotype. But it was worth it just to know we weren't giving up on our dream.
Throughout the years we have adapted to many creative industries including non profit art administration, teaching, graphic design, theater scenery painting/construction and art installation in downtown office buildings. We stayed well fed by working weekend catering gigs. Every job gave us a new skill set that served us well in our art career.
My favorite sacrifice was staying up until the wee hours of the morning finishing my latest artwork in the studio knowing that I had to drive to my job and work 8 hours on no sleep. There is great joy in stealing away time to do what you love.
I hope this post finds you well and encourages you to steal away time for yourself.
P.S. If learning to paint is something you have been putting off for awhile, steal away some time and visit us at one of Rich's painting classes. Click here for details.
Would you like a behind-the-scenes look at our art studio?
We consider it our sanctuary. The one place where we feel most comfortable creating artwork. Every morning with a cup of coffee in hand we sit in the studio, pondering any broad strokes of color or small details needed to complete the art on the wall. Also, we journal in search for new muses to inspire us.
And it’s where we create the stuff you’ve been seeing in our other emails and online gallery!
Here’s a peek:
What do you think? Is it what you expected?
Leave a comment and tell us your favorite place in the world you would like to see as inspiration for a new artwork. We would love to consider it.