Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slow Art

Because of everything else that’s going on in my life, I haven’t been able to blog as often as I’d like to for a while now. So tonight I was thinking: I wonder if I can Photoshop something in five minutes and then post it? Five minutes went by, then ten and twenty, and I finally got something that seemed okay to me a half an hour later.
Whoever my muse is, he/she just hates to be rushed. In fact he/she really just prefers to sit around ruminating and puttering (rather than actually encouraging me to finish things off).
This started me thinking about doing things slowly. I know there’s a whole slow food movement that’s really, really popular all over the world. In fact if you google slow food, you’ll get at least 300,000,000 hits.
But what about slow art? Turns out it’s popular too. There are actually people around who will spend several months working on a postage stamp sized piece of art.
“Slow is used as a term of respect for the way art is made and how it is best viewed,” says artist Deborah Barlow. And here’s another quote I love:
What we need more of is slow art: art that holds time as a vase holds water: art that grows out of modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn’t merely sensational, that doesn’t get its message across in ten seconds, that isn’t falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our natures. In a word, art that is the very opposite of mass media. (Art critic Robert Hughes)

Cool, eh? Looks like I’ve finally found my tribe. But I think I’m going to take my time getting to know them.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Digital Coolness

For anyone who is would like to learn Photoshop, but is apprehensive about it, here’s some inspiration. Five years ago, at the age 87, fashion photographer Lillian Bassman decided to tackle the program. She spends six or seven hours a day playing in Photoshop and says it has opened up a whole new world for her.
The interesting thing is that Bassman is a Photoshop girl only—no Google or email for her. To see some of her work and to read more about her life, check out this article in the New York Times.
Now here’s something else that's cool. Did you know that you can paint using your iPhone? Apparently you download this program called Brushes, a low-priced software application that has a color picker, zooming, virtually unlimited undo and redo, and a set of realistic brushes. You can also export your paintings at high resolution (up to 1920 x 2880), and turn them into QuickTime movies. See the video below.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Art Journals & Creative Healing

I buy most of my books online because there are no bookstores in my neighborhood. And of course it doesn’t hurt that Amazon and Chapters have lower prices, which means you end up getting more books in the long run. The problem is you don’t always get the chance to look at the books you want first.
Take Art Journals & Creative Healing by Susan Soneff for example. The main reason I bought it was to finish off the amount on a gift card. Once the book arrived, I took a quick look at it and then set it aside.
Why? Because it looked like heavy-duty stuff to me and I’m usually in the mood for eye candy. As someone who has struggled with depression off and on for most of her adult life, I like to avoid the negative and just peace out. But for months now, Soneff’s book has been sitting around waiting for me to notice it, so I finally took a deep breath and plunged in.
Just as I suspected, there were plenty of soul-wrenching moments inside. Women with everything from anorexia and cancer, to depression and MS share their personal stories and journal entries. While there are visually moving pages here, and plenty of creative tips, the main emphasis is on being brave enough to chronicle your journey through words and images.
Even though journaling is used in clinical and therapeutic settings, and research supports the benefits, I have to admit I’m skeptical. I say this because writing in my journal allows me to vent, but I can’t say it helps me; it simply seems to be something I’m in the habit of doing.
However, it occurred to me while I was working through Soneff’s book that I’m in a rut. Like a hamster on her wheel, I do what I do and forget to focus on choices or different perspectives. In short, I don’t go that deeply into things when I journal, although it may seem like it when I’m upset.

I’ve thought quite a bit about this book since I finished it last week. In the next couple of days, I’ll be finishing off my current journal and I’ve decided that I need to take a different approach. I’m not sure what this will be, but I think it’s time to be more honest with myself, so I’ll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Volleying Continues

Jeanne and I have been volleying in Photoshop for a couple of years now. We take turns altering a photo until we’ve reached the magic number ten, and then we start all over again.
We’ve been more off than on for months now mainly because life has been complicated for both of us. Even so, one of us always manages to pick up the ball and volley back at some point. I’m feeling pleased with myself that I managed to finish volley six of this round yesterday …only four more to go!
(I posted one and two of this round back at the end of February if you want to check them out. At this rate we should be finished by Christmas).

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Have you ever noticed that when an image rivets your attention, trying to express that feeling seems to elude you?
Take this doll for instance. Mary gave he/she/it to me last year and I find it weirdly captivating. I don’t know whether it’s the way the doll feels, its markings or even the hole in its head. Whatever is going on, I can’t make sense of it. I just know I’m hooked, and for months now, I’ve been moving the doll from assemblage to assemblage where it's always restless, and never quite at home.
I wondered what would happen if I took some pictures and then played with them in Photoshop. Well, no luck there either. I kept wishing that I had the Lennie gene and could at least have started the process with a decent photo.

But looking at the results now, I think the best approach would be to wrap the doll in some kind of fabric and just pretend something real was actually going on inside.