Monday, May 26, 2008

Art for a Cause

Adam Miller has officially launched Art Cause NYC.

Art Cause NYC was founded as a collaboration between artists and supporters in the business and philanthropy world as a way to bring attention to the pressing need around the world of millions of people living in poverty, war and need. Our goal was to create a situation where every time a piece of art was purchased something would go to feed, clothe or treat those who not only cannot afford to buy art but often cannot feed themselves or their children.

With the creation of Art Cause NYC artists and art lovers have a sustainable way to use their work to do good in the world, to recapture the idealism and hope for which art has so often been a symbol.

Art Cause NYC was founded in New York as the dream of a group of artists. The founders of Art Cause NYC Adam Miller, Renata Telinova and Fedele Spadofora saw the potential to use their work to found a sustainable and ongoing charity. The unique idea behind the organization spread and grew, bringing in more artists and sponsors and has now grown to assist in hunger relief as well many other causes around the world.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Letter to the Student of Painting

Your day contains a great measure of freedom. Your responsibility as a painter is here within the walls of the studio and in the setting of the landscape. You have the opportunity to exercise genuine mastery at every step, and it is in this spirit of grand possibility that I hope you will reflect on the advice made plain here.

Do not grieve too long for the troubles of the outside world. There is important work to be done here. We can best express our care for all others by attending to our work well.

Allow yourself the peace of purpose and the knowledge that to make another attempt with the brush is a noble thing. If you accept the discipline of the truest principles of art, then yours is the reward of an unbroken line of tradition.

Therefore, you may earnestly free your mind of all heartaches, sadness, and transitory despairs. Creation is above these things.

Your vocation is as real and as true as any other. Those who denounce the artist as idle manifest a deep ignorance of the nature of art. Have faith that the civilized will somewhere, at some time, value your well-wrought works. It is a miracle that the world keeps its havens for art and yet it does. Know that to create art is to do a necessary piece of work. The most noble pleasures and measureless joys result from such endeavors. True art is undeniable and it is a gift for all humanity.

The threefold responsibility of the artist is: to creation, the individual talent, and to humanity. For creation – the whole of nature – we must cultivate prayerful awe. This is our source of work and our refuge as well. We should seek harmony with nature. For the individual talent – long hours and years of steady industry hope to find our abilities fulfilled, our minds, hearts, and hands put to valuable service. In this way, we maintain the sanctity of art. Lastly, we make to humanity a willing gift of all we do. Our control over the material world lasts only a lingering moment and it takes a generous soul to build the ambition of a lifetime and then to hand it over in trust to the future.

Painting requires the bravery of solitude. Painting requires disciplined labor. To be a painter is to search the world with a benevolent eye for every subtle beauty that the infinite world offers.

Here is the opportunity to give your honest effort and to add in any small way to the legacy of art. Cultivate patience in your heart and you will improve. Learn to see well and your hand will become sure.

No pain or doubt can invade the honest soul engaged in the communion of creation. We artists must love the world with our deepest selves and forgive it at every turn.

To paint even a little passage with a measure of quality is to achieve a life’s triumph.

Spend your days wisely with the best thoughts and works of those who have walked the road before you. Search their paths, their timeless inspirations, and the lineage of their genius. Learn your craft well and your talent will mature into its full possibility. Keep an obedient heart before nature. She is the master above all other masters. Nature is the concrete manifestation of all that remains true and sublime. Let us always be thankful for her abundance and hopeful that we might approach her in our art. Nature will renew every generation of painters, ready to illuminate the minds of those who practice the art with what is calm, rational, beautiful, sublime, and eternal.

Such is the purity of your vocation. Treat every moment before the easel as a quick and tender opportunity. Invest your most noble self. Give your most noble self. To be a painter is to enjoy a precious state of life.

- Charles Philip Brooks 2002

Thursday, May 1, 2008

On the Nature of Art

"I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of painting."

I said this one day recently to my friend and colleague Shawn Fields as we peered out of a fourth floor window in Chelsea. It was a luminous day, and the sun glinted off the Hudson river like a benevolent god winking. The wind paused profoundly in its journey from the west and I couldn't help but think that it had some beautiful and poetic significance.

He replied with a chuckle.
"That doesn't surprise me. What would surprise me would be if you had stopped."

I had the feeling that I took myself altogether too seriously. So, I laughed as well and enjoyed the sun.

"So, what's new?" He asked.
Happy to embark on any conversation about art, especially with Shawn, I began with an idea that I had been molding quietly for the past year or so. I didn't know if anyone had thought it before me, had written it down, or shared it with their colleagues in a moment such as this. But, I did know that Shawn could help me mull it over.

Once I said it out loud, we both knew that it seemed so simple that we couldn't believe we'd never heard it before.

It begins with the format. Painting is static, by its nature. It does not move. It does not change with time. Its meaning is locked into a single eternal statement, and your mind must take the mold of the lock to reveal its secrets. This is both its strength and its weakness. Because of this, a painting is inherently read iconographically through layers of symbolic meaning, like an onion. So, I ventured to say that a powerful painting should reinforce this kind of iconic reading. Almost before I finished saying this Shawn had the very same question as I:
What makes a painting iconic?

So we embarked on an analysis of a multitude of paintings which represented this iconic power. One of first we brought up was Andrew Wyeth, and Shawn explained that what he thought made Wyeth's work so striking was the way he composed large regions of clear values overlapping. There was always a dark, a middle, and a light - most often another intermediary value as well. He said, that if you shrink an Andrew Wyeth down in black and white, you'll see these patterns in every single painting.

We continued on to discuss other factors that made work iconic, and what even narrative paintings like "Susan and the Elders" by Rembrandt, or "The Death of Socrates" by David, had in common with obviously iconic paintings like Goya's "Saturn". What I found was that one idea kept returning: conceptualization. Conceptualizing color, conceptualizing form, conceptualizing light....
It seemed the common element that united the iconic impact of all these artworks was how the artist filtered the content of the work through his/her ideas about form, color, light, 2-d and 3-d design, texture, etc.... And as I pondered, it all became crystal clear. Of course, it seems so obvious now, but for some reason neither of us saw it before.

Because each artist was conceiving of these elements, a little bit of the idea was passed on in each of them. It was not the subject matter, but the way that these paintings were made that revealed the meaning, though the subject depicted could help. It was as if every single square inch of canvas was saturated with the artist's breath. His emotion, his perspective poured out of each shadow or highlight - the way he handled his brush, the decision to make a gray into blue and a hand into a silhouette, to make one detail sharper and another more obscure. There is a hierarchy and a meaning to how these elements are composed and relate to each other, which intuitively reveals meaning to the viewer. There is a mystery in this.

Film, by contrast, is a narrative form. The images change through time, in fact, it is virtually about change. This lead me to realize that verbal language is the very definition of the narrative and this is why it is so difficult, if not impossible to truly describe a painting in words. It is much farther than translating from one language to another, one just cannot communicate a purely visual idea in a verbal way. And one cannot communicate a verbal idea in a visual way. They are two banks over a canyon, but somehow the human mind can bridge the colossal abyss between - albeit across a dangerous and swaying rope bridge. We can see both sides, but we cannot transport anything more than a teaspoon of meaning between; hopefully not spilling its valuable contents in the unsteady journey.

The New New Thing

I have been reading over alot of the blog lately and enjoying the lively exchange of ideas, so I thought I would throw my two cents into the discussion.

I want to discuss the idea that artists should reflect their time. Things do change and Time obviously moves on, new fashions come in vogue and fads appear and disappear . Great work can be done within a popular "of the moment" style, but it is important to remember how much great art (much more I think) has been done by artists with a strong identity outside of the taste of the moment.

This is apparent in the works many Great Artists who could not make a living when alive, but today their paintings sell for millions at auction. This is not because the Artists work changed with the times or even that tastes improved, but rather that the taste of the times moved to the artist.

The way that collectors perceive art also changes with time. Much art is sold today because the buyer hopes it will conform to a color scheme and offend no one. In the past art was bought because the collector admired the artists skill in depicting nature and in telling an interesting story. Today more people are returning to traditional looks in their homes, they are reverse renovating to reclaim original fire-places and tin ceilings that were removed to accommodate Modernism and buying realistic rather than abstract paintings. Is this a sign that this time has reached its cycle? Are people beginning to tire of horizontal and vertical lines, simple colors and flat-pack.... Time will only tell.

Dennis Anderson

The Collector

Why do Collectors Collect?

There are many reasons associated with the collection of Art, but the main reasons apart from the love of the work is value. Collecting Art is seen by many, as a way of gaining a better return for their investments and some even see it as a retirement fund.

But what art will give the collector the returns that they desire? Unless you are in a position to collect art work from already established Artists whom may already be listed as the Artists of the future such as Chagall , Banksy, or Koons then choosing the right artist is like playing the lottery. There are however certain guide lines a Collector can follow and Artists should when possible follow these guidelines to make their work even more collectible.

First you most get yourself listed as an Artist, Title and date all your works, write Artists Statements to go with all of your work and have your stories read by as many people as possible. It is your Words along with your Works that will make that all important connection with the Public, Making that Connection will be the deciding factor in whether your works will be talked about in some ones collection in the future. I find that my artists who are most successful engage collectors minds as well as eyes.

Dk Anderson