Last night I put the finishing touches on my most recent painting (pictured to the left). Inspiration for this painting struck as I was in the process of searching for a few art supply odds and ends. As I was walking through one of the aisles, I came upon some small round pieces of birch. In a flash, I had an idea for a painting! Inspiration can come just that fast.
Those small cuts of wood were in an aisle that was stocked full of various pieces of wood in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Who knows how long some of those pieces of wood had been sitting there, waiting to be used?
As an art teacher and artist, recycling is not only an important part of my life, it is IMPERATIVE. Every day, I watch as hundreds upon THOUSANDS of pieces of paper are thrown away. This is particularly an issue in art classrooms and studios. I'm constantly fighting to save the lives of pieces of paper that are on the verge of being thrown out because of one mark that was considered to be a "mistake." Despite my best efforts, my recycling bin (HUGE) is usually filled to the brim within a week of school--and the only reason it takes that long is because at least 50%-75% of the paper being tossed out doesn't make it to the recycling bin. Paper towels, paper plates, magazines, book pages, letters, printed papers, among other tree byproducts are thrown out on a daily basis...and, as a collage artist, I am most definitely a guilty contributor to this waste. The worst part is, I am usually totally oblivious to it!
You may have already figured this out, but at the heart of most of my paintings are environmental issues of some sort. This most recent piece is no different. The character of the lumberjack resonates with the happily oblivious side of human nature. Sadly, many of our actions as human beings, are done with little-to-no thought of consequences. The lumberjack in this story is happily chopping down trees--so focused on his job, that he is paying to heed to the amount of lumber he has been scattering everywhere. The little beaver stands on the remains of the most recently fallen tree, staring up at the lumberjack. His emotions are meant to be misinterpreted (seen as the lumberjack might be interpreting them). The oblivious lumberjack smiles down at the beaver, thinking that he has made this incredible connection with a like-minded creature--nature's "lumberjack" of sorts.
This interaction speaks to a frequent misinterpretation that often occurs between humans and the natural world. Speaking from my own experiences, I am quick to smile at the adorable little chipmunks and rabbits scurrying around, looking nervously at me; Gasp in amazement as an elk leaps across the interstate, over a barbed wire fence, and disappears into private ranch lands; whistle happily in response to a bird's warning call. While I do believe that many human interactions with the natural world are peaceful, friendly, and inspiring, many of these interactions can be also romanticized misinterpretations.
Now, while there exists this misinterpretation between the lumberjack and beaver in this painting, there is also a feeling of peace between the two--which I think that everyone can experience when in nature, if they are willing to take the time to stop, observe, and listen.
May you have a most peaceful and relaxing weekend!
As artists, strike that, as HUMANS, we go through periods of great inspiration--perhaps you just attended a conference that has you STOKED about the latest and greatest thing, or you're in this great creative groove where everything seems to be clicking and you're able to crank out work faster than a speeding bullet. You're on top of Mount Inspiration. You can do ANYTHING...
....then, just like that, everything comes crashing to a halt and you're left scratching your head, wondering where where all the ideas went---feeling like your mind is suspended in limbo, trying to grasp onto something always a little out of your reach.
Moments of inspiration come and go. Knowing what to do in moments of inspiration is EASY. You're motivated to start new things. You can conquer the world. However, moments of uninspiration are just that--uninspiring. You'd much rather spend your time surfing the web, reading celebrity gossip, playing Candy Crush, watching your favorite show, (the list could go on) than face the blank wall of uninspiration in front of you. Basically you have two choices in front of you: a.) To give up, and hope that inspiration strikes again at some point; or b.) To fight to break through that wall of uninspiration.
I won't lie to you--this past week has definitely been one of those wall-hitting weeks. Although I finished a painting, I have most definitely been struggling to start a new one. Here's how I have been working to chip away at that wall:
The first thing I did was make a list. I wanted to understand the source of my uninspiration. It looked a little something like this:
1. Stress of a busy week
2. Lack of exciting ideas
Stress and energy can play a HUGE part in uninspiration. Obviously if I am wanting a nap, I have absolutely no motivation to start a new painting. I am motivated to sleep. This week has been a tough one for me. So, understandably, I am more motivated to rest than work.
My next step was to make a list of ways to work through the uninspiration (I like lists!). Here is my list of things I CAN do to keep moving forward:
1. Go to bed a little earlier
2. Read art business books
3. Collage the surface of the canvas
4. Start painting a background/play
5. Write a blog post
6. Doodle/ Test new art supplies
Since I've been uninspired to come up with a new idea for a painting, I decided to nurture my creativity in other ways--my number one goal being to get some much-needed Zzz's. Sometimes playing without any real ideas in mind can be a great way to jumpstart inspiration! Actually, "The Snow Cyclist" began with one of those play sessions. Sometimes taking small steps seems to help me reach a place of inspiration.
For "The Snow Cyclist," I had a canvas that I wanted to paint, but no ideas. So, I began by doing the things I knew I could do--like collage book pages on the surface of the canvas. This led to painting the background. While painting, I still had no idea what the painting would become. I was just playing--exploring mark making and effects with black and white paint. While in the process of painting, something amazing happened--I suddenly found my inspiration again!
Now, sometimes that is all it takes. However, there are other times in which inspiration takes a lot more work. In the end, however, inspiration is always worth the effort. Sure, everything you do won't always be perfect. But isn't that liberating to know? There is beauty in imperfection; there is beauty in uninspiration. We just have to be willing to embrace the uninspiring moments in life and see them as a challenge for growth and even more inspiration!
May this weekend bring you inspiration and, if you're like me, much needed rest!
A work of art can really come to life, given the right frame. While a beautifully embellished frame can have the power to make a work look more regal and elegant, a simple black or metallic frame can add a finished look to a piece. Frames can also add an extra pop of color that brings out certain colors or details in a work of art.
On the other hand, frames can also have a negative effect on a work of art. A beautifully embellished frame on the wrong work of art can have the power to draw attention away from the artist's work. In cases such as these, a patron of the arts can end up buying a work of art FOR THE FRAME, rather than the actual artwork within.
While I do frequently display my giclee prints in frames, I less often choose to display my original works in frames. Don't get me wrong-- I do think that frames can add a lot to a work of art (and are an important part of several of my pieces). However, I often choose to finish my paintings in a very different way.
The majority of my visual stories are painted on something called cradled panel board. Basically, it is a board with a canvas texture, affixed to 3/4-inch boards, creating a thin box which, when hung on the wall, sticks out slightly. I choose to paint my works on these boards for several reasons: 1.) I like the sturdier surface for my mixed media process. The board allows for more pressure than a canvas would when I am affixing the book pages to my surface; 2.) The 3/4" edge provides a frame of sorts. When I am finished with my part of a visual story, I paint the edges to symbolize the end of my part in the story. Also, the minimalistic-look of the painted edge finish, rather than the frame, symbolizes a page in a book--yet another reference to storytelling; 3.) The colorful edge of the painting also provides the viewer with the feeling that, although there is a border containing the story, there is room for the story to expand and grow (as the border is on the sides, rather than cutting into the image on the surface).
So, if you happen to see one of my original works of art hanging in a show, I hope this gives you a little more insight into why it is being displayed with or without a frame!
Have a wonderful weekend!
I don't know if you've figured it out yet, but I LOVE BOOKS--particularly those of a fictional/fantastical/folktale nature. Not only do I use the written word for the foundation (literally) of my paintings, but on very special occasions, I find inspiration for my visual stories from books I've read.
One day earlier this fall, I was enjoying lunch at a used bookstore and coffee shop when I happened upon this small book with a blue cover, titled STARGIRL. Although the cover wasn't particularly interesting, I decided to open it up and read the first chapter. It was an instant connection. I don't know if you've ever experienced this in reading, but there are some books that just grab you--sometimes it's the twists and turns of the story, but in this case, it was the character of Stargirl. She is one of the most interesting characters I've ever met--and most definitely a kindred spirit.
For those of you who have yet to meet her, Stargirl is a free spirit--someone who walks to the beat of her own drum, and celebrates the smallest things in life, as well as the big things. She dresses the way she wants to dress, without paying any heed to the thoughts of her peers. She searches the newspaper for the small, happy things--rather than focusing on the headlines, and takes note of the birthdays of everyone in town so that she can leave them small gifts and handwritten cards. I could go on, but, really, you should just read the book!
Within a few lunch breaks, I had finished the book, and immediately knew I needed to paint the character of Stargirl. In fact, this was one of the few instances in which I knew exactly how I needed to paint her. That evening I began my painting, which you can see completed below.
In this painting, you can see the character of Stargirl, adding stars to the night sky while balancing on the tops of colorful buildings. Below is a portrayal of the in-crowd, too concerned with their popularity and the need to meet social norms to notice the beauty around them. The only person looking up from the crowd is another character from the book--a boy who was intrigued by Stargirl, and secretly wanted to be free like her, but was too worried about what his peers might think of him.
Can you believe all the inspiration that can come from one little, seemingly boring-looking book? If you haven't read "Stargirl," and happen to come across a blue book with a star and a stick person on the front, I would encourage you to pick it up and give it a read! It's a short book, but one that is packed with very powerful messages!
Have an inspiring and restful weekend!
After what was a whirlwind of family visits, along with a wedding, I have finally returned to the studio and my art making!! So, first thing's first-- Happy 2015!! As we recently ushered in the new year, many of us have been busily plotting how to best achieve our "resolutions." January always seems to be a month of renewed motivation--whether the goal be to be more active, lose weight, learn a new language, or maybe connect more with your artistic side!
I love the idea of resolutions--whether or not they are actually achieved in a year. Setting goals gives us something to aim for--a way to keep moving forward; to better ourselves in some way. Resolutions are wonderful because they wake us up, and give us renewed motivation. Although the majority of us fall off track over time, the fact that we BEGIN says something. Now, the tricky part is staying motivated for an entire year--making your resolution a HABIT, so that you will be able to more easily continue it in the years to come.
The following were my resolutions for 2014:
1. BIG GOAL: To begin my official art business.
2. SMALLER GOAL: To start my own website
3. SMALLER GOAL: To open an etsy shop.
Here's how I accomplished my resolutions:
Knowing that those goals felt overwhelming to me at the time, I decided that I would need to break them down into manageable goals. I did not actually write these goals out (though that would've been a good idea!) Instead, I decided to focus on one small task at a time, and work on it until it became habit...then move onto another task. As long as these tasks moved me towards achieving my big goals, I felt successful.
So, to start with, I knew that I needed to figure out the paperwork/tax side of business. I met with members of the Small Business Administration; took an Art & Marketing class over lunch breaks; attended an Art Business conference; met with a sales tax advisor; got a sales tax license, etc. At the same time, I began reading books for art business, accounting for artists, craft business, small business, entrepreneurs, etc. After I began to feel comfortable with the paperwork, I began working on my own website, monthly eNewsletter, blog, and continued posting regularly on my artist facebook page. In order to stay motivated to create art, while simultaneously working on the business side of my studio, I called and set up exhibition dates with coffee shops, restaurants, and other businesses willing to show my work for a month or two. After a full year of work, I established the following new habits:
1. Post on the blog every Saturday (except when there is no access to the internet..).
2. Check for new venues/exhibition opportunities with tea on Saturday morning.
3. Work on studio art every night after work; Finish a new painting every 1-2 weeks.
4. Send out monthly newsletter on the 15th of every month.
So, as I look towards another year of possibilities, I have set some new goals for myself...goals that, I hope, will feed into new HABITS and build on old ones. Here are a few of my resolutions for the coming year:
1. BIG GOAL: Organize my studio space and business.
2. SMALLER GOAL: Exhibit art in a new state.
3. SMALLER GOAL: Host an art opening for one of my exhibits.
So, as you begin tackling your resolutions for the coming year, I would urge you to break them into mini goals--with the overarching goal being to establish new HABITS for a better you! :)
Welcome to the whimsical world of Tara Pappas' mixed media art! Thank you for stopping by to view samples of my work and read a little about my adventures as an artist. I am always looking for new ways to connect and grow as an artist, so would love to hear from you if you have any questions or interests in a particular piece. I hope that my work brings you inspiration and joy!
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