My Art Heroes
Occasionally at fairs, exhibitions, and other art events, I am asked about the artists that I draw inspiration from. I usually respond by listing a few names--some more recognizable than others. Of course, being very visual, I always regret not having the chance to show while I tell. Since blog posts allow for visuals as well as text, I thought this would be the perfect venue to share some of the artists that have given me inspiration in some way, shape, or form. Here are my top 5:
1. Salvador Dali. Beginning in 11th grade, I became more interested in surrealism--particularly in the work of Salvador Dali. In college, I had a poster of one of his most famous works, "The Persistence of Memory," which I would often look at for inspiration and a brain break from my studies.
2. Pierre-Auguste Renoir. During my undergraduate studies, I had the opportunity to visit The Boston Museum of Art, where I fell in love with Renoir's "Dance At Bougival." I had loved this painting for some time, but found that seeing it in person took my breath away. The colors and the mood of the painting took my breath away. I remember staring at that painting in awe for what seemed like an eternity. Everything about the atmosphere Renoir painted lightened my spirits. I knew someday I wanted to create work that could brighten someone else's day.
3. Vladimir Kush. I came across the work of this Russian Surrealist artist while searching for an artist to write a paper about during my graduate studies. Kush is an incredible modern surrealist, and a few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of his galleries on the island of Kauai. His imaginative compositions are incredibly inspirational to me in my own work. Below is the first painting that I ever viewed, "African Sonata"--the piece that became the subject of my graduate project!
4. Dave McKean. I first came across Dave McKean's illustrations in one of Neil Gaiman's books. I loved his mixed media collage approach to illustrations, as well as the dark edge to some of his work.
5. Marc Chagall. I first became acquainted with the work of Marc Chagall when I graduated from my undergraduate studies and began teaching art in a public charter school. I was immediately drawn to the imaginative compositions, colors, and folk art-nature of Chagall's work. One of the lessons I did with my students was about Chagall's painting, "I and the Village" (one of my favorites!).
There are so many other artists that have been, and continue to be inspiring to me as an artist. Truth be told, I am finding inspiration on a daily basis, as I continue to familiarize myself with artists--both old and new. Their creativity challenges me to grow and push myself to new levels in my work as an artist. No matter the style of art, or the material used, there is always something to gain from studying the work of another artist. So, fellow creatives and art enthusiasts, I encourage you to keep your creative mind ever open to new ideas and inspiration! It can be found EVERYWHERE!
St. Seraphim and the Bear
Well, this weekend turned out to be quite a time of relaxation! I was originally scheduled to teach another painting workshop on Saturday, but our winter weather conditions caused the party to have to be rescheduled. So, I had the unique opportunity to spend my Saturday focused on my studio work!
I must admit that for the past week, I had been struggling to find the story for my next painting. I had sketched out a few ideas, and toyed with the idea of just diving in, but the time never felt right. Inspiration always seems to hit at the most unexpected moments...and in this case, my inspiration can in the midst of my Saturday morning routine. As I was getting ready to hop on my computer to check emails, I happened upon an image of an
icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov--a Russian monk from the mid-to-late 1700's who lived as a hermit in a little cabin near a monastery in Sarov. He tended his own garden there and there have been many accounts of his friendship with a bear in that area--whom he would share his food with. So, in various paintings and icons of St. Seraphim, he is often depicted with a bear.
This particular icon was given to me by my mother-in-law, after hearing some of my stories from my time spent working at Yosemite National Park. While I was there in the summer of 2004, I used to go out on morning walks, where I would inevitably find a spot to sit, relax, and read the Psalms. One morning as I was reading, I heard a crunching sound, and looked up to see a bear foraging only about 10 feet away from where I sat. My heart started to beat wildly and I tried to still my breathing, hoping he would not notice me. As I tried not to move, I watched him push over a log to dig underneath it. When he had finished, he turned and began walking in my direction. I immediately looked down and began mouthing the words of the Psalm I was reading, praying that he wouldn't notice me. Instead, he came right up to me, sniffed my leg, and then walked away. I still remember that story vividly to this day. Although I was incredibly nervous to be so close to such a big and strong animal, I also remember feeling a sense of peace knowing that he didn't want to hurt me, and I didn't want to hurt him. We were both just enjoying life and the beautiful creation around us.
So, you can probably imagine why my mother-in-law thought to give me this icon of St. Seraphim--and why I have felt a connection with his story (though I definitely wasn't thinking about giving the bear food when he approached me in the forest!)
Inspired by my connection to St. Seraphim's story, I decided it was high time I tried painting it! Once I began, I found I could not stop, and ended up painting the entire thing in one day! Here is the resulting painting (though I may decide to add a few more details in the coming days!):
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!
On Letting Go...
"How can you just sell all of your art?"
"Don't you want to save some of your artwork for yourself and your family?"
Every once in awhile, I get questions like these, usually around the time I create a piece that is considered to be a "valuable" or "stand out piece." I will admit that when I first started making art, I was VERY attached to the finished product. When I would enter a piece of artwork into a show, I would put an outrageous price on it--secretly hoping that it would not sell. Of course, after the show was over, my prized piece of art would just...sit....in a pile in my basement, or on my wall.
Many years later, I can honestly say that, while there are certainly some pieces that I like more than others, I no longer feel the need to hold onto pieces. In fact, my attachment to my work has evolved into more of an attachment to the process of making each piece, rather than the end result. I find that every piece that I make comes with its own set of challenges--and my brain absolutely loves solving the puzzles that lead to the finished work of art.
I view each blank canvas as a start to a new adventure. I usually begin a painting with little-to-no idea as to what the final results will look like. As I begin adding layers of paper, paint, and inked details, the story unfolds--taking me on a series of exciting twists and turns. I love detail work, and I find that spending time creating intricate details gives me a chance to really get to know each work of art and appreciate the process of creation. Inevitably, I reach a point in which I know that my part in the story in finished; my artwork is ready to find just the right home.
One of the best feelings in the world is knowing that my artwork has found that perfect home--someone who has made a connection with the story, characters, composition, or colors in the work of art. Having my work displayed in someone's private home collection, in an office, or chosen as the perfect gift for a friend or family member is arguably much more rewarding than having my work filling MY studio (where only I will be able to enjoy it), wouldn't you agree? For this reason, my work is priced to sell, rather than priced to turn buyers away.
It is my hope that my art brings joy to all who encounter it--whether it be the owner of the piece, or those who may find themselves in a room where it is on display.
Happy Valentine's Day weekend! May your coming week be filled with joy and inspiration!
A few weeks ago, while browsing my favorite craft store, I happened upon this:
The fact that this type of art is EVERYWHERE must mean that it is also POPULAR...but why? I'll admit I have been really struggling with the stacked animal phenomenon for several reasons. I'll give you two: 1.) I don't get it. Why would a deer be standing on a camel's back? Is there a story behind the art, or is it meant to be a strange, humorous piece? 2.) Where did this whole animal stacking thing begin? It must have originated from someone or something.
Now, you may remember me writing in a past post on art appreciation, that the story behind the art can add value to the piece...it gives the art context and meaning. So, rather than writing off these stacks of animals entirely, I decided to do a little digging into the history of this type of art.
Being someone who is interested in folk tales, fairy tales, and illustrations, I must admit that I had some guess as to the origin of the stacked animals, and it turns out, I was correct! Some of you may be familiar with "The Town Musicians of Bremen," written by The Brothers Grimm, in which a donkey, dog, cat and rooster leave their masters (as they are past their prime, working years in life) and head to the town of Bremen to become musicians. On the way there, they come across a cottage where robbers are hiding out, enjoying their plunders. The animals decide to stand on each other to make a din (or a jumble of loud sounds). The robbers run out of the house, not knowing what the sound is. The animals then head into the house, eat a good meal, and relax. Later that night, the robbers send a lookout to see if the coast is clear. However, as soon as he lights his candle, his is quickly attacked by the animals. When he gets back to his companions, the robber tells them that he was attacked by witch who scratched him(cat), an ogre with a knife (dog), a giant who hit him with his club (donkey), and a judge who screamed from the rooftop (rooster). After hearing their companion's story, the robbers abandoned the cottage, where the animals lived happily ever after.
After reacquainting myself with this story, and reading a little about the folk art that came from this story, I can definitely have a better appreciation of the stacks of animals that have become so popular. While I still do not understand some of the strange combinations of animals standing on top of each other, I do appreciate the story that inspired such a pileup.
May your weekend be filled with inspiration and a willingness to look at things with an open mind!
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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