The Perfect Gift!
Since we are in the midst of the holiday gift-buying frenzy, I thought I'd make a case for art as the perfect gift to give to that special someone, or someones this holiday season! Here are 10 reasons to give the gift of art:
Art and Fear
Have you ever had something that you really wanted to do, but couldn't find the motivation to actually do it?
Have you ever felt like you should be doing something else--something that you just know you would be AMAZING at doing...if you could find the time to do it?
Have you ever had something that you just had the urge to try, but couldn't find the motivation?
So what's really keeping you from taking the plunge/following your dreams? There are a lot of excuses out there, but it all boils down to one thing: FEAR. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of missing family time. Fear of not having enough time. There are hundreds of excuses NOT to do something, but the truth of the matter is that if you have a dream/inspiration to do something, the only way that it is going to happen is to boldly take the first step forward. If something is important to you, you will find time to do it--be it 1 hour a day or 1 hour a week, finding time to set aside for yourself and your dreams is important. And the best part is that once you are in the habit of incorporating something new into your schedule, it won't feel like an imposition anymore. It will instead be something that you look forward to--knowing that you are taking steps towards achieving your goals.
For over 20 years I have wanted to be a working, professional artist. When I was going to art school I had the motivation to make art, knowing that I had to paint a certain number of pieces in order to pass a class. However, once I graduated, I was frozen with fear. Once that motivation was gone, the excuses came pouring in. I suddenly was balancing 3 part-time jobs, trying to maintain relationships with family and friends, and trying to make time to exercise. When I went off to graduate school, I found that my schedule of classes and thesis-writing remained "too busy" for studio art time. The truth is I could've made time to create, I just didn't know where to begin.
By the time I moved from Austin, Texas to Wyoming, I had decided enough was enough. I wanted to be an artist. Once I made that decision, I had to figure out what that meant to me. As a first BIG step, I knew that to be an artist, I had to be MAKING ART. So, I began to search for inspiration. Since my style of artwork from my college days left me creatively blocked, I knew I needed to try something new. Inspiration struck as I was browsing the internet for lesson ideas--leading to the creation of my first painting in over 5 years.
After painting my first piece, I knew I needed to find a motivator to help me create regularly. So, I set my first goal: To show my work in a local gallery. I knew that in order to approach a gallery, I needed to have a body of work. So, I decided to make at least 10 paintings before approaching a gallery. To make that happen, I knew I needed to set aside time (which seemed difficult with a full-time teaching position, family time, etc.) So, I decided to take a look at my daily schedule--actually taking note of the way I spent my time away from work. I found that I frequently had a little bit of down time in the evenings which I would spend watching t.v. or surfing online. Why not spend that time making art as well? With that in mind, I made it a goal to do something every day to further my art dream. It didn't matter the amount of time spent; It didn't matter if it was painting time or research time.
It worked. Within 6 months, I had a portfolio of 12 pieces, which were accepted to be displayed at Works of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. Since then, I have continued to create new motivators for myself, as a way to keep my art-making a consistent and important part of my daily, weekly, and monthly schedule.
Having a motivator in place is very important. Whether it be a big motivator or something small, having a goal makes your efforts feel worthwhile.
Do you have a dream or something that you've been itching to try? I encourage you to start moving forward with it! Look at your schedule? Could your dream fit in with part of your down time? Carve out some time--be it 5 minutes a day or 5 hours a week, to make that dream a reality. It's worth it!
In last week's post, I discussed art appreciation, and the importance of knowing WHY an artist does the things that they do. Is there a reason for the colors/materials they use? The surface they paint/draw on? The things that they put into their compositions?
My current style of artwork is not the style that I started with. I started out studying animals and drawing/painting as realistically as I could. When I went to study art in college, I shifted to painting things like this:
After graduating, I hit a wall. This happens all the time to artists who get cornered by their "style" of artwork. My style was surrealistic--frequently including hands. When I graduated, there was a time when I was completely frozen in fear of creating something new. I tried numerous times, but literally couldn't figure out where to begin. If someone asked me, "Are you an artist?" I would guiltily fumble around with my answer because I knew that to be an artist, I had to actually be producing art!
In 2012 something amazing happened. I was surfing the web for new ideas for my elementary art lessons when I came across a do-it-yourself stencil project of a bird on a branch with a collage of magazine pages in the background. This project inspired me to try mixed media collage, and led to my first painting in my current style of art:
Since this first piece, I began creating a piece every week or two--a habit which I continue to this day!
So... What is my "WHY?"
I LOVE stories--particularly fiction/fantasy/fairytales because while they are not real events, many of the characters and situations resonate with real life truths and situations. The tradition of oral-storytelling particularly interests me--passing down history, events, and human truths through fictional characters and events; The act of story-telling IS a form of raw human creation. I enjoy folk art for that same reason--the raw/unrefined creations have a human touch that many fine art pieces are lacking.
My paintings capture fleeting moments of a story--just a snapshot. My work is not meant to tell a complete story, it is meant to encourage storytelling! It is my hope that viewers will be inspired to tell their own stories and find a connection with the story that a specific painting is telling. I frequently use text from old book pages in my work, as a connection to the written word. In addition to the storytelling aspect, it is my hope that my characters and colorful compositions bring JOY to those who are in need of a reminder of the beautiful and happy things in life.
May this weekend bring you inspiration and joy!
I remember the very first time I talked to a group about the topic of art appreciation, I was 14 years old. Being introverted, I decided that in order to break through my shell of insecurities and give a successful speech, I would need to talk about something that I was excited about. After flipping through one of my art museum books, I found this piece:
What makes something "art?" How can EVERYONE appreciate ALL styles of art? What IS appreciation? The dictionary defines appreciation as "the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something." Now, you might be thinking to yourself, "how can I appreciate something that looks like a blank piece of white paper?" "It doesn't even look like the artist did any work!" "Anyone could make this!" My response to these thoughts would be summed up in one word: context. In order to be able to recognize and enjoy the good qualities of a piece of art work, you must first understand the context in which it was created. Having an appreciation for a work of art doesn't mean you have to LIKE the work; it doesn't mean you want to pay thousands of dollars to OWN the work. Art appreciation is simply an understanding of where the artist is coming from when he/she created the work. In other words his/her "WHY" and "HOW."
Now, let's talk about how I can appreciate the painting that I showed above. Obviously this style of artwork is quite different from my own style, so in order to gain an appreciation for this style of work, I needed to find out more about the context--the WHY and HOW. So, I started by learning more about the artist, Robert Ryman. It turns out, although most people would classify his work as minimalist (myself included), Ryman prefers to be known as a REALIST, in that he works to present the materials that he uses at their face value. For a 2010 exhibit, he wrote: "I am not a picture painter. I work with real light and space, and since real light is an important aspect of the paintings, it always presents some problems." Knowing those two things: 1.)Working with a wide variety of MATERIALS and 2.) Working with REAL LIGHT and SPACE inform his work, provides a whole new level of understanding and appreciation for Ryman's work. He has experimented with a very impressive number of different materials in order to better understand how to paint with them. Although his finished pieces look relatively simple, his process that goes into each piece is incredible. For the piece above, titled, "Duration," he used lauscaux acrylic paint, which have the same texture as fine oil paints. They are also LIGHT-FAST and highly resistant to aging (which is no surprise, based on the things we've learned about his WHY). This piece also explores the colors of different lights, which you can see upon closer observation. The bolts that he used in the corners were designed specifically for this piece. Last but not least, Ryman uses titles purely for identification of the work--not in any reference to the specific piece. He made this piece purely in reference to the materials used. So, after learning more about the context for this specific piece, I would have more of an appreciation for his work in an exhibition space such as the one pictured below, realizing that HOW he made the piece was just as important as WHY he made it.
So, while you might not LOVE every work of art that you come across, I would encourage you to explore those artists and the context behind their work in order to develop an appreciation, or a better understanding of why they make what they make. You might surprise yourself in the process!
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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