With the holidays around the corner, how can artists maintain their artmaking momentum, while at the same time traveling and spending time with family? Here are some of my go-to art-on-the-go tips!:
1. Doodle. Zentangles can be a fun and relaxing way to keep those creative muscles active, while still allowing yourself a vacation from your usual work routine. Doodling is also a great on-the-go activity for those long plane or car rides!
2. Hunt for Inspiration! Inspiration abounds EVERYWHERE! Stay attuned to the art and events around you--maybe you'll come across an idea for your newest work!
3. Drawing Games If you are part of a game-playing family (as I am), you might play games that include an art-making component (such as Cranium, Pictionary, Scrutineyes).
4. Thinking Putty I recently came across "Crazy Aaron's Thinking Putty," which is a great way to keep your hands and creative mind busy while traveling!
5. Read a good book. Whether or not they are about art, books can provide great inspiration for new people, places, or things to create art about!
6. Paint on-the-go! Sakura makes a fantastic travel-size watercolor set with a self-watering paintbrush. I love using mine as a way to continue my painting practice while on vacation!
"Good artists copy, great artists steal." Pablo Picasso
Is copying really okay in the art world? How about stealing? What does it mean for an artist to "steal?" Copying is a huge part of our training as artists--it is a vehicle through which we learn the techniques that we will later use to create our own works of art. Copying can even be considered a compliment; it means that you think something is worthy of being repeated, or learned. Stealing, on the other hand, is a much more powerful word---associated with taking something that is not yours without permission or intention to return. So, do great artists STEAL? Is this what Pablo Picasso was saying?
While I'm sure some artists do STEAL ideas or actually pieces of artwork, and claim them as their own, I would argue that truly great artists BUILD. In my opinion, the creation of art is the beginning of a conversation. Once the artist is finished with the piece, he/she is leaving the conversation for the time being. They may continue the conversation with a series of works, or they may leave that idea entirely, in pursuit of another subject. When another artist happens upon that piece of work, if they are inspired by the ideas of that artist, they will continue the conversation--perhaps exploring a similar subject or technique, or maybe responding to something they experienced in that work of art. Great artists BUILD on ideas. They see other works of art as endless opportunities for their own growth as an artist.
Last weekend I visited the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, where they had a special folk art exhibit. As I was walking through the exhibit, I became mesmerized by one particular piece:
I was immediately drawn to the frame of this piece. I loved those orange houses. I loved the texture of the gravel and the train tracks. I loved the angle of the moving train. When I returned home, I had those orange houses stuck in my head. So, I decided to BUILD on my encounter with this painting. I began by creating my own orange house frame. Rather than try to look up the real image, I decided to paint from my memory of the piece, adding my own style to the mix.
Although I'm not sure where this painting is going to take me, I am excited about my piece in this conversation. Experiencing other works of art is so vital to my creative process; It is through making art that I can reflect on my experiences and observations.
Becoming involved in a conversation with a work of art is not solely for artists. Anyone who views a painting is beginning a conversation. Now, as is the case with any type of interaction, you have the choice to engage in conversation, based on your interests and discretion. There may be some works of art that you have no interest in beginning a conversation with. However, when you find a work of art that you are naturally drawn to, you might spend some time looking at the composition, discussing the piece with a friend, or just letting your imagination run wild for awhile. All of this is BUILDING on the conversation started by the artist.
Wishing you all lots of delightfully engaging art conversations over the upcoming holidays!
When I graduated from high school, my parents gave me a very special present--my first solo-flight to California, where I spent a week or so with my aunt and uncle. Not only was it my first solo trip, but it was my first time flying. During that trip, I spent a lot of time watching Bob Ross painting videos with my aunt, and I painted my first landscape using his techniques. It was pure magic! Bob Ross made painting look so effortless! Who knew you could create majestic mountains with a few strokes of a palette knife? As I started my first semester of college, I signed up for Painting I--thrilled to use those Bob Ross techniques in my own artwork!
....And then my professor began talking. The first words out of her mouth were, "I'm sure many of you have had previous experiences with painting. So, I'd like to start this class by warning you: If I see anyone painting in the style of Bob Ross, I WILL fail you." I remember leaving that first day in shock. What was so wrong with Bob Ross? He was a magician of painting! Later in the semester, this professor cautioned us to never EVER become like Thomas Kinkade--a sell-out. Her justification? He had his paintings EVERYWHERE--calendars, greeting cards, hand towels, t-shirts, etc. He painted what he knew would sell. And he has sold A LOT. In my professor's eyes, Kinkade was NOT an FINE artist; Kinkade was a COMMERCIAL artist...A mass-marketing sell-out. Now, since I was, at the time, a first-semester freshman, I left that painting class feeling like Bob Ross and Thomas Kinkade were total sell-outs. They weren't true artists--painting whatever they wanted to without worrying about whether or not people would LIKE it. I would NEVER be like that. I was going to paint things that I wanted to paint--things that would shock people and change the world.
Now, years later, I have had some time to really think about that painting class, and I regret having walked away with that mindset. I know that my point of view would not agree with those of others in the art world, and I'm okay with that. In my opinion, Bob Ross was INCREDIBLE. He inspired and educated so many people to create! Sure, they were copying his painting style, but you know what? They were EXCITED about it. He made art seem effortless. He was a joy to watch. He brought art making to the masses in a friendly way. We NEED more people like Bob Ross, because he was able to share his art with thousands of people in a friendly, non-assuming way.
In the art world, the more copies of your work that are out there, the less valuable they are perceived. So, it makes sense to me that many people in the art world would consider Thomas Kinkade to be a sell-out, because he mass-marketed his work. He had copies of his paintings on EVERYTHING. In fact, a quick google search comes up with the following Wikipedia description of Kincade: "He is notable for the mass marketing of his work as printed reproductions and other licensed products via The Thomas Kinkade Company." So, really, mass marketing was closely linked with his work--he was famous for it. And, in my opinion, that is the genius of Thomas Kinkade. His work is recognizable by people who would never come close to considering themselves art connoisseurs. Through mass marketing, he was able to share his art with more people than most "fine" artists could ever achieve. Amazing.
Now, I'm not saying that television/youtube painting channels, and/or mass marketing is the appropriate path for every artist. However, in my opinion, there is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your work with as many people as you can--whether your purpose is to shock or awe. Over the years, I have discovered that, while I do not want my art to shock/disgust anyone, I do believe that my art can facilitate change. It is my hope that my art will bring joy to those in need of joy, and inspiration to those seeking inspiration. In that small way, my work brings about a change, and THAT is the power of art.
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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