Tuesday, July 30, 2013



While reading from one my fav web sources for info, the last week or so some interesting stuff appeared. Now here's some background...For many years now I have strived to produce thought inspiring,interesting, colorful, images and artworks. But this last little while I have noticed that our/my fellow socientans have absolutely no idea what is considered note worthy in the field of art, oooor maybe its just me! A month or two ago I saw an ad for the position of sculpture instructor and it kinda pissed me off. I think what it is/was , is that I have the skills but not the paper, and the more I thought about it (knowing lots of artists) I realized not many would fit the bill. None of the good artist I know have the paper either, so how would this (reputable) place find such a person to teach young impressionable minds?

When I first started doing art stuff I consciously decided to try and do what Warhol did (to create interesting stuff with everyday items) only I didn' want to sell crap just because I could come up with a good pitch/story , I wanted to do what I considered quality art. Recently I also read an article about how art has/is slowly moving away from skill to story or pitch under the guise of sophistication (thats my interpretation, of fine artists generally lack skills as in fine art looks like an unskilled kids "designed/produced" it) and I tend to agree. Digital art is well I'll share when I think I'm good enough with the tools to have an opinion.

What I read and saw shocked me! The art and images I saw really lacked skill (imho) and what folks were getting all excited about was well the equivalent to a grandma/pa getting all gooed up about G-childs first step...you know "Panda photo ops" kinda thing. The art just really lacked... except for one artist that was producing or rather re-producing really complicated photo images (ie imagine painting shadows and high lites  to represent wrinkled up tin foil). Not an easy task but not impossible (just photo-real with heavy detail) and not original. Anyway the rest of the stories included a 3 year old with a Sony dslr camera that was the pride of his parents (and apparently all that witnessed his tiny greatness...except me)etc... Another artist was receiving great acclaim for some of their work, the example was an image, painted in dark rust/dark red colors. the image was basically a poorly painted window (canvas size) with 4 panes....And then there is the "fringe festival" and the act that involves 3 Mayo enemas......Now if that constitutes art there is something dreadfully wrong with what we perceive to be art.
"stolen from Wiki"     Wiktionary defines the noun 'artist' (Singular: artist; Plural: artists) as follows:
  1. A person who creates art.
  2. A person who creates art as an occupation.
  3. A person who is skilled at some activity.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines the older broad meanings of the term "artist":
  • A learned person or Master of Arts
  • One who pursues a practical science, traditionally medicineastrologyalchemychemistry
  • A follower of a pursuit in which skill comes by study or practice
  • A follower of a manual art, such as a mechanic
  • One who makes their craft a fine art
  • One who cultivates one of the fine arts – traditionally the arts presided over by the muses
A definition of Artist from Princeton.edu: creative person (a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination).

In today's obvious definition of artist "Skill" (especially) and "Imagination" have very little to do with art. I could go on about what I've seen. I suppose the most tragic thing is we the people haven't a clue really as to what constitutes art. Since we Anglos invaded North America  our society is made up of many groups of people with different ideas so our culture appears to be just about as mixed up. I grew up around artist type people and though I got it, guess not! I (silly me ) always thought that an artist was measured in their ability to manipulate required tools to produce desired effect. Picasso produced some weird stuff but before he did that he produced some stellar still life images (that incidentally got him exactly no-where). Oh ya another example of unskilled art....there was this guy that "designed " a stainless steel rectangular block about 20ft tall 3ft thick and 9 ft wide with a twist... it was installed in a park by a steel worker... In the newspaper of that town's story about the art piece no one cared about the "artist" because he just watched the welder fabricator.....the comments were a reflection of this..."why"   and then " I sure like the way the grind pattern is done/finished (again the weld/fab guy) It was pretty funny.... What this thing was suppose to represent I don't even remember it was that relevant.

All this just kinda makes you wonder if this is considered art then what do people like myself call ourselves.....and do I stop doing art and just talk about doing it and describing it for lay-people to make for me if I want to "still" call myself an artist? I talked to a gallery owner recently that was telling me all about this sculptor that does farm animals (predominantly horses) and then "has" them cast for her.... I think to truly call yourself "Artist" you must be able to produce whatever it is you do from start to finish "And" show skill  in the execution with the tools, along with originality in style at least.

                      One would like to think there are standards to be upheld....even if only out of respect for those that persevered before us....... As far as the teaching gig goes I feel it s better to just do and leave the teaching to the experts (with the paper)...lol and I'd only show you how the tools work anyway so what would that be worth...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Stone carving: 1) not what I remember..........

           I've done a few carvings over the years and a recently (a yr ago lol) I went out to one of the old mine around here and found some nice looking stone. So I had taken a file with me so as not to grab anything to hard as I don't want to spend a month of Sundays working on a piece. Well it all looked good on paper...but not so much in reality...grrrr....I thought it would be a nice revitalising break from painting...hmmm

So there I am with my selection of chisels' grinders, hammers, files, air-chisels ect... and I have this one huge grinder that I call the beast (when its on the shear power/cyn force of this thing is unreal (its almost scary), and feels like it could just fly away), it was out too. I have a good look at this rock and come up with an idea and start in or rather try....Everything I brought out moves from one of the table to the other as I try different tools on this piece of "soapstone" but to no serious consequence..  So I will have to get some softer stone and maybe I can convince someone to show me where the soft stuff is. I'm no expert but I do know enough to be dangerous apparently and all my initial tests made me think this was the stuff. The last couple of pieces i did were from found stone as well and I had no problem. The only thing that did work were my air hammer/chisel and the "beast" .....only problem is I have a steel cutting blade on the beast and it was out of balance to boot so it was a nightmare holding onto it. If I go with an actual pneumatic stone carving chisel  setup instead of my air hammer chisels my guess is it will work out better and I won't wreck the chisel lol, nor the (not yet acquired) mason blade for the beast. By the way, when the "steel" cutting blade (lead edge) came apart it caught me in the foot and leg so remember; don't wear sandals choose work boots, put your safety goggles on as I did...

In the end I've learned you need a high cfm compressor if your going to use air tools as air consumption is quite a bit (and that is the way to go imho). You also need a really good dust mask (or fresh-air mask) as soapstone can have fun things in it like asbestos and that's really bad to breath in. But so is any ground stone/rock dust...can you say silicosis of the lung...(not much fun).Having the right tools (pneumatic) titanium/or carbide grinding bits are a bit pricey but they are second to none! To be safe, pic stone from a reputable dealer so you don't have the "hard stone" issue I just had unless of course you know something about stone. If the stone had been as soft as I had tested/thought it was I would have had it roughed out in far less time than it took to write this..... Any thoughts on soapstone turning hard? is the answer store in water? if so does it need to be dark as well?