Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Death of a Film -- Part II

Sunflower, Mixed Media Painting/Photography, 30x30, $750 SOLD

People are aghast when they learn that my Polaroid film has been discontinued. The hand-altered Polaroids are popular and they mourn the loss of new images. So do I. There are five packs of film in my fridge right now. That's it. The film on eBay hasn't been handled properly, I've found, and it's damaged. I'm not buying more.

"So what will you do?" they ask. "Are you out of business?"

A one-trick pony is out of business. An artist moves on.

I have several bodies of photographic work -- traditional color, traditional black & white, the new Infrareds (that I LOVE!) My favorite still is the Polaroids. They are interpretive and organic and fluid and emotive. Nothing else does that.

Except painting.

So that's where I'm going. This year I've starting extending the image of the finished Polaroid onto the mat. I'm using soft pastels, which are so tactile and expressive that they match the mood of the original photograph perfectly.

I was at the Geneva (IL) Fine Art Fair this weekend. It's a great show with some of the best artists in the country. The level of work here is exceptional. For the first time I showed a 30x30 Sunflower that I just completed. Maybe I priced it too low, but it sold within the first hour! The patron wanted others to see it and asked if she could leave it in my booth until Sunday. Sure!

Three other patrons were upset that they couldn't have it! They can commission one!

I love the Sunflower, but my favorite is Dragon in the Clouds, below, finished just hours before I left for the show.

This body of work has a piece of my soul and I'm not letting it fade away. It's getting a new life as mixed media painting.

A Dragon in the Clouds, Mixed Media Painting, 16x16, $395, (framed)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dealing with Loss - Update!

Good karma prevails! The equipment has been recovered. I'm not asking any questions. I have all of it back!

On the other hand, I had to replace it quickly and now have some duplicated equipment. The insurance company was dragging their feet, so there's nothing to return to them, thank goodness! I did upgrade some lenses and I'm keeping them. I needed them for a while. Sometimes the universe tells us what to do -- but I would have appreciated a less stressful message!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Telling the Truth

“Even a dog distinguishes between being stumbled over and being kicked.” -- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

I got myself in a bit of hot water this week.

I won't go into all the gory details, but let's say I pulled out of an important art event in St. Louis, hosted by a respected art institution, because I thought the space that the artists were asked to use was worse than substandard and disrespectful to the art and the artists. When I saw the space I asked myself: would this group ask a visiting artist to use this space?

When the answer came back "of course not!" I knew what I had to do. And I did it publicly -- but as respectfully as I know how to do -- because I wanted to start a discussion of how art and artists should respect themselves and each other.

Apparently we don't so much.

Within moments of my post appearing on a St. Louis listserv for visual and performing art, I was getting private emails and phone calls of support.

"I wish I had the balls to do what you did," I heard on more than one message.

But the public responses called me ungrateful and whiny, insisting that I was "biting the hand that feeds you."

Really? Artists are lapdogs who gobble up any scrap thrown from the big art table where the master sits and then wag our tails in gratitude? Or are we servants who dote on the master and do his bidding, accepting his blows with a "thank you, sir"? Or are we children who are to be seen and not heard?

When did this happen? Artists are supposed to enlighten, entertain, enrich and inspire. But mostly we're supposed to tell the truth! The hard truths. The ugly truths. The uncomfortable truths.

To do that, artists must be equals at the art table.

I demand to be an equal. Artists and art institutions and collectors all need each other. We have to understand and respect and try to meet each other's needs. Without artists, the museums are empty. Without collectors and art institutions that will show my work, I will starve. I get that.

Without artists, our lives are empty and bleak and hopeless. And pretty damned bland.

I AM grateful for the opportunities, but I have to tell the truth. I, and my sister and brother artists deserve respect. We have to respect ourselves and our work. We deserve a place at the table.

We are not lapdogs.

P.S. Thanks to one of my public supporters for the quote above. It sums up the discussion perfectly!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Dealing with Loss

Taken June 24, 2008, in a little cave on the Current River

From the picture you'd think I'd be dealing with the loss of my youth or dignity or my svelte self (bad angles here!)

But really I'm dealing with the loss of equipment. The equipment I'm holding that was in the yellow waterproof case peeking out at the bottom of the picture. My daughter Hannah took this picture of me -- I hate pictures of myself, but it's the only one of me with my trusty, wonderful Fuji S2Pro and Nikon 28-105 lens.

What? Did it drop in the river? No. It but it is gone, apparently snatched from my house when I was away at an art fair. Nothing else seems to be missing except the equipment in that yellow case, which I think was on my dining room table, in full view of the front windows of our house.

It wasn't my best camera -- in fact it's a back up that I don't use that often but I do love it. I have three 35 mm film cameras, 2 medium format film cameras, a dozen or more Polaroid cameras, and a film APS camera thats just for fun, a Canon digicam that fits in my pocket and a couple of digital SLRs. Each has lenses and filters and flash units and gadgets galore.

Apparently, I'm more attached to my equipment that I thought. One of my film cameras is one of my first -- a 35mm Canon Ftb. It's a work horse, worth about $5 now, but it's not going anywhere! I started to learn my craft on that camera! (I probably COULD drop that one in the river and shoot with it later!)

Lots of people -- amateurs photographers and students, mostly -- want to know what equipment that pros use, hoping to duplicate results if they just had the right equipment.

I always say that it's the eye and vision of the artist -- not the equipment - that makes a difference.

Apparently the equipment matters too.