23 March, 2010

Silly cartoon for art nerds: Et in Arcadia Eggo

If you know this painting by Poisson, (yes that means "Fish" in French), you know its name is Et in Arcadia Ego. See, these naive shepherds in paradise have stumbled across a tomb, and are trying to figure out what it is for. Wow, dude, somebody died? whoa.

I first saw this painting in college - looking back at my transcript I'm just amazed I got a c in art history, because I loved it and remember much of the information - but I think I slept through a few pop quizzes. At home, not in the classroom. Kids: don't do drugs.

So, anyway, I finally got around to mashing this painting into a vision of the ultimate breakfast. And now I can ledditgo.

10 March, 2010

Las Vegas Face & Body Painting Convention

Someone posted a query about the best tips people learned at the convention.
Here are some ideas and gifts I can put forth...
• First and foremost, ask for what you want, and ask HOW you can get it. Amazing things happen that way.
• we all benefit when we positively support one another
• there is still enough work to go around if we MAKE IT HAPPEN
• Dive in! I was scared to jam. Teeth didn't chatter, but knees were weak and hands shook. The first night I sort of wandered around looking at what other people were doing, didn't even bring a kit. Silly me! Once I actually did bring my kit down and set myself up, painting felt joyful and safe again. I was just an artist among artists and that "I could never do that... hey I could do better than that" simultaneous crazy crappy thinking in my head just fell away.

• Nothing ever happens the same way twice - especially with face painting! Every artist is a bit of a thief, and we can make every piece of art our own by being in the moment - "stealing" from one another, "stealing" from other art forms, "stealing" from our own life and dreams. It's not stealing at all, actually, it's just trying new things and growing - even if we learn it by copying others' design. Yes, be grateful, yes, acknowledge the gift... and make it your own by changing it to suit you. We really don't "own" ideas (I stole that idea from the Wolfe bros, who stole it from Carl Jung or someone like him). To paraphrase Anne LaMott, "If you don't write your ideas down, God will give them to someone else." (On the other hand, even if you DO write your ideas down, someone else is doing the same thing half a world away - which is why Darwin and Marshall raced to publish about the theory of evolution, and we were treated to two movies about Truman Capote in one scintillating year, and why both the New World and the Old World had pyramids). I was so crushed at 19 when I found out that someone else had already coined the phrase "mental floss". Dang it, I was gonna be rich. It's not like we're printing out digital art as a giclee. The face is different, the skin color and texture, the relationship with the model, the weather, the light, the paint changes consistency, the Paint Gods decide you're gonna make a "mistake" that improves the design... and the Idea... it's a feather on the wind, going from mind to mind. All we can do is try to catch a whiff of it as it blows by.

• best practical tip with paint (From Lucy Brouillard) - look at paint not only in terms of hue (red, blue, yellow, all colors in between). Look at it also in terms of its value on the grey scale. When she told me that, I realized my colors tended to look washed out because I had not selected enough really deep, saturated paints, so my designs, which are pretty enough, tended to look pastel and delicate - and were overwhelmed when I tried to add a bold, black line. I have a lot more to learn about this - but checking the value has really, really helped me.
• best thing I really hadn't thought of: grafitti-style names (Wizer). I had done a few blocks of text in a "puffy" style but nothing like his designs. This will definitely be popular with teens and young adults.
• it was so interesting to compare advice and comments between wildly diverse, incredibly talented and successful artists - leaders in this field. Some mix paints and brands blithely and have never encountered a problem. Some are fiercely brand-loyal. Some paint for almost nothing if they feel like painting and don't have another gig booked (and face it - they ARE PAINTING! Beats fishing any day of the week, as far as I'm concerned). Others don't even show up for less than $400 in a day. All different - all successful. Common traits:
• the ones who were MOST successful were the MOST generous. I have a feeling that generosity creates success... so don't wait till you're successful to be generous.
• everyone's insecure, even the best. but they don't let insecurity get in their way
• they don't copy anyone else's work line-for-line. They may have learned some technique, tips, and motifs from other face painters... but they are focused on creating, not duplicating.
• I saw so VERY VERY LITTLE rude or prima-donna behavior even when the situation wasn't perfect. (of course I probably missed a major tantrum or two, thank my lucky stars!) There were a lot of technical difficulties with this show. As an example, Wolf Reicherter from Germany wasn't given a proper black-light set up in time for a class - which theoretically should have been arranged for him well in advance - but he handled it with such grace and calm. I would have been in tears. And a bunch of people got bustling and helped him get a backdrop and posts set up for his lights. Wolf is a really nice man and my gosh, his art is FABULOUS. Unfortunately I discovered that black light gives me a searing headache - does anyone have any hints about how to deal with that? Because I could use a really hip-looking set of goggles.

• The best way to learn how to do something is often to do it. Karen Owens and her crew worked their tails off (I think Karen slept about 2 hours between 2/7 and 2/10). What an amazing act of courage to pull this off (this goes for all of the conventions: I've done a little event coordination and there are SO many aspects to cover! ) But with ANY event there's a learning curve: bigger event = bigger curves - and no matter how hard you work, experience has something new to teach you. For anyone who was critical of the level of organization... remember there will be a day when you leave home without a crucial piece of equipment: phone, brushes, sponges, paints, clown nose, whatever. Ain't it great to be human?

Las Vegas Face Painting Convention wasn't perfect (neither am I - had a few moments of grousing until someone very kindly reminded me to count my blessings). But if anyone walked away from that event thinking it wasn't worth it... if anyone sat in the back of the room or chitchatted while the instructors painted and explained so clearly... if anyone took no notes and expected to remember everything... if anyone thought there wasn't enough of ... whatever... well, no matter where ya go, there YOU are. For me the whole experience was a HUGE blessing. A huge PILE of blessings! I'm so grateful to all the incredibly kind people who helped me on my way, the instructors, the other students, and the event producers. I only wish I could have taken every class - had to make some very hard choices. In fact, if someone figures out a way to clone me so I can be two places at once, I'll give them backrubs every day for a year. Then the other me will give them footrubs. A win-win situation for the geneticist of my dreams. Oh, heck, maybe I'll just paint their kid.

The Door is Open

I took this phrase from two sources:
the U2 song "Gloria", and my favorite Rumi poem:

"The Breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep
you must ask for what you really want
Don't go back to sleep
People are going back and forth
Across the doorway where the two worlds touch
The door is round, and open
Don't go back to sleep"

I have spent a fair amount of my life wide awake and dreaming, other times sleeping where my dreams were so vivid I wanted to go back and figure out how to make them real. How do I bring dreams into the waking world - dreams of creativity, of joy, of peace, of fun? How to take the shadow of my psyche and use it to heal myself and others instead of hurt?

I have eclectic taste - possibly insane taste - ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. I like silly humor more than I like sarcasm. I have a lifelong interest in why the heck the world is the way it is... cause and effect? G/d/s? Quarks? Who knows. Even if I thought I knew, that would be faith. The intersection between faith and knowledge - a dangerous and blurry place.

As the Firesign Theater states ".... a force that can only be used for good... or evillllll..." but I don't remember what they were talking about, was it a time machine?

I'm blessed with brilliant and creative friends; you'll find links to their blogs, art and ideas here. I'll add my own art and interests as time permits. Daring to put ourselves out there is one of the greatest challenges many artists face. Creating is easy, sometimes it happens all by itself. Communicating... hard.