I added two YouTube videos to the members only section, I think they are both worth watching.
The first is an artist I've been following since I first saw his sketch in a Montana Quarterly magazine issue 10 years ago. In this short video he explains perfectly why we sketch, why we sit on a street corner or in a coffee shop, or wherever we are an pull out a journal and pen rather than simply snap a picture. Stan Fellows seems like the kind of guy I would love to run into in a coffee shop and just talk with.
The second is a creative named Sabrina Ward Harrison. My newest passion is Art Journalling, and I ran across her stuff online. She has become one of my favorite artists. Her passion for free expression through art is inspiring. I got her first book "Spilling Open" and it is pretty amazing.
There is so much inspiration out there for whatever we want to do with our creativity. There is so much inspiration even in our little group. I saw the beautiful abstract that Terri Porta did for the YAM Monster Art Rally, and have been inspired to try my hand at abstracts. Our spectacular pastel artists Barbara, Ev, Linda, and Shirley have inspired me to work harder on landscapes, in both pastel and other mediums. I look at the urban sketches of some of my sketching pals, Lynnsey, Will, Rachel and it makes me want to dig deeper. I could go on. And on.
Perhaps I'm trying too many things at the same time. But I'm no youngster anymore, so I have to catch up for all those years with my nose to the corporate grindstone. Like some artists and art enthusiasts, art for me is not a career, nor do I hold on to any false dreams that it may become one.
But that doesn't mean it can't be a life.
At our art shop on Saturday, we experimented with a project we are going to try in a larger scale in March at the Urban sketching symposium. We took a photo and chopped it up into 2" x 2" squares, and had the members draw their square on a piece of 4" x 4" watercolor paper.
The result was pretty cool, a mosaic of different pieces of art, in different styles and different interpretations that, in spite of their differences, come together and make a pretty cohesive whole.
To me, that is what your arts association is, a wide variety of different artists and art lovers, with different skills, styles, and interests, with the common bond that we all love art. When we all come together, we become recognizable, just like this building.
I am prone to metaphor, but isn't that life as well? Different people with different faith, belief, opinion, goals, dreams, challenges, and fears. It does me good to remember that we all too fit together in this tapestry that is life. That everyone has a square in the quilt, and even with our differences and peculiarities, if we respect a place for every one of us, the end result is a pretty cool picture.
What will 2023 bring? Certainly, if we look at the newspaper or listen to the talking heads on the cable networks, there is more than enough doom and gloom. The economy, world peace, the environment, inflation, etc. etc. etc.
But for me this will be a good year. With the pandemic sort of behind us (we still need to be safe and sensible about what do and don't do), I can look forward to more time with friends and family, more time in the community, and more time just enjoying life. We all lost a couple of years, and we won't get those back, but we hopefully have a good year ahead of us.
I don't normally make new year's resolutions, but this year I might make a few ART related exception.
It's a big list (and it is only a partial list) but I have some catching up to do this year, and I ain't getting any younger.
What does the new year hold in store for you and your art?
Hopefully your involvement with this Arts Association and (more importantly) your relationships with our member artists will give you all the incentive, ideas, and encouragement to make 2023 a very creative year.
I know it has for me.
It was cold this morning, too cold to run outside. I try to run every day, and really enjoy running outside, but with temps in the single digits it’s even a little chilly for me. So instead I run on my treadmill downstairs.
When we are stuck in life, folks use the metaphor of being stuck on a treadmill, running in place, expending a lot of energy and getting nowhere. That’s a little bit how I feel in my art these days, in my creativity. Sort of stuck in place, But is it really a useful metaphor, or is it flawed?
In truth, spending time on a treadmill is not fruitless. If I run outside I run a loop in my neighborhood, but even then I end up in the same place. Home. So really, by that reasoning it is just as senseless as running on a treadmill. I get nowhere. I don’t run somewhere, I don’t run to the grocery or hardware store, or the post office. I just run, and like the treadmill some people might think it is the same analogy of being stuck in place. But is it really?
Little practice paintings of no (or little) commercial value at times seem to just be wasting time. The art equivalent of running in place, or running without a destination. But every time I put pen or pencil to paper, or wet my brush in water and swirl it in pigment, I’m moving forward. Maybe not physically, but artistically. Maybe I’m just getting more mistakes or false starts out of my system, maybe I’m just seeing what works and what doesn’t, but that is at least something.
I run on the treadmill to keep reasonably fit; to stay active. I don’t always see the results immediately, but I know deep down it helps. I make art, sometimes even lousy art, to get better, to learn, to stretch. It may seem to the outside world, or even to ourselves, that we are expending a lot of energy and getting nowhere. But for me at least, that isn’t the case.
I love watercolor. I love sketching. I dabble in Pastel.
What made me buy colored pencils?
Felix made me do it.
Felix Scheinberger is a German artist I have been following for years, and I love his expressive lines and his bold use of color. His was the first Urban Sketching book I bought, and seeing the way he rendered buildings gave me the incentive to pursue that. He uses colored pencils to supplement his sketches, and his work is amazing.
But it's more than that. Art is about exploration, about stretching your own boundaries. I tend to gravitate to the same old same old in my art, and sometimes to me what I create just seems boring. Comfortable in it's sameness. So for me it is good to try something new, to experiment, to make mistakes. I've got a closet full of them if you ever want to see.
I never thought I'd try colored pencils, but you know they are a lot of fun. No, they are not a replacement to watercolor, but they offer an immediate satisfaction and a quick way to add bold color in a way I was unable to do before.
So the moral of this story is to try something new. Use your favored medium in a new way. Try a new medium. Paint, draw, weave, mold, sing, or write something you never thought you would paint, draw, weave, mold, sing, or write. Screw up. We only have this one life in front of us.
What an amazing week.
Art is alive in Billings, and the Billings Arts Association has a lot to do with it.
What did I do this week that was so great?
I enjoyed a BAA ArtShop on Saturday at BAA member business Crooked Line Studios on 24th street, where several BAA members give classes. I sat with BAA member Rachel Larson Long and sketched the old Fargo Hotel building in downtown Billings with my urban sketchers group. I went to an amazing art demo by BAA artist Barbara Garrett at the Billings Public Library. I met with BAA artists Donna Moore, Lana Bittner, and Lynn Shield at the Sandstone Gallery to do a 2 minute informational segment for the ABC and Fox affiliates, I went to BAA member Joey Kiernan's pottery open house which she will soon be opening for workshops and studio time. Last night I took a life drawing class at BAA member Dan Grainger's Davinci's Workshop instructed by new BAA member Rachael Deyle. This afternoon I'm going to meet BAA Board Chair Ev Bergeron and other BAA members for a plein air pastel outing, and tonight I am going to watch BAA Member Rachel Larson Long start a mural project at a downtown church.
What an amazing group, and I am going to do my best to highlight all the great things BAA artists are doing in our community. There is so much talent here.
I began my interest in art while dating my future wife, Cindy. One weekend she was taking a watercolor class in Beaver Dam Wisconsin, and the only way I was going to be with her was to join along. So in love I was, that I took the watercolor class with her, and we both started painting. We relied mostly on learning from books and videos…..practice, trial and error and visiting art galleries for inspiration. Cindy enjoyed painting, but I really immersed myself in it.
My background is in manufacturing for over 49 years. I was always interested in art, but to a young guy trying to climb the corporate ladder it seemed frivolous. Cindy passed away April, 2020 on the eve of my retirement. I joined BAA (Billings Art Association) in order to connect with other visual artists and to engage more with the art community in Montana. I truly feel blessed for the inspiration and friendships that I have found with BAA and in the Billings Art scene.
My primary medium is watercolor, but I enjoy pencil sketching, pen and wash, some (limited) charcoal drawing, and I've recently tried my hand at pastel. I've really enjoyed Urban Sketching as a great way to be outside with people whose company I enjoy, and hone my drawing, drafting, and interpretive/composition skills. I've recently started experimenting with pastel, and intend to try my hand at sculpting in clay or wood.
Art is one of the cornerstones of my new life in retirement. I enjoy everything about it; seeing it, talking about it, reading about it, and (mostly) making it.
Being part of the BAA has been a great experience, and I've met some truly wonderful people. I hope I can do half the job that Elizabeth did, but I promise I will try. But it is not MY Arts Association. It's yours. So I hope together we can come up with some ideas to bring our artists together to enjoy this thing we call art.