Friday, August 29, 2014

" Artist's Must Be Supported " - Herménégilde Chiasson

Herménégilde Chiasson

I saw this post tonight, an article written by my Art History Professor Herménégilde Chiasson. He taught a class entitled Art History Through Film, which I was enrolled in at Mount Allison University while I was completing my Bachelor of Fine Art degree.

I found him to be a wonderful teacher, I believe a brilliant, insightful, humble man, and a staunch, passionate advocate for the artist, and I learned so much from him. I am very grateful to have had the privilege to have been his student.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

John Clark

The Night (Yellow Moon) 1988

In the 70s as a young art student I was very fortunate to have a wonderful teacher, artist and writer John Clark. I had lost track of where he was over the years, and so I was very sorry and shocked to learn of his death. I was moved to hear about the tribute to him, his life and his work at  Contemporary Calgary.

 I distinctly remember my first painting classes with John Clark. I remember him as a rather serious, introspective, intelligent, gentle, soft spoken, and quiet man. Later, I came to know a wonderful, humble and gifted teacher with a shy smile, and a dry wit. He taught me the foundational, essential and important basics about applying paint and, how to construct and bring this application of paint together in a painting.

He wasn't teaching us about conceptual art, which at the time was the overall, approach and interest in the 70s at NSCAD. Our paintings were always based on rendering the life drawing model in the traditional manner. We had the same model until the painting was completed. Prior to this, he gave us practical painting exercises that were most helpful and interesting.

What I learned from John Clark about painting, has stayed with me to this day. I am so grateful he was once my teacher, and I am saddened that he has left this earthly coil. I will not forget him.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why I Am A Life Drawing Model

Richard Barlett

I have been a model for artists for over twenty years. My first modeling job I didn't get paid. It was for a fellow artist who was a photographer. I knew him well, trusted him and decided I'd help him out. The second opportunity was for a rather odd fellow, another artist who was obsessed with the legendary Canadian bred Thoroughbred horse, who was literally full of heart, the legendary and beautiful Northern Dancer.
I have long been a passionate horse woman and I loved Northern Dancer. He is described as a legendary hero. What, I am interested is the heroine and redefining the meaning, not according to a male interpretation.
In the dictionary the definition of hero and heroine are contrasted in meaning. I know male geldings or stallions can't be heroines, but I think they can have the same qualities as heroines, just as heroines can have the same qualities as heroes. Not that are equal, in being the same, but they are of equal value, just as each genders. 
Note the differences in the dictionary definitions. The heroine is not defined in her own right, but compared in relation to the hero. She is neither ' endowed ' ' illustrious ' or ' noble ', nor is she described as being divine.
 Definition of heroine:
a :  a mythological or legendary woman having the qualities of a hero
b :  a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities
a :  the principal female character in a literary or dramatic work
b :  the central female figure in an event or period 
Definition of hero:
a :  a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b :  an illustrious warrior
c :  a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
d :  one who shows great courage
a :  the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work
b :  the central figure in an event, period, or movement
Are heroines not divine, endowed with strength and ability. Are they not illustrious warriors, noble, with great courage?
Getting back to the artist I modeled for, who loved Northern Dancer, he had me place a small Breyer Northern dancer model  on my belly and then he took his photographs. Yes odd, but each to his own.
When I reflect now on why I began to model, I believe I unconsciously decided this was the way to force myself to get connected and more comfortable with my body.  I had always felt generally comfortable with my body, and I attribute this to my mother who had a positive attitude about her own physicality and sensuality. I am not saying I wasn't without hang-ups around my body image. My self-consciousness went on to later develop during my thirties. I was having the beginnings of anorexic thoughts, that can lead to an anorexic condition. Thank goodness I did not become anorexic.
So many women, young and old have been, and are still having a preoccupation with their bodies and what they look like. Our culture and society promotes and condones it.
As we age, I think women become more conscious of this, and I suspect we become less concerned about our appearance, and what others think. This is a freeing thing that happens and there is a real reason it is freeing. It frees our souls to be who we are and celebrate our bodies.
After I realized I could make money as a model, be around other artists I got serious about making this a job to financially help support myself and then began many hours of modeling at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where I was an art student. 
In the early eighties I left for Toronto to study Mime, and when I arrived, I was in need of money, and so once again, I turned to finding work as a model. I found employment quickly at the Arts and Letters Club, and at Ryerson University, which was almost directly across from where I was living, The Christian Women's Temperance Union. That's another story!
I continued modeling all through University and have returned as a model for artists in a gallery, at the age of 61. It has been a very satisfying and rewarding experience, as an artist and mostly as a woman. I have learned about myself in terms of body image and reclaiming my body as a woman.
Presently I am reading a book entitled ‘ The Heroine’s Journey ‘, by Maureen Murdock. Here is an important quote that I believe is at the heart of matter of why women and even men, struggle with, when it comes to accepting your body as it is. The high lighted link above, is an interview she gave about the book which was written eighteen years ago, but is still very relevant today, if not more so.
” The soul of a human being as well as the soul of a culture cannot evolve if the body is not reclaimed and honoured “. Maureen Murdock
Years ago, I saw a wonderful documentary film about life drawing models and it explored their lives, thoughts and experiences. I so wish I could locate this film or remember the name of it. I believe it was on Vision TV, PBS of perhaps the Women's network channel, which I don't remember the name of that either. If anyone out there is familiar with this documentary, I would very much love to know the name of this film, if anyone is familiar with it, please drop me a comment.

I am on the heroine's journey, and this is why I am a life drawing model.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Werner Herzog - " A Guide For The Perplexed "

I believe Werner Herzog to be one of the best film makers ever, if not the best. What I appreciate most about him besides his talent, is his philosophy towards life and creativity. His integrity and strength of character goes well above and beyond what perhaps you might expect of the typical film maker.

Any one involved with the creative process can often feel perplexed. Werner Herzog can shed some light on this in his new book, Guide For The Mind Perplexed which gives insight into his ideas about creative process and self-reliance.

French filmmaker François Truffaut called Herzog "the most important film director alive."
Roger Ebert American film critic Roger Ebert stated that Herzog "has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular."

" I am not an artist and never have been. Rather I am like a craftsman and feel very close to the medieval artisans who produced their work anonymously and who, along with their apprentices, had a true feeling for the physical materials they were working with. "  - Werner Herzog

Friday, August 22, 2014

Art & The Fear of Financial Insecurity

A book entitled Art and Fear explores the relationship the artist has with being an artist and always living with fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

As recovering alcoholic, and I don't mind saying so, as it is who I am. I have come to the realization as a result of being an artist and alcoholic, fear comes with the territory.
As artists we are fearful our art will not be accepted and appreciated by the public. We fear not being to support ourselves through our art. It is a constant. Art and fear go hand in hand and this is what the artist lives with, most of the time. There are a myriad of fears we experience, and must overcome.

In AA we talk about the Twelve Promises. All but one has come true for me in my twenty years of sobriety. I live with the fear of financial insecurity. Some days are better than others, but I never give up, and I believe in my capacity to create and live happily regardless.

 So I ask myself, do I want to be constantly feeling this way? Obviously not, so I have to accept that being an artist is the path that I have chosen or that has chosen me. I strive to take my work as an artist seriously with courage, commitment, and the passion to create. I have learned and continue to learn about marketing and business.

Artist’s are not so much like regular business entrepreneurs, in that we can’t simply try another business. But there are many things we can do to improve our financial situation.
Many of us don’t get this kind of essential information about the practical knowledge of the business of being an artist when we go to art school. Universities have taken steps to change this, are still in need of improvement.
In the meantime, artists must advocate, believe in themselves and their capacity to create because they love what they do, to know and understand that they are of immense importance to the world.

Here's a great post on Maria Brophy's blog that addresses what I believe to be a big part of the problem. She makes some very insightful points.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Suggestions For Art Students

Lauren Purje - Artist

Well I think I will always be an art student in the sense that though I am no longer attending University studying Fine Art, I still am always learning and intend to do so for the rest of my days.

But I do remember well, my early youth as a 21 year old art student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax in the 70s. To say it was a wild time would be an understatement.
Although I wanted to learn all about art, I can't say I was the best student because my motivation wasn't the most well intended.
I was preoccupied, with wanting to escape my small Nova Scotia town, for the city. I was interested in boys and parties; not good way to start off University life and studies.

Upon returning to school in 2009, at Mount Allison University, in Sackville, New Brunswick, as a mature student at 56 years of age, needless to say my perspective had  profoundly changed. What hadn't changed was that I observed the same kind of behaviours that I displayed, when I was first a young art student.

I am not one to give advice but I will give suggestions, if asked. I've not been asked, but I will speak from my own experience if I had it to do over again, and ask, what would I say to my young 21 year old self? Here's my list.

1.Wait until you are really ready to attend University.

2. Don't go to University for the wrong reasons.

3. Don't drink excessively.

4. Don't abuse substances.

5. Stay clear of getting emotionally involved with boys.

6. Make sure you are disciplined or know how to apply yourself without getting distracted by the social life,     especially parties where there is lots of booze and dope.

These cartoons simplify some important suggestions to those who are either thinking about studying art, or who are about to begin their studies in the coming Fall.

I don't believe in luck, so instead of wishing all those young art students luck, I'll say, I will pray for you!
And for those of you that are looking to Grad need some serious prayer!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Business of Being An Artist

Artists have always been challenged trying to find ways and means to support themselves financially. We aren't 'destined to be poor', but wow it sure can seem that way for many of us trying to make money from our creativity by way of trying to find a market for whatever we create.

I have spent many years reading, studying and learning how to go about this. I've come to two conclusions. Make a lot of art and educate yourself, learning everything you possibly can about marketing. Of course online marketing is essential today, if you want to be kept in the loop, but this does not substitute or suffice for doing the physical leg work of the artist, that is necessary to find a niche and to sell your work.

I've researched and Googled myself silly searching for online sites that have practical suggestions, advice and support for artists and have found quite a few helpful sites over the years. This week I found  a new one that impressed me. Unconventional Guides  its very helpful, especially if you are new to the online labyrinth of searching and you might find helpful. I have also listed below, links to some sites that I have used to assist me as an artist. I will update and add the list as I think of more.

Reading other artist's blogs, networking through social media, and simply being computer literate is a must and helps immeasurably!