Monthly Archives: February 2011

best.book.ever. (gotta love when inspiration finds you)

I think it’s cool that most often, I don’t need to seek out the things to inspire me. It always seems that they just appear. It’s pretty rare that I have lukewarm feelings about something. Either I’m ambivilant about something, or I LOVE it. Hot and cold, black and white. The things I love, I love intensely and passionately.

I was in Hobby Lobby about ten years ago buying art supplies (I’m a big fan of the 40% coupon in the paper when buying those big expensive Prismacolor sets) and I somehow wandered over to the poster section. I’m generally not that excited about that area, as I don’t want the same art in my house that millions of other people do. I don’t need puppies in paint cans, or babies in flowerpots, or a black and white photo of the Eiffel tower in my living room. Nothing against anyone that likes those things, but my personal tastes gravitate a little more toward the exotic, funky, or intriguing.

So I flipped past print after print of Monet’s haystacks, Degas’ ballerinas, and charts of kinds of chili peppers, and suddenly this jumped out at me:

Cosmos of the Enlightened Vision

 I LOVED it.

 I’ve always been a huge fan of Eastern art. To me it always feels fresh and interesting, probably because we’re not exposed to it nearly as much as European artists. I especially love the rich colors and exquisite details of Tibetan Art. I looked at the title: “Cosmos of the Enlightened Vision.” It had so much detail that you could practically fall into it and lose yourself forever.

Of course, I bought it. And hung it up. And every time I moved, although some things would fall in and out of the wall art rotation, that one always found a place.

Fast forward to last springs. My boyfriend and I were in a bookstore browsing in the bargain books section. For any artist, this is a GREAT source of cheap reference art. All of a sudden, a book caught my attention. The cover read “The Celestial Gallery” and the art reminded me of my beloved poster. It wasn’t anything I’d ever seen before, but it felt very familiar.

The Celestial Gallery - Romio Shrestha

I picked it up. Flipped through the pages. Page after page after page of gorgeous paintings just like “Cosmos of the Enlightened Vision.” Of course, they were all completely different, but every bit as intricate and beautiful and captivating. Then, smack in the center of the book, was “Cosmos of the Enlightened Vision.” That confirmed it. I had to own this book.

The best part was that, being in the bargain book section, this $39.99 book was marked down to $7.99. Even better, they were having at 50% all bargain books sale (I somehow had failed to notice the gigantic signs hanging up all over the section) and when I got to the register it was only $3.99!

 I went home that day the happiest girl ever.

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One of my favorite artists you’ve never heard of (because I hadn’t either)

I love school. I especially loved Art History.

Friends and family have called me out for saying this. They point out that from the middle to the end of any given semester, I’m a sleep deprived, caffeine guzzling, short-tempered, bleary eyed, twitching, stressing, crying, whacked out bitch. To this I retort, very matter of factly, that it’s not SCHOOL that’s the problem. It’s the combination of school on top of working full-time, on top of being a mom, on top of the stresses of everyday life. It’s the lack of hours in the day that’s the problem, not school itself. In fact, if school was the only thing I had to worry about, it wouldn’t be stressful at all.

Getting back to my point, I LOVE art, and I’ve actually taken four different Art History classes. All the paper writing we did meant a lot of research into artists, paintings or cultures that I never knew much about before. I wrote about everything from ancient megalithic statues, to the Christian catacombs of Rome, to the graffiti art movement of the 1980’s. My favorite discovery from writing these papers was the artwork of Remedios Varo, a Spanish-Mexican surrealist painter. Most people have never heard of her, although almost everyone has heard of the surrealist Salvador Dali who painted around the same time period. Although I love the weirdness of Dali, I like Varo’s work even better. She blends elements from astronomy, alchemy, geometry, metaphysics, medieval architecture, machinery and music into paintings that are magical, otherworldly, and mystical. Her work is beautiful, solemn, and feels like something from a dream. Within seconds of discovering she existed, she instantly became one of my favorite artists.

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bleary eyed and confused (or why StumbleUpon = digital crack)

I think I have an unhealthy addiction to StumbleUpon. I’ve lost hundreds of hours of my life to it. For someone like me who gets very easily sidetracked on the InterWebz, it’s a very very dangerous time-suck. It’s never good when you start messing around on the computer shortly after the kids go to bed, get sucked in, and all of a sudden it’s 4:15am, you have to get up for work in 2 hours, your brain is crammed full of amazing images, and you’re not really sure where all that time just went.

can't.....look......away.......

StumbleUpon, if you have no idea what it is, is  personalized search engine. It introduces you to random sites across the web that other people have marked as interesting. Based on whether you like the site, you either give it a thumbs up on thumbs down (or if you’re feeling neutral, do nothing at all). When you’re sick of looking at the site you’re on, click the “stumble” botton, and another interesting site pops up. The more you “stumble” and use those little thumbs up or thumbs down icons, the more personalized your recommendations get. Once you sign up for an account and have your preferences saved the experience gets even better, because it knows your likes and dislikes right away.

StumbleUpon breaks down the websites of the world into a ton of categories, and you can go through the list and choose the ones that you find the most interesting. My categories contain everything from Punk Rock to Ancient History to Photography to Art to Cooking. You can even go through your categories to find which ones you have “liked” the most times, or choose to stumble only one particular . Wake up one day thinking that you only want to check out sites about modern architecture? You can do that.

If you consider yourself a creative type, this site is nothing less than awesome. I’ve discovered so many cool artists and works of art on here, and if you’re trying to kick-start your creativity, this is a great way to do it. When I need a jolt of inspiration I love going back through my Favorites list, and usually rediscover something that makes me want to go running for my sketch pad and just CREATE.

Today I stumbled across Threyda.com. There is some absolutely gorgeous work in there. I was completely captivated by the work of two of the artists – Peter Westermann and Peter Rodulfo. It’s everything I love…saturated colors, intricate patterns, repeating geometric shapes… it’s the kind of art that makes me want to dive through the canvas and just immerse myself in it. I want to plaster the walls of my house with it.

PLEASE…check them out. 

Peter Westermann - Mandala Blue

Peter Rudolfo -Hight Tide and Green Octopi

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jack of all trades, expert at none (or why I can’t paint monkeys in space suits driving 1964 VW Bugs)

I’m interested in too many things. It’s a problem.

Why? Because everything you read about establishing your career in art gives the same advice: Focus, focus, focus. You should create work that’s instantly attributable to you and only you. If you paint, paint pictures of one thing. Painting cars? Not focused enough. Painting Volkswagens in acrylics? Still not focused enough. Painting 1964 VW Beetles driven by moneys in space suits in orange and green acrylic paint in an Art Noveau style? Possibly focused enough…but probably not.

I can’t do it. The problem, and one of my biggest fears, is that I just can’t focus that much. I want to do too much. I want to be good at EVERYTHING. And being good at the things I already know isn’t enough. I want to be BETTER. And even that isn’t enough. The list of things I want to get really good at keeps getting longer and longer, and I know that for every one thing that gets crossed off, two more (at least) will pop up to replace it.

The more you know, the more you realize what you DON’T know. And WANT to know. And HAVE TO know. It’s very easy for me to see how people could spend their entire careers as academics. I honestly love acquiring knowledge. I would be a professional student, if I didn’t need to have things like….oh….food and shelter.

So, here’s the list of everything that I want to be amazing at. Some of them I’m already pretty decent at, some I dabble in but want to get better, and some of them I’ve never even tried. I figure if I just get the list down, and out into the universe….that’s a start.

  • Glass blowing
  • Stained glass
  • Video editing
  • Photoshop
  • Silk Screening
  • Oil painting
  • Acrylic painting
  • Photography
  • Cake decorating
  • Ceramics
  • Interior decorating
  • Metalworking/jewelrymaking
  • Animation

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Snowmageddon 2011 (stock up on alchohol and wait to die!!!!)

Here in the Chicago suburbs, (along with pretty much everyone else in the Midwest) we just got NAILED with snow. On the Snow-Wussiness Spectrum, I like to think we fall somewhere between the middle and the end. I realize that there are states where half an inch falls, and the world screeches to a halt. Then there’s the people up north and in the northeast (way more hardcore than us) who have to tunnel through drifts higher than their heads, shovel out their cars, and drive to work in three feet of snow pretty much no matter what. Now, around here we take pride in the fact that we don’t usually wuss out over snow, but we got about twenty (!!!!) inches the other night, and the world pretty much shut down.

 

We always get so much hype from the weather reports before these (supposedly) big storms. STORM OF THE CENTURY! SNOWPACOLYPSE! SNOWMAGGEDON 2011 (my personal favorite). YOU WILL BE SNOWED IN! YOU’LL BE BURIED ALIVE! YOU WILL DIE!

Then we usually get about three inches, and everyone goes to work and school as usual. L-A-M-E.

So as you can image, most of us were a little cynical about this “Storm of a Lifetime.” The biggest snow since 1965, or 1999….or something. I can’t remember. Nonetheless, I was grateful that we got out of work at 2pm when the official blizzard warning took effect around 3:30pm. I didn’t want to be on the road when that nonsense kicked in…just in case.

It starts snowing slightly before they let us out of work. I get home in two hours…from what’s supposed to be a 45 minute drive. We’re already stocked with snacks, beer and dinner. That’s love. By 6pm the snow is coming down thicker, but it’s still no “Storm of the Century” We scoff at the dusting on the sidewalk, (which we can still see) and go back to the TV.

A few hours later we hear shrieking outside….thunder, lightening, ice pellets hitting the roof, lights flickering in and out, the sound of what might be parts of the building flying off. Is this really happening? We look at each other and finally admit…this storm is SO COOL!!!

A couple beers, some s’mores in the fireplace, and some tv shows later, we go to bed. I wake up to a text at 7am…now it’s OFFICIALLY a snow day

It’s not often that everything completely just shuts down. It’s nice. I’ll admit, I was almost giddy with joy. Adults really should get snow days more often. I’m willing to bet we appreciate them much more than the kids do. And it’s nice to be reminded that, no matter how jaded you may be, sometimes cool stuff actually does happen.

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