|Jimmy Talarico | Artist
From the notebook…
Here is the final image of my latest piece. The title was taken from a line in this poem I wrote:
I sing in silence to my soul
Wind through leaves on trees and ground
Enamored heart now takes it's toll
Before you even make a sound
A taste so sweet I feel it's flavor
Touch so pure it's fragrance found
Unbound by mercy laced with favor
Echo in a distant sound
With lightning's flash and thunder's roll
The glory of a kingdom crowned
As freedom laughs at self control
A quiet whisper of a sound
This piece was a great emotional release as I felt "free" to simply create. I kept the John Coltrane Pandora station blasting and let the music influence my decisions on color and textures. I wanted it to feel like it was just pulled out of my mind so multiple layers of color were applied to keep the direction of my brush strokes as ambiguous as possible. For more information on this piece follow this link.
Continuing the study of the book Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland brings us to Chapter 5: Finding Your Work. This is all about honesty and making real things. Or should I say making things real.
"In the ideal -- that is to say, real -- artist, fears not only continue to exist, they exist side by side with the desires that complement them, perhaps drive them, certainly feed them. Naïve passion, which promotes work done in ignorance or obstacles, becomes -- with courage -- informed passion, which promotes work done in full acceptance of those obstacles. Foremost among those obstacles is uncertainty."
The authors make an interesting assertion on the difference between the art viewer and art maker. Clearly there are limits and liberties to both; for example, art viewers are not limited by place and time. But for art makers, their work will always reference a very specific place and time, a moment. Art viewers are 'moved' by experiencing great art, but art makers are changed through the process of making. And the artist finds honesty and truth in discovering his or her process. Power in art making comes from letting your art express who you are, instead of copying someone else's style or intent.
From here the authors discuss the importance of creating a body of work that will end up being an evolution from one idea as opposed to continually finding 'new' ideas. This keeps art makers engaged in the process which will ultimately lead to great creative works.
"There's a difference between meaning that is embodied and meaning that is referenced. As someone once said, no one should wear a Greek fisherman's hat except a Greek fisherman."
"One of the best kept secrets of art making is that new ideas come into play far less frequently than practical ideas -- ideas that can be re-used for a thousand variations, supplying the framework for a whole body of work rather than a single piece."
From here the concepts of form and technique are discussed as a way to suggest how an art maker must stay engaged with his or her ideas. There is a practical side to honing technique. It produces boundaries within our work that allow us to explore a host of ideas within a familiar framework.
"The discovery of useful forms is precious. Once found, they should never be abandoned for trivial reasons... The hardest part of art making is living your life in such a way that your work gets done, over and over -- and that means, among other things, finding a host of practices that are just plain useful.
Your voice will come through honing the familiar. Only you know what to say about your art, and only you know how to say it. Keep saying it, and sooner or later the art viewer will acquire an ear to recognize your voice.
Quick progress update. The letters are stacked and getting melted onto the canvas. Their height and density show how many letters were written each year and how long each letter was.
What's the black stuff? Good question. It's a combination of ash and wax.
Really?... Why ash and wax? Another good question.
They are both symbolic and functional. You see, my overarching interest with my art right now focuses on Value and Memory.
I use ash from burned cardboard and paper waste; fire and burning has always been a metaphor for purity. So it's a way to repurpose something of no value to give it new value.
As for the wax, I prefer to use candles I find at thrift stores. Thrift store items are compelling to me. Yes, Melinda does think this is weird. :) But let me explain. Everything in a thrift store was once purchased by someone because they valued it. Then somewhere along the way it was discarded as waste.
If you look at candles specifically, they were typically purchased for very special moments: birthdays, weddings, romantic evenings, etc. But at some point they were given up.
Why? Was there a death or did a relationship end or did the kids move out of the house? Whatever the reason, it marks a point in someone's life when that purpose for buying the candles lost value.
So I like to think that I'm honoring those initial memories by using these materials for art. Specifically for this piece, it's the perfect marriage of concept and material as a way to preserve and display these love letters which may never be discarded.
This week in the book Art & Fear the authors look at our fear of others and how it can hamper our creative pursuits. As artists, we tend to look for two things from others: acceptance and approval.
Architecture has been a great proving ground of this idea in my life. The times I've struggled the most in finding strong conceptual, creative solutions for clients is when I've thought too much about what the client will like instead of simply doing what was right. My best solutions have always come from only focusing on the design issue in front of me and blocking out any anticipation of how anyone will react to it.
Learning how to communicate with your art takes practice and commitment. If you can block out the external "noise" and focus on what your work is saying, you will be satisfied in knowing the idea of exploration has been served.
So how do you find the voice in your work?... We'll look at that next week.
So my first client is an engineer. Turns out her husband, for whom this piece is being created, is ALSO an engineer... and I need to make something that is about them and that they will love.
Well that sounds easy enough..... Right. :)
The solution? I've created a system based on math (probably something fancy like derivatives, whatever those are) that will be used to display these letters.
I started with the dimensions of the piece, 18" x 36". Then I took the number of years represented (which is 5, plus a misc. stack of undated letters) and the number of letters in each year (which varied dramatically) to determine that each letter had to be contained in a 3/4" x 4 1/2" block. The third dimension, height would vary based on how many pages were in each letter.
Wow... That's all quite a mouthful. But I know my client will most likely check my math and appreciate the "engineering" behind the art. It's just another layer of taking these Memories To Masterpiece.
This post is a continuation of my review of the book Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland. It looks at the second chapter titled "Art & Fear."
"Artists don't get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working." -Stephen DeStaebler
This is how I lived for years. I would let the urge to create bubble up within me until I felt like I was going to explode without some sort of release. Then I'd go on an art binge for a few days and create anything from sculptures to films to rap songs (yeah, I wish that was a typo!). After the binge I'd let the creative hunger recess back to my brains nether regions until the urge would rise again a few months later. The problem with sporadic creation like that is it lacks consistency, and consistency is essential to growth and development of skill.
"Making art precipitates self-doubt, stirring deep waters that lay between what you know you should be, and what you fear you might be." -David Bayles & Ted Orland in Art & Fear
I was watching a great interview on artist Polly Morgan who gained immediate "success" as a taxidermy artist. Her work really is amazing. But the thing that struck me is during the interview she said (paraphrase), "I have this fear that someday people will realize I'm just a fraud." Now that was great for me to hear! This truly talented artist shared the same fear that the rest of us have.
I think it comes from the strain between essential self-exploration of one's work and the worry of "will anyone like this?" As an artist, what others think needs to be a reaction to the art you create, not a catalyst. And uncertainty is foundational for creative discovery.
"People who need certainty in their lives are less likely to make art that is risky, subversive, complicated, iffy, suggestive or spontaneous. What's really needed is nothing more than a broad sense of what you are looking for, some strategy for how to find it, and an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way. Simply put, making art is chancy -- it doesn't mix well with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the pre-requisite to succeeding." -Art & Fear
Art & Fear. Anyone who has attempted to create art to share with others knows these two words go together well. But despite the fear, art remains essential to create.
I'm going to run a quick series of highlights I've found in the book "Art & Fear" by David Boyle & Ted Orland. This book is not a "how to" on creating art, rather it is a sort of pep-talk for the artist not sure if he or she is willing to take the first steps toward creating.
I read this book when I decided to start taking my work seriously. There are some great points that put what we do into perspective. For example:
I know for me, my art never ends up looking like how I planned for it to look.
Something happens in the process where your work will start to inform you about the direction it needs to go. Learn to listen. And understand that your perspective of your work is always different than the viewers:
When you understand your perspective and the viewer's perspective will always be different you gain a sense of freedom because you know your work can not be done to please someone else. This means your only other option is to serve the idea for its own sake. Doesn't that sound incredibly refreshing and liberating?
So choose to persevere.
I hope this encourages you to get off the fence and create. Your ideas are worth exploring, even if only for yourself at first. But learn from each piece. Listen to how it communicates. Take risks. And grow.
Jimmy & Melinda Talarico
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