Helpful Ways to Stay Creative

Posted: June 15, 2015 in The Store

Get a diversity of experience.  Explore new things, new people, new artists, writers, photographers, etc. Review those things that don’t turn you on and why.  Revisit the whole picture and make new evaluations and set new challenges.

22163Daydream!  Exactly the opposite of what your grade school teachers told you.  Let your mind roll over what you’ve seen, experienced and understood.  Let your mind take to new concepts and directions.  There’s a lot of stuff in the brain cells.  Pull out some good themes and paint, draw, write or sing them.

Love doing something so deeply that you lose track of time.   Hours pass and you haven’t stopped to eat (a sure sign).  If you find yourself doing that, you are on the right creative track – you’re in the zone – It’s that simple.

Immerse yourself in beauty.  Saturate on such wonderful imagery that your heart rate goes up.  Nietzsche, the German philosopher, poet, composer, and Greek scholar urged people to live our lives as a work of art.  Seek more self expression from the sensual beauty in what surrounds you.

creativity%20and%20mistakesDon’t shy away from taking risks.  Part of creative expression is taking risks.   Engaging creativity is about making something from an assemblage of what already exists to present it through your perception.  That’s always risky, if you are worried about what others will think of your work.  Creativity is clearly not for the faint at heart.

Look at the world as a warehouse of opportunities to learn and express.  View things with questions—be insatiably curious.  Someone once wrote: “Creatives fail and the really good ones fail often.”

A. S. Pirozzoli

Inner Art

Posted: May 6, 2015 in The Store

Edward Hopper – Sunlight in a Cafeteria – Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

We’ve all seen photographs of ourselves.  Over time they serve as recorded portraits of each of us as individuals.  But here’s an interesting thought.  The artist leaves behind a very different kind of personal portrait.  The typical photographic portrait, whether black and white or color, depicts the out person.  Okay, I agree that in certain cases the eyes may communicate some sense of the person’s state at the moment of the shot.

When the artist paints or draws something, it’s also a portrait; one that’s more revealing than a photographic version.  The artist projects something out of his inner life, a particular view or perspective of how he sees the world outside.  The art is in a strong sense, a portrait of the artist from the inside out.

“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life in the artist,
and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.”
Edward Hopper
Unlike a photograph that can only depict the individual’s exterior, art reveals the inner portrait of a person.  Look at your work. What would you say it reveals about your inner view of the world?  Others are making that kind of judgment every time they observe your work.
A.S. Pirozzoli

Probably more often than not, artists are defined as creative, idea people, conceptualists, and in some ways, futurists.  Artists bring into consciousness that which can be completely original and new, or a re-visit of something that exists. Artists often find Artthemselves in the forefront, pushing the limits of norms and technology.  They can see the next steps, make leaps, and combine together elements in new and powerful ways.  In other camps the artist is viewed as one who bridges reality and would-be reality. Artists also tend to be sensitive to the environment.

They understand perception and know how to communicate visual information that can in turn, convey messages for their times.  They exploit media and technique in order to empower the message they wish to share.  They are skilled at finding unusual relationships between events and images.  In visual art, the database of information with which an artist works, consists largely of visual images, drawn from any number of sources.  Sorting and making sense of thissteal information, the artist is a master seer.  Well, there we have a mix of opinions which I’ve heard from a wide variety of sources over the years. And yet with all these descriptors, I still do not see one, single definition of an artist, which is a good thing.  We don’t need to be pigeon-holed.  Of course I can’t close without adding my own two cents.  That said, I think artists are people who can see into the ordinary, and demonstrate the extraordinary.  I have to say, and it’s unbiased, that I enjoy a resource like Hull’s because their slogan really says something important.  Tools for the Imagination.   The artist needs tools to produce art. Even in the times of cave dwellers, pulverized flowers formed the basis of paints.  The artist can see the vision dramatically in his imagination, but until it gets out on a cave wall, canvas, paper or other medium, he is the only one seeing anything. So, think about it: What is an artist?

A.S. Pirozzoli

dali bread hat 2Whatever you’re painting style, no matter how long you’ve been a practicing artist, all kinds of people will say all kinds of things about your art.  You have to learn how to handle harsh words and reviews as part of life.  One of the traps we fall into is our seemingly endless desire to ask people what they think of our paintings, sketches…whatever.  I witnessed an artist friend showing a simple abstract painting to someone.  After viewing the painting for a time, the man said, “I think that’s a really interesting way to portray a fish.” It was a painting of a loaf of bread.

Asking people about your work is like a focus group.  Focus groups, unless they are managed and monitored very carefully, create a need for the panel to say something, even if they don’t know what they’re talking about, which is often the case. When you put people on the spot with the “What do you think? question, some kind of answer is going to spill out onto your canvas.  Why allow an external source define your art?  Art is probably the most subjective topic of all.  There are people who actually buy art that matches their couch, and you want their opinion of your artwork?  Doesn’t make any sense.  Besides, most people will never tell you what they really think about what you’ve painted.  Instead, they will generally say something they believe you want to hear or what will not offend you.  If someone is viewing your art work, let them comment on their own.

Of course you’ll also face those home-made critics who comment on everything under the sun and I’ve yet to see a statue erected to a critic.  Now, that’s not to negate the usefulness of an educated, forthright critic whom you trust and have a relationship with.  That can prove valuable to you.  But even in that situation, you must have a line you don’t cross.  What’s the line?  The line of your own ability to become overly sensitive or worse, become defensive.

Be prepared in advance when people are viewing your work, they may interpret a loaf of bread for a fish.  But you can always let them off the hook.  Stay confident in what you are creating!

A.S. Pirozzoli

The Art of First Ideas

Posted: November 18, 2014 in The Store

1 trainEvery person who creates, especially in the world of painting, achieves something of great satisfaction by trying, testing, rethinking, recomposing, and stretching ourselves beyond the first glance.  Both artists and writers face the dreaded blank page, canvas, sketch pad.

blank canvasAny artistic subject matter that wants to be released from our brushes, a landscape for instance, carries with it a first impression or idea.  A landscape conveys material elements and that’s typically the first idea.   With that first idea the expected, the known, and the stereotypical thoughts appear.  When the artist recognizes this he usually steps back to reconsider the composition, then perhaps the style and the texture, color and so on.

ch-thinking_capsOften we become bogged down in this process and undervalue or overlook the purpose of the painting in the first place.  Van Gogh had much to say about his Starry Night painting; in a letter to his brother he referred to “exaggerations in terms of composition.”  Another comment, “I should not be surprised if you liked the Starry Night and the Ploughed Fields, there is a greater quiet about them than in the other canvases.”

When I was attending the Paier College of Art, I had several unique professors.  One of them would make us draw a particular object dozens and dozens of times until we broke out of seeing the object and finally seeing what we wanted to convey by drawing it.  He did the same with painting.  He would take out brushes and hand out sticks and combs and sponges (and make right-handed students paint with their left hand and vise-versa, which forced the tightness and expected out of us.  What this did, in my opinion, was to shift us from the insecurity of painting to a confidence in our ideas.

The great work rarely arrived in the first ideas.  Keep in mind this is a blog post not a lesson.  Nor do I wish to tutor artists and creative people.  I’m simply sharing something I experienced that has continued to serve me well in my career.  Think about it, using caution with that first idea may keep you from striking the golden concept waiting to be discovered. 

Happy painting!

A. S. Pirozzol

colorwheelArtists and colors are joined together at the hip.  Color communicates to the emotions.  In many cases color can convey messages as effectively as words.  But color lives a vibrant life outside the artist’s studio.  Color is a part of daily life to such a degree we don’t always take notice. Here are few examples.

Can you imagine a taxi cab dashing along the street in purple, or red instead of yellow?  May it never be.  Yet the bumblebee yellow of taxi cabs wasn’t always yellow.  In 1905 on the streets of New York, cabs were painted red and green.  In Connecticut, at his car company, Albert Rockwell created a taxi cab with a 15-horsepower engine and the two-tone shades.  Handed down via word of mouth, it’s said that his wife urged him to use yellow paint to make the cabs more outstanding.  By around 1909 New York cabbies were tooling around in bumblebee yellow.

The Fleer Chewing Gum Company was experimenting with a new gum recipe. The gum was intended to be less sticky and more flexible in order to produce larger bubbles.  The company had in storage, a large quantity of pink dye which was poured into the batch.  And that is how chewing gum became pink.   

frameThe color red is astounding. Emotionally intense, red stimulates a faster heartbeat and breathing.  It is also the color of love.  Red cars are popular targets for thieves.  In decorating, red is usually used as an accent.  Decorators say that red furniture should be perfect since it will attract attention.  Red is most likely affiliated with food. It is typically prominent or at least present in restaurants and is shown to be an appetite stimulant.

emeraldGreen symbolizes nature.  It is the easiest color on the eye and can improve vision.  It is a calming, refreshing color.  Guests waiting to appear on TV shows, wait in “green rooms” to relax.  Hospitals often use green because it relaxes patients.  Dark green is masculine, conservative, and implies wealth.      

blue m&msBlue is one of the most popular colors but it is one of the least appetizing.  Blue food is rare in nature.  Food researchers say that when humans searched for food, they learned to avoid toxic or spoiled objects, which were often blue, black, or purple.  When food dyed blue is served to study subjects, they lose appetite.

You might find it interesting to start observing where and how colors are used off the canvas.  There may be lessons to be learned as artistic observers.

A.S. Pirozzoli

When Your Art is Really Cooking

Posted: October 3, 2014 in The Store

As a part time artist (I still work for a living), I am sometimes asked how to go about painting a good picture.  I used to respond with the basics, composition, technique, color, depth and all that good stuff. CanvasOver the years I began using cooking as a metaphor, since one of my sons is an executive chef.  In observing him at work I saw some practical comparisons to painting.

First off, here is the danger in asking someone else how to paint a good picture.  I discovered this while trying out one of my son’s recipes.  From a practical standpoint, carefully following his recipe should get me the same result he achieves.  Should look good, smell good, and hopefully, taste good. After all, when I started out painting and drawing years ago, I followed the step by step instructions of art teachers in a studio setting as well as from books. By copying the artist’s techniques I did get the same outcome in the painting.  In some case I followed the directions and techniques so well; my painting was virtually the same as the instructors’.  It was for all intents and purposes, his painting, reproduced by me.

But (yes there’s always a, but), something was missing.  I noticed this in following my son’s recipe for a meal.  It looked pretty much the same, smelled the same and the taste was, well, let’s say close enough. Both the Crab Meatmeals and the paintings turned out lacking.  Then I remembered something my mom used to say when she cooked (and she was masterful at it). “You have to love the food as you prepare it.  When you prepare a meal, you do so through love.”  Suddenly that truism came to life for me.

A painting, like a meal, isn’t about the technique, it’s about your own hands and eyes creating something that you feel really good about.  Technique doesn’t make a good painting or a good meal.  It’s the heart that brings it to life.  That sense of heart is where your own style and sensibilities will come from. Now, I realize we have to emulate to learn, but at some point the training wheels need to come off.

By looking deeply and responding to the beauty or the information the world around you conveys will inspire you to create art that is true to you and will engage others.  That is what is difficult to learn, not the techniques.  Okay, grab a crab meat croissant and get to the canvas. That painter within is hungry!

A.S. Pirozzoli