Category Archives: Art

Outlawry and the metaphysics of Quality – Zen, Persig et al

tabby thinking it over 2

Tabby:  So what does all this airplane talk have to do with the metaphysics of  quality?

Me:  Giving ourselves quality in life comes in a lot of forms, but each trail we take leading there relies on our personal determination to define what we believe is quality.  Although it’s remotely possible some larger social or governmental entity will offer the opportunities, it’s no priority with them.  They’re concerned with something they define as ‘the greater good’.  Keeping people on the sidewalks, off the grass.  If a person sees the need to walk on the grass, to lie on it, to find the quality in it, he’s going to have to find a way to get there without going to jail.  You have to find awareness of the grass, and you can’t be aware of it until you’ve experienced it.

Tabby:  But at least they’re keeping the dogs from crapping on the grass..

Me:  That’s right.  And if you’re planning to crap on it you’d destroy the quality you hoped to find there.  But if you allow the fact someone in control is afraid you’ll crap on the grass to keep you off it so’s to make sure you don’t you’ve lost a chunk of life you’ll never recover.  A piece of the quality of living gone because someone else might have violated it if they’d gone there.

Tabby:  People can’t see the damned grass anyway, right?  They walk right past it without seeing anything.

Me:  Mostly they don’t see it because they‘re somewhere else.  They‘re thinking about something they think is in the future, where they‘re having lunch, or something someone said an hour ago.  They’re walking past that grass and have a vague intellectual awareness the grass is there, but that’s only half of where quality lives.  The flash of instant ‘seeing’ it before the mind has time to intellectually define what it’s seeing is where quality hides.  And because they don’t experience the quality of the grass they have no respect for it.  They’re minds assign it no value.  They take a rhetorical crap on the grass without ever knowing they’ve done it.

Tabby:  So that’s why the people posting the signs want to keep them off the grass?  So they won’t take a rhetorical crap on it as they go by?

Me:  No.  The people posting the signs think they’re doing it to protect the grass for the ‘greater good’ of all those people and dogs going by who won’t see it.  Sign posters couldn’t care less about what people experience as they go by.  They think it’s the separation between the people and dogs, and the grass that’s important.

Tabby:  I’m glad they do it, anyway.  I hate eating grass after a dog’s peed or crapped on it. 

Me:  But you can’t taste it until you get past the signs.

Old Jules

My hat’s off to Jeanne

I was talking to her on the phone last night, her feeling down and in fairly low spirits about the art she’s worked on all these years and hasn’t sold enough of to balance the cost of entries in art shows, etc.  We were discussing other strategies she might try when I suddenly heard the word, “AWESOME!”

I thought the connection and gone bad or I was hearing wrong.  Just reaching for the button to hang up when she added, “I sold one off the blog!” 

I didn’t hang up after all, though the word awesome isn’t one I usually allow to reach my ear twice in the same conversation.

Can’t tell you how glad I am for her.  I honestly couldn’t imagine a blog, no matter how much trouble a person took building it, was a place where original art could be sold.

Taking it all too seriously– from Jeanne

“Artists shouldn’t enter the arena of competitions until they are tough enough to realize it is only opinion and not a reflection on their worth.”  (Mary Moquin)

So… I got a rejection letter.  None of the pieces I submitted were accepted, although I’ve been in that particular exhibit twice in years past ( most recently about three years ago).
The above is one I submitted. Problem is with form letters, you never know what it was that made them reject it. I’ll only be able to speculate when I go to the exhibit.

I’ve noted before that they seem partial to some 3-D element for the prize winners, but I haven’t tried that yet.  There are a lot of ways that could be done with my work, but without my work by nature being 3-D,  I suspect it would look contrived. I also get frustrated when I get too far away from the actual drawing (like those pendants, where the glass cutting and soldering is time-consuming).  Cutting paper, layering paper, rotating layers of paper, mirror-edges around the design–all of them  sound cool but don’t really sound fun to put together.  I’m really not a paper-crafter.
I have a couple of other ideas about how I can give them more depth, so I suppose I’ll concentrate on that first.

I have a couple of little peeves about these exhibits. The first is the application fee (in this case, $25, which isn’t too unreasonable). The second is that photography and other kinds of art work are usually grouped together, and I think photography exhibits/competitions should be held separately from other media.  I think photography is an entirely different beast, especially now that good cameras are affordable and it’s so easy to use the computer in conjunction with that.  I love it, but just because it hangs on the wall doesn’t make it the same thing.

Evaluating my work is a constant process, always there in the background, but it’s good to put it up front sometimes.   Right now the difficulty of getting exposure to promote sales makes it a challenge in ways that don’t have anything to do with the  difficulty of doing the work.  I hope I’ll be able to draw some  honest conclusions later on.  Maybe that will include submitting some photographs next time.

There’s one nice little conclusion to this form-letter rejection, though. I was shelf-reading at work last night (shelf-reading is checking the shelves to make sure that every book is placed in exact order). I always keep an eye out for bookmarks since I have quite a collection. Usually I find check-out receipts and boarding passes. This time, in a book called “The Lord is my Shepherd”, I found $26.00. Just enough to cover the application fee and postage to send the cd. Is that cool, or what?

Jeanne

Jeanne Checks In

While we all twiddle our thumbs in anticipation waiting to hear whether Old Jules is giving the lawyers a bad day or has gone fishing, here’s a very brief update from me, Jeanne.
I just realized I never showed you the final version of this particular mandala that I was working on in June, so here it is:

Those little shaded areas are actually a clear metallic ink.

I  completed four good-sized works in June and July before I went on vacation. I’ll put the others up at some point, or Old Jules will.  I entered an exhibit application showing those other three as examples of my work, and if one of them gets chosen, I’ll get that one matted and framed. I’ve been in the exhibit before, which is held in a local nature center building, but I haven’t heard anything yet for this year.  I like this one because they let you put prices on your work and the Parks and Recreation Dept. actually makes some purchases themselves for their buildings throughout the county. So we shall see. I’ve never won any prizes or sold anything through this exhibit, but the judge this year is affiliated with our  Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (Kansas City, MO), so it makes sense to let one more art professional  see my stuff.  Usually the winners from this show are either doing photography or have some 3-D element in their work.

I took 2460 photographs on my trip, most of them in Oregon and Washington. If you want to connect with me on Facebook, you can see some of them (I’m there as Jeanne Bangs Kasten). There were some really great photos because I got a new camera, a Canon Powershot Elph somethingorother.  Even just set on automatic, the pictures were great. I took pictures at Breitenbush Hot Springs, the Oregon beach, Tacoma, WA, Mt. Rainier, Ballard Locks (Seattle) and the Dale Chihuly Museum at the Seattle Center (right by the Space Needle). I have a ton of scenery and greenery photos, and I have an obsession (apparantly) with running water scenes.  I haven’t passed on very many to Old Jules yet because it involves either re-sizing them all or putting them on a separate flash drive. 
 Well, back to work!  And the rest of you can go back to twiddling your thumbs. 
Jeanne

The Limerick Masters of Yesteryear – The Lost Artform

By the time I arrived at adulthood the state of the limerick as a masterpiece of the literary foil was in alarming decline.  Playboy Magazine attempted to inject new life into the medium during the 1960s and 1970s by paying $500 for limerick submissions accepted for publication.  The selection process was tough and they accepted only true masterpieces.

During those years I submitted no fewer than ten [10] limericks per month and never had one accepted.  Hundreds of limericks.  There was no place in Playboy for second-rate hacks.

While the artform requires a particular meter, the truly well-constructed one needs more.  Internal rhyming.  Puns.  Lilting beat to simulate waves on a beach.  A joy to the tongue and ear. 

To illustrate my point, here is perhaps the best limerick ever written, once published in Playboy:

The new cineramic emporium
Is not just a super-sensorium
But a highly effectual
Heterosexual
Mutual masterbatorium.

Every time I run those timeless words through my mind, I’m humbled.

I don’t know whether the image at the top of the page depicts a man who once wrote limericks and submitted them to Playboy.  He almost certainly could have.  Possibly should have.

He might have been a contender.

Old Jules

Art Work Update from Jeanne

Last week when I finally cleared the decks and got out all the pens again, I realized how critical it seemed for me to start drawing every day. In the meantime I came across this little book while I was shelving at the library:

It describes Resistance and how to combat it. Those of you who are doing creative work already know what I’m talking about. But knowing the characteristics of Resistance and having a plan to fight it helps. I’m going to have to own this book just in case I ever see myself getting away from drawing again.

So here are a few photos for you showing what I’ve been working on.These aren’t scans, so the photo angles will be a bit off.

Although I find the asymmetrical ones very fun to work on, I also demand that I retain my ability to do the symmetrical ones free-hand. All those curlicues in the middle area compensate somewhat for where it got off track. I hope.

I rarely get out a ruler, but on this one I did for the next stage. I just used it to mark dots where I wanted to start those outside edge designs. Once I had one that I thought was round, and when I got a circular mat cut for it, it turned out it wasn’t round at all. So now I’m more careful about that, either making sure it’s round or not getting round mats!

Here’s one more from the end of last night:
I don’t think it’s finished, but at this point it’s definitely time to walk away and not look at it for a few days.

However, I couldn’t help bringing it over to Paint Shop Pro to see what I could come up with:
Love it!

Here’s a close-up of an old one that I had already matted about 6 years ago. I had pens that weren’t as good as the ones I use now, so I’m brightening it up with better colors:
I guess that center motif has always been a favorite of mine. I need to break away from that.

Just for fun, here’s a photo of the above taken under a black light:

A photo of the work table. My son took a card table and cut off the legs so it’s only about a foot high.  I sit on a cushion on the floor. I have a clamp-on light and a clamp-on magnifier. It works great since I can move it around easily and can use it for anything up to a couple of feet square.
Oh, I also worked on that long strip one lying across the pens. But I’ll show you that one again when it’s finished.
I hope everyone has a good creative day!
Jeanne

 

Mandala Dreams update from Jeanne

Hi everyone, I thought I’d sneak a  post in here when Old Jules isn’t looking.

Since I got back from New Mexico last weekend, I’ve been clearing space to draw again so I thought I’d tell you a little more about what I do with these gel pens.

When a drawing is finished, it’s never really finished because I can take original drawings and make hundreds of variations on the computer using Paint Shop Pro 7. The first picture is a really old drawing I did when I was just starting to get serious about it. Soon after it was finished, I was unhappy with it for several reasons. I  hadn’t developed the ability to plan for margins and also lacked the skill for keeping it symmetrical.  (Although it did sell, I never got a good scan of it because of the size. I’ve since learned that Kinko’s has a huge scanner so now I use their services for large drawings. This one is about 12×12 inches.)

But the second version is a favorite that I always enjoy looking at, and I frequently use it for greeting cards. It’s also in the running as a possible variation for fabric.  Same drawing, just tweaked with PS Pro 7.

The originals are always the best for viewing in person because I use a lot of metallic and fluorescent inks which don’t show in a reproduction, but playing with changing colors and shapes  gives me more variety for printed copies and fabric.  I’ve even used the manipulations as starting places for entirely new drawings.

Here’s a mandala that really is special just because of the capability of the particular gel pen I was using. There is a line of Sakura gel pens that actually makes an outline on the edge of the color as it’s drawn across the surface. If you enlarge this piece, you’ll see how much more intricate this becomes.  Although I’m pretty good at fine line drawings, these pens add even more detail. The finished size of this drawing (not the paper)  is about 4 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.
This is  also an old one, but it shows off this added line feature really well.

Since I’m only working one part-time job right now, I have time to draw again, and I’m working on several half-finished pieces. I also have an order for some greeting cards that just need to be assembled since I already have the photo reproductions.  I also intend to get back to those soldered glass pendants since I have a stack of those that I set aside when the soldering started to drive me nuts. I listed three on Etsy last night and will probably put up several more soon: http://www.etsy.co/shop/Mandaladreamer).

Here’s what I was working on this evening:
This one will be fun when it’s finished because all those fluorescent inks glow under a black light.

I also sorted through my entire collection of pens and threw out at least a couple of dozen that didn’t survive not being used frequently last winter, as gel pens  to dry out easily. Here’s what’s left:

Old Jules suggested that I write a post about my recent trip to New Mexico, but since the main thing I came back with was a determination to keep  drawing and work harder at sharing it, I figured I’d post this instead.

~Jeanne (Mandala56)

Worthy of the Displayed Petroglyphs

I don’t know much about art, except knowing what I wouldn’t want to fall on me.  Most artists I’ve known were just doing it for the same reasons I write things down.  They mostly just did it without wondering why.  And I’ve always suspected most of them secretly hoped some piece of it would survive them.

Probably the same is true of the people all over the backassed places who scratched things on rocks or painted pictures a person today often has difficulty understanding.

But sometimes in the heat of the moment those artists pulled off coups leaving no doubt what was being said, why it was being said.  Messages speaking of events in their lives still able to increase the heartbeat of a viewer looking from another world.  Another reality.  Another time.  For instance, of the hundreds of petroglyphs I’ve seen in my life, a couple come to mind that satisfy that description. 

One’s in the desert east of Socorro, New Mexico.  Under a cliff overhang 50, maybe 100 yards long someone a long time ago painted [yeah, I know.  Not a petroglyph per se] a series of scenes of people wearing jockstraps pulling men in armor off horses, beating them to death, stabbing them, generally giving them whatfer. 

I’m only speculating on this, but I’ve always suspected that scene depicts a piece of action took place with scouts or the rear-guard of the Spaniards retreating from New Mexico fleeing the Terrors.  The Revolt of 1690.  The route passed within a few miles of there, some maybe right across it.

The other is in Frijole Canyon a few miles upgrade from Bandera.   Three guys in jockstraps surrounding a bear ten times their size and a dozen times their ugly.  The two on the sides have spears in positions to thrust.  The third is in front of the bear, close, spear broken, bear paw with claws outstretched on the way to adjusting the future to contain one fewer human being.

But I’ve digressed. 

Modern art’s more subtle and a lot of it probably won’t last so long.  To clarify the message, modern artists frequently add words.  Not everyone’s able to just look at a painted likeness of a horney toad and recognize the underlying action, profundity, statement about the human condition represented.

 

A lot of people might, for example, glance at this and assume they’re seeing an automobile with red headlights belonging to some wealthy person, ready to toodle off to the hair dresser or enjoy a $5.00 cup of Latte somewhere.

But the reality is somewhere else entirely.  That steel plate depicts a piece of modern life most folks never get around to acknowledging.  KEEP TEXAS WILD is the only way the artist managed to convey the work has a deeper meaning.

Because what you’re seeing is men in Texas living behind bars, being gang raped by their fellow prisoners.  Being forced to join White Aryan Brotherhood, the Crips, other prison gangs as an alternative to constantly having the crap beaten out of them, being forced to perform oral sex on the competing ethnic group, experiencing growth experiences of the anal sphincter.

You’re seeing prosecuting attorneys increasing their power, their office space, their staffs.  You’re seeing opportunities for advancement to judgeships.  You’re seeing money allocated to new cars, sophisticated weaponry, better copshops. 

You’re seeing legions of defense attorneys wallowing around in money Scrooge McDuck-like, circulating the product through the system.

And you’re seeing corporate America at its best, building and operating private prisons.  Discovering a new product while it was sending all the others outside US borders to be manufactured.  A product able to be used over and over to feed the necessities of the artists:   private hotels for the artists and guards to admire their work.

And a plea to keep Texas wild.   Wild enough to need more of the same.  Wild enough to keep the money rolling in.  Wild enough to keep things interesting while the products enjoy brief interludes outside with the rest of us.

Seems to me overall that’s a pretty decent piece of art.  Even though it’s obviously one of a numbered series.

Old Jules

Mandala Jewelry and a Link

Hello everyone, Jeanne here.  Jules has some ideas for posts that aren’t written yet, and I told him I had a couple already scheduled, including this one about my art work.  So he’ll post again before too long.
Here’s a project I’ve been working on for over a year… learning to make soldered glass jewelry pendants using my drawings. I first had to learn to cut glass and solder, neither of which is my favorite thing to do. I’d rather just draw.

Here are some that are finished. There is a drawing on each side, so they are each reversible.  I’ve had fun wearing these myself and have sold a few.

Next step will be perfecting cutting circles and other shapes, and getting those jump rings on correctly the first time.  Probably will get back to it over the summer when I only work one job instead of two.

Today on Ask Old Jules: Old Jules, how can I make a girl like me more?

Thanks for being here, I appreciate your reading our blog and the comments.  Tomorrow’s post will feature some thoughts about dependency relationships.
Jeanne

 

Cosmic Mandala

Here’s one of my early gel pen drawings. This one sold at the first exhibit I ever had. I hope you enjoy looking at it.
Jeanne

Today on Ask Old Jules: Complimenting  an Older Woman?