Artistic burst of emotion

Emotions. Some people have no problem dealing with them, processing them. Moving on, accepting that they are emotional beings. Me, I admit I struggle a bit. I grew up being called too sensitive and that I needed to stop being so sensitive. I was so young that I didn’t really know what to do with those comments or how to use my sensitivity in a beneficial way.  Or at least to find a cathartic release. That’s what art is turning into, though fear some times inhibits my ability to successfully paint my emotions and ground my emotions into a canvas. But I am working on it. Working on screaming my emotions visually.

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Being free with art

It’s amazing the different approaches I take with art. Digitally I rely on Ctrl+Z and know that nothing is permanent. I can always erase something, do something over, try something and if I don’t like it I can easily change it. I get crazy and try so many different techniques. Basically, I don’t hold back.

Painting has been different though. I have trepidation when painting. I don’t want to be wasteful on canvas and paint so I want the piece to be good. I am constrained and small and tentative. I hesitate because I am afraid to make a mistake that I can’t fix. There is no Ctrl+Z in painting.

I was just working on a painting and someone pointed all this out to me. The painting was small and contained. Tempered by fear, no reflecting my true emotions at all.

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He said there was no overlapping, no integration, no connection of any of the elements. And he was right. I was concerned about all the wrong things: staying in he lines, not wasting paint, trying to make a perfect line. All things that were taking away from the true nature of my self. With digital art I hardly even think about those things and am rarely constrained. So I took a deep breath and started to paint outside of the lines I had made for myself. Moved outside of my own box.

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I started overlapping elements. Tried to be free with my brush. Tried to trust my first instinct. To flow like the water element I am. And at the end, while I was considering the differences between painting and digital art, it occurred to me one of my favorite things to include in my digital art is splatters. Splatters. I kind of chuckled to myself, got some paint on my fingers and tentatively flicked. By the time I was done I understood a bit more Pollocks joy in splattering paint on a canvas.

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Jaded Denver Art Scene

So I went to this Denver Raw: Artist showcase last night and I walked away discouraged. I thought it was going to be a lot cooler. It’s all local artwork shown in a bar downtown. I thought the bar was going to be cooler, I thought  the layout was going to be better, and honestly, I thought the art would be better. And I don’t know if I am being too judgmental here. For example, there was one artist showcased who was a photographer…after talking to him for a couple minutes, he told me that he got into photography b/c he was a traveling trombonist and was seeing such pretty things that he wanted to take pictures and decided to share them. Well, okay. So why do they belong on walls and not in his scrapbook? There was nothing amazing about them, yeah he blurred some areas shaded some others, etc. And I’ve done the exact same things to photos I’ve taken, for example when I took some pregnancy photos of my sister-in-law, I manipulated them and all of that. But I just thought I was trying to do something cool for them and their memories…not art. Not something that should be posted on walls. I mean, he was taking pictures of something that nature produced…taking pictures of something already beautiful…he didn’t make it beautiful, it already was. So I’m discouraged about photography as an art form, especially in that realm, b/c who is the real artist here? The eye behind the camera, or what the camera is being pointed at…Ansel Adams, his photos are superb. Great quality great sharpness, etc…and people appreciate it b/c most of them won’t travel to the places to actually see what he saw…but is that really art? Does turning a nature scene into a black and white image really constitute art? Does having some naked chick dangle from a tree, snapping a photo of it, and calling it Nymph really count?

And then there was a graphic designer there…had a series of three owls. Not great, not complex, not really simple either but nothing that wouldn’t take me 30 minutes to reproduce. And the series just looked like the colors were changed and some lines slightly changed. Really? That’s being showcased? I’m so confused. He had one piece that resembled something artistically designy to me, but it didn’t look complete, and…I don’t know. I wasn’t super impressed. I walk into an album store and see tons of better design work than that…and the design work isn’t what’s being sold (although I am more likely to buy an album if I like the artwork than if I don’t) the music is being sold. How is designing one owl, changing the color so it’s three different owls constitute art? It’s super kitschy, doesn’t require a lot of vision or talent, and seemed insulting to me.

Thank goodness there was a downstairs…or else I would have been severely disappointed in the event. Actually, what I saw down there was equally disappointing, maybe even more so. The first “artist’s” work I saw looked like the art I did when I first started. Faces scribbled on paper in crayon with no real emotion or resemblance or anything but the suggestion of human figures in multitudes of colors. AND, they were hooked, sometimes by rubber bands, to tshirts. I drew a face for an Ani DiFranco album cover I did for design class my sophomore year. Well, a lot of it was terrible versions of that, but with the intention that that was complete. I at least took it into a program to further the idea, and it related to the album. This person just had about 20 faces that looked like were done with their left hand in maybe ten minutes each. W.T.F.F.? I mean seriously?

So those are just three examples. But I left that place pissed off at the Denver art scene. THAT’S what’s being showcased? Are we fools? Do people want culture and art so badly that all that has to be done is for someone to shoot a picture of a fire hydrant and blur the background, or scribble a face out of crayon, put it up in a bar, have some people call it a Denver Raw: Artist showcase and it become art? Do we not care about quality any more? Are we at a stage were everything is art therefore nothing is true art? It’s frustrating for the people who actually have talent. It’s harder for them to succeed and for their art to be appreciated b/c a casual doodle now can be bought for $120. Or is it even worse than that? Do people, because art is such an abstract, seemingly unquantifiable thing, not want to get into the real discussions of what art is and if it is good? Or, perhaps they don’t want to insult the artist. I feel like people flocked their for the culture and assimilated into the notion that what they were seeing was art. And that it was good. And that it was worth being showcased. A marketer called it art, so it was art, and people bowed down. It was pathetic.

And then that brings me to me. (haha, my selfish ass always has to bring it around to me.) How does this judgment, how does this opinion, affect me as an artist. If I think what I am seeing isn’t quality or is uninteresting, what is it about my work that I think people will like or appreciate. Is it even any good? I have always been hesitant to call myself an artist and I think the underlying reason is what I encountered last night. What makes my work better than what I saw? Well, to be honest, my art isn’t scribbles, it has depth and emotion and I think my skills are growing regularly. But that may be because it’s mine. Is my art better to be showcased. Kevin’s is, I think. And I understand that a lot of art is done for personal reasons. It’s cathartic, it’s fun, it can be a great hobby to hone into…but does that mean that just because you do art on the side, shoot a picture, scribble a face, that it is art worthy of showcasing? I don’t think my current art is worthy of showcasing but I think it was better than a lot of what I saw. Because of technology, because of social media and the idea that our generation is confused due to the affects of amalgamating dozens of previous decades, do we have lower quality expectations? Are we so sensitive and politically correct that we can’t tell someone, yeah, that’s a great personal art piece, but it’s not really showcasing worthy? I feel so confused and jaded right now about art. I don’t want to be. And maybe it’s more about the Denver art scene then art in and of itself. But I’m discouraged. I’ll continue creating my own art, b/c I do believe it provides me a channel for my emotions and for something for my mind to focus on, but I have shut down my facebook, twitter and feel stupid about even having a website and blog (although the website is more for career portfolio purposes.)  I once was twitterpated, and now I’m jaded. Makes me sad.

It was a negative experience. But is it my perspective that made it negative? Am I a reject of past zeitgeist and can’t accept the current trends of my mercurial times?

leviathan Graphic Art

I’ve been experimenting with digital art, trying to “paint” in photoshop and whatnot. Below is my current piece. It’s a work in progress, but I thought I would throw it out there anyway, just to see what people think of the direction. My current thoughts are that it may be a bit too surreal. But I’m not sure if that is a bad thing yet. I mean, it’s a mythical creature so I’m certainly not going for photo realism here. But maybe the colors are a bit too vibrant and need to be toned down just a bit. Oh, and I didn’t draw it. Kevin Mino did. You can find more of his work here. Any thoughts on this piece?

 

Digital Art: Leviathan

An artistic ramble

The need for art drives some. So much that their social  lives begin to suffer because they are drawn to the canvas. The canvas is perhaps more truthful than society for some and for others it’s silence is welcome. For some the canvas reflects and speaks wonders to what is going on inside, it is a mirror of the soul. For others, it allows them to express themselves without rebuttal. For others it’s a cathartic coping method. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve been diving deep into my art lately. Trying to bottle up my emotions in my shell so I am not constantly bleeding with them. And I am trying to let that sadness, that vulnerability, that fear out onto the canvas. What’s been interesting is that I told myself on Friday night that I was done with that particular piece I had started. It’s a piece just for me. I am creating it just for me. probably won’t even show anyone I know the piece. Maybe just post it here and about the process on my blog, since no one I know reads it anyway, if anyone at all. Tangent. Apologies. Point is I keep finding myself coming back to that piece from Friday night. It’s so much a piece of what I have been feeling for years that I want to keep working on it. Keep progressing it to the next and better stage. I have found that driving force of art that keeps you a recluse. That keeps you up until 3:00 working on it. Wanting to call in sick from work so you can sit at your table/easel/art space and work on it. It’s exciting to be here. I feel myself, my mind, leave and my  hand just keep working. I’m barely looking at what I am doing. Though that means there is most likely to be inconsistencies and inaccuracies, but I feel as if it is what the divine wants my hand to be doing. Like I am finally learning how to channel that energy through me and act as a conduit.

I’m scared and nervous and what the outcome will be. I already tried to give up on it on Friday. But that’s my MO…my modus operandi…Quit before something is complete, so if it isn’t any good I can say I didn’t spend a lot of time on it. I’m spending a lot more time than I thought I would on this current piece. And it’s such a sad piece. But I’m trying to make it beautiful. I hope I succeed.

Denver Music Scene

Denver is a place of the outdoors. People think of hiking, mountain biking, river rafting, skiing/boarding  and Denver Cruisers on Wednesday nights.  What people may not think of, is the Denver local music scene. Yes, we’ve had acts like 3oh3!, Flobots, the Fray and the Velvet Acid Christ come out of Denver, but their talent wasn’t really known throughout the town until post-success. It’s an interesting phenomenon when you consider how many local bands there are. There are a couple of contests out there that attract a bit of attention, for example The Best Band in Denver or the Metal Wars…but where are those winners now? Same place they were prior to winning of course.

Velvet Acid Christ
Velvet Acid Christ of Denver...did you know?

Take a band like Gritt Hitter, for example. They’ve been around for nearly five years. Yes, they have undergone many line-up changes in an attempt to find the perfect fit and the perfect sound and the perfect business partners.

Gritt Hitter circa 2009-2010

 

The thing that has been consistent though, is how much they rock the crowd when they play. The hard rock, Sabbathy riffs with Iron Maiden heaviness beats for the hearts of the listeners. You can see the transformation take place in them when Gritt starts to play. Their bodies start to move to the beats and suddenly they are caught in the Gritt Hitter spell. When space allows, a pit inevitably begins and the inner aggression of those involved is cathartically released.  And their minds, whether they actually hear all the words or not, know they are in the presence of lyrical genius. There’s something about hearing the words, “Nothing circles a slave like sacrifice” that doesn’t ring true and brilliant in your head.

Gritt Hitter EP Release album artwork

But why is their fan base still lacking and still the same supporters from the beginning. Everybody loves the dirty sound of Gritt Hitter. It brings them back to their carnal being. Why are they not showing up and bringing their friends?

 

I’ve heard the excuse of, “Sorry I didn’t make it to the show. It was cold outside.” You live in Denver, it does get cold here. Prepare yourself. That isn’t an excuse.  “Sorry man, went for a hike with my girlfriend and dog.” Really? A day activity prevented you from coming to a night activity?

 

I think perhaps Denver is lacking in musical support as a whole. And yes, it very well could be because Denver is still such a young city. We now have the First Friday art walk on Sante Fe, but I think that’s more because we are in an age of emerging artists. Few want to be bankers and business majors. They want the freedom of art. But we are missing out on the freedom of music here. The race of adrenal when a song pumps us up, when the lyrics speak our hearts and the energy of the band, music and crowd pulsates through us. I don’t know. Maybe technology is to blame. Few buy full albums anymore. Now it’s a go to iTunes, download the song you heard and call it good. I think Denver needs to get behind the other type of artist in their town. The painter isn’t the only artist. The Musician will serenade you. It’s time to support the songs of Denver. It is the musicians gift, and it’s for you.

 

 

Trying Tuesday: Musical Graphic Image

I am playing around with this image currently of the guitar player in Gritt Hitter. I like the colors, the textures and the words…not sure if it is completely cohesive yet. Thoughts?

Arch of Gritt Hitter

 

So I changed up the image a bit: lightened up the background changed the color of some of the words…Here’s the new image:

Arch of Gritt Hitter

Metal Album Monday 05/16/11

I just love album artwork. Entering into the digital age, it has both enhanced and hurt the album. Enhanced because now artists can turn to technology and turn great pieces out in a more timely manner than waiting for their oil piece to dry and hurt because anybody with Adobe now is producing album covers. Not too mention that few people buy albums any more. But at any rate: here are today’s choices:

Samael album cover
Samael album cover
God Forbid album cover
God Forbid album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover
Sepultura album cover
Sepultura album cover

 

 

Metal album artwork Monday

It’s Monday and time to share a few albums that to me have amazing artwork. And the following paragraphs are simply my own personal interpretations of the pieces, an apperceptive soliloquy if you will. They have no bearing on the band or the artist, just me as a fan and appreciator of beautiful things and good music.

 

Morbid Angel: Illud Divinum Insanus
Artwork by Gustavo Sazes

The title suggests insanity. The reds and yellows of the image suggest something primal and necessary for survival. In yogic terms, they refer to the first two chakras that represent basic survival and creativity/sexuality. One may assume that it’s the need for a self-identity, a self-awareness of a sane individual. Most of us struggle at one point in time about who we are, what defines us…and faith/belief/religion/spirituality is included in that. But perhaps this imagery is even larger than the self, and may be of a divine insane. The iconic imagery of the pentagram on the (3) hands and the waxing Pagan moon at the center suggest something more religious. The face is masked and perhaps it’s a mask of ignorance, or denial. Or even confusion. Tyler Durden of Fight Club and Achilles of Troy suggest that the gods are jealous of humans. That each moment for us is special, because it could be our last. Because we can do things they can’t…fuck, for example. Maybe this mirrors humanities confusion on the face of the divine. We don’t know what the divine actually looks like, and so it is masked. But the downward turn of the head suggests a reverence perhaps, or perhaps a wonder at human hands and the possibilities. The artist does a fantastic job bringing together all of these ideas and with precision fuses the elements together to present us with an interesting piece that can be looked out for hours.

Morbid Angel's album cover
Morbid Angel's album cover

Dissection: Maha Kali
Artwork by “unsure”

I can’t seem to find who originated this artwork and for this I apologize. If you happen to know, please comment and I will give appropriate credit. This album has only two songs and is associated with Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with eternal energy. Kali means “the black one” and is she who destroys, hence the skulls. She was the killer of demons, a fierce feminine force, bathed in blood red. This is a quality representation of her and is a reminder of the balance of energies…that females can also be strong and dominating. The artist does a great job capturing the energy and force behind Kali, and doesn’t seem afraid to exploit her demonic side. And for Dissection to embody her on this album: sic.

Dissection album cover
Dissection album cover

Enthroned: Pentagrammation
Artwork done by Nornagest & Neraath (of Enthroned)

A seemingly ghostly existence in a humble prayer pose. An anonymous individual on their knees. Blind Faith? A dying religious belief? The fading colors and feathery bleeds of the individual are tombstone in quality. I get the feeling of a quiet reserve praying to an unknown. Circles encompass the background, big and small, maybe they’re just images, maybe they denote the circuitous nature of existence. Birth. Life. Death. Birth. Life. Death. The kneeling figure is clearly highlighted and the focus of it, at the middle of the pentagram.  To the Sumerian’s, the pentagram may have meant pitfall and to the Babylonian’s may have had astrological meanings. Pythagoreans saw the pentagram as a mathematical perfect and Chinese Wu Xing saw it as representing the five elements. In the context of Enthroned, perhaps it means them all, and that they all encompass humanity. The idea and image is haunting. The artistic execution of the piece is great. The merging of the human image with the background is seamless and the color blends well. I appreciate the implied vignette as well. It compliments the circles and reinforces the focus on the praying, veiled, human.

Enthroned album cover
Enthroned album cover

Dimmu Borgir: Abrahadabra
Artwork by Joachim Luetke

“I will create as I speak” ~ Aleister Crowley. This is an intriguing merge of Crowley and H.P. Lovecraft. Bleak and post-industrial, the hollowed eyes and mouth suggest the unseeing and the unheard. Perhaps we are gods robots, set blindly on this earth to function without direction and without support. Being watched with indifference until our world explodes. The industrial nature eradicates the organic and replaces it with the mechanical, maybe we are becoming our own Frankensteins. Blue is the throat Chakra in yogic philosophy. The chakra of expression. The stillness and futile nature of the mouth makes me believe that we are unheard, silenced, perhaps from a religious or political standpoint. The artist does a great job of blending a variety of elements together, and the details of this piece make it a great success.

Dimmu Borgir album cover
Dimmu Borgir album cover

These are just a few that I love. Check back next Monday for the next Metal-album artwork Monday!