My annual Holiday Letter!
If the amount of ads landing in my mailbox and the hours of tinny music wafting in the air is any indication, the Great Day of Gift Giving is nearly upon us.
Some of you are behind the eight ball. You’ve postponed your shopping safari for the creative individual in your life and now your heart pitter-pats when you realize you have no idea what to do. Monster storms are bearing down bringing feet of precipitation in its worst forms, all of which will land on your doorstep.
Take a deep breath, I’m here to help.
The following is my handy dandy idea list for those of you who have loved ones who construct, discover and imagine.
(Sadly for you, Handsome Husband is already taken. He’s one of a kind and he’s mine, sorry ‘bout that.)
Otherwise, consider offering -
A quiet space to work. It doesn’t have to have 12 foot ceilings or skylights or north windows - although that would be really awesome. A space all one’s own, even if it's just a comfy chair and a card table, is important.
Acceptance. Of them, of their field, of their output. Of their clutter, their staring while you talk, of their frustrations. And of that chair and card table piled high or piled under.
Time. Time to ponder, time to wonder, time to put down in whatever medium they choose the results of that wondering and pondering. Time to grow.
A self-cleaning work space. (Oooh, I wanna get me one o’ those.) In that same vein, self-cleaning brushes, pottery wheels, pastels, etc etc.
An ear. No, not like Van Gogh. I was thinking more in terms of listening. We creative types need to vent, mostly in a way that lets the fears and frustrations and delights and victories and annoyances out. Even when you have no idea what we’re talking about. Notice I didn’t add ‘advice’ to that. Ears open, mouth shut. To help you out with this, toss in a few open-ended questions. Something like; how do you feel about that? Tell me about…, or how does that..?.
Exhibits. Go! Spend time looking with your sweetie. Use a few of those open ended-questions to find out what they find interesting.
Support. Every now and then say something like, “You can do it” or “you’ll get there”, or the holy grail of support – “I believe in you”. No need to grab your pom-poms and jump around.
Pick one, two, or all of the above. Wrap them in ribbons and a hug. You're welcome.
Today I’m pushing back.
You may have noticed that I keep things pretty light here. It’s not that I don’t have powerful feelings or strong opinions. However, I hesitate to add my voice to the raging judgement factory that is the internet these days. Our measure of angst has been met for the year.
Recently an article was published that tripped my trigger. Three weeks later my trigger is still quivering with indignation.
The issue was how, or even whether to purchase art as a gift for someone. It’s a sticky wicket isn’t it? Collecting art is so very personal. Each patron has their own attitudes about what has value and what doesn’t. I myself enjoy collecting original pieces from artists I know. There’s something really lovely about holding a turned piece by Harold Adams or enjoying a Nicole Gustafsson illustration. A friend loves her entire collection of stuff from the Thomas Kinkade machine. We’ve agreed to get along despite our differences.
Trigger Number One: The author’s conclusion? Because buying something original for a loved one is hard, a museum membership is a better choice. Awful advice on two counts.
Count 1. Any artist I know would be delighted to help you make a choice, create a gift certificate, do damned near anything to get their artwork into someone’s home. The hard working creators I’m familiar with would bend over backward to help you out. Why not give them a chance to do so?
Count 2. A membership to a museum is a fine idea as far as it goes. But it’s a little like a gift card to a big box store. You’re saying, “I couldn’t think of a thing, and you wouldn’t like it anyway. Plus, I’ll never know if you actually use the card, or just scrape your windshield with it. Either way is fine by me”. It’s the (lack of) thought that counts.
And Count 2a – Museums are doing fiiiiiine. With complete respect for any and every art museum in the entire universe, your little donation isn’t going to do much to keep their doors open. It may, however, keep that artist going back to the drawing board.
Trigger Number Two: The author’s conclusion that lovely art isn’t “real” art. Decorative paintings are simply boring, and balanced ceramics are blah. Hm. He would have us believe that our walls should be hung with stimulating (yes), thought provoking (okay), and irritating (huh?) art. His list of artists that we love to hate would include those whose work reflects our capitalist cynical culture, accentuates the awful, stresses the miserable.
Really? Claude, Leonardo, , Mary and Joaquin are only a short list of those who would raise their eyebrows to that. In fact, there would be such an eyebrow raising that hairlines the world over would lift from their moorings.
Dear reader, it’s okay if the artwork you choose does not make you miserable. It’s fine if your new art piece matches your couch. Or your recliner. Or even your curtains. And if it doesn’t match any of those things, that’s okay too. You’re the one who gets to live with it. Positive emotional engagement does not make you a hick.
Before Santa loads his sleigh with membership cards and generic gift certificates, put in a little effort and contact an artist you know. Have a chat and let them know what you’d like. Give them a chance.
Let them bend over backward to make you, and your friends, happy.
After seeing all the wonderful "How-to's" offered online lately, I thought I'd join in by adding my very own "Scarborough's Super Easy Steps to Painting Great Art!"
Today's lesson will be "How to Start a Painting":
Important first steps: think about what you want to do. Then think some more. Then re-think what you thought in the first place.
Now that you've got that settled, it's a good time to cogitate, nap, or stare into space.
At this point it's often helpful to think about mowing the yard, or consider a change in career.
The next 18,7420 or so steps call for mixing paint, choosing brushes, putting paint to canvas, scraping paint off the canvas, and doing some more thinking. Repeat as often as necessary to complete the painting.
How hard can it be?
Or...contact an artist you know, and purchase something lovely from them. They know what they're doing.
Throughout history the color black has had its ups and downs.
Most recently it has meant incredible discounts on everything from soup to nuts, cars to clothes on the day after Thanksgiving. Before Madison Avenue and their accountants got a hold of black to keep our economy going, it was very useful in the art world.
The very first black marks were made on cave walls. Presumably, once the marshmallows were cleaned off, cave dwelling kids found they could continue to use their sticks for decorating their rooms.
Since those pre-historic days black pigment has been made from burnt sticks, roots, grapevines, bones, oily smoke residue, and more recently iron oxides or other synthetic materials.
Throughout the centuries the use of black in art or fashion has meant wealth or poverty; tradition or the very latest fashion; evil or piety; silence or harmony. Sometimes all of these things at once. And just last year, artist Anish Kapoor nabbed the exclusive artistic rights to the new Vantablack which absorbs nearly all light. So I guess we can add ‘grabby’ to the list of meanings as well.
Whether it is even a color at all rises to the level of debate. Physicists and colorists engage in lengthy conversations regarding the properties of black.
What’s a color to do?
Relax. Black Friday comes but once a year. The other 360-some days it can stay in the community of painters and sculptors. We know what to do with it.
Handsome Husband and I are discombobulated. It’s time to be hungry, but we’re not. We feel slightly undone, waiting for something to happen that may – or may not, because the time isn’t quite right. Should we go yet, or are we late before we’ve even gotten started?
Daylight savings time. What on earth does that even mean?
Do we save time like we save money? Is there a Time Bank somewhere I’m unaware of? I’d like to make a withdrawal please. I could use just a few more minutes.
Maybe time is saved it in a bottle, stoppered up and tossed into the ocean to be washed up on shore in another time zone. Is that what causes time to warp, as the recipient squeezes our time into theirs? Or does the time get put into some cosmic junk drawer along with black holes, rubber bands and inkless pens? In six months or so, say, in March sometime, planetary time keepers will go spring cleaning, digging deep into the wonders kept in that drawer. “Oooh!” they’ll say. “We’ve been looking for this!”
Whatever the time, the lights in my studio are on. My time is saved and spent there.
It's been tough lately. The sky has been gorgeously blue, the sun brilliant, the shadows cool and violet-y. How's a girl supposed to get anything done inside when it's outside she needs to be?
To keep just a little of this lovely autumn atmosphere during the winter months, I've done my best to harness it in pastel.
And now I'm headed out to kick some leaves.
Today’s post is a re-do, updated from a piece written in the early days of this blog. It made sense then, and makes just as much sense now.
I’ve been in conversation with lots of people lately who are having a hard time getting started. Seems like there’s always something getting in the way.
I'd like to suggest that instead of waiting for a bolt of lightning, inspiration or some apparition of a green light; rather than waiting for laundry to get done, for dinner to heat, the kids to grow up, you just ... start.
(I have no idea if the punctuation in that sentence is correct. I could have researched punctuation or called a local punctuation expert, but that seemed somewhat contrary to the point of this post.)
Be like Nike and Just Do It.
Most courses can be corrected if you decide what you’ve started on is not working well. Unless you’re sky diving of course.
Like swimming across a lake, it doesn't hurt to pause occasionally, look up and consider where you are. If you’re heading in the wrong direction, make the adjustment. If you feel good about your progress, the short time you spend in consideration won't hurt anything.
To further the watery metaphor, consider taking action in the same way one dives off a diving board. Get into position. Check to see there’s water in the pool. Plan your steps (there's only room for a couple of them) take a breath and ... go.
It's part consideration, part preparation, a little practice and dash of daredevil.
There’s a flip side to this issue though.
Maybe you jump in too quickly. It's called being bizzy. When you're being bizzy dashing about multi-tasking, folding dinner while cooking laundry and then buzzing about your bizziness, what are you not committing to? What are you not starting?
For quite some time I’ve had ideas I’d like to explore. What am I waiting for?
What are you waiting for?
I'm gonna build me a boat.
My favorite piece from the exhibit, a sweet boat supported by delicate oars. Huge apologies for the awful pix, a lovelier version is here, on the Outside The Box website.
I had the absolute pleasure of travelling to Columbus Ohio last week to hang out with a Fine Young Man for a few days.
We took advantage of really lovely autumn weather to spend time at outdoorsy places, the first being the Franklin Park Botanical Gardens.
To be honest, the Franklin Park Botanical Gardens were on my list because during the summer they open a butterfly pavilion, and I’m a nut for butterflies. Unfortunately for me it was far too late in the season for butterflies – but not too late for flying geese, galloping horses, rabbits and doves caught in an updraft of awe.
Galloping origami horses cast in aluminum, 3 to 5 feet tall, dashing through the gardens.
The Gardens were inhabited by astonishing creations made by Kevin Box, in collaboration with his wife Jennifer and world-renowned origami artists Robert J. Lang, Te Jui Fu, Michael G. LaFosse and Richard L. Alexander.
Box unites a love for folded paper with metal casting skills and a passion for public art. Of course, the origami of my childhood came to mind; fist sized, crudely folded construction paper "frogs" or "birds". At least that's what we were told. I rumpled a lot of rocks. Never did I imagine paper could be flexed and pleated into such marvelous shapes.
And then – boom! – cast aluminum?! My eyebrows shot up and my chin dropped. These delicately creased pieces had been formed from paper, then, using the lost wax casting method, reborn into metal – delicately nuanced, permanently folded aluminum. Exquisite.
Again, a horrible picture. Honestly, go to Out of the Box Studio and take a look. It's just a m a z i n g.
Ever since, I've been drifting back to fourth grade, wondering if I could stir memories of the folds and creases needed to build my own origami figure. I'm starting with something simple.
I built me a boat. Probably next I'll make a hat. Or a "frog".
Firstly, thanks for playing along with me regarding my last post, I'm so Blue. Some of you are really quick witted.
As for today's post -
“You’re not the boss of me!”
I can’t say that. I am the boss of me.
Being my own boss means I have to be strict, gentle, prodding, serious, hopeful, guiding, fair, kind patient and stern. Sometimes all in the same day. Sometimes all at once.
To celebrate National Bosses Day on Monday, October 17th, I’m giving myself flowers.
2016 ©Patricia Scarborough Fresh Cut 14x18 pastel
Being a do-it-yourself-er, I made my own.
To those of you who guide yourselves, or others, kindly and thoughtfully, celebrate yourselves!
The original dollop of paint would not have filled a dried out pea shell. Really, it was just a few molecules laid out to help control an intense blue I was preparing to use.
Somehow I managed to get every single miniscule dot , plus a few more, into my palm. (What is equally amazing is that I took time to actually photograph this – left handed no less.)
In a few short moments, that tiny smidgeon turned into a sanguine smear of Shakespearean proportion. My palm, 2 brushes and a palette knife were caught up in the scuffle. A smear found its way onto my thigh. It took a roll of paper towels to staunch the flow.
Oh, the painting? It's quite well, thank you very much.
2016 Benediciton 36x48 oil
Do me a favor, would you? I'm conducting an experiment. If you've actually read the entire post, please respond on the FB feed by using the word "blue" in your remarks. Like, "Wow, all that red is making me blue!" Or, "You really blue it!" Let's have a little fun, shall we?
I've been sharing the odds and ends of my art life for the last 8 years.