Archive for February, 2010

Vincent van Gogh probably would have appreciated today’s “grunge” look. Teens carefully contrive to look cool and casual, by actively choosing garments such as stonewashed jeans and cutoffs, with exposed seams and ragged edges… The style even has a name, “shabby chic”. Ironically, mimicking the authenticity of bumhood, can cost just as much as a pristine wardrobe.

Van Gogh’s journals and letters reveal that his family was concerned about his appearance and how “shabby” were his clothes at the time. But he cared more about the art than the outward signs of success. In fact he thought it ironic himself, and explained,

This is the way I expressed myself to Father. I noticed that people talked about the strange and unaccountable fact that I was so hard up, although I belonged to such and such a family. I replied that I thought it was only temporary, and would come right after a time….What you say is true, financial questions have either advanced or handicapped many people in the world. It is so, and Bernard Palissy’s saying remains true, “Poverty prevents the good spirits from arriving.”

Poor Van Gogh, content to wear, “two workmen’s suits of rough black velvet, of that material known as veloutine. It looks well, and one can wear it everywhere…”

Apparently Van gogh’s parents were somewhat concerned, enough to ask his brother Theo in a note,

We have improved his appearance a little bit with the help of the best tailor from Breda. Would you be so kind as to do another work of mercy and have his chevelure metamorphosed by a clever hairdresser – here in Etten we don’t have such people. I suppose a barber of The Hague might be able to do something about it, therefore try to coax him into coming with you to one.


As they say, clothes make the man. Everyone could benefit from having their “chevelure metamorphosed by a clever hairdresser”, lol… What could Vincent van Gogh achieved if he had been dressed in Ives St. Laurent…? Vincent’s journals are worth a look.

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Digital Cameras Review offers these suggestions for photography buffs with images to adjust, who aren’t using more expensive apps like Adobe Photoshop CS4 (which is about $699 for the full suite). Although the first editor they mention is PS Elements 8, which is simply the scaled down version of CS4, isolated to photo image editing and not video or graphics….

One of the best reviews falls to the GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) in its current version 2.6.6

of all the image editing programs I’ve used, including commercial software, GIMP is the closest to replacing Photoshop. It has a huge range of superbly implemented tools, with full control over shape, texture and transparency provided in comprehensive tool options menus. It is the only one of the free programs to offer the massively useful Quick Mask feature, where selections can be made using painting and drawing tools. It also offers a huge range of filters and special effects, and like all the best open source programs it has a big library of third-party content available online.

Something to check out. I’m coming from Photoshop 4 so it might actually be an improvement!

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Came across this directory listing for illustrators: Directory of Illustration.com .

One of the featured artists in the Illustrator’s Guide: Matthew Hollings. I love the freehand stylization and splashed color which expands the boundaries of the art on the page. In my comparison of graphic and fine art earlier, this does have elements of fine art. The portraits are hand drawn, and emotionally edited to reveal character. They are fine art graphics.

As an example of someone who is less a fine artist but excellent illustrator of narrative, Lynne Avril , who has won several awards for work with children’s stories. Which shows the differing skill levels at which artists may produce and maintain functional careers in art.

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is “pop art” Art?

To me, it is the creator or originator of an idea who has done the work; reprooductions of an artistic ‘style’ are not the equivalent of the idea.

There is a distinction there, because so much of the methodology of today’s art is reproducible through software applications or mechanical means, especially in the world of graphics.

Stylizing one’s work to be representational of a trend may be functionally appropriate, and useful in mass reproduction, in fields of design and decoration and illustration. It is the origin of the terms “popular” “trendy” and “fashionable” to take on a particular form. However, it’s not the same thing as “art”, in my book. It may be “artistic” and “graphic.” But not “fine”…

For example, Daniel Mena is a graphics artist who has incorporated the feeling of Andy Warhol’s “pop” in his representations. We have the cut-out print designs, the stylization, all reproducible graphic iconography….Yet I discern to real “meaningful” quality to his body of work. He’s got the technique, and run with it. But that is not the same as Warhol’s original experimentation, built up through a foundation of a career as an illustrator. It incorporates elements of Warhol’s styling, but not his meaning.

Whereas the work of another artist, Inka Essenhigh, may have the stylized form of a Dr. Seuss cartoon, she creates images of individuality imbued with symbolic references, worven together to yield narrative that is highly meaningful to the careful observer. There is no such meaning found in pop art, which is merely a stylish shell.

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Sticks and Stones..

“There is a sleeping tiger within each of us; gently awakened, it is eager to seize the day.”
~Laurie “Tiger” Desjardins

Zen sticks are short rods of wood, about one foot long. (Attached to each other with chains, they might resemble num-chucks.) They are carved out of beautiful tropical woods, each of them designated for a certain portion of the chakras. And what do you do with them? When stressed, you pick your favorite, and flip it in your hand (like num-chucks) in a continuous motion, observing, watching, focusing, until the object of your stress has relief.

Perhaps more pertinent from a psychological point of view, are the charts listed here, which identify 300 emotions and a color wheel of feelings. Here, with words, you can pinpoint what is bothering you. And then, according to the author, choose a positive emotion on the opposite side of the wheel to counter the negative one.

Once you’ve found the pleasant emotion to counter the difficult one, you can begin thinking of things to do that will create that pleasant emotion within yourself. For example, the opposite of Inferior is Amused. You might ask yourself, “What would amuse me right now? What would make me laugh?” All there is left to do is to make a list of those things that would make you laugh. Chances are by making a list, you’ll start to feel better, but it’s important to go and do something on that list.

All the while, you are flipping the wood samples meditatively. I think they’d also be interesting, rolled up and down the back, for a massage. At least you aren’t using the rods, like num-chucks to beat on your opponent…lol.

Although the grain in the tropical woods, such as rosewood, purpleheart, and zebrawood, is beautiful, you have to wonder if good old oak or pine might serve the same purpose. But we shouldn’t let guilt over the depletion of the rainforest disturb one’s meditative practices which use pieces of it, should we?

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Between Disney and Dali

Today I discovered the work of Inka Essenhigh, a fine artist whose work encompasses elements of Salvador Dali, Dr. Seuss, Japanese woodblock prints, and fractals, in its design.

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