Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bloglovin' Blog Claiming Shenanigans

A little envelope I made for a friend. 

To claim your blog on Bloglovin' you have to paste a little piece of code like this one:

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

That's not much of a post, so if you don't mind. scroll on down and see something more interesting. 

Using Literary Genres in Thematic Writing about Art

This piece was done as part of a biographical study. The image is based on a detail found in a painting of Marie de Rabutin-Chantal the Marquise de Sevigne.

Another way to approach writing about your art is to address the themes you deal with. Frankly, this aspect is more difficult for me. This is where I have trouble setting limits.  

Scanning instagram I see that there are people who make art about social issues, family, humor, lampooning, and meta art making - making art about art. 

I’m going to borrow the genres of literature as a springboard for thinking about themes. Think about the genre and how it may apply to you. It may not apply to your body of work, but feel free to use it when writing descriptions for individual pieces. 


Adventure - this genre features people who, willingly or not, face extreme physical challenges that often are life or death deciding. Does your art inspire daring?

Fable - a tale which ends in a moral often involving talking animals. Does your art tell a story that is meant to impart a message? Is there a way in which you use the fable model in your artwork?

Fairy tale - Fairytales and folklore are close cousins. Fairytales are based in Europe, have royalty, a magical creature or thing, a problem and a magical solution. Many have a happy ending. Does this describe your art? Your take on life? What you want to portray to the world? 

Fantasy - The genre of fantasy covers anything from unicorns to talking bears. Imagine how this might apply to your work. Whimsical is a word that works well along with this genre. 

Folklore - This type of tale is one that is a traditional tale, passed down by word of mouth, and is commonly known among people. 

Historical fiction - deals with events of the past. It is storytelling that uses the framework of a particular historical period to inform the whole. Love vintage? Telling stories with vintage materials? Could this be your genre? 

Horror - Too scary for me, but perhaps you like being terrified and having your hair stand on end.  Does your work deal with the seedy, horrific or pathological? I hope not, but if so this might be your genre. Or you might just be creating political satire. 

Humor - Everything from joke books to hilarious memoir this genre sees the light side to events. Quirky, erudite, clever or restrained this genre brings a smile to your face. Does your artwork do that? Do you do satire? Play on words? See the funny side of things? Does the irony of a situation make you burst into giggles? This might be a genre for you. 

Mystery - this can be crime and grit or Agatha Christie, but it could also encompass the unsolved mysteries of the world or the things that seem out of our control. 

Poetry - uses rhyming, text structure, or other constructs to create an emotional response to the world. Does that sound familiar to you? 

Realistic fiction - This is the genre that could be things that have happened, but they haven’t. They were made up. I’ll bet a lot of us could use this genre to describe at least some of our work. 

Romance - need I say more?

Science fiction - this genre uses applies possible scientific theory to storytelling. This seems like a genre rife for collage artists, among others. 

Sports stories - Does your work revolve around sports? This might be for you. 

Tall Tale - These tales often start with a grain of truth, but the story takes on a life of it’s own. The fisherman who catches a 6 inch fish that turns into a 3 foot long devil of a fish with horns. Does your work stretch the boundaries of reality? This might be a hint for you. 


Biography/Autobiography/ Memoir - a recounting of the events of a person’s life experience. While most art can be said to be biographical to some extent, some falls clearly in the realm of memoir. Make use of the construct when talking about your art. 

Drama - all the world’s a stage. This genre is all about what to do on that stage. Standing front and center. Claim it.

Essay - is meant to put forth an opinion and sway the reader to adopt this point of view. Perhaps your artwork is a visual essay. 

What do you think? Can any of these genres help you frame your artwork? Can they inspire vocabulary to use when describing your work? 

If you feel that this is helpful and would like to see a post with lists of words typically associated with these genres leave a comment to let me know. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Fear of Commitment in Writing about Your Art

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.

As I look through artists’ statements, look at their websites and Instagram feeds, I notice that professional artists specialize. Strong writers are specific and let you know exactly what you are going to get from them. Those of us who are late to the party, those of us who are heeding our artist’s calling later in life after doing other things, those of us who want it all, well, we have a hard time being that specific.

Let’s face it, we see specificity as limiting. We don’t want to be put into boxes. We want to be free to create whatever we want to with no holds barred. Listen, we’ve put our art on hold for more practical matters, art has been the joy in our lives. We don’t want to put a damper on it or demand things from it. It might stop being fun. 

But limits can be freeing. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
Limits allow us to say no to things. Limits allow us to focus. Self-imposed limits are wonderful because we can use them as our road map, but when it’s time to change direction, we can. Maybe you still want to make many things. Maybe you want to create as the spirit moves you. That’s great, but what do all the things you create have in common? What is your common thread?

The artist’s statement can and actually should, be revisited, reviewed and rehashed from time to time. Yes, we evolve and grow as artists. No, we are not going to remain static unchanging, art machines. Change is inevitable. So allow yourself to commit, for now, to focus. Or at least find some commonality that brings a sense of cohesiveness to your work. 

Shoup, Lynda Diane. Work in Progress. 2017, Private Collection of the Artist.
What is your reaction to these ponderings? Have you found this to be true? 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Writing the Artist Statement - beginning

Writing the Artists Statement: Reealing the True Spirit of Your Work by Ariane Goodwin is the guide I have started using to write my statement. 

Several years ago I stumbled across Ariane Goodwin’s book Writing the Artist Statement. I checked it out of the library, renewed it and, truth be told, I checked it out again. Her approach to the task is fresh, illuminating and reflective. So naturally, when I started thinking about writing about my artwork my thoughts returned to her method, her insight. 

I turned to the internet to see if I could get my hands on a copy. It's time I have a copy of my own. Score! There are copies to be had. In fact, the copy I got was brand-spanking new.

You can get a peek at the book at her website, the SmARTist Career Blog.

Disclaimer - I am not affiliated with her. Just a fan.

So begin my adventures in writing an artist statement. 

Initially, I began with confidence. I am relatively intelligent. I write well. I felt confident that I could write about my work. Sound familiar? 

Then I started. I had no idea where to start. Somehow writing that my favorite color is pink didn't seem to be all that impressive. Worse yet, what are the unifying elements of my work? Well, mastering a technique with paint took time and practice. Why should I expect talking about it to take any less time?

For me, and I suspect for most artists who have followed a meandering path to their art, thinking of our body of work as a cohesive unit is a new concept. A new way of thinking.While I think this book is helpful to anyone writing an artist statement, those of us who came stumbling toward this vocation, those of us without a guide, without a mentor and without a team of established artists guiding us to the fruition of our dreams, this book is more than about getting the statement required for a show, a sale or a publication written. The method helps connect us with our work in a more meaningful way. 

If you are in a hurry and need to get that statement written and on its way by the end of the day, there are plenty of sources out there to outline the minimum requirements for the statement. If you want to shine, and why wouldn’t you, taking the time to make this connection to your work is worthwhile. It’s not just about the statement. It’s also a way to go deeper into your relationship with your artistic self. 

My big take away? So far the most astounding thing I have gotten working through the book is the complete shift I had from focusing on the themes of my pieces to the actual concept behind them. There is a more elemental level concept at play than I had originally identified.

While I highly recommend this book, I am also looking at others that may be easier for people in other locations to get their hands on. Stay tuned. 

4th post in series Writing About Your Art

Monday, July 10, 2017

Documenting Artwork and Inventory Links

Post number four in this series. 

Learning about documenting artwork and applying what I learn to my own art continues. As I move forward with this it seems to me that providing links to the articles I find most helpful and reflecting upon that will be more helpful to others than me reinventing the wheel. It is also apparent that this series is better spaced out further. (The actual documentation takes time. More time than one would think.) So from here on out the Documenting Your Artwork series will post on the first Monday of the month. The Writing About Your Art series will remain the same.

Today's great find is GYST (Get Your Sh*t Together), a wonderful resource for artists about the business of art. While there are plenty of fine articles, the two that stand out as most pertinent for documenting your artwork are:



Artwork Inventory

The Documentation article has plenty of good information about the visual documenting of artwork. This is particularly helpful to those who are planning to apply for publication, exhibitions, etc. I found the additional tips section had plenty to think about.

As a mixed media artist, I took note that labeling my work simply as mixed media is not very helpful for documenting purposes.

My big take away?

Document very soon after creating your piece. My latest piece includes a strip of plastic that came from the soba noodles I cooked for dinner one night, but it looks like washi tape. The likelihood that I will remember that in years to come is... questionable. The piece I finished the day before yesterday is still fresh enough in my memory that I can jot down the full list of materials.

Here's a picture of a fraction of the items I might use in a piece:
A fraction of the items I might use in a mixed media piece. 

What you see here is gelli print on deli paper, caught color on a piece of packing paper from a fragile purchase, stamps on tissue paper, a yellow, paper crown rescued from a cracker imported from England, a fortune cookie fortune, a prismacolor marker, a Stabilo pencil, two Sakura gel pens, a homemade stencil made from a pasta box, acrylic paint, liquid pearls, washi tape, embroidery floss, lace dyed with ink, and a Stays On stamp pad. 

Do you see how it would be hard to remember all of that later? 

As for the Artwork Inventory article, there's a lot of good information for me to chew on. Honestly, they got me in the first paragraph.  

Inventory number. As a librarian I have been used to ISBN (International Standard Book Number) numbers, Library of Congress numbers, barcodes and call numbers. So many numbers. So many ways to keep track of information, index it, retrieve it, sort it, and sometimes simply play with it. I've also been used to keeping data, tracking circulation, numbers of patrons checking in, checking out, renewing, over dues, collection age, collection value, collection circulation, etc. I am used to keeping this kind of information. 

And yet it never occurred to me to give my work an inventory number, much less assign numbers which would provide information. This is another task for me to consider and employ. Watch that google doc I posted, it just might have a few additions. 

Let me know what you think of these articles and the ideas. Were they helpful to you? Was any of the information new to you?