Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Smoke and Mirrors and Wolves and Wall St. and Feet of Iron and Clay

Magazines, Celebrity and Advertising - a toxic blend
in the "Age of AspirationTM".
They've sucked you in and made you believe in a world of smoke and mirrors...and you consume the nonsense and you consume the products and rich get richer...
unless they don't...

Poor L'Wren. It's not the first time a beautiful, talented person met with a devastating end. What seemed like a perfect existence to many on the outside - wealth, famous friends, luxurious surroundings and the best mode of travel... Might be like the life you want...but it may not be all as it seems on the surface. She killed herself. Because she was in debt.
A life beyond her means, and I don't just mean financial means. She reinvented herself and bought into a lie...that the fashion industry [like so many other creative industries] would reward her, with air kisses and fawning praise and great reviews, but more importantly - with a fabulous income. Not enough. So she killed herself because she wasn’t what she seemed.
Suicide due to embarrassment? L’Wren - isn't your legacy so much WORSE? Every news outlet imaginable picking apart your bones - digging in your trash - interviewing everyone you didn't want to know to truth... Just to find out you're in debt... ? It's SO sad. So many were jealous of your life. But now?
Look, it's not that I am unempathetic. I'm baffled! I think there is a problem in our culture.

WHY MUST WE ALL BE FILTHY RICH RIGHT NOW?
‘Cause we live in the "Age of AspirationTM".
And the people that are most highly regarded by popular demand appear to be RICH beyond your wildest dreams. Grab your Cristal and take a seat while I snark it out.

I mean, really? What is on the cover of almost any magazine - not including “the one” causing all the controversy right now?

Ugh... photoshopped people doing impossible [for you and me] things - in exotic places - with other beautiful people. Yippee - they’re even losing weight while in the Maldives!

Inside? Photoshopped people in extremely expensive clothing you can't afford...BUT they are holding ASPIRATION pieces that you might... Can't afford the Prada dress? [What, it's not de rigueur for that parent teacher meeting Wednesday night?] Well...maybe you can afford the handbag...no? perhaps the shoes... no? Come on, the bracelet... alright, how about the perfume? NO??? FINE, just rub the sample on your wrist and call it a day.


And while I'm at it...not EVERYTHING can be HAUTE couture [so stop saying it, it means something very specific].
And not EVERY event deserves a carpet...much less a RED ONE. [What, no RED CARPET at The Bachelorette viewing party you're going to in last year’s Chico’s outlet pants and oversized T clutching a container of hummus and a bottle of three-buck-chuck?]



Look at who is being admired!
Yeah, allegedly getting sued by Trump "University" students who said they didn't learn anything.

Far be it from me to name the talentless, vapid brood nestled in Calabasas raking in YOUR MONEY  pause....pause... pause... And FOR WHAT? What are you thinking? ASPIRATION - "if I buy this perfume, or this clothing off the rack at Sears or watch this show or buy this magazine... then surely I'll be her friend? I'll have an out-of-wedlock baby? I'll have a vacation in Mexico? I’ll need another waxing by Thursday?
No. Nothing will happen. Well...they will make more money. And the magazine will buy more photos of them doing “normal” things.
Proud of yourself?

How about a movie [or two] starring Leo DiC that glorifies an outright thief, liar, drug abuser and serial cheat that only glorifies his own low-life self for three hours. So you watch it - no redemption, no remorse, no retribution [well, maybe in one of them, but only by accident]. Real life asshat gets cameo at the end of the other and probably a few mil for the story. Your reward for consuming? ASPIRATION Surely you will get a yacht? a hooker? a trophy wife?
No. Don't think so. But, you probably had a hankerin' for coke [one movie] or ran to Tiffany to buy a piece of jewelry "inspired" by the other movie.

Of course, you must have a Cadillac. Go ahead, you work hard.
Of course, you must have a Louis Vuitton bag for your chihuahua.
Of course, you must party in Ibiza. Tonight!
Of course, you must book Beyonce for little Clementine's bat mitzvah. And don’t forget to invite little Blue!

What has our society come to?
IT'S YOUR FAULT! You click on their images, you buy their magazines, their books, their products, you want to look like them, be like them, what's wrong with YOU??? [I mean...what's wrong with you just being you, you're okay the way you are, just ask your dog]

In the "Age of AspirationTM" everyone wants what they can't get or don't deserve.
Who gets MILLIONS OF DOLLARS into debt? - Oh yeah, those people------>

Who has that kind of credit?
I know people that can't afford their MORTGAGE PAYMENT - or their kid's daycare - or their retirement - or a vacation.

And those goofballs you see on TV living a fabulous life? They're getting paid to do that. And getting freebies all the time. Producers are providing plastic surgery for even the most minor characters [think Storage Wars] so they'll look the part - or disguise smoke and mirrors in camo and facial hair. Every clothing, jewelry, accessory manager under the sun is sending them stuff to wear on TV, sending them on trips, shepherding them into their restaurants and clubs... so their lush life is only getting plusher because of your aspirations!

STOP BUYING INTO IT!!!

Silly Rabbits, We've been trixed before.
Why do we admire these people?
All you sports fans who thought - if I buy this glove, this hat, this shirt, these shoes, this bat, this mitt... I'll look like, hit like, run like, Lance or Marion or A-Rod...or so many more...and it was BULL-hockey.

You voted for cheaters, liars, schemers...who thought they had us fooled until the mistresses showed up in blue dresses or in maternity clothes. Or military officers who fell for the cheeziest milf on the block while protecting others who abused women. The worst lined their pockets with gun money while graves filled with sons and daughters and husbands and brothers. TV channels have talking AIR HEADS spewing vitriol 24/7 so you’ll get mad, or even...and nothing changes because they’re just getting louder, not smarter because it’s all designed to keep you stoopid.

You wanted to make a boat load of moolah so you trusted Bernie who made off with bazillions.

Swaggert'd out of plenty of money... Jim and Tammy'd your prayers for nuthin'.

"Culture:" That beautiful young starlet turned forty and now she looks like she was hit straight on by a 40-mile-an-hour hockey puck. Did that aging actor have a screw installed in the back of his head that his doctor turns half a twist every six months? LOOK...WE CAN SEE your plastic surgery...you're not fooling anyone. What animal died on John Travolta’s head? Wouldn't we accept him without hair?
It worked for Sean Connery... and ladies, if you can act...a wrinkle or two isn't gonna keep us from admiring talent.

YOUR IDOLS HAVE FEET OF CLAY!!!

Remember Sex in the City? I just read the average income in NYC is $50,000 a year. Awesome! Who was going out for sushi and $12 Cosmos in their new Jimmy Choo's - at only $1600 a pop!?  Gallery assistant? Making...how much?


This "Age of AspirationTM" is crazy! It’s rampant. And believe me, I know it... I’m a JOB CREATOR [if you count me, sole proprietor] who creates a product I want you to buy [consume! consume!] and I’m trying real hard not to sell my soul just so kiddo can finish college or I can take the dachshunds to the vet or... you know, eat. Does that mean I have to get gussied up in a satin prom dress, get extensions, a fake tan and nails, 6 inch heels and fling a gimlet in the nearest “real housewife of Colonial Height’s” eye just because she cut me off in line at Panera? I hope not, because they don’t sell alcohol there. Me, [just like L’Wren was] is hoping talent [and the universe] will allow me to make a living.

Monday, December 16, 2013

My Appropriation Story...Biography and then some.

Old habits are hard to break, and even harder when YOU'RE old.

I am guilty of appropriation. But I vow... not in the future.
But how did I get here?

Here's the back story...

I could blame it on my revered High School Art Teacher, Mr. Levine. I loved him [not romantically]. He taught me a lot, but also some bad habits... including the DEADLY opaque projector technique.

High School - Photo by Robert Schimmel, double exposure.
I spent most of my spare time in High School in the Art room. Actually, spent some Chemistry, Geometry and Physics time in there, too. I was often fetched by a fellow student and dragged to class. My Math teacher, Babe Steen would just stand the hallway and yell - SCHIMMEL!!!! I only went to science classes [reluctantly] because Mr. Green was so cute. I would rather be in the art room than anywhere. But let us go back further...

When I was a very little girl, I was painfully shy. I started playing piano when I was 4. By ear. I have perfect pitch, and after my older brother's piano teacher left, I would walk over to the piano and play his lessons. My Mom was in the kitchen and thought Bob was practicing. When she realized it was me, she signed me up for lessons and immediately started thinking "child prodigy" and Julliard and the Ed Sullivan Show. Terror!
shy little girl in Reading, PA

I also started drawing when I was little.
I would stay in my room and draw. For hours. I always drew people. Or clothes [on people] or shoes [on people]. I can draw. I learned on my own. Did not get much help later on except a few classes I took on my own. What an easy kid for my parents to raise. Piano lessons, practice [ick] and quiet hours alone drawing or reading.

My favorite books were [and still are] about people. I read every biography book in my school. Mostly about Native Americans.
I still read biographies.

Left to my own devices [literally], I'll watch documentaries about PEOPLE.We went to the JCC in Reading, PA and I took lots of art classes. Ceramics was my favorite. I still have EVERYTHING I ever made, even if it's cracked or broken.

In 6th grade, I made a puppet. I put him a plaid kilt, and a Tam O'Shanter... I remember arguing with my teacher who insisted I had to decide whether he was Irish or Scots. What a bitch...how would I know the difference at 11? Now, on reflection...I'm thinking Scottish, I could swear it's the Black Watch tartan. I still have that puppet, too...molting away somewhere in a box. And now I know the difference.

In junior high, I really started thinking more about art and got great grades in drawing, and got an award for a portrait I did of my typing teacher [yeah... I'm THAT old]. Mr. Hobart really forced us to think outside the box... slapping metal rulers on the table and shouting "WAKE UP PEOPLE, it's the Pepsi Generation!"

I was not the "best" artist in school, that was Nancy Kintisch. And there were others. We were not in competition. The cameraderie in art rooms in high school was positive. But, encouragement on the home front was non-existent.

In the years between high-school and today... I bounced around colleges [4] and was an on-again off-again art major. I have to say, I learned very little in art class. One teacher I had for live drawing absolutely HATED me and ignored me all semester. At another college, one professor said "You know what you're doing, I can't teach you anything, just come back at the end of the semester with 12 paintings and I'll give you an A."
I was in a hard-edge acrylic non-representational phase for a while. But mostly, PEOPLE...always people. My degree is actually in Psychology [that's a long story about Eidetic Imagery experiments - on ME] ...but I did finish classes to get a BFA later.
Maybe I wasn't paying attention, or maybe it wasn't covered, but I never really learned how to BE an artist, how to make a living as a fine artist, how to get into galleries, or musuems, and I still don't know what a fellowship or residency is.
I'm not a joiner, and I need to learn things quickly. If I can't pick it up, I don't get it.
Well.. I got kicked out of graduate school since I could not pick a concentration. But, it was fun taking Textile design, and Surface design, and Metal work and Jewelry and Fiber Arts... even though I knew painting people was my thing.
And maybe fashion design...or shoe design...see, I'm still doing it!

So naturally, I went into retail. What a joke. But then came Display. Although I designed all sorts of things - from handbags to T-shirts to jewelry, my career in Display, Window Trimmer, Visual Merchandiser kept me alive. And fed the creative side of me. And painting on the side. Always painting.

Fast forward to the naughts. Frustrated in a corporate career, divorced, single parent... I decide to go get back into Art. After playing around with mosaics, I am finally SURE of what I want to do, a style, a technique I developed. Turning junk mail into tiles, and creating mosaics with them. Mosaics of PEOPLE. New husband, my angel, said quit your job and be an artist.
My first Mosaic experiment...a self-portrait
So, with an anthem to rock, we built a studio and never looked back.

Okay - it's gonna be people. What people? I scour through magazines and pull out photos. I paste them on my studio walls. I draw from them, I simplify, but... I am using photos from magazines for my subjects. Look, I never lied about it - it's just he way I worked. My whole vision was to USE those very objects - women's faces - and create something new.

My latest work is my last appropriation. The photo on the left is from W magazine, and is by Patrick Demarchelier. I loved this girl's face and the composition. So, I drew from it. I made enough changes that I believe it is "transformative," and the new piece has new elements I added...having started out thinking Tudor age then switched to a Renaissance feel. There she is on the right - in my messy studio. Either way, I am guilty of appropriation and that's that.

But now, I've decided to stop doing that. I have a lot of commission work going on through the next several months, but starting in the spring, I vow to create my own images and work from those.

In the spirit of letting go, I'm holding a clearance sale now through Christmas to clear out the studio and my head.

Looking forward to a new year and new direction. Cheers!

Sandhi






Monday, September 23, 2013

But does it match the couch?

At an art festival this weekend, I was approached by a really interesting character who got my grey cells bouncing around my noggin'. He called himself Seemore. [Have you met him?} His name is
SEEMORE
Charles Simmons and he is a BIG booster for his home town.


Occasional art festivals are one way I get to meet the public, take my show on the road... and hopefully make some sales of my work. Say what you will about art... I consider it my profession, and have no qualms about finding various ways to make a living.
It's a mixed bag.

Anyway, Seemore stopped by and told me he was looking for 
the next Martha Stewart. He thought it might be me! [Or maybe he says that to all the girls... or every artist he meets...] 

Well, I consider myself pretty clever, creative, can do all sorts of things... I can draw, and paint and grout tile with the best of them. I can design clothes, I can make a sample handbag from my own designs, I can dress a mannequin, darn socks, dye easter eggs, create sets for theatre, fashion floral centerpieces, do window displays, am a gourmet cook, do creative writing and make all sorts of art and craft thingamabobs. I don't have any livestock, but would love a sheep in the backyard to match my designer dachshunds. So, perhaps I fit his bill for the next Martha?

Seemore's actual purpose in attending the show was to find people [like me?] to come to High Point, NC. To visit, to perhaps participate in trade shows or be/display/rent in a showroom? I'm not quite sure. But, to be "discovered" as the "Next BIG Thing" seemed to be what he thought I could achieve in High Point. Or not. He was very honest.


"Dakota Daughter" Scottsdale, AZ
"Sheherazade" Stamford, CT
A RED wall!
He said some marvelous things about my artwork. And, my sense of color. However... he also uttered the phrase...asked the questions that many artists abhor... "But does it match the couch?"

 Apparently, interior designers who pick furniture, fabrics, accessories and ART for their clients in High Point and every where else... can make an artists' career if their work "matches the couch."


A Blue couch!
Seemore suggested I create work that will match fabrics and interiors that designers look for... and although I could almost say color schemes and palette I pick are something I "can't help doing" - from my inspiration in the moment, my thought process... I don't know...
Am I crazy for using COLORS??? 

"Ever" Museum Collection
Outrageous color combination!
Should I start perusing magazines looking for the latest trends in interior design so I can be more marketable? 
Are we still in the Tuscany trend? 
I haven't painted any villas or poplars recently...[ever?]



"Chauconne" Houston, TX
I never really thought about it before, and all the pieces shown here have sold... so someone somewhere must like red, purple, orange, yellow, teal and lime green! I guess a small minority.

I know most people are afraid of color [I had to paint my last house BEIGE so it would sell].

PURPLE????
I know most people don't like portraits. I know most people can't afford to buy original art. I get it, I get it...

If the point of making art... is not only to express yourself, but to also earn your way, pay your bills and put your kids through college - is that unreasonable? Is it time to SELL OUT and go beige or greige or sage green?

"The Karen E Project" Redondo Beach, CA
"Coco Rocha" New York, NY
"Can I get a Kiss? - Mexico City

 
What, neon colors? Unheard of.
Speaking for myself... Is creating DECOR that matches the couch the way to go?

An orange couch?
I guess I could make a lot more money if I did dog portraits...or flowers... or aspen trees... or landscapes or ponds or... the dreaded 
giant pear paintings. 

But, when I walk into my studio - and just create out of my
imagination, faces appear on the canvas 9 times outta 10. 
Colors that may or may not "go" together, or match a couch [Okay, I am being a smart ass here and I know it] get tossed together willy-nilly.

I know there is no real answer here, and I am sure if anyone bothers to comment... the opinions will be wildly different.

"Robin's Blue Bedroom Eyes - San Diego
Teal and Brown...that's more like it.
I am really glad I met Seemore, and might go visit him in High Point, or take a gander at design magazines... after all, being the next Martha Stewart would alright with me. I am sure I can stay out of prison or if I did end up in jail, I'd take up
Martha upon her release...with her knitted poncho
knitting ponchos, too.

Or better yet...  
the next Walt Disney
[after all, Walt & I share the same Myers Briggs ENTP personality type]

Like Seemore said...  
"You never know when Mickey Mouse is going to become Disneyworld."

So, what do you think?

By the way, if you want to be on my email newsletter list... 
go to THIS page and sign up.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The custom portrait process...and "inside the studio" insights.

It's his birthday, he's in his 70's. He is getting married. 
He started coloring his hair a little...
His family wants to give him something special.
A Portrait. From me!
I get these photos through email, and put together a quick sketch to capture the best of both of them.  I picked the photo of "her" from above [her eyes were the biggest] "him" from the top photo, and his hair color from the one on the right.

Quick Sketch in Paint on Canvas

After drawing and painting, I begin the process of cutting up hundreds and hundreds of pieces of paper. What started out as a simple mosaic process has become an incredibly detailed method...I've been doing this for so long, it's just second nature and difficult to explain!

There is a set of old bedroom furniture in the studio [it was mine when I was a kid] - all junk mail, old calendars, postcards, menus, fly cards, card stock, greeting cards and other ephemera go into those drawers. 

Before I start a new project, I spend a few hours going through that stuff - cutting it and sorting into colors...those piles go into other drawers.
Back to the easel, I sort the colors I've chosen to use by shade and lay them out on a large table. I work one color at a time, cutting and pasting [glueing] each piece one at a time, cutting again and again to fit. Sometimes, they're nothing but a sliver... I might need tweezers to hold the tiny piece, I might need an exacto to trim... The process takes hundreds of hours... during this time, I am looking at the subject's photos...constantly going back and forth, tweeking whatever I need to "get it right."

Thank goodness for NPR and Pandora and PBS online... I can listen to stories, music, comedy and might learn something while I am working or discover a new artist whose music grabs my attention.

Sometimes one of the dogs wanders into the studio. Usually Farfel, who wants me to hold her, but that ain't happening. But she will sit on my hot pink chair and whine... I wish I had a baby bjorn for dachshunds.

In the morning hours, after I have my tea, I often work in whatever I was sleeping in the night before. T-shirt, Yoga pants...Hopefully, no one will come to the door. I work odd hours, all day, with breaks to check my email and see what my friends are doing on Facebook... or talk to friends or family... always wandering back in and picking up where I left off. I am back in the studio at night - often WAY into the wee hours. When I am in the mood...the "zone" I don't know where the time goes. 

The studio is carpeted and I am always trailing it around - embellishing the house with slivers of paper that have stuck to my toes or my socks... and at some point, vacuuming is necessary. Byproduct of my work.

After all the paper is applied, I go back and repaint the eyes, teeth, whatever makes sense. Whatever colors you see - that's the color of the paper. After 24 hours, I apply a sealer and UV coating. Edges of the canvas are painted...usually black.

Here's a small pic of the happy couple [a little glare on the right side] before it got shipped away to enhance another home.

By the way, I don't make my art for me... I make it for YOU!

Thanks for reading!
S