Bursting onto the art scene for her surreal piece on “mouserflies,” painter Lisa Ericson returns to Portland’s Antler Gallery for the fourth time.
Writes the Gallery on her imaginative take on species as “mobile habitats”:
“Her technical skill is beyond compare. The depth of her feeling really shines through in these gorgeous depictions of supernatural beings which look as though they could be photographs taken on a night safari or deep-dive.”
Brain Pickings blogger Maria Popova sat down with WordPress in the Own Your Content series to discuss evergreen ideas and rethinking the meaning of content.
Popova writes about timeless topics. “I am drawn to ideas that remain resonant across time and space, across cultures and civilizations.” If you read her blog, you know that she excels in digging up little-known gems from primary sources and combining them in an interesting way.
Her talent reminds me of what professor Kenneth Goldsmith of the University of Pennsylvania said about education in the internet era: “an educated person in the future will be a curious person who collects better artifacts. The ability to call up and use facts is the new education. How to tap them, how to use them.”
Maria excels in making old content relevant again. Following her blog is a direct line to her insatiable curiosity.
In this sense, then, it naturally inclines toward what you call “evergreen” — which I take to mean enduring ideas that hold up across the years, decades, and centuries, and continue to solace and give meaning undiminished by time.
I loathe the term “content” as applied to cultural material — it was foisted upon us by a commercially driven media industry that treats human beings as mindless eyeballs counted in statistics like views and likes, as currency to be traded against advertising revenue. Somehow people have been sold on the idea that the relationship between ads and “content” is a symbiotic one, but it is a parasitic one.
While tech may be the cigarette of the century, the internet does provide space for writers like Maria Popova to demonstrate combinatorial creativity in the name of the hyperlink. If used properly, the internet can be a learning machine rather than a propaganda tool.
Who to copy is easy. You copy your heroes—the people you love, the people you’re inspired by, the people you want to be. The songwriter Nick Lowe says, “You start out by rewriting your hero’s catalog.” And you don’t just steal from one of your heroes, you steal from all of them. The writer Wilson Mizner said if you copy from one author, it’s plagiarism, but if you copy from many, it’s research. I once heard the cartoonist Gary Panter say, “If you have one person you’re influenced by, everyone will say you’re the next whoever. But if you rip off a hundred people, everyone will say you’re so original!”
What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.
Twenty-seven animators worked on the new Wes Anderson flick Isle of Dogs. This video demonstrates some of the techniques and challenges they faced in production.
According to one of the creators, “one of the hardest things to do in animation is a walk.” So they strapped cameras to the backs of dogs to understand a canine’s movements and other points of view.
VSCO releases Isle of Dogs Presets
Photo editing app VSCO released some filters to help promote the movie. I took some photos of my dog and applied the presets. DOG 2 gives the images a yellow tint while DOG 3 adds a pink hue to images.
We live in the age of robots, where machines powered by AI can drive your car, deliver you breakfast in your hotel room, or reorder you diapers on Amazon.
But automata isn’t new. As craftsman François Junod points out in the video, “the oldest known automatons date back to the Egyptians.” They gained popularity as entertainment for royalty in the 18th century.
Obsessed with mechanics and automatons at a younger age, Junod felt compelled to make what he calls ‘animated sculptures’ himself. Today he works out of his studio in Switzerland and ships out all over the world.
“It’s that I’ve always liked automatons because we can create new things…There really isn’t a limit. We can continue and discover new things. We can always go further.”
I spend hours each day digging the web for interesting gems and remixing them here. If you enjoy reading wellsbaum.blog, please consider becoming a patron or making a donation. You can also contribute as little as $1 below with just a couple clicks. Thank you.
Since starting a year ago, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has made 400,000 of its images free to download and remix.
The project immediately empowered the likes of software developer and designer Simone Seagle. She downloaded a 1920s print from abstract Russian artist Vasily Kandinsky called Violett. Said Seagle:
Generally you can’t be in a mad mood looking at his work, and it’s a blast to cut up and play with in Photoshop. I picked the print called Violett, because it has fun colors and good shapes to work with.
Everything is a remix
It was Pablo Picasso who once said “great artists steal.” He took inspiration from his scenius and mixed it into his own original work. So it is no surprise that third most visited in the world wants to be part of the creative dialogue. The museum’s chief digital officer Loic Tallon told Quartz:
“If we could preserve the art world in a nice old pickle jar, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I genuinely believe that for the museum to maintain its relevance, we have to participate in that conversations.”
The internet is the world’s largest copy-paste machine. Giving the public unfettered access to rework old masterpieces will bring visibility to obscure pieces while also fueling new interpretations. With time, reworks will birth their own stems for future creators to build on top of.
When mixed media artist Jimmy Swift traveled to India in March 2015, he saw a jagged rock on the beach. He immediately knew what to do with it.
“When I first saw this rock it looked like a perfect place for a great white. It’s truly amazing how mother nature can carve out such a perfect shape.”
But creating a three-dimensional lifelike shark wasn’t easy. He braved an ocean of buffeting waves to get the first draft done. “This was the hardest thing I’ve ever painted. I was literally beat up by the waves and rising tide and forced to stop before it was finished.”
He returned two years later to repaint it for Instagram-obsessed beachgoers.
Art is where our mind’s eye merges with reality to create a theater inside our head, resulting in the form of a diary. This was especially true for Pablo Picasso.
Picasso was perhaps best known for his practice of public journaling via painting. “My work is my diary. I have painted my autobiography,” he said.
Picasso grasped his inner thoughts and projected them on canvass. His art gave us a peek inside his head, such as his relationship with partner Marie-Thérèse Walter in his formative years.
Art is therapy
Art is an instrument for coping, part mental therapy part expression. Bottling his thoughts without letting them go would’ve driven Picasso insane. Whether it is painting, writing, or playing sports, we exercise our bodies to verify that we’re still alive.
Talent is overrated. Hard work, discipline, grit, and consistency are attributes that increase your chances of getting what you want.
Luck is a matter of being specific about your goals and two, putting yourself in a position for good things to happen. It is the accumulation of small and steady risks that make the biggest difference and change your life.
For Henry Rollins, that meant taking a bus from DC up to New York to see his favorite band, only to go on stage and sing with them. To his surprise, they called him back later for an audition and became the band’s lead singer. In other words, he caught his lucky break and escaped a life of minimum wage jobs.
Some people get lucky by default. Their network leads them into opportunities because of the sheer dazzle of their last name. For others, hitting the jackpot it is the result of striving to achieve a very specific effort and finding those luck circles that help you make it happen.
Luck draws on the law of magnetism
Luck may be a random phenomenon but it works like a magnet, gravitating toward those hungry enough to take chances.
Success is an accumulation of little efforts that build on top of a grateful perspective, a practice of modesty that keeps you doing what you’re doing. Says Rollins:
“I don’t have talent. I have tenacity. I have discipline. I have Focus. I know, without any delusion, where I come from & where I can go back to.”
Francis Bacon painted ghostly, violent images. Some say he emptied his darkest thoughts on canvass, mostly as a manifestation of his relationship with his sadistic lover, Peter Lacey.
Bacon cultivated a sense of darkness that gave his paintings an “edgy atmosphere…gambling everything on the next brush stroke.” Says Bacon in the video:
“We do with our life what we can and then we die. If someone is aware of that, perhaps it comes out in their work.”
The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.
Bacon was an untrained artist, an outlier in the painting world. He worked closely with his PR agent David Sylvester to ensure that he continued to stand out, securing an exhibition at the Tate Museum and book of interview transcripts collated by Sylvester himself.
Francis Bacon was a mystery man who tugged at the most morose moments in his life, leaving the characters in his paintings look as if they are literally gasping for air.