Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: "The Artists Guide: How to Making a Living Doing What You Love” by Jackie Battenfield

5 out of 5 stars

I can not say enough GREAT THINGS about this book or recommend it to enough artists! The Artist's Guide: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love has been a big eye opener and helpful guide for what it takes to be a professional artists. Jackie Battenfield freely shares the knowledge she has gained as a professional artist for the last 20+ years for beginning or re-beginning artists to reference as they embark on their own journey. Battenfield takes a very practical and realistic approach to what it means to be an artist. She gives a thoroughly overview of a lot of the responsibilities, problems and needs an artist will face and how to deal with them.

I know for me as a student, there are many unsure areas of what needs to be done to make money in the art world. Battenfield has been very helpful in paving a more clear picture for me of what it will take. I am not saying this book gives every answer I'll ever need to know or is the only resource I would ever need, but it helps bring light to a lot of what was once unknown. It makes it clearer how and where to start a career as an artist.

In her book, Battenfield covers a lot of essential skills an artist should develop, like setting goals, how to write an artists statement, a resume,a bio and how to make work samples, and she gives advice on organizational skills. She discusses grants, residencies, copy right laws, taxes and building a network of artists and other art professionals to draw upon for help. She offers guidelines for exhibiting your work and gives resources for finding galleries that are a right match. She also outlines who the key players are in the art world and what role they play. (Most of this information I had little knowledge of beforehand so I received it all gladly)!

At the end each chapter, Battenfield gives a list of resources (with a brief description of what information that resource contains) that gives direction of where to look next for more information covered in the chapter. I found her brief descriptions to be very helpful in choosing what other resources I would be interested looking in to.

To sum up my overall feelings about the book, I was actually sad when I finished it. Battenfield began to feel like real, helping friend to me. I felt like I knew her and her career intimately. Her writing approach was often personal, she gave great antidotes and I could relate to what she was saying. I even felt at times as though as I was having a conversation with her. It was a very easy and enjoyable read. This is a book I plan on re-reading over and over again throughout my career and I see myself reference it often for advice about the many responsibilities I will face as a professional artist.

Book Review: "How To Get Ideas" by Jack Foster

5 out of 5 Stars

My husband suggested this book to me. It was a required book for his English class. Anyone in an field, whether in the arts or not could still glean tools towards creative thinking found in this book. How To Get Ideas was a fun book for me to read. It is a short, quick read (I finished it in a week), but it is packed full of information. As I was reading it I kept thinking, “Wow, I need to tell my teachers about this book and convince them to make it a required reading for their classes.” Foster starts his book out by defining what exactly is an idea. He declared it a “new combination of old elements.” Just having the definition of an idea alone helped me to start thinking and seeing things a little differently.

Foster gives 10 great tools in 10 great chapters for generating ideas (or as he put it “idea-condition your mind”): Have Fun, Be More Like a Child, Become Idea-Prone, Visualize Success, Rejoice in Failure, Get More Inputs, Screw Up Your Courage, Team Up with Energy, Rethink Your Thinking, and Learn How to Combine. After every couple pages I would find myself putting the book down to write notes, ideas, and insights to his suggestions. I felt very inspired to put what he was preaching into practice. It takes effort, but I see it as a valuable return.

Foster finishes the book with a “five-step method for producing ideas.” There is a chapter for each step where he discusses what to do and why to do it. The idea is to combine idea making tools with an idea making formula and great ideas will be born. I felt like Foster, who has worked for years in the advertising industry, had a lot to offer on creative thinking. He gives personal stories and insights, but his book is also stalked full with examples and quotes from others as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gumoil Prints

This is a really cool, but rather difficult alternative photographic process called the gumoil processes. It was invented by Karl Koenig in, I believe, the early 1990s. It uses similiar chemsistry as a gum bichromate, but instead of water or acyclic paint it uses oil paint. It isn't printed the same as gum bichromate processes. The image is printed first with just the chemistry, then you brush the oil paint on top and rub it back off. The print is then placed in a bleach bath to be etched, followed by a 10 minute rinse.

This was kind of difficult processes for me to print with. It is very finicky and easy to lose my image quickly. I was running into problems where the paint was too thick so that the image couldn't be seen or else the paint was washing off in the bleach etching bath. It was really hard for me to keep the details of the photo as well. I had about 6-8 images I printed multiple times for this series, but these were the only two I was actually satisfied with. I love the gritty, old look that gumoils offer so I want to keep practicing to see if I can figure out a way to better control my printing. I am really glad I tried it and got at least something to turn out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: "Art Revolution" by Lisa L. Cyr

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I actually read Art Revolution at the end of the summer and have been so busy I hadn't gotten around to writing a book review yet. This book was very influential for me.

The "art revolution" Lisa Cyr is referring to in her book is that of mixed media artwork. I work primarily in alternative photography, but after reading this book, it inspired me to learn as many art mediums as possible. Not only was I inspired, but it motivated me enough to sign up for a watercolor and an oil painting class at school last semester. I loved learning and exploring these new mediums so much I signed up for 3 painting classes and a drawing class for this semester. In my opinion, a book that can inspire real, concrete change is a powerful book. This book really amplified my desire to learn as much art as I can (however, individual results may vary).

Art Revolution is packed full of beautiful and inspiring images. It was a feast for the eyes and the mind. Cyr picked very thoughtful, talented artists to feature in her book. She interviewed 20 mixed media artists, including a 2 to 3 page article about their art work which was packed full of great quotes from the artist. Each section also has a few images to show off the artist's work. Some of the artists even give step by step demos on how they created a piece of art. The directions in the demo seemed a little unclear sometimes, but it gives you a good general idea of how mixed media works and of different techniques you can try in your own work.

What I gained most from this book (well . . .besides the desire to act) was reading about the artist's working process. It is fascinating for me to hear other artists talk about their work. It helps me understand my own processes and concepts better, and also helps me develop skills in talking about my work. I also gained a lot of insight about working with concepts and how to illustrate ideas. Mixed media is not always easy to pull off, but in Art Revolution there are many great examples of beautiful mixed media art, as well as explanations about why artists' are working with mixed media. I think if you are a mixed media artist, you will enjoy this book.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book Review: "COLOR: messages and meanings" by Leatrice Eiseman

A must have:

5 out of 5 Stars

This book is a great resource for all artists, but especially for graphic designers, interior designers, and commercial photographers. This book is an essential resource (it is targeted to this audience . . . especially graphic designers). I am not a graphic designer, but if I was, I know I would be referencing this book daily for inspiration and direction. I have read a couple books on color (color theory, color symbolism) and this is the best book I have read. The author, Leatrice Eiseman, has strong credentials and it shows in her book. She knows what she is talking about. The book is easy and enjoyable to read and very informative.

It starts by covering the basic colors (red, blue, brown, purple, orange, etc.) and the symbols/moods associated with those colors. She even touches on how colors effect us psychologically. At the end of a color section she lists different shades of that color along with positive and sometimes negative adjectives/symbols often associated with these colors. I found this section the most interesting. It was very informative and comprehensive. It is a very helpful reference for any artist who works in color to better understand what role color plays in sharing a message with their audience.

The next section is about color in the marketplace. This section is more about using color in the advertisement world. She focuses on creating an identity for a company and how color effects their image and reflects their mission as a company. Eiseman talks about using color as an attention grabber and using appropriate colors to fit certian ages, genders, and shopping patterns.

The next section goes into color relationships. She has a brief section about color schemes on the color wheel and the messages sent by using those schemes. Following this, she gives 20 different moods (exotic, sentimental, unique, restful, assertive, nightlife, etc.) with a brief description of the mood and associated colors. Then, on the next page, there are 20 colored squares giving examples of a dominant, subordinate, and accent color combinations that could be used to convey that mood. The part I found most impressive is at the end of the book where she has a chart of every color she used in the book and the CMYK numbers for that color! This chart is a great time saver and will help you get the exact color combination desired. It makes this book a very practical reference book.

In the last section, she covers color trends in the advertisement world and how to spot them. She briefly discusses trends in fashion, graphic design, technology, and art. She even gives specific examples of places to look.

I really loved this book. Not only are the images beautiful and pleasurable to look at, but it is packed full of information. It is the best book on color I have seen or read. I STRONGLY recommend it to anyone who works with or is interested in color theory, color relationships, or color symbolism. If you are a graphic designer, this book is a must have. It is worth every dollar spent on it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Art Show

I am having an art show! The opening is Friday. This is my first solo show and I am very excited about it. I have been working on my concept and art pieces for a year and now it is finally time to share what I have done. After my show is finished I am planning on posting all the images from it on my blog.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Holga Camera - Cross Processed Film

I took these images with a toy camera called a Holga. It is a cheap, plastic medium format film camera. Because it is so cheap it leaks light in, vignetting the edges of the image. I crossed processed the film when I got it developed and so it shifted all the colors around.