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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: art, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Sketchbook Ravens

I've been trying to work out of that box, to leap from my safe comfort zone. Not an easy thing let me tell you, despite the fact that I'm a huge fan of change and of learning new things in life and of fearlessly (ahem) exploring the unknown.

I've also been known to dip my toe in the water, scream "argh it's freezing!!" (slightly colder than tepid) and dash wimpily off across the sand as fast as I can manage. So. Not as easy as it seems. Still, here are my (artistic) attempts at leaping into that crazily unsafe unfamiliar space ... first, in painting as loosely as possible, and second, at carving rather than drawing ...





I'll admit that they aren't what I'd call works of art (or vastly different from my norm) but that's not what I was trying to achieve. I'm just experimenting, enjoying something new. I'll get there, bit by bit.

These were done as part of my college course, and will be reblogged over at my children's illustration blog, so to take a peek at that, just click HERE.

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2. Uplift: Focus

Hi folks, this is the last in my Uplift series wherein I try to write words that will lift you up. We are at the end of a month, so this will be short, but overwhelming useful (hopefully).

My dad taught me this. Where you come from isn't important. Know who you are. Figure it out. Dad is an interesting person. As a young child he was totally cut off from his past, and set adrift without parents, family, anyone but himself.  He had to rely on the charity of strangers and carve a life for himself as a person with no past.

You might have a lion inside that is roaring at you!  You might be tied up with the stupid decisions of your past and the past of your family and friends.  You might be tied up with the stupid decisions of entire nations and races. Or you might be like my dad, a person with no past, no story, nothing. Where do you go from here?

The degradation you have suffered isn't important. The gaping holes in your past aren't important. What others think about you isn't important. What you think about yourself is the important thing. The next step is the future. If you are reading my blog, it is likely you are a creative soul. The things you create are always for the future. You focus on what count by adding value to future of others. Seriously, be the biggest investor you can possibly be.

Next week, a new series. Gifts.

A doodle for you!

He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened. Lao Tzu

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3. Pop-up Art Shop

Back from the printer
with my first tiny print run 
of sight word cards. 

 Tomorrow, it's this:
And after that, I'll get the Etsy shop oiled up and rolling. 

 Gorgeous books about creative learners:
I Will Never Get a Star on Mrs. Benson's Blackboard by Jennifer K. Mann 
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

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4. MATT CHATS: Nicola Scott on Making ‘Magick’ with Greg Rucka

Nicola Scott is probably best known currently for her time drawing for DC Comics. Her smooth, sleek linework on titles such as Secret Six and Earth 2 was distinct but still fit in tonally with the rest of the DC Universe. Despite her success with that style, she switches up dramatically for her creator-owned Image title Black Magick, written by Greg […]

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5. Paying journal wants work that provokes, excites, entertains

The Humber Literary Review seeks submissions of essays, poetry, artwork, and comics for its fifth issue (Spring 2016). Pays $100 each for essays, fiction, reviews, and for 2-3 poems. Contributors receive two copies plus a one-year subscription. Deadline: December 15, 2015. Guidelines.

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6. Meet Dr. Kathy Battista, Benezit’s new Editor in Chief

Oxford is thrilled to welcome Dr. Kathy Battista as the new Editor in Chief of the Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Get to know Dr. Battista with our Q/A session.

The post Meet Dr. Kathy Battista, Benezit’s new Editor in Chief appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Happy Birthday Isamu Noguchi!

the east west houseToday is Isamu Noguchi’s birthday and we’d like to take a moment to celebrate one of the twentieth century’s most important and critically acclaimed sculptors.

According to the Noguchi Museum’s website, Noguchi was born in Los Angeles, California, to an American mother and a Japanese father, Noguchi lived in Japan until the age of thirteen, when he moved to Indiana.  While studying pre-medicine at Columbia University, he took evening sculpture classes on New York’s Lower East Side, mentoring with the sculptor Onorio Ruotolo. He soon left the University to become an academic sculptor.

Noguchi’s work was not recognized in the United States until 1938, when he completed a large-scale sculpture symbolizing the freedom of the press, which was commissioned for the Associated Press building in Rockefeller Center, New York City.  This was the first of what would become numerous celebrated public works worldwide, ranging from playgrounds to plazas, gardens to fountains, all reflecting his belief in the social significance sculpture.

east west house
Image from The East-West House

In 1985 Noguchi opened The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum (now known as The Noguchi Museum), in Long Island City, New York.  The Museum, established and designed by the artist, marked the culmination of his commitment to public spaces.

Noguchi received the Edward MacDowell Medal for Outstanding Lifetime Contribution to the Arts in 1982; the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986; the National Medal of Arts in 1987; and the Order of Sacred Treasure from the Japanese government in 1988.  He died in New York City in 1988.

The East-West House is a tribute to the artistic beginnings of this pioneering modern sculptor and designer. Written and illustrated by Christy Hale, the book tells the story of the boy who grew up to be the multifaceted artist Isamu Noguchi. Guided by his desire to enrich everyday life with art while bringing together Eastern and Western influences, Noguchi created a vast array of innovative sculptures, stage sets, furniture, and public spaces.

Purchase a copy of the book here.

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8. Uplift: Be Revolutionary

Hi folks, I'm continuing my series Uplift. Something I think we can all use right now. It is difficult to turn to a news site and see the troubles of our world. What can an artist do to alleviate any of it? How can an artist work in the midst of it? Is it possible to find uplift in this morass of suffering?

Here is a truth that has come to me. I write because I must. Words flood into me. My artistic endeavor is a gift to me first and to all after. It is something like I'm an artesian aquifer. Deep in us all is the ground water of human existence and it is seeking a place of release. We are animate matter: self-replicating, chemical factories, and electrical maps. We are fragile. I have a short span of days in light of the ancient universe, to share what the spark of life has revealed to me. Use you time wisely.

So much flows from human existence and not all is good. There is terror, murder, mayhem, profane, a list so long, but just the first few on the list places weight in my heart. Thankfully, there is good--mercy, hope, help, kindness. I am one voice among the many, but my voice counts. My choice how to use my voice counts. Like all artists, there is so much pushing up under me. I must allow this art a place, and hopefully, like a fine poet who was called to throw a stone at a giant, I will take down the enemies of my age.

Artists are outliers. I like to do the math. We have about 318 million people in our country. 2.5 million work in all the arts (I'm including the part-timers and unemployed). 7 in 1000 are artists. I'm a writer, and we are really rare birds: 4 in 10000 or so are writers. This is why you have friends all over the world, and you have a difficult time finding folks in the neighborhood who are working on their craft. Even if we are rare, we are mighty.

Art is mightier than any sword because it changes the minds of others without having to lift the sword. We keep hurling our bombs at each other in hopes that the other side will see our point of view. Really?  As a mother, I can tell you hurling rocks will never change the heart. You may defeat your enemies, causing them to hang their heads with bitterness but you will not change them. Non-violent change is true road for everyone, not just the oppressed.

Not everyone producing art is trying to pull the good water out of the human groundwater. Art can be full of good or not. It can laced with terror or laced with kindness. Don't be a con-artist. Regardless though, it's better to put your ideas on a page and think about them, than to force them down the throat of your neighbors at the point of a gun, sword, etc. Don't worry about stopping the foul wells. They don't bring life and people will leave them. We need water to live.

So here it is artist: Use your words. Use your pictures. Use your song. Use you dance. Use every way you can communicate an idea, but if you use your fists, your shouts, your better ways to throw rocks and fire, you will fail. You will always fail.  If you are a well-spring of art, know that you are the only one who is working in a way that will bring forth true change. We are the revolutionary who bring forth sudden, complete, and marked change! Yay!

Change the world for the better, folks. I will be back with more Uplift next week.

Here is a doodle for you: Open Door.

A quote for your pocket:
I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity. Martin Luther King

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9. 6 Young Adult Books That Use Illustrations

Is it possible to grow out of picture books? Because I HAVEN’T YET. The highlight of my week is taking my pre-schooling niece and nephew to the library and getting to reread all my favourite childhood picture books. Young Adult books are totally missing out. Seriously. But there are some YA books that make use of art and […]

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10. Tonight to do: Star Wars: The Art of John Cassaday at Metropolis Gallery

Star Wars art from the best selling, year best Star Wars #1. The force is strong with this gallery. Metropolis opened earlier this year, and this will be our first time checking it out. They have a Masters f Fantasy show still up as well. Owners Vincent Zurzolo, Jr and Robert Pistella have great access […]

1 Comments on Tonight to do: Star Wars: The Art of John Cassaday at Metropolis Gallery, last added: 11/14/2015
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11. Harry Potter Graphic Art by MinaLima Exhibition in London

MinaLima, the graphic artists behind the splendor of the magical Harry Potter films is opening an exhibit in London. The Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films exhibition will be open from Monday, November 30, to Saturday, December 19, at The Coningsby Gallery, Fitzrovia. Admission to the exhibition is free.

In the exhibition, fans will be able to get a close up look at the visual designs that brought the Harry Potter world to life on screen. Fans will be able to see details of the artworks as originally created for the films, as well as process of how these designs came to be and changes that occurred along the way. The artworks will be displayed chronologically.

As MinaLima designed the Daily Prophet, the Marauder’s Map, and many other graphic props, WB’s Leavesden Studio Tour will be loaning the exhibition original and authentic film props from Harry Potter Studio Tour. All artwork displayed was designed at Leavesden Film Studios between 2002 and 2010.

After the films finished, MinaLima continued their work with the Harry Potter franchise, designing the streets and stores of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The press release talks of MinaLima’s work, saying:


As the designers of the Marauder’s Map, The Daily Prophet and every other graphic prop in the film series, Miraphora and Eduardo have an exceptional and passionate understanding of the Harry Potter films.

With the designs being an integral part of the storytelling, MinaLima’s attention to detail is paramount in their work. Much historical research and experimentation with techniques is employed, from finding the perfect ageing effects to scanning old typefaces and peculiar surfaces to enrich their visual reference library.


Prints of artwork and other memorabilia will be available for purchase at the exhibition. The press release for the exhibition states:


This exhibition showcases graphic designs from Warner Bros. Pictures’ Harry Potter films by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, reproduced as limited edition art prints which will be for sale.”

“All printed in England, the prints use pigment inks on 300gsm Hahnemuhle fine art paper. Each print is edition numbered and embossed, and comes with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Some editions are embellished with hand finished metallic foiling. Artworks can be purchased either framed or unframed at the exhibition, and can be shipped worldwide. Also for sale at the exhibition will be Hogwarts prop replica notebooks and postcard sets from MinaLima’s collection.


Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 6.28.53 PM

The Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films exhibition is open every day from: Monday 30th November 2015 to Saturday 19th December 2015 inclusive. Free entry.

Check gallery website for opening times: www.coningsbygallery.com

Private view: Monday 30th November 6.30 to 9pm

The Coningsby Gallery: 30 Tottenham Street, London W1T 4RJ; Tel no +44 (0) 20 7636 7478

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12. Let's Do the Twist: How to Be Both by Ali Smith

I've been meaning to catch up with Ali Smith's novels for a while now, having previously only read Hotel World, and so when it came time this summer to formulate reading lists for my PhD qualifying exams, I stuck How to Be Both on the fiction section for the Queer Studies list. (This also explains why I was writing about The Invaders recently...)

How to Be Both turns out to be even more appropriate to my Queer Studies studies than I'd suspected from reading reviews, and it shows how the structures of fiction can be at least as provocative and productive as certain types of social and political philosophy. How to Be Both is generally a very readable, enjoyable book — in some ways deceptively so. In that, it reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's best books, which manage to play with some complex ideas in light, entertaining ways. (Smith's novel would make a marvelous companion to Vonnegut's Mother Night in a course on the novel and history...) How to Be Both does quite a lot to challenge ideas of time, history, language, and various normativities, but it does so without collapsing into vagueness, abstraction, or pedantry; quite the opposite. It bears its own paradoxes far better than many works of vaunted critical theory, which end up, at their worst, sputtering out in abstraction and self-parody, like a Mad Libs version of an Oscar Wilde epigram.

Over the last ten years or so, there's been discussion among Queer Studies folks of queer temporality and historicism — the effect of contemporary vocabulary ("queer", "gay", "lesbian", "homosexual", "transgender") on a past that used different words and ideas; the relationship of past behaviors and ideas to present ones; the political power of the past for the present; the similarity or difference of past worlds to our own; how we express such similarity/difference; the experience of history as a queer person; etc. (Of course, the roots of this conversation go way back, but there have been particular spins on it recently.)

In 2013, Valerie Traub published a significant response to some of the more prominent discussions of these ideas, particularly among Renaissance scholars: "The New Unhistoricism in Queer Studies" (to which there was more response later), which is a relatively accessible entry point to some strands of discussion. Here's a bit of Traub:
Rather than practice “queer theory as that which challenges all categorization” ... there remain ample reasons to practice a queer historicism dedicated to showing how categories, however mythic, phantasmic, and incoherent, came to be. To understand the arbitrary nature of coincidence and convergence, of sequence and consequence, and to follow them through to the entirely contingent outcomes to which they contributed: this is not a historicism that creates categories of identity or presumes their inevitability; it is one that seeks to explain such categories’ constitutive, pervasive, and persistent force. Resisting unwarranted teleologies while accounting for resonances and change will bring us closer to achieving the dificult and delicate balance of apprehending historical sameness and difference, continuism and alterity, that the past, as past, presents to us. The more we honor this balance, the more complex and circumspect will be our comprehension of the relative incoherence and relative power of past and present conceptual categories, as well as of the dynamic relations among subjectivity, sexuality, and historiography.
Ali Smith's novel explores and even embodies this discussion, and does so in many ways that both the unhistoricists and the historicists seek to valorize. And it's more fun to read than their essays.

First, there is the form: The book tells two different stories, with one being the first half of the text and the other the second half. Which is which depends on the particular copy of the book you get — half of them begin with the story of the painter Francescho [or Francesco] del Cossa, the other half begin with the story of George (short for Georgia), a teenager in contemporary England whose mother has recently died. (The e-book apparently allows you to choose which order you want.) The copy I have out from the library begins with George, which seems to me to be the friendliest, easiest entry point, because the Francescho section begins much more lyrically, and it takes pages to get your bearings. It all makes sense once you know the situation and various references, but you don't really get to know those until later, so for a while the Francescho section just seems like rambling nonsense. (It is rambling; it isn't nonsense.) The opening of the George section is, on the other hand, quite marvelous and engaging. I zoomed through the whole 186 pages of that part quickly and with pleasure. It took longer for me to get interested in the Francescho section, but in some ways that one proves to be the richer and more satisfying, which is another reason I'm pleased to have read it as the second half rather than the first.

Some reviewers have speculated about the different ways readers could interpret the texts based on which they read first, but I'm not sure the difference is so much in interpretation as it is in expectation and in the reading experience itself. The pacing of the two sections is different, and so the book will feel different if you read one first rather than the other. There are connections you'll make differently based on which you read first, but I'm not sure how much that really matters except in the moment of reading, since once you turn the last page, you've got all the information as a set in your mind. For instance, the Francescho section gives us the story behind some paintings that are speculated about in the George section, and so reading the George section second would cause you to compare the speculations to the story you know from the Francescho section. I didn't feel it was a significant difference to encounter those stories second, since they are already presented in the George section as speculation, so I didn't read them as anything except the guesses and imaginings of the characters, which is what you still read them as even when you know other stories behind the paintings.

One thing uniting the academic historicists and unhistoricists is a sharp suspicion, and sometimes outright rejection, of teleology. (Traub: "Since around 2005 a specter has haunted the field in which I work: the specter of teleology. ... A teleological perspective views the present as a necessary outcome of the past—the point toward which all prior events were trending.") This is a problem for anybody writing a narrative, because narrative is purposeful, and most narratives are aimed toward their conclusions. For a long time, the whole idea of a well-wrought story has been one where, in fact, the conclusion is indeed "the point toward which all prior events were trending." A carefully constructed plot is, pretty much by definition, teleological.

Various Modernist writers tried to escape the teleological properties of narrative through disjunction, juxtaposition, impressionism, and surrealism, but teleology proved hard to escape except in the most abstract writing, or in works where it literally doesn't matter what order you read things in (e.g. Hopscotch or The Unfortunates) — although even then, in the assembling of meaning, the reader is still likely to impose a teleology at the end, even if the author has used a form that itself makes no such imposition. We want, as readers, to say that where we ended up is a direct result of where we began. It's a pretty unsatisfying story if the conclusion isn't in relationship to what came before, and preferably a relationship of causality and purpose. Even if the narrative itself works hard to escape teleology, there's still the matter of the writer's purpose in constructing that narrative.

In the early 20th century, a lot of the more avant-garde writers sought to create works that did not promote a particular moral idea or lesson (one hallmark of teleology), but more often than not this led to a new sort of purposefulness embedded in the text (if not a chronological text, then a chronological reading experience infused with a sense of purpose). (For more on this, see "Modernism and the Emancipation of Literature from Morality: Teleology and Vocation in Joyce, Ford, and Proust" by David Sidorsky. It's from 1983, but I haven't seen anything more recent that does a better job of really digging in to the question of Modernist narrative and teleology.) How to Be Both doesn't escape teleology, but it does play around with it, creating anti-teleological effects that work beautifully because they're embedded like booby traps and surprise parties in the narrative. We get the anti-teleological effects and we get the inescapable, purposeful, and even linear, movement inherent to storytelling.

Additionally, How to Be Both manages to question identity categories without pretending that identity is an unimportant concept. Past and present become interestingly different and similar, readable and prone to misreadings. In that, it's perhaps squaring some of the circles proposed by queer theory in the last ten or fifteen years.

Here's a key passage from one of the essays that Traub responds to most fully, "Queering History" by Jonathan Goldberg and Madhavi Menon:
...the challenge for queer Renaissance studies today is twofold: one, to resist mapping sexual difference onto chronological difference such that the difference between past and present becomes also the difference between sexual regimes; and two, to challenge the notion of a determinate and knowable identity, past and present. Even if the model of past alterity were to be replaced with a model of past similarity—sodomy is similar to rather than different from current regimes of homosexuality—that similarity should lead not to identity but rather to the non-self-identical nonpresent. To queer the Renaissance would thus mean not only looking for alternative sexualities in the past but also challenging the methodological orthodoxy by which past and present are constrained and straitened; it would mean resisting the strictures of knowability itself, whether those consist of an insistence on teleological sequence or textual transparency. This version of homohistory thus does not necessarily refer to homosexuality at all. Rather, it suggests the impossibility of the final difference between, say, sodomy and homosexuality, even as it gestures toward the impossibility of final definition that both concepts share. Paying attention to the question of sexuality as a question involves violating the notion that history is the discourse of answers, a discourse whose commitment to determinate signification, Jacques Rancière has argued, provides false closure, blocking access to the multiplicity of the past and to the possibilities of different futures.
Gesturing toward the impossibility of final definition is one way to express some of what How to Be Both is up to. The past in this novel is full of multiplicity and there's very little closure of any sort, whether "false closure" or not — even death is not closure, because a ghostly consciousness survives to narrate.

I haven't done a search of the text, but I don't think any words for sexual identity appear in it (if they do, they don't do so in a memorable way, at least for me). It's a small item, but an important one: what we make of the relationships in either story is up to us, and so the characters' identities remain more conceptually open in our minds than they would were they even to be labelled as queer — unless, of course, we impose our own labels on them, which is a move the text itself playfully parodies in the Francescho section, where Francescho's gender bending is accepted and explained by saying "he's a painter", with the word painter easily standing in for whatever deviation from social norms is discussed.

Francescho, for instance, is morphologically female, but functions socially as a man by wearing men's clothes and working in a male profession. How to Be Both is one of the more interesting accounts of historical cross dressing that I've read because it is generally so blasé about that cross dressing. (And by "historical", I don't mean "historically accurate" — hardly anything is known of the actual Francescho del Cossa, and there is no indication that he was identified as a woman at birth. More on this in a moment.) Francescho becomes Francescho after her mother's death, when her father proposes that she could wear her brothers' clothes and thus go to school and eventually apprentice to an artist. She shows great talent, but as a woman would have no possibility of training or opportunity to get art commissions. The solution to that problem is to stop being a woman. This has little to do with the body and everything to do with clothing and presentation. This is clearest at the moment where Francescho's best friend, Barto, is told that Francescho is a woman. His surprise and feeling of betrayal is a surprise to Francescho (who has the annoying habit of using "cause" for "because"):
Cause there'd been many times when Barto'd seen me naked or near-naked, by ourselves swimming, say, or with other boys and young men too and the general acceptance of my painter self had always meant I'd been let to be exactly that — myself — no matter that in 1 difference I was not the same : it was as simple as agreement, as understood and accepted and as pointless to mention as the fact that we all breathed the same air : but there are certain things that, said out loud, will change the hues of a picture like a too-bright sunlight continually hitting it will : this is natural and inevitable and nothing can be done about it...
Here, the speaking of difference creates the difference. Barto only becomes angry with Francescho for "lying" about gender when he is told by someone else that Francesco has been "false":
Is it true? he said. You've been false? All these years?

I have never not been true, I said.

Me not knowing, he said. You not you.

You've known me all along, I said. I've never not been me.

You lied, he said.

Never, I said. And I have never hidden anything from you.
This is not a moment in which identity is obliterated or even especially fluid, and yet it's also far more complex than one in which a contemporary category is imposed on the past. Identity exists in various forms: "my painter self" is not a false self, but a modified, incomplete self (incomplete in that it is not the whole self, which is probably unutterable if not inconceivable). A good friend, such as Barto here, is going to know a person in a way that moves beyond categories, but also in a way that is constrained by circumstances, experiences, and assumptions — just as our own knowledge of our self is constrained by circumstances, experiences, and assumptions. In the brief bit of dialogue above, knowability is both asserted and shown to be inevitably incomplete. What is "natural and inevitable and nothing can be done about it" is not identity or sexuality or self or other, but rather the effect of what is spoken about identity, sexuality, self, and other. Words create worlds.

The George section approaches all this in an entirely different way. It's set around 2014 in Cambridge, and it tells a variety of stories, including the story of George's mourning for her mother, who was an economist, writer, and internet provocateur. George's memories of her mother are memories of conversations that often involves words and meanings. (George is an aspiring grammar pedant, which both riles and amuses her mother.) It also tells the story of George's awakening desire for her friend Helena (whose friends call her H), a precocious, lively young woman who opens other worlds to George.

Again and again throughout this section, words and their meanings flow and shift playfully. George is a nickname for Georgia, and there's a wonderful perceptual effect to reading a story in which a rather male name is attached to a rather female character — by the time she's called "Georgia" by someone, it seems awfully formal and in many ways just plain wrong.

Time and perception are slippery throughout the novel, and they are slippery because of the effect of time on living. The George section begins:
Consider this moral conundrum for a moment, George's mother says to George who's sitting in the passenger seat.

Not says. Said.

George's mother is dead.

What moral conundrum? George says.

The passenger seat in the hire car is strange, being on the side the driver's seat is on at home. This must be a bit like driving is, except without the actual, you know, driving.

Okay. You're an artist, her mother says.

Am I? George says. Since when? And is that a moral conundrum?

Ha ha, her mother says. Humour me. Imagine it. You're an artist.

This conversation is happening last May, when George's mother is still alive, obviously. She's been dead since September. Now it's January, to be more precise it's just past midnight on New Year's Eve, which means it has just become the year after the year in which George's mother died.
Look at all that! All the doubling, all the slippage, all the revising of perceptions! We start reading with, probably, the reasonable assumption that George is a boy, and thus the "You're an artist, her mother says" comes as a surprise and makes us, perhaps, reread the first few lines, or at least reconfigure the image (however tentative) of George in our mind. (The exact same thing happens, though for different reasons and different assumptions, with Francescho's ghost, who is the narrator in the other section. The ghost sees George in a museum and, for reasons of changes in fashion, etc., assumes it's a boy. "This boy is a girl," Francescho writes at the beginning of the second chapter of the section.) Then there is the struggle with tense: present goes to past, and the final paragraph I've quoted adds (vertiginously) more precision, though the effect on the tenses is even more twisty: the conversation is (present tense) happening in the past. Twisty, too, is the effect of imagination, which, as a companion to words, creates worlds: George as artist, George as driver.

Twisty: It's a recurring idea in the book, most heavily but not exclusively in the George section. There's the song and the dance of The Twist. There's also DNA: George's home of Cambridge is also home to the Cavendish Laboratory (The book notes that the twisty structure of DNA was not just discovered by the famous men, but also by Rosalind Franklin). Ideas, identities, worlds twist and interrelate.

Here we have, then, not teleology so much as interrelationship. Not linear progress, but temporal parallels. Not an arrow from the past pointed at the future, but a dance of partners. Perceived separately, they are one thing. Perceived together they are one thing else. Separate, yes, but also together. Different, yes, but also a same. Both.

Late in the Francescho section, Barto offers two cups of water to Francescho to help overcome sadness and anxiety: one cup, he says, holds water of forgetting, one cup holds water of remembering. They come from the same jug, which perplexes Francescho:
So it's the cups of forgetting and remembering and has nothing to do with the water?

No, it's the water, he said. You have to drink the water.

How can the same water be both? I said.

It's a good question, he said. The kind of thing I'd expect you to ask. So. Ready? So first you drink—.

It would mean that forgetting and remembering are really both the same thing, I said.

Don't split hairs with me, he said.
How to be both is what we need to learn, and what we need to learn to perceive. There's a certain monadism to it: everything is, ultimately, one ... and yet to survive, to make sense of the world, to function from day to day, to speak and dream and desire ... we have to have separates. The water is one, and it is not one.

Don't split hairs, though. Intention matters, reception matters, perception matters. Labels matter: This is the water of forgetting because we both agree it is the water of forgetting, not because of its origin or its biological properties. Barto doesn't pay close attention to which cup he said was which, and when he and Francescho can't agree on which was poured as the water of forgetting and which as the water of remembering, they have to start over. Which is which is a social fact, and that means they have to agree on which is which for the water to do what it is supposed to do, because what it is supposed to do depends on their mutual perception. Their perceptions must dance together, must twist and helix.

It isn't all just fun and games. Perceptions create realities, and not always good ones. Francescho is paid less than male painters by a Duke because the Duke likes male painters best and has found out that Francescho is physically female. He doesn't like Francescho less as a painter, but instead values him less as a him. (This whole incident is then perceived differently by George and her mother — it is the moral conundrum of the opening, but it is not the moral conundrum it was in Francescho's time because George and her mother do not know that Francescho was perceived by the Duke as a woman painter, and thus less captivating to his desires. The moral conundrum of payment, self-worth, ego, and skill is, though, one well worth thinking about and talking through, even if it is not the one that Francescho was thinking about and talking through. It is both.)

This brings us then to the question of what we do about the past. What can be known, and what do we impose? Is Smith wrong about the real Francescho del Cossa? Yes, no, neither, both. Anything said about del Cossa beyond the very few known facts is wrong, or at least fictional, a matter of speculation. To speak is to create a story, to impose a viewpoint on the past, no matter how objective you try to be, because to speak the past is to narrate the past, to move from isolated facts to connected history. Speculation may not help us know the past, because the past may lie beyond knowability, but speculation can help us know ourselves as we imagine we know the past, and there is value in that.

Knowability isn't only a matter of the past, as How to Be Both shows. We perhaps assume we know the present and the people close to us, but strangeness (even queerness) is everywhere. This is what I take to be the purpose of the mysterious character of Lisa Goliard, whom George tries to fix an identity on: Was she her mother's friend? A fan? A lover? The book never answers these questions definitivey. Lisa Goliard remains a free-floating signifier from George's mother's life. She can be seen, even surveilled, but not known. Her story is outside George's story, no matter how much George wants to twist it into her own. She is what can't be known, what can't be pinned down, even in the present. History knows more of Francescho than George is able to know of Lisa Goliard, a living woman whom she's able to spy on. But seeing — perceiving — is not the same as knowing. The two sections of the book have icons, and the icon for the George section is a surveillance camera. The icon for the Francescho section is del Cossa's own drawing of eyes on flower petals. Sight via technology, site via nature, art, and whimsy. Both forms of sight are incomplete mediations.

Perspective, too, matters: "It's as if," George thinks after looking a long time at a painting, "just passing from one side of the saint to the other will result if you go one way in wholeness and if you go the other in brokenness." She adds: "Both states are beautiful." It's a theme throughout the book, expressed again and again: doubleness, perception, beauty. It's the twistiness encoded in DNA and in art. The book itself is like a fresco that has been painted over or a canvas that has accumulated multiple pictures. Francescho learns this lesson early when watching a master painter work:
and from looking at whose works I learned
the open mouths of horses,
the rise of light in a landscape,
the serious nature of lightness,
and how to tell a story, but tell it more than one way at once, and tell another underneath it up-rising through the skin of it
Prose struggles to tell a story more than one way at once, since we read linearly. But that idea of a story underneath another story, rising up through the skin — that idea is woven into this book's form, a book that suggests the idea is also woven into the form of our selves, if we take the time to look. Art and life do not need to be separate:
I like very much a foot, say, or a hand, coming over the edge and over the frame into the world beyond the picture, cause a picture is a real thing in the world and this shift is a marker of this reality : and I like a figure to shift into that realm between the picture and the world just like I like a body really to be present under painted clothes where something, a breast, a chest, an elbow, a knee, presses up from beneath and brings life to a fabric : I like an angel's knee particularly, cause holy things are worldly too and it's not a blasphemy to think so, just a further understanding of the realness of holy things.
The ideas, though, continue to twist, because to Francescho, these are just "mere mundane pleasures", and what really matters is (of course) a matter of "2 opposing things at once":
The one is, it lets the world be seen and understood.

The other is, it unchains the eyes and the lives of those who see it and gives them a moment of freedom, from its world and from their world both.
And there we have it. How to Be Both is, in fact, both.

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13. LOVE IS….

Un altro assaggino :D

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14. Poetry Friday: Growth Spurt

The Poetry Seven's assignment this month was simple: Write a poem inspired by an image.  (Technically, it's called ekphrastic poetry.) We all used the same image, plucked specially for us from the magpie-marvelous collection of Tanita Davis.


(Source: lowpresssure, via baikuken)

Growth Spurt

Hold your tongue, they said.
Unable to grasp how such a
delicate hand as my own could
hold such a large and dextrous muscle,
I laughed.

First discovery:
Laughter is mighty exercise
for the tongue.

Have a care, they said.
But I could not nibble at care—at the metallic whiff
of the bit approaching, my tongue bucked
words, flinging them upright and uncleft
into the wild.

Second discovery:
Language multiplies the reach
of the tongue.

Quit jawboning, they said.
But, by now, my head—enlarged by the excavations
of my tongue—was naught but a bony bloom;
the world, whispering back,

Third discovery:
I was not alone
but one of many tongues.

Hush now, they said. Hear our prayers.
Their too-small devotions brushed my skin,
worms turning dirt. I shot to the sky,
a hot-house flower, all of me muscled as
         my tongue.

Together, we made the

Fourth discovery:
        I knelt; they held
        my heart, thrumming.

                      ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

I tried not to look at what my poetry sisters wrote for the same image until I was done with mine, but OH! Wow. Go look now:

Tricia (Happy 9th blog anniversary!)

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Katya at Write. Sketch. Repeat.

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15. Shower Thoughts: The Art of Finishing

A long time ago, before I was telling my stories with illustrations and words, I was a telling them through the use of moving pictures, I was an aspiring filmmaker.

It all started when a friend and I decided we would be the next Tarantino; break out filmmakers, creating cutting edge film. But instead of spending thousands of dollars on film school, we took what little money we had and we were going to do it guerilla style, the indie way.

In the next few months, we drafted a screenplay, auditioned actors, scouted locations, purchased equipment and started filming. We even came up with a hollywood sounding name for our troupe, “The Yuzzi Brothers.” And since we couldn’t take a few months out of our day jobs to make the movie, we wrote a story that took place at night. It would be one of the most intense times of my life. We typically filmed from 8pm to 3am, with just enough sleep to go to work that same morning. Caffeine had become my best friend. A year later, we finally finished our movie and showed it in theaters, in all its flawed glory.

Looking back at the romanticized version of those events, I could honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life. We learned a lot about ourselves and about the industry, yet it was not without its challenges. We had actors & crew members who dropped out, our equipment was stolen, myriad of technical issues, schedule conflicts and even injuries. And when you’re on the 8th month of a production, you start to question yourself and your project (or your spouse would). We could have easily given up at any point, but we did not. We kept telling ourselves that we needed to finish.

Starting something new is exciting & fun. And let’s be honest, it’s probably the easiest part. The endless daydreaming of a new project gives us a sense of euphoria. But once the tire hits the pavement and the daily grind of our life gets in the way, that’s when we’re really tested. Self-doubt begins to manifest and we start looking for the off-ramp. We question our ideas, we procrastinate, we revise endlessly. We’re stuck in a never ending loop between unlived expectations and our limited abilities to meet them.

It’s only natural we should strive for perfection. But perfection is that golden goose that if you look at it long enough, it turns into an ugly duckling. That is, in fact, an important part of what makes us creatives. And as we grow and get better, we look back at our work and see the flaws. Yet it’s also important not to get stuck, to keep moving forward, to finish. That is how we grow. I know artists who actually don’t start anything, fearing that the end result will never live up to their expectations. It’s quite unfortunate.

When I feel dismayed, I go back to the reasons why I started. It’s much like reminiscing about my carefree childhood days. Everything seemed possible. I look for that seed of inspiration and use it to re-ignite my inner locomotive.

Sometimes, I realize that I am at that moment in my life incapable of telling the story or drawing that picture. I simply lack the life experience or skills to do so. This doesn’t mean that my idea is lost in the woods, never to be seen. It just means that I can put it in my back pocket and come back to it later. And trust me, I have many of those.

When we were working on our movie, there were so many variables that was ultimately out of our control. We relied on so many people, and to be able to keep it going for a year, and to finish was quite a miraculous thing.

Contrasting that to my current endeavor of writing and illustrating, where everything is really on my shoulders, gives me a unique perspective and set of expectations. I really have no excuse not to finish. It’s all on me. And If I have to spend time away from my family to work on my craft, then I better make it count.

Finishing is important. Once you’ve experienced completing a project that you’ve poured your life into, you stand among the few who have “made it.” You can tip your fedora to the naysayers and show them that you’ve done what you’ve set out to do. You’ve kept your word, your promise; even if it’s just to yourself.

Those who finish are the ones who inspire me the most, because I know how hard it is to get to that point. Not everyone can be a breakout overnight success, but we can sure break out of our walls and create something amazing, and it all starts with mastering the art of finishing.

So put on that thinking cap, adjust your monocle, get a jug of coffee, and dust off that manuscript or picture book. It’s calling your name.

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16. Nice, we mean, AWESOME art: Michael Cho does Marvel February variants

The Beat has been a fan of Michael Cho's spot-on duo-tone illustrations for about as long as there has been a Beat. And now he's doing a full month of Marvel variants? How awesome can you get? Here's what we have thus far:

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17. bits and pieces....

from the last 12 days (a.k.a my *excuse* for not blogging for almost 2 weeks-yikes!).

matting and framing donation prints....

peeks, peepers and petals....

backgrounding blues and greens....

black and blue....

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18. To Do: Seth’s “Nothing Lasts” exhibit at Adam Baumgold

If you know anything of the work of Canadian cartoonist Seth, you know that him giving an exhibit of his art the gloomy title "Nothing Lasts" is quite appropriate. But it should be lovely. Details and a preview here.. Bonus daily showing of Seth's Dominiom an award winning documentary about the artist by Luc Chamberland that was produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

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19. 31 Days of Halloween: 1 million vintage images from the British Library

This isn't actually Halloween related but there is plenty that is spooky or ethereal in the massive trove of images that the British Library has uploaded to it's Flickr account. Some 1 million of them in fact. There's a page with various albums, including maps, children's book illustrations, historical events and so on. And yes comics, mostly broadsheet cartoons. The images have been cataloged and tagged by online volunteers from images that were automatically uploaded.

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20. Mia Charro

nature-always1 all-you-need-cat1 puppy1 be-the-change1 

Mia Charro is a spanish illustrator and children’s book author, who is inspired by nature, fairytales and magic. Her illustrations are very whimsical, highlighting her love for the outdoors. When she’s not illustrating she loves nothing more than walking through the woods and writing.

Find out more about this great illustrator at her website and blog

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21. Thinking of Kepler on the beach

Johannes Kepler, the astronomer who famously discovered that planets move in ellipses, presents an exceptional case we can reconstruct. Kepler got his assistant to paint an image of himself for a friend. This was just before Kepler stored up all his belongings to move his family back from Austria to Germany. His aged mother had been accused of witchcraft.

The post Thinking of Kepler on the beach appeared first on OUPblog.

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22. Impressionable Portraits

Long ago, in a land far, far away (okay, like a few streets away...literally) I used to sit and draw conté portraits in a mall. My boyfriend at the time worked for a shop, who allowed me to sit right in front offering my services. At the time I did it because I could and it made me a little money during high school. But to be honest, I didn't see it as something to rave about or be excited about.

c. 1999

Fast forward almost 20 years, and I can tell you that my view on portraiture has changed...dramatically.

Hand drawn portraiture brings a perspective, quality, and etherial impression a photograph lacks without professional editing. And this is exactly what I hope to bring to you. The act of drawing a portrait is very personal, challenging, and a HUGE honor and gift given to me as the artist.

I have this daydream to hand draw children, friends, and family into fairies and angels. I am starting this new service using colored pencil while I build my watercolor techniques in this subject matter. The idea behind Impressionable Portraits is they are lifelike, and look very close to the realistic photo, but with a hint of whimsy and sketchiness found only in drawing. They are not intended to be photo realistic, but definitely to look a lot like the person being drawn.

c. 2015

I am currently taking commission requests for these portraits, and still have room to get some done before the Christmas holiday. They take about a week to create. Please visit my request page, fill out the information form, and in the subject line write "Impressionable Portrait".

These are 5x7 inch colored pencil drawings for a flat fee of $200. Sprayed and matted in a white mat, ready to be placed in an 8x10 frame.

All I need is the photo, if it's fairy or angel wings, color palette, and something of interest to the individual. 

It's my wish to provide an image filled with wonder, joy, and light around a person you love dearly. As a gift, or for yourself.

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23. DC reveals some new Dark Knight III art…and the big twist in the first issue (Spoilers)

After remaining pathologically tight lipped at their NYCC appearances—even a small elite media only press event—Dark Knight III workmen Brian Azzarello and Andy Kubert spill the beans on the big plot twist of the event comic in an interview at CBR. And the story element is in fact the one that I heard was the genesis for the entire storyline. And would have made a nice surprise for those reading the story. I'm curious as to why DC didn't even try to keep it under wraps. I guess they knew that it would be spoiled and wanted to get ahead of it?

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24. Who

Hallo, who's there?
Hallo, who?
Hallowhoot, and have a happy hoot!



Little Owl Lost - Chris Haughton
A Book of Sleep - Il Sung Na
Little Owl's Night - Divya Srinivasan
Peek-a-Who  by Nina Laden
Owl Moon - Jane Yolen, John Schoenherr
Owl Babies - Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson
Owl at Home - Arnold Lobel

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25. 24 Hours of Halloween: The Classics

2 Comments on 24 Hours of Halloween: The Classics, last added: 11/2/2015
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