Why Minimalism. February 09, 2015 12:39
There are many forms and, I'm sure, many definitions of minimalism. There is minimalism in visual art, minimalism in lifestyle, minimalism in architecture...you get the idea. While the margins of this term may be up for debate, the core principle they all seem to share is the use of only what is necessary. Superfluity be damned! Where they seem to differ, at least in my opinion, is their perception of what is necessary. This distinction is probably true for every strata of these different categories and its often left to the user or implementor to determine what is right for them. For me, that is the process of dissolving information to its simplest form and conveying only what is necessary.
"What do you call this?!"
After years of being asked to describe my painting style and having tried on every word or phrase I could think of, none of them seemed quite right. Every title or descriptor left something unsaid. People have used pointillism, well that seems logical, but what about the structure I've implemented that is so different from traditional pointillism? I've heard contemporary, of course, but what about all the history that goes into each subject? It was all too specific and too general at the same time, if that's possible. It seemed like it would take so many words to describe it that it had the makings of the worst tagline ever. And even if Einstein's quote isn't always true, I'm sure there are some things that can't be simplified, I still subscribe to the idea of it. Not only did it completely go against the idea of minimalism, but if it took me a dozen words to describe my style, maybe I didn't fully understand it yet.
Minimalism: enter stage left. As with my paintings, this process led me back to my roots in the architecture field. There is so much to be gained from the design process and I've always had such an appreciation for architectural history (I'm sure that's a huge revelation – TMZ are you gettting this?!). That's when I started thinking of the minimalistic movement. It is specific and yet all encompassing for me. It speaks to not only my art, but to my life and to me as a person. For this blog's purposes I'll only go into how it relates to my artwork. To find out the rest it will cost you coffee. Expensive coffee.
Does minimalism describe every aspect of my artwork - no. But if I asked you how you feel about your significant other, and you replied "they have brown hair", even though that may be true, it tells me nothing of the whole picture. But if you replied "they're the best!", it tells me nothing of what they look like, but I would have a deeper and more rounded perception of who they are in response to my question. So, in the interest of picking my battles, I'm aiming for the latter.
What is left. Not what is missing.
There is this notion that minimalism means using nothing. Get rid of everything! Empty room. One chair. Voila! Je suis un minimaliste! But it's so much more than that. Minimalism is not a lack of stuff, but the presence of only what is necessary. It's a simplified mass, not a void.
While researching this I found a graphic that said “Minimalism – just another word for sensory deprivation”. And even though the poster was being ironic, there are a lot of people who actually feel that way (which is why it's funny of course) - that it has to be stark and cold. But there are so many questions in response to that sentiment. What if the purpose of the room was sensory deprivation? If so, then brava! If it was not the purpose, then in my opinion it is not minimalism. Historically, minimalism has actually taken into account the human experience of light, air and nature as much as it has white couches and lone chairs. What could be more sensory than our interaction with the natural elements and the invisible qualities of a space?
This gets back to those gray areas I was talking about though, those blurry margins and user specific interpretations. I don't believe that a minimalistic space or painting should do anything more or less than what it is intended to do. If a room is supposed to feel inviting, then you add what is necessary to accomplish that, but no more. If a painting is supposed to be representative of something, I want to use the minimal amount of information you would need to perceive it, but no more. One of the original ideas of the movement was that “no design could be improved upon by taking anything else away”. You have boiled it down to that exact precipice. I try to reach a point in my painting where taking one dot away makes it impossible to see the subject, then I put that dot back in, but no more. That's how I know I'm there.
This graphic sort of sums up that idea. Is the building on the left a simple house? Yes. But do you need anything more than what is on the right to perceive that it is a house?
To me, there is something so beautiful about using only what is required. From a stewardship perspective to an artistic one, it's a challenge that I enjoy. There are so many cultures (Japanese culture played a large role) and of course famous architects that really brought these ideas to the forefront of design. And while I know it's not everyone's style, I hope it helps to better understand mine. Hand painted minimalism.
Should you CHOOSE happiness? Yes, but only if there are limited options. October 01, 2014 00:00
We’re trained to think that having options is the quickest way to being happy. If you could have ANY job you wanted…if you could have ANY paint color…the possibilities are endless. But what if giving ourselves so many options is putting our contentment at risk? Who is more content, the person who can choose any job or the person who has never had to think about what job he would do? After you paint a room, how many times do you go back and question whether it was the right color, out of the hundreds of options? How often do you do that with your car color (when there were only 5 options)? I’m not saying one is better than the other, in fact I think they’re both vital, but instead I’m just positing a notion.
Watched a fascinating TED Talk on The Science of Happinessrecently that discussed exactly this topic. Dan Gilbert, the speaker, shows that when people were given multiple options, or a choice at all, they were much more likely to be unhappy with their decision – always questioning if they made the right one. Conversely, people who were only given one choice were surprisingly content. Why? Well, the answer I guess is in the statement – they had no other choice. They had to be content with their decision.
The other thing he mentioned that was interesting is that those people who didn’t have a choice, who CONVINCED themselves that they were happy with their choice, even though they never had one, were just as validly happy as someone who gained happiness, what we might consider, the “traditional” way. I think a lot of times our inclination is to pity someone who has convinced themselves that they are happy with an otherwise unfortunate choice or situation, but science has actually proven that they’re the lucky ones. It has shown that their “happiness” is as valuable as any other form. Pretty amazing what our mind is capable of.
Definitely Coming back next year September 01, 2014 00:00
Every year the shows in DC deliver as promised (knock on wood). Tons of art collectors, loads of history of course and, this year, some pretty amazing fall weather. This year the two DC shows that I typically do wound up being back-to-back, so we spent a little time, in between working, just being tourists. Even got to visit “Mount Vernon Manor”, which turned out to be a residential subdivision, courtesy of Apple Maps.
Perk of my job is visiting so many wonderful cities throughout the year. I always love how little I have to pack when I leave this one in particular.
Mocha is stylish, but brown is dreary. April 16, 2014 00:00
Yep, even the names of colors matter.
Up to 90% of snap judgments made about products are based on color alone. Or at least that’s what a recent study, “The Impact of Color Marketing”, found. It’s not just what the color does to us emotional, but do we feel that it is “appropriate” for it’s use (using green for a sustainability logo). Other factors such as upbringing, education, context and cultural differences play a key role in our perception (when you see a baby in blue – what do you think? Boy? Not in Belgium. Baby boys are put in pink and baby girls are put in blue.)
When you see green, does it make you calm? Does it make you think of nature? Does it make you think of money? All would be “correct” and show the numerous influences that factor into our color choices.
When I do certain shows, I sell more of certain colors than of others. Some things are generally obvious – I sell more bright colors in South Florida than I do in DC. Others are more specific – I did a show in Sarasota and every painting that sold had orange on it. Why? Who knows the exact reason, but I find it fascinating. Check out this article if you want to read more.
(The image at the top shows the findings of one of the better studies on gender specific color preferences: Joe Hallock’s Colour Assignments)
Thanks for thawing out just in time Atlanta! April 15, 2014 00:00
After a brutal winter in Atlanta, what better way to kick off this beautiful spring weather than with some outdoor festivals! The fun begins this weekend with the SPRING FESTIVAL ON PONCE followed by the 78TH ANNUAL DOGWOOD FESTIVAL. For Ponce I’ll be at booth #5 and for Dogwood I’ll be at booth #150. All of this information will also be posted on my events page.
Check my schedule for the rest of the Atlanta shows. Hope to see you there!
Are you an art expert? April 01, 2014 00:00
Think you would recognize if a painting was van Gogh vs. Monet? How about daVinci vs. Raphael? Follow this link to test your knowledge. I got an 11/15 and I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad yet.
Fantastic Winter Season in Florida March 01, 2014 00:00
So long Florida! I had a great round of shows this year in South Florida. Two on the east coast and two on the west. The weather cooperated, crowds were great and I was fortunate to meet lots of wonderful new clients!
I am going to sneak in one more Florida show in November in Sarasota, FL. Check out my events for details.
(The photo is of a historic St. Augustine beach. I haven’t done a show in St. Augustine, but I needed a Florida image and I’m a nerd for old photos – as you probably know by now.)
My thoughts on Placing a Value on Art, (for what they’re worth). December 01, 2013 21:34
Valuing a particular piece of art is often a very difficult and personal endeavor. While someone may be willing to spend thousands, or even millions of dollars on a particular piece of art, someone else may find it completely worthless. The act of purchasing real artwork is meant to be a very rewarding experience, and often extends far beyond the simple swipe of a credit card and the hammering of a nail into the wall.
If you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I wasn’t always a professional artist. While painting was always a part of my life, there was a long period of time where I never understood the value of purchasing real, authentic artwork, and honestly felt that it may be a hobby for the extremely wealthy. After all, owning an original piece of artwork is almost always more expensive than simply ordering a replica poster from the internet, right?
VALUE EXTENDS FAR BEYOND JUST THE DOLLAR
If you’ve never purchased an original piece of artwork before, you’re in for an amazing and eye opening experience. After you’ve installed your inaugural fine art piece into your home, I can almost guarantee you will reevaluate every replica or poster you’ve ever purchased, and will instantly bond with the piece.
Depending upon your budget and where you are in your life, purchasing artwork could symbolize your personal transition into a new phase of your life—perhaps financially, emotionally, or even professionally. You will thoroughly enjoy showing off your original art to friends and family, sharing the story behind how you discover this piece of artwork, and taking pride in knowing that you own something true and authentic in this world, that will never be replicated.
ART AS AN INVESTMENT
To be sure, many people collect art as a means for financial investment. As an artist’s career matures and they gain notoriety, the inherent value of the piece you bought some years ago steadily increases. Currently, my original artwork ranges in price from about $500 to $4000 and up for larger pieces or custom commissions. But purchasing artwork is also an investment in yourself. Every time you see the piece it should remind you of a pleasant experience—whether it was the purchasing act itself, a time in your life the subject matter reminds you of, or even the experience of getting to know the artist.
One of the most rewarding parts of purchasing original artwork is doing so directly from the artist, or at least having the chance to meet the artist (in gallery sales situations). Artwork and artist are really a total package, and you’re securing your own little slice of it when you decide to grow or start an art collection. I have sold pieces to many clients who had never purchased artwork before and were initially a bit reticent to step outside their budget comfort zone, only to find that looking back it was one of the best things they had chosen to spend money on.
Many people want to own original artwork, but simply cannot afford a four or five figure piece, which is absolutely understandable! Collecting artwork is a life-long journey, and like any journey it must begin somewhere.
While I am biased against simply throwing money toward endless poster acquisitions, a fantastic way to begin an art collection is to acquire signed, original limited edition prints. Often these pieces will be smaller and cheaper, but are also accompanied by the rich experience of getting to know an artist and following their career. Limited edition prints are just that—only a select few will ever be made, and if signed by the artist, can increase considerably in value over time.
Enjoy the Experience!
Owning original artwork should be an experience that brings joy and fulfillment every time you view your piece. Actively engage your local art community, trust your instinctive reaction to pieces you may love, don’t be afraid to ask the artist about a piece, and above all, always purchase a piece because you love it or the way it makes you feel.
LARGE Mural Installation in NY December 01, 2013 00:00
I was hired to work with Interior Designers and Commercial Real Estate Representatives to create a 10’x30′ mural. A brand new law office in the heart of downtown Buffalo, sits next to the site of the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. To people outside of Buffalo, myself included, maybe you haven’t heard about this Auditorium. Elvis fans probably have though. In addition to being home to countless performances and sporting events, it was where he began his first tour of 1956.
This historic structure was recently demolished, so I was hired to recreate it in the mural. Using my style and the information I was able to garner about the space, still under construction, I designed a painting that would hopefully be perceivable, but still maintain the level of thought and engagement that I always hope my work will require.
In December of 2013, I was flown out to Buffalo to oversee the mural’s installation. Of course I spent the days leading up to it imagining every possible horrible scenario. Everything from showing up and there not being any painting TO it being installed so that the dots didn’t line up TO it being completely impossible to perceive at any distance. My Type A was showing again. Fortunately, none of that happened.
The company that installed it was fantastic and, after some initial consultation, I was able to sit back and just watch it unfold. That left plenty of time to meet with the partners and employees that came in to check on the progress and allowed me to explain to them how my style works. Everyone was incredibly gracious and, as much as I’d like to believe my background as a project manager had anything to do with it, I think there was a fair bit of luck and amazing consultants to thank for such a seamless (pun totally intended) outcome.