I received a complimentary ARC copy of Matters of Vital Interest: A Forty-Year Friendship with Leonard Cohen by Eric Lerner from NetGalley and De Capo Press in order to read and give an honest review.
I have been a fan of Leonard Cohen since my teens. Unlike most of the new wave, punk heroes of my youth, Cohen’s work somehow spoke to me on a very different level. He was not glammed up with spiked hair and eyeliner but had a cool elegance that made him and his music stand out for me. Although his work was, and still is, brilliant, poetic and fairly well known, the man himself, always seemed to remain a mystery…until now. Author Eric Lerner, a close personal friend of Cohen for over forty years shares with us an intimate and unique portrait of the man, his spirit and the creative and curious workings of his mind.
As a fan I really enjoyed this, although bittersweet and intensely emotional at times, it gave us a glimpse inside Cohen’s life like nothing else I have watched or read. Lerner and Cohen endured a great deal throughout their friendship from trying to find spiritual meaning and weathering their creative storms, to divorce, parenting and ultimately illness. These two went through it all, offering support, kindness, wit and most importantly honesty. We saw them search for spiritual meaning, exploring Zen Buddhism while still adhering to their Jewish faith. I giggled at the story of their existential conversation whilst watching a nature documentary about penguins. We learn about what made Cohen tick, how proud he was to be a father and the little idiosyncrasies that make us see him as perhaps a little less mysterious and if anything, the very human, honest and extremely self-aware artist he was.
I love the fact Lerner gives us a glimpse into Cohen’s life in a respectful but very honest way, highlighting the good but also sharing the troublesome often overwhelming things that Cohen endured in his life. My only issue with the book, although it wouldn’t stop me reading it, was the fact it jumps around in spots. Some sections seemed like a meandering internal dialogue going back and forth, revisiting things as they came to Lerner’s mind but often seemed a bit repetitive in my opinion.
All in all, I really enjoyed this unique gift to Cohen fans everywhere, an honest, captivating glimpse at the man and his music, a must read in my opinion.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the wonderfully talented artist, Michael Ricketson and learn a little about his thoughts on art and creativity…
Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
My primary medium when I first got into painting seriously, was digital paint. I remember creating digital art, back when it was not considered a serious medium. (Of course today it’s come completely into its own). I first did digital painting in the 1990’s, at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, and it was one of the great revelations of my life. I took to it immediately, it was such a forgiving medium, and for me, color on the screen just glowed! At the Art Institute, I majored in animation, but I easily preferred digital painting over the monotonous grunt work of animation. In college I was also introduced to the computer animation series, Miramar’s “Gate to the Mind’s Eye”. These videos gave me the conviction that art should be beautiful and romantic, and should make life better!
Anyway, about a year and a half ago, I felt like I wanted to create something of real value, something that you could hold in your hand and appreciate, and so I finally took up acrylic painting, after many false starts over the years. I really began to understand the necessity of painting from life, and so I took up still life, to give my eye something to ponder while my hand worked the brush. I worried that I had done things backwards, working in digital art before serious traditional study, but I did find that principles learned in digital work translated well to the real canvas. You just have to respect your own path that you’ve followed.
Most recently I trained for over a year in acrylics and oil, with an accomplished painter named Materese Roche. My current traditional painting is done in a realistic style, and also, recently, abstracted. I first got into painting fruit still life, due to an online painting study course that I was taking. I found the subject to be endlessly suitable for what we really value in art, beauty, color and variation, and so I stuck with it, with a patience that I had not anticipated.
I see myself doing much more acrylic than oil painting in the future, both for health reasons and efficiency of technique.
Do you have any creative routines or rituals?
I do my best conceptualizing inside my mind, that is, without a pencil or brush in my hand! I just sit and let my mind wander, with my eyes half closed and a complete disregard for the passage of time. I also think better with words than pictures, having started my creative journey as a writer, rather than an artist. So my brainstorming work on paper tends to be words as much as anything else!
I have to listen to music when I paint, but it can’t be anything loud or obnoxious!
Painting: Afternoon Passion
Oil on MDF, 5″ x 7″
Artist: Michael Ricketson
Galri Montaj Contemporary Art
What is the best advice you have received with regards to creativity, and what advice could you offer an aspiring artist?
My favorite advice from others is actually inspiration, which is what I get when I look at the art of my peers. The continuous source of ideas and concepts that breathe in the works of others is always what I turn to, when I am drained of elation for my art. I’ve spent many hours online and in bookstores, being reminded that there are no limits to creativity except that which we impose ourselves. I doubt that I would still be an artist if I didn’t have the motivation from my peers!
My personal advice to artists, is to never get the idea that you are not creative. When I was younger, I had this firm conviction that I could not generate creative ideas. I would struggle in school to complete writing assignments, as it would take me too long to decide what to write about. Even after I got started writing, I couldn’t finish the paper, because that would involve making more creative decisions and having a commitment to completion. This attitude changed when I took up creating 4-panel comic strips, a medium which forces you to be blunt, immediate and productive. By writing about what I loved and understood, I discovered that I wasn’t as bereft of ideas as I’d imagined. There are some practical tools and tricks for stirring up creativity in the mind that I’ve found very helpful, one of which is working with what you already know, what comes naturally for you. For example, with the comics, I would be totally lazy in idea generation, by simply imagining any type of mundane situation, and then dropping my characters into that scenario. Because I had a good grasp of who these characters were (extensions of myself perhaps) the scene would take a life of its own, as the characters responded and handled the problems at hand in their own ways. Ideas came naturally because I was at ease with the characters that I wrote about. So art is real and can happen on its own, the trick is not to stand in its way.
If you can, absolutely try to train under a professional artist. Being in the presence of a skilled painter will teach you things that you won’t get from books…. Little things, such as how to handle a brush, when and how often to wipe the brush while blending, etc. Of course you won’t end up mimicking your teacher in every way. But when you’re a beginner, seeing is believing, and you need to believe deep down inside that great paintings are possible. Seeing a wonderful painting come alive puts a thought in your head, that you can do the same thing.
We’ve all heard it before, but persistence is really the one important trait to have, in becoming an artist. You become who you want to be, by simply ignoring what any negative self-perception tells you is true. I can’t tell you how many times I set out to become an acrylic painter, only to quit two weeks later with the firm pronouncement that I would never be a traditional artist. But one day I finally decided that I wanted to be a painter badly enough. I started to paint in acrylic once again, and when the usual mental roadblock was thrown in my path, telling me to give it up, I simply ignored it and continued painting. So not long afterwards, I realized, “Hey, look at me! I’m painting every day now. I am a painter!” And sure enough, I was. The mental barrier restraining me, today looks to have been paper thin in reality, but it took too long to figure that out.
Painting: Night Reordered
Oil on MDF, 11″ x 14″
Artist: Michael Ricketson
Galri Montaj Contemporary Art
What does “being creative” mean to you?
This question makes me think more specifically of the controversy, “What is art?” I believe that we’ve let pride and commercialism mold our perceptions in defining art, and I think we need to remember that art is simply any small act of personal expression. And that expression is completely separate from skill of any kind, and is not beholden to people’s opinions on its value or accomplishment. Of course, we can add commercial value to art by doing it with skill, but art is neither about money nor ability at its core.
So what is expression? It is anything done for the sake of doing it, or for creating an aesthetic value. It can be a scribble, or a photorealistic painting. I disagree with those who say that photorealism is a technical exercise as opposed to art, because I think it is rare that a painter creates any type of work without making some adjustment for beauty or other interest!
What would be your dream project?
I’ve always hoped that digital virtual reality would make some great strides in my lifetime. It’s been slow in developing, but it’s fascinating to consider the possibilities, that of creating your own world which is almost indistinguishable from real life. Then art will truly be without limitation, every little aspect of your life open to your imagination and development. Paul McKenna predicted that we would soon move out of the information age, and into what he calls the psycho-technology age, in which bettering our minds and tapping our inner strengths would be the prevailing culture. This, along with sophisticated virtual reality, would be an artist’s dream, and would surely result in many new collaboration projects that we could only imagine today.
What are some of your professional goals?
When I was accepted into the gallery of Galri Montaj Contemporary Art, I received some needed encouragement to continue exploring abstraction in my painting, which is new for me. I think that more and more, my paintings will be enigmatic explorations of color and texture, but always with a trace of the representational, so as to retain an easy connection with the viewer. I think that people relate best to human stories, which means that a painting should be thought provoking, and strive to remain in the person’s conscious long after the viewing. Becoming an accomplished abstract artist is a main goal.
To become an art collector myself one day, would bring immense satisfaction! I could imagine turning my home into a place where others could come and see wonderful works of art. I enjoy reading of some of the legendary collectors of our time, and I’m always keen to understand their thought processes, and am appreciative of the opportunities that they can give to artists.
I have a side interest in pigments themselves, I can see myself one day making my own paints!
Painting: Still Life with Small Pumpkin
Acrylic on Masonite, 6″ x 6″
Artist: Michael Ricketson
Where can we find your work?
My work can be found online at Galri-Montaj Contemporary Art:
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Michael for taking time out of his busy schedule to share with us his thoughts on creativity and give us insight into his brilliant art. Please take some time to check out his amazing artwork.
This week I was fortunate enough to interview the wonderfully talented and inspiring artist, Patricia Boyd Roldan to find out about her artistic journey and what inspires her …
Tell us a little about yourself and your work. I served in the Air Force for 16 years as an aircraft mechanic on C-130’s, and had been stationed in the Philippines for a few years. Here, the dynamics of the tropical landscape took its foothold, although I hadn’t realize it yet. After retiring from the USAF, I enrolled in college for Graphic Design, having to take Painting 101 and Color Theory in order to graduate. These two classes changed my career path, but again, I hadn’t realize it yet. I wasn’t a painter at this point, although I had been an artist since childhood. What these classes did was teach me how to get the images from my imagination’s eyes onto a physical canvas through paint. A Liquitex representative was part of the Painting 101 curriculum, and she spent an entire class teaching us properties and techniques of acrylics. Once I had this information and instruction, it really did erode the intimidation I had once felt with paints and brushes.
What does “being creative” mean to you? For me, creativity is the ability to express conceptually and emotionally. I’m a detail-oriented person, and I see and think very meticulously. Maybe that’s why I chose mechanics in the military. My color palette also allows me to get loud without being noisy. I’m actually very shy, and my bold palette choices seem to be able to speak for me.
Is there a message you are trying to convey through your art? My work isn’t just about brightly colored botanicals. Many of my pieces are quite emotional for me, and have taken me through some pretty rough patches. I was in a violent marriage where I had no voice and very low self-esteem. Once out of the relationship, I began painting with my heart. My bold colors were the confidence I lacked, becoming my voice. Colors represented sometimes anger, sometimes pain. More and more now though, they express a confidence I haven’t known in years. I’m also exploring our birth through death cycle, using botanicals. I’ve always loved and respected our elderly, and I attempt to show their elegance and wisdom through dried leaves or flowers, how they wither, wrinkle, and fade away, but leaving wonderful impressions and color transitions along the way. My images look deeply into the heart of my subjects, eliciting conversations in a photo-realist style.
Where do you find inspiration? Thankfully I don’t have to go far for my inspiration, especially living in Florida. What I see are intricate patterns, how the light plays with them, or how many hues and values are within a single color of green ferns. Even their defects are important to me, as I do personalize my subjects.
Do you have any creative routines or rituals? The only ritual I really have is to ask God to bless my hands and my artwork each time I pick up my brush. I find this gives me confidence to create.
What is the best advice you have received with regards to creativity? The best advice I ever received was, even if pressed for time, devote at least one hour a day to your craft. I’ve followed this, and it was a game changer for me. It taught me more respect and discipline for my profession. Even if I don’t work on any particular piece, it allows me to play with the paints, sometimes just breaking the tensions of the day.
Best piece of advice you could offer an aspiring artist? Any aspiring artist should never be afraid to ask questions, and never be afraid to seek out and actually listen to constructive criticisms from other professionals. Take what you need, discard what you don’t, and tuck away little bits until later. Learn what makes you tick and exploit it.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Patricia for taking time out of her busy schedule to share with us a little about her life and her beautiful work. Please take some time to check out her work…you will be truly inspired! 🙂
Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to interview the extremely talented and passionate Plein Air Artist, Kathy Delumpa Allegri and ask her a few questions…
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey as an artist.
At age 3, my mother handed me colored chalk to draw whatever I wanted on the large kitchen wall. She also gave me a rag to clean it. In 1966 at University of California, Davis, I took art foundation courses with Prof. Wayne Thiebaud, a world-renown artist whose work is in major museums and galleries.
I started painting in oil. Years later, with a growing family, watercolor was expeditious for clean-up, and for teaching my children to paint. I worked from home as a graphic artist, received my Bachelor of Science in Art, and then, pursued fine art painting, full-time. I love nature, and began en plein air painting in 1992.
What is essential to your work as an artist?
Attitude. Getting outside of ego and treating my work as process allow me to maintain a humble and yet, confident and very passionate approach. So, I see no value in trying to impress anyone. I express daily gratitude for the opportunity to create. Assuming the posture of a child, on my toes, in wonder, is how I open the door of each new day.
Being in the present and embracing possibilities. I make my living as an artist. It is not a hobby. When some months are a financial challenge, I discern what I know and can do now, act, evaluate, which leads greater understanding, growth, and resolution.
Filling in gaps and tapping resources. My discernment process allows me to identify my weaknesses to develop a positive outcome. I lack marketing skills and techno-savvy, so, in order to focus on creating art, I enlisted Lora Fisher to represent me. This mutual trust will lead to great rewards for both of us! I’m blessed to have a network of fellow artists, to share our common and uncommon experiences, enjoy camaraderie, and to critique work.
Commitment to family and friends. I have a loving, close, creative family. Each adult child and grandchild is independent, generous, and successful. Channeling Benjamin Franklin, I have a few (true) friends, and (hopefully), no enemies!
What inspires and motivates you?
Cultural Heritage. My work became more personal when I re-discovered my rich cultural heritage. We immigrated to America in 1949 from the war-torn Philippines. It inspired my heritage series, beginning in 2000.
Science. I’ve always embraced Physics. Upon understanding relativity, energy, even the organic nature of the earth, for example, I am in awe of sunsets and sunrises. I feel the closure to a not-so-good day, as Gamboge fades to neutrality, and then, hope that abounds with the first Aureolin flash of dawn. I understand the seasonal color palette, the random predictability of a field of wild flowers.
The Work and Life of Artists and Scientists. These artists inspire me: Berte Morrisot, Mary Cassat, Georgia O’Keeffe, Vassily Kandinsky, Claude Monet, and Antonio Allegri di Correggio, and of course, Leonardo Da Vinci. My favorite scientists are Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, and Jonas Salk.
How has art changed your life?
Art, in all its forms, expresses relationships. I’ve learned more about life through visual art, music, writing, and dance. Every design element and principle of art applies to the real world. Translate that to human relationships, and I’ve learned to see different perspectives, and to be compassionate. Because of art, I speak six languages, three of which I knew as a child. Such a simple word has infinite power to transform and empower.
What is the most memorable response you have had with regards to your work?
There’s a tie between two events, a bit amusing: After I completed Phase 1 at a mural project in California, two Latina women stopped and prayed at the centerpiece wall, which depicts the pre-Silicon Valley orchards. They made the Sign of the Cross, and quietly left. Recently, a new collector said that the irises in the landscape painting she bought glowed and vibrated.
Where can we find your work?
Allegri Wine Shop & Art Gallery, 44 N. Main Ave., Gresham, OR 97030
Paintings in city offices in Sokcho, Korea, and Ebetus, Japan
Open to the Public: Murals: Red Barn Museum, Troutdale, OR; John H. Conway Law Offices, Sunnvvale, CA
Artist, photographer, writer, editor and curator, Lora R. Fisher shares with us her thoughts on art, her online Gallery~ GalriMontaj as well as what motivates and inspires this amazing woman.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and your work.
I may be an anomaly in that I am a visual artist who is also a curator, arts advocate, and a promoter, Hats get switched throughout each day, depending on what’s hot and calling my attention the loudest. When I recall my earliest memories, the most frequent activities always included gazing, looking, and viewing the world around me. Later, directing my friends in one scenario or another (Luckily, they seemed to enjoy it!).
Having creative ADD is a juggling lesson without an instructor. Many creative people are ‘afflicted’ with this blessing!
2. You are so incredibly creative and multi-talented; you are an artist, photographer, writer, editor and curator ~where do you find inspiration and do you have a favorite creative outlet?
Thank you! My inspiration most often comes from nature, which is also where I rest and recharge. A second source is humankind. We are an amazing source of content for my writing and photography, although I haven’t ventured there in a while with photography. I find the human face and the way an individual expresses her/himself through posture and personal history endlessly fascinating.
I am a night-owl in a forest of creatives who live by a different internal clock, often getting my inspiration in the wee hours. That also means that I’m a late riser. My first activity — with coffee, of course — is to check email and delete 75% of what I find there. (The disheartening truth is that almost everyone does this. That means that my announcements are also likely to get lost in the onslaught.)
Then I review my list from the day before to see what needs to be added to today’s list, and I dig in. A big part of my day is engaging on various social media platforms: checking in with friends, writing announcements, updating sites, and encouraging people to visit those sites and support specific artists.
Getting up and walking away from my computer to check the weather and work in my garden, or just gaze out the window allows my brain to refresh. I do my best problem solving outdoors when I’m not thinking about it.
I often have to force myself to stop working at night. There’s always ‘just one more thing’ to accomplish. (I think I may be defining the term ‘workaholic’.)
3. Last August you launched GalriMontaj, can you tell what inspired you to open your own online gallery?
My last curatorial experience ended abruptly in 2010 with the owner losing the business to the economic crisis. I turned my focus to promotions and creative services, but missed the excitement and satisfaction of curating exhibits.
The desire to build a virtual gallery was there for months, starting last spring, as one of those internal dialogues that simply wouldn’t go away. After pushing it aside for a few additional months, I decided to dive in, in August.
It is now at the stage where the kinks have been worked out, the presentation refined, and with a solid exhibition with EXTRAORDINARY artists who have placed their trust in me. We are ready for the next great leap.
On my list for 2013: to partner with a person or persons who are passionate about the arts and crazy-in-love with marketing; to continue to develop our platform of exhibitors; to reach world-wide collectors and world-class status; and to develop corporate sponsorship opportunities. That’s all … .
4. What kind of Artists do you look for when choosing exhibitors? Describe your perfect artist.
I look for a high degree of artistic mastery, regardless of genre. The name ‘GalriMontaj’ mean a mixed visual presentation (in Haitian Creole), and that’s my goal: to offer a variety of styles and artistic temperaments for collectors to choose from.
My perfect artist is someone who is dedicated to their craft and to advancing their careers. They can identify themselves as emerging or as mid-career artists, but they must be professional and understand the importance of a professional presentation. In this respect, I also function as a consultant and can guide an artist in developing a professional presentation.
5. What is integral to your work as an artist and curator?
I’m inspired daily by the urge to create that I see all around me — in every aspect of life. This seems to be one of the cardinal features of being human and I’m in awe of it.
I’m inspired by the power of art to change lives for the better and believe wholeheartedly in its ability to bridge cultures, to help young people find their voices, to support and encourage stressed communities, and to create vibrant living and working environments.
Artists, by and large, are generous, compassionate, and accomplished. They tend to be progressive leaders in their communities and on the world stage. The efforts that I see around the world by artists to unite and uplift through the arts, to protect the environment, and to lead, are my inspiration.
Artists. Artists inspire me.
As an artist, the beauty of nature inspires me, from the smallest scale to the grandest.
Beauty Above Me.
Beauty Below Me.
Beauty All Around Me.
Everywhere I Walk In Beauty.
—Dineh Beauty Way Chant
6. What is the most memorable response you have had about your work?
To have my landscape photography compared to Ansel Adams was quite memorable. Also, to hear that people are moved by my work in some way.
A dilemma that I confront on a regular basis is that I’m too busy working with the art of others to have time to focus on my own. Working on a solution to that!
7. Can you tell us what is coming up for both GalriMontaj and yourself?
I’ve also recently developed the GalriMontaj Affordable Art program, featuring works selling for under $500. This seems to be a prominent feature in today’s commercial art world with so many being severely impacted by the recession, and just now beginning to consider collecting again.
This is the perfect opportunity for collectors to build their collections with works that are bound to increase in value in the coming months and years. I believe that GalriMontaj may be ahead of the curve on that front.
Hello, I’m Belinda (McGrath) Witzenhausen and in a nutshell; I am a Writer, Creativity Coach, Artist, Student, Bookworm, History Geek, Armchair Archaeologist, Amateur Photographer, Coffee Connoisseur & Hubby’s Grossly Under-Paid Bass Roadie. 😉
I have always enjoyed helping others, as well as being creative. Both my education and work history have revolved around social services, counselling, art therapy, coaching and expressing my creativity be it through writing, art or photography.
Over the years I have been blessed to cross paths with many interesting and creative people who have been a source of inspiration. I love life and try to make sure that each of my days is touched by the creative process. I make it my mission to help others heal by igniting their creativity, as well as acting as an advocate for children and young adults with special needs and learning challenges.
I am a producer for Conscious Choices Radio Show on Blogtalk radio. Last year I was fortunate to meet Suzanne Gardner (www.suzannegardner.com) who is such an incredible and inspiring woman. Despite losing her vision due to juvenile diabetes she has become a very talented artist. Today her paintings hang prominently in private collections across Canada, the United States, Britain, and Mexico. Recently Suzanne was featured on Jeff Cadwell’s “Conscious Choices Radio Show” listen for more information about Suzanne’s incredible journey: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ConsciousChoices/2008/10/07/Successful-painter-found-gift-after-vision-loss