Saturday, March 31, 2007

Practicing One's Craft

"Curtains" Painting copyright Amy Crehore
Seth Godin posted this on his blog the other day:
Art that's not for sale
Jordan Tierney and her colleagues have been working for months on the Periodic Tableaux, a one-of-a-kind art book that's not for sale.
Why invest the hours and the sweat and the talent in a piece of art you can't (and won't) sell?
Two reasons. The best reason is that when you practice your craft for yourself, not for the market, it drives you in new and important ways. And the other reason is that people are going to talk about it. Ideas that spread, win."
I totally agree about practicing your craft for yourself first. That is what I have done all of my life and certain people who think "money first" tend to think I am crazy. I have actually had people say, "Why even do it, if you aren't selling it?" They just don't understand the creative process and the goals of an artist. I could have been strictly a cartoonist-type illustrator (I did plenty of it) when I was younger for money, but I wanted to learn how to paint in a more representational way. I wanted to come up with my own unique way of painting. Not realism, but imaginative painting that transports you to a place that is "realer than real". I needed the challenge of painting with oils. I had a vision. It was a long-term goal. I struggled for years. Over humps and into valleys. I devoured art history books. Sometimes a painting would take me months with a hundred paintings underneath. I persevered. It was all about putting love and my own experiences into the work and letting my humor and ideas flow freely without fear. And painting things over and over and over until they "felt" right. I think it was worth it - to get to the place I am now.
(Thanks to Marshall at for the link)
(above image from my "Little Pierrot" series which started as an experiment and has evolved into 3 different series of works.)

Monkeys Galore

Monkey Wallpaper
Red-Ruffed Lemur 1894 Chromolithograph
Spider Monkey 1894 Chromolithograph
Monkey -1894 Chromolithograph
My friend sent me this great sample of monkey wallpaper and I found these antique prints here: Collectors Prints
I have been locked away for the last 5 or 6 weeks working on a new painting in my "monkey love" series. It's more ambitious than most and it is taking me forever to finish. If I owe emails to anyone, I hope they will understand that I must block out all distractions temporarily.
I start from scratch with my paintings and don't use any reference materials except perhaps my own previous works (to stay consistent). My first painting ("Banana Eater") in the "monkey love" series was researched, however. It was loosely based on the people, animals and plants of French Guiana or Devil's Island. (I needed a background setting- like a novelist would have in the opening paragraphs of a book.) That is where my squirrel monkey came from. Some people think my work is Polynesian or Hawaiian-based, and I have to admit that it has evolved now into a kind of cross-over art, but it wasn't my intention. It is all intuitive. The drawing comes first (from my imagination) and then I transfer it to canvas. I do enjoy looking at all kinds of vintage art, though, and over the years, it has become a part of me- my roots. One thing I don't do is look at contemporary art too closely. One must stay pure and create one's own unique little modern symbols and icons without straying into anyone else's territory. That's my philosophy, although I know that some current day artists tend to mimic whatever is "in" at the moment (nevermind copyrights). To me, that is not real art and defeats the whole purpose of creating something entirely new!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jayne Mansfield's Double Entendre

Still from the movie, "The Girl Can't Help It", showing Jayne holding a couple of milk jugs.
Read the post about this movie on mardecortesbaja

French Postcards

This is a great book by Martin Stevens. The images are sepia-toned, hand-colored photo postcards of female nudes in Paris at the turn of the 20th century. And they are quite humorously posed. It's a steal at $14.96 on Amazon :"Artfully posed with classical architecture or in flirtatious dishabille with stockings and lingerie, the winking models embody the erotic fantasies of a repressed society. Some of the women shown are demure and shy, wearing a slip or low-cut blouse-a great tease in an age when showing an ankle was scandalous. Their daring glimpses of decolletage carry a particular charge, so rare in today's world of overexposure. These cards were sold, often in packets, at street kiosks and under tabac counters, hush-hush but nevertheless ubiquitous. As foreigners flooded the city in the early part of the 20th-century, the cards became cherished souvenirs that were secretly collected and shared among men abroad."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Painted Portraits of Girls

Eugène Delacroix: Girl Seated in a Cemetery (1824, Oil on canvas)
Portrait by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 1833, oil
Portrait by Angelo Bronzino 1542, 0il
Portrait by Juan De Flandes, around 1500, oil

Wikimedia Commons has a wonderful collection of painted portraits of girls.
I love all of these. Corot and Bronzino have been two of my favorite painters for a long time, but this Delacroix painting leaves me breathless. It is unbelievably alive. The Juan De Flandes portrait has a marvelous primitive style to it and a nice sense of design.
(Thanks again to Internet Weekly!)
The Art of Amy Crehore

Saturday, March 24, 2007


These covers of Martin Denny's "Exotica" albums are so witchy and strange. I think Louise Brooks had those dark eyes, too. (Which means I did not really look like her at all since I have blue eyes. Blue eyes don't cut it. I happened to watch "Pandora's Box" last night and confirmed that fact.) These women all have that tantalizing come-hither look in their eyes. The music is queasy-listening, classically surreal, Hawaiian lounge-style from the late 50's. It will put you in a trance, I think. Or make you do a naughty dance with your cat.
Read about Martin Denny: The High Priest of Exotica