Sunday, November 17, 2013

Harmless enough?

I was on Facebook classifieds this morning, when I saw someone in search of a Disney's Little Mermaid DVD. Another person replied that she had one, and would burn a copy of it for free. Then other people wanted her to burn a copy, offering to pay her to do it, and she was more than willing to burn copies for everyone. I didn't make myself very well liked when I replied that I didn't think she should be posting that she is willing to do something illegal, especially in a public forum. She stated that she was willing to burn copies for free, and that wasn't illegal. But according to Federal copyright laws, copying and distribution of copyright protected dvds is illegal, and you can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

On the basest level here of reasons not to copy dvds, it isn't smart to announce you are willing to violate laws, even if it is a gesture of good will. Let's look a little deeper into why this isn't okay.

One might think that a couple of copied DVDs isn't going to hurt Disney. They are a multi billion dollar corporation and it isn't going to hurt them. Yes and no. While one or two won't hurt them in the long run, if you get thousands of people burning one or two, yes, it can make a financial impact. It will add up over time, and we have seen that it  ripping and illegally downloading has hurt the music industry.

But deeper than this, let's say that it wasn't Disney. Let's say it was an individual artist, like myself. Let's say that I made a beautiful painting, and had prints made, and I sold one for $25.00. The person I sold it to, showed it to her friend, who loved it. The buyer then said, "Oh if you like it so much, I can scan it and make a print for you." Then she did that for four more friends. What does that mean for me? I lost $100 in sales, and the buyer STOLE my art! Just because the buyer owns a piece of art, it does not give her the right to reproduce it. She cost me four sales.

It doesn't matter if the business is large or small, the matter is bigger than a $20 or $200 sale. It's a matter of stealing something that isn't yours. Nobody likes to be ripped off. I have been stolen from (personal property) in the past, and it leaves you with a feeling like you have been raped, you lose your trust for others, and you don't want to be victimized again.

I have seen posts lately about big companies ripping off individual artists, thinking that they can get away with it, possibly because they are big businesses with well-paid lawyers, and the individual artists don't have that backing. Shame on them! If you discover that a business is stealing from another business, do you really want to buy something that is stolen? I don't, because if you know and you do it anyway, that makes YOU guilty, too!

I will leave you with the words of Jesus, when he said, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Treat others like you would want to be treated. That's what it all boils down to.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Criticizing Art

As an artist, I believe one must be able to take and use criticism to improve their work. In class, I actually look forward to being critiqued, to find out what is off and needs work. I like improving.
I would like to add that in my art, I am not seeking people's approval, not looking for a pat on the's nice, but not necessary.However, I have come to the conclusion that some people will never like my work. Some people will always be negative about it no matter what I do. They will always have something to say about it---not constructive criticism, just something to let me know that I missed the mark, that they are upset with it or disappointed that I didn't do a better job. They look for me to fail and when I do, it gives them satisfaction in knowing they were right about me all along. And yes, it does sting, especially when those people are ones that are supposed to love and support you.  I think some people may have personal issues that they are dealing with and feel that putting someone down gives them control or builds themselves up. Sometimes it isn't that they don't like my work, they just don't like me, or what I represent to them. I know whenever the subject of my art or anything else I do is brought up, mean little jabs will always be said to let me know I am not good enough.

I do not normally trace anything, although in some kinds of art, sometimes tracing is used to transfer a design. A while back I did an experiment. I traced a photo of a person's family member, and then shaded it in like a normal drawing, and showed it to them---the proportions were perfect (traced---duh!) and this person said, "Who is that supposed to be? I don't recognize them." I told them who it was and they proceeded with, "You got the face wrong---the face is too long and the mouth is too broad." It was a perfect copy of their face. That proved to me that it really didn't matter what I did, it wouldn't be right.

"Who does she think she is? She thinks she's so special. Does she really think she can make it as an artist? She's just wasting her time and money. I could do better than that."
It's bad enough that sometimes I have thought things like this, but when the same things---my worst fears about myself--are spoken by other people---that's even worse.

I have come a long way in my art since starting college. I am at a point now, where I know I am a good artist. I am no master, but I am good at what I do. I can say that without feeling like I am lying or boasting. I know it's true. I have had some excellent reviews of my work by working professional artists. I have heard people comment on my work in galleries. Others know I am good.

So from now on, I am determined not to let these people get to me. They have their own issues and in their eyes I will never be enough, but my journey is not about them, it is about cultivating the giftings and talents that God has given me, and using them for His will. The only person I should care about pleasing is GOD.Remember this when criticizing an artist. Separate the work from the person who made it. There is a real live person behind the painting. Be honest about what you think. Find the positive in it, find the negative, and whenever giving a critique, sandwich the suggestions between two positive ideas. We criticize ourselves enough, we don't need to be abused, but we do need your honest, helpful opinions.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Deep Conversation from Art Class

When I taught art classes at a private school, this was a conversation among the children in my first grade class:
Child 1: My mom has hairy armpits.
Child 2: My mom shaves her armpits every morning.
Child 3: My mom raises my arms and sniffs MY armpits.
Child 4: My mom sniffs her own armpits.

Terri Axness: A Retrospective

This was my art review for my Composition for the Artist class in 2010 (I got an A!). Please check out her website to see the art I have described, and more:

November's First Friday event in Baker City, Oregon, was an exciting event for local artists, but especially for Terri Axness, featured solo artist at Crossroads Art Center. Her show, Terri Axness—A Retrospective, was her first show as a Crossroads featured artist, and many of her fans have anticipated this show for a long time. This show displayed a large body of her work, mainly focusing on the beauty of eastern Oregon and rural living. On display were pieces of artwork she created in the past, as well as more current work and commissioned pieces on loan from private collections (Crossroads 5). Viewing her show made it easy to see how Terri's love for rural life has influenced her art and has made her successful.
It seemed as though all of Baker City came out to view Terri's show and celebrate her success. The gallery was crowded with fellow artists, friends, family, clients, and art-lovers in general. A pianist played familiar tunes in the background as guests admired Terri's vast array of artwork, then chatted with familiar faces as they sampled hor d'oeuvres and wine. Terri herself was present for this momentous event, and was kept busy answering questions asked by her guests.
Born and raised in the Baker City area, Terri completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon, and received her Masters in Education at Eastern Oregon University. She taught at Baker public schools for twenty-eight years, and also taught art workshops at a local craft store for twenty years. Although officially retired, she still conducts week-long art workshops for schools (Axness). She also serves on the Crossroads Advisory Committee and has volunteered above and beyond the call of duty to help Crossroads become the successful center for the arts that it is today.

Primarily a painter, Terri has expanded her repertoire to include not only oil and watercolor, but also sculpture and woodworking. She does not limit herself to just one genre, but there is a common theme seen in her work—the rural life and habitat of eastern Oregon. She depicts eastern Oregon in all its beauty, though it is different from what one pictures when Oregon comes to mind. It is not the damp, lush greens and waterfalls of western Oregon, or majestic views of the coast; but it is the farmland, the peaceful pastures spotted with grazing cattle, the cold, snow-covered mountains, and the deer and elk found in the eastern side of the state.
Terri is well-known for her landscapes, especially those featuring the legendary “Indian shadow” in the Elkhorn mountains. The legend says that this area was a spiritual place, and the Guardian of the Valley, a shadow in the mountain that looks like an Indian in profile, foretold the seasons—when to dig roots, and when to leave to prepare for winter (Day Five, Baker City). She has painted this mountain range several times, but no painting is an exact copy of another. Elkhorn Indian Summer shows the mountain range in early to mid-autumn. The sky is a clear bright blue, and the Elkhorns have an early dusting of snow, while the valley is ablaze in vibrant warm golds and oranges. The Indian shadow is present in the mountain, but not quite at its peak at this point in time. However, The Guardian of the Valley is depicted slightly later in the fall season. The atmosphere feels chilled and crisp, and the colors are cooler. There is a feeling as though winter will be here soon. Fog covers the base of the mountains, and the Indian shadow in the snow-capped mountains keeps his faithful vigil, as he watches over the valley below.

Terri finds much of her inspiration right outside of her door at her Muddy Creek Ranch, near Haines, Oregon. She often paints the scenery surrounding her home, including the Elkhorns, and also paints her cows and chickens in various media. Summer Strut and Hightailin' It are roosters oil-painted in bold, bright colors and have thick lines of texture; even though the paint has been applied thickly, these roosters still retain their accuracy and realism. Terri painted Convict, the profile of a crowing rooster, twice from the same subject, but used differing media. One version was painted in watercolor; he is standing in a grassy yellow-green meadow with lush green trees as the backdrop for the song he is performing. She used rose red and violet tones in the rooster itself, and these colors complement and contrast the background successfully. The second version was painted with oil pastels and colored pencil on handmade paper from Mexico. The rooster's colors remain similar to the watercolor version, but are slightly muted; the background is simply the textured paper on which it was painted. Both are beautiful but have different moods. Because of the boldness of the color choices, the watercolor rooster seems more lively, loud, and conceited, whereas the pastel rooster seems slightly more subdued and simple.
As seen in such works as Convict, the other roosters, and her landscapes, Terri has a way of revisiting the same subject matter, but never in the exact same way. One can see repetition in her work; but the variety of media, composition and presentation keeps her work fresh and interesting.
Terri's subject matter and composition are well thought-out, and her years of experience and education are evident in the quality of her craftsmanship. Her art is displayed in galleries across the region, and her work is prized by many. Along with the exceptional quality of her art, applying her love for this little area of Oregon and for the rural life into her paintings is what has made her successful. Seeing this retrospective show of her work gives others a glimpse of the beauty of her world, and makes me appreciate her heart and her passion for this rural life that she lives. After viewing her show, it is not difficult to see Terri Axness and her art as treasure to appreciate and celebrate.

Works Cited
Axness, Terri. “Artist's Biography.” 2010
“Day Five, Baker City” Northeast Oregon Land of Scenic Wonders. 2010. Eastern Oregon Visitor's Association. 9 Dec. 2010. <>.
“Featured Artists for 2010” Crossroads Carnegie Art Center Newsletter Fall 2010:5

Sculpted Skull

Here is a sculpture that I did for my sculpting class. The white one is the resin model I used in sculpting my skull on the right. I think it turned out pretty well, but unfortunately, after the assignment is over, the clay goes back in the bucket to be reused for the next week. But like the professors say, if I can make it once, I can make it again.