Art Plagiarism - Think Again! by Carissa Goldstein

As I delve further into the art world, I am constantly coming face to face with misconceptions I've had through the years. One prime example of this was learning how much creativity I have to bring to the table. Along with the mystical idea of being hit with inspiration, I assumed that what artists came up with was entirely of their own creation. Little did I realize that each artist starts at the beginning and has to learn the rules before they can break them. Van Gogh and Monet didn't start out with a signature style. They learned from their instructors and mimicked their styles first.

By taking classes with different instructors, I learn the tools needed to take me to the next step when I finally do find that inspiration. I can combine the techniques of other artists and put my own spin on them to create my art. It's not about sitting down in a room by yourself in front of a canvas and creating art. I think the most effective way to become creative is to first learn how others are creative and copy them. Of course this doesn't mean tracing another artist's work in your own hand and selling it as your own. Instead this means learning painting techniques, collage techniques, or whatever other techniques interest you from experienced artists before going out on your own. Aside from professional artists, I've drawn inspiration in classes from the other students around me. Everyone thinks differently, so in a class where we learned how to carve our own stamps, I was enthralled at the designs other people came up with. I was able to borrow their stamps to create my own piece of art in a unique manner. This is a perfect example of drawing from others to aid in your creative quest. Art is best done in a group setting to get the creative juices flowing. When I scrapbook, I often look at others' ideas and templates before deciding what tools and equipment I want to use, and then I embellish on those ideas and add a bit of my own personality. Everybody can create, no matter who you are, so stop thinking you can't!

Along with learning techniques from those around you, I think it can also be helpful to try to reproduce art that has already been done, but adding your own twist. It's about learning to crawl before you can run. Start with a prospect that doesn't scare the creativity right out of you. I'm learning to take these baby steps, difficult as it may be. Learn from my mistakes, and don't expect to paint the Sistine chapel in a day! Above all, remember that art is meant to be fun and therapeutic, not scary!

As a side note, I would encourage everyone local to the Raleigh area to check out the new S.T.A.R.T. program – Stop Thinking Art is Really Tough! This program is designed for those of you who aren't sure where to start or what to do. The workshops are Thursday evenings, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., all art supplies are included, and you'll leave with a finished piece of art, all for only $30! Starting in February, I'll be taking these workshops and offering feedback after the classes to let you know how they're going. Stay tuned!


Devil & Angel: Is Photography Art?

Image by: Ira Goldstein
Angkor Wat
Black and White Photo


This is a difficult question for me as a painter. When I see a "Call to Artist" for a juried show, I tend to look and see if the show will have category awards for Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Woodworking, Photography and the like. I would consider entering the show if that is the case. I have been to many "juried shows" with open categories and wined up seeing that, of the six or so awards in the show, three or four of the merit awards were photographs. Either the juror is a photographer themselves or the rest of the offered fine art work is not up to snuff. This is very disheartening to a majority of the classic entries of paintings, sculptures or drawings. I consider the fine arts different than a photograph in that the photo is developed from an instrument that replicates reality through the cameras eye while the fine art entries are originated through the minds eye of the artist.

The other part of me, when viewing the work of Ansell Adams for example, looks at his photographs and definitely sees it as "Art." What separates his work is that his compositions were stylized with the shadowed foregrounds in many of his photographs. This has become iconic with his work. It's not the photo as much as it is the style of the composition that creates the sense of "Art" for me. So in the final analysis I do not consider basic photography "Art" unless the photographer has a defined style that has been incorporated in their work.

Photography is absolutely art!
It takes a keen eye for texture, line, composition and subject matter to take a great photo. There is a ton of creativity that enters in when working with photography either in the field, in the studio or in the development process in the darkroom, or even in the early stages of concept. These are all factors in making or creating a good painting as well. An artist in either choice of materials must push their ideas beyond what has already been created and make something new or different. Each artist faces the same challenges in the creation process by asking questions and solving the problems encountered along the way.

I do think that each process belongs in their own category when it comes to museums or juried shows. I think paintings should compete with paintings, sculpture should compete with sculpture, photography should compete with photography, etc.

Take A Hike by Wilson Bickford

If you want to get your creative juices flowing, sometimes you just have to get out into Mother Nature's domain. Winters here in northern NY can be quite brutal, with minus 20s and 30s pretty common in January and February. There are acres and acres of meadows and thick woods behind my home which I routinely patrol on my snowshoes. Although this is not my land, the owner does not mind me trekking around out there, so I take advantage of that (and I am grateful for it).

I like to snowshoe for several reasons:
* Just to make the best of a bad situation (let's just say that Winter isn't my favorite season)
* To get some fresh air and exercise
* And to get inspiration / photos for my artwork

While snow can be bothersome, as far as the shoveling, plowing and snowblowing, it is also quite beautiful and is one of my favorite landscape themes. This morning was crisp (8 degrees above), clear and bright, so I grabbed my camera and snowshoes and headed out. It was just after 8am when I hit the woods and the sun was still rising and filtering through the trees. I loved the play of light and shadows. More specifically, the warm lights and the cool, blue shadows. If you're looking for a broad range of color temperatures in your painting, this will do it. Such beautiful contrast!

I'm sure these photos will ultimately find their way onto my canvas. It's hard for me to imagine not trying to capture this tranquility. The warm and cool colors, the contrast of the dark silhouetted trees against the bright sun light bursting through............... how can one not be inspired?

So, what I want to say to you is, "GO TAKE A HIKE!!" You may not have snow where you are, so go stroll the beach, take a walk through the city streets, or meander along a wooded trail.

It'll be great for your mind, body and artistic soul!

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