January '09 Seminar- Art Making as a Transformative Process.

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 21 Jan 2009, 18:41

I wonder who that artist was, what he was trying to say with his art, why the curators thought it was worthy of exhibition? Can you remember, Aylyn?
I want art to be more than random snaggles
That is definitely giving you a big clue as to what your art is or could be about.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Aylyn » 21 Jan 2009, 19:08

I wonder who that artist was, what he was trying to say with his art, why the curators thought it was worthy of exhibition? Can you remember, Aylyn?
I want art to be more than random snaggles
That is definitely giving you a big clue as to what your art is or could be about.
I can only remember that he was a German artist, because I was immediately embarrassed: If that was the epitome of German art, then we Germans have a problem... :-)

As for the "trying to say": Maybe it is me, but I think art should be speaking for itself, and does not need interpretation. If I need some pretentious guy to tell me what "I should be seeing" in this piece of art, the artist missed his/her calling. It is like the stones on your window: Nobody needed to explain to you how they look, and what they should mean: They were self-explanatory. That does not mean any kind of perfection: Children's art is expressive and stating out load what it means without having the kind of training that we often think about as "real" art. But when I look at a pile of railway sleepers, and then get told that "In today's Modern Art, it is entirely possible that a pile of railway sleepers represents nothing more than a pile of railway sleepers", then I am sorry, but we crossed the line were art, IMO, becomes fraud.

BTW - the latter is a quote from one of the guides of the Documenta, the famous German Modern Art Show. I was evicted from the show shortly after because I could not stop laughing.... (And that was my last contact with German Modern Art prior to the Tate Modern) :duck:
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Dryadia2 » 21 Jan 2009, 19:39

Thank you again for the wonderful Seminar, Baobab! :hug:

It's inspired me to begin designing my next 2 tattoos (awen & pentacle). :grin: :wink:

:dryadia: /|\
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 23 Jan 2009, 13:17

:-) Hi Aylyn. You big Art rebel you, getting banned from the exhibition. I love it.

Ok, so here's what I think about it. Please imagine with me for a minute that you are a fine artist and that you are also a compulsive telephone doodler. And let's say one year you go to Greece for your holidays and you fall madly in love with the most beautiful Greek person, but because of the circumstances of your life and the circumstances of their life you can only see each other for one perfect week a year.

So, every year for 17 years you make the journey to Skiathos for one week, heal your body in the Aegean sea, eat fresh fish, drink the local wines and make love. And for the other 51 weeks of each year you content yourself with one expensive 30 minute phone call every Sunday night, during which you doodle compulsively. The fine artist in you keeps all the doodles in a battered shoe box. It is a box of great meaning as in holds your connection to love.

Are you with me? I really should write this novel. :grin: It's gonna be a true tear jerker.

Anyway, your Greek lover dies and you're not even in the country. You hear about it through a mutual friend and your grief is deep. After a year or so you find it possible to open the shoe box and in honour of the memory of your true love you exhibit your doodles.

I'm sure you can see how meaningful those 'random snaggles' can be. Also, it wouldn't be immediately obvious to a visitor to the gallery what they were, but if they just spent a little time trying to delve deeper in, read the blurb on the wall, speak to a curator, how their lives would be enriched by the tale of 17 years of radiant, bitter-sweet joy.

Sometimes, art needs to be worked at a little bit, just as a fabulous poem might need to be worked at to truly immerse yourself in an exploration of what the poet was feeling at the time of writing.

You say you want art to speak for itself, but I think that is a matter of opinion, probably dictated by what is fishing about in a person's unconscious. An artwork that speaks for itself in your eyes might be entirely dumb in the eyes of another.

Many thanks, Aylyn for joining in the discussion. It's great stuff.

Hi Dryadia2. :) Yes, I remember from another thread that you're a very tattoed lady. It's funny, isn't it how we can have mental pics of each other that are just nothing like the reality. :-)
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 23 Jan 2009, 15:05

Dear art fans, I have turned some of the ideas in this seminar into a ritual for the eisteddfod.

It is RIGHT HERE.

I hope you find it of use.

Best wishes to you.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Fox » 23 Jan 2009, 15:12

Hi, I just read your ritual and was very interested, particularly the unconscious into consciousness aspect.

Last year (or was it the year before?) I was undergoing some counsellling, and I was trying to describe how I felt to the counsellor, and I came up with this image in my head of a dog in front of a wall, trying to get round it, running back and forth, and she got out the conté sticks and the coloured paper and asked if I wanted to try to draw it.

Oh yeah! I did, but in the end the drawing was different from what I had been describing. The dog was there and the wall was there but the wall was a very active wall, vibrating with colour and marks and the dog was still and solid.

It was very instructive. I left it with the counsellor but I might try to get it back. I'd like to look at it again now that time has passed.

Anyway, I wrote a poem about it as well, Blue Dog.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Fox » 23 Jan 2009, 15:35

A friend of mine, a woman that I did my foundation with went to a university where the whole group would stand round a still life with easels painting the same thing together. Their teachers would come and correct their art if they hadn't done it right.
Just saw this bit. Sounds like a typical art college foundation year drawing course.

And it has it's place. I've taken my fair share of life-drawing courses (partly because I like looking at naked people and don't get much of a chance to scrutinise one in the normal course of events :whistle: ) and the value it had for me was teaching me to look. And not just to look, but to see.

I think that in most people's lives (present company excepted of course) people make a lot of assumptions about reality and don't question those assumptions. That is why it is so devilishly hard to draw a chair. We all know what a chair looks like, don't we? So why do the chairs we draw look so unlike chairs? Because we don't look at them. We don't see the angles, proportions, and the all important empty space. I love the exercises where you don't draw the object, you draw the space around the object. All of a sudden you are working with a shape you don't have a label or mental preconcetion about and you actually have to look - and see. It's an eye-opener and no mistake!

So I have a lot of time for classes where people are encouraged to draw things and particularly if it helps them to see.

On a side note, I found the drawing, when it was working, to be a very effective method of meditation. You know Isaac Mendez in Heroes, when he goes to draw the future and his eyes blank out and afterwards he's like, "Wow, what happened, did I just paint that?" That's me when I'm in the groove of drawing - in the groove of shutting off my mind and letting the art happen - letting the line move with the eye instead of with my flawed mental model of the world. A bit like when I'm writing. It's marvellous...
yr pal, Fox

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 23 Jan 2009, 17:03

Hi Fox.

Please don't think for a second that I am arguing for a de-skilled art world. I have benefitted from studying techniques in classes and from books, and I very much appreciate the point you made about learning how to see. I agree with you, and I had the same experiences - like eureka moments that turned me on to art forever. :D

What's more, I love to look at highly skilled art work in the technical sense, just as much as I love grappling with a complex set of ideas presented in the form of an art work that might on the surface not call for such technical skill, or in fact that the artist might have employed somebody else to produce.

The woman I was talking about in your quote above was at one university here whilst I was at another. We'd been on our foundation course together but we were at different universities getting creative in our own different ways. It wasn't my my intention to criticise the way that she was taught, although I am glad that I found myself with a staff that held different values. It just suited me better.

I think the point that I was making there was that a lot of people equate art making with techniques and nothing but techniques and for the purposes of personal transformation through close work with the unconscious it is good if you can free yourself up from thinking there is a right way and a wrong way to make art. As we can see from so many of the posts in this thread, art is mystified. We don't think we can do it. We are missing out, cutting ourselves off from a source of incredible healing power.

I wonder if somebody who is extremely technically skilled artistically can express the material arising from their unconscious in a way that is of greater benefit to them than a person who is not as technically skilled. What do you think?

I also find that art making lends itself to slipping into an altered state of consciousness, of course. The ritual was a bit difficult for me to write, because it is hard to put into words that which needs to be experienced to be understood. I found myself trying to sell the idea. :-) That you are drawing on awen in your art making is shiningly obvious from your poetry.

Thanks a million for the counselling story. Yes, you must try and get your work back. It's calling to you. If you can't, draw it again.

Thank you for the post, brother.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Fox » 23 Jan 2009, 17:29

I wonder if somebody who is extremely technically skilled artistically can express the material arising from their unconscious in a way that is of greater benefit to them than a person who is not as technically skilled. What do you think?.
If by "skilled artistically" you mean someone through whom art flows naturally, as language seems to flow through some and music others, whether it comes naturally or after a long sequence of unlocking levels, then, you know, I don't think so necessarily.

You hear about talented but tortured artists. Artists who don't like what they are producing, hate themselves, and hate the process of creation. Driven. You hear the same about writers and musicians. People who can't stop themselves from creating ... but are they happier? Are they calm, can they deal with their own issues better?

I think people who are self-loathing or unselfaware or glaikit in general or just unpleasant to others, just because they are fantastic artists doesn't mean they can cope with life better or gives them insight or enlightenment. If they use their art to help themselves become more aware, it's because they have seen the need for self-examination, and they are no more liable to do that than a plumber or a politician. IMHO.

Art, music, literature, are mysterious - they seem to rise in us of their own free wills sometimes. And those who can channel that energy can make art. You might not have the technical ability to draw a chair accurately, but that doesn't mean art won't flow through you. You just have to open yourself and let it flow. But in and of itself, it won't fix you.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 23 Jan 2009, 19:50

If by "skilled artistically" you mean someone through whom art flows naturally
I said technically skilled artistically as I was replying to your post about being taught a certain prescribed form of art.

I suspect that given the right conditions 'art flows naturally' through us all. Here I am trying to encourage the reader to discover and foster their own right conditions.

It needs to be re-stated here though that this is not necessarily a pleasant process. It can be horribly painful, but undoubtedly transformative. It can ultimately be healing.

I think that the way you draw the chair acts as a signpost to the mailbox that contains urgent communication from your unconscious. To be able to see the angles correctly, to forshorten competently will speak of one thing. To be unable to produce a graphically accurate representation will speak of another. And in the land of the unconscious, that technical ability or lack of same is small potatoes.

Many thanks for this discussion.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Aylyn » 26 Jan 2009, 12:07

:-) So, every year for 17 years you make the journey to Skiathos for one week, heal your body in the Aegean sea, eat fresh fish, drink the local wines and make love. And for the other 51 weeks of each year you content yourself with one expensive 30 minute phone call every Sunday night, during which you doodle compulsively. The fine artist in you keeps all the doodles in a battered shoe box. It is a box of great meaning as in holds your connection to love.

Are you with me? I really should write this novel. :grin: It's gonna be a true tear jerker.

Anyway, your Greek lover dies and you're not even in the country. You hear about it through a mutual friend and your grief is deep. After a year or so you find it possible to open the shoe box and in honour of the memory of your true love you exhibit your doodles.

I'm sure you can see how meaningful those 'random snaggles' can be. Also, it wouldn't be immediately obvious to a visitor to the gallery what they were, but if they just spent a little time trying to delve deeper in, read the blurb on the wall, speak to a curator, how their lives would be enriched by the tale of 17 years of radiant, bitter-sweet joy.

Sometimes, art needs to be worked at a little bit, just as a fabulous poem might need to be worked at to truly immerse yourself in an exploration of what the poet was feeling at the time of writing.
Sorry, I am never online during the weekend, I definitely need to get internet at home :grin:

Yes, I see what you mean. I could also see myself taking out those snaggles, framing them and putting them up on my wall, to remind me of the love I felt. What I would NOT do is exhibit them in an art gallery. Or, if I would do the latter, I would certainly NOT sell them for 100.000£. Maybe that is the part I am enraged about: The obscene amount of money that is sometimes paid for that stuff, when OTOH I get told that there is no money for hospitals, child care or schools. If rich people buy it for their own pleasure, that is fine, but if it is my tax money, I have a problem. Why would I want to finance Andy Warhol's lifestyle, in order to get a canvas he has pissed on? That is, literally, taking the piss... :whistle:

There IS Modern Art, I agree, and yes, Art may need some interpretation sometimes, but too often I have the feeling that the real ART in the pieces is to get people to buy them for a lot of money....

BTW - a few years ago a Dutch/German comedian went to do a performance of a piece of "Music", and then discussed it with the audience. They actually took the whole thing seriously, and started discussing it with him, until someone stood up and said: "I think you are testing the audience". That when he revealed that it was all just a joke, and he was taking the Mickey. It still is a comic classic... The comic part is the audience, who does not even notice they are getting played.

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=RAx0P-8n5 ... re=related (Unfortunately, it is in German....)
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Fox » 26 Jan 2009, 14:10

If by "skilled artistically" you mean someone through whom art flows naturally
I said technically skilled artistically as I was replying to your post about being taught a certain prescribed form of art.

I suspect that given the right conditions 'art flows naturally' through us all. Here I am trying to encourage the reader to discover and foster their own right conditions.

It needs to be re-stated here though that this is not necessarily a pleasant process. It can be horribly painful, but undoubtedly transformative. It can ultimately be healing.

I think that the way you draw the chair acts as a signpost to the mailbox that contains urgent communication from your unconscious. To be able to see the angles correctly, to forshorten competently will speak of one thing. To be unable to produce a graphically accurate representation will speak of another. And in the land of the unconscious, that technical ability or lack of same is small potatoes.

Many thanks for this discussion.
See, I'd interpret "technically skilled artistically" not as being able to accurately follow one method or another of thinking about art, but of being able to skillfully produce art - almost like knowing the tools of the trade. For example someone who might know when to use pastel chalks and when to use egg tempura. Or someone who can use a welding iron to craft a piece of metal into their vision. There are numerous art college tales about conceptual artists in particular who are good at the conceiving bit but then get the "techies" to put their installations together for them. I would not called these artists technically skillful, but I would still call them artists.

And I suppose your eyes and your imagination are also your artistic tools. To be technically skilled in that context would be to be able to accurately draw a chair using your eyes to see and your hand to follow if that's what you think is necessary for a particular piece of art you are creating. Learning to "draw good" is like learning using a chisel to hammer away the bits of marble that don't look like the statue you have in mind without damaging the stone, or learning to use a chainsaw to make marks on a log, or a welding iron to put together bits of metal, or a video camera and software to capture and edit the final product. I'd go back to say that being thus technically skilled artistically would not make you more liable or more able to do healing self-examination - which is not the same thing as saying that art is not a good way of doing that. It depends on the artist and their will and intent.

Sorry Baobab, your final paragraph about about drawing chairs and mailboxes, the meaning is lost to me.

Aylyn, a lot of what you say makes sense, but that is the way of it when the original object itself becomes the valued item, rather than the content of the object. Music and books are endlessly reproduced and it is the content that has value. Sure, certain 1st editions or music manuscripts will be valueable to museums and collectors, but the content is out there and that is what people are paying to experience. Whereas with a piece of art it is the object itself that is of value.

As for paying taxpayers money for art, then are you saying that there should be no public money spent on art at all? You and I and Joe Bloggs down the street will always disagree on what we think is good art - how DO you decide which pieces to buy and which not to? For example I wouldn't give cellar space to most of Damien Hirst's work, but many others would disagree. Is ANY piece of art worth £1 million of the taxpayer's money? Or should museums only rely on artists and benefactors bequests and loans? As long as children are going hungry you could - and maybe you should - never spend any money on art that could be doing something more "useful". But isnt' beautifying the world and making it more interesting and thought-provoking useful as well?

No answers, just many questions!
yr pal, Fox

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Aylyn » 26 Jan 2009, 16:01

As for paying taxpayers money for art, then are you saying that there should be no public money spent on art at all? You and I and Joe Bloggs down the street will always disagree on what we think is good art - how DO you decide which pieces to buy and which not to? For example I wouldn't give cellar space to most of Damien Hirst's work, but many others would disagree. Is ANY piece of art worth £1 million of the taxpayer's money? Or should museums only rely on artists and benefactors bequests and loans? As long as children are going hungry you could - and maybe you should - never spend any money on art that could be doing something more "useful". But isnt' beautifying the world and making it more interesting and thought-provoking useful as well?
No, I do not say that we should not give public money for art. What I find difficult to understand is the disproportion between the value and the money paid: If I exhibit a blank canvas, I spend about 10£ for the thing, and I sell it to you for 100.000£ - now that is Return of Investment :grin: Now you tell me it is the value of the thought that counts, and I cannot help but feel someone has taken me for a ride. I would be happy to spend 12 Mio. £ on a Michelangelo, but 100.000£ on something that is essentially a pissed on canvas? Where is the line that separates art from idiocy? Is there one?
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Fox » 26 Jan 2009, 17:15

I would be happy to spend 12 Mio. £ on a Michelangelo, but 100.000£ on something that is essentially a pissed on canvas? Where is the line that separates art from idiocy? Is there one?
Good question. But I think this is getting away from the topic of the thread and maybe we can talk about this somewhere else.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 26 Jan 2009, 21:58

Sorry Baobab, your final paragraph about about drawing chairs and mailboxes, the meaning is lost to me.
Hi Fox. That paragraph was my way of trying to get this thread back on topic. I was saying that -

- people create art in different ways.

- the differences are products of different psyches.

- the art making practice is the focus of the opening post here rather than exhibition to/for others.

- making your own art and then looking at your own art (free from the judgements of others about what constitutes art or what value that art has) is a very powerful way of exploring your Self, which is again something that we all do in different ways.

I was however speaking from the point of view of someone who has had quite a bit of experience now at watching how people create and seeing how that can tell them an awful lot about themselves, so maybe I wasn't too clear in my expression of that. I could have explained myself a little better.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bardolino » 28 Jan 2009, 00:46

Hi Baobab, great seminar and a lot of interesting comments. I was struck by how many people were turned off art at an early age. Reading these comments reminded me of an incident at primary school that I hadn't thought about for years. I must have been about 10 years old and during a particularly boring art lesson me and my friend were messing about when the teacher wasn't looking and because of this I knocked a pot of paint over (or it might have been water, I'm not sure of some of the details). The teacher demanded to know why we were messing about and I said it was just a bit of fun. She said "This is an art lesson. You're not supposed to have fun."

For many years, that was what I thought of art, it's not supposed to be fun. It was nearly 30 years later before I decided I wanted to learn to draw and paint and started going to art classes and found out that she was wrong, art is supposed to be fun. As I look around me now I can see 6 paintings on my wall from that period, including the tiger that I use as my avatar on here that I painted in pastels, and I am filled with regret that I missed out on 30 years of art, not just because of that teacher, but because I always believed that art wasn't fun and wasn't for me.

It's getting late and I've got some painting to do before I go to bed.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 28 Jan 2009, 22:20

Bloody hell, Bardolino! You drew your avatar? I'd often wondered where you got it from, but never thought to ask you.

Please don't regret the years you lost. I don't. In fact, I think it was an essential part of what made me so excited about art. We never did it then, but we can do it now.

It's brilliant to talk to you.

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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 30 Jan 2009, 11:07

Ok so, it's the last day of January tomorrow, which means I will be handing over to my good friend Aelfarh. His seminar for February entitled The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore can be found HERE and on February 1st it will be stickied into place at the top of the Discuss Druidry forum. I am sure it will be a belting read, so go along and give him all your support.

This seminar will be moved to the ATTIC along with all the others, which are still open to read and write to, I believe. If you've missed any please feel free to go and look.

I would like to thank all those who have joined in with the discussion here. Without your efforts it really wouldn't have worked. :shake:
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Bracken » 07 Feb 2009, 19:34

Please can I link here to a related ritual that grew out of this discussion.

A ritual to bring into consciousness that which is unconscious.
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Re: January Seminar - Art Making as a Transformative Process.

Postby Andeg Myeengun » 16 Feb 2009, 05:41

There IS Modern Art, I agree, and yes, Art may need some interpretation sometimes, but too often I have the feeling that the real ART in the pieces is to get people to buy them for a lot of money....
:D

This reminds me on an exhibit the National Gallery in Ottawa had a few years ago. In the ``Modern Art'' section, they had a room with a black string stretched diagonally between the two opposite corners of the room. My dad said that there had been a mix up and they had forgotten to put up the actual `art' of that exhibit: the grant application.
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