There are many people who feel that they do not know art or the world in which it exists. Maybe this is true. You may not know art terminology, you may not know what piece sold at Christie’s or Sotheby’s or for what price, you may not know a lot of art stuff but the one thing that I am sure of is that you know what you like. And isn’t that all that matters. Buy what you are emotional about. Buy the piece that pulls you in; that you feel a connection to.
Carrying the Light
You should own some art even if you are not rich enough to buy a Picasso. Art is not only for the rich. Start where you are. There is a lot of good art out there at many different price points. Art is made for everyone’s soul so here are four fantastic reasons to start looking for art.
It enhances the feel of your space, giving that room character. There is nothing like a piece of art to transform cold, stark walls into a warm, interesting and aesthetically pleasing space. You will literally feel the difference in the space and in your own persona. This can extend to your mental state as well. Your mood is enhanced and we know that colour can affect mood positively. This is something you should want for the space that you occupy.
Art can start conversations. The right piece of art can start interesting and thought-provoking conversations. You invite friends, from time to time, into your space for food, drinks and of course, conversation. You want your get togethers to go well and that really depends on the conversation. The art you have purchased can be a great way to start and sustain the conversation. There are lots of issues and current affairs topics that we all have our opinions on. The discussion brought about by art can produce additional information, a different viewpoint, and possibly a change of heart. Art can be a force for change through conversations.
Art appreciates. Unlike a car that depreciates in value as soon as you drive it off the lot, art appreciates in value as time passes. Wouldn’t that be something you want? What other thing that you own and have in your space does that? You could be enhancing your space while making an investment. It’s a good, passive way to make money and a good legacy for your children or grand children.
Art can be a special legacy. It can capture the changing times, a great occasion, a person of note, just about anything. What if the art work you bought and are leaving behind was not only valuable in terms of money but in terms of your own culture – a legacy of cultural significance? To own and a Basquiat or a Kehinde Wiley would be more important to me than passing down a beautiful piece of jewelry or anything else because it speaks to black achievement and artistry. You may not be able to afford any of the artists mentioned but you can afford other good artists who have not yet made a name. Basquiat was not always famous. Go out there; buy some art and create a special legacy.
If anyone has bought any new art, let me know. What was it about the piece that pulled you in and held you?
If you have ever wondered how you can help the artist in your life (or any other artist) succeed, here are a few things. Chances are you may be doing some of these things already but maybe I will be able to put something new in the mix.
.Attend their art shows/Exhibition openings. We would all like you to attend our art show openings. This is where the art is presented and you get to speak one on one with the artists about the pieces. It can also be an impactful event because the opening is often indicative of how successful the overall show will be. If you cannot attend the opening, attend the show and let the artist know. He or she will appreciate it.
If you are ever going to purchase a gift for an artist, buy them art supplies. If buying art supplies is not your forte, ask the artists what to get. They will be happy and grateful to tell you. Art can be a very expensive venture; your gift will not go to waste.
Purchase a piece of art. It enhances the aesthetics of your space, spare your eyes from a blank wall and lift your spirits. In addition, the work you bought may increase in value. Who knows, in the future you may be able to make a profit from it. If you can’t afford the original, buy a print. Or commission the artist to do a piece for you that is within your budget.
Spread the word about the artist work within your circle, in person or on social media. There is nothing like word of mouth marketing. A positive endorsement from someone else goes a long way in influencing prospective art buyers and collectors. The endorsement may also open up other opportunities for the artists.
Show support on social media and by liking the work and following the artist. More than just clicking like and moving on, make a comment about the work. This shows that you really looked at the work and appreciate the value it brings to the world or just your community. Your comments may assist the artist with future projects in terms of giving people more of what they like and less of what they don’t.
As an artist, I am asked questions about inspiration all the time. What inspires you? Are you inspired all the time? What happens if you are not inspired? I will use this post to talk about two different kinds of inspiration.
Inspiration can come like a bolt of lightning. Its those moments when an idea is crystal clear and so fantastic that it can easily be transferred to canvas – or whatever your medium is. These moments are genius and can feel especially great. We all love these moments because everything flows. It all comes together perfectly.
Waiting in Vain, 2016
But inspiration does not work that way all the time. Inspiration can also be found within the grind. In the lightning bolt scenario, inspiration comes, then you create. With the grind, you must do the work for inspiration to appear.
If you do not have that bolt every time you want to create a work of art, what will you do? I cannot sit and wait for the next bolt to come or I would have significantly fewer pieces in my portfolio. What I do in times when lightning does not strike, is approach the canvas, my paints, my brushes, my thoughts. I stand face to face with my creative nemesis, I sketch, I design, I begin painting to see what comes, struggling through. In the process of creating, I am also chasing inspiration and I know that I will find it. The evidence will be in the finished product.
Finding inspiration in the grind is not just about artists or creative people, its for anyone who wants to accomplish anything. I am a creative so I use creative references. If you are a writer, you will have to sit down in front of a computer even if you have no clue what you will write. You will have to hit those keys. Write a line. Delete it. Write another. Starting your process is an invitation to inspiration to come in. It wants to come in. Sometimes it is reluctant but if you stick with the process long enough it will come.
Today I wish for you all the lightning bolts of inspiration you can get. However, when those fade, I wish for you the patience and tenacity to sit down and start working so that inspiration may come.
To Leave the Beaten Path. Art allows me to leave the usual path. I could paint what everybody else is painting, I can do the popular thing. But how will I make my mark as an imitator? How will I be different? Leaving the beaten path allows me to discover new ways to create, allows me to take risks and to learn new things about myself. When I am on the road not travelled, I am alone and have only my own creative thoughts to depend on.
To have an open mind. To leave the well travelled road, forces me to have an open mind. I carve out my own style. I paint the subjects I want to paint. I experiment with different paints and use various found objects in my work. Opening my mind leaves me available and open to new things which will enrich my mind, my art and my life.
To let go. If I am going to have an open mind, I have to let go. It’s much easier to do this in art than in life. But as I said, I am using one to inform the other. We all have perceptions that we hold dear; we are slaves to our culture, our family, our friends, our ancestors and we could go on. We are all colouring within the line but what if we coloured outside of it? What would we discover within ourselves and within our world?
All I need to do is start. I don’t need to be intimidated by a blank canvas. The empty space is waiting on me to make my mark. The canvas is yearning for me to use it to bring a story to life. I don’t always know what I will paint but I stand before the canvas and I think about what I can create that will be impactful. As soon as I start, the path starts to reveal itself. The reveal is not always quick but if I persist it becomes sure.
There is always another way. If I start and I realize that my creation is not going the way I envisioned it, I can change midstream. I have created works that I did not like. I gesso them over and create something new. These paintings are always the better ones because they have been through the fire of failure and came out popping. There are many ways to fill an empty canvas – different colours, different textures, more pop. This is the reason we should not be afraid to start. We have the ability to adjust.
To surround myself with people who understand my dreams and encourage it. This is the final one and it is a big one. The business of art is already challenging so I do not surround myself with naysayers who sap my energy and diminish my creativity with negative thoughts. I sever any cord that would tie me to discord, to anything that will let me lose focus, to anyone that feed self doubt. Self doubt can mean death to a creative. I surround myself with light; with people who encourage and help me to find my path. This is a very important life lesson – hold fast to dream builders; let go of dream killers. Light in; darkness out.
There is no perfection. There is only the best I can do in this moment. Every piece of art that I have ever done could have been done in many different ways. Perfection is really just a prerequisite for procrastination. We know where procrastination leads – nowhere. We must do all we can with the skills that we have and then let it go.
Silence and alone time is the best time for new ideas. We live in a very noisy world with so many things pushing and pulling us that it can be hard to think. It can be hard to hear our own thoughts and separate trivialities from substance. Alone time is precious and can lead to our best ideas. I come up with some of my best ideas when I am alone and there are no distractions.
Patience is indeed a virtue. A piece of work may not always take the direction I want it to but I work through it and persevere until I have something I can be proud of. Patience is a sort of waiting game and sometimes waiting is not a bad thing.
Art has taught me to be more observant; to see more. I see spaces, lines, colours depth and how they are used and how they relate to each other. I have come to appreciate the spaces between as much as the focal point itself. I take this into other aspects of my life to listen more, to observe more and to be more present. Awareness enhances life.
Details matter. It is the details that make the big picture. Every shadow, every line, every colour, every space, everything matters to the whole.
I usually explain my artworks to interested people by telling them my thoughts and intentions when I was creating the pieces. I tend not to definitively state that this is what it is because I want room for other views. My works for the most part have been described as contemplative and interpretive. In light of this, the work is really left up to the viewer’s interpretation and that is how I like it.
I meet many people everyday who used to do some form of art. And they usually ask me how I keep doing art because for whatever reason they did not continue. I guess that they are really asking me about dedication, time or passion. And I guess that they assume that art, for me, is a choice.
It is not a choice. It is a calling. Art is constantly calling me to make something. It insistently wakes me up at nights, interrupts my days, and holds my mind and soul hostage with ideas that it wants me to translate to canvas. If there are other artist reading this, I know that they understand what I mean. They have experienced the constant gnawing, yearning, and need to create.
It is a kind of bitter sweet pursuit. There is the fulfillment of creation – bringing an idea from conception to fruition. But art is not food, at least not in the common sense. People need to eat, sleep and have a roof over their heads but they do not need art. If people do not have a piece of art, they will not die, again not in the normal sense. But what a drab, bland and utterly colourless existence people would have without it in their spaces and lives.
So while I am aware that it is difficult to succeed as an artist, it has no bearing on why I create. Creation for me is a means of survival. If I do not do it, I will die. If I do not give in to the urge, I will go mad. Paradoxically, I might go mad giving in to the urge but that is another story. My only point now is that making art is not a choice, when art chooses me.
People say things to me all the time like, you know you may not make any money from art until you are dead or you know there are few artists who make any money from art. I smile and nod. Noted. I don’t argue. There is some amount of truth to what they say and some amount of falsehood too. There are many living artists who are making a great living and there are many great artists who are not. But I don’t argue because I will have to explain that art is not a choice. Art chooses me.
Will be on show at the Ben Navaee Gallery September 20 – 29, 2013
Many people do not feel that they understand art. They feel intimidated by it and do not know how to interpret a piece that they come across. They also feel intimidated by most galleries with their highfalutin prices and unapproachable atmosphere. I wish people did not feel this way because art is fun and much of it is left up to your own interpretation. Art is an engaging activity that requires you to really look and experience a short story that is told in a composed, colourful and conceptual way. All of us can experience this.
I am going to use a piece that I did called “Shrouded” to explain my thoughts while I was doing it and to demonstrate that the viewer can have a totally different interpretation that is as good, if not better than what the artist intended.
The piece, shown above, depicts a woman, wearing a head scarf, who is hidden behind what appears to be bars. My thoughts as I was doing the piece was that there are a lot of us who are hidden behind something. This thing that we are hidden behind can bring us a sense of comfort, security and escape. We can have a feeling of protection and a sense of belonging within this shroud.
Paradoxically, we can also feel trapped, imprisoned and stifled by this very thing. All we want to do is escape from it.
That was the dichotomy present in my mind while creating this piece. I showed a picture of this painting to my friend Himanshu. He told me that the woman is a mystery woman who many have tried to get to know but cannot because of the impenetrable walls that she has put up. I thought that was a very insightful comment and interpretation. It was never something that I the artist had thought of but it fits right into the shrouded theme. How cool is that?
This ability to look, see, experience and interpret is not out of anyone’s reach. Take some time to experience a piece of art. When you get right down to it art is really an experience. You might be surprised to find that you can figure out more than you think you would all because you took the time to look.