While Spring Break might conjure images of sandy beaches and margaritas for most, we in Oregon have a slightly different reality. I'll let the Canon A520, in all her muzzy pixelated glory, do the explaining. . .
That's right people— here's a chance to see a considerable amount of work in progress by yours truly as well as visit a labyrinth of studios filled with everything from mask-makers to video artists.
Please note that I will only be participating on Friday night as Saturday needs to be set aside for continuing to work on the upcoming OCAC show. Nevertheless, I do hope you can stop by to chat and give me some feedback.
The address is 221 SE 11th Ave and I'm in Studio 10 on the upper (3rd) floor. The studio is just two blocks off Burnside, at the famously difficult to navigate Burnside/Sandy intersection.
There are many who wish to be artists and many more who admire artists. For those in the former group I've decided to share a few reflections I've had regarding being an artist in the contemporary world (for those in the latter group, I salute you). Like most things in life, simple desire is not tantamount to success, so it is important to know what a life with art actually entails, and to understand what it is you are specifically looking for from a creative pursuit.
I believe that the single most important thing to being an artist, the proverbial stock to the soup, is receptivity. In order to be creative in any way one must be open to the inspirations and impulses that are at work in the world and in yourself. Now this isn't some vague prattle meant to skirt the nuts and bolts knowledge required to succeed as an artist; this is the very essence of why a select few are compelled to create as well as consume.
There is a huge difference to viewing your day as mundane or profound, and the truth is that most people struggle with breaking free of the mundane perception. By way of example, let me simply work with the present moment:
My legs are overly warm, which means that the computer in my lap is generating energy from the processing of billions of digits into information I perceive as pictures an words in a state of flux on a glowing screen. Countless electrical charges are firing throughout my body to indicate that my legs are both warm and under a bit of pressure from the weight of the computer which is under the influence (as all things are) from a gravitational force that holds the entire ever-growing vastness of the universe in some semblance of order. My heart beats without my registering it and my lungs are filled with a combination of gasses only made possible by the swaying greenery outside. A swaying greenery that, when stripped bare in the winter time, remarkably resembles the entire vascular structure of the circulatory system that delivers the life-giving gasses from the lungs through the action of the beating heart. I could go on, because I've only written one millionth of one second of possible perceived perception, but I think the point is clear.
The world, your world, is not mundane. Language and familiarity may make it so to aid us in keeping jobs, forming relationships, and communicating desire, but at no point in your life are you devoid of inspiration.
All of the successful artists that I know are interested in a wide variety of topics. Certainly they have their areas of special concern, but all of them value both ideas and experience. All of them remain open to questioning the boxes we draw around concepts, words, and perceptions. They play with the constructs of reality they were presented with in school and at home growing up because they recognize that, ultimately, the world is more full of what we don't know than what we do. In that regard, like scientists, they are pushing at the membrane of accepted perceptions. Unlike scientists, they may do it in a decidedly irrational or convoluted manner, with the success of the endeavor being measured more, to borrow a well-known cliche, by the journey than the destination.
Receptivity is a form of inspiration that I don't see discussed as much because it implies a more diminutive role for the ego than we are accustomed to granting artists. Certainly the state of receptivity is indicative of the personality at work, but the implication is that the world outside of the individual holds the majority of the mystery, and receptivity is simply a window to that awareness. This is somewhat counter to the rather heroic perception of the artist-ego as generator of mystery that has, for a variety of reasons too heady to enter into here, permeated popular perceptions of creativity since the Renaissance onward. To stand and honor receptivity is to state that the artist is not so much a force as a translator of force. It is to accept that even the creative life, when placed in the profound complexity of creation, is ultimately a very small one.
Nevertheless, I believe there is a profound satisfaction that comes from mirroring the magnificence of creation with individual expressions of creation. While some might say art is a type of tribute, others would simply state that the creative act strengthens one's receptive powers and thereby gives them an ever richer experience of life. Either way, it is important to remember that an artistic life is as much a relationship with those things outside of us as it is an expression of the personality within.
A good friend of mine, knowing my proclivity for poorly rendered photographs, recently gifted me his old Canon Powershot A520. While certainly not the lowest resolution digital camera I've ever used, at only 4.0 mega pixels it is easily outperformed by most cell phones now. I've already grown quite fond of it, as it allows me to take candid process photos of work I'm doing in the studio (like the failed transfer I'm attempting to reclaim that is pictured above) as well as shoot without fear in all sorts of miserable weather. It's quick to pull out and put away, with very few photographic choices getting in the way of my quickly framing an image and activating the shutter. In short, it's the perfect point-and-shoot, and I'll be presenting some of my favorites here from time to time so that you can see the sort of imagery that inspires and, periodically, graduates to becoming full-fledged drawings/paintings.
For over a decade Jeffrey T. Baker has explored the elegiac and sublime through his mixed media artworks. He harbors an unapologetic predisposition for the decayed and imperfect.
Presented here are his thoughts on artistic process, inspirations, tutorials, and information about related upcoming events.
Posts prior to 2011 visit Subjective: The Artful Life