Poetry Is…

This morning I had the pleasure of reading a portion of Mary Oliver’s poem “The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac” and coming to tears over it.  I began contemplating the strong responses different individuals have to poetry…

I know I’ve written about poetry before, usually in April when I encourage my children to participate in National Poetry Month by reading from a variety of poets & writing their own haiku or limericks.  I think back to when I was a teenager frustrated with trying to understand some centuries old verse full of complicated language and obscure references.  I wish there had been more work like Oliver’s & Angelou’s in those dusty old school books.

I may wonder, briefly, why so many people groan and grimace when they hear someone mentioning poetry.  Then that 14 year old me awakens in my brain and says “Seriously? Do we have to go over ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ again?”  A quick search of Google this morning presents me with 160 million pages of results for “reasons people don’t like poetry.”  The first being an article on the site PoeJazzi entitled “10 Reasons People Hate Poetry” by Kevin Pocock

Remembering my young self, my dislike of poetry was about more than feeling ignorant when presented with that dense old verse.  It was being told to write a poem for class and feeling embarrassed at it’s inadequacy, the frustration with the different rhythms, it was the sense that the only other poetry out there was in the schmaltzy script on the cover of a Hallmark card.  But above all, I believe it was my own lack of experience.

I was a teenager.  I had felt the highs of young love, and the heartbreak, the gloomy mood swings, and the universal sense of being completely misunderstood…

utterly alone

But the primary reason I found it difficult to enjoy poetry was I’d simply not lived enough to find understanding and empathy in the works of poets.  Life is full of so many feelings and experiences far beyond the scope of an adolescent’s imagination.  I think we need to have lived a bit more to fully embrace good poetry, or good writing in general.  Unfortunately, with the number of people who would rather clean out their garage than read poetry, it seems that once the forced readings of those school days are left behind, the bad impressions are strong enough to deter further attempts to enjoy the art.

There is a quote that is attributed to Mark Twain (and Oscar Wilde, and George Bernard Shaw):  “Youth is wasted on the young.”   I think the same could be said for poetry.  That won’t stop me from encouraging my children read it, but it does go a long way to maintain my calm when they pull out that “do we haaaaave to?” whine.   It should also serve to remind, that when one has a chance, sharing a moving poem provides an opportunity to awaken others to the beauty and emotional connection contained within the words.



Franz Marc – Nature’s Colorful Spirit

On this date in 1880, in Munich, Germany, Franz Marc was born. In his short life he helped blaze trails for, and participated in, the birth of the modern art movement. During his 36 years he studied the masters, his work passed gracefully from impressionism, to expressionism, to fauvism, and on into cubism.

He maintained friendships with the most pioneering artists of his day. He inspired & was inspired by some of the most notable artists of the early 20th century, including August Macke, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Robert Delaunay, and Paul Klee. Marc & Wassily Kandinsky were the creative cornerstone for Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider) movement & published an almanac by the same name.

A painting of two horses by Franz Marc

Franz Marc’s earlier works show the impressionistic influence of his art education. “Small Horse Picture” painted in 1909

Fran Marc large-lenggries-horses-1908

Large Lenggries Horses, painted in 1908. Another transitional work by Franz Marc.

Franz Marc horse-in-a-landscape-1910

“Horse in a Landscape” Painted in 1910 shows the development of Marc’s interest in & studies of color theory.

Blue Horse I (1910) is one of Marc's most famous works.  Here again we see man (in this case, likely Marc himself) represented by the strong figure of the horse and emphasized by the masculine blue.

Blue Horse I (1910) is one of Marc’s most famous works. Here again we see man (in this case, likely Marc himself) represented by the strong figure of the horse and emphasized by the masculine blue.

Franz Marc's "Red and Blue Horse", painted in 1912, beautifully illustrates his symbolism in color.  The masculine blue horse in the foreground, balanced by the feminine red horse.  He is moving steadily away from the representational and toward the abstract.

Franz Marc’s “Red and Blue Horse”, painted in 1912, beautifully illustrates his symbolism in color. The masculine blue horse in the foreground, balanced by the feminine red horse. He is moving steadily away from the representational and toward the abstract.

Franz Marc the-tower-of-blue-horses-1913

The “Tower of Blue Horses” (1913) is filled with symbolism and Marc’s fascination with the spirit in nature. The blue color representing the male and masculinity. We can clearly see the cubist elements in this piece. It is very unfortunate that this huge piece has been missing since 1945. It must have been breathtaking to behold in person.

He was killed on March 4, 1916, while serving during WWI, just days before he was to return home.  It’s heartbreaking to imagine what marvelous work he could have continued to create had he survived the war. But the spirit of his completed works transcend time.  His colorful, spellbinding scenes continue to inspire artists of all ages, as I’m sure they will for centuries to come.

“Like everything genuine, its inner life guarantees its truth. All works of art created by truthful minds without regard for the work’s conventional exterior remain genuine for all times.” – Franz Marc

Learn more about Franz Marc’s life & view many more examples of his work at FranzMarc.org

Swift Legal Action Against Intellectual Property Thieves

Business Insider published an article this morning about Taylor Swift’s legal team issuing cease and desist notices to Etsy sellers who use her image and lyrics on their items without authorization.  You can read the piece by Rob Price here: http://read.bi/1DHD3n8

I am so glad this behavior is finally getting the shutdown it deserves!  Somehow these Etsy sellers assume it’s fine to steal the lyrics Swift has worked so hard to craft and promote, and paste them on a mug, pillow, or cell phone case to sell and make a quick buck with no effort on their own part.  The same goes for thieves who steal Disney, Harry Potter, or any other famous images and plaster them on items to sell as their own “handmade work.”

I can’t believe the “seller” they quoted in the article was capable of finishing his/her comment without choking on the gall:  “It feels as though we don’t matter, that our ideas and creations never belonged to us in the first place.”

That’s exactly the problem!  You didn’t create anything with your own ideas.  You stole Swift’s image & ideas and uploaded them onto Zazzle to make an iphone cover, then listed it on Etsy.  Not one step of that process involved your own original ideas or creations.

What really gets me is that Swift is only able to take on the theft occurring every day on Etsy because she has the financial resources to sick a team of lawyers on the culprits.  There are wonderful professional artists out there, whose photographs & paintings are stolen in the very same manner & resold on Etsy and similar sites, and who have no recourse because of the time and money involved in seeking out and legally confronting the forgers/visual plagiarists.

I certainly hope this trend continues on Etsy.  It could make finding the creative works and handmade items of honest artists and artisans a little easier!

Choosing Your Paint Brushes

Have you every found yourself standing in your art supply store, before an isle full of paint brushes of all shapes, sizes, and colors, and felt overwhelmed with all the choices?  Are you confused about which brushes would suit your chosen medium and artistic style the best?  I use to feel the same way!  So I’ve uploaded a brief lesson on the brushes I most often use, including a painting demonstration of my favorites.

The video covers a variety of paint brush shapes and bristle materials, & selecting the right brush for your medium. At the end of the video I paint a brief study using some of my favorite brushes.

Discussed in the video are:
Flats, Brights, Filberts, & Rounds. I also show examples of fan & script brushes.

For my oil paintings I prefer using boar bristle brights & filberts of various sizes, as well as small synthetic rounds.

The dark handled bristle brushes at the beginning of the video are Utrecht brand Interlocked from Dick Blick Art Supply. I love these brushes!

In the painting demo I use the following, in order:
-Size 12 Blick Scholastic Wonder White Bright
-Size 12 Blick Scholastic Wonder White Filbert
-Size 1 Utrecht 209-F Finest Interlocked Filbert
-Size 2 Utrecht 233 Round White Nylon Sable

For more examples of my work visit http://www.joycebrandonart.com

Snowy Day Painting Project – Get Creative!

Yesterday, while portions of the East coast were snowed in (or expecting to be), we put together a quick video demonstration of an art project for you.  The project uses inexpensive acrylic paints and…  Canned air!

It’s fun, it’s easy, and artists of any age can enjoy creating their own unique pieces.  For very young artists, please be sure to supervise the use of the canned air, as it can hurt the skin if used improperly.

Check it out & like it (if you like it)!

No Projector? No Problem! Transfer Sketches to Canvas

I’ve had a Youtube account for a while now and have been considering a variety of ideas on making videos for it.  I have a few slideshows up, displaying the evolution of some of my portraits & sketches.  But I’d like to expand into tutorials for artists of all ages.

In speaking with a lot of my children’s friends and our 4-H members, I’m finding that schools are phasing out art classes, especially in elementary and middle school grades, where kids don’t have the option of multiple elective courses.  Many of you may be aware that this is an expansion of cuts that have included recess and music, with administrators primarily citing fund shortages and more time needed for test preparation as reasons for the losses. (see “Make Art, Transform Lives: The Importance of Art Education” http://www.creativecareersinfo.com/education/make-art-transform-lives-the-importance-of-art-education   and   “Don’t Cut Art & Music Teachers” http://www.cincinnati.com/story/opinion/2014/11/19/opinion-cut-art-music-teachers/19268249/)

I plan to keep videos brief, under 10 minutes, and present demonstrations that would be helpful and interesting to aspiring artists, as well as parents or home educators who are searching for ways to cultivate creativity or enrich lessons.

In my first video I present three different ways to transfer a drawing from your sketchbook onto a canvas.

Upcoming videos will include a variety of art lessons, on technique, theory, and occasionally spotlighting great artists.  I may also throw in a product review here and there.  Do you have an area of interest you’d like featured?  Let me know & I’ll see what I can do!

A portrait of Edna

Edna is a lovely dog I was commissioned to paint for a new client.  As usual, after I received a few reference photos, I set to work creating a preliminary sketch for the client to review and approve before moving on to the actual painting.  I created a quick slideshow on my YouTube channel to show a bit of the progression from sketch to completed portrait.