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An Art Collector Turned Successful Painter

by David Phillips

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Not finding what she was looking for as an art collector, Lorna Wallace took matters into her own hands and began to create the missing art herself. In just a few years, marketing her paintings and prints through the internet and using the Fine Art Registry to protect her work as well as help sell and add value to it, she’s become a successful and popular painter in her own right with many international collectors seeking her pieces.

Collector to artist
“If someone had told me four years ago that I was going to be a full time artist I would have looked at them like they had three heads,” says Lorna Wallace in her Chandler, Arizona studio. “I got very lucky and was able to find a niche and a market for my work.”

Lorna had been collecting fine art for years. There was a certain type of art that she was looking for. She searched and searched. When finally she realized it wasn’t out there she decided to create it herself. That was in 2002. Now she is a well known, successful and listed artist with over 400 paintings to her name, all of which have sold, and she’s so busy selling limited edition prints that she doesn’t have enough time to paint as much as she’d like.

Daily Yoga In Chanel - by Lorna Wallace

What was she looking for that she couldn’t find in the work of some of her favorite artists: Picasso, Paul Klee, Wilhem DeKooning, Walter Keane, Marie Laurencin, Andy Warhol? “I loved art and I loved designer wear and I never saw anything out there as far as art goes that combined the two,” she explains. ” I did a lot of different research and looked at a lot of different art work and then I thought, You know what, I’ll give it a try. I don’t think it’s too common for an art collector to decide they want to try their own artistic hand and actually attempt to market it. I truly began to paint what I wanted to collect that I just couldn’t find in the market.”

Her paintings are mostly of glamour girls. They are parodies of the designer look: Chanel, Dior, Versace and so on. “It’s all a parody,” explains Lorna. “Every glamour girl I paint has a different mood or expression that I’m trying to convey and I’m usually trying to convey in the title as well. Not just in the painting. It’s all in good fun. Here are these women–and I’m one of them–I love designer wear and I love my labels and I’m out there parodying that whole…whatever mood you’re in you’re in some designer piece.”

She calls it glam art and says there’s pop culture in everything she does. She’s the first to admit that her paintings are simple. The lines are simple and the colors are simple. But they have a charm and a message that communicates, mostly to women but she has male clients as well, and the demand is higher than the supply, even after just a few years.

“I truly began to paint what I wanted to collect
that I just couldn’t find in the market.”

The internet
Who's That Lady In Chanel - by Lorna WallaceAfter working for a Fortune 500 company as an operations manager for most of her career, Lorna was ready for a change. The timing couldn’t have been better. “If it weren’t for the internet, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she says. She markets 99% of her work through various internet sites. “The internet has TOTALLY leveled the playing field in the art world. You no longer have to be subjected to a jury to determine whether or not your work can be seen. As a collector, I’ve never liked that whole concept. Who are these people anyway that try and determine what should and shouldn’t be shown? Art is a personal thing and just because it may not speak to a handful of people on a art jury, doesn’t mean that it won’t or shouldn’t have an audience.”

Having an audience has certainly been no problem for Lorna. She started selling her oil and acrylic paintings for $10 each to test the market. That was 4 years ago. She now sells her original paintings for as much as $1500 each and the price continues to rise as they become more sought after. Of her 400 or so original paintings she has sold all but a handful and her limited edition print series of 250 titled, signed and numbered prints are also selling fast.

The Fine Art Registry

“Fine Art Registry to me is my web site, it’s my portfolio and that’s how I want to keep it. I can’t imagine why I’d ever want to create another web site.”

Lorna’s viewpoint is not just that of an artist. She also sees her work through the eyes of an experienced collector, something which most artists are not, at least when they start. “Whether I’m creating, marketing or just simply talking about art with peers or collectors, I’m always wearing both the artist and collector hat. For me they’re intertwined and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

So words like “provenance” and “authenticity” probably mean more to her than they do to most artists. “If you can trace a piece of artwork back to the artist it’s going to be worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it would have if you can’t,” she says. “The provenance is critical. That is the biggest plus and bonus and that service [Fine Art Registry] is worth its weight in gold to me.”

She tags and registers all of her paintings and her limited edition prints on FAR. The FAR web site is the record of her work and always will be, down through the centuries. Because she had already sold some of her pieces before FAR was there, she made a point of purchasing tags and sending them to her clients so that they could tag and register each piece. She also does her best to keep up with electronic transfer of ownership.

Haunted In Chanel - by Lorna Wallace

Through FAR, because her collection was all there in one place for all to see, Lorna received many commissions, to the point where she no longer accepts them on the whole because she prefers to create what she wants to and she has no problem selling all that she paints. She also sells many of her limited edition prints directly from the FAR web site galleries.

Part of her reason for tagging and registering her work is out of consideration for her clients. “I realize when people buy my artwork that they’re investing in my art and I appreciate that and I want to take care of them long term whether they realize it or not. No matter who’s buying it I appreciate it and I take that extra step in providing that service for them. To me that’s one of the biggest pluses of FAR. It’s just being able to establish that provenance for my client while I’m still living.”

Copyright and imitation is another issue that Lorna finds FAR has been helpful with. “That’s another great thing about Fine Art Registry,” explains the artist. “When you register a piece, you basically date stamp when it was created. I have used Fine Art Registry to make a point and send the link to certain artists when their work begins to resemble mine.”

Then there is theft and loss. Lorna markets most of her work on the internet and she mails the paintings or prints to her clients. A couple of times the package hasn’t made it to its destination.” I’ve had it happen twice. It’s very rare, but it’s nice to be able to mark it as ‘stolen’ on Fine Art Registry. This becomes a strong deterrent in that respect.” Once or twice someone’s check has bounced and again, she’s been able to label the painting “stolen” giving the name and address of the person who stole it. “At that point in time, it’s the only recourse I have but at least it’s something… on record.”

Summary
Her unique perspective of collector and artist probably gives Lorna the clearest view possible of the value of the Fine Art Registry.

To her it has been and is an integral part of her very rapid and visible success as an artist. Not only she and her clients but the whole art world gains from the order and stability that the Fine Art Registry system provides.

David Phillips | June 1, 2006

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Setting Off on the Right Foot

by David Charles – 6/14/2006

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Sylvie Levesque is beginning her career as a painter – the right way
Although her mother is a great artist, her sister is also a talented painter and art has been “in her blood” since she was a kid, Sylvie Levesque has become a professional painter by a rather circuitous route. In fact she only took up painting as a profession at the beginning of 2005. Born near Montreal in 1965, Sylvie majored in Education with a Minor in Special Education and set off on a career as a teacher. Her husband’s work, and perhaps a touch of fate, landed her in Cupertino, California in 2002.

On her arrival in California, Sylvie decided to take up something completely different from her teaching career. She went to work in a picture framing shop, framing people’s art work. She learned from scratch how to matt and frame pictures. “People came to see me to frame their work and they trusted me to mount and frame their art. I would give them tips on how to protect and preserve their artwork for generations,” she says. “It opened a door for me. I was seeing art every day. One day I thought, ‘I am doing that for everybody else, I should do it for myself,’ so I decided to start out doing my own art.”

Sylvie Levesque in her studio

From one day to the next she quit the framing job and started painting professionally. She had been painting on the side but work and family commitments didn’t leave her much time to do what she really wanted to do: PAINT.

The first painting Sylvie sold, when she showed her art at the Silicon Valley Open Studio, was one of the first she ever painted. Since then she has concentrated on the sale of her prints.

“What I paint depends on the feeling I have,” she says. Some of her paintings are of women, some are of still life, some landscapes, animals and so on, each seen through her own, unique eye. “The fun begins when I start applying the paint.” She paints mostly in acrylic and oil but her preference is for the oil. “Except for ‘La proposition bleue’ rarely finished a painting with acrylic. I like oil more because the finish is more natural and an oil painting always looks like it’s been freshly painted.” Sometimes she paints in two or three media, such as oil over acrylics or even watercolor, then acrylics and then oil. There is a lot of variety and experimentation in Sylvie’s paintings and lots of surprises. She likes to paint fast and her best paintings are started and finished in an afternoon. “You capture the moment and the spontaneity,” she explains. Recently she has put away her brushes and taken to the palette knife. More experimentation.

Sylvie Levesque artwork

Sylvie and FAR
Sylvie came across the Fine Art Registry when she was just browsing one day, but it was one of the better discoveries she has made, certainly from point of view of the business side of her art and the future security of her work. “I thought it doesn’t cost too much to try so I tried. After that I thought, ‘Oh this is cool, I can do this. Wow!’ Then I went to the website again and saw all the art and realized I should have ordered more tags. Then I ordered more and more tags and then I realized I had to pay for the shipping each time and that I should have ordered more to begin with. Last time I ordered 100. I’ve got some left.”

“For me tagging is a reward,” she says. “When I tag a painting and register it, it means I’m done with it and now I can go on to something else. When I register my work on line it doesn’t cost anything and I can see it up there on the website right away which is great. It’s very easy to do and doesn’t take very long.”

Sylvie Levesque - Les cerises inspirantes

Sylvie has her own web site as well, but the Fine Art Registry set-up works better. “I don’t have all my paintings on my web site because it takes longer to do it than at FAR. It’s a lot of work and requires more skill. I have to pay someone to do it. It costs much more money. So FAR is great for that.”

Of course with her experience in a frame shop, she is in an ideal position to see the value of the Fine Art Registry™ tag and registration process. She explains what it means to her art, to her clients and to the whole field:

“There are a lot of advantages to tagging. When people come to see my paintings I have four key words that I use to explain to them. The first key word is the provenance. You know where it comes from, where it goes, you know I am the artist. If this person buys the art and another person wants to buy it we know the history of the piece and that’s the provenance of the art. It’s important to know where it came from.

“The next thing is the authenticity of the art. It’s an original. I made it and I know it’s original when I tag it and the registration and the tag plus the certificate are proof.

Sylvie Levesque - Les fee des bois

“The other word is the security of your art. It prevents the fakery, people who want to steal it. It’s got a tag on the back with a number and that number corresponds to a full record with photos on line. You go on line and see which one it should be. If that had been for all paintings it would have prevented some major thefts.

Proof of ownership is the last point and that goes along with online transfer of ownership.

“When you sell a car you want to give as much information as possible to sell your car. The same when you are buying. You want to get as much information about the car when you buy it to make sure you have right car. That’s what FAR does for art.

“The last print I sold, I asked the customer if he wanted it tagged and he said ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ It was $12 additional to do that and he was really happy that I suggested it to him. So it’s not just the originals that I tag. I tag the prints as well. He was happy that I could give him the support of tagging and registering his print.” Sylvie was amazed at the personal help and support she got from the Fine Art Registry. “Sometimes I had a technical question and I wrote to them and they called me right back and maybe spent an hour with me on the phone, helping me through. If they’re doing that for everybody… They take care of their customers. I feel very lucky to have FAR with me. It’s a very great thing. I tell all my friends about it.”

Sylvie Levesque - Pretesse

The future
Sylvie’s dream is to combine her art with her teaching. How? By teaching art but not in a school or college set-up. “I would like to fuse together my degree in education with my passion for art,” she says. “I would like to have a studio of my art and welcome students to paint with me and teach art and painting. Doing art with different kinds of people – adults, kids, people with disabilities, anyone.”

But first she wants to become better known as an artist, and then combine that with her teaching skills. And she’s on her way.

David Charles | June 14, 2006

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Art is a Verb: Sculptor, painter, creative coach and art expert Charles Sherman finds a new tool: the Fine Art Registry

by David Charles – 7/12/2006

The road to creation

“If I could make one statement about art, it’s that the essence of art is that it’s a verb, not a noun,” says Charles Sherman. “It’s a process. And when you fully understand that it’s a process, you let the art take its own course. Even the clay has a life of its own and knows where it wants to go and I try to facilitate that.”

Things have changed a lot for Charles since he was growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in New Jersey. “I have always wanted to be an artist since I was a little kid,” he recalls. He won awards in the subject when at high school. However, instead of going into art when he finished school, he went into business, thinking that one day he would retire and then be a full time artist. His first job was as a high diver in Atlantic City.

Time went on and when he was 34, having tried various jobs and business ventures (professional athlete, stock exchange, street peddling, etc.) without huge success or satisfaction, it dawned on Charles that he never was going to retire and become an artist. “I thought I might as well do what I wanted to do in life,” he recalls. So he started going to watercolor classes and turned out beautiful little paintings and received great encouragement from his friends. “It turned my life completely inside out,” he says. “I started joining all the arts organizations, reading every article I could, subscribing to all the trade magazines, attending drawing workshops four times a week and just completely immersing myself in this world of art.”

From flat art he moved into sculpture by way of that ubiquitous symbol of creativity and beauty, the egg. “I was studying early mythologies and I fell in love with the egg form,” Charles recalls. The beginnings of figurative sculpture coincided with stumbling across the Genesis creation myth in his mythology studies and soon Charles found himself making sculptures of Bible stories. The Bible series went on for about 10 years. Charles was very successful, exhibiting at a gallery on Rodeo Drive and selling all he could make and for very respectable prices.

An artist’s dream, you would think. But Charles was not satisfied. His two driving purposes in life that govern everything he does are 1) to become a better person and 2) to become a better artist. “The work was really good,” he explains. “It was figurative. And it ran its course and I realized one day this isn’t really art, it isn’t who I am, other people could be doing this. I need to dig deeper and try to find a deeper core of my creative soul. What’s underneath all of this? Then one day a mysterious voice came over me and it said. ‘Charles, just chill out. Nobody cares about your ideas, political and philosophical statements. Let’s just make the art. Just make something beautiful and stop trying to explain ideas and philosophy. Let’s just create beauty.’ Since that point I’ve just been going in that direction, starting with abstract sculptures, and since about 1999 they’ve been getting simpler and simpler and purer and purer.”

Infinity

Charles’ current work has centered on what he calls infinity rings. He worked out how to do what no one else in the world has been able to do: make a mobius ring, 3-dimensional, out of hollow clay. The problem is that the clay tends to collapse and implode when formed and fired. “So I figured this out and now I’m trying to develop those and make them more beautiful and put text on them and just experiment and try to create something with these rings. I call them infinity rings because a person can experience infinity by moving their finger around any plane. You always come back to where you started.”

Having gone through a period of political and religious or mythological art and come out the other end, Charles believes that the job of the artist is not to say who is right or who is wrong. “The job of the artist is to express feeling or emotion or to search into the mystery of the unknown.”

“I have no desire to make social, political, religious or ideological statements,” he says. “There is no desire for my work to be visionary or spiritual. In addition, I have no desire to make art or beauty. My process of creativity is an act of love as one slab of clay is built upon another. Art and beauty happen to be a by-product, not the goal.

“I make art because I love making it, and find joy in the moment of creativity. I aspire in work and in life to deeper levels of truth through art.

“There is no fear of the unknown. Obstacles, challenges and mysteries are taken on with excitement and enthusiasm.

“’Create with passion’, is my statement of the excitement of creativity. The only thing that matters is that the art is being created in the moment. I love watching the subtlety in the clay. The most wonderful part is feeling the lushness of the clay, merging into other pieces of clay and being a witness to its unfolding.”

Art in general, Fine Art Registry in particular

Charles is not only a successful and accomplished artist and sculptor. He is very thoroughly versed in the history of art and has worked as a creative coach, art consultant, art dealer and is also a respected art appraiser with a reputation as an art sleuth. As an artist he also has to contend with the administration involved in producing and selling art and would love to turn this part of his work over to someone else so that he can get on with what he loves the most: creating.

So the Fine Art Registry and everything it is working to achieve came as a very welcome addition to his life. Charles stumbled upon FAR somewhat by accident when he was asked to do an appraisal on someone who was registering a number of works of art in the Fine Art Registry. Now he has begun to tag and register his own pieces as he sells them.

“The Fine Art Registry to me is a back-up drive,” Charles explains. “You sell a piece of art and you’ve registered it, you don’t have to worry about it. It’s registered forever. My record keeping isn’t the best. It’s good to know that there’s something out there that’s going to take care of that for me. That’s the main value I see for me and for my collectors. I expect the sculptures to be around for a very long time so when I’m not here, the Fine Art Registry will be.” Already with the first registration process, FAR has brought a bit of discipline into Charles’ life: “This is especially good because it forces me to document these properly even for myself,” he wrote to FAR’s CEO, by way of a “thank you” letter. “Last week I sold another sculpture but did not even photograph it. Now I am forced to photograph.”

It helps him get on, undistracted, with what he really loves to do in life: create art…as a verb, not as a noun.

David Charles | July 12, 2006

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Blessed is Everyone Who Touches the Canvas and Wants to Say Something

by David Charles – 7/26/2006

Nadia Pronina, Ukrainian Painter–A Self-Portrait

Nadia Pronina was born in 1956 in Kiev, Ukraine and now lives in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. Several months ago she found Fine Art Registry. She has so far tagged and registered 54 of her amazing paintings and plans to get all her work registered and tagged through FAR.

“I discovered Nadia Pronina’s work a few years ago on an obscure web site and immediately recognized that she had something special—something magic about her work,” says Teri Franks, founder and CEO of FAR. “It was not until I purchased two of her pieces that I realized Nadia possessed a style and technique all her own. The manner in which she paints is extraordinary—the sort of subterranean texture of the medium, her use of color and light, the brilliant capture of ethereal, yet surreal, dreamlike figures executed with an expert hand mystifies the viewer, but with a secret familiarity. Nadia’s work is exciting and fresh. There is little doubt that she will soon be highly sought-after in the U.S., especially as she continues to register her work with FAR. Nadia’s amazing ability and contribution as an artist to future generations will be remembered for all time. I’m just blown away by her genius.”

Pronina's 'Bluebird'

Nadia’s story, her description of her art and her place in the world of art are best told in her own words. Although not her native language, her English is remarkably good and a little bit of editing for grammar and clarity is all that has been done here. The words are her own.

You need to have looked at her paintings before you read what she has to say.   — David Charles
http://www.fineartregistry.com/portfolio/pronina
Nadia Pronina

I graduated from Stroganov Art University in Moscow. It was the best possible education an artist could get in the former Soviet Union at the time. I think that with an education I have gained the freedom to express myself according to my inner being and to how I sense the world. But I am not sure that education is a necessity for all artists, and, on the contrary, sometimes it can be counterproductive for a person, narrowing their vision and thinking to superimposed stereotypes. It seems that for abstract painting, there is no need to study academic drawing, though in the Stroganovka, where I studied, there was a special school—I’d rather call it ‘school of the substance drawing’—which taught draftsmanship. This was the place which gave me an opportunity to develop and manifest my sense of the form and the plastic, that I think was there initially and striving to get out. It was already visible in my childhood paintings, but absence of skill constrained me—mine was the exact case where skill is a liberating factor. I don’t like craftsmanship in painting, but helplessness is also regrettable. So, to summarize, education can become a ‘crutch’ for a person or put blinders on someone else, but still may be wings for another. I think it depends very much on individual. In my case, it provided the wings.
Pronina's 'Lady and the Egg'

I have been drawing since childhood, and I can’t recall any time when I was not drawing. At the beginning I was trying to directly reproduce the world around me. But gradually my inner vision led me further and further away from reality. With time, images I wanted to embody appeared in my imagination with more and more clarity. I feel like a spectator of world transformations, watching it flow back and forth from conscious to unconscious. I have always been fascinated with this subtle flow, glow and sliding. But the time comes when it manifests itself as the forms and surfaces becoming a thick shaggy mass, when it gains the quality of palpability and resistance.
Pronina's 'Lorns'

I am certain that we have been granted the experience of being in a material world to recognize this material resistance, its thickness, its facture [the way it is made], its transience. I never try to conceive anything; I just try to consolidate in my memory visions that appear when I close my eyes. Sometimes they come in infinite sequence, causing me fatigue and frightening me, sometimes they don’t come at all and that frightens me even more.

But regardless of how much I try to remember and materialize these visions, canvas always manifests something completely different. This seems to be the correct term for the process, because my will is turned off at this moment–to be precise, it just happens by itself. When painting I never think about the picture, but always contemplate and play around a life situation in my mind that does not have any relation to me or to what I am working on at the moment. Maybe it is a method of meditation, a self-detachment that takes my thoughts away, and gives my conscious an opportunity to sort out its relationship with the unconscious uncontrolled. And then something emerges, something distantly or closely resembling images that I’ve seen. It can bring amazement or leave me indifferent, and I try to explain it, though I understand that there is no need for explanation on the whole. Art can be a matter for philosophy or rhetoric, but it’s impossible to explain it, so I am always puzzled when asked to interpret something. I give my audience full freedom of associations, leaving them peacefully unaware, although they don’t seem to be satisfied with that most of the time.
Pronina's 'Reverie'

I sell my paintings to people who know better than me what I do–there are not many–and collectors come mostly from USA. In Europe my paintings are mostly bought by people who have a relation to art themselves. I would like to sell enough to enable me to work without stress and fuss.

As time goes by I grow increasingly selective in my preferences, but still irrevocably in love with Balthus, Modigliani, Breughel. To this day their work takes my breath away. I know that if I paint, things are the way they should be. I don’t know why or for what, but I am certain that blessed is everyone who touches the canvas and wants to say something. I leave to myself a much more humble part: I try to convey things that were given for me to see, and I keep detached from my artwork to observe it. I like this game and I feel excitement when others are involved and excited, sometimes revealing things I have not ever thought of. I don’t think an artist is there to entertain, but to stir up feelings submerged in a daily routine, even feelings of protest or aversion coming out from the mire of preoccupation and complacency.

I prefer oil for its density, richness and tangibility. I constantly experiment with texture, assigning it a very special role in my artwork. I like to freely endow my characters with unusual, not inherent, texture, in this manner mixing different attributes of all existence, swapping around the alive and the not living, thinking and contemplation, passion and indifference. I like to tangle roles, emphasizing equal values, unity and interplay of all elements of reality.
Pronina's 'Subversion'

I assume it won’t be original to say that I’d like my works to be seen by as many people as possible. But I do not expect to draw attention of the majority judging from what I can see in ratings and on the internet. I would like to build my own set of viewers, sharing my vision, and I’d prefer to show up on events where I can draw an interested, special audience rather than just the occasional, curious passers by.

The most important events in my short term, upcoming schedule are personal shows in Rome in September 2006 and in Bordeaux, France in 2007.   — Nadia Pronina

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Surviving a Sea of Tears

by David Charles – 7/26/2006

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How an artist has turned tragedy to survival through her art.

Carolyn (Carri) Miles, Johns Island, South Carolina painter, had been involved in art in one way or another all her life. Born in 1963 in Connecticut, she painted as a kid and studied art in high school. Her first art showing was at the Scholastic Art Awards held at Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina in 1980. She owned an illustration studio in Charlotte, NC in the mid to late ‘90s.

Miles' 'Out of the Blue'

Then in 2000 multiple disasters struck. She lost her mother and husband and was herself diagnosed with cancer. “It was a traumatic and emotional period for me,” says Carri, although she has gotten over this so well that you really wouldn’t know it. “I started painting just as a therapy.” In those days she painted all sorts of subjects but, among the paintings she did, were two that were particularly meaningful. The first one, 2001, was “Out of the Blue” which she has shown but never sold. “I usually paint fast and quick and like to finish a painting in a day, but this one took me about a month. It was a painting to purge myself of the traumatic experiences I had undergone and I spent a month on it and really did purge myself.”
Miles' 'Out of the Blue Too'

This painting was followed by another one that really began the current phase of Carri’s artistic career, “Out of the Blue Too.”

“This was still Out of the Blue,” she explains, “But it was maybe a little on the lighter side of Out of the Blue. I really enjoyed it. It was the first of many, many mermaid paintings. What I felt like when I painted that first mermaid painting was that I had just cried a sea of tears and it seemed like I was drowning. I thought to myself at the time, ‘What could survive this?’ and the answer was in that painting. It was a magical thing: every time I painted a mermaid it sort of kept me floating,” she says.

Recycled wood and polyurethane coatings

Around that time Carri stopped painting on canvas and went to acrylic on wood. But this was not just ordinary wood. She uses only recycled wood and this is a key factor for her. “Companies, friends, construction sites and so on donate the wood that has been scrapped,” she explains. “It’s had a life and someone’s thrown it away and now I feel like I’m bringing it back. The fact that the wood is recycled is very important to me. I love cutting the wood. It’s part of the whole process.” She brings the wood home and cuts it with a jigsaw which allows a very free form approach. “I study the knots and the grain, the scars and the scratches and look for the hidden beauty in the wood. I cut and sand it but try not to cover up the history but include it in the finished painting.”

Carri’s paintings are large, typically 4’ tall by one or two feet wide. She tries to finish a painting in a day and will produce and sell around 15 a month, 4 or 5 of which will be commissioned pieces. The retail value of her paintings ranges between $450 and $1,200.

She applies the acrylic in thin washes that allow the grain of the wood to show through in places, becoming an integral part of the finished painting. Then she coats the finished painting with up to 5 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane, carefully sanding each coat before applying the next one.

“If you look out over the ocean or the water from a bridge you can just see the little pockets where the water kind of glistens,” says Carri about the poly coating. “The painting gets that same effect where the poly will get into the grain of the wood and make those little glistening water-like areas.“ The effect of that and the wood grain coming through is not that visible in the photos on the Internet, but when her clients get their first painting they see it and they usually want more. One of her client/collectors has 14 of her paintings.

Carri used to go to shows and when she was in Charlotte she sold her work through restaurants, galleries and studios. The Internet has changed all of that and she sells almost entirely through Internet auctions (eBay, etc.) and commissions. As an antidote to the isolation of Internet based artistic living, however, she is a member of several professional artist internet groups including EMOEA (Electronic Museum Of Established Artists, www.emoea.com) which provides her with some human contact of a more face to face nature.

Factoring in FAR

Another artist, Lorna Wallace, saw her paintings on the Internet and got in touch with her and introduced her to the Fine Art Registry. “I thought at the time – and still do – that it’s a fantastic idea,” says Carri. “Because I do so many paintings it’s a wonderful way for me to catalog them for my collectors and even for myself. It’s a great way to keep track of them all without having to keep all kinds of forms and paperwork myself.”

But that’s not the only advantage of having her paintings tagged and registered with FAR. “It helps me against any kind of forgery from other artists copying my work,” explains Carri. There have been several occasions when she has seen other artists copying her work and trying to sell it, usually through eBay. Because she has her work registered with FAR, usually a kind note with a referral to her online gallery at FAR is enough to get them to cease and desist. In the case where someone disagreed, the eBay Verified Rights Owner Program (VeRO) came to the rescue and were able to look at Carri’s FAR gallery and very quickly settle the matter in her favor.

“It’s also very useful when I am doing commissions because I can give the customer a place to go to look at a very large body of my work.”

Consequently Carri tags all the art work she sells. FAR is an integral part of the business side of her art, helping her organize, sell and maintain the integrity of her art out in the marketplace which, for her, is largely the Internet these days.

An artist all her life, Carri really has converted the tragedies of recent years into something constructive. She survived the sea of tears. She didn’t drown. And the world is a more beautiful place because of her art.

David Charles | July 26, 2006

                     

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Eugene Liskin

by David Charles – 8/30/2006

An Independent Mind and Voice from Moldova

“I try to be independent in art as much as in life generally,” says Eugene Liskin, a Russian painter now living in Moldova. “I don’t think I belong to any stylistic or ideological movement.” And it’s true. His paintings are unique in style and content; his thoughts and feelings are his own and well worth hearing.

Born in Uriuzan, Russia in 1953, Eugene was destined to become an artist. “My first contact with art was like a revelation to me,” he says. “I was amazed by even the most unsophisticated pictures I saw in my childhood, and regarded with awe all that was related to the sacred world of art.”

When Eugene was ready to go to art school, the prevailing mood in the Russian art education scene was one of stagnant academicism. The one institute which seemed open-minded and willing to foster individuality and had “a fresh spirit of freedom” and where one could also get a good education in art was the Stroganov Art University in Moscow. So that’s where Eugene went. “In general, I think art education is needed so a painter can at least familiarize himself with the complex and diverse world of art and learn not to head for the well-trodden paths but look for something of his own and find his own place and his own special look at life and the way things are,” he says. “I think that a painter should follow his intuition as to where he should study and, once the choice is made, he absorbs everything that is interesting and useful, sweeping aside all the unnecessary stuff.”

He loves the Russian avant-garde, Dutch genre painting, naÔve art, Italian murals and many other genres. He experimented with pastels, watercolor and tempera before settling on oil as his preferred medium. “I work in oil because I like its deepness, thickness, manageability and intensity,” he explains. After finishing art school he tried his hand at design and decorative and applied arts before finding his niche – painting. “Only in painting I can express my very innermost feelings,” he explains. “It allows me to create another reality than the pretentious, mercenary, self-destroying world – light, ironical, lighthearted. My characters are unaware, innocent and joyful, although they stay within the context of real life hassles. I feel a kind of spiritual unity with them and for me painting is a way of gaining inner harmony and of coming to terms with that ambiguous reality.”

Eugene does not, however, paint just for himself. He used to be fascinated by the creative process itself without paying much attention to his career, but he has come to realize, more and more, that an artist creates for an audience. Speaking of art as a whole, he feels the “collective unconsciousness” is trying to materialize and reflect itself in art as a way of human self-perception. He sees his painting as only a single voice in this “polyphonic chorus.” But it is very important for him to be heard, for his work to be seen, and to get feedback from people who view his art. So he is planning on showing his work and widening his audience as much as possible. His viewing audience consists of “those who have preserved that fresh, childlike way of looking at things or who are trying to recall or recover those childlike feelings when the world was only a place for dreams and fantasies.”

Eugene confesses that it is hard for him to part with his paintings. He prefers clients who are attracted by the sense and meaning in his art, and see in his paintings more than just decorative works to fill some space on some wall.

The Fine Art Registry fits in very well to Eugene’s approach towards and views regarding art. “I like the Fine Art Registry because I see in it an earnest and interested attitude towards artists and a deep, multi-faceted view on art,” he says. Eugene only discovered the Fine Art Registry recently but he has already registered many of his pieces. You can view his full gallery on line at this link: http://www.fineartregistry.com/portfolio/eliskin

“I like the fact that art historians and critics are engaged and the articles provide fresh, useful thoughts and ideas. I am happy to have been invited by Teri (FAR’s CEO and Founder) to register my pieces with FAR and to have the opportunity to join that creative community of art lovers.”

The Fine Art Registry attracts artists of all kinds from all around the world. Eugene Liskin’s voice is as independent and unique as they come. But he sees in FAR a valuable community that is well worth joining. And the world of art benefits greatly from having his work and his thoughts available online for all to share.

David Charles | August 30, 2006

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She’s Got Art Down to a Science

by Sarah Mitchell – 8/30/2006

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Julie Newdoll paints the seen and unseen, real and unreal, as one.

The Inuit Indians, probably known better to you as “Eskimos,” have an old song:

I think over again my small adventures; my fears,
Those small ones that seemed so big;
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach,
And yet there is only one great thing,
The only thing:
To live to see the great day that dawns
And the light that fills the world.

Artist Julie Newdoll sees the world from a vantage point that is hard for many of us to conceptualize. Through her paintings, Julie has found a medium for marrying science and human mythology in a parallel and brilliant way that portrays the microscopic and macroscopic views of life together as one, showing just how unified life really is.

Through Julie’s Eyes
Julie was born in hot San Angelo, TX and moved shortly thereafter to a suburb just outside of Dallas called Garland. She feels lucky that around the age of 10 years old, her parents got smart and moved from Texas back to California, from where they both originated. Julie’s 30-year and counting love for painting started when she was in high school and first tried her hand at oil painting. She also had a fascination with science, which led her to obtain her microbiology degree from the University of San Francisco. After that, she went straight into getting her medical illustration masters degree at USF. It was here that computer graphics caught her attention. Combined with the incredible research that was being conducted by the microscopic division, and molecular graphics, Julie saw the potential for art.She took the microscopic imagery and composited it on a computer with a sketch. She then printed the image on canvas and painted over it. From that point on, Julie was enthralled by the possibilities of combining science and art.

Julie’s style has continued to grow and evolve over time and has even shown up at a much earlier age in her daughter Sophia…

Through a Child’s Eyes
“Mom, make sure it’s red!” says 5-year-old Sophia. “Red, right…” replies Julie as she heads off in search of the requested paint. Not only does Julie have a talent of her own, but she’s also passed it on to Sophia, who has become involved with Julie’s work in a most peculiar way.

Once upon a time, a client of Julie’s wanted a painting done relating to her breast cancer research. The client was very intrigued with the mythology and figures that Julie uses in her art and was wondering if there might be a way for Julie to combine breast cancer science and Inuit Indian mythology (the patron’s favorite culture).

“So I started looking into their culture and it’s very interesting,” says Julie. “They’re very big into shamans, or at least they were, and so here she is trying to heal in her own way and the shamans are healing in their own way. So I started making parallels between their sort of dreamy things that they do and the research that she does and came up with a set of two paintings she liked the concept for.”

Enter Sophia. “I tried to make a shaman and shaman’s can see through things so you can see their bones. I get up early sometimes to work before the kids get up, so I was up and working and Sophia got up and ran in and said, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I am trying to draw this person you can see inside, their bones and everything,’ and she said ‘Let me do it!’ And I said ‘Okay…’”

“Kids do everything in one stroke, they don’t make a mistake, they just do it,” says Julie. “Sophia’s drawing had all the intestines and bones and everything and a skullish face. I thought ‘Hey this is pretty good!’ and sent it to the client who said, ‘I love it! It’s very Inuit!’”

The early Inuits carved their art in bone or drew on sealskins. Since they used to live in snow houses, paintings on the wall were a bit out of the question. In the1960’s, the Inuits started to paint pictures. Their style was very childlike and primitive (making Sophia’s input quite accurate) with flat fields of color.

Julie now regularly consults Sophia for the Inuit artwork. “I’ll show her things having to do with whatever it is we’re talking about — bears, wolves, Inuits — and she’ll draw them. I will then use that to make my washes to show the client. I next paint it, but with a lot of her influence in it. I don’t know, I might have to let her sign it…” Julie laughs. But of course, Sophia’s work is not without its price. “She gets all of my money now anyway!” says Julie.

Sophia started painting when she was 1 or 2 years old and says she’s going to be an artist some day. She gave us a treat by painting an Inuit Indian real-time, using an Inuit Indian book for reference.

“She has this great technique where she uses charcoal and then she puts paint on top, smudging the charcoal,” explains Julie, as she watches Sophia aggressively making little marks all around her drawing with the charcoal. “Oh! It’s raining today!” exclaims Julie. “No, it’s snowing,” Sophia calmly corrects her. “See that’s the thing with kids, you never know what’s going to happen; that’s what’s been so neat about each and every drawing that she’s done. No matter what I might be thinking it’s going to be, it’s never the same; it’s always something different with new elements in it that are quite inspirational and have taught me a lot,” says Julie.

Through the Eyes of Science

Sophia and Julie took us downstairs where at least 30 of Julie’s paintings line the walls of her house. Julie often creates series of five paintings at a time, such as her “Kimono” series.

“The Japanese tea ceremony involves using all of your senses so it was the perfect backdrop for the ‘Senses’ series. Each kimono represents the tissues from one of the senses and cells involved in receiving each sense. You’ve got these tendril-like things that receive smell and these little tendril-like things that also receive taste, they’re all related through evolution. What you use to see with also has a similar look – rods and cones are just cilia too. They may have all evolved from one sense or receiving thing – sort of re-using the technology,” says Julie.

Julie paints with oils but often finds herself doing a mixed media type of thing, using textures underneath the paint. Crushed stone and sand are an example of what she may use, as shown in her “Dine” (Navajo Indians) series of five paintings, which combine scientific thoughts on the origin of life with the Dine creation story.

“I mixed a bunch of sand in with the paint around the outside, and used dirt in the middle of each of the Dine paintings. I got the dirt from the Dine area several years ago when I was traveling around the desert,” says Julie. “I’ve had these bottles of dirt forever! My college roommate and I drove around the desert drinking iced tea and we would see by the side of the road these incredible colors of dirt and I would shout, ‘Stop!’ And I’d get out my bottle and scoop up some dirt: red, purple, yellow. And in the Indian story they start in a red world, and then move on to a blue world, then to yellow. As they move from world to world it gets more sophisticated and they meet more sophisticated beings and become more so themselves, so it’s very evolutionary orientated. Not only do they have rivers running through it and drying up and making this cell-dividing thing, they end up on an island in the end. Sort of like a cell with a nucleus.”

Julie is also in the middle of painting her taste-bud table top series. You can see more of these series at Julie’s website www.brushwithscience.com.

Through the Eyes of the Public
Julie is well known in her field. In fact there is a movement in scientifically inspired art, known as bio-art or sci-art, which is making her kind of work more popular. Her paintings have appeared on the cover of numerous science magazines. Julie is also the Exhibits Director for YLEM. YLEM is a San Francisco based organization for artists using science and technology (http://www.ylem.org/). At time of this writing Julie was deeply involved in the “Hitchhikers in the Valley of Heart’s Delight” project for the Inter Society for the Electronic Arts ZeroOne Global Festival of Art on the Edge at the San Jose Museum of Art. (This whole project has been thoroughly covered on the FAR website: Famous Hitch Hikers’ Safety Assured by Fine Art Registry™ Tags). It was through the Hitchhikers project that Julie first came into contact with the Fine Art Registry, as one of the artists involved, Jim Pallas, had found FAR and was enthusiastically tagging and registering his artwork.

From this Julie decided to tag and register her own work, which you can see in her FAR gallery, http://www.fineartregistry.com/cgi-bin/search.cgi?s=&p=&detail=2705. And Sophia will no doubt be very grateful for this, somewhere in the future, when provenance of her mother’s pieces needs to be established and their authenticity vouched for.

Julie’s own website, http://www.brushwithscience.com/, contains links to the Fine Art Registry website where articles about her and her recent project can be found. Already Julie has a very large body of work and she has so many projects going in so many directions that it’s hard to keep track. Registering her works with FAR, along with transfer of ownership when she sells her pieces, will help bring order to her art and maintain a permanent record for the future–a future that is positively bubbling over with different possibilities.

Through the Eyes of the Artist
“Once I started doing this it was like a never ending amount of subject matter that I just can’t stop,” says Julie. Her art is continually evolving as time goes by and will no doubt continue to shed light on the world from the small and large, real and mythical, as one.

And Sophia finished her latest Inuit painting. True to Julie’s statement about children being unpredictable, Sophia delivered. “My goodness, the whole thing turned red!”

 

 

 

 

And Through the Eyes of Another Artist
Julie sent us her favorite quote about art from the book The Art Spirit by Robert Henri.

There are moments in our lives, there are moments in a day, when we seem to see beyond the usual– become clairvoyant. We reach then into reality. Such are the moments of our greatest happiness. Such are the moments of our greatest wisdom. It is in the nature of all people to have these experiences; but in our time and under the conditions of our lives, it is only a rare few who are able to continue in the experience and find expression for it.
At such times there is a song going on within us, a song to which we listen. It fills us with surprise. We marvel at it. We would continue to hear it. But few are capable of holding themselves in the state of listening to their own song. Intellectuality steps in and as the song within us is of the utmost sensitiveness, it retires in the presence of the cold, material intellect. It is aristocratic and will not associate itself with the commonplace—and we fall back and become our ordinary selves. Yet we live in the memory of these songs which in moments of intellectual inadvertence have been possible to us. They are the pinnacles of our experience and it is the desire to express these intimate sensations, this song from within, which motivates the masters of all art.

Robert Henri The Art Spirit
J.B. Lippincott Company, 1923

Sarah Mitchell | August 30, 2006

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Phoenix Artist Jake Beckman

is “Scratching, Scribbling, Painting, and Coloring” her Way Through Life

by David Charles – 9/29/2006

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“I paint because I am insane—I have to. I think if you ask any artist you will get that answer.”

Everyone except the government and telemarketers call her Jake, even though the name she was given soon after she was born, “a military brat” in Spokane, WA in 1962 was Susan. Now Jake Beckman survives the heat in Phoenix, Arizona where she creates wonderful paintings.

Rumor has it that shortly after her birth, Jake was seen snatching a ballpoint pen out of the nearest doctor’s shirt pocket and doing sketches in the maternity ward. Whether there is any validity to that story or not, it is true that Jake has “always been scratching, scribbling, coloring and creating.”

Her Masters, of course, was in nuclear physics! Good training for an artist. After all, the artist who created this “rock” did quite a masterful job and any contemporary artist could benefit from a detailed understanding of its composition.

She describes herself as a self-realized artist. The art preceded everything else in her life, even if it was a fairly circuitous route she took to arrive at art as a way of making a living. The way stops included lead singer in a rock ‘n’ roll band, spacecraft technician, secret satellite builder, teacher… It wasn’t till a few years ago, just at the turn of the millennium, that she started selling paintings as a profession.

To begin with her work was super-realistic: “Paintings so crisp that people thought I had pasted a photograph into them,” she says. “But I found the subject matter limiting and wandered off into fantasy for a while and then worked with many other media and explored many other genres.”

Varied as her paintings have been, they have a common thread: “I have always looked for meaning, beauty and humor in the world,” says Jake. “I find it is far too easy to create dark, moody and disaffected things; therefore I don’t respect such work, even when I create it myself. I find it is much more difficult to paint something pretty or joyful without coming across as trite, so I look for the edge, the ephemeral and the ethereal and I endeavor to create a positive mood in the works I create.” You can see this, for example, in her Aerial series on her website.

Sometimes though, she confesses that the humor in her art leans toward the smartass and sarcastic (see for example her series of Xmas cartoons). But if it makes people laugh, that’s OK. She likes to make people laugh.

The Computer, Numbers and Other Things

This is how Jake describes her approach to her art these days. It’s best told in her very own words:

“My process is very left-brained for an artist. Often, but not always, by the time I lay the first stroke on the canvas I know exactly how it is going to come out. I start off with an idea, a sketch on paper, references I have photographed etc. I begin playing with the ideas by loading them into my computer. The computer gives me the ability to play with the colors, strokes, and composition; I can distort things, add things in, take them out, change the texture and generally revise until the idea is screaming to be let out. This process is much easier than gesso-ing over a large area of canvas that you can’t stand anymore. Then I let the concept out onto the canvas. Sometimes though the little kid gets carried away and the whole idea melts under the sway of the other half of my brain.

“I am currently exploring the idea of viewing things from extremes; I see mathematics in those extremes. I think that my thoughts there are a natural progression of my interest in both particle physics and cosmology, which both are extreme departures from the Euclidean/Newtonian world most of us live in. The beauty of the numbers creeps into my work, appearing as fractal designs, explicit superposition of the golden mean, tessellations etc. and it is always there in my structure and my process. “I am finding my work becomes more abstract as time goes on, but never so abstract that there is not something there for everyone to apprehend; I don’t think I can stand to create a completely abstract piece, because I want that interaction with the audience. I find many people who enjoy art don’t like the conversation if they don’t get it. For me that conversation with the viewers is important; therefore I largely disregard the art for art’s sake view of the world.

“Still as an artist I am self-absorbed with my message to some extent. I have something I want to translate, to say, to be heard, to be understood; such is my desire to decode the beauty of the numbers into something that someone else can comprehend or at least identify with.”

When it comes to media, Jake describes herself as “2-dimensional acrylic at the moment.” She has drawn in pencils, pens, pastels, and charcoal, sculpted in metal, fiberglass and clay, used oil, watercolor, ink, experimented with fiber, woven, created silver jewelry and has mixed various media together. She is drifting into digital art because the medium has such far-flung promise, but, she says, “there will always be a place for a pad of paper and a pencil or pen in my world and a place for the tangible.”

Protecting her Art

At the tender age of 19 or 20 Jake got badly burned on the subject of copyrights and ownership and has been cautious ever since, registering most of her work with the US Copyright Office.

Then one day when Jake was President of Artlink, Inc.. a non-profit Phoenix arts organization working to bring artists, business and the public together for better appreciation and enjoyment of the arts, she ran into Teri Franks, Founder of Global Fine Art Registry, Inc., and learned about the FAR system for tagging and registering artwork.

“The FAR tags, which are much less expensive than copyright registration, and the way FAR registration occurs looked to me like they would go a long way toward establishing my rights,” Jake recalls.

Since that time she has registered somewhere between 50 and 100 paintings and she continues to register all of her original art as soon as she deems the painting complete and formally photographs it. You can see all her registered art in her FAR online gallery.

“Beyond the copyright issue, over the years my works have gone off in the world and I have no idea what has become of them,” she adds. “FAR addresses that issue and I think it is of great value to my collectors and to me. FAR has other services that are of value to paying members such as having an accessible online portfolio. Membership is more than reasonable at 10 smackers a year! Other online galleries are charging major buck-aroos for this service.”

Jake also has her own website where she shows and sells her work: http://www.akajake.com.

The Future

“In the long run I must keep creating,” says Jake. “I also want to license my designs. I do not object to my paintings/designs being on a coffee mug—in fact it pleases me that someone enjoys my work well enough to want to see it every day with their morning chai or java. I plan to keep showing, stay out there, be in the public eye.” Jake is seeking gallery representation, “but it’s fun to show and expose other people to my work in non-standard art venues.”

No matter what else she does, one thing’s for sure: Jake will continue to paint, scratch, scribble, color and create, just as she has done all her life. And the world is a more beautiful place as a result.

David Charles | September 29, 2006

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Dan Stockwell, Modern Day Scrimshander

by David Charles – 10/16/2006

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“Nothing Like Scraping on Old Bones to Connect with Your Caveman Deep Inside”

The art of scrimshaw is an old tradition amongst seafaring men, mostly whalers. It refers to the art and craft of engraving on whalebones, the teeth of sperm whales and other by-products of whaling. From this it has expanded to similar engraving on other materials. Interestingly enough, scrimshaw originally referred to sailors making tools from readily available materials. On whaling ships, this was whale by-products. Keep this aspect in mind as you read how Dan Stockwell got into making his beautiful scrimshaw pieces–how the art entered into what was a highly practical and mechanical activity. It’s interesting that with Dan the art has taken over from the mechanical. Is this how art first found its place in ancient societies?

Dan:
I have always had a lifetime interest in primitive art forms and outdoor living skills. Primitive fire making with flint and steel and bow/hand drill led me to the fire piston, which is an ancient technique of fire making from islands in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, etc. The technique uses intense air pressure to ignite the tinder that is put on the end of a piston rod that is whacked quickly into a perfectly fitted cylinder to create the needed compression. The same principle of fuel firing in a diesel engine. No spark plug necessary. I was using old piano keys as a cheap source for black ebony for the pistons. This left me with a bunch of old elephant ivory pieces, which I used as inlay on some of the pistons and then I starting doing the scrimshaw etchings–which has become my real focus–that I do on a broad range of materials. —Dan

Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1967, Dan says that Yankee ingenuity as well as aviation run deep in the Stockwell genes. After gaining a BA in Anthropology he headed for the great outdoors, leading expeditions around the Cape Cod area including 4 days and nights in heavy weather conditions in an open whaleboat with only a tarp for protection. He now lives in Dublin, New Hampshire, with his wife Heather (also an artist who owns a tiling business specializing in glass mosaics) and 5 year old son, Woody (Daniel III)—”who is constantly immersing himself in his own creative artful endeavors.”

Fire pistons to scrimshaw

Art was always flowing in Dan’s veins. He recalls selling his first masterpieces in second grade at school–well, barter is probably more accurate. He drew sea monsters (note the early maritime connection) for a friend who paid him for them with magnets and pocket change. Unfortunately these early works were not registered with the Fine Art Registry so we can’t see them in Dan’s gallery. When Dan began making the fire pistons he drifted over into decorating them and then the resulting scrimshaw became more of a focus than the fire pistons themselves. The scrimshaw expanded into a wide range of pieces, on a variety of materials, some commissioned and many, many sold all over the USA and some abroad.

I use a lot of materials: antique elephant ivory (old piano keys, antique cue balls, old ivory jewelry, etc.), commissioned work on various ivory, warthog tusk, nautilus shell, shed antlers of deer, caribou, elk, and moose, cow horn, beef bone, swordfish bill, plastic. I make my etching tools using old Victrola and gramophone needles.

Mostly through eBay I have sold pieces all over the world. A lot to California and Florida coastal areas. My fire pistons have made it everywhere. Africa, Germany, Alaska, England, Italy. I have scrimshaw all over the USA now, and have sold several pieces abroad on fossil ivory and antler. I know that I have at least one piece in Italy. —Dan

Is Scrimshaw Fine Art?

It might seem at first to be a somewhat off the mainstream art form, but Dan sees it differently.

There is really so much I am trying to do with my work. The scrimshaw instinctually to me seems to embody what I would like my artwork to represent. Something very basic, but still a high potential for complexity. Something that can be appreciated on many levels. Much of my scrimshaw has a tactile component, and I think the object needs to be held in the hand to appreciate the smoothness of the polish and so on. —Dan

And for Dan, his scrimshaw definitely fits into mainstream art:

I would have to say Andy Warhol was one of my major influences, in terms of staying out of the box and resourcing ideas and materials by recycling them. I would say that I think scrimshanders were really some of the early “Pop Artists” since whalermen and sailors were known to utilize images from popular catalogs and magazines at the time and use them, sometimes copying exactly the pictures from those publications, often times from advertising. In terms of scrimshaw work, Delano’s work I find to be very exciting. The back of the Kennedy fifty cent piece is based on Delano’s interpretation of the Presidential Seal that he did on the whale’s tooth that Jacqueline Kennedy placed with J F Kennedy in his final resting place. —Dan

First Scrimshaw Artist Registered with FAR

You can see some of Dan’s work in his Fine Art Registry online gallery: www.fineartregistry.com/portfolio/scrimshander

Dan discovered FAR last spring when he was investigating ways to establish and preserve the authenticity of his pieces. You can see 8 of his pieces registered in his online gallery. He sees many advantages to registering.

It gives me a way of taking control in establishing my signature with my work with the wider population. Very easy to do this way. By having items registered the way I do, it means I don’t have to keep the pieces and show them all the time or have them shown.

They are there for people to see a variety of what I can do. It creates much more interest in all my work. The registered work remains there on line to be seen, at least until others start picking up on it and giving it exposure.

It has helped when people want me to do some work for them and would like to see examples, I can give them the address to my FAR portfolio for instance.

People are impressed with the FAR portfolio. Other artists I know really like the concept and are very interested. I think it will become very popular. —Dan

Dan markets his work mostly through eBay.

I don’t really make any money with the better part of the scrimshaw I sell. I’ve sold quite a bit, but it goes for what I think are low prices, so I look at it as basically free advertising for what I’d like to be more my work, and that would be larger commissioned pieces on provided materials–you know, bigger stuff, on materials that I could never afford, for museums or estate collections. —Dan

Dan, a modern day scrimshander of consummate skill, one of a very few who survive in the old tradition, sees the future as bright and busy. The whalers of old would be proud to see their art carried forward in such creative and competent hands.

For more photos of Dan’s work, check out the PDF version of this article:
PDF Download PDF Version (1.94 MB)

David Charles | October 16, 2006

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Jim Pallas — A World In Motion

by David Charles – 10/16/2006

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Art that does not “Just Sit on its Ass”

Spend a few hours on Jim Pallas’ web site (www.jpallas.com) and you will see that an attempt to write a comprehensive article on this prolific, innovative, multi-talented and multi-faceted artist would be pretty futile. So this is going to have to serve as an introduction to the man and his work. And if it leads you to explore him and his art further, in cyber or real space, it will have done its job.

Jim Pallas is a funny guy. Talk to him or correspond with him a little and you will no doubt be exposed to his highly literate and intelligent wit. And there is satire and social commentary running through his art along with his sense of humor which has survived with him into his 60s. But his humor is quite gentle and his satire and social commentary are not harsh or biting which makes them all the more effective.

“Live life to the fullest,” is his raison d’être. Go to his web site and it just goes on and on in all directions with an incredible assortment of creations which really are testimony to this approach to life. He says, “I make art to enlarge myself.” Jim has made a lot of art. He must be awfully big by now!

Beginnings: the “Sidewalker” and “Zap”
series with a note on Art and Money

“A native Detroiter, I awoke to the possibilities while attending Wayne State University (M.F.A. 1965). After graduating I was blessed with a day job to which I gratefully clung for thirty-eight years, teaching the boomers and their kids at a local community college,” says Jim on his web site which has some hidden biographical notes if you can find them. In the web version, however, “teaching” is clickable and takes you to a description of one of his drawing classes where he walked in pretending to be a blind man and helped open the eyes of his amazed students.

“I made the commitment to art in 1960 when I was in college,” says Jim, “But it wasn’t until a few years after graduation that I became comfortable thinking of myself as an artist. It took a couple of years to get out from under the influence of my teachers, to clear the stink of ancient chalk boards and exam sweat out of my nose. By that time, the middle 1960’s, I was living in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, a gritty urban jumble of loose pieces, with property values low enough to attract artists. This environment inspired a series of works called “Sidewalkers,” wheeled, painted assembled forms based on people, vehicles and noises of the street. Eventually this led to making words of wood and metal and mounting them on wheels to give them mobility and absurdity. Ultimately, they ended in the “ZAP” series , a group of brightly painted, small wheeled onomotopoetic words, like “Zoom” and “Zap” surrounded by more such words, ‘click’ and ‘puff’.”

Jim does make money from his art. We’ll get to what he’s working on at the moment which is almost literally a cash cow (or cash frog or robot or cash something), in due course. But a central part of his thinking is contained in his statement:

“It is just a fluke of western culture that art can be bought and sold. The artist gains a kind of freedom when he realizes that there is no real relationship between money and art.”

His early work sold well. This is from his “ZAP” series:

The ones shown are selected from a dozen or so sculptures that are only two to three inches high. “At that size they exist more in the mind of the viewer than in real volumetric space and therefore can have whatever scale the viewer gives them,” Jim explains. “I like to imagine them about twelve feet high. Commercially, they were very successful. I sold them all, most to Allan Stone in New York. I considered continuing to mine those ideas. An artist whose work is selling comes under external pressure to evolve slowly if at all. Most collectors are comfortable buying work which looks like the work that preceded it and are happy to see subsequent work that looks a lot like what they bought. They feel the artist has validated the work by continuing to commit time and energy to similar work.

“Dealers establish a market into which the new work fits easily only if it is similar. Dealers and critics often advise artists to change slowly. Give the public time to adjust to the new. This is good advice for the artist who is looking to build a collecting base. However, I was never interested in that. If I were interested in making money, I would never have become an artist. I want to do what I want to do. I was drawn to the visual arts because, like life, it is an absurd activity, one that needs no validation outside of itself. Art and making money are two separate activities. An artist can safely combine them only with the realization that they have nothing to do with each other.”

“This ‘Zap’ series marked the end of old style art for me, art that Claus Oldenberg says ‘just sits on its ass,’” says Jim.

Motion, Interaction, Mechanical, Electric, Different, Brilliant

So, moving on…

“Generally, my artworks are interactive performing sculptures that depend on a combination of electronic logic and environmental stimuli to produce behaviors of movement, sound, light, or other phenomena. They often represent creatures or personages. I’ve been called a surrealist,” says Jim. That label on its own would give you a woefully inadequate impression of what Jim’s art is all about. You really need to see it all. Then you will have seen what he does. Skip the descriptions. Just look at the work. Honestly. You need to go to Jim’s web site and work your way through. You’ll lose a day of your life (or at least a few hours) but you’ll gain a new view.

“The web is a realization of the some of the potential that was present in the amalgam of those cross-country phone lines, the glowing blue phosphor tube and that kid in Ann Arbor matching skill with the ace in Berkeley,” says Jim. “In the 70’s, I discovered the joy of transistor transistor logic (TTL) devices and the graphic expression of printed circuit boards. My first choice for a programming language became solder.”

Art should be free

“I did a telephone project in 1974 where anyone could call an announcing machine and get a ‘phonevent’. I then solicited tapes from artists and changed them every two weeks. No charge. Nobody made any money. Nobody was supposed to make any money. We did it to ask the question ‘Can the telephone be art?’. 10,000 calls in a two week period was common. It was popular enough that, once, the volume of calls shut down three exchanges. The telephone company was not impressed.”

There were many, many projects, many series. All we can do really is sample a few.

Law

From Jim’s web site: “LAW (1994) is about the relationship of the physical word to human behavior in the form of law. Commissioned for a law library and reminiscent of a shrine, it consists of a base surmounted by a chair, heart and sword under a canopy of keys and rubber stamps. The three feet square base is an assemblage of the accouterments of the legal profession, including not only books and phones but also jail bars, handcuffs and money. Viewers trigger an infra-red sensor which activates a computer buried among the objects comprising the base, and whose monitor appears to be rummaging through documents, images, legal services and the internet in pursuit of legal issues.”

Hitchhiker Series

This has become rather famous on the FAR web site, through the latest escapade: Hitchhikers in the Valley of Heart’s Delight project. No point repeating that here. If you are not familiar with it, you should check it out here: “Famous Hitch Hikers’ Safety Assured by Fine Art Registry™ Tags”

But the Silicon Valley founding fathers are just the latest in a long line of hitchhikers which go back to 1981. True, this is the first crop that had GPS tracking systems so their progress could be followed online. True also, this is the first bunch of hitchhikers who bore Fine Art Registry tags and were securely registered on the FAR web site before they were let loose to wander around the highways and byways (and these guys had the most adventurous trips of anybody). But the basic principle goes way back. In fact Jim pioneered the hitchhiking adventure personally before letting anyone else loose.

In the summer of 1981, the non-profit Detroit Focus Gallery requested entries for a mail art show. Jim Pallas was out of town in a meadow in the middle of Michigan, cutting shadows out of plywood, painting them and placing them in the fields and woods. Some were shapes of sun-cast shadows traced on plywood set on the ground.

Some were sitting or standing silhouettes of figures he traced of himself and his son, Jason. This cutout of the shadow of Jason was shotgunned when it was left out during hunting season (right).

One was a silhouette of Jim himself sitting Buddha-like (left). In the back of his mind was Focus’ mail art show. The sitting figure looked like it was waiting for something to come along. It looked like it could be waiting for a ride. Jim wondered if it could get a ride to the Focus Gallery. He put a sign around his neck, “DETROIT”, and a note on the back that said “Get me to a party at 743 Beaubien Street at 7:30 June 10th. You can come, too. Until then I don’t much care. Take me as far as you are going and set me by the side of the road. Please, don’t put me on the expressway.”

Three days later, a young man walked into the Focus Gallery with the figure under his arm, wanting to know from the director, Gere Baskin, what this was all about.

She told him. He returned for the opening of the Mail Art Show.

Well, that was all the encouragement Jim needed. The hitchhiker project was born. In the next few weeks he put most of his immediate family on the road. Later, poets, dancers, artists, a senator, a film maker, a journalist and others all took to the road. Adventure followed adventure. “The reason I do Hitch Hikers is for the adventures they create and the stories they generate,” he says.

The latest incarnation, YLEM’s entry to the IESA ZeroOne Festival in San Jose makes fascinating reading. And Jim is ready to launch more of them out there.

Donation machines

When Curator of Herpetology (reptiles and amphibians), Andrew Snider, was planning the National Amphibian Conservation Center at the Detroit Zoo, he wanted some way visitors could donate money to help the effort to protect wild frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians. He had seen Jim’s Brochuri Putinherecus, a sculpture designed to encourage visitors to deposit brochures for recycling in the zoo’s Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, and knew about its success in encouraging visitors to deposit their brochures in the mouth of the sculpture. He wondered if the same idea might be applied to money.

“Enlisting the aid of engineer Nick Holland, we came up with this warty fellow.,” says Jim.

Made of fiber glass epoxy over a sturdy steel frame, he responds to coins or bills dropped in its mouth. Most of the thirty-six responses are short, but four are poems culled from Jill Carpenter’s beautiful collection, “Of Frogs and Toads”, a book of poems about amphibians that is really about much more. Most of the responses are performed by Carollette Goodman and Edmund Jones, players from Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit. All proceeds are given to the Amphibian Taxon Advisory Group of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

This was the first of a whole series of interactive sculptures designed to respond in various ways to the receipt of cash.

Then there was Vincent Van Gogh and we’re back, willy nilly, to the subject of money and art.

Detroit held a huge exhibition of Van Gogh’s work in 2000.

Museum director Graham W.J. Beal said, “The 315,350 tickets sold totaled $3 million and attracted visitors from 48 states and as far away as Russia and Japan. Some $800,000 was racked up in museum shop sales and $300,000 in food services; museum membership increased 20 percent for $750,000 in additional revenue.” Add that to the bucks spent at hotels, restaurants and amenities by tourists, suburbanites and others who ventured in to the city to see the show, and the Detroit News felt justified in proclaiming. “Van Gogh exhibit is $93 million work of art.” in Detroit in 2000.

The September 22, 2000, article goes on to remind us “Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting during his lifetime…” and speculation about his motive for suicide always considers his poverty and guilt resulting from being a financial drain on his younger brother, Theo, and Theo’s family.

Yet W. Frank Fountain, president of the DaimlerChrysler Fund, sponsor of the Van Gogh exhibition, said, “Van Gogh is powerful proof that art and economics are compatible.”

“I couldn’t ignore this,” recalls Jim. “It made me mad.”

His response was this. A giant head of Vincent van Gogh, modeled after his “Self-portrait with Straw Hat”, stands seven feet tall on its pedestal. Naturally, his right ear is missing, but his left ear has a large enough opening that money can be dropped into the head. This causes him to respond with Dutch accented observations about life and art. There are over one hundred and thirty responses.

“At last, when it comes to money, you too, like Mr. Fountain, can stick it in Van Gogh’s ear,” says Jim.

Griot Knowbot

Griot Knowbot is essentially a donation box, a way for visitors to support the Detroit Science Center by means of small donations of money. An infra-red sensor at the bottom of Griot Knowbot’s torso detects the movement of people in front of it and activates both the yellow light display in its head and the fan that blows its hair out over its forehead. Patterns of lights in Griot Knowbot’s eyes make it appear to be looking around. The patterns are actually composed of fixed light emitting diodes in two 7 by 8 matrixes which are always active. Griot Knowbot accepts coins or bills in its mouth and electrically “feels” them as they enter or “sees” their shadow as they fall. Sometimes money slips by without Griot Knowbot noticing, but usually the Knowbot responds by playing one of over 150 sound files from its memory. Most of the responses are based on writings or utterances of scientists, philosophers and inventors, but some are from comedians, artists and others. A few are sampled music, sound effects or animals. Some are beyond description. With these sound responses, Griot Knowbot is perpetuating our oral tradition using a combination of art and technology.

Current Project

These particular pieces bring with them their own economics. Jim gets a commission to do one. He verifies that the person or organization commissioning the piece is serious and is actually going to realize an income from these pieces. Once he agrees to do the project, there may be the option of paying for the sculpture with 75% of the proceeds until the piece is paid for. Once the piece has paid for itself, 100% of the proceeds goes to the purchaser. “It works very well. I’m sorry when they stop generating cash for me–I have to get on and do the next one,” he laughs. His current project, or one of them, is another robot, working title Poet Bot, for a complex of non-profit organizations called Omniplex. “It’s like an alien poet and his pet,” Jim explains. The 9’ tall alien robot flails around as the arms inflate and collapse.”

Fine Art Registry

It was when he was putting the finishing touches on the Pioneers in the Valley of Heart’s Delight that Jim stumbled across the Fine Art Registry, just in time to help him solve a problem that existed with all the hitchhikers from day one.

“Teri Frank’s Fine Art Registry is perfectly designed for the Hitchhiker project,” says Jim. “Its inexpensive pre-registration of artworks before they are stolen or go missing is unique. I believe most of my previous Hitchhikers went missing because people who picked them up realized they might be a work of art and, in the popular mind, a work of art could someday be worth a lot of money. Besides. they look cool in the basement bar. But the fact that they can be listed as ‘STOLEN’ on-line with an image and description makes them unsaleable. People thus have no incentive to keep them. The public has delivered three of the five Pioneer Hitchhikers to their destinations and I expect the remaining two will also arrive safely. As fineartregisry.com gains traction, I expect it to become routine for collectors to check their impending purchases.”

So the famous five Silicon Valley hitchhikers all bear FAR tags and statements on the back which explain that they are tagged and registered.

Now Jim is going to tag his next robot, the Poet Bot, even though it is not going to be set out on the road, so that in 100 or 200 years someone can look it up on the FAR web site and get all the relevant information.

Does he have a plan?

“I never had plans,” Jim laughs. “I didn’t need them. I go from day to day without feeling the need for planning.”

For sure Jim’s art will continue to spring up here and there, entertain, delight, enlighten, give pause for thought, maybe even stir things up a bit as the Hitchhiker project did quite unexpectedly.

His production to date has been really vast. We have only scratched the surface of the world of Jim Pallas: go and spend some hours at his web site: www.jpallas.com

David Charles | October 16, 2006