'Treats' Acrylic on wood assemblage ©robinrkent

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Year of Thinking Creatively

'Two for the Road'
acrylic paintng on antique barnboard
©robin r kent
Before it goes too far down the road, I thought I'd point out the longest day of the year was last Tuesday. Closely followed by the year's halfway point: today. Is it all just rolling by, or is it just the season?
For me, this year has unintentionally turned into the 'take stock' year. Evaluating what I've accomplished, what I like, and where I go (grow?) next. A good milestone for the 2011 halfway point timeline.
I'm comfortable in my primitive style, or is it more contemporary? Do I want to drop 'folk art' from my moniker?  Does using it narrow my audience when they'd be more receptive to another term? Any suggestions?
Does painting on canvas dilute my existing body of work? What about tackling more 'serious' subjects without wry undertones?
In the meantime, I'll keep on pedaling and see what comes of all this. There is no roadmap so I'll have to listen to my inner backseat driver. I'll know if I took the right road after a few pieces are behind me. Hopefully before the end of the year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Music, food, and contemporary folk art. What an ensemble.

'Jazz Piano Player' framed assemblage
©robin r kent
For some, modern and contemporary folk art can be similar to jazz music, in a way that when you see it, you like it. For others, maybe not. But I believe you can develop an appreciation for it.
In the culinary arts, if you're a gringo like me, it took small steps to appreciate Sriracha hot sauce. I've come to love Mexican food. And Thai. Of course, French. Actually I love all food. But what I thought was spicy is now mild.
It works the same way for music. I needed to hear the familiar. If it's got a good beat, I can dance to it. Goes right to my soul. I didn't 'get' Herbie Hancock at first. How can you dance to that? Now I drift along 'kind of blue' easily, painting alongside jazz greats (and smalls). Miles Davis is my musical version of Marc Chagall. Charlie Parker resembles Jackson Pollock. Guess I love music in the same way as food and art. Necessary part of life. Still have to work on my Opera chops, though. Gustav Klimt, maybe? (Want to suggest a visual artist to describe Bob Dylan?)
So, when scanning the artscene at it's dance, I find contemporary folk art in the corner, alone. How to catagorize it's persona? How to put the kind of art I paint/assemble/sculpt into words without people thinking of girls in profile with big bonnets when I add 'folk art' to the explanation? Yes, it is a melange of styles. Delightfully primitive, yet sophisticated, with a hint of visionary.
Maybe let people discover their taste for it a little at a time. There's such a rich of diversity on the contemporary folk art menu. Good thing it doesn't have any calories.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dreams and other-worldly places

'First Cup'
mixed media wall assemblage
©robin r kent
Last night, and for a few nights before that, I've had interesting, busy dreams. Many were thinly veiled metaphors for people and places from my past. It was nice to be in familiar surroundings visiting them again.
Another dream was just a bunch of busy work. That day's schedule had been over the top and I found myself matching socks in my sleep. It was the first time I can recall editing a dream in progress saying 'this is a waste of dreamtime' and starting a 'second feature' without really waking up.
I used to read Freud's 'Interpretation of Dreams' when younger, but now I just enjoy the ride. Who needs to go to the movies?
Many times my art problems can be solved there also. It's good to get some distance on them. There's a notebook next to my bed, but I usually remember anyway.
I fly a lot in my dreams. Always have since childhood. But I never flew too high and always had to 'peddle' to stay airborne. I must have learned that while swimming in flippers. It was handy. Still is.
Gravity is something I never took seriously. As a child in bed at night, I could look at my ceiling and think of it as a floor. I could mentally walk to my bedroom's threshold, which looked like a short wall in a submarine, step over it, and continue walking on the ceiling down the hallway. It was such a pristine surface with nice lighting. And so quiet no one could hear me. Try it. It's a good exercise.
Once when I had a childhood fever, I remember my mother kneeling at my feet offering me thin slices - like shiny needles or wires - that cut the air into three dimensional surfaces. She broke that dream by washing my face. I always remembered that invisible 3d concept of volume and came across it only once more as an adult.  But that's a story for another night. 
How do you dream? Any come true? 
Time to say goodnight. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Timing is Everything

'Waiting for a Bite'  acrylic on antique boards
©robin r kent
If there's one phrase I'd use to sum up my life, I'd say it's 'timing is everything.'
As I get older, I find myself using that as the final adage to every story, experience, lesson I've come across, first hand or not. It always fits.
I never was particularly aware of timing when I was younger. I'd get lost in something that captured my attention and have no recollection of how long I'd dwell on it.  Cool early mornings in summer, fishing on the lake with my parents. Watching the red and white bobber drift for what seemed hours. Hoping for a bite, if the time was right.
As a teenager, I remember holding on to my friend's pocketbook as we walked through an art show or museum because if I let go, I'd be unable to keep pace. I easily fell into visual quicksand. Loved looking at art. It just felt right being there.
As an an art director, I watched as the copywriter had a new computer installed. This was the beginning of desktop publishing's glory days. That one computer could do things the whole production department took hours to do. The days of 'cut and paste' in galley form were numbered. But I couldn't get the hang of it. We didn't think of layout the same way. Who could blame it?  Written in code... not the way I approach design. And it wasn't about to budge. Almost a karmic 'your time is up' for many of us oldstyle tradespeople. The world had shifted again into another time*.
So I was forced back to my fine art roots. Always a good place of retreat. Maybe it was a rebound way onto the path of creating folk art for the years since. All I know is the timing was right.
Do you find things more easy or difficult depending on the timing? Do you see the ebb and flow of events run through your life? Many divergent factors joining together at the same time?

*Finally got the jist of photoshop last year.  Just had to wait for the timing to be right.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Folk Art Diary: Tilling the soil

'Three Carrot Gardener' folk art wood garden sculpture
©robin r kent
I have to say I was taken by surprise to find one of my long ago paintings of crows on a beautiful site called     www.crowaday.blogspot.com
Terry Davitt Powell displays sensitive, stunning art with crows always the subject. Loved looking at all the variety in themes a black bird can evoke.
This is the time I become aware of everything popping. The lilacs have gone whoshing by, and just as I started to mourn their scented passing, the mock orange flowers. With all the vernal explosions around me, how can I concentrate?
It's my busy time of year in all respects. I must avoid the distractions of hearing the grass growing, or deciding where to plant the raspberry patch, or courting too many Red Sox games.
It's time to dig deep. What to create? I've just begun to weed the brambles of my mind. And I know some unlikely volunteers always pop up. Any surprises for you?