Thursday, May 28, 2009

Salon des Refuses

If I see one more bad lighthouse painting I'm going to be sick. ©evertson 09

Let me preface this post by saying this is not a put down
of any particular artist media rather an observation of
the "I know what I like" mentality.

"I'm sorry but we're not accepting 'computer' art this year
because we don't consider it fine art." 'Rita's' disembodied
voice informed me that I would not be exhibiting in our local
East Hampton art show. I had called to sign up for this years
show and in all fairness Rita had that nervous tone of a
spokeswoman not used to issuing group opinions she didn't
necessarily share. She was quick to add that her daughter
did some "interesting things" on the computer ;)
Last post I related how I had spent the last 6-7 years re-tooling
my art with the liberating infusion of all things the computer
has to offer the artist. A whole new palette of color, brushes
and techniques. Sadly, here in my hometown the local art
league seems a bit less impressed. I exhibited last year for
first time in their art show, ignoring my feeling that this
really wasn't my normal venue; but since it is my town, why not?
I did get some of the strangest comments and questions.
Q. Where is the original?
A. On my hard drive.
Comment. It must be easy to make these with the
right software; do you use the program that turns
your art into paintings?

R Garriott, a fellow blogger, had an amusing post on the
13 things not to say to an artist.

I'm not heart broken and don't feel the need to educate
anyone that "fine artists" don't necessarily limit themselves
to oils, acrylics or watercolor. I'm pretty content as a 50
something artist with a decent resume and enough exhibition
opportunities to keep me busy. I can appreciate both traditional
media and new media and have worked in both. So while Rita
asked if perhaps I had some oils to pull out, I think not.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

True Confessions

Another one?

In early '02 I returned from an all too brief stint as a visiting
artist in Thailand. Confession time. I realized I was stuck in a
rut. I didn't have half of the passion of the Thai artists I met.
Somewhere between getting my MFA back in '78, moving
to NYC for ten years, having a child and building a paying career
independent of art, my rut was a comfortable groove.
I wasn't uncomfortable.

Perhaps that isn't the best description for a art-working mode
but I'm more productive and the work is a bit edgier when I'm
operating out of my comfort zone. Whether it's wrestling with
a new topic/subject or needing to use a new and different media
to express; my artistic growth seemed strongest at that uncertain
confluence of "I don't know" and "I'm uncomfortable".
I mention all this because I started over in a sense. I had images
and ideas that I wanted to explore with new media; altered
photographs, animation, video. I found a source of inspiration
and knowledge almost in my own backyard. I began taking a few
graduate courses at Wesleyan University. Lo and behold over
the last seven years I accumulated enough credits to earn a
second masters.
The process made me refocus on my art in a
way I hadn't felt in years; and I relearned the joy of confronting
uncertainty. So while a second masters is extremely redundant
I just may have used those new building blocks to make a
staircase to the top of the rut. At least I'm not making piles of
dirt and calling it art anymore ;)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Miles to Go...

Diver ©evertson (version '09)

Only a few days left to participate in Rhizome's pixel billboard,
community builder and fundraiser. Rhizome is a premier site
for following new media. If you are blogging you just might be
interested. I added this "diver" and a linkback as part of their
fundraising collage.

dive suit photo ©evertson 2005

My diver began his artistic reinvention when I took the photo above
at a maritime museum on Lake Ontario. I'll save more on this piece
for a later post as he will show up as an element in a digital collage
for the Eclipse Gallery 50/50/50 Exhibition this fall.

Detail form "Wish You Were Here" ©evertson 09

I haven't posted my finished project from "A Book About Death"
because it's continuing to evolve. I mentioned I wrote a short story
and that led to my image for the exhibit. One last detail I was
struggling with was the organizers suggestion to include the
exhibition title to our works. I decided to take my drop shadow
displacement idea from last post and add a tattoo title. More
on this piece later. Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


William with Philip's Tattoo digital collage ©evertson 2009

My wife found a beautiful gem of a book for me. Published
in 2005; I hope you are not as far behind on your reading
list as I. The Tattoo Artist by Jill Clement is a beautifully
constructed story of Sara, an early modernist artist. The
novel unravels the tale of her art; successes, failures and
ultimately the pain of using her own body as a canvas. It
combines threads of early 20th century modern art and
primitive votive art forms with themes of immortality
and perseverance. The construction of identity forms a rich
undercurrent. While not without a few quirks: I found her
descriptions of Ta'un'uuan life much more believable
than her artist life in Manhattan. Still, I was impressed
by Ms. Ciments imagination and wit.
While not finding myself in the same circumstance as
protagonists Sara and her lover Philip, I was inspired to
attempt a version of Philip's tattoo.

Starting with my head shot I added a layer of black lines
rotated to the tilt of my head and created a drop shadow.
I made a new channel for the head shot and adjusted for
a high contrast.

Using the displacement filter I mapped the drop shadow
to my high contrast face channel. I continued with the
eraser, dodge and burn tools to create a more life-like
I worked with Philip's tattoo mainly because I think I
would rather have Jill Clement's words paint the
picture of Sara's.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Moses ©evertson digital collage

A big thank you to the Hartford Courant for using my digital
collage "Moses" for the cover of an iTowns section today.
The backstory of this picture occurred many years ago. I worked
for an art gallery in NYC and one of my morning jobs was to
evict any homeless that had taken up residence in the doorway
for the night. Moses was always there and it was always hurtful
to me to try and pry him loose from his appropriated home. He
would move off with his shopping cart amid a flurry of
curses. One day while I was along the west side highway
taking photographs I ran into him as he collected scrap metal.
For the first time in a year he was together enough to find out
that he was a Vietnam vet. Alcoholic and perhaps suffering from
mental health issues, Moses was a tip to the iceberg of
our failure to care for our country's homeless. One day he
simply vanished. This piece combined elements of urban and
forest in the hope that we can find a "promised land" for our lost.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Still Making Waves

Paper in Moonlight ©evertson 2009

This is the latest in my series of "tissue waves". Starting my layer
buildup in Photoshop is a long exposure night shot with moonlight.
With the camera left in place, I caught a morning shot to layer for
additional color. In the first two in the series I cut out the background
to focus on the water-like quality of the paper; this time I left a
window to add a suggestion of light source. I built another layer of
water drops although I was a little conflicted as to whether this one
was about paper or water - water won out. There are a few ways
to make drops but I use the noise filter then blur filter, then
thresholds to produce a size and density I like. Bevel and emboss
provide the dimensionality although I adjusted blending modes
and opacity to keep it subtle.

Companionway style ladder built for Sue Graham of Niantic, Ct

Thank you to commenters on my woodworking in my "other job"
post. One of the hardest things I've faced as an artist is avoiding
the mental burn off of working a second job. I certainly had an early
string of either crappy or demanding jobs that left little time or
energy for art. The companionway ladder above was a commission
to access a quirky space the homeowners wanted to turn into
library storage. One of a kind woodworking commissions
require some creative solutions but fill a niche and provide a
comfort zone to pursue my fine art.

I mentioned Art Ravels last post and then I discovered that she had
given me kudos the same day. I won't follow Woody Allen's advice
to not join any club that would accept me. Did I mention she has great
taste in all things art ;) ?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Things We Do


Jafabrit had a very interesting link to an essay by Alain
Beriot on Being an Artist. His major thread concerns the
difference between the business of art and being an artist.
I spent some time re-reading the section concerning audience.
Who are you creating for? Yourself? Everyone? Or can you
learn to be discerning; can you recognize that everything to
everyone isn't possible.

Edgar Degas L'Absinthe oil on canvas 1876

I build cabinetry and furniture to make a living. In fact most
people seem to prefer to recognize what I do for money as
what defines me. A quote from Degas in Beriot's essay seems
to sum up a general artist's malaise. "Your pictures would have
been finished a long time ago if I were not forced everyday to
do something to earn money" Leaving aside Degas' politics and
personality I have to wonder what that other work was?


Mostly I enjoy the cabinet work that makes money; I enjoy even
more when I exhibit my art. I just don't expect to see a pot of
gold there. The dialogue Corrine opened in Jafabrit's Art found
resonance with me as I try to balance "being an artist" with not
wasting time pursuing false leads and dead ends. Just don't ask
how the recession is effecting my cabinetry; suffice it to say I've had
a bit more studio time.

I've also had more time to explore other art blogs and I'd like to
point out Art Ravels as a fresh perspective from a perceptive
observer of the NY art scene. Follow the link; I don't think you'll
be disappointed as you follow her to various museums and galleries.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Paper Waves

Tissue Wave II ©Evertson 2009

A second in my series of crumpled paper waves. Like so many
inspirations this began as an accident of light. I walked by
a window and morning light hitting some packing
material gave it a peculiar water-like feel. I spent less than
an hour with it until the light effect passed. Most of those
photos were lost in my hard drive crash but this was one
that I had backed up. While I wait for the light to manifest
again I'll continue to play a bit in photoshop.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa Hokusai

The "original wave" and still the best after countless
printings and reproductions later is Katsushika Hokusai's
ukiyo-e print from the 1820's. This print is one
of Hokusai's series "36 Views of My. Fuji" The series is
a masterwork of light, subject and composition.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Not the End of the World?

Total desk confusion

There is nothing like a hard drive failure to cause one
to evaluate life's priorities. I awoke Monday morning
to a giant blinking question mark on the computer
screen. I tried everything; mouth to mouth, chest
compressions, those electric paddle things and the
calls to tech support to some guy in a hut on the other
side of the planet. Finally the long drives to first one
Apple store (your hard drive is dead, but we're closing
for two weeks of renovations) then another (they got it
done by Wednesday night). I tried to fill my grief by
dragging an old iMac out of the closet but it was sooo
old and tired. Luckily I had my art backed up as well
as most of my writing. I did lose two years of photographs
and all my tunes. My next purchase? Forget that stupid
blinking check engine light, I need a second hard drive
and auto back up software. You just have to get your
priorities right ;)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Author Author

East Hampton Public Library's 898 Literary Review

More serendipity from "On the way to making a postcard for 'A
Book About Death' I wrote a story" story. Shortly after I added
that piece to the right margin of my blog I saw a newspaper
article asking for submissions to our library's new literary
magazine. So I did, then promptly forgot about it until yesterday
when browsing the stacks our library director, Sue Berescik
handed me an impressive, sixty page, hot off the press copy.
It was an impulse to make the submission but seeing it in print
yesterday afternoon put a smile on my face :) I was even more
pleased when I sat down and read the other poetry and short story
submissions. I write a lot in my journals, it did take a while to
construct and it was a bit like my mixed media, but not. I think
I was most pleased that I didn't let my inner critic tell me
not to bother.