Art quotes

"For the last 20 year period I've been working with ideas conceived as a child." -Red Grooms

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Road Trip To Remember

       I am sitting at the computer and glancing at a completed painting that turned out great if I do say so myself. The photo inspiration came from a photo revisit. Let me explain. When I was in my a child my family took a Michigan road trip. My father stayed home to manage his business. In his place my grandfather became our tour guide. He took us up the middle of the state across to Lake Michigan by car ferry boat and into Wisconsin then up to the Upper Peninsula and down the straits of Mackinac. We had many stops at historic sites and rich scenery of Pure Michigan. When we stopped we would pile out of the car stretch our tired bodies and take pictures, lots of pictures.  
       Many years later these stops  were revisited on my own family’s road trips. One such site stands out for its extreme beauty. I stopped the car in the Upper Peninsula (this time we took the impressive Mackinac Bridge) to stretch our legs at a parking pull off. We walked down a dark and shady worn path that led under a huge iron bridge over a little stream with moss covered boulders. Cameras were clicking away as we tried to capture this majestic scene to remember at home. Standing in this pristine site filled with cool texture and a symphony of sounds it suddenly occurred to me that this wonderful place was one of the stops on my childhood family journey so many years ago. Some things actually may stay the same at least for one lifetime.
       I got an email from an art gallery that has a summer theme of forests of Michigan. The image was there in that pleasant place in my memory, dense forests, pure tumbling water and moss covered rocks. After finding the second generation photo of my journey into that beautiful scene, my interpretation was on course. As things go in the arts, the gallery might or might not take this forest painting. The process of art in this case reminded me that the first step – inspiration - is motivated by many sources. In this case, I am so happy to have returned to a very special memory.    
       As we watch parents do their parenting thing, we have to marvel at all the effort that goes into raising and nurturing a child. That family trip many years ago is fondly remembered. Here’s to the family road trip and may we all have many more. 
Joel                                         Upper Peninsula scene, second time around 

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Passion of Original Art

Great Lakes Passage by Joel F Ellis, 27x35
During a featured artist show of my works a few years ago, a woman brought her older blind friend to “see” my paintings. I was a little startled, but more honored to give a personal tour of the work with the woman.  I described various pieces as we came to them when she stopped me and said that her friend liked the texture in my work. She wanted me to help her see through feeling the textures with the descriptions. We came to a large painting, Great Lakes Passage, with palette knife ridges and defined brush strokes of dune grasses, she moved her fingers over texture that can only be experienced in personal viewing. No flat copy or digital image shows the true sense of the work. She stayed with the painting a long time, moving her fingers along the sand passage to the great lake, when she turned to me and said, “It is a beautiful original painting, reminds me of camping in the dunes.”              

Original art, what is it? Though much of my work ranges from heavy texture to smooth color on canvas, the whole experience has been lingering with me as technology changes so much for us. The art community is a buzz with the shakeup of digital possibilities. With so much reprinted work available they ask, what will the art gallery look like in the next few years and how will the art community ignore or embrace the changes? These are some of the questions swirling out there in our Saturday morning gathering of artists.

Original art, as the name explains, is created by the artists and has their finger prints all over the piece, so to speak, and sometimes actually embedded in the material. The patron who receives the original has the only work by that artist, there can only be one original. This is the promise or compact between artist and patron. Replicas are another art form depicting the original using today’s technology with impressive exactness of color and image. Not texture. Even GiclĂ©e , which I offer of some of my paintings, can capture finite details with options such as size changes using almost exact pigment replicas of the original, but never the texture unless added in to the final replica product by the artist, noted and signed with limited edition documentation for collectors. As I said, Another art form.

The digital world is astounding us with its infinite possibilities, many challenges and new avenues that can lead to unlimited potential for the adventurists. Digital art itself presents a whole new consideration of the concept of original. New to the field of fine art – digital art has the potential to explore so much beyond liquid colors on canvas. Digital art today is well into the discussions just as photography as a fine art has been discussed since the medium took steps beyond true image, leaving a collector to wonder which is the original, and does it matter any more?

I think it does. Online art galleries are out there waiting to wow the customer with their wares and some very fine looking art.  Comparing the art markets to the vast food industry in America, the online art would be like a huge chain store, while the artists down the street would be in the local farmers market. Buying original art allows the patron the opportunity to get to know the artists, to put a hand on the same materials, to feel the passion that the artists felt in the production of the work.

All this is not to say that the miracle of the internet does not play an important role in exposure to original art. I do have an on line presence, web site ( ) and yes this blog. The discussions of original art, though confusing in the new digital age, are invigorating, almost like a sensory finger climb on great lake dune.