Emotionalism at Play

This morning I woke up in tears, the kind typically reserved for when Oprah interviews you.  I guess my life sometimes feels like I’m in a labyrinth, one that seems to be a lot easier for other people to navigate but incredibly road-blockey for me.  I’m sure I’ll find a way to laugh about this later but not now.  The crummy weather day is insisting I remain miserable, sad and hopeless.

The good news is that I’m going to try to bottle the feeling and use it later as an element in a new series of paintings.  I have a vague idea of what they’ll look like – I often tell my students that I tend towards having psychic visions of future work, which helps to focus me during the process of going from thumbnail sketch to reality.  There are no thumbnail sketches yet.  Just feelings, colors, and fleeting imagery.  The planned series will be titled Futura, which is funny that I know that  – the way I knew I would call my cat Jasper before I met him.

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I didn’t have a working title for a series of paper collage works I displayed back in 2004.  I received a grant from Senator John DeFrancisco and subsequently was granted a lot of press on the show that accompanied the artwork.  It didn’t actually work that way, but in reverse.  I made the art a couple years before, secured an art show at Pastabilities restaurant in Armory Square (downtown Syracuse), charged up a storm to frame the art then applied for and received the $1,000 grant (or was it $1,500?  I don’t remember).

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I used to teach at Bryant & Stratton, my second job out of college, in the long-defunct Fashion Merchandising program where as a business college professor, I learned and taught students to write press releases that would get them noticed.  I had a lot of success with my own press releases, frequently getting follow-up articles about my work published in the local papers.

John DeFrancisco is someone I’m following on Twitter.  Yeah – I tweet now.  You can see the link somewhere on the side of this blog post.  It’s https://twitter.com/karentashkovski.  I’m @KarenTashkovski.  I’ve tweeted a handful of times, mainly links to my social media activities – Pinterest, Facebook, here, etc.  I’m learning the whole hashtag culture or as I refer to it – number sign.  And I’m re-tweeting and following back.  Cyberspace is a vast black hole but it has the dichotomy of being a small world as well.  Kim Kardashian (yes, I’m following her – who isn’t?) could easily flick a thumb and retweet to her universe and all of a sudden as a consequence because we’ll become besties, I will be able to identify a Kanye West song (or not, probably not.  I’m more of a classic rock/alternative person).  Hopefully the real consequence will be resulting sales.  People have a lot of power at their fingertips, to friend you, connect with you and know you or at least your on-line persona.

I have a google email now too.  It’s ktashkovski@gmail.com.  I needed it for something, I can’t remember what now – and used it successfully to send Linda Bigness those videos through google docs.  So they should be up shortly on You Tube and on here.  Oh yeah, that’s what it was.  I’m on You Tube.  I have a channel (meant to be said with a posh British accent).  I posted three videos, two of them of my students in my super secret (not so secret) Harry Potter club at school.

The hope with that is to seek a fairy-godmother-wizard person who will pay to send my students and their families to Harry Potter World in Florida.  Oprah, are you listening?  Because I’ve mentioned you twice now.  And if you want to do a surprise interview first, then I will be well prepared.  I have mastered the ugly cry and everything.

http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQFc9d1i6QGQcQBsimYyWyQ

 

 

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Retrospective Reflection

My mom is not a hoarder.  Everything she has is organized – she just keeps a lot of stuff. In her defense, it’s a lot of our stuff, my sisters and me, things we left behind when we moved out.  I can ask her for the most random thing – a super-ball for playing jacks for example, and she will produce it in thirty seconds or less.

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I went over there today to hunt for vintage bridesmaid dresses for a Halloween costume idea I have and found a dress from 1978.  Yes, it still fits, which is hilarious because it just feels so weird to put something on that I wore when I was fifteen.  More so because it even exists, lol, and is actually in decent condition.

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I started looking at the old photo albums stored in heavy duty plastic bins in the basement, which took the better part of the afternoon – all the bad hair and bad posture pictures that make me cringe and think thank God we didn’t have Facebook then.  I’d rather be the keeper of my own image and so I brought the albums home with me.

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Yesterday I went to visit Linda Bigness in her art studio at the Delavan Center in Syracuse, NY.  We did a video interview and as soon as I can figure out how to send her the video through email- it’s about 45 minutes long – she will edit it for a future post.  Watching her work made me wish I had a studio like hers and that I was as compelled to paint everyday as she is.  I used to be.

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In 1997, I worked as a Master Teacher at the New York State Summer School of the Arts.  It was held at Cazenovia College that year.  I was thrilled to have been hired by former Syracuse University professor James Ridlon because at the time they were looking for high school art teachers and I taught elementary  (although my certification is K-12) and I didn’t even have tenure.  I taught one class in the morning and spent the rest of the time in a studio space painting 36″ x 36″ canvases.  This was right after my first year at my job.  I was still living in my parents’ basement (cellar dweller) and right after that two-week stint complete with living in the dorm, I got my apartment on Woodbine Avenue where I ended up existing for nine years.

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I had lunch every day with a Cazenovia art professor, Corky Goss, who later offered me the opportunity to exhibit in their gallery. Bring everything you have is what he said, because the space was so big.  I took that literally and framed a heck of a lot of paintings for the show the following year.

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I found pictures from that show in one of the photo albums.  I think they were pictures Mom took because you can see the reception spread and Mom always documents the food.  Upon reflection, it’s so funny because I still look at that show and remember how much I thought I had arrived as an artist and how I thought I was going to be phenomenally successful and all I would need to do is wait passively for the accolades and the next step to just happen to me.  The rollercoaster ride, you know?  Like it would just happen.

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I wonder how many other artists have had that same feeling.  Probably everyone of us at one time or another.  The moment arrives and you are so sure it is a turning point but then it isn’t, wasn’t.  Art is quite a ride, whether it is visual or performing arts.  You have to have a thick skin to deal with the rejection.  Maybe nobody has a thick skin.  It’s more that we try to focus on the positive experiences and remind ourselves of them when things are not going so well.  In my career, it was never so much about not going well, it was more success-nothing-nothing-nothing-success-nothing-nothing, etc.

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Maybe things will change, maybe not.  I’m not discouraged because I do feel very lucky.  I have my family and memories complete with decades old paraphernalia.  Reflecting on the past makes me realize that there have been so many good chapters in my life and a great many goofy ones.

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Artist’s Dozen

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So when I create art I have this thing about crafting a dozen pieces in a series.  It has to be twelve for some reason and when it’s not I feel a little bit like the the TV detective Monk – a little OCD-ish about it.  You can imagine what this is like for me when I sell only one out of a series and I’m left with stupid eleven.  It is, I don’t know – I’m weird, let’s just put that out there right now.

If you watch New Girl on Fox, you would have caught the last episode where Jessie explains about how we all have stupid stuff wrong with us – we’re all weird.  It’s a wonder anyone ever finds anyone to love, really. (Or am I the only one who identified with that episode?)

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These pieces are meant to be purchased together, so they are technically one work of art even though I signed each one for some reason.  They are 12″ x 12″ canvases, layered with thick canvas and painted with latex paint.

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I traced a heart stencil I hand-made and cut up all sorts of textures to attach resulting in individually unique hearts.  I added playing cards, suede and other fabric, and photographs from old calendars – Pre-Raphaelite imagery as well as Harry Potter film photos and international pictures from Paris, Greece, Scotland, Venice…and maps.

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I don’t travel at all but I feel like a traveler in a way because my artwork can go anywhere in the world and I can feel transported by it. I almost can’t believe how many people from different countries have viewed this website, by the way.  People from every continent.  I assure you that I have no cousins in South America or Africa.  I really need to get a passport and put myself out there for real, but then I would probably want all my pages stamped in the united colors of the over fifty countries represented here.

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The finished hearts are stitched with embroidery floss then I added collage items – checkers, Scrabble pieces, wooden spools, tinker toys, buttons, sea glass and coins.  Each is a separate entity but when together they tell a story, like always, a puzzle of my life or yours, or whoever embodies them/buys them and adds their own interpretation.

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The one above now resides in a friend’s house and I can’t tell you in words what that means to me because it is poetically emotional in a way I just cannot express.  It’s supercalifragilistically amazing when someone else cares for my work as much as I do.  If you want one of these sets, let me know.  I think I have five of them ($600 for a set of twelve).

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Cards in the Corner

Here are pictures from my art exhibit last week!

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I sell the 5″ x 7″ cards for $5 each.  They can be framed or used as  greeting cards and mailed.  (They are blank inside).

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They take hours to make so in terms of being paid what I’m worth?  Lol.  People seem to equate time with money.  Non-artists frequently ask me how long it takes me to make an abstract painting, as though it should cost a lot less than realism even though there are a million Bob Ross types who sell “realistic” landscape paintings made without reference materials.

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The answer, naturally, is it took me my whole life.  My whole life to figure out that I had a style, a body of work that represents me as an artist and as a person.

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The cards contain stitched fabric and paper – some watercolors, some oils, and all of my favorite collage items – coins, stamps, sea shells, sea glass, playing cards, leather bits.  I love the smell of leather or as my colleague at work and I call it, leathaaaaaaaaaaa!

They are among my favorites of my body of work because they engage all the senses.

These types of art shows are mainly for the experience, the social aspect, the putting yourself out there business of being an artist and rarely about sales.  My mother generously spent the day with me so it was more about hanging out with her and laughing and eating roast beef sandwiches.