Thursday, August 11, 2016

Some Prayers to Capital, Mass Media and Consumerism

United Citizen Ship (2016) Oil on canvas 48" x 48" Evoke Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM

Lets face it: We live in a society that worships money and consumerism over all other things. We rarely question the imposed fictions of the financial institutions that rule our world and entire lives. We live as submissive sheep oblivious and following the Neo-liberal agenda while rapidly depleting  the finite natural resources of this planet. Money stands as the supreme global religion that all can agree with and come together at the table. Very few dare to be blasphemous against the  sacred rules of the Free Market so it's time we start our day with a few prayers: 

To Our Holy Capital:

Our Capital, Who art in tax haven
Hallowed by Thy Name;
Thy corporations come,
Thy will be done,
on Main Street as it is in Wall Street.
Give us this day our consumer goods,
and forgive us our student loans,
as we forgive those who trespass our borders;
and lead us not into anarchy and revolution,
but deliver us from government regulations. Amen. 

Adoracion Capital (2014) Oil on cavas 36" x 36" Henao Contemporary, Orlando, FL

To Mass Media:

Hail Mass Media, full of grace.
Our money is with thee
Blessed art thou among channels,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mass Media, Mother of Profit,
Pray for us consumers,
now and at the hour of our debt.

Virgen Protectora del Comercio (2013) Oil on canvas 48" x 48" Private Collection

Glory be to the Free Market and to the Corporation and to the Holy Capital. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Two Prayers to Consumerism:

El Santo Rey (2013) Oil and metal leaf on carved wood 8' tondo. Private Collection

“O Sacred Heart of Our Marvelous Magical King, pour out your value meals upon our franchise, upon its managers, and upon all its workers.  Sustain the consumer demand, convert the non believers, assist the customers, deliver the burgers in front of the house, and have it your way always.  Amen”.

La Inocente (2013) Oil and metal leaf on carved wood 8' tondo. Private Collection

“O Sacred Heart of Our Innocent Wendy, we entrust our family, neighbor and homeland mealtime to you. Look down upon us and serve us your Old Fashioned hamburgers from your blessed renewed Heart. Become our refuge in life and our gateway to Food Paradise. Forgive our lack of appetite and awaken our hunger that we may become your faithful consumers in this life and the next, Amen”. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Artist to Artist: Don't compete with others, only with yourself.

Whether one is in art school or participating in an art contest, it is quite easy to fall into the trap of thinking this is all about competition. After all they train us from an early age to compete and beat your opponent, be it in sports or any other discipline. This may well be ingrained in our ancestral genes as we strived for survival and in pursuit of scarce resources. But let's not forget our hunter/gatherer ancestors also learned to cooperate with each other in order to survive. In a modern capitalist society it seems most natural to compete against each other. But allow me to question this competitive attitude for a moment and briefly explain why I believe it is unhealthy when it comes to art practices.

Art unlike science, math or even sports is a subjective field. Proper measurements on what is good or not can be debated for hours and it's nearly impossible to agree on a set of rules of what makes good art. Cultural background, age, nationality, race, politics, religion and education play a decisive part in a person's judgment on what makes good art. On top of that, aesthetic definitions change all the time. What most mainstream contemporary art connoisseurs consider good art will most likely change within a generation and keep changing afterward. Truth is we are filled with  so many adopted preconceptions and ideas about what art is, that when it comes to comparing our own art with others, we are either extremely unfair with ourselves or overtly complacent.

The problem with the competing "me v.s. them" mentality is twofold. We either compare ourselves to other artists that we consider inexperienced or way more advanced than us. The problem when we compare ourselves with artists we believe to be unprepared or lacking artistic skills is that we then become lazy and conformist with what we already master, assuming we are on top. When we compare ourselves to artists that are ahead of us in level of mastery, we end up being too harsh with our outcomes and end up frustrated.  Often we ignore  that these artists could have started practicing when they were much younger than us. Sometimes they are simply "gifted". Some of us have to work harder to achieve a successful work of art, but that should not be a discouragement. Many "gifted" artists take for granted their talents and go to waste. Sometimes it's better to sweat it and work harder so one can really appreciate what one has reaped.

My Studio in Savannah, GA in 2006

Even if we compete against artist we consider to be at the same level as us, we forget that everyone's path is different and there is no "one" right way to do art
Instead, why not compete with yourself. If last year you produced 10 high quality paintings, try to make 15 this year without sacrificing quality. Do not try to speed up  your process just because other artists are producing 30 or even 40 paintings a year. This is not a race to see who makes more, but rather make art that pleases you and you feel proud of. Most of the time this requires time and perseverance. One can learn from other's mistakes but even better: Learn from your own mistakes.

My studio in Houston, Texas in 2016

Most professional painters I know are individualistic and  prefer create their work while they are alone n their private studios. That fact alone should already reveal a hidden truth in all of this. In this competitive society we live in, the only real competition out there should be with yourself. Strive for excellence but never forget there is no finish line as long as you're alive and enjoy art. Never mind what "comparison obsessed" critics have to say. No matter what you hear or see out there, allow yourself to be inspired by others but focus on your own art and create your own path.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tweets, Tips and Thoughts for Artists

In the past days I've been tweeting some thoughts about  art and being an artist. Some may take theses as advice and they may well be but they are reflective of simply personal artist philosophy based on my own experience.

Preparing my color palette for the week

I very rarely go into tweeter and  haven't updated my blog in months, and some of these ideas deserve a little more than 140 characters. So I'll take this opportunity to share and expand some of these thoughts a little further.

1. Somehow when I was a child, time went by slowly. Today time seems to move so fast. I paint so I can go back and slow down time for a while.  In a way I like to see painting as some kind of time machine but for the soul. Whenever I paint, there is this connection with childhood memories and play. Some can see painting as a personal therapist. When I think of painting,  The first images that come to mind are the smiling face of Bob Ross, the smell of my first crayons, my first pets and my first art encyclopedia.

2. Perhaps the hardest part of being a full time artist is keeping a healthy balance between being true to your art and making a living of art. I think there is this notion that if you paint to sell, you're a sellout and if not then you're an egocentric. I believe there should be a middle way for any artist. Let's be honest, even if we don't agree with our current capitalist system, an artist has to live. There is nothing wrong with making some compromise, but as soon as this starts to feel like a lie, then something is definitely wrong. Stay true to yourself and what you believe in. Some may argue this is pure ego, but the heart has to follow its own bliss, that's the way art is made.

3.In the beginning it's good to learn the rules & follow the book. In time you should break free, bend the rules and write your own story... If you asked me what was the most important thing in art 20 years ago I may have answered differently. At the time I felt I needed a set of rules, structure and a solid foundation. This was mostly denied to me in art school so I had to make it on my own and become my own teacher by teaching others. Time has passed and I still believe it is vital to learn from nature and the masters but I also understand not everyone has to follow the same path and in the end you choose your program and end writing your own book.

4. Being talented, creative and having great ideas are all good but without hard work, dedication and discipline your work won't get very far.. As a full time self-employed artist, I can tell you self-discipline is everything. without it I can't imagine how I would have survived this far without it. Of course that it helps if you have a special talent but with hard work and disciplined habits you can become very good at what you do and also good at time management which is crucial to marketing your art.  A creative way of thinking tends to be organic, unpredictable and even inconsistent.  One must have a  strong charioteer to rein in the horses of creativity.

5. Do not rest til you've mastered your art. If it's too easy, move on. Staying too long in safety zones eventually kills the creative spirit. I should also add that  creativity tends to thrive in challenging situations. By pushing your limits you will be much closer to discovering long hidden potential within yourself.  Something may seem difficult at first but if you don't give it a try, you'll never know.  And what may seem difficult at first, you would be surprised at how easy they really are once you've kept at it. Having determination and coming up with a good strategy plan once you've failed the first few tries is the key for success. The problem with sticking for too long on what you already know is that it becomes stagnant, boring and predictable, qualities you definitely don't want your art to be.

Me in my studio in Houston, Texas

These are just some thoughts I wanted to share but there is one I haven't shared yet and the reason why came up with this blog post to begin with.  Weeks before writing this, I've been drafting a few blog entries on more complex issues regarding art history, philosophy and aesthetics.  They will eventually be posted. But then I woke up this morning asking myself: Why do I obsess over such complicated matters? Art should be simple and its discussion shouldn't kill it/ Meanwhile a whole world of possibilities lies within me,  from which I could benefit and share with the world, just by remembering who I am and learning from my own experiences. So keep it simple, personal and close to home.  Because sometimes you don't have to go too far to discover truth in art as in life.