Tuesday, October 16, 2012

36th Annual Manlius Historical Society Fine Arts & Crafts Festival



I look forward to seeing you at the 36th Annual Fine Arts & Crafts Festival, held on October 20 & 21 at the Manlius Village Center, 1 Arkie Albanese Avenue in Manlius. Saturday hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday hours are 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. 

This is a juried show, to ensure a wide variety of only the best artisans and crafters, with products and prices to fit every shopper. The Seraph Cafe will be even better this year, offering delicious lunches and snacks. 

Conveniently located in the center of the Village of Manlius, plenty of free parking is available, allowing you every comfort in your holiday shopping.

The admission fee of $3.00 (Members $1.50, children always free) directly benefits the Manlius Historical Society in meeting its mission of promoting and preserving the fascinating history of the Town of Manlius.

Check out the web site www.ManliusShow.com for more information and photos of the 40 other artisans and crafters!



DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2011 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Red Fox

needle-felted sculpture by Antony Galbraith

The Red Fox represents adaptability, shrewdness, attention to detail, invisibility, fleet-footedness and quick-thinking and action.

If Fox appears to you it may signal it is time to move like the wind: quick, silent and unnoticed. It could be time to observe a situation silently, paying more attention to actions rather than words.

Your natural talents of shrewdness, attention to detail and ability to think quickly will heighten at this time. Employing these skills will allow you to know whether it is best to sit in the shadows or disappear in a flash with your quick movements.

Visit here of more information on Animal Totems.

DoAn

Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Monday, September 03, 2012

48th Annual Madison County Historical Society Craft Days

Red Fox Totem Sculpture

I'll be revealing my latest sculpture work at the annual Madison County Historical Society Craft Days on September 8th (10am-5pm) and September 9th (10am-4pm). Admission is $4 for adults, children 12 and under are free.  Purchase a weekend pass for $6 and attend both days! You will find my work set up in booth #310 (near Gate 3 entrance).

In addition to my needle-felted sculptures there will be craft and art vendors from New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  This is a demonstration show, so many of the crafters, myself included, will be demonstrating and creating work right before your eyes!

Musical entertainment is provided from 1pm-3pm by Scots-Irish fiddlers The Thistle and the Rose on Saturday and folk duo Double Chase on Sunday.

Food and children's activities are also available. For more information on the even please visit the Madison County Historical Society website

It's a great opportunity to get an early start on holiday gift shopping and support independent and local artisans!  I hope to see you this weekend!


DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2011 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Late Summer Sun

The sun has shifted. Its light has taken on a honeyed glow.  Shadows are longer. Colors are more saturated and contrasts are more pronounced. 

I enjoy this time of year. The heat is less intense, the nights are cool. There is a lull in activity, as though resting before the grand preparation of the business of autumn.

The last few years I did not allow myself the time to sit and enjoy the passing of the seasons like I used to.  It is easy to be swept away by the busyness and distraction that permeates our society. 

There is wisdom and healing to be gained by stopping and just being for a moment.  The mad dash forward is depleting when it is not balanced with a pause and even an occasional regression.  There is much to learn when sitting quietly on my porch amongst the herbs and watching the squirrels chase each other and listen to the blue jays scold.  When the wind tosses the branches of the trees in the park across the street I am certain, if I sit quietly long enough, I will gain some wisdom that would have eluded me had I rushed on like usual.

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What Bat Teaches

Little Brown Bat Wool Sculpture www.doanart.com
Little Brown Bat Wool Sculpture

Recently, I was visited by a little brown bat. It flew into my bedroom, circled once around and flew back out. I never saw the bat again, but in the days that followed I contemplated on what Bat as an animal messenger might communicate.  This is what came to me:

Shrouded in mystery and often feared and misunderstood, Bat offers some complex and challenging lessons.

Bat lives in dark places, navigates in the dark and because of this, it teaches us to utilize senses other than sight, even perhaps extra sensory perception.  Bat may be asking us to experience the world differently than we are used to and expand our awareness.

We may need to extend our awareness outward, like a bat using echolocation to navigate the dark. Or we may need to turn inward, like the bat entering the cave, to gain insight. The cave, itself ripe with symbolism, can be thought of as a place of power and origins.  Bat can help uncover the symbolic meaning of the cave, if we first learn to expand our awareness outside that of what we are used to.

Bats are social animals, living closely with hundreds or thousands of others.  Bat reminds us that we are not alone, even when we are in the dark.   We have allies all around us; it may be to time seek out those who understand us and support the journey we are being called upon to take.

Bat can be a powerful companion on this journey, if we disregard the fear that is often associated with it.  We must learn to overcome any fear that may prevent us from opening up our awareness and entering the dark, because when Bat shows up as a messenger, it is serious and not meant to be taken lightly.  Bat has high expectations, it doesn't choose the receiver of its lessons casually.  However, even though, what Bat teaches may be challenging, it always chooses those capable of hearing and answering its call.

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Changing Art, Changing Times: Part Three: Treading a Path

After two years of intensive creative production, I was beginning to lose connection to my artwork and its purpose.  I struggled to keep up with the demands of a very attention hungry society, while adding in own insecurities of being viewed as relevant or worthy within such an atmosphere.  The communication and focus required to produce both paintings and sculpture became harder to maintain because at the heart of this was the growing belief that in the end it didn't matter because I wasn't sure I had faith in what I was creating.  When I could muster the energy to sit down and work, I struggled.  I felt awkward creating what once felt liberating.  Sometimes the very idea of sitting down to work made me feel leadened.  Feeling this way about my art led me to mistake society's misunderstanding of art and the service it can provide as validation for my doubts. To continue in the direction I was headed threatened to set me back or even destroy my relationship to art and my self permanently. I believe this devaluing of my art and myself as an artist contributed to the dis-ease of mind, body and spirit that I was experiencing.  I knew I had to come up with a plan that would allow me to continue doing the art that fulfilled me and make a living.  After several months of contemplation I have begun to lay the groundwork for a new direction.

The first phase of my plan is to withdraw a good portion of my artwork from the wider public.  

From this point forward, I will be cutting back on and limiting the visibility of my paintings.  For those who are interested in continuing to follow or support my paintings access to my work will be through a private blog (doanartstudio.blogspot.com).  To gain access to the blog will require a monthly donation in an amount determined by the subscriber.  The contribution can be $1, $100 or $1000 a month. It doesn't matter how big or small the amount.  I believe this will help to diminish the problem of piracy, since I will have control over who has access to images of my paintings.  Not only will this will save precious creative time by eliminating the need to regularly check the web for copyright violations, but, more importantly, it will ease the pressure on myself as I reconnect to my painting practice.  Since I am a slow painter and enjoy the process of seeing the work emerge as I create it, I may only create a few pieces a year.  I am not certain what will manifest, but nothing authentic will emerge.  Painting is still a very powerful, personal and soul-nurturing process for me, but if I don't give it the space it needs to recover from the strain I have been putting on it, I believe I will lose it.  Prints of previous paintings will be made available through the Print-on-Demand service I currently use for a limited time and on a rotating basis.

Secondly, I will be focusing my public work on needle-felted sculptures.


www.doanart.com
Black Bear Needle Felted Sculpture (detail)
I have found that the sculpture work satisfies a balance between creating work that provides income and still possesses spirit and meaning to me without the risk of image piracy.  Few, if any, are going to use images of a three dimensional sculpture to create products such as t-shirts, prints, or other materials.  If someone wants to put the image on their website, I would still like permission, but it's not likely going lead to a huge loss of income. Additionally, the materials used to create the sculptures are more environmentally sustainable than the painting materials and most of it is purchased locally. It is not perfect, but it is much better. 

I believe that we are going through a transition in regard to how the public relates to and interacts with two dimensional art.

It is not a very healthy relationship right now and it hurts the artists who are trying to make a living from their work.  I believe there will come a time when people find a respect and meaning for two dimensional art again, but it might not be in my lifetime.  I have found that there is still the potential for three dimensional objects to be respected and held sacred.  That is not to say there is rampant materialism going on.  However, it has been my experience that more people can view a sculpture and appreciate its value (beyond money) than those who can do the same with a two dimensional work such as a painting.  I want to nurture and grow this connection to art before it is completely lost and I believe I can do this through my sculpture.

Creating needle-felted sculptures of animals satisfies a sense of purpose and meaning in my work . 

www.doanart.com
Custom Pet Portrait Sculpture
Celebrating the joy and love that people have for their companion animals, both alive and deceased, through the creation of Custom Pet Portrait Sculptures offers an unexpected joy that I have not experienced before.  This has lead me to begin exploring what humans can learn through connecting with animals.  What might this relationship teach about ourselves, the world we live in, and how might nurturing this relationship improve the lives of all? I have planned that this fall I will begin presenting sculptures based on this exploration and will also be offering, similar to my Custom Pet Portraits, Custom Totem Animal Sculptures. 

I have not found a solution to all the problems. 

www.doanart.com
Polar Bear Needle-Felted Sculpture (detail)
My change or sharpening of focus is not the only, nor is the best way for other artists. Artists are a diverse group of people with diverse talents and needs after all!  But I believe this is what I need for the time being.  Treading a new path for my art career is not a overnight project.  It is a process that will require constant evaluation and course correcting.  In this time of great transition, it will require a continued practice of trying new things, overcoming obstacles and seeking opportunities--basically the same as what I have been doing all along.  However, I will have to maintain a balance of producing work that supports a living and doesn't turn me into a machine of production. I believe it is important to keep the spirit in my work alive.  I still need to work on better valuing my work and my role as an artist in society.  People still need to be educated about art and the services it can provide., especially for a society in transition.  A method or practice that allows artists and art collectors to exchange work for a sustainable living that doesn't have to be solely dependent on money exchange still needs to be explored. Artists still need to pay for supplies, pay the bills, buy groceries and pay for healthcare afterall. I will explore and share my thoughts on these possibilities in the future.

I will share my observations and discoveries as I continue to work on connecting to the authentic artist inside and merge spirit with creation.  As scary as it is to narrow my focus to primarily needle-felted sculpture work, I am also sensing this as a necessary and powerful step toward my future as an artist and a contributing member of society.

I hope you will continue to enjoy following my adventures as I begin this new and focused direction of art, spirit and life. 

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Changing Art, Changing Times: Part Two: Facing the Obstacles

For the last six years I have focused on shifting my life to making a living through a creative career.  I have built this career from the ground up, with no prior experience or formal education.  It required a lot of trial and error.  I read books and magazines, I talked to other artists, I checked out websites, galleries, and just tried things.  Some things worked, others didn't.  In the process I learned a lot about myself as an artist.  Six years later, however, I find myself asking:

How does one make art and sustain a living from art in a consumer market? 

Hare: Fear, Creativity & Rebirth (detail)
For many independent artists making a living means getting their art noticed as much as possible and having it made available anywhere possible.  In addition to shows and having prints made, calendars, greeting cards, coffee mugs, electronic product skins, promotional materials, tote bags, T-shirts, are some of the other ways to get artwork visible.  I tried having some of the products made featuring my art, but not for long.  I couldn't help feeling it cheapened my art.  I see my art as more than a decorative detail, I am not a designer or decorator.  Additionally, I didn't like how it contributed to more "stuff" in the world.  I felt bad enough that in order to create my paintings I have to purchase and utilize many materials, many of which are not renewable or environmentally sustainable  I have worked hard to minimize the environmental footprint of my two dimensional art, but in order to produce high quality work, choices are limited.   For the prints of my work, I chose a Print-On-Demand (POD) service, which allows only the art that people select to be printed. I found this a much better option. Rather than print several hundred copies of an image and store them until the quantity is gone.  I have a hard time determining which of my paintings might sell over another. POD saves in overhead, while diminishing waste of materials.

I have tried selling my work in galleries.

At the start, it seemed to help in getting my work visible and widen my audience, but it never satisfied me.  For many artists, the Gallery-Artist partnership works very well.  Often the gallery will determine, based on the art the artist presents, what art they will sell.  That usually requires a consistent body of work, or work that can be created based on a kind of demand.  My paintings emerge in such a way that it is difficult to present a cohesive looking body of work that most galleries want. Galleries take a large portion out of the sale usually 30-75%, which means I had to artificially inflate the price to make enough to cover my expenses.  Selling through a gallery means I have little or no contact with the people who buy my art.  I like knowing the people who buy my work.  So, shifting away from gallery sales, meant I had to rely on myself.  Having a public studio was the next best solution, but the cost of rent and utilities was another burden on making a living.  Selling my paintings online seemed the best way for me to get my work noticed and sold.  And for much of the last six years it has been.

The caveat in promoting work in an online venue is dealing with image piracy.

Today's online culture has an issue with entitlement, copyrights and fair use laws.  Currently, as an artist, I own any image I make.  But, more recently, it has become common practice for people to take and use images found on the internet for their own use without ever asking the artist.  Most of this use is done without ill intent, or any sense of profit on the violator's part.  It is a byproduct of a rising trend of entitlement which allows an individual to take what is seen without consideration of the maker of the image.  In addition to the lack of initial financial remuneration, there is a snowball effect when one image is taken without consent or compensation. These images, posted on other websites-- almost always without credit to the artist--get lifted by other people, and so on.  Eventually, this image may be picked up by someone with more selfish, self-serving intentions.  I know of artists who learned that their images were used to make prints, products, even promotional materials for a whole conference without credit or compensation to the original artist.

One argument posed to me is that this disregard for copyright is actually a complement.

It is suggested that using my artwork on other websites or products can be a way for people to find my website and purchase the original work.  This argument doesn't work for me.  When images of my art are used without permission, they rarely give my name, website or any way of an individual to find my website.  If I were a hobby artist, perhaps I would find this use of my work a complement.  I am not, however, a hobby artist.  This is a life pursuit and a way of making living.  Sales of my work goes directly toward surviving in this world.  It pays for my supplies, my groceries, my health care, etc.  For every image used without my permission, goes potential loss of income and an added strain on my ability to make a living.

Occasionally I am asked for permission to use my artwork for publications and promotional materials.

I am grateful for being asked, even though it is the legal thing to do.  However, I rarely allow my work to be used this way. One reason is because about 98% of the time there is no compensation offered for use of my work.  And often, in addition to no compensation, the inquiry is paired with requests for altering the image to suit the individual's needs.  Again the argument of free advertising and increasing my visibility is posed. This may be true, but often I have never heard of these publications or organizations.  I have no idea of the extent of their reach.  It doesn't seem worth giving my work away on the chance that one or two new people may visit my site.  With the entitlement culture we are in, how could I be certain that my image isn't taken and used by another?  I like to maintain some integrity in regard to the use of my image. While I appreciate being able to support myself through my art, I am not okay with my images being used for just anything or in a disrespectful way.  To me, much of my art possesses a spirit, and anything with spirit deserves respect and proper care, that respect should carry over to the image representing the original artwork.

As a result of this disrespect and unlawful use of my artwork, I found myself working harder and harder.

Each year I sell more work, yet I had to double and triple my efforts each year to maintain the same level of sustainability.  Part of the added effort went into searching the internet for uncredited use of my images and contacting the violators, often repeatedly to get the image removed from the site. This often took several days out of month, going through images, contacting the owner of the site, quoting copyright laws, asking for the image to be removed, often these steps are repeated several times before the image is taken off the site. And that would be just for the images I found.  Not only was it time consuming. It was disheartening and disempowering. Many people removed the image immediately, some apologized, while others grew nasty and responded with hurtful comments.  All this meant less time working on my art, which added to the pressure of producing work.  With the exception of small percentage of people who appreciate and respect the arts, the majority see the work of artists on the internet as a free-for-all, ripe for the grabbing and uninterested or ignorant in the amount of time and effort went into creating the artwork.  It makes the solitary work of an artist, like me, feel all the more lonely and difficult. 

This brings me to the unease that began affecting me last summer. 

I didn't want to continue to participate in a culture that continues to promote the disempowerment of the artist. Especially when that disempowerment is by turning the artist into a mass-producer for a consumer culture.  I knew it was time to step out of this environment and find a new way of being an artist that can make a living in the world, but how do I do this?

Is it possible to be a new voice in the din of the present culture, and still be heard?  I think so. Afterall, I have met other people, artists and otherwise, who feel the same as I do.  There is a need for a different way of doing business, of providing services and artwork, and making a living in this world.

The problem is knowing how to tread a path for this new way.  How is this done?

I'll continue with my observations of this exploration in the next post...

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Changing Art, Changing Times: Part One: Getting at the Root

This post is long overdue.  There is a lot to share, so much so that it will take several blog posts to get it all out or else I'll overwhelm with an intimidatingly long blog post.  So bear with me as I try to be as clear as I can, with what is very difficult but important for me to express.

Sometime last summer I began to feel a shift in how I related to my artwork.  I think this shift started sometime earlier, but as often with deep, internal changes, the effects take longer to reach the surface.  When I realized that something was occurring, I tried to find some quiet time and solitude to read the messages coming to me, but this proved harder than I thought.  Not only was I experiencing a disconnect regarding the direction my art was going, but I also began experiencing strange physical and spiritual symptoms.  It was as though I was being rewired, but I didn't know into what or for what purpose.  Then, just as I was about to tackle this unsettling situation with more focus, my grandmother grew gravely ill.

Antony Galbraith DoAn Art copyright 2012 www.doanart.com
Root Chakra (detail)
Suddenly I found myself moving from Vermont back to New York state to live with my grandmother and care for her as she entered dying.  The next six months were devoted primarily to her care.  I spent a little time--when I had some free moments--contemplating the internal and external shift I was going through, but I was hardly enough to reach an insight. Despite the challenge of being a care giver, it was a rewarding experience and I am glad I made the move. After my grandmother's passing, I spent some time addressing the physical symptoms I had, but that was only one piece of the issue.  

I now had to get back to understanding the artistic and spiritual crisis that went along with all this. 

Prior to all this, I was  beginning to feel unsatisfied with the way I was creating my art.  I began to feel part of a production line, where work was being churned out one after the other.  The pressure to prove my validity as an artist by continually producing new work began to weigh heavily on me.  

One reason for this heaviness, was that, as an artist, I work slowly, which is unlike how I do most everything else.  Yet, this time, when I slowed down, I found it difficult to listen to that inner, guiding voice that I had grown used to.  I strained and sat and grew uncertain about the art I was making. With either approach, I was working in a way that was not conducive to producing my best work. 

The other reason had to do with my dissatisfaction with consumer culture and its relationship to art.  Without my realizing it, I had shifted my art making into a consumer business, where product was beginning to become more important that any other aspect.  This focus on making something began to strain quality, process, spiritual connection and expression.

I didn't want to just make things, yet, the pressures of being noticed as an artist, to make a living, were leading me down a road I didn't feel comfortable traversing. 

Juglans Nigra (detail)
With today's lack of attention span, I am required to keep producing, post my work and make sure my work stays visible and present in the minds of the public or else my work risks fading from consciousness and become lost in the turbulent and fickle online sea.  Maintaining this pace began to interfere with my ability to connect to my own artwork.  My work rises from a deep inner source and a connection to nature and spirit.  This communication is difficult to keep clear and constant in a society rife with distraction.  During my stay at OAC, I experienced how powerful this connection and communication can be when external distractions are reduced.  Such focus is draining. But when I was surrounded by stillness and didn't have the obligations of regular daily living, I could take time to recover.  Outside of the artist residency environment, maintaining this kind of focus, producing a constant flow of work and finding time to recover, without losing my audience, becomes nearly impossible.  I was forced to ask myself some big and rather difficult questions:
  • How do I sustain a living from art in a consumer market when the art I make is not easily made into a commodity?   (In fact, the very attempt to turn my art into a type of product that must be bought by more and more people, was straining my ability to create the art itself.)
  • How do I utilize my creative talents that honors the spiritual connection, without falling into a kind spiritual materialism, and still support an adequate living?  (In other words, is there a way to create art that serves a wider, more far-reaching good, that doesn't just serve the ego AND make a decent income? Or are these two notions mutually exclusive?)
  • Can I continue to make a living from my art without succumbing to the negative aspects associated with consumerism? 
  • Can I avoid the pitfalls of image piracy and a culture of entitlement that devalues and misunderstands the role art can and should play in a healthy society?
 I will explore these questions and others in the following posts...

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
Donate now!  
DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tracing Ancestral Totemic Roots

Over the last six months, while much of my attention was focused on caring for my terminally ill grandmother, I did find some time to continue to explore the path that my art is leading me on.  Ever since my stay at OAC in Belle, Missouri I had been considering the role and relationship of plant and animals our lives, represented as totems.   More recently, I found myself inexplicably drawn to traditional Scandanavian and Finnish music and mythology. I had no context for this, afterall, my family has Scottish, Irish and Germanic roots. I passed this music fascination off as a quirk

Then one day, I was looking at the Galbraith crest. I never really looked into its symbolism, which is odd, since I have it tattooed on my shoulder blade. The crest has three white bears muzzled with a blue bridle against a red background. The bear has a strangely elongated head and is often depicted with it's tongue sticking out.  The colors associated with family crests have specific symbolic meaning (Red=warrior; White=peace, Blue=loyalty). 

The name Galbraith was derived from the Gaelic "gall-bhrealnach", which means a stranger, or foreign Briton.  Indicating that the family called Galbraith came from outside Gaelic lands.  Scottish history scholar Tim Clarkson researched further into the name, having been puzzled by its appearance and origins.  He came to conclude that the blanket term "foreigner" was misapplied, and actually referred to Viking. Which means that the Galbraith family very likely has Scandanavian roots. The white bear, with its elongated head, is very likely a polar bear.  The sea faring Vikings would have most likely encountered the polar bear and would have been impressed by its ferocious nature. The color red symbolized the warrior qualities associated with the Vikings, while the white and blue (peace and loyalty) symbolized the family adopting the chivalrous culture of the Scottish clan system. Clarkson goes on further to explore the Galbraith back history, which is fascinating and even alludes to associations with King Arthur.

I am now exploring the totemic energy of the polar bear and how it might serve to illuminate my life.  Suddenly, things are starting to fall into place and make sense. Could this explain why I found the strange fascination with Scandavian music and myth? This could also explain having a gluten intolerance (which is common for those of northern European heritage).  Is this why I find much personal growth coming from facing and overcoming difficult obstacles? Could it explain my tenacious nature and, as one friend pointed out: "my aggressive need to learn!"Obviously the Celtic influence is strong, but digging deeper, I can also explore the long-forgotten Viking roots that made the foundation of what the Galbraith family was and what it can contribute to my life in the present.

What might you discover about yourself by looking at the totems and symbols depicted in your family crest?

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Entering the Cave

Horses from Chauvet Cave
Last June I went to see the film Cave of Forgotten Dreams a documentary by Werner Herzog about the cave art of Chauvet Cave in France.  I knew when I watched this film that it affected me deeply, but I had no idea that it would be part of a catalyst that would change me.  

As I sit here on the bank of the "river" that I dragged myself out from (see last post), I have been examining my art, my life, spirituality and how they all intertwine.  It has brought me back to Chauvet Cave and the feelings that viewing the art found within evoked.  Chauvet Cave contains the earliest known cave art, but it also contains art that spans several thousand years, which means that this cave was an active creative center far longer than anything we have known.

The art inside is astounding and makes the term "primitive man" insulting and inaccurate. The work found in the cave is masterful and powerful, even when viewed on film.  These are not mere scribblings made by a child-like mind. Each stroke is sure, confident and representative of the creature it depicts.  I can only imagine what it must be like to see this work in person.  The people in the film seemed deeply moved from being in the presence of this work.

I began reading Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit by David Whitley and it is further fueling this inner change.  It is difficult to articulate what it is that is changing in me, as it takes place, but I know that is has to do with this fusion of art, life, and spirit.

We know hardly anything about the people that made this art, but it is clear that there is a powerful, spiritual element.  When I look at the paintings, I feel as though I am seeing with my heart and soul, I feel something deep within me stir and long for a connection that I have yet to fully experience.

I know that while I take in the view of the "river" from here upon the shore, while the many people surge by, I am experiencing a transformation from inside out.  My creative output is strained, but I wouldn't call it blocked.  It is like the pause one must take between a deep inhalation and the long slow exhalation. I am finding this pause, a good place to be right now.

DoAn
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2011 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Inspiration

Sell Art Online
Inspiration for my art comes from many places.  Sometimes it is very clear, striking like a lightning bolt, with intensity.  Other times, it simmers slowly, emerging over a long period of time.  Sometimes a passage in a book, a scene from a film, music, or an experience in nature can be the catalyst for inspiration. 

The painting Rainbow Birds (pictured here) came from a flash of inspiration while watching birds at a bird feeder.  The image came quickly and creating the painting was fairly quick (for me).  This painting, also inspired me to explore paintings based on the chakras, so I guess I can even inspire myself!

Lately, the music of Tori Amos has been stirring something in me.  I have been listening to Night of Hunters, her most recent album. It is a wonderful fusion of contemporary music and classical.  The narrative of the songs connect and detail a woman's "dark night of the soul".  In the course of the evening she meets faery spirits and travels through time and consciousness to arrive in the morning a changed person.  I am connecting deeply to this story and to the creativity of the project Tori Amos put together.  When I listen to this, I realize I want to create something this powerful, meaningful and transformative. 

Since July of 2010 I have been going through a kind of minor "dark night of the soul" myself.  Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I fell out of harmony with my art making.  I felt foggy, disconnected and rattled to the core of my being.  The beliefs and practices that fueled my art practice in the last five years or so no longer seemed to be working.  I knew something needed to change, but I didn't know what it was.  While in Randolph, Vermont, in a sort of self-imposed retreat, I thought about how our society's push toward constant production and growth, on materialism and turning everything into a commodity leaves us all, especially the earth, depleted.  I saw myself swimming desperately against a strong current, and realized that I have been swimming hard against that current for years.  I believed if I stopped, I would get swept away and lose myself.  But, during that retreat in the mountains, I considered the idea of just getting out.  I don't need to give in to the current, nor do I need to keep fighting it.  It was time to leave it altogether.  However, leaving the current has left me in a very strange place.  I knew that it had become terribly urgent that I attend to things that nurture my soul as an individual, but, as I enter midlife, I also understood I needed to connect on a societal level.  How do I do this, if I am outside the current? I was in a dark and uncertain place. And here I have been ever since. 

As I contemplate inspiration, I see that I must go deeper.  Things are stirring, but my sight is clouded.  As an artist, I think sometimes it is necessary to live outside the current.  It offers a perspective that is unique, but necessary for those who continue to stay in the flow.  Perhaps it is a matter of adjusting my eyes to the new atmosphere.  It will take me a little time and my work may slow up a bit, but I think this is fueled by the long simmering kind of inspiration.  The vision will come and when it does, I hope it will offer a unique vision that serves society in a healing and transformative way.

DoAn

PS: I will be sharing my process of this spiritual exploration and how it relates to my art on my private blog: DoAn Art Studio.  If you are interested in supporting my journey and would like to follow my artistic development, please consider donating.  Monthly donations, in any amount, will grant you access to DoAn Art Studio blog.  Donations can be made by clicking on the image link below:

Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Finding Light in Dark

Photography Prints
I've been listening to Welcome Brigid by Katy Taylor. A collection of songs and prayers about Brigid and Mary.  It has helped me find a calm point during a chaotic time. 

As I write this today, it is Imbolc, the holiday that celebrates the goddess Brigid.  In ancient times, Brigid was important for she represented the return of the sun and warmth to the land.  Sheep begin lambing at this time and people attributed it to Brigit. 

Today, our lifestyles are less dependent on the timing of such things.  With the changing of the climate we are going through, it seems that the traditional time of celebrating Imbolc may need to change.  However, the spirit of the Brigid still has relevance in our modern lives.  We still have a need to honor wisdom, perfection, intelligence, creativity, poetic eloquence, healing, mystical knowledge and many of the other qualities the Brigid embodies.  Taking a moment this time a year to reflect on these qualities is one of the best ways to invite them into our lives.

Here is a poem by Lady Gregory, which was made into a song by Katy Taylor:


Poem to Brigit
It is what Brigit had a mind for
Lasting goodness that was not hidden
It is what Brigit had a mind for
Tending sheep and rising early
Hospitality toward good men
It is she keeps everyone
Who is in straits and in dangers
It is she puts down sicknesses
It is she quiets the voice of the waves
And the anger of the great sea
She is the queen of the south
She is the mother of the flocks
She is the Mary of the Gael
Happy Imbolc to everyone.  I wish that wisdom, healing and creativity finds a way through the dark to light your soul.

DoAn

Poem text: Lady Gregory from A Book of Saints and Wonders, c. 1972, Colin Smythe Ltd, UK—Irish stories, orig. pub. in 1906


Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
Donate now!  
DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Embracing Trickster as Teacher

Many will agree that life often throws us curve balls, but often the purpose is misunderstood.  Some of us feel as though it is personal, like the universe is out to get us.  Others might say it is a result of karma we have created, just cause and effect in action.  In any case, there is often a fair degree of judging of the situation.  I have come see life's curve balls as opportunities and as teaching moments. This comes after many many years of seeing life through a negative lens, of personalizing all obstacles as some kind of divine punishment.  Thinking this way prevented me from transcending the experience and growing.

About a month ago I experienced a moment of realization that confirmed my shift in view.  I was knitting a sleeve of a sweater, one that offered a huge challenge and required starting it over at least five times.  Finally I finished the sleeve only to discover that I had knitting the sleeve incorrectly and had to start the whole thing over again.  Surprisingly I didn't get mad, I wasn't even frustrated this time.  I sat back and looked at this sleeve as a symbol of my life, for in the last five years (and probably much longer) I have gone through a continual cycle of starting, moving forward, stopping, starting over, moving forward, stopping, starting over on and on.  Back in October I was in a stopping phase and starting to get fed up.  Why was this happening all the time? What was I missing that had me caught in this loop?

Then my grandmother became gravely ill.  My family gathered together to be with her as she died, only to find she recovered.  It was both a blessing and a curse.  She was ready to go.  Her life before had grown challenging as she is legally blind, mostly deaf and physically limited.  Her very independent life was shrinking rapidly.  I stayed with her for a time, helping her regain some sense of independence, while being nearby to assist in the things she could no longer manage on her own.  I expected this help I offered would be temporary, but as I spent more time with her,  I felt as though I was doing something very important.  I realized I wanted to continue to help her and be with her as she prepared for the inevitable.  It was a huge curve ball. 

I wondered what does this mean for my art? Suddenly my time is not my own. My strict schedule of working on my art and researching, my quiet time and alone time all went out the window.  How would I be able to create my art? A fellow artist, Helena Nelson Reed, suggested that this work as a caretaker was my creative work for the moment.  The Dark Being drawings and paintings may actually be a preparing for this period of time.  She had suggested some time ago that I explore the Trickster as a sacred teacher and she repeated this recommendation.  So I started to look at the role of Trickster in my life.

Trickster has been present in my life for quite a long time.  Curve balls are probably thrown by Trickster.  I understood Trickster as mischievous, a prankster, unorthodox, maybe a little crazy and sometimes mean. But Trickster as a sacred teacher is much more than an annoyance, from what I understand Trickster can be very powerful.   Trickster lives in the realm of transition, of what may or may not be, the border regions of life, death, and afterlife.  The term psychopomp can be applied to Trickster.  The caretaker who helps the person transition from life to death does the work of sacred Trickster. 

I started understand how Trickster was manifesting in my life.  Currently, as I took on the role of caretaker for my grandmother, but even before that in creating pet portrait sculptures in memoriam of beloved pets.  I looked back and realized how much I worked at living outside the norm, not accepting status quo, asking questions, pushing boundaries, etc.  This all was happening without my conscious awareness.  However, living the Trickster path without awareness meant that lessons come with a lot of difficulty.  Hence the repeating cycles of starting and starting over!

Now I am working on exploring the role of sacred Trickster and how to establish a better relationship.  My life is about to go through a major upheaval, yet again, but I understand that this is part of what Trickster asks and having not really listened before, I have to accept some level of discomfort for the time being.  When I don't listen to the lessons and instructions of Trickster, Trickster resorts to playing hardball and sometimes hardball means throwing curves.

One thing that Trickster has been asking of me for years is to focus my creative work as a spiritual path.  I have talked about this for some time and I have worked toward this steadily since 2004.  However, I was not committing fully to this, believing that my creative spiritual path was about the products I created.  Instead, I am realizing that the products are only the side results, while the true creative spiritual practice comes in the forging of the path itself.  For most artists, it is important to focus on a particular medium or type of art.  Some might move comfortable between a few different mediums, but even within those mediums there is a connection of style, expression or theme.  I struggled with being pulled in many directions and confusing that with being distracted and unfocused.  I tried to narrow down to two mediums, painting and sculpture. I tried to push fiber arts to a hobby, believing I should limit myself.  However, I was not listening to the spirit calling me and letting myself explore the path that was unfolding. I got hooked focusing on the products alone.  This became another factor in this unending loop of starting over.

During this time of caretaking, when my time is disrupted and focus is challenged, I will be exploring how Trickster can be a teacher and guide for me.  Not having the time I am used to for working on my art will allow me to experiment more. I can focus on the act of creating and not dwell so much on the products for a time.  Breaking structure to allow new insights in is another teaching method of Trickster.  I am taking a deep breath and preparing for a lot of work and rework ahead.

DoAn
Help in the creation of art, please consider donating! Just click on the link below:
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DoAn Art is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of DoAn Art must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
 
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All artwork, photos and text © Copyright 2005-2012 DoAn Art (Antony Galbraith) unless indicated otherwise. All Rights Reserved. Any downloading, copying or use of images on this website is strictly prohibited without express written consent by Antony Galbraith.

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