Red wine as the passion of spring

 

Wine and coffee
Wine and coffee

 

Spring.

Time of renewal. New energies coming in. New ideas. Future plans are brewing.

It’s been long time since i have posted but i do not feel apologetic about it. It is all a question of timing.

Then of course, there is this Facebook thing. Having considerable presence on facebook takes away the desire to write for your own blog.

Especially when your own blog has no audience. Of course there are the seo experts that will offer you all sorts of advise on how to increase your blog’s audience but  I have this feeling that it should come naturaly. Maybe I am naive but hey, I am an artist. What is an artist if not a naive who belives the world is a magical place?

Anyways, i feel like writing an update, so here it is.

Winter was quite cold this year and it made everything kind of retreat inside. Cold itself is not a problem of course but since my studio is still not functional, I had to rely on the sketching in cafe.  Working in cafes has become my second nature by now. It is my daily exercise.
Like every obsession or devotion, after a while it becomes a habit that is hard to give up.
In this case, I believe it is a good habit so there is no need to give it up.
Over the years, what started as a simple observation has slowly mutated into something that goes beyond the appearance with the subconscious getting to play a larger part in the final outcome.  Some of those ideas have already manifested in some of the oil paintings i did earlier but
once the studio will be more functional I hope to be able to devote more time in my studio.

With the approach of the summer, there are plans for traveling to do some landscape painting in the beautiful Carpathian mountains of Transylvania ,Romania.

Carpathian mountains
Carpathian mountains

 

I will of course keep you posted as the plans will become reality

Please marketers, do not turn social media into yet another mall

Jesus cleansing of the temple
Jesus cleansing of the temple

 

Social media marketing is a contradiction in terms.

Why? Well, for the simple reason that introducing money into what supposed to be an unsolicited, free zone of interaction between friends and people who have something in mutual to share with each other, breaks the trust that is the basis of free communication .
In the world saturated with an obsession for profit almost at any cost it is kind of an absurd that it is not self evident that marketing and selling stuff should not be imposed on our relationships with our friends and closed ones.
Apparently the culture of consumerism has reached now such proportions that we started loosing sight of the sacredness of this trust. Without this sacred trust the whole fabric of interest free association and interaction with friends is breaking apart and impoverishes all involved.
Social media revolution began when people realized that they can connect to each other independently trough all these platforms that have offered all kinds of connectivity possibilities, like sharing ideas, pictures, talking to distant friends and relatives.
Besides writing emails, social platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit allowed people to express themselves with the multimedia options and create all kinds of grouping possibilities according to their preferences. The whole idea of being able of making new connections trough friends of friends and finding new friends based on mutual interests and hobbies opened up the window to a whole new universe of possibilities where people could suddenly feel less isolated.
The old world in which you were stuck for life in old circles depending on your localities has been suddenly radically altered and new patterns of association have opened up.
Imagine you are a young single woman or guy, open to romantic interaction. Somewhere in the back of your mind you know that this lovely new contact, who is a friend of your trusted friend could be a potential date. After while you realize that the real reason they have ask for your online friendship is because they see you as a potential client for whatever they have to sell, whatever it is and you are free to insert your own personal experience. Wouldn’t you feel disappointed and let down? Wouldn’t you feel a breach of trust?
Now, of course I am not talking about sharing our experiences and expertise with our friends and relatives which could be called natural marketing. If you are my friend and you are a lawyer, of course I would value your expert advice in your field as you could naturally rely on my contribution of my own field of expertise. This natural sharing of gifts is part of our human generosity and it goes back to the dawn of humanity.
As an artist, I share freely the images of my art, as well as ideas and feelings. There is a possibility that someone will like my image enough to want to buy the original which has happened several times in my online activity. This is great and it’s a great pleasure to be able to make a free non coercive transaction where goods and money change hands. I have a used car in good condition that I want to sell and I would naturally let the friends in my network, know before I sell to complete stranger. It could be argued that this is exactly what social media marketing is and therefore I am wrong to criticize it.But honestly, I do not think so. There is a big difference in attitude and intent between the two.
Making monetary interactions with your friends is natural and feels wholesome since there is an element of gifting when you allow me to buy something of value from you, be it your expertise, your book, painting or pair of shoes you wore only once.
Recently I asked a friend to bring me cigars from another country cause where I live they are not available. There was a monetary transaction involved but it has nothing to do with selling or marketing. Social media gurus and marketers incourage their followers to engage in selling their stuff trough the circle of their trusted friends, online and elsewhere which weakens the sacred bond built on trust.
Many years ago when I first came to live in US a friend introduced me to a multimarketing company called Amway, selling at the time mostly cleaning products. I had no idea what is multilevel marketing, selling nor was I aware to what extend the American way of life is based on the idea of selling. I thought it would be a great part time income supplement and invited all of my friends in Boston to join .It was a lot of fun cause non of us was really into selling and most of the friends where academicians who worked or studied in one of the many academic institutions of the greater Boston area. Soon of course I have ran out of friends and then came the challenge how to approach complete strangers . It was pre Internet days and the big gurus who were boasting at rallies with their five figure incomes incouraged us to turn our relatives and friends into customers and if we ran out of friends, then make new ones. I have found myself suddenly looking at people I’ve met in parties or social gatherings as a potential customers of sell man in my marketing organization. It felt awful. Instead of trying to make friends without any incentive other then the friendship itself I found myself agonized about different schemes of approaching people without making them immediately aware of the fact that I want to sell them Amway.
I think I have lost many potential friends at that time.
I have no doubt that in today’s rallies those high income gurus incourage their followers to join social networks and built followers to recruit them into their marketing schemes.
Again. I am not against marketing or selling and buying. But please, dear marketers, leave the social media free of oblique selling, using our networks of friends and turning the great invention of the Internet into yet another great mall.

Jasmin with friends

Jasmin
Jasmin with friends

 

Part of my daily sketching practice involves interaction with people around me.
Sometimes the people involved notice they are being drawn , curious about the outcome they come up timidly asking permission to have a peek.

Other times people just curious about the creative process as it happens live and ask permission to watch over the shoulder.
As a n art teacher for many years, it is usually not a problem for me and in fact, I am actually enjoying the showmanship and the performance.

This is something that every cityscaping, street or pleinair artist is well familiar with and in fact, the ability to tolerate and even like the interaction with audience is part of being a successful outdoor artist.
I have some colleagues, friends who would never be caught dead doing something so intencely exposure intensive as painting outdoors or having to interact with live audience. For them the creative process is a deeply internal and personal work and being alone in the privacy of the studio is a must. I guess it is a question of where on the scale of the extrovert-introvert continuum you find yourself.
Personally I find myself leaning towards the extrovert,a bit exhibitionistic side.

This specific digital drawing I was drawing yesterday, attracted a very nice tourist couple from the beautiful medieval city of Bruges.

Bruges
Bruges

 

We had a lovely conversation during which the table which I was drawing has left, so another inevitable consequence of communicating with people while you creating outdoors is allwing yourself to be interrupted once in while. Since it doesn’t happen very useful often I am quite open for this kind of interruption where I believe that having great conversations with complete strangers and perhaps making some new friends is as much important as the creative process.

An upcoming exhibit of cafe sketches in MaiMano cafe in heart of Budapest

 

Hanging
Hanging on

I was offered an exhibit in my favorite cafe MaiMano at the heart of Budapest.
The date is not set yet but I am thinking about the beginning of June as a good time when the temperatures are very pleasant and there is a constant flow of people including many tourists.
The exhibit will include mainly my watercolor sketches done in this lovely cafe, which is in my opinion a very appropriate setting for them.
I am still didn’t give up on the hope to find a decent gallery somewhere in Europe but meanwhile with every passing day I can feel how my desire to deal with the hustle of working trough intermediary is diminishing quit e significantly.
Ever since the Internet , the idea of having a gallery which in best case has about two weeks in two years to show your work is totally out of sync with the current reality in which you can showcase your work on a daily basis which I actually doing. For me doing art is before anything else is a process in which the creative flow is not limited to studio work but has a much wider significance in quick response to many life situations.
On my daily rout one for example, going into the city by tram, I meet people in this limbo situation between station between stations, most staring vacantly into the space absorbed with their inner thoughts, in different body positions. Being able to make quick sketches with an iPhone app is a great advantage that besides sharpening my observation of the essentials of the body movements and perfecting my ability to register in a glance the essence of a gesture is also at the same time gives me some insights into inner state of people observed.
People in a state of suspension, will be probably the topic of my next exhibition.
Yesterday, I have come back to my usual watercolor sketching in the cafe after some time spending with digital experimentation with a new iPad Pro. Together with the apple pen, they give a very nice feeling of a decent approximation of a real sketching.
As I have written before

, digital art is not a replacement of the real thing but it has some advantages to ordinary painting and sketching by adding some dimensions which real life painting still cannot do. Working with separated layers, allowing mixing different feels like water color effects together with oil like smears. Working with light instead of the additive process of mixing pigments on a canvass adds a deeper understanding of luminosity and chroma.
Changing backgrounds is a breeze with digital medium which is another great advantage in creating scenes that are not limited to what is given in front of the eyes.
Another and perhaps the biggest advantage of digital creations is the deepening of the understanding of the power of the image. Because of the ephemeral nature of the medium it has no real substance out side of the computer screen and that makes the reality of the image much more pronounced.
This issue of reality of the digital image deserves a whole post to itself so I will not go deeper into right now.
For now all wanted really is to announce the news about the upcoming exhibit of my cafe sketches to be held at MaiMano cafe in the heart of Budapest.

Quick digital sketches on the tram in Budapest

Digital sketching keeps captivating my attention.
Recently I have discovered this wonderful easy to use application for iPhone called Procreate which so far is the best app that allows for very quick doodling in a very simple and easy way.
The public transportation in Budapest is very efficient and convenient and even on occasions when its very crowded it is still comfortable enough to steal few glances without drawing any attention. This is actually a very important key element in doing these sketches. I found that people usually do not like to be observed and if they catch you looking at them, they usually change their position or can move away, annoyed.
There are about five station from my home in Buda to the centre of the city which I visit quite frequently and it is a great opportunity for some quick sketches on my smart phone.
Here are some recent quick sketches of people between the stations.
These are gesture drawings that leave no room for details so it’s an excellent way to practice capturing the essence of the movement.

I have started the practice of quick digital sketches almost from the very beginning of the appearance of the smart phones and with time I feel more and more comfortable with the medium. Here are some ideas on the use of digital media as opposed to “real” painting.

Inspiration, role it plays in re-enchantment of the Arts

Inspiration plays an important role in re- enchatment of the Arts.

 

In writing this post, I am using few presupposed and self evident truths about the current state of the Arts.

One, is the need for re-enchantment of the Art.

I have taken this term from Suzi Gablik’s book by the same name where she criticises some of the basic tenets of the Modernist movement that led directly to much of the confusion left by the Postmodernism. Part of this confusion left the artist without a philosophical background needed to establish a basis for relevant correspondences between the personal and the universal principles of creation. At the same time this lack of philosophical support opened a gap in communication between the artist and his audience.

Second, is the need for Inspiration as vital source of revitalization of the current confused condition of the Art. The extreme relativism of the late Post-modernism has left a scorched field where the traditional values of excellence have been replaced by purely personal, anecdotal and many times accidental views that left the Art without it’s Muse .

Inspiration according to full definition of Merriam- Webster dictionary is: “a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation “In other words, an inspired person is one who is touched by his Spirit. That sacred part of his being that communicated the feeling of the Devine.This kind of definition tends toward somewhat religious interpretation which I believe tend to distort the real meaning of Inspiration as a direct heart felt feeling that is totally natural to all of humankind and not only to artists.

I have many sources of Inspiration. 

Some come from my daily observations of life around me. Be it an interesting form of simple objects that can turn into a still-life drawing,like this Moroccan tea pot done with silverpoint technique.

Moroccan tea pot
silverpoint drawing of Moroccan tea pot

 

Someone’s face that draws me to paint a portrait,

 

Daniel the gardener
Daniel the devoted gardener

 

a corner of a street that becomes a cityscape,

city scape
Cityscape, Work in progress

 

landscapes

 

landscape of rhythm
rhythmic landscape

 

 

Then of course there are the great masters of Art from all periods in Art history.
When I was still a student in the Avni Institute of Art in Tel Aviv, I did a small scale study of The Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus by Peter Paul Rubens.

after rubens
after Rubens

 

In the beginning of my artistic development I was enchanted by the magic of Jan Vermeer’s intimate interiors with their delicate balance of composition and the luminosity of his colors.
Here is a composition that was influenced by the Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

vermeer in middle east
Vermeer in Middle East

 

Another great influence on my development as an artist is a more contemporary American Andrew Wyeth who’s hunting and mystical connection with landscapes of rural Maine and Pennsylvania resonates strongly with my own view of Nature. Wyeth’s choice of the tempera medium which requires contemplation and slow visual meditation on the subject matter, invites from the viewer equally slow contemplative viewing. In today’s hasty world it is in itself a huge accomplishment.

church in ruins
Church in ruins

 

With time, my themes have varied and mutated according to context, time and places I have found myself.

At certain point I have found that many of my themes tend to converge into one recurring theme that has accompanied my creative work and that is the theme of the cafe.

 

I have found that besides a great opportunity to exercise my powers of observation, this theme of the cafe, allows me to combine all other themes in a very simple, elegant way where the spontaneous interaction of all the forms untie to create a unified and sometimes totally unexpected message.

The theme of the cafe is enough in itself and need no other justifications for painting it but as it happens, it has the power to combine a wide variety of objects and themes that seamlessly fuse into each other allowing the mundane everyday objects to interact and create a whole new possibilities for flowing in different artistic directions.

Let’s say, a couple sitting around a table, with a dog playing at their feet, with some messy still-life on the table, with cups of coffee and perhaps some food, in the background. I can paste any landscape or cityscape that doesn’t even have to be in the original composition. This way I can eliminate accidental architecture or replace any other object that feels more meaningful and more appropriate for the final purpose .

In this age of photoshop aid with the cut and paste ability, I can substitute any and all of the components to create a more meaningful and more interesting composition then the original conception.

All these themes and objects, appearing in the context of a cycle of creativity that is inspired by a wheel of The Five Elements taken from the Chinese Wu Xing theory.
On this wheel of creativity taken from the Chinese philosophy of Dao i will write later in a different post

 

Finding true place and balance between Divine Providence and Luck

Tomorrow night is a New Year evening and it is a great time for some retrospective general account of what happened in 2015.

I think that without exaggerating much, it was an amazing year marking a very dramatic turning point in my life and I believe in my art as well.

The summer of 2014 was a culminating point for my decision to sell my apartment in Tel Aviv and move to live in Budapest. Since it is a general bird view account, I will not enter into the specific details of all the reasons for making such a drastic decision.

Perhaps mentioning just a few will be enough to give some background and perspective.

Feeling fed up with living in a region with constant high level of violence and wars was one.
The idea of having to put up with an endless cycles of aggression coming from one side with a following retribution from another side has reached it’s limit in innermost being.Standing in front of my easel in my studio in Tel Aviv , trying to concentrate on making art while the sirens warning of a missile attack coming from the south, leaving only few minutes to run for shelter, broke trough my denials related to the need for the constant sacrifice demanded by living in such a place.
Once the denials have come up to the surface it become clearer that along with the constant violence there comes a heavy price tag based on constant reliance on the fight and flight mechanism of the reptilian brain. The constant concern about the need for security in the region ridden with violence, do not leave much place for activating the more humane portion of the  limbic brain that is needed for cultivating imagination, inspiration and all other requirements for making art that comes from inner peace of mind.

Moving away from Middle East, I have embarked on a few months of exploration of an alternative place, finding myself in the beautiful region of lake Como in northern Italy, sketching outdoors , soaking my eyes in the majestic beauty of the mountains with all the little lovely villages spread around the lake like little gems, with endless vistas for great compositions.

 

departing from Bellagio to Varenna on Lake Como.

on the ferry to Varenna
Bellagio

After spending some time in the beautiful village of Varenna, I have realised that it was too touristic for me as place to spend the rest of my life and decided to move on with my search for that place that  is sitting on a historic power point, allowing convergence of natural beauty with rich cultural life . With all due respect for picturesque little villages such as Varenna, they usually luck the depth of a bustling centre with rich cultural life with enough chaos to allow for fermentation of art that is more then depicting natural beauty.
The fact that I have found such convergence in Budapest was due to combination of pure luck with a dash of Divine Providence.
I make a distinction between the two even though they might seem to be the same .
In my opinion, we encounter luck when we able to cultivate an attitude of courtship towards Divine Providence.
As an artist I believe that it is not much different from an attitude of a constant openness for the appearance of the Muse.

Inspiration comes when we keep ourselves on alert for the magic in everyday life.
When life is a flow of little moments of wonder and gratitude for the what seems to be the obvious but with a deeper introspection are filled with grandeur and awe.
My meeting with Eva was a moment of magic that has determined the direction of the flow to the region of my birth place and early childhood.
In spite of the fact that I was born on the border of Hungary in the Carpathian region of west Ukraine and the fact that my childhood years were influenced very much by the Hungarian culture, Budapest was not an obvious choice from the beginning if my journey.
It was only after I met Eva that it became clear that everything what I was looking for in a place to live could be found in a place like Budapest. Amazing natural beauty, rich cultural life, deep historical roots and people with natural warmth who’s language I could understand because of my own heritage and childhood roots.
With Eva’s appearance in my life, the obviousness of the choice of Budapest has become very clear in spite of the fact that no place on Earth today can offer everything and no place is a complete paradise as we live in times of great turmoil and constant strife that comes with the transitioning from the dying World order with obsolete ideas of control into a New Era of dynamic equilibrium required to balance the new principles of sustainability with an opening towards a new vision of Earth as a living Gaia full of magic and love.
With the excitement of finding my true mate, my true place came some personal health issues that required my opening to the fragility of life and the need to balance the great changes and find a pace of living that is much calmer and restful .
At the same time the exciting journey of exploration focusing on the new patterns of life have opened new possibilities that have started to appear in my art with a better flow of creativity that comes when inspiration meets right time with right place.

I am still in a process of transition and there are many old patterns that are still hard to get rid of, especially those that are connected to the deep seated fears connected to the flight and fight reptilian brain patterns,  but it is becoming clearer that the new year that starts tomorrow night will be a year of many new beginnings that will deepen and stabilise the transition into the new life.
Happy New Year .

Sketching in cafes after the Paris terror attack

 

About a year ago I have escaped or so I thought,the war zone of Middle East only to find that terrorism doesn’t confine itself to one region anymore.
As I was sketching this French couple in the cozy atmosphere of my regular place, I had some thoughts on how creativity and art are influenced by hard times and wars.

the French couple
the French couple

 

Maybe they came for the weekend to escape the aftershock of the Paris terror attack two weeks ago.

The fact that cafes have become a target for terrorists attacks, gives my sketching in the cafes a sort of additional dimension of danger almost as being in a front line. I am joking of course but still, the fact that popular and crowded places have turned into a possible target all over the world, creates a heightened sense of tension adding a feel of urgency and danger to otherwise a very benign activity.

My approach to working in cafes as a meeting ground for a diverse and sometimes absurd happening representing the fragmented World in which content got badly skewed out of it’s context got an additional boost from the fact that terrorists find the cafe a legitimate target for their violence.

I find solace in the fact that many artist in the past have created their best work during times of extreme tension and war. One of such artists is Jan Vermeer of Delft who created his masterful works during one of the worst periods in Dutch history, following the Franco-Dutch war.

geographer
The Geographer

 

It is true that Vermeer was not oblivious to the suffering and destruction around him caused by extreme economic hardships and has died quite suddenly after a short illness but the fact remains that some of the greatest art was produced during such an extreme circumstances, gives some strength and hope that it is possible to create beauty even in the middle of chaos and hardship.

Commission Art as opposed to free independent Art

commission art watercolour portrait
tabor
Tibor

I have been doing commission art for many years now and it has always been  a concern of mine wether it has the same validity as the art that is done with an artists free will .
Today’s post is about the difference between working on your own free concepts as opposed to doing a commissioned work.

The whole concept of working without a commission as a free agent I think is relatively a very new thing and historically,art was created mainly in a context of some sort of a commission. Think of all the great work of the masters of the past. The Night Watch by Rembrandt,

The Night Watch by Rembrandt
The Night Watch by Rembrandt

 

 

The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo,

The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo
The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo

 

or The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci..

thelastsupper
The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

There is of course numerous other great examples with all their great stories of saintly patrons, greedy artists and the history of the commissioned works that withstood the ravages of time.
No doubt, independent works of art have appeared from the earliest of times and were always part of many artists free expressions but it was not until the Romanticist period that the arts gained full freedom to pursue their true unique vision based on individual inspiration emphasising originality and innovations opposed to the more socially oriented Classicist periods.
In a way, doing a work in consideration of a clients demand as in a commissioned portrait for example is somewhat contradictory to the concept of an independent work of art that obeys no prescribed rules of conventions and the real challenge is finding the middle path between the two approaches.
In my own commissioned work I always try to emphasise the need for greatest amount of freedom for individual interpretation related to style and composition. Many times there is a definite contradiction between the conception of the client and that of the artist, creating a tension that can result in breach of trust and aborted work.
To avoid such result there is an absolute need to negotiate right from the beginning the terms and conditions, explaining the limits of the expectations and demands of a client that many times believe that by commissioning a work they have bought the right to control the result. Obviously, the paying client does have a right to a certain amount of intervention but it has to be pointed out right from the beginning that since the original idea for the commission came from the impulse to have a work of a certain artist’s style, this fact must be respected and be allowed to come to full expression, accepting a certain amount of deviation from the clients vision.
Ideally, an end result of a  commissioned work  should be something that gives both sides a feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment of both the client and the artists vision.

 

 

The Sound of Form

 



fullswingenergy
full swing energy


Sketching with live music has become a practice I enjoy tremendously.

My recent exhibit at If Cafe in Budapest included many works that were done during live jazz sessions . Sketching with the music allowing the eye and the hand to flow with rhythm ha s evolved from simple attempt to compensate for the fact that in many occasions it is not really possible to dance and move the body in a concert situations.

This is really a pity, especially when it comes to energetic music that makes it unbearable to sit motionlessly and just watch. Tapping along with the rhythm is just not enough.

The practice of sketching with live music requires letting go of making nice art and concentrating on the flow and taping into the general energy created by the music itself, expressions of the musicians, the general feel of the place and subtle suggestions generated by the interactions between the formal values of the music itself and what I came to call the sound of form. The sound of form is the sound you hear with your eyes, I know it may sound absurd as we usually associate hearing with ears but what I am referring to is closely associated with chromesthesia which is a specific form synesthesia.

drummer
the drummer

It takes some practise to listen to objects with your eyes and of course I could simply use the term observation or even contemplation but it is all of that and a little more.

pianomagic
piano magic

Maybe, active contemplation is the appropriate concept here that has a meditative quality about it. The act of drawing, painting from observation is the sure way to develop the sense of hearing with our eyes. There are basically two ways to practice active contemplation trough the art of painting. One is the traditional way associated with the classical approach to drawing using the familiar ways of measuring proportions angles evolving the use of linear perspective. The other is the more intuitive, direct approach advocated by the great art teacher Kimon Nicolaides in his famous book laid out in “ The Natural Way To Draw.”

By mastering the art of gesture drawing one can quickly understand what I mean by the Sound of Form.

quartet
quartet
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