In autumn 1999, I visited the I.T dept to inquire about the Y2K bug.
At that time I was working as a graphic designer/illustrator for a large corporation and therefore much of my job was working on a Mac. A Power Mac G4 it was in those days.
Anyways when I got to the room saw it was filled with people whom I had never seen before.
They were all programmers/coders, of some sort. Nerds of some form or another.
After my request, they basically told me that there was nothing to worry about.
They also told that Apple had already thought about this problem ahead of time. Phew!
I ended up visiting this I.T department more and more because these guys had a great sense of humor, whereas the graphic guys I worked along side, did not.
As time went by I learned more of what their job entailed and I was pretty much blown away by their skills, their knowledge, and the effort it took for them to do what they do to keep the whole computer network running.
By entering into their world, a world I never would have gone into otherwise. My view of the world changed.
A closed window had now been opened.
However, I was not persuaded to take up programing 😉
I had the soul of an artist then, and I have the soul of an artist now 😌
When I left that job, to pursue a new life as an artist, I made sure I kept in touch with some of the IT guys because I really valued their friendship.
As our friendship grew, so did our respect for each other. One in particular became very interested in how I went about creating a painting. And, just as I had experienced, when I learned of his unique skills, he in turn was blown away by what I do and how I go about creating a piece of art.
" I am so sorry Arthur, I honestly never realized how much time and effort lies behind your work. You make it look so easy, I thought you just copied it from something." he said
He was basically telling me that he thought I created my art out of thin air.
In one sense I understand why he thought that because indeed, the art world is full of artists who literally steal or copy another artist´s work, and then claim it as their own. Plagiarism in all its forms is a problem for the modern world and is extremely difficult to stop. (let´s hope blockchain technology can help with this)
The art world is rife with stealing and copying today, and not only that, the despicable and dishonorable practice has almost become accepted.
In fact, this almost convinced me to give up for it has made the choice to live as an artist harder than ever.
Why should an artist bother with all the effort it takes to bring a creation into the world when they know it will only be copied or stolen in a few seconds?
Only about 10 artists in the world are wealthy. The vast majority struggle juggling their lives with part-time work hopping from one job to another, just to pay the bills.
For Steemians who are not coders, programmers or developers, I guess it is not so easy to see the incredible effort it must take to create a media platform such as Steemit, or a program such as Photoshop, or a game such as Donkeykong (sorry I am showing my age here).
And so perhaps it is all too easy for us "non coders" to take it for granted.
When in fact, the easier a program/game/platform, is to use, you can be sure a great deal of time and effort went into making it.
And so it is with making a "real true" piece of art.
And so in this post, it is my intention to reveal what is behind the making of this relatively small picture that I painted in 2015 - (that I have been using details from in this post )
See the full painting below:
I named the painting: Duality of the Human Spirit
The size of the painting is 32cm wide and 44cm in length
(for those still working in inches - 13 x 17 inches)
I used a combination of acrylics and watercolors and the surface I painted on is stretched paper.
Hmm, I just realized perhaps some people may not know what "stretched paper" is?
Basically it is normal cartridge paper but slightly thicker. You cut the paper to the size you want, and then you soak it in warm water until the paper is saturated. Then you place the wet paper onto a wooden board, (this would be your working board) and press out all the air bubbles. Then you fix the paper down down using Gum tape - using the wet paper itself to wet the gum tape. It sounds easy but this took me many times to be able to get it so that there was no air bubbles. After I wrote this I decided to do a photo montage to give some idea of how this looks - see below
The reason why artists do this, is to simply stop the paper from bubbling up when you paint on it. In a sense, the bubbles are already taken out. This is vital if your work is detailed, like mine is. Any serious art collector knows this stuff and so any artist who does not do this tends to be seen as an amateur by collectors.
OK so now that we have our paper stretched we just wait a day for it to dry.
Ok what next?
Now our aper is dry and ready do draw our the image.
But what exactly are we going to put on there?
Yes, that´s the $64,000 question.
Where does the image come from
Well let me tell you the story behind this image:
I was having a beer with a good friend of mine at the local bar here in my village, here in Norway. He is actually a highly respected psychiatrist in this country and so, to say I have learned some amazing shit from him, would be huge understatement.
Anyway we were having a conversation about the differences between Norwegian and English society (with me originally coming from the UK.) The conversation became a little intense until finally I said something like: -
"Look, you either agree with me or you dont"
With that, my friend put down his beer and said: "Hmm, you know Arthur, I begin to wonder if the society in the UK is somewhat black & white."
At that point he took out a piece of paper from his pocket and crudely drew a picture of the Yin & Yang symbol.
Actually this broke the tension because we both laughed at his terrible drawing skills.
He said: "Arthur do you know what this symbol means?
Well I am ashamed to say that I did not. I knew the symbol well but I realized at that point that I had no idea. I guess I just had not gotten around to reading about it. It was not so easy to google back in those days -15 years ago, we did not have the mobile tech we do now.
"Arthur it is said that this symbol is about 3000 years old. That means it was created 1000 years before the birth of Jesus" He said.
"OK, yeah so" I replied
"You see those dots. Well put crudely, it means that in everything that appears white, there will always be a little bit of black. And in everything that appears black, there will always be a little bit of white.
Basically Arthur, nothing is ever only black and white. You see Arthur a black and white world is a fundamentalist world. It is either right or wrong. You are either with me or against me. It is either my way or the high way. No discussion. No diplomacy. My way or no way. This was how the Nazi regime was ruled. Norwegians know this well because Norway was occupied under WW2. Life is full of grey areas Arthur and you as an artist should know that it is also full of wonderful colors. This is why in Norwegian society there are very few arguments and only discussions."
I can remember it like it was yesterday, and it had a profound affect upon me.
Nine years later ...I was out walking in the mountains to find a lake known
locally as "the secret lake"
The picture below was on this is on the very day.
Once you get higher up you reach a hidden valley which is dense with trees. Once there you basically follow the river.
It was a bit of a climb and a struggle, but eventually I came out into a clearing and there it was. The secret lake.
A truly wonderful spot. And I had it all to myself.
The water here is said to be full of minerals and nutrients and so the first thing I did was take a drink from the lake. See below
While I was at the lake I had a little swim and then I sat down and ate some lunch. While I sat there I began throwing stones into the lake, as if I was kid again.
But then, just was I was to throw a stone, I noticed something very unique about the markings on the stone.
Can you see what I mean? See below
This is no bullshit. This is a real stone. And I still have it to this day.
OK back to the painting.
As you can probably imagine, as I walked back I remembered the conversation with my good friend and I began to wonder about how I could re-create the meaning of what I had learned as well as the amazing sensation I was feeling of this wonderful day.
The first thing I did when I came back home was to start sketching.
OK so here I decided the easiest way to show the process is to list my thoughts and then tell of symbolic image related to them:
Spiritual awakening/enlightening - the woman being lit by a warm light
A person can change - see frog - in many cultures the frog represents change and cleansing of spirit.
Fear, and mankind´s perception of it - how the world is surrounded by its negativity because of naivety and lack of knowledge - see the beetle weaving its negativity around the world.
Our selves as having a duality to our nature - a dark side, a light side and everything in between. But we always have a choice. We can choose to see the light and add to it. Or we can choose to see darkness and add to that - the woman looking a flower made of light and blowing onto it thus adding to the light.
It is said there are four stages to spiritual awakening - can you count how many wooden beams there are?
This is more difficult to get I know, but the window meaning is surely obvious
And of course, I wanted to incorporate the Yin & Yang symbol - surely you can see that now!
Look again at the painting below and see if you see it in a different way ?
Now that I have my theme, all my thoughts and ideas, the symbolism, the feeling /mood within me from with my real-life experience of the nature and the experience with my friend. All I need to do now is one more thing.
I just need to phone the model agency to see when one can come and pose for me.
And then the long process of drawing out a design and then the actual painting of course.
And so there you have it.
Simple as that. One of my smaller paintings explained.
Perhaps I will do another blog another time about how I go about making a big painting.
My usual sized paintings are well over a meter.
Thank you for taking time to read and than you for visiting my blog.
All art work and photographs are my own.