Friday, August 31, 2012

Martin Stynes, An Artist to Know

Please check out my friend Martin Stynes new website.  It is also now listed in my column of artists to the right.  Martin is a wonderful generous spirit who resides in Manchester, England.  He was born in Ireland, and has the soul of an Irish poet.  He has work on exhibit at the Morean Art Center in St. Petersburg at present.  I encourage you to get to know him.  In doing this blog and in visiting art shows, galleries, and exhibits I have met many wonderful artists.  It enriches my world and I know it will enrich yours as well.  Our world is full of many helps bridge all the gaps.  At any time if you want to recommend an artist for me to check out to highlight, please feel free to do so.  You can do so on post with the blog or directly through  I can think of fewer things that can make our world better and a bit smaller than to build a network of artist!

My Friend Martin Stynes                                                                             Manchester, England

“To the critic, art is a noun. To the artist, art is a verb.”
The Difference of Art and Craft

Wonderful craftsmen throwing a pot  photo by elizabeth gordon

One of my pots that I sculpted and fired raku style

A craftsmen of excellence in the Asheville area

a high relief sculpture pot with varied texture and raku

two photo's of high relief collage using a craft

taking a pottery beyond craft

These two photos show an ink printing process developed by my teacher Kathy and myself.  In my mind this is taking pottery beyond craft.  The image is my Mother in her twenties and her love of biology

Here I am learning the art of glass fusion, but once again treating it like collage.
I have other ideas about how to bring glass fusion in to my fine art

Craftsmen showing the skill of trimming a pot

One of  my experimental and creative raku sculpture 

Here I am working with printing on alternative surfaces

As a fine artist I struggle to explain the difference between craft and fine art, especially, when I am taking craft classes and surrounded by craftsmen.  What I realized is craftsmen can perfect their craft, they can be creative in shape or form, create a new glaze, or fuse glass a little differently, or weave a basket with a new skill....but there is where it ends...the vision to take it beyond to another level that is the insight of the creative fine artist.  This quote by Bayles says it far better than I can.  I study crafts, take classes, but the end is always to take it back to my own art and expand it or deconstruct it to something else.

“The difference between art and craft lies not in the tools you hold in your hands, but in the mental set that guides them. For the artisan, craft is an end in itself. For you, the artist, craft is the vehicle for expressing your vision. Craft is the visible edge of art.” from David Bayles Art and Fear

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Art and Fear/Readings from the book Continued

This reading I truly love because it gave me insight in to working with my art in a way I had not perceived before.  It was stunning how much sense it made and I had never thought of it! Your art is a self journal of your life and piece does not end, cut off from the next makes sense it is a learns and takes the next step, even it is unconscious.

google image

 “What you need to know about the next piece is contained in the last piece. The place to learn about your materials is in the last use of your materials. The place to learn about your execution is in your execution Put simply, your work is your guide: a complete, comprehensive, limitless reference book on your work.”
More on Art and Fear
The more I read of Bayle's work the more I want to share with you.  It rings so true and insightful.  I hope you will find as helpful as I have.  It is funny, I think that book sits at home on a shelf somewhere, but I had to come North hundreds of miles in the mountains to rediscover a book I had shelved away.  There is the saying when the student is ready, the teacher seems so.
Through the years attending outdoor shows and gallery shows I have seen artists cling to what has been successful those insuring they could not grow or move on.  Art is a flow...I suppose all life and learning is such...we must ride the waves like a surfer on the crest of a wave as we hit the top then it subsides and we must get ready to ride the next wave.  The section below is a quote from the book Art and Fear.

from google image

 “To require perfection is to invite paralysis. The pattern is predictable: as you see error in what you have done, you steer your work toward what you imagine you can do perfectly. You cling ever more tightly to what you already know you can do – away from risk and exploration, and possibly further from the work of your heart. You find reasons to procrastinate, since tonot work is to not make mistakes.”
“Artmaking involves skills that can be learned. . . In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive. . . Even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.” David Bayles, Art and Fear

This is a wonderful book by David Bayles.  I highly recommend it to artists and aspiring artist for we all must come to terms with ourselves in the making of art.  It is an expression of our being, of our experiences and our perceptions.  It is the confidence which we put in ourselves that allows us to express our intent clearly...we must believe in and trust our ideas and the ability to communicate them in our own way.  

Elizabeth Gordon at Dali Museum with Surrealistic Found Object Sculpture
photo by Ann Suggs

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Overcoming and Art

“Something about making art has to do with overcoming

 things, giving us a clear

 opportunity for doing things in ways we have always known 

we should do them.” 

― David Bayles

Photo taken by Elizabeth Gordon   San Miguel De Allende

‘I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.’
— John Cage

John Cage was a creative, innovative master of music. He was one of the original Black Mountain School of Arts in the Blue Ridge.  Black Mountain School was in the 1940-1950's was filled with artists who would later become famous on the national and international scene. 

Founded in 1933 by John Andrew RiceTheodore Dreier, and other former faculty members of Rollins College, Black Mountain was experimental by nature and committed to an interdisciplinary approach, attracting a faculty that included many of America's leading visual artists, composers, poets, and designers, like Buckminster Fuller, who invented the geodesic dome.

Operating in a relatively isolated rural location with little budget, Black Mountain College inculcated an informal and collaborative spirit and over its lifetime attracted a venerable roster of instructors. Some of the innovations, relationships, and unexpected connections formed at Black Mountain would prove to have a lasting influence on the postwar American art scene, high culture, and eventually pop culture.[citation needed] Buckminster Fuller met student Kenneth Snelson at Black Mountain, and the result was the first geodesic dome(improvised out of slats in the school's back yard); Merce Cunningham formed his dance company; and John Cage staged his firsthappening[3] (the term itself is traceable to Cage's student Allan Kaprow, who applied it later to such events).
Not a haphazardly conceived venture, Black Mountain College was a consciously directed liberal arts school that grew out of theprogressive education movement.  Source, Wikipedia, Black Mountain School of Arts

I went to a University that was at the beginning of its creation.  University of South Florida was  patterned after UCLA to be innovative and progressive.  Many professors and speakers are drawn to a new university and mine was no exception.  I had the wonderful privilege to have many innovative professors and hear exceptional national speakers.  Two I will always remember were Joseph Albers and Carl Sandburg.  Both were remarkable men that influenced me the rest of my life.  Joseph Albers was one of the founders and administrators of Black Mountain School of Arts.   Another of my favorite artist that taught at Black Mountain was Robert Rauschenberg.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


The arts are able to say things in ways we can't always express.  Sometimes it is a poem, music, theater, dance, or visual arts.  Lets look at how a sampling of visual artist look at Earth events that effect us as humans who inhabit this ever changing planet.  
 When I was five years old, my family lived near two rivers that converged in the town where we were.  Dams had yet to be built to protect towns on the lower ends of the rivers.  There was a great flood that game to the front porch of our house.  My Mother gave me the job of watching the floor furnace and if the water came in I was to come and tell her.  In my young mind I had an important job.  They delivered groceries by boat to us, but we were able to stay, the water receded and we were safe.  The picture is etched in my mind, as so many disasters world wide children and adults live through.  I have never tried to draw that moment...perhaps I should.  Perhaps I could show how large that furnace looked to me, and the view a child saw of water that lapped on the porch and seemed to go on forever.  What are you memories, what are your experiences with natural disasters?

Thomas Hart Benton  1951 Flood                                    from google image
Flood                 from google image
1953 Southwold  Flood by Frank Forward         U.K.   google image
Frank Forward    British Artist                                     from google image

1927 Mississippi Flood  by Cohen                 google image
Soapy Smith Flood of 1800's                             google image

Fear is the reason for making art. It is a means to freedom. (Ilya Kabakov)

photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Monday, August 27, 2012


Artist Scouttlund                                                          from google image
photo by elizabeth gordon

photo by elizabeth gordon

photo by elizabeth gordon
August 29th is the 7 year anniversary of a one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit an American city.  Hurricane Katrina hit the city with a terrific force and the for the first time the levee's failed. I will never forget what my partners' family went through, nor the fresh images of a city that looked like a nuclear bomb had exploded.  All the helpless people...poor, old, young, defenseless, and fragile are still etched in my mind. And now the survivors face another hurricane to test the resolve of a recovering city.  May all be safe, our hearts are with you as a new storm eyes you for a direct hit!
hApPy bIrThDaY!

august 27 

from google image
"In 1915, Man Ray met French artist Marcel Duchamp, and together they collaborated on many inventions and formed the New York group of Dada artists. In 1921, Ray moved to Paris and became associated with the Parisian Dada and Surrealist circles of artists and writers. His experiments with photography included rediscovering how to make "camera-less" pictures, which he called rayographs." more..

“Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads.
The wind is passing by.”

-- Christina Rosset

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Watching and Waiting for a Hurricane

Watching and waiting for a storm...While here in Florida we are watching the weather and waiting to see where a potentially massive tropical storm may reminded me of Winslow Homer's work, The Gulf Stream.  Winslow Homer was an early American realist painter who first worked illustrating civil war battles for a newspaper.  After a probable nervous breakdown due to the horrors of war, Winslow began painting again.  When hurricanes threaten Florida I always think of this piece. It is a poignant art work showing danger lurking and seeing it from the view of an observer. In the foreground are sharks with sharp teeth and angular fins threatening, blood  floating on the water, a water spout that seems to be approaching and a ship in the far distance...perhaps hope.  The ships mast is broken and the sail torn, the boat is adrift. It is a painting that tells a story of man against nature.

THE GULF STREAM BY WINSLOW HOMER     from google image
After the Hurricane            from google image
Hurricane Isaac, satellite view
So while we all wait and watch, wondering where hurricane Isaac may hit and what damage it may do-I wish you all in harms way safe harbor during this time. 
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.
Steve Jobs

Friday, August 24, 2012

Art is life and life is art!

Lela at 99


Ann helping me support and love my Mother

photo's of my Mother at 99 plus

To be an artist is to believe in life.
Henry Moore

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



Robert Rauschenberg Foundation
Robert Rauschenberg was a famous artist who was inclusive and expansive.  He involved other cultures, he traveled the world co-ordinating art projects internationally.  Here is the mission statement of his foundation that has helped and continues to help so many. 

"Art Can Change the World" ― Robert Rauschenberg, 1982
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation seeks to further the artist's philanthropic and educational initiatives, and aims to preserve and advance global understanding of the legacy of Robert Rauschenberg's life and artwork.
Robert Rauschenberg formed the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 1990 to promote awareness of the causes and groups close to his heart. Activities of the Foundation have included grant making, educational programs, prints and campaigns to benefit environmental and humanitarian initiatives. Today, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation extends this scope with varied programs, including a new grant for artistic innovation and collaboration, and direct assistance for the advancement of art. The Foundation's Vision, Mission and Strategy are coordinated to promote the artist's values and to ensure that all endeavors express the essence of Robert Rauschenberg's philosophy: "Art Can Change the World."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Modern Day Medici's/Series

The Joan Mitchell foundation is one foundation that is making a difference:
"In the wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina, in August 2005, representatives of the New York–based Joan Mitchell Foundation reached out to the arts community in New Orleans in an effort to help. After corresponding with individual artists and arts-organization leaders, says Carolyn Somers, the foundation’s executive director, “we realized that returning to the studio and finding a way to continue to make work following the flooding of the city” was a major challenge for New Orleans artists.
In September 2005, the foundation made its first emergency grants to artists who were adversely affected by Hurricane Katrina, and in the years since, it has provided more than $3 million in support to both individual artists and arts organizations in New Orleans. By 2007, the foundation had concluded that the city’s infrastructure for supporting artists, even before the disaster, was “fragile” at best."  from Art News Magazine
Art in Public Place Supported by the Joan Mitchell Foundation  New Orleans  from google image

Where are the Medici's Now?! 

Why is the Medici family important to us today?  What did they teach us about artists needing to have financial and creative support that would do us good stead in this day and time.Without their philanthropy and interest in the arts we would not have many master works of art.  The Sistine Chapel would not exist, and many works by Michelangelo would never have been created without their money and interest in the arts.  

So where are the Medici's of today?  Who can offer the artist's the freedom to create without the finical worry.  This is a time when there is a sharp contrast between the very wealthy and everyone else.  It is not too unlike the time of the Medici's.  People of wealth and political force can do much good or much harm.  There are many examples of rich families leaving behind a heritage of generosity for their country and citizens.  As the Kennedy's believed if a family has much wealth then it owes much to its own country and citizens.
Who are the philanthropists of today, who are the people that are putting their energy and wealth toward a renaissance and not the dark ages?  Who supports the arts and artist, who sees them as the interpreters of a civilization and its expression, who steps up past their own interests for the greater good?  Lets honor them now, lets repeat their names and thank them.  Now is the time to send in the name of anyone who is that kind of person or family...and we will honor them here. We will start our list tomorrow.  Get ready and send me names from your country or area.

Sistine Chapel   by Michelangelo       from google image

The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?  ~Pablo Picasso

Picasso                            from google image

When we think of the time Picasso and Miro and others painted it makes sense he would feel this way.  Unrest in Europe, a world war, economic depressions, and suppression of artists.  Miro learned to use a language of symbols and Picasso learned to focus in on cubism and other aspects of art. But as we see in his mural of Guernica he could not always refrain from reacting to the horrible senseless violence around him.

Miro                                  from google image

Monday, August 20, 2012

Etchings of life

Perhaps it is the origin of graffiti or perhaps that started long ago with the Greeks or Romans, but we as humans have an innate desire to leave our mark behind.  I love surfaces like this that are worn, marked and show life has been there.  These were from an old one room school house in the Blue Ridge Mountains and they spoke to me as marks left behind by another civilization and time.  Like the Rossetta Stone a message is transcribed from one cultural group to another by lines scratched, not into clay, but into wood and chalk boards.  They whisper of young girls in long dresses and  boys in overalls carrying  a pail with biscuits and cold meat for lunch, long walks through mountain trails to find a way to learning, these lines speak of those who went before us and left their mark of time and experience.

Photo by Elizabeth Gordon

photo by elizabeth gordon

photo by elizabeth gordon

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