Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ecce Hilarious

I have always maintained that there are no mistakes in art. Alas, the recent botched restoration of a 19th century mural painting depicting Christ in the Santuario de Misericordia Church in Borja, Spain by octogenarian Cecilia Giménez might have made me think twice. Ecce (behold):
Now, stop laughing for about 30 seconds. Imagine you are in an art class and your teacher asks you to define the purpose of art. You might offer that art is created to express one’s self, expose human or political conditions, recreate nature or simply bring beauty to the world. As for myself, I would answer that my purpose is to inspire others to create and to make them happy. You might have as many answers as you would have students. And I will venture out on a limb to make the sweeping statement that none of the interpretations are wrong. Usually.

Enter dear Cecilia and her paint brushes. For those of you who may have been under a rock or crawling about the planet Mars along with the Rover for the last couple of weeks, Cecilia took it upon herself to go from her usual touch-up of the Lord and Savior’s murky red gown to expressing her vision by repainting his face as well. Unfortunately the priests must have been on a coffee break or they would have (hopefully) prevented her from turning poor Jesus into the unnatural offspring of Taylor and Dr. Zaius.

Cecilia and the subsequent outpouring of artistic licentiousness on the net pulverized my funny bone with a sledgehammer. I cannot look at this picture without convulsing and rolling on the floor in embarrassing contortions of happiness, like a puppy getting its tummy tickled. Not to mention the pundits online who have taken this picture to an entirely new level of artistic parody. To my defense, I point to the Youtube clips of art restoration experts fighting to keep a straight face while being interviewed about the matter on TV.

Thank you, Cecilia. There are hundreds of people lined up to see what you have done. They are spending money in the shops of your town and paying the church to view this well-meant blunder. Thank you for your utter lack of remorse and your insistence that you believe yourself a good artist, despite evidence to the contrary. And, thank you most of all for the pure, unexplainable, gut wrenching hilarity I feel whenever I see your "work". Nope, there are no mistakes in art.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hi everyone: Of late I've been working on this little introductory animation of Eddie the Eraser Dog in Carrara 8 Pro.  I initially created Eddie when I entered a workplace film contest and decided to use an animated character for my entry. I first made a real Eddie out of white erasers and a razor blade, and gave him a paper clip tail and push-pin paws. I then created a virtual Eddie to come to life for the adventure. 

I first learned basic animation as part of a computer graphics certification which required 3 years of college classes in the 3d Studio Max program. At that time, the program was almost completely do-it-yourself as far as building 3-dimensional objects and then animating them. Now the software will generate everything from complex textures to growing hair at the push of a button. I feel that it was good to learn from the basic program, however, because  I got a good idea of how everything works from the ground up. After 3 years I had barely scraped the surface of that amazing software.

As the price of 3d Max is out of my league, I recently purchased a copy of Carrara 8 Pro, and find that the logic of modeling, animating and rendering follow the same set of rules regardless of what program you use, and it wasn't too painful to get up to speed.

Once I start building a model I can get so focused that hours can slip by. It takes about 4 hours per second of finished video to create from scratch. That doesn't include writing or storyboarding, but it sure is a fun 4 hours. It's so easy to get obsessed with a project. I'll find myself thinking about one at 3:00 AM and have to get up and work on changes. Below is my tutorial that explains the basics. If you are acquainted with the modeling process at the beginning, feel free to skip to the 5:00 mark to see the model animation.  I am looking forward to creating some video shorts with Eddie and have a lot of ideas for adventures. Stay tuned!

Barbara (and Eddie!)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Good Artists Create, Great Artists Inspire

It’s never been a concern of mine that someone else’s art may be based on anything that I’ve originated. First, considering all the generations that have gone before, it’s highly unlikely that I am the first person to think or create everything that I do. Second, I truly believe that artists building upon each other’s knowledge as inspiration does nothing but propel both art and beauty to the next level, and moves this universe forward in a positive sense.

I make the following distinction, however, between being inspired and copying. It’s never all right to copy someone else’s artistic endeavors verbatim and claim them as your own. Nor is it good to show up at the next art show exhibiting exactly what your partner from the last show had for sale.  Yet, there is no shame or reason to hide being inspired. When we look at the masters, some borrowed from one another copiously, and yet found their own voice, their own style. Occasionally the student does become the master.

I can’t think of a greater compliment than someone saying that my art made them feel happy, comforted, or best of all inspired. I love to share what I’ve learned in the hopes that others can enjoy the satisfaction that creativity gives.

Creativity is part of the collective consciousness and a integral part of being human. When I get in the groove, whether painting, making music or any kind of artistic activity, it’s almost as though an outside force is flowing through me and guiding my hand. It’s as if I have reached up and dipped my hand in a powerful flow and allowed myself to be taken along for the ride. That’s when art feels right. And, this river is not my private domain, it belongs to everyone.

So, reach up, connect, feel the flow – and create.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beatle Babies

When I was a skinny ten year old living in Anaheim, the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. They stole the hearts and ignited the imagination of my little group of pals who lived on Paradise Road. Long before Guitar Hero, before air guitar, Wayne and Garth or Garage Band, we spent many warm summer days playing Beatles in my friend Carolyn’s garage. I was George, Carolyn was John and Susie was Ringo. No one wanted to be Paul. We were all going to marry Paul. My little ten-dollar portable record player (beige, with a white handle) played “She Loves You” over and over while we strummed imaginary guitars and sang into invisible microphones. In the video of my mind I see three little girls with bare feet, madras shirts and denim shorts, performing their hearts out to a sold-out crowd of stuffed animals and miscellaneous pets.

It didn’t matter to us whether we had equipment or knew how to play. We were rock stars.

It is important not to lose connection to the imaginative child that once was, the one didn’t need talent or fancy equipment in order to be somebody, to be an artist, or be inspired by those who are, heart and soul. The imaginary play of those years trained me to visualize, hear, and organize my creative ideas today. There is a platitude that states “If you dream it, you can do it.” Although it sounds trite, it is true. You have to visualize a project before you can make it happen. Find the time, find a way. And don’t worry whether you possess the skill, because that comes with doing. The result may not be exactly what you pictured, but might be better, because creative ideas build upon one another, and that’s how we learn.

Well, none of us grew up and married Paul, obviously. But as time went on, I taught myself to play a real guitar, and subsequently spent many happy years playing bass in a cover band throughout Southern California, having the time of my life. It started in a garage, with nothing. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Indeed.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The more I learn, the less I know!

Happy New Year: I have been in learning mode for the last month or two. It seems that as soon as I pick up one skill, I realize that I need another to bring my art projects to life. It's like when you buy a new soap dispenser for the bathroom, then you realize that the towels look kind of dingy, and you go back to buy some more. Then you realize the rug no longer matches - and upward through the curtains, etc., until you find yourself dyeing your French poodle to match the bottle of pusillanimous pink nail polish on the counter. It's kind of like that.

I have installed an updated version of 3d animation software and have been working my way through an 800-page manual (up to pg. 650). I also acquired a new Midi keyboard for my computer - soon I'll be animating some characters in 3d and writing the music for them in Garage Band.

Best of all, Santa brought me a brand-new Fender Mustang Bass Guitar - and is it ever sweet! I'm getting used to playing the new size (3/4 size compared to the P-bass I used to play) and loving every minute of it.

I look forward to updating my website soon with tutorials and new art videos. I'm completing a collage tutorial and planning another on paper marbling. I'll get back to filming soon, I promise!

Visit me at Barbara Bastrup Fine Art