June 27,2006
When Art Gets Personal

When Art Gets Personal Did you know that when you stop to look at a painting, you are undoubtedly looking into the soul of another person? A painting is not just something pretty (or depending on opinion, something ugly) it acts as messenger. It wants to tell you something. Do you stop to listen? Do you hear the voice of the soul that wants to whisper in your ear? Listen as the artist says, "I want to show you things strange and forgotten." "I want to tell you what I see when I look at you, at the world, at myself." "I want to show you how, when reflected in others, we are small." "I want to show you, when the sun stands behind us, our shadows are long." "I want you to notice how the stem bends way over when the wind gets rough, but then straightens again in the calm." "I want to show you how, even in the darkest of dark, the light filters through." Perhaps the artist asks a question? "Why does the sunlight merely graze the flower's petals and not penetrate the deep centre?" "Have you noticed how light bounces and distorts in the shadows?" "Do you see that within a teardrop there is darkness and shadow, reflection and light?" A painting embodies the soul and spirit of the artist. Wrapped around pigment are emotion, awareness, voice, heart and spirit. Some paintings express these aspects in gentle ways, ways that evoke feelings of joy, nostalgia or serenity. Some artists are louder; their pain will not be content to lie in the shadows, hiding beneath the leaves in a stream. Frida Kahlo spoke of the struggles of the heart, of the will to live in a world of pain and torment. At the time of her death, her art was fully recognized for its raw voice and uninhibited expression. There was a turning point reached long ago, whereby Frida threw off the subtleties and embraced full disclosure, without the fear of rejection. She painted for nobody else save her soul. At 1 am this morning I had my Frida moment. No longer was I hiding in the shadows of my paintings but I was bold, blue and naked on the canvas. I was telling the story of me, of my pain. I was both storyteller and listener, artist and viewer. It was an awesome experience. I was free (well almost) from realism, from convention, from critique. I was purely expression! In my studio is a painting of Frida Kahlo I picked up in a Mexican store. It's a reproduction of course, "Self Portrait with Monkey." Frida perches there, watching me with a serene look on her face, watching what I will do next. Today I see myself as Frida staring outwards, staring back at myself and the monkey on my shoulder, arm outstretched around my neck is her, a presence light and quiet, whispering in my ear, "Do you see? See what art can do?"

Posted by Melanie Cossey at 11:11 1 Comments
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June 13,2006
Which came first the Studio or the Art?

Its no secret that my goal in life, or at least for the foreseeable future is to "make it big" as an artist. Dream Big! Think Big! Go Big! Its all about how to get one's name (and works) out into the public eye. Get noticed, and by the right people. Ok, now that that's established, it stands to reason that in order to think big/go big, one must have space... ahhhh space, glorious space. We're talking pull-your-8-feet-tall-3-feet-wide-studio-easel-up-to-the-window space. We're talking leave-a-drafting-table-set-up-with-your-sketchpad-on-it-space. We're talking got-room-for-matting-storage-paper-cutting space. We're talking paint-all-night-and-crash-on-the-pull-out-cot-at-4am space. Not to mention rows-of-cupboards-and-closets-for-endless-supplies space, a-kicking-stereo-with-large-cd-collection space and a-sink-and-toilet-for-clean-up-and-convenience space. So I ask you, which came first the studio or the art? Can an artist go big without first having a big studio? Or must the artist go big before she can have a big studio? Hmmmm such a conundrum. Currently my studio is a highly coveted 3rd bedroom in my small, 1200 sq ft. Townhouse in Port Moody. I have about 4 ft of working space on either side of me, and about 6 ft of analyzing space,in which to step back from my work and decide if I've gone terribly wrong or I stand a chance to pull it off. I'd like to think that my art has more scope and sophistication than ancient cave art, and therefore demands better viewing options. Oh and did I mention light? Unlike cave art, mine looks better in the light. Add to the dream big list, a light-so-bright-transitioning-souls-keep-getting-drawn-to-the-studio-instead space. Add to these inconvienences the fact that my studio space is not entirely my own. It is the hub of all computer/internet activity for a family of four. As a modern artist, my computer is essential to my art, so therefore I cannot declare a moratorium on all things technological. I rely heavily on my reference photos, prefering (as any Vancouver artist will atest to if they ever want to get anything done)to bring my subjects back to the studio in the form of digital photography rather than create plein aire paintings. Do I need to specify that Vancouver is a rather soggy place for the artist who works on paper? I am a mother to a preteen boy who has just discovered the joys of emailing and instant messaging. Ah yes... whatever did we do without that? Goodness, I had to actually walk up the street if I wanted to talk to my best friend. Hmmm maybe I should tell my son about the time I made the worlds longest tin-can telephone. Yep, it stretched from my second story window, across the large sub-urban lawn, over the driftwood fence, through the too-tall grass, down the rabbit hill and into the bedroom window of my best friend Andrea's Rancher style house. Yes, it was an engineering masterpiece. We could actually hear each other.... if we took the tin can off our ears and listened to the shouting that could be heard out of each of our bedroom windows. But I digress, I am reduced to about 2 ft of space when my son sits at the computer to email his friends. Oh and did I mention the cat? Yes, it seems that the only place in the house for her litter box is in my studio. Oh, its well hidden, under the end table I use for my still life and photography arrangements. Its a little too well hidden in my opinion. Out of sight out of mind; alas unfortunately not out of sniffer range. Yes, in a rage akin to a Van Gogh ear snipping, I've been known to toss pastels to wind like salt over the left shoulder, scrub the dust from my fingertips, drop to my knees and search for buried treasure, dumping clumps of offensive litter into a garbage can formerly and poetically reserved for such romanatic artistic cast-offs as mulicoloured pencil shavings and discarded palette paper samplings. Yes more distractions. But I ask you, who can create when the nose is in such distress? Then there is the phone. Oh I don't mind when its a friend calling to in a round-about-way say "Hey, I miss you." I'm such a lonely artist you know... but the sad truth is, the majority of the telephone interuptions are by people who just don't understand the creative process. Its hard to fathom why anyone would "interupt this artistic broadcast" to ask me an important and profound question... "Do you have any used clothing to donate to Big Brothers?" So its with these problems in mind that I have given serious thought to my own profound question of "which came first, the studio or the art?" Like a less profound question I've heard tell about, "which came first the chicken or the egg." I've determined that through a chain of similarities that there must be both the egg AND the chicken in order for big things to happen. For the Chicken, after it lays the egg, must hatch it. I too must hatch my plot to aquire the ultimate in studio spaces. With a good track record of manifestation behind me, I have decided to set out in pursuit of this goal. Forthwith, this shall be my immediate and most pressing goal in the desire to Go Big!I hereby declare the beginning of my manifestation process in aquiring the ultimate studio space! I Melanie Cossey do declare by the powers available to me at this time, that I shall manifest for myself a studio space to fit my every desire in a studio space. There! I've said it! The rest is easy. May it be so. I trust that my higher identities will clear and define the path to make this possible for me. Onward and upward in my plan to Go Big! Melanie Cossey June 13 2006

Posted by Melanie Cossey at 10:25 2 Comments
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