The Monotony of Politically Correct Art/Music

Setting out to create politically correct art and music.Capture18

I’ve heard a bit more discussion about political correctness come up in the news lately. (Definitions are found at the end of this blog). The former Bruce Jenner and the “Black Lives Matter” group helped push it to the front. I will only say, I believe, since we are made in the image of God, all lives matter. All lives deserve our love and respect until their ungodly, inhumane acts demand otherwise. If you don’t believe in God, nothing else I believe will matter to you. I could go on but this blog is mainly about art and music. I think art is nothing but communication without words. So, what is my art saying? Am I politically correct?

The PC Composition 

Music should be easy – it’s universal! So I start to compose.

If I use any half notes, would African Americans object? I better use an equal amount of “white” notes and “black” notes. In fact, they will have equal time value, because the black notes deserve equal time. This makes time signatures of no value now. This means there’s no need for bar lines. Forget the key signatures. Many can’t play them, so I better leave them out. In fact, all notes should be the same pitch because I know those who can’t carry a tune would be offended by those who can. There will be no words to worry about. Good. Also, include no instruments to remind some listeners of their inadequacy to learn an instrument. It’ll be like giving awards to every participant for their excellence (a word with no meaning – but don’t tell anyone!) Boy! That’s  All done!

The PC Canvas Has to Be EasyArt, like morality, consists

Art just has to be easier. After all, art critics swoon over exhibits containing a cross submerged in urine and embalmed baby parts. My art should be tame and safe. I started to draw a face – just any face. But then I thought, if I drew an Indian Native American maybe I’d offend a Black African American. But if I use only pencil, will I offend a Latino? I mean, how can I draw black lines on paper and not offend someone? Even if I chose paper the color of a Latino’s complexion, wouldn’t I offend an Asian? This is getting really complicated. No matter what I do, I am sure to offend someone. What do I do if I offend someone who has only one eye or has wrinkles?

I will settle on a safe rendering. I’m confident I have not offended anyone, but I am hardly pleased with what I see. It in no way exemplifies how I see the world.

994408_240134136163913_736443705_nThe Not-So PC Conclusion

When Daniel (in the Bible) was taken into captivity, the first things Nebuchadnezzar’s reign did to subjugate them was change their diet, their names, their words (language) and their religion. Fortunately, even the barbaric (is it okay to say this?)Babylonians recognized excellence, and Daniel and his friends were rewarded for their achievements. Life is full of contrasts. Hot versus cold, spicy or sweet, these foods are all praised. We need all the variety in life. We need the planners and nurturers and teachers and doers. We need high and low energy people, those that encourage and also offer helpful criticism to meet the various needs of our lives.

Yes, I have been brutally hurt by words. I am offended almost daily, but I know this culture is not friendly to my values. But I refuse to let it control me. I will embrace the high notes I will never sing, I will play my piano with no guilt because I put in the effort to learn how to play it. I will draw and paint the dignity of each life and the pleasures of creation with wonderful contrasts and colors and not be ashamed because I know in my heart I am not malicious. I am not a racist. I am loving and caring and honest and full of life!

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politically%20correct

Full Definition of POLITICALLY CORRECT:  conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated

http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/american/politically-correct

Politically Correct: conforming or adhering to what is regarded as orthodox liberal opinion on matters of sexuality, race, etc.: usually used disparagingly to connote dogmatism, excessive sensitivity to minority causes, etc.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=politically+correct

#2 Politically Correct: 1. The laws of moral and ethical relativism; all systems of cultures and thought are equal in value, steming from a perceived guilt from white liberals who believe that the Western Civilization is the root of all evil to the exclusion of all else. 2. A powerful form of censorship. abbr: PC

Political correctness has a basic flaw. If all views are equal, why do some who embrace this view feel the need to push this agenda as the “correct” one at the same time demonizing other views as “incorrect”?

by tradesman March 31, 2003

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What IS Art?

The Artist
This has been a very revealing week for me.
Earlier, while reading posts to the Portrait Painters LinkedIn site, I found out some artists trace their work, then paint. I suppose it’s okay as long as the client understands the process. Somehow I have a feeling that I am part of a group of artist whose entries that are based on tried-and-true artistic tradition are competing with those who use projectors or worse – they print out the work on canvas and paint over it!!

“The Discovery” by Norman Rockwell

When this reality hit me, I felt like the boy in Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Discovery.” The truth absolutely shattered my fairytale expectations. Is it really unrealistic to expect an artist to draw his or her artwork? I’m not talking about someone who draws their original layout and then stencils to a final surface or uses a projector to enlarge it for a large-scale mural. The concept is theirs.  Tracing photos is hard to call original. Though I can’t seem to wrap my arms around the practice, I suppose it’s okay as long as the client understands the process.

The Art
Then, bringing up Rockwell’s work refreshed my memory of another revelation. I ran into a woman who said Norman Rockwell was not an artist, he was just an illustrator. Now, this cut me to the quick since that was my artistic thrust at the time. I was young and impressionable, but I asked myself, “Isn’t all art illustration?”  It illustrates places, people, vocation, moods, fantasy, aspirations, social issues.  The list is endless. I’ve heard people like to make such comments to impress others about their knowledge of art. Sure, I wouldn’t want to be remembered for just the painted logo on a van I did, but illustrative art can be very complex and demand high artist skills. Rockwell’s imagination and skill are seen above.

No one questions calling the sculptor an artist. Why, even hair stylists are called artists today. Maybe the word “artist” has lost some of its meaning. If a person renders a creation in or on stone, metal, paper, canvas or whatever, they’re an artist. If they copied a work or photograph, they’re a copyist. How good of an artist they are can depend on the viewer and the artwork. But if Reader’s Digest wanted to use “The Scream” by Edvard Munch for their cover would you have to call Munch an illustrator?

I would love to hear from critics and artists – is copying art? Is Illustration art?

What should we do with talent?

Where does talent come from?

 

I won’t try to pull a fast one on my readers or string them along with scientific studies (though many are interesting). I can only say,“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”(James 1:17) Now, I know this text refers to God’s gift of salvation and care for His children; however, “And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” (Ex 4:11)   If God decides who will be dumb or seeing, He can easily decide who is artistic or musical, or struggles to appreciate creativity.The source may not be so elusive, but the why behind creativity remains.

 

Maybe more important – what do we do with talent?

Don’t you find it strange how differently people react to the arts and talented people?

Capture1Some are totally clueless in understanding what goes into a performance or project.

When I was the sole musician for a church and was accompanying two choir numbers, two other musical pieces, playing three Offertories plus attending the rehearsals and accompanying worship singing for three services each week, the music director looked at me in surprise when I mentioned I had to practice several hours each week.

Someone asked an artist how long it took for him to paint a picture and he replied, “All my life.” What a great response that is a bit tongue-and-cheek and yet it is all very real at the same time.

There is a lot of loneliness, too. We are those as children who brought home reports cards reading, “Loves to daydream,” “Great motor control but unrealistic use of color,” “Loves singing and sings with authority” and “Work well independently.” I remember the lonely hours as a stay as home mother. It probably didn’t hit me as hard as those personalities that need socialization. My poor children went to bed at 8 in the evening and I would begin painting (When your spouse works 2nd shift, you are almost a single parent) and would paint until my husband came home in the early hours of the morning. While church members socialized, I was practicing with those preparing their musical specials for upcoming worship services. I don’t say these things demanding pity, I am speaking a reality. Artists paint, sculpt, compose, write and practice away while peers shop, party and go to sport/art events.

Life experiences can bring lack of understanding and appreciation on the part of the viewer/listener. So people at recitals and show openings romanticize over the exciting life of artists and refuse to see the reality when an artists state that it can be a bit tedious (Don’t think so, ask Michelangelo when the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling was “unveiled.”) Don’t get me wrong, the tedium is worth it to the artist who has the result in his heart and mind.

In the late 1800’s there were over 2,000 piano makers in the country! Every household wanted a piano. Sacrifices were made to own one. Almost every house that had a piano had a child who took lessons. Playing piano was not only a form of entertainment, it was a status symbol. To some people it portrayed wealth, to others it meant refinement and an extra incentive for someone to marry plain old Betty. You can almost feel sorry for the nine-year-old boy who drops his fishing worms when his mother pulls him by the ear into the house for piano practice (lovingly, of course!). Now there were the good old days of discipline against selfish impulses for long-term gains.

Girl with a Pearl Eariing - Vermeer

Girl with a Pearl Eariing – Vermeer

Today we are overloaded with art that seemingly has no cost to it. The painting may be beautiful, but it can be easily mass-produced. The rare voice can draw tears, however, with a touch of a button it’s gone viral and everyone hears it.

Thank God there are patrons who do appreciate the object that delights their eyes and the nuances of sound that move them emotionally. I’m glad there are museums. Those hallways of subtle lighting drown out the noise of cheap entertainment and busy lives and make the viewer focus on life as seen through the artists. Sometimes it’s a life we may have forgotten.  I often wonder what “the art” sees in us as we view it?

The Emotional Power of Color

There is something to be said of a Creator Who cares enough for our pleasure that He gave us the gift of our senses. They say the gift of smell has the most powerful ties to memory. Maybe. After all, I have wonderful memories that flood my mind when homemade bread, apple pies and other pastries stimulate my olfactory senses. And the TASTE! I have heard that the gift of hearing is the last thing to go when facing death. Touch can bring pain or comfort. But the gift of vision – what a gift! It is so complex that close to a third of our brain is devoted to it.

Untitled-Grayscale-01The emotional impact of color hit me surprisingly this morning. A sunrise this morning greeted me – beautiful, but I was struck by a memory of a 1963 Pontiac Catalina (or was it a Bonneville). When my dad brought it home, the first thing he did was open up the hood – but we were all impressed when he opened the trunk and sat in it with room to spare. A large family on vacation appreciates these points. The mafia would had treasured the roominess of it over resorting to a panel truck. But what hit me this morning was the memory of that deep, deep midnight blue. You know – the color of that blue-black stallion or the almost black suit that draws the viewer in. Detroit knew how to crank out beauties back then. The they knew how to use the baby blues and bubble gum pinks we see in the sky today. Looking at the cars today is very uninspiring.

blk & wh tree

Life Without Color

Now, using black & white photos is great when I’m checking my values on a difficult subject I’m drawing but- Can you image if we only saw in “black & white?” There would be no need for hair dyes and fabrics would stress pattern over color. TV’s would still be in black & white – let alone HDTV and HGTV would have a fourth of their audience when designers show landscapes in a spectrum of grays.  Function over beauty would be the dominant motivator in design and art would have a totally different focus. (This coming from a graphite artist! But even my eye can see the warmth and coolness of different “leads.”)

I mean, it’s as if you watch I Love Lucy for years and then find out, “She’s a beautiful redhead!” Even when I listen to music, it stirs images of color in my brain. Why is black so grim and domineering while greens are used for calming atmospheres?   It’s hard to imagine that color actually brings out emotional responses but they do.

The eye’s cones are a wonderful gift (I knew there was a reason I loved cones), and we are fortunate that we have cone receptors for red, green and blue; thus able to appreciate 7-10 million different colors! Dogs and some others animals have only two. A few have four and some see wave lengths we can’t – like bees. An interesting website on color is: http://www.colormatters.com/color-and-vision/look-inside-the-eye

butterfly treeSo, the next time you are enthralled by a sunset or captivated by the iridescence of an Indigo Bunting (bird) or butterfly, thank God for the ability to see color and ENJOY!

1-time for breakfast - Copy

Wrapping up Christmas and Scoring Big in 2014

Do you remember the day-after-Christmas as a child?

It can be a big let down. As a child I probably got everything on my list. I didn’t want anything more, yet the let-down feeling was there. Why? Looking back, it probably was because there was no need to anticipate. The activity of anticipation brings excitement into the dull, everyday events of life. Children know these days as filled with chores of making of beds, washing dishes and the hated task of folding socks. (I still hate folding socks to this day. What’s the use, they never match!)

The value of anticipation.

Anticipation is part of “HOPE” when you think about it. You expect a change, hope for something different. The artist expects to be delighted with the finished project. Anticipation drives the brush or pencil towards the image in the mind. The same goes for the composer.

Maybe it’s the hopeful look of appreciation in the receiver’s eye’s that drives the giver to shop and wrap each present. I wonder what God anticipated that first Christmas. Does He even do that? Did He think of the joy of having a restored relationship with you? And me? The human psyche is a complex subject, yet I have confidence God understands it all. So much of His design for worship fills the needs of the human to understand his place in the relationship with God.

Long term VS Short Term Goals – IT’S RELATIVE

Mothers of toddlers have ONLY short – very short-term goals – such as going to the bathroom before the next catastrophe. For the child, each day drags on forever. Lunch is way out in the future. Supper will never come.

The act of anticipation is a serious, long term commitment to a six year old.

2013 ornament

The little track house made big memories.

I remember my siblings and I would insist on decorating the obligatory shrubs in suburban landscaping. The snow would settle on top of the large colorful bulbs and when they were plugged in, it looked like five, humungous M&M cookies lining the front walkway. We watched our Dad string them up and we waited for snow.  When it came we were ecstatic. So it made sense to give this memory back to our parents this Christmas.

So, maybe looking forward to meeting goals gives us the same excitement and sense of satisfaction as adults.

If that’s the case, I’m making both long term and short term goals to fill my life and keep me young at heart and mind.

Artistically, I would like to complete at least eight pieces this year – 3 acrylics, 2-3 pastels and the rest in graphite and/or  inks. Motivation for this should be easy since I’m starting a commission piece this week. Musically,  I would like to take 4-6 of my arrangements which have been floating around in my head (a dangerous place to store anything valuable) and notate them for solo piano. Some of my goals may be very dull to you – organization, for example – and one challenging – memorization of more Scripture. (I’m still working on Philippians 4:5-11).

What goals have you set? I’d love to hear of them.

May your days be blessed and have a joyous New Year.

What is Christmas Anyway?

 

What is Christmas Anyway?

 

I remember teaching from a Christmas favorites book and my piano student asked me why do we celebrate Christmas. So I told him that it is a day to remember the birth of Jesus. He countered with “Who’s he?” I have to admit, I was a bit stunned, but thought maybe he’s Jehovah Witness or something like that and I tried to form a brief answer to the nine-year old sitting on my piano bench. “God sent His Son Jesus to earth to die for our sins. Jesus came as a baby and this is the way we celebrate the event. That’s why it’s a joyful time.”a-Light Echoes from Red Supergiant star V838 Monocerotis - Copy

 

I wanted to say it’s the most important act God ever extended towards mankind. I wanted to say that when I heard the Christmas story one year, it dawned on me how bad I must have been for God to resort to such extreme measures. I wanted to tell him how much joy there is in believing that God wants the relationship between mankind restored and that it can be – and has been for so many.

But I figured parents pay me to program their children to learn piano – not preach to them or give a testimony, so I did keep the answer “bare bones.” 

 

Not enough.

The parent talked with me about his plan to raise his son with no exposure to religion. When piano books are riddled with “Silent Night” and “Away in the Manger” it’s hard to ignore the reason for the celebration. It doesn’t matter, he had chosen the book and the child picked the song and I respectfully listened. But inside I thought, “It’s like going to a party but you don’t know who it’s for.”

God – the greatest Visual artist

 

Proof#1

 

I am glad our God is bigger than our opinions – and our imagination. Who else, other than God, would think to stoop to the level of a baby in a manger to paint the word “LOVE.”

 

All our altruistic depictions are nothing more than adaptations of “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” You must admit, Hollywood falls way short of inspiring in how it portrays love. I”ll take God’s definition any day.

 

It would be interesting to know:

 

How would you depict love in visual form?

 

until then – “Have a Joyous Holy-day!

 

How Does One meet A Day of Infamy? A Study in Contrast.

FDR said we will always remember this day as a day of infamy. The attack on Pearl Harbor was brutal, almost entirely unexpected and it roused the “sleeping giant.” The Great Depression and WW2 made the 50’s so much sweeter. But where is this giant the Japanese admiral spoke of? For the most part, today’s Americans are oblivious to the nation’s financial and leadership crisis. Many are struggling to find employment and cope with new governmental regulatory changes.We are in a darker period in America and many fail to see it, yet-

In all of this we are to still give thanks.

I am beginning to think God is One Who sees the glass as half full. (I’m slow.)

Our neighbor called this week to say their grandson’s Neuroblastoma cancer has returned. This is devastating. It is times like these we can focus on the good care available and the happy times Connor brings to those around him. For these we can be thankful. For those who care, updates on his condition and how to pray for him are in: https://www.facebook.com/PrayingForConnerHill.

Our lives are much like a work in progress. Good works or art consist of a delicate balance of light and dark, bright and somber. Can Debussy’s “Claire De Lune” draw the listener in if no notes on the bass clef existed? Visual artists know that beginning artists struggling with the use of contrast but it is the very use of this element that takes the artwork to the next level.  See the difference in the drawing below.

bad drawing Untitled-Grayscale-close-upGod puts the dark strokes among the light ones in our lives to paint a picture to glorify Him. It’s hard to appreciate the darker strokes in our lives, especially when it touches such young, innocent lives.

After all, if God can only be a good God in the good times, He’s not much of a god when the hard times come.  So have faith in God’s goodness and let’s pray for Connor and the many others like him -maybe it’s you – and give thanks to God for the blessings He has showered down on us and for holding His loved ones through the dark times.

                                                                                                                                 

Thanksgiving

What IS Thanksgiving?

Today, in the midst of baking rolls and pies, it is good to to rest the feet and reflect on what Thanksgiving means. Of course, we can say we’re thankful for family, friends, our freedoms as US citizens, health, possessions and jobs, but what if we don’t have them? Can we still be thankful? Consider this-

Martin Rinkart was a pastor at Eilenburg, Saxony during the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Because Eilenburg was a walled city, it became a severely overcrowded refuge for political and military fugitives from far and near. As a result the entire city suffered from famine and disease. In 1637 a great pestilence swept through the area, resulting in the death of some eight thousand persons, including Rinkart’s wife. At that time he was the only minister in Eilenburh because the others had died or fled. Rinkart alone conducted the burial services for 4480 people, sometimes as many as 40 or 50 a day!

During the closing years of the war, Eilenburg was overrun or besieged three times, once by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedes. On one occasion, the Swedish general demanded that the townspeople make a payment of 30,000 thalers. Martin Rinkart served as intermediary, pleading that the impoverished city could not meet such a levy; however, his request was disregarded. Turning to his companions the pastor said, “Come, my children, we can find no mercy with man; let us take refuge with God.” On his knees he led them in a fervent prayer and in the singing of a familiar hymn, “When in the Hour of Utmost Need.” The Swedish commander was so moved that he reduced the levy to 1350 thalers.

This is the servant God used to pen the words:

“Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices;

Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

O may this bouteous God, Through all our life be near us,

With ever joyful hearts And blessed peace to cheer us;

And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed

And free us from our ills In this world and the next”

Martin Rinkart (1586-1649)

Translated by Cathrine Winkworth (1827-1878)

(Taken from “Crusader Hymns and Hymn Stories. Hope Publishing. 1966)

Walled in, no freedom, no food, little or no family, jobs, possessions and health, yet they gave thanks to God. God tells us in 1Th 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It is obvious that a thankful heart is not based on circumstances but perspective and frame of (spiritual) mind.

My prayer for you this thanksgiving is not that you will have an abundance of things and happy circumstances, but you will know that no matter what your life brings, God is always the certainty of love, grace and forgiveness. Maybe that’s what Martin Rinkart knew.

As my husband, Glen, and my worlds fill with challenges, it is good to take pleasure in the small ways laughter comes to us. Since I have no piano students this year, art projects are filling the hours (as if they needed filling!) I leave you with a pastel still in progress of the one that spends the most time with me-Kansa.

Kansa - 9 x 12 pastel portrait

Kansa – 9 x 12 pastel portrait

The Morab

Since I was a child I loved drawing and horses. I guess this combines the two.  In fact, the subject combines two breeds – the Arabian and Morgan, thus,  the Morab breed.  There are so many horse breeds out there and so many beautiful horses. There are probably a few ugly horses, too; however, their hearts are beautiful.  Not many animals have served us as faithfully as the dog and horse. Today the equine family generally is raised for pleasure.

The MorabThis blog is to introduce you to my artwork. So, check out the art pages.  I hope you enjoy and I’d appreciate your feedback.

Head study of a breed of horse having at least 25% of only the following two breeds – the legendary Arabian and the remarkable Morgan. Original graphite for sale, 10″ x 13″