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Posts Tagged ‘painting’

“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill

❦ I’ve always felt that an Artist was a person willing to be a channel for something much larger and far more mysterious than her or his little self. The modern kind of artists’ statement that includes phrases like “informs my aesthetic” and “my purpose” always seemed to be somehow…arrogant. Sometimes even a little bit aggressive, as if by authoritatively stating what they, the artists, were doing in grand terms, they could somehow push their importance and value onto the rest of us.

Maybe I’m just naive in this modern age, but it seems like being an artist should be — regardless of the tribulations of keeping body and soul together — first and foremost, a Calling. A calling that whispers in the night, when one is making the bed or washing the lettuce, showering, or pruning the hedge. A calling that itches in the fingertips and trembles in the heart. “Something wants to be born,” that whisper says. A calling that may, in fact, drag us through a certain kind of Hell, but it will be far worse for us if we refuse or linger overlong on the fence.

There is no explanation given, no reason given for the urgency, but the Calling is still insistent. “A fool’s leap! “Who would possibly want it and how could it even be marketed?” the Reasonable Mind argues back. “How much can I sell it for?” the Fearful Self joins in. There is a lot of Resistance. There always is. Artists are only human, after all. We get nervous when things are out of our control, when we haven’t a clue where they’re going and how it will all turn out. We fear for the loss of all things dear to mortals: our minds, our comfort, our safety and perhaps we fear for our status too.

A Calling is not, I think, ‘religious‘ in the normal sense of that word, unless your view of religion is devotion to something you can never hope to fully understand…devotion that has nothing to gain, no persona to maintain…a kind of death, really. The Calling I am referring to is much more like that quote, “I traded my life for a wild ride on a dark horse.” I wish I knew who wrote that. Following a Calling is so much like that. Exhilarating…terrifying…eerily calm all at the same time. Maybe life should always be like that, artist or no…?

Oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, I don’t mean “Calling” in the sense that one is “special.” More a message that “This is yours to do here, if you are willing and brave enough to accept the challenge…” ♡

“Drink Me” (watercolor, pen & ink) © Susan Sorrell Hill ❦ SOLD. Sorry, no prints available of this beauty, as the original got away before I could have it professionally photographed. However!! There are lots of other images available in The Print Collection at www.susansorrellhill.com

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is wheel.

Have I mentioned here that in my twenty- and thirty-somethings, I worked as a Graphic Artist? I designed logos, posters, beautiful wedding announcements and stationary with fancy, illustrated borders. I made art for greeting cards, cartoons, product labels, signs, T-shirts, and generally anything that had art and lettering on it. In those days, the work of fine artist, illustrator and commercial artist were all mushed together, and computers had not yet arrived to complicate the scene. Graphic Artists wore all the hats.

With the advent of the computer, a whole new set of skills was suddenly required, and finding myself unwilling to learn them, I traded my Graphic Artist hat for making “art for the wall.” I never (well, almost never) looked back.

I like being a painter (as opposed to a Commercial Artist): I am more temperamentally suited to Inner Direction than Art Direction, and I work more creatively at my own pace. But having discovered Arthur Rackham, Trina Schart Hyman and Lisbeth Zwerger in my graphic days, I also adore illustrated books. Alas, the world of publishing has changed just as dramatically with the advent of the computer and digitally rendered art. It is indeed a brave new world. I’m still trying to find a way into that world without sacrificing my own sense of what I should be creating, and without retiring my paints and papers. Perhaps I should be “beating my own drum” in this rather public blog, but the truth is, I don’t have a clue where my work fits these days…

This year will mark my sixtieth birthday, and I am noticing in more and more places the ancient message: Life is a circle, Life is a wheel which turns and returns. This is the philosophy, in fact a spiritual belief, that all things arise and pass away–and inevitably will return again. I am encouraged that what has been “out of fashion” will inevitably return as the highly-touted Vintage and Retro, that Made By Hand, Beauty, Meaning, and Figurative Realism will all make resounding comebacks, that although old people will pass away in their time, new babies will be born, that wars will begin and peace will be found once more…that night will come and that the sun will rise in the morning. I am encouraged to believe that Art made with an old-fashioned brush and paper will once again be highly valued and find a wider audience (even if it takes longer, costs more, and I don’t know how to scan it or tweak it in Photoshop). I’m waiting, somewhat impatiently I admit. In the meantime, I’m painting.

 

Herb Shop logo, circa 1982      (pen & ink and Press-Type)      Remember those rub-on sheets? For a stroll back through memory lane, or an “Oh my God, I can’t believe people actually used that stuff” experience, visit this excellent post by Steven Heller.

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c. Susan Sorrell Hill

The Illustration Friday word of the week is haunt.

Life is so strange. Something (like book illustration) can haunt a person for years, and still be so seemingly unattainable, despite best efforts. “Humans make plans and God laughs,” isn’t that the saying? I’m feeling melancholic today, after receiving my ga-zillioneth rejection letter, this time for both art, stories and book dummies. “Really like the art, not a fit for the current marketplace,” is the general consensus. I suspect it is time to see the handwriting on the wall, and resume my life as a fine art painter. (Visit www.susansorrellhill.com , gallery page 4, if you don’t remember or know what I’m talking about here.) Still paint, still drawing, still making thought-full beauty, and still with lots of fans… I should be happy.

Fright Night   (pen and ink)  Vintage poster art from my graphic (pre-computer era) designer days. (See the art without the type here.)

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