Another Side of Wissam

(Sensations sur ma ville © W. Beydoun)

Wissam Beydoun is one of my favourite artists. Not only because we're family (par alliance) and I've known him, like, forever, and he's really cool and a sweetheart - but truly because of the dizzying, emotional, startling punch of his artwork.

A lot of his latest work screams about the raw, unbearable pain of being human. But some of it has the whimsy and fun of his youthful past as a cartoon artist and illustrator. To wit, this textured collage entitled "Sensations about my city". Can you see the urban jumble of an old neighbourhood?

There's a lot more that I'll be showing shortly on the gallery site as soon as I finish rehauling the whole dang lot of it. Which, by the way, is why I've been slacking off here - not enough hours in the day to take a break here and do the other stuff I need to do.


Finding Your Inner Artist

This is dedicated to two of my dearest friends, H.B. and C.K.
(Dreamcogs - R. Koleilat©2007)

Art, like beauty is everywhere. It’s also - however trite and cliché - mostly in the eye of the beholder. I’m flattered and pleased when you, my two friends say all those complimentary things about my scribbles and half-baked attempts at digital art, but I get upset when you say things like: “I could never do that”. Well, nu-uh! You don’t want to do that, you want to do what you do – and that could be anything. From painting stars on dainty little girlie nails to hand-made scrapbooks or scarves, you’re creating artful stuff without being self-conscious about it.

It’s when you plan to “do” artwork that it happens. First, you manage to convince yourself that there is only a certain way to “do” it properly (and worse of all, that someone/everyone will snicker at what you’ve created). Then you sit down to a blank paper, canvas, heap of clay, whatever, with all this critical baggage. And, boom! You hit a self-created, self-perpetuating insurmountable block: “I can’t do this”.

Hmm, do what? Come out with a fully formed, perfect “artwork”? Not gonna happen - for you or anyone else for that matter. Never, ever worked for me.

Creating in an artistic sense is the same as creating in other areas of our lives. You can’t cook, put your make-up on, write a funny poem or run a marathon if you don’t try. And maybe fail. It may be a bromide, but it’s true: let go of your expectations, and you will find the muse that will guide you. But Ms. Muse won’t come knocking if you don’t go looking. As my favourite Ridiculous Person used to say in the eighties, just do it. You’ll see, you’ll even surprise yourself.


Tag, I'm it

Before I start here, yes, I'm aware that I'm doing this all wrong. I'll figure it out eventually and fix it.

So, thanks to Neda and Bee, here are the rules of the game:“Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 7 things that are a habit, unusual or that no-one else knows, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.”

(Scarf - R. Koleilat © 2007)
How could you do this to me, sis? Payback coming soon. I couldn't come up with anyone who has a blog yet. But I won't keep you waiting to read these fascinating (and, as specified, random) facts:

1. I hate melons, but not watermelons.

2. I wish I could live underwater - it's so quiet there. At least it seems so for the few seconds I can hold my breath in the pool.
3. I've been known to look for my glasses while wearing them.
4. I'm addicted to coffee, even though it's poison to my system.
5. I think Desmond is the cat's meow too, now that Sawyer is too much of a little boy lust, uh, I mean lost - and I'm very sorry to say, John too. I'm so old now.
6. I'm actually being restrained when I make all these snarky comments, darling. Most of the time.
7. I didn't know until a few weeks ago that you had to click inside the highlighted portion to copy without losing your selection.


Happy Victoria Day!

Monday is a day off for us Canadians - for some, it's Victoria Day, for others not. Since my kids think I was alive when she was queen of everything, we made these greeting cards together for a decidedly modern Queenie on her own special day.


My Very First

Here it is, my very first collage. Looking at all the amazing work by Neda and Belinha, to name only two artists I love, I got the itch to try it myself.
Hold it, I know, it's not a very good collage, and it's not even a "real" one - no glue, no paper, no cutting or tearing. Just my little mouse and me. I used digital pictures of various things (a wooden ornament painted by my then 2-year-old, portions of different images I'd created for something else).
(Suburbia Sunset Un - R.Koleilat©2007)
On the left is the the "collage" with no effects added, and on the right is the "stylized" one (I used the cutout function in Photoshop).
(Suburbia Sunset Deux - R. Koleilat©2007)
Dunno, I guess I needed to play a little today, having spent the last few days obsessing about a logo design for a friend. Stretch a little. Yay.


But Will It Go With My Couch?

Never fails. Every time I mention that I have an online gallery and that I sell "real" artwork from "real" artists, the dreaded question comes:
(Le monde du silence © I. Algranti)

"How do you know what to buy when you're buying art?" (a question I actually like better that the assertion that usually follows: "I'm looking for something that will have the same colours as my living room furniture").

How do you buy art? Do you buy something that stirs you? Something pretty? Something that might as well have the price sticker still on it? A "conversation piece"?

My sincere answer always is: "Buy what you like" - and I mean it. I believe that even if you "don't know what you're doing", or don't have a trained eye (or much... what's that word? oh, yeah, taste) - and whether you're aware of it or not - when you acquire something not intrinsically functional to display in your own personal space, you inescapably have an emotional investment in that object.

Something has drawn you to that particular sculpture/painting/monstrosity - it "spoke" to you, it made a connection with you... it "picked" you. Like a pet.
(Tattoo © M. Hallab)

So "buy" and cherish and display and be proud of what you like. And remember that whoever created the piece that you chose poured their heart and soul into it. Cherish that too.


When In Doubt, Adobe

Ever since I started this blog a whole 6 weeks ago, I've taken to scanning every s*crap of paper I draw on - just in case I find some use for it. Like those days when I can't bring myself out of the fog to do something creative (did everyone answer Neda's question yet? I'm still thinking about that one).

I'm still discovering this miraculous tool for illustrators and others called Adobe Photoshop. I still haven't peeled off more than a few tiny corners from this huge treasure map of techniques, but here's one (awful but useful) drawing I've been using to experiment with different effects. So far, this is what I've come up with - yes, yes, I know, it's very ugly, but think of the infinite possibilities with this really cool tool.

I started with watercolour and dry pencils and ink on heavily textured watercolour paper (first mistake), then couldn't figure out what to do with the background and ended up with a mess. Then I used the smudge, image attribute change, texture and extracting tool thingies on Photoshop to see what would happen. Here are the 4 versions I've come up with so far (the blue is the original, the rest are Adobed).


Henna and Spice Made My Morning Nice

It all started when I tried to dye my hair with henna this weekend. Since I had to sit tight with a goopy, stinky mess on my head for two whole hours, I figured I might as well do something fun with the goopy, stinky leftover henna.

I wanted to try and create fanciful shapes inspired by the beautiful henna drawings that adorn the hands and feet of North African women on special occasions. I wondered if the dark green mixture would dry off and could be scraped off the watercolour paper I wanted to use, and if it would leave any kind of interesting stain like it does on skin (and hair). The short answer to my query was no, it doesn't. But it does dry to a lovely earthy texture that looks great over a tea-stain wash, and highlighted with colourful spices mixed with a few drops of water (my 7-year old and I used turmeric for yellow and paprika for red - cinnamon and ginger smell great but don't work so well). Ah, kitchen sink art... what better way to waste a whole morning while waiting for your hair to turn a neon-bright orange?