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To view online version of the LevinLand Magazine Portfolio click here.screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-3-10-40-pm

This is the digital home of the ‘Illustrators Journal’ (dot) com, a place where you can  see great art, photography and read insights of the proprietor for those interested in the art of illustration, animation and creative expression through narrative design.

I’m looking forward to keeping you updated on the art of illustration and my experience on the road to meeting my expectations and  goals for the future

Please join in the fun, and do consider subscribing to our blog!

Artists Need to Reflect And Shine A Light

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What is going on in our country? This isn’t the America I grew up in or at least it doesn’t seem that way. The present leader (I use the term very loosely) of our country is a tragic and distorted abomination of our country’s obsession with winner take all mentality. Somehow he has normalized behavior that is appalling and amoral. As an artist and a citizen I feel compelled to speak out verbally and visually. Hence,..Arnold Grump, gross pig leader of the “United Farmlands”.
Arnold grew out of my daily conversations with my wife, Havi who used to be Tom Hayden’s right hand woman and knows her politics. Our combined frustration gave birth to a character we could use as our voice. There is no other intent other than to show resistance and let other people vent along with us.

Protest artists come from a long line of political satirists (Daumier, Thomas
Nast, James Gillray, Ronald Searle, Conrad, David Levine and Art Spiegelman) To get how powerful an artist can be in the political universe consider Napoleon’s comment about English caricaturist James Gillray , “He did more than all the armies in Europe to bring me down.”

The importance of your own voice cannot be minimized and it is incumbent for every American to study, listen and research what you’re hearing reading and being told. Do not just accept things at face value. This President has made promises to the American public and his base that are not being met and probably never will. That is my opinion and so I ask anyone who reads this to consider being thoughtful and mindful about what is happening and where you stand.

To not comment or to remain neutral is to agree with what is happening.

You have a voice , use it even if you only share it with family. We are free in America to express ourselves. So I implore you speak your truth.

Interview with KID LIT writer/Illustrator Kristi Valiant

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I recently became familiar with Kristi Valiant’s work and how valuable she is to Kidlit. So I thought I’d post her interview and some of her bio on TIJ website. Of course I will try to get her to talk with me for an article in the next issue of TIJ Ezine.

The whimsy and color of her illustrations and the movement of her characters are so appealing and fun you can sense the delight she gets when she goes about her work. I’m so happy to see another user of a computer to do her work. Forward thinking and steep in tradition here’s Kristi’s own bio.

In fourth grade, I got in trouble for drawing too much during class.
After graduating magna cum laude from Columbus College of Art and Design as an Illustration major, I worked in the graphics department at an educational publisher. Now I write and illustrate children’s books.
I wrote and illustrated PENGUIN CHA-CHA (Random House, 2013).
I’ve illustrated the following:
PRETTY MINNIE IN HOLLYWOOD (written by Danielle Steel, Doubleday)
PRETTY MINNIE IN PARIS (written by Danielle Steel, Doubleday)
THE GOODBYE CANCER GARDEN (Albert Whitman)
CORA COOKS PANCIT (Shen’s Books)
THE LITTLE WINGS Chapter Book Series (Random House)
DO YOU LOVE ME MORE? (Standard)
OLIVER’S FIRST CHRISTMAS (Accord)
DANCING DREAMS (Accord)

Some of my favorite things in life are my husband and daughters, dark chocolate, hot fudge pudding cake, collecting picture books, reading, swing dancing, musicals (especially Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers), monkeys, penguins, and my faith in Jesus.
I grew up in Wisconsin, studied in Ohio, moved to Texas, taught English for a summer in China, and now live in Indiana with my husband, daughters, and a room full of hippos and monkeys. I tend to draw a mouse, hippo, monkey, and penguin somewhere in each of my recent picture books.

I create my art in Photoshop using a Cintiq display and pressure-sensitive pen. I find that working digitally allows me to be creative and edit easily, without the hazard of spilling dirty painting water or drinking it by mistake.

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12:01 – 20 April, 2017 by Patrick Lynch

The words of David Adjaye are so on point in design that it’s appropriate to include this video and article on our site. Whether you’re an illustrator, painter, sculptor or architect his words ring true.

TIME Magazine has named architect David Adjaye to their annual list of 100 Most Influential People, recognizing the world figures who have had the most impact on society in the past year in five categories: Pioneers, Titans, Artists, Leaders, and Icons. Unlike Bjarke Ingels and Wang Shu – who were selected under the Artist category in 2016 and 2013, respectively – Adjaye was nominated in the Icons category alongside champions including media personality RuPaul, subversive photographer Cindy Sherman, and US Congressman John Lewis, the civil rights leader who was the original advocate for a National African American Museum in Washington, which was eventually designed by Adjaye and inaugurated last September.

In the citation for the award, Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem (and currently working with the architect on an expansion project for the museum), describes Adjaye as “one of the great architectural visionaries of our time,” and lauds his work as “deeply rooted in both the present moment and the complex context of history.”

Are These Sands Crabs, Insects or Creatures From Outer Space: Does It Matter?

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This painting is from a children’s book without a home yet. It’s called Emma and Digger. It started out as a sand crab adventure story, yet I fear that since Emma and Digger don’t exactly look like sand crabs that perhaps they should just be little beach creatures and call it a day. I’ve gotten feedback that these are insects or sand crabs don’t look like that.

If you’re working on your own projects I’m sure this has happened to you. You get excited about the work and suddenly after the fact you realize you’ve done something that doesn’t make sense…or does it?

I think sometimes people cannot let go of what their perceptions are to see the bigger picture. Here it’s about losing family and friends and creating your own life and completing the cycle. Not about whether Emma and Digger are sand crabs, insects or from outer space. Thoughts??

End of the Week and What Have You Done?

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This is what I worked on this week. It’s an illustration from my upcoming book about imagination.It’s not done but it’s close enough to show. It started as a sketch of three kids modeled after my daughter’s kids and blossomed into what it is now.

I ask the question of you like I ask the question of myself. What have I done this week, this day, etc Most of the time we are on auto-pilot and don’t think too much about what we’re doing. We have house chores, bills to pay, assignments to complete, kids to take care of etc. The thought of having another goal or task is overwhelming, especially a personal goal. So those goals like I’m gonna write a children’s book or create a painting seems like it can wait.However taking it in small does you can accomplish a lot. That’s how I approached this art and all the other projects I set for myself.

If this resonates with you you may want to read “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy or Small Move Big Change by Caroline Arnold.

Keep up the good work, watch for the Spring Edition of the Journal and much more to come!

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For those of you who don’t know Zaha’s work here is a reprint from Arch Daily. What is especially relevant to us as artists is how she started building her ideas in architectural masterpieces. The process is one of discovery which is relevant any form of artwork. What we do at the highest level is not paint-by-numbers, it is exploring the possibilities from all angles…literally and figuratively. I’ve found that the most I explore my tools and my ideas the stronger they become. I encourage you to do the same. Read about Zaha and strive to be great!

Dame Zaha Mohammad HadidDBERA (Arabicزها حديد‎‎ Zahā Ḥadīd; 31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) was an Iraqi-born British architect. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Ordrupgaard Museum Extension1 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid ArchitectsPhaeno Science Centre 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid ArchitectsTerminus Multimodal Hoenheim Nord1 2001. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid ArchitectsRosenthal Center for Contempoary Art 2003 . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects+11

A year after her untimely passing, we take a look back on one of the hallmarks of Zaha Hadid’s career as an architect: her sketches. In October we wrote about how her paintings influenced her architecture. Now, we examine her most emblematic sketches and the part they played in the initial formal exploration of her design process.

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Terminus Multimodal Hoenheim Nord1 2001. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Terminus Multimodal Hoenheim Nord1 2001. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
 
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Phaeno Science Centre 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Phaeno Science Centre 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
 

Drawings, whether done by hand or digitally, are the result of a personal, intimate process of thinking through a project and setting a path for the general development of the design. Possessing different characteristics and intensities, each sketch is a reflection of the author’s thoughts–acting as both a kind of signature and the theoretical seed of a larger process. Some architects use sketches to define details and create their design from that starting point, some use the drawing itself to determine the form of a project, and other architects draw the context in order to imagine the specific location of their project.

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Rosenthal Center for Contempoary Art 2003 . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Rosenthal Center for Contempoary Art 2003 . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
 
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Rosenthal Center for Contempoary Art 2003 . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Rosenthal Center for Contempoary Art 2003 . Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
 

Zaha’s exceptional, unique sketches don’t have much to do with concrete visions of what a project will eventually be. On the contrary, her drawings are profoundly influenced by her admiration for artistic abstraction. The beauty lies in the formal liberty that Hadid mines as she approaches what will eventually become her buildings. The drawings depict formal exercises, spatial conceptualizations, compositions, construction systems, structures, or contextual relationships (among other things). They are an invitation to use the liberty gifted to us by the act of drawing.

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Phaeno Science Centre 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Phaeno Science Centre 2005. Image Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects
 

This Week In The Arts: The Archives

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As we go through our “archive spring cleaning we wanted to highlight some of our more interesting interviews. The PodCast will be a regular feature on our site moving forward with interviews and views that will entertain and enlighten.


//percolate.blogtalkradio.com/offsiteplayer?hostId=201663

Life’s a Beach: With Her First Show in New York, Agnès Varda Gives Herself the Right to Become an Artist

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This story about Agnés Varda is enlightening in that it shows how careers evolve. While it may not be your intention to be a gallery artist when you start out you may end up one in your later years. As someone who has had multiple careers this is something that is not uncommon to me. I believe most artists have to deal with this reality to support their creativity.

While we all can’t be in New York for this show we can view some of her work here and google for more.

 

Take is keep on doing what you’re doing. Keep your vision alive while being truthful with who you are as a creative person. If you are not meeting your expectation then start changing things until you do. You only fail when you stop working and give up.

Agnès Varda, Autoportrait morcelé, 2009, digital photograph on Plexiglas.©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

Agnès Varda, Autoportrait morcelé, 2009, digital photograph on Plexiglas.

©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

By her own calculation, Agnès Varda has had three lives, each corresponding to different parts of her career. “I have been a photographer, then I turned into a filmmaker, then I turned into a visual artist,” she told me earlier this month, adding that she didn’t need anyone’s approval to keep changing. “I gave myself the right to become a visual artist.”

Though canonized in the history of cinema, Varda’s work including installations, sculptures, and photography has been little-seen in New York. But now on view at the Upper East Side gallery Blum & Poe is the French New Wave filmmaker’s first-ever New York solo show: a survey of five decades of art from Henri Cartier-Bresson–like photographs from the 1950s to video installations from the 21st century.

When Varda and I spoke at the beginning of March in the gallery’s back room, I was warned that she might be tired and might not have much time, but the 88-year-old artist seemed happy to be there for the opening of her exhibition, which runs through April 15. By her own admission, she is a “talkative person.” She wears her dyed red hair with a skullcap-like circle of white at the top and chats vivaciously.

Agnès Varda, Bienvenida à Veules-les-Roses, 1954, vintage silver print mounted on hardboard.TK

Agnès Varda, Bienvenida à Veules-les-Roses, 1954, vintage silver print mounted on hardboard.

©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

In the show, Varda reflects on her past work, often re-staging old photographs and playfully messing with the boundaries between film and reality. “What is time? What is memory? What is imagination? What is one picture?” Varda asked, rhetorically. “Images are so important in my life and in everybody’s life. Imagination nourishes our look at an image. One picture doesn’t exist if no one looks at it.”

She explained that she had been keeping tabs on the art world for many decades. Since she was 18, Varda studied modern art—“Braque, Picasso, Rouault, all these people,” she said. And she was there during the ’50s and ’60s when artists throughout France drastically broke away from the oil-on-canvas formula. She recalled Nam June Paik’s early experiments with video, which excited her because they were, in her estimation, “very new.”

Around that time, she garnered critical acclaim for her film Cléo from 5 to 7, a masterpiece about a Parisian woman who awaits news about a biopsy. Will those results include news that she has cancer? For 90 minutes, the film follows Cléo in real time, observing her as she frets about the results and her own mortality. But, like most Varda productions, it has a light touch—there are musical numbers and a subplot involving a budding romance.

“I’ve always been trying to make work without the truth of cinema,” Varda said. Film is “obviously image and sound, but also time. You can feel the time—90 minutes to 90 minutes. But you can’t tell a story over ten years and make it under two hours!” Her feature films, which have earned top honors at the Venice and Cannes Film Festivals, reflect on time, the slippery divide between fiction and reality, and film itself.

Agnès Varda, La terrasse du Corbusier, Marseille (1956)/Les gens de la terrasse (2008), 2012, black and white digital C-print, color/sound video projection with English subtitles.©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

Agnès Varda, La terrasse du Corbusier, Marseille (1956)/Les gens de la terrasse (2008), 2012, black and white digital C-print, color/sound video projection with English subtitles.

©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

Though she didn’t make her first art-world appearance until 2003, dressed as a potato at the Venice Biennale, Varda began her career as a photographer in the ’50s. Some of her early photographs draw influence from Magnum, creating striking black-and-white tableaux composed along sharp diagonals. In one, a nude man stares at the ocean while a boy stares at a dead goat that has tumbled down a cliff and fallen on the beach next to them.

Varda recalled saying to herself, in 1982, when she looked back on the photograph, “I have to question that image.” She made a film called Ulysse that imagined what would have led to that picture—a technique she used again for a 1956 photograph of people in Marseilles that appears in the Blum & Poe show. For a 2008 film, Varda carefully restaged the old photograph, offering a brief narrative for the picture’s protagonists: a couple holding a baby, a woman taking their picture, and two people observing the landscape. “In a way, my question was, ‘Did they put themselves in the mise-en-scène?’ ” she said. “But it was chance—chance put them there at the right moment to take the picture.”

Varda’s cinematic imagination has remained, so a few works revel in the childlike glee that sometimes accompanies filmmaking. Two miniature sculptures in the show take the form of a shipwreck and a shack, their walls formed by strips of celluloid prints of Varda’s first two feature films, La Pointe Courte and Le Bonheur. What, she wondered, would happen to her films when they went unused? “I’m not the one who decided you can no longer screen films,” she said. “I spent my life with 35mm, then 16mm, then video—I did everything. But what do we do with all that equipment, all that material?” It’s also a way of reflecting on her filmography. “I’m not living in the past, but I’m reviving it and reinventing reality,” she said.

Agnès Varda, Bord de Mer, 2009, digital HD projection, Blu-ray aspect 16:9 color/sound video projection, sand.©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

Agnès Varda, Bord de Mer, 2009, digital HD projection, Blu-ray aspect 16:9 color/sound video projection, sand.

©AGNÈS VARDA/COURTESY BLUM & POE, LOS ANGELES, NEW YORK, AND TOKYO/GENEVIEVE HANSON

So why not create a work in which fantasies become reality? That was the thinking behind Bord de Mer, a 2009 installation that recreates a seascape. It’s one-third still photograph, one-third looped video of crashing waves, and one-third real sand—all displayed on the floor and a wall. Asked about the work, Varda responded, as she often does, with questions: “How can we bring such a strong of feeling of the seaside, which has sky, ocean, and earth—the three elements of the Earth? And how can we make it in a real room, with one photo becoming cinema becoming sand? Are these elements enough to make you feel like you know the seaside—to make you feel like you’re there?” (She noted that one thing is missing: people playing games. “I hate sports, so no swimming, no sailing!”)

Standing in front of the work can be a hypnotic experience. Although the video and its soundtrack are looped, the work seems to go on forever. Yet it’s just two images—one moving, one still—and some sand. It isn’t a beach, but because of the play between real and reel worlds, it certainly feels like one. “I give myself a structure,” Varda said, “and I allow my mind to go elsewhere.”

Copyright 2017, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. 110 Greene Street, 2nd Fl., New York, N.Y. 10012. All rights reserved.

Embrace the Beast!

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“The most enriching rewards for creative endeavor are intrinsic; that is, the reward is in the pleasure the creator takes in doing the work itself, and in achieving the result, and not from the pay or the prize.”  – Jane Piirto

Monday Morning is here again and here’s some food for thought to start your day. If you’re creative and you enjoy doing whatever fuels the creativity do it. Don’t worry about how good you are or whether you’ll get rewarded for your work. That is not the point. It’s taken me a long time to realize I am driven to create. Though I’ve tried to suppress this urge and do things that are “more practical” in terms of making a living or creating wealth, I cannot hide from the fact I need to create. So I embrace the beast. I don’t try and tame it, rather I am riding it and enjoying the journey.

 

Professor Jane Piirto, in her book Creativity for 21st Century Skills covers the motivation to create.

She writes, “The main cause for creativity is that the creative person wants to be creative, in whatever domain he or she is working – whether it be woodworking in the basement, dancing, acting, drawing, singing, doing science, mathematics, inventing, being an entrepreneur, being an athlete, cooking, sewing, building, designing.

“People who are creative must have motivation. Creators intend to be creative, to make—something. People have to want to be creative. Creativity takes a long time and a certain amount of obsession.”

She thinks “Motivation is the only and main personality attribute that all creative people have and need.”

If you relate to this you are part of the tribe, so stop judging yourself so harshly and take comfort in the thought that millions of creative people all over the world are in the same boat. Piirto notes, “Creators must have the talent necessary to create in their area, and have had the environmental influence and support necessary.” 

I’m sure most creatives feel this way. The way to get there is to day by day practice your craft and seek support from those who can relate to what you’re doing. IT DOES NO GOOD AND IT’S TOXIC FOR YOUR SOUL TO SEEK APPROVAL FROM THOSE WHO DON’T GET IT!

“What are the rewards for being creative? Fame is not usually one of them.” Piirto quotes musician Mat Callahan: “I have never found any correlation between money and the effectiveness of the creative process and its results. Do I produce a demand for my creative work… do I produce marketable commodities? Maybe. Do I apply my energies to my creative work, regardless? Certainly. Continuously. Why? Because of the satisfaction I derive from the process itself and the pleasure it brings to others.”

I leave you with that. The results of your mindset, your talent and your work will dictate the outcome. Focus on the work and being the best you can. Embrace the beast, take it for a long ride and enjoy the journey.