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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Give Up? No Way!!


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  1. steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.
    “his perseverance with the technique illustrates his single-mindedness”
    synonyms: persistencetenacitydeterminationstaying power, indefatigability, steadfastness, purposefulness;

    The word for the day is Perseverance. Who said this would be easy? It’s not. I’ve talked to enough successful illustrators and artists to know they too have their trials and tribulations.

    What they do have that you may not is the will to continue despite all odds. They know that success, however you see it, is obtained by contsnace and vigil work habits. No matter what the outcome. If you have a goal and you focus and work towards that goal you will get there.

    Here are some great quotes from successful people who know what it’s like to persevere

    Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.

    Thomas Carlyle

    You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.

    Maya Angelou

    Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

    Calvin Coolidge

    Look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred-and-first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not the last blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

    Jacob A. Riis

    It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

    Albert Einstein

    I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.

    Og Mandino

    Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.

    Barack Obama

    When you get into a tight place, and everything goes against you till it seems as if you couldn’t hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that’s just the place and time that the tide’ll turn.

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

Happy Birthday Rosalind Allchin!


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Rosalind is a terrific illustrator and storyteller as her book The Frog Princess can attest to.

The creator of The Frog Princess, a delightful fractured fairy tale, Rosalind Allchin describes herself thus: “I think I’m an illustrator who writes stories. I start off with some kind of visual image, probably of a character. Although I’ve never had any formal art training, I’ve always been interested in the visual arts. When I was in my teens, we used to go family camping in Europe, and visiting the art galleries in Italy was a wonderful introduction. However it’s only relatively recently that I’ve taken up a brush myself.”
Although presently a resident of Ottawa, Ontario, Rosalind was born in West Sussex on the south coast of England on March 26, 1949, the second of four children and the only girl. “We all went to the local primary (elementary) school, and those years I remember as a lovely period in my life, full of painting and reading stories.

In talking about her approach to illustrating, Rosalind says, “I tend to complete each picture before moving to the next one. Sometimes there are perspectives that I can’t work out. For example, the picture on page 14 in which the Frog Princess is jumping down from the royal balcony took me ages. I actually made little sculpture clay heads of the prince, his bodyguard and the queen. Faces look so different from different angles. I’ve learned of the magic of mirrors. Sometimes a drawing just doesn’t look quite right, but it ‘s difficult to see quite where the error lies. But viewing the drawing differently, through a mirror, magically jolts the perceptions and the problem is revealed.”
Picture books, even fractured fairy tales, require research. “Out of interest, I borrowed a lot of library books on costume. Over five hundred years of medieval life, styles changed dramatically, not to mention differences between classes and between countries. I’ve actually mixed periods.”
“I work a lot, but I guess I’m really slow. I go up to my desk every day except one day a week when I pot, a wonderful therapy. I rent space in a studio which is nice because I meet other people. I have a wheel and am hoping in the near future to buy my own kiln. It’s good to have something constructive to do when I’m having problems writing or drawing. I have a lovely attic space where I work. I’m gradually acquiring all sorts of amazing things, like a scanner which will make sending off manuscripts easier. I used to photograph the art or get color copies made which is very expensive.”
“I have four or five stories more or less written up. I find the writing quite hard in terms of creating language that is clear and simple and yet interesting. It’s so easy for it to fall flat. My initial writing tends to be much too long winded, and I am getting better at ruthless cutting. As soon as I’ve got the story idea worked out, I play around dividing it into pages and thinking about the pictures and how I can have a different action or setting on each page. Right from the start really, I’m working the two things together.”

Source: Profile by Dave Jenkinson/Canadian Review of Materials

For More

My Phone Call With A Giant!


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Illustration by Kinuko Y. Craft for an article in Playboy Magazine, December of 1981 or 1982 “Liberty and Justice”

There are very few times in life you get a chance to talk with a giant in your field of endeavor. The other night I got to do just that, I spoke with Kinuko Y. Craft, master illustrator and one of the few females to regularly get published in Playboy magazine during it’s heyday. Her work has also appeared in and on the cover of many magazines and in numerous picture books. Awards for her work are too numerous to name however it bears mentioning that she was voted in the NY Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame in 2008. And this quote by famed writer Ray Bradbury sums it up “Kinuko Craft is a Renaissance woman. By this I mean not that she paints like the Renaissance painters, but that she is an artist for all seasons, for all kinds of subjects, and in all kinds of styles. If you will survey her works, you will find little duplication in form, color or texture. She fits herself to her subject with charming ease and yet leaves herself free to remain herself. There is an air about all of her illustrations of one who is a true connoisseur of art, wide-ranging through all the countries of the world. One cannot help but think how delightful it would be to walk into gallery of her kaleidoscopic talents.”

The other night I was walking my dogs to the park and my phone rang. I picked it up and this girlish voice with a slight accent starts talking, introducing herself as Kinuko Craft. I was dumbfounded. We started our conversation and she told me she’d be happy to give me an interview for the upcoming issue of the Illustrators Journal. We spoke for about 10 minutes while my dogs did their business occasionally staring at me wondering why I wasn’t paying attention to them. How could I explain the joy I was having connecting with one of the illustration goddesses I admired. After a few minutes I told Kinuko I’d love to call her back and that my dogs were getting restless so I should pay attention to them. She laughed and told me how much she loved her dog and she understood.

Later that night I called her back and we had a delightful conversation for an hour and a half. The contents of that talk will appear in the next Journal coming out in April, so please come back and visit us, because we’re gonna start rockin n’ rollin’ with all sorts of great interviews and articles.


Next up…Political cartoonist Mark Stamaty whose work has appeared in too many magazines and publications to count especially his cover art for the Village Voice. We are also expecting original work done for us by Millenial superstar artist Molly Crabtree!

Post &Repeat Post &Repeat Post &Repeat


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I’ve been listening to inspirational and educational info all day. Not about art or illustration but about real estate. Whoa, back up, yes I’m a real estate agent. I actually split my time between art and business. However, and this is important, I am an artist first. The real estate came after my career as an art director/creative director. I first invested in renovating houses, then I got my license because I wanted to have a business that wasn’t age sensitive. I still spend a lot of my time creating as evidence shows above in an illustration I created for Lucy: The Lavender Elephant

Anyways, I’ve been listening to Peter Lorimer of PLG Estates in Los Angeles talking about social media and how it helps drive branding and business. Peter comes from the music business and entered real estate 12 years ago. He is very successful now. So how does this relate to me and you as artists?

It relates because we are all in business whether it’s as an artist or a real estate agent. And social media is a vehicle that anyone can use to generate business leads and brand themselves. The key is what you’re posting and how consistently you post. What you shouldn’t do is expect instant return on your time investment. Hence Post &Repeat, Post &Repeat, Post &Repeat. Tweak along the way, sculpt your message to fit your vision but don’t worry about the outcome right away. If your vision is unique enough and peaks interest business will come.

Now I say this as I’m trying to generate business myself. I’m speaking to you out there but I am also to speaking to myself. We’re relaunching the Illustrators Journal and our art business and will try and improve it each time we approach a story or an article. It’s for us as much as it is for you. Keep up the good work and never, never , never give up the dream. and we won’t either