Tuesday, August 19, 2008

So is it art, or am I a fraud?

I was over at some friend's, let's have them remain anonymous. We'll call them Hydrangea and Pefferson. Peff, for short, the husband, is an artist. His stuff is really cool, one of his paintings hangs in our front entrance. My husband, who can also remain nameless, we'll call him Topaz for today, thinks it's some sort of phallic symbol but I prefer to believe it is what it is, which is a Love Rocket. Hmmm.

Anyways, they had this piece of art in their living room that completely caught my eye. I mean it marched me over, stood me in front of it, and pretty much had me bowing down in front and salivating over it.

It was a piece of paper, and attached (still not sure how, we'll get to that later) are tiny crystals. Sparkling in the sunlight, these crystals glowed and shimmered and seemed to have a life of their own.

"Oh, you should get one," Hydrangea said. "Totally. Go to Peff's website, the art gallery that sells his stuff."

Trucking home as fast as I could I logged on and realized that it is not in this year's budget for me to have one of these gorgeous things.

But my longing, deep seated and hardcore, had taken hold. Once I'm in the grip of that longing I must pay it heed, come hell or high water.

I pondered, night and day. How could I make one of those pieces mine? I could volunteer my time at the gallery, maybe work one off. That seemed difficult. I'd have to arrange childcare, a feat in itself even for legitimate reasons. I'd have to work, something I'm not good at. I could borrow Peff and Hydrangea's, trade for their own painting. Not likely, if he wanted another Love Rocket he could paint his own.

Nothing came to mind. Until....

I could make my own. I could buy the crystals, get some paper, this would be fun! I could call it art! Isn't this what creative people do with their time? And I'm on frigging mat leave. When else in my entire life will I have the leisure, the free time to sit and painstakingly glue thousands of tiny crystals to a piece of paper.

*(If there was a formatting button on my computer, or this little screen came with a scrolly s for sarcasm, I would have turned it on for that whole last sentence, you know. I know all you moms got that without me having to point it out, and I know that all the men I know are reading this column faithfully, hoping for insights and tips on how to deal with the amazing superwomen in their lives...well, there was one, on a silver platter. Mat leave does not = life of leisure.)

I got some crystals, some paper, and begged Topaz to cut it with one of the really big paper cutters he has at his work. Much cajoling later and the paper was cut. The crystals were ready. I had a bottle of Stella's white craft glue all ready to go. And my tweezers, the crappy pair, that can never grab onto a stray eyebrow hair, to pick up the slippery little suckers.

You know what? It was fun. I was right. I'd turn on some music, at the time it was a trio of discs from Costco, reading music, I think they were labelled. It sounded like I was at a wedding, but no matter. The classical music, the sleeping baby, and the sunlight pouring in through the eight hundred windows we have on the back of our house made it seem perfect. This, I thought, this is how an artist lives.

Back to the bloody point, right? I get it, I get it. You don't care about inspiration, and how tough it was to glue those tiny little crystals that apparently do have a mind of their own, and how long it took.

So here is my question. I made my art, I had it framed, it hangs on my wall. And I love it. I had such fun doing it. It gave me the perfect break from all the time I spend in front of the computer. And you know, I want to make more and more. What better thing to do in the winter, I thought. I'll write in the mornings, make my art in the afternoons. I found a website and ordered $250 worth of better crystals (hopefully Topaz doesn't read this, I'm not technically on mat leave anymore so I have no money), in all shapes and sizes. I thought I might sell them at Bazaart. Imagine, how beautiful and sparkly they would be, sitting out there on the grass, catching the light.

But, and this is where I need your help. Is it art, or is it copying???

See, simple question if I saw a painting painted with acrylics and I said, "Gosh, I've never seen colours pop like that? Whatever is that medium?" And Jeff, I mean Peff, said to me, "Why, it's acrylic paint on canvas. Why don't you try it?" I would have no qualms, no qualms at all and I would just go ahead and paint with my acrylic paints and sell them at Bazaart (although they certainly wouldn't be as sparkly). But, this is something I've never seen before...is it within my rights to borrow his medium? Use it for myself?

Are there two questions here? Is it okay if I simply hang the pictures in my house? Does the answer change if I try to prosper off this endeavor? Is it the commercialization of it that changes your answer?

And one last, but equally important question. The freaking glue I used turned the paper yellow. What kind of glue would a real artist use?


Rae said...

First off it is great that you are exploring your artistic side. If you want to use someones Idea's you should really just ask them. Doing it yourself and hanging it in your own house is great, but if you want to try and sell your "copied art" then just ask peff. And maybe try making it your own a bit. Oh and about the glue go to micheals. They have a glue isle, try "tacky glue" it holds well and wont color the paper!

spinregina said...

Ah, see, this is how I learn. The art is by another artist; his name is John Noestheden (see the Nouveau Gallery link). I'm nervous to ask him!! But I think you are right. Best thing to do. And thanks for the tip on the glue - I'll give it a shot. A bit heartbreaking to put hours and hours in and then have the glue go all funny!

spinregina said...

And I learn again. The Nouveau Gallery website is www.nouveaugallery.com, it's AMAZING, check it out. And I did try to make it my own, I promise! When I pick up my camera from the beach where I think I left it, I'll take a snap and post it.

rae said...

There is some amazing art at Nouveau Gallery! I seen the pictures that you were talking about. WOW! i want to copy them now too.

mark said...

everything is copying if you think about it. As long as you aren't sitting down and copying it exactly you are more like being inspired by it. To say you are copying is like saying if you paint with watercolors that you are copying Monet or something. So I say its not fraud.

spinregina said...

Honestly, that is how I feel about it. But I guess I'm pretty new to this, and thought I'd put it out there...get some feedback. Inspired, I like that. Even hommage...maybe.

Anonymous said...

You can't claim ownership of a medium, unless you have a patent for it. :)