Friday, March 27, 2015

Art requires Flexibility -- Yoga for Artists, intro for Lesson #1

ART is physical activity. 




 You live in your body -- and you need it in good shape to do your work.

We are all athletes at our jobs. We can't just urge the jocks to embrace their sensitive side. Us non-jocks need physical conditioning too :). The connection becomes obvious when artists talk about their chronic back, shoulder, neck and wrist pain.
 "Things happen for a reason"  isn't just a cliche -- it's also a way to understand our symptoms and interests. I had an epiphany about this a while back.. regarding my obsession with show jumping...
Yes, it's the horses -- but WHY this particular facet of horsemanship. In all the years that I rode, I stayed on the flat. Jumping was too risky for my tastes. The obsession comes from the images .... the beautiful metaphor for the effort it takes to overcome obstacles: Teamwork; Communication; Trust; and Practice, practice, practice....
Finding the courage to meet the challenge
and erase doubt with confidence...
Watch this example of rider Jessica Springsteen giving horse Lisona the pep talk before taking on a 6'10" jump in this You Tube clip of their winning round at the 2014 Puissance (high jump competition) at Washington Intl Horse Show.


The BEST artists I know struggle with  fear and anxiety that comes along with their creative process. On the Internet.. there are many photos of show jumpers along with quotes about trying to find balance with fear.
Balance is a key component of horsemanship -- you cannot ride well until your learn to find balance with your horse...
Being out of balance makes it impossible to clear the obstacles..
Successful riding is centered riding. The saddles, bridles and reins are just aids. In the photo below, a buckle has failed and the headstall of the bridle as slipped off the horse. Good riders don't panic....
 centered riding keeps you on course.

It's a balancing act to perform well in all the facets of  life ... that's the golden goal at the end of the rainbow. How can we get there???
Art and sport take practice. You don't get good overnight -- and you don't get better if you never try. Our bodies hurt because we are causing discomfort due to daily tasks we require our bodies to perform, while ignoring the strain these same tasks impose.  
Yoga is a way to practice being good to your body -- thanking it for the work it does for you, so you can continue to do your job in the world...

The question is -- WHAT are you practicing???


For too many of us .. our daily practice involves motions and poses that are actually HARMFUL over time. Decades of  workplace progress has replaced manual labor with automation and technology. But... desk work has turned "sitting" into the new "smoking." Everyone did for for so long, until we began to realize it was killing us.

The good news is .. there are lots of options to bring BALANCE to your daily practice.

If you are an artist -- or doing any job where you are standing or sitting for a long period of time, doing repetitive tasks ---  guess what??? You are practicing. Your on-going, daily practice of static poses and repetitive motions puts stress on your body. 
We can't escape the connection between the creative spirit and the physical self. 
We need to honor it. UNDO the harm imposed by culture and habits. Healing starts when we practice stretches and positions that release the tension from our necessary daily tasks. If you choose to ignore this option -- over time, your body will collapse from the strain.  This collapse could be physical -- from aches and pains, to more severe complications that require treatment such as physical therapy, medication or even surgery. If you decide to "power through" it ... you risk other damage as well...
Work that is repetitive or restricts your mobility keeping you at "desk work" for hours on end puts you in danger. Extended sitting, staying hunched over keyboards or sketch pads, these poses are silent threats to your productivity and well-being. Your aching back and shoulders are a warning. Ignoring the physical needs of the body you depend can trigger a breakdown: Physical; Emotional; Artistic; Spiritual. Damage in one area can launch a cycle of creative failures .. or worse..
Sometimes breakdowns in the journey can't be avoided -- but isn't it worth at least maintaining the wellness you have now, and perhaps even improving it? If you would advise a friend to make the effort, then be that friend for yourself too. Try some preventative steps to help keep yourself get back in balance to keep going strong and healthy....
Also ... art may be ageless .. but our bodies aren't. Loss of mobility means loss of ability and independence. Maintaining mobility takes strength and flexibility. If you are worn out, stiff and tired now .. how do you think you'll feel in 10, 20, or more years?? Most self-employed folks don't have a golden parachute retirement option. If you've got to count on yourself for the quality of life of your future years, make the good effort today to keep those years active (and cheaper)...
(art above by Roz Chast.. from her amazing book: "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?") 
Marathon-runner Peggy used to remind me that we can't complain about getting older: not everyone gets that privilege. For most of us, milestone birthdays that seem decades away are coming. And they keep coming. They are relentless. We HAVE to be in shape for the future. It's never too late to start....

Coming NEXT WEEK -- lesson #1. The Yoga Lessons here on the blog will focus on stretches you can do at your desk without special equipment. These lessons feature photos and video clips from yoga workshops held at SNB with certified Yoga instructor Simone. Help is coming for your aching back and shoulders! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Schoolism art education kickstarter and workshop


Big events from leading advocates of art education --- artists Bobby Chiu and Kei Acedera and company.


Not only do they have their own production outlet: Imagninism Studios. http://www.imaginismstudios.com/
(Perhaps best known for their character design work on the Tim Burton "Alice in Wonderland"). We also carry their book http://stuartngbooks.com/chui-and-acedera-pieces-of-wonderland.html

They are also the force behind the well known art eduation workshops at Schoolism http://www.schoolism.com/

This weekend! -- CLAIRE WENDLING -- rare personal appearance is the "bonus event" at this March 28-29 Toronto Workshop http://www.schoolism.com/workshop-toronto/


Now through May 20, 2015 -- this Kickstarter campaign will help bring more art education by industry icons to students worldwide...

Lots of levels to pledge -- WITH REWARDS --

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

MALEFICENT, BIRDMAN etc at Fashion Institue of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibiton


 If you are in the Los Angeles area, you can see the iconic Angelia Jolie Maleficent costume IN PERSON -- it's part of the "Art of Motion Picture Costume Design" exhibit (through April 25, 2015) a the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Museum, http://fidmmuseum.org/ 919 S. Grand Ave in downtown LA. The exhibit is free -- on-site parking is $5. Here's link to LA Times story about the exhibit...http://www.latimes.com/fashion/la-ig-fidm-exhibit-20150222-story.html




To help share the wealth of educational material provided at the exhibit, I brought back a few copies of the 15 page, double-sided, black and white xerox booklet, along with brochures and postcards. The xerox booklet has in depth commentary on many of the featured films, with quotes from the designers and descriptions from studio production notes. These are free and available in the Stuart Ng Books showroom. You'll find these and other educational/resource freebies near the checkout area.

From the booklet... "No matter what time period or genre in which the movie is set, there is one underlying thread common to all of them: each article of clothing was carefully researched to best represent the character wearing it, and the feel of the movie in which it is seen." Michael Black, Exhibition  Curator.

This year's exhibit features costumes from the following films: MALEFICENT (Anna B. Sheppard); MR. TURNER (Jacqueline Durran); BELLE (Anushia Nieradzik); NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB (Marlene Stewart): GURADIANS OF THE GALAXY (Alexandra Byrne); DRACULA UNTOLD (Ngila Dickson); EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (Janty Yates); X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (Louise Mingenbach); THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (Mary Claire Hannan -- FIDM Alumna); THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Steven Noble); THE IMITATION GAME (Sammy Sheldon Differ); THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL(Milena Canonero); BIG EYES (Colleen Atwood); THE GREAT GATSBY (Catherine Martin); JERSEY BOYS (Deborah Hopper); INTO THE WOODS (Colleen Atwood); SELMA (Ruth E. Carter) STEP UP ALL IN (Soyon An -- FIDM Alumna); GET ON UP (Sharen Davis); INHERENT VICE (Mark Bridges); GONE GIRL (Trish Summerville -- FIDM Alumna); BIRDMAN (Albert Wolsky)

Costumes in first room of exhibit...


costumes in second room...





Costumes from MALEFICENT....

Anna Sheppard, 2015 Oscar nominee for Maleficent on designing for the character... " The persona than comes to you straight from this film is Maleficent. The colors I used are similar to the Disney prints from that film. I think Maleficent looks exactly, in the big christening scene, as everyone expect her to be. This is Maleficent from the animated version, just more beautiful."











Costumes from DRACULA UNTOLD...




Costumes from GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY...


Costumes from BELLE ...




Costumes from NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB...







Costumes from BIRDMAN...

The exhibit booklet notes that the Birdman suit was designed by Mike Elizalde, a creature effects and prosthetics specialist, who was recommended to Birdman director Alejandro Inarritu for this assignment by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.

From the booklet: ".... Elizadle explains "Birdman was a psychological symbol of (character Riggan's) past, the thing that grounds him and also potentially can destroy him....." The design was a collaborative effort between Inarritu, (Michael) Keaton and Elizadle and his team: "Alejandro intentionally wanted to preserve what was familiar about Michael playing Batman. So parts of his face that are exposed are in the same sort of shape and proximity to Batman."


Costumes from THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (2015 Academy Award winner)





 Costumes from INTO THE WOODS ...
 From the booklet: "Atwood's inspiration for all her designs were the Woods, and many of the character's costumes included the texture of wood in some way. For instance, the witch's costume worn by Meryl Streep, was actually made from tiny pieces of leather that were stitched on to chiffon and then combined with leather that looked like cracked bark."




Costumes  from THE GREAT GATSBY (2014 Academy Award winner)

Costumes from SELMA..


Costumes from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS .... Don't underestimate the impact of "contemporary" costume choices .. plus they become "vintage"... then "period" sooner than you think :)
Designer and FIDM Alumna Mary Claire Hannan discusses her role in the filmmaking process: "Although my films are contemporary, if you look at them you can see that I am really studying the human condition. I am striking very different demographics, many types of people, interesting lifestyles, and choices.... My plight is to tell the story and I do it through clothing."
Costumes from X-MEN:DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.....



In addition to the exhibit space, the museum has its own bookstore....


 There's also a lovely outdoor park area near the entrance....
With a trio of fun sculptures frolicking in the grass....
 Don't miss the FIDM school bookstore as well....



Inspire an art student .. or re-kindle your own young artist enthusiasm .. with a visit to this beautiful and educational downtown spot.....http://fidm.edu/