Wanderings of an artist in the trenches.

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Limiting the Lines


 
 
Readers of this blog will recall that I was invited to Germany to work on the Black.Light project with several international artists. You can read the account of that trip here:
 
 
While there I got to meet Danijel Zezelj whose work I have loved for quite awhile, and watch him at work with his rollers and acrylic paint. I was struggling with a way to approach the work I was to do for that project because I didn’t want to just do what I normally do.
 
Upon arriving there I immediately fell into just doing pen and ink drawings. And they were fine, but they weren’t killing me. They didn’t capture the raw and brutal nature of the genocide. I wanted something much more simple and blunt. I had been working with putty knives at home and asked if they would take me to get a set.
 
That was a transformative decision for me. Because I couldn’t noodle with a putty knife the work took on a more direct and edgy feel. They were so much more suggestive than the pen drawings I was doing. I felt very good at that point about where I was headed. I felt that I had found something that almost felt tribal, like cave paintings.

George Pratt – 15 black lines, 8 white

Watching Danijel work with the rollers was mesmerizing and took me back to printmaking days and my work with monotypes. Upon returning home I got my rollers from my print studio and began attacking the final Black.Light pieces with both rollers and putty knives. I was very happy with the results. Danijel is certainly the master of the rollers and I’m so appreciative that he turned me onto them again. They’re the perfect counterpoint to detail.

George Pratt – 15 black lines with roller

I teach an Advanced Representational Drawing class and got the students messing with the rollers and the putty knives. I was very apprehensive the first time out with them on those tools. I really thought it was going to turn into a cluster. But they clicked right into it and were quickly doing some of what I believe are their best drawings. It forces them to simplify.

The problem I ran into the other day was that the students all seemed to be falling into a mode where they were trying to do basically greyscale paintings. As a result the drawings suffered. They weren’t really “seeing” what was in front of them because they were too busy trying to blend everything and take it to some place more like painting. Lots of fixing going on rather than trusting in the marks the were making. Lots of blending and softening and what they would end up with was a tepid, sort of lackadaisical drawing that wasn’t really a drawing and wasn’t really a painting.

George Pratt – 15 black lines with roller

So I made them stop and squeeze out only black acrylic. I told them they could use fifteen lines with only a roller and black. Each mark could be something like five to eight inches long, depending on how long the paint would hold out, which wasn’t long. Lots of groans. Haha! But they dug in.

George Pratt – 15 black lines with roller


George Pratt – 15 black lines and 5 white lines with roller

The pose ended up being something like eight- to ten minutes. One student, as you’ll see, kept count of the strokes on the side of his drawings.

Student Mark O. working in class


George Pratt

 

Student Sam W. working in class.


Student Brooke S. working in class.

 

George Pratt – 15 black lines and 5 white lines with roller

This was a wakeup call for the students. Suddenly each mark had to mean something. They had to be frugal and zero in on the best use of each mark. What they couldn’t do was to cover up their mistakes or, to quote Scott Hampton, polish turds.

George Pratt – 15 black lines and 5 white lines with roller

They were the best drawings they’d done. Everyone was surprised (except me).

Alex Pitthan’s 15 black lines


Mark Orzechowski’s 15 lines.


Mark Orzechowski


Mark Orzechowski


Rachel Ciaramella


Gabriel Gomez


Gabriel Gomez

So we did that for awhile, then I told them they could have fifteen strokes with black and five strokes with white, using only a roller. Now they were excited and dove right in. Again, beautiful drawings resulted. No longer were they meandering around being noncommittal. The lines they were putting down were to the point and essential. 

Mark Orzechowski

Today we did it all again, but they could have eight white lines instead of just five.

It will now be interesting to see where this newfound confidence leads them in other media.

Johnny Winter February 23, 1944 – July 16, 2014


Johnny Winter by George Pratt for d’Addario Guitar Strings

 

This was originally written and posted on Facebook. I’ve added a little here and there and am including some images from my sketchbooks.

Saddened by the death of Johnny Winter.

I’m from the same hometown of Beaumont, Texas and was incredibly fortunate to get to meet Johnny at his home in New York in the 1990’s.

Johnny Winter Rehearsing

I was working on my blues book and a friend of my mother said I should talk to Johnny Winter about the book. I didn’t know if she was serious or not. But she immediately called Johnny’s mother and mentioned to her that Johnny and I should get together. I thought that would be the end of that.

Johnny Winter Rehearsing

 However, when I got back to New York there was a message on my answering machine: “Hi, this is Johnny Winter and my mom says I should call you.” I was flabbergasted.

And in the strange way that synchronicity works I was called the next day by the art director for d’Addario Guitar Strings to do a portrait of Johnny for a calendar and poster they were producing. I sent my sketches to them which they routed past Johnny’s agent who did not like them. I called Johnny and asked him if I could just run the sketches by him personally. He agreed and had me come to his home.

 He and his wife were so warm, friendly and generous! I talked with Johnny about my book and then showed him the sketches for the d’Addario piece. He picked one out that he liked and I said I’d do a painting of that one. “What if I don’t like the finish?” He asked. I told him I’d do another one until he was satisfied.

While I was there I played Johnny a recording I had made of Jack Owens who was living in Bentonia, Mississippi, where Skip James was from. Before listening to the piece Johnny mentioned that some people claim that the dirt in that town contributed to Skip James great voice and playing, but he felt that it was just Skip James. After listening to Jack play the song Johnny exclaimed, “Man, I’ve got to go to Bentonia and roll around in that dirt!” It was fun, because I had played Jack (93 years old at the time) some of Johnny’s music and he loved it. “He’s a note man, like me!”

Jack Owens, Bentonia, Mississippi, 1993

 I went home and painted the piece. In order to get his approval on the finish, Johnny said I should bring the painting to his rehearsal at Sony Records. I was psyched! I dragged the painting, which was a large oil, on the subway to the recording studio and he ended up loving it, as did his agent who was also there.

 Johnny told me to just hang out while they rehearsed. I was walking on air! I got a private 3- to 4-hour concert of Johnny and his band jamming like you wouldn’t believe. In-between songs he would tell stories about all the old bluesmen and their songs. Just incredible. While I listened I filled a sketchbook with drawings. They’re simple sketches, more about the energy rather than me trying to really capture a likeness. But I thought I’d throw some of them out here for you to see.

 When Steve Budlong, James McGillion and I finished our blues documentary we entered it into the New York International Independent Film Festival and invited Johnny to the screening. Our minds were blown when he actually came, stepping out of a limo and sitting down to watch our film. We won Best Feature Documentary at that festival.

Johnny’s playing is amazing and so unique. I love the way he belted out his voice, always reaching, never settling. Always giving it his all.

He’ll definitely be missed!

PS: An aside about the painting for d’Addario. The painting was purchased by d’Addario for their collection, but was in the Society of Illustrators show that year and published in their annual. When I went to pick the piece up I left the Society, which is uptown Manhattan and entered the subway. It was rush hour. I was beat. The painting was large. I had to wait awhile for a train, which was pretty usual back then. My route required lots of train changes in order to get to Brooklyn. Anyway, I was so beat I got on the train and was zooming along when I realized that I had left the painting on the platform!!!! Cripes!!! I was freaking out! I had already been paid for the original and was going to be shipping it when I got home. My heart leapt into my throat! I sat there freaking out waiting for the next stop. I bolted from the car and ran full out over to the platform across the way to get on the next train going back the way I’d come. Wait. Wait. Wait. Finally a train! It couldn’t move fast enough for me! I just knew that painting was going to be gone by the time I got there, and it would serve me right.

However, the train pulled in and I ran out scanning up and down the platform. Ahead I could see a group of old ladies crowded around something on the platform. They had my painting and were trying to see if there was a name or an address on it. Sweet relief! I couldn’t believe the piece was still there.

The painting and I got home safely, and it made it to d’Addario just fine. All’s well that ends well.

GEORGEPRATT.COM Website Total Overhaul


The new face of GeorgePratt.com

It’s been years, really, since I’ve made an effort to post to my www.georgepratt.com website, much less do a complete overhaul of the thing. The main reason was the thought of having to go back into Dreamweaver and mess with all that was just too daunting for me. The other reason has been that I really enjoyed the simplicity of this blog and being able to just fire away and post things pretty much effortlessly. But I knew that I would have to take the plunge sometime. Obviously it’s been later rather than sooner. But better late than never!

I migrated the site to Squarespace and I have to say that it’s so much more enjoyable than messing with Dreamweaver. If I could have kept my site at it’s original host Dreamhost I would have. They’ve been incredible, really. They still will manage my domain name and all. But in order to utilize Squarespace one has to work with their setup. But it’s been flawless.

I hope you’ll take the time to scope everything out. I’ve expanded the site and have hopefully broken it down into manageable chunks according to media and projects.

GeorgePratt.com Navigation

There’s a sizeable sketchbook section where I’m constantly scanning my sketchbooks and posting.

A constantly growing sketchbook section!

And I’ve also updated to include a Shop where you can purchase original art, prints and books. It’s in its infancy, but is growing constantly.

The Shop has Fine Art…


Watercolors in the Shop.


Drawings in the Shop


Monotypes in the Shop

 

Black.Light

Next to that is the Sequential Art Shop where you can see work from my graphic novels and mini-series. I’ve already posted lots of panels from my Wolverine: Netsuke mini-series from Marvel, and a pile of Batman licensing art. I will be posting work from Batman: Harvest Breed as well, though these are mostly fully painted pages, rather than just panels.

The Sequential Art Shop has cover work and content from Graphic Novels and Mini-Series.



Above the Dreamless Dead originals in the Sequential Art Shop


Wolverine: Netsuke


Batman


Magic Card Originals

 

Anyway, I welcome comments and suggestions about the site and I hope you enjoy perusing it all.

BlogPad Pro


Was on the Apple App Store earlier today checking out one of their “Editor’s Choice” type of pitches. This one was titled “Apps for Writers” and I was excited to see what they would be putting in there to entice writers toward. I’m a nut for writing apps and have tried piles of them. But this little post is not about all the different apps I love to play with in regards to writing. Looking through their list I was upset by Apple’s choices for blogging software, most notably the absence of BlogPad Pro!

 

 

I’ve been writing my Blog entirely on my iPad for some time now and BlogPad Pro is my go-to app. And I’m amazed and dismayed that BlogPad Pro is not one of the first apps on this list.

I don’t get it! One of the ones on this list, Posts, has the worst customer support on the planet. Actually, having the worst customer support would be like saying they HAVE customer support. But they never responded one single time to any of the emails I sent requesting assistance! I wanted to like it, and there were things about it that I did like. But I ended up having to massage the text and the images SO much that I couldn’t take it anymore. Chunks of my life were taken away from me. Life is too short. And coupled with absolutely NO response from the creator, I tossed it. It used to cost money. Now it’s free. Free? You get what you pay for.

I have to tell you, I’ve tried all the blogging apps and for my money BlogPad Pro is the easiest to use (and you can also read most fun to use, as well), along with the best technical support bar none. I’m wondering how Apple made their choices. Not that all of them are bad. There’s a couple that are pretty nice and were ones I used before the kind folks at BlogPad Pro released their offering. But once BlogPad Pro was out, it was all over but the crying.

Blogsy was convoluted and difficult for me to wrap my head around. Simple things were not simple. I tried to use it, but eventually gave up on it.

I did like BlogPress but, as I said, BlogPad Pro won me over. But BlogPress was a solid app and fairly enjoyable to use.

The WordPress app was atrocious. Buggy, crashed all the time. I gave up very quickly on it and never looked back.

If you’d like to read my original post on BlogPad Pro here’s the link:

BlogPad Pro: A Shameless Plug

 I realize that this is also a shameless plug, but dammit, when you find something that makes your life easier you want to shout it from the rooftops! The two people I’ve had interaction with from BlogPad Pro are Dino and Mary. They’ve been so damn helpful and kind and considerate and have made this software something wonderful. They’re busting their asses on this thing and struggling to make it all worthwhile and I’m blown away that apps of lesser quality are getting the nod from Apple! It makes no sense to me.

So, I’m yelling from the rooftop here and imploring you to download this app and give it a shot and support some developers that really deserve it. You won’t be sorry.

Features include:

  • Supports WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress blogs
  • Manage multiple WordPress blogs all in one app, even with different user accounts
  • Offline or airplane mode – save content locally if you don’t have an internet connection to stop you losing work
  • One-click sync to upload all your changes when you go back online
  • WYSIWYG editing: style your posts with a touch of a button. No coding required!
  • AutoSaving of Posts and Pages – never lose your work because of unforeseen issues
  • Conflict Management – never unwillingly overwrite your work (or that of others) when working on a multi-user blog or when changes are made from different devices
  • Write and edit raw html – although with our great WYSIWYG editor you may never want to!
  • Easily find that post or media item you’re looking for with our search and filtering options
  • Check, manage and reply to blog comments on the go
  • Easily add images from your iPad, a url or your WordPress media library

Here’s a link to their site:

BlogPad Pro 

Outdoor Architecture


I hope this post does not offend anyone, but the contents of an old envelope from my grandfather brought a smile to my face and I thought I’d regale you with what was inside. 

I come from a long line of image makers and storytellers, and though there are gaps here and there in the lineage, they’re not massive gaps. My great grandfather, George Pratt (I’m the fourth — and, yes my son is the fifth!), was a professional photographer in Paris, Texas before the great fire there.

George H. Pratt Sr. and George H. Pratt Junior.


 

Pratt Studio, Paris, Texas

He passed that on to his son, my grandfather, who, though he was not a professional photographer, did shoot piles and piles of film from the 1920’s on into the late 1970’s. He was a lineman (I think that’s what he did) for Gulf Oil and would practically live on the road while scouting and purchasing parcels of land for the next wells. We have incredible footage of the old oil boom days, not to mention wild footage of my father, his older sister (Mary) and younger brother (my uncle Joe who studied law, but is a great painter and pastel artist) as children in the panhandle town of Amarillo.

George H. Pratt Jr. working a well (date unknown).

My grandfather was a neat old guy who had a pipe consistently clenched between his teeth and a cloud of aromatic smoke wafting about his head. He loved his Jack Daniels Whiskey and when grandmother cut him down to one drink a day he basically nursed a giant tumbler filled with JD. In fact, that was part of his cure for us when we were little and had a cold or sore throat: One shot of Jack Daniels with honey. Ouch!

One of four JD labels found in the same envelope.

 

Jack Daniels label.

 

JD Label.

 

And another JD label.


He was always agreeable and had a ready smile on his face. When the family was hanging out, sitting around talking, and if the conversation wasn’t interesting to him, he would reach up and turn off his hearing aid and bask in his own personal silence. He would ride us children, one at a time, on his knee, and if we scratched his pure white hair he would feign sleep, only waking up when we stopped scratching. When he drove (he was in his 80’s) he would pull up to a stop light, wait a bit, then announce to us, “I’ve waited long enough!” He’d drive right on through it and carry on about his business. He always said that the streets in my home town were designed by a drunk man chasing a snake.

George H. Pratt Jr. in the field.


When my aunt Mary was having a slumber party (I’m assuming this was the Depression) my grandfather had “prepared” the house for the girls beforehand, replacing all the lights in their room with flash bulbs. When the girls flipped the switch and the flash bulbs popped, grandad bounded into the room carrying his shotgun, throwing open the window looking for the culprit. He used to nail peanuts to tree limbs and watch the squirrels struggle with the nuts.

George H. Pratt Jr. in the field.


 He was quite a character who, for some reason, always reminded me of Humphrey Bogart. Don’t know why, but he did then, and does still in my memory where he still calls me “Bud”. He carried on all kinds of personal correspondence with various personages. One in particular was PT Hanlen, the creator of “Alley Oop!” the comic strip caveman.

What I always loved to hear were my grandfather’s stories of the wildcatter’s out in the fields of the early oil days and the conditions of the camps and hotels. Stories of guys who could find oil with their bare feet, even in the snow or with divining rods. Of rats running and sliding down the wall paper and sagging ceilings of the old hotels. The pranks they would pull on each other and how there was this neat code of honor with the various guys he knew and had to work with.

Digging about my studio recently gathering photographic material for my blues book I came across an envelope that I had forgotten that I had from my grandfather. 

Using his old Underwood typewriter grandad described the  contents perfectly (though, the Jack Daniels labels were also inside).

The Motherlode.


In it was an even older envelope dated 1930 addressed to my grandfather and sent by a buddy of his, F. M. (Doc) Seibert.

 

The motherlode within the motherlode.


I  love the old handwriting from that time period. Just beautiful! Inside this envelope was a two-page handwritten letter in lead pencil (or were they using graphite by then?) on Gulf Pipe Line Company – Telegraph Service stationery.

Houston – Harris Co. Texas, July 21- ’30

Dear Lem: —

She shore is hell Lem to belong to that there “Reconstructed Assholes Corporation.” I’ll tell yer why. First. Tho it is disconcertin to have them grapes, or strawberries, or what ever it is that feller has protrudin like from the old exit; it don’t do yerself a mite-o-good to have that there joint so so of 10 inch er maybe it is only 6 5/8 a stickin there where you knows that if she makes a “head” er two she will raise a lot-o-hell. Even if she don’t ketch fire she will feel like it anyhow.
So I figgers that under the new regime maybe I kin help you out a little bein a specialist like I am. So Lem I am a sendin you some models that may suit your fancy.
 
No. 1 is what I call a interurban or city model. She kinder looms up a little a settin in the middle of a boulevard but I tell you she comes in handy in a pinch.
 

The Interurban City model.

 
No. 2 is a desert model with some features that there city model lacks. She aint shock proof as you can see. Part of the side is exposed or cut out like which gives yer a good perspective on her construction.
 
 
 

The Desert model.

 
 

 
 

Desert model (alternate view)

 
No.3 is a oil field model of what we calls a semi permanent outfit. That is she is guaranteed for the life of the field. She is more suited to a plebian kind of man that she is to a brass collared or upper crust feller but Lem she is practical.
 
 
 
 

 

The Oil Field model

No.4 is a shock proof model fer places where the food is heavy and well seasoned. She is also suited fer figgerin the pay roll or fer general accountin of a temperary nature. In oil field technology she might be known as a yo-yo driller’s accessery.
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Shock Proof model.

No. 5 is a kinder delicate like model known as a geophysical er torsion balance type and as their purpose is kinda alike one might say she gives results when used as a combination fer torsion balance and general results.
 
 
 

The Geophysical or Torsion Balance model.

I can’t just quote money on the barrel head prices Lem but if ye are interested I will go into conference with you on a minutes notice.
 
Doc.
 
P.S. I have many other models to suit all requirements but we kin see about them later.
 
 (Editor’s note: These photographs of other “models” were included in the envelope)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Page 1 of Doc’s letter. 


Page 2 of Doc’s letter.


Page 3 of Doc’s letter.


 Also included in the envelope was another folded piece of thin onion skin paper, this with a poem:
 

 

“THE PASSING OF THE BACK HOUSE”

AN UNPUBLISHED POEM
BY
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
 
When memory keeps me company,
     and moves to smiles, to tears,
A weather beaten object looms
     through the mists of years.
Behind the house and barn it stood,
     a half a mile or more.
And hurrying feet a path had made
     straight to its swinging door.
 
Its architecture was a type
     of simple classic art,
But in the tradgedy of life
     it played a leading part,
And oft a passing traveler
     drove slow and heaved a sigh
To see the modest hired girl
     slip out with glances shy.
 
We had a posey garden that
     the women loved so well.
I loved it too, but better still
     I loved the stranger smell
That filled the evening breezes
     so full of homely cheer,
And told the night o’er-taken tramp
     that human life was near.
 
On lazy August afternoons
    it made a little bower,
Delightful, where my grandsire sat
     and whiled away the hour,
For there the summer morning
     its very cares entwined
And berry bushes reddened
     in the teeming soil behind.
 
All day fat spiders spun their webs
to catch the buzzing flies
That flitted to and from the house,
Where Ma was making pies.
And once a swarm of hornets came
and built a palace there
And stung my unsuspecting Aunt–
I cannot tell you where.
 
Then Father with a flaming pole,
     (that was a happy day)
He almost burned the building down,
     but the hornets left to stay.
When summer bloom began to fade
     and winter to carouse,
We banked the little building
    with a heap of hemlock boughs.
 
When Grandpa had to go out back
    and make his morning call
We’d bundle up the dear old man
     with a muffler and a shawl.
I know the hole on which he sat,
     ’twas padded all around,
For once I dared to sit there,
     ’twas all too large I found.
 
My loins were all too small,
     and I jack-knifed there to stay,
They had to come and get me out,
     or I’d have passed away.
Then my Father said, “Ambition
     is a thing to shun”,
That I must use the children’s hole
     ’till childhood days were done.
 
When winter’s crust was on the snow
     and sullen skies were gray,
In sooth the building was no place
     where one would wish to stay.
We did our duties promptly
     there one purpose swayed the mind,
We lingered not nor tarried long
    on what we’d left behind.
 
The torture of that icey seat
     would make a Spartan sob,
But needs must scrape the goose flesh
     with a lacerating cob
That from a frost-encrusted nail
     was suspended by a string,
My Father was a frugal man
     and wasted not a thing.
 
And still, marvel at the craft
    that cut those holes so true,
The baby hole, the slender hole
    that fitted Sister Sue.
That dear old country land-mark–
     I’ve tramped around a bit,
And in the lap of luxury
    my lot has been to sit.
 
But ere I die I’ll eat the fruit
     of trees I’ve robbed of yore,
Then seek the shanty where my name
     is carved upon the door.
I ween the old familiar smell
     will soothe my jaded soul.
I’m now a man, but none the less
    I’ll use the children’s hole.
               ******
 
 
 So, anyhoo, I thought this was a rare glimpse into a little frontier humor. 

Father’s Day


Was reading Dave Dorman’s Father’s Day post today and was so moved that I knew I needed to post one myself and basically copy him. Our friends certainly point the way more times than not.

I am so thankful for my children, George and Mary and the joy that they bring to my life every single day. They give me a reason for being and they make the world a richer place because of their presence. They are both incredibly sweet individuals and always have a ready smile and a hug in the wings. I’m constantly in awe of them and wonder what I did to deserve such wonderful children.

I’m doubly blessed because I had the greatest father in the world. My father, a physician, worked tirelessly helping other people but never short changed his children. He was the most honest individual I’ve ever met, save my mother, and he set the bar so high that I struggle constantly to be half the individual and parent that he was. He was taken much, much to soon and there’s not a day that passes that he’s not on my mind. I miss him. He and my mother gave me so many wonderful emotional gifts and topped it off with the most amazing childhood I could ever have wished for.

I’m here in Kansas City with the Illustration Academy and, since I had to be away from my children, had the wonderful privilege of spending Father’s Day with John English and his father Mark. My father would be roughly Mark’s age and there was comfort in being welcomed into such a wonderful family.

I hope everyone has had a great Father’s Day today.

Why? (Blog Archive)


 


 
 

Why? (Blog Archive)
 
Sunday, February 14, 2010
 
While hauling all of my painting crap to the studio today I was reflecting on how artists are willing to continue doing what they’re doing regardless of incredible odds and so much negativity in a world that really doesn’t understand, or want to understand, the urges one has to create.
 
I mean, really, what’s in it for us as artists, right? You know that the average Joe must scratch their heads in wonder at all these artists doing what they do by hook or by crook, for little or no money, many in total anonymity. It’s a puzzler for them. Though, to be fair, I think this is less of a question in the minds of many Europeans, because I’ve found they have a pretty good understanding and appreciation for the arts. That’s what good schooling does for you. But in America, it’s a wasteland and you have to sort of embrace the drought, as a buddy of mine, John Hitchcock is fond of saying.
 
The funny thing is, sometimes I have to wonder myself why I keep doing it. It really is a compulsion. Paintings and drawings, at least for me, are sort of like puzzles, or chess problems. I love to try and solve them. I like sorting them out. There’s great satisfaction in that for me.
 
And there’s certainly great satisfaction in just the doing of it. It’s easy for the layman, and students alike, watching someone who is proficient at it, who makes it look easy, to forget the long hours of frustration and struggle it took to learn how to do this stuff. It’s not always play, to be sure. It could and can be the most frustrating thing on the planet. That never ends. But more often than not it’s worth it to see these things materializing beneath your pen, pencil, brush, etc.
 
Not to mention being able to see the effect it has on the lives of others. I know how powerful an effect the artists I was into had on my life. I was ravenous for their work. I couldn’t get enough of it all. My pulse would go nuts at the sight of some of that work. And in my heart of hearts I knew I HAD to do that someday. The compass of my life was set. Nothing else would do.
 
Those little hurdles that I was making, those small plateaus that came so frequently back then aroused in me the same exhilaration I imagine a skydiver feels stepping out of the plane into empty space. There’s nothing else like it.
 
Why was I, and so many like me, susceptible to things in print, to design, to shapes on a page or in nature, to color, to line and paint? What makes that happen? Weird, isn’t it? Nature or nurture? There’s a little of both in my background. My parents both love art and have a propensity for that sort of thing, though my father never pursued it in his lifetime. My sister was gifted, but didn’t pursue it either. My uncle and my aunt were both artistic, cousins, etc. and so on down the family line. But there was nothing overt about any of that.
 
On the other hand, I was surrounded by books and magazines and it was also a time (60s 70’s) when illustration was everywhere. I couldn’t turn around without seeing some kind of artwork. What a great time!
 
I see it in my daughter. She’s got the bug. She’s in tune with color and lines and making a mess on paper. She gets lost in the paint and it’s wonderful to see. She has a very vivid separate reality at times. She can entertain herself quite well.
 
As I get older I appreciate more and more the classroom because, for me, it’s a social function. After years and years of happily sequestering myself in my little room and making pictures, I find I now want company. I seek it out. The classroom is a great place in that respect. That’s when I envy musicians and dancers. Theirs is a more social art form, at least on the face of it. Though I know they spent the same long, long, long hours mastering their craft in solitude as well. But their final art, the one we see, is a social event. How great! The doing for us, and writers, is still solo, for the most part, in monk-like solitude.
 
So no answers, really, just ruminations.
 
Anyway, here’s to those who love what they do and will continue doing it for no other reason than for the joy of the journey and for Art’s power to transform and redeem.

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Below are the original comments that came in for this post and my replies:

 

luisnct

I don’t think europeans, as a whole, have more understanding or appreciation for the arts. I mean the regular people, the worker who only wants to drink beer and watch tv, but too the businessman who’s life appreciation is based on money over all…

I think art is a way on find a sense to our lives. In a world with so many destruction, art means creation, a light shining on the darkness and, as you said, a way of redeem human societies from their faults and crimes against nature and other human beings.

Monday, February 15, 2010-7:57 AM

 

George Pratt

My mention of European appreciation of the arts is based on my own observations. Having been fortunate enough to have my art be appreciated over there to have them fly me about and show me their wonderful cities and museums, I’ve met many, many, many interesting people.

Without a doubt the individuals I spoke with could intelligently discuss art and what it means to them, as well as what it means historically. Indeed, many impressed me as knowing much more about the subject than even me, and I think I have a pretty thorough knowledge of art. But more importantly, art seems to influence them in their daily lives.

In America we’ve thrown so much of our history to the winds, sold to the lowest bidder. Architecture is torn down to make way for the new. Most buildings seem to be thrown together with no concern towards his they fit in with the landscape or with what was there before. And most of it feels transitory, as if it isn’t meant to last in the first place. But there, they live in the midst of their past, as well as their futures. The old sits with the new, though, yes, not always nicely so. But the rich history hasn’t been paved over. It’s why we travel there, no? To wallow in the architectural and artistically historical world that is Europe.

But, I agree that art is such a positive force. I try to get students to talk about their “art moments”, where art overcomes one physically and emotionally. I have these moments all the time. Hell, maybe it has a lot to do with my sort of depressive nature, my chemical imbalance. But I’m moved to tears by art all the time.

Watching Cirque du Soleil I was totally overcome with emotion. That humans can do such amazing things! It made me proud to be a human. Watching a television show which I missed first run called “Slings and Arrows” I’ve been moved by every episode. But most assuredly when they put on their productions and show me a Shakespeare play that is so incredibly moving, especially when they juxtapose it with current life. It’s been nailing me. Again, that humans can create such wonderfully moving things is amazing!

It’s the best we have to offer, really, aside from the great virtues.

Yes, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to practice what I do and that there is an audience willing to support it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010-4:22 PM

 

Edward Kinsella

Inspiring words George. Thank you.

I’m not sure why I keep going either, but I’m thrilled to be a part of it every day. And, ya know, nothing feels as good as creative expression, at least to me.

 Tuesday, February 16, 2010-3:17 PM

 

 George Pratt

Thanks, Ted,

Well, your sketchbooks alone are reason enough for anyone to want to continue doing art. They’re some of the most beautiful works around. They’re inspiration in and of themselves.

 What I like most about them, about most sketchbooks generally, is their unassuming nature. This has sort of taken a back seat these days as younger artists seem intent on making their sketchbooks words of art, rather than the place where they let their hair down and do the things for themselves, without any regard to any audience.

 Sketchbooks have become a sort of “check me out” thing now. And it’s not that they’re not incredible, they are. They’re beautiful. But I like seeing an artist’s sketchbooks where they’re not performing for anyone. They were just doing their thing and there’s amazing stuff happening, and some…not so amazing stuff happening. And their not afraid to let the good lie with the bad. The contrast make the good stuff even better.

 Can’t wait to see you guys when you’re down soon!

Saturday, February 27,  2010-4:27 PM

 

Shawn

Very well written, George. I feel the same, even though the money hasn’t come, yet, I still feel the desire and urge to create works of art. It’s a sort of therapy to some degree. A way to relax and focus my mind on the beauty of nature.

 Thanks for writing this.

Best,

Shawn

Wednesday, August 18, 2010-3:53 PM

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