Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Past and future

The scarab represents renewal, regeneration, and growth. Literally interpreted as the
"divine manifestation of the early morning sun." Also represents spontaneous creation and is
associated with the Egyptian sun god Khepri (resurrection.)

The above is an Egyptian scarab on papyrus (not mine, I found it online to use for an image reference.) I started working on another piece involving a scarab this week, but it's nowhere near photographing yet.

I've been researching various art grants for a few weeks now, and am starting to get the paperwork and applications together in the hope that I may convince someone to give me money to continue doing what I'm doing - making art. I've found a few that I'm currently working on, all for visual art where I will send slides or digital copies of my paintings and answer questions and provide references and whatever else they ask for. Even though I've been doing this for years, I still feel very much like a beginner, like I should be much further along than I am so far.

I was always working, dealing with whatever life issues I happened to have at the moment - there were a few shows here and there, and often times periods of prolific creation were stunted by long months of zero inspiration and little productivity. It took me awhile after Burning Man and quitting my job to allow myself to experiment and really get excited about this whole thing again. That's why going to art school was so amazing - you're encouraged to experiment and given time to develop your body of work. Once I started putting myself mentally "in my studio", I was much more comfortable starting and stopping projects, letting myself become inspired to make work like I used to, with passion fueling my fire and an uncontrollable desire to create, except with out the inevitably harsh crit come Monday morning.

I didn't paint very much during college. At MICA I learned very quickly that if you were going to be painting, you had to be some kind of prodigy art star to impress anyone. "Painting's been done," they said. So to spare the small amount of self esteem I still had left, I did the best thing I could in that environment - experiment.

I took tons of photography, sound and video classes, and a few "painting" classes that I never painted in. I would make videos instead - they were my paintings. I was just painting with another medium. I made costumes too - usually dresses constructed out of strange materials like plastic bags and shower curtains (sometimes poorly, but that wasn't the point.) That project ended up being part of my thesis. I just last year managed to get it up on YouTube - here it is:

The Trouble With Progress, 2005

Watch it sometime if you haven't already. I made the costumes, the video projected behind it, figured out the choreography and edited the video (I had help shooting the event since I was backstage with my models) - and enlisted tons of help from my friends with everything from crab-walking backwards down the runway to composing the soundtrack. And THIS, ladies and gentlemen, is the background to why I love doing what I have the past few years in the performance genres with Simplafire and Scorch - I get to be part of putting on a show, a spectacle. Somewhere along the line I got the courage to get up in front of an audience (and this makes no sense, I was terribly cripplingly shy as a kid.) AND I WANT TO DO IT AGAIN. (See below : a clip from the debut Scorch performance from PEX Summer Festival this year...)

Scorch Debut Clip from lauren raske on Vimeo.

I've come across a few grant foundations so far that are geared more toward video, media and performing arts. While I'm still going to apply (with enthusiasm) to all the applicable visual art grants I can find, the gears are turning... most of the issues I've run across putting on these shows is lack of commitment from performers and lack of money. I'm almost positive the former would significantly change if we had funding and were able to make it a worthwhile investment for everyone involved. I'm not the best fire spinner out there - and hell like I claim to be - but it's still an amazing talent to the rest of the population and incredible fun. If I could figure out how to apply Part A with Part B - I think that's got a ton of potential to be something really spectacular - and if someone could give us money to do it, even better.

Hopefully this next year will be just as prolific as I am envisioning. It helps to have an almost completely open schedule (and to not have a terrible, oppressive corporate job to kill my soul a little every day), and for the most part I've managed to stay positive and have faith in my decisions. (Reflection of the day c/o Alex: "I'd rather be broke and happy than flush and sad.")

Anyway, this may be my last post before 2011 - and I promise the next one will have new pictures of work in progress and other fun things - so everyone please enjoy the rest of 2010 and have a happy and safe NYE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

DIY Xmas

In December of 2008, my husband Alex and I were four months into our marriage - we were happy as clams, but poor as dirt. We needed gifts for both sides of our family, friends, co-workers and there was no way we could afford to buy gifts for everyone. In fact, I'm pretty sure the year before was just the same. In 2008, however, we decided to collaborate on a little art project that we could easily reproduce - behold, the Buddha print!

I designed the image (this skinny little simple Buddha is my "original" Buddha - I've drawn and painted him several times since then) and Alex carved the linoleum block and together we printed them, matted them, and framed the couple that would go to our parents. Our friends received prints with a simple black mat that would fit in an 8 x 10 frame. Magnifique!

This year, being poor again as we are, we're working on similar artsy crafty items to give to our family and friends. As much as I enjoyed having money and buying gifts for my loved ones, making something and pouring your time and love into it is so much better for so many reasons.

1. By making your gifts, you can almost completely avoid the insane and unpleasant orgy of commercialism now happening in every mall and store near you. You also aren't forced to hear annoying Christmas/holiday music while doing it.

2. You are contributing to the environment and welfare of the world by not buying some piece of crap that little children made in some foreign country that was then shipped 10,000 miles to get to where you are.

3. Your loved ones will receive something unique and special that was made with your time, care, and effort, and it shows. If they aren't materialistic jerks they will appreciate it.

I could go on, but I will refrain. I know not everyone has the time for such things, but if you start early enough or dedicate a couple solid days in the beginning of December, it can be akin to decorating a tree or baking holiday cookies and provide some festive holiday fun. (I'm sure my parents are probably sick of getting art for their birthdays, Christmas, Mother's and Father's day, but so what? When I become rich and famous they're allowed to sell whatever of it they don't like and hopefully make a fortune.)

We're still working on our designs for prints this year, and I've been researching other simple DIY gifts that will add some variety - I've found a couple really simple looking patterns for things like aprons and change purses. Go here for a Craft Leftovers, a blog with tutorials, patterns and a bunch of great ideas for handmade gifts.

If you knit (I do not - my mother-in-law taught me a few years ago and all I did was one 6 inch square before getting terribly bored) you have plenty of options, and who couldn't use another scarf? (Unless your relatives live in Florida, like mine do.) If you're not crafty or artistic at all, food is always a welcome gift. One year I made baskets with organic pasta and a jar of my homemade marinara sauce for co-workers. Another year we baked bread for friends. If you aren't crafty and can't cook or bake either - well, I hope you have a job and can afford store bought presents, cause I got nothin'.

Your DIY-fever can extend beyond crafty Christmas presents - you should have seen our first Christmas tree. We had no real ornaments, so we ended up decorating our tree with whatever we could find that would hang/sit on pine branches - rubber duckies, mismatched earrings, sunglasses... it was pretty freakishly ...wonderful. :) And I'll definitely never forget it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Productivity has resumed

Hola, friends and internet universe!

I'm back this week with a fixed computer (thankfully the part was some kind of manufacturers defect so I didn't have to pay for it) and some new paintings. Not that anyone is reading this, but still worth a try. (And if you are reading - how about leaving a comment, or "following" my blog? Just so I know you're there, of course.) I'm still relatively new at this trying-to-be-an-artist thing, and while this was partially by choice, I did think I'd have found a job by now. Technically, I do have an actual job job - but it's only for a few days a month so it's clearly not paying the bills. If only I had been fired... then I would be collecting unemployment and everything would be gravy. I tried, trust me. Apparently there isn't much you can do at UPenn to get you fired that they would approve giving you an unemployment check. It's for the best, though. Since quitting back in August, everyone that asks how I'm doing says "Well, at least you're not at that job anymore! It was making you so miserable!" And then I think - wow, was I really that miserable and secondly, was I actually that vocal about it? To everyone? I guess so. So, technically, I'm doing pretty good... although it wouldn't hurt to find another part time job and sell some artwork/paintings/prints. HEY I HEARD THEY MAKE GRRRREAAAT XMAS/HOLIDAY/KWANZAA/BIRTHDAY/NEW YEARS GIFTS! Well, you are correct - they certainly do. Especially the affordable art prints, which I hopefully will be putting in an order at M3 Printing for very soon. Get at me if you'd like one!

Recently I've completed a few paintings that were inspired by the sketches I made for a mural I was supposed to paint. (Oh, that was a sad story if I ever heard one - I did three rounds of designs for these guys opening a restaurant, and just as I was about to have them sign a contract they backed out. The contract will come first next time. Lesson learned.) My most favorite so far is this one:

Angler Fish / 8" x 11.5" / acrylic on wood

Here is a hilarious comic about the angler fish that was my other source of inspiration for this guy. I mean, girl. Whatever. How The Male Angler Fish Gets Completely Screwed. (Please, take a minute to read it, I promise you will not be disappointed.)

Here is another fish I painted in the last week:

Rockfish (miniature) / 5" x 2.75" / acrylic on gessoboard

Even though it appears I have some weird mental block about re-painting some of the designs - I'm attempting a giant squid, which was my main subject for that project, and it's just not working for me yet - I am somewhat interested in making these a series. Creepy/beautiful/dark sea life... maybe some other elements I've been experimenting with, we'll see.

Since my show debut, I've been experimenting a lot with new images and ideas. The show features my work from nearly four or five years ago up until November, and even since August I have had a notion that my concepts have been shifting. I still stand enthusiastically behind all my buddhas, flowers of life and portraits - but I haven't been interested in painting Buddhas for quite some time now. It simply does not fit my mood at the moment. I invested a lot of time writing my artists statement before the show, ( which I need to post on my website still ) and I reference the universe and sacred geometry throughout the entire thing. It's not that I'm suddenly not interested in those things - in fact, I started to get really into studying sacred geometry other than the flower of life during the research prior to writing it. I still have some plans, although it may not happen for awhile. I allegedly sold one of my paintings at the show - I say "allegedly" only because I haven't yet received any money for it and it's still hanging in the gallery. Funny story about that painting - it's actually version 2 of the same image, and the original painting (which was much bigger) is the only other painting I've ever sold in my life. It's also a landscape, which according to the internet is the subject matter most often purchased by those buying art. Complications in my personal life made enjoying the money from the sale nearly impossible, so a few years later I decided to paint it again and it was the only painting to "sell" from the opening.

Here it is:
Southern Sun #2 / 16" x 20" / oil on board

Even though I will keep working on all my different projects, I have decided to paint some more landscapes/city streetscapes in a similar fashion, and have been taking photos to work from. This is my attempt at making myself more marketable and turning my work into something sell-able... and hopefully it'll work.

Here are some of the photos I've taken that may be turned into paintings:

So, we'll see how that turns out. I'm getting a batch of photos printed tonight (oh how I long for a full setup - scanner, printer, xerox machine maybe...) and hope to start sketching some out this week. As usual, I tend to work on like 5 different things at once so I don't get bored or burned out... so until my commissions get set up or I magically find a job tomorrow, this is what I'll be doing with my time. Oh, and "blogging" I suppose... God I hate that word.

On that note - I'm out of here. Adios!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Had to take my computer to the Apple store on Monday because the screen refused to turn on. I had hoped to start posting pics here and other things of that nature... however, it's going to have to wait another 3-5 business days. In the meantime, I'll be painting so I have something to show. And baking apple pie for my darling husbands birthday. So - until then.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Is there anybody out there?

It was about time I had one of these. Welcome to the blog of Xtina Carbone (de la Schuetz), where I will be using this space to show the world my work in whatever form it may take. Paintings, drawings, sketches, photographs... muses, videos, performance opportunities, exhibitions, and whatever else I can think of.

I've been an artist for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until this past summer where I up and quit my cubicle desk job (HAHA TAKE THAT CORPORATE AMERICA) and went to Burning Man that I allowed myself the time to dedicate fully to "being an artist", whatever that means. As far as I'm concerned I never stopped, just put it on hold for a little while.

It was an adventure, to say the least. I came back and started painting again in all my free time, enough to put together a show in a local gallery space (my first solo show!) and for the first time in my life, try and make my artmaking sustainable. Not that I want to be a big shot famous artist with a loft in NYC or anything - no, no. I'd be more than happy to sell a few paintings and maybe paint some more murals and get paid... who knows? The possibilities are endless. I've always been extremely terrible at marketing myself - then again, until I had this show, the only friends or acquaintances of mine that have seen my work are those that have actually spent time in my kitchen. (That's where my "studio" is in my teeny apartment.) Now I'm getting my work and my identity as an artist out into the universe - and hopefully good things will come from it. I still need a real job, though.

I'll post paintings as I feel like it or as I work on them... here is my latest, most favorite. I priced it at $9000 at my show (Or Best Offer, but that's in the fine print that no one read.) It's overpriced even for me, but I really like it and don't want to let it go to just anyone. I can make archival art prints of almost all of my paintings right now for much, much cheaper (between $50-100 depending on the size of the piece and print.)

A Night in Wyman Park (Bamboo)
24" x 48"
oil on canvas

Until next time... thanks for reading.