On Tuesday I went to see Neko Case.
She was great! I had seen her once back in the early spring at the 9:30 Club in WDC, but I enjoyed the show much more when she was in Baltimore. My proximity to the stage at her most recent show was very good; we got there during the opener, Jason Lytle (who I actually really enjoyed) and just stayed put between stage changes. She has great between song banter with back – up vocalist Kelly Horn, who likened an enthusiastic fan’s scream to the sound of someone getting a Brazilian bikini wax.
The set-list, in my opinion, was better than the one in WDC- it included a bit more of her older stuff, including some songs off of The Tigers Have Spoken and Blacklisted. Always nice to hear that.
Neko Case has this really great style and air about her. It all just seems so effortless. Her show was quiet – the spotlight being on her and her smokey vocals. She is not a particularly large woman, but has such a powerful voice. It’s mesmerizing.
What I enjoy the most about her music is the writing. Her writing is abstract and non-linear. It is often not about her. She doesn’t write a ton of purely love songs, but everyone can interpret her lyrics in a different way to make it meaningful for them . She touches on themes of abandonment, heartbreak, longing, and mistakes – but in such an elegant way that you really have to listen closely to appreciate the idiosyncrasies of her writing.
I find Neko Case inspiring because I wish that I do bring more of what she does in her song writing to my own work – Concise yet complex, elegant and strong.
It all started one day when I was walking home from work. I noticed that a basement level apartment had really interesting wrought iron window bars:
I love the shape and pattern of the wrought-iron bars, and even more that it made something that was so practical interesting looking and sort of beautiful. I guess that’s why I enjoy old architecture and antiques so much. While they can often be ostentatious and tacky, they go to great lengths to make practical things look decorative and pleasing to the eye.
After I noticed that window, I noticed some other windows around the neighborhood that had such decoration as well. Here’s some other favorites:
I used to have a bedroom in a basement and while I don’t miss it at all, maybe I would have enjoyed it a little bit more if I had these pretty shapes in which to view feet through.
Last night I ran out of matte medium long after the art store had closed, so I couldn’t work on what I had planned on last night. So, I took some old scraps lying around and filled a page of my sketchbook. Nothing elaborate, but it was fun to play around:
In addition: Nate Williams is an illustrator that also educates others in the field about his methods and experiences for having a successful and long career. He has his own website but also helps run Illustration Mundo, which is purely an illustrator website (I’m on there under his favorites!). He has recently posted his method for generating ideas for editorial illustrations. I thought it was interesting and really helpful.
I have some pieces that I have worked on over the past week that are in progress and I thought I’d share.
If you can’t tell from other posts, I like buildings. Despite my often poor attention to detail, I love all the intricacies that are present in older architecture. I am working on some buildings for a larger piece. Somewhat time consuming, but a lot of fun to make. Houses have great shapes.
This is from my sketchbook. I found these old illustrations I had ripped out a couple of years ago from a Spanish textbook and cut out parts of them to appropiate them into a page. Just goofin’ off!
Often at work I find myself doodling on pieces of paper I should be recycling. Last week I had a good couple of doodles going, so I just used the paper for the rest of the week.
This weekend I attended Artscape in Baltimore. The festival was practically on my street (and in the rest of the neighborhood). I was originally going to only go to the Charles Theatre to view a film screening of documentary shorts, but ended up wandering through the whole thing in about 3 hours. Overall, I was a bit disappointed with the festival, put I did find one area of it interesting. It was a “carnival” of sorts that was set up on the Charles Street – a little off the main path little. I say “carnival”, but there were no rides or prizes… just different booths that all required audience participation. Some of them were funny, some weird, and all, I’d suspect, a little bit subversive. Personally, my favorite booth was a human Foosball table. People were strapped to these PVC pipes and were literally characters on a large Foosball field, complete with running commentary and sound effects. It was originally found at Baltimore’ s Transmodern Festival in the early spring.
After I turned off of the Charles Street bridge, I entered the part of the festival that did not impress me – a mash of advertisements from Honey Bunches of Oats, Sensodyne Toothpaste, BP Gasoline, among others. The booths that held the arts were rather kitschy for my taste and caused me to glaze over the rest of the festival from that point on.
I get that it’s America’s largest arts festival, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best. I went to Hampden’s Hon Fest in June, and while a much smaller event, was infinitely more fun and didn’t shut down the entire neighborhood in the process. The whole event, while still a festival, had more of an intimate feel and identity. It was quirky, and I like quirk.
Look at me, bitter. I did accomplish one thing on Saturday though – I successfully parallel parked in the tightest spot I have ever attempted. I had about 3 inches of space to spare between the two cars.
Finally posting some art. I finished a childrens’ illustration. The story was about animals and how they sleep. I used cut paper an then digitally assembled it. I tend to work bigger, so most of the time if I am to individually make cut outs, they have to be put together on the computer.
When all said and done, looks like this:
Currently working on some sketchbook stuff and other little projects for myself. I will post some in progress work soon.
This took me a while to fully admit, but I love Lady GaGa:
Look at her! Look at that outfit! Heard her music? If not, you should. It’s high energy, catchy, fantastical yet oddly grounded at the same time. I mean, haven’t we all been a little too inebriated and lost our keys and phone in the club, at the same time managing to turn our shirt inside out?
In all seriousness, I’m sort of in awe of Lady GaGa. I can appreciate her and her music on a much deeper level – not because I find the lyrics particularly inspiring, but because she’s such an informed pop artist. There’s nothing wrong with pop music, because, after all, pop music is pop art. When done correctly, pop art shapes and informs our culture. GaGa has done her homework with the genre - she cites her influences as Andy Warhol in addition to David Bowie and Queen… a throwback to the glam rock.
She integrates multimedia, fashion, music and performance at her shows and has a “team” that is a collection of stylists, artists, etc. They all work collectivly to help cultivate Lady GaGa. In that way, it’s sort of an artist collective, with her as the figurehead.
My current favorite songs include Pokerface and Paparazzi. Here’s the 8 minute video for Paparazzi and should give you some idea about how fabulous this person is.
The next post will actually be some illustration work.
I thought today I would post an illustrator that I really enjoy looking at (and, simultaneously, play around with some of the formatting).
I first discovered Sarajo’s work about a year ago, through the Lila Rogers website, where she is repp’d as an illustrator. Later in the summer of 2008 I had the pleasure of being introduced to her while attending / working at ICON 5 (an illustrators convention).
Sarajo Frieden is an artist and illustrator living in the Los Angeles area. Her studio is in an area that borders Thai Town, Little Armenia and Koreatown, which serves as fodder for her imagery and art-making. She writes,
Using open ended narratives, folk tales, abstraction and the juxtaposition of discordant images, I try to give form to the human experience as I see it.
Her images range from illustrative, to patterns, to somewhat experimental working – which is something I love about her work. Her characters are sweet and her work is quiet, but stands out with the application of the collage technique and color application.
I am a fan of shapes, and practically drool over some of her pieces, most recently the embroidery on paper, since that was something I had sort of wanted to experiment with. I am interested in the whole collage technique in general, and I feel that Sarajo’s pieces are at a place where I would eventually want my work to go.
I am done talking about Sarajo Frieden now: I know I am late to jump on the Ne-Yo train, but Closer is my favorite song right now.
I recently ran out of space in a sketchbook, and I am too cheap to invest in a new one (and too lazy to walk to the art store). I had the idea to recycle an old Moleskin that was only half used. While still intact, there was one glaring problem with the book – it was from my junior year of college and contained some truly terrible sketching. But, it being a Moleskin I decided I needed to salvage it somehow. So, what I am currently in the process of gessoing over the used pages and painting little tests on them, and using them to experiment with paint and collage.
Here are few of little tests that I started earlier in the weekend. They aren’t great by any means, but that’s okay! They are just for practice! For fun! Because, for serious, if you can’t make mess up in your sketchbook, where are you going to do it?
After living in downtown Baltimore for 5 years (my third full summer here), I really enjoy the city life. I like the convenience and the fact I am not far from a coffee shop.
Over the course of these 5 years, the whole experience has turned me off to the suburbs. You would think that I have a similar opinion of the country, but this is not the case. I like both ends of the spectrum. The city is a (albeit sometimes poorly) planned, condensed space, but something about the vastness of the country really gets me – the miles upon miles of empty space. As long as I could have my precious internet and be a drivable distance to a decent grocery store, I think I could do alright.
Sometimes I look out my window, notice all the buildings and how far they settle into the distance. I feel small. I get the same feeling with the country. I guess it’s always nice to be reminded that there are things much bigger than yourself every once and a while.
(L) the view from my window. (R) on the way to the sticks. unfortunately taken in a car.