Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Your "Stuff and Nonsense" may turn into a Firebrand

"Fish Market" mixed media on canvas (acrylic underpainting; oil on main images)
I have a file on my computer called “Stuff” where I put down ideas for blogs and articles. I get a one-word idea, and then ramble on with it to see if it has substance. Some of my one or two word ideas really take off; others fizzle out after one or two sentences.

When that happens, I do some research on the subject to see what turns up. If I’m lucky (or blessed), I find a plethora of information. If there’s nothing, or the word has a negative connotation, I go back to square one.

One such word was “firebrand.” I loved the sound of it rolling off my tongue. I had a few ideas on which direction I could take it, but then I actually looked the word up:

Firebrand, “One that creates unrest or strife; urges crowds to riot (I certainly didn’t want that!); progressively promotes a cause – an agitator.” I didn’t like that definition either.

But the more I thought about it, I decided that was exactly the word I wanted to write about. I liked this description: “One that creates unrest or strife.” Artwork is supposed to cause people to think, to push them to analyze and to cause unrest or strife within. Fine art is supposed to change us in some way, either to shake us up and help us see another point of view or to inspire us and motivate us.

"Hey, Coconut, Mon!" mixed media on canvas (acrylic underpainting; oil on main images)
Most people think of art as beauty. I was sitting in a relative’s living room this weekend (relaxing after a wedding celebration and the reason for my late blog!) admiring a painting on the wall. Actually, the watercolor was very bland. The background was tinged light ochre, beige and tan. A dark brown tree spread its naked branches against the yellow cast sky.

I realized that I’m a firebrand kind of person. I want to make a statement. My paintings don’t blend in or stay in the background, they are more conversation pieces. They either draw you or repel you, depending on your point of view. I have difficulty painting fluffy pretty scenes. I’ve had to master this technique and by the time the canvas is finished, I’m eager to move on
We each have our own style, but there’s one thing that we must all agree upon: without passion and conviction, the final work may look and feel like a puddle of paint. 

The word firebrand also describes the hot iron that burns rancher’s initials on his or her cattle. Artists must create their own firebrand that becomes recognizable; a signature that is unique and represents not only the artist’s name, but a clue as to his or her style. 

"Early Christian logo created from the
Greek word for fish"
I wish I’d created something more unique than just my first initial and last name. I’ve seen some very clever logos that are remembered and admired. If you’re just starting out, I recommend creating something different. Make it simple. Make it memorable. Then when your fans see something of yours, they’ll recognize it in an instant.
(I just threw this one in for fun!)

Use your “firebrand” to create unrest, strife, or simply a tranquil experience that people will buy and treasure for many years to come.