What is my ISM?
I was in Spain in 2016.
(I know how that sounds, and I still pinch myself
that I have had the amazing opportunities
to see the things I have)
Plug: I love Rick Steve tours -
many reasons, but I learn so much more
than I would wandering on my own.
Having a local tour guide tell me passionately
about the art on the wall, the history, the food...
It is worth EVERY penny. (and, no I didn't get paid to say that)
We toured the Prado museum (12th - 19th century art).
We admired the details
and the realism in EPIC paintings
that are taller than my house.
I love to see and understand (once again)
why all these artists made it into the art books.
No, that 2 x 3 black and white photo
doesn't do anything justice.
I got to really meet, Goya, Valezquez, El Grecko, Rubins, Titian...
they were all...
insert word from another language
because we don't have one that describes
how beautiful and hopeful
I felt looking at these creations.
They are amazing works of art that have changed me.
I pinch myself - that I got to see them...
That same day - we moved to the Sophia (20th century art)
As we entered the old insane asylum....
The wonderful local tour guide
explained modern art in a way no one has ever before
(at least to me)
It is simple.
We just spent the morning with masters of realism.
These artists painted larger than life
details to the hairs on heads of children.
Hours and time to get just the
right look to make the images look alive.
(realism... and I know it is not easy)
Our guide pulls out a toy...
a tiny camera.
This single device was introduced to the world.
It can create the fine details
that we just saw artists
spend lifetimes perfecting.
In one little "click".
And today, they are instant and everywhere.
the introduction of the camera (1814)
gives birth to Modern Art.
Art is no longer needed to capture every detail.
Modern Art is simply a reaction to the camera.
(my BFA trained mind BLOWN!!!.....)
In this one moment, this Spanish tour guide
just changed the way I look at modern art.
These big moments don't happen often.
What can I make that the camera can't capture?
a mood? a feeling? a crazy creature that nature would never produce?
This concept has rattled around
in my brain for several years now.
What is my ism?
What will be my response and reaction to the technology of today?
you can apply a filter in Instagram
to that photo that you took on your phone
that makes it look painted
and you can print it out 20 x 30 if you want.
Photoshop can move
and re-arrange the entire photo
to however you want it to be.
What the heck do I do with that?
I am a pretty abstract painter.
I haven't seen many round birds or circle trees around.
So I can go confidently painting my odd trees
with the strange circles and lines
that may be found under a microscope.
I will draw lines on the rhino
and add texture to these funky animals.
no camera can capture the imperfections I add to the page.
I am good at making those. in this big beautiful imperfect life.
no filter has been added that can suck the creatures from my brain.
I will let them out with my pen and paint.
Jamie and I went to Italy together back in February of 2014.
A girls trip.
I fell in love with a city for the first time on that trip.
I have so many wonderful memories of that trip
the best pasta I have ever had, art is “so smoothy”, I got to row a boat down the grand canal, gelato daily, works of art in real life that were bigger… and smaller than I expected, street art, amazing cooking class, a vineyard where I want to retire… , Vatican City and the hall of maps, so much more...
But one memory from that trip changed me.
Jamie and I decided to get up before the sun and take photos.
We bundled up, cameras in hand
and went to Piazza San Marco to take photos of the gondolas.
The first hints of light were in the air,
but we arrived before the sun.
The square was still asleep.
The only people out were on their way to something.
I was lost in my own little world
of trying to capture the feeling of the morning,
The mist in the air, the boats swaying in the water,
The slow yawn of the city as it stretched
and reached out to begin the day.
Slowly rubbing sleep out of its eyes.
I was taking photos of a couple of signs above a door
One said “Change” and the other “Travel”
I was thinking about how much Travel and Change are aligned.
Neither sign photographed well.
But it was at this moment,
A man walked by and said something in Italian.
I don’t speak this beautiful language
and wish that I did
and wish that I could play back his exact Italian.
I only knew it wasn’t good morning…
I looked at him and smiled in the usual
“I have no idea what you said but thank you.”
He saw I had no idea what he said…
he seemed to laughing and shaking his head
for my odd choice of photo.
But he repeated in English with a thick Italian Accent
“Ah Beautiful Grunge.”
And tipped his hat and kept walking on his way.
That was a beautiful present moment.
That moment is like a little morsel of really good dark chocolate.
Rich, buttery, bitter and gone quickly but lingers.
It was this unknown Italian man who gave me words
around exactly what Venice is
and it seems so much of all of life.
Actually much of Europe is filled with Beautiful Grunge.
The art that I make these days
Is inspired by this idea of “beautiful grunge”
“Beautiful Grunge” is found in so many things.
I also know it to be Wabi Sabi - finding beauty in the imperfections.
If you live this life long enough
the grunge and imperfections will get you
And it sure is beautiful.
"if you look at it with the right eyes...."
(another gem from a trip)
Travel and Change.
I had no idea how much that moment would change me.
That is the moment
that I had words to describe it.
To the man walking by
That early morning
For your wisdom and words
And for sharing them with me.
I am forever changed by that travel moment.
I am Gina Barry.
I am imperfect.
And that is what makes me, me.
"I'm not perfect, no I'm not."
Recently, I learned about this beautiful concept
called Wabi Sabi.
It is a Japanese idea that we should embrace the imperfections in our lives.
Not just accept them, but celebrate them.
Things are better with the imperfections.
This has profoundly impacted me in the past couple of years.
Look at all my beautiful imperfections.
Right here on the world wide web.
They are everywhere.
(shhhh.... I don't want anyone to see them... oh wait... yes I want you to see them and celebrate them with me.)
They are in my past, my present, and yes... my future too.
"I'm not perfect, but I've got what I've got."
Imperfections are in my life
and in my paintings
and I am going to share them, again.
A new friend sent me a "challenge"
September - a month of painting everyday.
Post your work to the group blog.
(With accountability and a deadline, built right in)
At first I balked at the idea of this challenge.
My head full of the usual excuses.
But somehow I just couldn't let this one go.
So, I begin, September 1, 2016.
my month long journey into imperfection.
I have scheduled it out.
I will paint with what I have (paint, wax or otherwise).
I will paint on what I have (wood, canvas or paper).
I have cleared my calendar.
I created this new website so
I wouldn't have and excuse not to share.
I even signed up...
i will make ugly things
I will paint because I am outwardly accountable to this goal
I will paint with passion and determination
I will paint with apathy and indifference
I will paint in a hurry just to get done
I will paint with joy and love
but I will paint...
"I do my very best each day."
unless I don't
In which case, I will pick myself up - start again
as I have also proven can be done - in this recent time.
"But I'm not perfect"
I am creating the conditions
I will be ready
dip my toe back into this crazy art pool.
(that's how I say JUMP IN! i am still me...)
I will never really be ready,
I will always be busy.
But if not now, when?
"And I hope you like me that way"
(lyrics from my favorite Lori Berkner song)
The words to go with the art. Because Art doesn't speak for itself.