April 2016

Why Make Art?

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2016

Not so shameless plug... I have an art exhibit opening this Saturday, April 16 from 1 to 5 at Armstrong DeGraaf International Fine Art in Saugatuck, Michigan. (“NOT so shameless” because of this: I really want you to see my artwork.)
I really want you to see my artwork because the communication loop isn’t complete until the art is viewed and engaged. The thing that drives me to create is a desire to share ideas - ideas about the world, belief, and color. Being an artist is too difficult a profession to stick with if one isn’t consumed by this desire to share, but sharing isn’t complete without someone to receive.
I also really want you to see my artwork because that’s how I make a living. This isn’t a hobby. I’m not a Trust Fund Baby. I’m always applying for a job... ALWAYS. I used to shy away from saying it out loud, but that’s not helpful if I want to continue having the opportunity to share…Oh, and the opportunity to pay for groceries. :) 
Finally, I really want you to see my artwork because it’s been a long grey winter, and you deserve a sunny spring day in a beautiful town with art that will make you smile.
(P.S. - This show is a continuation of my 40 series from last year…I’ve painted stories that didn’t make sense in the 40 story arc at the time, but ones that I still really want to share.) 

Hope to see you there! 

Creative Parameters

Wednesday, Apr 6, 2016
You may or may know that I published an art book last year called 40: the Biblical Story Interpreted by Joel Schoon-Tanis (shameless plug: you can buy it here…). It was a huge undertaking, and it has been fun telling people about what I discovered in the process.
Here’s a nugget that became clear to me during that process: creativity thrives with parameters – with boundaries – with limitations.  What?! Joel! What are you talking about?! That’s the OPPOSITE of creativity!
Here’s the deal.  My mind is always working (ask my wife Kathy about this and she will smile and laugh)… ALWAYS! When given limitless choices, it is almost like my mind can’t stop. There’s always another angle to explore. But given a few parameters, I can get to work and my creativity is free to roam.
With 40, it was limiting the work to a standard size with the text written in the same place each time. Those may not sound like huge parameters, but it allowed me to really play with that space and with the series; comparing and contrasting compositions and colors, and finding a rhythm not only in each individual piece, but also in the project as a whole.
I’ve been working on a few follow up paintings (call them “40-something”); ones that didn’t make the cut the first time (like a bonus Noah’s Ark), or new ideas from things I’ve learned since then (like the importance of the Ascension). These new ones have confirmed my nugget. For instance, as I explored the camel and the eye of the needle, I thought about the BIG PICTURE, and how the saying has to do with the real path to heaven. Take a peek in the background and see what I added. That would not have been there if not for a few parameters.