David creates his work with a 4×5 film camera. The result is extremely detailed and vibrant images of our beautiful surroundings, while learning about the significance and fragility of nature.
“I have dabbled in many media from painting and sculpting to drawing and woodworking. My interest in photography developed during my first two years of college while studying Classical Animation at Sheridan College. The following year I decided to pursue photography in selected workshops at Ontario College of Art and Design. Combining this education with a lot of self study and devotion to the craft I have committed myself to becoming a lifetime nature photographer. My focus is to capture, learn and teach about the visual complexity and beauty of our planet.”
Title: Medicine Lake
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The musical and visual arts respectively are two of the most fulfilling and popular forms of artistic expression practiced today. They are deeply related, and for some artists, they can work in harmony to produce works of art that stimulate both visually and aurally. Iranian-born artist Yashar Nazarian (who now resides in Canada) creates unique pairings of original paintings and piano compositions. The two are intended to be experienced and enjoyed simultaneously, each enhancing the depth and flavour of the other.
Above painting and performance by Yashar Nazarian
Music alone is capable of making a profound impact both consciously and subconsciously upon listeners, who experience correlated emotions, moods, and thoughts. As demonstrated throughout time, an art-muse relationship exists between music and visual art, guided by commonalities in aesthetic, philosophical, and socio-cultural principles. This relationship is evident between work by Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground, Peter Blake and the Beatles, and Rick Griffin and the Grateful Dead.
Above painting and performance by Yashar Nazarian
But how exactly do the aural characteristics of music affect visual art? A recent study conducted by fourth-year Ryerson University student Cassandra Tino examined the influence that musical input has upon the creative output of fashion illustration students. According to her findings, music has the ability to evoke emotional responses which affect concrete creative decisions such as media selection, color choices, and compositional elements. A preference for more fluid mediums such as watercolours applied in many cases, as well as the use of colors with obvious psychological connotations that matched the mood of songs. These creative decisions together lead to the production of art pieces which have been composed with specific stylistic correlations to the music.
Yet a broad space for variance and individuality remains, despite these guiding principles. Music creates different moods for different people. What may sound beautifully haunting to one person’s ears may be unbearably sad to someone else’s. A song which causes one individual to feel energized and excited may make someone else feel anxious or annoyed instead. Beyond variations in musical taste and experience, there is also space for variety in the approach to expressing a shared emotion. Certainly we would all choose different colours and shapes to reflect the mood of music we find spine-tinglingly lovely. Or would we instead use the same light colours, soft shapes, and open spaces? To reflect heavier emotions such as despair, loss, or regret, would we all choose the same palette of dark and muted colours? There is no single formula for expression, nor is there one for experience, and these compose the very foundation of artistic creation. They are subjective, elusive, transient – experiences can be distorted and forgotten, and expressions misunderstood. Herein lies the beauty of artistic creation, which strives to capture that which is too elusive and transient to ever be captured, but in so doing generates wondrously new emotional experiences for those who behold it.
In a competitive world overflowing with creative talent, artists who strive to turn their passion into a fruitful career generally try to elevate their work beyond the level of simple “eye candy”. The reality of the game is that an artist’s public persona matters just as much as (and in some instances more than) the actual work that they produce. The phenomenon of an artist’s public identity propelling their career is not a novelty. Michelangelo, Tamara de Lempicka, and Andy Warhol were all experts in cultivating exciting and appealing exterior personas, and enjoyed considerable success as a result. In today’s media-saturated society, this approach has become more powerful than ever before. Yet there has been a significant shift in who holds the power, and artists are no longer the main proprietors. While the potency of the public persona is steadily increasing, the artist’s role in shaping it is on the decline.
Consider the Marla Olmstead controversy, outlined in the brilliant documentary “My Kid Could Paint That”. Marla is an incredibly young abstract painter who creates artwork that stylistically and creatively outshines that of many of her contemporaries (who are five to ten to twenty times her age). During her lightning-speed rise to fame at the insanely young age of three, people would gush in interviews about how fabulous Marla’s work was and how phenomenal it was regardless of the artist’s age. This changed however, following a CBS “60 Minutes” interview with her family which strategically implied the possibility that her father (also an abstract painter) had doctored her work. The public perception of her art became permanently tainted by suspicion. Although her work remains popular, her public persona is entrenched in drama, and in a sense has lost its innocence. If consumers and collectors were judging her art based on its aesthetic merits alone, this controversy would be irrelevant – the art itself has not changed, regardless of whether or not it was the fruit of a collaborative effort. Collaboration is not plagiarism. The perceived value has only been impacted because collectors and consumers were not simply purchasing pieces of art, but were investing to become shareholders in the mythology of the three-year-old miracle protégé. They were investing in Marla Olmstead herself, not just her work.
Art-focused reality television has recently been introduced, via Bravo Network’s “Work of Art” and its upcoming Canadian counterpart “Art for Love”, which will feature one of our own NF artists, Bryan Belanger (go Bryan!) On one hand, the potential for these programs to turn previously unheard of emerging artists into household names is hugely exciting. On the other hand however, the fame that follows from participation in this type of program can be a risk because the television network(s) alone will have the greatest hand in determining how artists are portrayed, by means of carefully editing their interviews and activities to convey an entertaining but not necessarily authentic caricature. An artist’s failure or success will therefore be only partially the result of their talent or skill level.
On “Work of Art”, very few detailed shots of the contestants’ actual pieces are shown. Instead, an overwhelming amount of time is spent documenting their attitudes towards the challenges assigned to them, their interactions with one another, their personal quirks, and life dramas. It is interesting to note that in both seasons of the show, all of the top finalists are physically attractive individuals. The older or less conventionally attractive artists are eliminated relatively early. Does the individual with the most marketable image prevail in “the search for the next great artist”?
The examples mentioned above raise several questions: does mass media exposure and the inevitable manipulation of artists’ personas truly benefit them (“any publicity is good publicity”), or does it instead have the power to wreak havoc on their careers? Should the identity of an artist be relevant to the perceived quality or value of their work? Do the personalities of contestants on art-oriented reality television outshine the merits of their art? Is this unfair, or simply the way to “play the game” to become commercially successful today? One truth stands despite these questions: it is more crucial than ever for artists to invest as just as diligently in crafting their public image as in creating their masterpieces!