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“Tonight” by Michael Graves

Tonight, the dead will remain dead.
And we, my love
aloft with life, shall reign
vibrant and shining, while
breath remains within us.
Glowing like two coals born of
incipient fire, bathed in recombinant light.
Memories of another time
sent to a place away, and told
to be still.
For tonight, the dead will remain dead.

–Graves 6/7/14

I am happy to announce that my book “Messages in a Bottle: Communications to My Future Self” took one of the top awards given by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association in 2018. Find out more about it, and about my book “Reflections on a Crystal Wind” at:

https://www.michaelgravespoet.com/

DOWNLOAD A FREE E-BOOK OF MY POETRY! (it’s easy):

1) Just click this link. https://hugohousepublishers.com/…/messages-bottle-paperback/

2) Then, click on the button that says: Free E-Book “A Glimpse Beyond”.

3) Download onto your phone, iPad or computer. “A Glimpse Beyond” downloads in Kindle, iBooks and other formats for your convenience.

Copyright © 2014 by Michael Graves, All Rights Reserved, except the right to forward and to share with friends – with credit — which is held to be a good idea and is thus encouraged.

Find more of Michael Graves’ poetry on MeWe at:
https://mewe.com/p/michaelgraves-poet

And on Instagram at: #mg_poet

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What’s a Giclee Art Print?

The Giclee (jhee-clay) print is the highest quality print available today. The word Giclee is a French word meaning `to squirt. The process is a type of digital printmaking that CANNOT BE DUPLICATED by other printing techniques. Because there is no visible dot screen pattern the resulting image has all of the subtle tonalities of the original art.

The image is created by a digital printer’s tiny ink jets, guided by a computer, that spray millions of droplets of water-based ink directly onto fine archival canvas, known as the “substrate.” Gicleés are produced one at a time, and, depending on the size and intricacy of the image, can take two hours or more for each print. The combination of special inks and substrates are carefully selected which assures maximum print longevity and exquisite visual quality. Thus producing exceptional museum quality prints.

This is a digital printmaking technology with great advantages in beauty and durability. The printer can achieve a true reproduction of an original in any size up to 5 feet, printed on archival canvas or portrait linen. The digital files are worked using sophisticated graphics software to fine-tune the images. New inks used in Giclee printing have the longevity of watercolor paints. The museum quality Giclee has the same appearance as the original and when framed cannot be distinguished from the original.

Although prints can be made on paper, Giclees can also be printed on canvas or fine-quality portrait linen so that they may be framed as oil paintings, without glass.

Dozens of museums have mounted exhibitions or purchased Giclées for their permanent collections. These include The Metropolitan Museum (New York), the Guggenheim (New York), the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston), the Philadelphia Museum, the Butler Institute (Youngstown, OH), the Corcoran (DC), the National Gallery for Women in the Arts (DC), the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts (DC), the Walker Art Center, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the New York Public Library Print Collection, the High Museum (Atlanta), the California Museum of Photography, the National Museum of Mexico and the San Jose Museum, among others.

The Giclee can be shipped unframed, both to hold down the shipping cost and to allow you to choose your own frame to fit your home or office decor.

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Notes on Copying

Of course, you do not want to copy other artists’ work. Besides violating copyrights, it’s just unethical.

But why not learn from copying? Many artists paint old masters paintings just to learn how to do it. And you do learn a lot. As long as you aren’t selling it, or passing it off as a real old master, you’re good.

But another way of learning from copying is to paint photographs. You take the photo, so it’s your copyright, and no problem. There are a number of ways to do this. You can paint or draw by just looking at the photo and putting it into paint and paper or canvas. You’ll learn a lot from doing that. But most new artists who try that just give up and say they don’t like their own painting.

In order to teach one of my grandsons some art lessons I got him a “light table.” The one I got cost about $10 and it is a very thin piece of plastic which plugs into a computer port and lights up. Then you put your photo or whatever you want to copy on that and a blank piece of paper on top and the light shines through and you can draw outlines and shading of your subject.

The grandson has been very enthusiastic with it – he’s done about 30 drawings of things he would never draw just off the top of his head. And the result is that now he knows how to draw them.

I just recently tried it out myself, and it’s so much fun, I can’t get enough. I’ve been drawing faces and buildings and although I paint these subjects without the “light table” I have learned a lot about the details that go into making a good drawing by using it.

Think it’s cheating? Well, old masters had their little shortcuts, too. Look up camera obscura (“Camera obscura, also referred to as pinhole image, is the natural optical phenomenon that occurs when an image of a scene at the other side of a screen is projected through a small hole in that screen as a reversed and inverted image on a surface opposite to the opening.” –Wikipedia.) It was used to make drawings for paintings back before cameras. Tools of the trade.

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Music, Everywhere!

Do you ever listen to the sounds around you? I mean, really listen? For example, when someone speaks, “replay” their last few words back in your mind. Do you hear a melody?

Do you ever listen to the hum of a refrigerator and try to match the musical pitch? Have you then tried to harmonize with that hum? 

Drips of water, distant cars, birdsong, dropped cutlery, general background ambience even – there’s music everywhere, or at least, the basis of music.

 

In my last blog I explained that I found sound as important as the music itself. Perhaps even more important. I’ve been experimenting with sound for as long as I have been writing music and quite often when I’m out and about I carry means to record what hear. Once I get home, I import the recordings onto my computer where, if the recording is selected, I’ll use in one of my musical compositions. The usage can be simple or complex. It kind of depends on what “vibe” I’m in.

 

Simple uses include perhaps a recording of early morning birdsong placed gently under a chilled out piece. It sometimes gives a track a certain evocative “old National Geographic nature documentary” kind of feel. I’m sure you know what I mean. Public places like airport terminals, railway stations, libraries, shopping malls, are great to record in also. I love the general blur of lots of different voices, squeaky shoes on polished floors, distorted messages on the public address systems. Again, underneath my music, these give another kind of ambience like when you sit down in a busy place and watch the world go by. To me it’s like a frozen moment in time.

 

There is of course the more experimental side to using these recordings. Now this can be really fun, and interesting to me and a lot of cool “discoveries” have been made through experimenting with snippets of sound.

 

 Recently I used a recording of my cat meowing in a piece. Well, I didn’t just place it in a track, I first pitched it down so that he sounded deeper, I added a little reverb to give a more spacious sound, and then tweaked the recording here and there a little more until I realised I had what a prehistoric dinosaur might have sounded like! “Hey Batty!” (that’s my cat’s name), “You’re a diplodocus!”.

 

I was clearing out the kitchen last October when I dropped a few items of cutlery by accident onto the floor. Nice sound, so I got my “Zoom digital recorder” from upstairs in the studio, took it into the kitchen, and recreated that “accident” many times, with different amounts of knives, forks, spoons. I dropped them from near the ceiling and from barely above the floor, I put down different thicknesses of towels to dampen the sound. Anything to get out of actually cleaning the kitchen! Again I experimented with pitch, harmonics, ambience of the recordings and came up with some great industrial, but other worldly sounds – like huge steampunk trains clunking and clanking over points on the railway track. (Incidentally I once recorded a REAL train going over points, looped the recording, and sped it up considerably until it sounded like a kind of rhythmic rain!)

 

Currently I’m working on a piece of music in which I’m using a looped snippet of a recording from a table tennis match as the background rhythm. It gives a slight clumsiness to the track but in an oddly endearing way (read my previous blog about how imperfections can give an “honesty” to a piece of music.)

 

I love listening to the world around me. The sounds I hear IS music, and on a deeper, (kind of) spiritual level, it makes me feel connected to my environment. I feel more aware when I’m listening. It’s like my surroundings are playing a gig for me to enjoy and be inspired by, and if I really enjoy what I hear, I’ll record that “gig” and perhaps jam with it later. 

 

*While I’ve been writing this blog on my computer I’ve been made aware of the great sounds that my computer keyboard makes while I type. I guess that’s a track for the future!

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Great Feedback About my Fiction Books!

Author Ronald Joseph Kule

Haunted Robots took me to the edge of my chair again and again. This fast-paced story got under my skin and explored what was “under” the skins of robots, androids and military types – a classic battle of who takes control of the future! An entertaining read that may keep you up at night.” — Tracy Repchuk, 8-time #1 international best-selling author & Linked In Influencer

“Very intriguing… good, fast reading right from the start. I was taken into a world I intend to stay in all the way to the back cover and possibly beyond.” – Billie Wegmann, Executive Director, Celebrity Centre, Munich, Germany

  • * * *

“Ruined by Murder Addicted to Love… What a pleasure it was to find all this love and adventure in one book! I couldn’t put it down, stirred to find out what would happen next!”  — Sally Nutter, Entertainer, Sacramento, CA

“An ambitious book that tackles mankind’s biggest problem — how to find true love. To categorize this story as simply a romance would be an injustice. This one’s unlike any other I have ever read. You might just fall in love with it.” — DAVID CARUS, Entertainment Producer, Austin, TX

 

  • * * *

“‘THUNDERCLOUD (The Oddities of a Young Man’s Journey to Manhood)’ is a stunning novel! I am enjoying it very much and I loved reading about the shoofly pie – the first time I have heard about it! :).” – Jean Hughes, avid Vermont book-reader

 

 

You can find my fiction books here

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Wonderful Voicercise Testimonials

“This is our first experience with voice lessons, and we have been extremely happy with the progress our daughter has made in singing. First and foremost, our daughter enjoys lessons with Roxy and looks forward to her weekly lessons.

Secondly, we have seen a confidence growing inside of our Elena due to the lessons. Roxy is personable, genuine, professional and above all a delight and the best to work with, we love her!”  E.R.

 

“She’s the Best Vocal Coach in Pinellas County!”

“Awesome vocal coach. Helps you work with what you have and gives you the tools and support to drastically improve on the kind of music YOU wanna sing.” J.D.

 

“We reached out to Roxy to help our seven year old daughter prepare for a Shine Talent Show in Orlando. Within a few lessons, we noticed the difference on her voices range.

Before, she would go up on stage, hold the mic, look at everyone and cry. We had no idea at that point she had stage fright.

We contacted Roxy and explained the issue we encountered.

Roxy simply said, “We can fix that.” Sure enough at her next recital with Roxy, Bianca performed AMAZINGLY. So much confidence built, we couldn’t believe it!

Roxy is positive, energetic, patient, calm, experienced and accommodating. I just can’t say enough positive things about her!” B.T.C.

“I used to not be able to hear the notes, and now I know the steps to follow to make sure I am singing on key.

I didn’t think that would ever happen.

Voicercise knows exactly what you need and when you need it.

From the moment she hears, she’s like “Okay, alright this is what you need.”

It’s an awesome feeling, now when I sing at my church, people turn around and tell me they’ve noticed an improvement and ask me what I’m doing. ” W.O.W.

Visit Voicercise to find out more!

 

 

 

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“Different Doors” by Michael Graves

The image is copyrighted by its owner. I have no idea who this is, and no infringement is intended. I did a search on tineye.com and was unable to locate any attribution information. If you know of any, I would appreciate finding out about it. Thanks!

“Different Doors”

Art is a competitive event
only among fools.

Do not concern yourself with those
who create what you do not. No matter
the brilliance of their light.
For they do not create
as you would create.

There is no competition among artists.
There are only different doors.
Other roads.
Windows that open
onto a different land.

The world that you create
is yours. And its vistas
are like no others.

Share it
or not.
It is your decision.
And only yours.

Do not be concerned
that what you create
will be less than that
of another – or more.

For in that direction lies
only death; or worse:
the decision to not create.

You are born of the raging winds
the mirrored pool
and the winding road that never ends.
You reside in that highest place
that looks out on vistas
which only you can see.

You are the only one
who will bring them home.
Or not.
As you decide.

–Graves 8/7/15

I am happy to announce that my book “Messages in a Bottle: Communications to My Future Self” took one of the top awards given by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association in 2018. Find out more about it, and about my book “Reflections on a Crystal Wind” at:

https://www.michaelgravespoet.com/

DOWNLOAD A FREE E-BOOK OF MY POETRY! (it’s easy):

1) Just click this link. https://hugohousepublishers.com/…/messages-bottle-paperback/

2) Then, click on the button that says: Free E-Book “A Glimpse Beyond”.

3) Download onto your phone, iPad or computer. “A Glimpse Beyond” downloads in Kindle, iBooks and other formats for your convenience.

Copyright © 2015 by Michael Graves, All Rights Reserved, except the right to forward and to share with friends – with credit — which is held to be a good idea and is thus encouraged.

Find more of Michael Graves’ poetry on MeWe at:
https://mewe.com/p/michaelgraves-poet

And on Instagram at: #mg_poet

The image is copyrighted by its owner. I have no idea who this is, and no infringement is intended. I did a search on tineye.com and was unable to locate any attribution information. If you know of any, I would appreciate finding out about it. Thanks!

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Masterworks of light and shadow by Chuck Rosenthal

When you see the still life painting by Chuck Rosenthal titled “Fruit Harvest #5” at his website gallery, it seems as though you can feel the textures.  Of course, if you touch the painting, you will only feel paint, but the thick, rough gold and purple cloth with smooth, cool purple grapes resting on it, brings up the feelings in the mind.  The artist’s concept and execution of the painting is very real.

A Rosenthal still life is a masterwork of light and shadow, contrast of color and texture.  To fully get the idea, you have to see the paintings. His comments on his own still life work were, “My preference for still life is in the fact that I am in complete control of the placement of the elements and the light. I am influenced by very good painters when I seek to do anything. I picture the works that they have done and try to keep in mind those really fine works that I have seen when I’m working. I’m always looking for contrasts.”

He says he is continually looking for things that are “visually exciting.”  That could include people or landscapes and the way the light falls at a particular time in a particular kind of weather.

When asked what inspires him to paint, the artist said, “Contrasts; light and shade, contrasts of form (e.g. a broad, nondescript stretch of sky with strong geometric shapes silhouetted against it), counterpoint in the composition, subtleties of light, atmospheric effects on objects and in general, strong drawing, objects receding into shadow and then erupting into the light.”

In 1963 Chuck Rosenthal set out to become a commercial artist. He studied at the National Academy of Design in New York City. He wanted to learn how to draw in order to do illustrations, but three months of study caused the idea of commercial art to go out the window and he decided to pursue fine art. Part of this decision was due to his teacher and mentor, Morton Roberts, who was an excellent illustrator and fine artist himself.

Many awards came his way for his artwork while he was at the National Academy. A scholarship to the academy and the Dr. Weller student prize were at the top of the list. In 1968 he gained membership to America’s oldest and most venerated arts and letters club, the Salmagundi Club, through efforts of another of his teachers, Daniel Greene.

Since the year 2000, several awards at local art shows have come his way, including two first places and a third place. One of his paintings hangs at Clearwater City Hall. His pastel work of a local landmark, Clearwater Memorial Bridge was selected for an international juried competition.

Several of his paintings are on exhibit at the Park Place Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.  You can see his present works on his website Chuck Rosenthal Fine Art.

 

 

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Honesty and Creativity

My musical journey started when I was around the age of three, I guess. My grandfather had an old out-of-tune upright piano in the spare room at my grandparent’s house, where I’d spend hours hammering the keys and generally making a racket. I loved the sound that it made. I have never figured out why until recently, but it sounded friendly, and even though it was, as stated previously, out-of-tune, it sounded “honest”. It was like someone who liked to sing just for the fun of it and didn’t mind their own limitations and imperfections.I loved that piano. It was one of my best friends. 

I’d spend timeless Saturday afternoons not only hammering out discordant versions of “Popeye the Sailor” (the first tune I ever learned!), but I’d lift the lid at the top, stick my hand in and scrape the strings with anything I could find – usually cutlery, much to my grandmother’s disapproval. I’d open up the front panel above the pedals and hit the strings with sticks from the garden. The stranger the sounds the better!

 

Then at the age of five my Grandfather let me listen to an album he had just bought. It was Jean Michel Jarre’s “Equinoxe” (if you have never listened to it you should check it out!) The year was 1978. Like most great albums on hearing them for the first time, it blew my mind. It was as if someone had dumped a whole pile of TNT onto that little flame that was my imagination. 

 

KABOOM!!!

 

The music was beautiful but it wasn’t that. It was those sounds! I had never heard anything like it. Immediately on listening I saw strange other-worldly landscapes, I visualized strange half-animal, half-machine beings who dived off high cliffs into purple oceans, or flew across green skies, or squelched around blue mud, or, or, or……my mind raced every time I listened to it. Those sounds! Sonic sunrises glistening on ethereal vapour oceans as metallic birds shot lasers off of high altitude clouds.

I’ll be forever grateful to my Grandfather for introducing me to my own musical journey in such a way.

 

Perhaps I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, I had learned something very important. Well, for me anyway:

 

Sound is as important as the music it carries. 

 

Sure, this album could have been played by an orchestra or a rock band and it probably would have sounded good either way, but I doubt that it would have painted the same dreamscapes in my mind or evoked the same wonder. It was the synthesizers and their sounds that painted those particular scenes. Or rather, I used those unique tones to paint my own pictures!

 

Growing up, I listened to a lot of different styles. My Mum often played Simon and Garfunkel, or Joan Baez in the house, my Dad played ELO. Lots, of ELO! But again, I was always aware of the sound. S&G had a warmth, like a cosy blanket, ELO had a rhythmic energy that would shake me out of bed when my Dad played their records late at night. Even forty years down the line, I swear sometimes that I can hear THAT bassline to “Livin’ Thing” as I try to get to sleep.

 

Over the years, I explored many genres but  I kept coming back to that recurring idea – it’s the sound that I love. Of course I love the music also. But what I mean for example is, listening to recordings of someone like Woody Guthrie, there’s tape hiss in the background and audio distortions due to less sophisticated recording equipment back then. This is as important as his songs. The imperfections take us back. It’s like listening to an old memory – something you forgot that you ever remembered in the first place! And it sounds kind of honest. It’s not trying to be something that is isn’t. Mowtown wouldn’t be “Mowtown” without its own slight distortion (you can hear that often in the vocals) . 80’s synthpop would never be if it were void of its over the top “sparkle”. Heavy rock would sound…well, a lot less heavy without guitar feedback. These things that I speak of isn’t the music, but it IS “the music”! It’s the soul.

 

Melodies, basslines, harmonies, chord structures. Of course these elements of a song are vital. This is the communication of the song. The sound however is the quality of the communication. And I feel we’re often misled into thinking that by “good quality of communication” we mean a super clear, sharp, crisp, sonically perfect sound. Although we may find the principle of that appealing, in actuality it loses something. Take a listen to a lot of today’s music. There’s no tape hiss, there’s no microphone distortion – and if there is it’s deliberate. Everything, the drums, the guitars, the vocals, they’re all as “perfect” as they can be. Too perfect. There are many incredibly technically talented singers out there today with fantastic range and control over their voices. But when I listen to Johnny Cash (especially in the recordings he made just before his death), the gravel in his voice, his croak, his limited range (by today’s standards), the imperfections in his voice tell a story of a lifetime of ups and downs, highs and lows, successes and failures. It gives his songs soul. I mean REAL soul. He’s not trying to be anyone he’s not. The songs have “honesty”

 

I’m a recording artist, or a musician, or whatever. I normally tell people who ask that “I write and produce music”. That’s it. Sometimes I’m fortunate enough to make money from my art, sometimes I’m not. I used to get really bogged down with searching for this “sonic perfection”. Mixing tracks would take days, weeks sometimes. I lost sight of myself in the mix. It was as if spending all my energy in eliminating the imperfections I was extracting my soul from the music. My creativity lost its sparkle. I started writing less music as I felt that ultimately I’d end up disappointed with the final product. So I stopped focusing on production values too much and took the approach that some things are just meant to sound the way they are. (I’m not trying to justify not doing a good job with my art. My production techniques are at least competent and I still strive to create a good product. I just decided not to get hung up on spending days on “perfecting” a high hat, or obsessing over the level of one piano note in a whole song.)

 

When I did this I found that my creativity not only came back, it washed over me like a tidal wave of ideas! I splashed around in eddies and rip-tides of creativity. Over one weekend I wrote seven pieces of music. I even put paintbrush to canvas for the first time in years and completed two paintings. I experimented with field recordings, used sounds that I hadn’t used before. The seriousness had washed away and the fun and excitement came back like bright sunshine breaking through grey skies. My music started painting pictures in my mind again. Like an aesthetic feedback loop, idea followed idea. I found myself again. I was being me, an artist and not a technician. The excitement that I felt when I was five and listening to “Equinoxe” with my Grandfather once more embraced me. My music was “honest”.

 

I guess that none of us are perfect and maybe those imperfections in our work is actually part of our identity, our spirit, our uniqueness. And maybe the obsession with perfection of production was in some way like standing in front of a mirror and being disappointed because I didn’t like my reflection. Whatever happened, I realized that creativity and art should be fun and exciting, and you should not feel self conscious about the beautiful things you create. Have fun, lots of it, and go make wonderful things!

 

Colin McNeil

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Framing Tips by EC Sullivan

Fine Art by EC Sullivan

Fine Art by EC SullivanIf you have plenty of money, go to a frame shop and get your new painting custom framed. Always the best to let professionals do it. Mom and Pop frame stores tend to be less expensive than Hobby Lobby or Michaels or other big chains.

If you want to do it yourself, here are some tips.

Take your painting to a store whenever they are having a sale. Hobby Lobby has sales on frames about every other week. Michaels, too. Another good place to go is Jerry’s Artarama if there is one near you – they carry good frame packages (means you get the frame, glass, backing board and hanging stuff altogether) and pretty good prices. Or order online.

Pick a frame that your painting will fit into. Pick a piece of mat board of a color that goes well with your painting (this is why you bring the painting to the store with you). Cut the mat board to fit in the frame and mount your painting on top of the mat board using acid free double-sided tape. The deckled (ragged) edges of the painting will be showing, but I personally like that. When you pick a frame, you might have it an inch bigger than the painting, or 3 inches or 2 inches height-wise and 3 inches length-wise. Just make sure the picture fits into the frame with room to spare, and the mat board will take up the rest of the frame area.

If you do not like it get someone at the store you are in to cut a mat for you.

Unless you bought the package frame deal at Jerrry’s, you now need glass or plexi to fit into the frame to protect the painting. You can get non-glare glass or plexi, which is the best, but more expensive than plain old glass. You can get the frame store to cut it for you. It’s cheaper to get glass or plexi at Lowes or Home Depot and they also will cut it for you.

Lastly you need a backing board. Foam core is a good backing board. If you bought a whole sheet of mat board, you can use another piece of mat board.

To put it altogether, use glaziers points. You push them into a wooden frame. I have a frame gun for these, but that’s a huge expense and not needed unless you are doing a lot of framing. You can also use a staple gun – not very professional, but nobody is going to see the back.

To hang it, use a piece of framing wire and eye screws or D rings. You can get little picture hanging kits at craft stores or hardware stores that has everything you need to make a nice wire hanger.

If you’re in Hobby Lobby, check the frames clearance section – these are custom frames that customers have rejected. I’ve often found one that fits the painting I want to mount, and the price goes down as the year goes by – in December they are 90% off. These frames are not in the framing part of the store – they are off somewhere else. Ask where they are.

Call or email me if you have questions.

Elizabeth Sullivan
512 431 7756
ecsullivanart@aol.com
http://wildspiritartworks.com/

© Copyright 2020 EC Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.