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It’s been a while

(dusts off microphone)

Hello, all of you beautiful people of the interwebs! Yes, we’re still here. Long time, no post! Just because we haven’t been vocal in this space doesn’t mean we aren’t still actively working behind the scenes to keep EBSQ moving forward. We have a lot of plans in the works for 2019, including a revival of EBSQ’s exhibition calendar. Keep watching this space!

Onward & upward!

-Amie on behalf of Team EBSQ

From the EBSQ Archives: Art & Tax: When does your hobby turn into a business? by Michael J Dell, CPA

For many new and upcoming artists, they are concerned about the tax consequences of their new venture. You need to maintain your full time position as a computer programmer to pay the bills, but you have always had a desire to take your artwork on the road and create interest. For many of you this activity, in the view of the IRS is considered a hobby, and not a business. You must include, on your federal and state annual tax return, income from your sales of artwork. The IRS claims if you do artwork for recreation and pleasure it is a hobby, not a business. The IRS states “Hobby expenses are limited to Hobby income.” Deductions for expenses related to the activity are limited. They cannot total more than the income you report, and can be taken only if you itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040). In other words if you are not able to itemize, then all of your sales from your artwork will be taxed as ordinary income.

Well when does your artwork become a business venture? Simply, if your motive is to create a profit from your artwork, then you have a business. The general rule is an activity will be presumed to have been for profit if it results in a profit in at least 3 out of 5 consecutive tax years. It is possible that the IRS may treat you as engaged in a profit -making activity, even if you do not have a profit for 3 or more years. The IRS determines the activity’s status “’for profit or as a hobby” by considering the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Some factors that will be considered include the following:

  • The manner in which you carry on the activity.
  • The expertise possessed by you.
  • The time and effort you expend in carrying on the activity.
  • Your history of income or loss with respect to the activity.
  • The amount of occasional profits, if any, that you earn through the activity.
  • Your financial status.
  • Elements of personal pleasure or recreation.

Once you have met the IRS guidelines then the next step is to determine what type of structure your business will be. Forms of ownership includes, sole proprietor, partnership, corporation, LLC or LLP. Another area to consider is where you sell your artwork? Will you attend out of state shows? Will you use a gallery? Or sell online? The main question to consider here is sales tax.

Our CPA firm specializes in individuals or groups considering a new business, how to get started and reporting requirements. We can explain the steps involved and assist in creating your business. Please send us your questions or call us at (412) 798-3157. The first email or call is free (minus any long distance charges) for EBSQ members. For more information about our firm please visit

Michael J. Dell, CPA

From the EBSQ Archives: How to Write an Artist’s Statement by Melissa Wotherspoon

What is an Artist’s Statement? An artist’s statement is a short document written by the artist which provides a window into the artist’s world. It offers insight into a single piece or an entire body of work and by describing the artist’s creative process, philosophy, vision, and passion. It enlightens and engages while at the same time giving the audience – potential buyers, exhibition curators, critics, fellow artists, or casual browsers – the freedom to draw their own conclusions. An artist’s statement reads easily, is informative, and adds to the understanding of the artist.

What isn’t an Artist’s Statement?

An artist’s statement is not a resume, a biography, a list of accomplishments and awards, a summary of exhibitions, or a catalogue of works. It is not insignificant and should not be hastily written. It is not difficult to understand, pretentious, irritating, or (gasp!) laughter-provoking.

Why should I write an Artist’s Statement?

People who love an artist’s work generally want to know more about the artist. Your statement will help your viewers answer questions they may have about your art. When viewers have answers, their delight in what you do increases, and they have more reasons to take your work home with them. The artist’s statement is therefore an effective marketing tool, building a bridge between artist and audience. But the artist’s statement isn’t just for them. In putting your art into words, you might find that ideas and thoughts you once had become more concrete. Your writing may open new channels in your mind and take you in new artistic directions. You might discover more about yourself.

What information should be included?

Well, this is really a matter of personal choice, but there are a few questions you might choose to answer:

  • Why do you create art and what does it mean to you?
  • How does the creation of art make you feel? What emotions do you wish to convey?
  • If the statement refers to a specific piece, why did you choose to represent this piece in this way? What do you call the piece and why? What materials did you use? What are the dimensions of the piece?
  • What inspires you? How are your inspirations expressed in your work?
  • What message are you trying to convey to the viewer?
  • How much time is spent creating your pieces?
  • How is your work a reflection of you?
  • What artists (living or dead) have influenced you?
  • What is your vision/philosophy?
  • What are your goals for the future?
  • What are your techniques and style and how do these relate to the medium?
  • How do your techniques and style relate to your vision/philosophy?

How long should it be?

The answer to this question depends on what kind of person you are. Are you the kind of person that gets right to the point, or do you like to tell stories and paint images for people in words? The key here is to express how you feel and create a statement that stands on its own and makes you happy. Remember that people usually don’t have the patience to spend a lot of time reading, so it’s better to err on the shorter side. Several sources recommend an artist’s statement be around three paragraphs (total of 100 words), and others say that a statement of up to one page is acceptable.

What kind of language should I use?

Keep your statement clear and concise. Avoid flowery language and “artspeak”. This only lengthens and weakens your statement. From a business perspective, the more you can relate to your viewer, the better your chances are of selling your work. Some specific terms you may wish to mention in your statement are the elements of art (line, colour, shape, value, space, form, and texture), and the principles of design (balance, emphasis, movement, harmony/unity, pattern, rhythm, proportion, and variety). These terms have the advantage of being art-related without being esoteric and pretentious. Use language that is comfortable to you, and let your words flow.
My words aren’t flowing. How do I deal with that blank page?

The more art you do, the better artist you become. The more writing you do, the better writer you become. Here are some suggestions for eliminating that blank page. Write every day if possible – it only needs to take a few minutes, and there’s nothing lost. Any writing is writing practice.

  • Gather your favourite writing materials. Treat yourself to a new pen and a schnazz spiral-bound notebook, or pour yourself a favourite hot drink while you sit at the computer. You need to enjoy using your writing materials in order to enjoy writing.
  • Allow yourself some uninterrupted time. Turn the ringer off, and if you’re handwriting, turn off the computer. Create an environment that is conducive to writing.
  • Remove your internal editor. With your eyes closed, visualize your internal editor, the person who censors your thoughts. With your eyes still closed, tell them that you don’t need them around, and escort them out the door or lock them in a closet. Come back in the room and open your eyes. Be watchful – your editor will try to sneak back in and whisper their unwelcome commentary. Remind them to go away while you write.
  • Timed writing exercises. Freewriting exercises are frequently used to help people learn a new language. They allow for free-flowing ideas, and shut down internal editing systems. Set your timer for 3-5 minutes and write about anything in a stream-of-consciousness. What you write doesn’t have to make sense. Don’t scribble over anything or do any editing of any kind. You don’t even have to read what you’ve written afterwards.
  • Against and For. On a blank page (or blank monitor screen), make a table with two columns. Write “Against” and “For” as column headings on the left and right, respectively. Set your timer for 3 minutes, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you don’t need an artist’s statement. Then take a break. Do something else for a while. Come back and set the timer for 3 minutes again, and write down every possible reason you can think of why you need an artist’s statement.
  • Talk to yourself. Each time you start working on your art, tell yourself, “I will listen to my inner thoughts and capture them in my conscious mind”. Ask yourself while you’re working, “What am I thinking at this moment?”
  • Be ready for it when it hits. Have a notebook handy at all times (especially when you’re working on your art) to jot down thoughts as they come to you.
  • Talking Art. Imagine you are in your studio (or kitchen, in my case), and one of your pieces starts talking to you. Write down what it says, no matter how ridiculous. Limit yourself to 3 minutes.
  • Record yourself. Run a tape recorder while you’re working on your art or talking to someone on the phone about what you do.
  • Pretend you’re in your own documentary. Record yourself answering the questions listed earlier in this article. If you have a video camera, MAKE a documentary!
  • The alien exercise. If an alien were to land in your studio, how would you explain to him/her/it what you do?
  • The desert island schtick. You are being sent away to live alone on a desert island. You are allowed to bring all your art supplies. They’re a given. But what else will you bring for inspiration? You can only paint so many sunsets and weave so many baskets before you become cocoNUTS. Make a list of 15 things that will inspire you.
  • Be a quote collector. Every time you see a quote that inspires you, write it down, no matter what it’s about. If you have ever kept a journal or diary, pick out some of your own phrases to add to your collection. Maybe they’ll come in handy.
  • Sentence schmentence. Write down words that come into your head. They don’t need to be in the form of sentences until the last stage of writing, when you unlock your personal editor from the closet.
  • Reading the dictionary is not just for Scrabble. Peruse the dictionary. There are some great words out there just dying to be used. Write down any words that float your boat.
  • PMI. This stands for Plus, Minus, Interesting. This structure is used in teaching to get students thinking metacognitively (i.e. thinking about thinking). When you finish a piece, write down one positive thought about the creation of the piece, one negative thought about the creation of the piece, and one interesting (hmmm) thought you had while creating the piece.

Can an artist’s statement change?
Yes! An artist’s statement is a living document that should change because you change. Your statement could be updated at about the same rate that you might update a resume, in the least. At the most, review your statement each time you create a new piece, to see if your thoughts still have meaning for you. Review your statement when you experience profound events that alter your creative vision.

Where Can I Find Examples of Artists’ Statements?

Browse the portfolios of artists right here at EBSQ! There is a wealth of inspiration here, so if you’re an artist trying to find your voice in words, you’re more than likely to find something here that will motivate you to set pen to paper.


From the EBSQ Archives: Creating a Successful Online Auction Listing by Sonya Paz

The perfect scenario. The new auction art collector cruising the endless page after page of art, sculpture, wrought iron tangibles, wild extravagant paintings of interesting mixed media artworks and then he stumbles onto your page and viola!: this person is drawn in…..

Impressed right off the bat because your page loads fast they can now start the examination process of absorbing the valuable data contained within this precious document. Your titles are clear, the size of your piece is noted, and you have offered a prime concise image of your artwork. They are so excited that you have touched a special nerve with them as there were no fancy obstacles interfering in the thought process of why they are cruising in the first place…. to possibly buy something. Now they are completely ready. They zoom to the “place bid” area and contribute to a process that many can call history.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? If you can say yes, then you are most like on the right track with doing the right things with your auction pages. If you (at this point) are scratching your head wondering why your auction pages are not working for you then chances are that maybe there is something wrong. It can be many things, from the placement of your data to the over achievement of the cool new javascripts that are available for free.

Here are a few “S-O-N-Y-A-S T-I-P-S” to help you out:

Sounds. Unless they are an active part of what you are selling and in most cases they aren’t then lose the noise. Sounds are unnecessary.

Over Achievement. Excessive Javascripts fancy rollovers and flashing things in your face. Bad very bad. These things can tie up someone’s browser and can cause some computers to crash. Don’t think that any person will be visiting your site again anytime soon. These are distracting useless toys that are bad for the auction page environment. Don’t do this to people, they really can care less about these fancy whatchamacallits. Large scrolling 40 foot long pages with a ton of ads and the big giant “sell” aren’t popular either. The best formula is to think about you driving a car and how long you have to read a billboard on the side of the road at 55 mph. Same effect, keep focused, no distractions and less “is” more.

Not everyone has high speed Internet, so please take that into consideration when creating your page. Keep image files small and content quality high. What I mean by “content quality” is to take the time to indicate the details of your piece and this also includes your shipping parameters and any special notes.

Your Images. Now here is a biggie. This is what is going to help you be the most successful with your auction pages because this is what people want to see. Whether you are using an intense photo image application like Adobe Photoshop or a simple image editor like Photo-Edit you can still produce a nice image for your viewers. Exporting the images to .jpg with a result of quality from 5 to 7 is sufficient (this all varies with your photo editor application). Try not to think that making it the highest quality is always better because then your image will take longer to download to screen.

Animations are annoyances. Two words. Loose ’em. Hopping doggies and bouncing smilie faces do it for me…. I am outta there.

Stealing. (okay, let’s for the sake of harsh words let’s call it “borrowing” shall we.) Sure, we can all get inspired from many different outlets whether it’s another artist site or page or some unique clever wording that someone be as original as possible, make a statement or add verbiage that is pertinent to your persona. Our ability to create descriptive words to enhance our art is as original as the art itself.

Templates and Technique. A simple HTML editor can assist you in designing the architecture for your page and you can keep your template and use it for all your auction pages, this way your look will always be consistent and then you can always add or delete data easily. Most editors do not have a spell checker, take the time to review your grammar.

Interests and Inspirations. Based on the way that eBay handles keyword spamming it would be best to note any additional interests, admired art legends, areas of inspirations on a separate page. In eBay they give you a place where you can own and maintain a personal “me” page if you are a registered eBay user. This way you won’t have eBay emailing you accusing you of keyword spamming and you can still get your point across to your viewers.
Practice and patience. Take your time. Learn basic HTML commands for your pages, get the most out of the cool tools available. There are a lot of handy free resources on the Internet :o)

Stop. Look and Listen. If after reading and taking these tips into consideration you need a second set of eyes to review your content and give some constructive criticism then go for it. Ask a friend to take a peek, it’s better that they give you the thumbs up before your viewing audience gives you a thumbs down…..

Sonya Paz is a professional fine artist/painter living in San Jose, California. Sonya is also an established web and graphic designer and has written many articles based on her experiences in the corporate world and how she manages her fine art business today. In 1996 – 1998 Sonya wrote the “Funky Thought of the Week” for the on-line publication Soho Saltmines.

From the EBSQ Archives: Sonya on Shipping Your Art by Sonya Paz

Being in the retail end of things for some time, you learn lots, especially when your clientele expands to shipping across country and overseas. Most of the most valuable lessons of shipping etiquette is learned good old fashioned hard way, you either over charge and your customers think you’re nuts, or you undercharge and you basically eat the rat (and feel cruddy to boot).

So based on the experience I would like to share with you some shipping tips, techniques and ideas!

Here are some smart shipping considerations to keep in mind when managing and shipping your items:

1.) Before posting your items for sale be sure to measure and weigh your art piece. Including this information on your auction site or web site is also valuable for customers.

2). Purchasing bubble wrap, corrugated frame corners, tape and other shipping supplies on-line (like on eBay) can save you a lot of money, they are very reasonable if you purchase then on-line even with the shipping, the local packaging store tends to be more costly. Buying on-line also provides door to door service.

3.) Get a box that fits your item, have enough to surround the edges (3-4 inches) enough for the bubble wrap to cushion, but not too much where your item is swimming in the carton. Collect and save scrap corrugated squares to back the canvas in or to provide support to the paper or unframed pieces.

4.) If you are shipping smaller pieces or are relatively flat like watercolor/acrylic paper works or canvases that are smaller than 19×17, you can get Priority or Express boxes for no charge from the US Postal service, you can ship these boxes flattened as well. The great thing about USPS Priority shipping is that it’s really inexpensive, you can get package tracking for only .35 cents and they have insurance available. UPS includes the insurance in the shipping up to 100.00, the amount thereafter is minimal and well worth it.

5.) If at all possible, have an area where you can keep all your shipping supplies together, so you can manage all of your shipping and packaging in a single place. If you do not have a place in your studio, home apartment, garage to do shipping, getting a box to keep your supplies in can prove useful.

6.) Include a note with your sent items thanking your customers for their sale, this really makes your new collector feel like they are dealing with a professional, makes a great impression and say a lot about who you are.

7.) Have all your paperwork, labels, any insurance or tracking tags completed and your package all ready to go when entering the doors to the post office or UPS. Being organized like this will help in getting you in and out. (The clerks and customers will also appreciate this!) USPS labels, tracking and insurance tags are also no charge, feel to pick up these supplies from the post office, they may also be ordered from the USPS website:

8.) If you have on-line processing for UPS/FedEx be sure to keep hard copies of your transactions/tracking numbers, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

9.) Keep all your shipping and tracking receipts organized by day, week or month (depending on your shipping frequency), keep them in an envelope/box with your shipping supplies. In the event you need to reference any information, you will know where it is and you can expedite the tracking quicker. After shipping, email your customer to give them the scoop on their package, provide them with the tracking numbers. Most times customers like to see the on-line status and they appreciate this. Don’t make your customer wait for this information.

10.) UPS and USPS are great sources for shipping on domestic (USA) shipments. Depending on the shipment size etc can vary on the shipper. For International Shipping USPS is very reasonable, they have an area on their website to calculate shipping costs: I have found this to be average source of exact information, however if you go to the post office and inquire directly with the clerk, they will look up the data for you, every country is different and each has their own shipping requirements. FedEx, DHL, Airborne are far too costly sources for overseas shipping.

Some Serious “Don’ts” When Shipping:

1.) DON’T put your paper works of art in a flattened box without any type of protection (wrap in tissue, plastic or craft paper), this will protect your art.

2.) DON’T use newspaper to directly wrap your items. Bad, very bad. News print rubs off and will damage/tarnish your work of art.

3.) DON’T scribble the mailing label, if you have poor penmanship then print out the address directly from your customers email and adhere that to the package.

Final S.O.S. Thought… Invest the time and effort to pack your items well, by being in a rush to make it to the post office/shipping depot can potentially harm your buyers investment. Because the objective is to make them smile when they open it …. right?

Sonya Paz is a professional fine artist/painter living in San Jose, California. Sonya is also an established web and graphic designer and has written many articles based on her experiences in the corporate world and how she manages her fine art business today. In 1996 – 1998 Sonya wrote the “Funky Thought of the Week” for the on-line publication Soho Saltmines.

From the EBSQ Archives: Creating a Web Presence by Therp Sajik

(Editor’s note: this article was originally presented in 2003, so some of the advise/technology recommended is now out of date)

To say that computers and the birth of the digital change has changed many aspects of our lives may be an understatement when historians look back to our modern times. From the introduction of the first machines by Babbage to the latest Macintosh computer, digital technology has changed the way humans interact with one another. Everything from leisure, communication, commerce and even art has been altered in ways in which we may not even understand as we live in this time of digital growth.

There had been little change over the last few centuries in the ways in which artists have worked. Their use of canvas, putty, wood, paper and so many other mediums have been popular in the creation of some of the worlds most famous artwork by some of the world’s most recognizable artists. Early artists were limited by the society in which they worked and lived in gaining exposure of their art form. To become a well known artist often took many decades since the cost prohibitive nature of advertising was too much for struggling artists. Even in the earliest part of the twentieth century there was a cost barrier when attempting to reach thousands of people, let alone millions. Covers of magazines, painted billboards, and advertisements of all types were the best ways for an artist to gain national acclaim and to eventually become a household name.

Then came along a network in the 1960’s that would eventually change everything for people everywhere. The eventual evolutionary outcome was what we see as the modern internet. With email, instant messaging, web sites, on-line forums, chat rooms, and more came the ability of countless numbers to reach others throughout the world for a moderate cost.

Working in 1992 for NSFNet, I saw firsthand the switch from the original primitive typed commands to the current standard GUI-based (Graphical User Interface) internet. Even in 1992 many failed to see the potential and eventual growth of the internet from a network of high education institutions to the explosion of the world wide web. The earliest websites were hand-built by people who had the patience to code in Hyper-text Markup Language (HTML). But as the last two decades have passed, countless software companies have sprung to life to give even the most casual user the ability to create a web presence.

Artists can now share their work with millions. From the woman across town to the woman half-way around the world, the power of the web can change the way in which an artist is able to financially survive and even prosper. Or at minimum, artists have the ability to share their art for much less money than in any time since the birth of art. The key to continued success may be a web presence.


Does an artist who is busy creating, showcasing in galleries, and even living their day-to-day existence need a web presence? The initial response to such a question is no. Although a web presence is not necessary to be a well known or respected artist, the opportunity to share art to the world is better now more than any other time in the history of the internet. There are several reasons why now is such a good time to appear on the web. The cost of reaching potential buyers is diminishing, the web is growing, and the word-of-mouth factor works faster on the web than any other traditional method.

In advertising the effectiveness of any advertisement is measured by cost per potential viewing. The cost per viewing measurement is used to assist marketers in making the best choice among several options for products and services. The same yardstick can be utilized by artists showcasing their talent to the public. The cost per potential view for the internet is falling as the internet grows with more potential buyers of your art. In addition to this exponential growth of the web, the ways in which web sites are being sorted and prioritized by search engines is making the process of finding areas of interest, artwork in particular, easier for people. The internet is available to almost a half-billion people now and it continues to expand every moment of every day. Top sites like eBay and Yahoo! are good examples of how the web has grown in just the last four years and how beneficial membership can be to an artist.

The cost can be from free (as a member of a site providing free web presence) to just under a hundred dollars per year to get started with your own domain and a few megabytes of space. The word-of-mouth power of the internet can be seen in the simple chain-emails we see everyday. Imagine how many people who see your site will share it with friends and family when they see art they love. Using the web to advertise your mailing list alone is more cost effective than direct mail-outs. With only a five percent response to direct mailings (which cost out of pocket), the internet allows for the emailing of hundreds or even thousands of people for the cost of your time of gathering emails from people who sign-up to be on your mailing list. Interest is evident when people sign-up and thus the positive response is much higher when you have art available for purchase via the web.


The number one fear of artists (or anyone actually) in creating a web presence is lack of skills to create a website, upload images, and effectively advertise their existence to the world. Two words in response to this excuse for not having a spot on the web; the library. Your tax dollars pay for them, your children use them, so why not get a few books and start reading. If there are no books to answer your questions, then go to your local bookstore, ask a clerk for help, write down information on the book they recommend and then go back to the library and request that the library order one of those books. Most, if not all, libraries have a dedicated portion of the budget set aside for patron requests. Try it. It works. Another idea is to seek the help of online groups who have countless numbers of members with either the skill set or knowledge of resources available to an artist to get their website up and running.

The items you will need to be successful is software, the ability to capture digital images of your artwork, website host, and then advertising. Software costs to get a web page built can range from free (Netscape Communicator) to moderate (Microsoft Word -save as HTML) to a bit expensive (Microsoft Front Page). Keep it simple to start and worry about the bells-and-whistles later once you have gotten onto the web. To capture images of your artwork, depending on your art form, will require the purchase or access to a scanner or digital camera. Both of which technologies are continuously advancing as prices for slightly outdated technology continues to fall. A respectable scanner and respectable digital camera can both be pursued for under a hundred dollars. Check sources on the web for the best features for capturing artwork. is a good source for this type of information on cameras, scanners, and almost everything related to computers. Website hosting can range from free with banner pop-ups to pay sites.

The lowest cost alternative for web hosting is becoming a member of a group such as EBSQ. Membership cost is low and with it comes free advertisement and a large base of fellow artists who draw thousands of viewers every month. There are several respectable artist groups to become a member of for a low fee.


Once you have decided to make an appearance on the web, there are a few options to consider. What type of website, the theme of your website, and other decisions should be made before starting to acquire web space.
There are several types of websites. One where an artist simply showcases a few examples of their work, or a site where an artist has active on-line sales through the site, or a site that simply offers the latest news and contact information, or a website with a little of everything. There are pros and cons of each type. Maintenance and updating information on a site can cut into time for the creation of art. But by keeping a good selection of available art listed on your site may be an opportunity for additional sales when someone may not want the particular art they found off of your site but they began looking for more of your work on your site. One must weigh the cost of commitment to the benefit of additional potential sales.

Another decision that must be made is whether to have a theme on your site or to have just a hodge-podge of art, text, and graphics. Some resemblance of a common theme running throughout a site is often better than just throwing text and images on a site and hoping people find their way through it. At minimum there should be clearly defined links for people to use to navigate through your site. Images of art should always be clear and as close to reality in color as possible and also information about whether it is available or already sold or even not for sale is always a good idea. Often some hosts offer free web stats, especially paid hosts, and using the information in the stats you can quickly see by review where people leave the site. By reviewing the information and seeing a trend and then by looking at the part of the site where most people leave, you might find a bad link or some other reason why you lose so many visitors. Editing problem pages can mean the difference between someone continuing

There are so many other decisions to make before designing and rolling-out the site. The best recommendation I give is to spend several hours looking at fellow artists and other successful people and see what some of the attributes of their sites that make you want to visit them again and again on a regular basis.

Hopefully some of the information offered will assist you in deciding to make a web presence in 2003 and will lead to an increased awareness by the web public in your artwork. Keep creating and I hope to see you on the web very soon.

From the EBSQ Archives: Live Studio- Logo Design Basics by Lauren Cole Abrams

Editors Note: Some images where re-sized to fit our original zine format – some quality was lost. We apologize to Lauren and hope it does not reflect poorly on her.

Having and using a good logo is important in establishing your identity as an artist….it not only creates a memorable impression of what kind of art you do but encourages a feeling of familiarity and recognition among your patrons. It is often the first impression others have of you and your artwork, make it a good one!

Following certain basic principles can ensure that your logo design is professional, easy to remember and creates a great impact on its viewers while successfully expressing the nature of your artwork.

The ideal logo says volumes in the most basic of images…it should be your “essence”….what you are and do, but reduced, strong and succinct. Try to be clever if you can, but not at the expense of clarity. Keep it simple, yet compelling.

Just as in any other form of art, your logo needs balance….line density, shape, arrangement…all are important in reaching a balanced and pleasing logo.

Your logo needs to be able to work well at any size and in black and white as well as color….not an easy task! Your logo needs to look as good on your business card as it might on a large sign…and often it is used in strictly black and white instances such as photocopies, newspaper ads, etc.

Of course, being artists, we love color and use it as often as possible…just make sure your color logo can translate easily to black and white.

I have been told It is advisable to always use a vector format, since logo designs done in vector format can be expanded to any size without loss of image quality. Also it is easier to convert a vector logo design into bitmap than vice versa. I personally am computer challenged and still do logos mostly on paper with ink…advice on how to create logos using the computer is something best asked of people who actually know what they are doing.

Once your logo is ready, start giving it as much exposure as is possible. Not only on your business cards, but also on your packaging, marketing, and all other possible areas. It makes you look professional and credible, even if your studio is a tiny section of your bedroom.

Typefaces are, of course, a very important element of the design….there are thousands of fonts to choose from…some are heavy and bold, some light and airy, some vintage looking, futuristic, sleek, cartoony….after a while you will get a feel for the kind of type fact that “speaks” to you. Use it to express yourself, study how type is used in other logos, in magazine ads….book covers, anywhere type is used….each face usually has several versions—bold,light, condensed(squished together so you can fit a lot of letters in a small space)and extended(each letter drawn out widely so you can fill up a lot of space with just a few letters)italics, and so on… there are also lots of ways to customize typefaces…although you should be probably have some experience before trying to do it manually…there are many ways to manipulate it through software programs though and you can do endless permutations of a typeface once you get the hang of it….like having a beautiful, subtle drop shadow behind them….or a graduated color filling an outlined typeface…the possibilities are endless…but remember, simple is best!!

Here are a few examples of very effective logos…they don’t represent artists or artwork, but you can apply what you learn from logos like these to your own…a good designer usually looks at tons of reference for inspiration…so logo hunting is a good place to start….

You can find online a number of “create your own” logo software programs…like this one
try it…it’s a great way to move things around and get a feel for possibilities….and if you love what you create, you can always pay the fee and stop there….but I like it as a tool to play with….then take those ideas and go from there….. using a program like this one, I created a number of “logos” to show you some good ideas and some bad ones….let’s start with the bad ones… are a group of logos that at first glance might seem ok, but then you start to ask…hmm…what does a swan, or a rabbit have to do with fine handbags? a tad simplistic but i wanted you to see them….

So now that we know what NOT to do…here are some that show you how different a logo can look depending on the typeface and layout you use….

labeana1copy labeanacopy

…..and I haven’t even begun to add pertinent images of actual handbags…..but these can give you just an idea of the many ways you can manipulate typeface, layouts, etc in your search of the perfect logo….Once you have something you like, print it out in different sizes and see how it works for you…..
I’m going to stop using labeana as an example because I’m still working on that one lol…but here are some layouts for two different logos…one is for a painter and the other for a photographer….these are just a few ways you can go…

Here are some examples of different typefaces and a paintbrush symbol…..I finally come up with something that I like…using the paintbrush to make it look like it has “painted” the word paintworks……


I like this one even better—-


here is another alternative…..


Now I will work on one for a photographer…….


I start off with a simple camera image and a bold type face…then I start moving them around….you can do this with your computer but also with tracing paper….just put the type and image on one paper and slip it under the tracing paper…and trace different ways to use it… much better than having to erase all the time…anyway I am not thrilled with any of them….so it’s time to do another one….


I like one or two of these better but I’m still not happy…..i try something a little different….


using these elements i fool around some more and come up with this….


I like it but it’s not quite there yet….

ta da….much better, well balanced and more interesting…


Just like any other piece of artwork it’s hard to know when to stop……lol

From the EBSQ Archives: How to Build Your Own Custom Boxes for Shipping Art by Kini Art

17 simple steps to build your own boxes for shipping stretched canvas

Supplies needed:
2+ USPS priority mail tube boxes (#O-1098M), FREE from the USPS website
USPS priority mail tape, FREE from the USPS website
scissors for cutting/scoring cardboard
scissors for cutting extra sticky priority mailing tape

1. Open the 2 priority tube boxes and lay flat with brown side.



2. Pull the box bottoms away from the inside of both boxes.



3. Remove the glue cover strip from box 2.



4. Line up the boxes evenly, then carefully set the right edge of box 1 over the exposed glue of box 2. Press firmly to seal.


5. Now you’re ready to determine the thickness of your box. After preparing your painting for shipment (shown here sandwiched between 2 flattened boxes for protection), lay your art on top of the (now joined) box 1 and 2.



6. Place your painting beside the pre-existing fold crease of box 1. Fold up so the side of the box is next to your painting, and choosing how much extra width you prefer the painting to have inside the box and poke a small cut to use as a starting point for scoring a 2nd parallel folding crease (I prefer my box to be no more than 1/4 inch wider than my painting).



7. Using just one point of your scissors, gently run them from that starting point down to the opposite end of the box (from bottom to top). **Be sure you are not cutting clear through, as you only want to score a crease for folding.** Repeat this on both sides of your painting.



8. Now Returning to the bottom of box #1, cut the first flap completely off. Then finish the cut as shown…This piece will be the bottom of your side panel and will fold inside the bottom of your box. (Gray lines represent your scored and pre-creased folds)



9. Moving to the bottom of box #2, cut your bottom side panel by snipping in the same area as on box #1, and then cut along your scored area up to the bottom crease. (Again, gray lines in the diagram represent your scored and pre-creased folds) Now finish that cut along the crease to the outer edge of box #2 , completely removing the larger portion with the pre-cut circle in it. Now, you’ll notice there is a gap in the center between the bottoms of box #1 and #2… Use the piece that you just cut away to fill the gap, and secure with tape.



10. Use the point of your scissors again to score a fold on the bottom piece of box #1, that will will fold up into your box bottom. (See diagram)



11. Now ready to start folding the bottom of your box:
Begin with the bottom of box #1…
Lift A1 upward off the floor so that the side of your box is touching the side of your painting.
Now fold A2 over so it is against the bottom of your painting, and hold it there (this will also keep A1 upright)
Lift A3 up and fold over at the score – this will put A2 inside the box between the bottom and your painting. A3 should be folded over the front of your painting.
Repeat the same process to form a bottom on box #2… and secure with tape.



12. Both A1 pieces can now be folded over the top of your painting and taped to the newly built bottom.
If your find that you have a gap down the center front of your box, you can easily fix this by taping an extra piece of cardboard from a 3rd priority tube box on the inside. You can expose and use the glue strip from A1 of box #1 to help hold it in place while you begin taping.



13. Now you’re ready to stand your box up and create the top flaps.
To begin, cut the original flaps off completely.



14. Cut each of the four corners down to about 1.5 to 2 inches above your painting, and fold the side panels down so they’re covering the top of your



15. Open your scissors to measure the width of the box from front to back. Now simply rotate the scissors so they are upright along the piece you need to cut – they will already be spread to the height you’ll need your front/back pieces to be.



16. Now simply cut away the excess height, fold closed…



17. And begin taping. I use a LOT of tape – taping over the one remaining pre-cut circular hole in the bottom, any tiny opening, once or twice around the entire package (both vertically and horizontally), and at all the corners.


This method works great with canvases up to around 36″.
You could build bigger boxes with this method, just keep in mind the size limits for USPS.

From the EBSQ Archives: Gordon Parks- Appreciation of an artist’s life work by Diane Barton

GordonParkImage002“The guy who takes a chance, who walks the fine line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.”
– Gordon Parks

‘Do you know who Gordon Parks is?’ If you answered ‘No’ I was with you 5-6 years ago. While researching something online one night, I came across an area college photography contest. It mentioned the man the contest was named after, Gordon Parks. I sought to learn more the artist worthy of a college art competition.

Gordon Parks at Life Magazine

If you answered ‘Yes’ you may relate to me now six years later. Here I am with a shelf full of books on and by him, a signed photo of him for inspiration on my office wall, and he is discussed so often in my college courses on photography, that my students often affectionately refer to him as “Gordon baby”.

GordonParkImage004The youngest of fifteen children, Parks was born in 1912 and raised in Fort Scott, Kansas.   Fort Scott is approximately 50 miles from where I sit typing this article. Our great state is known for many historical events, including Brown vs. the Board of Education, a court decision that theoretically ended segregation in schools, the famed Buffalo soldiers black Calvary, abolitionist John Brown, and Nicodemus, the only continuously surviving all-black community west of the Mississippi.   Yet it took me until the age of thirty-five to learn about this man, and what I learned impressed me beyond the words I can put together.

American Gothic by Gordan Parks

“American Gothic”

From meager beginnings great things came to be. Parks repeatedly credits his parents as being his heroes, for the “Compassion and generosity”, as they managed to raise such a large family in a small two-bedroom house. They helped to prepare him for a rough road that life had dealt him. Racism was a normal part of life in Kansas during his childhood, and he commented he considered himself “lucky to be alive especially when I remember that four of my close friends died of senseless brutality before they were twenty-one.”

At the age of fifteen, his mother, a lifelong influence on him, passed away. As the youngest, his older siblings had long moved on and started their own lives. The young man went to live with an older sister in Minnesota, once there he and his brother-in-law had a disagreement. Gordon was forced out of the home and onto the thirty below zero streets. He managed to survive by working menial jobs, including a piano player in a brothel.

Eventually he fell in love and married. But he knew he would never be able to support himself and his growing family on his low wages. Searching for another way to make a living that would allow him to express himself, he knew he wanted more from life. He had witnessed others around him choose a life of violence and inevitably saw them fall victim of the life they chosen.

GordonParkImage012While working as a waiter on a train, he frequently found himself in Chicago, on layovers.   On one such stop he viewed pictures of the bombing of the ‘Panay’, a U.S. Navy gunboat. Eventually he also saw images created by the Farm Security Administration photographers, such as Dorthea Lange, Roy Stryker, Walker Evans and others. They all showed him that he could express himself and still show what was happening around him.   So at the age of twenty five he was inspired to buy a used camera for $7.50, and he to seriously pursue photography.

Ultimately he landed a job at Life magazine as a photographer and reporter from 1948-1968. But this was only a small portion of what this man has achieved. Below is a summery of a few of the things he has done over the course of the last ninety-one years.
The next day he shot a roll of film on the camera and sent the photos off to be processed. The people of Eastman Kodak saw his images and h=gave him encouraging words that lead to them giving him a small show in a storefront window in Minneapolis.
In time his photography won him a fellowship from Julius Rosenwald Foundation. This enabled him to begin working closely with the Farm Services Administration (FSA) and the noted photographer Roy Stryker.


In 1942 Parks moves his family to Washington D.C. in order to work for the FSA.   On his first day in Washington, Stryker told him to get a meal, see a movie and to buy a new suit.   But when Parks tried to do as he was told, he was shown the back door, refused service, and the stores mysteriously did not have his size, no matter what size he asked for. When Stryker asked how things went Parks commented that, “Mississippi couldn’t have been worse.” Stryker explained to him that his job was now to show through his photographs the way the country really was. It was not enough for him to simply take a photograph and label it “bigot”.  He would have to do more to truly show what was happening.

It did not take Parks long to begin a journey of a lifetime. His first professional photo was “American Gothic”. A charwoman happened to be mopping the floor of the FSA building when everyone else had left for the day, and Parks asked her to pose for his camera. Two days later he showed the piece to Stryker. He simply shook his head as he viewed the image. “Well your catching on, but that picture could get us all fired.”

Gordon Parks on the set of “Shaft”

Growing up in Kansas, when he did, he was not encouraged to go to college. Nevertheless he has gone on to be awarded over fifty honorary doctorate degrees from various universities. And despite the racism that was present in the industry, he was hired as a fashion photographer for Vogue Magazine, and became cofounder of Essence magazine. At the age of thirty-five he published his first book, “Flash Photography”, the start of numerous others, including ‘The Learning Tree’ in 1963. It is required reading for many school districts across the nation, and often included among the ‘most frequently challenged books list’. The latter he made into a feature film, as the first African American film director for a major studio (Warner Brothers). The filming required Parks to return back to Fort Scott Kansas to complete the project.

But the creation that most people recognize with his name is the movie “Shaft” in 1971. Making him what many consider as one of the contributions to the blaxploitation genre. Donald Faulkner, director of the Writers Institute once commented, “Gordon Parks was like the Jackie Robinson of film. His history as a filmmaker is part of American history. He broke ground for a lot of people, Spike Lee, John Singleton, who are working successfully now.”


His achievements are even more remarkable, when you consider that a man who never graduated High School achieved these things. To help rectify the situation, last July a delegation from his hometown, including a former mayor, came to New York and presented him with a high school diploma from the Fort Scott high school. Seventy-seven years after a teacher named Miss McClintock, told Parks and other black students within the school, “Don’t waste your parents’ money on college. You’ll wind up as porters and maids.” Parks is said to credit her with “…pushing me to find her wrong”.

GordonParkImage030This past February 2003, Parks publisher released the book, “The Sun Stalker,” a novel based on the life of J.W. Turner. It was his eighteenth book, including three full-length memoirs. Life magazine still calls upon him to write essays from time to time. Today at the age of ninety-one, when his health permits, Gordon Parks continues to do speaking engagements, and to personally accept awards.

If you wish to see his work in person, you can currently view a portion until February 29th, 2004 where a portion of his work is included in the International Center of Photography’s, NY, NY exhibition “Only Skin Deep; Changing Visions of the American Self”.

As an instructor, I encourage my students to seek out a mentor. It is expected that looking to others will find them guidance, ideas and hopefully prevent them from having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. It is also hoped that they will choose someone that will show them anything is possible. For me, one such person has been Gordon Parks. Although he began life as a poverty stricken youth on the Kansas Prairie, he seems to finally be gaining the recognition he has long deserved, as both a creative genius and an inspiration for many generations to come.

Color Images created by Gordon Parks

Fort Scott Community College Photography Competition
Library of Congress
Photographer: Gordon Parks (U.S. Government Charwoman)
PBS NewsHour transcript, January 6, 1998 Half Past Autumn
Flash site on Half Past Autumn
Gordon Parks Page E!Online
Biographical information Gale – Free Resources
Kodak Site on Gordon Parks
Ford Motor Company funding
Kansas State Historical Society

Gordon Parks’ Visions  (1986)
Half Slave/Half Free – Pt. 1  (1984)
Solomon Northup’s Odyssey  (1984)
Half Slave, Half Free  (1984)
Leadbelly  (1975)
The Super Cops  (1974)
Shaft’s Big Score  (1972)
Shaft  (1971)
The Learning Tree  (1969)
The American Documents – V. 9 A Moment in Time

Selection of Books
Arias in Silence / Little, Brown, c1994
A Choice of Weapons / Berkley Pub. Co., 1967, c1966.
Born Black. /   J.B. Lippincott, c1971.
Flavio / Norton, c1978.
Glimpses Toward Infinity / Little, Brown, c1996.
Gordon Parks: A Poet and His Camera : whispers of intimate things / Viking Press, [1971]
Half Past Autumn : a retrospective / Bulfinch Press, 1997.
In Love. / Lippincott, c1971.
The Learning Tree / Fawcett,   c1963.
To Smile in Autumn: A Memoir : / Norton, c1979.
Gordon Parks: A Poet and His Camera / Viking Press, c1968.
Shannon / Little, Brown, c1981.
The Sun Stalker : a novel based on the life of Joseph Mallord William Turner / Ruder Finn Press, 2002.
Voices in the Mirror : an autobiography / Doubleday, c1990.

From the EBSQ Archives: Forgetting the Self: Nathan Oliveira by John Seed

After 55 years of leaving behind the “real” world and creating a new, better one in his paintings, Oliveira has found that forgetting details can be liberating. Dismissive of art world fashions, and of intellectual currents, he has had the luxury of losing himself in his work, and forgetting the problems of the world. The figures in his art have been simply a starting place for the artist’s lifelong process of moving towards abstraction, in ideas and images.
In the process, he has found himself.

“To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” – Thirteenth Century Zen Master Dogen in a passage from his Genjo-koan

Standing Man with Hands in Belt

Nathan Oliveira, Standing Man with Hands in Belt, 1960
Oil on canvas, 82 x 62 in
Collection of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 

Spring Nude

Nathan Oliveira, Spring Nude, 1962
Oil on canvas, 96 x 76 in
Collection of the Oakland Museum 

The cover of the exhibition catalog Nathan Oliveira by Peter Selz displays what California art lovers would recognize instantly as a “classic” Oliveira canvas, Standing Man With Hands in Belt (1960). Like so many of the large oils that first brought Oliveira’s work recognition it contains a single figure set in and against a field of painterly gestures, fields, drizzles and drips. Inside the catalog, a full page is reserved for the dusky Spring Nude (1962) in which a seemingly weightless female evanescence from a salmon pink ocean of glowing, calligraphic brushwork.

Paintings like these, which Oliveira executed between 1957 and 1962, when he was in his late twenties and early thirties, brought him early recognition, but also created the public perception that Oliveira was only a “figurative” artist. He was seen as a late-joiner to the Bay Area Figurative School and it is true that he attended drawing sessions with its members including David Park, Elmer Bischoff and Richard Diebenkorn, who became a lifelong friend. The problem with this association, and with the early fame achieved by the artist as a young man, is that his approach to the figure was fundamentally different from that of the other San Francisco Bay Area artists.

As a traveling retrospective showcasing over fifty years of his efforts — at the Orange County Museum of Art from April 5th through June of 2003 — will show, Oliveira has used the figure as the starting point for his artistic process, but not as its true subject. Something similar could be said of his animal images, his sites and fetishes of the late seventies, and of the Windhover series of recent years: they hover in they appeal to the imagination but resist easy classification.

Triumph and Glory

 Jean Dubuffet, Triumph and Glory, 1950

Oil on canvas, 51 x 38 inches.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 71.1973.
Jean Dubuffet © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.  

The constant feature of Oliveira’s creativity is that he has been trying to forget his subjects, not to paint them. It turns out that an artist famous for his figurative work has been working towards abstraction all his life. His work portrays the struggle of the artist’s self and its consciousness to move towards a connection with the universal and the eternal. It is a struggle that begins with the perception of self and others, and which ultimately moves towards abstraction and destruction of those perceptions.

Oliveira’s real subjects are human presence — and absence.

– I always have wanted to be an abstract artist, but it had to be about something very particular. – Nathan Oliveira

When Oliveira’s work gained national attention in the 1959 New Images of Man exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the world was still absorbing the horrors visited on the human body by the Holocaust in Europe and the use of nuclear weapons in Japan. In this exhibition, Oliveira’s paintings were shown alongside those of leading Europeans including Alberto Giacometti and Jean Dubuffet who were creating images of the human figure that attempted to suggest the perilous condition of human beings in what seemed a bleak and Godless future.
As Peter Selz writes in the Oliveira catalog about Dubuffet’s treatment of the female body in his paintings of the early 1950’s:

His treatment violates all sacred and dearly held concepts of mother, wife, lover, daughter and sister, as well as the principles of beauty derived from cultural signals of the erotic.

The European philosophy of Existentialism had given its permission to artists who treated the body in such as radical way, since, in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre:

Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.

During the same decade when Europeans painted the body to suggest the despair of this condition, the American phenomenon Jackson Pollock one-upped the Europeans by eliminating the body from his art altogether and using dripped skeins of paint to project anxieties that were deeply personal and abstract. Just as America emerged from World War Two as the world’s leading power, New York surpassed Paris as the center of modernism and abstraction won the war of modernist styles.

Portrait of Joris de Caulerri
Portrait of Joris de Caulerri by Rembrandt

To understand how Oliveira became an artist — and to appreciate how quickly his ideas developed — it is necessary to consider the influences which shaped Oliveira as he grew up 3000 miles from New York, and even further from Europe.

As a high school student first studying painting he had been thunderstruck by a Rembrandt portrait, Jooris de Caulcerii (1632) in a San Francisco museum. Although Oliveira had grown up in a Portuguese Catholic household, Rembrandt was one of the first of a long line of Northern European, Protestant artists who would speak to him through their artwork.

Rembrandt was the first major European artist to plumb the self as artistic subject matter, and the artist’s anxiety and self-doubt were his gateway to profound realizations about personality and spiritual doubt. Rembrandt, with his Protestant anxiety, offered a way of coping, through art, with a modern world that had just begun its slow divorce from the rituals and rites of Catholicism, still tinged with helpful Pagan magic and the promise that an appeased God could protect those who renounce sin.

Oliveira must have recognized a particular aliveness in the Rembrandt portrait, the aliveness of an individual man living with the anxiety and promise of a world where Calvinist thought suggested that the face of God could be glimpsed through contemplation. Rembrandt, Oliveira realized, was a kind of master magician who could conjure up this aliveness of the self through the inherently abstract medium of paint strokes on canvas. It was as if an artist who had been dead for over 300 years had reached out through the canvas and handed Nathan the brush, saying “Why don’t you see what you can do with this?”

Although it was the representational art of Rembrandt which woke Oliveira up to the possibilities of painting, abstract art was a powerful force in the San Francisco Bay Area. When Oliveira enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts in 1947 Clyfford Still had been on the faculty for a year, and Mark Rothko was a summer instructor. The influence of abstraction was so powerful that by 1949 the San Francisco Annual was made up almost entirely of abstract art.

Max Beckmann, teaching in 1950 
Max Beckmann, teaching in 1950

At this same time, a powerful counter-current of Northern European art came to Bay Area in the form of exhibitions at the de Young Museum of Max Beckmann (1949), Oskar Kokoschka (1950), and Edvard Munch (1951). All three of these artists were Expressionists who relied on the story-telling possibilities of figurative art, and one of them, Max Beckmann, came to San Francisco in 1950 to teach a summer painting class which Oliveira enrolled in.

To study with Beckmann who disliked abstraction and called it “nail polish” was a challenging, stimulating experience for Oliveira. Some art historians have argued that the vogue of Postwar American abstraction was a kind of avoidance of historical content, and since the horrors of the holocaust and Hiroshima were honestly portrayed by photojournalism, Expressionist art seemed to have been outstripped.

Max Beckmann , Self-Portrait 
Max Beckmann , Self-Portrait

Beckmann, who spoke little English, was nonetheless a compelling teacher whose very presence was a reminder of the vitality of European painting traditions. He was a fully committed artist who had endured the humiliation of Hitler’s “Degenerate Art” exhibition, and a poignant exile from the vanished world of German Modernism.

As Oliveira later recounted:

“He seemed like a very fundamental man, whose only interest was in painting — that’s all he wanted to do. Still, I think from our encounters he communicated, indirectly, what artistic values were about.”

By the time Oliveira graduated from art school in 1951 he had already been confronted by the powerful artistic traditions that he has spent his career integrating and resolving: figuration and abstraction. His exposure to the work of Beckmann had convinced him that painting needed to tell a story, but the pull of abstraction would take his narratives into new, difficult artistic territory.

American Abstract Expressionism, or “Action Painting” as critic Harold Rosenberg called it, was a style of painting which demanded that artists improvise as they worked. It was this style of painting which had taken New York by storm in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and it was the style that any “advanced” artist on either coast had to adopt or risk being called academic.

One master of this Abstract Expressionism, Willem de Kooning, who Oliviera met and befriended in 1959, liked to call himself a “slipping glimpser”. Originally trained as an academic artist in Rotterdam, de Kooning became famous for his series of “Women” which were everything but academic in their painterly execution. De Kooning’s figures seems to melt into a casserole of drips, ribbon-like paint strokes, and ragged impasto. This violent use of paint impressed Oliveira, but he also understood some of the deep human and perceptual suggestions imbedded in de Kooning’s vision.

Woman V 1952-53

Willem de Kooning
Woman V 1952-53 
oil and charcoal on canvas
154.5 x 114.5 cm 
© Willem de Kooning, 1952-53/ARS. Licensed by VISCOPY, Sydney 2002 

Oliveira remembers de Kooning telling him how he had once glimpsed an attractive woman at a party. Moments later, de Kooning recounted, he looked back and found her gone. This, he told Oliveira, was something he kept in mind when painting — the visual memory of presence and absence. Oliveira’s “Sitting Man with Dog” of 1957 has a strong kinship with de Kooning. The vivid black and grey swaths of paint which crisscross this enigmatic figure seem to both give the figure its mass and simultaneously to obscure it. The image has a haunting figural presence, but the artist’s process suggest that this presence is tenuous: perhaps it is just the shadow of a man who has vanished.

Seated Man with Dog, 1957

Nathan Oliveira 
Seated Man with Dog, 1957
oil on canvas
58 3/8 x 49 1/2 inches
The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 

Just ten years later, Oliveira would again deal with the theme of disappearance, and the clear style of his “Stage Paintings” showed the artist gravitating back towards a world that a viewer’s eyes could recognize, albeit an empty one.

In “Stage #2 with Bed” the themes of presence and absence are suggested by an open door and an empty bed. With the earnest intent of showing us that his evanescent world could be briefly focused, Oliveira manages to give us narration, but with only a few recognizable forms. Clearly, what has happened or will happen in this world is a human drama, but the painting demands imagination from the viewer and implies that the artist and his subject have “exited”, thwarting easy interpretations.

Stage #2 with Bed, 1967

Nathan Oliveira 
Stage #2 with Bed, 1967
oil on canvas
66 x 67 inches
The Anderson Collection 

To put it another way: Oliveira’s audience is part of the meditation of presence and absence. As “Stage 2 with Bed” suggests, Oliveira is aware of the audience for his art, but asks them to exit the stage door and go beyond the constraints of what they can recognize.

Oliveira’s friend Richard Diebenkorn was also eliminating figures around this same time, starting work on the “Ocean Park” series of abstractions which Oliveira would admire and borrow from. Diebenkorn had grown tired of the way that critics and viewers found Freudian and sexual connotations for the figures in his work, an annoyance that Oliveira shared. It seemed that putting a nude into any painting would be perceived as somehow erotic, and this was another connotation that Oliveira felt distracted from the deeper resonance he wished to insinuate.
The “sites” created by the artist during the 1970’s and 80’s continued to draw viewers into uncertain realms. While many of these images suggest a kind of archaeology, they appear to be made by living cultures whose inhabitants appear in separate paintings. The sites are redolent with hints of rite and ritual, and also with the suggestion of societies who built and created while remaining in concert with nature. The images thrive on suggestions of human presence, while refusing to admit details of time or place. The sites are another example of Oliveira’s tendency to avoid specificity, and let the human, the abstract, and the irrational flood into perceptual empty spaces.

“Western Site XI,” 1978

Nathan Oliveira
“Western Site XI,” 1978 
monotype, 26″ x 22″ 
Collection Saint Louis Art Museum 

Often, the absences in Oliveira’s art provide enthralling moments. In his mid-career works, he willed the figure to disappear, and found himself — and his viewers — entering into spiritual territory.

By our use of them to keep ourselves alive, other persons begin to assume the place of fetishes and totems, becoming keepers of our lives. Through this worship of the personal, personal relationships have become the place where the divine is to be found, so the new theology asserts… Human persons are the contemporary shrines and statues where personifying is lodged.
– James Hillman

Shaman V, 1977
Shaman V, 1977

Oliveira’s approach to the human figure, from the beginning of his career onwards, has been one of personification. His imaginative approach has constantly suggested that art needs to take the figure out of the mundane context of the present into the world of the eternal — the spirit world. Whether his figures are faceless and featureless, as in “Red Couple” or loaded with anthropological suggestion, as in “Shaman 5” they connect us to a world vibrant with human magic.

Always a sensual artist, Oliveira’s world demolishes literal boundaries and categories, and suggests that sensation transcends meaning. His images begin with sensual perceptions which he has taken into the eternal by demolishing their literal meanings. It is a world of immortals, always present and available to anyone with imagination.

According the Joseph Campbell, the difference between a Shaman and a Priest is that a Shaman is not connected to institutionalized religion. Oliveira, a non-practicing Catholic, uses images like “Shaman 5” to reclaim faith — and magic — from religion and restore it to individuals as a form of visionary consciousness.

The Red Couple, 2002
The Red Couple, 2002


The artist’s recent “Red Couple” suggests co-existence in world where figures are indeed personified as shrines or objects. It is as if the erasure of their human particulars is accomplished with a painterly process parallels a stripping away of differences: culture, gender and other categories are released and a new kind of relationship can be contemplated.

Human figures are not the only ones loaded with personifying magic in Oliveira’s art. Animals forms co-exist in the same equilibrium, and many of them — baboons and hawks among others — seem to be incarnations of animal deities found in earlier societies. His figures and animals all belong to a Pre-Columbian world of coexistence. It is a kind of Mayan or Egyptian world where the biblical idea of Eden and its opposites has not been introduced.

Acoma Hawk III, 1975


Nathan Oliveira
Acoma Hawk III, 1975
Two color lithograph 

The artist’s engagement with the eternal has led him into conversations with many artists, writers and works of art. He has created series that came from artistic dialogues with Goya and Rembrandt, and has built themes on poems by Poe and Hopkins. In each of these cases he has treated works by past artists as living documents, seeing art history not as a series of periods and styles, but as a continuous dialogue. In that sense, it may be misleading to call Oliveira a Modernist, as he envisions himself as an artist in the same way that the carver of an Egyptian statue of the Pharaoh 4,000 years ago was an artist.

I simply want to be a part of a continuous resonance. – Nathan Oliveira

“I had to go through a period of transition, from wings to abstract images that conveyed the idea of wings without getting all trapped up in feathers. It’s really about the imagination and the inner spirit of flight.”
– Nathan Oliveira

The Windhover IV 1991-94


Nathan Oliveira 
The Windhover IV 1991-94
oil on canvas
90 1/2 x 212 1/2 inches 

In his more recent works, Oliveira has continued to create figurative works — often the figures are animals — while also creating a cycle of large scale works which are meant to be installed as a cycle. The “Windhovers”, inspired by a Gerard Manley Hopkins Poem, are abstracted from images of wings, rainbows and skies. Compared to most Post-Modern painting, which often has a rigorous theoretical basis, the Windhovers favor the experience of the senses over the power of the intellect. In a surprising way, an artist who began his career as a Modernist has reached backwards in feeling: the Windhovers have more in common with Catholic Baroque art than they do with Picasso.



The windhovers do what Baroque art did: the use the sky as a metaphor and inspire sensation, awe and faith, qualities that Oliveira’s peers in the “New Images of Man” exhibition had abandoned.

Oliveira hopes that funds can be found to place the Windhover cycle on the Stanford University campus, where he taught for over 30 years. His idea is to create a space for contemplation, along the lines of the Rothko Chapel in Houston.

After 55 years of leaving behind the “real” world and creating a new, better one in his paintings, Oliveira has found that forgetting details can be liberating. Dismissive of art world fashions, and of intellectual currents, he has had the luxury of losing himself in his work, and forgetting the problems of the world. The figures in his art have been simply a starting place for the artist’s lifelong process of moving towards abstraction, in ideas and images.
In the process, he has found himself.

“I’m not chasing the art world and what it’s supposed to be, I’m trying to find what I’m supposed to be… That’s what I’ve been doing for 50 years.” – Nathan Oliveira

From the EBSQ Archives: Thomas Hart Benton’s connection to the Modern Art Synchromists Movement by Diane D Barton

In the world of Art History, the name ‘Thomas Hart Benton’ is synonymous with Regionalist art. But those same roots that are bound to images of the Regionalists are intertwined to Synchromism, are often overlooked. When one examines the work closely the clues are found within Benton’s choice of color, composition and form.

In the world of Art History, the name ‘Thomas Hart Benton’ is synonymous with Regionalist art. But those same roots that are bound to images of the Regionalists are intertwined to Synchromism, are often overlooked. When one examines the work closely the clues are found within Benton’s choice of color, composition and form.

Synchromism was founded by Stanton MacDonald Wright (Fig. 1) and Morgan Russell, while they were in Paris during 1912. Together they created the first official works, produced anywhere, which were considered ‘nonrepresentational’. Simply put, Synchromism was a method of painting that set itself apart by using fractured forms and rich colors ; based on using the color theories of Tudor Hart along with the sculptural qualities of Michelangelo.

Benton initially met Wright in the winter of 1909, and immersed himself in the Synchromistic methods. Unfortunately, the only way we can now examine the influence of this time period had on his work is by drawing conclusions from his later work, as much of the work created from 1914-1917 was destroyed in a fire at his home in Neosho Missouri in 1917. (Fig. 2, 3)

Eventually Benton’s work with the Synchromists was shown in the highly selective New York, ‘Forum Exhibit’ of 1916. His works, in his own words were…’created using the Tudor Hart’s color system’ Following the Synchromist practice at the time. I based the composition of these pictures on Michelangelo sculpture. However, as the multiple-figure composition was again occupying my thoughts. I selected Michelangelo’s early relief the ‘Battle of the Centaurs,’ rather than a single figure to serve as a model for my creations.’ (Fig 4)


Throughout Benton’s career Michelangelo’s work continued to be a major influence. Intrigued with the three dimensional form, Benton began creating sculptures and began to make dioramas (or miniature scene) of intended two dimensional works. He would begin by forming clay models, which were somewhat like a relief sculpture (projecting slightly from the surface). He would then create numerous drawings from the models, if the idea presented did not translate well to two dimensions, he would rework it until it did.

Benton’s work expresses the influence of the Synchromists in his choice of color palette and composition, particularly in his early work titled ‘Bubbles’. (Fig. 5) ‘Bubbles’ was created by Benton during 1916, during his direct involvement with the Synchromists, and is visually similar to the work of Stanton MacDonald Wright (fig. 6) This similarly can be seen by the use of the composition , and the circular shapes used to contrast the angular ones, along with the hues used throughout. The similarities can be seen in the upper and lower left corner, where the space is broken up in a similar fashion with curvilinear lines created with circular shapes that help to draw your eye throughout the composition. In many of Benton’s work there is a triad color scheme, again the physical rhythm of the human form that ties his work to Michelangelo, and the familiar color theme of red, yellow, blue. (figs. 7, 8, 9)


Finally lets reexamine a few of his abstract work to help us see the correlation between then and his later work. In ‘Constructionist Still Life’, created in 1917-1918 (fig 10) there again is a triad color scheme, geometric shapes which later would be replaced by the human form. For instance in his work ‘Rita and T.P.’ (fig 11), although the colors differ, due to the central vortex, each composition is very similar and are easily interchangeable.

Later, Benton was to claim he dropped the Synchromistic palette and focused his work on single figures and groups. Eventually the abstracted qualities become secondary and Benton would try and eliminate many of the abstract devices. In ‘Self portrait with Rita’ created in 1922, (fig 12) one can once again see the use of a triadic color scheme based on red, yellow, blue.

If one compares the work to ‘Bubbles’ created in 1916 the eye is following the same path throughout the image (fig 13), with the eye again following the curve of the letter ‘J’ up through the upper right of the image.

In 1948 two of the works created by Benton continued to carry on these same two characteristics previously shown in his work. In both ‘The Apple of Discord’ (Fig. 14) and ‘Poker Night’ (Fig. 15) the female is presented in a traditional Renaissance Michelangelo style. Once again the viewer is observing a red, yellow, blue color theme, as seen in his work while with the Sychromist. (Fig. 16 and 17)

Review: Best iPad Apps by Peter Meyers

the following is a Guest Post by EBSQ Artist (and iPad fanatic) Robin Cruz McGee

Best iPad Apps from O'Reilly MediaI read once that mining diamonds becomes profitable when the yield reaches one or two carats a ton. Imagine yourself as a diamond prospector breaking rocks by hand to find those two carats of precious gems among all that ore. Can’t? Neither can I. April of 2010 Apple unleashed a revolution when it introduced the iPad.  It also unleashed a monumental problem. The iPhone had already established the paradigm different from the desktop computer of managing tasks by having them handled by small, narrowly focused applications, suited to the small footprint of the iPhone screen. Apple carried over the idea to the iPad, having proved the viability of the approach.
The weak link is the app store.
As an early adopter of the iPad, I spent hours looking through the apps to find ones that would make my time more productive. I found a few gems and many that were useless, much like mining diamonds by hand. I have seen the style of the app store change a few times since then as Apple tries to manage the flood, over 65,000 at last count. Featured, staff picks, genius, all good attempts and probably the best ways they have as far as a store goes but sorting through 65,000 apps? As good as those recommendations are, it still boils down to a lot of trial and error and many hours sifting through all the raw material to get to the good stuff. Not that it wasn’t fun but many of us have better things to do. Customer reviews don’t always tell the whole story and genius matches are often inscrutable. How do you get Pandora from Mathboard? Fortunately, “Best IPad Apps” by Peter Meyers and published by O’Reilly Media, comes to the rescue. 225 pages of sparkly beauty divided into easily understood and succinct categories laid out in a deliciously polished fashion, this guide is the true killer app of apps. Please give me back all the hours I spent tracking down half of these! Starting with an index of 2 1/2 pages (talk about distilled!) the guide follows up with color coded chapters making it easy to beeline for for the category you need. Each best app has a quick review, maybe some handy tips and a screen or two to give you a taste of the wonder you will find. there are even honorable mentions with possible contenders for the title. Need an app for outlining? Got you covered, Outliner. General image editing? Photogene the one. One man band? Music Studio sounds about right. Best game for killing pigs with birds? Ok, that one doesn’t need a guide but you get the picture. The only thing I can think to say is OMG!Actually, there is something else to say. If your getting an iPad or already have one, if your going to have anything to do with an iPad, you need this guide. Your time is valuable. Someone did the work for you. Take advantage of it.

You can check out more about this title, including various buying options, at O’Reilly Media.