musings on life

Long Live Strong Coffee

Are loyal coffee drinkers becoming extinct? Yes, there are those people that drink the new lattes and other fancy forms of coffee today. But, what about drinkers of old-school, spoon standing, Java rich oil brew that granddad and pops used to drink every morning before the rooster crowed and throughout the day?

Are you someone who can remember the smell radiating throughout the house morning, noon and night? Well, I can and there is simply no cup of coffee equal to it. Please don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy creamy, frothy cups of flavored coffees from time to time. But at the end of the day I feel like I have cheated on my best friend when I take a walk on the wild side.

There are huge clubs dedicated to drinking new flavored coffees every month and sometimes every week. I do understand that continuous daily consumption of dark roasted liquid gold may become a bit repetitious and possibly boring for some people. Thus, it is understandable why people choose to cross the line every now and again.

Can we please have a moment of silence for the many classic roast consumers that have been captured by the enticing and addicting flavors of today’s fancy brews. They just can’t seem to find their way back to the dark side of the cup.

I am going to be honest with you, I too am struggling with a few cravings for some of the flavored coffees that I’ve tried over the years. It seems like the gurgling sounds of the latte machine calls out to me by name. I do my best to shake it off, but the puttering and puffing sounds take hold of my taste bud’s memories like a vice while at the same time attacking my nostrils with the sweet aromas.

Now that I have found a local place to buy an old-school 40 cup coffeemaker in the city where I now live, I can once again prove my loyalty to the dark roasted beans on a daily basis. Many people swear by their small coffeemakers that only allow for 2-8 cups at a time. Some have taken it a bit further by purchasing units that brew one cup at a time. I have tried them all at one time or another and they worked well under certain circumstances.

I am now on my fourth cup of the morning. Long live strong coffee.

Tips For Creating The Perfect Space To Do Your Art At Home

Thinking about creating a space within your home where you can create your art?  Turning a room of your home into an art studio is a wonderful idea.  This gives you the perfect space to focus on your work, sit and think, and wait for inspiration to strike!

Here are some tips for creating the perfect space to do your art at home:

Give yourself a view.

Your space should be a place of quiet and solitude. It should allow you to meditate and think on your next project, so make sure your space fits your needs.  Find a room in your home with large windows that will allow you ample natural light.  Electric light should also be available, as you never know when inspiration will strike and have you working away deep into the night!

Those windows can also be a source of inspiration, if you have a view.  Look for a room that looks out into your backyard, your garden, or perhaps an upstairs room that looks out over the neighborhood.

Make your space your own.

One important thing to think about as you design your art studio is that it should reflect you.  Decorate in ways that will both reflect and inspire your creativity.  Additionally, look for items that can be useful.  Bins for art supplies, jars for holding brushes, baskets to hold magazines, books, etc.

Recycle items around your home and repurpose them in your art space. This is a great way to both get your creative juices flowing and to save money as you design your space.

You will also want lots of shelving to display your work!  White walls, or very light colored ones, are suggested for an art space so your work will truly ‘Pop!’ in contrast.  Decorate the walls with your work, of course!

 Add fun touches.

Look for fun ways to really personalize the space. For example, you might want to get creative and add some detail to the outlet covers and the wall switches.  Little things like this are a great way to show off your creativity.  Add items that bring back great memories, like fun toys you had as a kid, shells you collected on your favorite vacation, maybe even posters from your favorite artists. These may help get you going if you ever find yourself ‘stuck’ as you work.

All of these ideas can help you build the perfect art space in your home.


The Instagram Accounts Art Lovers Should Be Following

The internet can be an intimidating place for art enthusiasts. You scour the web; being inundated by gorgeous drawings, surreal paintings, and incredible artistry. The internet offers a plethora of outlets for artists and artist-lovers alike. Social networking became the basis of business and shared creativity from the launch of Facebook, Tumblr, and even Pinterest. However, Instagram turned into a powerful marketing tool for artists.

For some artists, the reality of social commerce has turned a random photography platform into a publicity opportunity and a chance to increase business.

There are specific Instagram accounts that every art lover should follow. If you’ve been overwhelmed by the breadth of talent online, here’s a quick guide to a select few Insta-famous artists.

Gary Baseman (@garybaseman) is an illustrator, toy designer and classified as a pop surrealist. His Instagram is littered with unique characters that appear in places and moments where they don’t belong. He tells photographic stories with these revolving characters of his own creation. If you aren’t afraid of the jarring and unexpected, you should follow Gary. His images will either stun you or make you take a second look.

Post-pop artist Rob Pruitt (@robpruitt5000) was made famous by his “party animals” series. The image of stuffed animals hinged on a fluffy cloud background is praised for the strange levity he brings to the genre.

If you love travel photography and the use of unconventional materials in art, then Vik Muniz is a must-see. Brazil-native Vik Muniz (@vikmuniz)is a contemporary visual artist with a penchant for incredible travel photography and his ability to twist concepts of photojournalism into his own work. His “Pictures of Chocolate” series made him world renown. Who wouldn’t follow a man that used chocolate syrup to create his art?

Do you want art that speaks to you? Have you ever felt relieved because of a moment when you knew that you weren’t alone? If you search for affirmation, then you need to follow Don’t Fret. Don’t Fret (@dontfretart) is a Chicago-based art Instagram that posts daily quotes. The work is not extraordinary in its beauty, but in its real-life impact. They use captioned illustrations to capture the ceaseless struggle of being human.

Do you like things outside of the norm? You’ve found it here. Crochet artist Olek (@oleknyc) does street and conceptual artwork. She believes that both life and art are inseparable. Her Instagram account follows her personal life as well as her professional work. She comes critically acclaimed and is one of the most famous conceptual artists of her time. Olek crochets around the shape of an object with vibrant colors and beautiful patterns.  The art world is incredible, but following Olek is a definite necessity.

Graffiti-artist Jose Parla (@joseparla) depicts the world in bright colors, vigorous patterns, and harsh reality. He does abstract to typography, and every image he posts has something to tell its audience. If you’re a fan of bright coloring and spray cans, then Jose Parla is the street artist to follow.


Should You Go To Art School?

You’re an artist. You paint, sketch, draw, sculpt or design. It’s in your heart, in your soul. You just don’t have the credentials—yet.

The question you ask yourself—in your mind and in your soul—is whether or not you can get those credentials by going to art school.

The answer might surprise you. Here are three reasons you should go to art school.

Should you go to art school? Yes, if you want to develop a solid understanding of fundamental methodologies.

There are basic, fundamental rules when it comes to art. Do you always have to follow them? No, but knowing what they are will serve you well—both personally and professionally. Art school will teach you what the rules are, why they exist and how you can incorporate them (or not) into your own art.

In addition, a lot of organizations and corporations employ artists, and most expect their artists to have a solid understanding of the rules and follow them. Which leads to the second reason the answer to the Should you go to art school? Question is yes.

If you want to work as a professional artist, you should go to art school.

When you’re interviewing, you’re going to have to show examples of your work as well as know how to talk about them. Art school will help you develop a body of work (a portfolio) that you can share with perspective employers during your interviews.

Art school will also help you talk about your work in a clear, knowledgeable way. You might be a great artist, but if you can’t talk about how you connect your skill, passion and vision with that of the company or organization for which you hope to work, chances are you won’t get hired—and getting hired is what it’s all about (at least in terms of working as a professional artist.).

This leads to the third reason you should go to art school: connections.

Connections are important for any artist. Professional connections can help you get your foot in the door with companies and organizations looking to hire artists. Personal connections can get your work into galleries, inspire your creativity and give you honest feedback about your work.

So, should you go to art school? Yes, if you want to understand the fundamental principles of art, work as a professional artist and make connections that can inspire you to greater (personal and professional) heights.

Best Art Channels On YouTube

YouTube is a video-hosting site that spans many, many, topics. Many of these stand out for exemplary content or just popular topics- Art as a topic is no different. Though it isn’t described as a main “genre” of the website, it still has plenty of channels and such dedicated to it.

Vamos Art” is a personal favorite of many- it combines an uncommon, 3D art style with a nice use of things like time lapse and even step-by-step tutorials if you wish for one. The channel even provides insight into the history of various arts in different periods of time. Many people also enjoy the number of optical illusions you may be shown in the videos.

The channel known as “Tate” is also a very popular and well-made one. It doesn’t only post videos about art or such, it commonly gives you an insight into the industry with interviews with various artists of different skills- even musicians! This can be quite helpful to anyone aspiring to become an artist of any caliber. Even if you don’t wish to be one, it’s always nice to know what inspired an artist to create the works that they did. This channel is second to none for interviews and insights into art itself- painting, sculpture or otherwise.

Art 21” is a nonprofit organization highlighting and supporting art in the twenty-first century. They feature many kinds of art and artists, going as far to show videos and support of various new artists working in New York City. With everything from sculpture to contemporary art, this channel is more focused on showing and supporting art than tutorials and such.

Next is a channel from the Guggenheim Museum, named simply “Guggenheim“. This channel is a host to everything from music,  filmmaking clips, definitions of common artistic usages and terms, as well as moments with bands. This is obviously a very diverse channel, one that everyone should at least take a look at.

Last on my list (Not ranked as worst to the best, the decisions for that depend on the likes, dislikes and interests of yourself.) is a channel dubbed “Gagosian Gallery“. This channel showcases both modern and contemporary art from many, many famous artists. In reality, the Gagosian Gallery is a large chain of art galleries- over 10 exist world wide.



US Cities With The Best Art Museums For Impressionist Art

getty museumThe United States is home to some of the best art museums in the entire world. No other country has the extensive collection and expansive number of excellent art museums like the US. If you are interested in impressionist art, you need to know what museums in the US feature this kind of work and all of these at least have a large collection of works produced by some of the most important impressionist artists in the entire world.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

Right alongside the world famous Central Park, this is truly one of the best art museums in USA for impressionist art. Of course, it is also one of the greatest museums in the entire world for any kind of art, so while you are still going to find works by Van Gogh and Monet, you can still see paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer as well as material spanning Asia, the Middle East and the rest of the world.

Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Popularly referred to as the MoMA, this museum houses the world famous “Starry Night” painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Of course, it also has a considerable number of other paintings on display that are from the Impressionist period to modern day, including several by Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol.

J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Situated in the second largest city in the United States, this is an excellent stop over if you are on the opposite side of the country. It features several paintings by Van Gogh, not to mention an excellent display of everything from impressionist art all the way to modern photography.

Art Institute of Chicago

This art museum focuses primarily on impressionist and post-impressionist art, so if you are in the Midwest, make sure to stop over in the Windy City. Featuring the world famous Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, you can find one of the largest impressionist art collections in all of the United States. On top of it all, you are going to see several works by both Monet and Manet.

Detroit Institute of Art

The Detroit Institute of Art has one of the best collections of art in the entire United States. It also has an excellent display of paintings form the impressionist period. This includes several productions from not only Van Gogh, but also Monet, Manet and Picasso. Plus, the large museum features just about every other variation of art you might be interested in, ranging from the Greek and Roman time periods all the way up to modern art.

How To Learn Glass Blowing

So you want to learn glass blowing? It is a rather interesting technique that is performed by only a handful of artisans around the globe. And it is one of the coolest creative arts careers out there. But with most glass now mass-produced, this art form has started to become something that is not heavily used or utilized. Due to this, you might find it a bit tough to determine where you can learn glass blowing. Because of this, it is a good idea for you to seek out one of these different options, which can help you discover the secrets of glass blowing and how you can do it on your own.

Local College

Community colleges are a great place to start. This is because enrollment is easy and you do not need to spend a large amount of money to take classes. Of course, you need to check the course schedule to see if glass blowing is actually offered. Art courses can be a bit tricky to know whether or not a college actually offers it or not, so look around. If the community college closest to you does not offer glass blowing, chances are there are others in at least a short driving span that does.

Community Centers

Many community centers offer art classes, and these are not just centered around watercolors and photography. Many community centers look to expand the kinds of classes offered, which is exactly why glass blowing is often an option. Make sure to check out the core classes offered by the different community centers. There is no telling what a community center might offer. However, even if the community center does not offer it immediately, you need to contact the center and request the class. Make sure to tell other friends and family members who might be interested in the class to give them a call as well. The more people that contact the community center, the greater the chances are of the location eventually offering the courses. Just stay on top of the community center, you never know what influence you might have.

Learn From the Masters

If you have ever wondered where you can learn glass blowing and the local community centers and colleges do not offer these kinds of services, you need to learn from the local masters themselves. There are different options available for this, you just need to know where to turn. First off, an excellent way to start is to look online for a local artisan who is produces hand blown glass in the nearby area. Many of these individuals have their own studios in the area. You can always contact these individuals and see if you can apprentice with them. Some individuals are going go be open to this, while others might turn you away, as they simply like to work on their own. If you do not see any individuals in the area, another great way to find people who practice glass blowing techniques is at renaissance festivals.

What Are The Benefits Of Attending Art School?

Art school isn’t for everyone. Many successful artists will claim that art school is pointless and a waste of time. However, just because they were able to succeed in the art world without any training doesn’t mean you can. Art school isn’t for people that want to learn to paint or draw. It is for people that already know how to paint and draw and want to become experts.

There are many people that are great artists and can draw well. Just search for fan-art for a random television show and you will find tons of talented works of art that will never get real respect. These are the types of people that could benefit from the structure of art school. However, art school will not guarantee you a job. You won’t find a painting factory opening in Detroit.

Benefits of Art School

What art schools do offer is that it takes what talent you have and turns it into a viable skill. Of course, having a degree from an accredited art school will make a better impression on potential employers. Unless you have experience painting or drawing already, you will find that people won’t take you seriously.

Another benefit of art school is it allows you to network with the art world. Many of the professors are either artists themselves or know people in the art world. They can offer you good career advice too. Art tends to spread by word of mouth, and it is notoriously hard to sell your art or get hired as an artist if you don’t know anyone. If you had a good reputation in art school, they may recommend you for jobs later.

One benefit that most people don’t realize is the prestige. There is more prestige in graduating from a good art school with an art degree rather than graduating from a regular four-year school. For example, getting a degree from Juliard means a lot more then getting a fine arts degree from Harvard or an Ivy League school, despite the prestige at those schools.

Art school can be a great experience and offers many benefits for those who are serious about art. There is no job security in the art world but going to a good art school can put you ahead of the rest of the competition.


Where To View Bansky Artwork?

Bansky is a revolutionary and an artist, an activist and a filmmaker who has captivated the art world. Hailing from Great Britain, Bansky’s pieces evoke powerful emotions with stirring content that engages his audience.  For bringing about controversial subjects in his unusual yet provoking graffiti style art, Time Magazine nominated his as one of 2010’s most influential people in the world- quite a feat for a graffiti artist. Since then, he has incorporated canvas, sculpture and film as his medium of self-expression.­­ Although technically his art is against the law, his spray paintings, or bombings, as he calls them have captured the imagination of the art world and his fans span the globe.

His paint bombings have been spotted in the cities of London, San Francisco, Barcelona, Paris and even in Afghanistan to name a few. He often fuses imagery of beauty with stark reality and sometimes brutality to bring attention to our inhumanity to each other.

Despite his notoriety, Bansky has remained anonymous through his career, despite multiple attempts to unmask him. His identity is protected by wearing a paper bag over his head and by a group called Pest Control, who also serves to authenticate his street art. His career started in the 1990’s in the underground art scene in Bristol, where he often collaborated with other artists and musicians. His well known distaste of government entities and machinations of war and greed are often the subjects of his dark humor and have sparked controversy worldwide.

Although he does not sell his street art or reproductions, he has moved on to canvas art which has made it into many art exhibits, including the Louvre. His 2010 film “Exit through the Gift Shop” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival for which he painted several wall murals to coincide with the film’s opening.

He is an elusive artist to say the least and his work appears in many unconventional places, such as the London Zoo, where he snuck in to the penguin exhibit and painted a mural with the phrase, “We are bored of fish”. He also opened up an art shack in Central Park where he sold several original works for about 25$ a piece. One of his most amusing antics was to sneak in and  place his own subversive artwork in major museums such as the American Museum of Natural History in Los Angeles and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Chances are if you live in or visit any major city in the world, you may catch a glimpse of his work however you will have to go hunt them down as his ethos requires people to get involved and experience his art rather than to go see them in a controlled environment. For a more complete list of where to go to view Bansky art, you can check out this map of street art on the Bansky tumbler page.

Best Art Museum For Impressionist Art You Don’t Know About

state heritage museum russiaWhen most Americans think of great art museums in Europe one of either two museums first comes to mind. They either think of the Louvre in France or maybe the Tate Modern in London. However, many people forget about the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Not only is it one of the oldest museums in the world, but it is also one of the largest.

The museum is so large, that it is said that it could take over a decade to see all the different exhibits. The crown jewel is the recreation of the Amber Room that was lost in World War II. However, if you are looking for impressionist artwork, the Hermitage has a large collection that won’t disappoint. Each section of the museum is sectioned off by theme. For example, you have a section dedicated to Egyptian art, Spanish art and even pre-historic artwork.

The Winter Palace

The museum is actually a series of buildings. The Winter Palace is the part of the Hermitage State Museum that houses the works of famous impressionist artists. Specifically, these works are housed on the second floor of the Museum. This is the only part of the second floor you can see as the rest of the second floor is closed to the public. As you wander down the halls of the second floor, you will pass the old Chinese and Persian exhibits before finally reaching the exhibits of impressionists.

This section of the museum has entire rooms dedicated to showing original works by the great impressionist artists like Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh and Gauguin. They don’t just have obscure works either, but showcase well known works such as Monet’s Waterloo Bridge (1903) and the original canvas of Van Gogh’s The Arena at Arles. You can find the works of more modern art by Picasso and Kandinsky in the same area.

The Hermitage State Museum is a must for all art and impressionist aficionados. Not many other museums can compete with the sheer volume of artworks that The Winter Palace has to offer. If you plan to visit in the summer, it can be quite crowded and it may take many hours to get in and you will be rushed from one exhibit to the next.  It is better to come see the museum in the winter. Winter is always dark, so many of the tourists choose to come at another time. However, this makes it the best time to visit St. Petersburg’s most famous palace. It may be extremely cold, but you will avoid the crowds and have a more intimate experience.