SELLING OUT or GETTING PAID – The Artistic Dilemma

I loved this post by Libby Rosuf of The Art Blog and it so made me think about the life of an artist. Specifically she quoted blogger Annette Monnier :

I am reminded of being a young artist and saying something to a friend about this or that person “selling out” to which my wiser friend replied “you can’t tell me that you wouldn’t have done that had it been offered to you.”

An Underrated True 2 The Game Artist

This is such a dilemma for artists, be they musical or visual. Me being both – I completely understand. As a Hip-Hop/R&B writer/ producer when R&B was transitioning to more urban/ghetto messages – the mantra in my ear from A&R folks was less message, more sex (What are you, some kinda’ message band)! In art, going to Black galleries I thought would understand me, the message was we like more overtly BLACK images (read: not the muti-colored folks you are presenting – our audience will not understand).

For me, I ALWAYS reference Spike Lee. To paraphrase, as you enter the business, that’s what you are.

Think about it. If an artists makes big money for a gallery painting little green, three breasted men riding Shetland ponies, why would a gallery or his agent all of a sudden want him being true and painting like Renoir? Conversely, if a singer makes it big on the Lady Gaga vibe, the label surely doesn’t want the next CD to be lyrically deep like Dylan. Ca-CHING!

Being authentic, of course, could lead to delayed gratification or none at all if folks don’t get you (and, I do have friends like this). On the flip side, can you blame someone for taking the bucks to get some publicity & support themselves and their family.

At the end of the day, whatever choice we as artists make, we have to live with it and look ourselves in the mirror each and every morning. Are you happy with what you see? That’s ALL that matters.

Peace,

Art of Todd, the Funky Long Island Artist

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p.s. – I am now a singer/songwriter (YouTube.com/artoftodd) so I can express my thoughts as I choose, being true to myself and my soul. The art still comes from my heart.

My 15 Minutes Today…Sex, Art, Music & Practice

Contemplation  ©ArtofTodd.comIn follow up to the blog post by Alyson Stanfield on painting 15 minutes a day to stay connected with one’s art, I had to follow her instruction and my agreement with her advice.

So, I spent 15 minutes painting yesterday (no, I won’t bore you by sharing creativity everyday!) and I feel waaaayyyy more spiritually connected to my art than waiting for that big 4 – 6 hour stretch to create (which is so difficult to come by & which I’ve been doing). Kinda’ like how I make every effort to do 15 minutes of yoga each day. 15 minutes will most certainly help me in morphing to bigger pieces.

Oil pastels are a little more time consuming for me than acrylic, but this is a great start. Gotta’ hit the skins some today as well.

Enjoy! Thanks Ms. Stanfield!

Peace – Todd B., the funky Long Island Artist yo!

The point of the 15 minutes is not to try to create a masterpiece within that short time frame. The point is to stay connected with your art every day. This connection will feed you. It will make you a happier person and a less frustrated artist. – Alyson Stanfield

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Is Formal Training Needed to be an Inspired Artist?

Robert Ryman

If you care to be recognized and esteemed by the art establishment, I think that the whole idea is to first convince the art community that you know what classic art is, that you know how to be an “academic” artist. Ilan Lichtnayer (artist in his Absolutearts.com blog post

This is such a funny statement and I could not agree more! Now that I’m doing the gallery thing, it’s all good until some fellow artists and patrons find out either by reading my bio or by speaking with me that I did not study formally.

My wife has noticed a literal change in perspective towards me in a few cases. The infamous – I LOVE your work and use of color. Then…the pause…the pensive silent oh…the you are self-taught walk away?!

Like many self-taught and trained artists, I’m pouring every drop of my being and spirit (and beer) into each work. Life, loves, music, angst, pain, joy. So – a guy can place a dot on a white canvas and call it Black Dot on White Paper and it’s valued because he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts? But if an unknown does the same, it’s not cool. It’s all about the art, right?

Art is art and value is in the eye of the beholder’s wallet. After all, to again quote Mr. Lichtnayer, Art does not judge and so doesn’t God. God makes the artist, society makes him successful, but all for a reason, always. And the reason is karma. We as artists, no matter the way of arrival, are meant to create.

So with this in mind, I think artists create regardless of formality. Creativity is karmic and inspired. No license necessary to drive!

Classes will dull your mind, destroy the potential for authentic creativity.
– Dr. John Nash, Nobel prize winner in economics, 1994

Peace – Todd
The Funky Long Island Artist

p.s. – Okay, I am a formally trained musician! But I’ve thrown away the books to compose on my guitar. Sort of agree with Dr. Nash.

p.s. – Find Ilan’s art at Findigart.com.

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The aRt of Growing Through DeFeat

If you live through defeat, you’re not defeated. If you are beaten but acquire wisdom, you have won. Lose yourself to improve yourself. Only when we shed all self-definition do we find who we really are.
The RZA

Had an interesting conversation with Kenni Hairston, an amazing producer/musician friend with whom I apprenticed back in the day (and hope to work with in the ‘morrow). Was discussing how music is who we are, the seeming losses we both have experienced in the business, and how we keep coming back, no matter how strong the punch.

I Luv a Blank Aluminum Canvas

I Luv a Blank Canvas

Creativity is a blessing and a curse. Between the two though, I choose extreme blessing. Like Kenni said, you do it ’cause you can’t help it. To wake up, pick up my guitar…write, sing, wait for voices to speak through me…insane, but cool. Hey – I haven’t cut my left ear off (yet!). Drinking that sweet ass Maudite beer, Miles Davis on the turntable, painting…caught up in the cool yo! Clock strikes midnight…

I’ve been told NO probably more than about anyone in this life (outside of crazy artists and musicians doing a life bid like myself). But as Kenni and I discussed, the growth is internal and not necessarily externally recognized or acknowledged, even by those closest to u. Lose to improve…if you acquire wisdom you have WON! Definition of self – growth. Pray to recognize – yearning. Lessons for art and life.

Initiate Peace yo – Todd
Creator of original fine art and prints! aka, the Black American Long Island-based artist detailing the universal experience…

p.s. – the RZA’s The Tao of the Wu is one incredibly philosophically and spiritually moving book. Check it out. Thanks for the science Kelly Ann! Wu-Tang 4EVER son!!

p.s. – Dreams and visions…me with my alternative acoustic folk/funk workin’ with the RZA. His beats, my melodies and lyrics…WHAT! Holla’ RZA!!!

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Dreams…I Need A Yoko (new song excerpt!)

SisyphusI don’t know about all this goals & objectives stuff people talk about. Write ’em down…it will happen or so far too many self help experts say. I used to do this back in the day when I was pursuing music production/writing with my bro…but we’d always do everything up to actually signing a deal – which was the goal. So pursuing goals this way made the process almost seem like a waste. And, it sapped my spirit.

99 consecutive steps taken, miss the last one and start all over again as if the first 99 never existed. Talk about disappointment!

But…ain’t life about change or so they say? Well, this year decided to write down my dreams. I don’t necessarily like the phrase goals & objectives because to me life is a journey. Always changing…constantly reshapingl We’re all in some way trying to make a dream come true.

So my first step in my artistic journey that has no end was to have a solo art show before end of year. BONUS ROUND! I not only had a show, but also had an opportunity to play my music with my artwork in the background. Gotta’ thank the amazing Sue Giordano for the opportunity and blessing. This video features my art & an excerpt of my new song entitled I Need a Yoko.

My Pops said “this could have been the ultimate love song John Lennon wrote to Yoko had he lived.” And, I agree. So my Pop’s line will now be the intro. every time I play it yo! Play the video if u please!

Next up – Jimmy Kimmel Show by January 2010! Then Oprah in late 2010!!

Peace Yo!

Todd
The funkiest Human, African-American, Black, Negro, Pan-African, Colored, Universal, Higher-Primate, Opposable Thumb Havin’ Artist-like dude faith based in Long Island

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The Art of Change, Personal Revolution & Hope for the Flowers!

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself    

Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol


          

These boyz could create!
These boyz could create!

 

Well, well, well…change can be swift!  i received my first unsolicited blog comment today and gotta’ say – I am pretty excited!  A kindred spirit named Alinde O’Malley thanked me for mentioning Trina Paulus’ book Hope for the Flowers.  Well I thank Ms. O’Malley for taking time to read my blog, comment and share!  I thank Ms. Paulus for writing such an incredibly uplifting, spiritual book.

Change (in a MAJOR way) came this week in the form of President Obama being sworn in.  Growing up for many, this was truly unfathomable…but the table was set years ago by Rev. Jessie Jackson.  In spite of people’s opinion of Jessie and his recent public faux pas, he did his thing with his Rainbow run in the 80’s and was omnipresent during the Civil Rights movement.  Props to Shirley Chisholm too!  Just shoutin’ out!Obama as President, while not solving all the world’s ills, does give us hope…and hope and faith (along with a dose of elbow grease) is the most we can ask!  Hope is not a quantifiable thang…can’t buy it, can’t put a finger on it, can’t taste it, can’t smell it…but ya’ know when u got it.

So, change is my theme and this is my year of positive change (probably best evidenced by news I recently received saying – ‘hey pal, you might be layed off!’ Lemons to lemonade yo!).  I just wrote this song entitled ‘Revolution‘. Debuted it on my acoustic guitar two nights ago playing a solo gig.  Still flushing it out but it definitely moved the crowd. I’m really excited ’bout the lyrics and hope u enjoy.

(verse 1)

people, needin’ people
so many needy, always feedin’ the greedy yo
enuf to feed the world, a loaf of bread some bbq chips
but i can’t conceive, eatin’ off my crumb filled dish
(chorus)
gotta’ be, gotta’ be, gotta’ be a revolution
movin’ like a hurricane, ‘cross the ocean in the dark
today gonna’ rise up start a revolution
eye of the hurricane, brewin’ in my heart
(verse 2)
u don’t, have to take it
born into this fire, though u didn’t make it yo
plans and scams of a greedy man, make u stoop instead of stand
so release yourself, your God’s got a better plan, for u
(chorus)
(change)
wake up, wake up, rise up, rise up
fist up, fist up , punch it through the sky
rise up, rise up, stand up, stand up
throw your fist up, punch it through the sky
(rap)
everyday, everyday sippin’ gin and juice
’cause the world is makin’ u crazy, cry a bottle of colic like a baby
all alone in your crib screaming save me
green eggs and ham, like sam i am, want something real, world tastes like spam
i gotta’ open up my eyes, open up my eyes, open up my eyes
(chorus)
copyright – artoftodd 2009

 

Well, i gotta’ run.  My mission is to paint one joint per week (fulfill my destiny as a friend  so positively put it!) – so off to the art table and the oil pastels! Peace yo…spread luv like butta’ on toast…stay creative – Todd the Artist

 

Hope u feel my motivation!
Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me – Carol Burnett

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War, Obama, Army Grunts…and Something New in Hip-Hop (Random Thoughts from a Modern-Day Folk Artist)

WAR – What Is It Good For?!

Don’t know what your opinion is regarding what President Obama (a victory for all btw!) will do about the skirmishes around the world in which the U.S.A. is involved.  But no matter your political views on the military deployments  (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), I have to give a special shout to the Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force soldier boys and girls in the trenches.

Specifically, sending a shout out to my boy Gabe Tolliver. Gabe is the ultimate in creativity and a one man Art of War yo.   And, even though he’s now living the military life, he is still keeping his creative flow going – documenting what life is like from inside the Green Monster. Documenting the fact that soldiers represent something to somebody.   And, no matter our opinion about fighting, they should represent something to us. More than a number…Peace to the world. Spread love not hate. Live the good life but every once in a while…eat a lil’ pork!

Something New in Hip-Hop

Indie Hip-Hop at it's finest

Indie Hip-Hop at it's finest

I recently contributed a lil’ something to the making of a CD by this new Hip-Hop artist named Shake Dizzy.  Tracks are tight, flow is nice and overall great production – especially considering Shake financed this up by the bootstraps style (enterprising dude).  The joint called “Dimes” is as good as any.  Support indie music yo!  I think Shake is gonna’ blow up!  All he needs is the buzz and some airplay!  Somebody gotta’ give my boy Shake some $$ to go into that million dolla’ studio & holla’…ride with him, and let him marinate a bit like chicken on a spit.  He’s there now…just imagine his future yo!!

Check it out…spread the word!

Oh – and check out Shake live on Saturday, February 7th, at Eden (760 8th Avenue between 46th & 47th Manhattan).  Doors open at 10pm.  It’s the album release party yo!

What am I reading now to Keep “my” Soul Together (RIP Freddie Hubbard – the Michael Jordan of trumpeters):

This book is AMAZING.   Spin your cocoon, move down the pillar, and search for your butterfly yo!

Maybe, just maybe, life is this simple.  What a philosophy to live by.

Black folks definitely have a little pathology regarding wealth accumulation.  This book, which is totally on the down-low reading list wise, breaks it down psychologically and historically.  Gotta’ say though, on the whole, this book is great reading for anyone because in some ways – the $$ issues are universal.  My Pops gave this to me some years ago and I am re-reading ’cause it’s time to move on to the next phase!

Art is Life – Peace – Todd

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How do You Keep the Music Playing? Dealing with the Death of a Loved One, Rebirth Through the New Year & Funky Art!

Oil Pastel Art for the 09...©ArtofTodd.com

Wow – James Ingram is from my hometown of Akron, Ohio.  Of course, so is LeBron “King” James & Chris “Beanie” Wells.  And the point is…

Akron - home of the Goodyear blimp

Akron - home of the Goodyear blimp

Evidently, Ingram is this dope a#s singer from way back in the day. Don’t know how many of you have heard the sappy classic How Do You Keep the Music Playing. But, I was in the mall, heard it, and through the wonders of Google, found out James Ingram sang it.

But I digress…my Mom passed this past October.  It’s left a huge hole in my heart.  I was depressed (so that’s what it’s like).  I’ve heard a parent passing is something you can’t relate to until you go through it.  It’s true & I got new found respect and understanding for Kanye West & his public struggles.  I pretty much stopped creatively.  Had trouble focusing and sleeping. A walking zombie

Thought I was losing it in some ways.  No doubt I miss my Mom…her laugh, smile, unconditional love, encouragement, spirit, humor, guidance…but I have to believe she is in a better place.  And I know she would want me to get my ‘ish’ together and carry on.  I was blessed to have her.  I’m blessed with wonderful family & friends.

So – the New Year is here. And for the first time I feel this real sense of New Year’s Day renewal all up in my chakras. I set up my art table and painted last night.  Was wondering what music to vibe on…having grown past my Tupac and 50 Cent (oh, and Budweiser for now).

Sippin’ on a classier upscale brew (Corona!) while listening to the darkest most sophisticated  Steely Dan track ever (Deacon Blues -one of the absolute most killer lyrics in rock history) and some even darker Gino Vannelli (don’t ask where I got it, but Crazy Life is murder) – I flowed again.  Always feel gotta’ wallow in the dark to see the light.

My Mom was working through me…and I GOT MY MOJO WORKIN’! This art piece is entitled Crazy.  To really get back into my art, I have to do more originals.  To top it off, tonight, I even stopped by the local restaurant and am now booked to play an acoustic set on January 21.  Haven’t practiced my guitar or sung since right before my Mom passed.  And, I joined the local art council.  It’s time to get loose!  Time to find my voice again.

I hope this New Year, the saddle finds u back in it too!  Thanks for stopping by.  Thanks Mom…I feel u talkin’ to me.

"Let's ride!"

Let’s keep the music playing!  Let’s get Tantric up in the chakras!

God bless, Peace and soul y’all – Todd

p.s. – My Black Folk Art expresses the universal experience…and this is mine…hope u feel my flow…

p.s. 2 – wanna’ make this blog an interactive experience? play the Steely Dan or Gino Vannelli tracks above while studying Crazy.  Music sometimes tells me where my head is at a given moment in time.  Feel my flow?

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