“Karne” (Report Card

Btw Foça and Yeni Foça
Half-finished Prismacolor sketch of the sea, just north of Foça

Well, all the world’s school children are onto their summer holidays after getting their report cards for the year. In Turkey, the last day of school is the much-anticipated moment when your kids carry home their “karne” and parents celebrate the accomplishments of their offspring.

I have well passed the age when report cards were a thing of pride (mostly) or fear (math, usually). But last week, after all the world’s school children were already involved with swimming and soccer (or sowing and reaping, depending on your demographics), the thought crossed my mind that it might do to write myself my own report card, going back to my List of Ideas and checking to see how well the implemenation was going. Think of it as a mid-term “progress report” for 2017/2018, rather than an end-of-term final appraisal, because, as that great artist Yogi Berra once said, “It’s not over ’til it’s over.” ( Or as I said yesterday, “I’m not dead yet.”)

Report Card – Deborah Semel Demirtaş – 2017/2018

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches. NO PROGRESS. (Studio is a mess, greenhouse effect is making it more than a little unbearably hot… but I did manage to clear enough space to sew me up some summer clothing to make the heat a little less oppresive. As they say, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the studio!”)

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim. AND 2a, the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten. PROGRESS. (Okay, this is, admittedly, theoretical progress – meaning I’ve decided that Yellow Dog’s adventures might be more interesting as an animated film than in book form. That’s as far as I’ve got.)

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore. NO PROGRESS. (I’ve got a whole lot of paper cut to size, but this has been just another thing that I haven’t gotten around to. For the reason why, see No. 4 below.)

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…) PROGRESS.  (If there’s a whole lot of “no progress” on anything else on my list, this must be the reason why.)

FFG LOGO web

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.) PROGRESS. (I did one. For proof, see the  photo of the “Camouflage Table” below; bet you have a hard time finding the table leg… designed to blend in with the flagstone…)

dscn0166.jpg

6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.) PROGRESS. (But since I can’t find any pictures, you’ll just have to take my word for it. And by the way, there’s still a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…) PROGRESS. (Still not there yet, but undoubtedly there will be some food-related cultural heritage at the 1st Foça International Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Film Days…)

8. An illustrated travel book… NO PROGRESS. (But today I’m going to Kos, with a box of Prismacolors in my backpack and a painter-friend, who might be a good influence on me… or maybe not; we’ll probably just drink a lot of frappes and eat pig.)

DSCN3126 - Copy.JPG
(By Yasemin the Art Teacher – who cannot be guaranteed to be a good influence.)

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”! NO PROGRESS. (But white looks good, too… )

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in. PROGRESS(One is finished and hung on the wall. One is progress, isn’t it?)

 

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

Art+Fortunes=Art Fortunes

???????????????????????????????

A while back I wrote my list of 10 ideas. Of course, as soon as I posted it, I realized that I had left one out. And it was a really important one, too. It involved the next step in an ongoing project of recycling paper by using it in collages and then using the collages to tell fortunes. It even had a name: Art Fortunes.

‘Reading the collages’ had become a really nice way of interacting with people over art. Imagine waiting on line to get into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and when you finally got up to the window to make your contribution, you were told you had to go around ‘two by two’, and then they paired you up with a total stranger and said to you, “Okay, now go look at the art – and talk about it.” That’s sort of what Art Fortunes is like.

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

I loved Art Fortunes so much I decided that the next step was to ‘spread the love’. So I put together an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to reproduce the collages as prints and get them out there to people who wanted them (which means, partly “giving” them away as “perks” to “supporters” of “the Art Fortunes Indiegogo Campaign”). I’m even making a handy dandy little ‘User’s Guide’ to explain a bit about the cards and how to ue them to tell fortunes.

Believe me, it’s not at all complicated like Tarot Cards or anything else where you’d have to have some special fortune-telling skills or anything – although I find dressing up in a bit of ‘gypsy chic’ does help the mood along…

hittites

The ‘User’s Guide’ is pretty basic, too. For example: “This card (above) combines a sketch of a Hittite idol with a picture of a detail from a mixed-media painting that sort of looks like a spine, or maybe a bug. Note the olive tree fragments and ‘feathers’. A celebration of flora and fauna?”

Also, I put together a little video so you could see ‘a reading in progress’. Obviously, every one is different, because every person is different; it’s really fascinating (to me) to see how people get into looking at the pictures and making up stories to go along with them. In fact, as luck would have it, on an ‘involvement scale’ of 1 to 10, (with 1 being ‘being polite, but trying to get this over with as quickly as possible’ and 10 being ‘hey, I know you’ve got 3 more people sitting waiting to have their Art Fortunes told, but heck, I wanna keep looking at the pictures, and I can tell way better stories than you, anyway, and I think that those feathers symbolize pens, so that means that I am going to get a letter from someone very soon, and, also, you see that that one person has two heads? well that means…”), the person in the video with me was kind of a ‘1’.

If you want to find out more (and I hope you do), you can click on the link below, and it will take you down the rabbit hole and into the land of

Art Fortunes on Indiegogo

Have Fun!!!

 

 

 

The Zen of Graphic Design… NOT.

Art Fortunes cards in box

Well, we’re into March now, so the house is warming up a bit, making it possible to work in the studio without freezing even if I don’t turn on the electric heater. So why aren’t I in there working on one or more of the “10 ideas“?

I blame it on Graphic Design.

That seems to be the area in which I’ve been expending my energies these days, working on everything from designing posters for things that are not on my List of 10 (because not everything is “a project”) to designing a web site for one of the items that is (because some things are “projects”, whether we shy away from calling them so or not).

Yesterday I had the pleasure  of making a prototype box for the deck of “Art Fortunes” and a “User’s Guide” to accompany it – both of which will be available shortly through Indiegogo (god willing and the creek don’t rise – or as Aziz Nesin would say, “inşallah”).

Perhaps “pleasure” is not the right word; no, it is definitely not the right word.

I have yet to find the Zen of “cut, paste, and endlessly repeat”. I am no Seth Godin, and marketing tasks – yes, Priscilla, design is a marketing task – are just that – “tasks“. I would like to think of each and every one of them as just another “downward dog” on my way to “savasana” – but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Maybe I should play that yoga tape instead of refilling my coffee…

B+w9-12

 

“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

P2

You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything in a while, and that I haven’t posted any pictures of nice-and-shiny artwork, or even rough-and-tumble work-in-progress.

Of course, you may not have noticed, because you were busy doing things in the actual, three-dimensional world rather than (how shall I put this?) “spending time enjoying your vibrant, virtual community”.

Although you could be forgiven for assuming that my not posting can be chalked up to my “spending time enjoying my vibrant, virtual community”, you would be mistaken.

In fact, I have also been busy working.

And not just in the dosh-producing sense of the word, but also in the “production of creative material” sense of the word – although mostly, in the “travelling” and “thinking” senses of the word.

Yes, travelling counts as “creative work”, in the same sense that “research on background” and “sketching” count as creative work. In my case, I like to think that it especially counts, because in addition to just taking the opportunity to refresh the eyes and this sorry old brain with new sensory information, I use the time travelling to take photographs that I use the same way that some artists use sketches – and on occasion I even sit down and do some old-fashioned sketching myself.

Portugal - View from the restaurant 1

Thinking also belongs in the “creative work” box. Despite what some people think. (Here I must interject a memory: While visiting a friend at Hacettepe University one day many years ago, I got involved in a conversation that ended in a now-well-known contemporary Turkish conceptual artist explaining to me, “But Deborah, she (a now-well-known contemporary Turkish painter) isn’t a conceptual artist, so she doesn’t need to have an idea.”

On the other hand, even I sometimes “live too much in my head” and forget that just thinking about a thing doesn’t actually get the thing done. (In that way, “art” is a lot like doing laundry and cleaning the house…) So, when that lightbulb-reminder went off in my head again yesterday, I decided that I was not allowed to have any more ideas until I use up the ones I already have. These include:

1. Sitting down in my studio and doing some more oil pastels of people in the water, using the photos I took in Georgia, Portugal, and the Turkish Mediterranean coast as sketches.

more surfers

1a. “Shooting” some video interviews of people and their relationships to the water that I can edit to use in an installation with the above-mentioned drawings; interviews to include “individuals who attempted to migrate from Turkey to Greece by sea”.

2. Writing and illustrating a children’s book about “The Adventures of Yellow Dog”. In it, the erstwhile Yaprak is transformed into a doggie who had to leave her home for reasons she is too young to understand, but ends up making friends with a chicken and learning to swim.

2a. And then there’s the sequel, “Yellow Dog and Her Friends”, in which Yellow Dog and her chicken-friend, over much objection from their families, end up visiting one another at their respective homes – and nobody gets eaten.

3. Going back and doing some large (for me) oil-stick drawings like the ones in the “swimmer” series I had started a few years ago and then had to abandon because “the princesses” had taken over my “outdoor studio” so there was no room to work out there anymore.

4. A “film project”. (I have this “wild hare” of an idea to organize a festival, or something, of films on “cultural heritage”… please don’t steal this one…)

5. Paint some more wooden furniture. (This is not as easy as it sounds – if you place the emphasis on “wooden” – because everything these days seems to be made of pressboard and the like. Boo-hoo.)

6. Continue making temporary trash sculptures. (This one should be pretty easy; there’s a lot of trash out there.)

7. Something to do with food! (I’m not there yet…)

8. An illustrated travel book…

Portugal - View from the restaurant 2

9. Painting a mural on the top row of kitchen cupboards. (This was agreed with my husband before we got new kitchen cupboards. The choice was not between whether to paint or not, but between what to paint: 1. Beach scene; 2. Abstract painting of the vastness of the universe, with lots of gold leaf and light blue; 3. Tropical paradise. And the winner is… “3, Tropical Paradise”!

10. Two paintings (oil stick on plywood, 40x40cm, of flower blossoms on a mainly black background with a lot of line drawing done in gold leaf) “commissioned” by my husband in return for making him not hang a painting in a spot that I didn’t want it to be hung in.

There.
A list of 10.
A nice, round number.
“Top 10 Ideas From Amongst Which At Least 1 Must Be Chosen Before Another Idea Is Had”

The Sea in January

Last summer I managed to fit in one boat trip, but that’s all. While the primary goal was to chill out in some  very clean blue water in the company of some very fine women, the secondary goal was to take photos that I could use as sketches for some more water paintings.

Boat Trip

Which I did.
Take the photographs, that is.

But then time passed, and, well, you know how it goes…
By the time I actually got around to feeling up to some more water paintings the solstice had flipped, the proverbial mercury had dropped, and the studio was no longer an advisable location for this flu-prone puppy…

So, instead, as part of the creative process – or the procrastination process, if you prefer – I decided to do a little computer sketching, since that’s something I can do in the warmth of the living room.

Then the weather warmed up a bit, the flu-genies appeared to be cutting me some slack, and I figured out that I could tack up a big turquoise fake fur in front of the studio door like a curtain wall to keep out some of the cold. So I went from these digital sketches

Sketch Just Water 1

Sketch Just Water 2

to some oil pastel drawings

Water Pastel 130116_a

Water Pastel 130116_b

Water Pastel 130116_c

Water Pastel 130116_d

and I think I’ll keep going until I’m all out of blue Sennelier’s.

It’s a challenge to keep my head clear this January…

Predictions, Predictions

Since I came back from New York in October, I’ve maintained the policy of turning on the news as infrequently as possible. Regardless, it is getting to be that time of year when the tv news shows are full of prognosticators called in to reveal what we should all be expecting for the coming year.

Last year, I decided to get into the prediction game myself, with ‘Art Fortunes’. This involved taking 52 collages I had made that were all the same size (each about as big as a postcard) and ‘transforming’ them into a fortunetelling deck.

It was pretty easy to do, because it involved – ta-daaa- absolutely nothing! Nothing, that is, except telling people I could tell their fortune by looking at the cards. As I explained, ‘Art Fortunetelling is based on two premises.

  1. All the world is energy, all life is interconnected, and time is not necessarily linear.
  2. Artworks speak to us because they contain layers of meaning that we can uncover by truly looking.

Just telling (reminding) people that art has meaning was nice for me – and because I was telling people’s own individual fortunes they tended to look a whole lot harder for the meaning in the cards they were picking.

Which was nice.

As an artist, it’s always nice to have people looking at your work.

While some people were happy just to sit back and let me tell them what I saw in the cards, others ran out ahead of me to interpret their own cards. Which made my life as a mystic a lot easier.

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Below are 2 new cards I made last week. These are the first collaged ‘cards’ I made after having decided to use the collages in fortunetelling, and I found out something very interesting while I was making them.

Nature out of Balance

Forbidden Fruit

What I found out was that… as I was making them, I caught myself consciously trying to interpret them, and everytime I caught myself, I had to stop working. Before, I had had thoughts like, ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and ‘that makes sort of sense there’, but I had never had thoughts like ‘oh, if this is here, then that could mean this.’

Of course, all those possible meanings were there in the previous collages – and when I looked at them after they were finished, I could draw that meaning out – but once I started trying to fix the meaning at the very moment I was working, everything collapsed. My conclusion is:

  1. There are different ways of thinking and different ways of knowing things.
  2. Not all the ways of thinking and knowing work for every task.

I’m fairly sure there’s a philosopher or two out there who has put this much more eloquently and much more clearly. This was all I could manage on my own.

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To demonstrate the process of how Art Fortunes work, I tried to read my own fortune.

Deck of Fal

After holding onto the deck of cards until I felt as if I had transferred enough of my own energy to them, I spread out the cards face down and picked one without looking. I turned it over, and it turned out to be this one:

Turtle Dreams.jpg I called it Turtle Dreams.

Then, I turned the cards over so I could see all the images, and I looked through them, trying to pick the one card that I felt ‘looked right’ with Turtle Dreams. I looked at all of them and narrowed them down to four possibilities, then out of those four, I picked this one:

Pointy Objects.jpgPointy Objects.

Then, I turned the cards over once again so I couldn’t see the images, and I picked out a third card ‘just by feel’, and without turning it over, I placed it face-down on my black ‘reading cloth’, like this:

Fal reading

Then I started the reading.

The card I picked by looking, Pointy Objects,  is the ‘present consciousness’ card. It’s how you see your current situation – or how you would like to see your current situation. It represents your awareness of what’s going on in your life. In this case, there appears to be a lot of chaos, a lot of violence, and an attempt to flee. Interestingly, Pointy Objects has often been selected by people I’ve done readings for as their ‘present consicousness’ card. I think it is a sign that there is a lot of shit going on in the world. I think you would probably agree.

Turtle Dreams, which is the card I picked without looking, represents the subconscious. It’s what’s going on even if you’re not paying attention. Compared to Pointy Objects, Turtle Dreams still represents an atmosphere fraught with danger, but there is a much greater sense of caution – moving slowly to avoid the danger, rather than running quickly away from it. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell if the turtle is crawling away from the danger zone, or slowly but surely heading right into it. The only way to find out is to look into the future- in this case, the final card, which, when turned over, revealed this:

Floating on PedestalsFloating on Pedestals

Normally, I would have a lot to say about what this card means; in other words, what one can expect to look forward to (or not) in the future. However, when I turned this card over, I found I was without any words, without any interpretive powers at all.

I think what I found out was that you just can’t predict your own future.

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Regardless, I wish everyone the best for 2016 – may it be better than 2015 – and may I remain,

Yours truly,

Deborah Semel Demirtaş