My Experience as a Censored Artist

from "Labels: One Fag Bashes Back"If you browse around the web today, you’re likely to notice something different… blackouts and censored photos in protest of two bills circulating in Congress right now (SOPA and PIPA) that threaten the Internet as we know it. I won’t write about these issues here now (but you can click my “stop censorship” ribbon in the upper right corner for more information).

But thinking about censorship today reminds me of a time when I was a young art student, and one of my art installations was censored by the University I attended. The controversy seemed to consume the student body, and threatened my grades, my reputation, and my personal safety. This post tells the story from my point of view… that of the censored artist. Continue reading

Lorem Ipsum… (Part 1: Genesis of an idea)

NOTE: This is the first part in a series of posts documenting the progress of an Art installation I am working on with the working title “Lorem Ipsum…”. Look for other posts about it under the heading Fine Art/Installation Art/Lorem Ipsum in the navigation header above.

"man" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 by J. Thomson, all rights reserved Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet… is a standardized passage of dummy text used since the 16th century by printers and graphic designers in place of actual text, when creating a layout or typeface for example.

As a fine artist and graphic designer, I often use text in my artwork. I like the additional layers of meaning pieces of text can contribute to a painting or collage, but the whole content of the piece never relies on the text alone. Although the line between graphic design and art is sometimes blurred, for me it is a question of what takes precedence in a piece: the text/typography, or the art/graphics. It is the marriage of both that creates the visual content of the pieces I create.
"blame" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 J. Thomson All rights reservedLast week, I was brainstorming for some ideas for a new series of artwork I wanted to create. Continue reading

Text in Art (or, What an unwelcome horse taught me about art)

Horse painting © 1997 J. Thomson, all rights reserved

Ever since my early painting classes as an undergraduate in art school, I have been interested in incorporating text in my work. Using text in contemporary artwork is nothing new, and some artists use text exclusively. I’ve been inspired by the works of Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer, Cy Twombly, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and the Dada collages of Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, to name a few artists who used text in some of their artworks. I am intrigued by the possibility of adding additional layers of meaning to a piece through the use of text. Such uses have the potential to support the main idea of a piece, or contradict it; either usage is valid. The use of text in visual artwork can also serve to make the piece more accessible to the general public.  I think of it as a way of giving the viewer another handle to hold onto when grappling with the piece.

One of my early painting professors, Erin Palmer, offered a critique of a text painting I made as an undergraduate by asking whether the painting could be successful if the text wasn’t readable (ie, if it were in another language, or if it were illegible text). Continue reading

Thinking big. Adding zeroes.

"blame" from Lorem Ipsum... © 2012 J. Thomson All rights reservedOn the (f)utility of labels in my studio practice

My studio practice differs from that of most artists I know in that I don’t simply go into my studio every day (or even every week) and just paint. And when people I’ve just met ask me what I do, the exchange typically goes like this: “I’m an artist.” “Oh really? What kind of pictures do you paint?” “Well, I do paint sometimes, but not exclusively, and when I do, it’s not usually pictures of anything, because I approach a painting as a three-dimensional object, not an illusion of space…” By this point, the person’s eyes are usually glazing over and darting around the room looking for an excuse to get away. Sometimes to save us both the embarrassment, I’ll simply say that I make abstract paintings (which isn’t really true). The typical response is “oh, that’s nice.” Or maybe, “My aunt was an abstract painter. She killed herself though.” Continue reading

Cape Cod Light paintings at Nichols-Berg Gallery through Jan 2012

Cape Cod Light #9 © 2008 J. Thomson All rights reserved

Cape Cod Light #9 by J. Thomson
6″ x 8″ Oil on Canvas

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For a limited time: 60% off Gallery Wrapped Canvas Prints

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Original Artwork by Lavaguy: 15% off TODAY ONLY + FREE SHIP

Colorful Abstract Painting on Canvas (Untitled #4) wrappedcanvas
Colorful Abstract Painting on Canvas (Untitled #4) by lavaguy
Choose a canvas depth that suits your decór from 3 sizes

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Publishing Your Play: What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect when you hire me to publish your play or other title. If you have more questions about the process, you can download the Prospectus for Playwrights, or contact me for more information. Continue reading

Studio Visit: Ellen Benson, Hidden Gems

 

Ellen Benson's mask-like faces to be used in future projects.

Ellen Benson’s mask-like faces to be used in future projects.

In yesterday’s post, I described my trip to see Randy Dalton’s The Blue Grotto with Steve Berg (from Nichols-Berg Gallery) and encaustic painter and art instructor Clarissa Shanahan, and mixed-media artist Ellen Benson. Before venturing out to West Philadelphia to see Dalton’s art installation, Ellen invited us to see her home and studio in West Mount Airy. This is my record of that visit. Continue reading

Randy Dalton still wants you to “Do Blue”

 

Randy Dalton's Blue Grotto

Randy Dalton’s Blue Grotto

[Today I was lucky enough to tour the artist home/studios of two creative individuals (Ellen Benson, and Randy Dalton, both of the West Mount Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia), plus an installation known as The Blue Grotto, and several related galleries/installations nearby in West Philadelphia. Because my head is still spinning with sensory overload, I’m going to share my visits with you in several chunks. This first chunk is about Randy Dalton, and his Blue Grotto Installation/Do Blue project.]

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