Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Creativity as a Salve for the Mind and Heart

Ana's Thought: "Good Art warms you on a cold, sad day and gives you company when you are lonely."
In this life, it is destined that even the most serene and inspired soul will be tested, as is the way of human existence - for without shadow, we cannot come to appreciate light. When dark clouds gather above, we steel ourselves against the storm and resolve to get through. In life's trying moments, art transforms from pastime or profession to devoted confidante. Creativity has been the life preserver for many great men of our time.
Georgia O'Keeffe beside her canvas and her inspiration; detail from Red Canna.

Georgia O'Keeffe, an artist of superb skill and a spirited, independent woman, was not immune to such struggles. Like the long shadows cast by clouds in the desert sky she loved, there were times when darkness passed over her. Periods of illness and a tumultuous relationship with her husband shaded her vibrant vision. But when depression threatened Georgia, she turned to her art for salvation. She created for herself a world of purest hue and fluid freedom. This world is offered to us in the exquisite paintings she left behind.
Art is not a healing practice reserved for those who make their career from it - bringing ideas to life through creation has the power to lift any soul! The indomitable Winston Churchill was, at times, plagued by what he called 'the black dog of depression.' He, too, found the relief he needed in art.

At the age of forty, Churchill first picked up a palette and found sanctuary within canvas. Over the course of his life, Churchill gave the world 500 magnificent still-life scenes and landscapes. His gift lay quietly within while he went about changing history, and surfaced to show him the path to respite and quiet meditation - an escape from the tension of his public life.

When life's burdens weigh too heavily on my shoulders, I have found that the creation of art frees me from my struggle. In the focused tranquility of painting and sculpting, my mind cannot wander to worries. May you also find light to fill your days in the passions that mark your life - what you love will be the fire that fuels you through all trials.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A Glimpse Into an Artist's Life

Ana's Thought: "Millions find fulfillment in Art."
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Early Sunrise.
Curious-hearted artists of this generation are really lucky. In the past, those who wished to receive guidance in their craft needed to travel to the great cities for art, in the hope that masters would deign to instruct them. Creative communities were built, but many aspiring artists had to abandon the lives they knew to 'come into the fold'. Those who worked independently were often dealt the hand of isolation as they toiled to attain excellence.
Today, artists may have their cake and eat it, too. Though the importance of community to fledgling creative souls must never be devalued, we are now afforded the ability to grow and strengthen our work through the support of an international network. When distance threatens to divide, technology stitches up the gaps between us.
As an artist, I have been delighted to see that many like-minded creators have turned to social media to ask for my opinion on their work. Even more have submitted questions, seeking clarity about my creative process. In my life, I do not have any secrets to keep - the knowledge and experience I possess should be shared, so that others may carry it with them.
In this blog, I will address three questions recently sent to me through my Facebook page. I hope that my followers, readers, and hopeful creators will enjoy this glimpse into an artist's unique life.
When you look at a blank canvas, what do you think to create?
My ideas are born within my imagination's studio long before I set them to canvas. When the vision in my mind appears, I work out its details before a single daub of paint falls. I then select the canvas onto which I will transcribe my dream. For example, when I am moved to depict the gorgeous cherry blossoms that gift us with their fragrance in spring, I focus on the texture of their bark, the lightness of their petals, until I can feel within me the movements that will bring them to life. I then imagine their scale and find the suitable canvas to house them. Within my studio, I keep no fewer than 100 canvases to meet any need I have.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Sky of Rose Diamonds.
To translate my vision into images, I create a rough sketch of what I see with charcoal. Gradually, I build the shapes and textures in layers and layers of paint. I squeeze pigment straight from the tube, blend with my fingers, and shape with brushes. To reflect the picture in my mind, each piece needs its own special combination of techniques.
How long does it take for you to create a painting?
The gestation period of a creative concept - the time between the mind's conception and the birth of a completed piece - varies greatly. There are three primary factors that affect this process in my work: the size of the piece, the importance of it (to me or to others), and how strong the flow of inspiration is within me.
If I am creating works as part of a series, the process is swift - each canvas runs fluidly into the next as the piece is completed. With individual paintings, all of my focus is reserved for the canvas before me, and the process of creation takes longer.
The nature of this development differs from artist to artist. Some may feel the movement and energy igniting their idea and simply must see it through! Others may spend years letting the idea formulate within them before they move to make their work - and may take years of coming and going to bring it into being.
Detail from Ana Tzarev's Blue Diamond.
What brand of paint do you use?
There are three brands of paint that I prefer above all others. Rembrandt creates a fantastic line of materials, and the brand is nearly always my top choice. I also favor Windsor & Newton and Sennelier, which are equally high quality paints. What brand I choose for a piece depends on its unique nature - and each kind offers different qualities of texture and hue within the colour spectrum.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Art Journalism Builds the Bridge Between the Creator and His Viewer

Ana's Thought: "Art is an Inspired Communicator with Imagination - it conveys its message with surprise and delight to the viewer."

Art, like all things in life, is not produced within a vacuum. No matter how strong a creator's vision, there are factors that will influence the style, colour, and content of his work.

As artists, we are mirrors of the reality that we perceive. The process of creation and reflection takes a fascinating turn when it is joined by analysis, placing art in broader context. For this reason, I feel that the role of the art journalist must be given due praise.

The rise of the Internet has granted aspiring writers with great opportunity to take to the front lines of the ever-shifting art world. It may take little more than one burst of inspiration to have the global community take notice! There are so many fine art blogs and columns available to the curious reader - from the New York Times' fantastic ArtsBeat to the Financial Times' well-curated Arts page and countless others in between. Twitter holds hidden gems for those who seek them out; sharp minds and critical eyes give offer their thoughts about current happenings in art in 140 characters or less. We live in an age of unprecedented exchange, from idea to idea - we have before us an incredible opportunity to learn.

The art journalist is a bridge builder, spanning the divide between creator and appreciator. Over the course of my career - and increasingly in recent years - I have been fortunate to find that people around the world wish to learn what drives me to create. After seeing my emotions projected onto canvas and turned to images, they want to hear my story in my own words. It is a tale I am always happy to share!

Each interviewer casts light on a different angle of the story: in Monaco's Riviera Times, the right question illuminated my deeply personal connection with the beautiful principality. Singapore's Ageless Online aimed to reach older art appreciators, asking me to give insight into the foundations of a successful career in later life. The Czech magazine Beauty & Woman provided readers with my unique definition of home, and how my art makes my home. In Mandarin, Turkish, Cyrillic, and Italian, my thoughts and experiences are given to those who wonder!

Whether or not others take a moment to glance at my art, I would still go on creating. But to know for certain that there are those who see what I have made and wish to learn more sets my will alight. Within their interest I find new impetus to create - and I hope, in turn, my work brings a spark to their lives.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Technology Brings Down the Walls Between Art and Audience

Ana's Thought: "Artist, live and paint in the present each day, for that is all there is."
As years go by, I have learned to take pleasure in the simple joys offered by life. In recent times, I have found a new delight to brighten my days: technology's great power to build bridges between us.
Even as my exhibitions travel the world, there will always be some corner they cannot reach. For this reason, I believe that technology is the contemporary artist's most powerful tool in connecting with potential audiences. My Facebook fan page, with a following of over 400,000 users, reflects a universal enjoyment of energy and serenity that inspires me. Each day, I receive comments from people across the globe - from South America to the Middle East, I am greeted by the kind words of those who are moved by the art I create. This, in turn, sparks in me the will to give more of myself - a beautiful symbiosis of giving and receiving of ourselves.
A screenshot of the Ana Tzarev Facebook page.

Today's artists are alive and active in a time unlike any that came before. Our predecessors 
were never afforded the opportunity to have their work sown so readily! The Internet is a river with rapid currents, sending information throughout the world - you never know when your art will be picked up and carried on. The seed of your creation is picked up by its mighty wind and carried off to bloom. You no longer need to have your name in lights to be known.
Not only does technology forge a path between the creators and appreciators, but it also opens the doors to collaboration between artists. Distance is no longer a hindrance - technology has made it an afterthought.

As for the creators who came before us, their work has been imbued with new life. Through efforts like Google Art Project, the art of the ages continues to dazzle and spark wonder into our new era. We can be immersed in history with no more than a click.
The way that we experience art has been forever altered, and I truly feel that it is for the best. Today's technology provides art with the verve and vigor it deserves, with no stolid walls to tether it. Free to all mankind and with doors always open, the world has become our gallery. All you must do is click!

Love Alive in Art: How My Garden of Love Grows

Ana's Thought: "Artist, your hardest work is your greatest masterpiece."
Ana Tzarev beside one of the Love & Peace sculptures in the production facility.
In my years as an artist, I have observed that nature is the finest craftsman. Her flowers shoot forth from soil and sway in the breeze effortlessly, the product of such intelligent design. How easily we take for granted the wonder of creation, the hidden systems that keep the world in motion! My appreciation for nature's incredible intricacies has never been stronger than when I first made my vision of Love & Peace, my ongoing sculptural campaign, into a reality.
Before a single petal could open in the first monumental poppy, its seed needed to germinate in my mind. The idea to create a striking symbol from a familiar flower took shape several years ago, brought on by a life of witnessing the way flowers speak of joy to people across the world. I took this idea and translated it into small sculptures in wax and clay. I finessed the details, envisioning how it would appear in greater scale - though these models were much larger than the blooms in my garden, they had quite a way to grow!

It was clear to me that the road to creating these sculptures was marked with complexity. It was a project unlike any I had undertaken before. Fiberglass seemed the perfect material for a work both resilient and eye-catching, and so it was recommended to me that the process of construction be a collaborative effort with Thailand's finest yacht builders. The team with whom I worked over the course of months was skilled beyond compare, true experts of their craft and, like me, driven by perfection. It would be impossible to tell they had never made a sculpture - through long, hot days in the fabrication studio, we brought the flower to life together.
To form the petals' sloping curves, they were first carved out from foam before a cast of each was created. Hours and hours were spent polishing the casts into immaculate smoothness, which would allow the fiberglass to bond to its surface. In all, seven separate pieces fit together to create the flower before the shining black stamens are placed in the center. The exhibition of each sculpture requires careful reassembly. To witness the process of the flower coming together is breathtaking.

Assembly of the Love & Peace flower on Park Lane, London.
From idea to completion, the first Love & Peace flower took over two years to be born - a time during which I learned so much. The creation of this poppy revealed to me how science and art correspond, for without the technical expertise of my team, the flower would be nothing but fantasy, a beautiful mirage in my mind. Working with a multilingual crew, I saw how critical communication is to the success of a project. Most importantly, I learned that you should never let the uncertainties of the unknown change the message in your heart. From a single seed - brought from the shade of doubt into the light of hope - a worldwide campaign for Love & Peace was born.
Artists, you are indomitable; within you is the power to bring dreams into the world as tangible truths. Let your unique voice resound when your brush meets the canvas... let the world see a new creation of joy and peace!

Ana Tzarev at the premiere of her first Love sculpture. Saatchi Gallery, London.