Archive for the ‘Books & Literature’ Category

A conversation with Megan Kennedy

August 27, 2012

“St. Six”

Please enjoy the following interview I had with Salt Lake City digital artist, photographer and author Megan Kennedy, because I know I did.

ArtDuh: I was listening to Florence and the Machine this morning and I was like, “That’s what Megan’s stuff kind of reminds me of.” Have you heard Florence’s stuff?

Megan: Yeah, yeah.

ArtDuh: [The song] “Shake it Out,” with the demons and fighting them – you have a few pieces that focus on women and it always seems like they’re going through some sort of struggle or they’re fighting, but they’re also emitting a strong sort of presence.

Megan: It’s definitely something purposeful, but still subconscious. I’ve dealt with stuff in my life that has given me the kind of perspective where it’s all just a choice. To me, where you’ve got the abyss and you’ve got life and you just kind of have to make that choice every day to which one you prefer… What it’s boiled down to for me is that I just remind myself to choose the life anytime I feel that, because depression’s a scary thing to struggle with and anybody’s who’s been through it understands how heavy that can weigh on you. So pushing off of that is kind of a constant theme in my life now, just remembering it’s not anything that’s happened to you or about you; it’s just that you’re choosing to ignore it, whatever’s causing that darkness. So it’s definitely a theme that means a lot to me.

ArtDuh: Do you personally struggle with it, or do you have people close to you that do?

Megan: Yeah, I’ve got family members that do, but I’ve definitely struggled with it since I was a young adult, so it’s been a crappy presence in my life, but something that I think, you know, you go through stuff and you become a better person on the other end.

“When I Grow Up”

ArtDuh: Where else do you draw your inspiration? Right now you have a series that you call a fossil series or a dino series; where’s that coming from?

Megan: I just restarted school and I’m going in for history. I love old things. I love just that history, and how old the world is and that there was really such a time when there weren’t any people and it’s so hard for us to wrap our minds around it. I’m just really attracted to anything that represents this thing that we can barely really understand. Just trying to picture these things walking and that we can still dig them up and how lucky it was that the right circumstances made these bones survive because otherwise we would have had no idea.  Like, how old would we have thought the world was? So, just all the questions that something that old draws to my mind, it’s definitely why I like that series so much. It’s just fun. The museums did such a good job arranging them as well, so they do get credit for the awesome way they put them up. It’s awesome to go see them.

ArtDuh: Where do you grab your images? Some of them seem so surreal. The album cover you did for Arsenic Addiction and the skull, did you have that lying around?

Megan: Yeah, so basically what I do is either I’m taking the photos or just use them from stock photography (so people that take these pictures and then sell them or give them out for artists like me to utilize them). So, if there’s something I can’t take a picture of like, you know, I’m not in Europe, so there’s no way I can get a medieval castle around here to shoot, so luckily there’s these awesome photographers who take these shots for artists like me. And they’re artists in their own right, really. But usually I grab from that or pictures I’ve taken, pictures friends have taken, things like that. It’s almost a mixed medium, but not really.

ArtDuh: Do you work with other mediums?

Megan: I’m not a very good draftsman. I started school for art first before I switched over to history and it’s just, I love photography, I love the digital arts, but it doesn’t really translate to traditional forms. I’d really love to know how to paint and do it well, but that’s probably for another time.

ArtDuh: Are you self-taught?

Megan: Pretty much. I took those few classes at the University of Utah and it was 3D art, 2D art, and a kind of instruction drawing type thing. It wasn’t digitally focused. But no, pretty much self-taught. Like, I found this stuff, and it’s funny because I’ve never been into art, but when I was a teenager and going through probably the darkest period that I referred to earlier, writing… I’m a big writer, I’ve written my whole life, but it wasn’t doing the trick as far as therapy. So I found deviantART, I found dark art, and it was so new and it’s expression of darkness and how they were doing was exactly what I was looking for. And so it just compelled me to start trying to build my own.

ArtDuh: I find that fascinating because I don’t know if I’m drawn to making art in the way that I need it as an outlet for emotion.

Megan: It definitely is for me. I have a hard time processing emotion really just as a person, I think. I just get really uncomfortable with feelings, I don’t like them. That pushed-down stuff, this is where it comes out and I’m grateful for it; it’s really awesome the stuff that comes out. You know, watching people buy it at festivals, it’s just cool to actually connect with people and it’s a different kind of emotional connection and one that’s actually not uncomfortable for me.

ArtDuh: So when you’re at these festivals, what does it feel like when someone shows an appreciation for your art?

Megan: It’s powerful. It’s an acceptance. For somebody who has such a hard time connecting with people, it means a lot. Because I think especially dark artists or digital artists… every artist suffers some sort of rejection even in their art. So to have people like the one where it says, “When I grow up I want to eat the weak;” I made that as this dark joke, and I can’t believe the amount of people that responded to it, like old women and moms that buy it for their kids’ rooms and people want to put it in their office all the time. For something that was just a dark joke that usually some people would criticize me for and to have so many people just laugh at it with me, it’s just cool. It’s given me a whole new perspective on people. It’s hard not to judge people, but it gives me a whole new perspective on people who I would have never thought were into that. It kind of opened my eyes in how much art can affect people. There were people I otherwise would never have talked to, probably, because we share no interests, but in that one moment we shared that same joke.

“Wildling”

ArtDuh: You said you weren’t really attracted to art in the first place. Tell me about that.

Megan: Yeah, as a little kid, it was mostly science. Science and history. I’ve always been fascinated with history. I suck with numbers, but I can remember eras and I love storytelling. I’ve loved books my whole life. I don’t know, my brother was always (he’s not the hugest artist or anything now) the one doodling around or sketching and he was all very good at it. So we just always kind of thought he was the artist and then just this transition happened. (I enjoy art, especially CD covers, that’s kind of what got me into it. I love the art that comes with music.) But until I got this digital medium where, not that it was any easier to learn than say painting or traditional mode, but just whatever it was spoke to me as a person and the way my brain operated and it was easy for me to finally translate that stuff. For somebody that has never been that artistic outside of writing, it was a really awesome thing to discover that I could do. But yeah, logic brain, that’s where I’m comfortable.

ArtDuh: Do you incorporate history into your art?

Megan: I try to, yeah. I’ve always dabbled in the idea of doing some flat-out historical piece. But there’s something very flat about it, the way I’m approaching it, so if I can hit it in the right way, then absolutely. I got really into paganism the last couple of  semesters, just learning about what these religions  really were. I’ve incorporated a lot of that lately into my art. But yeah, if I can find the right, reason to use it, I will.

ArtDuh: What else do you do for work?

Megan: I work part-time, day job at a pet store. I love animals. I’m about to start school again at the University of Utah. I’d love to expand my degree into archeology so I can actually dig this stuff up and study it but for right now it’s about getting the degree first. I work for SLUG Magazine, and I’m covering Napalm Flesh which is the heavy metal side. It’s super awesome because I’ve been a metal head for a long time so it’s cool to be a part of the community. I’ve got the art and then the writing. I’ve had a couple things published and I’m working on novels and things like that. It’s fun. I like hobbies.

ArtDuh: I saw that you also photograph for SLUG, too?

Megan: I’m on the photography team, technically, but it’s mostly writing. I started with writing, and then I went and covered Mayhem Fest and they had an extra camera. Shooting bands is one of my favorite things to do. It’s so cool to watch people in their element and capture that happiness. And they’re never like that off-stage, it’s just that one moment.

ArtDuh: How did you get the inspiration for the album cover?

Megan: That was so much fun, because I was struggling. I’ve done their album art before. This was the first time where they were like, “We’re not going to be on the cover as a band. We don’t need to do any photography and this is all up to you. We’re just letting you do this. We trust you.” It was a lot of pressure. I don’t even remember my whole original idea, but it was something totally different and then I just thought, “You know, let’s just do something crazy.” And so I’d been working on it for 3 or 4 weeks already and it was so frustrating because it didn’t feel right. (And I’ve been getting better as the years go by, recognizing when it doesn’t feel right and to just abandon it. It’s hard to do that when you’ve been working on it for 15 hours already.) The one that came up, that album cover, I did that in 5 or 6 hours in a night because it just hit. It was something about the way the woman’s body was bent. It was such a dramatic expression. It came together and I got the colors right and I decided to make it that foreground focus thing because it felt like you were coming upon something that you weren’t supposed to see. It just popped.

ArtDuh: Tell me about your book.

Megan: It’s a horror novel. It started as a frustration project to get some emotions out, basically. I’m way into zombies, I’m way into horror picture. And more than that I’ve got this super fascination with anti-heroes and what means good and bad and the whole apocalyptic world view. You always wonder what would happen if it really did happen and what would the remainder of humanity be like. And the zombie movies, they’re entertaining, but it’s all of these good guys, these people that survived by banding together and everything. But nobody does a movie about just the bad guys. That’s who I think would survive; it would be a world of the worst people ever, because they would be cold enough to survive. So that’s the perspective I came from and I have a huge soft spot for the South, so I set it in New Orleans  so I could have some fun with that. And I just started building this story about this jerk drifter that’s the worst kind of survivor and coming across others who are just as bad as him.

I’ve had more downloads than they say you should expect as an indie e-book person. If it gets my name out there, awesome, but I have plenty of writing to do, so I’m not too worried.

Thanks, Megan! Look for Megan’s art at

duskblood.tumblr.com

facebook.com/abuseofreason

and her E-book, “Bury Me In Smoke” at Barnes and Noble.

Also, find more of Megan’s writings under her other name, Megan Dipo.

Osip Mandelstam

August 12, 2012

“The White Orchard” by Vincent Van Gogh

I keep thinking about the poem below, written by Osip Mandelstram. I can’t seem to shake it’s imagery, and certain lines float up into my mind without warning.

Mandelstein was condemned and hunted by Joseph Stalin because he recited poetry that was critical of the Communist state. It isn’t certain, but this may have been the very last thing that Mandelstein composed. If not his last poem, it was one of the final two or three.

by Osip Mandelstam (4 May 1937)

And I was alive in the blizzard of the blossoming pear,
Myself I stood in the storm of the bird-cherry tree.
It was all leaflife and starshower, unerring, self-shattering power,
And it was all aimed at me.

What is this dire delight flowering fleeing always earth?
What is being? What is truth?

Blossoms rupture and rapture the air,
All hover and hammer,
Time intensified and time intolerable, sweetness raveling rot.
It is now. It is not.

_________________________________________________

www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/698

www.fsgpoetry.com/fsg/2011/04/christian-wiman-on-translating-osip-mandelstam.html

Elements and Angels

July 29, 2012

Elements

I mentioned last week that I’d been thinking of self-publishing some of my work. Well, I’ve started by collecting a couple of series that I finished over the last year or so. If you’re interested in getting your own copy of either of these little ditties just send an email to toddpowelson{at}comcast.net and I will be happy to send it along in the mail.

For only $5, you can get a nice book reproduction of my series Angels, Demons & Animals (linked here and pictured below). This series is one of my personal favorites, and through it I’ve communicated some ideas that had been on my mind for quite some time. I love how it turned out.

I’ve also collected my Elements, which is another favorite series of mine. Check it out, only $4!

I’ve been working on other ideas too, so expect more soon!

Angels, Demons & Animals

Zines

July 22, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I made it down to the SLC Main Library for the annual Alt Press Fest. There were many fine artists and zine publishers and, although I was kind of rushed because I had some work waiting for me that I needed to do, I really enjoyed myself. I’ve been thinking about zines for a long long time, and I am planning on making something along those lines. As a matter of fact, I’ve started a few projects already and I’m pretty excited by them.

It was great to visit this festival, meet and catch up with people, and take a look at all of the fine work that is out there. Its always good to see the work of artists like Nic Annette Miller, Travis Gray, Evan Jed Memmott, Potter Press, Copper Palate Press, and many many others. I really enjoyed what I saw.

At the Alt Press Fest I picked up a book called “Whatcha Mean, What’s a Zine?” by Mark Todd and Esther Pearl Watson. Like I say, I’ve been thinking of zines and self publishing for quite a while now but, even though I work as a graphic designer and understand the technical side of printing very well, I still had questions. Questions about inexpensive materials and methods, distribution, and how to spread the word. I’ve found this book to be a very good resource and starting point, with some very good advice. If you have any interest in creating zines, maybe this book would be a good starting point for you too.

Some additional helpful links:

slcplaltpress.wordpress.com/alternative-press-resources

rookiemag.com/2012/05/how-to-make-a-zine

zinewiki.com/Main_Page

Begin it now

July 1, 2012

“Goethe” by Andy Warhol

Sometimes, when feeling discouraged or frustrated, it is necessary to hear someone else’s story or read encouraging words. I subscribe to Audible.com and on a whim I picked up the excellent book, the War of Art by Steven Pressfield. In his book, Pressfield quotes W. H. Murray, who is in turn quoting Goethe. I really like what they all had to say, and I need to remember it and move some projects and goals forward. I also like that there was so much quoting going on!

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never have otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way.  I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’”

W. H. Murray

In a tiny village…

April 1, 2012

A while ago, it has been at least six or so years, Anna wrote a story based on my picture called Imagination. I’ve had her story on my mind ever since, and have wanted to illustrate her writing. I’ve had a few false starts, many distractions, side-tracks and set-backs, and getting that project done has been difficult… but now I am making it a priority. I will be finished with the artwork very soon, and will be posting again about it once the project is finished.

In the mean time, please enjoy the image above. Made on my iPad using Adobe Ideas. It’s probably the only picture from the series I’ll be releasing any time soon.

Enjoy!

artduh.etsy.com

toddpowelson.com

William Blake

January 1, 2012

Job's Evil Dream

The Whirlwind: Ezekiel's Vision

I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

These last few weeks, poetry has kind of taken over here at ArtDuh. This is a good thing, because I love the ideas and imagery words can inspire. William Blake is one of my favorite poets, and also one of my favorite visual artists. I’ve been thinking about him a lot these last few months, and he has kind of been weighing on my mind, and even my soul if you want to know the truth. I just can’t seem to shake some of his words and imagery.

Whore of Babylon

Blake’s work is very unique, and to simply label him as a poet or painter misses the mark. Maybe he is more of an insane prophet, ranting wonderful mad dark angelic dream visions. The truth is, there is nobody like Blake. Apprenticed as an engraver, he went on to publish most of his own work. His books usually had the verse on one page, with an accompanying image on the facing page. Image and verse are meant to interact and go together.

They told me that the night & day were all that I could see;
They told me that I had five senses to inclose me up.
And they inclos’d my infinite brain into a narrow circle.

- Visions of the Daughters of Albion (excerpt)

Seven Spirits of God

Blake’s path was set before him at a very young age. When Blake was four years old, a spirit poked his head into Blake’s window and told Blake to be an artist. These spirits and angels would visit him throughout his life, providing inspiration, insight and instruction. Blake would say that whenever we are generous and kind, whenever we realize the potential inside ourselves, we are artists. For him, that is creativity, and what an artist is. The life you build can be your art, and the world we make is the artwork. Life and art are the same thing. God is creativity.

Portrait of Newton

Blake illustrates a certain darkness too. That darkness shows our shortcomings, when we’ve latched on too tightly to dogma and orthodox systems, or when we succumb to base emotions. Lack of creativity is caused by emotions like jealousy, or because we’ve allowed religious or political systems to define and limit our world. He saw science as ignorant. And industry, when valued over human life and potential, as evil and inspired by Satan.

The ancient Poets animated all sensible objects with Gods or Geniuses, calling them by the names and adorning them with the properties of woods, rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations, and whatever their enlarged & numerous senses could perceive.

And particularly they studied the genius of each city & country, placing it under its mental deity;

Till a system was formed, which some took advantage of & enslav’d the vulgar by attempting to realize or abstract the mental deities from their objects: thus began Priesthood;

Choosing forms of worship from poetic tales.

And at length they pronounc’d that the Gods had order’d such things.

Thus men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast.

- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (excerpt)

Urizen

Blake lived during a time when the world was becoming more and more mechanized, and peoples lives were spent working in dirty factories, defined by the clock. He reacted against the machine by turning towards nature and the spirituality. He believed if we could drop our preconceived ideas, recognize and  experience each moment as unique, immediate and spontaneous, then we’d “see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower”. Each moment, and every object, is unique and undefinable. Blake reinforces this by tearing words and symbols away from their traditional meaning, and giving them a new definition.

Pity

Blake’s poems are too long to include here, even these excerpts make this post seem like a long rant, and there are so many beautiful images I cannot display. But do a little research and become acquainted. Or revisit Blake. It’s a good day for it!

www.blakearchive.org

www.william-blake.org

The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun

From the Journals of the Frog Prince

December 29, 2011

My poetry kick continues, we are closing down 2011 with one of my very favorite poems, from my text book, freshman year of college:

From the Journals of the Frog Prince
by Susan Mitchell

In March I dreamed of mud,
sheets of mud over the ballroom chairs and table,
rainbow slicks of mud under the throne.
In April I saw mud of clouds and mud of sun.
Now in May I find excuses to linger in the kitchen
for wafts of silt and ale,
cinnamon and river bottom,
tender scallion and sour underlog.

At night I cannot sleep.
I am listening for the dribble of mud
climbing the stairs to our bedroom
as if a child in a wet bathing suit ran
up them in the dark.

Last night I said, “Face it, you’re bored.
How many times can you live over
with the same excitement
that moment when the princess leans
into the well, her face a petal
falling to the surface of the water
as you rise like a bubble to her lips,
the golden ball bursting from your mouth?”
Remember how she hurled you against the wall,
your body cracking open,
skin shriveling to the bone,
the green pod of your heart splitting in two,
and her face imprinted with every moment of your transfomation?

I no longer tremble.

Night after night I lie beside her.
“Why is your forehead so cool and damp?” she asks.
Her breasts are soft and dry as flour.
The hand that brushes my head is feverish.

At her touch I long for wet leaves,
the slap of water against rocks.

“What are you thinking of?” she asks.
How can I tell her
I am thinking of the green skin
shoved like wet pants behind the Directoire desk?
Or tell her I am mortgaged to the leek-green tip of my soul?
Someday I will drag her by her hair to the river- and what?
Drown her?
Show her the green flame of my self rising at her feet?
But there’s no more violence in her
than in a fence or a gate.

“What are you thinking of?” she whispers.
I am staring into the garden.
I am watching the moon
wind its trail of golden slime around the oak,
over the stone basin of the fountain.
How can I tell her
I am thinking transformations are not forever?

I Never Saw a Wild Thing

December 27, 2011
photo by Anna West

photo by Anna West

I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.

A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.

- D.H. Lawrence

Bare Bodkin

December 20, 2011

We rarely blog about poetry. I don’t know why because I love it. This poem is on my mind. In fact, I used it in all my graduate school applications in explaining how and why I wanted to fight against the urge to quietus make, with a bare bodkin. . .

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

- William Shakespeare


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 50 other followers

%d bloggers like this: