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I’ll still post the occasional update here, but to follow my work it is best to come over to my new website and follow my blog:


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  • Reading: Star.Ships - Gordon White
  • Drinking: Coffee

Red Kite by JaniceDuke

You may be pleased to hear that my efforts to fundraise for the RSPB in the aftermath of a mass poisoning incident by selling limited edition prints of a Red Kite painted especially for this purpose have been paying off so far. I have raised over £800, woohoo!

The piece has been featured on the BBC Website, in the Press and journal, and has been tweeted by Chris Packham and Mark Avery, two of my wildlife heroes!

It is on display in the hide at Argaty Red Kites, the Red Kite feeding station near Doune, Stirling; and in Pitlochry Pet Supplies, Perthshire. Hopefully helping in some way to continue to draw attention to the issue of wildlife persecution.

Every buyer so far has been very happy with their purchase. Thank you to all of you, as well as those who share this effort, your support and enthusiasm really makes this feel worthwhile.

If you or anyone you know would like one of these special prints email me at janice.duke@hotmail.co.uk

Help spread the word and together let’s make it over £1000 for the RSPB. Let’s shine a bright light in the darkness of this tragedy and show how much we love our beautiful birds.

  • Listening to: Escape (Lukas Termena Chillout mix)
  • Reading: Conversations on the Edge of the Apocalypse
  • Drinking: Tea
Spiral sketch by JaniceDuke

From my blog: janiceduke.wordpress.com/2014/…

The question of art imitating nature is a popular one in aesthetic philosophy and art in general. It is a fascinating topic, but something in particular about it has been niggling at me for a while now, especially recently. That something is the distinct lack of nature in mainstream modern art.

In recent years I have been volunteering with the RSPB, doing my bit for nature and engaging with the public to share my passion for wildlife. I have had a lifelong love of the natural world, but in the beginning it was, much like my love for art, an escapist love. I grew up in Greater London, spending the majority of my time in Essex, where one finds a clash of nature and man on virtually every street. Parts of Essex are ancient woodland and wild meadow nose to nose with housing estates and motorways. My childhood was all about finding the wild places and their inhabitants, escaping from a grey human industrial world populated with predators that made a sparrow hawk or a fox look positively friendly.

But if I drew animals it was usually my pets, of which I had many, some rescued wildlife but most of the domestic variety. Although I did draw them my preferred subject was always fantasy, worlds completely apart from this one, where natural forces dominated and giant mythic beasts roamed. I fell in love with the artwork of Brian Froud and Alan Lee, who take nature to fantastical places, they and others and many, many books gave me yet more escape routes from the council houses I grew up in with their abusive neighbours and insulting social workers, Sun newspaper brainwashed communities and the gaping maw of the poverty trap.

Drawing tended to come from reality to escape it and nature was the place I went to be free. I did not want a drawing of the wild wood, I wanted to be there, and I could not draw the woods of home without turning burnt out cars into fairy grottos and crumbling toilet blocks into troll lairs. Wildlife was scarce, education about it scarcer, and I was an impatient child, quick to replace it with dragons and adventures on alien worlds. Only in recent years have I gone back to that fascination with wildlife and cultivated it into something more still and receptive. Exposure to truly wild places is very likely the cause of this. I suspect if I had stayed in the city it would have rotted that wildness out of me eventually, leaving me another empty husk endlessly craving to fill the void.

It is only when completely cut off from the human that we really find ourselves. An invincible summer in the midst of winter. Without that communion with the alien beyond ourselves we live in an echo chamber of humanness, in which the narcissistic and psychotic become amplified as all we repress is skilfully manipulated to manufacture warped desires that can never be sated.

If we never learn to face and relate to the animal without, how can we possibly hope to come to terms with the animal within? It claws and bites under suits and make-up, its primal hungers surging out in unexpected and unhealthy ways. It has become the subject of endless torments, from factory farming to collateral damage and extermination for sport, it is stuffed, pickled and packed for display, valued far more dead than alive. And all the while inside of us it howls.

When I walk through modern art galleries I am often confronted by this disconnect between man and nature played out vividly (nothing says this more than an exhibit sponsored by Shell). Yet throughout art history the influence of nature is undeniable, it is the very basis of the vast majority of work. Now it is the idiosyncratic, the facile and the profitable that inspire the mainstream. And escapism. Much like my own escapism told me quite clearly there were things in my life I needed to face head on, the escapism of our society’s aesthetics tells us that more broadly. As for our emphasis on the idiosyncratic, the facile and the profitable, I would venture to guess that those are the very things that need to be faced.

Far from escaping reality, in art as well as in nature, I have found the starkest confrontation with reality possible. I found myself beyond myself, out there, part of it all. From this vantage the absence of nature from our portraits and of people from our landscapes speaks volumes.

  • Listening to: R. Armando Morabito
  • Reading: The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
  • Drinking: Tea
Perception sketch by JaniceDuke

From my blog: janiceduke.wordpress.com/2014/…

Recently I finally got around to watching an interview I’ve been told about many times by people on both ‘sides’ of the argument and neither: Richard Dawkins vs. Deepak Chopra [Click Here to Watch]. Dawkins, as usual, puts on airs of being Mr. Reasonable and Objective and ends up, to me, looking something of a bullying arse. The High Priest of Atheism as ever steps beyond the realm of his expertise (he has actually done good science and should continue with that). Although this is still within science – Chopra is a qualified and experienced medical doctor, a board-certified endocrinologist, experienced in conventional medicine and alternative therapy, Dawkins is a qualified and experienced researcher in evolutionary biology, quite different – Dawkins still acts as though he is the only ‘real’ scientist there (concerned more with statistics and trends than real individual instances, ever the research scientist).

In the full interview Chopra comes over very well, I think, it’s an interesting chat between two people with very different views. To call Chopra an enemy of reason would seem more than a little unfair. In the edit used for TV Dawkins makes Chopra look like a total charlatan. It’s pretty pathetic really. Dawkins shines as an evolutionary biologist, but as a ‘champion of reason’ he seems as smug and underhanded as he does foolish. Anyone who fails to believe what he believes is mad. Sound familiar?

I think the personality cult he has amassed and the attention he receives for his opinions disguised as facts is probably all to engrossing, like many groups and movements those who have bought into it believe they have all the answers and everyone else is crazy. They believe ‘Science’ is the lens through which everything should be viewed and yet, as Dawkins shows in the interview, science is a vast subject with many areas he himself knows nothing about. So when he says ‘Science’ what he likely means is research science, specifically animal behaviour and evolutionary biology. The lens through which everything should be viewed just so happens to be his.

Terry Eagleton has remarked ‘imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read[/hear] Richard Dawkins on theology.’ Or indeed philosophy, psychology, physics and a host of other subjects he seems to have decided can only be understood and found valid or invalid by him, er, I mean ‘Science’.

Dawkins seems to have an ego Neutron stars would envy – appearing small only due to its immense denseness. He could learn a thing or two from Chopra, if he could ever actually see beyond his own point of view. Even if Chopra is a charlatan, his work makes people happy and I’ve yet to hear of anyone threatening the lives of others or belittling them in its name.

As ever the comments on this and anything to do with Dawkins tend to descend into incredibly tedious and ubiquitous ‘religion is true/false’ slap fights in which the main taboo appears to be admitting we know nothing for certain and can only test our theories. This just so happens to be good science as well as good mysticism. I can only assume that dogmatism has more appeal to our basic tribal instincts.

The question of the empirical truth of religion and spirituality seems to me entirely uninteresting and missing the point. “Truth” applies to religion and spirituality as much as it does to art. Have you ever seen anyone arguing that a painting is “True”? Or two similar paintings being killed over because one is believed to be “True” and the other “False”? It would be absurd.

The interesting questions regarding religion and spirituality are why people have them and what purpose they fulfil. To fail to acknowledge and investigate the function of religion and spirituality as evolved and interesting natural phenomenon seems to me as much poor science as it does a failure of imagination on the part of the inquirer. But thankfully there are many thinkers willing to look at these issues, unfortunately none are as famous, infamous or influential as Richard Dawkins, who appears intent on promoting a fundamentalist materialist world view that seems to amount to existential nihilism, which leads inevitably to the Camusian question: ‘Why not kill ourselves?’

I chose to see the Nietzschean light at the end of that particular dark tunnel, that we must create our own meanings, and those meanings can and do have validity, the kind there is little use in poking and prodding about for in a laboratory. I accept the fact I am a limited life form with limited fleshy sensoria that can only tell me so much, I will never comprehend the entirety of this wonderful phenomenon that appears to be occurring, however many instruments I use. I lack the hubris to claim I could know it all but I also lack the fear to let that diminish me. I can know what I can know. I embrace that and am in wonder with it. I am an artist.

 

  • Listening to: Rameses B
  • Reading: The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram
  • Drinking: Coffee
Yes, women have breasts. I have breasts. Some of my paintings contain breasts. Apparently this is offensive and pornographic. So my breasts are offensive and pornographic, not because some idiot cannot see that they are sexualising them in their own mind when looking at them, no, it's because their reality, in which all breasts are offensive and pornographic, is the only reality and everyone else is having some kind of psychotic delusion.

I am fucked off with my work getting rejected from groups for containing utterly non-sexual breasts. I have no images in my gallery that are sexual. But apparently some people think breasts are inherently sexual. These people need to grow up and get a life. On the flip side the breasts I have in my gallery are not sexual enough for other groups. Wow. Just wow.
  • Drinking: Tea
When I was young I tended to draw and paint on whatever came to hand, paper, card, bits of wood, the walls... I didn't think about keeping a sketchbook until a very inspirational teacher showed me hers. I was fascinated. Problem was that everything in her book seemed so perfect, so well done, whereas for myself every other thing I did seemed rubbish! It took me years to figure out how using sketchbooks worked best for me. Some artists do create sketchbooks for show, especially if they will be somehow judged or graded on them, while others will be so talented that it just seems that way. They can be used to play with and develop ideas or to practice particular skills, to prepare for a finished piece or to just have fun. Whatever you use yours for here's eight ways I've found to get the most out of a sketchbook.

1. Action. Getting into the habit of sketching can really get your creative juices flowing. Take your sketchbook out with you or set aside some time every day to sketch. This will have to be forced at first if you're not in the habit, but creativity occurs in action. The more active you are the more creative you will become.

2. Ideas and inspiration. Explore your ideas in your sketchbook, doodle anything you think of that appeals to you and don't be afraid to make notes on your pictures. A sketch does not have to look good, most of my sketches are functional, in that they are purely to preserve an idea for later, as long as I can understand what that idea was when I come back to it the sketch has served its purpose, no matter what anyone else may think of it. I keep small books of scrap paper for just this sort of thing, and I always have one with me wherever I go. Because I keep books full of ideas if I ever have a day when I can't think of what to do I simply look through my ideas and sketches for inspiration.

3. Experimentation. Your sketchbook is for you to explore your ideas and what you are capable of. So do that, go wild. Fill in all your pages, use all the space, don't worry about making mistakes and definitely don't be precious! If you think a sketch might be spoiled by working over it, scan it and then print it out again. Try different methods with the same base piece, trace and copy the work of those who inspire you, experiment to learn how they do it. Reference from life, photos, and your imagination. Tear up old work and collage it into new work. There are no rules in your sketchbook.

4. Practice. Practice practice practice! The more time and effort you put in the more you will master your skills. If you have natural talent and you don't do anything with it it's wasted. Someone who practices and has the determination can develop their skills to match any amount of talent and surpass it.

5. Focus on what helps you. If you spend a lot of time sketching you will learn to overcome perfectionism simply to keep going. Judgements and criticism are not helpful in the creative process; they will just destroy your confidence. You are far better off making a mistake and learning from it than being too afraid to even try or, worse, berating yourself for it. See every piece as a learning process and try to see what you can take away from it for next time. Every piece you create will contribute somehow to those pieces you will be really proud of. Stay positive and you will stay creative, as soon as you start having a go at yourself you will stop your creativity flowing. If you find criticism and judgement coming from outside, try to take away anything useful and forget the rest.

6. Planning and problem solving. Sketchbooks provide a great place to plan out pieces in detail, by testing and working out composition, focusing on details and figuring them out, and experimenting to find out what works best. It is the place to play with any constraints and specifics that you need to work with. It is through this that you will discover any problems that need to be addressed and find a way to do that before approaching a final piece. Get into the habit of producing thumbnail sketches of pieces to play with composition. Experiment with colour and texture combinations. And if you have a problem with a piece you are already working on, taking it back to your sketchbook can be the best way to figure it out by looking at it from a different angle and taking more risks with it than you might have otherwise that you can then reapply to the final work. Even if you have a plan you must be willing to depart from it and your sketchbook is the perfect place to figure that out.

7. A record of your progress. This might not seem important or worthwhile to some people, but years from now there could be all kinds of reasons that being able to look back on how your work developed would be useful to you, even if only for nostalgia or inspiration. I have found that looking back on what was driving me in very productive periods has helped to spur me on later down the line. You don't have to keep everything either, what you don't recycle or keep it can be important to get rid of. I have burned sketchbooks and collections of work from periods that I have no intention of reconnecting to, or reclaimed and recontextualised work from those periods that I felt worth keeping. This can be a very healthy way to shed elements of the past you no longer wish to carry forward and focus on more positive and healthy progression and development.

8. Your own personal playground. This is the best thing about sketchbooks; you can do whatever you want with them. They are your own creative world in which you can play with ideas and techniques to your heart's content. Do not worry about other people looking in your sketchbook; their purpose is to capture and develop your creativity. They are about you and nobody else. A sketchbook doesn't need to necessarily be a book either; it is simply a collection of images somehow bundled together. If you create an image you can't take away with you, such as digital art or graffiti, I highly recommend printing them out or taking photographs and keeping them as or in a sketchbook, as they will function as a record of your progress and possibly help you to generate new ideas. Having a digital painting as a hardcopy is a different way of seeing your work, and well worth experimenting with. At the same time, the freedom of keeping and creating some form of digital sketchbook, whether it be through a blog or website or in a folder on your computer, can encourage a whole new realm of creativity. Don't be afraid to save multiple variations, paint over, collage or reshape your work, or combine it with traditional elements. Whatever you do try to have fun :)

janiceduke.wordpress.com/2012/…
  • Listening to: Clint Mansell - Death is the Road to Awe
  • Reading: Chaos, Creativity and Cosmic Consciousness
  • Watching: Autumnwatch
  • Drinking: Tea
The group system seems like it could be one of the most useful things DA has implemented in ages to get artists connected and artworks more exposure. Lets face it; the front page has not been doing that for a long time. A cursory glance usually yields lots of nudes and anime, which seems fine if that’s what you’re into, but doesn’t exactly help in getting away from the obvious to something a bit different. There’s a word for that. Oh yes. Deviating.

Daily Deviations have done something toward helping this in the past, but there does seem to be a lot of pressure on the people who choose them to satisfy their audience rather than their own idea of what deserves exposure.

In this article I intend to look at the good and bad side to groups, speaking as an average user of fair to good artistic skill. I’m not going to name names, but it was mainly provoked by several bad experiences I’ve had with some rather elitist groups since the system came in, which compare very poorly to the smooth, pleasant and most importantly useful experiences I’ve had with other groups. Generally ones that do not focus on popularity or some subjective standard of artistic merit.

Speaking as someone who holds an MA Honours in Philosophy with emphasis on the study of Aesthetics, I think I know a thing or two about artistic merit. But I like to keep my observations and inputs as constructive as possible. Having been on the receiving end of thoroughly destructive comments and actions about my work in the flesh, I remain sensitive to the fact that this does not help an artist with their work. It merely helps a critic with their ego.

Anyway, what do I mean by useful? I mean groups that satisfy my personal idea of what groups in general should be about: connecting people and exposing works of art to a wider audience, particularly if it’s a special interest audience. There are, obviously special interest audiences interested in works that are popular, works that are considered by some subjective standards as ‘elite’ or masterpieces, and works that have received DDs. This is all well and good, but does nothing for the average artist using this site, apart from give them eye candy to aspire to and a sense an amorphous collection of people’s idea of what ‘good art’ looks like. A sense that is useful if you’re looking to sell your work to such an audience, but not very if you’re looking to develop your own ideas and originality.

Ah, now there’s an important word: originality. A word that doesn’t often hang out in the same room as popular. Although when the two do get together things can get positively delicious.

For me the word ‘Elite’ has become one that makes me turn away from a group immediately. It makes me see the word ‘Declined’ often in my future. Groups that decline on the slightest grounds annoy me tremendously, particularly if it is for beaurocratic reasons and they don’t tell me. Is it really so hard for moderators to move submissions to the right folder when someone has obviously not maliciously put it in the wrong place? Haha, I have nothing better to do with my life but submit things to the wrong folder to annoy you! Obviously. A lot of times when I have put something in the wrong folder it has been because the folder set up of the group has been so unfathomable I cannot work out where anything goes!

Too much beaurocracy definitely makes me walk away from groups. I barely have time to produce the work let alone negotiate some complicated labyrinth of folders and criteria that have been made so strict and specific they manage to remain unclear. On the other end of this are groups with no mission statement or criteria and no organisation at all. I wonder why they are there and what they are for, and then walk away. Maybe a bit of saucy mod swapping could go on between some of these, eh? Get the fussy ones to sort out the lax ones and vice versa.

But back to the decline issue. What annoys me more than my work being declined because of something that has nothing to do with it, is having my work declined because it doesn’t fit with a subjective criteria according to someone else. Some group moderator. Because they are all knowing. Obviously. Please, get a grip. What annoys me about such petty tyrants, who will decline a work on the most spurious grounds, as if their perception is representative of everyone else, is that they usually don’t give any reason. There is the word ‘Declined’ with no explanation. When this happens a few times, I get angry. And I’m told, ‘oh, but it would take forever to say why we declined to everyone’. Well…

I’m sure it probably took a long time for some of those works you’re declining to be produced. If you can’t think of a good reason for each and every one, and I don’t care how long it takes, speaking as someone who will spend months on an art project, then don’t you think that your reason for declining might not be good enough? Hmmm? Just a thought.

On to groups that make me feel good and make me want to join in.

Groups that have space for masterpieces as well as works requesting or needing constructive criticism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to deny the artists who are labelled elite their rightful exposure, that would be stupid! But if we don’t give anyone else a chance to develop where are the new elites going to come from? Its not like these people were born shitting works of art. It takes time and practice to develop your skills, and this is helped along by being able to get a range of opinions and pointers on your work.

Groups that are specific in content but not so specific and beaurocratic that I end up feeling like my work is so far into the folder warren it may as well be buried, or each piece needs a vote by twelve people and a badger at midnight each third Tuesday to be accepted.

Groups that actually encourage me to submit work by having as few barriers as possible and members who will come along and actually engaged with the work in a pleasant manner. I actually really like and prefer it when a submission is automatically accepted, rather than having it sit there for ages waiting. Groups that accept but have a cap on submissions per whatever get a definite thumbs up from me.

Groups that request or accept work without my having to be a member also get a thumbs up. I don’t only create about one subject and won’t necessarily find it useful to be a member of every group I have work in. I love seeing group collections that have obviously made an effort to find appropriate works though, and I like the idea that the requests for those works to be put in the group gallery may have put a smile on a few people’s faces.

Groups in which community spirit and development of artistic practice is valued over popularity, but where it can still be understood that this can make people feel good about their work.

Groups that hold events and competitions that give people a way to really get involved and join in.

Groups that regularly give exposure to their content through features, for whatever reason.

Finally, groups that make me feel good about my work. I’m tired of the emphasis of a lot of groups being whether or not I’m good enough for them. Er, no, I think you’ll find its whether or not we think you’re good enough for us that will make or break you my dears. And if you’re not going to make people feel good about being in your group, you will lose them.

So, in conclusion, I love groups for the ability to connect with other people, be inspired by their work and gain more exposure for my work; I hate them for the elitism and anal-retentive attention to silly details. I’m not saying anything has to be done about the negative side there. I take action ‘with my feet’ on those issues, as we creators and watchers are free to accept or decline groups as we please.

My concern for the future of those positive points, however, amounts to something I’ve noticed over the months since implementation. Many works I submitted to various groups gained a great deal in terms of exposure in the beginning. These days, not so much. Part of that might be to do with having works waiting for approval for ages, so feedback takes a long while to trickle in. Another part may be that we’ve got a bit bored of it all by now. But I suspect the main difficulty will be people only using groups to boost their ‘popularity’ and not bothering to pay attention to other works. If the majority of people in a group do this then hardly anything gets looked at. And its hard to get looked at in some of the bigger groups anyway.

For myself, I value the feedback, but understand people don’t want their inboxes flooded. I have submissions switched off from the groups I’m in, preferring to browse various collections when it suits me and I have time to give feedback. So I wonder if there could be a way to place more emphasis on connectivity, exposure and feedback. I see the +fav button as the ultimate example of that, a streamlined way of saying ‘I saw this and I liked it’. I guess the best way for me seems to be to involve myself in the groups that encourage those values and walk away from the ones that don’t.
A DD! Wow! :party: :boogie: :woohoo: :faint:

Thank you very much to :iconmidnightexigent: for featuring Kali in 'The Cutting Edge' news.deviantart.com/article/10… which I'm sure played a crucial part in getting the piece seen. :glomp:

A huge thank you to :iconfourteenthstar: for giving Kali a Daily Deviation! Thank you so much!

:tighthug: :blowkiss: :love: :woohoo: :love: :blowkiss: :tighthug:

Most importantly though, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to look at, :+fav: and comment on the piece (and other pieces too), and a special thanks to those who've given me a watch because of this :glomp:

I'll try my best to reply to all your comments. Appologies if I miss anyone ;P

I am so totally lost for words because of this! :giggle: :faint:
  • Listening to: Turisas
  • Reading: Prometheus Rising
  • Watching: everything fall into place
  • Playing: with reality
Tagged by :iconelmara:

Rules
:bulletorange: Post these rules.
:bulletorange: Each tagged person must post 8 things about themselves on their journal.
:bulletorange: At the end, you have to choose and tag 8 people and post their icons on the same journal.
:bulletorange: No tag-backs.

1. I have a strong desire to make my living doing something I enjoy. I have a strong desire be in the position to make this happen. I am currently a freelance artist. I enjoy art as both work and play, and like it best when those lines can blur productively.
2. I’m not much of a people person. I generally prefer involving myself with animals, nature and my own imagination. I've always had more imaginary friends than real ones.
3. I don't really like talking about myself.
4. I'm much more sociable on the Internet than I am in real life.
5. I'm driven to create and do more and know more. I enjoy philosophy, speculative science, fiction of all kinds, a wide variety of music, hill walking, comedy and all things anti-consensus reality. I would love to learn to speak French and to play guitar. I love to learn in general.
6. I find life glorious, astounding, horrific, ruthless, mystical, sublime, and many other things. Never boring.
7. I feel that reality is more dream-like than most people dare to imagine.
8. I will keep going.

I tag:

:iconpaulstagg: :iconranger-roger: :iconpseudometry: :iconstuntedsanity:
:iconwithindreams: :iconvilla-chinchilla: :iconjaqdhawkins: :iconvaxillus:

:ahoy:
  • Listening to: Nevermore
  • Reading: The Wasp Factory -- Ian Banks