Tag Archives: United States

Artist-in-Chief: Presidents are Painters too!

A United States president has a lot of responsibility. From the time when he (and, perhaps in the future, she) is sworn into office, he steps into supreme command over the country’s military; he has the power to sign bills into laws; and he becomes the chief diplomat, a national representative to whom the leaders of other countries look. Needless to say, the president is a busy person. But throughout history, presidents have found time to exercise their artistic talents while in office and at terms end.

In fact, some presidents turned to painting as a release from the stress of a high pressure job. After all, art has been known to relieve tension and serve as an escape from life pressures. According to the American Art Therapy Association, “Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.”

According to an article on MentalFloss.com, four presidents were notable painters.

  1. George W. Bush –

    Most recently, the world has experienced the 43rd president as he took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, published a book about his father (41st president George H.W. Bush), and enthusiastically showcased his paintings of dogs. His late Scottish terrier isn’t the only subject of the former president’s artwork. In April 2014 a Dallas exhibit showcased over two dozen paintings of fellow world leaders.

  2. Jimmy Carter –

    It is no surprise that artwork adorned with the signature of President Jimmy Carter has fetched hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. Even though he started painting post-presidency, he has become a skillful painter in his own right. Proceeds from his one-of-a-kind nature scenes or portrayals of wildlife mostly go to charitable causes.

  3. Dwight D. Eisenhower –

    It has been said that Dwight D. Eisenhower was prescribed painting as a cure to the stress of being Chief of Staff of the Army. At that time, Winston Churchill, who enjoyed the many benefits of painting, seemed to inspire the future president’s pursuit of the practice. In his lifetime, Eisenhower completed over 250 paintings but even he recognized the monetary value of his art depended on his presidential fame.

  4. Ulysses S. Grant –

    On this list, Ulysses S. Grant is probably the only man who entered the presidency knowing he had innate artistic talent. In fact, it was said that Grant painted with watercolor while attending West Point Academy and was proud every time he completed an artistic project. Many of Grant’s detailed paintings are housed in private collections today.

Every president wears multiple hats while in office, but only a few can be called “artists-in-chiefs.”

United States Presidents have been known to relieve stress by painting. Now you can do the same. Explore the art of peaceful imaging; Segmation offers digital paint-by-number software and patterns of the USA’s most memorable presidents. SegPlay is also available in the Apple App Store.

United States President Caricature by Segmation

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:

17 Fun Facts About U.S. Presidents

United States Presidents Were Skilled Musicians

Happy President’s Day!

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An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

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James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

 
Obesity is considered a major health crisis in the United States and many other countries. According to the Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled” since the 1970s. It has also been reported that two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese.

While media pundits and nutritional scientists speculate the cause of obesity, one source of the problem seems apparent: junk food.

Humans love junk food. And many of us are addicted to it (which some claim is the food industry’s goal.) When considering this truth, it is safe to say that junk food has changed the face of our culture.

One artist, photographer James Ostrer decided to explore this phenomenon with his latest series, entitled, “Wotsit All About?”

If you called the series horrific, he might not mind. Using junk food, he produced some of the most disturbing images you can imagine. Monsters.

Coping With Junk

At an early age, James Ostrer’s parents divorced. It was a troubling time for him and his parents did what they could to lift their child’s spirits. His father, in particular, thought Happy Meal’s would work. Therefore, whenever Ostrer’s father picked him up for the week, he started things off with a trip to McDonald’s.

Unfortunately, instead of lifting Ostrer’s mood, this tradition brought on a bad habit. Ostrer began turning to junk food as a way to cope with stress. As he got older, Ostrer noticed his health was in decline. This got him thinking about how his relationship with junk food negatively impacted his life. He also began to reflect on how junk food impacts the world. That was when inspiration struck.

Happy Meal Monsters

The result was a series of portraits that showcased grotesque monsters made entirely of junk foods like candy, burgers, and chocolate. Ostrer used junk food as material to completely cover his models from head to toe. After eight hours in the “makeup” chair, each monster emerged looking horrifying and disturbing. This was Ostrer’s goal. The photographer successfully made the point that our relationship with junk food is indeed horrifying, grotesque, and disturbing.

Ostrer also titles his photographs to enrich his message. Each one contains the letters, “EF,” followed by a number. “EF” stands for “emotional fossil.” This structure mirrors what is called “E numbers.” The Food Standards Agency’s code for what are considered safe additives. The reviews are strict but somehow, fast food restaurants keep managing to receive passing grades.

Ostrer’s monsters have their own E numbers, indicating that they are “safe.” But Ostrer second guesses their labels by asking, “Are these monsters safe?”

Is Junk Food Safe?

Health is a global issue and junk food is too, especially in America. More often than not, what seems harmless turns out to be destructive. James Ostrer’s work reflects this fact with a bit of a twisted view. Ostrer tells us these junk food monsters are on the loose, but instead of running from them, we invite them into our bodies every day.

By viewing Ostrer’s photographs, we are invited into his perspective; a perspective that he hopes will alter the trends of junk food.

Read more Segmation blog posts about food art:

Food Never Looked So Good

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Thanksgiving Scenes Influences Art

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Since When is Shredding Money a Wise Investment?

Mark Wagner Collage Artist 1Collage artist Mark Wagner sees the term, “It takes money to make money” as literal. His favorite art medium involves making collages of one dollar bills. But don’t let this small currency fool you. He receives thousands of dollars for his artwork.

Working with small bills all day requires a greater investment of time than dollars. When CBS News asked about the expense of using money as his medium, Wagner said, “The bills aren’t the expensive part of the operation. It’s the time – that’s the expensive part.” In order to contrive pieces of dollar bill that will be repurposed and repositioned in his masterpieces requires an X-acto knife and steady hand. Wagner cuts dollar bills into pieces and then organizes the parts into boxes until he is ready to assemble the collage.

On his website, Markwagnerinc.com, Wagner publishes an insightful statement about his infamous collage work:

The one dollar bill is the most ubiquitous piece of paper in America. Collage asks the question: what might be done to make it something else? It is a ripe material: intaglio printed on sturdy linen stock, covered in decorative filigree, and steeped in symbolism and concept. Blade and glue transform it-reproducing the effects of tapestries, paints, engravings, mosaics, and computers—striving for something bizarre, beautiful, or unbelievable… the foreign in the familiar.

Aside from scrupulously breaking down the dollar bill, Wagner has a creative mind to see a dollar as more than currency. His mother says that becoming a professional artist was Mark’s “single-minded pursuit” growing up. She was amazed at the way his mind worked. Now the rest of the world joins her, watching the artist with awe. How does he come up with these designs? And how does he see money so differently than the general public?

In 2009, Wagner made a momentous artistic feat with one of his most well-known pieces titled, “Liberty.” It is a 17 feet tall, six feet wide installment that uses nearly 82,000 individual pieces of dollar bills. Inspired by the Statue of Liberty, the piece tells a much greater story than peace and justice for all. “Beyond its humor, beauty, and spectacle,” a write-up on the Pavel Zoubok Gallery website reads, “Liberty addresses issues of economic, civil liberties, American self-image, and artistic practice.”

Mark Wagner Collage ArtistArtistic practice might be an understatement. The creativity that went into conceptualizing this piece of art is trumped only by the fascination with the medium Wagner used to breathe life into this design. The grandiose presentation is only one of Wagner’s many works of art. He has been using money as his medium for more than a decade.

In addition to his career as a professional collage artist, Wagner is also into writing and bookmaking. He publishes books using the names Bird Brain Press and X-ing Books. He also co-founded The Booklyn Artists Alliance.

Would you like to experience more of Mark Wagner’s work and his aptitude for making collages? Visit his website: http://markwagnerinc.com/.

 

Read more Segmation blog posts about out of the box art:

Lady Liberty (www.segmation.com)

Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?

Gilbert Stuart – American Portrait Painter

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Make Labor Day Special, Celebrate with Art

The United States was a nation built from the ground up. It began taking shape in the latter half of the 18th century. This is when people started pursuing missions that would create a great society. As a result, 12 hour work days became the backbone of American spirit.

This dedication and determination gained recognition in the late 19th century. Citizens of the United States started celebrating Labor Day in 1882. The idea was adopted from Canada. The North American neighbor began celebrating Labour Day a decade prior.

Until present day, the United States has been consistent in honoring social and economic achievements on the first Monday in September. Most businesses are closed on this day and hardworking American citizens are offered a long weekend. During this time, barbecues and festive parties are the norm. In fact, the United States celebrates Labor Day with the same spirit that fills Fourth of July.

This blog offers five artistic tips that celebrate the “155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce.”

TIP 1- Recycle Old Crafts

Celebrate hard work with fun décor. Labor Day is the perfect opportunity to use red, white, and blue decorations. Dig up the patriotic crafts created for the Fourth of July.

TIP 2- Festive Party Invitations

For those planning Labor Day parties, invite family and friends with unique invitation designs. This is a great resource for anyone wanting inspiration for festive ideas: http://www.examiner.com/article/celebrating-labor-day-with-martha-stewart

TIP 3- Fun for the Kids

Teach children why the nation celebrates Labor Day. This can be done with a fun craft. One suggestion is to use old magazines and have kids cut out pictures of people working. Make a collage of the images. Click on this link for more artistic and educational craft ideas: http://familycrafts.about.com/od/holidays/p/LaborDay.htm

TIP 4- Printable Projects

Teachers and parents who want to convey the important of Labor Day can explore creative ideas here: http://homeschooling.about.com/od/holidays/ss/labordayprint_8.htm. There are many crafts and games that can be downloaded and printed out. This webpage has everything from themed puzzles to festive knickknacks (door hangings and bookmarks too!). In addition, there are quizzes for older kids and adults.

TIP 5- The Perfect Centerpiece

When thinking about this year’s Labor Day party, think about a theme that can celebrate the holiday and excite those who plan to attend. Is it possible to have a party focus on a family member’s career achievements? Find ideas that can mix up traditional themes: http://labor-day-weekend.com/parties/centerpieces.htm

Enjoy celebrating the nation’s achievements and hard work by keeping art at the heart of this holiday. There are plenty of DIY crafts that can make Labor Day special. Be sure to relax and spend time doing something fun.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Celebrating Holidays with Art:

Green Represents Saint Patrick’s Day

Hanukkah, Christmas, Happy New Year’s – Season’s Greetings as Beautiful Art Paintings

The Meaning of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Art

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Foreign Landscapes Inspire Creativity

What comes to mind when thinking of foreign landscapes? Are these far off countries? Or different planets? Do they only exist in fantasy fiction? Or are they birthed from Hollywood magic?

Wherever these landscapes originate, one fact is constant: foreign landscapes inspire creativity. At the heart of art is a cry of curiosity — a desire to explore what lies beyond the world as we understand it. This is why natural disasters, everyday home supplies, and destructible objects are bringing about some of the most creative art pieces to date.

Natural Disasters

Foriegn Landscapes Inspire ArtForces of nature often leave tragic sites in their trails but even in the most horrendous of circumstances, art can be found. Take for instance the landscape created from the Superstorm Sandy that hit New York in 2012.

In a parking lot in Queens, NY, 18 piles of sand reaching 30 feet tall were collected. After days of wind and rain, the sand dunes looked like ancient pyramids. Photographs of this site portray the art nature left behind.

Everyday Home Supplies

Repurposing home supplies to create art is increasing in popularity. With social media sites allowing people to share DIY projects, home improvement stores are no longer for fix-it materials only. Artists strive to incorporate three-dimensional shapes to liven up colors and concepts.

At the core of their purpose is a landscape worth replicating. It serves as a “touchstone” for the artist and inspires a piece of art that tells its story.

Destructible Objects

Foriegn Landscapes Inspire Art 1Artistic landscapes broaden the imagination and evoke emotions in all who get to experience them. At the annual Burning Man festival, a landscape of art installations is built. Every Labor Day weekend in a Nevada desert (USA), a “pop-up town” is created by festival attendees. This community contributes art that represents a blending of the divine and the idealistic. The entire festival is devoted to encouraging people to see life beyond their perspective.

Art at the heart is about making the objective world a little easier to understand. Landscapes inspire ideas that are as visually stimulating and tangible as the landscape itself. It answers the curiosity of artists and evokes curiosity in observers.

Read more Segmation blog posts about Art at the Heart:

Lovers of Literature Get Lost in 250,000-Book Maze

Colors Change What is Beautiful

Art Therapy Treats more than the Heart

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The World’s Favorite Color

The World’s Favorite Color 1People love to travel both near and far. They enjoy taking in new scenes, exploring diverse cultures, eating eccentric food, and more. Visiting different places throughout the world adds richness to life and makes one fact clear: it is impossible to escape color.  Then again, who would want to?

Every country has unique colors that travelers seek and citizens delight in. Plush green hills line Germany. Vibrant reds decorate China. Blue waters surround Greece. White sands dust the United States.

With an endless array of varying shades, it is hard to list the world’s color preferences. Still, every person has an answer to the question, “What is your favorite color.” Therefore, is it too much to ask, “What is the world’s favorite color?”

The Question

Three global marketing firms didn’t think so. Once posed with this question, they set out to find an answer. Cheskin, MSI-ITM, and CMCD/Visual Symbols Library conducted a survey that determined BLUE is the world’s favorite color.

The Answer

In the global study, 17 different countries were polled. Roughly 40 percent of the survey participants listed blue as their favorite color. Perhaps this has to do with the impact blue has on emotions; blues are often associated with tranquility. Varying shades of the color cause people to feel at peace. Blue is also the color most often associated with nature (blue sky, blue water). Could this be a factor why people everywhere share the same favorite color?

Other Findings

  • Purple came in a distant second as the world’s favorite color with only 14 percent popularity.
  • The world’s least favorite color is white.
  • Other non-related studies show people are more productive when they are surrounded by blue.

Is your favorite color blue? Why? If not, what is your favorite color?

Why do you think blue is favored among the rest of the colors throughout the world and in many cultures?

Also, Segmation is interested to know, what is the most colorful destination you’ve experienced? Share your story by leaving us a comment below or sign onto the Segmation facebook page to upload a picture.

Isn’t it a joy to live in this colorful world?

Read more Segmation blog posts about Favorite Colors Around the World:

The Most Colorful Cities In The World

The Stories Behind Holiday Colors

Blue Trees in Seattle

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