What makes art beautiful and who decides what fine art is and what makes fine paperweights? I’ve had seemingly endless debates on this subject throughout the course of my life. Too often, artists and non-artists look at a painting and say, “My three-year-old could paint that.” Then there are also those three-year-olds who have been dubbed creative geniuses who finger paint in the style of Picasso and the magnitude of Michelangelo. Art is most certainly subjective, but to whom?

As artists, we depict what we feel or have become familiar with through the subject of our art. It often isn’t exactly what we see; rather, it is what we feel. When we paint, sketch, or sculpt, we are giving meaning to something we want others to perceive. It is our journey and our vision. However, each of our experiences differs from others; therefore we react to an artist’s depiction by bringing our own interpretation to the table. It’s great to understand why the artist created their particular piece and what motivated the direction of their work, but it is equally important to understand why it impacts us the way it does.

Art is an idea to build on. It lives on long after the artist has passed and can be the subject of countless debates, theories, theses and coffee-table discussions. Sometimes the artist’s original interpretation will never be known, but the work will be left to the beholder. It’s times like these that we should relish, because now the art is in fact left for us: the individuals. We have the honor of then truly experiencing a work that has no pre-attached defining quality. Instead of being told what to feel and what to see - we can experience what we feel and what we see for ourselves.

And above all, it is important not to criticize a work of art, but to experience it, to learn from it and enjoy or hate it all the same. Sure, you don’t like that painting or sculpture. It can be horrendous or insulting and offensive yet somehow sublime. This doesn’t necessarily make it ‘bad’ art. Perhaps the artist was in fact, trying to create that shocking or offensive reaction. The truth is, it’s truly hard to say what’s good and bad in the art world. Oh, here it comes - the flurry of emails discussing color, technique, the elements and principles of design and how I’m wrong. But that’s okay! As an artist I always welcome critiques and disparate opinions. I understand that we’re all different, but we’re still connected (even if it is by our opposing views).

Be kind, understand yourself and absorb what you feel, see and touch when experiencing art. Don’t be too quick to judge or label a work as ‘bad’, but take a moment to at least be ‘aware’ of the work before you. The message behind that particular piece might just be the reaction you take with you. Remember that artists are sharing a part of their soul so tread softly at first, before trampling. What you hate may in fact be loved by others.

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Over the last four weeks I’ve creatively colored the elements in various hues and shades to illustrate our oneness to nature and each other. Today I will keep things simple and sum it all up with a reminder that we are all connected.

 

As artists, we have the power to create an amazing world filled with beautiful imagery and fantastic design. We build communities, nations, parks, museums and social structures. Lives are enriched with entertainment, design and imaginative works by the creative individuals who share their art. We sculpt, paint, photograph, sing and devise. Our work often comes directly from nature - and for that reason, we should always be mindful of our place in the grand scheme of things.

 

Using eco-friendly products and recycled materials when creating art is just the beginning. There are many other things to consider as we move forward through time. This can include anything from changing your energy habits to simply taking extra care when out in nature. Without going into great detail, here are a few things to remember. (Don’t forget to share what you do to keep the planet beautiful and safe while creating your art!)

 

There’s nothing more fabulous than trekking out into nature (especially here in Sedona) and setting up an easel or tripod to capture the beautiful landscape. If you are a plein air painter, you can choose to use eco-friendly paints and solvents while enjoying your painting expedition. Just remember to be mindful of the place you choose as your natural studio and tread carefully along your path. Consider the beauty you are about to capture and leave it as unscathed as you can. The more artists that find their way into the wild, the more conscious we should be of our own footprints we leave behind. Keep the world you capture beautiful and encourage others to do the same.

 

Acknowledge your connection to the natural world. Consider that we are connected to every living organism on the planet. Understand your impact on the world around us and remember to make decisions accordingly. Conserve as much as you can, because the days of consumption are over. Our children need our thoughts, deeds and actions to match a sustainable future - where they can live on (with our art), ideas and passions. We are the leaders and actors of change. With this comes great responsibility to the world and the people around us. Your compassion for the planet will shine through in all you create and do.

 

Be the example for others to follow - and they will.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.


About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

"We are the elements. We are all made of stardust - and within us flows all the elements of nature. We are all connected." We all come from and will return to the stable and constant Earth. Join with me for a moment in the grounded reality of this final element of art in my series. Sit firmly, dig your heals in and weigh in on this unyielding element in art.

 

Earth

 

When we think of Earth our minds conjure up images of terrestrial plains, underworlds, mountains, long stretches of sand, rocks, crops, and red dirt (for us local Sedonians). We imagine being grounded and firm, steadfast and immovable. But in a flash we can also envision mud slides, earthquakes, molten lava and shifting sands. This fantastic element can be cool, hard, soft, hot, solid, abrasive, and can even represent life and death. The Earth is a powerful element, strong and true - eternal; lasting; heavy.

 

It's quite easy to find a physical use for earth in art. We could effortlessly imagine mixing clays, soils and concrete. We could feel the cool mixture in our hands as we mix pigments or press our fingers into mud. We could look to great and monumental works of art such as those found in Egypt, or at Mount Rushmore, and Easter Island. We could imagine the melting of sand to create glass, the crafting of pots from clay and the fantastic sand art we’ve created as children (and adults!). The Earth can take many forms by itself and also with the help of the other physical elements.

 

How do you use Earth in your art? Do you sculpt and mold or carve and chisel? Do you melt and pour or dip and mix? Do you spread thick with a knife or hammer gold leaf? Anything you do with your art has the element of Earth within it. Each brush, canvas and tool was created or forged from the matter we know as our home. The four elements we find in our art can be symbolic, literal and combined to produce a sense of connected wonder. We can mix and blend the elements to share the smallest parts of our souls in everything we create.

 

The Earth can also represent death; the end; the symbolic afterlife. Humanity’s greatest fear and most glorious hopes lie in what might follow the absolute end, our final breath. Ashes to ashes they say, but transcendence is what we long for. But for now, imagine hard clay under your feet and know that one day you will rejoin this powerful element and become one with all that was and is today.

 

We are all made of stardust and within us flows the elements of nature. Our art, our breath, our lives are all connected by them. We are united by Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and the art and dreams we share with each other. Think beyond the physical elements when sharing your art and song with the world. Connect with each element and the people of the world.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.


About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Turn to the East and whisper your creative visions into the wind. Take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Pay attention to your breathing as you continue to read this blog. Gaze through the clear space between you and the screen. Let us, for a moment, escape from the world by becoming more aware of it. Let’s consider for a short time - the air around us.

 

Air

 

Air does us good. We breathe it, feel it on our faces and look through it daily. Air is filled with nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, water vapor and other gases. Our atmosphere is complete with pressure and thickness; it scatters photons, absorbs radiation, refracts, circulates and is essential for survival. Who doesn’t love air? It’s often associated with communication, information, circulation, the color yellow and all that we cannot see: our souls, our spirits, our minds and hearts; making air an important part of our art.

 

For those of you who live in Sedona, like me, the art we are surrounded by often has greater meaning than simply beautiful creative works. Almost everywhere you turn you will find art in one form or another; most of which is created with “spirit” in mind. The majestic red rocks and the stunning oasis we call home habitually will invoke a sense of connectedness and spiritualism even in those who hold no traditional beliefs. This sense of oneness and spirit that we find here is breathed into the local art. As artists, our work generally is a product of our soul and inner spirit, which is an emulation of the elemental qualities of air we so frequently come to see in Sedona.

 

I’ve written in the past two weeks of fire and water. We can easily conjure up images in our minds on ways those two elements physically can be used in art. We see watercolor paints and melting bronze for instance - but what do you picture when you combine air with art? Spray paint? Images of airbrush artists on boardwalks two decades ago? Windmills, wind-chimes and wind-sculptures?  (We see many of these in Sedona!) Of course, there are dozens of variations we can put together when trying to exude the physical element of air, but what of the deeper, more imaginative meaning? How do you share your art as air?

 

Sit softly in the open air. Close your eyes and feel the breeze on your skin. Absorb the sounds that travel on the invisible space before you. Feel in your heart the song of your soul and then imagine what that looks like on canvas or sculpted in clay. Photograph the wind; paint the sky both brilliant blue and black as space. Let your spirit flow into your art and let this be your way of communicating with the world, the elements that you are connected to. We are made of all the elements - embrace them, recognize them and share them with each other.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.


About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

Water flows through us and is essential for life; it’s 65% of what we are made of and covers 71% of the planet.  We are the elements and are connected to them, to each other and to the planet. Our emotions flow with the magnetic flexibility of the element of water. Let’s continue our brief exploration of the elements this week and see where water takes us.

 

Water

Liquid water is essential for life. Nova science tells us that “...because a liquid is always in flux, it effectively conveys vital substances like metabolites and nutrients from one place to another, whether it's around a cell, an organism, an ecosystem, or a planet.” Water affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually. Our survival depends on it. So our question here is, “How do we see water in art?”

 

When you add the two: water + art = our mind conjures images of watercolor paints diluting colors, paint brushes dripping and abstract pieces of art that appear to be melting before our very eyes. We often simply associate the physical element directly with a canvas or piece of paper, drenched in liquid water. There are hundreds of variables here, which are all very ‘technical’ in nature.

 

Sure you can also envision water fountains, the photography of Martin Waugh’s liquid sculptures or the early Renaissance paintings of Albrecht Dürer, but what about the deeper meaning, beyond the physical? Water is almost always associated with sentiment, which I believe places most art in this category. Artists express themselves through their experiences, emotions and hearts. With this ‘flow’ they often reveal their deepest most inner workings. Is your art a flood of emotions or calculated symbols and technical equations or both?

 

Water as a symbol is commonly associated with emotion, purity, fertility, life, birth, cleansing and wisdom. Imagine an overflow of emotion onto canvas. Imagine pouring your soul into a freshly made cast of bronze. Feel the power of the tides within your creative works and express your truest feelings within your art. Water can bring out the saddest and most painful memories and alternately help us burst through invisible walls to share extreme joy. I’ve created dozens of works after floating for hours under a dark starlit sky or whilst sitting in a candlelit tub.

Take time to embrace the qualities of the element of water and see where it takes you and your art.

 

Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.


About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.

We are all made of stardust - and within us flows all the elements of nature. We often unwittingly strive as a species to separate ourselves from the various forms of life on the Earth, but we can never run far from that which is a part of our very being. We are coupled with every organism, molecule, and atom and spinning proton in existence. We are all connected and ignite the fire of life with our passion, inspiration, love and art.

Over the next few weeks I would like to share with you a glimpse into the art of the elements. I hope to inspire you and also me - so we can connect, embrace and immerse ourselves into the world around us - in our thoughts, our passions and our creations.

Fire

The greatest fire we know is the sun: the first symbol of human awareness of days, offering comfort and nurture from the cold and dark nights. It illuminates the way and gives life to all flora and fauna on this beautiful planet. However, the sun can also scorch the desert and bleach away colors and it can dry and burn and crack our world. There is a harsh duality that offers up life as well as the ultimate destruction. The sun, our star - is also a great part of a world of astrological and spiritual symbolism.
I learned at a young age that I am a 'fire' sign. Because of this, I am said to be instantly endowed with passion, strength, strong will, an adventurous spirit and the ability to lead (among other things) according to most astrological definitions. Fire is one of the richest symbols, offering up life, nurture, expansion, electricity and so much more. Perhaps due to my intimate relationship with fire, I often use it's symbolism in my art in one form or another. Sometimes it appears subtly through a photograph, disguised as sensuality among haunting images. Other times it appears more clearly in deep reds and blacks that release angst and anger in an abstract onslaught to represent deep emotion on a well battered canvas. At times it's used to burn and melt and singe my work. And all too often it offers itself as a way to literally see the graphite which carefully carves stroke after stroke onto a pale plain surface.

There are many ways fire has been used throughout history as an art form. Many cultures have used fire and dance for sacred rights, festivals, art and more. Hoop dancers spin their fire at drum circles and celebrations. And there is no better place to find electric, kinetic fire as art than in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada during Burning Man. Using flame in art is nothing new, but what are some other ways fire can be used in art?

We know of many ways fire helps us create our art. From the firing of kilns; to trash cans ignited for the purpose of creating that fantastic finish; to forging molten materials that will be sculpted, blown, poured or pounded into their perfect ends... fire is a very welcome element to many artists and their work. But many artists find the inspiration of fire symbolism to be the primary focus of their art and so do I.

Fire as a symbol is commonly associated with passion, lust, emotion, anger, hate, destruction, transformation, life-giving, nurturing and even rebirth. For example, you can envision the Phoenix as it rises from the ashes to start a new day and then you can take this inspiration and build upon it. Embrace the element and let the fire metaphorically shine through you and onto your canvas and into your song. Let it shape your clay or dance and let it melt your metals. You don’t have to use reds and yellows and orange in your paintings to represent fire. You can just feel the fervor and inspiration that the element itself offers through you. What aspect of fire do you find in your work? How do you embrace this element in your art, music or daily life?
The next chance you have, literally feel the warm sun on your face. Take a moment to fall into the element of fire. Absorb the aspects of fire’s symbolism and let it flow through your body. Then let your passions flow and inspire you to create a work of art that represents fire. I guarantee it will be nothing like you expected. Fire is an unpredictable and fast moving element, so take advantage of it and bring a new level of zeal to your art.
Remember: grow; learn; conserve; preserve; create; question; educate; change; and free your mind.

About: Kelli Klymenko is an artist, a faculty member and the Marketing & Events Coordinator at Sedona Arts Center: a gathering place where artists can learn, teach, and exhibit their works at the center’s School of the Arts and Fine Art Gallery in uptown Sedona.