Don’t you just love urban art? There is just something so alluring about vivid artwork being showcased in gritty urban environments. Whether it’s an old decaying building or a lonely wall with years of elemental decay, it’s amazing to see street artists make their claim and creating mind-blowing dope murals.
Glasgow-based street artist, Smug, recently unveiled his dope new mural in the Portuguese city of Porto. The mural, in collaboration with Mr. Dheo and Sofles, is an excellent execution of color, complex subject matters, and the perfect usage of space.
All I can say is wow, what a dope mural. Check it out below, as well as a few of his previous murals. As you can tell, Smug is really good at capturing unique faces. He doesn’t just draw a blank face, he captures a full expression…typically a smug!
Previous Murals That Are Insanely Dope
This week so far has been a quiet accumulation of artistic inspiration. In between working out and juggling all my school work, I’ve taken the time to begin working on some new art projects. Anyone who somewhat knows me and my lifestyle, knows that I’m prone to late nights. The latest I’ve gone to bed this week was around 5 am. I went to bed that late on Monday morning because one of my friends called me at 4am and decided to chat.
I don’t get mad when people call me after midnight, because most likely I’m up writing, listening to house, or working on some artwork. I’ll talk time out to chat it up with friends I haven’t talked to in awhile and since they are artistic, they are inclined to late nights as well. My whole family is filled with a bunch of night owls, except for my dad. He’s the one who actually has a corporate 9 to 5 and loves to wake up early. I’ve got a little less than a year before I graduate and hop into the corporate world, so I’m going to have as many late nights as I can until my college days end.
Last night this morning I finally went to bed around 3am. I was up jamming to some house music and getting acrylic paint all over my fingers. A few days ago I had painted over a self portrait I started and was left with a canvas screaming for attention. For those of you who read my blog regular, you know that art and writing rule my life. I couldn’t be a writer if I wasn’t an artist and I wouldn’t be an artist if I wasn’t a writer. Both of them are essential in my life.I plan on writing full time once I graduate and then saving up money and getting funding to start a community art gallery/center. I want to make sure I keep the arts a live in my life and was well in the hearts of the next generation.
The creative process is something that is fascinating to experience and it’s a form of therapy. Aside from occasionally going downstairs and asking my mom for advice at 3am (she’s always up working on a book, her website, or art), I’m up in my room with my headphones on and paint brush in hand. I like to get into my own world and not be bothered when I’m working on a painting or a drawing. Last month I stayed up till 6am working on this Marilyn Monroe drawing. It had been over a year since I had done a full blown potrait of someone. By “full blown”, I mean a portrait in which I completely shade all the details. I sometimes leave a drawing flat and don’t go back to shade in every essential detail, but Monroe required a lot of detail.
It’s fun drawing, but I get a great sense of joy from painting. I’ve always been a huge fan of Roy Lichtenstein and the pop art movement of the 60s. Even though a lot of the pop art was done by screen-printing process (Andy Warhol,) I still appreciate that style of art. The simplicity of design is effective due to the bright colors and techniques. I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Liechtenstein’s original pieces at the National Smithsonian Museum of Art; a breathtaking experience!
My style of art is often described as contemporary pop art, but I want to work on perfecting my own spin on Lichtenstein. So last night I grabbed that piece of canvas, some paints, popped on my headphones, turned up the house music, and got lost for a few hours in the world of art and house. I started out listening to Deeper Shades of House podcast and then ended the night listening to classical opera. I had to go back and outline everything in black, so concentration was a necessity at 2am in the morning. I found serenity in the classical music channel and the opera vocals dancing in my ear.
Being a night owl payed off. I finished my painting and was pleased with the contrast of vibrant colors. The picture has this sassy attitude and in the word bubble I wrote “I like you…but, I like myself better.” That’s a statement I use quite a bit, especially when I like a guy and don’t want to spend my time on trying to be with him. It took me a few mock trial and errors before I committed to a phrase for this piece, but I think it turned out well.
I’m finding my style as an artist and after 16 years of creating artwork on a professional level, I found my niche. I’m a contemporary pop artist, writer, and house junkie. I’ve learned that house inspires me to create and keeps the paint brush flowing, but the sounds of classical (jazz as well) calm me down and help me finish a painting. I plan on painting later on today, so hopefully I will come up with some more catchy sayings. It’s going to be another late night. That’s the life of an artist: late nights, house music, and pop art.
I’m not a connoisseur of words, yet I know how to use them to my advantage. Utilizing proper grammatical equations, I treat the keyboard as though it were a canvas and my fingers are individual paint brushes conducting every stroke. There are many analogies to describe the emotions that writers experience, yet I prefer to rely on an analogy that is second nature to me. Art. A three letter word, an eccentric philosophy student whose legal name is Art, a painting, a song, a film, and the application of human creativity and imagination.
I’m known as a writer, a student, a young black female, a girl gamer, a tall woman, a former musician (ah the days of playing the flute in band), and a bold spirit. Yet many people are always blown away by my artistic passion. My blog has become a creative corner in which I’ve expressed my view points on life through the conventions of language and media, which in it self is a language of it’s own, but my artistic side has remained a photo album on Facebook. After juggling through random videos on my wall and my different style choices within every photo I take, people usually run across my “Art is Lyfe” album on Facebook and are shocked.
It’s no secret that those with avant-garde approaches to life tend to have an array of interests. A true visionary doesn’t limit themselves to one aesthetic, yet opting to combine different elements in order to let the madness in their mind escape. My imagination, in it’s purest form, is a terrain resembling Little Big Planet. Similar to the game, my imagination combines childhood ambitions with adult realities and futuristic concepts. I’m constantly thinking about about formulating a new spin on basic topics and creating paintings that express the song in my head or the words I want to evoke in the minds of the viewer.
By no means am I a professional artist or the next Edward Hopper( in my dreams I paint that well), but I have earned the title of an artist and writer. Growing up with a mother, professional African-American fine artist Janie McGee, I was exposed to the picturesque world of visual art. I loved studying her intricate brush strokes and her combination of colors that exemplified radiant brown skin. I never had a mother who fed my promises in order to satisfy my childhood attention span. Instead of scattering toys in front of me (even though I had some great toys, including a huge Barbie collection) my mom would hand me a cup, a few paint brushes, paper, and set up a little station for me to sit next to her while she crafted a masterpiece.
We would spend hours watching classic movies on TCM, laughing, and working on our paintings. I always looked forward to those summers when school was out and my mom would give me creative art projects to complete. Ever since the age of four, which is when my mom began teaching me how to draw and paint, I had knew that art was going to be a permanent part of my life. I had sold my first painting around that same age to her mentor and friend Thomas Blacksheare, who is another successful African-American artist. I grew up going to art shows and arts/entertainment events that my parent’s would host at whatever studio space my mom was renting or at our house. I grew up surrounded by the arts and I grew up understanding that the most important things I had been blessed with in life would always be family, a loving God, house music, and my imagination.
My imagination became my support system in the happiest and darkest moments in my life. When I was homeless in 2004 and living in an old barn house on a campground in St. Mary’s county Maryland, I relied on my sketch pad from Michaels,a few pencils, and a small diary to get through that time. I had been promoting and showcasing my art in shows with my mom since a very young age, but selling paintings and always having my work on display was facing competition with a desire to write. After publishing my first article in a national teen magazine earlier that year, I had began to understand my voice was worthy of being heard.
Writing and art fed both parts of my soul, but I began to focus on writing as a career. Since elementary school, I’ve always been in art classes and theatre classes every year in school. Theatre became a passion of mine because it touched another part of my soul, that desire to be heard and seen while evoking an emotional response in an engaged audience. Creating characters has always been something I was fond of, especially when I faced rejection at school from the “popular” crowd. Even now, I still find myself holding onto these passions that got me through the good and the bad days, those days when you wished the sun really did have a smile.
The arts have always been a voice in my life and I continue to satisfy my artistic cravings. When my imagination is speaking to me in the form of a painting or drawing, then I go gather my materials, put on some house music, and I create. When I have essays swirling around my brain, I grab my laptop, put on some jazz or house, and I write. The process typically involves some musical stimulation, but I also enjoy the moments of creation in pure silence. Silence allows my imagination and my hands to have a conversation that isn’t influenced by other human innovation.
When it comes to describing who I am as a writer and a visual artist, the only thing that comes to mind is “Pure Imagination.” As a child Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory was one of my favorite movies due to the creative elements. The original scene from the movie with Gene Wilder and his sassy attitude left an imprint on my mind. The concept of a room filled with so many chocolate delights, colorful creations, and the pleasure of freedom being fulfilled, topped with a beautiful song, created a majestic idea. The original movie with Gene Wilder is superior to the Johnny Depp remake and the song is one that pays homage to imagination.
The song “Pure Imagination”, originally written by Lou Rawls, also has a modern upbeat version by the Stylophonics. Over the weekend I went through my Ipod and began playing the song over and over again in my head. I hadn’t listened to it in a few months, but it served it’s purpose in refreshing my imagination. My mom always told me that the most beautiful thing about my personality was my imagination. Ever since I was young I never understood the concept of the word no and would embark on a new journey every day to satisfy a creative itch. Nothing seemed impossible at that age. But as an adult it’s harder to commit to pure imagination and separate ourselves from the daily stress and harsh reality of society.
But imagination shouldn’t be a task as daunting as filing your taxes. As the song says, “If you want to be in paradise, simply look around and view it/ Anything you want to do it/Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it.” Those may seem like simple phrases but they hold complex meanings that can free your mind. Being creative is about releasing your inhibitions and taking a chance on your mind. It’s not a calculated process that requires approval from society, but it’s more so a spiritual awakening that begins with the childhood lessons we learn concerning getting acquainted with our imagination.
Remember those days when you drew doodles and stick figures with dinosaurs crawling out of their heads? That’s what imagination is all about, yet creativity amongst adults tends to get lost in the politics of the arts. Don’t worry whether your going to be the next best selling author or the next world class artist. Imagination isn’t based upon merits and social acceptance. Imagination thrives off the experiences of the world and the experiences yet to be discovered. If you want to be in paradise, then simply look around and view it. Pure imagination is right in front of you, it’s just waiting for you to open your eyes and create a world of your own creation. So what are you waiting for?