Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Never Win Prizes

I think the last time probably was in 1983 at the 'Small Works' show at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. And I never even saw that show. It was too far away to go to. I MAY have won some other art prizes but none spring to mind. It's just something I don't hope for or solicit. I get into shows and exhibits, but I've learned not to expect awards.

So I was a bit surprised when I got a 'Beautiful Blogger' award from Debbie Drechsler at Just Around the Corner, a blog that I've only discovered recently. I enjoy Debbie's pursuit of portraying what she sees in nature artistically. She has quite a variety of styles and is bravely sketching from life, something that can intimidate many.

I'm not really sure where 'Beautiful Blogger' came from. I know that I've seen other blogs that I read win it or similar awards. I've just never paid much attention to them. One reason I suppose is that I'm not in a hurry to write some random things about myself, one of the 'requirements' of getting the award, though I think it's a requirement that can't really be enforced.

I now know another reason. You're supposed to then give the award to other bloggers. Some awards seem to require that you give it to 10 recipients. This is just plain silly, unless you spend all of your time blogging and reading blogs. I probably don't read more than 20 blogs all together, at least art or nature-related ones. And many of them are already extremely popular. They don't need, and probably don't want, another such award. When I checked back to see who had given Debbie her award I found that a number of the people I thought of giving it to had also just been given it. Fortunately this award requires that I only give it to four others.

But there's still another problem. What if some of the bloggers have authors even more reticent than I? What if they don't even want such awards?

Well I will have to just take my chances and hope that they're happy to have the award. They certainly deserve recogniton. I'm going to start with one of my favorite blogs: The Best Artists. 100Swallows, the author, tells stories about famous works of art, generally European art, as far as I recall. He helps bring famous art to life, particularly in terms of the narratives behind the work. Though 100Swallows talks about more formal matters he seems to concentrate on the history of the work and the stories about the artists or the subject, It is history as STORY, and it always shows a true love of art. You can't help but get excited about the art when you read each post.

In a completely different light is Ellen Synder at The Spicebush Log. I first read her blog when it popped up as a new blog on The Nature Blog Network. Since I and my wife both love the spicebush that grow in our local forests, as well as in your small urban sideyard, I couldn't resist reading it. What I found was a thoughtful, witty exploration of Ellen's adventures in nature. Sometimes she also talks about her dogs, the local farm, or other subjects. But daily experience of nature seems to be the predominant theme. Ellen's a very thoughtful person and I greatly value reading her postings. I think that you will too.

Combining some of each of the first two awardees is Gabrielle at The Inner Artist. I first ran into Gabrielle when she commented on my blog and mentioned that she had lived around Philadelphia for many years. I'm still planning to take her advice on visiting the nearby Norristown Zoo for artistic subject matter. In fact I was tempted to give it a try the other day. Gabrielle's blog has been relatively quiet recently due to the travails of finding a new apartment. I'm actually not sure what city she lives in but it is in the Northwestern US. As she says on her blog:
Sorry Mama...I know you told me if I became an artist I'd sell my soul, but I can't refuse the siren call of the paints (or the pencil, ink or charcoal either, for that matter). I am a graphic designer by day, an artist by night and a nature nerd at all times.

I think this describes Gabrielle's blog well. I particularly like her blogs about art but also enjoy the ones that are strictly about nature. My guess is that the blog will pick up in activity soon, hopefully with some drawings of her resident chickens.

These first three choices were easy. I've enjoyed them all, though as I said I'm not sure they'll be thrilled with getting the award. But who should I choose for the fourth? Some candidates have already won it recently. Some are too popular already. Should I give it to a little known, little read blog in Illinois that I enjoy? Or should it be to the blog of an artist who already has his hands quite full already I'm sure? I'm finally choosing extraordinary wildlife artist Tim Wootton just because his art is so good and ought to be seen by more people.

Forgive me fellow bloggers, and artists, for putting you in the limelight. I hope you'll enjoy the unexected award.

So now for those 10 random facts:
1)I suppose this actually isn't all that random. I do remember the last time I won a prize. It was at the Philadelphia Inquirer where food critic Craig Laban had a contest for best tasting sourdough bread. It included a bread flown in from a famous bakery in France as well as bread from some of Philadelphia's best artisan bakeries, and my second ever homemade loaf, based on a recipe from Nancy Silverton. I won second place in the blind taste-testing, beaten only by the bread from France. Credit Nancy Silverton, not me.
2)My first job was handing out rodeo programs.
3)My wife and I both worked in separate battery factories in Illinois in our early years, long before we first met in Philadelphia.
4)In high school I took an aptitude test that showed I should be an artist or work with computers. I didn't even know what a computer was. But many years later I made my living as a computer programmer. longing all the while to return to my true love, art.
5)I once bought some Charles Ives LPs and thought I must be playing them at the wrong speed they seemed so wrong. Later I learned to love them, just as with Charles Mingus. I learned from this that our tastes are ever changing.
6)Though I'm tall and have large hands I used to tie my own flies for flyfishing. I thought this would be impossible. How in the world could my large hands fool around with sewing materials, especially at such a small scale? Catching my first trout on my own fly was thrilling.
7)It was flyfishing that led me to birding. I was getting skunked at Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania about 20 years ago and so got distracted by some flocking birds. I looked them up when I got home and found that they were Cedar Waxwings. Eventually all the time that I spent fishing became time spent birding.
8)I enjoy identifying birds by ear as much as I do by sight.
9)I once lived on the ocean on Great Highway in San Francisco, with the Pacific Ocean right across the street. But I never enjoyed it much. The area was too foggy and the water was too cold. This was a great surprise to me.
10)I studied tap dancing as a child. This wasn't my idea. Neither were the accordion lessons.


Anonymous said...

I just posted this comment at Best Artists. It really belongs here. Let me add that I just got a kick out of reading your ten little stories. Now I will look up your other nominees for the award. Kind regards from 100swallows.

Ken, I have to decline your invitation to take part in this meme (is that what this is called?) but at the same time I want to say how much I appreciate your naming my blog and the kind things you say about it.

I have turned down several of these “awards” and it has always been hard because they came from people whose blogs I liked and because by saying no I might have seemed snobbish or cranky. And to you I am particularly grateful for your frequent thoughts and fine comments on my blog, as well as the entertaining and original writing, drawing, and painting, and photography of your own, which I read regularly and always enjoy. I wish there were more bloggers like you—I wish there were more humans. Be sure that if I wanted to start a meme of my own I would choose your blog right off for an award, a trophy, a laurel wreath, and the jackpot-winning number. But if I were God I'd give you a glorious day birding and sketching.

Ken Januski said...

Hi 100swallows,

Thanks and thanks especially for including your comment here. I think it's good for people to understand why some people might not want to partake in these awards/memes/whatever. This will help to enlighten them.

I've always ignored them but wasn't quite sure what to do when one landed at my door, especially as it was meant as a compliment by Debbie. I wouldn't be surprised if a number of my nominees turned it down, perhaps all of them. But maybe that's why I like their blogs: they're individual. And being more individual, maybe even idiosyncratic, they're less likely to partake in these group activities.

I think that's really my natural inclination, not to partake. So I very well understand why you, and others, might decline the invitation. Still it seemed silly not to nominate people who really deserved it!

I don't think you're snobbish or cranky but would appreciate the winning lottery number sent to my private email post haste!! Whilst I wait I'll enjoy the beautiful day and maybe get some of that birding and sketching in.

Gabrielle said...

Thank you Ken for tipping your hat to my blog and at the same time, I also took it as a HUGE compliment that you thought I might turn it down! The conversation between 100swallows and yourself said it all so eloquently. Thank you so much, and no thanks. Hee-hee.

P.S. Chicken sketches coming soon!

Ellen Snyder said...

Well, I am honored that you selected Spicebush Log as one of four, and out of the many, many blogs that you must read. Thank you. You remain my inspiration to learn drawing, which I have yet to do, but which will happen some day.

You quite often draw many of my favorite birds. Maybe that extends to your intuition for those you selected to call out on this occasion. For I too will respectfully decline to forward on the award. I could name some other worthy blogs for such recognition, but saying 10 things about myself, not that gets hard!

Congratulations on your well-deserved "Beautiful Blogger Award"

Ken Januski said...

Thanks Ellen,

Well my instincts were correct. None of my nominees accepted the award. But that is fine. My guess was that most everyone would decline, though this was just a guess based on what I know of the bloggers strictly based on their writing.

Perhaps I should have declined it myself, only because of the potential burden in puts on recipients. But I thought there are a number of blogs that I really like so why not nominate them. No use having an award if you can't use it to nominate those you think are really deserving.

Now back to my artwork!!