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Spartanburg artist inspired to create S.C. Coastal Lithography Project

We've been following Artists' Ventures Initiative grantee Jim Creal as he launches an ambitious project to capture the beauty of South Carolina's coastal habitats. Here's an update from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal: (Image: Pritchards Island: Forest Section, from Creal's barrier island series.)
Jim Creal has been doing lithography for only about 20 years, but he's been in love with the South Carolina coastline pretty much his entire life.
Now, the Spartanburg native is combining those passions into a unique visual art series that he's calling the South Carolina Coastal Lithography Project. “I just turned 60, and I want to leave behind a body of work that I'm proud of,” Creal said recently at his home studio just off South Pine Street. “But I'm also hoping that it's a body of work that other people will be proud of. I would like for (the lithography project) to show off what spectacular habitats we have on this coast.” The project involves the creation of new, original lithographs in which Creal aims to capture the mood, spirit and diversity of 25 sites along the South Carolina coast, spanning everything from barrier islands and dunes to estuaries and tidal inlets. “If you show that off to people who aren't as fully aware of how wonderful and rich and interactive all these places are, maybe you'll increase their awareness,” Creal said. “And maybe, then, you can get them to say, 'Wait a minute. Let's not develop this place. Let's let it be. Let's preserve it for our children. Let's let them see what we saw.' ” Many of the sites that Creal has chosen for the project are well known, such as Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet. But he'll also travel to several lesser known sites, some of which are accessible only by boat. “I think most South Carolinians know the beach and have been there at least once,” Creal said. “They've stuck their toes in the sand and played in the water. And they know that it's beautiful. “But what they don't really know is what it's like to go walking through a maritime forest. Those are the kind of things I want to show them.” After photographing the flora and fauna of the sites, Creal will create hand-printed, lithographic images based on the photographs. The entire process requires plenty of patience on the artist's part and is a lot more painstaking than it might seem. “Lithography is a very, very twitchy print process,” Creal said. “I would consider it probably the most technically demanding of the print processes for fine art. You have to work within very narrow tolerances in order to pull off printing an edition.” Lithography is a printing method that's been around since the late 1700s but is rarely used by artists today. Using the time-consuming method, Creal will make drawings on a grained limestone block from which he will chemically process the image and make an edition. He said that some pieces can take months to complete. “The process is pretty ferocious, and sometimes I'm not sure I really want to be a lithographer,” Creal said. “But I love the moment when the drawing on the stone comes alive. It's like the Frankenstein moment: 'It's alive!' And, so, you live for that moment. And then the printing of it also requires a huge amount of concentration.” Creal said limestone blocks make extraordinary drawing surfaces. “You get a texture similar to a fine drawing paper,” he said. “However, the stone can allow me to do a few things I can't quite achieve with a drawing paper. “I can build really rich, beautiful textures and tones on the stones that I can't seem to accomplish just working on a piece of paper.” A unique aspect of lithography is that it enables the artist to create multiple original prints. “It's designed to be able to make editions, so it's distinctively different from a photocopy,” Creal said. “And while absolutely incredible reproductive prints can be made now, it's not the same as having a lithograph.” Creal used an analogy to demonstrate why an original lithograph is preferred by art collectors. “Let's say your family was fortunate enough to have received a letter from Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago,” Creal said. “He took the paper out, he dipped his quill in the ink, he wrote on it, he folded (the envelope), he sealed it and he mailed it to you. Would you rather have that, which he touched in every possible way, or a photocopy of it? “And I think that really explains the difference. (With lithography), my hand is involved intimately in every step of the creative process from the beginning to end to make an original print.” Creal, whose work in lithographic, etching and monotype print processes has been exhibited in numerous solo, individual and juried exhibitions, is an award-winning visual artist with a BFA degree from the University of Montana. He teaches in the S.C. Arts Commission's Arts in Education Program and received a S.C. Arts Commission's Artist Venture Initiative grant in 2010, which allowed him to set up his Spartanburg studio to produce stone lithographs. To get started with the South Carolina Coastal Lithography Project, Creal launched a Kickstarter campaign in which he sought to raise a minimum of $5,000, just enough to cover the barebones expenses that it would require. The campaign was successful with Creal reaching his minimum goal within three days of its launch. By the time it ended in mid-December, he had raised more than $9,000. That amount is not enough to complete the ambitious lithography project, but it's a healthy start. Anyone who still wants to contribute can contact Creal via email at jimcreal1@hotmail.com. Creal said he's thankful for the support of each of his donors as well as two friends, Stephen Stinson and Jim Cullen, who helped him create a video to promote the South Carolina Coastal Lithography Project. “I'm really excited about the project, and I look at it as perhaps one of the biggest adventures of my life,” Creal said. “I think it's going to be great. I've got places up and down the coast I want to explore, and I'm going to meet people that know an awful lot more about the coast than I do. “It's going to be a whole learning situation for me, and I really hope that the project can live up to the potential that it has.”

Hatchfund offers artists free way to raise funds

The South Carolina Arts Commission has partnered with Hatchfund (formerly USA Projects) to help spread the word about this nonprofit, crowdfunding site dedicated to supporting artists. Hatchfund is a micro-philanthropy platform and online community where artists can post projects for funding. The Hatchfund team provides educational services, from fundraising 101 to case studies and best practices for project development and outreach support. There is also a matching fund program, which leverages contributions to help artists succeed faster. Why fundraise on Hatchfund?

  • Hatchfund is 100 percent FREE for artists
  • Artists receive personalized project development and fundraising support from your assigned Program Officer.
  • Tax deductibility for every donor, which means larger donations on average ($124) for your project.
  • Hatchfund has a  75 percent success rate, with more than $5 million raised as of August 2013.
Find out more or enroll now at www.hatchfund.org. Via: Hatchfund

Spartanburg artist’s first Kickstarter project is staff pick of the day

Spartanburg artist and printmaker Jim Creal's first Kickstarter campaign just launched, and it's already enjoying a day in the spotlight as a Staff Pick on the Kickstarter website. Jim CrealCreal, one of the first artists to participate in the Artists' Ventures Initiative, developed his Kickstarter campaign, the South Carolina Coastal Lithograph Project, to draw attention to the beauty of South Carolina's coastal islands and help preserve their habitats. His project is also about preserving his own work. "I turned 60 this year, and I wanted to create a cohesive body of work -- something of lasting value," said Creal.  "I jokingly call this my legacy project." Creal will create original, stone-drawn, hand-printed, lithographic images devoted to capturing the mood, spirit and rich diversity of South Carolina's coastal habitats. The finished product will be a limited-edition series of museum-quality lithographs that capture a vision of the breathtaking scenery and animals of the South Carolina coast. Some of these lithographs will be used as rewards for supporters of the Kickstarter campaign. (Example of Creal's work pictured left.) Work by Jim CrealThe first step is photographing the 25 sites Creal wants to include in the project. Many are well-known -- Brookgreen Gardens and Huntington Beach State Park -- and others are less popular -- Dungannon Heritage Preserve in Hollywood, S.C., and Nemours Plantation in northern Beaufort County. Some places are accessible by car, some only by boat and some will be photographed from the air. High-end donors to the Kickstarter campaign can join Creal on an expedition and photography shoot of some of the sites. Creal's love for South Carolina's coastal habitats is a life-long passion. "I have had a love for the magnificent beauty of the South Carolina coastal islands since I was young. When I am in these extraordinary places, I feel connected to something transcendent and primordial." "My hope is that this body of work will help audiences appreciate South Carolina’s coastal habitats' timeless beauty, their significance as vital ecosystems under stress, and their value as national treasures that need to be preserved for future generations." Find out more about Creal's project, including a description of how he creates the lithographs, on his Kickstarter campaign site. About Jim Creal Jim Creal creates landscapes, still-lifes and non-representational images through lithographic, etching and monotype print processes. His work, which has been exhibited in numerous solo, invitational and juried exhibitions and recognized by many awards, is held in private, institutional and corporate collections. In 2000, Creal exhibited in Winterthur, Switzerland and was a resident artist there in a cultural exchange. Creal teaches in the South Carolina Arts Commission's Arts in Education Program and received a South Carolina Arts Commission's Artist Venture Initiative grant in 2010, which allowed him to set up to produce stone lithographs in his Spartanburg studio.  

Artist Talk: The art of asking

Don't make people pay for music, says alt-rock singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate TED talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. She believes that we shouldn't fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable -- and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans.

Via: TED Ideas Worth Spreading