outflows and inflows of creativity

Monday, July 30, 2007

Martha Stewart As Artistic Inspiration Part 2

Continued from yesterday:
6. Quality. This is a cornerstone, and should always be on your mind. Stated simply, do the very best you can do at all times, in all aspects of your work. Choose the best paints and brushes you can afford, the best canvas and frames. Make sure your works on paper are archival - you don't want your work to fall apart within a few years. Take care of your projected image - make sure your business cards and other promotional materials look professional. You are your own brand - If you can't project yourself as knowledgeable about your art, then how can you sell it? After all, your art is a part of you.
7. Allow Others To Help You. We artists are an independent bunch. We think we can do it all - that when it comes to our art only our individual voice matters. Not true. Allow others to give you feedback, and listen to what they have to say. If your work hangs in a cafe, pay attention to not only what the owner and patrons think of it, but what the wait staff thinks as well. Art should speak to everyone. Ask advice from fellow artists, don't be shy. Especially those older than you - learn how they do things.
8. Don't Be Afraid Of Making Mistakes. Face it - you will make them. That's the only way, however, to really improve. Leonardo DaVinci made many - The Last Supper was a huge one. He painted it using experimental paint binding agents instead of the tried and true fresco, and it began falling off the wall it was painted on almost immediately, as well as attracting mold. Imagine if he would have destroyed this "mistake"! The world is still discovering subtleties and new symbolism in this masterpiece.
9. Risks. With life comes risk. To get out of bed every day is a risk. To stay in bed is a risk. There is no safe passage. Expand your artistic voice . . . if you are an abstract artist, try pottery. Send out a query to a gallery, risk being rejected. If you are turned down, so what? There are thousands of galleries. Get some work online - it only requires a little time and a digital camera. Someone in the world needs to see your art.
10. Make It Beautiful. Surround yourself with beauty, and it will make not only your art better, but improve your outlook. Plant some flowers. Paint a room your favorite color. Decorate with objects and symbols you love, that mean something to you. Maybe even get a tattoo, if it makes you feel beautiful.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Martha Stewart As Artistic Inspiration Part 1

OK, I know a lot of you will think I've lost it completely after reading that title. "She's been artistically challenged a bit too long" and "Egad, maybe she is a starving artist after all and is not getting enough nutrients to the brain". But wait - let's look at this . . .
I have finished reading "The Martha Rules - 10 Essentials For Achieving Success As You Start, Build, or Manage A Business" and there are parallels. The 10 essentials are passion, having a big idea, examination of your goals, giving back, growth, quality, allowing others to help you along the way, using your mistakes, taking risks, and making it beautiful. Please note these are not the actual names of the 10 essentials; I sorta paraphrased. After all, this is an art blog, and I'm trying to make a point. You will just have to read the book to get the real 10 essentials!

These elements can help us as artists. Here's how:

1. Passion. We all know we must have that, because no one in their right mind would go through all the stuff we do just to create and show our art. Do what you can to keep it alive; go on a trip to a new place, take a class, hob-nob with other artists.

2. A Big Idea. In this case I mean the fact that we deign to create in the first place, that's a Big Idea. Think of a concept and present it in a new and different way. Sketch a different perspective of that still life, paint that portrait from a different angle. I'm reminded of Stephen Spielberg, his Big Idea changed the way movies were made.

3. Goals. We must have attainable goals. And really, all goals are attainable, some just take more work and effort than others. For example, if I have 2 goals, one being to finish a painting by next week, the other being to finish 6 paintings by next week, both goals are attainable, it's just that the first one will be easier to achieve than the latter one. Set a few easier to reach goals. Accomplishing them will spur you on to bigger and better achievements.

4. Giving Back. This is important. We must help others along the way if we are to expect any kind of satisfaction through our work. It can be as simple as showing a child how to draw a tree, or as complex as owning and operating a gallery to further other artist's careers.

5. Growth. We must continually grow and expand as artists. We must look at art, discuss art, and create as much as we can. We should try different mediums and styles, just for the fun of it. Think of a different way to present your art to the world; greeting cards, lampshades - I have a friend who painted a rug on her floor - you should see people trying not to trip on the wrinkle she included!
Well, there you have five. Tomorrow I'll expound on the next five. Until then . . .

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Myspace As Artistic Expression

Been doing a little web surfing lately. I checked out Myspace, just for fun. And fun it can be. It can also eat up a good portion of your day, if you're not careful.
Just for curiosity's sake, I looked up Neil Diamond (I'm a fan, and I thought he might be available to chat with, since I'm sure he has nothing better to do on a Tuesday but lurk on Myspace) and would you believe there are 100 + Neils? Pictured is a screenshot of, I'm sure, the real one. It says right there under the caption Who You'd Like To Meet, " I'd like to meet you, baby!" There's his autographed picture and everything!!!
One thing struck me, though - the amount of self expression and artistry involved in this. You can modify your page to fit your personality, showcase your likes and dislikes, like a page out of an old fashioned scrapbook. There are websites that provide code for animations, backgrounds and the like to be inserted on your page. You can have Beavis and Butthead rocking to Metallica or Jesus appearing and disappearing into graphics that read "The Name Above All Names". You can have a glittery seizure-causing flash background, or a serene lake scene.
One thing for sure, people have an innate need to express themselves. I think that's part of the popularity of Myspace - anyone can put a little or a lot of themselves into their pages. The variety and level of customization is astonishing. Regular people are expressing themselves artistically!
Artists will always use the tools available to them, and the Internet and sites like Myspace and YouTube that allow a high level of user interaction should remain popular. From the earliest cave drawings self expression has been a crucial part of what it means to be human. That imperative, that need, won't go away as our technology increases. Human beings will use the tools available, whatever they may be, to create art and make the world a better place.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

When Your Muse Takes A Vacation

I'm in trouble. I have art to do, and can't seem to get going. I know it's in there somewhere, after all I do call myself an artist. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. And horror of horrors, today I seem to have a waning desire to do any art at all.
I even made a list of what I needed to get done today.
A. I needed to get started on my next piece, which means I
1. Need to get some sketching done, which will help me to
*Work out composition, viewpoint
So on and so forth.
What I got done so far . . .
1. I woke up
2. I had Cheerios
3. I had coffee
4. I did yard work (in Amazon forest- like humidity)
5. Went to The Grocery Store.
Now I'm stuck. earlier in the week, when I was shackled to something else, all I could think about was having today to get to my pencil and brushes. Oh Joy! I thought, I will be able to produce like mad. I will ride the wave of boundless Creativity! I will soar to the heights of Inspiration! Yeah, right.
I am learning, though, that this happens to everybody. The trick is to go on and make yourself take up the pencil. I have, and though it took me doing some warm up work to get going, I did get going. I haven't completed what I thought I would, but making the attempt will carry you further than not making any attempt at all. Having said that, there are times when you just need to relax and give your muse time to catch back up with you. Sometimes you just need to do something else for a while, give your mind a little rest. The more you create, the more in tune you will become with your own unique rhythm. Like waves on a beach that come in and recede, yet the ocean itself stays constant.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview with Colleen Patricia Williams

Colleen Patricia Williams is an extremely gifted artist who lives in Portland, Oregon. There she is, on the left. She creates pieces designed to stir your emotions, and make you think more deeply and appreciate color. After successfully raising her children, Colleen felt the need to dive back in to her art. In 2003 she suffered an accident that almost took her life. In nearly constant pain, she courageously continues to paint, gaining from her experience a deep appreciation for life. Here's a few questions I asked her:
1. How did you get started as an artist? According to my aunt, I got my start young, making toothpaste sculptures out of my little brother's hair. From there I progressed to mud on any available wall space.
2. Where can we find your work? I have my own website, www.colleenpatriciawilliams.com, and I also have an art rep, Dawne, of Zebra Creations. I've just signed a contract with Off The Canvas Gallery in Canada, for prints of some of my images.
3. What message(s) are you trying to convey? Well, I'm more into shapes, colors and forms than I am any message. I prefer that the viewer's emotional response come from within them, not from any external statement on my part. I don't want to define the viewer's experience; I want them to define it for themselves. I provide the image, and they take it from there.
4. What artist, work or movement has influenced you the most? That one is pretty easy. Georgia O'Keeffe and Wayne Thiebaud. I love the colors of both artists. And the light from Rembrandt! I can only hope to achieve that level of mastery!
5. How do you find inspiration? I can't get away from it. I have learned that I have to be careful while driving. I can get distracted by something very easily. My husband says I'm the master at the mad right turn, LOL!
I really can't get away from the images. Sometimes they wake me up, and won't let me sleep again until I have them on paper, at least.
6.If you could have any job in the world what would it be? Pagan Queen of my Very Own Universe, LOL! Seriously, I would love to be able to make a living doing my art. I'm lucky, in that I have a very supportive husband, and a very supportive ex-husband. They both are invaluable to the cause!
7. Who are your heroes? That one is also easy. The regular working stiff that gets up everyday, and goes to work to support the family. The moms that raise the kids, and the grammas and grandpas that help out. The average human that forges ahead even when it hurts. I often feel that part of the problems in our society is the undervaluation of the working families. There is too much desire to want to be eternally young, to be "someone". What the average person needs, is to realize that we are all someone special. Just like art, each person is unique and each brings something different to the table.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Art And Fear

Just got finished reading a terrific book titled Art and Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of ARTMAKING by David Bayles and Ted Orland. These writers understand the issues we artists face with an uncanny insight, spotlighting them in fine detail. This book addresses the complex internal issues facing artists and gives workable solutions that allows us to reach our full potential. Orland and Bayles reveal the core of the artist psyche, what role talent plays in the equation (you will be surprised) and some good tips on how to avoid falling by the wayside and becoming the cliched "has-been" artist. There's a section on art in the academic world; the unique struggles art teachers and administrators face, as well as the trials and tribulations of being an art student. It draws interesting comparisons between art, science and math, as well as painting, sculpture, writing and music.

This is a book every artist should have at their disposal. Although only 122 pages, it is full of insight, advice, and understanding of what it means to be an artist and the everyday struggles we face, both seen and unseen. It's good to know we are not alone in our struggles. Indeed, it connects us to artists of every age, from the cave painters to Warhol. We are all part of a distinguished and select group of people.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

How To Set Youself Apart From The Pack

How do you set yourself apart from the pack? Here's some suggestions:

1. Constantly hone your skills. Buy a small notebook, doesn't have to be anything fancy, doesn't even have to be from an art supply store, and sketch at every opportunity. Buy one small enough to fit in your purse or pocket, and when waiting at the doctor's office, or for the bus or subway, or just waiting at a grocery store, pull it out and start sketching something or someone you see around you. You will be amazed how much faster the time will go when doing something productive. That being said . . .

2. It ain't all about talent, baby. In these days of global connectivity, you must have a bit more. Educate yourself in marketing of some sort. It has been said creating art takes about 40% of your time, promotion takes the other 60%. Go to events and gallery shows in your area, no matter how insignificant you may think they are. Have good quality business cards printed (no, DO NOT print them yourself on your desktop printer!) and pass them out. When going out to a restaurant, leave one with your tip. You never know who will see it. Post them on any bulletin board that will let you ( I've posted mine at my vet's office and doctor's office).

3.Use the resources of the Internet. This is a wealth of information right at your fingertips. If you need to know how to do encaustic, or even what encaustic is, all you have to do is look it up. Never before in the history of the world has there been such a wealth of information so available to so many people. If you don't have Internet access available in your home, most libraries readily do. And speaking of libraries . . .

4. Use your library. There are so many books, all for free! They're books with fantastic color plates on many major artists and their works. How to books on watercolor, drawing, oil. They're books on marketing, finances, how to write a resume - on and on. All good tools to further your career.

5. Get to know other artists. I know as an artist myself, we have to have a certain amount of time alone to create and to think about creating. But we must not overlook the value in getting to know our peers. We need to bounce ideas around, expand our knowledge and deepen our connections with each other. Don't be afraid someone will "steal your idea" - that's simply not possible. If 10 artists paint the same apple, it will have 10 different looks. Don't let jealousy and other negative emotions rob you of enriching yourself. Social connections make us better artists.

6. Get out of your comfort zone. Try a different medium from time to time. If you are an oil painter, try acrylics. If you are a fabric artist, try pottery. It's good to keep your brain constantly stimulated, and your creativity flowing in different directions.
(photo courtesy of Mirko Tobias Schaefer)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Animal Crackers

After what seems to me to be an unusually looong time, I finally finished my latest piece. This one seemed to be a bit more of a struggle than usual. Could be I've had too many distractions. I had to purposely carve out time for this painting, do a little here and a little there, think about it then think some more. Here it is, Animal Crackers, 16"X20" acrylic on canvas. Thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Peaceful Discussion

Met with our local sketch group today for our monthly meeting. As always, it was good to see everyone and talk about what's going on in each of our lives and careers. Today we had quite a spirited discussion on politics, religion and abortion. Now, in today's climate, the combination of any one of those subjects could become quite explosive. You have to be careful, folks are stressed out and sometimes a little crazy. I've been around a lot of different people, from all socio-economic and educational backgrounds, but I have to say I believe artists, as a group, are some of the most socially conscious and intelligent people around. No, I did not agree with some statements that were made, but we were able to discuss, not argue. I am appreciative of my friends' point of view; I understand but don't have to agree.
Maybe it's because artists, in the process of creating, have to think broadly. I don't think it's possible to be an artist and be narrow minded. Of course, I could be incorrect, I don't know all people of the earth. But I think I'm more right than wrong.
Artists can change the world, one sketch at a time.
Oh, I did get a little work done - here's my sketch of a wood duck nesting box on the river^^^

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I Have To

Do you ever feel just, well, beat up?

Have you ever had a vision of a piece - an idea, an inspiration that comes with unexpected force? You dream about it. Maybe you need to research how another artist approached certain elements. You go to the library, or look online. maybe you sketch out your composition, maybe you go directly to canvas; the one you painstakingly stretched and primed. You mix your paints, prepare your cleaning solutions, turn on the answering machine, load your brush and make the first stroke.

After soaring highs, basement level lows, much cursing, your piece is done. If you're lucky, and have gallery representation, your piece goes there. You wait and hope someone will understand your struggle, hear your voice, and pay money for the privilege of having it speak to them in their home. If you don't have a gallery you still wait and hope, maybe put the piece online, hit the streets with it.

The beat up part comes with the waiting, waiting, hoping, praying, critiques from friends and family who overnight have become art experts. Why continue this self torture?
Speaking for myself, the answer is simple. Maybe too much so. I have to.
The smell of the paint, the feel of the brush in my hand - the work that sparks to life. . . this is in the cells of my body. Even if no one else appreciates or can see what it is I'm trying to express, I must try, I must.

For more years than I want to admit to, I denied the artist within, and was miserable. I was like a fish thrown up on a high bank, gasping, struggling to get back into the water.
Of course, I still struggle, but in many ways the path is much smoother. Art has done that for me. Given me a voice, my voice.

(Image courtesy Darwin Bell - Click to see his fantastic photos)

Monday, July 2, 2007

Holiday Departure

The Independence Day holiday is here and a lot of my friends and family will be at the beach. Sadly, I won't be among them. But here's a little something for them all.

As a dog lover and an absolute beach fanatic, I thought this was perfect. People with kids - I feel for you all! Everybody have a safe and happy Fourth!
The cartoonist is Paul Gilligan, the name of the strip is Pooch Cafe. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Noteworthy Blogs

OK, I've been "tagged". I'm it. Got nominated for the "Thinking Blogger Award". My mission is to nominate five other noteworthy blogs that make me think. Here's some that I read regularly and enjoy:

Steve Pavlina's Personal Development Blog - this guy is very positive and really makes a lot of sense. His blog is full of great advice, from starting your own business to how to cook brown rice.

Arts & Stuff by Susan Borgas - Susan is an Aussie artist who gives step-by-step instruction on how to create art, and when I say step-by-step I mean really detailed and helpful, like how she arranges her pastels to enable her work to flow, which causes her to not waste time looking for a certain color, as well as the struggles we as artists all experience. She has taught me to look in unexpected places for inspiration.

Art News Blog - I'm a news addict, but in todays world, and with today's headlines, being a news addict can drive you batty. This is a good alternative. You learn about what's going on in the world of art, the latest trends and what some of the major galleries are showing. Just don't let that Damien Hurst skull get you down . . .

Finding Yourself Despite Yourself - This is just plain good, funny writing. The author is a mother of 3 and writes about her life and thoughts. Think Erma Bombeck of the 21st century. Sometimes you just need to laugh - this fits the bill.

Winsome Gunning Artwalk - OK, if you want to think, I mean really give those neurons a workout, this is the one for you. This blogger thinks deeply about art and life in general, and connects art with the spiritual side of things. She uses poetry and images to get her message across.

Well, there you have my five. I could list more, as I'm discovering great blogs everyday. I'll do an update from time to time.

So, numbers one through five, I'm passing it to you! If you accept your mission, your task is below.


and I have to break the rules and list one more: Artsails1 - This blog has become absolutely indispensible for up to date news and info about everything art related in South Carolina. It makes me think of different venues and ways to promote myself. Any artist anywhere can benefit from this blog, not just Sandlappers.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).