Friday, August 21, 2009

Creativity and Inspiration and Work

The last two posts have been about the links and patterns in my thoughts and memories that lead to inspiration and my best work.

I listened to a teleconference about time management yesterday - I got a few good nuggets out of it. And, since I have had three conversations lately with friends struggling with their creativity and how to use it, I thought about a few things that have helped me stay focused on my work. Maybe I can share a little with you.

How to approach art as work:

First and foremost - if you're an artist - it's your job. You must get up and go to work every day. Don't wait to be inspired. Just do something. In the middle of the process, even if it seems like drudgery - keep going - something will spark. Think of it this way - if you were a lawyer, or an accountant or a bus driver - you don't wait until you "feel like it" to do your work; your JOB is the same way. Otherwise, it is an avocation, not a vocation... ask yourself if it's a hobby or how you want to make a living.

This notion that you must be dead first to make it as an artist is ridiculous. Why bother? We can all name some artists, crafts people, writers, etc. that have made it big in their lifetime. Aspire to be one of those. Someone's gonna make it - why not me? Why not you? As the old adage goes - "there's always room at the top."

Not everything you create will be genius to you. Every artist produces duds. But, your dud might be just the thing for someone else - it might speak to them - so don't judge, just produce your best work!

If you're a writer - you don't have to write the next great American novel - if you're worried you won't be able to back it up with the next novel... how many people freeze if they can't do the best? Gee - have you seen a movie lately? Someone is buying up that crap.
Can't paint the Mona Lisa? Gee - have you seen a shark in a tank of formaldehyde? That "art" sold for millions?! Can you explain the popularity of Thomas Kincad or Ed Hardy?
Worried your next dress design won't make the cover of Vogue? Gee - a lot of people shop at Kohls.
What I am saying is - the world of "art" runs the gamut from Renoir to Velvet Paintings...from "War & Peace" to "I Love New York." Know where you want to be in that continuum.

Set goals. Read or listen to the greatest business people, every motivational speaker on earth and they will all tell you the same thing. Set goals. Write them down. Write down the steps that will take you toward fulfilling those goals [they're called objectives] and do them. You can listen to "the Secret" all day long - and it won't make anything happen by magic - you have to move your ass - you have to work on achieving your objectives to make your goals.

Stay focused. If you are an artist, building your business is a brick-by-brick process. Don't take on projects that are not in your goals - and don't get distracted.

Everyone will have great ideas for you. I can't tell you how many people have told me to paint dogs. I don't want to paint dogs- the thought of it gives me hives. Do what is true to you - but do remember this - you have a product. Whether it is a painting, a screenplay, a dress you designed or any other "thing," you have to take that product to market. Someone has to desire it. You need to sell it - so you can be true to yourself, as long as you know your customer base wants what you're making.

You will hit low points. You will feel like a failure. You can stay depressed and go nowhere, or you can use your time to dust off and move forward. If you want something enough that you can see it, taste it, smell it - if you can picture it, you can do it. Take a Psycho-Cybernetics course if you need a workshop that will help you reach goals. Listen to Zig Ziglar or any other speaker. None of them will tell you how to build your business, really - but they will tell you to set goals.

It's great to be creative. It's not great to wait until you feel creative to do something.

My favorite place for inspiration is the library. I'm lucky that I'm interested in so many things. I know exactly what stacks to hit - grab a bunch of books. I always find a jumping off place. The best thing is - the library is free.

For me - creating every day is part of who I am. No matter what I am painting, I look at it this way - I'M PAINTING!
As much as I want to keep working on the series I've started, I do have moments when I stray... I just finished a portrait last night that is very different than the others I've done lately - it was like a little break.

And, I like it. Someone else will like it, too.

Lastly - it might just be up to you to sell your work. Until someone else becomes your biggest cheerleader, it's gotta be you. There is nothing wrong with marketing yourself. If you don't believe, who will?

Go to the library and get "The War of Art," [not the Art of War] and read it or listen to it. It will help you figure out a way to make your art your job.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Flora, Madonna of the Roses

Flora, Madonna of the Roses - 18x36" - $2450.00

Back when I was a display/store/visual merchandiser... I designed a set of beautiful wood store fixtures for Levi Strauss & Co. - for a women's jeans concept store-within-a-store. The fixtures were wood and dyed gray. My designs were featured on the cover of Visual Merchandising and Store Design Magazine. Pretty cool! I then went on to design another set of fixtures for Levi's - this time, I went wild. [hang on, this will all make sense]

I had studied Charles Rennie Mackintosh- an architect from Scotland - who worked at the turn of the century [1900] - he was a pioneer in the Arts & Craft Movement and Art Nouveau - and the kind of architect who designed buildings, furniture, decorative items [linens, table-settings, everything!] - and he came way before Frank Lloyd Wright! Mackintosh's wife, Margaret MacDonald was an artist in her own right. I've always been in love with their aesthetic. The fixtures I designed for Levi's were made of wood - ash - and were dyed hot pink. They were based [very loosely] on Mackintosh's bedroom furniture - from his own home in Glasgow. His furniture, however, was white.

When I visited Scotland [I've been several times], I made a pilgrimage to Glasgow - all the requisite C.R.M. spots. When I visited his home, I was the only visitor in the house at the time. There were security cameras around, but I did touch the piece of furniture pictured above... and cried!

Both Charles and Margaret used stylized roses in their designs. I have this in a frame at home:

One of my favorite flowers are white roses. [I'm all about true love] - I have two aunts named Rose. I prefer rose gold. I had a dog named Rosie...I also am crazy about this painting of the Madonna of the Roses by William Aldolphe Bouguereau. So my newest piece, which I am calling "Flora - Madonna of the Roses," has the influence of both. My Flora has a rose-ringed halo, and she is behind a bower of red and pink roses! I tried to make her face sweet and slightly seductive...after all, red roses are the symbol of passion - and my series of icons really has nothing to do with religion - just my ideas!

Flora - that's the name of the woman who lived on the isle of Skye - the one who saved Bonnie Prince Charlie when he came to Scotland to seize the throne [it didn't work out, so he went over the sea to Skye]. The story is unrelated, but I do have Bonnie Prince Charlie's biography on my nightstand.

So when you see my next piece - you'll know where the influences came from...! I know it's a crappy picture... I'll post a better one on my site.!

Monday, August 3, 2009

If I hadn't...

If I hadn't been to Jerusalem, I might not have known about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
If I hadn't been to Istanbul, I might not have known about Constantine and his conversion.
If I hadn't read "The Last Pink Bits" I might not have known about the Island of St. Helena, where Napoleon spent his last days.
If I hadn't been out of work at the time, I might not have traveled to Oregon in an orange Fiat right after Mount St. Helen's blew up.
And, if I hadn't been watching "The Naked Archeologist" last night, I might not have known that St. Helena was Emperor Constantine's mother, who became the first "pilgrim" to visit the Holy Land and built churches on the sites of Calvary, the true cross, and the birthplace of Jesus.
Or, would I have known she is the patron saint of archeologists and the capital of Montana.
Look for an upcoming mosaic portrait of St. Helena...just for fun.