Making Art Fun: Step 9 – Stop When Done

stop-signHello to all my amazing followers! Thank you for joining me on this creativity and wellness journey. Participating in the 2013 Sketchbook Project inspired me to write down my 9 steps in making art fun and in keeping your creative spirits going. As a seasoned artist, I’ve had my ups and downs in the art world.

Like fine wine, as I age, perspective seeps in. I notice the challenges of working, raising a family, and sustaining a multi-decade, long-term and committed relationship. Keeping up with family, friends, volunteering, and still claiming time for my professional art and writing is a steep order. Yet, I find happiness in inspiring endeavors. Seizing the day keeps my inventive juices ripe and flowing.

Like in baking a cake, you have to know when it is done. Some people use their sense of smell, others, set a timer, or stick a toothpick in the center. We all have our techniques. It’s the same in any innovative project.

Today, I’ll finish this series of posts about making art fun. I’m done! I know it because I’ve said everything I want to, about this specific topic. Being able to share what I’ve learned with you, has been a pleasure. Now I’m satisfied about wrapping this series up, and I am anticipating what I’ll write about next time, here, on my blog.

You can click on each link below to read the last 8 posts in sequence. To recap my barometer on making art fun, and to reiterate, “if it ain’t fun, don’t do it:”
1. Keep it simple
2. Use what you have on hand
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
4. Lighten up
5. Delete your inner critique
6. Be playful
7. Listen to your inner voice
8. Allow for happy accidents
9. Stop when done

Ding! Ding! My cake’s done!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Trust your own sense of timing. Then share a slice of what you’ve made with others.

Making Art Fun: Step 8 – Allow for Happy Accidents

0709_serendipity_Jacqueline_TribouHere’s my next post on how to make art fun. Today I’ll talk about trusting serendipity. As you know from my last posts, I recently had the pleasure of attending an inspiring printmaking workshop. Due to my busy schedule at work, it was weeks before I had the chance to unpack my sturdy, large, nicked, and scarred black-leather portfolio.

Strewn across my oak kitchen table were newsprint pages I used during the workshop to blot up pigment residue. They were not the actual prints themselves, but they were too interesting to throw out at the workshop. As I unpacked them I saw how fragile the pigments were; there was no way to save them. Quickly pulling my cell phone out of my back pocket, I snapped photographs of them, thinking I might use the photographs in an art show.

In the video of life, fast forward to me submitting to the art show, pause on me realizing that one of the images I knew I shot, was missing. I fumed for a few minutes. The concept for the artwork had been brewing in my mind. Then I allowed the fortunate mistake of the missing photo to adjust the image in my mind. Instead of two different images, I modified the design to more of a yin/yang type.

Problem solved, artist happy, artwork ready to submit.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Save time, energy, and your artistic sanity by inventing in the moment. Trust those happy accidents.

Making Art Fun: Step 6 – Be Playful

playful2Hello world! I’ve been focused on saving my beloved library for the last several weeks and haven’t had a chance to write. Phew, I’m glad to be here with you today.

On January 1, 2013, I wrote to you about how to make art fun. Today’s entry is all about the value of being playful. Don’t get me wrong there have been days, months, and sometimes years when my art experiences were anything but joyous. Especially lean economic years when I supported myself as a fine artist and graphic designer. Through it all, I’ve learned what keeps me singing in the shower is lighthearted art making.

Case in point – I’ve been  too busy to even write this blog. I’m lucky if my contact lenses are in the correct eyes and my clothes are right-side-out when I leave the house in the morning. However, I’m taking a break from the maddening crowd in a few weeks, to be puckish with art.

My husband and son gave me a living, breathing gift for Mother’s Day. It’s not a dog. It’s a two-day printmaking workshop, at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking. I’ll be immersed in clay slabs, colorful clay, printmaking paper, and a rolling-pin. I can’t wait!

By taking a fun workshop, I’m not going to worry about technique or product or performance. I’m going to wear my jaunty “It’s an ART THING You Wouldn’t Understand” artist smock. The workshop is my light at the end of the tunnel during a stressful time. It’s cheering me up and lifting my spirits. Be impish with art.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Enjoy how vivacious you feel when you commit to curiosity and whimsy.

Making Art Fun: Step 5 – Delete Your Inner Critic

inner_criticFor the last few months I’ve been sharing hints on how to enjoy your creative endeavors, be they art, writing, photography, or blogs. Today’s thoughts are about deleting your inner critic. We all know what that is and how following its advice can trip you up. I’m thinking a little differently today about my dear old inner critic. I’m aware that most times it shoots me in the foot. Yet there are those occasions when it may have a point. Below are some options on how to handle your own inner critic. Let me know what technique you use and how it works out.

 
a. Challenge your inner critic – Fight it, debate with it, let it know you are in charge.
b. You don’t have to silence your inner critic – find a way to work side-by-side, co-exist.
c. Consider – Is your inner critic working with you or against you?
d. Personify it – what does it look like, sound like, where does it reside in your body?
e. Choose humor – Say to your inner critic, “So what? Who cares? Big deal!”
f. Give it a new job – re-assign it responsibilities.
g. Delete it – Yep, just press the delete key.  Or I do what I do, say to yourself, “Delete, delete, delete.” It works.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Get to know that voice inside you that doesn’t think you’re good enough. Then choose to not let it run (ruin) your life.

Making Art Fun: Step 4 – Lighten Up

We can all take ourselves too seriously, in life as well as in art. One of the secrets to happily navigating both is to lighten up. Recently I had a professional opportunity that required scanning a lot of my paintings, prints, photographs, mixed media collages, and graphic design projects. Work that had been completed over several decades. Once I viewed the images on my computer I was struck by the fact that what I thought to be my best original art didn’t represent that strongly in digital form. In a quandary, with a deadline looming what was I to do? Lighten up!

I put on completely new eyes. Gave myself an attitude adjustment and became enlightened. I surveyed my work from one perspective only “What graphically shows the best.” I made selections from that sole point of view. Boy, did it simplify the creative process! No longer did I take time remembering the success of that piece or reminisced about what collector bought it. No longer was I seduced by my own feelings of yummy art memories, lightening up became practical, efficient, oddly enjoyable, and freeing.

Artworks that I would have considered not so good, showed me their strengths in digital form. I was educated anew to the value of my work, it was like a refresher course. Once the project was complete I even had fun making a video out of some of the art and design, the different viewpoint sparked more creativity.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be surprised at the increase in your rate of production when you lighten up.

Making Art Fun: Step 2 – Use What You Have on Hand

Door_4_a_TeePee_copyright_Adair_Wilson_HeitmannIf you stay in the art business long enough you start to see patterns. I’ve been an exhibiting professional artist for decades and I enjoy tracking the methods of my artistic madness. In my last blog about making art fun I wrote about keeping it simple. Today I’ll share Step 2: Use What You Have on Hand.

Several years ago I was asked by the gallery owner of Bell Gallery, one of my, then, premier exhibition spaces, to create a work of art for herself and her boyfriend. They made a tipi to travel with and camp in during the summer. They planned to stitch the gallery artists’ paintings to their nomadic abode. Having very little time to focus on the task I used what was on hand. In my studio I found what I considered to be a scrap, a test cloth of photo-sensitized fabric. I quickly glued and sewed it onto a square of un-primed canvas, and drew directional lines to blend the borders. I then stamped fun symbols and wrote a short spontaneous sentiment with rubber letter stamps encircling the central image. Voilà! A work of art that was not premeditated, not drafted out, not sweated over. A work of art that seized what was on hand and let that momentum build the creative expression.

Darryl Norem, the gallery owner and Guenther Riess loved the painting. They were so happy with it that it never made it onto the tipi. They rigged it on two standing poles that flanked the door opening to their temporary home every time they put it up. Their actions surprised me at the time, because I thought I just threw the mixed-media artwork together. I was honored that they put my art in a place of recognition, yet I couldn’t see the value of it as much as they did. Looking back on the piece years later I now see the spunk and liveliness of the canvas. I appreciate what they saw then, a work of art with creativity, heart and soul. Something that delights and intrigues the viewer. This was a lesson for me. What I thought was just a quick creation was actually something of far greater worth than I realized.

Fast forward to 2012 and 2013, when I had fun with art and participated in the world tour of artists’ sketchbooks called The Sketchbook Project. In both years I followed Step #2, had a ball and completed the projects on deadline. The pattern is that when pressed for time, what I create right out of the gate by using what’s at hand, without my ego getting in the way, makes the best art.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Cage your inner critic and use something on hand to ignite your creative spark.

Creativity, Voting and Independence

My dad came with me when I registered to vote. I was a bright-eyed, rebellious young artist and he was a smart, rebellious seasoned man of the cloth. Of course I wanted to register as an Independent. Even though I was trained in the schools of good Southern manners, and minister’s daughter polite protocol, my thoughts and actions didn’t always follow the mainstream.

I was all set to register, when my dad uttered one simple statement. “It’s okay if you register as an Independent, but just remember, if you do, you won’t be able to vote in any of the primaries.” In that moment I realized a bigger picture of politics and being eligible to choose the candidate of my choice for the President of the United States. That privilege didn’t just come once every four years, it was an ongoing commitment.

Every time I vote I think of my dad and wish he was still here, so we could talk politics. He and I used to talk art too, as we explored the world’s museums. This brings me to the creative part of this blog. Anyone can be inspired to do something, but it takes an independent spirit to have sustained courage to put it out there for the world to see or hear or read.

Artists and choreographers, musicians and writers put their thoughts and feelings into something concrete, and share it. Politicians endeavor to do the same. They don’t use pigments or prose or pianos. They attempt to communicate their visions and to show us in their actions, their ideas for a better future for our country.

Creativity and wellness message: Vote from the inner gallery of your own conscience.

Staying Present

I have lots going on right now, how about you? All the plates that I’m spinning are staying up, but I’m constantly in motion. I’m working hard, playing hard, and honoring many milestones this summer. To name a few I’m helping celebrate 90th birthdays, middle school graduations, and wedding vow renewals. I’m documenting a world tour art show, and reconnecting with my tribe at the beach. I’m grateful for it all. Amongst the fray, today, I seek a quote for inspiration.  Within seconds, this one crosses my desk.

“Creativity is the fragrance of individual freedom.”
-Osho

Creativity and wellness message for today: Be who you are, where you are, connect with authenticity, the rest will follow.

A Song of an Artist’s Soul

Yesterday I was talking with a neighbor when tears briefly welled up in my eyes. We were talking about art and design. I felt sad that I wasn’t spending enough time for my artist’s soul. I realized I’m longing to put pen to paper in textured, tactile ways. Daily, I’m writing and designing, but it’s all online. I’m not feeling the tug and pull of a wet paint brush. I miss the salty smell of red carmine and the sulphur overtones of vermillion.

Being a fine artist is all about the touch, smell, sight and sound of making art, not just the end product. It’s about getting messy and making happy mistakes. It’s about hearing the calligraphy nib on a hand-tooled wooden pen scratching toothed paper. Give me the sweet smell of amber in gum arabic and the sharp bite of black touche on a Bavarian limestone.

Drench me in the crisp scent of tautly stretched canvas. Let me run my fingers along the deckled edge of handmade paper. Lie me down with solid Sumi brushes and let me listen to bright white paper as it wicks up watery midnight-colored ink.

Creating this ode to the senses of art refreshes me. I’m now pleasantly anticipating my next artistic sojourn.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Sing the song of your own artist’s soul.

Soothing the Raw Edges of a Creative Life

I’m getting ready to lead my writing critique group and should be preparing my writing to share, but instead, I’m writing to you in my first post of 2012. As artists, writers, creative, and divergent thinkers, we can attest to being vulnerable, scared, and paralysed. Life alone can do this to us then we add, of our own volition, the stress of putting our tangible expressions out there, into the world to be viewed and judged.

Yesterday I was reminded, yet again, about the benefits of meditation. Disclaimer–I’ve been meditating for years–but it sure does help when someone else tells me how good it is! I’ve included an essay by Orna Ross here, it is so well written and inspiring too. Jane Friedman posted it on her blog and I learned of it through Facebook, ahhhhh the joys of sharing through social media.

My favorite line is:
“Meditation soothes those edges and creates a place of safety from where we can take risks.”

Creativity and wellness message for today: Claim your essential self.

P.S. Should I forego my shower and meditate instead?