16 May 2009

The Enthusiastic Muse

The concept and construct of the muse has been central to active creativity and artistic pursuits for centuries, and in the modern age, it has also been given credence in areas of commerce and corporate affairs - usually in marketing and promotional activities.

I've written a lot about stimulating your muse, how to re-engage with creative and emotional energies to pump the imagination - the one thing I haven't mentioned is simple enthusiasm.

With the new approaches to lifestyle, work/life balance, and concerns voiced about burnout, stress, depression and isolation, the passionate choice to BE creative is often overlooked. Often fatigue and time constraints are the given reasons to not pursue more creative activities, with other responsibilities and pressures taking priority.

For an artist, this cannot, cannot be the case.
(Writers, actors, dancers and musicians know what I'm talking about.)

In my life, the art, no matter which arena, is everything. I have skills in a number of arts beyond painting and drawing, and they all require attention, motivation, dedication and I expect from myself not only the discipline to continue with them, but also the commitment made by DESIRE to experience them. Without that desire, there is no muse, there is no will or passion to create, there is no amount of stimulus that will magically conjure up the vision or creative heart to go forth and be artistic. Without desire, there is no enthusiasm.

13 May 2009

Get Emotional


My pet rock threw itself off a table and broke, Trent Reznor apparently has a girlfriend, and my fellow latte-lover is on the road... when all else fails, do not buy a potplant!

Instead, go back to the beginning....

What was it that made you want to draw, paint, and otherwise express yourself in a two dimensional platform? What were the visions, the dreams and the motivations that made you pick up the art in the first place?

While a creative block is not unusual, life's little obstacles can mess with your stress, and you find that while you continue to create and work, you're hovering around the same theme.... you have found a little creative comfort zone and you are now officially in a rut.
What's so great about drawing the same thing over and over and say, over again? For one, it's a global exploration of the subject, because you keep finding new things each time you go through the process, but also it allows you to stay emotionally in the same zone - I've discussed emotional requirements during the artistic process before, how to find an emotional space and having to stay there every time you work on a particular composition.

In this case however, while it may be safe for you emotionally to endlessly loop the process, it's hazardous to the health of your art.

Today, I had someone say to me, 'You're always working; you must have an inexhaustible supply of creative energy.'
Well, yes dear, kind of a pre-requisite for an artist, but that's not the point. It's not just the creative energy you need, it's the emotional range and energy that elevates your art, allows it to be passive, dynamic, confrontational, heartfelt - you can't create art without giving it an emotional tone. When you yourself are feeling emotionally static, it naturally affects the nature of your work.
How is this different to a creative block? Creativity is about the vision, the foundation or 'germ' of an idea that inspires the composition. Emotion is what is required during the process of creating.

What to do? Explore your emotional range - listen to all kinds of music, watch films that make you angry, sad, happy, incredulous, go for a workout and push every physical limit you can (within reason) so that you're exhausted and euphoric simulataneously.... Push the sensory boundaries...

Sometimes when the internal can no longer be externalized, you have to reverse your world - change your sensory environment, that which you see, touch, taste, smell and hear, and let it provide you with new information, new input. Let yourself be sensitive to the world around you.

And if you're really daring, watch the local news.... better than a horror movie....

09 May 2009

Inspirations for a Goddess


I love it when the creative works and skills of other people inspire me...
While so many things are called 'art' these days, it is rare that the paintings and drawings of other artists give me inspiration... it is in fact the other arts that I find intriguing and provocative.

Be it photography, handmade crafts, story-telling, film, theatre, poetry, I find that the works defined in these different arenas provoke my vision, tickle my creative fancy and allow me to continue my artistic journey through providing me with a stimulated emotional sense..

The photo in this entry is of a minor work just completed titled 'Dryad'. The inspiration for this work came from a gentleman I met on Twitter, Steven Weathers, who shared some awesome photos of ancient trees in China.
While the composition isn't focused on the trees, I wanted the sensory appeal of their presence to merge and harmonise with the sensuality of the dryad. Given that the majority of my work has a theme of sensuality and goddess feeling, the trees were to provide the context, the environment...

Such it is that I spend little time in galleries and museums, for while I do enjoy them when I visit, it is through the other creative pursuits that I actually find conversations with my muse.

03 May 2009

The Magical Artist

People tend to have serious expectations that art somehow magically appears... For those artists who like to keep that myth alive, forgive me for telling trade secrets....

When I started learning about art, there were a couple of hundred preparatory steps involved in crafting a composition, and a stack of design and study works that had to be carried out before you even got to working on the final canvas. Visual diaries had to be filled out, research and evidence of research had to be provided, source folders and scrapbooks created, journal entries and thoughts and ideas had to be recorded, and there was always this ever-present sense of calculated procedure - I was young, knew nothing about the artistic process. I wanted to pick up a brush or a pencil and have it 'just happen'.

Classical training in art teaches you more about how to think and observe and analyze like an artist than just learning how to draw or paint. The visual diaries and journals and the constant need to record and document was just as important as knowing colours, light, positive and negative space.... there was so much in-depth detail that went into 'crafting' a work of art than merely drawing a picture. You learn by studying the works of other artists, in all genres, in all mediums, in order to apply that which is relevant and inspiring and interesting to you. You studied their works by copying sections from them, learning how that effect was created, that system of light and shade worked - you learned by doing. From learning the skills of analysis and observation, the technical skills of the medium, you were then able to apply your own emotional context, story, narrative, statement, style, personality... the list goes on.

When you have spent years working in this fashion, you find the preparation invaluable - doing detailed studies of textures, or hand positions, or genre-specific stylisations - recording and archiving every little scrap and scribble for use at any point in the future.... and to record your travels and travails as an artist. Having a library of source material, quick ideas, references to your own development - it's like having not only a huge keepsake box about your life, but a treasure chest of inspirations and revelations for both the future and about the past.

As you grow and expand and extend, it's extremely important to be able to see where you've been, where you have progressed and changed and evolved - this drives you forward, motivates new directions and enthusiasm... As an artist, you want to avoid becoming stagnant and stale.

And with all those skills, techniques and artistic discoveries in your journals and diaries, you provide yourself with the ability to make it seem like the art 'just happens'. And you are the magical artist you always wanted to become.