Fall is upon us, and once again I haven’t done as much painting and drawing over the Summer as I would have liked to do. Time really gets away from me sometimes. With my family, teaching, and volunteering for LAA, I rarely have a spare moment these days. Once in a while, though, I get a little time “windfall” when I could do whatever I want. However, I am usually not prepared to take advantage of that windfall. I blow off the opportunity and do something that’s not as satisfying, like laundry or housekeeping...or surfing the internet. So, I’ve been considering how to help myself take advantage of those time windfalls, and I think the key is to be prepared. By that I mean, have your workspace ready to go, have a list of projects you want to work on, have a procedure you follow whenever you start a work session and so on. For the September Member Handout, I quoted an excerpt from a blog post by writer Sonia Simone talking about developing a process/habit that works for you. To quote Sonia, “For creative work you want to do consistently, like blog posts or podcast episodes, it’s a lifesaver to have a familiar, repeatable process you use every time.” She’s talking about writing, but this really applies to all creative work. How do you prepare for your time windfalls? If you structure your creative time and don’t rely on stolen moments (like me), what steps do you recommend for getting into the creative groove in order to make progress? I’d love to hear your ideas! Email me at: email@example.com and next Member meeting, I will share your ideas in the slideshow and handout. You can also leave comments on the blog post as soon as our web team uploads the President’s note.
Yours in creativity
The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. --David S. Viscott
I’ve been thinking about my personal journey and how the heck I got here.
Many of you know that I teach art, lead the Drawing Study Group, and of course there’s that Presidentin’ thing.
What you may not know is that that all came about because someone looked at me, saw who I am, and said, “I bet she can do this!”
Those who looked at me and saw my potential didn’t just look, they encouraged me, gently prodding me to take on teaching drawing at the Senior Center, then painting class, leading a drawing group, and finally becoming your president. Just those things have happened over the last year and a half. (checks calendar…yup, that’s right, less than 2 years!)
I don’t consider myself to be a natural leader. In fact I’m more of a stay on the sidelines type. I volunteered a little here and there and didn’t speak up much outside of close friends and family. That’s all changed now!
Yesterday’s Helen stayed safe, waiting to be asked for help, afraid she couldn’t do the job, and so on. She stayed safe, but she also missed out on the connection, the joy, the outright blast of working with and encouraging other artists.
Don’t be like yesterday’s Helen. Think about what you could do to help your fellow members and community by volunteering. You never know where that will take you. You may be surprised at what you are capable of…like I was.
Yours in ART,
It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well-painted. ...There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” —Mark RothkoIs
Rothko right, or does it really matter if our work is “about” something or nothing? Does it matter if there is a rationale or story behind our artistic choices? I think so.But why does it matter? Why not be content to do technically superb work and not worry about the “why?” In order to sustain our work and to become even better artists, I believe we need to think about our process and how each choice we make tells the story we want to tell. By finding that story, new options present themselves and the work becomes more profound.
Further, when we don’t find our story, we can have problems sustaining our interest in a piece. I have a portrait I’ve been procrastinating for some time and I think the reason is that I am not in love with it. It doesn’t fascinate me. It is just a drag to work on and avoiding it keeps me away from my easel for days/weeks on end. I seem to be able to rationalize almost anything to avoid it. The piece tells no story for me and sometimes that can be paralyzing.Your strongest work will always be ofthe subjects that fascinate you and tell a story, whatever that story is. (It could be purely abstract).
Are you fascinated by your subject? What do you do to keep your interest up? What is your work about?This Summer, I challenge you to pay attention towhat fascinates you and what draws you to a subject, to the story. Pay attention to what keeps you at your easel and maybe even think about what keeps you away. By doing so, you will move your work to the next level (Leveling Up!)
Yours in creativity,
How do you become a better artist?
At our last member meeting I talked a little about the concept of “Leveling Up,” a term that I first came across online amongst illustrators and character designers. It was borrowed from video games in which the player has to get to the next level to proceed in the game. Artists use it to mean getting to a higher skill level in their work. It doesn’t just mean becoming more skilled, though. It also means transforming your thinking about your work.
When we begin making art, most of us begin by learning how to use our materials, how to craft a piece, or master composition. This is an important part of our progress as artists. But art isn’t all about technique.
There comes a time when we want to challenge ourselves, to make our work about more than mastering our medium. Our work starts to become about what we want to say, how we want our work to be perceived. When we get to that point, it is time to level up, to work at bringing your artwork to that next level of meaningfulness.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy or comfortable. Your work might be frustrating. You might doubt yourself, or feel that you cannot make that leap. I want to encourage you to stick with it. Take chances. Try new approaches. Mix your mediums. You WILL break through and your work will be even better because of the struggle.
This month, I challenge you to take that next step, when you are ready, to go to the next level. Brave the discomfort. It won’t last long and you will become an even better artist with every attempt.
How will you "Level Up" this month? What kind of support do you need from your fellow artists? How can we help each other to get to the next level?
Yours in creativity,
PS—Apply this same concept to photography or any other mediums.
The Louisville Art Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the visual arts in our community and state wide.