Be Limitless Stray from the Path

The quickest path between two points is a straight line. In a crowded world that is nearly impossible.

I like the winding path. Un-enforced and edge-bumping ways tickle my fancy and are traceable only by having passed by that way.

path-winding-graphic

Stray from the path and be the explorer; sail for the edge of the map; do so with a kindly spirit and merry wonderment. Strive to overcome prior training.

I am sure of a shrinking list of propositions, like efficiency, production, and patterned recipes for success. I am friendlier toward my imagination and what I make when I ask:  “What if I?”

It is alright to stray from the path in Art. Meander in concept and in practice raise the hackles of design.

Fine but how to do all this “straying” and “raising of hackles”?

I suggest give up excuses. Then, consider each new project as an adventure; one that you make. Eliminating excuses means you have to perform. Excuses hold Artists back. Replace excuses with being limitless.

Limitless

Being limitless means experiment, explore, and expand a given method. Re-focus design, methods, and propositions, or generating more “What if’s”. In short it means give up relying on: “I can’t.”

  • What other tools work? Inventive.
  • What am I truly seeing here? Adaptative.
  • What if this material or method were used as if it were…. [fill in the blank] Experimental.
  • Transfer one set of learning to a new problem. Thinking.
  • Make a new path. Keep your promises. Responsible
  • Instructions are guides not shackles. Authentic voice.
  • Personal experience is the real and the imagined. Placing You in the Design.
  • Starting over is strength. Purposeful.
  • Be thankful for serendipity. Happy accident or unconscious play.
  • Put the “you” into your Art. Make your art a production, featuring your authentic voice. Produce your Art.
  • Create your own projects. That is how you can be truly Expressive.

Becoming Limitless

Back to the allusion of getting from point A to point B in that straight line method of efficiency. In my design I intend to make point B because I can.

I Artist, Making the Foundation Good

 

I need some mercy on my soul
Right now–
Gimme what you got.

 

Why submit to fear?

  • Other people are counting on your fear. Your anxiety feeds them somehow. Maybe they can sense it on you.
  • That’s why clients are reluctant to pay. And why they ‘micro-manage’.
  • That’s why other Artists are salivating at their shot at what should have been yours.
  • Denying fear isn’t my suggestion. Face it. That maybe the best start. You’ll have to design the next steps.

Re-design yourself.

  • Jettison old bad habits. Heck, give yourself every break you deserve.
  • Have your work space ready for work. Pre-stage your materials.
  • Be ready to burst forth from the gate. Otherwise you’ve hobbled yourself to the ground and it’s 1:00 PM (1300 hours) and you’re staring at a blank some more.
  • Make a list. Do the list. Move forward.
  • Tell them you want more time, more money, more share. Then earn it.
  • Nothing is cheap, excellent, and on-time. Choose two. It’s a good guideline for yourself, for your studio, for us all, and for your clients

Carve out your productive time.

  • Know the cost you pay for every hour in your day. Same as with your rents, your materials, insurance, or any other cost. TIME IS MONEY.
  • Don’t put things off. I know creative people “procrastinate” but when you do, keep it on your project. If you’ve convinced yourself procrastinating puts you in a ‘highly pressurized zone where you do your best work” and that’s working for you. Okay with that. But, if that ‘highly pressurized zone’ is not where you’re getting you the results you want then, d’oh!
  • Manage your time. Work. Rest. Repeat.
  • Production is not equal to Perfect. Better done on-time than perfect.

Minimize distractions.

  • Clear out your calendar.
  • Set your phone aside for a while.

Put yourself into your work. After all it’s why the client, gallery, consumer, or peers chose us.

  • You and I may be unique but there are imitators and copy-cats
  • Only you can do what you do—and that involves being the first one in the door. After that you have to hope © and ™ will protect you.

Keep your promises.

  • Just no compromise here, okay! You don’t have enough treasure to buy a good reputation.
  • Climbing back up from that hole that is ‘broken promises’ or ‘he doesn’t care’ or what a lousy reputation is what was made by not keeping your promises.

If you fail, face it. Who said your should pretend to be super-human? Failure is when you quit. Don’t quit. You’ll never be super-human, okay?

  • Make the adjustments. Get back up. Go again.
  • Improve your work habits. Only you can over-come You.
  • Work so you can feel good about your project.
  • Create that energy, that excitement where you can’t wait to see what amazing Art you’re going to make today.

Take care of your body and your mind. Not an exhaustive list, but hey, work with it for your own life.

  • Rest & Work
  • Nourishment
  • Exercise
  • Cleanliness
  • Relationship time
  • Reflection time

No excuses.

  • Get back up if you fail. Put yourself into all your work.
  • Re-design yourself when needed. Improve your serve: Be your time manager. Don’t throw flexibility out the window. Limit distractions—close your studio for certain hours.
  • Be good to your word. Do what only you can do–produce your Art in a timely manner.
  • Stand up for yourself. Ask for more of everything you can.
  • You are the adult in charge of you. Own that.
  • Be a self-starter. Then do your Art until it is finished. And finished on time.

Better Done than Perfect

Better Done than Perfect.*

Never, never, never slop through a job. Do not abuse your audience or be-little them by thinking so little of them. Do your best work. The concept of “Done is better than Perfect” is a reward for people who can Finish a Thing. Never miss a deadline. It is a promise. It is your Word.

Live by your Word.

Or wither on the vine when you do not keep your Word.

 

bark-texture-study-monochrome-1-february-2016-2

Ink on paper from a reference. Beginning, middle, end.

 

* Perfection is over-rated. It’s the result of some sort of operant conditioning that turns good-natured  admonishment, “do your best”,  into an unattainable expectation. As such one’s performance is judged by an external jury with a subjective set of principles that as likely as not as an outcome to be like a death sentence placed upon the poor sot who “attempted to do the work but missed the mark”.

The root cause of this over-rating of Perfection  is even perhaps the Poor Training of teachers to expect perfection of others and to try to enforce it as a matter of Will on others whilst incapable in the first place of their own perfection.

Given all types of “behavioral objectives” and “performance metrics” in myriad volumes of ‘how-to-teach’ books perfection is still a brick savagely applied to the temple of creative individuals’ skulls.

Perfection is a Set up to Fail, or worse to never Begin, or worse even yet, to never Finish anything.

Mallory, First Year Teacher, Makes a Chair

Colorful Chair

Mallory you are already extra-ordinary as first year teacher in a new school– that kind of new as in it has just been built new. How do I know you are already exceptionally impressive, because you are seeking to make your own brand, something recognizable and memorable, and most telling, your trademark has meaning.

You looked at me and started the conversation with a question, “Are you a painter?”

I was in the art supply part of a big box store. I had brushes and paints in my basket.

I thought, being a painter is what I used to hear around the holiday dinner table when the folks referred to how someone in the family earned their daily bread. I smiled at the old-timey reference.

I said, “I am an artist.”

“That’ll do.” You were emphatic and asked me about painting a chair.

Painting a chair? A 3-D chair you sit on or one in a painting?

You smiled that teacher smile. You are good, very good.

You wanted your classroom chair to be special, to stand out. It was a rescue from a thrift store and you knew you could make it sparkle.

Why?

Because you will love what you will be doing, teaching, so much in a chair that is full of colors and shapes. It will engage the students’ imagination. It will also make a statement that the learning space is a special space. Therefore, you pupils must be so special too.

It’ll give you a certain dignity too.

Dignity and charm, two good allies for those who dare to teach others.

Mallory, I see you sitting on a stage in your special colorful chair in fifty-years surrounded by your pupils and former pupils. They will be honoring you for your service as a fantastic teacher, a role model of the highest quality.

You will begin your speech recounting your years as a teacher by telling your admiring audience, “Let me tell you about my chair and how I made it.”

You will tell them about your fabulous chair and your extraordinary life.

And they will marvel at you all the more.

I am pleased I was able to marvel at you when we had our brief conversation and how we searched for just the right colors for your chair. I enjoyed your vision and your ideas. How creative you are.

Thank you, Mallory. You touched something in my soul.

Art is a Verb

Recently I heard a critical response to a fellow artist’s use of some vintage wood in a design. They used 100 year-old wood in their art which was deemed a “waste” by the responder.

lumber4

 

I wish only to explore what “stops the creative process” at this point.

Why was it a waste to use that rare wood?

“If the wood could be used in a more ‘worthy’ application, then it would be a proper use of the material.”  If the wood were made into a fine altar piece or carved doors to a crypt, then it would be something more notable.

Nope.

I wonder in this manner sometimes when I make something new, even one-of-a-kind piece from found objects. Certainly few recycled things I have come a provenance or even an estimation of age. None are any sort of rare things other than they had been “lost”, they piqued my interest, and I re-defined them.

Paint remaining in tubes for fear of waste might deter me if I allowed. The costs of paper, canvas, and brushes do frighten me when I order materials.

But, what if I do not get “it” right?

Do I feel guilty when I fail the materials and decide to start over? Does starting over prove I am un-wise?

Nope and nope.

If every time I failed I stopped the process and cleaned up the materials and placed everything back where it belongs and quit I have only accomplished only an exercise in studio cleaning, and turning off the lights.

Do I fail often?

Yep.

I simply begin again, almost out of reflex. I have yet to understand why starting over is such a “horrid consequence”, a waste. [I’m thinking maybe also stay ahead of deadlines, because missing them qualifies as a “horrid consequence”.]

Why is “waste” such a driving concept?

I think it is rooted in fear of failing. If I mess up this cut, then I’ve ‘ruined’ a piece of 100 year-old wood and the wasting wood cops are sitting in a van outside.

Yep, it is the same with anyone who might mess up vintage lumber or a box of nails.

If the piece of  100 year-old wood rests on the shelf for another hundred years perhaps it will be a buffet for termites.

If and if and if must end. It stops the creative process.

Art is verb, it is about doing.

Art Maketh the Man

Sometimes a person needs another person to be whole. The sweet life.

One more round of billiards is a cool end to the weekend. Fine good friends.

Run one more mile before calling it a workout. Stick to it.

Nail bent1

That won’t do.

Art requires much of me. On one side,  I am filling my notebook with reminders to correct errors. In that book I record the blunders, the almost-but-not-good-enoughs, all the lessons I am learning are in there. “That’s one for the Notebook” is a common phrase around me.

I started over each time.  Ate the mistakes, went around the breakdowns, and overcame the log-jams.

That is design. The stylish well-pressed clothes and perfect hair under the lights, well, that is glamour. I hope someone else is paying for that.

On the other side, I am stocking my toolbox with tools that will help me to continuously improve over time, every day.

Attitude is part of my tool box, it is a mental process of improvement. Improvement makes me more efficient and less likely to blunder (so much).

The Fundamentals have been banged in to me from first memories:

  • Show up to work
  • Do the Beginning
  • Stick to it through the Middle
  • Be there for the End
  • Turn out the lights, day is done

Marketing is essential, but I must have something to trade on, something to grasp someone’s imagination and I must communicate clearly and simply.

 

Nails Just Right1

Just right, those nails have held well.

Talk is cheap. I must rock my art.

That is why I work every day. Art makes sense that way to me or else it is a hobby. Nothing sideways about that, go for it if that is your gig.

Art is my Fire.

Art makes me whole.

 

If you would like to comment feel free.  I usually respond within 24-hours during the week. 

I Artist, Sometimes I Open the Box

Cigar Box of Inspiration left flip1

Urban archaeology: A find whilst junking. It was under a 1964 scrapbook.

 

The following good questions are about “how ideas originate”. And my, with hope, helpful attempt to give a “full” but direct answer. These are perennial questions. I like them. I wonder too. I should never get tired of hearing them because they are wonder questions. How does one go from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’?

 Q: So, what inspires you?

A: What does and what does not.

Example: Doodles do inspire me. Being part of rush hour does not inspire me , which is a personal epistemological squib.

 

Q: Where do you get ideas?

A: By thinking.

 

Q: What was the most recent time you were inspired?

 Short

A : Today, when I looked inside an old cigar box.

Long 

A: I scrounged a fifty-year old cigar box with a few pencils inside. I sharpened a blunted stump of a scared and pitted half-inch round  red pencil. I doodled with it in a scrap paper practice pad I keep handy. Then I got excited with the doodle and now it is going to be a color drawing.

So, the most recent time I was inspired was today, when I looked inside an old cigar box. I wondered if any of those vintage pencils still worked.

At least one of them did still work.