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.

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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.

The Art of Human

Coffee Cup

I received a invitation call to meet someone.  I know the individual because we are in a loose group of Art workers.

When we met the guy fidgeted and hardly made eye contact while my cinnamon buns and black coffee disappeared. Days come with only so many minutes. Mine were ticking away.

The brown bag on the table must have appeared when I looked at my iPhone.

I ignored the bag.

The conversation went one sided, his way.

The guy asked me if I forgave easily.

Depends, I replied followed by a little more coffee.

At that moment I thought he had stopped breathing. He was building up to something. I have distaste for that sort of suspense. It does not go well with pastry.

He spoke a bit at a time. He had done something with one of my Art pieces.

Oh, here we go.

On purpose he snagged one of my ‘free art’ pieces.

Yeah, Buddy and then what?

And he hacked it.

He had his copy of my work in the bag.

It was shocking. He did a better “me” than I did. I told him so.

That’s Art. It happens all the time, just never so face-to-face.

He breathed. He smiled. He is also a better person than I am.

Now I know how to claim some of that “soul clearance” that comes with closure, confession, if you like.

I told him up front I intended to copy him.

I am looking forward to an interesting future.

Produce Art

It is fine to describe my work to others using verbs. Artists are people. We’re into artistic production; we bring ‘stuff’ forward, into the real world from the imagination. We produce.

  • I sculpt.
  • I create.
  • I design.
  • I paint.

If the conversation goes beyond a one syllable response, “Oh,” the follow-up question, if I get that far, is:

  • What sort of sculptor?
  • What do you paint? What type of painting?
  • Let me see your stuff?
  • Why have I never heard of you?
  • No way? You? Making things?

Next, I receive their advice, “Isn’t it wiser to focus on one sort of Art?”

  • I answer, “I produce results with my Art whatever my materials happen to be at the time.”
  • So you’re a Producer. They are convinced I’m in the movie business.

So the conversation switches to the script they’ve written. It’s pretty good. A mystery.

And I listen. Because I owe them one.

Footprints in sand

Make something with materials at hand

Achievement and Improvement

Bicyclist

Achievement starts with being pretty good, even producing pretty good Art. In that manner of thinking a person is already a success, a known quantity, being pretty good. But what sort of success?

As I remember learning to ride a bicycle, success lies fundamentally in making allowance for the person in their chosen activity shins and elbows notwithstanding.

From being pretty good the daily practice, hours of effort, the inevitable stops all make new beginnings  more readily undertaken. We must really, really want to ride a bicycle to achieve it.

Before long you’re sailing along, “ready,steady, go”.  The bumps and bruises are what make an interesting person of you.

What a boring endeavor Art would be without stops and new beginnings.

A Lesson of Daisies

At a children’s’ education center the theme for the visitors on the day I tagged along was “Plants”.

The theme rooms were full of displays, art, and the “science” section was tricked out with learning centers about plant growth, photosynthesis, and the life cycle of plants.

The learning centers immediately grabbed the focus of the young smiling  visitors. They read the question cards and wrote answers using stubby pencils.

Those developing scholars with 100% correct answers were given a long-stem rosebud and if the learners gave any incorrect answers the attendants gave them a fancy carnation.

Now you might think, “Well done creating a class system among youngsters.” Here are my observations.

When a child returned to the learning center and tried another question and succeeded they received a daisy to go with their carnation.

007

Daisies, acrylic on cedar panel.

Those who tried again had a fist full of flowers; even those who had initially received a rose went back until all the flowers were given out.

The class presented their flowers as a group bouquet to their teachers.

I was told the outcomes from the student’s performance may vary from day to day, if things went better today than yesterday so much the better. What the children learned every day and reported to their teachers and to their parents was for them the most fun was to play and to do as well as possible and to like your friends.

When I have a formidable problem or when my designs somehow miss the mark, I will go back for a do-over to do as well as possible and to like my friends.

I will remember the daisies.