Art, Getting Busy

There are those days when someone passes by me whilst I’m at my drawing pad and exclaims, “I can do that!”

graphite-cat-wary

Graphite on card stock

I smile and keep drawing. After about a second, because I don’t want to lose the moment, I give them a pad and some pencils.

“Oh, no I couldn’t.”

But you just said your could. Give yourself this little gift, this precious time. Draw!

Some of the materials I favor are readily available at most office supply shops or even pharmacies. I chose them for that reason–wide availability.

Among my supplies I have A4 (8.5 x 11)  paper in white and a few colors, some A6 (4 x 6) plain index card stock, a few color pencils, #2 pencils, and blank journal books.

Then I scoop up my satchel and get busy.

I can do that.

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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.

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.

 

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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.

A Second Look

V-8 Blue & Red 1

A photograph shows clearly what I needed to do.

Taking the Second Look™

By fortunate accident I found a way to find out what needs my attention in a painting. I call it the Second Look™.

It takes some form of “taking a step back” practice to get my critical eye on the piece. Sometimes three steps back will give me a better perspective.

Other times I use various lenses to get a close up to better determine how I can make my work better. When I am unsure of what the “problem is” that is getting stuck. Stopped trying to determine what needs to be “corrected”. Time is valuable.

Preparing photographs of several pieces in progress showed me immediately and very clearly what was in need of “fixing”.

I trust my senses but also realise I can be misled.

So I darkened the shading on the inside right arm of the “V”. That is the first improvement.

My improvements began with taking a photograph.

It may take more than two “looks” to get this piece to its optimal representation.

Any project can be one more for the “finished” category or it can remain “a work in progress”. It is not a good feeling to have a lot of unfinished panels to finish.

Getting “it done” is a great feeling. It makes getting back to work every day a joy.

Surprise! A Second Look helped me to see what I needed to improve.

Improve every day.

 

Smiles, I Artist

The obligation attached to being an Artist is to make things. Take something and make something else. I like collage in this way because it gives something different from the original materials.

Fish Fossil 1

Just “different” is not enough.  Only to a certain extent do I “know” what I am making. I received a lot of encouragement over the years, however, I still hear, “What’s that mess going to be?” I typed the words but not the quote, because it was not so easy on the eyes.

Girl with green case 1

I gave up on what I was working on, even on Art more times than not. I had many un-finished drawings, ailing canvases, and un-used materials.  I put it up to impatience, but it was the message about the “mess” that came through later, without many smiles.

Now that is not so much the case. Now I power through the “comments” people make at classes or out in the public or when I share a sketch book with someone who is curious.

I usually hole up in the studio or somewhere private to draw.  I took some inspiration from allies and took the minimal kit to a public spot and drew.

“What’s that you’re doing? You’re an artist!” Now I’m surrounded by seven to eleven-year old people craning to see into my books and wanting to see more.

Aldo iPhone unflipped

The more of my drawings I show them the more they are delighted. They smile a lot, all the way up into their eyes.

Now I sort of know what Art I’m making.

I’m making Smiles.

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.

 

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