Saturday, May 26, 2007

interpol - leif erikson (live)

Interpol= Pure Gold!!

I feel like I might be taking the easy way out with my blog this week, but I wanted to share my favorite band Interpol with you all. I am fortunate enough to be able to go see them next week in Dallas, so they are heavy on my mind. This band's music has inspired me and in a way, this band woke me up from a deep boring sleep. I listen to them almost exclusively when I paint.

It is wonderful to be introduced to something that has influenced me in such a way and has given me new hope for the world, my life, and the work I am doing. Sounds a bit over the top- huh?

Well, lets hope there is something out there waiting for you to discover, that makes you feel over the top and truly inspired!

Friday, May 18, 2007

When the Muse calls...

I am sleeping soundly and then I hear a sound, or I have a weird dream or the cat walks across my face, and I am jolted from sleep. Most of the time, I wake up for a second and then return to dreaming.

Sometimes there are those nights where the sound/dream/cat is just a catalyst for something much greater. Some nights, I wake up so clear, and I lie there thinking I could if I really try- go right back to sleep, but I could get up and go paint even though it is one or two in the morning. My inner voice chimes in "normal people don't get up now- it would be so much easier just to lie here until I fall asleep again- right?" Then I get thinking even more, what if I really moved, and my feet found the floor, and my hands found my painting clothes, and I put it all together and started up to the studio. What paintings might be born in the middle of the night if I took a chance...oh yeah... that is the voice of the muse and I better listen...

When I find myself walking up the steps to my studio, then it starts to get fun. I made it! I broke free from normal habit and inertia, tonight is going to be special and out of the ordinary. Whatever happens is going to be good now- I feel like a kid prowling around the house when everyone is sleeping. The whole town is sleeping, and I am up. It feels rebellious and magical all at once. I heard the call and I answered...Victory!

I turn on the lights to my studio and the even the light seems better when it is dark outside my windows. I think "why don't I paint at 2 in the morning all the time" - I then realize this time wouldn't feel half as special if I did. I put my headphones on and disappear into the music. It is so refreshing being awake in the middle of the night, thoughts swirl around my head while I dive head first into choosing the right blue, the perfect burnt orange, finding the pencil, and then the sharpener. I jump into the colors, textures, and shapes. I think about friend's birthdays, new babies, and my husband's upcoming trip away, the sounds outside, the way the street light makes the treetops glow. I think about the sweet music in my ears, the perfect lyric, all of these thoughts and sensations guide me forward as I work, and maneuver through the painting, solving the little problems that come up as I go.

Time moves by quickly, and I am not tired. I feel such a sense of accomplishment, I am fueling my own fire, and paintings are emerging with ease. When I realize that I am feeling satisfied with my progress for this session, and the 29 songs that I wanted to listen to are over, I play a few extras just finish things up. I prop up my new works, some having been finished in this time, some are just emerging, but they are all here, the way they are in this moment because I answered the call.

The idea that a different decision could have altered their existence completely rolls around in my head, if I had rolled over and slept- these paintings before me would not exist. How many of my paintings don't exist because in the past I did choose sleep. Or, do they stay somewhere, hidden until the Muse is strong enough and I am clear enough to hear the call. Then are the paintings actualized?

So, the next time you are awake in the dark, is it a bump in the night or is it the Muse calling?

And will you answer?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rituals Surrounding Creativity.

When it comes to painting, I have several "rituals" that have never let me down.

At first I didn't even recognize them as rituals, but the more I thought about it, I realized that I did have a set of practices that helped me in my creativity. You may also. I think it is important to figure out what fills you up and enhances your creative process so that when you hit a dry spell you know where to turn to get that needed jump start...

So, I want to share what works for me:

1. Sleep

Sleep is a huge help, and we are talking good quality sleep. Even a nap will work. When I am feeling bogged down or stuck I ask for my dreams to reveal answers to any problems that may be hindering my creative process. Half the time a painting or flashes of paintings will come to mind, and let me know what direction to head next. Sometimes just an inspiring dream will help, like your own private art film.

2. Early Morning Creative Time

Also, for my personal creative rhythm, I know that I like to create early in the morning when I first wake up, before I have talked with anyone, or driven anywhere, or heard any news. The sleep and the dreams are close with me, and help me to tap into my creative unconscious.


I have certain types of music that I create to, for example when I paint I listen to music that is dreamy, introspective, and that resonates with me deeply. I connect to the musicians creativity and that comes out in my art. Music I love to paint to: Brian Eno, Moby, Radiohead, Talking heads, and my all time favorite painting music is Interpol. I listen on headphones and enter into another world....

4. Yoga

I know that for me when I am doing yoga a couple of times a week, I am more clear and centered, and in general feel better about everything. The yoga helps me be in touch with my body, and gets me out of my head where I reside most of the time. I am always rewarded by my paintings when I am practicing yoga.

5. Writing

Julia Cameron's popular book the Artist Way has a section on "morning pages." I practiced this exercise for a long time, and I too found it immensely helpful. Somehow, just spilling all the junk that clouds your mind into three pages really helps to tap in to your creativity. It is nice to let go and just write about the mundane clutter such as "how dirty the house is, how you need to return a call, the dog needs to go the vet, whats for dinner blah blah..." stream of consciousness purge.

6. Nature

Just taking a walk around the park, looking at some flowers, going to a creek or a lake, nature is such a creative life force, all the colors, shapes, and smells, it is like a museum that you have access to all the time.

7. Movies

There are days when it is not happening, I can't quite motivate to paint and I need to kick back and receive some inspiration. This the perfect time to watch a movie about an artist or just an inspiring movie that is artfully done. Some of my favorites in this category are: Basquiat, Pollock, and Frida. I also love Jonathon Demme films for this purpose too, Something Wild and the Talking Heads Stop Making Sense are favorites. Stealing Beauty, by Bernardo Bertolucci is another, I love the way the characters in the movie live in the Italian country side as well as the interesting sculptures the main character makes. I love Hal Hartley films too, especially Surviving desire, it is beautiful, and poetic, like watching a stage play. There are so many inspirational films, but this isn't a film column so I must stop...

I just wanted to remind you that there are so many wonderful ways to keep your creative juices flowing. These are just some of the ways I "connect" in order to create.

When you catch yourself in a productive creative cycle- What are you doing? Do you have rituals that keep you going? Take note of these, find patterns, and remember when the well is dry to fill it again... You know where to go for the water...

Friday, May 4, 2007

Getting your Art out there...

So, as you know I started calling myself an artist, and I and everyone else started to take me more seriously. I was getting in a few juried shows around town locally, and putting up my art on the windows of abandoned store fronts and inside bathroom stalls with the Rebel Artist Collective.

I had my sink by then and I was painting a lot more. I needed to get focused and make some kind of move... I read the papers for any new galleries or opportunities, and I kept reading books about art marketing.. I felt like I was getting ready for a show even though I had none on the horizon, but I was clearly painting a body of work. But, how would I get this work out there- to a gallery, a coffee shop, to a buyer...

First Move: I took some pictures of my work with the help of my husband( yes, folks you are going to need some help- so ask for it) and made little portfolios. I was still going the old school route so we used slide film and we would just prop the work outside to get good light. I had the slides made into prints and hand cropped out everything in the background with a paper cutter. I went to the dollar store and bought these small photo albums, the coolest ones I could find. I put my work in them with labels telling the size, medium, year, and price. I glued one of my home made business cards to the front. Shazam! I then had about 10 mini portfolios that I could whip out anywhere to show people my work.

So, the message here is...1) they weren't the best pictures and they weren't done with a fancy digital camera ( but they didn't have a cat or tree in the background either) 2) I didn't spend money on nice black portfolio- I spent a buck and I made it work the best I could. 3) It provided easy, instant access to my work for whoever was interested 4)I provided my contact information in the book in case I left it with someone. 5)It was cheap enough for me to make that if I didn't get it back that was fine.

I also typed up my resume, and my statement and gave that out with the book. One day, I went to Tulsa to visit some galleries, and feeling really brave,I offered up my little homespun book to several of them. Some galleries thought the prices were too low, some weren't looking for artists to represent, and then one asked if they could keep my book on file....

Several months later the gallery that kept my book on file sent me a letter saying that my request for a solo show had been granted and they were looking forward to showing my work!!
I didn't know that I had even asked for a show- but I was thrilled beyond reason. So, pull your work together anyway you can and go for it. Risk making some mistakes.

Did I make some mistakes... Yes- dropping in on a gallery and pedaling your wares is a big no-no. Do them and yourself a favor and call first, introduce yourself, and ask them if they are accepting submissions to their gallery. This will make you stand out from all the artists who wander in with a portfolio or an actual painting for the gallery owners to look at.

Does it always have to be a CD of images or a slick presentation to get noticed? No, present your work the way only you can, to the best of your ability, and clearly labeled with your contact information, and most importantly hold your head up high and call first! You can do this!