For the Love of Art….

monk   photo 5 (3)   monks

Photos from my trip to Singapore, included here as a humble reference honoring my imaginary art Buddha.mantwo   photo 4 (3)

In the slaughterhouse of love they kill only the best, none of the weak or deformed. Don’t run away from this dying. Whoever’s not killed for love is dead meat. – RUMI, 12th century poet

First let me say this – HUH??? I have no idea what caused the spike in my stats yesterday and today but I like it – after 150 posts and a lot of fun, I was still not getting enough traffic. I am clueless – maybe someone else knows why I suddenly jumped the charts, but I don’t. I suspect a glitch in the record keeping of some kind….we all know that WordPress can do crazy stuff sometimes. If it is indeed a real phenomenon that increased my viewership then thanks from the bottom of my heart. I needed that. I am passionate about art – and I write for the love of my art and yours. I am so grateful for your attention.

It is almost the end of August and I am looking forward to a great Labor Day weekend. I have plans. Always flexible and always spontaneous, yes, but I do have some specific plans which can altered and enhanced along the way if need be. I do not plan to paint this weekend. I reworked 3 old paintings last week and made them sing again. I feel like that was a huge accomplishment. I totally ignored the YLC……but not really…..

I made a rogue decision about the YLC – the year long canvas. (See my archives for the whole crazy story with pictures if you have no idea what I am referring to – briefly it is an assignment from my advanced contemporary abstract painting  instructor, whom I admire very much, for me to work on one particular painting on and off for an entire year. Constantly adding new things, covering up some older things, taking it along a path of evolutionary change….and this painting of mine is just 6 months into that challenge.) As I wrote a couple blogs ago I am happy with the painting as it is right now – so happy in fact that I have decided to enter it into a large Denver gallery show. Yes I have decided to do that even though the painting is just halfway through its year and of course it will change again…. It’s a juried show, so my YLC might not be juried in, and I am gritting my teeth, putting my open self right out there with this entry and I will share the results with you – and I am not fond of rejection – so if the painting is not accepted then I will lick my wounds in front of a large audience and just take it home and continue to work on it. If it is accepted then it will be for sale, of course, and I run the risk of someone wanting to buy it. So I have to be willing to sell it and bring the entire project to a splendid, kind of fireworks-like conclusion. The price? I have not decided but it will be based upon my comparable work, in size and complexity, that I have sold before.

Why do this? Because I like to shake things up – I am an art adventurer, a risk taker, a constantly curious live-in-the-moment kind of person and I am anxious to see what happens. You know the art Buddha would be proud of this squirrely move. He would smile and nod and his eyes would twinkle with delight. He loves moves like this, but of course he makes no predictions and he is fine with whatever happens because it is all just another lesson in the life of an artist. There is no failure, there is only enlightenment. There is only the love of the doing. The enormous passion in the act of creating. And only the strong survive.

As we near the opening of the show I will keep you informed, provide some links, tell you where, etc – but I will be delivering my entries next week – yes I will be entering at least 2 pieces, maybe 3.

Wish me love and luck, OK?

 

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The Surprise of the Familiar with the YLC

 

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Before – Almost the very beginning of the YLC, and the NOW version

My esteemed art instructor, Homare Ikeda of the Denver Art Students League, said a startling thing one afternoon as we all gathered around to hear his thoughts. He said something so obvious that it took my breath away. Without quoting his exact words, but close, he said that every painting that you will ever do is already inside of you. You just need to find it, to get to it, and reveal it to the world. Sort of the same idea as when Michelangelo said that when he sculpted he was just chipping away the outside marble to find the angel inside. If you believe all that, as I most assuredly do, then creating is a search, digging deep to find the essence.

One of the most effective exercises you can perform, as an artist or writer or general creator of things is to walk away from your current work in progress and leave it alone for a while. Forget about it. Take a vaca. Dwell on other things. Stop the momentum and rest. Whether this is done in frustration from being “stuck” or just because you are getting weary and your miserable self needs refreshing, it is almost always a beneficial thing to do. Don’t do it when you are “in flow” and hot on the trail of something big, of course. Do it when things get a little rough around the edges and you are feeling battle fatigue, and your search for the essence is difficult.

Of course this is the basic principle behind the Year Long Canvas project which I am only 6 months into at his point. It is a forced exercise in walking away and calming things down so that you can walk back into it and “see it again for the first time.” That “seeing” is supposed to reveal what should be done next. Sometimes an instantaneous action comes to me – other times it takes a bit of study to discover what action would be an enhancement – because of course enhancing the painting is what I am supposed to do. I don’t want to do something to it that bombs it right back into the artistic stone ages. This painting that has become such a weird part of my life. This painting that I sort of love at times, like right now, but that I may hate on some other day. This painting that haunts my thoughts. This part of me, slowly being uncovered from deep inside.

The final version of the YLC is absolutely inside me waiting to be revealed. My challenge is to coincide the finding of it with the end of its year. That seems a bit forced to me – what if I find its final version long before that day comes? Maybe the one year birthday of this painting will happen sooner, as much a contradiction as that is. Will I have the courage to refuse to go on, taking control of its destiny and making the decision to stop? Is that Good Karma or Bad? What would the art Buddha say?

Hangin’ With the Creative Ones

And what an awesome tribe it is! ;)

Seldom have I written one blog so closely on the heels of the previous one, as a follow up, but here we go….since I seem to have struck a very good nerve with yesterday’s post.

Creative people always have new insights and alternatives that no one else thought of. And we really don’t know for sure where they come from. Yet it is such a simple, basic  concept; and the most obvious way of spotting a more creative thinker. How many times have you been involved in a conversation with a person, or a group of people where someone is struggling with a decision in which some choices, some alternatives, must be weighed and considered so that the right  decision can be made – and yet that person believes the decision must be made at the exclusion of all the other viable and even desirable choices? I see that a lot – people believing that one choice must trump all others and that valuable sacrifices have to be made to achieve the major goal. Well that is just crazy.

For many years I saw myself as only an artist – I thought that my constant desire to write would dilute the art pursuit, lesson my attention to it and even diminish it. As I matured I discovered that I had a book or even a half dozen books inside me shouting for my attention, and I began to say to myself, “If not now, when?” I said to me, “What in the hell is your excuse not to write? Do you want to stifle this urge for the rest of your life?” OH! You mean that painting thing you do….well just maybe the writing would actually enhance the art and vice versa. I had to try it and it worked. The two passions in my life dovetail perfectly and have each become better for the union. The  two are so much alike, and one feeds the other in a constant loop of inspiration. Miraculously there is a little space left in my mind for other stuff too – I still have time to read, exercise, eat some food once in a while, sleep  and have some fun in addition. What a surprise. Imagine that.

You could say I had an epiphany – one of my favorite subjects. My second book, THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY – Gifted Minds, Grand Realizations is the result of my own epiphany breakthrough. I have had many life-changing epiphanies in my life, and I learned a long time ago that if you ignore the little message coming to you from your subconscious, you will regret it later. It will come back louder and more often until it is red-faced, wild-eyed and literally screaming and spitting at you to listen!! So be aware and open to inner voices. They always tell the truth and they always have your best interests at heart, because they are from the soul. Your soul. Like a pipeline of the truth, coming from where the truth really lives.

Many creative people have had such revelations. I believe we all, as human beings, have in common the potential to tap into the messages coming from our higher self, our inner voice, our soul – whatever you choose to call it – but few exercise that ability on a steady basis except the more creative ones. We often feel that we are actually channeling our creative gifts from beyond, and that our creative breakthroughs come to us from outside our own consciousness. There are many books on this subject. People call that phenomenon being in the flow. You could read the book FLOW  – the psychology of optimal experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi published by Harper for more information.

In the meantime, you can also surround yourself with creative people who think beyond the normal scope of things. Yes, everyone calls it outside the box but even that is limiting. I believe that highly creative people are in tune with the universe.

Creative Thinking

 

  

photo of RUMI courtesy of: spiritualnotreligious.blogspot   Rumi art from glad.is

You know by now that I find many words of wisdom in the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi – a man who was born in the year 1207 in Afghanistan, which was at that time a part of the Persian Empire.  ( Just as a frame of reference, time-wise, the year that Michelangelo began painting the Sistine Chapel was 1511. ) Until the age of 37 Rumi was a brilliant scholar and teacher. His life changed dramatically when he came to know a wise, wandering man who was a dervish. Shams of Tabriz became a god to Rumi and with their friendship, for Rumi, there came a new kind of spiritual enlightenment.

One of my all time favorite quotes from Rumi is this, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

I have several of my own interpretation of that sentence, found by applying it to various situations. I will allow you to have yours….but I can assure you that the intent of the quote, coming from Rumi, can only be  good and purely spoken. It seems that no matter what my needs are at any given time for a meaningful quotation, I only need to open my Rumi book and one or more appropriate ones appear to me. His words are timeless.

I can absolutely apply this quote philosophically to life, to love, to any number of human conditions, to painting, or to any kind of creative endeavor. Simply put, it says that you must think outside the box and that there are no rights or wrongs in creativity, no mistakes, only the doing that comes with inspiration.

People always want to have creativity defined. Well that can’t be precisely done. There are so many aspects and variations and manifestations and incarnations of it that after a while it becomes lime green jello. But I would imagine that creative people – the most creative people – have a few things in common. Things both you and I have observed – not really mysterious things at all. Early indicators of exceptional creativity in young children include an extraordinary descriptive vocabulary, an attention to detail and laser focus not always found in small children, early reading, constant questions, taking things apart, risk taking, a love of adventure, building collections of beloved specimens and treasures such as bugs or stones, and endlessly searching for new ideas.

Creative ones of any age read a lot – voraciously. They challenge existing ideas. They are gifted beyond the norm with many talents; along with that goes an advanced intellectual ability and a higher IQ.  Therefore they can see or imagine multiple perspectives and they are always learning. They are generally quite imaginative, unusually curious, and in the time-worn phrase, they constantly think outside the box. They see the world in a unique way. They are less concerned with making mistakes and they acknowledge little wrongdoing – in fact there are no mistakes, only learning experiences.

I suppose creative thinkers can also be narcissistic,  eccentric in the extreme, endlessly amusing and  somewhat crazy but that discussion is for another time. That crowd is still out partying and have not come home yet.

Rumi says, “Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street. I took it as a sign to start singing, falling up into the bowl of sky.”

YLC Flips and Fades to Funky Black

 

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copyright 2014 untitled,  Year Long Canvas, by Jo Ann Brown-Scott

Hello again in mid-August – I have once more done some major work on my Year Long Canvas project and it is a shocker this time. First of all I was tired of the horizontal routine so I flipped her to orient her vertically and she  immediately presented new possibilities for me. …working from all directions is a very good thing. In my humble opinion, these changes today are the most pivotal and transformative changes yet.

Could be a coincidence, the reason for the dark drama – we are going to the Denver Botanic Gardens concert tonight, picnic dinner and wine in tow, and the headliner is none other than the marvelous B B King. I am feeling all bluesy and funky and that means you must not interpret the black as a depressing twist – quite the opposite. I am feeling kinda jazzy, kinda sexy, to tell you the truth. That happens you know….and the art reveals everything if you know the code of the artist. Artists speak in tongues – difficult to decipher, but the general mood is often rather apparent, especially if you are familiar with the work of the artist. You can find clues. You know by now, if you have been following my art journey, that in my artistic language the color black is very seldom, if ever, a sign of negativity. I use it for drama, strength, focus and sometimes for the kinds of music I love. The kind that makes you want to swing and groove to the move.

The YLC is going to B B King tonight, one way or another. It is also, miraculously, the night of the SUPER MOON, and so the painting incorporates that. We hope it does not rain…but if it does we will simply get wet and linger on. B B will be under an awning, thankfully, and so the music will continue and in the words of the song, the thrill will not be gone for us……in fact it just keeps getting better.

The Art Game – not for the faint of heart

 

 photo courtesy of larryvillephotos.blogspot.com

Who am I, standing in the midst of this thought-traffic?  – RUMI

The life of an artist is like being a one-armed paper hanger or a one-man band or someone who herds house cats. Anyone who still believes that an artist passes the days squirreled away in some romantic, sort of melancholy, splattered-up loft studio, sipping wine and adding a brush stroke here or a swipe there is sadly misinformed. Here in the 21st century, life has changed so dramatically that you would scarcely recognize it as being a quality life for the professional fine artist. It is rather chaotic, and requiring multi-tasking and laser focus. It can make you crazy.

With the evolution of the computer we artists have absorbed a relatively nano-second-ish,  lightening speed change in the way we do business. With digital imagery, social networking for marketing purposes, website maintenance, the need to write newsletters & blogs, keeping a database of clients on  spread-sheets, writing our own resumes, bios, mission statements, self-publishing brochures and invitations, then photographing and cataloging our work, cutting matts, framing our work, seeking gallery representation, shipping art and transporting it to and from shows, recording sales, bookkeeping and paying our quarterly taxes…..well you get the picture. A much smaller percentage of time is left in the day to relax and paint. In many ways it is easier to do all this than it has ever been – and in other ways it has become increasingly more and more complicated. The tasks have widened, deepened and intensified instead of narrowing and being more focused. Today’s artists can no longer afford to just paint; not that they ever could; and few to none are able to afford an art rep. And NOW! OMG there is mucho competition out there, and unless you can run with the wolves you will be trampled and forgotten. With all the ways to communicate now, an artist is constantly bombarded with the images of the others, the wolves winning the race. An artist can stay aware of everything else out in the marketplace and even make adjustments, if he/she is flexible within his particular genre, to what is more trendy and marketable if that is what he/she desires….  Or if he/she wants to stay totally off the beaten path, then at least he also knows what the beaten path is doing at the moment so he can travel against it. Never before has the world seen so much about what the rest of the world is up to. Ignorance is no longer an excuse for any single thing.

An artist has got to be clever. And very efficient. Organized. Charismatic, great with the public, charming, funny and able to speak well about what he does and why. Technologically savvy. A marketing genius. A true salesperson. Gone forever are the days when an artist got away with silent sulking, being disheveled and drooling, a cigarette hanging just off the lip, obtuse and inarticulate, not to mention solitary, antisocial and in need of personal grooming…. I can’t say these days that we are all polished up poster children for the perfectly put together artist in the 21st century, but we do generally look different now – almost like downtown city business people who are just dressed a little off. We are better now than ever, just still odder than most.

And that is how we like it. For god’s sake let us at least hang on to that, OK?

The Year Long Canvas Welcomes August

YLCAUG1The YLC, still dripping wet with a new cool wash of turquoise. copyright 2014 Jo Ann Brown-Scott – zoom in for greater detail

Today it was time again – my inner art Buddha winked and smiled and indicated he wanted to meet me in the studio this afternoon and see some evolution on his friend the YEAR LONG CANVAS – affectionately known as the YLC. The incessant rains have stopped – it is about 80 degrees and sunny and I have a lovely weekend ahead….so I thought I would honor his pure and simple request and squeeze in some new work on the canvas. Seemed like a good Karma kind of day to me.

Have any of you read the book titled Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo?

A sort of grumpy man finds it necessary to make a road trip due to family concerns, and through an odd set of circumstances he finds that his traveling companion is a Buddhist Monk, the last person in the world he would like to be confined with in a car for several days of driving. The Monk is enigmatic, smiling, fascinating…much like the Dahli Lama…and nearly silent except for asking his driver the question that opened both mind and soul, “Why so angry?” What follows is a long yet simple conversation about the meaning of life, continued over several days of driving.

visit http://www.rolandmerullo.com

I am not an angry person, and that is precisely the point of so many things in my life. I forgave everyone and chose to forget the worst of things over the years. The lack of anger explains the vibrant color in my art, my almost constant smile and tendency to be light-hearted and free-spirited. And it certainly goes a long way toward understanding how in the world I can continue to adhere to this crazy assignment of working on one canvas for a whole year. I guess the secret lies in not taking it all too seriously or too personally. I got far less seriously involved with the YLC when summer came and I could relax more and let go of the simmering urge to hurl it through a window.

This YLC needed cooling off today – she needed a wash of my mother’s favorite color of blue and she needed a lot of wetness – she is still glossy and drying in the photo. I am also inclined now to turn this painting in a vertical direction – just because I am weary of painting it horizontally. So when she dries I will probably proceed to the next step after rotating her so that the large round ball of red-orange is in the bottom left of the canvas. Let’s see what happens then!