Back Again With the Year Long Canvas, 10/22/2014

  

photos courtesy of travelmag.com and pinterest.com

Pearl Street Mall, Boulder – Scroll down to see YLC

Yes I have been out of the loop for a while, preoccupied and otherwise engaged. Just involved in life itself, nothing major. Enjoying fall and weekends in the mountains. Was up in Boulder on Saturday night to attend a concert, and so we wandered the legendary Pearl Street Mall. (Had some fun with a faux bronze statue guy who came to life right before my eyes. If you are familiar with that crazy scene in Boulder you are laughing right now).

The multicolored confetti of leaves was flying around, families were out in the balmy night air having fun together and watching the street buskers perform. Had a great dinner at the Boulderado Hotel. Went to a rousing Patti Griffin concert where no one in the audience was timid about speaking up and interacting with Patti and her band. Someone then commented sarcastically on that by also yelling,  “Well welcome to Boulder, Patti….” and she agreed, but she was fine with it. Boulder is just different – people there are not easily defined but if I had to try I would begin by saying that they are quite proud of themselves to be living there, considering it a lifetime achievement or something. Bucket list item #3 – live in Boulder. Become an authentic  Boulderite. You see people in Boulder don’t see themselves as subordinate to anyone. Well why should they? I have loved Boulder since I was a student of fine art there in the 60’s at a time when the campus scene was PARTY and the art professors were deliciously weird and cutting edge. The Young People’s Socialist League was active and the Viet Nam war protesting was just getting started. I was there to paint; I did my share of partying too.

Being back there again, and still painting, in the company of a person with whom I shared many of those Boulder years is always rather surreal to me. This Saturday evening was especially magical. We actually talked a lot about my YLC – the year long canvas. I have been neglecting her. In the wise words of my friend, “The Year Long Canvas is a zen lesson in sustained patience and restraint,” or something to that affect. Delayed gratification should also be mentioned; I am a person who enjoys actually finishing a painting. We decided that the assignment of one year (March, 2015) needs to be loosened a bit, to allow my tolerance and focus a little wiggle room. Maybe more than a year, maybe less. My esteemed instructor, Homare Ikeda of the Denver Art Students League, who offered me this assignment, most certainly would have many additional comments and opinions about this process I am experiencing since I last saw him. Once in a while I run into him and we talk, which is enlightening and meaningful to me. As I explained in one of my earlier posts, he believes that every painting you will ever do as an artist is already inside of you, waiting for the right time and place in your life to be set free from its “cage” – and cage is my own word, not his. You just need to uncover it by stripping away all the unnecessary layers. That is a fascinating concept. A lot of thought is required to get your mind around it. Please visit  http://www.homareikeda.com

Today when I worked on the YLC I went a bit crazy. I gathered all of my confidence in order to believe that I was always going to be able to make a great painting out of it and I was fearless. I am sure many of you will be disappointed with this step, but I am NOT FINISHED. That is the entire point. It needs to get weird before it can get better again. It needs to evolve, and after seeing it sitting around here the way it was for so long I began to yearn for a new language and a fresh message. These new strokes are either the beginning of the end, or even the end of its beginning, whichever way you prefer to interpret it. Have a look, and zoom in for details:

Busker 003

Year Long Canvas, mid-October 2014, not yet titled, copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott

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Making Yourself Vulnerable

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Against the Sun copyright Jo Ann Brown-Scott 2014

“All day I think about it then at night I say it. Where did I come from and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.

This poetry. I never know what I am going to say. I don’t plan it. When I’m outside the saying of it, I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.”  – Rumi

Art is very similar to writing, and one of my favorite quotes about writing which I cannot remember verbatim, says something to the effect that, “Writing is easy – all you do is open a vein and let it pour out.”

The same could be said of painting. You just have to be more than willing to let it all come out, opening yourself to that uncomfortable feeling of being vulnerable. Really really vulnerable. Hit me with your best shot, you think to yourself, and I will somehow absorb that blow and learn from it and move forward. It’ll sting like hell but that hurt is what keeps me alive and persevering.

Artists, writers and all creative people are the brave ones. The ones who spill their blood & guts onto canvas or paper and wait for the reviews. Some refuse to hear the reviews; others use them like salt in an open wound and they learn from them, if they choose to take them seriously…..and we all know that often the harshest review comes from the least qualified person to deliver it. If you are an artist who has ever had a show of your own, and you are wandering around listening, anonymously, to people’s conversations about your art before they have actually discovered who you are – well that is fabulous. The raw, the uncensored, the blunt, the stunningly honest observations are breathtakingly valuable. But you have to be strong.

I believe that artists and writers who cannot make themselves vulnerable are seldom going to break the barrier to attracting a following that lasts through the years of a career. Sustaining a selling career for an entire lifetime is not impossible, but for most of us, if you fall away from your own authenticity and lose your soul somewhere along the way, I think your sales will suffer and then your next step is near obscurity. Your fifteen minutes of fame are over; throughout the chapters of your life it is difficult to be a consistent success. In the literary world of books, which I do know something about, many authors have a blockbuster hit that might even reach the New York Times bestseller list for weeks only to find that they had only one fine book in them. They (the literary “big guys”) say that almost everyone has one book in them, since we all have a compelling story of some kind – but can we tell it? Can we spin the tale to make it marketable? That is the question. Think back to just one example – “EAT, PRAY LOVE” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She told a hell of a good story about herself and made millions. She spilled all of her guts and had nothing much left. We all know of many other authors who never managed to be inspired enough to succeed with a second or third or fourth attempt.

It all boils down to sincerity. Open up, be vulnerable. Tell your story or paint it – but bleed it all out. Then see what happens.