Posts Tagged ‘artist’

"Muse, Muse Where Art Thou?"

TORCH

An inspiration

rides on a barebacked white horse

against the wind,

bearing gift-wrapped kindling

for an unlit fire,

salve for blistering hands.

An inspiration

lies awake at night

pondering the possibility of true love

with an unknown factor

who might change the outcome of the picture

completely.

An inspiration sits quietly in blue or red

for a place to live, alms for the poor, a marriage to

a blank canvas,  it never meets.

An inspiration fights at times,

just to stay alive.

________________

I wrote that poem many years ago in response to a friend who  had lost her inspiration and could no longer produce work she was proud to call her own. For whatever reason, her muse left on horseback one day and she was lost.

She told us she felt “vacant” as if part of her moved out without a 30 day notice.  She said she was forced to find another tenant to fill that space or she’d be bankrupt, so she started drinking. Sad as it was, she found a tenant that was far too eager to take up residence in her domicile and eventually forced her to allow a rent to own contract and bought her out in a few years. She was young but no longer had the will to keep going. Her art left her for good that day. A year later, she was found dead in an alley, apparently murdered.

It’s sad that we give up and walk away from the very thing that keeps our spirit alive and free, creativity. We often give up for reasons that seem confusing to others. I, along with countless others just shut down and don’t wait around for the door to open again, a door that will bring in a new and refreshed tenant who will gladly live in that sacred space inside us. What makes the muse move out without notice in the first place?  How do we produce one day and the next find an empty apartment?  Fear has been the basis of my “shutting down”, fear of success, fear of failure. That tag team can creep up on me like the enemy they are and ambush, leaving me tenant free, standing in a vacant room. And then there’s depression.

In her blog ” Case-notes from the Artsy Asylum” Susan Reynolds has posted an article about depression in creative folk, and cites this study: “Arnold Ludwig wondered the same thing. Lucky for us, he didn’t get distracted from Psychology and swept up in clay (you can probably guess who did that).As a result he’s now a professor, and a researcher at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. Also an MD – so he’s just the guy to find out more about this.

And he did! In fact, it was a study of 1004 men and women over the span of 10-years. His group was made up of a wide variety of accomplished people in just as wide a variety of professions, including art, music, science, business, politics, and sports.

In the end, he found:

  • between 59 and 77 percent of the artists, writers, and musicians suffered mental illness  especially “mood disorders”
  • compared to just 18 to 29 percent in the less artistic professionals”

There are times when the Muse taps on the window asking to be let in, but we often don’t pay attention to that tapping, and instead go out and buy new locks and install them on the door by feeding our anxiety about not creating. Instead we scramble for something to take its place such as love, sex, alcohol, drugs and depression often fill that space.

Is there hope?  Yes. A friend of mine went to a career counselor to find out what she could do about this lack of inspiration. She was given several tools to try and decided on one that spoke to her. She purchased space for a want ad in the local newspaper. Her ad read something like this:

“WANTED: Muse for hire. Willing to pay any price to get the position filled. Needed for full time (24/7), year round work. No hiring process, no interview. Just show up if interested. Immediate start.”

It was just a small $5.00 ad, but it was something that served two purposes. She was able to realize just how desperate she had become trying to find that muse or at least another muse and how much her ability to create meant to her. Her ad was answered when she read it the next day in the paper. Although her artistic muse had left, another muse answered the call and gave her inspiration to write that ad. The drought ended and she was back at the easel that night. Now I know that was just too simple, but it does happen. Some of us wait for years for that muse to come knocking or calling to rent that apartment. For others, it returns in another form and still others it just never comes back.

If your muse has flown the coup, try bringing it back by venturing into another creative outlet. Think about something you’ve always wanted to try, like throwing a pot on a potter’s wheel or making a necklace out of jump rings or simply take a local art/craft class. Work on a project you’ve put off, read, go buy yourself a new pen or notebook, carve out a work space for yourself and sit there even if  you don’t do anything.  Remember that fear of failure and fear of success? Ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” You can make plans for a dinner party, see a movie, paint a room. Rearrange your work space, or go to the local art store and look around. Find another avenue for creativity to seep back into your life. Sometimes I’m frozen and can’t do any of these things, but I have learned to not panic. I write and play my guitar. I write this blog because at the moment the paintbrush and canvas have stopped speaking to me. In order to keep that door ajar, I do something else. Once you stop thinking about the creative block, you open the door for your muse to come back.

Inspiration can come and go at a moment’s notice, or with no notice at all. Thinking outside of the box, utilizing other creative venues can be of greater value than looking to fill that empty apartment with destructive tenants. Think of the price.

“Artists are visited by the Muses, or tormented by their own passions and demons.” (Wes Nisker)

“O! for a muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.” (William Shakespeare)

Please leave a comment on this blog. I would love to hear from you.

"What Do I Do Now?"

Now that you have made the decision to create a website or have one created for you, you might be asking, “What Do I Do Now?”

Well, I am about to answer that question! So sit back and relax, I will try to walk you through the next steps in your process.

Keep it simple. That could be the most important tip I can give you today. Don’t add so many tabs or pictures or text that it keeps the potential customer or gallery owner there too long. In this day and age, no one has time to sit in front of a computer and sift through your poorly planned site to figure out how to use it. Keep it simple.

Some of the tabs you use might be the following:

  • Home– this page will be the first glimpse of your website. This is what  people will see when their browser opens your page. Keep it clean, keep it interesting, remembering that first impressions make or break you.
  • About the Artist– keep this simple as well. Don’t write  your autobiography with all of the details on this page. Give highlights that pertain to you as an artist and keep the focus on YOU. If you want to include your artistic philosophy here, make sure it’s neatly separated from your bio.
  • Gallery– You don’t have to have every piece you’ve made on this page. Post a few pieces that show the diversity in your work. You don’t want to show that you’re locked into a style that you can’t get out of. Show some old work and new work.
  • Links– Keep the links list, to a minimum. If you have logos for the sites on which you have your work, use them and link them to the site (this will make it easier for the viewer to go see what you are doing there). Link photos to the site where you sell that piece. Again, no one wants to sift through things. They want what they want to see, at their fingertips.
  • Contact the Artist– Offer a simple form that the viewer can fill out to comment or ask questions, that will be sent directly to your email account.
  • Etsy page -(if you are a crafter, and your main purpose to having a website is to drive business to your Etsy shop (or other shops) I would say to do this). If you are an artist looking for gallery representation and/or sales from this site, you might be wise to leave this out as not all gallery owners think Etsy a viable or suitable place for serious artists to sell.(This is up to  you, of course!) If you are an artist to whom gallery representation is not a priority, but this site is to get your work “out there” it’s your choice as well.

Please remember, this is not a blog. Keep the focus on you and your art. (It’s ok to mention your wife, husband or girlfriend/boyfriend, kids as people in your life with whom you live, but keep it focused and don’t ramble on about them). A  website is a factual tool that represents your work to the online world. This is not intended to necessarily bring out your personality, or be cute, you can use your blog for that. If you want to be taken seriously as an artist, you need to make the decision about what it is you want this website to do.

You can do this and keep it simple!  If this is your first time, keep these tips in mind and you’ll have a more interesting site.Happy Website to YOU!

Next post will hopefully address some marketing techniques that can drive viewers to your site.

Simply Fabulous

Because I needed to figure out how to layer photos and create a combined image that would include a living room setting and my paintings, I ventured to the local Library to find a book that would make life a little easier and teach me how to do it. I discovered a book that I thought might contain the information I needed.

So, last week on a rather hot day, wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt I sat down on my sofa, in the cool living room to read what I predicted to be, a boring book. Imagine being hot and tired from lack of sleep the night before, I planned on being swept into a deep slumber. Alas, I was pleasantly surprised by the pages filled with information and how-to’s that  make my web site creation so much easier and fun to boot.

LastScan

The title  of the book is “Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks for Photoshop CS2” by Lynette Kent. I think you’ll agree that it is a boring title.  Now you can see why I thought I was going to get caught up on some sleep. But Kent is a native Californian and Parisian, both by birthright and having lived in California and Paris. She completed her Master’s degree at Stanford University and has taught art at both the high school and community college levels. She is also a demo artist at trade shows for computer graphics companies.

Ms. Kent has carefully broken down the total top 100 possible questions the reader may have, into one or two pages of clear, concise and picture-filled instructions that answer your very question. Each step is in a numerical sequence instructing you exactly how to perform each task, step by step. Kent has included some time saving insights that “save you time and trouble, cautions you about hazards to avoid and reveal how to do things in Photoshop that you never thought to be possible.” She has even included symbols that mark the level of difficulty for each task.

Topics covered in this book begin with “Customizing Photoshop for Your Projects”. In this first chapter, Kent shows the step by step process that will assist in changing color settings to fit your projects, designing custom brushes, calibrating and profile your monitor for better editing, to using something called a “digitizing tablet”.

Other chapters address the following issues or suggestions:

  • Working with Layers, Selections and Masks
  • Straightening, Cropping and Resizing Magic
  • Retouching Portraits (you’ll love this if you’re a boomer!)
  • Changing and Enhancing Colors and Tone
  • Making Magic with Digital Special Effects
  • Designing with Text Effects
  • Creating Digital Artwork from Photographs
  • Giving Your Images a Professional Presentation
  • Plugging in to Photoshop CS2

This is a well written, clearly thought out publication that I recommend to anyone who is struggling with figuring out the world of Photoshop on their own. As you can see, I enjoyed the book and gained much needed information.  But I didn’t get the needed sleep!  Ah, the price we pay for information!