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May---Staying on Your Creative Path

My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.
— Anthony Trollope, novelist



An interesting interview with painter,  
. . .
describing his own process of art making.



Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.
— Isabel Allende, novelist

 Excepts from Art & Fear, by David Bayles and Ted Orland -



The questions, the issues that you set out to solve for yourself are more important than the answers. Its the questions that create motivation. A good, fully realized answer is totally dependent on a good question.

“Computers are useless - all they can give you are answers.”  - Pablo Picasso

Provocative art challenges not only the viewer, but also its maker. Art that falls short often does so not because the artist failed to meet the challenge, but because there was never a challenge there in the first place. Think of it like Olympic diving: you don’t win high points for making even the perfect swan dive off the low board. There’s little reward in an easy perfection quickly reached by many.

To resist models of perfection in art may seem strange, given their acceptance in so many other facets of living. Swan dives notwithstanding, the Olympic Games themselves are founded on the concept of great achievement within a strict framework. Honors in the hundred meter dash, after all, go not to the runner who displays some intriguing personal skip, but to the one who reaches the set goal first. The burden for the artist, as Ann Truitt observes in her Daybook, is that ‘The lawyer and the doctor practice their callings. The plumber and the carpenter know what they will be called upon to do. They do not (like the artist) have to spin the work out of themselves, discover its laws, and then present themselves turned inside out to the public gaze.’

Clearly that is not an easy space to put yourself in. And indeed many artists don’t. Artists who need ongoing reassurance that they’re on the right track routinely seek out challenges that offer the clear goals and measurable feedback - which is to say, technical challenges. The underlying problem with this is not that the pursuit of technical excellence is wrong, exactly, but simply that making it the primary goal puts the cart before the horse. We do not long remember those artists who followed the rules more diligently than anyone else. We remember those who made the art from which the “rules” inevitably follow.”

A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.
— Tchaikovsky, composer


A note about our new  "Forum" . . .

One of the continuing ideas that I have had while I've been thinking about this month's theme (Staying on Your Creative Path) . . . is how important it is to be Accountable to ourselves. One of the main ingredients of accountability is "following through," being committed to one's ideas, visions and goals . . . I'm learning this, too . . . and what helps me to "stay on the path" is having "deadlines;" or "making a date" with someone to share your work with, a friend or it may be a gallery waiting to see your new work. J. S. Bach was on a pay roll to produce a new cantata every Sunday for his community church. Mozart had people waiting for his operas. If we know that we need to create in order to fill an "empty stage" in the future, it propels and encourages us to be creative and Committed

I was thinking that our Forum could be used in this way: posting new and current projects /art works; issues, challenges, and ideas related to our progress . . . all in the spirit of "continuing the thread" and having a sense of continuity following through . . .   GT

In 2010, MoMA curators used X-ray technology to reveal the many iterations behind Henri Matisse's painting 'Bathers by a River,' on which the painter worked for eight years between 1909 and 1917.


excerpt from Art & Fear:

Vox Humana

“To make art is to sing with the human voice. To do this you must first learn that the only voice you need is the voice you already have. Art work is ordinary work, but it takes courage to embrace that work, and wisdom to mediate the interplay of art & fear. Sometimes to see your work’s rightful place you have to walk to the edge of the precipice and search the deep chasms. You have to see that the universe is not formless and dark throughout, but awaits simply the revealing light of your own mind. Your art does not arrive miraculously from the darkness, but is made uneventfully in the light.

What veteran artists know about each other is that they have engaged the issues that matter to them. What veteran artists share in common is that they have learned how to get on with their work. Simply put, artists learn how to proceed, or they don’t. The individual recipe any artist finds for proceeding belongs to that artist alone - it’s non-transferable and of little use to others. It won’t help you to know exactly what Van Gogh need to gain or lose in order to get on with his work. What is worth recognizing is that Van Gogh needed to gain or lose at all, that his work was no more or less inevitable than yours, and that he - like you - had only himself to fall back on.

In the end it all comes down to this: you have a choice (or more accurately a rolling tangle of choices) between giving your work your best shot and risking that it will not make you happy, or not giving it your best shot - and thereby guaranteeing that it will not make you happy. It becomes a choice between certainty and uncertainty. And curiously, uncertainty is the comforting choice.”

An interlude of music for you to "visualize and feel your art by" . . .  a beautiful duet by Handel ("Son nata a lagrimar"), sung by Nathalie Stutzmann and Philippe Jaroussky.

(Philippe Jaroussky is a countertenor.  countertenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto or mezzo-soprano voice types. )

How (and What) to Learn from
Your Creative Heroes

(A wonderful article by Creative Coach, Mark McGuinness) . . . 

“So what inspired you to choose your creative path?”

These days, your hero worship may not be so pronounced, but each of your heroes is still a touchstone for something important that you aspire to in your own work — a tone, attitude, or atmosphere that you instinctively love.

You’ve learned a lot from your creative heroes. And they still have plenty to teach you…

Your heroes are a clue to your own creative potential



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