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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Finding the zone.

It's there, you don't even need a road map. Perhaps just a reminder or two of the general direction.

Surround yourself with creative things which inspire you. A piece of corkboard painted flat white to which you attach an ever-changing exhibit of inspirations is a good thing to have right above your work space. If your work space is the kitchen table, use a table easel to hold the corkboard. A piece of string suspended between two discretely placed hooks and draped with a white sheet can cut the mundane clutter from your field of vision.

Wear spceial clothing. I actually have special clothing which I wear when I am making art. Not a paint smudged smock, altho' that becomes the stereotype. The smock was traditionally the uniform of the farm worker. It's ample sleeves and large size allows for free and unencumbered movement. The beret? If it works for you...

 Have a special food and beverage close to hand, unless you work with poisonous pigments. (sometimes I do...) And yes, absinthe which contains real wormwood when served over ice does indeed stimulate the creative synapses in your brain. As does chocolate.

 Listen to the music that brings you there.  Listening to music which is new to you can get you out of the rut of doing the same old same old.

Have you assembled your tools, materials, media? Sometimes just handling my tools is enough to move me from questing to creating. I love my paint. I love to look at the colors. Instead of a fixed palette, I use little pans for my own watercolours so I can arrange them in new groups and families.

Be generous with your creative self. Buy two pieces of that special paper, stretch two canvases, prepare to bead two necklaces instead of one. Sometimes the creativity spills over into new and unexpected work, and it's wonderful to be ready for it. And you will not fear to "make a mistake" if there is always the opportunity of starting over.

Take a break when you need it, and also keep interruptions at bay. I turn off the phone when I am working. Keep it flowing.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Here we go...down to the wire.
There is soo soo much to do, and only a few set hours in which to do it.  Now we come to the place where we make the choices. Do we shop for the dregs which we might in some universe wrench into appropriate gifts, or do we choose another path?

We know what the last minute shopping looks like. What might the other path look like?

The greatest, most valuable and precious commodity we have is time. We live in a funny world where money and the things money buys are saved, hoarded and spent carefully. Yet time, the only commodity with which we are born, is usually squandered, wasted, and otherwise ignored, until we smack bang against a deadline and realize that not all the money in the world will expand the time we need.

As artists, we know this. We often dwell in the zone, that nebulous place where we let go of our educated minds and allow our creativity to make the choices. And that zone has a mysterious quality of compressing and expanding time...when we are in the zone it seems like minutes pass and yet we have achieved the work of many hours.

How do we bring that zonal time flux to our Holidays? Is is possible that we have neglected the difficult gift choices until the last minute because we don't want to face the truths behind those choices? ("Too expensive, too rare, too difficult.")

Let's take a few minutes of that precious time and stop. Hold the memories of shared experiences with those hard to gift folks,  and seek the most appropriate memory. Is there a way to encompass those memories? Can you create a "Ticket" to a future shared time (over a favored beverage or meal, or at a special place) where you specifically meet to reminisce? Shall the ticket specify that no other conversation will take place but the remembering of fondly shared experiences from the past?

Pause in your day, now. Sit quietly. Compose your mind, let go the scrambling crowds. Be still. Find that time.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A gift of a one-of-a-kind-book. Making your Holiday yours, and less commercial all around.

How quickly we fall in with the advertising big box stores at malls for mass produced stuff to give. Well, with few exceptions, I REFUSE to give in to the commercialization of Christmas.
Are you feeling overwhelmed, short on time, short on temper, short on energy?
Here's a studio tip which may help.
Go to sleep with a list prepared of people whom you wish to give a really personal gift.
Wake to a NON RUSHED day.
Linger over a luxurious slow breakfast, with Christmas music playing softly in the background.
Dress in your favorite clothes. Donning your gay apparel on Christmas day simply isn't enough.
Sit quietly in the place where you create (from the kitchen table to the studio, you already have a space in your life where beauty happens.)
Consult your list, and write after each name a shared experience.
1. In writing, using a smooth pen on smooth paper, so it glides, describe the experience. Imagine that you are a biographer. Start with the magical phrase "Once upon a Time". It doesn't have to be an epic. Think how children's books are laid out. When writing like this, less is more. It becomes more like poetry than prose.
2. Either create a notebook by sewing sheets of paper together,  or purchase a small notebook. Small is better for this project. It implies intimacy. The spiral bound kind are best for this project. Allow for an extra page for the front, for the title and dedications and date.
3. When you are satisfied with what you have written, carefully hand write it into the notebook. Take your time, make your letters lavish and lyrical Leave every other page blank for illustrations.
4. Take a break. Eat. Eat your favorite food.
5. Troll through magazines and newspapers and the web to locate images which enhance the story. Enhance, not illustrate. Don't be literal. Be intuitive. Be instinctive. Have fun. There is no right or wrong here.
6. If you have the option, photocopy the images shrunk or enlarged to fit the space. Paste them in where appropriate.
7. Think of a Title. Don't be literal here either. This is not a report on how you spent your summer vacation.
8. Paint the cover and back with gesso. Write the title on the cover, and your name. If yyou have an alphabet of rubber stamps, use them, Or print a small title and author with your computer. A few visual elements can be included.  Own this. This is your memory. You are the author.
9. If you have used a commercial spiralbound notebook, carefully remove the extra unneccessary pages.

This is a really precious gift. It will be cherished for a long time. It is a testiment to your friendship, and your friend will treasure it, and love you for remembering.

This project can take about two or three hours. It costs under $5.00. The price tag is measured in time, the most precious commodity we have.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Holiday Gift that costs less than $2.00, but you must spend a few hours also.

What in the world is going on in this studio? Tinsel everywhere! Think of all the gifts you have ever given (well< maybe you can't) and then imagine a few dozen gifts you could make for your dearest friends. Ok, how about a few gifts...let's make it easier..choose one person in your life.
1. Try to remember a moment which you shared with this person. Could have been recent, or  long ago. Could have been funny, or serious, planned or accidental, casuall or passionate.
2. Locate an image which reminds you of that moment. Troll the web, old photo albums, newspspers, magazines, or get your camera/phone/thing and take a photo of your own.
3. Print the photo about an inch smaller than a cardboard box which you find in the back of the closet or tucked in with last year's Holiday gifts.
4. Write the memory from your perspective on top of the may need to put a thin glaze of white gesso over the photo to make a place on which to write. Or use a colored gel pen, light on dark, dark on light. Write so that the words fill up 3/4 of the space.
5. In the reserved 1/4 space, paste a word torn from a newspaper which strikes you that it describes the moment. Don't overthink this........jump at the first word which jumps out at you.Tear it out, let the rough edges show. Paste this word at right angles to the written memory, facing in to it.
6. With some colored pencils or guache, lightly obscure some of the writing, but not so much that it cannot be read.
7. Glue this to the cardboard box. Embellish the other sides of the box if you wish, or leave them as they are.
8. Buy some wild bird seed, and fill the box with it.
9. On a scrap of paper, write the words" Think of me as you feed the birds after the next snowfall". Place the paper on top of the seeds, close the box, tie it shut with string, and giftwrap it for your friend.
10. If you live in a place where the snow seldom falls, substitute the words "next full moon". It's all good.

There. From my studio to yours.