One way, or in another. In some measure. It doesn’t have to be “Art” nor music, nor even in the sciences.
Maybe you are one of the generous ones, the kind and thoughtful ones. Sharing your enthusiasm and your knowledge freely.
That. Is a special kind of magic. People don’t forget it. I certainly don’t.
It really doesn’t matter what your job title is, your career, vocation, etc. A convenience store clerk, recently showed me…. how skilful he was at making magic. Just by being himself. Being generous. When he did not have to be.
Magic is Seeing, What You’ve Never Truly Seen Before
On the Art side of things, there is a kind of magic I find easy when I teach or coach a group of new artists. The kind of magic, that illustrates for them a variety of pathways and perspectives on how to see what they’ve never truly seen before.
“Is Graffiti, art?” was one question for the group. At first, many didn’t see the art in any graffiti. But, some graffiti is so breathtaking, it defies any to not call it Art.
I also am inspired when finally, I have been able to get an individual to feel, the art. Wow. Yes. Magical indeed the sharing of methods, techniques, thoughts, of ways how they can Feel it, and become aware of things they’d never felt, before. I do find it easy. Fun. Inspiring. Challenging. Magical.
Yes. I guess that is a type of magic that I do.
Making Magic applies to the practical side of creativity, the nuts and bolts ie the tools and materials, as well as the philosophical side.
The Magical Palette Knife PK 1008
There is a Magical tool I love.
It is the PK 1008. A very sensitive, versatile palette knife that responds perfectly. Fluidly. There is no stiff rigidity of stroke inherent to this palette knife whatsoever. It is far too sensitive for that!
The Mountain Landscape is a Palette Knife painting, a bit wild and rebellious…. that I’ve mounted on my last sheet of handmade Indian Village paper.
I pre painted this in Indanthrone with Indigo for a velvety blue black to contrast my image. It worked.
With the PK 1008 the sharp angle and width allow for a myriad of very expressive movements and technical applications.
Double or triple loading the knife with a few watercolors, then boldly …. sliding it across the predampened paper – oh, my. That absolutely creates Magic!
Making Magic with the Palette Knife is most likely my top favourite technique in creating art. Nothing else quite works outs like it does. Full of unexpected delights and color melting together. Beautiful and strange pairings that should not work, but Do.
And even when the image isn’t doing so well in ‘your’ intended direction; turn it around. Maybe that palette knife, does have some mysterious magic in it after all. Many times, not only my work, but students’ as well, when reassessed in the upside down mode – it is stunningly Perfect! Amazing.
Palette Knife Magic Tips:
My Tips for those wanting to use a palette knife with Watercolors, ie not impasto style, are as follows:
Be Bold! Decisive. No fiddling, nagging, etc. Speak UP. Say it like you mean it, then leave it be.
Review your Art Basics quickly. Tonal Values, Edges, Aerial Perspective, Focal Point, Details/contrasts. Then try to stick to most, of those.
Most Importantly, use your artistic drive to make the audience FEEL Something! Don’t be content with recording the facts, the details, the accuracies.
Why might this interpretive definition be important to you?
While I’m specifically writing this article for the current participants of my courses in Perth, I feel it is relevant for many others who’d like to be encouraged, as they create.
People who create things – ‘Creators’
We do not, need to be painters, to be considered creators of art.
If you make things, build things, develop things – you are a creator.
We have been led, to believe only a select rare few, are artists. Are deserving to be named art creators. Not so. We are all, born to create. In some form.
Art, takes an infinity of forms: Music, photography, dance, building & bridge design, digital apps., surgery, interior design, fashion design, coding, cooking, sculpture, writing, martial arts…. We can make anything an ‘art form’ if that is our desire.
To take something to an ‘art form,’ we must truly love the subject.
Become partners with it. At ease and in tune with how it looks, moves, feels, sounds, responds. The beginning of artistry is love, time, connectedness.
Whether we’re painters, teachers, computer app designers, composers, surgeons, city planners – we all can enhance our work when we “feel” the situation, the surroundings, immersing ourselves in the subject. Being connected.
Its this way we can best share the excellence of creation we have envisioned with the world.
Acts of Creation: All In
We use, channel, harness all of our senses in order to create the art.
But, we must do so opened up. All In.
To be All In, means you’ve put everything on the line.
You are Vulnerable.
Stripped down to your core. And must engage the process with sensitivity, with feeling. Being attuned to, in time with our chosen partner, i.e. subject.
What is your subject – Is it the Mountain? The ocean? The forest? The dancers at the ballet? The little rose bush, that the frost of autumn has aged overnight?
Those cool professional walls, barriers, and that distance put into place to keep us “safe” and protected from feeling hurt, or embarrassed?
They don’t help us.
What they do is negate the power of creation we could have infused our art with.
Why do we copy?
Replicate Joe Smith’s painting? What ‘risk’ are we taking in doing that? If it is mocked and we are embarrassed, we can always say, “Oh well, I only copied Joe. Its not mine. Not really.” And, no. It’s not.
When we open up, we then are so vulnerable. And this is the scary thing.
It is an uncertain thing.
We do not like the fact that we don’t know for certain if our creation, will work or not.
IF, it will be ok. Be ‘good enough.’ Or not.
To have family, a friend, a mentor … “approve.”
Get “likes” or not. Get followers or not.
Life is way too short, for us to make those approvals of monumental significance.
Your own opinion, that’s the one that is of monumental significance.
And, yes. It is a struggle.
Every time we pick up the pen, the brush, the mouse, the knife, we hear the voice in our head tell us to do it better this time.
(Silence that voice each time. It knows nothing. Nothing…. of relevance to the act of creation.)
It is the Uncertainty,of not getting it right, that stops us. It is what blocks us, chains us, ties our hands from trying.
It is the Uncertainly that stops us from being ‘ALL In.’ Prevents us from giving it every thing we have to give.
But if we never try, never summon the courage, (in some cases we must invent it if that is what is required) then the world, misses out on what we alone have to give.
Yes. We will stumble.
We will fall to our knees.
We will fail.
Its ok. I repeat, it is ok that we make mistakes, stumble, fail.
*side note, if you are a bridge engineer, aircraft mechanic, heart surgeon, airport traffic controller…. its ok, if you have a little higher standards than what I’ve just mentioned. In fact, thanking you in advance for it. cheers!
For too long we have all been told, trained and conditioned, to believe in the god of perfection.
“Get It Right.”
No errors. No flaws.
No visible signs of cracks, age, wear or tear.
In other words, absolutely no signs that we are, after all, Human.
Because, being human is the greatest asset we have. Flaws and all.
I’m currently mentoring privately a beautiful person, with acrylics. We are working on a helpful approach to lessen the fear of mistakes, flaws. We’re developing a program with Multiple creative resolution methods, imaginative solutions, thinking outside the box.
Addressing – Society’s obsession with imperfections.
It is a challenge to go against our training. But, we can do it. We simply repeat, the acts of creation we desire. Over and over, and over.
In the mentoring sessions, we are repurposing used acrylic canvases. They already have colors and textures on them, in abundance. But, they were not quite working.
The next step is to brush over, in selected areas large swaths of contrasting paint.
We used White. Brilliant! This creates a lovely and lively sensation of vibration and contrast. The underlying base comes through in places with the white, skimming along the surface to create fascinating patterns suggesting of bark, trees, foliage shapes.
This Technique clearly demonstrates that the underlying “Imperfect” canvas, with its scars, its hard edges, its yucky bits…. actually was the perfect substrata for the project.
I like how this art creation process can also be interpreted through the lens of life as well.
This is one of the pieces, my friend created using the acrylic methods described above. A Wonderful, act of creation.
Art of Connection
I am in fact, expressing in paint, my world. Not yours. Not Joe’s. Mine. This is a very important distinction artists, creators need to make.
When I create a painting, or photographic art image, I am primarily attempting to convey the dialogue. In other words, the dialogue that is going on between the subject and myself.
That simply can not occur if I refuse to spend alone time with it.
If I treat it callously, abruptly, with little regard, and simply want to “use it” to make a pretty little picture to boost my ego – then, no, I can’t expect its true beauty to shine through.
Its more effective to become friends with the subject.
To learn about it. To immerse oneself into its world.
Then…. Maybe I can create art that has a beautiful life energy within it.
What I hope to create, is to convey the essence of what I myself connect to and “feel.”
To define this. I think of it in these terms: of having the emotion of Love of life, emanate from my creation. Just as a warm fire in winter compels and draws people closer.
I know. That is, a lofty goal. And one I often stumble, fall and abjectly fail at. That’s ok. I’m All In. I’ll keep trying. Some, do work quite well. I’m happy with that.
In whatever form, the art chooses to take for each individual, we want to strive to impart a piece of our selves, into our “Acts of Creation.”
Education. When I present skills, concepts and new techniques, I also learn. I learned …. a LOT, from my venture To Queen’s Gardens in Perth.
On the job, on going education. Perfect.
Yes. There have been days, of ‘not so’ perfect. And I most definitely will not share those with the public. But overall, it is a great gig.
Sculpture: Peter Pan
I left the green shaded groves, of the UWA Sunken Gardens. Leaving the calm, zen there.
I drove off, into the city. Clearly following my well researched and diagrammed directions. I had studied this. I knew the route.
In the city. Gosh. Who, would have suspected?
Where was my Plan B?
Needless to say, the first attempt to arrive at Queen’s Garden was met with Strike One.
I ended up, very close to my original starting point. Oops.
Do I give up and go home? Do I allow the city, and detours, to be victorious? I sighed. It WAS HOT. 90+ degrees. How bad, did I really want to go?
But, you know, I am Determined.
Someone just recently, made that comment – that I was very determined. I’m not certain if it that was a polite way of just saying, ‘Stubborn.’ I’m thinking it was though!
My “Stubbornness” won out.
I continued on my target goal to the Queen’s Gardens. Finally, 55 minutes later – I arrived! It should have taken 20, tops.
Victory. Ok I met some more road closures, detours. And had to walk from the river to the Gardens. (Bonus, more exercise for me!) The point is, I achieved my destination point.
I had a nice pleasant stroll around.
Relaxing. Taking photos of turtles, black swans, golden breasted waterfowl, massive ivory waterlilies on the deep blue ponds, wooden bridges, and the famous bench from the movie “Notting Hill.”
Towards the end of my stroll I came closer to the large statue that had caught my eye earlier. It had looked like a Pied Piper of sorts.
I was so immersed in the faces and features, the transcendent expressions the artist brought to life, I didn’t look first at the title or description.
Instead I engaged with the art. Section by section.
I loved the ‘rabbit’ like ears upon some of the figures.
Once I was finished with taking the photos, then I read.
I discovered the statue was based on JM Barrie’s story of Peter Pan.
The sculptor was Sir George Frampton. This was one of his 6 replicas he cast from his original mould. This sculpture was erected in Queens Garden in June 1929.
The original is in London, the Kensington Gardens.
Apparently with the original statue, Sir George…. acted without authorisation.
Overnight, without prior permission, he erected his Peter Pan statue unbeknownst to anyone.
He did get chastised…. however in his defense he stated that he’d simply wanted the children to be surprised. To awaken and see the ‘Peter Pan’ in the gardens ‘as if the fairies had done so overnight.’
I can just imagine how this explanation went over!
But, I think, he may have had a smidgen of ‘determination’ within himself. I don’t think he was going to allow anything to dissuade him from his goal. He knew what he wanted to accomplish.
And he did so.
Artists need to have this quality of Determination.
This almost wilful, stubbornness.
It is this, that enables them to overcome the 1001 odds that are stacked against them.
The challenges of the city proved to be an excellent educational tool. We can choose to give up too soon, or choose to be Determined.
The Arts in Perth: nurturing the self to foster creative identity and confidence.
What do I do? I teach art? perhaps. But at the core, the reality is I am sharing something far more important. I’m more of an encouraging ‘creativity mentor.’ A coach. I love to share artistic pathways that help the individual reclaim their innate identity, power and confidence. Balance through the arts.
Once in a while, I come across a client who has an ease within themselves straight off the bat.
This is not the typical beginner response. But their comfort at communicating, at expressing in paint playfully, in pure joyful Freedom – is Different.
It sets them apart.
They already are absorbed in the process. Totally engaged with the physicality of the action. In the act of painting all on its own, with no thought of reward or product or result.
That in all my experience is so, unique.
It is, in my opinion the highest benchmark of An Artist.
Today, for my first true, post back… I’ve featured Paola (a client) and each of the art works seen belong to her.
Paola hasn’t been with me for long period of time, a couple of terms is all. She first came to my course “Draw, Print, Paint.”
This was an intermediate to advanced level course. Not specifically designed for a brand new Beginner!
We drew…..in a loose, bold, super fast and free approach.
Extremely Non traditional.
No – straight lines! No – rigidity.
No – erasers. Are, your eyes open yet?!
No – concern over flaws, imperfections, wrong angles, etc.
Simply, drawing big and bold with a fat black Sharpie marker! The concept was to have Fun and to play.
On cheap papers. This diminishes fears “of wasting money.”
Loose, and easy…. watercolor painting
Paola next booked into Watercolors: Loose and Easy.
Once again, the course was not specifically designed for complete beginners.
But once again what Paola envisioned and created, was captivating. Her extraordinary absorption in the process is fascinating to see.
Each brush stroke, deliberate and meaningful.
The color was stroked upon the paper, and left. Alone.
Where it melted and merged and vibrated with its fellow notes.
There was no fiddling. No over working. No excess concern over flaws and imperfections in paper, paint, or marks made.
They were made, and then… let go.
She has a wonderful ability to find her own place of safety and security within herself enabling her to simply respond in creative liberation. Without a lot of coaching, coaxing, guidance from myself.
I’d like us all, to be able to feel that free to express our own voice, in our own words, without fear of reprisals. Of being called out for some perceived small imperfection or ‘mistake.’
Well….. we are, Human!
One of my personal, favourite words and philosophies over the past couple years has been, and is – Wabi Sabi.
If, you look it up you’ll discover lovely beautiful things about it.
The concept is that there is beauty to be seen and found, in the Imperfect. In the unfinished. And in the Impermanent.
I’ve done several series and posts on The 7 Days of Zen, and wabi sabi elements you might have a read on if you’d like.
Creativity requires a sense of ‘safety.’ Our creative imagination will refuse to come out to play, until it feels secure. Safe. When it knows it has the utter freedom to be authentic, its own self, imperfect and flawed as it is!
We will not, see fresh new inventions, new medical, tech, science breakthroughs – in environments of stress, fear, negativity. The fear of being vulnerable to attack, causes the creative side, our clever side to stay hidden. Buried.
Trying to excavate the hidden creative buried far beneath the layers, deep in the crevices, that almost nothing can pry out – can be exhausting work. It takes immense patience. Time.
And sometimes, someone else’s eyes to see that gem and make mention of it, softly and kindly. Repeatedly.
At work, what I really do, is: I campaign against fear.
It is Fear, that so often leads many to replicate someone else’s words. Or their looks. Or opinion. Or someone else’s painting. There is No need!
My philosophy is:
“YOU, Are absolutely every bit – just as interesting, good, valuable and faceted – as Monet/Madonna/Oprah or whoever it is that is being copied.”
Probably more so. Please let us in, tell us your story.
Thank you Paola,, for so kindly and with courage, allowing me to feature your work on my first post back. I am grateful. Debi
By inferring, or hinting at things just outside their view, my objective is to engage the viewer more.
Sketches Fast and Loose
Photographs often, though not always, spell out a subject with exact precision. Recording textures, veins, size, color, width, weight. Documenting location, species and the individual. And some types… of art styles do as well.
Which is great, when that is what is called for. When that is the feeling you are wanting to convey.
A cataloguing of the details.
However, its different with fast, five or ten minute sketches.
Sketches done on the fly, capture the mood and essence of the thing.
Conveying the ‘feeling.’
Rather than struggling to achieve 5 star wonders with ‘complexities.’
I feel, Subjects are more authentic, truer to their essence, when at rest. At ease.
When allowed to be in a natural setting.
In nature. Out in the forest, sitting amongst the rocks and logs. Being at home upon the banks of the river.
These poses, can give the viewer more. Whether its in the form of photography, sketches, drawings, paintings, or other art forms.
This sketch, reflects this.
The limited palette of earthy browns and forest green, simple yet sufficient. Hinting at woodland themes. My subject sat leaned up against the tree logs and branches, head tucked.
Maybe she was the young mother, or older sister, or aunt. Who knows? But she kept an eye on the child in pink. An active one at that.
The hike there, to the bridge was fun. OK a challenge! But obviously, the child in pink still had plenty of go. Her watcher…. not so much. I smiled.
Using this format, and this pose as well “downward gaze” shifts the viewers minds. To make them, ponder a bit.
Make the Viewer … Wonder
Take the viewer out of the little box where it is all explained already and nothing has been left unsaid. Take them out the world they are currently in, and help them to imagine the world this subject resides in.
Allude to mysteries and things around the corner.
Hint of magic yet to come.
Contemplations of the River
If a book has been so well explained and summarized, there is nothing new or exciting left to be revealed by looking further in the book, we will not.
So too with our art.
With our paintings, sketches, drawings, photographs. We will look for the exact time that it takes to define the plot.
And then, we move on. Period.
I think, as an artist, I prefer to try to keep the viewer wondering. Just a bit.
Wandering through the scene, through the book… looking for, more.
I do not, want my art to be ‘all spelled out’ and perfectly revealed in every fine detail.
No. I’d like there to be a lovely fusion of lots of soft edges tempered with just the right balance of crisp edges to draw the eye. With warm colors telling you what is front, and cool paler colors speaking of far distant things. Lines that are curved to soften the mood, with diagonal directionals for subtle hints of movements.
I’d like my sketches to be authentic. My art to be original, and real. And me.
I aspire to keep my viewers, wandering through my artwork.
Realising, of course, not all are going to be lovely frame worthy pieces. Thats ok.
I’d much rather you, let your imagination free and loose; than for me to have a frame worthy work every time.
Thoughts of, “oh yeah…. I remember now, the way it was in those early summer days in the Pacific Northwest!”
Sunshine and Roses
Sometimes in blogs, we get carried away.
Making it seem as if we’re living the life of Riley.
No pun intended.
But, I’m going to admit…. that, “No. Not All, was not sunshine and roses on my summer retreat!”
It never is.
Dilemmas, injuries, interrogations, all the usual suspects and then some, came out to try to cause mayhem.
But the overriding fact is “Love does, leave a memory No one can steal.”
A Rose for Love
Below a rose.
Lisa’s Rose just outside my bedroom window
Hints of subtle context, perhaps so.
Only the tips of the closest leaves are clearly seen, visible and identifiable.
The rest of the rose is so softly diffused and dissolving.
What mysteries the artist, could…. infer if we were,
to pause and reflect a moment?
Perhaps about the person who gave, or the person viewing, or even as a metaphor for some other and deeper things?
Summary on Summer Retreat
As artists, we dig and delve.
We fill our wells so that we may create with restored vitality, fresh imagination, wild creativity once again.
There is of course more to come about this summer trek, including cobalt teal rivers, rainbow waterfalls, and demon hordes of thirsty mozzies set to drain us within 5 minutes of reaching our destination. Should be entertaining. Cheers.