2015 Goals

I have taken my time to come up with some attainable goals for 2015.  Not resolutions, people break those to easily.  Goals are much better,  they are SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

Goal 1. Complete12 Fine art pieces this year.  It usually does not take me more than a month to create most of my art.  I do have pieces that are really detailed and take longer.  I also can work on more than one piece at time.  I already have 4 finished pieces and plans for 3 more.

Goal 2. Create 12 Graphic Design / Marketing packets.  This should include a flyer template, business card, and website template.  If this is not challenging enough I can add a FaceBook banner or something similar.  I have plans for 5 already.  I just have to sit down and do it. I also need to work on creating some clip art for various projects that are ongoing. I am working on some flowers, traffic jam, cars, and some monthly banners, to name a few.

Goal 3 Get healthier!  What kind of year would it be without some kind of health goal?  I would like to get healthier this year, lose a few inches and pounds.  I have a figure in mind, but with the injury I received in December (darn irresponsible dog owners)  I have not been able to work out as much as I would like. This also impacts goal 2, since it is painful to sit for more than a few minutes at a time.

Goal 4 Read 10 Books.  This is not a high goal.  I have been known to read three or four books in a 24 hour period.  I really want to finish some books that are non-fiction, Tim Wu’s Master Switch, some coding books and a few more on how social media is changing our minds and perceptions.  I do have to finish a few fiction books to.

Goal 5 (Bonus Goal) Find some meaningful volunteer work.  I have been looking and looking for some kind volunteer work that is meaningful to me. I like to help people but I have found that many people who “need” an artist are looking to take advantage of the artists skills and will work them into depression. It would be cool to help with a mural or some kind of artsy fundraiser. Perhaps an advert on Craigslist or something will help. I have not done that yet.

I am working on some bits for my tutorial series. Updates to those should be forth coming.

Have a good 2015!

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Fitting In: An Artist’s View

Fitting in is something that most of us struggle with.

I am not a “spring chicken” and I struggle to find a place for myself, daily.  When I was in my teens, I always hoped that I would find a group that I “belonged” to.  It did not really happen as a teen and it still has not happened, all these years later.

We all work hard to fit into some group, so we will not be lonely or we will be able to grow and communicate.  We alter bits of our personalities to fit in with various groups.  We become reserved to fit in at work, we exert ourselves to be social a group we desire to be a part of.  We give up parts of ourselves, hide parts, or create parts to fit in.  All in hopes that we will not be lonely and have friends.  Even when blogging, parts are hidden.

hidden-emotionsAll we really want is to be wanted for being ourselves.

For an artist it is our mission to share ourselves with as many as we can via our medium.  We use our art to find those who can see us and can like us for who we are.  Through our art we bare part of our being and are truly ourselves.

It can be a lonely existence, walking around as a shell of a being, only showing our light when another looks at a canvas, photograph or our words.  Our passions hidden, only to be seen, felt or heard at random, when a passer by glances up or the radio plays a tune.  We look at everyone wondering if they can see how empty we are.  Wondering if they would see our light once they experienced our art.

We may deny that we are lonely.  We can say we “create art for ourselves.”  We can hide our art from others and ourselves, making ourselves fit in with the group we admire.  It does not work.  We die slowly inside when we do these things.  Our light becomes dimmer every time we lie to ourselves.

I have always wanted to belong to some group.  A group that will appreciate me for who I am.  I have wanted this since I could understand the need.  It has only gotten worse as I have gotten older.  A part of me wonders if I will ever achieve my goal or will I always be outcast, doomed to hide bits of myself.

Then I wonder if I would create any more art if I did fit in somewhere.  Would I still have the need to put bits of myself into my work?  Perhaps my work would take on a new meaning.  To celebrate my light instead of trying to get others to notice it…

You never know until it happens.

New Artists: Starting when YOU are Ready

For some reason non-artists seem to think that all artists start off knowing what they want to do or were “born that way,” with the talent and a rudimentary knowledge on how to use it.  This is simply not correct.

Those artists that were born with the talent do not develop the skills unless they are given the tools to learn it.  In this day and age we have art classes in every stage of our development.  Talent is quickly identified and (in some cases) encouraged.  The budding artists are given access to many mediums and people to teach them the basics.

Not all artists are discovered when they are in school.  Many of our favorite and most influential artists did not start until later in life (article here.)  I was never one for history, even art history, so when I read this I was surprised to see how many started “later” in life.  Some tried and failed early on, others had obligations that kept them from exploring their art and some probably lacked the proper motivation.

There is a bonus starting early and starting late.  Early starters learn about several mediums and usually get to practice each before choosing one they really like.  Late starters have worldly wisdom and can “see” things that early starters cannot.  Late starters know how to research what they want and go for it with all their might.  Early starters get to dawdle and often lack the same gusto when perusing their art.  It is only later in life that, many, early starters realize what they have and peruse it.

Age does not matter when it comes to being an artist.  Determination is what really matters. 

How determined are you to create something?

How determined are you to share your world?

Here are some more artists that started later in life, if you wanted to know, courtesy of wetcanvas.com 🙂

Chuck Homan began painting late in life
Alice Latimer Moseley, Folk Artist started at age 63
Edie Wells Bristol began painting, at age 50
Minnie Pwerle began painting late in life at around the age of 89
Mose Tolliver Folk Artist started painting late in life
James C. Pratt started painting late in life
Bill Traylor, who was born as a slave, began painting at age 83
Kacey Carneal, a folk artist started painting late in life
Rover Thomas, began painting late in life
Nealie O’Sullivan began painting late in life
Nan Rumpf began painting late in life
Margaret Roberts began painting late in life
Yehudith – Israeli artist began painting late in life
Francia (15th century painter) began painting after 40
Dorris Curtis began painting at the age of 65
Matt Lamb began painting at age 49
Joseph Crépin (1875-1948) began painting at age 63
Hattie Brunner (1889-1982) began painting at age 67
Lynn Hoehn watercolorist began painting at age 60
Elmira Wade began painting at age 60
Joseph Pickett (1848–1918) began painting at age 65
Ellis Ruley (1882–1959) began painting at age 57
Joseph Garlock (1884-1979) began painting at age 65
Howard Finster began painting at age 60
Alyce Frank, began painting at age 43

Shooting Myself in the Foot

No, I am not really going to post about self sabotage.  Not directly, anyway.

This title has more to do with how someone could take the contents of the post.  Basically what I have to say is probably going to be a bit of professional self sabotage.  The topic has been weighing on my mind so I am going to post about it anyway.

While having dinner with an artist friend, the topic of what artists talk about when they hang out together came up in passing.  He joked that he would talk about the latest hot chick he had drawn.  If I drew people I would probably do the same (well maybe hot guys instead) but I do not draw/paint people.  This was just a passing topic, but it stuck with me.  Why don’t I like to draw people?

The answer is pretty simple.  I do not like people.  I do not see beauty in the human form.  I see aggravation and stupidity.  I suppose that is what happens when you work customer service your entire life.

Here comes the part where I “Shoot Myself in the Foot.”

This painting was tons of fun to paint.

This painting was tons of fun to paint, until I added the hand holding back the hair.  It just looks so wrong.  I know I should practice painting people, but they irritate me so much!

I wonder what happens to people when they become customers.  It is like they lose all sense and become dribbling idiots, that cannot process a simple directive or thought.  I am always amazed at how someone can transition from being an intelligent, logical and sophisticated individual to a bumbling idiot when they walk up to a person standing/sitting behind a desk waiting to help them. This phenomenon is not exclusive to people who do not work customer service, even we fall victim to being stupid when we become customers. Anyone can become a customer.  You do your best to be a “good” customer, but those are few and far between.

What does this have to do with art?

Artists create things that cause some kind of response, be it emotional or logical.  Some people think that the human form is amazing and find it beautiful and even relaxing.  Others (like me) do not see that.  The human form is complicated and only causes negative stress. It is hard to keep things in proportion, features create odd shapes and getting the skin tones correct is difficult. I paint scenes and things to get away from people.  No people in my paintings means no stress in my paintings.  Nature is much less stressful for some artists to draw/paint.  I can spend hours driving myself insane painting hundred of tiny tri-colored flowers and be perfectly relaxed.  The second I start adding human elements like a hand or bit of arm I start getting stressed out and stop having fun. All because I have negative thoughts associated with people.

Getting Organized

I know a lot of artists and most of us are kind of messy and unorganized.  Not necessarily in our homes, those  may be spotless and super tidy, but in our art.  I know writers that have books scattered all over their work space and painters that “lose” their brushes (or other small paraphernalia)  in the stacks of paper, canvases and paint.  Throw in a little “oo shiny syndrome” and you have four or five projects in the works.  Nothing really gets done because things get lost.

messyworkspaceI have cleaned out my area several times and have found half finished canvases, backgrounds, brushes, tape, paper, and x-acto knives and all sorts of other things that I forgot I even owned.  This time I am going to be more organized when I set up my workspace.

I really believe that a clean and organized area helps organize my thoughts and actions.  An organized work space keeps me on target and working on one to two projects at once.  Giving each my full attention.  Yes, painters can work on several pieces at once and still give each their full attention.  Watching paint dry is not fun, might as well use the time to create something else.

How am I going to do it?

coloredfoldersNot a clue.  I really am not sure how this will come about.  I know I need shelves and that is about all I know right now.  I did find a turning kitchen utensil holder (to hold things like big spoons and spatulas.)  I put all my tall brushes in it and hung my scissors on the pegs on the outside.  I have a square vase for my short brushes and another for knives (sharp and palette.)  In my previous space I used binder clips and some 3M hooks to hang up my newsprint (great for sketches and drafts.)  It worked out well.

I am open to suggestions.  Let me know if you have an idea that will make a workspace more organized.

Superheroes

Have you ever had the chance to save a life?

ImageThis does not have to be rushing into traffic to keep someone from getting run over.  It could be as simple as one phrase drastically changing someones life for the better.

I have not.  Well, not that I know of.  I know people who have with action and words and attitude.  I know someone who’s birth is the ONLY reason that another is alive.  I know someone who seems to save teens’ lives with the same frequency that he eats bacon.  I know people who say another’s words and actions have changed the course of their lives for the better.

None of these describes me.  I just know these people.  These AMAZING people.  Alas, I am not one of them.  I do have to say that it is kind of amazing to know them though. 

We learn early that firefighters, police, teachers, doctors and nurses are types of heroes, people we should look up to.  We never really look at our friends or family as heroes.  Not unless you have police or teachers in your family anyway.  There are average people who go completely unnoticed that have probably saved a life.  That person that gave you gas money when you were stranded, or maybe they gave you a ride to a hotel or gas station.  The random guy who gives a sandwich to a homeless person.  There are countless other selfless acts that we all do every day that COULD be the act that saves a persons life.

No one really thinks that an artist (painter, musician, dancer, potter etc) is a hero.  Artists are usually perceived as selfish people, who only do work for themselves.  Even if a song helps change a persons life direction, no one but the changed person will really credit the artist for the new direction.  Even then the song is the real hero, not the artist. Much credit ends up going to the team that makes the song sound as good as it does.

I should add that as a person an artist can do many things, like donate money to charity, to become a hero.  I am really wondering why the medium is not what can change a life.  Could a person that got dragged into going to the theater experience an epiphany and strive to become better?  Or maybe a gallery viewing sees a painting that strikes that cord and makes them change.

This started of as a question on whether or not you have saved a life and has turned into musing on why society does not seem to think that artists are not heroes through their medium.

Yes, we artists are kind of selfish when it comes to our medium.  That does not mean that we do what we do solely for ourselves.  Just like people blog to have their ideas shared, artist create to share their ideas, feelings, beliefs and skills.  We want people to “see” the world in a different way in hopes that it will make an impression.  We want people to change when they see, here, touch, taste, smell our works.

To the best of my knowledge I have not saved a life.  I have definitely changed some lives, but I have not kept someone from a path of destruction.  I have certainly not had any of my art be the reason for a change.

My questions still stands.

Have you had the chance to save a life?

 

 

Taking Advantage of the Creative

I am not sure if it is a trait among the creative, but it has been pointed out to me several times that creative people “let” themselves be taken advantage of.  This can be from working long hours with little or no pay or being asked to do things that are not quite in our job description (like a graphic designer taking photos for a client.)

Image

Stressed-Out Artist by Izmack, DivantArt

I usually think that I am pretty conscious of what I am doing for people, when I do it  and what I am going to get in return.  There are times when I let my guard down, and those are the times I get myself in trouble.  Working long hours is bad for the body, mind and interpersonal relationships.  The work suffers and, because I failed to say “no,” the relationship with the customer suffers.  Bad for everyone.

So what can we, the trusting artist, do?  I am not really sure.  Run all your projects or clients by someone who is more aware or immune to charm?  That seems like it is going a bit far.  I like the idea of being self sufficient when possible and knocking more than one thing of a list at a time. 

My solution is scheduling and a solid support structure.  If you have a schedule with all of the projects outlined you will see when you have to say “no” to stay within you time constraints.  This will show the client that you know your limitations and are not willing to over book yourself and allow the quality of work to suffer. If you have a long standing relationship with the client they may give you the project at a later time, to fit with your schedule. 

ImageSkipping a new project to allow yourself to do a good job on a current project may be a good thing for you.  Less stress and more time to explore and hone your skill.  This is better than doing the same things over and over, killing whatever passion you had.

The schedule will also show you how much you are doing each day and help with future projects.  From personal experience, I can say that when I get creating and am really interested in what I am doing, I can loose track of time.  I know that I can go for four to five hours at a time, with few breaks.  I usually do not stop until I am done.  I can write down my start time and end time each session to learn my patterns and figure out how much time it takes me for each project.  Handy for billing, and learning my peak productivity times and conditions.

People you trust implicitly are important too.  If you know anyone that “gives it to you straight” all the time, you might want to ask them if you are being taken advantage of.  Friends and family want the best for you and can be a big help when it comes to seeing beyond the charm others have.

In the end, I do not think that the trusting artist is ever going to avoid being abused by clients.  Only friends and family (managers and agents) can help protect you.  Do you best by being aware of your time and build a solid support structure.  Do frequent reality checks, and keep creating.