Archive for September, 2010

Every Master started as an Amateur

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere.

While viewing my art, someone asked me, “how do you DO that??”

This is what I have to say:

Making art is an act of meditation. Like any practice, you must do it because you absolutely love doing it. There are no exceptions! Whatever you choose to devote your time to day after day, night after night, it is important to make this one commitment: to do what you love. How can you be of Service to yourself and the world around you? What serves the Heart? Does this path have a Heart? If, after asking that question (about anything), you get a “no,”  change direction. And remember, what serves the Heart serves everyone. That’s just how it works. If I am doing something that brings me pure unadulterated joy (i.e. making art), that joy radiates to everyone around me. Not only that, but the art created in that pure happy space is infused with joy juice, and people can’t help but feel the effects of it when they see artworks created from within that palace.

Ok. So, how do i do it?

Whenever I pick up my pencil or paintbrush, I am making the decision to be Patient, Kind, and Courageous. In my opinion, these three attributes are some of the most important tools in creating a Masterpeace.

Patience

Beautiful art making requires time. The art process, like a lover, asks the artist to allow things to unfold naturally; and that means we need patience — complete surrender to what is without pushing any sort of agenda. We need to listen and take things slow, especially in the beginning. Have you ever noticed how time seems to expand when you are spending time with someone you absolutely adore? We have the ability to actually slow time down when we enter each moment with patient deliberation. When I am completely focused, and allowing the creative process to take hold of me, I take as much time as I need to get each small detail to look and feel look juuuuust right. Let go of thoughts like, “This is taking way to long,” or, “I need to get this done.” In meditation, you can’t expect to become enlightened in one sitting, can you? Commit to a time and space to practice your art, make the effort to have patience with yourself. Receive the gift of a whole morning, afternoon, or evening to just allow your creativity to roam wild.

Kindness

Of course, kindness walks hand in hand with patience. We must be kind to ourselves! Not one masterpiece would have ever been created if its maker was not kind to herself. Self ridicule kills the imagination, so ignore any harsh judgements that flare up when you tackle the canvas. If you find that your inner critic is especially rowdy, do what Julia Cameron (author of The Artist’s Way) recommends: give this critic a silly name, and come up with an exaggerated visual of this being that wants to “destroy” you. The more humorous the better so that when he or she appears, it is less likely that this character will be taken seriously. That, and you will be able to recognize that this harsh critic is not you, but a rather a rather harmless illusion.

If somewhere in the creative process, things are just not turning out the way you imagined, give yourself a pep talk. Turn to patience and step back for a bit. Figure out what it is that needs to be changed, and do it. Don’t be afraid to rework areas that need help. One of my favorite quotes from M.C Escher went something like, “everything I ever made was just a mistake I was trying to fix.”  Technique takes time to develop, and the more practice you have trying to get things just right brings you one step closer to mastering your skill.

Courage

Alas, it is truly an act of bravery for anyone to attempt to put on paper things that can only be felt or “seen” in the mind. As artists, we get to do that! What does courage look like on paper? How does it affect the way we work? Do not fear your shadow, a.k.a. shading. Don’t be afraid to cover the full range of light to dark when you draw. Practice making smooth gradients from white to black, and apply that to whatever you sketch. Pick something in real life to draw, and exaggerate the shading. If something is black, or near black, make it so. And be sure to leave the white spaces white. For highlights, you can also use an eraser to make things pop. This full range of light to dark creates depth, and results in a much stronger image than a barely there scratch on the paper.

This is all I have for now, friends. I hope this is helpful to some of you out there who need a little nudge in the right direction for sparking that creativity.