Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Creative Process and Persistence

 My adjustment from being so involved in my daily life as a full time art student, for the past three years, to suddenly post graduation, and the confluent days of reflection, is not so difficult, as long as I remain diligent in pursuing the challenge of my creative process. One needs to to be proactive and persistent in doing so.

Normally no more than a week passes without me writing whether it be long hand or blogging, because it's what keeps me engaged in my creative process. Although it is a good thing to have down time, and having the opportunity to not think about anything, to let the mental dust settle, but it's now time to get blogging and writing again.

I ask myself, what do I blog about? I don't have an answer to this question, nor do I have any preconceived ideas or plans, but simply am getting to the process of writing, in hopes that this will lead to continued creative expression.

The other day I was painting, using oil, instead of my usual egg tempera medium, strictly for practical purposes, to complete a job for a friend. He built a concession stand for the Summer, and asked if I would paint pictures of delicious looking hotdogs and hamburgers that would look inviting, to potential beach customers, to purchase these at his stand.

I was very grateful to be given the job opportunity, but honestly, I was not so enthusiastic about rendering pictures of hotdogs and hamburgers. I was pleasantly surprised how much I really enjoyed it and in doing so, I was once again  reminded, that it really doesn't matter what I render, but what is important for me, is engaging in a creative process.

I also realize when one gets into a habitual way of thought in doing things a particular way, this can cause one to get into a rut of sorts, bordering on rigidity, or risk developing a kind of attitude, thinking you are some how above painting hotdogs etc., or make negative or non-constructive value judgements.

I realize I've missed working in oil as opposed to using only egg tempera and it really doesn't matter so much what it is I paint or what mediums I use. The creative process is paramount.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Great Animal Orchestra

Coming from a musical family on both sides, music was a way of life as natural as breathing, a way of communication, although it wasn't until later in life that I came to realize what it meant on a deeper and conscious level.
I  heard something yesterday on CBC Radio One, The Current that clarified and confirmed for me what I always knew to be intuitively true.

Dr. Bernie Krause , who is also a musician who once playing with the renowned  folk group the Weavers has a new book entitled, The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Three Years As Mature Student

I felt it appropriate to write a before and post-graduation reflection over the past three years as a mature student at Mount Allison University, in the Fine Arts program, which has been the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.

The challenges and struggles in life that are really worthwhile are always accomplished and overcome I believe, with the support, help and generosity of from others. I am hear to attest to that and to say a huge thank you to all those who helped me along the way, and I would never been able to do it otherwise.

So many highlights of  the Convocation Graduation Ceremony yesterday, but I'd like to share just a few. The anticipation and long wait was all part of the excitement which was the build up of the final moment when our row of very overheated BFA Graduates headed to the stage.

I was completely in the present moment and even forgot that my pantyhose felt like they were hanging and dropping down around my knees! I was trying to listen to my posse of childhood girlfriends hoot and holler, as they promised they would and they did deliver, tears and all!

As I headed over to get hooded  in front of Peter Mansbridge, probably the most trusted Canadian news man ever, is Mount Allison University's Chancellor. Each graduate kneels before the Chancellor, while he shares perhaps words of wisdom or you tell him how honoured you are to meet him, how much he is loved by your mother, or ask what his favourite sandwich is and ask if he has one because you are starved! He has the most beautiful kind eyes. Meeting him was the greatest thrill.

Then I found out I had been given the Catherine MacDonald- Arsenault Memorial Prize, awarded to a graduating mature student who has demonstrated perseverance and determination in the pursuit of his/her Mount Allison Degree. I thought they must have been confusing me with some one else because it was a complete surprize to me. My friends and class mates knew before I did! I was completely verklempt when I walked off the stage and there was my very dear friend Lois ready to take pictures and give me a big hug while giving me a shoulder to blubber on!

Being a mature student has been a struggle and a challenge right up to the very last day. I thought it might get easier, but it didn't, other than I knew I had the strength to jump, go around, through or over each hurdle ahead, one at a time, one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time, and this made all the difference. If I hadn't had this kind of daily practice of  living in the present moment, without projecting into the future, I would have been dead in the water a long time ago. When you go through this walk of fire, you find out what you are made of, and hopefully can enable or help some one else going through a similar circumstance.

This sharing is what makes it all worth while. I am simply passing on what was so freely given to me. I can't ever begin to repay the gifts, strength, hope and example given to me by others, who sustained and inspired me to keep going,  to achieve my goals, and to fulfill my dreams.

I am so grateful that words cannot adequately express what I feel in my heart. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you for being the wind beneath my wings.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Self-Publishing, Kindle, The Printed Blog

Now that I have finished school, I have been happily turning my garden, getting it ready for planting, which I dearly love, and it is form of meditative, creative therapy for me, where I can reconnect with the earth, my soul and with the God of my understanding.
I often listen to CBC radio while I'm outside digging. I learn so much from the variety of CBC Radio programing. It's always been this way, growing up we listened to the radio as a family and individually as a great source of entertainment and knowledge.

A few days ago while digging in the soil, I heard a woman talking about how she'd written and self-published books online, through Amazon Kindle. I thought wow that's wonderful, and I wished I could do that! I was also thinking it wouldn't be possible for me to publish my blog through Kindle because I didn't think blogs would be accepted. I was wrong and very pleasantly surprised to find out I could, and I would be published! I really am not certain what their criteria is, in deciding who gets published or not. I did write Kindle, inquiring what the criteria is, but haven't heard back as of yet. 

The satisfaction of self-publishing is very appealing for the talented or regular schmo, simply wanting to share their own personal stories and we all have one or even  many to tell. Too often we believe we don't have a story worthwhile sharing, but I have come to realize that we can never underestimate how our own story can help someone else.

One of the obvious advantages of self-publishing I would think, is avoiding the daunting obstacle course, hurdles that lie ahead, and the rigors of having to face rejection after rejection, from various publishing companies, not to mention the financial burdens that exist for many of us in the creative field. 

A few years back on CBC radio I also learned about The Printed Blog which is a really attractive idea to me. Founder, Josh Karp believes there is great online content out there and bloggers should be remitted accordingly. He is committed to the idea of the printed word, in hard copy publishing, as a magazine/newspaper.
Time will tell if this idea is going to fly. I sure hope it does! The Printed Blog was up and running for about a year and then he was forced to shut the operation down due to financial issues and now he has started up again with a renewed vision. I sure wish him well and the very best of luck.

During Tim Jahns' interview of Karp with Entrepreneurs Unplugged, entitled, What Josh Karp Learned As Founder of The Printed Blog, Karp impresses me as being the kind of entrepreneur the business world is in need of, one who believes in people, with a positive attitude, full of imagination and resiliently enterprising.

I  strongly believe in the power of the printed word, however why can't we have both on and off line? We all have to use our own intelligence and discernment in deciding what is valuable and factual truth, regardless of the sourced media  material we choose.

Bloggers and journalists, according to Josh Karp, are very enthusiastic about his endeavor. I believe we are redefining our ideas and notions of what journalism, and  publishing means. I think this is a good thing.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

John Haney, A Photographer with a Capital "P"

Today I heard a great interview on Art Waves. The interview was with John Haney who was the Photography Technician at Mount Allison when I was there. He was a great teacher, photography mentor, a talented and gifted photographer and all around great guy. He was greatly missed at the Photo Department when he left. It was wonderful to hear his voice and I am grateful to have had him as a teacher and to call him my friend.

When I was trying to find a photograph of John's work to post, I decided on this barn located in Caledon Ontario, where John's family lives. We both lived here at one time. I was there many years ago as a young girl of ten. It was my favourite place to live in Southern Ontario and it's great horse country.

May Day

Here it is, May Day , the International Day of The Worker, the month and the year I have been waiting for a long, long, long  time, for my graduation and completion of my Bachelor of Fine Art Degree! Finally reaching this juncture, though surreal  it has been poignant and painful and this experience has been very real to me. I know this reality has made me much stronger, and it was worth every effort and struggle, regardless of friends gained or lost.

I have come to some very important realizations, that are only obtained through  discernment, achieved through a lot of hard lessons, with a lot of hard work, loving what I do and having an invaluable sense of humour. I realize I have much to learn, I am stronger than I think and I want certain people, places and things in my life, and well the rest can go blow it out their shorts. I am unburdening and freeing myself  from who and what drags me down.

Now that I have finished the past three years of University with my BFA , I am taking inventory of my life and evaluating what I want, and do not want to do now. I do have a few ideas that I am pretty excited about and that sure feels great!

I have lots of time on my hands suddenly, and gardening has been very therapeutic and relaxing, but I am soon going to get at my art work again, though, it is lovely I must say, having a bit of a break, and that I am certain will help me with my creative process.

Art making always seems to be perceived as being serious work and you get a fair amount of this when you study art in a Fine Art program, in a University setting. I have never had that opinion. Art making can and should be taken seriously but needs to be balanced with much fun. Learning should be fun! It is absolutely necessary I believe, to have fun at being creative as an artist, because it is what enables creativity to happen, regardless of what you do as work or what you study. It has been long said, love what you do and you will never work again. I think this is what is meant by, following your passion, which I strive for and will always continue to do so. It's what sustains me.

Play and humour have been so central and paramount to my life and it the foundation of my own personal philosophy and within the last while, I have found two particular people that reaffirmed and clarified this belief for me. One is, Jonah Lehrer  who wrote, How Creativity Works, It's All In Your Imagination, and the other is, Wayne White.

I proudly confess I was addicted to Pee Wee Herman's Playhouse when I was a younger adult. I watched faithfully every Saturday morning. I never missed an episode and recorded every single one. I was always in awe of all the puppetry the set design of Pee Wee's Playhouse, all the scenarios and actors.

I was always crazy about puppets and having fun through play and my imagination as a kid. One of my most memorable and I think very special life changing moments was when my dear mum who was a great creative influence, took me to a puppet store in downtown Toronto, on one of those warm, rainy mornings in downtown Toronto. She had taken a day off from work especially, so we could do something together. I felt very loved and was immediately hooked to puppetry when  my mother bought me a beautiful marionette, a Spanish Flamingo dancer! She was truly a thing of beauty to me!

I think a big part of my creative psyche was lived vicariously through seeing shows growing up, like Soupy Sales, Sherry Lewis and of course The Muppets and especially Pee Wee's Playhouse. I wanted to be part of all that play and creativity.  It came together for me when I'd found out Paul Rubin, aka Pee Wee, was a Cal Art graduate, however I never knew who the creator of all those fantastic puppets and the set making was, until today! How exciting it is to discover an artist you never knew about, but you inadvertently admired their work for so many years. Wayne White was this person for me, and I am so excited to learn of the documentary about him, Beauty Is Embarrassing. Wow! I can hardly wait to see this!

I hope you take time to look at the links I have posted. I think you'll find them very entertaining, informative and most of all fun! Happy May Day everyone!
"Only in men's imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life."
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), Polish-born English novelist. A Personal Record, chapter 1 (1912).