Monday, June 27, 2016

Art Contests Who Needs Them?

If I don't like art contests does that make me a spoiled sport, a chicken, a coward or plainly a wimp? Short answer no. Competition is just one part of the 'cultural iceberg'.

I've never been the competitive type, though in the very distant past I have entered contests, mainly for singing, not visual art. Generally these contests left me feeling really crappy and I know I'd never enter another. I'm not saying all competition is or needs to be a negative experience, but when it comes to creativity and art it just isn't healthy or good for an artist's confidence or self-esteem. Contests are win/loose scenarios. The artist looses and as Ann Rea states, the organizers win.

Today I found an email from Artists Who Thrive -Ann Rea, who talks about this very thing and succinctly expresses her ideas and thoughts about what happens when artists enter art contests and why they are a waste of time.  Here is what she has to say.

" Entering art contests is a waste of damn time. The only ones who win are the organizers.
Too many artists are wasting their precious time, money, and energy by entering art contests for a blue ribbon or an unlikely cash prize award, when what they really want is just to sell their art.

Art contest organizers make money by banking on your insecurities and desperate need for validation. If you really believed in the art that you are trying to sell you wouldn’t participate in this nonsense.

I get it. We all want to be loved, seen, and heard but this is not the way.
If what you really want is to sell your art, then steer clear of art contests. Here’s why.

1.) These enterprises charge hefty sums of money and you get little to nothing in return, and yet you pay for that privilege.
So you get blue ribbon. How does that help you sell your art? It doesn’t.
No one cares about your blue ribbon but you.

2.) Art contests use language and positioning to imply a false sense of prestige.
Art collectors are moved to buy your art, and the value you offer above and beyond it, or they’re not.
A list of “awards” isn’t going to change how collectors feel or get them to buy your art.

3.) Art contests harden the scarcity and permission based mindset which is biggest self-limiting obstacle to an artist’s success.

4.) Competing with other artists fuels toxic and petty jealousy.
If you’re going to compete, compete for your collector’s attention and discretionary budget.
I’ve never had a collector who was trying to decide between my art or another artist’s art.
They’re trying to decide if they’ll going to indulge in purchasing the luxury retail product that I’m offering or another non-art luxury retail product or experience.

5.) Who are these self-appointed art judges anyway?
Art critics are often frustrated creatives.
What gives them the authority to pass judgment on your art?
Art is in they eye of the beholder. There is lid for every jar. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You get the picture?
Unless they’re actually going to buy your art, don’t give them an opportunity to judge it.

6.) Art contests imply that there is only one winner, one success. Look at how you’re defining success.
My definition of success is getting paid for inspiring other people with my art. It’s not beating other artists at game someone made up for their profit and our loss.

7.) You only have so much energy, money, and time left in this life. Instead of spending it on futile activities like art contests, invest it in building your own creative enterprise and learning how to create value above and beyond your art.
  • Have you entered art contests?
  • How much have you spent on entry fees?
  • How much have you spent on supplies, photography, and or shipping?
  • How much time have you spent? "

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What I Learned About Creativity Today In The Garden

Gardening always gives me a great sense of being connected to myself and to the environment, and I know it's good for my creativity.

Today I had some specific goals I wanted to get accomplished, that all involved working outside. I quickly got the first bit done, finishing off mowing a small patch of lawn that didn't get done a few days back, because I mistakenly had left the cap off my gas container and rain water got added to my gas. It crossed my mind that I might have water in the gas but I hoped that rain didn't get into the jug, but I the small amount of gas in the mower any way and didn't give it any more thought. I should have thought about it before I put it in, because then of course this caused my lawn mower to crap out, which I had to get fixed.

I don't have a tiller, which means I dig, dig, dig to turn over my soil to prepare for planting and transplanting. So I tackled that chore after I mowed. Yes, it's hard physical work, but I do love it, being good exercise and a great way to cope with or prevent stress and it clears out the cob webs in my mind.

 Fact being it was after I'd finished the chore, I'd immediately realized I pushed myself way too hard, out in the sun too long, during the hottest part of the day. When I finally stopped I was feeling weak, and frankly pretty weird and thought I might faint. When I came in I dragged my sorry butt upstairs to use the bathroom. I was now feeling both nauseated and light headed. I immediately flopped down on my bed in exhaustion and soon recovered.

The old adage of hindsight being 50/50 I'm sure came into being because of people like me doing things before really thinking about them.

If I don't think about what I'm doing before I do it, I'll end up having to do it again or make a good situation not so good, and even problematic, otherwise this gets in the way of my creativity no matter what I'm doing.

Lessons learned:

1. Don't leave the cap off the gas jug.
2. If the cap has been left off and the jug is outside, don't use the gas.

3. Don't dig in the garden during the heat of the day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Eric Roche - With These Hands

I'm not an insomniac but I do listen to late night radio, RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland  in particular I always really enjoy because of the story telling that the Irish are so good at.

Last night I learned about Eric Roche. His brother Bryan was featured in this documentary who told his older brother Eric's story, entitled With These Hands his life as a musician, and mostly it was a touching tribute and testament to the deep love between brothers. It is also the beautiful story of learning how to live and how to die. I identified so much with Eric's younger brother Bryan and what he shared about his big brother Eric because I also lost my big brother, who taught me so much about life.

Today I listened to some Eric Roche's youtube videos and was blown away by his talent and interpretations of so many songs. If you haven't heard of him or his music, check him out. The guy was a beautiful soul and  freakin' amazing virtuoso talent!


Saturday, June 18, 2016

I'm Curious About Alberto Manquel

I am far from being an academic and scholar or even an avid reader, though I do make an effort to read especially philosophical or psychological books and books about creativity. I love life long learning.

Alberto Manquel is all these things, those he sees himself as a reader. I have never read any of his books and never even heard his name until yesterday on my favourite program CBC Ideas. Last night's show was about the listeners and the episodes that they most loved, and why.

What sparked my interest was a clip froman episode that featured Alberto Manguel. What was said about language being a form of love, and how stories is the language that defines "what we are", affirms "that we are" and how this is about our mutual perception, really struck me. I had to find out more about this dude Alberto Manquel.

There was mention of his new book creativity, called Creativity. From what I've learned, this book it's more about Alberto Manguels' curiosity about curiosity. I am of the opinion the creativity is curiosity, about asking questions and discovery. It greatly saddens me to see an educational system that is generally lacking in creativity, curiosity and questions, the opposite of what it should be.

As Einstein once said,  " He had no special talent beyond being passionately curious, we can say that there is no other avenue to cultivating creative work aside from impassioned curiosity. "

Alberto Manquel says " Schools and colleges have become training camps for skilled labour instead of forums for questioning and discussion. "

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Shadow and The Scapegoat

Like most people listening to the news coming out of Orlando the past few days, I have been deeply saddened and disturbed to hear once again this kind of rampage of violence perpetrated against innocents. This seems to be the present the way of the world.
Words fail to describe my feelings and to try to determine the reasons I believe are a combination of complex issues, so difficult to pin point and understand.

I think Carl Jung and René Girard have given on of the best explanations of the human condition contributing to the violent events that have happened and continue to happen in our very questionable, so called, civilized society.

 Carl Jung's perspective regarding the shadow that exists within all of us, and René Girard's description of the scapegoat make the most sense to me, but these are not to be seen as a fait accompli and a resignation from doing all that we can do to address hatred, and to actively speak out and advocate against the abuse of power and control. We must denounce those who want to suppress social justice and who instead promote hatred.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Roy Henry Vickers - "The Medicine of the Healer..."

B.C. artist Roy Henry Vickers (Robert “Lucky" Budd)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about First Nations spiritual philosophy lately, and on Thursday it was timely to hear an interview with an artist I was unfamiliar with. Roy Henry Vickers is First Nations and has a very insightful and personal vision into the world of addiction and recovery and how his art helps him to tell stories that heal.
" The medicine of the healer is stories."

 Oh Great Spirit whose voice I hear in the wind
Whose breathe gives life to the world
Hear me
I come to you as one of many children´s
I´m small and weak, I need your strength and your wisdom
May I walk in beauty
May my eyes ever be hold the red and purple sunset
Make my hands respect the things that you have made
And my ears sharp to hear your voice
Make me wise, so there I may know the teachings you have for your children´s
The lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock
MAKE ME STRONG , not to be superior to my brothers and sisters
But to fight my greatest enemy My self
Make ever ready to come to you with straight eyes
So when life is as a sunset, my spirit will come to you
Without shame

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Yesterday We Ran Out of PAINTS


Yesterday we had our last PAINTS session with grades 3-5. It was a bitter sweet day. I think we were all sad it was over. Hopefully we'll be able to have another go round in September.
What a great bunch of amazingly insightful, imaginative and creative kids they are.

It's hard to put into words the feeling I had after they'd all collaborated in a very special exhibit of their artwork created over the past eight weeks. I was so proud of them all and I could see the pride they had in themselves.

 All the other classes and teachers in our little rural school were invited in to see what they had done. The kids were paired off in groups at particular stationed areas of the room, where we had their art work displayed on tables. As the other classes entered the room the students would give a brief description of what the artwork was about in relation to the Circle of Courage.

It immediately became so obvious how important this overall conclusion to our PAINTS program was, and that this exhibition was such a vital part of the whole program. It made it real, gave it a depth of meaning to the effort the students had made and brought it all together.

First Workshop -  Belonging/Community/History - Sculpture/Hand building techniques with ceramic clay creating symbolic Animal Totems represented in the Circle of Courage.

Drawing, Painting and Collage using various mediums and techniques were all an important part of our creative process.

Second Workshop -  Independence/Connection between Self/Others/Environment awareness and social harmony - Mandalas

Third Workshop - Generousity/Developing Empathy - Earth Wall Tiles

Fourth Workshop - Mastery/Achieving Goals - Masks

The Circle of Courage project is based on the model of positive youth development founded on the universal principle that to be emotionally healthy all youth need a sense of belonging/attachment, mastery/achievement, independence/autonomy and generosity/altruism.

Each session explored the basic universal growth needs through art activities such as hand built sculpture using ceramic clay, applying techniques for hand built animals that represented and expressed the animal totems in the Circle of Courage.  These animals were the Bear, symbolizing Belonging, the Buffalo, symbolizing Mastery, the Eagle, symbolizing Independence and the Deer, symbolizing Generousity.

Our afternoons began and ended with engaging discussion about the topic and workshop. The students all enthusiastically created pictures using various drawing mediums and tempera painting on paper prior to creating each project.

 Discussions also took place regularly surrounding colour, the colour wheel, mixing and application of colour, techniques and introduction to learning about graphite drawing pencils.
We always had a time of reflection at the end each session for each student to express what was learned and then there was a brief introduction of what was going to happen in the coming week. This always proved to show how insightful these young budding artists were about creativity and their understanding, insight and connection with themselves, the world, and their environment. I was very much impressed!

I presented online examples and brought in my own artwork of paintings, sculpture, drawings of sacred geometry/mandalas, online resources of historical examples of masks and their uses in all cultures and I showed them a youtube video of Mummenschanz is a Swiss mask theater troupe who perform in a surreal mask and we discussed all of these in relation to art and the Circle of Courage.

We concluded PAINTS with an very enjoyable and wonderful exhibition in the school and we were all very proud and very happy!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Circle of Courage - Garbage Bags - Youth Care Workers - The World

I am sorry to be wrapping up the PAINTS ( Professional Artists in the Schools) program with the kids, grades 3 to 5, in our local school this coming week. I so wished it was continuing and in a perfect world, art would be offered to youth each and everyday in schools, as the educational foundation that enables youth to connect with themselves, others, with the environment and their world. The PAINTS program I offered was based on the First Nations Circle of Courage which reflects basic human needs and the values of Belonging, Independence, Mastery and Generousity/Empathy. These were expressed through the art work and creative imaginations of these insightful youth who have inspired and left me feeling hopeful.

In my other life and vocation as a Youth Care Worker for 20 plus years, I became acutely and personally aware through my work with youth and families within the system, of the crisis that exists with youth on both a national, and global scale.

It pains me greatly when I hear the proverbial cheap lip service, and rhetoric of how youth are our greatest resource. This is not what is reflected in reality throughout the world, when you see the proven statistics accounting for child abuse, poverty, homelessness, or suicide among young people baring the burden of mental health and addiction issues.

Many troubled youth at risk who have spent years within foster care, group homes and custodial facilities, especially those who have been involved in the courts, are eventually more often than not preened for the adult correctional system especially if they don't get the help they need.

Once a youth has served their sentence in open or closed custody, they are basically on their own without enough to no support and return to dysfunctional homes, they choose to live on the street or couch surf, go missing or in the worse case scenario, are found dead.

With the influx of people moving to the urban and city areas these complex problems are compounded and
 intensified resulting in more serious issues.

There are many theories and reasons that have long been discussed in order to resolve this crisis among youth. But for me it has mostly been empty talk with no concrete resolutions particularly when politicians or government is involved and falls upon deaf ears. I don't put my faith in politics or government. However they still need to be lobbied and pressured to do the right thing for families and youth.

There are some folks who I believe are making a difference. The front line workers, those who genuinely care enough to advocate for kids and families, and the youth themselves, such as organizations like Hope Blooms.

 Violet-Rose Pharaoh who started the garbage bag challenge is raising awareness and funds to provide suitcases to kids in care. Time and time again I saw kids who were carrying around all of their belongings in garbage bags and this is what they left group homes with.
Violet spent much of her childhood and youth in care.

Another person, a Youth Care Worker who is making a difference through Twitter, is Mark Cherrington.
Dr. Bernie Krause is another individual who understands how humans need to be living harmoniously with connection to the environment instead of trying to conquer it.

There are no simple solutions to the crisis among youth and families. I do believe however that if values are imparted to children that fulfill their needs in order to give them a true sense of belonging, independence, mastery and generousity, these would in turn make a huge difference in the well being of our youth, our families and in our world.