A little inspiration for your Saturday morning via one of my favorite sites, High Existence.
Also, call me immature, but can anyone else not hear the word “montage” without their brain launching into the song from Team America: World Police?
It’s no secret that I LOVED watching Bob Ross on PBS as a kid. I even talked about it in this post. He came on in the late morning/early afternoon after the kids cartoons were over, and I watched him all the time. It provided me endless amazement that he could take an empty canvas, and half an hour later end up with a beautiful little scene that seemed almost magical in it’s effortlessness.
Bob Ross never struggled. He never got frustrated. He never scowled at his painting or threw down a brush and abandoned his canvas for three weeks. Happy little trees. Happy little clouds. Happy, happy. He was always gentle and pleasant and calming, and even though landscape paintings tend to bore me, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for watching Bob Ross.
There will always be someone else doing what you want to do, who has a much more ideal situation than you.
There will always be that person who can quit their job and start their own business while their spouse’s income supports the family.
There will always be that person who was able to attend school without also juggling a full time job.
There will always be that person who has much better connections than you.
There will always be that person who didn’t have to pay a penny of their own money to go to school.
There will always be that person with much greater raw talent than you.
There will always be that person who doesn’t have children to take care of, and can sink more time and effort into their endeavors than you can.
There will always be that person getting help and support, while you’re going at it alone.
There will always be that person who gets to attend that important event you so desperately wanted to go to, while you had to stay home.
There will always be that person who gets to work from home, and doesn’t have to spend three hours of their day commuting.
There will always be that person who becomes successful much faster than you, with less effort.
There will always be that person who makes more money than you doing the same caliber work.
There will always be that person who has more creative ideas than you.
There will always be that person blessed with free daycare, while you have to pay a small fortune.
The question is, even after naming all the reasons how it could be easier, even knowing all the ways the deck is stacked against you….
Good. Me too. Dig in deep. I’m right there with you.
I had a nice little drive this morning for kind of a stupid reason. My daughter had to be at school early today, and me being me, I hit the snooze button a few too many times. Although we managed to get her there on time, I left the house in pajama pants, with unbrushed hair and raccoon eyes from forgetting to wash off my mascara before I went to bed. Also, we couldn’t find the baby’s shoes, so we left without them. I thought, screw it, I’m going to be home in five minutes anyway.
Except that the weather was sunny, breezy, deliciously warm, and I started thinking that iced coffee sounded pretty fantastic. Rather than drive home, make myself look human, then head to the Starbuck’s five minutes away, I drove fifteen minutes out of my way to one with a drive thru. I mean, even if I got myself looking presentable, I still had the baby with me. For all the squirming and squiggling she puts up getting in and out of her car seat, going the drive thru route was probably actually a time saver. Mom logic. Gotta love it.
Anywhooooooo……I was listening to the radio (because as usual, I forgot to charge my iPod) and they started talking about how today is Geek Pride Day. I was unaware that this existed, but if you click the link it takes you to Wikipedia which will assure you that it is indeed a real thing. Anyway, they were talking about how the things that will categorize people as dorky when they’re younger (i.e. high school and everything before) are actually the same things that create some really awesome and interesting adults. Think about some of the most interesting people you know. I bet they’re pretty passionately geeky about a thing or two. After all, what’s geekiness but raw unbridled excitement about something, without regard to how “cool” other people think it is? There are all kinds of geeks; art geeks, tech geeks, music geeks, photography geeks, movie geeks, book geeks…they all have ridiculous amounts of enthusiasm about their topic of choice. And isn’t that awesome? I think it is. I love that we get older and stop caring about what people think of us, and instead care about the things that excite us. And if it’s not the coolest thing on the planet…oh well. If someone can volley Futurama quotes back and forth with me and sing the entire Monorail song from The Simpsons, or launch into an excited ten minute explaination when I ask a simple computer question…they’re all right in my book.
Get your geek on, my friends.
What do YOU get geekishly excited about?
I was lucky enough to get most of the afternoon to myself today, so after a quick caffeine fuel-up, a trip to the store to exchange a shirt that I accidentally bought in two sizes (who does that?), and a stop at Hobby Lobby where I scored a great deal on a two pack of canvases, I went home and dove right into a watercolor project that wanted to start since….well, FOREVER ago!
Why watercolors? I haven’t used watercolors since High School and for good reason…I don’t like them. At least, that’s what I remembered from the last time I used them. I feel like they don’t give me enough control over tiny details, they take forever to dry (or I just use way too much water) and they just make me frustrated and impatient. So why would I want to use a medium that annoys me so much? To break out of my comfort zone and try something new.
I’ve done so many tight, super-detailed geometric drawings that I have the process memorized, and I almost feel like I’m on auto-pilot when I work. Using watercolors forced me to slow down, think, and make completely different decisions than when I work with micron pens and markers. Working with watercolors was looser, messier….and FUN! I honestly had a blast this afternoon, and the hours completely flew by. I experimented with splatter techniques, layered colors on top of one another, and painted without worrying about all the “rules” I have in my head when I do my geometric drawings. I didn’t have time to finish my painting before it was time to pick up the kids, but I got enough done that I have a definite vision of how I want it to end up. I’m really, really looking forward to my next chance to work on it some more.
The point of all this? Don’t be afraid to try something new! You might not do your “best” work, but experimenting with a different medium can really loosen you up and force yourself to not take it so seriously. Who knows…you might even like it!
This afternoon I had the good fortune of my daughter falling asleep in the car and actually staying asleep the entire time I perused the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Can you believe it? I got almost an hour and a half on uninterrupted browsing time, Sure, the BF and I go to Barnes & Noble all the time, but there’s something to be said about wandering the aisles, taking your sweet time. Bliss.
After browsing the bargain books (my art reference book heaven), art, web design, cookbooks, photography, and science sections (I’m not that much of a fiction reader lately) I spotted a copy of A Brief History of Time, and remembered that it’s been on my to-read list for years. I’ve always been interested in space, astronomy, time, where the universe came from…pretty much everything that the book is about. I can’t believe it took me this long to read it.
Since I have books on the brain right now, I thought it might be fun to share a couple of my favorites with you.
Alice in Wonderland // CS Lewis
The Acid House // Irvine Welsh
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas // Hunter S. Thompson
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest // Ken Kesey
The Shining // Stephen King
The Museum at Purgatory // Nick Bantock
The Catcher in the Rye // JD Salinger
The Magic of MC Esher //JL Locker
The Secret Art of Dr Seuss // Maria Popova
Celestial Gallery: Cosmos of the Enlightened Vision // Romio Shrestha
Karma and Happiness // The Dahli Lama
Kitchen Confidential // Anthony Bourdain
The Color Index // Jim Krause
The Layout Idea Index // Jim Krause
What are you reading right now? Any recommendations?
Well, maybe not. Don’t give up just yet.
I’ve been incredibly grateful that for the last few months I’ve been experiencing a great creative spell. Ideas are popping into my head faster than I can bring them into fruition. I have notebook upon notebook filled with scribbles, lists, sketches, pictures torn out of magazines, etc. I feel like I’ll never catch up with them with the limited amount of time left over in my day after work, commuting, and taking care of the kids. So I diligently record each idea to the best of my ability so I don’t lose that “seed” idea, and return to it the first opportunity I get. It’s a very good place to be.
Now, before you think I’m being smug and obnoxious and you want to throw a book at my head, know that I struggle with dry spells ALL THE TIME. I think that creative people hold themselves to such a high standard, that when we get an idea that others might jump up and yell “Eureka!” we over-think it. Has anyone is the history of the world thought of anything even remotely similar? Well, then it’s no good. Back to the drawing board. We’re so critical of our own ideas that we paralyze ourselves with fear and anxiety over our own abilities.
This one kind of seems like a no-brainer, and it’s on EVERY list ever about creativity, but that’s because it WORKS! I have a black notebook that I keep in my purse, and an organizational app called Evernote that’s synced between my phone and computer. Any time I get an idea, I go to the closest thing that’s available and write it down. Whether it’s a few key words, a line from a song, a rough sketch that only you’ll be able to decipher, or a clipping or picture from an article, you need to capture that spark of an idea and save it for later. It doesn’t matter what it is or even why you like it. You don’t need to justify it or flesh it out just yet. Just capture it. When your mind isn’t stressing out over trying to retain your current ideas, it relaxes you and frees you to come up with new ones
Again, this one seems obvious, but you need to know when and where your best ideas usually occur. Is it when you first roll out of bed? Have a notebook by your nightstand. Is it when you’re going for a run? Use the voice recorder on your phone to blurt them out as you go. I find that I’m constantly coming up with ideas during my commute to work. It makes sense…I’m alone, listening to music, and although I’m focused on driving, my mind is free to go where it pleases. I know that awesome ideas could pop up at anytime in that car, so I’ll either voice record them on my phone, or jot them down in my notebook at a stoplight. Great ideas come to me at work sometimes too, so I’ll click over to an empty file, jot them down, save it, and then go back to business.
Are you a jewelry designer? Look at watercolors. Are you a web designer? Look at sculptures. Are you a photographer? Look at illustrations. When you look at art in the same vein that you work in, it’s almost impossible not to compare yourself. When you’re stressed out about not being as good as X, Y or Z, it’s hard to come up with fresh ideas. Also, when you’re looking at work similar to yours, it can be very easy to subconsciously start copying, and then feeling like you don’t have any original ideas. Think about what you like in the works you’re looking at. Is it a color combination? A quality of light? A type style? Think about how you might use these elements in a fresh way.
I love listening to music both when I’m creating, and when I’m driving. I find that sometimes I get stuck in a musical rut, where I really only want to listen to three or four bands. Sometimes when I put my ipod on “shuffle” instead and it brings up something I haven’t heard in forever, it sparks an idea. Maybe a certain song brings me back to a moment five years ago, and I suddenly remember where I was, the people I was with, the sights, the scenery and…..BAM! Sudden inspiration. Try it.
Hang onto your old work, whether it’s a digital copy or the original (I know it’s easier said than done, and the clutter in my house will attest to what happens when you actually DO hang onto everything). Go through your old work, and see if there’s anything you want to revisit. Maybe your skills have improved, or you learned a technique you think would suit it better. Maybe you look at it and think “If only I had done _____ instead.” Well….try it. Change your composition. Repaint it in oils instead of watercolors. Change the color palette.. Now is your chance to make it into what you wanted it to be all along.
Like I said, nothing paralyzes creativity like comparison, whether it’s comparing yourself to others, or comparing your new works to past works. Try breaking out of your box and working outside your comfort zone. Do something that’s NOT your specialty. Shoot some photos. Play with Photoshop. Doodle. Sketch. It may not be a masterpiece in the end, but it might just relax you and get your creating juices flowing again. If nothing else, you might pick up a new trick or technique to add to your arsenal for next time.
If you’ve tried everything you can think of and still feel frustrated and angry, sometimes the best thing you can do is momentarily give up. Whether it’s a ten minute coffee break or an afternoon outdoors, sometimes you just need to get away and give yourself some breathing room. Watch a movie, make dinner, go for a walk, just remove that pressure from yourself and you’ll be surprised at how many ideas surface on their own when your mind is preoccupied with another task.
Do you have any great tips for sparking ideas when you’re going through a creative drought? What are they?
Yesterday was an odd day. In fact, I actually had a different post scheduled and ready to go for today, but I’m putting it off until tomorrow, just because I want to share some thoughts.
Ever feel like you know the direction you want your life to go in, but you’re unsure how to make it happen? You know what you make you happy, but you have no idea how to incorporate it into your day-to-day existence? You know your destination but you don’t have a map?
I stumbled across this post on Life as an Artistprenuer about called For Everyone Not Yet Doing What They Love (Alternative title: A Tough Love Letter). It’s actually an old post (written in August) but it really spoke to me, and I must have read it three times in a row. I actually only discovered this blog about a week ago, but I’ve pretty much fallen in love with it. Becka has such a motivating, positive writing style, she’s funny, and her photography is just beautiful. She has a post series called Coffee Cup Chats that are just fantastic, and great inspiration for any creative person.
Then a while later I came across the video of Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement address Do What You Love. I know everyone has seen or read this a million and one times already (especially after he died) but for me, it remains just as powerful every time I watch it.
Then last night I was checking my email from my phone, and the first thing I saw was this article from Pikaland titled If Not Now, When? It’s like this message is written on a 2×4 and I’m being beaten in the head with it.
On top of all this, several other opportunities have surfaced over the last week that just seem a little too coincidental. It feels like I’m definitely being nudged in the direction I want to go. I’ve had that little voice gnawing at my brain for months now, getting a little louder every day. It’s getting so loud that sometimes it feels like it’s shouting over my other thoughts, demanding to be heard. Do more. Do it now. Start today. Make the dream happen.
I had a similar feeling when I first met my boyfriend. My heart fell head over heels, but my head told me I was crazy getting into another relationship so soon. But then…I saw these little signs all over the place. Sign that it was right. Maybe I just WANTED to see them, because I definitely am a person who believes in and looks for signs, but it was as if the world was screaming at me that I NEEDED to follow my heart or I would never be able to sleep at night again.
Following your heart doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your day job and investing your life’s savings toward your artistic venture. Sometimes it mean being brave, and taking that one small step closer each day.
Every time I learn the functions of my camera just a little bit better…
Every time I finish a new painting…
Every time I sell a piece of art…
Every time I take on another freelance project…
It feels good. Every time I take that one step closer.
I love illustrated quotes. I was poking around the web one day and came across a bunch of beautifully done ones over on Pretty Zoo, which inspired me to illustrate some new ones of my own. Playing with type has never been my favorite part of the design process (that place in my heart is reserved for ♥ color ♥) , so every once in a while I like to try to bulk up my skills a little by attempting to illustrate a quote, a song lyric, or a line from a movie (yes…for fun. Once again, my geekiness shines through).
I’m also a bit of a nerd for infographics. I love them. Probably because of my passionate love of useless random facts. I’ve wanted to attempt one forever, but I haven’t quite figured out what the subject should be. It’ll probably pop into my head one day when I’m zooming down the highway at 65 mph with an uncharged phone and no pen to record the idea. The Oatmeal did a couple of hilarious infographics about coffee and beer, which would have been fun topics, but I want to do someone new. One of the best ones I’ve even seen is What Are the Odds? It’s a mind-bender for sure.
What I ended up with is this weird hybridization of a quote done in an infographic style. I’ve always liked this quote a lot. There’s another great Einstein quote I like that says “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” but I’ve seen too many other illustrations of that one. I wanted to do something different. If you search Einstein quotes, there’s a huge selection of good ones. I mean, he was a brilliant man. Of course he would have some insightful things to say.
I have a ridiculous love of the color blue. RI-DIC-U-LOUS. So for this picture I decided to stop experimenting with garish color schemes and actually do something I liked. I started this picture quite a while ago, right around the time I finished this drawing. Somehow when the house got straightened up for company one night, it got stuck away somewhere and I kind of forgot about it. Out of sight, out of mind, as usual.
Anyway, I rediscovered it yesterday and believe it or not, actually found some time to finish it. See, right after I say that I can never squeeze enough time out of the day to get things done, I actually do, and sound like I spoiled brat. Such is life.
I’m starting to get a nice collection of little 9″ x 9″ drawings. They’re small, and cute, and I think there could be dozens of ways to combine them on a gallery wall. Like on the big empty space directly above my computer, or the huge empty wall in our dining room. Since they’re so small, I think I could mix up all sorts of colors and patterns and still get a nice cohesive look, especially if I give them all white mats and black frames.