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Zen

The Zen of Abundant Creativity

Most of us think of an artist as a person who creates art, often as an occupation, whose creative work shows imagination and sensitivity. An artist has also been defined as a person who is skilled at some activity, such as a dancer, a musician, a singer, a skater, etc. My own definition of being an artist has come out of my own, lifelong experience of what happens to me when I’m in the process of creating – when the creative “flow” is unleashed. There is a unique phenomenon that occurs for me, and it is that I have the feeling and knowing that the creative force, the creativity itself, and even the skill, is coming down through the top of my head and out my hands. The first time I became consciously aware of this, and could put words to it, was when I was around eleven or twelve years old.

Once, when my stepson was eight, we were driving in the car and a jazz tune was playing that I was very familiar with. I was singing along, improvising with nonsense syllables, creating my own melody along with the music. My stepson, who is now a professional musician, suddenly began singing along with me in perfect harmony, out of the clear blue! I had never heard this child sing before, though he had been taking piano lessons for several years. The spontaneous, excellent demonstration of his creativity and musical ear told me that music was definitely his gift. He was absorbed only in the creating of the sound, without a thought.

I use both myself as a painter and my son as a musician as two examples of children who had been free of the mind, free of all thought and conceptualization, while in the inspired moment of creativity. The ability to create from this space has continued for both of us throughout our lives, which is true for many artists. Abundance, a concept generally understood via manifesting financial prosperity, is showing up throughout the universe in infinite ways; in nature, in human love and compassion, and in the creative force of life itself.

When I was teaching fine art to children and adults, it was the students who were listening to their minds who had difficulty being imaginative and who were hard on themselves. Those who allowed themselves to be free, who came to class with an open heart and a calm but playful attitude, enjoyed themselves completely and were able to tap into the creative flow without experiencing any stressful thoughts. The challenge of teaching art was not just about imparting technical knowledge, it was in showing each individual student, of every age, that he or she has access to this creative force simply by allowing oneself to rise above (not listen to) the mind and just let go. Every one of my students was able to do this, once it was pointed out.

It would seem that being able to allow the creative flow is an enlightened state. I was recently reading about Zen, a branch of Buddhism that developed in China during the sixth and seventh centuries. A central element of Zen meditation is to free the mind of all thought and conceptualization. Zen stresses the importance of the enlightenment experience and the futility of rational thought, intellectual study and religious ritual in attaining this.

And Boheme Magazine (“An Online Magazine of Arts, Literature and Subversion”) defines a true artist as “the revolutionary who participates with Divinity in the act of creation and the mechanics of human evolution. It is always an artist of some type – painter, writer, philosopher, teacher, scientist – who advances the enlightenment and progress of humanity.” I believe that every artist has been blessed with the ability to tap into the divine energy that already moves through us. It’s simply a matter of changing one’s perception of what creative abundance really is. The zen of being an artist is to simply let go of the mind and let the divine light of the Creator flow through.

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Experimenting with Fantasy Art

Who doesn’t enjoy traveling through worlds beyond our imagination? Fantasy is the opportunity to travel forward and backward in time and even to new universes. Wonderful imaginary creatures and humanesque beings can be the answer for subject matter if you have become bored with your art. Why not bring the fantastic into your work and give your imagination a chance to play in new realms? Experimentation is the key. In other words, be open to anything. You can combine animal types to create a new animal, combine human with animal, or combine several or even many creatures into one new one. To bring fantasy into your artistic bag of tools, it’s important to begin with the spirit of play, to be willing to be playful about coming up with ideas. One’s “style” of art created does not have to remain static; it can be changed continuously or periodically. Keep the excitement for your work by experimenting all the time! Keep your doors of perception open and have fun with it. Here is a website with examples of art by excellent fantasy artists for your enjoyment. Fantasy is in your heart!

October 22, 2017 0 Comments
Creativity-Artistic Ability

Creativity and Artistic Ability

Creativity and artistic ability are two different subjects. Creativity is a natural gift that every living person is born with. Babies engage in creative play, children pretend they are princesses and super heroes, adults create meals in the kitchen and decide what clothes to put together for the day, etc. So being creative is a basic human quality.

When someone says something like, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” what they are really saying is that they don’t believe they have artistic talent. Some people are born with the artistic ability to make art without much thinking, some people stress out if they’re asked to make art, some people learn the how-tos and then their artistic skills improve.

The important thing to remember is that creativity is in you, no matter what you think. Creativity is in you no matter what degree of artistic ability you have. If you’re interested in learning how to draw or paint, make jewelry or do arts and crafts or write poetry, just know that you have already achieved the first step just by virtue of being a human – you have creativity.

To develop artistic ability, first is choosing what you’re interested in creating, and then finding someone who can teach you the basic steps. Developing artistic ability is like learning how to ride a bike, as cliche as that sounds, because at first it may seem difficult… but with practice it gets easy and natural. In truth, the creative challenge is really to surrender to the learning curve so your inborn creativity can find its expression.

June 13, 2016 0 Comments
Learn to Draw at Any Age Beginning Drawing

“Am I Too Old To Learn To Draw?”

It’s never too late to become skilled at something new. Adults are often intimidated by the thought of learning new things. For example, when I was 50 I began to learn how to line dance. After a couple of years it became easy. I have had many students in their sixties and seventies who wanted to learn how to draw, even if they’ve never thought they had any natural talent. Learning to draw doesn’t mean you have to be a skilled “traditional” artist. The significant thing for someone embarking on a new educational journey is to move toward it with patience and allow yourself to surrender to the progression of learning. In art, as with academics, there is a learning curve; a process.

I have many new students whose goal is to learn how to paint, however, I’ve learned over the years that the more understanding of drawing basics, and the more practice in drawing that a person has, the easier and faster it will be to learn to paint well. For painting is really drawing with a brush. As a beginner, when you study how to draw, have patience with the sequence, with the process of gaining agility. Understand that it’s perfectly fine to be a beginner (at anything!) and enjoy every little step; from learning new ways to hold a pencil, to learning how to see the basic shapes of something you want to draw, to refining and shading.

Beginning DrawingOne great way to learn to draw, and my most fabulous teacher made me do this over and over, is to copy drawings out of books or from internet searches. I drew many eyes, ears, noses, feet, hands. I copied many figures and horses (my favorite). There are many wonderful how-to videos on YouTube and some great ones on this website. Have fun looking for resources.

So you are never too old to learn to draw. All you need is the desire, paper and pencil, an attitude of gentleness with yourself and some free time. Remember that it takes time and don’t be in a hurry. Give yourself the gift of learning how to draw and… enjoy!

 

October 12, 2015 0 Comments
20180911_142708 Horses in Art

Horses in Art

Horses have naturally been depicted in art all through history, recurrently portrayed as the horse in battle until modern times. The Renaissance horse paintings during the 4th century included some exceptional portrayals of horses. In 1482 Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to sculpt the largest equestrian statue in the world (which,by the way, was never completed until it was replicated in the late 20th century). Private Art Coach Fort Bragg, California (707) 813-4854Because the beloved horse is no longer important either as a type of transportation or as a war tool, horses are not seen as frequently in modern times. In recent history they are primarily associated with fox hunting, racing, the old west (cowboys and native Americans), and pulling carts, etc. Presently, the field of equine art has gotten very expressive and creative and can be very colorful. Beautiful works of art are seen of horses with wings and unicorn horns, sometimes together. Fantasy equine art is very popular and quite gorgeous.

 

August 26, 2014 0 Comments
Doodle

Doodling

I find doodling to be a creative outlet. When I doodle, I am drawing in an unfocused way with my attention occupied on other things. My doodles can be uncomplicated drawings with some meaning, they may be brainstorming, quickie designs for jewelry or paintings, or they may just be abstract or curly shapes. People like to doodle silly cartoons of people they know, famous comic book characters, made-up imaginary beings, geometric shapes, landscapes and flowers, textures and wandering patterns.

Growing up, I was called a daydreamer by my teachers; I used to doodle in my school notebooks and even the margins of my textbooks, mostly because I was not interested in class. To this day I doodle when I’m on long telephone conversations and when I’m in seminars.

I kept journals for many years and doodled in them. Sometimes I go back in with acrylics or watercolors and paint the doodles, which is a fun way to get myself to re-read my notes. Doodles can be a source of ideas for later drawings and paintings, so I keep a chunky file of doodles I’ve done that I liked, torn out of old notebooks or off of other pages of notes and doodles. Doodling can alleviate boredom or keep me busy while waiting for a meal in a restaurant, waiting for the train or a flight. And I even doodle in the airplane. How about taking a sandwich to the park and doodle for an hour as a treat for yourself?

July 27, 2014 3 Comments
Supplies for Travel

Art Supplies for Travel

Whenever I go away, I like to pack up a small variety of art supplies for travel so I will have choices for my creativity. I enjoy both drawing and painting but since oil paints stay wet, they’re not an alternative. Acrylics dry fast but they’re heavy; also not a easy to carry. So here are the art supplies for travel that I always include:

Watercolors are light and don’t take up much room. There are travel-sized cases of watercolor paint sets that include a tiny brush available, although I also use inexpensive plastic sets of Prang or Crayola watercolors since they don’t weight much and have tubs in the lid for mixing washes of colors. The brushes that come with these cheap sets are not good so I either take one good watercolor brush, a number 12 with a fine tip for detail work, or several smaller brushes designed for watercolors.

Derwent has nice watercolor pencils and Prismacolor makes a set of 8 premier illustration markers. and a six-well plastic palette for mixing colors. Wherever I go, I use paper coffee cups (easy to find) or mugs to put water in for rinsing brushes color mixing. For paper I like to have a small, moleskin watercolor notebook because it’s great for watercolors and for drawing. They come in a nice variety of sizes. Sometimes I take a large one in my suitcase as well, or a sketch pad with heavy paper.

I also pack up a variety of pencils, an eraser and some drawing pens, as well as a few paper towels. I often throw the entire batch of art supplies into a large Ziploc freezer bag so I can grab it and throw it into my backpack or tote at a moment’s notice

July 14, 2014 1 Comment
Sketching with Paint by Lewis Achenbach Sketching with Paint

Sketching with Paint

Sketching with paint is a wonderful skill to learn for starting a painting or as an actual technique for painting an entire picture. Sketching with paint is a form of painting loosely, just as sketching with pencils and charcoal is a loose form of drawing, only you’re sketching with a brush.

The beauty of sketching with paint is that it is a quick way to lay in a painting without being concerned about any details. For example, if you are painting a figure from a model or reference photo, you would sketch the motion (gesture) of the body and not attempt to do any details such as fingers and toes, or faces. Instead you would just be hinting at them. When sketching with a brush, you are recording visual information swiftly. The sketching with a brush may be done with a variety of stiff brushes (not watercolor brushes).

You can use one color of paint, such as burnt sienna, that has been thinned down to begin a painting and get your basic shapes down first, and then come in sketching with thicker paint to start laying in thicker colors. You can also establish where the light is coming from, sketching in your light and shadow areas with your brush. You can also do small sketches with paint before beginning a larger painting, such as the great sketch above in oils by artist Greg Dechow for a commission he worked on. Also, here is an “urban sketch” with paint by Brenda Malley.

June 18, 2014 0 Comments
Importance of Life Drawing

Importance of Life Drawing

The importance of life drawing, or drawing from the human figure will not be disputed by fine artists throughout history, the world over. One of my own great teachers in the past, Glenn Vilppu, stressed the importance of basic concepts in drawing and their application. He said, “Never underestimate the power of life drawing.” He was so right. The most powerful way for your drawing skills to grow is by drawing from the human body. Everything is there to learn from – form, depth, shadows and light. Life drawing gives you understanding of how the human figure is constructed, and then you can create any pose from any angle from your imagination. Here is a great book for artists who want to know how to do life drawing with a good foundation of how to draw the figure:  Vilppu Drawing Manual Vol. 1: Infuse Life into Your Drawings with Gesture. In fact, I recommend anything and everything by Glenn… including the online or CD courses.

August 23, 2013 0 Comments