I know what you’re thinking, but I can be quiet… kinda… sometimes.
To be fair to myself I’m not really talking about keeping your mouth shut, or not speaking your mind, I think you should always speak your mind.
I guess I’m talking about meditation. Yep, I said it, meditation… It’s cool. You can believe that from someone who still occasionally uses the word “cool” and thinks its… well… cool.
So, let’s get right into it. What are the benefits to an artist of quieting your mind for at least 5 minutes a day?
When you allow the myriad of thoughts and emotions to settle, you might just find that you open up the way for valuable creative insights and “a-ha!” moments. Especially when it comes to that project that keeps looking like a turd no matter what you do.
Staying focused on your work.
It’s incredibly difficult to sit down and complete any sort of creative project when your attention is constantly being pulled away by phone notifications, social media updates, and zombie attacks.
Perhaps the single most valuable use of meditation for the creative person is in warding off unwanted distractions. A number of studies have shown meditation to improve focus, attention, and self-control. Distractions keep us stuck on the shallow surface of the mind. If we want to come up with truly creative ideas, we must have the focus to “go deep.”
Overcome fear and self-criticism.
Fear is the most powerful creativity-killer there is. Meditation helps overcome fear of failure and harsh self-judgments. By turning down the volume on the voice of our inner critic, meditation helps us move into a place of pure self-expression and enjoyment.
You’re essentially training your thinking muscle. Most of us have thoughts come in and take control over how we feel, yet they’re our thoughts, we think them. Meditation helps you flex and work out a process of understanding that you don’t have to believe and feel every thought you have… you can observe it and pick and choose what to think about. You think your thoughts, your thoughts don’t think you.
Being present to what’s around you.
Great artists are great observers — of life, the human condition, nature, their environment, and social norms. Creating art requires being deeply attuned to life in the myriad of ways it presents itself.
Relaxed and at ease.
We’re more creative when we’re relaxed and at ease. It’s as simple as that. Meditation has been scientifically proven to lower stress levels, lessen feelings of anxiety and depression, and reduce negative self-talk while also boosting mood and overall well-being, thereby putting you in your most energized, creative mindset.
As I approached the gallery I found myself wondering how in the world I was going to get the massive sculpture I constructed up the stairs. I had somehow managed to squeeze it into my car without damaging it, which I attributed to dumb luck.
Luck seemed to be on my side that morning, considering I had pulled into a parking spot right in front of the shiny and unending staircase into the gallery.
I’ve entered the juried art competitions at Artel Gallery a handful of times with varying results. I still remember the first piece I entered, which was rejected with no particular pomp and circumstance. It was laid off to the side with the other rejects waiting for me to glumly collect it, like picking up a child from detention.
That rejection had a devastating impact on my self esteem as an artist for some time. I had just started selling my art and gaining some traction with local collectors, and it caused me to feel like I wasn’t good enough to continue masquerading as an artist.
It wasn’t until several years later that I decided to enter another piece, which didn’t get rejected.
The marble steps to the gallery blazed white in the hot sun, daring me to make a move. I had managed to get the sculpture out of the car without damaging it, knocking myself in the head only once.
The only idea that my mind could seem to muster that morning was to pick up the sculpture and maneuver the stairs as quickly as possible. The sculpture isn’t necessarily heavy, it’s just awkward to carry around, because like most sculptures, I didn’t design it to be carried around.
I prepared myself at the bottom of the mountainous stairs, glanced around to make sure no one was watching, and steadied my breath. One false move and all the work and effort that went into my art would be laying in pieces on the forbidding marble steps.
After deciding to enter my art again, I got pieces into four separate shows, won best of show, and had a solo show in their alcove. I also got rejected two more times, but it didn’t have an impact on my self esteem as an artist. Some might attribute the lack of feeling dejected to the fact that I had a couple years as a career artist under my belt, but I know plenty of seasoned artists who have a difficult time with any rejection.
I don’t have difficulty with rejection because after two years of avoiding art competitions, I finally realized that you can’t win if you don’t enter; and your art is not being rejected, it simply didn’t match the taste of the juror. The thing is, that art competitions don’t matter, but if you want to win one, you are going to have to face rejection. In fact, if you want to do anything awesome or important with your art career, you are probably going to face a lot of rejection and criticism.
If you want to be safe from rejection, then don’t put yourself out there, don’t do anything different from the norm, don’t try to have a voice, and definitely don’t become an artist.
Simply because someone rejects your artwork (or whatever it may be) doesn’t mean that you are worthless. It doesn’t have anything to do with you, and never will. A lot of people avoid thinking about being rejected or losing, but in my opinion it’s a good idea to think about that worst case scenario, and face the fear in your mind.
What if my piece gets rejected? How will I feel? What does it mean?
These could be hard questions, but until you ask yourself and question the validity of your answers, you are going to keep reacting in misery to rejection. The really cool thing about exploring these questions is that you don’t have to react at all, you can respond to the situation however you like.
My answers are less dramatic and devastating since I’ve had a chance to explore this topic and really decide how I want to respond to these questions and this particular type of rejection.
What if my piece gets rejected?
Then it get’s rejected. I pick it up, bring it home and probably sell it at some point in my lifetime. Who knows, it may win a prize at some other art competition… just didn’t suit the juror this time I guess.
How will I feel?
Fine, I have other more important things to focus on.
What does this mean?
Only what I think it means. If I think I’m a failure or a reject, that’s on me. This is an opportunity for me to show myself who I am, by the way I respond. I choose to respond by saying “Well, maybe next time… I got shit to do right now.”
I glanced around one more time, held my breath, and made a run for it. I verbally counted every step as I ascended the stairs with the agility of sloth in running shoes.
Out of breath and elated that I made it to the top, I stood there gleaming in victory. I then proceeded to scrape and bang my way awkwardly through the front door, hitting my head one more time for good measure. I placed the sculpture safely in the gallery lobby, signed it in, and breathed a sigh of relief.
By the way, it was number 13 in the roster… talk about dumb luck.
I had done it. I achieved something I thought was impossible to do on my own, willing to face humiliation and rejection for something I love and believe in… my art, my sense of fun, my freedom to be me.
Had I given up, after that first rejection it would have controlled me. I would have spent the rest of my life being afraid to face rejection, and I would have been filled with “what ifs”.
I don’t believe you actually fail, even if your art doesn’t get in. Even if you get rejected, or lose… I think you only fail if you give up… because that’s the one thing you have control over.
It’s sometimes easy to give up because things might seem hopeless or hard. I didn’t think I could possibly get the sculpture to the gallery on my own, but my belief in dumb luck took over, and I decided to try.
As you know, recently I was invited to create an art chair. This was a big deal for me, because there is a finesse that needs to happen when turning furniture into art. I wasn’t really sure I could pull it off.
You might think that something as common as a “chair” just needs some paint and crazy designs to stand out. Not true, just like any abstract painting it can go wrong really fast, and just like an abstract painting you have to rely on your gut feelings and not technical skill.
So I went through the typical creative process of feeling like I had an epic failing every step of the way, until it finally started to come together.
So, I created my first art chair, worked through my own insecurities, pushed through the boundaries of what I thought was possible for me, and validated my self status as an artist.
That’s about the time my dad stepped into the picture.
He stood there and stared at it for a while… didn’t say anything.
At that point, I apparently felt the need to boaster the chair up and make it important in terms my father would understand… money.
“Yeah dad, people were putting $100 in raffle tickets for it!”
He pause, scrunched up his face and then said…
“Someone paid $100 for that shit?”
Yes they did dad… yes they did.
There are so many stories like this when it comes to my father and art, luckily, it doesn’t bother me any more… in fact, I find it kind of funny.
I spent a long time blaming him for my insecurities, and as it turns out, they were my own insecurities, and I needed to get rid of them myself.
It’s still a work in progress, but I think it will always be.
Watch this video to enjoy the full story, and more stories of my dad and my art… including a big event that took place at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago… Oh boy.
So, recently I’ve made it a point to enter a few more art competitions and juried art shows. In the past I would tell myself that I was too busy to do such things, truth was, I was just a chicken.
In fact, I was surprised to see just how many thousands of miles outside of my comfort zone it was to enter anything that involved someone judging my art. This was especially surprising, because this is what I do for a living… I create art. Anywhere I display my art, people are judging it, some hate it, some love it, some buy it, and others make disgusted faces at the sheer thought of buying it. It happens every day, and it doesn’t bother me one bit.
So why is entering my art to be judged any different? I think it’s the academic nature of it all. Like failing a test. I have this image in my mind of some art curmudgeon, scoffing and turning up their nose at anything that would indicate that I had more talent than a three year old with a broken crayon.
When I was asked to judge an art show, I almost froze from the idea of being one of those art snob curmudgeons.
As it turns out, there is nothing scary about entering or judging an art competition. Most of the time, people who are judging a show are artists, or art lovers themselves.
Art is diverse and almost formless. There is no one thing that can describe the blanket term for art and what it is supposed to be. Sure, we all have opinions about it, but at the end of the day, it’s just an opinion, and we all know what those are like.
When I judged the art at this show, I looked at technique, style, beauty, skill, inherent meaning, uniqueness, and fulfilled intent. When you think about it, it’s all relative to my taste, my ideas of beauty, my knowledge of skill, and my interpretation of the world. That’s really all I can do as a judge of art, is share my opinion.
When I look at beauty, I am looking at repeating shapes, patterns, and symmetry. I also look at colors, texture, crops, composition, where my eye goes, movement, flow, proportions, and the appeal of the subjects or objects in the piece. It’s how I look at the world.
The art that appeals to me personally, is art that was skillfully made with a hint of rawness. It has meaning beyond just an image. It makes me feel, bring me to tears, make me laugh, or remind me of something powerful and empowering. It also stands out in a crowd, and dares to be different.
I did have a somewhat difficult time judging this show, because I wanted everyone to win. But alas, I picked the ones I connected the most with.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience for me, and one that allowed me to stand on the other side of the table. In the end, I realized that it’s just people judging art according to their taste, likes, and dislikes. Now, I was one of them.
If you are interested in viewing the “Who Am I” show, opening reception is November 10th, 2016 6:00-8:00pm at Pensacola State College building 15 room 1590.
So, yesterday I submitted some pieces that I created for a juried art show that takes place at Artel Gallery, in downtown Pensacola.
I’m sure most of you will find it hard to believe, that it was a terrifying act for me. Yeah, only my closest friends (and now you) know that I have an childlike fear of having my art judged by art competition judges.
Let’s make something clear, I don’t mind having my art judged. People judge my art all the time, some love it, some hate it, either way, it doesn’t bother me. Put the art in a competitive setting and I become a nervous third grader.
Now, I’m fully aware this is ridiculous. I’m an established artist, I have collectors of my work, and I am well known… yet, just because it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t mean I didn’t almost piss myself yesterday.
This video will let you live my experience yesterday:
The theme of the show is about animal life. The show is called “It’s A Zoo In Here” and runs for the month of October.
I decided to enter the show, face my fears, and submit my art… For the past few years, I’ve been working on getting rid of silly fears that stand in the way. Sometimes, I have to push outside of my comfort zones, which seems to be an ongoing thing, so I better get used to it.
I created two pieces for the show called “Rags to Fishes” and “Rehabilitation Of Beauty.” My friend and art collector, Monica Gaskins owns a Zebra sculpture I created recently, and she allowed me to submit it as my third piece.
“Rags to Fishes” is a sculpture I created using old pieces of canvas that I collected from the stretching process. They typically get thrown away, but it seemed like such a waste to throw perfectly good canvas away… that stuff is expensive, and I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away.
Watch the video above to hear which piece won best of show… That’s right! I won best of show… How awesome is that!
The show reception is Wednesday, October 12, 6pm-8pm. Klee and I will be there, which is also outside of my comfort zone because I got best of show, and there is a part of me that doesn’t know how to handle that… Like I said ridiculous, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. 🙂
Have you ever had someone tell you that you are not good enough? Did you believe them?
This picture is of me working in my art studio, creating art for a solo exhibition, because I am a full-timeartist, who makes a living from his art. This is not what my teacher predicted… Guess he’s not a psychic.
If I had believed my art teacher in school, when he was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, and that “You will never make it as an artist” I probably wouldn’t be writing any of this right now.
But, I didn’t believe him… Well, eventually.
It’s interesting how such an insignificant event, had such an impact on my career as an artist. I’m sure he doesn’t even remember saying it, but his words stayed with me longer than I’d like to admit.
Watch this video to hear the full story:
Now, I wouldn’t change a thing, because eventually my journey lead me to finding my own confidence, and there is no point in wishing that things had gone differently.
It would be a lie, if I didn’t admit, that every once in a while, I wonder where I would be, had I started my art career sooner… But, it is what it is, and I’m enjoying the ride thus far.
Why am I sharing this story?
I wanted to reach out to anyone out there that may be experiencing the same thing. Whether it be a creative field, a life goal, or a dream, Don’t ever believe anybody that tells you that you can’t do something.
It took me a few years to learn this for myself, but now that I have, I am unstoppable. I’ve learned that the only way you can ever truly fail at anything, is to give up. With my art career, I had given up, before I even started.
Because I lacked confidence in my ability to persevere, I took to heart the comments of naysayers in my family, and eventually my teacher.
Luckily, I put all that crap behind me and I know that the only thing that matters, is whether or not I believe I can do it.
So, if you believe you can do it, (no matter what it is) then you can… plain and simple.
Thank you for reading my rambles! Remember to stay endlessly inspired by the stuff of life.
These are 5 Tips For Beginning Artist. If you are an aspiring artist, or you know an aspiring artist that may benefit from this, feel free to share and enjoy.
Every Monday, I dedicate some of my daily efforts to giving back information that would have been valuable to me when starting my artist career. This is a very basic list of things that were extremely helpful in my perception and practice of art.
You want to grow up and be an artists? Here’s five tips that helped me become an artist.
Draw… A lot. Carry a sketchbook with you, and draw whenever you get a chance. The more you draw, the better you become at translating a mental image to paper.
Great art takes hard work… It takes a lot of work, so don’t allow yourself to get discouraged if something is not looking the way you want it to… Just keep trying, you only fail at it, if you give up.
Use a reference image. Take pictures of what you want to create, and reference them in your sketches. I usually have myself, or Klee model for what I am looking for. Take notice of lighting and shadows in your photo. For some of us, it helps to bring the fuzzy image in the mind to life.
Get used to rejection. You are going to get rejected. You are also going to have people say that either your work, or you suck. You’ll have thousands more praise you, but if you can’t handle the few that will reject your work, it may keep you from moving forward.
See if there is any genuine feedback and learn from it, but if not, just delete it. The biggest tool an artist has in his, or her arsenal is confidence, and confidence is something you can develop.
Be unique and be successful. So, copying what’s popular in art may bring success, but it’s only short term and really not worth it. Doing things your own way may take longer to gain success, but man is it worth it. Trust me, if you are creating what is popular, chances are you are doing something just for the money… That’s not going to help you grow, and you’ll stagnate as an artist.
Either way, choose what you love and stick with it, because what’s popular won’t last, but your uniqueness will.
Let me know what you guys think, or if you have anything to add.