Capturing the Essence of our Being

The Ovation channel is broadcasting an arts competition titled “Portrait Artist of the Year”.  Those chosen to compete submit a self-portrait from which the contestants are chosen.  Each round puts each of nine artists, split into three groups of three painting a model. It’s a fascinating show because we’re getting an insider’s view of the artist’s process. The artists are given four hours to complete their painting.  At the end of the allotted time, the model gets to choose one of the three paintings to keep.

We take portraits throughout our lives.  There’s something unique about watching these artists paint a portrait versus a photograph. There’s a mystery to the process. The artists each have a point-of-view and a style in which they paint.  Their unique qualities and styles provide the model with a sneak peak of how they’re viewed by the world.  It’s like Cooley’s Looking Glass Self.  The idea we have a view of ourselves, a view of how others see us, and finally, a view of how we believe others view us.  Portraiture provides the model with a reflection of the energy they put forth in the world.

man person people emotions

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

What do you see when you encounter people?  If you were capturing their essence visually what would you include?  What draws you to others and how would you depict that in a visual representation of their being?  How much of you is projected into how we view others.

This is why I believe art is an equalizer.  It gives each of us the opportunity to projects, reflect, and capture the subject both physically and psychically.  It demonstrates how much interpretation plays a role in our everyday lives.  It shows us our strengths and biases.  These artists expose their inner worlds to their subjects.  They expose their passion through creation.

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Podcasts and Lectures and Classes…Oh My!

It doesn’t matter what field you’re in, continued education is a must.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, we’re not born with all the information and skills we’ll need for the rest of our lives.  If you’re not growing, learning, and exploring, everyone around you will leave you in the dust.  The same goes for our physical, emotional, spiritual, and artistic lives.

Truth is, we can’t know everything about everything.  I know a lot about textile art, but I have limited knowledge about other mediums. Listening and learning from others gives me insight into the lives of other artists, while giving me ideas to translate to my own art.  Here are a couple of examples to punctuate my thoughts.

The other evening, I went to a lecture by a photographer who takes people on safari in Tanzania.  He takes those interested in photography on safari shoots.  I’m not a photographer, but I was looking for that one tidbit to add to my creative toolbox. He didn’t disappoint.  He was giving examples of different shots and he said, “Edit before you click”.  Brilliant! His point was too many of us take one hundred pictures, come home and plough through the truckload of shots.  It made me think of Coco Chanel.  She is known for saying (directed to women), “Get dressed and before you leave the house, edit, take off one thing.”

I listen to podcasts every day.  I’m hooked on Daphne Cohn’s The Creative Habit.  After I subscribed, I went back to the beginning and I’ve been listening to them in order. I want to hear the progression of the interviews.  I think of it like collecting building blocks.  The artists she interviews come from all walks of life.  They have different educational backgrounds.  They work in different mediums.  They have unique business models.  The one thing they all have in common is the love, desire, and commitment to creating art.

Last year I decided I wanted to take a class to learn something I’ve never done before.  I have a friend I met in graduate school who is a phenomenal weaver; thanks Sarah Haskell (www.sarahhaskell.com).  I decided to take a weaving class, not with one of those gigantic looms, a small handheld loom.  I wanted to understand the motivation for an artist working in fiber, but differently than me.  I wanted to explore texture.  I wanted to experience something aside from sitting at the sewing machine.  I enjoyed the class and may continue to create weavings, but I’ll stick to art quilts.  What the class did do for me was reinforce the desire to take other classes and expand my repertoire.

I know there aren’t enough hours in the day to explore every class, podcast, magazine, book, exhibition, etc.  Be selective! Be mindful of your priorities! Have an idea of what you want to achieve giving you a direction to expand your interests, abilities, and vision.

How will you apply these ideas to your own areas of expertise, interest, or desires?

Reboot, Renew, Revitalize

Have you noticed the growing number of entertainment reboots currently making it to the big and small screen?  If you listen to the radio, you’ve not doubt heard Weezer’s remake of Toto’s Africa.  Broadway is always reviving musicals and plays with new spins.  I figured I would join the crowd and I’ve just become the president of Front Range Contemporary Quilters (www.artquilters.org) for the second time.   I was president ten years ago, and now it’s time for a reboot.

What is it about a reboot, or in my case, a new term that’s so appealing?  First and foremost, I’m familiar with the job.  There is a minimal learning curve.  I know when the newsletter article is due.  I’m familiar with the recruitment practices for membership. I understand the selection process for speakers.  On the flip side, over the past ten years, the membership has changed.  The use of technology has skyrocketed.  I’ve gotten older.

I believe any organization, business, even our own lives need revitalization on a regular basis. Boredom is one of the key components to sadness, lowered productivity, and the numbing of our emotional lives. It dulls our creativity, and as artists, creativity is our lifeline.  I’m not suggesting throwing the baby out with the bath water.  What we know has been working we keep.  Those ideas, practices, and themes not bringing joy to your life gets sent to the trash, literally and figuratively.

I’ve spent the last year regrouping and revitalizing my educational goals and my art practices. I recently completed a graduate certificate program in Health Humanities and Ethics.  This program gave me the energy and impetus to get focused about the art I want to create.  I’ve been in health and healing for thirty years.  Now, with further study I’ve become entrenched, engaged, and energized by the possibilities of the stories I want to tell.  I’m more focused.  My art has a sharper narrative.  My studio time is about storytelling and spiritual practice.  The two combined allow me to serve my community by speaking my truth about the gaps I witness in the world.

My creativity is a way for me to stay connected to my heart and soul.  If I hadn’t delved deeper into my interests, my passion, my purpose, I wouldn’t have achieved this new direction in art.  I feel renewed, I feel revitalized, and I feel reinvigorated.  I believe you will too!  Give it a try and let me know if I can help.  Renewing your vows to yourself improves your creative process!