The Mental Militia Forums

Arts & Liberties => Visual, tactile, textile, and other arts => Topic started by: Claire on November 29, 2007, 02:20:51 pm

Title: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 29, 2007, 02:20:51 pm
This is going to be long, and to those of you not in the arts, it might seem like so much navel-gazing. So I'm warning you now, you can bail out and head over to the Guns & Gear forum or the Open Source Tech Gulch. But if you've pushed hard to overcome some personal obstacle, I'd like your advice.

It feels risky putting one of my oldest fears out on the line, as I'm about to do, but if I can't trust you guys, who can I trust?

Anyhow ... As a kid, I was about equally skilled in two areas, writing and art. I've had no training in writing at all; in fact, I was consciously smart enough to grok that getting trained would ruin me. That worked. But for whatever reason, I got a lot of training in art. I studied it three years in high school, then took both community college classes and private vocational school classes in illustration (paying my tuition via small scholarships and work-study). I never got a degree in art or anything else. But I was serious about that subject.

Today I have only a fraction of the art ability I had then. And that I regained only within the last 18 months through some sort of minor miracle (and the book The Artist's Way). But I have no joy in approaching art. I want to love it, but I can't. I want to do it, but I'd rather wash the dishes, pet the dogs, or play solitaire on the Internet. You know what I mean?

My abilities didn't just deteriorate over time from mis-use. They went suddenly, within the space of about a year while I was studying illustration.

I had a teacher I adored. And I took every class I possibly could with her, avoiding others. She was a kind, wise teacher in many ways and had also earned her real-world chops producing art for major corporations. A certain set of brand-name characters you probably grew up with are hers. Not the Pillsbury Doughboy or anything quite that famous. But you'd recognize them.

Anyhow, this teacher had her certain ways to do things, and all those ways were geared toward producing a kind of good but tame illustration. And that's smart. This was a trade school. The purpose wasn't to turn us into Picassos but, at very best, Bernie Fuchses, Seymour Chwasts, James Bamas, Peter Maxes, and icon of icons Norman Rockwell. (Who, as an aside, this teacher showed me was a far better artist than we like to give him credit for.) So we per pointed in certain directions. And certain techniques were required.

We did much of our drawing work standing at easels or sitting astride "horses" in costumed figure class or head-and-hands class. And we had to hold our pencils a certain way, palm down, with the pencil lightly resting between our thumb and forefinger, and the length of the pencil lightly enfolded within our palm. I couldn't do this. I've never in my life been able to hold a pencil even in the "normal" way, no matter how many times grade-school teachers instructed me to do so. In second grade I would change to the teacher's "proper" grip when she was watching, then switch to my own grip as soon as she turned away. My grip has a slight resemblance to a kid holding a crayon in his fist. But it works for me.

With this illustration teacher, I'd do the same thing: Do it her way when she looked, my way when she wasn't.

Thing is, she was right. The overhanded artist's grip that she insisted upon enables much more free movement, more flowing sense of line. But it also felt out of control to me. I really, really wanted to please this lovely teacher. But I couldn't.

Over the course of a year or so, I became so self-conscious I just plain lost my ability to do art.

At about this same time, I switched my irresponsible, hyper-forgetful, adolescent self to a young adult driven (and ruled) by the TO-DO list. These two things together took away my art ability. For years, I struggled to get it back. But every time I'd begin, I could almost physically see Mrs. _______ hovering at my shoulder.

I'm trying to get past this, and 18 months ago, I started to get somewhere for the first time. I was feeling so confident that I agreed to do several drawings of people's children or in one case a beloved young wife who had just died.

And just that quick, I lost it again and am back into struggle mode. I could absolutely NOT do art to meet anybody else's expectation, and I failed to deliver on several promises. I was very glad this month when I had to do another drawing this month (of somebody's pet cat, now at the Bridge). It made me confront this again. But so far, it's still a struggle. I may be okay with color and design, but I don't have a good drawing line, which is the foundation for everything, the litmus test of a good artist.

Can any of your artist, or anybody else who may have overcome an inner bar to achievement give me any insights into what worked for you?

I have to add another factor. Before "breaking" I had a frustrating level of talent, which I'm sure contributed to the problem. I was always the A-, B+ art student. The one that was good enough, but not great. When the school gave five scholarships to existing students, I was #6. There's a huge leap between being pretty good and being breathtaking, and I couldn't make that leap and can't imagine that I ever will. I am doomed, at best, to be the dreaded Above Average. That once mattered excruciatingly to me, especially because I was the "rotten kid" in my family and virtually the only approval I ever got was for art or writing. (My mother, though from an ordinary family, came from an extended clan with several nationally known arts people in it; she and her sisters watched our  generation, asking each other which child would be exceptional. I was quite often a suspect.  :ph34r: )

My ordinary skill level doesn't matter so much now; lord, just let me be competent! But the connection between doing art and somebody else inside my head judging me for it is a tough one to get beyond.

Thanks for your help!

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Bill St. Clair on November 29, 2007, 03:42:08 pm
I have very little experience with art, but I do have one experience to relate that may be relevant. Back in 1982, I had recently read a popular book about drawing that stressed the need to "see" what you intend to draw in a particular way before drawing it. See it as it is, as a two-dimensional image, not as your mind thinks it is out there in three dimensions. I was sitting in a chair in the living room one day, with one leg crossed over the other, when I noticed that I could "see" the image before me. I picked up a napkin and a pen, which were fortunately nearby so I didn't lose my vision, and did a line drawing of the scene. It was good. Unfortunately, I lost the napkin in one of my moves.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Mr. Bill on November 29, 2007, 04:04:02 pm
My experience as an artist is pretty much limited to playing clarinet up through my college years.  But this point I can really empathize with:

...Before "breaking" I had a frustrating level of talent, which I'm sure contributed to the problem. I was always the A-, B+ art student. The one that was good enough, but not great. ... There's a huge leap between being pretty good and being breathtaking, and I couldn't make that leap and can't imagine that I ever will. I am doomed, at best, to be the dreaded Above Average...

Yeah.  I was technically competent on the clarinet.  Made it to first chair in the University Concert Band.  I might have had the ability to be a lot better -- I don't know.

What blocked me was, basically, being embarrassed that someone would notice my playing.  I don't mean that they'd notice my mistakes, I mean that they'd notice me being good.  That's what scared me.  I didn't have the ego for that.

I've got some thoughts about why I'm that way, but I don't really want to get into public self-psychoanalysis at the moment.  :mellow:

But anyway, Claire, an idea just crossed my mind.  Suppose you draw something for yourself?  I mean, really just for yourself.  Pick out in advance a nice spot to hang it, inside a linen closet or in a root cellar or a medicine cabinet or somewhere where nobody but you will ever see it.  Then sit down and relax, and draw anything that you like.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Joel on November 29, 2007, 05:22:33 pm
This is really long.  Sorry.  But you kinda touched a nerve.

Quote
Over the course of a year or so, I became so self-conscious I just plain lost my ability to do art.

Quote
I was feeling so confident that I agreed to do several drawings of people's children or in one case a beloved young wife who had just died.

And just that quick, I lost it again and am back into struggle mode. I could absolutely NOT do art to meet anybody else's expectation...

Quote
Before "breaking" I had a frustrating level of talent, which I'm sure contributed to the problem. I was always the A-, B+ art student. The one that was good enough, but not great.

I think I see a pattern here, Claire.  Who (whom?) are you trying to please?

Full disclosure: I am one of the happy few who owns one of Claire's drawings, a portrait of my beloved daughter.  And Claire, maybe you remember that you did two versions of that.  The first one was decidedly offbeat and I expressed no liking for it, preferring something more conventional.  But I'll bet I can guess which of those was your favorite.  If at this late date you think of either of them at all, I'll bet I know which one you remember with the most pleasure.  Because you created that one to please yourself.

I did go through something like what you describe.  I'm no artist, but since I was a kid I always wanted to write fiction.  I studied typing in school, back when that was something boys did at their peril, because if I was going to be Hemingway when I grew up I needed to know how to type.  God, I was awful.  Really laughable.  I lost heart several times, but kept coming back to it because it was something I just felt I needed to be doing.  By the time I was an adult I was writing stories that didn't embarrass me three weeks later.  I thought I was getting there.

Then I took some really bad advice (at a writing class, natch) and spent a solid year writing what may well be the most cliche'-ridden, the most hackneyed, the most unbelievably bad novel in the history of American letters.  This book was positively evil.  But I was so convinced it was wonderful that before I came to my senses I copied sample chapters and submitted it everywhere.  And was buried in an avalanche of rejections. 

I'd sunk so much time and effort and emotional capital into that abortion of a book that I just couldn't see what I was doing.  I couldn't see why nobody else understood the book.  Then about six months passed and I re-read the thing cold.  Oh, my god.  Oh, my dear fucking god.  No wonder they rejected me.  I suck. 

I didn't write another word for over ten years.  If my very best effort could produce something of such surpassing, overwhelming, transcendent awfulness, it was over.  I'd never be published, and that was my only dream.  I really let it get to me.

And then six or seven years ago I started to get the itch again, only this time a lot of things had changed.  My marriage had tanked, my career had tanked, a lot of things had just burned down.  And I was starting to relax to the notion that it no longer really mattered what people thought of me; I didn't have to live for others anymore.  So I went at it with a different objective.  This time I was going to write because I wanted to write.  Sure, I'd love to be rich and famous as a writer.  It's a dream I have, but no longer an objective.  I love to write, said I, and so I will.  My first novel was an offbeat fantasy based in Bible-era Israel, just because.  It has never garnered one word of praise.  You may  remember it; we had an email conversation over it because you had the honesty to tell me you didn't like it and why.  That was okay.  I saw its flaws, but at least it wasn't embarrassing.

I took the lessons learned and wrote a second book, this time much more ambitious.  I really liked the way this book came out, even though it died on Amazon.  And you know what?  I still really like it.  It was the book I sat down to write.  And I knew I had arrived where I wanted to be, even if I never made a dime from it.  I like it when people praise my books.  But I'm not really writing for other people.  I'm writing because I like to.  I try to get better with every effort, because I want to write well.  But as for the opinion of others I apply the Wisdom of the Divine Ms. M:

FFFFUCK'EM IF THEY CAN'T TAKE A JOKE!!!

And you should, too.  I may be all wet here, but from what you wrote it sounds like you're worrying way too much about what others think of this or that.  When did the Third Assistant Demigoddess of Freedom start having anything to prove to anybody?

(And you know what?  Daughter liked them both, but she liked the first one best.   :threvil:)
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on November 29, 2007, 06:50:06 pm
Oh, Claire!
I do not know if the following will help, and it is being written in a state of semi-flow, but maybe some of the ideas will get through my fingers to the keyboard to the computer to the internet and come out as little photons where you are sitting at your computer reading them.  I hope so.....

I do a lot of art in a lot of different media.  I never feel pressure, and I am always in a state of happiness, flow, bliss, joy and beauty because I learned as a child, escaping my first art teacher to use my own head, that:

Everything I do is experimental, and fun, and an exploration;
Everything I do is to learn more about creating; :laugh:
Nothing I do is a "final product" because that would mean I have just died when I declare that to be true;

I hold no expectations that anything I do will turn out exactly the way I saw it in my head when I began the process.  I love the process, and actually, once I have finished, I do not hold much ownership for the product - with the exception of a couple of pieces I have done and kept over the years because they are representative of emotional passages in my life.

If you can, perhaps getting some plain old paper and a set of little water colours, and some nice bamboo brushes, and, holding the brushes correctly for sumi-e, which is sort of opposite of holding a pencil for drawing, you could just paint grasses, birds flying, whatever your hand and arm want the brush to do.  Play.  Play.  Play in beauty.  Play in happiness.  Do art only to bring you joy.  I do not think there is any other reason to do art but this purely selfish, self-centered- self-expressive reason.  Let it all be experimental and a learning.  Let it all be fun and nothing you need to judge.  Play.  You play will flow back into you and set you free.  You will find your own playful artist within you again.  Get some charcoal pencils and newsprint and just play on the paper, holding the charcoal like a pencil.  Play.  Have fun.  Let your body make the marks on the paper.   ^_^

I have seen you work - I think you will be able to play with much beauty and happiness.  When you can hold that state of flow and joy while you are doing your art, the art will flow through you and into what ever medium you are working, and it will have beauty.  And it will flow back into you and assist in the release of more creativity as well.

I do not know if this helps at all, but it is my best suggestions based on my own life of art.  Play.  Experiment.  Have fun.  Create for your own joy.  I occasionally take commissions, sometimes big ones, but only because the commission matches an image or idea I have been carrying around in my head anyway, and now I have a chance to manifest it into existence AND get paid for it!  :laugh: :laugh:
But if no one paid me, I would probably do it anyway, eventually, just for the fun and joy of it.  Then someone would buy it later.  Or I can give it away with happiness.

When you sell what you create, that is good, but I do not think art should ever be about pleasing an audience or making things for another person other than you, yourself, your own vision and need to manifest that vision through your art:  creativity and manifesting into existence your own internal reality is what art is about.  Play.  Have fun.  Play in joy.  Your work will be appreciated by those with the eyes to see the same beauty you were experimenting to express when you were playing to create and manifest your vision into existence.  Play.
ff

Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: spatter on November 29, 2007, 08:30:50 pm
Quote
Suppose you draw something for yourself?  I mean, really just for yourself.

Amen.

I am going through a wonderful period right now.  I just bought a building (part residence but can use the back for a shop).  For the first time in my life, I'm fixing up and decorating JUST FOR ME.  No boyfriends, children, mother, husband (well, he's around sort of).  Just me...and it's wonderful.  If my amateurish oilcloth curtains (the only fabric I could think of that the cats couldn't destroy quite so fast) look a little different...well so what...I'm going to work on them until I like them. 

The entire front of the house is just mine...the kitchen is the way I want it, I'll have my sewing machine and crafts table in the "front" room, my bedroom is a little nook without a door, my sitting/knitting room will be set up just for me and I have a whole room for my clothes and linens.

Bottom line is I'm feeling a creativity that I haven't exercised since I was in high school.

Most people spend their early lives pleasing and/or caring for others...parents, employers, teachers, significant others, children.  Then they spend their middle years pleasing/caring for employers, elderly parents, significant others...  At some point some of us are lucky enough to have a few years to care for ourselves.   I think that's when the latent creativity blossoms.

How many artists don't come into their own until very late in life?  Grandma Moses comes to mind, but (forgive my weak knowledge of art history) I know I've heard of many others.

Consider your art your own.  Your own techniques, your own results.  Enjoy the process...and hold the pencil your own damn way.

Spatter
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Midnight Blue on November 29, 2007, 10:19:51 pm
This is going to be long, and to those of you not in the arts, it might seem like so much navel-gazing. So I'm warning you now, you can bail out and head over to the Guns & Gear forum or the Open Source Tech Gulch. But if you've pushed hard to overcome some personal obstacle, I'd like your advice.

It feels risky putting one of my oldest fears out on the line, as I'm about to do, but if I can't trust you guys, who can I trust?

Anyhow ... As a kid, I was about equally skilled in two areas, writing and art. I've had no training in writing at all; in fact, I was consciously smart enough to grok that getting trained would ruin me. That worked. But for whatever reason, I got a lot of training in art. I studied it three years in high school, then took both community college classes and private vocational school classes in illustration (paying my tuition via small scholarships and work-study). I never got a degree in art or anything else. But I was serious about that subject.

Today I have only a fraction of the art ability I had then. And that I regained only within the last 18 months through some sort of minor miracle (and the book The Artist's Way). But I have no joy in approaching art. I want to love it, but I can't. I want to do it, but I'd rather wash the dishes, pet the dogs, or play solitaire on the Internet. You know what I mean?

My abilities didn't just deteriorate over time from mis-use. They went suddenly, within the space of about a year while I was studying illustration.

I had a teacher I adored. And I took every class I possibly could with her, avoiding others. She was a kind, wise teacher in many ways and had also earned her real-world chops producing art for major corporations. A certain set of brand-name characters you probably grew up with are hers. Not the Pillsbury Doughboy or anything quite that famous. But you'd recognize them.

Anyhow, this teacher had her certain ways to do things, and all those ways were geared toward producing a kind of good but tame illustration. And that's smart. This was a trade school. The purpose wasn't to turn us into Picassos but, at very best, Bernie Fuchses, Seymour Chwasts, James Bamas, Peter Maxes, and icon of icons Norman Rockwell. (Who, as an aside, this teacher showed me was a far better artist than we like to give him credit for.) So we per pointed in certain directions. And certain techniques were required.

We did much of our drawing work standing at easels or sitting astride "horses" in costumed figure class or head-and-hands class. And we had to hold our pencils a certain way, palm down, with the pencil lightly resting between our thumb and forefinger, and the length of the pencil lightly enfolded within our palm. I couldn't do this. I've never in my life been able to hold a pencil even in the "normal" way, no matter how many times grade-school teachers instructed me to do so. In second grade I would change to the teacher's "proper" grip when she was watching, then switch to my own grip as soon as she turned away. My grip has a slight resemblance to a kid holding a crayon in his fist. But it works for me.

With this illustration teacher, I'd do the same thing: Do it her way when she looked, my way when she wasn't.

Thing is, she was right. The overhanded artist's grip that she insisted upon enables much more free movement, more flowing sense of line. But it also felt out of control to me. I really, really wanted to please this lovely teacher. But I couldn't.

Over the course of a year or so, I became so self-conscious I just plain lost my ability to do art.

At about this same time, I switched my irresponsible, hyper-forgetful, adolescent self to a young adult driven (and ruled) by the TO-DO list. These two things together took away my art ability. For years, I struggled to get it back. But every time I'd begin, I could almost physically see Mrs. _______ hovering at my shoulder.

I'm trying to get past this, and 18 months ago, I started to get somewhere for the first time. I was feeling so confident that I agreed to do several drawings of people's children or in one case a beloved young wife who had just died.

And just that quick, I lost it again and am back into struggle mode. I could absolutely NOT do art to meet anybody else's expectation, and I failed to deliver on several promises. I was very glad this month when I had to do another drawing this month (of somebody's pet cat, now at the Bridge). It made me confront this again. But so far, it's still a struggle. I may be okay with color and design, but I don't have a good drawing line, which is the foundation for everything, the litmus test of a good artist.

Can any of your artist, or anybody else who may have overcome an inner bar to achievement give me any insights into what worked for you?

I have to add another factor. Before "breaking" I had a frustrating level of talent, which I'm sure contributed to the problem. I was always the A-, B+ art student. The one that was good enough, but not great. When the school gave five scholarships to existing students, I was #6. There's a huge leap between being pretty good and being breathtaking, and I couldn't make that leap and can't imagine that I ever will. I am doomed, at best, to be the dreaded Above Average. That once mattered excruciatingly to me, especially because I was the "rotten kid" in my family and virtually the only approval I ever got was for art or writing. (My mother, though from an ordinary family, came from an extended clan with several nationally known arts people in it; she and her sisters watched our  generation, asking each other which child would be exceptional. I was quite often a suspect.  :ph34r: )

My ordinary skill level doesn't matter so much now; lord, just let me be competent! But the connection between doing art and somebody else inside my head judging me for it is a tough one to get beyond.

Thanks for your help!

Claire


I can really relate to this. I loved drawing as a kid and always got compliments on it. I was average to good in academics (mostly because I ws bored, lazy, and it wasn't what I felt like doing) and my mother road my ass for not keeping my grades up, but I excelled in art and music stuff. But when I took Arts and Crafts in 7th grade and had to stick to the projects outlined by the teacher, i couldn't do it well...it wasn't what I wasted to do and was putting me in a box so to speak. My grades were average in any art/crafts class I took from then through highschool because the projects were not what I enjoyed. The fact that my grades weren't wonderful and the push by my family members to take art classes because "you were always so good at at" made me stop wanting to draw at all. I think part of that was that I disliked my mom so much, that her pushing me to do anything made me automatically go another direction.

I was the same way with reading. I enjoyed reading what I wanted to read at my own pace, but in 5th grade my teacher was one of those speed reader freaks and pushed that on the class. She singled me out at times as I was not one of those go with the flow types and I was not able to change and read with her new forced down my throat method. I hated reading until the last few years where I started reading again for pleasure. Now I find I can read faster and still comprehend as well, but this was accomplished on my timetable and to my liking, not someone elses.

I still don't draw now, just don't have too much of an interest and the thought of starting it up now, drawing, and it not being up to par in my own mind (someone else thinking it's good won't matter since i'm a perfectionist with my crafts), well this just makes me not interested.

Now crafting on the otherhand, I love it! I crochet, make beaded jewelry, lanyards, I even started sewing. I have several projects going on at once so i don't get bored. I get compliments alot, but being the perfectionist I am though, I don't always agree, even when i know it's good. I have taken apart crocheted projects almost all the way to fix mistakes done early on, can't leave it that way. But I enjoy it all sooo much, even the frustration that can come withit. I believe this is because I am doing it as a hobby, doing it because I enjoy it, I'm doing it for myself. I don't care really if others like it, most of the stuff I make is never seen by most.

I enjoyed doing hair and make up until I decided to go to cosmetology school so i could do it as a profession. That year of school, although i learned some good stuff, it took the enjoyment of it out of me. I stayed in the profession a few years but it just wore thin and working with women was a pain in the ass. I loved the customers though, so much learned and so many good storis and conversations. But having to do things someone elses way and working for a boss that decides your hours and pay scale, that is stifling for someone like me.

I think for some of us, like me, trying to do something we enjoy or are good at, trying to do it by someone elses method ruins our abilities. Classes can be good for certain things like learnign some different techniques, but for the most part hobbies and abilities are learned and strengthened through trial and error. Do it for yourself and your own enjoyment, take other peoples opinions out of the quation....much more fun and satisfying.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Shrike on November 29, 2007, 11:32:17 pm
Claire,
Your passion for art is all you need. However, I suggest you try drawing for yourself for a little while,
without the pressure of having to be creative under the demands of a commission, as it can be
overwhelming sometimes, in terms of delivering your best. Pick a few subjects that interest you -
and it doesn't have to be a person or animal, unless you really enjoy the subject matter - and just
draw at your own pace and without any outside pressures from anyone.
I'm a professional artist, by trade, and I can tell you that one of the most important guidelines to
becoming the artist you long to be is shear repetition, in other words, practice, practice, practice.
It took me thousands of hours to reach even my meager level of expertise, but I got here because
I love the creative process, even if I'm not the best out there. Doing it over and over, though, will
take you to that next level, just keep at it. Above all, enjoy the journey, which is the point in the
first place.
I work primarily in the computer graphics field, but spent twenty-five years as a traditional artist and
I still continue to draw and paint in my spare time. I suspect I'll be doing so until my physical self
no longer allows it.
Trust yourself, Claire. No one is stopping you from being an awesome artist but you. Unleash the
passion. Let the fire rage. To Hell with anyone who tells you you can't do it.

God Bless,

Shrike
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: slidemansailor on November 30, 2007, 09:47:27 am
Let Dizzie Gillespie be your model. Everyone who knows how to play trumpet properly could see his embouchure was terribly wrong. Yet few in the history of the instrument played any better. While firm cheeks are a must to get a decent sound, Dizzie's looked like he was holding an apple in each.  Put a picture of him over your brushes, then do it your way.  Don't let technique get in the way of your expression.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 01:00:00 pm
But anyway, Claire, an idea just crossed my mind.  Suppose you draw something for yourself?  I mean, really just for yourself.  Pick out in advance a nice spot to hang it, inside a linen closet or in a root cellar or a medicine cabinet or somewhere where nobody but you will ever see it.  Then sit down and relax, and draw anything that you like.

 :laugh: Yes, the crawl space under Cabin Sweet Cabin would do nicely, thank you, Mr. Bill.

And thank you all for the suggestions and encouragement -- and for not trouncing me. After I posted the opening rant yesterday, I said to myself, "Claire, what the hell were you smoking, to strip yourself so naked in front of people like that? At your age, it's not a pretty sight!"

But you guys showed yourselves worthy of my trust -- and no surprise there.

I'll respond to some specifics in other replies (some in PMs). But a couple of general observations.

Yeah, what is it, Mr. Bill, with that business of being "talented, but ..."? I don't quite understand what you mean by the fear of people seeing how good you are. What did you fear they'd do? Or what did you fear you'd have to do? Was it feeling unable to live up to their expectations?

There's something about being very good, but not great that's crazy making. I mean, I'm sure dozens, hundreds, of people envied you your clarinet talent, as they've envied my art or writing abilities. To people who can't play a note (me, for instance) your level of talent looks like heaven on earth. People who can't draw a stroke might say, "What the hell are you whining about? Count your blessings!"

But oooh, that being good, but never good enough ...

The other thing is ... you guys who've told me, "Just do it for yourself" are right, of course. Shrike, MidnightBlue, feralfae, spatter, Joel ... to the extent that you do your art out of joy or personal passion now, you have a great secret. Shrike, I've seen your work and you remind me -- in the very nicest way (and I hope you don't mind me saying this much here) -- of one of those boys in high school who always filled his history or English notebooks with drawings of rocket ships, space aliens, wild animals, and futuristic weapons. And there you are, making a living doing it bigger and better. I mean, that's the way to do it; you live what you love.

But I realized when you say, "Do it just for yourself," that I long ago lost the key to knowing what my self (my real self, not my ego-self) wants. I hear you guys say that and I think, "But to do that I'd already have had to banish those critical ghosts who are looking over my shoulder." Until I get rid of them, nothing I did would please me, because those ghosts of old teachers and relatives are internalized now. How to banish them?

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 01:05:53 pm
I can really relate to this. I loved drawing as a kid and always got compliments on it. I was average to good in academics (mostly because I ws bored, lazy, and it wasn't what I felt like doing) and my mother road my ass for not keeping my grades up, but I excelled in art and music stuff. But when I took Arts and Crafts in 7th grade and had to stick to the projects outlined by the teacher, i couldn't do it well...it wasn't what I wasted to do and was putting me in a box so to speak. ...

I was the same way with reading. I enjoyed reading what I wanted to read at my own pace, but in 5th grade my teacher was one of those speed reader freaks and pushed that on the class. She singled me out at times as I was not one of those go with the flow types

I still don't draw now, just don't have too much of an interest and the thought of starting it up now, drawing, and it not being up to par in my own mind (someone else thinking it's good won't matter since i'm a perfectionist with my crafts), well this just makes me not interested.

This is such a sadly typical story. I wonder how many children have had some passion or talent crushed out of them by inappropriate teaching methods or the expectations of authority figures? And what's odd -- especially when it comes to creative talents, I think -- is that having adults expect too much can be just as harmful as having adults tell you you're no good. (Come to think of it, the two often go together, "Why are you failing? You should be better than that! You're choosing to be a loser!"

We are a weird species.

I understand how you can enjoy your crafts (even as a perfectionist) when you have only bad memories of other kinds of art. Somehow, the pressures on crafts are less than on what we perceive as "fine art."

Yep. Strange species.

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 01:12:28 pm
Let Dizzie Gillespie be your model. Everyone who knows how to play trumpet properly could see his embouchure was terribly wrong. Yet few in the history of the instrument played any better. While firm cheeks are a must to get a decent sound, Dizzie's looked like he was holding an apple in each.  Put a picture of him over your brushes, then do it your way.  Don't let technique get in the way of your expression.

 :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: Ah yes, I've seen those Dizzy Gillespie chipmunk cheeks. Good reminder of how the "musts" can get in our way. Or not. Like the bumblebee who flies because he doesn't realize he's aerodynamically incapable.

Or the marvelous Aubrey Beardsley, who was too weak and sick to be any kind of traditional "great artist" and so became a master of the sharp little pen and ink drawing. Or Sister Kenny who, not knowing what the symptoms of polio were supposed to be, saw symptoms differently than the doctors of her day did and saved children that they could not.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 01:18:21 pm
I have very little experience with art, but I do have one experience to relate that may be relevant. Back in 1982, I had recently read a popular book about drawing that stressed the need to "see" what you intend to draw in a particular way before drawing it. See it as it is, as a two-dimensional image, not as your mind thinks it is out there in three dimensions. I was sitting in a chair in the living room one day, with one leg crossed over the other, when I noticed that I could "see" the image before me. I picked up a napkin and a pen, which were fortunately nearby so I didn't lose my vision, and did a line drawing of the scene. It was good. Unfortunately, I lost the napkin in one of my moves.

Ah. Yes. I think that's why one typical image of an artist shows him measuring something in the air with a paintbrush or framing his subject in a box made of his thumbs and forefingers. It's very true, as far as technique goes. The relationships between objects and parts is different than what our minds tell us it is.

(Did I just say something about us being a strange species?)
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Dare2BFree on November 30, 2007, 01:21:29 pm
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But I realized when you say, "Do it just for yourself," that I long ago lost the key to knowing what my self (my real self, not my ego-self) wants. I hear you guys say that and I think, "But to do that I'd already have had to banish those critical ghosts who are looking over my shoulder." Until I get rid of them, nothing I did would please me, because those ghosts of old teachers and relatives are internalized now. How to banish them?

I think you've answered your own question here.  You banish those ghosts is to learn who you are, what you like, what you want - for yourself.  If you're more tuned into the voices of ghosts, then you're not listening to your own internal voice.  


I have to run right now, but I will post more on this later.  I just wanted to get this thought out there before I forgot it :)
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 01:34:53 pm
I think I see a pattern here, Claire.  Who (whom?) are you trying to please?

The ghosts. The terrible, haunting ghosts of course.

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And I was starting to relax to the notion that it no longer really mattered what people thought of me; I didn't have to live for others anymore.

A blessing of the gods.

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My first novel was an offbeat fantasy based in Bible-era Israel, just because.  It has never garnered one word of praise.  You may  remember it; we had an email conversation over it because you had the honesty to tell me you didn't like it and why.  That was okay.  I saw its flaws, but at least it wasn't embarrassing.

It definitely wasn't embarrassing. Not at all. And in fairness I've got to point out that while the book had structural flaws (as I perceived it), it was an interesting story. AND it was equally interesting that nearly everything I perceived as a flaw was something you had added after the fact -- as if you were trying to improve something that maybe didn't need improving.

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I took the lessons learned and wrote a second book, this time much more ambitious.  I really liked the way this book came out, even though it died on Amazon.  And you know what?  I still really like it.  It was the book I sat down to write.  And I knew I had arrived where I wanted to be, even if I never made a dime from it.

Yep. And that second biblical book was terrific, too.

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And you should, too.  I may be all wet here, but from what you wrote it sounds like you're worrying way too much about what others think of this or that.  When did the Third Assistant Demigoddess of Freedom start having anything to prove to anybody?

Um ... I'd say from the time I was about 13.

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(And you know what?  Daughter liked them both, but she liked the first one best.   :threvil:)

 :laugh: Well, now that's a pretty good irony. Good on her. She's probably right that the first rough drawing was a better piece of art. But it didn't look like her, and that drives me crazy.

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Joel on November 30, 2007, 01:38:07 pm
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...But it didn't look like her, and that drives me crazy.

 :laugh: Yes it did.  You never met her at a certain time of the...
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: slidemansailor on November 30, 2007, 01:56:25 pm
My sister's college degree was in fine arts. She created an interior design company that was a huge financial success.... got the contract to design Viking Truck Line's new corporate headquarters and, subsequently, the interiors of many executive homes in Silicon Valley.  She quit it because other people were controlling or influencing "her art".

She has been hired to do several portraits. Amazingly accurate and emotionally expressive faces 5' tall. She avoids that work at any price. She can't stand to "prostitute" her art and instead built custom slipcovers for rich folks' furniture for income and paints for herself. She has put on big, but unsuccessful shows in New York and California. The stuff she likes to produce doesn't sell. The stuff she could sell she doesn't like to paint.  She keeps on painting for herself.  Strong willed is a weak description. 

She is, however, pleased with her art and continues to express herself through it.

Now she is in the middle of a project creating a breakthrough in plant analysis that cuts 26 steps of that genus-family-species stuff into six or something like that. It is from observations she made while pleasing herself with her art, and has some pretty big money behind it now.

You can't please everyone so you might as well please yourself. 
(maybe I should write a song with this as its punch line).
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 03:14:32 pm
Everything I do is experimental, and fun, and an exploration;
Everything I do is to learn more about creating; :laugh:
Nothing I do is a "final product" because that would mean I have just died when I declare that to be true;

Good teacher. Good pupil.

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I have seen you work - I think you will be able to play with much beauty and happiness.  When you can hold that state of flow and joy while you are doing your art, the art will flow through you and into what ever medium you are working, and it will have beauty.  And it will flow back into you and assist in the release of more creativity as well.

Flowing through me. Yes, that's what I want. To get my old ego and all its childish hurts and fears out of the way and let the Flow ... flow.

It happens once in a while when I write. I know the feeling. But oh, to be able to just flow with it, though it, it through me.

Part of this reply got disappeared as I composed it, so this is more than a little incomplete. But thank you, feralfae. Among other things, you reminded me of an old ink-block and brushes I bought in Tokyo many moons ago and never liked to use because of that out-of-control feeling of ink and brush. May be time to dust it off.

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on November 30, 2007, 03:20:43 pm
She avoids that work at any price. She can't stand to "prostitute" her art and instead built custom slipcovers for rich folks' furniture for income and paints for herself.

In my 20s when I was a fast-lane hot-shot who hired artists & writers, we used to use the services of a freelance architectural draftsperson. She did those stylized drawings you see of buildings that still exist only on paper and she did them well and elegantly. One day I went to her house to pick up her latest for us and I found the walls covered everywhere with absolutely awesome abstract oil paintings. All her work.

I asked why she was doing what amounted to just fancy drafting when she could be making a name and perhaps a mint doing that. She told me pretty much what your sister would tell you.

I thought she was a complete idiot.

I've often thought of her and her wisdom since then. I think I'd like your sister.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on November 30, 2007, 03:52:26 pm
Claire,
Maybe it doesn't look like her, but it might feel like her and catch her personality.
Art is not always realistic.
Portraiture is not always an execution of a copy of the subject(s).
I'd say, if the subject likes it, you are a success!   :laugh:
ff
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Ire on November 30, 2007, 04:04:43 pm
Ah, if only we could get rid of people's expectations of us and just work for ourselves. This is an interesting thread to me.
I think I've felt a similar frustration, but it's do to a lack of ability to express my point in a manner that makes sense (at least, to anyone but me) rather than the expectations of others.

As to the solution of your problem... what puts you in a mood most to draw? I know when I read some beautiful piece, be it music, art, a movie, whatever; I get an urge to just write. Often it ends up with me getting stuck a few pages (if that) in because I can't put forth the ideas I want and still stick to anything anyone will make any sense of.

However, those first few pages- maybe even only the first few paragraphs- often capture the essence of what I want. (Then I go back and edit and ruin it all...) The number of thing's I've written and then trashed five minutes later is uncountable.

I don't know if it can work that way with drawing. But maybe if you do it enough times, you'll be able to paint an entire picture with only the pure expression shown, and non of the influence of what others expect it to look like.

I hope that made sense. It's a painful process, because you are so close to getting what you want and then you lose it, and you end up scrapping the entire thing and starting over. But maybe if you do it enough times, you can break out of it. Just an idea.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Joel on November 30, 2007, 05:41:34 pm
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...those ghosts of old teachers and relatives are internalized now. How to banish them?

Boy, if I could only bottle the answer to that one.

I think feralfae came up with the best advice:  Find some different artistic technique that attracts you, and that you never studied in school.   Practice and master that.   If the ghosts have anything to say about it, tell'em that they don't know anything about it, either, and that they should just butt out.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Mr. Bill on November 30, 2007, 05:46:25 pm
But I realized when you say, "Do it just for yourself," that I long ago lost the key to knowing what my self (my real self, not my ego-self) wants....

This is really just one facet of that big question, isn't it?  What is life for?  Why am I here?  What do I want?

Which is hard enough, but after a certain age (I think you're just a few years ahead of me, Claire), we've got this growing knowledge that we have only a limited time left to find an answer.

For those of us with a freedom/individualism mindset, the "answer" is always "You are free to choose your own purpose."  Which is no answer at all, really.

And I think that's one big reason why so many people are happy to give up their freedom and let someone else tell them what they're living for.  In some ways it is so much easier to dedicate yourself to the glory of the state, or the glory of your employer, than to have that awful uncertainty of not knowing if your life is worthwhile.

Um.  If I figure out the answer to that one, I'll be sure to post it right away.  ^_^

In the meanwhile, the best I can suggest is to try to think yourself into the space you were when you were a kid and just doing stuff for fun, with no deadlines and no grades.  Don't worry about achieving permanent bliss, just aim for a few hours' vacation, and if you have a sudden whim to do a really accurate close-up of your dog's toenail, do it!

Yeah, what is it, Mr. Bill, with that business of being "talented, but ..."? I don't quite understand what you mean by the fear of people seeing how good you are. What did you fear they'd do? Or what did you fear you'd have to do? Was it feeling unable to live up to their expectations?

I don't quite understand it either.  I think a part of it comes from being the smart little kid in class, always the one with his hand raised, with the right answer -- and eventually learning that this did not make me well-liked.  Better to hide.  In fact, better to be unsure that I had the right answer, since as long as I was unsure, it was okay that I didn't raise my hand.  So, with clarinet, better to play the solo with one or two little mistakes, so no one would dislike me for showing off.

Another part is something like what you said -- not exactly "feeling unable to live up to their expectations", but more like being too obstinate to live up to their expectations.  The more I have to do something, the more I resist doing it.  I don't like having things expected of me.  That's great from the standpoint of being anti-authoritarian, but not so great in a lot of other ways.

There's probably more to it, but the above are the two character/ego flaws that I'm aware of in myself.  I have no idea whether they'd be at all applicable to you or anyone else.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Wyomiles on December 01, 2007, 02:36:09 am
Claire,
If I take a minute to think back over my life the first memories I have are of art. I loved my coloring books, art class was always my favorite. I spent hours copying the pictures in my story books. National geographic magazine has inspired many drawings . In the late 60's my hippie art teachers really inspired me and I still have some of the still lifes from back then. As I got older I discovered pottery and sculpture. In my sophomore year my art teacher had me do a bust in clay, she made me start with the skull ,add the muscles, then the skin. Leanardo's bust is still with me. In the dorm at college I started copying  playboy photos in pastels . I had always practiced the arts and wanted to study more to find a career in it. But my parents said I couldn't make a living at it.... I am trying not to do that to my kids. 
 I have not drawn anything for 20 years! I threw my last real pot about that long ago also. I left those childish things behind.  As I sit here thinking about it I am not sure I could even do any of those wonderful things I used to do. I look at the watercolors and oils on the walls of my home and cannot believe I actually did that. I have become someone else and I miss being an artist.
For me it has always been about others...pleasing them. Not having time for myself. So I am looking forward to retiring, putting together my studio, and trying to find the child I left behind.
 I fear I will have forgotten ,but I will try because it is a gift once treasured,put away in the back of the closet, waiting for me to remember where I misplaced it.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: slidemansailor on December 01, 2007, 09:59:25 am
YOU.  Yes you with your face in front of the confuser.  You take a time out to answer four questions.  Take as long as you need to get the answers right.

What would you LIKE to do?

Where can you fit that in your normal day?
Where can you fit that in your normal week?
Is there anything you DO that could give way to something you want to do?

Claire started this thread because she is finding the time to do something she has wanted to do. A common piece of numerous answers is the undercurrent that "someday I will resume painting".  I have news for you. Someday comes when you make it.

I have gone to only one of my high school reunions (for all I know there has been only one).  On their name tags everyone was to put what they did to earn a living.  SAD.  When the registration folks told me that I said, "Next time you ought to have people put down what they like to do; what they do that is rewarding; what they do for fun; what they are proud of doing.  Far too many identify with their job. In rare cases they are the same.

Make sure some of each day and some of each week has something in it you are truly happy to talk about at your next reunion... like playing a jazz solo, flying a hull in a catamaran sailboat or painting a portrait that doesn't look like the model, but captures her essence.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Roy J. Tellason on December 01, 2007, 02:49:42 pm
And thank you all for the suggestions and encouragement -- and for not trouncing me. After I posted the opening rant yesterday, I said to myself, "Claire, what the hell were you smoking, to strip yourself so naked in front of people like that? At your age, it's not a pretty sight!"

Now there's a stupid stereotype that really needs to be done away with.  Older More mature does _not_ mean less visually pleasing,  as the current ability to find um,  graphic material,  to suit just about any taste out there on the 'net proves.  :-)

Quote
But you guys showed yourselves worthy of my trust -- and no surprise there.

I'll respond to some specifics in other replies (some in PMs). But a couple of general observations.

Yeah, what is it, Mr. Bill, with that business of being "talented, but ..."? I don't quite understand what you mean by the fear of people seeing how good you are. What did you fear they'd do? Or what did you fear you'd have to do? Was it feeling unable to live up to their expectations?

There's something about being very good, but not great that's crazy making. I mean, I'm sure dozens, hundreds, of people envied you your clarinet talent, as they've envied my art or writing abilities. To people who can't play a note (me, for instance) your level of talent looks like heaven on earth. People who can't draw a stroke might say, "What the hell are you whining about? Count your blessings!"

But oooh, that being good, but never good enough ...

I don't know exactly why,  but Mr. Bill's post made me think of this (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/dancing.html).  Is it relevant?  Beats me...
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: da gooch on December 01, 2007, 05:04:38 pm
Quote
...those ghosts of old teachers and relatives are internalized now. How to banish them?

Boy, if I could only bottle the answer to that one.

I think feralfae came up with the best advice:  Find some different artistic technique that attracts you, and that you never studied in school.   Practice and master that.   If the ghosts have anything to say about it, tell'em that they don't know anything about it, either, and that they should just butt out.

Ditto.

Singing.
Vocal arts was my only claim to any sort of fame or excellence. When in jr high school I actually won medals at state competitions. It was a group effort and I really loved singing. 
Men's Double Quartet and Men's Glee Club were the medal classes. We took first in both.
The next year my family moved and I got to start all over again. Typical military family life.
Went from the group chorus in elementary school to a capella choir doing broadway show productions in high school.
9 years worth of training more or less.
I sang everyday in class and about half the time at home when not in any sort of organized group effort. Just me doing "my thing".
Graduated from high school fully intending to go to college and become a vocal arts major.

The selective service draft + Viet Nam + no money for the tuition = me in the navy and college is gone .

After that I never had the money or the interest to try to recapture that dream.
I figured it was dead and gone.
Now 40 years later I was listening to the radio and felt moved to sing along.
Yuck.  My skills are still in my head but my body has forgotten all of it's 'moves'.
Breath control is basically gone, vibrato is trashed, range has dropped to less than one octave.
I probably could recover the skills but to what avail ?

I answered those four questions posed by SMS and my first answer was ........
not singing.
My first answer was ....................... building a homestead in a wilderness.
[mental image was northern Idaho or western Montana where I lived years back....]
Get practical I said to myself ...... so
My second was having a school boat so I could teach sailing.
This would at least generate an income while allowing me to do something I really love to do.
BUT ......
I can afford to do ...... neither.
Plus I would HAVE TO live near a population center as my "choice" is a public service choice and near the coast or a large enough lake that sailing is practical.  Both make the land totally outrageously expensive and that excludes me.

And thank you all for the suggestions and encouragement -- and for not trouncing me. After I posted the opening rant yesterday, I said to myself, "Claire, what the hell were you smoking, to strip yourself so naked in front of people like that? At your age, it's not a pretty sight!"

Now there's a stupid<snip> stereotype that really needs to be done away with.  Older More mature does _not_ mean less visually<snip> pleasing  period. No need for further references. IMHO
<tuck>
bold emphasis mine

Just a couple of little snips and a tuck and a Yep me too.
Nothing personal Roy just a personal choice of expression.

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But you guys showed yourselves worthy of my trust -- and no surprise there.

Learning the lessons of Personal Liberty and sharing those lessons with trust in a group of compatriots through quasi-direct communications is what Most of us are here for isn't it ? I am at any rate.
[I'm not a wordsmith so I'm not sure the actual IDEA I was trying for came across there....... I hope it did]


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"...those ghosts of old teachers and relatives are internalized now. How to banish them?"

Ghosts .....
I'm not a mental health professional nor do I play one on the radio .......  :rolleyes:
BUT I really do think Joel was right on the nail head ........
Tell those "ghosts" to take a hike. Any way you like.
Their time is finished. Gone . No longer needed. By By.

First bring them out.  Identify them. Honor them.  Then banish them to the past.
My $0.02

Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Mr. Bill on December 01, 2007, 05:21:43 pm
I don't know exactly why,  but Mr. Bill's post made me think of this (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/dancing.html).  Is it relevant?  Beats me...

Interesting read -- thanks.

Is there a god of curling up in a warm place and sleeping a real lot?  Bast, perhaps?  That's the one I must be channeling.   :mellow:
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Roy J. Tellason on December 01, 2007, 06:04:33 pm
I don't know exactly why,  but Mr. Bill's post made me think of this (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/dancing.html).  Is it relevant?  Beats me...

Interesting read -- thanks.

His stuff often is, and is well worth searching out.  I mean,  the guy's a techie,  an anarchist,  a gun nut,  and assorted other things.  What's not to like?  :-)

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Is there a god of curling up in a warm place and sleeping a real lot?  Bast, perhaps?  That's the one I must be channeling.   :mellow:

I dunno,  but I do know that with winter coming on and such I have this tendency to not want to go anywhere,  and would much rather hang out and get online some,  read a bunch of books,  etc. than I would getting out and going anywhere.  Maybe mine is cousin to yours?
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on December 01, 2007, 08:07:27 pm
Claire, this thread has been very good for me.

Several years ago, I wanted to buy a piano and begin to remember how to play again, after dozens years of flute, but no piano.
Then my husband became very ill and his medical bills wiped out everything we had - retirement, house, savings, everything.  Then I was alone again, and it took several years to get my feet back under me.  I had forgotten about that piano I wanted.

Now I have a home where I can put it, I can afford (a reasonable used) one, and I can play for myself and practice in the evenings.  So, because you set me to thinking about all the creative avenues of expression open to we humans, I am going to get my piano within the next year, and begin to play again.

Thank you  {{{hugs}}}
ff
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: slidemansailor on December 01, 2007, 09:10:58 pm
A couple of decades ago, I got a totally awesome bargain on an old player piano with the player mechanism missing. I had no desire to learn the piano, but had three little girls and I wanted to make sure if they wanted to play with one, it was available. Plus guests would bang pleasantly on it from time to time.  I tripped over a gun-club friend who tuned it for me and it was always there. Total investment in 1980 FRNs was about a hundred bucks.

My trombones cost a heckuva lot more than that.  (but I can actually play them)

I guess I'm thinking that if you MIGHT use some tool of artistic expression, you ought to try to find one within your budget. Even if you don't use it, somebody might give you (and themselves) pleasure by using it in your presence.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: spatter on December 01, 2007, 09:21:23 pm
Quote
I am going to get my piano within the next year, and begin to play again.

You made me think again of the piano I left behind...  I have room again as well and it's been on my mind.

I am far from talented musically, but playing the piano was always a great source of joy and relaxation for me and I'm going to keep my eyes open for an affordable one.

Spatter
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Claire on December 02, 2007, 09:54:57 am
I don't know exactly why,  but Mr. Bill's post made me think of this (http://catb.org/~esr/writings/dancing.html).  Is it relevant?  Beats me...

Relevant? Roy, it just might be the most relevant thing posted in a thread that already dazzles and dances with relevance.

Eric S. Raymond a mystic? (And an avatar of the Great God Pan?) Whodathunkit.

But it feels exactly right as an observation on Mr. Bill's observation. And reading it awakened in me something wild, something angry, something free, an awareness of potential (in us all!) so long denied it's all but dead.

Though Raymond doesn't address it directly, I know it's true that the creativity so many of us pine for or struggle with arises from the same source as the human divinity he exults in. As I read his words, revelation struck on top of revelation. Of course "society" and families have a survival interest in taming our native wildenss. And wanting to survive, ourselves, we learn shortly after popping out of the womb that survival means being lovable to others on their terms. Survival means not rocking boats, cooperating with others, keeping our behavior within bounds, pleasing the authority figures who need to be pleased (whether those be parents, police officers, teachers, preachers, or even the alpha member of our grade-school's most alpha social pack). And so civilization goes on.

But creativity is essentially an uncivilized phenomenon. When we allow it to be tamed (and nearly all of us begin "allowing" that before we even have words or defenses), it begins to die.

Lucky, the people like feralfae who bubble with creativity and never lost it. Or people like slideman who have a talent that is also a love. But no wonder so many of us struggle and pine. To release captive creativity is very scary & at some level defies every rule of order that makes "society" safe and secure. That makes US safe and secure?

Whew. I will re-read that essay several times today.

Claire
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: slidemansailor on December 02, 2007, 12:02:59 pm
I can't recommend what I just did high enough:
Read Claire's preceding post.
Read the linked essay by Eric Raymond.
Re-read Clair's post.

Find some time and space ASAP to do that thing you know you should be doing to understand and/or express yourself.

I'm going to take my horn away from the charts I normally play, away from all the written music I have, and play... make up my own sounds.

...

I'm back. I don't know what it means, but when I'm playing off my jazz combo charts, Christmas program I'm preparing for or other stuff folks have committed to paper, the extremely social Opie goes to the farthest corner of the house until I'm done. This time he moved from the far corner TOWARDS the room I was playing in.  He is telling me to go 'uncharted' more often, I think. 
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on December 02, 2007, 01:17:01 pm


The last line:
"Have no fixed beliefs, and find your own light."

Was the essence of the entire piece, to me.
Oh, what we can do when we give up the limitations of institutions and open ourselves to the energy of existence!
We are all, each, gods.
And we are the otters of the universe.
Go, play, be in bliss.
Okay, that sums it up for me.

ps...And I am assuming everyone here read, long ago, Illusions by Richard Bach, son of Marcus?
ff
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: da gooch on December 02, 2007, 06:39:33 pm

I had to go look but Yep I still have my paperback copy and it just went on the top of the to be read  pile.
{Currently in an E. R. Burroughs compilation ...}
Thanks for bringing it back to mind.



Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on December 02, 2007, 07:45:21 pm
...

I'm back. I don't know what it means, but when I'm playing off my jazz combo charts, Christmas program I'm preparing for or other stuff folks have committed to paper, the extremely social Opie goes to the farthest corner of the house until I'm done. This time he moved from the far corner TOWARDS the room I was playing in.  He is telling me to go 'uncharted' more often, I think. 

Wow, that is very neat! How delightful! :laugh:
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Elias Alias on December 07, 2007, 10:17:34 am
Claire,
If I take a minute to think back over my life the first memories I have are of art. I loved my coloring books, art class was always my favorite. I spent hours copying the pictures in my story books. National geographic magazine has inspired many drawings . In the late 60's my hippie art teachers really inspired me and I still have some of the still lifes from back then. As I got older I discovered pottery and sculpture. In my sophomore year my art teacher had me do a bust in clay, she made me start with the skull ,add the muscles, then the skin. Leanardo's bust is still with me. In the dorm at college I started copying  playboy photos in pastels . I had always practiced the arts and wanted to study more to find a career in it. But my parents said I couldn't make a living at it.... I am trying not to do that to my kids. 
 I have not drawn anything for 20 years! I threw my last real pot about that long ago also. I left those childish things behind.  As I sit here thinking about it I am not sure I could even do any of those wonderful things I used to do. I look at the watercolors and oils on the walls of my home and cannot believe I actually did that. I have become someone else and I miss being an artist.
For me it has always been about others...pleasing them. Not having time for myself. So I am looking forward to retiring, putting together my studio, and trying to find the child I left behind.
 I fear I will have forgotten ,but I will try because it is a gift once treasured,put away in the back of the closet, waiting for me to remember where I misplaced it.

There are so many sentiments on this thread.... I cannot reply to many of those I'd like to address.... but Wyomiles, you've just pinged something very deeply intrinsic to my soul, and I must do this even though it's something I have wrestled with for years as being incomplete and poorly written. Many long years ago I attempted to do a poem which centers on your lament. I think that right now, before I come to my senses and change my mind, I'd like to share a poem which I cannot publish because I am not finished writing the danged thing, but which, in its present awkward condition, expresses, or tries to express, your sentiment.

~

When muscadines are sprinkled
on shadeless forest floors
and meadows boast of goldenrods
behind the general store,

when berry vines by railroad tracks
are robbed of all their fruit
and trees along the riverbank
give naked-limbed salute

to cooler currents swirling
with their catch of autumn leaves,
I’ll be walking in the country
of my golden memories.

Seems the crispness in the autumn air,
the frost upon the ground,
the crackling leaves beneath the step,
the baying of the hound;

seems the fog above the hidden slough
which disappears by noon,
and calls of geese above bare trees
mean winter’s coming soon,

and I sense a certain urgency
while lighting breakfast’s fire
to get on with why I ventured here
before the day expires.

I am searching in this forest
for the child who, long ago,
had made these woods a home for me,
a place where I could grow.

I search for him each autumn
where he’s certain to be found
and we talk about the good ol’ days
before I moved to town.

He always makes me feel the fool
for leaving him behind,
makes me hate myself a little more
by seeing how I’m blind.

Yet each autumn I return
to paths which criticize,
to childhood days and honest ways,
to the boy who seems so wise.

I beg him to return with me
and try the city life,
though it’s crazy there and crowded too
and full of stress and strife.

But he refuses with a smile
and with shaking head replies:
“Each fall you feel a need for me—
why don’t you wonder why?”

circa 1970; copyright Elias Alias 2007
~

It always astonishes me anew to see peeking out from behind our many apparent differences those inner, intrinsic realities which silently and invisibly constitute the universal soul of mankind. I hope you can relate to my reflection of your sentiments on the wisdom of the child. And remember always something a great writer once said "The child is father to the man". (I forget who said that, lol!, but the statement has always been with me since first reading it back in the 1960s..)

Salute!
Elias
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Roy J. Tellason on December 08, 2007, 01:31:06 am

I had to go look but Yep I still have my paperback copy and it just went on the top of the to be read  pile.
{Currently in an E. R. Burroughs compilation ...}
Thanks for bringing it back to mind.


I'd like to put that on the similar stack here when you're done with it,  if you don't mind.  :-)

And Claire and SMS?  I couldn't have asked for a better reaction to my post,  there.  I saw a connection,  couldn't express just what sort of a connection it was,  and am happy that you guys saw it too,  in such a positive way.  Thanks to the both of you!  :-)
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: RVM45 on January 02, 2008, 11:56:58 pm
.....A few years ago, in my mid-fourties, quite accidentally, and totally unexpectedly, I found that I had some talent for drawing. For several years, I pushed myself relentlessly; but never tediously; to improve- and improve I did.

.....Then one day, I found that I'd lost the...the...what? The desire to draw? No that's still there. I have severe depression; and I often sit and plan even a rather simple, mundane activity for days; before I finally get psyched up enough to act. It takes ten or twelve minutes of fetching supplies; and clearing a workspace before I can start. Several months ago, I just stoppped getting enthused enough about the idea of drawing, to actually do it.

.....About the same time, I recommenced writing again, after a hiatus of years. Writing doesn't take any preparation- just sit down at the computer; and go.

.....In many ways, I look on writing as a debilitating vice, that saps time and energy that I could- in theory, at least, put into drawing or painting. Sometimes I wish that I could put the writing away permanently; and never be tempted to start it up again. Nonetheless, my writing has a small but dedicated cadre of fans online.

.....Think there's anything to this Right Brain/Left Brain bullshit? I never learned touch typing. I used to try to write longhand. It proved to be a very frustrating experience. Started joinining beaucoup forums; and making long philosophical posts online.

.....But I just have a fetish against touch-tying. My father was illiterate. My mother a gifted typist. They both tried to brow-beat me into learning touch-typing from earliest childhood. Seemed to me; since typing was something my mother excellled at; that they were trying to effeminatize me.(I mean- that's what I felt as a child. I outgrew the "Typing be effeminate" thing; but never lost the "Snarl and gnash teeth" thingy, whenever I contemplated learning to type...)

.....Well anyway, come on a one-handed typing course. Sounded fun. My writing improved dramatically when I mastered LEFTHANDED; one hand typing. Go figure...

.....Left hand=Right brain- the supposed seat of nonverbal/intuitive/creativity. On the other hand; maybe I can just type fast enough, left-handed, to stay interested; but just slow enough to minimize my need for rewriting.

.....Or maybe it's all a plot, by "The Powers That Be" to bolix my art career...(har...har- you know, humor...)


......RVM45     :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Roy J. Tellason on January 03, 2008, 02:47:30 am
.....Think there's anything to this Right Brain/Left Brain bullshit? I never learned touch typing. I used to try to write longhand. It proved to be a very frustrating experience. Started joinining beaucoup forums; and making long philosophical posts online.

.....But I just have a fetish against touch-tying. My father was illiterate. My mother a gifted typist. They both tried to brow-beat me into learning touch-typing from earliest childhood. Seemed to me; since typing was something my mother excellled at; that they were trying to effeminatize me.(I mean- that's what I felt as a child. I outgrew the "Typing be effeminate" thing; but never lost the "Snarl and gnash teeth" thingy, whenever I contemplated learning to type...)

For whatever it's worth,  I'm the better typist of the two of us here.  Probably comes from spending too much time doing this sort of thing over the years.  :-)   What little influence I've had so far has been in the instances of a couple of my granddaughters,  now both 17,  and in each case I said "It's a useful skill to have." and didn't pressure them about doing it.  The one was on the computer the other day out in the other room (yay networking! :-) and I walked by and her fingers were flying.  I was impressed enough to comment on it.

I took a little bit of typing in school,  not even a whole term.  It was *boring* doing those practice exercises.  I probably still don't use the fingers you're supposed to for some things.  And they were trying to get us to learn on _manual_ typewriters!  OTOH,  I do like my computers,  and it is a handy skill to have.  Lets me get more done,   mostly.

For whatever that's worth.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Bill St. Clair on January 03, 2008, 05:37:17 am
.....Then one day, I found that I'd lost the...the...what? The desire to draw? No that's still there. I have severe depression; and I often sit and plan even a rather simple, mundane activity for days; before I finally get psyched up enough to act. It takes ten or twelve minutes of fetching supplies; and clearing a workspace before I can start. Several months ago, I just stoppped getting enthused enough about the idea of drawing, to actually do it.

.....About the same time, I recommenced writing again, after a hiatus of years. Writing doesn't take any preparation- just sit down at the computer; and go.

Sounds like you're a candidate for a drawing pad (http://www.wacom.com/index2.cfm) and a good computer paint program. Not the same as paint and paper, but pretty good these days, or so I'm told.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Lisa Aenne on January 03, 2008, 01:33:09 pm
I'm a bit late to the party, but I have a little something to add.

Bill St. Clair said early on in the thread:
Quote
I had recently read a popular book about drawing that stressed the need to "see" what you intend to draw in a particular way before drawing it. See it as it is, as a two-dimensional image, not as your mind thinks it is out there in three dimensions.
  This is a nifty nugget of advice.  It does work, I've found in my own experience.

I love art but I've been a lousy artist, or so I thought.  This is why I gravitated toward art history in college. I could be around art, appreciate art but wouldn't have to necessarily produce worthy art.  However, part of the degree requirements were so many hand's on art classes, beginning with a basic drawing class.  I was never very good in the class, but my best work was when I let go.  The teacher I had brought in an odd still life one day--- it contained a fake walrus skull, a vase of daffodils and a candlestick.  Our charge was to draw it in charcoal but not look at our paper at all.  We had to close our eyes and draw, if the urge to look at our pads was too strong.  My drawing done in such a fashion weren't masterpieces, mind you, but it was evident I was getting into a groove.  They weren't bad, and I think my teacher said something like, "See what you can do when you aren't so uptight?" =)  This was long ago, so my memories are a bit rusty.

I took a pottery class a few years ago and loved it.  I never moved beyond the bowl, but I loved making bowls.  I hope to secure a wheel and kiln someday.  Anyhow, my best work was a totally unplanned "mistake."  I was struggling to cut off the heel of the bowl, and the clay was drying quicker than I expected.  As I struggled and flipped the darned thing, the top edges formed this cool square that meshed into the rounded bottom edges of the bowl. I was very unhappy and when it came to applying the glaze, I decided to make it two-toned to try and salvage it.  I decided to go with a zen like theme and the bowl was dark, almost black on the outside and a speckly green/black on the inside. When it was fired, it was beautiful! I gave it to a friend of mine as a gift, but in hindsight I wish I hadn't.  She likes it and all, but doesn't understand and appreciate what happened with the bowl--- the epiphany, if you will.  I'd have that baby filled with gorgeous apples, flowers or nuts all the time! Oh well, live and learn.

I guess what I'm trying to convey here, and what's been more eloquently shared by others in the thread, is to let go and just do your art.  Don't worry about mistakes, or what others have told you is right or wrong.  If you need to, close your eyes and let your hand and fingers do the work your mind instructs them to do.  The rest will follow.
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: Bill St. Clair on January 04, 2008, 05:15:41 am
I remembered the name of the drawing book I mentioned: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (http://www.amazon.com/New-Drawing-Right-Side-Brain/dp/0007116454/)
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: RVM45 on January 04, 2008, 09:48:27 am
.....Luddite that I am, I've long held that computer art does have a place- for instance in highly life-like digital animations; or any work of Art that COULD NOT be done with traditional media.

.....I suppose, given my sheer lethargy *, that that would encompass any work of Art that I can't do; because my depresion makes me too lazy to dig out my Art supplies...


.....*Anyone remember those Pantyhose Commercials wherein they claimed  that their pantyhose would give you "Sheer Energy"? WTF!?! Did they have them dripping with liquid Amphetamines?

.....Anyway, I often sing my own counter-pose advertising ditty; extolling the virtues of "Sheer Lethargy"- though if I knew what article of clothing was responsible...


.....RVM45     :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: amagi on January 04, 2008, 06:40:47 pm
I have spent a lot of time lately tryijng to figure out why I do and do not want to perform.  I am a singer, and a pretty good one.  I spent many years at open mic nights and music circles trying to convince myself of that one and am now convinced.  Having got there, I don't go out and perform any more.  I occasionally go to a music circle at a local bar because I like the people involved.  But if someone who gets on my nerves shows up I usually leave.  I mostly skip my turn, and won't take one at all unless specifically invited. I am suddenly shy about doing well.  I am now embarrased to recieve the praise I worked so hard to earn. At the same time, I am hurt if I am passed over to sing at a wedding or funeral.  I still want the recognition. (I never offer)

I asked a performing friend what motivates him.  He answered without hesitation. "Kudos.  I just like the attention"  That made me feel a little better about myself but doesn't really speak to my problem.

Lately I have been thinking if I had an acompanist and a job I would be motivated.  I would have another pressure besides my own need to get me on stage.  Another musician depending on me and an audience expecting something.

I intend this spring to try out at a local semi-professional theatre. I saw a musical they did and it was on a par with the broadway version I saw on TV for quality of voice and acting. If I can get in there I will feel like I have done something worth while with my voice.
Which leads me to wonder why I feel like I need to do something with it.  I enjoy singing to myself.  I do it all the time.  But I want to create something beautiful and have others think it is beautiful.  I think if I were an artist I would feel the same way.

I observed in colledge something about writers.  They write.  All the time and with or without a specific goal.  I was prattling about the book I was going to write "someday".  My roommate had one almost complete.  In long hand, is several spiral bound notebooks.  I am not a writer.  I could be good at it but I have no passion.  I do have a passion for singing.  I studied it for 12 years of school. 
Superficially I can look at the music industry and I quale.  It looks damn near impossible to break into music, or to make any money at it.  There needs to be another motive.  What is mine?
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: RVM45 on January 05, 2008, 06:49:55 am
Amagi- You raise questions that only you can answer.

Cogitate about the following theory though- I call it: "Van Gogh's Sister-In-Law".

Van Gogh sold- depending on how you define the word "sold"- none; one; four; or five paintings. He never collected any money on any of them.

Van Gogh died. Shortly thereafter, his brother- and his biggest supporter- Theo died.

The only thing that Theo's widow had in great abundance, was Van Gogh originals. She lugged them to Art shows, all over Europe- and I suppose she seized every opporotunity to show them to lone indiviuals as well.

After fifteen or twenty years of this, Van Gogh started to sell. The old woman was a multi-millionaire- and still owned over half the world's Van Goghs when she died.

Now reason would suggest that there have been many Artists of equal or greater merit than Van Gogh, over the centuries. They toiled in obscurity; and today, no slightest trace of their work survives- simply because these unsung geniuses had no sister-in-law to hawk their wares after they were gone.

Many conclusions could be drawn from the Sister-In-Law rule.

This is one I like:

Concerns with Right and Wrong; Good or Eviil; or Sucess or Failure; are all the delusions of a sick mind. The wise man acts purely for the sake of action; with absolutely no regard for comsequences.

If your Art is not worth doing for it's own sake- well, that's the only reward you are ever assured of...

.....RVM45     :thumbsup: 















 
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: iloilo on January 05, 2008, 07:28:18 pm
Beautifully stated, RMV45
ff
Title: Re: Creativity and the All-Important Drawing Stroke
Post by: spatter on January 09, 2008, 08:17:02 pm
Claire,

Have you read "On Not Being Able to Paint" by Joanna Field (aka Marion Milner)? 

I noticed it on my husband's bookshelf a few weeks ago and grabbed it.  I haven't had a chance to read it through, but at first glance it appears to be worth reading.

It takes a little doing to find an affordable copy on amazon...here's the link - http://www.amazon.com/Not-Being-Able-Paint/dp/087477263X/ref=pd_sim_b_img_1

Published in 1957.  Forward by Anna Freud.   When the next snowstorm brings down my Dish TV, I'm going to read it...or maybe when I get tired of listening to the media analyze and analyze what happened in New Hampshire. 

Spatter