Previous month:
July 2008
Next month:
September 2008

August 2008

Where does your courage live?

When we are encouraged, we are "en" - as in "to be in the place, condition, or state of" - courage.

When we are discouraged, we are "dis" -- as in "apart from" or "showing disrespect for" or "reversed from" -- courage.

Knowing where your courage resides could help when you're feeling "dissed."  Just go knock on the door of that inner place.  Realizing how easily you can move from separation to connection should make life easier.  If not happier. Just step through the door.

I found this interesting quote about crouage in The Artist's Mentor, edited by Ian Jackman, and published by Random House Reference.  It's by sculptor Anne Truitt, and only part of a much longer segment.

"Artists have a modicum of control  Their development is open-ended.  As the pressure of their work demands more and more of them, they can stretch to meet it.  They can be open to themselves, and as brave as they can be to see who they are, what their work is teaching them.  This is never easy. Every step forward is a new clearing through a thicket of reluctance and habit and natural indolence.  All the while they are at the mercy of events (pp 209-210)."

Once we understand that we can choose to be "with" our center of courage, outside critics lose some of their sting.  Realizing, too, that a gem of information can be found in any rejection, allows us to step forward from our courageous center. 

As for me, I've found Courage to be a great friend of Slump, although they'd never admit it.  Slump likes to cover for Courage when he (or she) takes a vacation and lives it up on the beach in Mexico.  Not that I'm ignorant of their conspiracy.

I just wish Courage would take me along next time. 

So where does your courage live?

You Either Know...Or You Aren't

I want to share a personal story with you.  Over the past few months I have been fortunate in the validations coming my way.  Some artistic accomplishments were easy to accept.  Others seemed so beyond me that I took to saying things like "I can't believe it" or "They must have made a mistake."

Those of you familiar with the concept that what we focus our attention on is usually what we get already know where this story is going.

As it happens, a good friend of mine, and her husband, are a writer/photographer team, interested in writing a human interest story about an artist who gets a wild inspiration after she turns 50, and the failures and successes she's encountered.  And as this friend is researching my recent acceptance into an influential national arts association, she receives conflicting information.

The first bit of information confirmed that, yes, I was the only artist in the state of Oregon accepted, with only 50 artists in the United States accepted this year into the organization made up of 850 artists.

This was followed a few days later with an email stating that I was not currently an active member.

Of course it turned out that the confusion revolved around my name.  My friend knows me as Sue Smith while the organization uses my full professional name.

But while I was awaiting the confirmation that I was, yes, an accepted member, I realized the universe had just given me an important lesson.

It isn't the outside validations that make you an artist.  

What someone says in New York, or across your dinner table, does not determine your destiny.  I was not, one minute an artist, the next, a not-artist. I am an artist because, deep down inside, with all the conviction in my heart, I know I am an artist. 

And this was my lesson from the Universe: you either know you're an artist...or you aren't.

The Demanding Muse



DSC02730 copy Daily drawing from the atelier perspective

I've blogged about Juliette Aristides' books, Classical Drawing Atelier and Classical Painting Atelier in previous posts. Those of you familiar with the atelier approach know that it demands much of the aspiring artist in the form of constant repetition, drawings built upon drawings before one even contemplates beginning a series of painting "studies" that eventually lead to a masterpiece painting.   

There are no shortcuts. 

Ian Roberts, in his book Creative Authenticity, also reminds artists about drawing compositions every day.  In fact he  writes that in order to find an authentic relationship with the work you choose to do, you must practice your craft every day.

The muse is demanding.

Not every Ancient Artist is retired...and  no matter how many vitamins you take you may not have as much energy as before - these are speed bumps, but don't let them stop you.  The smart artist develops strategies.

My newest strategy is to carry the minimum of supplies with me and then use my lunch half-hour to draw the day's "assignment."  Having only 30 minutes demands concentration and quick judgments.  I can't worry a drawing to death.  I get an idea and go with it, good or bad.  What I've discovered is that I can trust my initial instincts more than I thought, and I stop before the essence of the subject is lost beneath the weight of too much detail.

Another strategy has been in the evening.  Previously, when my husband went to bed early (he gets up very early, too) I would watch television aimlessly just for the noise to fill the evening.  But now I turn the station to one of the music channels and spend another hour or so drawing.  I've discovered that this relaxes me so I actually sleep better, too.  Perhaps guilt free?

How do you satisfy your demanding muse?  Have you developed strategies?

" I sometimes think there is nothing so delightful as drawing" - Vincent Van Gogh

"{Artists} have their ups and downs...for a while everything you do is wonderful or you think it is, then you slide down...pulling yourself up again is the most important part of your life." - Milton Resnick

image @ Sue Favinger Smith 2008

Why Artists Should Collect Art

On the wall: Where In This World @ Sue Favinger Smith  Oil on Panel
On the desk: Where Did Simpkins Go @Cary Latham Weigand, original porcelain

Do you collect art?  Other artists' art?

I know, most artists have walls covered with their own work.  If you're like me, there's stuff in the closet, the garage, even the guest bathroom.

But I've always felt a residual creative energy attached to artwork, and not only do I want to send that energy out into the world with my own pieces,  I want to bring the energy from other artists into my home environment.

What I Collect:

I have utilitarian but beautiful pottery vase serving as my brush holder, instead of mason jar. 

I have a Membres replica pottery bowl, plus an original pottery vessel from Guatemala, forming part of a collection that includes pieces my daughter made in school.

On my wall I have an original pastel by Marla Baggetta, and my most recent acquisition is a fabulous porcelain sculpture by Cary Latham Weigand.


Where did Simpkins Go @ Cary Latham Weigand

Here's the story:

I first saw this sculpture when it came in to the gallery for the "Where Rivers Meet" show.  The work was delivered well in advance of the show, and every day I would find it in the storage area and lust after this soon as the show opened I called in and purchased it.

Cary's work speaks to me on so many levels - the beauty of the porcelain surfaces, the mythological character of her figures, the expressions on the, I see elements that motivate my own work, but they're interpreted differently in Cary's work.  I can feel the shared, positive creative energy every time I look at this -- or any of my other pieces. 

How about you? 

Who do you collect and why?

And if you don't collect, why not?