Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing and the Creative Life

This is a repost from 2017.  I have been traveling and have not had the time to create fresh content.  This essay of Gilbert’s is timeless no matter if you are a writer, artist, or musician.  I reread it from time to time just to give myself a reality check!

elizabeth-gilbert2I’m a huge fan of Elizabeth Gilbert.  She became instantly famous with her novel, Eat, Pray, Love but many readers don’t realize that she was a writer way before that and has published other noteworthy books.  She writes a lot about creativity.  If you haven’t read her book “Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear” it’s a great read on the subject.  Also, she has a riveting TED Talk that is well worth a watch.

A friend forwarded this essay of hers on writing.  I enjoyed this so much and thought I’d share.  You could substitute the words creative, artist, or musician for the word writer and it would still apply.

Thoughts on Writing

(https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/thoughts-on-writing/)

Sometimes people ask me for help or suggestions about how to write, or how to get published. Keeping in mind that this is all very ephemeral and personal, I will try to explain here everything that I believe about writing. I hope it is useful. It’s all I know.

I believe that – if you are serious about a life of writing, or indeed about any creative form of expression – that you should take on this work like a holy calling. I became a writer the way other people become monks or nuns. I made a vow to writing, very young. I became Bride-of-Writing. I was writing’s most devotional handmaiden. I built my entire life around writing. I didn’t know how else to do this. I didn’t know anyone who had ever become a writer. I had no, as they say, connections. I had no clues. I just began.

Continue reading “Elizabeth Gilbert on Writing and the Creative Life”

Art Meets Fashion in Juneau, Alaska

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2020 Photo Juneau Daily Empire

I just returned from a week’s visit to Juneau, Alaska. Juneau was one of my residences as a young person as I explored the far North in the late 1970s and early 80s.  Besides visiting friends and seeking better snow for XC skiing than Oregon had to offer, on this itinerary was attending the 20th annual Juneau Wearable Arts Show.  This was my second time for this event after about a 10-year hiatus. The show is put on by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and all proceeds go to their organization.

This is an extravaganza where a majority of the attendees dress to the nines to enjoy the show in a hall equally dressed up.  There is dazzling lighting, a long curving runway, and img_3380several large monitors placed where you could be sure to have a good view.  The professional emcees also wildly decked out.  This year they had a local drag queen star and a well known local actor running the show.

Juneau is a relatively small town remotely tucked away in the seclusion of Southeastern Alaska’s majestic landscape with the only access being by boat or air.  Still, residents value the arts and know how to come together for a really good time.  The entries are from local artists who strive to use recycled and/or unique materials to assemble the garments to match the year’s theme.

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2017 entrant that was removed- SAD! Photo by Juneau Daily Empire

 

This year’s theme was Joie de Vivre (French for “Joy of Life”).  Unfortunately, the show was smaller than in years past.  Artists have boycotted after an entrant in the 2017 event was accused by a local citizen of cultural appropriation for her geisha themed garment (really???) She was then pulled from the next performance. Still, aside from the politics, I enjoyed the night with all the flair and people watching. I appreciated the fact many of these artists take the better part of a year to fashion their pieces.

Continue reading “Art Meets Fashion in Juneau, Alaska”

Dealing with Your Inner Critic

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If you are any type of creative person you probably have a cheerleader on one shoulder and your inner critic on the other.  My muse is my cheerleader, that voice that feeds me sparky ideas and inspiration.  My muse is the positive force in my life.  My inner critic, in contrast, argues with my muse.  She likes to shout words of discouragement and fear in my ear to the point I quiver with self-doubt.  Unfortunately, she’s an annoying fact of my life.

I have come up with strategies to deal with this bitchy pest that tries to drown out the voice of my sweet muse.  One of them was to give her a name and draw a picture of what she looks like….

Helga, my IC, is an ample pickle-shaped-figure with spiny whiskers protruding all over her grotesque, gelatinous body.  She has a high whiney voice resembling the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard.  The only facial expression she has is a grimacing frown of disapproval.

Daphne, my muse is a sprite of a being that emits light from her colorful body.  She dances with joy and speaks to me in cheerful songs of encouragement. Her voice is softer than Helga’s and can be easily drowned out.

I’ve become more adept at isolating those two voices by putting an identity to each.  When Helga gets too annoying I visualize swiping her off my shoulder with a THWACK and then dropkicking her out the door. (So satisfying).

Inner critics tend to love periods of creative inactivity.  The best way to keep the beast off your shoulder is to diligently keep up your work on a daily basis in some form.

To those of you that suffer from dealing with your inner critic, I hope my strategies can be of help.

Best of luck!

 

MUSE

Come out & play with me

you my best of friends

I am happiest when we hold hands

& dance our secret dance.

Whisper in my ear

& fill my head until it is overflowing

with sparks & flowers

of inspiration.

Let’s bring forth from the cauldron of the ethos

a new incarnation of matter & thought

an offering of our magic

to the altar of the earth.

The Art of Learning Art Online

IMG_3245As a creative soul, it’s important to me to keep a fresh flow of ideas and perspectives entering my psyche so I can continue to grow.  Taking classes is a wonderful way to do so.  In recent years I’ve turned to more to online classes.  Though I appreciate the human component in an actual class, in an online class I don’t have to commute and carve out a substantial chunk of my day to attend one session.  I also have access to the video content so I can watch the lesson over and over again.  In terms of engaging with other students, there has always been a dedicated Facebook page to post and comment on other students’ work.

As I am a non-traditional artist not wedded to just painting and drawing I find there is more of an eclectic selection of classes offered online.  In the past, I have taken Make Monotypes” (Gelli Printing) with Linda Germaine, “A Year of Painting” with Alena Hennessy, & currently, “Words & Pictures” produced by Carla Sondheim and friends.  All these classes have been top-notch and reasonably priced.  I made the mistake with “A Year of Painting” of not researching the artist’s style thoroughly. Though it was well taught ultimately the content was not for me.IMG-3253

If you are interested in taking an art class online, just Google online art classes in your specific media and then do some online research on the reviews as well as the artist’s work.  Instagram is a good one for that.  Also, consider MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) which are FREE.

I am having loads of fun at the moment with “Words and Pictures.”  This class is currently getting me out of my comfort zone to explore lots of great ideas.  A friend of mine signed up for the class as well which makes it even better. The current lessons are being taught by the infamous Martha Rich.  We are quick sketching life around us and the conversations we hear (including internally).  I have my first ones with this post.

Never taken an art class before?  Go online.  There is nobody to be self -conscious around but yourself!

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The Art of Creative Problem Solving

Somewhere overr the rainbowThere are times you will find yourself mired in a quandary. Sometimes the solution becomes clear in a relatively short amount of time and in others it takes a while to get clarity.  Making art is a great metaphor for life in this regard.

I’ve had two art pieces that were finished – but not.  Some things were missing and I did not know what.  So I let them sit for weeks revisiting them from time to time.  I had to let the questions percolate within me for months and be patient.  Recently, I finished both pieces.  All that mulling worked out in the long run.

Somewhere over the Rainbow draft
First draft- can’t find the second!

 

The collage (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) piece pictured was mounted on a cradled (dimensional) board.  Over the weeks I added more marks and contrast but it still wasn’t enough.  I finally came to the realization that it needed a more definite frame around it. Thus I purchased a bigger cradled board, flipped it around, painted it a deep plum, and then mounted the collage board within it.  Voila- closure!

Sprit mask draftThe ceramic mask was the same way as I tried bits of this and that over weeks.  In the end, I replaced the headdress of wheat with two lovely feathers, mounted a piece of an old earring on the forehead, and then glued brass nails around the neck area.  That last step made the formerly boring piece really shine.

In both cases, it took me about three months to get resolution.  The muse can be slow.  Rushing won’t work. I do this same process with my writing.  Put it away and let it stew for a while.  There is nothing like having fresh eyes when looking upon a problem.

Solutions will come. Sometimes you just have to slow down and be patient!Sprit mask final

3rd Blogaversary

why-i-started-to-writeThree years ago I started this blog to promote my artwork because that’s what “everybody” said you should do. (See “I was supposed to be Blogging About my Artwork”) I had no idea how to start a blog, nor post, and what do I write about??  I started anyway and when I got a “Like” and a “follow” on my first post I was stunned that someone actually enjoyed what I wrote!

Three years in writing a blog post is a weekly ritual.  In the process, I’ve developed a love of writing and have gotten several pieces published along the way.  It’s become a meditation of sorts, thinking about what’s been important to me in the week to share. The practice of blogging keeps me grounded.  Some posts are better than others.  Showing up is the important part. Originally I thought it would be more of a show and tell of my visual art process. My intuition told me to do otherwise and as a result, my artwork has taken a more back seat.  This really is just a blog about me on the creative journey we call life.

Then there’s the takeaway from reading the blogs of others.  I’ve gained a lot of perspectives just from reading about the experience of fellow bloggers and commenting on their posts.

Putting up this blog was a creative risk. Every time I post is a creative risk.  But it’s with those risks we take we grow so much! Ultimately the most important thing is that my personal expression satisfies myself.  I still don’t know exactly what I am doing but that is what makes it such an adventure.  If you have been toying with the idea of starting your own blog, just do it.  There are so many tutorials right on WordPress to help you on your way.

Soon to come this year is a second blog dedicated to tips on sustainable living.  Also, I will be including some of my artwork on the bottom of posts just in case anyone is interested. Stay tuned….

Tea Time
“Tea Time” Ink, watercolor, & colored pencil

 

A Road Map for the New Year 2020

“There is more to life than increasing its speed” Mahatma Gandhi

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artwork by the author

One of my intentions for the New Year is to manage my time more effectively.  As a creative type, I am constantly let astray by shiny distractions – a crow woman of sorts. I found two books that are very helpful on the subject.

41btviico9l._sx329_bo1204203200_“Make Time” by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky gives clear strategies to simplify and prioritize your day in a way that will give your life less stress and more meaning.  The two authors are self-described “time dorks.” They were so overstressed in their high tech world that they developed simple techniques to really focus on what matters by doing less.  Besides providing you with a simple daily template this book is chalked full of strategies to help you deal with digital distractions, tips to eat and sleep more effectively, and even how to get the most out of your caffeine habit!

Then there is “Manage your Day to Day: Build Your Routine , Find Your Focus, & Sharpen 51gpnuhi4-lYour Creative Mind” published by 99U.  This compact little book is geared more to the creative than Make Time.  There is also some overlap.  Each chapter is written by a different person in creative fields about building a successful creative routine.  The chapters are short, there’s a lot of quotes(I love quotes) and you can open anywhere in the book for a little pick-me-up.

Check these out.  Best wishes for a creative New Year!

 

“If you want to create something worthwhile in your life, you need to draw a line between the world’s demands and your own ambitions” Mark McGuinness

 

 

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