Saturday, December 07, 2019

Bucket

Everyone will see your creative expression differently. They will certainly see my work differently than I see it. We’ve all spent so much time developing into the people we are, and everything has influenced us along the way. We’re snowflakes... no two of us are alike. I see things differently than you do. There is nothing unusual about having an unusual thought.

Things happen in dreams that may not ever happen in real life, yet it is our mind, assimilating our experience into dream stories. In a similar way, painters and writers can make anything happen. We connect details to create something new. Those details come from what we have experienced, and that is not so unique.

You can build just about anything out of legos, but if you look close enough, you’ll see the blocks.

We use what we have in the bucket.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Molecule

I never know what will inspire my creative urges. I’m surprised now and then by details that may seem insignificant to someone else. They are triggers that open folders in my brain. I can’t predict them, but I respond to them.

At other times, I’m inspired by something overt, like another person’s painting, story or song.

Molecules in my spirit attract a molecule from yours, and they form a compound.

My creative juices are like saliva. They start when I am inspired. They begin to digest the thing... the idea... the connection, and I incorporate the inspiration into my vocabulary.

I meditate.


When I set myself apart from the flurry of daily activity, I understand myself better. I create in order to explain it to myself. If I paint it or write it, I can then share it. If I share it with you, you can share your response with me. Or you can create something that may contain a compound which contains a molecule of me.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Elusive

I live with an elusive creature. She is wise and ancient, beautiful like a panda or pallas cat. You probably wouldn’t see her if you came to my house. She waits. When everyone else is asleep, she comes looking for me. I give her whatever she demands. I’m happy to, for the honor of being her person. She is tiny. Frail, but round. She may have flowed from the brush of Chinese calligrapher. I am not sure. She speaks to me in a language I do not fully understand, but she is patient, and repeats herself until I comply.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Scrap book

I think anyone can expand their creativity and abilities by practicing. If you practice something, you will get better at it. Before the action, comes the desire or intent. It’s easy to say “I’m not creative” or “I can’t do that” and those become self fulfilling prophecies. A sense of urgency can fuel your creative practice. For me, the urgency comes from the limited time I have in this body, and the passion I have for capturing something in images or words... something that will express, in a unique way, what this experience... what this life means to me. Having said that, obviously my work reflects my personality or events in my life.

This can seem narcissistic, but I also have to remember that I am creating things to share in public. There Is a fine line between self expression and considering your audience.

30 years ago, I did a lot of self portraits. I tried to be deep and dark. Now I do very few pictures of myself, yet I see how everything I do is autobiographical.

No matter what I am doing in the course of my day life, I try to keep my physical and spiritual eyes open. I can be inspired by the most unassuming things. I try to notice things. We’re bombarded with detail. My mind clips the pages of collected material when I am quiet, and sometimes I am able to connect and distill something that resonates with me.

There are many creative people that I am inspired by. Musician and friend Cheralee Dillon, short story writer Ben Loory, podcaster Ian Chillag, my father and my grandfather. I’m inspired by children, and their willingness to try things.

That’s the advice I’d give anyone wanting to be more creative. Get in touch with your inner child. Don’t wait for a degree or a license. Don’t wait for anything. Just do the thing, and see what you discover.

You are enough already.


Peel off the layers of rules and expectations. You don’t need them anymore. The orange peel has done its job, and must be removed before you can enjoy the fruit inside.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Risk

I suppose there is some risk involved with creativity. I mean, people might not like what you produce. I should say people won’t like what you do. Some people will like it.

The thing that makes it a risk is your expectation.

Everybody has an opinion. To put your product out for public view, or public consumption, is to invite whatever opinion anyone has toward it.

If you cook food, there will be people who don’t like it. If you paint, there will be people who don’t like it. Maybe they don’t understand it. Maybe it doesn’t match their couch.

I don’t have a problem with that.

If you paint happy little trees and waterfalls, a lot of people will like it. Not everyone. If you paint something with a deeper message... something less happy... less tidy... fewer people will buy it.

If your goal is to sell as many as possible, there is a risk.

If your goal is to express something that you find deep inside, something that is important or therapeutic to you, then there is little risk.

While you are a unique person, your feelings are probably not that unique. Someone will have felt the same. Someone will understand.

Do I take risks? Only when I doubt myself.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Real life

My biggest inspiration comes from artists who aren’t afraid to express some of the darkness that life holds. Each one of us faces difficult, painful and sad experiences. These are the times that show us what the light looks like. You can’t know the difference if you don’t know both.

What I find beautiful, many see as shocking. The things I love are often offensive to my friends.

When someone expresses something raw... something honest, I find it refreshing and liberating. It frees me to do it, too.

You don’t need to cover your face with makeup, or to sit real still, smiling on cue for a portrait. You definitely do not need a filter to make your eyes bigger and smooth all the character out of your face.

The most beautiful photos show real life.


I was photographing a beautiful friend one day. I placed decomposing leaves over her eyes. They were so sheer and fragile, they were nearly invisible. She lay on autumn grass in a cemetery surrounded by maple trees.

She is an artist, and many people had photographed her before. She told me that day that most photographers looked to her for direction.

She let me wrap her in bedsheets and put leaves over her eyes.

She is one of my biggest inspirations.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The seed of creativity

I think we are all born with the seed of creativity. The potential. Just as with seeds, creative expression must be cultivated... tended, if it is to grow. Great songwriters probably didn’t start out by writing great songs. They wrote songs that they learned from.

So I believe creativity is both born into us, and also developed.

I knew at an early age that I liked drawing. Because I enjoyed doing it, I gained a certain facility with a pen. I saw other kids whose drawings I liked more than my own, and so I doubted my ability. There are many, many artists whose work I admire today. I’m inspired by them, and I learn from them. Their amazing gift does not detract from mine.

Growing up, I wanted to be an artist. I practiced shaping lines into forms. It was entertaining for others and myself, but it really meant very little to me. I didn’t keep any of the pictures.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized I could tell very personal stories through my art. These drawings and paintings got hidden under the bed or behind the couch. I was afraid they would reveal too much. Something vulnerable. And so they did. But rather than judge the real me, people gasped, not in disapproval, but because they were pleasantly surprised, even moved by what I had done.

That response was what I had wished for all the years I tried to please and surprise people.

It was not difficult to do. It was difficult to allow myself to do it.


I think that’s when I realized I had creative talent, and what a discovery that was!

Around that same time, I started mentoring high school students, and teaching art to kids who were homeschooled.

If a person has a proclivity for art, I hope they can realize its power earlier in life than I did.

I have often mused about how my life might have been different had I found my artistic voice before or while I attended art school.

My experiences in life have influenced my style and ability, without doubt. Everything I know has been absorbed through my senses. It is that storehouse of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures that give me anything to say at all... that, and the amalgamation of those memories into the story of me.