Monday, February 13, 2017

For Your Consideration While I Dawdle

Running out of room to toss the latest 7 inches of snow
I'm still on artistic hiatus of sorts, having run into time-sucking computer issues, more snow to shovel and other "that's life" sort of things. I'm really not in much hurry to get productive again, rather enjoying this time off to get long-nagging issues attended to and reading caught up on. Time moves forward though and POAC has sent out a schedule of upcoming exhibits that I can and should be a part of. They have reached a magic number of 100 artist members and want each of us to submit a new piece for a March exhibit. Yeah, I can do that, I really can. The yearly fiber exhibit has been moved from spring to fall so I have lots of leeway there. In between, ArtWalk, and several months to get my act together for that.

So while I am taking a break (and mentally mulling possible transformations of some of those snow-dyes into wall art), I can at least share some of the interesting (to me) things I've run across lately. Austin Kleon continues to be a great source, and this Tumblr post caught my eye since I have new sketchbooks awaiting and actually did recently start work in a fresh one: "I like the idea of starting new notebooks by stationing guardian spirits inside the front cover, to watch over things." Click on the preceding link to see an example. This may be a good idea, especially since I've often heard that first page of a new book creates a bit of a block. Once you do anything to it, then it's supposed to be easier to get on with your sketching or journaling.

How I recently started a new sketchbook

Austin also wrote an interesting bit on an often shared quotation of Goethe's: one ought every day at least to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” Follow this link to get the story of where Goethe got onto this bit of advice which Kleon thinks is "about appreciating, not creating, which is one reason why I like it so much — appreciating (input) is the first step towards creating (output), and too often today we emphasize output over input." 

He also gets into the common advice to work whether or not you are particularly inspired to, that inspiration often comes in the doing. Goethe did not agree with this, nor Marilynne Robinson:
"I write when something makes a strong claim on me. When I don’t feel like writing, I absolutely don’t feel like writing. I tried that work ethic thing a couple of times—I can’t say I exhausted its possibilities—but if there’s not something on my mind that I really want to write about, I tend to write something that I hate. And that depresses me." 
I like the honesty in that. And have days on both ends of the spectrum: didn't feel inspired and ended up with great results, didn't feel inspired and got nowhere but frustrated. (and an aside, I have read several of her books but until I looked her up in Wikipedia, I didn't realize she was born right here in Sandpoint, Idaho!) Austin wraps up with this that I can certainly agree with:

"Productivity and creativity often get confused — anybody who has done creative work knows that good ideas often come when one is least productive. Everybody does it differently: some writers need inspiration before they sit down, and some writers need to sit down for the inspiration.
What seems universally true is that we could all use a little song, a good poem, and a fine picture in our daily routine. (Speaking a few good words seems entirely optional.)"
Finally, someone who I've previously quoted on my blog has recently died, author and art critic John Berger. His book, About Looking, is one I've wanted to read. Upon his passing, several videos have appeared on youtube including a late 2016 BBC documentary exploring Berger's life and work. You can also find his 1972 4-part television series, Ways of Seeing, the scripts of which were adapted for the book of the same name, also on my reading list. You can find episode one here, with the rest in the sidebar. Because I know you don't have anything else to do, right? What's 3 hours of your time on a wintry day? :-)

Storm 3 brought snow followed by freezing rain



Living to work - working to live said...

Oh Sheila - gripped by insomnia ( the first bad night for some time) I watched the Berger documentary. I'm not familiar with John Berger but my goodness I am now!

Thank you so much for that link.

I love the 'game' with his daughter and the postcards. What a great way to 'look' at art.

I'm actually feeling quite overwhelmed, though I'm not sure that's the right word, by his intellect and perception. Don't you also feel that, though only a few decades ago, his world seems generations ago and completely out of our grasp? A pace and window on the world we have lost forever?

Or am I being too maudlin?

Anyway, I now feel inspired to "send you the colour red'.


The Inside Stori said...

As is typical…..your post is so informative and inspiring…….tx’s for sharing!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Hilary, I wasn't sure about adding the Berger links at the end, that perhaps the post was long enough. But now I think I was being subliminally pushed by your need for distraction during your insomnia attack. I'm inspired to send you the color blue...

My thought while watching this was to be reminded of what my college years were like. A bit isolated from the reality of survival that would come afterwards, and given this oasis in which to be "intellectual", spend countless hours in deep conversations, in reading deep tomes, being exposed to esoteric films, ideas, my naiveté stripped away bit by bit as my profs and the students from literally all over the world exposed me to new ideas, information, ways of considering things. There are people who get to continue to live life in this constant state of ruminating, lucky them if they can make a living at it as Berger appeared to do. Lucky anyone who gets to spend time with someone like Berger, intense, thoughtful, giving, driven without the outward signs of mania. He reminds me of some of my favorite profs. I think this does still exist in our weird world, but like Berger, I think many are inclined to find a more genial place to work and live out their lives. Not entirely sure I've made myself clear here.

I was particularly struck by the opening dealing with cataracts. I still vividly remember my mother's experience when she had hers removed and it mirrored what he described. She actually had one eye that she'd not been able to see anything but shadows out of since she was young. No one had figured out it was an early cataract until she was in her late sixties. The doctor said he would remove it but didn't promise she'd be able to see much out of it, just maybe more light around shapes. But when he took off the bandages, she said she could see his face perfectly and a whole new world opened up to her in addition to the brightening that all people having cataracts removed experience. I wish she could have seen Berger describing it, or lived long enough to read his book on it. She would have loved that.

Hoping you won't need anymore video links from me to get you through the night tonight. Sleep well and dream of seeing from inside things.

Living to work - working to live said...

I am so glad you sent me the Berger links. I haven't watched the second one yet. Saving that for another sleepless night!

But I am thinking we should definitely start sending each other colours!!! So, if I sent you red what sort of red? Hmm - that's got me thinking!!!

Michele Matucheski said...

Another thoughtful post on the creative life, and the work ethic behind it all--I've given up some of my Volunteer gigs recently, and an amazing thing has happened--I'm finding more time to think creatively, and to do the work again. Volunteering is important, too, giving time, being of service. That said, it's time for me to fill my own creative well again, and get back to working The Creative Life. Who-hooh!

Michele Matucheski said...

I forgot to mention--As a journal-maker, I love the idea of posting a creative sentry at the entrance! I often put a title there : Sweet Leaf Notebook and the year I started to fill it. Sometimes a quote to set the tone. But I never really thought of it as a gatekeeper. I love that idea!