Celebrating Creativity

Hi I'm Kadira Jennings, welcome to Unfolding Creativity, a portal to Abundance Through Creativity.

I am a creative artist celebrating and encouraging the creative in all of us.

My blog is a discussion, and creativity resource. Please take your time, look around and join the conversation if you would like to.
It is my passionate belief that we all have deep within us a creative genius just waiting for half a chance to get out no matter what field we work or play in.

''There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.''
Martha Graham

Secrets Of An Artists Studio
artists studio,artists_studio,kadira_jennings,studios

Good storage is also high on the list

Artists Studio Essentials

Artists studios, come in all shapes and sizes. There are however certain elements that make an artists studio much more enjoyable to work in and offer greater functionality. Three key items that are indispensable in a studio are: 

1. A decent easel
2. A Large mirror
3. A comfy chair, a lounge chair or a settee

Of course, there are many other things that contribute to making a studio not just functional, fun to be in. It is important to remember that your studio space contributes to how you feel when you’re painting and therefore can significantly influence how you work in that space. Creating is a complex process. We often create at our best when we are in a nurturing environment. If we have to hassle with the elements or feel uncomfortable with the surroundings this can create a barrier to the way we connect with our creative flow.
The fewer external distractions we have the more connected we care to our creative process.

Now you may think that my three indispensable items are not what you expected them to be.

A Decent Easel

For many years I made do with rickety easels. When I first came to Australia I painted out on a veranda, which was rather chilly in winter as there was no room in the house where we lived, to have my easel or a studio. We do these things because we have to and if you are motivated enough you will paint under all kinds of difficult situations. However, that doesn’t make them ideal.

 

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It was only last year that I bought my first easel that winds up and down with a handle. What bliss.  Expensive bliss, but bliss nevertheless. If I had realized sooner,  how much easier it makes my artist’s life, I would have saved up and bought one a long time ago.

A Comfy Chair

I have found over the years that having a comfy chair in my studio has become an indispensable item. At times, when I need to take a break from painting, I will sit in my comfy chair which is set up so that I can see the painting I’m working on, in my large mirror.

Comfy chair,artists studio

Comfy chair

A Large Mirror

This means that as I’m taking a break I can look at my work from a different point of view,  which is valuable because when you are working alone you need to be your own critic and discover your own mistakes. Sometimes a mirror is one of the only ways you can do this. I have found a mirror to be an indispensable tool in my studio practice as it offers me a different point of view about the painting. Not only am I viewing it from quite a distance away, but also I’m seeing a reversed image. I find that this allows me to see mistakes that I wouldn’t otherwise pick up.

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Large Mirror

The photo above shows the painting I’m working on, in the mirror.  It is taken from my comfy chair opposite the mirror. I have positioned the mirror so I can see my painting from a sitting position.  Sometimes this can be a bit tricky and will take a few goes to get it right.

 

 

Photo by christian.senger

3 Tips To Being A Successful Artist

The Love Birds

Success – Hannah bought this lovely painting recently

Being a successful artist is something we dream of. As part of my diving deeper program, I want to take a look at the ‘success’ word and what that means for artists.

Tip #1

My first tip relates to the concept of success itself. If you want to be successful you need to first define what success means for you. Here are some ideas.

  • Selling your work
  • Having your work shown in a commercial gallery
  • Taking part in a group exhibition
  • Being accepted into an art fair
  • Putting up a website
  • Being invited to be part of an artist Mastermind group
  • Taking a course in business management
  • Raising your skill level by attending classes
  • Having your work included in a magazine
  • Completing a piece that you are really happy with
Tip #2

Once you have decided what success is for you then you need to look towards what you need to do to reach that goal. Of course, you don’t have to choose only one thing. There are many elements to an art career. Also, I might add that my list is not definitive. There may be many other things that success is to you. I am merely giving you some ideas. It is for you to decide what success is for you. Where many emerging artists go wrong is that they think success is just about making money by selling their artworks. However, as you can see from the list there is a lot more to it than that. You may define being a successful artist, as being able to create all of your income from art related products.

It is a pretty big ask when you are starting out to expect your artwork to be able to support you. You will find that many of those that we would call successful artists, still have income from other sources happening. We all know what a fickle world the art world is and so it is advisable to have a Plan B.

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Taking part in a group exhibition

Tip #3

Tip number three, to being a successful artist, can probably be contained in the word perseverance.
It doesn’t matter how good your art is, at the end of the day, you won’t achieve any of the above-listed goals, without a healthy dose of perseverance.

Even learning to paint in the first place requires huge amounts of patience and stick-ability. It requires the capacity to try and fail, try and fail, and try and fail again and again.
That is only the beginning. Then you have to get your head around being an artpreneur. Many young artists begin with lofty visions of being ‘discovered’.

However,  not even 1% of aspiring artists would fall into this category. In fact, to begin having some success in selling your art, you need to become successful in selling yourself and your work. This means many hours spent networking, working social media, stalking galleries, attending openings, and cultivating collectors.

It means allowing more time to market your work than you spend painting.

Bonus Tip!!

The bonus success tip is – Appreciation.

What does that mean exactly? It means that every time you achieve one of those goals that tell you you’re successful, you need to physically appreciate yourself in some way. For example, the first painting I ever sold, I bought a gold ring with the money to always remind myself of that achievement.  I am still wearing the ring as I type this blog post.

It’s not good enough to just say to yourself I’ve done that one, tick, and on to the next thing. You might treat yourself to that special art material you’ve been wanting for a while, or take yourself on a really special artist date. If we do not mark our achievements, then we don’t notice that we’re making progress. This is why it is so important to figure out what success means to you because if you don’t know what that is, obviously you won’t know when you’ve achieved it. The other thing about having several small goals that you can feel successful on achieving is that you will attract success because you are already achieving it and developing a success mindset.

What is The Most Difficult Aspect Of Creating An Art Work?

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What is the most difficult aspect of creating an artwork? Well I guess that’s a question that is open to interpretation and the answer quite probably depends on what stage of your art career you are at. Sometimes it would seem that the most enjoyable part of creating an artwork can be the conceptual part. During this phase, there is an excitement, a yearning to explore the new and uncharted regions where you have not been before.
To some, however, this can be quite scary because it means leaving behind the tried and true and dipping your toe into perhaps, murky waters you have not ventured forth before.

I find this beginning phase of the work quite wonderful full. I love to play with ideas and images. It has been a part of my art practice for some years to put an image into Photoshop and really explore it, do all kinds of things to it, before I decide on how to paint it. I might create several layers of the same image and subtly alter the colour on each one give me a brand new image. The concept of layering itself is something that has always fascinated me in many, different ways. This is quite clear when you look at my body of work because through most of it,  you will find the concept of layering turning up in one form or another.

Painting Elements

I digress, however. To get back to the most difficult aspect of creating an artwork lets consider the different elements required to complete a painting.

  • Choosing the subject
  • Conceptualizing that subject
  • Gathering your materials
  • Deciding how you will do your underpainting if you do one
  • Doing the underpainting
  •  Deciding on what technique you are going to use for the work
  • Figuring out which part of the work to paint first
  • Painting the work
  • Assessing the work

Choosing A Subject

I think for me, yes over the years, I have found the most difficult aspect of creating an artwork is often, choosing a subject. Once you know what you want to paint and you have the skills necessary to do so the rest is all pretty enjoyable. It’s not that it’s a piece of cake however because no matter how long you’ve painted there is always going to be challenges within every work that you do.
One of the great artists once said, ‘the best painting you will ever do is your next one.’

I have found one thing that makes this aspect of the work easier is to work in a series of paintings about one subject. There are a couple of reasons why this makes choosing your subject easier. The first one, obviously is that you have some idea of what you will paint next because you already have the subject. The other advantage to painting in this way is that it is a method of developing your work to a deeper level. Each painting can evolve from the previous one. This is particularly valuable when you are working with abstracts. You can actually take a small area of a painting that has worked particularly well and blow it up into a bigger painting. 

You then take the best area of the second painting and in turn expand that into a bigger painting and so on. It is quite amazing where this journey can take you. There is a series painted by Georgia O’Keeffe which began with a shell, a leaf and a wooden roof shingle. After painting four or five images she ended up with a really stunning abstract work, which she couldn’t have arrived at without her working through the previous paintings. You can see the beginning and finished ones here.

 

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Shell, leaf and shingle, Georgia O’Keeffe – beginning work

 

Georgia describes, how she came to paint this, indicating that she too had trouble with inspiration at times.

“We were shingling the barn and the old shingles, taken off, were free to fly around. Absent-mindedly I picked up a loose one and carried it into the house and up to the table in my room. On the table was a white clam shell brought from Maine in the spring. I had been painting it and it still lay there. The white shape of the shell and the gray shape of the weathered shingle were beautiful against the pale gray leaf on the faintly pink-lined pattern of the wallpaper. Adding the shingle got me painting again.”

 

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Shell, leaf and shingle, Georgia O’Keeffe – final work

Conceptualizing The Subject

So if choosing a subject is difficult, conceptualizing it can be even harder. The two seem to go hand in hand and are really separate parts of the one thing. However, you can’t work with the concept of something until you actually have that something. So for example, relating to the series on refugees I painted last year, I had to come up with the idea in the first place of doing some works relating to the refugee situation. Once I had decided to work on that, it was then necessary to think about what angle I wanted to come from. There are so many different things I might have chosen from, I could have made the series about:

  • the impact on children
  • The trauma of leaving one’s country forever
  • The trauma of being in a war torn country and having to come to that decision of leaving one’s homeland
  • The hopes and dreams of someone who becomes a refugee
  • The political climate in this country, Australia, regarding refugees, which incidentally has an appalling refugee track record I’m saddened to say

And the above are only a few ideas about this topic. Interestingly enough what made me choose to work on this topic was a news bulletin I heard while visiting New Zealand, which related to how wonderfully a planeload of refugees was welcomed and treated in Dunedin. This contrasted so much with the way Australia treats refugees that I felt moved to paint about the subject. 

Then, of course, the challenge was to figure out how I wanted to put that into visual images. I found that inspiration from a highly unlikely place,  a photograph of the mist over some hot pools in Rotorua. The first painting I did of this was quite abstract but grew from there and then the series itself evolved from that. I found that I also wanted to make a comment in the series about the way in which people lose not only their birth place but so much of their culture as well. We often find that the aggressors in wars will try to completely obliterate the cultural heritage of the country they are invading. This has been happening in Syria, with places like Palmyra being vandalized and priceless artifacts and art works being destroyed. Some of the paintings in my series addressed this issue.

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From Palmyra to a New Land

In conclusion, I would suggest that we have so far only examined the tip of the iceberg and regard to what might be considered the most difficult aspect of creating an artwork. I will continue this discussion in a further blog post.

 

Pix Credit: ElisaRiva

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How do I deepen my creative practice?

This is a question relevant to many artistic disciplines. It does not matter what line of creativity you happen to be pursuing, there will be some point in your journey, where you decide that you want to dive deeper. Of course, this will look different depending on how far along that path you are.

What does diving deeper look like?

It might look like any one of the following things –

  • Plucking up the courage to go and take a class – i.e. pottery, painting, or sculpture.
  • Enrolling in a semester of life drawing classes to up skill in your figure drawing
  • Studying some technical aspect of your medium
  • Making art journaling part of your daily creative practice
  • Taking time to really think about what your creative practice means to you
  • Working with a mentor to help you gain insights into things that are difficult to see for yourself
  • Joining a creative Mastermind group or creating one of your own

There are so many aspects to one’s creative practice that can be delved into in more detail. One of the areas that I would like to explore with you is the ways you can tap into your greater creative potential and look at ‘how can I deepen my creative practice?’

deepen my creative practice,meditation,kadira_jennings
Creative Practice – What Is It?

In order to talk about deepening your creative practice, we need to begin with the concept of what it actually is.  Why do we call it a Creative Practice?  What does that really mean?

Unless we understand the nature of a thing, it is impossible to try to think about changing it in some way. If we fail to understand the inherent qualities in that thing, in this case, our Creative Practice, any changes we might make, can often be counterproductive, because we are not looking at the big picture. That is why we must begin with a discussion on the nature of creative practice in order to go deeper into its meaning in our creative life.

Before going further, I would refer you to two earlier posts on this subject for an overview of the topic. These discussions are about the surface levels of Creative Practice.

Creative Practice Part I

Creative Practice Part II

The distinction I want to pursue in this post is a discussion of how we can tap into our own creative depths and why that is important. The term Creative Practice, itself suggests that it is an ongoing process, which indeed it is. When we practice something we keep refining and readjusting it, looking to make it the best that we can. 

In the pursuit of artistic excellence, therefore, we engage in a practice which calls to something deeper within us. It is not only concerned with practicing and perfecting techniques.  This may occur in the beginning, however, as we move past that stage, we find ourselves drawn to creating something meaningful to us and possibly others as well.

In order to understand how to deepen our Creative Practice, I will be offering you over the course of this series, some suggestions.

What are some techniques we can use to achieve this?

Our Beginnings

To know clearly where we are now, it is often necessary to look backward. If we have an understanding of the journey that has brought us to the point we are currently standing, we will have a great deal more insight than we might otherwise have had.
This, therefore, brings me to the first technique, which can be a rich mine of information to support your Creative Practice.

Exercise 1
The Timeline
  1. I would like you to take a piece of A4 paper, turn it sideways and rule two lines on it, one of them at the top and one just over halfway down it.
  2.  At the beginning of the top line I want you to write Birth and at the end of the second, I want you to write your current age.
  3. Now, think back through your life to the major events that have occurred. The first one on your line – after your birth, should be your earliest memory.
    Apart from major life events the other things you might consider putting on this timeline, are moments that have really stood out for you for some reason.
  4. Do you have any memories that are like beautiful jewels? For example, one that springs to mind in my own life was not a major event, and yet I can still see the image so clearly in my mind’s eye. This took place when I was about eight. We lived in Blenheim in New Zealand at the time. One Sunday morning as we were driving to church, I remember looking out the back window of the car and seeing the moon sitting on the mountains in the distance. It looked absolutely enormous as it nestled in the sky, glowing pink with the sunrise. The beauty of that immense, luminous moon, resting on top of the snow-capped mountains has always stayed with me. This experience was I think, one of my first awakenings to the immensity and beauty of the natural environment.
  5. Below, I have shared my timeline with you. As you can see there are challenging times on it.  These events have definitely influenced how my life has unfolded, and the way my creative practice has grown out of my dealing with those events. There are in all of our lives moments that may have been incredibly challenging and how we have dealt with those moments has defined who we were and how we moved forward from there.
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      My Timeline

If we think about our lives as a series of moments, when we look at these moments on our timeline, we find that some have gained much more significance than others, within the landscape of our lives. It is these significant moments that can offer a Treasure House of things for us to base our creative practice around, for they contain an essence of who we were – and offer us the ability to question if we are still that person and how we might feel about that.

 

Empty Vessel Beautiful Place

When I look at my timeline and think about my body of work, I can see a correlation between my emotional states and the works I’ve produced at different points along this timeline. I also see that there are some areas that I have created series of paintings around. For example the paintings I did dealing with the death of my father. Empty Vessel Beautiful Place  – is one of the works from that series. Another important series within my body of work was done in 2014 when I was experiencing a huge gulf in my creative practice and working through a period which I called my ‘ dark night of the Soul.’ The work below is from this period.

Dancing In The Dark, Kadira Jennings

Dancing In The Dark -Oils on Canvas

It is interesting for me to also see that there are some areas of my early life that I have not dealt with in my artwork and I am wondering what I have missed. What is there that is unique within my experience that can be gifted to the world?

Furthermore, I would suggest that if we look at the timeline as a whole, we will see patterns begin to emerge. Patterns which speak to us of the joys and challenges we have experienced. On looking more closely we can often see repeating patterns. It is these repeating patterns that offer clarity, wisdom, and insights into how we might proceed forward with a greater level of understanding in the future.

If you wish to learn more about how to deepen your creative practice, this is the first in a series I plan to post, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Pix: realworkhard

Photo by erix!

 

 artists biggest fear,kadira_jennings

Are you the Eagle or the Little Guy?

An artist’s biggest fear, what do you think it is? Of course there are many different fears that an artist or a creative person might have, however, I think the magnitude of them depends on whether the artist is a hobby artist or a professional artist. The challenges that are presented to a professional artist, of course, are a lot different to the hobby artist, although I can see how some might overlap.

Let’s take a look at some of the fears that lurk beneath the surface.

  • Failing as a creator – a biggie.
  • Not being able to support one’s self financially – an even bigger biggie!
  • Fear of the competition
  • I’m not enough or not good enough.
  • I won’t be able to sell my work
  • No one will like what I paint
  • I won’t be able to find a gallery to accept me
  • I can’t become an artist – people will think I’m weird and different
  • I will have to dress weird
  • People will tell me to get a ‘real job’
  • I can’t afford the art materials
  • How will I find a good teacher?

There are probably a great many more than these but they are some of the more common ones that spring to mind.  I think I’ve thought every one of them at some point in my art career. However, obviously, some of them are much more gut-wrenching than others.

I would say that the financial problem is probably the biggest fear that budding artists face. It is no easy task to become a professional artist where your sole income is earned from your paintings. One of my mentors, It was pointed out to me, that this attitude is, in fact, a very unfair one to burden your fledgling paintings with.

What Would The Ideal Situation Be?

Therefore, in the beginning, most of us need to have an independent source of income, which in fact will fund the launching of our art careers. Now the ideal situation is, of course, to have that funding come from a source that is Allied to the Arts sector in some way. In my case, I have built a reasonably sized art school and my income from this funds my lifestyle and the development of my professional art career.

Now the ideal situation is, of course, to have that funding come from a source that is allied to the Arts sector in some way.  In my case, I have built an art school into a viable income stream, and my income from this funds my lifestyle and the development of my professional art career.  I am lucky in that this is aligned with what I like to do. I don’t have to go out and scrub floors, do ironing or something awful like that. Not only that, but I have found over the years that teaching is very good for maintaining your technical art skills and keeping your eye and hand in practice for your own artwork.

In the future, I will expand on the ideas in this post in more depth.

 

Pix Credits: bwj727

http://www.sharkattackdata.com/assets/images/Sharks-1920-1200.jpg

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If you could do any Job In The World, What Would It Be?

If you could do – Any Job – at all, you say. Well let me see, I actually quite like the job I have now. Gracie, my granddaughter brought this subject up the other day.  We were at the dinner table when she asked John and me how many jobs we’ve had. So I began making a list  – and the more I thought about it the more surprised I was. – Here is the list from the time I was 11. Some were paid, some were not. I never realized until I made this list, how many skills I’ve acquired as I’ve gone through life.

1. A paper round

2. Picking strawberries

3. Working for a clothing shop like Lowes – called Williams outfitters. ( I was about 15 and got sacked because I wore my hair in  a beehive to work one day!)

4. Picking apples – a uni holiday job – that came with its own set of perils in the form of an overly amorous owner who had a wife and 6 kids, but thought I might like a dalliance with him – NOT!

5. Working on a bulb farm that sold daffodils and jonquils –  another uni holiday job

6. Working in an electrical components factory ( the most boring job on earth, winding wire around  little plastic coils all day long) – yet another uni holiday job

7. Running a small private school in New Zealand

8. Working in the office of the Poultry Men’s Coop.

9. Office work at Heards Sweet factory in Parnell which is now a bunch of fancy warehouse apartments.

10. Home Schooling my kids

11. Running a business doing painted finishes and wall murals

12. Partner in a luxury fabric, dying and printing business after the style of Fortuny.

Luxury fabric

13. Liming floors  – you know that trendy look of milky white floors. – A back-breaking job if ever there was one

14. Staining floors

15. Making Jewellery – several different incarnations of this  took place over time, – liquid silver necklaces – back in the 80’s, silver smithing, cast resin – hand painted jewellery, Fimo jewellery — made like Venetian glass and then when we came to Australia, Australiana animals, and birds, as well as full on flower creations i.e.  roses, fuschias etc.

16. Creativity coach

17. Published poet

18. And last but not least, winding through much of the above – being an artist and art teacher.

I would have to say that I feel very blessed to have ended up doing a job that is so connected to my passion – creativity and helping others to grow that passion in their own lives. So I’m not sure that if I could choose any job in the world, that I would choose any job other than the one I have now.

This Weeks Question: So I ask you againIf you could do any Job In The World, What Would It Be?

Look For Next Week’s PostAn artist’s biggest fear, what do you think it is?

Photo by allspice1

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