How To Dive Deeper Into Exciting Creative Revelations

Preliminary drawings,banksia,arthur _leslie_dow,georgia_okeeffe,kadira_jennings

Preliminary drawings

The subject of diving deeper seems to be coming up a bit lately. Last week I spoke of it about the concept of the muse and this week I would like to pursue that subject a little further and night of what I am currently doing in my own art practice.

Recently a girlfriend and I were to talking together and we decided that we would like to begin a collaborative project to dive deeper into our own art practices. This collaboration centres around using the artist Georgia O’Keeffe as our Muse for the project. 

We began by having a discussion on what appealed to us about Georgia O’Keeffe. We spoke about our vision for what we wanted to create. We decided the first thing we needed to do was study Georgia’s methodology in more detail. We asked questions like, how did she arrive at her final images? What were her influences? Why did she decide to create in the way that she did?

Questions are always a good place to start. I began my exploration by reading several books on her life and her art practice. From this in-depth study, I have concluded that like everyone, Georgia had major turning points in her life. One of these occurred after she had spent much time drawing and painting in the traditional manner and was then exposed to the teaching of Arthur Leslie Dow.

Dow believed in what came to be known as the Modernist principle – that the subject of the artists’ work should be their personal ideas and feelings. His solid background in Zen Buddhism influenced his teaching and he developed a new way of teaching art. This is why he taught his students to learn to see a subject in a completely different way, encouraging them to visualize effectively through the harmonious arrangement of line, colour, and NOTAN (the Japanese system of arranging lights and darks).

 

Arthur Dow concepts

Arthur Dow concepts

I bought Arthur Dow’s book and I am currently studying it and working on some of his exercises, following in Georgia’s footsteps. The link is below if you are interested in purchasing it.

 

 

He taught his students to above all appreciate the elegance of design that was based on nature but never replicate it.

When asked about the strongest influence on her work O’Keeffe replied,

“Some people say nature, but the way you see nature depends on whatever has influenced your way of seeing. I think it was Arthur W. Dow.”

He became her most influential teacher and a strong mentor.  This had a very large influence on her art practice, to the point where she destroyed all of her previous art work and began again from scratch.

 O’Keeffe wanted to avoid replicating what she saw and chose instead to uncover the true Essence of a subject from nature itself. This is a view that is closely linked to what is at the heart of Zen Buddhism, of realising one’s place in nature.

Georgia herself said, ” Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.”

Other influences came from Symbolism and Romanticism. The romantic movement took artists from the academic structure followed in the past and allowed them to seek out and follow feeling and emotion above reason. The Symbolists also were searching for a deepening of the spirit and emotions and not just a representation of nature.

Like many of the modernists, O’Keeffe spent her life trying to paint the emotional truth—not the hills above Ghost Ranch but how it felt to look at the hills; or how a flower made her feel. In order to do this, she pared back and pared back the detail, all the while looking for the essence of colour, line and form to find that kernel she was looking for.

So why am I telling you all this?  Because all this information relates to how we are going about working on the images for this exhibition, Paring back, and searching for that intrinsic beauty in the subjects we are choosing.

 

This Weeks Question: What would it take for you to dive deeper on your own creative journey?

Look For Next Week’s Post: Continuing the unfolding of this journey.

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.

 

artists easel,artists studio

 

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.

Large Mirror,artists_studio,kadira_jennings

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

Ramping Up To May Exhibition

There have been a few paintings coming off the easel this month, as I geared up for the May Exhibition which is only a week away.

may_exhibition,art coop gallery,kadira jennings

 

So here is an invite to the exhibition.  As you can see the opening is on Sat 6th May from 2-4 pm. We would love to see you there.  There will be quite a variety of different styles on display.

‘Nature’s Expression’ is a collaborative exhibition from the artists of the Central Coast artists mastermind group. This group has over 150 years of combined professional practice!
The group comprises four visual artists from diverse backgrounds, practices, and media. Meeting every three weeks, the group collaborate, challenge, brainstorm and support each other’s creative practices and direction using the Mastermind concept originally established by Napoleon Hill 1920’s. Commitment and accountability act as catalysts to encourage each member to work through challenges and overcome blocks to achieve their creative and professional goals. But more than this, the power of the mastermind is the power of the group dynamic toward personal creative growth. It’s about ‘plugging into’ a group energy which allows for exciting new insights, ideas and creative work to emerge.
Using a combination of contemporary and traditional art practices,
the group expresses their shared passion for the natural world via the media of photography, digital art, mixed media, oils, acrylics, inks, and printmaking. ‘Nature’s Expression’ is a lush collaborative interpretation and response to the elements of nature that surround us and to our relationship with the natural world. It is also the unfolding of what compels each of us individually, as women and as artists, to express our experience of the natural world. An emphasis will be the close connection each of the group has with landscape, land, light, water and memory.
The artists are:  
                                                  Kadira Jennings
                                                  Julie McDonald
                                                  Kate Landsberry
                                                  Lisa McArthur-Edwards

Beginning A New Painting – A review of this month’ s work in the studio

Well what is exciting about beginning a new painting? I think that perhaps the most exciting thing about it is the potential. A famous Artist once said that the greatest painting you will ever do is your next one. So that’s pretty exciting really, because it means whenever you start a new painting you have the possibility of it being better than  the last one. Not only that it might be best one that you will ever do.

Matheson Bay, beginning a painting,NZ seascape

Detail of Matheson Bay painting

 

So I’ve had a few exciting moments over the last month or so, with four new opportunities for beginning a new painting. Of these, three are now completed works and another one is on the way.  The subject matter is one of my favourite subjects to paint – New Zealand.  I haven’t done any landscapes for a while, so it makes a nice change to do something like these works.

The inspiration for some of the paintings comes from my trip to New Zealand around this time last year.
Also a friend kindly allowed me to use one of her photos as source material.
Although I have painted many landscapes I haven’t actually painted very many Seascapes. So it’s been an interesting exercise to work on these paintings which so far all contain a lot of water. The painting above is the last one that I completed and probably my favourite so far. What inspired me to have a go at this one was the amazing colours in the water and sky. I have to say that trying to mix the colour for the water was pretty tricky. I think I had about 20 different shades of blue and green on my palette at one point.

I’ve never been much of a one for painting sunsets or sunrises, as I think they often tend to look very Chocolate Boxy, and kind of fake. This little scene however, has something very special about it. The delicate shade of pink in the sky, with the amazing shades of aqua water below create a scene of great serenity. 

 

The other works I’ve completed are of the inlet near Colville on the Coromandel peninsula. The fascination for these  two works was the misty hills and the beautiful reflections in the water. 

beginning a painting,NZ,seascape,Colville

Snippet of Colville II

 

The works are almost monochromatic.  There is colour in them, but very subtle.  When the mist is heavy on the hills much of the colour leaches out of the subject, as there is no strong sunlight to bring it out.  However I think there is always great beauty in these landscapes.  They are serene, gentle and quite meditative.

beginning a painting,NZ,seascape,Colville

Snippet of Colville I

 

If you would like to see the whole paintings, pop on over to my website for a better look at them.  Or you can come to the group exhibition Nature’s Expression, in May for an even closer look.  I will be posting details – next month. 

This Weeks Question: What is your favourite thing about beginning a new painting, or other creative work?

Look For Next Week’s Post: To be or not to be? The age-old question about gallery relationships and whether to choose representation or not. 

 

CREDITS: I would like to acknowledge Kai Engel for the music in my video – thanks Kai.

Discover New Insights By Mentoring Others

Discover New Insights By Mentoring OthersDiscover New Insights By Mentoring Others

Mentoring others. This is something we can all do no matter what stage of life we are at or what our life path is. Mentoring is a great way for us to understand what we know about ourselves and the subject at hand. If you have never taught I believe that mentoring is invaluable in discovering more about your own journey. Here are some key points about mentoring…..

  • If you are a creative who teaches, then you are already mentoring others.
  • Traditionally mentoring was a non paid activity, where you took  someone under your wing and showed them the ropes.
  • It is not dissimilar to an apprenticeship. However, apprentices are usually paid a small amount and in return they perform some of the more menial tasks of the job.
  • If you cannot afford to pay an apprentice you may still find that there are those new to your profession who will appreciate a hand in learning the basics, and who are willing to help you with the tasks of your art business in return.
  • The fact is, that you are teaching them what they need to know from the invaluable perspective of  where you have been. You are able to help them through the minefield of mistakes you have already made so they do not have to make them.
  • All importantly, you are showing them what works and what doesn’t.

Not only should you consider mentoring others, I would ask whether or not you have a mentor yourself. Sometimes a mentor may be found not in a single person, but rather, within the supportive environment of an online group. There are many of these on Facebook. Obviously you will need to test the waters so to speak, for  while where are some amazing groups out there, there are also many that are not so good. The other thing these groups are good for is extending your network and increasing your own support system.

Mentoring Others

Mentoring Others

For an in-depth analysis of the benefits of mentoring others I suggest you take a look at this page on mentoring others.  Although it is written from a business perspective, it gives you many ideas to think about.

 

This Weeks Question: Do you need to find a mentor for yourself or to become one?

Next Weeks Post: Exhibiting – how to find the perfect space?

 

Pic Credits: Photo by leovalente

How To Get Your Art Biz On Track Now!

Get your art biz on track. Are you an artist or creative  entrepreneur? Are you struggling with the biz side of things and are quite frankly feeling like – ‘I’d RATHER be in the studio’. There is so much to do when you are an artpreneur. After all you are not just being an artist and creating wonderful creations, you are also a business person and if you’re anything like me there are times when you need help with that. Even the top people in their fields have mentors. So do you have one? Or perhaps a business coach?

Get Your Art Biz On Track,Crista Cloutier,working artist
Many artists feel quite overwhelmed when it comes to getting the art out the studio door, and I’ve been no exception to that one. I have done a few different online business courses for artists and today I’d like to share with you the one that I think is the top of the pick.
This course,The Working Artist, is run by Crista Cloutier. What is unique about her is that she has been on both sides of the art world. She began her career, working in a fine art print gallery in the United States. She ended up managing this gallery and later moved on to start her own gallery. She is also an artist herself and therefore has a unique perspective, being able to understand the art world from both points of view.

She says, “My gift lies in empowering artists like you to gain the clarity, direction, and focus to transform your art-making practice into an authentic and rewarding career. You can have sell-out shows, have work collected by museums, and draw a faithful collector base. This is an incredible time to be an artist! “

Get Your Art Biz On Track,Crista Cloutier,working artist

Crista Cloutier

I took her online course last year and found it to be the best I have ever done.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know much of the material she presented, rather I think a large contributing factor was the way it was delivered.  Her ‘Working Artist’ platform, is the best on-line platform I have ever worked with.  It allowed me to proceed at my own pace and yet also had a great accountability tool, which I am still using to keep track of where I’m at and what I still need to do. I also had the opportunity to have a personal coaching call with her, where we went over my art biz with a fine tooth comb.  This was invaluable! Crista delivers everything and much more than she promises. 

If you are interested, and want to get your art biz on track, join her mailing list to get an update on when her next course is scheduled for. She also has a great blog, called Jump, packed with information for working artists. I highly recommend this course.

This Weeks Question: Do you need to learn more about the business of being an artist?

Next Weeks Post: A new series of work coming up!

 

Photo by RichardBowen

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