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

dahalia,flowers.florals,flower_art,kadira_jennings,unfolding_in_the_studio

What Is Unfolding In The Studio This Month? Well, I have spent much of this month working on a new painting. So rather than a long blog post this week, I have put together a video of the whole painting from start to finish.  Well, not quite finished actually.  I have got paint on all the canvas, It is going to take me at least another whole day painting session to go around and put glazes and finishing touches to the work.  It has been quite a marathon this one,  as it is a fairly complex painting.

This is a fairly large work, measuring 102×84 cm or 40″x33″.

 

 

What’s coming up next….I have begun a rather large collaborative project with a photographer friend.  My next works will also be flowers or plants, however, they are being created from a different mindset.  So I will be sharing some thoughts and images of that with you soon.

This Weeks Question: How does collaboration help your creative development?

Look For Next Week’s Post: Creativity Crisis! I’ve Lost My Muse – How To Find It?

 

a blank canvas photo

Why is the blank canvas so intimidating and more importantly what can we do to counteract this phenomenon?

When you are first beginning to paint, confronting a blank canvas, is a bit like a performer going on stage.  Actors call it stage fright. Artists – well I call it Pencil Paralysis – as it applies to the white page as much as the pristine canvas.  Why do we fear beginning so much?  

Fear of failure would be my guess.  Particularly adults.  Have you ever watched children who are given a box of crayons and a piece of paper? Do they take ten minutes trying to decide what to draw? Do they worry about what it’s going to look like – hardly!

children drawing photo

When it comes to creativity adults are at a distinct disadvantage. Why? Ego is the main reason.  We have a facade to preserve.  A certain reputation to uphold. We have learnt somewhere along the way that failure is not ok and heaven forbid that we might look stupid! Learning something new always brings up those anxieties, we feel stupid even though we don’t want to look stupid.  So we often feel that it’s better to not begin at all. If I don’t begin – I can’t fail!

Oddly enough this kind of paralysis doesn’t just happen to beginners. Veteran actors and musicians have been known to have terrible stage fright before a performance, even though they have been performing for years. The fact is that every new canvas, every new performance, brings up performance anxiety.  Will I do OK, will I make a fool of my self, or will I outright fail?

Something I often talk about as an artist is the concept of failing forward.  teaching ourselves that it is alright to fail, to not measure up to the high standard we set for ourselves. If we can grab onto the fact that every failure leads us one step closer to success, we can learn to see failure, as not a bad thing, but a positive step.

Every artwork that has ever been created has been done so along the path of many mistakes. There is, however, something particularly daunting about a white canvas.  So one solution is to give it an undercoat of some kind.  I usually give mine a thin coat of acrylic burnt sienna or raw umber.  For some reason, it is easier, to begin with, a coloured background than it is on a white one.

 

 

blank_canvas,Undercoated canvas,kdira_jennings

Undercoated canvas

 

 

Other artists will draw up their picture and then put a very thin layer of paint as an undercoat, in different colours on different parts of the canvas.

Many artists offer the advice of just putting some colour onto the blank canvas.  Where is not important – it is breaking through the white canvas barrier that is important.

So why not give it a try? Allow yourself to be daunted by the tyranny of the white canvas – no longer!

 

This Weeks Question: How do you overcome pencil paralysis?

Look For Next Week’s PostWhat Is Unfolding In The Studio This Month?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pix Credits: 

Photo by ReillyButler

georgia okeeffe,modernist movement

by Georgia Okeeffe

 

Georgia Okeeffe was a modern pioneer in the arts.  She was a great visionary fuelling the impact of the modernist movement which still resonates down to us today.

So what does it take to be a pioneer in the arts? – I think the following quote by Georgia Okeeffe, says it all really.

“I had been taught to work like others and after careful thinking I decided that I wasn’t going to spend my life doing what had already been done, I realized that I had things in my head not like what I had been taught – not like what I had seen – shapes and ideas so familiar to me that it hadn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to stop painting, to put away everything I had done, and to start to say the things that were my own.”

 

This concept that you need to learn the basics and then throw it all away and start again, is not a new one, however not many artists do it. Although we do find that many of the arts pioneers have had classical training, only to discard it and find another way to explore their vision. The dictionary informs us that a person who is a pioneer is one who develops or is the first to use or apply (a new method, area of knowledge, or activity). We find this same situation in the music world as well.

 I recently heard an interview with Jack Bruce from the rock band Cream during which he stated that he had spent a long time unlearning the classical training he had had in order to be able to break new ground in his song writing and musical direction.

georgia-okeeffe,modernist-movement

by Georgia Okeeffe

 

I would suggest, however, that without the prior training both of these artists had, they would have found it difficult to go forward.  The thing training gives us is a grounding in techniques, like scales in music or understanding the importance of dark and light in an art work. These things have become second place to the more mature artist and allow a freedom to experiment because there is an instinctual foundation there for the artist to work upon.

I would suggest that there are many pioneers within the art world, although most of them will never be officially recognised. After all creativity and artistic process often lead us to engage in pushing the boundaries of what we know, to find a new image, sound, or technique which will give us the vision we are seeking. 

What is more difficult is engaging in work that sends the whole of the art world in a completely different direction. This is indeed truly groundbreaking. And the more time that passes actually the more difficult this becomes because so many avenues have already been explored.

Abstraction - Georgia Okeeffe

Abstraction – Georgia Okeeffe

There is an exhibition currently showing in the New South Wales Art Gallery, which presents the works of Georgia O’Keeffe, Margaret Preston, and Grace Cossington-Smith. These three artists came of age during a time of great social and cultural transition in the 1910’s and 1920’s. The three women rejected the artistic conventions of the day and forged new ways of capturing the world on their canvases. They were at the forefront of the great pioneering artists of international modernism.

If you live in Sydney I highly recommend going to see this exhibition which is on from July 1 to October 2, 2017. It is the first time there has been a major showing of O’Keefe’s works in Australia. There are around 30 works by each artist being presented.

 

Margaret Preston,modern_painters,georgia okeeffe

Still Life by Margaret Preston

 

A visit to this exhibition will give you some idea of what it takes to become a Pioneer as an artist.

This Weeks Question: What would you have to change about your artwork to become a pioneer in the arts?

Look For Next Week’s PostWhy is the blank canvas so intimidating and what to do about that?

 

Pix Credits:

RubyGoes

Kadira Jennings

 RubyGoes 

Kadira Jennings

 

criticism

How To Conquer The Cancer Of Criticism

Unfortunately, criticism is something that we are all rather too familiar with. We begin bearing the burden of others judgment from a very young age and the problem is that we end up becoming overly self-critical. In fact, we will often jump in to criticise ourselves and things we have done before anybody else can even open their mouths to suggest there is something not as good as it might be.

Criticism, however, does not have to be all bad. If we can learn to accept another’s analysis of our work, for what it is, their opinion, then we can digest what they have said later and see if it has any validity. Sometimes we reject another’s critique out of hand because we don’t want to admit that things might need to change, that perhaps we’ve made a mistake.

Who Are Your Critics

As an artist, it is important to realise that there are different kinds of critics in the art world, and their opinions are not all equal. So who are these people? They fall into four main categories

  • Relatives and friends
  • Yourself
  • Professional art critics
  • Teachers and mentors
  • The general public

Let’s take an in-depth look at them.

Relatives and friends

When you are a budding artist one of the most damaging forms of criticism can come from your spouse or partner and other relatives or friends. The problem is that we are used to listening to these people and often accepting their advice.

However, when it comes to our artwork they are not necessarily experts and in all probability, they aren’t. All they can do is offer you an opinion about what they like or don’t like. They do not have any technical expertise and are therefore unlikely to be able to offer you much in the way of useful appraisal. This is further compounded by the fact that we often want to please them and so we may change something in our painting on their advice, even though it may be the wrong thing to do. The other problem here is that when you are beginning you are so unsure of what you are doing that you might turn to anyone for help, whether they can actually help or not.

 

My advice regarding relatives and friends is to politely accept their assessment and then just ignore it until you can find some one more knowledgeable, whose opinion you do trust. You must learn to develop a bit of a thick skin because there are always going to be those that like your work and those that don’t. And if you take the judgement of others too much to heart, you’re in for a rocky road.

 

art critics photo

Yourself

Self-criticism also has its place. It is, in fact, a vital part of producing an artwork. However, we might like to think of it as evaluation rather than criticism. The word carries so much negative baggage along with it. Yet, if I do not stand back and critically appraise my current artwork I will not be able to see either if, or where I have gone wrong. Worse than that I will not even be acknowledging that I may have made a mistake or two. 

In order to deepen my art practice, I must be able to critically appraise my own work from a non-emotional standpoint. I have to be able to realise that an art practice is built on the foundation of making mistakes and failing forwards. If I don’t get this important point I will have a great deal of difficulty progressing.

The other important aspect of self-criticism is developing your intuition.  Learning to listen for and hear that voice within, which will guide you more truly than your ego.

Professional Art Critics

There are times during your art career, where you may have your art critically appraised by journalists, competition judges and other art critics, who make a living at making critical appraisals of artworks. The higher you rise in the art world, the more you will come under the microscope of the professional critic.  Although they have much experience in appraising art, you must remember, that they are still expressing a personal opinion. A judge is highly unlikely to choose a competition winner with a piece of work he or she dislikes.

At the end of the day, there will be as many opinions about your work as there are people in the world!.

Teachers and mentors

Of all the people who might criticise your work, teachers and mentors are probably the most valuable of those who will offer you a critical appraisal. You would do well to pay attention to what they say and attempt to put into practice what they are advising you. Of course, nobody is infallible and you must use your own unemotional judgement to determine whether you think their advice will improve your work or not. This is where it becomes important to be able to listen to your own intuition because it will always guide you well.

The general public

The general public is a very similar category to family and friends and you can apply the advice given for that category to this one.

So, as you can see, there are many aspects to the subject of criticism, and it will serve you well to listen to some and discard the rest.

 

 

Pix Credits :

First Photo – by johnhain

Second Image  by Slimdandy

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

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.

Being a successful artist,kadira_jennings,Art Patrons Enjoying the exhibition,natures_expression

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.

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