Friday, October 03, 2008

Fortuitous Events, Leading me to Believe I Must be a Good Person Afterall

We have a common sky.  A common firmament encompasses us.  What matters iot by what kind of learned theory each man looketh for the truth.  There is no one way that will take us to so mighty a secret.  Symmachus A.D. 384
OK, so I could not work up interest in the Palin/Biden debate (THAT'S a debate???) last night.  The more I see the more I am feeling alienated from any 'process'.  Both seemed like they were reading from scripts, both argued about previous votes for one thing or another.  Personally I find it a 'good thing' that people can change a vote over time. Circumstances change and events are not what they were originally so I see the ability to adapt as a plus, especially when the result is a less strident view.  In either direction.

And that is about as deep into politics as I will ever get.

What I wanted to talk about today was an amazing studio visit we did the other day.  My friend Nancy had a teacher way back in college at RISD that she adored.  In fact she has  spoken of him and how he taught and the attitude towards art he instilled in her since I met her 30 years ago.  This summer we had a little field trip to an exhibit of his up at Montserrat College of Art that pretty much made me a believer too.  In fact I loved several of his pieces so much I inquired about prices and in a few days he called me back.  Now I have drunk the Koolade too.  He also called Nancy back because she left a note in his guestbook about her fond memories of his class.  He invited both of us to come up to his studio, see his current work and walk the beach.  Well one thing and another involving trips and illnesses and full calendars kept putting off the trip but we did it this week.  

We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance. Benjamin Disraeli
Norman Laliberte. What an amazing man and prolific artist! First of all he is in his 80's but could probably overtake either of us in a foot race. There isn't even any probability we could win in a mental race. He showed us his pristine studio and the pieces he is working on as well as running from one side to another to bring out examples of things as we talked. We trooped up to the attic to see hundreds of paintings wrapped for shipping, then back down to the studio to his ceiling high book shelves, the drawers upon drawers of flat art- prints and experiments, collages and tiles, banners and assemblage- he has tried everything it seems. Works in both acrylics and oils as well as just about every print medium. What a wonderful inspiring day with a generous accomplished artist and teacher.

(download the pdf catalog)
Artist Profile

nd as a PS, I didn't buy the painting I fell in love with. Norman gave me the measurements and it was 78" wide- I went about with my tape and discovered I do not have a single wall wide enough to hang it except over my bed on the bricks (and remember that one of the reason we make quilts is so when it falls off the wall it won't hurt anybody!). But I am going to keep my eye out for one a bit smaller.

KREATIVITY, more on (see previous posts)
There is nothing that can't be achieved by firm imagination. Japanese proverb

I don't know where I lifted these from, but it is attributed to the original writers so I hope that I am not stepping on feet reposting it. I was doing some research on creativity and found it very curious how so many authors have 'steps' or bullet points- here are more:

The 5 Rules of Creativity Explained
By Will Kalif
Rule1: "The rule of Fusion" This is where the title of this article becomes clear. Addition is the rule of adding two things together. This is a fundamental skill of creativity. Taking one thing and adding it to another to come up with a totally new thing, idea, concept, or thought. Often times these additions might at first seem extremely incongruous but it is through these incongruities that the most creative ideas emerge. Aren't we all so glad that somebody used this rule on peanut butter and chocolate? Don't dismiss even the craziest addition. It may lead to other, better, ideas. Which is what the second rule of creativity is about.

Rule 2: "The logical progression" Every single thing came from an earlier thing. No thought, idea, product, story, painting ever was brought into existence from nothing. It derived from something earlier. This brings up an interesting bit of trivia about Picasso. A Woman, meeting him in a restaurant asked him to draw something for her and she said that she would pay him anything. He quickly drew out a sketch on a napkin and said "That will be six thousand dollars please." She was shocked at this and retorted: "But it only took you five minutes to draw it!" To which he replied: "No Madame, it took me forty years and five minutes to draw it!" Picasso was proving the point that he didn't just draw it out of nothing. He drew it out of the progression of artistic ability and skill he developed over 40 years of learning. Think about something and then try to peek back into where it originated from then try to extrapolate this into what could be next for it. You will be surprised where this takes you.

Rule 3: "The rule of scattershot" Edison is famous for his quote that inventing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. What he meant was that you have to just try a whole bunch of things, no matter how crazy it might seem because sooner or later something special will come out of it. The trick here is to be observant enough to know what is working. This is a famous technique used in Brainstorming where you just come up with as many things as possible regardless of their initial apparent relevance or worth. It does lubricate creativity and generate lots of good stuff.

Rule 4: "The rule of discipline" While creativity has the bad reputation of being something for dreamy types who lounge under a tree waiting for an apple to fall it is just not true. Creativity follows the "opportunity comes to the prepared" rule in that if you want to be creative you have to do and learn. From this you will grow in your creativity. If you want to be a more creative painter you have to paint - a lot. Through this practice your mind will generate creative thoughts. The same is true for any pursuit. The more you do it the more prepared you will be to receive creative inspiration and more importantly the more prepared you will be to realize them.

Rule 5: "Transferance" Every invention, thought, idea, product, or other thing was created for a purpose but every one of these things can be applied in other ways. A hammer is much more than just a tool for pounding nails. If you are working on a creative problem look at other similar or even dissimilar solutions to problems and see how you can apply these solutions to your problem. This brings us right back to the goblins. Some goblin saw the success of thongs on human beaches and thought "maybe this will work on goblin beaches."

Define Creativity — I Dare You
Durga Keyser
Have you made it impossible for yourself to ever be creative — by virtue of your own definition?

What do you think of when you think “creative”? Dazzling? Fabulous? Breathtaking?

Totally original? Completely outside the box?

Do you think of creativity as mysterious? Elusive? Unattainable? Easy for the lucky creative folks but impossible for you?

Am I getting close?

When was the last time you examined your ideas about creativity? I mean, really examined them? What standards do you use to determine if something is creative or not? What triggers your inspiration, makes you want to paint or write — and then dashes your hopes to the ground?

What whacky ideas about creativity are you harboring in your treasure chest of self-imposed limitations?
Think about what you’re thinking

Words are powerful creatures, and the longer they hang around unexamined, the bigger the punch they pack. I’m afraid we’re all guilty of taking our words lightly, casually sprinkling our talk with ideas that knock our self-esteem off its feet. We praise or condemn ourselves in our own eyes without giving a thought to what we actually mean.

If you believe that “creative” means to be absolutely, totally, completely original, are you ever likely to think that one of your thoughts is creative? Of course not. You’ll censor every idea you have with the big rubber stamp OLD NEWS, and if a thought makes it to the tongue, you’ll swallow it on the spot because no one could possibly be interested in your silly banalities.

If having to work at art automatically means you’re not creative (because, of course, truly creative folks exude mindless artistry from every pore), you’re not going to give your own efforts much credence. If there’s an exclusive group with a monopoly on creativity, where does that leave you? If every creative act has to knock the whole world’s socks off, where does that leave any of us?
Try these

If you’re starting to think you might be doing yourself a disservice with those old and moldy connotations you’ve got buried in the vaults of your mind, here are four exercises for digging them out, giving them a good airing, and then obliterating them forever.

1. Creativity Is…
Sit down and write for as long as you like, but try to make it at least 30 minutes without stopping. Creativity is…what? Let your pen keep moving and keep your brain out of it. No censors allowed in this exercise. Write for a good half-hour because it may take some time for the wheels to grease. Write whatever comes into your head. Don’t stop to read it until you’re done, when you’ll have all the time in the world to marvel at the inanity you’ve packed into the idea of being creative.

When you think you’ve got it all down on paper, devise a little rite for your yourself and burn the thing. Bury the ashes or sprinkle them in a flowing body of water. Get rid of them!! That definition is over and done with. Now start thinking from your new clean slate what creativity REALLY means to you. What’s a definition you can live with and be creative with? Start afresh. You ARE creative.

2. The Rules of Creativity
Carry some paper around with you and jot down every rule you catch yourself thinking about creativity. For example, you may have a habit of doodling when you’re on the phone, then tossing the paper away, ashamed of your scribble. Stop and notice what you just thought. Was it something like, “What garbage. All I can draw are stick figures!” Write it down: “Rule #34: Stick figure doodles are not creative. Throw them away before anyone sees them.”

See how many rules you can come up with. Be ruthless with yourself. When you think you’ve got all your hidden rules on paper (you’re probably wrong, but there’s always more paper), you might want to do something similar as in the “Creativity Is…” exercise and burn the buggers. Those rules are no longer applicable. Take a deep breath, exhale, and SMILE!

3. Do I Like It?
Now instigate a new rule. “Creativity Rule #1: If I like it, it’s okay. No, better yet, it’s CREATIVE!” Try this one on for size. For a week, make this your ONLY creativity rule. If you make a drawing, the only thing you’re going to worry about is if YOU like it. If you rearrange the furniture, the only question you’re allowed to ask yourself is, “Do I like it?”

There’s plenty of time for learning principles of design and color. But if you’ve got a censor on your shoulder the size of the Matterhorn, this new rule should be your only concern for at least a week. Be bold: do some creative things just to see if you like them. Watch out — this rule is addictive.

4. The Creative Me
Sit down, close your eyes, and be very still. Conjure up a picture of yourself being creative. What are you doing? What does it feel like? What sort of things happen when you are creative? Write it down. Picture yourself on a normal day doing something creative you already typically do and describe it. Now imagine yourself on the most ideally creative day of your life and describe that one. Now throw your mind into the future and land on some unspecified date when you’ve fulfilled all your dreams and are at the pinnacle of your creative success and describe it (this one may help you dig out some crazy ideas about success while you’re at it).

Do NOT burn these. Keep them and read them often. Think about what you’ve said and how it makes you feel. Write many descriptions just like these on different days, because your dreams and ideas will tend to change as you grow and accept yourself more and more. If, with time, you see that your description is supporting old outdated ideas of creativity, rewrite it.

And well done, I say! You’re creating yourself as you go along. How creative of you! •

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