-or- Does Creativity Connect People?
So... I've just finished up from taking part in the St. Peter's Art Show in Lewes, Delaware... and I've been reflecting about it for the past few days. Why do I enjoy going to art shows so much?
To be honest, preparing for and setting up a big white tent, numerous metal display panels, and hanging up your work tastefully through a small windstorm in 90 degree heat is no easy task- in fact it's an obscene amount of physical work!
But I love it, and I can't wait to do it again.
One of my favorite experiences of being an artist is not just working on artwork that I believe in, but personally sharing it with others and hoping they 'get it' the same way I did. In other words, hoping they see the message in a subject and understand why I chose to paint it. (Then I hope they approve of my rendition of the subject!)
When I paint, my goal is the same- to ultimately connect with people. Do all creative types feel the same way? Do any of us set out to create something with the vision of how it may touch someone else? Or does that come later?
It's such an incredible process, and its one of the few things I've done in my life where I have felt brave enough to put my true self "out there" for the world to give it a thumb's up- or down.
I am enjoying the creative process far more than the results! When I am finished a painting, it's like getting to the last page of a book. You're so glad you read it. It's been a part of your life, and it's a little sad to let it go.
If my artwork connects with even just one person at an art show, where they see what I saw in a subject, it's such a memorable moment and makes the show so much more worthwhile.
No matter what we chose to create in life, if our work ultimately causes someone to feel joy, or feel connected, we have done our job well.
"We may not all do great things, but we can each do small things with great love" - Mother Theresa
Sometimes creativity and the urgent need to paint, draw, or sketch hits me when I least expect it. I am always glad it hits me at all!
On a grey slushy day in upstate New York, and after lots of coffee, I decided to stop by a flower shop on my way home. (Wisteria, in Rochester, NY) The colors were amazing- reminding me of what is to come.. and took my focus away from what currently IS.
The colors and smells of flowers and dirt (and the caffeine in my system) really uplifted my senses, and brought a sense of hopefulness to my mind. Walking through the floral displays and decorations I wished I had a little paint set and sketch book.
If you find yourself in a "rut", or just need to change your perspective, I really recommend changing your immediate scenery for a couple hours. Go to a new coffee shop, an art gallery, or even a big atrium filled with plants in a hotel lobby. Seriously! Take a book with you, and leave your cell phone behind for a little while. It's like hitting your personal "reset" button!
Cardinals are such fascinating birds. They are a colorful and unusual combination of bold, forceful and beautiful. They are aggressive, but usually just to feed and defend their families.
If you have bird feeders where you live, you might notice Cardinals are usually the last bird to fill up on food at nightfall, while all the other birds went to roost for the night 20 minutes before.
The female Cardinal is such an interesting combination of red and warm tans, in contrast to the bright red of her mate. I enjoy watching them work together. As a pair, they seem to separate themselves from all of the other songbirds and work within their own set of strict rules.
Winter is not always meant for hibernation!
I spent a little time feeding the birds at a local park over the weekend in order to gain some first-hand photo reference for a few illustrations and studies I am working on.
What fun it is to spend time in nature even when it's super cold outside! When I am outdoors, I feel intellectually and spiritually alive and my curiosity for everything feels renewed again.
I need to get better at recognizing when I need to do this and get away from the usual distractions sooner- it can only make my work more authentic and provide more satisfaction with the entire process! Here's hoping we ALL remember to stay in touch with what renews us! - A
At an Art Show this past July, a fellow artist (who was in the tent next to mine) and I were talking about the creative process. We talked about how we begin a new piece, and how we layout the subject.
About the subject- one of the things he said to me was: "Don't always just paint what it IS, paint what it COULD be."
This was simple, yet good advice. It was as if someone had officially reminded me to not just focus strictly on the technique and the details of the subject, but to allow my imagination and creativity continue being a steady influence on the artwork, too.
This can also apply to the way we live our lives, too. In other words, we shouldn't color within the lines all of the time. Knowing when and how to go outside of the lines is what makes each of us unique! - A
Remember how cold the Winter was and how long it took for Spring to arrive this year?
On a chilly April morning my Uncle John was out taking photographs of waterfowl and nature, and on his way home spotted a little wren sitting in the sun, but hidden in a mess of twisting branches and thorn bushes, just trying to warm up in the morning sun.
The Wren's eyes were so large and expressive- they were almost human. After a few sketches I had to paint this little bird. Everything about this wren was so intriguing. The spot he chose to sit and warm up- he blended so well into the same colors. The thorns looked dangerous yet they protected this Wren from predators. He was so easy to overlook unless you were completely immersed into nature as my Uncle John is.
When I paint pictures like these, I also feel totally immersed in the subject- I feel myself standing near the thorn bush staring at this little bird, hearing the other birds chattering in the distance... and I am a part of nature from my drafting table.
Check out my Uncle's photography online by clicking here- and experience nature from an outdoorsman's perspective.
A year ago I posted my sketches of the "Cat in a Window" along with a few of my notes. After getting to know my subject quite well through a series of studies, I moved on to several different projects and put this one on the shelf for a long while.
I jumped back into this project in January and after re-reading my year-old notes I am happy to read that I have followed through with most of hat I had written a year ago. (This doesn't usually happen!)
This is why I agree that it is important to keep sketch journals or just written journals of our observations on topics we are working on. Once its written down and sketched, it seems to become engraved in our memories for quite a while- or at least 12 months! --A
I was feeling the "blues" after returning from a great art show (St. Peters in Lewes Delaware) and family visit two weeks ago, and decided to shake it off by going fishing at a nearby bay which feeds into Lake Ontario.
I found a secluded fishing spot down a narrow path which led to a small area large enough for one person to sit on a rock and fish quietly.
I cast a spinner lure into the water and was enjoying the solitude as I watched a crayfish and minnow interact with each other on a submerged rock near my feet.
A few minutes went by and I heard an unusually close HONK coming down the narrow trail which led to where I was sitting. As I turned to look over my right shoulder, I saw an entire Canadian Goose family wobbling down the path directly towards me. I don't think they knew I was there!
They got down nearly to the rock next to me, realized I was there and stopped cold as the goslings piled up bumping into each other wondering why Mom and Dad hit the brakes so fast.
We looked at each other for many minutes- I sat motionless- and they eventually took hesitant steps into the water right in front of me, glancing nervously at me as they floated away quickly, single file. I was lucky enough to capture a few great shots with my cell phone- no zoom lens needed!
So... sketches are already underway! Thank you Mother Nature, for re-inspiring me to get back to my art table!
Enjoy the rest of July... it sure is going by fast!
A. E. West
Fine Artist with interests in Conservation, History and Nature paints subjects from coastal Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania and Upstate New York.