Thursday, February 20, 2014

Improvement and Inspiration

A friend recently asked me

"How do you work at improving yourself as an artist?  Reading art books?  Classes?  Making more art and experimenting as you go?"

Excited, I replied;
     This is a passion -- self improvement! Some of what I do for self improvement and furthering my art involves on line video content. - especially the documentaries. Marianne Bantjes is one of my favorites along with one on Jerry Uelsmann.
     Ted Talks ( -- hard to find a talk that is not inspiring or challenging.
     ZenTangle -- really the meditative part of it.
     Trying new things. Perhaps adjacent to my art work, perhaps not, but interesting and new. This year some are calligraphy and  enameling.
     Reading - bios of successful artists and decorators, philosophy, metaphysics. One of the most significant things I have read in the past was "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron: a book and workbook that takes you through a process of uncovering your inner creativity. A must for everyone currently breathing! 
As an artist it is especially important to look and really see. Always looking with the help of;  tumblrpintrest, keeping up with (Amazing!) finding new artists on line and in print, looking at the beautiful detail shots on 
     [a great tool I learned of last year is SnagIt. You can try a free trial. It is a screen capture tool - great to snag an image for your visual file...]
snagged for my personal use - sorry I have no idea where it is from or whom the artist is... bad record keeping!

One of the things that I find extremely valuable: keeping my word -- making commitments  and then following through. A group fellow CZT's (Certified ZenTangle Teachers) from a training last fall have stayed in contact and once a month we touch base about what we are doing with the business of ZenTangle. We make commitments about what we intend to accomplish for the month and then we report on how we did them or not. This is a very powerful practice to make yourself accountable to another. I find it keeps me focused and on task. I can not believe (when I do this) how much I actually get accomplished.

Simple as it sounds "hanging out" -- lunch artist friends (the local ones), calls with working artist friends (not local ones via Skype or for a group Google HangOuts). Regular contact with working artists. Have you ever noticed how successful and/or powerful people run in pacts? Hang with the people who are doing it and by association you will begin to do it as well.
And in the world of Doing It -- I also follow several blogs by artists who are doing... the chief among them Maria Shell who is one of the most disciplined and hard working artists creating beautiful work that I know.
     Some other blogs I love for beauty and content; Pattern Print Journal, Art In Progress, Aestheticus Rex (If you just want the beautiful imagery from the net distilled for you this is your blog!)
A chair from a rare Louis Comfort Tiffany (before Tiffany Studios) suite.
One of the blog entries at Aestheticus Rex

     She also asked about "making more art and experimenting as you go" Oh BOY! I love making art. Experimenting is the pinnacle of excitement for me. While I rarely have a concrete plan when I begin to work I DO experiment and sample a ton! I get an idea and try and see if I can make it a reality or how suitable to work I can make it... many times they have not gone anywhere, but they are motivating and exciting to me. I sample colours of thread on different fabrics before beginning many times, I try smaller versions of things - much like the Kemshalls use sketchbooks to explore ideas and refine.
     I sample so much that after a suggestion that I put my samples together into one piece of work I cam up with a plan that I will be unveiling at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show  March 6, 7, and 8th where I am the Featured Artist as well as the Artist in Residence. I will be there with a body of work and demonstrating during the show with a special ZenTangle class on Friday night. (Sorry the class is full!) If you are in the area come and see me.

     I hope that you find inspiration and ways to improve yourself -- please share what you do to improve yourself and inspire your own work.