One of them said she was worried: What was I going to do if I made it "big" with a lot of attention and couldn't keep up with everything and everyone?Read More
Hello, how are you? And how can we connect outside of this digital and backlit world?
Art is a way to connect, a way that my soul can reach out to your soul and say hello. It brings encouragement, messy beauty, physical presence that extends beyond smartphones and social media. Art is meaty. Real.
Sending these MandyGrams postcards into the world is my way of saying you're real. And I'm real, and the notes on the backs of these cards are very real and honest moments of my life. The 5:30am stuff that often doesn't make it to my twitter feed. These Mandygrams are "real" ways that we can connect beyond comments and likes. Handmade one-of-a-kind hellos from my world to yours.
So if you're real, and you'd like a little art hello, drop your address here. This will go straight to my email and then onto the back of a Mandygram and hopefully into your mailbox!
I'd love to say hello. :)
Sometimes we just need to be seen -- to be understood and acknowledged and stood beside. There's so much power in being able to do brave things when we know others are cheering us on from the sidelines. That's what the word "inspire" means -- to put air, inspiration, courage into someone else.
This: An early morning rant in my kitchen, spilling out and spelling out all the adventures and misadventures and exciting mountains climb. I'm learning the life of the entrepreneur. It's a cost worth paying in order to live the life of an artist. This is how I fight for my art:
- Inventory database
- Business banking account
- Systems for communication
- Systems for connecting
- Paypal headaches
- Marketing courses
And then this little image comes to me through a patron and encourager who breathes life into my artistic soul. On a day like today where I want to cry over the things that are not the act of painting.
You never know what a difference little gestures like that mean to your artist. Thank you for encouraging me, Jennifer. Thank you for seeing me.
We just might make a little video! :) Tamela Buttrey, a beautiful giving soul who runs a catering business in order to support underprivileged children in Guatemala, came by my studio to share about being creative in the midst of parenting, how to interact with others' artwork, and the foundation of our friendship being the conversation of art. [embed]https://youtu.be/w__f8s4c53Q[/embed]
And part two, on mail art, the inspiration for my postcards, and the connection between the artist and collector? It's a fun one!!
I'm so grateful for Tamela's support and influence on my art. True collectors don't know how significant they are to me, but I'm determined to change that. It takes a village to raise an artist and I can't do it without you.
A look at my world (studio, kitchen) and a look at the lives of many other artist-mamas. This is it. This is all of it. The noise and the silence. The chaos and the beauty. This is how we live and love. [embed]https://vimeo.com/120384934[/embed]
This whole creativity thing works like the Fight Club. There's a battle our own self-rejection and creative acrobatics. We have extensive inner dialogs, working out the intricacies of a good/bad idea. It's all mush. It can get ugly. But OH the glory that comes when something comes to life. OH the glory. This is why we are in the fight.
Brene, the one who is changing our culture, has much to say about creatives and the arena. If you love Brene Brown, creativity, or self-understanding, this is for you.
A little video on a big painting that I completed as a commission, filmed over the course of a few days. I am mainly working with acrylics on a pre-textured gallery wrap canvas. I send images to my patron through out the process, to get instant feedback on progress. This is how the painting process goes, from start to finish. Well, sans dancing. That was an exceptional moment. For more info on custom work, you can read details HERE.
They moved from meadow to meadow, terrain to terrain. Their pace followed the seasons, a different practice in the summer than in the winter. They stored up for times of hunger, adjusted as fields became fallow and as fruit became scarce. They understood drought, moving as water and weather took them.
Like them, we can't grow our own creative sustenance—those things that inspire and drive us. We have to go after it, gather it, and store it. We have always been and will always be hunter-gatherers. Thomas Merton said, "The imagination needs time to browse." So give yourself permission to browse, to wander around for the creative fodder you need.
To maximize your creativity, you must rely on a variety of sources:
- Go on creative inner-pilgrimages to foreign artists' styles, or use foreign writing prompts.
- Chase down the wildest color schemes or hunt down the secret to the golden mean in photography.
- Look for inspiring input in "remote" places you've never visited: different books, galleries, forms of poetry.
- Brave the unfamiliar terrain of new tools and techniques: software, plot style, composition techniques, etc.
- Try new foods: take a course, read a new textbook, enroll in a class.
- Explore your curiosities and questions! "[The artist] opens himself up to all influences—everything nourishes him. Everything is gravy to him, including what he does not understand—particularly what he does not understand." Henry Miller
I'd also recommend considering a seasonal or monthly (or moon-cycle) approach to gathering inspiration:
- Which seasons yield the most inspiration? (Winter is beautifully introspective for me, summer is too busy.)
- Focus on a certain creative input for a month then cycle to a fresh field of fodder the next month.
- Choose themes or color schemes based on the weather and the season, letting nature guide you.
- Participate in NaNoWriMo or participate in a similar challenge for visual artists.
- Set a creative goal for the season or the year, and see how far you can get with it. (My goal = 200 paintings. Due to an unforeseen serotonin drought this winter, I don't think I'm going to make it...)
Go after inspiration like our hunter-gather predecessors. Feed that starving inner-artist, and she will have the energy and vitality you need in order to live out your creative dreams.
A gentle word of caution: Those courses on marketing and social media are not necessarily creative fodder... While they do help you understand the business side of creativity, they don't invest in the creative side of your soul. When you consider courses and classesartist, look for experiences that will enrich your *creative process* not your *business process.* I know we have to live in both worlds, but the one that stirs your soul and raises your voice the world is your *creative process.* Focus on feeding your starving inner-—she probably doesn't wake up in the morning craving marketing strategies, she craves the sweetness of inspiration! Give it to her. Regularly.
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Why are manifestos so important? They keep the end in focus. They keep us on track. They supercharge our resolve to go after the things that are important to us. Even Frank Lloyd Wright had one. "In other words, the manifesto is a personal or even handwritten statement intending to shock, inspire, or offend." (here) In this case, we are aiming to inspire ourselves, yes? So, let's steel ourselves. Let's look ourselves in the mirror and tell ourselves to get out there and create because creating makes our world a more beautiful place. You can take a look at instructions for writing your own manifesto:
- Instructions and info by one of my favorite paper mentors, Quinn Creative.
- The "How to Write A-Creative-Manifesto Manifesto" is pure brilliance.
And if you're curious, here's my creativity manifesto:
"Creating is like breathing – more like exhaling. If I don’t create, my soul suffocates. As I create, I listen to myself. I discover emotions and fears and passions and convictions. I pray soft and subtle prayers—both mine and others'.
While I create for the sake of my soul and for the sake of the message, I also create for the sake of creating. I enjoy the process, the challenge, the adventure. I hold moments of creating as a discovery, not a job or goal, but as a discovery of what is within me to create.
To maintain a level of creativity, I rely on new inspirations and old routines. I always find novel ways to create, whether it be through new tools of creating, or new mediums. Predictability and routine provide the best environments for my soul to have the energy to create. If life demands adaptation and change (both being very creative endeavors) then I will be depleted of my inner creativity.
To foster my creative edge, I must constantly educate and challenge myself: New books, new lessons, new tools, new goals, new creative endeavors. If I don’t grow, I will lose speed and possibly halt. This development is a monster of a task, and I often feel I am hindered by my own limitations. But I will continue to grow. I will continue to climb upwards to new heights of achievement. I may never ascend to the top of this Everest, but I will strive to get above the snow-line.
Each year I will make a creative goal for myself. This goal will exist as an end in sight and a way to monitor progress, and will also fuel me to keep a steady pace with new ideas and tools and challenges."
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"Artists have no choice but to express their lives. They have only, and that not always, a choice of process. This process does not change the essential content of their work in art, which can only be their life." from Anne Truitt's Daybook
Need a little inspiration? A little something for your office or studio space to help you remember how to ride those waves of creativity? I've been collecting a list of tips and tricks I've learned along the way, and wanted to share them with you in the hopes that you will go forth and make great things!
So I made you a big and bright poster that you can print or share or use however you'd like!
To download the pdf, clickity-click the poster, or HERE:
It's simple, really. And it needs to be. The act of creating is daunting enough. Who needs a complicated process to get it done?
My four step creative process:
- Input: I am constantly gathering visual material. Harvesting. Studying. They come through many venues. My eyes stay open to things that grab me.
- Ideas: If something grabs me, it often inspires a new painting idea. I collect these ideas in a spark file that I can access at any moment.
- Go: If steps one and two have been regularly attended to, I will not have a shortage of inspirational energy when it comes time to step foot in the studio. I chose a "next thing" and I go with it.
- Flow: Given the proper conditions, my concentration will slip into the flow state. This is ideal, as this facilitates peak creativity and concentration. And when this happens, the creative process is magical. Powerful. Tantalizing.
To confess, I have most definitely simplified these stages for you so you could fill in the blanks with your own preferences. For instance: What are the venues of my visual input? See? That part doesn't matter. What matters is that my eyes are on the look out. The point of #1 is for you to keep your eyes on the look out as well.
And, to be honest, I need these to be in a simple, memorable format, so that when I feel blocked, I can search through these steps to discover where I need to place more energy and time. Sort of a mental cliff-note reference card that I can flip through when I'm stuck. There's always a step waiting for me. Always some stage of this process that I can easily insert myself into and regain momentum.
It's not such a mystery, really. It's about keeping myself somewhere in these steps. This is how I get it done.
They said that in desperation, O'Keefe reviewed all her previous work and "decided to paint in ways that would please her." This brave choice resulted in the signature Georgia O'Keefe style we know so well. On a quiet morning, I flipped through nearly 300 snapshots of my work, searching for those that speak to me, that I enjoyed painting. The result is a collection of 50 that I think reflect my artistic voice.
Some common elements:
- Vibrant color
- Landscapes, seascapes
- Strong horizon line
- Natural elements
- Messy scrawling areas of paint
- Natural organic subject matter
- Emotional aesthetic
- Indistinguishable brush strokes
Here are some that still stick with me. Do you see any similarities?
I like to think of my hippie-fabulous painting smock as more of a cape, if you want to know the truth. It is thick and I feel like I can fly through the studio when I wear it! I also like to think of my art (and mess) making supplies as weapons, to be wielded bravely and boldly.
I slay the dragon of perfectionism with splats and splatters, with rough textured backgrounds and NO ruler or flat-edge with which to create straight lines. My lines are straight enough. They don't have to be perfect.
The more expressive, the better. Life is messy and scratched up and flawed, yet it is still so very beautiful. I believe art should be the same!
Among my weapons of choice you will see many mess-makers and a few cleaner-uppers. You will also see chalk and a dry-erase marker, as I believe preparing for battle is as much as your efforts during the battle (to continue the metaphor). Also: essential comfort items are on hand to keep me feeling energized and focused.
You won't see music speakers or headphones because it's loud enough in my head. As I showed you earlier, I love to work in silence.
You also won't see paintbrushes, although I do in fact use them. The problem is that I think paintbrushes pull me towards perfectionism, so I use them only when necessary. And when I use them, I often use them in unconventional ways. How? Oh, I can't give away all my secrets, now can I?
I know many of you are heroes in your own day to day activities. What are some of your weapons of choice? (Yes, sticky-notes can be a great weapon -- an effective shield against procrastination.)
So share some of your weapons with us! And wield them with bravery and boldness!
(Wait, don't wield them *at* us, necessarily. Wield them at work. K? Thanks!)
It's not often that we have opportunity see ourselves through someone else's eyes. I dare say it's a frightening and invigorating experience, one that leaves us enlightened and a bit humbled! At least this was the case for me.
My artwork, and gosh myself as well, were recently featured in Golden Isles Magazine. It's a quick little read, but is filled with information retracing my steps back into the world of art.
"During a season of depression, Mandy recalls that defining day when her therapist referred to her ways of interpreting the world as “the ways of the artist."
It's no secret that my artistic approach is one of solitude and reflection. It is a reservoir of respite for my soul, and keeps my inner landscape in balance. This is why I'm so passionate about teaching art journaling classes at our local paint your own pottery studio (Color Me Happy). Cyle's beautiful writing seemed to call that passion right out of me. Her interview questions dug down to the reality of why art is a core element of my life. My need for artistic expression came pouring out of me.
The result gave me a new take on the power of art in my own life, as well as how my art might impact others along the way. I'm grateful to be featured in the mag, and would love to share the article with you here if you'd like to take a glance:
Mandy Thompson -- G.I.Mag Article, by Cyle Lewis
Or you can view the entire Jan/Feb 2014 issue online HERE.