Tuesday, May 28, 2013

“Too much stuff” -- and More!

"Kindred Spirits II" 24x30 acrylic on canvas
Today’s Guest Blogger is Robert Genn*

Recently, Ed Kissane of Wantagh, New York wrote, "I'm constantly fighting a flood of paper that comes into my life. I have a bedroom and a studio and I try to keep the areas clear, but it grows every day like a giant amoeba. I try to downsize but I'm losing. The piles of paper diminish my time at the easel. (Magazines, book reviews, etc.) There is always something to read and once again the creative moments lose out. Any suggestions?"

Thanks, Ed. Whenever I hear this one I think "avoidance system." I once knew a painter who subscribed to all the magazines, including ones in foreign languages he didn't understand. His wholesale subscriptions kept him easel-free for several decades. One day he thought he might paint, but it was too late. That night he subscribed to the big bundle in the sky.

"Moody Blues" 16x20 oil on acrylic underpainting canvas
 For self-employed artists, desire needs to trump distraction. Even regular checks in the mail shouldn't hinder an artist from his self-appointed rounds.

There's something else as well. Too many art magazines may be bad for you. It's great to keep informed of the latest trends in New York, London and Paris, but what about the trending of your own creativity? Too much awareness of what's out there can give an artist a dose of, "What's the use? If everybody else is so wonderful, what chance is there for little old me?"

"Kindred Spirits I" 24x30 acrylic on canvas
How does one act against these common self-destructive tendencies? Taking into account that personal progress may have something to do with available talent or ego-drive, here are a few ideas:

·         Begin work before you're fully awake.
·         Name and claim your own creative processes.
·         Fall in love with your daily work habits.
·         Take time for creative novelty and exploration.

·         Teach yourself the arts of multitask and multi-track.
·         Alternate energetic activity with relaxation and calm.
·         Live in the work of your own making, not that of others.
·         Pencil in projects and set the unconscious mind turning.
·         Have your magazines delivered somewhere else.

The story of individual progress is largely one of moving from the business of being entertained to the business of entertaining yourself. Blessed are those whose main entertainment is their work.

"First Daffodil" 16x20 acrylic on canvas
PS  Esoterica: I'm laptopping you from Yu Yuan (Garden of Peace and Comfort) in Shanghai, China. Koi circle among the yellow and white lotus as a rhododendron drops petals, forming a miniature fleet that moves slowly away on the stillness of the pond. A green heron waits for my thoughts from a nearby rocky ledge, and I'm remembering a kiosk just outside the dragon wall hawking magazines and newspapers printed in Mandarin and Cantonese. Alone in this inner fragrance, I'm considering the nature of passion.
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*(c) Copyright 2013 Robert Genn. If you wish to copy this material to other publications or mail lists, please ask for permission by writing Thanks for your friendship.