Thursday, February 28, 2019

Inspiration Transformation by Guest Blogger Sandra Duran Wilson, Author of Awakening Your Creative Soul Book and Online Courses

Your art will be found in the hidden corners and crevices of your soul. It won’t hit you over the head, it will whisper your name. Learn to listen and see with fresh eyes. Expand your perceptions and invite your muse to join you in a grand adventure. Taken from chapter 1 of Awakening Your Creative Soul by Sandra Duran Wilson.

Click HERE to go to Awakening Your Creative Soul Courses

 I believe that everyone has creativity dwelling inside them. Acknowledge this creativity no matter what form it may take: music, dance, cooking, storytelling, painting, writing, decorating or even listening. Everyone has something they are good at and enjoy. Art is a life saver and inspiration is the seed that grows into creativity. Inspiration begins with looking, listening, seeing and feeling. I have synesthesia which is a crossing of the senses. I associate colors with music and numbers have sounds. Sometimes a memory will have a taste, or a shape will trigger a response to a memory. Most people can make similar cross associations when they try. Smell is the most primal sense and it can awaken a long-forgotten memory. A flower whose scent reminds you of your grandmother, or someone’s voice awakens a memory of a long lost relative. When we take the time to pay attention a whole new world opens.

 I grew up in a small town and in a time where there were no AP classes. I have been an artist my whole life, but I never had art classes in school. I had mentors, but I didn’t take an art class until I went back to school in my 30’s. In some ways this was a boon for my inspiration. I learned to tap into my imagination and exercise my creative muscle. The most important art lesson I learned was how to leap from one idea to the next. You may have heard the saying when all you see is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But, when you can imagine other uses for a hammer your imagination gives rise to inspiration. So how do you develop imagination and transform it into inspiration? I have come up with a few beginning steps. These have to do with transforming perceptions, but it is also important to take care of your physical needs and to allow space for inspiration to be born.

 1. Working your imagination muscle is just as important as working out the other muscles. We do cross training to help our bodies be in the best shape and this is also necessary for your inspirational development. Try learning a new skill, try a new medium or take a class that is fun but different than your usual form of creativity.

 2. The best gifts come in the strangest packages-Take a hurdle and make it a blessing. When I look back over my life the most important lessons I have learned did not come easily. I remember them because there was a struggle. The struggle opens a new door, a path I might not have followed otherwise. When a painting feels like it is a mess, feel free to partially cover it up and begin again.

3. Focus on where you want to go, do or be. Just like in downhill skiing, where you look is where you will go. Change your thoughts; change your beliefs. If you have been listening to negative self-talk, then change the story you are telling yourself. Post positive messages where you will see them throughout the day. Like a note on your monitor that says you are on the journey of your dreams. On your bathroom mirror it may say, smile, and in your studio, it may say, your paintings bring joy and beauty to others. Share them with the world.

 4. Get in synch with the light. Sleeping between the hours of 10 to 6 have scientifically shown to be the most advantageous hours to renew your body, recharge your mind and enhance your thinking powers. I used to work nights when I was young, and I never slept in synch with the sunlight. When I changed jobs, my body gravitated toward sleeping from 10 to 6 and my creativity, health and energy blossomed.

 5. Technology dos and don’ts-Know when to use it and when to lose it. I use a photo app for transforming my own images into something that will inspire a painting or sculpture. I put aside my electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime and I never have them in the room with me when sleeping.

 6. See with new eyes-This is from another chapter in my upcoming book. As a visual artist I am always looking around me for inspiration. I love textures and I use my camera to capture cracked surfaces, peeling paint and wonderous clouds. When I see the familiar images with fresh eyes, it jump starts my imagination. We used to play a game where we would take a common object and come up with new uses or ideas for it. They didn’t have to be reality based, just creative. A beret could become a frisbee, a swimming pool, a bowl or even a space ship.

 7. Mute the inner critic and let go of judgement. Dumb ideas reframed become limitless possibilities, which can lead to brilliance as we see in the previous exercise. But, the critic is going to want to raise its head. Imagine you have a remote control and when the critic pops up, hit the mute button.

 8. Invite Curiosity out for a date and remember to see with the wonder of a child. Allow yourself a play date to follow your imagination. Perhaps you go to the zoo or the park and play on the swings. When you allow yourself to see with the curiosity of a child, you will see wonderful things.

 9. Most importantly, dump perfection. When you let this go, then anything is possible.

 Remember to enjoy the journey, this is what creating is about.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

What is Art - Inspire Article by Holly Hunter Berry

What is Art?

This question was asked by my Art History Professor and I believe we never came up with an answer that satisfied her and all the class. “What is Art?” and “What is an Artist?” are two questions that can be polarizing and in today’s world with so much division it is not necessary or helpful to create yet more  divisions. Let’s agree that there are many opinions and they range from academic scholars with numerous letters after their names to the heartfelt opinion of an individual just wanting to express appreciation for an object created that is pleasing to them.

I create art and I have added the label “artist” to my business card because I believe it is a truth. As a child I was always fascinated with the idea that I could create something that gave me satisfaction not only in the process of creating it but also find pleasure in viewing the finished creation.

My inspiration was objects around me that I could spend hours staring at and patiently rendering on paper with pencil, crayon or paint. As time went on I developed my own “signature” of application style and of course it has and will always evolve in alignment with my growth as an artist.

As an adult my position as a self described artist is one of a business owner and also as just a human creating as I was created to do. We all create, period. Why do I call myself an artist, why do say I create art? I can’t separate the creating process from my belief that I was created by God and that the act of creating is spiritual in it’s purest form. I call myself an artist because I am a painter and I create paintings to the best of my ability and am aware that the label “artist” is self appointed.

I believe that although I am capable of pursuing various other careers I was made with the passion to make things of beauty and my chosen form of expression is with paint. I look back over my life and now see that when I wasn’t able to express myself with my materials then there was an anxiety and sense of loss.

I, like most people, have experienced losses both emotional and physical and they have impacted me in such a way that I was either not available to paint or I was not capable. These were dark times for me and I felt I didn’t recognize who I was. 

What are the steps that I took initially to become someone that aligns themselves with the title of artist and what are the steps I took after suffering severe injuries and other traumas? The answers are fairly similar due to the extreme loss and sense of starting over after the events.

First, to anyone that is interested in pursuing the act of creating I believe that we are gifted with the passion to create and to honor that we are to trust that we are capable and teachable. Yes, I said teachable because I believe that we are not necessarily gifted in the knowledge of how to create but simply the desire to. We can all learn the “craft” of painting or your chosen form of expression but the passion keeps us going and tells us we are right where we belong. We have to spend time learning how to express ourselves either in a classroom, with a mentor, by self exploration or a combination of these. The journey of learning and growing in your abilities as a creator is filled with joy and sometimes deep frustration but yet we feel alive when pursuing and lost when absent from our tools. Constantly working to improve our work and to push ourselves to best express our intention is part of the process as an artist. As an artist our internal growth is viewed by our outward expression and as a painter I find it interesting to look back over the years and view my growth and reflect on where I was during those years and look forward to new growth in the future.

Having to re-learn how to paint after a few injuries and traumas was very difficult and even depressing at times. I had no way of knowing if I would ever be able to paint again but what started the process of coming back was the unstoppable passion to paint that was planted in me. That passion pushed me to slowly take the baby steps needed to either remember how I used to paint or teach my brain new paths to use. Anyone that has experienced loss understands. I have not given up and I prefer to look at the times of struggle as a gift that pushed me harder and taught me to appreciate the passion for creating that lives in me.

Identify what method you would like to use to express your need to bring something into existence that wasn’t there before. There are many forms such as gardening, engineering, writing, singing, etc. and I am very happy that painting fills my soul and is my choice for expression. I have been able to  surround myself with my paints, brushes, canvas and watch paintings appear. There are stories and inspiration behind each painting and I leave it to it’s new owner to find the inspiration and/or add their own life experience to it’s meaning. The pleasure to  paint is amplified when a painting I  make finds a new home and is enjoyed by it’s new owner. We all win! 

I encourage anyone that has a curiosity about painting to look into learning the basics of painting and not give up. The method of painting that suits you will appear and will fill you with such satisfaction! I am so very grateful to live as a painter and to also be able to work as a teacher and thus give back by helping others find their creative voice!

Holly Hunter Berry