Tag Archives: art

Those Who Can, Do AND Teach

There is a saying: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

What a load of bollocks.

It’s said as an insult; a derogatory, snide remark to elevate one person and denigrate another.

As a teacher, it’s particularly insulting because it’s my profession, my career, my calling. To teach is to pass on knowledge, information, insight, technique, skills, habits.

To say those who can’t, teach, is to abrogate responsibility of all people to teach one another. 

Fundamentally, every interaction is teaching. We give it different names or titles like coach, mentor, professor, guru, but the interaction is the dissemination of knowledge and the acquiring of skills.

Teaching is an aspect of our relationships with one another. As parents we teach our children right from wrong, good from bad. We teach them to tie shoelaces, ride bikes, make sandwiches, treat people with dignity and respect, how to make friends. We should also teach them to create. Never let a child feel like creativity is a waste of time.

There are skilled and gifted teachers in every creative endeavour and every profession. While they may not receive the praise and accolades of some of their peers at the higher echelons, or their names are not well known, their work is far more significant. They allow the next generation to stand on their shoulders and see further. In turn, they pass on their skills and knowledge to the next generation, hoist them onto their shoulders and help them see further still.

To teach is to create. It creates interest, passion, wonder, curiosity, desire, engagement, questions. It creates a learner.

A student is never greater than the master. No, a master should ensure that the student IS greater than the master. This is creativity. This is teaching. Equip the student with the necessary skills and understandings to excel.

Explore the “family tree” of an artist in whatever medium. See where they came from, who they learned under, what ideas they developed and passed on. Know the origins of your art. 

Understand you can teach someone. It doesn’t require a degree, time in a classroom. Teaching is done in the quiet moments of conversation, time shared over tea and doughnuts.

Those who can, do AND teach. 

 

The Significance of Creativity

The Significance of Creativity, or to put it another way, creativity creates significance (the noun/verb, subject/verb is a little awkward, not to mention the repetition. Oh, the vagaries of the English language).

Creativity is an act that begins with you, as an internal locus of control. It is inwardly focused, a way of understanding who you are, what you stand for and what you believe in. 

What Does Creativity Create in You?

Whether you’re at the start of your creative journey, been at it for a little while or have carved highways for others to follow, creativity creates four things within an individual: significance, community, conversation and legacy.

Significance

* Creativity creates an understanding of who you are.

Perhaps you started creating to work out the impact of a significantly emotional event in your life or as a way of exploring new ideas. 

Whatever the reason, it forms a significant part of who you are, what you identify with and how it is manifested in your creativity.

It is intensely personal, even private, and may never be shared with anyone else. It does not negate the significance of who you are. As intensely personal as creativity is, when shared with others, it gives them an insight into who you are. You have purpose and meaning, a spiritual dimension to your life.

Community

* Creativity is not a field limited to the individual.

It is often done as an individual but you should not be without a community.

Finding like-minded people as a support helps you continue what you are doing. They are a back up for when life is brutal and you want to chuck it all away. They are your confidantes and encouragers. They are also those who will love you deeply and tell you the truth about your work, especially when it sucks and needs more work.

In turn, you can teach others and expand the creative community.

Conversation

* talk to people about what you do and why.

You have a cause to champion, a positive reason to speak into people’s lives. It’s not all about you, dominating the conversation about your most recent creative project or endeavour. If people are willing to listen, speak. 

However, can you steer the conversation around to what makes your listener creative? Can you open up their mind to the possibilities of a creative project? Can you encourage them to take up an old hobby, long neglected, or aim for something new, something they have always wanted to do?

Legacy

* your work is a testament to others.

It is your character imprinted onto your creative work like children; lived, learned and loved, cherished as valuable and positive traits to have. Your commitment to others as teacher, or encourager, facilitator, supporter, collaborator.

Contribute your verse and know the significance creativity plays in your life and potentially in the life of others.

The Selfie and Art

The Selfie Generation and The Misunderstanding of Art
 
While away on holidays the thought of the ubiquitious selfie struck me as an indicative misunderstanding of the way art functions in society.  Without giving it too much thought I put the random thoughts to twitter.Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.37.14 pm

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 9.37.25 pm 
There has been commentary on the narcissism of the selfie, and the selfie generation. Self portraits are nothing new in terms of the history of art but the selfie has predominated in a digital age and the shift in societal thinking. It is nothing more than self-aggrandisement.
The selfie misses the vital point of art and its function in society as a whole and the community on a smaller level, leading to this statement:
 
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Ultimately I don’t care about the photos of yourself, or of your food, or your beverage, or any other piece of ennui you care to photograph and post on social media. What I do care about is the image you have carefully and thoughtfully constructed in order to tell a story.
It can be a photograph, a drawing, a doodle, a sketch, done with crayons, pencils, textas, salt and pepper, the spilt milk on the table and played with to create a pattern. 
The fact is, the art is deliberate and has a purpose. The fact a company can sell a book of Kim Kardashian selfies says a lot about the disposable artistic culture we live in. We have monetised narcissism which diminishes the value of art as a whole and what people are willing to pay to contribute to a vibrant arts culture. The same thing can be said for reality tv celebrities and their ‘biography.’ It cheapens the literary culture and pushes publishing to look for the next quick cash cow they can milk then slaughter. 
If we want art to have longevity it must have purpose, definition and an audience. A selfie has none of them.
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There is a place for art for the individual and the self. But it is not art to be shared publicly. It can be shared with a few select people but not for the whole community. I don’t show the scraps of sentences found littered in my notebook or my practice pieces to the readers of my blog (unless I am using it to illustrate a point). This is the art for myself. Only when the piece is completed, edited, refined will I show it to my audience. I know what is done for myself and what is done for my audience. 
By all means, take selfies and share them with your audience. Just don’t cal it art.
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 Feel free to disagree with me in the comments; I would like your feedback on this.

What’s your opinion on the selfie as ‘art’? 

Art Is An Introduction

Meeting a piece of art (I am defining ‘art’ to mean literature, music, painting, sculpture, photography, dance; in fact any creative endeavour) for the first time it is an introduction to the artist and his/her work, the rationale and purpose behind the work and what it means to the artist.

Here’s a thought to bounce around with you: art is an introduction, then a conversation, a relationship, an understanding, a sharing.

A tangent to start with: I suspect much of the reaction to an artist’s work stems not from an offence created by the composer (unless that is the specified intention) but more from the responder’s own set of values, attitudes and beliefs. 

In the media an artist is forced to apologise for an artistic statement they have made regardless of their intention. In the past week, recording artist Sia has issued an apology about the content of her most recent video clip featuring Shia Labeouf and a young girl engaged in interpretive dance. The complaints focused on the age of the girl, allegedly 12, and the state of undress of Shia. 

This article is a good summation of how people react without understanding. Even the writer of article shows his lack of understanding. Sia Sorry Over Pedophilia Upset

It didn’t take in to consideration the content of the song, the purpose of the lyrics or the meaning of the video clip itself. 

A glib summation: TRIGGER WARNING – it’s your fault I’m offended. 

An artist’s work should be questioned, interrogated, debated. But we have to also confront WHY we are offended and feel uncomfortable. 

I remember the controversy surrounding the artistic work, Immersion (Piss Christ) when I was in my late teens/early twenties. The art was a small plastic crucifix immersed in a yellow liquid.

It was exhibited in Australia and two attempts were made to vandalise the artwork. There were threats made against the artist and the gallery. 

It is a significant religious icon and thus, hold supreme importance to Christians and Catholics. I can’t find the reference now but a friend had done some research  into the artist’s intention, and it was not to be sacrilegious. Crucifixion, as a Roman form of punishment, was barbaric and intended as an act of humiliation. The artist had made a parallel in the modern age to another act of humiliation: to urinate on someone is to denigrate and proclaim that person worthless. 

It also means having an understanding of the significance of the icon, why it is important and how it is used. The New Testament writer of the Book of First Corinthians understood the complexity, and controversy, of crucifixion: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Therefore, as an act of salvation it is contradictory.

Therefore art is an introduction.

Then it is a conversation between the artist and the responder, coming to a common ground. The first thing you do at a party when you are meeting new people is to ask for their name, what they do, find out what they are interested in or passionate about. Once you have established commonalities, a conversation begins.

From there it develops into a relationship. Aside: you can tell if a conversation is going nowhere as you run out of topics, lacking a connection. And it’s ok to not like a piece of art, to have no connection with it. But know why you don’t connect with it.

If there is a connection, you seek to develop it, leading to an understanding of the artist, his/her worldview, purpose, intention, vision. You see out other works, attend other performances, read more novels, and even if it confronts you, there is still a point of understanding.

And all of this leads to sharing. When you have taken the time to cultivate a relationship, to understand the artist’s vision and purpose, you can eloquently share your love of the artist’s work.

Art can, and indeed should, offend. The right to free speech entitles that. My caveat on that is offensive, racist, sexist bollocks should not be tolerated. Call it out for the garbage that it is.

It is the conversation we engage in with the art that makes it beneficial, even if we do not like it. Saying “I’m offended” reveals more about your own insecurities, values and attitudes than it does about an attempt to understand the art. You have every right to be offended but have a sustained and logical reason to defend your proposition.

Art is an introduction, then a conversation, a relationship, an understanding, a sharing.

Have you been introduced to any great art lately?

if:book – Open Changes

A little while ago I mentioned I had submitted a couple of pieces to the if:book Open Changes project.

I am proud to say I have been included in this project and the artwork for the poster has been released. Included in this wonderful piece of art are a whole bunch of fabulous writers I know.

if:book Open Changes Poster

if:book Open Changes Poster

It is based on the spectacular work of Kathleen Jennings whose art work I seriously adore. Check out her blog and sees the inspiration behind the poster you see above. 

I highly recommend following Kathleen on twitter (@tanaudel) as you will get to see some of her amazing sketches.

I can’t wait for my copy to arrive. I’ll be posting photos.

The A-Z of Suggestions for Creative People

To misquote Captain Barbossa says, “They’re not so much rules, as guidelines.”

There are multiple permutations of a creative alphabet; your ideas will probably be better than mine. But that’s kinda the point. Listen to the advice, apply it to your work and do it better. Then teach someone else to do it. Pass the knowledge on.

Appreciate new ideas.

Build a body of work.

Collaborate. Cooperate. Coordinate. Critique. Vanilla Ice has wise words when he says, “Stop, collaborate and listen.”

Define your goals as a creative person. Revisit them weekly, monthly, yearly.

Explore what you’re passionate about. And maybe what scares you. You know, for balance.

Foster creative relationships for collaboration, networking and developing the next generation of new artists.

Grow as an artist. Stagnation is for ponds and mosquitoes.

Hunger for the development of your craft and the improvement of your skills.

Inspire others to create because the world needs useless beauty; it is there because it is, and it exists and it is uniquely you.

Jump into new opportunities. But check the depth first.

Kill what distracts you: procrastination, doubt, fear, comparison, jealousy.

Listen at every opportunity. Gather wise counsel and feed your soul.

Meditate on your work, why you do it and write a manifesto.

Network because it’s dangerous to go alone.

Occupy a creative space and protect it.

Publish your work. Whether it’s through your blog when you’re starting out or selling it via Etsy, Ebay or e-commerce.

Query why you are creating. Have you lost sight of your purpose?

Rush a new piece of work and enjoy the frenzy of ideas splashed down like a sudden summer storm.

Spend your time wisely.

Trust in your teachers and mentors.

Understand you are not your creative project; it is an expression of how you see and understand the world.

Vanquish your fears and validate how you feel about what you create.

Welcome feedback, critique, commentary that will help you grow as a creative person.

Xerox another artist’s work to learn how it is created. But show no one else. Learn how to apply it to your own work.

Yoke yourself to an artist further along the road than you. Learn from their guidance that one day you may be yoked to a new artist to teach them.

Zealously demand your need to create; creativity is oxygen to you. Without it you would suffocate.

What would your alphabet of suggestions for creative people be? Write a list, post it to your blog and link back here for everyone to read.

I Found More Poetry Under The Lounge

 I find poetry in all kinds of places, often under the lounge and I found some more there recently.

Right now the end of winter is approaching here in the southern hemisphere (not that we had much of a winter where I live – what happened to those good old fashioned frosts we had as kids?) and with it the promise of hay fever, runny noses, itchy eyes and a cursing of all things frolicking. The first and last poems assembled here, Magnolias and Windy Days, are inspired by the wintery season.

Magnolias

As I drive past
The magnolia blooms
A thousand sunrises
Of pink to white and
A thousand sunsets
Of white to pink
Simultaneously

Standing By

I stand in the longest corridor
possible, pretending I’m Red 5
barrelling down the trench
avoiding laser blasts
to my office door

The Last Page

When you close a book
Do you think it will be
The final time?
Never to peer
Between the pages and
Read the tongues of men
Again

My Companion

I walked in darkness
But was never afraid
For I felt your hand
In mine, or around
my waist, looped over
my shoulder as my light

Generations

She watches
grandmother’s knitting
learns the art of rhythm
the pulse of long thin bones
curses the dropped stitch
like her grandmother

Windy Days

I imagine with each 
breath of wind
the trees ask
for our silence
a gentle ‘Shhhh’
simply to listen
to our own
heartbeat
Which poem resonates with you?