What a load of “ART” / The Art of Arting

Art is a loaded word.

Is it pretentious by default?

Or do you picture crafts and crayons and kid stuff? Or old person stuff?

It probably depends on your experience with art.

Personally, I think of art in terms of emotion, but not in a lofty way that raises it up above the “common man”, which is such a condescending term. It’s just that I think “art” no matter where you find it or even if it affects only you and nobody else, generates emotions (happiness, joy, sadness, longing, frustration, pity, love, etc).

I’m trying to redefine the way my mind reacts to the word.

Ideas vs Action / The Art of Arting

Idea guy. Problem solver. Abstract thinker.

Lacking action. Procrastinator. Unrealistic idealist.

These are me. My ideas can often just stay ideas. 

What is the difference between a person who just sets out and completes something and a person who struggles to follow through?

Perfectionism?

Fear?

Laziness?

Over-ambition?

I can relate to all of these reasons to some degree or another. I will explore these ideas more fully in future blog posts, but I just want this to sit with you for a second. Do you fit these descriptions? Why do you think these plague you? Or maybe when you have struggled in the past, what were the reasons? What helped you?

Yesterday’s Promises / The Art of Arting

Life has seasons. We don’t really see many of them coming and often they can whirl around and overlap, change quickly, and mix together. Sometimes an afternoon can feel like a different emotional or spiritual season than the rest of the day. Personally, I can sometimes fixate on the idea that things used to be less jumbled and confusing. That there was an “old normal” in my life that disappeared at some point, giving way to a more disjointed and complicated reality which feels more burdensome or overwhelmingly swift.

Honestly, there might be something to this. Age brings more responsibilities. Also, our awareness of the world and the problems therein are more pronounced. We’re more plugged in. We join society in a different way. But I think there are other things going on that, when addressed, can lessen the load.

  • Yesteryear might not have been quite as rosy as you remember. Which means this moment you are in may have elements that would bring you joy, if you cultivate them.
  • Busyness might be stealing your days. Find time to slow down. Eliminate certain distractions.
  • Make time for people. But know your limits, because you should also…
  • Make time for yourself – actual time to do things you want (and need) to do.
  • Put the phone away. You cannot be present if your mind is residing on a virtual plane.
  • Plan something. Something out of the ordinary. A nice thing to do for yourself or for somebody you love or for somebody who needs it. A date night. A camping trip. A time to be creative.

Give yourself and others grace.

Gut Feelings / The Art of Arting

How often in life has your gut feeling betrayed you?

Think it through.

I think circumstances can change; things can go from good to bad, bad to worse, and worse to better, but in spite of it all a gut feeling is something to be trusted or at least carefully considered. You might make a bad decision because you ignored your gut feeling, but what do you do now? Your brain might tell you one thing that is completely logical and it might stand to reason (especially biased reason), but what is your gut telling you? 

In my experience, the gut avoids hurting others, cruelty, serving oneself, and being a generally terrible decision-maker. If that’s not the case with you, maybe your gut has ingested too many spicy and salty foods. Try filling it with stuff that will create health.

And occasionally give it ice cream.

(Good) Experience Matters / The Art of Arting

I’m really beginning to find that the key to successful painting (or perhaps the key to success in anything) is the accumulating of experience. As a caveat, I think the value of experience will vary depending on important factors that are in the control of the individual. Here are my tips to get the most out of your experience:

  • Have a vision for what you’re attempting. This means a short-term vision for short-term things and long-term vision for long term things. And I mean “vision”, not “expectations”.
  • Experiment. Turn the dial all the way in each direction and see what happens.
  • Read to inform yourself. Videos will teach you, but reading will bring it out from inside of you. There’s a difference there and I want you to find it.
  • Embrace the idea that you will make mistakes. With a teachable attitude, this will grow your character and abilities more than success.
  • Be flexible. You will have an off-day. Let it happen.
  • Be gracious. You need your support through the process.
  • Keep your facts and opinions straight. It’s a fact that fat-over-lean painting techniques have worked well for preservation, material bonding, and successful painting. It’s an opinion that you “have” to paint a certain way.
  • Keep your head up, but your self in check.
  • Always be patient.

Painting White Right / The Art of Arting

If you don’t already know, white has a tendency to lower the vibrancy of hues. Most amateur artists use it to lighten colors, but it can create an overall deadening effect because it can suck the life out of your painting. Three tips:

– Titanium white is cool in hue and dominates colors.
– Zinc white (mixing white) holds colors more, but has a lower tinting strength.
– Experiment mixing your colors with lighter non-white hues to see if they will give the effect you want without the side effects of white.

Just know that white will always be one of your most used paints, regardless of your techniques.

Perspiration ≠ Inspiration / The Art of Arting

If you haven’t felt inspired in a long time, maybe it’s because you’re rushing around too much. Find one of the things that speaks to you, rejuvenates you, something you feel you’ve needed for some time and have chosen not to do, maybe because it doesn’t always sound as appealing as something easier and more distracting, and do it for a little bit. For me it’s just a little outdoor silence, maybe sitting at the park, maybe reading and reflecting. For you it could be something completely different, although you might need to do something that lets your mind wander or find a sense of calmness, like a balm for the constant. Schedule that time, if you have to. See if it helps.

Blurb / The Art of Arting

Writing a blurb is challenging. I guess it’s appropriate that this is my first entry in this series, because it’s the one that brings both the least pressure and the most pressure, causing me to second-guess what thoughts I announce to the world and how I present them. I’ve run through quite a few ideas:

-how comforting a creek is
-how not to write a blurb
-what kind of art advice could people use?
-maybe something about hearing my neighbor singing while doing the dishes

Ultimately it doesn’t matter. This is really about getting the ball rolling, which could, of course, be profound in some way, if I didn’t draw attention to it maybe being profound. I think that might be a key to art. Undersell what you’re doing and hope that somebody reads into it. Or maybe put an idea into it and see if anybody can find it without you pointing it out. Both of which I’m struggling to do here.

A Video Game About Farming is Changing my Methods / The Art of Arting

One of the challenges of creating content on the internet is that excitement can peter out pretty quickly, either from the creator or from the audience. Expectations, time, interruptions, and so on can all derail a project or series that was conceived and initiated with the best of intentions. Personally, one of the most difficult obstacles is in my dedication to long and in-depth projects. I can easily get too ambitious and take too many things on, leading to distractions and broken promises, or at least a lack of a satisfying finish. My days can fill up with a mix of different pursuits, as well as the time I grant myself to decompress from them (which results in a lot of wasted time on the internet), all amounting to a lot of incomplete work.

I recently have been having an experience that is making me reassess my methods a little bit. This might sound weird, but it’s all because of a video game called “Stardew Valley”. The game is about managing daily tasks in order to generate rewards and build up a farm. At the beginning of the game, the player character inherits a plot of land that is overgrown, with zero crops, zero money, zero energy, and a whole lot of potential. Before too long, the days fill up and the skills improve, the land gets cleared and crops get planted, the harvests are reaped and the money is earned, leading to more improvements and a cycle of reward. What starts out as a very overwhelming prospect of renewal turns into a daily ritual of care, generosity, gain, and creativity.

Now there are lots of rabbit holes I could go down when comparing a video game to real life. There are things that don’t cross over perfectly. However, for my purposes, the lesson I would like to implement in my own endeavors is one of routine. I have always struggled with building a routine for myself, either because I try to do too much or I fear that I’m losing certain freedoms. I’m finding it a more attractive premise for the mere fact that with a reasonable routine, tailor-made for me and my preferences, shortcomings, quirks, and desires, freedom will come along with satisfaction. Freedom very rarely leads to satisfaction when there is no work or effort involved. I’ve had my fair share of days that I looked forward to for weeks, where I was going to have the whole day to myself, doing whatever I wanted, saying “yes” to all of the leisure and “no” to all of the constructive routine, all culminating in a day that felt wasted and disappointing. There’s very little more defeating than a day that was meant to be restful and delightful turning into a day of waste that goes by too quickly and agonizingly.

So, I’m building in small daily goals. Slam dunks. Things I can point to and say, “That was satisfying.” That was fun. That will build upon the one I did yesterday. The one I do tomorrow will build upon this one. And so on.

And here’s the first of my goals:

My goal is to post a thought everyday. I will post it here and on my website. If I can do this everyday for a month, I have another aspect that I would like to build into it.

Thank you all for sticking with me as I continue to discover what I have to offer. Honestly, I’m less interested in “creating content” and more interested in doing things that amount to something helpful. The whole “content” thing is getting tiresome. I encourage you to keep finding the things that bring meaning and joy to your life and the lives of those around you.