I’m Still Standing — And So Are You

I just finished watching the 2019 movie Rocketman about the early days of writer/singer Elton John.

Everybody has heard of Elton John.

But not everybody knows the extent of his talent and his vision. I certainly didn’t.

I could (and still do) boogy around the living room to Crocodile Rock and Love Lies Bleeding in My Hands. I can get sappy with Candle In The Wind and twinkly romantic with Tiny Dancer.

The movie brought home just how many talented artists are out there in this big, wide world. Singers, dancers, lyricists, composers — the list is just as strong as painters, sculptors, and fabric artists. Just as much amazing talent. Just as much amazing dedication. Just as much sparkle as anyone who loves the Arts.

Watching movie Elton John play the piano as a child brought me back to my own childhood piano lessons. I was barely a blink in the eye of the piano world. Not even a full blink.

The real Elton was a child prodigy, teaching himself how to play the piano when he was only four years old. He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London. The rest is history.

I sometimes wonder if we pay as much attention to our children in the arts as much as we pay attention to them in math or economics. Talk always floats around about cutting funding for the Arts — it’s the first program to be cut in grade school and high school when funds run out, and not the first career parents encourage for their kids.

Things are probably a lot looser these days — but they are probably much harder, too. A lot more competition, a lot more talent. With social media and U-Tube and thousands more movies and concerts and recordings made per month than during the 70s, it’s hard to get by on talent alone.

That is why, when I see raw talent, whether young or old, domestic or foreign, I zoom in on it. Feel it. Explore it. Share it. Even if it’s only in passing, I find pleasure in those whose talents are fresh and raw and evolving and turning and growing.

Elton John had growing pains, too. Drugs, alcohol, dealing with his sexuality, his family — all played a role in honing his talent and legacy. Turning pain into perfection often works on many levels.

But we don’t have to always hit bottom before we hit the top — sometimes a developing artist has a fairly stable life.

That’s why, no matter what you have gone through, that part of your life is over. You can learn from it, reflect on it, then let it go. You take the beauty of who you are today, and let that guide you through whatever form of art calls you. 

You may not be as flamboyant and successful as Elton John, but you are every bit as imaginative. You and your art are powerful expressions of your growth and understanding of yourself and the world around you.

 

You know I’m still standing better than I ever did
Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid….. ~Elton John

 

You Can’t Go Wrong With the Arts

Since we all can’t be out dancing in the street or go to the movies or even hang at the pub with our friends, what are you all doing to keep busy and out of trouble?

I am hoping you have either found a hobby/art/creative outlet for your cooped up creativity, or are working on the outlet you already have.

I remember hesitating and angsting and worrying about researching and writing my next novel. It was too overwhelming. Too confusing. My real life and pretend life were getting too mixed up.

Has that ever happened to you? 

You decide to step out of your comfort zone and try something bigger, better, more challenging, only to be knocked back by the logistics of the whole thing?

I was ready to give up. After all — who can buck the tide? Climb the mountain? Swim the ocean?

Well, after I calmed down, I found out that ~I~ could buck the tide, etc., etc. 

All it took was taking a step back, then moving forward one step at a time. I’m still doing a lot of research before each chapter — I want it to sound right, feel right. 

And most importantly, I wanted to have fun with it.

You may get to a point where you can’t control where your story goes, what you really want your painting to look like. You might get frustrated at not being able to find exactly the right shape or color or material to make your work move forward. 

And you do get to that point where you want to chuck it all in the garbage. After all, it’s easier to do something you know. Something you feel comfortable with.

I am living proof to not give up. To not listen to that little demon on your shoulder that tells you what you want just doesn’t exist.

The arts are a little easier to maneuver through than, say, swimming the ocean. It’s more creative, more forgiving, more expansive, more liberal. And you don’t have to risk life or death to make a point.

I hope that during this lock down quarantine period of your life you are taking care of what matters most in this world. You. Your creativity. Your mind.

Still tossing possibilities around? Stop tossing and start choosing. Make a poster or outfit or put together an art show or start a blog. Try learning that new piano piece or building that jewelry box — stop thinking about it and just do it. Don’t let fear intimidate you. 

Remember — you can’t go wrong with the Arts.

Any of them.

Let me know what projects you have finally undertaken …. 

Where Have My Bloggers Gone?

admin-ajax-phpMy method of reading/following blogs is of my own design. I don’t read every day, but rather pick an evening and read through as many as I can. Sometimes I click on “Manage” Reader and go through the list of names I’ve followed since I started blogging.

I was kind of sad this evening, for I clicked on a number of names and found a number of people who haven’t written in quite a while.

Where have they gone?

There are millions of bloggers one can follow out there — who knows what prompted me to follow A instead of B. What caught my interest as opposed to those that didn’t. Be honest. You can only read so much, follow so many people. You owe your allegiance, your attention, to the writers you really enjoy.

So what happened to those whose prose I enjoyed? Whose opinions I shared?

I imagine it’s what happens to most of us.

Life.

Our career changes, our family changes — our place in the writing world changes. Maybe we have burned out our point-of-view. Maybe our style has changed. We’ve turned into painters our needlepointers or quilters, our creativity exploding in new directions. Maybe we’ve had babies or found a new job. Maybe we’ve moved or got bored or started a new blog somewhere else. I don’t  think about the ultimate reason people have stopped writing….I like to believe in happily ever after. Like being immortal.

I’m always adding new reads to my list — but I do miss the old reads. I understand the need to move on, but I still like to linger in the shadows of the past.

There are times when I get the urge to just stop blogging, too. Like I’ve said all there is to say. That my readers really don’t get much from my writing. Yadda yadda. We all tell ourselves the same crap when we hit that plateau. But I soon come to my senses and see how much my writing in here helps me out there. Because of my continuous writing — here, there, and everywhere — I have become a better writer, and am now being given a chance to write at my place of employment.

Others continue writing because they’ve found redemption, release,  and rebirth through their words. They share information, research, spiritual thoughts, funny stories, poetry, recipes — whatever makes them happy. And we love them for it.

The world of creativity is a huge place. When you close one door, another opens. To those who have moved on from their blogs, go for it. Make your now the best you can make it. To those who are still looking for their place in the writing world, keep on blogging.

And  hey — drop me a line if you come on back.

 

 

Finding Dorothy’s Shoes

Ruby-slippers-wizard-of-ozI absolutely love when comments on one blog flow into thoughts and inspiration on another. That’s why I love following the writers I do.

In her blog, A Journey Called Life, (https://architar.wordpress.com), my friend Archita wrote a story called “A note from the evening” (https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-note-from-the-evening/). It is a first-person narrative to someone  — a friend, it seems — to that friend’s ego. To that friend’s mind. It has to be to their unconscious mind, for the conscious mind was not listening.

Her short tale explains all the motions and routines the narrator will do for the friend who never stops complaining. For the complaining is nothing new. The friend cannot see past her stubbornness to change her direction in life; the friend who insists the narrator has the banquet and the friend barely the leftovers.

It made me think and then think again. First I wondered if the friend was (figuartively) me…me in other situations. We all have the tendency to whine — life is never the bed of roses we dream of. But I hoped — still hope — that I have found a way out of that tedious state of blaming the world for some of my own bad decisions.

The more I thought, the more I realized that I have friends like that, too. I think we all do. People who just can’t get out of the whirlpool. People who don’t really want to get out of the whirlpool. That it’s easier to complain and point fingers than to do something about the situation.

Many situations are hard. There is no denying this. Life is hard. But life is also good. There is proof of that all around us.

You will continue your story- about children, about how busy you really are, about how you never had any help, about how only death can bring you your peace. Then you will ask me if I watched your favorite show on TV.

I often wonder how people get out of the whirlpools they swim in. It takes determination. It takes work. My dad and father-in-law both gave up smoking after 50 years of two packs a day. That wasn’t a walk through the roses, believe me. My friend is going back to school to get her childhood education degree, and she is in her mid-50s. Another friend has had multiple operations on knees and shoulders and had cancer in his pancreas and still manages to go camping with us a couple times a year.

Who is to decide what is too heavy a burden to bear? Who is to decide what is enough help?

Let me tell you, death looks terrible on poems. Death looks more terrible when it’s just news. Death never gives peace. Life is peace. In living, in grief, in celebrating, in friendships- you find what death lacks- a life.

Archita and I bantered back and forth in the comment section about when it’s time to listen, when it’s time to intervene, when it’s time to walk away.  It’s not easy to know the difference between being a friend, a sounding board, and an enabler. From drinking to being unemployed to being divorced, the path out of the darkness isn’t an easy one to find. But I believe we all have that inner knowledge that lets us know where to draw the line between all of the above.

I suggested she suggest the magic release of Creativity to her friend. I  know so many who have turned to the Arts to save their souls, to release their souls, to find their souls. That’s why I encourage it so much. It doesn’t matter if you crochet or make scrapbooks or write poetry. Your love for artistic freedom makes you better and better. A better artist, a better person, a better friend. Archita found her own soul again through creativity — she only hoped her friend could, too.

But that’s another story.

Do go and read Archita’s blog if you find time. You might find yourself in her shoes. Which, in the end,  just might be Dorothy’s shoes.

Trial and Error is Better Than a Bottle of Whine

trialI had almost a whole blog finished this evening, one about deer ticks and broken teeth and watching Face Off. But when I reread it, all I saw was creatively written whine.  The beautiful thing about typing on a computer is that with one sweep I can delete it all.

But what about second thoughts? What if I destroy something that one day may be my Pulitzer Prize?

I imagine my friends in other arts have the same dilemma. Graphic art, photography, writing, pottery — there’s always those pieces that you gave your heart and soul to and it still sucks. So you redo it. Rewrite it. Re-form it.

But how many times to you redo it?

I would love to hear from my graphic artist friends or sculptor friends or my scrapbooking friends. How many times to you redo something to get it “perfect”? And if you DO redo it, HOW do you do it?

Writing is simple yet complex. Often my stories, novels, poems, and other ditties start out with notes or research of some kind. Not like the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I try and create an ocean of information so that I can eventually reduce it to a cup full of water. Quite like my research for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Writing about Doors? Collect images of 30 different doors so I can choose 8. Writing about Nail Art? Download 20 images so you can share 7. Writing about life in 1880? Better check out things like electricity, transportation, and currency, even if the reference is only a couple of sentences long.

I keep every other version of my creations, cutting here, adding there, rearranging when needed. As the years go by I get rid of the middle versions — I’ve either moved forward and created a masterpiece, or it just hasn’t “done it” for me. I have a computer full of half-formed ideas, research that goes nowhere, poetry that needs real work. I decide what I want to work on, what I still need to research, and what was a great idea at the time but now, no thank you.

How do you deal with developing your craft? Do you network? Do you draw a basic image and then play with that same image until you get what you want? Do you you have pages and pages of canvas that hold various versions of your final masterpiece? Do you have stacks of pottery that look nothing like what you wanted to create?

My notebooks are glimpses of my thoughts through time. I’ve kept some since I started writing in earnest years ago. It’s fun going back and seeing my thought processes through the years. Sometimes I go back and reignite the embers that once burned brightly. Other times I just smile and see why the ideas are still only in a notebook.

I think beginner crafters can learn from our paths of trial and error. The thrill of creating something unique is made from the sweat and love and honesty that comes from somewhere deep inside. Some pick one idea, one idea, and stick with it from beginning to end. Others have trial and error experiences, realizing a particular path was pretty much a dead end from the beginning. So we choose a different path. A different path in the same endless woods.

I feel so much better when I write about the Craft. If I ever unlocked the door to the Hallway of Infinite Doors, I would find worlds that I love almost as well — drawing, stenciling, jewelry making, gardening. I would never have a life because my life would exist in the next dimension — the ethereal one. The Creative Arts one. I only hope you feel that way about your Craft too.

Oh, btw — the tick bite wasn’t infected, my broken tooth gets fixed in the morning, and Face Off is down to its final three.

Life is good.

The Twilight Zone

200There was a Twilight Zone marathon on television over the New Year’s holiday. It was a delight in its black-and-white originality. Like the original Star Trek, the episodes are pretty dated; stiff acting and unrealistic props make the episodes occasionally uneasy to watch.  But if you get past the technical blips of 50 years ago, you will see the beginning of real science fiction.

In 1955, Rod Serling branched out into television script writing with the TV business drama Patterns. Patterns earned Serling his first Emmy Award. His second Emmy win came a year later, with the 1956 production ofRequiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.

What I didn’t know was that during the late 1950s, Serling fought the CBS network when they insisted on editing his controversial scripts.

In a television era today where the bloodier/sexier/bolder the better, it’s hard to imagine such censorship laid the early foundation of storytelling. Fortunately for us, instead of continuing to fight inevitable censorship, Serling turned from realism to the sci-fi fantasy genre in 1959 with the iconic series The Twilight Zone.

Side by side in the world with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling was able to take the politics of the day and turn the truth into something real and foreboding. The themes that ran through The Twilight Zone continue to be relevant in 2015. Our horrors, our problems, may seem much more complicated these days, but we are not so different than those who feared the Cold War or alien invasions.

The real purpose of this blog was to read the “description” of Rod Serling’s leap to other worlds. It sums up the reason why writers write. No matter if it’s biography, science fiction, poetry, mysteries, or editorials. The reason we write is to escape into the “fifth” dimension. That world that exists beside us, beneath us, inside of us. Whether we can see it or not, the story is there. No matter where creativity lies, it’s waiting there for us. To open the door. To open the mind.

Listen:

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call “The Twilight Zone”.

Isn’t that ALL art?

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Clark Little

Water. So soothing. So refreshing. So tumultuous. A friend one day, an adversary the next. Yet it makes up 70% of our bodies.

 

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I have seen hundreds of beautiful images of water. Waterfalls, lakes, oceans. One is as  breathtaking as the next. But when I came across Clark Little’s take of water, I found a new inspiration from it.

 

clark little4

 

Clark not only takes pictures of water, of waves, but takes them from an angle only surfers can see. And in his creativity, he captures not only the force of water but the peace that lies just beyond.

 

clark_little_sunset_barrel_wave

 

Whenever I see pictures like this, I imagine a story to go with it. But then again, any extraordinary image can have a story to go with it. I love pictures that make me ask, “How do they do that?”

 

SWNS_WAVE_110010008.jpg

 

Alas, like the magician and their tricks, if you knew how it was done, a bit of the sparkle goes with it. I would rather look at something in awe and keep the childlike wonder of how it works.

 

clark_little_sandy_barrel_wave

 

 

You can find more of Clark’s wonderful photography at http://www.clarklittlephotography.com/. And go ahead — take your time — wander through the waves. A whole new world exists just on the other side of it.

 

 

 

Creative Face Offs

They sculpt! They mold! They paint! They foam! And they are amazing!

I’m always a television season or six behind the rest of the world, but when I do catch up I find the wildest, greatest stuff. Only last week I recorded the latest season (Season 6) of Face Off. It’s a wonderful little show on SciFi TV that showcases another one of the “Arts”.

According to the IMDB, Face Off is a competition/elimination series exploring the world of special-effects make-up artists and the unlimited imagination which allows them to create amazing works of living art.

Now, I’ve been a fan of  shows that highlight personal creativity for years. Take cooking shows. The Iron Chef Japan was one of my earliest introductions into the exquisite beauty of food. Food as Art, as they say. Today’s contestants on Iron Chef America, Master Chef, and even Chopped, create these masterpieces that leave your jaw extended and your mouth open like a bass. I always find myself saying, “Oh…I could do that…couldn’t I?” Or “What didn’t I think of that?” Knowing darn well that I’d need a Master Kitchen, unlimited budget, a plethora of cookbooks and magazines, and a budget the size of a Presidential Dinner just to be clever on the plate.

Face Off is the “Master Chef” of sculpturing, molding, and painting. These contestants do things I only dream of. Each week they are assigned a different “creation”: dragons, wizards, robots. They have to come up with their own design, then use a warehouse full of props, materials, and models to create pieces that would easily fit in any blockbuster movie.

faceoff 1The most amazing part of this show – aside from the raw talent and imagination – is that these are (to my way of living) KIDS! They are 24. 26. 31. There was an oldie at 41. I can hardly remember what I was DOING at 27 – getting married, I think – but it certainly wasn’t creating magic like this, that’s for sure. They have cherry-colored hair and sticky up hair and mustaches and yellow Mohawks. They look like the guy next door or the girl from Planet 9. But they all share the love of creativity, something that runs through all of us.

I am just in awe of anyone who has such phenomenal talent to be able to create something from nothing but their imagination. I happen to be a proponent of writing, but there are so many other artistic expressions out there that I am often in that jaw dropping/bass-mouthed state of being.

I encourage you to constantly take a fresh look at the world around you. There are so many beautiful self expressions out there — in words, in sculpture, in jewelry.  Encourage everyone who has even an inkling to be artistic to do so. Whether it’s your grandbaby, your girlfriend, or your grandfather. Get them out there and get them to embrace their artsyness.face off 1

You will find it’s a rewarding feeling on both sides. And who knows what magic will blossom along the way?

 

 

all images courtesy of Face Off and the SciFi Channel