Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free Art

No I'm not talking about the guy who got in trouble last year and ended up in the penitentiary.

I'm talking about winning a piece of really fine artwork. Here's how, in 4 easy steps:

Number 1. Read all of the instructions. (Yeah, I know. I've watched you put stuff together before.)

Number 2. After you've read all the directions, click on this link - Off The Highway. Remember, read all the directions first.

Number 3. Look around the Off The Highway blog. There's some pretty cool stuff there.

Number 4. Leave a comment. In order to do this, you'll notice that at the bottom of each post there's a comment link. Click on this link and a box will pop up. Here's where you get to say "hello", or "wow, you two artists are really good!" or "I wanna Free Art" or something clever like that.

That's it. Honest.
Here's the deal: Canadian artist Mavis Penney and I have been painting every week day for the last 40 days. We agreed to paint for 100 days, so we're very nearly half-way through. We're learning tons, and having a blast. We've reached our terror barrier and blown right past it. A blog has been created called Off The Highway to chronicle our journey, and we've shared our successes - and not-so-successes with you. We're pretty excited about what's been happening, and are ready to celebrate. Here's where you come in.

Follow the directions above. We'll put the names of everyone who comments from Day 1 to Day 49 into a very stylish hat. On Day 50, May 8th, 2009, our half-way mark, we'll draw 2 names out of the hat. Those two very lucky people will receive one of the Day 50 paintings. How cool - and easy - is that? We'll even pay shipping to mail them out. All the winner has to do is provide a frame and a wall. Then stand back and be happy.
Even if you don't win anything, you'll still get to hang out with the cool kids. Don't worry, we won't swamp you with junk email and stuff. We just want to share in our delight in this project.
So join us, won't you, on our journey to paint 100 paintings in 100 daze, er, days. Come along and see what we see just Off The Highway.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Big 5-0

Yesterday was as perfect a day as one can get on this planet. The sky was achingly blue, the kind of blue that is so pure and rich and complete that it's impossible to describe. The sun was deliciously warm, with barely a breeze to ruffle the new grass.

To celebrate, I wrote a song. It's to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." I've changed it to "The Twelve Hours of Spring", in honor of those perfect 12 hours of absolutely flawless springtime weather. Sing it with me, won't you? And let's start it at the end. We don't have all day.

In the twelfth hour of springtime my true love gave to me...

hyacinth in bloom

breezes softly wafting

buds peeking meekly

squirrels dancing wildly

trees budding leaflets

cardinals a-calling

clouds white as cotton

Tooooo-lips pure red!

gold finches flitting

neighbor mowing loudly

daffodils a-bloom

(drum roll please)

and a sky that's as blue as can beeeeeeeee!

And if that isn't enough to get you excited about spring, Mavis and I are getting ready to celebrate the Big 5-0.

We're at Day 35 in our quest to discover what's Off The Highway, our 100 paintings in 100 days project. When we reach Day 50, the Big 5-0, on May 8th, 2009, we'll immortalize the occasion by giving away that day's paintings to two lucky people.

Here's how you can get in on the festivities-

Skip on over to Off The Highway, and say hello. That's it. You could expand on that if you'd like, and actually say something else, like, "Wow, your work is fabulous!", or "Sign me up for the Big 5-0!", but a simple "hello" will do. We'll keep track, put the names into a hat and draw out the winners. How cool is that?
Day 35 Wetlands 5 x 7 oil on gessoed board

No, really, how cool is that?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's Clicking?

Did you hear it?

It happened last week. I had a feeling it would happen, but when it actually occurred, I was stopped in my tracks.

Are you certain you didn't hear it?

It clicked.

Christine Kane writes brilliantly about it in her blog. It's number one on her list, actually.

The top of the list of her "7 Creativity Lessons" starts with the decision to schedule and create a system within which an individual can then create. Of course, she says it way better than I. Go ahead and click on over to read what she has to say. I'll wait.

It seems that alot of folks believe an artist has to be all flighty and emotional and excitable and drama-filled to be truly creative.

Not so.

In fact, it's just the opposite.

This daily painting journey that I've been on with my friend Mavis Penney proves that keeping a schedule, and creating a system is vital to creative work. We've promised each other, and you, that we'll show up every week day for 100 days and show you what we've accomplished each day. There's no room, absolutely no room, for being flighty and for waiting on some gauzy-winged muse to float down out of the ether to tell me what to paint. Whether I'm having a good day or bad, blue sky or rain, in my zone or out in left field, you're there, patiently anticipating that we'll focus our talents and provide you with what we've promised. I have to show up, whether I'm feeling all artsy or not.

And it works. Somehow, knowing I'm in this for 100 days is actually freeing. No longer do I sit and wait for The Muse, who seems to have taken a wrong turn and gotten lost somewhere. No longer do I check email or sort socks, waiting for the Next Great Idea. It's action time, and it's action I've got to take. I actively look for inspiration rather than waiting for The Muse to deliver it all wrapped in shiny paper. I set a timer so I don't watch the clock. I relax, because I know this is what I'm supposed to be doing with my time. It occurs to me that I've been using a system for this blog. I post every Sunday evening. Not Monday morning, and not just when I feel like it. Every Sunday evening whether I'm feeling clever or not. Lucky you.

There are no hard and fast rules about the system one chooses to work with. You've got to figure out what works for you. Systems are not sexy and they're not bright and shiny. They are, however, absolutely essential for growth and accomplishment. And frankly, it takes some time to figure out what works. I'm finding out that being accountable to you is an important part of my system. I found that having a good friend and colleague ( Number 2 on Christine's list ) with whom to share the trip is essential. I discovered that in order to paint one hundred paintings, I've got to put aside my morning newspaper, postpone the LA Times Crossword ( now I'm just bragging ) and stride purposefully upstairs to my easel.
That's what clicked.
What clicks for you?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Day 26 and Counting

This is Day 26 of Mavis Penney's and my "Off The Highway" project. Mavis and I are cruising into our sixth week of daily painting. Frankly, I'm impressed. It wasn't long ago I was gasping for air, whining and terrified of both failing and succeeding.
I was worried that
1- I wouldn't hold up my end of the agreement with Mavis.
2- I was worried about what you'd think.
3- What if I couldn't think of anything to paint?
4- What if the sky fell?
5- What if?
1. It might happen that I might not be able to complete this project. I can't guarantee I can count that high. It occurs to me that maybe you can't either.
2. You might not love each and every little painting I create. Oh well. I might not either.
3. I might just have to paint the same thing over and over again. Golly. It's called a "series".
4. The sky falling? Well, if that happens it'll put me a little bit closer to the stars.
It's been so grey and drab this month, and I needed some color desperately. Funny, I found it in a chunk of clear glass.
I found this Hemingray-54 Insulator near Highway 6 among the weeds of an old farmstead. When a meager ray of sunlight managed to work its way through the clouds, it landed on this piece, and bent into a thousand colors.
Studying the light in that glass, and the way it filtered through onto the table, there'll be a hundred paintings in me, I know it. And I can hardly wait to start the next one.
Thanks for checking up on me.
And if you think of it, vote for Brian for Prom King.