Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category

Damn. Merde. Burgleflickle.

I’d so very much like to finish buying the books in my Amazon shopping cart but the internet just went down. Well if I can’t learn about writing by reading I suppose the only other option is to actually write… Fine.

This brief respite in finesse procrastination, in which I come up with menial task that somehow benefit my growth in some minuscule way, has me thinking about the real benefit behind reading for technique instead of just diving in. Wendy swears by the latter and I wonder if I’ve led her astray by suggesting she invest time towards formal studies in drawing to find a quicker understanding of the basics.

Does this stifle actual creativity?

Will proper technique drown the spark of creation that dwells within a fledgling artist?

Would I be writing these words if the internet hadn’t gone down and I was still surfing Amazon book reviews?

Crap. I caught myself re-reading what I just wrote and editing bits I didn’t like. For those that don’t know, this is a big no-no for effective writing. So much for all the knowledge I’ve acquired from books about best writing practices. Obviously the rebellious side of my inner-student stuck around past high school as I still don’t apply the things I learn through reading.

Another point for just diving in. You can read it, but without practice it will never stick.

Damn it. Caught myself editing again.

Still, there can be no doubt that pursuing formal education in a given topic is a productive use of time. Expert practitioners have passed knowledge to novice pupils since one man could do something better than another.

Wikipedia, Blogs, Twitter and Facebook prove that the desire to share information and dating statuses are a staple in human nature. But for the pillars of education would we have ever seen the advances in art and technology we have today? But then of course there would be no Wikipedia if people chose not to update it with content or read the content that is shared. There would be no blogs, or any other social information outlet, if people that do simply didn’t.

I suppose there is a balance to be struck between research and application. You must have both to achieve something great.

The internet is back up and I just finished my purchase. Now I need to find some other creatively guilt-free way to procrastinate with writing.

Also, picked up The War of Art by Steven Pressfield today after reading the first few pages on the enemy of creativity – Resistance. Resistance being a number of pervasive obstacles, like fear, that prevent you from what you want to do in life.

I’m looking forward to diving in. I’ll let you know what I find.


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One day…

One day we’re going to be the people we’ve longed to become. We’ll follow our dreams and find out who we are. We will be comfortable in our own skin. You’ll stop wearing make-up and I’ll start wearing my glasses.

So much time is spent trying to meet the expectations of family, friends, co-workers and strangers. We’re so focused on what others would have for us that there is no time left to pursue the things we want for ourselves. Unfortunately, given enough time, what others want for us can become what we want for ourselves. We give up.

We stop saying “One day…”.

This isn’t the worst that could happen. We could still lead full lives with those we love and do good in the world. It would just be to the beat of another’s drum. We can have more though, so long as we never stop saying “One day…”.

One day I’ll speak another language and be able to share with your family. One day I’ll be an independent photo-journalist, providing the world with eye-opening depictions of life and messages of inspiration. One day others will listen to my words, not because I ask them to but because they find hope and help within them. One day I’ll raise a son into a man that wants to be a good person.

One day you’ll find spirituality and a deeper meaning to our existence. One day you will be an accomplished artist that instills beauty in your surroundings. One day your creations will hang in galleries around the world. One day you will raise a daughter into a strong woman that respects herself and helps those in need – including animals.

One day we’ll be free from doubt. One day we’ll be unafraid of failure and eager to chase opportunity. One day we’ll find harmony.

Why can’t one day be today?

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Photo courtesy of Flickr - johnanthoney

A couple of months ago Wendy was attempting to petition an art class at the local community college to gain some formal knowledge.

She made arrangements with her employer at the time to come in late so she could try to snag a spare seat.

Unfortunately, it seems the teacher had it out for her as Wendy was turned away without recourse, even though there were many empty seats and it was obvious not all registered students intended to show up. This was aside from the one registered student that was interjecting to say she wasn’t really interested in the class, whom the teacher essentially cut off by telling her to take her time to consider it.

Wendy took this kind of personally, and from what I understand the teacher, who from all descriptive accounts sounds like a pretty typical liberal hippy college art professor, didn’t exactly act the part.

Wendy mentioned she’s been wanting to write a letter to the teacher to express how it made her feel with the hopes that the teacher might not do the same thing to someone else in the future. I asked her if I could take a crack at it and this is what I came up with:

Art Teacher,

I think we can both agree that art is one of the purest and most rewarding forms of expression. You can create a piece that will be hung in galleries for generations to come or share a drawing online with the entire world in an afternoon. Sadly, I think we can both agree that fine arts do not have the foothold in society they once did.

Children grow up with video games and iPhones. Parents push fiscally responsible careers and instill doubt into those that might pursue a life less capitalistic and more bohemian. Art, like a beautiful rose, is wilting.

You can imagine my sadness in being turned away from your class this last semester as you were “at capacity” while empty seats watched us from around the room. It may be a faded memory for you, but it still resonates deeply with me. I am stepping out of the folds of conformity, taking a chance with my future and pursuing something I love. To be turned away from a supposed kindred spirit, an individual of notability in the local art community, was like a bucket of cold water to the face.

What happened? What happened to your artist’s spirit that compelled you to share and nurture life as an educator? What happened to your oath to cultivate the seed of passion within our youth? What happened to the optimism you must have once had to choose the life of a mentor?

While being turned away from your class has not, and will not, stop me from pursuing my dreams, I know I am unable to speak for the future pupils that seek your guidance. Chasing the dream of living through art is a fearful path and if not for those I’ve surrounded myself with, I may not have had the strength to make the leap. I am sure others are not so lucky to have who I have. They have you. An art teacher.

From one artist to another, I beg you to do everything in your power to indulge the dreams of others. Take every opportunity to steward the future of art through those that actively ask you for it – or they may just stop asking.

Please consider your responsibility for the creative futures of those that seek out your tutelage.



For anyone in a position like this art teacher, please consider the futures you’ve signed up to care for. Sometimes people have a shitty day or a rough month, but let’s try not to take it out on those that need you.

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Let’s face it. The longer you’ve been around the faster time seems to race by. None of us are really that young anymore. At least not the kind of young where you have no fiscal, social or familial obligation that keeps your rear in a desk five, sometimes six, days out of the week. The kind of young where you stay up all night talking on the phone with a crush or laugh so hard milk comes out of your nose.

When we reach the ends of our individual roads will we look behind us and see a wondrous landscape of palatial mountains and deep lakes or will there be a vast wasteland of sand and brittle vegetation?

It’s time to stop wasting your time and start living your life. Pick five things you’re going to do in the next year to start filling up your personal history with monuments of significance.

5  Get rid of some stuff

Life is full of anchors that root you firmly in place on the most granular of levels.  Not only are you confined within your country, state and city… you’re confined to your 1200sq. ft. apartment and every piece of stuff in it.  You spend most of your day dredging through work scrounging for enough pennies to keep paying for stuff.   Then we all go home at night to roll in the stuff and feel happy that we have some – even though we don’t ever really use it.

Life does not equal stuff.  Life equals relationships and experiences. It is an opportunity to leave the world a better place than you found it.  And no the other half of the day you spend on your computer does not count as a “relationship”.

Feel real freedom by cutting loose some anchors that hold you back from experiencing life.  Get rid of some stuff.

(Check out Dave Bruno’s 100 Thing Challenge for more info on how to get started.)

4 – Write a letter/short story/blog/novel/screenplay/comic

Learn something about yourself by writing. Every day we consume copious amounts of raw data. Sights, sounds and moments are crammed into our heads that we never have time to go back to appreciate. Or worse, if there is time the memory has already fled to deeper recesses of the mind.

Don’t insult yourself by forgetting your life as it happens. That’s just being lazy.

Writing is raw and untainted. The words you put to paper are a piece of you. These words cannot be unwritten and no movie studio can change what you’ve crafted, at least not until they offer you lots of dollars. You summoned them from deep within and they are solely of your creation – unless they’re not in which case you should be ashamed of yourself.

Writing can also be extremely cathartic after a long day. It can also be quite motivating as you continuously scribe your dreams and aspirations into document form, contractually binding you to do all the things you write about wanting to do…[looks at rest of post]

Grab a pen and a notepad, eyeliner and cocktail napkin, chisel and stone tablet, and don’t let your life just pass you by.

3 – Make a new friend

What’s a life unshared with others? The memories you create are going to be a lot less meaningful if you’re alone in most of them. Meet people. Enter social engagements where you communicate about topics deeper than the weather. Learn something about somebody else, because it might be a valuable lesson for you too. Give them something worthwhile in return.

These interactions turn into friendships that could last you the rest of your lives. Relationships to rival those you remember from grade school when you trusted blindly, as if you’d never been hurt, and laughed unabashedly, as if you’d never heard anything so funny.

Of course this won’t be easy for some of us. You will need to actually work at opening yourself up to others and appreciating what they have to share when they decide to do the same. There is a tremendous amount of trust you have to hand out for a bond to grow strong. But as always with practice, the more you give the easier it gets.

These people will do more to enrich your life with love and laughter than anything you could possibly buy.

Just steer clear of the tweakers.  They’ll steal from you.

2 – Learn to speak another language

Communication is one of the single strongest mechanisms that binds us to on another. Through words we share hopes, dreams, fears and top five lists. Through words we forge relationships. By learning another language you’ve now unlocked an entire civilization to help in task #3.

You’ve also taken the time to respect the intricacies of another culture. This proves that you are patient and willing to put in the time to appreciate the history of a community. This gives you instant wanderer street cred.

Granted you may need more than a year to master a new dialect. I figure that if I can hold a riveting conversation with a ten year old by the end of a year, I’d be in a pretty good spot.

1 – Travel to a distant land

Goes hand in hand with number two, doesn’t it? I call this multi-tasking.

From what I understand, if you’re a traveler then you already know what immersing yourself in another culture can do for your perspective on life. And if you’re not road worn yet, like myself, then you’ll finally see what life can be like outside of the snugly fitting borders we’ve huddled behind all of our lives. Things are different on the outside. Very different.

Just lost your job? Go on a long vacation.

Hate your job? Quit and go on an even longer vacation.

Have a family? Take them with you – it will be the best learning experience of their lives.

For the price of a plane ticket and a little footwork you’ll learn more than you can remember about the world. But more importantly you’ll learn about yourself.

See you in Barcelona. I’ll be the timid American butchering Spanish.

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