Saturday, December 31, 2011

Daily doing and weekly study

From The Free Dictionary, an artist is:

1. One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.
2. A person whose work shows exceptional creative ability or skill: You are an artist in the kitchen.
3. One, such as an actor or singer, who works in the performing arts.
4. One who is adept at an activity, especially one involving trickery or deceit: a con artist.
The key words in these definitions (leaving out "trickery" and "deceit") are "imagination," "talent," "skill," "adept," and "exceptional creative ability." 
We can have the skill, but without the imagination and creativity, we produce lifeless work. And imagination and creativity will get us just so far without the skill. 

Whether we're photographers, ceramists, quilters, calligraphers, collagistas, painters, or gardeners, to excel at what we do, to be artists at what we do, requires the wonderful fusion of creativity, ability, skill, talent, and imagination. And all that requires practice.

Tomorrow is Sunday. Just another day. But it's the beginning of 2012. The start of a new year. A brand-new calendar. A "starting over" of sorts. I have no resolutions (other than to spend less time sitting on my butt here at the computer), but I do have plans. Do you?

My plans are to play this year. To play with a new project I'm working on in photography, which will show up in the next few weeks, and to play with learning how to be a better collage artist. Those are my plans. Each of those activities requires creativity, ability, skill, talent, and imagination. How to approach that?

My photography/Photoshop skills need buffing up. So each week I'll be learning a new Photoshop technique, trying to use it every day so that it becomes an automatic part of my repertoire. Because I have a mind like a sieve, a little cheat sheet of how-to info hangs on a clipboard on the wall by my desk. Easy for me to look at, to constantly remind myself. 

My collage work needs to be looser, more free. I need to worry less about careful placement of precious papers and just do it. And do it often. So every morning, for at least an hour, instead of sitting looking at blogs and seeing what others are doing, I will be doing the doing. (Did that make sense?)

What this boils down to (for me, and probably for you) is daily practice. Every day, create something. I don't care if it's a doodle on a scrap of paper, a photo of a piece of string, folding an origami crane, or gluing glitter onto macaroni. Create. Anything.
And study. Each week, learn something. How close can you get with this lens? With that lens? Open your camera's instruction manual and read just one thing. One. (If your manual's as miserable as mine, often that one thing is totally incomprehensible, but try it anyway.) 
Go to the library or a bookstore or online and look at -- really look at -- art other than photography (if you're a photographer). If you're a quilter, look at paintings. If you're a ceramic artist, look at quilts. Study the forms, the patterns, the structures. You may find yourself turning a corner in your own field as a result. Those carved and scratched patterns someone made on a clay bowl might inspire your quilt work, your photography, your painting. You never know. And it's never time wasted.

I'm going to shut up now. My point today is that 2011 ends in a few hours. Look at 2012 as a new beginning for you and for your art. Take it to the next level with daily doing and weekly study
For me, I plan on playing more. But I'll be taking this playing thing very seriously! Happy New Year's Eve, everyone. ©Carol Leigh, Artist


  1. Dear Carol,

    Very well said! And by all means you ARE a very talented atrist.
    I have very similar plans for this year (including one grand project) - learn more and do more.
    May you year be creative and productive, may all your plans come true. Best wishes to Chris.


  2. Your message dear Carol, couldn't be more timely. I'm struggling in so many different ways and always feel under self imposed time pressure. Will take your suggestions seriously and get started with a new chapter in my photography (and my life).
    Thanks for being such an inspiration.
    Happy, healthy New Year to you and Chris.
    Love... Gisela

  3. carol - haha that right angle above the "a" in the first one, together with the crosspiece on the "a" keep saying "fart" to me. sorry i guess this is very revealing in some way. have i ruined it for you now? i will follow your instructions in the new year! bob in yachats

  4. Oh, swell, Bob! You WOULD have to point that out... Now that's ALL I see! I used to really like that photo, but now... Good seeing you on Saturday at your Wave Gallery in Yachats -- the best photography on the coast.

    And Gisela, my dear, happy to be a source of inspiration for you, but you are the same for me as well, strong, kind, beautiful, and talented woman that you are.

    And Elena (and, of course, Russ), wishing you success with your BIG plan. Eager to hear/see what you're up to.

    Happy New Year to you all. (And since I'm not signed into Google right now and have to fill out the word verification thingy, it's kind of ironic that the word is "noteast." As in "west.")

  5. Carol,

    Funny that a few months ago--way back in 2011--I decided to stop saying I was something other than retired. At first I felt embarrassed but after telling folks a time or two, "I'm retired," I felt such freedom to be or do whatever the hell I felt like doing that I've started to think of myself as a retiree able to pursue her art at long last!

    What a change from previously believing art is only something I'm allowed to do once I wade through everything else! Or something only a few lucky "creative" people get to do.

    I hear your challenge about upgrading skills. I admit I'm lacking in this area. My goals are: First, to finish watching (and practicing and learning) the online course I bought last November on Lightroom basics.

    Second, to get out my camera manual and learn how to use that Lumix G3 or else sell it and replace it with the new Canon Rebel body and then learn how to use that.

    Oh! And make some art every day, spend more time looking at other art and, look at and express specific feedback for the art of the many wonderful fellow photographers already in my life!

    Thanks and Happy New Year! --Linda in Portland

  6. Well, good luck with that Lumix G3 camera manual! If you can learn anything from it, kindly teach ME! Actually, you know what? Let's both do an online search and see if we can find some additional/better Lumix how-to information. I can't right now because we're headed out, but will try to look online in the next few days. And we are not the only ones who would benefit from this. Gisela, Judy, CJ, Rich, Terry (?), David O., and some others I can't remember at the moment all have this camera and ALL say how horrible the manual is. Even if we just pick up one or two tips a week, we'll benefit. Is there an online forum for Lumix G3 users? That would be a good place to look, too. So. Be it resolved that we weekly study and daily do. (As opposed to weakly study and daily don't.)

    Great comment from you, madam. Wishing you the best of everything, especially in your daily art quest. --Carol Leigh


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