Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Dream's Message

It is not often that I have a dream that causes me to be unable to return to the land of sleep and even fewer have ever prompted me to wake up in the wee hours of the day to write myself a note. But that is how I found myself at 5:15 this morning, peering out one eye trying to look at my phone as I look for the quick memo app. to give myself a note. The scene still playing in my head and the words I had spoken still ringing in my subconscious, I had a feeling that I needed to write it all down once I pulled my weary body from bed. 

I'm not too sure where the dream actually started but at the start point of my memory, I was walking through one of the upper floors of an office building. Having a post-Modern appearance, the interior was full of cool greys and blues, clean lines, the carpet was a dark blue with a subtle pattern to it so as to not be overwhelming, and there were framed images along the walls that appeared to be posters and advertisements. To be fair, it was a nice office space and I took the time to look at some of the images that were on display. As I turn a corner, I started seeing them. Girls. Young women. Women ranging from 17 to 27 all wearing stylish designer clothes and shoes, hair done just right, nails finely manicured, and all seeming to have a sense of fear and hopelessness as they chatted with each other.

Now normally I would just keep walking but first off, I don't know how I got there and second, there was just something that didn't feel right. So, I started talking to a few of them to figure out where I was and what was going on. Come to find out, I was in a modeling agency that specialized in fashionable product advertisement. Alright so that answered the question of 'where' I was but the 'how' was still a mystery for me. Eventually, after speaking with yet another of the girls who seemed to be stressing out as she wrote a note on a planner, I looked at her and said
"You know... at some point you're going to have to ask yourself if what you're doing and what everything it's cost you is worth it. If you say 'no', don't be afraid to walk away." After saying that and a little more advice, I continued walk a little bit further. I noticed that I was not feeling sadness or pity for the situation I was finding myself stumbling into. I was feeling anger. Anger of how every woman I spoke to or overheard was being treated. As I ended up looking as a large poster for some Christmas product, I started noticing a sense of tension and dread coming from those around me and murmurings coming from behind me. Slowly turning around, I saw her.

Walking with egocentric confidence, a woman perhaps in her early to mid 50s wearing the latest in fashion, alligator print high heeled shoes that had such a point to the toe that they could be classified as lethal weapons if she were to ever kick someone in the kidneys, hair with enough product in it that a hurricane may be the only thing to mess it up, and jewelry that could rival the jewels of the royal families of Europe. Just her presence demanded attention and oozed authority. It didn't take her long to notice me since I was basically the white elephant in the room - beat up hiking boots caked in mud, jeans, tshirt over a tank-top with a long vest, satchel that had a few charms hanging off of it and my hair having that 'hippy-wild child' look to it. If I sneezed, I have a feeling I would cause a cloud of dust to form. Oh the glare the woman gave me as she started yelling. Just from the reactions of the young women around us as they scurried away or clung together as they pressed themselves against the walls for safety, I could tell this has happened before. Finally, I just couldn't take it any more, took a step forward and slapped her hard enough that I left a burning red hand print on the side of her face. 

Just the sound of the slap echoing in the halls sent everyone into silence. Both from the action of the woman actually being struck and from the sound. As she stared at me in complete disbelief and held her cheek gingerly, I found myself speaking calmly. 

"I know you'll probably call the guards or police on me but at this moment, I don't give a flying fuck. You, and the entire industry you're a part of should be ashamed of yourselves. This here--" I gesture to the Christmas poster near me, "is a prime example why I can't stand people like you." I look at some of the girl and ask them if they thought it was beautiful and several nod their heads. "Normally I would agree with you but there is one flaw. I see things differently. Yes, this is for that necklace around her neck but I don't see that. What do I see? I see the work of 1, perhaps 3 seamstresses who have spent years of training and working from 7 in the morning to 2 the following morning for weeks to create that one dress. I see the work of artists who have spent 4 to 10 years in school wracking up several thousand dollars of loan debts to create masterpieces that someone is going to overlook as they look at this image. I see the skill of a photographer who has painstakingly made sure that the lighting is just right so that the jewelry sparkle and the subtle shimmer of the dress to be picked up, taking hundreds of images then spending hours looking through each and every one. What I don't see? The model. Yes she's there but under 7 layers of makeup and then retouched by someone with an editing program, I don't see her. Her personality is not showing. This, my dears, is a doll.You are not dolls. You are individuals with personalities and if you can't let the world know who you are through an image then either find a photographer that can bring that out in an image or get out of this place because this is not where you belong." 

As I started to wake up, I found myself thinking about my friends who are professional photographers and those who are models. Those who are models, most are not what the fashion industry would think of as beautiful. Some have 'flaws' - largely curvy, sharp angular facial features, taller then average height, body hair, tattoos, shaved head. But that is what I find beautiful about them. They have personalities that draw people to them and show a confidence in their bodies that I find wonderful. Those who are photographers, they are able to find a way to bring that confidence the models have and bring it out in the images. Even if someone is in costume, if they are able to show that person's personality and have everything work, that is what I call wonderful. Not only do I admire the work but when if comes to advertising, it makes me that more willing to want that product. Why? Because of the partnership of the model and photographer. I am lucky enough to know such talented people and to them, I would like to say that I appreciate what you do. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Staying Creative

Recently I've been doing a small collaboration with a good friend of mine which has actually been positive not only for me but for those who have been keeping up with the project. She runs a page on Facebook called Blessings, a daily prayer altar where she creates altar set ups with messages of encouragement, peace, love and healing to the people following the page. A true inspiration, to be sure and is always a pleasure to read. She also has another page called Ravens Nest Gifts which I help her to update which mostly focuses on handmade crafts created by her and a mutual friend of ours. Having a bit of a hiatus from the page due to being busy with her day job, I ended up asking if I could bounce an idea off of her as a way to keep her followers engaged while also tying in Ravens Nest with Blessings. The result? Muse Altars.

Muse Altars (also known as Positive Thoughts to do Art By ) is an album of images on the Ravens Nest Gifts page which gives a positive thought, words of advice, and helpful hints to creative people of all genres. I set up the images as a type of altar mostly to the idea of a creative individual's muse(s), each image having a theme or particular message to go along with it. All of the captions are based off of my own personal experiences and things I've learned the hard way that I figure I would share just in case someone else within the creative community was going through the same thing so they would know that they weren't alone. The statement with the album is  "Even when not physically creating, there is always inspiration around us. So during those times of having an art block and feeling as if you've lost the direction of where you're going with a piece, I offer these little altars to your muses."

To the Sailors & Mermaids...
Here are just a few of the Muse Altars that are already part of the Positive Thoughts to do Art By album which has many more to come:

To the sailors and mermaids within our creative community - 
Watch for Subtle Messages. Very much like the seas and ecosystems of the Earth, the world of art is very much affected by some of the tiniest events. Listen to the tiny voices of your muses if they are trying to warn you of possible dangers when setting up or participating in exhibitions or even gathering information while networking. This is also true in concerns of what subject matters you are planning on creating. Even within the seas of creativity, there's hidden dangers but there are safe ports and hidden alcoves out there as well. 

To those feeling the sting of negative words or actions - 
Don't Bottle it Up...
Don't Bottle Yourself Up. We have all heard the negative comments dealing with our work. The "this looks horrible" and "oh I could do that" comments that regrettably echo in our minds and hearts long after they've been said. We find ourselves retreating and pulling our creativity into little boxes. Don't. Such comments are only a reflection of the one saying them. Constructive criticism should not have within it "this sucks" or any variation there of. Constructive criticism should assist us in improving or give us another way of thinking to do something. So don't contain or ignore your muses. And those of us commenting on an artist or craftsman's work, pause a moment and think of what is about to be said first. Let us not harm another and their muses with words that would hurt our own. 


To those who have felt as if their muses have been taken away from them - 
Fight. There are times when we all have reached a point where it's not just a simple case of Artist Block/Writer's Block/ect.. Its that feeling of sudden absence of creativity. Most commonly we know it as Burn Out. It could be caused by depression, constant worry, or just pushing yourself and your muse to the point where you just no longer hear their tiny voices. Take a moment and pull yourself away from the mechanical world we have. From the constant grind. Quiet your mind and your heart, be it through meditation, walks, or even a small trip into the wilderness. Recharge. It is not something that will happen overnight so be patient but eventually you will be able to hear the voices of your muses once again. The best way to fight for them is to take measures to fight for your well being. 

To those who find themselves drawn to art from the past -
Old Ways...
Find out all you can. Sometimes our muses try to nudge us towards the crafts and arts from our forebarers. Many of the old ways are being lost and the amount of those who still know or are learning is few and far between. There is much that we can learn from the old crafts of carving, widdling, glass blowing, embroidery, painting and even cloth dyeing. If you feel the tug and encouraging whispers from your muses when you look at such a piece, take heed and ask questions to the creator of the piece. Learn all that you can. And if you feel compelled to try such a trade, then be patient as you delve into it. 

We are Muses...
There are 2 posts in the current collection that seem to mean the most to me among all of the others. One in which is a reminder to myself and others that we inspire others and the other letting people know that it's okay to be upset. Between the pair, they have struck cords with many of my friend's followers and have both received the most response. Just knowing that I could help with making a positive ripple of change in the lives around me is perhaps the most rewarding with this particular project and I must thank my friend for allowing me to share these thoughts on her page. 

To everyone who wonders about themselves -
We are Muses. We are such interesting beings. Within ourselves, we hold access to multiple worlds, knowledge, and are home to our own personal muses. What we don't take in consideration is that we inspire those around us. We are muses. We murmur encouragement to those who are trying to create, whisper warnings when we worry about their well being, and help teach them when they wish to create in ways they hadn't before. So to the muses within each of us and to the muses we are for others, thank you. 

To those who are feeling anger with the current events of the world and find it difficult to concentrate- 
It's Alright...
It's Alright. It's alright to feel upset over things which have left your heart aching and your soul in tatters. You are not alone. But do not let yourself be consumed by hate and point fingers. That does no good and not only poisons ourselves and those around us, but also our muses.

Our canvases are our prayer mats. Our brushes and tools of trade are our mantras. It may hurt but we must change the energy of our rage into messages of love. You are not alone with your tears. Our muses weep as well but are trying to direct us to make positive changes. It is alright to take a moment to yourself but do not ignore the gentle whispers of our creative sources. They too need to heal and by doing so, more beauty will bubble forth. It will be alright and remember that you are not alone.