Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Time To Grow Up and Be A Kid Again!

     "I'm not artistic". "I couldn't draw a stick figure." "I can't......". What a terrible word; can't. Especially when it pertains to someone's creative abilities. As kids, a fist full of crayons and any ol' paper was soon to be a masterpiece with blue trees, "W" shaped birds, three legged dogs, and perpetual sunny skies. And heaven forbid if your Mom called your brilliantly rendered giraffe a kitty! What?! Didn't the purple polka dots and green antlers make it obvious that it was the rare Rocky Mountain Giraffe?  What's wrong with adults anyway?!? No, seriously... when do we beat that uninhibited creativity out of our heads and become so constrained in "reality"? Are we too embarrassed to be wrong? Fear of failure? What does it take to get adults to wake up and see the world through a child's creative eye?

     This past weekend I saw a glimmer of hope during a glass blowing event hosted by our gallery. This event was not only a rare opportunity for the general public to come see very talented glass blowers perform their craft, but also a chance to actually participate and help create their very own piece of blown glass. This brought an amazing number of people out to try their hand at something they never thought they would have a chance to do. It was almost as if they were handed a script to follow.
   1) Get a little nervous and ask yourself, "What am I about to do !".
   2) Step into the "Hot Shop" with a very serious, focused look of your face.
   3) Perform each step as if you're defusing a nuclear bomb.
   4) When done, break into a huge smile; part relief, part pride, all joy!
This last part was a sign to me that there IS hope for adults. They personally took blobs of molten glass, added stunning colors, and with the same breath that gives them life, they blew that melted ball of goo into a fantastic piece of art! Those smiles... I will never forget those smiles. At that moment, they knew they had done something that minutes before had the word "can't" before it.

     Many thanks go out to the fantastic glass artists that made this happen. Daniel Miller for his amazing talents not only in forming beautiful glass works such as ornate wine flutes, but also his technical abilities in building an incredible traveling hot shop! Build the tools to build the art... a true craftsman! Caleb Mroczka specializes not only in forming glass into stunning botanicals, but as an educator he is able to explain the process in an entertaining and informative way. Thus people felt not just comfortable, but adventurous when it was their time to participate.  And Cody nicely has the ability to turn the most uncommon item into a breathtaking thing of beauty. We're talking squids here people! His playful aquatic life had people imagining what they may possibly be able to do some day! These three artists were able to change "can't" into "DID"! Makes me smile just typing it.

Daniel, Cody, and Caleb playing with a "Flying Fish". See it just above Caleb's glove?  It was very hot, very fragile, and yes, it flew all the way across the room into the gloves and thankfully not Caleb's chest! The crowd's reaction was explosive, AFTER the shock subsided! Thank you Courtney Tinder for capturing the moment!


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pablo Picasso To The Rescue

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." Pablo Picasso

     I guess here is where I remind myself  "Better late than never"!  I have been cursed with a creative rut since well before Christmas.  I'm not talking about no new ideas or the next greatest thing here. I mean a full blown, brain cramping, couldn't draw a stick figure to save my life kind of rut. To burn off the energy normally reserved for the studio, I have had to resort to crazy, off the wall activities like scrubbing the kitchen and bathrooms from top to bottom.  While my wife has expressed great appreciation for these new found talents, I think even she is creeped out a little bit at this point.

     My normal activity to pull out of a creative tail spin is to hit the sketch books. Draw, draw, draw... exorcise those demons; nothing. Get inspiration from the masters by thumbing through my art history books; nothing. Clean the studio? (insert laugh track here...) Nothing has worked, until now.  I came across the above quote by Pablo Picasso. It struck me like a proverbial freight train. I keep a large collection of quotes in books, on sticky notes, white boards, about anything that will stand still long enough to write on.  Some are famous, some obscure, but all meaningful to me. This particular quote was so painfully obvious. Inspirations for new projects have ALWAYS come to me while I'm too busy with another project to do anything about them! If I'm not working, I'm not thinking. Or even worse, I'm thinking too much. Then my brain gets overloaded and starts speaking in tongues.

     The photos with this article are of a stained glass window I did for a client about ten years ago. They wanted a reminder of their Alaska property in their Tennessee home. Using photos from the property and of their plane, I designed a 40" round mahogany framed window. They were pleased with the design and I began work on what was supposed to be about a 300 piece window. Once I began work on it, there was no stopping the flood of ideas. I wanted the mountains to be illuminated from one direction. The texture in the glass had to follow the contour of the hills. The sky had to be dimensional and "soft", while the flora needed correct texture and variegation. I was buying huge sheets of hand made glass to get one or two small pieces out of the middle of the sheet. I needed more and more detail.  Three hundred pieces became four, then five, and so on. When finally complete, it had over 700 pieces of glass and had consumed 14 months of studio time. It was my masterpiece, and also the last one I ever did. When the dust settled, I not only had what I consider one of my greatest artistic accomplishments, but also notebooks and sketchbooks LOADED with new projects and ideas that I couldn't get to because I was so busy with the window.  I'm talking years worth of material. The ideas wouldn't stop. I would do a quick drawing of a sculpture, cut some glass, then BAM, a couple paintings would need to be sketched. It was a double edged sword. While possibly being the most creative and inspiring year of my artistic career, the obsession over the one single piece prevented me from taking any action on those new ideas. But, inspiration found me... while I was working.

     I will wake in the morning a relieved man.  I have the solution I have searched for. 
Albert Szent-Gyorgyi said, "A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind".
I shall try my best to remember this in the future. With hard work and an open, free mind, creative block doesn't have a chance against me!  That is unless his ugly cousin Procrastination comes along for the ride!!!  May this new year be filled with many new discoveries for all of us.