Living at the convergence of faith and art.

Posts tagged “Reinvention

Show Me …

Woman Face to Face-sml02As I sit reading my new book, Still Writing, by Dani Shapiro, I’m thinking about my own level of craft in Father’s and my artmaking. I’m thinking about the creative journey we set out on 10-years ago. I’m thinking how Father and I go at some aspect of the art we make and how much I need to grow and learn in order to achieve the skills needed to make what we’re after.

One reason I have minimal respect for over educated creative people is because what they’re thrusting in my direction is their intimate knowledge of mere craft. They don’t compose. They’re not artists who compose. They may not even be artists at all. They’re interpreters and collaborators who are largely incapable of an original action of their own. They rely upon their knowledge of mere technique and method and have little or no inkling of personal expression.

Am I comparing myself to these artless technicians? Not at all. I am simply stating that method and technique, without a heart for deeply original creative expression, is no substitute – that’s all.

My wife and I were once gifted with tickets to a concert in which an arrogant little nitwit with thousands of hours of training stepped out to play Gershwin’s American in Paris. I love George Gershwin’s work and was very excited at this rare opportunity to hear this performance. I didn’t give a wit about this self absorbed kid who was going to play for us. I loved the music itself, and in the hands of an artist, the interpretation had all of the emotion of a hustling, bustling metropolis in sound. In the hands of an artist, Gershwin’s city had life and it can be palpable.

What I heard was absolutely nothing of what Gershwin had written on the page. The performance had nothing of what flowed from Gershwin’s artist heart. This kid beat all of the life out of this magnificent work of original music because he was only interested in showing off his technique. He was an insipid robot sitting there at the keyboard obediently hammering out each and every note with perfect technique and nothing more. I was actually somewhat depressed, certainly disappointed, at what I had been offered. In fact, I hoped that this person would either get over himself and play from his heart, or be drummed out of music altogether. I didn’t care which, but please don’t let this kid ever again butcher another great composer’s work of art.

Making art is far too precious a thing to be lorded over by mere craftsmen. It is a deep and abiding connection to the unseen, invisible universe where the artist draws something really special to bring back and share with the rest of humanity. Craft, while vitally important, is but a nest or foundation into which a new creative piece of expression is born.

This is one reason why I’m so proud of Father’s and my being self-taught. Yes, I certainly do need to develop a great deal more method and technique. I expect to be at this growth all of my life and beyond. What I don’t do however is hide behind a wall of method and technique as my credentials, nor do any of the many artists whom I admire so deeply.

I once thought that it would have been wondrous to be born in the Italian Renaissance, but no longer. One reason I’ve lost much of my awe and wonder regarding the Renaissance is simply because it was largely peopled by competitive show offs. These were people possessing celestial gifts, and certainly they created many celestial works, but much of it was created in a world of mere arrogant show and competition between the artists and their patrons. What was seen as “great art” was often a measure of how many perfectly rendered figures could be crammed onto a wall, or how large the work was. Like so much of today’s modern film acting, much of the work is about how popular the actor is through the films they make. Whatever art there is in the work is often buried beneath the veneer of the various self-centric personae of the so called stars. At times it seems that deep creative expression shows up by mere accident.

Whatever is left of my once deep admiration for the Italian Renaissance remains in the works themselves, not the composer artists who created them. I receive the expression which is so often evident and available to me for engagement, but I could care less about the name at the bottom right of the work.

I deeply admire composers in any media who are self-discovering adventurers on a journey into the invisible realms of creative expression. I am in even deeper admiration of self-taught artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Jack Vettriano. If you need to know of whom I speak, I invite you to look them up. And these are just two of a host of creative composers who buckled down and conquered whatever it took to become excellent at what they did and do.

In short, what I admire in the arts – all of them – is gumption, self-directed gumption. I admire those artists who collect their craft along the way, who don’t brag about whatever schooling they endured, or how much practice they put in. Show me. Show me what it is that you’ve nurtured in yourself. Show me your work, because in the end that’s all that really matters.

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Sunday: Relational-Faith

jonatan-pie-216311-skyIt’s Sunday … all day … and I’m thinking about how differently I used to think of Sunday say, 15-years ago. Sunday was a day that anchored the week. It was a day of going to church, of meeting a bunch of people who politely smiled and shook my hand. It was a day of mere religion and social etiquette. It was a day of doing what I was “supposed” to do. In my heart, it was a day of seeking Him but never finding Him, and I used all of the religious processes and procedures I’d been taught in order to corner Father and have a close encounter of the personal kind.

Today, Sunday is just another day of the week for me. I was thinking about why Sunday no longer seems set apart nor is particularly special. Father God, just now commented, Sunday is no longer any different from any other day of the week for you because now you and I are together all the time, 24/7. You no longer use Sundays to merely come visit Me. We’re in love with one another and we’re infinitely close, at the Quantum level in fact, and beyond.

For me, so much has changed in this last decade. The single biggest change has been in my relationship with Father God. I now dwell in what I call relational-faith. This is a faith which is based on our spirit to Spirit mystical union. That’s how He and I “talk” to one another, spirit to Spirit. That’s how we journey through the Cosmos together, and discover things of significance and wonder. We are a relationship. We are together, whether asleep or awake, no matter what day of the week it is, or what year of life it is. My beloved Father and I are together all-ways.

Jesus, my dearest Brother, Savior, and Counselor, has made this union possible. His blood, shed for my redemption, sanctified me – made me Holy before God – and His death ripped the veil between Father and me. Because He loved me first, while I was still a sinner, I now have full, unfettered access to His Divine Presence. I can approach the Throne of Grace unafraid and can enjoy His adoration and love, as I adore Him and love Him. Thank You, Brother Jesus. Thank You, Prince of Peace, Immanuel.

Sundays … these Sundays, are not even a shadow of the former days. The life transforming relationship I experience each day with Father God is intimate, somewhat messy, lavish, and always filled with our love for one another. In these days, I worship Him more deeply, more often, more powerfully than I ever have in all my many days. In these days He and I meet at the Table of Making to venture out on the journey of creativity. This new and wondrous relationship I live with Him, who made me, who saved me, who loves me, is the very fuel of our life together. It’s already an eternal life even as I walk this wondrous Earth He has provided.

For me, at least, Sunday is like all of the other days of my week. It’s another day of wonder, filled with love and discovery with my Father God.

Amen ~


Floating But Safe

tiffany-ceiling-smlI am floating and feeling somewhat disconnected. I am not lost. The floating is perhaps a number of things. I know that part of it is Father’s liberation from the strict laws & rules of theologist / institutional religion. That kind of floating is awesome and wondrous. I love that. I also know that some of the floating is Father’s liberation of my art. That too is free of the legalism & marketing forces of the gallery / museum / so-called art-world system. Father God has liberated both sides of my destiny, those of my faith, and of my art.

I sense that this disconnection I feel, this floating, is also a huge time of opportunity for me. Father has lead me to believe that stuff like loss, dislocation, change, adversity, etc., are in fact opportunities. They are difficult, maybe painful openings in life which allow for something new to be planted.

We plough the Earth, literally rip it open, in order to prepare it for new seed. I’ve come to grasp that my life is sometimes ripped open by situations and circumstance of loss, change, or adversity, and yet, even as I grieve in those times, I know that I’ve been ploughed open so that my loving Father God can plant new seeds of opportunity in me.

So often I’ve found myself tight fisted against these painful events and forces. In my youth tumult was a daily visitor and I wanted no more of it. But in my new life of relational faith, I’ve found at first a comfort, and now a joyful desire for the new seeds Father wants to bless me with. I’m not afraid anymore. When the plough of change comes roaring through, I now reel far less in the pain of adversity, loss, and change. Yes, it still hurts, I still grieve, but no where’s near as much as it used to. I think that’s because I know a new planting of opportunity is coming, and Father is making preparation(s) for it. I embrace my Father God and His plans for me and my destiny. I want them because in them I become more of who and what He has designed me to become, and in this way I bring Him glory, my life brings Him glory.

For me, feeling a sense of floating and disconnection is far less about the absence of safe ground beneath my feet. It has become more of a life-posture of being available to being drawn by Father into whatever He has written into my destiny. I need to say that a destiny is not a carved in stone mandatory program. We are not biological robots that Father plays around with. That’s Greco-Roman pantheon thinking. No, we are masters of our own lives because while Father has written a destiny for each of us, we are entirely free to go our own way. We have freewill, and that’s another subject for another time (see the teachings of Steve Harmon).

I willingly take up this posture of availability to Father’s will and ways, of desiring with all my heart to step into my identity and destiny. I willingly embrace the plough of adversity, of change, of loss, and of grief because my joy is in my Father God. He has plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to hurt me (Jeremiah 29:11-13). My Father loves me and I can trust Him to surgically alter my life, just as we see in the Chronicles of Narnia, when Aslan cuts Eustice from his dragon self, setting him free.

I love feeling as if I’m floating with the only certainty being my relationship with and in my Father God. I am safe. I am blessed. I am lavishly cherished, as Graham Cooke might say. I am being brought into infinite prosperity. I am led to lay up all of my treasures in Father’s Heaven where they’re available forever (Matthew 6:19-21). My sense of feeling as if my life is floating is grounded in my complete trust in Father, in His infinite, divine, and lavish love for me, and in my relational faith with Him.

The grieving of change and of adversity are all opportunities just waiting to be planted in my ploughed up life where, under the care of my Father God, they will blossom and bear fruit of unknown consequence forever and ever.

Amen ~


Art Making and Social Media

Yellow Leaf - DetailSorry, I’ve been absent for the entire month of March.  A lot’s been going on. Which brings me to the need for balance, and the need for balanced communication.  What’s awesome about the on-going communication is that it’s two-way and relational.

I’ve just recently began the process, very new to me, of linking my blog (Creative harmonies) to my Facebook page (Lew Curtiss/Visual Artist); and to my ETSY store (Fingerprints); my Facebook page to the blog and to the store; the store to the blog and to my Facebook page.  In time I may “evolve” into consolidating the store and the blog into my own domain / website / gallery (Lew Curtiss (dot) com.  But for now it’s first things first.

In promoting and selling my art, I have several options:  1) I can make a “body of work” and run around seeking galleries to represent me;  2) I can create inventory and post it to ESTY/Fingerprints; 3) I can hoof it as a booth vendor to art-shows and offer my work through direct sales.  Or I can do some sort of a mixture of any two or three of these options.

I’m not an art marketing guru, but visionaries like Seth Godin all tell me that these days a viable, well-followed, online presence either enhances my opportunities for art sales, or it flat-out becomes the single most powerful vehicle for the sale of my work.  It’s all about building a good, open, transparent reputation; about making and offering quality work; about minimizing impediments of purchase to the buyer.  The internet allows me to host my own gallery instead of running around trying to get my work into brick & mortar venues.  It also makes my work available world-wide with one effort.  All of this happens only when I link my digital assets so that one thing logically leads to another.

I need to say here that I’m not against galleries or art shows.  I’m in favor of them and will use them, but they’re not my only access to exposure.  Today, because of digital-media tools, I can go around the gatekeepers and get to market on my own.

I repeat; I’m rapidly learning this stuff and am not a marketing guru.  I’m an artist, and if I want my work to “show & sell” I’ve got to make it known through any means I can, hence the reading and research.  You need to understand, I’m nearly 60, nearly, but not quite.  And what I mean is that  I’m “old school marketing”.  I’m telling you this because my generation, the last of the so-called “Baby Boomers” has had to learn and re-learn to invent and re-invent themselves.  This is something our parents and grand-parents told us would never happen.

In college, part of my communications degree centered on media-driven marketing.  The internet was still a big secret.  DOS had just been created.  Computers were the size of semi-trucks.  And the Jobs / Wozniak partnership that would become Apple was just getting started.  What I learned in old-school marketing is what Seth Godin calls marketing “at” people.

“Marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost-effective anymore.  You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money.  Instead, the future belongs to marketers who establish a foundation and process where interested people can market to each other.  Ignite consumer networks and then get out ot the way and let them talk.”

pg 6 / Idea-Virus Read & Share / Seth Godin

My kid’s generation is so lucky, and I am so jealous.  Why?, because the digital tools I’m learning to use to promote me, my art, and I, transform my reach into global-reach, and it didn’t cost me a penny!  That’s just plain alchemy, and I’m totally excited.

What Godin and others are writing about is the cultivation of relationships.  Buyers want to know something about the artist whose work they’re buying.  They want to see the artist in studio creating their work.  They want to know how the piece was made, why it was made, and why the process is significant.  They’re a generation in search of meaning and significance wherever they can find it.

Developing relationships is the basis of offering who I am and what I create to the world, hence the on-going need to learn how to employ these tools.  Social Media is promotional, relational, marketing media.  It is, if not complete transparency, at least translucence.  My “business” is not just my business, but yours as well.  That’s part of the reason you’re here, reading my blog.  We’re developing a rapport, a relationship, and while we may have never met face to face, we’re getting to know one another, one link, one post, one aspect at a time.