Archive for creativity

Move toward clarity and away from interruptions

AVENDANO-LLC-studio-3I do some of my best work at night because there are fewer interruptions. I can focus
better. There’s a stillness in nature at night. The neighbors are asleep. I’ll put on some of my favorite music, smoke a cigar, and contemplate the painting I have in front of me. Interruptions are the thing that destroys the rhythm in a painting. It takes a lot of fortitude to get through the interruption and back to the rhythm of the work. Once you learn how to do that, you’ll find it gets easier each time. Being able to find your way back to a state of mind is essential. There are other times I can paint while someone is talking to me, but that’s a whole different type of concentration than what the solitude of night offers. I’m a visual person, so everything around me can become a distraction. The darkness of night just crystallizes my vision. It makes what I’m working on clearer and simpler. Edges become smoother, and there’s no weird refracted lighting coming in the window. There are no distracting shadows on the canvas. The studio becomes a place where I can follow a particular vision where it leads me. Without distractions, creating is a simpler, more straightforward process. It’s a true pleasure to be able to create late at night.

Curiosity plays a vital role in making art

Alagria-5Curiosity is vitally important. You can’t make art without being curious. Become interested. Get motivated. Ask questions. Go online. Read about artists you’ve heard about. It’s impossible to be creative without it. You have to want to turn the page to see what’s next. Do the research you have to do to discover the type of art you want to make. Curiosity and the creative life go hand in hand. If you get stuck somehow, and you feel a lack of curiosity about the world, you have to stop and ask yourself why. Find your own reasons why. My reasons won’t be yours. The great thing about curiosity is that it’s a renewable resource. You can always learn, implement, and build on your curiosity. One topic, one artist, one obsession leads to another. If you explore, read, discover, and are still stuck, then talk to someone. Ideas come from trying new things. Get a cheap camera and mess around with it. It’ll show you the world from a different perspective. Learn about the artists who came before, and stay current with artists living in the world now. Read the stories of different artists and see who resonates with you. Decide who you want to be influenced by, or who just doesn’t do it for you. There’s a whole history of people who made art to be explored. You have to be curious. About art, life, people. There’s just no way around it.

It’s all the daily choices you make that make the difference

"Poe (Pearl)" by John Andro AvendañoWhether one is young or old, people are raised a certain way. For example, in our culture, many people think there’s still a thing called job security. There really isn’t. Security comes from within, not without. It’s all centered around the fear of not knowing if you can make a living – buy cars, clothes, get married – all the things people want in their lives. You have to realize, no matter what field you choose, you have to be able to pay the price of your choices. Since not matter what, no one else will ultimately bear that burden but you. It’s difficult to make the choice to be an artist when you’re married or have kids. Even so, if you’re going to be true to yourself, you’ll eventually get to the point where everyone’s pissed off at you. People close to you might call you selfish, or self-centered, egotistical, or self-righteous. A lot of people don’t like that type of pressure. You may not like it. It might not be the most pleasant thing to deal with. But no matter what, you’re going to have to be OK with it. You have to stay focused and move on. Because to live your life’s path is more important than anything. If you instill the idea in your kids that money is a security blanket, and you’ve given up a part of yourself to make a living, kids see that. If you’re tied up in a knot, and not living the way your true self speaks to you, they’ll follow the same path you’re teaching them. So there’s a lot at stake with learning how to live your life’s path. There’ll be a lot of pain, torment, indecision, and grief. But if you get past that, and you’re convinced, and you’ve convinced your loved ones there’s no other way, it becomes easier. I don’t do yard work, I don’t fix cars, I don’t really have any honey-dos. I create. That’s what I do. Seven days a week. If you put less than four hours a day into whatever creative pursuit you’re doing, whether it’s writing, acting, painting, or being a musician, chances are it’s not going to happen. It’s only when you’re so tired that you’re falling asleep creating because you can’t do anymore that day, then you know you’re on the right track. And when you make some money from selling your art, you buy materials. It’s the daily choices you make that will make the difference.

Being an artist in the digital age

"Cogitate #31" by John Andro AvendañoThe online and mobile direction the world has gone in has helped artists. It gives artists an immediate way to get their work in front of people. Artists now know they can be seen, be heard, and get comments in a way they never could before. It can be a great encouragement, but you have to have faith in yourself, and be willing to put yourself out there. Since anyone can say anything they want to online, it helps you to develop your core sensibilities. And a thicker skin when it comes to criticism. Maybe a comment will help you figure out what you’re trying to do, or it might have the opposite effect. Either way, you’re no longer working in a vacuum. As an artist, you must develop a clear and strong sense of self. You have to figure out your own direction, and find a rudder to steer yourself with. Because ultimately, you want to go in the direction you want to, and be less influenced by outside forces. It’s a learning process to stay true to your own vision. A great many people don’t put their work out there, for any number of reasons. Eventually, they have to, if they want to know who they are and what they can do as an artist. Once you reach a certain level, it helps rather than hurts to put yourself out to as a wide an audience as possible. Get your work out there. Share it. Ask for questions or comments. This is one of the major ways the digital revolution has helped artists. And if there’s an artist out there who feels like they can be helped by you, help them. Tell them what you’ve learned, or find someone who works closer to what they are making and connect the two of them. If possible, always help other people who are struggling.