Archive for artists

Creating work that has a sense of timelessness

"Evening Out" by John Andro AvendañoTo keep myself engaged in the process every day – I switch mediums – from painting to drawing, to sculpting in wood or metal, to woodcuts – using anything I can to make something that I like. The whole idea of creating is to make something I like to look at. And I feel that once someone buys a piece, it keeps giving back. Every time you look at it, it gives the viewer something different, something new It’s like rereading a great book you fell in love with. Once you get past the first read, you can unpeel layers and layers. Every time you read it again, see it again, you discover new pieces in a novel or a painting. That what artists and writers are doing – creating works that are timeless. I’m not interested in creating a shocking piece of art, you know, a tinfoil formaldehyde shark, or large duplicates of medical pills, or images of dead heads wrapped in plastic with eyes bugging out. That’s not for me, not what I’m after. There may be a market for that, but I leave that for other artists to do. Through my searches – I’m striving to create beauty, and make something that’s everlasting, I want to create something you’d put up in your house, and every time you look at it you discover something new. That’s what I like to think about, like to do, like to share. Living in the world now, people don’t want to look at art that feels like it’s stuck in the 1970s. They want a feeling of timelessness and expansiveness. People want a piece that remains fresh – time after time.

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.

Don’t make excuses. Make art. Every day.

a-work-in-progressMaking art comes down to routine and habit. And that gets formed over many years. You have to get in the habit of getting up in the morning and starting. After you take care of  your emails or phone calls that you have to do, you have a cup of coffee, and then stand in front of your easel or sit at your table and start creating something. It doesn’t really matter what. Once you begin the process it takes off on its own. I get up around 7:00 a.m., have coffee, respond to emails, and start work about 9:00 a.m. I’ll stop at 1:00 p.m. and have lunch, then take care of more business. I’m back working in my studio by 4:00 p.m. And I’ll work until 3:00 a.m. There’s a dinner in there somewhere, but it’s not necessarily at the same time. There’s no mystery to it. If you want to create art, you have to work; you develop the habit. It’s about creating every day. Persistence matters. Not giving up matters. If you’re sick, you grab a piece of paper and do some drawing in bed. If you’re sick and throwing up, you grab some paper and draw in between times of being sick. If your leg is going to be amputated, get it amputated and then go back and make good art. There is no excuse, if you’re healthy and want to make art. There have been artists who were going blind and kept making art. Artists with no hands who painted with their feet. If they could do it, you can do it. Stop making excuses and make art.

Art is a search for your inner truth and a fight against inner lies

"Imagining" by John Andro AvendañoI find in my searches it comes down to believing or not believing what other people are telling you. Too many people believe lies, or are living lives based on lies, and it might not have even started maliciously. For instance, our parents believed certain things. Due to either how they were raised, or circumstance they grew up with. My dad and I used to go scuba diving in Palos Verdes, and as we drove home past all the large mansions, he’d ask me, “Isn’t that a beautiful home?” I’d say, “It sure is.” Then he would tell me, “There’s a criminal living in that big house. He’s stealing all the money that the rest of us have to work hard to get.” Over time, I figured out that was a lie. And I had to find a way to overcome that lie. Lies like that are passed along, in families, and in society, every day. Someone’s out to get you. You’re not good enough, you don’t look this way, you don’t sound this way, you’re too large, too thin, too old, too young. All of these daily judgments are lies. What do you do when someone you know is a liar and they tell you something? It doesn’t bother you, since you don’t believe anything they say. But, growing up, you believe people who love you and so you’ll just believe certain things. And they believed lies they were told, and they think they are helping you. So, in order to accomplish your dreams, you have to stop believing lies telling you that you aren’t good enough, and you can’t do it. Start listening to yourself instead. Which sounds easy, until you realize it also involves un-conditioning your mind and to stop believing all the lies you grew up with and accepted. You have to discover within, which are your own lies and truths. Everyone has to figure out what is real and what is false. I’m not saying this is anything new. I’m just saying, as an artist, it’s something I had to discover on my own through search. And that’s why searching and looking and being curious leads you to places where you’ll find answers that you can apply to your life, and to make art that comes from deep inside yourself. This is what worked for me.