Category Archives: everything

The Physics of Being Busy

Have you ever noticed how busy people seem to get more done?

I’ve heard that if you have a task that needs completing, give it to a busy person. They’ll get it done. Probably in a timely fashion too.

Maybe it has something to do with physics. People with a lot to do have a lot more energy whirling around them. They’re already moving fast. Adding something else just propels them faster. Tasks are easy because they’re used to doing them. They cook and clean simultaneously.

Now think of that person who never does anything. Their biggest contribution in life is unlocking a weapon in a video game. They sleep during the day. They have all the free time in the world to complete as many projects as they want. Yet… Would you have any confidence whatsoever that this person would be able to complete your task at all, let alone quickly?

I wouldn’t either.  Continue reading

In Pursuit of Passion

This past weekend I was talking with my dancer friend about a film she’d recently seen (Pina, a tribute to dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch) that she was very enamored with. She said I had to see it, that all artists would benefit from watching it, regardless of what art they created. I wasn’t opposed to the idea. Having read and benefitted from dancer Twyla Tharp’s universal perspective in her book The Creative Habit, I felt like I was down with the dancing crowd. I didn’t feel compelled to run out and see the movie, but sure. Why not.

To make her point, and because she had a captive audience, my friend whipped out her laptop to show me a few YouTube clips of the film. Okay, yes, it was pretty, and they definitely knew how to dance, and fine, they–OMG WHAT WAS THIS?! What were they doing?! The fluid movements and lovely down tempo beats! The sets! The costumes! IT WAS RAINING ON THE STAGE! The color and texture and framing and… holy crap, this was like watching a painting. I saw each scene much like I see the beginnings of ideas when I start a new piece. It was beautiful. I was downright inspired.

I love talking to other passionate artists. I love hearing them blather at length (as I do) about their individual loves and interests in art. I don’t even have to be familiar with their art to know why they do it. It’s a kinship. We speak a dialect of passion. Continue reading

The Shower Scene – A Gallery Story

I want to say upfront that this is just one story from my life, and not a commentary on the gallery system as a whole. My personal experience with “traditional” galleries has ranged from lackluster to unethical (and possibly illegal, but I’ll get to that in a second.) I do not believe they’re all like that. I’m very open-minded about galleries. I’ve simply had great success and enjoyment representing myself, and doing so is not a reaction to anything negative as much as it is a belief in doing something positive.

But anyway.

When I was starting out professionally, I heard from a number of people within the local art scene that I was ready for my own show. So I went out and got one. The gallery I’d found was up and coming, an offshoot of a more successful gallery nearby. The owner (we’ll call him Shawn) was an artist himself, and sold a great deal of work, all at higher end prices, with a pretty significant and growing following in the area. He liked my work, and immediately offered me a show. After securing a date, I heard from fellow artists that although his art “was a bit formulaic,” he seemed to be a fantastic businessman. The openings I attended in the months leading up to my show were lively events.

When I arrived at the gallery the morning of my own show to set up, I could sense a weird and unexpected attitude from Shawn. He was cold and unhelpful. He abruptly announced that I couldn’t use blacklights, a fairly integral part of my art, despite seeming enthusiastic about them a few weeks prior. He further informed me that I wouldn’t have access to half the space I was promised, because another artist was using it. When I firmly explained the necessity of the blacklights, he finally told me I could use a small room through a hall and in the back for this purpose.

I was determined to keep a good attitude about things. Continue reading

Staying in Creative Shape

It’s easy to forget that our creativity needs practice. We often take artistic abilities for granted, because it’s just “been there” since we were children. Most of us are artists because it comes naturally. Sure we might have to learn discipline about the business aspects, but the art! Hey, that’s the fun part! That’s eeeeasy.

Until you hit a block. Then you spend each day staring at an empty screen or a blank canvas, cursing at the white space, convinced your career is over. The crying. The despair. Or maybe that’s just me. Continue reading

In Between the Art

L

ast weekend I went to a concert of someone I’ve technically known since I was five, and despite the fact that she’s fairly popular, I was woefully unfamiliar with her music and had never seen her perform (unless you count living room karaoke.) It ended up being pretty incredible to watch, not just because the music was awesome (which it was) but because I was witnessing this person that I’d interacted with in a casual way perform as she does best, in her element, in front of her fans, in the spotlight. She displayed a great command of experience and talent in exactly the moment she needed to.

As artists, we’re familiar with this situation to varying degrees. Any time we’re at our own shows, or even doing something as simple as releasing a painting for public view, we summon all necessary skill and confidence into a fixed period of time in which we allow ourselves to be stars, to lead the room in a chorus of our own making. We understand the necessity of doing so, at least in short bursts, especially when we’re promoting something specific.

But what happens the rest of the time? Why do we tend to put our public selves into stasis when we’re not attached to the art? We still have a duty to be artists, which is doing more than making art. We have a purpose to live artistic lives, with intention and passion. Our lives should be as interesting and inspiring as our art. Being an artist is an action, not a title.
Continue reading

I Think I’m Giving Up Cable (and other signs the apocalypse is nigh)

Remote Control

I‘m a wannabe minimalist. I dream of location-freedom and spend a lot of time figuring out ways to be more nomadic. You know, just in case I start traveling all over the world at a moment’s notice. In fact, this year I’ve decided to participate in the 100 Thing Challenge.

I hate being owned by stuff. Stuff doesn’t prove anything about your success in life, other than that you like to accumulate stuff. It is not memories, it is not living. It’s just stuff. Stuff and things.

I think it all started about 7 years ago when we decided to live without a microwave. We moved into an apartment with a very (very) small kitchen. It didn’t come with a microwave and we decided it was unnecessary to get one. We had an oven. It would require more thought and time put into our eating, but so what? When we moved again in 2009 to a place with a much larger kitchen, there was a microwave on the counter. I asked the owner to remove it as soon as we signed the lease. We’ve never missed it, and the counter space is awesome. Continue reading

Makin’ a List

It's a Small World at Disneyland

Well since my master plan of getting a tree and making things semi-festive this year has not panned out due to our house being infested with illness, I thought I might do a little dreaming instead. If I can’t decorate, I can still use my creativity!

Here are five things I dream of doing, some easier to accomplish than others, but one day I’ll have done them all. :)

1. Throw a big festive dinner for friends and family. Vegan options, not-remotely-vegan options, wine flowing like wine. In a big decorated house.

2. Spend all of autumn in a place that really shows its seasons. I’ve always dreamed of renting out a nice house from maybe September through December, somewhere like Vermont, where I can watch all the leaves turn colors and then fall off while the world around me morphs into a giant snowglobe. And everything will smell like apple cider, and people will walk their dogs through piles of leaves and the dogs will be wearing scarves and sleigh bells will jingle in the distance. That’s how it is there, right?

3. Make hot white chocolate for my husband. I’m not a fan of white chocolate either (the darker the better) but the poor kid is allergic to regular chocolate. It’s so sad.

4. Buy mistletoe and hang it somewhere.

5. Go stay in a shnazzy hotel in a big city that’s all decorated and bustling for the holidays, with window displays and people running around and lights hanging from everything. Like Paris. Or New York.

Despite not yet having a tree or even knowing if I’ll be able to get one, I know I have a few things to look forward to this year either way. Hanukkah party at our friend’s house. Sushi on Christmas Eve. Driving around looking at lights with my husband. Mulled wine and watching Downton Abbey with my mom.

But in the meantime, I’m gonna keep dreaming of a healthy weekend. :)

Written by Shayla Maddox for Art & Musings

New Traditions

Wintery trees in Pink

Do you decorate?

I’ve always adored holiday decorations. Or, at least, I used to, before I had adult responsibilities and recognized that I was short on space. (Clutter didn’t bother me as much as a child.) Even the holiday decorations in stores made me giddy, and I dreamed of which “style” I would put up if I were grown up and had my own home.

Now I am, and I do, but I’m not very interested in decorating. Which makes me sad.

In fact, I’ve become less interested in decorations the bigger my home has gotten. I put more effort into decorating when I was 21 – and squished into a small apartment with 3 other people – than I do now. I don’t know why.

Well, yes I do. Now my priorities are different. My business is my focus. My studio has expanded exponentially with each move we’ve made, thereby rendering any “bigger space” irrelevant. I also grew to hate clutter, in part because I spend all my time in a messy studio. It doesn’t help that I try to be all minimalist and Zen. It’s hard to fit multicolored lights and reindeer into that. Continue reading