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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Wordless Wednesday

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Transcendence

It means being yourself.

It means paving your own way.

It means creating your own rules.

It means following your heart.

It means accepting yourself as an individual.

It means doing you.

Poppy Cropped How do you measure success?

For a lot of people the word success brings about certain feelings predominantly including social and financial. I’m beginning to understand that we, as humans, measure success in comparison to others. We see what we have/do/produce and compare that to the people around us to rate whether we are successful ‘enough’ when this is probably one of the worst things we can do, particularly for ourselves creatively.

‘A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms’ – Zen Shin

I love that quote because it is a hefty reminder that something doesn’t have to compete to be successful, fulfil it’s purpose, and be all it was meant to be. Success for a flower is growing into it’s potential and blooming. It grew, it lived, it became what it was meant to become.

I don’t really like the concept of success because it means that we have to accept failure as a concept as well; something that is notoriously given a bad rep and we are told we do not want. Success if ‘good’, failure is ‘bad’, strive for the former and avoid the latter when really perhaps it should be the other way around.

Sometimes ‘success’ brings bad things with it as far as our ego and the way we compare ourselves and relate to others is concerned; we’ve all heard the questions asked of celebrities rising to fame: ‘How do you stay grounded/down to earth?’ Failure on the other hand is how we learn and grow and find success deep down on an individual level; the kind of success that isn’t born out of comparison with others but that is born out of comparison with ourselves – where we are now compared with where we were and where we would like to be.

I think the big tripping point with success comes from when we allow others to dictate the measure of our success. It seems almost unavoidable these days but that doesn’t make it a good thing. Soceity dictates that we are successful if we make money, have friends, look a certain way, have X number of likes and follows on social media, own a house, are married (the list goes on) when none of that really matters.

Never pin your view of your own success on where other people think you should be in life. In the same way never consider your creative work only successful if it has sold for X amount of money or gotten X nmber of likes on social media. If you are happy with it and have learned from the experience of creating it, if it has given you a feeling of achievement and accomplishment, it is, in my opinion, a success. Even if it ‘fails’ as a piece in the end it can still be a success because in failing we learn and do better next time.

If we measuure our success on a personal scale we stop viewing things in the rigid, black and white sense of successes and failures and begin to feel content and blessed regardless. Remember, a beautiful flower just is. It blooms for itself because that is what it was born to do and in doing so spreads sustenance, joy, beauty and inspiration to those that come into contact with it.

Poppy Edited

 

‘Poppy’ – Pastel on grey pastel paper, available as various prints on my Redbubble Store.

SONY DSCI am a big believer in journey over destination, it’s a theme and saying that I refer to over and over again and has become a main focal point in my artistic practice.

You may wonder why that is? Surely having a destination in mind, a goal to aim for, is a good driving force and way to push yourself forward. In my experience yes and no. I think goals and destinations are important for certain things but others respond far better to an organic approach. Art is one of those things.

I don’t think I have ever created something that has turned out exactly how I planned or envisioned it when I started out with the project. I see this as a good thing now but back when I was first learning and experimenting I saw this as a bad thing; a failure. It wasn’t just a thing that happened with my art either. I would write a story, for example, with a clear idea of exactly where it was going to go and how the characters were going to be only for my chracters to take on a mind of their own and want me to follow them in a different direction. Doing so always led to a better place for the story, something more natural that seemed to weave itself far more organically if I allowed it to. For a long time I would try to force it to follow the plan only to get no where.

Art was the same thing. I think one of the reasons I didn’t feel very comfortable at University studying Fine Art was because I didn’t feel like there was this opportunity to allow a piece to grow organically. I was supposed to have an idea to follow, a meaning to portray, a point to make and most of the time when I start a work I do not. For many years I got stuck behinds this wall of feeling like I needed to have something to say with my work in order to create it in the first place.

Nine times out of ten I do not start a work out with an idea to begin with. I feel like using a particular colour/medium/mark and I start by using it, building from there and discovering the character of the artwork I am making. The above mixed media piece in my sketchbook became something that made me think of the banded layers of an agate geode or slice thanks to the way the watercolour sat on the gesso I was experimenting with and reacted with other wet and dry layers in it’s process. It wasn’t planned to look that way but it is what began to appear on the page as I worked.

Our goals and destinations in life change as we encounter different paths, ideas and situations, just as when we create we sometimes have to compensate and allow for changes in direction that teach us something and allow us to grow. If we focus on the destination too hard we run the risk of blinding ourselves to the immense joy of getting there which removes all the satisfaction out of our arrival when we get to the end or, in worse cases, creates this feeling of failure if we don’t arrive at all.

I have also found that when we let go of the destination creatively we become less precious about the work which is also a good thing. The perfectionist in me always wants to keep pushing until I step over the line that ‘ruins’ the work. When you have no end point in mind it is much simpler to stand back and accept that it’s time to call it done and move on. I’ll expand further on this another day in a separate post as I know from experience that stopping myself from overworking anything creative can be hard to do.

Be kind to yourself, take the next step, enjoy the process and it will fuel your journey and cultivate a sense of pride and achievement when you do reach the natural end of whatever it is that you are working on.

3D81EC46-BA1C-4E36-A744-6028C68EFA64 A few nights ago I had the drawing itch. I was watching Netflix with the Man-Beast and we were just unwinding after busy days when it took hold. One of the best ways, I have found, to scratch that itch when I want to draw but have no subject matter in mind is to doodle. It usually takes on the form of something floral or, more often than not, a mandala as I find them very relaxing and enjoyable to play around with. There’s just something in the repetition and patterns with them that pleases me.

It started with a single design in the center of the page. I thought that would be it. The mandala was sweet and held it’s ground despite all of the empty white space surrounding it… until another appeared. And then another.

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Before I knew it we were six episodes into the Netflix series ‘Another Life’ and the A4 page was rapidly filling. It was late, I was tired. I thought that maybe that was it and that it would not get finished, at least not for a long while anyway as I don’t doodle or have that want to doodle anywhere near as often as I used to.

But no.

I think it’s a pretty safe assumption that if there’s a post about it here it probably got finished in some shape or form (or I have something to say about it if it did not). In fact I couldn’t leave it alone. My brain wouldn’t allow me to abandon the hours already invested or the ache in my wrist from the repetative action of drawing the details.

Youtube was my poison and the act of drawing my escape from the otherwise befuddling work of organising and working on less creative tasks. I finished it eventually and saw it through, at least until the next evening binge of Netflix paired with the itch to doodle nothing in particular.

 

Do you enjoy doodling to relax and unwind? If so, what do you usually put down on the page? Mandalas or something else?