(I wrote this post this morning on MarieForleo.com in reply to a discussion about the importance of art in our lives. This comment felt like a blog post. I’d like to share it here. I hope you find some good in its message.)
Art is essential in allowing humanity to connect spiritually.
I use art to motivate my writing and the writing of others. Each facet of art, especially painting and sculpture (for me), can ignite a bevvy of stories for the world to see. It can inspires other and can change lives. It can shift a mind.
Music is also a profound inspiration. Artists who write life affirming and soul searching lyrics have made me the writer I am today. They connect feelings into words. Music and art makes us feel less alone in this world.
I think the one piece of art that changed my life (other than music), was Georges Seurat’s painting “Sunday on the Island of Grande Jatte” and the musical play it inspired. James Lapine wrote the book for “Sunday in the Park with George” and Stephen Sondheim created the most glorious, heart wrenching, moving score to reflect the concept of how a painting can tell a story. How each visage, each person painted were really humans with beating hearts and broken lives painted in dabs of light. The way the painting comes to life with humanity and the love story woven in – showed me how art can be a powerful reflection of our lives. In fact, the entire show has specific lyrics that support this entire theme.
Add the wonderful musical ‘Fun Home’ – which shows painful, universal themes in a beautiful, touching way – and we have continued proof that the arts tell the story of our lives.
Don’t let anybody, or any negative voice in your head tell you otherwise. We need more art. We need creation.
As good ol’ Steve wrote in “Sunday…”
“Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you’ll be-
Look at all the things you’ve done for me
Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree…”
Just keep moving on. 🙂
I’ve just flown through my annual rough patch. Busy work stirring turbulence that had more to do with my employed work rather than my creative endeavors (which I am determined to turn into employment).
Working at a major film and television studio, I was immersed in an industry event known as LA Screenings. Determined and content to be a studious employee in the middle of mild chaos, I kept my focus on the job, cleared the writing decks for a month and focused wholeheartedly on screenings and office work.
Yes. this meant placing my own writing projects and my build up of The Good Write aside until the responsibilities that cut me a payday slow back down into the day to day office life, where things are humming on autopilot.
It was alright, actually. I needed a little break from writing. As long as we fill the down time with mental stimulation, we all do.
My annual trip to New York City waited at the end of these travails. Exhausted from having flown in late last night, I’m back with street snapshots, a low bank account, leg fatigue, a few cute new summer dresses, and jet lag. (You can see why I have aviation metaphors sprinkled within my first paragraph.).
Having taken the month off from writing, I feel the words coming back. The need to create once again. Around New York, my eyes feasted on many favorite visuals – street art, murals, photography. The colors of paintings on bulletin boards that are created over a period of days to devise a glorious build up of lines and color and shading to birth a gorgeous vision, like the steampunk dreamy delicacy of the mural above found on 22nd street and 10th Avenue, installed by PixelPoncho.
Or the sharks infested walls of 22nd Street, where these charming little razor tooth creatures show up in tags sporadically around 22nd street (and perhaps beyond?), floating through medicine bottles, looking like they’ve just taken up home in dangerous cement and brick laid pharmaceutical waters.
Whimsical creation of art. Art is everywhere. I have a whole camera role I’m too sleepy to unload here, but my Instagram account will attest to some wonderful frames of texture, color, inspiration from masters in fashion as seen at the Manus x Machina exhibit at the MET, where fashion is exposed and explored in the age of technology, or various moments of artistic expression found in a favorite cafe or flash of street work.
I’m getting back on the creative band wagon, folks. It’s always good to know that creation is always waiting for you to pick up where you left off to continue bringing forth more beauty into the world. Now, more than ever, we need to know this.
And here’s the reason why…
Lately, there has been a rash of articles about people who can’t find jobs. People who pretend to live affluently, but are at poverty’s door. Hard working people who’ve bought into the lie (as I have) that we must gain gameful employment in order to contribute in this world, when all we are doing is working for someone else’s goals, someone else’s dreams, and someone else’s wealth.
What happens when, after years of hard word, that employment ends? When you can’t get a job like you used to – or not even able to get your first one out of college? There are people who hope they will one day be hired back into that high paying position, and things will be right again, only to realize, after too long a wait, that it may never happen again.
There are friends in my sphere who are unemployed that keep getting back on the wheel of hope and job search, never realizing that they have the talent to create their own job position, their own employment by bringing their own highly lucrative gifts into the fold and be their own business.
Yet, they fret and go back to the very thing that chewed them up, spit them up and placed them in this torturous limbo to begin with.
I’m going to expound on this in my next blog post. There is an arsenal of experience I’ve gained and a high dose of being fed up about the illusion we’ve been given in this world I’d like to spill.
Like the eponymous artwork on the walls of New York City and around the world and the artists who’ve dreamed, divined and brought them to our vision – let’s inspire others with our work, be it writing, painting, sculpting, photography, acting, singing, composing or just listening to someone in need of help by your hand.
Let’s all be good people and live in our authenticity, because putting my creative work aside for a salaried paycheck rather than self employed accomplishments isn’t applying my energy into the work I’m meant to be doing. Writing and creating and inspiring others – is.
Know this in yourself. Take it and go forth.
As someone said online the other day, the planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. Aren’t we lucky to have lived in the age of Bowie?
The same can be said for Alan Rickman, a supreme talent who, like Bowie, also left this world, from cancer at the age of 69. Strange how two beloved creatives, both British, both 69 years old, died in the same week. And it seemed, within the similar stance of their booming voices, both toiled and created within darkness and light.
Two sucker punches in the second week of 2016. May we, as writers who daily fight and struggle to overcome the negative to tell our story, keep their creative work and words in mind. They left this world a little better for us all.
“It is a human need to be told stories. And the more we are governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are and where we come from,and what might be possible.” ~Alan Rickman
“Once I’ve written something it does tend to run away from me. I don’t seem to have any part of it – it’s no longer my piece of writing.” ~David Bowie
“Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.” ~David Bowie
Happy Friday to you all. Fridays are slow on WordPress, but I’ll give this one a go – even if it falls under the radar.
The song above ear-wormed its way into my head this morning and won’t let go. I discovered the track, and the album from whence it came, in London back in 1995.
The album is “Dream of 100 Nations”, and moments after purchasing it (on cassette), I immediately immersed my ear holes in the multi-cultural musical flavors that melted with techno hypnotic rhythms. In the evenings, I’d fast foward to the track above, “I Voyager”, and walk through Hyde Park at twilight. Do you know about sundown in Europe in the month of June? They last late into the evening – past 9pm. I remember listening to this song while watching Arab women in the distance, slowly walk behind their heavily cologned husbands, as their black flowing burkas floated dreamily in the breeze in the dimming light.
I thought of myself as a voyager. There I was in my late twenties, unattached, spending summers in the UK alone. The voyage was beginning.
A memory also wormed its way through my twilight sleep this morning. My awakening mind thought of a home in Sag Harbor. It was the house my uncle, aunt and I stayed in almost five years ago, the weekend we spread my parents ashes in the water of Little Peconic Bay.
The house belonged (and still belongs) to artist Eleanor Kupencow, a renown artist whose colorful modern paintings are created in this very contemporary well lit house. Each room is open space with the bare basic furniture. Studio lights flash on each canvas. One room opened into another with no doors marking closed in territory. There was no television, no internet – only radio. This was her getaway home – her place of solitude to do her work. Her work house. She has other homes.
I slept on an IKEA futon below a giant mural of geometric shapes and crayon bright colors. I felt as if I were sleeping on the floors of MOMA. The serenity was profound. The peace well curated and handled with white gloves. I loved the energy of the place. Its white walls and high skylight ceiling gave me warmth and solace as my parents remains sat in paint can canisters, waiting to be released into the waterways down the street.
The street stretched and turned down until it ended with beach sand and a long bed of smooth stones that made walking barefoot uncomfortable. What continues from there will be left for another day.
Today – I think of Eleanor’s house. I didn’t meet her that weekend. She left town to tend to a family matter, and allowed us to stay for those few days. It was the house where I truly said goodbye to my parents. It was the house where I made my decision for the future. It was the also the weekend I decided to move to California.
Five years on and I’m dreaming of moving back to New York when the time is right. And the right time is coming soon. Although I may never stay in this house again, I will be back in Sag Harbor to honor the day of the ashes, the pretty house on Whalebone Landing Road, and the warm New York summer, usually thick with heat and humidity.
Here in California, the wind blows warm from the Santa Ana mountains; yet, the thought of the wind blowing warm off the coast of Long Island makes me happy.
Ralph Fasanella (1914 – 1997) was a self taught American artist whose creations depicted the struggles, strife and triumph of the working class. Born in Bronx, NY to Italian immigrant parents, Fasanella’s political activism was harvested by his mother – who took him to union meetings instilling a strong connection to labor workers and ant-Facist causes. During the Depression, Fasanella found employment as a textile worker and a truck driver. Sensitive to the plight and committed to the rights of the hard working class, he volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and returned to the U.S. after the conflict to organize labor unions.
It wasn’t until he developed arthritis in his hands when a union colleague suggested he try painting to ease the pain. This is where his art life began.
Fasanella paintings have the purity of color and structure, depicting the lives of everyday hard working people. An painting on Yankee Stadium is colorized and enlivened with every ounce of human kind and commercial atmosphere. Not a space is wasted as humanity is illustrated – the story of a day in the ballpark – mid-century – forever painted on canvas. Think of the lives each painted character represents, their history and their day at the park. Where the Yankees winning? Did Mickey drive home a run to win the game? Your imagination runs wild with possibilities.
Take the painting that is the header of this blog. It shows a landscape of a bustling city. The bridges over the East River and beyond to the skyscrapers giving way to green pastures of the suburbs in the distance – the suburb where Fasanella settled down to raise children late in his life. Far away from the rattling ice trucks and the pumping iron of everyday life. Far away from woefully dangerous pre-labor forced laws that came too late for the women of the Triangle Waistshirt Factory depicted during an ordinary day in the painting above – before the catastrophic fire that forced new safety laws for workers in this country.
Fasanella was a storyteller in painting. The colors created the words. The brushstrokes enlivened people long lost in the passage of time, their memories and minds lost forever, yet brought forth in brushstrokes controlled by a man who knew their struggle.
Doodles and drawings are swimming in my brain this morning. I spent most of the past weekend doodling. You see, I’ve started a journal where I’ll be listing 25 things for which I’m grateful on a daily basis, and doodles have become part of the process. Just to open the well of color and ideas, perhaps to comfort me into a state of grace. .
You see, I’ve fallen into the well of fear again. I worry about money. That worry turns to fear, and then fear blocks the flow of writing and goal intention. So, I’m focusing on the things I do have, instead of the things I think I could lose. And one of the things I love about keeping a journal is the artwork I doodle to colorize the flow of creativity. It sounds so arty farty. But who am I to question the process? Beside, I was always an art class nerd, who spent free periods in high school hanging out in Mr. Bates’ art room drawing or tracing faces on an overhead projector for silk screens. So, I bought an assortment of magic markers, and I’ve been coloring and doodling patterns, stained glass motifs of multicolored weirdness. I couldn’t stop. All weekend – through sips of morning coffee and within each listing of gratitude. I doodled the inner front cover of my journal through the Super Bowl, and through “Downton Abbey” straight until bedtime.
While my hand and brain devised magical swirly checkerboards and psychedelic patterns created by precision pens and fine point markers, I remembered this amazing segment on CBS Sunday Morning from months back regarding the art of the doodle. There are people who sit in meetings and doodle, not because they’re bored, but because it allows them to concentrate better. This is me. I’m always doodling in meetings. Many called it a “window to clarity”, where mindless drawing opens a space that allows you to focus. It hits an “intentional sweet spot”. As mentioned in the segment, “It’s a visual language that can be used to provide a richer and clear cut understanding” toward discussion points and learning various lessons.
I’m brainstorming a structure to help my clients understand the basics of writing a book with the intent of self publishing. While being currently immersed in the doodling process, there seems to be a chasm opening up, allowing me to explore a creative way to make people love to learn what I’d like to teach. It’s a visual language that helps get the point across. In fact, Kindle Direct has an introduction to self publishing that is done in doodle animation, making what can be a muddled process a little easier to understand. And as someone who has spent many hours in meetings with visually inclined digital technologists plotting SEO or DRM with drawings on whiteboards hung in geek chic conference rooms – I get it.
Here’s that CBS segment I love so much. Sign me up. I’m part of Doodle Nation: