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I am UmberDove.

And by that, I mean an artist.  One who hears stories in the wind, who paints because it is what her soul tells her to do, who smiths because the muse moves through her fingertips, who loves nothing more than the promise of an unexplored trail, the sound of the ocean in her ears, and scent of a serious cup of coffee.

Week 6 - Building Momentum

Onward and Upward

Kelly Clark

“Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.”  - Neil Gaiman

You are a Daughter of the Earth,  and You are on time for your life. 

With those words I bring you our final video!

To recap a touch... 

The work of your hands is important (and I firmly hold this as truth, regardless as to whether others see that work, whether you keep it for yourself or sell it, whether it travels the world or stays at home)!  As is your time, your thoughts and your energy.  So know deep down inside that you are a Maker and that you deserve to Make.  Celebrate that!

Schedule another artist date for yourself.  Just do it.  Remember that a big part of our work as artists takes place before we ever put brush to canvas or thread to needle.  It can be a whole day outing, or it can be a quick 20 minutes, but either way, take yourself out of the daily to-do and breathe, see, listen and feel.  Your art thanks you. 

And lastly, I thank you too.  I love sharing this space with you, and thank you deeply for joining with me in this artistic community.  Truly, I appreciate you. 

For the remainder of 2013 (until December 31st), feel free to revisit any and all of the course content; it will be here for you to watch, read, and glean from.  The FaceBook group will also remain live until that date (after which I'll be merging it with the True Center Alumni Group), so keep sharing the thoughts and ideas you're working through and the art you're creating!

(p.s. I found that quote:  ”Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor [artist]. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”  - Steven Pressfield)

With ALL my Love and Thanks, 

- K

Balance

Kelly Clark

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”  - Robert Henri

I'll not get tired of saying it:  Art making is truly a practice.  And like any practice, our work develops over time and energy.  One of the gorgeous things about art making is that building our awareness, building the ability to consciously see around us, is a big part of that time.  The intaking of sights, sounds, scents, experience and emotion all count towards your art!  Truly!  And when we spend time in our sketchbooks recording and exploring that, we cultivate rich sources of new material from which to work with.  

Which leads us to the next phase: So you've spent the last five weeks building up collections of lists, ideas, sketches, doodles, color play, and writings... and now you're on to bridging the gap between your sketchbook into your various mediums.  We've talked quite a bit on asking questions (does this need to be realistic, what does this remind me of, how can I imitate my marks and lines in pencil to textures in metal, leather, fabric, paper, brush, etc), and talked much on exploring thoughts and images through exploration pages, free associations and field notes.  This is a huge part of the way I work, consciously searching, looking, wondering, writing, but today I want to bring us to balance, one final big check in with our intuition. 

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Conscious thought answers so many of our questions, but every now and then, it's easy to become bogged down in the swirl of ideas and notions.  To get stuck in our own heads - I feel it as a near physical sensation wherein all my thoughts (and there are a LOT) are tumbling inside the constrains of my skull, so much happening in a mere 10 inch diameter oval, that I can hardly decide which way to turn.  When this happens, I turn to a few simple practices to clear the confusion and return to a balance of flowing thoughts.

Grounding

Sometimes it's tough to step back when we only have a certain amount of time to work in our studio, or when we set certain goals and accomplishments that we want to see achieved.  But when I find myself in this place of the swirling mind, no matter the time constraints, I know I need to step back for a few moments and bring myself back into the present time and place.  If it's possible, walk outside, take off your shoes and stand with your bare feet on the earth (and if not, your bare feet on your living room floor will do just fine).  Take a three long, deep, slow breaths, thinking about filling your whole belly with that pure air.  Notice your feet, and think about not just standing on top of the earth, but standing in the earth, a vital, breathing, beating part of all the life around you.  You are important, and you are here.  Continue breathing and feeling the whole world connected to your feet as long as it feels good.  The very act of grounding helps bring us back into present time, to feel a connection with our here and now, and for me, to allow the unnecessary chafing thoughts to fall away and for clarity to shine through.

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 Movement

Ladies, I'm here to tell you that you need to dance.   Or at the very least, wave your arms in the air like a wild woman.  I imagine that most of us have been in the place of working so focused on figuring out our thoughts, so concentrated on the image at hand, that we become tight.  That gripping sensation wherein you're just trying so hard to get it all down, to accomplish "x", to make it just right if it's the last thing you do on this earth.  I get it - oh yes, I know that place too well.  I also know that for me, it's one of the first steps down the path of frustration, especially if it's during a limited amount of studio time.  And it is absolutely one of those times to shake. it. up.

Put on some beats and dance through one whole song, belt out the lyrics, stomp your feet, wave your arms.  Even if it feels ridiculous, even if you need to move ever so gently, move your body!  A few beautiful things happen:  When we become tight in the hand and mind, our bodies instinctually want to pull closed, protect our soft underbelly; our muscles tense and prepare to protect and defend us from [even emotional] threat.  We start holding that emotion of frustration in our physical being.  But when we spread our arms wide, when we extend our torso, we allow those muscles to stretch and open, to relax and release some of that tension we were physically holding.  We tell our bodies, in the most primal and non-verbal way, "hey, it's safe to open, it's safe to move" and in turn, that message gets delivered to our brains.  Feel good endorphins are released, our circulatory system pumps, and some of that chafe from earlier falls off.  It's a beautiful thing!  And as a grand added bonus, you've raised some energy of movement and motion all around you, which always brings a dose of life to our artwork.

Speaking

One of my last practices to clear the swirl when it begins to overpower me, is to speak out loud to my muse.  Now I'm aware that this may feel borderline odd for some, but there is so much power to words!  When I'm overwhelmed, when I can't sort through ideas for the sheer number of them, when I'm caught up in a cyclical spin of same thoughts, I'll often say out loud "This is too much, too many, too confusing; I'd appreciate it if you could be more clear."  Or those moments when I'm just about to fall asleep, or driving down the highway and a tumble of brilliance shines down, "If you want me to create this, can you please come back when I can write it down?"  Just the very act of speaking those words out loud puts us in a place of intention and I always feel those intentions come back to us tenfold.  

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With that, I want to leave you today with a simple to-do:  Be kind with yourself.  Be gentle and be proud, because the work of your hands is vital and good.   

In big love, 

- K

Live Q&A

Kelly Clark

Here's your link to Tuesday night's Live Q&A session ladies! 

http://www.spreecast.com/events/true-center-fall-2nd-live-qa

Asking the Questions to Open the Doors

Kelly Clark

"Be faithful to that which exists within yourself.”  - André Gide

Over the past weeks we've been gathering inspirations and ideas, compiling notions and marks, building color, image and story; this week I'd like to discuss moving forward with all this goodness into the work of your hands.  One of the questions that often arrises as we begin moving from idea development into the final piece is "how much does this need to look exactly like my idea/inspiration/dream/original concept" as was written and sketched in my book?  I find this to be an especially pertinent question as we continue to check in with our intuition, to keep our hands loose and easy, and to keep our hearts full with the work we want to bring forth - as well as a question that we may answer differently at any time in our trajectory of creating!  While that answer is as highly individual as we are, there are a few ways that I like to look at things in order to both answer that question and keep a spirit of play and freshness in the work.

Taking loads of artistic liberty with a "realistic" jackrabbit.

Taking loads of artistic liberty with a "realistic" jackrabbit.

A question I'll play with in my own work is does this need/want to be Realistic, Recognizable,  Abstract, or some combination of all three?  Now this can run similar lines to creating work from life, from photographs or from memory, but I find consciously recognizing these differences to be immensely liberating when I sit down to work. 

Working with Realism

When I think on Realism, I imagine an image that looks like the "thing" that is being portrayed - noting that looks like is not the same as photo realism (if your work and your vision require exact photo realism, then it is Important and certain do carry on!  However, if your work only requires that a certain thing look like what it is, then I see that as an invitation to some artistic liberty).  For me, realism holds many specific details; I may study the shapes, lines, colors and patterns, I may want to render it in such a way that it reads very precisely as the "thing" in question - even if it does not look like a photograph!  One of the beautiful things about working with our hands, is that ALL of our work takes on our unique handprint.  All those specifics and imagery you create are from your hand, and when we work with realism, one of the most fabulous parts is that there is STILL your individual fingerprint in the lines and marks you create.

Working with a Realistic Doe and Trillium, Recognizable mountains, and Abstract marks, rings and halos.

Working with a Realistic Doe and Trillium, Recognizable mountains, and Abstract marks, rings and halos.

Working with Recognizable

I think the difference between Realism and Recognizable can be vast!  When I think on Recognizable, I imagine an image that references the thing being portrayed.  Rather than being tied to specifics and details, it may be highly inventive, supremely stylized, utterly loose or so simplified that it just hints at the original "thing."  When we work with Recognizable, there is a huge amount of liberty to invent as feels good - and to realize that nothing ever needs to look exactly like the real, tangible, physical thing we're referencing.  This is your art, your creation, and there is not a soul on the earth who can tell you what it is "supposed" to look like.

Working with Abstraction

I think of Abstraction as the releasing of recognizable imagery.  If we think of Realism as engaging the cognitive, literal, conscious thinking part of the brain, then Abstraction engages the pre-verbal, purely sensory part of the brain (and we can think of Recognizable as the wild child who plays with both).  For me, Abstraction is a way to connect deeply with intuition.  While we may not recognize what is being referenced in Abstraction, we can certainly key into the way it makes us feel, the movement it portrays, the emotions it evokes.  It may look like pure color fields, it may look like wild doodles and marks, it may be slick and sharp, or it may be full of drips and graduating hues.  

Working with a Realistic Barn Owl and vertebrae, Recognizable birds, and Abstract "weeping" clouds and smoke swirls.

Working with a Realistic Barn Owl and vertebrae, Recognizable birds, and Abstract "weeping" clouds and smoke swirls.

like referencing these three styles of approaching our work as we begin to look forward to the work we're now creating.  By acknowledging each one as valid and acknowledging that they can coexist quite beautifully, we can give ourself a giant permission slip to create from a place of freedom.  No one piece of work needs to be all Realistic, or all Abstract, but rather, these are just tools to be utilized as you see fit.

Now I'm aware for some these distinctions may seem like something you covered in art school long ago, but I like to give a little refresher for a few reasons.  As humans we naturally fall into labels quite easily: I'm an abstract painter, I'm a stone-setting silversmith, I'm a western leather-tooler, the list goes on.  I'm here to say that we are Creative Beings, and that at any point we can shift or even remove the labels we have worn.  As a Creative Being we are always learning, always in full agency to create the type of work we wish, in the medium and style we want to pursue.   When we step back for a moment and ask "what do I want to create and how do I want to create it," we open up the pathway forward.  When we consider the options of Realism, Recognizable, Abstraction and how we might combine them, we gift ourselves with the ability to choose what feels exactly right, right now.  And what could be fresher, truer than that?

Last week we ended our time of storytelling work by really engaging with and developing the narratives we hold within.  This week, as we move forward with translating all those ideas and inspirations into our current body of work (i.e. developing the idea phase to the research and development phase to the final piece phase), I'd like you to take a look at the concepts you're working with, WITH an eye to your medium of choice.  When you work with your inspirations, ideas, stories, ask yourself how you can show them in your chosen medium in a Realistic way.  What if you were to drop realism and move towards them in a Recognizable way?  Is there a way you can develop them in an Abstract way?  Every medium we take on offers us new strengths; if you work in multiple mediums, is there one that feels like it lends itself well to one of these methods?  Is there anyway for you to combine the strengths of each by combining multiple mediums in one piece?  Play with all these questions, and remember that above all, you get to create exactly the right work for you and your path at any given moment in time.

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To you, my Creative Beings, 

- K