Lower your standards. Now!

Carl Richards, from Free Yourself of Your Harshest Critic, and Plow Ahead:

You’re fired. No, seriously. Pack up your stuff, and get out. But let me be clear: The job you’re fired from is one you never should have had in the first place — being a critic of your own work. Done, finished, not your job anymore. When you finish creating something and you start to wonder if it’s any good … nope! Don’t try to answer. You no longer get to decide. If you need me to fire you, awesome, consider it done. But in fact, what would be even better is if you fire yourself. Let me tell you why.

Five or six years ago, when I first started writing the weekly Sketch Guy column, I would have pieces I was certain would go viral. I said to myself, “I nailed it, everyone’s going to love it, a million people are going to share it!” And then, I would hear nothing. For some reason, it just didn’t get the play — no comments, no feedback, nothing. Then there were times when I was completely surprised in the opposite way…I had this experience enough times to realize that I was simply terrible at judging whether my work was good or not. And guess what? So are you. You’re just too close to it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to matter, as your job now officially has nothing to do with deciding if the work is good. Your job is to do the work, put it out there and let the world decide.  Now, I know that sounds scary. But let’s be dead clear about something: You’re not John Steinbeck (and neither was he, at the start). You have to get there first. And the only way to do that is through practice and criticism. But the only way to get practice and criticism is to make and share your work. This isn’t just about writing. It’s about anything meaningful you do. Singing, painting, entrepreneurship, giving financial advice, museum curating, boat building, skiing, whatever. Whatever it is, your job is to do the work, to become the best you can be. [Read more…]

When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?

David Hockney was way ahead of today’s ubiquitous selfies. In the 1980s—already famous for his painted landscapes of California pools and suburban houses—he threw himself into drawn, painted and photographed self-portraits…

At first the Hockney self-portraits showed vulnerability and self-consciousness, according to Dr. Brooks. But over the years, he adds, they showed intense self-examination. Mr. Hockney has depicted himself with his mouth wide open in surprise, with a scowl or with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth at an angle.

The results, as well as Mr. Hockney’s wider interest in photographic collage, are the main focus of “Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockney,” a celebration of his turning 80 at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, opening in two stages, June 27 and July 18. Most of the versions of Mr. Hockney on view, though, don’t make for a cheery celebration. “I usually only draw myself in down periods,” Mr. Hockney told London’s Telegraph newspaper in 2001. “I suppose that’s why I often draw myself looking grim. I just think, ‘Let’s have a look in the mirror.’ When you are alone and you look in a mirror you never put on a pleasing smile. Well, you don’t, do you?”

~ Alexandra Wolfe, from Self-Portraits and Photos for David Hockney Birthday (wsj.com, June 23, 2017)


Notes:

  • Photograph top: David Hockney with ‘Blue Terrace Los Angeles March 8th 1982’.
  • Drawing: David Hockney ‘Self Portrait, 20 March 2012 (1219), iPad drawing printed on paper, mounted on Dibond.

 

Why a few little sparks?

What am I doing

but striking a few little sparks

when what the occasion demands is a comet?

~ Seamus Heaney, interviewed in The Art of Poetry No. 75

 


Notes:

  • Photo: First photograph of a comet. Image obtained by Jules Janssen on June, 30, 1881 (via The Future of the Past)
  • Post Inspired by Maurice Vlaminck: “I seem initially to have followed Fauvism, and then to have followed in Cézanne’s footsteps. Whatever – I do not mind… as long as first of all I remained Vlaminck.” (via CozyHuarique)
  • Heaney Quote via Schonwieder

Photographer (Pro and so much more)

I don’t know about other people’s cameras. Mine is a thing I had cobbled up, it holds together with tape and is always losing parts. All I need to set is the distance and that other thing – what do you call that other thing? I’m not a fan of mechanics. I have had this camera, still the same one, since I started taking photos. It has lived with me, shared many moments of my existence, both good and bad. If I ever lost it… well, the very idea of having to live without it pulls at my heart. […]

(What kind of painting did you do?) I started with earth, which I mixed with other materials, such as leaves, I’m not even sure I should call it painting. After that I tried canvas and real colours. Then I destroyed everything. Later on I wrote poetry, which I also destroyed. Finally I discovered photography and realized that it allowed me to produce something more powerful. Of course it cannot create, nor express all we want to express. But it can be a witness of our passage on earth, like a notebook. […]

To be sure the landscape can’t run away, and yet I always fear that it may…I must set up my tripod, so I worry that the landscape may disappear the next second and I don’t stop keeping an eye on it while I get prepared. Then, when pressing the shutter, I hold my breath. These moments are the greatest joys in my life, as if I were undressing the most beautiful woman in the world – that is, if she will allow herself be undressed. If the photo is a success, it means that she was willing. If not, it has been a lovely dream. […]

A photo isn’t only what you see, but also what your imagination adds to it. My own imagination may add something else, a third person’s something else again. But does it matter? What matters is the contact between us, the fact that we talk about trees losing their leaves, about objects we crush underfoot without realizing it, about that house dying gently, abandoned by its owner, even though it’s the house where he was born, where he learnt to cry and to laugh.

Mario Giacomelli, (1925-2000)

Don’t miss the entire fascinating interview by Frank Horvat @ Horvatland.com


Photo: Mario Giacomelli, maestro crudo (via lacarosella). Quotes: Thank you Beth @ Alive on All Channels

 

300 Arguments

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It takes x hours to write a book and some percentage of x hours to wish I were a different writer, writing a different book.
____

A great photographer insists on writing poems. A brilliant essayist insists on writing novels. A singer with a voice like an angel insists on singing only her own, terrible songs. So when people tell me I should try to write this or that thing I don’t want to write, I know what they mean.
____

I don’t write long forms because I’m not interested in artificial deceleration. As soon as I see the glimmer of a consequence, I pull the trigger.
____

My least favorite received idea about writing is that one must find one’s voice, as if it’s there inside you, ready to be turned on like a player piano. Like character, its very existence depends on interaction with the world.
____

Slowly, slowly, I accumulate sentences. I have no idea what I’m doing until suddenly it reveals itself, almost done.

~ Sarah Manguso, excerpts on writing from her new book titled “300 Arguments” (February 7, 2017)


Inspired by brainpickings:

I learned that, to be a writer, one has first got to be what he is, what he was born…. You had only to remember what you were.

~ William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches & Public Letters


Related Posts: Sarah Manguso

Like the white puff

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I contacted a well-known artist to discuss the possibility of drawing lessons. As a child, I used to draw all the time. It absorbed me completely. At some point, writing replaced drawing and what had once been second nature (drawing) became foreign. But the urge to draw had remained. I missed its simple and primordial pleasures…

When she asked me why I wanted her to teach me drawing, I replied, “Sometimes you just want to sit back and be led.”…The artist peered at me thoughtfully for a moment. Her blue eyes were clear and perfectly lined with kohl. Finally she spoke, with the hint of bemusement. She said the students who came to her were always full of hunger. They were seventeen-year old aspiring artists and eighty-five-year-old retired businessmen. People of mourned, mislaid, or unmined creativity. Their yearning was like the white puff of a dandelion. All she had to was blow gently and watch their creative spores lift, scatter, and take seed.

~ Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation 


Notes:

Big Foot

Natalie-Weinberger-ceramics-art

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ceramics2

Natalie Weinberger, a Brooklyn-based ceramic artist, made the Big Foot Collection paying homage to the elevated vessel: wheel thrown chalices, stemware, and a variety of other elevated table top items ranging from the useful to the absurd. She uses an unusual blend of materials: a mixture of recycled stoneware, porcelain scraps, and black volcanic sand to create raw texture on her utilitarian creations.  Natalie deeply appreciates supplies that become alive after modelling and firing – quoting the past while making everyday minimalist objects that feel contemporary.”

Don’t miss checking out:


Source: Ignant.com

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness.

walk-through-walls-marina-abramovic

Deep shame, maximum self-consciousness. When I was young it was impossible for me to talk to people. Now I can stand in front of three thousand people without any notes, any preconception of what I’m going to say, even without visual material, and I can look at everyone in the audience and talk for two hours easily.

What happened?

Art happened.

When I was fourteen, I asked my father for a set of oil paints. He bought them for me, and also arranged for a painting lesson from an old partisan friend of his, an artist named Filo Filipović. Filipović, who was part of a group called Informel, painted what he called abstract landscapes. He arrived in my little studio carrying paints, canvas, and some other materials, and he gave me my first painting lesson.

He cut out a piece of canvas and put it on the floor. He opened a can of glue and threw the liquid on the canvas; he added a little bit of sand, some yellow pigment, some red pigment, and some black. Then he poured about half a liter of gasoline on it, lit a match, and everything exploded. “This is a sunset,” he told me. And then he left.

This made a big impression on me. I waited until the charred mess had dried, and then very carefully pinned it to the wall. Then my family and I left for vacation. When I came back, the August sun had dried everything up. The color was gone and the sand had fallen off. There was nothing left but a pile of ashes and sand on the floor. The sunset didn’t exist anymore.

Later on, I understood why this experience was so important. It taught me that the process was more important than the result, just as the performance means more to me than the object.

~ Marina Abramovic, Walk Through Walls: A Memoir (October 25, 2016)


Marina Abramović, 69, is a Serbian performance artist based in New York. Her work explores the relationship between performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind. Active for over three decades, Abramović has been described as the “grandmother of performance art.” She pioneered a new notion of identity by bringing in the participation of observers, focusing on “confronting pain, blood, and physical limits of the body.” The passage above is from her recently recently memoir.

Over 30,000,000 viewers have watched her performance on this Youtube video: Don’t miss it here.


Monday Morning Wake-Up Call: A Passion for Work

 

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In books: truth, and daring, passion of all sorts. Clear and sweet and savory emotion did not run in a rippling stream in my personal world— more pity to it! But in stories and poems I found passion unfettered, and healthy. Not that such feelings were always or even commonly found in their clearest, most delectable states in all the books I read. Not at all! I saw what skill was needed, and persistence— how one must bend one’s spine, like a hoop, over the page— the long labor. I saw the difference between doing nothing, or doing a little, and the redemptive act of true effort. Reading, then writing, then desiring to write well, shaped in me that most joyful of circumstances— a passion for work.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Staying Alive” in Upstream, Selected Essays


Notes:

My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive

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It is a silver morning like any other. I am at my desk. Then the phone rings, or someone raps at the door. I am deep in the machinery of my wits. Reluctantly I rise, I answer the phone or I open the door. And the thought which I had in hand, or almost in hand, is gone. Creative work needs solitude. It needs concentration, without interruptions. It needs the whole sky to fly in, and no eye watching until it comes to that certainty which it aspires to, but does not necessarily have at once. Privacy, then. A place apart — to pace, to chew pencils, to scribble and erase and scribble again.

But just as often, if not more often, the interruption comes not from another but from the self itself, or some other self within the self, that whistles and pounds upon the door panels and tosses itself, splashing, into the pond of meditation. And what does it have to say? That you must phone the dentist, that you are out of mustard, that your uncle Stanley’s birthday is two weeks hence. You react, of course. Then you return to your work, only to find that the imps of idea have fled back into the mist. […]

It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Of Power and Time” in Upstream, Selected Essays (Penguin Press, October 2016)


Notes:

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