Creativity in everyday life — Take time off

Doris Charest

Taking time off is as important as working. That is what all the literature research says. I did not believe this in my early days. I kept working when I had two minutes here and five minutes there. I ended up getting work done this way, but I could not find the main goal in my minutes. I could make work; in this case, paintings. They were good and they sold but I felt like I was missing something. I could never find time to make the one year or five year plan. I wanted to have a main purpose to this creating that I loved to do. The purpose or main goal to my work did not exist. I did not have the time for it.

One day, the kids were at the pool with friends, my husband was away and there I was, sitting with nothing to do. The laundry was done. Supper was in the crock pot. There was no precedent for this in my life and I did not know what to do with myself. I could have rushed to my painting table but for some reason, I did not. I sat there. I started thinking about my artwork and what I loved about it. What I did not love about it. What did I want to do with it? I had a gallery that liked it. I was selling. My friends loved it. My husband put up with it. I had a lot of good elements going. But and this was a big BUT, I was not happy. Creating the product gave me joy but I wanted more. I wanted a longterm purpose.

So, sitting there, I picked up a piece of paper and a pencil. I wrote down what I thought would be the best longterm goals. I came up with creating awareness about art and creating the best product that nobody could resist. Then I stopped. This sounded like something I was doing for others. What did art do for me? Why did I like it?

I loved creating something out of a blank piece of paper, a pencil and a bit of paint. It was a bit like magic. I found it hard to believe that this magic came out of me. The creating also made me feel good. I did want that. What could I keep doing that would make me happy and provide something more to society. What did I want to provide? I was stumped here. I sat there and thought.

My list grew but I kept rejecting everything almost as I wrote it down. I did learn that brainstorming meant writing down absolutely everything that came to my head so I kept writing down. I was still writing down items when my kids came home. I had to stop. I knew that I was not done so I grabbed another piece of paper and tucked it in with my ideas. I had to keep writing.

Several days later, I was still writing down ideas in my minutes that I had to myself. I even volunteered to babysit some kids I found badly behaved in my babysitting coop because I wanted more time off. Their mom agreed to trade with me eagerly because no one liked babysitting her kids. They turned out to be well behaved because when they first came into the house, I told them the house rules.

I had learned this trick to babysitting from my mom when she had come to visit once and I had some of the kid’s friends over. They started not listening when they realized that the two adults were busy having a chat.

She stopped all the playing, sat them on the sofa and sternly told them the house rules in THIS house, right now and forever. The consequences of bad behaviour were included. I adopted this technique in my repertoire and it has worked ever since.

The time came for my children to go to her house. I took out my list and scanned it. None of the ideas of why I was doing art spoke to me. I did not know what to do. Did I need to stop doing art? My gut said no. Persevere! I started adding to my list. By the time the kids came home, I had decided.

In my art career, I had done portraits, still life, animals, landscape and designed logos. I liked it all up to a point. I could do portraits if I put my mind to it but I did not love it. The same was true of still life. I liked the arrangement of shapes to create a pleasing effect but again, up to a point. What I did really like was landscape.

There were all sorts of reasons not to pick landscape. Landscape was ‘out’ in the contemporary art world. Issues like abuse, poverty or politics were in. Again, I did not love ‘issues’. They just made me sad that the world was out of sorts. I loved texture, colour and light. I could find all of that in landscape. Landscape had enough variety to keep me interested. I could do different themes; trees, water, skies or even erosion.

Those were all the good reasons to say yes to landscape. What I needed to do now is decide how I wanted to treat the theme but that would have to wait for another long thinking moment in time. I felt happy. I had decided my purpose.

The kids came home and life started again. I wonder now what would have happened if I had not had that period of time to think about my work. Would I have gone on creating without a goal? This period of time changed my art life.

To come back to the beginning, take the time to think about your work. What do you really like doing. You have a limited amount of time, if you are a working parent and you need to use it wisely. I found out later that this moment of ‘aha’ is called flow. Wikepedia says:

Flow — the mental state of being completely present and fully immersed in a task — is a strong contributor to creativity. When in flow, the creator and the universe become one, outside distractions recede from consciousness and one’s mind is fully open and attuned to the act of creating. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is the king of flow. He wrote several books on the topic and I strongly recommend them. Flow is what happens when you create and when you get those wonderful ideas. Look at these videos:

These videos will help you learn how to enhance your creative side and be even more productive.

They helped me a lot. I hope it helps you too.

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Creativity in everyday life — Sharing your love of art


Sharing your love of art can occur in different ways. You can talk about your artwork to others. Start with the people around you. Your family. When you start tasks, they suggest that you start with your toughest challenge first. This idea comes from a book called ‘Eat that frog -21 ways to stop procrastinating’. (https://www.amazon.ca/Eat-That-Frog-Great-Procrastinating/dp/1576754227)

If you do your hardest task first, the rest is a breeze. I find family and friends the hardest task because they do not see you as the dedicated artist you are. You are ‘the wife’, ‘the mom’, ‘the friend that helps them out in time of need’ , or ‘the go-to person for help’. An artist has many hats and the artist hat is often invisible to our closest and dearest. They need our other skills. However, teaching them to love art as you do is the first task you need to put on your list.

One way is to stop to look at art and ask them their opinion is one way. Stop and look at a public sculpture, for example, and ask questions like: Is that a good spot for that sculpture? Don’t ask what do you think of that sculpture because you will only get a pat answer like hate it or love it. Ask about a different way to look at the artwork. Is that the right material for that artwork? Is there a colour that would work better? Have them look at it differently.

Show your family and friends your artwork. Don’t say ‘What do you think?’. You will be disappointed. Ask questions like is the ‘peony’ or ‘pear’ in the right place? Or the right colour? If you paint landscape, ask about the texture of the tree. I am willing to bet that most of them have never looked at the texture of a tree before. The next time they see a tree, they will notice. Then they will compare it to the tree in your painting.

Starting to teach your audience to look is the best way of creating an audience. Teach them to see what you see. The average person rarely takes the time to see the beauty of clouds or the colour of a pear. Surprizingly, there is very little information about how to see. As artists, we naturally notice details and how different details are put together but not so for the average person, I discovered. This is a talent that is learned when we become interested in artist work. One photographer discusses how he goes about seeing what is around him in this article: http://www.creativesgo.com/art_of_seeing.html

Visual literacy is not valued in our everyday life. By literacy, I mean, looking at what is around us and really seeing it. One book: The Art of Seeing: An Interpretation of the Aesthetic Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Rick E. Robinson, focuses on the psychology of the aesthetic experience and on the perception and understanding of art, suggesting ways to raise levels of visual literacy and enhance artistic enjoyment.

Both these authors insist that we need to teach people how to see and be more creative in order to have a better work force, one that can creatively solve problems because they are able to see multiple sides to a problem.

The greater the creative side in people, the better they solve problems. Wouldn’t that be wonderful in everyday life. People would not get upset or angry, they would just think ‘How do I solve this problem?’ and go about doing it. I must admit that the theory is wonderful and would love to see it at work.

Visual literacy teaches people to analyze problems and see, understand, think, create and communicate graphically. In order to do all, the student must always carefully observe. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_literacy) tells us that looking at films is a good way to increase visual literacy according to Martin Scorsese.

This involves exploring how ideas and emotions are expressed and the use of lighting to create an emotional or physiological point. He explains how there is a need for children to understand these concepts.

Visual literacy is a growing field. Being able to ‘read’ media, interpret it or even analyze it is growing as a skill. What are people saying when they use a certain kind of font when writing text in an advertisement or what they are saying with colour combinations is important. Without the visual literacy, we are being manipulated by what we see. This is all the more reason for you to start teaching others about art.

When people are able to see what is in front of them, they will better see your own artwork. Starting small, so to speak, with your own family and friends will create a link between all of you that will grow. Won’t it be fun when someone in your family starts actually seeing the sunset everyday and actually notices. Or, if they start looking at posters and say, ‘That could be done better.’ There is a whole world out there that you and only you can change.

I hope this article helps you. Writing about it helped me learn that I have slacked off doing the visual training in my own circle….. time to get at it.

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Creativity in everyday life — 4 Things great artists do differently

I came across some points that are bound to help any artist. If you are just starting out or have been working at art a while, these are great points to ponder.

  1. Focus on a special subject. Choose something that you can do for a long time. This doesn’t mean that you cannot do anything else. It means that you show your specialty but once in while, you work on a second subject. That topic is your ‘relaxing’ moment. You may or may not show later when you are more adept at it or have enough for a series. Again, the choice is yours. You can have it as a fun moment or a series that you are working towards in the future.

One artist I know solved her dual interests by showing her flowers in one city and her figures in a different city far from the first city. Overall, you do need to become an expert in one area. Make your speciality stronger by saying no to anything not in your line. An artist that did this well is Robert Bateman. He worked on animals with a mostly abstract background most of his career.

2. Step away when you are stumped, the answer will come. Go for a walk. All artists get blocked once in a while. Each artist needs to develop their own rituals that will help them break out of their slump. Many artists, including Claude Monet, Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Bateman choose nature as their way to relax when they are stumped. They spent and spend long periods of time outdoors. Other artists go dancing, go swimming or go to concerts. Find the element that helps you and go for it!

3. Be consistent in one element related to your topic or style. Let’s say that you work with the same three colors all the time but after a while, you are totally done with those colors. Don’t drop all three colors. Drop one and add ONE different one. Your audience will notice the change but the colors will still be typically yours. If you still want to change it up, get your audience used to your one new color then and only then change a second color. An artist that has done this well is Kandinsky. Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky was a Russian painter and art theorist. He is credited with painting one of the first recognized purely abstract works. For more information about him, go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wassily_Kandinsky

Adapt your subject when you tire of it. If you painted trees for years but now you need a change, look at something related to trees. Maybe you will do only foliage or the trunk of the tree with what is at its base as the seasons change. Make a gradual change towards something different. An artist that did this well is Mondrian. Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan, after 1906 Piet Mondrian, was a Dutch painter and theoretician who is regarded as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. He painted his abstractions with a few colours at first then gradually changed colours and linear elements.

I hope this helps you .

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.com/user/dorischarest/

For more information on mixed media by Doris Charest:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCltBfqSMAK0OOWeXaKGud6Q?view_as=subscriber
https://www.facebook.com/dorischarest
https://www.pinterest.ca/dalinec/
https://www.instagram.com/dorischarest/
https://www.udemy.com/user/edit-profile/
https://www.skillshare.com/user/dorischarest

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

Thanks for reading, and please do recommend, like, share, comment, etc. Thanks.

Till next time …

Blogging blues – Blogging is hard but I have one idea -a school mural.

I have the blogging blues.  I am stuck!  Everywhere, absolutely everywhere I read, the literature says that I should blog regularly.  I am not a regular blogger simply because I have trouble finding topics to write about.  I would love suggestions if you read this. 

I went to a lecture/talk by Michelle Blanc who gave us some wonderful tips on social media updates that we should initiate.  http://www.michelleblanc.com   Mainly, she emphasized finding your niche and writing about that.  I am not sure I have a niche.  I love mixed media and know a lot of information about this but is that my niche?  

She also said that we should talk about our environment; what we see or do.  My latest is finishing a mural with a friend of mine, Karen Blanchet, https://karenblanchet.ca, at the Ecole Pere Lacombe School.  Thanks to Josee Lemire, the principal,  for the opportunity: https://pl.centrenord.ab.ca/ecole  We loved working with the children and helping them paint the mural.  Putting it together was a challenge.  Each of the little squares were painted by the students then we had to put them all together.  The steps actually went like this:

Pre work: We meet with the Principal and discuss the theme and the location of the mural.  Several meetings later, we set a budget that goes in for approval.  Once approved, we decide dates that will work for the school and for us.  There will be a time to prep the mural, a time to work with the students and teachers and a time to put together the mural.

1.We get the two pieces of plywood and put them on a frame.

2. We add some mural fabric on top of the mural without adhering it.

3. We draw out the mural – the school logo in this case.

4. We paint an undercoat of colour for the mural.

5. We cut the mural into 5 x 5 inch squares. This was long because we had to label each square. 

6. The students paint the pieces based on a theme decided on by the school. This takes a week.

7. We put all the pieces back together again!  This was a very interesting puzzle.  There are always glitches.  Keep that in mind. 

8. We gel the pieces on then gel the surface several times.

9. We varnish the mural 3 x. 

10. We seal the edges with silicone. 

11. We call the school for pick-up.

12.  The school sets up the mural and we attend the opening. 

My biggest blog blues issue is that I am not sure what people want to know.  I know a lot of technical information related to art, but is that what people want to know?  Do you want to know about the ins and outs of being an artist or ??????

Here is a new work of mine.  This is what I like to talk the most about- the work. Is that enough?

 

You are invited to my art show

September Newsletter and invitation to my September show.
Sunflower in the wind Mixed media on paper 9 x 12 in

Time flies and a lot has happened since the last newsletter.
First, let me invite you to my show at the CAVA Gallery
on Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427

The clouds floated by......
The clouds floated by……

The opening night is the best time to visit the gallery. There are snacks and you can talk to the artists. It is a fun time.

I have spent a lot of time in my studio creating for the show coming up. The theme is skies. I love the abstract quality of the colours in the sky and that is what attracted me to this topic. The skies I saw in India last year started me looking at skies here in Alberta. I started seeing colours in the sky that I did not realize were there. One colour leaked into other colours until there was a blanket of multiple colours. I did get carried away with the variety and how they changed every second.
Looking at them, my first thought is that I have become traditional again. I usually like creating abstract work. However, if you focus on the skies, the abstract is there.

Every summer I try something different. This summer, I decided to build a sculpture/sign for the front of our house. My brother built me the form then I filled it with river/lake rock and cement. I put the step by step process on Facebook, if you want to know how it is done. People will now be able to find our house easily. None of the neighbours have a sign like this one. This was a fun project.

Rock sign by Doris Charest
Rock sign by Doris Charest

Shows: The above painting was accepted into ‘Painting on the Edge’ a show with the Federation of Canadian artists in Vancouver. Yahoo! Made me really happy.

A second exciting event happened. I got into the ‘Works on Paper show with the VAAA in Edmonton. This show will be in Edmonton and Calgary. Please check the VAAA web site for dates. Above is one of the three paintings in the show.

Charest 02. The creek by the trees Summer has gone quickly and my studio time limited due to family events but I have taken some great photos that will see me through the winter. We will soon be travelling and I will tell you all about that in the next newsletter.
Up the hill. Graphite, watercolour and collage on paper. VAAA works on paper show.

Charest 01. Up the hill Have a great day and come see me at my CAVA opening. Sept. 16th at 7pm.
Address: 9103 95 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6C 1Z4
Phone: (780) 461-3427

 

Artists Teaching Art

Teaching art is rewarding in ways that I did not expect.  You create a love of art and an appreciation for the basics in art but there is more to teaching than you think. Students teach you, the teacher, something that you may not expect.  Read more… Monet IMG_9160 small A sample of one of the assignments I gave at Ella  –  Painting in the style of Monet

Many artists end up teaching. Some prefer adults and others children. I don’t think it matters who your favorite students are, sharing your skills with others is a reward in itself.

When I teach, my favorite moment is when a student discovers they can create ‘something’ all by themselves. I call this the ‘aha’ moment. Out of drops of paint and a scrap of canvas, they have created and captured a moment in time or a piece of their psyche and creativity. Whether the work is realistic or abstract, capturing something that pleases the eye and the soul is a magic moment. It is equal to the ballet dancer executing the perfect movement, the baseball player hitting a home run, the musician capturing the essence of a piece of music or a hole in one golf shot. A perfect moment.

These moments come out of us in well spaced moments in time. The trick is learning the skills to create the magic moment more frequently. As a teacher, I find that teaching the students the skills to do this and getting the effects they want consistently is my ‘magic moment’ as a teacher. Seeing the students develop abilities that were not quite there before and gain confidence makes my heart warm with joy.

I had one of these magic moments when teaching at ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learning Association). For three weeks every year, Ella puts on courses for anyone ages 50+ to enjoy. You can take up to 4 courses a day in a multitude of subjects. There are courses on topics ranging from archaeology, history, music, politics, writing, fitness, using technology or art. There are interest group meetings and lunch hour speakers.

I was teaching an art class called ‘Introduction to Contemporary Painting’. We started learning about Klimt, Monet and Picasso in the first week then created paintings in those styles. Later we went on to try Pop art, Ready-made art, Abstraction, Minimalism, Sociological art, Linear Minimalism and our final project was an installation.

I had a great group of students.  My youngest student was 55 and the eldest 84.  There is one thing that I realized and that there is no age difference when it comes to creating art.  We all create at the stage we left off the last time we did artwork.  Then, we go on from there.  Skills have no age.  

You can learn them at any time.  The one important ‘skill’ you need is bravery.  You need to create without fear.  What comes out of you is your own particular interests in colours, marks or shapes.  The way you put it out there is totally formed by all your unique experiences.  Those life experiences will always differ from the person next to you.  What you create will always be unique.  What you need to to be brave enough to accept this, be content with it and go on to carve out your own uniqueness.

This is what I have learned from my students.  They have taught me more than I can ever teach them.  Teaching gives back more than you ever give to others.  Remember this fact.

Below are some of my student’s projects.  I have permission from my students but I have kept the names off to protect their privacy.  Enjoy the variety and quality of this work.  I had a great class! IMG_1059 sm IMG_1060 sm IMG_1061sm IMG_1063sm IMG_1064sm IMG_1065sm IMG_1066 sm

Clutter

Singled out 11 x 12 sm IMG_2458I had to add this to my blog! It is about messiness and creativity. I am known to be messy and cannot seem to ever get a handle on ‘it’. So, this article seems to be made for me.

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, then what are we to think of an empty desk?” -Albert Einstein

Creative thinking is any kind of thinking outside of the lines of conventional reasoning. It’s a loosely defined term to say the very least.  For me, if I cannot see the art materials or artwork, it does not exist….I need to see what is there and what my options are for that moment of creation.

Einstein, clearly a creative man, had no problem with a cluttered desk. He wasn’t alone either. Mark Twain attributed his imaginative characteristics to his cluttered work space. Steve Jobs, the massively successful inventor of numerous Apple products also had a messy desk. According to Vohs, it likely contributed to all of their geniuses.

But what does all that mean for you? Should you just trash your desk and house and call it good? Probably not. Messiness isn’t necessarily disorder. Simply let your things end up where they go.

This is from: http://higherperspectives.com/messy-space-creative/

Travel can influence in many ways

I am repeatedly surprised at what I retain after a trip.  I tend to sample the new foods and talk about them repeatedly to my friends.  After a trip to Mexico, I came back with pure chocolate from Oaxaca and made hot chocolate for my friends and family when I got back.  We were in the middle of winter and it was perfect then.  

My long term memories have left with impressions of what I saw and then I go to the easel and paint away.  For the last few years, I have painted scenes of the weather.  I am far from being a traditional painter but my trips lead the way to landscapes.  These are not your run-of-the-mill landscapes but impressions of my experience there.  

The skies have been a big influence as has the weather.  My journey to the Himalayas in August is doing the same thing to me.  I am painting skies again.  This is as much a surprise to me as the next person.  I have a tendency to abstract and rarely paint landscapes (usually).  I will have to figure this one out……Maybe, you can help?

Below: Storm….


Rain I 9 x 12 sm IMG_2665

Planning a show -your first solo

Tree on the hill 9 x 12 sm IMG_2631 As you mature as an artist, it is recommended that you have a solo show.  This shows that you are now moving into the ‘professional’ category and that you have a solid body of work created.  So, the question is:   How do I get to that point?

First, pick a theme that you enjoy painting.  If you are a landscape painter, pick one area (ie. Elk Island Park) and paint scenes from that area. Or, paint only trees. Or, paint only fall fields…. you get the idea.

Second, pick a color palette that you will use for all the series.  Six basic colors that you will use for the whole series.  You can vary this with a few more colors but stick to those chosen colors.

Third, create at least 20 works that you are happy with on that theme.  This may seem like a lot but when you go to fill a room with your own work, it has been my experience that you always need more work than you think.

Fourth, Work only on this series for a ‘certain’ time period.  If you concentrate on that series, your work will be more consistent.  Consistency is important for a solo show.

My landscape show – Views

For the month of April, 2015, I have a show at the Hemingway Centre in St. Albert.

VIEWS
25 Sir Winston Ave. St.Albert
Vasa St Albert

Preparing for it involved some serious elbow grease.  I had to decide what I wanted to show.  Although I had a lot of work ready, I wanted everything to go well together.  I ended up creating a whole ‘bunch’ of new work so that I had a cohesive show.  Tweaking some of the existing work too.  Even though I thought I would be ready early, I was burning the midnight oil until the day before.  The volunteers at the Centre put up the show (the artist was not allowed there) and they did a great job. I want to thank them for all their hard work.  The show could not have happened without them.