Creativity in everyday life — Essentialism View #1


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Essentialism for artists. Taking the principles of Essentialism and applying them to artists.

Essentialism applied to artists

Essentialism, according to Greg McKeown (https://gregmckeown.com/book/), is paring down what we want to do down to the essentials and necessary. As artists, we tend to do the opposite, I find. The more painting we create, the better; the more committees we are on, the better or the more busy we are the better.

”Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?” This is the question you ask yourself, McKeown says. If the answer is no, you don’t do it. If you hesitate and think about it, the answer is no and you don’t do it.

Let’s look at some ‘artistic’ examples.

An artist friend asks you to join him or her in a collaboration that will result in a show in a year’s time. This happens a lot in the art world. The theme is one that you have never worked on but the theme is intriguing and captures your interest.

Since you have never worked on such a topic, you look at what it might mean to you as you will have to neglect your current topic. Neglect is perhaps the wrong word. You will have less time to spend on your current practice. What do you do?

According to the Essentialist principles, the answer is no if it takes you away from your current work. You know this but the theme intrigues you. The theme would deepen your knowledge of x topic. It possible that it could add to your practice. The artist you are going to work with is also interesting. He or she works in a totally different way from you. Will that be a benefit or a problem?

There is a solution to this problem in the book by McKeown. You can define some perimeters until you decide. You can set a shorter trial period. You can say that you will try a trial period of two months, for example. You will work on it one day a week and you will meet with the artist partner once every two weeks.

At the end of those two months, you both decide if you want to continue. That is an essentialist compromise. Set up boundaries and guidelines to the project. This is good advice in any situation.

Example of possible problem:

Another art example is that a few artists get together to create a group where you will help each other learn about social media. You have a meeting, decide what you want to learn and delegate what we will learn to each other. The second meeting comes around. One of the members has not done their homework but you still share the information. The third meeting comes around. The same participant still has not done their homework. A second participant is missing because of a family matter. You still share.

The Essentialist would say; ‘Dump the group’. However, you see these people nearly every week in other activities. You feel like it would be politically incorrect to flat out dump the group. What do you do? McKeown would say that you find a nice way to dump the group. This is hard!

McKeown agrees but hard choices need to made in order for you not to waste your time on non-essentials. This group is not adding to your growth as an artist so it needs to be eliminated.

An Essentialist would be bold and say that this is disrupting them. This is hard! So you compromise, you put a note on your door saying you are busy and will come out when you are done. This artist still comes in. What now? The Essentialist would do the hard thing and tell the artist to stop coming in uninvited. Can you do this?

These are examples of what could happen and how you would have to decide what to do as an Essentialist. This book is worth reading for any artist. I think we could learn a lot.

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:

All photography and artwork by Doris Charest

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

Till next time …

Creativitiy in everyday life — Resistance or psychological blocks

Sometimes, people resist commitment. Are you resisting? Even in minor ways like waiting to the last minute or making your goals smaller and smaller. Reasons vary. Did you make your goals too ambitious? If lack of time is a factor, break down the project into segments.

Sometimes, the odds of achieving the goals seem overwhelming. There is a way to trick yourself into actually doing something for yourself and your goals. Here is what you do:

1. Make a list of what you want to change or creative element that you want to add to your life.

2. Break down each goal into small parts. The parts should be small enough that you can do each step in 5–10 minutes.

3. Pick only one goal (of the list you made). Rewrite the goal and the list of steps on a separate sheet of paper. Use bullet points.

4. What is the first step in the goal? Can you do this today?

Here is an example of one of my own goals from long ago.

Goal: To make myself a space in the house where I could paint in watercolours. Just to put the moment in context, we had just moved to a new city and the house was full of boxes that needed to be unpacked. I had two small children (a needy 3 year old and a six year old that was bored because there were no friends to be had).

I worked on the house every day but I really wanted my own space in this new house. I also wanted time to paint again. I had just started again before we moved. Moving had put everything on hold. I had a doctor to find for the kids. A school to find for my eldest. A play group for my youngest. The box with their clothes got lost in the move so clothes to buy. No food in the fridge and dirty floors from the movers bringing the boxes because it had rained the day we arrived. It just doesn’t rain, it pours….

I arranged the children’s rooms first so they would have a place to sleep and play. I arranged the living room furniture and kitchen furniture. Where could I set up a space for me? For the first time, we had a family room and a living room. This was a bigger house than we had before. We only had enough furniture for the family room. This left the living room empty and free.

My eldest kept doing gymnastics in the big space that looked like a gym so I decided that we didn’t need living room furniture yet. I set up a small table in the far corner of the living room and separated it with a standing screen that hid (more or less) the table from view. At least the children did not pay attention to it since they could not see the table with interesting things on it.

My first step was to set up the table for my painting. Period. That’s all. I unpacked boxes again. The next day I found my box of supplies. I did not open it –just placed it next to the table. I unpacked boxes again and looked up doctors. After about 15 calls, I found one that would take patients. The next day, I found my references (this is in the days of printed photo references) and placed them in the spot. I unpacked again.

I am sure that you get the picture now. Now the rest is up to you….. Ready, set, go!

Remember to break it down into small steps….

Start today towards your goal to be an artist.

Doris’ website:www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at :https://www.udemy.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 …

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 – The front yard

Creative moments – The front yard

A few years ago, this was my front yard project.  I made a sign for the front of the house.  Our visitors repeatedly said that they had trouble finding the house.  They could not see the number.  I picked rocks from a lake where we go camping and washed them (Because it was August, many of the rocks had algae stuck to them-an Alberta problem). Thanks to my brother who works with metal, he found a circle from an old machine then made me a small circle.  He welded the three metal rods to hold the little circle inside the bigger one.  Then he added another old part to the bottom to the stand.  I am very thankful to him for helping me with this project. My husband also helped mixing cement for me and I am thankful there too.   I could not have done this project with such ease without them.  Those supports really helped make the project smoother.  Here were the steps:

  1. Get form and set it up in the spot you want. It will not be moveable after you add the rocks.
  2. Collect and wash the rocks you need
  3. Mix cement and put two layers of rocks then let that layer dry.
  4. Add a few more layers and let that dry.
  5. Repeat this process until the circle is full.
  6. Find a number to put in the circle.
  7. Scrub all the rocks in the from to remove extra cement on the rocks. Let dry.
  8. Make some more cement and fill in the back of the piece to make sure all the rocks are secure. I made it smooth-ish.
  9. Varnish the front of the sign.
  10. Add the number and secure it in.
  11. Celebrate! You are done.

Your own project does not have to be this complex.  You can simply plant some new flowers or paint the deck.  The concept it to personalize your space. 

Think about what you would like to do.  Can you enlist some help?  Do not be afraid to ask if you need help.  That is the hardest part for me.  But, don’t be like me, be brave and ask.

In the meantime, are you carving time for your artwork?  At this point, it is time for me to start talking about taking 15 min. a day.  Get up 15 minutes earlier or stay up 15 minutes later.  Plan what you will do before you get there.  You will be surprised how much can be done in 15 minutes.  Set the timer and go!

Doris’ website: www.dorischarest.ca

I have creativity courses and art courses online at: https://www.udemy.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 …

 

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

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.

Trying something new

I found this painting in my basement and decided to try something new in marketing with it.  I put it up for auction at : http://www.dailypaintworks.com/buy/auction/397108

This painting is called ‘Mother Hen’ and it is part of my old style.  This is one of my first oil paintings from my ‘Rural memories’ series.  Let me know if I have changed…..Yes..I have!!

I refuse to tell how many years ago this was…..

Mother hen

Welcome to my new website!

Doris Charest
Welcome to my new website.

I will be blogging about what it is like to be an artist.

Everyday life as an artist.  What is it like?   Well, I can assure you it is not boring.  There is always some new challenge on the horizon.  I will talk about  getting ready for shows, daily life, preparing courses and much more.  Keep in touch and you will find out ….