Happy, Happy, Create!

Creativity is a multidimensional exercise. I’ve found that many authors have more than one creative outlet. Singing, drawing or painting, knitting, and the list can go on forever. I’m not saying that people who don’t write aren’t creative, because they are. Each of us have our own unique ability to shine. I played sports, but was never talented in that area. My brothers were. I always lived inside my own head. That gives a lot of time to develop vivid imaginations and other avenues to express ourselves when introversion makes it hard to voice our true selves to others. To the other extreme, I found being a class clown allowed me to talk without saying a whole lot about myself. Sneaky, but it helped get me through life.

With a birthday looming just around the corner, I’ve come to realize that the parts I locked away still work. No, not those parts, you narsty pervs. My hands have remembered how to paint. I am redefining my view of the world and giving others the chance to see it as I do. My writing has in no way taken a backseat to painting. I always used the excuse you can’t serve two masters as my excuse not to paint. Now, I see that just won’t hold water. Since the first of the year, I’ve begun five paintings. Completed two of those and hope to finish another soon. Writing? Well, I’m back to blogging. This being lucky number three with forty-nine more to go this year. I’ve completed 25K on Scrolls Book Three. More importantly, I’ve rediscovered the ability to be happy. That being the greatest accomplishment of 2016.

But how does happy figure into being creative? Simple. Please take a seat while I attempt to explain. Creativity is a slave to balance. An author or any other person who opens themselves to others through supplying art to the world must be in control of their world. Yes, we’re control freaks. The point is, we take the chaos of our imaginations and our lives and turn it into something palatable for people to accept. You have to be a control freak to be able to do that and in essence affect how people see themselves and their place in the scheme of things. Or, just a delusional megalomaniac. Probably both in my case. Thing is, to be creative, you have to be secure in your ability to see how you fit into the world. Happy is just the outward sign of that.

Sadly, being artistic often means your emotions are your epidermis. You love completely and totally. You grieve with every fiber of your being. You cry rivers for those you love. Your friends are your family and you would die for them. When they’re gone, you have empty spaces nothing or no one can fill. So happy is at times a hard thing to find.

When we do, we cling to it and strive to exploit every joyous moment of it. In the process we use it to open our hearts to what can be if we only believe in a dream strong enough that the dream just might become reality. That might sound crazy but remember that thanks to some amazing Science Fiction, we strive to go to outer space. We have mini computers called cell phones we use every day. Thank you Star Trek. Heck our entire present is built upon the imaginations of those who came before us.

I gladly pay homage to those whose imaginations became the movies, books, and art that kick started mine. Every word I put down on my screen and every piece of art I create is a dedication to the people I consider my inspirations. My fervent wish is that one day someone will say the same about me. Then, and only then, will I consider myself a success. Isn’t that all any of us can hope to attain?

Just to show that being creative can be fun, because I had a ball painting them. This blog will unveil my latest two creations. Ta Da! Enjoy!

Til next week. Happy Reading and be excellent to each other.

God created animals

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Serving Two Masters

Sometimes we think we know who we are, only to discover we’re not that person at all. What do I mean? Well, I’ve said this before but I began my dreams early. Only I never dreamed of becoming a writer. I honestly think I knew I wanted to be an artist before I could speak. For most of my life, I wanted to be an artist. My hand just naturally doodled. Ideas, pictures would pop into my head and the overwhelming urge to take my synaptic impulses and put them on paper or canvas defined the image of how I saw myself.

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I loved the process of taking an idea and gradually taking that mental mural and making it come to life. To bleed color into it. To make my reality everyone else’s reality through a visual medium. From an early age I had been drawn to comic books. I loved the mixture of story and pictures. I wanted nothing more than to be part of that world. So naturally, all I did for the longest time was draw comics. At first I loved crafting stories with the superheroes I had been reading. Over time, I started creating my own heroes, my own stories. It was all I could see myself doing.

 

As I reached High School, my world broadened. My art teacher introduced me to new concepts. I started growing up, not only as a person but as an artist. Sure, I still read comics and drew them, but I started exploring artists outside comic books. I’d always known who Michelangelo was and still mark him as one of my earliest influences. But, in the fever of self discovery, I found more artists to soak up. Warhol, Ruebens, among others. More than expanding my view of what I loved to do, I started exploring what I could do. I painted. I discovered inside myself a love of wildlife drawing. I did drawings of eagles, tigers, lions. I think I felt moved by the savage majesty of predators. They were so beautiful, yet that beauty masked something deadly and primal. Yeah, but I still drew comics.

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College introduced me to something I had gotten only an inkling of in High School. There were other people who thought like I did. My friends, because I can think of them no other way, and I exchanged ideas, techniques, and our own views on art and how to create it. I had literally found heaven on earth. I also found new masters to blow my mind. Goya to this day moves me in a way I only thought Michelangelo could. Michelangelo presented the ideal of what humanity could be. Goya presented humanity as it was, raw and flawed. The sight of both artists’ body of work never stops bringing tears to my eyes because they both represent the different ends of the promise of humanity.

 

Graduation brought a new reality crashing down on me. As much as I loved to create, being an artist does not pay back student loans. It barely gave job satisfaction some days. As the promise of my youth slowly faded behind me, I found myself drawing less and less. Disillusioned, I let painting became a non-thing I used to do. Finally, it was something I just didn’t do at all.

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So ended me knowing who I was.

 

Then, my wife pushed me to write. She had already been a writer and was published. So, I became a writer, and had a new concept of who I was. I wasn’t an artist. I was a writer. I told myself the old adage — you can’t serve two masters. Art? Writing? Well, I certainly didn’t have to drag out a bunch of crap to write, or put it back up. My wife liked that part the best. Yep, I’m a slob. So, art slowly faded and became something I did when pushed to do a commission, or I got bored and doodled to pass the time.

 

Last year, something unexpected happened. I got inspired. Not to write, but to really paint. At the time, I convinced myself it was just doodles with paint. Something bright and colorful for my coming grandson’s room. That was partly true, but that old obsessive disorder came crashing back. I had to get the image out of my head. So, I did. I couldn’t write, because all I wanted to do was paint. There was that old two masters thing again.

 

Finished with not one but two paintings for my little big man’s room, I eased back into writing, but the NEED to paint never left me. I knew if I kept ignoring it, the desire would burn me up inside.

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But, could I serve two masters? I had to find the balance of the two. I knew as much as I loved writing, I couldn’t live without painting and drawing. Doing without it for the last seven years had been like living with part of me dead inside. So for the last three weeks, I’ve sought to discover how to juggle the two. Crazy, but I think I did. Along with some of my older art work, here’s part of my discovering balance in my creative life. It’s just a work in progress so give me some time to get my groove back.

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So, now I’m a functioning split creative personality. The week belongs to writing. The weekend belongs solely to painting. I’m not saying I’m any good, but I’m getting there. The point this blog is trying to get me to make is this. Reality doesn’t define who you are. You don’t even define who you are. Nope, it’s so much more philosophical and downright weird. Hey, I am all about weird, so I’m rolling with it. Your dreams define who you are. When you stop dreaming, that’s when you become nothing more than a clog in the system.

 

That said, here’s my invitation to you. No, here is my challenge to you.

 

Dream and become something, anything! Most importantly, let that something be happy.

 

 

Serving Two Masters, or Two Muses Bullying Me All the Time

 

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Over the past weeks I’ve rediscovered an old passion. No not Oreos, I never lost that passion thank you very much. As I might have said before, I started life as an artist. When I began writing back in 2005, art slipped away from me. I did the occasional sketch or painting if someone pushed me into it — but steady artwork — just didn’t happen. I filed that under you can’t serve two masters. With a day job, writing and art just can’t happen. I am not the best when it comes to budgeting time if you really want the unvarnished truth.

 

When I write, I am totally under its sway. I write, or I do nothing. Mostly nothing – with giant rushes of writing over short periods. It’s how my muse works, so who am I to complain? But complain I do — frequently.

 

The same goes with painting. Call it OCD — my wife does — but I can’t stand an unfinished painting. It’s like looking at a puzzle with half of it still sitting in the box. It just frustrates me to no end.

 

Now, if I know I’m under a deadline would I even contemplate painting? Simple enough, when I found out I was going to be somebody’s grandpa, I wanted to give him something from the heart. After being in his room for the first time, I wanted him to see magic. Not to say my daughter hasn’t done a wonderful job of making his room homey. She has, but I wanted him to have something different. Which brings us back to magic. I wanted to give him the same sense of wonder I had as a kid, without the introverted paranoid delusions to go along with it of course. I wanted to give him something to say that anything is possible if you dream hard enough.

 

Growing up, I had that magic in my life. A fervent hope that the world could be different if only I thought it could be. I grew up believing in a planet where apes evolved and talked, a world where a man was worth six million dollars, superheroes all lived in New York and fought crime and well you know, Darth Vader existed and was the coolest man alive. I also believed in Greek Heroes, Sinbad and that if I wished hard enough I might become a musketeer. The point is, I want my grandson to experience that same sense of wonder.

 

So, I wrote a book. Hey, it’s what I do. At first I started doing sketches to go along with the book. Then it hit me. Why not just paint a couple of the things I saw so vividly in my head for his room? So I did. Or, I am doing. Like any true crazed mad scientist of the artist sort, I threw myself into painting. I’d wake up at 4am so I could squeeze in a couple hours before work. I even painted on my lunch break and after work. All I could see was that half finished puzzle mocking me from the entertainment center. Within a week, I was finished with painting one. Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t seriously painted in ten years.

 

Best of all it captured the dreams in my head. One of my earliest memories was of flying. Or, imagining I could fly. Arms spread wide, and flapping. A cape made out of an old towel draped around my neck. The rush of air smacking me in the face as I struggled to propel myself into the clouds. None of that actually happened, but I always thought maybe next time. Those are the dreams of youth. The dreams of the improbable that sing to us in our childhood. They’re also the dreams that make young boys and girls into writers someday.

 

Only thing is, they also put a crimp in actually writing, because my brain had rewritten itself to be a painter. Yep, you guessed it – my authorly muse decided to go on vacation because she had a fill-in occupying my time. Muses get huffy that way.

 

But, after returning to my first love, I find it hard to lose her again. I had forgotten how much I loved creating worlds of magic in pictures instead of words. So, I am resolved to find a balance between words and images. I still have a second painting to finish for my grandson’s room, and other paintings rolling around in my head. Will I get to them? I hope so. I enjoy returning to the dreams of my youth. I’d like to be a painter again.

 

Whether I’m good at it is another thing, but that really doesn’t matter, as long as I’m good enough for me. As with my writing, if I can walk away from it and say that I did my best and be satisfied that I have, I am content. Not content enough to not strive to be better, though.

 

Art, be it painting or writing, is all about expressing something about yourself. If my words paint a picture in a readers’ mind they can’t shake, I’ve succeeded. Same goes with my painting, if someone looks at a painting and just can’t forget it, I’ve more than succeeded. I’ve made a lasting impression. Now, that I realize I can do that with the two halves of my brain, I can say I feel complete in a way I haven’t in years.

 

That in no way admits to me being sane. With all the voices in my head, I can safely say that will never happen, but where’s the fun in being sane. Crazy is more than a state of mind, it’s the world I call home.

 

And, I invite you to step into that world on occasion. Just don’t plan to stay too long. I don’t have enough room for lingering house guests. My Smurf house is a one bedroom.

 

On that, I wish you an overactive imagination and the drive to make your dreams come true.

 

Jmo.