04/24/09 LINK: "The Private Lives of Keeners"

Wow! Robert Genn replied! To little old me! In his newsletter, no less!

To back up a little so you know what's going on:

I'd been feeling more than a little frustrated and weary lately. Weather and Mother Nature had shut me off from the ceramics lab for weeks, with more weeks to go since Valley City's flood situation is still wreaking havoc. Hand building clay at home wasn't working out - and that was when the time that I've set aside FOR art was actually USED for arting! So often I end up doing store stuff or housework instead of getting my hands in clay.

So I wrote a letter to Robert Genn. I had signed up for his twice-weekly newsletter. I really like it, so hoped that he would be able to point me in the right direction. I received an email from a lady who read it (my address was postedat the bottom of the newsletter). Her advice was so on-target it almost trumped Genn's! I think she's psychic! lol.

Between the newsletter email, facebook, and his site The Painter's Keys, I was really touched by the number of people who empathize and care. They took time out of their own busy schedules to encourage me to find time in mine for art. I thank them and any of you who read this and also feel supported!

Anyway, here's what RG had to say:

"The private lives of keeners
April 24, 2009

Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Sara McManigle of Luverne, ND, asked: "How does an artist maintain the energy levels, motivation, and passion to realize her dreams? As hard as I try, I still get bogged down by others' condescension, the financial aspects, and time management. How do you keep the fire burning when you're so fizzled out?"

Thanks, Sara. Artists need to be self-sustaining, private, "follow-your-bliss" islands unto themselves. Self-directed and independent, they make their own fizz. But artists need to realize that there are more than a few ways to become enthusiastic and motivated. One size does not fit all. Not surprisingly, artists with obsessive-compulsive tendencies and an addiction to work appear to be the keeners.

One way to understand motivation is to look at the symbols represented by the things we do. A passion for kayaking, for example, might represent a desire for freedom or escape. That of dancing, for romance and love. Among other things, painting can represent a desire to re-order the universe or simply to fill the beauty gap. Nothing wrong with those. These passions, whether intrinsic or learned, are integral parts of our natures and need to be honoured. When we begin to understand our symbols, we can get on with the more mechanistic of the ploys--head down, focus, shutout or postponement of impedimenta, pump priming, multitasking and the wisdom of time-management.

Furthermore, amateurs have a wisdom that professionals know not of. One can learn from amateurs. Successful self-motivators at any level are able to regularly return to their beginner-minds and rekindle earlier enthusiasms. Never underestimate your inner kid.

Artists also need to be aware of their personal blockers--people, places and things--and be prepared to substitute positive over negative. Without trashing the wonderful mothers of our world, a frequently reported situation is the demanding, impossible-to-please mother who derails daughters and sons. Oh yeah, dads can do it to you too. Critical, failed, or bitter themselves, they are the kernel of a rolling, generational snowball that is difficult to stop. Stealthily and unwittingly a keen edge becomes dull and jaded. Artists so afflicted need to give thought to re-sharpening with alternate role models.

Best regards,


PS: "If you can give your child only one gift, let it be enthusiasm." (Bruce Barton)

Esoterica: From my perspective, every situation, every human being, is unique. While the loving input of true friends is certainly valuable, more than anything, each artist needs to work out private ploys that beat back the unique bugaboos. I appreciate this is not always easy, as circumstances can run powerful interference. But if I didn't know it can be done, is being done, and will be done, I wouldn't be tapping on this laptop. The word is "character." Character is built, not granted. "

I particularly like the quote by Bruce Barton! A couple friends and their 4-month-old have been staying with me until Valley City's flood situation stabilizes. The quote is something that made me stop to reflect, imagining the joy that their baby finds in the smallest things.

1 comment:

Carrie L Wendt said...

Hey Sara! Loved the video and the letter.. we all have the same question. Very inspiring, keep it up! I am trying to get back into the working groove myself. Hope you are having a great week.... are you by any chance going to the gala at the Plains Art Museum? I will be there.... did I already ask you this... I am so forgetful sometimes. Take Care! XOXO

Click "The Gallery" to view images of artwork on another page.

Right Now In The Ceramics Studio . . .