Write what you know. This may seem like the most obvious advice in the word, but it’s not. While I’m sure many of us have a burning desire to write the next great novel of pure fictitious brilliance, there is something to be said for using the material your life has gracefully provided you. And it is immediate and at-hand. The only research required is within your own personal history and daily life.
Julia Cameron‘s suggestion of writing “morning pages,” from her book called the The Artist’s Way, is one great suggestion to mine the creative juices from our lives. In this free writing, free flow, pre-consciousness approach, we can find creative breakthrough by writing whatever comes to us. I suspect that this method frequently reveals gems from one’s own personal reality.
What if you rebut: “My life is so boring!”
I’d respond: “Is it? Is it really?”
My six-year-old daughter tells me when she is bored. Often times it is when she is not engaged by me or a teacher or a friend or her siblings; and also when she is too tired or grumpy to play by herself. When she says this, it always blows my mind. She has a pretty amazing life for a little girl – that’s what I feel from my perspective at least. I’ve stocked our home with countless garage sale books. She has neighborhood friends and they play (safely) in the street. We travel to visit our out of town family. When I look at all the places she has gone, the experiences our family has had together, the opportunities open to her, I think: “Wow, you’ve had a great life so far, my dear.” I hope most days she realizes this too.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
One of our mandates as writers is to translate our experiences into our fiction, non-fiction, poetry, young adult stories, mysteries, essays, short stories, and the list goes on. Whatever your mind can conceive of, right?
If you are a fiction writer that has never considered taking inspiration from your own life, I suggest you give it a try! Think about the people that cross your path every day; your coworkers, family and friends . Maybe some of them can become your most beloved characters – or villains. You have a collection of people around you. People you know extremely well – from their opinions to their facial expressions. Take inspiration from these folks and write that kind of detail and intimacy with humanity into your stories. The same goes for settings.
I’ve heard it said somewhere, something to the effect of: there is no true fiction. (If someone can point me to the actual quote, that would be much appreciated.) There is a grain of truth behind all stories. What better reason is there to write what we know!
Somehow, my life experiences always seep into my writing. Or perhaps I would better describe it by saying: my life provides the richness of inspiration for my writing. This is something I am extremely grateful for.
I am so inspired by the human experience that I have inevitably become an avid observer and recorder. For me, memoir and personal essays are an easy choice. However, it is nice every once and a while to break out and experiment with fiction. You could say my successful completions of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month; 50K in the month of November) and the 3 Day Novel Contest (September long weekend; 100+ pages) are just such a foray into crafting work outside my every-day life. I would also argue that I simply love a challenge.
Funny enough, I actually found it much easier to write fiction to the pace of the racing clock during these competitions than I did the one year I participated in NaNoWriMo with a memoir as my goal. I couldn’t unearth my personal stories that quickly. They require a slow-cook-approach I’ve discovered.
What I write about most often, for my profession and for pleasure, are family stories. Parenting. Motherhood. Being a working-mom. Being an artist-mom. Personal identity. These topics are close to my heart. They feel almost quintessential and spiritual to me. For now, I am telling these stories through creative non-fiction. Its a blurry category. Is it 100% truth? Well, no. Is it fiction? Nope, not really. At the same time, I feel like creative non-fiction is my perfect vehicle, for now, to write what I know.
What writing projects have captured your heart right now?
What are you working on?
How do you use your own life as inspiration for your work – no matter what genre you are writing in?
Please comment below. Let’s have a conversation : )
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Thank you for reading!
– Alexis Marie
Bridge Songs has always been an exciting event. I LOVE how it merges different creative mediums together. It has music. It has visual art. It has poetry.
Bridge Songs has run an entire decade! This year, Bridge Songs Ten, is the grand finale. What a ride!
Here is some info about this year’s exhibition and show:
June 18, 2016 – 7PM to 10PM
St.Faith’s Anglican, 11725-93 Street, Edmonton, AB
#15 advance tickets, $20 at the door
The Visual Artists
Lori Anne Youngman
Check out Bridge Songs Ten online by clicking here.
We all need to be aware of the scams going around that take advantage of hard-working, honest creative people. Working as a professional artist for the last fifteen years has taught me something:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I don’t mean to say this in a pessimistic way, but I do think it is prudent to be cautious when opportunity knocks on your door. Please read this article and share it with other creative entrepreneurs you know. It is important that we spread the word and protect ourselves and others. Our work, time, and talent are too valuable to be scammed.
TIPS TO AVOID SCAMS
TIP 1: Run opportunities through the below 4 criteria before signing on the dotted line
The legitimate opportunities that have come my way have been:
- Through hard work on my part
- By some initiative of my own making, either recently or traceable from a seed planted a while back
- Through someone I know or by a mutual connection (a friend of a friend or a coleague of a coleague, for example)
- Tried by someone I know and respect who vouches for it
I distinctly remember being contacted by Agora Gallery in New York who **found my work online and loved it.** I had never heard of them before, but was so excited that a New York gallery had contacted me. Unfortunately, when I asked some of my artist friends whether they had heard of the gallery, which they had, the reviews were not positive. I researched extensively online. There were may forum discussions about this and other vanity galleries. I gathered that Agora contacts A LOT of artists they find from combing the internet.
One red flag right off the bat: they charge artists $5,450 USD to show in their gallery!!
Artists: You should not have to pay a legitimate gallery to show your work.
As beautiful as the dream is to show my art in the Big Apple, I want to earn my way there, not pay for it. Plus, when you dish out the dough to get your work shown, those “in-the-know” in the art community will spot that immediately on your CV. Is it worth it? The decision is up to you.
TIP 2: Do Your Homework
If someone emails or phones you about a **big opportunity** that you **simply must participate in** – BEWARE.
I continuously receive emails telling me to buy a page in an art catalog or photography book that will be sent out to agents, galleries, reps, and so on. They go on and on about what an amazing opportunity it is. The fee for one of these is $500 for a page in a photo book, for example. They lay it all out: at $500 for a page, with the book sent to thousands of agents, your actual investment is $X per agent.
They are doing the hard sell. If you are desperate, maybe their offer sounds appealing. But again, I say BEWARE. Are these thousands of agents asking for this product? Likely not. Is there any way of knowing that these books actually get sent out and seen?
First check out the person and business these offers represent. Does this person knows someone you know? Or are you connected through a business network? Do they have a concrete location? Are you familiar with this company or the individual within the broader community you work in?
Search for reviews on the internet. Online reviews and forums can be a LIFESAVER.
TIP 3: Trust your gut
You may have been found (or targeted) because your online presence is doing its job. The scammer found you because you are promoting yourself as an artist or a writer or a sculptor. It’s great to be found, but there are far too many people/scams out there that try to take advantage of creative people.
I know that it may seem wonderful to be contacted. We all want to hear how great our work is, that we are wanted and valued. Hear it from me: YOUR WORK IS GREAT! YOU ARE VALUABLE! YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS MEANINGFUL! YOUR LIFE MATTERS! KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! (I mean it. I believe in creative people pursuing their passions. It is inspiring. And I know we all need to hear these encouraging words sometimes… okay, often. The best part? You don’t have to pay me to say this to you. Take the encouragement for free : )
With unsolicited **opportunities** flattery can be a cover for the scam. They will say:
- Your writing is so great, please write for our site? (For free of course)
- Your art is amazing, I’d like to buy, can I pay online? (They may pay with stolen funds, demand a refund, you may never see your work again, causing you all kinds of stress)
- Your drawings are so captivating, can we show them in our gallery? (For a huge sum of money)
If something doesn’t feel right, if your sixth sense is tingling, TRUST YOUR GUT! This is probably one of the best pieces of advice, not only for avoiding scams, but in every area of life.
TIP 4: Read carefully and with discernment
If you get an email about your work, look closely at the email address it is being sent from. Strange looking email addresses are a good clue that the sender may not be legit.
Here is an example of a suspicious email address (from the scam email below):
Also, if the email is vague and asks for prices and payment options – BEWARE.
Here is a screen shot of two scam emails I received this year. Two different senders. Basically the same wording – although not perfect grammar (another clue!). Here is exactly what to look out for:
At first, in January, I wondered if this was a real email inquiry. I even responded. I continued to get vague responses. It was fishy!!! I didn’t pursue the conversation. Then just today I received almost the exact same message. What perfect confirmation of the SCAM that it is. Watch out!
TIP 5: If the **big opportunity** asks for money, run the other direction
I am so frustrated with all the great/wonderful/fabulous opportunities that come my way – that of course cost an arm and a leg! It is incredibly disappointing that so many scams rip off creative people, many of whom are doing their absolute best to scrape a living from the pursuit of their dreams.
This seems obvious, but we all need a good reminder every now and then:
People should pay YOU for your work, not the other way around.
NOTE: There are many legitimate opportunities out there that do ask for an entry fee. Many competitions and group exhibitions are volunteer run and need the funds to put on the show or award a prize. Still, do your homework.
For example, I run InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award: www.InFocusPhoto.ca (which soon will be hosted on it’s own site, yay!) As a part of the submission process for InFocus, we charge an entry fee. I will be very transparent: my first year running InFocus we charged $10/entry of 3 images – and I still ended up paying about $600 out of my own pocket to host the exhibition, promote it, get wine for the opening reception, list the event in Exposure Photography Festival’s printed program, etc. The second year I charged a bit more ($25/3 images) and found some sponsorship and through this, broke pretty close to even.
I am using InFocus Photo as an example that modest amounts of money are reasonable – but still only when you know that the organizer or organization is reputable. Even a small amount of money is too much to lose on a scam.
TIP 6: Consider twice if they contact you
I am sure we all want to get to the place where opportunity knocks on our door, instead of us having to seek it out. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us, that is not the case.
Consider the above example of a big gallery contacting you. In all reality, legitimate galleries are probably far too swamped with submissions from artists to spend a huge amount of time searching out new talent. It probably does happen, but not that often.
When real opportunities do knock, as I hope they will for you, if you check them out by going through the above tips, you can feel more confident in their validity.
There are always exceptions to the above. There are many wonderful people in the world along with many great opportunities. Be discerning. Good luck on all your creative adventures!
Thank you so much for reading! If you know about any scams that the public should be aware of, please share them below in the comments.
Yesterday I visited the school where my husband is a vice principal. I wanted to see him, true, but the main reason I popped in was to hear Eva Olsson speak. She was visiting Edmonton to present to students in the Sturgeon School Division, traveling from her home city of Toronto, Canada.
Eva is a World War Two survivor and her stories were arresting. She used her experience with the “Nazi bullies” to implore the children in the audience to stop using the word hate and instead treat each other with compassion and respect.
She told the story of how her family was lined up with thousands of other Jews and separated. One group went to the gas chambers. The other group was put into work camps. Eva was just a teenager. Her mom was separated from her, sent to be murdered, and that was the last time they saw each other.
Eva’s father went to a work camp and died of starvation. The photo Eva showed was of a long line of bodies so thin that their stomachs caved in and the people were literally just skin and bone. It was like a collection of arching ribcages. The image made me shudder.
Eva and other girls her age were sent to another work camp. They slept outside on the grass – even when it was raining – and spent winter nights in a mud hole like pigs. They were all given wooden clogs, not in their size, and had no socks. Their feet were covered in blisters.
“May a new love for humanity be born out of the horrors we have known.” From the Scroll of Remembrance at Bergen-Belsen
Eva spoke of the power of hate to do such horrible things to other people. She also critiqued the bystanders of Europe who let this horrible tragedy of genocide take place. Her message was that bystanders – even those of today – that watch evil happen and do nothing are just as guilty.
I felt incredibly proud to hear such morality praised and advocated for – and also a little uncomfortable. Sometimes it feels our culture is very grey. We don’t want to upset others with our values so we water them down. Tolerance is at the forefront. Eva’s message actually felt wonderfully refreshing! There is right! There is wrong! We must be resolute in our convictions.
At one point she asked all the junior high kids: “Who does NOT like going to school?”
A large number of hands went up.
(Being a bookworm and an education-addict, I cringed when I saw the hands.)
What was Eva’s response?
“SHAME ON YOU!” she said sternly.
Eva did not go to school as a child or youth. She could not read or write. This embarrassed her greatly. She so badly wished to get an education! (She now holds a PhD so I believe her wish did come true.)
This is one of Eva’s messages that will linger on with me forever.
I don’t want my children to take their education for granted. It is a gift.
“I cannot live in the past, but I must life with it. Perhaps writing my story will weaken the hold the past has had on me.” – Dr. Eva Olsson LLD (Hon.), FRCPSC
When I was younger and in grade school, I was bullied relentlessly. It wounded my spirit deeply and I too would have put up my hand saying I would rather be anywhere else than in the classroom. At the time, I didn’t appreciate school. Who does as a youth in North America where we don’t have to fight for it?
I hope to cultivate a love of education in my kids. The ability to read and write opens many doors, cultivates the imagination, allows for understanding and compassion for others, and creates a means for self-expression.
As both an avid reader and an author, I cannot imagine my life without the gifts of education and literacy. These are things I fight for in my life – not in grand ways, but they are priorities that I protect none the less. It can be as simple as turning off the TV to read a book. Choosing to use proper English even when texting. Reading to my children before I tuck them into bed even when I myself am oh so very tired.
I celebrate the stories my daughter writes on every piece of paper in the house. Her spelling is a mystery most days, but she is learning. She is hungry for it. What a gift! What a precious ability that we have which I hope we never, ever lose sight of. What a blessing!
I am so very thankful that Eva Olsson reminded me of this lesson – of the critical importance of literacy.
Eva’s life is inspiring. To read more about her, please click here.
I’m proud to share my latest article for Edmonton Woman Magazine:
Alexis Marie Uncensored: Distracted Humans
In the article, I reflect on the distracted driving law in Edmonton. For me, writing this article was a great reminder to stay focused on the road – BUT there is also a more profound message to be gleaned. I don’t believe the law will make much of a difference, and here is why: We live in a distracted culture.
- People find it hard to focus.
- We multitask too frequently.
- Sleep is fractured.
- Technology allows us to stay connected 24/7.
- We can check our status updates and news feeds in just a few swipes and clicks.
How many times have you had someone you were speaking with check their phone at the same time? Or look like they are not really listening but already planning their response? These are some of my pet peeves.
We are distracted humans.
When I reflect on this situation, I love to find the good. What is the cure for distraction? Focus of course!
Personally, I have found mindfulness an important practice in the pursuit of focus. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that encourages one to be present, in the moment, experiencing what is happening.
Mindfulness helps me to be in touch with my body, sensing what I need. Mindfulness keeps me focused on what is important in my life.
Have you ever tried mindfulness meditation?
Here is my Edmonton Woman article called “Riding High.”
Kids are curious – although my five-year-old just told me that she knows more than me. Apparently she has the answer to everything. I laugh to myself. It has begun already! She seems so young to think she knows it all…
Do you still find yourself curious? Or do you know everything? That’s a rhetorical question!
Let’s see what Leo Burnett, the famous American advertising executive, has to say about curiosity. Next in our series – quote #2:
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
Curiosity is important, not just for artists, photographers, musicians, designers, writers, and the creative-lot alike; everyone can benefit from curiosity.
- Is a path to learning new things
- Keeps you growing as a person
- Develops meaningful interests
- Makes your artwork more intriguing
- Causes you to ask the right questions
- Helps you get to know people better
Over the summer I read a great (and curious!) novel by Jonathan Safran Foer called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The main character is a young boy named Oskar…
… I just realized: it’s fitting that I am reflecting on this book today, since it is September 11. This was not intentional, but my subconscious is tuned-in to the date I suppose. Who can even say September 11 without remembering where they were when it happened? Today, and every day, my heart goes out to all those affected by the events that took place back in 2001. Not long ago I visited the site of the Twin Towers and my heart broke – there were so many names lining the fountain memorials. Too many names…)
Back to the novel: the story is about Oskar’s search for a lock to match the key he found in his father’s belongings. Oskar’s father died in the 911 tragedy.
The author has done a remarkable job of writing from Oskar’s perspective. Oskar’s mind never stops and one idea leads to another. He is the embodiment of curiosity. He wonders about everything… sometimes it can be a little exhausting, but because of his curiosity, he is such an interesting character and comes up with truly novel ideas.
If you have time to read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I’d recommend it. On a side note, it was a very gentle take on the 911 tragedy. It made me reflect on the heartache from a child’s perspective.
Artists – creative people in general – are and should be curious. I believe it is curiosity that prompts art in the first place. Art is curious because:
- It asks us questions of ourselves, the one who made it
- It asks questions about the world
- It asks questions about culture, society, race, religion
Change comes because of questions and questions come because of curiosity.
Have you gotten bored? If so, it’s time to get inspired! Visit an art gallery or museum, read something new, travel to a foreign destination, meet new people, take a class. Curiosity is within your control.
What are you curious about?
How do you feed your curiosity?
Best wishes to you as you pursue your creative passions!
– Alexis Marie
There is not much in life where a person can succeed alone. Learning from others, being mentored and reading books are key activities for anyone wishing to strengthen their skills and creativity.
A Writer’s Reading List
What books are your favorites?
What literature has inspired you over the years?
What titles motivate you as a writer?
I have collected the beginnings of a reading list from what I personally have found helpful. It is made up of books I have read and ones I hope to dig into soon. A good number of the titles I discovered during my Masters of Fine Art in Creative Writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
Some of these books are helpful for the craft of writing. Others will inspire you creatively. A handful will motivate you to edit, while others are for the publication stage of a writer’s life.
Happy reading everyone!
Note: I have added a category to my blog called READING LIST. I will add to it over time. Please feel free to comment below with the names of books you have found helpful.
FICTION & NON-FICTION HANDBOOKS
The Craft of Writing
By William Sloane
Beyond the Writers’ Workshop
By Carol Bly
The Art of Time in Memoir
BY Sven Birkerts
Writing & Selling your Memoir
By Paula Balzer
Burning Down the House
By Charles Baxter
Art and Fear
By Orland & Bayles
By Madison Bell
By Walter Benjamin
By Painter & Bernays
Letters to a Fiction Writer
By Frederick Busch
By Janet Burroway
From Where You Dream
By Robert & Olen Butler
Six Memos for the Next Millenium
By Italo Calvino
By Julie Checkoway
Pen on Fire
By Barbara DeMarco-Barrett
By Denman & Shoupp
Aspects of the Novel
By E.M. Forester
The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
By John Gardner
By Stephen King
Writer’s Guide to Crafting Stories for Children
By Nancy Lamb
A Giacometti Portrait
By James Lord
Writing the Breakout Novel
By Donald Maas
The Lonely Voice
By Frank O’Connor
Reading Like a Writer
By Francine Prose
Writing in Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Picture Books
By Uri Schulevitz
By Stone & Nyren
If You Want to Write
By Brenda Ueland
Why I Write
By Eudora Welty
The King & The Corpse
By Heinrich Robert Zimmer
Backwards and Forwards
By David Ball
The Life of the Drama
By Eric Bentley
The Playwright as Thinker
By Eric Bentley
The Empty Space
By Peter Brook
The Power of Myth
By J. Campbell & B. Moyers
By Louis Catron
By Gerald Else
The Art of Fiction
By John Gardner
How to Write a Selling Screenplay
By Christopher Keane
Screenwriting from the Soul
By Richard Krevolin
Bird by Bird
By Anne Lamott
An Experiment in Criticism
By C.S. Lewis
Screenplay: Writing the Picture
By R. Russin & & Missouri Downs W
The Screenwriter’s Bible
By David Trottier
The Writer’s Journey
BY Christopher Vogler
Picture This: How Pictures Work
By Molly Bang
How to Write a Children’s Picture Book
Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write
By Elizabeth Lyon
Writing With Pictures: How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books
By Uri Shulevitz
FICTION & NON-FICTION ESSAYS
- Baxter, Burning Down the House
- Baxter, The Art of Subtext
- Baxter, Bringing the Devil to His Knees
- Berg, Stephen (ed.), In Praise of What Persists
- Birkerts, Sven, The Art of Time in Memoir
- Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the Next Millennium
- Gornick, Vivian, The Situation and the Story
- Gornick, Vivian, The End of the Novel of Love
- Hersey, (ed)., The Writer’s Craft
- Justice, Donald, “The Prose Sublime”: A Donald Justice Reader
- Kundera, Milan, The Art of the Novel
- O’Connor, Flannery, Mystery & Manners
- Plimpton, George, The Writer’s Chapbook
- Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer
- Rich, Adrienne, On Lies, Secrets and Silence
- Spitz, Ellen Handler, Inside Picture Books
- Welty, Eudora, One Writer’s Beginnings
- Welty, Eudora, The Eye of the Storm
- Cooper, Susan, Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children
- Harrison, Barbara & Maguire, Gregory, Origins of Story: On Writing for Children
- Marcus, Leonard, Ways of Telling: Conversations on the Art of the Picture Book
- Zinsser, William, Worlds of Childhood: The Art and Craft of Writing for Children.
- Zinsser, William , On Writing Well
The Practice of Poetry
By Behn & Twichell
Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms
By Dacey & Jauss & Strong
By Babette Deutsch
Poetic Meter and Poetic Form
By Paul Fussell
The Poet’s Companion
By Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio
The Discovery of Poetry
The Sound of Poetry
By Robert Pinsky
The Making of a Poem
By Mark Strand and Evan Boland (eds.)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics
- Bell, Old Snow Just Melting
- Birkerts, The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry
- Bryan and Olsen, Eds., Planet on the Table: Poets on the Reading Life
- Dobyns, Best Words, Best Order
- Eliot, The Sacred Wood
- Glück, Proofs and Theories
- Hass, Twentieth Century Pleasures
- Heaney, Finders Keepers
- Heaney, The Government of the Tongue
- Hoagland, Real Sofistication: Essays on Poetry and Craft
- Jarrell, Poetry and The Age
- Justice, Platonic Scripts
- Pinsky, Poetry and the World
- Plumly, Argument and Song
- Pound, The Literary Essays of Erza Pound
- Sontag and Graham, After Confession: Poetry as Autobiography
- Stevens, The Necessary Angel
- Vendler, Part of Nature, Part of Us
- Vendler, The Breaking of Style
- Vendler, The Music of What Happens
- Voigt, The Flexible Lyric
- Williamson, Introspection and Contemporary Poetry
Here are some links to other reading lists for writers:
I want to share with you my July/August column:
Alexis Marie Uncensored: Riding High
The article is about my summer training for the Grizzly Ultra Marathon. I sprained my ankle and worried I wouldn’t be able to race. Advised by my amazing physiotherapist, I took up cycling . What I discovered was a wonderful way to stay fit while also having fun.
The article shares one – slightly embarrassing – incident where I ventured out on a long bike ride to a dinner party and forgot a water bottle!
If you love a funny story, cycling – and wine – I bet you will enjoy this read.
Disclaimer: I do not advice performing any sport or physical activity while under the influence of alcohol – although a wine buzz is preferable to dying of dehydration… but I will leave that decision up to you.
Happy summer & happy reading!
– Alexis Marie Chute
A little bit about Edmonton Woman Magazine:
Edmonton Woman Magazine exists to redefine what it means to be an “exceptional” woman. We consider our publication to be more than just a women’s magazine; it is a source of inspiration, knowledge, and connectivity for the every day woman. Our goal is to share the stories of women in the capital region of Alberta who are changing their lives, families, communities, and cities by pushing the boundaries of what is ordinary. At Edmonton Woman Magazine, we believe that exceptional is far more than wearing the perfect shade of lipstick or sticking to the latest trending diet. To us, it isn’t a word reserved for Fortune 500 CEOs or Hollywood superstars. It is the title of every woman who contributes in her own way to making the world around her a better place. Whether it’s the craft connoisseur mom who keeps her kids engaged in fun, creative pastimes, or the small business owner who keeps customers coming back with smiling service – we believe her story is worth telling. Because as women, nothing motivates us more than the single thought: “If she can do it, maybe I can too!”.
(From EWM website)
If you want to read other Edmonton Woman Alexis Marie Chute column articles, click here.
For more pages by Alexis Marie, visit:
At the beginning of July, I shared “Inspiring Quotes for Artists” with helpful words by famous artists, writers and designers. For the next few months I will be writing a creative reflection based on each of the eleven quotes.
I hope you find the reflections helpful – and please comment below with your own ideas, inspirations and revelations from the quotes.
Today, we begin with quote #1:
“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced”
– Vincent Van Gogh
The hardest part of any endeavor is just getting started.
When I was facing artistic block (the visual artist’s version of writer’s block) when I was in art school, I received one of the best pieces of advice:
PAINT SOMETHING UGLY.
That was it. Paint an ugly painting!
Painting an ugly painting has many benefits:
- It gets you started
- It removes expectations that the artwork should be aesthetically pleasing
- It allows you to have fun
- It opens your mind to be free and wander as you create
- You can explore techniques outside your comfort zone
- And, it sets the bar so low so that when you do set out to make your next painting, you feel proud of the progress from that first messy experiment
It is easy to let self-doubt, insecurities, and fear get in the way of making the artwork you were born to create. An important part of the artist’s job is calming the inner-self, nurturing the creative spirit inside of you, and being uninhibited as you work.
What do you do to break free from artist’s block?
Have you ever tried making an ugly painting?
How do you nurture and protect your creative-self?
Best wishes to you as you make your art!
– Alexis Marie