I think I can say that this has been the busiest last 6 weeks of my life. No exaggeration. There's this thing called the Holmes and Rahe stress scale and I've ticked off about 6 or so of their "most stressful life events" within this period of time.
And a few more are coming down the pike.
Within the last six weeks, we--
Had a baby.
Bought a house.
Got an offer on our current house.
They rescinded the offer on our house.
My father passed away.
I'm actually recovering from being super sick after the last several weeks. As Shay will point out, I have a pattern of running myself into the ground and then God will "enforce" a Sabbath time of rest :) And I'll get so sick that I have no choice but just to lay there. And I fight it. Hard. I'm not really good at being sick. I go back and forth between watching horrible kung-fu/explosion/ninja movies and fighting my desire to mow the lawn.
Now, there's so much good to so many of the above situations. Yes, even my dad. He was very ill and while we will miss him bunches, I'm really glad he's not suffering and frustrated anymore. And I can't imagine not having an Adessa to squirm around in her baby chair and dole out the rare, but promising to become more frequent, smiles.
And the house thing is HUGE. Shay and I have been married for almost five years (coming up in June!) and for almost all of those five years, we've essentially lived our daily lives in different towns. The first church I worked at was an hour away, and our current church is an hour and a half away. I have driven at least two hours (and now three) for every day that I've gone into work and back. That's two or three hours away from my kiddos and my wife, and I almost can't really grasp that that's actually about to stop.
We close on our house on Wednesday of next week, which will coincidentally be the first time Shay will see the house. She trusts me, what can I say? And she should...our new house is awesome.
But to get to the glory that will be living 15 minutes from my job. Being able to come home for lunch. And dinner! Not having to blow three hours in the car just to come in for a meeting on an off day. Being close to our community. Being close to the kids we take care of! Having people over for dinner! I'll have ten hours of my life back every week! My back won't hurt from being in the car for forever! I'll have a dishwasher!
What was I saying? Oh yeah, to get there, I have to move. Moving is exhausting.
Then we're going to try to sell our current place, or rent it out. (Know someone who wants a cute little house in Elgin? www.cute-elgin-house.com)
So life is officially bananas-crazy, and we need to make it through this next stretch AND...
everything will calm down (maybe?) Okay, probably not, but at least I'll be close to my little family.
But I'm dreaming of the day when I can do art again with some consistency. It's weird, I've toyed with the thought of pulling out of the Spire Challenge just because of the stress and busy and crazy, I feel like I haven't been doing a great job. I literally haven't been able to do art in weeks. It's this weird cycle of "should I be using this one tiny moment I have to relax to go slog out some art..." and I have to say that as of the last few weeks, the answer has been unequivocally "no."
It's easy to lose your perspective when several weeks are constructed of stress and you know that there will be more coming down the road. It's like when you go through a break up or something else awful, and the feeling is so pervasive that you can't ever imagine NOT feeling the way you do right then. It's like, right now, I feel stressed and feel like stress will be the overwhelming factor forever. But experience has told me that it will fade, and it will...probably around July. And then I would have been bummed to have no SpireSpire keeping me accountable to doing art and it would be easy to slip back into regular old life. So I have to agree to eek out what I can right now, and am going to apologize that I won't be overwhelming you with tons of art in the next few weeks and realize that Spire is a year-long thing for a reason...it can absorb weeks like this and you can still come out with your goal done in the end.
Well, I hate to post a basically empty post, but it was gonna happen sometime. Haven’t had any time to do art here in the last week, though I did get an awesome response from Amy and Jason about the “questionnaire” de art piece that I posted last week. I’m actually bummed that I haven’t had time to poke at it yet, and am hoping to snag an hour or so to start designing out some ideas tonight. Bite by bite is the way it’s going to go right now.
At the minute, art is taking a bit of a backseat as I’m finishing up the ministry year (we work on the same calendar as schools). It’s just busy! Summer has a more gentle rhythm to it (more fun events, less grinding my brain to a pulp to give two lessons a week) and will lend itself to doing a lot more art.
The other thing that’s been rattling around in my brain and taking up space and time is trying to move my family out towards my job/our church. We’re planning on buying a foreclosure out there, and there is so much that goes into that and so much to sift through that it burns up a lot of mental space too.
Either way, in about two weeks, my weekly rhythm goes from “SUNDAY’S COMING!” (prepare, prepare, prepare) and then “WEDNESDAY’S COMING!” (prepare, prepare, prepare) to throwing parties, concerts and fun nights, hanging with cool kids during the day, trying to get us moved, and playing with my wee daughters. Gotta love summer.
Well, life is still bonkers over here. Both Shay and I are only children, so the whole two kids thing has been a challenge. I know this is the highest period of need while Adessa is nursing so frequently, but holy crap, if one kid doesn't need something, the other does...if one kid is sleeping, the other isn't, and you start realizing that the ENTIRE day is gone and all you've done is juggle small-fries. And that's just when I'm HERE. I'm pretty sure Shay has a secret force of minions that she uses when I'm not here.
We love our kiddos, and God bless all of you that can do 3+, but I don't think my brain can take the stress of this first phase again. I swear the noises that this kid makes while she sleeps is going to give me a heart attack.
But in the middle of all the crazy, I have some exciting news! I have an OFFICIAL PROJECT to work on. One of my friends has been following my SpireSpire and has asked for an art piece for her family's wall! This is great!
So, now I get to walk through the process of narrowing down what they want for their house. It's kind of quirky because there's so many different options and while it's a thousand times more fun to create things for someone--there's a little part of me that wants to make sure they're going to love it, not quietly stash it in their garage when I leave and then never invite me over again. I think these things.
So here is the process, and a questionnaire for Amy and her fam. These questions help me frame out what a person is looking for and can maybe spark some ideas when they don't really know themselves (which happens a lot, actually!)
What is the approximate or exact size of the piece that you are looking for? Alternately, how big is the space where the piece will be displayed?
What material would you like the piece to be on? Plexiglass or wood?
Is there a shape that you want the piece to be other than a basic square or rectangle?
Do you want the piece to be split up over different pieces of plexi (or wood)? How many pieces/panels would you like?
Do you want this to be a piece to have a light element? (to be lit from behind)
Are there specific design details you want to include? Shapes? Images?
What colors/color schemes are you thinking for the piece? Bright colors? Muted? Cool or warm?
What do you want it to do in the space? Be a focal point, discussion piece, background piece, etc.?
What are some art pieces/visual design that you like or are drawn to?
What do you want this piece to say (about you, the group, the space or environment?) or is there a word you would like the piece to embody?
Now, a person doesn't have to answer every single question, but these give me some direction as to what a person is hoping for. Anyways, I'm super excited to start working on a new piece for Amy and her crew and it's nice to have some motivation past "gotta make some art before I post again" which is where it's kind of landing in the craziness of newbornlandia.
Today I wanted to do something a bit different. I wanted to share just a few of the artists and design blogs that inspire me. I feel in design and art that getting inspired and motivated by other art and artist is essential. I have tried to sit down before and come up with an "original" idea of thin air and ended up wanting to beat my head against the wall. That term, getting your creative juices flowing? I think its legit. You have to get your mind thinking along the lines of the "kind" of art you want to create. My work is definitely original for sure, there isn't anybody I've found that does exactly what I do, but many artist have inspired aspects of what I do :-)
One of the books that I really like is Jumpstart Your Brain by Doug Hall (I own two copies). He's a goofball and uses a lot of play and silliness in his desire to come up with new ideas, but one of the biggest points he makes through the book is that you need to have sparks to jumpstart your own creativity. Your brain actually tends to get less creative when it's only drawing on itself. So I've been trying to fuel up!
So here is just a slice of the art sites I dig. I would love to see some of the artists that inspire you too! I can always use more stuff to poke at for inspiration so please post in the comments section!
Originally, I thought this dude just killed a bunch of goldfish by dropping them in resin, BUT turns out he paints on layers of resin, building up 3D images of fish. Absolutely incredible. Click through to see his other work.
I love modern takes on older styles like portraits. This one's made entirely with screws! His whole series is incredible.
I went with a Steampunk picture for Rebecca (who should really check out their steampunk section!) but you can lose DAYS in this entire site and the art section alone is beautiful and widely varied.
This may look like a simple painting, but you HAVE to click into the video and watch this guy paint with his fingers. He's in the zone, and I have so much to learn.
Abstract paintings, on people!! So cool!
So feel free to shoot me stuff that inspires you!!
What is art for? Visual art is one of those mediums that's...weird. You get people that LOVE it and invest lots of meaning into it. People go to museums and galleries because they believe it has value. You get people that use it to build up a type of visual architecture to a room (they like it because it looks nice or right in the environment for whatever reason.) People use it to show off what they like or what kind of a person they are. It can make a home or business or doctor's waiting room feel a certain way. And half the time, it sits in the background quietly, and most people never even really notice it unless it's well-showcased.
Which makes it weird to make. You don't have a great target. I'm not trying to get a distinct "message" across in my art. I'm not making commentary on society. I love it when I get to make art for a certain person or place because I really like creating environment--either a mood (peaceful for an office, heated or frenetic for a night club) or capturing something that I know someone else will like. But because of this challenge, I don't really have any of that to work with at the minute. I have to create "homeless/ownerless" stuff at the minute.
This allows a gross side-effect to enter into the picture. Without a "target"-- it's really easy to start creating to impress a generic group of "others."
If I do art for "others", it's not genuine.
If I do art for "others", I start trying to impress people that may not exist, and probably don't care even if they do.
But if I do it for me and my inner emotional health then its ok. If I do it to bring joy or clarity to something, then its good.
Art is a battle. I want to do art to express something important, but "messages" are preachy. I want to do art to sort out the minefield of my mind and heart, which are often at war with each other. I want to make art that other people appreciate, but it can easily tip over into art that other people are impressed by, and then it loses its heart.
Sometimes, the more you clarify why you're doing something, what you're doing translates better. I guess another way to say that would be, if you understand what you're trying to get across, it comes across more clearly. Maybe that seems basic, but you'd be surprised at how often more than one thing/idea/theme tries to cram its way into whatever you're doing. I do a lot of public speaking, and it's really easy to try to say two things at once and muddle them both. We have a hard time being clear.
So I've been trying to clarify why I'm doing this to give myself a target. Here's what I came up with.
I love techno music.
Okay, stick with me. I'm going somewhere. (Some of you know that I also play the saxophone and that when I play, it's usually to house or techno music. You can hear it here
I love techo because it takes a certain chunk of groove or a cool riff and pulls it out of its normal context so that I or someone else can enjoy it more fully than if it were buried in the pile of a complex jazz.
Complex Awesome jazz is often something only a few can enjoy. (And there's a lot of Busy Crappy jazz just to confuse people even more.) It takes years of ear training to even know what Charlie Parker
or Thenolius Munk
is doing. I was a music theory major for awhile and can firmly attest that music is a rabbit hole that extends forever and can be as complicated as someone wants to make it.
Good electronica hits the pause button and lets you see an extended chunk of music pulled out of space and time. It gives you time to savor it.
That's what I want my art to do.
Color and shape in day to day life is mixed up in the jumble or cornucopia (always wanted to use that word) of life. It's everywhere. It's art in the doctor's office that you don't see and in the shape and color of my kiddo's bright red ball; you can't have your eyes open and not see shape and color.
I want to pull out shapes and colors in way that makes people's eyes rest on them long enough to appreciate the whole picture more, because if just for an instant, they saw a smaller piece more clearly.
So what's my art? The taste of the selction, what I choose to focus on and blow up or zoom in on. I might not be the most talented artist on the planet, but I know what I like. I want to take the selections of this world that first fascinate ME, and then create a moment of pause and show the world what I see just for a moment.
I want to share my joy. A quote from C.S. Lewis breaks it down really well.
"I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . ."
We're built to share our joy. If you're friends with me on facebook, you'll already know that I I share a lot of my joy through ridiculous pictures I find--
--but another thing I take a lot of joy in is shape, color, environment. So by doing art, I get to share the joy that I see in those things. I complete my joy by making art and then sharing it. And that's pretty cool.
Couple of new pieces that are going to get deconstructed and put back together. I'm like the new splicing. Shapes! Colors!
You may or may not know the guy on the right by sight...but it's pretty much guaranteed that some descendant of his original invention is hanging out in your house right now. Thomas Edison is one of my heroes. Not just because he invented the light bulb, although it did catch on pretty well...No, I like Edison because he was really really good at failing.
He had around 2000 failed inventions before the light bulb. I love that because it says more about Edison's character than anything. He didn't give up!
I feel like failing doesn’t get enough press. By the time a "famous" person comes screeching across your radar...they've already come into their period of success. The other weird thing is that even when we know that they had their "hundreds of rejections" or came from "the wrong side of the tracks"--we can never feel the deep, crappy, slog that is failing and failing hard. Failing numerous times. For whatever reason, our human spirit can't feel another person's failure, but it can imagine and put itself in the shoes of success.
How much time do we spend dreaming about success? Now try to daydream about failure. There's a mental block. It gets all hazy or even sounds good--like coming from the projects, or writing in a cafe because there's no heat in your house...it sounds like the start of a movie. It doesn't get down into our soul the way we can enter a dream of achieving what we want. Now, I'm not talking about the voices that say something isn't possible, or "YOU'RE GOING TO FAIL!" that keeps people from doing anything, but imagining the journey of doing something, failing, or it being really hard, and then getting back up to do it again.
That would be the story of the last two weeks for me.
I tried some different painting techniques that I haven’t tried before.
And they all flopped. Every single one.
An attempt at waves....meh.
An attempt at fire. Pretty colors...nothing stand out.
Remember the art piece I was working on before? The mosaic idea. Yeah.
Painting on plexiglass is weird. Some ideas work really well and others just ruin a $20 piece of material. It sucks. It's embarrassing, because you don't want to show anybody because there's this chance that someone will see the failure, and then decide your worth as an artist from that one thing. Worse is a streak of things that don't go right. Most of all, it's frustrating because you were dreaming of success...and then you wound up with a pixelated rainbow that someone sneezed on.
But last night as I was going to bed, inspiration struck. I have an idea to take the art pieces, cut them up and make them into something better.
Last week, when I should have been posting, I actually met up with a friend from church, Kevin, who is an engineer and fellow "trier of things" who has some experience with plexiglass. We experimented with different ways of cutting the plexi (without shattering it) and next he's going show me how to bend it with heat.
No journey is ever pure success. And no journey is ever pure failure. Even in the middle of a "failure streak"--I learned how to do some new stuff that might even help me salvage my failures and turn them into a success. There is always this opportunity to take something bad and make it into something good.
That’s why I love art, you can keep plugging until it becomes something.
Do you want to know one of my my biggest pet peeves? People who armchair coach. These are the people that cross their arms and shake their heads and say they would have done it a completely different way...without ever getting up and trying something of their own. They talk like they know--and often are the voices that discourage us--where the reality is, they have no idea because they've never succeeded OR failed. These are the people with brilliant ideas...that are so overly invested in the success of those ideas that they can't handle if they fail--and so they are paralyzed.
Sorry, does that sound cranky? My philosophy in life is that if I'm going to lead something--I'm going to be the first guy in the ditch, and I'm going to be guy with the most mud and sweat on me. It's hard for me to respect the dude that's standing above me out of the hole I'm digging, perfectly clean, telling me that maybe I should try digging here next time. Fellow artists, creators, workers, ministry peeps, we need to find people that are further into the muck than we are, and that's where we should turn for advice, encouragement and help.
These are the people who can tell us that the streaks of failure are okay. Normal. Useful.
It might not be what you set out to create, but if you keep poking at it it will form eventually into something good.
Frosted the rainbow and spliced it together with some circles. Spacey! I like it!
Waves and fire spliced together...went from boring to an interesting elemental piece. Gotta glue it together.
Took the sunrise from the rainbow piece and spliced it together with some circles that I cut with Kevin and another piece with the black and circles. I like the space theme that's emerging.
[Note from Shay: Colin includes pictures of his latest piece...you know, where he's talking about it...so to get the full effect and see them, head over to his stream!]
Hey all! Sorry this is later in the day that I intended. This was one of those weeks where it seems like everything conspires to make sure I didn’t get to do what I had set out to do. The whole family came down with the some form of the bubonic plague (I think I’m finally over it now!), a lady took down the powerline pole in front of our house leading to a completely lost night that was supposed to be for art (but wound up being me sending Shay and Ena to Shay’s parents so that our toddler would sleep somewhere with a nightlight and her white noise machine.) That…and you just have life in general.
Finally getting a chance to get back to it today. Here’s a snap of my work in progress. Maybe this will help make some sense of the descriptions of what I do. The whole thing was covered in strips of painter’s tape, and I cut out the sections that will be painted first—the first layer of paint will go down where it’s clear.
Earlier this week, I was listening to a speech by guy named Erwin McManus and was talking about finding your inner artisan. Here is the podcast link if you want to listen. It's got some serious awesomeness on it :-)http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/mosaic-audio-podcast/id74403741
It got me thinking.
I think that everyone has art in them, you just need to find it. Your art may look super different than my art. In fact your art may be in a completely different genre. Your art may be in cooking. You might be the kind of person that cooks and never needs a recipe. You just throw together ingredients at hand. It's instinctual, you just know what tastes good and the people that taste your food get to appreciate your art, mouthful by mouthful. For some of you, your art is in your job. Your creativity and excellence in working with people and passion for leadership inspire your team to work better. Your able to turn a job into something better and inspire the people around you by how you approach what you do. No matter what God made you to do, whether being a parent, interior designer, business man, whatever-- everyone has this inner artist in them waiting to be inspired, to create. To change the world around them into something better. But everyone has to do it in the way they were created.
Unfortunately, as we get older, it can sometimes get harder to find that artist. We have too much baggage maybe. Maybe somebody told us our personal art wasn’t worth pursuing. Or that we can’t do it. Or it's too big. Or too big of a risk. Won’t make money at it. Or we spend too much time trying to push ourselves into the mold of someone else’s art and miss our own niche all together.
I never thought I would get into art. I have never taken an art class in my life. I worked for 8 years as a program coordinator of an after-school center for at-risk teens. My job, in essence, was to out-recruit the gangs in the area and get those kids that were at-risk for gang recruitment off of the streets and into our program. We had a wide variety of programs that we did with the teens but I was really looking for a way for these kids to express the stuff that they were holding onto inside. We tried DJing, yoga, choir…but I really started doing art because I wanted THEM to do art. (Why is it easier to start something because you think it will help someone else?) I would start doing a project by myself, little by little playing with a design and students would begin to watch. My students would come up to me, see what I was creating and say " Show me how to do that!" I would sit down and show them how, and after a few tries, I had a room full of students drawing and painting and super proud of what they had accomplished.
The weird thing was…adults would also see what I was up to and as my designs got more and more complex the adults would say, "Man, I could never do that." I know in some respects it was a compliment, but it also showed how closed off the adults were to trying something new. The voices had already gotten to them.
I think that the reason so many of us "adults" feel so bland about life in general is we stopped looking for the artist within. We stopped wondering, imagining and creating and started settling for the day to day. Whether it was people, circumstances or failure that locked us up we need to break out of it and learn to try new things again. The only way to break free is to try.
So what inspires you? What do you look at and imagine yourself doing. How can you bring art in whatever arena of life you live in?
Here’s phase two of my current piece. You can see where the first layer of paint went down. Next I’m going to cut out squares and start working in a mosaic pattern. The lines will sharpen up as I peel off some of the tape that was painted. Just playing with the idea that maybe Heaven is just a mosaic of everyone doing the art that they were created to do.
Well Hi, everyone!
Welcome to my journey de art! When I say I do "art" a lot of folks assume I draw sunsets like the Joy of Painting guy--Bob Ross. And while I'm super jealous of his white man fro, I can't paint forest scenes with happy little trees to save my life. What I paint is abstract shapes and designs using acrylic paint on plexiglass. To make them really pop, I backlight them so they glow like stain glass. It's a little different from traditional painting. Normally, when you paint, you have to start with the background first and then build up layers of paint on top of that. So the last thing that you paint is what you see on top. I work in the opposite direction--the top layer has to go down first because I'm essentially painting on a the back side of a window. Then the background layers go down afterwards. At little mind-bending, but it's fun! I get great joy from creating contrasting shapes and colors.
But if I'm truly honest, I need to do art just to relax. I deal with stress and worry all the time. As a youth pastor, I deal with people bunches! Students, families, leadership teams, meetings, planning for what we're doing next...I love them and I'm good at it, but it runs my batteries down. I often look forward to just checking out with a good movie or TV. Just about anything with cheesy kung fu, or piles of explosions will do! But the reality is, when I'm done, the worries and stress are still there, lurking... I haven't worked anything out.
It's different when I do art. Instead of my focus being numbed, it's heightened and equally present, just focused on something else. It's like I'm giving my brain a rest by thinking about something else for a bit. I can actually recharge.
Its not that I just want to do art for stress either. I really do love CREATING. Because my art is an interplay with light, color, technique and style, I honestly am not sure what I'm going to get a lot of the time. Because I work in reverse, I can't actually tell what's going to come out until the final layer is down. I get excited to see that I accidentally might of made something awesome!
That being said, there is a lot of trial and error. There are lots of pieces that gets tossed in the trash. It's like when you get the brilliant idea as a kid to combine all the paint colors together...and you get mud. It takes a development in taste to figure out what works and what doesn't. That's what I feel like I've never given myself enough extended time to explore. What would happen if I truly played out the ideas in my head? I'm excited to find out!!!
[Colin includes lots of pictures of his work at the end of his blog--to get the full pictoral effect, head to Colin's stream.