Getting your inspiration…
from all sorts of places. What get’s your creative juices flowing? Maybe some travel (staycation, backyard adventures), the sunrise or the sunset, artsy blogs (busymockingbird.com), images at Instagram, 140 character poetry on Twitter, Nova and science, art history, local speaking events…well the list just goes on and on to infinity and beyond. The only real ingredients are a cup of curiosity, a tablespoon of observation, a sprinkle of caring and a dash of inspiration stirred by your favorite art tools. Art comes out of your metaphorical bowl of goodness. Recently I watched Noah Bradley’s new Art Cast 3 at Youtube. It reinforces that inspiration is a main ingredient for success. Strive for balance. Right now I am exercising a bit of a self-inflicted art-biz sobatical. That means, at present, I am not actively pushing for art projects which I could if I chose to push myself. But, I choose to rest. Some much-needed rest. In three weeks I resume night classes and this current pattern is a bit of self-preservation and low-voltage-trickle-recharging. It’s necessary for success. My artistic discipline is still intact. I sketch in the morning and continue web-surfing with my favorite on-line references and networks, I do artsy stuff locally. Downtime, I love listening to Public Radio: This American Life, RadioLab, TedTalks, Terry Gross just to name a few. Also, the gentle and meaningful advice of West Coast Artists: Chris Oatley, and Noah Bradley. Both focus on artistic survival and nurturing others through their art-lesson-creative-incubators. Note to self: My NPR stations (WJCT/FL and KQED/CA).
Here’s my chance to share a flash-back moment, a re-cap of a personal -artistic-tipping-point. A few years ago I was listening to Radio Lab and their featurette “Dark side of the Moon.” Here’s how it influenced a story I wrote, “Only two things thrive in dark places, mushrooms and astronauts.” That little tidbit of philosophy helped me describe how our local art group, The Anonymous Society of Artists got started. Blast with me back to the past… to 2011 …with its waivering economy still wobbling post-economic-crisis.
“The Anonymous Society of Artists was born as a group during the economic crisis of 2011. It was the brainchild of me and another artist who felt the traditional methods of networking and marketing art were not providing a supportive environment for fledgling artists. We lived in a great town with a huge artist population and all of it seemed too competitive and selective. Some of us needed more choices and support.
Two things thrive in dark and isolated environments, mushrooms and astronauts. I was beginning to feel “in the dark” and pondering how to thrive that way (not like an astronaut) before I sparked off on the idea of our art group. I was financially broke and working in a transition job which didn’t pay enough to cover my mortgage. Two out of ten acquaintances were unemployed or underemployed.
My house was rented to a family of four…and their overactive dog. I was displaced and doubled up at a friend’s house. Every time I drove by my humble property I pondered one more potential repair from the wear and tear of four restless people living in my 1100 square feet, 100 year old Bungalow. I was emotionally parked in the shadow of a perpetual sense of impending doom.
If I could just breathe enough then I would get through this life transition with a firm grasp of some esoteric Tao principles. Or, I would lose it all. There were no imaginary rockets launching in my darkness or bright light bulbs until I started shooting for the moon with the idea of bringing artists together to support each other as a way to overcome singular financial obstacles and still create stuff.
Who did I know that had tech skills? Who had people skills? Who could tell stories? I could think of two people and that meant I needed a larger network. The idea was to create enough opportunities for such people to meet and greet each other that good things would happen. Artists might encourage each other and get unstuck from whatever was holding them back. Maybe it was a slightly Marxist approach for the collective and common good of talented yet unlucky, unpopular or undiscovered artists. But it could work.
One goes from cool, shadowy grey and opaque to rather bright and sunny with the idea of hope and resource. That is why we have a light bulb for our logo. I was poised to lose almost everything that defined me financially and I wanted to paint my way through it, get one thing in my life unstuck. I wanted my imagination to be with me. It’s where I find my sense of humor, crucial in the face of uncertainty and discourse.
Ideas are free- no charge. Getting involved had to be inexpensive (or free), have reasonable expectations for those who worked two jobs and offer genuine support to those who joined forces. I refused to give up the regular, low-radar, patterns of my social network and decided to develop this art group idea with another artist who had a similar fundamental vision and a firm grasp of the digital tech world which would reach the virtual masses.
We launched our ideas while sitting on the porch of our regular hang-out. If you shoot for the moon you might hit a star, or feel like an astronaut. Our art group’s name came from the historical spin of the Impressionism movement during the 1870s. (Seemed fitting for a town populated by artists and surrounded by history.) Most people think it’s because we want to be anonymous and that’s OK too. But, historically Anonymous just meant you had not been discovered by the mainstream. Your technique or style might be unconventional. In modern times it might mean you have bad luck or no luck at all. But none of that matters when you are surrounded by friends. We just started doing stuff we had only been thinking about.