Fair: Random Words Inspired by Art

Nothing about him was fair, though he was lovely to look at, and that was the cruelty of his form. His stature, his eyes, his lips, his thighs, all of it cried foul because his perfection was purely masculine, undeniably man, but still rivaled the glory of woman.

He was lovely, and he knew it. He walked with his head tilted just enough so that his eyes looked down upon all from the slope of his nose. The gesture was unnecessary because he stood nearly a full head and shoulders over all.

His way was like that of a peacock, full of pride and glory, yet captivating. His skin was like flawless ebony that glowed from the rays of the sun. He was like the perfect night, challenging the majesty of the day and he was certainly winning.

THE BEGINNING…

I have no image to share with you all besides the one that I have painted with words. This composition of words came from my meditation upon art, searching for my muse for the next step in my creative journey.

As I searched through images created by artists that inspire me, the mingling of different genres and styles created this man in my head. I don’t know where his story will lead but I am grateful and delighted to see how one form of creative expression has given life to another. 

Visual art has born that of written art.

If you are curious as to my creative journey, I tell you that this is a part of my Creative Faith in Action, prompted by my Free Creative Course; Sow the Seeds & Seize the Dream.

Thank you for reading, and do please share your thoughts and comments below!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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The Beauty of Blinders: Taking Sight of Your Own Creativity #CreativeEncouragement #Creativity #Individuality

BLINDERS:

  1. something that obscures vision: something that prevents clear vision or understanding
  2. eye covers for horse: a pair of flaps attached to a horse’s bridle, one beside each eye, to keep the horse looking straight ahead.Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

In terms of art and creativity, the first definition of the word for Blinders is very negative. Art, after all, is about giving vision and making the obscure more understandable.

But as an artist and as creative people, there are times where Blinders are a necessary tool that we should employ within our journeys.

Real art is not about competition it is about the newness of authenticity. Authentic creativity speaks not only for the artist, but to the artist as well as the audience, and comes from a place within.

Blinders that cover our eyes from distractions, things that keep us from our vision, and looking ahead, staying on the path, are very beautiful and worthwhile.

When you start creating, developing your motion, the thing that you do not want to do is to think, “How can I be different from the person next to me?” When you start your creative process with that mindset being your base or foundation, (and many of us have) you keep yourself from tapping into your true creativity.

What you are essentially doing is looking ‘outwardly’ at what the person next to you is doing, and you are taking what they have created, and have made that your foundation or base. You are putting icing on an already iced cake.

Your individuality begins from within it doesn’t take root from without…”

Digression. Spring-boarding off of the work of others, using their vision as a tool or muse, is one thing. It’s a means of learning. This is not what I am talking about here. I am talking about creative competition and anxiety which is the knife that cuts the throat of many of fantastically creative people.

People who run their creative race with the eyes on the competition never reach their fullest potential. They begin the race with a goal in mind and never reach the finish line because their eyes stayed on the ‘horse’ in the other lane. Ultimately, they ended up crashing and burning, trying to be like the one next to them but never becoming the best expression of themselves.

Real art is not about competition it is about the newness of authenticity. Authentic creativity speaks not only for the artist, but to the artist as well as the audience, and comes from a place within.

When you look ‘inwardly,’ which is a revelation (even if someone else’s work has led you to do so) and you get a new creative revelation that is authentic that speaks from the core of who you are, then at that point you can really  begin to glean from the creative wisdom of others.

From there you can take aspects and concepts of what others have created and from there say, “How can I use this expression and make it my own?” while still holding on to your own individuality.

You create your own lane and forge a new path of inspiration.

Your individuality begins from within, it doesn’t take root from without…if that makes sense. It requires taking an introspective glance into the dark places deep within ourselves and learning our own true voice and song.

Many do not dare dive that deep for fear of what they will find.

We as creatives shouldn’t look around and think “How can I be different?” Instead ask yourself “How can I continue to be me, learn who I am as an artist,  and continue to climb each rung of this ladder of creative enlightenment. How can I rise higher by getting a hand up by other artists and creatives by gleaning the wisdom that they have already produced?”

I hope my words were understood and have given a bit of encouragement to help you soar even higher.

Thanks for reading! And keep it Creative!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

3 Ways to Make Creative Time in a Busy Day: The Almighty Quarter #MotivationMonday

Quarters are AMAZING! You can do so many activities with quarters. You can do laundry, you can play a game at an arcade with enough quarters. You can purchase a cheap, hot cup of liquid motivation on your way to work with quarters.

Once upon a time, you could make a phone call in a phone booth with a quarter. Packs of chewing gum used to be a quarter!

I mean I could go on and on about how great quarters are!

May favorite quarters, however, are those within a day, made up of minutes and seconds. In a single day, you have 24 hours, 48 half hours and 96 QUARTERS! 96! Now, you are probably thinking, “What is the big deal?”

Time does not play fair. It plays mind tricks. More often than not, it will rob you, trick you and leave you frustrated…if you let it.

Here it is, as creative beings, who have full-time commitments away from our crafts finding the time to cultivate our craft seems like an impossible feat. It never fails that the excuse of “I don’t have enough time.” is used.

I am guilty of that.

Time is a formidable foe indeed. Time does not play fair. It plays mind tricks. More often than not, it will rob you, trick you and leave you frustrated…if you let it.

Here are a few ways to make time for your craft during a busy work week when it seems that extra time is simply and understandably out of reach:

1. Don’t allow time to oppress you: If you, like me, have ever bought into the lie that you don’t have enough time to write, to draw, to compose, to do whatever it is that you feel a creative hunger for just remember you have 96 quarters at your disposal.

Yes, some of them are already accounted for, but when you consider taking 4 of those 96 quarters a day and dedicating them to your craft, you would be amazed at what you can achieve.

Even if you can only spare two or even one at the most, still your creative muscles will be strengthened.

You know what it is like to be hangry. The same rules apply when we are starved of creative release.

2. Use breaks between committed tasks as creative intermissions: A great way to be fresh during the work day as you go from task to task (besides taking a nap which is also a good thing) is to do some mental cleansing.

Doodling or jotting down ideas in a journal or sketchbook for a few minutes can help defrag your thoughts and get you ready for the next phase of your day.

Think of it as palate cleansing between courses.

3. Break your quarters into dimes or even nickels: Maybe you are really pressed for time, but if you allow yourself five or ten minutes to do a quick sketch or jot down your idea, you will be branding the overall concept to your memory in a way that it will be easier to revisit later.

Five minutes here, ten minutes there and the synopsis for a short story or full-length novel, or the preliminary sketch for your next drawing or painting is done.

You may be thinking that a quarter just isn’t enough, but something is always better than nothing.

Consider how a kid under the age of ten goes bananas for a dollar. College students living off of Roman Noodles feel like they’ve hit the jackpot if they find a single quarter laying around. We need to have the same attitude as they do.

Take the quarters you have, count them up, and dedicate a few of them to your craft. Even if it is just one quarter, set it aside to do what your soul is pushing you to do, and don’t spend that quarter on anything else. You will be amazed and enriched by the beauty you can achieve.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*This is a revision of an article written January 12, 2014

Coffee With Character…Or Tea. How to Get to Know Your Fictional Characters: A Creative Writing Exercise #WritingTip #Writing #CreativeWriting

Writing is such a cathartic expression. Be it used to create poetry, something literary, or a piece that is completely outlandish and full of adventure, writing is indeed a breath of fresh air.

As writers, even in the face of an activity so purifying we often times find ourselves locked in a position where our creative muscles have not been trained to go, or rather have no idea how to get where we are trying to go.  This frustration is no different than Yoga.

Original art by Candice Coates
Original art by Candice Coates

Sure, you have got “Downward facing dog” in the bag, but dare your muscles to attempt “Crane pose.” or “Forearm-standing Scorpion,” and you may find yourself stuck in between the attempt and nowhere near where you had hoped to be.

And it all looked to so easy in the beginning.

Original Art by Candice Coates
Original Art by Candice Coates

This writing exercise is all about getting ‘there,’ helping you stretch past the stiffness of your imaginative muscles, especially when it comes to the characters who are the life blood of the writing you may be working on.

In order to get ‘there’ you need to know the folks you are traveling with, right?

Here are some steps to do that.

EXERCISE:

1.Write down the names of the main characters in your book (and even some important supporting characters). Write them on a piece of paper or even on your computer (your choice) in column style.

These are the names of the folks you are inviting over for an intimate meal or even just a good cup of coffee, one character at a time or if you are feeling adventures, invite them all!

2. Consider the likes and dislikes of each Character: what each character likes to eat. What they don’t like. Who prefers olive oil over butter, how do they take their coffee?

3. Write it all down.

4. Now think about how the conversation would go with them.

5. Jot these things down in each column.  Do they tell jokes? Do they like the shakshuka you prepared? Do they even know what shakshuka is?

Bonus: Have fun with it. Treat the characters as you would any guest you were entertaining.

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

The reward of this exercise is to get to know your characters more intimately. The answers that you find out about these individuals are not necessarily tid-bits you would add to beef up your plot, but they are the gems that really get you in the head and heart of the people who are acting out the story. It makes the flow so much more authentic.

It makes the flow so much more authentic. By knowing these little intimate details you will know what things they will and will not tolerate while you work and weave your plot around them.

This information will stretch you from “Downward facing dog” into “Crane pose” without locking your muscles.

Happy Writing!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

P.S if you don’t know what shakshuka is, follow this LINK! Happy writing and happy eating!

*This exercise was original created August 28, 2014, and has been revised.

5 Ways to Maintain Creative Joy: Wisdom for Creatives #Creative #Writing #Art

 

Being a creative person is a gift, one that is inherent to us all. Whether you are a writer or an artist, an educator or a parent imagining a new way to get your kids to eat their broccoli, you are operating in your creative nature.

For those us who want to take our creative passion to the next level and turn our hobbies into lucrative business ventures, we run the risk of facing burn out.

This burnout isn’t just from creating nonstop on something awesome. This burnout comes from being unprepared for the reality in the shift that we are making.

When our passion becomes a businesses there is another level of accountability that we have to step into, a level that is not as ‘fun’ as creating itself but just as necessary if we are to be successful.

With that in mind, I want to encourage you on ways to keep the glow of joy in your creating even as you stretch beyond your comfort zone and begin to make your passion available to your audience.

5 Ways to Enjoy Creating

  1. Make a plan: Realize that having an idea is just the beginning. You have to take the necessary steps that will take your plan and make it a reality and this requires time, dedication, and hard work. As Thomas Edison put it, “There is no substitute for hard work.” But the fruits are certainly worth the labor.
  2. Take your plan and break it up into daily, weekly, or monthly achievable goals: How do you eat an elephant? Whether with a knife and fork or simply your bare hands, it’s going to take one bite at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, folks, and neither will your next novel or great sculpture reach completion the very day you begin. Take things a step at a time. The Book of Genesis outlines how the world was created, one day at a time, one plan at a time, and with the completion of each day, God said IT IS GOOD!
  3. Don’t overdo it: Aim for a number of tasks you can do daily and have maybe one or two smaller tasks you can do in addition should you accomplish your big three in a shorter time, but no more. Time with family and friends is just as important and actually more so than work.
  4. Set work boundaries: Give yourself a dedicated time limit to work and then honor those boundaries. Boundaries create discipline. When discipline is developed our productivity is more effective. We can focus more on quality than quantity which saves us time in the end. Boundaries also create balance and enable us to enjoy our work and appreciate the freedom in our lives. I heard Pastor Ron Carpenter say, “The difference between a swamp and a river is boundaries. “ Because a river has boundaries it has a greater sense of order and bears fruit, whereas a swamp…well it’s a swamp. Both have water and trees but which do you most prefer to visit?
  5. Celebrate each victory: Even if you don’t reach your daily or weekly goal in totality, give thanks for what you were able to accomplish and give yourself a reward for a job well done. Whether it is in a specialty cup of tea or coffee, or just fifteen extra minutes of leisure time, be sure to celebrate. Celebration makes the worth just as worthwhile as the goal itself. Life is not just about the destination but each mile that makes up the journey. Again, if the God of Creation can see His daily tasks as good on the way to the greater destination, so can and so should we!
  6. BONUS: Remember that your value is not rooted in the work you do, that you are not measured by your victories and failures. Rather remember that because you have value you are able to do the work you do and do it well even through the ebbs and flows of victories and the unavoidable fails.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

What Did You Say?: 4 Steps to Building Up Your Craft with Words

We’ve all done it, said ugly things about our art, found the faults in our craft so much so that we alone have brought ourselves down into the very depths of discouragement’s dumps. (Take a look at Artful Aggression for more on that.)

It’s an easy thing to do, really, to see what is wrong with what we’ve created. And let’s face it, nothing is ever really perfect not even your final draft. But even with that being the case there has to be something worth praising in the work that you have accomplished in its pre-polished form.

So as an exercise, I am challenging you to create a list to combat all the negatives that you’ve said about your work in the past while giving you some keys to keep you positive in your creative future.

STEP ONE:

  • Identify your familiar negatives, the ones you say the most about your work.

STEP TWO:

  • For each familiar negative, create a positive response.

Here, I’ll share my own top 3 negatives and do some positive combating as an example catching myself within a downward spiral of creative discouragement is what prompted this posting in the first place.

Negative #1: My stories are far too long.

Positive #1: Length in most cases is relative and the fact I can muster so many words is a strength for storytelling.

Negative #2: My words are weak, the flow of them is stagnant.

Positive #2: What I have is a very good start. Now that I see where I can improve I can take what is weak and carry it to the next level. I have something good to build from.

Negative #3: Nobody cares about this story. Critics are going to tear this apart.

Positive # 3: Every story has its audience and those for which this story is written will love it and share it with others. Even if only one person finds joy having read your my they were worth writing for.

STEP 3:

  • Combine your positives into one encouraging statement.

Here is what all three positives read like together:

Length in most cases is relative and the fact I can muster so many words is a strength for storytelling. What I have is a very good start. Now that I see where I can improve I can take what is weak and carry it to the next level. I have something good to build from. Every story has its audience and those for which this story is written will love it and share it with others. Even if only one person finds joy having read my work they were worth writing for.

Doesn’t that just put an encouraging smile on your face? It does mine and hey it even makes me want to get back to work on my stories.

STEP 4: Now you give it a shot!

  1. Write down your top self-discouraging statements about your craft (3 to 5 is good.)
  2. For each negative immediately write a positive.
  3. Create a statement of heroic encouragement by combining all of your Positives.
  4. Print it out and post it in your creative space to look at each time you are feeling discouraged.
  5. BONUS: Remember that you are always growing and always learning and there is never any negative to combat that!

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Artful Aggression: How We Abuse Our Creative Work & Why We Shouldn’t

 

art-aggressionHave you ever watched a movie, sat in horror or just sheer irritation as you witness one character (generally a parent or a lover) verbally abuse their child or partner? And as you are watching you begin to judge that character thinking, “Gosh, they are wrong. I would  never talk to my child like that.”

The scene ends, the couple or family members come to some peaceful ground, and then the movie ends.

We cruelly victimize our art. Art’s greatest victimizer is often the one who created it.

The movie ends but the hypocrisy continues.

In the Book of Matthew 7:5, Yeshua Jesus says “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

You are probably wondering, what in the world does a scene from a movie and teaching from Jesus have to do with art. They have everything to do with art, even if indirectly.

taken from www.fails.net
taken from http://www.fails.net

We as artist and writers  have a tendency to look at our creations the same way the harsh parent or the cruel lover in the movie look at their child and partner.

We, like these characters, look at our creations (children born from us, lovers grown through intimacy and time) with unreasonable scrutiny, judging it with irrational standards.

One minute we are in love with what we have done, staring at it with admiration. The next we are setting it ablaze or trying to hide it from world’s view because of some “issue” that we have convinced ourselves is there.

We cruelly victimize our art. Art’s greatest victimizer is often the one who created it.

The fact of the matter is, this criticism of our creations is spelled out in the verse in the Gospel of Matthew. We subconsciously or consciously, have an issue with our self and the displeasure with ‘self’ becomes an attack upon our creative works. We don’t deal with our planks so we burn up the splinters in our work.

…if we can’t celebrate our growth, then what is the point of growing at all?

Now, I know Yeshua wasn’t necessarily talking about how we treat our works of art when He said this, but the truth of the matter is, we cannot truly be kind to others if we are not kind to ourselves. We cannot love others if we cannot love ourselves, and this is the same for our art.

I had to call myself out on this recently awhile ago when I nearly destroyed all the work I had put into my novel, Ascension Graveyard. I even wrote a POST about it. (I was seeing problems that were not there.)

Let us, as artists, writers, parents, and lovers, come to a place of self-love and appreciation. Let us realize we are good enough even if we still have room to grow, and thus our creations are good enough even though they have room to grow.

Art and expression are about the journey. It is about telling the story in truth and authenticity from where we currently are. This should never be victimized, but always celebrated. After all, if we can’t celebrate our growth, then what is the point of growing at all?

Writer's Table

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

*This was originally posted on November 4th, 2014.

*Above image taken from Pexels.com: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-wearing-blue-dress-shirt-while-painting-89860/

 

Writing like Chopsticks: 3 Tidbits to Help Improve Your Creative Flow

*Note: This post is an updated version from one I created in 2014. Nevertheless, eat up!…I mean, who doesn’t like leftovers?

Writer's TableIt amazes me how something as simple as Chopsticks can actually hold very profound power. After all, basic chopsticks are fashioned from two pieces of wood.

They are nothing more than sticks, but to use them, to be able to feed yourself with them takes practice and elegant form.

When thinking further about the analogy I made between Chopsticks and Time management, I realized the same holds true with creativity as a whole. To that end, I am to give you 3 tidbits to help you along your creative path.

Your art is a living, organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.”~ Crystal Robinson Clark

Years ago, I was having a conversation with my eldest sister, Crystal, about my art not doing what I wanted it to do and certainly not doing it within the window of time that I had set for it.

Crystal’s response was that “Your art is a living organic thing. Allow it to grow in its own way.” Referencing chopsticks made me think of this . Ruminating on the connection gave birth to the image below. (It’s more a diagram really)

Vector Drawing by Candice Coates

A few years ago, while having lunch with some of my friends who are Korean, I learned that a person who holds the smallest amount of their chopsticks happens to be very proficient. In other words, the person who takes up the LEAST of controlled space, actually has the MOST power and control.

An employer who is able to have friendly relationships with his/her employees but still receives the utmost respect and honor from them is a person who takes up the Least but has the Most.

This comes from confidence. You can hold the reins with a lighter hand when you are confident in your position.

When it comes to time management, writing, creating visual art, I, like many others, have strained to make things happen in the exact way that I envisioned because of some type or form of fear. I was working out of a place of low creative confidence.

I shook those shackles off of my writing years ago and I am so glad that I did. My fiction has grown much stronger because of it. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be in the midst of typing and your main character suddenly makes a shocking decision that makes you gasp because you didn’t even see it coming.

I remember the first time this happened and me, shaking my head saying “Octavia! Why did you do that?! You are so stupid!” This is true organic creativity in action or writing with chopsticks.

I always have a “recipe” for my plot lines but I do not marry myself to them…I hold my writing chopsticks covering as little space as possible, leaving the rest to organic growth.

Some might be thinking, “Well, Candice, what do you do with ideas that pop in your head about a particular storyline you are working on?” Simple, I write those ideas down and keep them in a separate file.

Chopsticks_(PSF)I very rarely trash an idea altogether. Even if in the present moment it doesn’t seem to have a place, that doesn’t mean it won’t have a place in the future.

I like to think of these files as my “literary spice cabinet.” (I’ve mentioned this several times before.) When I come to a place in my manuscript that needs a little something special, I open up my file and I find the right plot twist, add it to my story and see if it works. I am guiding my creativity this way, not controlling it.

The same holds true for visual arts. I was taught in undergrad over a decade ago, that ratio of time for drawing is 30 to 70. I am to spend 30% of my time looking at my canvas or paper and 70% of the time looking at the form that I am capturing. This way I “draw what I see and not what I think I see.”

This is only relevant if you are creating from life, the 30 to 70, but it speaks again to being confident in your skill. Control says look at your paper more than the object you are recreating, while organic process says just flow.

In closing I want to encourage with the 3 tidbits I had woven in this posting:

1. Be free with your process: Remember what Crystal said, art is organic, so let your art grow in its own way…even if you have to trim the hedges later.

2. Hold your reins with an easy but steady hand:  Only cover or control what is absolutely necessary to guide your art but allow it to become what it is meant to be.

Art is after all a lot like children. Children raised with overbearing, overprotective, controlling hands, never really grow up to become confident, able adults. Their potential gets stifled. They are birds with fragile wings or trees that never reach the sun.

Which leads us to our last tidbit…

3. Be confident in your ability: You’ve been given a gift so use it. Raise your creativity/child with confidence!

Children guided with a hand of confident authority typically end up being well-rounded adults, given just the right balance of boundary and freedom to become what they were meant to be.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

“She” Oil Painting: A Study in Fingerpainting

She Finger Painting
Copyright Candice Coates 2016

She: Oil Finger Painting

Browsing through the internet, I somehow stumbled upon the artist, Iris Scott. Watching her technique and listening to her story of how she became a Finger painter in oils, sparked a grand, and yet familiar, curiosity within me.

I began to remember, half my life ago, standing in an AP art class my senior year of high school, with the assignment of creating an oil painting.

I remember being frustrated with my brushes and deciding to use my fingers instead. (This is not that painting.) Watching Iris create colorful wonder with her fingers pushed me to retrace my steps in creativity.

Thus, She, was born.

She is a 5×7 inch oil on canvas, done completely with my fingers. I’ll admit, painting on such a small area with my fingers alone presents its own level of challenges, but the freedom of creative release outshines them.

To see the work of Iris Scott, you can do so by visiting www.irisscottfineart.com.

Me, I totally intend to further explore this technique and see what happens. There is such a wide breadth of expression between this form of painting and the previous paintings (you can find those HERE) I’ve done and shared on this blog. Though different, they all give the same results when completed…HAPPINESS!

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

Girl: Digital Gesture Drawing

Jester Drawing by Candice Coates
Gesture Drawing by Candice Coates

Girl: Digital Gesture Drawing

I am not one to do much or any drawing on my tablet for that matter, but today as I sat with my tablet in hand I just couldn’t resist. I am one of those people you tends to see the something in strange objects; be it in the clouds, dust on a table top, or in this case, the shoe treads left in the floor rug. Goodness I’ve even seen images in spilled bottles of bubbles.

This image is, as with all gestrures, extremely rough. For one it was drawn on my tablet with my finger as I have not invested in proper stylus. Truth is I use my tablet to download and read books and little else. Well, there is the Two Dots game I play and the Duolingo app I employ to keep up with my language learning. The point is I don’t draw on it…until today really.

I just couldn’t leave the girl with her back towards me stuck in the floor rug. I intend to take her further, preferably through oil on canvas. But for now, here she is in digital ink, scrolled to life by the tip of my finger.

Dream. Imaging. Believe. Do. CONQUER!