“CREATIVE SPARKS” is a monthly column by Mary Lou Ackerman and Joan Horcha.  They pull together all kinds of wisdom and suggestions meant to get your creative juices flowing!



October 2018



September 2018 



July 2018

Creative Myths
by Professor R. Keith Sawyer

MYTH – Creative people always have great ideas
REALITY – Charles Darwin generated scores of bad ideas and followed many false leads. When he returned from his voyage on H.M.S. Beagle, he spent years thinking about what he had seen, making notes about his ever changing theory. Only after 13 years and many sparks of insight, some suggested by his mistakes, did he reach a coherent theory of evolution by natural selection.

” Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
— Scott Adams

” Many people are inventive, sometimes cleverly so. But real creativity begins with the drive to work on and on and on.”
— Marguerite Harmon Bro

” There is an artist within each person, and everybody has the capacity to find creative genius in themselves.”
— Annette Moser-Wellman

” If we are to flourish as creative beings, if we are to grow into wholeness, we must bloom wherever we are planted.”
— Sarah Ban Breathnach



June 2018

Myths About Creativity by
Professor R. Keith Sawyer

Myth: Creative people get a great idea in a flash and then just execute it.
Reality: Orville and Wilbur Wright were hardly the first to try to build a flying machine, but they tinkered with their design for years, revising each element again and again. For the wings alone, they tested more than 200 designs in a wind tunnel they built, and each attempt sparked new ideas that led to a machine that actually flew.

” Creativity is becoming intensively absorbed in the process and giving it form.”
— Susan Smith

” An original is a creation motivated by desire.”
— Man Ray

” Whatever creativity is, it is in part a solution to a problem.”
— Brian Aldiss

” A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.”
— Frank Capra



May 2018

DESIGN PRINCIPLES by Kathleen Conover

1. Dominance- most important of the principles, resolves chaos and regains unity
2. Conflict- contrasts and opposites (large vs. small, smooth vs. rough)
3. Balance- formal (symmetrical) and informal (asymmetrical)
4. Unity- creates aesthetic order, harmony
5. Harmony- similar elements, achieved with repetition
6. Repetition with Variety- similarity, allows the whole to dominate its parts to achieve
unity
7. Gradation- a gradual change of elements, important for transitions

” It’s a moment that I’m after, a fleeting moment, but not a frozen moment.”
— Andrew Wyeth

” You begin with the possibilities of the material.”
— Robert Rauschenberg

” The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.”

— George Sand

” Art generally, is a powerful tool of communication and bonding, irrespective of age, location, tribe or race.”

— Ibe Ananaba



April 2018

DESIGN ELEMENTS
Taken from: Checklist for Strengthening Design and Composition
from Kathleen Conover

1. Dominance- most important of the principles, resolves chaos and regains unity
2. Conflict- contrasts and opposites (large vs. small, smooth vs. rough)
3. Balance- formal (symmetrical) and informal (asymmetrical)
4. Unity- creates aesthetic order, harmony
5. Harmony- similar elements, achieved with repetition
6. Repetition with Variety- similarity, allows the whole to dominate its parts to achieve
unity
7. Gradation- a gradual change of elements, important for transitions

” The artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.”
— Novalis

” Art is art. Everything else is everything else.”
— Ad Reinhardt

” Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”
— Stella Adler

” In its highest form, art has a civilizing effect on society. It helps us to remember what makes life worth worth living.”
— Dorian Vellejo



March 2018

Ideas for Overcoming Creative Blocks
from ArtistsNetwork

1. Do you find a blank canvas or page intimidating? Apply a wash of color across it right away. It doesn’t matter what color- just load your brush and make a stroke. Now you’ve got movement and color. You can always cover it up later, but staring at a canvas striped with color is a lot more inspirational than looking at glaring white and not knowing where to start. (Even if the place to start is covering up that color!)

2. Get organized. Go through your studio and put everything in its place-and find a place for everything. That box you find in the back of the closet might be just the thing to inspire you to try something new.

3. Try a new medium. Most arts have crossover techniques and information, such as color theory, that can help you see your own art in a new way.

4. Take a class. Taking a class with a good teacher will remind you why you love your art. The bonus is that you will also be socializing with fellow creative beings and that is also almost always a catalyst for inspiration.

5. Create an idea journal. Every time you see a picture in a magazine that appeals to you, rip it out. Put your clippings together grouped by color theme, shape or any other common denominator. When you feel blocked, work from the journal. Make one of those ideas a reality.

6. Get out. Go see a movie, read a book, visit a garden or spend time with a friend. Just keep your mind open for ideas.

7. Make a list of projects that you’ve always wanted to try. Then close your eyes, twirl your finger and pick one.

8. Keep a block journal. Every time you feel blocked, write about it. Once you’re back on track, write how you got there. What ignited your spark again and had you ready to create once more? You might be surprised to look back and find things that work to topple your creative blocks.

9. Kick your inner critic in the shins. Don’t play the compare game with yourself. The truth is that you need to work to please one person in the room- yourself. When you work to please yourself, the rest will take care of itself.

“A work of art is above all an adventure of the mind.”
— Eugene Ionesco

“Just as the bird sings or the butterfly soars, because it is his natural character, so the artist works.”
— Alma Gluck

“He who works with his hands is a labourer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”

— Francis of Assisi



January 2018

From Joan M. Horcha

THE ARTIST’S ALPHABET (Source Unknown)
Accept different styles
Be inspiring
Create masterpieces
Dream big dreams
Express your creativity
Fear no medium
Give gentle critiques
Have fun
Imagine more
Jettison painting blocks
Keep your individuality
Love your creations
Mentor others
Nurture your creativity
Open your mind
Plan the center of interest
Quash negative thoughts
Respect the work of others
Study design
Touch hearts
Utilize your talents
Visualize new paths
Wander through art exhibits
Xpect some misses
Yearn to learn more
Zealously support other artists

” The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.”
– Joan Miro

“A good painting to me has always been a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires.”
– Hedy Lamarr

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.”
– Twyla Tharp



December 2017

(From Joan M. Horcha)
10 Drawing Basics for Beginning Artists
By: Courtney Jordan

1. Draw frequently so that drawing becomes instinctive.
2. Start with a five-minute drawing.
3. Carry a small sketchbook with you all the time.
4. Indulge yourself! Give yourself the space and time to draw what you enjoy.
5. Compare your drawing with past work and not other people’s work.
6. Remember: Nobody’s perfect.
7. Feel good when you draw. Losing yourself in a drawing is akin to meditation and provides relief from the stress of everyday life.
8. Achieve mastery of a medium or technique.
9. Drawing is a journey.
10. Start drawing at home….and then start traveling.

” You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good, and gradually weeding out the parts that aren’t good, the parts that aren’t yours. It’s called feedback, and it’s the most direct route to learning about your own vision. It’s called doing your own work. After all, someone has to do your work, and you’re the closest person around.”
— David Bayles

“Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.”
— W. Somerset Maugham

” Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”
— Albert Einstein

” Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.”
— Herbie Hancock

 



November 2017

Creative Sparks *

 

(From Joan M. Horcha)

As artists, we need to recognize that visual clues can be valuable tools in making a successful painting. Following are some tools that linear and aerial perspective offer us in landscape painting.
Linear and Aerial Perspective Clues by Michael Chesley Johnson

1. Overlapping objects tell us what’s in front of what. You should overlap shapes as much as possible to make the spacial relationships clear.
2. Scale, or apparent size of an object, diminishes with distance.
3. Contrast decreases with distance.
4. Sharpness of edges also decreases with distance. Because contrast decreases with distance, the edges, being dependent on contrast, seem to become softer.
5. The temperature of a color decreases with distance. Scattered blue sky light shifts colors to the cooler end of the spectrum.
6. The chroma ( richness) of a color decreases with distance.
7. Detail (as well as texture) diminishes with distance.

” In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Mournful and yet grand is the destiny of the artist.”
— Franz Liszt

” An art book is a museum without walls.”
— Andre Malraux

“What art offers is space- a certain breathing room for the spirit.”
— John Updike



October 2017

(From Joan M. Horcha)

The Importance of Art Critiques / 4 Tips for Receiving Feedback
by Richard McKinley

1. Spend time contemplating what you really hope to gain from the critique. What we often hope for is more of a validation of efforts than a brutal, sometimes seemingly callous evaluation of what is technically wrong.

2. Know what you like about your painting before asking for criticism. The better you know what it is you like or dislike before receiving criticism, the better able you will be to put it into perspective. Remember, it doesn’t have to become an argument to win the critic over to your side. It is just their opinion.

3. Seek peers whenever possible. The more respect you have for the critic, the easier it is to accept.

4. Don’t discredit positive feedback. It is often easier for us to accept negative criticism.

A little introspection and understanding of what you hope to gain from exposing yourself to criticism is the key to making it useful.

 

” A picture is a poem without words.”
— Horace

” Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.”
— Dr. Seuss

” Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
— Charles Mingus



September 2017October 2017

(From Joan M. Horcha)

WHAT CAUSES CREATIVITY?
Taken from Patron of the Arts with Srilan Srisukumaran

1. CONFIDENCE: ability to question without fear
2. OBSERVATION: seeing problems/ ideas
3. HUMILITY: knowing you don’t know everything
4. MINDFULNESS: thinking on how to think
5. CURIOSITY: exploring and experimenting
6. RESOURCEFULNESS: something to tinker with
7. ENERGY: to explore and tinker
8. ACTION: not just thinking, but doing

 

“Art cannot result from sophisticated, frivolous, or superficial effects.”
— Hans Hofmann

“One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.”
— Andrew Wyeth

“Vision is the true creative rhythm.”
— Robert Delaunay

“Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization.”
— Lincoln Steffens



August 2017

(From Joan M. Horcha)

10 Drawing Basics for Beginning Artists
by Katherine Tyrrell

1. Draw frequently so that drawing becomes instinctive.
2. Start with a five-minute drawing.
3. Carry a small sketchbook with you all the time,
4. Indulge yourself! Give yourself the space and time to draw what you enjoy.
5. Compare your drawing with past work and not other people’s work.
6. Remember: Nobody’s perfect.
7. Feel good when you draw. Losing yourself in a drawing is akin to meditation and provides relief from the stress of everyday life.
8. Achieve mastery of a medium or technique.
9. Drawing is a journey.
10. Start drawing at home….and then start traveling.

“Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin. Economics and art are strangers.” Nathanial Hawthorne

” All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”
Frederico Fellini

“Art is man’s expression of his joy in labor.”                                                                                                        Henry Kissinger

“The best artists know what to leave out.”                                                                                                              Charles de Lint



April 2017

     — from MaryLou Ackerman

10 rules for beginning a painting by Richard Diebenkorn

In his search for “rightness” in his work, the American post-war painter wrote himself a list of 10 notes to guide him in the studio…
Attempt what is not certain.  Certainty may or may not come later.  It may then be a valuable delusion.

The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued – except as a stimulus for further moves.

DO search.

Use and respond to the initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

Don’t “discover” a subject – of any kind.

Somehow don’t be bored but if you must, use it in action.  Use its destructive potential.

Mistakes can’t be erased but they move you from your present position

Keep thinking about Pollyanna.

Tolerate chaos.

Be careful only in a perverse way.



March 2017

NAIVE ART
–Taken from “Naive Art Online” by Nirel Matsil

There is a genre of art that is found in almost every country, hung on the walls of the most famous galleries, and created by some of the most acclaimed and talented artists. I am referring to none other than naive art! Yet despite so much going on for this blossoming genre, very few actually know what defines a piece of art as  ‘naive.’ Naive art takes the ordinary and adds enchantment. It turns the reality of adulthood into the weightless joys of youth. Simply put, naive art turns reality into something else, something better.

Many of the most popular art genres find imaginative ways to create altered realities. Naive art uses childlike innocence to LIGHTEN reality.

The four characteristics of naive art that LIGHTEN reality:

1. Bright colors – Utilize colors and mix media that are not true to reality and often juxtaposed against one another.
2. Childlike perspective – Often creates the illusion that objects are floating or without anything anchoring them in place.
3. Live creatures, people, and flora – The focus is almost always on animated characters and never on inanimate objects.
4. Precision of detail – Very close attention to the soft borders, intense backgrounds, and fine lines of figures and objects.

” Love is the spirit that motivates the artist’s journey.”
— Eric Maisel

” I dream a lot. I do more painting when I’m not painting. It’s in the subconscious.”
  — Andrew Wyeth



February 2017



January 2017

Tips to Develop a Style of Your Own
       By Stephen Quiller, Artist, Instructor, Juror

1. Follow Your Intuition- This applies to everything from your choice of subject, to paint application, to a certain color that seems right.
2. The Craft of the Painting is Important- It can’t override the creative aspect of the work. The technique must follow the expression.
3. Don’t be Content to Paint  Like Everyone Else.
4. Study the Masters- There are many, so choose the ones you respond to most. Read about them and study their paintings.
5.  Paint What You Know- What you are closest to and what you are inspired by.
6. Style has Nothing to do With the Subject or the Medium- It’s your own way of seeing the subject and putting it on paper.
7. Don’t Focus on Awards and Honors and Commercial Success- This can and probably will stifle your growth as a painter.
8. Enjoy the Process of Painting- Don’t be overly concerned with the product.
9. Spend Long Hours of Time by Yourself- Develop your thoughts and painting process. Then have short bursts of interacting with peers, attending exhibits and going to museums.
10. Growth of One’s Style is an Ongoing Process- Don’t force it. If you follow your intuition, your style will emerge and grow.

” A sculpture is a person who is interested in the shape of things, a poet in words, a musician in sounds.”
– Henry Moore

” A work of art is a world in itself reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.”
– Hans Hoffman

” An art book is a museum without walls.”
– Andre Malraux


December 2016

Ready or not the holiday season is upon us, the weather is starting to gift us with snowflakes and hot chocolate is the drink of the day.

December has the shortest day and longest night.  We have lots of creative inspirational moments to lead us to paint, write, sing or maybe cook some magic.

Now is a great time to give ourselves the gift of taking our creative thoughts and making some art.  Take a walk and soak up the beauty of our town and its seasonal displays.

Wishing you creative joy now and always,
Love,
            – Mary Lou


November 2016

Thirteen Tips to Become a Better Artist by Pat Dews

Taken from Creative Composition & Design

1.  Look at good art.

2.  Read. A wealth of information is waiting for you in art books.
3. Study. If you know how to draw the figure, you can draw anything.
4. Find a place to paint.
5. Paint. After you have looked and studied, paint and then paint some more.
6. Make small studies. I have learned about design from making small studies that often have collage pieces added to help me work out ideas.
7. View your in-progress paintings on an upright easel, from a distance and in every orientation.
8. Learn to take good photos for reference. You need reference material that you have made, not someone else’s.
9. Work in more than one genre. One enhances the other.
10.Enter shows. You must view yourself as a professional if you want to be treated as one.
11.Sell your work. Your self-esteem gets a boost when someone wants to own something you created.
12.Make the time. Do it now. Tomorrow may never come.
13.Reward yourself. If you’ve made an important step or reached a personal goal, then pat yourself on the back!

” It is not in life, but in art that self-fulfillment is to be found.”
Wilson Mizner
” Vision is the true creative rhythm.”
Robert Delaunay
” You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”
Jack London


October 2016

Four Ways to Mix Neutrals 

       by  Stephen Quiller

ADDING BLACK (for example, lamp black or ivory black) is a simple way to dull color; however, this method can make a painting monotonous. The black pigments absorb light while the colored pigments reflect light, so the neutral appears unattractively flat.

ADDING WHITE or, in the case of transparent watercolor, adding more water, also neutralizes a color. Adding white makes the color more pastel and thus less bright.

MIXING TRUE COMPLEMENTARY COLORS (colors located directly opposite each other on the color wheel) creates beautiful semineutrals. Depending on the ratio of the elements in the mixture, the two colors more or less cancel out each other to produce exquisite grays.

MIXING NEAR-COMPLIMENTARY COLORS (a pair of colors in which one is located slightly to either side of the other’s compliment) also neutralizes the colors within the mixture, producing beautiful “near grays.”

” A good artist should be isolated. If he isn’t isolated, something is wrong.”
Orson Welles

” The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
Pablo Picasso

” A work of art is a world in itself, reflecting senses and emotions of the artist’s world.”
Hans Hofmann


September 2016

Tips for Writing an Artist’s Bio
                   ….. from an article by Lori McNee

Your bio should explain who you are, what you do, add a dash of your personality and then leave the reader with confidence in you. A good bio is an important part of your promotional material.

MINI: You will need a mini bio for your social networks and for your elevator pitch. It is a few short sentences.

SHORT: A short bio needs to have all the components of a long one, but only highlights the very best. Short bios are used for your blog, newsletter, interview, brochures, magazines and query letters. Keep it to 100 to 175 words.

LONG: A longer bio is used when you feel you have a lot to say. Keep the longer bio to a page in length and consider room for a picture.

” I don’t paint people and things; I paint the way light reacts to people and things.”
  Harley Brown

” Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
  Pablo Picasso

” Some of us come on earth seeing; some of us come on earth seeing color.”
   Louise Nevelson


August 2016

 Ten Steps for Boosting Creativity   
by Jeffrey Baumgarten

1. Listen to music by Johann Sebastian Bach.
2. Brainstorm. Brainstorming can help you not only come up with sacks full of new ideas, but can help you decide which is best.
3. Always carry a small notebook and pen or pencil around with you. If you are struck by an idea, you can quickly note it down.
4. If you are stuck for an idea, open a dictionary, randomly select a word and then try to formulate ideas incorporating this word.
5. Define your problem. Make notes and define your problem in detail.
6. If you can’t think, go for a walk. A change of atmosphere is good and helps shake up the brain cells.
7. Don’t watch TV.
8. Don’t do drugs.
9. Read as much as you can about everything possible.
10. Exercise your brain. If you don’t exercise your brain, it will get flabby and useless.

” Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”
Mary Lou Clark

” To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
   Joseph Chilton Pierce

” Creativity can be described as letting go of certainties.”
   Gail Sheehy

” Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”
James Joyce


July 2016

Summer is Here!

July is Summer’s month of celebration, and Fenton is full of days of planned events for you to enjoy. The annual Artwalk is pack with many delightful exhibits lots of art, music, theater, food, surprises, happiness galore!

Come and enjoy the magic you will love it!!
— Love, Marylou


June 2016

Spring is Here!

“Art is the signature of civilizations.”
Beverly Sills

“True artists are almost the only men who do their work for pleasure.”
Auguste Rodin

“Art resides in the quality of doing, process is not magic.”
Charles Eames


May 2016

 It’s May and a time for celebration of Spring and the awakening of Green with the rest of colors we love.

May is the birth month of Mary Cassette and the pastel paintings of loving mothers and children, and of George Carlin who said “think off center” and Tina Fey who in “Bossy Pants” writes “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it” and Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air”. All the same message just different ways of expression!

It is a wonderful time to sweep out the cobwebs and fire up your creative juice!
– All the best, Marylou

” Every art expression is rooted fundamentally in the personality and temperament of the artist.”
— Hans Hoffman

” Painting is self- discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.”
— Jackson Pollack

” A picture is a poem without words.”
— Horace


April 2016

From a Blog Post by Johannes Vloothuis:  The Value of Hard and Soft Edges   

       by Johannes Vloothuis  (taken from a website article)

Handling edges is a skill that all fine artists will need to learn sooner or later. Edges that are out of focus are vital in paintings in order to create the 3D illusion of making things look like they recede in a landscape painting, for example. Edges that are blurred make things appear they are moving.

There are three kinds of edges in all mediums:

DIFFUSED EDGES
The contour of forms can become completely lost, leaving little or no definition. Use diffused edges to:
*Indicate foliage in the last plane in your background
*Create ethereal cumulous clouds
*Create realistic waterfalls that appear to be moving
*Indicate crashing waves in a seascape

SOFT EDGES
The edge is recognizable, but blurry.
*Distant trees and evergreens in backgrounds
*Distant hills
*Things in the peripheral areas of a painting
*Water reflections

HARD EDGES
Clearly defined with no sense of being out of focus.
*Rocks
*Buildings
*Rocky mountains

” The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure.”
Dale Carnegie

” Nothing right can be accomplished in art without enthusiasm.”
Robert Schumann


March 2016

Five Art Composition Pointers  
       From a Blog Post by Johannes Vloothuis

1. Leave the very bottom of your foreground alone and just use it to draw in the viewer. This is the most common area to originate a visual path. Add detail to the middle ground, as this is the area where the viewer will normally be looking with his head straight. The background should just be a support and mostly done with soft edges.

2. Respect the periphery of the eye by subduing anything that can be distracting at the left and right borders.

3. A painting is never finished, but you can sure stop working on it in time. In your final assessment, ask yourself what you can remove rather than add.

4. A golden rule of thumb is that the smaller the painting, the more poetic it should be. As the painting gets larger, you can add more and more detail.

5. One neat way to simplify a painting is by stumbling to produce fog.

” Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.”
Plutarch

” Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does, the better.”
Andre Gide

” Every picture shows a spot with which the artist has fallen in love.”
Alfred Sisley


February 2016

Welcome to February the month of Love.

Now is the time to use your gift of creating art and to share it with others!
Use your kid like mind and let some silly ideas break through in a poem or haiku, or a self portrait.
Share your laughter!

It was Victor Hugo who said “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face”.

Happy Valentines Day everyone.

– Marylou Ackerman


January 2016

20 Ways to Create Better Work Habits in the Studio

     by Lori McNee

1.  Focus on top priorities ( get bills, etc. out of the way).
2.  Eliminate the unimportant ( time- wasters, busy work).
3.  Be proactive.
4.  Plan weekly goals ( write a ” to do ” list).
5.  Plan daily goals ( outline the day).
6.  Begin with the end in mind.
7.  Get into the studio with your morning cup of coffee.
8.  Train yourself to be regular and workmanlike.
9.  Slow down and focus.
10. Don’t take on too much work at once.
11. Don’t be lazy.
12. Highlight a problem, and find a solution.
13. Balance work, rest and exercise into your day.
14. Build your business relationships, and learn how to build your art brand on Twitter!
15. Block out time to read and study. Stay current and informed with your favorite blogs,
magazines, and books.
16. Cut down on trivia, busywork, time- wasters, TV, Twitter, and Facebook.
17. Leave your studio organized and ready for the next day!
18. Remember: WHERE YOU ARE HEADED IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HOW FAST
YOU ARE GETTING THERE!
19. Surround yourself with supportive people.
20. Stay positive.

” True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.”
Albert Einstein

” All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”
Frederico Fellini

” I don’t paint to live, I live to paint.”
Willem de Kooning