Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

Daily Joys and Simple Pleasures

LOOK What I Made! Ugly Lumps! Yay.

These are pictures of Carmen Torbus! She’s the author of the book I’m writing about this week.

Carmen Torbus is a self-taught mixed media artist and workshop leader from Port St. Lucie, FL.  Self proclaimed bliss follower, big dreamer and lover of the words, “I’m so inspired right now!”, she is passionate about creating art that encourages connection, validates emotion and nourishes the soul.  Her workshops focus on combining mixed-media techniques with enthusiasm, passion and participant perspective.  Her blog and artwork can be seen in the winter 2010 issue of Stamptinton’s Artful Blogging and the May/June issue of Somerset Studios. Her new book, The Artist Unique, Discovering Your Creative Signature Through Inspiration and Techniques was released in April 2011.

 

 

I was just talking to a dear friend in the industry about self-promotion.  One of the unique challenges for independent artists.  We get to make the art and hit the drum so people will notice what we have made.  I’m always excited to show people what I have made when it is lovely.  When I like it.  But what about when I don’t like what I’ve made.  No, it’s not my habit to show it around.  Except this time.  Because this was an experiment in challenging myself.  An opportunity to dive in to something that I knew virtually nothing about.  By design!   I’ve repeated something that I don’t celebrate and I am not proud to share.  I’ve consistently declared, “I’m just not good at …. dimensional design.”  Ever since I ruined  a perfectly good bag of potatoes trying to carve potato prints (key word?  trying) I’ve steered clear of any thing much beyond layers of paper.  And, if today’s photograph was the end of story you might think that it was all well and good that I steered miles clear!  So after my trip to the craft store, prompted by the polymer clay section of THE ARTIST UNIQUE, I came home and started…making stuff.  Folding it around.  Working it so it was more pliable.  And LOOK!  Look what I made!  These perfectly ugly, misshappen little lumps that I then experimented with writing – and smeared it.  Oh.  Well.  I suppose this is when I have to post the picture?  Okay.  There.

It’s not that the photo is blurry.  The Little Polymer Lumps were simply that bad.  Part of the process was that we were supposed to give away what we made. Which, after swallowing my pride, I did.  And it would be quite candid to tell you that was one mouthful of pride I had to swallow.  I gave them to a group of dozens of women I taught last month.  I was talking about acceptance and discovery.  And being willing to step away from the impulse toward perfection and “getting every thing right.”  And boy howdy – if ever I made the “perfect” demonstration piece on that topic…it was these little polymer clay medallions.  I learned a lot in this first go around.  “Round One,” with polymer clay. And I was still willing to get back in the ring for Round Two.

This is only the middle of the story.  So keep checking back.  More and different pictures will appear each day this week.  quotes by mary anne radmacher:

live closer, every moment, to that thing that makes you sing.

begin as if you will finish. let the story be told that you had the courage to begin.

joy moves at the speed of acceptance.

don’t limit yourself with studied successes: failure is vastly underrated.  failure’s where some of the finest perspective comes from.

don’t fire your inner critic – send her to human resources and get her reassigned.

inspiration is knowing what time of day and in what part of the world to stand, with an open bag, and catch all the stars that fall.

Are You Lucky Enough To Have A Friend Like This?

You are one lucky soul if you have just one friend like this.

A friend to whom you would answer, “YES,” without reservation, before

you even know what the question is.

 

If you do indeed have such a friend – you might want to forward this to

them with a little note.  A note that says something like, “When I saw this -

YOU came to mind.”

 

Fortunate, indeed.  That’s the kind of friendship I was thinking of when I wrote, “US: Celebrating the Power of Friendship.”

Such significant friendships can be woven so deeply into our lives – we forget to pause and honor them.  Perhaps today -

you can remember and let them know.

 

Here are some of my favorite words on the subject of friendship:

True friendship is a plant of slow growth.  – George Washington -

Today I am still close to you in spirit – a little your friend, because I withhold nothing from you.   – Albert Camus -

Being a friend to dogs and men is a good day’s work.  – Bevins Jay -

Raise the Bridge, my friend is sailing by.  – St. Augustine -

The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.  – Aristotle -

I am your friend, accept no substitutes.  – Groucho Marx -

REACH

Carmen Torbus,

in her book, THE ARTIST UNIQUE, encourages everyone with the impulse to create to REACH.  Reach beyond their comfort zone. Reach beyond what they know or think they know…and explore what MIGHT BE.  That is an impulse that has motivated artists through the centuries.  Picasso was famously quoted expressing that if he knew what a thing was going to be before he made it, why would he bother making it?

A good question.  Inspired by Carmen’s book…I wondered about creating a POD of artists willing to press their comfort zones.  I asked Carmen if she’d like a small group of professional artists to use her book as an inspiration to create.  But!  (you may object) YOU are professionals.  Art is easy for you.  Ha!  A misconception if I ever heard one!  Art.  Making art.  Creating.  It takes courage to step into any mystery and muster the courage to discover a new thing or behave in a new way.  Art is no exception.  And being a professional artist just sometimes makes it harder because the bar for something “looking good” is raised.

A small band of courageous souls:  Carmen, herself.  Me.  Liz Kalloch.  Christine Mason Miller.  Christen Olivarez.  We all said yes to picking a method or artistic expression with which we were little familiar.  Or not familiar at all.  Explore it.  Create something…and give it away.  That was the structure.

Carmen’s book is a buffet table of  yummy artistic options. I picked the one that I’ve resisted all my life. The expression that made me most uncomfortable and the one I had the least experience with.  Dimensional work: Polymer Clay.  I didn’t even have any.  I had none of the tools. This was a fresh effort and the first foray into it was dismal.  So clunky I was reluctant to take a photo of it.  Ah.  But I did.  Because documenting failures along the path is an excellent way to imprint the truth that Edison freely shared: there are no failures, just a bunch of ways that lead to a solution.

If you were to pick something about which you have an interest or curiosity but no demonstrated skill or talent: what would it be?  Featured today is one of Carmen’s lovely works.  Pictured on Monday will be my first effort at understanding how to work with Polymer Clay.  Reach!  Reach a little today.

 

THE ARTIST UNIQUE by Carmen Torbus

Carmen Torbus.  A name familiar to me through industry peers.  In the last year Carmen and I have become more familiar with each other as friends on Facebook.  Her just-released first book was a real celebration.  I was intrigued on many levels.  Carmen always defines herself as a “self-taught” artist.  Each time I would see that qualifying description I would have an instructive conversation with myself.  I would try and remember if I’d ever see any other artist qualify themselves as a “on-the-job-taught” artist or “university-educatied” artist.  Ah.  Yes.  Those initials after someone’s name do indeed provide some sort of validation, don’t they?  And, in fact, as those conversations unfolded in my own soul I met the “prevailing wisdom” of our culture.  That wisdom most often reflected in the question, “Who taught you that?” or this question, “Where’d you learn that?”  Generally it seems more acceptable to hold a body of knowledge if somehow has handed it to you through book and lecture and memory and rote.  When I followed the threads, the “bread crumb trail” of knowledge it often ended up at someone’s door whose answer was, ‘I made it up,” or “I thought of this myself.”

So.  Carmen Torbus has written a book based on her own discovery and exploration as a self taught artist.  In this book, THE ARTIST UNIQUE, she’s not claiming to make people into professional artists.  Rather, she is extending the invitation to discover a unique artistic signature that comes through art.  Through discovery.  Through doing something that you previously did not know you could do. In these next few days I will be sharing with you my experience of discovery.  Using Carmen’s inspiration – I reached out to a media that I am not only unfamiliar with, but am actually uncomfortable with.  I have to confess that the area I chose to explore I have dismissed for decades with the explanation, “I’m simply not very good with that.”

What a surprise was in store for me when I was willing to suspend my judgement, read the invitation that Carmen Torbus offered in her book, and proceed.  At the outset, it appeared to just be about art.  But at the end of the story, I recognize it’s a model for much larger things.

Journey along with me over the coming few days, will you?

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