This summer we’re doing a lot of workshops at Art Village. This last week we did a project called crayon etching. This may sound like a simple elementary school project, but I’ve seen some amazing pieces of art using this technique.
To make our crayon etchings, we first colored an entire piece of paper solid with different colored crayons. Some people chose every color they can get their hands on. Some decided to choose a color family like pinks and purples. Some just colored randomly. Others drew shapes to color like triangles and rectangles. The coloring part of the project was long and rigorous. You have to make sure that the paper is nice and waxy. They all did a great job coloring their papers.
Next, came the dramatic part. We painted over the entire crayon drawing with black tempera paint. This was actually a little scary for our participants. They asked me “Are you sure this is going to work?” They had just spent a good 45 minutes coloring this paper and now we were covering the whole thing with black. It felt like we were ruining it.
But then came the fun part. Once the papers dried, we began scraping away the black and scratching designs into the black painted surface. Now the colors that were underneath, began to come through. The pictures were luminous. It was such colorful contrast to the black paint. “This is so cool!” they said. And it was.
I think life is kind of like a crayon etching. Sometimes we spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to achieve something. We are coloring our papers. We choose just the right colors. We make sure we’ve covered it well. We put our heart and soul into a dream or a goal. Then, something happens and it looks like all that work is ruined. Some circumstance covers our colorful life with black paint. The color is gone.
If we stop here, we can think, “I’ve done all this work and all I have out of life is a depressing piece of black paper.” But if we realize that this is not the end, we can take this black surface and begin to scrape away a new and exciting piece of art. Something wonderful starts to appear out of what seems like a hopeless black circumstance.
I want to encourage you to look at life not as a static spot in time, but rather a fluid process. There is an ebb and flow to life and there’s always a way to move forward towards something good. I believe that every obstacle and struggle is just the beginning of a great opportunity. We just need to be willing to keep looking for the possibilities. Everything can be turned into something good. Enjoy the journey and see the beauty.
Art Saves Lives!
Have you ever wondered how you got here? If you could go back in time 5 years, is this where you would have imagined yourself to be?
Four years ago, Art Village was a figment of my imagination. It was a crazy idea that was sketched in a notebook I carried around with me. Those notes and ideas eventually came together to form a business plan. And three years ago we opened our doors. This last Friday we celebrated our 3 year anniversary.
I remember opening day thinking, “Am I making the biggest mistake of my life?” It seemed like I was playing business. I wondered if anyone would show up to paint pottery or sign up for a class? The first day I think I had a couple people come in and look, but that was all. When the first people came in and actually sat down to paint something, I had to restrain myself from giving them all hugs.
Now three years later, we had a full house. It was so great to be with the people who started out as customers and have turned into friends. It seems that Art Village has become a part of many people’s lives. Now, I can’t even imagine not being here.
I am so fortunate to be surrounded by such creative and positive people. The artists who make art here and the staff that works with me every day are inspiring to be around. The business has really taken on a life of it’s own. And I can hardly wait to see what we’re going to be when we grow up.
Looking back on the journey so far, I think about how things have come to be. I don’t believe in randomness. I really believe our imaginations are powerful. An interesting thing happens when we start to imagine better things for our lives. Those thoughts embed themselves in our mind and we start to notice things that are related to those thoughts.
I’ve seen this phenomenon when people take a drawing class. Once they start looking at shapes, shadows and lines during class, they then start noticing these things in the world around them. Even though the world around them stays the same, they look at their world differently. They’re the ones who have grown and changed.
We can apply this principle to all areas of our lives. I want to encourage you to find a dream that you can set your passions towards. Every great accomplishment starts out as just an idea. It starts out as a figment of someone’s imagination. But the amazing thing is that those images can become reality. Grab your notebook and start scribbling down your crazy ideas. Your mind will start to search out things to help you reach your dreams. You’ll start noticing opportunities.
Art Saves Lives!
My friend Elizabeth came in to Art Village the other day to show us her latest project. She used six ceramic tiles and on three of them she drew three wedding portraits of her grandparents. On one she painted a set of wedding rings and on the other two she painted some flowers. The details were amazing. You could really see all the planning and care it took to create these awesome little works of art.
It’s always fun to watch Elizabeth work on her projects. She comes in with a plan, usually an elaborate one. She diligently and meticulously sketches and paints her pieces. When completed, she takes the extra step and finishes it off by framing it in some unique way.
Watching Elizabeth work on this project made me think of how each of us approaches things in life in our own unique way. Most of us have heard of the four basic personality types, and it’s fun to see how each personality approaches art making.
Some artists are planners. Like Elizabeth they like to make sure that each step is completed to perfection and they diligently continue on until the project is completed.
Some like variety. They like to try different types of art and art making is often a social activity to be shared with friends. We see this in our clay classes. People sharing ideas and having a good time.
Some are very results oriented. They just want to get it done. My niece approaches art making in this way. She’ll make a book complete with narrative and illustrations within a half hour.
Then there are those who enjoy the process. Life is a journey. Why hurry if the act of art making is fun in itself? This is my nephew. He’ll come in to paint a ceramic piece and keep adding color over color until the piece is just dripping with glaze.
We all have a combination of these personality styles and bents in our approach to life. There’s a little bit of each of these in all of us. I think it’s fun to try art making from the viewpoints of these different personalities. These are a few exercises to try.
Planners – Choose a painting or drawing from art history and try to duplicate it.
Variety/Social – Find some friends and do a joint art project like a collage or altered book where everyone works on a little bit of it.
Results – For one week do a small painting or drawing a day – fast and furious
Journey – Staple a large piece of canvas to a wall to create an ongoing work of art. Add a little here and there over time. It will be the ever changing, never -ending artwork.
Notice how you approach art. What feels good to you? What approach is more of a stretch? Knowing your art making personality makes it easier for you to appreciate your way of art making without comparing to other people. That’s what’s so great about being a unique creative being. None of us are the same. So embrace your art personality.
Art Saves Lives!
We at Art Village just finished judging a coloring contest that was hosted by D&D Auto. The theme was cars of the future. The kids were given a blank space to create any kind of car that they could dream of. When Dave asked me to judge the contest for him, I had no idea how many kids would participate. I think we had around three hundred entries. The task was a little overwhelming but it was a lot of fun to see what the kids came up with.
One of the cool things about kids’ drawings is that anything is possible. They drew cars that ran on air, pollen, soda, the sun, and water. These cars could fly, make ice cream and candy, go under water, be lived in, jump up and down, talk to you like a friend and be shaped like just about anything. There was even an Amazing Hot Dog Car that ran on ketchup and mustard.
I noticed an interesting thing as I looked at each age group. As the kids got older, the crazy ideas started to diminish a bit. It was a subtle change, but as each grade got higher, there were fewer ideas like buttons that will take you to Florida and more practical features like getting 51mpg. There was still a lot of creativity, but I could see a slight shift from the dreamer view of anything’s possible towards the more practical view of what’s probable.
I started thinking if our lives were a coloring contest called My Future, what would we draw? Would we draw crazy ideas that would embarrass us if someone else saw them? Or would we draw what we hope our future is going to look like based on our current economic situation and if we catch a few breaks?
I think we should use every crayon in the box along with every other drawing instrument we can find and draw the most outrageous and exciting future we can dream of.
I recommend a little exercise. Get out that piece of paper and draw your future, a future where anything is possible. Pretend you are in first grade again. If you could live the life of your dreams, what would that look like? This might seem silly, but it’s actually a very powerful exercise to help create success in your life.
What happens when you write or draw out plans, dreams and goals, is that your mind will begin to pick up on external clues to help bring you closer to your dreams. An opportunity you may have let pass you by in the past is now recognizable because you have planted a visual in your mind.
I believe that we are responsible for the lives we have and we can start to change our lives by first daring to imagine something better. Dream big.
Art Saves Lives!