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Introversion and being an artist actually have little to do with each other. As much as people would like to pigeon-hole artists into the introversion category, I'm not convinced it's true. There are an awful lot of artists out there who prefer to just want to be out there with other people, attending shows, or generally being the center of attention. As it happens I'm not one of them. I get my energy from inside, mostly by being alone. This does wonders for my creativity because it gives me time to think, but I do agree that there is some link to creativity and introversion. One of them is the fact that artists need time to think in order to produce, but the other connection is a fundamental misunderstanding of both how the world works and what people have to offer.
I came across this video by Susan Cain called "The Power of Introverts". She throws a lot of good data out there, and I identify with it a lot of it. For one she says that up to 50% of the general population is introverted and that our society has changed from the contemplative in the 1800s to the personality in the 1900s and beyond. Even art collectors reward the extroverted artist these days; personality is so important with regards to making that connection to potential collectors because it gives the collector something else to hold onto instead of just the painting.
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I paint mostly with oils, but I have ventured into the realm of oil pastels at times with some success with portraits. In fact, probably three of my most popular works have been oil pastel paintings (seen below). I recently came across this step-by-step pastel portrait link by Gwenneth Barth-White, and thought it would be nice to share. It actually more follows how I build up my oil paintings (though I'm much less deliberate and more emotional instead), but it's still nice to see a good process. Enjoy:
This was a huge year for me artistically. I had my first museum and gallery exhibits and produced some of the best paintings I've done. My work has developed in both the abstract and figurative realms, and my style has strengthened. Below is a video of my work in 2014. I hope you enjoy.
You can see the videos on both my youtube and vimeo channels.
I recently posted a video from the BBC about the history of the color blue. It was such a fascinating watch because blue is one of the most important colors on my palette, if not the most. This new video from the BBC is about the color gold, and as you might expect, it's influence is pretty far reaching. And who knew that the greatest goldsmith of all was also a murderer, a rapist, and once stole gold from the Pope?
You can watch the videos in four parts below or see it in one 59-minute video on this site here: BBC A History of Color: Gold.
My strongest work are my abstracts, but sometimes the figurative comes out in me and I produce some good landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits. I enjoy these more than my abstracts because of the challenge they present, but like anything they require practice. I came across these videos by Joseph Lorusso who shows us how he builds up his palette and uses it on canvas to produce a portrait. There are some good tips in here. I hope you enjoy. You can view both on www.artinstructionblog.com.
This page, with accompanying slideshows and photos, is the most comprehensive varnishing video I've ever seen. It's put together by NitpickyArtist.com, which has a lot of good technical info including advice on how to reduce glare, how to enter juried shows, or even info about table surfaces and easels. You may not want to follow this person's advice all the way through, as it's quite complex, but there are a ton of good ideas in this article to use otherwise. It was the section at the bottom on how to clean a varnish brush that caught my interest initially.
Click on the link above or the photo below to read the full article.
I grew up in a small town on the coast of Maine, mostly on an island but sometimes on a peninsula near that island, too. The shop doors would open in May and the tourists started trickling in around Memorial Day at the end of the month. Things would turn into a boom from the 4th of July until Labor Day at the beginning of September. When I was growing up, October was quiet but these days leaf peepers come in hoards, making October the busiest month for many. After that the local folks tire and look forward to a long, quiet winter. We get snow most winters, but because it's an island the ocean, as cold as the ocean is (50F or 10C at its warmest in August), keeps things a bit warmer. Some winters we get pounded with feet upon feet of the heavy stuff. Other winters we get only a little, but every spring the cycle returns and everyone who was so eager to see the tourists leave in October are ready for the fun to begin again in May. This was my rhythm, and it still beats inside of me today.
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The right and left parts of the brain may do certain things, but they don't operate exclusively. I took this right-brain vs. left-brain test recently and scored 16 out of a possible 21 (there are 22 questions, but one is the same with reversed answers). I'm borderline "moderate" to "strong" right brain, which means I'm supposed to be more creative in my life. There is some truth to this, but a lot of this is also complete bunk. Here's why:
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Count me as skeptical. But skeptical of what is something I'm not really sure about. Where does creativity come from? I have no idea, except I know that it comes from me. I guess maybe it comes from the universe, or the Universe, whichever you feel better about. Or maybe it comes from within. Or maybe it's put there, inside of me, but count me as skeptical.
Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame says that it comes from some other world, and that's not a new concept. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is an excellent creativity book. I don't subscribe to the "it comes from God" pamphlet, but The Artist's Way is much more than just that. Cameron simply uses this as a platform to talk about her techniques, which actually work quite well - especially for writers. In fact, she even tells you that you can disregard this idea that creativity comes from God and use her techniques separately. But in the video linked here and below Gilbert says that maybe we should think about creativity coming from an unknown source (read: God) because it's too much pressure to handle when we do something great. Yes, many great artists have taken their own lives - either via the bullet or the bottle, or some other such method - and they've done this exactly because of this reason; that they can't handle the creativity. She might be right about that, which is again comes from an idea that's nothing new - that we can't be the creators of our creations. But I'm skeptical.
Everything that I've created has comes from somewhere, and to be honest, the more I think about it, I know it comes from me. To take it a step further, I think that anyone who claims creativity comes from somewhere else is a coward. I'm a little wary of going all the way to accuse everyone who believes this of being cowards because some people don't care where it comes from. They simply produce and that's it and accept that they aren't the original creator is simply a possibility because, again, they don't care. But for those who aspire to dive deeper then it is cowardly to blame and give credit to someone(thing) else. Why can't it be me? Why can't I be the one creating? Why is it that the idea must come from some place else? If I fail then I take the blame. If I succeed then I get the credit, even if I don't know how to handle it. In the end, it's mine and I must face whatever consequences that are suddenly thrust in front of me. If I create something that strikes a chord then it isn't a fluke - it's just that I created it and someone liked it enough and off it went. And if I can't handle the success then that's on me, too. If I choose to blow my brains out then that's on me. And if I decide to cut an ear off, or shoot too much cocaine, or jump off a cliff, or stand and be happy in front of my paintings at a museum and tell my grand kids about it when I'm in my 90s - that's all on me, too. I decide, and if I decide then I create. And if I create, then I live with it. It's mine, and I'm happy to live with that.
Here is Gilbert's video, which appears on NPR and is a part of the Ted Talks series: Your Elusive Creative Genius
Greg Mason Burns is an American-born painter living in the south of Brasil. These are his thoughts on life as an artist.