The Best Habit For Artists

Being an Artist, Creative Process, Photography, The Artist Life, The Fierce Life

Hi fierelings,

I’m sure like me you’ve read all the advice about having a blog. Publish something at least once a week. Sounds easy, right? The blogs that you follow? You check their published dates and you notice they publish multiple times a week. So, you get ready, you create a time to write on your blog and then what happens? You’re not quite sure what to say. You had so many ideas brimming in your mind but now that you’re here, you’re unsure what to write.

Enter, the morning pages.

The author of The Artist’s Way is Julia Cameron and she’s very well known as an expert on the creative process and the spiritual connection to creativity. I first learned about her while reading The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer. I finally got a copy of Cameron’s book. I was already familiar with the concepts and ideas of Cameron’s book but reading it for myself was invaluable. Besides detailing the connection between creativity and spirituality the thesis of the book is to recover or unleash the inner artist. The main tools to do this is what she calls the morning pages and the artist date. I will be elaborating on the morning pages here.

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This beautiful, yet inaccurate, map of the world drawn in 1832. One of many journals that I use for creative goals and ideas.

Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing. No filtering. No editing. When you wake up one of the first things you do is grab three pages of paper, or a journal, and you write whatever comes to mind. This is mental throw-up. This is getting the previous day out of the way. This is getting your inner voice that says “You can’t do this” to shut up. This is you putting your doubts and fears on paper so that you can confront them and so that you can get them out of your brain. Don’t worry about proper spelling or grammar. Don’t worry about wording things poetically. You should not go back and read this. You should not show this to anyone.

When you perform the practice of morning pages you are cultivating inspiration.

Writing begets writing. The more you write, the more you want to write. Part of this is that initially you have to discipline yourself. An undisciplined artist is no artist at all. I think when you perform the practice of morning pages you are cultivating inspiration. You will find if you start this practice that it is hard to write your thoughts down unfiltered. You will find your mind wandering down mental roads you didn’t really want to think about which in a way is exactly what the morning pages are supposed to do. You get the ideas that you don’t want to dwell on out so that you can dwell on the good. Besides creating her art regularly this is one of the best habits any artist or creative can develop because it keeps the artist’s mind sharp, clear, and focused on what she really wants.

You get the ideas that you don’t want to dwell on out so that you can dwell on the good.

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This is the journal I am currently using for morning pages

How can the morning pages help with the writing/blogging you really want to do? I opened this blog detailing a problem all writers and bloggers face: uncertainty when it comes to what topics to write about or even “writers block”. The morning pages can help or solve these problems because when you get the mental clutter out of your brain you are left with the mental space to think, dream, work, and create the things you really want to focus on.

When you get the mental clutter out of your brain you are left with the mental space to think, dream, work, and create the things you really want to focus on.

I have noticed an increase of creative energy by practicing the morning pages. I have also found an increase of patience in my everyday life. The morning pages are an invaluable tool for the artist. Initially, I was very disciplined with the morning pages but now my goal is to do two pages, instead of 3. Even 1 if I have a rushed morning helps. If I go more than a few days without doing a page I find my creative endeavors sluggish. For a fierce gal like me with many creative goals that is not acceptable, so I turn to morning pages. If you are desiring to get your creative side running at top notch, or just want some more mental clarity, the morning pages are a fierce gift.

Stay fierce,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

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Writing Tools

Being an Artist, Creative Process, Photography, The Artist Life, Writing

Hi Fiercelings,

I’ve found myself thinking about writing and going back to the basics. Remember highschool? In Oklahoma, it is required that highschool students complete a class on Oklahoma History. So in 9th grade I marched off to a co-op for an Oklahoma History class. The main thing I remember about this classroom was that on the first day the teacher (Let’s call her June) declared how horrible the textbook was but we will use it anyway (digression: great example of why I can’t stand organized institutions – they tolerate mediocrity!). So every week June would heap on in class complaining about what was wrong with the last chapter every week. Seriously! June was quite eccentric. The funny thing was that this was a co-op. To my knowledge, June picked the book. So why she didn’t just find a book she did like is beyond me. Interestingly though, I learned a great nugget of truth about writing in this class. Perhaps because of the peculiarity of my teacher I remembered a few things.

purple plants 58 angle

In this class we had a myriad of writing assignments due every week so I remember quite vividly June writing on the chalk board many times throughout the semester these 3 points when it comes to writing:

  1. Tell them what you are going to tell them.
  2. Tell them.
  3. Tell them what you told them.

Plain and simple this is writing summed up! Of course, June did not come up with this by herself but that was where I first learned it. If you look it up it is most often attributed to Aristotle but I also saw Thomas Jefferson, Steve Jobs, and Dale Carnegie spins on it. These phrases are used to help spell out how to write and speak publicly. I don’t think this is conclusively what happens in writing nor is it intended to be but it is a framework of where to start. Let’s discuss the points one by one.

The first one: tell them what you are going to tell them. This is your introduction. This is your opening remarks. Hopefully, you will get a thesis statement in there. Ultimately, the goal here is to entice the reader to keep reading by revealing what they’re going to be reading about in a brief way. The second point: Tell them. This is where you expand about what you’re sharing. The details are shared here. This is where you look at whatever you’re writing about from every angle, you answer objections. The third point: Tell them what you told them. Now that you have completed the first two, the last point is a summary of what’s been shared. This is where you wrap up or conclude. Your point or information has been conveyed, therefore nothing else needs to be revealed. You sum up and tell the reader goodbye. If fitting, you challenge the reader in a way relevant to what you have shared.

coffee and notepad

It’s good every so often to remind yourself the fundamentals of writing. To my own surprise and delight I have found this nugget that I learned in school to be a simple way to organize things I want to write about. It’s possible that this is just because I had an eccentric teacher teach it to me but either way this is a useful tool to have in your writing skills. Even if your writing or speaking doesn’t follow this example exactly, it can help you mentally orchestrate where you are on a topic. Our minds can sometimes over complicate something we are trying to explain when in reality it is not that complicated. Use it or don’t!

fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

 

Childbirth & Creativity

Art, Childbirth, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Matrimony, Parenthood, & Family, Philosophy of Life, Photography

Hi Fiercelings,

Childbirth is a rite of passage for women, I believe. One of the most obvious and striking differences between men and women is the woman’s ability to conceive and bear new life. This is not to condemn or pass judgement on women who are or have been unable to conceive. Barrenness has historically been regarded as something extremely tragic and I mourn with those who have experienced it while being extremely grateful for my effortless conceptions.

Rain Photos 112

The rest of this blog post is going to be about the correlations between pregnancy, childbirth, and how they are informative of the creative process.

Anything worth doing in life is hard. I just wrote life in the previous sentence without any hard work but to even get to a life a lot of work has to have occurred. Being pregnant is hard and I say that fully recognizing that I have had two easy and non-eventful pregnancies. In spite of having easy pregnancies I would never say I loved being pregnant. I love the finished product of my pregnancies but being pregnant isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Delivering a child is hard and yet, ironically, I look back on my births as joyous events. Why? Because that pain brought two of my greatest creations. This is what the creative process is like. When I see a painting I have made on my walls, I don’t think about all the negative feelings I had when I was actually creating that painting. I see the painting and appreciate it but I know back when I made the painting I thought I had ruined it at least a dozen times. But of course, I look at my paintings and think how pretty they are and how I should paint more.

Creativity is like giving birth. It’s labor. It’s hard. It takes time. Inspiration is essentially having an orgasm. It’s fun. But for it to fully develop into a new life, it must be carried for months, and then it must be delivered. Or perhaps inspiration is one of those first real kicks that you feel when you’re pregnant. It’s a jolt. You feel it and think wow this is really happening. The sonograms you saw before were cool because you saw the baby but now you’ve felt the baby. That’s what inspiration does it lets you feel it and feelings are exciting. Feelings are a motivating force. When you have an idea for a painting or a song you think oh this is a good idea and you might pursue it. But for that idea to bloom into that painting or song you have to actually sit down and work on the painting or write that song. And sitting down and doing the work can be hard. We procrastinate about it. We say, never mind that wasn’t a good idea. You say you want a baby, but then you wind up in a hospital or are at home in the middle of a painful contraction and you think why am I here? How did I get here? I’m never doing this again. I literally thought these thoughts at least a dozen times during my first labor. Pain is one of those things that it’s hard to really describe unless you are currently experiencing it. Being in labor in many ways is not as hard as our society thinks it is. Movies and television shows portray it either in a comedic way or in a horrific way and I wouldn’t describe labor in either of those terms, especially the latter. But we will put up with pain and labor for a good cause and having a baby is the best reason to put up with some pain. They’re magical. And a little pain for some magic is worth it. This is what happens when we create, we want some magic but in order to bring a work of art to life it must be born and birth is painful.

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My second bundle of magic

How many times do we think as artists this isn’t good enough? Or I should just give up? What we are really experiencing is that doing art despite all our natural or learned artistic abilities is challenging and laborious. We hit this bump on our creative road and think I’m a fraud, I’m not a real artist, when in reality this “bump on our creative road” is birth pains. This is really a contraction and contractions lead somewhere if you breathe with them. The common phrase, “no pain, no gain” comes to mind and is spot on. The only way to have a bundle of magic is to labor and the only way to have a work of art is to labor. Don’t give up. Breathe with it.

Rain Photos 126 with watermark

fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

 

 

 

Being Brave

Art, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Personal, Philosophy of Life, Photography

Hi Fiercelings,

No one likes to give bad news. Unless you have something good to say you’d rather just keep your mouth shut. I have avoided blogging or writing because I don’t really have anything new or interesting to say. It’s not writer’s block, it’s more like just not wanting to say anything unless it is good. I immersed myself in the idea of being an artist. I read books about it and was constantly thinking about it but I wasn’t having success. I wasn’t getting commissions or jobs so I have avoided writing anything. And then I realized that is fear.

Fear.

standing-driftwood-watermarked

 

I hate the thought of living out of fear. And so I was thinking about the concept of being brave and what it really means. Another way of describing bravery is to live fearlessly. In other words, making choices about your life not based out of fear.

Be brave.

Even when you’re not sure what the reward is.

Fiercely,

alexndria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Reading 26 Books In A Year

Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

deserted-beach-watermarked

 

I want to talk about the importance of reading, specifically reading regularly. How many books do you read a week? A month? A year? I read an article that my mom had laying around about someone who has for the past five years been reading a book a week. One book a week = 52 books a year. Wow! I was very impressed by this idea. I think I’ve had friends who have read a book a month which is still an accomplishment I think, but a book a week?! Very fierce. Realistically, I don’t think it’s very likely that I would be able to read a book a week. Between my daughter, maintaining our house and pursuing being an artistprenuer I don’t know if I could. I would have to only read during free time and then some. Everytime I try to do something my daughter interrupts me. I was actually reading earlier and my daughter grabbed my book.

But, I really would like to read more. 

I’ve always loved reading. I’ve quoted many people on this blog. I love literature. Over the years I’ve gone through periods where I read constantly, I’ve read fiction, non fiction, self help. I’m sure you’ll be unsurprised by the fact that Madeleine L’Engle is my latest new find who I really love.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.   The man who never reads only lives once.” ~ George RR Martin

There are many benefits to reading. If you’re reading something on a particular subject, you will gain knowledge (hopefully). But what about reading non fiction? Are there benefits? Absolutely! Check out this article telling you how reading can help prevent Alzheimer’s and stress among other health benefits.

driftwood-and-seashells-watermarked

 

I’m a little hesitant to attempt to read a book a week so my goal is to read a book every 2 weeks. I think it seems way more doable and 26 books a year would be better than where I’m at right now. I consider myself an avid reader but even a book a week is daunting to me. I implore you to consider reading a book a week or like me every two weeks. This will mean spending less time on social media and watching television but who would say that’s a bad thing? Set some goals for yourself, get those books out that you’ve been intending to read or order that book you’ve heard about but haven’t gotten yet. If finances are tight, make a trip to your local library. One of the great things about working a book list from the library is that you have a built in deadline when the book is due which is usually 2 or 3 weeks! Start reading!

Be fierce!

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

Cohorts With Creation

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, Parenthood, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

One of the most important things for the artist is to do the work. There is no way around this fact. You must do the creating. You must, according to L’Engle, serve the work.

love-rain-drops

“If the work comes to the artist and says, “Here I am, serve me,” then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve.”

Our society has a negative view of serving. I’ve always been told that you can tell a lot about a person not based on how they treat you, but by how they treat people in what you would consider lower positions. It matters not how polite and agreeable someone is toward you if they yell at the waiter. It matters not how delightful and friendly someone is to you if they are rude to the bartender or valet. Serving is an area in our life that is revealing. How we treat others when they are in a position that serves us reveals our character. Serving the art, reveals who we are as an artist. But here’s the crazy part about serving the art: It’s not about you.

“Listen to me. All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” – Jean Rhys

In some ways this idea is upsetting – how dare we not matter?! – But in another way, I think it is liberating. It relieves you of the burden that you have to create something that becomes a bestseller, that gets featured, or that stands the test of time. Art is not about success. That’s not what is important to art, what is important is that you fed the lake. You must do the work.

There is a negative connotation to work these days. I am reminded of a scene from That 70’s Show where Red tells Eric, and I paraphrase, “That’s why it’s called work, if it wasn’t work they would call it ‘Super happy crazy fun’ time.” But for many “work” is not “super happy crazy fun time”. L’Engle helps us redeem the idea of work by making the distinction between drudgery and work. The two words have becomes synonyms in our world but she points out that “our work should be our play.” There is drudgery work like vacuuming or cleaning out the fridge for examples, but our art work should never be viewed as an equivalent to that. L’Engle shares an example of how a child is at play or work?

“If we watch a child at play for a few minutes, “seriously” at play, we see that all his energies are concentrated on it. He is working very hard at it. And that is how the artist works, although the artist may be conscious of discipline while the child simply experiences it.”

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My daughter, Isabelle “Izze” Esther, a master of work and play

I particularly identified with this analogy because I have witnessed my daughter, now 19 months old, work and master simple things like going up and down stairs, playing at the park, turning the page of book. Is she playing or working? “The work of the child is play.”

We must do the work. You may be asking yourself how can we serve the work? I will answer in the next post.

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Walking On Water Review Part II: The Creative Process & Faith

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Photography, The Artist Life

Also known as Walking on Water Part II =D Read part I here .

Hello Fiercelings,

Because there is so much material in Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle I will probably be doing a myriad of posts based on the book. Once I have gotten all my thoughts about this book out I will create a page for you to find out about all of them. You can read the first post I wrote about the book here.The bulk of the good stuff in Walking On Water is in the last four or five chapters. The excerpt from the book that I will be focusing on today is from the chapter titled “The Journey Homeward”.

L’Engle talks about, in order for us to create, as artists, we have to let go of ourselves. She compares this to faith a lot and talks about how we delude ourselves into thinking that if we obtain control over ourselves we’ll gain more faith or as in the artist’s case we’ll be capable of “writing the great American novel” or whatever it is we desire to create. But, in Christianity, the solution to us gaining more faith is never us summoning more self control but letting go of ourselves, dying to self, surrendering to God. Self-control is actually an oxymoron when you think about it because we don’t have control over ourselves because of self. The question then becomes how can I release control of myself to have more faith or as an artist, create art? L’Engle explains by intertwining what happens when we pray and how the same thing happens when we create.

“In prayer, in the creative process, these two parts of ourselves, the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind, stop fighting each other and collaborate. Theophan the Recluse advised those who came to him for counsel to “pray with the mind in the heart,” and surely this is how the artist works. When mind and heart work together, they know each other as two people who love each other know; and as the love of two people is a gift, a totally unmerited, incomprehensible gift, so is the union of mind and heart. David cried out to God, “Unite my heart to fear thy Name.” It is my prayer, too.”

When we pray, our heart and mind are in agreement and the same thing happens when we create. Prayer is a way for us to communicate with the divine. On the next page L’Engle quotes in length Berdyaev, the Russian religious and political philosopher, but I am only going to pull a sentence from him. He says;

“The creative act is an escape from the power of time and ascent to the divine…”

purple-flower-perfect

 

This quote really revealed more to me of what praying is about versus what creating is about. I already view creating as a worshipful act because it is who God made me to be and so by creating I am in cohorts with God about who I am which then brings glory to God. Worship is that which brings glory to God. In prayer, “we ascent to the divine” by communicating with God. L’Engle responds to Berdyaev by saying;

“Most artists are aware that during the deepest moments of that creation they are out on the other side of themselves, and so are free from time, with the same joyousness that comes in the greatest moments of prayer.”

I believe this reveals some of the high that you can get from creating, because you go to “the other side” of yourself. You tap into your subconscious which can be liberating. Maybe that’s what creativity is all about, tapping into our subconscious, liberating ourselves, being free. I shall close with thoughts about this paragraph by Berdyaev,

“Creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin, the expression of man’s true vocation, but creativeness is distorted and debased by sin. Hence the ethics of creativeness deal with the agonizing struggle of the human spirit. Creativeness needs purification, needs the purifying fire.”

What this really says to me is that creativity is a form of sanctification. Creativity can bring us closer to the divine because we go to the Creator and say I am a little creator but I wish to create with you, big Creator. God invites the artist back into time, before sin, when were designed to create with God. I believe this is what Berdyaev meant by “creativeness is the struggle against the consequences of sin,…” not only is creativeness a struggle against the sin nature, it is also a solution. It is a form of sanctification, purifying our spirits and bringing us into communion with our Maker.

18-perfect

Fiercely,

alexandria

P.S. Share your thoughts about the ideas L’Engle expresses in the comments below. I would love to know if you agree or disagree.

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Walking On Water Review

Art, Being an Artist, Books, My Friends, Creative Process, Fierce Photography, God, Photography, The Artist Life

Hello Fiercelings,

I finally finished reading Walking On Water by Madeleine L’Engle. There is a lot of material in this little book. The tag line of the book is “Reflections on Faith and Art” it’s a fabulous little book about well, faith and art. To kind of give you a general idea about what the book’s thesis I am going to share the excerpt that is on the back of the book:

” And as I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are inseparable. To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.”

L’Engle was the writer of over some 60 books most notably, A Wrinkle In Time. I have not read that but I intend to. I only became interested in reading Walking On Water because it was referenced and quoted a myriad of times in The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer.

sea shells

 

Let’s dive in.

The first chapter. L’Engle said something beautiful,

 “Why is it that I, who have spent my life writing, struggling to be a better artist, and struggling also to be a better Christian, should feel rebellious when I am called a Christian artist? Why should I feel reluctant to think or write about Christian creativity?”

I thought these rhetorical questions showed strongly how to a large extent we Christians have taken the push from society to leave our faith and religion at home. God has been pushed out of our schools and higher institutions. A Christian scientist for example seems to be an impossibility. The arts used to be largely a religious affair. I think of Michelangelo and Da Vinci. They were THE artists of their time and their works are primarily religious in nature. However, as I say that L’Engle claims something in the next chapter that I found interesting. She says that,

 “…to serve music, or painting, or words is a religious activity, whether or not the conscious mind is willing to accept that fact. Basically there can be no categories such as “religious” art and “secular” art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore “religious.”

My first thought when she claimed that was that I take issue with it because there is a lot of “Christian” art out there that I do not like. But L’Engle explains this two pages over by saying,

“This confusion comes about because much so-called religious art is in fact bad art, and therefore bad religion.”

That made complete sense to me. Much of the so called “Christian” art that I dislike, I dislike it because I consider it to be very shallow and empty of real religious value. The art has no depth. It is bad religion. L’Engle is saying it is bad art because it is bad religion. Of course, in order to even engage is this type of categorization you have to go along with L’Engle by agreeing that all art is religious. Whether knowingly or unknowingly to the artist all art is a reflection of the Creator. This turns the whole idea of “beauty  is in the eye of the beholder” upside down because now, “good” art brings glory to God and has nothing to do with personal preferences or opinions.

wet seashell

 

I don’t think L’Engle was trying to answer the question “What is art?” but she did. Art is religious. Good art is good religion and vice versa. Agree or disagree? I’m leaning toward agreeing.

Overall: Fantastic book that really gets you thinking and pondering. Worth reading. Must read if you consider yourself to be an artist regardless of religious views.

This is one of four posts about Walking On Water. Click on the link for part 2, 3, and 4.

Fiercely,

alexandria

alexandriafierce

Fierce Beliefs. Fierce Ideas. Fierce Art. Fierce Life.

Photographer, Blogger, Artist, Entrepreneur

Email me at alexandriafiercephoto@gmail.com for photoshoot and wedding bookings

 

A Successful Life

Creative Process, Fierce, Fierce Photography, Philosophy of Life, Photography, The Artist Life

Fiercelings,

While reading a fellow photographer/blogger’s post about ‘success’ the other day my brain started reeling…what is success? Because I think we should redefine it. When most people think of success I think they think of being 1. rich 2. having a really nice house or car 3. having received a grand award or 4. working in a prestigious position. More often a mix of all 4 of those things = success. But are those what really define success? Another thing people think of is happiness. What makes you have a happy life? For some people it’s that relationship usually a romantic one. It’s that dream job. Or it’s traveling. I’ll be happy when I have gone on this trip. Maybe it’s having all three of those things going on at the same time. Happiness = going on trip with your significant other and returning to your dream job to brag about it? Haha! Speaking as a marred gal I can tell you that just having a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife will not make you ‘happy’. They can make you very happy. But they can’t guarantee your happiness for life. In fact, the only thing they can guarantee are a few headaches. ( I’ll have to write a positive post about marriage after this because that sounds so negative!)

Ripples

As a Christian, ultimately a “successful life” is finishing well. I long to get to the end of my life and say with Paul that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7-8 NIV) If I don’t make it to the end of my life having stood strong in the faith and having done something to further the Kingdom of God everything as been a waste. With that in mind one of the most important things is making God a priority in my life. Practicing the spiritual disciplines, listening to God. That is vertical, you could say, between me and God above. The next most important thing is my marriage and my child(ren). This is horizontal, you could say. Making sure most importantly is that my husband and child(ren) know the Gospel and are believers. Everything outside of that is secondary. Extended family and my circle of influence would  be next I would say. Work is next.

 

What does this mean for someone who is an artist? This means a lot. For one thing when we look at our work through this eternal lens ( hehe photography reference!) this changes the way we define success for the artist. Because all of the sudden having a full calendar of work, selling a lot of work, earning a lot of money, being mentioned or highlighted in magazines or publications, being featured at galleries, being recognized or awarded for our work is not what makes us successful. What makes the artist successful is doing the work. Yes, making a living off of our work is nice and for the serious artist I believe very vital because it’s extremely difficult to pursue the artist life when you’re spending 40 hours a week or more at your “job” to pay the bills. Which brings me to Madeline L’Engle and her quote from her book Walking On Water, “For most writers it takes many manuscripts before enough royalties are coming in to pay for a roof over the head and bread on the table. Other jobs must often be found to take care of bread and butter. A certain amount of stubbornness – pig headedness – is essential.” I found it interesting that L’Engle said “many manuscripts with royalties” are needed before you’re really making enough money to pay for a roof. You might be discouraged if you’ve been working as an artist for awhile but not generating enough income to support yourself. Don’t give up. Keep working. This is why I think it is so important not to gauge “success” off of your income as an artist. Success is serving the work not the paycheck.

Another way that this eternal lens changes the definition of success is recognition. Being applauded for our work is always enjoyable. We long to have affirmation that what we create is received with adoration. But if we never sell something or get praise for our work does not mean that we are not successful. Van Gogh only sold one painting his lifetime afterall.

wet seashell

The last reason I’m going to share why this changes the way we define success as an artist is by reminding you of the Rumi quote I shared awhile back in this post . You may remember Rumi said “Let the beauty we love be what we do.” Creating art whether it is photography, painting, music, writing if it is what you love then bringing whatever vision you have to fruition is success. Doing the work is success. This reminds me of The Creative Call and Elsheimer saying “Create as if your life depends on it because it does.” You can read all about The Creative Call here. Now why is simply doing the work success? L’Engle helps us discover why by explaining that when we create something we are going back to the garden and are becoming co-creators with God. As an artist, we cannot separate our talents without acknowledging that they are God-given. That is why doing the work is a success in and of itself because we are using our God-given talents. That was the thesis of The Creative Call. And L’Engle sums it up perfectly,

“That’s what it’s all about. The journey to the coming of the Kingdom. That’s…- the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the Kingdom, to make us aware of our status as children of God, and to turn our feet toward home.”

This is why the work is a success in and of itself because in light of this eternal lens on success our work is using our God given talents, which makes us co-creators with God, which glorifies our Lord and He sees that whether or not we gain earthly praise.

All glory to God. How fierce is that?

alexandria

A (Fierce) Child of God

Monotony

Being an Artist, Creative Process, Personal, Photography, The Artist Life

Florida life is beautiful. It’s December right now and yet it feels like summer. I am seriously considering going to the beach today simply because I could. This might seem silly to someone who’s lived near the beach or vacationed on a beach frequently but for me, having grown up and lived in a landlocked state my entire life, the ability to visit the beach on a random warm day is quite a feat. 

Izze and Beach 061

Currently, I am blessed and cursed with the luxury of endless time on my hands. Since I turned 16 I have always worked at least part time to more often full time or 40 hours+ a week. When I worked regularly I would fantasize about a time when I would have ‘time’ to pursue art to my hearts content and yet now here I am with endless time and I feel more unproductive than ever. There is a myth or lie that our culture teaches: busyness = productive. Of course, just because you are busy does not mean that you are being productive or successful. I heard someone say that Samsung is really busy, but Apple owns 90% of the smartphone market with iPhones. I’m not busy at the moment because I just moved to a new city, therefore I don’t really have any connections or obligations. I’m not working, although I will definitely say that watching my 16 month old is a full time job. With that said, I don’t remember ever aspiring to being a stay at home mom, yet I essentially am one. My life can be summed up in one word: Monotony.

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My desire is to create something, something great. Yet, I find myself immobilized and trapped by daily life with an infant/toddler. It’s hard to accomplish anything when the only time you really have to give something your full focus is the 2 hours when she’s napping. My head was spinning with an idea for a book but I barely accomplish the little blogging that I do so I don’t know how I would ever time for a book. Then, I have an idea for songs that I would love to compose on my guitar but it’s hard to play the guitar when you want your child to be sleeping. Plus, I feel a desperate need for a piano to help chord. I desire to paint but I would have to finish painting before the paint dries out…I love art, and I desire to do art and I don’t have anything draining on my time besides my one sweet child so why haven’t I created anything? I’m not sure if this post is more of a lament or more of a desperate command at myself to do the things that I want to do. Just do it.

Not feeling so fierce so I am telling myself my mantra, “be fierce”

(un) fiercely,

alexandria