What can the Olympics teach artists?

Olympians and Artists have more in common than you might think.

I’m not a sports fan but with the Olympics fever gripping the UK. I’m forced to notice sport.

Buoyed along by the fervour and sense of National pride, I’ve even watched parts. The opening ceremony and parts of events.

©2010 Cathy Read - The heart of a nation- Dimensions 28x38 cm - mixed media on paper

The enthusiasm is infectious.

But more than that you are witnessing people at the pinnacle of their careers.

But you don’t just wake up one morning as a Gold medalist!

You might wake up with the vision or dream but it’s only the first step of many. Long hours and punishing training regimes are necessary to become an elite athlete.

Working to achievable goals.

Steps along the path that bring them closer to their ultimate goal. There will be many, many failures along the way. But each goal achieved is a step in the right direction.

And the same is true of an artist.

You may wake up with a dream of what you want to be. But it takes time and training to get there. you need to make steady steps in the right direction. Learning techniques, developing your style. Gaining experience exhibiting and talking about your work. Developing practices. Researching the right opportunities for you. And the list goes on…

Above all you need to develop a positive mental attitude.

To visualise success and focus on your ultimate goal! Fighting past the failures. And there will be many otherwise you’re not taking any risks and risks are necessary for any artist to grow.

So are you inspired by the Olympics?

What will be your “GOLD”?

Can Olympic flames inspire dreams in the disinterested?

Dreams are important…  Vital even.

Nothing was ever achieve that wasn’t someone’s dream!

It’s a sobering thought.

The screen you’re reading this on, the building you’re in, even the chair you’re sitting on.

All were once an idea in somebody’s head.

Today I watched the Olympic flame pass through Buckingham.

Olympic flame passing through Buckingham
Olympic flame passing through Buckingham

The Olympic games don’t interest me much but the flame is a potent symbol of hope and optimism.

Like a Dream, it’s ephemeral and intangible.

It’s fragile…

Easily extinguished

Yet Powerful!

With the potential to travel rapidly and ignite a fire in others.

(If you’ll excuse the old metaphor)

And any athlete will tell you you need to focus to achieve a dream.

To evaluate what you’re doing and need to do to achieve the dream.

Which is what I’m doing. With a spate of exhibitions over, I’m reviewing the situation.

No, the dream hasn’t changed, but I’m aware I need to focus my energies on specific goals

It’s one thing to have a dream, we all have dreams.

But aim to live that dream as well.

So how about you, does the Olympic flame ignite you goals?

Teamwork Lessons in a Music video?

Life’s hectic and sometimes we just need inspiring.

5 people play 1 guitar

Did I mention I’m organising a group Art exhibition in Oxford?

Well, there have been problems.

Nothing major but sometimes a volume of little issues can be overwhelming. And, as a friend, once advised me…

Getting artists to work together can be like herding cats!

They are a lovely bunch of people and it’s an honour to be working with them.

However, the creative personality lends itself to ideas and flights of fancy. And while that’s good…

It needs to be tempered with a healthy dose of practical application and discipline.

Otherwise the dreams will remain just that…

Dreams!

It’s also inevitable that with 11 people working together there will be differences of opinion.

Levels of self belief are another variable.

I could write a whole post on this, but in summary. You must believe what you produce is good. Otherwise, how can you expect to convince anyone else?

Personally, my self belief waxes and wanes.

When everything’s going well I can conquer the earth!

But on a bad day…

Well, everyone’s like that aren’t they?

So when the problems seem overwhelming, I like to look elsewhere for inspiration.

This week a friend introduced me to this video. It’s become an internet phenomenon. And reminds me that some things are really worth the effort.

Firstly I love the song, both original by Gotye and this cover by Walk off the Earth.

But, it’s the ingenuity of this video that really inspiring.

Working with other people on a project is awesome, especially with results like this!

How long did it take them to arrange and rehearse? I don’t know. There must have been some power play for who played/sang which part. After all, they have one instrument and 5 people!

They make it work by turning the restriction into a strength!

I find that very encouraging!

So, what’s inspired you to persevere this week?

Meanwhile, I’m off to harness some co-operative effort and discipline for Oxford…

How guitarist loses fingers but still becomes a legend! Artists don’t quit!

©2011 - Cathy Read - Spread of Influence - 15x21cm- Mixed media
©2011 - Cathy Read - Spread of Influence - 15x21cm- Mixed media

Do you ever struggle keeping on task?

Or want to quit?

This week everything seems to be keeping me away from my art. This is when I look for inspiration in the amazing stories of people who overcome adversity.

People who keep on doing what they love in spite of obstacles.

I’m a music lover…

And, the story of Tony Iommi is inspiring!

Tony Iommi

Tony’s band are Black Sabbath. And his career as the lead guitarist was taking off. So he quit his job in a factory to concentrate on playing full time.

On his very last day at work he had an accident. Losing the tips of 2 of his fingers.
Now unable to reach the strings to play chords, he could easily have stopped playing.

But he didn’t quit!

Restringing his guitar with lighter stings and making finger extensions so he could reach  the strings…

Tony carried on playing!

He’s is now considered one of the finest guitarists in the world!

Listen to him play  and you’ll see why!

It’s easy to give up when things get in the way.

To make excuses and we feel better… for a little while. But it’s important to remind ourselves that. If we really want to do something nothing should stop us.

Overcoming hurdles is the only way!

And the hurdles are usually in our minds. We have but one short life. Making our dreams reality is the only way to live it!

What about you, are you working towards your dream or still asleep?

Maybe you’ll inspire someone in the future too!

Now, I’m off to paint!

When Artists inspire other Artists!

Looking at other people’s art provides inspiration.

London Art Fair 2012 - Digital image by Cathy Read
London Art Fair 2012 - Digital image by Cathy Read

But to be innovative you have to look at New Art. Which is why I went to the London Art Fair this Sunday!

The building alone was worth the trip!

Stunning isn’t it?

And I’m going to be brutally honest here. I look at most art and either think I can do better. Or am uninspired by the work. Very few pieces have the Wow factor. Personally I need the Wow factor!

Appreciating the work is one things but if it doesn’t move me, I walk on!

©2011-Anna Gillespie Sculpture - digital Image by Cathy Read
©2011-Anna Gillespie Sculpture - digital Image by Cathy Read

Like all creative work, most is average. Well made on the whole but nothing out of the ordinary.

And then there are those that…

Wow!

So I visit these events with a level of trepidation. What if it’s all plain crazy or boring?

So when I saw this one by Anna Gillespie

I was reassured!

Although Solace (Below) is my favourite of hers!

It’s a poignant piece and a wonderful metaphor!

Solace by Anna Gillespie
Solace by Anna Gillespie

Then there were these stunning textural pieces which caught my eye!

©2012-Unknown - digital Image by Cathy Read
©2012- - digital Image by Cathy Read - if you can identify the artist or work please contact me

Now, do I prefer the monochromatic one…

or the Colour?

©2011-Unknown detail- digital Image by Cathy Read
©2011-Unknown detail- digital Image by Cathy Read

HELP!

What do you think? Amazing aren’t they! (I’m trying to identify the artist and will credit once I know!) Must take notes next time…

(I could eat the colour one! It reminds me of those garish puffed rice sweets. Can you still get them?)

BTW! I now have a claim to Fame!

I’ve actually LOOKED AT a Damian Hirst!

Yes, you heard me!

Practically a millionaire now.

I didn’t take any pictures. Firstly, I didn’t feel motivated. And secondly, I don’t think I can pay the royalties…

yet!

I’ll be sharing some more Art Fair images with you soon, watch this space!

So whose art inspires you?

Lost the Creative Muse? Here’s How I Find Mine…

Inspiration can be elusive.

©2010-Cathy-Read-Church-Window-Digital-Image
©2010-Cathy-Read-Church-Window-Digital-Image

It’s not easy to identify where the creative muse originates. But without that inner spark there would be no art.

I’ve said this before…

Often the creative muse comes once you start working on a piece.

When you’re in the middle of experimenting. The action triggers a concept.

My piece Faith built on Sand followed such a process.

Beginning with  torn tissue paper layered onto white paper and sprayed with water.

I’d used the technique in an art class. And experimented using this photo of a derelict church window as a base.

On removing the tissue paper I noticed the pigment marks reminded me of sand…

OK, Sinister, Black Sand.

Also the image was skewed, like it was collapsing.

Mentally connecting church, faith and the parable of the man who built his house on sand…

Suddenly an idea was born!

What if the church window represents faith and spirituality; the sand…well I’ve just explained that. And the broken window suggests something escaping…

The more I look the more I draw parallels.

©2010 Cathy Read - Faith built on sand- 59.5x42cm- Mixed media on paper
©2010 Cathy Read - Faith built on sand- 59.5x42cm- Mixed media on paper

Using oil pastels and developing the image with the ideas. To create a finished, solid, realistic structure for the right hand side.

And emphasising firm foundations offering support.

But leaving the left hand side as incomplete, disconnected and surreal.

Illustrating beliefs with no foundation or structural base.

And this was the result!

So next time you’re not sure where to begin.

Just start!

You never know what it might lead to…

Have you any pieces that evolved in the making?

When you’re tired, look to your bed for inspiration!

Feeling tired and uninspired?

Me too!

I don’t feel like creating. Uninspiration surrounds me. I’m longing to return to my bed… to surrender to sleep…

But an idea strikes me!

Can bedsheets provide the key?

I wonder if anyone has actually created art out of sheets?

Sheet music lead me on a wild goose chase..!

But, then I find…

Honestly?

That there isn’t much in cyberspace. (sigh!)

Trolling the internet I find this…

Pretty, but on closer inspection I see they are towels. And it’s not ART that WOWS me.

A twist on napkin folding.

Other than using sheets as canvas, sheets aren’t used much as a medium.

Why so little, when drawing an unmade bed is a staple topic in Art schools? The folds of white fabric sheets challenge the artist to observe subtle gradation and tonal variation.

The most significant sheet art I can find? Is…

Tracy Emin’s famous bypassing of the drawing stage by presenting her bed as a finished work.

I’ll leave you to conjecture on it’s merits…

So, help me out here?

Do you have any examples of impressive art inspired by sheets?

Or, maybe you’d like to create some!