Beautifully Purposeful


“Create we must, and respond to this dark hour.” Makoto Fujimura

The artistic process for many can be a compulsion, striving to express an idea, a thought, a feeling bubbling up from deep inside. The expression is often not consciously mulled over before erupting into reality. How much time is spent reflecting on the purpose of the churning creative urge before releasing the explosion? What if this flow of artistic need is consciously directed in such a way as to nourish the human heart?

Even in the midst of the direst of poverty, the soul seeks beauty. Anne Ciccoline of Creator, Created, Create and leader of Creative Communion, describes her trip to Nairobi where she was taken to Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa. Anne was captivated at the sight of a mud hut with an entrance adorned with strips of fabric and a tin can planter with a green vine growing up the side of the hut. Anne says, “…no matter how primitive or impoverished our shelter, we strive to make it beautiful.” Beauty lightens darkness as nothing else can.

The human heart longs for beauty.   Our darkest hours are brightened by the simplest of beautiful sights. When there is nothing else, there is still beauty. Artists have a gift. Are we seeking to use it in a way that demonstrates gratitude for the gift? What better expression of gratitude could there be than for artists to bring the longed for beauty to the hearts of others? Creating art to nourish the soul is a noble purpose, a goal worth pursuing. And that is a beautiful thing.

Mako Fujimura talks about his painting, “Golden Sea”

Weekend Inspiration–Nature Inspired Inventions

Fun and amazing inventions inspired by the humble gecko and other small creatures.  Nature is so amazing and always a great source of inspiration and information.  Its fascinating to me to see how inventors come up with their ideas.

Pathway to Purpose



“Find purpose, means will follow.”  Mahatma Gandhi (from The Painter’s Keys)

Do artists need to have a purpose?  Many artists will say they just want to make art.  Purpose doesn’t matter as long as they can make art.  But is that really true?  If an artist is jumping from one subject to another, one style to another, does the end product of creation mean anything to anyone?  The final creation appears similar to the bouncing pattern of the pathway of a jackrabbit.  The rabbit may know where he’s going, but nobody else does.   What good is jackrabbit art to anyone?

Those who see art as having a higher purpose than just making pretty pictures have spent a bit of effort determining what the higher purpose is. Artist Ann Rea says on her website, “Our purpose as artists is to shift the perception, the feelings of the viewer, of the listener, the reader.”  To shift perception requires a focus.  A focus requires a purpose.  It is up to each artist to find that purpose.

In an article for the Artist’s Network, artist Lee Hammond is writing about the “Creation of Art with a Purpose.”  Hammond states, “Having a calling as an artist is a true gift.”  Being an artist is a gift.  Each artist determines what to do with the gift.  A search of the heart will eventually turn up where the gift becomes a calling.  Along with the calling comes the purpose.  Once the purpose is found, the means reveals itself.

Artists can follow in the path of the bouncing jackrabbit or they can seek out the path to a higher purpose.  The idea of a higher purpose is a pretty awesome goal.  Artists who have followed that path are creating wonderful art.  Besides, all that zigzagging around in the wake of the rabbit just brings on a headache.  And who wants that?

Chancing the Serendipitous

Screen shot 2014-02-10 at 10.10.45 PM

“Serendipity is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Author Unknown (from The Painter’s Keys)

Everyone wants to lay claim to serendipity.  Search for artists and serendipity and the return is pages and pages of artists using the term “serendipity” in association with their work.  A number of art galleries also go by the name “Serendipity.”  Is serendipity actually present in the work of all the many artists using the name?  Is all art serendipitous?  Is the Hand of some entity other than human, guiding the direction of art?  It likely depends on whether or not a person is open to the possibility.

One website claims to be “mapping serendipity.” The Merrriam- Webster Dictionary defines serendipity as, “luck that takes the form of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.  If you are searching a website and one thing leads to another, is that really serendipity?  The website would have to be so disorganized that finding anything would be purely by luck to make it truly serendipitous.   It does sound like it has made things easier to find.  But serendipity?

Many sources credit the coining of the term “serendipity” to Horace Walpole in 1742.  Walpole described serendipity as a “fortuitous happenstance” or a “pleasant surprise.”  Happenstances and surprises cannot be planned for.  They cannot be mapped.  Surprises are not found by feeding quarters into a slot machine until eventually the jackpot hits.  Serendipity does not occur because a person wants it to.

Serendipity happens when least expected. The scientific world is littered with the stories of how many great discoveries happened “accidently.” The only way to plan for serendipity is to be open to chance.  Max Ernst said, “All good ideas arrive by chance.”  Though it sounds like the thing to do is sit out in the garden until serendipity arrives, that is not the case at all.  Serendipity arrives during the busy-ness of life.  Serendipity happens while art is being created, not before.  It pops in unexpectedly.  The only way serendipity can be facilitated is to remain open to chance.  When chance flits in, grab it!!  That is the essence of true Serendipity!    It won’t have to be proclaimed.  It will be obvious.

Outside Inside

Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 10.08.40 PM

“It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling (from Skinnyartist)

What happens when the Insiders become stale and must seek new inspiration?  The only option is to look outside.  It has always been so and now more than ever.  Insiders jump from fad to fad, novelty to novelty, always searching for the next greatest thing in art.  There is no backbone or grounding to those who are constantly seeking the new and different.  There are no depths to plunder.  Lacking that core of inner strength for guidance, the inside must find other sources.  As the traditional centers of art no longer hold the power and the purse strings they once did, art is thriving on the outside.

In an article for The Atlantic, Sarah Boxer has written about the wave of artists who do not come from the Insider Art Schools or the Insider Art World.  Boxer states, “Art fairs, biographies, retrospectives and collections are springing up in the name of outsider art.”  Boxer goes on to talk about the difficulty this presents for the insiders and states “There is something about outsider art that still eludes the insiders.”  Insiders apparently just don’t get outsiders.

Outsiders, by the very fact that they are outsiders, choose to seek their own counsel.  Not being privy to what is going on “inside” gives outsiders the freedom to work without the constraints of trying to fit in with the current fashion.  Most outsiders likely don’t care what is or isn’t “in” at the moment.  Outsiders follow what is in their own heart, their own vision.  Outsiders are not concerned with the hearts and visions of the insiders or anybody else.  Outsiders are true to themselves.  While insiders don’t understand, they do their level best to bring the outsiders inside for the next latest fad.  For the outsiders, the dilemma is to remain outside while going inside.

Weekend Inspiration–

Screen shot 2014-01-11 at 9.03.40 AM has a fabulous article for inspiration titled: 20 Art Inspiration Ideas for Creativity.  All 20 are great ideas.   One favorite for me is number 19, Making Art for Art’s Sake.  The premise behind number 19 is to simply create outside your usual comfort zone.  19 suggests trying something new or different, not focusing on theme or idea or anything in particular.  Just create.  Play a little bit.  Have some fun and see what happens.  Playing around with a cubist style does that for me.  I have no preconceived notion of where I want it go.  I just play with the color and the shapes and see what develops.  Try some of Artpromotivates’ ideas and follow where they lead.  At the very least, have some fun.  I’d love to hear about others experiences.  While you are on Artpromotivates’ site, check out some of the other motivational tips featured in other articles.

Taking Inventory

Screen shot 2014-01-08 at 10.59.36 PM

“We are the facilitators of our own creative evolution.” Bill Hicks (from Brainyquote)

Suppose you are stranded somewhere without any art supplies. What do you do? You could dissolve into a quivering lump of uselessness or you could look around and see what’s available. Sit down, think about it and have another cup of coffee. Suddenly the coffee stain on the napkin becomes a shape to be manipulated. Or you spot a lone ink pen on the table and decide to make a few marks. Better yet, you find your flashlight and start illuminating surrounding objects to see what shadows appear.

Artists frequently find ways to make amazing art from the most mundane of materials. Art News has an article on art made with the simple ballpoint pen. This simple instrument becomes an implement for creating amazing art. One artist has made the process of mark -making with a ballpoint pen into a performance as people gather to watch the process. Another artist will go through over 100 pens in one piece alone. The article has a lengthy and fascinating history of the invention and evolution of the ballpoint pen.

Hi Fructose has a wonderful article on the shadow art created by Kumi Yamishita. Simple sheets of paper become human faces on the wall. People appear through the shadows cast by a collection of wooden blocks. This is Colossal features art made from everyday objects by Javier Perez. Perez creates whimsical drawings out of ordinary objects such as old floppy disks. Yamishita and Perez are proof positive that traditional art supplies aren’t the only avenue to great art.

For the certified art supply junkie like me, acute withdrawal would likely ensue without a regular fix. Panic would set in. Disaster would strike. Or the alternative of a simple look around to see what’s on hand for something entirely out of character may be in order. Endless possibilities are everywhere when an inventory of routine surroundings searches for the unusual implement of art-making. Whole new worlds may open up.

Check out what this guy does with a toothbrush:

Weekend Inspiration–Gratitude

Do we, as artists, reveal to the world what there is around us to be grateful for?  We see, hear, and feel the beauty that may be missed by others, especially those caught up in the rat race of the busyness of life. For myself, I forget to approach each canvas as an opportunity to express gratitude for the beauty I see.  When searching for inspiration, perhaps the best beginning is to start with an expression of gratitude for the good fortune of artistic creativity.