Exploration and Excuses

One thing that I have heard over and over again since I made the decision to commit to creativity and pursuing my artwork is “I wish I was as creative as you.”

I am sure that if I look back over my blog entries I will find that this is a subject that I have written about before.  The thing that is amazing me today is the excuses.  My favorite so far was “I can’t be creative because I can’t afford to go to school for it.”  This was from a women who was complaining about the fact that she could not afford to go back to college, as her life coach was recommending.    It is my favorite in that it was the most absurd.

Seriously, my art classes cost much less than the life coach.  We also offer make and take workshops at no cost at Creative Corner Westfield. So does the local library, and I am not even going to start on what is available on the Internet.

Instead of focusing on what you can’t do, why not focus on what you can do.  Sitting at my desk, I can think of any number of things that I can make or do with the things that are right here. Of course if we are choosing to make excuses,  it is because I am creative. (remember, you have to go to college to learn how to think like that).   I am participating in a creative challenge that is focusing on recycling as its theme for the month, so I have been looking for ways to recycle and create.  Zentangle1

This is a recycled image from last month’s challenge.  It was made from pens and paper on my desk at work. It is drawn on the back of a printing error.

For those who are thinking I can’t draw a straight line, much less a circle, I have two words, Ruler and Compass.  Write them out on a piece of paper. Look, you have made straight lines and circles. ( The L and the o) If they are still not to your satisfaction, go ahead and use a ruler and a compass to help you. ( I traced around the bottom of a vase sitting on my desk).

We all have a choice each day, we can be positive or negative.  Excuses are negative, Exploration is positive.  Try and choose the positive.


A somewhat less than creative day, or was it?

I have talked about rhythm and creative ebb and flow being similar to the tide.  It was one of those extremely low tides yesterday.  I did create, lots of signs, fliers and forms for the auction this weekend, but when it came to creating for creating sake, nothing seemed to be what I was attempting to do.  I loved the fractal I created with the star burst.  I was trying to create another, but I could not seem to achieve one I like as much.

I tend to put a lot of creative effort into everything. So something as simple a form for a silent auction will  throw me as I want it to look good.  I found myself being critical of everything I made. I finally realized that I was possible being overly critical of what I was creating, because I had switched into editor mode on all the forms and sign and fliers.

Going back and looking at our work with an eye for how to improve it is important. There is however a fine line between that and just being critical.

I have been to any number of art shows where I wished someone had been more critical of their own work. I remember one in particular that had shadows pointing in two different directions on cactus in a desert and a green thumb print in the sky.  I looked at it, wondering if the thumbprint was intentional or not.  The painting was titled.  “Sky with Thumbprint”  I gave up and asked the artist, who cheerfully replied. “I messed it up and decided to fix it with a  title.”

I find myself looking for thumbprints on my work.  I am a firm believer in accidents of art,  Things that came out differently than anticipated, that were then recognized as good.  I have spent a great deal of time figuring out what went wrong right, so that I can do it again.  But, if it is an accident that I would not want to ever recreate, well then, that is not something I want to call art.  I choose to walk away yesterday, just leave it all and come back later to see if there really were thumbprints in all my work, or just a reflection in the glass.

Thougts on Creativity

I started this month with the idea that I would do both the Nanowrimo and the AEDM.   I did the same last year, but the posting fell away on the AEDM, and more days than not I felt my creative effort was in writing the words, because the visual art items I made were stiff and not terrible creative.   I was looking back at some of those. I had not realized how much I had grown as an artist in the last year.   I tend to measure my growth against the body of work I created as a college student in an art program.   At that time I was pretty much creating art for 8 to 10 hours everyday, most of it pencil and charcoal sketches, so it is not surprising that I was at the top of my game.

Looking back at last years work made me want to go back and make the sometimes painful comparison to the college work.   In sorting through the art stuff in the basement to stock my studio  over by the gallery,  I had unearthed some of my other college art. Some of the paintings, some of the weaving, and a very sad little sculpture.

This time when I went to make the comparison,  I saw all of those before I pulled out the portfolio.  All of those piece were the best piece of their respective classes, and my current works in those area surpass all of them except for the sculpture and that is because I do not have any current works as a sculptor.   I decided to skip the portfolio and pick up one of my sketch books from that period.   I was pleased to note that  my current sketches were on par with those.    All these years I had been comparing my rusty sketching  attempts against the 20 best finished drawings that I had chosen out of the several hundred completed drawings I had made during that time period.  I have read a lot about self sabotage and letting the inner critic shut you down. This felt like a two by four to the back of my head.  I came upstairs and sat down to write.  Not this posting, but rather on my nanowrimo project.  Why? Because back in those college days, I had wanted to be an artist and a writer, but I did not have any written works other than papers and journals from that time period. There are not any because I was afraid to try then.  I may not hit the mark this year by the end of November, but at least I will know that I was writing, and that is a win in my book.

So,  completely unedited,   a couple of paragraphs from the NaNoWriMo project.

A bright yellow candy wrapper caught Russell’s eye. Its bright plastic coating seemed to shed the thin film of wet dirt that covered the rest of the floor of the bus. He looked up at the sea of black, grey and tan in which he found himself seated. Black suits, black raincoats, black briefcases, black shoes. His own all black and grey attire that he had so carefully chosen as a statement this morning seemed to just blend in. So the business men were wearing dress shoes not high tops, but his long black duster was not that different than their trench coats. His gaze driffted back to the bright candy wrapper. Its bright cheerful colors seemed to mock him. Starbursts, a pack of contradictions. Their latest add featured the candy as players in a rock band. It was so close to what his own dreams were that he closed his eyes to trap the water that threatened to spill from his eyes.
Everything seemed so hopeless, so grey, dingy and grimy like the floor of the bus. The bus jerked to a stop, he looked to see that it was the stop before the Hospital.  He rose letting  and started moving towards the exit. A man wearing the same black canvas duster as him, but over a cheap looking black suit dropped into the seat he had vacated and unfolded the paper he has shoved under his arm. It was the wanted ads, with circles around some of the ads.  The doors parted and allowed Russell to flee from this possible vision of his future to an equally grey city sidewalk with another sea of nameless people hurrying by in black and grey.  He had enough to deal with in the present, without letting the vision of soul sucking job search cloud his mind. “First things first” he told himself and started down the block to the Hospital  A beautiful flagstone path lined with bight mums in yellows, reds and even a few purple curved away from the dirty grey sidewalk towards the beautiful old building. On his first visit here the path had been flanked by the little green evergreens. They were still there and not much larger than when he first saw them. He wondered if they were just slow growing or carefully trimmed. He liked them, they were the baseline to this garden, a constant rhythm through out the changing melody of the seasonal plants.



Jumping the Gun

  This morning I realized that yesterday I jumped the gun. I had sat down yesterday evening with the intention of getting a jump start on today’s post. It was then that I realized that I had not finished the post from that day.  I finished it, added in the new pictures and posted it.  This morning it dawned on me that I had put today’s photos on yesterday’s post.

I was looking at Degas’ ballerinas.  So many people think they are of the romantic ideal of the ballet, beautiful and graceful. So pure and inoccent in thier lovely tutus.  This is sort of jumping the gun in another way,  the truth and historical context  is a little less pretty than that.  The girls in those paintings were my daughters age, and they were professional working girls.  

So often we look at Art without a context, because we bring our own meaning to the work. For me when I see dancers, I see the strong lines thier bodies form, the contrast between the hard work and appearance of effortless grace that is the goal.  I can see were others were pulling in the inocent and pure as compared to many modern dance costumes they are quite modest.  Due to my modern sensibilities, I can only imagine the shock of the bare arms and the tantalising view of the legs.    

There are some that is wrong to look at the painting in any other context than the historical one in which it was painted.  I believe that knowing the whole story adds depth to the painting, but does not make any other vision of the painting less valid. 

My daughter looked at this shot and said, it is picture of my ugly foot.  I said, no, it is a picture that highlights the transformation of  the plain foot to the graceful slippered foot.  My pictures draws on the historical perspective of dancers in art, that contrast between the appearance and the reality.  It makes me think, how many peices of art have I jumped the gun and gone only with my first impression without making any attemtp to understand what the artist was trying to convey.

Ceramic Tiles- Take 3

Tiles after protective spray

Today I decided to put a protective coat on the tiles. As I intended for them to be coasters, I decided to put it on fairly thick.  The paint I was using was a solvent based paint, the sealer was a solvent based sealer.  What I should have done was put in on in a lot of light coats. The bottom left tile got the thickest application and the top right the lightest.

There is a nice floaty blurred quality to the bottom left tile that does not pick well with my little camera. I may have to get the big one out and try to capture a few shots.  This slight blurring has made me rethink my background too. I think I shall try some leaving the white background.  I may also play around with a seasonal set. I was thinking of visions of sugarplums and  other holiday treats. Or maybe a set of swirling fall leaves.

Off to work on the word count now.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile Almost halfway through the month, I am full of new projects to try. This is my first attempt at making a coast from a ceramic tile.  I saw some at a arts fair recently, but they were a bit out of my price range. The Artist said that she used paint pens to create the images, but clearly a different type paint pen than I use.

The great thing about work on these. I can make a bunch trying to get the effect I want, and they do not cost much at all, so I feel free to try and if I do not like it, well  it is not a big deal.  Off to take my husband for a birthday dinner.

Exploring and Enjoying

One of the questions I get asked all the time by students is some variation of is this right?

What is the right answer when it comes to art?  Is it right for a tree to be purple?  Absolutely.  The sky and the ground too.

Henri Matisse. Moroccan Landscape (Acanthus). 1911-13. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden.

When it comes to art, right is what you feel is right.  Many Artists and art students compare themselves and their works to the best works of famous artists.  One of the most freeing experiences was visiting a smaller museum. It only had the lesser works of the major artists.  It made me feel so much better about my own art.

My own art varies radically in style, it always has. I remember being told to give it time, you will develop a style of your own. I have been giving it plenty of time. I think of my style as a style of exploration.   I have favorite mediums and styles that I return to, but my part of my real joy in creating comes from trying something new.  A different style or medium.

Rennata M. Tropeano, Princess and Rocker 27, Print 8x8 inches ©2009 Princess and Rocker027

If I were defining my art by what looks most realistic, the eye more toward the center of the page would be right.  The other eye, is the one that felt right to me.  So naturally it was the one I choose to use while I was exploring and enjoying.  Both images are different, and both are right and both are my style.  Take the time to explore and enjoy without worrying if it is right.

My Official Opinion as an Artist on Fiber arts and beyond.

Rennata Tropeano, Fingerless Mitts, Some Rights Reserved
Fingerless Mitts


Last night was my weekly knitting group,  We take turns knitting in a Yarn and Thread Studio, a Law Office and an Art Gallery.  Last night we were at the Art Gallery.   Several of the ladies who were knitting projects of exceptional beauty made the comment. “I wish I was creative.”

One of the women told us how she designed this incredible triangular shawl, that looked like a night sky at  twilight, yet her  explanation had many of the things people say that make creative people feel small inside.  It is only knitting,  I used a technique I learned here, It is not some special expensive hand painted yarn…  STOP! That shawl was a fine example of Fiber Arts at its best.

My little bumpy uneven fingerless mitts are in my Official Opinion as an Artist,   Creative.  I have no problem calling them a fiber arts project.  I also know that  they would never win any prizes in a knitting show,  as I put my effort into other area of my art, not my knitting. However, This does not make them not creative.

A teacher who is constantly coming up with all kinds of fun projects and ideas, was one  of the ones who said I wish I was creative.  It is sad how those little words of self deprecation hurt not only yourself but other creative people around you.  Her own scarf is all knit stitch,  in a wonderful variegated yarn, that is beautiful, soft to the touch and just makes you want to take it and wrap it around your neck. I watched as she looked at the shawl and then looked at her own.

I then gave her my Official Opinion as an Artist, that her scarf was also creative and why.

What gives me the right to have an Official Opinion as an Artist?  I choose to have one, that is why.  For a long time I had an opinion as an aspiring artist, and I wondered when I would go from being an aspiring artist, to being an artist.  I asked an artist I knew and they told me when your art is featured in a television program. Okay, that happened when I was in elementary school. Have I been an artist since then?  Another Artist said when your work is published. Odd, that happened when I was in High School. Have I been and Artist since then?  I thought more on it and decided that this was something that meant something different to different people, and that no one was ever going to tell me You are an Artist now.   Maybe I should print up a bunch of cards and issue them to people who need them.  __________________ is an Official Creative. or ___________________ is an Official Artist.

If you would like to see a wonderful piece of Fiber Arts, please check out this silk shirt and Elizabethan outfit.

Some Rights Reserved Photograph Fingerless Mitts

The importance of play and accident.

Yesterday we had one of  those days at work.  I have always enjoyed the water, where it meets the endless sky, sunrises and flowers.  One of my favorite things about the 3D environment of Second Life is that you can always take a quick visit to the water’s edge,  make it be sunrise, sunset or what ever time of day you prefer.  When I am trying to relax from a busy day, yet at the same time get some writing done,  talk to kids, answer phones, and otherwise live my life, I find that just leaving my laptop open with one of these ideal scenes sets the stage for a positive attitude.   I am still on the search for images for the covers of my hand tied journals and I need to  get going on my word count, so naturally I set up the laptop, popped over to one of my favorite sunrise settings and started to write.   I am just getting going when I something jerks my attention away and the thought crosses my mind, “These interruptions are going to be the death of me.” I  take a deep breath and look at my beautiful setting just in time to see someone else popping into the world above my head. This means that they were  seated on the couch I was on when they logged off.  The polite thing to do in this situation is to say, I am sorry or some such, and then move off the person’s head. Then it is polite for me to say something like, No problem, or some such. It is all very much like accidentally bumping into someone while at the store.  So I watched while they came into focus. When you first come into the world, you appear as a grey mist while the graphics card catches up and renders your appearance.

Rennata M. Tropeano, Peaceful Interlude, Digital Image 17x10 inches ©2009

Yes, in fact the grim reaper had shown up over my head.  I just had to take a screen capture, and no, he did not apologize, he just moved off.  My daughter then rounded the corner with a “That is beautiful” I pointed out the dark figure and she loved it even more, it became “Epic.”  I stopped, took some time to look at her drawings, talk about art and just enjoy the accident of this creation.  The rest of the evening was wonderful. Taking the time to relax, to play and be open to what ever might chance to come about  can lead to some “epic” art, and more importantly, an epic time.

The Owen House Series

Today is a day I had set aside for writing, Yesterday was a day I had set aside for working on a new series.  I may come back later and add more of a write up, but for now I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Giving Light
Rennata M. Tropeano, Giving Light, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Rennata M. Tropeano, In the Shed, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Rennata M. Tropeano, In the Shed, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Rennata M. Tropeano, The Workbench, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Rennata M. Tropeano,The Workbench, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Rocking Chair
Rennata M. Tropeano, The Rocking Chair, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009
Owen House
Rennata M. Tropeano, Owen House, Print 8x10 inches, series of 10 ©2009