I Wish!

I want to live in a world where ideas come to life.

I want to see a doodle go from ink scratches on a piece of notebook paper to a real-life lamp. Yes I said a real-life lamp. Why a lamp? Because a lamp represents illumination. The enlightened soul can use all the real-life help it can get. When you create, you take something out of the world of spirit (idea) and manifest it here on earth (reality). Enlightenment is one of the highest principles of the spirit realm. We have to shed light on things in order to see them clearly and understand our environment. So lamps are the perfect utilitarian work of art.

 

Since life is no more than a work of art itself, I figure I’ll make it happen. I look thru my scraps of paper with doodles on them and I find the three deer doodle. Scribed long ago on a yellow legal pad, something about the simplicity of the three deer appeal to me.

There’s poetry in the fact that very few simple lines drawn on colored paper can depict nature’s complexity in such a convincing way.

My lovely wife Catherine has been telling me for months she doesn’t like the random boards stacked against our fence. So I opt to use random boards as the medium for my three deer lamp.

I find a beautiful, once-painted, now faded board and cut out the basic shapes I see in my doodle. For the lines that represent the necks and legs, I’ll use patinated copper house wire. For the antlers I’ll use Dogwood branches. For the ears a scrap of leather will do. Finally, for the trees, I’ll use watercolor paper.

To translate a doodle to a work of art (especially a lamp made of old boards) is an act of pure intuition. There are no pre-made instructions. I make a tiny sketch (almost as tiny as the original doodle) so I have a map to go by, but I don’t take any measurements.

I just approximate the comparative sizes of the deer’s bodies and heads and legs and necks to keep everything somewhat within the laws of physics.

The battles one fights on one’s journey to glory are what make the journey worthwhile and making a doodle lamp is not without its challenges. The most disastrous onslaught is not having a drill bit that is ever-so-slightly larger than the house wire. They are so close in size that I have to pull out a hammer and pound the backs of the deer to get the legs to fit down into the holes in the hillside where they must reside. A less exuberant soul will let the resulting bent wires discourage his or her efforts, but this is one of those projects that falls into the third category of art.

There are three definite categories of art:
  1. Graphic/Commercial,
  2. Fine Art,
  3. and that which comes from your soul.

All three require a different set of disciplines and all three have their place in the world. But the stuff from your soul does not die an early death. The stuff from your soul gets birthed into this world come hell or high water! A broken antler means another trip to the Dogwood tree. Leather too thin it tears when you poke it in the deer-head holes means a thicker, more beefy leather scrap must be obtained. Finding out you purchased the wrong lamp-wire online means requesting a return authorization. Having no idea how to attach the white paper forest in an upright fashion behind the deer means ratcheting up your intelligence and finding a way that will work with the goods you have on hand.

These tiny but substantial skirmishes are always behind the scenes for the casual observers who take in your art once it is created. But victory over these perilous encounters are your ticket into artist’s heaven, where you and the muse get to kick back a cold one and recount the adventure you had bringing your idea across the spirit bridge and into reality.

This is your chance, people, to join the ranks of the artists in artist’s heaven. If I can take a doodle off of a piece of paper and turn it into a lamp, imagine what you can do!

We truly do live in a world where ideas come to life!

(Click on the photos if you’d like to see slightly larger versions… unless you’re on a mobile device, in which case just stretch and pinch to your heart’s content.)




Tell me about your experiences with bringing ideas to life…

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How do I Become a Prolific Artist?

The MC2 Formula


Example of a quick stick-figure map/plan for use later when I feel like producing

 

Here’s how:

  1. Pay attention to only two or three of the vast amount of ideas that occur to you
  2. Jot them down right away and if you have time draw a quick map or plan that you can refer back to if you lose the idea in your memory
  3. Work on more than one project at once so that if progress pauses on one project you can keep going on another

A prolific artist is someone who creates a large number of works in a given amount of time. We all receive inspiration to create many things, but we don’t always act on that inspiration. And sometimes those creative ideas can fade into obscurity.

If I could show you the catalog in my mind of artistic creations I perceive to be nearly ready to become materialized, I’m pretty sure you would ask me what in the world I’m waiting on. And I would agree with you wholeheartedly.

I want to Materialize my Creations 2 start enjoying them and sharing them with others!

But the list is somewhat virtual. It’s a moving target, and just a tad volatile. When the idea occurs to me, it comes full on and ready to enter manifestation, but if I catalog it, (like I most often do) it begins to evaporate just a little amongst the many other important things to remember. Over time it can actually fade completely away as if the idea had never even struck me.

So what I really have at any given moment is a partial list (at best) of some potentially cool ideas that I may be able to coax into being if I work diligently toward their realization when the mood to produce hits me. This is an extremely important factor. I only act on inspiration when I’m in the mood to produce. And those productive moods don’t always coincide with the moments I receive inspiration.

Consequently I’ve come to the conclusion that the complete catalog will never make it out here into the real world. I have to joyfully accept this reality because not only will my memory occasionally fail to retain a creation idea long enough to coincide with the productive mood, but those ideas are infinite. They never stop. They rush in several times a day and there are not enough hours in my lifetime to really get them all tended to.

But I still want to Materialize my Creations 2 start enjoying them and sharing them with others!

I have paid attention to how I operate when I’m in the productive mood. I like to have a minimum of two and sometimes three creations to work with at once. I don’t mean to create simultaneously, but when you do the kind of found object-assemblage-sculpture work I often find myself doing, you’ll notice there are times when glue has to dry; Metal has to become patinated; One layer of paint must dry before adding another, etc., etc. That can mean waiting up to 24 hours before you continue to monkey with your creation. With two or more projects to tend to, you have the luxury of being able to switch gears and keep the creative momentum going. I love when that becomes a seamless process in my flow of productivity.

My lesson has been that I realize I only need two or three ideas from that infinite list and I can jot them down the minute they occur to me. And if I do, they actually stand a chance of being materialized, coming into fruition and capable of being shared. Plus I get the supreme satisfaction of keeping my creative juices flowing when one project requires some incubation by simply turning my focus onto another creation.

Next time you find yourself hoping to get all of your creative ideas out into the real world, you can take solace in the fact that it really only takes a few of those ideas to really succeed at this. Use the MC2 formula:

  • Try to jot the ideas down the minute they come to you.
  • If you have time, draw a quick stick figure map/plan like the one pictured above so you’ll have instructions when the mood to produce hits.
  • Once the mood to produce kicks in, work on more than one project at once.

We can become prolific artists two or three projects at a time. It really works!

Aim High in Steering


I nervously shut the driver’s side door and felt trapped behind the wheel the first time my dad tried to teach me to drive a car. Four years later I would learn the most important lesson of my life. I had a problem that first day though. My problem was that I was looking at the road as close to the front of the car as I could. That seemed to be the most crucial place to look. Right there where the rubber meets the road. If I could have seen under the car I’m sure I would’ve summoned all my concentration on that area. My driving was terrible. My dad said I was all over the road. And he was right.

Four years later I took Drivers Ed in high school. The instructor introduced a concept I had not been exposed to before. He said, “Aim high in steering. If you look way up at the horizon where the road converges or goes over a hill, you will automatically see all of the rest of the road between here and there. You’ll drive nice and straight.” And he was right.

Now I use that phrase to help me live my everyday life. Instead of looking at right where I am, as close as I can get to my current circumstances, I aim high in steering. Of course, in order for this kind of thinking to benefit us, we first have to realize we actually are in the driver’s seat. We have control of how those circumstances evolve. Every thought, word, and deed leads to what’s coming next. I’ve had dreams where I’m sitting in the back seat of a car having an exciting conversation with someone, I look up and no one is driving the car. I usually get a small pang of panic at that point in the dream. So let’s admit, we are in the driver’s seat and we are indeed driving our lives.

The excitement reigns when we realize that the current circumstances we are living out are a product of all our thoughts, words, and deeds up to that point. At the point we are looking around us and noticing how things are, nothing is changeable. It’s already been made manifest. So we are looking too close to the car and our lives are swerving all over the road! Look further ahead. Use that reality generator called your imagination and imagine how you’d like it to be. Spend time in reverie. Daydream. Now you’re aiming higher. Now you’ve got your eye on the prize and no matter how far up ahead on the horizon it is, if you keep aiming there, you’ll get there. And you’ll enjoy the ride.

Just think, by merely utilizing our imagination we can drive our lives more efficiently and arrive at places we really want to go. By ignoring the use of our imagination and just letting everything run on default, we live a much more haphazard life (dangerous to ourselves and others) and maybe even miss out on destinations we were hoping to include on this trip. I just love knowing that!

On Deck

There is a place in baseball where the next batter stands and gets ready to step up to bat when his turn comes. That person is said to be “on deck”.

We experience different thoughts all day long and those thoughts, which affect our mood, can either come randomly, or we can have a hand in creating them.

An interesting way of changing or creating a mood for yourself is to imagine a scenario. If you’ve never played baseball before, please forgive the metaphor. But if you have, then you know what it feels like to be on deck.

You’re stepping up because you’re about to do something to help the team (at least that’s your hope). Maybe you’re about to experience exhilarating glory by hitting the ball way out of the park. Or maybe you’re about to suffer a shameful embarrassment by hitting a pop fly and causing another “out” for your team. But there’s no turning back now. You’re on deck!

If you’ve been procrastinating on a project that you’d really like to see happen, no need to jump out there where all the fear of failure is. Just step on deck. Get ready. The readier you are, the more confident you feel about stepping up to bat. Stay on deck as long as you need to, but notice the difference between the way you feel when you are successfully procrastinating (doing nothing toward your goal) and when you actually step on deck. BIG difference!

The Brink

I remember the three and a half mile hikes we used to take down into Feather Falls… all the way down hill. When you came to the overlook, a large wooden deck placing you just over the edge of the canyon so you could witness the Feather River plunge to the rock floor 640 feet below, there was a secret.  If you did not turn left to walk out onto the overlook, there was a secret trail to the right. No one knew it was there because it began three feet higher up a hill than the ground of the standard trail, obscured by bushes and long dry weeds.

When you clamored up that first impossible step, the trail went on and as you walked you’d see signs—warning signs that read: Caution, Brink of Falls! Stay behind the Fence! And sure enough there was an eight foot tall chain-link fence erected long enough ago that the rust had set in and it was no longer (if ever) a pretty sight. But the brave and the anarchist hikers who came before us saw fit to take bolt cutters to many of the fence’s weak points and cut wide gates to freedom. So those of us with whatever gusto it takes, could go right up to the brink of the falls. From there, the roar was deafening. But I found an even better secret.

If one were to hike up the river, just around the next bend, one would come across a fallen tree. A giant of a fir tree that had plummeted straight across the river who knows how many centuries ago. But it still had its bark, petrified somewhat by the weather and it was a wide and welcoming bridge to the other side of the river.

Once you crossed this mammoth tree-bridge, you were free to explore a land that many have never set foot upon.

Turning left and heading back toward the brink of the falls, there was an unusual rock formation. It was the peak of the hill and from the ground it rose up about ten feet from the trail. Half way up, a solid rock slice of bread (or so it appeared) was slightly removed from the mother rock, like a piece of toast sticking out of a sideways toaster. Behind this slice of stone where it used to be connected to the mother rock, was a one foot by two foot hole from one side of the pyre to the other. This produced a shelf where the rock had slid out a little bit over the canyon. It was possible to step up onto this rock, take seat and dangle your feet over the edge. It was the best seat in the house.

Looking to your left you’d witness 4,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Feather River fly out over the brink of the falls and down to the canyon floor. At about the eleven o’clock position you could see the observation deck and all the tiny tourists marveling at the site just to your left. And straight out westward you’d see the canyon stretch for miles, the river winding its way thru the gorge which sliced through the Sierra Nevada mountains eons ago.

Here’s what I’ve learned from those trips to the brink of the falls; this feeling of nearing the brink, which contains a large measure of anticipation, readiness, and pure adventure is a valuable feeling. It is a feeling you can bring to bear on any one of life’s many situations. It is a state of being. The first time I ventured up onto that secret trail, I had no idea what lie before me. I anticipated something big and very possibly dangerous. The closer I got to the brink of the falls the more excited I got to see what was there, to take in the sights and the smells and the sounds of all Nature’s fury as an entire river came rushing off a precipice and fell through mid-air only to crash on the rocks below and continue its journey toward the sea.

Sometimes we can get in touch with that feeling of excitement and adventure without the hike to the falls. We can feel that way about a project we are about to embark upon.

“The state of mind revered most by the Muse is a mind filled to the brim with notions of adventure.”

Just imagine the brink. Imagine nearing the brink and see what kinds of inspiration find you.

We’re On a Mission From God

One of the best lines in all the movies I’ve ever seen was delivered by Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers.

“We’re on a mission from God.”

Such a powerful statement and most likely true in our lives much more often than we suspect.

But growing up Christian there were very mixed signals about uttering such words. To think of oneself as in league with God in any way was considered blasphemous. Some of us were led to believe we are far too profane to ever have a relationship with God. And I see solid evidence of the same admonition happening today. It’s like walking on eggshells when you can’t express your feelings about the relationship you have with God outside of an accepted set of phrases.

When I first read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” I began to wonder if he didn’t have a very good point.

What I’m trying to say is that we, as creators, often feel compelled to create. Although I cannot claim to know, there may be a strong chance that those compulsions come directly from God. So when we’re making what we’re making, we may well be on a mission from God.

I want you to walk away convinced that it is more than okay to be on a mission from God. I want you to be able to feel it when inspiration comes barreling thru your heart and you feel that ultra-conviction to follow that inspiration and create what has been delivered to you to create. And then I want you to be able to proclaim that mission to anyone who will listen, because I believe that is exactly what’s happening. You’re on a mission from God!

Say it often. Feel it. Believe it. Even if only to yourself… we really are on a mission from God.

Make Them Marvel

the-stapler

If you’re an artist, you may remember the kids in grade school marveling over one of your drawings. This is big stuff! When someone looks at what you’ve done… and gasps in excitement, you know you are somehow onto something.

I experienced my first brush with magic in second grade. The teacher asked us all what we did for fun last summer. I, myself had experienced my first Carnival. Not the big one in Rio, the small one in Oregon with the air hanging thick with the smell of spun sugar and waffle cones mixed with cigarette smoke from overly tattooed Carnies, and the super loud music and flashing lights coming from noisy, chaotic rides.

I grabbed the nearest crayon (red) and drew all the rides I could remember. The next day, when our teacher handed our assignments back to us, she said, “Congratulations! You’ve won second place!” There was a shiny red ribbon attached to my paper which clearly read SECOND PLACE.

This was somewhat exciting (although I had no idea what a “second place” even was). But not near as life changing as the words that came next:

“You’re quite the artist.”

Something registered inside me at that moment.

When I got home and shared the good news with Mom & Dad, they both said, almost in unison, “Well! You’re quite the artist!”

There it was a again.
It was a credential. It was a possible profession. It was a proclamation of my talent and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker! I believed them.

I spent a lot of time that night on my way to sleep thinking about the new turn of events. Mostly I remembered the look on my teacher’s and my parent’s faces. It was a look of astonishment and surprise. It was a look of deep interest. And these were adults! I saw something rare, I saw the unmistakable look of curiosity, awe, and wonder in their eyes. I really hadn’t seen that very often in the eyes of adults.

And so there grew in me a seed. Not just the one that would produce an artist, but one that made me desire, on the deepest level, to make them marvel.

Now my first question for any project I begin is “Will it make them marvel?”
Will I see that look in someone’s eyes again?

It may sound like I am talking about approval seeking behavior. There could conceivably be a parallel drawn between what I’m talking about here and approval seeking. But I can assure you I am not seeking approval, I’m seeking the evidence of magic. I’m seeking the immortal sign of wonder and curiosity again and again with each project I birth. It is such a strong force in me that it is nearly all I can concentrate on as I ready myself for the next piece.

I want to encourage you to do the same, no matter what your medium (auto repair, hair styling, accounting, or art-making)… just ask yourself,

“Will it make them marvel?”