Tag: retired artists

I’ve abandoned my posts recently – okay, it wasn’t that funny – for good reasons. The garden vegetables needed to be harvested and processed and packaged and frozen for deep winter consumption. Home-grown veggie lasagna with eggplant noodles tastes like sunshine on a dark and frigid January night. Pans and pans of lasagna and squash gratin were prepared, cooled, tasted, tasted some more, then flash frozen. And I’m not done yet. No.

Now come the winter squash bakes and apple cakes, sauce, and crisp. And the pumpkins – not just for carving – are better in pie and cake and pudding. And then the gardens have to be put to bed.

Pumpkin

In this year of learning about being a full-time creative, my intended work-a-day schedule has been blown over and over. I may not go to an employer’s office any longer, but the household demands continue to fight me for time and attention. How can we ever find the time to do our creative work when there is so much else to be done, that has to be done?

Do the work when the work needs to be done.

I suspended writing for the summer to prepare work for the Arts off 84 art crawl on Labor Day weekend. I discovered that I missed sketching and drawing and painting and that I love it as much as I do love writing. This past year, painting had its season during the summer months. The upcoming year will find a few hours each week – maybe even every few days – set aside to plan and prep and start the next collection of paintings.

Worried Boy and Kitten

But I also have self-imposed deadlines to meet. My first novel, “Saving the Ghost,” was sent out into the world as a finished work in search of an agent. It received the attention of a small press and an agent – which in itself for a first work is an achievement. The agent provided feedback which let me know that the book is not quite where it needs to be. Thanks to the Five Wings Arts Council and the McKnight Foundation, I’ve received a 2017 Artist Project Grant, to go back into editing and revision. I also have a second novel in the works. Both projects need to be off my desk by April 30, 2018.

blankpage-pen

And that’s how getting things done works. If I hadn’t picked the tomatoes and squash at the right time and done the work to turn them into meals at the right time, all my soil prep and seed planting and garden tending would have been wasted effort. I love my writing and my painting as much or more as I do my homemade marinara sauce. I won’t waste my creative efforts by wondering when I might find the time to do the work when the work needs to be done.

NEWS!

You can read my latest flash fiction piece, “Abel March,”  in Talking Stick 26.

The Talking Stick is a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers’ Bloc. Produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since the beginning in 1995.

Buy it now from Jackpine Writers’ Bloc or on Amazon

 

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Hi, everybody. Yesterday was the wrap up of Arts off 84 from Pine River to Longville, MN. Thank you to everyone who came out in support of our regional artists. You are appreciated.

 
artsoff84-4

 

Tuesday, the first true work day of September 2017, will find me building my business plan for the year. In order to stay afloat as an artist, we have to earn income. I have goals to set and deadlines to meet and a slew of work ahead to help me stay in business as an artist. I’ll keep you apprised of my successes, which I hope to be many.

Have a lovely labor-free day. See you next week.

 

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Hi, everyone. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that writing a novel is a new enterprise for me. I’ve always written stories and poems and ad copy. I’ve never attempted anything like assembling words into a flow for a reader of a novel. It’s hard work.

I see people all day long, launching their 2nd and 3rd and more in a series – mostly romance and dystopia – and self-publishing on Amazon. They’ve got giveaway programs running and pleas out for reviews. I have trouble believing that there can be much value to this material, and yet, this is exactly how Andy Weir published “The Martian.” http://www.npr.org/2015/09/27/443192327/sandstorms-explosions-potatoes-oh-my-martian-takes-its-science-seriously It’s being done right and well, but I am not that writer, not yet.

Going into this, I knew I had a strong story but to create a novel from a good idea requires some talent, dedication, education, and great editing. I received a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, my regional arts support organization, for an online class with Mary Carroll Moore on how to write a novel. I also received money for a first draft edit. This past May I began to send the book – finished as I thought it to be – out to agents and publishers. I wanted the validation of acceptance by a traditional channel.

I got lucky. I was right. The story is strong. The writing is good. But I lost out on a deal with an agent because I still don’t know how to write a novel. I’ve taken a lot of classes and workshops. I’ve been dedicated. I’ve done a good job as far as that goes. But there was something missing.

I know I need a new editor. I know I need to work a little harder. I know I’ll have to ask for more funds to complete this book. As of tomorrow, I’m diving in with an application for a writing residency and an application for editing help and a little more education tied to networking.

Turns out, writing a novel is as much work as any job I’ve ever done. It is the most satisfying and exciting work I’ve ever done. I believe in my story. My writer community believes in me. It’s a new day to learn a new way to get this book done and in your hands via traditional agent or publisher.

The new editor I will be working with has given me these notes – followed by 6.75 pages of all the work I’ll need to do.

Let me begin right off the bat with yet another testimonial to the power of this book. The soul, the heart—it’s strong. These are some of the realest and most compelling characters I’ve ever met. That, by far, is your strongest talent as a writer. And on top of it, you’ve created an emotional journey for these characters that is fraught with pain, yet it leads us toward healing. It’s one of the most universal human stories, with the power to change the reader’s life—even if it’s quite difficult to face this particular topic of sexual and physical abuse.

As I keep saying, our goal is to make sure the story’s bones and muscle and flesh are as strong as its soul. So let’s dive into how we might do that.

I’m going to start again, again. Follow along for weekly updates. But you’ll have to wait until October. I have a lot of reading to catch up on in September.

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Labor Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, come out to see me at Arts off 84, site #4. https://www.artsoff84.com/find-us/ Here’s a sample of what I’ve been working on.

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

Woman with Chicken, 2017 M E Fuller

 

#ampainting #art

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Welcome back! Yes, you’re right, I skipped a week. Sometimes life doesn’t fit my schedule. Sometimes I’m just along for the ride. I try my best to keep to what I promise. I try hard. I usually succeed.

After a week of recovery from Cirenaica which included organizing my workshop notes, followed by a week of fireworks and birthday candles and setting up for a new round of paintings, I’m back on task. Well, I’m back on task as much as my summer distractions allow. Squash is growing, tomatoes are showing up, and banana peppers scream, “Pick me! Pick me!” Flower baskets beg for water.

petunias2

 

The dog wants out to laze in the sun then wants in because the flies and mosquitoes are driving her crazy.

It seems a long time since I’ve devoted myself to my sketchbook. I’ve been preoccupied with the first novel and now writing the second, while still editing and revising the first. But I have to sketch because I cannot paint until I sketch.

Sketching

Sketching finds the feeling that feeds my wrist and fingers and brushes to make the paintings I want to produce. This year I’m concentrating on mixed media, stylized images that express comfort and love. I want to make things that make other people smile and feel good.

And more… I’ll see how far I get this week and what catches my interest.

2Sketches

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

 

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Welcome back!

I know, I know, it’s Tuesday, not Sunday. Before sharing my experiences at Cirenaica (sarah-neye-kah), I needed some thinking and recovery time. I’m awake now and exploding with thoughts and notes for you.

The intention behind this year-long weekly series, Greyhairs Rising, was to share with anyone – especially retirees – how I reconstituted my artistic career in both writing and painting. I’ve given you a lot of how to get started and stay in the game information. I’ve shared a load of resources to explore. I am now in a state of being with my work that goes beyond the nuts and bolts of how to.

I was ready to take a big leap forward and chose to apply to Cirenaica, knowing full well that I might be overwhelmed and overrun by REAL writers – educated, perceptive, smart, critical thinkers who know how to use their words in writing and speaking, offering up the very best of critique and support for their fellow artists. Truth be told, I didn’t know all of that going in. I wanted to have the experience of being in residency with other writers, in a teaching environment, without letup, but I was also worried.

My apprehensions were about:

  • Living among, young, energetic, creative types
  • Could I keep up?
  • Could I stay awake?
  • Would I have any “senior” issues that would get in the way? (You all know what I mean!)
  • What if I didn’t like the people, place, or any of it?
  • Would anyone care about what I had to say?
  • Would I have anything of value to contribute?

 

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

I can say to you happily, that not one of my concerns was an issue. When it came to keeping up with the lively younger folk, I didn’t have to. Eight or nine o’clock in the evenings, when I disappeared, they might ask, “Where’s Maggie?” but somebody would know and say so, “I think she went to bed.” And when I got up at 5:00 a.m., I had the quiet of the space to myself, got the coffee brewing, and went to work writing. It was glorious.

And everyone was good natured and unafraid to expose their work to critique. Each participant submitted 15 to 25 pages of writing for everyone else to read and critique before we met. Each day, about 11:00 a.m., we gathered with our notes and spent a good hour to hour and a half on one writer’s submission. The writer was not allowed to comment while we, one by one, responded to the work. Near the end, Nickolas Butler, our artist in residence at his own house down the road, made summary comments and then took the writer aside for a brief one-on-one. This process is referred to as workshopping.

Workshopping

 I admit to being confused for a day about the use of the word workshop in this context. I understood a workshop as an opportunity to work on a topic – like a class. I understood critique as a separate and more line-by-line approach to providing feedback. The workshopping we were doing was neither. This was whole-hog, educated reader, skilled writer, perspective on:

  1. Favorite sentence
  2. What’s working
  3. What’s not working
  4. Title – yes, no, middle-of-the-road
  5. What’s it about?
  6. Theme

I understand that this process will vary from artist to artist – everyone has their own way of doing things, right? I did find that limiting the comments to these points – especially the first three – and actively listening to what everyone had to say – gave me a deeper appreciation of every single story we were given to read.

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Photo credit: Geoff Carter

Before the workshopping began, the writer chose a section of their own story to read aloud. I cannot stress enough, the value of reading aloud. Some stories I had no particular feel for, came alive for me when the writer read. The stories took on an entirely different dimension as I listened to others talk about the work. I realized, and I’m hanging my head in shame here, that I read too fast, with too critical and impatient an eye and mind. I need to change.

I could write about this experience for days, but I’ll stop now. Well, before I do, I have to give kudos to the chef, Brent. He went out of his way to accommodate my food allergies and served up some of the most delicious food ever to pass my lips. And BJ Hollars, the coordinator of the event, is a fabulous man.

I encourage you, one and all, to seek out a residency experience if you’re at all able. You’ll thank yourself after a day of recovery!

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

Photo credit: Justin Patchin

A note on Cirenaica

The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild is pleased to partner with Cirenaica for our second year of summer residencies!  Nestled on 43 acres of hills, farmland, and forest near the quaint village of Fall Creek, Wisconsin, our residencies promise participants of all levels and genres an intensive yet rejuvenating experience amidst an inspiring backdrop.

See you back here next Sunday (or some day during the week). Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

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Early on in this series we looked at our intention to create art and asked the question, “How serious am I?” The deeper I get into my own work, the more serious I am, the more driven, the more confused I am about the quality of my work. I’m talking about writing and how I’ve learned that there is a “best” way to tell a story. I’ve learned that I’m prone to leave out some important things – best ways to deliver characters and scenes – and I’m struggling to understand how to recognize and fix the problems.

I just heard myself saying to myself, “Maybe you’ve taken on too much with this book.” Maybe I have. Maybe I can’t learn the things I need to know to do this story justice. Maybe… and then I stopped. I reminded myself that I want to tell this story, this particular story because I believe it’s important. And I reminded myself that two years ago I didn’t know enough to know to ask the questions I’m asking now.

My intention has been clear from the beginning. I want this. I want this enough to work this hard at learning the craft. I’ve learned to ignore some input and some teachings and to embrace others. I’ve done virtually nothing but learn and practice and learn and practice. I tell myself, “This isn’t math. You can do it!”

So this week I’m going to take you back to the second week topic and ask you to review your intention to create. Are you any further along than you were six months ago? Does it matter to you?

How Serious Are You?

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being I’m all in!, where are you as we start this week and is it where you want to be?  Where you imagined yourself to be?

Pick Your Battles.

Everything we do that we do well requires some time and effort. Time and energy can be the two strongest forces working against us as we age. Can we ignore our obstacles? By this time in life, I think we’ve all come to realize that the adage, pick your battles, has real meaning.

I’ve always been a nap taker. On the days that I did not allow myself the luxury of an afternoon snooze, I felt restless and less focused. Rather than fight my nature, I succumbed and am much happier and more productive for giving in.

My husband listens patiently to my babblings about what I’m writing or what I’m painting. He’s supportive but not engaged in my enthusiasm. I had to seek out other creatives who would share my excitement. Rather than fight with my husband over my disappointments, I accept what he offers and appreciate him for who he is.

I have friends who are challenged by mobility and other health-related issues. They’ve had to accept their physical limitations but that doesn’t mean restrictions on their creative dreams. Tools at hand, inspiring videos and a willingness to embrace the freedoms a creative spirit affords, keeps the artist alive and busy finding new ways to accommodate first the artist, then the limitations.

Finding the time to work.

I found that I accomplished the most writing in the early morning. Fresh from sleep and dreams, I hit the computer keyboard and pound out the words. After about an hour, I have to take a break and walk around a little, feed the dog, have some coffee or tea. So I learned to set alarms on my phone to reflect my way of working.

I officially start work at 9 o’clock in the morning. I may be up at 4 or 5 and been writing and musing and planning. But by 8 a.m., I need to be showered and dressed and prepared for work as if I had an office to get to. It took me six months of retirement to realize that I work best with a schedule. So I created one. By following a schedule I found my level of commitment to the work was rewarded with pages written and paintings painted and boundless satisfaction and self-appreciation!

I also realized that not every day is a work day. Somedays I found I could not focus or settle down into the routine. I knew I was missing the element of pressure to achieve so I began working with deadlines. I entered art shows and writing competitions that came with a finish-by date. That gave me the extra nudge I needed to keep me going.

Deadlines and schedules may not be what work for you. I seem to get the most joy out of accomplishment. Many people find their joy in the process. Watch yourself, see how you work, notice what makes you feel good about what you’re doing and how you do it. Then establish working rules that fit you and allow you to get the most creative enjoyment.

Tips for the week:

  • Pay attention to distractions. What pulls you away from your art?
  • Take note of your personal work style. When are you the most productive?
  • Consider your workspace. Does it fit with your working style?
  • Make notes about the obstacles and challenges you find. How can you put your artist self first, before accommodating limitations or restrictions?
  • Keep sketching
  • Try a timed writing off of one of your sticky note thoughts from last week. Get a pad of paper, position yourself in a comfy spot, set a timer for 5 minutes and write without lifting pen from paper.

Keep building your bank of sticky note ideas.

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I’ve been complaining loudly for months about how hard it’s been to write my first novel. I’d worked on the story, off and on, for a few years. In June of 2015, I applied for a grant from my regional arts council – Five Wings – to help me finish the book. With those funds, I took a class on how to write a novel (I had no idea how to structure the story to fill 90,000 words) and hired an editor to help me polish the first draft.

On March 5, 2017, I finished the novel and sent it out to beta readers for comments. For the next few weeks, I can let this project go.

I hate the book now. I don’t even know what it says anymore. I don’t like its words. The beauty of the inspired words was destroyed for me in the endless edits.

I didn’t feel that way when I was creating. I felt that way when I was editing and re-writing. The passion for the work went out of me and it became drudgery. I understand now, why so many great writers were depressed drunks! To face the beast that’s coming after embracing the beauty of the inspiration – well, it’s too much. I had no desire left to write another book.

Maybe if I’d been an English language major in college and had a degree in literature, the work wouldn’t have been so tedious. I don’t know, but I suspect that even the most learned and capable author has moments of despair and grief as the inspired concept is reduced to the mechanics and fine points of the finished product.

But yesterday, I was reawakened to the beauty of words. I remembered why I wrote the book. I felt the story I meant to tell. The happiness of enthusiasm for telling a story stood up inside of me, then sat by my side, held my hand, and shared a listening ear, as a young man, a spoken word poet, performed.

Yes!

The young man, Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre, is smart, sensitive, and clear in his message. He wears his heart for the work on his sleeve. He tells stories of being human while the audience nods in agreement. Yes! We can relate. We feel united. We’ve been so divided. I hear an unexpressed collective sigh of relief.

But it’s all just in me, in my own mind, I suppose. I didn’t know how hungry I was to hear a poet release me, like a butterfly captured in a jar, release me back into a lush garden, back into the beauty of words.

http://www.guante.info/p/spoken-word-videos.html

Guante performed at the Brainerd Public Library with support from the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library Brown Bag Book Events.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I like it and that’s enough.

With the advent of the World Wide Web as a marketplace for all, there is little need any longer for excellence in craft or practice. All you truly require is an internet marketing genius to bring you sales and a reputation as an accomplished artist. Does that mean that you could become wealthy selling scribbles on napkins over the internet? Very likely.

If you are one of the above, wishing to gain fame and fortune via marketing tricks, then I wish you all the luck in the world. You probably won’t need it. You’ll do fine.

For the rest of us creative types, however, who want to gain an audience because of our artistic efforts, we need to do a better job of presentation. It is a fact, still, that word of mouth is the most effective sales tool. If your work and presentation are sloppy, your audience reviews will reflect your lack of effort.

 Review.

Last week we took a tour of some art galleries. Are any of you ready to present to a gallery for an exhibition? I hope so. Keep last week’s post bookmarked, so you’ll know how to begin your inquiries.

 Tools.

You’ve all seen the pencil drawings that are executed on crumpled paper, smudged, and drawn with a hard graphite pencil. Not only is the work difficult to see – the harder the lead, the lighter the line – but there’s no dimension. How does our work come to life? By using the right tools and media on the right base material.

There are proper materials/tools for every job and there are hundreds of videos on the internet to teach you which to use and when. I praise the skies for the internet for all the educational opportunities it offers.  From blogs to video instructions, you can learn anything about any artistic practice.

There’s no excuse for not planning ahead to create a piece ready for public presentation.

These are the first few articles I accessed with ease, that are free of charge to use. Know your tools and materials well, and know how to use them.

Protect your work.

Creative prompt.

Draw a tree on proper pastel paper, using charcoal or soft lead colored pencils. Be careful not to smudge your work unintentionally. Be sure not to crinkle up the paper edges as you work. Fix it. Mat it. Share it with the world!

Next week’s topic: How to approach a publisher.  See you back here next Sunday night!

Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

Join our Greyhairs Rising Facebook group.

 

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Is there an art to it?

I do not have my artwork in a gallery.  I’m still slogging away on my first novel. Until that is in the hands of beta readers, it consumes my every day, and I don’t have free time enough to begin developing a basic concept for a show. But I’ve made a few tentative inquiries and I’ll share here, the little I know. Maybe we’ll get some gallery owners to share their insights with us.

Review.

Last week I detoured into the realm of possibilities. No matter what we’re focused on, it’s so important to remember that all of everything exists first, as a possibility. It’s true with objects and relationships, feelings and thoughts. I recommend a daily dose of meditation on possibilities. Ohm.

What are galleries looking for?

Galleries are not only looking to support talent, they’re looking to stay in business. That means they need an inventory of work that will sell. As creative artists, we like to be free to create and not be bound by formula or consistencies in concept. We don’t generally aim to be production artists, producing the same thing in the same style, over and over. That’s fine if you don’t want to exhibit in a gallery. You can sell your work online, in gift shops, and to interior design studios. There are lots of outlets for art sales.

But, if you want to exhibit in a gallery, and grow a following for your work as a known and respected artist, then you need to be identifiable as THAT artist – the one whose work we do know and recognize. For that, here’s what you’ll need to do.

Eddie Hamilton artwork

There’s no mistaking Eddie Hamilton artwork

Presenting the work.

  1. Create a body of work – at minimum, 20 gallery-ready pieces – that is consistent in
    1. use of media
    2. technique
    3. style
    4. theme
    5. presentation

And be prepared to show a concept portfolio of your “next in the series” work in process.

  1. Presentation to the gallery for consideration

Regardless of the format you use for your presentation – digital or tangible representation (photo) – each of the 20 or so pieces you are proposing for an exhibit must include:

Title   /    Media   /    Size   /    Price

Put a well-designed, but brief, bio at the end, supported by any news clippings about you as an artist or the work (limit to 2). Don’t overwhelm. If the gallery wants more information, they’ll ask you for it. If you have sold any of the series pieces, include that information along with at least one image of an installed piece if you’ve got one.

Do not overlook the value of a well-presented body of work. If you need help covering the costs of framing or containers or stands or what-have-you to present your work in the best way possible, contact you local arts organizations about available grants to cover these costs.

Research.

Now you have a portfolio, who are you going to show it to? Research galleries who consistently represent artists with themes or styles that are similar to yours. They wouldn’t be in business if they didn’t know their buying audience, so find galleries that appear to be a good fit with your work. Look online. Here’s a terrific resource to get you started: http://art-collecting.com/index.htm and also check in your town, city, region, and state directories. Oh, and don’t forget to contact your local arts organizations. They may have gallery space for members. It’s a great way to get your foot – er, artwork – in a gallery door.

The approach.

Know the gallery’s guidelines for proposals before even thinking about making a personal visit.  Every gallery will have its own artist selection process for exhibitions and there are many artists, equally talented, in line for consideration, ahead of you.

Don’t be discouraged.

Gallery exhibit schedules can be 2 or 3 years out, so keep your eye on the prize and not on the calendar. Also, keep a record of who you’ve approached and which portfolio of work you presented. If you get that call, you’re going to want to know, right away, which series they want.

Just a few other resources.

http://art-support.com/exhibitions.htm

http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Your-Art-Into-a-Gallery

http://reddotblog.com/how-galleries-select-artists-how-galleries-work-2/

Creative prompt.

My body of work is…

Next week’s topic:  Art presentation.  See you back here next Sunday night!

Would you like to keep up with the Greyhairs Rising community? Sign up for the latest updates.

Join our Greyhairs Rising Facebook group.

 

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