New Ideas from Studio Eidolons

Still Contemplating my Next Move on this New Watercolor

Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own stuff. I hang pictures of my favorite artists in my studio. They’re like friendly ghosts. I can almost feel them pushing me forward as I’m hunched over my desk.

The great thing about dead or remote masters is that they can’t refuse you as an apprentice. You can learn whatever you want from them. They left their lesson plans in their work.

Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist

Artist Cecilia Bramhall gave me this book, Steal Like an Artist, as a gift over the weekend and I’ve already drawn great pleasure from it today. Cecilia shared with me recently what she’s gleaned from it when we engaged in a recent Artists Cafe visit (we’ll announce our next one soon, for anyone wishing to join us in Palestine!).

I have shared in past blogs the deep-seated pleasure I draw from the presence of creative spirits who have gone before us–artists, writers, philosophers, musicians, public figures. Years ago in summer school, when I heard a student ask our professor why we were wasting our time with John Donne who had been dead for hundreds of years, I wanted to rise from my seat and shout–“HE ISN’T DEAD! HE HAS MORE TO SAY TO ME THAN YOU APPARENTLY EVER WILL!” I still feel that seething rage as I recall the sneer in that student’s voice when he raised that question. And I was just as offended at his peers sitting around him, nodding in agreement. I don’t understand that perspective. I really don’t.

I personally draw much more sustenance from written words of those creative spirits who have departed our earth than from many television voices that people tune into religiously today. Recently I felt myself near tears, reading a letter from N. C. Wyeth to his son Andrew about what happens to an artist when pursuing a fresh vision. I like Austin Kleon referring to those departed spirits as “friendly ghosts”, but I feel that they are “cafe artists” seated at the table with me over their brews, sharing freely the ideas that moved them and encouraging me as I pursue my own voice.

While reading this book, a new idea emerged that I want to employ in my daily studio work. I’ll have more to say about this once the idea emerges more fully from it embryonic state. But I’m interested in pursuing this new direction.

Thanks for reading. I’ll have more to share tomorrow . . .

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