Ask Yourself Better Questions

I was listening to my favorite podcast today, and Rob Lowe was the guest, and he spoke about some of his achievements, downfalls, and scandals and while he was talking he said to ask yourself better questions. 

That phrase stopped me in my tracks (well it would have had I not been driving)

This is a way of reacting to the world that I hadn't thought of, but as someone who recently has become more confident a little more open that phrase stuck with me. I repeated it in my head on my drive home over and over and over again. 

Ask yourself better questions and your brain will give you better answers. An example that was given was:

Q: Why did that fail?
A: Because I'm a piece of garbage. 

So to rephrase that so your brain would give you a better answer (and my brain gets a lot darker than "piece of garbage", but for readers sake I won't go there)

Q: What did I learn from that failure that I can use later?
A: All sorts of things, let me list them! (says your much happier brain)

Now, of course those were the examples given and I'm sure there are many ways to rephrase things so your head doesn't give you the "wrong" answers or the sad answers. 

As I was repeating this in my head on my way home, I was wondering how I could apply this to my art practice. How I can rewire how I think about failures both commercially and personally. Many people say you learn more from the mistakes you make than from your successes, there are a ton of famous quotes from famous people about failure and how it helped them succeed, but how can you go from a true failure to a true success? And how can you keep the failure lessons in your back pocket without having them weigh you down?

Those are really hard questions, and I'm not sure anything I come up with tonight will be a good enough answer, but I feel like the actual theme for this blog is "Brianne starts out with a question, tries to answer it and ends up more confused". And that's okay with me I'm comfortable in the confusion, I almost relish it. I like looking for answers. I think, for me at least, the answer is do it again. Do it again and don't feel guilty about having to do it again. That's something that I have to work on, I have to realize that very few people can shoot one roll of film and have an entire series, it just doesn't work like that.  No one is perfect the first time around, and no one is perfect the 100th time around. I think in art, and in life, there's a lot of letting things go, and the happiest people I know are really good at letting the tough stuff go and keeping the good stuff at the forefront.  

That's my new goal. Ask myself better questions so I get better answers from my brain. I'm a smart person, and the people around me are incredibly intelligent therefore we are all able to rephrase our questions to ourselves. 

Until tomorrow.

Peace,

Brianne

Use Your Friends.

No, not that way.

Resources, specifically human ones, are so immensely important to making artwork. Even if your practice is incredibly private and no one sees anything until it's 100% done it's still really important to have a group of artists surrounding you so you can leech off their creative energy (it is true, all artists are vampires) I am confirming that here. 

I spoke yesterday about how much of a stereotypical introvert I am, and the only time that I find that not true is when I'm in a room full of creators. I love talking about art, I love talking about anything that you can connect to art (so pretty much anything if it's framed the right way). I find other artists to be one of the most important parts of my process.

For the last two years my practice has gone from using people as models to just using myself and my immediate surroundings, I still love a good (scary, weird, messed up) portrait, but at the moment I'm more interested in my world, one that I don't feel very comfortable in. I live and work in an area that's inhabited by people that might as well be from a different planet, they speak a different language from me, they've lived different lives. So I suppose that interest stems from an almost scientific fascination. 

So because I live in this closed off suburban world I have to keep my creator friends close, we have to occasionally collaborate for the sake of my sanity (and I'm hoping some of them feel the same way about me). It's so essential to talk about ideas, and for that matter just talk. Something will come of it because that's what artists do we create. We learn from each other. 

I've made the mistake quite a few times of trying to cut myself off from the world, I've thought maybe I'd be happier if I was isolated, and at times I have been. I figured outside artists do it, why can't I? Spoiler alert: I cannot. I like being alone, but not that much. It always comes back to the phrase "nothing is created in a vacuum", and I know that's usually meant to talk about inspiration and history before you but for me it also means that I can't create unless I'm living the life of an artist, and that comes with the responsibility of staying in the studio until 2 am not because you have a project to finish but because you want to watch other people's processes, and because you are passionate about your friends' successes. 

So I guess what this long rambling post is about is keeping up with the people around you, especially after graduating from art school. I need other peoples creative energy because they are living a different life than I am. I cannot have empathy or understanding for something I haven't attempted to learn about, and I cannot make art about something I do not have empathy or understanding, no matter how hard I try. 

Until tomorrow
Peace,

Brianne

 

Permission to be Weird.

In honor of Gene Wilder I'm going to expand what I was going to write about today and start out with a little bit of a tribute to him. When I was young I watched Willy Wonka for the first time, I think I was at a friends house and I remember being in awe, but not of the fantastic sets or the dream job given to Charlie at the end, I was fascinated by Wonka. I think even then I knew that there was something a little strange about me, and the most relatable character for me was not the kids about my age, but this kind of grumpy kind of off middle aged man (I still tend to relate to kind of strange old men, ask me about my stand-up viewing habits) . He lived in his own world, that anything that he could dream up he would make happen, and I found that incredible. I knew I needed to make a world for myself, and that movie gave me permission to retreat when I had to. 

I spend a lot of time alone, I didn't as a kid, but I like being alone now and I think that was another thing I had in common with Wonka. My circle is small and strong and I think that's really important as an artist. I can say with confidence that I am the most stereotypical introvert that walks the earth. The only kind of conversation that gives me energy is really stimulating conversation, I don't like crowds, and after a long day I need to decompress whether it's painting or writing I need to get away. I even sometimes get nervous being around people that I know and love and trust (for the most part, but we're not getting into that)

I digress, the fact that someone could be so strange and so creative and so charismatic made me feel like I didn't have to make the effort to "fit in", and I didn't. I'm still friends with the same weirdos I was 18 years ago, and I've added important people to that circle since, but they supported me in my strangeness and encouraged it. Saying yes when I asked them to do weird things like cover themselves in glitter or get naked and put paint on their bodies. Not hesitating to take a hysterical call even though they're all the way across the country and are dealing with their own stuff. Telling me I could make it through what seemed like an endless grueling "art bootcamp" that was my senior year. 

I don't know why this particular death is hitting me so hard, I think its a lot of sentiment and thinking about the bits and pieces of my childhood that imagination and creativity were essential to how we played (fairy houses, our own game of life). 

I think it reminds me that I should keep a little bit of that awe of a man who lives in his imagination and allow my own imagination to dictate my art a little more. To free myself of the restraints of second guessing and being too careful. 

So I suppose, come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination.

Peace,

Brianne 

Inspiration

I was just speaking to two really amazing artists on inspiration and how it comes to us as creative people, and we all established that it was really too broad of a topic to try to boil down to the short amount of time that we had (more on that in a future date). 

I'm going to try to tackle at least a little bit of how my process works.

The first thing I want to point out is the power of the word, the word inspire means (according to dictionary.com) means to fill with animating, quickening, or exalting influence or to communicate or suggest by a divine or supernatural influence. Those are powerful definitions. Inspire is a powerful word. I think a lot of times in todays world we flippantly use words that mean something a lot more powerful than they actually do. My two favorite examples of this is the word awesome, your sandwich was not awesome (maybe it was, who am I to judge) the grand canyon is awesome, to be filled with awe is something really powerful, the second being "I miss you". I miss you is something that we are programmed to say to someone we haven't seen in a while, like we have to say it, but to actually truly miss someone is a really intense painful emotion. 

So back to inspiration, as an artist I can be inspired by many different things, the town I live in, a comedy show, something someone says passing me on the street, pretty much anything. To get from the inspiration to the work though, is very complicated. Art takes work. Something or someone may have lit the match, but you have to build the fire up and keep it going. So to boil down inspiration to who is your most influential artist, or what inspired you to start the current project your doing? 

I think Josh Jordan today said it best, that by making that one thing the topic of discussion about your art negates the hours and hours of work that you did to refine your series or your craft or even just one image. 

It erases the work that you did leading up to the great unveiling, it ignores the fact that your blood sweat and tears went into a piece that may have been spurred on by one moment or a small piece of your life, but that doesn't mean that the muse fairy creature came down upon you and told you what to do. The closest that I've had that comes to that is when I write poetry, which is why I don't write it that often because the poems come out of me, I don't write them, they write me. As far as visual art goes, there are hours, weeks, months, even years that come out of that small speck of inspiration.

So I guess the punch line to this is, pay your artists as if you knew how much time and effort goes into fanning that match flame into a bonfire. The end product is not what the process is.  

Perceptions

I've been thinking a lot about perception the last few days, partially because I feel in my self centered universe that I'm not doing what I need to be doing to keep me alive spiritually (at least I thought I wasn't until today). This is a hard thing to admit, but I think I'm better than my job. I feel terrible saying that, and I know I should be grateful to even have a job, also insert any other typical reaction to that statement here. I don't really have time to address my shortcomings when it comes to feeling superior or smarter than the other people in the room. It's not a positive trait that's for sure, and probably comes from feeling inferior to the other people in the room. 

I seek out a challenge, I want the people I surround myself to be smarter than me, and for the most part they are. I have a wonderful group of friends that challenge me on a daily basis, which in turn makes me a better artist.

Perception can be tricky though, and it can change in an instant. 

I graduated in May, so I know I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself to get my work out there, and hard work, dedication, and some talent will get me there eventually. But when I left school I fell into a deep rotting pit of depression. Who was going to give me deadlines? Who was going to steer me in the right direction? Who was going to listen to me when I was panicking about said deadlines? What do I do now that I don't define myself as a student anymore? The perception that I had was I wasn't going to be able to make work again after school, and a lot of artists don't. Or they go on and do other things and keep art as their hobby. That wasn't going to be me. I couldn't let it. But I was quickly turning into that person. 

"Hey do you want to do a studio day?"
"No. I've got work"
"Hey do you want to go shoot somewhere?"
"No I'm too tired"

And then people stop asking. 

So here I was, three months after graduation, with friends who weren't sure I even wanted to talk to them let alone go make art together. But something around that three month mark changed. I think I painted a silly looking face, and then I went to Falcon Ridge, and then I got a new idea for a project. It was slow, very slow, and some days I still feel myself fighting that instinct to just not. My perception of the situation has changed though, I knew that the pressure I was putting on myself was just not realistic, or safe for that matter, I had a point where I wasn't even sure if I was an artist or not, maybe I had just made it up in my head (I didn't I am in fact an artist DESPITE my preferred medium being photography) 

I have a feeling this is going to be a fight I have for the rest of my life. I'm willing to take it on though.

the friend

Hold tightly! you used to
yell over the summer breeze force winds
we were flying on a ship
we were at war, standing
on the precipice of freedom for
our army of stuffed animals.
we would come in, covered with dirt
only wanting a cool drink
before going back to war.

Hey don't let go I timidly grabbed
the hanging strap from your backpack
we used to be inseparable
the lunchroom was a jungle
the playground even more so

Hey can you believe it? 
We're going away.

blackout
blackout
blackout

Hey, hold this for me. I need my ID
four shots in and nothing
but hey hows it going
how are the kids
how's the wife?

Finished

I turned to leave, cutting my losses
and you tapped me on the shoulder
and pulled me into a long hug.
Please hold tightly .