The moment I saw the picture I knew she would have to become part of the family. My wife was excited too. About the getting the puppy I mean. I have always loved pointers and here was a beautiful German Pointer for sale. A few days later our puppy arrived. We called her Poppy.
Within days of arrival her natural hunting instincts amazed us. I recalled an exercise used by the Dog Whisperer. You attach a toy to a fishing rod and line. This makes an excellent system for exercising a dog. Especially one like a pointer.
Cast the toy out on the lawn and reel it in slowly. Poppy did not charge after it. Instead she instantly went on point. Absolute focus. Paw up. Nose pointed at her prey. This could go on for ages. I could walk away and come back to find her still pointing.
Eventually I would reel the toy in a bit. She would step closer. At the signal she would pounce. Success. Poppy would not get bored or frustrated. Nothing would distract her. Come what may that critter was getting caught using her stealth mode focus.
Focus - Got to get Some
The lesson is clear, but how easy is it to focus for us? When I decided to go professional with my painting I made a bargain with myself. If I could not make it worthwhile financially then I had to stick to my day job. There was too much at stake.
Unfortunately I also have a shiny object syndrome. This is a form of distraction that plagues many people today. There is always a new gadget or app coming out. I would try these things out. Maybe they would help my business. Of course these things were distractions.
What I needed most of all was to focus on what mattered. Identify what produced results, repeat and carry on. This takes discipline. Complete grit-your-teeth focus. But first I had to get a strategy. Visualise exactly what I wanted to achieve and do the work.
With time I improved and so did my business. Plenty of lessons learned along the way. But the one thing that mattered the most was to keep my focus. Without it life becomes an aimless meander.
Sadly none of us are born with Poppy's natural instincts. For her these qualities are hardwired to ensure survival. We humans have to learn by our mistakes.
Here are Five Tips that work for me:
A few years ago I wrote about eight reasons why artists needed to use Pinterest. That was three years ago and even then Pinterest was considered a new kid on the social media block. Yes it is still not up there with Facebook, but Pinterest continues to grow rapidly. All those reasons for using Pinterest still apply today. If you are still not sure consider these reasons.
Pinterest is the fastest growing social media channel next to Instagram. There are compelling reasons for this:
How does this benefit art lovers? Well the fact that you can search for any art form, artist, subject matter and genre is a big plus. Added to this is the quality of images that you receive. Then you can pin the images to your own public or private board. This makes the service useful for research topics too.
Want art lessons? An abundance of curated topics can be found in every niche. Forget Google, look on Pinterest and pin your finds to your own boards. You can even watch YouTube videos within Pinterest without having to exit to another website.
Artists should be using Pinterest if they are not already. There is no reason not to. Copyright? Forget about this issue since Pinterest is amazing free advertising and an endorsement for you as an artist.
Optimize your profile, revamp your boards and take up pinning. You never know what you may find that inspires you too.
Join me on Pinterest and share you favorite art with me.
We were chatting about last year's movies. My children talked mostly about the various action hero movies that came out. I think there were a hundred thousand or more. Then my wife chimes in about Daniel Craig and some other bloke also with pouting lips. All rather dire to be honest.
The thing is that most of the movies all seem to be the same. Loud, improbable and plain silly. We still watch them though. Maybe there is a reason sequels attract viewers. We know we are getting something that is entertaining. A sure thing. It does not always work though. Every Iron Man sequel, for instance, was rubbish.
What about art of the painting kind? An artist asked me recently how she could find her own style and produce something fresh. It is a good question. Are we as artists only producing what has gone before? Has everything been done already? Are we putting out sequels because they sell?
The impressionists tried to follow a formula for painting light and atmosphere. Only Monet persisted and did it superbly. Most others went in different directions. They developed their own style. It was a natural progression. For example Cezanne, Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin and then later, Bonnard and Vuillard. All distinct yet all influenced by impressionism in one way or another. Even to reject impressionism is to be influenced by it.
Fast forward to modern art. Pickled sharks, unmade beds and blank canvasses were hailed as daring new art. Lest we forget Duchamp's toilet decades before? Or Picasso using a rope to frame a painting? Perhaps everything has been done?
So unless you want to trawl the hardware store for new directions I could suggest the following:
Perhaps finally: Don't be afraid of influences. The greatest service we can do for other artists is to learn from them. It is their gift to us. Create your art with joy and freedom.
All the best for the New Year.