Perhaps having grown up at the coast it was inevitable that I would love painting the sea. Although I love all landscape thanks to a fascination with light and color the sea has something else going on. Something unique and special.
Perhaps the constant movement. It's mood swings can take one by surprise. Is it a feminine quality? The color at once deep blue then green and turquoise captivates me. Then it is also the life of this planet we call Earth. Our celestial home is mostly water. It is the color blue when viewed from space. The color of home to where we all belong and shall return.
The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Forget the Waves, It's the Ripples that Count
Conventional business suggests that the bigger the statement the better the result. Other ideas like Go Big or Go Home add to this belief. When there is plenty at stake it is easy to believe this concept. After all we want our business to succeed. We bundle up our self worth into succeeding at our venture.
Examples of how this idea has caused me harm are:
None of these proved fatal although they cost me time and money. I was able to take my medicine and kept trying. The big lesson was evident. It is what you do over time that matters. It is the ripples you make over time that break through the barriers. The big waves? They are over quickly and cause destruction. The ripples get the appreciation and the results.
In nature we see the canyons, tall trees and abundant wildlife created over time. Sound boring? Exciting results come from persistence, commitment and doing your homework. On their own these qualities are not glamorous. They are what makes entrepreneurs succeed.
In the art world glamour gets most of the attention, but persistence wins. The artist who gets to work every day is going to succeed over time. This is the rule of nature and the universe.
Of course artists are entrepreneurs. Acting on an idea. Creating something where there was nothing. Taking calculated risks. Putting yourself out there. These are all qualities of the entrepreneur. It pays to have vision and the patience to make it happen over time.
Some may ask: "Why go slowly in this fast paced world? Should we not be hustling like crazy to survive? I will take social media as an example. I am not an expert on the topic, but when I read the views of experts they seem to say the same thing. Use what works for you and persist at it. Is your market on Pinterest or Facebook? Then focus on that media and persist with sharing your good work. Over the long haul. You will be standing when the others have given up.
Only your good work though. Leave out the stuff that pulls you down. Remember consistency? We trust consistency. We want to trust you.
My message here is a personal one from many attempts and failures over time. Those things that worked turned out to be common sense after all. The key was to keep trying new ideas. Keep learning and be honest with myself. What is delusion and ego. What is real and true. Learn the difference and keep putting it out there little by little.
Creative block takes many forms. Boredom or simply frustration and lack of motivation all point to one thing. A block to your creative process. If you can work through this it often means a step-up to new successful ventures. Here a re a few ways to make this breakthrough happen faster.
Inspired? Add your ideas in the comments below.
What image does the name Winston Churchill conjure up in your mind? For many it will be the iconic pictures of Churchill. Cigar clamped in his jaw, looking determined as he faces down the war time threat to Britain’s freedom. Perhaps the victory sign raised to cheering crowds after VE Day? Churchill is the symbol of British tenacity in the face of great threat. But there were many sides to Churchill’s character including great sensitivity.
I recently had the pleasure of reading Winston Churchill's book Painting as a Pastime. It is a short book, but reveals a side of Churchill that few have appreciated. That a figure of such magnitude would write about painting says much about his character and the virtues of art.
In 1915 Churchill faced an uncertain political future. He was at his lowest ebb after a few unsuccessful years in the military. He found himself sidelined and depressed. It was at this juncture, in his early forties that he decided to try painting for the first time. Churchill took to painting with, in his own words, great audacity.
With the help of an artist friend Churchill learned how to defeat the tyranny of a white canvas. Churchill would administer “several large, fierce strokes” with a large brush on the cowering canvas. He never felt in awe of a canvas since then. No fiddling with little brushes with a meek heart. Get stuck in and enjoy the release that painting brings to mind and soul
Churchill had a strong attraction to oil painting over watercolor. The versatility and power of oils appealed to his nature. Plus Churchill appreciated that mistakes could be adjusted or even scraped away with ease. A point I can endorse!
Churchill sought to achieve a balance between work and play long before this idea became trendy. Painting was the ideal distraction from the demands of politics. The right-brain remedy of painting was essential to his effectiveness as a leader. There is no doubt that Churchill needed painting to save him from a difficult time in his life. Plus painting restored his energies when he faced the extraordinary demands of wartime leadership.
Painting helped Churchill enjoy nature more.
“I think this heightened sense of observation of Nature is one of the chief delights that have come to me through trying to paint.”
Painting outdoors delighted Churchill: “Go out into the sunlight and be happy with what you see.”
Was there any better way to keep occupied than painting?
“Armed with a paint-box, one cannot be bored, one cannot be left at a loose end, one cannot have several days on one’s hands.”
It is interesting to note Churchill's fascination with impressionism and post-impressionists. Remember that these movements were still new in the 1920’s. Churchill loved strong color and bold shapes. He said that artists like Manet, Monet, Cezanne and Matisse “have brought back to the pictorial art a new draught of joie de vivre.”
Painting was not only about enjoyment for Churchill. He appreciated the health benefits to body and mind too.
“What a useful exercise painting may be for the development of an accurate and retentive memory.”
What better way to distract a troubled mind than painting.
“I know of nothing which, without exhausting the body, more entirely absorbs the mind. Whatever the worries of the hour or threats of the future, once the picture has begun to flow there is no room for them in the mental screen”
“Happy are the painters, for they never shall be lonely: light and colour; peace and hope will keep them company to the end –or almost to the end of the day.”
Winston Churchill became an accomplished painter producing over 500 paintings. He also exhibited at the British Royal Academy. If Churchill could find the time to paint then we all can.
This short book reminded me that even in these cynical times painting is a wonderful cure for the mind and spirit for all ages. For example children can express their creativity away from gadgets. What about stressed executives, those facing boredom, middle-age angst or old age worries? Painting will help. But don’t take my word for it. Take it from Winston Churchill and get yourself a paint-box today.
Another year and the National Arts Festival 2015 draws to a close this weekend. I was fortunate to have spent a few days at the festival once again. What a treat it is for the senses. A few days of pure escapism. We can be grateful that South Africa has so many arts festivals, but this one is the original and still going strong.
Another thing to be grateful for is that in this crazy world filled with economic mess and strife it is the arts that unites us. No really it is something to be grateful for. The arts is a liberating medium that brings out the best in us. Our creative spirit.