Books, Publishing, and the Creative Life

Posts tagged ‘art’

Everything is Art, and Art is Everything

time 1Despite the No WHINING sign above my desk, sometimes I silently mourn the lack of time for my personal projects–artwork and writing.

My job as a publisher, where I constantly work on other people’s projects, takes many hours a day. And there’s yard work. I love being outdoors, but does the grass really need to grow half an inch per day? Seems like I live on a lawnmower during the summer months.

And, I donate many hours as president of the Lawrence County Art Association, furthering the cause of art in general. I donate time to our church. I spend quality time with my husband and Time 2family. Valued friendships need cultivating. I swim every chance I get, to stay healthy and sane.  The leftover time goes to my artwork and writing.

I know other people grapple with the same issues, and I’m more fortunate than most. In fact, I’m incredibly blessed. Therefore, I try viewing this frustration from a different perspective. I tell myself everything I do can be creative, from mowing grass to washing dishes. It’s all LIFE.  Everything we do influences our creative voice and the art we will eventually create.

This may not be obvious at first, but everyday issues accumulate, reach critical mass, and turn into ART.  When I mow the grass, my subconscious mind is gathering bits and pieces of information. While washing dishes, I watch birds at the feeder and feel the water on my hands. I notice how our drinking glasses gleam in the sunlight. I’m creating memories for my writing and mind-pictures for painting.

All of it becomes part of my unique vision.

There’s no such thing as a part time artist or writer. Everything we do in life counts as art!  And now, I need to go paint something. . . time 3

 

 

A great investment for writers

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

 

 

 

Creativity and Our Inner Stories

I’m convinced that a creative life helps keep us sane, or at least able to function in this crazy world.  Along those lines, I recently read a book by psychotherapist Philippa Perry called How to Stay Sane. Perry contends we are all storytellers, and each of us has an inner story. Some of us (writers and other artists) feel compelled to share those stories.

storytelling 1 “We are primed to use stories. Part of our survival as a species depended upon listening to the stories of our tribal elders as they shared parables and passed down their experience and the wisdom of those who went before. As we get older it is our short-term memory that fades rather than our long-term memory. Perhaps we have evolved like this so that we are able to tell the younger generation about the stories and experiences that have formed us which may be important to subsequent generations if they are to thrive.

“I worry, though, about what might happen to our minds if most of the stories we hear are about greed, war and atrocity.”

As writers and artists, do we have a responsibility to lift and improve the world, instead of adding to the chaos and darkness?  Yes, we may need to include darkness as part of our stories, but we don’t have to stay there. And that goes for our personal lives as well.

As Perry says, “Be careful which stories you expose yourself to. The meanings you find, and the stories you hear, will have an impact on how storyteller 2optimistic you are: it’s how we evolved. … If you do not know how to draw positive meaning from what happens in life, the neural pathways you need to appreciate good news will never fire up.

Optimism does not mean continual happiness, glazed eyes and a fixed grin. When I talk about the desirability of optimism I do not mean that we should delude ourselves about reality. But practicing optimism does mean focusing more on the positive fall-out of an event than on the negative. … I am not advocating the kind of optimism that means you blow all your savings on a horse running at a hundred to one; I am talking about being optimistic enough to sow some seeds in the hope that some of them will germinate and grow into flowers.”

Here’s to a happier, more creative world for all of us!

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

About Sammie Justesen

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A new review of Dialogue for Writers

This book delivers. If you are a writer, you’ll find a wealth of information and insight that will allow you to assess your style and discover practical ways to make good writing better.
Even popular published authors can benefit from this book. For instance, I am a Stephenie Meyer fan. She is a master of her genre, but if she had read Sammie Justesen’s book, Edward would not have”snickered” and “chuckled” so much that these particular dialogue tags became annoying and distracting. Sammie Justesen’s book offers great advice from a number of perspectives including the all-important publisher’s perspective. I have no hesitation in rating it a five-star book.

 

The Art of Seeing With Joyce Hicks

Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision. It is the seeing of the thing that makes it so. –Charles Webster Hawthorne

Joyce Hicks bookJoyce Hicks, my favorite watercolor artist has just released her first book: Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes: Transform Ordinary Places into Extraordinary Scenes.  I eagerly awaited Joyce’s book and was fortunate to receive a review copy from the publisher.  However, I’d already purchased a book before the review copy arrived, because I couldn’t wait any longer.

Art is my escape from writing and publishing.  When I can’t stand one more minute in front of the computer screen, I head for the studio and let watercolors soothe my spirit.  There’s something magical about watching wet paint blend on fine cotton paper, granulating and flowing into extraordinary colors and shapes.  I can choose to control it, or not.   I can paint an actual scene or let the paint go where it will.

Joyce Hicks has a special gift for transforming scenes.  She will detect special elements in an ordinary looking barn surrounded by overgrown bushes.  She snaps an unremarkable photo and then uses paint, brushes, and her imagination to create a captivating scene.

Isn’t that what great writers do?  Both the pen and the brush capture our imaginations.  We change scenes to fit our own view of the world, and sometimes we’re able to transmit that magic to our viewers and readers.  That’s why we work so hard to perfect our technique in writing, art, dance, theater, and all other creative endeavors.  What we end up with isn’t always pretty, but it’s real.

In her book, Joyce says, “ I think the art of seeing has been lost because there are so many distractions in today’s world. It is pure joy when we really begin to see and feel beauty, and if we slow down enough, maybe we can attempt to describe it.” Joyce’s tips for artists fit any medium of self- expression. (I have added the parentheses)

  • Perseverance and determination are traits far more important than any talent you may possess.
  • The most common mistake artists (and writers) make as beginners is to follow the natural tendency to try to say too much . . .  Doing so leads to confusion and overshadows the piece’s main message.
  • Fear of failure blocks the way to bold, confident statements.
  • It is not enough to simply want to paint beautiful pictures; you must also arm yourself with necessary skills and knowledge. . .
  • As your skill and experience grow, you learn to eliminate unnecessary clutter from your work.
  • If you want to create a work of art, exaggerate  your feelings for the subject and paint (or write) ideas instead of things. . . . use your imagination to uncover hidden potential.

Demonstrations

How-to art books contain photos of the artist’s work with demonstrations and instructions. I’ve seen many how-to books that leave out vital steps in the process.  Either the publisher had to eliminate steps to save space, or

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the author doesn’t want to reveal her special secrets to the masses.  Either way, an artist finds those demonstrations hard to follow.  I’ve sent back several art books  because I was unhappy with the demonstrations.

Not so with Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes.  In this book, Joyce shares twelve of her finest paintings and shows exactly how to recreate them.  The goal is to help each artist develop confidence and find a personal style.  Her teaching reflects deep concern for readers and fellow artists.

About Joyce Hicks

Joyce Hicks May 20

A demo for this painting is included in the book.

Joyce instructs national and international workshops and acts as judge and juror for watercolor exhibitions. Her paintings have received wide recognition through various shows and awards and she is a Signature Member and three time award winner of the prestigious American Watercolor Society. Numerous books and publications have featured her paintings and written articles about her work. She resides in a light-filled Texas home with her husband Larry and little dog, Sassie.

Painting Beautiful Watercolor Landscapes is everything I hope for in an art book.  If you’re a watercolor artist, I recommend you place this book at the top of your list.  If you’re considering watercolor, Joyce’s book will inspire you.  

About Sammie Justesen

Sammie Justesen is a publisher and the author of Dialogue for Writers, released in May, 2014.

A great investment for writers

A great investment for writers

She is also an artist and president of the Lawrence County Art Association.

A recent review of Dialogue for Writers

What I left with after reading Sammie’s book is a brain swimming with ideas she has generously shared based on her years of experience in all aspects of the industry. She shows us, not just tells us, with style, humor and an easy, comfortable voice. Her examples bring the points to life. Sammie indeed practices what she preaches, and shares with us as reader and writer a fun to read and handy compilation based on experience and insight.   –Gin Getz, author of The Color of the Wild and The Last of the Living Blue

 

 

Bar Bands, Books, and Art

rock n rollMy brother Bill is a part-time musician who began playing bass guitar when we were in high school back in the late 60s.  Music has been his hobby for years, and right now he’s on a quest to join a new band. It seems finding the perfect band is akin to seeking the Holy Grail. His stories about huge egos and eccentric behavior fueled by alcohol could easily fill a book. Yes, musicians are crazy.   

 An email from him this morning struck a chord: “A lot of these band people are such idiots.  They are so particular. I even saw an ad where they wanted guys in their band to have certain tattoos! Unbelievably unrealistic about finding the perfect people. There’s a guy on the south side who’s been running an ad for a bass player for about five months. I applied but didn’t quite fit his specifications.  His project is one that’ll never get out of the basement. But, you can’t tell them that. They can’t see it.”

Aha! I thought. He could be talking about writers.  So many writers come up with ideas that will never appeal to the public. When we, the publisher, try to tactfully say this, the authors are shocked. Some of them respond with insults, which is why we stopped writing detailed rejection notes.  I know we’re stepping on their dreams, and I know that hurts. Like musicians and artists, writers are dreamers.

Hey, it’s good to dream, but if we want to actually SELL those dreams, we must be practical as well.  I run into exactly the same issues with my painting. An artist friend of mine creates rustic painted saws that sell like crazy at a local state park.  She was lucky to find a niche that works for her. I’m still trying to balance what I like to paint versus what art lovers want to hang on their walls.  And sometimes art just needs to match the  #$#% furniture.

Getting back to music: Bill says, “It doesn’t matter to bar owners whether the music is any good. If a band can bring 50 customers into a bar, they’ll always be able to get gigs.”  That’s true for artists and writers as well.  Bring lots of people with checkbooks into an art gallery and they’ll let you have your own show.  Develop a loyal following of readers, and publishers will come looking for you.

It’s all about business, you see.

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