One of the most rewarding things about teaching art workshops is the wonder of how unique artistic talent is to each individual. I don’t teach workshops where everybody expects to paint the same thing and have them all come out looking like a row of cookie cutter canvases. The freedom for each artist to express what is inside themselves makes for constant surprises. It is truly rewarding to watch personal expression reveal itself through art. It is like a window into the soul what might otherwise stay hidden from the outside world. The cookie cutter can’t unmask the heart. The heart of all art is in the freedom of allowing each individual to bring out their own personal inner light.
Changeable artistic expression is a great way to experiment with what is inside working its way out. One day the feeling may be one of quiet, of solitude and the art that is made will reflect that. A maple leaf painted with slow, painstaking detail comes from the still quiet heart. Another day when the fall wind is crisp but the sun is breaking through the clouds bringing a light heartedness depicted with a few quick swishes of bright color on the page. Instantly, joy pops out for the world to see. (Let’s Make Art can show you how to do these!) There are as many ways to depict maple leaves as there are artists ready to depict. And as many maple leaves as there are ways to capture their essence through art.
One artist chooses the softness and gentle color changes of a sweet gum leaf with its starfish-like structure. She expresses silence and an inner choice of order and attention to structure. God’s amazing creation in fine detail. While another artist decides to go for bold bright color in a “larger than life” oak leaf hydrangea. Two different artists, two different leaves, two different approaches. We would never see this beautiful expression of uniqueness if we were all painting the same exact thing, exactly alike.
Last Saturday at Watkins College of Art at Belmont University, in Nashville, Tennessee, our workshop focused on painting fall leaves and flowers. We decided to go foraging around the campus to see what sparked our imaginations. Oprah Winfrey is quoted as saying, “You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way can illuminate the world.” Giving artists the freedom to let the sparks be lit is a wondrous thing. You never know what might be expressed. Every little bit of expressed light means that much less darkness. While I am there to give direction and impart knowledge of skills to use, my biggest job is to stand back out of the way when the light starts shining! And that is a thing of beauty!
This rolling bar has patrons pedaling around the streets of Nashville while drinking themselves into oblivion. I don’t think the guy on the back is pulling his weight in the first pic. The others don’t seem to notice. Maybe they’ve had too much already! I hope the bartender is keeping them on the road in a straight line! The second group doesn’t look so far gone yet.
The Cherry Trees are blooming all around Nashville and today the weather is beautiful. Its time to go out and play after the long cold winter we have had this year. An uninvited guest made an appearance in a couple of these shots. He must be ready to go out and play too!
Step out of the busy stressful everyday life for a drive through Percy Warner Park in the Fall. Feed the Soul. Prime the pump with inspiration. The one-way road winds around a hill to the top then down again. The dense trees of the forest surrounding the road are changing and putting on their fall colors. Breathe in the cool autumn air. Smell the scents of the woods. Enjoy!
“Cross Creek belongs to the wind and rain, to the sun and the seasons, to the cosmic secrecy of seed, and beyond all, to time.” Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
There’s a place in Nashville far enough off the tourist path to remain an oasis for nature lovers and others seeking relief from the hectic pace of the daily rat race. To go there is to breathe in the scent of the flora and fauna of the woods without leaving the city. A bit of the rejuvenation coming only from Mother Nature is just a short distance from the rush hour traffic of the nearby interstate. Radnor Lake is a slice of enchantment to feed the create soul while remaining in the city.
Taking Granny White Pike toward the lake, between the old stacked -stone walls built by soldiers during the Battle of Nashville is a beautiful drive beneath towering oaks. The turn onto Otter Creek Road leads to the small parking area designated for visitors to the lake. Leaving the car and starting out up the short hill to the road beside the lake is to step into another world. The trees are a canopy overhead shading the walk. Leaves scattered over the road crunch under foot. Birds chirping replace the sounds of traffic. The woods become an enveloping blanket leaving the busyness of life behind.
Other people are present but scattered enough to keep the feeling of being in the woods from dissolving. And the people of Radnor Lake are a very respectful bunch, all seeming to have entered into the spiritual presence of a pristine natural world. The occasional bit of laughter rings out or the delighted scream of a child at the site of a scurrying chipmunk can be heard but otherwise voices do not pierce the stillness of the woods.
While ascending the hill to the lake road the other day, I spotted a man standing very quietly looking up into the woods. He was not moving a muscle. As I approached, I realized he was watching something in the woods. I slowed my pace and searched for what he was seeing. A family approaching from the other direction, stopped as well, and peered into the trees. We soon saw what the man was watching. A white tailed deer and her two almost grown babies were coming down out of the woods to cross the road to the creek below the lake. We all stood momentarily transfixed by the sight, as the deer family walked peaceably by the humans not ten feet away without a care and disappeared into the woods again on the other side. The group of humans then dispersed and walked on. The children completely quiet and still as the deer family passed, resumed their happy skipping and chatter. It was a momentary shared spiritual experience.
Radnor Lake is a place I go for soul nourishment. The trees, flowers, birds and other wildlife bring on a magical contentment. Looking out over the lake is a peaceful sight. Passing photographers and binocular-welding bird watchers along the walk, I know others are finding food for the soul, as well. Like Cross Creek, Radnor Lake belongs, “beyond all, to time.” We all need the Radnor Lake/Cross Creek places to soothe and feed our creative selves.
The fall Art and Craft fairs are in full swing now. Who decides whether it is Art or Craft? Are there a set of rules that say this is craft and that is art? The debate has raged on and on with no definitive answers. A search turns up numerous articles and forums on the subject.
Attending the Tennessee Arts and Crafts Fair in Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee yesterday, I walked around with this idea in mind. Could I distinguish which was which? Sometimes. More often, items seemed to be both.
The blog, Divine Caroline has an article written by Mary Francis. Francis says, “This entire discussion is particularly touchy in an artistic world where a lot of the products can be gasp useful (like quilts, or wearable art or jewelry) but does its use and technique demean it as art? Personally, I don’t think so.” Maybe it is in the eye of the beholder.
The lines between art and craft are very blurry at times. It is and, perhaps, always will be a matter of opinion. You be the judge.
Ceramic artist David Gurney talks about the difference on a You Tube video here