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Entries in artists (4)


Visual Jazz

There was an invitation to the studio, permission to choose whatever colors drew him and to slap them on acrylic with the beautiful unselfconsciousness of an almost-four-year old.

I could learn something from you, Chris said to Ezra.


I witness it every day, unselfconsciousness being one of the primary gifts of early childhood, but damn if I can imagine how to embody it.

For Ezra there was the thrill of spray paint and color and tools.  He was reserved but alert, as he tends to be.

For me there was the pleasure of pulling back the curtain on something unusual and special,

of receiving kindness from a new friend,

of watching a kind of visual jazz unfold in front of me.


Gutsy: Interview with an Artist

This is Christopher Owen Nelson, a painter and the subject of a short film a friend and colleague is making.  My friend asked me if I would interview Chris for the film and what followed was a coffee-fueled two hour conversation about how he knew he had to be an artist, what inspires him, his process, and the similarities between art making and fly fishing. 

Chris has created a technique of carving and painting sheets of acrylic into vivid images of the natural world. There are a lot of trees in his work, and he told me that he thinks of painting them as portraits rather than landscapes.  You've probably noticed by now how much I love both portraits and trees so this whole idea basically made me tingle.

Even in a weekend of snowy Colorado fun this stood out as a highlight for me.

I don't want to scoop the film, so I won't spoil too much about the conversation here.  But I will share this: we talked about what it looks like when gutsy shows up in your heart, studio, work.  Since I often get paralyzed in the thinking part of, well, everything, this part of his response struck me:

At some point, you just can't go around thinking your whole life.  You've got to pour some resin into a mold.  You've got to rip something out.

You've just go to do.  Do.


More doing.  Less thinking.  It was on my list of intentions for the year.  Here it is, showing up again.

What does gutsy look like for you?


On Becoming an Artist

I have never thought of myself as an artist.  A creative, yes.  But perhaps more of a creative technician, taking other people's visions and breathing life into them.  I remember talking to my father years ago about what artists are (he knows a lot of them) and he said, well, I know this: an artist is somebody who creates because they can't not create.

Hmmm...  Seems true, I thought.  But it doesn't sound like me.

Part of doing creative work that's client-based, which is what I do professionally, is that you learn not to get too attached to it.  There comes a point in every project where you have to let your vision go in support of their vision.  They're the client.  It's their baby at the end of the day.

But this idea of being an artist still tugged at me.  Do you think of yourself as an artist? I asked a colleague I love and respect, on a work trip one night at a hotel bar in suburban Houston.  I was surprised when he said yes.  I felt so far away from that.

I started taking pictures and, at some point, began to think of myself as someone who takes pictures.  The word photographer still got stuck in my throat.  But something happened as I neared the end of my 365 project, and as I was putting together my video and looking back through the pictures I thought huh, it looks like a photographer made this.

I didn't have time to take any pictures last week, and by the time the weekend rolled around I felt like a caged animal.  I just needed to take my camera and go on a walk.  Maybe that's a sign.  I told Kim Klassen that I'm tip-toeing up to permission to think of myself as an artist.  She got very excited, and pointed me to this post in which she writes about her experience of becoming an artist.  She says that being an artist introduced her to a world in which anything was possible.  I thought yeah, I want that to be me!

I talked to my friend Kelly, an artist in Austin, yesterdayI said, I think I might be becoming an artist.

WHAT??? she said. You are already an artist.  I have known this forever.  I am the creator and president of the Corinna-is-an-amazing-artist fan club!  I'm SO GLAD you've finally decided to join us.

I don't know if Kelly is creating membership cards for this club, but if she does, I imagine they'll look something like this:Jen Lemen gave us these at Camp, but I didn't know what to ask permission for yet.I don't know how my life will change when I cross over into being an artist, but I feel like I'm right there, oh so close and I can almost taste it.


Any of you guys want to give me a hint?  If you're an artist, what does it mean to you?  Is it important to see yourself that way?  What happens when you claim that identity? 


Launch Party

166.365 18mm f3.5 1/20 ISO 1600We knew it was going to be a cool party when this sexy little narrow alleyway delivered us into the art gallery.  It was the long-anticipated launch party for DENY Designs' Bling Box, a jewelry box (hint: it does not involve a twirling ballerina) and highly functional piece of art.  It definitely ranks up there among the coolest things ever created by someone I actually know.  I am rooting for these guys to succeed, big time.

I would have been rooting for them on sheer principle of course.  But when Dustin and Kim asked me to be one of their participating artists in the project I was honored.  There are some really amazing artists creating cover art for these boxes and it was a thrill to see my work next to theirs.  (That's one of my boxes at the bottom left of this picture.)

I don't mean to turn this space into advertising, but these things are really, really cool.  Know someone with a collection of chunky bangles, dangly earrings and tangled necklaces?  This right up their alley.