Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gift

"The Gift"
©J Licsko 03 14"x10", oil on canvas

 After reading the earlier post of my 15 Rules For Courting the Artist's Muse, artist Gail Sauter, brought to my attention the YouTube video of Elizabeth Gilbert's speech at a TED convention,  A New Way to Think About Creativity.  Elizabeth suffers from performance anxiety.  She has achieved great success with her last book Eat, Pray, Love and fears she will not earn the same respect with her next books.

Creating for oneself is hugely different than creating for a boss, to earn praise, to be the best, and so on.  Even though one's next rent check may be dependent on one's creativity, we must proceed as though it is of no concern.  Many of our most creative artists lived without sufficient support.  Van Gogh is the classic example, producing honest, and enlightened work that was ahead of his audience, and wouldn't be appreciated until much later.  Conversely, too much success, too fast, can cause serious self doubt which in turn will often push the artist towards artificial support in the form of drugs, alcohol, and destructive company.

Performance anxiety comes from the end result taking precedence over the joy of the creative experience.  Trying to create work superior to previous accomplishments is different from the inner knowing while you are in the act of creating that this is your best work yet.

Elizabeth reaches a high point in her retelling of poet Ruth Stone's story of how Ruth recognized her muse, how she fought to hold on to it.  It is charming, well told, and valuable in understanding the ephemeral nature of inspiration.

Gilbert touches on some interesting points and offers us food for thought.  She will settle down one day when she turns off the outside influence of accolades, opinion, and critique, turns off the inside influence of fear, self doubt, and negative thinking.  Maybe then, she will respect her own voice.  Maybe then, she will return to what she had before - a desire or need to write for herself.  Maybe then, she will feel the presence of her muse in what ever form it comes.  She will come to have faith in herself, and faith in the inborn gift we all share... to create.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New Inspiration, New Paintings.

"Antique Bicycle #3 
© J Licsko 09   4"x4" oil on canvas

"Antique Bicycle
 #2 © J Licsko 09  4"x4" oil on canvas

Sometimes the muse comes in the form of an external event.  
I am fortunate to be juried into a new open studios facility called Studios on the Park. Our studios are opening for the first time the day the Amgen Cycling Tour passes through our lovely Paso Robles here in Central Coast California.  The population will more than double this Thursday and everyone is excited.  Many of the "studio" artists responded to the invitation to paint bicycle inspired works to honor our visitors.
 I have painted several miniatures only 4 inches square and I will show them here over the next few days. The pleasure and lessons learned from doing these paintings came from following my Attracting the Muse rule #7, say yes.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Lesson From My Muse

"Illustrated Woman"  ©JLicsko 07, 5"x7" oil on canvas

Vicki and I would have been wise to use better judgement when we rowed her small boat out to meet a group of young Canadian Navy seamen sun tanning on a float not too far off the shore. We were innocent but curious 15 year-olds .  One very handsome young man had little twin devils tattooed one each pectoral muscle.  His image eventually faded away, but the little devils are indelibly inked on my mind.
As tattoos have become more and more mainstream (4o % of people between the ages of 26 and 40 have tattoos - I have been fascinated to watch growing numbers of people who use their bodies as canvas, expressing themselves through ink.  
My muse, Hillary, with her arms bared, walked in front of me on her way into a video rental store last summer. Concerned with the possibility that the tattooed may look at the non- tattooed with a similar contempt that they often feel directed towards them, I followed her into the store. I gave her my card assuring her I was a legitimate artist, promising that I would present her in the most positive manner.  She was difficult to catch, as muses can be.  I was excited to begin the painting, but several months passed before she called. 
Hilary is a young woman with a busy life.  I took as many photos of her as she had time for but the location and lack of natural light produced very few usable images. We talked about rescheduling but after a couple of months, I started with what I had. 
This painting became an example of two muses working together. The muse incarnate, Hilary, and my internal muse who manipulated circumstances to force this painting to manifest. Sometimes, when the work of art you have in your mind does not come together, it could be that if you will allow another to come through it may be very satisfying.
My high energy friend Vicki was destined for stardom and in her adult life is Canada's favorite talk show host Vicki Gabereau.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Reluctant Muse

"Portrait" © J. Licsko 01, 
14"x20" oil on linen

This painting, I have always said, is unfinished.  I wanted to add more detail to the hair.  This portrait of a young woman is the first painting that was inspired by the sight of the model. She was a true muse in the physical sense, my first, that I was conscious of.  I saw her while I was standing at a checkout counter.
My inner voice said "She would make a beautiful painting".  I try to respect other's privacy, and it is difficult for me to ask a stranger for anything. This time, I ran after her. She seemed rather aloof and distrusting as she should be.  Probably most young women, have had men approach and tell them they should be a model.  Knowing that, I wrote my name and phone number on a piece of paper and asked her to please call me if she was willing.
A few days later, she was in my studio. She brought a friend for safety and perhaps a little moral support.  The afternoon I took photographs of her was the last time I saw her. I called her to tell her the painting was almost finished.  She expressed little interest in seeing it, and she never has.
I now know the painting is finished. It is what it is. A portrait that is the essence of Anna, my first muse.