In sport and art, the path to improvement involves physical, mental & emotional elements.
The spark of belief limits can be surpassed fuels the fire.
For some, that means bumping up training, nutrition, seeking coaches, new materials, new environment, genres or sport, moving or taking up a new hobby to unlock ultimate potential. Change can spur growth, even if it’s not directly related.
For others, the search is internal, reflecting inward, seeking a different kind of mentor.
Ironman triathlete Mark Allen’s compelling story “Fit Body, Fit Soul” credits his success to recognizing the power of spiritual and emotional health. Shaman Brant Secunda helped him tap into his internal power, enormously impacting Allen’s career and life.
Artist Emily Carr’s work dramatically changed at the age of 58. Until then, historians dubbed her work mediocre at best. What happened? Most of the credit goes to her meeting Lismer, Harris and members of the famous Group of Seven. Her letters corresponding with Harris still exist.
A little sleuthing uncovered a unique series of events that I think also fueled this change.
Feeling frustrated with her own work, nearly penniless, giving up painting for over a decade, Carr took up pottery and opened a rooming house for funds. A call from the National Gallery had her traveling east, but before she took her long train ride, she was sent a book, on the new ‘modern’ painting. It included work the Group were doing. She had heard stories about modern painting, and was CURIOUS.
Key: Frustration and curiosity can fuel passion. It exhibits wanting to improve and open mindedness to learn.
Carr’s curiosity peaked after reading on the long train ride east.
Away from her rainforest and experiencing new places,( change of environment) meeting peers,( sense of community) like the Group,( mentors) and being asked to exhibit in the National gallery,( confidence).
I personally believe all fed her fire to return to the easel with hope, knowledge and inspiration, and perhaps happenstance meetings had a dramatic impact on how she worked and her style.
It’s in this same period that happened to meet Georgia O’Keefe, saw and exhibit by Arthur Dove, and another artist who’s bold style caught her interest.
O’Keefe apparently did large sketches with inexpensive supplies. It’s possible, O’Keefe shared her process with Carr. Some believe, this sparked Carr to creating brilliant sketches known today.
This is a critical point in artistic freedom & creativity. Carr was low on funds. The fear of ruining good supplies strikes most professional artists. This fear can override taking creative risks, and stall progress.
Carr writes about her sudden joyful freedom to ’sketch’ with cheap housepaint, mixed with gasoline on inexpensive newsprint. Her creative fire no longer stamped out by fear of not having supplies to explore, her brushstrokes and style evolved. Coupled with encouragement from the Group of Seven, corresponding with them, exploring exhibits of other artists and the internal drive to evolve her work, at the age of 58, she did just that.
Some say artistic vision dropped out of the sky and into her lap. I say, she was a spunky, knowledge seeking, forest loving, thou perhaps at times cranky ( who wouldn’t be breathing in gasoline in confined spaces?) individual.
Advice in art can be contradictory. Loosen up your stroke, tighten up areas, bold colour, less colour, more value, be free with stroke and composition, be a careful with your brushstrokes & make them count.
So it goes.
Perhaps the solution in any journey to improvement & success, is to find balance. Change spurs improvement, courage feeds confidence, open mindedness offers room for growth. Community can bolster mood, collectors encourage, peers may inspire.Mentor, spiritual guide, or coach, may help with your brushstroke, run splits, or personal evolvement.
Listen externally with an open mind, internally with an open heart. Know when to quiet the noise,retreat to your sanctuary and instincts. Remain steadfast in your pursuit, dwell in possibility and reach for the stars. You might just surprise yourself, and add years to your life.
I am writing you from a borrowed laptop after experiencing a complete crash of my own.
In midst of completing several months of work in an art presentation, my tech world went black.
I have hopefully, temporarily lost your contact info/ research photos/ and my entire presentation, along with the name of an artist that happened along in Carr’s career.
The silver lining, I chose this week away from tech stuff to be uninhibited with my creative exploration, continuing to reach for what lies shimmering beneath the surface. Hope you enjoy the new work. I still have access to update Instagram, Linked IN, and email. I would love to hear from you.
Inspirational Song on repeat this week in the studio: “Storm Comin” by the Wailing Jenny’s.
New Work: Windswept Tree – 60×40 Oil on canvas
Prairie Skies 1&2 – both 16×20 acrylic ( #1 shown on left in double photo-# 2 – shows progress to final pic with tools. possibly still in progress. :0)