Start with the bigger picture and worry about the details later

Recently I’ve been learning about composition in creating two dimensional art. It’s not just about how the objects relate to each other, it’s also about how the artist relates to the objects.

The first step is to decide which components of a setting are interesting and intriguing enough to be a part of the composition, then you have to think about how much space you have and how to go about making the most of it.

We’re given an entire canvas to fill so there’s no sense in leaving uninteresting blank spaces around the subject matter.

Once we know what we want to include and maybe more importantly why we want to include them it’s time to start putting things into position  – loosely defining the shapes, locations, and relationships between the objects within the composition.

It’s tempting (for me anyway) to concentrate on one part of a drawing in an attempt to perfect it’s shape and dimension without regard to the larger picture and how it relates to it’s neighbors.

The interesting thing about art is that even the spaces and shapes between the objects are a part of the story and give clues to the artist about the relationships between the objects.

One of my biggest obstacles and sticking points when it comes to drawing is overcoming the desire to draw what I think I should see vs what is really in front of me.

Today’s art class started on time and as usual the small group of students surrounded the subject matter with easels, paints, and pencils. My seat was at an angle which presented a challenge for me.

When I look at something that I know is circular in shape from a head-on perspective that’s how I want to draw it. It’s hard for me to draw the perfect circle as a squished hoop even though that’s how it really looks from my vantage point.

But after some guidance I figured out how to do it. And I began to grasp an understanding of why it’s important to start with the larger shapes and relationships and refine them without immediately jumping into the detail.

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Composing art is actually a lot like life. We often-times get bogged down in the details and worry too much about making one particular aspect of our life “perfect” before moving on.

When we take a step back and consider the entire picture and all that life has to offer, it becomes easier to envision the shape we want things to take and how the different aspects of our life fit together.

My drawing isn’t finished, but there’s a sense of direction and a feeling of progress.

The details are the finishing touches not the starting point.

I Choose to Excel

I choose to Excel

One of the first personal essays I remember writing was about the definition of success. As many idealistic teenagers do, I challenged traditional ways success is measured and questioned whether or not money and material things equal happiness. I’m sure it wasn’t, but at the time I thought the writing was brilliant and wise beyond my years.

I’ve waged a quiet and strange rebellion against the notion of personal achievement for a very long time.

Our society expects us to make life choices at a very young age. We also live in a world that encourages young people to put their hobbies and interests on hold so they can buckle down and focus on “what’s important in life.” Don’t get me wrong, earning a living and providing for yourself and your family is important. I just sometimes wonder if we do so at the expense of excelling at who we truly are as human beings.

In some ways I regret that I didn’t discover my inner writer and artist until later in life, in other ways it’s probably a blessing. I’m fortunate enough to have had the option to pursue and do well in a business career. It’s been a wild and very strange ride. Looking back, I can’t help but think that I worked too many hours and had my eye on the wrong goal.

Actually, I’m not even sure if I had a goal in mind other than to advance to the next rung on the corporate ladder. Truth to be told, I climbed each rung with hesitation. I’ve come to realize that my qualms about taking that next step were twofold.

I secretly knew that I could do the job, but was afraid that becoming “bigger” would change the way people viewed me. In my mind, there was a risk of being seen as either conceited or foolish, two traits no one wants in a friend. There was also a fear that that I would be forever trapped living a lie instead of following my dream.

I have to admit that there was a fundamental problem; I didn’t know what my dream was. You can’t expect to be able to follow your dreams if you don’t know what they are and can’t articulate them.

It’s also difficult at best to excel at something you’re not passionate about.

There are more than a few things in my business world that honestly excite, amaze, and motivate me; but the time I spend on my creative writing and art brings me far more joy and satisfaction.

The harsh reality is that the left side of my brain (the logical business minded side) is in a much better position to pay the rent and buy groceries than the artistic side of my brain is. And we all know that it can be difficult at best to achieve financial security, let alone prosperity through a career in art.

So the question is this – How do I follow my passion, become financially secure, and also have money and time left over to have fun and find a way to contribute to the community?

Through Julia Cameron’s teachings I have come to understand and appreciate that the world isn’t an “either/or” one. There are artists of all kinds who earn a living by working a day job and pursue their craft on the side. Some are eventually able to devote themselves to their passion full time, but most do not.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to work with a personal coach, I thought the sessions would help me define my business goals and map out a plan for success. When I wrote my “dream” statement, not a single word about my business came out of my head.

My Dream

I have a dream, and my dream is to become a published author with books in multiple genres. The most important one to me is entitled “A Leap of Faith, an Artist’s Journey into the Light.”

It is a story of discovery; it is my story of self-discovery and coming into my own. It will be inspiring to people who think it is too late for them and for people who have similar feelings about themselves as I do, but don’t have the words with which to express their thoughts.

I am driven to write because I want to be of service to others, I want to help young people make good choices and I want to help people at any stage of life realize that they can change, they can recover and soar. I particularly want to help women understand that they can be care-givers without giving up their identity, the importance of being in positive relationships, and we are all stronger than we know.

I want to teach and inspire, I want to help, I want to change the world and make it a better place. My dream is to do so through my writing, I will make people laugh, make them cry, help them feel, and make them think. I have experienced and survived things that should be shared in a way that will be helpful to others. I have the talent, I have the drive, and I now have the conviction to pursue my dreams and write my first book and many more.

A few months after defining my dream in words, I chose to put “A Leap of Faith” aside so I could focus on building a business. It was the practical and right thing to do.

Recent conversations with a new connection in my business world have made me realize that I’d lost sight of my dream have also been selling myself short career-wise. Over the past couple of weeks, my vision is beginning to take shape again and surprisingly it’s also growing bigger.

It’s time to do redraw the boundaries within which I’m living and release my fears about becoming bigger. The time has come to really define the dream and turn wishes into actions.

I choose to Excel

We Create Our Own Reality

I Create My Reality

What do Mahatma Gandhi and Ray Kinsella, the character played by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, have in common?  One man is real, of great historical significance, and influenced people around the world. The other is a fictional character who hears “a voice,” builds a baseball field in the middle of his farm in a film which is described as fantasy-drama.

Gandhi stood firm in his conviction that the British would leave India, Ray Kinsella followed his instincts and did something that seemed crazy.  We all know people who have achieved great things that have nothing to do with being famous or wealthy.

From everyday heroes to world leaders the thing they have in common is that they were not only brave enough to have a dream, they believed in it, they followed it, they inspired people, and they made it happen. I’m sure that even Gandhi had a restless night or two and felt doubt creep in between his head and the pillow, but when morning arrived he was true to his beliefs and didn’t waiver in his pursuits.

On a much smaller and maybe more practical scale, what they do is what I like to think of as creating their own reality, which for me means choosing to look at things in a positive way and not from a negative perspective. If the thoughts that are constantly going through our minds are things such as:

  • Why is life so hard?
  • Why do “these things” always happen to me?
  • I’ll never get ahead”
  • If only “this” hadn’t happened…

You get the gist. We all know people who are all doom and gloom and on the one hand it maybe seems understandable because they have a lot of bad or difficult things going on in their life. But on the other hand maybe they are creating their own reality.

I actually started experiencing the power of words and how they affect our reality many years ago. I was working at a job in which I was very unhappy, felt overlooked and under-appreciated. I was “hoping for the best” and sitting back and doing nothing to proactively better my situation.

My passwords rotated every 90 days between things like “life sucks,” “my boss is an ass,” and worse. One day I noticed that every time I signed onto my computer using one of these passwords I immediately went into a negative state, even if something positive had just happened.

I’m not sure what prompted it, but I decided to try something new and I changed my password to “new opportunity.” Believe it or not things started to change. I started getting emails from recruiters, which led to interviews. Internally things seemed different as well. People were listening to me and doors were opening.

From that point on I’ve used what I call “the power of the password” to help me create my own reality. It’s gotten more difficult in the age of special characters, capital letters and numbers but I still find a way to keep my passwords focused on the direction I want my life to go and not on what’s wrong with it.

My point isn’t so much about the power of using a positive password as it is about how we create our own reality through our thoughts and the messages we send ourselves throughout the day.

I wonder what people like Mahatma Gandhi did to help them stay positive and focused on their dreams and not on the obstacles in their path. In the end it doesn’t matter what we use to do so, as long as it works for us.

Negative thoughts create a negative reality and positive thoughts create hope and opportunity.

I Create My Reality
Inspired by: “I am the creative power in my world.” Louise Hay

Author’s note: I stole the introductory paragraphs for this post from one I wrote a couple of years ago, they just seemed to fit. 🙂 If you want to read the rest of the post, you’ll find it here.