Cover of the seveneightfive Magazine
A look into the inspiration behind the work.
The Abundant Artist
Today I had the opportunity to hang out with fellow artist Belinda Fireman and The Abundant Artist folks! We talked about what it is like to work as an artist, our motivations, where we have been and where we are going. More fun than should be legal!
What art career obstacles are you experiencing and would like to overcome? and would like to overcome?
For many independent artists out there thinking about creating a viable art business is both overwhelming and a headache. But did you know that everything about business is learnable and with the right knowledge you can build an art career even in Topeka, Kansas?
I attended the ArtsConnect Sustainability and Economic Impact of the Arts panel yesterday featuring guest speaker Randy Cohen, the Vice President of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts. He unveiled the results of the year-long study on the impact of the Arts in our community. The good news is that $20 million dollars in business spending in Shawnee county alone. Now that is an impressive number! More on the event at CJonline.
These statistics say that the Arts is a viable business in our community, it places the arts as the 7th largest employer in Topeka! How about some of that for you my artist friend?
This is fantastic news for the Arts as a whole in Topeka and proves that art careers can be built. But as I see it, we aren’t quite there yet. What I see on a daily basis is that Art isn’t seen as a business but as a hobby or a pastime for the creators.
This isn’t the truth. Since the dream inception of the NOTO Arts District a few years ago there is one thing in the planning that is lacking. That is business expertise of creators. The myth of the starving artist is still rampant in the mindset of the artists as well as the public at large.
Starting out on your own entrepreneurial endeavor is a lonely place to be, I know this from starting my own business, ArtPrintExpress.com. I had to actively search for the answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had, but discovered along the way. There wasn’t a mentor to turn to for advice because no one else had tried my sort of business in the area before. I ended up turning to online business experts to give me guidance. With determination and perseverance (what I have renamed as Artitude) I made it work. The road was jagged and there were and are failures but I now have a viable business model.
Not everyone has to have such a solitary road when it comes to creating an art career because there are many people in our area succeeding in building a career from their art. What I believe is artists as a group can come together to learn from and support each other to build viable art careers.
For my artist friends who are attempting the dream of making a career from their art I have a couple of questions. Would you be interested in learning what it takes to build a viable business with your art? If there was a course, what are the obstacles you are experiencing and would like to overcome?
Am I telling you a secret or gossip?
What is the story here? Am I getting ready to tell you a shocking personal secret, a juicy piece of gossip or something completely different? Share with me and your friends what you see in this piece or give me a story of a secret or gossip and how sharing had an impact on you or others.
Do you remember as a kid sitting in a circle and playing telephone or also called gossip?
The way it is played is the first person picked a message and it was passed as a secret from one person to the next until it ended with their neighbor. Then the neighbor announced what the secret was and then the person beginning the message announced what the message was to begin with. The two were never the same. This activity really shocked me as a kid, because the original meaning was always grossly distorted once the message made its way around our circle of friends.
It was a lesson well learned by me and I take it into consideration whenever I open my mouth or if I hear news from any source. Inevitably no matter how hard each person tries to stay true to the message it is never the same as the original source.
I believe it is not always maliciously changed, but that when we hear a message we also add to the telling our own life experience and the story gets changes simply because it went through each person as a filter.
This phenomenon happens even online. However, I think in this medium it many of the changes in the story are actually planned to meet someone’s agenda. There is much more effort involved in repeating a factoid online with a graphic or photo than there is in simply telling the story face to face. So the filter and distortion happens intentionally.
Unfortunately, we see this used with every story in the most trusted news sources as well. The integrity of our news sources has given away to agendas and the attempt to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle. I believe that caution must be used when we hear any news unless we witness it firsthand.
This makes it difficult to ever find the real truth. Then again isn’t all truth filtered through our own experiences? So do we ever know anything but the truth as we know it and our choices in what we believe?
Do you see dread, disgust or something different?
The subtle variations of expression can say volumes about the person we are looking at. But we will never know the whole story. Expressions can also be deceptive.
As I am creating these selfies a favorite show comes to mind, “Lie to Me”, I don’t know if you were a fan so here is a short description from Wikipedia: The show isinspired by the work of Paul Ekman, the world's foremost expert on facial expressions featuring actor Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, a genius psychologist with an expertise in body language, predominantly microexpressions, and a founder of The Lightman Group, a private company that operates as an independent contractor to assist investigations of local and federal law enforcement through applied psychology.
A microexpression is a brief, involuntary facial expression shown on the face of humans according to emotions experienced. Here is a short video that explains it really well.
If you are interested the series is on Hulu.
I found the series endlessly fascinating. I suppose that my own interest in people sucked me into the show and the amazing powers of observation.
The one thing I learned from watching the show was that there are stories in every face. In this piece do you see dread, disgust, or something completely different? Maybe I dread what just came out of my mouth and the reaction I know is coming or I’m simply disgusted that there was an unidentified bug that just flew by that could be yet another mosquito that is hovering to suck my blood and make me itch for days. Please tell me the story your see in this piece. Just for the fun of it share this with your friends to learn what they see.
And now for something completely different..... Here I am being a complete nut! I try to tell people that my paintings speak to me, so here's proof. Not only do they speak, they mock and taunt as well. Share the love I say!
Do you see Pain or Pleasure?
With this selfie, I must ask do you see pain or pleasure? Am I in the middle of reacting to my stubbed toe or maybe I just heard the funniest joke and I’m about ready to shoot soda out of my nose?
The meaning is really up to you, the viewer. What I had in mind when I painted it really doesn’t matter. It is your life experience that defines what you are seeing.
Art is one of the most subjective things in the world. A piece can mean so many things that it is really up to the viewer to define what they are seeing. There is never a right or wrong answer.
With this selfie, I would like to see the stories that you recognize in this piece rather than me telling you the story behind why I painted it… because the truth is, I really want to know what it is you see.
I am sure that every time you see this piece now you will consider both since I suggested that it could be both.
So help me out with the experiment, please take a moment and share this with your friends and see what their reaction is.
It can tell you a lot about a person, it is kinda like a laymen’s Rorschach test.
See what is on the top of the mind of your friends and discover if they see what you see and let me know!
It is time to get real. Is Bigotry Logical? The ad hominem fallacy is the most revolting of all of the fallacies. Bigotry is only one guise of this style of delusion. We see it used nearly every time two political ideologies are in conflict and we see it on nearly every argument on social media. When someone is making a logical argument and then out of left field someone attempts to dismiss the argument based on a completely unrelated character trait of the person, be it real or perceived, of the person making the case.
I want to bring up just a part of a satirical argument that was in the Huffington post piece that railed against the Topeka population for their concern that the First Lady’s plan to speak at the 501 High School Graduation, titled “If You're Worried Michelle Obama Will Outshine Your Kid at His High School Graduation, She Will.”
It was an ugly piece filled with numerous fallacies as sarcasm typically is. Meanwhile, I was seeing responses online to this piece as if it was FACT rather than a witticism. It was jaw dropping!
It is also typical of what we can find in opinion pieces these days. As they say there is always a grain of truth in jest.
The one argument that made my gut turn was “And, of course, all the parents and students who signed the petition will say, "This isn't about race." Whenever someone says, "this isn't about race," it's about race. Like OJ, or Trayvon Martin, or that black kid who just got pulled over on the freeway. You may say it's about seating and your kid's special day, and that's probably true, for the most part. But we have a sinking suspicion that if somehow, miraculously, Mitt Romney had won the election and Ann Romney wanted to speak at the commencement, it wouldn't be as much of a problem. Just a hunch. Call us crazy.”
REALLY? I have to say again REALLY? This argument has been beat to death in the last few years… and actually has numbed us to genuine bigotry. Any consideration of “race” in an argument is illogical at its core.
To judge someone solely on their appearance is the most primitive form of group think ever created by man. I suppose it was necessary to some degree when we were cave men having to fight other tribes for our basic needs being able to identify us vs. them. But as evolved creatures, who can think beyond what we see, use fantastic technology like the internet could actually consider more than one fact at a time and move beyond these undeveloped notions.
Unfortunately, no matter how horrible and antiquated it is to use gross generalizations to go about trying to influence people, it works especially if we can charge them with negative feelings about the other guy.
I am a big believer when someone can write something that ugly and be proud enough to publish it in a national magazine or on their timeline, I always pause and consider how the words reflects back on the author of any post that chooses to demean another’s opinion by attacking a unrelated personal feature such as their race. Nonetheless, it is an emotionally charged attack on character that people seem to crave.
Funny thing about it though, it does get our blood pumping, and it is the bad, ugly news that sells whether or not it is logical. It is this kind of mindset that attempts to illustrate, despite our best efforts, not much has changed in our national consciousness in 60 years and all things considered maybe it is just humanity. We seem to want to see the worst in each other instead of celebrating the best in us. I would like to think that we would want to be better than that.
Let’s try to be a positive role model rather than a destroyer of dreams. Opinion pieces written in this way are only created to divide and not to heal. This is only one outrageous example.
Maybe we should reconsider which news we prefer. Because when it really comes right down to it, it is the public who gets to decide what news is worth paying attention to and we have that control with our actions, the newspapers, online sites and TV programs we respond to.
I am truly grateful that the First Lady chose to change the date of her speech. Then found a way to address these young citizens without raining on the parade of their hard earned day while still celebrating the Brown vs. the Board of Education 60 year anniversary with her presence and insight. Isn’t that much better solution than sardonically debasing a bunch of kids and their entire community who only wanted their ceremony to be about the graduates’ accomplishments and not a national media circus event?
Are you on a winning streak?
Life is like the Roulette wheel, every day is a new spin of the wheel and as you hope that your ball will land on red once again as it has for the past couple of months it is inevitable that your ball will land on the statistically equal possibility of black. Expecting that little white ball to land on a specific number, that would be too much to ask for.
The Gamblers’ Fallacy is the mindset that has made Las Vegas a destination in what is otherwise a desert waste land. It is the idea that given even odds a winning streak happens independently of the statistics. I find that this logic happens in everyday life whether you are in the casino or not. You can plan a lot of things in your life but you can’t control everything.
I wanted to paint a painting every day and boy howdy, I was on a 50 plus day winning streak! I conscientiously scheduled my time to meet my goal all was working and I found myself in the middle of the euphoria of meeting my goal and painting every single day! What a wonderful place to be in! I was snugly wrapped in meeting my realistically unreasonable expectations that were doomed to fail.
The first day to fail to meet my daily painting was pretty awful; I started beating myself up emotionally and mentally. It was this toxic self-talk that lead to the next few days of failure. As each day passed I painted but failed to finish the painting or failed to post it. This coupled with a few other personal disappointments in one short week I found myself spiraling down a funnel of depression and lack of confidence. I just wanted to stay in bed.
I had to snap out of this madness! I knew too what would do that is an attitude adjustment on my expectations of what I was reasonably able to do. Slowly I came to the realization that much like a gambling addiction I was really expecting the impossible for myself because it is inevitable that the roulette wheel of life was going to fall on a losing number. The only way to avoid it was to completely sequester myself from life and that wouldn’t be a way to live.
With my new expectations adjusted I am moving forward and I believe that this was a lesson that I needed to learn. I don’t know how many times I need to learn to be kinder to myself through my expectations but I suppose life will continue to beat me over the head until I have it down.
Winning streaks are great, but life with loved ones and even with the occasional unforeseen challenges that come with them is what makes life worth living. It is these ups and downs that teach us the most about what it means to be alive. The best we can expect is to keep breathing and adjust our schedule to make room for the things life throws at us.
I will be getting back to “Being My Selfie” series but I am going to post them a little less often so that I can allow myself to experience all that life has to offer, the wins and losses.
Now it is your turn, I would like to know from you is what was your most recent life’s winning streak like and how did it end?
P.S. As I was preparing today’s upload would you believe my Lenovo computer crashed again! This was the second time in my 3 months of ownership. I had gotten it back 2 weeks ago from the manufacturer repair depot. Good thing my intuition told me not to trust that machine… Office Max took care of me and I should be getting my laptop back early next week… then I have 2 weeks of trying to get everything back on it once again! Life is so much better if you don’t play Russian Roulette with your data.
I'm special! Your expectations don't apply to me!
Human beings are comical creatures, we will say about anything to keep from being wrong. This is the fallacy of special pleading. Moving the goals or expectations when it is revealed that we made a mistake is a natural. I think as children we come to this faulty logic naturally we will invent ways to cling to our old beliefs rather than changing our mind and learning through better understanding.
Here is an example of special pleading that works for the Blue’s Brothers: Jake’s List of Excuses for leaving his mystery woman at the altar.
I know we’ve all taken this position to cover-up or make ourselves feel better about the things we have done to wrong another no matter the magnitude of the error. Even if it is a tiny white lie we use to beg our case, it is still a fallacy in logic.
The worst of this is the position of “it wasn’t my fault!” when in reality it is our fault and we should be held accountable. Has humans this is one of the most difficult things to do, admit our shortcomings. I think that our fear of repercussions overtake our logic ability to learn from our mistakes.
The most contemptible of these is when through our own action or inaction we create circumstances that force another to repair our mistakes while not taking responsibility for our own role played in the state of affairs. While special pleading can seeming repair the deception, it doesn’t correct the original wrong and the situation is free to escalate just like Carrie Fisher’s character in the clip, the third party ends up in the sewer muck.
There seems to be a lot of this mindset running around in social media, best exemplified by our nation’s leadership and mimicked by our youth. Until we can stop and hold ourselves and others accountable for actions and repercussions we will not see any peace or growth in mankind. Then when we take a look at history, maybe it is simply not possible to eradicate this human instinct to plead special for our mistakes.
Just be aware, that special pleading can lead to harm to others and will not really solve the problem. I must simply ask myself to try really hard to be accountable for my own actions and hope others will do the same. I guess that is really all I can logically expect.