Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Creative Wisdom from Pixar's John Lasseter 7 of 7

John Lasseter’s 7 Points (by way of Scribble Junkies)

7. Surround yourself with creative people whom you trust.

“Bring only those new members into your creative team, whom you consider to be at least as talented as you. If they also have a pleasant and nice character – even better. Most managers don’t follow this approach, as they are insecure. Insecurity and creativity do not get along with each other well. Most managers surround themselves with yes-men, and in result, the audiences get bad films to see.”
…and lastly, as Lasseter once told a group of graduating students at Pepperdine University
never let anyone kill your dreams.”

As an aspiring artist, don't be afraid to associate with people who are more advanced than you are. There is so much to learn. Be humble and grateful and realize that you will have the chance to pay it forward at some point. Don't be intimidated. Simply realize that they have walked much further down the path than you have. I have been greatly blessed with kind and generous mentors whom I aspire to emulate.

Find a generous mentor. There is no need to copy their art because you are completely capable of creating your own unique work, but go ahead and aquire as much wisdom as you can. Learn the best of what they have to offer. Go ahead and copy their work ethic. Soak up their business savvy. See if they have organizational skills that you can adopt. Pick and choose and learn as much as you can from the best of the best.

Then go do your own work.
Walk your own path.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creative Wisdom from Pixar's John Lasseter 6 of 7

6. Creative output always reflects the person on top.

“Poor managers harm the creative process.”

John Lasseter knows from personal experience. After landing his dream job as animator at the Disney Animation Studios in the late seventies, his outspoken individuality and creative extravaganzas quickly made him enemies among mediocre middle managers at Disney. Within a few years, Mr Lasseter became a victim of internal politics and got fired. Committed to go his own way, Mr Lasseter became one of the founders of Pixar in 1986. Twenty years later, following Pixar’s acquisition by The Walt Disney Company, Mr Lasseter returned in triumph as chief creative officer of both animation studios.

“Laughter, being crazy, freaking out, behaving in ridiculous manner are hard work. A manager who spreads his bad mood and who forbids his employees to have fun impairs their creativity, and thus harms the enterprise. I would fire him. Animated movies are not least a bang-hard business. I cannot risk so much money, only because a manager indulging in his bad mood harms my business."

Again - because I teach I automatically think of how this applies to the classroom. I've heard of some frightful behavior by teachers and try my very best to avoid those behaviors. I was in one classroom and someone's phone went off and the whole class whipped their heads around looking at me with those "deer in the headlights" eyes. Apparently their last instructor had charged each student whose phone went off $10.00 for taking her time.

Ahem. While in most settings a cell phone going off can be very rude, most of the classes I teach are for fun. They aren't graduate level courses in hallowed halls. Sometimes there are more important things going on in life than what we are doing in class. 

So this is what we do when phones ring in my class.
We do a dance.
 It's called the cell phone fling.

I was in my son's kindergarden class once and the kids were heads down working hard on math, or something. Suddenly the teacher's phone goes off with some wild dance tune. I was a little shocked. Then a huge grin lit up my face as all the kids got up and did the cell phone fling for about three rings then sat right back down and got back to work. It was the teacher's method of letting the kids get a few wiggles out at random times during the day. We all need to get wiggles out once in a while. 

So - what is the worst "diva behavior" you've experienced in class?
What has been the best kind of surprise you've had with a teacher in class?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Inspired to Quilt: On-Line Quilt Show & Conference

A little snippet of some of the fun we'll be having at the on-line quilt show sponsored by 
Willow Bend Creations.

Click on the link to the right to register!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Introducing The Kindness Chronicles

Remember back in in December when we were focusing on making the world a better place through simple acts of service and kindness?
Well I'd like to introduce a new, on-going feature on my blog.
When I was interviewed by Rice' Freeman-Zachary about the project for her podcast, she asked if it was going to become an ongoing project. I hadn't thought too much about it. I really do try to keep service in mind all the time so I didn't think of it as a "project" but of course I'd love to keep it going.

Small kindnesses mean a great deal - the last group I taught for left me this lovely flower to brighten my hotel room.
Leave it to a go-getter like Jane LaFazio to push me into getting things done. Or actually, to go ahead and make plans and get things done whether I've got my rear in gear or not. She put together this beautiful button and suggested that we post on the first Sunday of every month, telling about some of the little acts of service we've done. We're not trying to brag - at all - just give you all more ideas that you can try as well. Really - it's fun to do little things that brighten someone's day.

Would you care to join us? If you'd like to add this lovely little button to your blog please go ahead and copy and paste this into a widget for your sidebar. It's got the html embedded to link back to this explanatory post.

The Kindness Chronicles

If you send me a link to your kindness blog post I'd love to list it in my next Kindness Chronicles post. It's so easy to bring a smile to someone's face. Let's make the world a better place, shall we? 

For Your Inspiration: February

Pansies by Lyric Kinard

Hydrangea by Lyric Kinard

Daffodils by Lyric Kinard

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Artist Spotlight: Nancy Cook - A Sense of Scale

What happens when you take the sketch of something you've drawn... something nice and small and detailed... and you blow it up REALLY BIG!?

Burr Oak sketch by Nancy Cook
Maple Seed Design by Nancy Cook
Scale is a basic principle of design and composition. It always relates to the size of the work of art in comparison to the size of us as human beings. Taking something tiny and often overlooked and spending the time necessary to draw it in great detail gives an artist a deep appreciation for the beauty of the form. I'm constantly telling my students that sketching is more about seeing than anything else. 

How do you convey that sense of beauty to your viewer - the wonder and awe of the complexity of nature? One way is to create your work of art on a scale much, much larger than the object you are rendering. Nancy Cook takes a seed, a leaf, a branch - and blows it up larger than life with beautiful details in her textile work. She gives us an easy window into the understanding of nature's beauty.

Burr Oak by Nancy Cook
I was very fortunate to see an exhibit of Nancy Cook's work at the North Carolina Botanical Gardens in Chapel Hill this week. (Unfortunately it comes down next Tuesday the 28th.) It's worth seeing - and then wandering the beautiful landscape - sketchbook in hand.

Echos of Tulip's Summer by Nancy Cook

So as you sketch, as you observe, keep in mind a sense of scale. Might your sketch be a study for a final work of art? What scale would you like to work with? What will your final product be?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Inspired to Quilt: On-Line Quilt Show & Conference

And now for something completely different... or at least something I'm not sure I've seen before but whose time has definitely arrived. 
March 7-10, 2012
Inspired To Quilt Expo

Willow Bend Creations Online Quilt Expos is hosting the  "Inspired To Quilt" Online Quilt ExpoIt's all of the sights, sounds and excitement of a live quilt show right in your home on your computer. There will be vendors and teachers giving some pretty cool presentations. Yup - including lil' ol' me as one of the featured presentations. I thought I'd give it a try. And of course lot's of beautiful quilts to look at.

They are giving it a fun little twist and I've been nominated as the "Most Inspiring Quilt Instructor Of 2011". It should be fun and it's quite an honor just to have been nominated.  I would really appreciate your support in coming out and voting for me.

Best Part?
!!!It's FREE!!!

There is no cost to participate and learn from ALL the teachers there.

You do need to register though.
Just click on the link below and tell all of your friends so they don't miss out on the fun!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Creative Wisdom from Pixar's John Lasseter 5 of 7

John Lasseter’s 7 Points (by way of Scribble Junkies)

5. Fun invokes creativity, not competition.
(paraphrased: It's fun that invokes creativity. Competition can kill it.)
“There is this idea that you put two people, who cannot stand each other, into a room, hoping that all this negative energy leads to a creative result. I disagree. Co-operation, confidence and fun – that is the way.”
“Creative people must believe that all others support them in making a great movie. They need to believe that all people involved understand what they talk about. Creative people are easily bored, moody, a bit difficult to handle. You have to make it fun for them, care for them. Creative people only produce really good work if you creatively challenge them. They have to like what they’re working on. They have to be damn proud of the fact that they’re a part of a particular project. That is again the task of the manager. Each time, you have to give them creative challenges. That’s difficult, but nobody said it is easy to lead creative people.”

This follows on to the last conversation we had - about nurturing a team and how there is an abundance to be shared. This point especially applies to teaching. Each student in a room is unique and comes with their own strengths and their own views. The best thing I can do as a teacher is to nurture my students. I want to help each student feel safe enough to explore and discover his or her own unique strengths.

Fiber Frenzy (photo by Francine)
I think this is a good point to apply to our personal relationships as well. I'm thinking of my children - and how sometimes they want to compete against each other, be it for my attention or to be the boss of each other. Thing go so much more smoothly if I can create an environment of fun.

Think of yourself for just a minute
Do the people surrounding you support and nurture your creativity?
Do you support theirs? 

Here is the rest of the series so far:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Work: Beaded Brooch

Bead Fiesta by Lyric Kinard
 A sweet little beaded brooch - just for fun.
I'll be leading a fun night of beading at my favorite bead shop in Raleigh
Thursday, March 8, 2012
6-8 pm

Just like many of my projects - this one began in an airport. Am I the only traveller that doesn't mind sitting and waiting in an airport? It's one of the few times I'm alone with no demands on my time. Perfect for a little bead project. Beaded fabric projects are beautifully portable.

Techniques for beading on fabric can be learned on my DVD workshop, Bead It Like You Mean It.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Creative Wisdom for Pixar's John Lasseter 4 of 7

John Lasseter’s 7 Points (by way of Scribble Junkies)

4. It’s the team, stupid.
“One of the most popular questions is always whether groups are more creative than individuals. My answer: In most cases, it’s the team – provided you follow certain rules. As a manager, it is my task to abolish hierarchies. It doesn’t matter at all who has the idea; that’s a very important rule for us. The group must be honest, direct, and endeavour to sincerely help the creative individual. But in the end, nothing that the group says is binding”.
So how does this relate to us as artists working alone, each in our own little studio?
"Endeavor to sincerely help the creative individual."

Here is the way I look at it. It doesn't have to be a competition folks. I meet other artists and teachers who are possessive of their ideas to the point of paranoia. They don't seem to be happy people. Then I meet people who are generous with their knowledge, who are willing to teach and mentor. They seem to glow. And by giving away what they know, they seem to GROW as well.

I truly believe in a philosophy of abundance. There is enough creativity to go around. There is enough room for one more artist and one more teacher. We don't have to be jealous of another person's talents. If we nurture and encourage each other instead of feeling small and protective and jealous, then I believe our opportunities and our talents and all the good stuff will expand exponentially. We are enriched when we open up and share the beauty we have within us. It tends to come right back.
The Elements of Art with the Peninsula Piecemakers
As a teacher, I never think I'm better than my students. I really do believe they are all creative. I might have spent more time (OK, a LOT more time) working towards a skill than they have. Our creativity might manifest in very different ways. It's all good. It makes a better team when people have different strengths and are willing to support each other.

I'd love to hear what you think. How can you apply this idea?

(I'm not talking about copyright infringement - that is a real and very serious issue but not what I'm getting at here. Do everything you can to be original, there is no need to steal anyone else's ideas. )

Here is the rest of the series so far:

Here is the rest of the series:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Work in Progress: Verbesina Occidentalis

I'm working on a wonderful project sponsored in part by the Professional Art Quilter's Alliance - South called "Narrative Threads." The exhibit will open later this spring at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center in Cary, North Carolina.

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard
Each artist in the group has been paired with a writer and set free to work on a collaborative work. The lovely and talented poet, Maura High, is my partner and I couldn't have asked for a better person to work with. We've connected well and are working on a sort of "call and response" series. I respond to her poem with art - she responds to that work with another poem - and so on.

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard
I chose a poem of hers that seemed to grab me on a visceral level - and that brought such immediate visuals to my mind that I couldn't shake it. I didn't intend to be so literal with the piece but, well, there you go. Hmmm. It's rather odd - but in looking at all the pictures I like this one best. A simple sketch with needle and thread.

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard

Verbisina Occidentalis by Lyric Kinard

Dark does not fall: it rises from the soil, 
seeping along the flattened grass 
of the dim path and flowing 
up trees already black, 
night’s conduits, forked
darkening against the retreating light,
while below them in the field the crownbeard 
on its winged stem makes a last effort, 
waggling its two or three 
yellow rays, lifting 
its small cluster of disc petals
in imitation of the sun—though
its leaves have gone quiet already, 
and the pollinators sleep their insect sleep.
Sleep is just a way to talk about what happens 
in the dark, what the cells do, what 
color green is, when no light shines on it.
The crownbeard holds still now, nothing moves
under the streetlights in the ramifying subdivisions.
Wings close, and petals. Eyes 
see nothing that is not inward and radical. 
There are boundaries, such as where stem
becomes root, and where the taproot probes 
among stones, and we may travel them, 
through capillaries and waterways and geographies 
of decomposition. Underground is like aboveground
inverted, a reflection of sorts, uncertain
and hopeful as seedheads at seedtime.
Seedtime is the wind, and seeds 
quiver in their bracts, as brittle 
as moths are, and as dry, as poised, 
as these winged stems, which still lean 
to the light. One good shake 
and they scatter down the grasses 
and lodge: while the rains come, and long hours 
of dark and cold, while they parse 
moonlight and sunlight, and know already 
that the root comes first and follows water
down the kingdoms of soil, then a tendril 
and the precursors of leaves, leaf, branch and crown.
I hold some in my palm: each husk ribbed and shaped
like a vase, like the word promise in their language.
In their language, grow is a conversation among cells,
why, thank you, here’s the sun! you go first, 
yes, you, I this way and in this green vein
upward, and here’s sap, sweet and mineral . . .
Like banners held to our view
by attending angels, their pronouncements
unfurl and flutter through the daylight, 
and all night they hum. The point being seed
and more seed, up there where their lures dangle;
a few long, bright yellow petals, no need 
for more when bees enough roam the flowerets,
when even one person has leaned closer, as if to listen
and instead been sounded, like a drum
struck and reverberating through the field and further.
And further afield, along trails 
mapping the wood, waysides, and how many lives
did I pass through and never know its name? 
By hearsay and looking, in a book, I found 
a paradise of leaves, opposite and ovate,
that curious “tissue decurrent on the stem,”
the loose corymbs, taxonomies of desire 
in a right name, a promise 
of knowledge and belonging, as in “my flower,” 
“my field,” and so on, until “our flower,”
our dominion. That much was in my gift—a sprig, 
it’s true. While the flowers, which know all about 
belonging, heeded the imperatives of light and wind, 
water calling to them: Verbesina, little word.  
Word, made dicotyledon and vascular, 
one-stemmed perennial aster, of the family 
Asteraceae: not so much star as a constellation
of particulars, a coming-together that was years
in the making. I saw crownbeard growing, 
yellow crownbeard, Southern crownbeard, 
here, in an old field reverting to wood.
Birds fidgeted in the stands. Deer 
crashed through the stiff, ribbed stems 
and left them bruised and flattened. People
and their dogs passed through, Linnaeus 
and his descendants were among the familiars.
We left traces in the air, on the grass
and track, a faint phosphorescence in the dark.
© Maura High
Nov 2011–Jan 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Love ... Simple Kindnesses

It's often very small things that bring joy to my life.

Valentine by MaryAnne Durr

For instance - the people in my neighborhood wave to each other as they drive by. I haven't seen it out and about in my town and it didn't happen in the neighborhood we lived in before this. But it happens on the streets where I live. It makes me happy.

Postcard by Hannah Koch

On a day when I received two rejection letters from art shows I also received this beautiful piece of art in the mail, a postcard with a little thank you note on the back from the lovely and talented Hannah.

When one of my children says "thank you" for a task that is usually invisible it makes me just go all twittery and happy. Smiles make me happy. Surely I can return the favor and perform some simple kindness for the world. Yesterday I bought a bouquet, took out one flower at a time and handed them to everyone I saw until the ran out. With a smile and a "Happy Valentine's Day". It went well this time.

What SIMPLE KINDNESS will you give to the world today?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Creative Wisdom from Pixar's John Lasseter 3 of 7

John Lasseter’s 7 Points (by way of Scribble Junkies)
3. Quality is a great business plan. Period.
“There is a crucial rule: no compromises. No compromises on quality – regardless of production constraints, cost constraints, or a deadline. If you get a better idea, and this means that you have to start again from scratch, then that’s what you have to do.
In any creative industry, quality is the sole business plan that prevails in the long run. Many managers fail to understand that, but the spectators understand it. The process is only finished once the creative professional in charge says it’s finished. That does not mean that there isn’t to be any pressure – there’s pressure all the time anyway – but the individual creator always needs to have the last word.”

How this might relate to my career as an artist?
Don't settle for less than my best effort.

Now you know by now that I'm firmly in favor of making BAD ART!
I do not, however, send BAD ART out into the world.
BAD ART is a necessary stepping stone into the wonderful world of GREAT ART! The bad stuff is just a way to let yourself go, to freely play with new ideas and spark creative juices and let them flow in unexpected directions. 

When it comes time to settle down and work on the good stuff - do the best you possibly can.
Strive for excellence in your technique, beauty in your composition, quality in your craftsmanship and just plain DO YOUR BEST. 
(yes, I was a cub scout den mother, thank you very much)

What areas of your art need work?