Picking Your Muse

By Definition, a “Muse” is one of the Nine Sister Goddesses, each residing over a specific domain of theater or art. They were once said to inspire their chose craft and those craftsmen so devoted.

Its also a band, but we really won’t delve to much into that right now.

But even if Calliope, Thalia, Urania and their sisters aren’t your thing or you come up bare when thinking of them, that doesn’t mean that you won’t find inspiration else where. In fact, we’ll help you get over that!

Everybody has their share of ideas – both good and bad. Some more good than others… some more bad than others, but that is entirely to be expected. And when it comes to art, ideas are fuel. They drive our passions forward and our passions drive our ideas.

We all have our Muses. All of us. Each one is different though, for each and everyone of us. What one person sees as absolultly inspiring, another will just look at with half-hearted interest. It can’t be helped – and in fact, its actually a good thing.
And who is to say that I Muse has to be something tangeble, something coporeal? Why not think a little broader – the options really could open up to so much more.

One person may find inspiration in that of a beautiful woman, as what one would typically think of as a Muse. Another may find their creativity unfrul at the sight of her lips. Another may find interest in nature, the leaves or a flowers around them, right out their vary window. Another might even see the window as inspiration itself, opening up new thoughts. Another person may find music inspiring, compelling them to create what they hear, driving them forward with a few lines of music.
Other things, invisible things are even vast wellsprings for inspiration – time, something you can’t visibly see can be inspiring, capturing thoughts of mortality, of adventure and the unknown. Seasons, while not quite time, are very inspiring for some. They conjure up well known and ingraned thoughts of the times, of the weather, of holidays and festivals. I myself find Autumn to be very invigorating.
A simple Fall afternoon with a cool breeze during sundown, just when the light hits the bare trees right. I can’t really think of a more inspiring time for myself. But others may have other seasons, other thoughts and other things that drive them.

And believe it or not, lack of inspiration has actually been inspiration before. Some works of art come about solely from the sheer lack of ideas for something else, an act of desperation in some fashion. A head on the piano isn’t all that uncommon when a muscian can’t think of anything, a blank stare on a photographers face, a brush just resting in cleaner, or even a sheet of stark white paper. People have made their lack of ideas work for them – in esscense, an idea from the lack of ideas. How it works, I’m not entirely sure and I wouldn’t entirely rule out the whole Quantum Mechanics thing – but I never specialized in Theoretical Physics…

If you don’t feel inspired, then maybe you just haven’t found your muse yet. You’ll know it when you see it.


New Motivational and Geeky Prints Now Available!

We’ve got another update finished up and listed, and this time there are plenty of prints for everyone!

First up, we’ve got some fun new motivational prints, perfect for getting you started in the morning – and some to help remind you to end the day right!

Go Out on a Limb - 8x10 Print

Love You to the Moon and Back - 8x10 Print
We decided to add something for the non-coffee drinkers out there – which, rumor has it, exist! Perfect for those who don’t think that Coffee is there Cup of Tea.

Coffee is not My Cup of Tea - 8x8 Print

We also have some prints for those who want to let the world know that they are indeed geeks – and proud of it! And why not, it truly is the age of the Geek, so let your allegiance be known!

Nerd and Proud of It - 8x8 Print

All these prints are now available in our online store!

Being an Artist

There are many advantages to being an artist – one is certainly being able to create visually what you would like to see in this world. Though it takes time, you can always hone your art form or hobby, with patience and practice to be able to craft what you want to see made. Sometimes this is something that no one else is doing, no one else is crafting, something that one else has thought of. So, you yourself have to fill in this void.

This is actually how a lot of great things got there start and how countless more will find their way too.

But being an artist is like any other job, it has its perks and it has its disadvantages. One of the major perks sets it aside from most other professions and hobbies, or at least ones that I’ve always been fond of, is that being an artist is being able to do a little of everything. We get to try a taste of everything, get to learn some of this, dabble in a little of that and at the end of the day pick and choose what we take. Not necessarily “how”, but most certainly “what”.

As an artist you learn to see the world around you in a completely different way, somehow appreciating it more. And unless you were born with a paintbrush in hand, you’ll probably spend some serious time learning, studying paintings, drawings and other art – and most certainly your subjects.

I remember as a child, I was always given a pencil, crayons and paper – generally to keep me busy at group functions and gatherings, but it was something that I enjoyed doing. While modest, the pencil, crayons and simple printer paper still form the basis of nearly everyone’s artistic careers. Some just get bigger and more expensive toys – others learn to make what they started with work for them, improving on it.

My Artistic Career started when I saw my parents drawing something for me to try to copy, as I would imagine a lot of kids paths begin. When you first start to draw or paint, your picture may not look like their’s – or even close for that matter. But you knew that it was fun and you want another go – and when that happens you start to see how they did it and begin to dissect it. And this is where the magic begins, where we first start learning, in picking apart what has been put before us. Not critics eyes, no. Just curious eyes.

Maybe your next plane doesn’t look like the one that your parents drew either, so you feverishly go back and erase it or grab a fresh piece of paper when your experiments start covering up the sheet that you had and try again. In doing so, studying their drawing, you see the general shape, the feel, which helps. Then you start again, drawing the wings and end up with something that more resembles taffy on a hot day than that sleek, vintage world war two era mustang that your dad drew.

But this isn’t a problem. Its learning. And it takes time.

We realize that our wings don’t look like theirs and wonder why. So, going back over them, realizing that they are shaped differently, like elongated water drops. Then you may ask why exactly their shaped like that, which would take you down another long avenue, sparking a whole different conversation. But one that would undoubtably help in drawing that aircraft that we were after. By simply wanting to learn how to draw a plane, even as a child, you can start to figure out what makes that plane fly and why, what makes it stay up in the air and not just fall straight down like an African Sparrow carrying a Coconut – which in turn only makes your art that much the better.

While sometimes we may want something to not look conventional, go out on a limb, say Dali or M.C. Escher as examples. While both of those people drew utterly bizarre and remarkable things – they were firmly rooted in some sort of world, generally ours to some extent or other, even if one that made little to no sense. Salvador Dali with his abstract clocks and creatures from other worlds, they still bore some logic, if unorthodox. His clocks just melted rather than told time. As for Escher – his illustrations merely defied the laws of physics and architecture – but still somehow in the end made a certain bizarre sense to the eyes. Both of these men knew the world, what it looked liked – and that gave them the ability to change it upon the canvas and art across the world.

You learn by observing, other’s work as well as your own. Its how we as artists get better. We ask questions so we learn. So to do we observe. Humans are after all a very visual creature, we like to see what we’re doing.

And the best part, whether you think that you’re the greatest that ever walked or just a humble person with a pen and paper, someone who just likes to dabble or who spends countless hours on just one project, whether you sell thousands of designs or just do a drawing for your childs amusement – everyone can be an artist. Everyone puts that hat on sometime in their life regardless of if they ever make a cent doing it. All it takes is a little time and effort to keep that hat on.

There are many more prints coming out soon! The above, Art is Messy, will soon be available in the shop. Till then, you can check out all of our other available prints here!

We’ve also got a page on Deviant Art as well now, so you can go join in the art and follow along there as well!

The Blank Canvas

A blank canvas is one of those very interesting parts in art – something that holds unbound potential just waiting to be tapped into. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, around here, we get excited to see that blank void, it usually means something great is about to happen, something exciting.

When that first stroke touches down, you know you’re in for a wild ride. Your face lights up as the white expanses recede and your work starts to take up the empty spaces. That’s when art happens, that is where it all starts. Everyone out there goes through that same process when creating, no matter what medium you may be talking about. It’s all the same in that regard.

No matter what you’re working, we all have the blank canvas together. We all go through that same creative step to get to the work that we’re trying to chisel out and create. And that’s part of the fun.

There are innumerable different kinds of canvas – of course the most obvious being, well, a canvas. But in truth, they take many forms and guises, many are hiding right under your noise right this very second, waiting to be tapped into.

Canvas and Paper are the ones that spring up right away, bringing with them thoughts of grey-scale sketches and vibrant paintings. Those may very well be the most common, certainly the most readily available. But that is only the beginning, especially for those who are willing to put in a little more time and effort, to delve deeper and discover other potential and other possibilities.

You can find more just by taking a walk through a craft store or searching the Internet, for each hobby there is another. The list is staggering, even among those that are common, there are still dozens if not hundreds, far to many to name individually.

But for the unconventional, there are many, many more. For someone with an open mind and a little free time, there are no limits. The worn brick wall. The bare ceiling. The untouched backyard. With a little work, and certainly some  effort, each can be turned into a masterpiece.

You can work anything to turn it into a piece of art, anything that you can set your hands on, helping to add another extra little detail and helping to brighten your day – and maybe someone else’s too. Art isn’t just for museums after all. It isn’t something to only be appreciated in your leisure with a fine wine at some fancy presentation.

Think back to when you were a child, back when the side-walk held so much potential, stretching on for miles untold and those chalk drawings were absolute masterpieces in the making.

When you get right down to it, anything can be a canvas, waiting for you to work it. Anything. Any place you can find inspiration, any where there is a place big enough to work, any where that you may find yourself, there is a blank canvas just waiting for you to make your mark and leave an impression, maybe even bring a smile to someones face in the process. The potential is untold. You just have to get out there and give it a try.

Project Monogamy

No, this isn’t an article about a crack commando raid or the grand plans for foreign invasion. Not really about world domination either. No, this is about something rather different. Probably a little less exciting, but we hope you’ll still find it to be interesting. Sorry if your hopes were dashed.

Often times, I’ll find myself knee-deep in a project, working feverishly to get it completed on some crude, near non-existent time-table that was cruelly self-imposed to drive me onward. And sometimes that works, it helps keep me focused so that I can get things done that need doing. And sometimes it doesn’t work.

But it’s usually during this time, when things do need to get done that I get an idea, a new project dawns on me. The perfect way to do something, something new and interesting. Whether this is exploring a completely new medium, diving head-first into something different that I’ve never tried or thought of before or if it’s just a new technique with an old skill that has nothing to do with what is at hand. Usually, this will lead into a whole new project and sometimes with the result of putting the previous one on the back burner, left to simmer for a time.

And that is okay. That is where project monogamy comes in. If you’re like us here at Indelible Ink Workshop, you’ve probably experienced it before to. The urge to tackle something else, something fresh when you probably know full well that you need to continue the one that you’re on. Maybe you feel guilty. Maybe you feel like you’ve abandoned it. But don’t.

There are many areas in life that Monogamy is necessary, many places where it is suggested in life and highly encouraged. Marriage and relationships are but some of many.

Art however is not one on that list.

Art is about doing what you like and seeing what happens. It’s about trying new things, new techniques and new ideas. Yes, there are tried and true methods, patterns, ways of doing things and certain things that you should know. Getting those things down will go a long way in insuring you some success in your artistic path. But they aren’t necessary nor do they guarantee anything. But that is another post for another day.

Unless you have an absolute dead-line and that candle is burning pretty close, you shouldn’t feel guilty about not completing your project right this very second. If you are an artist by trade, you should probably keep on track and get things done on a suitable time-table, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and work on something else, something completely different. It’s refreshing to work on a side project, it helps invigorate you, to get your creative juices flowing again – and sometimes it just might help to inspire a new way to complete an old project. Often times, it helps us to get another view on past projects, to see a new path. We can learn things from one project that will invariably help with another. That was why I said simmer on the back burner, not to let it just go cold.

There are those times though when you’ll want to stay on task. As stated earlier, its a pretty solid idea if you’re project is a work related one. You’ll want to stay dedicated to the task at hand, devoting your time to what the customer wants. And there will also be those times when you’re working feverishly on something great, something that you’re doing for your own enjoyment and you’ll want to pour every ounce of creative energy into it, putting your heart and soul into it and staying on till its finished no matter the cost. That is okay too. For some people, that is what works best and is completely understandable. So do what works for you, art isn’t science after all.

Usually by the time one thing is off my desk and stamped “done”, I’ve already gotten the next project lined up. Actually, the next two or three things that I want to work on, which helps me get motivated to complete the one that I’m on. But that isn’t to say that I won’t work on another project for myself on the side. It helps to keep things moving in the attic, get the cogs spinning again when I think their stuck.

Art is a wonderful thing, there is always something that you can do with it. There are so many different paths, so many different options and techniques, you should never honestly get board with it. Even if you lose interest in the project you’ve got before you, there will be a multitude of others just waiting for you to try.

So get out there and open the flood gates on your creative juices. You don’t have to work on just one thing at a time, so don’t feel guilty. Things may take a little longer to complete, sometimes a lot longer, but you’ll be able to put the quality in it that your project deserves.  Just roll up your sleeves, take a deep breath, smile and get ready to get your hands dirty – with another project.

Why Not?

“Why Not?” are actually somewhat powerful words. They ask you to supply a good enough reason not to do something, to present a worthy argument against your fears. When asked, maybe you’d like to actually do it and you’re holding back or maybe you’d really rather not to and you honestly have a legitimate reason to hold back. But sometimes, as talked about in last week’s post, you have to take a deep breath, hold yourself steady and take the plunge.

There are in fact a good number of things to answer negatively to those words, that much is very true. For example (I shouldn’t even have to be supplying these, but), why not jump into a pool of sharks with sausages wrapped around your neck – and if I have to tell you why, I’m sorry… Standing outside in a thunderstorm holding a metal rod. Licking a car battery. Licking frozen metal. The list could go on – and does, but we’re not really interested in those sorts of questions, so, for now we’ll leave it at that. We already know the answers to those questions and most of them aren’t good ones or ones that we’d like to hear. Those are questions we shouldn’t be pursuing right now. We’ve got better ones to ask.

But there are a good number of questions that you should ask yourself “Why Not?” too. Why not start painting that picture that you had the idea for? Why not take out those pens and inks that you picked up a while back and see how they do? Why not go out for a while and take some pictures in the early sunlight or just at dusk like you’ve thought of doing before? Why not?

Those are the questions that we are interested in at the moment. They don’t all have to be related to art or artistic pursuits; it can be applied to many areas of our daily lives. Why not pull out that recipe you’ve been wanting to try? Why not go out for a Sunday afternoon drive? Why not try that new game that you’ve been wanting to?

You may answer those same questions with “Well, I’m not that artistic…”, or “I’ve never really done anything like that before, so I’d probably not be any good at it…”, or even “Why should I, there are so many people better at it than I could ever be…”

Those are not the right answers. At all. They are the right questions, but certainly the wrong answers. And believe me, I’ve heard them all.

Maybe you don’t feel like you actually have the time – and maybe you don’t right now. That would be a legitimate answer – but one day you will. Maybe you feel like you’ll get lost in the shuffle and become a part of the white noise. Maybe you think that you’re not good enough or that you’re just going to botch it up because you’ve never done anything like it before. Well, who’s to say you’re not going to mess it up the first time?

And who is to say that is a bad thing? It actually really isn’t a bad thing – it can even be a good thing. It’s how we learn as humans. Not succeeding isn’t a bad thing – it just means try again, it doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that you are a failure. You just have to pick yourself up again and try one more time. Unless you’re dealing with nuclear particles or explosives of some sort, you’re usually allowed to have another try.

So what if the first picture you paint looks like you dropped the paint pallet on the canvas and decided to add some darker spots to shadows – in the wrong places? So what if your drawing looks more like a stick figure than a lesson in human muscular structure? So what if your photos are out of focus and grainy, capturing only half of what you wanted and your thumb is obscuring the frame? Or perhaps you forgot the lens cap.

“So What?” are powerful words too. They are a good counter to all those negative answers you might get.

You can paint over it or try another canvas. You can study what you’re trying to draw and grab a fresh piece of paper or just use the eraser. You can reload that camera and give it another go.

Too often we forget just what we are capable of if we set our minds to it. Too often we give up before we even try. Trust yourself and you can accomplish anything.

Your Worst Critic

Artist are a large and rather diverse lot – actually, the most diverse lot there is! They come in all shapes, all sizes, all walks of life. They draw their inspiration, their ideas, their concepts from a million different sources. Each one is as unique as the next. They come from all over the world, from every corner of existence. Each one has a different way of doing the exact same thing and a different medium to dabble in. Some have dedicated their whole lives to their trade, others have only just picked up the tools of their interest, eager to ply their way to fame or just to have some fun. But as diverse as each one is, they all share one thing in common – at least a majority of them anyway.
An artist’s worst critic is the artist themselves.

True, there are some bold ones out there – and good for them, secure in their confidence and knowledge that they are indeed the best of their trade – regardless of whether or not this is indeed fact or merely their idea, its real enough for them and that is what counts.
It doesn’t matter to them, their work is good regardless of what anyone thinks of it. And that isn’t a bad mentality to have regardless of how good the actual product is, so long as the artist is enjoying themselves.
But for the majority of artists out there, or at least the ones that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, they have all wondered if their work was good enough, always wanting to do another touch here or another drop of color there. That isn’t a bad thing either, wanting to go the extra mile or two to make sure their work is the best it can be or at least do everything that they can do to make it that way. But you should never question your work to the point that you don’t share it.
Sharing your art, your work, your passion is the best thing you can do with art. It isn’t a spectator sport, it’s a get your hands dirty and grin sort of affair. It isn’t what makes you an artist, sharing your work – you are, by definition and truth already one if you have made art, even if you are withholding it from your eager audience.
Sharing your art is a good idea, showing it off, letting people know and see what you do and what you are capable of. You should have the mentality of the child showing their parent the picture you drew, the one that they want hung on the fridge, proudly displayed for all to see.
When you share your art, when you get over the initial fear of criticism, the better you will be. Criticism isn’t bad – especially when its constructive-criticism. There is a big difference between criticism (or constructive criticism) and just knit-picking, a rather large difference. When you share your work, when you take that plunge, along with all the negative, there comes the positive, the comments (those are the good ones). You hear what people think of your work, how much they like or dislike it. And most importantly, you hear their take on it and a few new techniques. It’s good to have your own way of doing things and figure things our for yourself, but it’s always a good idea it be able to talk to someone about your passion and get their suggestions for improvement. Not all of them are going to work for you, that is true of anything really. But between the ones that won’t work, there are a good number that will and that you’ll love.

You don’t have to just go run out there and start showing off your latest painting or drawing on the streets, running up to someone and spinning them around with your work. That is actually a terrible idea and will probably not help facilitate a future in art – at all.
And you shouldn’t expect to see your work emblazoned on the billboards in Time-square either, at least not right away. But if you work hard enough, you practice your trade, you may just get there one day.
There are many good places to share your work, especially if you are looking for suggestions, input and constructive criticism. There are actually many websites solely dedicated to sharing your art with many devoted communities just waiting to see what you’ve got and to discuss it with you.
One great website if you are looking is Deviant Art. It’s a great place to start if you’re an amateur looking to simply get your feet wet and share your art or if you’re a serious professional with a portfolio a mile wide, it doesn’t matter. They’ve got plenty of discussion areas and people who look forward to seeing what all you’ve made, eager to hear how you did it and to make some suggestions for future projects.
A word of caution though, when dealing with the internet and forums, you should make sure that your work is perfectly marked. This prevents people from stealing it and also to make sure that you get credit for it. Watermarks are your friend.
The world didn’t get where it was over night and that is a very important lesson to learn, the sooner the better. It took time. Lots of time.
Nobody started off a legend, nobody got where they are today by simply picking up a pencil – they got their by picking up that pencil and picking it up and picking it up again and again till they got where they wanted to be. It took practice, many hours of patient practice.
As clichéd as it can be, Michelangelo didn’t just decide one day that he would paint the Sistine Chapel, thinking he would just throw some paint up there and see how it looked. In reality, it took him years to plan and years more to paint. It was a massive undertaking, carefully and thoughtfully done. It was also one of his last works, meaning he had plenty of experience and practice under his belt before he even began the project. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do something that will be remembered throughout the ages as something spectacular. It just means that you have to try to remember that being thought of as one of the greats throughout time immemorial isn’t a tangible or worthy goal, but to create great works that you love and have a passion for is more than a worthwhile goal, its something to go after.
You just have to try.
So go share your art, pull it out from hiding and let the light shine on your creations, let your yet to be adoring audience let you know what they think of your passion. Take a
break from being your own critic, let someone else have a turn. You may just like what you
I assure you, it can’t be as bad as what you would have it. You can rest assured of that.
And remember, Everyone, Everywhere started somewhere and at sometime.
There is only one way you can improve. Take the plunge.