Comparison, productivity and white paint

comparison

kəmˈparɪs(ə)n/
noun
1.
a consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people 


Social comparison theory states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success).


I tend to “constantly make self evaluations across the artistic domain”. No, wait! Come to think of it, the capabilities domain, the good-wife domain, the health domain, the mid-life domain ..

My mind shifts quickly from adding to that list to what I “achieved” today. Something that went some way in helping me to feel productive maybe even creative and that wasn’t something that I would tarnish with an automatic comparison.

I painted. Albeit not a scenery, nor a portrait to make me feel a sense of accomplishment or moment of pride, but it involved paint and a paint brush. A very good step in my “add-more-creativity-into-every-day” journey.

I can see the thick white paint sticking like peanut butter to the black acrylic bristles, sludging as I slopped the brush along each beam of our twenty foot by twenty foot carport to cover the film that had developed over the five years since Bill built the carport.

I don’t mind painting. I’ve painted quite a few things around our home not only because we are both tight arses but to put a fresh look over the place and feel house proud. I guess I also feel somewhat obliged to do my bit and also cut my Bill a break – he’s not as young agile as he used to be. Besides, he hates painting. Says it was as boring as f…

white paint tin

So, I thought about why I don’t so much as hesitate to paint repetitious white lines on linear undeviating wooden panels, and yet I find it ten times harder to paint something colourful, beautiful and artistic. Why I almost enjoy taking one colour (despite white actually not being a colour) along a panel of wood over and over and over again.

As I painted I thought of the old cliche of painting being ‘meditative’ but that didn’t sit quite right. That term doesn’t sit right for a lot of things lately – the whole “it’s good for you because it’s meditative” garb. So there I was, stretching to find an appropriate description and explanation for not minding the art of simple paint application.

Given that the last couple of days I’d spent viewing, pondering and comparing myself to professional artists and writers – which left me feeling a little crushed via a sense of under achievement – I figured this type of painting was not the type that demanded anything from me or asked for any comparison. This type of painting was constructive, productive and purposeful. These are things I find hard to feel or find in artistic type painting. This type of painting was the type that gives you that sense of ‘productivity’ without comparison or judgement. I don’t find it hard to paint a block of wood to make it look fresh and keep it from rotting but I find it hard to paint for art’s sake; to paint without judgement or comparison and yet still feeling like I’m being productive.

Painting a carport does not require as much if any “consideration or estimate of the similarities or dissimilarities between two things or people” (comparison), it does not “determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others” (social comparisons theory), whereas art and being artistic – for me – does promote comparison, and is often used to measure against others, especially in determining if it’s ‘good enough’ and therefore used as a means to determine personal worth.

If I were to follow my own advice (I often give my design students advice to create from their own ideas without getting ideas from Google, for example), and if I allow my intuition, my innate creative abilities to surface with the same simplicity I have when painting panels of wood, I’d possibly be a very content and unjudging artist, painter, illustrator, writer who doesn’t need to compare her work with others or feel the need to paint only to feel like she’s been productive. If ..

The truth about creativity [for me at least]

Yesterday I was in Dean Swift’s Book shop in Nowra looking for a Bernard Cornwell book for Bill – he loves how Cornwell takes historic 17th and 18th century facts and turns them into incredibly detailed and vivid modernised stories. Bill’s always encouraged me to read. He says ‘it’s very good for your imagination’. I’m not sure I need any encouragement to promote my imagination since it runs rife without my volition on an all too regular basis.

I once started to read one of Cornwell’s books. It was all roses for the most of the first chapter and I thought I might actually be able to get into this kind of historic tale. It was a tale of ‘Alfred the Great and his descendants as told through the eyes of Uhtred, an English boy born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria, captured by the Danes and taught the Viking ways^. As I read on, I realised I’d gotten towards the end of the first chapter – unheard of for me in one sitting. I became enthusiastic, enjoying getting engrossed in the beginnings of a story that could possibly hold my interest. I came to the very last page and suddenly I was thrusted into shock when the last paragraph detailed a brutal and disturbing beheading. Just the treat before I was to venture off to tranquil, peaceful slumber!

It’s fair to say I didn’t read another of “Bill’s types of books” but I found that I had developed a knack of finding him better books than he was able to find for himself. And the Bernard Cornwell, rip your head off type were exactly what my man needed more of. I’m not so sure but who am I to know what a man’s soul needs. If nothing else, the least I can grant him is what he says he needs, wants and enjoys.

So, the new, thirty two dollar Cornwell book was in my hands. I gently flipped it’s fresh smooth pages as I browsed more books. I have a bit of a book fetish – not the worst of fetishes I think. None the less, every time I rearrange my books in my home studio, I always seem to manage a cry of “what the hell am I doing with all these books” and yet I still love them. Perhaps it is associated with a drill my sister use to have where she would take me to a newsagent or book shop and encourage me to snif the pages of the glossy, almost perfumed pages of not one but several magazines. I don’t know, but books do something to me and I’ve often thought that in another life I could be a book-shop owner. Perhaps I’ll reincarnate as a stork carrying an expensive or rare illuminated text?

I continued to browse and spotted a lovely hard covered book at the end of a book shelf right up the back of the book shop. The art on it’s cover grabbed my attention immediately. It’s that kind of image that spoke to me – almost like something I have created or would like to create. I flicked through the pages and reviewed the artists’ life and works. Seeing the photos of Belinda Cox, her studio set up, the mood boards displayed around her studio for inspiration and focus and all of her consistent and recognisable artwork, reminded me of how little I was as an artist and how some people develop into adult, professional and sophisticated artists.

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Belinda Cox Book Cover

Despite feeling a little artistically and creatively crushed, I just had to have the book. It had a firm, smooth-feeling cover, it was wonderfully colourful throughout and it felt well made. The art on it’s cover and within it really resonated with me. Then I looked at the price of the book ($85) and realised perhaps I could simply view her art on the web or buy the book cheaper online (I looked it up while I was in Dean’s – $53). It wasn’t until I got home and really looked at the art with a more considered and discerning eye that I realised it didn’t resonate with me as deeply as when I was in the shop. When I got home and viewed her art online it appeared murky – not as clean, colourful and vibrant as I had first thought. None-the-less it was incredibly modern, intuitive and mature art. I could certainly learn from this woman. I read her profile and once again felt small.

So what has all this got to do with the truth about creativity?

All the books, videos, speeches, profiles, the three, five or twenty-step processes and therapy I’ve completed over the years .. I know they are well-meaning, but what they have failed to ‘cure’ for me is the annoying reoccurring unconscious patterns that have come from years of indoctrinations which have suppressed my creative genes and rung in my ear like an incurable case of tinnitus. Perhaps one of the only things to help me consider how my belief systems, innocent views and natural talent could have been tainted, suppressed or essentially ‘murdered’ during my younger impressionable years is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. I went through that book with a fine coloured pencil inch by inch, completing every activity, every contemplation and every exercise. And aside from a little creativity in completing the exercises, there was virtually no increase in creativity that came with it for me.

I’ve read, I’ve watched, I’ve listened and I’ve meditated on how to be more creative and I’ve desperately searched for something that will bring my ‘creative gene’ back. I’ve been advised to go out, to “fill the well”, to get inspired by the likes of Julia Cameron’s book, Belinda Cox’s art or even Bernard Cornwell’s beheadings! I’ve self educated and done a myriad of things that were designed to inspire me and to promote creativity but at the end of the day none of it has worked – for me at least.

Now that I’m an adult with natural urges and surges of creativity that were disrupted and who’s confidence and ‘artistic maturity’ never really developed or florished, I’m stuck. What could have been a normal creativity flow is never going to be like second nature as it might have been when I was an aloof and creative child or adolescent.

The truth for me is one of either two things – drop the fantasy of being the impulsively creative child I use to be – without critiuque without reason and without comparison – or perhaps I’ve got it all wrong and that banging my head against the creative barge poll will never reveal the pool of creative oil that I’ve been misguided in believing would happen if I banged hard enough.

Perhaps in letting all of this go, it be what it will be.

^ Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom Series, http://www.bernardcornwell.net/series/the-last-kingdom-series/, sourced 16 December 2016.

Downloading new software to take the focus off my head!

So, to avoid creating something I decided to look at what’s happening in the tweeting world. I found a tweet by the CreativeBloq team http://www.creativebloq.com/news/incredible-new-graphic-design-app-now-available-to-download and proceeded to download the software because I couldn’t decided whether to go out and look for a new washing machine or do something more productive like finish painting the carport – more things to take the focus off being more creative! What is it with this? That I feel I must be continuously creative?

This software looks amazing! Perhaps a steep learning curve even for a seasonsed teacher who uses Adobe on a daily basis. Something to keep the juices flowing and anything to keep me from truly being the master of any one topic, subject or field!

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Glass Bowl

Being adamant that I can teach myself how to paint in watercolour, I went searching for inspiration online. I found two amazing and award-winning watercolour artists – Susan Harrison-Tuntain [New Zealand] and Anne Agbott [Canada]. Anne’s work on painting glass inspired me to turn my hand from painting flowers to painting glass. The small candle holders I was using to hold water for my trials were the closest, and handy since they already had H2O in them ready for observation and replication.

When I started experimenting with watercolour, my husband [the “non” artist in our family] suggested it was one of the hardest mediums to master. And yesterday while I was in our local Arthouse art supplies shop, I over heard a customer talking about art classes. I stopped and asked him about watercolour workshops and he too suggested watercolour was hard. Who would have known I would choose the harder of the mediums to learn! I quickly asked the shop owner for information on taking a watercolour class and she suggested Peter Stathers of Berry NSW. Stay tuned on where that gets me.

So, after all that, later that night I painted my first attempt at glass. What a tricky subject this was! There were so many intricate shadings, glows and highlights – I couldn’t get them all in! But I think it’s fair to say, it looks like a glass bowl.

Captured in the storm

After a successful brainstorming session with my diploma in web development students, one of my students passed on a moment capturing our ‘storming’. Today, I had another session with my certificate IV web development students and it occurred to me that the days of ‘storming’, ideas generating and graphic design development are some of my best! Thank you to all my dedicated and hard working students for making my day[s].

Luise Grice brainstorming

Mens Shed Extension

Today I started filming the extension of the Nowra Mens shed. I was invited to film the project to show the dedication and hard work that retiree veterans will be putting into extending the shed.

The extension will provide veterans of the community with more workshop space and lunch and rest facilities. Regulars of the shed Graham, Bill, Kevin and Frank will all be involved in seeing the extension to fruition .. but a lot of hard work is yet to come. The following are some preliminary shots:

Footings dug Prep for concrete pour Prep for concrete pour

The shed lays on the Jim da Silva Farm Nowra and is a joint venture of the St Vincent de Paul Society and the NSW Department of Housing.

 

Latest Branding Project

Cimador Bathrooms – Prestige Renovations is a local bathroom and home renovating business run by licence builder Richard Cimador. Richard wanted a logo that represented quality by way of a traditional and well known seal of quality. He wanted his business name to read not only quality but prestige and reliability.

Below are a few images showing the logo, type and promotional branding luisegrice.com created to meet the client’s needs. The Cimador Bathrooms web site showcases the final designs, photos taken by luisegrice.com and their application.

Graphic Design Diploma

 

Somehow, even after two uni degrees, this one seems to take the cake – a Graphic Design Diploma!

Is it that it is more aligned to my role of teaching design? Perhaps the timing is right? Or more likely it is simply that I have found my calling? None the less, this one will be taking pride of place in my studio! I can’t wait to take it to the next level .. but will little ole Nowra TAFE [even Wollongong TAFE] offer that level? No, they don’t.

Well then, perhaps it’s time I made use of the skills I’ve learned and created something satisfying and worthwhile? Like some of the work I created for the diploma.

Dip Graphic Design

 

Mending a ‘love-hate’ relationship

As a TAFE teacher, this time of the year poses a threat to a love-hate relationship I have with technology. The ‘can’t-live-without-it’ regime of keyboard thrashing, internet hashing and hash tagging. It’s a hard one to shift but after a month an a half of school holidays and a self-imposed ban on Mac, iPad and iPhone .. some good has come.

After several home maintanence jobs, finishing a novel abandoned months ago, and sitting with my ideas .. the creative juices have begun to flow freely again and the commonly known love-hate relationship with all things technology has dissapted.  Instead of psycho-mania causing reading of bits and pieces of design books, sporadic web articles and snippets of tweets, creativity and ideas have surfaced!

For example an idea for a children’s book was ‘regurgitated’. It is [currently] called A frog and a dog. Below is the work in progress so far and an initial draft of the proposed front cover:

IMG_1892 frog dog

It is a story about an unhappy dog who meets a guru-type frog who helps the dog to become happy again. A bit of a familiar story but one that never goes astray [pun intended]. A story board has been written for the book and the next steps will be to nut out the details of each page within the book.

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Given that I often start projects but rarely finished them [unless someone with greater authority over sees them and is there to give me a gentle rearend nudge], it is hoped that publishing the progress of the book on the web will bring about a renewed urgency for project completion. Therefore, any comments for inspiration to attain this are more than welcome. I hope you enjoy the progress of A frog and a dog.

The images shown above have been created and drawn by Luise Grice and are the property of Luise Grice.