Why You Don’t Have To Be Ernest Hemingway To Write About Your Art

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Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Cascade 1. digital photography

article by Marisa D. Aceves

We all love creating our artwork.

When we get a new idea that we just can’t wait to flesh out, we race to our studios with sparkling eyes and child-like enthusiasm, but while we’re content to lose ourselves in the creative process, we may or may not always feel the same when assigned the task of writing about our art.

Why is writing about what we love to do so intimidating?

Could it be that many of us share a common tendency to compare the quality of our thoughts and words to those of   popular art magazines or perhaps the works of award winning authors we were forced to read in school (ex. Hemingway and Malamud)that leave us tossing our laptops and tablets in disgust at out perceived  lack of literary genius?

Of course we could always make the excuse that we were too busy in our studios to write about our work…

…and maybe that might be partially true…but…

…no matter how much we procrastinate, ultimately we will have to provide some explanation for why we create, even if the real reason is as uncomplicated as “I felt like it!”.

If you are one of a number of artists who subtly fears the writing process, don’t fret over words.

Make them work for you.

Here are some suggestions for cutting through the confusion and getting to the meat of your artistic message.

1) Give A Little History –  Inquiring people are anxious to know how, when and why you became an artist.

Some artists’ route to creativity is traditional while others “fall into” their art practice by first participating in some other activity.

Include this distinction in the course of writing about your work.

If you are an artist which has a background in other fields of expertise and you apply this experience to your art, explain how this adds to your unique approach and perspective.

Artists who have undertaken a more traditional, well-traveled route to their artistic development may want to share what subjects, events etc. that inspired them or that continue to inspire their creations.

2) Write About Your Work Often – Practice removes the “intimidation factor” from your writing.

Sure, it’s a little scary, but then again, if you are still learning, you’re always new at something.

Set aside time in the day or week to write down your thoughts and feelings about your work.

Create a schedule that you know is easy to keep.

3) Write in Small Increments – Sitting yourself down to write for an hour or two can lead to procrastination as you sit there tapping pencil to paper waiting for the words to flow.

 If you know that you freeze when forced with a long, drawn out job, you may want to spread the work out and do things in between writing.

This eases you anxiety and helps you to collect you thoughts.

4) Observe the Writing of Others – 

I think the best way to learn how to write about art is to familiarize yourself with the way fellow professional artists write about their work and the work of others.

When observing articles artist write about other artists, consider these questions:

 a) Do they include background information about the artist before describing what they do?

 b) Do they include where the artist lives and works, their specialty (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.?

 c) Do they mention the artists level of education, awards and experience?

 d) Do they mention what is unique about the artists’ work?

Once you learn to break down art articles into bits of information, the easier and less intimidating it will be to write about your own.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you study the artist statements of others:

1) What is their work about?

2) What is their particular discipline (photography, painting, sculpture, installation etc.)?

3) Why do they create their work?

4) What are they trying to say with their work?

As you read their statements make sure to answer the questions mentioned above.

When you are finished you will have a rough map of the type of information that you will need to include in your own statement.

You can learn to write about your own art, or defer to others who may or may not truly understand your vision.

Be pro-active; don’t let the meaning of your art get lost in translation.

I am hopeful that over time, you will continue to grow and improve your communication with your audience.

How To Get Past Your Insecurities To Produce The Artwork You Love

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Marisa D. Aceves. Rockin’ With Grandma: 60’s Aqua Pattern Punchbowl. digital photography http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Whatever our physical or perceived challenges, we often struggle to get past the world’s expectation of us and our abilities.

Despite our past disappointments, we have all sought refuge in our need to make art out of lifes’ experiences.

What do we do though when the latest idea that we have entertained is immediately shot down by friends, family and colleagues?

Do we give up the projects that excite us the most or do we decide to continue and ignore the opposition?

While people can’t get into our heads to fully understand the scope of our artistic vision, here are some ways to help silence the insecurities that many of us face when we encounter resistance:

1) Suspend Judgement 

Go ahead, create your latest artwork series.  Don’t worry about what others will say or have said in the past. When you worry about what others think, you begin creating the type of art you believe others want to see not necessarily the art you want to create. The resentment builds.  Your art production begins to feel like a chore instead of a privilege.

2) Avoid Over-editing

In the beginning of your process, go ahead and let your ideas and thoughts flow. Work freely and without apologies.  You can sensor yourself later. This will help you to both know and trust the way you work.  Over-editing often leads to indecision.  When indecision occurs, walk away.  Take a brief break. Your work will still be there waiting for you.

3) Leave Peoples’ Opinions With Them

Don’t let other peoples’ opinions about an idea or project you want to pursue keep you from following through. Not everyone will like your work.  While this fact can bore a hole in the most sensitive egos, people have a right to their opinion. This also means you have a right to yours. It’s your work. Your art should express your views and unique insight.  If a person gives constructive criticism, it is solely up to you wether to take it or leave it.

4) Resistance May Be A Sign of  Groundbreaking Work 

In some cases, people may resist because the type of work you are creating is unfamiliar or ahead of it’s time.  Keep pushing yourself.  New work is often initially rejected.  However, over time, it is accepted as the norm. Be patient with yourself and others.

While many of us seek unconditional love and encouragement from our peers, we have to learn to be our own cheerleaders. Don’t wait for someone else to approve. If you do, you may be waiting for a long time.