Without Love, I Am a Clanging Cymbal.

Why do we do it? We were smart enough to become financial gurus, creative enough to become captains of industry but for some reason, we chose the road less traveled.
Because we crave less? We enjoy driving older model cars and living in smaller homes? Yes, it feels good to push ourselves without getting immediate financial rewards. This is hardly the truth.
Is there anything more substantial than love? In the grand scheme of things, is there anything more important? The greatest qualities exemplified throughout history were birthed from the principle of love. Most of the creative people that I know have sacrificed status both financial and social.
Is this love for creating a romantic love? It can be sometimes but anyone who has persevered through the very tough times knows that romance goes out the window when extremely difficult trials occur, such as, evictions, losing cars and relationships because of this love to create, understands it’s much more. Year after year the steadfast creative soul resolutely continues up this chosen road. I remember one painter tell me that it is like swimming more than half way across a river. At this point, it is too late to swim back.
We do live in the real though and we need to pay the bills when the creative life is not. Many of us get 9-5 jobs to pay the bills. Many who work with us can just kick back and enjoy happy hours and television. That is not the case for us. After the 9-5 ends, that is when our true work day begins. 
Ok, so what is the point you ask? As Paul has said in 1 Corinthians 13:2 : 
If I have faith to move mountains and do not have love, I am nothing.
We really didn’t give up anything,  just didn’t want to give up on love.

Pastel Painting ; Other weapons for the Battle

Other Weapons for the Battle
We want advantages that can be taken away when we pick pastel as our medium of choice. Each weakness does not have to stay a liability; if we always seek to solve the problems that we face. The techniques and materials I am sharing with you came out of that very spirit of trial and error.
Waterproof markers are an amazing tool. These will enable you to achieve a hard detailed edge that would otherwise be impossible with just using pastel alone. Why not use this to create a better painting?  Make sure you use caution with these waterproof markers because subtlety is key here. Today there are so many colors and values with waterproof markers that one can use for so many applications in your pastel paintings. One example could be the crease of the eye lid or a nail bed on the finger. When we let go of convention and only think of problem solving, a whole new world opens up. Some of the best colors are various shades of grays. Pitt, makes a wonderful line of warm and cool grays from light to dark, shades of red from the lightest pink to the darkest reddish browns. There will be many occasions that these will provide a crisp exactitude not available by just using pastels alone.
Erasers are wonderful tools. I like using the standard kneaded erasers that most every pastel painter will use; However there are so many different erasers out there from the softest to the most aggressive erasers. There are pencil erasers and electric erasers that all provide a service when creating texture or lifting color for lightening a value or highlights; To create detail while taken away pigment is called reductive details. It’s cleaner than adding pastel on top of pastel.
Razor blades or Exacto knives are amazing for lightly scraping away tight details, such as, the creases in the lips or the light against the wrinkles on a finger. This can not be done as beautifully using just pastel. What is does is that it remove all the pigment exposing the gesso surface underneath.
In the final stages of the pastel painting, I also like to use a liner brush and waterproof ink to paint some of the loose strands of hair. I will dilute the ink mixture to create the transparency that the strands of hair have.
All of these techniques are answers to the limitations that are inherent in pastels. The point that I am making is that we must move beyond the limitations and find the solutions. Your painting journey in pastels should be a linear progression to achieve what was once thought of as the unachievable goal. I love when collectors mention to me that the painting does not look like any pastel painting that they have ever seen. Because as the great Neo Classical painter, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, said, ” The technique should be invisible, only the painting should be visible.”

Living in the Moment?

This morning many of us are commuting, waiting for this afternoon’s winter storm. This air is brisk and gray. All the weather reports speak about the dangerous snow and wind. What do we do? Do we go about as though it is not coming or do we get nervous? 
We can prepare the best we can but in the end we just have to wait and see. I see many people still going about their work day as though the storm is not going. Perhaps this is what we should do? Wayne Dwyer, the philosopher, states that we should live in the moment. Is living ” in the moment” a heightened way to live, or is it being unrealistic and living with our head in the sand?
When it comes to creating a painting or drawing it is very important to be prepared and count the cost, materials, time and technique needed to complete; however there needs to be a spontaneity about the work as it progresses or it could be stunted and forced. In essence , I think a combination of the two schools of thoughts is needed to be prepared and live in the moment. 
So we bundle up and we put the salt on the walkways. We watch the weather but we also go to work and we make sure we live in the moment.
God Bless,

Desperately Seeking Tranquility

Today I was originally going to discuss stress but we can’t go away from an idea. Today I am going to talk about peace of mind as it pertains to us creative people.

The misconception out there is that “the creative”, just floats through life from one painting or poem to another singing la la la. You and I both know that we are often heavy laden with burdens just like anyone else. The compound of this is the fact that it effects our creativity and often gets in the way. Personal and professional lives are much more difficult for us the separate. These words from Jesus help me::

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:22-26 NIV)

This is something I need to keep in front of my mind at all times, because in our 9 to 5 jobs we can sometimes fly on autopilot but not when it comes to our creative endeavors.  Not only does the art suffer, it often shuts down all together.

With all of this said, let’s always move towards peace of mind and don’t carry all the burdens on our backs. Jesus also said,

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Freedom of stress frees us to share the beauty within us to the world. The world sorely needs that. Do you agree?

God Bless,

Winter Experiences

India Ink on Wood Panel

Winter is surely here. There is no mistake about this. The temperatures throughout the United States were around zero or below . It reminds me of the “winter experiences” we all share in life. A time when we seek warmth, shelter and protection from the harsh elements in the outside world.

Our Winter experiences are a time for contemplation and memories of the summer that seems like it was a lifetime ago. As artists writers and musicians we hunker down in our studios to create the spring that is within our hearts. The pristine white of the canvas, like that of the carpet of fresh snow outside is just waiting to be renewed into something vibrant and fertile. The dormant buds on the bare tree branch against the steel gray sky is but a drawing of spring’s promises.

As creative spirits, we can see the unseen on the blank page or be sparked by a single word to create a poem of extreme warmth and life. Let us see the winter slumber as a time rebirth and hope Its only in the quiet winter mornings can we listen to the still small voice within us all.

Breathe Life in Your Morning Routine

Did you know that most of the things that we create art with start out as dust? Charcoal, graphite, paint and pastel and ink all begin in a powdered state. We as artists and writers, have the blessing of turning dust into something that has life and vitality! It is the gift of creation from God.

Some of us have hour long commutes and some are just a few feet from the bedroom to the home office. Either way, we have the choice how to start our days before we begin the work day. Just as we turn that dust into a sketch,in into a paragraph, a painting or an idea, we can create life into a lifeless morning. Like the Phoenix, out of the ashes, we rise into someone who can recreate the ashes into strength and beauty. You have the ability to turn the ordinary into the amazing.

You are not common and your morning commute should not be either. Let your passions, your creativity and strength breathe. Do not be afraid of turning the dust into beauty.

Trusting in Closed Doors

Timothy John-Luke Smith, PSA
“Maya Vase Roll-Out”
Pastel on wood panel
Have you ever wanted something so much? Have you prayed for something with extreme and in earnest? It was a noble request or goal but somehow, no matter what you did the door closed anyway? It has happened to me and I am sure it has happened to you.
Revelations 3:7 says: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
I know we have to take the sweet with the bitter but I had just seen a great Joel Osteen sermon on trusting God, when he shuts a door. I have been guilty of not letting go of what was. This will cause me to lose what God, has for me, blessings that are right around the corner.  God, does put promises into our hearts but we have to trust Him. His ways are better than our ways.
So, we should wait for “God’s best”. If you have lost something or someone you held dear to your heart, have courage. 
In Isaiah 61:7 God says: Instead of shame and dishonor,you will enjoy a double share of honor.
So what does this have to do with having goals and being an artist, writer or musician? The “take away” is to have faith that we wont lose anything if we trust God, and His word. While waiting on God’s timing, we need to take care of the things that we need to take care of. We need to continue on the road towards those goals that God has “hard wired into us”; Work on finishing that painting or starting that first page in your new book or poem. Let us be people of action. Let us not ask the question, “Why did God, close that door?” . Let us ask the question, “What door is God, going to open for me next?”
God Bless,

Klimt’s Muse

by Gustav Klimt

On my morning and evening commute these past few months I have been reading the biographies of various artists. Artists that I am interested in. Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) Austrian Painter, was a fascinating artist. His work went from a stark academic style to his “Gold Period”, however, and finally to his lyrical expressionistic and decorative style later in his life. however, as a constant throughout his career, that constant was his obsession with the female form.

Having this same obsession since I can remember, I feel a kinship with Klimt. The female form as a means of expression is not anything original throughout art history, but it is personal for every artist. As it was personal for Gustav Klimt, it is for me. What is it about women that a painter can donate their career to the pursuit of her beauty, mystery, and expression?

When I was a child I drew childish things, such as, battleships and dinosaurs but as I grew older, I have mainly painted women. Artists that I have admired throughout history such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Edward Burne-Jones have had similar subject matter. Some say that poetry and painting are “sister arts”. A good argument is that women are the embodiment of the poetic, thus bridging the two sister arts into one expression.

A sunset, a stunning landscape or male figure are all beautiful subjects and worthy of art and the attention of the artist; However there is something a little more electric, for me, about the artists who were dedicated to the expression of woman; woman as muse, woman as subject and woman as poetry.

God Bless,