Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Curiosity over Passion?

New work born of  pure curiosity. . . could I design a "library-tower" that actually features ledgers/books  as part of the design on the OUTSIDE?

Curiosity over Passion?

Recently, while listening to the audio book of "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by  Elizabeth Gilbert, I was struck by several things. One was her no-nonsense sort of approach to creativity. It reminded me quite a bit of my own mother, but more supportive in a creativity sense. Loving and spot on but definitely a bit brusque and harsh. Even outright stern at times. Her views on creativity and making a life out of it are not a sugary sweet approach at all. No excuses. No hand-holding. Definitely not every one's cup of tea.

But it may be the most inspired book on creativity I have "read". And I usually ONLY read but, since it was read by the author, I felt it would be worth hearing it in her voice. 

One of my favorite offerings that she expressed was that she would rather see people "follow their curiosity over their passion". This is a subject, I now know, she has spoken of frequently before and after the book's release so I won't quote her beyond the following because she has so many wonderful views out there on the subject. 

"Passion is a tower of flame, but curiosity is a tiny tap on the shoulder — a little whisper in the ear that says, "Hey, that's kind of interesting…"
Passion is rare; curiosity is everyday.
The trick is to just follow your small moments of curiosity. It doesn't take a massive effort. Just turn your head an inch. Pause for a instant. Respond to what has caught your attention. Look into it a bit. Is there something there for you? A piece of information?
For me, a lifetime devoted to creativity is nothing but a scavenger hunt — where each successive clue is another tiny little hit of curiosity. Pick each one up, unfold it, see where it leads you next.
Small steps.
Keep doing that, and I promise you: The curiosity will eventually lead you to the passion."

I want to tell you why it was such an epiphany for me to hear someone say it, in their own words, and to almost denounce passion versus curiosity as what creative minded people should focus on pursuing. 

In my life, I could list the number of passions that have consumed my waking, creative and dreaming hours for periods of time. Writing music, multimedia performance shows, recording engineer, golf, bowling, digital art, poetry. . . as well as my jobs as a chef, pastry chef, coffeehouse owner etc etc etc. The list really does goes on. 

And, as far as passion went, each of them was a hot burning pursuit for anywhere from a few months to four or five years in my world. Longer when it came to the actual jobs I held. 

While I could easily list the reasons and circumstances under which most of them, as passions, fell away in my life, I could not have seen that there might be a common thread there until hearing Ms. Gilbert speak about following curiosity over passion. 

You see, each of those passions of mine began with a simple, almost benign curiosity. How is music written? Can I learn to play guitar, harp, bass, piano, percussion? Can I get a job in a restaurant kitchen? Can I learn French cuisine, Italian cuisine, Japanese cuisine. How good can I be at golf or bowling or ice hockey or softball. (all childhood recreational loves that resurfaced in my 20's)  Can I write/produce a multimedia show or make music for dance companies? 

Curiosity is always the gateway to passion for me it would seem. But what happens when passion loses curiosity as it's bedfellow? 

In each of the previously mentioned pursuits, there came a time when curiosity fell away or was satisfied. . . and passion no longer was enough. I've NEVER shared this story in my life but I took up bowling again in my mid 20's because, as a child, my mother would take me once a month to our local bowling alley and let me bowl a few games. Of course, in her way, she was both loving and overly critical all at once. I recall how often, after a gutter ball, she would say "If you're going to bowl like that we might as well go home right now. . . you can do better!" She never yelled really. . . she just had zero patience. She's still that way. It never bothered me then because I just loved the environment of the alley and the total/score was really secondary. The smells and noise and the weirdly wonderful repetition. 
10 wooden pins. 
One ball. 

But, I will say that, as a young adult, those memories flooded back and I wondered if I could be good at bowling as an adult. I was simply curious. And when in two years I had become good enough to bowl in the state tournaments and in the highest ratedleague in our local alley, the curiosity started to fall away.

I was good. Very good. But I knew that I did not want to put in the time or effort to be more than that.  Mostly, I was not the slight bit curious IF I could be! And I would say that right up to that point I was passionate about it. And then, suddenly, without the curiosity driving it, it went away.  

And this, I believe, is why making the things I do now: the fairy houses and statues of deities of the ancient world. Little elves and creatures from my own imagination. THIS passion was not only born of, but is constantly fueled by, my endless curiosity about these things. . . and the curiosity of my own inner world from childhood. 

Ancient myths and civilizations. Fairy tales. Childhood imagination, wonder and nostalgia. Dreams and 
day dreams. Telling stories and making up entire worlds, drawing maps, imagining possibilities. . . these are the things that are as rife with my own curiosity now as the were when I was a child. . . or a teen. . . or a young adult. . . even when I was in my lowest places, searching for something I could find meaning and, yes, passion in. These were ALWAYS there. And I was always curious about them in one way or another. 

If you could look within my heart, you'd find that thread running from childhood drawings to library reading lists to TV shows and movies to stories written and ideas stuffed in drawers and lost to time. 

These worlds I create were always present. 

And I do feel passionate about my work most every moment of every day. But what keeps that fire burning hot is the constant fuel of curiosity. New ideas. Can I? Will I be able to? Would anyone buy this? How is this made? 

It seems an endless source of inspiration.

I'll follow it wherever it leads, knowing that curiosity is always in the drivers seat and passion never far behind!

Have a wonderfully creative and CURIOUS day!


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Work In Progress: January 20th

In progress. . . the story of my daily creative world. : )

I'd be the very first to say I usually have far too many things under construction at any one time.  I will, on any given day, have 10-20 pieces in some stage of completion or design. I'll usually. . .  well, sometimes. . .  prioritize custom pieces but, after that, what I work on on any given day is really just what I feel like working on.

This is not always the best course of action, admittedly. There are days where my actual "work space" is down to about 6 inches square and I am surrounded by pleading eyes and waiting limbs and moss-less houses and half sculpted creatures!

I'm really trying to be a bit more con top of that and I think showing some of my in-progress work each week will help me push things thru instead of setting them aside for long periods while I get blissfully lost in the newest projects and never-ending inspirations!

So. . . some new things on the work table this week! Just wanted to share these as they are in progress and I'll update them when they are all complete. . .

Fairy Belles - These are the new iteration of something I tried two years ago but never really liked the results.
They actually have a jingly little bell in the hollowed bottom of the figurine that can be rung to summon fairy magic!
Two figurines in process. I've decided to focus on a feature story for my Bewildering Pine World that includes creatures known as Hobs ( like the little fella on the left) and Grimalkins ( the familiars of Hobs, as seen on the right) 
The Hob above (no name as of yet) will have a very dapper Victorian waist coat and tie and likely a bowler hat that he will be doffing! The Grimalkin (also as of yet unnamed) will look like the larger, completed one in the next image. 

Grimalkin is an old English archaic word for a cat! I love the Pewter finish and the claws that will match the eye color.
This is how I make the Fairy things on Stars! This one will become "Theia Straedoor's Tart Cart" on a Star with
mossy roof, stairs and fences, cooling table for the special, tiny Joonberry Tarts and the usual trees and landscaping!
And one recently finished addition to my Foxgoyle/Land of Kitsurada story/world. 

A mythic Kitsune, 9-Tailed Foxgoyle! 

Her name is Okudara and I think she's quite the creature!

So that's what's cooking here! Hope you are making magic today in your world too!


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Loss and Gain - Inspiration

This week has seen both. . .

It is almost impossible for me to imagine the world we live in without David Bowie.  He's just always been there. . .  the thin white duke. . . the man who fell to Earth. . . Major Tom.

He taught us to dance under the serious moonlight. . .

It's taken me three days to figure out what I'd like to say because I wanted to offer something meaningful and heartfelt. Something to sum up his place in my own world. What I can think of is this. . .  Growing up we all had this small window of time when, for most of us, music was just this magical thing that was a part of our world. Before we knew of radio stations, MTV, Concert tours, the business of it, the sometimes disfunction and self-destructive tendencies of it, the money and politics of it.

A time when it really was just pure sensory bliss.

For me, there is no other artist that sums that time up in my life like David Bowie. Songs like Starman, Rebel Rebel, Changes, Golden Years, Jean Genie, Young Americans and Fame were all over the radio stations and became the soundtrack of my single digit youth. I'd often sit in my room on weekend nights at age 10 and 11 and pretend to be a DJ with my own radio station on my old red plastic record player and I'd look so forward to playing those songs in my "rotation".

There were other artists and songs that stand out, to be sure, but there was something so magnetic about Bowies songs. And in my pre teen years, getting my first look at the visual world of Ziggy Stardust or Alladin Sane. . . well I, and my hair, at least for the next 20 years, would never be the same again. : )

And I am reminded how at my first cooking job at an Italian Restaurant the gregarious dishwasher named Rudi who was literally straight off a boat from Italy, and who seemed so out of place and spoke so little English, warmed up to me and my flame red hair right away and pretty much from his first day just called me, "Bowie".

And no doubt, due in great part to that chameleon aspect of Bowies public image, I've also changed personas over the years. Reinvention is how I have always thought of it but, when one phase of my life ended, I tend to move on completely and reinvent the outer/social/expressive me to suit my new environment. Keeping the best o the past incarnations and leaving all of the rest behind. Those days are far behind now too in all likelihood but, with his passing, I am reminded of it all again.

This is one of my favorite quotes from David Bowie. It has served me well for years in many facets of my life and perhaps never more so than now. . .

"I'm just an individual who doesn't feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I'm working for me." - David Bowie

And then, this past Wednesday, I received a book in the mail that I have been waiting awhile for. I know many of you probably are not very interested in the world of comics today but, if you'll bare with me, this may be one of the most wonderful art books, period, I have ever seen. 

In 2006 a friend of mine, and employee at the coffeehouse I owned then, handed me a comic and said,"I just think you might like this." That comic was the first issue of "Mouse Guard" by David Petersen.

I had not read or even considered a comic book for I don't know how long and was not prepared for the effect it would have on me. The art is, as I think the cover of this hardbound collected edition alone shows, simply amazing.

If you were ever a fan of Redwall or any animated animal series, DO check this out!!
David Petersen draws, colors and writes the entire series.

It inspired me
It lifted my soul
It righted a listing vessel which was, in many ways, my whole life at that particular point in time and it steered me back towards the possibilities and wonder of my youth. 

It was just the first of many comics I would come to love over the next few years (comics today are such a far cry from what I grew up with!)  and, whenever things felt a little dark or I lost sight of the connection between those early days of imagination and where I was at the time, I'd just pull out those issues and let them take me away again. 

Mouse Guard reminded me of my love of Redwall as a child and brought back a sense of purpose to the world I wanted to create as an adult. And, it led, indirectly and with many other little factors and influences, to what I create now. 

To this world I live in now. 

Never happier
Never more certain
Though, these past few days, a bit of sadness. . . missing Mr. Bowie and realizing time is always and endlessly marching forward for us all. . . 

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming”  ― David Bowie



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Kitsurada - Land of Foxgoyles

One of the many new projects I'm determined to set time aside for this year is the developing of a few pieces of the larger fantasy world I have been creating. Fleshing out characters, timelines and histories, locations etc etc so that, in the not-too-distant future, I can create more stories and, hopefully, complete books about them. From children's books to fantasy shorts and perhaps one good full length book/novel or two somewhere down the merry road.

I began diving into this idea at the end of 2015 to allow myself a "running start" at the mountain ahead this year. :)

The first project I chose, though I was already strongly leaning towards it in November an December, was decided by a few lovely reviews and a message I received about my gargoyles in Bewilder and Pine. The review was from a customer who purchased a Fennec Foxgoyle and custom ordered one other Catgoyle to go with it.

The note was actually from a customer who purchased one of my very first Bewilder and Pine Foxgoyles almost a year ago and who kindly wrote to let me know that she not only loved it when it arrived but, that a year on, she still looks at it every day and smiles when ever she sees it in her home.

That note came just as I was beginning the long process of creating the map you see below and, with just a bit of doubt creeping in as it tends to on any new. . . and large. . . project, it was the last little "push" I needed to allow me to dive in fully.

Kitsurada is the mythical home of the Foxgoyles in my fantasy world. I have so much to flesh out so I cannot tell you much more right now but I chose this project to begin with for two reasons. One, I LOVE maps! Old maps especially and most games I played or made up as a child included some sort of treasure map, star map, forgotten world map etc etc.

I've always made them, even in my 20's and 30's I'd doodle them here and there on napkins or scraps of paper. And I cannot fathom a fantasy novel that does not include a good, informative map! And as I may have mentioned before, the series that brought me back to rediscovering my love of comics and really, my desire to delve deeper into the makings of childhood too, "Mouse Guard" by David Peterson, first captured my heart with the lovely map of that small mouse-centered world.

The second reason is my love of the many varieties of Foxes. And the idea of making the mythical creatures of this part of the world something based on "stone magic" appealed to me greatly. 

Of course, the mythical creatures have their very own mythical creature too. . . ahh so much for reality. :) 

But this is Kitsurada. . . still very much in progress itself.

Part 16th Century Map and Part Digital art and a Lot of Imagination
This project began with an old 16th century map. Though I altered the main island, the form of it just seemed perfect and, being in the public domain, I borrowed that main landmass.  wiping it clean of it's interior, I set about adding the forests, the lakes and towns, the ring of volcanic formations, the portolan lines, compass rose and scrolls. . .  and the Japanese inspired wave pattern that runs through the oceans was what really brought it to life for me. The whale and ship are from another 15th century map and I created the Kitsu Isles to the right arranging them in a somewhat fox-like formation. :)

The volcanic spires in the sea that surround the land protect it from raiding parties of ogres and trolls making it an almost insurmountable defense. . . almost.

Each of the seven forests are named for one of the Foxgoyle Breeds that inhabit/protect the populated central part of the island. Fennec, Kit, Swift, Red, Corsac, Azaras and Sechura. There is also the mythic tale of a nine-tailed creature living on the Kitsu Isles. . . very much like the modern Kitsune Foxes.

There is a developing backstory to the foxgoyles origins and their purpose.  But what is most fun for me is that the story grows with each iteration. I just finished the first of the Fennec and Kit foxgoyles for the shop this year (see a few posts ago) and just making those has given me a whole added dimension to the story as I went along working on them.

In the end, later this year, I hope to have the Foxgoyle story as a stand alone mini-book, hand-bound and printed with map included, to offer thru the shop or as a special addition to a Foxgoyle figure.  Perhaps the book will have a mini-mini Foxgoyle to go along with it? Who knows!

Anyway, welcome to another part of my world. . . I hope it inspires and delights!

Thank you for looking!


Friday, January 1, 2016

New Work - January 2016

“Then up he got with a light heart, free from all his troubles, and walked on till he reached his mother's house, and told her how very easy the road to good luck was.”  - Jacob Grimm - Grimm Fairy Tales

The road to good luck, in creating, is really about balance. Finding the right mix of what people love with what we, as makers, love to do. It's very good luck indeed, and very easy, to e able to explore new work and new ideas. To me, it's the very epitome of happiness. 

My first-of-the-month blog posts will be a collection of new, unfinished and unreleased work to give you all an idea of what is coming from the shops and to talk a bit about what inspires these creations too!

This New Year post, let's just stay with mostly Bewilder and Pine: The last few weeks I have been creating SO many new items and organizing a year's worth of thoughts on direction and theme. 

So to kick it off, here are the newest and latest creations!

Beginning with. . . GARGOYLES!

A Bewilder and Pine gargoyle "standard" surrounded by new Foxgoyles and a Winged Catgoyle too!

Loving the faceted Swarovski Crystal eyes for the Foxgoyles!

I've been wanting to create an entire world/story/myth around these little ones for a few years now!

Next up. . . Mushroom Houses and Fairy Towers!

These are around 4.5" tall! Another item from my "really want to create" list for a year now.

Bringing back the little potted Fairy houses with some detail additions like textured walls and rooftops!

This is a variation on my original Stargazer House just much bigger & more appropriate to the telescope and moon I think!

And this little cutie with a spin-able winged finial on top!
And. . . the TINY ROBOTS!

Making these little rusty Tiny Robots is just pure bliss!

And finally a few examples from recent work in Shadow of the Sphinx as well:

Djed Pillar - Symbol of Stability and Strength

Two different Sekhmet lioness styles. Working on the "Lady of Light" always seems appropriate for the new year!
So that's a peek at what's going on here this New Years and I look forward to keeping up with the blog and sharing more with you all soon!

Have a very lovely New Year and make it creative and blissful ALL year long!